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Joanie

A short vignette featuring characters from, Where Fools Dare to Tread, A Monk Buttman Mystery.

Monk Buttman Mysteries

Joanie is a neighbor of Monk’s and a one time flame for whom he continues to carry a torch.Theirs, oddly enough,is a codependent relationship.

“Are you coming or not?” Joanie was
standing over me.

“You’re singing, right?”

“I told you that already! What’s up with
you, Buttman?”

She was well aware of what was up with
me.

“I want to make sure there’s something to
entertain me other than you making googly eyes over this new guy,” I
harrumphed.

“Oh brother, and his name is Mikal. I
expect you to behave, Monk.”

I rolled my eyes, “Who do you think you
are, Ardis?”

“Consider it a move out of Ardis’ playbook. Are you going to behave?”

I thought about it.

“Well?” she demanded.

“I always behave.” I didn’t care for the
direction this conversation was taking. “You’re the one who wants me to make
sure about the guy, remember?”

Joanie…

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The Importance of Pre-season Football

For reasons unknown, but mostly because I’ve been conditioned over the years to watch just about anything, I turned on the boobtube just in time to catch the last quarter and a half of the thrilling pre-season game between the Seahawks and the Broncos. The game was tied 6-6.

A real barnburner.

By the time I tuned in, it was incumbent upon the third stringers to liven up the game. In the end the Seahawks prevailed 22 to 14. The high point-assuming such a thing exists in a practice game-was noted Broncos bust Paxton Lynch sticking it to his former team by scoring 2 touchdowns, one passing, one running.

As in all sports, there is something deeply ironic and pathetic in a feat such as Mr. lynch’s, which in no way mitigates how poorly he played in Denver, nor serves notice of his impending greatness in Seattle where he will be, assuming he makes the team, holding a clipboard and supporting “I’m not going anywhere” Russell Wilson. For all we know, he may be soon doing what all such busts do, which is dissolve into the faceless crowd with the rest of us.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of pre-season football is that it is, essentially, a series of scrimmages between teams for the sole purposes of marginal player evaluation and to acclimate players to the rigors of the game now that teams no longer have a traditional pre-season camp where they beat the hell out of one another. There is also the time honored tradition of gouging the public for the sake of watching a meaningless game.

Personally, I know of no one who will one day fondly reminisce of a pre-season touchdown, by a player whose name escapes them, scored in the mists of time.

Perhaps it’s practice for the fans too.

An added frivolity of pre-season football, minus the players we will instantly forget, is the joy at seeing what the NFL rules committee will do this season to make the game even more unwatchable. Returning to the ironic, it is there in spades as we watch player upon player penalized for lowering his head after years of being trained to do just that. It may be that the NFL is serious in mitigating the scourge of brain injuries plaguing former players, but it may be its way of covering its ass or simply to make the game even more incomprehensible.

Does it sound as if I’m souring on the game?

It’s possible.

Some of this stems from watching a meaningless touchdown in a practice game celebrated as if it were the winning score in the Super Bowl. I don’t mind celebrations in games that count, even if they sometimes are a little over top, but, to quote Allen Iverson: “…We’re’ talking about practice!”

That the Clink, as the Seahawks home field is “affectionately” known, was filled with paying fans to watch a practice game is indicative of our spectator culture and possibly a commentary on the dreariness of the rest of our lives. I understand the allure: I was once there myself, but as coverage has blown all out of proportion to the game itself, I’ve backed off.

It’s only a practice game.

And sadly, for the abysmal Mariners, it’s also much more popular.

©2019 David William Pearce

Bennie and Ardis

Monk Buttman Mysteries

This is the third vignette for the book, Where Fools Dare to Tread. Bennie and Artis own the Moonlight Arms, the courtyard bungalow community where Monk lives. It’s a throwback to an older LA, before it became the megalopolis it is now.

“Well I’ll be damned.” Benjamin Madison
was checking me out. “You ever heard of a man named Rory Calhoun?”

