WALDO AND I

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A Short Story

“It is all his fault. I am the way I am because of him. Things happen to me that are the result of his actions. I feel people staring at me as I walk the railroad tracks in Johnson City, looking at the hulks of old shoe factories.”

No sooner had I began with the above title and first paragraph of a new short story when someone clapped the front doorknocker; which was very large, brassy and pretentious. It had “TOMOSKY” engraved on it as if to announce something. I, absentmindedly, placed my writing tablet on the kitchen table. At the door was a relative, a talkative one, who consumed the remainder of my evening. I was tired and went immediately to bed after she departed.

That night I slept without rest. Rarely do I dream and even more rarely can I capture what I dreamt about. It was different that night.

A man appeared to me with a writing tablet very similar to mine. He had several friends with him, or rather, standing behind him. The friends were all in black silhouette most of the time. As they stood there, non-menacingly, one or two of them, taking turns, would change from silhouette to full three dimensional people; albeit, in black and white. I soon recognized a few of them.

There was Averoes, the Arab philosopher of Andalusia. There was Susana Soca, Ariosto, Delia Elana San Marco, Martin Fierro, and Avelino Arredondo. Twice that number stood in the background; still in silhouette, still in mystery.

The labyrinthine dream became clear. These were friends and characters of Jorge Luis Borges, that master of fantasy and confusion. The man holding the tablet had to be Jorge Luis Borges himself. What a thrill to actually see the man who had inspired me so many times.

It came as no surprise that Jorge Luis Borges was standing in front of me. I had been reading several of his books recently; looking for the usual mental excitement that only Borges could bestow. Don’t get me wrong. Borges never made my heart leap or my frame freeze; however, he sure could make my mind stumble, trip, do summersaults, triple-axles and other mistakes or feats; you never knew which one Borges had in mind.

I attempted to converse with him but nothing would exit my mouth. It was like one of those dreams I had as a child; those dreams where I could fly just high enough to stay out of the reach of the monster. It was that same monster that was always jumping up trying to grab me. It would take all of my energy just to stay out of reach; but never enough energy to fly higher or, better yet, to get away.

There I stood. An incredible opportunity to talk to a master story teller and I was able to ask nothing. The period of time that we faced each other was interminable. Borges kept on holding out the tablet to me but I could not reach it. During some periods, it was obvious to him that I was exhausted from trying to speak. Only then would he lower the writing tablet to his side. He would just stand there; expressionless but patient.

This offering by Borges and my inability to accept it went on all night. I promised myself I would write all this down as soon as I awoke. It was too priceless an experience to let fade away.

I had already squandered so many other dreams.

Upon awakening I went directly to the table. I required my writing tablet to record the “traum.” Opening it to where I had left off the previous evening I experienced an enigma. There was something on the page but it was not written. I could see it in my mind but there were no words on the page other than what I had written the previous evening. YET, there was something there that I could see with my mind if not with my eyes. I now tell my story (and record it for the first time) so that others may see (or feel) it. This is what was not written on that page.

Note from Luis:        Wally. Too self serving. Try something like this:

“Borges and I

It’s the other one, it’s Borges, that things happen to. I stroll about Buenos Aires and stop, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the  arch of an entrance or an iron gate. News of Borges reaches me through the mail and I see his name on an academic ballot or in a biographical dictionary.

JLB”

It was brilliant. It was pure Borges. How could I have missed the point?

That evening I sat down with this new advice and continued the story of myself and I. The words came hard and I had to re-write and scratch some out. Other phrases were misplaced and I had to move them from one location to another. The goal of what I was creating had to be    –     –     –    “sometimes I am not me.”

I was dead tired from attempting something that I had no right to attempt. I went to bed.

It was not long after I drifted off when the dream re-occurred. There was Borges and his group of friends (once again behind him, once again in black silhouette). As we stood there one of the silhouettes took the position of feet together, ramrod straight and hands on his hips. In the silhouette he looked like a dagger stuck in the floor. His hands on his hips made his elbows stick out as if his arms were the hilt. His round head formed the ball at the end of the handle. The dagger then changed from black to bright red, as if he (or it) had just been removed from the blacksmith’s coals. Another color change; this time from that brilliant red to the straw color of tempered steel, then finally to the cold hard color of chrome. He, the image, then became human. There stood Juan Moreira;  the knife fighter, in person.

Borges (once more) began offering me the writing tablet. Once more I could not take it or speak. The dream no longer had that frightening aspect; like my other repetitive dream of the monster. It was as if Borges and I were on the verge of familiarity (if not friendship).

Like the night before, there was his continual offering of the writing tablet and my continual inability to speak. Time after time the scene repeated itself; to disgrace me. I was the only one who simply stood there. Even the silhouettes moved around from time to time. I finally awoke to the cacophony of morning bird sounds singing through my window.

Running to the writing table I found my tablet in the same place that it had been left. “Thank God.” I thought to myself “I am not going mad.” I quickly opened the tablet to where I had left off the night before. Once again, nothing was written on the page other than what I had created. Once again, there was something on the page that I could not see with my eyes but could only perceive with my mind. Maybe I was going mad after all. This is what (again, for the second time) was not written on the page:

Note From Luis;      Wally, it does not create the depth of feeling that you are looking for. Put some of ‘your self, –his being’ into it. May I suggest something in the vein of the following?

“I like hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typography, the taste of coffee, and Stevenson’s prose. The other one shares these preferences with me, but in a vain way that converts them into the attributes of an actor. It would be too much to say that our relations are hostile; I live, I allow myself to live, so that Borges may contrive his literature and that literature justifies my existence.”

JLB”

Once again I missed the mark and Borges brought me back to where I needed to be.

That evening I made my third  attempt at the story; however only the second one with Borges assistance.

I woke up as the mantle clock struck midnight; my face flat on he table. Knowing that I had only written part of what I had intended I was somewhat disappointed. I thought of how disappointed Borges would be if he were here. I closed my writing tablet and went to bed almost hoping that Borges would appear, yet, on the other hand, hoping that he would not be too critical of me.

Like clockwork the re-occurring dream commenced; Borges in front with the writing tablet, his friendly silhouettes in back moving to-and-fro ever so slightly. Like clockwork I could not speak, like clockwork I could not take his tablet.

Upon awakening I rushed for my writing tablet to see what Borges had left for me that morning. One again, nothing was written on the tablet but something appeared in my mind. I could see it clearly. Even if I covered it with the next page it remained clearly written there; for no one to read (as follows);

Note from Luis:      Waldo (I hate to get formal with you but that appears to be the only way you will take my advice – – – literally). You need to write more firmly. Your prose is soft, not unlike the breasts of an old woman (interesting but unarousing). Make the reader believe what you are saying.  I was quite pleased with myself when I used the following text;

“Little by little I am yielding him everything, although I am well aware of his perverse habit of falsifying and exaggerating. Spinosa held that all things long to preserve their own nature; the rock wants to be rock forever and the tiger, a tiger. But I must live on in Borges, not in myself — if indeed I am anyone—though I recognize myself less in his books than in many others, or than in the laborious strumming of a guitar.”

JLB” 

There it was, not written in my notebook, yet there for all (or possibly only I) to see. That day, at my employment, time moved very slowly. I could not wait to get back to my writing tablet and my re-occurring dream.

Skipping supper and taking the phone off the hook allowed me the piece and quiet that was required for such a heavy assignment. I hoped that I had at least one more meeting with Borges; yet, I felt that I had already been offered all the help I could possibly ask for. I wrote feverishly, long into the night, purposefully exhausting myself with two hopes; first, to re-enter the dream once more, and second, to receive Borges’ approval for the work I was doing. I yearned for that opportunity to find my voice and have a long conversation with the master.

Satisfied that I had reached my goal, I closed my writing tablet and went to bed. The following is my major work; what I had created regarding the two forms of my ‘self’;           “Waldo and I.”

“Borges and I

It’s the other one, it’s Borges, that things happen to. I stroll about Buenos Aires and stop, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the arch of an entrance or an iron gate. News of Borges reaches me through the mail and I see his name on an academic ballot or in a biographical dictionary. I like hourglasses, maps, eighteenth-century typography, the taste of coffee, and Stevenson’s prose.[Well dear reader you get the gist of the story about myself and I and its mirror image], but those games are Borges’ now, and I will have to conceive something else. Thus my life is running away, and I lose everything and everything belongs to oblivion, or to the other one. I do not know which of us two is writing this page.

