Uless (Useless town)the thieves home town, was kind of like Vegas, airy open space, clean, well lighted, but without the gambling. Gambling was not allowed in those districts. One would have to travel many, many miles West before they could start unloading their wallets into the slot machines.

Robert was either a parasite or a social engineer. His book could feed society or take from it. Either way The Criminal had it's place on the shelves of the books stories on the vast flexible net that connects library to library. The world wide net, Robert believed, to be the only dimension synonymous to hell. And hell hath no fury scorned.

What did that line mean anyway. Robert pondered over the writer's name who invented that. Was it the one who wrote The Red Badge of Courage. He couldn't recall. He wasn't getting enough food. He wasn't taken enough from the world to exact the name of the author. But he could get some of it. That was good enough. For some reason he was no longer slurping down his lunches in the twenty eight minute allotted time. Thirty minutes was allotted for lunch, but it took two minutes to get seated and even five minutes to take from the buffet line. Just like school. Robert thought. School in the 1950's was designed to resemble the factory. That is why they are square, boxy with long halls and various rooms. Just like a factory does. Schools had a hint of what prison was like too. Schools represented many things in society. The factory, the work place, the social gathering, a form of church, a laboratory, and perhaps, even a prison. It was all flowing off of Roberto's hand and into the stacks of ream paper. And if the paper ran out he went back to collecting the tray liners, or the paper placemats. He needed three things to write: his pen, the placemat, or paper, and his soul. If he had all three objects he was a writer. A pen, paper and a soul. Those are three necessity to create great fiction or auto biography. A fourth element allowed the music to flow deeper and create from a fuller palate. The fourth element was human compassion, affection, sex, hot lips, a warm toned firm touch, or what many titled as Love. Sex is one of the definition of Love in the American Heritage Dictionary. What is love? He thought and turned over and glared at the shadowy ceiling. Love? Will she come? Love? Will she walk with me again. Oh, Love. Love?

Thievery is wrong for a simple reason. Materials amount to nothing in the end. Everything will complexly pile up and amount to waist. No materials can be found. This is one of the genius to Christ's livelihood. When a shop lifter walks out of a store with a measly object it may make he or she fell better. I remember in the Marlon Brando Flick Score. In the end the main thief is left in the basement of his house with nothing but an empty pool and broken wasteful objects. Material amount to shit in the end.

Chuck walked by tapping the Mag-light against the cell bars. He was quiet that evening. He didn't carry on in conversation nor a non discursive gesture. He simply placed the small black flashlight on the floor and walked off into the shadows of the prison corridors. Roberto called out his name but no one replied, "Chuck. Hey Chuck. Thanks for the new batteries. And the lamp. Thanks for fixen the lamp." No one replied. Roberto was becoming more fixated on valuing every material given to him. The only things he owned now where the paper, pens, the old rusty Underwood, cobwebs, his prison uniforms, linen sheets, a pillow, a small tan toothbrush, paste, a hair brush, shaver (plastic) and a few letters from Ms. Thorns.

She was teaching in Germany. Teaching English on military bases. The letters were brief. She told him she'd be returning to the states for a visit and perhaps they could have a visit. Maybe a conjugal visit. He needed to be close and personal now. It was crucial to the writing and the protagonist's development in The Criminal. He'd write to her about the first chapter and his love for her.

At times the cells got noisy. There had not been a riot. Not yet. At times it was quite peaceful. More so than his pad in Useless Texas. He hated calling Uless Useless but the art community was near null there. The only reason he had fallen into the trap of living in airport neighborhood was due to his mother and her retirement. She retired and offered him a small place near the runways of DFW, to write poetry and short stories and to audition out in Dallas. He took it but hated the isolation. Since College Roberto was surrounded by people, societal events and social occurrences that changed his life. New York was full of culture. He was living smack dab in the middle of art. Right in the center of it all. Grammercy park. Now he had fallen of a cliff and landed on a small island south of the Everything City. Now he had landed in the Nowhere Land. Uless. You lose. Useless, Texas. But he still had his notes, his journals, short stories, screen plays, a few scripts, his favorite teas and the most useful resource for his storytelling. His memoirs. His memory would guide him to the right word. The right moment. The right way to reveal who he was.

People in Uless, TX communicated by slamming cabinets. Yes, this is true. The cabinet people. The pad he was living in had thin walls. His neighbor to his left played guitar, was bald, had a mouth full of black rotten out teeth, was once a radar teacher in the military and had recently divorced. Mr. Downstairs. A wild ass wannabe L.A. type rapper, must have landed here from West. He was later kicked out for playing his base too loud. It thumped far too often in the night. Plus, he abused his women. And openly. Next was the police man on his right. He was a quiet man that was only seen carrying his groceries up the stairs. The cabinet slammer lived on the opposite side connected directly to his place. He loved to slam the cabinets at different moments. Usually after Roberto would take in a pint of yogurt and share some time with films by Paul Auster, and various films with Kevin Spacey. Roberto stretched the film Shipping News into a week long watch. Hence, he watched the film in small intervals as he took in his dinner and then shut off the VCR to return to his work at the Laptop. Later, he change films and stretch them out in short intervals, studying scenes, and the dialogue, themes, and characterization. Also, he keenly watched the acting styles. His favorite actors at the time were Will Hurt, John Hurt and Harvy Keital. Also, he appreciated the works performed elegantly and wittily by Emma, and Juliet Binoch. Kieslowski's Bleu was his must valued film with Binoch. His favorite film with Emma was Wit. He remembered staying up with tissues and cookie dough, baking cookies into the night like some high school girl that just got dumped. His favorite past times was watching films. It was almost a disease with him. He flip in the old VCR tape of some program from Bravooo or KERA and view it like a mad student.

One morning he woke up. "I'm afraid of the world." He whispered. "I have nearly been broken." In the opening of the film he had watched the previous night he recalled the incident of September Eleventh, 2003. He remembered the plane, the smell of smoke, the screaming and the hair pulling and tears. The frustration was overwhelming. He had a dream about a couple in the Bronx peering at the city, watching the twin towers melt to ground zero. The lovers were hugging each other, tightly griping, kissing passionately and wildly whispering into each others ears, "We'll rebuild. We'll rebuild."

Roberto began to value his book. Perhaps too much. He remembered the ol tale of the Canterbury tales. How the men savored the gold far too much. They ended up slaughtering each other over materials. Then, Roberto thought of this theme. There were many themes inside him, and the world of literature to chose from. Hence, he had much to contemplate on the matter of greed. There was the theme of man versus man, man versus nature, man versus god, man versus isolation, man versus death, man versus the devil, man versus theme. That was what he was dealing with. Man versus theme. Then, he remembered the story. What was the theme of the Criminal. Crime doesn't pay. Is the theme crime pays one fourth of the time. Or is it deeper than that. Crime is only on the surface. It is not a deep cultured manner like religion, or language, or family. Crime is the opposite of laws and laws are created for surface reason. Perhaps some laws fall along a deeper culture. The laws listed in the ten commandments perhaps. Roberto was thinking of superficial laws. Don't run a red light. Don't drink under age. Don't harbor minors drinking under age. Don't flip the bird at a lawful citizen. Don't act out in public. So on. Laws had their levels of depth in the ice berg of culture. Now, Roberto was looking for a theme that went deeper than man versus man, or man versus God, or man versus nature. Something no one had tried before. Something along the lines of man versus typewriter. See, the Underwood had quit on him. Not completely. The R was no longer printing correctly. Hence, if Roberto wrote, "The Red rabbit ran around the red barn." It came out, The ed abbit an a ound the ed ba n." It did not come out correctly. So, he set the ol Underwood beside his bed and wrote out a letter in fine print, to the warden. "The Underwood stopped producing the Letter R. Is it possible that you can replace it with a new type writer. I request a Smith And Corona. They work best. Thank you, Robert Pace. Cell block 3 E. They had recently moved Roberto to the other end of the cell block. The Underwood had two problem. It not only halted on R production but it also clanked and clatter like the old engine of a VW bug. It was noisier than War World Three on during Sunday Mass. He Hoped the warden would respond with Godspeed on the matter. The story was flowing out him like blood from an open wound. He'd figured out the protagonist's name in Criminal. He would call him, Tom. Tom was a perfect name for a man of the underworld. Tom Burnett. Tom's major crime would be Bank Robbery. He figured he make Tom a little more adventures then Convenient stores.

"What I do to get back home to find some fried fish and something to top that off with and maybe something nice cool and syrupy to wash it down." Jackson passed by. He was chatting with the security leading him. Just some day to day, small talk about missing the good food on the outside. Two guards were assisting him to the basement. Closely watching him with eyes of safety. The early morning was rising. Robert could sense it. Also, he could hear the blue birds chirping on the telephone wires not far from his cell near the yard. He would be let out today. His morning duties had been dropped. The warden allowed him to write for two hours in the morning, and spend some late nights revising and reworking. For some reason the warden wanted him to edit his work at night. He argued with his plan.

"I need more time at night. And I don't need to go back and edit as much. Also, sir, can you please stop reviewing my work. If there is a mistake let it be. I'm sure it can be corrected later. It doesn't need perfection now. The story is in a creative state. And what makes structure structure anyway." "What are you talking about. Structure is absolute in story form." It was obvious the warden knew nothing about writing "I just need the night. That's all. I don't mind working early mornings. Just give me the night to write it out." "Okay, son" As if I was his son. "I'll give you the nights. But I'll cut a few of your morning duties for the sake of late night work. I understand writers have weird hours." "Not weird hours sir. Personal hours. I can only write when I feel it. It is an affective based creative art. It takes a certain time. I just feel it and go to the typewriter and begin." "Just feel it huh.?" The warden eyed him like some extinct hawk expecting his next meal. "Okay. Fine. You just tell me in a week in advance when I can. . ." "No. I can't do that. It would be useless. Absolutely useless. They would be like putting me on the fucking time clock." A silence filled the room. Roberto had lost his head for a second. Fucking slipped out. "Sorry sir." "Sorry?" The silence grew thicker. "You need to learn to respect other Roberto. Watch your mouth or a yank the whole project." "Sorry sir." The calmness begin to crawl back into him as a bead of sweat formed on his fatty brow. The warden was big man, with soft shoes that squeaked reminding Robert of his great weight. The warden was very over weight. He must of weighed in three times over Roberto one hundred and fifty five pounds. He was awfully round and fat hung from his sides like air bags. "Okay sonny. I'll allow some freedom. I rarely let anyone write in this cells but I can understand you have a special gift and it would be uneducated to deny ya. I'll give you a few nights." "You can't give me anything sir. It has to come. I don't know when it comes, but if you force me to write, it will come out hollow mimicry of something forceful or contrived." Contrived hung in the air, the short e sound bounced off the wall. It was as if he was controlling the Warden with his access to word use. "I see. Okay. Fine. Have at it. I won't tell you when laundry duty will be back in mornings. As long as you behave I'll let you have a few late nights. The Underwood is currently being worked on. How is . . ." The warden searched for the missing word. It seems he was hunting for freestyle writing, or handwriting. "Its going fine." Roberto interrupted. "I don't mind writing with my hand. The only problem is my pinky. I have boxer hand if you didn't know. So at times it is hard to read my own writing. As a kid I was told I wrote like a doctor." "Probably as smart as one." "Oh, I wouldn't say that." Roberto bounced back. "I can still write with my hands, it's just going to take a lot of time." The warden rubbed his hands together and sat up. He stuck an unlit cigar in his mouth and adjusted his long gray tie. "Fine, fine." Next, he pushed on the button under the table with unexpected predictability. He just shut off. No more warmth. Went cold in the flick of his wrist. "The guards are on their way." The door sprung open. Roberto was paced off. He turned his head back to acknowledge his exit and nodded a thank you to the Warden. "You need to save those placemats you be stealing from the cafeteria. I'm gonna have to cut expenses due to the fact that the Underwood is costing my twenty five dollar for repairs. I won't be able to afford the seven dollars this week." Roberto nodded it was okay. "You don't mind if I take the placemats." "Just the trashed ones. See ya." The door slammed and the conversation ended. Roberto was led back to his cell were he curled up with a few notes he had noted nights before. Chapter two was almost ready.

Look I've laid here for three days with


Roberto was back in Useless, Texas. He had fallen off to sleep in his cell and the world of his past had woken him up.

Look I've laid her for three days.

Starving like a fool.

I don't know why this is happening to me.

I've starved for too long.

Fucking terrorist. Fucking

September Eleventh. I should

Of stayed in New York.

Hell I was living off Park

Avenue and the entire world.

Nearly down the block from

Time Square. And now I'm in Uless (Useless).

Subway won't keep me.

7-11 fired me for insubordination.

Like they could use such a fuckin term.

The Dallas restaurants are too

Crazy. The managers are too strict.

Too anal.

Can't go back to 7-11.

Place is like a mini Los Angeles.

Nothing but pimps ordering

Newport, scratching lottery scratch

And sniff the beer on their breath.

I got tired of slinging tomatoes

Around and stacking on their

Fat bellies. I lay here in hell.

A lost Donkey. A lost member

Of the chosen people. I was raised

In church. I was taught the life

Of Christ. He died for me. He starved for me.

He was spit on for me. And now I lay here

And starve and suffer. Three days he

Screamed on the tree. And now my days

Linger. Day to day. The hunger. The emptiness.

Seven years of College. One year of

Grad school for this shit.

Now I have to steal my food.

I could just lay here and starve.

It doesn't feel good, but I don't

Mind pain. It's the dilapidation

That scares me. It's the slow disintegration

That hurts.

The loneliness hurts more than

The hunger.

I have an idea. I was thinking about

Walking up to the airport.

Not to travel, but rather to hunt.

See, my car is dead in the shop.

They yanked a thousand dollars out

Of my ass. That would of paid

Rent and groceries for a month here.

A thousand dollars, rent and groceries,

So I could hobble the car back,

Put it's lame Mizabushi engine back

Into the shop for what.

For their bellies. Their fat ass

Round bellies, protruding to their

Nothingness feel good high on beer

and New Ports. Fuggin pigs.

Fast food low lives.

Man, its odd how fast food makes

A fortune in this town. And here I am

Starving so they can eat it up and make

It to church on time. Fuck their

Pantego bible shit. Fuck their betrayers.

The killed a fourth of me. A bit

Of me was a warrior Indian. Most likely

The Apache tribe. My grandmother

Won't tell me the tribe. I should shave my

Head into some odd hair cut.

Prance around like the Indian I am.

Bastards. So, I have a little Irish

And English shame in me. I value

That fourth of Indiana. It makes

Feel like a belong to real people.

I can't believe Americans. So arrogant

And thoughtless. Far from mindful.

Okay, here is my idea to get back.

I head up to DFW airport.

I stalk some people that are in

Need. Like Wheel chair people or

. No. I can't. I got to have standards to

my thievery. Okay. Another plan.

This is what I do. I find some

Luggage. Lost luggage. Luggage no

One has picked up. Unclaimed baggage.

Yeah, I'll make a living on unclaimed

Baggage. That's it. That's the ticket.

You know that luggage piece that

keeps going around

The electric luggage conveyor belt.

I take the luggage piece, lug it

Into the bathroom. Dig through it.

Look for credit cards. I could

Get a fucking rental car with

Credit cards. Food. Even pay

Bills on credit. Why not?

But that would be falling from

Grace. I could get away with it.

Hey. Wait. I know now. I could

Pick pocket. Maybe I could buy

A book on pick pocketing.

Make it a career. Nay. I should

Shoot for that. Shop lifting is

Hard enough. But should I go hungry.

Should I starve. If I don't have

Any money what the hell am I doing

Here in the first place.

What am I doing here.

Useless, Texas. Nothing but

Wal-mart, Kroger and crime.

People are suffering from

The loss. I live in airport town.

American Airlines bit it and now

People have to suffer. The twin

Towers. The terrorist. There arms

have stretched. So far. Wait.

An airplane just

Flew over I think. Or was it the wind.

I'm getting hungry. Maybe I should

Run up to Kroger, get an

Orange, or some juice.

Hell maybe I should steal some

Batteries, a camera. Start


The cell door slammed shut. Roberto was back in his cell. Night was in it's deepest stages. He always knew this when his toes went numb due to stress. A storm was on its way. It was getting damn cold. Winter was on the backburners this year but closing. Roberto was going to begin Chapter three to his masterpiece. He would finish it up in no time. His goal, to stay far from a free and ignorant lifestyle and complete the masterpiece. Now it was time to implement the hard walls surrounding him into the work.

Dreams can keep a man alive longer than time can or ever will or ever has in the past. Dreams keep men alive day to day, minute to minute and second to second. Like the heart, a dream must continue to flow and pump and grind the blood through a man's vain, no matter how sick or sad or cut off from the world he actually is or ever will be, or not be. . . If anyone lived reality for every half second they fall off the cliff and into the jagged ravine of grit reality. They non-dreamer would die of reality shock if he cut out on his dreams. No one lives for reality, and in many cases most don't live in the moment. That is their biggest flaw and their savior. People live in the future. They live in their wished house, their hoped car and the next fancy meal, and thick glass of red at the French Bistrot.

Roberto was beginning to doubt his credentials as a writer. First off he was a horrendous speller. Although he did spell higher vocabulary words better. He could handle the difficult rules. Anything college level was in his line of knowledge. On the other hand, Roberto had problems with his basics. His father and mother split apart at the age of nine years. His father was very rough on him and he had problems taking in the knowledge base of information, such as spelling. He did excel in basic math and even scored a A in college in Business Math-Calculus in undergrad. He did not excel in curriculum based skills until he chose to leave his father house at the age of fifteen. He moved in with his mother and step father in Fort Worth. His step father was a junior high teacher. That is when he began constructing his first short story called The Power. It was about an autopsy instructor from a nearby college that performed autopsy at the local hospital. Roberto was asked by one of his friend, looking to become a police officer, to attend the autopsy with his peers. The young students in the class were studying to be paramedics, doctors, police officer and special fields that required them to witness an autopsy. The autopsy was to introduce the young doctors to the human anatomy, the paramedics to the results of extreme trauma, and the police officer's to forensic skills. Hence, his best friend at the time was studying how to investigate a murder. Roberto did not know for sure his future. His best friend later joined the marines, and attempted to become a sniper. He only made reconnaissance. He had trouble calling in an air strike under pressure. He couldn't get the grid down and radio in the correct declinations. He ended up moving to Palm Beach Florida and was nearly arrested for striking an officer off duty. Supposedly, the pedestrian dressed officer didn't press charges and for all I know he is working for the DEA. Roberto had another friend in DEA, that never committed a crime. Hence, he had some friends on several on citizen patrol or coming out of the armed forces. Roberto never joined the armed forces. His father talked him out of it. His grandfather didn't like the idea as well. Roberto was thinking about joining the Air Force or possible the Marines. He even consider the Navel Seal unit. He was a big swimmer and into marine life. He ended up passing the services and got highly interested and addicted to the arts. His favorite art and craft was theatre arts. He joined the drama club in high school and began committing scripts to memorization. He was a huge fan of Sam Shepard, Arthur Miller and Bertolt Brecht. One day, in drama class, he bowed his head and made a life time commitment. "This is what I'll do with myself. I'll tell the story." He decided to go into storytelling for a living. He turned what he used to write on paper, now, implemented the words into his body and began to concentrate all his focus on the craft of acting. He became fascinated with the Actor Studio. Work by Dustin Hoffman, Robert Deniro, Marlon Brando and James Dean. He began renting movies and acting out Dean's personality and mimicking stars and their habits. Of coarse this not the way, but it was a strategy of finding a love for life. He decided he could not think of anything more exciting then theatre and film. He knew it would be along struggle and it would take resistance against the temptations of life. Many actors and writers, fell into drugs, sex and the dark side of life. Luckily, this happen to Roberto before he began implementing acting into his life. He made a vow after the age of seventeen that he never touch LSD, or hard drugs again. He stopped doing ecstasy, LSD and barely smoked pot. Once college ran around he hooked up with the toke pipe with a few chicks but was not heavily into. He smoke a joint maybe two or three times a year, at parties or with young college girls. One of his favorite girls, which carried a name from a famous band of the seventies, smoked marijuana like cigarettes. Rhiannon would smoke three or four times a day and on top of that a pack of Americn spirits. And there not light cigarettes, even though they make ultra lights now. It was driving him nuts. Roberto was not a heavy pot smoker and he was getting hooked on tobacco cause he was around her second hand smoke constantly. He took up jogging, and got back on stage and dropped her. To be honest, she hated his healthy doctor style lifestyle. Roberto was into health food, fruits and eating a nearly all vegetarian lifestyle. "Get the hell out of here." He was going nuts over her. He wanted to change her into a health nut like himself. Have her drop all the smoking and bad behavior. "Just don't inhale the shit." Roberto pleaded with her. She was far too addicted to her addict lifestyle.

It wasn't long until she got fed up. "Stop chewing. Stop chewing." He was up early. Man Power had called him in to do construction clean up. He was going to get into construction work and maybe make a baby with her. Settle down. Become a husband. "Stop chewing." She cried. Like all drug addicts she could not stand health. Roberto rain five miles a day. He was training for a five K. He was in the best shape of his life. He was going to make it. Go up to New York. Get into dance class and try out for Broadway plays. He was getting ready. He wanted to take her with him. "STOP CHEWING GODDAMIT." He was munching on his morning cereal. Nutty Nuggets. It was his favorite. Tasted just like Grape Nuts. He didn't have in milk but he had a small bottle of honey. He stirred the honey into the nuggets and chewed. She hated when he ate in the morning for work. All drug addicts had eaters. Eating is the opposite of doing drugs. You can't feel good all the time. He chewed and prepared for work. He had to eat before work in order to do a good job. It was his responsibility. "STOP FUCKING CRUNCHING." Why was she yelling at him for eating his Nutty Nuggets. Was he supposed to starve and work. He was already a hundred and forty nine pounds. He rain five miles a day. He did push ups, sit ups and read and played guitar and constructed poetry and ran, and did sit ups some more. He loved her. He was the next best to Tom Fucking Cruise. "STOP FUCKING CHEWING. SHUT UP." "What do you want me to do Rhiannon eat in the freakin bathroom." It wasn't long until he was out. They finally began fighting. Roberto loved to eat. She was a heavy smoker and was picky about when food could be taken. She threw all his shit out the living room and they got into a string of fights concerning food. Why was so many fucking people concerned with food in this state. It was only food. It's just a measly material. The more energy one can take in the more they can do. Fight, fight ,fight. For what. "For what honey." He yelled. Was it because I ate the honey. "Your eating my life blood." "What it was just a dip into the peanut butter. I had a couple of spoonfuls of peanut butter, Big Deal." "It's all I have." She needed to lose about ten pounds anyway. Roberto was underweight. It was bound to happen. Hell, she was ten years younger. "GET THE FUCK OUT." She pointed to the door. He knew he should of never dropped the dorm contract. That fucking bitch. She was making him homeless. And all over fucking food. She didn't need all that Goddamn peanut butter. Let her have it. Fucking states only concerned with food and money. What do they know about artist. Fucking whore. Let her smoke her pot and drop her acid and stuff her face with enchiladas on the weekend with her pot head friends. The relationship ended. It ended with Roberto taking a kitchen knife and sawing off her ponytail. "I HAVE HAD PEOPLE PULL KNIVES ON ME, PULL GUNS ON ME AND EVEN THREATEN TO KILL ME, but I have NEVER EVER, HAD ANYONE CUT MY DAMN HAIR OFF." Rhiannon had long curly, thick beautiful hair. IT was her virtue. Was. It was her power attribute to her looks. Was. Now it was. Pace had to get revenge before he left. He knew she lock him out good and throw away the key. Nothing lasts forever.

Roberto was a little obsessed over her and thought it would conclude things. The night before the break up, Roberto told her the biblical story of Samson and Delilah. He asked her, "Who are you lady. Samson or Delilah." She couldn't decide. Her hair was longer, she was the tom boy of the house, had a case of being a lesbian in her past and figured she could play the role of Samson. Roberto figured they were both. He was more Delilah but had Samson traits. Roberto had a few cases of being bi-sexual in the past and carried a feminine nature. Rhiannon was more Samson but had a strong foundation in Delilah characteristics, since she was female, into drugs, sex and African dance. Later, Roberto would join her in African dance and they meet in the center of a tribal circle, in performance, dramatically fight dancing, with stylized punching fist and so on. Roberto would eventual graduate and head west to experience life and filter out his immaturity and plant some wisdom deep down.

There were many boorish writers out there with their iniquitous ways and their rude confrontations with society. The writers that have had no value with previous rules, and made up life as they went along. Writers with first names like Jack, Oscar, and Herman. Writers that tore down structure and put up their own path. They took no no's for an answer. They simply lived by the concept of YES.

