Tuesday, January 26, 2021

CHEROKEE SALT - paperback available now


Set against the background of Covid 19 and the political polarization of 2020, reluctant, but hungry private investigator, Jeff Davis, accepts a murder investigation from a wealthy client. The victim – a shady transient – had been killed five years earlier, but her body was only recently discovered. The client’s son is then arrested for the crime, based on DNA evidence, and Jeff’s seemingly impossible quest is to prove the man’s innocence. In pursuit of justice for his client, he angers a rogue DEA agent who becomes obsessed with revenge against the investigator, by any means necessary. Underlying is Jeff’s unpaid fascination with all things alien, which moves closer to answers he and his small group have been seeking for years. “Cherokee Salt” follows “Purity” and “unrighteous god” as the third in this series of Jeff Davis novels. This is the first time, however, the story is told by Jeff, himself.

To order a signed copy, click the appropriate tab on the right side of this page.

For unsigned copies, you may wish to order from Amazon.com .

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Baber PDF books for Kindle or other device


We've had issues converting our paperback books to Kindle formatting. They seem to come out with glitches that confuse the reader. We THINK we have found a solution in simply sending them as .PDF copies. This way, they should appear on your device exactly as they do on the printed page. (Works on our Kindle Fire, anyway!)  So, to order the .pdf versions, emailed directly to your reading device, use the tab to the right.

From a phone or other mobile device, scroll to bottom of screen and click "View Web Version."

You can have the book sent to you by regular email - in which case you'd save it to a file and read as you would any other document; or, sent directly to your Kindle - if you provide that address.  Of course, you could have it sent as an email and then load it to your device yourself, if you'd prefer. $2.95 per book.

Be aware that the .pdf will appear on your device as a "Document," rather than a book. And it is NOT A DOWNLOAD; we email the files - so please allow up to 48 hours to receive them.


Thursday, December 03, 2020



You must understand that something less than half the people in the US believed every word – even the misspelled ones – this guy puked out onto their newsfeeds. And while that half loved and trusted him, most of the rest of us saw a reddish yellow schoolyard bully with a dead squirrel on his head and a black swastika armband, doing everything he could possibly do, relentlessly, to divide the country into two opposite camps. Nothing we could do or say would convince his people they were wrong; and certainly nothing they could do would convince us they were right. But there was a small percentage of clueless airheads in the middle who just couldn’t make up their minds on the subject. I don’t know if there will be a historical term for them – perhaps “fence sitters.” I simply refer to them as “dumb people.” And everybody was fighting tooth & nail to drag them over to their side of the line.

So, in addition to shoring up his base, Twitler’s idiocy was directed to them: the Lost People in the Lost Year of our Lost Lord, 2020.


 Over half a century later, I still have vivid memories, even dreams, of being a kid, taking my dad’s 35 cents and running down to the corner station to buy him a pack of Viceroys. Did it many times, way back before snowflakes passed the silly laws forbidding children from making such purchases. There was always a covey of old men sitting around on Coke crates, chewing tobacco and swapping pocket knives and talking about all the world’s problems: Kennedy and “that nigger,” Martin Luther King, and queers, and women who didn’t know their place. They weren’t afraid to say what they thought out loud, because there was nobody around who disagreed with them. And they made no pretense of muting their conversations in the presence of me, a young, impressionable child. If anything, they’d get louder when I showed up. And they were fond of saying things to me like “What are you doin’ here, little girl? You lost?”

Then, over the course of that decade, things started to appear to change. I thought they were changing. Liberals, like Kennedy and King, had started talking back, and implanting crazy ideas, like equality, into the minds of people who didn’t look like those old men at the gas station. Over time, they didn’t raise their voices when a stranger walked onto the scene. And I got big enough to steal some of those Viceroys from my ol’ man, climb the oak tree beside my grandma’s house, sit on the roof and smoke while I listened to the discussions of the older folk through the open kitchen window. There were many of them who, thinking I was nowhere around, still talked like those gas station dudes.

See, the problem with “liberals” is that we’re just too goddamned gullible. We live in a make-believe world, pretending that because things appear to be right and just, righteousness and justice actually exist. They don’t. They’re a myth. Fake news. No matter how many quarters you have from putting those teeth under your pillow as a kid, fact is somebody who wanted you to believe in the Tooth Fairy – for whatever reason – kept placing the coins there, reinforcing that belief, all the while knowing that you’d have to be let down sooner or later. You’d either grow up and figure it out for yourself, or you’d run out of teeth. America has run out of teeth. All that marching and protesting in the 60s accomplished was getting some of the ugliness moved to another room, where you can’t see it, and they don’t have to listen to you complain. Racism and bigotry and cruelty and all those other nasty things didn’t leave the house. They were as strong as they’ve ever been, pretending to be contained until somebody could step up and champion them again. Somebody who has what it takes to tell the kids to quit looking under their pillows; because it’s not the fake magical fairy they need to thank for the pocket change, but the real monster that has always been under the bed.

