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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Night-Night, Doc

Twenty-one years ago I had about a thousand dollars to my name and I wanted a motorcycle. How I ended up with a parrot is anybody's guess, but in hindsight it was probably a better idea. I'm clumsy and I don't always think through my decisions. Come to think of it, buying a parrot might not have been a wise choice for a twenty-one year old kid either, but I like animals better than I do people. Still, it's a long term commitment. Any pet is a commitment, but parrots live...like forever. At least that's what I thought.

I worked in a pet store back then. A single guy with no real aspirations except to get my next paycheck so I could make rent, my main job was taking care of marine fish and birds. When the motorcycle deal fell through, I decided I wanted a bird of my own. I already had a cockatiel and we were chums, so what trouble could one more be? Lots as it turned out. The second bird  turned out to be my oldest friend, and the longest relationship I've had in my life outside of immediate family.

He was five weeks old when I brought him home and looked like an alien with his big head, stubby beak and bare, scrawny body. Just a few pin feathers. I had to feed him through a syringe around the clock, like real parenting. It took me a week before I even decided on a name. At first he was going to be Zoinks after the popular Scooby Doo expletive, but no one seemed to like that. Then, I decided on my favorite Muppet character... Well, Beaker was too obvious so I went with his counterpart, Doctor Bunsen Honeydew or "Doc" for short. Years later, my youngest child said when I explained the bird's name in reference to the Muppet, "He's just so smart he can see with his ears." A truer statement has never been spoken.

Beaker^^^                                            and Doctor Bunsen Honeydew^^^^

Doc fit and we were like Sonny and Cher or Turner and Hooch or some guy and a parrot. I was that guy. He became part of me and my personality. People I haven't seen in a decade or more still ask me about him, sometimes it's the only thing they're interested in and that's fine.

He went everywhere with me. In fact, some of my last happy memories of my mother (before she passed away in 1996) involve laying on the floor of mom and dad's living room with a sheet spread out and playing with her "grand bird".

:)
He talked a lot. Every time I opened my college refrigerator, the bird said, "Want some beer?" I don't know how they come up with this stuff. But that's how we started our long friendship. I knew him before I knew my wife, before I met my kids, before I joined the navy...before I grew up (which is still debatable).

Doc and I moved from an apartment in Wilmington, NC to a house in Boiling Spring Lakes, NC with Stephanie and there, the three of us got married...That is also where I bought him his first big-boy cage. It's still his home today. Back then, I gave the store my credit card, stuffed the cage into the backseat of my Dodge Neon, tying the door shut on the drive home because the cage was so big the car door wouldn't close, and drove the 35.2 miles back to the house. Doc hated that cage at first. He was resistant to change. Come to think of it, that was when his phrase, "Want some beer?" turned into "No beer, Doc!" courtesy of my wife. It's just as good. He also learned a hundred or so other phrases including beeps and clicks that sounded like microwaves and answering machines, the whistled themes to The Andy Griffith Show and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. A friend of mine taught him to sing "Babaloo" like Ricky Ricardo, and he also mimicked same friend's smoker's cough. My favorite thing he learned, and he did it every night from that point without fail, was to say "Night-night, Doc. Night-night buddy." every single evening when he thought it was time for bed. It was my voice I heard, but he was imitating me, the sincerest form of flattery.

There, we also found out that Doc liked to dance. If you snapped your fingers, he would bob his head and even get his wings into it. Feet moving, head bouncing, real-honest-to-bob-dancing. It wasn't long before we found if you snapped your fingers in time, he would dance to that as well...and before long, his dancing also included his own version of finger snapping... of course he made the noise without fingers, but that's okay. My boy had dancing skills I never possessed. He must've gotten those from his adopted mother.

video


In around 1998, we moved (house and all because trailers are mobile like that) to Bolivia, NC. There, we had our first daughter and Doc became a big brother. We got a dog and he was a big brother twice over but never really got along with the dog. Then there was a cat...bird and cat didn't get along either. Then I joined the Navy and moved with Doc and Wife and daughter to Florida and then California. He even got questioned about his nationality at a border patrol stop--yep, with a straight face, the cop said, "Is your bird a US citizen?"

He was. An African Grey, but born right here in the US of A at the Mississippi Bird Farm. So we went to California, bird and all. There we lived in Chula Vista for a bit and then on to Point Loma for about five years while I sailed around on a tin can.

