Entry Nineteen: Love God. Love Folks.

“Clean up on aisle three. JB, clean up on aisle three.” The announcement over the intercom could not have come at a worse moment. Johnnie was just returning from helping deliver old lady Dugan’s groceries to her car and he needed to get back to the parking lot to gather carts. Saturday’s were always their busiest day of the week but this morning had been more hectic than usual, reminiscent of when a hurricane was approaching or folks planning for a home football game. All the bag boys had been scrambling to keep up with demand and no one had been able to take their morning break. Now a clean up on aisle three. “I hope to god it’s not puke,” thought Johnny as he hurried to the storeroom in the back of the store to grab the cleaning supplies.

As he turned the corner of the aisle to face his next project he was relieved that it was just a spilt soda, although it must have been extra large because the splash and spread was far reaching. “I’ll bet the person that dropped it ditches the cup and doesn’t pay,” he thought. He didn’t used to be this cynical but working at the grocery store for two years had opened his eyes to some surprising facts. People are pigs and people are greedy, looking for a handout and a deal whether it’s being offered or not. The realizations had been troubling at first but over time they had grafted into this thinking and were now as factual as cold ice and wobbly -wheeled grocery carts.

As he wound his way to the front of the store and beyond to gather carts, he heard his name being called. The store manager was waving at him and he had a nasty scowl on his face. Johnny hurried toward him and was met with the low hiss of anger and disappointment.

“Busby, the lot is overflowing with carts. If I’m not mistaken that’s your responsibility today, am I right?” Johnny began to answer but was cut off by the flushed face and emotional edge dripping from his boss’s voice. “Get out there and gather carts right now. I had a customer complain, for crying out loud. We can’t have that.” Johnnie hesitated, waiting to see if there was more verbal flagellation coming his way. “Well go! What are you waiting for?”

Johnny exited through the automatic doors and jogged toward the cart retaining area farthest from the store. “Piggy, greedy and deranged. Piggy, greedy and deranged.” He repeated the phrase in a rhythm, matching the tempo of his trot. He was learning a lot at this job.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle


Entry Eighteen

God is watching us [part one].

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle

Entry Seventeen: Sitting in the Stand

[A story in many parts: Part Six]

As we approached each stand, the driver would lean back and whisper the name of whoever was supposed to get out, performing silent hand signals to point the hunter in the right direction. That person would leave the truck and head for the designated stand. At least he would head toward the patch of black the driver pointed toward. It was very dark, the density of the woods blocking out any light from the stars or moon. We were allowed to use a flashlight--but only briefly--to locate the stand, which helped tremendously. The driver also pointed out some cushions in the back of the Suburban for us to use since most of the deer stands were made of wood or metal and were hard and uncomfortable and we would be in them, according to legend, "for hours." I had been suffering from an extremely sore back that had been medically diagnosed as Chronic Back Fatigue, brought on by a wicked combination of horrible posture and long, butt-numbing hours in front of a computer monitor. I grabbed a cushion right away and held on to it like it was my pet. I was fairly certain that none of the stands were equipped with lumbar support. When we finally pulled up to my stand, I tumbled out of the truck and gathered all of my gear and headed to the "spot." My gear consisted of a gun and a backpack full of supplies that I deemed essentials. As I scrambled up the ladder of the deer stand and settled in, I realized that I had forgotten my cushion. The stress of getting out of the truck and not waking up any deer had gotten the best of me. My designated stand that first morning was made of wood and looked very similar to a lifeguard stand on a California beach, only darker. There was a piece of rope dangling down the side, attached to the top on the seat. I had been instructed to tie my gun to the rope, climb into the stand and then pull my gun up with the rope. This was apparently safer than trying to balance all of my gear plus gun while climbing into the stand. I soon discovered that once you got into the stand, it was also a pretty good idea to tie your backpack to the rope just in case you knocked it out of the stand. It was definitely a lot easier than climbing down and feeling around in the dark, wet, weeds for the bag and climbing back up without waking up the deer. Not like that happened to me. Twice.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle


Entry Sixteen: Love God. Love Folks.

