Barry the Bleeder


“There is a reason for dressing well, namely that your dogs respect it, and will not attack you in good clothes.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

The first time I ever cut anyone while cutting their hair was on the first day of beauty school just after I got home.

“Wow, you’re a hairdresser,” my little brother said.

“Technically, not yet,” I said.

“Come on, cut my hair,” he said.

“Brad, I haven’t even taken a class yet. All we got was our stuff today, our kit, that’s all.”

“Come on,” he said, following me around the house like a dog.

I set him up, got my scissors, and before I knew it took the top of his ear off. He yelped and shouted and chased me around until he caught me and sat heavy on me.

I don’t know why he cried so much. I’ve cut myself worse since then, so much so that I’ve needed stitches. I’ve learned to pull ears out of the way. I bend them so I won’t cut them. Sometimes, though, when you’re cutting around any ear, you can get a little skin on the tip. A little nip is what it is. It’s not great, but it happens.

I don’t do it often, but when it happens, I clean it up and continue cutting.

The worst mistake I ever made was at the end of a long, long day. It happened when I mixed up my straight edge shears with my texture shears. Since I accidentally cut out a big clump of hair when I did it, ever since then I always look to make sure what pair of shears I have in my hand.

Texture shears cut the hair, but they don’t cut all your hair. It’s a thinning, blending technique. I grabbed the wrong shears. It was at the end of the night, we were talking, and I wasn’t paying attention. There wasn’t anything I could do or say. I fucked up. There’s nothing to be said after that.

As soon as I went to texturize her hair, and instead cut out a chunk of her hair, I said, “Oh, my God,” but there wasn’t really anything to say by way of explanation. I knew and she knew what had just happened. She looked at me and I was, “Yeah, that just happened.”

There’s no fixing a big clump of hair missing from the top of your head.

What could I say? I’m a brutally honest person. “I cut your hair off. There’s no denying it. This one’s on me,” I said.

She didn’t say anything, just glared.

“You don’t have to pay me. I’ll probably never see you again, anyway.”

I apologized again. She got up and left. I never saw her again.

There was no fixing it, not by me or anybody else, although I do a lot of fixing in other ways. People are always buying their Madison Reed, going down the road of we’re never going to salons anymore for hair color. That’s fine, but every other hairdresser and myself are saying, go ahead, see where it gets you.

“We’ll see you sooner or later,” we all say.

Girls see the ads on Facebook, believe every word of them, God knows why, go to the drugstore, put it in their hair, and end up with gorilla black. They act surprised and think it can be taken care of presto change-o.

“I want to go back to blonde,” they say.

“That’s not going to happen anytime soon,” I say.

“We’re going to have to go light brown, and in the process I’m going to damage the fuck out of your hair, and you’re going to have to work to maintain it. It’s a whole process.”

They have to spend the whole day at the salon to get the repairs done, have lunch, have dinner, bring something to read, because I’ve got to bust through the store bought stuff, the gorilla black they poured on their heads, because now you wish it was back to normal.

I’m sorry for their loss, for the golden color that’s gone, but they are going to be black for a while. What were you thinking of in the first place?

Sometimes people bring me pictures of what they want to look like. And sometimes I have to tell them it isn’t going to happen.

“You have frog fur for hair,” I say. “You have three or four hairs on your head and you want me to make you look like the full voluptuous head of Kardashian? What color in the sky do you think it is that you think this is going to happen to you today?”

Sometimes it hurts to hear me, but brutally honest is the way I am.

The most blood I ever drew was almost no blood at all, which was how Barry became known as Barry the Bleeder. His sister and mom still come to the Kameryn Rose Salon to get their hair cut, but Barry moved to Florida. They love me and I love them, but Barry passed out once when I was cutting his hair when we all worked at the Revelations Salon.

I was doing a snip around his ear, and I pinched it a bit. He didn’t even feel it at first. I went over to the other side of his head, came back, and saw there was a little trickle of blood.

“Oh, I gave you a little nip,” I said.

I wiped it up with my hand towel. He looked at the blood on the towel. He stood up, all six feet of him, took another look, and went down. He fainted.

