The City at Night

“We live as we dream–alone….”

― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Woodall Rogers Expressway, Dallas, Texas

I used to never remember my dreams… and when I did they were gray, ordinary, and frustrating. Lately, they have been vivid and memorable, if more than a bit disjointed. Maybe as the dreams of my waking life are slowly extinguished… the sleeping ones come alive.

Last night, among other things, I dreamed that I shot someone…half on purpose (my tiny revolver had a hair-trigger). The bullet went through his neck, but he survived. He was pissed, though.

That’s all I can think of right now – I have to go to sleep – we’re a car short and I have to ride my bike to work – and that means I have to get up before dawn so I can leave as the sun comes up. Otherwise it’s already too hot.

In the meantime – here’s something I wrote in December, 1998.

I’m writing another entry sitting in the van, waiting in a parking lot. This time it’s a long way from home. I have a focus group at eight thirty, on the tenth floor of a big office building, at Park Central on the northern arc of Dallas’ LBJ freeway loop. I have better things to do with my time than sit here, but they’ll pay me a hundred dollars, cash. Allowing an hour to get here, it only took twenty minutes, so I found this lot in a commercial strip right off Central Expressway. About a half hour to kill before I drive back to the building, that’s how long the batteries in this old Dell can hold out.

I had wanted to go exercise after work and there is a club located between there and here. I forgot my damn shoes again, can’t very well work out in steel-toed safety boots, so I stayed in my office a couple hours late. Time is becoming so precious, it drove me nuts. Nowhere to go, no money, nothing much to do (I was so sick of work, it was tough to get anything extra accomplished). So I sat and did some light computer stuff and watched the hands turn.

At least the van is a good place to type. The middle bench seat is roomy enough for me to hold the laptop on my lap, there is enough stray light from the parking lot to illuminate the keys without washing out the screen. Also, the van isn’t stalling. I was about to give up yesterday, when I put another fresh tank of fuel in her, and presto- no more problems. My guess is that the recent cold snap condensed water into the gas tank, it took a refill to work itself out.

Across the street from here is a big hospital. This is where both Nick and Lee were born. It seems like I’ve been there a hundred times, for childbirth classes, medical emergencies, routine checkups. We don’t have the HMO anymore, so we don’t come back here now. One reason I dropped it was because I was concerned about the drive from Mesquite, it scared me to think of Candy driving over here in the awful traffic with a sick kid strapped in beside her.

The traffic is scary. The intersection of LBJ and Central may be the busiest in the Metroplex, maybe the country. Lines of white, lines of red. Going either seventy or stopped. I constantly look at these thousands and thousands of cars speeding past and wonder where all these people are going. What are their dreams? Are they happy? Do they really want to go where their car is pointing? Why are they in such a hurry to get there?

Honk! Honk! Honk! The car alarm on a big sedan is going off. A woman gets out. Is it her car? Is she confused by the alarm and can’t shut it off? Or is she stealing the thing? I don’t care. It stops, she gets back in. Nobody calls the police. There the car goes.

Behind this strip, this line of office supplies, fast food Chinese, medical equipment, and podiatrist, is the dark slash of a creek. I know that linear wilderness better than I know the wild street; the White Rock bicycle trail runs back there. It starts five miles to the south at the lake and winds along the creek embankment, using the floodplain to cut through these civilized islands unseen and undisturbed. The day was dry and warm, I wish I had my bike and was able to get some late season fresh air back there today. Or I wish I had a nice light and could run the trail now. Swooshing along in the dark, heart pumping, legs pumping.

Oh, well.

I think I’d better wrap this up, save the file and get going. I’m not sure exactly where to park (there is a maze of garages around the office complex) and I don’t want to be late. They won’t give me my money.

Thanks for listening to me ramble, thanks for helping me kill a few minutes away from home, thanks for the memories and the city at night.

