Friday, October 13, 2017

The Rungs to Ascension

With the Quickness

Paint dripped from the pail. The paintbrush skimmed the surface of the ecru colored paint. Cary Murty edged the lines at the building in an adequate fashion. His apprentice, Lamar Givens prepared the mix of the ecru with an even whiter paint: ghost white. Murty motioned for Givens to retrieve something from the work truck.
“Hey, boy, go and fetch me that ladder,” Murty said.
Givens snapped to and obeyed the command with the quickness. He took out the ladder and proceeded back to the house to the wall where Murty prepared to paint.
“Hey, boy, go and get my blowtorch. It’s beneath the tool chest in the truck’s bay,” He said.

On the Rungs

Givens never hesitated to meet the request. He returned to the truck and unlocked the box which housed the blowtorch. He also eyed two pairs of goggles, an apron, and gloves. He extracted those items from their home and hustled back to the wall. Murty forgot about the paint and tended to the tool that could burn a hole through virtually anything.
“Boy, I need you to bring back my….”
“....Goggles, gloves, and apron. Here you go,” Givens said.
“Well, boy, you catch on quick, don’t you?”
Givens shrugged.
“Yeah, well, watch me work this. But stand back and put on….” He stopped.
Givens pulled out a pair of goggles and placed them over his eyes.
Murty marveled at this but didn’t speak it or show it. He just went to work.
He examined the ladder. His hands went over the rungs, the rails and each point where the ladder had been nicked or dented. He then donned the apron and mask and gloves and lit the torch.
“Stand back now,” he said. Murty ignited the flame and focused it on the rungs. He sharpened his gaze and steadied his hand. One by one, the rungs fell to the ground as aluminum nuggets in the dirt. Givens looked on with the blaze and the sparks illuminating his goggles. Bright yellows a few orange sparks and a consistent blue flame danced in front of him. Murty removed eight rungs of the ladder.
“There you go,” Murty said. “Now, go for it, boy.”
Givens removed his goggles and stared at the challenge ahead of him. He shot a glance back at Murty.

Higher and Higher



“Well, that ladder isn’t going to climb itself. And that wall needs paint. Are you with it or what?”
“But sir...I...How can I climb it without the lower rungs?”
“Boy, I’d imagine you had more brains than this. All you have to do is set yourself on that ladder and get in that window.”
Givens with a great deal of trepidation moved toward the ladder. The missing rungs made the ladder appear as a mouth with a eight toothless grin. He leapt into space trying to clutch that ninth rung. He failed.
“You won’t be able to get that rung like that boy,” Murty said.
Sweat beads eased their way across Givens’ brow. He dusted himself off and regained equilibrium. He slanted at an angle, picked up speed and jolted into the air and managed to at least clip the rung with his fingernail. He fell back to the earth, his wings singed.
“How am I supposed to get up that ladder? You just took off all the rungs. Now, how am I supposed to do that?”
“I don’t know. Maybe you can’t. That’s why I have arranged for you to learn from some folks who can.” He pulled out his smartphone and made a call. “Yeah, Jim it’s me. Send the over. Alright,” he hung up the phone.
“What would you like me to do Mr. Murty?”
“Just watch.”

The Tall Ones


Higher Up

Seven minutes later, a truck full of guys ranging from six foot to near seven feet tall pulled up to the house. Givens’ slight five foot eight frame could not compare with the men of greater height.
“Now, Casslet,” Murty pointed to a shooting guard. “See if you can’t show off your ups.”
Casslet took two steps and raised his hand as if he were about to slam a ball through the goal. He grasped the rung with effortlessness that astonished the women who had now gathered at the base of the house in need of renovation. In succession, the rest of the team latched on to the remaining rungs and hoisted themselves into the open window located in the center of the wall. They each climbed into the space and found stacks of money more rungs to the ascension.
Givens remained dumbfounded by what he had just witnessed. With all of his might he reared back to attempt again the unlikely. As he edged higher up he felt a tug at his waist. Murty pulled him back down to the ground.
“I can’t do it,” Givens exclaimed. “Without those rungs, I haven’t got the opportunity to lift myself up from my modest station.”
“Now you want to grow a brain. How else are you going to paint this wall? I’ve got no time for you if you can’t be like those ball players and bring yourself to the top of that ladder.”
His hands sullied by the gravel at the base of the house, Givens essayed yet again to scale the ladder and finish the paint job. But how? The task of just clenching a rung proved to be too much for the young man. Trials lead to disappointment and a poisonous taste crept in Givens’ mouth. He reared back, thrust his fist into Murty’s jaw, and knocked the man out cold. Givens’ then rifled through Murty’s pockets for the keys to the work truck. As he found them, the basketball players were just walking down the stairs with the wad of cash. Just as they were making their way down, they spotted Murty sprawled out on the ground. Givens stepped on the gas and shot off from the property. Three young women would inform the police of Givens’ doings.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Quiet Money

Height of Her Powers

   After the great fall from social graces, Melissa Danvers needed to lay low. Her offshore bank account in Belize amounted to a mere $25,000, a fraction of her multi-million dollar fortune. Her time in Delaware would be apt as she restored slowly and deftly the order to her finances, to her relationship, to her life. In particular, the property owner would need to recoup $100,000 relating to a lien that Melissa incurred as a result of not paying her for condominium in Newark, Delaware. Thought of at the time of being at the height of her powers, Melissa dominated the day time slot. She covered the big stuff. Drugs. Sex changes. She also interviewed those in the spotlight, from actors to dancers to athletes. Now, she couldn’t host a modest dinner party.

