Questions With No Answers (2)…

Continuing my series of questions with no answers, let’s move to the problem of gun violence in the United States. Let me start with a link to what is, likely, the true cause of the rise of mass shootings in this country.

“The Best Explanation for Our Spate of Mass Shootings Is the Least Comforting”
By David French
For National Review
May 18, 2018.
Link :

Quote : “At the risk of oversimplifying a complex argument, essentially he [Malcolm Gladwell] argues that each mass shooting lowers the threshold for the next. He argues, we are in the midst of a slow-motion “riot” of mass shootings, with the Columbine shooting in many ways the key triggering event. Relying on the work of Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter, Gladwell notes that it’s a mistake to look at each incident independently”

For those interested, here is the link to Malcolm Gladwell’s article from the October 19, 2015 issue of The New Yorker.

In short, the problem is not guns. The problem is a social problem within US Society. To fix the problem, we have to correct it at the social level.

Note the following, before you get all stupid on me.

1. I do not own any guns, and I never will.
2. I do not see any reason anyone needs guns.
3. I grew up around people who owned guns, and never considered the possibility of using them out of anger, or frustration. And certainly never considered using them against other human beings.

As I have said above, the rising gun violence in the US is indicative of a social problem within the US. Saying “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” while technically accurate, denies the cause of the problem. Saying, “if no one has guns, we have no problem,” while somewhat accurate, also denies the cause of the problem.

Now, let me express my understanding of the problem. As I’ve said, it’s a social problem.

Look at the recent string of mass murders performed with the use of firearms. All of them center around someone gun supporters, and anti-gun groups, have declared were mentally unstable, deranged, unhealthy. To put it bluntly, mentally ill. Let’s review, shall we.

1. Santa Fe High School, Texas. We have the father’s declaration the shooting was caused by bullying. We also have the ongoing tale of the girl who refused to date the shooter.

2. Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida. Where the shooter was an expelled student, with behavioral issues.

3. A list of the shootings. Here.

These are not random acts. These are acts of individuals who believe in what they are doing, and are using gun violence out of desperation, to strike back at what, and who, has injured them. Even if the injury is only emotional, and not physical.

Will removing guns solve this problem? No, it will not. It will force those who perform these acts to find other methods of performing such acts. Using motor vehicles. Using improvised explosive devices. Using toxic chemical blends.

But, in the short term, for a decade or two, it will look as if gun control has solved the problem. Further, an increase in traffic fatalities may not even be observed as a growth in attempted mass murder methods. It may be brushed off as, “Boys will be boys, and drive stupidly.” It may be written off as “toxic masculinity run amok.” It may be ascribed to “gang violence”. Because, we can’t afford for gun control to not work, and not be successful.

Gun control cannot, and will not stop events like the Boston Marathon bombing. Or the Charlottesville automobile incident. Or the Oklahoma City bombing incident. I could continue to cite incidents where guns were not used to commit mass murder.

What I’m trying to say is, even if we implement stringent gun controls in the United States, we do not solve the problem at the root of the violent acts we have come to observe almost daily. All we really do is throw a band-aid on an open wound in our society, and pretend everything is all better, while the causes of the problem remain as part of our society, and continue to grow, and fester, and infect more and more people. Resulting in more people finding alternative methods to guns that accomplish their objectives of vengeance and retribution against those they perceive as having injured and attacked them.

Gun controls won’t change that. All they’ll do is cover it up, and make everyone feel good. At least until the problem become apparent once again.

So, how do we fix the problem of gun violence in the US? Wouldn’t it be wiser of us to admit the causes of that violence are the problem, and work together, as a people, to correct the problem, instead of burying it, and pretending it doesn’t exist?


Questions With No Answers (1)…

Having observed Facebook and Twitter going insane yet again about something called toxic masculinity, I find it’s time I started asking the questions I find no one answers. So, this is the first in a set of questions.

I’ll start with a question I asked someone last night. A question I don’t expect an answer too.

