A blizzard has smashed his way into my city and he's making so much noise, he must be drunk. This is fine by me. I'm elbow deep in a new short story. But all this sitting on a Monday morning simply feels like an extended Sunday... so why not catch up on some Bible Study? Here are some particularly juicy passages from one of the most underrated books in the Bible... Numbers
And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them .--11:1
And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague.--11:33
And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day ... And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones.--15:32-36
And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.--16:35
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.--21:6
Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.--23:24
And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.--25:4
And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? ... Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.--31:15-19
Praise the muthafuckin lord... and
Jane Arness had conquered nursing school, laid waste to three long-term relationships, one of them with a woman, and successfully peddled some of the largest tracts of Panhandle real estate and all of this within four years.
She built a monument of respect in the feminist community by using board memberships in non-profits and charity organizations and college museums as her brick and mortar. Life with a forced smile had long ago become a pairing she disliked. She wanted to smile without having to raise with ropes and pulleys the corners of her face to please some sterile sack of guts whose rudeness nearly outweighed her need to extract large sums of money from it for the greater good. Her sanity she placed squarely on the shoulders of Hatchet and Poole and their willingness to take a beating if she felt like they needed one.
Poole lit the pipe and inhaled and handed it to Jane who was giving Hatchet a concerned stare. She’d just privileged him with another speech on his lack of employment and how handouts from the state weren’t going to last if the Feds didn’t get their shit together. It was the kind of speech she had repeatedly given Hatchet when they first met. When they were an item. An item that didn’t last long. She eventually told him that he was just too much of a man for her, a line he still found entertaining and brought it up on the slightest hint that it might be relevant to the discussion, usually on the topic that Poole called Jane’s attraction to bearded ladies.
She had skills.
I’ll give her that. She strolled in there as if she knew the future, as if she had information that neither these three horny saps nor I was privy. It smelled of socks and mildew. As promised, the big one began unfolding cases filled with DJ equipment and her saccharine smile went to chiseling his defenses. The other two seemed to engage a strange ritual movement about the joint. I figured it for nervous energy. There were other girls en route after all. One of them tossed me a beer and I found a blank space to lean against the wall. She winked at me and ran her hand up the big guy’s neck. Yer a weirdo, dude! she yelled at me. The other three gave me a glance. What’s weird about me? I asked her just as the equipment cranked through the huge speakers. What? she yelled. I said--! Oh nevermind! and she shined me off for the spiraling turntable and flashing monitor, leaving me somewhat diminished from their point of view. She had skills. And when the limo arrived and the big metal door swung open again and the murder of dark hair and black dresses flooded the room as if it had splashed from an overturned barrel, she made her move and whispered in the big one’s ear then disappeared into the rear of the room where she would enter the restroom, open the linen closet and kick her way through the sheetrock into the hidden walk space where the molly sat in vacuum sealed bundles stashed in black garbage bags which she would then shove effortlessly out the rear window after cutting the screen with her tiny cleaver. I had no problem slipping out to meet the bags behind the building. None of them noticed my escape against the flow of other girls and chaperones. She definitely had skills. I might have fallen in love with her then. That’s probably when it happened. I can remember her coming out the window feet first and hissing at me about time. Yeah, that’s when it happened.
"—on July 2, 50 years ago Saturday — when Hemingway shot himself to death in the foyer of the Ketchum, Idaho, home he shared with his fourth wife, Mary, it was the culmination of decades of loss, of dying passion and diminished creativity — conditions he always associated with his betrayal of Richardson. 'I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her,' he wrote unforgettably in 'A Moveable Feast,' his lyrical memoir of their marriage and the last thing he worked on before his death." -Gioia Diliberto (Chicago Tribune) pic Copyright Chicago Tribune
As far as I can tell, I’m the only person in the hallway.
Where a gaudy fixture normally showers with light the banister and the last few steps of stairs there is only a trapezoid of greenish glow folded across the floor and up the wall. I ring the bell again. The spring under the button feels unreliable but I can hear the chime singing a jagged song just the other side of the entrance. Street sounds climb through the open skylight above me. The painful pulse in my head returns and I have to lean against the wall and close my eyes. When the door opens, she finds me on one knee near a water stain on the thin carpet. Jesus, Kathy! she says and latches my arm with hers and she leads me into the stuffy warmth of her efficiency. Once in the light of the room she reclines from me, still locked with me at the elbow, and instantly finds what must be a nasty lump darkening my forehead. I realize I may be bleeding. Kathy, she whispers and eases me onto a cushioned chair surrounded by a random disaster of magazines, their pages butchered into splinters and shards and gorgeous faces and tanned midriffs. I have to call the police, Kathy. No, Zoe, please. I’m taking you to the ER. No, Zoe, I have to meet my parents in a half an hour. I don’t care. Please, just help me. I’m trying to help you, Kathy. I’m starting to cry. Just help me. Kathy, who had been gathering her purse and coat and keys, now stands frozen in the center of the rug, her eyes sagging in sympathy, each item in her arms sounding off as they drop one by one to the floor. Just help me fix my hair or something so they can’t see. And we’ll cover it with some make-up, she says. We’ll cover it with make-up and bring your bangs down so they’ll never know. Thank you, Zoe. But godammit this is the last time, baby doll. Thank you, Zoe.