Entrepreneurial Endeavors

     In the hallway leading up to her luxury apartment, in danger of being foreclosed, Melissa walked past her doorman, Kenny.
      “Hey, Miss Danvers! You have a nice day now,” he said. And then he said with a huff,           “Cheap lady. Poor thing can’t help herself.”
     Like an opera singer preparing to impart an aria on a grand stage, so did Melissa ready herself for another shot at greatness. Diversification proved to be the driving force behind her investments. In her prime, she commanded a sneaker company, vodkas, a designer pump shoeline, a television production company, two dog training shops, and the crown jewel of her entrepreneurial endeavors, an investment in a chemical company on the outskirts of Wilmington, Delaware. For reasons that included a mishandling of funds to complete ineptitude, Melissa took losses on of the aforementioned enterprises, excluding the dog training shops. People love dogs. But at this point in her life, 42 and two children in their teens, she focused on rebuilding her once thriving businesses. Firstly, she would sit down with her former partner Tara Merton.

A Jar Full of Hope

The money be quiet now, but Melissa looks forward to making noise once again.
The money be quiet now, but Melissa looks forward to making noise once again. | Source

Shifted Gears

     The meeting place for the two businesswomen held a sense of melancholy as it represented the initial launch of Vody Vodka and Spirits Company, LLC. Amongst the wreckage, the pair sought to retrieve anything of value. Surrounded by flutes with golden champagne bubbling to the brim, the two ladies sat.
     “Well,” Melissa started. “I wanted to bring you here to discuss the percentage of the production company which was sold to the shareholders. I know that it wasn’t you who did it. It was N’Iesha. Whatever the press said, I always pulled for you, T,” Melissa said.
      “I know, Mel. But that percentage is gone,” Tara said.
      Melissa shifted gears. “At my highest, I was worth $75 million. Liquid,” Melissa said. “The helicopter. The executive spa treatment. All gone. That’s nothing though. Ty’Quan and Jazelle may have to live with their grandparents. You know since their daddy died. Chapter 7 seems like the most appropriate course of action at this point.”
      “I’m here for you. I know we’ve had our differences, but I realize that we made history together and why can’t we sit down like this and hash out our problems as ladies?,” Tara said.
      Melissa brushed a stray hair from her brow. She looked at Tara and sat straight up from the back of her chair. She said, “Business is beautiful….”
      And Tara said, “ With two beauties…” They both laughed, remembering the motto which they recited before inking beaucoup deals. Their split had actually been amicable, but the press wanted blood. Each tabloid and cable news network lambasted the duo’s dissolution and claimed that Melissa and Tara loathed each other. Their business termination became overshadowed by empty gossip and outright lies that did not correspond with what took place in reality. One held that Tara had entered a romantic relationship with Melissa’s husband Daniel Danvers before he lost his bout with brain cancer. Melissa never suspected Tara. Why would she? The two enjoyed nearly a decade of friendship (and business partnership) until is was revealed within the company that N’Iesha Gubb had embezzled monies relating to the MD Productions division of the brand that the two established. Now, all both ladies wished to do was clear up the mess and move on from the pain.

To Save is to Live

If only she had saved her money, she would still have survived the business setbacks that presented themselves.
If only she had saved her money, she would still have survived the business setbacks that presented themselves. | Source

Best Bet

     “Quiet money,” Tara said.

     Melissa sipped from her mimosa.
     “That’s my best bet, huh?”she said.
     “There’s real estate properties, laundry businesses, a tattoo parlor…” Tara said.
     “Well, you know that I’ve still got the two “Leashed Lovelies, right?” Melissa said.
     “People love dogs,” said Tara.
     “That’s fine, but I’ve been itching to do radio. You know something like the TV slot but this time delving into a more business and philosophy geared show,” Melissa said. “An Internet show where I would just crack the mic and discuss my personal fiscal issues and answer callers who can relate to the madness.”
      “I see your vision. When do you plan on going on this new adventure?” Tara said.
      “I’ve spoken with a few investors who’re eager to break ground in the radio sphere. I’ll do it during the morning rush hour and compete with Wim Timbers and Shelly Groves. With all that has happened between us, I should have a lot of material to dish out,” Melissa said.
     “If you can translate what you did on television to the World Wide Web, then I’m with it. It’s not as quiet, but I respect the hustle,” Tara said.
     “With the DoctorChemical venture being the most profitable undertaking, I may look into re-establishing my position in Wilmington,” Melissa said. “I’ve only got to finish a few credits at DIT and I’ll be on my way to being a chemical engineer.”
     “I think that you can do it,” Tara Said.
     “What a beautiful business,” Melissa said.
      The two women rose to their feet, shook hands, and left the restaurant with a renewed sense of not their net worth but their self worth.

