Archive for the ‘paranoid life’ Category

BAYOU SAINT BASIL, Fla

It was called the greatest sporting day in decades.

Vic down by the Bayou, investigating the latest raccoon atrocity.

Vic down by the Bayou, investigating the latest raccoon atrocity.

Cocktail hour comes early on Derby Day. Across the bog that moistens my doorstep, on the opposite shore, is Odin’s Spit, a filthy stretch of black-dirt beach spilling forth from the shade of pine trees like a fold of abdominal flesh overcoming a waistband. On any common weekday, the pontoon boats and jet-skis start to lineup around 6pm as the local swamp-folk finish toiling at the outlet shopping mall kiosks and return to Bayou St Basil to unwind with a good many cocktail and country music crooning in bathing attire that hasn’t looked good on them in 27 years, nearly half of their life ago. This, however, isn’t any common weekday; this day in question is a Saturday. Derby Day, no less.

It wasn’t half passed 7am before the droning buzz of jet-skis woke me from my recuperative slumber. Fell asleep outside again, holding onto a glass formerly containing what was likely a flavorful elixir of botanicals bathed in rum or gin. Whatever may had spilled on my Van Halen reunion tour shirt would have evaporated in the night to the din of the screeching sister-fucking raccoons clawing after Manchurian flavored Styrofoam containers thieved from nearby refuse containers. By 9am, Odin’s Spit is aflame with sunburnt bog people, brunching on cheap cinnamon candied-whiskies and fellatio-by-proximity.

I wouldn’t say there is a Derby Day tradition here at St Bas Trailer Park. For a while, the ruling matriarch Queen Georgia (God rest her blaspheming soul), set a standard with flamboyant hats and mint-julip inspired cocktails, which were little more than Bacardi & Sprite with green food coloring. Nonetheless, you’d hear Queen Georgia’s smoky-throated catcalls to the pontoon boat captains, “I feel like such a slutty debutante and I am as stoned as Mary-fucking-Magdalene!” I shouldn’t speak poorly of Queen Georgia. I still feel guilty about the words overheard by her widower’d boyfriend who collected her remains while in his sandals, jean shorts and prison-tattooed sleeves… prison tattooed arms despite his never spending more than weekends in jail for illegal possession or soliciting a minor.

One of the feral kids came by with a tin can full of pennies and started speaking the clicks and hoots of the language of birds he and the other feral bastards speak to each other. I tossed a disposed corn cob at the child and despite the projectile’s lack of edible kernels, the feral bastard was content to gnaw on the rind with his eerie shark teeth and leave me to my freshly brewed coffee.

“Derby Day, Boss.” One of the Jamaicans from next door happened by. He wanted to bet on horseflesh, as did I; but I don’t piss in my backyard, as it were. He hung around to share a cigarette, which I didn’t want, and to chat. All was bombocloth and other fuckery I didn’t understand. I asked him if he ‘Rasta’ with all dem dreads and he just shine a smile, laugh and ebb like slack tide.

derby dayLONGWOOD, Fla

I took the county bus towards Casselberry – hopping on the metro three stops further east than I needed to, hopping off two stops earlier than necessary, all to disassociate myself from a regular travelling pattern – and then walked the rest of the way towards the Jai Lai arena. There’s a Cuban sandwich joint I go to when I need to spend money to get money. I used to do the majority of my gambling in the back room at The Copper Rocket, but since the Governor shut them down, I have been something of a gambling vagabond having brief, illicit, one-night affairs with various bookies of varying degrees of sketchy aftershave. Manulito is a cool fucking cat. He’s old enough to have ears like satellite dishes. They say the ears and the nose keep growing the older you get and this Manulito must have more tree rings than half the oaks in Seminole County. The white fluffy hair sprouting out of those elephantine ears is almost reminiscent of Spanish moss, completing the oak tree analogy.

Doc Kelly showed up. I had Manulito place a call and sure enough, the dude showed… the nerve. Manulito pressed a couple breakfast sandwiches as Doc and I sat down to pretend to read Spanish newspapers and sip café con leche as if we weren’t already both over-caffeinated. Doc was getting over the flu, as was I, both of us independently suffering this last week. We hadn’t seen each other in two weeks, which made me think Doc was kissing on my girl again. Not that she was my girl and maybe he even tipped her better, but nevertheless, I have been drinking more NyQuil than beer this week and I blamed Doc for these ills one way or another.

Boxing Floyd Manny

A Place (To Place Bets)

There is a thing called “the Gambler’s Fallacy” which is the belief that after so many strokes of a certain type of luck, that luck must turn. For example, if you flip a coin and it lands “heads” three times in a row, you might think the next flip has to be “tails” because chance would suggest so… and that would be false. Fallacy. The flip you make is still a 50% chance of “tails” regardless of whichever shit occurred prior.

Similarly, you could keep betting that a crooked sport is eventually going to go straight-arrow and this too would be fallacy. This Manny Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather fight has generated such an ungodly amount of money it should be seen in the same lens as a MARVEL: AVENGERS movie. There are too many parties involved, the stakes are too high; you must make one with the promise of another, regardless of how it cheapens the event. Even if there is moral outrage in the streets of the world on Sunday over the scripted nature of this fight, it has to be fixed and those who fix it will become all the more profitable regardless of the shame cast upon them. So dig this: in December, when this ‘greatest fight of the fucking millennium’ was announced, there were 24:1 odds of a draw. Those odds are currently 10:1 for the stalemate. I don’t think Floyd or Manny will take a fall, but I do believe they will be in on the ruse and fight for a stalemate, which would insist on a sequel. For all the money they may be worth, they would be worth a lot more if they could fight this match again.

Politics, Boxing and Horseflesh will never be fair game as long as the power and control are in the hands of the financiers.

I put a few paychecks on a Pacquiao/Mayweather draw and I spilt my pizza delivery tip jar in the direction of American Pharaoh to win the Kentucky Derby. I put a Bitcoin down on the San Antonio Spurs plus 2 in Game 7, for the sake of nostalgia if nothing else. Nothing I can’t lose.

Doc Kelly asked if I could clean myself up by the afternoon. Did I have a smoking jacket and a pair of slacks? He finagled our names onto the invite list for a Derby Day/Fight-Night gala with the Lake Osceola Yacht and Leisure Club and I needed to present myself as a decent Florida gentleman. I stopped by the backdoor of the Bosniak-run dry-cleaners and bought someone’s tuxedo off the meat rack for $20 and my favorite pair of flip-flops. All I need now are the cufflinks.

The Good Money’s on Floyd/Manny Draw…. Shake it and roll! Yahtzee!

THE OUTCOME: vic breaks even

Mayweather vs Pacquiao: Vic bet on the draw and Floyd Mayweather won convincingly.

Kentucky Derby: Vic bet on American Pharaoh and American Pharaoh won!

NBA: Vic bet Spurs +2 and the Clippers won by 2 – it’s a push.

Vic and Doc at the Derby party...

Vic and Doc at the Derby party…

Advertisements
Encountering your double can be a harrowing event

Encountering your double can be a harrowing event

Encountering your exact double can be a harrowing event. Whether your Doppelgänger is a flesh & blood equal, a factory-produced cyborg or some sort of astral projection acting as a harbinger of death, meeting with your double can be debilitating, let alone frightening. How would you react if you encountered a replica you in line at the DMV or coming out of the massage parlor? Shock, violence, affection? Even more importantly – how would you react to their reaction of seeing & realizing you? No one can be sure how the hypotheticals would play out, but this lack of foresight shan’t prevent anyone from preparing for such an existential crisis. Preparation is where I, Vic Neverman, may be of assistance. Living something of a duplicitous life, I have turned myself inside-out enough times I once woke from a night of drinking to find my liver in a coat pocket. Years ago, I witnessed my Trippelgänger pissing on the 3rd rail from a North Chicago elevated train platform and, despite popular opinion, the dude was not electrocuted as a result. My years of experience in these strange matters grant me the knowledge to guide You, dear reader, on how to not just protect your Self, but preserve your sense of self, when confronted with the existence of Another You.

Running into your own doppelganger is more than a simple case of déjà vu and may require a complex series of social interactions I like to call ‘Shadow Dancing’. The Shadow Dance begins with Identification – are you certain this is your double? The second stage is Reaction – what are the social protocols involved when confronting your other? The final stage, if needed, is Subjugation – if you determine you cannot coexist with your double, how do you contain or exterminate someone who might have the same subjugation in mind for you?

Do it light, taking me through the night
Shadow dancing, baby you do it right
Give me more, drag me across the floor
Shadow dancing, all this and nothing more

– Andy “the other” Gibb

Shadow Dancing: How to Properly Handle an Encounter with your Doppelgänger

IDENTIFICATION

IMG_1418Are you sure it is You you are looking at? Head-Shrinkers describe a Syndrome of Subjective Doubles, which occurs in schizophrenics and/or anyone ingesting hallucinogens. Let’s be honest, if you are reading my blog, chances are you fit into this category one way or another. Syndrome of Subject Doubles means it is possible the likeness you are encountering is a figment of your imagination being transferred onto the face of another. Basically, your perception skills a little sketchy. Given this likelihood when encountering doppelgangers, I recommend applying the Neverman Rule of Paranoia: is it safer to be paranoid when there is no danger or aloof when there is danger? In the case of Doppelgangry, we cannot assume your duplicate represents danger… yet. Duplication does not always add up to a negative, so I urge skepticism when considering similarities perceived in this Other. Do not act violently when encountering your double because the problem may be you, not them.

How to determine if this person really is your double?

  1. How does the doppelganger react to encountering you? Do they appear quizzical at your existence? Remember – you might actually be their uninvited Doppelganger. This happened to me once at a potluck in Oregon and it was quite embarrassing.
  2. How are others in the room reacting? Are they laughing with irony as they point, look at the twins!? Are there pets in the room, belonging to you or the Other, which are whimpering in confusion? Is there an off-spring of your double who is attempting to suckle at your teat? If yes to any of the above, then you are not hallucinating – you are faced with a double.
  3. Are you in Ybor City? For my experience, doppelgangry runs ramped in this West Florida community. Same too with Vancouver, with the difference being doppelgangers in British Columbia wear mullets.
  4. Subtly check for distinguishing birthmarks or tattoos. Is there anything that matches your own trademarks? If it comes off when you rub it with a little spit, then chances are this person is an imposter, not a doppelganger. Remember –act subtly.
  5. When engaging your double in conversation, do not try to quiz it on life questions. Note: doppelgangers may not share your life history. Your face, name, personality and goat-like reflexes might all be the same, sure… but their life experience may be some laboratory until this night in question (or vice-versa).
how do you contain or exterminate someone who might have the same subjugation in mind for you?

how do you contain or exterminate someone who might have the same subjugation in mind for you?

REACTION

I was just minding my own business....

