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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


5th November 2012
Dear Cassi,
A point I failed to make in my last letter regarding the kittens is that all four of the poor animals were crawling with filth. Flees dotted their underbellies and little clots of dried blood gave their fur a sandy feel. To top it off one of the kittens, a black and white with a pink nose, had trouble breathing. They tell me he is not long for his world.
I named the kitten with the breathing problem Hyde for doctor Jackal and Mister Hyde. As the poor little fellow struggled for breath he frightened my clients. He cried and I held him making the client say he was just like a baby. I’d like to think that his breath came more easily when I held him but I think it more that he got a drink of milk.
Another of the kittens is a ginger cat that my clients called Garfield. This fellow having long hair and been the dirtiest was taken by a client and washed. I learned from Sister Margaret, our resident nun, that this may have lethal results for the poor cat. I held the cat to my chest until he was dry and he appears none the worse for wear but the seed of worry grows in my mind.

Live every second, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, October 28, 2013


4th November 2012
Dear Cassi,
The events of the day are those kind that are at once wonderful and terrible all at the same time. It was my pleasure to work overtime today and so came in for a three to eleven shift. Knowing that I was in for hard work I made myself ready.
I had come in to work only moments ago and just started my coffee, as is my custom at the start of my shift, when a man came to the front and told me that kittens had been left in the street. I recall that he had a gray beard about him and dirty clothes so I had the impression that he was a street man.
Now, you and I are folk who know good and well that those who have fought the hardest can often be the most forgiving of people. This man of the street had a desperation in his heart that could be read in his eyes to find someone to look after these animals. Why he turned to me is a question I never asked, but he did and all I could say was “let’s have a look”.

He ran across the street trough traffic and took up an orange department store bag that had seen some use and ran back to me. In this bag were four bundles of fur that had seen as many bad times at their ark and so I said I would see to the kittens.
I looked down at those four balls of fluf and could tell by the dry dark spots in the corners of their eyes that they had seen harder days. Thus it came to me that I would need to find them milk in the next six minutes. My first thought was the gas station and so I asked if they sold the nectar of a cow and was told they did indeed carry the product.
The poor homeless man who brought the kittens to me offered to buy it for me out of his own meager funds but I declined. In the end I handed a homeless teen a ten dollar bill and asked her to go to the local market and get me cream and tuna for the cats.
For the next eight hours the cats were a joy to my clients who took them into the lobby and played with the animals. The homeless have more love to give than many normal folks. Even the hard ones, covered in ink and scars, became as children in holding the kittens.
You know I have a chunk of ice in my heart and a sense of duty in my head that gave me no hesitation in looking after these animals. Even with this augmentation there was a part of me touched to see these proceedings.

Guard the tender spots in your heart, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Old Wound New Blood

1st November 2012
Dear Cassi,
A wound I have carried for some years now found new life this week. For once I speak of physical injury, but the origin of this wound is unknown. I think that it has to be a spider bite from some time ago and I have had it for a very long time.
I recall scratching at this wound in 2006 and making it come to life again with pus and inflammation. Then it had stood over my skin by a quarter inch for some days until falling back into a knot of scar tissue.
The other day it itched again and I scratched feeling dead skin come away. I looked down to see an open wound where a scar had once been. This was then sterilized with hand sanitizer and left the scar over. Never being a man to leave well enough alone I milked it of blood every now and then and only once did it give forth infection.
When I bathed the scab came free and left a wound that dried within the hour. I look down on it now to see the inflammation almost gone. Could it be that this would has finally seen to heal? I can only hope.

Hope and heal, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Beast They Call Depression

26th November 2012
Dear Cassi,

What is this beast they call depression that makes so many simple things a trial? Even as I sit here I grapple with this apparition fighting to keep my eyes open and my head up. It feels as if I carry bags of sand with me wherever I go.
Today again I exposed carpet in my bed room and the bottom of the sink in the kitchen. How many times before have I done this, and how many times will I again spend a day of my life to accomplish this small act of civility.
Pickles is content to live among the dirt and insects, but the drain on me has become so hard to labor under. I feel as if I stand against the world even when I know the world looks on in indifference.
I would like to think that this world of clutter and dirt is the product of
some false self, some daemon to expel from my flesh. Then I need ask myself, what are the daemons of the mind? Are they any more than our memories haunting and howling in the nether twixt our ears?       
Daemon is then just a name I have given a part of myself that stands against my well being. As the much in our arteries needs to be worn away and the fat of my gut to be worked off so does this daemon needs righting.