More Bicycling, Coffee,  and a Notebook

“Every time I hear a political speech or I read those of our leaders, I am horrified at having, for years, heard nothing which sounded human. It is always the same words telling the same lies. And the fact that men accept this, that the people’s anger has not destroyed these hollow clowns, strikes me as proof that men attribute no importance to the way they are governed; that they gamble—yes, gamble—with a whole part of their life and their so called “vital interest.”
― Albert Camus, Notebooks 1935-1942

Last weekend I made some coffee, grabbed my notebook and pens, and took off on my bicycle to find a place to write up my three pages – I have been scribbling the morning pages from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. This last Saturday, a week later, I wanted to do the same thing. My son wanted to go to this new coffee shop Staycation – here in downtown Richardson and he offered to ride along with me. Sounds like a good idea. Nice morning ride – we left at 7:30 so we would get there before it opened. It turned out to be a hair over three miles – and very pleasant because there is no traffic at that hour of a Saturday and the air was still cool enough.

Staycation is a great coffee shop. The owner, Nichole Gregory, took a 1940’s cottage left in the middle of downtown Richardson and modified it into a very pleasant and comfortable place to grab a cup of Joe. I can’t recommend it higher.

But don’t take my word for it:

Drop In and Stay Awhile at Staycation, a New Coffee Shop in Richardson

New cafe in Richardson opens with acclaimed coffee, pastry, and wine

A true coffee break: Why Staycation in Richardson is D-FW’s coolest coffee shop right now

Staycation Coffee, Richardson, Texas

After we had our coffee, Nick rode home – but I still wanted to put a few more miles in and I still wanted to stop and write (Yes, I could have written in the coffee shop – but I wanted to try something else). So I went up the Central Trail, then down the Collins Bike Lane, to the Duck Creek Extension trail across Arapaho. Thinking about a place to stop and write (there are a lot of benches… but surprisingly few tables), I remembered about a concrete bench that was stuck incongruously in the middle of a traffic circle at American Parkway and Presidential Drive – I ride my bike past there every now and then when trying to build up mileage. It’s a light commercial area – and would be deserted on a Saturday so I decided to go there… and it worked well.

My pens and looseleaf notebook (Morning pages) on the concrete bench in the traffic circle at Presidential and American, Richardson, Texas.

I wrote my pages – packed up and wandered around the ‘hood until I had my ten miles for the day. Made it home before eleven AM – a good start to the day.

Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Panel by Bill Chance

“Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”
― Clint Eastwood

Fog in front of my house, Richardson, Texas


Craig went back to work today. On the drive home, he thought, ” Hectic day, plenty ‘o stress. Quiet panic, nothing big, little things. Hey! Hey! it’s about to be a new year! All that’ll change, Right? Yeah, and monkeys will fly out of my butt.”

When he made it home his wife had broken out the overhead light panel in the kitchen. So it was off to Home Depot for him, mister home repair handyman dude. As he left the house in the minvan it looked hazy, some ground fog, very humid. It happened as he was driving, supersaturated air, more water vapor than it can hold, gas wanting to condense to liquid, giving up the day’s solar heat, the sun gone, over past the west coast, traveling across the Pacific. Polluted urban air, dust particles, stirred up by car tires, car exhaust (“I’ll get it tuned up next week”) jagged microscopic particles of carbon, every facet a condensation seed, a point for the liquid water crystals to begin forming, the molecules to line up along the surface. Oxygen, each with its hydrogen couplet, randomly spinning, vibrating, doin’ the Brownian jig, not enough energy to stay aloft, random movements bring the trio alongside the dust mote where millions of millions (Avogrado’s number is really fuckin’ big ya know) of its twin brothers now sit, lined up. He joins the line, relieved to be out of the air, safety in numbers, condensation, droplets, driplits, lets see where y’all feel like goin’, hitch a ride on a mote. This dance, this lining up, bringing into focus, making a little sphere, a little lens, refraction machine, forming of millions of millions, is itself repeated millions of millions of times across the city, plenty of dust to go around, no shortage of seeds so. WHAM!

Fog so thick you could cut it with a knife. Pea soup. Clouds on the ground at night, no white fluffy furry “hey it looks like Zanzibar” cloud this, but clingy hot and yet cold, “who selected the blend tool?” green blinding scary fog-cloud. It’s a big electric Texas city so the cloud glows from within. The fog captures oncoming cars, streetlights, leftover Christmas displays, store neons, RedGreenYellow traffic indicators, all give their light to the fog. The fog gives it back as a glow, as a hint, “There’s something there, but damn it if I can tell what it is” luminescence in the distance – actually not the distance, a lot closer than is comfortable. Car lights are tungsten white, Town East Mall Lights glow mercury vapor blue or sodium yellow, Christmas lights are -well you know what color they are.

