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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Curs the Fear

First of the Year 2014

Dear Cassi,

I can feel it, the stink of fear welling up in my gut as I put on that blue uniform and make my way to work. My hands are shaking and my body is numb. I looked at my scarred face and remember the events of the previous morning wishing the attack hadn’t happened.

I was injured by a client. I work with the homeless. I work with drug addicts and violent cases and knew that this was a likely scenario. The only thing is that I hadn’t expected the safety measures at my work to fail leaving me alone to deal with the event.

I was injured on the morning of the 31st of December and went to the Emergency Room to get checked out. I came back to work the night of the 31st cursing myself for the fear and the pain. I was cursing myself for the feeling in my gut that made it hard to go on.

I thought I was stronger than this, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, December 21, 2015


The battered old Pork Chop
 sits in the sun.
This is another letter concerning my dearly departed pet Pork Chop who was first found wandering down my street.

Getting these things posted is my form of grieving I guess. I only had the old boy for seven or eight months I think, but I connected with him. We had both suffered so much.

9th November 2013
Dear Cassi,
I took Pork Chop back to the vet today just like they told me to and it was a dreaded expense. I arrived early and so walked the old dog in the parking lot until they open. I bled the wound on his face and got blood on my hands but this was little compared to what was to come.
They told me his weight was because of a thyroid condition and that he had some issues with his liver that need to be watched. That was all and well but they had to take him for the day to perform the operation. I just hope that when this is over he’ll be a happy dog once again.

I came back to the vet at around four thirty and it took them some time to collect my dog. This was all right as I spend my time talking up the receptionist who took something of an interest in me. I should have asked her out, but the daunting cost of vet bills made me think of other things. 
As I waited three young folks came in wanting to see the body of a pet that had passed and was ready for cremation. It was a man and two women that I took to be highs schoolers. The two young women ood and awed over my wounded dog but he did scare them deeply when he shook his head and sprayed blood all over the floor. The two girls gave Pork Chop a few pats and wished him well.
He did this again when he came home leaving something of a mess.  This rather bothered Pickle who recoiled at the sight of blood, but I’ve seen enough blood in my life so that it never bothers me. After all the old dog has suffered I wish he could have a comfortable life but as we both know it is never so simple.

Greet the challenges as they come, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal
A closeup of the dog's face

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Only the Guilty

27th September 2013
Dear Cassi,
I was roused today by Pickle saying that a woman who lives down the street had found a dead cat that they believed belonged to me. He took this to mean Hyde, and I asked him to get the location of the body for my inspection. I drew from bed in a numb way and seeing Caramel un-impacted by the supposed loss of his brother I took to learn the truth before believing.
As I left my door I found Hyde coming from under my car and lifting this beloved animal to my shoulder showed Pickle that he was very much alive. With some relief I went to see what cat they had meant and found a long dead animal on my neighbor’s property.
It was a large, black and white, long harried cat who I had seen from time to time. The body was unmarred by predation and the animal appeared to have died right where it lay.
This was a cryptic reminder of the world we live in. Could it have been that my neighbor killed this animal? Had it died of drinking some car fluid? Who knows? Only the guilty.

Stay safe, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Backett: Review

Some say 'Waiting for Godot' by Samuel Beckett is the greatest play of the 20th century. To be honest I have never read a play as relevant to the common man as this one, and I question if I will ever find it's equal. 

The premise so that of extreme simplicity, two men waiting for the absent Godot as they contemplate the brutality of their world, suicide, and their friendship.

They live in a world where slavery is legal and human life has no value. In dead, we find in this story a master going to fair to sell his lave as one may do an older horse and at least one of the two protagonists, I can't call them heroes, asking about the slave's position with his owner as if he would like to have this lowly state.

This is a play about all of us at the bottom of the world hoping for our chance to go do something better.
Vladimir and Estragon or Didi and Gogo as they call each other, are victims as much of themselves as they are from the hard world they live in and the question is why do they stay together and in this place waiting.

When I look at these names, and the author would tell me my idea is as good as the next, I see to possibilities. Didi and Gogo can be seen as Did I and Go Go or Did it(taking Godot's T) and Go Go. This would imply that the questioning of the self or a statement of gilt and then the push to move even in that question.  

In other words, I believe these to are like most of us waiting to Go Do something in their lives. Haven't we all then been waiting for Godot? Have you ever waited to ask that someone out, or until you got a better job? So many common people spend their lives waiting for Godot but if we should keep waiting is a question only we can answer for ourselves. 

Who should read this play?: All the humans who can.

