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                                                                             A few of the many pics I took while in Viet Nam
                                                                ( click on image to enlarge)

    

 

I provide the following services:

 

*   Photo restoration - if you have a cherished old photo that needs restoration, I'll scan the photo, restore it with computer
                                           software then print the image on photo paper. My fee is $15 per hour.

 

                                   click on sample to enlarge

                                     
                                                   before                                                                         after

 

 

*  Custom collages - if you have some old photos that you would like grouped into a professional-looking collage, I can
                                        do that. I scan the photos at a very high resoloution, arrange them with my software per your instructions
                                        and print the collage on photo paper. The largest size I do is 16" x 20". I will frame the collage with the
                                        frame of your choice. I purchase my frames at Michael's in Hazleton. They have a website, so you can view
                                        their selection. My fee is $10 per photo plus the price of the frame.

*  Music transfer - I can copy the music from your old LP or cassette onto CD. My fee is $15 per LP ($25 for double album)
                                     and $15 per cassette.

 

                                            To inquire about the above services, contact Steve Thompson @
                                                            stephen.thompson1@comcast.net
                                 



A Very Short Collection

of Original Writings

By a Six-Foot Tall White Man

Stephen M. Thompson




Busy


They made their plans. They said their vows.
Their tomorrows soon became their nows.
But a brand new baby had other plans,
with his big bright smile and his tiny hands.

He always cried when they wanted to sleep.
The things that he needed were never cheap.
They worked all the time. They had to, they said.
And he learned that love was a pat on the head.

They bought him some toys and got him a kitty.
His first words were, "Mommy go to committee."
He had lots of friends, but they all were cartoons.
He wished he could hug them and show them his room.

His little heart raced at the end of the day.
That's when his daddy might have time to play.
But paying the bills kept him busy, dad said.
So they got him a movie and patted his head.

A neighbor dad taught him to hit the ball far.
He joined the school team and soon was a star.
But game after game, with a tear in his eye,
He searched for the face that never came by.

As the years passed, he became a young man.
And then at his father's casket did stand.
He gave him a hug and a pat on the head.
" I'm sorry I made you so busy", he said.


The Yak

Ring…ring…ring.

“Schwartz Veterinary Clinic.”

“I think my yak is sick.”

“Who’s this?”

“It’s…ah… Fred.”

“Fred who?”

“Ah… Fred…ah… Smith.”

“OK Mr. Smith, what seems to be the problem?”

“Well he’s layin’ here on the floor with his feet up in the air and he ain’t movin’.”

“Is he breathing?”

“I don’t know.”

“Could you check for me?”

“How do I do that?”

“Put your face close to his and if you feel warm air coming out of his nose or mouth, then he’s still alive.”

“Are you out of your mind? Did you ever smell a yak’s breath? It’ll damn near kill ya.”

“All right then, put your hand close to his mouth.”

“OK.”

“Well, did you feel any air coming out of his nose and mouth?”

“I can’t tell, his face is next to the heating vent and the heat is on.”

“Then move him away from the vent.”

“Are you friggin’ crazy? Do you know how much a yak weighs? I’ll sprain my damn back.”

“Then turn the heat off.”

“No way! It’s cold as hell outside – I’ll freeze my ass off.”

“OK then, is his heart beating?”

“I don’t know.”

“Could you check for me?”

“How do I do that?”

“Put your hand under his left front leg. If you feel his heart beating, he’s still alive.”

“OK.”

“Well, did you feel his heart beating?”

“I can’t tell.”

“What do you mean you can’t tell?”

“Well I’m just not sure. I mean I think it might be beatin’, but I can’t be positive. Maybe it’s my own pulse I’m feelin’.”

“Listen, I don’t know what more I can do for you Mr…”

“Oh that’s just great - so you’re just going to give up on my poor yak.” The man starts sobbing. “Poor Harry, I loved him. He was the only friend I had. We used to take long walks together and…”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you but you have to give me some more information before I can help you. How old is the yak?”

“He’s about twenty-five.”

“Twenty-five! That’s very old for a yak. I guess after spending twenty-five years together, you are very attached to Harry.”

“I’ve only had him two years,”

“You mean you bought a twenty-three year old yak?”

“Do you have any idea how much a baby yak costs? I’m on a fixed income here.”

“Did he have any physical problems?”

“Well, last week Colin Powell scratched him pretty good.”

“You mean to tell me that the Secretary of State scratched your yak?”

“No, Colin Powell is my cat. I wanted to call him Donald Rumsfeld, but my brother-in-law already picked the name for his water buffalo.”

“It sounds like you have a very interesting family.”

“We do what we can.”

“How did Harry get scratched?”

“Colin Powell got mad because Harry was usin’ his litter box.”

“You mean to tell me that you trained a twenty-three year old yak to use a litter box?”

“Damn right. It wasn’t easy either.”

“What did you feed the yak?”

“Baked beans.”

“Oh my God, that’s not the right diet for a yak. Didn’t he have bad gas?”

“I couldn’t tell – I eat lots of baked beans myself and I have sinus problems.”

“Could you bring the yak in?”

“Sure, I’ll just stuff him into the trunk of my compact car and I’ll see you in twenty minutes.”

“Listen, there’s no need to get sarcastic with me – I’m just trying to help you. Where do you live?”

“Well…ah…I live at…ah…500 Main St.”

“Wait a minute - 500 Main St. is the address of the Schwanzlicker Mental Hospital.”

“Sorry, wrong number.”

“Asshole.”

Ring…ring…ring.

“Pennypacker Veterinary Clinic .”

“I think my yak is sick.”

 

Channel Surfing

“…and thanks for tuning in. We’ve had some great studio audiences, but you guys are the absolute best. Today we have a special treat – Ronn Popiel is here and he’s going to demonstrate his new Ronko Cat Rotisserie. Let’s have a big hand for Ronn Popiel.”
“ Thanks, Shirley. It’s great to be here and what a great looking audience – especially that cute little blonde in the front row.”
“ Down boy - there’s plenty of time for that after the show. Tell me, Ronn, how in the world do you come up with these ideas?”
“ Well, Shirley, in the early evenings – after dinner – I’ll walk around my estate, smoke a few joints and the ideas just come to me.”
“ You are just a genius, Ronn. Well something sure smells good and it’s not just your aftershave. What do we have in the first rotisserie?”
“ Shirley, we have a couple of Siamese cats that are just about ready to eat.”
“ How many cats can you do at one time?”
“ I designed this machine to hold four large, full-grown cats or eight little kittens.”
“ Can you only do cats in the Ronko Cat Rotisserie?”
“ You know me better than that, Shirley. Versatility is my middle name. The Ronko Cat Rotisserie can handle a variety of small woodland creatures. You can cook six large squirrels, or three medium sized possums and, with my special rodent adapter, you can do fifteen chipmunks.”
“ Chipmunks, Ronn?”
“ That’s right, Shirley, and they taste just like chicken wings.”
“ How about the skin, Ronn. I would just hate to skin a cat or a squirrel.”
“ Not a problem, Shirley. You just shoot them, wash them off, put them on the skewers and pop them into the rotisserie.”
“ You mean you don’t have to skin them?”
“ That’s right. The Ronko Cat Rotisserie has a five-thousand-degree pre-cook cycle that singes off the hair and makes the skin a nice golden brown.”
“ You never cease to amaze me, Ronn. Well let’s have some of our studio audience come up and try some of this delicious cat. On tomorrow’s show, Roseanne Bar will be demonstrating her high-pressure douche machine and on Thursday’s show Pee Wee Herman will be talking about his new children's book, "Grampa Dexter Spanks His Monkey". That's all for today; thanks for tuning in and remember..."


Click


“… is brought to you by Uncle Wilbur’s High-fat, Low-carb Sugar-free Pork Loins. Once you’ve wrapped your lips around one of Uncle Wilbur’s loins, you’ll never try anyone else’s. On this week’s edition of “The New Yankee Workshop”, Norm will show us how he built this plywood coffin for his mother-in-law. We’ll be interviewing his mother-in-law to see how she felt about the project. Next week, Norm will be making a mahogany spanking machine for Anna Nichole Smith and his cross-eyed half-brother Amos will show us his collection of sticks from…”


Click


“… or have you been bitten in the ass by your neighbor’s rabid dog? Did a careless surgeon leave his briefcase in your abdomen before he stitched you up? Did a half-asleep tractor trailer driver plow through your new sunroom and scare the shit out of poor grandma? Well my friend, you need the legal services of Bendem Over & Screwem. Last year, a drunk plastic surgeon turned a thirty-year-old woman into an Alfred Hitchcock look-a-like. Who did she call? That’s right – she called the legal beagles at Bendem Over & Screwem. The woman, although ugly as hell, is now driving a new Bentley and living in a mansion in Boca Raton. Remember, we don’t receive any fees unless you receive a settlement. I’m Benjamin Screwem and I want you to call the number on your screen and ask for…”


Click


“… Canfield Wilkerson reporting live from the war in Lower Slabovia. The allies thought they would have a cakewalk here in Lower Slabovia, but I’ll tell you what – these damn Slabovians are as mean as a bunch of Turkish kindergarten teachers. For weeks now the allies have pounded the Slabovian rebels with rockets and bombs and Madonna videos, but this scrappy little group of soldiers refuses to give up. We’re going to go live to correspondent Winky Frumpoli on the western front with some breaking news. Are you there, Winky?"
" Canfield, We just received news of one of the most daring escapes ever. The savage rebel leader, Stewart W. Pickering IV, disguised himself as Janet Reno and waltzed right through a check point and into Upper Slabovia."
" Why didn't the allies stop and search him, Winky?"
" The soldiers said they were too damn frightened. There might be some good coming out of this war after all, Canfield."
" How's that, Winky?"
" Well, the allies noticed how cool and comfortable the rebel prisoners looked and asked about their uniforms. Turns out that the uniforms are made from a unique blend of cotton, Dacron, Banlon, argon and cannabis fibers. The uniforms look good, feel good and you can smoke them if you want to. We're going to go live to the eastern front with news of big trouble in the forward mess hall. Apparently, General Beauford Merriweather found some curly hairs in his shrimp scampi and he is a very unhappy camper. That mess sergeant is in deep shit. Let's see if Sergio Prescott is there. Sergio, Sergio..."