Craig drove slow, careful, of course this is Texas so everyone else is driving like bats out of hell – who are these people? why are they always in such a hurry? there’s nowhere to go nowhere to hide a good song on the radio so why not take your time, slow down and smell the diesel exhaust. Craig wouldn’t mind if a few took the whole pipe in for awhile, they scared the shit out of him. Someone even creeped out into the foggy intersection… maybe to get a better look at an oncoming pickup before they get smacked on the passenger side door.

But Craig got there all right, picked out his transcucent panel, he had a small piece of the broken one in his pocket so he was sure that the new one matched. Home Depot at night, a guy in front of him was buying an entire cart of broken odds and ends of wood, no piece whole, no piece straight, they gave him a good deal on it, he also buys four tubes of caulk. His hands were covered with white dust, cement or wallboard-sandings maybe, so Craig figured he must know what he’s doing.

When Craig left the Depot, the fog was even thicker. He crept home, put up the panel. When they built the kitchen they made the light fixture a tiny bit too big so the panels barely fit in the frame. Every now and then one pop’s out. Craig thought, “Maybe I’ll add it to my things-to-do-list somehow shim the damn thing so they don’t fall. Maybe I’ll use duct tape, hoo boy, that’ll piss her off. Duct tape on the ceiling, might as well put a big sign out front – –White Trash, come on in, eat some Ding Dongs, we buy Mrs. Baird’s Pecan fried pies and to heat ’em we fry ’em again . Wash it down with Mountain Doo if yure under age, or Meister Brau if yure old enough, or some peppermint schnapps if yure cold and yure heart needs some healin’. Never mind the cars in the yard, they don’t run anyway, have a sit in the ARVEE out back – put a tape in the boombox we got both kinds – country and western. We’ll play some Yatzee and then UNO when we get too drunk to roll dice. Then it’s movie time, we got Rambo, we got Anyway but Loose (love that Orangutan), but that’s it, hard to get them Beta tapes nowadays.– – On second thought better put the duct tape away and cut some wooden pieces, finish them up real nice.”

Godard’s Nana

“Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself.”

—-Michel de Montaigne

Anna Karina as Nana in Vivre sa Vie

When I finish a book – I have a tendency to look around for a movie of the same subject. After finishing Zola’s Nana – I first found a version on Netflix… but it was a Golan-Globus soft core R rated porn piece full of naked girls and leering old Frenchmen. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with that – but it wasn’t what I was looking for (at the time).

Then I discovered, on the Criterion Channel, a French nouvelle vauge film by Jean-Luc Godard: Vivre sa Vie. The main character (the transcendent Anna Karina) is Nana, a Parisian woman that starts out wanting to be a movie star but ends up  falling into a life of Prostitution. It was obviously inspired by (although very different) the Zola novel. And I watched it.

Susan Sontag called Vivre sa Vie “a perfect film” and “one of the most extraordinary, beautiful and original works of art that I know of”

66307739-godard-s-vivre-sa-vie-sontag-1964-120copy.pdf (

The movie consists of twelve discrete tableaux – each one featuring a title card announcing what you are about to see. That breaks the film up and allows it to jump around, emphasizing the downward spiral of Nana’s life. In the novel, Nana preys upon the desires of the men around her – destroying them in the process. The movie is the opposite – the men around Godard’s Nana all prey on her desires and dreams, destroying her in the process. In the Novel, the men give Nana their money… in the Film Nana gives her hard earned cash to the men – she is reduced to a piece of property, a capital item that is expected to produce a certain amount.

This dreary, melodramatic story is contrasted with the luminous actress, Anna Karina. She fills almost every frame of the story and her beauty jumps out from the glorious black and white screen. I always have a tough time with the French New Wave, but I think this contrast is part of the appeal. The amazing potential of this beautiful woman reduced to disaster by the vagaries of cruel fortune.

Oh, one more thing… for you fountain pen nerds out there. There is a long scene where she writes out a letter – an application to work as a prostitute for a madame (it is heartbreaking). She is using a Parker “51” – a distinctive pen (hooded nib, arrow clip on the cap) – very popular at the time the film was made, and arguably the greatest pen ever. I’m ashamed of myself for recognizing that – and thinking it is cool.