It was clear to me that person had arrived. And they had made him President; and they worshipped him like a god. He had appeared like a miracle – the physical manifestation of their collective inner-selves. What else could he be if not the Second Coming?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Luke's Great Escape from Facebook Shawshank


This changes a man. Whether it’s for the better, or for the worse, remains to be seen. But there’s a change. I can feel it.

The darkness. That’s the worst part. Rats. Snakes. Some other things that I haven’t quite identified. Maybe some of them are imaginary – my tortured mind, playing tricks. It’s gotten to the point that when something crawls across my wet bare feet I don’t even bother to light up my phone to see what it is. Nothing good, I’m sure. And I have to preserve my battery – if for nothing than the clock. The hour will come, eventually, when I can get out of this hole and feel the sunlight on my face. Eventually.  But, until then, I can only do what they intend for me to do: sit here, alone, and reflect upon my transgression. My sin. And for all the reflection; all the introspection… I still can’t figure out what I did to deserve this. So I must continue to think about it. It’s for my own good.

All around, etched into the damp walls, are faint remnants of the agony of those poor souls who were here before me. Silent, desperate pleadings for mercy that were never heard by the outside world. Fingernails, ripped from those foolish enough to think they could scratch their way to the surface; tally marks, counting the days, hours, minutes; names and initials. The horror. The horror! Last time I looked, I saw the initials of my own cousin, “M.A.P.” And, to think that I never gave a second thought about his misery when he was last here – there have been many times for him – brings me a feeling of overwhelming guilt and shame.  Seems we never think about things like this until they happen to us. It’s just too painful.

So, at least they let me bring my ball and glove. I sit with my back against the wall and bounce the ball off the opposite one; and even in near-total darkness, I manage to catch it most of the time, just using the force.  And I count the seconds. And I plan vengeance upon those responsible for sending me here. Is that wrong?

Then, instead of the dull thump, the ball makes a sharp snapping sound, like hitting a snare drum, and it doesn’t come back. “Wilson!” I shout, “Where did you go?” But there is no answer. This, in itself, isn’t so unusual, because Wilson is a baseball, and they don’t talk – but he had always come back before.

I light up my phone and scoot across to the other side of the dungeon. There, I find a tattered poster of Stormy Daniels with a baseball-sized hole through the paper at the most interesting location. I rip the paper off the wall to find a hidden tunnel to the unknown – barely large enough for a man of my size, but I had to try! Without giving it a second thought, I lunge into Stormy’s shaft and begin to crawl, picking up Wilson along the way. Ahead, I see a faint glow, and that empowers me to crawl faster and faster.

It seems like an eternity until I lift off the grate to emerge, and the warm sunlight envelopes me like the arms of a loving mother. In the distance, I hear the shouting of an un-masked crowd chanting “Four more years! Four more years” and see brightly colored flags waving in the gentle Autumn breeze under the orange-tinted sky.

Just to my right … well, way to my right … is a heavily-adorned Indian motorcycle with its own stars & bars flags and some little bears, wearing red MAGA hats, tied to the rear fender. The key is in the ignition!  I jump astride the bike and crank it up – and at that moment it all comes back to me.

My crime; that horrible thing that had put me in the hole: posting “Girls shouldn’t be allowed to talk mean to the President!” Exactly that, and nothing else, on a popular social media site which shall remain nameless.

It was a satirical remark regarding a televised CBS interview with the grotesque, titian leader of this gaggle of clowns, in which he couldn’t handle the pressure so he just up and walked out, and left the lady sitting there in her chair, bewildered. And for my tongue-in-cheek witticism it had to be one of these dimwitted romancers of goats who finked me out; turned state’s evidence to get me thrown into the bastille. But which one? There are so many!

I place the motorcycle into gear and spin out toward the slobbering mob, and they scatter like a houseful of witless turkeys when lightning strikes. Grown men, full of pride, with AR-15s strapped to their backs, slinging women and children aside to remove themselves from harm’s way by any means necessary. And there is pandemonium, and the spreading of the ‘rona via their screams.

Black suits surround the Mango Messiah on the stage and whisk him away to Eggbeater and it flees into the wild blue yonder … which is, as already stated, orange. So, OK, the wild orange yonder.  Then, they turn their focus to me, and the chase is on.

For miles over the rolling fields, through amber waves of grain, they maintain pursuit, dodging the fuzzy little bears and swastika material flying in my wake. There are the sounds of the engines, and sirens and gunfire, but all I hear is Mick Jagger singing “Sympathy for the Devil.”

I fly over a rise and realize that I am boxed in by five-strand barbwire fences. There is nowhere to go! I circle back toward the advancing gestapo briefly; then turn again, full-speed toward the fence. I jump that one, but there is an even bigger fence on the other side. The Nazis close in from all directions. In a hail of bullets, I crash into the gigantic fence and become entangled in the wire. And they have me again.

The officer in charge appears at the front as I’m removed from the fetters. The nametag on his uniform said, simply, “Zuck.” And he addresses me:

“What we have here … is failure to communicate.”

And I’m thinking “That’s exactly what we have.”

They put me back into the dungeon with nothing but my ball and glove. Stormy’s hole has been filled with pumpkins and sweet potatoes, so there is no way out, aside from getting that orange stench all over myself - and I refuse to do that.

