Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Gardener

The Gardener

She planted flowers in the spring
And as she watered she would sing
Then chilling wind blew through the trees
With piercing frostbite it would bring

As flowers then began to freeze
She saved them from the frosty breeze
And rescued them from driving sleet 
The nipping bite had failed to seize

Then summer brought a scorching heat
Evaporation did deplete
The water sources one by one
A searing death they all would meet

Before the ravages were done
She saved them from the burning sun
Then fed them with the greatest care
And watered them ‘til they had won

With generosity to spare
Compassion she would always share
Her constant work did not abate
She gave up more than most could bear

She nurtured them with love innate
Rewarded now with garden great
Resplendence she did cultivate
Resplendence she did cultivate

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I wrote this poem in 2006 (I believe) about my 2-year-old son. It was written in the style of Robert Frost's poem, Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening (Iambic Tetrameter). It was about the time I took literature in college so I must have been trying it myself.

There are good reasons that I quake
It takes such effort to be fake
In front of my sweet little tot
I wish I could just be opaque

He has to learn and learn a lot
His happiness is what is sought
There is so much he seems to know
How do I do that which I ought?

What will he do? Where will he go?
How will he learn, mature, and grow?
The things he learns he gets from me
My influence begins to show

He's mine for now but will be free
Soon he won't fit upon my knee
He is a sapling soon a tree
He is a sapling soon a tree

