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“He Wasn’t In His Right Mind”

“All of the victims were shot in their heads
and all but McGowan were shot in their beds,”
Doyle said.

“The beds were undisturbed.
The house itself was undisturbed,”
Doyle said.

“There were no signs
of a break-in,”
Doyle said.
No Motive Found in California Murders

Above, the unintentional “found poetry” of a local murder in Garner Valley, California. Exceptional enough to be brought to the ever-shortening attention span of the nation because the toll was unusually high: David, Father, age 42 — believed dead by his own hand; Chase, son, age 14; Paige, daughter, age 10; Raine, daughter, age 8; Karen, wife and mother, age 42; Karen’s mother, no name or age given in the report.

We learn that a “911 dispatcher didn’t hear any voices on the line, but was able to identify the sounds of the telephone hitting the wall and a gunshot.” We learn that the father’s body was found next to a handgun and a phone. We learn that “this community is in no danger. We are not at this time looking for a suspect.” We learn that the town is really quiet and that, “A lot could happen right next door and you wouldn’t even know it.”

We don’t learn if the standard spontaneous shrine of flowers, balloons, stuffed animals, and children’s art and crayoned notes has been erected at the edge of the police tape in front of the home, but we know it will be, and it will remain until the rains wash away.

We won’t learn unless we live in that small town, the “why” of it all.

We probably could know, in time, the why of it all if we became interested in this common killing, exceptional only for its body count. We could learn if we followed the ever-shrinking national news reports down to the local level. We could, we think, learn why if we followed the reports on through the inquest and into the six graves that wait after all the bodies are autopsied by the men who spend their lives
“Working on mysteries
Without any clues….”

We could know why, but we won’t bother to find out. No need really. We already think two things that keep us from needing to know. First, we think that we do know what happened in the house. Second, we know — because it happened in that house — it will never happen in our house.

We know it will never happen in our house because, as humans, we have an almost limitless ability to forget any hint of ‘could happen’ when it comes to horror. In those few moments when our forgetfulness fails us, we remain secure in our belief that we would never do such things to those we love. We know to an absolute certainty that anyone who could do such things must not have been “in his right mind.”

At some point, you lose the power to keep your right mind in control of your wrong mind.

That’s a common but still strange phrase — “not in his right mind.” Everyone uses it as shorthand for things people do that are, large or small, somehow far outside what we normally expect them to do. Nobody that I know of takes it to the other side of that common phrase and looks at what a person does when he’s “in his wrong mind.”

Our right mind doesn’t like to think it’s got a wrong mind. It doesn’t like to think so because the mind does indeed have one, and it is hardwired. Each of our right minds has a wrong mind and we are, with good reason, very, very frightened of it. So frightened that we don’t think of it because to even think of our wrong mind gives it power, and it has far too much of that already. It has so much power that, once the wrong mind starts to control us, it takes, as they say in those rooms, “a power greater than ourselves to restore us to sanity.”

I grow increasingly uncertain about many things in this life, but of that one thing, that greater power, I once became, and today remain, certain of without a scintilla of a smidgen of a doubt. Like most men, I tend to forget about that greater power when mucking about in the detritus of daily life. That really doesn’t matter. Sooner or later I am always given a miraculous moment on the small scale of ordinary life that lets me know in no uncertain terms that, for human beings, only “a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.”

I know that this invisible power exists because I have seen it.

You might think that this encounter with a “greater power” is a “drinking thing,” but for me it was a “feeling thing.” Except for a few years when I was young and it was the style, plus a brief passage later, I’ve never been much of a drinking man. My default state, when it comes to drinking is that I find I can drink as much as I want, but that I don’t want to drink all that much.

My problem and one of my many flaws is this “feeling thing.” I can very easily feel too much and have a problem stopping the feeling of feeling too much. My mother used to remind me of this as a boy when she’d remark, “You can’t carry the weight of the whole world on your shoulders.”

It’s not easy being an empath. You learn early to just shut down emotions; to keep them caged with silence. You learn later, much later, that keeping feelings caged with silence is like putting your wrong mind on steroids. It only makes it stronger. Much stronger. At some point, you lose the power to keep your right mind in control of your wrong mind. And that’s when very bad things can start to happen.

One day in June many years ago…  in a universe far, far away…  in a small town on the eastern side of this continent… bad things started to happen in me.

It was at the end of the usual long banal litany of love gone off the tracks — secrets, lies, scorn, and selfishness. There were years of too little money followed by far too much money coming too quickly until people could finally afford the favorite American fantasy of dumping the old and tried to get to the new and better for the sake of “personal growth.”