How can nothing not exist. According to linguistic matters nothing is something. Nothing does exist. Before the time was there nothing? Was their something before the first string was birthed before the first existing matter? Nothing is something. According to the oldest Oxford English dictionary nothing is a word. Hence, it was value. It is something. According to it's definition nothing is no thing, not anything. But anything is something, even though, in this definition it is coupled with not. What is the opposite of something? Is it nothing. And how can nothing exist if it can be fathom in the minds of man. Since nothing is calculated, as a word, concept, idea or lose theory, it is something. What existed before the big bang, or big bangs, or before the first implementation of the string of existence. Was it nothing? Or did nothing exist before nothing existed? The universe is constantly expanded. It is growing like at a inconstant rate. The universe is extracted space and grapping onto something, flinging itself outward and around in a indescribable direction. Is the universe splitting from left to right, or left and right, side to side, or up or down, or around and around. Know one, at this moment, knows the direction of the universe. Does it have direction? What about nothing. Does nothing have direction? What existed before the big bang? Nothing. And what existed before the first string from time. Was it nothing? And if you can imagine this nothing, existing do you picture a vacuum, an empty space awaiting to be filled. Can nothing be filled? If nothing existed before the big bang, what was it state. Was it in motion. With out motion. Was the beginning of time within stillness? Was there time in the beginning? Did time exist before the first instance of something? Or is time something simply created by Marx. Time cannot be fit into space. Was there time and space at the same instance? Did time and space spring forth originate from the same initial place in the universe. Time and space or not close brothers. Time is a concept to be measured, grasped thought upon and meditated. Space is not. Space exist with or without thought. Space is bias toward existence. Space will exist before and after man's arrival and departure into and out of existence. Space has nothing to do with nothing and everything to do with concept, idea, physicality, symbiotic existence. There is no space in time. Time is merely a measurement used to keep track of this existence. Once, man exits this misery, time will soon depart from the picture. Space will continue. As long as there is something space exist. As long as there is nothing, space exist. Space will never not exist.

They say the universe is expanded at the rate of unknown measurement. No one knows for sure it's growth and speed. It expands like a ball being thrown with out the tug of gravity, forever traveling upward with out dissensions or a downward pull. Forever traveling upward with out stress of a downward pull. I am simply trying to capture what was previously destroyed minutes ago. I just wrote this and it vanished before my eyes. Now I go back and review my ideas about time, space and nothingness. I know for sure that nothing is something. I don't believe in nothing. It does not exist in my head. I can fathom death, I understand non-existence, but I don't believe in nothing. Down to the smallest string of existence lies waiting motion. I believe motion existed before the stillness of nonexistence. I believe motion has always existed. Scientist are doing research on passing comets. They believe comets and their motions, hold an answer to the beginning of the universe and the initial moment of the big bang theory. Comets sublime and slowly burn away their gases to move along their paths. A comet may run on an ounce of nothing into the motion of everything. In the middle of their heavy bodies awaits an answer. A single note plucked by the tiniest string. It is an answer that I may can grace upon for a slight instance. Within this comet awaits a compaction of gases originating from the first moment of movement. Space began in movement. Space is a close relative to motion. Space can not exist without movement. Hence, the comet's motion may await an answer to the beginning of time. Everyone is concerned with their chemical makeup. They are concerned with star-dust and the excess gases burned away from the comets tail. But barely is any scientist concerned with the motion of a comet. It takes seventy years for Haley Comet to travel around our sun, far from our planetary motion, and revolution around our sun. Haley travels far from the milky way and out into the unknown and carries back her long tail and heads back to the sun. Then, it revolves around the sun again, and heads toward Pluto. This path, this expanded orbit takes seventy years to complete. There must be an answer with it coarse of movement. It must have an answer that travels back and reveals history from the first initial creation of movement. Every star, every comet, and planet, and or satellite carries an answer about the motion that existed before time.

Roberto decided upon a name for his antagonist. He would name him Mr. Nothing. Mr. Nothing wants to end Tom Burnett for inane reasons. Mr. Nothing's future has ended. He has become a fat failure locked up in small pad in New York. He hears about Roberto's book, The Criminal and wants to interview him. Mr. Nothing was once an English Major at NYU and attempted to hack away at many books. Roberto never had much of an education and literature but had a passion for theatre, film and writing. He loved screen plays, and plays and wanted to write a book to launch his career. He decided he write about a criminal bank robber named Tom Burnett. Mr. Nothing hated this idea. He read a few passages of his book and called him a Herman Hesse rip off, "A hollow mimicry of writers like Camu, Hesse and the modern works of Auster?" Mr. Nothing slammed his hand down on the table. "He is nothing. The man is a prison house hacker. He can't compose a book. The fuck wit." Mr. Nothing stormed out of his office, jumped on first class flight and headed toward Texas. "I'll publish him just to prove he is nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing." Roberto ended chapter two this way. Mr. Nothing was on a plane thirty thousand feet above the soil, biting his nails, sipping on a bloody marry and praying to his gods begging them to allow him to write once more. "Please dear Buddha. Please dear Zeus, or the devil, or million hindu gods, please let me write as great as Roberto Pace. Please dear God, let me be a writer again. Let me think like a boy." The plan was descended into the hot air of Texas. Soon, he get a rental car and head south to Huntsville. Jealously, he rage toward the prison cell, click down the hall, with microphone and tape recorder awaiting his first interview with one of the greatest writers sense Hesse."Pace. Pace you will be mine. I will have my interview." "Can I get you another Cocktail Mr. Null." "No." Time lingered for three or more seconds. "No thank you. This will be all." "No more." She insisted he have another drink. He shook his head, stuck his forehead to the plastic guard before the thick glass window and stared at the amoeba shape clouds scrape across the current of air. The ground was so perfect, so solid, so valid. "Nothing more. Thank you. This will be all." Mr. Nothing headed off to sleep with a the current Time magazine on his lap. It was entitled, "War in the Middle East."

He slouched from Bethlehem napping above thirty thousand feet, in a comfortable, leather chair recliner, wine awaiting him on the side entree table, above the oily traces of murder floating on salty waves below him.

The plan landed safely on the DFW runway. MR. Nothing had is laptop on his lap, and So many times Mr. Nothing had tried to write the perfect sentence. So many times he had tried to get it straight. It wasn't about higher philosophy or changing to world with words. The key to writing was putting your own soul on paper. If you could do that you could make millions. If your own words were on the paper you were changing the world. Only snow flakes honest to nature can make the change. Only individuality makes a difference nowadays. The atom had already been split, life beginning had already been investigation, the evolution of man and the research from Galapagos perfected, and man had already set a new path to Mars and build new Roberts for exploration. The world's secret corners were being dusted and the cobwebs wiped clean. Time was coming to it's brightest and truest moment. Now it was time for simplicity. The world's grassy hills were being ploughed over and recovered in thick concrete and tar. The world was changing into a large skyscraper. Going from round to rectangular. All Roberto could do about it was write it down. Some could go out there with their hands and make dents, slow it down, put some self control on the hot handle of technology. But it kept spinning faster. New Medicines, new weight loss methods, new drugs, new movies, alternative ways of looking at the world, new dance steps, new types of one liners used in funky bars West to East cost, new actors telling the stories, new writers writing it all down. New types of software that was figuring out the brain, and the intentions of man. New types of education that included every type of ethnic background, language known to man. All of it was welcomed. All of it participating to the change. Roberto laid in his cell, breathing his fuse, and puffing on a cig and writing it all down for the sake of someone. Someone to get his SOS. In inside his mind, in the deepest closet and chambers in his brain, he felt neglect, he heard, "No you're a failure. Your too slow. Your too dumb. Give up." And Roberto continued to write it down. He continued moving his hand across the paper. He had no choice. They had taken away his freedom, they had taken away his love, his home, his grassy front yard and dog, and future at as a creative writing teacher at the local junior college. They had taken it all away and now the only enemy hid inside his head. A little voice with the power of a great army, begging him, pleaded with him, asking him rudely or kindly to, "End it all. Blow your fucking head off. Its over, loser. You're a dumb ass failure." And he wrote onward flipping his pen head across the white placement: a new poem, a doodle, a new way to fill the sections of his heart dug out.

A new sound had arrived on cell block 3a. It was the voice of a Martin Guitar. All six strings being beat on into the night. It bothered Roberto at times. He would hollar, "Keep it down," and the guitar player would continue with his sad heart; hurtful strumming and neglected heart. Jackson had sprung some fudge brownies from the kitchen when he was on KP way back. He had collected two small grocery bags full of cold, crunchy brownies. He gave Roberto a bag as a Halloween gift. "Here ya go sir. Enjoy them. I was going to polish of a second bag but I figured two sins ain't gonna be any better than one. "Pick. PICK. Don't strum all the time. That's what

babies do. Try picking for a change. I wouldn't hear it if you picked the damn thing." Whoever it was on the guitar kept strumming away. It had like a base sound to it. It must have been a guitar with good resonance. It was deep in the night. Roberto couldn't continue chapter three. He figured he wrap it up and put the book away, maybe even for a few months. To top it off on the south end of the cell a prisoner was granted a personal TV. Most of the television watching was allowed in a game area, where they kept the a few reading tables and a snack area. A small caged television was encased in the corner of the mead hall looking game area. No one was allowed a private television but Sam down the hall. Supposedly, he was taking a correspondence coarse in radio, tv and film and needed it for class. The film class was on the internet.

That night October had begun. Halloween was on its way. Jackson was getting into photography and had his lover order him a few photo books from Dallas. He was really getting into it.

Roberto was going to ask for a head set or some kind of stereo to block the horrible constant strumming of the annoying guitar head down the hall.

Roberto finished off his tenth brownie and put them away for awhile. Many of them weren't cooked right and the centers were too chewy, overly sweet and doughy. He decided to make Mr. Nothing a more important character in the story of the Criminal. See, someone had to instigate Roberto's behavior. Every criminal needs a dance partner and it takes two to tango. He needed a reason for his crimes. He needed fire, a single spark for his fiery desires that took him under. He needed cause for his hubris. Mr. Nothing would offer him something. Something great. He would put his trust in his hands, and then Nothing would pull away and leave him hanging, forced to starve or turn to crime to recuperate, which is nearly impossible.

Two years back.

"A book huh. What makes you think a two bit player can write a book." Robert was impressed with Mr. Nothings office. It was set up in tall red brick in Soho. Not far from Blecker street were all the artist and punks, post modern hippies and non conformist hung out, or lived. Rumor had it Robert Deniro lived down the street at 150 Bleeker. I don't' know if it's true. "So, you want me to write a book." "No. What makes you think you can." "Cause I write." "Who taught you to write." "My grandmother." "She taught you. So what do you want to write about." "I don't' know yet. My life. Experience. What I see, smell, touch, feel, taste and sense. I want to write about me." "What makes you think people want to read about you." "Why not. I'm human. Human art is what makes it great. All I have to do is be honest." "Honesty will pay your bills. Its rough up north. Schools gonna be out soon. Your studying .. ." Mr. Nothing set back in his big black chair with the springy bottom. It squeaked as he sat back and relaxed folding his palms behind his head. "Acting." "That is a performance art. That is like studying dance, or painting. That has nothing to do with the written word." "Exactly. But what does it have to do with?" "Good point." Mr. Nothing said. "Very good point." "Life is the best subject to know, understand. Theatre has given me a chance to get out of my shell. Find her. Explore the world." "You gonna go back to acting." "Why not. I hear that Ethan Hawk is writing books. And many actors have written and returned to the stage after locking themselves up for a year or so, finishing up their novels. Why not?" "So what do you want to do?" "Write." "But you've studied acting." "So. So did Camus. He opened a small theatre company once." "You can't do both." "Why not." A silence entered the room. Mr. Nothing slammed his hand down on the table with a Godly strength. "Because writing is academic. It is intellectual. Acting is not." "But what a greater reason to do it. So what if it's academic. I personally don't think it is. You may perceive it as intellectual, but writing requires more than mere thought." "Writing is thought. It is how we learn to think." "Bullshit. Look. Its life, pure and simple. A form of life. It is life in words and nothing else. Its not real. Life is real. Life is more precious than words. Look, I have to go now. I'll think of some short story whip to up in about a month or so. I'll send it to your office. How about that?" He thought it was odd he said 'whip to up' and not 'whip it up.' The man lowered his thick eyebrow and focused in on the conversation in progress. "I'll take a look at it then Mr. Roberto Pace." That was Roberto's first offer for publication of one of his short stories. Mr. Nothing would act as his editor and possible support. He would put him on a small salary and send him to a writer workshop at NYU. He would then send his materials to him and he would look it over for possible publication in a San Francisco magazine that he was connected to. The magazine was originally originated in San Francisco but now had an office in Soho.

The enemy of the writer is uncertainness. Spelling, grammar, common placement and all the bullshit can be altered by the publisher. Conversely, to the matter, uncertainness can not be altered. It sticks out like a soar thumb. No one can cover it up.

The library housed many great masterpieces. It was good place of resource for The Criminal. He had not got a chance to fully and carefully finish. The Epic of Gilgamesh. He got to Part three and Ishtar and Gigamesh and the death of Endkidu. Then, he returned it promptly on time. The library, as small at is was, only holding a few hundred books, usually by well to do writers and writer with great fame, did enforce the rule of the fine. The librarian, an ex heroin dealer and addict, kept up with all his books. He added to the collection back in late eighties. He was busted with three pounds of black tar and a dead girlfriend. She overdosed and he stabbed in the process. He was in for manslaughter, and the intent to murder his lover. His name was Sandars but every one called him Sandy. "So, Sandy what knew books you got in." Roberto was impatient about new arrivals. He wanted to get his hands on any new writers that are on the market. Roberto was especially concerned with books that had recently won the Pulitzer. Books like Hours, Angela's Ashes, Mystic River and books about September Eleventh. "What you got?" Roberto stood up straight and tall like a long piece of ply wood and eyed Sanders. "You mean anything on the best seller's list." "Yeah." "I got nothing new this week. Animal Farm was returned." "I don't want another Orwell. Something that isn't assigned in the classroom. Something dirty. Real. Raw." "Have you read Eva's Man by Jones." "Nope. Is it good." "Bout a black chick that was molested. I haven't finished chapter three. Got a raw ass scene with a pop-sickle stick." "Oh, no. What about something political." "What about Hesse. You like Hesse. You read Stepen Wolf." "Why not." Roberto checked out a copy of Steppen Wolf by Herman Hesse." "See her back in two weeks." It was funny that Sanders referred to his book collection a feminine object. He called his books his ladies, or his lovers, or his loves. "Bring er back nice and neat." Sanders waved at him scratching the crease between his bicep and forearm muscle. You know that average spot heroin addicts release their juice of heaven through the end of their needle. It was a few hours before laundry duty. Morning was still in the air. The warden had granted this time for writing and fixing up his misspelled words. He noticed he had misspelled reconnaisence but had spelled rapacious and audacious correctly. He reworked a few scenes and then decided he didn't like how chapter three ended. "Say. Why do you rewrite the shit for." Jackson was at his cell. He was fully smoking a cigarette, write there in the cell block. The guard was lazing off somewhere in some corner, most likely snacking before late breakfast, or early lunch. "Why you rewrite." "What you doing here Jackson." "I figured I take some time off of Laundry duty. Come and watch you with your free ass time. Whitey gets his way huh." "The warden thought it do me some good. Better than folding sheets all day." "Why make all them notes. What for. Why not just hope on that old underwood and type it for the first round. Do it on the first try. And just leave it behind ya. Have you ever heard of that ol folk singer law." "What is the old folk singer law, Jackson." Roberto had rolled a fresh piece of Pacific into the typewriter. "Never look back." "Never look back huh. What's that mean." Roberto said looking back over his shoulder. "It means not to look back. Write what you mean to say and go forward. Nothing gonna make it better going back. What you looking for the impossible doing that shit." "The impossible. What do you mean?" "What you trying to perfect your novel. People don't dig that. They need the flaws in there. See, your mess up might what make it great. Make it real. Human." "Why do people want to read my mess ups." "Cause. You can't mess up. So what you think is a mess up is good to them. Most likely what you think is bad, is great. And what you think is great, is bad. Its always like that in the Arts." "I see writing as a craft." "Art, craft, my ass, whatever the hell you wanna call it call it. It don't matter fool. Just write it down and move on. Kiss the lady and fuck her and roll off and smile and go to bed. That's life. You fuck, you smile, you snore. I mean don't get me wrong. You try to lay with her, hold her, but you got to have the Mr. Sand man. You dig what I'm saying." "Dig. I guess I dig what your saying." Roberto stressed dig. He was sort of making fun of the worn term. "Listen. This is my time to write. Okay. I need to be alone." "Okay. Fine. That's cool. Just do what you got to do. Look, I'm going back to laundry duty. Guess what. Warden gonna give me a tv. Personalized television. Small one, but nevertheless, mine. Says I'm getting out here in two years. Good behavior. Better than five huh. Just lost three years for being good. On time every morning to laundry duty. No fights and hadn't been caught smoking in non-smoking regions like this one in the hall." "Need to write Jackson." "Okay baby. Got to go. So long." Jackson vanished. So he was getting out sooner than he thought. We all were told that. I had been passed up on parole three times now. I got offered parole annually. You sit before the small committee and they ask you, "What makes you think you deserve to be released?" And you answer. "I feel like a changed man. Like I can see the right way." Your smirk arrives and you find yourself stamped and shipped to the assigned cell.

I began looking up words in the dictionary. It became entertainment and a way of sharpening my nails for the key board. The pages would brush and flip past my fingertips with a breezy message. Hundred and thousand of words. Each word a history, a place, even a world to be explored. I decided to analyze one word a day and brush up on three or four new words. The analyzed word would be the main focus for the day. I'd wake up, head to the shitter, toss a turd and crack open the fourth addition to the American Heritage. It was Thursday, early. Dew was still hanging on the cell ceiling, tiny diamond sparkling mountains, stingy and asking me, "Why are you here lonely man. Why don't you go outside and play." I returned no useful answer to the tiny mountains of dew that hung above me. I could not thank of an reason for being in here. Not one that made any sense. I did all this for a pretend ride. I put a gun up to the clerks face for a imagined dream that could never, ever become true. I played out this impossible role, for no one. Not even for Shel. No one could understand my stupidity. My ignorance. My waste. As the Germans mich ode. Abfall. Verschwenden. I wanted to be this great actor, this great artist, and weakness sucked me down. I fell into temptation. I placed the thirty eight caliber to the freckled, thinly face and pulled the hammer back. "Give me the money." I felt that would be sum up all my problem. I'd use the two hundred or three hundred and cold cash to hope some ride west. Perhaps a bus ticket, perhaps gas money. Maybe I'd lift a car as I was at it. Then, I'd arrive to Hollywood. The great Oz would tell me what to do. I'd be discovered and all my problems would cease to exist. It was an impossible mission. I was had. I was fooled. The lies on the silver screen sucked me in. I failed. I miserably failed. Now I am a failure. A loser. And for some odd reason there is a smile on my face. A smile from ear to ear.

I guess in this pain arrives redemption. Now, I have be prevented. I feels good to be locked up. It is a release. To have this anchor of freedom taken from my tense shoulders. Now, I'm told what to do next. Now, I'm told when to wake up, what to do. Now, I am able to work. I can fold clothes, talk to people. I'm not shut up in my pade in Uless, alone with my dieing plant. Now, I have another type of freedom, imprisonment. Imprisonment has shown me a sense of freedom. It doesn't feel good all the time. In fact it hurts the soul. But at least I have direction. Even though it is forced.

In the Buddhist concept all is not lost. It is never too far to turn back, because the end is welcomed, accepted and natural. It is like an extinguished candle. There is no need to take too much or too little. There is only need to take what is needed and what will satisfy and sooth the hunger. There is no need for hunger in the Buddhist belief. Why did Buddha come in the first place. Why does the baby cry? Buddha came to enlightened mankind and to help ease the pain. He came to welcome man into a comfortable and happy world of water, food, shelter, love, praise, right mind, right body, right speech, right meditation and play. Happiness was his goal and every man has the right to pursue success and happiness. Every man has the right to be loved. There is never a wrong path, but the path not chosen. A mistake is made and the person moves on. It is done and the next step is faced. "It is when your practice is rather greedy that you become discouraged with it. So you should be grateful that you have a signal to show you the weak point in your practice." (Suzuki 2001)

All he was doing was sitting around listening to sad songs from the UK, studying German vocabulary, breaking down story structures, analyzing the world through his rickety blinds and feeding his plant named Starlet.

Roberto was back in Uless. The red flag waving his name. It was kind of twisted home again. Under the airplanes, the muck, half way wasted place. Weeds. Yellow flowers. Spots of beauty hear and there. I guess it wasn't all wasted. He was at the health food store. He was stocking up on groceries with mom. His car was suffering from engine problems. It was sick beyond repair. He was stuck on his feet. All he had was a old mountain bike to get to work at Subway. He purchased some bananas, apples, a few dates, and a few cans of Tonga tuna. He stocked up on some dried fruit, water and few bags of bean. Every once and while he wake up and there be no food. Nothing but beans to steam up in the old vintage style steamer. He was running out of food too often. He'd run out of money as well. When he got down to a few bucks he begin to grow greedy with his choices of food. It was that or starved. With three dollars he didn't have many choices. He had to be selective, precise and caution with his money. No time to get Verschweden. He could either purchase three or four apples or cookie dough. You decide. He despised peanut-butter for some inane reason. It was getting old. Same routine. Sit around, read, study, work on his German, write on his old Lab Top, stare at photos of Shelly Thorns, dream of flying off. Running down to the airport and hoping on some plane leading to somewhere far off. Forget all this bull. But something held him back. It was a magnet. He couldn't tell if it was a girl. A dream back in Texas he hadn't uncovered yet. A person he had to rid. He couldn't not tell why he stayed but he did.

The dream of heaven was causing his hell.

Roberto did not believe reality was stranger than fiction. He was a devote believer in filtering his own life into his fiction. The Criminal was not much different that his reality experienced in the cell. It was nearly the same. The only difference was the names, the location and well, the entire thing. Roberto went by Tom Burnet in the story. It was based upon a park he used to visit as a young child. Seven Hundred W. Burnett Street. He figured it would make a great last name. Roberto would skate and play with his friends into the heat of the hot Texas Summer. Burnet reminded him of his freedom as a child. Its funny he'd name a locked up criminal after a park that reminded him of freedom.

All the voices, every one he knew, everything that was associated with the prison cell, his future as a writer, the bunk bed, the cob webs in the corner, the sound of some prisoner beaten on a plastic tub down the hall near the mess room, the weights clanking on the steel bars, all of it, every ounce, breath, wink of the eye, the flaw and temptation of Dionysus's intention to fail man, and the dreams of Hubris, and Burnett seven hundred st. All off it. Every moment of his past was amounting, awaiting structure, syntax, proper word usage, improper creative license, the use of freedom on the page, all of it was awaiting his next move, plan, his next attempt to speak the truth on paper, every last moment, was telling him it was over. He was done in. But he couldn't just give up. He was damned if he wrote the novel and damned if he laid on his back and listen to Oprah echo down the hall from Cell Block B, where the pimp set up his TV set.

At times, he wished he was in the A hall. That is where all the white collars powered up their laptops and hooked up on the internet. It was the only escape from this prison hell, besides dreaming, and over sleeping on weekends. Prison made you hard. At times it made you bad. It was supposed to make you bad. It was designed to force the bad nature of life on your. The seven deadly sins was always an option. Sloth, greed, hatred, anger and jealously, envy was at hand around every corner. The life inside was so bad that it turned you good.

Jackson finally received a shot to get into education. He was going to take an education coarse on a web site in order to land his GED. I was going to tutor him when I had free time. Thirty minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays before breakfast and lunch. Sometimes we would only review his work before Thursday's lunch. Usually we worked on his readings and evaluation of the assigned stories in English before lunch hall once a week.