JLB”

I had finally accomplished my life long goal. I had written a “word for word” sequel to “Borges and I.”

There was only one person in my dream that night; Pierre Mennard second original author of “Don Quixote.”

 

© Copyright – Waldo Tomosky

THE OLD MAN ON THE CORNER

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A Short Story

 

There is a state that is not what it used to be. There is a village within that state that falls into the same category. Families have an obligation to prepare the next generation for a better life. Political regions apparently do not have that same obligation.

The village has a city name; Johnson City. From the period of my first memories of village life, until the time when I entered the army, I always remember one specific street corner.

At one time a large store was located there. If my memory serves me correctly it was a hardware store. I do clearly remember, I am sure, that to enter the store you had to climb three massive concrete stairs that wrapped around the entire front.

The store no longer exists; due to a fire. A silvery aluminum diner was finally placed on the site. It has always been called the “Red Robin Diner.” But this story is not about inanimate objects; it is about people, or, more succinctly, it is about one man. This man was one of several that were, and are, always located on that corner. Their faces change and their manner changes but they are the same men.

red-robin-diner-johnson-city-ny

They are retirees, older men living off a pension, a government dole, or off their savings. When I was young they sat on an old wooden bench that was painted red. It is still there as you can see for yourself. It probably belonged to the village. The men smoked, and talked about something that I was never privileged to hear. They also had a bottle of something or other that was wrapped in a brown paper sack. In between cigarettes, or cigars, they would pass the sack around and each man had a swig of whatever was hidden in it.

They were nice friendly men. There were no loud voices or harsh words. They simply enjoyed each others company and nodded “hello” to the folks that passed them by. A nice toothy (or toothless) grin usually accompanied the “hello.”

I previously stated that the story is about one man. Possibly my memory has played some tricks on me over the years and this one man is a composite of all the old men that have located themselves on that corner. It makes no difference. This singular or composite soul was friendly, cheerful, unshaven, had a hole in his pants, and his shoes (that were once meant for work) were never polished. Yes; that is a good analogy. His shoes were like he was, unpolished but substantial, faithful, ready to serve.

This man smoked a pipe (in between nips). It was not a beautiful meerschaum pipe. It appeared to be made of briarwood and had a plain shape. He lit his pipe with what us youngsters called “farmer matches.” They were not your modern safety matches. They were more functional for a pipe smoker. The matches were singular (not in a pack) and had a hefty piece of wood (not the cheap paper stick that we now use). The heads had a section to burn and a section to strike. The striking portion was on the end and was typically white in color. Once struck, the burning section would be ignited which in turn would set the hefty wooden stick aflame.

Again, we are not here to compare the old with the new but rather to set into motion the details about this old man and his wooden matches. Keep in mind the attributes of this old man. He was wise, somewhat the worse for wear (as we all would be if we had completed the tasks that he had), a little unkempt, but most importantly he loved the people around him. In fact he loved them almost as much as he loved lighting his pipe. I really believe he enjoyed lighting those farmer matches. He was constantly at it.

The match would appear from nowhere. He would be inspecting it before the casual observer even knew he had one in his hand. The old man would test the wooden section for sturdiness. Then he would spin it between his fingers and inspect the white striking end. This would be followed by an inspection of the secondary lighting section (which was usually red but sometimes blue). Once he was satisfied, the match would be struck against some hard surface. The striking end would burst open into a star like pattern with other minor star patterns being created from the original one; then additional star patterns were created from the secondary ones. You could never tell how many star patterns were created due to the fact that it happened so fast. Yet, you knew that several patterns existed before they died out. At that same moment the secondary fire (blue or red; it makes no difference) would occur. This would create yet another burst of energy that exceeded what was necessary to light the pipe. The old man would keep the creation at a safe distance until the wooden section was on fire. Only at that time would he light his pipe.

I must repeat that he appeared to enjoy lighting the matches as much as smoking the pipe. I say this because he would always use about five matches for every pipe-full of tobacco. Additionally, his eyes would gleam with joy whenever he lit a match. It was not the gleam of a pyromaniac but rather the gleam of someone who created something. He appeared proud like a new father, or, had that “ah-ha!” moment of someone who had a new insight. It was something that I never understood but always was amazed at observing. How could an old man on a corner get such satisfaction out of lighting his pipe?

It was only when I had my own “ah-ha!” moment (years later) that I understood the old man on the corner. The ceremony of the pipe was his creation yet every time he accomplished that act he knew exactly what would occur. Oh, I don’t mean that he knew how many star patterns there would be, and he sure didn’t know what was located on those minute cinders that resulted from the burnt out star patterns. He only knew that he could create them and that the results would take care of themselves. It was only natural that there would be star-cinders, flame energy and gases, and finally the wooden stick that would serve as the means to the end.

Therefore I believe that somewhere beyond all the galaxies, their stars, the gases, the unbridled energy, the cinder-like asteroids, the unknown black holes, there is an old man standing on a corner lighting his pipe. There is, most likely, a hole in his pants. There may be some friends that he shares nectar with; although I can not quite picture it being hidden in a brown paper sack. He is friendly and benevolent but does not care to guide our every move. He simply likes to create a stir with his farmer matches. He loves the explosive star patterns, likes to watch the flames and gasses that are created by the red and blue sections, and is somewhat disappointed when the wooden section finally burns out.

He knows that he will need to re-light his pipe in a few minutes and also knows that the residue of the last match will have to take care of itself. He doesn’t know that we are riding on one of the smallest cinders and that we treat the last burning ember of the striking ember as the center of our system. Time to him is irrelevant. Time to us is in light-years.

We have made such a big thing out of someone lighting a pipe. It is really very simple. We do not know (and will never know) where the beginning and end is. It is not really our beginning or our end; they are His matches and His pipe. So therefore the creative act of lighting farmer matches goes on. The center of the sphere of sparks is everywhere yet nowhere. The length of time for a match to exhaust itself is both future and past (of which neither really exist). Yet we continue to attempt to identify the past through something we call history and the future through something we call science.

It is just an old man lighting his pipe.

 

 

© Copyright – Waldo Tomosky

VON DER WISSENSHAFT (Of Science and Learning) by Nietzsche and Strauss

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A Short Story

 

(Of Science and Learning)

After retirement (well, it was really after three retirements) I had a chance to meet a strange but friendly old German gentleman. The meeting was under somewhat unusual circumstances. I had taken a part-time job delivering books for the Four County Library System. This system served Broome, Chenango, Otsego and Delaware Counties in New York State. On some days I would drive 300 miles and visit fifteen libraries (sorting books at various stops). As you can see, I had to start out at very early in the morning in order to complete these routes.

This would put me at several libraries before 7:00 AM. There was one very small library in the Catskill Mountains that normally received no more than three books. No one was ever in the library and I had to use one of the keys that hung on a plywood board in the truck. There was at least one key to every library (plus a security system code that was required to be punched in). It was on a dark winter morning that I met the old German. I had just entered the library and was searching for the light switch when a door to a back room opened. The lights went on before I had a chance to hit the switch. I was quite startled but remained calm.

“Guten Morgen” stated the old man in a deep voice. Without thinking I responded “Gruess Gott.”

I had spent some time in Germany and had grown accustomed to their “Good Mornings” and had also automatically answered “God is Good” or “Good Day” in the Bavarian vernacular.

“So – you understand me” the old man answered.

“I suppose so” I answered somewhat surprised at my automatic response in German.

“Are you the librarian?” I asked. I had never met anyone in this library and therefore had no idea who was in charge. In fact there were several small libraries in Delaware County in which I had never seen a soul.

“Nein – Nein” came his answer. “I sweep up and put paper in the toilets. That’s all. But you responded quite well to my ‘Guten Morgen.”

I told him that I had spent some time in the Stuttgart area “back in the early 1980’s.”

“Did you encounter Nietzsche or Strauss while there?” he asked.

“No. I heard the names but that was it” I answered.