From there, it was back in the car for a trip across the land to Indiana and here we've lived for the past seven years. Here, he lived happily munching on bananas for breakfast and pizza crust or french fries whenever we had some to share. And every night, he told us "Night-night."

Today at about noon, he died from heart disease and I cried like a three year old at nap time. Birds are tough and due to instinct, they hide their injuries and illnesses so they don't stick out amongst the flock so we didn't even know he was sick until it was too late. I wish he would've let me know. My kids and wife do too. You see, they've never known me without him. My children have never known life without him. I have...and I'll say it was better with the little guy around. I miss him like hell.

The beak of death.
I will always regret putting a regal creature like that in a cage, but if not me, someone else would have, so I'd rather it was me. I will always regret the thirty more years he should've lived but missed out on. I will always regret not knowing he was suffering so I could help him. I will always cherish that weird bond that only people who have had birds will know and understand.

Saying goodbye to a pet is hard... Saying goodbye to one after twenty-one years is awful.

For whatever I might have done wrong, little buddy, I'm sorry. I would like to believe you were as happy as you seemed while you were with us. My only hope now is that you aren't hurting anymore...and that wherever you are--if there is such a place for birds--you are FREE TO FLY, free to dance, and you have an unlimited supply of pizza crust and bananas.

So one last time out loud, but I'll say it in my head for a long time:

Night-night, Doc. Night-night, buddy.


Doctor Bunsen Honeydew  "DOC"  1994-2015








Saturday, February 21, 2015

HEADLESS. A review.



Today, aside from shoveling a foot of snow off the driveway, I was treated to a pre-release screener of the upcoming horror flick, HEADLESS, from Gentleman Monster Productions and Forbidden Films


What’s HEADLESS, you ask? It’s one of those boy-raised-in-a-cage-like-a-dog-and-fed-blood-so-he-grows-up-and-kills-people-and-has-sex-with-their-heads-while-he-fantasizes-about-a-weird-sister-creature-thing stories. Yeah, that old trope. It’s heartwarming really.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Kid Has POTS.

So, my oldest child has POTS. It's not a joke about Colorado, nor is it something from an old Cheech and Chong movie.


NOPE.


Not these either.


I wish it was. It stands for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which when you break it down seems simple:

Postural --depending on her posture.
Orthostatic --related to standing upright.
Tachycardia --relative rapid heart action whether physiological (post exercise) or pathological.
Syndrome -- A disease that encompasses a particular group of symptoms.

In other words, when she stands up, her heart rate might increase 40 bpm.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Coming Soon!--- DIG, a novel by Dan Dillard

Sometimes, you have to write a book about  your hometown...and in that book you have to destroy everything and let it rebuild itself. It's fun. Here's chapter one. The rest of the book will be along shortly. I have to finish the editing first.
Cover is concept only.

CHAPTER ONE
Loretta Gates

The sun was hot by 9:00 am and there was already a thick, soupy quality to the air. Loretta stretched to ease a hitch in her back. Dark patches of sweat grew in the armpits of her brown, PEACE t-shirt and on the waistband of her gray Capri pants. It had begun to run, dripping into places she didn’t like to mention. A woman who never married, who was never loved by anyone but her father, and who never grew close enough to a friend, lover or otherwise to have such discussions. She didn’t even speak of those things with her own doctor if it could be helped.
Loretta Gates worked for thirty years in a textile mill that sat on the west bank of the Cape Fear River and retired at age fifty-six. She had lived in the same hulking, pine-log house outside of the small port town of Smithville, NC since she was born. Her mother passed when she was still in grade school. Her father when she was thirty-five, back in 1977. Since then, she’d lived alone. She was accustomed to it and she liked it that way.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

THE REST OF THE YEAR

Did you ever have a thought so sinister, you just couldn’t share it with people? Not me...

THE REST OF THE YEAR
By Dan Dillard

Rain pitter-pattered on the rooftops of all the houses in the small town of Bloomington, Indiana. The noise might have reminded a person of the light footsteps of a small dog—its toenails in need of a clip—tapping happily across a hardwood floor. The sun had gone down hours before. It was unseasonably warm there in the dark. The trusses groaned underneath the old man’s weight and he paused for a moment before continuing on.  