Johnnie stared at the stack of papers in his hands, the large, red, hand-written numbers scratched in the top right corner the only thing in focus. He had worked hard on this paper, spent two weeks and several long nights checking and rechecking his online sources and crafting, what he felt, was his best written effort of his senior year. But his grade was shocking. The red number repeated itself over and over in his head, throbbing bright to dim, pounding and mocking, feeding off his disappointment. “A 97? How could that happen? There has to be a mistake.” He was mumbling but it wasn’t going unnoticed by his classmates. When the bell rang he delayed, adjusting papers, organizing his backpack, waiting until everyone had left the classroom.

“Mrs. Dees?”

His teacher looked up from whatever she was working on, the look of resignation on her face a sign that she had been feigning business as well, but for entirely different reasons. “Yes, Mr. Busby?”

“About my grade on this report—“ Before he could continue she stopped him, holding her hand in the air and saying, “Let’s not go through this again, Mr. Busby. You made an A. It was a very well written paper, one of your best, frankly, and you have nothing to be upset about.” She tried to give him her best “and that’s the end of that” glare but, as usual, it failed.

“But it’s not 100%. You obviously felt something was wrong with it and I need to know what that was.”


Johnnie sputtered, caught off guard by the question. “Well… because I do, that’s all. It’s important to me that I get it right. 100% right.”

“But it is right. It’s an A!”

“But it’s not perfect. I need to make 100%, not 97%. It needs to be perfect.”

“No one is perfect, Mr. Busby. Never has been. Never will be. Lot’s of kids in this class would have killed for your grade.”

“But they aren’t me. I need to get there. Please tell me what was wrong with it.” He was steadfast and was obviously not going to leave until he was satisfied.

Mrs. Dees stared at him, realizing the futile conversation would only continue if she did not give in. “All right, Mr. Busby. On page thirteen I felt the third and fourth paragraphs were a little unclear. I understood what you were trying to say but I felt you could have explained yourself better.”

He frantically transcribed her critique on to his paper, using a green pen and meticulously capturing each word verbatim. His look of relief was obvious and he thanked her several times as he hurried out of her classroom to continue his school day.

Mrs. Dee’s shook her head and mindlessly drew a smiley face on a scrap of paper on her desk. The corners of her mouth upturned as she basked in her secret. There was nothing wrong with any paragraph on page thirteen. In fact, there was nothing wrong with any part of the paper Johnnie Busby had turned in. She had given him a 97 so she could see him sweat. “I wonder how long he’ll work on those two paragraphs?” she thought. And she laughed out loud.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle

Entry Fifteen

Posted without comment.

No, I guess that was a comment. Oh well...

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle


Entry Fourteen: Sitting in the Stand

[A story in many parts: Part Five]

Amazingly, I came pretty close to the bulls eye with my first shot and, after four adjustments, it was determined that the sight was "good enough." Dad was up next and his gun sighted in perfectly. He “bulls eyed” his first shot and order was maintained in the universe. With everyone sighted-in and ready for the Big Day—which was always tomorrow—we convened inside and watched a Braves game on television while waiting for dinner. The food was prepared by a lady that was either the friend or wife or girlfriend of one of the fellows that runs the Plantation. As far as I could tell, she came in to cook and then she would leave. I didn't see her hanging around too much beyond mealtime.

