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Friday, September 28, 2001


Crate Nicholson is an emotional man. He's almost 80, frail, and just moved into a trailer on his daughter's land. It was either that or a nursing home.

He followed the first push on D-Day, spent 36 days in a Normady hospital with a piece of shrapnel in his back, went back to the front, and watched a mortar rip a hole right through his left arm. He left everything he owned on the battlefield and went home to marry his childhood neighbor. She was the only girl who wrote back when he fired off war-story letters from the front.

He had two kids, built two churches, worked on a chicken farm for 35 cents a day, and spent a half-century wanting something more than a scar and occasional tear to show for his patrotism.

Yesterday, the U.S. Government made good. In the mail, two purple hearts, a few bronze stars, and everything else he earned. He cried. He's still crying. His daughter asked Mom where Dad was.

"Back in the back looking at those medals again."

He's now got something to show for it...

And I thought about it as I watched him walk off today. Crate probably doesn't realize...he didn't really need a symbol of his patriotism.

He's a living symbol of everything the good part of America represents.

Thursday, September 27, 2001

Random Reality

Ordinarily I like to keep my thoughts here swimming in one small Theme Pool. But, the pool is a bit leaky today, so I offer a few random thoughts and observations from the day...

*If you're one of those law-talking gals or guys and you find yourself losing in the courtroom, I offer an argument proffered by our local Public Defender during a competency hearing this afternoon:

"You can't have half of a bad cold and the state's case is as sick as a dog!"

*The news business is a sick one. There's no doubt about that. Think about the words of gonzo j-man Hunter S. Thompson..."The TV business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs." I only bring it up because of our colleagues at a local radio station and their weathercasts. "It's going to be partly cloudy and cool in the Upstate and mountains tonight. And your Afghanistan Airstrike forecast... clear skies over the Afgahn mountains all the way through the weekend." Thank goodness I don't work for them. I would have quit and moved to Denver two days ago.

*I'm now an adult. Or at least I will be in a week and a half. I thought I achieved legal-age when I bought my house. But a week from Saturday I will participate in the greatest rite of passage for reformed redneck dirtfarmers. I'm having a garage sale. Yea, verily, verily, I will get up at the break of dawn with the blue-haired women of the Upstate and sell my junk for greatly-reduced prices. Now that I've been married for more than a year, I have accumulated enough worthless clutter to sell it to other people. What's even worse is that I'm participating in a very suburban activity...The Neighborhood Garage Sale. Not only will I be hungover and bleary-eyed that morning, trying to sell a paperback copy of some book called "Dirty White Boys" for a nickel, I'll be doing it surrounded by a few dozen of my closest neighbors who are doing the same thing. My only hope is that I can make enough on the sale to fill my cooler for LEAF.

Anybody wanna buy a rusted electric chainsaw?

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Cuddling, nuzzling, and dreams of guzzling

Fall fell this week. Walking barefoot in the driveway is now comfortably uncomfortable. The fleece (that's plural for fleece, I guess) came down from the top of the closet. The sweatpants made a return visit to my bum. Daylight is getting ready for bed a little earlier than usual and I don't have any problem tucking it in.

After six months of sleeping single under a single sheet, I'm finding my way back under the comforter with my wife. Her warmth is too much for the summer, but she makes a loving radiator come autumn.

The dog feels it, too. Her early morning trips to the backyard for Barkfest 2001 have dwindled in number. She likes to stay under the comforter and somehow sandwich herself between two people who have found renewed comfort in the art of the spoon-cuddle.

And perhaps best of all, LEAF is only a few weeks away. We will climb the mountain, pitch our tents, and shiver until we've had enough anti-freeze. I'm taking a four-day weekend for that trip and plan to spend every minute of it appreciating my friends/family.

It won't be too long before I'm bitching about cleaning up fallen leaves or standing in a sleet storm because a producer wants a live shot from the dog and pony show. But for the next few weeks, everything will fall under the heading of "I wish it could stay like this forever."

Even as the world crumbles around us, we can count on autumn to make us appreciate the things we sometimes neglect or forget entirely.

