Phonehenge North News

ITEM: Now hanging with Oz. He doesn’t want his real name to be used, just his street name so the homeboys will know. Figuring I was going to jail in the near future, I did some tractor work for Oz to sort of kiss up. He’s a mover and shaker in the State Prisons on all sorts of levels I don’t even want to know about. I figured some pals on the inside wouldn’t hurt. When I first met him, he was reticent to say one word to me. After five tequilas, he loosened up a little. I’ve never seen him nude but what is showing is tattooed. Pretty gory ones peak out of his shirt collar. Some horned demons maybe? Anyhow, he’s connected all over the State. He’s in his forties so I’m considered an old man and no threat. Caught a break there. Plus, he liked my tree house and hates authority. Kindred spirits.

ITEM: After eight drinks to my one, Oz filled me in on his life. He has 16 brothers and nine sisters. Most by different mothers. His dad got around. Oz has only met the ones dropped off at their house in the middle of the night when he was growing up and raised with him at his mom’s house. His dad was only there to get the probation department guys off his back.

Once his dad left the dinner table, answered the door to some guy shouting at him, shoots the guy three times and drags him in the house. He sits back down at the table and ate while waiting for the police. They were North of Fresno picking artichokes living in a cropper shack. When the cops came, they listened to Oz’s dad’s version of the guy threatening his family while they look down at the blood trail off the porch into the front room. They call the morgue guys and adios. Just another dumb Mexican. Who cared. Oz says his mom raised them all, no questions asked. They were blood and that was that.

A lot of Oz’s bro’s are well respected in prisons all over California and Arizona. I figured to throw his name and gang sign around a lot if incarcerated. Oz says his people really run the prisons. It’s huge money. I asked him to leave the details out in case I was ever asked to take a polygraph.

ITEM: I tell him a couple of phone man stories and he interrupts me right in the middle of one. “Hey, dude. I know a freaky wire story I bet you haven’t heard!” O.K. ‘shoot’, says I. Oz’s story: “At Mira Loma is where all the immigration cases go. Some bro’s have been there for years man. Waiting on appeals and stuff. One of my cousins is there right now, looking at deportation. It’s his third time and he still comes back. They say it’s adios forever if they pick him up again. He’s cool though so they cut him some slack since he’s a good worker and can drive tractors and things like that. He’s on the grounds crew. It will cut him time served and good time if he wins. Out of his cell time if not. He tells me they get this job a couple of years or so ago that was a real mind blower!”

It hits me as he says the last sentence. It’s going to be the conduit deal. My wife Pat is an immigration attorney. She was at Mira Loma while doing some Pro Bono when all the lights went out and the sirens went off. Everyone thought it was a break out. Nope. Only if it had been. I stay quiet and wait to hear it from Oz. He had taken two more shots and looked like the kind of guy I wanted to stay on the good side of. I just met the guy and knew zip about how booze affected him. Oz confirms my suspicion on being able to change in an instant.

He’s staring at me intently. I look him right in the eye. “They get told by a prison guard to dig up some of the grounds for some reason or another. About four or five guys I think. They had full run of the yard and the tool shack from being on the crew so long. All the guards knew them well. The guard who was supposed to watch them takes off and leaves them on their own. My cousin says they hit a big rock. They can’t dig around it so they go to the tool shed and get the electric jackhammer. After some long extension cords this dude jumps into the hole and starts hammering the big rock!” As Oz took the rest of my drink down, I say, “And the guy got fried. My wife was their with a client the day it happened. It knocked all the power out in that wing of the jail. Killed the guy. He hammered into 10,000 volts in a cement electrical conduit!”