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chapter 5

Cammi ran east along US60. She was faster than the cars, much faster. She felt free. She felt light as she ran. She thought about her Taruhumara heritage. Perhaps she was looking for a source of comfort. She was looking for answers, but what was the question? She was able to run very fast, but she did not know how to fight. Tarahumara run from fights; that’s how they survived. Any time people came to make trouble, the Tarahumara did what they do best: run. But if she didn’t know how to fight, how could she exact revenge against these thugs? She would have to figure out a way. She couldn’t touch them. When she had tried to punch and kick them, they were unharmed.
She turned onto another freeway. She would follow the roads to the Copper Canyons. She decided to visit her grandparents' land. She hoped to find answers when she got there. She passed hundreds of Saguaro and Palo Verde on the way out of the U.S. She ran through cars and trucks and SUV’s and Semi’s and almost one motorcycle. She ran past the biker passing him on the left. She looked back over her shoulder half expecting him to have noticed her passing him as if he were standing still. But there was no sign of recognition; no head turn, no hand gestures, no change in speed. She was invisible.
There they were! The Copper Canyons. Her grandparent’s cave was down this canyon around the other and then on the left. She began run so fast down the near invisible trails that she felt like she was flying. She ran inside the old cave. Nobody had lived there for years. She walked through the dusty house. She noticed a clay bowl and paused to look at it; then a stick caught her eye. Revenge; she walked over to grab it. As she went closer, the stick fell over. She had kicked the stick! She reached down and picked it up. She picked it up! She couldn’t believe it. She picked up the stick and began waving it around. She found something she could use as a weapon. She could use on the killers, but first she had to test it further. What exactly could she interact with and how much interaction could she expect? She was almost to the entrance and she stopped. There stood her great grandmother. She called Cammi by her Tarahumara name, Acami.
“You can see me.” Cammi exclaimed.
“And you me.” Her relative replied calmly.
“It is just that I have been invisible to everyone since my spirit left my body earlier today.”
“You can talk to other spirits and we can help you to collect all of your things, all of your physical remains. Then you can move on to the next life,” her great grandmother said. Cammi paused for a long time before responding.
“I have to take care of... some other things before I can collect my things and move on to the next life."
“You only have four days and then you will be trapped between the two worlds forever. You do not want to do that.” Her great grandmother was making eye contact as she said this. Usually Raramuri do not look directly at others when they speak, so this was a clear sign of her strong feelings on the subject. Raramuri do not fight and are not pushy. Her grandmother did not forbid her from taking care of her "other business," but Cammi could tell that she did not have her support in the matter. 
“I should be able to get my other things done more quickly if you would help me with this stick.” Cammi wanted to be honest with her great grandmother. “Then I can come get my things and move on to the next life.”
“You think you have enough time, but it is harder than you think to go around and collect every bit of physical evidence of your existence. I thought I could make it, but I didn’t get everything in time. Now I am stuck between the two worlds forever.”
“Is it really that bad? To be in between, I mean.” Cammi said before she realized it had slipped out.
“It is ‘really that bad,’” her great grandmother said with a tone in her voice that suggested Cammi didn’t understand the ramifications of her decision.
“Well then help me,” she pleaded. “With your help I can take care of my problems, and eliminate some future problems for others. If I hurry, I'll have time to gather all of my things from this life. Then I can move on to the next life in peace.”
“We do not fight. Raramuri are runners; you know that. We run from problems. We do not make them worse by fighting.”
“But there is nobody to stand up for the others. Innocent people--good people--will get hurt if I do nothing.” Cammi was thinking again of her fiancĂ©, and anyone else they might hurt.
“I cannot help you fight,” her great-grandmother told her. She lingered a moment after the last word. She was struggling inside. The best way to save her stubborn progeny from making the same mistake she made would be to help her take care of any distractions so she could focus on the gathering her worldly effects. Cammi almost interrupted her because she started talking again so suddenly. “But I can help you learn how to use the stick as your father did, and show you how to throw rocks at small animals.” Her great-grandmother paused again then added, “What you do with this knowledge is up to you. I will not go with you to fight anyone. It is not our way.”
Cammi respectfully thanked her and they began to work on the skills of hunting, Raramuri-style. They practiced chasing mice through bushes by throwing rocks at them until they could not run anymore. They found a snake and broke its back with the stick. Cammi practiced these skills under the watchful eye of her great-grandmother who gave her pointers. The time was growing late and she knew she must go back to Arizona. She had business there. She knew she could practice a little bit more on the way. She would chase small animals from bushes and attack a few more snakes. She had to practice for the real thing. She had to make sure the killers would not kill again. She was grateful to her great-grandmother for her willingness to share these traditions with her, even with the knowledge that she would use them for the wrong purposes. Her great-grandmother would not accompany her on her trip, but her assistance was still appreciated. Cammi said farewell to her her great-grandmother.
“I want to thank you for helping me,” Cammi said.
“I wish you would reconsider. You should focus on getting ready for the next life, but if you must take care of these other things, do so quickly. Then hurry back. I will help you when you return.”
“Thank you,” Cammi said. She wanted to give her great-grandmother a hug, but that type of intimacy is rare, even among close relatives. Her thanks would have to be enough.

