Log in

No account? Create an account

Jugheads on the Jarbridge


I met these two girls at the rainbow gathering. I was living in a hole for the week, my abstract gesture towards shelter pulled over my meager camp outfit in the dirt. I mean, I had a sleeping bag and a tarp. I'd traded something, two hits of acid?, for a sleeping pad, but I slipped crossing the river carrying it back to my hole and it took three days to dry.

That Jarbridge River is Wet!

I had a hat, a sky-blue fedora a girlfriend stole from our friend's used-clothes boutique knowing full well my friends would see me wearing it. That girl was a real Klepto. She stole a wedding dress from St. Vincent de Paul! She carried it out with her purse, after we, um, did a "Fantasy" turn in the dressing room. She returned the lingerie she'd been trying on....

I ran with that hat all the way to Mexico and back, sewing tokens and designs into it as I went, stitching all my travel dreams and treasures into my stolen piece of style, making that ill-gotten gain my own, as I'd once done with a stolen Cowboy Hat which along with my '65 Econoline Van got me laid. Three Times!

I lost that hat in the Jarbridge, chased it down the river for a mile, but the river wouldn't give it back, and I wasn't jumping in to save it.

That Jarbridge River is Cold!

There's a bridge just up the way crossing the Snake River between I-80 East to West and Twin Falls, Idaho. Evel Knievel tried to cross the Snake River there, but didn't make it. My ancestors tried to cross with wagons in 1843, but found the treacherous Snake the most formidable obstacle they'd faced thus far on the brand-new Oregon Trail. Funny, my food stamp card is called the Oregon Trail card. We're still blazing a trail from poverty to the promised land, which in my case appears like a mirage once a month when the card fills up.

My ancestors crawled and hacked their way through the sagebrush desert following the South bank of the Snake River, clawing their way through the most God-Forsaken trackless waste they'd seen thus far on the brand-new Oregon Trail back in 1843, a rolling grey-brown sandy deathtrap waist-deep in prickly sagebrush, thick with dust, treeless and broiling in the late July heat, a landscape rolling on for days, weeks in Wagon-Train times, a waterless desert with the cold pure Snake tempting, torturing the thirsty pioneers from deep within its unbreachable canyon.

That Snake River is the Devil's Brother!

A group of the ancestors of the same Native Americans who claimed the land the Rainbow camped on partied my ancestors out on August 1st, Jerry Garcia's Birthday!, in 1843. The locals brought Salmon, my ancestors provided Whiskey, and there was music and dancing well into the dawn's early light. An emigrant girl's journal records that it was "The most festive time we've had thus far!"

"...Thus far. Their journals always reflected the journey yet to be completed....

The locals didn't want us Rainbows there, except for one old Shaman who'd extended the invitation and fluttered about the Gathering in person, legend, and rumor while we white folks tried to organize an anarchic community of 20,000 or so mostly mindless souls.

I remember two warlocks fighting over the location of the dinner circle, with one prostrating himself before the other shouting, "It is I who am Humble! You are filled with the sin of Vanity! See how you strut! It will bring you down!" Meanwhile, a thousand people waited for dinner, which couldn't be served until "Council" was done, and now "Council" had degenerated into these two warlocks, the upright (physically, anyway) of whom won the battle with a withering salvo of insultive wit, "Now I see you crawling on your belly like the Snake you are!"

Long as it ended the "Council" and we got fed....

The California Trail followed the Jarbridge before heading off on waterless marches of several days duration to reach the Humboldt River, which the trail followed until the Humboldt just plain dried up. We Rainbows were so thirsty that several of us climbed right up the steep canyonside rather than hike the two-mile winding trail to the parking lot just because we were promised a cold beer at the top.

There was a cold beer up there, all right, for the six of us! And we had to carry a bunch of stuff back into camp for the guy who'd given us the beer! You know, I keep trying to make my experiences metaphorically meaningful, but sometimes they're just a boy's recollections of adventures with his friends. Oh, well.

I saw Venus bounce off the rim of that steep canyon, and I wasn't Even tripping on Acid. I saw it set and then appear again! In the morning's light, when I Was on Acid, I saw that Venus had fallen upon the crenallated castle wall of the canyon, had passed behind a Standing Stone, appearing just once more, a curtain call before setting to mark the end of June.

The Ancients made such markers to count the days. To truly see the canyon walls of the Jarbridge is to see a map of the country all around, a guide to routes and springs, tales of the people one might meet, and what dangers one should avoid. The pioneers on the California Trail couldn't read a word of it.

That Jarbridge River's a Killer!

Just this spring an elderly couple from British Columbia slid off the road beside the Jarbridge and a moth later the woman was rescued by hunters who found her starving and dehydrated after surviving 40 days on trail mix and Hershey bars. Her husband hiked off to find help and was never seen again.

I rode off the Gathering site in a van whose owners had burned it down inside so that the charred smell would throw off the drug-sniffing dogs. I dined and dashed at the first burger joint I found, a desert way-stop slash Honky-Tonk where they were making so much money from Rainbows who hadn't smelled Meaat! in weeks that they couldn't be bothered to take my money.

"Pay for the Hamburger!" the Rainbows in the burnt-out van shouted as they pulled away, leaving me to hitch a ride home with a traveling salesman. Oh! I almost forgot. Those two girls I met?

Oh, that Jarbridge River!

Bob's Birthday

     Sure, all the really cool people in my stories are named Bob.  That’s because of Bob.  Bob, born on 06-06-60.  Check it out.  Numerillogically it’s 000-666.  A triple-ought shotgun blast from Hell.  The born to be a bad influence best friend you wish you had, but I actually did.

     Today’s his birthday, 06-06-2011.  Numerillogically, that’s 7.  Perfect.  Today he’s helping to sail David Crosby’s beloved boat, “Mayan” back to Santa Barbara.  Bob told me a funny story about his first trip aboard Mayan, which will tell you a bit about Bob.