ITEM: First, don’t wreck a new pal’s story. Oz just shuts up and gets a mad look on his mug. I tell him I’m sorry. I buy us another round. Oz says a surly, “ No man, I gotta go!” I tell a couple of jokes and get him back into a better mood. I then ask him to continue. To let me hear his side of the story. Leaning back in his chair he’s blocking the aisle at the small bar were in. Everyone takes one look at him and walks around to the other aisle. Crossing his arms Oz shuts his eyes and it looks like he was falling asleep. Nope. He was just thinking. Opening his eyes into slits he suddenly leans forward almost hitting his head on our table top. Catching himself he rests his arms on the table and almost whispers so low I can’t hear him over the Tex-Mex blasting from the next room. “That dude that fried? He’s in their wiring and phones!” I keep my mouth shut this time. Oz continued. “Everyone there has heard him crying for help in the back of phone calls. Low, but he’s there man. Lights flicker. Bulbs blow. Gates freeze up and won’t click open, or, stay jammed open or shut. All kinds of freaky stuff!”

ITEM: I end up taking off after this part of the story. Two hot babes came in and Oz left me like I carried the plague. He left me the tab, too. I had to use my propane bill dough to get out of the joint. Back at home I tell my wife Pat the story Oz had laid on me. She says he’s absolutely correct. She’s heard a dozen stories from everyone from Sheriffs to the vendors who do the laundry and food contracts. My wife Pat helps everyone for free most of the time so everyone gravitates to her for legal advice. She gets along with everyone just about. When I piss her off, I get the frown and pout face. You don’t want to get that for too long. I’d rather be clothes lined by the Hulk. So, what Oz had said is true. Boy, what a wild deal.

ITEM: While we we’re moving to our new place since the 22 County people that kept coming out jammed up our bathroom, we had to move these ancient artifacts Pat’s mom has collected for decades. We had them since the room they were in down in the valley had Indian drums coming out of it on occasion, and, Indian ghosts passing through the walls. Swell. They’re Inca, Mayan, Toltec and such. I told Pat it was okay with me. I didn’t bump them off and didn’t want to mess with their totems. I figure we’ll give them to the appropriate museums or tribes when the time is right.

One thing I can’t stand is a grave robber. That’s all it is when you dig open burial chambers or take bones and items from rocky clefts the Navajo and Hopi use. I think the Havasupi and Pima do their dead differently. Whatever. I’ve seen a couple of private collections that made my blood boil. These guys treated sacred bowls, pipes, weapons, hunting gear, god totems and such like it was just a big treasure hunt. They showed me all the special tools and tricks they knew to find buried chambers. Then, when I got ticked, they THREATENED ME. Oh yeah! I had better keep this to myself or else stuff. I figure they’ll get what’s coming to them without any help from me.

Back to these totems Pat’s mom has. When Pat put the box on the back seat of her crew cab truck, our dog jumped into the front seat as usual but this time he did something out of the ordinary. Not only did he start barking frantically at the box, he also jumped out and barked at something in the bed of the truck that only he could see. Now, I wasn’t there, but, I had the same thing happen to me when Pat was gone and I let the mutt into the barn because it was raining. Pat had just brought the box home and had left it on our kitchen table. It was dark and rainy a few nights later and Pat was still in the valley. As the dog ran to the kitchen to wipe out the cat’s food dish, he slid to a stop, pissed all over the floor and backed up to the bridge door. Hackles up and wild-eyed. I opened the door and he ran back to his dog house on the bridge. I took the box downstairs to Pat’s law office and put it in one of her empty file cabinets. I never told her about it. She gets scared easily. Not good with her ticker questionable at times.

I’ve sat and watched the box a few times while fixing weed eaters or what ever in the blue barn. Never seen a thing. I talk to it. I wonder if they get along with all the local spirits from the Pauite burial grounds just across the valley from us. There’s also cave drawings and cliff homes. I guess they’re pretty happy. The cats who live in the barn are happy as clams.

ITEM: I went back up to Quail lake looking for Oscar the other day. I meet this fellow named Cliff sitting in a small 4×4 writing something. He’s parked where the gate will hit so I went over to yak it up and see if he would pull forward a bit. A nice guy. He was on the clock it turned out. His job was to patrol the new dirt road put in for the Turbine company’s 18 wheelers hauling electrical reels of high tension wire, turbine tower parts and the blades themselves. Some of the blades are 75 foot long. He kept count of all the road kills. Yep. From deer to bear to squirrels and rabbits. He kept a tally. I asked him what it would mean in the long run. He just shrugged his shoulders and said nothing. He started up his little van and drove away.