Keep your head clear, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fatty and the Troll

31st October 2012
Dear Cassi,
A realization donned on me today and there is some shame that goes with my revelations. On the way in to work there was traffic because it was Halloween. In that traffic I did something foolish, and that was that I aggravated a man who was already angry and driving recklessly.
As he took the mentality that I had no right to merge into traffic, traffic was at a dead stop, and he would have sped up had he been moving. Again, I had as much right as any, but he didn’t see it that way and pulled ahead of me lurching and nearly hitting my car. He also yelled some insult that I couldn’t hear as he passed.
As the driver behind him was of a nicer sort I came into the lane directly behind him and followed him as a result of going in the same direction. At this moment I hadn’t been thinking, but I had tailgated him to make a point. He changed lanes likely fearing retribution and I pulled up alongside his car.
In the passenger seat there was what I can only describe as a transvestite prostitute. It could have been a transgender and it/she/he could have just liked makeup, but the combination is smoke if not fire. As the man driving had gray hair, and it was younger unrelated looking folks in his car, it looked like a street walker’s run to me.
I rolled down my window and informed his passenger that the fellow had committed vehicular assault and could be arrested. From the driver’s seat he yelled “Fuck you, you fat troll.”
At this I said, “why don’t you get out of your car and say that?”
“As if you could get out of your car,” he said and drove off with the green light.
Now all this gives me satisfaction, know that I made a rotten fellow like that have a bad day. However, the next time I may anger a person with a gun.
As it turns out, the exit I use is always where the traffic ends, and if I drove another mile down I’d bypass all this rot and gotten to work faster.
I see enough trouble to know that I should pass it on by so in the future that’s what I’ll do. I’m told there was a shooting in the night down here. I hate to die over using a freeway exit.

Stay safe, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Saturday, October 19, 2013


23rd November 2012
Dear Cassi,
There is no dawn on the horizon as for the second day in a row Pickles fails to sleep. His paranoia as taken some rational hold over him and he thinks the voices are real.
He showered early today and retired only to wake again and wander the house looking for the voices that haunt him. I made chamomile tea and had him drink it with cream. Two glasses made him ready to try for slumber again but twenty minutes later he was up once more this time fully dressed. It was only moment until he returned to his wandering and looking for the sounds he knew only lived in his head.
This is a time that he should be somewhere safe and with folks who know how to handle these things. Normal people would call family at a time like this, but as that has never been an option for me I’m forced to see this along. Well, we greet the challenges as they come and live as best we can.

Live, little sister, live as best you can,

Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Light on Dark Harbor

24th October 2012
Dear Folks at the Queen Mary,

I would like to thank you for a wonderful time at your dark harbor event this year. I have to say that I was impressed by the mazes and monsters. Your use of mirrors and the quality of darkness were truly disorienting.

On another note, I would like to know why I was not permitted to bring pens into the event. Again, why was my tool keychain also not permitted? I point out that this object had no knife and is shorter than the distance across the palm of my hand.

I happen to be a Security Officer with fifteen years experience. I know how hard it is to find good security people. This is why I will forgive the rudeness of the fellow who informed me that I could not have these items.

I would like to express to you that a security person, I will assume your folks did not have state certification, should be polite but firm. This would me that they should have apologized for the inconvenience, thanked me for complying with the rules, and referred to me as sir.

In addition, he should be fully knowledgeable and present useful information. “I’m sorry, sir, but our policy is that you may not have items of this nature. I do apologize for the inconvenience. You may return to your car to store these items or discard them.”

Finally, had I not purchased a special pass returning these items to my car would have been time consuming. It would only be proper to have offered me a special pass to return to the front of this line. I always have pens on me and my keychain is a common companion. Together these items are worth about thirty dollars. Whereas this is worth an hour wait to me it would have soured my evening.

Trivial offerings will often go a long way to pacify the irate guest. A front of the line pass for one attraction, for those who did not buy them, will cost you very little and keep folks coming back. For those in my situation with a front of the line pass already a coupon for a free soft drink would have more than made up for the inconvenience.