So I toss the ball and count: “One November…Two November…”

Thursday, June 04, 2020

The Book of Trump - Chapter One

Amidst all the madness and confusion in the past 3 ½ years it’s difficult to recall and focus on any one thing that stands out – that singular historical event our grandchildren will be asked about by their own progeny to which they can answer “Yes. I was alive then; but, honey, I don’t know. Nobody knows.”

The Book of Trump, Chapter One

For many years, there had been in our country a considerable number of people, who called themselves “Patriots,” whose stated mission was to defend and preserve the principles of liberty and justice, at all costs, even their very lives.  In their quest to do so, they determined it necessary to arm themselves to the extent that made other Americans uncomfortable – afraid of potential misuse of their weapons.

“Why do you need so many guns?” the Patriots were asked, “Our country has police to protect us from criminals, and military forces to protect us from invaders.”

“Yes!” cried the Patriots, “But what if tyranny is coming from your own government? Who will defend you then? It is we, your militia! Thank God we are here for you, and fear not!”

And, God was surely with them. They carried His Book, and they spoke His Words, and they gathered in His House, and they proclaimed to do all things in His Name, and in the name of the country they swore to defend to their dying breaths. And they proudly displayed their weapons, and their flags; and donned the wardrobes of the fearless and mighty, even in places where such displays didn’t appear to be necessary.

And they waited for tyranny to dare to raise its ugly head.

Then, in the early days of June, in the Year of Our Lord 2020, a handful of peaceful Americans sat on the front porch of their dwelling, watching a black-clad parade of heavily armed forces march down their street, whose perceived purpose was to protect the citizenry from danger. Disharmony had occurred throughout the country over abuse committed by police, which had brought about calamity and unrest; and these forces had been sent out to keep the peace.

“Get inside your house!” commanded voices from the marchers.

Bewildered, the handful of Americans, thinking surely the government would not order them what to do on their own property, continued to watch, from what they considered the safety of their own porch.

“Get inside!” the marchers repeated.

Before the watchers had the time to realize it was, indeed, them who were being ordered, the forces opened fire upon them with non-lethal, albeit punishing weaponry. And they had no choice but to comply with the unlawful demands.

Meanwhile, many miles away in the Nation’s capital, hundreds of citizens had gathered in peaceful protest over the abuse committed by the police – a right, granted by God, and recognized in the founding documents of their country.

And, suddenly, the skies opened, and terror rained down upon them in the form of noxious gasses and pain-inflicting projectiles which sent them scattering and fleeing from the grounds of the House of God where they had been granted refuge and given comfort. And the comforters and granters of refuge were among them, driven from the House of God.

Then, through the smoke and screams of the terrified marched a man, flanked by his entourage of supporters and enablers, onto the steps of the House of God. And he stood before the cameras and he proclaimed the House to be his; and he held up the Book and he proclaimed It to be his. And the world watched.

“Now! Now is the time for the Patriots!” screamed the people, “For this, surely, is their prophesy come to pass!”

But as the people dried from their eyes the tears of the gasses and disillusionment, they began to see the self-proclaimed Patriots – standing beside the man.

“He is there! He is there!” they screamed at the Patriots.

“Not this man,” answered the Patriots, “For he is one of us.”

© Rick Baber, 2020

Friday, May 10, 2019

I Concede

I remember the night, as if it was yesterday. Because, it was.

With so many other things to do, I spent it arguing with
people on Facebook, about strongly-held beliefs.  Many of
them were people I knew to be of above-average
intelligence; and it was confusing to me how we could hold
such polar opposite views on these matters of vital
importance. And there were so many of them. How could
they all be so wrong?

Then, sometime around 2 am, I had an epiphany; a rare
flash of introspection; a moment that would change my life forever.  The ceiling of my living room opened and the clouds parted and a giant, bearded old man who looked like Santa Claus peered down at me from the sky, pointing his bony, yet well-manicured finger of indignation. And the man in the sky spoke: “Rick. It’s not them. It is you. It has always been you!”

Imagine my surprise.

Sixty four years of observation – taking notes…even pictures – and, still, I had gotten it all wrong. Flunked the test. Crapped out. Flushed it all down the toilet.  Everything I thought I knew was wrong.  Because the fact that I had observed all this, myself, was insignificant compared to what I could have known if I had only read “studies” done by other people, who were not there, explaining what it was I was actually seeing.

As it turns out, it is good thing when people on the Interstate create traffic jams by holding out ‘til the last second to merge back into traffic when their lane is ending. Because, otherwise, all the money spent on having that partially-completed third lane over there was wasted. We all should know that governments hate to waste our money.  The logic is so pure. I can see it now – as clearly as Colonel Walter Kurtz could see the beauty in cutting off the inoculated arms of the little children. Our objectives should not be set on selfish, personal, petty things like getting where we want to go without being held up by traffic jams; it should be on deriving the most bang per government buck for the masses. The masses in the third lane, causing traffic jams, are clearly getting their bang – or they wouldn’t be doing that. I mean, right? It’s efficiency. All the studies say so. 

