Charles Gounod / Messe solennelle Santa Cecilia 'Credo'

One of the most beautiful pieces of music ever composed, I think. Taking a break from Three Hundred Words until the new year to focus on some neglected tasks :)


A Ruse by Any Other Name

He was a simple farmer. But his involvement in anti-government activities was well-known by the authorities so when they picked him up and delivered him to the detention center he was not in the least surprised. What did surprise him however, as his eyelids suddenly grew heavy, was the large syringe full of sedative that they delivered into his neck.

He didn’t wake when they dressed him in a Polish army uniform and tossed him in the back of a truck that rumbled 500 miles through the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and onwards to Upper Silesia, arriving at the small town of Gleiwitz, just four miles from the Polish border. He didn’t wake either when he was dragged into the control room of the radio station or when the announcer uttered his famous nine words, “Uwage! Tu Gliwice. Rozglosnia znajduje sie w rekach Polskich.” And we can hope Franciszek Honiok didn’t wake when they emptied a revolver into head and placed blame upon him for the beginning of World War II:
This night for the first time, Polish regular soldiers fired on our territory. Since 5.45 A.M. we have been returning the fire, and from now on bombs will be met by bombs… I will continue this struggle, no matter against whom, until the safety of the Reich and its rights are secured.”

Though Hitler had already negated the non-aggression agreement with Poland he still needed this part of Operation Himmler to provide the world his casus belli. “Its credibility doesn't matter,” he told his Generals on August 22, 1939, “the victor will not be asked whether he told the truth."
The Third Reich didn’t invent False Flag scenarios and in fact they’ve always been used by a host of self-serving villainous entities, great and small, with varying success.


A Redundant but Sincere Welcome...

...to td, (one of my favorite new writers) a recent and frequent commenter but new to "follow" here, thanks!


Of Heroic Lineage

And just like that, it was over.

Liberty ships and troop transports began to load up, sometimes 15,000 men at a time, their decks stacked six-high with bunks. By September 30, 1946, Operation Magic Carpet had returned over 8 million soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines back to American shores from the European and Pacific theaters.  The war was over. Here’s your discharge. Thank you very much.
Many of the veterans found their way back to their old lives, retaking their place at the family farms and stores. Some took advantage of the GI Bill and got a college degree. Many bought their first homes on VA loans and started families. But many had a tough go. They were crippled. Disfigured. Mentally ill. Most suffering from PTSD, they’d never again find any semblance of normalcy in their lives.

There were heroes who’d seen action - the fighter pilots, the tail-gunners, the tank drivers, the Marines charged with taking beaches and mountains inch by bloody inch – who missed the noise, the excitement, the adrenaline-pumping existence of a life lived at full speed, who found their old life utterly, completely and devastatingly boring. Some of these men returned to service. In the new America, after all, another war would always be just around the corner.

Some though, found what they were looking for on the expanding American highways: speed, freedom, open horizons, camaraderie, and life on the edge. It was all there. They began to form motorcycle and hot rod clubs. They lived a relatively obscure life of satisfaction.
In 1947, came the Hollister Riot. LIFE magazine took notice of the new breed of men, these outlaws, these “1%ers.”

And in 1948, one of those “pissed off bastards” from Bloomington, California split with his motorcycle club and created something new: The HELLS ANGELS.


A Distant Consular Posting

From the day of her birth, she was perfect, and as she grew from infant to beautiful young girl, it became obvious to all in her seaside village that she was highly favored by the gods. The priests in the temple cautioned her parents to take good care of her lest some tragedy befall her. And they did. Everyone did. And she was loved.

She reached puberty with her purity intact and her body unscarred, and not long after, word had reached the seat of government in Cusco that a new candidate was ready to accept an ambassadorial scholarship. When the official delegation arrived to escort her to the Incan capital, a great feast was ordered. It was the first time the village had been honored in this way, the first time that one of their own had reached such a pinnacle of grace. Surely they would be blessed for the rest of their days.