Click


“… just a perfect day for golf out here at the Megabucks Country Club. You know Bob, I’ve never seen Lion Fields play better – he is hitting that ball straight and long.”
“ Tom, I seem to remember his girlfriend mention something about being straight and long when asked about Lion.”
“ Bob, let’s try to keep our minds on golf here.”
“ Sorry, Tom. Well, Lion has to make a decent shot out of this sand trap to save par. He makes a good shot, but it looks like some sand blew back into his face. He’s rubbing his eyes and staggering around the fairway – uh oh, he just stumbled into the gallery and knocked over a nun.”
“ Did that nun just give Lion the finger?”
“ I believe she did, Tom. Now he’s headed right for the lake. He’s staggering around with his arms outstretched.”
“ He looks a bit like Frankenstein.”
“ He sure does. Oh no! He’s fallen into the lake!
“ That’s just awful. Look at him flailing around in the water – he’s really putting forth a good effort to get out of the lake.”
“ He’s a real fighter, Tom – always has been. You know, when he was a young man he was very poor and he used to practice driving the ball with his grandfather’s wooden leg. You always knew when Lion was practicing, because his grandfather would be hopping around town on one leg swearing like a sailor. I’m sure Lion will make it through this somehow.”
“ I sure hope so, Bob. Oh no! He’s gone under! Yep, that might be it for Lion Fields.”
“ I don’t think so, Tom – that young man has a lot of spirit. Wait! He’s surfaced! He’s up and thrashing around and yelling something. What’s he trying to say?”
“ I can’t hear, Bob – the crowd is cheering so loudly. Oh no! He’s gone under again. It doesn’t look good, Bob – the water is very still. Boy, that’s a damn shame - he was such a great golfer.”
“ He sure was, Tom and one of the best dressed.”
“ I’ll say, Bob – did you see how good his Nike Polo shirt looked just before he went under?”
“ I sure did, Tom. Nike has been a proud sponsor of this tournament for many years. Well, the crowd is heading back to their cars and the other golfers are heading to the nineteenth hole. Thanks for being with us and we hope you’ll join us next week for the Yassir Arafat Invitational at the beautiful…”


Click


“… if you call right now, we’ll throw in the “Hypercut” stainless steel hamster knife with the patented “Easy-Grip” handle, seventeen pounds of Colonel Sandor’s Deep-Fried Chicken Guts and a pair of chrome-plated handcuffs. But wait! That’s not all! You also get the No-drip Egg Sucker, the 200 Watt Laser Nasal Hair Trimmer and the Tom Arnold “Do it Yourself” Proctoscope Kit. But wait...”


Click


“… and the police commissioner has made a public apology to ninety-seven-year-old Hattie MacPhearson for the strip search his men conducted while looking for illegal drugs. Hattie, a little shaken but smiling, said that the men, especially the guy with the size-thirteen shoes, could come back any time. We’re going to go live to reporter Tammy Frizzette at the Peter and Paul Penile Clinic down on Pennypacker Plaza with this special report. What seems to be all the fuss down there, Tammy?”
“ Well, Rocco, it appears that forty-year-old Charlie Stiff checked in for a routine penile implant and got a lot more than he bargained for. Doctors don’t understand it, but Charlie’s hung like an elephant on steroids.”
“ How does Charlie feel about it, Tammy?”
“ Rocco, Charlie said he’s had his ups and downs about the whole thing – mostly ups – but he’d just like to be able to leave his room without whacking his new hardware on the doorway.”
“ Ouch!”
“ That’s exactly what Charlie said. He’s getting more attention than Brad Pitt at a nudist camp.”
“ How’s that, Tammy?”
“ Yesterday he was examined by fifty nurses, ten Candy Stripers, seven Gray Ladies and a pair of Jesuit priests from San Francisco. Security has gotten very tight here, Rocco.”
“ Why’s that, Tammy?”
“ Well, late last night a couple of gay guys disguised as nurses sneaked into Charlie’s room and started giving him a sponge bath. After about fifteen minutes, Charlie got a little suspicious because the one nurse had a beard and mustache.”
“ You know, Tammy; sometimes life is stranger than fiction. Thanks for that
Report. Tomorrow’s weather should be very interesting – we’ll have a cold front followed by a warm rear. In the morning, expect basketball-sized hail and 200 mile-per-hour winds. By lunch, however, the sun should peek through those clouds and give us a gorgeous afternoon so get those picnic baskets ready and…”


Click


“… so folks we have a great show for you tonight. Dan Quayle will be doing a song from his new album, “Spell Bound” and Henry Kissinger is going to bring in ten pounds of belly button lint that he’s collected over the years. Later on in the show, one-legged Hoss McCoy will show us how he won the Hatfield County ass-kicking contest. Do you suffer from chronic diarrhea? Well help is on the way – try new “Sphincter Lock” from Tightass Laboratories. Folks, don’t go away – we’ll be right back with…”


Click


“… you lonely or depressed? Do you feel hopeless and unloved? Well my friend, Brother Barnes feels your pain. I want you to get out your checkbook and send whatever you can to old Brother Barnes and I promise I’ll send you a used handkerchief from my last crusade. When you get that handkerchief, you just dab away those tears and I promise you that your life will start to change. Since I bought the speedboat and the house in the Hamptons, things have been a little tight, so I want you to send the biggest check you can. And now, Sister Trixie Schwartz is going to fire up her organ and play that great old hymn, “Bringing in the Bucks”, I mean “Sheaves”. While Sister Schwartz is tickling the ivories, Brother Guido Buffano will be passing the collection plate. Just a quick note – Brother Buffano does have a license to carry that pistol. OK, Trixie, lets hit it – a one and a two and…”


Click


“… and in today’s headlines: GOOD HUMOR MAN SLAYS TEN; PEN PAL STABS PAL WITH PEN; LANCE ARMSTRONG DIES IN TRICYCLE ACCIDENT; and BIPOLAR POLICEMAN ARRESTS HIMSELF FOR IMPERSONATING AN OFFICER."

The world is mourning the death of Pope John Paul II who died in a tragic accident outside of Vatican City today.
In an effort to raise funds for the dwindling Vatican treasury, the Pope allowed himself to be shot from a cannon. He was supposed to land in the back of a speeding, specially equipped PopeMobile. Unfortunately, the Pope’s long-time driver and bodyguard, Tony “The Animal” Barzinni, had consumed a gallon of very inexpensive Chardonnay and was weaving all over the road. Horrified onlookers said that the Pope, trooper that he was, continued to smile and wave right up until he bounced off of Luigi’s burrito stand, flew through an open factory window and landed in a vat of Mama Capone’s Three-Alarm Spaghetti Sauce. The Pope’s last words, according to Guiseppi Capone, were, “It needs more garlic.” Miraculously, the Papal hat sustained only minor damage.

Well folks, it looks like they’ll be rewriting the history books again. It turns out that explorers Lewis and Clark were really two unscrupulous novelty salesmen named Humperdink and Lipshitz who made a fortune selling rubber tomahawks to mentally-challenged Indians. It makes you think, doesn’t it? Well, stay tuned for news about that meteor speeding toward earth, but first, Peggy Snicker is going to show us how to get those stubborn stains out of your underwear. This is Nick Lerch from Channel 69 Action News in beautiful downtown…”


Click



The Squirrel

This is a true story - I swear I'm not making this up.

I work night shift in a cardboard box factory and I also do part time roofing
and tree work with a friend of mine. One morning I went to drop off a roofing estimate. I parked my car in front of the man's house and
proceeded to walk up his sidewalk. I noticed a squirrel eating something on one of the man's porch chairs with his back turned toward me. I figured as
soon as the squirrel heard me, he would scamper off the porch and climb
up the nearest tree. Not so. The little gray rodent turned around, cocked
his head to one side and gave me (as best as I can describe it) the "Clint
Eastwood" look. I stopped (I never had a squirrel look at me that way
before) and waited to see what was going to happen next. The little bugger
jumped off the chair, ran down the porch stairs and headed toward me. I'm 55, 6' tall, 175 pounds and I spent a year in Viet Nam. You think some little
two-pound rodent is going to intimidate me? As I ran back to my car, I looked around to see if anyone was watching. I'm pretty sure my reputation was safe for the time being.