After dinner was story time. Since most of dad’s crew were older gentlemen and all were long-time hunters, there were a lot of stories to be told. I thought about telling a few stories myself, but the subject inexplicably stayed on animals. Hunting for lost keys didn't quite have the drama of shooting a bear. I chose to keep quiet. You know, two ears and one mouth…

Reveille was at 5:00 am and everyone was up and ready to hunt fairly quickly. Something about the first morning provided fresh energy to all the participants. The camouflage being modeled in the room was overwhelming, but it served as the great equalizer. No matter what walk of life you arrived from, once the hunting uniform was on everyone was on the team and part of a unified force. We were hunters, even if all you were hunting for was some peace and quiet. Our promised continental breakfast consisted of coffee, soda, danish and Pop-Tarts. I believe it was Daryl, the senior member of our group, that asked what continent served Pop-Tarts, but I'm pretty sure it was a rhetorical question. And no one answered. We ate standing up and then loaded up in the three lodge vehicles at 5:30 am, heading to the woods.

The Seven Oaks Plantation owns several large tracts of land near the lodge and they have placed a number of deer stands throughout these properties. The routine was for all of the hunters to crawl into one of the three Suburban’s and then be driven to specific deer stands and dropped off one by one. When we pulled off of the main road and into the hunting property, the driver, a Plantation employee, turned the headlights out on the truck and, apparently, relied on his sense of smell to find the deer stands. I assumed there was concern that the lights on the Suburban would let the deer, who were sleeping soundly in the woods, know that we had arrived. For some reason the moaning of a V8 diesel engine at 0-dark-30 was not a concern. When the lights went out all talking ceased within the vehicle. The hunt had begun.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle


Entry Thirteen: Love God. Love Folks.

“Mom, it’s time to get up.” Johnnie gently touched her exposed shoulder, which was barely peaking out of the top of the navy blue comforter, and waited for her to acknowledge him. She didn’t. “Mom… mom, it’s seven o’clock. You need to get up.” He glanced at the night stand by her bed and sighed as he spotted the pill bottles lined up by the phone.

“I don’t need this right now,” he thought. The pills weren’t a shock but he knew they would make his job more difficult. He pushed a little harder on her shoulder, exerting enough force that his mother’s head moved and that was enough to produce the desired results. All he needed was some type of recognition from her, anything, and he knew he’d broken through the barrier of Ambien and a hard life that made her rare voyage to slumber land so deep and impenetrable.

“Mom, it’s Thursday morning and I’m heading to school. Brittany’s already in the shower and I put your cup of coffee in the bathroom. It’s waiting for you but you need to get moving.” He stared at her, giving her a couple of beats to respond. “Mom?”

“I’m good, I’m good.” Her pre-conscious croak was all he needed to hear. “Thanks, baby. Have a good day.” She smiled at him, eyes still closed, hair splayed in several directions around her head.

“I will, mom. Call me later.” He picked up his lunch bag in the kitchen and crammed it in to his backpack. He was almost out the door when he realized he’d forgotten something. He ran back into the kitchen, grabbed a notepad next to the phone and scratched out a note to his sister. “Britt, here’s your lunch money. Should be enough for two days. Have a good one… --J.”

He pulled his wallet out of the back pocket of his jeans and extracted a five dollar bill. He set it on top of the note and was careful to place both next to the remote control where he was assured she would find it. He hesitated, took one more look around the kitchen, deemed it presentable and left through the garage door. What extra time he had given himself had been sucked up by the small delays throughout the morning. He could not afford to be late to Algebra again. Hopefully the traffic would be light.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle


Entry Twelve: Sitting in the Stand

[A story in many parts: Part Four]

Since everyone else had already arrived at the camp, I was introduced to everyone then dad and I took a tour of the facilities. In the build-up to the weekend, the term “lodge” was frequently invoked to describe our living quarters for the weekend. It was obvious from the moment we drove on to the property that the lodge was "in progress." It was a cinder block house with a large great room on one side and a small kitchen on the opposite end. There were two separate bedrooms, each holding three stacks of bunk beds, plus one room with a single bed. I guess that room was reserved for royalty. Possibly for The King of Hunting. I hoped he was there. The great room held a big-screen television and the Prime Star satellite system with a VCR, as well as several sofas and chairs. There were two full bathrooms and since the owners hadn't gotten the carpet in yet—“its on order”-- all of the floors were concrete slab. I would guess that Seven Oaks Plantation was working off the fourth or fifth definition of the word “lodge” found in the dictionary.