ITEM: Now I’m on five years probation. Hey, it’s a lot better deal then my buddy Clem got. The N.A.T. Team jack boots killed him. First they tortured him, then they killed him is actually what happened. A tiny little guy in his nineties. Deaf and on his way out. He lived in this tiny house surrounded by his stuff off of Sierra Highway near Sand Canyon for fifty years or more. As a kid, I would join up with other kids to toss frozen hot dogs to his little mutt guard dog and take bike parts from a giant pile of bikes he had stacked up. Since he was usually half-blasted at the V.F.W. just up the road within walking distance, it was a piece of cake. We were joking about how easy it was to rip him off at Soledad Sands Park one day, and I got straightened out by a vet sitting at the next picnic table. The guy knew Clem and wasn’t too happy about our bragging. He sat down next to me, told us to shut up and smarten up. He then told us about a place called Tarawa.

If you asked a Marine it was called, ‘BLOODY TARAWA’. Two of my buddies took off mocking the man. Frank Angelostro and I kept our seats. My dad died in Korea. I’d hear this story out and show some respect. Clem was in the first wave of men that hit the beach on Tarawa. Out of a hundred and fifty guys in Clem’s unit, eleven made it off the island in one piece three days later. Point blank fire from cement pillboxes ten foot apart. No cover. The tank men refused to drive over the dead and wounded stacked like cord wood everywhere you looked. It cost them their lives. Multiple high velocity rounds knocked turrets completely off the chassis with in minutes. The Marines did what they always do. They landed more guys and hit the Japs head on. Clem was there all three days. Now, fifty years or so later some guys in black uniforms with no name tags tell him he has to get out of his house. It’s been declared a ‘Nuisance’.

Gee, weren’t they started up by Antonovich, head of L.A. County, to take out crack houses and meth labs? Since every type of drug is going down in price since there’s so much everywhere, guess they needed some ego boosting by stealing some old guy’s land and goods for their higher-ups. Clem moves into an abandoned truck with no tires in the little wash near his yard and starts a fire in the step van rear to keep his dogs and himself warm. It was the middle of winter. The van catches on fire and kills them all. The County leaps into action! First, strip the yard of all the accumulated stacks and piles of steel dozer parts, aluminum, copper by the truck load, autos, loaders, forklifts, iron rods. $200,000 worth. It was a lot of work so they had to bill the estate $50,000 grand for all that trouble. The house sits there in the cleared out yard. Waiting to be torn down for the bullet train that’s to go past. Waiting to make some big shot some big dough. Wonder how the big shot would think of ripping an old man off after getting magically transported to Tarawa?