I was just minding my own business….

Okay. So you’ve concluded this is another You. You (you-you, not them-you) should still hold the cards tightly to your vest (especially if you are literally playing a card game and are literally wearing a vest, but really, who does that anymore?). Stick with the poker-face, give your reflected Other the same shit-eating grin and courtesy laugh you have on display for the rest of the schmucks in the room. Shake hands, rub ankles, do whatever is customary amongst the natives of this region, but do not be the first to acknowledge the commonality. Remain objective, unconvinced.

Whether your doppelganger is a threat to your existence or not, it is best to keep him/her disarmed with your aloofness. Your disinterest will foment doubt and temper their action. You must keep in mind: action will be guided by fear. Eco once described the ‘fear of the double’ having to do with redundancy and a sense of meaninglessness. This is the prevailing theme in Dostoevsky’s novel The Double where the anxious protagonist has his life stolen from and then improved upon by a more charismatic doppelgänger. You must tread lightly as this Other may consider you a threat to their sense of self, if not their very existence.

A couple of notes on interacting with your doppelganger:

...then she came into my life.

…when she came into my life.

  1. If your doppelganger seems to be aware of or share your entire life history, this could be one of two things:
    1. They are a harbinger of death. Best case scenario, it is breakfast time and they are the ‘fetch’ of Irish folklore, a spiritual double when seen in the morning means good news, evening bad. If there is an ethereal quality to their voice or flesh, then this is likely some sort of spiritual omen. Be sure to take a cab home, use protection and double-lock the front door (not necessarily in that order).
    2. They are a cyborg – part clone, part artificial intelligence robot implanted with a memory built from your “imprint” upon social media. Some mad scientist must have thought you important enough to recreate. Hopefully you are a comedian or very good looking, otherwise, you have likely become expendable. If the otherwise – Run!

(the rest of the notes in this section assume your doppelganger has a different life history)

  1. If they (your doppelganger) are present with a spouse, try at all costs to not seduce or become seduced by your double’s partner. This is bad manners.
  2. If they (your doppelganger) are present with a companion who they have not yet married, feel free to express yourself as a better version of the man/woman they are currently with – but at your own risk. While it may be easy to persuade your double’s partner, Joan or John Doe, you have the aesthetic likeness along with better breeding and/or education than your double, pointing out such things may incite fracas (#incitefracas).
  3. If you are present with a companion or spouse when you encounter your doppelganger, you should immediately neutralize the threat (i.e. maim, lock in lavatory, set afire, ridicule, file for a restraining order, surprise head-butt, switch their aftershave with chloroform, put laxatives in their meatloaf, snitch on them to the IRS, have your Gypsy mother-in-law stink-eye them) in case they are the aesthetic equal of you, but of better breeding and/or education.
  4. If you are present with a companion or spouse when you encounter your doppelganger and they too are present with a companion or spouse whom is quite fetching, perhaps you wait and see what happens?
  5. If the only visual difference between you and your doppelganger is facial hair, chances are the more radically groomed double is the evil twin of the Other. Regardless of which one you are, begin the act of subjugation.
  6. Likewise, if you or the Other is named Garth(e), begin the act of subjugation as this is not going to end well.
Michael Knight vs. Garthe Knight

Michael Knight vs. evil twin Garthe Knight

SUBJUGATION

Everyone has a right to free will, to live as the person they are (as long as their pursuit of happiness does not infringe on others, of course). If you are called onto a daytime talk show to learn the life you thought you had was fabricated and you are no more than a clone of the unique snowflake you formerly thought yourself to be, your right to exist as “you” is no less true. Similarly, if you are the original “you” and you learn someone has become your clone without your consent; your right to retain your identity is valid. Negotiation between doubles is not always an option. Each entity has the right to live as their self and neither may be at peace with self-exile or the redundancy of living with a double.

It’s you or them. If you do not act, they will. But how do you defeat your Doppelganger if they are likely out to defeat you? True – not all doppelgangers are created equally and your double may lack your life experience or moral ambiguity or the reflexes of fainting goat – but chances are they know exactly what you are going to do right about the same time you realize you are going to do it. How do you get the better of someone who isn’t just in your head, but has your head?

Captain Kirk vs. Garth from Izar - Let Spock Decide!

Captain Kirk vs. Garth from Izar – Let Spock Decide!

  1. Don’t try to out-think your double. They will anticipate that.
  2. Hire a professional to eradicate the nuisance resembling you. Just make sure the professional knows which of you is you and which is not paying the bounty.
  3. Do the exact opposite of whatever your impulse is. No, wait… the Other will anticipate that too.
  4. Build up a tolerance for poisons, invite your doppelganger over for dinner and poison only your plate using a different poison you have never built up a tolerance for. No, they’d think of that too.
  5. Let Spock decide.
  6. Build a decision engine akin to a Magic 8-Ball which will make random decisions you could act upon in order to best your opponent. Your doppelganger will be unable to predict which tactic you might take in subjugating them. Do this before they do the same to you.
  7. If all else fails, shave the goatee, grow a mullet and move to British Columbia. Hopefully, your doppelganger is not already there.

R.I.P. Copper Rocket Pub (1995–2015)

The Copper Rocket Pub lived as she died: an unassuming public house noticed by naught except those afflicted by her heavily-perfumed ardor. Copper Rocket was a beast whose gravity was heavier than the sum of her parts. On the surface, the Rocket was snuck away into the armpit of a sunburnt strip-mall in Central Florida, residing beside the dry cleaning façade next door (rumored to be a front operation for an international online spamming organization) and for all intents & purposes entirely unremarkable. The interior was “contemporary dive” circa 1990s, the time period when the Rocket first launched. The food was best avoided, yet the draft selection was quite noble, even before there was demand for imported and craft beer. Copper Rocket’s walls were held up by dart boards and her sticky floors held down by a billiards table. When she was empty, she was lonesome; an aching cavern devoid of life. When she was full, usually on trivia night or when local bands played atop the barest modicum of stage, she was alive and vigorous, busting at the seams like a drunken madam wearing the same corset which made her rich in her prosperous youth. And yet this was not the entirety of my Copper Rocket. My Copper Rocket was a place where the mind bent along wavelengths drowned out by the swill and the dull afterglow of the cosmic microwave, where the perverse vibrations of sink holes far beneath our sticky-bottom soles combined with a shadowy patronage created some rather paranoid atmospherics. The jukebox cranked frequencies which dulled your senses, but there was no escaping the spoiled sweet scent of dread pervading the smoke-filled ether the Rocket ascended to. With her psychological intangibles and gratifying elixirs, Copper Rocket wasn’t an escape from reality insomuch she was a lower plane with which to make peace with one’s inner daemon.

photo (4)
Initiation, Passage and Remembrance

tucherI was introduced to The Copper Rocket Pub by Ras Kelly in the late 90s. Ras, herself, was a complicated chick, a fitting guide through the labyrinthine lavatory passages. Trending theory popular during this era: Ras was running with the Israelis, though she may not have been aware of it at the time and certainly wouldn’t admit to it now, especially if her affiliations have (or have not) drifted. Nevertheless, Ras complicated. She directed me to Copper Rocket for Tucher – a beer she discovered in one of her jaunts to West Germany – which, at the time, was entirely unknown in Florida and perhaps greater America. A seductively sloping glass of Tucher was accompanied with a slice of orange, a compliment quite alien in the western hemisphere before the mass distribution of Blue Moon. Copper Rocket, dive bar it was, was the only place in my known universe with Tucher and where an untainted pint of Guinness (a beer which requires a delicate & thorough approach lacking in Florida) could be poured. I was quick to pledge homage to this Rocket of Copper. It was always a doomed devotion, however, never more evident than when I pulled out of the Rocket’s parking lot for the first time and was flashed down by overzealous Maitland Police for turning right on a red.

map of copper rockerIn those early days, the Maitland police would hide behind the scattered century oaks to pick-off unsuspecting motorists leaving Copper Rocket. This was the only bar in this part of town and combined with an inventive Napoleonic Traffic Code, the local Police State was able to gorge itself from predation on Rocket clientele. It was an unsavory precondition the beer-slingers behind the bar at Copper Rocket begrudgingly acknowledged and cried heavenly foul over. Copper Rocket was always Us versus Them and for good reason. Secluded within an anonymous strip-mall in Maitland, the geographical proximity to the nearby Mecca of Central Florida white-bread good-breeding was close enough to hear the smack of balls on the polo field. Winter Park, with its red bricked roadways and snobbery against nouveau riche, let alone bourgeois and the peasantry, was legend. Maitland was a presumptuous buffer zone, its excitable police bowing to the Winter Park zealots by enforcing a removal of riffraff to the other side of the train tracks in the direction of Eatonville. Copper Rocket, to all concerned authority, was a blasphemy, an affront to the nearby affluence of Winter Park. It is a miracle she almost lasted twenty years before being shut down.

Ras Kelly was disappointed to hear the news, though it was trivial to her now she was residing in Connecticut, married with child, no less. “I remember there used to be this rule, or I guess a superstition.” She mentioned to me over sushi during her most recent visit south. “When playing pool at Copper Rocket, if you hopped the cue ball off the table you couldn’t touch it. Or at least you shouldn’t touch it with your bare hands.” She laughed at her memory, almost doubting the story for its ridiculous nature. “No, I think it was just that you had to have a handkerchief or – what I am saying, no one had a handkerchief in the Rocket – a dish towel or something to pick up the cue ball. Or else bad luck. I don’t know, someone must have once picked up the cue ball and then been struck dead by lightning.”

A cue ball curse would go a long way in explaining my last dozen years. I do not recall ever retrieving the billiard flotsam, but if I did, I think I know the fateful night of occurrence. In a life of nights, it is one of my top ten: I was shooting the greatest pool of my entirety against a motley court of antagonists, much to the delight of their queen, the soul-crushing siren known as the Cheetah. This proficiency was an oddity as I, Victor Ulysses Neverman, have shite for hand-to-eye coordination (I can barely see past my meandering elbows). Nevertheless, this Neverman peaked early with the Cheetah, a triumph quickly fleeting. All of the women I have taken on dates to Copper Rocket then & thereafter have brought me closer to my eventual spiritual ruin. It is clear now I must have grabbed a jettisoned cue ball in 2003.

“Yes, I remember there being something of a cue ball curse.” Desdemona Riley mentioned to me over the phone from Chicago. In a life of nights, Des Riley occupies three or four of the other top ten. “I only went to the Copper Rocket once. It was before I met you and it was on a lousy first date. I mean, what kind of pseudo-heavy brings a date to the Copper Rocket? Anyway, there was a story about someone picking up a cue ball and then the next day coming down with an acute case of fibrosis plasma ossification. If there is one thing you don’t want your plasma doing, it is ossifying.”