I will grant that you work with capacity crowds as is and have little need to better your event. Still, I attended nothing else from your events and have not decided if I will return next year to Dark Harbor.

Again, I can see that you have no need to step things up, but may I mention that in the whole thirty three years of my life no one has ever suggested before a time at your grand old ship. In no way are you just a hotel or park but a part of the culture of the great state of California. My experience at the Queen Mary was only so-so and it is truly a shame that you are not as wonderful as our ski slopes, mystical as our redwood trees, and well beloved as our beaches.

Make every voyage as worthy as the last

Richard Leland Neal 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cut My Guts

29th October 2012
Dear Cassi,
I have a low opinion of my doctor and I’ll tell you why. He ran my blood work and took my weight, found that I was healthier than him, and then told me that I’m a candidate for gastric bypass surgery.
It so happens that I have a lean body mass of well over two hundred pounds and his analysis is incorrect. In order to be a candidate for gastric bypass surgery the body must be forty percent fat or more. I grant that I’m close to that but not over.
What happened is that he is assuming that I have the lean body mass of a normal person. When we assume we add an ass to U and Me. A normal man of my height should weigh in at no more than one hundred and eighty pounds. If I was that small you could see my bones.
The world is not as munch of numbers no matter how folks wish to make it so. Never in my life have I been a man who could be summed up easily. Clearly, my doctor sees me as numbers and figures, but I still maintain my humanity.

Be true to yourself, little sister

Richard Leland Neal

Friday, October 11, 2013

No Afternoons

27th October 2012
Dear Cassi,
Today I was offered an afternoon shift and I turned it down without a thought. This would be for the same pay but more work. There is so much more going on in the afternoon that it just gives me a headache.
My boss thought I would jump at the chance. I came into the brake room before shift, and he told me that I could have the evening shift if I wanted. I respond in the negative and he said “No, seriously, you can have the evening shift,” but I was uninterested.
I would be expected to take a lunch as opposed to now when I take a lunch at my desk and get paid for the time. This would mean another half hour out of my day.   The on duty meal period has always been more to my liking and I would keep it rather than lose.
If this inconvenience falls flat I can also point out that traffic his bad in the day hours and it would take me twice as long to get to work each day. The night shift with its tranquility and freedom is what I have worked for the past fifteen years. To me the night is an old friend and I am pained to part ways.
I think they would have liked to have me on the evening
shift because of how well I work. As for me, I would like to get better pay because of how well I work. As one is independent of the other I see little reason to look after my boss’s wishes.

Find what works, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, October 10, 2013

News: ObamaCare

The government shut down over the affordable healthcare act (Obamacare), but the people have spoken. Rather they have called, logged in, and otherwise made a strong effort to enroll and benefit from government subsidies on healthcare. Unfortunately, the government website is having major technical problems this and the high volume of traffic has caused a number of private and public websites to crash.

Critics of the law have suggested that much of the traffic is generated by simple curiosity rather than genuine interest. Only time and a repaired website will tell if America wants affordable healthcare  or the naysayers can stop dreaming.  Story from the front page of the Los Angeles Times Sunday, October 6, 2013.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pickles Condition

22nd November 2012
Dear Cassi,
Pickle’s condition grows more delicate with the passing days. Today he had me take apart a lamp to see if there was a “bug” in side. I thought I had been looking for an insect but he meant a device that was making sound.
He said the thought the neighbors were putting hallucinogens in his coffee
as he slept and that they had rigged his devices to give off sound that only he could hear. He spent much of the day talking about electric pulses and such.
To add to thing his short fuse is made shorter by his paranoia. Today he started yelling at Gus
after some sound had scared the big dog. Pickle’s ruckus sent the kittens running into the study where they hid among the bits of junk on the floor.
It will be another twelve days before this business is over in any reasonable way. I just
hope pickle’s does no damage in that time.

Stay safe, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

News, China, Crackdown on Bribery

This story appeared in the Sunday, October 6, 2013 Los Angeles Times sighting a major crackdown on bribery in china. It appears that it is Chinese tradition to give expensive gifts to those with an impact on your future like teachers, doctors, your boss, and the like. Officials in the Chinese government have tried to escape blame but claiming that some of these ‘gifts’ were given to family member such as wife, son, or even mistress. This tactic appears to rarely result in acquittal. 

