Monday, December 30, 2019

Same Ole Me

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Nico and Christopher marveling at the Catedral de la Almudena, Madrid, Spain. December 29, 2019.

December 30, 2019

New year. New me.  I’m sure you’ll see that from a whole lot of online friends while scrolling through your timeline on Twitter or seeing it plastered on your Facebook wall leading up to the new year, 2020. 

But I can honestly say that whatever inspirational quotes I will see on a social media platform or Peloton ad shoved down my throat, you’ll always going to have the same ole me.   

New day, new month, and new decade.  I’m the same ole me. 

Don’t get me wrong and think that by me declaring that I’m the same ole me I have stopped growing, evolving, and have not learned from my past mistakes or hard lessons.  I’m just declaring that I can change my attitude, my body and mind but in my core, I’m the same ole me. 

As the year 2019 closes, and the last decade finds its place in the history books, I can honestly say that I would love to have a better decade this time around.  I had a rough start to the beginning of 2010.    Two years in on 2012 my wife died.  I was placed in a tailspin for 2 years.  I was angry at everyone for my lack of help with my kids.  But with guidance and self help I successfully pulled out of it.     

I’m grateful I have survived emotionally with the loss of the boys’ mother and found footing to raise them. Without help in the beginning and then later a new person who would later become my wife.  And I’m lucky to be where I am in this life because I worked hard to mentally and physically breakthrough the dark clouds of fear and the unknown of my future.   I fought my way through times I thought I could never do it on my own because I was to weak and insecure in my position of life.  My whole world was caving in on me.  But being a victim never suited me.  And I broke through to the other side, albeit scathed, battered, and bruised but nevertheless, I learned. And I lived through it all to become wiser, calculated and humbled.  

The end of the decade brought me a wife and new son, Blake, who taught me the lesson that with or without me, life will move on.  So I choose to live.  And in choosing to live I can always say I was true to myself by being, the same ole me. 

A new decade is beckoning.  There is going to be challenges, heartache, and loss on this new journey into 2020 and beyond.   But there will also be good times, learning moments, celebrations and growth.  Starting with the birth of a new son in May of 2020.  Giving me 4 boys.  

I made it.  2019 is gone.  The decade is gone.  But I have persevered and won my way into a new decade.  A new beginning, a fresh start.  But I’ll never forget how I got here.  New year, new me?  Nah,  It was by being, the same ole me. 

*** I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. May your new year, and new decade bring you good health and good fortunes.  I thank you all for being apart of my growth and look forward to what’s yet to come.  2020!!  On a personal note.  2020 is off to a great start. I have a new son due in May 2020.  4 boys.  I’m very fortunate. Thank you, God. 

Captain Imperfecto and son Blake backpacking it in Madrid, Spain. December 29, 2019

© Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Death Had a Field Day, a Halloween Horror Story part 1

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Christopher and Nico waiting for the best pizza! August 2, 2019

October 19, 2019

An old man stepped off the bus and meandered around people for the first time in 34 years.  Parched from his bus ride he headed over to the soda pop counter and grabbed himself an RC Cola.  After popping the top he turned around and felt faint for a second.  Chicago was a big city and just the sight of the city skyline overwhelmed him.  He sat down on the closest bench he could find and sipped his soda while watching the people walk by. 

“This world sure has changed,” Clyde muttered.

He sat back and removed his hat.  He dabbed his forehead with his kerchief.

“Whoosh.”  He exhaled a big gulp of frustration.

Clyde continued to sip his pop.  After each gulp he’d palm the bottle and gaze at it, he longed for some whiskey to add some better flavor.  The old man leaned to his right and charged his hand forcefully into his left rear back pocket.  In that pocket there was a folded bundle of paper.   Once in his hands, he opens it and over the front letterhead spelled out in large 13-point font “Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium.”  Embarrassed he quickly folded it and looked around.  When he realized the people around him could careless that he was even sitting there, he opened it again and proceeded to read the information in the 10-page letter.

The Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium (CMTS) was built on a large 160-acre property that was owned by Cook County but the facility itself was run by the City of Chicago.  The sanitarium was opened in 1915 for patients with the “white plague” or tuberculosis.  But many normal folks didn’t know, or simply ignored, that on the north side of the property where the men were housed there was a special building made for mental patients.  Even though regular people knew what happened behind those gates and tightly secured building, which was occupied by large orderlies, ornery nurses, and doctors who ruled with iron fists.   They mostly ignored the plight of the incarcerated much like anyone who has ever passed a county animal shelter.  We all know what happens in there but we choose to ignore all the death and mayhem.