The first order of business, after we picked out our bunks, was to "sight-in" our guns. The front yard of the lodge had a sturdy, wooden table with some sandbags on it and, roughly 100 yards away, at the edge of the woods, was a paper target attached to some hay bales. The "sighting-in" procedure was pretty simple, in theory. You sat at the table, put on ear protection devices, rest the gun on the sandbags, line-up the sight on the bulls eye of the target and fire. If you hit the bulls eye, your sight was fine. If your shot was high/right or low/left or you missed the target completely, you adjusted the sight accordingly and tried again until you got it right or it was determined that no matter how good the sight was, you couldn't hit a house from the porch. This was a serious spectator sport because everyone wanted to see how everybody else's gun was shooting, so everyone gathered in the front yard to watch dad and I check our guns. A lot of things went through my mind as I prepared to "sight-in" my gun. With everyone watching it almost felt as tense as having to tee off at the first hole in front of the country club restaurant. The only difference was that I had actually hit a golf ball a few times in the last 20 years, unlike my experience with shooting a gun. I quickly determined that the sandbags would keep me from dropping the gun if the kick did nerve damage on my arm, so my confidence wasn’t totally drained. I sat on the bench seat at the table, nestled the stock into my shoulder and concentrated really hard on hitting something near the target, knowing full well that I could blame the first shot on the gun and the "lousy sight." I finally squeezed the trigger and nearly blacked out. In my high state of concentration I had neglected to notice how close my head was to the scope and when the gun fired and kicked back, the scope, attached to the gun, jumped backwards and hit me square in the temple. I blinked a few times, eyes watering, and tried to regain some sense of consciousness and was able to clear enough cobwebs that I could pretend all was well. In deference to my dad, no one laughed nor mentioned the half moon bruise on my forehead the entire weekend.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle

Entry Eleven: Sitting in the Stand

[A story in many parts: Part Three]

We arrived at the hunting lodge at 4:30 and were greeted by The Gang. Dad had been hunting with this particular core group of men for a long time and once a year they take a big hunting trip together. For the past few years they have been going out to Texas to hunt, but this year they decided to try a new place in South Carolina. In celebration of this new itinerary, they opened the trip up to The Son's of The Group. I am a Son of a Member of The Group. When my dad approached me several months ago, with the trip in the planning stages, and asked if I wanted to join them, he layered the invitation with several caveats, telling me he realized it wasn't my thing and if I didn't want to do it he would understand and he just wanted to ask and not assume that I didn't want to go. That was the “dad’ side of him speaking. The counselor side wanted to know if I would "enter his world," if only for a weekend. I'm sure it took a lot for him to ask me since the thought of seeing me cry over a dead deer was even more unsettling since we would be with all of his friends. I promised not to cry and accepted his invitation. The fact that he said he would pay for everything played into my decision, but not as much as you might think.

Okay, maybe that much, but I was still looking forward to it.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle


Entry Ten: Love God. Love Folks.

The lines of automobiles were expanding at the intersection, building out in every direction from the complicated array of traffic lights. Woodrow took a deep breath and let the air escape through his pursed lips slowly, making him a little dizzy but accomplishing the great work of relaxing him for the moment. It had been a long, stressful day and he was now allowed to leave the past eleven hours behind and fill the small gap between office and home with positive thoughts of a warm dinner and some time with Nelly and the kids. He smiled as he successfully discarded the snarkiness and the petulance of the general public that had decided to call him today, all with problems they felt only he could solve “as soon as possible.” If not sooner. It was a lot of work to keep his temper and attitude in check but, regardless of their boorish manner, he knew they would not have been calling him unless they needed help. Pressure had a way of bringing out the worst in folks and it always helped him to remember that proverb when he was trying to wade through someone’s anger to get to their real need.