*     *     *
Cammi began to climb out of the canyons as the sun was leaving and the moon was coming. She sped up the mountain in the same light, quick steps she had used her entire life. She passed quiet trees. She jumped over a snake, instinctively relieved that it didn’t bite her. Then she thought of her stick. She decided to practice the techniques she learned one more time. She turned around and began to approach the large, brown serpent. Its rattle warned all trespassers of the awaiting response. She had a stick that was longer than its entire body and his strike would go right through her. She was not scared. She wanted to execute the moves perfectly. She took a deep breath and thrust the stick at the part of the snake that was far enough back to remain on the ground unmoved when the snake inevitably struck at the same time. She heard a crack and a squish. The snake fell limp. She had done it! She used the techniques she was taught and they worked. She felt bad not using it for food, but her spirit didn’t need food and she had to keep moving. She turned and ran out of the canyons and out of Mexico.  
            When she crossed into U.S. territory she was in a remote part of the mountains so she didn’t see a fence or outpost. It was a smooth transition in the mountains. She saw U.S. Interstate 10 and she knew she was in the U.S. now. She found it easiest to follow I-10 into Arizona. It was not as peaceful as it should have been. She was running directly into a beautiful sunset. The light was there, but the sun was gone. The clouds were a pinkish-orange. The desert can be beautiful, but she didn’t notice. She was too focused on the task at hand. She was reciting the house number over and over in her head so she wouldn’t forget. She was imagining how she would use the stick to take revenge. No, not revenge. She was protecting any future victims. She couldn’t be taking revenge. That is not the Raramuri way. She began to play it over and over in her mind, the confrontation that would end with killers being dead, no longer able to take innocent life. She passed so many Saguaro and Palo Verde that she couldn’t have counted them if she tried. The scenery had no effect on her. She passed cars barely noticing the people inside. She saw a sign that welcomed her to Arizona. She was getting closer. She stayed on I-10 as it headed up to Phoenix. She had work to do.
When she arrived at the residence it was empty. She looked around to pass the time. She confirmed that she could interact with the physical world using her stick. She fought the temptation to trash the entire house. She couldn’t tip off the person before he came inside and locked the door. Only then could she take care of him. She looked in every room in the house, opening cupboards with the stick and closing them after she had looked at the contents. She periodically looked into the front yard hoping to see the familiar blue SUV. It was getting late. The sun had long ago set and the streetlights were on. The clock on the stove showed 11:45pm. She heard a car pull into the driveway and ran to the front window. It was the next-door neighbor’s car. She wondered if she was doing the right thing. Then she again heard the sound of car tires. This time it was the blue SUV. The time had come.
Cammi wasn’t sure if the stick was visible to people in the physical world so she decided to act cautiously. She waited in the kitchen. Even if they saw the stick, the killers would be so far in the house that it wouldn’t matter. Keys jingled and the lock turned. The blond killer entered the house. He was wearing the green baseball cap with the yellow letter A on it. He was not the biggest or strongest killer. She stepped back into the kitchen a few more feet and waited for him to come around the corner. When she first saw his face, she swung at it with all her might. The piece of wood crashed into his nose releasing hundreds of little blood droplets. He stumbled back into the living room and she followed him swinging. After a few minutes he lay in a pile on the floor by the couch.
She let go of the stick and it made a twanging sound as it hit the hardwood floor. She gazed at the body not as satisfied as she had hoped. She wondered how she would find the others. Would they come here looking for him? She began to hope that he was not dead. She might need him to find the others. Now she would wait until he came to so she could follow him to the others. When he finally began making noises, the clock on the stove showed 1:17am.
The killer in the green hat groaned and moved his right hand. He shifted his head slowly at first, then jerked up and flinched. He looked around the room, right through her, and then slowly got to his feet. His nose was large and purple on the bridge. Blood was dried from his nose to his chin. He went to the kitchen, paused, then came back into the living room. He shook his head. She wasn’t sure if he was confused or still dazed from the beating. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I'm Better Than You

The U.S. is a meritocracy—the land of opportunity.
The rich, powerful, and famous are rich, powerful, and famous because they are better than you or me.

Paris Hilton is rich and famous based solely on merit. The same goes for former U.S. President George W. Bush, who is smarter than all other Republican challengers including John McCain and he is smarter than John Kerry. Or at least he works harder than them. That is why he achieved what he achieved. The rich, powerful, and famous work harder and are smarter than everybody else. That is why they are where they are and have what they have.

They certainly work longer, harder hours than the ordinary working-class citizen or working poor—like me. Like my parents.

My bilingual, computer programmer dad, and my multilingual resident-alien Belgian-implant mother worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known. They had 4 jobs between them. My father woke up at 3am every morning to do his paper route (I often tagged along) and then he worked minimum wage jobs during the day. My mother worked a minimum-wage job during the day and worked a janitorial job in the late evening after office workers had gone home for the day. I often went along, and so did my dad.