     Bob had been invited to help sail Mayan by the Santa Barbara Boatwright who ran Crosby’s Naval Crew.

      (Hold on, there’s a guy trying to sell my neighbor on painting his address on the curb.  He’s got a backpack full of stencils and reflective spray paint.  Wait a minute, he just told Crazy Terry, “I’ve seen a lot of Brain-Dead People.”  Now Terry’s giving him his Global Warming rap, and the guy, rather than running, replies, “What most people call a conspiracy, I call…” and I missed the last part.

     Now he says, “Yeah, you got the right rhythm to the wrong song, or like that…”  Now he’s running, trying to get away, there he goes!  Good Luck!)

     Bob was left standing on the dock with the last line cast off, and made an instant and unshakeable vow.

     “No Way! I am Not Missing This Boat!”  He jumped for Mayan’s rail.  He barely made it, the Boatwright hauling him aboard, Crosby eyeing him with pride.  He’d passed the first test, and, as Bob showed his character and skill, he earned himself another chance to crew on the Mayan for free.

     Which comes today, apparently.  His Birthday, Happy Fifty-one!  Here’s where we’ve passed what we’ve deserved and know better.  Here’s where the gravy becomes the main meal, where what’s left over is best left over and what’s new is best left well behind.

     Here is where we who’ve lived this long understand the looks we get from those who have lived longer.  Here is where we count our blessings, take them from the bank, and bet them on our one true love.

        Happy Birthday, Bob!  

Fourth of July

     The parade starts at my house!

      I like the jets, Oregon Air Guard F-16’s out of Kingsley Field over in Klamath Falls. Most people wait for their roar as their signal to head downtown for the parade. I rush outside when I hear that low, mysterious hum, hoping I’m looking in the right direction when they suddenly appear; without a trace or hint of their visible presence, a shy whisper falling over our heads like a cloak of silence and suddenly they’re there!

Almost eye-level from Bob’s house on the hill, deafeningly silent, as single-minded as wasps, but flying in eerie formation, dark cockpit glass obscuring the joy-stick jockeys aiming for the big hotel downtown, then hitting the afterburners and aiming for the sky.

You see that in many parts of the world, that’s the last thing you see.

Ted Nugent at the Britt Festival

     It's the early evening after the Ted Nugent concert.  The temperature is in the comfortably high 80's.  I'm walking up my tree-lined street to the Boulevard and on to Safeway for a forty-ouncer of Pabst, my second of the day.  I have a slightly unpleasant encounter on the way.  There's a guy with a dog who is getting a litte loose, running around in the streetside vegetation and such, ( the dog, not the guy) and the guy put a leash on the dog.

     As I pass them, I say "Thank you", figuring that the guy had leashed the dog so he wouldn't jump up on me, (the dog, not the guy) and the guy, in what was for me a perplexing umbrage, asks, "What for?"

     "For leashing your dog," I reply, "So he wouldn't jump up on me."

     "I leashed my dog," he retorts, (the guy, not the dog) "Because he wasn't paying attention." 

     A little flustered by the whole run-in, I sputtered, "Too bad they won't let us leash our girlfriends!" 

      Appalled by my own words, I hurried on to Safeway.

     Which brings me to Ted Nugent.  At one point during the show last night I was doing the Oliver Stone Doors movie Shaman dance and ted comes out for his encore wearing a faux-Sioux Indian headdress, which my girlfriend found incredibly politically incorrect and insulting to Native Americans, and shot an arrow from his compound hunting bow into the big white guitar he called "The Great White Buffalo", raised a semi-automatic weapon over his head and declared, "The whole world sucks!  But America sucks less!" 

     Then his band joined together in a re-enactment of the Iwo Jima flag raising ceremony.  I mean, my faux-paus are nothing next to this guy's attitude!  Peter Britt probably had that attitude.  He built his estate on the frontier.  He climbed the rim of Crater Lake in winter to take photographs a century ago, when few white men had ever seen the lake.  Which brings me to another thing Ted said.

     "There's too many white people here."  Then, quickly, so I didn't hear it, but my girlfriend did, and gasped in horror, Ted said,  "But that's probably how you like it!"  He followed this up with a crowd-pleasing and hilarious, "We're gonna teach you white motherfuckers how to dance!"  The guy's a straight shooter from Detroit.  He knows racism when he sees it, sees through the tree-lined streets of our fancy little town to the evil which sustains it.

     But Ted was just getting warmed up.  The decibel meter went from green to yellow to red to Double Red! and stayed there all night.  Ted said, "I ran into some Obama-loving shithead in Medford, and he told me they have a volume limit here.  A volume limit?  Well, I got your permit riight here!" 

     Then Ted, as loud as he could, shouted, "FU-UCK YOU!"

     It was the Best Britt Festival Concert Ever!

A Nice Little Town

    This is a really nice little town.  There are, like, seven Grateful Dead cover bands here in the valley, the Valley of Smoke, as the locals called it when my ancestor arrived all a-lust for adventure and found adventure too much hard work.

     He lit out for Idaho with a herd of stolen horses and spent his life on the Camas Prairie entertaining the locals by taking out his glass eye, and, through the science of ventriloquism, making it appear to speak, this in the 1860's.  His father found tritinium above Roseburg and staked a claim, but as they hadn't yet invented the Atom Bomb, he moved on before the claim paid off.  (See "Uranium mine tailings in Lakeview" to see how the bomb ruined our own country.)

     One ancestor stayed here in Ashland, became Sheriff, and died on the same day as his wife, both from food poisoning, the newspaper said, but it's just another chapter in the long tale of murder, jealousy, avarice, racism, greed, and intrigue that makes up the history and soul of our pretty little town.

     It really is a pretty little town.

     After a long, wet spring, everybody's gardens are in full bloom.  Wandering among the historical houses and low-rent apartments on my way to Safeway in the finally hot early July afternoon, I encounter deer taking refuge under porches and in shady backyards.