The cars in front of him started to move and he slowly released the brake with his right foot and ramped up his speed to stay in synch with his fellow travelers. It was a new intersection, a little tricky because it was basically a stop gap, a short term solution towards a longer term goal of routing traffic quickly and efficiently throughout the ever expanding west side of town. Woodrow was riding in the left lane, along with most everyone else since the right lane was a fake lane, eventually merging into the left and forming one line of traffic by the time it reached the next light. Most of the folks using the right lane were either ignorant or arrogant, unaware the lane ended or knew and refused to wait in the left lane like “regular” folks, assuming they could work or force their way into the congestion and bypass the wait. As Woodrow cruised through the intersection just as the light turned yellow, his eyes were distracted by something moving rapidly on his right. As he slowed with the traffic to begin the wait for the next light, a dark green Suburban raced through the intersection in the right lane and slammed to a stop next to Woodrow’s car and casually turned the front end, filling the small space between his car and the one in front of him causing Woodrow to quickly slam his brakes to avoid hitting the interloper. He looked over and saw the driver, a woman wearing large dark sunglasses, leaning over her steering wheel, thanking Woodrow for letting her cut in front of him by waving her hand but never losing the tether to her cell phone.

“My, my, my… someone must be in a hurry.” He waved back and shook his head. “Lord, don’t let her kill anyone on her way home…”

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle


Entry Nine: Sitting in the Stand

[A story in many parts: Part Two]

I left my comfortable home turf of Tallahassee at ten in the morning and headed east on Interstate 10 toward Jacksonville. I was to meet my dad at a designated truck stop a few miles north of the city and we would continue the trip to South Carolina together. The trek to Jacksonville was very weird and I fought hard to keep from feeding my fears that I was experiencing an omen. I was driving a 1983 Nissan pick-up truck that, at the time, was 15 years old. Its mighty four-cylinder engine was adequate for driving around our medium sized town but venturing on to the highway systems of America was a bit of a dice roll. Reaching 70 miles per hour was a hope and expecting to maintain that rate of speed for the three hour drive to Jacksonville was not worth considering, much less expecting, so I had padded my travel time to compensate. What I didn't compensate for was driving straight into the teeth of the remains of Hurricane Georges. Although long out of the news, its feeder bands were just now making their way to North Florida and I was meeting them head on. The wind was blowing so hard that I couldn’t top 45 miles per hour--even with my cramping foot mashing the gas pedal level with the floorboard--and the rain was so heavy that visibility ended at the front bumper of my truck. I was getting nowhere slow. Driving through hurricane refuse was unusual and unexpected but what redlined my mystic sensors was when I pulled into the designated truck stop at 12:30 pm, exactly two-and-one-half hours after I left home. I had arrived ahead of schedule. I sat in the cab of my truck, waiting for my dad and wondering how I made such good time. One theory was that maybe God had given me a pseudo-Joshua moment and had suspended time, causing everyone and everything in the world to move at the equivalent of 45 miles per hour in a 70 miles per hour continuum. Or maybe it was like the time Superman flew counter-clockwise around the world and was able to reverse time and the remains of Hurricane Georges were causing the same physical anomaly. Fortunately my dad arrived just as I realized how much math was involved in the Superman theory plus I was figuring out how perspective compounded trying to determine whether clouds moving east were actually traveling counter clockwise. Suddenly, the thought of sitting for hours in a deer blind, alone with my thoughts, began to scare me.

After eating our fill of buttered-soaked vegetables and fried-to-perfection meats at the truck stop “country-style” buffet, we received permission from the owners to leave my car in a far corner of their parking lot over the weekend and we headed north in dad’s car.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle


Entry Eight: Love God. Love Folks.

“This should do us for a couple of weeks.” Nelly was talking to Woodrow but it may as well been to anyone in the parking lot. The man pushing the cart loaded down with bags of groceries was not listening, staring and steering with a slight smile on his face. “What in the world are you thinking about?”

