All posts by thadd001

Count ’em Out

This is a story in my short story  collection “Thadd’s Twelve” available on Amazon for only $1.99.  You don’t actually have to have a Kindle device. You can enjoy all the books you want right on your computer by downloading the free Kindle Cloud Reader.

Count’em Out

by Thad Presley

“Get up,” the drill Sergeant ordered, cocking his head at the man on the ground. When he didn’t move, he turned his attention to the platoon. “We have a dead man laying here and all you can do is stand there. You,” he pointed to the Private on the first line, “what did you see?”

“I don’t know Sergeant.” Then, “Nothing Sergeant.”

“You don’t know?”  Like a bolt of lightening, it happened. The drill sergeant hit private Gerard in the stomach with the butt of his M16-A2 service rifle. “Now, what do you know about that?”

The recruit fell to his knees out of breath and looked up at The Ape from the ground and shook his head, “Nothing Sergeant. I didn’t see a thing.”

“And you,” The Ape shouted, looking at the other recruits. “Did any of you see how this forgetful puke lost his weapon and then got killed?”

A thunderclap of voices lifted into the air, “No, Sergeant.” “And what about Private Gerardo, here? Does anyone know what killed him?”

Again the voices thundered, “No, Sergeant.”

Everyone called Sergeant Perry “The Great Eight Ape” because of rumors that he’d received a section Eight and then got it over ruled only to return as an instructor. The rumors going around said he’d actually been found eating an Iraqi soldier during his days in the First Iraq War.

Everyone knew it wasn’t true, but the rumors persisted. All the recruits called him The Ape and although he was a hard and strange man many of the men were honored to be under his guidance. It made for great war stories if nothing else.

It was the fifth week of Basic and the platoon was in the middle of the Bivouac training where they were learning how to live without luxuries and to keep a camp in working order.

Missouri was known for it’s great expanse of woods and the fort they were located was often referred to as Fort Lost in the Woods. The day before was spent on the “old firing range,” which was not supposed to be used but The Ape didn’t care. He usually just trained the men how he saw fit and made men out of them in his own fashion. During the evening of the night before, the platoon displayed their weapon cleaning skills and made small bets, which involved betting their rations and duties to see who was better. Pvt. Ensign bet that he could clean his weapon blindfolded and was taken upon the bet by Pvt Greene.

Greene bet Ensign that he couldn’t disassemble, clean, and reassemble his M16 without looking. Of course, Ensign took the challenge and bet if he did it blindfolded, then Greene would have to take his Fire Watch for the next week. They both agreed and shook hands.

Everyone watched as Ensign began.

The evenings had become the most exciting time for the men. The drill instructors were starting to lighten up on the recruits. With the dropouts already sent home, the mood was serious but laid back. Ten minutes later, Ensign took off his blindfold and held his clean M16 out to Greene to be inspected. Just as he’d said, he’d taken apart every piece, just as he’d learned the second week in training, and cleaned it.

The day had been fun for everyone and all was well until the next morning when Pvt. Ensign realized his weapon was missing.

The Ape had not taken kindly to the missing rifle and out of frustration began to argue with the recruit. When Ensign smarted off, accusing someone of hiding it, the Ape took a swing. Little did the sergeant know, it was all just a gag orchestrated to make Pvt. Ensign look bad.

After his performance the night before, the platoon got together for a little fun and retribution. No one thought it was a big deal. Practical jokes were played all the time by the men. Two recruits devised a plan to steal Pvt. Ensigns M16 and hide it near the latrine.

It was Corporal Smith and PFC Greene who snagged the weapon. It wasn’t meant to hurt anyone, they just wanted to get back at Ensign for showing off, but things escalated faster than they anticipated and before anyone could say anything. The Ape had swung on Pvt. Ensign. When Ensign ducked the punch and then a few guys in the platoon laughed, the Ape started to walk away, but turned abruptly and hit him in the stomach with the butt of his rifle. He then quickly brought it up catching him square under the chin. Pvt Ensign fell to the ground and didn’t move.

This happened first thing right after everyone had lined up.

Everyone knew two other sergeants would show up within the hour to take over the platoon, but that seemed like a million years away.