I’m a guy. A white guy. And an older one at that. By the definition of everything I see lately on Twitter, and Facebook, I am the problem. OK. I can accept that. I, being a 59 year old white guy, can make women feel uncomfortable, unsafe, worried about the actions I am capable of taking.

I’m a documented autistic. By definition, I don’t pick up on unspoken signals. I don’t observe and respond appropriately to body language. I don’t react appropriately to facial expressions, and spoken comments and remarks. Because, I’m socially deaf. It’s like I speak sign language in a room full of people who have never seen sign language. That’s how autism works.

I’m human. By definition, I’m imperfect. I make mistakes. I sometimes make embarrassingly huge mistakes. Like running my car into the back of the car in front of me. Of driving over a curb in a parking lot. How do you hit a stationary object you’re trying not to hit? Welcome to humanity. Welcome to mistakes. They happen.

Given these three items, I now ask my question.

How do I never make mistakes in the presence of women? How do I not scare them at times? How do I not do things that make them ponder their safety in my presence? How do I not say things that make them wonder if they should be in the same building I’m in?

The answer, of course, is I can’t. I will make mistakes. There is no way around that. No way to avoid that. No way to prevent that.

Guys know this. All of us know this. We scare each other all the time. Because. Mistakes. We say things we shouldn’t have said. We break pencils. We take walks. We make up song lyrics. We drink soda, or beer, or whiskey. We go to gun ranges and shoot hundreds of holes in sheets of paper that are a hundred feet away. We put our right foot down while driving.

In short. We express our emotions. It’s not toxic masculinity. It’s frustration. It’s anger. It’s disappointment. It’s grief. It’s anxiety. It’s terror. It’s emotions. And the very best of us still make the mistake of expressing them.

We sometimes scare each other. That’s right, women. Guys scare guys. We know how you feel. “Is that big idiot going to start throwing things?” We scare each other. “As long as all he hits is the wall, I’m good.” We scare each other. “Get out of his way, he’s driving like an idiot right now.”

We scare each other. We don’t just scare women.

A man with a kitchen machete, cutting up an onion. Especially if he’s talking about a bad day at work. A man with a beer, working on a car motor on a Saturday. One stuck bolt or nut, and bloody knuckles. And I wouldn’t want to be near him either.

But, that’s my question, isn’t it.

How do we, as men, as human beings, not be human, and not make mistakes. Because it’s those mistakes that scare you, isn’t it. How do I, as an old white guy, not say something, not do something, not feel something, not write something, not drive, not wash dishes, not mow the lawn, not run the vacuum cleaner on the carpet, not gather up laundry and sort it, and wash it in the washing machine and dryer, without sometimes scaring another human being, especially a woman?

There’s only one way, and everyone knows that.

By not existing.

#ThursThreads Week 315 : I Recognized My Handwriting.

The next day was more of the same. Everyone stayed at home, and the internet went crazy. Videos turned up of police officers refusing to work on Michelle’s murder case. Evidence being put on a shelf, never to be examined. It was endless.

Officer Johnson said, “I won’t work on that case. I’ll walk off this job before I work on that.”

Officer Matthews, “I’m glad it’s dead. Whoever did it, they did us a favor.”

Dr. Richmond, the medical examiner, talking to someone, “I recognized my handwriting. No evidence to be found.”

So it went. One excuse after another. One reason after another. Person after person. The case was put in the cold case cabinet at five days old. Everyone forgot about it. No one asked questions.

Then there was Officer Morgan, once again. Saying the same words she’d always said to some strange man who asked, “A transgender victim? Nothing has been done.” The way she shrugged, and didn’t even look up the case told the story. Only this time, there was another scene, where Officer Morgan screamed at the sheriff, “There! That’s him! That’s the guy!” He pointed at the picture of a man leaving the police building. “He’s the one causing all the trouble! Get him, and it all stops!”

The internet watched as the town’s police started a manhunt for the guy who asked about the case no one wanted to work on.