As I reached the car, the squirrel stopped. He became distracted by something in the grass - maybe an acorn or part of a low-carb Twinkie or maybe an old Nixon campaign button. I don't know what in the hell it was, but it's damn lucky for him that he stopped. I was just getting up the courage to tear that furry critter limb from limb. He ran into a neighbor's yard and I
figured it was safe (for him - not me) to try it again. I adjusted my
pants, threw my head back and walked up the man's sidewalk. I rang the man's doorbell several times with no response. Out of the corner of my eye I
noticed something moving in the grass to my left. I looked and, yes, "Rambo" the rodent was staring at me. He hopped onto the sidewalk and then onto the first porch step. I very slowly backed toward the brick divider that separated the man's house from his neighbor's (it was a row home). The squirrel slowly climbed the steps and walked toward me. There are times in a man's life when he has to make choices that might place him in a bad light. Sure, I could have chosen to fight him (and probably kicked his little squirrel ass), but would that have been the "Right" thing to do?

I quickly envisioned the confrontation: I assume my fighting stance (feet apart, knees bent, head down and fists clenched). The squirrel nervously runs back and forth looking for an opening. Suddenly, I'm distracted by an attractive lady walking by the house. The squirrel lunges and attaches himself to my face. His claws are dug into my flesh and he is gnawing on my nose. Unable to see, I stagger around the porch knocking over furniture until I fall over the wall and into the yard. As we wrestle, several neighbors begin to gather and I hear shouts of "Kill him!" "Kill him!" This boosts my confidence until I realize the crowd is really rooting for the squirrel. I finally remove the little bastard from my face. I have him on the ground now with both hands around his neck. He is scratching the hell out of my arms and I'm just about ready to pass out from blood loss when the game warden shows up. The warden slaps the cuffs on me as the angry crowd shout threats and vulgarities. As the warden drives me to the police station, I look out the car window and there's the squirrel. He's sitting up, head cocked to one side and (as best as I can describe it) laughing his ass off.

Back to the story. I had my reasons for not wanting to tangle with that cute
little guy. You see, I've always had a soft spot for God's furry creatures.
I mean Rambo probably had a wife and a couple of nice kids. Maybe he was caring for an elderly father with Alzheimer’s ("Rambo! I can't find my nuts!"). All right, so you're not buying the soft spot angle. Listen, I did what any self-respecting man would do in my place - I hopped over the porch divider, ran to my car and drove away. I look at it this way - any squirrel with the balls to attack a 6' man has got to be respected. I'm sure he had
a good laugh with his squirrel buddies over a few cold brewskis (or whatever it is that squirrels drink). Yes, my pride was hurt, but I could tolerate that better than stitches and a rabies shot. I'll never look at squirrels the same way again.


The Red Walls
(written 1990)


The red walls of ideology
Are crumbling for the world to see.
Where once oppression held men's minds,
The glimmering rays of freedom shine.


Gorbachev and glasnost ignited the fire,
And the flames in the east grow hotter and higher.
The system had failed the people she served.
You can't feed your children on bureaucrat’s words.


The infamous wall that Berliners bewailed
Can be bought by the chunk at department store sales.
Walesa has fought a most Nobel fight.
Solidarity is poised to set Poland right.


The Czechs are balanced and the stage is set
For Havel's greatest masterpiece yet.
Romania fell with a vengeful thud,
Her epitaph penned with Ceausescu's blood.


But new walls will rise and old ones will fall.
There's nothing new under the sun after all.
It's the walls in the hearts of women and men
That must be torn down, for the hating to end.




Don't Rust My Casket

Don't rust my casket with your tears;
You know these things aren't cheap.
And please don't stand there wailing on;
I'm trying to get some sleep.

You should have loved me while I lived.
Oh God, how I did wait!
My heart died long before I did,
And now dear, it's too late.

I fear that sorrows and regrets
Will your new roommates be.
Perhaps you'll pay more heed to them
Than you ever did to me.

Please dear, forgive my bitterness,
But I only had one life.
And I dreamed for us such love and joy,
Not heartache, grief and strife.

Now your life is yours to live.
Your time is yours to spend.
I will no longer hinder you,
Nor keep you from your friends.

And if you do find someone new,
And choose to take those vows,
Please promise that you'll do these things,
Please promise me right now:

Love that one with all your heart,
And hold her close each day.
Cherish, together, your moments of time,
For they quickly slip away.

Don't neglect the little things
Like holding hands and laughter.
The words "I LOVE YOU" mean much more
Before one dies than after.

Just two more things before you go;
Please hug, for me, the kids.
And blow to me one gentle kiss
Before they close the lid.



A Desert Far Away
(written 1991)


Blood and tears stain the sand
of a desert far away,
where sons and daughters,
and mothers and fathers,
are cast in war's grim play.

Again men choose who will win and lose,
by the measure of blood that is spilled.
But no measure is found
for the sorrow and pain
of those with loved ones killed.

Thousands of faces from myriad places
look toward some line in the sand,
and silently wonder
if their lives, so precious,
will be taken by some stranger's hand.

Silver falcons, bombs in their talons,
circle the skies for prey,
while great armored beasts
rumble and roar
as they prowl through the sand night and day.

The flames of hatred are fanned once more
for children yet unborn,
as we plant bitter seeds
for the next generation
of division, strife, and scorn.

Much has changed through the ages of time
except for the heart of man.
Many wars and deserts
has he placed in his path
by rejecting the Master's plan.

But the precious blood that stained the ground
on old Golgotha hill,
is the power of Christ
to change men's hearts
for those who seek Him still.






Mere Future Dust


The carpenter is truly a fool,
Who neglects ,in his work, to follow the rule.
And the baker's wares would rarely bring pleasure,
If, in his baking, he left out his measure.

In all of our work we are so precise,
To see how thinly, the inch, we can slice.
But the rest of our living we loathe to conform
To rules that would bind us to some moral norm.

The laws of nature we know to obey-
We know that to break them might bring pain our way.
And all of the creatures much lower than we
March to a drummer that no one can see.

So if we're all part of this old cosmic zoo,
Then doesn't it follow that we'd have laws too?
Laws that would help us to live with each other,
To respect and to love every sister and brother.

And not just the laws from the pens of men,
No matter how good their intentions have been-
But laws that are burned in the heart of each man,
That are part of our being, like our feet and our hands.

Laws for life's journey, to help set its course,
Laws handed down from a much higher source.
A thread of purpose in life's fabric is seen,
And the seeker of truth will find what it means.

Could one really believe that we're brought here at birth
To be mere future dust on this spaceship called Earth-
That life, so wondrous, and the Earth, so immense,
Were born of some mindless chain of events-

That our lives and our deaths are lost in a sea
Of some meaningless span of eternity!
To the eyes that will see it, creation is shown,
And from the creation the Creator is known.


Like an intricate sculpture, the world bears the mark
Of the hand of the Craftsman whose love was the spark.
And the food for our souls he placed in the pages
Of the book whose wisdom transcends all the ages.

He desires, forever, that with Him we'll be,
So He made us a road just our hearts can see.
He mapped out our journey so we wouldn't be lost,
And He paid for our way on an old rugged cross.





Rena’s Promise

The bitter fruit of Nazi hate
were Zion’s children made to taste.
How low the depths to which men fell;
how great the sorrow, tears and waste.

From humble Tylicz in Poland’s west
through the horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau,
two sisters proved what strength there lies
in a mother’s trust and a daughter’s vow.

For Rena and Danka freedom is sweet,
but not without old memories' pain.
From the years they spent in Hitler’s hell,
these scenes, in their minds, will ever remain:

The Synagogues closed; the holy books burned;
how Rena saved her father’s life;
Andrzej and Schani who held Rena’s heart;
a world of confusion, heartache and strife.

The moments forever etched on their memories
of a December morning and a final good-bye;
waving to Mama and Papa through teardrops ~
the birth of a promise and the will not to die.

A friend named Tolek, a family named Silber;
the nightmare trains to the Auschwitz gates;
branded like cattle with numbers for names;
the gas, the ovens, the cruelest of fates.

The freezing, starvation, beatings and lice;
the anguished screams the world would not hear;
Mengele, Taube, Stibitz and Drexler ~
faces of evil in a world full of fear.

The brutal march from Birkenau;
to Ravensbruk on the frigid train;
moved yet again to Neustadt-Glewe;
the only constants were death, fear and pain.


How thin yet strong the strands of hope,
the fragile links to life, unseen;
Rena’s threads were to be with her sister,
be numb, alert, invisible and clean.

Stronger than hate was the kinship of captives;
forever will these, in their hearts, hold a place :
Heniek, Bolek, Stasiu and Marek,
Emma the kapo; each fleeting embrace ~

Erna and Fela, Dina and Janka,
sisters through trial on death’s killing field;
Mama’s invisible hand of protection;
for an injured Rena ~ a heavenly shield.