The Teacher Teaches

May the Dollars Flow

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Refusal to See

Generals in their Masses

A collection of green, blue, and black uniforms crowded an oak table, replete with a water pitcher and glasses at the Pentagon minutes from Washington, DC and about two hours away from Delaware. The generals and admiral huddled around the table and discussed plans to implement project New Order to Limit Only Our Kills or NO LOOK.
“It’s only fair,” said Lieutenant General Pepys Vale. We must use this tactic to not only mitigate civilian casualties but to offer our troops the experience of not knowing when they will be attacked in the field.”

“Our fighting forces should know the pain of having a mother or infant mercilessly decapitated by artillery fire or a bomb dropped on their village,” Major General Miguel Acostas said. The aide replenished the water pitcher.
“We can’t blind them all. I mean we only incapacitate a few. We ought to pick the personnel with the highest physical fitness scores, rifle scores, and target the officers below the rank of major,” Brigadier General Terry Bernard said.
“The best research finds that the most effective procedure for eliminating the sense of sight is to administer sodium hydroxide or lye,” General Caron Mastiff said. The clock struck silently, 11 AM.

A Farewell to Arms (and Legs)

“Should arms and legs really be a priority? Could we break those as well? Maybe we should also destroy their capacity to hear. We could blast sound into their inner ears to do away with hearing,” Admiral Kyle Omar said.
Around the table, the men and woman shook their heads in agreement. “We could dub it Hearing and Limb Loss or HALL,” Brigadier General Winston Capstone said. Just outside the room, Senator Beth Mullish observed her notes. She had proposed the whole NO LOOK campaign but little did she know that Brig General Capstone would “one up” her idea. Back in the room, Maj General Acostas spoke up even more.
“Yes, it is true that we should win wars but not at the loss of innocent lives who don’t even know what they’re dying for,” he said.
“General Acostas, provides a keen insight into this matter,” Said Admiral Omar.
“I vote that some of us should undergo the procedure, which we have just discussed,” General Mastiff said.
“We really don’t need them to taste or smell, so the option ought to be open in crushing their ability to smell or smoke or taste MRE’s,” said Lt General Anna Cooley. “They might even volunteer for that,” he said. The room erupted in toxic chuckles.
“But our aim, our focus, our resolve ought to be on loving our enemy. He must feel that we are a welcome presence in his country. Now, of course we are tasked with the responsibility of destroying him, but as long as we do it out of love. Then it is alright,” General Vale said.

Minus a Limb

Without a leg, each man still perseveres.
Without a leg, each man still perseveres. Source


Just then, with a perplexed half-grin and raised eyebrows, General Charles Darren addressed the room. “But isn’t this all preposterous? I mean haven’t we done enough to not only aid and abet the enemy, but now you all propose to cripple our troops in literal fashion? What is wrong with all of you?” General Darren asked.
“General Darren, you are out of line and I suggest that you be court-martialed if you speak such treason again,” General Vale said, his face reddening.
“I’ll die before I let any of you implement these heinous schemes,” General Darren said.
“We must be certain that the NO LOOK and HALL Rules of Engagement are put into place, firmly. General Darren, you do side with us on this, don’t you?” General Acostas said.
“I can think of better things to do with my time than to concoct nightmare scenarios for our fighting men and women. I’m out of here,” General Darren rose to leave. Two MP’s blocked his exit.
“Why depart so soon, General? We’ve just begun. Now, we’re going to bring in the mother of all these ideas, Democratic Senator Mullish, of New Jersey. The entire room save for General Darren in the arms of the two MP’s rose to stand at attention as the senator entered.
“Well, I see we have a denigrator amongst the ranks,”Senator Mullish said with a wicked grin plastered on her face. “Your dissent is well taken, general,” she continued. The room full of top brass grumbled. “There, as you well know, is a chain of command and your voice might be heard as high up as your president. But we’re not going to get that far, are we?”
“Ma’am, I vote that General Darren be the first of us to undergo the NO LOOK procedure,” Admiral Omar said.
“That would be sufficient, Admiral,” Senator Mullish said.

High Up

These salty dogs are the best and brightest that the US Army has to offer.
These salty dogs are the best and brightest that the US Army has to offer. | Source

The Nucleus

“I’ll not stand for this. You’re wrecking our military. Have you no scruples, Generals? Admiral? You….,”General Darren turned to Senator Mullish with a scowl.
“That’s all well and good, General. But how about we bust you down to lieutenant and still have you receive the NO LOOK and HALL treatments. How’s that sound?” Senator Mullish studied General Darren’s uniform and plucked the stars from his shoulders, one by one and tossed them to the floor. General Darren straightened up and watched as his rank vanished. He stood before the room of peers now suddenly turned seniors. He wheeled around the guards and escaped their clutches. He bolted towards the door and headed down the hallway.
“He won’t get much distance. Where’s he going to go?” Senator Mullish said.
General Darren ran as far away from the military men and woman and the senator. He saw a bevy of Secret Service personnel surrounding the hallway ahead. He jetted to the center of the crowd. President Sam Mallard was the nucleus. General Darren made his way to through the group before being stopped by Secret Servicemen. They noted his ribbons and decorations, but with no rank insignia, the pair was bewildered. Was this General Darren?
“Uh, sir, you have to stay back,” one of the sunglasses wearing fellows said.
“You don’t understand, they’re going to blind the troops! I’m General Charles W. Darren and I know the president wouldn’t let them get away with this,” General Darren said.
Upon finally recognizing him, the pair motioned for the president to come near them. The other man with the dark suit said, “Wait here. Then, Sam Mallard noticed General Darren.
“Charlie, hey what’s up? You pulling on prank on yourself? Where’s your rank?” President Mallard said.
“No, Sam. This is worse than all things unholy. My so-called fellow generals and admirals want to crush our own forces. Please tell me you’re not going to pass this thing,” General Darren implored.
“I’ll ensure that no such thing will pass on my watch,” President Mallard said. “They will have to answer for their vicious doctrine.”
General Darren breathed. He pointed the President down the hall to the room.
“Let’s roll,” He said.