While you are sitting still in traffic that should be easing along at 70 mph, cursing those passing on your left, accusing them of creating the very problem they are going around you in order to rectify for themselves, others be-damned, what you are really witnessing is an illusion manifested in your own refusal to read the studies telling you that this is not really happening.

Shopping carts really should be left in parking spots. Otherwise, Walmart is just throwing away the money they are paying those guys to gather them up and put them back into the corrals. Body shops and insurance adjusters would have less work if not for people hitting those carts with their vehicles. The economy would suffer. And, what is the most efficient use of time for shoppers? Isn’t it just pushing that cart up to the Subaru, loading in your stuff, and leaving the cart sitting there? Don’t you have better things to do with your time than walk the thing fifty feet to put it up? Of course you do! Studies have proven this. And, because I’m telling you, here, in an article, that studies have proven it, you must trust me. So it is written.

It is to your benefit to receive multiple daily calls from people offering to help you get your student loans paid off. This information is based on an extensive 2017 study conducted by the Baltimore firm of Kleinbeck and Rosenstein (trust me) that concluded that, since people don’t exercise as they should, a daily, temporary elevation of heart rate of just 12 bpm, generated by such calls, prolongs your lifespan by an average of 9 years.  It is speculated, although not studied in detail, that these calls do not originate with scam artists, as you may think, but, in fact, with the World Health Organization, with only your well-being in mind.

Toilet paper really should roll off the back, against the wall. I haven’t read the studies on this, but it must be so, because I always thought it should roll off the front.

Drive-thru employees at McDonalds are doing good when they leave out your salt. Too much salt is bad for you, and it causes our healthcare system to be over-burdened. Then we all pay too much for doctor visits.  And, consider this: you could have gotten 15 miles down the road before you got around to salting those soggy fries. Traffic could come to a standstill on the Interstate. Because you’re salting the fries, you get boxed in, and miss the opportunity to whip out into that third lane and go around everybody else, so you can contribute to the cause of the traffic jam when you attempt to squeeze back in at the end of your lane – thereby helping those dumb center-laners to understand that they should read the studies. It’s all for the common good.

Studies have shown that people who receive helpful information like this from writers, who go to all the trouble to read the studies and then report to the public, actually benefit financially by sending “thank you” monetary donations to said writer.

  © 2019, Rick Baber


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Whizzer of Orange

Let's try something new - a book, you can actually read as it's being written, chapter by chapter.  This one is a totally fictional tale (a fable), with fictional people, set in a fictional place.  As the chapters are written, I'll edit this post to add the new ones. Let's see how it goes.
Here's the cover: followed by the text:

Chapter 1

    A short time ago, in a place not so far away, there existed a sleepy little town known as “Geriko.” Nobody knew how long it had been there, but it was assumed by outsiders that the town was named after an ancient biblical city, by someone who hadn’t mastered the art of spelling. Still, the name seemed to fit, because, curiously, no matter how many children were born there throughout the years, the population remained mostly elderly. And, also curiously, they all seemed to look the same.
    For the most part, they were a happy people, the Gerikuns. Most of them spent their days working in the orange groves and their nights thinking about working in the orange groves the next day. Because, there wasn’t much else to do. Occasionally, they’d go see a movie – but since there was only one movie theater in Geriko, and since it showed only one movie – the townsfolk didn’t have reason to get out much.  There’s a limit to the number of times a person – even a Gerikun – can watch “Bedtime for Bonzo.”

    Outside of town lived wandering bands of raccoons – because, that’s what raccoons do, they wander. They didn’t have a movie theater at all; and they didn’t have orange groves in which to work, so they would sometimes come into town looking for food, or employment, or entertainment. The grove owners soon discovered that the raccoons, happy just to be there, would work for a few oranges a day while the regular Gerikuns demanded payment in real money. So the owners hired more and more raccoons to the point that some long-time Gerikuns were having trouble finding jobs. This made them angry.
    A man named O.J. McDonald built a business for himself providing housing for the raccoons on a street called Baltic Avenue. At first, the rent O.J. charged was affordable – even for the scantily-paid raccoons. He charged them 4 oranges per month to camp there. Then, as he grew richer, he opened his own brick factory to provide materials with which he could build houses for his tenants. He replaced the campsites with houses, and raised the rent to 20 oranges per month.  The raccoons were glad to be inside on the cold nights, and they could crowd several of them into a single house, so they had no problem with paying the rent and splitting the expenses. And the raccoons kept coming.
    O.J. seized upon the population boom, and the resources he had available. Baltic Avenue wasn’t that big of a street, and he didn’t want his tenants to go off paying somebody else for their lodging. So he tore down the houses and built hotels in their places. He, again, upped the rent, considering all the raccoons that could squeeze into such large buildings, to 450 oranges per month. The raccoons had to work harder and harder to pay their rent, but they had much nicer places to live – albeit in a rather undesirable neighborhood very near a railroad and the tax collector’s office.
    Ultimately, O.J. McDonald became a very wealthy man and moved from his middle-class home on Atlantic Avenue all the way uptown to a place called Boardwalk, where he built a brick skyscraper, 45 stories tall, and lived in the penthouse so he could look out upon his tenants and make sure they stayed in line. It was rumored that the 44 stories below his residence were simply there to hold his oranges, and his money.