“A shame.” He stated.

The way he stated it I did feel ashamed although there was no reason for me to pursue German books or music. Maybe it was part of the shame I felt about not looking farther into the history of Europe while I was there. Oh, I saw some Roman aqueducts in Spain and the magnificent spring flowers in Holland. These visits were all made as a tourist and not for the edification of my mind. I even visited Piraeus near Athens never realizing that Socrates had walked there while conducting dialogues with his friends.

“Wait” the old German instructed as I finished my book deliveries and pick-ups. “I have something for you.”

I could not imagine what he may have for me. I had never met him before. He walked over to the philosophy section of the library and after some searching he slid a book from the rack. He then repeated the process; this time in the music section and slid out a CD.

“Here, take these” he insisted.

“But there is no one here to record what I have borrowed” I protested.

“Not to worry” the old German informed me. “I will tell the librarian that you have them. She knows how to contact you if you are late returning them.”

That was a true statement. She would have no trouble tracking me down.

I looked at the titles; “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” by Nietzsche and “Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Strauss.

“They are the same?” I wondered out loud.

“Almost” he responded. “One is thought; the other is the feeling.”

“Oh” I answered; as if I had understood his meaning.

I put the two items into my delivery bag, thanked him and departed.

We never met again and the librarian later insisted that the book and CD were never in her library. To make matters even more confusing the librarian informed me that there had never been a janitor. I thought that possibly I had the wrong library. There were no library cards in the book or the CD to identify who owned them. I remain confused about that day.

After reading “Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Zoroaster)” and listening to “Also Sprach Zarathustra” I have decided to write the following combination of the thoughts and knowledge gained as a result of those two pieces of art given to me by my strange German friend. The following reflects Strauss’ piece of music “Of Science and Learning.” It is one of several pieces in his “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”

Strauss alludes not only to Nietzsche’s Zarathustra but also some of the Greek works that Nietzsche references. If you have a chance to read the book, please do. After that has been done it would please Nietzsche, Strauss, the old German and myself if you would do the following. Listen to “Of Science and Learning” while allowing the following snippets to tweak your imagination.”

“We have invented happiness say the ‘Last Men’ (prior to the appearance of the Ubermensch ) – – – and then – – – they blink.”

  ELAPSED TIME IN MUSIC                         TIME PERIOD IN YEARS

      0     to    10   Seconds                                 2,000,000 to 800,000 BC

Nothingness, not even a droning sound, there is a void of recognition, no semblance of reception by an ear, or indeed for that matter, the transport of that sense to anything that may bespeak of intellect. Logic and learning have no place to dwell. This silence is the absence of a home where sound, color and touch may join together in meditation.

 

  

    10    to    20   Secs.                                      800,000 to 200,000 BC

 Darkness, the ever present vibrations of the earth, replaces nothingness. The precursor of intellect senses these vibrations yet does not awaken. It is as if wind blows at the curtains of consciousness and the ear hears but the mind remains asleep. The universe is awakening and there is not a single “I” to interpret it.

 

     20     to    30   Secs.                              200,000   to   130,000   BC

The cyclic vibrations of earth grow to a throbbing resonating din. Minds reach that half waking moment when something outside them-selves calls. Yet the dawn has not arrived and darkness disallows the senses to combine into thought. Survival is by instinct and not by intellect. Those minds that can (at the very least) hold on to instinct survive and grow.

 

     30    to    40 Secs.                                    130,000   to    80,000   BC

Color, sound and shards of brightness join together. Something, not yet named ‘hope’, enters into the mind. The intellect senses something larger than itself but remains at a loss as to what to do with it. Like ‘hope’, names have yet to be assigned. Sparks of thought and combinations of senses strum the strings of emotion. Logic has yet to appear.

 

    40    to    60  Secs.                                   80,000     to    40,000    BC

An intermittence of light and serendipity join together. They form minor and disjointed thoughts; thoughts that burn themselves into subconscious memories. Emotions become finer honed and survival of the species is assured. Various color of burnt stones become paint. Intentionally broken and shaped stones become tools. Caves are transformed into symbolic libraries.

 

     1:00     to      1:12 Mins.                             40,000    to    6,000    BC

            Joy and bliss join into a crescendo of cogitation. Thought reaches completeness and the memory is honed. Repetition and mimeses lead to formation of icons.

 

     1:12    to     1:30  Mins.                               6,000   to    4,000   BC

The ascendance of thought creates wonderment. It combines with emotion to form creative ideas. Forethought is applied to technical problems. Synergies of musical and numerical recognition give birth to art, logic, mathematical concepts and symbolic allegory.

 

    1:30    to      1:40 Mins.                                 4,000    BC     to    0  AD

Wonderment metamorphoses. Intelligence takes on the cloak of royalty and elitism  –   –  

 

    1:40    to    1:50  Mins.                                    0      to     400   AD

and then fades back to reality. A longing for the old joy and bliss of complete thoughts (unadulterated by the pressures of state) rises to the surface. The needs of an ever expanding military create specialized fields such as civil engineering, metallurgy, and social control. The feeding of society’s need for pleasure and comfort results in the first “Last Men.”

 

    1:50    to     2:03  Mins                                 400    to    700   AD

Fragments of brilliant light break through the clouds of pestilence and hunger. The lack of a strong singular political philosophy combines with religious extremism. This man-made darkness is extended spatially and temporally.

 

   2:03    to     2:16  Mins.                                700     to     1400   AD

Power and insurrection replace thought. The effete found within factions of various cultures lead to the demise of greatness. East fights east, west fights west, east fights west, urban factions fight other factions, cousins fight cousins. The brilliance of great thinkers is lost as books are destroyed. Science succumbs to might.

 

   2:16    to    2:50  Mins.                                 1400    to    1500   AD

Factions of thought are combined into major political philosophies. Political boundaries are made weak by common needs. Books and the ideas within them are shared by various cultures. Only the confusion of mixing religion with politics creates inter-cultural disharmony. People can agree; organized religion and states can not.

 

     2:50    to    3:05  Mins.                               1500    to    1700   AD

The new power of organized religion makes war with scientific thought. Snippets of battles won and lost are buried in the throes of mind to mind combat. The human bonfires that once consumed heretical thought are replaced by house arrest and excommunication. The inquisition of the morisco in the south and the conservative thinker in the north are replaced by mass migration to the Americas and the Caribbean.

 

    3:05    to    3:35   Mins.                               1700    to    1900   AD

The storms of an intellectual autumn form a mixture of dark shadows and bright rays throughout humanity. Scientific thought is subjected to logical criticism instead of ecumenical belligerence. The light of reality is applied to philosophy. God is pronounced as dead. Science considers him merely ill. The populace refuses to listen to either.

 

      3:35    to    4:18 Mins.                                  1900    to    2000   AD

Philosophy and science establish themselves as the respective heart and mind of humanity. Anthropology attempts to define the hues and intensity of our conceptions while archaeology fights history for the truth. Two world wars within one century prove that organized religion and statedom remain untrustworthy. The individual versus the greater good oppose each other in America. Islamic pride seethes under the yoke of colonialism and empiricism.

 

    4:18    to    4:34  Mins.                                   2000    to    2016   AD

Intellectual suns shine brightly across the earth. The battle for post-modernity turns nations into financial and ideological ruin. Desperate populations select questionable rulers.

 

A One Dog Night

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one-dog-night-3d-title

 

 

I am not in the mood for trying to hide the above title somewhere in this text. The story is about a night in the life of a dog.

I know you are thinking “Oh no, Not another dog story”. You are correct. I am not fool enough to write another dog story (even though it is sort of one). So how about if I get rid of the ambiguity and get on with the story?

It was the first week in January and I had been working on a crossword puzzle as I sat in my recliner. The heat was set at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, just the way I like it; although my sons do not. But I knew they would not be visiting that evening so it remained at 75 degrees.

My hunting dog, a Beagle named “Dog”, also liked it at that temperature. He was lying on the carpet in front of my chair.

dog

Whether he was asleep or not, I could not tell. The poor animal often slept with his eyes open. How or why some dogs do that, I will never know. But there Dog was, motionless, with his eyes open.