What it Looks Like

Protecting those who Protect

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Magnate

Books on the Top


Safeguarded Brains

Books lined the pristine classroom packed with stellar lighting and eager minds. One title read Astrophysics in the Modern World by Herbert Clarence. Another read The Literary Stylings of Rupert Hedwig by Marcus Fently. From the corner of the room, a child named Demario Drew wearing a freshly starched brown and teal uniform with a crisp tie and neatly pleated pants listed the names of the titans of literature. After each name, he listed their most remarkable work: Dennis Redgrove’s The Cordial Fellow and Eliza Malley’s Delicate Days reached the top of the list. The magnate of this operation, Mr. TrĂ© Devington studied each eight-year-old through twelve-year-old in his classroom as a cockerel governs his roost. Only he safeguarded brains. At just 34 years of age, Devington became one of the few male teachers of elementary school students in Wilmington, Delaware. And he happened to teach at the education center he founded from the earnings he generated as a Wall Street analyst. Dubbed The Academy of Bright Scholars (TABS), the school offered a curriculum that delved into the mass of Gliese 581 c, the grammatical structure of a sonnet, the recognition of parabolas, and the history of East Kolkata. But business dominated the classroom discussion.

The Correct Answer

“What is the meaning of an ROI?” Devington asked.
The entire class of 15 students lifted their hands. Palisha Wist elevated her hand and waved it in the air emphatically.
“Yes, Miss Wist. Do you have an answer?” said Devington.
“Yes, sir. The correct answer is return on investment,” Palisha said.
“Very good, young lady,” Devington said.
“And now class, what is the lavender news publication which covers the world of finance?”
Again, hands shot up like rockets launched from Cape Canaveral. Mr. Devington called upon a student.
“Mr. Claxbury, you’ve been waiting a while to be called on. What do you have to say, young man?”
The Pecuniary Pages,” Bentley Claxbury responded.
“You are so smart. That is correct. The Pecuniary Pages covers all matters of the economy and local, national, and global businesses,” Mr. Devington said.

A Master of Destiny



As a private institution, TABS deviated away from the government schools rife with red tape and bureaucracy. Mr. Devington insisted that the school be a non-profit so that he could receive private donations and have the students enroll tuition free. The plan allowed the students to learn in an environment that engendered a sense of accomplishing goals and stick-to-itiveness. Though chided and look down upon as retarded and slow learners, the students of Mr. Devington’s class excelled. Their tenacity when faced with a given algebra equation, plotline of a novel, or the relation of a nucleus to an electron shone through with every lesson.
Detractors, of course, arose. They bad-mouthed Mr. Devington’s leadership skills and found him unfit to teach youths. They said that some “greedy” Wall Street guy should be kept away from children who needed the government to teach them. Devington displayed his credentials. With the possession of a master’s degree in economics and six years of experience in the financial sector, Devington studied Internet videos on how to best instruct young minds. He spent hours sharpening his own mind and developing strategies that would allow him to impart his knowledge. He visited colleges and attended seminars on methods which would guide youngsters into having a zeal for learning. The $50,000 that he had saved up over the course of studying at the investment banking firm, Ceres and Mohr, provided seed money to TABS. After only a year in business, the academy employed 14 teachers and taught close to 600 students. Mr. Devington focused on aiding those students who struggled while praising those who achieved high marks. Always sincere about learning, Mr. Devington demonstrated to his class that although they might not come from affluent areas in Delaware, or acquired the status of the upper class schools, their will to succeed would be the final arbiter in the trial of the functioning of their brains. Their ability to reason, Mr. Devington thought, would carry them to heights that others may not have expected them to reach.