Even with all this, we had to get support from other means. I mean FoodShare, church support, and U.S. government welfare. My mother volunteered for a program called FoodShare that required a certain number of volunteer hours each week in exchange for cheaper food (not free, just cheaper). The local church leaders advised my parents that they had to exhaust all government welfare options before the church would assist at all. Of course, my parents complied. They wanted to feed their 3 children. They worked long, hard hours, but fell short each month. They needed a little extra help.

They didn’t spend extravagantly. We had a modest house in a poor neighborhood. We didn’t own a car. We didn’t have cable television. For part of my childhood, we had a black and white television so small that it makes iMacs look big. My parents didn’t smoke or drink or gamble. They didn’t waste money. All of their hard-earned money went to the basics: food and shelter. I didn’t even get new clothes or used clothes. I got hand-me-downs from a neighborhood family. I got what was left over after their 5 boys had worn them and were finished with them.

And my parents weren’t stupid either. My dad was a certified genius and held a Mensa membership. Still, all this intelligence was balanced with a social disability. He had trouble relating to people. He was brilliant, but challenged. Even though he technically qualified to collect social security disability, he chose to work, and he worked hard. He set a good example for me. Where was the American Dream for him?

As an adult, I have worked since I was 14 years old. I worked full-time and went to school part-time for 8 years to earn my BA in Organizational Management. My wife and I both worked for several years having 2 incomes to get by. When we had kids, rising daycare costs limited our options to one income with my wife staying home to raise the kids. She will be back in the workforce soon. Our youngest just turned 4 years old. When I was first married more than 10 years ago, I had to work 16-hour days to make ends meet. I worked full-time from 10pm until 7am every day before going to my almost-full-time job. Both positions were skilled trade positions. I worked as a CNA Certified Nurse Aide certified through the state of Colorado. Still it took lots of work to just make enough money to live. I didn’t have any luxuries or unnecessary expenses. Just a car to get to work. When I had kids, I had to ask for church help and government help during a time of tough trials when my wife almost died and the hospital bills nearly bankrupted us. And we had health insurance! Our insurance had exceptions and conditions. I had to pay several thousand dollars out of pocket before they would even begin paying for procedures. Then they fought every step of the way and tried not to pay for several life-saving operations for my wife. After the first 2 weeks of hospital stay, my wife had to be in and out of the hospital having surgeries for 6 months. She wasn’t allowed to lift our 3-month-old baby because she was restricted to only being able to lift 10 pounds. For a while, I felt like a single dad. And boy do I have respect for single parents. I worked hard every night until after 1am and then stayed up with the colicky baby for several hours.

Was I entitled to help from the government? No. Was I grateful for the help? Yes. How would my existence affect society if I didn’t have anyone to turn to? If I just became homeless and lost my job? What kind of investment was it by the church and government programs to keep my family off the streets and out of poverty? I am glad for the help. I was working full-time the entire time, but still made so little that I qualified for government assistance. I was technically in poverty. I needed a helping hand.

I have improved my earnings each year, but even after 20 years in the work force (almost 15 of which were full-time as an adult) I still barely make as much money as a starting school teacher. I have a few prospects and I’m up for a promotion at work. I hope they pan out. I am sure I will keep advancing slowly throughout my life. But where is my American Dream? Why do I have so little when I work so hard?

Millions of working poor are like my parents and like me. Why aren’t they rich, powerful, and famous? Millions of Americans are smarter than billionaires, but they are poor. Millions of Americans work harder than billionaires, but they live in poverty. Thousands of charismatic, hard-working, professionally-trained actors, musicians, and sports players are better than the ones with contracts and fame, but the well-trained, educated, smart ones are, for the most part, poor. Now, I agree that these last few examples of the entertainment industry are very subjective. But come on now, Vanilla Ice? I’m sure there are a hundred highly skilled but unknown rappers who would put Vanilla Ice to shame. Is it possible that the luck of being able to get your demo tape into the right hands might play a small role in whether or not you get famous as a musician?