The noises were the precursor to my dog dreaming. The sounds always started out with a little “humph      humph             humph.” I knew what was coming next. It would be a sharp but somewhat muffled “arf   arf  arf.” That was always followed by a full voice of the howl that Dog made when he was on the track of a snowshoe rabbit. Dog was getting old and I did not have the heart to wake him. He had not hunted in over a year and I knew that he was enjoying his dream.

As I sat there attempting to imagine what he was dreaming (and where he was dreaming it) an unimaginable thing occurred. I actually entered (or was drawn into) Dog’s dream. I did not simply imagine it; I was fully and completely there. I never dream in color and most of my dreams are rather foggy. I was there in full color and everything was very lucid. Although I must admit that I was quite afraid of what was happening to me. I stood there motionless for a long period of time. Finally I overcame the first of many horrors due to my situation.

I was in a dream but it was not my dream; I had no control over it. I was simply pulled along on whatever Dog’s instincts were and wherever his nose led him. This immediately became a problem because Dog was running along at a rapid pace and I could hardly keep up with him. I thought about standing still and allowing him to bring the rabbit full circle (which he usually did). But what if he didn’t? What would happen if he became lost? Would I be stuck in this dream that was not mine? I could not take the chance. Running, as fast as I could, I followed his voice. The brambles tore at my clothes. My hands were scratched and bloody as I attempted to protect my face from sharp branches. The area was unfamiliar; as well it should, for I had never been there before.

Sometimes I would pass through a small clearing and only then would I see Dog; usually as he was leaving the other side of the clearing and entering the woods again. My heart was pounding from the stress of the situation and the strain of running through the woods while leaping over fallen logs. My legs were burning from lack of sufficient oxygen. I gasped for breath with every step and only then realized that I would not be able to keep up with Dog. I quit even though I knew it meant death or possibly something even worse.

I thought “What happens to a person who is condemned to someone else’s dream for eternity?”

I wanted to sit on an old log that was beside me but each time I attempted it my chest would not fully function. I could not get enough air so I stood there with my leg muscles burning; telling me to get off my feet. Two or three minutes elapsed before I was able to take a breath without gasping. Finally I was able to sit down, catch my breath, and rest my legs; all at the same time. My senses returned and I listened for Dog. He could not be heard. My mind raced through several possible scenarios of my fate. The terror returned.

My body was overcome by a chill; not one caused by mental anguish but rather a physical chill from the cold. My situation was direr than I had previously imagined. I remembered that it was January. No wonder I was cold. I had been thrown into this situation with only street cloths and no jacket. I quickly checked my clothing and it was soaked with sweat. I was quite lucky to have put on a set of long underwear that afternoon. Additional inspection of my clothing allowed me to realize that my long underwear was soaked with sweat. My top clothes remained dry. I knew what I had to do and quickly stripped down to nothing but my socks. I then redressed in my top clothing and hung my sweat soaked long johns on a bush to dry.

While listening for Dog I thought through a tough question. Should I stay where I was until my long underwear was dry enough to put on? If I did that the dog would get even farther away. I could leave the underwear to dry and retrieve it later. But I had no idea of where I was and even less hope of ever passing this way again. I made a compromise and put the damp underwear on over my pants and shirt. Even in that lonely situation my vanity made me feel self-conscious. I pictured myself being seen by someone while I was in that predicament.

Vanity soon departed as my mind started working on what actions I may take to get out of the predicament I was in. I walked along at a rapid pace and called for Dog. He was nowhere to be seen or heard. An hour passed. It started to snow. It was not a heavy snow; just flurries. I was worried about my clothing again. The long underwear seemed to be dry enough to wear the correct way so I stripped down again and put them where they belonged; on the inside. It only took me about five minutes to get warmed up. In fact I felt much warmer with the long johns on the inside. I continued hunting for Dog without any luck.

The sun was going down and my chill returned. I knew that I had to prepare someplace to spend the night; someplace where I would not freeze to death. I found a stand of hemlock and white pine. The next half hour was spent breaking branches off these trees and making a bed that would keep me off the ground. Underneath me would be the hemlock boughs that were a little thicker and had small main branches. They would be more comfortable than the pine boughs. Over me would be a nice blanket of pine boughs. I was able to gather up several armfuls of leaves and pine needles. These I placed on top of the whole bed. Next I found a mixture of dried moss and princess pine vines. This served as a net to hold the pine needles and leaves in place.

I was nice and warm from the work of making this combination bed and shelter. Deciding to conserve this heat I crawled in between the hemlock and pine boughs. I reached out as best I could and pulled in some leaves and moss to fill in the large holes to my side.

As I laid there I was surprised as to how comfortable it was. Not too lumpy and not too cold. I had often wondered how the Native Americans survived in the winter and now I knew. Necessity is the mother of creativity. The disquieting thought of how soft we had become, as a nation, was troubling. But that thought was not as horrifying as the situation I was now in. I still remained in Dog’s dream world. I had no way to wake him since he was not there. No one would be looking for me because I was not missing. Worst of all I had no idea of where I was or what to do, other than to take care of myself minute by minute. The minutes seemed to be made up of hours.

I laid there and thought about things that made no sense. I wondered about things such as how the factory was doing now that I had retired. Wondering if there was a trout stream in the vicinity of where I was. I also wondered if the country’s march toward socialism would ever be stopped. I even wondered if I left the lights on in the house. Was the door locked? It was getting colder as the hours passed. My mind returned to the situation that I was in. I now wondered if I was going to freeze right there in my own personal purgatory. I finally drifted off to sleep. Possibly it was a defense mechanism used to ward off the bitter cold.

I woke up intermittently throughout the night. Little field mice were scampering beneath me. They must have felt the warmth of my body. I wished that I could also feel the warmth but that was not occurring. I would fall asleep almost as soon as my intermittent awakenings would disturb me. It had to be my mind’s way of dealing with the cold.

I awoke to a loud noise and peered through the boughs of my shelter. There was nothing to be seen. My viewpoint was very limited and there was only a dim light in the clouds above me. I realized that it was very early morning and the sun must be about to show itself over the horizon. The loud noise repeated itself and I recognized it as the gobble of a wild turkey. The grimness of my situation returned in full force but the terror was no longer there. I realized that I had made it through the night and could resume my search for Dog (or possibly find another way to escape from this strange dilemma which I had been thrown into).

I threw my forest covering off to the side and slowly rose to my feet. My knees ached from the cold. They didn’t work very well either. I fell to the ground as I tried to rise. Finally I was able to stand. I stumbled over to a tree and leaned against it as I emptied my bladder. That was the only thing that felt good. The rest of my body was complaining about a list of grievances. Putting one foot in front of the other was the only goal that I had. Eventually my mind was fully awake and I yearned for a cup of coffee.

Continuing on my path to nowhere I kept calling and whistling for Dog. I was disappointed that there was no answer. However, I was pleased that my legs were now fully functional and my body was warming up. I came close to searching my mind for a logical reason as to why I was in this situation. But just as quickly my mind would close the questioning down. I was required to figure a way out of this horror.

The sun was high in the sky and I was pleased to feel its heat. I wondered how long I would be stuck in these woods. For a guy who loved the woods I was beginning to feel a dislike for this particular forest. Just as I was having these thoughts I saw something through the trees. As I got close I realized it was a cabin. “Thank God” I said out loud. Thinking that there might be some food inside I picked up the pace. There were no paths leading to the cabin so I assumed it would be empty. Better judgment overcame me and I decided against breaking the door down; which was my first plan. It would be better if I first looked over the situation.

The cabin had a small window on the side that I was approaching. I could not see through because the bright sun was glaring off it. I braced my knees against the cabin and leaned toward and very near the window pane. Covering my eyes from the sun I could now see the whole interior of the cabin.

Sitting in a chair with a half-finished crossword puzzle was a spitting image of my self. At his feet was Dog. I rapped very loudly on the window pane but neither of them moved. I realized that Dog was dead.

Sadly, I walked back into nowhere.

