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Early Out Early Out

In the summer of 1988 I was out of work and living in Las Vegas.  I was certified in Clark County but I couldn't get a massage job.

I'm hanging out with a kid named Les Fabri, a featherweight from Seattle.  I had met him at the Golden Gloves Gym and we started working out together and sparring.  He was a good little southpaw.  He had 160 amateur fights and won about 140; a two time US national champion.  He had lost out in the Olympic box-offs to Steve McCrory, Milton's younger brother, but it was close.

By rights I didn't belong in the same ring with him, save for he couldn't break an egg and I was a puncher.  So it worked out okay.  He was managed by Alex Fried, a Hungarian Jew who made jewelry and owned stores in the Imperial Palace and the big Hilton.

Fried had also managed a friend of mine from Vancouver.  Alex had a lot of money.  He also had a knack for ruining fighters.  He could get you the wrong fight at the right time, the right fight at the wrong time, or maybe the whole thing was wrong, wrong, wrong, for short money.  So Fried is sponsoring these guys and he stashes them at an apartment complex near Koval and Tropicana.

I'm hanging out there and in a downstairs apartment the door is open and there are a handful of people sharing a joint.  I partake.  The one girl, a pretty black lady, we start talking.  I'm telling her my recent history.  In other words, I'm out of work.  She is a blackjack dealer and also out of work.  She says, "Why don't you go to dealers school, they will give you money and everything."

I start hanging around this girl.  Plus, she can help me get pot.  I'm helping her and her friends out, with rides mostly, because I had wheels.

I take her advice and look in the yellow page -- COS, Career Opportunities School.  The first one I spotted.  I go there and take some bogus test, 6 + 7 + 8 = 21, right?

They tell me, "You're a man, you will deal craps" because a monkey can deal blackjack.  So you better have a pretty face and a nice rack, if you want the strip.  Or would you rather rot downtown?

There was a $1682.00 grant involved and a $2600.00 dollar loan, for three games.  My only question was, "How soon can I get the money?"  "Ten days."  "Where do I sign?"

This school had recruiters and they were scraping guys right out of the gutter.  The loans were federally insured.  The school got their money regardless of default, courtesy of the US taxpayer.  Every Thursday, guys would show up for disbursement and that was the last of them for another week.  They should have called it Crack Opportunities School.

The school eventually lost their federal funding; they had too many defaults.  Naturally I'm going to school, but believe me; you don't learn how to deal in school.  You don't learn shit.

I got friendly with a guy there, a Vietnam vet.  He had a milky left eye from a piece of shrapnel.  He told me he loved Nam, "All the drugs you wanted..." but they wouldn't let him re-up because of his eye.

The school secretary was a morbidly obese chain smoker and her daughter was also pretty hefty.

This guy, the vet, goes over to the New Thunderbird Motel after school one day and has a drink with the secretary.  Now he's telling me that he's fucking her.  I'm laughing, "Do you do 69 with her?"  Now he's laughing.  He tells me to, "Shut up!"  He says, "She bathes me and she'll do anything.  She licks my asshole."  Not that I needed to know that.  He tells me he wants to nail the daughter also.

The school money wasn't enough, so I got a job bussing tables at the Paddle Wheel, a little off-strip joint across from the Landmark, Howard Hughes' white elephant.  I ended up dealing dice at the Landmark two years later.  While at the Paddle Wheel, I got a job at the Tropicana, doing massage again.  So I had two part time jobs and school.

The school provided apartments for some of the dealers and it became part of their loan package.

I give the vet a ride home one day out toward Nellis.  When I get there, there's like maybe eight guys sitting around a table smoking crack.  It was my first time.  They had a glass pipe, a good one.  My turn comes.  They are coaching me.  I blow out and take it in very, very slowly, long and deep.

Then they tell me to hold it.  My heart is about to pop.  They tell me to let it out slowly.  A millisecond and the rush hits me, crawling up my spine and exploding in my head like an orgasm times ten.  I'm sitting down kneading my thighs and grinding my teeth and they're laughing because I am righteously lit, and I understand instantly why people turn into hardcore addicts off the first rush.  Because it is never again like the first time, and you chase and you chase and you chase.