The good things are all around me. My brother called from Med school to check in (that's what we called it in college...just checking in). Two great friends are making a baby. My wife is learning Spanish...not out of obligation, but out of desire.

I haven't said or even thought this in a long time...in part because I've always been a brooder without a reason to brood...and in part because everything seems so screwed up everywhere.

Nevertheless...I think it's all going to be all right.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Just when you think it's safe to go back in the grocery store

I'm not famous. Far from it. Movie stars are famous. Joey Buttafuco is famous. I'm merely recognizable.

(By the way, if i write about work too much, I'm sorry. I have to have somewhere to vent).

So, I'm on TV. That's what I do. The novelty wore off about five years ago. The stupid things people say because I'm on TV will never wear off and it is probably enough reason to start stomping on their toes.

I only bring it up because I wanted to make some chicken soup in peace (I hear there's a lot of chicken soup-eating going around today). Some lady had to get in my way.

I had most of the ingredients at home already. But I needed some noodles and some celery. That's where it got tricky.

See, people (usually rednecks...and I can call them that because I come from a long line of rednecks and dirt farmers...and rubberneckers, but that's beside the point) have a need to point out that they recognize TV people. The problem, they don't want to say, "Hey, aren't you that guy on the TV?" They want to work it into a conversation. Which brings me to the celery lady.

I pick up my celery and start heading for the noodles. Celery Lady spots me from across the produce. She nearly runs her daughter over with her shopping cart trying to get to me (again, I'm not famous...just recognizable). She looks at me, looks at my produce, and says, "Celery, huh?"

I nod, smile, and start to walk.

"I guess that's what it takes to be on TV," she says, giving her daughter a knowing look. I don't know what that means.

I'm tired and I probably should've just smiled, nodded, and walked on. But I stopped. I looked her straight in the eye and deadpanned, "No. This is all I can afford." And then I politely walked toward the noodles. As I walked, I heard her tell her daughter, "Your father wouldn't know a stalk of celery if he saw one."

I don't know what there people are saying. They never make any sense.

And don't get me wrong. 99% of the time, I'm nice. I'll stop and talk and listen and smile. I'm a nice guy.

Most people just want you to know that THEY know. It usually goes like this..."So, they gave you a day off, huh?"

I work five days a week like they do. But I always give them a look like, "I know, brother. Me and you are some hard working folks."

And then, there was a guy a few months back who walks by me on the street and says, "Hey! You got your Four on today?"

What does that mean? I mean, I work for Channel 4, but I rarely--if ever--wear a four on my shirt. I thought he was talking dirty. And the he said it again. "You got your FOUR on today..."

All I could think to say is, "No, they finally gave me a day off."

I wonder if I could get one of those blue work shirts with the name "Otis" on it? That might help.

Nobody recognizes Otis.

You're getting very sleepy...

Not that I want you to leave this site...but...with a lot of help from Susannah (bet you didn't know you were helping so much) I re-designed my other page tonight. When you're finished here, click on Southern Comfort over on your left.

The design is a complete fusion (and rip-off, by the way) of Su's two coolest sites. Kudos to her for leading the way.

--A very sleepy Otis

Monday, September 24, 2001

Small Town, Big Eats

This is really going to be lost on my friends who live in big cities. But I feel I have to share it. (As a paranthetical here...I am always wary of people who tell me they want to "share" something with me, but if you can look past it, I can too. Mental note...is it redundant to describe something as paranthetical if it is already in parantheses?)

I live in a mid-size town. The nearest city of any size is 120 miles away. I don't think that makes me a yokel, but I'm surely not as cosmopolitan as a lot of folks out there. And, in my defense, I'm a worldly guy. I've spent enough time in big cities, hot deserts, resort communties, and foreign nations to qualify for anti-yokel status. And in my defense (again) I've eaten in some of the country's finest eateries (food is a bit of a passion for me, but that's a story for another day). All that said...I felt like a yokel over the weekend.