 

author1

 

AN ARCHIPELAGO OF MURDERS

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This Short Story is based on factual events

Prologue

Things occur which we expect to have no mirrors, echoes, or similitude. Yet, as we know, things do occur in multiples. Multiple islands form an archipelago. Multiple events form a era. It is said that we each have a double somewhere upon this earth. At other times we unexpectedly meet friends in remote places. It appears to be an enigma that in groups of fifty there are at least two people with the same birthday. Mathematical combinations and permutations explain some of this. On the other hand the phrase “Things occur in threes” has appeared through the ages with little or no rebuttal.

In the unique circumstances which I am about to divulge, there were several mirrors in the events involved. Most of the people that played an unwitting part in these events never met, but were touched by one man who they all knew.

That man was Philip X.

It was the flood of 1936 that Phillip believed was his first memory. There were other memories that he had at an earlier age but Philip could not see those as clearly as he did the flood. He remembers being in an automobile in 1936 and riding down from the hills surrounding the Susquehanna River valley. On the flat lands of the valley water was everywhere. Houses stuck out from the still waters which were the color of mottled jasper.

“Yes, that is what it looks like” he thought; “shiny arrowheads made from brown and tan jasper.”

His grandfather had collected the arrowheads on the riverflats. He taught Philip the different types of flint that were used to make them. The riverflat once held a large Indian village. Now, both the Indian village and the white man’s village were under this brown muddy water. Philip wondered if there was a connection between the flood and the arrowheads. “Did this flood occur because my ancestors were stealing arrowheads from their ancestors?” he wondered. An uncontrollable shiver ran through Philip and he let out a whimper.

“Something is happening to Philip again” said his brother who was seated in the back with him.

Philips mother turned around and looked at him. “Are you all right?” she asked. “You look strange” she added.

The shiver subsided and Philip responded “Yes Mommy, I’m OK. It was the arrowheads.”

Philip’s mother inspected his facial color and scanned him over; twice. She then placed her hand on his forehead. “No fever” she pronounced, whereupon she turned around and assumed her normal position in the front passenger seat. While looking over the flood scene she asked Philip “Arrowheads? What arrowheads? What are you talking about?”

“You know Mommy. The Indian arrowheads and their village is now flooded. Why?” responded Philip with an answer and a question.

“Oh Philip, you say the strangest things. I wish you could explain more clearly so we could understand what you’re getting at.”

The people in the car were silent as they rode along. They were well aware of Philip’s strange questions. An occasional “Oh, look at that!” was shouted as one person would point out a flood spectacle to the others. These punctuations broke the silence as Philip sat quietly in the back seat. He was busy contemplating the arrowheads and the flooded Indian village.

*               *               *

Forty three years later, 1979, a country home in upstate New York housed three adults and several children. The adults consisted of the homeowner and his wife. The third adult was his brother-in-law. The homeowner was a massive man. The brother-in-law was tall and thin but not as athletic as he had been seventeen years ago. Back then he was loading and unloading his truck or tramping through the underbrush and deep woods of upstate New York. He loved the woods and spent most of his free time there.

It was the middle of the night and the brother-in-law was plying his trade at the kitchen table. The homeowner was expected to be sleeping upstairs but his weight betrayed him. The floor boards squeaked beneath his feet.

The brother-in-law quickly abandoned his efforts at the kitchen table. He thought that the rifle sounded quite different inside the house. The bullet followed its intended path and tore through the homeowner’s neck. As it fragmented it tore away a sizeable piece of flesh taking some large veins with it. Somehow the homeowner was able to remain at the top of the staircase.

The brother-in-law fired a second shot. It also hit the intended target. The homeowner fell backward with another deep wound. This time it was in his arm. He could hear the bolt action of the rifle carrying a third cartridge into the chamber. The wounded man knew that retreat was no longer an option. Half falling, half leaping, he descended the stairs and was grabbing at the rifle. His assailant pulled the trigger for the third time. The battle over the rifle had deflected the shooters aim and the bullet sheared off a portion of the larger man’s foot. The rifle fell to the floor as they grappled. The assailant grabbed a large hunting knife that lay nearby. He attacked his brother-in-law with it. He wondered if the huge man would ever fall.

*               *                *

Six years had passed since the flood of 1936. Philip had seen other floods since then but nothing matching that one. Binghamton had been decimated by the waters of the Susquehanna, Chenango, and their tributaries; the Otselic, the Tioughneoga, and the Oeuleot.

Each year Philip wondered about the Indian village that lay beneath his jasper colored flood waters. Something haunted him about it. Other things also haunted Philip. He had night dreams that involved a movie theatre. The theatre had a large stone fortress attached to the back of it. He could not see the fortress unless he went into the theatre, behind the curtain, and up a flight of stairs. A door was located at the top of the stairs. It was lighted and had the word “EXIT” printed in red on the frosted glass. Each time he opened the door the parapet was always there. It had a three foot high stone wall around its outer rim that protected people from falling over the side.

In each reoccurrence of the dream Philip chose not to be protected by the wall. Instead he would climb on top of it and inch his was over to another part of the fortress. A loose stone would sometimes break lose and fall. It seemed like it would take forever for the stone to reach the water below where it would land with a loud splash. Philip would search for a way to climb down by hanging on to outlaying stone footholds. His goal was to locate the source of the water. Large stone tunnels would direct the slow moving water but Philip could never locate the source before the dream ended. He often wondered, when awake, if the dream ended before his search was over or did he simply not remember the end of the dream. Philip was deeply bothered by the enigma of not being able to recall or finish the dream.

Other dreams seemed deeply imbedded in Philip’s mind but these were not sleep induced dreams. These dreams occurred in the middle of the day. They had a deep effect on his ability to concentrate. Philip, in school, looked out the window and would lose himself. He appeared no different than any other boy in his beginning teens. Spring and fall had a typically strong pull in this respect. Most boys in upstate New York would be thinking about fishing and hunting as they looked out the window. Nature called them and they responded in similar fashion. It also responded quite differently at times.

*               *               *

The massive body of the larger man overcame his brother-in-law’s attack. He was able to take the knife from him. He stabbed him time and again until the attacker lay dead on the living room floor. It was only then that the larger man realized that he had been stabbed and shot several times.

As he began to assess his situation he saw two of his infant children standing there. They had observed the knife fight. His eyes drifted to the kitchen. His wife was tied, spread-eagle fashion, to the kitchen table. Cloths line rope tightly bound her wrists and ankles to the table. Her night gown had been ripped open exposing her nude body. The large man, although bleeding profusely from gunshot and knife wounds, was able to crawl into the kitchen. He cut the ropes from one of his wife’s wrists, handed her the bloody hunting knife, and then died.

In this rural community the fire company was the first call in emergencies. The wife called the fire station and the assistant chief was the first one to respond. There, lying on the floor, dead, soaked in blood, were two men; the homeowner and his brother-in-law. The sheriff’s department of Tioga County was notified.

*               *               *

Philip’s daydreams would take him deep into the woods that he loved so much. He would picture himself sitting beneath a large tree with his back against it. Inevitably, in these day dreams, it would get dark and the leaves would start rustling. The imaginary breeze increased and Philip had to seek shelter as the temperature seemed to be getting colder. Among the trees he would find a small church; always without a sign of denomination. Once inside he would kneel and pray for a happy life; something that he felt he would never experience. Then in another pew a pretty young girl would appear. Philip’s young body would respond. He became aroused and experienced a daydream erection. At that very moment a minister would walk to the altar and everyone was requested to stand up. There was Philip in his daydream, standing in church with a large bulge in his pants; and everyone was looking at him. His day-dream was broken by an authoritative voice.

“Philip, Philip” the teacher would call when she saw him in one of his stupors. “Are you with us today?” She then always asked “Philip, would you please read for us?” while stating the page.

Philip started reading while sitting at his desk; quite aware that his erection was real and no daydream at all.

“Philip, please stand while you read so that we can hear you” the teacher would ask. Philip knew that everyone inspected the obvious and giggled about it. He would become quietly enraged and his situation would not subside. He suspected that the teacher also realized what was happening and that she, somehow, received perverse satisfaction from it. He hated the older woman for it.

*               *               *

It was just two days prior to the murder when the home owner was drawn into another threat. The entangled relationships of the people involved need to be clarified in order to paint a clear picture.