His reindeer stood stoic and quiet, well-trained over the centuries to do as they were instructed. They were grey with age, but thick with muscles, and covered in scars from many a close call ducking in under cover of night, and escaping the eyes of third shift workers and the naughty children who peek. Jagged antlers poked out from their heads, most of them broken. Not quite the show animals from books and movies.

The crimson sack clutched in his vice-like, black-gloved hand, he dropped down through the large chimney landing in the open fireplace with a thud. He paused, waiting for hushed gasps and whispers, a growling dog, the jingle of a collar or for a light to flicker on somewhere in the home, but none did. All was quiet. Not a creature stirred. A smirk peeled across his bearded chin. One more step, ducking out of the fireplace, and he looked around, his smirk widening into a rotten-toothed smile.

On the wall, there was a panel with glowing buttons. An alarm. Santa pulled off his glove and held his hand up to the box. He concentrated, closing his eyes. After a moment, the state changed from ARMED to SYSTEM IS READY TO ARM.


Nice furniture, expensive tastes. It was a good house he had chosen. He tipped his stocking cap back on his balding head, the little white ball of fluff dangling down between his shoulder blades. A much thinner man than the world envisioned stood in that living room and surveyed the lay of the land. The kitchen was to the left and that was always his first stop.

Friday, December 19, 2014

IBUPROFEN

It has been a while since I've done a flash fiction piece for the blog... So here goes. Keep ahead of the pain, folks. Don't let it control you.


It’s a toothache. Or perhaps the pain is coming from somewhere in my jaw, beneath or between the teeth. Either way it throbs and makes me see shades of orange and red. That whole side of my face feels like it is slowly being inflated, bone pushing against meat pushing against the outer skin, pulling taut until it might snap open and spill onto the floor.

“Daddy, can I have some candy?”

I hear her, but ignore it. I have to because I know if I answer, it will be a snap response, it will be harsh, it will bring tears. I need my medicine before I can speak to her rationally.

“Daddy, can I call my friends? Can Leah spend the night? It’s Friday. You remember on Tuesday when you said we’d talk about it on Friday?”


Throbbing. Aching. Where is the damned ibuprofen? It’s always in this cabinet. Second shelf, white bottle, store brand. Four extra strength pills kill my lower back pain every time. It’ll work on my jaw, won’t it?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Look who's reading my books!


Here are just a few unpaid (and possibly faked) endorsements for my work. Pass it on...I would love to add more pics to this list.




Friday, November 7, 2014

Standing Up For Horror!

Okay, I'm not going to present any revelations here. Or maybe for some folks, I am. I hear this day in and day out from writers...so much so that I've stopped bringing the topic up. I admit, I've actually baited some forums and Facebook page discussions asking the question: Where has all the horror gone?




Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Babadook....Dear, sweet Krampus this flick was creepy.

First a lesson in pronunciation. Little Samuel says it best. Think Yabba-dabba. Or like a sheep. Baaa Baaa dook (like book).

Thanks to the magic of video-on-demand, we in the US don't have to wait until November 28th to watch the magic that is The Babadook. Magic may not be the word. It's genius.
It is so rare that a film lives up to the hype and this one in some ways exceeded the hype, kicked my ass and I'm going to watch it again—soon. I viewed this one with my teenage daughter to get two perspectives. Okay—I have to settle for one perspective because she peeked from behind a fluffy pillow the whole time and ran to bed when it was over, opting to sleep with her little sister.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Excerpt from The Journeyman--coming this Halloween to your eyeballs.



Coming this Halloween (That's four days away, folks!), is my fifth novel:  The Journeyman. 
You can find more details on Amazon.com or on Smashwords. It is available for pre-order at either location. If that isn't enough incentive for you to read about your new favorite serial killer....maybe a sample chapter will help.

Meet Arthur Clay. He lives next door to you. He goes to your church. He shops at the same stores you do. He sees your children getting off the bus at the end of the school day and he watches you. He is always watching. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

BONES

Here's a little something for Halloween. Happy diving.

They picked his bones clean.



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Meet my Main Character!

I have been nominated by film critic, fellow sailor, and author of The Spooky Chronicles and The Matriarch, Kevin A. Ranson,  to join the “Meet My Main Characters” blog tour. Today I will be telling you a little about the protagonist of my latest horror thriller, The Journeyman.