March 6, 2004. Las Vegas Nevada
During the past six years John Farris has become a successful contractor. A rental agent finds his first apartment in Sin City Nevada. He likes the unit, but is appalled by what he experiences in the office.
John's new landlady is possibly the most obese person he has ever seen. Her complexion closely resembles
deluxe pizza pie with everything but green peppers. Two Yorkshire Terriers with pink bows, and
seven cats, are lounging on the gaudy faded carmine Victorian furniture. There is a large cage with two big blue and red parrots.
The room smells like there must be a giant kettle of boiling cabbage nearby.
From her motorized wheelchair the landlady smiles up at John with small perfect little white teeth.
She looks him up and down rudely. The look she gives him he can only describe as sickening because of what it seems to suggest.
John makes it through this distasteful meeting hoping not to see much of this individual in between his normal monthly visits
to the office for payment of rent.
All goes well for about a week and then John feels the first bedbug on his ankle as he wakes up. He has
no experience with these insects, but within three weeks they begin to bother him. The number and size has increased rapidly.
He finds he is beginning to wake up in the middle of the night from the attacks, so he gets some ant and roach killer at the
On the way out to work he sprays the entire bed and the area surrounding it. When he comes back at five
he ventilates the room before making dinner. That night there are even more bugs than before.
Next he repeats the treatment. This time he also uses a foggier to kill all hidden bugs in the entire
room. Poison must make these bugs horny because again the numbers only increase.
Next the fog treatment with some special "bedbug killer" sold only in big hardware stores. "Ain't messin
with em now - we're goin to professional strength" John says to himself. This new stuff must nourish them. Still they
John by now has got into the habit of waking up every two hours, sweeping the bugs into a small dustpan,
and flushing them down the toilet. Several more poisonings have had no effect. He doesn't want to tell the landlady because
of a clause in the lease agreement which has led him to believe that the management will turn his room upside down with their
John's accumulated bites have resulted in a rash all over his body. Apparently the bugs somehow poison
the blood. The rash causes him to scratch. This cuts him slightly in places and the smaller bugs gather to drink the blood
droplets like tiny piglets at a trough.
The weeks pass and John begins to suspect another level of poisoning from the bugs - some kind of neurotoxin,
because his right leg has begun to seize up. Many creatures secrete chemicals like anticoagulants or anesthetics to aid them
in easy uninterrupted bloodsucking, but why would there be neurotoxin?
John has experience with sciatica and now renews his physical therapy exercises. At night when the
leg spasms, he gulps large glasses of water and takes extra Vitamin B-50 tablets. The problem abates temporarily whenever
he does this.
Sometimes John thinks that he shouldn't be so adaptive to this vileness and simply move elsewhere, but
he is otherwise very pleased with this residence and has, after all, managed to avoid unnecessary contact with the landlady.
Besides, who says there won't be bedbugs everywhere else? Several weeks pass. The problem increases and with it the frequency
of his remedy.
Then one day a terrible fright. When John awakens, he can't move a muscle. Complete paralysis from head
to toe. He lies looking at the ceiling wondering if he will now dehydrate and starve. John sleeps naked with no covers and
soon the bedbugs begin to swarm all over him. Within two hours there is one about every square half inch. At this rate they
will drain him.
Hours pass, and then he hears his door being unlocked. The landlady comes waddling into the room completely
naked, like an shameful four hundred pound white duck. She stands glowering seductively down at John. A very frightening sight
"Well, Mr. Farris, or should I call you John?" she says as she tickles the bottom of his foot. "It looks
like I'm finally going to have my way with you. And my little pets are having such a nice feast. You have been an excellent
tenant, but this is extremely generous of you. Such hospitality! I guess you must be getting hungry yourself by now."
The landlady used to be a nurse. Within an hour John is all hooked up with a highly nutritious intravenous
solution and the requisite tubes inserted to drain off metabolic jetsam. "Your stay, of course will be a very long one, but
I know you're going to be very comfortable" she snickers savagely.
John has always been a courageous man, but at this point he must admit that he is extremely worried, and
even dreadfully afraid, about his future. "How can I turn this around?" he asks himself.
December 25, 2005 about 2:00 AM
The landlady is in a cheap, but strong, silvery wheelchair on a
high bluff to the north of Las Vegas. The entire area has been graded as it would be for the construction of houses. John Farris owns
this land and is driving a very powerful oversize metallic red all-wheel-drive pickup truck. He has it equipped with a light
duty forklift, special extra bright halogen lights, dual diesel-train air horns, and double high intensity loudspeakers behind
John turns on the lights and drives right up to within a foot of the
landlady. She is all but blinded by the lights. At earsplitting volume he exclaims "Well, what a splendid outing and what a splendid night. Appears like the shoe's on the other foot now, don't it,
gal? Being the fine generous man that I am, however, now that we've visited this lovely spot together, I'm actually going
to allow you to go your own way home and I'll go mine. Head on out now, but please do not continue to block the road this
way." As he says this he blows the diesel air horns. They are so loud that they nearly blow the landlady off the chair.