238 Words

The next part of the ongoing Armor 17 story. It’s Week 315 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who turn out weekly.


#ThursThreads Week 314 : You’d Really Let Me Fall Into That?

The attacks stopped. People stayed home. The police cruised the streets, looking for anyone suspicious, and scaring anyone who wasn’t obviously white out of their minds.

Everyone was on the internet, chatting with their friends, texting like crazy on their phones. The world had gone insane, and they wanted everyone to know it.

That’s when Michelle’s murder showed up on every internet news site, and every social media site. Even a full video of the discovery of her body turned up on site after site. No one could block it. No one could stop it. It kept showing up.

There were pictures of Michelle going to work, above words that asked how she looked, if she looked dangerous, like a murderer, a killer, a rapist, a thief. Then pictures of her remains, tied to a lamp post, while the words asked if she deserved to die that way. Other pictures showed her helping at the local food bank and local nursing home, how she dressed as a princess and visited sick children at the hospital in the city to the north.

The last picture showed her remains, and the words, as a quote from the Sheriff, “This is what happens to people like that. We should kill all of ‘em. We’d be better off.”

The Sheriff made the news that night. “You’d really let me fall into that? Blame me for that? Let me be the scapegoat for a hate crime?”

I laughed. The Sheriff knew his days were numbered.

250 Words

The next part of the ongoing Armor 17 story. It’s Week 314 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who turn out weekly.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 05/10/2018

I suppose, if we had a conversation, it would likely start with you asking, “What the fuck are you doing in the middle of a salt desert wearing a blindfold, and handcuffs?”

My answer would, of course, be rather long winded. Perhaps it would start with, “Well. This is where the drone dumped me,” which would be quite accurate on my part, but wouldn’t explain why the drone dumped me in the middle of nowhere. Salt as far as I could see in all directions.

Welcome to the fate of a self educated man in our world. Seems I learned too much, taught myself too much, studied too much. And that made me dangerous. Which in turn got me arrested, jailed, pushed through a trial with a jury of my peers, found guilty, and sentenced to almost certain death in the salt desert.

Presto, blindfolded, handcuffed, and carried by a drone aircraft into the middle of the salt flat. The one that’s 11,000 square kilometers. Yeah. The big one. “If you make it out alive, your sins are forgiven, and we will all know God meant for you to be here.”

No one makes it out alive, of course. No shade. No shelter. Tiny little clumps of cactus scattered here and there, although none of them were visible to me. And, even if it rained, which it did frequently, there was no water, because of all the salt.

First thing I did was take off the blindfold. That lead to the second thing. Find the damn box with the keys for the handcuffs. That’s really fair, guys. Dump me in the middle of a salt flat, tell me I’m free if I make it out alive, and then make me spend the first few days looking for a treasure chest with the key in it.

At least I was getting to learn new things. Like how much a man can piss in the middle of a salt flat while slowly dying of thirst? Like if a man stops eating, does he stop shitting too? Or can a man sleep on a salt flat every night? And even what’s the worst kind of sunburn you can get, and still remain functional? Not exactly questions I wanted answers too.

“When looking for something, walk in a growing circle.” Yeah. Great advice there. How the fuck do you walk in a growing circle when there are no landmarks? When you could be moved twenty kilometers in any direction, and it would look exactly like where you are? That turned into, “When looking for something, guess which direction to walk in, and start walking in a straight line.” I figured, “If I find the damn keys, good. If not, no big deal.” Didn’t see any reason to hunt for the keys, wasting time I could spend trying to get out of the biggest salt desert on the planet.

“If this is a perfect circle, and they dumped me in the dead center, it’s roughly 500 kilometers in any direction to get out.” You have no idea how big 500 kilometers is until you try to walk it on foot. At least they let me have good walking shoes and socks.