Life is NOT fair. I don’t expect it to be. I don’t advocate taking money or things from some people to try to even things out or artificially make things more even. The U.S. meritocracy system is NOT fair. That is something I wish were different. If I run faster than the guy who didn’t train, I want to see me get the gold medal or first-place blue ribbon. However, I was not the fastest runner at my High School.

I was faster than 99.99% of my High School peers. I could run the mile in 5:18 and the 2-mile in 12:28. But I never won a race. Not one. Did I expect a ribbon? No. Did I expect a trophy? No. Did I complain or think that I deserved to win? No. But I will tell you, I was sure proud of my effort. I was proud of myself for running 10 miles a day in 105 degree weather. I was proud of myself for being able to hike so well that I once carried a person down the hill on my back, after hiking up the toughest hill in Phoenix. You know, the time when your quads are shredded and wobbly. Yeah, I was in that kind of shape. I could look at anyone in any of my classes and know that I was faster.

I had a friend who was so fast that he could run a 4:18 mile. He was one of the fastest runners in the state of Arizona. Did he qualify for a college scholarship? No. Then what chance did I have? None. Did I cry? Did I curse the world? No. I took out tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. That was the only way to go to college and I believe that education is key. So I worked hard for 8 years and EARNED my degree.

So why do I say the U.S. is not really a meritocracy? That it is not really the Land of Opportunity? Because the smart, the fast, the strong, the creative, the persistent, the hard workers do not get the riches, power, or fame. Why is that? Is it true that being born in a rich family or having parents or friends with good connections might play a role? I strongly believe that with hard work and intelligence Americans can IMPROVE their lot in life. They may move from lower middle class to middle class, but they will not get rich.

Even so, do I advocate taking money from the rich? No. Do I begrudge them their position in life? Actually, I don’t mind. They happened to get there or they worked their way there or a combination of the two. They deserve their position. I don’t give it to them. It is not mine to give. They are there regardless of my opinion. But don’t tell me they are better than me.

Don’t tell me they all worked hard to get there. Don’t tell me that poor people are lazy or don’t work hard. Don’t tell me that all poor people have to do to get rich is to work long, hard hours, or be smarter. There are plenty of smart people who are not rich. What kind of meritocracy ignores merit? What kind of meritocracy lets the fast and strong lose the race or contest, or lets the brilliant get beat out in the test? Can you tell me that not one person deserved to be at Yale instead of George W. Bush? Somebody didn’t get to go to Yale because he did. Where is the evidence of meritocracy in that? Did he really score higher on the SAT or ACT tests than his rivals? His “C” average speaks for itself. You can’t tell me that his father’s position had nothing to do with his being accepted over someone who was possibly more qualified. Yes, I said “more qualified.” Isn’t that the definition of meritocracy? The ones who work the hardest and deserve it most, get the prize?

Please don’t mistake this for me whining about not being further ahead in life. I will continue to progress. I work hard. I am intelligent, charismatic, persistent, kind, and I excel at communication. I doubt I’ll ever be rich, though. That’s not how it works. Did you know that the single biggest determining factor in a person’s socio-economic class is the parent’s socio-economic class? Almost all Americans end up either in the same class or the one above or below it. Almost no Americans jump from poor or working-class to rich or wealthy. Yes, it COULD happen, but how likely is it? Is it predicated upon hard work and persistence? No. Because if it were, I would already be rich and so would millions of other Americans.

I am not a douche-bag a$$hole like Adam Carolla, the millionaire, says about the 99% of Americans. I am not upset at the 1% who earned their living. I am not upset about the 1% who didn’t earn their wealth. I am upset with the Wall Street crooks. I am upset about the ones who broke the law, not just behaved unethically, but broke the law. I am upset about the too-big-too-fail banks who took our taxpayer money, but didn’t pay it all back (some didn’t even pay it back at all) and I’m upset at the banks who made and are making record profits and still not paying us back, you know, the taxpayers who bailed them out. At least the car companies we bailed out paid us back—with interest. We made money on that! The taxpayers made money for bailing out General Motors! 