“Oh, for God’s sake, get up,’ said his mother, who is a nurse, and who was sitting beside us.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “I hope he’s OK. I don’t think I can pick him up.”

He was a teenager, but he was a big kid.

“I’m so embarrassed,” she said. “Get up, get up!”

“Oh, my God, I just made your kid faint and you’re embarrassed?”

“He’s ridiculous,” she said. “Just ridiculous.”


Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.


So Done With It


“You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, ‘Wow, you’re right! I never would’ve thought of that.’” Dave Barry

One of my girlfriends, Dee, and I went to the Blossom Music Center to see “Tommy” towards the middle of summer. It was a great show. Blossom is an outdoor amphitheater in Cuyahoga Falls, about 45 minutes from downtown Cleveland. The pavilion seats about 6,000 people and the sloping lawn seats about 15,000 people. There were lots of people at the show, for sure.

After we parked we had a long hike to get to the general admission lawn. Dee was on her phone every couple of minutes. She finally took her eyes off of it when we went through the turnstile.

“You’ve thinned down,” she said.

“I’ve been walking since spring, all summer, five miles a day. I got up this morning and did my five miles,” I said.

“I’m fat,” she said, and started to cry.

“Don’t cry,” I said. “It helps to watch what you eat and exercise. Why don’t you walk with me?”

I invited her to Lakewood Park, one of the places I walk. She walked with me and we talked about her diet, but every few minutes she stopped to get on her phone.

“You need to step it up, Dee. Put that phone away.”

“I can’t do that,” she said.

“OK,” I said. “You dabble on that phone, do whatever you want. I’m going to keep walking.” I walked away.

The next day she sent me a text.

“It’s not what I eat that makes me fat.”

“Oh, really. What makes you fat?”

“It’s my hormones and my thyroid.”

“What about all those key lime pies? Don’t they make you fat?”

“I only told you about the pies because I need support.”

The next day she sent me a text about hypothyroidism. The day after that she sent me a text about how over-exercising can make you fat. I lost it. You know what, here comes a truth bomb, and a couple of other bombs besides that.

“What the fuck are you doing? You are on the internet trying to find every excuse for eating pies and for not walking. That over-exercising, that’s for triathletes. Neither of us is ever going to over-exercise. I don’t want to hear your stupid excuses. They’re all bullshit and I don’t like bullshit.”

I was sweating as I was texting her. She was making me have a stroke.

“Dang, you didn’t have to go off on me!” she wrote back.

“I kind of do! I’m not going to sit here and listen to you cry and bawl and hate your life. It’s hard to listen to as a friend. It hurts me to see you like that, and then you tell me somebody brought in more cake and you ate it all. But it’s still not the food! Either you watch what you eat and you get up, walk and sweat, get home, take a shower, fix your hair and make-up, otherwise don’t tell me anything, I don’t want to know.”

She didn’t talk to me for a week

“She is reminding me why I hang out with dudes,” I told Brian. “It’s all drama. Oh, my God, sometimes I just hate women.”

Not all of them, of course.

I called Lisa, another one of my girlfriends, who gets me. I hadn’t talked to her in three months, but when I called and asked if she wanted to go to the beach, she said, “Yeah!”

“Perfect,” I said.

I called Dee.

“I called Lisa about going to the beach. Do you want to go?”

“Well, I don’t know. Is Lisa going?”

“Yes, but what the fuck difference does that make? Are you coming?”

“Do you have to go get her?”

“Yeah, you know she doesn’t have a car. Do you have a problem with that?”

Why am I arguing about this, I thought.

Dee didn’t show up. She had her tantrum. You know what, I thought, I’m not dating you. I don’t have to answer to you. I don’t owe you an explanation. I don’t have to put up with your bullshit. You make it into a drama, but I got no time for that.

The next thing I knew I got a nasty horrible message from Lisa, not going to the beach Lisa, but another Lisa, about what nasty horrible friends Brian and I are, that we didn’t plan a 50th birthday party for her.