I knew, of course, there was no way to get out alive. If the weather didn’t kill me, the lack of drinking water and food certainly would. Without water, I figured the longest I’d last was four or five days. Then dehydration would kill me. Or, I’d go stupid, and start drinking salt water out of desperation. And the salt would kill me.

“Well. At least I get to see the stars at night before I go.”

That old legend about water from cactus? Yeah. No one talks about the spines. And even if you can get to the water, no one talks about how much it is.

After the first day, I was coated in salt. That shit stuck to everything. Got on everything. Got in everything. Sweat, and watch the sweat trails turn white and crusty.

As luck would have it, I did make it to a lake. A big puddle of water, on top of a salt block. Yeah. That’s useful. Pink flamencos every fucking where. Zillions of them. Having a god damned party. Swimming around. Flapping wings. Dancing. Like a big damn pink orgy. All that water, and I couldn’t drink any of it. Not one drop.

That’s where I gave up. Sat down on the salt, and watched the fucking birds. And wondered why God made them impervious to all that salt.

760 Words

This is written for Week 53 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. I’m still catching up. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/05/06

I held the drawing before the board of regents, “This is what we found.” My antenna shook, but only briefly.

“Do we have any idea what it is?” One of the Emperor butterflies asked. “Or perhaps what it’s made of?”

What to answer? How to answer? That was always the problem with the unknown. Everyone wanted immediate answers, and there were none. “It’s not made of metal, wood, or stone.” I knew the items in the picture too well. I was there, with the ants, when the expedition dug them up. “It’s a flexible material we’ve never seen before.”

“And how far down was it?”

The strata of dirt, and rock, built by time, layer upon layer. It was our best way to determine an object’s age. “Even deeper than before.”

“So, millions of years, correct?”

“Yes. At least six. Maybe more.”

“How do we know it’s not metal?”

The same explanation I’d given a thousand times. For a thousand objects we’d found in the ground. “Metal would have corroded, and rusted, and turned to dirt. There was plenty of oxide in the dirt where we found this.”

It was, like everything we’d found, huge. It stood a good six Monarch tall. Looked for all the world like a megaphone. Only ridiculously big, and somewhat artistically crafted. Not just a basic cone. “We think we know what it is. Or what it was used for.”


“To amplify sound.” I pointed out the wide opening at one end, “Either to catch sound that otherwise could not be heard. Or to send sound out, from a weak source.” I shrugged, “Like a megaphone, or a hearing aid. And that is how it actually works. We’ve tested that.”

The conversations between the board members were hurried, excited, and nervous. All I could do was watch, and wait, until they decided what to do. I fielded any questions they had for me. “What kind of material, other than stone, can survive for millions of years?”

“None we know of. It’s constructed of a material we’ve never seen. I’ve sent a sample to be analyzed. The Swallowtails are working with that now.”

When they finished their discussions, the decided what to do with this new discovery. “We will place this in the museum, for all to see. It is our conclusion it is another object made by the giants that once roamed the world.

The giants. All we’d ever found of them were the things they made. We’d never found any fosiles. Nothing. “It’s like the wheels, and the tombstones we found. It shows giants once walked the Earth.”

No one knew what the giants looked like. All we knew was they were huge. The wheels we’d found, so like wagon wheels, but made of strange material that never seemed to decay, and hundreds of times larger than any wheels should ever be. The tombstones, sized like office buildings. With written text carved into them. Many of the symbols as large as a Pieridae, or Skipper, and a few, larger even than me, or any other Monarch. The etchings were deep enough, and large enough, entire colonies of ants could live in them.

And roads. We’d found roads. Made from some strange material that decayed into chalky, grey dust, with lines of rust, that had once been metal, all through them. Others made from a black substance. Bits and pieces of the roads remained. Preserved under the dirt. Out of reach from the wind, and rain. It could remain unchanged for millions of years.

The roads defied description. They were beyond huge. The seemed to be endless, and wide as entire cities. Mostly, they left discolored lines in the strata. Strange dirt, encased by normal dirt on either side.