That's it!  That's what I am.  I will try anything.  But this one time I really stepped through the portals of hell.  I struggled with that shit off and on for the next eight years.

The Tropicana turns into a fulltime gig, but it's a garbage job -- no money and bad working conditions.  The spa wasn't owned by the Tropicana; it was owned and run by Ken Mizuno a degenerate gambler who had baccarat markers for millions up and down the strip.  The only notable thing that happened while I was there was that one evening Rodney Dangerfield came in.  No one was around.  I was just attending for the other kid.  I gave him a towel and some juice and he stiffed me.

There was an assistant manager at the Tropicana.  We got along okay at first.  One evening there was an incident, can't recall what about.  I mean, I was fed up with that job and was about to break in on dice somewhere, anyway.  We had a verbal altercation and he fired me on the spot.  He was behind the desk.  Another masseur was there, a venomous little Cambodian dude who died of cancer a couple of years later.

I badly wanted to punch the manager in the head.  I mean, I had an internal conflict going.  I'm thinking, "I am going to jail..." but the urge to lay hands on this fucking guy wins out and I reach over the desk and give him a shot in the head.

He comes out from behind the desk and we're trading.  He's big, about six two, but he can't really punch.  I'm feeling inhibited on account of, "I'm going to jail...."

Finally he sits on me, tackles me, and I'm on the floor and he starts slamming my head against the mirrored wall.  I'm concerned about broken glass and also, it is starting to hurt, so I yell at him, "That's enough!"

Security arrives.  They escort me to the basement.  I got a slice over my right eye -- he was wearing a diamond wedding ring -- but it wasn't deep and they put a butterfly bandage on it.

They took my picture against a yardstick, "He's not pressing charges, but you're eighty-sixed.  If you come on the property you will be charged with trespassing."

I apologized and they showed me empathy.  They said he must have done something to provoke me.  Shortly thereafter I auditioned at a break-in joint called Little Caesars.  This was my first dice job.

Earth Epicenter Warbook Earth Epicenter: Warbook

I feel sort of blessed, on being able to write this story. I(t) created a side-universe with a complex trail that embraces immense distances, immense populations, and severe implications, including three known species, and the humanoids plight to remain existing. There is a cadre of main characters among humans and another among the Ohnis, the main alien opposition to humans. Both cadres are endowed with values and cultures that clash and have to coexist.

A thousand year peace between the Solards and Ohnis has been broken by an outbreak of inter-solar war. The Solards are a new Ice-Age Earth meritocracy with equality for all its citizens who follow a self-imposed strict code of conduct. The Ohnis are humanoid and an ancient autocracy with deep differences and separation between inheritance-nobles and slaves. In this far distant future, Humans adore beautiful fit bodies and need mandatory interactions to live longer. The alien Ohnis have a tail for pleasuring and with it can multiply satisfaction many folds. Drawn by mutual needs, the two cultures interact often.
That interaction is under threat because of fighting for terraforming resources. The two cultures are now at war, pushed there by secret government entities, and corporate interests on both sides.

A long waited Redeemer has appeared among the Ohnis, a gladiator, who against his own aspirations will fall prisoner to fate, faith and politics. Simultaneously, a special Solard has developed insurmountable amounts of knowledge at such a pace that it will change the future prospects of both Humanity and the Ohnis.
The survival of each of their civilizations intertwines in intricate nuances of drama, crisis, sacrifice and bravery.

Paul De Lancey - Eat Me Eat Me: 169 Fun Recipes From All Over the World

From the author of We’re French and You’re Not and The Fur West, De Lancey entertains supreme as he distills cooking to the simplest of terms—from boiling water (and identifying the stove) to preparing timeless classics from every corner of the globe including scrumptious Beef Stroganoff and Greek Wraps with tzatziki sauce. Every recipe is followed by hilarious tidbits, such as, ‘King Louis XV ate boiled eggs every Sunday. This practice ceased with his death.’

Eat Me is a cookbook spiced with comedy, leavened with silliness while still fully informative and functional. A great read for anyone's kitchen.