Even though I take care of a guy living in my basement suite who’s only got half a brain, even though I take care of my mom who has got Alzheimer’s Disease, even though I take care of eight dogs, and even though I work full-time. Even though my plate is full.

I got pissed off.

“Maybe a little head’s up would have been nice, Lisa. I’m turning 50. Let’s do something. Not a problem, let’s plan something.”

“I don’t want to see you guys again,” she said.

Where were you for my 50th?

Where were you for the other Lisa’s 50th?

Where were you for Dee’s 50th?

“I just thought you guys were my close friends,” she said.

“We invited you to all of those birthday parties, but you never showed up,” I said. “You always had your excuses. You never showed up.”

Her big reason to kick me out of her life was her boyfriend, who is an atheist.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to friend you on Facebook,” he said.


“I just don’t believe in God.”


“And I don’t want to offend you.”

“I’m cool with that. It would probably be me who offends you.”

I have no problem going to people with the truth. If they don’t like my truth, which most atheists don’t, they’re not going to offend me. I feel sorry for them that they don’t believe in a loving kind God.

I would rather go through this life believing there is a God and finding out there wasn’t, than the other way around. I’m usually nice, but I’m always truthful. Everything that I said to Lisa and her boyfriend was blunt, but honest.

It didn’t matter She got rid of me because of her boyfriend and her birthday party.

OK, bye, have a great life.

So done, so done.


Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.


Starting A Riot


“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.”  M. K. Clinton

This morning I got up and searched for my glasses, but I couldn’t find them. Wait a minute, I thought, you don’t wear glasses anymore. Hey, I can see the alarm clock.

It’s so weird. When I went in for eye surgery the guy there told me I was literally off their eye charts.

“What do you mean by that?” I asked.

“We only go down to a minus 16. You’re at a minus 17 and a minus 19. I don’t know if we can get you to 20/20 vision. You’re kind of legally blind.”

“Yeah,” I said.

After surgery on the worse eye I got to minus 1. The other eye is going to be even better. No more contacts and no more glasses for me. To not have to wear them on vacation all the time is going to be great. I won’t know what to do with myself.

Putting on a new pair of glasses is a way to transform your look, just like a new hairstyle does, but it gets old after doing it your whole life. Although they can be useful, like when you don’t like the looks of something. You can just take your glasses off.

“You’re too young to have cataracts,” the eye doctor said.

“My eyes have always been forty years older than me,” I said. “My whole life, they’ve always been old.”

I still have a high risk for detached retina, but that’s something you can’t fix. You just have to wait for it to detach. They say it’s not if your retina will detach, but when. I’ve gotten to be very educated about the signs of retinal detachment, especially since it already happened to me once.

I had a macular hole in one eye, and now it’s cataract surgery. It’s crazy, but that’s life. In a way I feel lucky that I got cataracts when I did. Now I have 18-year-old eyes. I’ll take that.

Everybody is telling Brian, now that she can see you, dude, she’s going to dump you. I can’t see that happening, since I like what I see every day.

Brian and I were on a walk with Jackson and Baby, two of our dogs, when we almost started a riot, a racial war, at the end of our street. At least, we thought we did. It was bad, anyway.

We had Jackson on a leash, but Baby, who’s sweeter than anything, no matter that he’s bigger than anything, was walking without a leash. It didn’t matter. Baby doesn’t do anything to anybody.

Jack is a Blue Nose Pit who is a very active dog. You have to keep up with him. He needs playtime and exercise, so we walk him, take him to the park, let him run around. Sometimes he looks goofy. Sometimes he looks intimidating. He’s smart, above all, eager to please, trains quickly, the best dog there is.

But, when he’s on the street we keep him on a leash.

Baby is a Leonberger, a giant dog, calm and steady, loving and steadfast, social and confident, although Baby is a little more on the shy side, but friendly and easygoing. There is no need for Baby to be on a leash on the street.

We were walking one way when a black woman went driving past us the other way. There was a red light at the corner. She stopped, and when we got to the corner, she rolled down her window and yelled.

“You need to put yo dog on a leash!”

“Thank you, have a blessed day,” said Brian.

She wouldn’t let it go. She kept screaming out the window, even though she’s in her car, going the opposite way of us, and we’re on the sidewalk.