    The make-up of Geriko was changing. Raccoons were everywhere – young ones, old one, thin ones, chubby ones. And while they realized that O.J. was taking advantage of their desire to stay, they really didn’t want to return to living in the woods, where nobody had even heard of Bonzo. But the Gerikuns wanted them out so they could go back to the way things were before. Gerikuns weren’t too big on the concept of change. They went so far as to begin to build a wall around the town. But O.J. was making more profits renting hotels to the Raccoons than he made selling brick to the townspeople for their wall. With brick, and then willpower, in short supply the wall was only partially completed before the theater got another movie and everybody just, sort of, forgot about it. For all the trouble and expense, the wall they had built wasn’t tall enough or wide enough, they thought, to keep the raccoons from coming into town. When they wanted in, all they had to do was climb over it, or walk around it. But, over the course of time, it didn’t really matter so much, because the townsfolk discovered there were other, better, things to do with their time than picking oranges. Many even stated that if the raccoons were suddenly to disappear, the oranges would rot on the trees because there would be nobody to pick them. So, satisfied with the conditions as they were, there was a period of peace and harmony among the Gerikuns and the Raccoons, and Geriko continued to prosper.

    O.J. McDonald, and his wife, Hilda, spent their days and nights in their lofty penthouse shipping produce and counting their money. But they did find a little time to start a family. They had three relatively normal children who followed in the ways of their parents. Then, one cold rainy night, a fourth child was born unto O.J. and Hilda. This one was different. As he came into the world, the attending doctor noticed that he had something in his mouth. The staff hurried the baby away for examination and discovered it was a tiny spoon, made of silver. Subsequent inquiries into the cause of this revealed that the spoon had somehow fallen inside of Hilda McDonald during the birth of one of the previous children; and the investigation eventually concluded that it was dropped by one of the McDonalds’ servants who was watching the birth while eating ice cream. Vanilla, of course.
    The abnormalities of the new baby were blamed on Hilda’s body acids slowly dissolving silver from the spoon between the birth of her previous child and this new one. He was a plump little rascal, and seemed healthy enough, but his digits were much, much shorter than those of a normal human; and he had freakishly long eyebrows and a completely bald head.  Even as he was being coddled by the nurses in the hospital, the baby took his tiny little finger stubs and brushed his own eyebrows back over his head to keep it warm.
    The parents were, of course, concerned about the baby’s condition, and his welfare, but their first self-serving emotions were those of embarrassment that they, at the zenith of Gerikun society, had brought forth something less than a perfect McDonald. 
    It is assumed that they gave a proper name to this newborn son before packing him up and hiding him away from the world in their penthouse, but nobody, to this day, knows what it was. Because of his short little fingers, and other digits, they simply called him “Stubby.”  Stubby McDonald.  That moniker seemed to work, and even Stubby never asked his parents what his real name was. Then the days came that they passed from this world, and it was too late to ask.

 Chapter 2

    Stubby grew up in a world quite different than ours, essentially imprisoned there in the height of luxury. He was surrounded by money, oranges, and servants, and never had the opportunity of a normal child to meet and befriend other children.  This, in itself, would have been difficult for him, because as he grew, his other abnormalities manifested.
    First, he found that he was, for the most part, unable to speak in the manner of other people. When he opened his mouth, he tended to vomit upon his silk pajama top. But, always determined to overcome, Stubby, at a very young age, developed his own method of sign language, using his tiny thumbs, and taught it to all those around him. The problem with that was once they – his servants and family members, and his imaginary friends – were able to communicate with him through this method, they discovered that he was literally incapable of telling the truth. Every single thing that Stubby “said” was a lie. Those with whom he was communicating adapted to this by simply assuming that the opposite of what Stubby said was the actual truth.  
    Next, as he wandered around in that huge 45-story building, he was constantly getting lost. To remedy this, he learned to mark his tracks by urinating along his path. Because of all the oranges he consumed, Stubby’s clever markings made a bright, almost fluorescent, yellow/orange stain that could only be scrubbed off of their surfaces using sponges made of hundred dollar bills – something about the construction of the paper. Tens, even twenties, wouldn’t work at all. He used the markings to find his way back to the penthouse, each time he wandered away, and it was the sole job of some of the servants to follow him around to clean up after him.  So, what began as a survival mechanism developed into a condition, which Stubby was never able to break as he grew older.  This “habit” is what earned him the title as “The Whizzer of Orange.”