Medal of Honor

Usually the word, ‘Posthumously’, goes hand in hand with it. This means the recipient didn’t make it back alive. I held a medal of honor once. A Navajo code talker let me hold his at the ceremony the Marines held near the Sepulveda basin Marine base for the surviving talkers. It was really something. President Truman, when he gave out the award, would lean forward and whisper to the man receiving it, “I would rather have such an honor then be President!” He meant it too. He fought in WW1 as an artillery man. Truman knew what war was really like…My Uncle Curly told me this story, so, it’s from him to me. I wasn’t close to being in the same league as these men, but, I hate seeing the battles they fought and the courage they showed doing their duties just fade away. This particular story of a Medal of Honor winner is about one Naval Captain, part Cherokee, part Creek, all American, named Ernest E. Evans…My Uncle met him at the ceremony where he took over the command of the D.E. Johnson. He was its only skipper. D.E. means in Naval terms, DESTROYER ESCORT. Not as big as a regular Destroyer, it had one five inch gun, .40 Bofers, .50 cal machine guns, and, its best weapons, torpedos. Tubes mounted on the fore deck. Not much in the way of armor. Its main defense was speed and maneuverability. Prior to its last fight, the Captain and crew had already received numerous battle awards. I can’t remember them all, but a plaque I saw once in a book had a long list. The Johnson’s last fight was really something. I’ll try and do my Uncle Curly’s telling of its last action justice. He was a real Navy man. I’ve only read about such things. I heard this story while sitting in the shade of the sixteen inch guns of the Battleship New Jersey as it underwent refit, prior to its last action off the coast of Viet Nam…”It was during the largest Naval action in the history of the world. The ‘Battle of Leyte Gulf’. The Japanese Imperial Navy vs The U.S. Navy. This battle was actually over three fronts, but I’m telling you about Evans and the crew of the U.S.S. Johnston and what went down with task unit, Taffy 3. There were other ships in the battle, sure, but Evans and his boys showed the Japs what a small ship could do when the chips were down and it was time to do or die. Now, the enemy had illegal sized Battleships, way larger then ours. Not only in size, but also in armament. 18 inch main guns vs our largest at 16. Longer, wider, and faster, dreadnoughts to contend with. Too bad Taffy 3 didn’t have ONE to protect her. Just four D.E.’s to protect six escort carriers. Smaller then full sized carriers, they were called, ‘Kaiser coffins’, by the men who served on them. Against Taffy 3? Several Japanese Battleships, Heavy Cruisers, Light Cruisers and ten full sized Destroyers. Their mission was to wipe out the landing crafts of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, then, retreat to help out the other actions happening at the same time in other areas off the Phillipines. As the Jap fleet hove into sight, Evans and his crew hit 35 knots, right for the entire fleet. (NOTE: I have a book written by a commanding Japanese officer on this battle. Quite illuminating) Launching a spread of torpedos at the closest Heavy Cruiser, the Johnston then went so close to one of the Battleships, they were UNDER its big guns. So small, the guns couldn’t depress that low. The gun crews of the Johnston pumped five inch fire point blank into the superstructure, along with every gun they had, killing officers and gun crews the entire length of the giant ship, then, healing right, they punched it at maximum power away, laying a smoke screen for the small carriers it was their duty to protect. Now the big guns of the Jap battleship roared for some payback. Splashes from near misses went over a hundred foot high bracketing the Johnston, making it disappear from the cascading waterfalls of water. The Johnston came out of the water curtain, firing back with its single five incher, barking defiance. Then its luck ran out. Shells slamed into the small ship, knocking it around like a puppy hit by a Mack truck. Half the crew died at their posts instantly. Evans shirt and some of his fingers were blown off. He stayed at the helm. Coming around as the other D.E.’s took up the fight, the captain of the U.S.S. Hoel, said Evans nodded at him, then followed them back in. His ship in ruins and only able to make fifteen knots, Evans and his boys did the only thing they could do, take point blank enemy fire away from the other ships, still able to fight. And take it they did. The captain was blown off the bridge, along with everyone else next to him, cartwheeling through the air. Some of the men were vaporized instantly. Now, dead in the water, sinking by its bow, a Japanese Destroyer swept in to finish the smoking hulk off. Unbelievably, the gun crew of the five incher, were still game. Firing back, then reloading so fast the Jap commanders thought we had some new type five inch auto loader, the crew pumped shells into its attacker, hitting it point blank from its bow to its stern. Then the over heated gun blew its crew apart. As another Jap Cruiser swept by, the ships captain, looking down on the carnage as the little ship washed its dead crew with water before going down, ordered his crew to hold their fire and to stand at attention and salute the brave enemy. Something almost unheard of in that war!”…That’s the story my Uncle told me. So that’s how I retell it…