It was time to spend some quality time with my girl. I'd been neglecting her a bit and she deserved a nice dinner. Rather than pop into one of our favorite joints, we chose a place we hadn't visited yet, Rene's Fish Market. It is really an unassuming place. I mean, for the love of Pete, it sits in the corner of a strip mall. Nevertheless, we noticed immediately it was, as they say, a place to be.

We recognized a few people as we walked through the door for our 8pm reservation. One, a surly pock-faced man named Oby Lyles who works for the school district pretended not to know me and I pretended to care who he was. The maitre d' isn't from around here. He sounded East Coast and acted well the part. The president of the new basketball franchise was entertaining his lady and speaking well of our former mayor Max Heller. He's the guy who once said, "Women will go anywhere to shop. We all know that. Women rule the world." (It sounds a lot better with his thick accent). The current mayor's wife was hiding in a corner somewhere.

Everybody kept talking about Rene. "Rene thanks you for being here." "Clemson is losing. Rene is losing money." "I'll tell Rene you said hello." I started toying with the idea that Rene doesn't actually exist. It was making me laugh. Rene never appeared and everytime someone mentioned his name I giggled...and it is really silly for a guy to giggle.

We sat down. The menu was a nice. A nice assortment of good meats and fish. "Please call 72 hours ahead for lobsters larger than two pounds." Our waiter Juan kept using phrases like "a menu for you, if I may" and "shall I proceed with your order."

So...all in all, the evening was going nicely. My girl ordered swordfish stuffed with crabmeat. We both had some clam chowder. And I did something I have never done before.

See, I'm a low-level newsie. My gal is a low-level newsie. We don't make any money. We get to play TV five days a week and they give us enough dough to pay our mortgage.

I was feeling like a little surf and turf. The only surf and turf on the menu fell under a dangerous heading for me. MARKET PRICE.

But I ordered anyway. And it was some great food. The filet didn't literally melt in my mouth, but it was afraid of my teeth enough to aquiesce as I let my jaw close. The lobster was tasty. I commented on the meal and wanted to thank Rene for it.

It came time for Juan to ask, "Shall I proceed with the check?" I said sure and he brought it out.

I scanned the ticket. The swordfish came out at $18. I was pleased with that. The soup was cheap. I looked down at the bottom. $44. Not bad at all for a great meal like that. I looked again.

Wait. There's no listing for MARKET PRICE here. Ah...ohhhhhhh.

Now, hear me here. I've paid much more for meals in the past. I've paid more for meals in the last few months. But it has been a long time since I paid $44 for one plate of food. Mental note: MARKET PRICE=$44.

There's no need to go into the full check price. Like I said, it wasn't the biggest ever (not even close). The point is...in the past, I always knew what the tab was going to be.

So, my girl laughed at me. My friends laughed at me. They told the story and I accidentally fell in a creek and they laughed at me again.

I know this will be lost on my big-city, high-mortage, big-job, market-price-is-the-only-price friends.

I'm not so embarrassed as I feel...un-cultured. It's like in one moment Rene (a man who decided to set up shop in a small town and govern his eateries from the shadows) turned me into a yokel. It's like being told it's part of the culture to urinate in the streets, doing so, and having a bunch of drunk Germans laugh at you (another story for another day).

I don't have a clever tag-line to this story. I wish I did. It's just something I needed to get off my chest.

I'm off to see if I can find some Pabst and some Ramen noodles.

Friday, September 21, 2001

I feel pretty...no...no...I feel normal

I accidentally took a drink of a super-heated Diet Coke about an hour ago. You never know how hot the inside of a black car can get in the sun until you feel a near-boiling, bubbly syrup scorching your throat. It was cloudy when I got out of the car and I wasn't gone long. How was I to know that Diet Coke gets hot that quickly? Regardless, apart from my scorched esophogus and a queasy feeling in my gut, I feel fairly normal today. For the first time in about a week and half.

Now, there is this part of me (swimming around a chicken salad boat in a pool of super-heated Diet Coke) that has this uneasy feeling about that other shoe. You know the one. The one that hasn't dropped yet. Ashcroft warns of attacks on Boston. Major sporting events get back into full swing this weekend. There is the potential for everything to be wrong in the next few days.