“I don’t recall having any strong connection with the place.” Jim Tusk spoke of Copper Rocket. He had only been there once despite his being the quick-fisted, beer crunching, demolitions expert side-kick to yours truly through the late 90s and early 00s. “I don’t recall a cue ball curse either, but it reminds me of an East Palatka tradition with darts. If your dart ever fell off the board, you had to pick it up with the opposite hand that tossed it or else you had to kiss your nearest relative. Needless to say, certain individuals took advantage of the penalty and were frequent offenders.”

Twilight of Copper Rocket

If ever there was a necessity for the refuge of Copper Rocket, for the secretive booths and alcoves, for the ciphered messages scrawled on bathroom stall walls, for the numbing effects of the alcohol and music, it would be in these times. During Copper Rocket’s twilight years, the turkey vultures of the local Police State still hovered above; meanwhile, far below, within the scurrilous confines of the Rocket, was a sanctuary where Central Florida’s alternative fringe could find relief from the humid squeeze of the Florida Establishment as well as escape a diabolical local citizenry made up of George Zimmermans, Casey Anthonys and Cyrus Lee Hancocks. Indeed, it was during my attempted romance with a dreadlocked dame bull-horning for the 2011 Occupy Movement when I was re-introduced to the Rocket after a long absence. And ever since… well, as a conspiracy theory bloggist occupied with the existential dangers seemingly dripping over our hotcakes like a steady syrup of prophetic raining frogs, it is rare for me to admit to patronage of any establishment outside the tin-foiled walls of my home at Bayou St Bas Trailer Park, but given the posthumous nature of the subject, I feel it safe to indulge. From 2011 to 2015, I was a regular at Copper Rocket.

When Rufus Holdsworth was not off-the-grid in Belize, calculating a new Maya End Time, he was in Maitland, elbowed-up to the bar at the Rocket. When the embattled strategist, Erasmus of Otter Dam Military Academy, moved to Central Florida in 2013 on an indefinite sabbatical, it was Copper Rocket where he setup headquarters for his counseling services. When the snake oil salesman, Doc Kelly, left the confidence games of Jacksonville for Orlando, I introduced him to the Rocket as his sister first introduced me. While the lot of us paranoid rogues operated in peculiar maneuvers, double-backing our way through city streets, zig-zagging a path through the bogs, never taking the same path from point A to point Z, establishing mutually exclusive alibis, always shifting the shape of our faces through prosthetic, never keeping the same company, there was one consistency in our behavior: Copper Rocket. In the last few years, Rufus, Erasmus, Doc & I have participated and plotted in several commercial schemes and manipulative ploys and subversive machinations and conspiratorial séances in the dark, musky, corridors of Copper Rocket. Without this sanctuary, I am not sure where we will turn.

“I blame Copper Rocket’s closing on Governor Rick Scott, I mean, why not?” Rufus Holdsworth, former NASA landscaper, mused. “Old Guv’nah is censoring speech about global warming and rising sea levels in Tallahassee, so why wouldn’t Rick Scott censor the Copper Rocket if he didn’t like the way it smelt? China released a report saying their temperature is increasing twice as fast as the rest of the world, but for Rick Scott this doesn’t mean Man causes global warming, it just means God doesn’t like chopsticks. I assume Governor Rick Scott’s public relators are spinning China’s global warming reports as just another communist plot born of secretive talks at the Copper Rocket Pub. Next thing you know, Copper Rocket is a vacuum cleaner outlet.”

Curse of the Cue Ball, Rick Scott

Curse of the Cue Ball, Rick Scott

“Wasn’t there some sort of cue ball curse?” Doc Kelly inquired, already knowing the answer. “Yeah, sounds like it could definitely be Rick Scott’s fault.”

Erasmus of Otter Dam Military Academy may have invested the most time in the recently departed establishment. As a part of his early retirement routine, he would arrive at Copper Rocket at 17:15, grab the local weekly paper, requisition a table near the door* and order the special draft of the day. “The place was always empty during what should have been happy hour.” Erasmus mentioned fonder times. “Empty, except for myself and Pinball Pete pelvic-thumping the AC/DC machine in the corner.”

*Erasmus referred to the door during his interview as the ‘entrance’, rather than ‘exit’ or plain-old ‘door’, which speaks volumes to his paranoia: focused more on the entry of some OTHER rather than his own potential need to rapidly depart. I, Vic Neverman, for example, refer to all doors as ‘exits’ in anticipation of exercising my fight or flight reflex.

Erasmus elaborated, “A place like Copper Rocket is born of illicit affairs. Once the under-the-table action dries up and the clientele is absent (I mean, aside for pelvic-pounding Pinball Pete), the house of cards cannot stand. You can blame Rick Scott all you like. Ultimately, it is natural selection. You might be born with a mutated gene that grants you invincibility, but if you cannot get a female to procreate mutant offspring with you, your mutated genes will die alongside you. Long story short, we should all bang more mutants and see where it gets us…”

Erasmus and Vic at the Copper Rocket blackjack tables

Erasmus and Vic at the Copper Rocket blackjack tables

Goodnight Copper Rocket.

BAYOU ST BASIL, Fla

They say when the angels fell they fell here and went straight on through. This was dry land before the Fallen riddled it with holes. Forty days, forty nights of rain and you get this… the Bayou.

– “Air Commander”, the watchman and folklorist of St Bas Trailer Park

The rain had been steady for a week with more of the same en route. The consistently pouty gray sky was reminiscent of the Pac NW; this jungle rain, however, was plump, relentless and cunning, warm and lustful, crawling through your clothes to moisten every tainted stretch of your sweat-stickied flesh, much like the pierced-lip trollop of lot 19.

The homes of St Bas Trailer Park required every spare cinder block to keep the village afloat. For those who slept at night, sleep came fitfully amidst the din of croaking bullfrogs and buzzing insectual horde which barely outnumbered the drops of rain drumming the tin roof. Such sleep was to be interrupted regularly by the raccoon disputes over remaining terrain with their high-pitched screeching and low-claw disemboweling. Crying ibis couldn’t carry a tune under the pounce of feral cats and those feral cats were commonly spine-crushed by the talons of the resident demoniac owl seeking nocturnal justice. The rise of dawn found a miscellany of cadaver and those bodies uncollected by black vultures would be swallowed by enterprising semi-terrestrial catfish. Circle of life in Bayou Saint Basil.

The HMS Banshee, Cyrus Lee Hancock's Argo between Scylla and Charybdis

The HMS Banshee, Cyrus Lee Hancock’s Argo

On the morning of Cyrus Lee Hancock’s arrival, I was awoken twice before 9 am by the ringtone of my phone courtesy of the neighborhood drunk (aye, all us were qualified, but he more so), Samson, who asked me to drive to local gas station and procure four-pack of Catawampus Malt Liquor to quell his overly sentimental spirits on this dreary morning. I attempted to reason with the gravelly voice, but he seemed unfazed & undeterred with blasphemy. When would be a good time, he asked. When I had nothing better to do than cater to his weakness, I responded. Samson did hold blackmail over me, but it was a self-incriminating card he carried and he lacked the resolve for mutual assured destruction.

Alas, I was awake and heavily invested in caffeine by the time Cyrus Lee Hancock arrived knocking at the front door, leaving Latter Day Saint paraphernalia at the doorstep and then circling around to climb through the shrubbery and into the open window as we had discussed. Certain measures are necessary to thwart observation. Cyrus Lee was taller than I remembered, more tattooed than I recalled, yet still a pretty-boy young buck punk despite the hard years he had already lived traipsing around Nepal and East Orlando. “How’s it going?”

Dragon Slayer: Cyrus Lee's sandled foot betwixt the slain

Dragon Slayer: Cyrus Lee’s sandled foot betwixt the slain

“Fair to middling.”

Taking a look around the Neverman abode, his attention was lassoed by the piled coils of varying slack & knotted rope. His intuition was commendable, “What’s this, signs of a new romantic interest?”

“Her dream is to sail the world. My experience sailing ended when I had to be rescued by the Coast Guard when lost at sea as a twelve-year old. I figured I would better my acumen by first learning how to tie a knot.”

Cyrus Lee tested the strength of my Alpine Butterfly knot, “Kinky. Alright, who is she?”

“Anastasia. A Ukrainian studying linguistics in Turkey.”

“Jesus, man. How often do you see her?”

“Haven’t yet. I’d fly to Istanbul to meet her, but I am pretty sure I would be held captive for ransom and/or released sans kidney.”

Cyrus Lee Hancock let out an exhaled breath of mirth and his grin stretched something crocodilian. “You’re in with a Ukrainian catfishing from Turkey looking to harvest your kidneys?”

“Yes” admitting, “Kiev is too dangerous for organ harvesters, so the Ukrainians have setup shop in Asia Minor. Anastasia is beautiful, though. Her eyes are vexing and pull at my loins like a rickshaw. It is difficult not to follow.”

“A rickshaw? So this is serious. Are you certain she only loves you for your organs? At least, just the internal ones?”

“Am I sure? Fair to middling. I told her I was eighteen and didn’t drink, so she has a high affection for the pristine quality of my liver.”

“Love has to start with a spark, right?” Cyrus Lee Hancock, the romantic optimist, smiled approvingly.

We cracked open a few beers and toasted, “First one today.”

Cyrus Lee Hancock formerly inhabited Middle Florida. When I met him, he was king of a survivalist compound in East Orlando. I was living in my sister’s attic at the time and she introduced me to this rogue in attempt to acclimatize her brother back into society after years of his living in an Oregonian hippie commune. Never did the NeverSister realize her mistake: Cyrus Lee was a swashbuckling charlatan in need of a biographer and her brother was a vagabond in search of mission. Acquaintances made, a partnership was sealed. Over time, Cyrus Lee and I would sink into various disagreements until we swore oaths of mutual antagonism. Each time, however, peace was brokered by his lovely wife whose batting eyelashes and knack for diplomacy reunited the band for one last tour. We all became rich during Cyrus Lee Hancock’s survival campaign against the Maya Apocalypse of 2012. When 2013 arrived with barely a dent, the IRS sought Cyrus Lee to find his apocalyptic compound sold to condo developers and the survivalist communities embezzled into off-shore accounts. Cyrus Lee had evaporated into the ether only to emerge in the shadows of the Himalaya. Late 2013, Cyrus Lee and his wife would resettle in Tennessee as born-again Christians starting a rapture-inspired cult and it would take his wife’s eyelash batting and diplomatic swagger to convince me to smuggle the remaining Hancock arsenal out of Orlando and up to Nashville, which I did for a handsome fee.

Cyrus Lee wakes to find himself covered in shaving cream.

Cyrus Lee wakes to find himself covered in shaving cream.