    Of course, even Stubby realized he wasn’t a normal boy, and he should stay there in the penthouse where he was protected from the big, bad world outside. But deep within his chubby frame was an undying desire to get out there and make it on his own, despite his inadequacies.  He had learned enough about the outside world through thumbversations (that’s what he called them) with the servants that everybody out there wasn’t as wealthy as his parents, and some didn’t even have enough oranges to feed their families. But they had something, all of them. And he made it his mission to get out there and take that from them.
    Stubby finally talked his father into making him a small loan of 14 million oranges, so he could start his own business. That wasn’t a problem, as his parents were more than happy to get him out of their penthouse. He managed to lose that pretty quickly, so he went back and borrowed more. With that, he hired some of the Raccoons in town to go back into the woods and bring back snakes. Stubby took those creatures to a factory to have them processed into an oil, which he then started selling to the Gerikuns as a cure for boredom, and whooping cough, which nobody had. Many thought the oil was actually working on them, because they were entertained by the act of Stubby selling it to them. But that fantasy eventually wore off and people, now tired of seeing “Hellcats of the Navy,” were back to complaining of nothing to do, and blaming that on those lowly Raccoons, somehow. And the Raccoons were also upset because Stubby never paid them for gathering up the snakes. He washed his tiny hands of the whole enterprise.
    “If innertayment is what they want, innertayment is what I’ll give them!” Stubby announced with his thumbs. He let his snake oil business go back to the bank; took out another loan from O.J., and promoted his own weekly dwarf-tossing event. It was a huge success, by Stubby standards. Half of the Gerikuns came every week to watch the little people being thrown about the fairgrounds – against their wills, by the way - and they laughed and laughed. It seemed to never grow old to them. All during each event, Stubby sat in an opera box near the top of the stadium, a well-paid young girl on each knee, clad in a white robe, with a golden crown atop his huge orange head, holding back his eyebrows. When the performance met with his approval, he gave it a thumbs-up. Unable to see if the little digit was pointed up or down, the crowd applauded anyway. It was a grand time for all involved.
    The Gerikuns of lower intelligence began to admire Stubby, the man, and what he had done for them; and they put out the effort to learn the Art of Thumbversation so they could communicate with him.  Here, they thought, was an actual self-made billionoranger who could communicate with them on their level!  They learned to read his markings and follow him to other events he sponsored, by spotting the yellow bricks. Having them lined with neon signs made that even easier for them.
    The other half of the Gerikuns, mostly those who had read a book, or traveled outside of town, largely ignored Stubby, believing him to be an idiotic phase that those other townsfolk were going through – like the time years ago when they thought all the left-handed people were aliens from Mars and opened a series of tedious investigations to expose them.  That passed. And it was a sure thing that this would too.
    But Stubby was emboldened and empowered by all the attention he was getting, and he worked relentlessly to acquire even more. He sponsored watermelon eating contests and frog-slinging competitions – the high quality sorts of entertainment his followers had come to expect from him – and he grew stronger and stronger as a powerful, influential force in Geriko.
    One day, while having his toenails clipped and saved and laminated for posterity, Stubby decided that there should be some kind of monument built to honor him. But, how to get that done? What should it be? Where would it be located?
    Voila! Of course. It should be the completion of the long-forgotten wall the people once craved! He could build it all around the town, so everybody could see it without having to travel too far. And, just to add insult to injury, he would have the raccoons build it – then swindle them out of their paychecks, like every other job he had them do!  And, the best part of all was that the only available materials to build his big, beautiful monument would have to come from the brick factory his dearly-departed father had left to him. But, how could he get the townspeople to pay him for all those bricks?  How could he convince them that it was, suddenly, necessary again?
    As he stood in an alley, marking his path from his inherited sky-rise apartment, it came to him. It was so simple. Why had he not thought of it before? He would get himself elected Mayor of Geriko – the highest office in the land.