In Cusco, she was treated like royalty. She was assigned a small army of grooms and maids and teachers, given the finest clothes. She ate fresh vegetables and fine fat llama meat at the table of all the great nobles. The king himself would visit her personally to check on her well-being and progress.
At the end of the year, she was deemed ready. She was given her assignment and an enormous entourage set out on the thousand mile trek. Though only fifteen, it was to her credit that she only sprouted a handful of white hairs by the time she arrived at her post on the top of Llullaillaco on February 6, 1499. Her job title, after all, was fairly stress-inducing: sacrificial virgin.

Beautiful in life, the archaeologists who discovered La Doncella’s incorrupt body 500 years later also found her breathtakingly beautiful in death.


Folie à Deux

They were sisters. All the things that sisters shared, the secrets, the crushes, the dreams, and worries, they shared too. But Sabina and Ursula were not just sisters, they were identical twins. All of their experiences, they shared from the womb.

When they fed, they shared their mother’s milk. And when she died, they shared each other’s tears.

When their father would come home drunk and angry, they’d share the hiding space in the attic.

At school, they shared their lunch. And their homework. They shared a love for sports. And when teased by bullies because of their poverty, they shared their ears and shoulders and hearts.
But, as happens in life, they grew up. And soon, Ursula met a man she fell in love with. An American. She married and moved to the United States and left her sister in Sweden.

They stayed in touch though, almost every day. Still best friends for life.
On May 17, 2008, Sabina and Ursula were reunited on a rather spur of the moment meeting in London. And they were sharing again.

This time though, they were sharing symptoms.
Irritability. Nonsensical speech. Irrational fear. Confabulations and hallucinations.

So when Ursula ran out into the highway and jumped in front of a speeding truck, it was only natural that Sabina would follow suit and dive into the path of an oncoming car. A case of emotional contagion is the explanation. Perhaps.
But that doesn’t explain how the sisters not only survived the violent collisions but continued to viciously fight off rescuers until they were subdued by a half dozen police and bystanders. Nor does it explain how Sabina survived a 40’ jump from an overpass the next day after murdering a sympathetic Samaritan.

The Eriksson sisters, the police, and the courts still refuse comment.


Poetry in Motion

A corpse was carted down Main Street of Langtry, Texas, and deposited at the steps of the Jersey Lilly Saloon and Court House. The judge stepped through the swinging doors and banged his Colt .45 like a gavel against a whiskey barrel.

“Hear ye, hear ye, court’s now in session!”
He pointed to the dead body and asked one of the spectators what had happened.

“The bridge collapsed on him, yer’onner.”

The judge snorted and craned his crooked neck to examine the still-warm corpse.
“What’s the defendant got in his pockets?”

A quick search turned up $40 and a pistol.
The judge cleared his throat and began, “It is the judgment of this court that you are hereby tried and convicted of illegally and unlawfully committing certain grave offenses against the peace and dignity of the State of Texas, particularly in my bailiwick. $40 payable to the court and confiscation of the illegal weapon, next case!”

Aristotle put forth in his Poetics that poetry was ultimately more important than history, myth more important than fact, because within it spiritual and moral truths could be found. These are truths that inform and define, upon which cultures and societies depend for their continued identity.
Going by this philosophy and since official records weren’t actually kept by the Justice of the Peace in Precinct 6, Pecos County, we can feel morally safe in asserting that it occurred on February 25, 1883. Accurate or not, the legends surrounding such bold and larger than life characters like Judge Roy Bean contributed to the American ethos, that exceptional identity which propelled the expanding nation through a next half-century that had much of the rest of the world reeling from amnesia. It would take but a few more years before America began to show its own symptoms.



Sergeant Jenkins was in a state of near-panic and he’d already sucked down a six-pack before he even began patrol. His First Cavalry Division was being asked to make riskier and riskier missions into the Demilitarized Zone each week. If the North Koreans were the only threat, he might have handled it better but there were rumors now that his unit was going to soon be sent off to that expanding nightmare they called Vietnam.

When he reenlisted, he hadn’t counted on that. He just wanted to be home now. Back in North Carolina. He had to find some way to get back there. Any way.
Each swallow of beer from that point onward fueled the frantic conversation going on his brain. Finally, he decided he couldn’t argue with a crazy mind; tonight would be the night. But he kept drinking to make sure his brain wouldn’t back out the way his knees were trying to.

