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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Let it be

18th May 2012
Dear Cassi,

The other day I came across and old black and white photograph of two people and a baby. They were sitting alongside a house in the middle of what looks like a farm. The couple was alien to me on first glance and I do not believe that I have seen this image before but after some thinking I believe the man to be Grandpa Leland and the woman Grandma Ann.
This would make the boy Alan the man who donated half my genetic material. I’m told that mother and Leland got on well, but that Leland had some bad times with his wife Ann. My paternal grandparents spent the last decade of Leland’s life having nothing to do with one another.

Back then people would shy about divorce. Ann had told me that in her day once you left home you never came back. Further, that her own father had seen the trouble her married life had come to and offered to let her come back home. This was a grand gesture that never came to pass.
I have never heard Leland’s side of this as he died when I was rather young. He was given some respect in death, more than Alan showed my mother, in that he was forgotten and rarely spoken of. Ann did speak ill of him but never when into specifics. She said he was a hard man to live with, but what she meant by it escapes me.
Still, let’s give credit where credit is due, Ann was a hard person to live with as far as I can tell. She told me that once they made a recording of her screaming at her children and played it back for her benefit. It was a badge of shame she still carries. There was enough love left for that old man for me to bear his name within my own.

When we speak ill of the dead we often speak ill of ourselves. This is not a rule but a bit to ponder over. The living can always try to make amends, but the dead are no so capable. The anger we hold for them is a cancer within yourself.

Leave the dead in the ground, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Moo, the Cow Cat

5th December 2011
Dear Cassi,

I do not recall if I have spoken to you of my favorite part of my trips to Yorba Linda. On this occasion I had been invited to a holiday dinner and having not seen the eaters for more than a month I grew lonesome for the company of their family cats. This home keeps a number of cats of which four are my normal companions. Their three dogs are likewise happy to afford my company. 

In this lot there is an animal called a Twist by cat fanciers, and she is black and white, large in body, social to the visiting folk, and vial to her fellow felines. Adorned with a cow bell round her neck and having a large belly that hangs down she does her name proud. They call her Moo the Cow Cat.
On arriving I took the mini-cow into my arms as I always do, but her claws sank deeper than normal into my skin. I reached round her to loosen her grip, and for the first time in my recollection she hissed at me.
I detached the ornery feline and put her down to have her drop down on her back and put a leg up to expos her belly. Apology accepted I gave her tummy a rub.       

Cats can be funny things, and I think this one took a moment to remember who I was, or perhaps she was just startled. I believe few are willing to lift the large cat. She is hard on clothing with her claws and being black and white she gets fur on everything.
I can forgive all of Moo’s short comings, because she knows how to apologize. Who could stay mad at a cat to begin with?

Stay safe, Cassi.

Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Marry Un-birthday

4th December 2011
Dear Cassi,

So here it is, the anniversary of my birth, and I spend it as I would any other day my washing machine isn’t working. With the down beat of dirty clothes I recall the worst birthday I ever had.
I do believe this happened back in two thousand six. It would be the last time I requested a birthday celebration. I had called one of the Yorba Linda crowd and informed them of the occasion. He invited me down for a day of video games, and that is as far as the event went. Truly, half rump is the tone of all their workings in that neck of the woods.
I came home from work that day and slept shortly then rose and drove down to an apartment where a Local Area Network had been setup. We played some variant of War Craft where no bass was built. When it was over I went home showered and returned to work. That was all, I later learned that only two, myself included, of the six or seven of us knew the occasion.
At work that night the real festivities begun and sleep deprivation set in. I began to hallucinate, seeing movement where there was none, and looking every which way in the grip of some irrational paranoia. I remember that I couldn’t sit down as sitting would bring on sleep so I stood. My feet grew sore and swollen from having spent too long in boots over the passing weeks and the cold cut into me through my work clothes.
I had never before or since felt so strongly the elements than on that day, and I have never again made plans for a birthday celebration. They have never turned out well but that one was the worst.

Marry un-birthday to you, Cassi.