A Strong Class


Claimed What He Dreamed

Once Mr. Devington retired as CEO of TABS, he could count that 95% of his class finished college. Some entered the military while others forwent further formal education and launched their own enterprises. Backed by the knowledge that Mr. Devington supplied, these students reinforced their learning abilities by becoming entrepreneurs. As chairman of the board, Mr. Devington still had some say in the overall scope and mission of the school, without having a day-to-day operations. He looked back at his time at TABS. In his reflections, he recalled how a young lady with a devastating stutter overcame this obstacle and now commanded $250,000 to speak at private venues. This astonishing fact did not surprise him. A young man who couldn’t read until he reached the age of eleven passed the bar to become a lawyer in the state of Delaware. He would be up for the Attorney General position in the following year. In one instance of pure surprise and pride, a student named Arlo Mills that Mr. Devington taught how to balance a company’s books had become the founder of an app which would allow customers to use digital audio recordings (DAR) for online radio, presented him with a check in the amount of $1 million. Mr. Devington funnelled the money back into TABS and positioned Arlo as one of the board members. For his tireless efforts in ensuring that no child be bereft of an education, Mr. Devington saw the upsurge of schools which shared his free market ideology. In Delaware, the public schools system was put to the test and failed miserably. Academies like TABS popped up over the state, then the tri state, then the Eastern Seaboard, then the Midwest, then the West Coast. All over the country and then the world, the ideas of liberating children from the confines of government schools proliferated. Mr. Devington had set himself up for success and went out and claimed what he dreamed. His understanding of the value of a dollar landed in the thoughts of the brilliant students he taught.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Call Corporate

Hello Place

Some folks may say that Delaware has to offer nothing but tax free shopping, beaches, and boredom. Settled by the Swedes, the tiny state stands as a bastion of what is written on it’s flag: Liberty and Independence. Others contend that the only thing in the state is the chemical companies, credit card companies and business climate. A corporate haven, it is because of the dual dragons of high tax collection and personal income tax, that a flame of freedom was ignited. And people happen to live there, too. Professor Connor Mettle, Professor Milo Kiln, and Professor Donnell Wayson teachers at Delaware Institute of Technology (DIT) would be known as the New Sweden Kids (NSK). The trio strolled in the Delaware Hello Place rest stop on the Terrace Roadways highway. Decked out in sportcoats and dress shirts sans the tie, each man could read the lips of the managers and supervisors of the stores: “Call corporate.” Why would they utter this phrase usually reserved for an issue to be handled by the “suits”? Well, this was to alert the higher ups of the presence of preeminent men. But what got them to this lofty position?

Seeds of Liberty

Well, because of the ideas they picked up, they decided to band together to alter the state for the better. From the initial inkling of how economics could change the way the state did business, the NSK developed their professor, Dr.Francine Woodrow’s theories and then applied them to real world problems. The ideas that they used to chart income models and establish an understanding of global markets now allowed them to apply those principles to the ills of the economy. As avid readers, the NSK devoured obscure texts and pushed themselves to excel. Though as tall as a corner mailbox, Dr. Woodrow commanded a room with her sharp intellect and clever humor. She brought to academia what a surgeon carries to the field of medicine. Her unabashed critiques of failed social systems opened the eyes of the three men. They were rapt. Of all the teachings that this lady imparted, the thought that theory put into practice could make waves resonated with them. The NSK expected to make a tidal wave after reaping the knowledge of Dr. Woodrow. But first they had to graduate. They all obtained their master’s degree in just eight months. Their straight A’s landed them in the highest ranks of their class. Upon completing graduate school, the NSK explored America and the world in search of what good ideas and bad ideas existed. By appointment of then governor Marlon Graff, the NSK brought to the First State the lessons which their professor Dr. Woodrow bestowed upon them. After a few strokes of a pen, the triumvirate slashed government spending, eliminated the minimum wage in Delaware, and did away with all taxes. All of which stemmed from what they learned at New Sweden University in Wilmington, Delaware, economics department. As farmers sow seeds of grain and vegetation, so did the NSK plant the seeds of liberty. Now, as they walked through the bustling rest stop, they noted that some of the employees who worked for what had to be no more than $2.50 an hour performed their tasks with litheness. An intensity and energy permeated throughout the travel plaza. Each man viewed a particular aspect of what they helped to foster.

For Business


Recognizing Reality

Professor Kiln observed a janitor open up a brand new trash bag to line the can just outside the restroom. He saw how this janitor whipped out the receptacle liner as a matador confronts a bull. The close attention to detail involved with him clamping down the sides of the bag to keep it in place intrigued him. Or take for instance, what Professor Wayson saw. He peered at a manager quibbling with a supervisor over how to best position an etagere which would display coffee mugs. The exchange lacked heat or profanity or rancor but held within it a great amount of respect and thorough weighing of facts. Though the supervisor finally won the argument, each man profited by recognizing reality.
Professor Mettle leaned into to talk to a cashier at the Bean Trail. “Yes, I would like a almond milk latte,” Professor Mettle said. With the order tallied on an electronic tablet, the barista saw a screen above her head illuminate with his order. Keenly, she whipped together the ingredients; she steamed the milk; she loaded the coffee; and at the end she created a fern design in the beverage to illustrate her care. A smile on her face, the barista handed the masterpiece to the professor.

Sign of the Dollar at the Hello Place

What is the meaning of a free mind and a free market?
What is the meaning of a free mind and a free market? | Source

Made to Perfection

The fern is key.
The fern is key. | Source

Reaped Returns

“Thank you very much, young lady,” Professor Mettle said.
As the three men prepared to leave, the district manager, Vernon Pitts stepped up to them and proceeded to shake their hands.
“We appreciate your business here at the Hello Place Delaware, gentlemen. Won’t you please stop by again?”
All three smiled and bid Mr. Pitts adieu. Professor Mettle issued a caveat.
“We will come back to the Hello Place as long as you’ve got that barista controlling that espresso machine,” he grinned.
The men left and returned to their car. At this hour in the morning, they decided to head straight to DIT so that they had time to set up their lesson plans. Professor Kiln drove the men to the school in Wilmington, Delaware. Their oddysee would prove to be a fruitful one as all three of them acknowledged that what was just a thought could be fashioned into being. Their labors to engender a sense of freedom within the marketplace paid off in significant dividends. Though they lived modest lives as teachers, with simple homes and drove unassuming vehicles, their spirits reaped returns in a major way.