As Pvt. Ensign laid on the ground, The Ape began to tear into Pvt Gerardo who stood beside him in line.

Growing irritated by the concern on Gerardo’s face, and at Ensign for daring to challenge his authority in front of his men, raised his weapon and placed the cold steel of the barrel in the center of Gerardo’s forehead. “Do you have a God, son?”

At first, Gerardo couldn’t speak and once he gathered his courage in the face of death, he opened his mouth and the words were interrupted by a stream of puke that erupted from his throat. “Holy mother of Crow, look at this dumb fuck puke on my boots.”

He grabbed the private by the collar and pulled him close.

The private instinctively pulled away from the Sergeant. “You know what you have to do now, don’t you. You’ve got maggot detail.”

Gerardo knew what the sergeant was going to do and he braced himself for what was to come.

“You’re a chicken shit, no brain, puke-eater and it’s time you do something for this Army.”

Private Gerard knew exactly what the sergeant was going to make him to do and he would have done anything to get the sergeant off his back. But, licking puke off his boots was too far. He couldn’t do it.

A wave of anger filled him. Why won’t anyone help me, he thought. “One of him and sixty of us,” he thought.

No one moved. They just stood there while Ensign was knocked out. And now, they do nothing. Reality set in. He wasn’t going to lick the Sergeant’s books. “I’m going to be killed,” he thought.

“Do it, puke-eater.”

Gerardo once again gathered his courage. “I have a God, Sergeant.”

“You do? Great. So do I.”

“But,” Gerard was shaking so bad he felt his chin quivering. He had to focus to keep his teeth from clashing together. “I try to do what my God desires of me.”

“Oh, for Crow’s sake, don’t give me that crazy religious nut shit. I can see it now: Private Jesus Freak sent home on a medical discharge. “You trying to act crazy with me, Private? You want to clean this Army up and make us all PC and lovely, right?”

“No, sergeant.”

“I think you do. I think you have a big plan on how you can make my Army a better place. Well, I’ll give you a chance to show me what your worth. You want a nice, pretty, clean Army? Well, you can start by licking Uncle Sam’s boots clean.” The sergeant looked at the other soldiers. “What do you think men?” No one moved a muscle. They didn’t want the man in their face. “If he cleans up the mess he deposited on Uncle Sam’s beautiful pair of boots, maybe we can let him live.”

The private looked down at the boots.

“That’s right maggot. Get to work and you can live to fuck up another day.”

“You won’t shoot me.”

“What’s wrong with your ears, Private. Let me tell you in another way. Do it now.”

Private Gerardo held back tears welling up in his eyes. He fought desperately to hold a straight face. But, it wasn’t going to last long. His emotions were under too much stress. The only way to get this over with was to do it. Just lick the puke up. After all, it was his own. He could do this. He was a soldier. Slowly, he got down on his knees and started to bend over the right boot.

Then, The Ape kicked him in the chest, rattling his head. It hurt so bad that Gerardo thought it broke his sternum. “Do whatever you got to do, private, but get to licking, right now. Them boots better be in parade condition by my count to ten.” He looked at the platoon, “Count ’em Out.”

Slowly the dry tongue of private Gerardo came out of his mouth and stretched toward the black, polished shoe of his sergeant. “One…” The men began in unison,  anticipating the first lick. The Ape, held up his hand and stopped them.

“Come on puke-for-brains, get in there. I want to see you licking that boot the way Jerry’s licking your girlfriend’s twat. Clean that Crow-loving boot. You’ve only got five seconds.”

Then, in a desperate attempt to get out of the situation, he started licking the boot.

“One,” the men counted.

Gerardo just did it, fast, not thinking.

“Two, Three…”

The cooling puke entered his mouth and he swallowed it.

Luckily it was mostly tasteless with a bitter after taste that only barely burned. “You disgust me.” The sergeant yelled, taking a step back and look down on the private as if he was seeing an alien slug for the first time.

“Get on your puke eating feet.” The sergeant was now getting on a roll. “We have a real, honest to God, puke eater here. Not in all my time, not in all the holy time of the immaculate Army have we ever had a puke eater in these hallowed ranks.”