Clyde was finally free after 34 years, 62 days, 7 hours and 31 minutes.  And for all his time spent in their mental facility, the city only offered him a bus ticket, an $800 dollar check, and some donated clothing from the Holy Trinity Church.   Sitting in solitude, while others didn’t acknowledge him, was common for most of his life.  His family was long gone.  His friends disappeared or were dead; he found that he really had no place to go.  There was no inheritance waiting for him after his dad past.  No hugs to embrace him as a welcome home.  He only had his solitude.

“63 years-old,” he said.

Next to him there was a newspaper stand.  He hadn’t seen one before.  He recalled seeing a boy on his bike tossing newspapers to the residents of Cherry.   He walked over and read the newspaper headline scrolled over the top of the The Chicago American header.  There was a name that caught his eye.  The name was, George Eddy, Jr..  The name brought back a bad memory.  Every time Clyde was presented with a bad memory prior to being committed he would revert back to the horror of his shock treatments.  Before he fell back to his seat he dropped 7 cents into the box, removed a newspaper and read the first few lines of the article.

“My series on my little town of Cherry, Ill.  fond memories I had as a child resonate more with my own children…” the article began.

Memories of the town of Cherry caused him to pause for a moment whenever that name crossed his mind.  He closed his eyes.  He was so focused on his past that he blocked out the people around him.  Fire and flames over took his thoughts and consumed his thinking.  The trauma of the coal fire of 1909 quickly rushed into his mind.  Men climbing over dead bodies and thoughts of other men pulling boys off of ladders in order to ascend out of the tunnels as the fire spread quickly ravaged him.  These constant reminders consumed him almost daily.  A rush of thought pushed forward into 1925 and he recalled being forcefully taken away from the basement by men in white coats. 

One of the burly men hit him in the face.  As he fell backwards the other man used brute force to grab his arm.  He was turned over on his face.  A straight jacket was slipped over his torso and tightened.  One of the men grabbed the collar and pulled him back to his butt.  He then proceeded to drag him up the stairs.  Step by step, his backside scraped along the carpeted platform, his lower back striking the ledge of the next step. 

As he got to the top of the stairs, he was pulled across the black and white checkered kitchen floor.  The kitchen was rather large, 26 x 24.  Sounds of his limp body being forcefully dragged across the floor filled the space with a squealing sound.  When his momentum finally stopped at the edge of the kitchen, one of the men grabbed his ankles and spun him 180 degrees around and dropped his feet, which fell hard towards the ground and made a loud booming noise when his heals struck the surface.  He realized he was on the edge of the living room.  He then looked up. 

In the middle of his vision of the 24-foot high ceilings and between the 10 feet exposed beams, that stretched upwards, was his fathers perfectly framed face looking back at him.  His father was prepared for a final confrontation of his son.

“Son, I’m so disappointed in you,” his baritone voice rumbled.  “For 16 years you have been a thorn in my side.  I tried to make you a man, but yet you turned out to be unworthy of my loins.  I know you killed your mom.  Sealing her in the room and pumping carbon monoxide in from the flute you made in the side of the brick fireplace.  You were a sick child.  I spent many years rebuilding after we closed the mine in 1915.  You tried to destroy it all!”

“It wasn’t me," Clyde implored,  "I thought I did it  many years after mom died.  But I didn't kill her!  It was the men and boys who died in that mine!  They killed her!  The night we heard the wind chimes.  The ground was rumbling.  They retuned from the graves in those shafts.  They came!  They killed her first.”

“That is enough with your delusions of grandeur. Take him to the sanitarium!  I never want to see you again.”


While reflecting on his time of the torment his father inflected on him as a child and into adult life, he thought of ways to combat his thoughts with positive reinforcement.  But he could never find that element of forgiveness within him that the psychologists sought.

“The idea that these men can talk to you 26 years after they have perished is not sane,” Doctor Bremen said in a one of his sessions.  “This isn’t something a sane person would say.”

“It’s true!  Those men and children were just buried there after their deaths.  The holes re-dug and those holes filled.  They are covered in those slag piles as a monument!  It’s a constant reminder to the dead that they were second class people.  There will be a reckoning.  When those chimes ring it means they’re coming.  That town has it coming to them.  They are coming!” 

A bus horn blared.  Men, women and children ran past Clyde.  This broke him from his trance.  He decided to hitchhike the 100 miles to Cherry and find Eddy Jr..


Captain Imperfecto on training days! September 29, 2019

© copyright 2019 Captain Imperfecto, LLC. All rights reserved.  