What brought Cyrus Lee back to Middle Florida? Just a friendly bout of gator-poaching. Cyrus Lee was wet with the blood of three 9 foot-plus alligators which he sold to boot manufacturers. We cracked open a few more beers first one today! and he elaborated on the endorphin rush accompanying the harpooning and slaying of 500 lb dragons. While I had hunted crocodiles in Cuba and the Amazon, it was catch-and-release for the sake of SCIENCE*. I was wont to remind Cyrus Lee the difference between a man of reason & progress and a predator for shits, giggles, boots & purses. He was wont to extend his middle digits.

*Working with the Universidad de Habana and University of Kent, respectively

Our reunion at St Bas Trailer Park was disrupted by a knock at the door. It was Samson. Yeah, hey Vic, I am real sorry about waking you, man. I was wondering, if you are not busy… Samson had run out of beer. Where blasphemies failed, threats with Cyrus Lee’s alligator harpoon succeeded.

“What the fuck have you got yourself into, bro?” Cyrus Lee Hancock inquired after the departure of my neighbor.

The story of Samson, the middle-aged, silver-mane Florida chump with bare feet is a convoluted one. Formerly, he was just a random dude I oft spotted carrying a suitcase of cheap domestic swill home from GazMart up yonder near the freeway. At one point, I lent money to a desperate neighbor in need (embed parasite into host body). It should be mentioned, Samson had come in handy. If I was going to be away from the Bayou, a six-pack of cheap swill would win enough allegiance out of Samson for him to camp out and keep watch over my home for any snooping feral children or police state goons. Ultimately, he was a shitty guard and would fall asleep as soon as he ran out of cocaine. He also admitted his friends call him “Beetlejuice” after the Tim Burton/Michael Keaton character because of his silver hair and scratched-to-shit voice.

Samson was a typical University of Florida Lit Grad who ended up as a half-assed drug dealer

Samson was a typical University of Florida Lit Grad who ended up as a half-assed drug dealer

“It was hard for me to return from Africa. If it weren’t for Qatari assassins, Ebola and an empty bank account, I might still be there.” I admitted to Cyrus Lee Hancock. “And when I did come back to the Bayou, I found shit for luck. Lightning ripped through both my surge protector and high definition television. My lawyer left me for more prestigious clientele. And I contracted a chigger infestation. My summer in North Africa was a lap of luxury in comparison to my homecoming. Then I found Samson. He is so karmically unbalanced, he is a lightning rod for shit luck and he keeps Lady misFortune occupied.

“Example?” Cyrus Lee asked while cracking open another can of some high priced snobbish hop-fest beer I forced upon him. “First one today.”

“Example. Okay, this guy was a thief when he was a kid. At the age of 18, he burglarized an empty house and stole several antique rifles and dueling pistols. He sold his loot for $10,000, but he left his prints at the scene of the crime. A warrant was issued for his arrest, but it wasn’t for burglary, it was for armed robbery. There was no one there in the house to rob and the only arms he had were the Portuguese dueling pistols from 1683 and the civil war era rifle, neither of which were any use as a firing weapon. So the dude was on the lam and spent several years hiding out in Louisville before being caught and serving a few years in prison for an exaggerated crime.”

“Shit for luck.” Cyrus Lee agreed. “Is he just a street vagrant? Or does he have a job?”

“As a self-described ‘half-assed drug-dealer’. He also collects disability. He even has an ‘Obama Phone’ which he calls me with when he thinks I am ignoring calls from his other phones. He works as a laborer, but always under the table in cash. At the first of the month, he receives a cornucopia of prescription pain pills which he sells at his Alcoholics Anon meetings and then pays off his debts to me, his coke dealers, etcetera. After the pill mills were shut down by State Attorney Pam, Samson can make quite a bit of money by selling off his legit pain meds.”

Kicking Ass and Taking Names, Pam

Kicking Ass and Taking Names, Pam

“So he has equity. Perfect.” Cyrus Lee said. “Who was the bearded asshole stink-eyeing me from the edge of the bog with his mongrels?”

“That’s Air Commander Bubba. Good sort, really. He and I broke up a bunch of wife-beating redneck jet-ski douche from drowning their mistresses when we yelled threats across the bog at their incest cluster fuck party until they saddled up on their crotch-rocket watercraft and left for the moral low-ground elsewhere. During the summer, these waters are filled with the lowest dregs of upright ape. Air Commander keeps watch over St Bas Trailer Park and while he doesn’t exactly like me, there is a hint of respect. When I returned from Africa, he stink-eyed my approach and said I hadn’t been around so long he was about to start sniffing around my place, as in, smelling for a corpse. Retired Air Force and good people; don’t worry about Bubba.”

Leaving the security of my home for the water world outside, Cyrus Lee Hancock and I wandered the swamped thoroughfares towards the edge of the suburbia frontier in order to visit my favorite beer slinging barkeep, Jade Sunderbruck. First one today! Cyrus Lee and I clinked our similar glasses of craft ale as the beer goddess Jade smiled from on high. I struck at Cyrus Lee’s intellect in search of opinion: what of ISIS/ISIL, what of Ukraine, what of sleeper cells in America?

“Better to get our house in order by daylight, my friend.” Cyrus Lee said. “For tonight, we drink.”

And for the first time today, more or less, we did. Until Jade kicked us out.

Police State in the America Heartland

Police State in the America Heartland

I was in no great hurry to return to the United States. Vagabonding in Morocco suited my appetites and appealed to my nostalgie de la boue. I had established a cavalier existence as an ex-pat living in an Outremer oasis where I traded in spice and napped between beers. Ultimately, my paradise would be dashed by the winds of the sirocco. I had gone broke attempting to distill tequila with the local agave (not to mention the check from the Australians for “espionage services” bounced), I was plagued by the subversive machinations of the Qatari Royals who didn’t appreciate my pissing on their bee hive and I couldn’t keep ignoring the nastiest elephant in the room: Ebola.

Thus, I returned to the fascist dystopia of my homeland where racially motivated protests in Missouri were confronted by the National Guard. In a world where headlines are shared with threats of ISIS and Hezbollah sleeper cells, this is the new normal. Call it “proactive” or “over-reactive”, just be sure to get your hands up and head down until the cloud of pepper spray passes. At the core of the overreaction is the hardware – military leftovers handed down from Big Brother to the cross-eyed cousins working for the local constable.

Why is Hulk not a massage therapist? Because SMASH. Why should we not put military-grade weapons in the hands of every small town copper? Because SMASH.

The cities are overreacting just as quickly. After the Boston Marathon Bombing, the city was occupied by its own militarized police force exercising Marshal Law. Two dangerous suspects were on the loose, thus tanks. Overreaction is the new normal. Hulk SMASH is the new normal. Are there Hezbollah or ISIS sleeper cells in America? Unlikely. Yet, we are armed for Red Dawn.

Remember Reaganomics? Trickle-down theory? Well, you build a Star Wars missile defense system for the Military Industrial Complex, you are going to have some trickling down, right? Trickle, trickle, little star, now you have traffic cops with javelin missile launchers and shit…

– Reverend Cyrus Lee Hancock of the Church of John the Revelator

REDINGTON SHORES, Fla

Frieda Johnson, B-movie starlet*, would arrive home to her beach cottage to find an unexpected bouquet of lilies tossed atop her kitchen counter in between a bottle of fine scotch and a week’s worth of dishes in the sink. Within the refrigerator, Frieda would notice missing a can of cheap domestic swill. It would become apparent to her, if it hadn’t been already, Vic Neverman had been there. White lilies, good scotch and vanishing beer was not the calling card of this haunted vagabond, but it damn well should (note to self). Frieda would leave the cottage in search of Vic, wandering through the backyard of broken, sun-bleached concrete, onto the sandy pass through the sea oats and sandspurs and onto the beach where the Gulf of Mexico lapped its salty regurgitate along the shore in gently passing waves. Within the dunes she would find Vic Neverman, sitting beerless. Why no beer? Because police state.

*you might recognize Frieda’s work in various dragon-centric melodramas, slasher horror films and local fashion commercials.

I had returned from North Africa weeks earlier, long enough to contract a chigger infestation in Central Florida and make the drive to the Gulf Coast to soak chigger-ridden feet in the seawater. Here in Redington Shores, the endless expanse of white sands are mostly desolate and empty of mammalian presence this time of year due to the pitiless heat and thunderhead monstrosities hovering overhead. This is where I found solace and despite the dearth of beachcombers, this is where the local police found their person of interest while patrolling in their four-wheeled tank. I waved neighborly at the passing stooge, only for police to reverse in its tank tracks. Summoned by the deputy within, I approached his warhorse. There is certainly, positively, absolutely no alcohol allowed on the beach. I admitted my mistake to the fat bastard sitting in the cozy air-conditioning of the police tank and then hooked a thumb over my shoulder; the sign read “no bottles” and “no vehicles allowed on the beach”. I had a can of beer. Smokey had a tank.  Who was in the wrong?

Smokey took off his Terminator glasses. He was seeing red, though his eyes, sadly, did not glow robotic. I can outrun Officer Blutarsky, was my prevailing thought. He’d probably chase me through the sea oats in his tank; agility, however, favors my nimble feet. Alas… my bare feet were in a sand-spurred minefield. Acquiescing, I threw away the empty can of beer. Smokey waited, watching and then sped away in a 7 mph cloud of sand-dollar dust.

What I like is how some schmuck sheriff somewhere, he being the only law dog in town, somehow received not 1 but 2 MRAPs..as if Barney Fife needs mine-resistant hardware to fend off the meth-heads besieging the proletariat.

Seeing as there doesn’t seem to be much of a qualification need for this stuff I think we should apply for some grenade launchers and Predator drones.

– Prof. Erasmus of Otter Dam Military Academy

Ferguson, Mizzou, this was not. Fascism, however, has gone grassroots.

WATERTOWN, Mass, SWAT searches for the Tsarnaev brothers.

WATERTOWN, Mass, SWAT searches for the Tsarnaev brothers.

When it comes to the over-reaction of police force, there is fault in the mere ability to overreact. Abuse of the badge can exist without war gear, yet it is the hand-me-down toys of the Military Industrial Complex that has fallen into the laps of your local yahoo deputy that exacerbates the overreaction. Ike Eisenhower warned us about the Military Industrial Complex. The war companies prospered in the Cold War and after the fall of the Berlin Wall they sought eternal strife elsewhere. Is there any question why we are once again faced with a Russian nemesis as well as saddled with endless war against the concept of “terrorism”? This is what the Military Industrial Complex peddles: antagonism.

Ferguson, Mizzou... police react with weapons raised

Ferguson, Mizzou… police react with weapons raised

I am not brazen enough to say the Military Industrial Complex created monsters like ISIS. Wait… no, on second thought, I am. The Military Industrial Complex is America, Germany and Russia arming as many militants as they can make a buck off of with the unintentional result being the militarization of psychotics in lawless lands decapitating all westerners in their path. Thanks to the suggestive armament of everyone (which the marketing wizards of the Military Industrial Complex propagates) bad heroes, good villains and all the blood-thirsty bastards in between are armed to their heart’s content. The trickle down leftovers are then distributed to the local thugs like your cousin Eddy who flunked police academy twice before psychological test standards were lowered and he made his way onto the local SWAT team. Yay, Eddy! Damn the rest of us.