What the hell?

We kept walking away.

“Have a great day, God bless, goodbye.”

Then the guys at the bar we had just walked past, who were sitting outside, and who had petted the dogs when we went by, started laughing and hooting. She pulled around at the next corner and got out of her car. The next thing we know a cop car pulls up.

“I’m afraid of dogs,” she said.

“You weren’t on that side of the street, where they were,” said the policeman. “Besides, you were in your car.”

“Those dogs need to be on a leash!”

Brian and I kept walking, around the block but on our way back we saw more blue police car lights flashing. “What the hell is happening?” I asked Brian. As we got closer we saw the lights were flashing in front of the bar.

“It can’t be that we started a racial war.”

In the end it wasn’t that, at all.

Some idiot had been pulled over on the highway, except he kept going until he was finally pulled over in front of the bar. There were kids in the car, there was a baby in the car, there was some kind of problem with the baby, and there were all kinds of cop cars there on the road.

Holy shit! I was so glad we hadn’t started a riot. All because our dog wasn’t on a leash, our Baby who is the gentlest scaredy cat dog.

We couldn’t believe it when the woman in the car turned around and parked. She had to get her two-cent’s worth in. Whatever happened to a penny for your thoughts before expressing your thoughts? Too many people are comfortable with their opinions without the discomfort of thinking them through. She was one of those people.

“You’re not even on our side of the street, much less walking,” I said. “You’re in a car going the other way of us. But, thank you for your information about leashes.”

She wasn’t somebody who recognized sarcasm when she heard it.

“You need to go your own way,” I said.

Some people just have no sense.


Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

Cracking the Corn


The pony run, he jumped, he pitched, he threw my master in the ditch, Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care, Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care.” American Folk Song

When Lynn told Jimmy she had called the police, he went right out to his pick-up truck and started cleaning it out, all the paraphernalia and drugs, especially the crack. He took it all into the house and hid it. Afterwards he couldn’t remember where he had put it.

“Lord knows where!” he said. He was so mad about it he could barely talk, which for him is mad, since he talks one hundred miles a minute.

They had gotten into an argument weeks before and Jimmy had left, going to work in Pennsylvania. He is a heavy machine operator. When she called him he ran back to her. It wasn’t what he thought it was going to be.

“Do you know you could put me back in prison?”  Jimmy said to Lynn when the police came.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to, but my lawyer said I had to.”

She was already regretting it.

The police put Jimmy in handcuffs.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” said Jimmy. “What are you arresting me for?”

“You stole that pick-up truck outside,” they said.

“That is bullshit,” said Jimmy. “I’ve been making payments to her for it. I have proof it’s my truck, believe me. I was just in Pennsylvania with it. She was fine with that. I can show you all my text messages, and she always says, your truck, your truck, not her truck.”

“Let me see those text messages,” said one of the policemen.

He went back to their squad car and when he came back he gave Jimmy his phone.

“It’s his truck,” said the policeman to Lynn. “That’s what you’ve been saying in all your text messages.”

They took the cuffs off. They had to work out a few more things, Jimmy told me, but they finally drove away.

“You fucking called the police,” he said to Lynn.

“We can work this out,” she said.

“There’s no working this out,” he said. “You ruined everything.”

“No, Jimmy,” I told him later. “You ruined everything by going out and having a crack weekend. Maybe you shouldn’t have been that stupid.” He didn’t like that. “Don’t blame her because she called the cops. Yeah, it’s a crappy thing to do, but it gets to the point where you don’t give people too much choice. It’s always your way or the highway, and if they don’t like it, they can go, so, honestly, I can see where she’s coming from.”

He got a written piece of paper from her, signed, stating, yes, this is my truck, in my name, but I have given Jimmy full power over it.

He’s still paying her. “I’m not going to go back on my word,” he said. “I’m never going back to her, either. She ruined everything.”

He was driving., on the phone. I asked him where he was going. “I packed all my shit and I’m going to Colorado,” he said. His kids live in Colorado. One of them is a Marine. The other one wanted to be a pilot, but his eyes are bad. He’s still floundering.