     If I encounter those same deer on our dark sidewalks at night, when the deer are staking out their claim to those same beautiful gardens I'd admired that afternoon, I give them a wide berth.  Those things attack!  They chased our friend's daughter all the way down the street!  I'm told by a man who's fought a deer that they're surprisingly strong, all muscle, and that they fight dirty.

     Good thing we've also got cougars in town, and there are several women here who walk with the wolves.

     It's a really nice little town.

     My neighbors and I have been doing each other small kindnesses.  Oh!  Did I mention that one night I saw a small herd of young extremist deer actually sneaking up on a group of college kids drinking on their front porch?  I rushed off so I wouldn't have to witness the results.

     What we really need here is Ted Nugent, but a couple more cougars would probably do.

     This really is a nice little town.

Captured by Indians!

Captured by Indians, an historical romance taken from the bare genealogical facts of one of my ancestors chosen at random.

mary abbott   b.1630 in Massachusetts, m. Thomas Walling 1651 in Connecticut. Source-Sandra J Miner

     “Captured by Indians!”  she cried,  “Oh! Help! Help! What will become of my Virtue?”

     “Your Virtue!, such as it is, will be split upon my mighty spit!”  He answered, lifting the Colonial Maiden, such as she was, easily into the air with his strong bronze arms, “To be eaten as the centerpiece of my Thanksgiving feast!”

     “Thomas!  You’ve gone native and turned blasphemous!”  Mary Abbot protested in feigned shock, having regained her feet and ground, if never her mental balance.

     “And Ribald!” Answered Thomas Wallen in riposte, he being equal, though never better than Mary in Wit, as well as in Sexual Enthusiasm, “Ribald enough to plant a new world within you!”

     “Oh, Thomas!  Would you really?”  Mary stopped her teasing and stared into Thomas’s grey-blue eyes, so brilliant against his copper-tanned skin, so clean in contrast to the youth’s torn and dirty clothes.  It was no wonder Mary’s brother Daniel hated Thomas so.

     Daniel was a prim, clean, purely Puritan Freeman of the Massachusetts Colony, an anal-retentive, jealous, greedy puppet of the autocratic leaders of this “Heaven’s Colony on Earth”, the “New World Home of The Righteous”, or, as Mary whispered to Thomas late at night through the chinks in Daniel’s thrift-built Puritan home, “The land of the arrogant yet poorly dressed.”

     No wonder so many Massachusetts Colony women and their adventurous children had been “Kidnapped by Indians.”  Living in the wilds in the Indian way was scarcely less tribulation than trying to scrape a Puritan Farmer’s living out of the bare Massachusetts soil, and a lot more fun.  To live in the Massachusetts Colony, Thomas said, was akin to sailing around the world and never leaving the boat.

     “This is the land of Adventure!”  Mary whispered to Thomas in their hidden woodland bower, to whence she had slipped away from the group of cranberry-picking Puritan women, whose petty jealousies and gossip smothered Mary like an old London Fog in her new world, “We need to meet adventure head on!”

     “Or head to crotch, as the old poet might say, “ Thomas recited from an old ribald poem, or perhaps straight from his heart, he never said, but out from his honest throat came the words, “Lip to lip, finger to toe, the fluttering bird in your throat singing upon my tall lone pine…”

     “Thomas!”  Mary gasped, around the impediment of his aforementioned tall lone pine, and what she may have said after was lost in the subsequent flood.


     “Mary! Where have you been?”  Daniel Abbott raised himself in umbrage as the 21 year-old woman skipped into their barren Massachusetts Colony home.  “The women reported you kidnapped by Indians!”

     “You wish!”  Mary shouted gleefully, pointing an accusing finger at her stern elder brother, who was only used to pointing that finger, not to being pointed at, “Then you’d get my three goats and my half of the yard!”

     “I’ve told you before, and the town council and courts agree: you can’t inherit until you marry.”  Daniel spat, and then let loose a cruel and haughty laugh.  “And who would marry you?  You’re an infidel, a fallen woman!

      “You and your three goats are mine as surely as they were our father’s!  Now go to your room!  I shall lock you in again, and again, I will lock you in until you learn the obedience to me you gave to our father!”

       The “Indian Raid” that evening took Daniel by surprise.  The beery smelling “Indian” who held the knife to his throat grunted in a decidedly English Midlands accent.  The attacker’s “Indian” attire was mostly old blankets and imported pantaloons torn into shreds and wrapped around the sunburned bodies of the Colony’s more “Active” young men.

      Within the fortnight, Mary Abbot had been “Rescued” in Connecticut, and was promptly married to Thomas Wallen, Esq., the youngest son of a middling to well-to-do Colonial family, and the Massachusetts Court was compelled to award Mary her three goats and the monetary value of half of the family yard, which Daniel, thrifty to the last, paid off by giving Mary all of the household furnishings.

     “Oh Thomas!”  Mary whispered to her husband when all her inheritance had come in, “This is the most beautiful bed!”

A Long Time Coming

A Long Time Coming


A Shakespearean Suspenselet based on the bare genealogical facts of an ancestor chosen at random.


     Robert Abell, Esq.   b.1500  d. 1597  Stapenhill, Derby, England


     Resident of Stapenhill, co. Derby, Eng.  He was named in a legal complaint of Walter Blount in about 1533 and in a deed in 1547, as well as the will of his son George in 1596.  He was probably the Robert Abell who was a tenant to Sir William Gryseley whom he served at Bryslincote during the reign of Henry VIII (1517-18)  wife: Helene  children: George, Anthonye, Robert Abell, Esq., Anne.

              Source: Sandra J Miner  Leland Family @2000



A Long Time Coming


     It won’t be long now.”  The village doctor set his bag upon the oaken table by the front door.  “The leg may have healed on its own, he’s broken bones before, but the infection will be fatal.”

     “For Christ’s sake, doctor, he’s 97 years old!  He was born in 1500.  Not long now?  I would say it’s been a long time coming!”  George, the old man Robert’s eldest son, paced the front room of Abell House, a good stone house set upon the rise of Stapenhill, in Derby..

