Sunday, January 06, 2008


Many people have hit the Author's blog in the wake of the posts regarding the roadtrip in search of the "Lordsburg Door".

Mike Smith, who writes "My Strange New Mexico", has also written about the "Lordsburg Door" on his online column. And other sites have picked up the story.

Well, as anyone that is interested in space-time portals knowS, they are darned hard to find. They are probably darned hard to find because they almost certainly do not exist. But that won't stop the Author from looking.


And the Author did. He wrote a little historical short-story about a fictional "Door", the "Diamond Lake Door." Residents of Noble County, Indiana will recognize the place and the setting of the story. But such a "door" coule be found anywhere.

The story will be posted in three installments. The first part is below. The other two components will be posted this week. Enjoy!.



The man looked to be about a hundred years old. Teeth gone, a week of stubble, a whirly-gray mop of hair on his wrinkled-up head.

The boys meet him while fishing on the South Branch.

The boys were cut loose of chores earlier in the day and had gone fishing. They had some luck, too with wigglers. Between the four of them, they’d hauled in nine nice small-mouth bass.

Johnny, Isaac, Tom and Nathaniel had just gotten out of the fifth grade for summer. They lived in town so they didn’t have to work all day like the farm kids. They had chores, like in the vegetable garden and hauling in wood or coal for the stove, but they had most days to themselves.

The old man introduced himself as “Chestnut Daniel”. He claimed he fought with General Winfield Scott in the Mexican-American War. He said he was a drummer boy and that he got grazed by a musket ball at Cerro Gordo.

“See the crease,” he said, pulling up the straggly gray hair that grew down below his ears. “This here crease is why I can find things that other folks can’t. This here crease is why I can go places other folks can’t. This crease is why I see things…”

He did have a crease. It started above his ear and went back a ways. It looked like a little red canyon in the side of his head.

“Horse hockey,” Isaac said. “You’re just a’ sayin’ all this so we’ll give you over some fish ‘cause you ain’t had breakfast or dinner.”

The old man pulled an iron pan out his bindle. He set it down, and then took a small tin of lard from the bindle. He smiled at the boys and winked at Nathaniel with his one good eye. The old man had a wall-eye just like Nathaniel.

“Now you young fellers said you’d share me a couple of them nice fish if I told you about the Diamond Lake Door. So let me tell you about it.”

He took the two fish down to the river and cleaned the fish on a shore rock. He left the heads, tails, scales and offal on the rock.

“You think we was smart giving that old fella two fish to hear some stories,” Tom asked.

Isaac shook his head no. Johnny shifted his weight from onside to the other.

“We got plenty of fish to bring home. I figure we can spare two,” Johnny said.

The old feller brought the cleaned fish back up from the river. He set them on his blanket. He dipped up a small amount of lard from the tin and put it in the pan. Then he placed the pan over his small fire.

“Yeah, boys, them fish will cook up nice.”

The story began simple enough. Ever since he got creased with the Mexican musket ball, the old man said, he sees ghosts, things from the future, things from the past. Sometimes, the old man said, he could see other places or even walk in and out of other places. He saw them in Mexico, he saw them on the evacuation ship, and he’s seen them ever since.

“Sometimes I can just look at a feller, or a house, or a lady and I can see what they were a doin’ some time back. Or what is going to happen come next week, or next year. I can’t only sometimes tell when something happened or will happen, but I can see it, just the same,” the old man said, pulling the bones out of the fish with his knife.

“Damn good fish, boys. Damn fine.”

“You see anything about us,” Nathaniel asked.

“Can’t say for sure. This mornin’ I kind of saw that you boys would be out here. But that’s all I can remember. There was more, but I can’t remember what it all was,” the man replied.

“Wasn’t you going to tell us about the Diamond Lake Door,” Johnny said.

“Well yeah, I am a getting’ there. Just hold your horses,” the old man said.

“Like I be ah sayin, I see things, see ghosts, see other places. And a few times, just a few now mind you, I come across places where I can walk in and out of other times, other places.”

Isaac and Johnny stood back away with crossed arms. But Tom and Nathaniel were sitting cr ossed legged, with their hands on their chins and their elbow on their knees.

“I call them places “Doors”, because that’s about the best word for them. There was a lot of them in Mexico. Lands sake, there were at least eight or ten of them. Some of them went back to the Indians or them old Spaniards wearin’ the steel helmets and breast plates. One of them was real noisy, with people talkin’ loud that I couldn’t see.’

“When I got back to America, I didn’t see the doors for awhile. But coming through Ohio in 1852, I come across another ‘un. And this one I walked into. Yes sir, I done walked right into it. And it took me right back into the past.”

“What was it like,” asked Nathaniel.

“Well, young man, it was real cold when I first stepped into it. Cold like to go through your bones.’

“But then it was warm again, just like summer time. Yes, I recall it was summer. There had been a little skirmish, I reckon. Soldiers dressed like they was from the first Indian wars, four of them layin’ dead. Dead for a few days, by a smellin’. A couple had hatchet marks in their heads and the other two was shot through with musket balls. Indians got them fellas.’

“Where was the Indians,” Tom asked.

