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  1. When Storch was fourteen, he and his brother, Jim, learned what a gynecologist was. They both determined right then and there that they would do whatever was necessary to become one. But after learning how many years of college, how much study, and how much money was required to become one, they realized that that much money would pay for enough whores to last them a lifetime, provided they kept it down to one whore per week which they would share. So they decided to go with plan-B instead.

    Plan-B was hatched after Jim reminded Storch of the National Geographic program they’d watched a few weeks earlier. In the time it took for their mother to get up, cross the room, and quickly change the channel, Storch and Jim had seen some young native African females walking around topless in their village. So they decided to do whatever it took to get enough money to buy an airplane so that they could fly to Africa, kidnap a couple of the younger girls from such a tribe, and then fly them to a deserted island.

    Their plan was to drop them off and then visit them periodically for conjugal purposes, and to provide them with food and to do repairs on the huts they would build for them--or better yet, the huts that the girls would build for themselves. But the bottom (no pun intended) fell out of that plan, too, when they realized just how much an airplane--even a used one--would cost them, and just how long it would take to save enough money to buy one. Again, they determined that that kind of money would keep them in whores for a lifetime. After that, they never talked about it again.

    Storch's brother, Jim, died nine years later when he was forced to make an emergency landing in his two-seater, single engine plane after running out of gas somewhere over the African Bush (pun intended) and was killed by lions on his way to a nearby village. Jim learned the hard way that a six-shot revolver is powerless against eight lions. It was a mystery to all who knew him just what the hell he was doing flying over no-man’s land in Africa, but Storch was pretty sure he knew the answer to that.
  2. Deep in the woods I stood that night, with the light of the moon casting her living, moving shadows upon the ground while the treetops swayed to the leadings of the warm wind, together playing their mesmerizing song, like the sound of whispered secrets, like the magic and the secret wonder of the mystery of her and me when we were not so old, when so much was said with not so much as a spoken word.

    And there I stood in my mind, young again, alive with the desire that had drawn me out to the woods that night; the desire for her presence. Sadly now, a desire for the memory of her presence; a desire for a figment of my imagination; a fragment of my fragmented mind. But this figment had grown to greater than ghostly proportions; a tangible essence; an irresistible force of compelling nature, silently calling me, pulling me from the grasp of the reality of this fleeting existence of mine; some offer of hope in this terminal course.

    But I knew the truth. Winter would come--was already here. No more spring magic. No more wonder. All is known and past. The table has been cleared, and the dishes put away . . . forever. She is gone.

    Disillusioned, I no longer cared to stand. So I laid myself down among the trunks of the faithful trees, and there I slept. And in my sleep I dreamed of dreaming a dream in which she lived. And when I awoke, the sun was screaming about reality, and reality would not be denied. The moon was gone. The wind, like her presence, had also died. And I was cold. And I could hear my old lonely self calling me from some unknown place in the back of my tormented mind; calling me back home. And it saddened me to no end because I could not remember where or when I had last seen myself truly.
  3. There comes a time when one is drawn to finally ask, "Who am I? What am I? And why am I? And at that same time, one is also drawn to the realization that those questions don't matter because time is short, and soon, both the questions and their answers will be obsolete. And then one comes to terms with the fact that the obvious answer to the question of what is God, is, "It was never really any of my business," which is both a release and a captivating thought all rolled up into one, ultimately leaving one alone in the dark, longing for the hand of another, while understanding that that, too, shall pass, and is of little consequence. This is sadness, which also is of little consequence.

    I recall summer and the old dirt road where the youth of the area walked, sometimes together, sometimes alone, listening to music on the transistor radio and wondering about each other under the bright sunshine, leaving invisible trails of thoughts and plans and desires that have long since faded to ghostly images, and there to remain, diminished until the last of us die. Will we then find ourselves in another area--on another dirt road--where we'll find ourselves asking the questions: from where do we come and to where do we go, never realizing, or never accepting, that we came from where we were, and we come to where we are, and we go to where we will, and never having understood that to dwell anywhere either side of the moment is to hold something that can surely become lost and obsolete in due time again. This is sadness.