Escalation of violence always begets escalation of violence. Keep your hands up and your head down.

I once paid $25 on Kickstarter to get a Point Break prequel made. The directing producer ended up spending his spoils on Japanese sex-bots. I’d be angrier if I could blame him…

Yet crowd-sourcing could be the great Democratization of the World we all hoped the internet would be (rather than the meta data sucking whore who gets paid at both ends). Crowd-sourcing is currently being used to overthrow small third world countries, fund the arts and (an unsuccessful attempt to) buy the Los Angeles Clippers. Why can’t we use crowd-sourcing to adopt a whistle blower?

Only You can help whistle-blowers like poor Eddie Snowden

Only You can help whistle-blowers like poor Eddie Snowden

Consider the dilemma Edward Snowden faced: if he leaks documents and stays behind to meet his just punishment, he is thrown in prison and his family’s finances are drained by the totalitarian regime he sought to thwart. Instead of staying put, Edward runs to the only place the United States wouldn’t pursue – under the skirt of Mother Russia (played tonight by Vladimir Putin). Meanwhile, Aussie leak-artist Julian Assange has been hiding out in London’s Ecuadorian embassy, eating Indian takeout and watching Belmont Abbey and reruns of Coupling until his eyes bleed. Certainly, there must be a better way.

Well, I am here to tell you there is!

The problem is this: future whistle-blowers are discouraged by the litigious nature of Big Brother where the only alternatives are a short-lived life on the run or hiding out in the most dreadfully dull circumstances. How the problem is solved is by Vic Neverman’s “Adopt a Whistle-Blower” program. We are a democratized lobby agency who with enough crowd-sourcing can:

– Pay Whistle-Blower’s legal fees
– Hire a Member of Ron Paul’s Family to speak on behalf of the Whistle-Blower
– Create care-packages full of iTune credits, Starbucks gift cards and miscellaneous dried meats, cheeses and crackers
– Account for Facebook “likes”, Twitter trends and other contemporary chain-mail cyber whodoo voodoo black magic tom-fuckery
– Setup a tent at Occupy Wall Street (I mean, if that’s still a thing)
– Send letters of discontent to congress representatives laced with fecal matter
– Arrange conjugal visits for the Whistle-Blower
– Under-Tip Los Angeles waiters, forcing them to write screenplays based on the Whistle-Blower until one is good enough to send to Michael Bay
– Purchase Japanese Sex Bots
– March in liberal pride parades
– Setup birthday parties complete with bouncy house and Tea Party keynote speaker
– Wait in line for the Whistle-Blower at BestBuy 24 hours in advance of Black Friday and at Regal Cinema before Star Wars VII premiers

Only you can help whistle-blowers like Julian Assange

Only you can help whistle-blowers like Julian Assange

It is important for us to have whistle-blowers. While Julian Assange and Edward Snowden revealed nothing we (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, y’know: “us”) didn’t already know, they did force the rest of the world’s attention to become fixated on the fascist regime we live under – at least until the rest of the world’s collective smart phone beat-bopped their attention back to some tongue-wagging kitten taking a bathroom mirror selfie #hashtag. Julian and Edward provided a brief diversion towards truth, but a necessary diversion all the same. Now is the time we start taking care of these Whistle-Blowers while they still have breath to blow. We cannot have the next generation of whistlers to fear the wrath of the government we taxpayers fund (though, in truth, our government’s black ops & dark missions are financed by the heroin trade out of Afghanistan – Taliban be damned). Sure, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are two of the douchiest bags for us to help out, but there are plenty of new Whistle-Blowers just dying to snitch who desperately need your help.

Will you Help?

PLEASE

Help Us

Help Them

Help You

This has been a Victor Neverman Public Announcement

This has been a Victor Neverman Public Announcement

Midnight in St Augustine

Midnight in St Augustine

It is nearing midnight in St Augustine. From above, the all-seeing eye of the lighthouse streaks its gaze through the sky as the scimitar blade of a moon waits further overhead. On the beach of the inter-coastal waterway, the midges and mosquitoes jockey for position as they ascend the fleshy flanks of those gathered here to summon forth spirits long dead. Blood is let, communion is made with the insectual horde. Our sixth sensed seer, descendant of Salem refugees, shifts her gaze towards the still water and describes the spirits of conquistadors slipping out of the ether and into our plane of existence, marching upon our position. Q, seeing that which we cannot, speaks to us, “They are here. The soldiers. They are starting to gather.” The only army I observe advancing is that of fiddler crabs.

St Augustine is the oldest city standing in North America. Some five hundred years ago, as the story books tell us, Spaniards spied this coast on the feast day of Saint Austin of Hippo and therefore named the territory San Agustin. Thank the gods there are so many bloody feast days or who knows what sort of naming convention Catholic explorers would have used.

There is a prevailing alternative thought… instead of the feast day, could the name have derived from one of the innumerable military orders created out of the chaos of the crusades and kept plump by the riches of the Renaissance? Knights of the Sacred Order of St Austin the Blessed originated out of a Phoenician backwater lagoon of Il, lost to the records, and were thought to have traveled extensively before being swallowed by one of the larger military orders like the Hospitallers of St John. It is very possible there were warrior-monks of the Sacred Order of St Austin aboard the Spanish galleys off the coast of la Florida; knights who would have held considerable influence over the expedition, if they didn’t outright finance the conquest. In their clutches may have existed esoteric tomes eventually passed down to the immortal Frenchman of lore, the Count of St Germain, as evidenced by his nonsensical poetic drivel left behind in Havana. It was the trail of St Germain which brought me, at present, to St Augustine.

The Count of Saint Germain

The Count of Saint Germain

My apologies, dear reader… I write as if you have been staring into my navel as long as I had this morning. Allow me to elaborate… St Germain was a charlatan, a scoundrel and a rogue who I’ve been studying for the better part of a decade. Eventually, I shall share my discoveries in Cuba and Indochina, but for now, allow me to recount the events occurring on the inter-coastal beaches of St Augustine, beneath the lighthouse where I sought an audience of 16th Century spirits with the assistance of a motley crew of post-modern necromancers.

Omphaloskepsis

– contemplation of one’s navel as a part of a mystical exercise

I arrived in St Augustine by way of detour in Central Florida through the spiritualist camp of Cassadaga, a town founded and inhabited by spiritualists which would be the catalyst to inspire this trip to St Augustine. In the town hall/gift shop, I was wandering the aisles full of New Age self-help wonkery and buckets of crystals, when I was approached by the purveyor – a thin, spindly lady with white hair pouring down her back to reach mid-thigh. Through her empathetic powers, she had intuited my need for assistance.

“I’m looking for works on esoterism, with gnostic roots, preferably involving Latins in the Levant and the mysteries of Solomon’s Temple. And perhaps a Mother’s Day card, something with butterflies.”

The purveyor provided me with a copy of Sally Winterbane’s self-published “Dreams of Harmony”. With hesitation, I paid the $15.95, hoping Sally’s signature inside the front cover (she lived a couple blocks away) might make this classic a collectible during my lifetime. I then crossed the street to feast at the restaurant within the Cassadaga Hotel. The epiphany to travel to St Augustine would occur hours later, but it would be in these next few moments that the idea would be seeded and tilled in the air-conditioned chill.

The budding revelation that would send me along to St Augustine was equal parts:

  1. Sea-sickness attributed to skimming through the “Dreams of Harmony” Table of Contents (with such chapter title dandies as “The Oculus of Your Mind’s Eye”, “Celestial Intercourse”, “Omphaloskepsis”, “Cutting Loose Chakra Sandbags” and “Reverse Celestial Intercourse”)
  2. The arrival of my waitress, whom we shall refer to as Emma to protect her true identity.
Cassadaga Hotel

Cassadaga Hotel

Emma was a creature meant to be celebrated by minstrels for her fairness. What ill-thought destiny had fated her to wait on tables in this backwoods spook town, I’ll never comprehend. As she came near, my chest constricted and I was overcome with the mounting desires to have her sit and allow me to wash her feet as I contemplated her navel. Of these desires, she must have been acutely aware. Our endless glances were wrought with repressed sensuality and hyper-extended mustaches. Breaking the grave silence between us, Emma asked if I had a chance to look over the menu.

“How is the veal?”

“I’ve heard it is good.” She said.

“But you’re not a ‘veal person’?”

“I’m not a ‘veal person’.” She said.

“Then I will have the chicken.”

Emma glowed with warmth as she reacted to my choice. I could have gone with the veal, but for her I would opt for fowl. As I handed the menu over to Emma, the circuit was connected and electricity swept through us. Her chest heaved, pulse quickened and she gazed back at me, perhaps dwelling on how this strange shit town had finally produced a traveling gentlemen of exquisite sophistication that understood her fully, thoroughly and potentially entirely.

In her sudden absence as she sought chicken, I mused on how I might rescue Emma from these confines. No, we can agree she likely wouldn’t be happy off-the-grid with me in St Bas Trailer Park, but I could put her up in an apartment in North Orlando on the fringe of civilization. I could dig enough Bitcoin out of my backyard to finance a new life for her as long as she didn’t mind the flux of pseudonyms we both would assume, the secrecy, the paranoia, the night sweats and protalgia fugax. Optimism, though, was no match for the erosion of the rising tide of pragmatic realization; my spirits sank with the ebb of each wave of recollection evidencing the impending doom. Emma wouldn’t be the first young woman I attempted to assimilate into my life of intrigue and this knowledge filled the sandbags that tied down my chakras. I’d be rescuing her from one prison only to deliver her to accompany me in my own. If I really loved her, I should set her free. Sigh.

Emma returned with my lunch. I didn’t have to bite into the meal to recognize the meat as veal. Did she sense my inner-most desires our of her own spiritual intuition? Or was she just a shitty waitress?

My lemonade tasted a lot like iced tea too. Despite these…“discrepancies” I left Emma 30% gratuity, putting her a few cents closer to realizing her escape from this strange town of Cassadaga. All was not lost, however! Contemplating the contemplation of her navel was a glimpse into the infinite and in the hours of slumber that followed, I realized my next venture would be to summon the dead in search of breadcrumbs that would lead me to the mysterious Count of St Germain!