We need to go back three years before the 1979 slaying and justifiable homicide. The husband, Ed, who had been murdered, had a sister, Betsy. The sister married the man who was to eventually slay Ed. Then, nine months before the terrible event described above, the sister and her husband, the attacker, separated on an informal basis. The reason for the separation is unknown but a comment from a very close friend is.

“Him and Betsy, they were both a little off. But they were good people.” This friend appears often in the attacker’s history and at the most inopportune times.

For reasons unknown to us, Ed’s sister Betsy decided to move out of the residence. However, her husband, Ed’s brother-in-law, was allowed to continue living there. Two days before Ed was slain Betsy placed several calls to Ed’s house. She threatened to kill him. Apparently Ed took the calls seriously. He contacted the sheriff of Chemung County, where Betsy lived, and filed a complaint against her. Betsy was picked up and jailed the next morning. That night Ed’s brother-in-law formed a plan to be carried out the next morning.

*               *               *

Philip’s school work was very inconsistent by the time he was fifteen years old. Apparently his writing teacher loved the creative stories that Philip would submit for homework. His overactive imagination, daydreams, and night-dreams were excellent fodder for such stories. She gave him an “A”. On the other hand his spelling teacher found that his attributes in that that subject were quite lacking. She failed him. Philips grades in other subjects were, similarly, quite dissimilar. Philip quit school at sixteen.

The woods and rivers are what beckoned Philip. All of his free time (and some that should have been spent at a job) was used for this escape into nature. When he did work Philip could not stay at one place of employment very long. He was fired from or quit several jobs.

Philip’s domestic life was also inconsistent. At times he lived with his mother in Glen Castle. At other times he lived over a laundry in Binghamton. Yet his name could be found scribbled on mailboxes of friends where he would stay for short periods of time. These friends would say that Philip would show up, stay a while, and then leave just as unexpectedly. Sometimes he even lived in his automobile.

There was no one who disliked Philip. He was considered a good friend by many, always willing to help anyone who was in need. His material possessions were few but he would offer the shirt off his back if someone needed it. Several people stated that he was friendly and talkative.

Philip had good friends all over the southern tier and central New York.

*             *               *

Where was the attacker prior to the murder on Bardwell Road in Nichols, Tioga County, New York? For details we would have to ask his friend who identified him as “a little bit off.” For general time frames we can consult the local newspapers between 1962 and 1979.

–    Broome County, NY          County Jail                 Fall of 1962

–    Matteawan State Prison for the Insane, NY         1962 to 1965

–    Judged Mentally Competent                                    1965

–    Broome County, NY            County Jail                   1965

–    Binghamton State Hospital for the Insane               1965

–    Matteawan State Prison for the Insane, NY             1965

–    Madison County, NY          County Jail                    1965

–    Marcy State Hospital for the Insane                        1965

–    Matteawan State Hospital for the Insane, NY     1965 to 1971

–    Judged Mentally Competent                                    1971

–    Madison County, NY         County Jail                    1971

–    Attica, NY                          State Prison            1971  to  1974

–    On parole                                                          1974 to 1979

 

The itinerary above begs more questions than it answers.

 

*               *               *

Philip’s young adult life was spent, as previously stated, in the woods or on a river. He continued living in various parts of Binghamton.  Philip had gained a thorough knowledge of the deep forests and its animals. There were several dozen of these New York State forests within an hour’s drive of Binghamton. These mature forests were the result of depression era plantings by the Civil Conservation Corps. Philip knew the feeding habits of the animals whether they browsed by day or by night. He knew their regularly used trails and understood how their habits changed during the mating season.

Philip developed an excellent knowledge of firearms also. His proudest possession was a Winchester .38 caliber rim fire rifle. It has been said that he could shoot out the eye of a deer and kill it with a small caliber .22 rifle. This feat would be accomplished by waiting until the animal had turned its head to the perfect angle. Philip would put the bullet through an eye socket and into the skull cavity where it would ricochet around destroying the brain. Philip was proud of the fact that he could kill his game with one shot. That way it did not suffer from being wounded and hunted down.

New York State Game Wardens insisted that Philip would do most of his deer hunting late at night; illegally. It would appear that this may be true except for the fact that Philip had no arrest record.

*               *               *

How does one account for such a variety of stays at local and state institutions? It is hard to fathom especially when the attacker had no prior arrests. We must look at the atmosphere of the sixties to understand some of the reasoning and the level of crimes.

The sixties, as we all know, were a period of introspection for the populace of the United States. We were involved in Vietnam and our nation was divided on the morality of that war. The universities were in turmoil, both over Vietnam and also over anything else that the more radical students would feel offended by. The Miranda Rule for warning suspects of rights was fairly new. Some officials thought “What rights should a criminal have?” while others thought “There is no criminality until a conviction is handed down.” Voluntary confessions were accepted and then, at times, not admitted as evidence.

On top of all this New York State was trying new ways to handle inmates of mental institutions. New drugs offered great promise. Many institutionalized citizens suddenly found themselves out on the streets. Who would ensure that they would take their medications after they were released? The plan was patchwork at best. There existed no foolproof plan to keep these people from hurting themselves (or others.)

*               *               *

It was a busy week for the authorities in Broome, Chenango and Madison Counties of New York. Local police, sheriff’s deputies, state police, coroners, district attorneys and state forest wardens were kept up all hours of the night and day. They were attempting to put pieces of a grizzly puzzle together.

In the meantime Philip was enjoying his normal weekend hunts and even found time to date his new girlfriend Clara Blair. Clara’s relatives thought much the same of Philip as his friends did. “Very talkative and friendly,” “Always willing to help anyone in need,” “Somewhat of an exaggerator but very nice person,” “Very quiet and to himself at times.”

It was a Sunday morning when Philip and Clara left her home in Earlville, Chenango County. The forty-seven year old Clara, mother of four, did not return home that evening. Clara’s family attempted to reach Philip through people he worked with. They were unsuccessful because Philip was out hunting with friends.

Thirty-two year old Philip was hunting that Sunday evening on Cresson Hill Road in Windsor, New York. When he and his friends returned to his automobile they found that a tire was flat. The most likely cause was from a stone puncture on the rough dirt road. A new tire was required for the fix. Walking down the hill they stopped at the home of Richard and Iva Mae Munson. On a previous occasion, and for the same reasons, these hunters had purchased a tire from the Munsons. This time there was no tire for sale. The hunters departed perplexed. Philips hunting companions arrived home at 3:00 A.M. the next morning.

Richard Munson worked odd shifts at the Delaware & Hudson railroad yard. To avoid interrupting his family’s sleep in the middle of the night, when he typically came home, he slept in an old trailer next to the house. Monday was his day off. He awoke, went to the house and had breakfast. His wife mentioned the story about the hunters looking for a tire. Iva Mae, a hard working woman of 41, then asked her husband to go to town and pick up some sugar for some jam she was making. He did as asked and also picked up his three daughters after school.

*              *               *

Philip had decided to sleep in his car that Sunday night. He may have been hunting illegally. Once more he stopped at the Munson home. The husband was in town. Iva Mae may have inadvertently laughed at a crude suggestion that Philip made. Philip placed two clean shots from his prized Winchester .38 rim fire into her head. He then ripped off most of her clothes and, with his hunting knife, slashed a gaping wound across her abdomen. We are not sure where Philip went after that but we are positive of what he did the previous day.

Clara Blair’s body was found in the deep woods at the border of Chenango and Madison Counties. Clara was also shot in the head and had most of her clothes ripped off. It is unclear as to whether either woman was sexually molested but it appears more likely in the case of Clara Blair.

Mrs. Munson’s head wounds were so horrific that it was first thought that she was bludgeoned to death. The Chief New York City Medical Examiner was flown in to advise on the autopsy.

Clara Blair’s body was not discovered for close to a week and her face had rapidly decomposed due to the wounds of the .38 Winchester.

Philip confessed to the Munson murder but not the Blair case. His prized Winchester was recovered after he described where he hid it. The rifle had been disassembled and hidden in two separate locations. It was proven to be the same rifle that Clara Blair was murdered with.

I would be remiss if I did not expand on Philips incarceration at the various New York State and local institutions that were listed above.