Vivre sa vie review – quintessential soul-searching from Godard | DVD and video reviews | The Guardian

VERTIGO | Jean-Luc Godard: Vivre sa Vie (

My Life to Live movie review & film summary (1963) | Roger Ebert

Vivre Sa Vie (1962) film review – an analysis of a perfect film — Films to Watch Before you Die

The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe (

‘I think we’re always responsible for our actions. We’re free. I raise my hand – I’m responsible. I turn my head to the right – I’m responsible. I’m unhappy – I’m responsible. I smoke a cigarette – I’m responsible. I shut my eyes – I’m responsible. I forget that I’m responsible, but I am. I told you escape is a pipe dream. After all, everything is beautiful. You only have to take an interest in things, see their beauty. It’s true. After all, things are just what they are. A face is a face. Plates are plates. Men are men. And life, is life.’

—-Nana (Anna Karina) in Vivre sa Vie

What I learned this week, May 27, 2022

5 Incredibly Effective Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder

Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, New Orleans

A psychologist explains why negativity dominates your daily thoughts, and what to do about it

The Most Beautiful Place in Each U.S. State

Tourists reflected in a metal bird. Travelling Man Sculpture, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

The Most Overrated US Tourist Destinations (and where to go instead)

Cozumel, Mexico

The Most Overrated Tourist Destinations in the world (and Where to Go Instead)

Lee walking in the surf at Crystal Beach. I checked my old blog entries – this was December 29, 2002. Fifteen years ago, almost to the day.

This Beautiful Island in North Carolina Has the Best Beach in the U.S., According to Dr. Beach Himself (

Boy looking at his shadow on Richard Serra’s My Curves are Not Mad – Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas

American Madness – by Bari Weiss – Common Sense (


“She alone was left standing, amid the accumulated riches of her mansion, while a host of men lay stricken at her feet. Like those monsters of ancient times whose fearful domains were covered with skeletons, she rested her feet on human skulls and was surrounded by catastrophes…The fly that had come from the dungheap of the slums, carrying the ferment of social decay, had poisoned all these men simply by alighting on them. It was fitting and just. She had avenged the beggars and outcasts of her world. And while, as it were, her sex rose in a halo of glory and blazed down on her prostrate victims like a rising sun shining down on a field of carnage, she remained as unconscious of her actions as a splendid animal, ignorant of the havoc she had wreaked, and as good-natured as ever.”

― Emile Zola , Nana

Nana, 1877 (oil on canvas) by Manet, Edouard (1832-83)

Let’s see how long it has been…. It was September, 2018 when I started reading the twenty novel Rogon-Macquart cycle by Emile Zola. Last night, I finished Nana, the seventeenth in the recommended reading order (though it was only the ninth published).

Here’s what I’ve read so far:

Now there are only three to go. I’ll finish before September, so it will have been a four-year reading project – which seems nuts – but I have read a lot of other books too. I just keep coming back.

Nana is one of the best known of the series, and is one that I read first, years ago. No problem in repeating it, though, I remembered very little and the translation I read this time was superior and not as bowdlerized.

We first saw Nana in the amazing L’Assommoir – she was the laundress Gervaise’s beautiful, precocious, and trouble making daughter – who at the end of that novel was living on the streets and introduced to the life of a prostitute. Here she has continued down that path until she was the untalented but frighteningly sexy star of the theater – appearing practically naked in a production called La blonde Vénus, and creating a scandalous shockwave through Parisian society – one that nobody really recovers from.

Nana is a force of nature, a being of pure sexuality and no common sense that destroys everything and everyone that comes into contact with her.

With this subject matter it was going to be a racy book – but I was surprised at its frank sexuality. For example, I didn’t remember the plot thread of lesbianism that ran through the story from the first time I read it, years ago. This theme might have been edited out – or I might have simply missed it – probably a bit of both. There are a few scenes of raw sexuality – such as the passage where Nana spends time admiring her nude image in a full-length mirror while her lover waits in bed. Really heady stuff.

The book starts out slow – there are the numerous crowd scenes that Zola is known for – effectively written but a bit of a slog – so many French names – until you get to know the characters. An online character list was a big help. After a few chapters the pace picks up until, near the end, Nana is destroying another man in almost every other paragraph.

So, all in all, a rewarding read. I can see why it is near the top of the Zola canon – a little too flamboyant to be with the classics like L’Assommoir or Germinal – but still…

Now I’m excited… on to La Terre. Seventeen down – only three to go.