My first riot was when I was 14 years old. I was hitchhiking back from my Uncle Curly’s Naval Dry Dock during some vacation when school was out and got lost in the freeway systems. Heading to Newhall wasn’t a very popular destination in those days. I end up in a juvinile lockdown for pandering. It just happened to be a place called Watts. Having never been around black people before, except a couple at Hart High, I had no concept of being in any danger. I loved watching the Harlem Globetrotters on Ed Sullivan. So, why would any one bother little old me? Boy, did I learn fast. It wasn’t me. It was what I represented. Oppression and already having things in my short life most of my new pals would never have. As soon as the riot got into full swing, I was taken to a long van with bars on the windows, along with a couple of Mexican kids, and driven to Simi Valley. They let us out and took off. The Mexican kids headed for Sylmar…Me? I ended up walking the train tracks until I got to Saugus. Not having a radio, I figured the riot was spreading everywhere and didn’t want to take a chance on getting locked up again. Finally catching a ride in a ‘Bunny Love’ carrot truck with a kid I knew from Hart High’s teen work program, I was stunned he had no idea of the giant upheaval happening not sixty miles away…Segue to about six years ago. When we first took in our Russian kid Leo, one of the requirements was that he attend Russian language school to “keep his heritage.” So, every other weekend, we would schlep down to North Hollywood for his classes. He hated them. Said he was now an ‘American’, he didn’t want to speak Russian anymore. Told him too bad, it was something we had to do for the court. Anyhow, I end up playing chess with an old Russian guy who was bringing two of his grand daughters to the school because they wanted to attend. He was also a former Soviet Navy Sub Commander. After getting bored with kicking my ass three times in a row in lighting fast games, we ended up sitting outside, watching the kids on a recess, running around having some fun. He told me an interesting story. After one of his cruises, playing ‘find me’ with the American Navy, he comes to port to find it’s Anarchy. The Soviet Union was no more. Since his crew was from all the various states that made up the Union, they just took what they wanted off the sub, then walked away. He told me he didn’t have fresh bread for a year. It was back to the old mind set, Blood Feuds. Russians being treated bad by Slav’s two hundred years ago, so, they have to die. Ditto for Ukraninians vs their neighbors. On and on across the country, old hatreds flared up. He also told me another thing. “You Americans will have a much harder time when your revolution comes. Russians are brought up having hard times. Not so your people. It will be a lot tougher. From plenty to nothing can be tough to take!”…Segue to the Rodney King riot. It’s about ten in the morning. I’m in my A.T.&T. phone van with the ladders on the roof, fixing a phone at a black barber shop off Jefferson. As I let the owner know he was all set, he said something to me in a half whisper, leaning towards me as he said it. “You better head above Wilshire, white boy!” I stared at him not understanding, then, heard the gunshots going off all around us. Near and far. The white jury had cut loose the cops that played ‘Wipe out’ on King on video. They weren’t going to take a bite out of this giant shit sandwich. Some black kids started to run across the now crazy streets towards me, the short, stocky barber yelled for them to leave me alone, then waved me off. All the streets were now backing up. No one knew what to do. Neither did I. So, I headed to my next repair ticket. I could then call my dispatch for orders. You see, Pacific Telephone had formerly been military. We were the Signal Corp. That’s why the dark olive green trucks back in the old days with the bell insignia on the doors. I was also Civil Defense. My ID allowed me though any emergency line. I had my duties to perform, just like a mail man. Until I was in contact with dispatch, I went NOWHERE until given orders to do so. Using a pay phone was out of the question. Open up a facility point or climb a pole? Yeah, right. I make it five blocks away to my next repair, a Korean market. As I drove in front, I had no where to pull into their parking lot. All access had been blocked by cars and trucks. An elderly Korean woman shouts some orders in Korean to a man in a truck. He backs up, lets me on the lot, then blocks it again as I park. I glance up on the roof. AK47s wth banana clips are popped out, all along the edges. I go right to the phone protector box on the side of the store, call my dispatcher. I’m told I’m number 14. It’s sort of a party line when a dispatcher says this to you. If you try and talk, your unplugged instantly. Now your number zero. You can listen in though as he talks to all the guys ahead of you. I hear him tell two other repairmen, “GET BACK TO YOUR GARAGES, NOW!” I jump back into my van, the truck backs up, I start to pull out. Two black men and a young black girl run out of the store, ask if I can take them with me. I cram them all in the front seat, putting one on the engine cover. The other man put the girl on his lap. I punch it North towards the Hollywood sign…Not one cop anywhere. I drive right by where they dragged and half beat to death the truck driver. I speed side streets, going right through stop signs and red lights, barely slowing. I drop off my passengers and head up Vermont. Automatic gunfire is coming from the roof top of ‘LEN JACK’ stereo. Lenny had been a door gunner on a B-17. Shot down over Germany, he broke both legs hitting their ground after his plane was shot down. He spent two years in a German Stalag. I knew his store wasn’t going up in flames. Hundreds more did though. I can’t get to my garage on MYRA. I head for my last repair ticket up off of Mulholland to call my dispatch again. Its for the director of the ‘Superman’, movies. He had an industial styled front entrance that you walked into then it spun around, like you were going into Macys dept store. He had an office in his backyard. I go through the house and see all of his employees looking at the view from his overlook. I head over. No one is saying anything. The entire sky is full of smoke from the hundreds of fires pluming up across L.A. and Hollywood…It only took FOUR HOURS. For months after, I had a National Guard escort while replaciing all the Aerial cables that burned along with the buildings…