The biggest challenge facing this crackdown is that if they persecuted all government officials who participated in bribes they would imprison a large part of the government. Chinese teachers have reported that keeping up with the common invitations to dinner by the families of their students is difficult, and that it is offensive if they say no. There has been at least one reported case of a doctor being attacked and battered for refusing a bribe from the family for one of his patients. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fix it Right or Leave it Be

25th October 2012
Dear Cassi,
As a point I have come to say ‘fix it proper or leave it be
if it still works,’ and this idea has once again come into play with my kitchen cabinets.
These sections of wood have stood poorly in the decades of their use but I fault them none as they have been hard used. The three daemons in child form, of which I was one, that inhabited this old house cracked the bricks of the walls so the fact that this wood still holds is impressive.
Things that have failed in these cabinets, however, the bits that hold them shut. I can tell that more than one generation of thought has gone into holding those doors closed. Some have magnetic seals and some spring seals but neither had taken to stand the test of time.
Some weeks ago my neighbor added new spring latches to the old wood to hold these aged sentinels shut. This had no impact on cabinet closing. The old worn doors just slide open as they have for more than twenty years. This was a small failure but as it took a few dollars and did nothing to change things it was a bad idea.
I had asked my neighbor not to do it but rather to get the self closing hinges that would permanently deal with the problem. He could have not worked on my cabinets at all and I would have preferred that to this situation.

Stay safe, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Immigration News California

This was front page news on the Sunday, October 6, 2013 Los Angeles Times. California Governor Jerry Brown signed a group of bills making it legal for those without legal status to legally get a driver’s license and a license to practice law as well as making it illegal to detain an illegal immigrants who has committed a misdemeanor until they can be taken into custody by Immigration and Nationalization Services (INS).

Friday, October 4, 2013

Out with the Ice Girl

21st October 2012
Dear Cassi,

There was a time in my life where this month was one of the happiest of my year. That was when I was young. It was back in the time when I could play among the ghosts and ghouls of our imagination. As a young boy I would imagine the other children as zombies and the teachers vampires on Halloween and play out an adventurer in my head.

Today I did my best to capture this feeling by going to a Halloween attraction of which is common in California. This is something that in a loose sense I would call a date as I was accompanied by a woman who I would at very least call attractive. I fail to see the fuss but you know how cold a man I can be in this regard.

It was my decision to take this girl to Dark Harbor at the Queen Mary as I have never been and found that she lived not far from the event. I know very little about the old cruise ship, but I thought at very least this would be fun.

A damp spirit was placed on the evening early on as she would not let me collect her at her apartment but decided to meet me at the event. This I took to be a sign of distrust and led me to believe that she has had more than a few jerks in her life. To further this she is somewhat younger than I and so less sure in her wants and less clear in her movements. In other words she was cold as a pillar of ice.

I had the best tickets one could buy for this event and so they cost me, but we would spend no time in lines. This was thankful as she kept me waiting for twenty minutes past event open. Standing there I had to do some thinking about this whole thing and thinking is never good when it come to social events. What was I doing hanging out with this girl anyway? She lives a good distance from my home and long distance is something to handle.

As I said, when she finally arrived she was a pillar of ice. We went through the mazes in the dark and I tried to keep hold of her wrist so as not to lose track of her. To this she took little notice as we strolled along in the company of various remnants of the dead.

I’ll admit that other than for the small size the Dark Harbor was well done. We did no taking of the food as my ‘date’ was rather apprehensive I think of their price.  This was a night full of awkwardness and long pregnant pauses but in the overall it was fun.

We finished early as we had no desire for repose and my tickets had taken us through the events rather quickly. I have to say some unfinished feeling as we walked past the gates and to the parking structure. I learned then that she had been dropped off and that she expected me to drive her home.

On the way to her home she talked about her life and her city. Long Beach isn’t much in comparison with LA but there is more sea life and the associations. She told me she was a vegetarian but could eat fish. I dropped her off at her apartment and watched her step through the door feeling as if the night would have been better if it was a larger group. I think this letter is kind of boring but then so was my date.

Stay safe, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal