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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Fighting The Banshee – A Fantasy in Free Verse

At six o'clock in the morning on an early day in October, 2012, I strapped on a rented Cruze and began a 560-mile journey to spend some time with Holly, th' Luvly Laura's friend since childhood.  I would say, in fact, that they defined the term "BFF."  Holly could not, for various unavoidable reasons, attend either Laura's Memorial Service, or the military service during which her cremains were placed in my niche in a National Cemetery (no, Laura isn't a veteran, but I am... and so was Laura's Dad).  In any case, when Holly announced they were going to place her parents' cremains at Arlington National Cemetery (her father was a WWII pilot ferrying unarmed planes into combat zones, I decided to be there representing both of us.

The idea was a good one, and Holly and her family welcomed me to their family as a sort of adjunct member.  The "How It's Done," part, however, could have used some work on my part.  First, the Cruze is not designed for long trips on roads undergoing random intermittent repairs.  She's a short-coupled little beast, and bounces and rocks unmercifully over any series of unevenness.  She's also a snappy little car and fun to drive, but that means her suspension is stiff and every hole and bump is immediately and intimately transmitted to your back.

Second, I had just spent nine hours in a car alone, headed for a reunion with the best friend of my wife who's been dead less than a year.  About halfway into the trip, I began to ponder all these things.  It turns out it's possible that such a combination of realities may not be a good idea after all... despite all it has going for it at first glance.  The "good" news is that from all that pain comes the what follows.

Copyright: R C Larlham October 10, 2012 - All Rights Reserved to Author

For two long years I fought the bitch,
Th’ Luvly Laura’s own family Banshee.
The day she came, November First, Two
Thousand and oh-nine, I walked into
A darkened house just after six at night.

The silence and the darkness raised the hackles
On my neck.  I called her name, and yet again, but
From the Luvly Laura came not the smallest sound.
My heart flat quit, then stammered once… then
Hammered hard in my unbreathing chest.

I was a-sprint before I knew, and in the nose of memory
I smell the gagging burning sulfur scent.
Short corners tried their vicious best
To dump me on the floor, my wind and heart
Knocked flat, no more to drive me on.

But I fetched up at the foot of the stairs
The Luvly Laura at my feet. Above her, standing
On the air, in a Gilly Suit of ragged black for
Midnight work, with snakeskin gloves black as
The rags, made of Mamba skin… was The Banshee.

Beneath the cowl a tic of white… bleached bone…
A flash of skull, told me that here stood death above
My Luvly Laura. And in that black beneath the cowl
A deeper black -- its open maw, from which come forth
A scream that shook my deepest soul to vengeance rage.

“Not her!” I bent and kissed my bride, my love of
Forty years and four. “Not her. Not today.”
“Chuck?” She smiled, “I fell, I think. I’m sorry…
I’ve made such a mess. It’s been since eight o’clock.”
My heart broke like a child's.  It hasn't healed since.

I dared not touch or move her, so I just made the call.
When they heard she’d been there ten hours or more
I swear they were at the door before I hung up the phone.
I looked up for The Banshee, but she was gone.
It was but a fantasy my mind had played to ease the fear.

The Banshee is an evil bitch, and comes and goes
At her own will. For two long years I fought that

Awful witch, a fantasy that gave to me a way to see
An enemy to face in epic battle, in a war I knew I’d lose.
But a few fights I'd win, and keep her with me for a bit.

The Luvly Laura knew nothing of the pistol and
Imaginary sword I used to fight a Gilly Suit of black
Upon the battlefields in my mind's eye.  An enemy
I could see in a place that I could be, and the courage
That I garnered there, with my beloved I could share.

Together we rode daily ever deeper into The
Banshee’s lair. I drew strength from my few wins
And she drew hers from me. But only I, of the two
Of us, saw what lay in The Banshee’s home…
The end of hope...  the end of her, the end of half of me.

And when it came, she was already gone.
I'd done all I could do... to fight, and let her hope
Until the end. And as her mind diminished
In her disease, I was at peace. She never knew
I'd holstered the gun and scabbarded the sword.