“Cowboy star of the Fifties and Sixties
wasn’t he?” I wasn’t absolutely certain of that.

“That he was, worked with him at Universal; I was a set director. Sharp dresser, that man. What can I do for ya?”

“I heard you had a place for rent.”

“True.” Bennie, as I would come to know him, rubbed his chin. I found he did this as he was thinking. Bennie stood about six foot, which, given his age; I assumed well into his eighties, meant at one time he was quite tall. “Of course…

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Northwest Summer Angst

The other day the sun came out and it stayed out and the temperature ventured into the upper 70’s. This after a fairly dreary July, which in recent years was usually the unofficial beginning of our real summer. In a spasm of optimism, I uncovered the patio furniture on the deck and basked in the sunshine and the warm summer breeze lazing over my thinning hairline.

Unlike the rest of the country, which, as I understand it, is roasting in 100+ degree heat, summer comes late to the northwest mainly because that monster of a body of water we call the Pacific, tends to cavalierly send cool ocean air our way, disregarding our desire for something other than cool cloudy blah.. Then, just because, a ridge of high pressure forms-I know this because the TV told me-and the cool air wanders north and heat and sunshine visit.

Many find this a good thing.

For about a week or two.

After that come the somewhat bizarre affectation I call “Northwest Summer Derangement“. This is a temperament that eases into the northwest soul, whether you were born here or are a transplant, such that you become unconsciously enamored with cool temperatures, showers, and a kind of closed in feeling that comes from low clouds, tall trees, and gloom.

I’m not the first to note this phenomena.

Like all such afflictions, NSD cleverly follows us like a shadow such that we forget it’s there. Early on, the warmth and the sunshine have the rather positive effect of allowing us to go outside, doff our outerwear, head to the waters of the Puget Sound, and frequent the parks where the ground is now dry and the conditions perfect for wondering why it can’t be like this year round.

It is at this point that NSD begins its insidious insinuation into our febrile brains. First, the temperature will move into the 80’s, and on occasion the 90’s, and God forbid, the end-of-times 100’s. This happened a decade ago and it was worse than an earthquake-I kid you not. Hell was not this hot.

This prompts a round of complaining that it is… too hot.

Next is the noted byproduct of high ridges of pressure: it does not rain and it gets dry, and can stay that way for weeks. Some are quite fond of this, but many are not. We become parched, thin, dehydrated. And in the past couple of years, this has been exacerbated by smoke from fires that are common in summer out west, but generally don’t waif our way. A kind of panic ensued that even resulted in calls for legislation, as if that would have any affect. This produces the bizarre fear that it will never rain again. Never mind that this has yet to happen in the nearly 40 years I’ve been here or in the millennia before that.

At some point, of course, the temperature falls as does the rain and summer is over. Our NSD abates and we return to our normal state of showers, clouds, occasional sun breaks, and gloom. All is as it should be.

We then complain that summer was too short.

©2019 David William Pearce

Time and Tide, Locally…

Soon, next month, the evisceration of Northgate Mall, here in the northern clines of Seattle, will begin. The quintessential American institution, which in this case has been in operations since the 1950’s, and ironically, is part and parcel to that great American Vision that is lapsing into memory and myth, will be remade into the new American comercial vision of mixed used predation so endemic to the new American cityscape.

A mouthful, yes.

In its place will rise hotels, apartments, ice rinks-due in part to support the city’s new NHL franchise, and of course, businesses. But the mall will be no more. Whether this is good or bad depends on your point of view and point of reference. In a post from the Stranger, one of our locally venerated rags, the author is both disdainful of plans for the mall and for those with any fond memories, save those involving ghosts or well-known local serial killers. This is all fine and dandy for an amused young woman, but for those of us with ties that go deeper than fay irony, it is another sign that all things pass out of time.