Hopi Prophecy

First of all, they’re not completely sure how it will all turn out, since the rock drawings forecasting what’s to come, sheared off. Part of it’s missing. What’s left, isn’t good. When all is said and done, the ones left will be called, ‘The Termite People’. Since their legends say we came from the inner earth, looks like the ones that go back to their roots will make it…Now, many people think all the Southwest tribes are pretty much the same. No way. I used to travel with my Uncles Curly and Wimpy, delivering Kinnikinnick to various tribes since all used it for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Also, to show hospitality. You smoke it in special pipes, usually made by the person handing it to you. It’s sort of like wine with white people. You have your everyday blend, then, that special blend for certain occasions. Ditto for that Merlot you’ve been saving vs the sale of the month bottle from Trader Joe’s. I even had my own blend at 14 years old…My Uncle Wimpy had close friends with the Navajo. Some were code talkers, who served as radio men in WW2. Since their languages are spoken, not written, the Japanese never broke their code. John Ford, filming many of his epic westerns in Monument Valley, alway hired a lot of Navajo for his movies. They always played other tribes though, which amused them to no end. Harry Carey, Jr., used to live not far from my ranch in Sleepy Valley when he was a kid. His pop brought dozens of Navajo to their ranch to weave blankets for sale and to break horses. No one breaks horses like the Navajo. Excellent horsemen. Now, if you wanted to have some horses stolen, the Cheyenne are the guys you need. Among all the tribes of the West, they’re the best horse thieves. A mark of respect actually in their cultures. Like a good assasin in Europe. Anyhow, Harry Carey, Jr. spoke Navajo, so, Ford would use him to translate to the Indians, what they were suppossed to do for their scenes coming up. When all the Navajo laughed out loud yelling ‘Yut-tah-hey’, Ford would pull out a dirty hanky he always had in his back pocket and start chewing on a corner of it to keep his rage in check. He knew ‘Dobie’, Carey, Jr.’s nickname from his red hair, had added something extra into the translation. Usually something demeaning about Ford. It was to get even with Ford for giving him a hard time. I mean, come on, Ford deserved it. He used to kick John Wayne, right in the ass, in front of the entire crew, calling him a dimwitted moron. So, no one on the set was too upset with Ford getting some of his own medicine. Ford used the Navajo for their horse riding skills. He never used Hopis, Havasupai, or Pima. Hopi live high up on the Mesas. Sacred land to them. The Havasupai herded sheep along the rim of the Grand Canyon, then, spent the winters down in the canyon, hunkered down from the elements. Neither big horse people. The Pima? In the old days, you weren’t considered a man in their tribe until you ran down on foot, an Apache, and killed him. Of all the Indians in the West, not even a Mohawk could hold a feather to a Pima in covering ground. Let that Mohawk see how running in Death Valley goes. Pima would consider forests a Hawaiin vacation…The Hopi do have the edge over all the tribes on spiritual matters. Hands down. Their Kachina dolls and images sure look cool. If you were fully aware of what they meant, you would get an icy chill down your spine. I can’t even talk about them. It can bring the spirits around you. Who needs that. I can say, that many of their ceremonies make science fiction writers in Hollywood, half baked pansies. And their’s are all true. You going to argue with people thousands of years old? When Barringer, a rich millionaire found Meteor Crater, he made a deal with the U.S. government to steal it on a long term lease from the tribes. It was sacred for a lot of reasons, but, it was also their only source for pure metal for arrow and spear heads since it had been gouged out of the ground, three miles around the rim, by a meteor slamming into our atmosphere. Barringer took it over, running off the antelope and sheep, to dig up that meteor and make a tourist attraction out of it. He went bust after digging down, sideways and at five other angles. Too bad he didn’t talk to the Indians. Their ancestors saw it hit. They knew their was no meteor down at the bottom. They knew it had exploded, casting parts of itself over hundreds of miles of desert and mesas. Now, it’s theirs again. Has a pretty cool gift shop on the rim edge…So, to make it through the tough times ahead, do as these guys do. Find a clean water source, store forage for your animals, and get your butt into the ground…


