Tuesday, May 29, 2012


A high school Junior stabs at his cereal with a spoon.

His Dad pours coffee into his Thermos.

"Five minutes, we'll take off." says Dad.

"You know Dad, you wouldn't have to go out of your way...if..."

"...if I bought you a car.  Right?"

"Well, yeah.  I'm old enough, and I've taken Drivers Ed already, so I know how to drive."

"I have no doubt, but it's no bother taking you.  It gives us a chance to talk a little in the morning."

"But," says he Young Man.  "There'll be activities at school over the summer, and next year where if I had my own car."  The Young Man raises his eyebrows.

"I think you're doing all right now with school.  A car would I'm sure be a distraction.  You only have one more year of high school.  Remember, you have a 3.4 GPA so far.  I wouldn't want to jeopardize that."

"You know I've been doing real good in school.  So why don't we get the car now, and I'll guarantee the good grades.  How about that?   I'm smart enough.  It would be a lot simpler for the both of us."

Oh, I see," says Dad.  "You want the car first.  But I want your grades to stay up there."

"But they will."  The Young Man shakes his head.

"You know what this is like?  Those huge signing bonuses in baseball, and when a guy is traded and gets a huge salary.  The unwritten deal, of course, is that the player will continue to perform at that same high level."

"Dad, you got noting to worry about."

"The Angeles will pay Albert Puljols  $24 million a year for the next ten years.  Obviously, they want him to continue to perform as one of the best player in baseball."

"Look, Dad.  I'm not going to quit school.  Come on, I want good grades as much as you do."

"How about some of the other huge salaries, based on past performance.  Look a Mark Teixeria.  Ever since he got what he wanted, all that money playing for the Yankees, he's been no better than a Triple A player."

He pulls out his iPhone, and thumbs in Google.  "Salaries...salaries...here it is.  Teixeria, $22.5 million a year.  Maybe he'll perform, but he's getting older, and what's he batting now?  Let's see.  He's batting 221?  Is that worth $22.5 mil?"

"Those are just a few players..."

"How about A. Rod.  What's happened there.  $32 million a year.  Would you pay that for a .277 batter?  He was supposed to get back to his former self, .320 plus.  But he hasn't."

"It won't be that way with me.  With a car I'll be able to schedule my time better, really."

"What happened to these players.  Once they get what they want, life time security, why bust your balls.  And you see some of these guys play all out the year before they are up for a new contract.
"They all want to continue at the top of their game, but something happens.  They seem to relax in a sense.   Once you get that reward, ambition, motivation, that fire in your belly seems to slip away.  I certainly wouldn't want that to happen to you.  Puljols is slowly coming back, but we'll see  Does this make sense?"

"Sort of, but I'm not like that."

"I like pay for performance better.  $20,000 for a home run, $1,000,000 if you make the All Star Team.  That's much better.  I think that would be the fair way, don't you?"

"But I wouldn't let down.  I'd keep going, knowing I had a car.  I might even do better."

"That's easy to say, but you don't know.  Do you think Albert Puljols wants to be batting less than .230"

"It won't be like that, Dad.  I'll do summer school, so I'll have a lighter load as a Senior.  There'll be a lot of extra activities...You'd be driving me...and well...I don't think you want me riding around with...I don't' know...the Zinkster.  His Dad bought him a new BMW."

"The Zinkster, huh?" says Dad.   He screws the top onto his Thermos.  "It's about time.  Ready?"

"So?" says The Young Man.

"You've been saving for a car?  You know you'll need more than just the price."

"Well, I thought you'd take care...you want me to buy it?"

"Well, your mother and I were thinking,...just thinking, that as a graduation present...maybe..."

"Well, until then, that's about a year and a half...I've got about $650."

"Insurance, registration fee, cost of gas, Oh Boy.  $650 won't be any where near enough."

"But Dad..."

"Come on, you'll be late.   We'll be discussing this again, I'm sure.  You're right though.  We should start working on this.  We can't just jump into buying a car."


"Aren't report cards coming up in a few weeks.   Maybe to help with the costs, we could look at a reward for each good grade."

"That's all good, but Dad...that's not exactly what I was figuring..."

Help comes from:

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Saturday, May 26, 2012


A man sits in the newspaper coffee room.  His fingers message his forehead.

"Hey Boss," I say as I walk in.  "You got to get more sleep."  I reach for the coffee pot.  "Or, drink more of this coffee." I hold the pot up to the window.  "I think this is coffee?"

"Leave me alone Belair.  I got problems.  Besides that's decaf."

"Decaf?  Save me, please."   I pour half a cup, and sit across from him.   "Come on.  Can't be that bad.  Ask yourself, what's the worse that can happen?"

"Don't you have a column to write, or something?"

"Did it, Boss.  Basketball player suing Sports Illustrated.  It's a peach."

"We gotta find some way to make some money around here.  Paper's slowly going broke."

He takes a deep breath.

"We're losing money every day.  It's the long term future of the newspaper business.  But, for right now, we gotta problem."  He looks up.  "We could just cut out the sports section.  That might work."

"Try that, and you'll have no sales at all."  I shake my head, " Sports and the crossword puzzle's the only reason people buy the thing.  Most get their news online today.  Right?"

"The Valley Post Picayune has been around since 1909.  I'd like it to last."

"Heck," I say.  "We could turn this paper into tabloid, like TMZ.  You know, but in paper form.  Like the New York Post."

He sits back.  "You want Jerry Springer in print form?"

"Maybe not that far."  I wave my hand.  "This is what my column's all about.  I don't know, but it looks like Sports Illustrated is doing just that."

"Sports Illustrated?"

"It's a fine line, Boss.  Write about the ugly truth behind the scenes, or present complete lies, out right fabrication.  The latest is an appalling story.   It's about Reeves Nelson, guy used to play basketball for UCLA,  but it's also an indictment of UCLA itself.

"Now, Reeves is fighting back.  He says that the story in the magazine made him less acceptable to the pros in the latest NBA draft.  It cost him money.  So, he wants $10 mil."

"But, Sports Illustrated?"  He sits up.  "They're not going to print anything that's not true.  They have investigators, who re-check everything."

"And they have the same problems with revenue we do," I said.  "They've lost ground to ESPN The Magazine."

I move over to the Mr. Coffee, dump the decaf, and fill the pot with water.

"They have to make the story look legit," I say.  "They find a Pulitzer Prize winning author, for credibility, Geoerge Dohrmann, an athlete that has some very major shortcomings, Reeves Nelson.  And a story that's sleazy enough to attract readers.