Richard Leland Neal

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Return to the Night Shift

1st December 2011
Dear Cassi,

Returning to the night shift has been easier than I thought. I thought I would have to spend my shift standing up to get through the night. In truth the night shift was like an old friend I was coming back to not at all the wrestling match it had been. 
Part of it is the patrols. I think I pull two miles of walking every night and at least eight trips up the stairwells. I’m so out of shape that I can feel it in my heart when I take long walks. The heart has so much to do with the head that getting me up and moving about helps keep me awake.
I’ve worked at places where it breaks you down after a few months, but I don’t think there is enough walking on this post to do much to me physically.
The energy drinks are a part of my life but only on Mondays for the most part. That’s the one thing I have trouble with, because I can’t get to sleep during the day on the weekends. I’ve no idea why that would be, given that this way I only sleep six times a week. Then if you think about it I’m getting eight hours on the competition.
Another thing I do to stay up is chew gum. The action of chewing keeps me up. That doesn’t help a huge amount, just takes the edge off, still taking the edge off is enough.
Overall, I’m glad that I’m back on nights, but I’m happier that I’m back working. My unemployment came out to sixty percent of my old pay but is less than forty of my new pay and with the bills finally coming in I need stability.

Bundle up and keep warm,

Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Crying Child

Sent this letter to one of my professors two years ago and it is both uplifting and heart breaking.  
25th November of 2010

Hay Doc,

It's thanksgiving and I'm stuck at home, but it gives me time to shoot off and email I've been meaning to send. I thought you might get a kick out of knowing that I sent my essay to a friend of mine who had some trouble in the love department. By trouble I mean her husband ran off with every dime she had then she had to sue him to end the marriage. After that she got beaten by her boyfriend and so on. Sad how afoul follows you in life.

So I sent her my essay one and she got a sense of satisfaction out of it. She kept asking herself why she didn't leave either of those two men sooner and my essay gave her and answer. It's not the best answer that our studies this semester can give, but like a firefly in the darkness it gave her a friendly light.

I don't suppose you'd know how much the small things can mean to those of us who live our lives in the nether of the human experience. Well, let me tell you a story. When I was seventeen I was over at a friend's house when I heard a baby crying. As an act of instinct I picked up the child. He wasn't yet three days old but he had a set of lungs on him. I couldn't feel anything in the diaper so he hadn't soiled himself. It didn't appear as though he was hungry. Can't tell you how I knew that, but I did.

I stroked the boy's cheek with my index finger and blew air in his face only to have him stop crying for a moment then go on again. Rose, it was her house and I was a friend of her son, came in and said “you'll make a wonderful father some day.”

“I don't think so,” I told her. “I can't get him to stop crying.”

“No one can, Richard,” Rose told me. “That baby was born addicted to cocaine.”

Thing is that the essay to my friend is like my breath to the baby. It may have given her no more than a moment of peace in the deluge of suffering that is her life, but a moment can mean a lot. That's kind of the difficulty of clinical Psychology, it is impossible to take the patient out of the toxic environment, one can only aid them in finding peace within themselves.

I didn't want to mention this before you graded the paper so it wouldn't look like I was trying to get a better grade, but I felt you'd like to know.

Happy thanksgiving

Richard Leland Neal

Saturday, November 3, 2012


2nd November 2012
Dear folks at the Kevin and Bean show

This morning you talked about those of us who are asocial. I happen to be one of those folks with few friends and most of a very virtual nature so that if I decided to go out this weekend I’d likely do it alone. I can tell you that for me it started with child abuse. As a result of this I have always been depressed and untrusting of others.

I did have a small group of friends up until two thousand and nine, but I had a falling out with one of them who after nineteen years of friendship felt that it was too much to ask to get my name right. This led to him convincing most of our mutual friends to stop talking to me or lie to me. Now the folks I once spent most of my free time with have turned their back on me or are people I can’t trust.

Now I spend most of my free time alone, and I’m cool with that because only boring people get board.

Richard from Whittier

Friday, November 2, 2012

New Computer

16th May 2012
Dear Cassi,
It was on the 25th of April that I took home a new desktop computer. It had been a long time coming and the old unit was feeling its years. Still, I had wanted a rebuild rather than a full new unit but that’s what I have now.
A point that came up is that my computer was very large and still the new body is larger. This led to a frustrating fight to get the new unit into the old desk. It took me more than a week and at least a few hundred dollars with cords and equipment. Now the new unit stand and the desk with a vintage IBM body sitting under the second monitor. The first and large flat screen is suspended on an arm over the desk. One of my laptops sits and another arm to my right so that I have three screens running at once when I need them.
This is a rig for doing all the things I dream of, little sister, it’s the morning of a holiday when the air is clear and the birds are singing. This is possibility and dexterity in a black mesh frame.
However, I’ll most likely use it to play video games and watch movies. Well, I will get thousands of hours of fun out of it and that counts.