Three years and more endured they the torture.
No braver than Rena were any who fought.
Her will, her heart and her love for Danka
were the only weapons this daughter had brought.

On the second of May, Nineteen Forty-five
there was no “Raus! Raus!” to wake them from sleep.
A lone SS guard, a hole in the fence;
then finally freedom was theirs to keep.

One final crossroads would these sisters face,
and a vision of Mama showed Rena the way.
“ Mama, I brought you the baby back.”
A good daughter’s promise was kept on that day.


Dedicated to Rena Kornreich Gelissen and Danka Kornreich Brandel ~
brave survivors of Hitler’s death camps


Based upon the book “Rena’s Promise” by Rena Kornreich Gelissen and Heather Dune Macadam






Mom

Only in a mother's heart
are known the depths of joy and pain-
to love and hold the precious child
that time will, someday, come to claim.

But distant as my youth may seem,
my mind and heart do often go
to where I’ll always call my home-
where love and care, I came to know.

To where you made the world’s best soup;
to boyhood games in neighbor’s yards;
to summer days at Chunky’s pool-
corn roasts, fishing, and playing cards.

I know my years on Briar Lane
did help to turn your red hair gray.
Forgive me, mom, for any pain
my growing up had brought your way.

For now I see with parent’s eyes,
and know what fills a father’s heart-
how deeply love and hurt can go;
how much of you, I am a part.

I know your life has oft been hard,
with many dreams left unfulfilled.
You did without, so we would not.
How many mother’s tears were spilled.

Too seldom have I said the words
for which a mother's heart does yearn.
Too busy have I often been
to help the hands that helped me learn.

But know that you will always be
the precious mom I love so much,
though life, with all its work and cares,
has kept our lives so out-of-touch.

Thank you, mom, for who you are
and all the love you’ve always shown.
May God protect and bless your life
till one day you are called His own.




To Old Friends and Classmates

We're not old enough for the rocking chair,
and we're not quite ready to sit and play checkers;
but it's been many moons since we cruised that old town.
It's been a long time since we called ourselves “WRECKERS”.

In our minds we're the same high school kids,
but the mirror, it seems, has become quite unfair.
For the image that it now chooses to send us
has a few extra pounds and a little less hair.

But the memories we share will always be with us,
though our reckless adventures be seen in new light.
Like the time that I and Henry and John
were "lucky" to TRIUMPH over death one night.

And more than once has my life been protected,
when as a young soldier in Nam, far away;
an invisible sentry was sent there to wake me
just moments before I'd have burned up that day.

Life's puzzle, for me, is not yet complete,
but these pieces have carefully taken their place;
and the shape they have formed is that of a cross,
and the message they've sent me is one of God's grace.

It's thirty-eight years since we walked Schwab's hallways,
and our minds and our hearts are not quite the same.
For we've become students in the classroom of life.
We've been through some struggles and tears and pain.

We all have our stories, our successes and failures.
There are things unforgiven and dreams unfulfilled.
There are so many questions that yet are unanswered.
For some, life's journey has been long and uphill.

But we're joined to each other, though perhaps not by choice,
and the hardships of one can be felt by the rest.
If there be any wisdom that I now can share,
it's that we have a Friend as we go through life's test.

I have often seen God at work in my life.
His provision, protection and love I have known.
His desire for us, whom He suffered and died for,
is to let Him prepare us for our permanent home.

To my old friends and classmates, whom I'll never forget,
may the presence of Christ become real in your hearts.
Though I seldom now walk down Weatherly’s byways,
my memories of life there will never depart.




Berks Through The years

From distant foreign lands they came,
with Swedish, English and German names;
joined by the French and Welsh to be
a colorful ethnic tapestry.

Formed and shaped by their dreams and works
the land would be known as the County of Berks.
A home for the names of famous men,
like Weiser, Boone, and the family Penn.

While braving life's hardships, and Indians, too,
their faith and their courage saw them through;
from the days when the fields were ripe with grain,
through the eras of canals and trolleys and trains.

Legions of workers from various trades
put heart and soul in the goods that they made.
From the fruits of the fields, when the work was farming,
to the wagons of Gruber and a forge called Charming.

In old Wyomissing, where stockings were style,
the great hosiery mill stretched on for a mile.
A bevy of industries assembled today
produce batteries, paint and bricks made of clay.

From state-of-the-art electronics and steel,
to plastics, sweets and meats for your meal.
And certainly not the least on the list,
the pretzel has added a tasty twist.

For the City of Reading, a new flag unfurled-
she's the "Outlet Capital of the World!"
Armies of shoppers march through her stores,
from the north and south, from the west and the shores.

When the shoppers retreat and the day turns to night,
Mount Penn is the source of a strange eastern light.
The Pagoda from some Oriental place,
like a bright red jewel, hangs suspended in space.

But Berks is more than just factories and stores,
it's the lives of its families, some rich and some poor.
It's a patchwork of progress and struggles and tears...
It is people whose dreams will shape future years.




Larry Snotter
“ Pull My Finger”

~ Mr. Dinglemyer and Frau Luftwaffe ~


It was Larry Snotter’s last class on Monday afternoon - English with Mr. Dinglemyer. Larry sat in the middle of the room, very anxious for the day to end so he could get back to his tree house. Sitting next to him, nervously fingering a candy bar in his pocket, was Larry’s good friend, Wilson Pounder. Today, Mr. Dinglemyer was excited about having a visiting student - Reginald Farkward. Mr. Dinglemyer was assigning words and having the students use them in sentences.
“ Mr. Farkward, would you be so kind as to give the class a sentence using the word pith.”

“Yeth, Mithter Dinglemyer.” Reginald stood up straight and tall and proudly delivered the following sentence:
“ My mother thaid that if I pith on the toilet theat one more time, sheeth going to thmack me on my ath.”

Mr. Dinglemyer put his head in his hands as the class erupted in uncontrollable laughter.

Suddenly, from down the hall came a faint, familiar sound - step..thud; step..thud; step..thud. The class grew deathly silent. The sounds got louder - STEP..THUD; STEP..THUD; STEP..THUD. Mr. Dinglemyer knew what it meant and went to the back of the class and froze in fear. In the doorway appeared a singular figure whose image struck fear into the hearts of even the worst students. It was Principal Luftwaffe. She stood 5’8” tall and weighed around 160 pounds. Her black hair was pulled tightly back and wrapped into a bun. Her angular face was frozen into an angry scowl and her suit held a striking resemblance to a Nazi uniform. She had large pointy breasts, a wooden leg, a thick German accent, and always carried a riding crop.
She walked into the classroom and leaned against Mr. Dinglemyer’s desk with her arms folded and her eyes narrowed as she looked around the room.

“ In case any of you does not know my name, I am Frau Luftwaffe.”

Suddenly a dog howled outside of the classroom. The entire class gasped and Miss Luftwaffe turned to the window with a scowl.

She pulled out a cigar from her inside jacket pocket and put it into her mouth. She took out a stick match, struck it on her wooden leg, and then lit her cigar. She put out the match on her tongue.

The class gasped and recoiled.

“If I’m not mistaken, I believe I heard loud laughter coming from this room. Laughing during school hours is considered insubordination. Frau Luftwaffe does NOT LIKE insubordination! You see my precious little boys and girls, this school had a serious lack of discipline. Society can not survive without discipline! When a school needs discipline, who do they call?”

“Frau Luftwaffe!” responded the entire class.

Again the dog howled and again Miss Luftwaffe turned to the window with a scowl.

“When I was a little girl in Germany, I had to wake up at three in the morning to milk the cows, feed the chickens, shear the sheep, plow the field and make butter. If I had the time, I might knit a sweater or two. Then I would make breakfast for my crippled father – he was a mime who accidentally fell into a shark tank after a night of heavy drinking. Apparently, the rumor about sharks being afraid of mimes was not accurate.”

The class gasped.

Frau Luftwaffe began to raise her voice and started pacing back and forth.

“Then I had to walk four miles to school, and in the winter time the snow was three feet high and my FEET would be FREEZING and the WIND would be HOWLING…!”
She got louder and the pacing became more frantic. She picked up a letter opener from Mr. Dinglemyer’s desk.
“ Then one morning I was attacked by a pack of wild dogs! They grabbed my leg and they were BITING and TEARING and BITING and TEARING…!”
Suddenly, Frau Luftwaffe plunged the letter opener into her wooden leg and then became very still. Her eyes were very big as she stared out at the class.

“Was that my wooden leg?” she asked the class.

“Yes Frau Luftwaffe!”

Again the dog howled.

“So you see my little boys and girls, I know the importance of discipline. And by the time you graduate, you will too. You will respect Mr. Dinglemyer and you will respect me. If you do not, there will be unpleasant consequences – I could have the cafeteria start serving healthy lunches.”

Tha class gasped and began to murmer.

Frau Luftwaffe stomped her foot on the floor and her right arm began to rise in a salute. She quickly grabbed her right arm with her left hand and lowered it to her side. She turned and walked out of the room, the step..thud; step..thud echoing off the walls.

After she left the room, Wilson yelled, “Luftwaffe!”

Again the dog howled.