Back in the late forties, most rail road switches had to be operated manually. It was pretty much the same, all over the world. India has the most rail layed of all countries. They still use steam for propultion in some areas. Since all those, ‘out of the middle of nowhere’ switches needed to be switched, men lived next to those switches. Some, if lucky, had a telegraph to keep in touch. Others, went by strict schedules. Rain or shine. Those switches had to go exactly on time or people would die. Hundreds of miles from a city, in South Africa, lived such a switch man. He had worked that switch all through World War 2. All alone. His only source of contact left by the hanging mail pouch the train would hook on its’ way past. His mail and the surrounding villages’ mail was tossed out the mail car’s open doors as the train flew past. He would get a break in the beggining for one week in Johanesburg. That had long gone away…Now, the old man was worried about losing his job, and his home. Slowly but surely, all the railroad switches were becoming automated. Plus, the old man wasn’t getting any younger. Out on the fringe of a huge African desert, winds blowing at a hundred miles an hour, wild life coming past at night, villagers and tribesmen angry at the railroad threatening him at times. It was a tough, lonely existence, but it was all he had. One morning, the old man hears an odd sound emanating from a dry gully, just past the long emergency rail siding past his shack. He uses his cane to make his way over to investigate. The sounds were being made from a tiny, barely alive, baboon. The old man put him inside his worn, ragged coat pocket, then went about is switching duties. Thus began a friendship and a working partnership that few could equal. As the old man’s health deteriorated, the baboon would help him into an old pull cart, then, take the old man to the switches. Being ten times stronger then the man once it reached maturity at around 80lbs, the monkey also took over the manual switching part of the job. Sure, they had their spats. But besides being a good trainman, the monkey was also loyal. Many a passing troop of baboons would call out to him over the years, tempting him to join. Nope, the only troop he acknowledged was the old man…One morning, a train track repair crew on a short bob engine pull into the siding to await the passing of the main line train, while in the middle of a track inspection run. Sitting in their idling train, the repair crew watch an odd event transpire. A large baboon, wearing a tattered engineer’s cap, scampered over to the switches, puts his ear on the tracks, then, hearing what he wants to hear, WORKS THE SWITCHES. Hiding in the brush as the train blows on past, tossing the mail and supplies, the baboon then picked up the articles, and went back to the shack. He then returned, and reset the switch. The train men were astounded. Once back at the train yard, the story spread. A train representative was sent to investigate. He found the old man so crippled, he couldn’t leave his bed. His friend had to be tranquilized for them to get near the sick old man. Not long after, the switch was automated. The company wrote off the old shack. The incident was forgotten…by the big shots. Not the train men. Every day, for years, the train men tossed off food and a small bag for the switchman’s shack. Fuck corporate; they wouldn’t turn their backs on a fellow trainman. He was a real pal…