"Story says he piled another player's clothes on a bed, and urinated on them.  Players say it never happened.  The lawsuit includes declarations from 18 UCLA players and ex-players who say it never happened.

"Maybe the story is true," I say.  "Best player on the team,  Reeves, covered with weird tats, I mean Matt Barns, Kenyon Martin, Chris Anderson Tattoos.   Tats of a gun, an hand grenade, and an open switch blade. Tats that say I'm a thug, and I'm violent. "

Mr. Coffee beeps.  Coffee, real coffee this time, is ready.  I pour a full cup.

"So," I say.  "Coach Howland kicks him off the team.  He goes to Latvia, and plays in the Lithuania Basketball League for two months, then quits.  Shows real stability."

I sit back down.  I know the Boss is listening, he's actually looking up at me. 

"Okay," he says.  "But..."

"Sports illustrated isn't stupid.  They knew there would be a reaction to the story.  If they get sued, so be it.  They will drag out the court case, or pay off Reeves.  They make more money in the long run with all the added free publicity."

"I don't know,"  he says.  "Just to make more sales they wouldn't jeopardize their credibility?  Must be some truth in it."

I swirl my coffee.  "Strange, that story came out just a week before national signing day.  Was it an attempt to  keep the best high school players at home instead of coming out here to sunny California?"

"Okay Belair.  I hear what you're saying.  But what if we get sued.  Sports illustrated has the money."

"Maybe the NBA threw some money Sport Illustrated's way to demean players with excessive tattoos, trying to clean up their thug reputation?"

I sat back in the chair.  "Could East Coast people,  Eastern and Southern Conferences people, be paying in some way for such an article?  Against UCLA?  You never know."

"Is this Reeves ready to play in the NBA?" he asks.

I sip my coffee.  "Not yet.  The article makes Reeves about as unlikable for the NBA as you could for a new player.   Let's see.  Are you a discipline problem?  Check. Are you covered with Psychopathic Tats? Check.  Do you have  problem taking direction?  Check."

"Do you have illegitimate children by different woman?"  he says.

"Hey," I say.  "You know a little bit about the NBA."

He raises his eyebrows.   "So," he says. "To sum up. You want us to become a tabloid.  Print scandal, and sleaze instead of real news?  What if we get sued?  $10 million dollars?  For the record, moving forward, your idea is not the appropriate direction."
"Hey, I'm just a hack sports writer.  What do I know from marketing.  That's why you're the boss, Boss.  Just trying to help.  Maybe a bake sale, some sort?  I don't know."

He leans again over the table and holds his head.  "Don't you have a column to write, or something, Belair?"

Help comes from:

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Google/Images,/  readabilityformulas.com/

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


"Coming up, What's going on in Orlando with the Magic?  After Stan Van Gundy gets the axe, will ownership further trash the team, by dealing Dwight Howard?  To the Nets, or the Clippers or to the Lakers.  What about Pau Gasol?  Still a Lakers?

"Will Lebron have another ringless season?   And the Kings, will they kiss the Stanley Cup?   We'll talk about all this.  But first,  Brentood Belair, West Coast Sports Writer, he'll be with us.  We'll hear what's on his mind.  Be right back.  Roswell Hobbs, Sports in the Afternoon. KLUK Radio, AM 1600."

"...Home owners, even if you've re-financed your home within the last two weeks, Vito Corleone Financial, we got your best interest in mind.  Okay, maybe there is a small closing fee, inspection fee, appraisal fee, prep fee, document fee, transfer fee, registration fee.  But come on in.  Guarantee, we'll make you an offer you can't refuse.  Really..."

"We're back. . .And you can find us on Facebook, and Twitter.  Or call in, we'll talk, Roswell Hobbs, KLUK Radio, Sports in the Afternoon.  So, we have Brentwood Belair on the line.  No introduction necessary.  Brentwood, what's up in your world of sports?"

"Thanks Roswell.  But call me Woody."
"So, Woody," says Roswell."  What's on your sports mind this afternoon?"
"Well," I say.  "My column today in the Valley Post Picayune, 'Will Clemens Weasel Out of Trouble?'"

"Roger Clemens?  I almost forgot about him."

"Everybody's riveted on the Pacers, Thunder, the Heat, and the Stanley Cup.   But there's something else that's very important going on.  It's hidden back on page six."

"Your right.  I haven't been keeping up with his perjury trial."

"Let me refresh everybody," I say.  "Roger Clemens, future HOF pitcher, maybe, is charged with lying to Congress when he testified in 2008 that he never used steroids or HGH.  That's human growth hormone.   Brian McNamee, Clemens' longtime strength coach, says he injected Clemens with steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001 and with HGH in 2000. He is the only one who'll testify Clemens used this stuff."

"Clemens did say though," says Roswell.  "He took something, but it wasn't illegal."

"But there's more,"  I say.  "There was a pool party, hosted by Jose Canseco, where Roger took some kind of drug.  He denies being there, but the prosecution has a picture of him standing in shallow end of the pool.  He claims he was out golfing at that time.

"Prosecutors also have the Miller Lite can with the used steroid syringe in it.  Bottom of the can had the correct date code for the time of the party.  But alas, no fingerprints."
"Comes down to which one the jury believes, McNamee or Clemens.
 "So," I say.  "That's the background for my column.  It's in the Valley Post Picayune, this morning.  Check it out."  I laugh.  "Is that too much of a plug for my column?"

"We got links on the website, so we'll get people to read your stuff, Woody."

"Fair enough." I say.   "Okay, here's my take on Clemens.  And your listeners can tell me if I'm wrong about this guy.

"Clemens is a rich person in a high place.  But he's unlikable.  I think his personality will put him behind bars.  Had he come clean, did a bunch of community service, we would have forgiven, and forgotten.  Charley Hustle, same thing.  Tell us the truth.   We know you're sorry you did it.  We'll give you all a second chance."

"Okay, let's take a quick break," says Roswell.  "And we'll be right back to take your calls. Roswell Hobbs, Sports in the Afternoon, KLUK Sports Radio, 1600."

...'I saved $590...I saved $1900, ...I save $13,200 on my car insurance by changing to FrogCo Insurance...yada, yada, yada...'

"We're back.  Roswell Hobbs, KLUK Radio, Sport in the Afternoon.  We're talking to Brentwood Woody Belair, Sports Know-It-All."

"I like that," I say. "And, you know, you're probably right."

"Okay, let's take some calls.  Mulligan, in Malibu.  Your on with Brentwood Belair."