The sergeant walked back and forth in front of the men who were still lined up and standing at parade rest. They had been formed up for nearly an hour now and they were all looking for the jeep that would herald the arrival of the two relief sergeants.

“As you all know, we don’t have much time. I want to know what is happening to this world. Terrorists, sympathizers, sleeper-cells, God knows what all. I could say a lot more, but I do not use derogatory
names. Because most people are good people. Most people are not puke eating, shit for brains.”

The platoon of sixty men waited to see what the sergeant would do next.

“What should we do? Do you want him watching your back when the chips are down? Do you want him walking the perimeter when you know all he thinks about it slurping puke?”

The men give a sloppy, “No sergeant.”

“You know that this maggot is going to run to CO and rat on us. Rat on you!!” The Sergeant let this sink into the heads of the men. “That’s right, he’s not going to tell on me. No, cause he can’t hurt me. He’s going to say ‘THEY made me eat puke.’ Well, do you believe that? Can anyone make YOU eat puke?”

There was another, “No, Sergeant,” and this time it had grown in strength.

“Hell, no, they can’t. There ain’t a man in this world that could make ME eat puke. I’d rather die than be a puke eating maggot. But, you were witness to this. You watched as this maggot licked puke and swallowed it. But, I tell you now, he’ll say to Captain Barrett. Through his sobs, he’ll tell them and swear that YOU let it happen. Both of these numb skulls aren’t worth the time it’s going to take to bury them and yet here we stand wasting the day on them. Private Dumbass Number One got himself killed by threatening and then attacking a killing machine known on this base and around the world as Section Eight. That’s right, I know all about my little nickname. But, Private Puke Eater here didn’t learn anything from his battle buddy’s stupid mistakes. He wanted to dance on the mine field that just took a life. He will now be dealt with in the same manner.” The sergeant wait a beat and began again, this time addressing the men eye to eye, one at a time. “But, it’s not ME who will suffer. To be honest I wouldn’t mind a vacation. It’s YOUR asses that are on the line. Do you want a puke eater protecting your six out there when the shit hits the fan?”

“No, sergeant.”

“Then, who wants to do something about it?”

Silence.

“Are you puke eaters?”

“I’ll do it.” Corporal Hicks, from Knoxville, who the Sergeant called Hicksville, stepped backwards, ran to the end of his rank and then around to the front.

“Good, at least we got one set of balls between the fifty-eight men standing here.”

“About to be fifty-seven, sergeant,” Hicks said.

A smile formed on The Ape’s face. “Then, get to it.”

Hick’s wasted no time in attending to his duty. “Turn around, Gerardo.”

“No, shoot him in the gut Private.”

“Sergeant, this puke eater does not deserve to be shot in the front. He is a coward and should be killed as one.”

“God Damn it, Hicksville, I do the thinking around here. Now do it the way I want you to do it or step back in line.”

“Yes, Sergeant.”

Corporal Hicks shouldered his M16-A2. Then, he lowered the weapon. “I can’t do it, not with him looking at me.”

“Then get back in rank, maggot lover.”

The Corporal Hicks turned and started back into line, but he had a change of mind. “Sergeant, I want to do it. I have to do it.”

“Well, get back here and do it this time. We’ve got a day to build and it’s getting late.”

At that moment, a shot rang out and Section Eight the Great Ape dropped to his knees.

The platoon looked at Hicksville as he lowered his weapon. Blood bubbled from The Ape’s mouth, but he still spoke a few last words. “This Army is going to maggots and puke eaters and…” then he slumped and died.

A hush went over the men. It was like the flame in their souls went out. Gerardo dropped to his knees and put his head on the ground. He couldn’t believe he was alive.

“Everyone get ready to go back. I want Gerardo to follow me.”

At this, the men, gave a weak, “Huaa!!”

Hicks called a medic and then put in a call to the MPs so they could come out and process the scene. He spoke to Gerardo after he hung up. “I want you to tell them exactly what happened here.” Gerardo started to talk, but Hicks held up his hand. “Don’t worry about me. I have a God too. I spend most of my time in this Army ignoring my morals, but I couldn’t ignore them this time.”