“Are you high?” I asked him.

“I don’t want to answer that,” he said.

“You’re a special kind of stupid,” I said. “Getting high and drunk and driving, putting yourself and others in jeopardy, you selfish bastard. What’s wrong with you?”

“They can’t nail me. I’m not drunk enough.” He had gotten the taste back for drink and coke.

“Your husband was an addict,” he said.

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

“He’s fat, too.”

“What? Are you fucking two?”

“He replaced drugs with food.”

“I have no idea why you’re bringing Brian into this. And he’s not fat, not by far.”

“Don’t you dare defend him,” he said. Then he hung up and blocked me

He unblocked me a few days later. I sent him a text.

“This friendship has reached its conclusion. There’s no room for it to grow.”

A few weeks later I got a letter in the mail. It was addressed to Jimmy. He lived in our house for part of a year, getting back on his feet. Some of his mail was still being delivered to our address. He never bothered going to the post office to set up a forwarding address.

He doesn’t want to hear how he used Brian and me and never paid us back for all the stuff we paid for while he was living in our house. He doesn’t want to recognize we took him in when no one else would, fed him, clothed him, and got him on his feet. What we got in return was not even a thank you.

Inside the oversize letter were his heavy machinery training certificate and new membership card.

Jimmy is famous for ignoring people, but I texted him about the letter.

“I got your laminated stuff, where do I mail them to? If I don’t hear from you, they’re in the trash.”

He sent me his new address right away.

We’re still friends on Facebook. He posts things about me, playing the victim.

“When people throw you out of your life” are the kinds of things he posts. He’s become a drama queen. Get off your high horse! That’s what I should post.

I admit when I’m wrong, and I would say to Jimmy, don’t be a dick your whole life. I don’t know what to do with him. He wants to go around pretending he never does anything actually wrong.

Jimmy and Brian were once best friends, but not anymore.

“I don’t care about me,” he said. “But you bent over backwards for him. I don’t ever want to see the kid again.”

But, if Jimmy is a bad penny, and bad pennies always turn up, like people say, I expect Jimmy will turn up again someday.


Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

Show and Tell


“There are times when even the best manager is like the little boy with the big dog, waiting to see where the dog wants to go so he can take him there.”  Lee Iacocca

Baby is my gentlest sweetest horse of a dog. Everyone loves him. Everyone is always, holy shit! Can I touch it?

“Of course.”

I love people’s reactions to Baby.

There’s a bar down in Tremont that let’s you bring dogs inside. It was a Monday night, I was bored, and so I called to double-check.

“Inside? Not just on the patio?”

“Inside,” she said.


When we walked in there was big table full of hipsters and plenty of people at the bar. Brian and I walked in with Baby and Veruka. It was like a record being scratched. Everyone turned and looked and before we knew it everyone was on top of the dogs. It was so cool. They were a big hit that night. Everybody loved them, as they should.

A sweet as Baby is, Veruka has a bitch attitude. Not so much in public, but private, yes. She’s had it ever since she was a baby. She’s a sweet girl, and she likes other dogs, but she’s a bitch. That’s how she got the name Veruka.

It’s Veruka Salt from Willy Wonka. “I want it and I want it now!” That’s Veruka, our other horse of a dog.

Jackie is our Pit Bull, who I love. Baby and Jack are always together. Veruka – not so much. Jackie’s got a friggin’ cute adorable face. He’s so kissable, which means I go up to him all the time and start smooching him.

I say, Jackie, let’s go kiss. He comes up on the couch and smooches mommy

Sometimes, though, he doesn’t want to. He’s, uh, what are doing, mom?

Underneath our living room couch seems to be his favorite place, the black abyss of lost toys for him. Even if there’s not a toy under there, he’ll stay in front of it all night long, believing and hoping there’s a toy underneath it.

He likes to eat the couch, too.

He loves the fireplace when it’s cold, wearing his pj’s. I took him over to my mom’s house in them. She laughed every time she looked at him. She thought his legs looked funny hanging out.