We had no idea what the giants were. We kept hoping we would find remains. We wondered if we would even recognize them if we did. Until we did, or until we found drawings, or paintings, or some other images of them, we’d never know what they were like.

We only knew they were giants. And they lived here. Millions of years ago.

688 words

This is written for Week 52 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. Since I got Week 51 out of the way, I can slowly catch up. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

For The Roses…

In 3 days, it would be my turn. I would turn 50 years old. 50 orbits around the sun, completed. It was time. 3 days. All the time I needed, all the time I could ask for.

I packed my gun in the bottom of my bag. Made certain the fragmenting rounds were in it. I knew how to use it, what to do with it, as my father had known, and his father. I got dressed, and joined my wife for breakfast. We spoke of what was to come. “You know I only have 3 days, right?”

“You’re going to the gardens, right? To stay there? To see the flowers?”

I nodded. She’d made waffles. Blueberries all through them. My favorite, and she knew it. My favorite brand of soda to drink, no milk, no coffee. “Hope you like your meal, dear.”

“It’s perfect.” I smiled. “You’ll send Tommy after the car?”

“Yes. It’s all settled.”

“I wish Becky was older. Already moved out. Would make it easier on her, I think.”

My wife of 24 years nodded. “I’ll join you in a couple of years, you know.”

It was my turn to nod, “I know. I hope they’re good years for you.”

“They will be. At least I’ll have all my memories.”

I finished eating, visited the bathroom one more time, and got my bag. I kissed the love of my life on my way out. That was, I think the hardest part, saying good-bye to her. Even knowing the day was coming for my entire life didn’t make that any easier. Knowing I would never see her smile again. Never hold her again. “Dad told me this would be the toughest part, you know.”

“A wise man, your father.” She held me a bit tighter. “Why do I never want to let you go?” I let her hold me for as long as she wished. Knowing she would let me go. Knowing this was her last gift to me. “Remember me, OK? Promise me. Promise me you’ll remember me, and wait for me.”

“I will, dear. You know I will.”

Those were the last words I spoke to her.

The drive to the botanical garden was quiet. I never turned on the radio, or any music. Instead, I listened to the world. The sound of the wind, the songs of birds, the laughter of children, the honking of horns in traffic. All of it. I’d never noticed how beautiful it was. Never noticed how much a gift daily life was.

The drive was uneventful. Quiet, even. The young man, still a boy, really, who let me through the gate, nodded. “I’ll let them know you’ve arrived. No one will disturb you.”

“Thank you.”

It all started a thousand years ago. It’s all there in the history books. How the world couldn’t support all of us. There were too many people. There was not enough water. Not enough air. Not enough metals, minerals, plants, animals. Not enough of anything. Tens of thousands of us starved every day. Tens of thousands of us fought in wars, every day. Old men shot children, boys and girls, to protect their own children. Murder was the only way to get a job. Someone had to die for an opening to become available. There were too many people.

It was the same with our religions. Every one of them claimed to be the only true faith. Claimed their god was the only god. There were entire parts of the world left in ruins, the ground radioactive, the air toxic to breathe, where religions had tried to kill each other. No one could go there. No one could live there. Even after a thousand years, thousands of square miles of land, all over the surface of our world, were still so deadly, not even bacteria lived there. And bacteria could live anywhere. Even inside volcanoes, where they thrived on the noxious gases, and temperatures that would melt rock, and incinerate a person so thoroughly, not even their bones would remain.

Our religions had killed parts of our world. No one would ever live there again. It would be 100,000 years, maybe much longer than that, before those parts of the planet healed.

Faced with our own extinction, we finally woke up, as a people. We finally stopped fighting. We’d learned there was no winning. That winning meant destroying everyone else, and everything else.

So, we changed. It started with the old men, really. They knew. They knew they were the problem. So, they wrote new laws. Then, they followed those laws. And all the old men, every last one of them, over the age of 50, shot themselves.

The women did the same.

