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Old 09-09-2013, 11:13 AM   #176
tylertwo
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

Before I tell this part, I want to stress that you should follow your doctor's orders about treatment and my story is NOT to discourage going through it. My friends who decided that the treatment is worse than the disease are all dead now...
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Life has a way of coming full circle. I went into the doctor at fifty years old to get shots of Testosterone to help my lift, lol. My bench was falling and I thought that would help. The doctor decided that I'd better have a physical since it had been more than ten years since the last one.

When he called me in to review my tests he had a serious look on his face and asked me if I was addicted to heroin! When I told him no, that I hadn't even had a drink in ten years, he gave me the bad news. My ALT and AST (liver scores) were elevated, so they ran the antibody test for Hep C. It showed that I did indeed have the virus and they then asked for permission to test for Genotype. The tests showed that I had Type II, a type that is most prevalent in Asia...

The Navy didn't know at the time they were using the air gun to mass inoculate newly arrived "scrubs", that they were passing on what the early research called a non A/non B Hep virus. That little trickle of blood that ran down each of our arms (the older model gun was used up until the mid 70's), was transferring the sickness to hundreds of thousands of young men and women at the time.

Hepatitis C is not the same thing as Hep A or Hep B. They are all called Hepatitis because they attack the liver, but the treatment for each is different. The only thing I was told was that the treatment had harsh side effects and lasted from six months to one year. It only worked about half the time and many people had to go through it two and three times to become clear. (There have been advancements, but it is actually more difficult today.) I was very busy working at the time, so while I went to the class offered on treatment, I knew there was no way I could give up that much of my life.

I pretty much forgot about the fact that I had the virus for years afterward. I wasn't too worried about carrying it, because it is very difficult to infect someone else through day to day living. (Pretty much needles, so the primary ways now are addicts and tattoos (old school autoclaves which, while government approved at the time, did not kill the virus. There are also outbreaks in Canada that are proven, because of their excellent national records, to have come from faulty procedures at certain dentists.)

Millions are infected worldwide and some studies say that it is close to five million in the US. Because of the long gestation period (thirty and forty years is not unusual), it remains a fairly hidden disease. It slowly kills the liver and is much more deadly in those who drink alcohol, rendering the liver unable to clean the poisons (ALT and AST) out of the blood. The fact that I don't drink probably gave me twenty more years before the problems began.

Like most things, you can't ignore something forever, the Hep C kicked in a genetic anomaly (Hemochromotosis, the blood stores too much iron), which then caused heart failure (It was at 20% functioning level (I said, "What, I can't lift weights?', lol.)), so I decided to go on treatment. I was retired by then, the business was sold, I decided to prepare for the rest of my life.

The treatment consists of shots that you give yourself once a week and pills that must be taken precisely on time twice a day with an exact amount of food. Some genotypes require a third set of pills, at completely different times (also very precise and if a single mistake is made the treatment usually fails to work). That is the easy part.
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:16 PM   #177
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

The hard part are the side effects. Giving yourself a shot once a week (Interferon), that gives you a bad case of the flu for six months or a year, is never going to be easy. Luckily (?!), my variant only required six months, two sets of drugs and had the best cure rate (along with Genotype III) of any Hep C. (They have identified seven different types as of two years ago, although I have only personally known people with one through four. My cure rate at the time was about 66%)

It started off bad and progressively got worse. I was tireder than I had ever been but could not sleep. I could barely get out of bed, I was too dizzy to stand, my skin began to shrink up and die, I had what were like thousands of mosquito bites all over me, my hair started falling out, my gums receded along with a host of other problems. Loads of fun!

The key to making it through (And yes, much of he failure rate, particularly in the year long treatment, is due to people quitting.), is having a good regular doctor, one who is willing to bravely write the scripts for whatever Schedule One drug that you think you need that week. It sounds almost crazy, but those of us on the treatment forum (Absolutely wonderful, kind people who I love dearly and who for many are still fighting that fight!) would share ideas for drugs trying to deal with side effects, that we would then insist that our doctors give us. Never once were my friends, who were only a few weeks ahead of me in TX, wrong when they told me that this is what you need to survive a little while longer.

Tamazapam, Dilauded (bad migraines for two weeks and then they went away), many other opiates, Ambien, five different antihistamines (for the itch, easily my worst SX!), stomach pills (for gagging), etc., etc., etc. The saying is, it's tough, but do able. Many times I wasn't sure I was tough enough to continue, every single time I did my shot I would think, "Wouldn't it be better to just die?".