Her need for personal growth and “more space” had been building for over a year, as had my own silent rage of feelings. She’d gone into the city for a late meeting and “dinner with a client.” It would “probably run late” so she’d just be “sensible” and “take a hotel room and come back in the morning.” How perfectly sensible that was. What could I do but agree?

“A lot could happen right next door and you wouldn’t even know it.”

She got dressed for the city and packed an overnight case and got in her new Saab and drove off down the hill towards the city. I watched her car disappear around the bend in the road by the school. I waited by the window for five minutes and then went and searched her bathroom. I didn’t find what I was looking for.  She had taken everything she needed for  “dinner with a client” in those days.

I checked my six in my soul and found, naturally, no real emotions roaming about. They were safely locked behind the bars of silence and there was no key. So, without really thinking about it all that much, I did what any normal American would do under such circumstances. I got into my wrong mind and went shopping.

I backed my gold ’72 Cadillac out of my garage under the house and drove down the hill to Highway One and turned right in the direction of the city she’d gone to. I drove less than half a mile to the store that stood alone in the trees and turned left into the parking lot and went inside.

An hour or so later I drove back to my house and pulled into the garage feeling, as the song says, “comfortably numb.” I set the brake and went to move my right hand off the steering wheel to turn off the ignition key.

But I could not. I could not move my hand off the steering wheel and onto the key.

You never really think about how you move your hand until you can’t move it. The hand is the mind and soul’s interface with the world. It’s working that way right now as I press the keys that make these words and this period.

When you find, suddenly, that your hand won’t obey your brain, that you’ve lost the power to make it do your bidding, it brings everything else in you to a full stop. It did with me that afternoon in my garage.

“I decided I don’t really need this after all.”

Even though the house was in a very quiet area on a side road above the town, everything seemed to get much quieter still in those moments when I couldn’t move my hand. So quiet in fact that the white noise that had whined in my mind all afternoon faded out until I heard a voice whisper in my ear, quite calmly and distinctly, “You shall return that stuff in the trunk right now.”

The stuff in the trunk was a brand-new shotgun and a carton of shells “for home defense.”Whatever it was that was telling me to return “that stuff” wasn’t making a suggestion. It was giving me an order that, because God was not yet done with me, I could not refuse. I knew it, my right mind knew it, and my wrong mind knew it and was taken, in that instant, by that power, and put back in its place deep beneath the light.

Only then I could move my hand, not to turn off the ignition — that was still not allowed — but to put the car into reverse, back out of the garage, drive back to the Gun Shop, and return “that stuff in the trunk.”

When I walked in with the stuff and laid it on the counter to get my money back I said, “I decided I don’t really need this after all.”

The man who sold the stuff to me gave me a straight look and said, “I guess you don’t.”

He was right. What I did need, I decided, was a drink. And since that need’s solution is always ready to hand in America, I drove across Highway One and directly to the local dive bar back from the road next to the on-ramp to I-95.

There was always someone there more depressed, ugly, and crazy than you could ever be.

I’d seen far too much of this scuzzy joint in the last few months and I was destined to see a lot more of it in the months to come. It was one of those ‘great bad places’ in American life; one of those spaces where they’re selling, morning, noon, and far into the night, eight kinds of Despair on tap and a wide selection of Numb on the shelves behind the bar; mixed, on-the-rocks, or “neat.” Naturally, it was called “The Tip-Top”

“The Tip-Top” had been through a lot of owners, each of whom was determined to get more money out of it by putting less into it. It wasn’t quite to the stage where you could get a shot and a beer while standing in rubble up to your knees, but it was getting there. It had the requisite thick smoke from stubbed out, lipstick-stained L&Ms for standard atmosphere, but it had something extra as well. It always seemed to me that, in some strange way, the management had managed to inject into the haze of blue-gray smoke a fine particulate of black specks. It seemed to give it … character.

It was one of those bars whose main attraction was that no matter how down you were and no matter how ugly you were and no matter how crazy you were, there was always someone there late at night that was more depressed, ugly, and crazy than you could ever be. That made you feel good in a very bad sort of way. To amp up this quality feeling, the jukebox — on those evenings it worked — was dedicated to country and western songs. Did I mention that it was called the “Tip-Top?” It was and it was just the bar for me; my own very downmarket version of the cocktail lounge in “The Shining.” The only real difference was that at the Tip-Top I always had to pay.