Death Had a Field Day, a Halloween Horror Story part 2

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Nico and Christopher on an early school morning. October 7, 2019

“When you hear the wind chimes bellow from the forest on the outskirts of our town, you better lockdown your house, hide inside your businesses or get the hell out of town.  This is what I was told all my life.  I never believed it.  I mean really.  Why give me a warning with a wind chime?  Just come out of the woods, and kill me.  Don’t chime some musical instrument like some kind of dinner bell.  Am I right?”  

George typed out on his typewriter while he sat in his usual spot in Cherry’s most popular restaurant, which happened to be the only restaurant. 

“We lived our greatest life growing up in this tiny town of Cherry, Illinois.  I rode my bike in the middle of the road before cars were a heavy burden to bicycle and foot traffic. We played knock- knock ditch and never thought some yahoo was going to shoot me from their doorway as I scampered away.  The only fear my friends and I had, was not being home by supper.  If I heard my mom yelling for me I was already late.

So when my kids grew up in this same town of 1,200, we didn’t worry.  It was as if time stood still here.    And of course it was my turn to scare the heck out of my kids about the wind chimes ringing and if they were caught outside, and well if they heard the sounds traveling down the block it may be too late.  The creatures were on already on their way.  

And why worry?  These woods didn’t seem magical.  The homes weren’t built on some sacred lands.  We were living in the miracle of 1959 and we had so much going on!  The music died when Buddy Holly plane crashed.  There was a new space exploration called NASA with the Mercury 7 men!  Elvis Presley was almost a year into the Army.  What made those fields and hills different toady?”   

“I’ll tell you what makes these woods different!”  A voice bellowed out from behind me.  Some old man was standing over my shoulder reading what he was writing.

“Do tell me,” I said while turning around from my pen and pad.  There was an older man hovering over me.  He was tall and lanky, scruff on his face and big blue eyes.  He had stood over me reading what George was writing.

 “You’re that writer, from The Chicago American… George Eddy Jr.?”

“Yes that’s me.  Been writing my special column for about 10 years now, Mr.?

“Don’t mind my name.  I know my name.  You know my name.” he leaned into George with a scowl.  His finger pointed directly at me.

“I’m sorry, I truly don’t” I replied.

“Shut up!  You listen.  There was a mine over there in the grassy hills and surrounding plains on North Main Street.   Big companies from Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad sank their mining shafts deep into the earth after the St. Paul Railroad Company built spur tracks near the Town of Cherry.  The coal was like a gold rush.  Three million tons of coal was moved.  About a dollar and a nickel for 5 tons a day of that Black Death.  That kind of pettily money to pay for at least 2 miners, ha!  Over a 1,000 people came to work those mines.  Mostly immigrants as from Italy and Slovenians, but other men, Scots, Frenchman, Greeks, Austrians, and Welsh, who barely spoke English, but had strong backs and no fear going three levels, 165 feet, below the earth.  Their families built this town.  Not that damn James Cherry the owner of the St. Paul Coal Mines.  He just oversaw the greed to satisfy the lust for money from the corporates of St. Paul Railway.  Men, and even children, were working side by side, day and night in a death trap.  The bastards who ran this plant didn’t have sufficient fire suppression.  They lowered bales of hay down our ventilation shaft, which caught fire from the torches on the second level. That hay was to feed the mules down there.  The hay caught fire on a torch because them cheap bastards didn’t put electric lights down there.  The men thought they could contain the fire but in the end it was fruitless.  The escape plan from the 3rd vein, to the second vein, was flawed and them boys were cut off by the heavy smoke because they weren’t sufficiently warned a fire was happening.  An hour, a whole hour went by.  When them men on the 3rd level knew what was happening it was too late.  There was no cage coming down to save them.  Those mules had died.  In a panic they tried to scale the ladders out the emergency side but not many made it out.  Two hundred and fifty nine men and boys either burned to death or died from the heavy smoke inhalation.  Twenty-one men barricaded themselves down deep in the 3rd level.  They used rock and dirt to keep out the Black Damp that would have surely taken their lives.  They drank seepage water that was coming out of the rocks and had no food for 8 damn days.  Eight days, those Miracle Men survived, while 12 other men rode that death cage down that hole like God dang hero’s.  They were saviors to so many families."

Captain Imperfecto mugging for a selfie after more training.  September 30, 2019

© copyright 2019 Captain Imperfecto, LLC. All rights reserved.  