"Why did she call it the Lottery." Roberto bowed his head for a few seconds. "That's not for me to tell you sir." Jackson passed the book over to him and sat it on his lap. "Look I read it five times and I don't get it. I don't know what the author is trying to say." "You have to employ synthesis to figure that one out." "What is synthesis." "Detective work. Read the damn story and find clues. The author will leave symbols in her work to hint at what she is trying to say." "So is this story realism, fantasy, absurd'ism. Where is the truth in it. I don't buy that a whole town would stone the protagonist like that." Jackson and Roberto had been working for a solid month on his English coarse work. Roberto didn't help him with math, or the sciences and at times didn't even touch the other subjects. He didn't have problems in math and he went to the A hall to get help with the science work. Some of the blue collars would tutor him for light cigarettes. Light cigarettes were hard to find in the inside. "Shirley Jackson was one messed up dude." "She wasn't a dude." Roberto informed him. "Just read it again. Okay. Look here is my personal assignment to you." "Shit man. There's enough of em giving to me on the internet." "Do you stil got that old tv in your cell." "Yep. Warden said I could. . ." "Don't watch it. Throw it all away. Get that noise out of your life." "You want me to toss my tube. You gotta be a sicko." Do it. Just dump it. Stay focused on the readings and the assignments. This isn't going to be easy Jackson. You want you GED your going have to do the time." "I'm doing time." "Correct. But your going to have to do the effort and time. It takes time my friend. Look re-read the Lottery and then bring it back to me." "I read the mofoe five times." "Well read it a six time. It's a short story is it not?" "I guess. Okay Mr. Pace. I'll read it." "You don't have to call me Mr. Pace." Jackson wiped off his little schoolboy face with his a swipe of his hand. He usually pretended as if he was in a real class when we tutored. At times he'd even raise his hand. "Don't raise your hand Jackson. Your sitting right next to me." They were in smoke room. That is where class was held. It was a room usually designed for lounging and watching television, only the Warden had taken the TV out so Roberto could tutor Jackson. "No one hangs around here when the tv's gone." "That's because the only thing prisoners around here want to do is watch TV and smoke and gamble with dominoes." "So." "Look my friend your getting educated you understand. Go back re-read it and then make notes. And don't write in the book. Write on a separate page and in essay form. Here is the assignment. List five symbols in the Shirley Jackson short story that represent the voice of the author." "What is the voice of the author?" "That is for you to determine?" "How would I determine that if I never heard her speak?" "Its not the inflection or the tone of voice. I am bringing forth the mouthpiece of the author in my assignment." "The author wore a mouthpiece?" "No. Look. A person writes because they are trying to say something about life. If you don't have anything to say why write?" "What is it she was trying to say?" "That is the purpose of the exercise. Here lets look at the first paragraph." Roberto's index finger scratched the pages back to first paragraph." "Okay listen to me when I read. 'The morning of June Twenty seventh was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full summer day." Roberto stopped reading and looked up. His eyebrows shook a beckoning for Jackson to Respond. "Did you ever notice her last name is my first name." "Shit man. What is the author doing in the beginning of the story." "Well. She is describing the day." "In what way?" "Well, kind of like a newspaper would." "Very good. Why would she be that descriptive." "To make it sound real." "She wanted the reader to what?" "Believe in the story." "She wanted the reader to feel as if she was reading about what?" "About. Hm. Good question." "I know. I went to College. I had to do this shit every night for seven years." "You went to college for Seven years." "Yes. And I plan to go longer. No listen." "Longer. You want to go to school longer. Why?" "There is an limitless amount of knowledge out there. I am obsessed with knowledge." "What do you want to be." "I don't' know really. I use to want to be an actor. But I found the life was non-academic. AT times I wanted to be a doctor. Now it seems I'm a tutor." "What about that book you were writing." Roberto had not written a word in the passed few weeks. "It comes and goes. Sometimes I am motivated to write it all down. Sometimes I just want to tutor you or fold clothes." "Lets get back to the story." Jackson head tilted down and his neck shot forward extended into the pages on his lap. "The goat is a symbol for something right?" "Absolutely. Here I let you in on a secret. A long time ago during the days of Greek theatre. The days when Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides wrote they prize was sometimes a goat." "A goat?" "That is what you won if you were a great storyteller." "They gave you a goat? Why?" "Well, back then milk was scarce. Goats produced a fatty sweet milk. And they were good pets. Plus, if you got too hungry . . ." "Okay lets stick to the story. I don't wanna be talking about killin' pets. Lets stick to Shirley." "Okay. So write a paragraph about the goat. Why is it a symbol? Then, write about four more symbols. Put it all down in essay form and then you'll read it to me the next time you visit on Tuesday. Remember I will check for grammatical errors and syntax." "What do syntax mean again." Jackson said. "What does syntax mean, sir?" "That's what I asked." "And that is how I answered, Jackson." "Okay. Thanks." Jackson fashionably limped off with the thick English book at his hip. He sawed his hands through the air as if he wanted to say something out loud, but then halted and fell silent. He was relieving positive vibes from the lesson. He gave a high five to an invisible peer standing next to him. He was actually communicating with someone who was not present or near him. Jackson was stoked about learning. I am always the type of man that feels you can not teach an old dog tricks. Jackson was turning thirty years old and was learning new behaviors, new ways of expression and was becoming educated. A middle age man had the glint of a school child in his eyes once again. The child had returned to him. He had gone from a rapist to a little boy again. Nothing in my right mind would convince the smallest corner of me that he could fall into the trap of crime again. He was changing himself for the better. He was growing in intellect. I had been converted.

Jackson was a tall man. Large chine, wide eyes, angel curved lips and a face that came to a point. He was quiet handsome. Round, muscular arms, strong legs, and a stout frame. He rocked his head back when he took steps, sort of like a triumphant stallion. He was a man's man. True to the grit of life. He once worked in a factory that pumped out contact lenses. He was put on the factory line until he got hooked on opiates and pain killers. Later, he moved to more sinful drugs and was known to losing his minds in small hotels East Side of Fort Worth. He had wide, threatening and glaring pupils that seemed to dilate in an unbeknownst rhythm. He was taller than most in on the cell block. Perhaps he was around six feet and seven inches, perhaps eight, but not an inch over six eight. He was the size of a basket ball player and had the same moves. Rumor had it he was the best slum dunker in the prison system. Jackson was the best at every sport. He shined the most in basketball. He was a damn good. He had powerful muscles in the forearm and shoulders, which gave him a deadly accurate aim. Jackson excelled in free throws, three foot launchers and lay ups. He was a hell of a defense player as well. No one could touch him, not in the yard. Perhaps the judges, the lawyers and all the rules and regulations could pin him up, but no one could touch him on the court. Everyone had a skill that no one else could touch. Everyone had a game that no one could beat them at. Jackson game was basket ball. The yard champion ship at one on one was approaching next week. Jackson turned it down due to the homework on the net. He had to prepare for a new game.

"For some freakin reason the line ain't connecting to the web site." He needed be so worried it was merely a correspondence course designed for prisoners to get their GED. Jackson acted as if it was the Armageddon. "This class has robbed my TV set, my friends and my chance at ball. I gave up everything for this motherfucker and now the net ain't connected through. Something is directly fucked with the pipe line to the university." "It isn't a university Jackson. It's a web site." "Web sits kind a like a university. An electronic university made up of binary codes." "No time to get poetic. I write the Warden letter and see if we can get you hooked back in by Monday." "Better be by Monday. I gots a test comin up wednessdee."

"I breaking out a sheet of paper as we speak." Roberto leaned back and took in a large breath. Jackson vanished down the hall scrapping his feet. "If it ain't hooked up by Wednessday and I don't get a chance to turn in my hard work through the e-mail, then, I am going to sign up for the championship and screw this GED shit." "JACKSON. Do you realize what this means." A thick moment came between them. You could cut the tension in the air, if you had a sharp enough blade. Hell the tension was so rock-solid one would need a steel circular saw to cut through. " When was your last shot at the NBA?" "What do you mean?" "How old are you Jackson?" "Thirty." "How many NBA basket ball players are thirty." "Are you hinting that I want to be on the NBA." "Why else would you play ball." "Cause I love to play ball." "Okay lets weigh the two options. Your telling me you can play ball until your old and gray." "I guess." "Jackson a GED might land you a real job. It might even give you a chance at College in the near future." "Man I ain't getting out of her until I thirty four. I'll be up in her for another three years or so. Who is going to graduate a mid life crisis. Plus, I most likely be going until I am forty. By the time I am out of college I'll be too old to work." "Maybe. But at least you'll have a GED under your belt before you leave this god forsaken place." "What do you mean by that?" ""Well at least you'll be a graduate of some type of school, by the time you leave this shit hole." "This prison or this world." "Both. Don't sign up. We'll get ya hooked back to the web site. Give it time. Patience is a virtue my friend."

October. Approaching Halloween. Two years before the fatal robbery.

Roberto was home. Starving. He hadn't been on a normal meal plan for over three months. He just ate what he could burrow, steal or find. Sometimes he went dumpster dining, or landed a short term job at a café in Dallas. He go back in the kitchen, sneak like a stealthy vampire, and hog out on a plate of fries. He had worked for Chinese, Italian, French and Americana. His favorite was Americana, usually those types of restaurants had better deserts and mixed up the nationalities, and cultured food. It was more multicultural at an Americana café. Chinese joints, usually only allowed the waiters to eat rice plates, or the soups. Italians would feed you, hell overfeed you until you were overly stuffed and farting like a mad man. Pasta got tiring and tiramisus made ya bounce of the wall like a jammed caffeine poet before a midnight reading. Plus, the cheesy dishes, nevertheless, the cheese cake filled out your face and gut like a healthy Renaissance king. Italians didn't like their workers to go hungry. Americana was fun. The food usually was mixed culturally and every single Americana joint held surprises. The breakfasts menu wore chopped full of egg benedict, glorified omelets, stacked pancakes with every maple syrup known to mankind, topped with strawberries and whip cream. Coffee, tea, toast and even ham dishes coupled with sausage links, sweat rolls with special sugar topping and caramelized onions. The menu at Americana breakfasts were amazing. Roberto mostly lived on Yogurt. It was cheap and pact full of protein. The yogurt he chose was cultured in the cup, slowly, with more active cultures, to enhance his nutritional needs. Usually he chose fat free yogurts, with protein ranging from twelve grams to fourteen. It was high in calcium and had a fair percentage of carbs, vitamin C and Iron. It was an easy selection for the poor. Lunch meat on sale and yorgurt. Calcium and meat. Roberto consider himself a vegetarian but the dishes in Useless Texas were over priced and hard to find. How long can a vegetarian around here live on protein bars and Smart Dogs (soy hot dogs with the consistency of sausage.) So yogurt it was. Grade A pasteurized nonfat milk, with active tehrmophilus, L. Bulgarcicu, L. Acidophilu, B. Bifidum,. L. Rhamnosus, L.Casel, B. Longum, B. Infantis, fruit juice concentrate, pectin, natural flavors of strawberry, cheese cake or blue berry. Depending on his taste for the day.

Roberto had applied for social security. He claimed he had a personal and behavior disorder and was suffering from Aggression, depression and an identity crisis. An identity crisis was near impossible to cure. Also, he told the lady at the social security that he was suffering from a mild case of Obsessive Compulsion disorder or OCD. He was very specific about where he put his soap. "I sometimes have to hang my towels a certain way, and I wash my hands a certain way and turn on the light a certain way and fall into patterns and ritual." "We all do that." The lady at the desk said. He was at the social security office in Irving. Her name was Miss Fincher. "You have problems with OCD. That is an anxiety disorder. It can be treated with medications." She began to diagnose him in the little fifteen minute session they spent together. In the first session she had him name the presidents from George Bush Jr. to JFK. He got the descending order create but forgot about, "Gerald Ford. He came after Nixon." "Oh. Right. Lets see. Now we have George Bush Jr. Before Bush was Clinton. Before Bill was George Bush Senior. Before Bush was Ronald Regan. Okay now where in the eighties. Before Ronald was Jimmy Carter. Before the peanut farmer was Gerald Ford and then Nixon and then Johnson and then JFK, until nineteen sixty three and then he was picked off by an assumed assailant." "Very good. Your very, very intelligent. Now count backwards by five from one hundred."

Roberto decided to rob unclaimed luggage at the baggage claim. He just simply walk up, find a bag unclaimed and walk it home. He'd become a theft. Fuck What-a-burger, fuck working for Burger King, or Subway, or seven eleven. Fuck the cell phone factory, fuck the cafes in Dallas and there skanky, uneducated managers. Perhaps he'd give a few high class joints a try in Fort Worth, if the tips were high enough, but for now, at this moment his belly was running dry. He'd apply at this new place opening in Fort Worth called Zoes. It was some eccentric restaurant that had a flare of New York and carried a charming and new age interior. For now he was going hungry. Now he'd leave his small pad for a long walk to DFW to look for real money and a real way to get out. Sure enough he land across a credit card in one of those bags.

It was about now. He was hungry. He was lonely now.

Now it was time to claim what belonged to him. Life. Life, now.

It was two years back. Uless. Roberto was taking an online course in education. He decided to pursue teaching. "But Mom. I could teach drama. Why not? It holds more opportunity than acting does. Plus, I've been auditioning like crazy. The theatre Theatre Three in town won't have me" "So do you want to teach or act." "Do you think I could do both." Mom's voice sounded shaky. She wasn't for sure if Roberto could pull it off. "It might work. Give it a try. I'll help with your rent payments through October." "The course won't end until before Christmas. Then, I have two more classes to take and I can get certified. They may hire me. It could work." Mom's voice sounded shaky. Ann Reed was born and raised near Haltom city. All her life she had put up with people singling her out. She was the type of young girl that sat alone at the Pepper Allies and didn't have many friends. Later, in her life she was diagnosed with B-personality and did spend some time at the mental ward at All Saints. She had divorced Will Pace back in the early seventies and remarried when Roberto turned nine. She found a floating teacher coming out of a rusty marriage with a hot head red head named Sherry Redwood. She was from California. The marriage between Couch Reed and Sherry didn't last long. "Earlchk is my mother there." Roberto had called home again. October rent was due and mom didn't have the money. Roberto had called his Grandmother but the grandfather had passed due to a series of strokes and this allowed her to live on social security and the remaining saved money for retirement. They were one of the million couples that never fully spent their retirement savings. The grandmother was raised in the great depression, so she had a nack for self control and saving money. She was the type of old lady that saved all the food in Tupperware and it was law that the kids finish every bite at the dinner table. Thanksgiving was like a gorging feast on amplified. The turkey was so overly huge it must have been put on steroids and special fattening feed. It was one of those fifteen pound turkey get ups. The dinner rolls were limit less and there was endless amount of pies, cakes, and sweets. The family over did it. I remember as a kid I could barely sit in my seat I was so full. Breathing was a concentrated exercise. I never left feeling so plump and healthy. Afterwards the kids would play in the front yard. One game they love to play with Roberto was robot. They hide in the bushes or behind a tree and flash a light on Roberto's face while he moved mechanically like some paid mime for passing cars. Thanksgiving was a god send for a special kid like Roberto. Roberto, just like his mother, had problems at school. He was beat up, called names and even neglected by teacher and faculty. One time this cowboy hick in the seventh grade laid an endless amount of punches on his right eye. His name was Jim Stevenson. He was one of the quickest sprinters and fullbacks on the field. The girls were crazy about him. Unfortunately, Roberto girl was under his spell. Roberto tried to undue the love between them but lost the fight. He never cried uncle and never gave in to the fighter. He just took more slugs in the face. His right eye was so damn swollen he could barely see out of it. Will Pace was extremely anger when he returned home. "What happen to your eye, son." "Nothing." "Its so swollen you can barely open it." Will put him through a week long training course with lifting weights, boxing his hands, shadow boxing, and strengthening his grip muscles. He called it grip lifting. Grip lifting was composed of simple rotating movements of the wrist. "Here is what you do. You tie this cord to the weight like so." Will had brought in a twenty pound weight and fed a thin cord around the center hole were the bar secured. He wrapped the cord around a stick. Then, he took turns twisted the bar in each hand.

"This will strengthening your grip for fighting. The grip is very important. It is needed for a fight. One may come at you like this." Will duct his head downward and showed Roberto a grappling move. "Then you pull them to ya like this." Will grabbed him and yanked him toward his chest." Not so hard dad." Roberto was getting a little scared in his boots. "So you think curls and these grip exercises will help me win the next fight." "You bet."

The fight was caused by a meaner student who suffered from Hemophiliac named Red Tomilison. He had series problem with his temper. He was known to explode in a half of a heartbeat. "Some day someone is going to kill that boy." My father said. He was talking about Red. Red was not allowed to fight or play ball. He did anyway. He wasn't going to let rules get him down. Red ended up on first string and played wide receiver. An ambulance had to be parked by the shower room during games.

Roberto was on his way home from Uless. Finally he had left Useless Texas. There was nothing but an airport, fast food joints, seven eleven, a little baseball field and a cheap half assed gym. Some parts were beautiful but the fast food restaurants became an eyesore. Roberto didn't mind moving. He did mind the behavior of his step father. He was super aggressive. Ealrchk once played ball for TCU and had dreams of going into the NFL. There was picture of him holding up a ten pound base and his biceps were rounded and more healthy than Conan the Barbarian.

The step father was hot headed but extremely literate. He was a huge fan of Faulkner and even a member of The Faulkner fan club. Also, he had applied to be in the Thomas Wolfe Society and spent several years doing research and trailing the great writers footsteps across the states. His first name was Earl. Earl Reed. Roberto was creative with his tongue so he nick named Earl, Earlchk. He spent a few months sticking the CHK sound on the end of words when he was in his teens. It was one of his savored acting exercises. He used to be very specific and dedicated at hitting his consonance. The CHK sound was placed at the end of words or used in dialogue to help strengthen his tongue muscles. "My dream is to act on stage on Broadway." Roberto announce to Ann and Earl at the dinner table. They were pretty quite about his dream. After all he was suffering from abuse from his father and " and he was a little different from most of the other children." His first grade teacher stated to Ann. "How is he different." "Well he thinks differently. He isn't slower but he has a unique way of doing things." "Can you give me an example." Ann retorted like lawyer in a high stakes law suit. After all, it was her child she was calling different. No parent wanted their child to be set apart from the other groups. "Well the other kids pick on him. He has many eccentricities that come up in the classroom." "What do you mean? Give an example." "Well the other day he fell off the school monkey bars." "That happens. That's okay right. He can fall off the monkey bars. He didn't do it on purpose." A long pause entered between the two. The teacher continued with, "Well he reacted in a interesting way." The mother returned, "I remembered that. He had a scratch under his nose." "Yes. He bled for quite awhile. The only problem was he didn't cry." "He is in first grade. He is more mature than kindergarten. First graders don't cry as much do they." She stated firmly. "He hit the ground severely hard." The silence sneaked back into the conversation. It just hung there like still weather. Not a grunt, or breath arrived. It was as if a verdict was about to be called forth from the jury. "But he never shows emotion. He is kind of robotic, stiff. He rarely smiles and never reveals any type of response. Sometimes he doesn't seem present in the classroom. You may have him tested." "For what?" "An S-E-S." "What is S-E-S?" "There may be an emotional problem with the child." "What do I do?" Ann was nearly in tears. "I would have him see a doctor."

Roberto was waiting for mom to show. He had not packed any boxes yet. He was tired of moving and getting kicked out of apartment complexes and dorms. He decided to write a poem about the manner of his travel:

Document three. New York outside the door.

A walk around my room, Lost

Praying for a breath.

Lost Awaits third draft.

No call from Disney.

Lying. Theft-out to stop a rule

Lifting from Samson Mini Storage LLC

37-B West 13th

New York, Oh, New York

Waiting outside my door.

Receipt two hundred and sixty

One fifty.

7/12/02 four fourteen.

Rate plus tax: 46.01. Until oeight and the Buddha wheel.

Ending balances up my ass.

I not burned out but burned at last.

ON a plane.




Wake up.

Lay back down.

More beans.

Wake up.

Read a chapter.

Lay back down.

What about Eugene.

Go to sleep.






To the north.

Double again.

Wake up.

Lay back down.

More beans.

Wake up.

Read a chapter.

Lay back down.

What about Eugene.

Go to sleep.

Wake up.

More beans.

Another year.

What a minute.

Who is this again.

Lost in Uless, a town that sounds like Useless but spelled Useless.

Only trying says the critic

Airplanes floating above.

Road to recovery.

Winged Rats that look like doves.

On my stair unit.

How long does the life age inside me.

When will the blood be ripe.

Like a bottle so dusty it can't be drank

Memories, notes and rights lost:

Cash 92.o1.

It so hard to thank you. and think about you.

I owe the word, and the world, about as much as I owe anything.

I owe them about the same weight I was born with.

Balanced and death. What am I dead with.

I said now.

The healthy life is death.


Why can't I have the healthy life

Where is death?


A note, an idea, springs in my wrist, I drop all objects of fear

Another year.

I drop the Bic., the draining thin white sword used to shave with flank,

A world of white planks

Poking out of the icy block in Cocytus,

The World Masterpieces, the memories of John,

And the too fast Sub

down my throat

Another happy birthday and week on beans.

White beans, brown beans, split beans, and veg sausage grounded.

God where did the taste go.

I'm like a sugarless shaved hamster.

All the little sins amounted like the tally on a check book.

It's the hook.

He took a nook.

Balances and checks the balance,

Tosses and swing and miss

the crowd roars.

A collective hiss

From beneath the grounds of Dis

I sell my television for that roar.

New Classes approaching.

Café Brazil. All the lipstick and pruned nun dressed whores.

Waiting or waiter, or waited out for a meal.

Sweat accumulates on my ear phones, plum domes,

Alarms sounded near the air strip.

Unclaimed baggage with tasty credit cards.

Watch the lard,

Another year.

Less fat on that perfect gear.

as I patter my feet toward work. Purple hearts accumulate, and this is how I pay tribute.

Some gas station on university, or was it a school,

what's the difference now days.

Web pages knocking at my door and I wait and answer in yells.

Don't bother me now. "I don't on a television"

Respect isn't defined by age


Wisdom is weighed with a personal meter.

I wait.

Another year.

Still she smiles

And I wait.

Still it whirls and grows around

And I wait.

She still smiles.

Another year.

I want a cigarette, a counted fuse.

A aim. Trigger pulled. A dead white tail dear.

A thank you and good shot.

A measurement. I way to judge the length of the past.

She touched my shoulder, a whisper in my ear,

Another year.

The sound of the subway in the southern summer heat.

What a windless sound I feel at my side

Another year.

Trying to Burnet,

Trying to go back.

I don't know who you are and why you are reading this.

Send a message to the other side.

The other side needs me again. Was that a tear? or

Another year.

Send a message to Samson and sell my shit.

I am fed up with the Luckies and all they have to labor.

Miss or hit.

I am fed up with waiting for

Another year.

No more material but the material I need.

No more waited,

Another year,

Forget the years.

What happened to now.

Tosses and swing and miss

the crowd roars.

A collective hiss

From beneath the grounds of Dis

I sell my television for that roar.

Wake up.

Read a chapter.

Lay back down.

What about Eugene

the crowd roars.

A collective hiss

From beneath the grounds of Dis

I sell my television for that roar.

New Classes approaching.

Still she smiles

And I wait.

And I wait.

To the north.

Double agen.

Wake up.

Lay back down.

More beans.

I q uit smoking

No more coughing fits,

But the ones brought on by the Euless cold.

Lost in Uless, a town that sounds like Useless but spelled Useless.

Only trying says the critic

Airplanes floating above.

Road to recovery.

A walk around my room, Lost

Praying for a breath.

Lost Awaits third draft.

No call from Disney.

Lying theft out to stop a rule

What about Eugene.

Go to sleep.






To the north.

Double agen.

Wake up.

Lay back down.

More beans.

Wake up.

Read a chapter.

Lay back down.

What about Eugene.

Lost in Uless, a town that sounds like Useless but spelled Useless.

Only trying says the critic

Airplanes floating above.

Road to recovery.

Winged Rats that look like doves.

On my stair unit.

Another happy birthday and week on beans.

White beans, brown beans, split beans, and veg sausage grounded.

God where did the taste go.

I'm like a sugarless shaved hamster.

All the little sins amounted like the tally on a check book.

It's the hook.

He took a nook.

More beans.

Another year.

What a minute.

Who is this again.

ON a plane.




Wake up.

Lay back down.

More beans.

Wake up.

Read a chapter.

Lay back down.

What about Eugene.

Go to sleep.



To the north.

Double again.

Wake up.

Lay back down.

More beans.

Wake up.

Read a chapter.

Lay back down.

What about Eugene.

Go to sleep.

Wake up.

More beans.

Another year.

What a minute.

Who is this again.

Lost in Uless, a town that sounds like Useless but spelled Useless.

Only trying says the critic

Airplanes floating above.

Road to recovery.

Winged Rats that look like doves.

On my stair unit.

How long does the life age inside me.

When will the blood be ripe.

Like a bottle so dusty it can't be drank

Now, now, now, now,now,now,now,now,now...

A voice other than his own was haunting Roberto in his cell as he hovered over his papers. The voice was escaping from his lips but for some reason it was not connected to the voice he remembered as a child. "I have grown in this place. In this attic of society. This locked room. I have found a way to change for the better. This imprisonment has set me free." He counted up to one hundred and ten pages of notes, segments and character outlines. Also, there were several poems he wanted to include in the body of the work.

The poem he read about his travels in New York and hell in the pen, was coming from another poet. Perhaps the poet was dead, or near death, crawling on the edge of Satan's flank searching for an answer or a way out of this pit of fire, and a path to the edge, scaling the bones of the lost, to once again peer up from Cocytus, and gaze at the misty heavenly stars above. A great, more silent, and stronger voice. The voice that created all voices, and all people, nodded his head to return to mankind and field from the fields. He was remember the kid inside him.