Each persons body is different and many people had to be pulled off treatment because their blood numbers fell too low. It's an added worry that you will suffer for four or five months and then be pulled off, knowing that the virus comes back in almost every case. The treatment is very expensive for the insurers, so you are tested periodically during TX to see if the virus has returned, they don't want to spend a penny more than necessary. (The virus does return during treatment many heartbreaking times...)

I have gone through a foot infection, a foot fusion (twenty plus years later), kidney failure (from the pills that let me walk on that foot), but nothing was close to the treatment. I've told people that it took a piece of me that I am just now getting back after two plus years. I have heard it's easier if you are younger (what is't?) and there are new drugs in the pipeline. I also figure that if I hadn't gotten this virus, there is probably a different one with my name on it out there, such is life.

So each March, for the rest of my life, I will need to be tested to see if the virus has returned and with every test tube of blood that they draw, I will be reminded of my young wild self, that lifetime ago in the Navy. Funny how life works...
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Old 09-10-2013, 08:12 PM   #178
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

Great read, Tyler - thank you for taking the time to write this down. I look forward to hearing more about you.
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Old 09-10-2013, 09:31 PM   #179
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

wow
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Old 09-10-2013, 10:47 PM   #180
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

Very crazy Bundy story wow. tyler you seem like an interesting dude, I remember when I first saw you in atf I thought you were a fuddy duddy dorkball. you're actually a pretty cool fuddy duddy dorkball.
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Old 09-11-2013, 12:58 PM   #181
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

Thanks guys and yes, 27, I would probably use those words to describe myself, lol.
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:23 PM   #182
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

The next little story is a true one from my distant past. It's the story of how I was taken to the deathbed of a man who, as the sheriff of Deming, New Mexico, was shot by the outlaw Pancho Villa. His dying wish was for me to strap on his six gun and his badge.

I went on a quest to be the hero of my life the very next day...

(and yes, I will make you believe.)
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:41 PM   #183
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

Quote:
Originally Posted by tylertwo View Post
The next little story is a true one from my distant past. It's the story of how I was taken to the deathbed of a man who, as the sheriff of Deming, New Mexico, was shot by the outlaw Pancho Villa. His dying wish was for me to strap on his six gun and his badge.

I went on a quest to be the hero of my life the very next day...

(and yes, I will make you believe.)

Was your breath as hard as kerosene?
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:05 AM   #184
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

I hope there's barking iron.
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Old 09-12-2013, 03:09 PM   #185
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

"He's dead? How did he die?"
"Well, he shot himself."
"Shot himself? How could Superman shoot himself?"
"He was an actor, he shot himself."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

It was 1959 and I didn't know anything about death. Heck, I was living with my great grandmother, she had been born just after the Civil War and she was still alive. She said it was because of Oral Roberts, he was the one keeping her alive.

Everyday, we would watch him on our little black and white TV, jumping around the stage, hollering and waving his arms. Sometimes, he would reach down and smack somebody on the forehead and they would rise up out of their wheelchair and walk. So he must be the one keeping her alive, so no one would ever die.

In West Texas, in the 1950's, the main game played by kids was Texas Rangers against the bad guys, but nobody wanted to play the bad guys. The only bad guys we could find were the Dolezol twins from down the street. They were so dirty that no one wanted them around. We said they could play with us if they would always play the bad guys. So every day they would die, because the bad guys always died and then they lived again.

My gun, the gun that I practiced quick draw daily with was the "Palladin" gun. It was a silver gun in a black holster and it had a secret pocket with little cards inside that said, "Have gun-will travel." I carried it with me when I made my rounds of the neighborhoods selling doughnuts door to door.

Six huge doughnuts, made with potato flour and I sold them for thirty-five cents a bag. I got to keep ten cents of that and on a normal six to seven hour Saturday, I would make thirty cents, a lot of money for a kid in 1959. Things were different then, in those days the good guys always won.

Everything was simple then, everything was precise. We had a Chevy Bel Air and that meant that my father's boss drove an Impala. It meant that his boss drove an Oldsmobile, a two door if he was single and a four door if he was married. Now, his boss would drive a Buick, but I only saw him once and that was really a sight. But, the owner? The owner, would drive a Cadillac and I had never seen a Cadillac in real life. Owners and movie stars drive Cadillacs and we didn't have any of those around in 1959.