Some of this is because many an afternoon during my parenting years were spent at Northgate. It was close and convenient and allowed the boys to run around and be bored. And while I’m not particularly sentimental, I do find the relentless pace of change to be a reminder of why longing for some mythical perfect past is a waste of time.

Whatever MAGA is supposed to mean or imagine, a return to the past is as pointless as hoping that somehow, someway, Northgate Mall will return to its past glory simply because it’s a part of my past and my memories and the presumption that those memories will always be better than any that will come afterword.

If anything, the demise of Northgate is emblematic of the constant churn of consumerism in this country and how ephemeral any particular period in time is. That it plays into a mythical past, the 1950’s-60’s, when all was good, despite war, bigotry, red-scares, and the big one (the Bomb), is akin to the people of that period’s longing for the calm and quiet of the late 19th century, who probably longed for the good times before the Civil War, is quintessential American nostalgia. And on and on.

For old time’s sake, I took a melancholy stroll through the mall as it was unlikely I would have a reason to return before they began its deconstruction. It was eerily quiet and devoid of shoppers. Many of the store were closed or in the process of being closed. As is so prevalent in modern business practices, the people who actually worked there were no more informed about their futures than I was. Only that soon it would be their turn.

Soon.

Soon it will be just a memory.

And a place to catch a train into town.

©2019 David William Pearce

An Appreciation-Russell Baker

Monk Buttman Mysteries

Russell Baker, the noted columnist for the New York Times, who passed away earlier this year, was, like the best chroniclers of American life, clear eyed with a dry wit and perhaps ironically when read now, an understanding that no matter of much things change; so much remains the same.

This becomes apparent when reading his collection of columns from the 1070’s in the book, So This Is Depravity. In it, he explores, in his own inimical style, dysfunctional government, boorish politicians chasing the money and lying for the benefit of inattentive constituents, pointless destructive war, sexism, racism, the allure and corruption of the American myth, bad parents, and the new generation that has no thought for the old. He also notes our never-ending fetishing of personal habits and vices.

Sound familiar?

We are certain that we are so much better, more knowledgeable, and prescient of what the future…

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Ouch!

Pain, as they say, is the medium through which we exist, both within and away from its grasp. A means to remind us of our frailty and mortality.

This came to me as I stared down at what was once my left leg: pale, reasonably muscular, and hairless from too many years wearing uniform pants that methodically wore the hair away. The leg now is multicolored, a collage of black, blue, yellow, and purple; the colors of the “blood under the skin” rainbow.

The cause of this multicolored rainbow occured at a baseball game where yours truly attempted to score on a sac fly from third base. On the third step I injured the Adductor Longus Muscle that runs from the pubic bone to the femur, or in the parlance of the game: I popped a groin muscle.

And you do feel a pop. You also feel a searing pain as though someone is running sharp fingernails along the nerve endings. It was at this point that I stoically flopped on the ground in agony.

The shocked and concerned third base coach, upon seeing me flop to the ground, advised me to get up and try to make it to home plate so I would not be tagged out. Through grit, determination, a lot of foul language, and a poor throw from the outfield, I heroically scored.

I also bled under the skin, fairly profusely, and later passed out, but that’s quibbling. We all have our moments.

Naturally, there was concern for my condition, and when it was determined I would not succumb to my injury, I had a beer, chili cheese fries, passed out, assured the Medic One guys I was ok, and went home.

To more agony.

Because wounds must heal. I could have gone to the Emergency Room and demanded all the opioids a man might need, but they do nothing for me, and given our national nightmare concerning opioid addiction, I worry, so I turned to ice packs and Tylenol. They helped, but there is an ache that dwells below the pain that is, to my mind, more insidious.

It is what remains after the pain meds do what they can do and it is what morphs into chronic pain, the ache that does not recede and walks with you during every agonizing step. It is what makes life less desirable far quicker than anything you might imagine especially as you age because you do not heal quicker when you get older.