As I said, I’ve never been a drinking man, but in those days I did drink more than I have before or since. Sometimes much more. The extra advantage of going to the Tip-Top was that I could drive back to my house about a mile away along back roads where, late at night, the police only came when they were called. A perfect situation. What a brilliant bar it was.

After leaving the Gun Shop and walking into the Tip-Top with cash in hand, my first move was a shot of Irish whiskey with a beer back so I could toast whatever power it had been that had forced me to take the stuff in the trunk back to the dealer. I had no idea what the power was, but I knew I felt stronger for it. I was again in perfect control of my feelings. I was so much in control of my feelings that I felt the need to celebrate that achievement with an aperitif, which in this case was another shot of Irish whiskey. Tullamore Dew — top-shelf stuff, no well bottles for me.

By the time that was down, I was feeling hungry, so I took a look at the fly-specked bar menu at the Tip-Top and ordered their daily special, a pint of Guinness at half-price. Very nutritious.

Not quite full, I decided on dessert which, being a double Kahlua on the rocks, was far too sweet for my tastes and needed a night-cap of Cognac, served neat in a snifter, the better to get a quality case of the vapors.

For the second time that day,

I couldn’t move my hand.

Having taken all necessary measures to feel no feelings at all, I left and got in my car and drove carefully on the back roads with all the windows open — for the refreshing breeze — until I pulled into my garage. This time I had no trouble at all with my hand and shut off the ignition.

I got out of the car, leaving the driver’s door open, and walked back and pulled the garage door down. The garage was under the house and, because the house was built to keep everyone warm through the New England winters, the garage door had flanges that sealed it tightly against the cold winds and snow. I’d installed a new bottom seal the autumn before so I knew it was in good shape, even Tip-Top.

I turned from the door and walked back along the car intending to go up the stairs and into the house and to bed. Instead, I found myself getting back into the driver’s seat. I sat there for a moment and stared at the back wall of the garage with its collection of rakes, shovels, and other tools. There was a dingy storage compartment off to the right and I remember thinking that I really had to give it a new coat of paint.  

Then it came to me that it would be a really good idea, a perfect idea, a shiningly stunning idea if I would simply reach out my hand and turn the engine on. A glance at the gauge on the way home had informed me I had over half a tank. That would certainly be enough to get me where I had to go. It was a warm summer night and I could even leave the windows down. Better still, I didn’t need to worry about being a little drunk and getting pulled over and having to breathe in a tube since I wouldn’t be driving on any roads at all. I looked at this plan from a lot of angles and I could find no flaw in it.

Okay, I thought, let’s get on with it. So I told my hand to reach out and turn the key. “Gentleman, start your engine.”

And for the second time that day, I couldn’t move my hand.

I mean, I really could not move my hand. I told it to move with my mind in no uncertain terms over and over to no effect. It just stayed in my lap in that limp and unresponsive state your limbs get to if you sleep on them and cut off the circulation. When I thought about reaching across with my left hand to do the duty of my right hand, that entire arm stopped working. That made me angry enough to talk to my hand out loud, “Just get with it. Quit screwing around and turn the damn key!”

Which is when I wept, very loudly and for a very long time, but not for the last time that year. It was okay to weep though because, as I thought at the time, I was the only one there.

When that was over, I got out of the car and up the stairs to the kitchen and then up to bed where I indulged myself in the luxury of passing out with my clothes on.

I woke up in a patch of sunlight the next morning, stripped, took a shower, six aspirin, a lot of orange juice, and three cups of coffee sitting outside at the picnic table I’d built next to the rope swing I’d hung from the oak, close by the small platform treehouse I’d put up in the willow. All that was over now, and there’d be years of bad days ahead, but they’d all — no matter how bad — be better than the day I’d just passed through.

Somehow I’d gotten into my “wrong mind.” Somehow, I thought then, I’d gotten back into my “right mind.” The thing with the hand not working bothered me quite a bit, but I didn’t have any ready explanation for it, and, being a man who just loves rational explanations, I put it aside until I could ‘study the phenomenon’ from some book that certainly had the answer.

I didn’t know then that the only sensible and rational answer was that “a power greater than ourselves had restored us to sanity.” I think I know that now, even if I forget from time to time.

But I remember it anew when, like this morning, I read the common, garden variety headline, No Motive Found in California Murders. That could have been my headline many years ago, and we all know the motive behind “No Motive Found.”