Now, after a thousand years, it’s our way of life. It’s how we care for our world. For our children. For the life that remains here. We move on. We die. At 50 years old. It has limited the population, or at least the rate of growth. There are always jobs for our children when they become adults. No one starves anymore. Hunger on our world is gone. So is poverty.

We nearly lost our world, nearly destroyed it, and ourselves, before we learned. All life is priceless. All life is to be valued. All life is to be protected. Not use my life. Not just my families life. But the lives of those I have never known. The lives of the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea. They all matter.

It was three days until I turned 50. I stood in an ocean of roses. Deep, velvet red, pure, innocent white. And countless other colors. I’d always loved roses. They’d always brought peace to my soul. Calm to my life.

That’s why I stayed there, among them, until the sun set. And why no one came to get me after the garden closed.

My body will be here when the sun rises in the morning. But I won’t be. For the good of our world, the good of my children, the good of the roses. I’ll reach into my bag, beneath the light of the stars, sometime tonight. And I’ll get my gun.

And before the sun rises, I’ll do what I must. To make this world a better place for everyone.

Sunday, 06 May 2018


Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/05/02

The two of the sit by the the patio door every day. They sit there from sunrise to sunset, only taking breaks to eat and other things they have to do. I know why they sit there. That’s the door she left through. When they carried her body away.

She died in her sleep one night. It’s been three years now. When they came and got her, they took her out through that door. Kitty and Pooch. That’s what she called them. They sat by that door, and watch as their mamma left. Now. They sit by that door every day. Waiting for her to come home.

I can’t blame them. Sometimes, I wish there was enough left of me to join them. To sit by that door, and wait, like they do. But, when she left, everything I was went with her. Now, Kitty and Pooch wait for her to come back, and I stare mindlessly at my computer screen, watching anything I can stand to watch, playing video games, and making routine visits to social media sites.

I’m killing time. Empty time. Time I have no use for. I used to go to church every Sunday, because she wanted to, and it meant I got to spend some time with her. We went to dinner several times a week, and I would have gone to dinner anywhere she wanted, because. She was there, and I could spend time with her. Long walks in the national parks. Long walks on the beach, or in the mountains.

Until the day she got sick. It was quick, at least. 8 months. She didn’t have to suffer through years of slow decay, watching her memories fade away, or taking endless rounds of toxic chemicals to fight it off. Just 8 months. That’s all. We found out when she fell while we were walking. She fell. And she couldn’t get up. I had to call for help. Was quite the scene, on the sand, with the ocean right there. She kept telling me at least it happened in a good place, so she didn’t mind waiting for the help to arrive.

I don’t want to remember what it was. Some Latin words used to name it, like they name everything. I’ve done everything I can to forget the name. To forget what took her from me. What left me here. Alone.

Kitty and Pooch are happy. They eat. They play. I let them out in the yard and they do their thing. And when they’re ready, I let them back in. They sleep on opposite sides of me every night. Kitty on the left. Pooch on the right. Kitty snores. Maybe the best thing I’ve ever heard in life. And Pooch has dreams. He talks in his sleep. “Yam, wow, wow, woo, woo, uff, uff.” I sometimes wonder what he’s talking about, and who he’s talking too. If pooch has a bad night, with bad dreams, he starts kicking, and snapping. Kitty gets up, every time, climbs over me, and plunks down on Pooch. Shuts him up, and calms him down. She takes care of him.

Like their mamma took care of me.

They sit there. Every day. Waiting. I don’t have the heart to tell them she’s never coming back. I think they know anyway. But they sit there every day. Watching the world outside the house. Rain or shine. I even moved the food dishes next to the door, so they can eat, and still watch.

And I sit here. Wishing I could kill my time. Wishing my time would finally run out.

It never does.

I think I’ll play another video game now. That should kill a couple of hours.

Kitty and Pooch will still be there, by that door, watching and waiting, for her to come home.

636 words

This is written for Week 51 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. I fought writing this for 3 weeks. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.