~ Larry, Wilson & Gerry ~



Larry got off the bus and ran to his house. He yanked open the screen door and threw his books on the kitchen counter. “Hi mom, I’m home! Do I smell meatloaf?”

“That’s right, so don’t go snacking on junk. We’re eating in an hour. Wipe your feet, wash your hands and don’t pick your nose.”

“ OK, mom.” What Larry’s mom could do with ground up cow flesh was a thing of beauty. It made he and his dad drool.
Larry finished his supper and asked to be excused. “I’m going to the tree house to wait for Wilson. My homework is done – I did it in school”.

“ OK, but don’t be too late. And remember, don’t pick your nose.”

“OK, mom.”

Larry ran out of the house, picked his nose and climbed up into his tree house.

“You up there, Larry?”

“Come on up, Wilson.”

Wilson was 5’6” and weighed close to 200 pounds. He climbed up the rope ladder into the tree house and sat down huffing and puffing. “Snotter, when are you going to install that elevator? This can’t be good for my heart.”

“I thought you were supposed to be starting a strict diet.”

“Larry, it took me years to get hooked on burgers, chips, Twinkies and Coke. It’s gonna take a long while to get off that stuff. I saw a movie once where an addict is withdrawing from heroin – it was horrible. He was shaking and sweating and yelling. It reminded me of the time I caught my parents naked on the couch. There are some things a kid shouldn’t have to see.”

In the house next door to Larry’s, up in his bedroom, Gerry Blithers examined the GEORGE FOREMAN “DELUXE Do It Yourself Lobotomy Kit” on the table in front of him. He had saved $50 by buying a used kit from his cousin Horace. Horace told Gerry the kit had worked pretty well except for one small instrument he was unable to extract from his head. He said the migraines were becoming tolerable. Gerry had seen the TV ads for cheaper kits, but he wasn’t going to risk his sanity for the sake of a few bucks. After all, he wasn’t a total idiot. If the procedure helped him reverse the effects of the lightning, it would be worth every penny. Gerry had read in a tabloid magazine that, with this procedure, slobbering idiots had become rocket scientists. He knew there were lots of scams out there – he was no dummy, but this thing just felt right. Who wouldn’t trust George Foreman?

“ Gerry, what the hell are you doing up there? Get down here and help your mother wash the cat!”

It was Gerry’s father, Archie. The poor man had been born with three testicles and then lost one in a freak accident involving spurs, whipped cream, and a large, hairy Scandinavian woman named Helga. This was before he met Gerry’s mother. Some good had come out of that accident, though. Amos knew an official at his insurance company and managed to wrangle a year’s worth of free groin massage as physical therapy. “That year”, as Archie would tell Gerry over and over again, “was the best damn year of your daddy’s life.”
Gerry hated washing the cat – it usually took weeks for the scratch marks to heal. For days afterward, the cat would stalk Gerry, hissing and swiping at him. Once, the cat took a crap in his sneaker. Gerry was pretty sure that revenge was the motive – it was the first time he had ever seen the cat smile. After washing the cat Gerry went to the kitchen, grabbed a box of macaronis and went out into the back yard. He heard voices from Larry’s tree house.

“ How’s it hangin', Larry?”

Larry stood up and looked over the wall of the tree house into the yard below.
“ High and dry, Gerry.”

Gerry reminded Larry of a cartoon character – he had wild frizzy hair, a crazy look in his eyes and jerky, animated movements. Gerry had been struck by lightning several times and was on disability.

“Well, I better start plantin’ these macaroni seeds for mom. By October we ought’a have the biggest friggin’ macaroni plants on the block. We’ll be up to our ass in the stuff.” Gerry bent down and began planting elbow macaronis.

Larry and Wilson looked at each other and shook their heads.

~ The Adventure Begins ~

“Boy, Larry, that thing with Frau Luftwaffe literally scared the crap out of me. That’s one pair of underwear I’ll never see again.”

“You’re telling me. The whole school’s going to be in therapy for years.”
Suddenly, Larry got a very strange look on his face and sat very still.

“ What’s wrong, Larry?”

Larry didn’t answer
“ You OK, Larry?”

“Wilson, I can’t explain it, but I need you to pull my finger.” Larry extended his index finger toward Wilson.

“No friggin' way, Snotter. You’re going to leave one of those horrible meat loaf farts, and I’ll wind up barfing up my lasagna.”

Larry leaned toward Wilson with a steely glare. “Wilson, I’m not kidding. I don’t know what’s going on, but you’ve got to pull my finger now!”

Wilson had never seen Larry look like this before. He reluctantly reached out and pulled Larry’s finger. Larry broke wind and the boys were engulfed in a thick brown fog. “Damn you, Snotter!!”

When the fog cleared, the boys found themselves at a high school construction site behind a dumpster. After surveying their new surroundings, Wilson glared at Larry.
“ You know, Larry, I really don’t need this. I’m almost failing in school, I’m too fat for sports and I barely have enough pubic hair to make an eyebrow. I pull your stupid finger and we wind up in never-never land. I’ll probably die before I even have sex! Damn you, Snotter! Where are we?!”

“Beats me, Wilson, but I bet there’s a good reason for this.”

“I’m sure the Titanic victims said the same thing.”

“That’s the last time I plant those damn macaroni seeds.”

Larry and Wilson fell backwards. The voice was coming from inside the dumpster.
“ Larry, that sounds like….”

“It can’t be! Oh my God!”

The boys stood up and Larry opened the lid of the dumpster. It startled Gerry and he yelled out.
“ Larry!”

“Gerry!”

“Larry, what happened? Where am I?

“ You’re in a dumpster.”

“How in the hell did I get in a dumpster?”

“It’s a long story. Let’s get you out of there.” Larry and Wilson helped Gerry out of the dumpster. The three of them sat on the ground staring at each other.

Gerry pulled out a box of Tic-Tacs. “Mom got me these. They’re fer my breath. She said my breath could knock a buzzard off a shit wagon. Want some?” Gerry offered and Larry and Wilson each took a couple.
A truck and a car pulled up and stopped on the other side of the dumpster. The three stopped talking and crouched down. Two men got out and started talking in hushed tones. The two were Fred Fnarf, the construction foreman and Harry Yankit, the architect. The boys overheard the two men discussing risky construction shortcuts that would make them both a lot of money.
As the men walked toward the foreman’s trailer, Larry slowly stood up to get a look at the men. Fnarf was a tall, muscular man with angular features and a slow, lumbering, mechanical walk. Yankit was a short, thin, nervous little man with a pronounced hunch-back who drug one leg.
Larry sat down rubbing his eyes and shaking his head.

“What’s wrong?”, asked Wilson.

“I think I just saw Frankenstein and Igor.”

Larry grabbed Wilson by the shoulders.
“ Wilson, that’s it! That’s why we’re here! We have to make sure those two guys don’t mess up the school.”
Larry slowly stood up and looked around. No one was near. “Come on guys, follow me.”

They headed toward a busy street. Larry stopped a man and asked directions to the nearest police station. They took off in the direction of the station when they heard a police siren behind them. They turned around to see a squad car pulling over a car full of clowns in an orange clown-mobile. The officer got out of his car and slowly walked up to the clowns. Suddenly the four clowns leaped from the car carrying squirt guns and nerf bats. They soaked and assaulted the officer until he was lying on the ground. Then they hopped in the clown-mobile and sped off.

“Holy shit, Larry”, said Wilson, “that’s the worst case of clown brutality I’ve ever seen. Think we should go over and help him?”

“No, Wilson, he seems to be OK. I think the only thing hurt was his pride. Listen, we have to get to the police station pronto. Let’s move it.”

They walked into the Third Ward Police Station and began to excitedly tell their story to the first police officer they saw.


~ Blinky ~

“Whoa! Whoa! Slow down there fellas. So, you heard some guys planning to sabotage the new school did ya? Well, that sounds like a job for Detective Frump.”

He took them to see Detective “Blinky” Frump. Blinky was an older, short, chubby man with Coke bottle glasses and a facial tick. Blinky had been unofficially retired but didn’t know it. The department referred all the “screwball” cases to him.
The three sat across from Detective Frump as he tried to organize himself at his desk. He knocked over his coffee and a stack of papers, and nearly fell off his chair when the phone rang.
“ Detective Frump here. Ah yes, Mrs. Twit. Well I don’t have any new information but … you know we’re doing the best we…Mrs. Twit, these cat stealers are a very slippery bunch. I’ve been talking to…Well, I’m sure you’re very anxious to find Little Pussy.” Blinky cupped the mouthpiece and turned toward the boys with a grin,
“ I’m anxious to find a little pussy myself”. “Mrs. Twitt, I assure you we’re checking every lead and…I know, and as soon as we hear something, I’ll be the first to call you. Listen, there’s no need to call me names. Good bye!”
Blinky noticed that Gerry was winking at him. “What the hell are you doing?”

Gerry lowered his eyes and glanced from side to side.
“ I ain’t doin’ nothin’.”

“The hell you weren’t. You were winking at me.”

“Well, you were winkin’ at me.”

“No I wasn’t. I have a tick. It only looks like I was winking at you.”