I decided to write down a series of brief statements that covered the brevity of Tom Burnett's survival skills. It was based on Roberto's methods he derived from stealing and being sly within his community:

I know how to leave on twenty dollars a week.

I know how to get food when I have no money or some mere change.

I know it is easier to get food with a few dollars.

I know how to keep warm if I don't have a warm coat.

I know how to make up a bill, if I am only a few dollars short, in about ten seconds flat.

I know how to burrow.

I can live with out a car.

I know how to plea with close friends and relatives.

I know how to work nine jobs in one year and make under five thousand dollars.

I know what and what not to steal. I know my range of theft.

I can't tell if I am or I am not a real thief.

Perhaps I am just surviving without a career. Perhaps I have not found my role yet as a person in this world.

Sometimes I feel like an empty vessel.

I know how to entertain a crowd and even a small town.

I know how to keep my self busy when I am not employed by a business.

I am self sufficient and have the will to be a


The conspiracy is the fire. The cavemen in the ancient times would sit before the flames of the camp fire and gaze at the wavy hands of heat. Alone. Dreaming of a time he once road the train. Now, he rests on the sofa and stares at all the conspiracy in the million and one faces gleamed so perfectly tanned on the television screen.

It happened. He was finally caught. Apprehended by two grocery clerks in Uless. He had placed three health bars in his pocket. All he had on him at the time was a buck and quarter. He had to shed the back pack and the bike to high tail it off the super market. The assistant manager approached him as he exited the store with a small sack of food. He had enough for three roman noodles, and two small yogurts. Hunger talked him into places the bars in his side pocket. He was light headed and nearly forgot about them anyway. He had a system, what he could not afford went into his pocket and what he could afford went into the hand basket. It was wrong. Unlawful. But being right all the time was killing someone like Roberto. It was risky stealing from stores. Shop lifting held jail time plus a nasty ass fine. He figured it was better than starving. He had worked at all the useless fast food joints around and substitute was to painful without the car. All he had was his bike, his change and a few ideas. "Sir. I think I saw you place the nutragrain bars in your pocket." It was ridiculous to stop him. Roberto figured the small things add up. Shit. This is it. Should I run. I should run. He is going to call the police. "Sir. I need you to come back in the store with me." The clerk formed a plan to help him out. "Come back in the store with me and show me were you placed the ntura grain bars." "You want me to go back in the store. Look I put them up on some isle." I'm busted. Shit. It's over. "There by the Roman Noodle." "You need to come back with me sir." Roberto froze. He was sweating from his forehead and palms like some dried out fish on the banks of an oily barge. "Just show me were." A few weeks back when his skill was with him he'd never return in the store. He'd just run. Get on the back and haul ass out. This time he had weakened. He followed the fat grocery clerk assistant manager back into the story. Something inside him was telling him to turn back. Don't go in. Don't do it. "Okay. I'll show you." The heat was on. He had done it now. He had made a commitment. "I'll show you." The fat clerk lead him down the isle. "I already looked near the Roman it's not there." The fat clerk was on his side, taking small forwarding steps at him, staying on his side, with his eyes glued to his leg pocket. He knew. The cameras caught me. I know it. This is it. "Sir. I saw you take them." The clerk was younger than he was. Four or five years younger maybe more. Shit. This is getting old. I'm thirty years old. I've been around the world. Resting in the knapsack was an old wallet from Czech republic that use to stick away his change and various cards needed for events, or discounts at the store. It had his address in it. The discount card did. The clerk lifted his head. He was right. The food was in my pocket. I can't run. I'm too weak. Roberto thought. I'll fall over. He hadn't had anything to eat all day but some bran mix that his mother had left him in the cupboard a few weeks back. He hadn't gotten around to buying eggs and mixing up a batch. "Oh. I found them." Roberto reached down to his leg pocket and removed three protein bars. This is how Roberto had survived eating this shit for over the past four years. He always take a few for his vitamins. It was an expensive bar. Two to three bucks a pop. He had three of them, and he thought one was buy one get one free, so that makes up for two. Four bucks top. Why would he want to stop me over four bucks. And then he remembered his father's voice. It all starts with stealing candy from a store and then the thief turns into a bank robber. Shop lifter to bank robber. Then, Roberto's face turned strawberry red. "Here. Take them." He handed the protein bars over to the clerk. "Take them back." RUN. He ran. Roberto ran. He took off like his first run as a wide receiver in high school. The fat clerk yanked on his backpack and pulled him a little off balance. He slid to one knee. The fat clerk tilted a little and gravity sucked him down like an Iron mast. He hit the ground on his side. It was like we were ice skating on the supermarket floor. Roberto got up, sucked in a large gulp of air and shot out toward the check out line. That is when the second fat clerk approached him head on. Suddenly he was in the foot ball field. He charged him and slid to his side. He remembered the clerk saying, "There are five cameras in the store. One of those cameras saw you take the food." He dodged to the right as the big old man fell to his side like large rotten oak. Roberto headed toward the exit doors and passed the indoor bank. No time to stop for a night deposit. Then, the black clerk appeared in the corner of his eyes. He heard all three of them pattering and puffing like wild wolves behind him. He remembered to keep calm. He took a lot of air and got his barrens. I don't know why but I have to get away. He slowed down before reaching the exit door. He didn't pile into. Instinct whispered for him to slow. Then, the door clicked. It was locked. They had locked his ass inside. He wasn't going to get out. He pushed on the door gingerly. It cracked open enough to fit a broomstick in. He sucked in his gut and slipped through. The black clerk followed by the initial fat clerk hurried behind. Like a heard of Rhino's they charged. Roberto released every break inside him. The engine was fully started and rebbed up to the max. He floored every fiber in his legs. He was flying. All those years of jogging, all those dead sprints finally paid off. He was ahead. He was halfway across the parking lot. The bike had to be left behind. There was no saving her (the bike, the old twelve speed mountain Trek). He was a little sad about the situation. He was friends with that old Trek. He would be put in better hands now. He could make it out of Uless. A relative offered to pick him up and move him back to his home town. He accepted. That must be why the clerks are after me. That must since that I am getting out of this dead end. This end of the airport is over. The slimy toxic sky, the roaring air and toxic jet fuem sky. This airliner town will be put behind me. Then, he began to think that it wasn't that bad of a place. It had character. The only thing on his mind now was red and blue lights. If he hears a siren go off it's over. He had to give in. The foot steps were still pattering behind him. He decided to take the clerks for a night jog. It was around midnight or so and he usually would take hour long jogs here and there as a surrogate sleeping aid. Come on pups stay close behind. If your chasing me your going to be running for an hour. After he hit the sidewalk the troupe behind him slowed and eventually they puffed out. He kept running. The back pack was in the hands of the clerk and so was the Czech wallet and Trek bike. That was over three hundred and five dollars in their hands. Four dollar snack ended up costing him over three hundred dollars. He made it to an adjacent neighborhood. It was time to get out of sight. He remembered all the things he had thieved from Kroger and Albertson. Cookie Dough, power bars, yogurt and even some fruit. He type in the wrong codes for dates. Usually hit 4011 rather than 4037. No one would know. See, they think I was buying bananas. Now, it was time to change. It happened to him once in New York. He was caught stealing dried apricots from a small grocery store off of Park Avenue. He had to sign his name and they took his photograph. He knew it would be more series this time.

He had bought a car not long ago at a Transmission place in town. They sold it to him for eight hundred dollars. It rode for maybe fifty miles until the starter blew. He took it back in. "Starters gone. That'll be five hundred." He remembered what his father Will taught him. "There is a loyalty among thieves." He purchased the car without saying Groom. These guys must have been gypsies. Five hundred dollars for one starter. My ass. He gave them three hundred and they released the car. See, truth is stranger than fiction. Not but a few months later he returned the car and it ended up missing from their lot. "We left the keys under the seat and place in our back lot. A wrecker must of taken her." He didn't feel that bad for taking the bars. He knew thievery was happening everywhere. But it was no game to join.

He made it to the side neighborhood. It was nice. Nice large green lawns, sprinkler systems, electric glass lamps with gold trim. Head lights floated up not but thirty yards from his spot. He decided to take a back way. It wasn't the police. Just a passing family van. Close one. He thought. He walked over to a gap between to houses and checked their lock. It was open. He had a way to get in the back yard and hope over toward the creak that split through Uless. He could float down stream like a fugitive in Old Man by Faulkner. No. This is more ridicules than taking the protein bars. He decided he just take his jacket off and walk calmly home. Head lights peered over the hill down the road. It was the fuzz this time. The red and blues glistened under a street lamp. He ran back to the gap between the two houses and found a bush. He laid on his empty belly panting like some stray mutt. The fuzz slowly rolled by. Fortunately, he was wearing a brown jacket. It camouflaged with the neighbors thorn bush. He could feel their side lamp bust up on him and heat his sweating face. He buried his head into the dirt and let them pass. The car slowly rolled by as he tried not to pray. This was no time to talk to God. How could I ask God to let me go over such a trite matter as a few health nut candy bars. He hoped up as the police car drifted off. He lifted the gate lock and sneaked into the back yard. "Please let there be no dog." And there was none. He began to will his way out of the dark back yard. There was a tool shed in the corner. He leaped up like some spider monkey and crawled on top. He leaped off the side and landed on a apartment parking lot. He adjusted his coat and fixed his hair.

He found himself walking across a creak just like in the film Fugitive with Harrison Ford. He was knee deep in muddy water. All this for few snacks. He could hear in the back of his head rattler shake or some sexy hiss. He waded toward the other side of the small, muddy embankment. He was in the middle of the deep stream now. He climbed up the embankment and headed toward what seemed to be a flag with red letters painted in thick brush. Next, he approached a rich neighborhood. This must be were the doctors of Uless live. He trailed down the road until he found a back path to a field. There it was, the flag that waved in his previous story Entitled. The flag with His name on it. Waving slowly, almost washing his sins away as he approached and the increasing wind caused it to waver more so. Mom was right. Jesus. Perhaps he does save. Yes, Jesus Saves. He passed a small school bus and a chain link fence that kept small playground equipment and a pebbled play lot. Day care. He thought. Suddenly, head lamps pulled up. His heart began to pump just as it did as a young twelve year old when he go on egg runs or toilet paper houses. I am young again. I feel alive for a change. He was no longer numb. It was like a drug. Breaking the law is like a drug. This is so bad. This isn't the right path. The head lamps turned out to be a passing car. He had a feeling he was going to make it back to the pad. He passed the shopping area and the small in church that held the Jesus flag in red letters. He hopped down the road until he reached the roaring highway. A semi passed along with a few economy sized car. If the police don't kill me perhaps the a motorist will. He watched a few pass by flying at around sixty or seventy. He sprinted across and hoped the median. A few blocks later he'd be home free.

A dancer he had studied with in North Texas explained to him, "Every thing you do is stored in your muscles. Even when you steal. That falls into your muscles. You must carry your sins in your body. You must carry what you take."

The real writer not the trash novelist knows there is a real cost to his words. Dante, Dostyevski, Hemingway and Dash knew that it would cost. Hemingway knew it would be more than a simple press of the pen and click of the typewriter. Life goes into writing. And life isn't easy to come by. Perhaps, if his words are poor than he may suffer from the cold. Perhaps if his words are rich he will win the maiden and succeed to warmth and a keep. Perhaps his words are his life. Each letter a movement, a step forward making up his path. The actions of the character could be wished moments that he never got to experience. There are so many writers out their confine to limited movements, due to disease or a crippling ailment. The thief had a thing about Thomas Wolfe. Rumor had it he always wanted to be an actor and did everything he could to find the stage. No one would have him. He didn't risk that much. Hell, an actor risks it all; his body, his soul, his words and his freedom. The writer risks his time. It takes time to sit down, plan out and perfect a story. The game of art lives in a perfect realm. People, most, usually want the work completed. Many writers have never got a complete shot to finish. Roberto would. He didn't care if the type writer stumped up on him, or he ran out of pacific paper, or his pen ran out. He just pick up an old pencil and finish it on placemats. Fortunately, the ol' Underwood was ticking away. The ribbon was intact and he didn't need to write it out by hand first. He just didn't have the time to do that any longer. Oh, the time he once had. Sitting near the rail road tracks or near the botanical gardens huffing away at a clove and watching the red sun turn to night. The time he once was granted was now showing it's withered face. He had found a single gray hair in his beard the other day. Thirty was a time when the sun was beginning to change to that setting red color. He thought he try to read a masterpiece before completed the next seven chapter. Chapter one through three would cover Tom Burnet child hood and then move into his first theft. Chapter four through eight would follow a romantic tell of Tom chasing a young lady across America. The last two chapter resolved his criminal life and summed up his prisoner experience as a inmate. The end of the book investigated his crime and punishment to the picky details. It followed the purchasing of the thirty eight caliber and the exit of the young girl. Roberto had the entire story mapped out in his head. From chapter one to ten it was all planned out. It would begin in South Texas in Austin and end near New York City in the cold of a unforgiving Christmas season.

Chapter One

The criminal.

Roberto Pace.

The sun was eventful in it's shinning presence. Oh, how it staid the path of grace into Tom Burnet's morning eyes. Tom was staring at the capital under the dry head of June First 2003. He was begging his first day as a teacher at the nearby Museum. He was in charge of instructing a passing groups from schools and showing them around the art exhibit. This is where the first painting was thieved.

Roberto had no idea how this section was created. It was purely pompous and over done. What the hell did eventful in it's shinning presence mean. He tossed the paper and began to type of a new beginning. He decided just to free write it with out using his hand written notes from the placemats.

Your killing her. Your really doing it this time. Stop the savoring.

Death lives in the mirror. Cocteau knew this. Many artist understood the deadly contact with the mirror. Actors avoided it and writer's glanced and dancers lived in their reflections. They had to. It was crucial. Death is understood by the dancer. Roberto knew this. The mover where non-movement exists. Stillness can be a virtue.

Their flies. Those ones that vomit it up. Those glamour queens that obsess over it all. Their the flies. Constantly in motion, looking for their next feel. The fly only feels. It only zooms and splashes through morals and it's pattern is a star. It finds another way. It knows the secret of the five paths. It is bad. Rotten. But it flies, flies and flies. When will it stop nobody knows.

Roberto had an angle on life. He had figured a portion of it out. He had been nearly everything but a butcher in life. Cashier, waiter, substitute teacher, actor, college student, pantomime-ist, director, writer, thief, shop lifter, night stocker at various grocery store, international playboy, Morrissey Fan, Smiths fan, fanatic, drug addict, devout religious man, student teacher, and even a slam dancer. He had every dream in his head: doctor, pro skater boarder, pilot, actor, and even poet. He had tried everything. Now, he sat in a room, hovering over the Underwood; a fly buzzing in small tornados around him. The weather was slowly developing into winter outside. He glanced at the orange color, the falling rustic leaves, the windy gushes, from the lunch room. He was young again, awaiting science class. Embarrassed, shamed of his naivete, and lack of skill. He was far from a man. The wonder was addictive. How would I ever let go of this awe. How would I ever know anything. Truly know it with all my heart. How would I ever trust mankind. Is good wonder? Is it okay to want to know more than what is fed to you? Something began to grown in the deep of his belly. He had had a light lunch and began to explore the objects of things. What was a door? I mean, really. It can be defined. A wooden opening allowing entrance and exit. What was a window, a leaf, a cat, a railing, a stair unit? What was language and words. What was meaning and ideas? He began to develop. Science was the next subject. Today, the teacher, a hefty and accurate volley ball player, was bringing in a specialist to talk about dissecting worms. It was a visitor. She was going to take us step through step on the procedure of dissection. Why would we open a worm? For what reason. The teacher explained it was for science and the future of medicine. Nowadays, students are dissecting on the special software with a Logitech mouse and keyboard tools. Nowadays, hands on dissections had changed. Roberto was honored to have gone to junior high in the early eighties. Time still had a fading since of originality and truth to study. It was time before the computer age and the gay nineties lifted. It was a time before guilt and rawness. The media was watered down and Regan presented a secure and safe world with a glance or a Hollywood smile. Bear Creak. That was the name of his School Bear Creak Intermediate. BCI.

He had shown up in his moccasin. It wasn't but two seconds after he approached his locker and the crowd of students rushed the halls that some blond chump stomped on his foot. "Wow you scared the hell out of me." A slight throbbing appeared in his toe and in his vanity. For a minute he knew who he was. The kids name was Donny. Donny Humfrey. Donny would later become a close friend to him. They spend hours as grocery clerks in the back of grocery stores tossing cans of yogurt and exploded them onto the back wall. "Don't step on my moccasins man." Donny would later hook up with him when he left the Keller district to attend a richer school near the outskirts of H.E.B. A school with the mascot and flag of the rebel. A school he would be kicked out of for drug use and bad behavior. He was kicked out a school with a rebel flag. Not even the most intense juvenile could do such a thing. "How do you get kicked out of a school that honors the rebel flag." He asked Sketz years later. The school was full of punks, Nazi skins, new waves, homosexuals and preps. It housed a conflicting class. Roberto fit somewhere in between it all. Half of him a new waver, half of him hanging with the punks and skins. He hung with everyone. He wanted to know everybody and their ways. He was still that young boy wide eyed and fascinated with the meaning of doors, stairs, eyes, classifications, music, fights, the motivations behind it all. What made the world so brilliant. So entertaining. What made his gasp lightly arrive, so delicately, after seeing the same passing tree for the hundredth time in a (row) roll. In a roll, What made the wonder continue. In a swift upside down roll, It, everything spinning wildly, was like the hunger that never ended. The hunger was his wonder and the wonder was early found in his hunger for life and growth. The pace, the interest and depth. That was the key to success in the youth of school. How long did the wonder last, how fast could I retrieve and answer and how far did I allow myself to dig? The door had three, on wait, four, yes four? Could it be four? Four corners. What is a corner? Do stones have corners? What is a cornerstone? It is all connected. One word after the next, one image after the next, one door leads to the next door and the next and the next and the other. Life is like a giant maze. Perhaps a labyrinth. Life is constantly spinning me around, giving me knew reasons to go forth. What if it's a trap. Death is disorganization.

"Death is disorganization. It is when the body breaks up and no longer communicates with all its parts." He was older now. In his late teens. The doctor was peeling a cadaver's face off and back from his skull. He was chopping at his inner organs, serving them nearly on his steel spatial device. He was splicing them man apart for us. There were future doctors, paramedics, police officers, and detectives. I sat in the theatron staring down at the operating table. I watched them man be skinned. Bone to bone he cracked the sternum and planted his brain in the hollowed out gut. The wonder? This is far more than wonder. The study had become violently real. What a precious line man walks between life and death. What a narrow line God has drawn. He trembled on the inside at all the sawing, and draining of blood. This is what man ends up. Sliced and diced on a table from the hands of skillful, intellectual. It reminded him of a butcher shop. He knew it was in the name of science but for some reason he could not get over the act. So much blood. The bone in the skull is so white and clear. This is judgment? The dead man's penis flipped to the side. He was naked before his awed and smiling students. Roberto had no smile on his face and if one came it was small. Life ended. It was a fact. There was an end to all this. And he prayed to God that when it did end he would not feel the effects of the autopsy. "any one for a side kidney. With or without cheese.' The class in the theatron peering over the rail chuckled. The future doctors and paramedics smiled with wondering set eyes. This is where it ends? Why do we look on? Science is the answer. Science will save you from this. Nothing will save me from this. I am seeing an end. Later, he was informed by the instructor with scalpel in hand that most death were required a autopsy and slight forensic work. "We must find a cause of death."

Yes, it is coming to me now. Roberto recalled once when in New York living off of Park Avenue near the Gramercy district what it was like to have luxury. He arrived in the city with nothing. Maybe twenty dollars and a tote bag full of clothes, a few playwrights dramatists works, a tooth brush, paste, several more tooth brushes, toiletries, maps of the city, mirror, phone cards for calling home, original script about Lost Angeles for sale, disks, a CD or two, two slim fast bars, journals, phone book, a few sweaters, and other survivals for the streets. He figured he'd rough it for few days until finding a pad or a dorm room to crash. The first day was the worst. He wasn't used to the Taxi cabs, loud noise, smells, and the millions and millions of people. And every type of person indeed. Every type of race, nationality, style of dress, food choice, way of walk. Dog walkers, cat strutting types, dancers, poets, beats, punks, vagabonds, businessmen, hustlers, hustlers, hustlers, "Sir. I need your help. Your in production right." The man was short wiry, long nose, shaggy hair, woody Allen features with a stronger chin and more deceiving eyebrows. "I have locked my self out of my apartment. I am currently trying to make it back to my mothers house on eightieth street. I need cab fair. Twelve dollars max will get me there. Look, your in production right?" Roberto shook his head. "Yeah. How did you know?" "Small world. Look, sir. Twelve dollars." Roberto frowned. "Ten dollars." No response again. Another frown on Roberto's part. "Nine dollars whatever you got will help." Still Roberto seemed indifferent to the matter. "Okay. Six bucks. Look I'm SAG and I am trying to get to an AT&T shoot. I can get you a read. Look, I won't really be able to pay you back but it's a good karma thing. How'a'bout it. Help me out. Good karma thing." A long face fell upon Roberto. A big part of him knew he was being had by this pro, but he felt for him. "Okay. I have to run up to my place and retrieve the money. I may can only give you four maybe five. Hang on." Why not help a hustler. He works just as hard as the business fellows. After all he had a hell of story and he structured it well. He could be a real production guy. Roberto was on the third flight up near the his place. He walked into his flat and ran over to his room. "A T&T. That's a good gig. He might could really get me a read. Hell, that'be a national. Yikes. I may hit it big." Roberto pulled back his top dresser underwear drawer were he stored his last five pair of Hanes boxers. He found the cologne box where he stashed his stash and removed a few bucks. I'll give him four dollars. That should help. Roberto was going hungry. He needed every dime he could spare. He returned in a flash and handed the poor Jewish hustler a few dollars. He couldn't prove his religion, nor his classification within the Anglo Saxon realm, but he did feel he gave a plethora amount of Jewish features. It wouldn't hurt for a Christian to help out the old world. "Here." The man thanked him and left. I guess the A T & T gig will be on it's way. Just then he was stopped by a friendly fellow in a collegiate, Polo shirt and Dockers. He seemed to be an educated and classy neighbor. "That man that just asked you for money. What did he tell you?" The man probing the situation exposed a knowing smile. He was sure that Roberto had been had. "He's a hustler." "Who?" Roberto smiled back. "That man. He said he was in production. SAG. He was on his way to an A T & T commercial shoot." "Nope. I ran across him the other day. Similar story only it was Sprint. He is a hustler. How much did he get out of you." "I wonder if he once worked for the phone company." It was not but a few months later that Roberto would run across the same fellow and chase him away hollering, "You owe me four dollars you hustling fool."

Winter had come to the city. It arrived on Monday morning during the middle of November. Roberto walked out and came to conclusion that he was underwater. That is how could it was. The moisture and the stingy pain of the cold biting away as his naïve skin. The icy cold in New York City held back for no one. That is why the city rushed and had direction. If one didn't have direction that be stuck out in the cold. No one wanted that. Not even the fellow with the five inch thick down. The cold could bite through the thickest jacket in town and freeze the nibble off the devil himself.

New York was famous for it's freezing weather.

It most of been a mating ritual. All of this. The need to run off with useless materials from grocery stores or wherever it may be. The need to shove something in his pocket to feel better. It was a way to say, "Hey, I did something for the day. See, I matter world. I took from you now. I'll get you back for sure." It was cry out. Nevertheless, he did it anyways. To get them back. Once Roberto called a friend from the psych ward, "Things are going well here. I can smoke. I've been smoking Camels in the bathroom. I have to blow the smoke into the vent." His friend, Mr. Boat, the writer, replied, "Perhaps that is how you can get them back." Boat was a big man. Worked at a coffee shop and acting at a nearby community theatre off the shores of Lake Worth. He was his reference to wisdom. Boat had a hard life. He was Hispanic, founded a band in high school, the band broke up and he went into acting. That is how he met Roberto. They performed a play written by Thomas Wolfe back in the old days. Boat got into playwriting and produced a few small plays about his trouble living in the hood east side of Fort Worth. One play starred Roberto and the other ended up in Dallas when Roberto ran off to the Big Apple. Roberto and Boat hooked up to write a few plays and lived a skitzy life through out the downtown area. Mr. Boat had a problem with smoking weed. To be honest, he smoked joints like cigarettes. "I was bad at one point in my life. It was one joint after the next. I'd wake up, smoke a bowel, drive to work, smoke a bowel, get off for a break, smoke another bowel, go home, smoke a joint, and then get home, write a few lines to my play, thirty minutes or so, and then smoke another bowel. I had to cut down." Boat was quiet the smoker. Roberto called him Skez. Boat Skez. It was a secret name. They never called eachother by the real neames. Boat called him Spives. Roberto never knew how he found this name. Supposedly Boat knew a ham actor in the area that use to ride a bike named Spivey. Boat did not know the Thespian but heard about his daring feats through the underground wire. Supposedly, he packed up and headed off West to write some derange book about a man trapped in three bodies. Roberto never met Spives, but wanted Boat to introduce him to the ham. "I've never met a real ham actor." Roberto said to Skez. It was late at night and Skez had called him about a play he wanted to try to pull off down on Hemphill. Hemphill was the seediest place in town. Roberto had cooked up an old one act, which acted as a satire to some of Sam Shepards work. "Its not hollow mimicry. It's a real satire on his work." Boat and Pace were fascinated with Shepards work. "How can such an outlaw pull off such skilled and musical writing." Pace was going to set a play in a New York city pad, concerning the character's of Sam's work. He would have several of his character return to him physically. Jeep, Crow and other's would show up at Shepards apartment and haunt him, luring him to answer for their lives. This would cause the playwright to go into drinking frenzy and nearly kill himself with all- nighters; in order to complete a play urged by Broadway. "What do you think." Pace had bought a cheap car, for under a thousand dollars and drove it up to the café. Boat was serving coffee and cappuccinos and ignoring the ringing phone. "Got your number Pace. I'll call you when the time is right."