I identify with Occupy Wall Street because my beef is mainly with Wall Street. I don’t hate or envy Bill Gates. I don’t wish I were Donald Trump or Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich. I wouldn’t trade places with them for all their money and fame. I prefer to work my way up. Even knowing that I may never be rich, I want to follow my own path, earn my own way. Just don’t tell me that the rich people who are less intelligent, less charismatic, and lazier than me deserve their riches more or that they are there based on merit and merit alone. Don’t call me lazy, stupid, or a douche-bag a$$hole because I am not as rich as Adam Carolla. And don’t tell me the rich, powerful, and famous are better than me, or anybody else in the bottom 99 percent.

I’m Raphael Workman and I am the quiet, hard-working 99 percent.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Running Into Trouble - Chapter 1

Chapter 1
            A woman sprinted up a narrow trail in the Superstition Mountains of central Arizona. She leaped over large rocks as she ascended the tan-colored goliaths. Her heavy breathing filled the early morning air as her sandals pushed desert gravel.  A light brown lizard scurried from atop a rock and settled under a bush. She didn’t acknowledge the small creature; there was no time. The Arizona desert gets quite cold overnight—cold to reptiles. Cammi concentrated on the summit. It was out of site, but not out of mind. She had learned to focus on long runs, especially with a race coming up so soon. This was a speed workout, not a leisurely jog. She pushed herself harder, knowing that this was her last hill-workout before the 100-Mile race in Leadville, Colorado next week. The summit came into sight. She dug deep. She had been pushing herself hard the entire way, but she still had a little left. She sped up, practically sprinting the last 300 yards. Her heart pounded. Her lungs ached. She loved that feeling; and she embraced the fatigue. This is it, she thought. With one last surge she reached the top and began walking immediately. The mountaintop was flat and, apart from cacti every few feet, quite clear. True to its name, the top of Flat Iron Mountain looked like an upside down iron. The flat area, roughly the size of a football field, curved on both sides and came to a point. Each edge was a sheer drop hundreds of feet down. She was alone, the way she preferred it. She was always heading back down the mountain before others arrived. Arizona was relatively cooler before eight in the morning. She would rest a few more minutes before heading back down.  From the summit she could see several miles in every direction. Houses were now only a few miles away; they seemed to grow out of the desert like weeds. Soon, they would creep right up to the edge of the mountain, but for now, Cammi simply enjoyed the view.
            Just as she was turning away from the edge a glimpse of motion caught her eye. A yellow convertible sped into the parking lot and skidded to a stop at the trailhead followed closely by a blue SUV. The blue SUV stopped directly behind the yellow convertible boxing it in. A large man in a red shirt jumped out and began running up the trail with three men in pursuit. The fleeing man kept looking back at the pursuers and stumbling on the loose dirt. One of the menacing figures pointed an arm up the trail and the victim collapsed immediately. A second later she heard a thunder clap. They immediately began looking around to see if anyone on the mountain had heard the sound. Cammi ducked then crawled away from the cliff. She couldn’t believe what she’d just seen. Her mind was racing. What could she do? She couldn’t go back down the trail to her truck because the killers were there. One of them began walking up the trail while the other two dragged the body toward the parking lot. It would be more than an hour before anyone could hike up to the summit, but it would be much sooner when someone would be able to spot her, identify her clothing, and know which direction to follow her. Her best chance of survival would be to get down the other side of the mountain or to find a hiding place where she could stay long enough for them to give up and leave. Just then she realized. She left her purse under the seat of her car. It contained her driver’s license. They had access to her picture and home address. Even if she managed to get away, all the killers would have to do to find her was to break into her car and find all her personal information. Panic began to set in. What should she do now? She knew she had a few minutes before anyone would be close enough to see her. She tried to think of her options, but her mind would not focus. Think! What would the killers do next? The two heading back to the parking lot were disposing of the body. The one heading up the trail was undoubtedly searching for the owner of the white pickup truck. Since all of the houses were miles away, nobody would park a car in that lot and leave it. Someone—who could report their crime or identify them—was on the mountain. For now she had a few advantages. They did not know she was alone or that she was a 5’5” 110-pound unarmed woman with no self-defense training. They also didn’t know what color her clothes were. She could maybe hide off the trail long enough for them to get tired and leave. With a group, however, they could split up and find her. Then they could look at her driver’s license and find out her home address. Her house! Her fiancĂ© was at the house. Would they hurt him? Would they use him to find the witness on the mountain? Oh God!