     “If only he hadn’t lain in the pigsty all night after the fall, although I suppose that nasty knock on the head was the cause of that.”  The doctor cast a suspicious glance at George, but catching the middle-aged man’s steely, hateful glare, quickly lowered his eyes to the floor.

     “He was old.  He fell.”  Spat George, dismissing the doctor and then suddenly calling him back.

     “Can he speak?  Did he tell you anything?”  The doctor did not answer, but instead fixed the heir to Robert Abell Esq.’s estate with a gaze that unnerved George not for its conviction, not for its condemnation, but for its pity.  He grabbed the old doctor’s arm and shook him roughly.

     “Tell me, man!  Can he speak?”  Shouting, George threateningly raised his fist.

     “No.”  The Doctor replied, staring at George’s upraised fist as if it were the hammer of time, as if in that fist he recognized the destroyer who would come for him as surely as it was coming to the old squire, as if in George’s face he recognized the true murderer of us all; not time, not time alone, but the impatience of the times to come to be done with the times of old.

     He wondered at the old man, at the century he’d seen.  Had the old man seen that fist raised against him, against he who was born with the discovery of the New World?  Had he feared what these new times, this new world, might do to the world he knew?  Could he have foreseen what his own son might do to him?

     “No.”  The doctor said again, picking up his bag and pulling open for the last time the heavy oaken door to Robert Abell, Esq.’s sturdy old stone house.  “He will never speak again.”


     “Darling!  Why do you fret so?  You have the token.  The house and lands and living will all be ours.  I would think you would be glad to be done with the old man.”  George’s wife, Elleyne, came to his side and pulled him to the grand old sofa that filled the front room of Abell House.

     “He could accuse me of murder!”  Cried George, tearing from his wife’s side to pace the room again.  “I wish I’d hit him harder.  I left him for dead in that pigsty.  Why is he still alive?  He’s got something hidden up his sleeve, I know it!”

      “Darling,” Elleyne cooed, “You have the token.  When he’s dead, the barristers will have to give you the estate.  That’s what they told you, wasn’t it?  That the old man left a token by which his heir was to be known?”

     “That’s right,” George muttered. “A sign by which they would know him.  The rascal knew not the token’s nature, though we tortured him, nor where lay the token’s mate, though we tortured him some more, unto death.”

     “Yet you have this token now.”

     “I found the old man at midnight, trying to bury it in the pigsty.  I took it from him and killed him, but he will not yet die!”

     “The old man is dying.  This is no time to worry.  Come, hold me fast!”  Elleyne spread her bodice to entice her husband forward.  “Come to me, Lord of the Manor!”   Drawn by her, George ceased his pacing, turned to her, stepped towards her, only to be halted at her command.

     “After!”  She decreed, “Only After!  Now show me this token, this Golden Cloth of which you speak, the Cloth of Gold in which our fortune resides.  I command you, love, show me our fortune!”

     George fell upon her, pressed his manly parts upon her and lustily declared, “I show you my fortune, woman!”   After, he pulled from its hiding place a curious tube of metal, an archaic artillery shell, and took from within it a lump of hemp and linen, which, unwrapped, revealed an ancient tapestry of lions argent and fleur de lis embroidered upon a Cloth of Gold.

     “This must be from the old man’s service at Bryslincote with King Henry.  See the corner cut off here?  The barristers must have that corner.  This must be the token!”

      George held the scrap of cloth up to the sunlight, his eyes wide with greed. Suddenly, he sneezed violently, was seized with a fit of coughing and fell to the ground vomiting, spitting blood, piteously mewing, and, eyes wide with fear and with his stiffening, curling fingers grasping the Cloth of Gold, he ceased to breathe.

     Elleyne was, a moment later, taken with the same symptoms, and died.


     The old man in the black cloak who entered hours later, a cloth over his nose, eyed the dead bodies and proceeded down the hall to the library, shut close with heavy curtains, empty but for the labored breathing of Robert Abell, Esq.

     “Robert!  My Son!”  The black-clad old man cried as he rushed to the dying man’s bedside,  “What they have done to you, God has avenged.”

     “No, Padre,” croaked the bedridden Lord of the Manor, “That vengeance was mine alone, and for that I must confess.”

     “Of course, my son,” the old Jesuit murmured, pulling a crucifix and rosary beads from his cloak, “Though of the times we ourselves have shared, you need not confess.  Not the hiding of Protestants in Bloody Mary’s realm, nor the hiding of Catholics in Elizabeth’s ascendance, though your support of Lord Dudley may require a confession not of bad faith but of bad reason.”  Here the old cleric paused and lit an aromatic incense.

     “Then there is the matter of Anne Boleyn.”  The priest stared hard at the dying old squire.  “You betrayed her, laid her head on the block as surely as did Henry.”

      “No.  I betrayed only the poet,” the old man gasped, “And an awfully bad poet he was.  I could write better poesy than he!”

      “And better lay the Queen?”

      “Did better lay the Queen!  ‘Twould have been my head on that block rather than the poet’s if I hadn’t arranged things with Blount.  It cost me that corner of the Deep Wood in Law Court, it did.”   The old man glared over his hooked nose at the priest, who was not as old as he, but old enough and nearly as hook-nosed, and said accusingly, “You know that corner well.”

     “Less cost than your life,” the priest retorted.  “You have continued to use that corner well into the present day, whether it be on your land or Sir Blount’s.”  The priest softened and so did the old man.  Between them, over fifty years, they had shared secrets no others would ever know.

      The corner in question contained a secret cave, a hiding place, used in ancient days by smugglers, and in Robert’s own long days as a hiding place for Catholics in Protestant times and for Protestants in Catholic times.  For Robert Abell, Esq., the corner held another secret as well.

     “Father, I must confess, I am not the man I was.”

     “None of us are,” whispered the old Jesuit.

     “I am not Robert Abell,” the dying man confided, “I am not the father of Anthonye nor George.”