Yet, I feel fairly normal.

The sun is shining (be wary, Diet Coke drinkers), the humidity is low, the work-week is almost over, and some good friends are going to pop out a young'n here in the next nine months. Normalcy (that word that the politicians have been swimming in for the last week or so) has put up its flag on Mt. Willis.

In four hours, I get to leave work. I join all of my co-workers in their on-call status (thought I'm not sure what local newsies can do in a World War III situation). But, I will labor more on the prospect of keep my emotions in check.

So, for my friends in Boston, my friends in St. Louis, my friends in Denver, Columbia, Greenville, Springfield, Texas, Kansas City and the rest of country...enjoy this weekend as much as you can. Be careful and keep your eye on the sky for the other shoe... but know that a normal life is still possible and you can live it.

Just keep your Diet Coke in the fridge.

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

I laughed today

Today I watched my mayor climb into a back hoe and start tearing down a flop house motel known both as The Den of Sin and The Relax Inn. The woman standing next to me said he looked like Dukakis in the tank. I thought he looked like Kevin Kline in "Dave." ("I once caught a fish THIS big").

He only tore a small hole in the wall before a bleary-eyed red-faced man told him to hop down (I'm guessing that guy saved a lot of us from catching a back hoe scoop across the noggin). Mr. Bleary-Eye took down the rest of the wall and we all went home.

I came back a few hours later (after watching a perfectly insane woman explain why she let a racist murderer stay in her house and throw food at her) and stood outside the Relax Inn. I had some time to kill an didn't mind listening to the guy who came up and asked if I had a minute.

He looked really serious.

"What do you do if there's this restaurant? And it has thse biscuits? And the people who work there know the place has ants and watches the ants--like 4000 of them--crawl all over the biscuit and then puts that biscuit out for people to eat?"

This guy is actually asking me this question.

"I mean these ants are everywhere. All over the biscuits."

I watched my partner start shifting in his stance a little bit. He was tugging at his pant's crotch.

I offer that maybe this is an issue for the Department of Health. The guy looks incredulous.

"Like 4000 of them. All on one biscuit."

My partner is growing more and more uncomfortable. He's really digging at his crotch. I had just taught him the word formication a few minutes before. [No, not FORNICATION. With a "m." Look it up.]

"All over them and the managers know."

I offer the Department of Health answer again and start wondering if this guy lets racist murderers throw food at him, too.

"My wife works there."

That was it for me. I told him to have a good one and looked at my partner and asked if he was okay.

He tugged once more and looked sad.

"I think I have ants in my pants."

Not a bad day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2001


Looking back at my last few posts I realized that I've been awfully dreary. In a time when most of America is looking for some reason to smile, I haven't been helping very much. So, here are a few things that made me smile tonight...

*I went to the frolf course tonight and shot horribly. It was ugly. But as I walked off the course wondering whether I should ever play the game again I heard a clank. A cheer followed the clank. My eyes followed the cheer. Eighteen little dudes in saggy pants were struggling with ball gloves that were too big for their hands. Timmons Park was full of little leaguers. They'd watched their parents cry this last week and wondered why. They're about to grow up in world you and I didn't know until last week. And they were happy just to be playing ball.

*I drove home, sweating and letting the cool fall-ish air beat my hair dry. I came into my neighborhood through a back entrance that my wife hates and I love. Out on the curb, five little girls were dancing around holding American flags. Their parents watched form their driveways. Candles burned in front of 80% of the houses. The local fire and EMS crews were parading through the neighborhood, taking donations for the families of the firefigters in New York. This from people who would rather be called a sissy than a Yankee. They raised $5000 in our neighborhood alone. And we ain't rich folk.

Life is sometimes very nice.

Live, local, breaking Reality

Once again, you caught me reading Flutter...Glub...Meow.

Editor's note: It's my favorite read because its editor is the nice lady who turned me on to this ethereal form of venting. Plus, she's my buddy and I like to keep up with her moods.