Tom Burnet woke up that morning with a new perspective on life. He wanted something more. He was tired of his life in Fort Worth and the same old routine. Waking up, heading off to the factory, stopping by the drug store, picking up his illegal prescription of various pain killers and then headed back home to commit his crime on the old think pad. Every crime was documented in Tom's Lab top at home. The pills, the prostitutes, the booze, the hold ups at convenient stores, the late nights at clubs, The Vamp in Dallas, along with Lizard Lounge and all the other dark hang outs. It was part of his collection of fiction. Burnet housed over a million words in three different documents alone. He was full on, no hold bars and didn't want to hold anything back in his work. He lived to journal his next crime. It was part of his Big Idea. The Big Plan. The Big Book. The one that was going to SAVE HIM. See, Tom wanted to change the world. He was treated unfairly as a child. His father was abusive, a speed addict and once hooked on various pills. "Wake up Tom. Time to clean the addict." Tom would wake up and be forced to go out in the cold weather with his father. It was during Christmas. Back then Rocky three had just come out and Dad had sold the Singer. His father was the average businessman. Million bucks in the back, three cars, a truck, a pond, cattle and ducks in the back yard. He was one day planning to sell the cattle, ducks and various farm animals and build a pond. His father was ridicules. He over did everything. He was showy, bombastic and loved to impress the neighborhood. Especially on the fourth of July. "This year we are going to shot every bottle rocket into the Dover's backyard." The Dovers were the enemies of Tom's father. .Tom Father was a almost a lifer in the Army. He was in special forces and taught Sonar and Radar to new special force recruits. He wasn't a bad teacher and he had a brain, he just lost control to his flaring, enraged temper. Once Bill Burnete got too made he never slowed down. Once bill decided Tom needed punishment the punishment was overdone, drug out and down right cruel.

Tom decided to apply as a security guard at the nearby school. He was tired of stuffing contact lens solution into crates at the nearby factory. It was killing his back and the soles of his feet were murdering him. What now. I'm calling in tomorrow. Screw this town. I'm going to get a higher paying job and get the fuck out. He decided to apply the next day. He'd take the Four train into the rough side of town. On the other side of the tracks. He walk six miles from the drop off point at Lancaster and then to apply. It was worth a shot. It was worth the long walk. It would give him a chance to blow this town and escape the misery of the same routine. Never work my friend. He didn't care if it didn't work. It will never work Tom. Tom your too slow. Your too stupid. Get up boy. We got to clean out the hay in the addict. Those damn cows are going to starve to death if you don't get up for the love of God. GET THE HELL UP. NOW.

Tom's father lingered in the back of his head as he stepped on the four train at around noon. He had to be at the interview by two O clock on the dot.

"Your resume is near flawless." "Thanks." Tom sat up in his chair like a tall old oak. He was ready to get the job. The vibe was in the air. The old hiring vibe. That feeling he always got before landing a new job. Hell, he must of worked every café, factory and grocery store on the block. The next place was either a cleaner or some stale sandwich shop in some lost mart in some corner of this large world, "What makes you think you can handle security." "Well I almost was a security guard when I was living in Manhattan. I was doing research on a playwright when I was up there. I wanted to put myself in his shoes, as he once put himself in another shoes a long time ago. That's why I was interested in becoming a security guard" "You wanted to be a security guard because a writer you were studying was such." "Why not. I wanted to be someone else." "But you were denying who you are. Look, I don't mind if you do security. We will have to do a background check. Burnet is the last name." "Yes. Its pronounced with out the eh at the end." "Like Burnet." "Exactly. But it's spelled B-U-R." "I don't need you to spell the last name for me. I have your resume. I'll give ya a call." The flushed face evaporated from him, and the blood drained from his head. He wasn't going to get it. He was going to have to find another.

That following morning Roberto was awoken by someone down the hall. It was Jackson. He had passed the test. "I passed. Motherfukcer. I passed. Can you believe this shit. I'm gonna get my freakin GED. Next, step Harvard. Here I come world." Roberto wiped a small tear from his eye. He looked down at the wet mark it had made on his index finger. "Damn Jackson passed. Jackson really passed. WAY TO GO JACKSON." A few clangs rung out. Sometimes the other cell mates, after hearing good news, will clang a hard object, like a pen, the end of their shoe or a tin coffee cup against the bars, like they did in the old movie days.

Roberto was young again. He was in Fort Worth. He had returned from Los Angeles after a long shot audition for a new series. It was back when he was still trying to make it as a star. Trying to find some TV station take him on. His mother, Ann, had taken him to the nearby Animal Shelter to walk the dogs. She was helping out at the Humane Society. It reminded him of this incident. He remembered walking into the cage rooms where all the dogs where kept. It was a long hallway with a wood plank floor, full of various mutts, Black Labs, Golden Retrievers, Collies, mixes, dogs bred between black labs and German shepards. Also, there were Saint Bernards and other mutts with blue and brown eyes. Roberto walked into the hallway of jailed dogs. The room exploded with thick barking. He could feel their loud resonant howls fill his chest, his legs and the rest of his frame. They had powerful voices. Loud dogs. Perhaps, that is why they where in the place. Too loud. He decided to walk a dog named Max. He was red tint dog, somewhere between a German Shepard and a hound. Most likely a mix. Max was bad. He nib at his ankles and tug on his pant legs. Unfortunately, Roberto was wearing a pair of new Dockers so he traded off with Mom's dog, Maggie. He had no idea what Maggie was. Perhaps, a cross between a hound and Irish-Setter. No idea. All the dogs where left to chance in there. From broken homes, or once dog lover that had changed to cat owner. Anyway, for some odd reason the dogs were homeless and needed shelter. Hence, the animal shelter. Not many people came in to watch out for them. They were locked there. Alone. Waising away. If it wasn't for kind people, people that needed to walk dogs, or get out more, mostly the artsy types, or loners, or ex addicts, or people that lost their love and were going too broke to own a pet, these poor ol' dogs would never walk again. It was a cloudy day and the rain drops were not birthed yet, and the damp air had not found it's way to a wet humidity. HE went on three rounds. Walking one dog each round. The goal to the dog walking was simple First, the dog walker found a leash. Next, the walker learned to tie the dog chain. It was a simple process. You linked two leashes together, feeding one leash through the handle loop of the other and then tying it so. Next, you yanked subtly on the chain securing the two leashes and adjoining them in a according fashion. Then, you made your way to the sanitizer making sure your hands were sterilized. Next, you found the hallway and chose a dog in a cage. After the dog was walked around the block the dog walker would place a number two, or three, however many rounds the dog flown, on the exterior of the cage. Then, the dog walker sterilized the hands using the sanitizer and chose a new caged pet to walk. The other job was grooming the cats, but that took much focus and a feminine hand. The walk around the block was very simple. The first section was uphill. Mid way the dog walker would pass a group of Vannies (or gypsies, or homeless people.) The group would smile at you and sit out before their van and smoke or wait for the next meal from the van. The men had the look of the road, and from a distance appeared to smell. The female of the group wasn't much older than the men, and walked and talked like a man as well. The group would flash a toothless smile as you and the dog hovered by. They'd comment on the fashions of the dog like, "When you walk one way the dog seems to walk the other way." The dog walker would respond with something like "I know. These dog's just love me" and continue on toward the train. At the top of the hill the train would roar by, clicking it's round heals on the long rail before it's never-ending destinations. IT would roar by and the dog would begin pattering to the beat of the mechanism. Finally, the last car would hum by and then, the dog would slow and take a sniff of a past dogs waist. After the dog walker would coach the dog to follow on, he yawn and go into a memory of his old school days as a heroic figure on his way to take the world. Perhaps I could have been a famous newscaster. Perhaps, I could of made to the movies. Became a stare. Perhaps, I should of become a doctor, a lawyer. "I could of ran off, Maggie. Or whatever your name is you ol' dog." And then, the dog walker would make his way away from the tracks and down the hill and to the animal shelter. The dog would bite at his rear and chase his tail for a bit, and then in he was lead to his cage to be howled and hollered by the other locked dogs. That was the one thing Roberto remembered most. IT reminded him of those old prisoner films, jail house rock flicks, where the prisoner was being released from his cell and lead down the hall and all the other prisoner would holler, howl, bark and clang on the cells with tin coffee cups and peer their mirror out, laughing at the freedom of the new released prisoner. Roberto smiled and continued on as Jackson. Hours had passed and he didn't touch the underwood. Tom Burnet's life was lost somewhere in the keys of that old clanker. Roberto just sat there as Jackson snored and fell into a better place.

Tom noticed a slight bubble belly form under his waist line. He had to get it off before Christmas. He didn't want to show up before his relatives and all the loved ones like hick slop. He decided to begin walking in the mornings before the security guard job. He walk till around eleven or so in the morning and then slowly cool down. He walked quickly. The lead walker, a fat lady down the block that supposedly owned five cats all named after aftershave and mint chocolate bars, and one white Dalmatian, called it Superwalking. It was the same speed power walking was rated but a few miles per hour slower. The kind you see old people do in shopping malls early in the morning, or late passengers trying to catch the terminal for an overbooked flight during a few days before Jesus's birthday. Tom super walked for forty minutes or so in the morning. He did it for himself, he did it for his love and he did for God. Or is it First Your God, then yourself and then for love, or is it God first and God last, or . . . When, he miss in the morning he walk up to the Fort Worth zoo at around ten pm and then head back home for homework, a journal entry, reflection and a snack. He usually ate two slices of American cheese and read a new article in the New Yorker. Usually in the back, the hefty stuff that tackled the new modern literature and the best minds in creative writing. Minds like Paul Auster, Vonnegut, Hesse, and Faulkner. Tom wanted to be a writer one day. A great writer. Acting never provided him with a financially rewarding life, but words were always available, and a story is what an actor lives, or is asked to live, and stories are the center of his life for as long as he plays the role. Switching to a writer would mean he would have to stop living the story and begin creating it, structuring it and forming it for other's minds. It was like growing up and feeding the young child, the actor, what he wants, stories, but only, he would have to let others live it for him. He would have to, well, learn to be like God. It was important for him to learn how to be omniscient, and learn how to know everything and how to spell it too. Also, rhythm, drama, story structure, the usage of the English language, poetry, history, science, the law of motion. To be honest, he would have to study, experience and know everything there is to be learned. Learning would never stop and his linguistic skill would have to be constantly sharpened and refined until he woke up to the world, and created, with words, what they needed to read on paper. He wanted to publish and make it big. Possibly buy a place in SOHO, perhaps near Bleecker street, or up in Connecticut. Maybe even go back to school at Harvard in the Boston area at least. He heard the whole town was full of writers, poets and journalists. This is how Tom got his revenge. It wasn't good. He had no friends and no one ever phoned him. He stayed in after worked and worked on his novel. It was called The Poet. It was about a lonely writer in the bad side of Fort Worth, trapped in his home, forced to spit out poetry and short plays. It was quiet depressing, so he changed the town. He decided to move the poet to a cold place. He called it the Town Of Cold. It was far north. Too far for him to do any real research. It was a fictitious town composed of snowy huts and small alcoves full of towns people. There were small waffle houses, and few coffee shops and one movie theatre that showed a double feature matinee on Saturday afternoons. The character's name was Mr. Spoil. Mr. Spoil was a round man, over fed but underbred. He wasn't the average Joe by far. He was quiet the opposite. He was into theatre and the humanities. His favorite passed time was watching movies and breaking into neighbors houses and stealing jewelry. He was known as the Cold Town cat burglar. Little did the whole town know that he was actually a crazed poet looking for motivation. He usually pawned in the stolen jewelry for food, tools to write and to buy various magazine and for savings. Also, he had a second job beside cat burglar, maintenance man, his specialty was dish washers and AC units. There wasn't anyone in town that could do such work, especially the cat burglar work. When time was slow, during the winter months, he break into farm houses garage, in the mid morning, and steal left over in family cars. He used three simple tools; a screw driver, a hammer and a mag light.

Tom was slowly losing weight. He hadn't gained that much since he graduated college and moved back to the south. It was too many late nights before the television set, munching away on cheese-its, and nacho chips and watching Leno and Nightline. He was up all night, smoking and it wasn't long until the local check up warned him to quit. He put on a few more pounds but he wasn't that sever of a smoker, hence, he didn't put on that much weight. Finally toward the end of November the weight began to peel off. He met a another security guard he just go happily married and decided to lose a few pounds to impress his wife. So, he cut all sugars and salts. "It just peeled off me after that. Cut down on sugars and salts and you will be surprised." Tom decided to do such a thing. He stopped eating the cheese-its and cut all snack foods. Instead he replaced everything, "With apples and bananas, and drink juice instead of cokes and make salads more often." The security guard had lost up to fifty pounds doing such a thing. "You lost fifty pounds. What do you call it?" "No salt, low sugar diet. You can get most of your sugar from fruit anyway. OH, and cut things like jelly and sweets. And watch out on the fruit too. Try vegetables more often." The sweet tastes of the finer foods left his life, but by the time Christmas ran around Tom was nearly fat free. Oh, and his book was coming along. He was even purchases Dramatist source book in search of a agent to take on his new short story about Mr. Spoil and Cold Town, far north. Tom was coming along. He had found a new job after working a few months at the factory as a security guard. Now, he was the number one watchman for the new school in the local school district. He was even thinking about dropping back in to college. This time as an English major. The old general major didn't pay off that much. He couldn't really find a lot of work with it. Generals don't go far. It was too general. He decided to find something more specific, like English, Science or Philosophy. On the other hand, he heard some bad stuff about philosophy majors. Ted, the low sugar security guard, gave him a few hints, "Don't be a philosophy major. Most people go to school to find work. Save the study of arts for the library or for a second degree." "I already got my first degree. It was in fine arts." "Bad mistake. Do you have a job?" "No. But I've been writing like crazy." Good for you. Sold any books." Ted looked interested but he couldn't tell if the interest laid in the conversation or from his highly skilled aim at exhaling. He seemed to blow out a funnel shape dragon breath and seemed to like to watch the direction of the smoke. I think Ted didn't a little to many hallucinogenic back in, "It's a funnel shape smoke that exited by my cigarette breath. "Run that by me one more time." Ted was high. "You lose any weight on my low sugar trip." "Yeah. More than I thought. Christmas is coming up soon, so, I figured, I'd impress the family." "You kind of old. You a loner." "Yeah, why?" "How old are ya?" Tom leaned back for a few moments. "I guess I'm in my late. . ." He was going to lie to him, but Tom was tired of lying. He was tired of stealing and being the criminal. He wasn't a fulltime crook anyhow. "Thirty. I'm thirty." "And your not married yet. Shit man. You going in for the long one by yourself." "Iz thinking about getting a cat." "Suit yourself. Want one." He offered Tom a cigarette. It was dropping in degrees out. Christmas was on it's way. "They say you life to write." "Well, I didn't it in high school. I didn't get to that much in college because I was always working on homework assignment and what not. But since I've graduated and got suspended from Graduate school, I decided. . ." "Wait. You were kicked out of graduate school." "Not kicked out, suspended." "For what?" Ted leaned back and let a few smoke bubbles explode into the moonlight. A car passed and Ted peered through the night vision glasses. He was back at the factory doing temporary work. He was temping at night and working for the school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and watching up on weekends. "Yeah. What's to ya." Tom was curious for a few moments and then picked up his night vision glasses gazed across the road at a wobbling stray dog. "I slapped this chick." "You slapped a chick." "Not hard. See, I was studying acting and I really got angry at her. We were in the basement of my dorm and a slapped her and then poured a bucket of paint on her new dress." "You slapped a bitch and poured a bucket of paint on her new dress. And this was in New York you say." "Yep." "Damn man. And they let you live?" "I had to run off. Come back here." "Why did you slap a bitch and pour paint on her clothes." "I went crazy after September eleventh. I just lost my fucking mind." Another car passed. Ted peered into his goggles. He blended in the night. He skin was dark black and his eyes brown as earth. He was a large man, most likely a slave for some farm, back in the mid 1800's. He had a few wrinkles under his eyes, and his hair was cut fine, and shaved close to his head. He smelled of old spice and New Ports.

Tom walked home that early morning. He passed the house full of cats. It was the lady that owned five cats named after men's cologne. The oldest cat was named Obsession. The fat lady walked out in her quilted looking morning gown and fastened her hair up in a bun with her off green shower towel. "Come er Pleasures. Come'r kitty. Obsessions, Pleasures, come and get it." She kept Polo, Green Water and Calvin Klein inside. Tom lived in a small house. It was back house behind a rich man on the north Side of forth worth. It was near the university. The first few months the man let him live their as long as he kept the garden up and watered and fed the pets. After a few more months he moved to a new back house and grabbed a job at the factory. He went through a place called Corner Stone as a new hire and even landed a position for the district as a regular worker. Eventually he settle in, bought a work processor and well, began writing.

"It's called The Poet." "Kind of general." Ted said. It was the third week at work. "Why? What's wrong with general." "Well. Most books have specific titles." "Like what?" "Well, Tomas Wolfe named a book the Web and the Rock. And look at Grisham's work. The Pelican Brief and The Rain Maker. They have catchy titles. No one sells a book called the Poet." "What should I changed it too." "Well, what is the story about?" Tom Burnet took a moment and peered into the dark night. No car passed. No lights flickered. No odd noised. It was still night. Still like it's color. "Uh." "There you go. Name it uh." "You want me to name my story uh." "Well, is uh, what it is about." "No it has meaning. It has theme." "What?" "its about storytelling." "That's not a theme. A theme has texture. It has to be man versus God. Or man versus dog. Or man versus something." "Man versus story." "I haven't heard of that one." Ted let out a tiny burp and slurped on his diet Doctor Pepper. "You sure you don't want a New Port." "I told ya. I quit smoking." Ted was one of those guys that liked to share, "I like to share a quality cigarette with some one every once and awhile." "Why?" "I don't' know. Did you see that." Something was rumbling in the bushes ahead. It was some man shaking it off near a fence post by the main fence line. "I'm calling this one in." It was some traveler, most likely a transient, local nut head, lost, or near drunk to death pissing near fence line, most likely his car broke down, "You think his car broke down or something." "I don't know but he is shaking his thing off on that fence post" "Should we call him in or scare him off." "Lets try the scare. You or me." Tom decided to let Ted do his thing. Ted picked up the hand held and snapped the trigger. The intercom hissed on and he let out his, "Sir. You are on private property. I need you to stay off the fence line." The bum had made his way over the fence was high tailing it across the parking lot. "Call it in." "Hang on." Ted said. "Give him time to respond." Ted continued on the hand held. "Sir. You are on private property, if you don't. . ." That is when the man took off running. He high tailed it back to the fence lined, tossed himself over the railing, barfed, hit his knees, took a few minutes to gather, and flung himself into a dead sprint down the passage road. "Call it in anyways. We got him a head start." Ted was fair like that. As long as he gave the intruders a head start he'd call it in. The man would have to run a good four miles before he left the passage road, unless he hitched a ride off the highway. Most likely it was a drunk transient with car problems. "He was looking for a phone. He wasn't a burglar. Trust me I know." Tom nodded off to sleep. . .

"Roberto. How's the story going. Guess what man. I passed." It was the next day. Jackson had showed his ugly face at the cell that morning. "I heard."

The criminal.

Tom Burnet was on the outside. Well, he lived in Robero's head, just as Mr. Spoil lived in Tom Burnet's head. It was a domino effect. One character was writing about the other character, like those Chinese antic toys, where one toy fits into the other toy and swallows the other toy, until the tiniest toy is hidden. Tom didn't treat Mr. Spoil like an antic, or even a toy. He was a real person lost somewhere in the corner of this place. Far North. In the coldest town in the land. Mr. Spoil had recently changed his job from working as a proof reader off of main street in Cold Town, to a snow plough man. He decided to find a better white wash. Snow blowers didn't make a lot of money but they did seem like nice and polite people. Still, Mr. Spoil almost was caught breaking into an old lady's garage. She owned a brand new Lincoln and he figured he could find pieces of left over jewelry or possibly a twenty dollar bill shoved away in a glove box. It was a nice little hit. A small farm house lost in the woods near the base of a mountain the overlooked the Atlantic. It most of been an older house. One of those ancient houses built back in the colonial times, that had been rebuilt, and rebuilt and rebuilt until it was brand new again. The lady was very old. Most likely she was from the same time. She just never died. She simply forgot to die. As the myth goes, she was over three hundred years old and her mother was even older. She most of not been quiet human. She had a blue face, and white eyes, with stunning gray hair. Mr. Spoil didn't want to rob her, but he didn't believe in myths and didn't believe there was a lady the lived over three centuries. Hell, she would be so old and wrinkly she wouldn't be able to stand. Her bones would of rotten away by then. No heart, not even the strongest, can beat that long. Everyone has their limit.

He had successfully peeped into her garage and then some wild cat scared Mr. Spoil have to death, and he ran off into the snowy wind. Mr. Spoil never attempted to hit the same house in the same month. Especially after a scare. He decided to hit the old ladies house again. The town called her Lady Blue.

It was in the middle of November. Christmas lights were out, but not on Old Lady Blues house. She never had more than a reef out during the season. She barely even came out of the house. The only time she got sunlight was when she was gardening, feeding the goats, or cats, or digging in her garden. Some say she had buried something very precious in that garden. Something to make the flowers grow bright and few of the weeds would even turn blue. No one knew the truth about Old Lady Blue. Many kids would walk by her house and not one blue weed, or not even a old lady was seen. Some kids said it was a young lady, very healthy looking and sexy and young. "Mommy there ain't no Old Lady Blue." Kids would run by the house sometimes, taking the long way home, go way out of the way in order to get home.

"That's a myth son. Don't worry. No Old Lady Blue exist. No one lives to be three hundred."

Mr. Spoil wasn't had. It was just some senile senior citizen. She didn't have a blue face and she didn't have that kind of age on her.

Mr. Spoil planned for a second hit. It would be on November the seventh. He figured he'd get lucky on that day. He went back to his small place, near where the river bends, not far from the main town. He sat down and took out a pencil and a little piece of paper. He wanted to mark down his actions to get the hit exact.

Approach the garage. Examine the area with the mag light.

Use the hammer and screw driver to jam open the garage door.

Use the hammer to bash out the passenger window.

Crawl in. Don't open the door. That would expose the interior light and make to much noise on top of the bashing of the side window.

Check the glove box, under the seats and that's it. Stuff whatever is valuable down the pants.

Make the getaway.

Hightail it home. Take the stream to the town and then act as if I am making a normal walk home.

Tom was having trouble writing the story about Mr. Spoil. Recently, something valuable had been transported into Fort Worth. It was near priceless. It was an Egyptian head plated in solid gold. Some say it was worth ten million or more. It was locked away in a safe at the down town historical exhibit. It would be near impossible to retrieve. Some felt it was cursed and unsafe to touch. Solid gold. It was a head of a great princess of the Egyptian times. Tom was thinking about checking it out. Not to rob it but just to gaze at the golden head. He had never seen a Egyptian artifact. He thought it would better educate him.

He decided to leave early from the security job work at school and make his way to town, to check out the exhibit. It was artifacts found in Ramsey the greats Tomb. Supposedly, the head of one of Ramsey's lovers. If one touched it revengeful spirits of Ramsey's would track them down and force them to give the touch back. Hence, it would go for the hand.

The curse was a myth. Surely, there is no such thing a cursed head.