“Thank you.”

“Yeah.”

Seconds later, the relief sergeant’s pulled up in a jeep along with the driver. They unloaded and began asking questions.

Unite

In 2012 I became the bass player for the band Minor Nine. We never got famous, but we made an album in 2013 and had a blast playing shows. For almost three years I practice Saturday and Sunday and played almost 200 shows. During our time together I learned a lot about music and a lot about getting shows.

It hard to keep a band together. Everyone has a role to play as a member of the band, as well as a life they much continue to live at home. The two lives are often at odds, leaving hard choices to be made weekly.

We did however create amazing music. We had a diverse group of musicians. Even though there was only 4 of us, the age range when we started was 13, 28, 34, and 60.  We all had different backgrounds and somehow it worked magically. With a set list of 30 originals we set out across Tennessee and played show after show meeting really cool bands and even cooler people. One show we played with Swedish metal band Avatar is my claim to rock and roll fame.

I quit the band for many reasons. I suppose the biggest reason being the band falling apart from the inside. I had better things to do than watch it crash, so I took my gear and went home. Simple as that.

I created a few videos for the music we created.  The one that follows is “Unite.”  The words came from a poem I wrote years ago and the music and voice is Rex Green. He and I have a special ability to create music. I don’t think I’ll ever meet another person like him and I’m sorry we aren’t working together all the time.

At one time, it was amazing how we were climbing in the scene. Now, I’m not talking about fame and fortune. I’m only talking about the little music scene in Knoxville, Tennessee.Yeah, I know it’s not Long Beach, but it was our patch of the scrap yard and I enjoyed it.

The music in the video was created by Rob Ruddick, Matt Fahey, Rex Green and Thadd Presley.  I hope you enjoy.

 

 

Dear Michael

Dearest Michael,

I hope this letter reaches you. I have so much to be thankful for and everyday is a blessing. But, honestly, I am afraid I’ll not see you again.

I sewed up a deep wound today and this is how it went:

“Please hold still,” I told the patient nervously, knowing that he did not understand what I said. “If you keep moving this will not heal…”

“He does not care to heal.” The words came from an elder who stood behind me, watching me closely. The man wore a mask, as did the young man I operated on, and so far, he has been the only one to speak to me in English. “He only wants to fight once more before he dies.” The man on the table jumped as the needle pressed into his skin, jerking the needle from my hand. “To die on this table will endanger his life in Paradise, to have you touch him has made him unclean, that is why he cannot die. If he dies here he will certainly go to hell.”

“I’m doing the best I can,” I told the man, holding the needle close to ripped flesh, “but if he keeps moving he will certainly die here.”

At this point the man on the table passed out. Maybe from fear of eternal damnation, maybe from the loss of blood. His leader must have thought he died because he hit me with in the stomach with the butt of his rifle. I fell to the floor. Suddenly, angry words came from outside the room.

I hate to be telling you this, but I have to tell someone.

I am now directly in the middle of a holy war, although nothing about it seems holy. I knew where I was going to be before I came here, but I did not tell you the truth. I apologize for that. I told you I would be living in Jerusalem, but that is not where I went. Instead I went to a small town near the Syrian border because they needed doctors.

I am still at the school house, just like I said in my last letter. Remember, I told you about the children who were learning English and Bible scripture? That was true, but the children are no longer here. Only a small, rubble-filled building remains. The entire village has been abandoned.

Before the militants came, we had transformed school room into triage and another into a small operating theater. Doctors from the area came regularly to learn new procedure. As a result, many people were receiving medicine. Only now, it all seems pointless. All of our work has been reduced to smoking remains.

Don’t be mad, I’m so sorry.

We heard the explosions getting closer days ago.  We decided we would all go back to Jerusalem. I wanted to leave so bad and come home to you and the kids, but it all happened so quickly. Before we had a chance to pack, men arrived and began giving us orders. It seemed they only wanted medical attention, when we were taken hostage.

We are now trapped and the leader — I can’t spell his name — killed Steven and Matthew. He cut their heads off while they were still alive. I started crying because they were the only men with us and they beat me.