Her most recent post hit home. She is a former newsie. I'm still handcuffed to the biz.

The recent events up north have made me realize what is right and what is worthless about our business. While I can't express my conclusions as well as I would like, they do make me wonder if I'm doing the right thing with my life. There are times when I truly feel I'm providing a service for my viewers. Most times, though, I feel like I'm interupting their lives. Something inside their warped brains forces them to watch local news. They tune in expecting to find something of relevance. Far too often, I fail them.

Today, for the first time since last Tuesday, I turned three stories that had nothing to do with terrorism. I hate to admit it, but it was nice to break from the horror of last week. The sad part...I was covering stories that I once considered great horrors of our times. Now--for right or wrong--they seem less significant.

1) A 1996 murder suspect cops a plea, avoiding a life-sentence by saying he has information on a cold case that the cops have been trying to solve for years. Turns out his information is worthless. A judge gives him 30 years.
2) A woman on trial for knowing her roommate killed a Radio Shack clerk (stabbed him in the neck) and not telling cops about it until the guy killed a florist, his ex-girlfriend, her husband, and then himself. She was in love with the killer and says she was afraid he would kill her too if she told anyone.
3) Three skin-head-looking guys follow a bunch of people home and rob them. The they run a poor lady off the road, rob and try to rape her.

This is what I do for a living.

My problem...I have no idea what I would do if I quit. I've seen about a half dozen people break free into the Land of the News Veterans. They all seem really happy. But I have very few skills. I can occasionally turn a phrase, I can talk clearly on occasion, and I can write dirty songs about my friends (usually delivered with a nice brain-greasing of cheap beer).

Anybody see those qualifications in the want ads?

Monday, September 17, 2001

All the rollercoaster, none of the amusement park

I was beginning to get worried there for a while. The Flutter Glub Meow page hadn't been updated in a long time and I was starting to feel damned alone out here (if you haven't logged on, look to your left and click on the corresponding site). The editor there is undoubtedly going through a lot of the same stuff yours truly is.

I'm having strange nightmares. No planes, no sky scrapers, but nightmares nonetheless. I can't imagine the horror shows that must be going on in the minds of those heroes in New York.

On my short drive into work today I think I figured out why we folk (the folk who are nowhere near the catastrophe) are feeling some effects. We (and by "we" I mean adult America) all aged about ten years in the last week. A good portion of us--those 35 and under--don't remember a war in the real sense of the word. The last action we saw was that media event in the Gulf. Now...unlike any time in recent history, we're seeing hell right here in America. It's like someone came in our houses and took our families right out from underneath us.

We're all slowly realizing that hell actually exists. Pain...throughout most of my 28 young years...has belonged to someone else. I've listened to women tell stories of how they were force to sleep naked with their fathers. I've watched girlfriends and best friends lose a great guy to a horrible accident. I've watched my grandparents watch one of their sons plunge so far into the drug world that he had to attend his own son's funeral under guard by a county deputy (he went right back in the slammer that night). And I can't count how many strangers have told me about the son or daughter they lost to one car wreck or drive-by shooting.

In short, pain has always been an isolated source of sympathy for me. I could always feel how that one person hurt and try to hold them. Now, the entire country is in so much pain it can't express how it hurts and I have no idea who to hold.

I sat at a traffic light today. I had to sit through it as it changed three times. One person in all the cars that passed was smiling. And I think he was only doing it to make his girlfriend smile. She wasn't.

And no one feels safe. Today I drove up into the northern part of the state. A huge nuclear generator sits up in the foothills, surrounded by a pretty lake with a pretty name...Keowee. About 48 hours ago, three unmarked choppers started hovering low over the reactors. The local cops had know idea who was at the controls. The state cops had no idea. And as it turns out, some of the feds didn't either. Two F-16s from a still-unnamed Air Force base scrambled and flew here. It took everybody about five and half hours to realize that the choppers were unmarked American military helicopters on a Top Secret training misson.

We all just grew up. I'm mad at myself because nothing excites me anymore. I'm not excited about watching football this weekend. I skipped a Donna the Buffalo concert last night (if you don't know the band, look it up). I don't want to hang out with my friends. I don't want to turn on the TV. And...I don't want to go to work.

I know that I am experiencing nothing as terrible as thousands of families in this country. I couldn't.

I don't even know what to write anymore. Simply put... this isn't getting any easier.

Friday, September 14, 2001


"Evil will not do us in...it is not the last word. In fact, death is the birth pangs into resurrection."
--Rev. Bob Dannals, Christ Church, Greenville, SC

Those who know me know I go to church for weddings and funerals.

"It feels like a funeral in one way and that is something has died in all of us."

Work sent me to church today. A man tolled a bell. The congregation sang songs. I sat in the balcony in front of an amazingly large set of organ pipes.

I didn't sing with the congregation, nor did I pray with them. But I was there and...for the first time...I understood why people go.

I stopped going to church when I was around 14. I got tired of the entire idea of tithing, hierarchies, bigotry, and the rest of it. I never had a need for it and in a lot of cases I never understood why anybody had a need for it. The entire concept seemed silly to me.

Even now as I sit here (avoiding all news from around the country), I still don't really appreciate organized religion. But I left today with a greater respect for people who do appreciate and need it. Somehow, sitting in a balcony in front of the organ pipes, looking around and seeing people I know from the community in tears...it made me feel a little better.

I am not now, nor do I think I will ever be a really religious man. If this doesn't convert someone...nothing will. But I understand something more about life today.

I have my own brand of spirituality. I dont talk about it. Not with my wife. Not with my friends. Not with my family. It's mine.

And that's what makes it real.

I'm lost

I can't watch any more. I can't click on another web site.
Maybe this will help some.

Thursday, September 13, 2001

Hope continued

I've got three double-shifts under my belt and still don't know how today will end. Each time I think I'm tired I think about those brave people (the doctors, the firefighters, the cops, the volunteer steel workers, etc) who haven't been to sleep since Tuesday morning. Then I feel guilty for feeling tired.

At last post...I told you about the $147,000 that our community had donated to the Red Cross for relief efforts. When the campaign finished last night at midnight...we had raised $289,000.

They're pulling people out of the rubble alive. There's hope there.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001


I work in a sometimes worthless medium. I don't like myself or my work sometimes. But today, as America recovers, I'm proud of where I work.

I work for a man (think Peter Graves with an edge) who decided this morning that we weren't quite doing enough yet. So, with less than an hour's notice, he mobilized dozens of people and started a fundraising campaign.

In the last six hours, we've raised $147,000. There's word now that one guy is coming here with a $25,000 check. That will push it up over $170,000 with at least three hours to go in the campaign.

In the grand scheme of things that amount may be a fraction of a fraction of the need. But it is something.

And something is something I didn't feel we had yesterday.

Red-eyed and wondering

I force-fed myself five hours of sleep. I forced myself to turn off the fires and tears for five hours. I forced myself to attempt to dream. It didn't work. I slept hard and woke up feeling much the same as yesterday.

I almost drowned in guilt yesterday. Guilt that I was so far away, guilt that I was hurting when others were hurting so much more.

Over the past few hours I have recovered from that, because I know that most of my country feels exactly as I do. I've spoken to many friends and family members in the last 24 hours. Even the people I wouldn't expect to feel the effects are feeling them just as strongly.

I'm back on the job. Back to informing people. My next job...sit down with a group of local students who were in New York yesterday and were on their way to the Trade Center when hell came to America.

Terror can't win. We can't let it.

Nevertheless...there is a reason it is called terrorism.

We now know exactly what terror is.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001


I don't know how to start here.

I slept through my alarm this morning and would've missed my first meeting of the day. But my mom called and told me to turn on the TV.

My job is to inform people. I spent part of the day at my local airport. Part of the day with a preacher. Part of the day watching gas prices rise. I watched people cry all day.

Each time I wandered by a TV, I saw planes, fire, people jumping out of buildings.

How do you react? I tripped between anger, numbness, and wet eyes. Each time I tell somebody, "it doesn't get any worse than this," it does.

I think about the thousands of families who have lost everything tonight. I feel guilty about my feelings. As far as I know right now, everybody I love is okay. But I'm still hurting. My colleagues are numb.

Strangely, I find myself just wanting to put on a pair of sweatpants and hold my dog.

But, right now, my job is to inform people, for bad or for good.

It's been almost exactly 12 hours since I woke up...and I'm still having a hard time making myself believe that this doesn't have anything to do with me.

More than anything...I just realized...there is absolutely nothing I can do that will change much of anything.

Some people pray. I don't and this is one of those times I wish I did.

Monday, September 10, 2001

Compromise on Justice

I've been watching Pat Lollis for about a year now. She's a widow who draws make-up around her eyes and struggles to keep her tears from ruining it. Sometimes she wins, sometimes she loses. She knows about loss. She watched two men gun her husband down five years ago.

Pat spent a lot of time in courtrooms since then, shifting in uncomfortable seats, looking with glazed eyes at the men who plotted to rob and kill her husband George. She watched two men go to jail on murder charges. She watched the Supreme Court overturn their convictions. She came back to court for hearing after hearing, waiting for justice.

Greenville, South Carolina's summer of 1996 was bloody. A crew of money-hungry and blood-thirsty bandits were robbing and shooting up the foothills burg. Police caught some of bandits, got some convictions, and beat their detective-heads against the wall trying to solve the case of Jason Anderson's murder. He died on the job at a a mom and pop animal shop called the Carolina Pet Center. He couldn't figure out how to open the cash register and a guy in a mask shot him dead. He was 20 and just engaged. Police never found the shooter, never found the gun.

Today in court, Pat Lollis watched the last of her husband's killers make a play for a shorter prison sentence. He knows where the Pet Center gun is. He probably knows who shot it. The prosecutor wanted to cut a deal. If the once-convicted murderer can lead them to the gun, he gets 25 years in the pokey instead of life. The deal hinged on Pat Lollis.

She watched her husband die. She watched the System let the killers out of jail. She spent half a decade in the waning years of her life sitting in courtrooms lit by ugly flourescent lights. Now, an elected prosecutor wants to cut a deal and not fully prosecute the man who had a hand her husband's death.

She said yes.

Now...Jason Anderson's mother...a woman who once forgave the unknown killer and who now leads a tortured life somewhere in the North Carolina mountains has a chance to know who killed her son.

She has a chance at justice, because Pat Lollis compromised on her's.

Friday, September 07, 2001

Just me and you and dog named Scoop

So, I call this Bachelor Brad Weekend (I'd call it Bachelor Otis Weekend, but the alliteration would be all off). The wife is off to a hitchin' in Jackson, MS and I have cleared my schedule for a weekend of boyish activities. The only one to keep me in line is Scoop.

And here's to me being really excited. During a bit of downtime at work today, I checked my e-mail. Somebody has actually been reading my ramblings here on RER! I'm not just sending my missives off into the ether! While I don't think any part of my life is all that exciting, it's nice to know somebody takes the time to read me.

I have just a few minutes before I go and put my life in the hands of a skilled chopper pilot. I thought I'd let loose a faint sadness now so my weekend will be a happy one.

If you've ever flown into the Greenville/Spartanburg International Airport (not exactly JFK), you've likely run into or run by a woman named Birthday Betty. She worked in the gift shop. She was round and losing her hair and could talk your ear off. If you told her your birthday, she would never forget it. You could walk by three years later and she would look at you, tell you your name, and tell you your birthday. A lot of people thought she was a freak. A lot of people thought she was a gift. I never had much of an opinion either way and I'm sort of sad that I didn't.

That's because Betty died yesterday. Heart attack. Her husband found her dead.

Betty knew my birthday and I didn't know hers.

I just know what day she died.

That's why I'm sad.

Now that I've purged that, I feel a little better. Here's to poker, beer, football. and the unofficial start to autumn.

Wednesday, September 05, 2001

A Meat and Three Primer

I'm not a Southerner. I'm not a Yankee. I come from the Midwest originally, which means when it comes down to it, I'm nothing.

When you're nothing, it is easy for the little things to impress you. Long Island accents. California avacado-eaters. People who love the Red Sox.

I moved to the South in 1997. I fell in love with the BBQ. I fell in love with the music. Blues from the MIssissippi Delta, banjo-pickin' from the Carolina moutains, Zydeco from the dirty floors of Bourbon Street. It all took this little nothing and wrapped him in southern cloth and called him a convert.

All of this brings me to why I'm covering my keyboard (owned by a large corporation which probably doesn't like the idea very much) with grease.

In the South, you know you're about to eat very well (and very badly) if you pull a muscle while carrying your lunch in from the car. I figure my lunch today weighed about as much as my dog. It (the lunch, not my dog) came from a joint that is more a genre than a food place.

Around here (and maybe in other places I haven't visited) they call them "Meat and 3's." In short, you get a meat and three sides for a set price. In my case today $4.65.
They're everywhere. Some are good, some are bad. The one near my office is an institution. McBee's Diner. Mrs. McBee (and that's MACK-bee, by the way) hooks me up whenever I walk in. "Get that Newsman a bigger breast," she says. Frankly, they're probably big enough as it is.

Inside the heavy styrofoam box (no earth-friendly wax paper in this place): a fried chicken breast big enough to injure a small child; green beans that had been cooking so long that they were actually afraid of the pastic fork; mac and cheese (none of that Kraft powder cheese); and the delicacy, fried okra.

Here's the mark of a fine southern meal: If when you finish, your paper napkin has so much grease on it that it is transparent, you're eating well.

I heard somewhere that southerners have a greater risk of heart disease and Yankee's have a better chance of dying becuase of work-related stress.

I'm not worried, though. I'm nothing.

Wait. I take it back. I am SOMETHING.

I am full.

Tuesday, September 04, 2001

Maybe he's not that curious after all
From the Associated Press...

Curious George publisher sues Jews for Jesus

(New York-AP) -- Curious George isn't affiliated with Jews for
So says a lawsuit filed today in federal court in New York City
by the publisher of Curious George children's books.
Houghton Mifflin accuses Jews for Jesus of stealing the
character for pamphlets distributed to pedestrians in New York
City, Minneapolis and possibly other cities.
The "Are you Curious?" pamphlets depict a cartoon monkey
reading the Bible. Readers are told, "You can't find something if
you're not willing to search. Even a silly little monkey like
George could figure that out!"
The suit seeks an injunction barring Jews for Jesus from using
Curious George. It also demands damages of at least 500-thousand
A Jews for Jesus spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

Reality, rain, and razors

The sky is still mucky. The sun decided to take a longer weekend than the rest of the nation's labor force.

It's easy not to shave when the sun isn't shining. I shaved Friday morning and didn't shave again until this morning. I was starting to look like a lesser caveman. I kept looking at myself in mirrors (rearview, bathroom, handheld) and wondering. If I didn't have to go to work, would I shave at all?

Somebody once said, "You can't trust someone who has facial hair. They've got to be hiding something."

Maybe that's not so true. Maybe their hairy faces are less a lie and more an admission that they truly don't care anymore.

On a more sunny note, my friends Jay and Susannah are celebrating their anniversary today. Congrats to the happy couple for slugging through the often confusing world of marriage and finding their happy niche.

Sunday, September 02, 2001

Today's Rainy Reailty

It's been raining so much the ducks are complaining. I've spent two days in bed watching the street outside get wet. I stumbled out into the humid air this afternoon and had a perfectly bad day on the frolf course. Then it rained. I came back home and climbed back into bed.

The worst part is...tomorrow is Labor Day, I have it off, and it's supposed to keep raining.

It's not that I dislike rain. But if it is going to be a wet holiday, I'd rather be paid double-time.

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Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
All poker stories, travelogues, food writing, parenting and marriage advice, crime stories, and other writing should be taken with a grain of salt. It is also all protected under a Creative Commons license