Embracing Hope Embracing Hope

Drew wrung his hands. Something else was wrong. Mitch had never seen Drew visibly upset. Even during those first days after Kendra’s death and throughout counseling, he had never displayed much emotion beyond sadness, loneliness, and the inevitable questions. But tonight, the young man’s discomfort was painfully evident as his eyes darted about the room and he pulled the coat tighter around him.

“This isn’t just about chapel, is it?” Mitch asked.

Long seconds of silence passed. Then, finally, “I crossed the line,” he mumbled.

Mitch froze. “What line?”

Drew’s hand scraped through his hair again. “With a student. I … I hugged her.”

Mitch barely heard Drew’s whispered words.

“She was upset … and about to cry—” He jumped up and retreated to a dark corner of the room. “I—I could be in trouble with my job. They fire men for this. It’s…it’s sexual harassment! She could press charges!”

Mitch followed Drew, his heart accelerating. “Take it easy. Don’t panic. Explain slowly what happened.”

Drew backed against the wall, his arms stiff at his sides, hands fisted. “I don’t remember most of it…just hugging her. I’m not even sure what we were talking about before.”

“Where did this happen? Who was it?”

Drew stared at the floor. “My office. I didn’t do it on purpose and the door was wide open.” He shook his head. “I can’t tell you who… I don’t want to get her in trouble.”

Mitch released the question, but he already knew the answer. “Was it Allison Bennett?”

Drew’s head snapped up, fear-filled eyes wide.

Mitch placed a firm hand on Drew’s forearm afraid his friend would run out of the house. “Relax. I know you. It wasn’t sexual harassment, and I’m sure Allison realizes that, too.”

He steered Drew back to the couch. “You didn’t cross the line. You aren’t her professor. You aren’t her dean. You aren’t her direct supervisor. You’re both university employees and you’re both responsible and single adults.”

Drew twisted his ring. “I feel like I cheated on Kendra.”

“That’s a natural feeling. But it’s OK to move on, Drew, as hard as it seems right now. The bigger problem is you’ve been holding your emotions in too long and someday they’ll come out.” Mitch chuckled. “Actually, I think they leaked out this afternoon.”

Drew groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose. “This can’t be happening. It’s not right.”

“What do you think of Allison?” Mitch wondered.

His friend opened his mouth then closed it again. Was he even breathing? Finally, “I like her.”

“Obviously,” Mitch snickered. “Why?”

Drew looked up as if searching the sky. The silence stretched on and Mitch gave him a gentle pat on the back.

“Be honest.”

He inhaled deeply. “She’s genuine and honest. She doesn’t try to impress you or turn the attention on herself. She’s a bit negative at times, yet she’s also warm and supportive. But this afternoon, she was hurting, and I wanted to stop the hurt.”

“Do you find her attractive?”

Longing replaced the fear in Drew’s eyes. “Most men would.”

“I’m not asking other men. I’m asking you.”

“Yes. She’s pretty.” Drew picked at the top button on his coat. “She’s also confident, intelligent, pretty, and articulate.”

Mitch tucked his laughter away. “You said ‘pretty’ twice.”

Drew catapulted off the couch, brushed past Mitch, and headed for the door.

“Would you like to be in a relationship?” Mitch asked, catching up with him.

“No! It’s too soon.” Drew stared at the floor. “I knew Kendra since we were freshmen in college. That’s a third of my life. How can I toss her aside so quickly?” Drew tugged at his wedding ring, and seeing his distress jerked Mitch’s heart.

“Kendra’s death has affected every area of your life: your job, your health, your faith, your hope for the future. She will always have a special place in your heart, which is where she belongs.”

“I don’t want to forget her.” His hand reached for his head.

Mitch gently grasped Drew’s wrist. “Liking a woman—being attracted to a woman is not going to make you forget Kendra. But that embrace was a decision, Drew. You made a subconscious decision to reach out to someone you care about. You’re moving on so let God do the leading. Don’t freak out when feelings emerge. Don’t run from them. You’re a vital young man with a broken heart that’s finally starting to heal.”