"Of course he used. Of course he lied. Of course he is not going to jail. And the worst,  thee worst, is his arrogant, condescending, hot dogger of a lawyer, Rusty Hardin. Guys like him only take cases for the spotlight.  I know the case is about lying,  but these lawyers are just as despicable as the clients they represent."

"Clemens hired him," I say.  "Maybe they're a pair, both trying to prove something?"

"Okay, here's Naomi, from North Hollywood."

"Thanks for taking me call, gentlemen.  Okay, this SOB Clemens thinks he's above the law.  Who does he think he is?  Remember in the world series, when he threw the bat at Piazza?  Should have been ejected on the spot.  Gutless umpire.  No, can't do that.  He's  Roger Clemens.  He lies, then stares you down, and we're supposed to jump back.  He should do jail time, long jail time, you ask me."

"Well, that's one lady's opinion.  Okay, here's Luke, from Long Beach."

"Here's what I think.  Clemens' biggest failing is this.  He views anyone who is not Roger Clemens as a degenerate.  Everybody's disposable.  He's the only one telling the truth.  Clemens, you're a scumbag.  Time to face the music, pal."
"Sounds like people don't like Mr. Clemens very much." says Roswell.

"You think?" I say.

"Veronica, from Venice, You're on with Woody Belair."

"This McNamee character is a rat.  They all had those drugs.  Baseball owners knew it.  Drugs saved baseball, come on guys.  They won the fans back after the strike.  All those home runs, McGwire, Canseco, all of them.  Baseball was a real game.  I say this:  Thank Gawd for drugs."

"I think we all miss the home runs," I say.  "Most people I think liked baseball better when players were under the influence.  Hard to admit."

"Our listeners have some strong opinions. Let's see...Larry from Laguna Beach."

"Guilty, Guilty, Guilty. Clemens and Bonds should have their numbers taken off all their records because they got caught cheating.  Man's a thug.  I feel bad for Hank Aaron the true Home run King."

"Another caller...Okay, here's Dude?  Yes, that's Dude from Downey.  Dude, wha-cha got."

"That pool party.  At Canseco's.  I was there. Bro.,  And it Jammed.  We will, We will, Rock you.  The crack was Dy-no-mite. Canseco was moon walking everywhere.  Let's Part-ay.  Clemens was acting funny, but we all knew he was anything but sober.  The juicer never got turned off.  Mixing everything.  No regular fruit juice neither.  Spiked?  I guess.  And we weren't there to do no swimming, Bro.  No way.  He says he didn't shoot up.  Unbelievable."

"Woody, what do you think about this.  The Dude was there, so he says."

"Can't ask for more than an eye witness.  But I have my doubts."

"It's true," says the Dude.  "They were all there.  And there was this Pony, but it got real good when those Aliens flew in, this beam of green light, it was like incredible, really..."

"Okay, okay, Dude," I say.  "How come I don't get invites to parties like this?"

"You call me, Man.  I'll hook you up."

"I'm sure you will, but what if I get abducted?  I think I'll pass, Dude."

"Okay, Brentwood Belair," says Roswell.  "About out of time. Thanks for dropping by.  We got thirty seconds.  What's your final take on this?"

"Here's my take," I say.  "The owners should be held accountable.  They knew steroids were being used.  Balls were flying out of the park.   Pitchers were striking out fifteen, sixteen a game.  They claimed it was the ball, it was wound too tight.  Owners made big money then.  Look, players will always try to get an edge.  They did it with drugs and they got richer.  Why is this so different from life in general?  The risk of future harm to their body, was secondary.  They were living in the moment.  That's my take, Roswell."

 "Okay." says Roswell.  "Thanks Woody.  Check out his Sports website, StiffLeftJab.com

"Thanks for having me, Roswell."

"We'll be right back with Pete Rose.  That's right.  Brentwood mentioned him.  What's he up to now.  He's living in Vegas, so now's your chance to ask him anything that's bugging you.   Be right back.  Roswell Hobbs, Sports in the Afternoon, KLUK Radio 1600."


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Saturday, May 19, 2012


Hello.   My name is Diego Garcia.  I own my own taxi company, the Fresh Air Cab Company, seven strong.  Sure, we're small, but we've taken people to San Diego, and to Vegas, but it's mostly L.A. and the Valley.

So, I get this call from Brentwood Belair, the sports columnist.   He's asking me if I'm up to doing a column for him, since he's got some kind of editor's deadline.  He's doing another Glasgow Kilbride detective novel, so I say why not.  I meet a lot of sports types in my cab coming in to LAX.  I've always got material.

So here's what happened:

I'd just finished the Sports Section of the Times, and was unfolding the Daily Racing Form when a suit raps on the window and climbs in.  A shoulder bag, a briefcase, and one of those legal size yellow pads.

I look back.  He says, "Down town Criminal Courts Building, Broadway and Temple."

It was about one thirty, so I say, "Take about half an hour, okay?"

"Ten minutes, my friend, or I'm in contempt."

"Ten minutes?" I say.  "You're going to have to hold on real tight.  But, without a police escort...or a helicopter..."

"Kidding," he says.  "I'm just Kiiiiding.  Do the best you can.  Never easy getting around downtown."

I took a deep breath.  I like this guy.  A regular guy with a yellow legal pad.  Go figure.

I maneuver Airport traffic, past Sepulveda, and onto the 405.

He sits, staring out the window, at the concrete, so I ask him, "Been watching the Playoffs?"

"Oh yeah," he says. He blinks. "I'm just getting in from Boston.  Every conversation there ends  with, 'Celtic will easily make the Finals.'"

"I think they got there hands full with the 76ers."

"That they do." he says.

"Lawyer, right?" I say.

He wiggles his yellow pad. "How did you guess."  He laughs.

"Let me ask you a legal question then, okay?" I say.

"Okay, but not too tough.  I'm a criminal attorney.  Probate, or taxation, not so good."

 "I'm reading in the sport section about Twitter and some guy saying to Steve Blake's wife, you know, one of the Lakers.  Guy twitters,  'I hope your family gets murdered. '"   I wave the sports section in the air. 

"Yeah, I read that this morning in the Herald.  My first impression, guy must have lost a ton of money betting on the Lakers.  He had to vent someway."

"So,"  I say.  "Let me ask you this.  If somebody says that about the President, and the First Family, it'd be treason.  Guy'd be in jail, right?"

"Patriot Act covers that.  But Blake's family doesn't reside in the White House. "  He looks out the window again.  "Yes, I read about that.  People can hide behind their Twitter account.  Spewing hatred anonymously."