    And there maybe comes a time when we become angry; angry at everything and everyone. A time when we come to the realization that our lives are spent jumping for this or jumping for that, and sometimes in the service of everyone but ourselves. And we come to the question of whether or not everything and everyone around us is truly part of us, or we a part of them, or all a part of each other in a symbiotic relationship not totally understood.

    I had thought about runninng away. What is it to be out on the road, knowing that there will be no dishes to wash, no one to please, no house to clean, no clock to watch, no mice to kill, no grass to mow, no snow to shovel, etc., etc.? One might argue that such are the conditions of death. Another might argue that such are the conditions of life according to the self and no other. The driver of the car or truck you hitch a ride with will tell you that they live to get back home where their chair, their television, their dinner, their kids, their wife, their holidays, and all of the accompanying drama that goes with it is waiting. And who can blame them?

    And that driver might ask you where you are going--what your goal is. What will he think when you tell him that you are headed to the ocean to bathe, and to then head for another spot along the shore to rest and bathe again? And he might ask, "Don't you have anyone?" And what will he think when you tell him that the issue is not whether or not you have anyone, but rather whether or not anyone has you?

    At any time, we can look around ourselves and see what our choices--as well as the choices of others--have brought to us. Choice is a tricky concept. Sometimes, choices are not a matter of what the self wants, but is instead what the self wants for another, and what it wants to be for another. But in the end, there is no doubt that everything--every situation--is what it is, and as such, cannot be judged, only changed. I know this doesn't make sense. But the process of making sense is necessarily preceded by not making sense, and doing so out loud; by taking the shot regardless of accuracy. After all, it's just a game.
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  4. When I was down and out and drinking myself to the grave, unable to stop and in quite bad health, I became angry and not very good company at all. Looking back, I can now see the reason for my nasty disposition and unfriendliness towards the woman I loved. My mistake began when I presumed to see myself through her eyes. And so, putting myself in her shoes, I believed that she saw herself as the recipient of damaged goods, and that she saw me as someone giving her no choice but to deal with the reality that I was forcing upon her.

    I was a mess. She went to family gatherings and holiday get-togethers alone, unlike her siblings. And when I put myself in her shoes, I was overcome with something like grief when I considered that she would not give up on me. The grief was not for myself, but for her. She could have abandoned me, like I, for all intents and purposes, had done to her. And I hated being the source of her grief. I remembered being younger and sitting at the edge of a lake at night when the breeze was warm and strong enough to keep the mosquitoes away, and she sat beside me with her arm draped around my neck and over my shoulder. That’s all I wanted. She was all I wanted. There was no past and no future; there was just the moment. Then came the slow, terrible downward spiral into depression and drinking. They call drinking a disease. Well, the disease was not in the bottle, but in the state of my mind which sought relief from the agony of not being able to bear being in my skin for one more hour. I was self-medicating, and, like all medications, it became a daily affair.

    The state of my mind was the result of my upbringing, and I was a bitter man. Eventually, I compared myself to men who were smiling and friendly and confident, and the contrast between that and myself was unbearable. How on earth could she not choose to leave me. Grace under fire. She didn’t deserve any of my attitude, but I was the scourge in her life. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, having come to not believe in love because of my bitterness towards life in general--and myself in particular--watching her face the anger of me every day and taking the hit without much complaint brought me to a place where I had to engage in denial of the situation. I had nothing but pain to offer her, and for some reason, she wouldn’t abandon me. It was like watching a movie in which a loyal dog would stand beside her abusive master and fight to the death to protect him from everything, including even himself.

    Loneliness hardly covers the feelings involved in that state of mind. Despair is involved, and there is no talking oneself out of that state. Sometimes when one sees life in its simplicity, the truth of it can be devastating. It’s like when you’re young and you go to the fair, and your senses are filled with the carnival music, the lights on the rides, the smell of hotdogs and cotton-candy, the sounds of bells and whistles going off indicating a winner at one of the games, and the barkers talking into their bullhorns trying to pull young people in to play their games, and then the sounds of the cheers of the people in the grandstands laughing and cheering as they watch the rodeo.