*   *   *  

            “Rick,” Bill called out in a gruff voice, “What does Lou want us to do?”
            “I dunno,” Rick replied. “He ain’t told me nothin’ yet. He just ran up the hill.”
            “Did you try his cell?”
            “Of course I tried his cell, stupid! He ain’t answerin’.”
            “F**k you,” Bill responded without bothering to look at Rick.
            “No, f**k you…” Rick was saying when his cell alerting him to a text message. The killer retrieved his phone and glanced at it before shoving it back into his pocket. “He’s goin’ to the top to find whoever owns the white truck. He wants us to use the mat in the back of the suburban to wrap the body in, just in case anyone shows up.”
            “Does he want us to wait here for him after we get the body loaded up?” asked Bill.
            “I dunno. Let’s just get the fat f**k in the suburban and then we’ll ask Lou what to do next. Too bad we can’t just leave him up there. He must weigh 300 pounds. ”
            “Too bad,” Bill said.
“Wait,” Rick interjected, “Grab the jug of water in the back seat. We need it to clean up a little.”
            “Alright, whatever,” Bill grumbled, but he obeyed. It was already 80 degrees at 8:00 in the morning. Both men were perspiring. It was only 150 yards from the parking lot, but the body would be difficult to move. As they drew near they were thankful that the body had rolled off the trail between two bushes before the blood began to pool. The water would wash away most of the blood and it would be difficult to spot in an hour after the sun dried the sand. The two men struggled to lift the body, but managed to get it back to the suburban relatively quickly after they figured out they could just grab the four corners of the carpet like a stretcher.
            “Now let’s call Lou an’ see what he wants us to do,” said Bill. The other man called the leader.
            “What do ya want us to do now? We got the body in the back of the suburban an’ dumped a bunch of water on the bloodstain in the sand. When the water dries…” Rick stopped talking and held the phone away from his ear. After the yelling stopped, he said, “Alright, I’ll tell him.” As he was putting his phone in his pocket, Rick explained the plans to Bill.
            “We’re gonna just leave the car here with a dead body in plain view?”
            “That’s what he said. He wants us to go walkin’ up and down the mountain helpin’ him look for anyone off the trail. Let’s move these cars.” Rick re-parked the suburban so it would look less conspicuous. Bill re-parked the yellow convertible. When they were sure nothing looked out of place, they headed back up the trail. Now that he knew they were going to have to stay for a while, Bill wished he hadn’t dumped all the water in the sand. Hopefully it wouldn’t take long and he could go home and have a cold beer. It was Sunday after all. What in the hell was he doing on a mountain?