Against his better judgment, Joe thumbed back the hammer, let the ball fly and watched the young preacher die.
Then he saddled his pony and rode into the sun and that's how this chase was begun. Little Joe Talley, yer wanted for killing the last Baptist preacher in Apache Territory, the last decent clergy in the whole damn valley.
The lawman was absent when the town came unraveled. Marshal Mulhaney had a thing for the ladies. He was high on the mescal down on the border, courting his Mexican lovers. Marshal Mulhaney, yer shirking yer duty. Yer the last armed sentry in Apache Territory, last constabulary in the whole damn valley.
Allison Bentley was the town schoolteacher. She and this preacher were brother and sister. When the news had found her what Joe Talley had done, she stole her a horse and a gun. Allison Bentley, have you gone bloody crazy? Yer just a lowly schoolteacher in Apache Territory and the last pretty lady in the whole damn valley.
The next day in town, half blind and hungover, Marshal Mulhaney assembled his posse. He meant to kill Talley and catch Allison. You see, both he and Joe loved that woman. Marshal Mulhaney, yer King Bastard of many, abusing yer title in Apache Territory to kill yer last known rival in the whole damn valley.
They met under the desert moon in the mountains. Just like Joe planned it, they'd live lives of bandits. The preacher had sworn to tear them asunder. That's why Joe murdered her brother. Joe Talley, yer dreamin if yer thinkin yer leavin without a heap more killin in Apache Territory, it's yer last quiet evenin in the whole damn valley.
Marshal Mulhaney found their trail in the foothills. His Apache myrmidon knew just where they'd gone. Mulhaney took the shot from a lofty crop of rock. Joe slumped in his saddle and dropped. Allison Bentley, yer feelin so guilty, lost the last of yer family in Apache Territory, he's yer last loving memory of the whole damn valley.
Little Joe Talley sat bravely bleeding in the shadows of sunset, counting his bullets. She cried and she left him as he made her a promise, "Mulhaney won't live through this." Little Joe Talley, you come to yer ending, yer last act of vengeance on Apache Territory, yer last "good riddance" to the whole damn valley.
Allison Bentley had done what Joe told her. She rode for a mile dragging plunger and wire. When she saw through the glass both lawman and lover, she unleashed the dynamite's thunder. Marshal Mulhaney, yer pieces are many, on every promontory in Apache Territory. Joe, these mountains and hills are yer crematory...
This is the last love story from the whole damn valley.
After the weather had improved that first week of Hatchet's return and against Poole's pleading, Hatchet had moved to the banks of a secluded creek that ran through the heart of a wildlife preserve operated by an old friend of his family.
He found a deep draw where his truck could easily be driven around a caliche cliff onto a small open bank with a huge hollow elm on which he could hang heated water in collapsible five-gallon water jugs to shower. A thirty-watt solar panel charged a gel cell twelve volt battery system that ran an inverter for electricity and he and Malorie would sit by a campfire drinking beer and wine, watching black and white movies on his laptop into the early morning. She teased him constantly for what she called his mountain man ways. He told her the sky is the best bed sheet he had ever known and the sun is the most reliable alarm clock he had ever owned and he had grown to hate the idea of sleeping under a roof. The occasional high altitude airliner proved to be the only sign of civilization that ever pestered him.
A few days subsequent to his confrontation with the angry fellow in the nightclub, he and Malorie lay cuddling under heavy blankets watching Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not. Hatchet spent most of the film describing to her how Howard Hawks had drastically changed the setting and the plot from Hemingway's original novel, erasing most of the author's hints at Marxism and completely relocating the story from Florida and Cuba to the French Caribbean island of Martinique. Malorie tried to change the direction of the conversation, remarking Bacall’s age at the time of the film and her anorexic slouch but Hatchet continued with Hemingway's sympathies for the communist supported Loyalist during the Spanish Civil War. So she finally relented to his obvious desire to press her into a deep political discussion, something she had done a worthy job of avoiding until now, deflecting his unremitting hints at his anarchism since the moment she had unveiled her intentions for public office. Their most esoteric conversations thus far had been over literature or film or her depressing family history. Now, after many desperate and ignored attempts to discuss religion with him, a far more important subject in her opinion, he was forcing her to discuss politics. I thought you were an artist, she jabbed him, compose me a poem or something. I’m doing cocaine in the bathroom of your heart—. Oh fuck that.