The neighbors across the street had furniture made with wagon wheels, very high fashion in Texas at the time and my best friend "Billy" was learning the steel guitar. We would yodel to Alvin and the Chipmunks, while playing that guitar real loud. Their kin all came from New Mexico, so they had to make up for that failing by being "extra" western, but they were still okay by me.
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:53 AM   #186
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Diamond Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

I'm surprised none of your friends wanted to play the bad guy. Being the bad guy is so much fun.
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Old 09-13-2013, 08:11 PM   #187
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

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I'm surprised none of your friends wanted to play the bad guy. Being the bad guy is so much fun.
That is one of the main differences between then and now, lol. It is interesting how popular culture has made the bad guys more complex and nuanced. I would definitely want to be a bad guy in the movies now.
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Old 09-13-2013, 09:43 PM   #188
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

Nice addition to your undertitle Tyler
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Old 09-14-2013, 11:37 AM   #189
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

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Nice addition to your undertitle Tyler
Thanks gambit. I wasn't even sure what a hotlink was before, lol. I suppose my location will have to be a cryptic reference to Fahrenheit 451 or something now.
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Old 09-14-2013, 12:38 PM   #190
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
I was offered the opportunity to go with Billy's family to see his grandfather who was on his deathbed. I remember asking his parents why he didn't just get up and sleep somewhere else, which I also remember them chuckling to, but I didn't know why. We all piled into their Plymouth station wagon (which meant of course, that his father's boss drove a Dodge) and set out to Deming, New Mexico to see this old man.

I don't remember much of the trip which means that it went very well. I would always get car sick when I was young, so the fact that I don't have bad feelings about the journey must mean that Billy and I (plus his little brother) entertained ourselves the whole way.

When we got there we were told to stay away from the closed door at the far end of the hall, to not make any noise on that side of the house and that we would be called into that room if and when we were wanted. It was a very different time in the fifties, children were considered chattel and expected to do precisely what they were told. Because that room had taken on a spooky air, we weren't really sure we wanted to go in there anyway and when we heard that Billy's brother couldn't go in there because he might be too afraid, we were sure this was going to be one of those experiences that was "good" for us, but not very much fun.

We did discover that their flower beds had hundreds of little frogs to play with, so we spent our time outside messing in the dirt. We would catch them and put them in jars, think better of it, release them and then start all over again.

After awhile an adult came out and asked us if we wanted to see something very special in the garage. He then went to the garage door and pulled it open. The old man dying in the house owned a Cadillac! It was a white 1958 Sedan Deville and we were allowed to climb in the back and pretend we were being chauffeured around town, just like the movie stars. I remember looking out the back window, seeing those huge fins and thinking that that this had to be the greatest car ever made. (and more than fifty years later I still feel the same...)

We played in that car for hours, imagining ourselves to be every famous person on earth, until they had to pull us into dinner where I got another surprise. They had orange potatoes with marshmallows on them. Those were the weirdest thing that I had ever seen (I guess our family didn't serve sweet potatoes, lol.) and one taste let me know that I would never be putting that in my mouth again, what a strange food.

It was sometime during dinner that it was decided that Billy and I would be taken into the room to say goodbye to his grandfather. I assume that he had asked to see us, because I remember a bit of debate between some of the adults, but we were to go in anyway.

Both of us were afraid as we were walked up that door. An old house, a dark hallway and a dying man seemed more out of a movie than real life, but we inched our way forward, all the while with some adult pushing at our backs, telling us to be brave. When the door opened our eyes got huge, because on each side of the bed were two huge bombs, shiny in the darkness.
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Old 09-14-2013, 08:32 PM   #191
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

Here is a little musical interlude. This kid reminds me of what it was like growing up in Texas a long time ago, this is the music we sang...

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Old 09-14-2013, 08:51 PM   #192
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

Jebus Tyler - your blog is ****ing great. Are you sure you didn't lift that last part from a Thomas Pynchon novel or something?
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Old 09-14-2013, 09:30 PM   #193
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Yeah, I feel whimsy all over in the morning when I read your updates. They make for a great start to the day.
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Old 09-15-2013, 04:24 PM   #194
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

The weird part about those bombs was that they had tubes coming out of them that went directly into the old man's nose. He lay there all shriveled up hardly alive; I could hear his breathing, just barely. He waved his hand, beckoning us forward and I heard one of the adults telling him who I was.

When he reached out his hand to shake mine, it felt like he was made of paper mache. I was afraid, but I was polite and of course I called him sir. As I got close, I could look in his eyes and I could see that there was a real person inside there. His eyes were still alive. I thought I could see the young man that he was once and it made me less afraid. Then he began to talk about his adventure those many years before.