Blessed are you, dear reader, who has managed to stick with this story as far. I was a feral child raised by a pod of porpoises, you see, and lack the primate’s cultivation of linear discussion points. Instead, my dialogue is composed of sonar pings ricocheting off every pique of interest within spitting distance of my blowhole. But I digress…

Using the funds I had set aside for Emma’s new life, I hired a group of trained psychics to commune with the dead (including Q, who I introduced to you in my hunt for diabolists in Volusia County). When North Florida schematics are involved, I typically employ my wingman, Jim Tuscan, but the old sport was knackered after a Saturday of playing “Soccer Mom”. Instead, I grabbed Jim’s wife, Gracie Mae (a “sensitive” herself, though she represses the instinct) and Jim’s brother, John-Boy. So composed my motley crew of necromancers.

St Aug LH 2The three of us (Gracie Mae, John-Boy and I) shared a poppy-seed bagel in preparation for our ghost-hunt. According to Karl von Kartshausen, effective fumigations for causing apparitions include hemlock, henbane, saffron, aloe (tequila?), opium, mandrake, salorum, poppy seed, asafetida and parsley. Poppy-seeded bagel seemed the easiest to procure in the middle of the night, not that it did us any good; the only visual evidence of the spirit realm was their channeling energy into flicking our flashlights on or off.

In previous ghost adventures, where flashlight phenomenon was explained as spirited communication, I accused Q of using a remote trigger to control the torched illumination. It was an allegation she still finds offensive though she understands my compulsion for doubt. “You are overly analytical.” Q told me in St Augustine. “I don’t know you, but I know this. Your guides tell me you are a ‘control freak’.”

Me? Vic Neverman? Paranoid extraordinaire, a control freak? This irked me. It is bad enough the NSA is hording my online data while their spy blimps use infrared to watch me in the shower, now my spirit guides are handing over information to psychics without my permission. Who are these mysterious big brother spirit guides hovering over my shoulder, if not the NSA? Ancestors, angels, aliens, some combination of all three? Q doesn’t clarify; my guides are whoever is needed at any given time.

Yeah, I know what you are thinking… if only Vic’s spirit guides included one decent editor out of the lot. Whatever, funny guy. Shove it up your blowhole.

Communion with the dead is a lot like fishing. I tend to lose more in bait than I gain in catch. No Frenchmen appeared on this evening, though one investigator did speak with a Spanish Commandante from the 17th Century with a fondness for native women and displeasure for “English Bastards”. John-Boy did well for his first outing chasing the dead: he shared a few laughs with the recently departed “Barry” who passed away while inebriated on his bicycle. Barry never knew what hit him (an Augustinian trolley it seems), but he did find a confidant with much in common in John-Boy.

Another fruitless search for Vic Neverman? Hardly. I have made the acquaintance of Sally Wintersbane and we’re planning a collaborative sequel to her book, “Dreams of a Reckoning: the Next Doomsday”. Sally smells of musky olive oil and her only hydration comes in the form of Diet Pepsi, but she knows a thing or two about celestial intercourse, from what I hear.

So continues my plight in search of Voltaire’s cynically-monikered, “Wonderman”, the Count of Saint Germain. I can’t be certain every soul has been overturned in Cassadaga and St Augustine through my ghost-hunts, but I have exhausted my resources. I’ve made Saint Germain connections from Siam to Old Habana and yet am no closer to understanding the charlatan. If it were a riddle so easily untied, it would be a forgotten footnote in history rather than the unsolved enigma it currently is. Perhaps it is better that way.

I don’t need to tell men of your positions, but there is a war happening… behind things.

– Reverend Tuttle speaking of “investigating crimes with an Anti-Christian connotation” in Episode 1 of True Detective

The Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle

The Reverend Billy Lee Tuttle

If you, dear reader, are like your narrator, you’ve lost count of how many times you’ve seen each episode of True Detective. You’ve researched books of 19th Century horror, you’ve cut your beer cans into anthropomorphic figurines and you’re likely just now emerging from a recent descent into the mildewy basement of the local library where you studied microfiche of yesteryear’s newsprint in search of “meta-psychotic” crimes. Why? Because “time is a flat circle”. Because obsession.

Oh sure, a search for Hoodoo Voodoo Helter-Skelter weeeeird shit on the internet will produce plenty of fodder to keep you up nights – the internet is a veritable weird shit cornucopia, yet most of it is without merit. You, in your obsession, are after legitimate articles, not the diseased regurgitate of the online super-conscious. If there is anything of value on the internet, it is but a straw of hay lost within a needle stack.

Thus shun the internet.

Thus rely on the 4th Estate’s microfiche catalog of the past.

Entire minutes spent sorting through microfiche explains why your eyes are dry & itchy & twitchy like sunburned bull bollocks on a Saharan Sunday. Nearly a minute and a half of scanning newsprint later, the dread sense of futility is setting in… until Lo! you find something. No, wait… it describes “Mrs. Brownstone” in 1957 Orlando as a “purveyor of satin”, not Satan. Obviously, the newspapers of the last century were in on the cover-up. There is nothing here to be found on the Occult.

Who is the King in Yellow? Vic at the Bayou, carving beer can figurines

Who is the King in Yellow? Vic at the Bayou, carving beer can figurines

The Occult is many things in many shades of gray. The Occult is your father-in-law’s Moose Lodge, your cousin’s Dungeons&Dragons club, the Goth Chick you hooked-up with in high school who then made a proxy doll of you she set afire during prom (she who “friended” you on Facebook in 2011 and is a guidance counselor in Atlanta). The Occult also includes diabolical practitioners in the Dark Arts. In my travels, I have learned there are two levels of Diabolist: the Learned and the Bonobos. The Learned Diabolists are studious, carefully orthodox and wickedly devious, adhering to lessons of hierophantic masters like Aleister Crowley or Anton LaVey (pick your poison). The Bonobos, meanwhile, are named after the breed of monkey that masturbates 18 times a day (“ignorance is bliss” they say). Bonobos are the Lower Diabolist and compose 95% of Satan-worshippers in your neighborhood. The Bonobos can be disillusioned thugs with shit for imagination, yet adept at copy-catting Learned-shit they find online. For each Learned Crowley-adherent, there are a thousand glue-sniffing Bonobos stealing the neighbor’s black cat to recreate what they saw on YouTube. Bonobo monkey see, Bonobo monkey do… This copy-cat nature is why the Press doesn’t publish diabolical activities as such news begets new crimes. The Fourth Estate, with questionable – if not honorable – integrity, will leave out the vile details of Satanic-stylized activities in effort to not inspire similar crimes.

Therefore: to Hell with all this damn microfiche (after 15 minutes). It’s giving me a bloody headache.

Fortunately, for the sake of this blog post (which would be quite inadequate if it climaxed with the bit about the microfiche headache), I happen to live in the illustrious community of gossiping bog-people of Bayou St Basil Trailer Park. Word on the street (or limestone gravel & cigarette-butted path, as it were), is there has been some hooligans practicing Witchcraft in the hills of Volusia County, somewhere twenty-odd miles northeast of here (note: emphasis on the ‘odd’).

I-4 Sign“Them is dark lands.” Lady Cora spoke from the comforts of her lounge chair. Her seat was meant for the indoors and the amount of time it had spent in the outdoors was evident in its stench. I didn’t imagine her sense of smell was much bothered – the olfactory suffers erosion from the elements too, you see. The pickle jar in her hand wouldn’t help. It was pickle juice, alright. Pickle juice and bottom shelf gin, the kind they polish hubcaps with. “Never get dehydration. Have a sip…” Lady Cora will suggest, holding out a neighborly outstretched hand of her gin & pickle juice jar. She would offer it to you, likely, but not me. These bog-people of Bayou St Bas Trailer Park don’t like the likes of me. They think me nuts. I am surprised Lady Cora had even acknowledged my inquiries. “Them’s dark lands. My sister, she’s o’r in Deland (duh-Lann the Southern slow-drawl suits in Tallahassee call it, Dee-lan-deh is what the locals say). They ain’t got no stray cats if you’re following. Satanists, they’re conjuring gawd-a’mighty what. Foul bis-ness, I say and I stay away. I ain’t ha’f a mind to drive I-4 beyon’ Sanford. That’s deadzone, you know? Best swim ‘cross Lake Mon-woah.”

Indeed.

Path of Hurricane Donna: from Mosquito Key to Daytona

Path of Hurricane Donna: from Mosquito Key to Daytona

The “I-4 Deadzone” is a Central Florida urban mythical legend. The “civil” engineers paved over a family cemetery near Lake Monroe when they laid asphalt over a half-century ago to create the interstate. According to popular belief, just as they did so, Hurricane Donna performed a 90 degree turn and wreaked havoc on everything between Mosquito Key on the Gulf Coast to Daytona on the Atlantic. You want to know why Meteorologists have it so hard: not only do they have to account for China’s weather manipulation machines they also have to factor poltergeist vendettas into their prognostications. Thus sympathy for the weatherman.

Thelma Louise Pitt is a local fireship of an age younger than you’d ever imagine given the weathered and wizened expression on her freckled face. TLP is not her God-graced name, of course, she chose “Thelma Louise Pitt” from her favorite movie after running out of her home in Catawampus, Georgia. These days, she’ll fold your clothes for a buck at the trailer park laundry mat and she’ll eye you something fierce in case you want to lay a couple extra buck to get your britches bent extra stiff.

“Yeah, I know all about it.” Thelma Louise insisted casually as she masterfully crafted my boxers into an origami pterodactyl. “There’s a coven of witches and they go out there because there used to be some hospital that burnt down. It’s a sacred site and they talk to ghosts and stuff. You won’t find nothing in the papers, Chamber of Commerces don’t like that sort of news. Bad for the tourists.”

I left Thelma Louise a five-spot and grabbed the rest of my garb to head home. En route, I spotted a pack of feral children setting fire to dolls. I accosted them for the purple plastic smoke.

“Fuck Neva-neva!” They cried their resistance to me. Shadow people, their pupils were black as midnight and as wide as their eyes. “Man don’t stay, away Neva-neva!”

“Hey, it’s nothing personal.” I said and stomped out their fire with my flip-flopped feet. I saw one of the swamp kids carrying a femur. “What the hell is that?”

“Neva-neva see none-thing.” A girl with black eyes shook her head and spit, the spittle falling benignly to the gravel between us.  She hissed, leaning forward like a cobra licking the air between us, “It bone fissssh.”

Another kid spoke his pidgin-English, “Man t-bone, Neva-neva.” He was a pale chap with golden hair and black-as-soot fingernails. He seemed to be the leader of the lot, thanks in-no-small-part to his Tanned, Rested, Ready: Nixon 2012 t-shirt.  Nixon pointed out at the Bayou, “Man’tee swim sick, sick. Man’tee die ah-hay sick, sick.”

“Yeah, well, there aren’t manatees in these waters. ‘Never-never’ thinks that is a femur bone. If you runts weren’t homeschooled by raccoons, you’d know what a femur was.” I glared at the pack of ferals, my brow so furrowed it could crush open a pistachio.