Pearl Harbor

It was a big event in my family. We’re either Circus, or U.S. Navy. I talked to a blind man who lived in the guest house of Orson Welles. He was Welles’s best friend. He was also a total drunk. It took me a couple of repair visits to realize he smashed his phone up, just to get me out to argue with him while I repaired it. If dispatch sent someone else, he had a fit. He was on the medical ship across from his ship, the U.S.S. Arizona, getting over a hernia operation, when the Japanese first wave came in. He wanted to get out of his bed when they heard the bombs hitting and all the firing started, but was unable to unhook all his tubes. He told me it was a good thing, since everyone that was able to make it to the windows were blown backwards, killed instantly by shards of glass when a string of bombs from the Jap planes hit a mine sweeper at anchor right next to them, sending part of their blasts right towards the medical ship…Now, a lot of people blame Admiral Yamamoto for the attack. Sure, he planned it and gave it the go ahead, but he was under orders. When they asked him his opinion of his own plan, he told them flat out they would have about a year to kick our asses completely, or it would be the end of them. His superiors looked at us as lazy clowns who made movies and good home appliances. They were sort of right. Yamamato knew different. He spent a lot of time in the U.S. as a young man attending our universities. He was blown away at how large our country was and our assembly line production of machinery. Especially the Ford plant. He was also a big time gambler. He would come back on board ship after leaves and his men would wonder if he had won or lost. If he had lost, he would do a handstand on a guardrail, showing he had no money left to fall out of his pockets. He had to stay on the Yamato battleship for over a year, hiding from the assasins of the Japanese Army. Killing off rival military rivals was quite acceptable in Japanese society. Just like in John Carter of Mars by Burroughs. For a surprise attack, it was really successful. Too bad they didn’t make a second sortie. They missed the MILLIONS of gallons of aviation and oil tanks sitting right out in the open. Also, they missed their primary targets. It’s the reason they pulled out and didn’t put in that second string. Our carriers were not at anchor. One of the Japanese spies had made a radio message that they were indeed there. He lied to save face. He had been out drinking and just made it up. Halsey, our carrier chief, had kept all our carriers out on a phony search for a downed flier story because he smelled a rat. One of our destroyers had fired on a submarine trying to slip into Pearl in between a tug boat and its target bouy it was towing behind it from some firing exercises. Sure, they killed over two thousand of our boys, most still in their racks. One bomb went right down the forestack of the Arizona, detonating in its’ 12 inch gun armory. It blew the entire Battleship, clear of the water, before putting it down for good. Concussion killed most of the men. They all went instantly. I guess its as good a way to go as any. Going out with your mates in a millisecond…More people were killed on the islands by spent ammo then from the bombs. The first attack was made by dive bombers. When the second wave came in, it was torpedo bombers, coming in low since Pearl was a known shallow harbor. The dive bombers had a field day. Not so the torpedo crews. They reported back on landing that the flak and return fire was so thick, you could climb out and walk on it. Doris, a black cook, and heavywight champ of the Pacific fleet, shot down two Jap planes in his underwear from a twin fifty with a dead crew laying all around it…Years later, while at Orson Welles’s house, I noticed a new person sunning themselves off the pool near the guest house. Welles informed me his navy buddy had died. He also told me one other thing. His buddy was cremated, then buried with his buddies on the U.S.S. Arizona…We don’t have those big battle wagons anymore. Most of our big ships are nuclear. All the old ships are docked as museums or scrapped long ago. Oh, we do have one left. Its still carried as an acitve ship on the line, ready for duty if needed. It’s name? The ARIZONA. It’s NEVER BEEN RETIRED!!!