–    Philip X. Quinlivan murders Clara Blair, Sept. 9th, Iva Mae Munson, Sept. 10th, 1962

–    Broome County, NY, Jail, September, 1962; Philip arrested for the murder of Iva Mae Munson.

–    Binghamton Psychiatric Center, October, 1962; mental evaluation determined that Philip, because of mental defect, could not understand the charges against him.

–    Philip incarcerated at Matteawan State Prison for the Criminally Insane, NY, 1962

–    Doctors at Matteawan judged Philip mentally competent, 1965

–    Philip returned to Broome County, NY, County Jail ,1965

–    Philip was determined to have had his Miranda Rights violated

–    Philip returned to Binghamton State Hospital for evaluation, 1965

–    Philip found incompetent to stand trial, 1965

–    Philip returned to Matteawan State Prison for the Criminally Insane, NY, 1965

–    Doctors at Matteawan once again determine that Philip is competent, 1965

–    Philip returned to Madison County for trial in the murder of Clara, 1965

–    Philip pleads guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter, 1965

–    Philip sent to Marcy State Mental Hospital for evaluation, 1965

–    Philip committed to Matteawan State Prison for the Criminally insane, 1965

–    Doctors again find Philip competent, 1971

–    Philip returned to Madison County Jail for sentencing in Blair case, 1971

–    Philip committed to Attica State Prison for violent offenders, Attica, NY, 1974

–    Philip released on parole, 1974

–    On supervised parole, 1974 to 1979

–    Philip murders his brother-in-law, Ed Shirley, Nichols, New York, 1979

 

EPILOG

The similitude and echoes of this case are many. However they do exist within this true story of the man who created an archipelago of murders.

*          *          *

Both Iva Mae Munson and Clara Blair were older women.

Both Iva Mae Munson and Clara Blair had four children.

Clara Blair was murdered in the back country near Marsh Road.

Iva Mae Munson was murdered in the back country near Marsh Pond.

Philip’s friend was present, with comments, in the news story of 1962.

Philip’s friend was present, with comments, in the news story of 1979.

Errors by various state authorities appear to echo from 1962 to 1979.

Philip commits murder for the third time in 1979.

 *          *          *

I would like to thank the Local History Section of the Broome County (New York) Public Library for the availability of film copies of local newspapers that made this story possible. .

AN IGNORANT GOD

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Another essay moved from an older blog

Of course he is ignorant; ignorant of our inventions.

Time and space are the demarcations of our cultural borders and individual frontiers. From the archaeological to the historical records we have documented borders, frontiers and other dimensions of our mind (as if it were really possible to document the metaphysical).

Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina 1899 – 1986) refuted the concept of time, both past and future. He is not alone in these refutations. In his “Doctrine of Cycles” he reminds us that “the Pythagorians and Stoics argued that God’s knowledge is unable to comprehend infinite things and the eternal rotation of the worldly process serves to familiarize God with it.”

Singular events that occur in the past are joined together by our imaginations (logical and illogical); and the documentation is ubiquitous. These imaginings occur in a matter of split seconds, yet can result in conjunctions of events spread over millennia.

I apologize for using time as my first basis to abnegate time.

There are two documents which stand alone and are separated by almost three millennia. They are not joined by time; yet we have joined them together in our minds. The first document is Plato’s “Republic.” The second one is “Democracy in America” by Tocqueville. We can, without much difficulty and with sufficient perseverance, join them together by placing them in the category of political philosophy. They are stitched together with the writings of Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. This series of writings (The Apology, The Crito, Politics, The Prince, Leviathan, Constitutional Government, Democracy and Participation) make up an intricate needlework.

Each author was a separate man, with separate thoughts modified by separate times. Only the human ability to think has linked them together  .    .   .  and then  .   .   .  linked them together with this thing we call time. As you can clearly see, time is not real, it is an imaginary thing that we have used to tie our thoughts into neat little packages. Space is likewise a tool that we use to identify where one object stands in relationship to another (or the cultural distance between nations and people). Space becomes even more nebulous when we consider the cosmogonies; experts say that our universe is expanding while subsets of it are collapsing.

Our language, “a system of grunts and squeals” (professes Chesterton), serves to assist us in linking unthinkable thoughts together. I have failed to mention one other writer who has played a major part in the crocheting (with the thread of the writings mentioned above) political philosophy. That man is Averroes, the physician and thinker of Cordoba, Islamic Spain (Andalusia), eleventh century A.D..

Averroes, through his mental dexterity and perseverance, translated Aristotle. This we know. What we do not know is the name of the adventurous fellow who spirited Averroes’ translations across the Pyrenees. We also know that these translations gave the Renaissance a head start on its way to pre-science.

Andalusia (al Andalus) brings me back to my original thought of a God who is ignorant of borders, frontiers, and their supersets; time and space. When considering al Andalus, or Southern Iberia if you prefer that nomenclature, I am forced to observe the originations of borders that have been long forgotten. I offer the following list of events that depict cultural borders.

  • The purported vanishing of borders between Neanderthal and invading Homo Sapien through hybridization (Duarte, et al)
  • The expansion of the Iberian Megalithic Culture northward to Stonehenge and Scandinavia
  • The invasion of the Celts
  • The control of the coastlands by the Phoenicians
  • Cultural borders between the Lusitani, the Celitici, the Turditani and the Turdoli
  • The invasion of the Romans (stymied for eight years by an Iberian herdsman named Variatus)
  • The Visigothic crush of the Romans and establishment of Kingdoms
  • Islamic Arabic and Berber force’s invasion of Iberia via the Straights of Gibraltar
  • The establishment of an independent Islamic Emirate
  • Averroes’ translations during the muddling of borders by the always changing Islamic Party Kingdoms (Tiafas)
  • Christian Militias pushing back on Islamic borders until they no longer existed.

The confusion created by this blending, re-blending and folding back of borders and cultures may be shown with a more up-to-date example. Aristotelian logic was translated from Greek to Arabic and absorbed by the Renaissance; then translated to French and modified by European thought. This new Marxist Aristotle was finally translated back to Arabic and forced on the colonized Maghreb. Things that once appeared in a unique fragment of time were now blended to the point where only God knows what actually occurred.

This now offers me my intended opportunity to relate how God is ignorant of time and space; likewise the frontiers and borders that man invents. It also brings me to the point where I admit that time and borders blend into God; a truly spiritual yet unexpected outcome. This circular theme centers in the small village of Loiza Aldea, Puerto Rico. Prior to defining Loiza Aldea I am required to reference Iberia and Africa in pre-Loiza Aldea periods.

In Spain the defeat of the Islamic Moors was celebrated as the result of one main event; the miraculous appearance of St. James the Apostle (Santiago Apostel) to the embattled Catholic Militias. This appearance gave the militias the will to fight. Subsequently these militias became controllers of the Catholic sheep raising cartel (the Mesta). Spanish farmers were severely misused by the cartel. The Mesta was allowed to herd and drove its sheep wherever it wished. Farm crops were overrun and destroyed by the sheep. Compensation was not required to be paid for the damage. The famished and desperate people migrated from Spain by the thousands; many of them establishing their new homes in Puerto Rico.

In Africa, at the same time, Nigerian Yoruba Tribes were decimated by Islamic slave traders. Some of these slaves were brought to Puerto Rico to work the farms. Eventually the class gap between rich and poor grew wider. Many poor Spanish families squatted on the edges of the swampy lagoons of Carolinas east of Old San Juan. This squat village soon became known as El Fangito (the swamp). Over the years some of these families were joined by Yoruban families. The people of El Fangito were eventually forced to move (by their own government who destroyed their homes). Escaped slaves and freemen had previously migrated to Loiza Aldea where a Native Indian (Taino) compound existed.

The native Tiano had, as their queen, “Yuiza.” The Yorubans had, as their warrior god, “Chango.” The Spanish had, as their patron, “Santiago Apostel.”

Each July in Loiza Aldea a ten day festival is held to commemorate the victory of Santiago Apostel. But the borders and frontiers are in voluntary disarray. The Islamic Iberian Moors and slave traders have taken on the persona of “Vijigantes”; played by locals who are dressed in colorful and blousy costumes and frightful masks made of coconut shells. Multiple images of Santiago Apostle, Queen Yuiza and warrior Chango share the streets with each other. St. Peter, patron of the local church, also holds a prominent place. The flag of Loiza Aldea is flown with its multi-cultural simulacrums of the yellow Yoiza River, images of the bells of the local church, and shared colors of all inhabitants.