 Chapter 3

    Luck is a powerful force of nature that few understand. As luck would have it, there was a drought that year, when Stubby entered the political arena.  The orange groves were beginning to wilt away, taking with them the economy of Geriko.  So, being a man who was not burdened with the albatross of morality, the new candidate drew upon the opportunity to take advantage of the townspeople’s misfortune. He thumbed to them that he, and only he, could make it rain.
    Without question … absent the God-given ability to reason … his followers believed him. But many residents of Geriko did not, and they were bold enough to say so, out loud.
    One bright, sunny morning, as the Stubsters stood at the foot of his ivory brick tower, breathlessly awaiting his next campaign decree, he strolled out onto the 45th floor balcony in his un-tied silk robe – his exposed ample belly casting a shadow upon his minions – sipping on a cold Orange Julius. Beside him, on his left, stood his beautiful robotic “wife,” which had only just arrived from the online store in Taiwan, where he had ordered it using a credit card he found in his deceased father’s belongings. The robot wasn’t fully assembled yet, as it was being delivered in two separate shipments, but all that was missing was the clothing, and he didn’t see why that was necessary. He named the robot “Mellow Yellow,” because “Orange” was already taken.
    Realizing that the minions down there were too far away to read his little thumbs, Stubby had also hired an interpreter who could read his thumbing and shout it out to the crowd. She was a large gray toad named Sally, who had been inadvertently brought back in a burlap sack by one of the raccoons delivering snakes for his previous enterprise. As he couldn’t fathom a market for toad oil, Stubby let her live under the shed where the urine sponges were stored in exchange for helping him wash his backside when he was in the tub looking at the pictures in comic books.  Over time, she showed a proficiency for thumbversation and readily repeating, with her mouth, the lies he told, without reservation or fear of any perceived consequences from any make-believe higher authority. In other words, she was a proven, unabashed liar. This, of course, made her a valuable tool in Stubby McDonald’s arsenal.
    So, Sally stood on his right as he began to thumb his “stub speech,” shouting down to the crowd, verbatim, what became known as the famous “Geriko Address:”
    “My fellow Gerikuns,” he began, “As you are aware, I am offering my services … my unique abilities, my beautiful Mellow Yellow – the naked robot over here - and my ridiculous, self-made wealth, to serve as your mayor. Obscene wealth. Obscene, obscene wealth. For too long, the great, great city of Geriko – and it is great, isn’t it? Fabulous! – has been overrun by hordes of raccoons looking for a free ride. We let them do our labor … our heavy lifting; our ditch digging; trash hauling; orange picking, our brick toting, and they have the audacity to ask for payment in return… to demand payment!  They are bandits and thieves and they smell pretty funny, I tell you. But I have nothing against the raccoons. Ask any of them and they’ll tell you that I have been very good to them. Very good. They love me, and they love my family! We even let them build this very tower where I stand now.  But for us to…”
    “We had to!” shouted a voice from the crowd below.
    “What’s that?” Stubby turned to ask Sally who had so rudely interrupted him.
    “We had to build the tower,” the voice shouted again, “Your father was going to have us made into frontier hats if we didn’t do it! And, still, nobody has paid us for the work!” The three-legged raccoon known as “Tripod,” had achieved somewhat of a reputation as a spokesman for the raccoons. Stubby spotted him in the crowd.”
    “Oh, it’s you!” Stubby thumbed and Sally shouted.
    Stubby attempted to put one of his hands behind his back to mock Tripod, not realizing that his thumbing system didn’t allow for doing it with only one hand. In a moment he regained his train of thought and continued, “Always hobbling around trying to make trouble aren’t you? This is exactly what I’m talking about folks. It’s 99 percent of raccoons like this that give the rest of them a bad name. Bad name. They come here, live in some pretty nice buildings, I tell you; eat our food; breathe our air; and always complaining about how bad they’re being treated. Poor, poor raccoon! Poor, mistreated raccoon!”
    Tripod interrupted again, “The McDonalds tore down our houses, which they had made us build; you made us build the hotels we live in, and then raised our rent; and made us build your ivory tower; and none of us ever got paid a single orange for doing it! I even lost my arm working on that balcony you’re standing on and I had to be tended to by my family because you wouldn’t allow me to use the hospital!”
    “Excuse me! Excuse me!” Stubby shouted. (Well, Sally actually did the shouting.) “Who’s giving this speech? Is it you? No! It’s me! You got a lot of gall to come around here trying to hijack my speech. That’s what you are, you’re a hijacker!”
    The crowd of Stubsters began to groan and shout, “Hijacker! Hijacker!”
    “That’s right, folks,” Stubby encouraged them, “He’s a hijacker. Somebody get him out of here!”
    Suddenly, four of Stubby’s biggest henchmen pushed their way through the crowd and grabbed the 3-legged raccoon and strapped him to a rail and carried him into an alley, away from the gathering.  Some of the other raccoons and a few of the Gerikuns followed them, at a distance. Then, amidst the rumbling of the crowd, Stubby continued.
    “Now, sorry about that interruption, folks, you know how they are! Trouble makers, every one of them. That’s why we need to renew our efforts to keep them out of Geriko. They are a security risk. That one almost started a riot, right here on Boardwalk! Who ever heard of a riot on Boardwalk? Was there ever a riot on Boardwalk before the raccoons started coming in here like this? You have seen what I could do for entertainment here, and you know that, as your mayor, it will be so much easier for me to fix this problem with hijacking raccoons. That will be easy compared to dwarf-tossing. I plan to do that by surrounding this city with a big, beautiful brick wall, made of bricks that I can let the city have for 98 cents on the dollar! That’s a huge discount, folks, and you shouldn’t overlook this offer. I’m doing you a favor!”
    “But, how are we going to pay for the bricks when the orange groves are dying?” someone shouted.
    “How are we going to pay for them?” Stubby echoed, “How are we going to pay for them? I’ll tell you how we’re going to pay for them. By selling oranges. Lots and lots of oranges. And we can sell them to those raccoons over on the other side of the wall! Because, I’m here to tell you, folks, I can make it rain. I can make it rain!”
    There was audible gasping and a general feeling of astonishment from the crowd on the street as Stubby took two steps toward the balcony rail. He reached under his big round belly and took hold of his tiniest digit. And the yellowish-orange rain showered down upon them. They were unable to see the miniscule device from which the “rain” originated, but it was wet – rather warm – and it delighted them immensely. They turned their faces to the sky and held up their children so that they, too, could saturate in the joy. And they danced, and sang the songs of their people.
    But Stubby hadn’t consumed enough orange juice at the time to make it rain for very long. When it stopped, he tucked “Little Stubby” away and, realizing he had made the sale, he announced “Elect me as your mayor, and I can make it rain every Tuesday. And Thursday, if you want! Whatever days you want, I can make it rain. But it takes a lot out of me having to do this. Takes a lot out of me. So I won’t be able to do it unless you elect me as your mayor.”
    With that, he grabbed his naked robot by her SD card slot and pulled her into the penthouse.
    Sally the Toad stepped up to the balcony rail and raised her hands, as if to quiet the celebration, and asked if anyone had any questions. Several hands went up and she pointed to someone – it was hard to tell whom, as she was 45 stories above them.
    As it turned out, the person who shouted the first question was a reporter from the Orange Juice Journal (OJJ), a subsidiary of the well- known and totally unbiased McDonald News Group, established by Stubby’s father some twenty years before.
    “How can you stand it, being so close to this man who is so wonderful? Do you consider yourself blessed?”
    It was what could be considered a “hardball” question, but Sally managed to find an answer. “Yes. Yes, she said. I believe I was called upon by our Creator to serve Gerikind  in this way.”
    Sally pointed down again and another reporter – this one from “ANA,” the “Actual News Agency” – shouted “We have a camera here with a zoom lens, and we could easily see that Stubby was simply urinating off the balcony. It wasn’t raining at all. It was urine. He just stood up there and peed on everybody! We’ll be more than happy to show you the footage, if you’d like to see it.  Would you like to comment on that?”
    Sally responded quickly, “I’m not going to dignify that ridiculous allegation with an answer. Your statement is made completely out of context, and I resent the fact that you were born.  May God have mercy on your soul.”
    “Context? What context?” the reporter shouted again, “We were right here watching him do it, filming the whole thing!”
    Sally ignored the question.  She folded up her binder and waddled off the balcony as the crowd cheered wildly. Because, frogs waddle when there’s not enough room to hop.
    And that was the day Stubby McDonald became an official candidate for Mayor of Geriko.