Death Had a Field Day, a Halloween Horror Story part 3

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Blake, Christopher and Nico all watching a movie. Sort of. July 28, 2019

Them chimes are warning bells they set up on the trees branches.  If the ground swayed, those trees swayed and then the wind chimes went off in unison.  That told the foremen to get those poor bastards out the hole before a great collapse!  You never heard the story because the town owner, Cherry, had self-preservation of his name to care about.  He couldn’t handle the namesake town, Cherry to be associated with such mass death.  Just like any government, he bought the silence of the residents.  Moved others families far, far away from here.  But them dead men, found their energy down below the earths crust.   They are alive I tell you.  The chimes say when they get restless and the chimes play a tune of sure death to the remaining residents.” 

The story he told was breath taking.  He was so enthralled he forgot to write what he was being told.  This story went against everything he was told about the wind chimes.  There was never a peep from his family about a tragedy where two hundred and fifty nine men and children perished in a mine fire.

“Why haven’t I ever heard of this story?  I only knew of the legendary wind chimes.  I was told this land was rich in coal.  I didn’t understand why we didn’t mine the fields so the town could thrive.  But the wind chimes on fields already being use to mine coal?  People dying, wind chimes unearthing the dead!  This is an incredible addition to the story and adds to the stories accuracy.  Why did you come back here? Why are you telling me now?”

“Because I want to tell you that I knew your dad.  I didn’t take a dime of my dad’s money!  I figure if I tell a descendant of the mines they’ll leave me alone.  I already lived a life of hell above ground.  I don’t want to be in mine purgatory in death!  Please, please, tell me you forgive me.”

“You knew my father?  I don’t understand.  Look, I’m interested to hear your story.  I’m assuming you’re related to the Cherry’s, you must be, Clyde.  His son.  Please, grab that chair, and sit next to me.” 

“I’ve been told what to do the last 50 years so don’t mind if I stand.  I guess my father couldn’t muster up the strength to kill his son.  But he killed his wife and blamed it on me.  He buried me in the basement of our mansion until he institutionalized me.  I was recently released from the hospital after all these decades.  They said I’m no longer a crazy man.  My father put me in those mines to teach me hard work and my mother went along with him!  She didn’t protect me so I was convinced that I killed her!  Gave her Dampdeath while she slept!  I was told my mental facilities were gone.  My father couldn’t bear to have my name in the papers.  He used his big money and bought my way into the crazy house after the controversy left the papers. 

“Why are you out now?”

I did my time.  Played the game.  But what do the companies and paid off families care now that I speak out.  They are all dead or long gone.  I’m just some old fart who was tortured and broken down and convinced to be crazy so that no one would believe me.  It worked, I have no substance in my tales.” 

“ You obviously you sought me out to tell me your story.  I’m here, and I’m willing to listen.”

“For what?  So you can get all the credit and get rich off my name?  You greedy son of a bitch, you’re just like the rest of them.  I came to apologize and I want you to accept it.  Accept it!”

His hands were gripped on the rear of the table chair.  He lifted it up and slammed it on the floor.”

“I can’t accept an apology from a man who I don’t know what he is apologizing for.: 

Angrily Clyde yelled out, “Piss off!”

The old man nearly tripped out the door he moved so fast.  He was spooked and out of control.  His silhouette disappeared from the glass window on this sunny, crisp day.  But the dark secret of my town has been exposed.  How was that they could keep the story so tightly wrapped for decades?  The wind chimes were a horror story.  Folklore built up over generations. But it seems to be one big tragic event.


After fleeing from George earlier in the day at the restaurant.  Clyde wandered around town aimlessly for several hours.  He finally found his way to the north end of the town.   Near him there were industrial warehouses that were closed for the night.

The wind gusts pushed along the loose paper that was left a stray by the carelessness of people who didn’t think well enough of the environment to dispose of it in the proper way.  The old man trucked right through the swirling paper and other debris, all the while he looked for a place he could hole up for the night.  He was cold and destitute.  Eight hundred dollars was his life savings and he wasn’t planning on spending it right away.  His only purchase to date was some cheap liquor and a pack of lumberjack smokes. The chill in the air became colder and the temperatures seem to drop with each passing minute.  The old man wrapped his arms around his infirm body.  His clothing barely kept him warm from the bone chilling wind.  The building lights illuminated the area which was too much light for him.  He sought more seclusion of the outside elements and the prying eyes of law enforcement.  The chill of the constant breeze sent shivers down his spine.  He could no longer handle the cold. 

Thankfully in the knick of time he found a deep doorway that met his wish list for the night.  Once in his secluded spot he pushed his wary body up against the wall and slid down.  The 3 walls provided much needed relief from the wind.  Before being committed into Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium, Clyde was part of his family coal mining business.  The Cherry family opened up in 1904 when his father’s company, St. Paul Coal Company, decided to sink 100’s of thousands of dollars into coal rich lands.  Even at the sanitarium his sleeping conditions were better.