"Blake could have won the game with a three pointer, but he missed.  It was close."

"Well," he says.  "Legally, I guess, notwithstanding First Amendment Free Speech issues, just saying what he did, it's probably not enough to prosecute."

"But he shouldn't get away with it," I say.

He pulls out a book from his briefcase.  He flips pages.  "Let's see.  Comes under Section 422 of the Penal Code."

"First," he says.  "A person must willfully threaten to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person."

"He didn't say he'd kill them," I say.  "But it's like the same thing.  Could be some lady, who knows?  On the internet, could be anybody."

"Second," still reading from the book, " they must have the specific intent that the statement is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out."

He looks out the window. "Do we take the threat seriously?  That's part of this."

"I don't know," I say.  "Blake said he never looks at it.  He just let's it be.   So, I don't know, did he really take this as a real threat?"

"And", he says, still reading. "The threat must be so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened,..or in this case...a family threatened...a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat."

"That must be hard to prove.  Guess you almost have to say exactly how you're going to murder them.  And why Blake?  He was hot the last few games.  Getting him the ball, that was the right thing to do.  Come on, even Kobe misses shots."

"And finally, to have a case, you must then be reasonably in sustained fear for your safety or for his or her immediate family's safety."  He looks up.  "This is a very difficult standard.  The twitter person, even if we could find him, won't be prosecuted.  It's just not strong enough."

"Guy will deny it anyway, if we ever found him," I say.

"All that said, even if this meets the definition, count on a restraining order being the fix for this situation.  I'd guess with the statement as it is, a one time Tweet,  as much as I'd like this to stop, you aren't going to see any kind of prosecution."

"Be a real man and say it to Blake's face.   Another tough guy, with no guts."

"I have often wondered," says the Man.  "What people are always Tweeting about.  It's like their thoughts are so important that the world needs to know, right then."

"So we can't just find this guy, and throw him in jail."

"The shame is that Blake's wife and kids had nothing to do with it.  Not to mention that his kids probably have Twitter accounts and could read the whole thing."

"What the hell is wrong with people?"

"But there is a fine line here.  We have a Free Speech right.  But people still lose their jobs because they tweeted about their boss.  And actually, that’s all legal, since most states have Hire at Will employment, which means an employer can fire you just because…at least as long as they are willing to pay unemployment taxes."

"There's another case here," he says.  "Conflicting Constitutional issues.  Are public school teachers in violation when they Tweet scripture?"

"So I guess you can threaten people on Twitter, and there's really nothing we can do.  Doesn't sound fair."

"Fair?" he says.  He shakes his head.

I pull up to the courthouse, North Broadway.  He collects his briefcase, shoulder bag and yellow legal pad.  A healthy tip and he's out.
"You know," he says through the open window. " I'd like to tell Steve Blake, while the Playoffs are on, to put his Twitter, his computer and his phone, on Lebron Mode.  No ring."  He laughs, waves, and trudges off.

Help comes from:
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I sit in my usual booth in the back of the Montana Galley,  by the kitchen.  Next to me sits the owner, Helena.

"I'm going to have to close this place soon," she says.  "People have been asking me about Pink Slime, is it in your hamburger?  I don't know.  What about Mad Cow? Can I catch it from your meat?  I don't think so. And what about meat glue?"

"Meat glue?" I say.

"Frozen Steaks come now like plywood.  Different kinds of beef glued together, can you believe?  All these questions, and now I might have to tell my customers that Coke and Pepsi, the caramel they use causes cancer."

"Causes Cancer."

"If they don't change their recipe, FDA says I'll need to warn everybody, like on cigarettes.  What next?"

A man is squeezed into the next booth.  He eats two cheeseburger, a plate of French fries, along with two large Cokes.  He eats with abandonment.  Hungry wolves make less noise.

"And I have to listen to this."  She nods toward the man.

As I smile, and touch her hand,  I see him come through the front door. It's George Foreman.

"Get ready," I say to Helena.  "Look who just arrived."

"Holy Cow."  she says.

George waves to the man.  Yes, the man with the two cheeseburgers, and slides in beside him.

"Buster, glad you could come." says George.

"Was in town, doing a thing out in Santa Monica.  I started already."  He shakes his Coke. "Want something?"

George waves for the waitress. "I was just flying through L.A., so I have a chance to talk to you.  You'll like this."

Buster leans back, and slurps his Coke.  "Yeah, so, George, what's this about?"

I elbow Helena.  "That's Buster Douglas.  Heavyweight Champ once."

"Buster Douglas?" says Helena.

"Fought Mike Tyson in Japan..."

"Quiet, I'm listening..."

"Well, excuse me for..."

"Shush, "

"You know I'm into a lot of things," says George.  "Like grills, cookware and all, but I got something new. Weight loss.  That's where it's at."
"Yeah?" says Buster.  He bites into the second Cheeseburger, and chews.
"Can't he close his mouth when he chews?" says Helena.

"I read this book, and it changed the way I think about food.  So I'm getting fat people on this diet, going on TV, and Buster,  I want you to be on my team."

"Yeah?" says Buster.  He wipes his mouth, and blinks at George. "Okay?"

"Name of the book is, 'Wheat Belly.'   It's for your Abs.  Your Stomach.  Like they say, 'You can read about it, or you can make it happen.'   That's what people want.  A flat stomach. I'm going to make it happen."

"Wheat?" I say.  "What?  Eat more or less?"

"Shush."  She punches my shoulder. "I'm trying to find out."

Waitress comes over.  "Ice water," says George.  He folds his hands.  "Let me explain.  You weigh what?  300?  Maybe 325.  Well, you'll love this.  It's eating too much wheat that causing people to get overweight.  And being over weight, really overweight, causes all kinds of bad stuff."

"I'm not sick.  Maybe I'm fat, but I feel okay."

"Buster, you gotta skinny up.  It's better.  You come with me on this.  George Forman's Skinny Minny Program."

"Skinny Minny?" says Buster.

"Catchy, huh." says George.  "So cut out wheat, you cut out stuff that gets your belly fat.  It's automatic, that what's so great."

"What?" says Helena.  "Cut out wheat?  What is he saying?"

"That's right Ma'am.  Hello."  He reaches over.  They shake,  "The George Forman Minny Skinny Program.  I want to get people to lose weight."

"But wheat, my Gawd," says Helena.  "That means breakfast cereals, and French Toast.  Anything from the bakery.  It's used as a stabilizer in all kinds of sauces.  No pies."