     “Eh?” asked the father, surprised.

     “I killed Robert Abell many years ago, killed him for spite, killed him for no reason, killed him in a drunken brawl.”

     “But how?  How have you been pretending to be him all these years?”

     “Padre, though I have confessed to murder, what I tell you now you must promise never to reveal.”

     “Robert!”  The priest protested, “I am a priest!”

     Robert laughed, long and hard, ending in a coughing fit and a period of labored, raspy breaths.

      “Before I killed her husband, I was his wife’s lover.  I became the Lord of the Manor with her connivance and consent.  Blount knew, and I had to pay him off, just as I had to pay him off again later with that corner of land.  It’s always something with that man.  He owns me through and through!”

     “And this token?” asked the priest, “The key to your inheritance?”

     “That, at least, will never fall to Blount, though he may cheat and lie to try to steal it. It’s in the hidey-hole of course, on Blount’s corner of my land.  That’s why George never found it.  He never paid attention to our history, never paid attention to anything but his own desires.  He searched my land high and low for the token.  He followed me around, hoping I’d reveal where I’d hidden it.  That’s why I let him catch me burying the artillery shell and that cloth of gold.  They belonged to the original Robert Abell, George’s father.  You might say George recovered his inheritance after all.”

      “You poisoned the Cloth of Gold?”  The priest gestured towards the front hall, where George and Elleyne lay murdered.

     “It was always poison!  The man was a beast!  Just look at his son!  I rescued Helene, and now I’ve rescued my legacy for my own true son. All that’s left is a bone I have to pick with you.”  The dying man reached up to grab at the Jesuit’s lapels with one surprisingly still-strong hand.

     “You did not come to give Helene last rites, though I called for you.”  The dying squire accused the priest.  “Why?  It was because you were in the pay of the Blounts, and they told you not to come. My dear Helene burns in hell because of you and the Lord Sir Blount.  Damned be him, and damned be you!”

     Shocked, the old priest tried to escape the squire’s grasp, but could not.

     “Damned because you’re in the service of the Blounts!”  The dying man cried.  “Damned because you would take all I’ve earned, steal it from my heirs, and give it over to my enemy.  Because you would betray me, that is why I kill you!”

     The old man pulled a glass ampule from beneath his bedclothes and crushed it beneath the priest’s nose, shouting as the priest gasped in terror,  “In the cave are Richard Abell’s bones.  The token is the very bullet I shot through his evil heart.  The barristers have the gun.  My true son Richard will find the bullet on Blount’s land.  He’s listened to the histories, he’s listened to the stories, he knows about the hidey-hole.  My secrets will lie upon his heart alone.  None other will reveal them.  History will not abuse my family’s future.  My legacy is saved.”

      With this, both priest and squire expired, as does this tale.



A Torn Cloth of Gold

A Torn Cloth of Gold


a Tudor Romancelet based upon the bare genealogical facts of one of my ancestors chosen at random.

     John Clere;  of Dedham, Essex, England; b. 1492, d. 1538, wife- June

          Source:  Sandra J. Miner, Leland Family  @2000

A Torn Cloth of Gold


     “Monsieur!  You are not ill?  The storm has everyone else aboard, eh, how you say, il vomite?  You Englishmen may be great drinkers, but sailors?  Not so much.”

     “I was born to be a sailor!” exclaimed the young man standing at the prow of his Excellency the Bishop of Dedham’s transport ship, which was plowing its heavily laden way through the storm-tossed English Channel towards Dover.

     “Then perhaps we’ll share a bottle of my country’s finest wine to ease the crossing.”  The Frenchman, short and light in stature, his cloak tightly wrapped against the wind and pelting rain, produced a large and open earthen bottle wrapped in flaxen twine and silver thread.

     “I stole it from the gifts we’re bringing for your Bishop.”  The Frenchman flashed a quick, sly smile from underneath his hood.  “I’m sure our Lord won’t mind.”

     The Englishman, a simply dressed yeoman from the Bishop’s lands in Dedham, stood with the cloak of his own hood thrown back, his black hair blowing in the wind.  Letting loose the rail, the young yeoman, firm and energetic in his mid-twenties, fearless in the face of nature’s bluster, welcomed his new French friend and his expensively wrapped bottle of wine.

     “Our Lord is loving, Our Lord is kind.  Forgiveness is Our Lord!”  He cried lustily, in the manner of the more alcoholically ecstatic priests and friars of both their countries.  “My name is John Clere.”

     “Ah!  Clere.  Like your eyes.  They are as blue as the ocean.  You say you were born to be a sailor?”

     “Born in 1492,” John Clere replied, “When Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

     “Ah!  A poet as well!”  The Frenchman flashed another quick smile, more satirical than sly this time.  “And have you often been to sea?”

     The little Frenchman peered at John Clere from beneath the corner of the tightly drawn hood of his cloak.  The young man’s face was square and bold, his expression bright and excited as he leaned into the storm.  Salty spray dripped from his unflinchingly high brow, covered his slightly flared cheekbones, ran down the straight, narrow bone to the slightly cleft bulb of his nose, coated his full, firm lips, gathering at last upon the sturdy chin that formed the anchor to his wide and hopeful face.

     “This is but my second voyage.  The first was just this spring, to France, for this very festival of the Field of the Cloth of Gold.  My Bishop attended King Henry in his diplomacy.  I attended the Bishop’s attendants.  And you?  You seem at ease at sea.”

     “I am at ease with adventure, and this is an adventure!  I attend my Lord in his attendance upon your Bishop.  A whole year I am to spend in England.  A whole year before I see again my well-loved native land.  What am I to do?” 

     The Frenchman smiled again, this time in open friendship.  “Like yours, my name is Jean, pronounced in the French manner, of course.”

     “The French manner!  Are you certain that there is only one?  I have spent a season being entertained in the French Manner, and never twice was the protocol the same!”

     “You speak of French diplomats?”

     “No,” John Clere laughed,  “I speak of French women!”

