The gargling man

My pre-school years

were spent at the Torino apartments,

in San Carlos, California,

which was about a full days journey outside

of San Francisco, by ocean liner.


Those years total some of my

most beloved child-hood memories,

even if, after all this time,

they are less whole memories

than they are just

unconnected fragments of things

that I am fairly certain happened to me.



I can still remember

few people from

that apartment building.


There was Josh, he was my age,

and lived in an apartment upstairs

from ours, and Josh had

more monopoly game board money

than anybody I had ever met,

before or since.


There was Mette,

who was a little younger than myself,

and my most complete memory of her

was that she always seemed to have

a couple of lego pieces handy,

if needed,

and, indeed, some-times they were.


Then there was the Gargling Man …

He loved in our building, as well,

and he was the great mystery of

my early days on this planet.


“… And the Gargling Man gargles.

Gargling his life away.

How many times

did he gargle to-day?

1 … 2 … 3 … 4 …5 …

(from a 19th century French children’s jump rope song.)


Now there two schools of thought on the who and what of the Gargling Man.


It could be that,

in the design of the apartment building,

his bathroom was close to my bedroom,

and so, it goes to say,

the only time I would have been aware of

his presence was when he was in the bathroom,

getting ready for work,

or, preparing for bed.

Or, …


And this is my particular school of thought,

maybe the Gargling Man was just always gargling.


Which is correct?

No one can say. 


My mom swears

I am totally exaggerating the entire thing,

in particular this next part,

which she claims I

“cut from whole cloth”.

But I know what I saw.


For this one time,

I happened to be coming out

of my apartment,

when at the exact same time,

the Gargling Man was coming out of his.

Startled, I took an immediate step back.

For there he was,

as tall as a tree,

head cocked slightly back,

mouth wide open,

minty smell.



I squeaked a hello.

He glanced, nodded,

and said, “Hng-gar-o”.


I swear that is true.


But then, just like that,

one day the Gargling Man was gone.

I’d lay in my bed at night and

listen for the tell-tale sounds,

but there were none.


And for our time left remaining in the building,

a part of me continued to wonder … and worry.


“What will become of the Gargling Man?”

I would ask my dad.

But he would just look at me funny and say,

“I have no idea what that boy is talking about.”


Then, I guess, I forgot all about it.


That is, until one night,

many years later.

I was much older,

having just returned home for Winter break from college.


I happened to be up late,

watching a popular late night host on TV,

and the announcer said,

“Next up, actor, Mike Lookinland.”


But I must have mis-heard him,

because for a second,

I thought the announcer had said,

the ‘Gargling Man’.


And for that one moment in time,

I was so fucking proud.

Scan 9

the author, at about that same time.

Up the chain

I once joined a UFO cult.

My initiation was, surprisingly, very brief


I signed some papers,

was fitted for a robe,

the leader said a few words,

and then I was immediately handed

a small dixie-cup of poison.



Of course, I was aghast!

I said, hold on, one minute, folks,

I thought we built towards this.



“Taughannock Falls”

by Mary Cellini


Trefology’s on the moon

I dreamt that I was an astronaut

on the moon.


There I was, in my moon-suit,

searching for moon-rocks,

when what did I find,

stuck on the bottom of my space-boot,

but the most curious thing

I had ever seen on the moon,

a pirate treasure map!


Buried treasure on the moon?

But where?


It seemed too fantastic to be true.

Was I dreaming?

I asked Mission Control to pinch me, to be sure,

but they said my suit was not equipped

for remote pinches.


Too bad, I thought.

But, no matter, anyway,

because my life as an inter-stellar explorer of new worlds was about to get

a whole lot less boring.


Imagine, only 48 hours earlier,

I had landed on the moon,

without a dime in my pocket,

and, now, by an incredible twist of fate,

I would return to earth,

with enough treasure for a million dimes

and a million pockets.


But it was not without resistance, as

NASA urgently pleaded for me

to ‘get my head on straight’ and

return to earth immediately,

or risk being stranded on the moon



Return to earth without my moon-treasure?