“Feh-mah live here none, sick Neva-neva.” Another girl with barracuda sharp teeth insisted, her large black pupils catching the reflection of the sun like a starburst. She sneezed twice and with snot dripping from either nostril named me subtly, slowly, “Neva-neva.”

“Fine.” I gave-up. “I don’t want to know where you kids found a thigh bone. No more fire-fire, yah?”

“Fuck Neva-neva fuck!” The other girl spat again.

I’ve been called worse by shorter.

“These people…” Rufus Holdsworth said as he sat atop his paddle-board, admiring the coast of the trailer park community. “They don’t like you man. They hear you screaming at your computer late at night and they see you chopping away at the jungle with your machete. They think you’re unstable.”

“Best they fear me.” I insisted. “The feral kids think my house is haunted, which keeps them out.”

Interstate 4 and Lake Monroe to the east

Interstate 4 and Lake Monroe to the east

Rufus smiled and cracked open a beer from where he sat, its spray dousing his thigh and the lily pad beyond. His hazel eyes haphazardly loomed my way as he chugged his first sip, before belching, “First one today.” His tanned face was well-creased and his eyebrows were strangely lighter than his sunburnt skin. “You asked about Lake Monroe?”

“You spend much time there? Or beyond, along the deadzone?”

“Not if I can help it.” Rufus admitted before cracking open a can of beer and taking a quick sip. He sighed with relief, “First one today.”

“In Volusia County, there is supposed to be some old Tuberculosis Hospital that burned down. A lot of kids died, either before the fire from TB or during. I can’t find much of a history.”

“Nah.” Rufus Holdsworth turned his head perpendicular to his board as if he was intent on the squawking of a faraway sandhill crane. “It was there… There is a lot spooky shit East of here, North of here. If you think ‘It’s A Small World After-All’ is the creepiest Orlando attraction, you haven’t spent time in Volusia County.”

“Should someone want to find where the latest Satanic masses have been held in the forests of Volusia County, where would said someone start?” I asked.

Rufus’ hazel eyes caught a glimpse of me and quickly turned away. He groaned with hesitation before cracking open a beer and whetting his palate. He swallowed and sucked his teeth clean, “First one today.”

“Dude? I am not looking for Carcosa, just some half-assed black mass.”

“Yeah.” Rufus Holdsworth gave in. “I can find you some people. People who know. People who know where to go.”

And with that, the True Investigation was set to begin.

A resident of Bayou Saint Basil

A resident of Bayou Saint Basil

Leading up to game time, the placing of wagers – or what we sporting fellows like to call “the action” – was heating up. Outside, in the few hours before the grand event, the bayou seemed as benignly still as any other Sunday – the feral children were chasing raccoons out of the scrub with hatchets they’d fashioned out of rocks and broken coke bottles, strange herbal scents emanated from half of the trailers in the park, a spy-blimp nosing its way onto the horizon could just be seen through the spanish mosses overhead and my eyes were watering from the heretical alchemy Erasmus was boiling up (some sort of red curry chili with buffalo meat and oysters, must do wonders for the old  libido).

Welcome to my backyard, the post-apocalypse.

In order to keep my bets straight, I have compiled a list of the spit-shake wagers I have made with the local beasties in these here parts.

  • 4 different $5 bets on the Broncos minus 2.5 points
  • $50 on the Seahawks plus 2.5
  • I bet the Earl 4 cans of domestic swill Justin Bieber will be arrested again before halftime
  • I bet 5 year-old Little D Tuscan a Barbie that her dad will be passed-out drunk and spread-eagle naked on the dock by the fourth quarter
  • Abe the Sheik bet me one of his Arab falcons Marshawn Lynch will score at least twice (conversions inclusive). If the Sheik wins, I have to shave his back.
  • The mute guy who never told me his name from lot 4F bet his John McEnroe autographed poster that the Fox Sports Robot will become sentient and will smack Joe Buck.
Cleatus will steal the halftime show by becoming sentient

Cleatus will steal the halftime show by becoming sentient

Newsflash: there has been a Cyrus Lee Hancock sighting! He will not be at the Bayou for the game; instead he will be out in Oviedo spending time with the members of OASIS who survived the 2012 Maya Apocalypse.

  • Cyrus Lee is betting he can eat a pound of bacon in one sitting in less than 30 minutes. If he cannot, he is going to give me the picture of his wife from his wallet. If he can eat the bacon, I have to pay him $5 for the picture of his wife in his wallet.
  • During halftime, I will have the bathtub full of bog-water for Jim Tuscan and me to have an upside-down breath-holding competition. The true aquanaut victor will win a $10 Outback gift card.
  • Ethel bet me a jar of her homebrew cider that drinking her cider will not kill me with heartburn. I entertained this bet, but ultimately turned it down.
  • Doc Kelly bet me his first born that doing shots of fish oil & tequila will keep my triglycerides in check today. If my cholesterol does go off the chart and he loses, he said he’ll still let me have his first-born. Not sure what I would do with an infant, there are enough feral children up-turning my garbage at the trailer park as it is.
  • I bet Rufus a cartoon of eggs Pussy Riot will be the surprise halftime guest and will belt out some punk-anthem against Vlad Putin ahead of the Sochi Olympics.
  • Erasmus is betting me $50 we will hear Rufus use Aristolian Virtue Ethics to rationalize some of his inane behaviors at least thrice today.
  • Yorick bet 0.00125 BitCoins that the final score will be under 47 points.
  • My Puerto Rican Psychic Sidekick from Milwaukee offered several bets; I refused her because Psychic.
  • The NeverSister bet me $250 she would not win the $250 office betting pool. She placed another wager that Eli will be caught on camera smiling during a successful Seahawk conversion.

Color Commentary from the scene of the crime:

Rabbi Yizhak picked the bucking Bronco

Rabbi Yizhak picked the bucking Bronco

1:33 pm – Vic has breakfast. The feral children have returned from their errand of procuring a package of rare craft ale. They are rewarded with a sniff of 2nd rate lunatic soap the Canadians blend and call whiskey which is kept on-hand for such occasions.

Pre-Game Festivities and a cigar of most excellent fancy

Pre-Game Festivities and a cigar of most excellent fancy

2:20 pm – Vic has 2nd cup of coffee, this mug laced with Irish Whiskey and 300 milligrams of crushed Zantac. He considers putting on Fox Pre-Game. Considers against it.

2:37 pm – Vic pours a sip of highly regarded Venezuelan rum onto the earth in remembrance of the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

2:54 pm – Jim Tuscan calls Vic an “Asshole” for introducing his daughter to gambling. One of Rufus Holdsworth’s bastard-spawns is playing with his imaginary friend over a Ouija Board under a deranged oak tree. Terry Bradshaw’s disembodied voice can be heard in the distance.

Some time later, with another beer as dark as sin

Some time later, with another beer as dark as sin

3:15 pm – Vic approaches a teenage feral kid with green eyes, freckles and a cigarette. Vic tears a $5 bill in half and hands one piece to the kid with the promise of the 2nd piece as long as no trailers are burned down or ransacked. Vic then sets out on foot to leave the trailer park for a pre-game destination.

3:41 pm – Vince Wilfork was just spotted devouring a roasted chicken whole, bones and all.

5:45 pm – Tuscan brings cheesy bread. Rain falls, predicting sorrow and despair. Vic’s abode becomes full of fanatic.

6:15 pm – Kurt Russell sighting. “When the Levee Breaks” plays with Bronco introduction. A telling sign.

Surveying Tuscan's beer supply

Surveying Tuscan’s beer supply

6:20 pm – A girl Vic knows arrives with a dude Vic does not know. The dude Vic does not know arrives with a mustache we assume is meant to be ironic.

6:27 pm – How many minks did Joe Namath strangle for that coat?

6:34 pm – quick two points for Seattle

6:40 pm – a pair of feral children just ran off with a fifth of whiskey.

Erasmus with a peaty Irish Whiskey and Jim Tuscan with his 5 lb jug of honey.

Erasmus with a peaty Irish Whiskey and Jim Tuscan with his 5 lb jug of honey.

7:12 pm – first turnover of the night wins Vic a week’s worth of Viagra. Erasmus, “you know now is the time for Dumervil to make a big defensive play, but… Oh that’s right, they couldn’t figure out how to resign his ass!”

7:39 pm – it appears Denver may be overmatched. Tuscan punches the sheriff in the gut for grabbing the last Shocktop.

7:59 pm – Erasmus declared we are all just dreaming. Erin Andrews performs a flash-dance under a splash of raining water and Vic asks Erasmus to shut the hell up.

8:15 pm – Red Hot Chili Peppers are without shirts for 3.5 minutes and then they run back underground to their parkas. Well played Baby Boomer Generation.

8:25 pm – Erasmus’s chili curry is apparently ready. Seattle scored again.

8:35 pm – Cyrus Lee Hancock’s wife berates Vic for only paying $5 for her picture. Broncos continue to be in a world of trouble.

8:48 pm – an argument ensues over who is responsible for Michael Douglas’ throat cancer.

9:00 pm – Tuscan, “this might be the worst super bowl ever. Nothin’ personal to you blokes.” Erin Andrews appears in a hologram and agrees with Jim.

9:03 pm – Tuscan, “I haven’t seen a beat down like this since the Jacksonville Jaguars beat Dan Marino in his last game.”
Vic Neverman then stood up, “Alright, we are going to have to take this downstairs. I am not saying I am going to beat you in a fight, I am just saying we are going to fight.” Jim Tuscan retracted his statement. Seattle scored again.

9:10 pm – Tuscan punched the guy with the ironic mustache in the windpipe. Erasmus took the ironic mustached guy’s glass of whiskey and poured what remained into his own glass. Seattle scored again.

9:30 pm – Tuscan recognizes the T-Mobile commercial whistle as coming from Fr Tuck in Disney’s Robin Hood. Some band of feral children stole away the last roasted guinea pig on a stick cooked by Rufus’s Peruana wife. Seattle scored again.

9:41 pm – Rufus decorated the local shrubbery with what he decided was not necessary to hold on to (pizza, curry chili, irish whiskey, innumerable beers, etc, etc, et al). Seattle scored again.

9:57 pm – Vic insulted a dude for having faith in Tim Tebow and his girlfriend punched Vic in the nose. Tears follow. Seattle scored again.

10:13 pm – the game is long over, Erasmus finally accepts the fact that they are not going to re-review the first down call from the first quarter. Defeat is accepted. Seattle scored again.

10:23 pm – Vic is watching New Girl and is surprised Seattle has scored again.