     Jean joined in laughing, and together they finished the bottle of wine.

     “It seems a shame to throw away this fine bottle just because the wine is done,” he murmured, eyeing the silver threads wrapped among the flaxen twine. 

     “Now you’re speaking of French women!” John shouted above the rising wind.  “Oh, that I could bring that bottle home and fill it up again!”

     “Monsieur! The wine has loosed a naughty tongue, and maybe yet a secret tale.  Am I to understand you took a lover from my country?”

     “I would have you understand I fell in love!”

     “And yet you have left her behind.  How sad.”  Jean lowered his face, coughed to clear a sudden catch in his voice, and began to worry at the silver threads around the empty bottle.

     “It is sad.”  John agreed, turning to stare at the foaming water at the bow.  “I am brokenhearted.”

     “Truly?  I had not thought Englishmen so sensitive.  More the marauding invader type.”  Jean laughed, but stopped when the young Englishman turned to him with salty tears joining the sea spray upon his cheeks.  “Pardon me, I don’t mean to make fun.  You loved her, truly?”

     “Loved her?  I love her still.  We shall meet again, I swear it.”  John looked at Jean, challenging him to disagree.  Jean returned the gaze, staring the distraught young lover in the eye for the first time, noting the pain burning through even the effects of the wine.  A small empathetic tear formed at the corner of Jean’s own eye, even as a coy smile toyed with the edges of his small, finely formed lips.

     “We shall meet again, as well, mon ami.  I offer you a token to ensure it.”  Jean held up two small hanks of silver thread taken from the wine bottle.  “Tie one of these around my finger.  I shall tie the other around yours.  There may be enough silver in each to buy half a dram of wine.  When we meet again, if our fortunes still be lively, we shall join these rings into a whole dram and share it ‘round a fire.”

     “’Tis well done!” cried John, “We can truly say we tied one on.  This must be the French manner, because my love left me a token as well, and I left one with her; tokens well beyond our threads of silver, tokens which, if discovered by any but our own true love would mean our death.”

     “You have my interest, mon ami.  I would hope as well, as we are pledged as friends, that I have your trust.  Pray tell me, what of this woman, and what tokens have you pledged?”  Jean placed a small, fine hand upon John’s chest, to look him in the eye again.  John noticed that the Frenchman’s hood was slipping, that blonde hair was showing underneath.

     “She was blonde, like you.  Her hair was the color of the tents of cloth of gold our kings sat under on the field.  Her heart was bold as any king’s, her manner more capable, her divine right more clear, her love more true.  Our tokens are of the highest standard; not half a dram, nor half a tun, but half a living, and melded, some besides.”

     “Were it discovered, it would mean your life?”  Jean tossed the empty earthen bottle, stripped of its silver, and so now nothing but an empty earthen bottle, into the angry waves.  “Why risk keeping it?  The woman remains in France, you will never see her again.”

     “Never to join this token with its mate would mean never to have lived.” 

     “Truly?  She means more to you than life itself?”  Jean’s face was fully exposed now, small and fine like his hands.  His eyes, like John Clere’s own, shone a brilliant ocean blue.  John, his head hung sobbing into his chest, did not see them, nor did he see the long golden strands of hair escaping Jean’s hood.

     “Why do you doubt me?  Must I show you the token?”  John cried angrily, reaching beneath his cloak.  “My love and I were bold.  We slipped into the King’s Ceremonial Tent on that last night and cut ourselves a worthy piece of the very Cloth of Gold!”

      Producing the scrap of cloth, John saw for the first time that his new friend was not a man, was instead a beautiful young maiden, was holding in her hand an identical scrap of the Cloth of Gold.

     “Jean?” he faltered, eyes growing wide.

     “No, you silly English goose,” she whispered huskily, pulling him close and kissing him in the French manner.  “June.  Your June.  Forever your June.”



A Forced Marriage

a Shakespearean romancelet based upon the bare genealogical facts of an ancestor chosen at random.


Jane Seyliard

  married to Sir Richard Cotton, 1578, in St. Olave’s Jewry, London.

  died about 1593


     “Sir Richard!  You mustn’t!”  Jane hissed, pushing her grasping, middle-aged suitor away as vigorously as one could push a wealthy, if debauched, Knight of Queen Elizabeth’s Realm, which was not very vigorously at all.

     A word from Sir Richard to the Queen could close down the playhouses.  London was already on edge with rumors of a Spanish Armada sailing for England’s southern coasts.  Attendance was down in the playhouses, what with half the town fleeing inland, and the other half rushing to Dover, hoping to watch a sea battle.

     Jane had become Sir Richard’s mistress when the war scare caused his father’s household to flee to their Midlands estates.  The 40 year-old knight of the realm, let loose upon London with his father’s money, yet without his father’s watchful eye, had launched upon a spree of debauchery which led one night to his appearance at her tenement door, attended by armed guards and an irresistible proposition.

     How could she refuse?  She was hungry.  The whole acting troupe was hungry.  Sir Richard’s patronage could see them through the season, if she kept his favor.  Jane had to become the fat old knight’s lover; no matter that she loathed him, no matter that she ridiculed him when she ate with Will, the young pickpocket who worked the playhouse.

     Will was hungry too.  When he picked a pocket in these hard times, he stole food.  He shared his stolen rolls and meat-pies with Jane backstage between performances.  When times were better, Will stole coins from gentleman’s purses and jewels from noblewomen’s clothes.  Sometimes Jane would go out on the streets with the child, posing as his mother.  Dressed in costume finery borrowed from the theater, with the freshly scrubbed young master by her side, no one ever suspected them of their crimes.

     What Will liked to steal most, however, was books.  He would bring them to Jane’s corner of the croft-holder’s tenement she shared with other members of the troupe.  The actors would teach the two to read by acting out and dramatically declaiming passages from the pilfered printed works, and steal plot ideas from the juicy revelations they found in stolen private journals.

     “Richard!  You mustn’t!”  Jane cried again, struggling for real this time.