Sometimes Baby is too sweet for his own good. We had to separate him from our other dogs for a few weeks because they were beating him up so bad. He doesn’t fight back or stand up for himself. Hermie, who is a little stinker, will take food right out of Baby’s mouth while he is still chewing.

When we’re out in the backyard, and all the dogs are playing and wrestling out there, Baby will mind his own business. He lies down on the ground. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s giving little Hermie a fair shot at him.

Baby is twenty times bigger than Hermie when he’s on his own four feet.

“Watch out, here comes Hermie, take down!”

That’s what Hermie does all the time. Baby lies there and takes it. Sometimes when we come home we’ve got to run through the front door to save him. We can hear Baby screaming and crying in the backyard. All the other dogs are beating him up, even though he’s bigger than all of them by far, except Veruka.

They get so excited biting him.

“Ow, ow, ow,” Baby cries.

Even Pebbles, whose new name is Boulder, because she’s gotten so fat, messes with Baby.

We have to run from the front door to the back door asnd get baby inside so the other dogs stop beating him up. They call it Big Dog Little Dog Syndrome. There is really such a thing. Our vet says there isn’t much we can do.

I used to cut her hair when she was in high school.

“When I go to college I’m going to become a vet,” she said.” I’m going to be your vet.”

I was already rescuing dogs back then.

All right, I thought, but I’ll probably never see this kid again after she goes to college

After she graduated and became a vet she sought me out. She’s been getting her hair done with me ever since, and she’s been my vet ever since. We trade services.

We took Baby, Veruka, and Jack to the Brite Winter Festival, on the West bank of the Flats. There are bands on indoor and outdoor stages, fire and light dancing, ice carving, and plenty of food trucks. The festival was outside McCarthy’s and the Harbor Inn.

Everyone dresses warm because it’s February.

We were walking around the night we went when a guy came up to us wearing a crocheted Viking helmet and an attached Viking beard. The big dog was fascinated by the fake beard on the Viking’s face. Every time he moved, Baby’s head swiveled to follow the beard.

Finally, they got nose to nose.

We walked around and bought hot dogs for the dogs. We bring our own water for them. We couldn’t go seven steps before being stopped by a crowd of people. That’s why we bring the dogs out. We like to show them off. When people see them they just go in love with them.

Baby has his ways, though. If we are in one spot too long, he says ugh and starts to lie down,

“No, no, no, don’t lay down,” I say.

Once he lies down he’s a lost cause. I push him all the way over until he’s belly up, paws in the air, and rub his belly. Everybody else does the same. He gets lots of belly rubs.

He just lies there and takes it, all the belly rubs.

When he’s ready to go though, is when we’re all ready to go. He leads the way. He’s shy around people, except when he gets out in public. That’s when he turns into a people person and we follow behind.


Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

Jimmy Crack Corn


“When I was young I used to wait, on the master and hand him his plate, Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care, Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care.” American Folk Song

One morning my friend Jimmy, who had moved to Florida, slept in while his girlfriend Lynn let her dogs out. She has a big house, and since it is her own house and home, she was walking around naked. After she let the dogs back in she started brewing coffee, and the next thing she knew she heard a sound from the back of the house.

It wasn’t the dogs, although that’s where they were. She tiptoed to the back, peeked around a corner, and saw Jimmy’s dad stretched out on a couch with the dogs. Jimmy’s dad thinks he is Lynn’s boyfriend, even though he is in his 80s.

He got divorced because he thought he had a chance with Lynn. Holy crap! It’s a really sad situation.

She ran upstairs and came back in a housecoat. Jimmy was with her. She pointed at his father.

“Dad, you can’t do that,” he said. “You can’t just come into the house. Lynn should be able to walk around her own home however she wants.”

It’s creepy.

Jimmy was trying to be nice to his dad, letting him know in a nice way not to be the old creepy guy. It was still creepy.

“It’s really hard doing that, kind of freaky,” said Jimmy when he called me later.

It’s not like Jimmy’s dad is her neighbor. Lynn’s house is in the middle of 54 acres. She has barns and horses and fields. She’s a polo woman. She’s not thinking anyone is going to be walking into her house the first thing in the morning.