Reality Is Torn Down Around Us

“Civilised life, you know, is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us.”
― J.G. Ballard

Margaret McDermott Bridge, Dallas, Texas

More What I learned this week, We’re All Fucked Edition May 24, 2022

Collapsed Hard Rock Cafe, New Orleans

The Economic Doom Loop Has Begun › American Greatness (

From “House”

Housing Bubble: The Spike in Home Prices Is Steeper Than It Was before 2008 | National Review

Posing for photos at the Leaning Tower of Dallas

My Biden-Voting Friend Had ‘No Idea’ Things Could Get This Bad. Buckle Up, Buddy, We’re Just Getting Started – PJ Media

“ALL HELL IS ABOUT TO BREAK LOOSE:” Ricky Gervais released a Netflix special today slamming the trans cultists and hoo boy grab your popcorn.

“Remember how Netflix sent a memo to all its woke staff telling them to cowboy up and stop being so offended at everything? Yeah, I think this Netflix special from Gervais was the reason!”

Sacrifice III, Lipchitz, Jacques, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

Why is Xi Jinping doubling down on a ‘zero-Covid’ policy that is causing massive economic distress and public anger in China? (

Not just Russia: America has a problem speaking truth to power, too (

Biden on record gas prices: It’s an “incredible transition” to my vision for a green future – HotAir

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Sales Associate by Henri Feola

“Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.”

― Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Goldfish Pond, Dallas Arboretum

From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Tuesday, September 08, and Saturday, September 12, 1998

Tuesday, September 08, 1998

Houdini toad

….. After work, I drove to pick up Lee at Nick’s piano lessons and took him home to get ready for soccer practice. I went over to feed K’Nex and Mortimer (pronounced More-Timer) and while I was shaking the live crickets into the aquarium I noticed there was only one toad.

We have had an escape.

I have absolutely no idea how the little bugger managed to get out. I cleaned their little world yesterday and am absolutely sure I put both back in. The lid is held down securely with suction cups and was tight today. Usually they can’t climb the glass of the big cage, but they are always trying, so I suppose he could have made it to the top and somehow jimmied open the clear plastic locking feeding gate.

At any rate, he’s out. So we have the attractive proposition of having a small, colorful, poisonous toad loose in the house somewhere. We are mostly worried that the giant killer dog might find the toad. I’m not sure exactly how toxic these guys are; I hope a moose-sized Labrador Retriever Mix might have a chance of surviving a meal.

I have devised a trap. At first I thought about using some crickets as bait, but on reflection I think that the toad will be more desperate for water than for food (there are plenty of bugs hidden in a house). I’ve set out a plastic box with a plate of distilled water in plain view. We’ll keep the dog in the back bedroom for awhile. Hopefully, tomorrow I find a lil’ green dude sitting in the plate of water.

If not, well, we’ll have to assume he’s escaped the house entirely, met some untimely end, or been abducted by aliens (which to me seems the most likely way he escaped in the first place). We haven’t mentioned anything to Nick or Lee so we’ll be able to sneak off to the pet store and purchase a replacement….

Oh, yeah, if you happen to know us, DO NOT mention this to Nick or Lee or any of their friends. For obvious reasons.

…I hope I can find one that looks enough like the old to fool the kids. Actually, that’ll be easy; green toad, red belly, black spots… they all look alike.

Candy is pretty freaked out at the thought of having an amphibian loose in our happy home. I’m freaked out ’cause I can’t figure out how he did it.

A little green escape artist.

Saturday, September 12, 1998

A runaway returns

….. I had a lot of trouble sleeping last night. Tossing and turning and turning and tossing, I ended up on the couch in the TV room. I kept hearing a noise from the window. A tapping, or maybe a melodious scraping sound coming from the window. My exhaustion muddled mind imagined all sorts of horrible possibilities for this sound; when I’d turn on the lights, there would be nothing there.

Finally I realized that what I was hearing was simply the sound of raindrops hitting the glass. It has been almost four months since it has rained at our house, I had forgotten the sound completely.

Today I was out of sorts, headachy and tired. We ran some errands in the morning (soccer games canceled because of muddy fields) and Candy dropped me off at home while she took the boys to a church carnival. I made an omelet and was sitting on the couch eating, watching “Planet of the Apes” and generally trying to imitate a vegetable when a movement in the kitchen caught my eye.