“A tick! Holy shit, those buggers will suck the blood right out of ya.”

“ It’s not that kind of tick you knucklehead. My great grandfather ate some bad flounder in Italy many years ago and all the men in our family inherited this damn thing. Listen, we got to get moving here. What are your names and what’s your story?”

While Larry and Wilson were talking to Detective Frump, Gerry got up and wandered over to a large map of the city. Off to his right, Gerry noticed a lie detector machine with no one anywhere near it. He slowly walked toward the machine cautiously looking from side to side. When he reached the lie detector he observed that no one was paying any attention to him. He cautiously sat down in the chair and very discretely attached the electrodes. He slowly looked around once more and then turned on the machine. He decided to interrogate himself.

Gerry as the cop (he tried to look as tough and serious as possible): “OK scum bag, what’s you’re name?”
Gerry as Gerry: “Buck Naked.”
Gerry watched in astonishment as the needles zigzagged wildly across the paper.
“ Holy shit, this thing really works!”
Gerry as the cop: “You’re lying you dirt bag! What’s you’re real name?”
Gerry as Gerry: “Gerry Blithers.”
The needles maintained a steady close pattern on the paper.
Gerry shook his head, “Wow!” He narrowed his gaze and very slowly glanced around the room. No one was looking at him. He decided to put the machine through one last test.
Gerry as cop: “Last night, were you in the bathroom choking your chicken?”
Gerry as Gerry: He tried not to look at the machine, but sneaked a peek out of the corner of his eye, “Um…ah…no.”
The needles started to whip back and forth all over the paper and the machine began to vibrate. Gerry’s eyes got as big as saucers. He glanced quickly from side to side, pulled off the electrodes and tore off the chart paper. He nervously headed back toward Detective Frump’s desk.

“Well boys”, said Blinky, “sounds like we got ourselves a caper. I’m going to grab a bug and a tape recorder. As soon as I drain the lizard, I’m going to get my van and I’ll meet you boys out front.”

Down in the police garage, Harvey the mechanic was changing the oil in Blinky’s van. It was a 1988 Ford stretch van that was confiscated in a drug raid. Harvey was the cross-eyed son-in-law of the police commissioner. He mistakenly put a quart of Gatorade into the crankcase and proceeded to lubricate the doors and windows with Loctite.

“ My van ready, Harvey?” asked Blinky.

“Ready as it will ever be”, said Harvey.

Blinky got in the van and started the engine. He stepped on the gas and pulled away in a cloud of green smoke. He pulled in front of the police station and blew the horn. Larry, Wilson and Gerry got into Blinky’s van. Blinky opened the glove compartment and pulled out a “Clergy” sign and a Reverend’s collar.
“ This got me out of more jams than a fake heart attack.” He took off his tie and put on the collar.

“Why don’t you just use your badge and siren?” asked Larry.

“Captain Salvador asked for them. He said something about getting them gold plated. The other day I overheard him talking to someone about me, and he said I was a real “Piece-of-work”. It damn near brought me to tears. It’s nice to be appreciated at my age. Let’s go boys!” Blinky tromped on the gas and took off for the school.


~ Fnarf & Yankit ~

They arrived at the school. Blinky parked the van where they couldn’t be easily seen from the trailer.

“Detective Frump”, said Larry, “that’s the foreman’s truck next to the trailer. He must be alone - I don’t see the other guy’s car.”

“OK boys, here’s the plan. Wilson and I will lure the foreman out of the trailer and get him over by that pile of wood. Larry, when we’ve got him out, you sneak into the trailer and plant this bug under a table. Make it quick and don’t let him see you.”

Blinky looked at Gerry, “and you, curly – keep your ass in the car. Let’s do it.”

Blinky and Wilson got out of the van and headed toward the foreman’s trailer.
“ Are you sure this is the way we should be handling this Detective Frump?” asked Wilson.

“Young man, you don’t know who you’re talking to. I’ve been around the block a few times. I’m a highly trained professional law enforcement officer.”

Suddenly, a car backfired and Blinky fell to the ground covering his head. “Don’t kill me, please don’t kill me! Take the kid, he has money!”
Blinky waited for a moment then slowly got up and brushed himself off.

“You OK detective?” asked Wilson.

“Sure kid, it’s a little trick I use to confuse attackers. All right, we have these guys just where we want them. Stay behind me, keep quiet and learn from the master.”


~ The Bank Robber Nun ~


Five blocks from Panzini’s bakery, in a motel room, Wayne Funk finished shaving his face, shaving his legs and plucking his eyebrows. He then began putting on his nun’s uniform. He went to the mirror to inspect his face. He had soft features and a silky complexion, so he didn’t have to use too much make-up. He had seen much uglier women in his life, so he felt he had a good chance of pulling this off. He applied a little eyeliner, mascara, lipstick and a little rouge. He smiled and winked at himself and went back to the bedroom. He picked up a very real looking toy pistol from the bed and put it in his jacket pocket. Then he sat down on the bed to go over his plan and practice his woman’s voice. Just before closing time, he was going to rob the First National Bank near Panzini’s Bakery.
Wayne had reached the end of his rope. Within the past year, his wife had left him for her proctologist, he was laid off from his job as a doughnut hole inspector, and his son ran off with some new cult that worshipped Rush Limbaugh. He was out of money and out of options. He checked his watch - 30 minutes till “Go” time. He turned on the TV and started watching Oprah. “Wow, Dr. Phil’s on! He is one smart guy that Dr. Phil. If everybody listened to him, there wouldn’t be so many screwballs walking around.”

~ Blinky and the boys ~


Back at the school construction site, Blinky and Wilson walked up to the trailer door. A sign next to the door said “Foreman Fred Fnarf”
Blinky knocked on the door.
Foreman Fnarf opened the door.

Blinky: “Are you foreman Fred Fnarf?”

Fnarf: “Yef, I mean yes.”

Blinky: “That’s a very interesting name. Is it Scandinavian?”

Fnarf: “No it’s Italian. My great grandfather was Fabian Fnarfolini. They cut his name short at Ellis Island.”

Blinky: “Where was Fabian from in Italy?”

Fnarf: “Florence.”

Blinky: “What a coincidence. My great grandfather was Felipe’ Frumpagazzi from Florence.”

Fnarf: “Where was Felipe’ from in Florence?”

Blinky: “Fourth and Fresco Streets where Frederico Franzoni used to have his famous fruit stand.”

Fnarf: “Really? Fresco Street is where Fabian was first from.”

Blinky: “What did Fabian do?”

Fnarf: “He was a fresh fish foreman for the Francis Fazzio family.”

Blinky: “What kind of fish?”

Fnarf: “Flounder. Why?”

Blinky: “No reason.”

Fnarf: “What did Felipe’ do?”

Blinky: staring at Fnarf with his eyes narrowed, Blinky chose his words carefully, “He was a clown. It was the only work he could find after he ate some bad flounder and got a horrible facial tick.”

Fnarf: “Alright, enough of this, I’m a busy man. What can I do for you reverend?”

Blinky: “Well foreman Fnarf, I was wondering if I could have some of that scrap wood over there for a project at the church.”

Fnarf: “Sure, I suppose so. Let’s go take a look – some of the bigger stuff has to stay.”

They walked over to the wood as Larry snuck into the trailer and planted the bug. Gerry was so fascinated by the heavy equipment that he couldn’t help himself. He got out of the van and started wandering around. Larry made it back to the van, but Gerry was gone. Blinky shook hands with Fnarf and Fnarf went back into the trailer. As Blinky and Wilson got into the van, Larry was almost frantic.

“Gerry’s gone! We have to find him – he could be hurt or lost or…”

Blinky started to shake his head, “I knew that knucklehead was going to be trouble. Just calm down and we’ll try to figure something out.”

Just then, Yankit drove up to the trailer and got out of his car. He looked around cautiously and went into the trailer.
Blinky turned on the tape recorder. “Before long we should have all the evidence we need to nab these two birds.”

Behind one of the buildings, Gerry had climbed into the driver’s seat of a back-hoe. He turned the key and it started. “Holy shit!” His eyes got as big as saucers. He got afraid and started to shift the levers.

“What about Gerry?” asked Larry “We can’t just forget about him.”

They all got quiet as Fnarf and Yankit started talking. After about five minutes, Fnarf and Yankit had said enough to incriminate themselves.
“ That’s it boys. I’m going to call for help to arrest these two.”

“I’m going to look for Gerry” said Larry as he got out of the van.

“Get back in here!” yelled Blinky, but it was too late. Larry ran around a corner of the building and stopped in his tracks. A back-hoe was headed right for him with Gerry at the controls. Larry screamed, turned around and ran back to the van.

“I found Gerry. He’s driving a back-hoe and he’s coming this way.”

“He’s driving a what?!” exclaimed Blinky.
The back-hoe turned the corner and headed for the van. Gerry looked terrified.

“You know Snotter”, said Wilson sobbing, “I never pictured my death happening quite this way. I thought it would be either heart disease or maybe the gout. Sometimes I would picture myself getting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from a beautiful nurse just before I slip into a diabetic coma.”

“ Get hold of yourself kid!” yelled Blinky, “no one’s going to die if I can help it.”