He was a young sheriff, responsible for two little towns on the border of Mexico, Deming and Columbus. He spoke about the raid by Pancho Villa and how they had come at night and surprised the whole town. An army of almost five hundred men had crept into the US under cover of darkness and started to burn the entire town of Columbus to the ground.

Of course, I sat in Texas history classes every school day of my life, so I heard the tales of that raid. Our lessons differed greatly from the schools in Mexico that extolled Pancho Villa as a hero, certainly not the villain that I learned about in class. And of course, in the story that the old man told the only heroes were Americans, brave and fearless.

The small garrison of soldiers were taken by surprise, so all of the townspeople rushed out to the field of battle with their rifles and tried to help the Army save their homes. It was a fierce battle, many houses were burned and many lives were lost.

At one point the young sheriff came upon the commander of the Mexican forces face to face. Both fired at once, but the sheriff was struck in the leg. He kept firing from the ground, but the battle continued into the hills and left him behind. He was one of two people to have been wounded in that firefight and survive.

As the soldiers regrouped they took the hill where Villa and his men were holding up and chased them back across the border. The Army followed them, but Villa and his band escaped with 80 horses and mules, it was considered a great coup at the time south of the border, a great disgrace for America.

The US sent troops to go in to Mexico, to take revenge and protect the border. He told us that the first time that he had ever seen an airplane was the one that was brought in to look for Pancho Villa and his Army. After awhile they were called back to Washington when World War One broke out, Mexico's importance took a back seat to Europe and the towns were on their own once again. The young Sheriff had been taken to the hospital where he recovered and went back to riding his duties on horseback and wearing his six gun on his hip.

He pointed to the dresser and there was a picture of him in his prime, right before he was wounded, at that age when you can still take on the world. Next to the picture was that same six gun that he had drawn on Pancho Villa and the star that he had worn that day. No one had ever been allowed to touch that gun before, it was his pride and joy, but suddenly he told us two little boys to take that gun down and strap it on one at a time.
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Old 09-17-2013, 12:23 PM   #195
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

Now, of course by the age of eight, I had fired a real gun many times. The adults in my life would strap on their revolvers and we would go out on the desert every weekend to shoot at targets for fun. I would shoot for awhile and then I would be sent off into the dunes to look for arrowheads. I had never been allowed to practice quick draw with a real gun, because it was considered too dangerous for for a little kid. Those were funny times.

Billy and I carefully pulled that big gun down together and of course, being the guest, I put it on first. Then one of the adults pinned the badge on my shirt and told me to smile. They wanted to take a picture of me with the gun drawn, so I slowly pulled it out of the holster, careful not to point it at anyone. I remember thinking how heavy it was, it must have been bigger than the others I had shot in the past.

Flashbulbs went off and that acrid odor covered the room. I'm not sure what happened to those pictures, but I know that I never saw them, so I'm sure they are buried in some old box of stuff somewhere, smelling just like the fifties, a very special smell indeed. I'd like to see them today, if for no other reason than to know for sure those times really were what they were.

The Sheriff talked to us about being honest and true, the same story that you heard every single day back then, but made more powerful by it being near his final words. It was strange for me standing there listening to him, because he was a real hero in my little boy eyes and back then the good guys didn't die. Back then the good guys always won.

I don't remember much about the drive back, so I guess it went fine. We told the story to all our friends and you could just see the envy in their eyes. I had met a hero, a hero who really owned a Cadillac, like real heroes always did.

I went back to practicing my quick draw, just in case the need ever arose for a hero in the future, a hero who would never die.
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Old 09-20-2013, 07:13 PM   #196
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

I took a few days away to think, lol. Rather than start another story right off, I thought that I would lay out the issues that I am dealing with right now and see what happens. I'm well aware that my issues will be entirely different than most people have, in fact they may not even seem like problems.

Saying that, I'm going to start with a story, lol. It's a little thing that I've shared before and someone wanted me to expand on it, it is part and partial a large reason as to how I ended up where I am.

It was a story I'd read many years before about a man driving his son by a field out in the country. Suddenly, the man pulled over to the side of the road. He and the boy got out and looked out across the pasture and he pointed out an old horse that was grazing in the grass. He told his son that he wanted him to see the horse up close, so they hopped over the fence and walked out in the field.

When they reached the horse, the man calmed the huge animal down and told his son that he wanted him to climb up and sit on the horse. The boy was a little afraid, but he did what he was told. The horse didn't seem to mind having the boy sit on him, he'd had many people ride him in the past and this little kid didn't seem like much of a threat. The old horse walked around, still eating, but he didn't go very far.