"No spaghetti either," I say.  "Lasagna, Fettuccine, Mac and Cheese.  Not to mention Cheeseburgers."

Helena's hands turn to fists.

"It's the gluten in wheat that's a problem. Too much of this stuff causes rashes, stomach problems, arthritis, osteoporosis, acne, and, "  He looks at Helena.  "How do I say this?  Man Boobs."

"Man Boobs," I say.  "That sound creepy."

He turns back.  "Buster, you don't want that, do you?   Man Boobs?"

Buster frowns.

"My diet has been important to me my whole life." says George.  He sips his water and sits back.  "What do you think.  I'll set you up.  This will go for 8 weeks.  We'll see how you do.  Then it's TV.  We'll pay you good, real good.  You'll be on TV nationwide."

"Yeah?" says Buster.  He wiggles a French fry between his fingers.  "How much I gotta lose?"

"I'm on the diet.  I lost 20 pounds first month, so it works."

He slaps the table and slides out of the booth.  "Buster, it's win-win.  People will see you Nationwide again, and you'll lose weight.  How can you lose?   Think about it.  I got a plane to catch, so, I'll be in touch."  He waves to Buster.

As he passes our booth, he stops, and with a small bow.  "Glad we met.  When I find something that can help people, I get excited.  We gotta do something about people's weight."

He says have a nice day, and is out the door.

We are left listening to Buster and his Cheeseburger.

"My menu is cut in half.  What am I going to do?  Guess I'll have to read this book, so I can answer questions I'm going to get.  Belly..."

"Wheat Belly," I say.

Tears well up.

I put my arm around her shoulders.  "Everything's going to be all right, sweety.  Who's going to stop eating your chicken and waffles?"

"Don't you have a column to write or something."

"Did it.  And the Track's closed today...but I'm going.  Come by later, have a drink."

"Make mine a triple."  And off she went, with a wave, into the kitchen. 


Help comes from:

Google/Images, WikiPedia/George Forman
Wheat Belly by Dr.William Davis,
ProteinPower/Dr. Eades/blog/

Sunday, May 13, 2012


A man holding a large binder, walks into the Powerhouse 5 Sporting Goods Store, the one on Ventura Boulevard, near Coldwater.

"Looking for The Flash."  The man smiles.

"I think you want my Dad.  That's what they called him in college.  Way back when.  T-Formation Half Back."

The man raises his eyebrows.  "He around?"

"Not here.  He doesn't come in much anymore.  I'm his son, Rusty."

"Hello Rusty.  Hannibal.  Hannibal Joplin.  I'm from St. Louis Grid Iron Supply."

They shake.
"I'm used to talking with your father, over the phone.  But this time management decided we should talk to our clients face to face.   And since we didn't get your usual order for football equipment, it's best I fly out here."

"Well, Dad's semi retired now.  It's me and my son that really hold down the fort.  My son's out at Tennis practice.  So, I can help you with whatever you got."

Hannibal opens the binder.  Pictures of football helmets, cleats, shoulder pads.

"Well, I guess you know we didn't order any football equipment this year.  My dad is the one for inventory.  But he sometimes forgets to fill out the proper forms."

"It's not the same as it was just ten years ago,"  says Hannibal. "We'd be flooded with orders.   We were all shocked by Junior Seau's suicide.  Lots of older players are starting to realize that  their memory loss comes from being tackled hard too many times."

"I know what you're saying," says Rusty. "I hear it everyday.  Parents come in here.   They don't want there sons or daughters anywhere near football anymore.  But Soccer balls, I can't keep them stocked. Track shoes, weights.  Like I say, we haven't sold the football equipment you sent us last year."

"Yeah," says Hannibal.  "We know the stats.  Over 1800 former players have formed a class action against the NFL.  They say the NFL didn't do enough to protect them from the dangers they faced while they were playing."

 Rusty looks down.  "I don't think the NFL has done anywhere near enough."

"And it hits all of my clients," says Hannibal.  "You listen to sports shows, ESPN, radio sports talk, it's all about concussions.  It gets them ratings.  It effects everything we sell.  If parents won't let their kids play football, where's the NFL going to get players?"

"Well, we all know the risk now." says Rusty.  "The commissioner, Godell, comes down hard  on the players that get out of line.  Looks good, but, come on, word is the Football film guys pay players to perform for them.  They know what the have to do the get on film.  Yep, playing football is too risky.  That's why my son, Rusty Jr. is playing tennis."

"I want it to be safe, so that players can live happy lives after football, but there is a time players have to accept the fact of what there getting involved with."

Hannibal closes his binder.  He folds his hands on top of it.

"At a certain point," says Hannibal.  "We have to put the burden on the players and not blame a team that has a lot of money.

"But a high school player gets a scholarship, and sees big time football, and all that money in the future.  How can any young kid say no to that?  It's an economic choice for a lot of guys.  They don't think they'll ever get hurt.  Nothing will happen to them."

"I'm afraid it's like boxing," says Hannibal.  "It was once the most popular sport in the country.   Not anymore.  It's been mismanaged and got the reputation of being barbaric, and grisly.  It's lost its mainstream appeal.   We don't want the NFL to become a second rate game, you know,  like Ice Hockey.  We wouldn't sell a thing.   We need a Positive Attitude toward football.  Not how it ruins lives."

Hannibal puts his binder under his arm.

"Well, I appreciate you taking the time to fly out here.  My wife and though long about this.  The Romans had Gladiators that fought to the death to entertain the crowds.  Today, Pro Football isn't a whole lot different.  They don't fight to the death, but they attack other players, all for the crowd.  Their deaths comes later, when no one is watching.  Ugly deaths.  Mental issues, Depression and Suicide."

Hannibal rubs his head.  "The NFL has to change the mentality of it's players, and coaches.   They have to stop paying bounties for maiming each other, or making movies of the most vicious hits.  Or the whole league will spiral into relative obscurity."

They again shake hands.  Hannibal takes a deep breath.  He looks down at his binder.

"Maybe flag football," says Rusty.  "Wouldn't that solve a lot of the problems the NFL faces?"

Hannibal looks at Rusty.  "Matter of fact, we thought about that too.  But, this country is way too blood thirsty to go for that."  He pulls out a flag.  "Like this?"  He waves it in the air.

Hannibal tries to laugh, but there is only a choking sound.

They walk out on the sidewalk.  "Good luck, Hannibal," says Rusty.

Hannibal looks up.  "It's getting dark.  Looks like it might rain soon."

"Yeah," says Rusty.  "Dark clouds have been hanging around for awhile now."