    But then you get older, and you begin to notice what’s going on behind the scenes. You happen to catch a glimpse of the grubby-looking carnies running the games and rides in one of their unguarded moments, looking unhappy and tired. And while looking, you see them taking swigs from a bottle in a brown paper bag, or puffing on something they’re trying to hide but doing a poor job of it. Then you notice some guy wearing old, greasy jeans with oil on his hands, and a cigarette hanging from his lips, and he’s pouring gasoline into the tanks of the engines that make the Ferris Wheel and all the other rides go round. And you see the drops of sweat hanging from his nose and unshaven chin. So, you turn away, sorry for having seen more than you were supposed to.

    Then you wander on over to the grandstand where the rodeo is taking place. And at some point, you look deeply into the eyes of one of the bulls standing in a trailer waiting for his turn to entertain, and you see depression. For some reason, the bull turns and looks right into your eyes, like he felt you looking and knew that you were seeing what the others didn’t. And in that wordless silence, you hear him telling you the obvious. And you know that he is looking to you for hope. But you have no hope at the moment; there’s nothing you can do. And in an uncontrollable release of grief, you stand there and let out an anguished gasp of hurt, and then you just as quickly contain it, pushing it back down into that place where all hurt is stored to rot and fester and infect your being. Some of the spectators who witnessed your outburst look at you as if you were mentally ill or otherwise unbalanced. But in the next instant there is the roar of laughter from the rest of the spectators, and their attention is off you and back onto the other show. So, you walk away, and you feel like not part of them. Not even a little. You feel lonely and lost. It’s fucking despair. And you know that, just like the bull, it’s not temporary; nor is there any hope. And you know that what you’re feeling is not loneliness, but onlyness, which is far worse.
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  5. When I was in the seventh grade I was bullied by this bigger kid. He was bent on making my life a living hell. Finally he announced that he was going to kick my ass the next day at noon time in town. Students from seventh-graders to seniors were allowed to go to town at noon break. The bully said that if I didn't walk to town he would kick my ass in the school. I told the principal about my predicament, and he told me that if Al hits me, I can come to him and he'll punish him. Great! Just fucking great! Everyone was talking about the up and coming fight for the rest of the day. Teachers knew it was going to happen, and store owners saw the large crowd of kids all gathered in one of the empty lots in the middle of the small town with Al and myself in the center of the gathering. They knew what was going to happen and they watched from their doorways. I had really hoped that some adult would stop it from happening, but they didn't.

    At the time I weighed eighty pounds, and Al was a year older and probably fifteen pounds heavier. I had good reflexes and was able to block all but one of his punches, which landed on my forehead and really didn't hurt. I hit him on the cheek once. After twenty minutes, the crowd of kids started walking back to school, and a couple of seniors declared it a draw. That really ate at Al. Whenever he saw me in school, he would get in my face and push me up against the wall and say that we're going to finish the fight in a couple of days. That was on a Friday, so I was going to have to fight him again on Monday.

    I had a problem, and no one was going to help me with it. So I came up with a solution. I occasionally helped my friend with farm chores after school; not really because I wanted to, but because I got to eat supper with them if I did, which was a great incentive to me--but that's another sad story. Anyway, I knew that they went to church on Sunday. I also knew that they they had a gunrack that held like six guns--three .22 rifles, a .410, and two 12 gauges. My plan was to hide in the ditch beside their house until they left for church, at which time I would enter through their back door because I knew the lock didn't work, and I would take one of the .22s. Then I would put two bullets in the gun and walk the mile and a half through the woods and corn fields, and then down a trail that would take me to a place where there was a clear shot at the steps of an old bank where Al sat and surveyed his domain. Then I would shoot him in the head and make my way back to the farm and replace the gun.

    In the end, I didn't do it. Not because I wasn't sure it would work. I knew that by the time someone saw Al dead and called the cops, and the cops got there, I would be back on the farm replacing the rifle, and then waiting around for my friend to get back from church as I had done lots of times. And if they were home before I got there--highly unlikely--I would hide the rifle in the ditch until chore time. The whole family was always out of the house and in the barn during evening milking, and that's when I would slip in and replace the rifle. And if Al wasn't sitting on the steps of the old bank on Sunday--highly unlikely--then I would head back, replace the rifle, and try again the next Sunday, after my fight and probable beating. But I didn't do it. Something kept me from doing it.