God remains ignorant of borders or cultural frontiers in Loiza Aldea. He remains unaffected by the time or space that their ancestors occupied. Yet their God (a trinity of Spanish, African and Caribbean cultures) is now One.

 

© Copyright – Waldo Tomosky

! FACTORIAL !

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Just another of my short stories being moved here.

New Factorial

 

I have it on good authority (University of Texas) that Girolamo Cardan documented DeLudo Aleae (along with Ars Magna); even though DeLudo Aleae was published posthumously (sometime after 1576).

Others added directly to, or along side of, Cardan’s work on these games of chance; such as Galileo, Descartes, Huygens, Newton and Leibnitz. And of course there also was John Graunt of London who (it is my opinion) thought that the greatest game of chance was death; therefore his London Life Table which shows the chances of reaching a specific age.

Among these scholarly people such profound works as the following are found.

“Erycii Puteani Pietatis Thaumata in Bernardi Bauhusii e Societate Jesu Proteum Parthenium” “Themes of chance; Bernard Bauhusii of the Society of Jesus”(Puteanus)

and

“Kybeia, quoe combinatoriae genus est, de Alea, et Ludis Fortunae serio desputans”, “Quoting combinations for a type of gambling and games of fortune seriously desputed” (Carmel).

But nothing is shown to us of the work of Tripsek Gunf.

Tripsek Gunf was not only a great thinker but also a practitioner of what he had contemplated. This is, more often than not, a dangerous combination. It is one thing to ‘think.’ It is one thing to ‘do.’ But to think and do can lead to dire outcomes as Gunf (not so soon) realized.

The story that I now relate is founded on the holdings of another university; The University of Romaniciate, Galicia. The document that I describe below is old and, at times, undecipherable. However, what is readable has been verified by several scholars in Galicia.

Gunf [1243- 1305], Tarnapol (now the Ukraine) had completed work on several aspects of gaming. Most of this work was completed for the purpose of betting on horse races across the steppes.

One of the largest problems that Gunf encountered was the random way in which the horses were lined up at the beginning of the race. He had noted, over the years, that when certain horses were toward the north side of the starting line, they were more likely to win.

Gunf spent winter after winter, in his tent, attempting to understand this anomaly. The problem was too large for him to keep organized in his mind. One winter, he made thirty clay models of horses of different types and colors. These he arranged and re-arranged according to his almost flawless memory of past races. He soon realized that the odds approached infinity as the number of horses in any one race increased.

Starting out with two horses and then working up to three, then four, then five, six, and so on, his problem could be clearly seen. The total number of combinations became mind boggling. His problem was now a new one (as life’s problems are always new). Gunf had to determine a method that he could use to quickly determine the possibility of all combinations. And, he had to do it as the horses were lining up at the starting point so that he could place his bets.

Gunf was able to prove to himself that it was a problem of multiplication.

In a one horse race that horse would always win.

Two horses could be lined up in two ways so either could win.

However, once there were three horses they could be lined up in any of six ways therefore he had to make six considerations before betting.

Let us look at this with three horses named “A”, “B” and “C.”

As you can clearly see there are six possible ways that “A”, “B” and “C” can win, place or show.

Gunf’s only problem was a philosophical one. The numbering system that prevailed at that time started with zero. This was necessary for the accounting of multiple bushels of wheat.

Gunf decided that this zero (0) problem could be rectified with an analogy. The analogy was a comparison to the possibility of the race being cancelled. He set this factor to the value of zero (0). He could now quickly perform all the mathematical operations on the “factor tables” that he had created.

The mathematics worked out fine if he set the factor “0” as equal, numerically, to “1”. He knew that this was troubling but also realized that he would never be expected to bet on a cancelled race. Therefore he did not dwell on it.

“Gunf’s Tables” of combinations and permutations where invented. He became the richest man to bet on equine races in Tarnapol. The astonishing history of Gunf hardly ends at this point though.

The energy of his mind overcame the possibility of the effete life normally brought on by riches. Gunf now had money and access to travel. He visited some of the most famous libraries in the east and west. He read anything that he was able to (and had others translate and read for him what he could not).

During that time Gunf had his tables drawn up by scribes that were often available in the libraries of large cities. It was during this period that one of these scribes suggested shorthand for these factors that he used. They agreed upon the sign     !      as the shorthand for these factors.

Therefore, !1 would represent a one horse race (and the only combination possible). This, mathematically, would be written in long hand as 1.

The two horse race would be !2, which, of course, would represent the long hand mathematics of 1 x 2 = 2 (or two combinations in which the horses could finish).

Then, logically, !3 (if calculated longhand) would be 1 x 2 x 3 = 6 different ways in which the horses could finish;  !4 as 1x2x3x4=24 different ways to win (and so on and so forth).

This allowed Gunf to determine his odds with great speed. He became very wealthy.

Now Gunf was not only rich, he had fame also. The “Gunf Tables” were copied and placed in one of the most famous libraries of the world; The Library of Alexandria.

Still, even with the riches, even with the fame, something was bothering Gunf. Something was not quite right with the tables. Deep down, as deep down inside every man, something bothered . And he unconsciously knew what it was; although he could not admit his mind to dwell on it.

During this period of great wealth, liberty and learning Gunf became married and had two children. He had become so enraptured with his mathematical pastime that he (socially) became child-like. Much to his wife’s dismay he named the first child (a boy) “0” and the second child (a girl) “1”

Gunf read philosophical treatises, religious tracts, various bibles, the Quran, Greek tragedy, and, had others read to him from their favorite books and passages. (He knew what he was seeking but could not voice it.) Finally, after enough encounters with it, he dreamt of it. On that fateful night he saw the number “1” over the foot of his bed. The figure of some foreign god held the number chest high until he saw Gunf’s eyes open.

The foreign manuscript that this story is written on has deteriorated. Therefore I can not honestly say that I know whether Gunf saw this god with his open eyes or the god saw Gunf with his eyes open. It really does not matter because the crux of the dream is that Gunf saw the number “1” being held aloft by this spirit-figure that he interpreted as a god.

Around his bed stood the scholars and readers that he had sought in various libraries throughout the world. All of them echoed what the foreign god held high; “one”, “1”, “unity”, “alpha”, “n/n”, each one saying it aloud or holding the abstract symbols in their hands. The dream continued on; Gunf could not wake himself from it. Scholars were replaced by other scholars, readers by other readers.

Gunf awoke to the clanging bell attached to a camel being led outside his tent. He was sweaty and damp from the fear of the dream. Still in his night cloths, he ran to his table and made several notes; some in mathematical terms, some in geometrical figures and a few repeats from various religious sources.

Finally he wrote down what he could not face before. It was the problem that had been bothering him for some time. His factors “!0” and  “!1” both had to equal the numerical value of 1 if his treatise and tables were to hold true. As odd as this seemed to Gunf, numerically it had to be true. He, now, and clearly, recognized that the number one was equal to something that people of other cultures called “unity.” He additionally realized that “unity” symbolized multiple gods (which conflicted with his thoughts, as there could only be one God in his belief system). His mind could not help but recognize that these were all the same thing; and this included the ‘alpha’ (if not the ‘omega).’

One (“1”) became the meaning of Gunf’s life. The remainder of his work centered around the number 1  (one).    …   ….    …..    ……  Yet, other things had not yet played out.

His children “came of age.” At that point they became a factor in the world (along with all the rights and responsibilities of factoring). They also earned a title and the appropriate suffix,    !,      which denoted adulthood. The young man named “0” became “!0” (factorial zero) and the young woman named “1” became “!1” (factorial one).

It was only then that Gunf realized that his two children had both become identical to the mathematical number 1; which was also ‘unity’ which was also ‘God.’ Furthermore they were identical and he could no longer tell them apart or even know which one was originally “0” and which one was “1” .

The history of Gunf trails off at that point due to the deteriorating condition of the manuscript; although there must have been more to this biography.