     “I can, Woman, and I will!”  the sweaty knight growled.  “The court is off to war.  The city is deserted.  You will marry me in St. Olave’s, Jewry, this very afternoon!”

     “But, Sir!”  the young woman pleaded, her pushing fists turned to a desperate grasping at the jeweled lapels of the debauched knight’s greasy cloak.

     “You cannot marry me, a commoner, a penniless woman, a bawdy woman,” and here Jane sobbed in shame, “A woman of the theater!  What will your father say?  What will your father do?  You cannot possibly marry me!”

     “You will be my consummated wife long before my father returns from the Midlands.  From that moment, you will have no past before me.  You will have no existence beyond me.  You will be the Lady Cotton!  The deed will be done.”

     “But what if I don’t desire the deed be done?” Jane thought as her foul knight grasped her arm and kissed her roughly on the lips.  His sour breath nearly made her faint, made her helpless as Sir Richard’s armed guards carried her roughly from the theater, to become the unhappy Lady Cotton.

     Only Will, the pickpocket, saw them carry her away.  Only Will, the reader, saw her tears.  It was Will, the future poet, who watched her go.  It was Will, the broken-hearted, who said, “I will not forget you, my dark lady.  I will never desert you, pretty Jane.”

     It was Will, the future playwright, who, upon her death in 1592 from loneliness, said,  “I will never write poetry again!  I will be a hack of the theater; a piggy, greedy, glover’s son.  I will suffer as my dark lady suffered, with a surfeit of riches and a dearth of love.”

     …and so became Will Shakespeare.   

My First Pro Football Game

     Two Raider fans left at dawn, charging up the pass!, in, due to sudden circumstance, a minor traffic accident on Halloween is all, for truth, though still, it's better than what had happened to that football team of late, which is how we got two tickets so cheap, and so, better late than never, but still late, we charged that VeeWee up the mountain!, into the face of the first storm of winter, the worst in seven years, which is also what they were saying about the Raiders that season.

     Seriously, we were driving my '73 Volkswagen Bug into the face of a winter storm so fierce that only the howling winds kept the windshield clear, as the wipers were blowing uselessly, if excitedly, in the Blizzard as we slid our way around that sweeping corner built like an amusement park ride along the mountainside climbing into Weed, where we couldn't stop, because we'd just started, and we Raiders had a long, long way to go.

     We stopped in Dunsmuir for gas and a reality check.  Yes, it was snowing like hell.  Yes, people were still driving, so, No..., we Weren't crazy.  Except...except all those other folks had modern four wheel drives and semi-trucks, ABS, headlights that weren't just for looks, window defrosters, heaters, and radios that would have filled that big hole in my Volkswagen's dashboard where the winter's winds swept in.

     I've torn everything out of that car that doesn't make it run.  Flying down the south side of Mt. Shasta I was wiping the windshield, pumping the brakes, riding the clutch, fighting the wheel, gasping for breath, and freezing my ass off.  I was dodging trucks, chugging beer, and holding my eyes tight shut as we crossed that damned high narrow bridge before we settled into Redding, where a crosswind held me tight to the wheel until we finally pulled off at Anderson Valley to smoke a bowl.

     It went on that way down the valley, and it only got worse as we entered Bay Area traffic, the rain turning to hail, and the San Francisco drivers acting like they had to get home before the Big One hit again.  I was well into my fourth beer and a migraine when we stopped for gas and directions.  A very nice black lady, a customer at the gas station, gave us our directions and sent us on our way.

     We pulled onto the freeway again, rush hour traffic pulling us 70 mph and another beer through Berkeley, Oakland, and into San Leandro.  Two really nice drunk black dudes at the corner liquor store sent us back on the freeway another exit or two, where we found the motel our friend had reserved for us on the Internet.

     I don't want to suggest that this was one of Those motels, but late on a Friday afternoon, those were Awfully Fake Furs those Very Suggestively Dressed young ladies were wearing, and the Gentlemen accompanying them to and fro from the rooms were Awfully Big, and wore an Awful Lawt! of Diamond Rings!  Turns out, they were Raider Nation, all come in to see the game.

     I ventured up the street to the 7-11 for more beer, noting the steel-barred windows and the dirt bare lack of yards.  A machine shop barricaded itself behind corrugated steel and big signs warning about their dogs.  The owners of the house next door had the machine shop build a big corrugated metal gate to block Their driveway, and posted even Bigger signs warning about Their dogs!

    The first time I looked out the motel room door, a huge lightning strike hit just a block away. I opened the door to a blinding flash and a deafening roar.  The second time I opened the door, a car rounding the corner on the elevated freeway outside our motel started hydroplaning, started spinning, spun around three times, crashed into the median barrier, throwing sparks as it crossed back across the freeway to crush three small shrubs before coming to a crooked halt in the roadside landscaping.

     We spent the night at Ricky's Sports Lounge, "Home of the Raiders".  Actually, we spent most of the night Outside of Ricky's.  There was a long line to get in, and a ten dollar cover charge.  In line were people from all over California and the West Coast, and even some from the Midwest and New York.  One guy was wearing a Minnesota Vikings jacket, but no one gave him any trouble over it.

     Inside, a live band played old rock and roll songs with newly-written Raider lyrics.  We toured the exhibits of Oakland Sports Stars, but we're not from Oakland, so we didn't know any of the players.  We drank, danced to the band, and listened to several different drunks tell us how they'll never forgive Old Al Davis for once moving the Raiders to LA.

     You start drinking that way on a weekend, you'd better not stop.  Sunday morning, I walked up to the 7-11 for coffee and a six-pack, noticing along the way that all the cars parked on the street had their windows broken out during the night.  We headed back to Ricky's for breakfast and more beer, no cover charge on Sunday morning, just some hard-drinking, carbo-loading Raider Fans packing down the Bacon Bloody Marys.     