Now there’s only three women in our group and we are all Christian. It seems our captors have no conscience about what they do to us.  One minute they do not want to look at us, then their hands are all over us doing terrible things. Patricia has been wounded and won’t stop bleeding. I have tried all I can. I’m afraid she will die soon. I am the only surgeon left and I think I will be kept alive, but I do not know how long.

I’m sure this will be my last letter to you, my love. I don’t want you to worry. By the time you get this letter I will either be saved or dead. I need you to know that I am not afraid to die. I feel that I am doing God’s work even when I sew together the enemy’s wounds. I can feel mother’s presence all the time.

Please, give the children my love and tell them that I am with the angels. Tell them I am with grandma. Will you do that?

For now, I just am trying to think of my mother and how we used to stay up late and sew quilts for the homeless. Momma always told me I had the hands of a surgeon. When I graduated and began work at the hospital, she told me I could change the world with God’s guidance. Even now, I believe that is true.

Please dearest Michael, do not mourn me for too long. Your love is so strong and it has been my greatest strength here. Promise me that you will show another your wonderful love.

Yours forever and ever,

A Ghazal and a fun Haiku Chain

I often write poetry as a way to relax. This is a few poems I found that I’d written in 2008, back before I wrote Poetry Principia. They still make me smile and I hope they will you as well.  I know that Haiku are usually about nature. These are not, though they do reflect my nature.

The last poem is a ghazal.   I put an explanation of a Ghazal below from poets.org for those who are interested in poetry.

“The ghazal is composed of a minimum of five couplets that are structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous. Each line of the poem must be of the same length, though meter is not imposed in English. The first couplet introduces a scheme, made up of a rhyme followed by a refrain. Subsequent couplets pick up the same scheme in the second line only, repeating the refrain and rhyming the second line with both lines of the first stanza. The final couplet usually includes the poet’s signature, referring to the author in the first or third person, and frequently including the poet’s own name or a derivation of its meaning.

Traditionally invoking melancholy, love, longing, and metaphysical questions, ghazals are often sung by Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani musicians.”

  excerpt:  https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/poetic-form-ghazal


Fun Haiku

The Implant

the lines move faster
if you get the chip implant
you can get cash back


Therapeutic Reading

I’m going to read
sit back and relax to words
yeah that’s the ticket


Smart Cops

It was broadcast live
America’s Most Wanted
suspect got away


Cascading Cellulite

She sat before me
with her second set of thighs
cascading downwards

Birthday 2009

A new Lovecraft book
H.P. for my birthday rocks
and a movie too


She called me Stupid

I was called stupid
I ask dumb questions sometimes
if I need to know

Writing Caused This

A blog can hurt me
a comment can make me fly
writing incites both

Divorce

You’re my one and only
well, besides those few women
But, they mean nothing.


The Ghazal

“The Night I Write”

Sitting near the window, under the moon, In the light I write
Harvesting thoughts that form from dreams, during the night I write

It has been my pleasure to write about my life, an undertaking of soul
As it happens, my lines bright design illuminates the night I write

Dark characters do die too soon to be born alive once again to sin
and hide in the shadow and in the dens to survive the night I write

The village where I create my men and the wives they so love
comes ever so close to disaster within the darkness of the night I write

The men cry, “Thad, thou hast done ill and evil to us mere men.
”I have learned they deplore all the sins and despise the night I write.

Two Books from my past: “Sins and Tragedies” and “The Edward Ballaster Project”

Books come and books go, but the people you work with stick around in your head and sometimes you want to turn back time and work with them again. There are three who come to mind very quickly. I worked with them both on Sins and Tragedies and The Dark Fiction Spotlight. The three writers are Stacy Bolli, Stephen W. Roberts and JD Stone. This was the first anthology I was part of and it went together without a hitch.

I worked on a project that included many writers. There is a list of the names at the end of everyone who worked on “The Edward Balister Project.”  Take a moment to look them up and see what they are into now. I know I’m going to.

Here is the review of “Sins and Tragedies.”

Sins and Tragedies Reviewed by Charlotte Emma Gledson – Author of ‘The Lonely Tree and Other Twisted Tales of Torment’.