Reach for your potential, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, November 1, 2012


15th May 2012
Dear Cassi,
In that nature of my car problems I found an anger that wanted destruction. With this I turned to the boxes of paper records that have long plagued me and that have sat for as long as fifteen years. I turned to the paper shredder to disposed of this and found satisfaction in watching the pages turn to confetti in the teeth of the black and cream beast.
Some hours into my labor the shredder could take no more and jammed to tell me it was done working for the day. I turned to fire seeing that I was not a tenth of the way completed in my task.
I found a greater satisfaction in the burning embers of my mistakes in life and kept at this with three full boxes of paper that the fire choked on as hit burnt a history of no importance. Smoke stung in my eyes but somehow I loved the destruction of that old nature and new that with the smoke clear I could look ahead.
It was during this labor that I was called on by Falstaff’s father who was to go with me to have my car looked at and he was stunned by this action thinking in the fire there was some anger from me to his son for the damage to my vehicle.
I was angry and I found something productive to do with that anger. If all the anger we feel could be put to good use would this not be a better world?

Always find your light, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pay and Pay

14th May 2012
Dear Cassi,

I told you about my neighbor’s son hitting my car yesterday. Today I got the estimate and it isn’t pretty. It was the kind of not pretty that made my neighbor think he should report the problem to his insurance. I think I found someone selling the part for a hundred dollars so if I have I’ll just order it and have him give me the money.
It looked much worse than it was in the morning with the blur of sleep still in my eyes and no coffee to start my day. I didn’t want to look at, drive, or even think about the car at first. Pickles made comments about it after telling me and I asked him to let the subject drop for the morning.
There was nothing I could do about the whole thing so I figured it was best to put it out of my mind. Falstaff came over and apologized for his transgression and it was the first time we had a conversation in the last ten years.
It reminded me that we were good friends ones and I still have no true idea as to why that changed. I would have to say that we drifted apart, but truth be told I think we were just too different to hang out together.
There was a time in his life that he just kind of got lost and shut himself in and he never talked about why. His father gave me bits and pieces of the story here and their but Falstaff has just drifted through the last few years of his life with no idea what to do with himself. It’s said because he is a rather intelligent fellow and could do so much more.

Keep a sure heading, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Sorry Falstaff

13th May 2012
Dear Cassi,

The wound I opened nearly a month ago was far from ready to be worked. The memories I have wakened sent me into a deep depression and even now I fight to clear the feeling from my head. I’ve been in a stupor for some time now but then I’ve always been in a stupor. I’ve spent most of my life in some kind of sleep and now I’m just fighting to wake up.
What jogged me today was the information that my neighbor’s son had hit my car when backing out with his father’s truck. This is the fellow I called Falstaff and he is very much a man. By this I mean that he makes me look small even with the more than three hundred pounds of bulk.

None the less my car has a cracked fender and the alignment is off. The thing fells like it can’t take the road well. I think what happened is that the fender cracked and the car was pushed into the curb.

To say that I’m angry is a understatement of some degree. My car wouldn’t have been in the street had it not been for Falstaff’s father asking me to park their so he could do something to my house trim.

Oh, yes, as another point I had to have my skylight and other wood bits of the outer areas of my home painted or I would have lost my insurance coverage. It’s been a difficult few weeks for me with that and school and now this business.

Sometimes I wonder how much more I can take

Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


19th April 2012

Dear Cassi,

Another point that has sat with me when I read over the letter detailing my last conversation with Turtle Nose is my omission of the statement ‘I want you to be a part of my life’ which came directly before ‘isn’t there something I can do to make it up to you?’
I believe the word is ‘bromantic’ as romance is something one does with the person of the opposite sex that they love bromance is something one does with his bros as an expression of deep friendship.
However, I see no friendship in his remark. For one, his refusal to call me by my name was more than just a joke. This was his way of denying who I am and inserting his character in my place. Turtle Nose wanted his imaginary friend back.
How can we tell that it is not me he wished to have in his life? Well, he made it impossible for me to be a part of his life. Think about all those folks who believed his lies and now lay hatred upon my head. In short, they hate me for being offended. Offence is an emotion so they hate me for having emotion. If I am to be hated for my human frailties then to please these folks I would have to be inhuman.
I will grant that this is natural for Turtle Nose’s state of being. You will recall that he hated dogs for being dogs and cats for being cats. Thus, he was offended by my humanity as he was also offended by yours.
He wanted me to be a part of his life at the expense of my own. The smallest thing I asked for was too much for him to tolerate, but he would ask for my life as if I could rise from the dead. I could give nothing to a man so greedy and the more that is given the more he will want.