“What’s that? Oh, I’m sorry. I’d checked out for a few minutes. What’d you ask me?” Woodrow was back and fully engaged with his wife.

“I asked what you were thinking about. You’re sporting a silly grin and that always gets me worried.”

Woodrow chuckled. “Nothing to worry about this time. I was just thinking about something Beth told me this morning and it made me smile.”

“What’d she say?”

“It’s not so much what she said, really, it’s more that she called in the first place. I like the idea that, even though she’s out of the house, she doesn’t have any problem calling her daddy for some advice. It makes me feel useful.” He looked over at Nelly and winked. She let the conversation drop, assuming it was a father/daughter situation and the quandary was handled. She trusted that Woodrow would let her in on anything major that was going on. They approached the car and she engaged the fob and released the locks.

As they unloaded the bags of food and necessities into the trunk, they were quiet, but happy, even though they had just spent over $100 on supplies. Trips to the grocery store were part of the “investment to raise a family,” a favorite saying of Woodrow’s whenever faced with club dues, school fundraisers or the constant need to replace too-tight shoes. Raising kids wasn’t cheap and there always seemed to be a new need cropping up every week. As the last bag was deposited into the trunk, Woodrow pulled the door closed and moved to open the passenger door for Nelly. After she was secured he walked to the back of the car and grabbed the horizontal bar of the grocery store buggy and looked for the receptacle that held the used and discarded carts. The designated space nearest him was overflowing and the randomly placed buggies littering the parking lot suggested it had been full for some time. Woodrow started pushing his cart toward the front of the store, intending to drop it off right inside the entrance. As he pushed it into the near empty space, he spotted a store manager and flagged him down.
“Just thought you’d like to know that the parking lot is a little over run with empty buggies. It’s starting to become a hazard.” He smiled to let the manager know he was not upset, just a willing messenger. The manager thanked him and quickly frowned as he turned toward the long line of check-out stations, scanning for an employee to take on cart duty. “Oh gosh, I hope I didn’t get someone in trouble…” thought Woodrow as he exited the store.

Driving out of the parking lot, he waited for a mom and her two children to cross in front of him on their way into the store. Right before he accelerated to head home he noticed a young kid, 16 or 17, dressed in the grocery store uniforms of collared, white shirt, tan khaki pants and a full red apron jogging from the front of the store toward the bulging buggy bin. “He doesn’t look upset…” Woodrow said out loud.

“What’s that?” asked Nelly.

“Oh, it’s nothing. Just making sure my ripples stay small.”

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle


Entry Seven: Sitting in the Stand

[A story in many parts]

I am the disappointing child. Not so much in a general sense because I believe both my parents are proud of me as a son, dad and husband. But in the more specific world of shotgun shells and lures, I am a disappointment; I am not a hunter. I am a first-born child of a first-born child and that mantle carries with it a lot of responsibility, especially when it comes to traditions and “things we do.” My father did his best to make me a hunter in the long, glorious genealogy of Colle men, but without success. No, it was uglier than that. The genealogical experiment was a spectacular, weepy failure. I imagine that The Colle Hunting Man tradition goes back to our families early days in the boggy backwaters of Louisiana when we were known as The Kuhl Hunting Men, fresh off the boat from Germany. I can imagine great, great, great, great relative Wilhelm Kuhl spotting his first nutria on the muddy shore of a bayou and, balancing himself in his peyroux, he loaded up his musket and took aim at his first American kill. Over time, the game got bigger and the guns got better, but everything sights-in on one thing--Colle men were hunters. As a child, I looked that tradition squarely in the face and walked away. But not without a fight. I can recall the many mornings that my dad rustled me out of bed to drive several hours to sit in a freezing, wet, duck blind that was placed on the edge of some levee-rimmed rice field in Central Texas. We had to arrive and be in place before sun-up because that was when we, by law, could start shooting. I remember sitting in the blind, frozen and afraid to move for fear of scaring away the ducks, and wishing that it was light enough to read a book. That was not the example of the hard-edged mentality that a hunter must possess.