There’s a feeling I get when I look to the West
And my spirit is crying for leaving

– Led Zeppelin, Stairway To Heaven

I used to watch Old Man Neverman gaze endlessly at the horizon, countless cigarettes disintegrating betwixt his digits as he looked, hauntingly, to the West… before he, himself, shuffled-off. Always wondered what he sought within those faraway stares. He was raised in the same stingray-infested tidal pools reflecting the sunset off the sea as I was to be. I too would become transfixed with the West and in return, it has been the western coasts where the strangest paranormal shit has always transpired for yours truly. My most chilling ghost stories – chilling not for their malevolence, but, rather, the sheer proximity of weirdness to the host body of this narration – occurred during trips of mine to Western Ireland and Southern California. It was later, during my years in Oregon when my curiosity for investigating the “after-this” culminated into a salivating fury of belligerent pursuit for unobtainable knowledge of what waits beyond, ever so patiently, the threshold of Death’s door (where all are welcome). Which is where we arrive, presently, to the retelling of my spooky nights in the Rose City, Portland.

Ginger Hustle, master of using leverage in his persuasive arguments

Ginger Hustle, master of using leverage in his persuasive arguments

I wore two pairs of socks during those Portland days: the inner pair to keep the vital heat within, the outer pair to keep the dank cold without.  Nevertheless, nevermore, the chilling dampness of the Oregon atmosphere had seeped into my skin, cooling my bones and mildewing my mind. I can see now (with hindsight thawed by current tropical confines) I was a bit of an odd duck back then, clad in ninja pajamas with a hooded sweatshirt hiding my features as I scaled and descended countless stairs: from the basement study to the first floor gastronomic laboratory and upward still to the second floor where I would flush the byproduct of whichever caffeinated alchemy was coursing through my nervous system. I spent most of my woken hours in hermetic transit upon the ancient stairs of that East Portland monastery that was my home. My roommate, Ginger-Hustle, had long since surrendered all attempts to acclimate me to Northwestern society and had settled for observing me in my transits from behind his cynical, horn-rimmed spectacles as he hypothesized which century my mind resided in. Certainly, it was during those days my conscious thought was occupied with the earlier half of the last millennium. I was thigh-deep in historical tombs, wading towards my own understanding of the 4th Crusade (which I strove to become the contemporary authority of), absorbing the non-fiction literature and plotting out the trips I would eventually make to Constantinople, Zadar and Venice.

When I did break from my hermetic intellectual pursuits, I busied myself as a hobbyist ghost-hunter.

I joined NOPI on a whim and within half a year I had unintentionally wrested control of the organization out of the hands of the superstitious and into my skeptical mitts. NOPI stood for “North Oregon Paranormal Investigations”, though Ginger-Hustle insisted it was better described as “Nerds Other Portlanders Ignore.” It was hard to argue with his logic. In a city populated with a motley crew of elsewhere’s fringe, the nerd quotient was already high in Portland. NOPI out-dorked them all and I would be their prince of fools, duke of the daft, champion of the otherwise untouchables.

Lone Fir Cemetery - the Masonic Tombstone between the trees

Lone Fir Cemetery – the Masonic Tombstone between the trees

It was a career that began innocently enough. Me in my Floridian flip-flops, I would casually observe the goings-on while amongst the seasoned ghost-mongers with their hi-tech gizmos and psychic intuition as we gathered at pioneer cemeteries by what little light of day Oregonian skies allowed. What could not be anticipated was the impact my presence had on said goings-on. I was the resident skeptic, yet the weirdest shit always seemed to happen when I was around. At my favorite spot in my favorite cemetery, where four ancient douglas firs border a single masonic grave, my camera and cell phone shut-down like a burned-out toaster at Fukishima. At an overnight investigation of a former poorhouse/asylum, it was my dowsing rods that flung themselves cross-eyed from within the former children’s ward. I was developing a reputation as a spook magnet (aye, familiar tale). It wouldn’t be long before the self-described “psychics” all sought me out as their preferred investigative partner (we worked in twos, you see, one scientist per intuitive). I was, as one haunted historian termed it, a “lightening rod for psychic activity”. I wasn’t seeing dead people, mind you. I saw little with my nearsighted-empathy. The coincidence seemed to be my presence – I was the rabbit’s foot of weird fucking luck.

Swamp of Sadness - the danger of belief

Swamp of Sadness – the danger of belief

Seasoned as heavily as you would freezer-burnt leftovers, I became a veteran of the group and gained a certain confidence amongst these ghost-mongers. I was still the resident skeptic and was able to explain the strange anecdotes with an imaginative reasoning. Firstly, ghost stories can haunt the human psyche with or without evidence of anything paranormal. The imagination is like the Neverending Story’s “swamp of sadness”, as soon as you belief in something you are sunk up to your neck in shit. Secondly, I am a humanist. I believe we, as a species, are capable of some crazy-arsed shit. I believe in the possibility of telekinesis, especially in moments of profound stress. There is no “Poltergeist”, merely some really stressed out dude (or pubescent teen girl, more likely). The way I could go on being a skeptic while enduring the high strangeness around me was by explaining my own anxious mind was the catalyst for absurd occurrences. By shaving with Occam’s razor, I chose the more believable path at the paranormal fork in the road.

chilling Masonic grave with "orb" activity just before the camera shutdown

chilling Masonic grave with “orb” activity just before the camera shutdown

A skeptical & wizened ninja-pajama’d monk, I was still allured by the sense of something grander existing in the cosmos around me. On rarest occasion, I would find myself a lovely young accomplice to help test my thesis. She would have to have the moxie – the sheer nerve – to accompany me into one of the city’s ancient cemeteries at the witching hour after whichever bar I met her in closed (2am, 3am, 4…). She, my accomplice, and I would then have to sneak into the cemetery either by climbing a jagged-toothed fence or burrowing beneath a gate. I would then take her hand and lead her through the necropolis to my favorite spots, like the four firs around the masonic grave. My actions were, of course, foolish. Homeless vagrants, drug addicts and/or Illuminati occultists could all be sacrificing virgins or feral cats in the next alcove beyond our sight. I was aware of such presences and yet I felt somewhat invincible. It was an outlandish courage afflicted by a strange concoction of aged tequila, crafted draft beer and pure testosterone in my blood, true… But there was something more to my brazen stupor: faith in the environment. I was not a trespasser on such hallowed ground, I was a frequent visitor. My footfalls were well known. My skepticism was supplanted by a superstitious confidence I felt amongst the tombs of ancestors who would respond to my respect with some sort of otherworldly protection. It was of course nonsense, all of it! Or so it seems now, far east in these warm tropical climes, as I think back to then. To be there, to be then, with whichever skirt had the nerve to accompany me at such a diabolical predawn hour, I felt a halo of protection. As luck, or otherworldly matters, would have it, ne’er did a threat emerge from the shadows. I mean, other than my drunken unrequited love for the accompanying skirt at hand…

The White Eagle Saloon

The White Eagle Saloon

My reputation as renowned ghost-herd was solidified during an overnight investigation in the Northeastern Quadrant of Portland at a tavern called The White Eagle. The bar had notoriety beyond the ghostly oddities frequently described in paranormal texts, it had a true history. In the early 1900s, Portland was a port-town. Shanghai tunnels existed on either side of the Willamette River (which separated east & west Portland) where intoxicated menfolk would be abducted and loaded aboard a ship set abroad. This particular tavern was no different and was known within the Polish immigrant community as “the bucket of blood” for its trials and tribulations. I personally explored the basement where the Shanghai tunnels had been long-since blocked off. The ground floor was a bar and soundstage where bands would play nightly. The second story was the hotel with rooms furnished out of a latter day brothel. Between two such rooms existed a connecting closet that was known to modern psychics as “a gateway to Hell.” If you peruse Ghost literature of Portland, you will undoubtedly come across the legend of these closets where you can slide the fire-pole down to damnation. Countless mediums have claimed grandiose evil lies in these passageways. In short, it was the kind of place you (as a reasonable-minded individual) would choose to avoid. It was also the kind of place Vic Neverman and his crack squad of ghost-chasing troops would decide to camp out overnight.

PDX White EagleCutting to the chase, as it is the chase I aim to cut to, our hotel room had access to one of the diabolical access points to hell. It was decided to turn out the lights in the room, for 75% of our team to descend to the bar below to drink beer and listen to the live band while the leftover 25% remained in the closet of the dark room which was the aforementioned “gateway” with a heavy helping of audio equipment kept on the high shelf of the closet. As there were only four of us, I embodied the entire 25% that was to be left behind.

It should be know I was considered “old-school” amongst my elder ghost-herders. While they had state-of-the-art audio/video equipment, I was the young dude with the dowsing rods and an uncanny sense of deductive logic. Before they left the hotel room and went downstairs, my team saw that I was comfortably tucked away in the closet of doom with the audio player recording on the shelf above before shutting the door and turning off all illumination within the hotel room. Please recall what I mentioned earlier about high-stress situations and the “poltergeistic” affect. I was in a pit of darkness with an immediate door, outside of which was another pit of darkness with another door. Just two doors away from the hallway to the stairwell to the bar, sure, but that provided little comfort when my ass was plump-down on a portal to Hell.

Hallway upstairs in the White Eagle

Hallway upstairs in the White Eagle

Alone in the darkness, I bantered to no end in a stream-of-conscious confession to the audio equipment, which was to be played back later to see if there were any responses from “beyond”. I battered around drivel about my skepticism on the local spirits, about my criticism for the home-brewed beer (served downstairs), about whichever obscurity crossed my mind. As I sat, in a fetal-ish position, blabbering beer snobbery, the state-of-the-art audio equipment overhead decided ever-so-suddenly to leap off of the closet shelf and plummet ever-so-rapidly upon the crown of my head. When you are immobile in a closet and the heavens begin to fall upon you, as if some diabolical minion smacked the equipment off of the shelf, you might be prone to startle. If you could hear the audio (owned by other team members) of the event in the closet, you would hear a whole horde of cataclysmic crashing and then a long pause… before I remember how to brief and mention, “Holy shit, I need a beer.”

I broke out of that closet, bounded across the bed to the light-switch that had barely been turned on before I was out the door and down the stairs into the bar below.

I’ve had creepier occurrences around the globe (notably Ireland and California), but this was the only time I had been assaulted by fallen inanimate material. Of course, I can rationalize the event as occurring because either: 1) the band playing in the bar below had so much bass it steadily moved the audio equipment closer to a tipping point, or 2) my anxious psyche willed the audio equipment to go airborne via telekinetic fucked-upped-ness. Those two explanations make a lot more sense than what the psychics had to say: I had been attacked by a hand from Hades who did not approve of my existence within the gateway and/or my criticism of the house brew.

This December is the fifth anniversary of my night at the White Eagle and I am still uncertain what occurred there. Living, now, in the jungles of central Florida where everything is temporary (especially the limestone foundation beneath our feet), chasing the eternal does not grip me as it once did. There seems to be little time to ponder the beyond when obsessed with the imbalance of the present. I’ve started looking East now, where day begins rather than closes. Over my shoulder, though, there exists the macabre curiosity over what hell happened back in the Rose City.