Chapter 4

    It was 3 am on a Thursday night, two weeks before the election.  A Stubby Staffer, who shall remain anonymous, heard some noise in the hallway of the penthouse and stepped out there from his, or her, room to find Stubby, wearing a diaper and a ten-gallon cowboy hat, riding a tricycle, bumping into the doors along the way.

    “Mr. McDonald,” the staffer pleaded, “please, let me help you back to bed. Can you not find the way?”  But, as the staffer said this he, or she, noticed the wet yellow stains all along the walls and realized that Stubby had clearly marked his path.

    “Of course I can find the way!” Stubby thumbed, “What do you think I am, a baby?”

    “No sir, it’s not that,” the staffer said, “It’s just that … oh, wait. I understand. You’ve been drinking, haven’t you?”

    “I do not drink alcohol!” Stubby screamed, as much as one can scream with one’s thumbs, “And I don’t do drugs! All that stuff is for losers!”

    “But,” the staffer asked, “What about those Orange Juliuses you’re famous for? You don’t sneak a little something into them? Everybody thinks you do.”

    “Absolutely not!” Stubby insisted. “I’m offended that you would even ask.”

    But still, he did seem to be high, so the staffer, trying to diffuse his growing hostility, said “I know that. I remember now. You’re a teetotaler! I’ve always intended to ask you, when I got the chance, how do you relax after a long day on the campaign trail? I’ve been having a little trouble sleeping, myself.”

    Stubby plucked a small plastic bottle from the leather holster he had strapped around his waist and blew some soap bubbles into the air.

“Cocaine,” he thumbed, “But I don’t think it’s gonna help you sleep! … Hey! I think I’ll take a bath. Come help me wash my back.” Then he peddled on down the hall.

    Following, the staffer asked, “But, sir, it’s three in the morning. Are you sure you want to take a bath right now?”

    Still peddling, without looking back, raising his little paws over his head so the staffer could see, he thumbed, “Less than nine hours to get clean. It’ll take you about that long. My advisers tell me they’re coming ‘round here at twelve with some Puerto Rican girls that are just dyin’ to meet me! Bringing wine. A whole case of it. I told them I don’t drink, but they’re bringing it anyway!”

    “Advisers? What advisers, sir?”

    He pulled over, huffing and puffing, and leaned over on the wall – like Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou.  “The ones there, in that room,” he thumbed, nodding toward a nearby door.

    The staffer was even more confused. “But nobody stays… that’s the music and theater room … oooohhh! I get it. Once you meet up with these Puerto Rican girls are you, by any chance gonna mess and fool around like you used to?”

    “How did you know that?” Stubby actually screamed with his mouth. “Is there a leak here? Is there a leak in my campaign sssstuuuchhhh” And then he puked.

    “Oh, no sir. No sir. Not at all! It’s just that … that’s exactly what I’d do, you know, if somebody came around with some Puerto Rican girls that were just dyin’ to meet me. I think it’s what anybody would do.  Just a lucky guess!  Here, let me call somebody to clean this up and we’ll get you down there for that hot bath.”

    Nobody knows what happened after that. The staffer’s notebook was found by a maid in his, or her, penthouse room a few days later, detailing the occurrence; but that particular staffer was never seen or heard from again.