Total Books Read: 11 of 5,000

Pages: 61

Total Pages Read for 'The 5,000 Project': 2,036

Monday, December 14, 2015

Make the Best of Life

16th September 2013
Dear Cassi,
I was roused today by Pickles calling me to tell me that Pork shop had injured his leg, but when I got out of bed the overweight Labrador was walking fine. I gave the old dog a pat on the head and went about my day as normal.
I took him for a short walk after walking the Doberman and Pork chop could hardly make it down the street. The Labrador could hardly walk when I found him wandering the streets and even now struggles with rising and sitting, so this gave me no cause to worry over the big blob of brown fur.
As the sun set I took it as a time to give the dog an evening walk, but as I stroked his coat to wake him I felt something like mud in his fur. On investigation I found what looked like an old puncture were the skin had died and left a bald spot that now looked inflamed. I probed this some and removed clods of blood stained fur until I could see the skin clearly.
The area was swollen and red looking something like a boil and I pressed it seen blood and infection make its way free until the wound was less bulging. Then on the dog’s leg I found a lump that burst in my hand. A hot pink sludge covered my fingers, but I could tell the wound was still harboring fester, and so I pressed with my poor dog giving out a small whimper.
The gore on my hands was unsettling and my old lab will have some hard days to come but the condition is not life threatening.  This dog has lived a hard life that left him with scars and places that will grow pus for years. Still, he is a happy old thing and that is all we can hope for.

Make the best of life, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Small Soul

Little Moo shortly after being adopted. You can 
see the mucus coming from her mouth and 
staining the fur on her shoulder.
10th December 2015
Dear Cassi,

A small soul has laid to rest this day for the very last time. My black and white cat, Little Moo, has breathed her last. I knew it would be soon as the infection in her jaw proved incurable. No matter how many antibiotics I gave her the mucus would return.

Yesterday morning I found that instead of a green lining round the little cats mouth there was a fiery red expanse. For the last month I had been trying to treat her with flea spray and it had done no good so it was at this moment I had no choice but to bathe her.

I remember the vet having said I should think of putting her down. It didn’t feel right. She was a tough girl and deserved every second of life she could fight through. So I took my sick cat and gave her a warm bath than sat with her for an hour or two rubbing the water from her fur.

She purred to me as the three remaining kittens sat at my feet. As the poor cat dried she seemed to strengthen, and so I put her to bed in the back bathroom where she has always slept.

This morning I gave her the pain medication and found she could hardly move on her own. There was little I could do and I had to take Pickle to his appointment. I got home and slept. I steel keep the hours I kept when I had a job sleeping mostly during the day. I’m not sure why, I just feel more active at night.
Little Moo on antibiotics looking like a normal healthy animal.

When I woke at six in the evening I checked and found the cat dead. Little Moo still had her eyes open and look little different from her state in life save that her body was cold. I picked her up and held her for a long moment hoping that I was wrong, hoping that there was some life left in the frail form, but I found none.

Did I do the right thing, Cassi? I found that cat half starved to death in a parking lot. I took months getting her to trust me and then taking her home only to have to earn her trust over and over again.

In the end I could do little to save the frail cat, but was she so much better off in my home and not in that parking lot? I did my best for that little creature and here she is no different in the end.

So you tell me, did I do the right thing?

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, December 7, 2015


The animal I talk about in this letter is long dead but he died in his sleep. It was

a peaceful death for a much loved animal and I do miss him so.
8th November 2013

Dear Cassi,

I went to the vet today because Pork Chop had a wound on the side of his face. I found it a few days ago as a lump down near his chin and when I put pressure on it the thing burst covering my hand with blood. He’s had bleeding wounds before so I thought very little of this but last night I noted a smell coming from the area.

My first thought was to wash the wound but that did almost nothing. The smell was gone for a few hours but came back before I left for work that night. So this morning when I came home I loaded the dog into the car and was there as the vet opened.

They told me that he had ulcerated tumors around where the pit-bull had mulled him and they had to be removed. This would run me more than a thousand dollars but Pork Chop needed it.

They took a blood sample and told me to come back the next day. That alone ran me two hundred dollars. I have to admit then I wasn’t expecting this but at least I know the poor dog will get what he needs. Ken told me he wouldn’t live this long but well he defied the odds I guess.

It comes to me that people are always telling me my pets are going to die. What’s up with that? Why is everyone so dismal?

Take it as it comes, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal

Sunday, December 6, 2015

List of Souls

5th December 2015

Dear Sister Margaret,

Little has changed since our last correspondence. I still look for a job and I have still heard nothing regarding my claim with Labor Enforcement. We are still working on our second turkey of the season and I still have three kittens to find homes for. Danny never accepted one and if she truly wants the animal I cannot say. If she does she has not picked her cat.

As expected, I have still not heard back from Raf regarding my script. I have to say it is a sore spot with me how few folks will read my work. They never rejected it because of quality but just never get around to putting eyes to words. It’s the oddest kind of lonely to live in a world where your ideas are shut up in your head even after you write them down.

I feel like a failure, but I failed to make the right friends I guess. Then every time I see some of my oldest friends I feel the failure cut at me because of them. I have a friend who is an actress and I wish I could better her life with my film. I think her work is in insurance, but acting is in her blood, and her advocacy for the homeless is noble. Then I have a friend who has struggled with employment since he lost his book shop. I’ve always wished I could open a book shop for him.

Well, I imagine it would be more of a bookshop with a cafĂ©. It’s one of those fond little thoughts of a fellow who always wanted to find his place in words and never did.

That’s kind of my life, Margaret, just a list of souls calling out for help, and me with no help to give. My dreams to me are like headstones in a long forgotten graveyard, and I just a soul trapped by its iron fence posts.

Stay safe,

Richard Leland Neal