He popped  open his tenth beer and he led a four-man team into the forest 2,000 yards from the Military Demarcation Line. Their route was to take them within 500 yards of the line before turning to parallel it, looking and listening for “gook” activity. As they made the turn, Sergeant Jenkins raised his hand and halted his men.
“I heard something… stay here while I check it out.”

He walked through the trees and disappeared.
It was a very surprised North Korean soldier that found him with his white t-shirt tied to his M-14.

Charles Robert Jenkins’ (not-well-thought-out) plan of finding his way to Moscow and being traded back to America in a prisoner exchange didn’t exactly pan out. After *Deserting While Intoxicated, he wouldn’t be permitted to leave the communist utopia of North Korea until July 9, 2004, almost 40 years later.


"This Man is Not a Nut"

On December 15, 1943, a single B-25 Mitchell approached an isolated Japanese village carrying a special payload, one that could strike terror in the hearts of every man, woman, and child; a payload that could potentially save a hundred thousand American lives; a payload that could eventually end the war.

The bomber kept at a cruising speed of 230 mph, flying at 5,000’. This particular plane was not made for the low and terrible strafing runs that her sisters in the Solomon’s were to become famous for. She had no guns or rockets and carried no torpedoes but just below its twin 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engines were a pair of odd looking bombs. Each was about 5’ long and punctuated with dozens of little vents.
When the plane reached its target, the navigator released the bombs. They fell like any other bomb until they reached an altitude of 1000’. And then they opened, and ten little crates popped out of the shell, each crate releasing a small parachute that slowed their descent.  As they floated gently downward, a thousand Mexican free-tail bats escaped from them and flew off towards the Japanese village, tucking themselves into hard to reach corners and eaves of the highly-flammable paper and wood structures. Thirty minutes later, the timers went off and the kerosene incendiaries they carried around their necks ignited. The entire village was engulfed in flames within minutes.

This secret project, which took place at a replica Japanese village in a Utah army base, had all begun at the suggestion of Eleanor Roosevelt’s dentist, Lytle Adams. Her husband, the President, gave it the go-ahead in a memo to the Army with a qualifier describing the dentist: “This man is NOT a nut.
The Bat Bomb was eventually scrapped in favor of the nuclear option.


Reach Out and Touch Someone

A small dust devil formed as heat from the ground flew up like a chimney into the morning cool. It danced its way between a maze of greasewoods, erasing the little path of letter J’s left by a sidewinder rattler in search of prey the night before. The Kangaroo Rat that had escaped from the rattler was just closing the entrance to its burrow in hopes of a morning of promiscuity with a few of the many females hiding below when the dust devil caught it by surprise. The wind was strong enough to send it tumbling out a few feet into the open ground.

As the vortex dissipated, a red-tail hawk flew overhead. The exposed rodent had just opened its eyes when he saw the talons of the raptor inches away. He jumped and the claws closed only on air. He hopped again and again to avoid being eaten, randomly, like a locust, and he finally landed in some cheat grass at the base of a gangly teddy bear cholla.
The cactus wren inside the cholla was not pleased and began its characteristic complaining. The Kangaroo Rat scrambled out, hopped marvelously again and hid behind a Joshua tree near the base of a cinder cone that had been mined out 50 years ago.

And so it usually went, variations on this quiet theme since time immemorial, with little disturbance here in the high desert. In the middle of nowhere, with nature taking its course.
And then, one morning, a telephone rang and the silence was broken.

The next morning, it rang again.
And it rang for 24 days.

On the 25th day, June 20, 1997, it rang again. This time, someone answered it.

The legend of the most remote telephone booth in America, the Mojave Phone Booth, had begun.


God Save Us All From Good Intentions

More than a thousand years of floods and the successive lootings and pickings for other construction projects had left the once spectacular mortuary temple of Amenhotep III little more than a pile of stones. All that was left intact were the twin colossi, each 60’ tall, which stood lonely guard at the entrance of the ruins. For the most part, the statues were ignored. Compared to the remaining structures at the Theban acropolis, and the temple complexes of Luxor and Karnak across the Nile, it was a rather unremarkable eyesore.

And then, sometime around February 5th, 27 BC it became remarkable again. A small earthquake struck Egypt. It did little damage to the southern statue but it cut the northern twin off at the waist and left a deep crack through its base. Soon after, the statue became… ”talkative.”
It didn’t always speak, but when it did, it would always be at sunrise. And though it sounded more like the plucking of a lyre string than a voice, word spread across the empire of the amazing vocal statue. Strabo, Pausanias, and Pliny all attested to its wonder. By the time that Emperor Septimius Severus arrived in 199 AD, the statue already had over a hundred bits of Greek and Latin graffiti carved into it.

Severus had been advised to curry favor with the statue by his wife, Julia Domna, the high-priestess of the temple of Elagabalus, the Syrian sun-god. When it didn’t speak for him, he assumed the damaged condition of the statue to be the reason. So he ordered his soldiers to “repair” it and five rows of stone blocks were stacked upon it. It’s been mute ever since.

Art history is replete with the destructive effect of good intentions, and gods, whether Amenhotep or Jesus, are not immune.


Goodfellas? Bedfellas.

The one night he’d spent in the joint facing armed robbery charges was life-changing. When Gregory walked out of jail on the 21st of March, 1962, he was a new man. That wasn’t to say that he’d turned over a new leaf and would walk the straight and narrow.  As a matter a fact, if anything, he would henceforth ply his trade with even more élan. What changed that morning was his status, for a deal was made with the devil. Just which side in the transaction played the role of Satan and which side lost its soul has still proven to be ambiguous.

Over the next thirty years, Gregory Scarpa “informed” - he informed the FBI - of plans and crimes and conspiracies, of conversations and rumors and goings-on among the Five Families of organized crime.  Gregory Scarpa also committed assault, supervised  bookmaking operations, hijacked trucks, trafficked in cocaine, loan-sharked, stole mail, laundered money, ran credit card scams, extorted, kidnapped, and tortured. And he personally murdered no less than a dozen people. From that day in 1962 when he was first “turned” until the very end of his long reign of terror in 1992, only when his behavior could no longer be hidden, Scarpa had spent a total of 30 days in jail. He had been known by other wise guys as the Grim Reaper; as the man who’d leave 666 as his calling card with his victims. And he’d collected over $150,000 in informant fees from his “handlers” while he was being protected.
One is naturally led to ask the question, like concerned citizen and freelance investigator Angela Clemente has done in a 300 page report to the Justice Department: Which is worse, a mafia that operates outside of the law or a government that knows no law?


Stubborn to Live, Stubborn to Die

The West Branch Susquehanna River zigzags its way through central Pennsylvania , passing to the east of the small community of Kelly Township, about 170 miles west of Philadelphia. Cornfields patina the countryside a brassy yellow, accentuating the thick boundaries of oak forests teeming with deer and fox. Farming and hunting naturally dominate the local activities but other than that there’s nothing to explain the unique group of men who’ve called this out-of-the-way place home… except: the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary.

On December 23, 1971, a man walked out the doors of the prison having served only five years of a thirteen year sentence thanks to a Presidential pardon. At the time, he was already more well- known than some of the men who’d occupied his cell-block before him – Whitey Bulger, Wilhelm Reich, and Alger Hiss – better known than any he served time with – Paul Vario, RobertLee Johnson, and John Gotti – and even more infamous than those that would follow – Henry Hill, John Wojtowicz, and Robert Hansen. His fame, however, didn’t help him “post-prison” and he met resistance in regaining the glory of his old life, so three years later he began to write his autobiography.
And then he disappeared.

His autobiography was published a few months later but it didn’t include his obituary. That was to be written and rewritten over the years by a countless parade of surmising G-men, deathbed thugs, and barstool theorists: “Disintegrated in a fat-rendering plant… Mixed in the concrete below Giant’s Stadium… Sealed in a drum in a toxic waste dump… Buried under the helipad at the Sheraton Savannah Resort… Crushed in scrap-metal and shipped to Japan.”

Etcetera. Etcetera.
Since Jimmy Hoffa mysteriously disappeared from a restaurant near his Detroit home in 1975, he’s died a thousand deathsand counting, yet refuses to die.


Hi Trina!

Welcome to Three Hundred Words and thanks for the "follow!" A new story to come this weekend!