As Hannibal walk away, "I'll tell my Dad you came by," says Rusty.


Help comes from:
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Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Linden and Edison park their bikes in front of  'Hoboken Hobbies.'

"See, nobody's gonna want a rookie card of J. R. Smith, when you can get Jeremy Lin.  He's hot, or Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James.  See what I'm saying?"

"How do you know which ones to buy?" says Linden.

"You want to get cards that you can sell later," says Edison.  "Rasheed Wallace, very good player, but not as good as a Chris Paul right now.  You have to be lucky.  Pick a player that'll be hot in the future.  You never know, some first draft picks, can't hack it in the pros.  Like Paul Davis or somebody like Guillermo Diaz."

"You really know all about this," says Linden."

"I'm spending twenty buck," says Edison.  "So I made a list."

They walk inside.  Edison unfolds a piece of paper.

"Hey, guys," says the Man Behind the Counter, 'Clark,' on his shirt.

"We're looking for NBA cards.  I made a list of the top NBA Players, ones I'm looking for."  says Edison.

He hands the paper to Clark.

The list reads:
1. Dwight Howard
4. Durant 
5. Kobe

"And Chris Paul," says Edison.  "If they go deep in the playoffs, he'll be valuable."

"Is this your order of best in the league?  So you think Dwight Howard is the best?  Better than Kobe, or LeBron even?"

"Yup.  My top five.  And maybe Derrick Rose too. Do you have any of these guys, rookie cards maybe?"

"He's got twenty dollars and I got about fifteen." says Linden.

"Shshsh-ush," says Edison.  He elbows Linden.  "Look, we just want to see what you got.  Maybe we'll buy some."
A young lady wipes clay off her hands with a rag.  "Heard somebody say NBA.  Guys buying some cards?"  Her shirt says 'Elizabeth.'

"Liz, take a look at this, you know Basketball."

"Hmmm," says Elizabeth.  She looks at the boys, then at the list.  "You sure about this?  Usually LeBron's on top?"

"No," says Edison.  "I don't have LeBron first on my list.  I didn't think he is all that popular?"

"Well," says Elizabeth. "Everybody's heard of him.  But I wouldn't put him on top either.  He doesn't show up when it really matters, at the end of games.  Probably be MVP, but he still doesn't have a ring yet."

"Come on," says Clark.  "He's the complete player.  He's like a power forward on offense, and a center on Dee."

"Gotta win Championships," says Elizabeth.

"What are you saying, Liz?  How many rings you have's got nothing to do with how good a player you are."

"You got Dwight Howard on the top of your list?" says Elizabeth.

"I thought in the future he would be..." says Edison.

"Remember in Orlando," says Clark.  "They said there'd never be another Shaq.  Now they say there'll never be another Dwight Howard.  I have some Dwight Howard cards."
Dwight Howard might be one of the best centers of the last 20 years." says Elizabeth.

"We just came in to see what you've..." says Edison.

"But what does he do, really?" says Clark.  "With Howard, it's dunking and blocking, that's about it.  No, no.  He's no LeBron or a Kobe.  He's a good player, but off the court?   Too much controversy.  Remember Dennis Rodman?"

"How about this."  He pulls out a card from under the glass counter.  "Here's an Andrew Bynum?  With the Lakers.  Once he starts getting touches like Dwight gets, Lakers'll get 2 or 3 more championships before he retires.  Even though it's LA, if you're looking for a break out player."

"They don't want Bynum.  Take a Dwight Howard," says Elizabeth.

She stops.

"No,  you don't want a Dwight Howard.  All he can do is flex his muscles and smile.  Griffin's another, can't buy a free throw, like Shaq was."  She looks at the paper.  "No, this list?  Where'd you get this?"

"I was on the internet..."

"No way," says Elizabeth. "Here's how I'd do this list, best in the NBA would be Kobe, he's got the rings, LeBron, even though I don't like him, Durant, Wade, Dirk, Carmelo, Rose, Paul, Stoudamire ....then maybe,...maybe, Dwight Howard."

"Okay, okay, maybe not Howard first... " says Edison.

"Pound for pound it's Dwyane Wade," says Clark.

"Come on," says Elizabeth.  "Have you been watching these playoffs?  Wade's a flopper.  Never saw anything like it.  He gets brushed, he flops back, guy goes crazy."

"Are we going to buy any of these?" says Linden.  His voice low.

Edison shrugs, and scratches his head.

"There's no question.  It's Kobe," says Elizabeth.  "You gotta put Kobe higher on this list, come on. Game is on the line , who you want with the ball?  Kobe's the guy."

"Really?" says Clark.  "Kobe, he's your guy?"  He grabs the paper, and holds it up.  "Last three or four years, LeBron, Dwight Howard, and Chris Paul been the best players in the league.

"But, what about..." says Elizabeth.

"Let me finish." says Clark.  "Carmelo plays no Dee, takes way too many shots and is not a leader.  Same with Durant.  One man shows."

"This list is way out of whack," says Elizabeth.  "Guys, what were you thinking?  No way in the world Chris Paul is better than Derek Rose.  And where's Russell Westbrook?  He's not even on your list."  Her eyes are black.

Edison steps back.  "We just came in to get some cards..."  Then to Linden, "I'm sorry I brought you in here."

Linden looks at his iPhone.  "I gotta go soon.  My mom'll be waiting.  Supposed to come right home from school."

"Yeah, me too." says Edison.  "Maybe if we come back on  Saturday?"

"Liz, Come on."  Clark pokes at the paper.  "Where's Nowitzki on this list?  This is stupid.   Didn't the Mavericks win it all.  And wasn't he playing with the flu?"

"I'm not stupid, Clark."  She takes a pen and scratches out names on the list, and draws arrows.  "Here's how this should be."  She shoves the piece of paper back toward Clark.  "Toss up, LeBron, and Kobe, and Durrant, then I like Wade..."

"I think I'd like to buy a Chris..." says Edison.

She looks at Edison, glares, then back at the list.  "Okay, okay," she says.  "Who's got the most rings?"

"Forget rings," says Clark.  "LeBron had no team in Cleveland.   Best players want to play in LA, or Florida.  Who wants to play in Cleveland.  Too cold, and windy, and, trust me, there's absolutely nothing to do there."

"Ridiculous.  You know, you're actually laughable. What's your mighty King James really accomplished -other than some scoring titles?  Kobe Bryant is still the best player in the NBA. Crunch time, it's Kobe.  Tell me I'm wrong.  Go ahead."  Flames are in her eyes.

Edison puts his wallet back in his pocket.  He takes a deep breath.