Roberto woke up in the middle of the night. He had not touched anything to eat in the passed two days. His cheeks had gone hollow and his waist and belly ached of emptiness. Every bone in his body was heavy and his eyes seemed to dry up and slowly fade of light. He was under it all awaiting nourishment. Too much time had passed until he took in bread or even in this case water. He was making a few notes about Tom, but he couldn't really follow his path due to his light headedness. He felt Tom was out there. Beyond the bars. Living a free life. Living in a story beyond his touch but still connected, as Virginia Wolf states in a "Web." Not locked up and tortured to eat prison food. Tom could chose, as long as he didn't get caught. He had that power. The power to chose. It wasn't long until he heard the gossip on the cell block. Supposedly, a monster had be excused from death row and placed in Cell block E. It was down the hall and two cell blocks over. It was quiet a walk from Roberto's keep. Roberto wasn't too afraid.

"Did you hear about the monster being let in down the block." It was Jackson. He still had not wiped the grin off his face for passing his GED test on the net. He had the beg the white collars to lend him the laptops and information that Roberto couldn't provide. Jackson new how to get around. He was the type of man that could feed eight people on twenty dollars a week.

Basically, Jackson was from the grittiest sections of the hood.

"Now. What does he look like." "People saying it's back luck to look at him." "Who? The new guy. The arrival?" "Yeah. The death row fool they just let into the mainstream. Just down the hall from us, dawg." "He gets to walk around now." "Hell, the fool got a lot of freedom. Guess what they be calling him." "Not be, been" Roberto retorded. "Guess what they BEEN calling him, then, dawg?" "What?" Jackson took his time to respond. He took a belly of air and then whispered, "The dicer." "Why?" "Supposedly, he diced up a few of his victims. They say he is too stupid and nutty to kill him smartly. So no one will find him. He left clues." Jackson took another moment to reassess. He straightened up. "I mean this guy is seriously whacked out. Did you hear about what he did. Supposedly he had that Jeffery fool topped. The one that ate em." "Ate who?" Roberto wondered. "Ate them queers and buried them under his house." "No one could top him. Not Jeffery Dawh" Jackson cut him off in mid sentence "Supposedly, he has. He killed over thirty men and a few ladies. Diced them up with a meat cleaver. And check this out." Jackson took a few steps back and checked his watch. He had the guard's timing down flat. No one was around. Jackon lowered his voice real good and quiet, "He diced them." "You sound like he put them in a food. . ." "Processor." Jackson finished the sentence for him. "Your telling me he put his victims in a food processor." "Yap. Then they couldn't find the evidence. Check this out." Jackson took a long moment and then lit up a cigarette, illegally of coarse. He seemed to freeze for a slight moment, as if he was out of time. As if history had stopped a moment for him to speak. It got quieter. He continue in the thick of the silence, "He put them in a freezer in his basement, then hacked off limbs and then. . ." "Look I don't want to know about this shit. I haven't heard any of this in the media or in news magazine. It's gotta be bullshit. He didn't chop people up and put them in a freakin blenders. Get real Crackson." "Okay. I mean, that's what Chuck told me, and the other new guard that just arrived." "Chuck told you this. Chuck did?" Roberto usually trusted Chuck's word. Hm, he was a series man. Chuck didn't lie. "When you starht calling me Crackson?" "Since you been making up this bull. Look I got to get back to the Underwood. Tom's calling me." "Whose Tom?" "An old friend." Jackson vanished. The cell filled with the clanking noises from the lettered keys of Roberto's Underwood.

Shhchhhrrek. Mr. Spoil's boxer had cracked down the front. Too much peanut butter lately. He had slipped them over his fat bottom and headed into his new snow uniform he bought months back at the local hardware store. He had been removed from his last pad in town. He didn't cough up the dues. The snow had swept in so thick he couldn't even see the eviction notice on the outside of his front door. It lay reight beneath the peep hole. A little pink slip. Number 2310. The noticed warned him that he had exactly three days to move everything out or the Sheriff would be called in, and he would have to appear in court if he refused to vacant. If the money was not amounted in time, he would be ousted. And in the snow. Nevertheless, he left a day before the third of the noticed. It was very close to December. Marry Christmas Mr. Spoil. So, happy you could make it. Make it to your dying death bed in the snow. He found help in town. He decided to move most of his belongings, minus the furniture, the bed, the desk and the tiny kitchen table, out in the snowy front lawn. His next step was to find a storage unit. There was a small place called Cold Town Storage. He stored his journals, his type writer, his notes, books, and kitchen supplies, plus his coats, vests, blue jeans, warm underwear, tooth brushes and pastes, into the unit for forty five dollars. The life of a writer requires the endurance of cold places. He had two hundred in the bank. He decided to spend the forty to lock everything up until he found a home. "Looking for a place." Mr. Spoil was no longer in Cold Town. He was in the BIG CITY OF THE NORTH. It was far from Cold Town. Actually, it was nearly a hundred miles south. The city was near a small Island called, Lonely. Lonely was heavily occupied with the most greedy, materialistic bastards on earth. He flashed back from the city. He was lost in memory. Mr. Spoil had spent maybe a good year looking for work in THE BIG CITY OF THE NORTH. He found nothing. Not even as a shoe shin man. He found didly squat. Jack. He was out of money, out of time, so he head back north near his home town to Cold Town. It wasn't long until he landed an office job filing. That was two years ago. Thought Mr. Spoil. Two long years ago. I have had every job in this town. Washing machine repair man, AC repair man, security guard, factory worker, even worked as a chef assistant. Now a crook. A thief. How did I stoop so low. What made me steal. I must have been lying to myself. I must have been living a lie. That was it. I was a lie. Thieves lie. They live the lie. They become the lie. And this lie, this false self, makes them take too much from life. Hence, they lift what is not meant to be there. So, what is rightfully mind. I guess I'll know when I get there. I guess I'll figure it all out some day. Mr. Spoil was a round man. Fat, some would say. He had found a place in a back house in town from the local Barbara, Mr. Hairision. Mr. Hairison played guitar and had four cats all named after snack foods. Zinger, Tweenkie, ding dong and little Debbie. Zinger, was black and purred loudly. Tweenkie was slightly yellow and meowed when handled. Ding dong was blind out of one eye and the color of ash. And Little Debbie, well, looked like a little Debbie. She was mostly brown with a long white stripe down her sides. Mr. Spoil had it easy even though he thought he might freeze to death, not but a few days back. He hauled all he stuff into Mr. Hairisons apartment in town. He lived on the third floor not but a few blocks from the clock tower and the court house. "Here is your key sir." Mr. Hairison said with his big white, pale old face. He wasn't as heavy as Mr. Spoil but he was working on it. His favorite foods where peanut butter, snack foods from Kraft and various restaurant style lime coated chips. He drank beer on the weekend but hogged it. He hated to share his liquor. The key was small. It was a golden colored skeleton key with a lucky rabbit foot for a key chain. "I'm gone in the morning to snow shuffle. The salon opens in the morning. I have café awaiting on the hot plate in the kitchen. You can take whatever food you need. I don't hog my food like my beer. Touch my beer and we'll talk about finding you a knew place to live. If you need to write. I hear you're a writer is that true Mr. Spoil." "Yes." Mr. Spoil looked down at his combat boots. What journeys he had in those boots. He only wore them when he moved in the snow or had to do heavy labor when it was icy out. He had fought a war in those combats. "When, you write, you may use my dead wife's Royal. It needs to be cleaned." "You have a Royal. Those are rare." "I used to have an Underwood but it broke down. I gave it away to ah, I forget know. I think a warden but it from me several years ago at an auction. It was an antique. Anyway, you may use the Royal." "Royal. Wow. I haven't typed in a while. Lately, my typewriter has been stiffen up on me. I had to make notes by hand in pads." "Its okay. You can use her. Just take care of her. Gilda was the last to touch her. I think she had a polish kit, and some WD40. . .need to replace the ribbon. It has oiler and some other stuff to clean the keys and roller. I'll try to find the tools when I get back and I'll get ya a new ribbon for her. Will get her cranking again. Got to go. Many scalps to buff and styles to populate." "Thank you Mr. Hairison." "Call me Chuck. Chuck Hairison. My real name. Many think Chuck is a fake name, or giving as a nick name. It's real. Chuck just fine." "Well, thanks Chuck. See ya tonight." "Don't touch the beer." The door slammed. Hairison wobbled out into the snow leaving a trail of deep boot imprints behind him. He had his snow boots on. Big leather, black.

The first thing Mr. Spoil did was run to the refrigerator. He swung open the door and checked out the bottom shelf. Pearl Bear. He drank Pearl. Yikes. Mr. Spoil wouldn't touch it anyway. He had a feeling he drank that poison because of the fact it stunk and no one would touch it otherwise. Drinking pearl guaranteed it would be there when he got back. Rumor had it he rented out his back room to any that needed it. Any traveler or passing fancy. He didn't care the size, shape or style of person. As long as the helped with his cats, cleaned house and paid the dues.

There is a time when man falls from his grace of awakening and weakness shuts his eyes. He sleeps. In this moment, the half fool, the honest poet, the rebel, awakes and takes the night into his fist, arises onto the paved road and runs to his freedom. Runs out of his genetics.

This was true with Mr. Spoil. It was true with Tom and even in the small room like tomb provided by the state prison it was true with Roberto Pace. All of them, fighting out, crying No God, I have enough of your choice. Now, I will know the night. Now, that I have denied your destiny I will create my own. The only bridge to my own destiny is through the thick cold of the night. My feet will forever know the morning mist.

Mr. Spoil awoke in his cold bed. It was early morning. There was a mud print in the center of his room. The foot imprention was far too small to be a man's. He entered the kitchen area. There, sitting perfectly still at the messed kitchen table, over a wrinkled yellowed and used newspaper was Mrs. Hairison. But she was dead. She looked exactly like the old photograph on the mantle. Short Gray hair, brown eyes and that flowery dress. It was Mrs. Hairison. Perfectly, still, no moment. Nothing. It was as if she was a monument. Sitting there. Gazing out the window from the newspaper that laid under the milky bowl of leftover Bran-flakes.

She was faint. Still. Here eyes did not wonder. She was staring at the front yard tree. It was an old oak with the wrinkles to prove it. Mrs. Hairison resembled that old oak. Silky skin, prune like leaps with a bark covered skin. She was not human. No. It was something more. Something beyond breath. She wasn't moving. It was as if she was a statue of her self. She had come back for some reason. Mr. Spoil did not attempt to call out her name, or attempt to startle her. He slowly walked up to her and kneeled down. Something was draining from under the table. It was a long milky river. Draining down the center of the kitchen like a small Nile flowing in a opposite direction from the rationale. It was such a small stream of what looked like milk. Then, he grabbed a dish towel and began to mop up the milky substance. A few words escaped his lips, "I want tell anyone you came back Mrs. Hairison. You just sit there as long as you like." He looked up and she was gone. The back door was agape. Wind fluttered a few leaves and one greenish brown leaf fell slowly in the center of the milky stream. It wasn't milk. Mr. Spoil had no idea what it was. He dipped his finger in it. It was warm, and a little fuzzy. Nothing from this earth. Nothing real.

He stepped back and the door fell shut, hard, cold. The room went silent. A nothingness lifted. Mr. Spoil was alone.

The milky substance.

Mr. Spoil sat down and poured a glass of milk. He contemplated on drinking it or not. He had not found work since he was laid off at his last job. He decided to drink the milk anyway. But the rule. The one in the bible. Those who don't work don't eat. Surely he could of stumbled in town and found a place that would hire him. But they'd just let him go again. The Phillip 66 station would let him go like last month, and what about all the jobs he had working as a chef assistant or snow plow. They all fired him or laid him off. He was still hungry. What was work anyway. He couldn't miss breakfast. He drank the milk anyway. He was hungry. Then, he fell tired and decided to head back to the top room. His room was over the kitchen. To get there one would have to travel up a small winding stair unit enclosed by walls. The room above the kitchen was small. It was a twin bed without the other twin. It had a sleeping bag for a bed cover. The walls where white and wood paneled. The room had two windows. One window by the bed and one near the corner adjacent to the closet. The room was no larger than a large walk in closet but it was very warm. The heater had a direct line through central heating. MR. Spoil was cozy there. Mr. Hairison pulled up an old rocking chair a small bed stand that he could rest various magazines, and his nightly glass of milk. In a few days, Mr. Spoil would go into town.

He noticed after a few days, Mr. Hairison was losing a little weight. "Trying to shed a few pounds for winter." "Usually the other way around." Mr. Hairison informed him.

He felt funny eating all his food and drinking his milk. It wasn't his. But it wasn't his. He didn't created. Mr. Hairison had no power to produce milk, or to grow wheat from his hands. He didn't make the bread, the factory did. The local bread factory produced it. What gave him the write. Hell, Mr. Spoil worked hard, doing his dishes, cleaning the kitchen floor, sweeping the snow off the front door and sitting up in his room writing his short stories. That is work is it not.

He chopped on a ham sandwich and poured another glass of milk. The seventh morning had arrived. Mr. Spoil still had not found work. All he did all day, was the dishes, read the news paper, and a bits from his small collection of poetry, write a few pages to his story The Poet and nap. Oh, he also snacked on various snack foods, drink milk and prepare Mr. Hairison's afternoon hot coffee and cream.

Tom Burnet was fooled as a youngster in Fort Worth. He grew up in the rough area of Summer Fields, Texas. Many kids in the area were from middle class, boarding lower class homes. Many of his friend's fathers were police officers, fire men, electrician, teachers and blue collar workers, ex-army workers. Some were military brats, coming and going. Many of his friendships didn't last long because everyone was trying to move up and get out of the blue collar neighborhood. Possibly out in the country or somewhere pretty like New Mexico, or even North East Texas, or as far as Greenville in East Texas. It was a nice place to live. He moved to Fort Worth after he left his father's place in Keller Texas. His father and mother split up at the age of Fifteen.

The night he left Keller and his father he had just turned sixteen. He was working at a Grocery store as a sack boy. The place was called Diamond H. He dreamt of being a poet then, and even constructed a view poems in the upstairs bedroom of his father's house. He was into bands like the Smiths, Morrissey and The Cure. His hair was jet black and short like a young John Cusack. He decided to high tail it away from his dad. His dad was a big man. No one could tell he was a survivor of polio. His father had it bad in his right leg lower calf. His muscle went dead and eventually his father had to wear a brace. Also, his father was a heavy smoker and did speed to keep up the business across the street. He ran a factory for producing precious metals. He moved out after telling his father he couldn't stand living under his rage. His father would lose control for odd reason. One time Roberto lifted a pack of cigarettes from his step mother. A country western lady that used to work up at the plant. She smoked cheap Marlboro lights and complained about every crumb left any where near the kitchen. He woke up with his hand pushing his head into the pillow. As his eyes opened a fist smashed into his lower right cheekbone. His Father pounded on him for awhile and finally Roberto became oriented. "What. What did I do?" His father informed him about the step mothers missing pack of cigarettes and he begged his father to stop hitting him. Finally, he confessed of his love of poetry, and he hated the fact his father was a big hunter and so very masculine. He wanted out. He wanted to live the life of an artist. And he didn't care what his father thought of his decision. "My way or the high way." One night after closing duties at Diamond H, Burnet gathered a few friends around and told them he wanted to go to a party a few miles from the grocery story. "My girls there too." "You want to just pick up and leave work. WE have to face the entire store. Jack said." "Jack's on crack. Come on lets high tail it out of her." The blond, unusually blessed with blue eyes, decided it was a good idea to rebel. He picked up a can of yogurt and tossed it at the back of the wall. It splattered a like a small hand grenade full of white ooze. Tom picked up a handful of Dannon Yorgurts, every flavor, strawberry, banana, blue berry, strawberry cheesecake and chunked it. A white mess dripped down the back wall. The brown headed fool in the back gathered a basket full and began firing the yogurts until we were convinced we all get the ax. The boss was an asshole anyway. He was always on edge and real Jewish about his money. One time, after work, Tom walked up the stair unit and into his office. "I need off tomorrow. I have band practice. . " The fat old boss with a bolding head cut him off. "DON'T YOU EVERY SNEEK UP ON ME WHEN I'M COUNTING THE MONEY." Grocery stores in the south were stingy with the cash. Barely, did they lend money to charities or other events. "Sorry sir." Tom walked back down. He would of never made a real living there anyways. A few of his friends walked with him to the party. It wasn't that long of a walk. Maybe ten miles or so. It took them about an hour to get there.

Tom had a few glitches in his body. He wasn't that pleasant to look at. He was know beauty queen. That is why he wanted to become a writer. He could express his love in words like Cyrano de Bergerac. He could win his maiden over in verse. One problem. He was kind of tricked by a envious cousin. See, his cousin knew he could become quit the craftsman. It was months after he had arrived at his mothers in Fort Worth. Tom made it to the party and found his girl. Then, the party was jumped by some Bloods. "The bloods are here." It was the blond, with blue eyes. He was warning Tom that the party was being jumped. The bloods had arrived and were raising hell for some fucked reason. Tom, and his girl, the blond friend and the brown head, jumped the gate and ran through the mud until they reached another friends house. Later, he made out with his girl and called his mother to help him flee from the neck of summer fields and start over in Fort Worth. He made it to her house and eventually broke it off with the girl from the Keller area.

That is where Tom found what his cousin thought would be a good place for him to career. It was in drama. Tom was suicidal for trying to get started in Drama. But he would have been even more doomed if he tried to seriously study writing. He wasn't that educated and had to learn the hard way later on in life. He got through the drama class and his gay drama teacher convinced him he would be a success. He stuck with drama through College and even made it to New York to study at the Strasberg-ian studio. It was disaster. His gay drama teacher and his German cousin was wrong. It's hard to trust, a once devout enemy, but Tom was taught to forgive and decided to take his word. His cousin got into film making so he thought he had back up. He continued acting until he learned he couldn't get work due to a slight deformity in his chest. He had an indention in his right ribs. It was really his only flaw besides a bump on his tongue. He thought his appearance wouldn't matter on the stage, but it does. Tom, finally after eleven years, at the age of thirty decided to turn to writing. Hell, it was the words the publisher was concerned with not the writer's looks, like in the theatre.

Due to all the stress of his deformity and the bump and it caused a few speech problems he became aggressive. His goddamn cousin never promised him back up or that he would partner up to make a film. He was left alone. It was back to the drawing board. Tom decided to write a book called the Criminal. It was were all the lies lead him.

Mr. Spoil made an O with his lips after brushing his mouth with his fat toothbrush. It was one of those gum specialties that had wide bristles and a fat round head. He put up his nice green tooth brush and flicked the bathroom light off. He didn't say anything to Mr. Hairison about the mysteries milky trial that was left by his dead ex-wife. He just passed by Mr. Hairison's room, gave him a salute. Of coarse, he didn't respond. Mr. Hairison was sound asleep snoring like a lawn mower with a bent sling blade.

Mr. Spoil headed up stairs and found his way to his comfy old bed with the sleeping bag bedspread cover. He decided he pick up his pen and construct a new poem about the ole Town of Cold. A dog barking caught his attention. It sounded like that old stray missing from the neighbors lawn. He had black fur, a red collar and one brown and one blue eye. Mr. Hairison threaten to bash it's head in if he tried to mess around with his bunny rabbits in the backyard. Mr. Hairison had three bunny rabbits. He used to have six but the stray ate three of them. He ate, Nancy, Flounder and Rick. Mr. Hairision wasn't that creative with his naming of the pet bunnies. On the other hand, he did have more interesting names for the other three. Jackson, Roberto and Chuck. Spoil grew attached them, and Hairison would let them sleep in the attic room with him on cold nights. Hairison would talk them, feed them lettuce and bunny carrots, and bits of his frosted flakes, and even read his poetry to them. He even wrote a poem about their lives. . .

Run rabbit run

Take to your fun

Life ain't a game

No one wins anyway

Run turtle run

Take to the sun

Look out for rain today

Rabbits only a sleep away

Rest, rest the pain away

Hide in your shell today

Get lost in my way.

Race on and on today.

Non of the names sounded like Rabbit names. "Jackson, Roberto and Chuck." Who would name their bunnies that. Mr. Spoil was lonely. Supposedly a Nor-eastern was on it's way. He wanted to get a pet for his upstairs pad. All he had to keep him company was an old type writer, a sleeping bag, and a few pens. Oh, he bought a poster of Charlie Chaplin at a nearby garage sale. Some old chap sold it to him from Manhattan. He had just moved in from the big city. Cold town was a slower change of pace.

Mr. Spoil gazed out the window and witness something spectacular.

Roberto sprang upwards like the unwinding of a mousetrap. Morning. Early. Six AM. The warden had cracked down on time. Labor in the prison was up. They had a new underground section dedicated to the production of diesel interior carpet cut outs. The work was sweaty, stinky and oily. The workers were shoulder to shoulder at pneumonic presses designed to fit into the floor boards of six-wheelers diesel cabins. Rumor around campus was that Jackson had entered a new coarse for college credit. He was actually going to try to take some AP courses. Advance placement courses for his core classes for undergraduate. Jackson was bouncing off the walls. "No shit. Its for English. It's a literature class. I'm gonna try to place out. What do you think about it Roberto." "Sounds great." Chuck appeared after Jackson walked to Lunch. Roberto had missed the last few lunches due to his story. He was far into the mind of Tom Burnet. "Gotta together, huh, sir." It was Chuck. He was smoking again on the job. "You can't smoke on duty Chuck." "Yeah I can. Just not on this cell block. But hey, whose gonna stop me security." Chuck didn't have much to say, he just wanted to make sure Roberto was still clicking away. "Am I in the story, sir." Roberto stopped typing for a moment rubbed an oily sweat drop off his forehead and then fell erect. He kind of stiffened and leaned back in his chair like the leaning tower of Pisa. Then, he scratched his head making little circles like a spinning top. "Well." The moment lingered a little too long. Awkward long. Roberto clenched his fist. He felt like screaming out. He wanted to jump up, rip off the bars and tear into Chuck. He wanted to gauge his eyes out with his runny pen. Crack apart his skull, rip out his mind and consume every dark corner and festering cobweb, "Yes. Your in the story Chuck." "What's my name." "I can't tell you." "You can tell me." Roberto was turning a light shade of strawberry. "I can't tell you Chuck." "Tell me." "Look." He turned from the Underwood. "I can't." Roberto wanted to be ugly. He wanted to relieve himself and smack him one. "I can't. I just can't."

Roberto returned to his story. Chuck felt his emotion. He wasn't angry. He was honored. He was proud that Roberto had so much passion towards something. In a small way, he was envious. Envious like a little child would be.

Tom passed the gallery. Mary's gold plated head was resting on a pedestal in the vault. Alone. Surrounded by red ropes and laser alarms. Blessed by bishops and archbishop of the Holy Catholic Church. It was heavily guarded.