Before he settled in he noticed a newspaper stand with local periodicals and saw the word, “FREE.”   He reluctantly got back up.  When he stepped from the breezeway, the wind was strong and a whooshing sound could be heard whisking around the fixed objects in the pathway.  He opens the steal door for the free paper and grabbed a hand full of them to shoved pages of the paper into his clothes.  Down the sleeves, under his shirt and chest area and inside his pant legs.  The paper would be used as insulation from the night’s frigid air.    

“ahhh,” he groaned while settling in.  He reached in his pocket and grabbed a cigarette from the lumberjack box. And after a few strokes of the lighter and burying his head in the corner he got the cigarette to light.

After a few puffs from his smokes he heard a noise.  Not quite sure of what he heard he cocked his head to the right, straining to hear the noise.  There it went again.  Still unable to make out the sound has leaned from his spot of the doorway and put his head in the path of the wind.  

A crackle from a power line sparking against a tall and very old pine tree that was directly across the street from where he took up shelter.  He leaned back inside the doorway and quickly took another drag of his smoke.  He looked down at his cigarette pack and flipped the top portion of the box open and closed.

There went the noise again.  The sound was like a door creaking open then back closed and repeated itself.   

The old man looked forward.  He then leaned to his right again exposing his head back out to the main sidewalk.  The wind was rushing faster.  The whisking sound drowned out the surrounding sounds.  He cupped his ear to shield the force of the wind.  The creaking sound moaned loader.  The wind got faster.  The debris pushed along harder.  The streets were empty.  The streetlights flickered as they swayed along with the wind.  Something grabbed his attention and he turned his head to the rear.  He was struck in the face.  Afraid for his life he grabbed whatever it was and threw it against the far wall while screaming loudly! 

He dug his feet into the concrete and pushed his body against the wall with such force that the bricks were imprinting into his flesh through the shirt that was stuffed with newspaper.  

 He screamed, “no, no!”  

While he leaned into the corner the object that struck him crowed.  It was a black bird that was caught in the wind, which his face happened to stop the bird’s forward momentum.   The bird died. 

“That’s what happens when you don’t seek shelter.  Dumb bird.”

Clyde’s eyes began to get droopy.  His lit cigarette encroached on his fingers while he rested his wrist on top of his left bent knee.  He was so tired.  Wind chimes began to echo and intrude in his ears, which drowned out the wind.  Clyde’s eyes closed.  He dreamt of laying in his bed when he was 19.  The wind chimes got louder.  A voice bellowed.  “We killed your mom.”

“Ahh,” he screamed.  He shook his left hand.  It was burnt by the tip of the cigarette. 

“Damn it,” he announced.  The wind chimes still sounding he grabbed another cigarette stick and placed it in his mouth.  He tried to light it again but the lighter would not cooperate.  The small area where he took up refuge illuminated brightly.  Before him was an index finger.  The tip was lit and a 2 inch flame rose above the fingertip.  Clyde leaned in and lit his cigarette.  His shaking body was not due to the cold.

“He didn’t take your apology, Clyde.”

“Yea, well, I need more time.”

A man stood before him.  He was average size.  His clothes were black.  His jacket was black.  The helmet was stained black.  The light affixed to the front of his helmet was semi lit.  There was a large crack down the center of his helmet.  His face had soot on it but it didn’t hide his mustache that grew down from his upper lip to below his lower lip.  His hands were hideously burned.  His skin tattooed with withered burnt skin.  3rd and 4th degree burns exposed bone in his face and holes in his clothes exposed the trauma his body received after being burned alive. The smell of burning flesh accompanied him along with many of the men and boys that stood beside him who also perished in the fire.  

“There is no more time, Clyde,” the dead miner said with a heavy Welsh accent.

“This can’t be my time yet.  Don’t make me the first to die.”

“You’re always thinking about yourself.  We were the first to die due your family’s greed.  Did you and your family and their corrupt friends, actually think that they’d have to wait until death to answer for their sins and corruption?  There are higher powers at work in this universe.  Their atrocities will not go a lifetime unanswered.  We gave you the opportunity to seek forgiveness from a survivor’s family member.  You didn’t receive that and alas, no more chances,” he leaned into his ear and whispered, “Clyde.”   “Time for you to come with us in the slag pile.”

Captain Imperfecto, writing for a living. September 23, 2019

© copyright 2019 Captain Imperfecto, LLC. All rights reserved.