There he was, hopping across the tile floor, heading out of the kitchen, our missing toad. I guess he’s been hiding behind the cabinets or something; luckily I was there to see him make his run. He was hopping pretty well, seemed no worse for wear for his few days on the lam. I scooped him up before the Giant Killer Dog woke up and deposited him back into the aquarium.

We had to come clean with the kids, had to tell the truth about why there were now three fire bellied toads in there. They weren’t upset at our deception, only happy that we now have three toads.

They decided to call the new one “Runaway.”

And now, a piece of flash fiction for today:

Sales Associate by Henri Feola

from Flash Fiction Magazine

Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, The Zen of the Washateria by Bill Chance

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
― Rumi


The Zen of the Washateria

Craig always struggled with the door to the laundromat – holding the basket and pile of hangers while he pulled the door was tough. He knew most of the other customers of the “Wash It Proudly” washateria walked in and pushed the metal cart out to their cars, but he never did that – he didn’t think his weekly washing was enough. But once he was inside and the familiar heat, humidity, and Mexican radio pouring out of the speakers washed over him, he grabbed one of the metal carts with the high bar for hangers. How every one of them could have a wonky wheel was something he never could understand, but he had mastered the technique of using the bar risers as handles and pushing the cart to the washer he wanted.

There were three dollar washers, bigger four dollar washers, and giant nine-fifty washers – used by professional clothes washers and folks with giant families. His load looked a tiny bit bigger than usual, but he had only been able to scrounge up twelve quarters at home so he had to cram it in a three dollar washer. Who used quarters anymore? All week he kept an eye out for spare change – looking in the return slots of vending machines, paying with cash, calculating the change so he would get quarters. Clerks always looked at him strange when he would give them two dimes and a nickel and ask for a quarter – but it was what it was. There were some change machines down at the end, and a few of the washers took credit cards… but this felt like cheating to Craig.

All the women at the laundromat were carefully sorting their wash – whites, cottons, synthetics… but this was too confusing to Craig. He threw it all in and pushed cold. Simple. Who cared if his gym socks weren’t the whitest in the world. Polo shirts and jeans – they were easy to wash and never needed to be ironed. The washer did its work quickly – a digital timer counted down.

The giant dryers were all free. A big sign said “IF YOU DIDN’T WASH IT HERE, YOU CAN’T DRY IT HERE.” It took a half hour to dry, which gave Craig time to watch the other customers go about their routines or to simply stare hypnotized at the rows of rotating drums full of colorful tumbling clothing. When his load was dry he hung up his shirts and pants on the overhead bar and tossed the rest in the basket. The door opened outward so it was easier to go out with the basket than it was to get in.

Craig always parked his BMW Series 7 Sedan around the corner from the “Wash It Proudly.” It was a bit of a walk past all the faded worn out cars of the other patrons, but he didn’t want to be judged by his expensive ride. The basket went into the back and he used the hooks on both sides to hang his shirts and pants. He was more solemn on the drive home than he was in the trip to the laundromat – he was a bit sad – in many ways this trip was the high point of his week. He always dreaded the last bit of the trip up the long driveway across the front acreage of his estate. He tensed as he saw Maria in her trim uniform standing outside the front portico – waiting for him.

“Mister Vandermeer, why do you do this?” she scolded him as he climbed out of the BMW. “You know that is my job!”

“I know Maria… it’s just… it’s just… Well I can’t explain it. I want to do my own laundry.”

“But sir, we have a large laundry room here. It’s as good as any commercial laundry.”

“I know Maria.”

She pulled out the hangers from the car and handed the bundles to two other housekeepers that suddenly appeared. Maria then hauled out the basket herself.

“Mister Vandermeer! You didn’t even sort your laundry. I’ll bet you didn’t even use bleach or hot water on the whites!”

“Maria, I think my clothes last longer if I wash them in cold.”

“Last longer? You should throw these away. You should always wear new clothes.”

Maria turned, spun and went into the house carrying the basket. Craig Vandermeer followed inside, then turned into the media room on the right. There was a heavy glass, a container full of large custom ice cubes, and a two hundred dollar bottle of single malt Scotch sitting on the counter, waiting for him.

“Don’t mind if I do,” he said and poured himself a drink.