But Roberto had an idea. It had been growing in his mind for some time now. He would try to land a position closer to the vault. There was break-room not but ten feet it. He would stash a large back pack there. He could tell them that he had visited the gym on a weekly bases. He would stash it in the back room and then, he would wait till the lasers were disarmed. Wam. He snatch it when the gallery was overloaded and hurriedly place the head of Mary in the book bag. Quick as a viper. He say. Just one motion. He practice at his little pad downtown by the Bank One building. He step forward, bending the knee and keeping the back straight like the way a fencer would stab for a lethal kill. Then, he rip the head off the pedestal and stash it in the bag. He keep it at home and not tell a soul. He wouldn't dare try to scam it off at some pond shop for a few hundred, or melt it down at a refinery. He simply hold on to it. Keep it close to him. Then, when the right buyer arrived he sell for a life fortune. It would be his life savings. The head of Mary from Pieta. Oh, holy head you will be mine. It was sacrareligious and the Catholic church would hire a slew of hit men to track him down, but screw those incense, candle lighting, bead wearing alcoholics. What do they know. He was going to plan it out step by step, moment by moment, and pull off the most impressive heist since the days of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

The conversation between Chuck and Roberto lasted for a full two hours. Chuck was barely doing his duty. As he lingered on about Taxes, bad neighborhoods, the ghetto machine, liquor stores, and crime, his eyes widen with truth and fear. He was on fire. His words were simple, curt and hurtful. "Fuck the law. Fuck the system. Yeah I killed the man. I shot him in the back of his head at the local Seven Eleven. It was my project. It was my words. My poetry. It was how I got back. After my old lady left me I had nothing. The money in my pocket. That was it. I didn't rob. You know why. I had nothing to rob with. I only had these to hands. Then, I got hire on the rail road. After they learned I had no education that let me go. It was that way with every job afterwards. I was called a fool. A black fool. A fool for trying. I'd ask a lady out and she laugh at me. My teeth were rotten out of my mouth. My eyes had trouble seeing. I never ate. I was growing as thin as a rail. The only food I snatched was leftovers in the back trashcans of dinners. Sometimes I'd call up a pizza joint. Have them order up large pizza with everything on them. Anchovies, pineapples, mushrooms, bell peppers, and avocado." Roberto began snickering at him. Chuck joined in with a howling embarrassing guffaw. "I was poor as poor can be fella." "Why did you order so much toppings on your pizza." "It wasn't cause I was hungry. No one would by a pizza with that combo. I'd order them with everything on them, even anchovies. And then, I'd pick em up in the trashcan behind after they though them away. That's street smart for ya." "Not bad." Robert continued typing. "Are ya gonna put this in it." "In what, my novel." "Well, yeah." "I, uh, well." "Are ya." Roberto lifted back into the chair and stopped clanking at the old keys. "I don't have a lot of paper. Every words gonna count. I don't know where I can fit ya in. I'm sure your in here somewhere." Roberto leaned in to Chuck. The shadows from the bars split his face into dark and light. "I gotta get back to duty." "You want me to put a bunch of shit about surviving on the streets. Like a survival guide for hustlers in my story." "I wasn't a hustler. I was real. I was just a person born into nothingness. My family had nothing. Barely had the close to put on my back. The only present I ever got for Christmas was this cheap little toy made in some far off island in Asia. You wound it up and it tinkered around in circles like water spinning into a drain. Little circles going nowhere. Beeping and chattering nonsense at the world." Chuck's eyes seemed to light up. Now he was telling his story. Roberto filled with maddened rage. He had to stop him before it was too late. "OH COME ON CHUCK. If that's even your real name. THAT'S ABOUT AS FAKE AS BEING IN HERE. You're a criminal. You're an idiot. You're a damn nigger. You know that. A fucking freak. Get it. Okay. Is that what you wanted me to say. Now it's about time I was honest." It was Robert speaking more than Roberto, but he continued with, "I feel so sorry for you. So fucking sorry." "I feel so fucking sorry for you poor little boy. Yeah, I'll put you in the story Chuck. For killing a man because you wouldn't starve. But you got your next meal. Nope your didn't die Chuck. You survived. You would not die for him, so he died for you. Why'd you kill him? For the money?" "Of coarse it was for the money. Why else." "Now your free Chuck." "I'm not free. I'm in here. Employed but in here." "So what. See what it amounted to." "I had to kill him. I would never of moved up. I had to kill to move up in the world." "You ended up were you belong. Hand it over Chuck." "Hand what over." "The toy." "What toy?" "The toy you were talking about." "I don't have it anymore. I don't have any toys" Chuck rose his head. He had high cheek bones, like a some wild chief of some West African Tribe. Then, the breath drained. Chuck lowered his head as if he was going to start weeping, but he didn't. He was too strong for that. He was beyond sympathy. He wasn't an evil man anymore. He didn't need the things of this world any longer. It was the next world he was ready for now. He wasn't going to get out of this mess. "What you making for working here Chuck." "Not that much. Blue collar wage. I can't even sleep at night. All I think about is that back of that man's head. How it shattered into a little pieces after the gun went off. How the blood spilled and how his breath forever left him. How scared the other clerk was. I remember blood spewed into the ski mask and soaked it clean through. I could smell him as I walked out and ran across and out into the dark. I couldn't remove the ski mask. I kept hoofing in his blood. It got in my nostrils and seeped into me. I was consuming him. Eating him. Slurping him up. All I had was over two hundred in cash from the register. I made it on the next Gray Hound out of town and never returned to Dallas until years later. That's when I decided to apply here. If I can't beat the system why not work for it." "You got sucked in to the place . . ." "I was trying to stay out of."

"I din't mean to call you a nigger, Chuck." "My name is Abraham. My friends call me Abe. Abe King." "To be honest Abe. I don't care. I'm tired of names." "Names are how we refer to one another." "Yeah, I know. But I'm tired of all the names. So, many names to keep up with. Your Chuck to me." Chuck smiled. He knew he could keep the secret with him. "I had more names then I could keep up with in my time." A silence filled the hall.

Then, music drifted in from down the cell block. Guitterman was back on the guitar. Everyone called him The Guitar Man.

The guitar man, Mr. Phil Guiterman, the most quit man down the cell began to cry out a song that made Robert and Chuck's blood run cold. He must have been listening in on their conversation. Roberto felt guilty for telling him to shut up so many times when he was trying to construct his first few chapter of the Criminal.

The strings from his guitar began to resonate through the cell block. Something opened inside of Roberto and Chuck.

"What you go and do, go and give the boy a gun. Now there ain't no place to run to, ain't no place to run. When he holds it in his hand. , he feel mighty he feel strong, now there ain't no place to run to, ain't no place to run. One day he may come back, repay us for what he done, then where you going to run to, where you going to run? But one fine day all our problems will be solved, bang, bang, bang, will shot him down." Now, the guitar man was strumming full on. Nothing was going to hold him back. He was singing free. The lyrics from Tracy Chapman echoed off the walls of the prison cell. IT was as if he was giving a concert to the whole gang. No one ever talked to Phil. No one every mentioned him or even really knew he was around. Perhaps it was because he was practicing so much. Singing so quietly. But now everyone knew he was around. Now, he was in everyone. "If he prays only on his neighbors, brothers, sisters and friends, we'll consider it a favor, we'll consider justice done. But if he comes for you or me, and we can place a gun in his hand, bang, bang, bang, we'll shot him dead. What you go and do, go give the boy a gun, now there ain't no place to run to, ain't no place to run. Now we'll all be at his mercy, if he decides to hunt us down, cause there ain't no place to run to, ain't no place to run. If he wants the chances that you took for him, Oh, and nothing that you own. Then, there'll be no place to run to, no place to run. And if he finds himself to be, a reflection of us all, bang, bang, bang, he'll shoot us down. Before you can raise your eyes to read the writing on the wall, bang, bang, bang, he'll shoot us down. Before you can bridge the gulf between and embrace him in your arms, bang, bang, bang, he'll shoot you down."

Tom Burnate gazed at the golden head of Mary from Pieta. "Wow, it must be priceless." The other security guard from Waco turned to him with a long, beard like on the end of a mad dog. He had a whisker mustache and a healthy round, Texan belly. "Hm. No. It has a price. Most everything has a price nowadays. Few things are priceless. Names, Theodore. Everyone calls me Ted" "Nice to meetya Ted, I'm oh," A moment rang through his head not to speak a further word. Not to go on with details about his identity or his history. It could lead to his crime. "Name is Tom." He gave him his first name. It wasn't smart to fake a first name. Ted may call him in the future and he'd be hesitate to react. "Tom. Nice to meet ya. You have all night duty." Tom stared into space and then back at Mary and then to Theodore. "Yep. All night. And I was thinking about heading off to the Red Slipper." Red slipper was a night club that served artsy types and the hip crowd. Usually jazz music all night. "Drink on the job. I can't. This one will cost me." Ted was series about the Gallery work. He needed the job. Tom didn't. He had a little in saving and could afford to miss a pay check or two. What would I do with the head of Mary. I couldn't sell her. I couldn't let out that I'd have her. I get big time, hard big time for that one.

Tom broke out from his inner glance of what could happen. "Ah, well." And then Tom walked out and headed to the Red Slipper. It wasn't even his break time. He just walked out and sat on a bar stool and ordered, "Sex on the beach." "One sex on the beach coming up." The bartender had a reptilian face with a tiny million spots making up a shadow of a beard. He couldn't tell if he was a holy man, a bad man or well, just a ordinary man. "Whats your name?" Tom asked as if he already knew. He was a bartender, there all named John, Jesse, or some name that started with a, "Ja, ja, ja" "Excuse me." Roberto returned. The bar tender stuttered back. "J-j-j-Jack. So. .so. . .sor. .. sorry. I k-k-k-kind-of-stutter sometimes." "Thanks Jack. Where you from Jack." "Poetry." "Poetry. Where is Poetry." Dark clouds formed over the city skyline of the Old Fort. Something evil was brewing. It was in the mind of Tom. He was going to do it. He was going to walk in with the back pack, sit it in the break room, and when the Gallery was full of people, like a hundred people or so, he was going to run into the vault, as fast as a viper strike and lift the gold head, and stash it in his bag and dart out like a thief in the night.

Mr. Spoil arrived from his new job in the late of the winter morning. It was as cold as a witches tit outside. Mr. Hairison was still away working at the saloon. He usually would drop of a pint of ice cream and a some fruit pastries from the nearby drugstore. He didn't make it this afternoon. Mr. Spoil was getting old, his belly was protruding and his eyebrows were growing thicker and thicker. He even noticed his earlobes had been sagging. He had a fetish about earlobes. There is something about the body. Something holy. It is a sad, sad thing that the body slowly begins to shut down. No one can stop death. Even the most healthiest health nut alive eventually shuffles off this mortal coil. That is the respect that makes calamity of so long life. Mr. Spoil cracked open the refrigerator box. There was hardly any food. Two slices of bread in a plastic bag, empty can of mustard, and harden slice of Swiss. The ice cream he had consumed days before. He never mentioned food to Mr. Hairison. He had not worked long enough as a snow plough man for the road crew to buy his own food. He hated taken food from Mr. Hairison. It reminded him of when he was a child again. Mr. Hairison had to work hard for that money cutting hair and giving neat trims. Now, he just simply, well, thieved it in a way. Hairison said he could have it, but still. . .He unwrapped the plastic bag of bread and dipped in. He snacked on the dried bread and nibbled a bit on the Swiss. His stomach grumbled and headed up to his room to lie down. He was only working early mornings to around noon and then he head home. He'd mostly do the side walks with the town's snow tractor and then head up to the main square to polish off driveways to business and to gleam up the side walks tracing through (tiny) down town.

Mr. Spoil was said. His wife had died in a automobile accident years ago. She was hit by a six wheeler on the highway getting on a entrance rap. She forgot to check her blind spot and Wam, light out. The six wheeler spun over on it's side and donut-ed a good six or seven rotations before flipping over the guard rail and spilling into the freezing creak bed below. It happened on the bridge near town. It was one of those four lane bridges with the suspension units. Supposedly the bridge was nearly totaled and the road construction had to come in and realign the cables. Mr. Spoil lost her. He wanted to die first but he wasn't that lucky. Now he was cursed to live the end of his life alone, writing poetry, short stories. It was the only thing he could do to pass the time. He once had a pet dog named Snoops but it died of heart worms. HE took up to poetry and robbing cars. He never hot wired the cars or tried to thieve the vehicles. Car theft was a series conviction. It was far worse then stealing a small gold bracelet or a wallet.

Mr. Spoil laid down on his sleeping bed in the overhead quarters. He had bought a new book of poetry at the nearby half price book store. It was a collection of various poets. His favorites. Robert Frost, Emily Dickenson, Dylan Thomas, Yeats, Shakespeare. The book compared and contrast the different poets and provided commentary about each artist. It gave a small biography and then presented their most famous work. It was called The Poets of Our Time. It ranged from Homer to Samuel Becket, to Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs to Jim Morrison and even covered a few stories on Sam Shepard and the new hot poet walking the streets of SOHO. It covered everyone. Mr. Spoil had no other past time. He was currently sending work to a poetry organization based in New York called the American Poetry Society.

He peaked out the crystal baked window. Every crystal a complete different world. He gazed at the snow and rarely passing cars, trucks, Chevy's, old 1970 ford pickups, jeeps and various vehicles seen driving in the thick of the snow. Every car with chains and long tail of thick, white smoke blasting out the tail pipes. He wrote:

The snow.

Jagged Tears from old man winter

White flaky hardened

Glassy Angel

Avenues leading

Next, wings, still breathing,

Is she alone? Where-ever she lay,

without her, mother and

mother before and now part

of the mother,

Small friends, lost in the head,

smiling perhaps, smiling forgetfulness.

Sending more words to the city.

So many parties without my name on em.

WillI sell? Christmas light laughing at me.

The season winking me to envy,

So cold in here and so warm in there.

Perhaps they'll buy me.

Save me.

The small friends perhaps,

A dark blue wind coming in.

She use to kiss me

And now I can hear her

In the smallest part of my heard. . .

Oh, wind stop this lonely cry,

Oh, mother stop me from asking why,

And free me from

This small cold room in

Cold Town.

That was it. The loneliness was overcoming him. He had to get a pet. Perhaps a cat. No their too independent. He needed a pet that needed him back. No pet beat a dog. Dogs are loyal, respectful and full of loving energy. Yes, I'll get a dog. I'll spend my next pay check shuffling snow on a dog. I'll name him Avenue.

Avenue A. After the street Mrs. Harison Lives on.

I can decide if I should call him A, or Avenue.

After I live here, I'll take Avenue with me and then I will be reminded of all the wonderful times me and Mr. Hairison had together. Drinking coffee, laughing at the funny papers, trading ideas about what should fit into the cross word puzzles. Talking about our past loves. Sharing a game of Mexican sweat. I'll take the Avenues with me. All the times of my past. The dog will help me remember this little cold town of Cold Town.

According to Dante there is a place in hell for thieves. Dante refers to the thieves as reptilians. They are one of the most tortured in hell. There flesh disentigrates to ash and is regenerated back to whole form. This punishment, of disintegration and rebirth repeats over and over again.

Rhythm is near impossible to define. In art, as well as writing, it is crucial. Boleslavski defined it within the essence of the art medium. He feels it must exist in order to invariably stimulate the spectator and communicate the work of the artist respectively. Rhythm changes in life but suits every moment. Mr. Spoil was slowly catching on in his verse. Rhythm is composed of elements that are ongoing, and is constantly changing nevertheless fitted according to the surroundings. Hence, the rhythm in an elevator is much different than the rhythm at a basket ball game. Rhythm is the prince of arts. Tempo is the bastard brother. Boleslavksi knew this. He understood this to it's highest degree. He fully studied rhythm in nature and used it in his teaching of the craft of acting. It is clearly defined to the creature in the end of his book The First Six Steps. Boleslavski charmingly explains the concept and it's significant association with the arts and on top of the Empire State Building. Mr. Spoil was catching on slowly. He was very close to his late fifties and he was for the first time starting to get it. Life had a rhythm. Dancers have a rhythm. Painters have a rhythm. Actors have a rhythm. Poets too. And even writers, like the old and ole Mr. Spoil have a rhythm. "a tempo to life." He whispered under his breath as the snow fell on the gray soil before Mr. Hairison's mildly heated hut. "Some one needs to turn the heat on. "There is rhythm to the morning, afternoon and even night or late night. There is a rhythm to the motion of a train, and the way people make love. Rhythm is found in everything and no one lacked possessing it. Anyone that carried a heart in their chest owned rhythm no matter their royalty, intelligence, social status, income, wealth or ownership. Rhythm is. It just is. There is nothing more to it. Existence.

Rumor had it they were going to Riot. Chuck had gave the word to Roberto before arming his brother security personal. The riot was a gang war between the "blue eyes" Arians and the Panthers (black militants.) There wasn't that many panthers in the inside. Jackson was part of the small clan. He didn't want to join in. "A riot. Man. This is series." It was his Hundredth tutor session with Roberto. "Riot over what?" Roberto asked with owl eyes. It was late at night. The Warrant allowed Jackson to get make up tottering later in the evening if a class was missed. Jackson was now taking Junior College level courses in English. He had brought his first book mailed to him from the correspondence course on the net. It was a Norton Anthology, "Its over two thousand pages thick." Jackson's eyes lit up like a enlightened school boy just released for summer break. A boy weighting new arriving thoughts about freedom and weightlessness of hard labor. Supposedly the Warden was going to let him have some time off from Laundry and mechanic shop to study English. He was no longer going to be limited in the proficiency of English. "I had to read a chapter from Dante's Inferno last night." "Tough read." "Yo telling me. Didn't understand a lick. That's why I am here. What the hell does arduous mean?" "Don't worry about it now." "Man that story is screwed. And why is it called a Comedy. The Divine Comedy? Canto one starts off in midway in his allotted threescore years and ten. He is coming to terms with who he is. He's struggle between good and evil. The true way is slipping before him. Like it is with me. I don't know whether or not to join in in the riot. If they attack us again and security doesn't do shit about it we are going to tear the shit apart." "That is why their rioting." "Yep. It's not because we want to start shit with em nazis. It's because security won't report on them. They won't due shit when one of our guys gets the shit beat our of them. Last week Mr. Guitterman had his right hand broken by some blue eyed devil." "They broke his right hand. Why?" "No reason. He was showering and three fucking Arians held his hands against the shower nozzle and cracked it with a soda can." "Against the shower nozzle." "No shit. Man he hadn't played in awhile. He had to go to medical. Guess what?" "What?" "He might be getting out soon." "Guitterman." "Yep. Soon. Phil maybe getting his feel real soon here." "Where did you here that." Then, there was a sound of loud boom. "Here they come." Something evil was rattling down the hall. "All you niggers gonna die." Then, a scream arose. It sounded like five mad dogs chewing at each other's throats. "What the fu. . ." Roberto jumped up. Jackson sat the thick Norton Anthology on his desk.

Mr. Hairison's Wife.

A freeze had blown in covering Cold Town and ice blue. Everything was still out. White. Calm. No movement. The air was pure, crystal and the snow was thick and hard. Mr. Hairison's face was old, torn, wrinkled, but his eyes glint of youth and magnificence. The cherry on the end of his cigarette was long, thick and fiery blood red. A pause had filled the room. Mr. Spoil grew frustrated with anticipation. Mr. Hairison lit another Camel with the end of the flaring tip of the cherry. "She wasn't a kind lady. At first she was, but as the winters passed she grew mean. The storms in her came with age." He took another drag, and his eyes grew, bright, young and alive. "A part of her was evil. At times, I wanted to walk right out in the cold, freeze, die, it didn't matter. She got the temper real bad. She'd hit. Sometimes with the frying pan. On de back. Not a women's hand. She would beat me. She was beaten by her father. It was passed on. The circle of violence is a horrible part of nature. Once abuse is passed to you, you have no choice but to pass it on, or eat yourself up over all of it, or find a away to smother it out and rid it from existance. Abuse scars. She was hurt as a young child. Her father tortured her. She nearly broke me that lady. Loved her stronger than any man. Her maiden name was from Irish decent, Loon. She loved me for a long time. Met her at a fare that was passing in town. Three ring circus had come in. Elephants, lions the, clowns and the whole nine yard. My best friend, Billy Whit, had met her first in our Junior year. Later, he met us and we hit it off from there. Our first memory was linked to the circus music, the happy faces and cotton candy. It wasn't a year gone by that we were walking down the isle and saying our I do'ses. First, year of marriage wasn't bad. The second year she had me tamed like the lion tamer's fierce cat we saw at that ole circus. She died not very long ago. Two years back. It was during the largest Nor'easter we have had. The cold got so bad and the snow so high we had to live on our reservoir of pecans and the stack of peanut butter we keep in the cellar during freezing times. She was no joke that lady. She was series cook and mad the meanest apple pie in the north. So mean, children would steal money from the mother's to buy it on bake fares she hold at the local Cold Town Church. But she grew mean over the years. She started to hate life after awhile. She stopped cleaning nearly as much, and she began taking pills. Blue pills, pink pills and most of them put her to sleep. She fell into a life of slumber until the winter came along and vanished her with it's pale, ashen blanket. Just covered her up. Back there. Down past the river bed. On the side, facing the river. She wanted to be burned to ashes, but I could only afford to bury her. We had a small funeral. She never wanted to be put in the lot with all the others. She wanted to be close to the river, and nature. I built a stone monument and carved her name in it. Gilda Hairison. She didn't want me to put her maiden, Loon. She never liked the name sounded too much like Looney. Like she was some loon or something. It means, that which comes from the light, or pale light, like the moon." That is when she flare up, when the moon grew full. She grew sick toward the end. She'd cook the meals with lightning speed and yell out in a rush. Ribbons and bows would fall from her hair. She was always running around preparing things for no reason. Old age was making her lost. Mad. Toward the end she barely knew my own name. Only knew anger and at times pure rage. Caught her one time in the yard digging a hole. Like a grave. She had no reason for doing it. Just digging a hole to China I guess."

"I saw her. Gilda. I saw her." "Saw my wife." "The one in the picture, over the mantel. You and her by the lake. That is your wife Gilda." "Yes. When did you see her?" "The other night. You had come back from the salon and just fell off to sleep. I was alone but didn't feel alone. Walked down to see if you were having a midnight snack. There was milk on the floor. She was standing over it."

"Milk you say." His eyes filled with water. A drop clang to his lash. "Milk?" The tear released and slid down his face like a wondering raindrop before a great storm. "She . . ." He got choked up and couldn't speak. "What?" Mr. Spoil asked scooting closer to him. He placed his hand on top of the back of his hand and showed his warmth. "She had dropped a gallon of milk when she miscarried our first child. She was making breakfast and she dropped that milk and spilled it on the floor. I was in the backyard chopping wood when I heard her scream in horrible pain. I ran to her. When I hurried into the kitchen I was so panicked I didn't see the milk and slipped and cracked a rib. I was in so much pain I could barely drive her to the hospital. We lost the child in the ER. It wasn't till years later that we had our first." "Your father." "One daughter?" "What's her name?" "Ann." "How old is she now." "Thirty five. She just had surgery the other day. She called in not long ago. I'm gonna be leaving soon. Headed south to see her." "Where does she live." "Poetry Texas. Its far from here." A silence filled the room. Mr. Hairison went to coffee pot and flicked it on. It was near morning. Hairison had woken up due to the extreme cold. The place was freezing inside. Ice crystals had formed in the sink. "It happens sometimes when the freezing weather blows in." Mr. Spoil woke up that night around three thirty three in the morning. It was ice cold. The heater had been shut off. "Did you shut off the heater." "No. Did you?" "No." Mr. Hairison's hairs on the end of his forearm grew fuzzy and pointed to the ceiling as if he was touching an static ball like the ones in science class during a electricity lesson. He had the goose-bumps pretty bad. "Gilda used to turn the heat off in the middle of the night when she was getting really bad. She liked the cold she used to tell me. Plus, she was extremely cautious about the gas bill. Besides, she liked sleeping in the cold. So cold you could see your breath." Another moment. The wind crackled through the trees like a escaping snake from heel of a hunter. The trees swayed in one direction as if they were falling over in slow motion and then bounced back like rubber. The wind had picked up to a small, gurgling howl. The cold was getting colder.

"Kill em'. Kill em all." It sounded like Jackson. The entire cell block was lit in red flames. Flickering shadows, the color of blood, sprayed across the walls in short bars like the cell long cylinder iron keepers. The riot had begun. Smoke was in the air. Roberto could smell it. A crowd of prisoner had woke up to open cells. Someone had made it into the guard's control room for the cellblock. The intercoms was blasting lyrics from MC Hammer. The white collars were still locked up and rumor was out they were the first to be held hostage. They were being forced to listen to the music that drove them to misery. The base thumbed over the tiny intercoms and the prisoners sang along to his rustic black voice. "Jackson has arrived." Jackson skid across as if he was some pantomime sliding across a small proscenium stage in a minstrel show. Jackson fell to his knees and released a handful of fiery trash. It slid across the prison floor like a long, burning laser. The prisoners were in the process of lighting trash and tossing it everywhere. Chaos had shoed it's ugly face. "This place is insane." Roberto announced. He was snuggled away in bed for the first few hours of the riot. The beginning section of the riot was composed of sneak attacks against the prison guards and taking down the control rooms, weapon rooms and security cameras.