Blinky started the engine and tromped on the gas. He headed in the direction of Fnarf’s trailer with the backhoe in pursuit. Just before the trailer, Blinky made a sharp turn. Gerry and the backhoe smashed into the trailer, knocking it over. Blinky stopped the van and the three ran over to the trailer to check on Gerry. Miraculously, the backhoe stayed on its wheels and Gerry wasn’t hurt.

Fnarf and Yankit, obviously dazed and shaken, began to crawl from the trailer.
“ Freeze you two!” yelled Blinky. “It’s time to tie these guys up and take them back to the station.” He ran to his van hoping to find some rope. There wasn’t any rope, but he did find a roll of duct tape. “You know, these two look a hell-of-a-lot like Frankenstein and Igor.” Blinky turned to Yankit, “You really should get that hump fixed.”

“What hump?”

“Never mind” said Blinky shaking his head.

They secured Fnarf and Yankit and got them into the back seat of Blinky’s van. Blinky sped away in a cloud of dirt and headed to the police station. He called the captain on his cell phone.
“ Captain, Frump here. We got Frankenstein and Igor and we’re coming in.”
The captain rolled his eyes and mumbled something to the ceiling.

“What the hell do you mean you have Frankenstein and Igor!?”

“Oh, sorry sir…I mean we have the construction foreman and the architect from the new school. They were cutting corners that would have put the students in danger. We have the whole thing on tape.”

“Frump, if you get me in trouble again your ass is grass.”

“Don’t worry captain, I won’t let you down.”

The captain put his head in his hands, “Why me, God? Why me?”

~ The Bank Robber Nun ~


Wayne Funk put on his granny glasses and left the motel room. He got in his car and took off for the First National Bank near Panzini’s Bakery. He parked the car in front of the bank and walked in. He walked up to the nearest teller, pulled out his toy gun, and handed her a note. The teller, a tough looking middle-aged woman with a whisky voice, read the note and stared at Wayne.
“ Listen sister”, said the teller as she leaned forward and glared at Wayne, “I got about three hours sleep last night, I’m having hot flashes and my damn panty hose are driving me up a wall. I’m fresh out of cash. You want money, find yourself another teller.” The teller started to walk away.

“Hey!” yelled Wayne, “Where the hell are you going? You can’t walk away, this is a robbery.”
Wayne frantically ran to the next teller window. This teller was a very young man named Tom Mendel who was obviously very frightened.
“ I won’t hurt anyone if I don’t have to. Just put all the money from your drawer into a bag and give it to me. Make it quick!”

Tom started fumbling around. “A bag…ah…I don’t seem to have a bag right here.” He yelled to the next teller, “Mrs. Finch, the nun needs a bag. Do you have one?”
Mrs. Finch was an older lady who was hard-of-hearing.

“What’s that, Tom?”

“I said the nun needs a bag! Do you have a bag for the nun!?”

“What bag of buns?” said Mrs. Finch, “This morning there were some bear claws at the coffee maker, but I haven’t seen any buns this afternoon. Yesterday, Sally Fricket brought in some rum balls that really knocked me on my ass. I’ll go look in the kitchen for you.” She got up and walked toward the kitchen.

“No!” yelled Wayne, “Don’t go! All I want is a damn bag!” Wayne put his head on the counter and started to sob. “I could have picked any bank in the city, but noooo, I had to pick this one.”

Two elderly ladies walked into the bank and observed Wayne crying at the counter. They didn’t see the toy gun.
“ Look at that, Gladys, I bet with all this church scandal business, the poor nuns barely have enough money to buy groceries.”

“It’s a crying shame, Tilly. It just breaks your heart. Let’s see if there’s anything we can do for her.”
They walked up to Wayne and Gladys put her hand on Wayne’s shoulder. Wayne was startled and whipped around to find himself face-to-face with two old ladies. They saw the gun and screamed. Gladys lost her balance and fell into Wayne. They fell to the floor with Gladys on top of Wayne.

“Get off me!” yelled Wayne.

“It’s a man!” yelled Tilly as she began to hit Wayne with her cane.

Wayne finally pushed Gladys off him and ran out the door and got into his car. The two ladies were in pursuit. Gladys stood in front of Wayne’s car and Tilly was rapping on his window with her cane.

Blinky happened to be driving past on his way to the station when he saw the confrontation. He pulled the van in front of Wayne’s car and walked over to the ladies.

“Reverend”, yelled Gladys, “This nun just tried to rob the bank and she’s really a man.”

Blinky got Wayne out of the car and realized that it was a man. By this time the tellers came out and explained what happened.
Blinky explained that he was an undercover policeman and arrested Wayne. He and the boys taped up Wayne and put him into the van. With everybody in the van, Blinky stomped on the gas, and his van lunged forward in a cloud of green smoke. Blinky called the captain on his cell phone again.

“Captain, Frump here again. I just picked up a nun. The nun’s a bank robber and she’s really a man. I should be at the station in a half-hour or so. Better have somebody ready to help process these birds.”

“Let me see if I have this straight, Frump…you’re bringing in Frankenstein, Igor, and a nun. And you’re telling me that the bank robber nun is a man?”

“That’s right sir.”

“You know Frump, I vividly remember the time you conducted a strip-search at that nursing home. Sure, some of the old ladies really enjoyed it and they wanted to make it a weekly activity, but I’m still taking heat from the mayor for it. And how in the hell did one of those old broads get my home phone number? Last week I got an obscene phone call I couldn’t believe. I had to take a cold shower and she must have been ninety years old. I can’t get the damn images out of my mind. Scary part is I was thinking about calling her back. Listen Frump, if you get my ass in hot water again I swear I’ll hang you by your family jewels in the lobby.”

“Captain, you can count on me this time.”

“That’s all I want to know Frump. I’ll sleep a lot better tonight.”
The captain calmly hung up the phone, walked over to the wall and began to bang his head against it, “no, no, no!”

Traffic was very heavy so Blinky decided to avoid the main roads. His route took him through a residential district. Larry thought he saw a familiar vehicle several blocks ahead, but he wasn’t close enough to be sure.


~ The Clowns ~


At the clown-mobile, Stinky (short and thin with a sad face and green hair) was changing the tire while the other three kept watch. Scratchy (short and fat with a happy face and yellow hair) was standing near Stinky.
“ Hey, Scratchy, I thought it was your turn to change the next flat?”

“Honestly, Stinky, I would but my gout is flaring up again.”

“You know Scratchy, you really have to get serious about your diet. Last year I gained about fifty pounds in the first three months. My cholesterol was over 250 and I was feeling very sluggish. After we attacked that group of senior citizens, I was out of breath by the time I got back to the car. My doctor was very concerned. I said “that’s it!”. I started to exercise. I switched to Lite beer. I started eating a lot of fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables. At first I thought the fruits and veggies were going to kill me – I damn near farted my brains out until my body got used to them. You have to make some serious changes Scratchy.”

“I know, I know.”

Booger (tall and fat with a happy face and orange hair) and Scabby (medium height, thin with a sad face and red hair) were discussing laundry products and investments. Booger was smoking a cigar and Scabby was drinking a beer.
“ How did you get your neck ruffle so nice?” asked Booger.

“I spent a good half hour ironing the thing this morning. I couldn’t respect myself if I didn’t look my best. I think that whole fabric softener thing is a big scam. By the way, the colors on your shirt are stunning. Did you switch detergents?”

“Matter of fact I did”, said Booger. “I switched to All-Tempa-Cheer. Couple of weeks ago I logged onto Consumer Reports and found out that four out of five Hispanic Protestant republicans chose All-Tempa-Cheer over the other leading brands. While I was on line, I downloaded a wonderful Martha Stewart recipe for poached striped bass. I’ll E-mail it to you when I get home. Hey, what’s with the damn stock market?”

“Beats the hell out of me. I moved most of my funds to CD’s and T-Bills. I took a real bath in the tech-sector. I even got sucked into an Internet scheme called “Clown-Clone”. They promised to combine my DNA with DNA from the original Bozo the Clown. Based on my profile, they would select a woman for Invetro Fertilization. When the child was born, I could adopt it. I sent in a sperm sample and $2,000 down payment and they just vanished. It took damn near a half-an-hour to get that sperm sample - I’m not as young as I used to be. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I think I may have sprained my wrist.”

Scabby put his head in his hands and started to cry.
“ It was too damn good to be true, Booger. I dreamed of holding that little baby - part me and part Bozo. I would have picked out his first little clown shoes. I would have taught him how to put on his make-up. I would have sent him to the best clown schools money could buy. You don’t know how many times I’ve cried myself to sleep over this.”

Booger put his arm around Scabby. “It’s OK buddy, I know how you feel.”

The clowns finished changing the flat tire, got back in the car and took off.


~Blinky and the Boys~


“ Blinky, could you try to catch up with that orange car way ahead of us.” Asked Larry.

“Why?” asked Blinky.

“I think it might be the clown-mobile we saw earlier. We saw a couple of clowns attack a police officer and they got away in an orange car.”

“You say some clowns attacked a police officer?”