The landlady is afraid now and cries out "God, please help me!"
persists "Please now, please move out of my way!"
The landlady begins to move out towards the road. John swings
the truck around and comes right in on her again. He blows the train horns again and says, "Now there you go, blocking the
road again!" He revs the huge engine way up and bumps her wheelchair back slightly, blowing the horns and bellowing "Get
out of the road, please madam!"
Again she cries "Oh please, Dear God in Heaven, I promise I'll change!"
landlady has soiled her pants at this point, but moves again. Again John comes in on her, yelling "Please Mrs. Cunningham.
I'm trying to be reasonable, but you just keep blocking the road!" Again he blasts her with the diesel horns.
screaming scarlet face Mrs Cunningham invokes "God, I promise!"
John tries again and again to leave. Again and
again the landlady, now crying hysterically, contrives to block his way. This goes on for another hour, and finally John says.
"I'm sorry, I have tried to be patient, but I have to leave right now. I have a pressing engagement with destiny, and you
have left me no choice, Madame."
John drives around behind her. Using the forklift he picks up the wheelchair
and landlady, then speeds towards the edge of the bluff. When he stops abruptly just short of the edge, the landlady is catapulted
off the bluff. Four hundred feet below she splashes like a bag of rotten pudding on the jagged rocks.
Looking down John sighs, "By God, this is my finest hour. Thank
* * *
From Valdison's Personal Journal:
April 19, 2006. Mt. Ellen Vermont
"I stand poised in the wind looking down a long frozen slope which is far too steep for my
mediocre ability. The thick ice is covered with a thin layer of new powder which sparkles like billions of tiny diamonds in
the cold sun. I am in a place so high that I can see the Atlantic Ocean a hundred and fifty miles away. The terrain on each
side has sharp spikes of dead krumholtz and then slopes away so steeply that I cannot tell what, if anything, lies
As a dark cloud passes over the sun, I feels a fierce chill and suddenly Death, in his black
robe, appears at my side, points a bony finger down the slope, and seductively urges "Go ahead!" How grimly now I contemplate
the name of this trail, which in the safety of the base lodge had made me laugh - The Avenue of Corpses. "Oh, if only I could
just be safe and warm at the Naked Eye Cabaret, drinking a Brandy Alexander, and snuggling with one o' me little dainties!"
One week later, after a good rare prime rib at Jacob Wirth's, as I sit comfortably relating
my grim tale to an exquisite young beauty at the Naked Eye, how strangely my heart burns for the chill wind of the mountains
and the glamor of the snow."
the Head Wall
2006. Easton New Hampshire
In recent years I skied a resort which I will not name. I was
taking a shortcut, out of bounds on an unauthorized trail open only to paramedic ski patrol. Clouds had blocked the sun so
that the lighting was very uniform without shadow.
In a flat narrow area bounded by shrubbery I suddenly came upon a man's head in a transparent
plastic bag on the ground two feet to my right. The head had a prominent nose, dark brown hair of medium length, and eyes
closed very tight. A middle aged businessman I would guess.
A feeling of intense fear came upon me. Is there a grim woodsman advancing on me? Will someone cut off
my head to eliminate me as a witness? Will I be seen and blamed for this murder?
I looked in every direction. There was no one around. I skied briskly away from this frightening discovery
feeling very unsafe until I was well out onto the wide authorized trail and skiing down to the lifts for another run. I never
told anybody. I also never took that trail again.
All this time later I just now had the notion that perhaps with my urging they could make the trail public
and name it "Axman's Run".
2006. Easton New Hampshire
August 16 c 8:00 AM Leave for Salem
to visit my favorite Witches once more, since none of them have any intention of traveling to California. I have little
expectation of returning to New England. Visit Beth and Rachel first. They say they will miss me, but only a little. Lobster
pie with Gretchen at the Lobster Shanty. We spend the night with Britt who seems a little disappointed that I'm
Live at the Lobster shanty: Rachel says with loving eyes and a teasing
smile "Even if I were to visit California I would have much more exciting things to do than to spend three days in bed with
Garrett looks at her thoughtfully. He thinks to himself, “I love
her. Not the same way I loved Pam, but, in a different way, just as much, and I know she loves me...but there’s too
much ahead. I can’t let this interfere. Sometimes, I think I should ask her to marry me, but as a man of steel, I must
resist this mundane impulse. I can’t ask her to wait, but I hope she will.