The Basics

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sketches of the Mind

Considering these things

They say that the great machines that zip them to work and school and clean their clothes and dishes and send messages and guide trips are products of the mind. But what sparks that interest in mind? What is it that drives the great thinkers to concoct those smart devices that govern our very attention? Is it some mystical force bearing down on the human brain to deliver the goods? Or is it society which propels the best minds to contemplate the fascinating and then go out and build, create, and produce? Y’Lana Venton never was one to sit idle when the light flashed green, but this morning she considered these things. A horn blast from the rear prompted her to arrest her daydream and engage in the motion of making that right hand turn. She traveled on her way to work the usual way. No music. A string of updates and insightful tidbits about how oysters live all due to the journalistic stylings of the private, for-profit radio station Aeras. Now, she maneuvered her vehicle with the ease and aplomb afforded to the best rally car racers, obeying all speeding laws in the process.

Channeled these feelings

Her daily grind as a courtroom and composite sketch artist offered her the opportunity to express herself but only in the limited way of outlining the visages of common criminals. But she did her job and patterned herself a true artiste. That’s what two years at Delaware Institute of Technology (DIT) brought her. Armed with an associates degree, she championed the notion of a young businesswoman on the brink of greatness. She viewed this current position as but a stepping stone to better days. Y’Lana envisioned a day where she would run her own studio and take clients that did not have some devastating description which she would have to fashion into a portrait of a potential thief, rapist, or murderer. She dreaded the work sometimes. One particular case left her wracked with worry. The survivor’s mother had been beaten savagely with a hammer and the blood still remained on the survivor’s pantsuit. The survivor stammered the entire time whisking away tears and trying desperately to recall the face of a barbarian. She never exhibited her fear or frustration. She simply channeled those feelings into the work and recognized that the task at hand far outweighed her disgust and personal anguish. Her composites showed a steady hand and a keen dedication to form. It wasn’t always ugly. Sometimes this career called for a sense of humor. Once, during a courtroom proceeding, a clown who actually showed up in full dress (red nose and floppy shoes and everything) attempted to represent himself. Though the judge threw him out with the quickness, Y’Lana’s boss insisted that she use all of the colors that she had available to capture the guards escorting the clown to the exit. But she projected the day that she would be the boss and develop a steady work space without the peaks and valleys which this profession entailed. She pressed forward to realize this dream completely. Even in the face of competition. She saw him in the doorway to the office.

In the Court

The sketch artist is the true storyteller in the courtroom.
The sketch artist is the true storyteller in the courtroom. | Source

The Challenges Of A Courtroom Sketch Artist

Examples of 'excellence'

Arendes Carl, a man three years her senior, gunned for the top spot as lead artist. He stood 6’1” and brought attention upon himself with his wide stride. Y’Lana took notice.
“So, what do you got, Venton? Have another clown, or a ghost on tap for today?” Carl asked.
“Well, the only clown I see here is you. And you might want to make like a ghost after those sketches you tried to pass off as examples of ‘excellence,’” Y’Lana shot back.
“Still, I’ve got the Marshden case,” Carl retorted.
Y’Lana’s eyes widened then narrowed quickly.
“I see,” she said.
“Good luck with your little doodles,” Carl smirked and left without holding the door for her.
The Marshden case attracted the news outlets and made for big news in the diminutive state of Delaware. It involved a basketball star from the Wilmington Diamonds who stood trial as the defendant in a hit and run death of a young boy. All of the media sites and channels covered the story with the usual sensationalism and the first thing that would appear on smart phone, smart tv, and other devices would be the courtroom sketch of this fallen baller. With Carl now positioned to take on the job, Y’Lana paused to understand where exactly she wanted to go with this stint. It technically qualified as art, but she desired to take her talents to a gallery. She brushed off the Carl situation and marched forth with an attitude that would sustain her through the onslaught of humiliation and regrettable actions. She mustered up enough courage to one day quit her role as sketch artist and decided to become an author. By acquiring the rights to all of her work, she placed them in a book and sold it over the Internet.

A portrait of herself


Spark of intelligence

In her Ocean View, Delaware home she looked back at all of her accomplishments and once again wondered about the source of all the technological advances around her. She painted a portrait of herself in deep thought and assured herself that she made the right decision in leaving the courtroom and composite sketch business. Her experiences brought her to conclude that without the spark of imagination and the thrust of intelligence nothing, not even a sketch, would be possible. She didn’t even have to sit in traffic to think of that.

The Courtroom Sketch Artist

A Lighter Sketch

This piece appeared originally on April 2, 2016.

© 2017 All rights reserved. No portion of this document can be used without written permission of the writer. Prosecution to the fullest extent of the law will be enforced.  