“That’s right. They had Super-Soakers and nerf bats. The officer didn’t have a chance. It was awful.”

“Say no more.”
Blinky hit the gas and sped toward the orange car.
As Blinky got within two blocks of the car, Larry confirmed that it was the clown car.
“ OK you clown bastards”, said Blinky, “Let’s see if you think this is funny.”
Blinky caught up to the clowns and, after a few more blocks, the clowns realized they were being tailed. They sped up and so did Blinky.

As the two vehicles zig-zaged wildly through several neighborhoods, the clowns were hitting Blinky with all they had. His wipers were on full blast, but he could barely see through the onslaught of water from the Super-Soakers and water balloons.
Suddenly the clown-mobile swerved out of control and crashed right into a fire hydrant. The clowns were dazed but not seriously hurt as a fountain of water engulfed their car.
Blinky drove up to the scene and parked the van.
“ You have to love the irony of this.”

Blinky got the duct tape and proceeded to tape the hands of the four clowns and put them in the van.


~ Going Home ~

Blinky called the captain on his cell phone again.
“ Captain, Frump here again.”
The captain’s face became contorted with a mixture of anger and fear. He didn’t answer.
“ Captain, are you there?”

The captain managed to re-gain his composure.
“ Yes Frump, I’m here”, he said in a calm soft voice.

“Well sir, I’ve got a van full now. Just picked up four clowns. I’ll be there in about fifteen minutes.”

“Four clowns…so you just picked up four clowns? That’s great Frump, just great…so it looks like you’re bringing in Frankenstein, Igor, a nun, and four clowns?”

“That’s right sir.”

“Just making sure I heard everything correctly. Well Frump, you drive safely and have yourself a nice day now.”

“ Thanks captain.”

The captain paused for a moment then began to beat on the phone with the hand set. He stopped, calmly hung up the phone and walked over to the window. He opened the window and was preparing to jump out as one of his men stopped him.
“ Let me go! I’m finished! Frump arrested a nun and some clowns and…”

Two other policemen entered the room and helped to restrain the captain.
“ Thirty years down the crapper because of that damn Frump! I’ll kill him! I swear I’ll kill him!”
The captain began to sob as they led him out of his office.

As Blinky drove back to the station, he began to imagine the citations and awards that he was going to receive. In his distracted state, he failed to stop for a stop sign and was pulled over by a state trooper.

The state trooper walked up to Blinky and slowly examined the occupants of the van. The trooper’s face broke into a wry grin.
“ Well Reverend, looks like you have your own little traveling circus here.”

“Hello officer, I’m detective Blinky Frump from the Third Ward Precinct.”

“Is that so? Well I’m Wyatt Earp from Dodge City. Glad to make your acquaintance.”

“No, really…I’m working under cover and, as you can see, I’ve made quite a few arrests today.”

“You sure have detective, and pray tell, what did the big bad clowns do? Were they speeding in their little clown car? Did they step on somebody with their big clown shoes?”

“Well, actually, they were speeding. You see, they attacked a police officer with squirt guns and…”

“Oh they did, did they? And I suppose the nun here is a dangerous bank robber.”

“Wow, how did you know that? You see, we had just arrested the four clowns and were heading back to the station when we saw two old ladies and the nun having an argument outside of the bank but the nun turned out to be a man and…”

“Now listen reverend or detective or whatever the hell you are; I don’t know what you and your bus-load of screwballs is up to, but if I have to stop you again, your ass is in deep shit. Got that? Here’s your ticket, Frump. Now get the hell out of here. I don’t want to see you again.

The officer handed the ticket to Blinky, got into his car cursing and sped away.

“That’s the thing about us law-enforcement people”, said Blinky, “we’re like family.”

Blinky slowed down for a flashing railroad crossing signal. The barricades were still up and the train seemed far off, so Blinky slowly proceeded across the tracks. Unfortunately, the van stalled with a loud bang and a huge cloud of green smoke.

“That’s strange”, said Larry sniffing the air, “I smell Gatorade.”

Blinky tried, unsuccessfully, to re-start the van.
“ OK” said Blinky, “nobody panic. We have plenty of time to get out of the van. Everyone get out of the van and we’ll push it across the tracks.”
They all tried to open the doors, but all of the doors were jammed. They tried the windows, but they too were jammed. Everyone started frantically pulling on the door handles and shoving on the doors, but the doors wouldn’t open.
As the train got closer, Booger, Scratchy, and Scabby panicked and began yelling and crying.

Stinky yelled at them.
“ Look at you! Just look at you! And you call yourselves clowns? You disgust me. Where’s your dignity? Where’s your honor? Sure, pretty soon a speeding train is going to smash us right to hell, but if we’re going to die, we’re going to die with pride, like men, like true clowns.”
Stinky started laughing and shoving the other clowns. At first they didn’t respond, but eventually, it became contagious and all four clowns were laughing and shoving.

Yankit was yelling at Fnarf, “Fred, the clowns shouldn’t be laughing…it’s not funny! We’re going to die, Fred; we’re going to die! Make the clowns stop laughing!”

Wayne was praying, “Dear God, I’m sorry I robbed a bank with a nun suit on. If you save me I’ll do anything you want – I’ll become a priest or a nun or anything. I’ll join a monastery and take saltpeter for the rest of my life…”

Gerry was offering everyone Tic-Tacs, “hey, anybody want a Tic-Tac? They’re fer yer breath.”

Blinky called the captain on his cell phone and got the answering machine.
“ Captain, pick up! Please pick up – it’s me Frump! We’re stuck on the train tracks and the train is coming! The doors and windows are all jammed! The damn clowns are laughing like hell and we’re all going to die! Captain, pick up! Pick up!”

A detective walking past the captains office heard the beginning of the message and sat down to listen. He picked up the phone.
“ Blinky, you crazy bastard, where the hell are you?”

“Captain?”

“No, it’s detective Houser.”

“Where’s the captain?”

“Well, Blinky, let’s just say the captain will be putting together puzzles for a while. Who the hell’s with you – sounds like you’re at a party or something.”

“I’ve got Frankenstein, Igor, a nun, Larry, Wilson, Gerry and four clowns. Houser, I’m stuck on the train tracks and the doors won’t open! There’s a train coming and we’re all going to be killed! The clowns are laughing! Houser, what do I do!?”

“Blinky, you listen to me and listen good. The booze and drugs finally caught up with you. You need some serious help. Now you tell me where you are and I’ll get right down there.”

Blinky began to bang his cell phone on the steering wheel.
As the train got closer, Wilson sat back, closed his eyes and started to cry.
“ You know, Snotter, in about a minute a big-ass train is going to smash us to smithereens. They probably won’t even be able to identify us using dental records. But I’m not mad, Larry. Nooooo, why should I be mad?”

“Pull my finger, Wilson”, said Larry, but Wilson didn’t hear him.

“I guess I should be grateful”, said Wilson, “in some countries, fourteen is considered old. Some kids never get to taste a Bacon Double Cheeseburger or a pack of Twinkies. Yes sir, I guess I’m a pretty lucky...”

Larry grabbed Wilson by the shirt. “Wilson, I said pull my finger!”

“Hold on a minute”, said Fnarf looking very worried, “if you pull his finger, is he going to…”

“Damn straight”, said Wilson, “Larry’s going to cut one of his horrible meatloaf farts and we’re out’a here!”
Larry extended his index finger toward Wilson as the criminals pleaded for mercy.

“I don’t know where this is going to take us, Wilson”, said Larry.

“Too late now”, said Wilson, “let’s do it!”
Wilson pulled on Larry’s finger and Larry broke wind. The van filled with a thick brown fog and everyone started to cough violently.

Larry and Wilson found themselves lying on their backs in the tree house.

“Holy shit! I landed right on my box of macaronis.”
Larry got up and looked over the wall of the tree house into Gerry’s yard. Gerry looked up and saw Larry. He stood to his feet.
“ Hey Larry, I just had the weirdest dream and you were in it!”

“Gerry, are you OK?”

“I think so”, Gerry reached into his pocket, “Wow, I even have two boxes of Tic-Tacs now!”
Gerry went back to planting his macaronis.

“Larry”, it was Larry’s mom at the back door, “get your father and come in the kitchen. I made extra meatloaf and I want you to eat it up tonight.”

“I’m out’a here”, yelled Wilson. He climbed down the ladder and ran up the street before Larry could say goodbye.

“OK mom.”
Larry found his dad in the garage at his workbench.
“ Hey dad, mom says to come in – she has some extra meatloaf.”

“Don’t tease me Larry. You know how I feel about your mom’s meatloaf.”

“Seriously, come on before it gets cold.”

Larry’s dad’s eyes got as big as saucers. He put his arm around Larry.
“ Well son, how did your day go? Same old boring Larry Snotter kind of day?”

“Ya, dad, nothing too exciting ever...”
Suddenly, Larry saw a group of people running between two houses. It looked like four clowns, Frankenstein, Igor, a nun and a short chubby guy with Coke-bottle glasses. Larry squinted his eyes and when he opened them, there was no one there.
“ Wow.”

“What’s that, Larry?”

“Nothing dad. I was just saying that nothing too exciting ever happens to me.”




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