“Them Indians was long gone. I wouldn’t of hung around if them Indians was still there. Well, then, the Indians had taken the men’s muskets and near everything they had. But one of the men had a pistol that the Indians must have missed. So I grabbed the pistol and went back out of the door.”

“How’d you find the door to go back out, Tom asked.

“The doors stay open for awhile. And when you get close to them, you can see through to the other side.”

“We wasted two fish on this old scutter,” Isaac said, “We’re crazier than he is.”

Isaac walked down to the river and started chucking rocks into the water. But Tom and Nathaniel remained intently, and Johnny stayed to listen.

“I can understand why a fella like your friend don’t believe what I’m sayin’. I could hardly believe it myself if it didn’t happen to me.’

“Well, I go back through the door and bring back the pistol with me. I take it into town and take it to a gunsmith. The gunsmith says that he hasn’t seen this model in years. It was made by William Parker around 1790, he figured. But he give me four dollars for it.”

“What about the Diamond Lake Door,” Nathaniel pressed.

“Well, last winter I fixed me up a nice lean-to just north of Diamond Lake. I done a lot of fishing through the ice. One morning I am just wakin’ up and hear’d a bunch of commotion and people talking. And it was another door. I go through the door and now it’s night time. I walk a little ways through the trees and find the folks ‘a talkin’. A bunch of fellers had this horse thief tied up. Some of them wanted to hang him, some of them wanted to take him to the courthouse in Goshen.’

“I stayed back a ways cause I didn’t want to get messed in with them. They might of thought I was a friend of the feller’s and trying to get him loose. I didn’t want my neck stretched. So I found the door and came back out.”

“They did hang a man out there. He was part of a gang of horse stealers. The Regulators caught him and hung him,” Nathaniel said.

“That’s just an old story,” Johnny replied. “I heard that story myself.”

“No,” Nathaniel said, “my dad said it was true. He heard it from L.Q. Hiatt’s dad. Hiatt’s dad said he was there and was with the Regulators.”

“I can’t say I seen ‘em hang the fella,” the old man said, “but they’s ready to.”

“And that weren’t the only time I went through the door. I went through it three other times. Didn’t see any other people, but it took me back some years in time, before they was gravel pittin’ on Diamond Lake hill. And a couple of times, it took me back to Ohio, where I think I was from.”

“What do you mean, think you were from? Don’t you know,” asked Tom.

“Boys, I don’t remember anything before I was creased with that Mexican musket ball. Not nothin’. Not where I was from, who my kin was, my pa’s name. I couldn’t remember my own name ‘cept that they told me what it was. But now I just go by ‘Chestnut Daniel.’

“And I think I’m from Ohio, because that is what the Army told me, that my enlistment papers said some town in Ohio.”

The old man told them to just go out to Diamond Lake Hill and they might find the Diamond Lake Door. He thanked them for the fish, washed off his frying pan in the river, and packed up his bindle.

“You ever remember what you seen about us,” Nathaniel asked as the old man was leaving.

“Not exactly. But it seems like it is something big. I just can’t quite see it,” he replied.

He took off north towards the Lake Shore and Southern Michigan Railroad. He said he was going to follow the tracks west for a ways.

War! When they got back to town the main street of Lincoln was rollicking with the news that the country was at war with Spain and was going to send troops to fight in Cuba, Puerto Rico and somewhere over in the Pacific Ocean.

A few of the business men and livery men gathered out in front of the newspaper office of the “Lincoln Banner”. Nathaniel’s father owned the newspaper. War fever had been running high and most of the men, middle-aged and some quite rotund, backed the invasions.

But while their parents and the people out in front of Nathaniel’s father’s small newspaper office were abuzz about war, the boys were thinking about the Diamond Lake Door.

Even though Isaac was down at the river throwing rocks while Johnny, Tom and Nathaniel were listening to the old fellow, he did hear most of what was said. And Isaac agreed with his friends that they should go out to Diamond Lake and look for the Door. Diamond Lake was only about five miles outside of town. It was a little over an hour’s walk each way, so they’d have most of the day to look for the Door.

The boys met up about 8 o’clock the next morning. They headed south out of town to meet up with the Diamond Lake Road. The Diamond Lake Road would take them right along the north edge of the lake, where Chestnut Daniel said they could find the Door.

It was late April and the farmers were out in the field. Draft horses pulled plows across the fields. The winter wheat fields were bright green against the browner fence rows. They recognized some of the men and boys and waved to them from the road.

“Ain’t you glad we don’t have to spend our days looking up a horse’s ass like those farmers,” Isaac asked.

“Yep” was the consensus....



So, did the train wreck? Is the plane still in the air? When will the dog give its notice to move out?

Recessions are usually defined as two consecutive quarters of negative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) “growth”. Better said, two consecutive quarters of real declines in GDP. Odds for a recession are approaching 50% for 2008. The Author thinks they are a little higher than that. Here’s why:

1. What’s left to grow? Stocks are overpriced by historical measures. The real estate bubble burst. Commodities are high, but a recession will kick them back a few notches.