Over the years, I’ve told a couple of therapists and a few friends about sitting in my car in my garage with the door closed on that June night. I’ve never told anyone about the stuff that was in the trunk earlier that day. Until the end of my days, I’ll always be grateful and humbled by the power that stayed my hand and made me return that stuff.

A man named Poretto told me recently that Grace is something that is always waiting and knocking quietly at the door of your life. In California, yesterday, somebody forgot to answer the door. In Connecticut years ago, I couldn’t answer my door so something just kicked mine down, walked right in, and took over.

“A lot could happen right next door and you wouldn’t even know it.”

First published 2005

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • pbird February 27, 2018, 10:08 AM

    I remember that story from before. One of your best.

  • ghostsniper February 27, 2018, 10:11 AM

    “He Wasn’t In His Right Mind”

    That’s the pisswilly way of explaining it.
    Just because you don’t understand why he did it doesn’t mean he didn’t.
    He knew exactly what he was doing because he did it over and over again til he was done.

    I’ve actually thought of this type of scenario before, not that I would do it, but what was going through the mind of the person that would do such a thing. The first trigger pull commits the puller to the remainder, there is no going back after that first one.

    How did he do it without the others waking up? The article didn’t say what kind of gun was used nor did it say there was a 2 liter plastic bottle laying there with a couple holes in the bottom. It also didn’t say they were all drugged before hand.

    Now, lets step outside the comfort zone.
    If you are going to kill someone a gun is probably the best way for the victim and the shooter cause the time it takes to do the violence is minimalized. The shooter is detached from the situation, more so than say, if he used a long sword or axe. And especially so if he had used a knife, where he has to get right up on the victims do the wetworks first hand as it were. THAT would require the doer to have a set bigger than Rushmore. Imagine the terror of waking up with someone trying to kill your ass with a blade. With the gun there would be no waking up, you’d (the victim) never even know it happened. Same from the shooters perspective. After the slight head bounce and some red splattering everything would appear as before. Numbly move onto the next one. Especially if the shot was done from say 8-10 feet away, in the dark, with a flashlight, where the surrounding view was obscured. In a mottled haze, as you went to the next one it would almost seem as if it hadn’t happened, so you hurry to ride that adrenalin wave. Then after the last one the inevitable crashing of the wave on the beach. Oh the HUGE manatee!

    How much time elapsed from the last shooting until he shot himself?
    Unknown. Coroners cannot pinpoint the time factor that close.
    When he finished the phone call to the authorities it was like writing “The End” at the termination of the horror story he had just written, requiring the back book cover to be closed immediately.

  • Sam L. February 27, 2018, 10:26 AM

    He works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.

  • John Venlet February 27, 2018, 10:58 AM

    I’ve read this a couple/few times over the years, Gerard, and am thankful that you had the courage to share this experience with us.

  • Snakepit Kansas February 27, 2018, 11:00 AM

    Fantastic re-read.

  • Eskyman February 27, 2018, 2:00 PM

    Wonderfully well told, Gerard. I too have met with that Power; I too was restored to sanity.

    For me, the darkness was dispelled, and a new dawn arose. I am thankful to have been touched and healed by a Power greater than myself.

  • rabbit tobacco February 27, 2018, 2:05 PM

    first, my God doesn’t love everyone. Second,the worst thing God can do is leave you alone and at some point he hardens your heart. The mind is spirit it resides all over the body not just the brain. The mind can be good or evil depending on what it is fed. Their is a spiritual warfare going on in the mind. Be careful what you let in your head.

  • Dex Quire February 27, 2018, 2:48 PM

    Beautiful memoir, well-written. I think of it every so often and I’m glad you re-post it.

  • ghostsniper February 27, 2018, 5:43 PM

    your avatar looks like casey

  • Casey Klahn February 27, 2018, 7:58 PM

    Rent free, baby.

    Put all of your prose over here, Gerard. We love ya.

  • Roy Lofquist February 28, 2018, 12:00 AM

    There’s seven people dead
    On a South Dakota farm
    There’s seven people dead
    On a South Dakota farm
    Somewhere in the distance
    There’s seven new people born

    The Ballad of Hollis Brown – Bob Dylan

  • Jayne February 28, 2018, 6:08 AM

    First time reading that powerful story for me. Uplifting despite the darkness of it. Thank you for that, it was a beautiful reminder of God’s Grace during Lent.