Live free, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Scar to Open

18th April 2012

Dear Cassi,

Well, I have a scar to open and a bit of business to get out of my guts. Emotional scars are just like real ones in that regard. They can leave things in you that will keep you sick for years if you fail to get the whole bit out.
You will recall that it was at a very dark moment in my life that I last talked to Turtle Nose. I was soon to lose my job but had worked my last day with the company. My world was collapsing in on itself and hearing from that fellow was the last thing I wanted to happen to me.
Well, depression kept me from writing an accurate letter. The account was just too jarring for me to finish. There is a good amount of shame in my chest for those actions and even now recalling them is not easy.
You may remember that it was more than a month after the fact when I wrote you of what had happened. The one thing I left out that I had to say was that my last words to Turtle Nose were “Do you really think you can lie to me after all these years?” I know I’ve forgotten something he said in there somewhere but I recall that one question that I had omitted from my letter on the subject.
The pain that comes to me is that I knew he was a liar and never called him on it until then. Here was a thing that put so little value on our friendship that he would not get my name right. He expected me to put up with every bit of crap he sent my way and he thought that I believed his bull all this time.
I’m disappointed in myself, Cassi, disappointed that I let this business go on for so long and disappointed that I called so poor a quality of folks my friends who would walk away from me so easily.

Cast out the lies, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Talking to the Devil

Okay, so this was one of the darkest times in my life, and my life is made of bits of darkness.
1st of April 2011
Dear Cassi,

It comes to me that I’m telling you the events of January and here it has become April as if I let time get away from me, and here I stand trying to catch up with it. Much like the detritus in my life I’ve got garbage running round in my head.
One of the most important events of this year was your ex-husband calling me. It’s a point impossible to ignore in my life because it’s so telling. By the texts on my cell phone I can tell that it was on the 12th of January that he called some time after eight in the evening. It was a dark time for me. I was at this moment fighting to get a post I could work from Allied, a fight I knew to be futile, and the bleakness of my life had risen around me like walls. Soon those walls would fall and consume me, but that is not the subject of today.
I remember looking at my cell phone and seeing a number I didn’t recognize. I answered and I could recognize your ex-husband by his voice.
“Rick? I’m sorry. Richard” he said and the fact that he had used my real name stunned me. His abuse of my name had been at the center of his lies. He had constructed a falls person, this “Rick” and Rick had been a man I didn’t recognize.
“Do you have a minute?” he asked and this through me even further off my guard. “You stopped talking to me, and if I couldn’t talk to you-“

As if I hadn’t told him my feelings on his behavior a thousand times. Our friend ship had degenerated into nothing but arguments.
“I told you to call and leave a message” I said getting cut off.
“I called you three times and I didn’t realize anything was wrong until I told you my grandmother had died,” he said, and what a statement. He didn’t know something was wrong when his closest friend didn’t speak to him for three weeks. His text about his Grandmother’s death had implied that he would be in further contact. The fact that he had not contacted me after this led me to believe that he used her death as a way to get at me.
“Then Mr. Hill told me that it was about me calling you Rick and I know I did that a lot, but I knew it was more than that. Isn’t there something I could do to make it up to you?”

“It” He was refusing to say what he had done in the hope that I had failed to understand the scope of his deceptions. I told him “Nothing comes to mind.”

“I want you to be happy. It’s not my fault,” he said repeating a lie I heard before, “I’m impulsive. I didn’t have a plan.” So now I know he had a plan. Why would he deny without accusation? All this time he had thought that I would come round, but there was no hope of that. How could I have forgiven his transgressions? What could he do now that I couldn’t lay trust on him even in the smallest degree?

“My life was hellish with you in it,” I said only saying what I was thinking. I expected nothing as reply to this.