2. Where’s my wages. Wage growth has been stagnant for quite a few quarters. Unemployment rates have recently crept upwards. Figures out in the last few days peg unemployment at 5%, the highest since 2005. And inflation takes more to buy less.

3. Liquidity? What’s that?

And those are just the problems of the next couple years. It looks worse further out.

This country is on a collision course with fiscal reality. Tax revenues cannot support current spending. Tax revenues cannot support estimated growth in current discretionary spending. Tax revenues have no hope of supporting non-discretionary healthcare and social security entitlements in the decades to come.

And the government lacks the political courage to match revenues to expenditures.

The US is at no current risk of default on its obligations, Treasury Bonds, Treasury Notes and Treasury Bills. But couls it ever happen? Does the decline in the dollar tell you anything? Is it going down because the faces and the colors on the Euro are more interesting?


On Morning Edition on National Public Radio (1.2.2008), there was a segment that interviewed average people along Interstate 10. (In a weird coincidence, the Author was driving on Interstate 10, New Year’s Day, driving home from Tempe, Arizona. The Author attended the Insight Bowl on New Year’s Eve Day where the Indiana University Hoosiers football team played Oklahoma State.)

Three women were interviewed for the segment. The first was an assistant manager from a convenience store in Sonora, Texas. She was a single mother struggling to raise kids. Her kids had no health insurance. She was getting financial assistance from her father. The interviewer asked the single mother what was the biggest political issue as she sees it. Was it the Iraq war, economy, healthcare? (Healthcare would have seemed to be the most salient point with the woman. Every other First World Nation in the world provides universal healthcare except the US. Might that not be a solution to her problem?)

‘No’, replied the single mother, it was illegal immigration. She claimed that the Mexicans were getting all kinds of welfare services that she could not get. The interviewer told her that research shows that illegal immigrants do not have access to many welfare services.

The woman then stated that she sees lots of “them” with nice cars. Isn’t that the same thing Ronald Reagan said in his race-baiting comments about the so-called “Welfare Queens” and their Cadillac’s? The single mother probably never considered the fact that immigrants work very hard and live very frugally. She probably sees no irony in the fact that she lives in a town named “Sonora” in a former Mexican State.

Another interviewee lived in Beaumont, Texas and works for the local newspaper. She is very close to retirement age and is not yet engaged in the 2008 political races. But as someone that works for a newspaper, she did note that she “understands” the issues.

Finally, the segment interviewed a nurse that lived in Mobile, Alabama, another city along Interstate 10. She was a resident of New Orleans but was forced to move when Hurricane Katrina destroyed her neighborhood. She still considers New Orleans “home”. She commutes to New Orleans to work as a nurse because the salary is twice as high as in Mobile. And, she stated, as a healthcare professional, she considers healthcare one of the top issues in the next political races.


One of the Author’s most cynical and morbidly keen observations regards the futility of providing “better” education to American kids. Why spend more money to provide kids better education until we get a better crop of kids? It is that pellucid. The Author would not have recommended spending more money to educate his sub-moronic cohort in the 1970s, nor his predecessors or the ilk that came later. Or the flotsam and jetsam presently hulking around Play stations and their pandering parents.

It is not simply that the Author is cynical about the future of America. Or that he is disappointed with the current state of affairs. That would be too conventional, too conducive to simply spouting platitudes in a mawkish and pious voice. That is what the current leadership, economic and political, wishes Americans to do. Cuss at the traffic, “high-five” their talk radio host, worry about their fantasy football teams and blame the scapegoat de jour. Put a flag sticker and a yellow ribbon on their autopmobile bumpers. Use their charge cards if they lack sufficient cash for gasoline.

Just keep electing and reelecting us. We know they are bums, but we do not through them out. And even when we do, they still have the Senate filibuster.

But that is more than political misdirection. It is the corrosion caused by self-deception.

Bellum omnium contra omnes. (the war of all against all.)


In the mid-17th Century, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes saw the condition of humankind without a civil authority as “bellum omnium contra omnes”, “the war of all against all”. To avoid this chaotic state, humans enter into a “social contract”, giving up some liberties to live in a stable society. That is ostensibly why there are governments.

But the contract is unraveling. It was probably not that great in the first place. Women were excluded for the first 150 years. Black Africans were interned at hard labor so rich white Royalists in the South could extend the “natural order” of Feudal rule.

No, the “social contract” is tattered at the edges and faded on the page. Crony capitalism and upper-middle and upper class sense of entitlement belie the claims of a “classless society.” Liberties erode while stability decays. Little wars placate the “arm-chair warrior” and obfuscate the breaches of the social contract.

Why, in the midst of all this, spend public dollars to privatize privilege? Why, in the wake of all of this, throw more pearls at the “more equal” swine. Why, with the prospect of all of this, incentivize the continuation of the kleptocracy.

Or, given the Iowa Caucus victory of Mike Huckabee, enact the National Sales Tax masquerading as the so-called “Fair Tax” and accelerate the transfer of the nation’s wealth to the richest Americans.

Lessons are cheaper to learn in lean times. Hard times create hard realities and make for hard truths. Do not dim the glare and harshness of high noon in America. Come clean with the Kids.

And save your money, America. You’re gonna need it.