“My dad’s still obsessing on my girlfriend,” said Jimmy.

His dad doesn’t think he has an obsession, but he tries to see Lynn every day. It’s like somebody trying to put ketchup on everything. It’s insane.

“Tell your dad to stop marking his territory,” I said.

Everyone in the neighborhood thinks Jimmy’s dad divorced his second wife because he screwed Lynn. It’s a mess. His dad doesn’t even try to stop the talk because he’s proud of it, proud that people would think that, even though it probably never happened.

Jimmy’s plan was to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to get Lynn away from his father and away from the polo crowd. Lynn had wanted him to learn how to play polo, but Jimmy bought a dirt bike instead. He couldn’t get into the polo world. He wanted Lynn to stop playing polo, anyway, and recover from her injuries, and quit drinking, too.

This is from somebody who is a many times over recovering addict. One of his famous lines is, “I just threw up in my mouth.”

Even though Jimmy thought moving to New Mexico would fix all their problems, it didn’t. He’s a very controlling person. He and I once dated, but it didn’t work out because he’s so controlling, I’m controlling, and two controlling people just don’t and can’t go together. They can’t control themselves.

He thought Lynn should listen to everything he said and do everything he told her to do. He wanted her to take his advice because he knows everything and everyone else knows nothing.

“They’re all stupid,” he says.

A lot of what he told her was about what to do with her money, which she has a lot of, and which is all hers. She talked to her lawyer about Jimmy’s advice.

“No, don’t do that,” her lawyer said. “Don’t listen to that guy.” She followed her lawyer’s advice.

Jimmy threw a tantrum.

“You don’t want to listen to me, fuck you, I’m out of here,” he said, and stormed out.

The storming got Lynn down and she finally called Jimmy.

“I miss you,” she said “You’re right, I should have done everything you said.”

He ran right back to her.

“OK,” he said. “We can be boyfriend and girlfriend again because you’re going to do what I told you to do.”

They got back together, although when I heard about it I thought, how long is that going to last? Someone once said a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle. I could see Jimmy riding off into the sunset sooner rather than later.

They were in New Mexico then, but decided to move back to Florida, to her big house and her horses.

She bought him a pick-up truck. His was a piece of crap. He said he needed something nice. She had it put in her name because Jimmy has problems with the law, with banks, with responsibility. He paid her monthly for the truck. Even when they broke up again he kept making payments to her. He loves that truck.

Even though they had gotten back together, they fought all the time. It wasn’t long before they got into a big fight.

They fight, he decides, “Fuck it!” and takes off for the weekend. She spends the whole weekend trying to get a hold of him. He gets his high on, his drinking, gets his crack on, does whatever he needs to do, and finally calls her on Sunday night.

“I’m coming back,” he said.

“All right,” she said.

He drives back Monday morning, drives up the long driveway, parks his pick-up, and goes in the front door of the house.

“Hi,” said Lynn.

“Hi,” said Jimmy.

“I just want you to know,” said Lynn, “when I saw you pulling up I called and the cops will be here in a couple of minutes.”

“You called the cops?”

“Yes,” she said.

“You know they could put me back in prison, don’t you, put me there for a long time,” he said.

“My lawyer told me to.”

“Your lawyer, who the fuck is he, what does he know?”

“I’m sorry,” said Lynn.

“Sorry, like you can take it back?”

Jimmy turned his back on her, ran out the door to his truck, just in time to see a police car pull up.


Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.


Family Feud


“It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.”  Groucho Marx

A huge family war broke out when my mom fell and broke her neck.

Even though she isn’t supposed to be left alone, sometimes Pete has to go out for an hour, an hour-and-a-half. She fell and fractured two vertebrae in her neck. They took her to the Cleveland Clinic in Fairview Park.

She doesn’t know she fell. She doesn’t know her face is black and blue. She doesn’t know she’s in pain. Sometimes I think her Alzheimer’s has killed the pain center in her brain.

But the arm on the side she fell down on hurts. She might have tried to break her fall. Every time they take her blood pressure she cries, no, no.