For me, it is the mastery of the ache, the dull all consuming radiation throughout the body, that becomes the only important thing in life. Having foolishly injured myself too many times in the past, I know what’s coming. It is also at times like this that I am incredibly thankful I don’t have to deal with chronic illness and its attendant ache. Muscles and tendons heal, can be reattached, will, usually, return to a normal, whether new or old, condition. But to have that pain and ache to be a regular daily companion is not something I would wish on anyone.

©2019 David WIlliam Pearce

Buttman and Boyer

Short vignette featuring characters from the book, Where Fools Dare to Tread.

Monk Buttman Mysteries

In this second vignette, Monk meets his handler at Aeschylus and Associates, the LA law firm with whom he contracts his services.

Buttman and Boyer

Boyer was on his office phone, his feet propped on the desk. He didn’t notice as Marsyas Durant and I came in. His attention was directed to the iPhone in his other hand and whatever was on it.

“It’s perfect. I’ve been…”

“Mr. Boyer,” Durant’s patience had run out.

Boyer looked up. Flustered, he dropped the iPhone and missed the receiver with the one that was attached to his ear only moments before.

“Mr. Durant…sorry,” Boyer fumbled with the office phone, finally placing it on the desk. “Yes sir.”

“This is Mr. Monk Buttman. In reference to what we discussed at our meeting on Friday, he will be acting as the firm’s contact. Mr. Buttman, this is Todd Boyer, he handles some of our more…

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Is It Time to Worry?

Lately, I’ve been receiving many urgent form letters professing concern for my overall health and well-being.

I’m touched. Really!

And, no doubt, as I barrel into my golden years, the spectre of age-related deterioration is certainly a condition to be resolutely on the lookout for. No one wants to grow old and feeble and senile, assuming anyone even uses that word anymore. We don’t don’t want to fall into the clutches of dementia either-assuming it’s somehow different from senility! Also, as we continue to live in a youth-obsessed culture, growing old is a most terrible thing.

This poses a problem.

While we cannot technically stop aging, apparently, we can fake ourselves out when it comes to the outer trappings that aging foists upon our unwilling psyches. However, plastic surgery (And is that a more appropriate term given the appearance it produces?) can only do its work on the outside, and cannot remake what’s on the inside. I’m talking the physiological versus the spiritual for which there are many self-help gurus and polemics.

It is into this land of wonder that I am now subjected. Did you know there are drugs and steroids and the like that will suspend the aging process and turn me into a later life he-man? So the pamphlets and advertisements assure me. I am agog at my many options. I can also have many full body scans that my regular doctors have thoughtfully not subjected me to, but that may simply be that they have no direct monetary reason to do so.

I know life has made me deeply cynical.

Then there are the lifestyle choices I can make that will earn me possible monetary rewards should I better my health in how I choose to physically debase myself. That beggars the question of whether I should have eaten more bad-for-you foods, smoked, doped, and spent more time on the couch surfing the detritus common to modern television viewing when I was younger.

I am depressed.

I got a flyer to fix that too!

©2019 David William Pearce

Monk and Agnes Go Shopping

Fun little vignettes from the book, Where Fools Dare to Tread.

Monk Buttman Mysteries

This is the first in a series of short vignettes featuring the characters from the new book, Where Fools Dare to Tread: A Monk Buttman Mystery, which was be released on February 21st.

Monk and Agnes at the store:

“What’s wrong with chips?” Agnes demanded.

“They’re not healthy! It’s important to eat healthy.” I assumed that went without saying.

“So what are you saying?”

“We’re not getting any chips,” I said.

“But I like chips! I want to have some chips. I’m not going to just eat apples and stuff.”

“Stuff?” Apparently that was her term for the other food in the shopping cart.

“Stuff!” she huffed.

We stood in the junk food isle sizing each other up. Some things between us made sense, the dancing, the drinking, the sex. Other weighty matters such as basic foodstuffs were more problematic. Agnes’ pantry was, minus the canned soup and Cheetos, empty…

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