"Clark, if you knew anything at all about the NBA, by the time Kobe was LeBron's age he already had 3 rings.  Still averaging the second most points in the league a 33.  You know I'm right.  This list is a complete joke."

"Liz, are you feeling okay?  How can you say that?"

Her voice is higher. "Doesn't matter, Kobe created a team that wins.  Basketball is more than just one guy. Rings, rings, rings.  That's what it's all about.  Kobe's looking for one more, beat Michael Jordan."

"Ridiculous," says Clark. "It's the player.  How can you be so ignorant?"

"Ignorant?"  Her hands are fists. Her voice cracks.  "Who're you calling ignorant?"  Here eyes are black and hard.

"You, Liz.  Even Carmelo is better than Kobe when it comes to..."


"Come on," says Edison.
The two leave Hoboken Hobbies, jump on their bikes, and ride toward home. Neither looks back.

"I'm going online.  Gotta be better than that place. We'll buy something. Those people, over basketball cards, come on.  Like they were going crazy."


Help comes from:
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Saturday, May 5, 2012


Her SmartPhone vibrates.

"Detective Holmes?"  She listens.  "What?  You're kidding.  Junior Seau, Oh my Gawd."  Silence.  "Shot?"
She looks up.  The Captain waves, and points toward the door.  His voice loud, "Call me soon's you get there.  Go."

Holmes waves back.  "Watson, come on.  We gotta go. You'll never believe who's been shot."

Watson, half a jelly filled hangs from his mouth, "What?  Come on, I'm on my break, here."  He looks over at the Captain.  "Okay, okay."  He grabs his coat.  "I was going to the tanning salon later..."

"You already look like a deep fried prune as it is...Come on.  This is big.  Bigger than Big."

On the dead run, they're out of the building, and in their unmarked.  Up Vista Way, up the hill toward Seau's home.

"Junior Seau," says Watson.  "This isn't happening.  The best defensive player The Chargers ever had, the League ever had.  Concussions gotta be the reason."  Watson checks his on-board computer.  "Priors... domestic violence... never charged, from the girlfriend.  He fell asleep at the wheel, crashed his car. That's about it."  He sits back.  "Concussions gotta figure into this, someway.  Guys hitting each other, so hard.  That's what football is all about.  Takes it's toll, but..." He pokes at the keyboard.  "Never reported he had a concussion?  No way...had to suffered concussions...kinda player he was."

"Cops on the scene say it looks like suicide," says Holmes.  "Gun shot to the chest.  But let's wait.  See what it looks like."

With siren, and foot to the floor, they pull up to the house with all the cars.  "Hope the scene's not destroyed, all these people.  Let's get going before the News Vans show up."

She waves her badge, and the crowd parts.  "Get the yellow tape up, right now, " she says.  She looks at an older cop, "So, show me."

He just points to a back bedroom, his eyes red, he looks away.
The body lies on its back, in a bedroom, a hand gun within reach.  Blood all over his chest.

"Just like you see him, detective."  says the uniform standing above the body.  "Nothing seems out of place.  Doesn't look like a break in.  We checked."

"This is terrible," says Watson.  "Such a waste.  Right in the chest."  He looks around. "Probably the girlfriend, or wife, one out there crying.  I'll talk to her."  He leaves the room.

While CSI clicks pictures, Holmes snaps on rubber gloves, and kneels by the body.  "Bag his hands, please.  I'm looking for any GSR.  See if he shot a gun recently.  Still...someone could have stage this.  Two shots gone from the gun.  One shot to get the residue on him, and the other one in the chest."  She glances around the room.  "Looks normal, I guess.  Nothing torn up."

"Talked to the girlfriend," says Watson, at the door.  "He never said anything to her about football injuries.  He was a happy guy, she says.  Strange though, she calls 911, and says he's shot himself, not he's been shot?  She tells me he never said anything about concussions."

"Impossible," says the uniform.  "Ever see him play?  It was like he didn't care.  He must have had a ton of concussions.  No way his body didn't suffer."

"But he was only 43," says Holmes. "And nobody found a note.  That's strange?"  She looks up at Watson.  "No, we're not writing this off to a suicide caused from playing football, until we fully investigate all this."

"Not the first time, Holmes," says Watson.  "This concussion thing is really bad for these guys, and it doesn't seem the NFL helps them with much therapy afterwards."  He taps his iPhone.  "I got it right here, last fifteen months, two other NFL players, Dave Duerson of the Bears, and Ray Easterling, defensive back for the Falcons, both committed suicide.  So..."

"No yet, Watson.  We've only been here twenty minutes.  I don't want to just say suicide."

"Huge lawsuits against the NFL about it.  Hundreds of players having problems.  Human brain can take only so much, you know?"

"So, what do we have, so far," says Holmes.

"Okay," says Watson.  "There doesn't seem to be any break in.  So if it was somebody,  if he was attacked, he probably knew who it was.  We'll make a list and talk with them.  We'll also take an inventory, see if anything was taken,  but according to the girlfriend, she doesn't think anything is missing.  She'll let us know when she can think straight."

"I spoke with both neighbors," says the uniform.  "One wasn't home last night, the other says he heard something, early this  morning, said it sounded like a gun shot, but only one.  No, he didn't report it.  And there were no cars, he remembers, in the driveway, or anything."

"Girlfriend says there was no warning," says Watson.  "He was okay, no problems."  He shakes his head.  "Hard to believe he would do this, shoot himself?"

Holmes stands up and looks around the room. "Gawd, what a thing to happen."  She takes a deep breath.  "Points to suicide.  But...how can you ever really be sure, something like this.  Blame it on playing too much football?  Every guy that plays doesn't up and shoot himself."

Watson's iPhone goes off.

"Watson...Hey Boss...Sorry, forgot, kinda wrapped up...looks like suicide, all the evidence...Okay...Holmes? She's right here."

"Hey, captain," says Holmes.  "Yeah, looks that way.  Okay, I'll wait for Dr Moriority to signs off on this poor guy.  No, no, nobody gets by me...okay...okay..."

To Watson, "Captain says his lawyer says he wanted his brain to be left for study at some institute for brain research. Can people really do that?"

The uniform stands over the body, while CSI snap pictures, and yellow tape is spun around the house.  Holmes and Watson move outside, sit in the unmarked, doors open, and wait for the Moriority, the Coroner.

"Seems he knew," says Holmes.  "He wanted his brain to be left for research.  He knew something was wrong.  But..."