There was treasure to be found!

But where?


Three weeks to the moon-day, later,

I was no closer to finding the treasure

than I had been at the start.

But it was then

I noticed something …


Printed on the flip side of the treasure map,

was the second

most curious thing

I had ever seen on the moon:

a children’s lunch menu!


Suddenly, all the pieces began to fall into place:

the crossword puzzle,

the find-a-word,

Captain Hardee’s ™ suggestion

I ask my parents for

permission to use crayons.


“Good Lord”, I said to myself.


“This is a children’s placemat!


Oh, woe is my tale, dear readers.

What had I done?!”

My hunt for moon-treasure was over.

My spirit crushed.

I was tired, deflated, stranded

and hungry.


And it was right about then, an order

of Captain Hardee’s ™ chicken fingers

was starting to sound pretty good


I grabbed the placement

and put it in my top space-pocket.

“NASA, I think I will staying a little bit longer”, I said, confidently,

to no one in particular.

Above me the lights flickered.


There was a Hardee’s to be found!

But where?



our first adventure outside since March



A dog’s life

It was in late-August,

the day my sister and I

returned home from summer camp

and our old dog Pepper was not

at the door to greet us.


Our father sat us down

and solemnly reminded us

that Pepper

had been with the family

since before we were born …


But then, seeing our faces,

he stopped and

thought for a moment,

and then explained that while we were at camp,

he had sent Pepper

to live on a farm upstate,

— a magical farm!

One where she could play all day long

and live a life of ease.


And, most importantly, he concluded,

it had been mostly Pepper’s decision.


We were suspicious, but

then mom appeared

and presented us with a surprise: 

a puppy

we named,

Pepper 2.


And suddenly, once again, all seemed right in our world.


That is, until, later that night,

just a little past our bed-time …


The phone rang.

I answered.

It was Pepper.


She barked & whimpered

into the phone.

“Pepper is that you?” I asked.

“Are you ok, gurl?”



I heard a human voice say,

“Get that receiver away from Pepper!”

And then the line went dead.


It was then I knew our father had lied.

Empire of the ants

They say from a plane

all the people look like ants,

and ants are too small to see,

but you know the ants are down-there anyway,

millions of them, and

just waiting for you to

leave on a plane trip.


At 3:00 a.m. I awoke in my bed

and suddenly remembered that I had left a

pie resting on the windowsill to cool.

So, I got up and went into the kitchen,

and when I opened the light,

I gasped as I saw thousands of ants

covering the pie.


This surprised me

because though I was aware

that I had a minor ant problem,

I didn’t think they

kept such late hours.


Nevertheless, as a result, now I had a major ant problem


My friend volunteered,

that ants hate cinnamon.

And while that is quite shocking,

I explained that I was not looking for

another reason to dislike the ants,

I just wanted them gone.


My friend said,

No, no, no, that is not what she meant,

but that

ants really hate cinnamon,

and I should try

leaving some out.


So, that evening I

made some delicious cinnamon toast,

and I left it on a

plate on the counter as a

warning to the ants.


Come morning-time, to my disappointment,

the cinnamon toast was gone.

The ants had eaten it anyway, I guess.

But, at least,

I had the satisfaction of knowing

they did not enjoy it.



Follow us.

Home gardens

I remember

when-ever one of us kids

had a loose tooth,

our father would go to the basement

and return with some

string from his work-bench.


Making a loop in the string,

he would then attach

one end of the string to the loose tooth,

& the other end of the string

to a doorknob.


He’d do a countdown

from three,




And then he would

chuck the doorknob

out the window.


“That’s another one for the yard”

he’d say,

reaching for his binoculars

The dancer

I told my enemy that

if I should out-live him

I would most surely

dance on his grave.


“Over my dead body you’ll dance!”

He exclaimed,

shaking with anger.


“Exactly” I replied.


And I outlived him,

and I danced on his grave.

Dear reader,

you have never

seen such grave dancing.


But here is the strange part,

for when I had finished,

I swear to you,

I thought I heard some muted applause.