  • Dan Patterson February 28, 2018, 7:01 AM

    Been there and done that my own self, after a fashion.
    Not a thing easily understood by the uninitiated.
    Not in his right mind? To the inert outsider, perhaps, but for the poisoned, weary, discarded, and broken it seems the thing to do. At that moment. That there are souls who would be irreparably torn by your self-destruction is not a variable in the equation, and there is an equation to be certain. Written by fate in crisp hand with indelible ink on one side of the parallel lines, and by you on the other. But with a pencil stub, unsharpened and hurriedly, barely readable and erased with spit and thumb. Until even you cannot read what you wrote.
    So by then there is one correction you can make to even the equation. But before you do there is a word question you have to answer: Is it worth it?
    Maybe that’s what is meant by right mind?

    Better days now, for all of us I hope. Having sat in that seat makes us wiser doesn’t it?
    Cheers and all that.
    Love you mean it.

  • DeAnn February 27, 2021, 6:35 AM

    What happened after that?
    Were you able to trust love again?

    I’m wondering what was lost.

  • Anonymous February 27, 2021, 6:53 AM

    We’ll use the Anonymous moniker this morning in lieu of my normal alias.

    Tamara Keel said just this morning that “statistically speaking, you already know the person you’re most likely to have to pepper spray.” Or worse. I’ve been where Gerard was that day. I don’t recommend it. When you find yourself standing at the edge of The Abyss, it’s best to take a step back and look around a bit.


  • Anon February 27, 2021, 7:44 AM

    I went through that with my (now) ex. She was very attractive and was hooked on attention. She was a friendly drunk and dabbled in drugs. She liked twosomes and loved threesomes. To get out she would use every excuse in the books and after they were all used up she would simply start a fight and take it to the point she needed to leave and go look for what she needed. I stayed for the kids, I stayed out of unwillingness to act, I stayed for love, I stayed because I was stupid. Until that day she started a fight and we were in our bedroom and she reached under the mattress and the gun she had bought for just this occasion was gone. She left, again, I question my son who had found the gun and he gave it to me. Finally I realized I should have left her years ago. I went and rented a storage unit, moved all of my things (because she would have destroyed whatever I left) and moved out. It wasn’t that easy of course. She needed to make me suffer some more and she did. But at least she didn’t shoot me.

  • Alexandria February 27, 2021, 8:50 AM

    Fantastic writing.

    Speaking to the actual case, when doing quick research, there’s a whole lot more to this murder-suicide story.

    You’re going to go down a rabbit hole if you start searching. Apparently there WAS a suicide note, three pages handwritten.

    From this website: http://zodiackillersite.com/viewtopic.php?f=83&t=4674

    “I have recently been researching the strange death of reporter Danny Casolaro and his work on what he termed ‘The Octopus’. If you’ve not heard about it then you’re in for a long, crazy ride when you start searching. Although often derided as a conspiracy theory, elements of The Octopus crimes have been given a lot of credence through the work of journalist Nathan Baca. He won the Emmy Investigative journalism award in 2008 for a 34-part series he filmed for KESQ-TV on a series of murders on the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians Reservation in 1981. He has made the series available on his youtube channel here:

    To cut a very long story short, these murders were believed to be connected to the Iran-Contra affair and were covered up by corrupt officers at the Desert Hot Springs P.D… which is overseen by the Riverside D.A.
    In 2005 Riverside D.A. invstigators David McGowan and Luis Bolanos were tasked with investigating the corruption at Desert Hot Springs, but unfortunately for them they began to uncover corruption higher up the chain at Riverside DA Office as well. McGowan took his findings to the FBI and arranged to officially testify to them about his investigation. Days before this could happen, he inexplicably decided instead to shoot his mother, wife and two children before turning the gun on himself.

    Three separate neighbours say they saw a suspicious van parked outside the house on the night of the murders and it flashed it headlights as if signalling to someone. When one of the neighbours approached the van, it sped off. The lead was never investigated.
    Luis Bolanos fought to have his partner’s ‘suicide’ investigated along with the DA corruption charges, but instead found himself facing false charges to end his career. he was cleared but understandably lacked the energy to keep up the fight.

    I’m not in any way linking this to CJB or Zodiac, just thought it was interesting to get some background on the county officials that took over cold cases in the early 2000s…”

  • Andrew R February 27, 2021, 9:53 AM

    “Not in his right mind.” Your memoir gives us a lot to think about. Which brings me around to another phrase: “food for thought”.

  • Terry February 27, 2021, 11:04 AM

    I have been there. Way back. My then wife said to me one day “you’re too moral”.