When I found out what happened I was nervous and scared for her. She had a horrible trauma. I stayed overnight in the hospital. I tried to sleep, but sleeping in a hospital is a loose term.

The next morning bad news showed up.

The headline is my sister-in-law.

My siblings hate me. Last year they ripped me apart for posting a picture of me giving my mom a pedicure and us having lunch together. They said I was degrading and humiliating our mother. It’s all about them not having any pictures of her because they don’t do shit with her.

I didn’t acknowledge my sister or brother or his wife, my sister-in-law, at the hospital. I didn’t talk to them and I didn’t look at them. I just minded my own business, kept quiet. They can’t get mad at me for that, right?


After I left, Brian went to see my mom. Pete had gone somewhere, but left his phone. Something possessed Brian to look at it. There was a text on the phone.

“I had this horrible gut feeling come over me” Brian said. The text was from Satan.  He said he went ahead and read it.

“All it did mock you, make fun of you and bash you,” Brian told me. “And your stepfather agreed with everything,” he said. I felt something happen in my heart. I was so upset. It broke my heart.

Brian went off on Pete. “How could you? She’s given up her work schedule, half her salary, to come to your house and help you take care of your wife. She loves her mother.”

When I went back to the hospital I asked Pete, “Don’t you get tired of hearing the nastiness and hatred and mean things from them? Doesn’t it tire you out? Why don’t you shut it down?”

“I didn’t know I could do that,” said Pete.

“What are you, stupid?” I said. “I’ve been here for two-and-a half years helping you. Not only did you not support me, but you agreed with them.”

He must have told them what I said.

The next time I was at the hospital Pete’s phone rang. It was the sister of bad news, my sister. I could hear her. “I’m so sorry that she started all this drama. Do you want me to put her in her place?”

I blocked all of them on my phone. I unfriended all of them on facebook. It makes it easier to go and take care of my mom, knowing who I’m dealing with, knowing who my step dad is, who he thinks I am. We will talk about my mother, about Izzy, my dog that I gave them, about the weather. There’s nothing else to talk about.

Another day at the hospital, he was on the phone with my brother-in-law in Maine, who is married to Satan’s other cousin, my other sister. “Your sister had to have surgery on her hand,” he said. “I’m glad everything went well,” I said. There was no more to be said. I didn’t need to hear more about it. I refuse to talk to any of them.

God forbid that my feelings got hurt and I’m an emotional wreck. I have not had time to do anything for myself for a long time, yet my family has the audacity to get pissed off at me for getting upset about their hatred.

My brother is a paramedic and my sisters are nurses. They think they are way more valuable than me. They don’t do crap for my mom. They don’t do anything.

After my mom got out of the hospital she went to a rehab center. We were there on a Saturday when Brian said, “Oh my mom’s coming to town.”

“Dear God!” I said.

Since I started taking care of my mom my house hasn’t had any attention paid to it. Sunday morning Brian said he was going to church. “How can you go to church? This house is a mess!” He went to church, anyway.

When he got home the upstairs looked like a bomb had exploded. I had unloaded drawers, unloaded closets, and unloaded everything out of two rooms. “Holy crap!” he said. “What should I do with it?”

“I don’t care what you do with it, just get it out of here.”

He took everything to St. Malachi’s.

I did our bedroom, the downstairs, the dining room, all the drawers, and all the cupboards.

“She’s only staying for a few days,” said Brian.

“It’s a great excuse to clean the house,” I said. I looked at our oven. Is that the color it’s supposed to be? I turned on the self-cleaner.

Brian’s mom has never been to our house. We had cats for a long time and she’s deathly afraid of cats. We were at dinner once with her where they had cats and she literally jumped on Brian’s shoulders. WTF just happened?

With all the trauma, my mom getting hurt, my sisters, Brian’s mom coming, tearing my house apart, I decided to get my lips done. I do it every couple of years because I have no lips.

My lip girl is from Hungary and does permanent makeup. My lips were no lips, nothing, and they were slightly crooked. She evened them out. But, if she sticks that needle in my lips one more time, I thought, I am going to lose it, and I did. I burst into tears.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“No, no, it had to happen.”


Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.