Dad was careful not to let on, but I am sure that he was disappointed his oldest son did not embrace the hunting life. There were early signs that I was not destined for the woods and rice fields–for instance the first time dad let me shoot his shotgun. It was supposed to be a defining moment, a passing of the torch. All I remember was the gun was so heavy that I couldn’t hold it on my shoulder so it kept sliding down my arm and, when I finally pulled the trigger, it "kicked" me so hard that I dropped the gun on the ground and cried. The crowning moment was the morning my dad looked over to my corner of the duck blind and saw me cradling a freshly killed greenhead mallard duck in my arms--and crying. Since most of my memories of hunting involved crying, my dad began to figure out that my time as a hunter was over before it ever really started. Many years later, I was given another chance to embrace the hunting life. I had accepted an invitation from my dad to accompany him on his annual deer-hunting trip with his buddies. I was 39 years old and 27 years had elapsed since my last attempt. I was giving it one more shot. (to be continued...)

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle


Entry Six: Love God. Love Folks.

Woodrow Camacho reached with his free hand and pressed the up arrow, calling the elevator from wherever it was currently toiling. He tugged at the left side of the waistband of his slacks and made a mental note to add this particular pair to the “snug” side of his closet. The lady standing to his right was someone he recognized from the cafeteria but had never spoken to. She was young, probably in her late twenties, a little overweight but dressed to disguise it in a dark blue dress suit accompanied by dark, flat, close-toed shoes. She was carrying two bags, a leather attaché for the office and an enormous canvas duffel bag for the gym. He smiled as he mentally congratulated her for working out and attacking her weight issue head on. She didn’t look happy, though, her face worked into a slight scrunch, every angle pointing to her nose. Woodrow smiled and asked, “How are you doing this morning?”

She glanced at him, cutting her eyes without moving her head to make sure he was addressing her before responding. When she was convinced the question was in her court she sighed and said, rather sadly, “Oh, you know, it’s Monday so that cuts into any possibility that the morning can be great. Good is the zenith, I’m afraid.”

He chuckled and asked, “So are you good this morning?”

She looked at him, offered a forced, thin-lipped smile and said, “Not yet.” Then she turned to look at the closed elevator doors.

“Well, it’s early. I hope your day improves.” She didn’t respond so he let her be. When she exited the elevator a few minutes later on the twelfth floor, he thought a prayer for her, asking God to bless her day and give her a taste of joy.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle


Entry Five

I can pinpoint exactly when this whole mess got started. It was a Tuesday night and my wife and I were attending our daughter’s chorus concert being held in the high school auditorium. It was a warm, spring night and the air conditioning, being run from a computer in a town far away, was approximately one hour behind its need, rendering the 50-60 parents in attendance sweaty and irritable. The girls performing in the concert were festooned in long, black dresses and the poor fellows were all wearing tuxes. Exactly no one in the concert hall was dressed for the sauna. The selected songs, being sung with zero passion or intensity, were accompanied by clicks of paper slapping together as everyone tried to stay cool using the concert programs as makeshift hand fans. I amused myself by wiping the sweat out of my eyebrows, trying to time the swipe right before a drop broke free and rolled into my eyeglasses. There was a lot of people shifting and adjusting but I chose to sit infuriatingly still, having convinced myself that less movement equated to less exertion and therefore less moisture production. As people escaped the auditorium for fresh air or a cigarette, the large, metal doors in the back of the auditorium were opened and closed with alarming regularity and not one person was considerate enough to handle the task with patience. The loud slam of the door as it left and returned to its metal resting place was jarring and increasingly annoying.