    I thought to myself, what is she saying. How can someone be too moral. I found out a couple years later. Yea, I’m both gullible and a slow learner.

  • Dirk February 27, 2021, 11:18 AM

    Unfortunately I’ve been right in the middle of thousands of divorces. Andddddd I’ve cleaned up the mess described in the intro on several occasions. Their’s is NO PAIN as hurtful as matters of the heart!.

    That pain is unbearable often, crushing, gut wrenching, turns strong strong men into whimpering babies, makes revenge seem sweet, dam the consequences.

    I don’t pretend to understand, just know what I saw, and what I learned from those leaving or staying. Sadly many never recover, they choose to end it all. Oooo the pain!.

    It’s amazing just what humans are willing to do to one another emotionally, physically.

    Village idiot!.

  • Vanderleun February 27, 2021, 1:07 PM

    Oh yes…about our village idiot, Van the Man says this:

    Oh village idiot, he’s complicated
    Village idiot, he’s got a simple mind
    Village idiot, must know something
    But he’s just not saying

    Well you all know he’s onto something
    You can see it in his eyes
    Sometimes he looks so happy
    When he goes walking by
    Sometimes he looks so happy
    When he goes walking by
    Sometimes he looks so happy
    When he goes walking by.

  • gwbnyc February 27, 2021, 1:48 PM

    “All of the victims were shot in their heads,
    and all but McGowan were shot in their beds,”

    Doyle said.

    “Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
    and here cames a chopper to chop off your head,”

    Orwell said.

  • nunnya bidnez, jr February 27, 2021, 6:48 PM

    you’ve got to suffer,
    if you want to sing the blues

  • Sam L. February 28, 2021, 7:47 AM

    I don’t remember that story. You’ve had a HELL of a life, but you’ve gotten thru it. That’s what counts.

  • Dirk February 28, 2021, 9:02 AM

    We’ll, I was graciously titled ” Idiot” by some pussy calls himself NC Scout. Says he’s from the best Scout outfit in the army” Don’t they all say that?” A TRUE pro, just ask him, his ” Staff”. Those boys amuse me, truly self licking LollyPops!.

    G, I’m not one to suffer fools, recognize I to achieve that standard often. However I recognize a compliment when given, hence forth, I’m the idiot, I felt it needed a finishing touch and since I adore your village of fine people here on AD,,,,,I took the liberty of recklessly adding Village!, to the Idiot.

    That’s my story, I’m sticking to it.

    Lyle Lovetts, ” ” Joshua Judges Ruth”” tastefully loud,,,,,,,, a hot coffee with jus a splash of Baileys, a dam fine start to this ol village idiots day.

    I don’t think the sky above Klamath Falls has ever been Bluer, the clouds more white, fluffy!.


  • Daniel K Day February 28, 2021, 7:50 PM

    I’ll say this for Dirk, who I’ve never met face to face but have corresponded with. He sent me a very generous gift, and it hasn’t been wasted and it hasn’t been forgotten.

  • Dan Patterson March 15, 2022, 11:48 AM

    Hey again to Gerard, and to all his minds, both right and not-right.

    I thought of responding to Gerard’s story, his hand not moving, and the voice telling him what to do. And to the larger topic of powerful forces intervening, a “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” sanctuary designed for empaths like us. But I see my name in the comments from four years ago so I beat myself to that punch.

    I wrote that, I guess. I must have. Or maybe my inner voice took over without me realizing?
    As commenter Rabbit Tobacco wrote “Be careful what you let in your head”.

    In my case the intervention was, on the surface, mechanical instead of ethereal. I meant to make it happen and I made the effort, there was no inner voice telling me one way or the other; I was on my own if not outright abandoned. Long story about how I got there at younger than 21.

    I tasted the barrel.

    And the click of a light firing pin strike on a .410 shotgun shell changes a man.

    I took slipknot I’d tied from a piece of momma’s clothesline off the trigger, stood up from the dirt floor of the old barn and worked the bolt on the Stevens hard. The green 3-inch shell spun out and hit the ground a few steps away. I didn’t hesitate, but walked to it, picked it up and without breaking stride threw it side-armed into the pine woods beyond the door.

    I wrote about that episode not long ago in response to a smart-assed remark from a fellow reader of Gerard’s. I repeat myself today as an offer to anyone any time realizing they’ve let the wrong thoughts take over. I can help. I’ve been exactly there before. I’ll let Gerard tell me if I should make my email or phone available on here, or if there is a better spot for it.

    My best to all y’all.