Sins and Tragedies will take you on a tragic voyage into the deep and twisted minds of four talented authors. This is a collaborative anthology composed by the staff members of The Dark Fiction Spotlight, bringing the reader twelve tales of trauma, terror, tragedy and torment.

Stephen W. Roberts, Thadd Presley, Stacy Bolli and JD Stone, showcase their talents by weaving morbid tales with bizarre and curious scenarios that will tantalize the reader, yet leave them unnerved.

Stephen W. Robert’s contribution to this collection feature, ‘A Voice Within’, ‘Rose’s Roses’ and ‘Clutch My Heart, Nevermore’. Each story is written with menacing grace, pain and trauma flowing naturally within every sentence. Stephen W. Roberts is a heartfelt and beautiful writer who targets your inner emotion with his pungent tales of dark personal horror and tragedy. ‘Clutch My Heart, Nevermore’ is a poignant account of a suicidal father, and ‘A Voice Within’ deals with a fatal car crash that takes the life of a young couple. Stephen writes with a graphic poetical approach, trickling the reader with empathy for each character that leaves a lingering shudder of intense sadness.

JD Stone pens, ‘Glass Atrophy’, ‘Phantom Weight’ and ‘Cursed Blessing’, all three written with vibrant horrific vocabulary leading the reader to experience the very essence of the story. With ‘Glass Atrophy’, one can be part of the sights and smells of an exotic yet squalid region of India, and then indulge in the graphic horror that soon unfolds. ‘Cursed Blessing’ tells of a rock band sharing a very dark bloody secret. JD Stone is a writer with a natural skill of the narrative, stained with a chilling brutality that will leave horror fans satisfied.

Stacy Bolli stories comprise of, ‘Momma’s Boy’, ‘Toilet Troubles’ and ‘Music Of The Swamp’. I respect the way Stacy is unafraid to venture into new territory for a female writer. ‘Toilet Troubles’ will leave you squirming and itching but also with an evil smirk on your face. ‘Momma’s Boy’ is a tale of a vampire hybrid that soon unearths his darkened past. With an ability to menace with her descriptive prose, she is a fine example of a skilful female writer within today’s horror genre. Stacy Bolli writes with conviction, wit and an understanding of the darkness that dwells within us all.

Thadd Presley’s, ‘The Treatment’, ‘Shallow Grave’ and ‘Halloween’ are vivid accounts on the depravity of human nature. Thadd writes with a passion and rawness that can be unsettling, perfect for the current horror genre. In ‘The Treatment’ the taboo subject of paedophilia is written with sensitivity, yet bringing home the true horror of child predators. With ‘Halloween’, domestic violence is portrayed at its very worse. A beguiling writer, Thadd leaves the reader wanting more, yet you are left reeling from his explicit and dynamic stories.

Reviewed by Charlotte Emma Gledson – Author of ‘The Lonely Tree and Other Twisted Tales of Torment’.

Transplant

Transplant

by Thadd Presley

She has no patience. Neither do I for that matter. Except that Love is something for which we all must wait. First, waiting all those long years to grow up, then waiting for that special someone to fall in love with, and if we are adults by this time, we wait respectfully for the divorce to be final, so life can begin. Some of us — some of them, I mean — don’t wait for anything. They uproot and trek to the love they’ve found and try settling, for some it works wonders.  Others, though, have a hard time of it. Like a patient suffering through a nightmarish fever dream, they cast about and say the wildest things, while their body rejects a much needed organ transplant. They can’t seem to hold onto anything in this new life. Everything they touch disappears, absolves itself back into the dream-foam from which they’ve constructed their life. Nothing satisfies these people. Things felt, tasted, and wanted only satisfies to the extent of reminding them that they are not happy. All this happens while the real world ebbs and flows around them, many wonderful things go unnoticed and people they know and have met don’t know what to do or how to help. Many are left wondering what the problem really stems from.  To the outside world, there is no pattern to latch onto: one day everything is good, the next day everything is bad. The ones who care the most often get upset by seeing a friend in such misery, but they go absolutely unnoticed by the one they deem most important. Yeah, some transplants just don’t take. But, she has no patience. Neither do I, for that matter.