“I didn’t want your life to be hellish.”

“Yes, you did,” I growled.

“I’m going to go now,” he said putting on an act hoping for sympathy. “If you change your mind you have my number.” Little does he know that I deleted the contact.

That was a door that closed some time ago and it feels as if it was a lifetime away. This conversation was no more than a fragment of a ghost caught in the night mist.

It would appear that I broke the one page limit some time ago. It couldn’t be helped. As I look over my words I find that there are things missing but it is now too much to recall it all.

What will become of things?

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, September 10, 2012

Something for We

17th April 2012
Dear Cassi,

Yesterday I took my first of four assertion classes. I see little use in these classes as they do nothing for my social situations, but as they double as an assignment for grad school I may as well finish this program then move on to another.
The overall idea of this class is that appropriate human behavior exists as moderation between two extremes. That is to say that the assertive person is midway between a passive and an aggressive person. This is to say that a passive person accepts whatever happened and an aggressive person meets with resistance. This assumes that you are dealing with reasonable people and that simply has never been my situation.
The first major point from this class on Monday was that a person should do something for themselves every day. As if we all have the time for that, honestly, something for yourself often is more appropriate. For those who do have time cooking, watching TV, playing video games, going to the Gym are all acceptable options. As for me, I play with the dog, write, and draw comics.
Point two of the Monday session was what do you do that you do so well. For me this was cooking and my work at the homeless shelter. I’d say that I do both of these things very well. Both of these things are point of pride for me.
So, Cassi, what do you do well, and what do you do for yourself? I imagine you haven’t much time for yourself, but in this life we often must make do.

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I, Techno

16th April 2012
Dear Cassi,

As the memory of my Cyborg stories sparked in my mind a question came to me: what is a Cyborg? The short answer is a life form enchased with technology to function better than its natural design. Under this definition all humans are Cyborgs. You see we use language and that is technology. Moreover, pens and written, rods, or anything not holy provided by nature would make a life form a Cyborg.
That includes the roads we drive on and the tools we build. Society is Cybernetic. The bird and the ants are to natural Cyborgs.
This is not the definition I thought of when I wrote about them. I further read that there is the idea of feedback. Only a device with direct feedback to the nervous system would define something as a Cyborg so some thinkers on the word. Now I’m just confused.
This thinking gave life to the idea of the Lobster Type Cyborg which is a suit or set of armor that one can put on. This linking directly with the mined would create a very effective working system with a human at control.
However, the Cyborgs of the story were as cursed by their condition as they were helped. They could not simply takeoff their augmentations. Thus the creatures I speak of are life forms repaired by technology.
I guess what I mean when I say Cyborg and the definition for the story I told you about will be a living being permanently augmented with technology as artificial parts directly connected to the Nervous system.

Stay real, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Funny Old Car

15Th April 2012
Dear Cassi,

One of the funny things that comes to mind when I think of days gone past is the old silver car that Alan had when he would come over for his visitation rights. I have no recollection of the make. I remember that it had a burgundy interior and that the radio had been replaced not because Alan wanted one but because the lat owner thought it kept the resale up.
I think the radio was always silent when we were in the car. It may not have worked. I knew it had been replaced because holes had been roughly punched to fit the knobs into the dashboard. When you first looked at it you thought the damage near the radio was from old age but after a few thoughts you knew it was intentional.
One of the odd points of this car was that he kept a white candle in the back. It was a wagon and the candle was there to be seen looking rather phallic after melting a bit in the sun. I have no recollection of anything to light the candle. Thus if it was meant to be light on a dim roadway I think it would have failed.
I recall sitting in back as we drove down the roadway and watching the glass of the windows dance. I told the old man that he needed new shocks, how I knew what shocks were at six I do not know, and him saying “it had new shocks.” Then he would look at me with this smile that dripped of some evil I never identified and say, “when it was new.”
Still, the prize of this by far was his air conditioning which was a joke to all but him. He would take a gallon jug and fill it at the hose then pour it over the car. This was too little to do any good, but the idea is sound.
Over my lifetime I have always thought of the fairytale lies as being nice bits that we are not meant to believe. This would include the Easter Bunny, the Tooth fairy, and the old man’s air conditioning.

Let the truth keep you strong, little sister

Richard Leland Neal