I guess, in the end,

I will say this much for him,

I may not have liked him,

but the guy knew what was good.


0-11will trefology save you in time?


I grew up in a poor family.

We were poor,

but un-happy.

It seemed like good times were hard to come by.

And most-days,

we didn’t have two nickels to rub together.

But I remember, too,

those times when we did have two nickels,

& we’d rub them together

all night long. 

The cock-a-hoop ghost

One evening,

while driving down an old highway,

I picked up a mysterious hitchhiker.

I asked him where he was headed,

and in a deep voice,

he told me he was going to Memphis to see his mama.


Now this hitchhiker was very polite,

always replying with a

“Yes, Sir”, or a “No, Ma’am”,

depending on the question or

how the lights of the passing cars

reflected off my eyes.


I asked him his name, and

he laughed softly to himself, and replied,

“Let’s just say it rhymes with Presley.

Then he gave gave me a wink.


I immediately began making guesses,






But the mysterious hitchhiker only winked again

and asked me to stop making guesses.


He told me that life had taught him a valuable lesson,

which he would reveal to me,

if I was willing to listen.


I said, no, but

he began to weave a tale, anyway,

which I will relate to you now.


The mysterious hitchhiker

told me that many years ago,

he had willingly given up the august spot-light,

and the adulation of millions

for anonymity and adventure.

He traveled the world several times and again,

solving crimes, and exploring mysteries,

such as,

living for forty days in

the Pacific Northwest wilderness,

searching for Bigfoot.


At the end of his journey,

with no sightings of the mythical beast,

the hitchhiker concluded,

that maybe Bigfoot was a thing

that could only

be ‘found’

when searching within oneself.



when the hitchhiker returned home,

he found a note from Bigfoot

that read,

Just stopped by to say, Hello.




But then, as an afterthought,

on the back, Bigfoot mentioned that he hoped

the hitchhiker was not hiding somewhere

in the Pacific Northwest wilderness

just to avoid paying back the $40 he owed him.


This, of course, was not true, for as,

the hitchhiker had previously noted,

it was he who had been looking for him!


 Unfortunately, for the hitchhiker,

Bigfoot, had taken the opportunity

to crash at the hitchhikers pad for several weeks, too,

eating all of his food,

breaking all of his chairs,

and doodling all over his personal stationary.


What was worse, Bigfoot

had run also off with his ‘old lady’.


This surprised the hitchhiker the most of all,

because he had always thought

she worshipped the ground he walked on.

And, in a way, he was right,

as she would eventually leave Bigfoot, too,

and move in with

a piece of ground.





The hitchhiker grew sullen and he

turned his attention back to

looking out the car window.


As we passed though a small town,

the hitchhiker interrupted my whistling

and asked if I could let him out

near a Ralph’s supermarket.

“I need to pick up some-thing for my mama,” he said.


I obliged, and pulled into the Ralph’s ample parking lot,

but after I had parked the car,

I suddenly realized that I was all alone.

The mysterious hitchhiker was gone!


What could it all mean?” I asked myself.

Then I noticed something on the passenger seat.

It was the hitchhikers,

Ralph’s value club card.

Had the hitchhiker been trying to teach me a lesson about savings?

It was just all too much for me to process.



I went into the store,

used his Ralph’s value club card and

saved fifty cents on paper towels,

and box of microwave sushi.


“Savings.” I said confidently,

as I walked my discounted loot up to the counter.


As I paid for my items,

the grocery checker looked at the name on the receipt

and said, “Thank you, Mr. Nestlé!”

I nodded,

struck a rock n roll pose,

curled my lip

and said,



“Oh, all right,” said the checker.





Exactly ten years later to the day,

I was on the same road again,

and happened to stop at old highway diner for breakfast.


There I overhead three truck drivers

talking about a

mysterious hitchhiker

they had all individually encountered.


“Trying to get home to his mama.” Said one.

“Disappeared into thin air” said the other.

“Looking for his Ralph’s value club card,” said the third.