It was time for silent, peaceful death to vanquish...
The Crawfords' bitch Banshee.
And when it had and all was done, my beloved
Gone and gone, I went to do my daily work
And there I found... my company punished ME

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Answer to 30,000 Annual American Gun Deaths Is...

A “Gun Rights” organization new to me, (well, relatively new in any case - it began in 2001) called the National Organization for Gun Rights (NAGR) that bills itself as being well to the “gun right” of the NRA, has created a new fear-mongering ad for gun and ammunition manufacturers. The add shows bullets in several calibers, with the tagline, "ALL FASTER THAN DIALING 911"  (emphasis theirs), on its Facebook Home Page where it also offers the ad for sharing on FB. Unfortunately, all I can do here is link it.
This whole ad is several violations of logic in a box. To begin with, its basic premise, that most people reading it are likely to be faced with a home invasion or gunpoint robbery, is wrong. In 72 years, counting the home invasion that did not occur at my house last night, I have had exactly zero occasions to worry about that difference in time... and the same is true for the vast majority of Americans. In the second place, it’s a logical fallacy called a false dichotomy. That’s not an either/or question. I’d be calling 911 whether I had a gun or not. Finally, the way that ad is written, it presumes that you should be shooting anyone who comes into your house, and that’s not necessarily so.

It is not guns per se that are a problem for me, I have my own, nor have I any qualms about shooting a home invader if that’s what I’m faced with. It's the assumption that the American public in general needs one, and is somehow lacking in either sense or patriotism (or both) if there isn't a gun in the house with a person ready to cowboy up, that I find problematic.

The NRA is nothing but a fear-mongering gun and ammunition manufacturers shill. The organization, more precisely its leaders, couldn't care less about whether the gun you fire is pointed at a home invader, or at one of your children coming into your room with a bad case of the night terrors... so long as you buy another gun and plenty of ammunition. The NAGR proudly proclaims itself to be more of the same, with none of the NRA’s softness on enemies of guns and willingness to fund the campaigns of Democrats (who are apparently all enemies of guns). No matter the rhetoric, it’s all a propaganda ploy to get you to keep those production lines rolling, and it’s nothing more.

Why do you think they both tout the Obama/federal/international/United Nations gun grab that never happens... and home invasions that are extremely unlikely to happen to you or anyone you know? The answer to more than 30,000 gun deaths a year is NOT, "more guns." Specifically, it is not, "More guns in the pockets, purses and waistbands of anyone capable of pulling a credit card out of a wallet." Why correcting that is a problem for the gun worshipers, I don’t know (well, I suppose I do... too many of them could never pass a screening). The reality is, that of the 30,000 people a year who die by gunshot, fewer than a third are the victims of crimes like home invasions, robberies, drive-by shootings and so forth. Oh, many of them are victims of crimes, but the crimes aren’t the crimes these organizations keep touting.

In the Detroit, Michigan, area (essentially southeast Michigan) the crimes I read about are drive-by shootings and other gun-related murders, women shot by their boyfriends, husbands, exes, etc. (women, for instance, are as much as eleven times more likely to die in an abusive relationship if there’s a gun handy), unarmed people shot in road rage situations, suicides, accidental shootings (a mother was recently killed by her two-year old who reached into her purse and pulled the trigger of her gun) and especially children killing children because they’re doing what children do... playing with things they’ve been told not to touch.

As for the, “I’ll be there when you don’t have your gun and save you from the bad guy,” crowd... you probably won’t. You’ll be in your local Kroger parading around with your AR-15 Backwoods Breaching Carbine strapped over your too-large belly. Or you’ll keep your had away from the gun for concern that he’ll shoot when he catches the motion, or for fear that you “might” hit somebody.  

To repeat, the answer to too many gun deaths is NOT more guns in the hands of anybody who wants one and can pull money out of a wallet. Gun crime may have reduced, but you can’t extrapolate that forever. We already have more guns than people in this country, so what’s the magic number? Two per person? Three?  Five per family? How about, “None of the foregoing.”? We need to get some control over who gets to have a gun. Folks who think a noise in the house is best answered by a gun in the hand aren’t necessarily the folks who ought to have one.