     We actually couldn't find Ricky's, we'd been that drunk the night before.  We were walking below the bart tracks beside the storm water canal, checking out the shopping carts and broken bottles, we were wandering around the parking lots at the BayShore Mall, smoking bowls and drinking beers as we searched for the magic Raider's lounge, but a nice, really good-looking black guy in a track suit showed us the way.

     The plan was to ride bart to the Oakland Coliseum, so we retrieved my Volkswagen from the motel, drove to bart, parked in a spot where lots of people would see my hippy paint-job, and went to the platform to get tickets.  We were staring at the maps and the ticket machines, completely confused because in our little town we barely have buses, and they don't run on schedules, but a nice black teenager showed us where we were, where we needed to go, how much it would cost and how to buy our tickets.  We Needed tickets, because the alternative was to jump the turn-style, and there were transit police on the platform, so we'd have gotten busted if we'd tried to ride for free.

     But if the cops were on the platform, that meant we were free to finish our beers and get more stoned in the parking lot.  Parked next to us were a couple of Stoners from Stockton with a 12-pack of Miller High Life, the Champagne of Beers, a bag of pot, third-level 50 yard line seats, and a bunch of psychedelic mushrooms.  They loved my hippy-painted Volkswagen.  We smoked and drank and climbed onto the train together, where someone started cracking jokes in the standing-room only game-day crowd, and we all laughed as a sage and serene black woman cackled,  "You people are out of control!"

     Of course we were out of control.  We were Raider Nation!

    Pro football in person is everything Hunter S. Thompson said it was.  Crassly commercial; in terribly bad taste, from the spin-the-wheel for a free prize from the mobile phone company, where we won a ballpoint pen, to the Raiders memorabilia vendors in the parking lot, there was an awful lot of tacky stuff for sale, all of it in silver and black...

      Pathologically hedonistic; all suburban mores and common sense tossed to the winds with the fourth beer at ten am.  We stumbled through the parking lot ducking between cars to smoke hash-filled joints.  At one point, I had three beers, two joints and a pipe in my hands all at the same time...

      Pathetically force-fed; fat-filled fried foods competed with charred and bleeding animal carcasses roasting on the spit, spittle dripped from double chins of the uninhibitedly overfed inhabitants of Raider Nation.  Four dogs and a rack of ribs into the morning, there's a bucket behind the pickup but no one needs it, there's plenty of room beneath those Raider Jerseys, though it may get a little tight squeezing through the arteries around the heart.... 

     The blood-lust is up.  The rage is raging.  Testosterone and Bovine Growth Hormone, steroids to strengthen the Stupid side of the American Soul, surge through the crowd as we down our last beers, smoke our last bowls, stuff that last damn chicken down our gullets, bypass the already almost unusable Porta-Potties, and charge up the ramp toward the gaping maw of the concrete beast, the open jaws of the cement monster, the cavernous entry to the Oakland Coliseum, home of the Raiders, and perhaps one day soon, detention center for all those hippies over in Berkeley.

      The Black Hole!  The famous booster section in the end zone!, where touchdown-scoring Raiders leap into the seats and throw footballs to the fans, where face-painted, body-armored, hairy chested, burning-bearded behomeths, the Bad Boys of the Bay, hold court on winning Sundays, sloshing suds and elbowing little white guys like me out of camera range on Monday nights when the Raiders are on National TV.

     It had been a long time since a winning Sunday for This team, there was no reason This year to put the Raiders on Monday nights.  The running backs and receivers were so slow and out of breath that they couldn't get the ball in the end zone, none the less make the leap into the stands.  This team hadn't scored a touchdown in three weeks! 

     So for us the Black Hole was exactly that.  Two seats in the end zone, in a stadium where the field is sloped up for drainage so that we couldn't see any action past the nearest thirty yard line.  Even our views of the Jumb-Tron View Screen was blocked by the goalpost.

     The fan behind us is so disgusted in the first quarter that he tears up his ticket and stomps out.  Maybe he had money on the game, which would have been a tragedy.  By halftime, the Atlanta Falcons were beating the hometown Oakland Raiders by a score of 24 to 0.  The Raiders had a total yardage; offense, defense, And special teams, of minus three.  We decide to go look for those Stoners from Stockton in their top-deck fifty-yard line seats. 

    To get anywhere in the Bay area, it seems, you have to follow the signs pointing you to somewhere you don't want to go.  To get out of San Francisco, follow the signs to San Francisco.  Trust that somewhere down the line there's a "I really want to go the other way now" exit, and that you don't end up eventually, and again, in downtown San Francisco, four bucks flatter for the tolls. 

     A Very Beautiful young black woman in flashy clothes and four-inch heels was lost as well, and we found our way to the third tier by following the signs to the second tier, turning around, heading the other direction!, and then heading Up.  And Up, and Up, and, looking once again at her ticket, Up Again!  I was way, way, Way Too Drunk! to be up that high.  A teeny tiny knee-high railing kept me from falling, but a vertiginous despair, and shame over the Raiders performance that day had me leaning towards the edge.

     Beers were scandalously expensive, so when this young white guy offered me a bottle of Schnapps, I eagerly toasted his health.  Then we toasted the health of the Raiders on their way to a number one draft pick.  I wisely declined to toast the health of Old Al Davis, who once had the nerve to move the team to LA.     

Then I threw up over the railing, and watched my vomit spiral down what seemed like a thousand feet to the ground, and felt good enough then for yet another shot, in farewell to my new-found friend and his newly-emptied bottle of Schnapps.

     The smoking section was caged, tiny, and full.  I bummed a couple of hits off some joints, but when I hit up the guys with the crack pipe in the corner, I had a "Dorothy's not in Kansas anymore" moment, and decided I'd had enough drugs for the day.  We left early, the Raiders behind 24-3, bart leisurely and uncrowded, a couple of beers waiting for us in the VeeWee, and easy directions home. 

     Just take the 8 to the 80, they told us.  Which I swear I would have done, until I saw the signs that told me I was heading for Stockton....

<input ... ><input ... ><input ... ><input ... >