Enlightened Enlightened

A wise person once told me: There’s a reason for everything.
Sarah Shaw — pulled off a cliff
Emma Blackstone — shoved out a window and trampled by a horse
Mattie Williams — stung to death by bees
Cora Thomas — pushed in front of a train
Edith Young — impaled
Rachel Ellis — shoved off a boat
Lois Smith — hit by a bus
Muriel Walters — UGH…another bus
Lucille Marshall — involuntary manslaughter
Veronica Edwards — undetermined
What do all of these names have in common? They all died long before they were meant too, and they were all ME. If there’s any truth to that saying at all, there had better be a good reason for this!


Escaping Infinity Escaping Infinity

I quickly flagged down one of the casino workers—I swear to you that it seemed to be a requirement for employment at this hotel that the women all had to look like they’d just stepped off the photoshoot for the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue—and the platinum blond pixie cut, would make any man quickly forget the throaty beauty in the café, whose name I didn’t bother to read smiled and pointed in the direction of the blackjack tables.
I hurried over, hoping to find Charlie, and grab onto the one lifeline I could count on to help drag me back from the edge and make some sense out of whatever the hell was going on. It wasn’t hard to find him at all once I got to the area; his booming laugh at some joke he’d just heard was a welcoming beacon to my ears.
When I got to his table, the first thing I noticed was a ridiculous number of chips piled up around his area of the table. Much like I had seen at the baccarat table earlier, it looked like everyone at the table was doing well but Charlie’s stack was approaching Mount Olympus in size. He was good at this game, I easily admit, but not that good. No one was.
The second thing I noticed was the enchanting young Carrie—still in her hotel uniform but her nametag was now gone—draped on Charlie’s right arm and looking like she was there to stay. That wasn’t the least bit ridiculous at all. He was good at that too, as I’ve mentioned before, and he really was that good in that arena.
“Hey, Pete,” he exclaimed when he saw me. “Pull up a chair and join us.”
“Not right now thanks,” I said. “Hey, I think they got our bags mixed up and one of mine is in your room. I was hoping you could let me in so I could get it.”
That seemed to me to be a perfectly reasonable explanation to get Charlie out of the casino where I could talk to him without any unwanted eavesdroppers. Unfortunately, my lifeline went and threw me the anchor and sank my plan in less than a heartbeat.
“No problem, buddy, here’s the key.” He flipped his room card in my direction with one of those Friday night goofy grins of his face that I knew all too well. “Just leave it in my room. I don’t think I’ll be needing it.”
Somehow, Carrie managed to snuggle even closer to Charlie than she had before. Even as I snagged the tumbling card out of the air, I tried to come up with some excuse, some pretense to get Charlie up and moving. But something in both of their expressions told me that it wouldn’t matter one bit what I said or did next. Charlie wasn’t moving from that chair anytime soon and when he did, he wasn’t doing it just to go off somewhere with me.
I’d lost my wingman, my lifeline and maybe my only hope of figuring out what had happened to us. Charlie turned back to the table, and his new girlfriend, without so much as another word in my direction and I stumbled away without any direction in mind other than to get away from the creature who’d once been my best friend.
Before I realized it, I found myself in an abandoned area of the casino, empty chairs stacked around a few unused card tables and standing face to face with Liz. How long she had been watching me, how much she had seen, I simply did not know. But there she stood with an odd, sad look in her eyes.
“Aren’t you going to ask me how you can be of service?” And I am sure there was more than a hint of bitterness in my voice, certainly more than she deserved to be on the receiving end of.
“No,” she replied without reproach for my tone. “At this moment, Mr. Childress, you are looking for any exit that will lead you back to the outside world. I simply can’t help you with that. All I can suggest to you is this—perhaps you are looking for the way out of here in the wrong direction.”
“What does that mean?” I asked in confusion.
Something from behind me suddenly caught her attention at that moment. Her eyes quickly flickered to whatever it was for a brief moment before returning to meet mine.
“Your room opens up to the central park,” she said after a moment’s pause. “We see so very few of our guests ever bother to go out and fully explore it. Perhaps you should visit it. You may find it to be peaceful and relaxing.”
She moved suddenly then, as if to walk past me without another word. But just as she drew even with me, her lips just inches from my right ear, I heard her whisper in a tone almost too soft for me to hear.
“You might even find it very enlightening, Mr. Childress.”
Then she was gone, moving on into the casino to engage some of the other guests in conversation. As I turned to watch her walk away, I noticed what it was that had distracted her earlier, what had appeared to make her suddenly cautious not only in what she said but how she appeared while saying it.
Standing out there in the middle of the casino, clearly scanning the crowd for someone in particular, was the hotel’s manager. But before he could look over in my direction and take notice of me, I darted toward a much darker area of the casino and eventually made my way back around to the entrance without him seeing me at all. For a reason that I could not put a logical explanation to, I suddenly had a very strong urge to be as far away from that man as I could possibly get myself and do it as quickly as I could.
Even within the seemingly limited, but very gilded, confines of this nightmarish trap that I found myself in.