Saturday, October 7, 2017

And in and of Itself

This Adventure

     For most of their travels, the results remained nil. On the quest to find this special something, each member of the team sought to discover greatness. Marshawn Tutnall, English major extraordinaire, persuaded his classmates into journeying with him on an odyssey. The Vernice Armour University in Newark, Delaware students embarked on this adventure at the earliest time in the spring. Four men, four women. They knew not what treasures they would find, but reconciled those uncertainties with a will and a push to achieve.

Take into Consideration

     “We’ve got to find it,” Clint Garrett, a law student ready to tackle objective law, pronounced to the seven other members. They sought Professor Alvera Drum. She was diminutive but she exhibited a formidable demeanor.
     “So, Professor Drum, what letter comes before A?” Tutnall asked.
     “Well, in the Greek alphabet, Alpha is the initial letter followed by 23 other characters. What you are searching for is the impossible. But how can you know? Now, let me tell you what you ought to do. You’ve got Black and white races. The alleged worst and the best. Deal with it. I mean no other race likes to be called by the color of their skin accept these two. Think about it. Brown people don’t even want to be called Hispanic or Latino. They prefer to wave the flag of nationalism. Yellow people; they rather be called by their nationhood as well. And reds, they wish to be called by their country of origin, too. if they’re from the Western Hemisphere, Northern part and there are any of them left, they would rather be named by their tribe. Your efforts are futile. How can you prove it? How can you prove that there are no letters before A and after Z and the rest? What you ought to focus on is helping your fellow man. I mean, take into consideration the environment at least. We are all one. Your inquiry into the alphabetic system will lead to nothing but failure. Please leave my office. Have a nice day.” The professor who had removed her glasses now placed them on her face.

The Distinguished

     The professor's words did not discourage the collective. Each individual tasked him or herself with the role of fulfilling the call of discovery. Vivica Majestic crunched numbers like nobody’s business. She illustrated her acumen in the field of stock analysis by discovering links to numbers and letters and their origins. Porsha Wittingly crafted artwork that resembled the handiwork of Yoruba tribesmen. She contributed her knowledge of one of the first languages spoken by humans. Minnie June called upon her expertise in the field of data processing. She could whip up reports with a confidence and know-how that encouraged her fellow classmates to take heed. For much of her academic career, The prowess of calligraphy lied in Gwyneth Holcomb. Gwyneth’s ability to sketch out the letters of the alphabet brought about a sophistication that few others could match. Latimer Davies constructed theories on radical Black nationalism in favor of capitalism. He has failed to link the two, but his studies continued. This distinguished him from the rest of his economics students. Denton Stack exhibited a proficiency in the discovery of new words. His linguistic aptitude prepared him for classwork which required the comprehension of portmanteaus, slang, rhetoric, and a whole host of dialects and tongues. Rhonda Rhodes displayed her adeptness with the study of mathematics. Since the third grade, she had aced her tests and passed Advanced Placement courses in every subject from algebra to calculus.


     For hours, they pored over ancient texts. Some felt of baby skin, tender to the touch and just as precious. They studied the Greeks, the Romans, the Japanese, the Zulus. Nothing. The question burned within them: why? Why had there been no recollection of this sacred missing thing? Why had history books neglected to cover the origins of the untalked about piece of non-history? That the true way to find out about it would be to acknowledge that there exists no such thing?
     Across from the university campus, the octet channeled the souls of those who’ve left. Not in a mystical way but rather a sense of consciousness expressed by those who’ve come before them.
     “Davies, put that Mobile Pay app away, and concentrate!” Scolded Garrett.
     “I’m almost done transferring the funds for next semester. Let me be great,” Davies snapped.
     “Let’s look to the Newark Library Club,” Holcomb announced. The eight of them treaded towards the private library in downtown Newark, Delaware. The place exuded activity and welcomed all of the students to browse, research, and delve into the topic which they sought to know. What is it about the alphabet and the connection to some mystical force beyond the realm of reality? How does the universe permit no non-existant from co-mingling with that which exists? These students, energized and informed of the ways of disciplines across the spectrum of knowledge, endeavored to determine whether a riddle, a passing phrase might be the key to unlock all that ails the world. But it would have to be done skillfully. Deftly. All eight of them would put their learnings to the test. At the NLC, they plunked down into desks in the study room. While the university library usually saw crowds of students engaged in the educational process, the NLC offered ample space and literature that might aid them. The private schools in which they all attended rated like luxury vehicles (Garrett, Davies, Vivica) mid level productions (Stack, Gwyneth, Rhonda) and economy lines (Tutnall, Porsha). Nonetheless, each student earned diplomas to go to Vernice Armour. The privatization of the schools allowed for the flow of funds to irrigate the halls of education. Every dollar advanced the cause of academics and boosted all of their studies. That cash would supply them with the opportunity to develop their skills and devote themselves to their schooling.