Some time deep into the second hour of the program, the door crashed yet again and I cringed and shook my head. At that moment I made a silent, unholy vow. I waited and the minute I heard the small click of a hand grabbing the doorknob I stood and shot the person as they walked through the door. My wife said I overreacted and, in hindsight, she was right. If I had known the events that my "attempted homicide" was going to put in motion, I would have counted to twenty and left the pistol in my left sock. Oh, I didn’t kill the person. I aimed low and made sure I hit their leg but, unfortunately, the person I shot was the pastor’s wife. And that’s when it all went to hell.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle


Entry Four

The man walking toward Ted looked old. His fatigue showed through his tired, constantly blinking eyes and the forward lean of his neck and shoulders. The wind had blown his necktie back over his shoulder and he looked like he was tugging against a leash. At least that was the assessment through Ted’s eyes. He was always shocked to find out that people he assumed were five to ten years older than him were actually his age, some born within the same month and year. Why did they all look so worn out? Or did they? Ted had made a conscious decision several years earlier to avoid introspective trips to his reflection. The mirror was not his friend. He had perfected the ability to shave and see nothing but a jaw and tiny hairs. From his viewpoint the person looking back could be anyone and that’s why it didn’t bother him when, over time, the reflected skin slowly became slack and the stubble grew white. Ted’s hair was so thin that he kept it cropped short which reduced the task of “combing” into a slide of his hand over his scalp. He assumed as long as he never saw anything to alter his perception, his mental picture of his image was exactly what everyone else saw. He was confident that he portrayed energy, vitality and vigilance. Like a walking Viagra tablet in easy to swallow caplet form.

[Yikes! Two entries that reference Viagra. I write. You decide.]

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle


Entry Three

I never thought too much about roof shingles until I was in the process of building my house. I remember staring at my wife with a confused look on my face (which is different than the confused face I sport the rest of the time; this new version registers even less clarity) when she asked me what kind of shingles we wanted to put on our new house. “There’s a choice?” I asked. “Absolutely,” she confirmed. “There are several colors to choose from as well as different styles. And we need a decision by Friday.” From that moment the blinders fell off my eyes and the world of roof shingles was opened up to me. I was mowing the yard and noticed that our neighbors had chosen a light gray, standard shingle that complimented the trim color of their fascia. Another neighbor had chosen tan shingles, a bold decision that elevated their “good neighbor” status and allowed me to be a little more forgiving of their frequent homeowner association violations. I was no longer able to look at a house and ignore what was nailed to the roof. One day, driving out of the neighborhood, I heard myself saying, “My, those green architectural shingles really set off the roofline of that two story ranch.” And I was driving alone.

Does this same principal apply to other areas of my life? Will the things I hear and read and dismiss as irrelevant today eventually catch my attention and drive me to expert status? Will the day come that I hear or see a commercial for Viagra or Levitra and not turn to another station? Will all of the innuendos and subtleties of the ads ring true and hold my attention? I can already check off three of the six signs of low male testosterone that are seductively offered via radio commercials every ten minutes, although “constantly tired” seems to be an unfair marker. My brain filter increasingly ignores ads for Ladies Night, domestic beer and any event that starts after 9 p.m. so I guess the vacated spaces need to be filled with something. The aging process is a subtle worm.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle

Entry Two

Josh walked into the conference room at precisely 8:28 am, two minutes ahead of the scheduled start of his training class. He walked across the room to an empty chair, silently noting the consistency of the early birds grabbing the seats closest to the door. After following the directions written on the white board for logging the desktop computer sitting in front of him into the training server, he settled into a long morning of dull stats and tedious class discussion. The lack of any sense of humor was palpable, both from the teacher and his classmates. During one exercise, the students were asked to apply a formula to a group of figures they had created which resulted in a variety of answers. The instructor asked people to raise their hands if their answers matched those he called out. He concluded the exercise by stating, “It looks like we ended up with three two’s, four one’s and two none’s.” Josh responded by saying, “And God bless the work you do, sisters.” The room was so silent that his thoughts about an early lunch carried an echo.

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle

Entry One

"It's really very easy to be a writer -- all you have to do is sit down at the typewriter and open a vein."

This could get messy...

All words and images ©2005/J. Colle