"He was one of those guys who never complained," says Watson.  "Must have been a killer playing though all that pain.  Linebacker, head first on every play.  He suffered his whole life.  My Gawd."

"Okay.  Before we get back.  What have we got?" says Holmes, sitting back in the seat.  "Give me only what we saw.  Say we don't know who he is."

"He was playing just two years ago?  43 years old, but...okay," says Watson.  "So far here's what we got.  Check list.   A man found shot in his bedroom, the gun right there.  Suicide.  No sign of illegal entry.  Suicide.  Nothing is missing.  Suicide.  And we know that the man was thinking about is life...wanting his brain to be studied.  He was worried about something.  Suicide. Okay, but the girlfriend says, he never complained about anything like this.  Not suicide.   No note found.  Not suicide.  This being so sudden, without notice to anyone we've contacted.  Not suicide. But...we do know how violent his life was."

Coroner drives past, so they head back to headquarters, Holmes in the slow lane, thinking.   "Get the CSI report.  Do the bank search.  Talk to his friends.  But...Looks like it.  Suicide.  But..."

"Not convinced?" says Watson.

"Getting there.  Once I know how many shots were fired from that gun.  Residue on his hands.  Take a look at his bank account.  See if it looks normal, you know, no large deposits or withdrawals lately."

Watson looks at his iPhone.  "Get this.  Timmy Brown, the Oakland Raider.  He says he  played golf with him, just two days ago."  He thumbs the screen.  "Here's what he said,  '"The same guy I've known for the last 20 years, I saw Monday. I didn't see a guy who was depressed. I didn't see a guy who was trying to hide something. I saw a guy who was affable, who was very friendly with his golfing teammates.'  That's what he said."

Holmes looks at Watson.  "We better find out how those other guys died."

"They'll be pressure on us," says Watson. "NFL will want this over with fast.  Another player shoots himself.  Get it off the front page.  But, like you say,  let's make sure."

"No note, the man was not depressed, playing golf, all of a sudden shoots himself.  Could happen, I guess, but...something just seems fishy."

 They pull into the police parking structure.  "Don't know what it is...a feeling."  She stops and sits back. "Yeah, I got a funny feeling about this."

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Saturday Morning.   I sit in the back booth at the Montana Galley.  Helena, the owner, sometime waitress, sometime customer psychologist, sometime mother figure to the teens who arrive just before closing time, 2 am.  Busy in the kitchen, her hand waves from the kitchen.  I salute back.  We have plans.  A chick flick later.  What ever Helena wants.  It's those large brown eyes, and....could be...that blond hair.  Oh, boy.

I breath deeply, and unfold the paper.  I pull out the Sports Section.  I do a Sports Column in it, three a week, The Valley Post Picayune.  Let's see how they've misspelled my headline, or how much they've cut it this time to make it 'fit' the page.  Guys, good people buy this paper to read my stuff, come on.

Nursing a large glass of buttermilk, I take a look.

Sports Section.

'Sports Diet:  Box More Nutritious Than Flakes Inside.'

"What," I say.

'UCLA Researches followed 5000 college athletes, for five years.  They served each breakfast.  One group received flakes in milk, juice, and toast.  The other ate pieces of the box in milk, juice, and toast.  After five years, physical and psychological  test were given.   When the results were published, and after repeated calls, we  finally contacted a company secretary who said, off the record, "We knew that all along."

"Knew what?"  I say.  "This paper."

NFL:  LA Vikings Favored Over the El Paso Bengals Sunday.

"Wait a minute?  What the heck?" I say aloud.  "El Paso...What? ... in the NFL?"

'The Los Angeles Vikings Manager Terrell Owens, says they're ready for Sunday's NFL game at the Coliseum, against the El Paso Bengals.   Mark Sanchez, and the Vikings are out to extend their league leading 11 and 2 record.  The Bengals need to get back in the winning column.  Tony Romo, who couldn't seem to mesh with the Cowboys,  says it is just a matter of getting the Bengal's running game in gear.  Will Donovan McNabb start in place of Tony?

Sanchez?  Romo?  This Sunday?  At the Coliseum?  I blink and read it again.  "McNabb?  Back up quarterback?  In El Paso?"   I look up at the other customers.   Some read newspapers, other search on lap tops, but none look surprised.  Are they reading this?   I guess not.

'A Monster Trade in the NBA.  Kobe Bryant to the Bobcats for both Byron Mullens, and D.J. White.   Lakers Coach Marv Albert couldn't be happier ...'

"What is Marv Albert doing?  He's play by play?" I say aloud.  I guess he's seen quite a few games, but manager?  What is Jerry Buss thinking?  Marv Albert?

I flush.  My heart pounds, my face is hot.  Athletes eating cardboard?  The Vikings playing in the Coliseum?  Kobe traded?  What is this?

A cloud drifts above my head.  Something doesn't feel right here. A cold breeze blows on my face.  I look at the top of the page.  Yes, it's the Sports Section.  It's the Valley Post Picayune.  "Wait, this can 't be...?"

'Hold 'em Poker is now an Olympic Sports in the up coming Olympic Games, in Rio...'

"Wait," I say.  More cold air.  "Olympics Games in Rio?" 

More headlines;  'WikiLeaks Leaks List, Failed Drug Test.  MLB In Tizzy.   The names are a Who's Who of future Hall of Famers.  What will be the penalties?  Suspensions?  Banishments? Will we be watching Little League on ESPN until Commissionaire Scully figures out...?'

'14 years old,  6'10'' power forward Gary Kokomo, Indiana Sixth Grader, has registered for the next year's NBA Draft.  The Miami Heat with first pick.  Will they pick Kokomo?'

14 year old?  In the NBA?  Can they do that?  Wait.

I look again at the top of the page.  Ice, a block of ice, on my neck, and all the way down my back.

The date:  October 1, 2015.

Oh my gawd.  Oh My Gawd.  What?  2015?  How can this happen?  I can't think. 

I glance around, conscious of others watching me mumble to myself.  Some stare at me.  I want to tell them, shake the paper in the air.  I got a newspaper printed in 2015.  But I don't. 

Without breathing, I smile back. And without looking down, I neatly fold the paper.  My hands fumble.  I know they're still watching me.

But I have the newspaper for October 1, 2015.  I blink, the possibilities.  My voice rises. "The possibilities."

They all heard that, even Helena, over in the kitchen.  I gulp my buttermilk, slide out of the booth, wave, and as I reach the sidewalk, my hands shake, my knees wobble.  I glance down at the paper one more time in the sunlight.


'...So, will Albert Pujols ever hit another Home Run?  It's been three years now...'

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