After awhile, the boy dismounted and the two of them walked back across the field. The man looked down at the boy and told him that he should think about this lesson for the rest of his life. The man told the boy that he had no idea where he would end up in life and he didn't know how many horses that he would ride, but that he should always remember that the first horse he ever rode was "Man o War", the greatest racehorse alive.

I've spent a lifetime having these types of experiences. I have lived the "examined" life up to this point, but now I'm not really sure what's next. Whether it's the treatment for Hep C or my age, it seems as if my life is in some sort of limbo and I don't seem to have that same fearless attitude that I once had.

My health is good, my heart came back to normal after the iron stuff, so I really have no excuse for not doing something, I'm just not sure what that something is. I don't expect to rock the world anymore, but I would like to feel as if I'm still at least somewhat "important" to life. It's an interesting search for meaning in a world that tends to under value large sections of society.

I want to have more, one of a kind experiences (for a 62 year old, which, as much as I hate to admit it, is a limiting factor) and I'm still in the search.
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:30 PM   #197
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

You've already answered your own question by starting to write this blog. It is clear that you not only have a gift for story telling, but that you also have a ton of stories to tell, and enough time to write them.
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Old 09-23-2013, 11:07 AM   #198
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

I think you are right about the writing part. I'm still not convinced that I can write fiction, but I think I just need to jump in and see what happens. Like Allrighty Roo said, I should wrap the story around something I know and take it from there.

I'm planning to go back to Burning Man in the future, so I should get a recharge of creativity from that. I'm going to go with a group of young people (ex students) and they always push me into new things, lol.

My goal is to move back to Venice Beach on a more full time basis. I will get a place downtown here in Denver and just travel back for the grand kids birthdays, etc. I'm missing the weirdness of the beach life, although I know I will miss the absolute quiet when I'm living out there again. If I'm going to be off the wall creative, then that's where it's going to happen.
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Old 09-23-2013, 11:45 AM   #199
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The old house was supposedly built to act as boarding rooms for the cattle drivers following the Santa Fe trail. It had a sordid history, eventually becoming a house of ill repute and people would cross the street to avoid walking in front of it, where they might encounter wild drunks, blowing their wages on sin.

It took on a dark symbolism in the little town, never mentioned by name in polite company. Children would snicker and point in it's direction, sure that all manner of terrible things went on inside those walls. Three stories of brooding windows looked over Rapp Street, the rickety staircase up the outside giving it a sinister air.

The story of the murder began around 1910, when the children heard that the police had carried a body out of the house in the night. It was really just a simple story of love and loss, but you know how kids are. It became a terrible war between good and evil, with ghosts and goblins forever trapped inside the rooms.
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Old 09-23-2013, 12:23 PM   #200
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Re: The Blog Less Traveled...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
My very first apartment by myself! The Rapp Street house was famous back in the sixties as a haven for young hippies who were students at the various colleges around town. I remember that I paid $80.00 a month for a studio on the third floor which could be reached by climbing the stairs up the outside.

It had a little kitchen, a little bath and a living/sleeping area in the front. I could climb out the kitchen window and lay on the roof in the sun, which I considered the height of luxury, I had really arrived.

Friends would come over and we would debate Scientology, a new theory at the time. We had all read "Dianetics" so we would spend hours talking about the nature of "clear" and whether it was true. Those were heady times of philosophy and thought and we truly felt that our debates would influence the world going forward. It was good to be young!

The only problem that I had with the apartment was that it was filled with mice. I didn't want to hurt these little animals, but they were becoming a nuisance and beginning to come around the bed when I was sleeping. First, I tried using boxes of books to block them into the kitchen, but I could still hear them scurrying around and it was keeping me awake.

They would constantly try to climb around the boxes and get to the bed, so I finally decided that I had to do something. I went to the store and bought a trap.

It was one of those spring traps that snapped down on the mouse and killed it. I guess that I hoped if one of them was killed, that the others would simply decide that my place was too dangerous and they would move out on their own. I hadn't really thought out the whole scenario, I didn't want to kill anything, but I decided that it was them or me.

That night I set the trap and moved the boxes of books in front of the door. After a little while I heard the mice moving around and then I heard a snap. But instead of instantly killing the mouse, it had obviously only caught it and injured it. The mouse began making a terrible noise and I heard the trap being pulled around the kitchen.

I lay there, listening to that poor mouse suffering for what seemed like hours. I knew that kitchen would be a bloody mess and dreaded the fact that I would have to go in there the next morning. I thought about moving the boxes and entering the kitchen that night, but I was too afraid of seeing what I had done in the glare of artificial light. So, I just stayed in bed like a coward...
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