A fire storm was slowly brewing down the hall of Roberto quarters. The boys must of saved their matches for this crazy event, Roberto thought. "REVOLT, REVOLT." Jackson was screaming his voice, calling out tightening his diaphragm and opening his soft pallet to let the noise free and travel as far as possible. After the tenth shout, after the tenth time or so, of screaming the same word over and over, "Revolt, revolt," he decided to keeping it down. He knelt and leaned against the bars of Pace's prison cell. He rested his palm over his small, protruding beer belly and smiled up at the wondering sparks. "Its like hell now Pace." Jackson was nearly out of breath. He was panting like some scared house cat after a family of hounds were let in the household. Pace had never seem him that flustered. Strawberry red like some shy girl. "What the hell is going on." It was near two in the morning. Roberto was surprised by the riot. He never thought it would take effect. "They're pissed now, man. Pissed as hell." Suddenly, a barrel of trash doused in flames rolled passed. "Its time for revenge. They can't take it anymore." Java ran passed hollering gibberish and carrying a long paper torched made out of newspaper and napkins. The tip of his torch was kind of pretty Roberto thought. The but of the torch crackled and white smoke climbed toward the heavens. Jose arrived. He was carrying a cell block torch as well. The fiery end bursting into a peppery sprinkle of sizzle and red. Java tripped him with his barefoot. Java decided not to wear shoes for the riot. Java continued to scream, "Ahy, ahy ba, ba, ahey, heyyyyyiii." Java didn't make since. Word out that he was high and out to attack anyone that would stop him. "They will open all the cell doors soon." Java ran up to Roberto's cage and began chanting nonsense. "Ahy, ahey, ba, bay, ahey, heyyyii." "What is he saying?" Roberto asked. "I don't now. Nonsense. He's pissed." Roberto hopped off the top bunk and walked toward the cell bars. Jackson face grew closer in as if he was a boy again about to tell a ghost story at a camp out. Jackson reached for him. Roberto backed up and grew hot, and red like the flames growing before him from the hand crafted torches. "Revolt Roberto. You either with us or against us." A moment of silence arose. The only sound Roberto could here was the sizzling ends of Jose, Java and Jackson torch. "What is it Pace?" It was Jose asking this time. Jackson sent over two sharp series set of eyes as if he was saying I support the Spaniard that stands beside me. "What do you mean with you or against you. I'm not on any side. I'm just trying to finish up the book." "With us or against us Pace. Roberto make up your mind?" Roberto stood back from the bars and tossed a glance at the typewriter. All he could think of was the hundred of pages he had invested into The Criminal. Then, the title of the story singled him to answer. "I'm a criminal. I'm wrong. I know it. Hell, guys, of coarse I'm with ya." Then, screaming and cheering arrived down the cell block. "They have broken down the first riot gate. We are taking this damn place." Jackson instigated to Roberto that "this riot is for real. The riot is reality now. Once, the gates open this whole place is going to blow." The guards and the warden had shut down all the gates. When the riot team arrived on both ends the gates would be pulled up and the cell block doors would open along with the cell doors. Then, the riot teams would come in and take everyone with tear gas, stun guns, rubber bullets and riot nets. Most of the guards would sport full armor including flak jackets, helmets and armed with the new style assault, most likely police style shot guns, tear gas guns and a few m-16s. Jackson began showing off his knowledge in Literature class. Roberto had assigned a play written about the French Revolution by Peter Weiss. "There they are behind the walls up on the rooftops down in the cellars Hypocrites they wear the people's cap on their heads but their underwear's embroidered with crowns and if so much as a shop gets looted they squeal beggars villains gutter rats Simonne Simonne my head's on fire I can't breath There is a rioting mob inside me. . ." Jackson was quoting the play The Persecution and Assasination of Jean Paul Marat As Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of The Marquis de Sade. Jackson's voice echoed down the corridors and he vanished in crowds of billowing gray and blue smoke and ash. Roberto began to write during the fiery storm. Paper slid between the bars and he took doused towel from his small sink and slap out the flames to muddy ash. His bed nearly caught flame but he squeezed a wet towel over the flames and patted it out with a soaked pillow. He covered himself with a wet blanket and continued to type. "Riot, riot, riot, riot." Jackson dashingly appeared out of the ashy cloud that formed throughout the corridor. "WE'RE GOING TO TAKE IT MAN. TAKE THE WHOLE PLACE. THE PRISON WILL BE OURS." Silently, Roberto screamed THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN. THEY WILL NEVER LET US HAVE OUR FREEDOM. AND EVEN IF WE DID KILL EVERY LAST GUARD WE WOULD NEVER KNOW THE VALUE OF FREEDOM. "Perhaps, so." Roberto said. "Perhaps so."

What cannot happen, cannot happen if one belief is shattered. This is the curse of man. These words are an illusion for failures. They live by this words as a way out. It is an escape from the struggle of progression. What can happen is not what cannot happen and so on. Everything was possible. Mr. Spoil knew this. "Can't" is not a philosophy any successful man should live by. A successful man knows that anything is possible and there are no reasons for failure. There are no buts. No ifs ands and shoulda ,couldah or wouldahs. These are the formulas that drive men batty. I should of done this and I would of made it. I could do this and I will make it. Or I would of done this and I could of increased profit sales, or should of got a hold of my agent sooner and so on.

Perhaps it was Mr. Hairison's wife that appeared in the kitchen with the foamy milk running down the center of the floor. It was her. It was her ghost. That night Mr. Spoil woke up. It was freezing out. December had arrived. His toes were as numb as death and his toenails were the color of dry ice. His feet had been hanging out of the sleeping bag for too long. The cold was creeping up on him. Dried snot clung to his upper lip and his lips were stiff, hard and unmovable. He tip toed down the narrow winding stair case. Small family photos of Mr. Hairison, Gilda and their daughter hung along the brown, cheap panel enclosing the stair unit. He reached the last stair and flopped flat footed onto the icy kitchen floor. What he found was a unusual occurrence indeed. The back door to the kitchen was wide open. Snow flakes glided in and landed on top of the milky skin of the kitchen floor. Gilda had arrived again. Or Mr. Hairison left the back door open on accident. He figured that was not the case due to the extreme cold weather. Gilda had done it. She was in the house somewhere, dipping cookies in her ghostly milk jug and nibbling with her pale lips and trembling smile. She was odd to see last time. Far away, blue piercing eyes. Eyes like a dark blue sky in the middle of a July afternoon. Clear. Warm. Welcoming but dead. She was welcoming but dead. See, Gilda no longer existed. She had a reason for returning to her home. Many ghost come back to remember the small things, like coffee, a snack, or too look at a photo album or see a loved one open a present on Christmas morning. Gilda had a different reason. Mr. Spoil knew it. She came to tell him something. To deliver a message. Gilda was trying to tell Mr. Spoil something about Mr. Hairison. The milk trial was in the exact same spot. Only this time it was frozen. The jar was broken and shattered in the exact same configuration as before. Shattered all over, but not a drop to be stepped on. Most of the glass fell under the table or under the panel of the cabinets. It was odd that the milk froze this time. That was the difference. Last time, when Gilda arrived it wasn't as nearly cold. It was not below freezing like tonight. "Mr. Spoil. Is that what he calls you." Mr. Spoil's answer escaped his mouth with impedance, without turning. He did not turn around to face the ghost. "Mr. Spoil. That is what he calls you isn't it." The voice wined and crackled like the leaves in the shed eye of fall. "Yes. He calls me that." Mr. Spoil returned. The wind picked up and rattle the door. A few snow flakes landed and slid across the floor sticking to the dewy frozen milk. The voice arose with the rising gale. "How do you know my Husband, sir?" Again, he answered, this time with more immediacy, "He is sheltering me." "How long have you been here." "A few months. I work on the yard." Still, Mr. Spoil did not face her. "He will change you know. After the holidays, he will change. He will grow ill tempered and rude." "Mr. Hairison has been one of the nicest people I have ever met." Mr. Spoil insisted the ghost was wrong. "I've come to warn you. He is a killer." "Who?" "Your keeper." "I wouldn't call him my keeper." Mr. Spoil informed the ghostly voice. "He will hurt you. He has hurt me and many others. He was the reason I stand behind you so late in the eve." "What are you implying?" "He took my life. Mr. Hairison. My husband. He murdered me." The wind picked up to a healthy howl and the door fell shut with a enraging slam. Mr. Spoil spun around in a flash and the ghost was vanished. "Mrs. Hairison. Gilda? Hello." "Why are you calling my wife's name." It was Mr. Hairison. He was wearing his fuzzy blue robe, night slippers the shape of little bloodhounds, with bloodhound ears and holding a small flashlight with the beam square in Mr. Spoil's eyes. Mr. Spoil couldn't see a damn thing but pure white. The light warmed his eyes as he explained, "I didn't see your wife." He was afraid he was losing his mind. "I was just sleep walking. I call out sometimes too." "You said Gilda. And Mrs. Hairison. My wife is named Gilda Hairison." "Oh. Really. Well. Okay. I gonna head up stairs now and finish my forty winks." "Keep it down will ya. I know you sleep walk here and there, but try to keep it down. And no more crazy talk about my wife." "No problem, sir. Good night." "Tomorrow morning I'll have breakfast. Toast and eggs. Oh, Mr. Spoil." Spoil turned around before he could make it to the stair unit and escape the tension of talking about Mr. Hairison's dead wife. "Why is the milk on the floor again." "It feel there." "Did you spill it again?" "I guess I did it in my sleep." "You drink milk while you sleep walk too." "Sometimes." "Be a little more careful next time." Mr. Hairson tossed a dish towel on the icy milk trial and rubbed it to and fro with his foot. "I'll finish mopping in the morning after breakfast. Be careful with the milk. This is the second gallon I had to by this week." Mr. Hairison flipped the beam toward the side door and eventual wobbled into his bedroom. Mr. Spoil looked down at the icy trail of milk and followed it with his eyes. Then his sight line slowly lifted to the kitchen window over the sink. Gilda Hairison stood before the window, her face the color of blue velvet and her eyes as white as the snow. She stood there staring at him like a statue in the wax museum. "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." Her finger was brought to her lips. "He gets mad when you make too much knows. Tippy tooooooooooeeeeeee." She began to giggle. Mr. Spoil closed his eyes. The wind picked up. He opened them and she was gone. Only the snow fell where she stood. He made his way up the small staircase and to the small door to the small room. He opened it, walked in and checked around the room and closet. Last he looked under the bed like he use to when he was a small boy. No monsters in her tonight. The wind loosened a few ice cycles on the overhang panel near the rooftop. The shattering sound from the ice, tingled the hairs on the back of Mr. Spoil's flabby neck. As the ice sickles found impact on the sidewalk circling the house Mr. Spoil tucked himself deep under the covers and whispered a small prey. A cold one was on it's way. "God please protect me from these strange interludes. Please help me Lord. Protect me from this ghostly sight." Then, he began a long list of blessing for, "Bless my daughter, and Mr. Hairison daughter and dead wife, and loved ones. And please God let everyone have a safe holiday this cold season. Please help me understand why the hell Mrs. Hairson is haunting the kitchen and wasting her husband's milk." A small voice arrived in the back of Mr. Spoil's head. "Don't worry. It will all make sense in time. It all grows back. It all grows back." Was it God's voice. Was it Gilda's voice. Was it some Angel's voice. He couldn't tell. For all he knew he was losing it. But he trusted the voice anyway. "Don't worry. It all grows back. Everything grows back."

He noticed something about Gilda's eyes. They where sharp and blue. Very similar to Mr. Hairison front yard cat, as he called it. "Here. Skittles." That was what Gilda called the cat, "Skittles" like the multicolored candy with a rainbow of flavors. Skittle was pure white with a little patch of bluish brown near the top of her neck. It was an odd mark for a near perfectly pure white cat. "This was Gilda's old cat. Would you like to keep her up in your room?" "Sure." Mr. Spoil informed him after breakfast of milk, grapefruit, toast un-buttered and a banana. "I don't have a cat box so you'll have to let her out in the front tomato garden when nature calls." "No problem. Do you feed her." "Yes. Milk. And Fancy Feast. Usually she likes Lamb and Pork." "Hm. Okay."

Mr. Hairison let Skittles weave and plait through their legs as they polished off a few bowl of Kellog's Raisin brand and Nutty Nuggets. "You seem kind of stiff this morning Spoil." Mr. Hairison said with a strong voice. The milk had charmed his voice and made him almost purr when he talked. The cat hummed and sniffed and bit at Mr. Spoil's ankles as he underlined words in the newspaper for meaning and highlighted sections he wanted to discuss with Hairison when he returned from the snowplow.

Why thievery. Nothing belongs to man. No one owns anything. They pretend to own materials. The three most evil things in life is evil itself, materialism, and anything that leads away from the Faith. Belonging to something, owning materials, money and even ruling over others, may make the person feel taller. It may make them feel Godlike. It is a sense of hubris. The worse aspect of hubris. Man wanted to be God.

To own is wrong. Christ owned nothing. It is what made him God. The only thing he carried was God's love in his heart. This is what made him God. He was not selfish but giving. He was not threatening or demanding but selfless, and willing to sacrifice everything for the sin of man. He was barren and never planted his seed into women. He did not need to take over the world, or to become king. He didn't rule but teach. He only gave his hands to work and his hands to bleed for you and the next one that came along. This is rare in life. It is funny that he was crucified between two thieves. Thieves are the opposite. They take, steal and are selfish, but yet one of them will live forever in his kingdom and the other will burn in hell because he denied the faith before he exited the world. It goes to show the value of man. Thief or honest care giver it does not matter. With out the love of God nothing is possible. Nothing.

Tom went by his home in town. He lived on the edge of the main city. Near Downtown. His house was a small cottage, with redbrick. It looked a little like a ginger bread house but with red bricks instead of graham cracker crumb. He made his way to the back of the house. It was mostly boarded up. C city re-modelers had signs up to repair damages and to get her back in shape for sale. He made his way to the back garage where the garbage was kept. The house occupied his mother, his step father and himself. He decided to look in the trash bin to see if any trash was left and not taken out. He dug through and found two small trophies. One with Dacschie High school. Under it read Earlchk Reeds. His stepfatehr's name. The trophy read, Best Lineman 1975 Dacshie High School. He had not seen his mother or step dad in years. They moved away to retire in a place near Cold Town. Moved away to retire up north. Far North. "Best line man. 1975." That day Tom went on a jog through downtown. He passed the Gallery and walked in still sweating. He walked up to the vault and peeked in at the head of Mary cast in Gold. He figured the exhibit would only last a few more months until they'd take the head away. One lady sat at the piano alone and played Mozart's older pieces. She seemed transfixed into the playing of the score. This was a good sign. It was a self fulfilling distraction for the crime to take place. It was perfect that someone played piano. The music would cover up any preparations he had to make in the back room before nabbing the priceless head.

Mr. Hairison's daughter had arrived. She as dressed in a black and white single piece dress with narrow white lace. "Its so glad so see you, Father." She was a delicate being. Very thin. Her cheekbones stuck out in a stoic fashion and her cheeks were hollowed from the long walk from the nearby bus station. She must of walked, "Two miles to get her. I am already far under weight." "How are you." Hairison asked still in shock and flustered. "Fine. I'm working at a pizzeria in Chicago. Dues. It's a nice place. Been there a long time. They serve deep baked pizza, thin crust stuff. Pasta dishes and we even got a shrimp and crab fondue." "Sounds great. They got health, medical and all that." "Full benefits. Everything, dental, health, and even have 40k. It's a nice place." "Sounds great. You look good besides being awfully thin. Let me cook ya up something. How about some an egg sandwich and bacon." "Fine. But no bacon. I'm sick of bacon. Add cheese. Its good to see ya again Dad." Her name was Ann. Ann Hairison was just shy passed thirty four. Her birthday was two months ago in October. That made her a very valuable sign in astrology. She had charm, taste and looked out for others. She was giving all her life and never missed a day of church. She was the type of gal that could quote biblical verse over pasta dinner. She had been a waitress all her life. She felt serving others was a good deed. "But Jesus did." "Yes he did. But he also traveled and preached. Why don't ya get back in school and finish up your nurses license." "I have one more semester and then I can get it. I don't mind waiting though. It will take time before I get the RN license. I have to train at the hospital at nights and work lunches during the day. They got me in the ER." "What do you do." "Everything Dad. Sometimes I have to crack people's chest open and massage their hearts. One time a gun shot victim tried to beat me up he was in so much pain. We had to strap him down and inject him with two doses and then tie his head to the mat. He was out of control. He had taken too much speed. The ER room is like a war. A war to save lives. Its tough. At times I want to walk out but the pay is far better then measly waiter tips. I nearly starved at Duos last week because the Holiday bad weather had everyone shut in. The ER still was active due to the wrecks caused by the cold weather." Just then Mr. Spoil got out of bed. It was close to Six AM. The sun had not fully peeked it's yellow head over the horizon. Shadows stretched across the lawn and the moon was still out. "Is someone upstairs Dad?" "Yes. I have a guest." "What is his name?" "Mr. Spoil." "Spoil. Odd name. Is he spoiled." "Kind of. He works with the snowplow folk. And he'll cut lawn if he stays through the summer. He his a hired hand you could say." "Really. How surprising. I didn't expect a visitor. Can I meet him? How old is he? Is he young? He's cute, right?" "He may be cute but he is older. Around my age." Just then Mr. Spoil made his way to the end of the stair unit. He still had eye buggers in his eyes due to the sleep, and his face was puffy and out of shape. "Hello." "Mr. Spoil this is Ann. My daughter the future RN Nurse at Chicago's best hospital. She works in the ER room now." "I'm not a nurse yet. Just an ER tech. I help prep emergency beds and help the LVN and RN out in rush incidents. Your staying with my Dad?" "Yep." "Where are you from?" "Good question. Everywhere, I guess." Mr. Spoil tittered into the kitchen and lured to the coffee maker. He looked at it and then back to Ann. "Would you guys like coffee." "As you can see Mr. Spoil has found a home here." "I see. Are you the in house maid." "Maid." Hairison guffawed and patted Ann on the shoulders. "Sit, sit. Pour us a cup Mr. Spoil. We'll all get to know one another." Mr. Spoil poured three coffee cups to the brim. One cup had a Canadian Leaf under the brim and was colored red and white. The second cup was pure blue with white speckles from chips. And the third cup had a Aztec yellow fiery sun with a crescent moon hanging in the background. "I'm from the south." Mr. Spoil said. "Hot Town. Its near Warm Town but more south." "Your from Hot Town. Your kidding me." Ann said with a awkward little smile. "Hot Town. Wow. Bit cities in Hot Town." "Not really. Only Sun and Flat Land. Those are the only town." "What town are you from?" Ann asked sticking her nose under the steam and allowing it to rise on her thin cheeks. Then, she lowered her tiny lips to the brim and gently with gingering concentration, slurped a little up. "Where?" "I am from a little town south of Hot Town called Steam. Boy does it get steamy down there." "Is it near Sun town." Sun town was the most populated town in the south besides Heat city. "Its nothing compared to Sun or Heat but it has a few attraction." "How many people live there?" She asked as her father twisted the stove knob to hot and set the frying pan on the frame. He cracked a couple of eggs an let them spill flat, round and perfect. "Like what?" "I guess around three hundred." "Man that's smaller than Cold town. Three hundred." "Its hot in Steam." "What are the big attractions there. Let me guess, a library, courthouse and grocery store." "That's about it. Besides the small barber shop and the local gas station?" "Is it a Derrick 55." "Nope it's a Gas and Go." "Never heard of a Gas and Go." "They don't have em up here. I don't think." "Nope. You like yours sunny side up, scrambled or omelet style." "Doesn't matter you choice. Not picky." Spoil said wiping the coffee from the corner of his mouth. Time seemed to hang in the room like a stranger in a faraway town with out work. Ann scooted up in the chair and then placed her palm to her side. She seemed to ach. "How was the surgery." "Fine. No complications." "What happened." Spoil inquired. "Well, it's private." "She had her tubes tied." "You don't want to have children." "Not anymore." "What do you mean not anymore." Ann got up and walked to the sink. There was a dish with flakes of coconut cream pie clinging to the skin of the ceramic. "Dad you didn't do this dish." She began to scrub with lightning speed. It was obvious she was trying to change the subject. "Does Ann have children." The plate cracked in half as the question escaped his lips. "Shit dad I broke it." "Oh, it's just an old plate. Don't worry about it." "It was Mom's china." "Oh, it's just old. I got others." "I'm sorry Dad." Her eyes filled with an ardor feeling, as the burned decreased, water fell in thick drops, and she made her way to the back porch. "I'm gonna get the rest of my stuff." She stepped out in the patio and pulled out a pack of Marlboro Lights. She lit one up and took a seat on the porch bench. A cold wind caressed her face. It was as if Mother Nature was reminded her of the past and the lost one.

Tom planned his next move. A big exhibit was approaching and the Jingle Bell Run was on it's way. It would be the best time to nab the head of Mary. No one would expect a thief to runaway with such a holy object so close to the holiday season.

Why do I have to steal. He asked. Then, he fell into a past memory. He remembered the first time he returned home from the Big City. He was just turning thirty and finishing up a year of Grad School. He studied English and Art in New York. It was hard returning home to his bedroom. The room was haunting. It was the place he fell in love for the first time with his supposedly future wife. She left him to study art south Texas. He remembered the time they made love and held each other while listening to classical music. Now he was home with his mother and step father, Minyard Reeds. Minyard ate like a garbage disposal. Pigged out on everything he could get his hands on. Most of the time Tom had to go with out. Minyard was big on hiding food in his own bedroom, keeping it from the step son, Tom. He hogged life. He was a greedy man. A football coach at the nearby junior high. He hated to share. Tom remembered once when Mom and Minyard went to a seafood restaurant on the in Dallas. Mom tried to snatch some of Minyard's seafood plate. She wanted to taste his swordfish. "No. I hate that." Minyard whined. "No. I don't like when people eat of my plate." Tom was raised, as a younger boy, with his real father James and his mother to share food at the table and to even pass the plates around to taste food at restaurants. It wasn't common to eat off other's plates. That is what God taught us to do. But with Minyard it was a mistake. How evil. Tom thought. He won't even share his swordfish with my mother. Why? Why would he agree to become part of the family if he doesn't want to share. What is his motive? Does he take pleasure in starving others. In New York, Tom studied a play by the activist playwright Rebecca Gillman. She wrote many plays about racism. He was very interested in her work. Minyard was a proud racist and even had petite, black and terracotta paintings on his wall displaying the hatred of the south. One painting exposing a slight touch of salmon pink in the background of a small voter shack for southern farmers, revealed two southern rebels, dressed down in farmer outfits, sticking a set of muskets in a poor cotton worker, African, slave's face while he had just finished voting. The painting was a mockery, or a satire, of life if Blacks were allowed to vote during the Civil War area of the late Eighteen hundreds. He admitted to his racism and even called black people coons. It was part of the hate Rebecca Gilman had hit upon in her plays. Spinning into Butter and The Glory of Living dealt with hate and the sickness sometimes floating in the south. The Glory of Living brought attention to starvations, masculinity, rape and aggression to it's evilest state. It all mixes together. Hate spawns hateful actions. Racism is simply a symptom of a greater hate.

Why wouldn't he share. The young Tom thought. What is his motivation for being in the family. Is it to dominate. Dominate who. I am not even his blood. He was such a big eater, and yelled all the time, so bossy and rude. He was the worst of Stanley Kowalski and to top it off his father was once a minister. This man was bad. I am sure not every once of his soul was bad, but it wouldn't surprise me. Usually, every failure of his father becomes the opposite of his father. The like father like son is not always true. If his father was a man of Christ and he was the opposite, than he was a man of hate. So, was it the boy he wanted. Was it Tom. Was it some sick ritual, to get him to be worse off. Tom, sat before the TV as the Christmas Muppet special flared away on the tube. "You must be ashamed living with your mommy at the age of thirty. Life is going to be hard out there." He signified he was going to kick him out in the freezing weather of the holiday season. He was going to kick him out on his own and let him find shelter else where. "When you die." Tom answered back. That is how he answered him most of the time now. He had had enough of the hate. He had put up enough with the hateful man. "When you die, sir."

The motivation was clear. Very clear indeed. Minyard was shuffling in due to the hate and envy he had over the step son's youth. He wanted to be young again. He walked up to ten miles a day and had shed up to sixty pounds. He weighed lighter than he did thirty years ago coming out of high school. It was strange seeing this ex-football star, be so light. But the eating was not decreased. He continued to hog his plates and hide the food in the backroom away from Tom. Tom lost jobs over it. Tom had to skip breakfast because nothing was in the refrigerator. He had to eat lighter than the football coach. He had to go without. What is keeping this man's heart alive. Walking ten miles a day and eating more than a thirty year old is not going to increase the worthiness of one's health. The old man was going to have to slow down. Tom wasn't going to be the one to get him. Maybe he had a hold of mother nature, but he didn't have a hold of time. Time would get him in the end, he was simply winding the clock to tight. Any tighter he'd spring a sprocket and lose time altogether.

The step father never slowed in his gorging of his stout face. Even in his fifties he still hooked up a hefty sandwich with all the fixens: lettuce, tomato, mayo, beef, sausage and provolone cheese. Two of them to top it off and a walk around the block with the five dogs he illegally owned. The city only allowed three dogs per household. Minyard, owned five and a cat, a feline mother of two cats. So, it would have been five dogs and three cats, if the mother never lost her two babies to antifreeze and a snake bite. The area Tom's mom and Step father, Minyard, lived in was the upper north side of Fort Worth. About four miles north from the Main street and the courthouse. The city attraction had improved since Tom Burnet escaped to Hollywood in two thousand A.D. Now, the city had two Galleries, a brand new Modern Art Exhibit constructed and designed by a genius Japanese architect and artist and a small art movie theatre in the basement. The Fort Worth Modern Art Exhibit had New Yorks MOMA beat by far. When one walked into the exhibit their nerves were calmed with a luxurious water garden that stretched before them, reaching along a grassy lawn, allowing the pleased eye to gaze as a the visitor snacked on cheese and wine on the restaurant patio. The inside of the exhibit was hollowed, with various rooms on many different levels. It was like walking through an organized and well structured maze. The rooms were square and dungeon like housing the best local artist and even New York artist like Andy Warhall. His reprint of the multiple Marilyn Manroe hung on a giant wall. It was amazing for a Fort Worther. Millions and millions of hands helped put the great structure up. Billions of dollars were invested. Staircases appeared to your left and right leading you to different exhibits inside, paths opened everywhere that lead you to different hallways laced with kingly valued artful hands. The first time Tom visited he exclaimed to the well dressed security personal in suite in tie, "I feel like a well educated Rat in a cage."