*     *     *

            Cammi slid on some loose dirt as she made her way down the opposite side of the mountain. Nobody ever went this way, but she would have to. She had no other choice. Well, no safe choice. Her only chance was to make it down the East side and around the South end of the mountain. If she could get around the curve in the next forty minutes, nobody could see her in the distance. She didn’t know how fast they were climbing, so she had to make it in thirty minutes just to be safe. No, twenty minutes, she couldn’t take any chances. They would not suspect she went down around the back and they would keep searching along the trail and in the caves and bushes near the trail. It could take them over an hour, which would give her enough time to escape. She only hoped the killers didn’t send any accomplices around the other side of the same curve to cut her off before she could get back to the parking lot. She wasn’t sure if she could drive her car to safety. She could walk—or run—to the nearest housing development three miles away and rely on a Good Samaritan to help her. After all, she was born to run. She was Tarahumara. Her people could run down a deer until it passed out of exhaustion. And not only was she a local champion—faster than all Tarahumara, except one man—but she was the premier woman runner in the world. She had four gold medals from the two Olympics she had participated in and dozens of other ribbons and trophies. She dominated the Marathon, the half-marathon, and ultra-marathon distances. Still, she had just finished a thousand foot incline in less than an hour. She was tired, but always had energy left for more running, but was it enough? It had to be. Her life depended on it. She slipped again, this time almost falling into a cactus. She was only wearing her running shorts, a sports bra, and Huaraches sandals. Her exposed skin would scrape easily on rocks and absorb the full impact of all cactus spines.
            She looked behind her and, luckily, saw nobody. If she could see somebody, she could be seen. She was still okay, for now. What would she do after making it around the mountain? How would she ensure she would not be seen? She would keep an eye out for the two cars she saw in the small parking lot. She would watch the parking lot from wherever she was at all times as soon as it came back into site. A big boulder blocked her path. Thick brush barricaded the lower side while the upper side was a shear cliff. She had to backtrack twenty yards to get around. She had only two minutes according to her watch until the killers could spot her. Her heart rate was 155 beats per minute. Her watch was the only thing she had on her besides clothing. She did not carry a cell phone or water because the bulky items threw off her rhythm. She would need water soon, but there was no time now. A hundred yards more, maybe a hundred and fifty, and she was around the corner and out of side. She looked back again. Still nobody. There is no time for resting. I must keep going, she thought. Her heart pounded and her lungs ached, but not from the pace. She had run faster than this many times before. Her physical reactions were linked to her emotional stress. The situation was grave. She rounded the corner and crouched behind a boulder. She peeked around the edge, but could no longer see the trail she had just left behind less than ten minutes ago. She brushed off a flat rock with her hand. It was about eight inches above the ground. She kept an eye out for rattlesnakes. That was all she needed, to escape being shot by the killers and be bitten by a rattlesnake instead. They were all over the desert this time of the year and it was nearly nine in the morning. They would be searching for a rock in the sun to warm their scaly bodies. She was in the shade so they probably wouldn’t want to stay there, but they might pass through her area on their way to their favorite rocks. I must keep going, she thought. Then she rationalized, I should rest in the shade for a few more minutes. I can get going in five minutes. She knew she had to be very careful from now on. Too much movement would attract the attention of her pursuers. Luckily she did not wear her red shorts today. Her outfit was sky blue, which blended into the tan and light green of the desert better than bright red shorts. As long as she moved slowly around the corner and did not double back, she could make it unseen.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Why is it that when I try so hard
to stay focused and do what is right,
I get more and more tempted
and try with all my might,
to not give in and not do wrong
but it just gets too tough,
no matter how hard I try
it never seems enough,
I wish that things were easy
but that's not always the case,
I'm not supposed to eat the fruit
but I just want a little taste,
I know that this is just a test
I don't know if I will pass,
I'm trying my very hardest
but I feel at the back of my class,
I hope that someday I will live
long enough to know,
I know that someday I will see
all this hard work show.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Leave Me Alone

(It seems strange that a 14-year-old would say something like, "leave me alone!" But, this was a poetic expression of how I felt at that time.)

I feel crowded
too many faces,
when I am scared
my mind races,
no-one will leave
leave me alone,
I have to stay here
why can't I go home,
I don't know why
they monitor my music
I don't see why
they won't let me choose it,

Leave me alone
and I'll do the same,
then when I am mad
I'll have no-one to blame,
but myself and my mind
work together as one,
when I write poetry
I get things done,
or just express my feelings
in a poetic form,
I need a real home
not just a dorm,

They probably try hard
to make me feel good,
I am not satisfied
maybe I should,
I do not know
maybe I am insane,
leave me alone
or it's you
I will blame.