Essex Valley A Quite Nice Little Town Essex Valley

By midnight, the rain showers had turned into a huge storm; thunder rumbled and lightning lit up the night sky as buckets of water poured down on Essex Valley. Stevie had gone to bed hours ago and Evan had fallen asleep on the couch, watching a late movie. A thunderclap directly overhead woke him with a start.

He climbed from the couch and turned off the TV, then quickly changed into pajamas and returned to the kitchen, to set the coffeemaker for morning.

Another lightning strike overhead, and the flash lit up the yard. He literally ran to the living room's front window, and peered through the shades, awaiting the next strike.

There was nothing in the yard but trees, bushes, the Ram and the picnic table.

Someone was standing in the yard, alongside the driveway, about halfway between the house and the street.

In his mind's eye, the silhouette was a male in a knee-length coat, arms to the sky and fingers splayed, looking like a demon from a horror film, clawing at the heavens. Evan ran for his revolver and flashlight, then threw on his boots without even tying them before running outside, into the almost pitch black deluge.

It seemed the storm was directly overhead; the thunder crashed almost the exact second as the lightning flashed. A violent storm, the rain pounded his face and the wind carried dangerous debris, forcing him to cover his eyes as he ran, and making it nearly impossible to see. The driveway, already long and narrow, felt like a race track, with no finish line in sight...

Eureka Eureka!

The fascinating inspirations behind common inventions and creations - from Barbie to Sweet and Low to Mt. Rushmore.

The slinky was born aboard a World War II ship.
The Barbie doll was inspired by a German sex toy.
Weight Watchers began with a Jewish housewife in Queens, New York.

Eureka! explores the fascinating stories behind these famous creations and many others-from blue jeans to the Taj Mahal to Mickey Mouse-detailing the relationships between inspirations and their inventors. Readers will delight in the intriguing-and sometimes surprising-origins behind the ideas that have shaped the world.


Howard Feigenbaum-Excerpts From A Life on Planet Earth Excerpts From A Life on Planet Earth

Three days before the grand opening, a huge telephone company truck parked in front of my restaurant. Two men in hardhats emerged. One of them grabbed a jack hammer and began breaking up the sidewalk.
I rushed outside. "What are you guys doing?"
"We're diggin' a trench and layin' cable," said the one without the jackhammer. He gestured toward the giant cable spool on back of the truck.
"You'll be done in a few days, right?"
"It'll take about a month. We're going from one end to the other." He pointed several blocks down the street.
"I'm starting a new business. My grand opening is a few days away."
Within hours, dirt and broken concrete piled up, hiding the sign across the front window of my shop. Boards served as a sidewalk.
When you're operating on a shoestring, it doesn't take much to kill the enterprise. The objective now became overcoming and surviving.



Expecting Rain Expecting Rain

Benito then crushed his cigarette out on the pavement. I noticed it was half lit and still smoking. "When someone steals my property, I get very agitated. I can't sleep, break out in a rash and then I am uncomfortable. When I become uncomfortable I become unreasonable and you don't want me to be unreasonable." "No, I don't." I said. "Good just let me know what State he is in and I will find him. You will be off the hook. I know he is your friend but he is a rat and a low life. Now what State is he in!" He was now digging his hand into my left shoulder. I felt his grip, he was very strong. I loved Cliff like a brother but this was not my battle. "He is in New Jersey" I screeched. "Okay let's go Dobbs, have a nice day kid." I watched them walk across the street and get into a gray Corvette. As they drove away I felt my hands sweating. I got off easy. It wasn't me they wanted but I was the weak link. I also tried to convince myself that I didn't give up Cliff because I didn't pinpoint his location. I really did not know where he was and I think they knew that. They knew Cliff was smart. I told them he was in New Jersey but New Jersey is a big state. I must admit I was still frightened but I was more frightened for Cliff. I did not want anything to happen to him. I really believed these guys would hurt him.