Feathery whips of seeding grass bent in the breeze, delicately dragging her cheeks.
Her hand draped the stone colored reach of long dead mesquite now shading her legs still stretched across the ground into a green dusty unknown. She heard the insects sizzle as if they were the sound of the sun threatening to devour everything. She thought of the animal and bent her neck across the dead tree in the direction it had bolted. She wondered if it had found water. She wondered if there was water to find. For hours, her eyes had scanned the height of the dancing grass for a landmark but the grass was too tall and now she only cared to ponder the scarred cactus figs standing at attention along the blades of the prickly pear. Nearly as red as her blood, they stoically awaited their fate, setting an example she was just now beginning to accept.
I have read countless definitions of the word and most lose precision in an attempt to pre-empt all the various political arguments and historical examples against it. This is another reason I suggest In Defense of Anarchism. Wolff's conclusions are also echoed in the work of Edward Abbey. Whether one admits it or not, we all live in our own state of anarchy. We all go over the speed limit when we feel we can. We've all shunned a crosswalk. Those who have reason shirk their taxes or conduct repairs and improvements on their homes without the proper permits. Most of us have committed a form of assault. We all commit crime. But what is crime? A crime doesn't exist until their is law to make crime. In other words, a personal philosophy of anarchy seems to be the natural state of the human condition. Once we accept this, the laws of the authority and the punishment associated with breaking those laws truly become factors weighed into the decisions we make on a daily basis, a mirror image of nature. Man has not the authority nor the power to create laws as staunch an unforgiving as nature. Therefore should man have any authority at all? My answer is yes. Each man only has authority (absolute authority) over his own actions and this personal autonomy is challenged every day by the actions of the law. Utopian descriptions of democracy and communism are just as welcome in the land of fairy-tales as the utopian flavors of anarchism. My point is that nature rules all. Find your authority in nature and let the collective stupidity of men do what it does: rise and fall, ebb and flow. But protect your personal autonomy at all costs. It is all nature has bestowed you to live in this hostile world. No one can truly tell you what you can and cannot do. The consequences are yours alone to face.
Topical agents of anarcho-individualism: the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, self-proclaimed terrorist organization operating currently in Greece.
Historical agent of anarcho-individualism: Benjamin Tucker, publisher and contributor for Liberty, an anarchist publication in the late 1800's America.
Literary agent of anarcho-individualism: Edward Abbey, author of The Brave Cowboy and The Monkey Wrench Gang.
As levelheaded as we portend, with all our effort for rationality, we have all found ourselves on the wrong side of many issues, most commonly for one simple reason.
We are slaves to our emotions. This seething hurricane of emotions clears the field for nasty overreactions to highly charged issues. My latest overreaction occurred over guns. One of this nation’s most ironic subjects, guns have shattered both the imperial yoke with which our forefathers felt burdened as well as, some would say, the pursuit of happiness those forefathers promised us over 200 years ago. Loved and hated, these weapons have shaped human culture, particularly American culture. However, when we hear the word “gun” in the media, they consistently fail to analyze its status as a “weapon,” no matter how many times they call it a “weapon.” This word “weapon” holds the key to the question of “gun violence,” a term that means so very little. Unfortunately, the news media long ago abandoned the search for truth. Truth doesn’t sell pharmaceuticals and cars. Emotions sell pharmaceuticals and cars. Emotions sell everything.
Now that I’ve blamed the media for their disrespect for words, I’m going to blame myself for the very same thing. When the Newport shooting occurred, I didn’t need the media to push my buttons. I don’t watch television and the state of television news is closely related to my distaste for it but I didn’t need an endless carnival of photos and video of grinning, frolicking deceased children to fall victim to my emotions. I have no problem admitting fault here. After simply imagining the chaos and fear those children and the adults entrusted with their well-being must have experienced, I failed to wrangle my less rational side and instead spent my cognitive capital railing on guns and gun owners. Not to say most arguments in favor of guns aren’t just as shackled to emotion as the arguments for control. Neither side of the issue has addressed the real problem. It took me a few days to scrub off the emotion and truly examine the dilemma.
River of Blood, a novel about anarchism, atheism, racism, violence, family, and corruption.
Chrysalis, a growing collection of very short fiction.
Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.