     “I think I’ve found something,” Porsha said. She lifted up to the light a page that may’ve brought their search to an end.
     “It reads: ‘The Greeks argued over whether to include multiple letters before the one letter Alpha. But the Christians insisted on leaving the idea of a letter before A and after Z and in between the letters to signify that like the non-sensory, out of the context of reality being in which they worshipped, it would be eternal.’”
     “What?” Baxter quipped. “‘Nil.’ we’ll name that letter before A and after Z ‘Nil,’”
Stack said.
     “Just like there’s no ‘dark side of the moon,’ so there are no letters at the beginning or end of the alphabet.”
     “So, that’s it?” Baxter asked. “We just stop right here?”
     “No.” Tutnall responded. He withdrew from his satchel an orb that glowed with all of the knowledge that man has ever recorded. The orb weighed about seven ounces and projected a clear picture in full high definition the bygones gone by and the current state of the world.
     “With this we have the power to forever change our course,” Tutnall said.
     Stack had an idea. “King Tut,” he said to Tutnall. “Hey, man, why don’t we seek out Dr. Neptune?”
     “You know, that might just do it.”
     Dr. Neptune stood 6’4 and groomed a goatee. He lived in Wilmington in an apartment overlooking the Riverfront. He engaged with his listeners and imparted much needed knowledge.
     “Now, I recognize all of you in going down this path. My professors once presented this problem, not as a riddle but as a serious, significant query: Is there a letter before A? I mean we know ‘A is A’ right? But what about its predecessor? It must have some say in the matter,” Dr. Neptune intoned.
     “Dr. Neptune…” Vivica said.
     “Yes, young lady?” Dr. Neptune said.
     “Well, where could we even begin? The letter ‘A’ represents the start of a series of units which represent the sounds that the human mouth forms. The image of the ‘A’ corresponds with the head of an ox. So, my question is: what came before?”
     “That, my child, is a question for the ages. It lies in the realm of metaphysics and epistemology and pertains to the very existence of everything in the universe.”
      “I think I found it. I mean I truly do. The letters before and after the alphabet correspond with the idea that whatever sound the human mouth can make must mean that there is a set number of letters to represent those sounds,” Porsha said.
     “Yes, Porsha. That’s good,” Dr. Neptune said. “If we examine the fact that all of the sounds that make up the alphabet are taken...wouldn’t that explain why there is no letter before A or after Z?”
     “That’s true, Dr. Neptune. All the sounds are used,” Davies said.
     The eight of them stood around Dr. Neptune in his spacious apartment. They gathered that he would be the key to unlocking the mystery of the unspoken letters.
     “This is treason against reason, forgive me for rhyming,” Dr. Neptune said.
     “No apology necessary, sir,” Stack said.
     “We appreciate your time concerning this matter, Dr. Neptune,” Tutnall said.
     The cabal headed towards the door of the apartment.
     “Thanks sir,” they said in unison and left the professor.
     All of them counted their wins and came up with the next step on their voyage. Stack suggested a destination.

The Crux

     “Look, we’ve tried the library, we’ve asked two professors, and now we should consider going to the Think Tank,” Davies said.
     “The Think Tank?!,” Minnie queried emphatically.
     “Yes. Davies. I do believe that we should be able to find the answer in a bottle of beer and some wings,” Garrett smirked.
     “I’m serious,” Davies stood his ground.
     “Tut?” Gwyneth said.
     “Yeah. We ought to unwind a bit to get try to capture this idea we’ve been pursuing,” Tutnall answered.
     The faction proceeded to the town watering hole known better as The Think Tank. There, most of the students involved themselves in all sorts of bacchanalia and talk usually centered around the current politics or philosophy of the day.
     Inside the Think Tank, scholars played spades, checked opponents in chess, swigged brew from mugs, and pontificated or philosophized about the daily topics. The blues took up all of the play list and gave the setting a setting an exuberant, life-affirming vibe. The coterie of adventurers moved their way past the bar and occupied seats near the exit. The night was warm in April and allowed for them to get a gust of fresh air every now and again. But they did not stray from their task. They got right to the crux of the matter.
     “Okay. We’ve gathered enough information to make a solid case that shows the fact that letters outside of the alphabet, any alphabet, do not exist,” Vivica said.
     “But it’s like professor Drum said: ‘how can you know?’”


     “Actually, to prove a negative is impossible. And in fact, because ‘A’ and the rest of the letters exist, we ought to start from there and recognize that all that is real exists, and nothing less,” Tutnall said.
     “I think that with all of this discussion about the nature of existence we should actually know the end game by now,” Rhonda said.
     “Just look at the other letters which the Phonetic International Alphabet rejected,” Porsha observed. “Everything from ash to the ampersand includes not a corresponding sound but more than one character representing a single idea. Similar to ‘W’ but that involves a sound representation. And regardless if these forgotten letters remained in the alphabet we know today. There would still be a beginning, middle, and end. With no letters in between.”
     “You know my dear, I think that you have just solved our puzzle. Now, let’s listen to this classic by Cally McMay.”
The eight of them found themselves on the dance floor, moving to the 4/4 time. Each one calculated their steps with the ease of a rideshare drive easing down the avenue. Stack and Rhonda grooved with Garrett and Vivica. Davies twirled Gwyneth. And Tutnall and Porsha leaned in for a kiss.

This story appeared originally on February 17, 2016. 

© 2017 All rights reserved. No portion of this document can be used without written permission of the writer. Prosecution to the fullest extent of the law will be enforced.