"Hey Johnny, this is my only phone call so listen up. I have been arrested. I have killed Dobbs and Marquez." "What!" I said. "Yeah they came after me like you said they would. They worked me over pretty good. They beat me up but I was able to crawl over to my truck as they were leaving and pulled my dad's rifle out of the truck. I shot and killed them both as they were walking away."

Eye of Saturn Eye of Saturn

Felipe stood naked high on a hill overlooking the Andalusian countryside. Unseasonably wild, blustery, icy cold winds caused tree limbs to thrash about violently. The chilled night air had stiffened the blades of grass, coating it with a heavy frost. Even though the air was bitter cold, Felipe could not feel it as it blew hard against his chest. Nor could he feel the frost covered blades of grass, crackling beneath his feet.

“It’s not possible. It’s just not possible to turn a man into the undead. I must be having a nightmare. That’s the only plausible explanation,” he said, giving a sick laugh.

A flash against the sky sidetracked Felipe’s thoughts. His eyes trailed upwards to a honey-colored light emitting from the heavens—it was Saturn’s all-seeing Eye. The heavenly light intensified, transforming the night momentarily into day. In an instant, Saturn’s Eye closed
and the sky fell back into darkness.

Felipe’s skin felt boiling hot. He took the back of his right hand to wipe the sweat from his forehead, only there was no sweat to wipe. Haunting images of three winged she-demons taunting him and Lilith carving out his heart, flashed before him. Paralyzed by fear, Felipe stopped walking to examine his chest. His fingers carefully, searched his left side. He looked down, expecting to find a gaping wound. But to his surprise there was no wound—not even a scar. His chest had completely healed. Felipe breathed a sigh of relief.

“Okay, this proves it. I’m dreaming. There’s no curse. I’m not... I’m not a vampiro,” he stammered. “I just need to wake up.” He closed his eyes tight. “Okay, Felipe,
wake up!”

He opened one eye, then the other. But instead of lying in his bed next to Lilith, he was standing naked in the middle of a meadow. Felipe pinched himself hard on his left forearm. He felt no pain. His eyes widened. “Wake up! I said, Wake up!” He smacked himself hard across the face.
“Wake up! Wake up!” his voice cracked.

Felipe placed his hand back on the left side of his chest. Something wasn’t right. There was no heartbeat. He wasn’t breathing. Felipe sank to his knees, putting his hands up to his face in horror. He strained his eyes, but no tears would come. He looked up to the sky, with fashioning
prayer hands.

“Please, God, let this be a dream. Please don’t let me be dead or rather, the undead.”
Overwhelmed by fear, Felipe bolted to his feet and started running. He ran so fast, he couldn’t feel his feet touching the ground. He felt light as a feather as if he was floating on air. Then Felipe made a shocking discovery—he was not running, he was actually flying. Wings had
somehow sprouted from his shoulder blades and he had taken flight.

Panic-stricken, Felipe stopped flapping his wings. He plummeted to earth, crashing face down in the dirt, unhurt and feeling no pain. Frightened and confused, Felipe sat for a while on the grassy hillside. Without warning, a surge of power ran through his body.

Felipe blinked a couple of times and rubbed his eyes. His pupils refocused and he began seeing as though for the very first time. His eyes were able to penetrate the darkness as if it were broad daylight. He could detect heat coming off of the tiniest of insects. But Felipe’s heightened sense of awareness was not just limited to his sight, now all five of his senses were heightened.

Felipe’s hearing and sense of smell had dramatically improved. He could hear and smell blood pumping through the hearts of animals. Even though he was dead, ironically, Felipe never felt more alive.