Monday, September 9, 2019

When Billie Holiday Addressed Our Health Care System and Opiates.

This country sure is Slooooow to change.  

I'm busy revising my YA historical fantasy, though the story only has one supernatural element. It's set in 1935 at the cusp of the Swing Era and the build-up to WW2.  Believe, me, there're too many similarities to the persecution of Jewish people, to what the current administration is doing to black and brown people in the U.S.A. TODAY! 

A dear friend and jazz singer gave me Lady Sings the Blues last week for my birthday. Hearing Billie Holiday's voice, her words and her mind has been profound, learning about her life and struggles and jazz music, and then reading this near the end of the book ...




" American used to make fun of the British health system, where sick people could go to doctors and hospitals for free and the government picked up the tab. We laughed about them handing out false teeth and wooden legs for free. We hollered about this being government interference with the practice of medicine."
"Well, let me tell you, in America if they haven't got government interference in medicine I don't know what it is. If you're on and you get a doctor for help, he can't help you because the government has passed out regulations saying, in effect, that if he does he will go to jail along with you. If you go to the doctor, he's liable to slam the door in your face and call the cops."

"Most countries in Europe are civilized about it and they have no "narcotics problem" at all. One day America is going to smarten up and do the same thing.  Not as long as the US has systematic racism! Imagine how far we'd be if bigots and cheaters didn't get their way. I'm sure we'd have advanced beyond our current realities. 


"It may not even happen in my lifetime. Whether it does or not is no skin off mine, because I can't possibly be hurt any more than I have been. But for the sake of other people who've got to suffer until the country wakes up, for the sake of young kids whose whle life will be ruined because they are sent to jail instead of a hospital, I pray to God we wake up soon over here. " 



"If you think you need to suffer to play music or sing, you're crazy.  It can fix you so you can't play nothing or sing nothing. The only thing that can happen to you sooner than later you'll get busted, and once that happens you'll never live it down. Just look at me."
"I don't want to preach to nobody. I never have and I don't want to begin now. But I do hope some kids will read this book an not miss the point of it. Maybe because I have no kids of my own--not yet--I still think you can help kids by talking straight to them."


"On a recent Sunday, Judge Jonah Goldstein talked about the narcotics problem on TV from New York. He told the people the same thing I've been trying to tell them; that narcotics has to be taken out of the hands of the police and turned over to the doctors! He said that in all his years on the bench he'd never seen anybody but poor people brought in for violation of the dope laws."

"He also said a man had come to him for advice recently because his twenty-year-old son had been hooked on dope. What did the judge advise him to do? Send the boy to England o school where doctors could treat him legally, cure him if they could, and if not, give him treatment legally just as if he had diabetes or something, so he could live a useful normal life."

"That's a hell of a recommendation for a judge to have to make in a civilized country; to admit that the only help a sick person hooked on drugs can get is outside the country,..." 



This is from the 1950s from Billie Holiday's autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues.  

My heart. <3 and="" brilliant="" day="" in="" lady="" many="" nbsp="" p="" profound="" so="" was="" ways.="">
Her voice lives on! 
In the YA I'm revising the MC is also dealing with barbiturate use. Commonly prescribed for sleeping pills during this time.  


We must make good change happen Faster!   

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Garage from "Ghosts in Tight Spaces" 1K Fiction.



                                    The Garage


“Billy, did you find it?” Mike asked, waiting under the car. Billy, his fifteen-year-old brother, enjoyed getting lost in the tools, lingering over washers and brackets, pieces he might add to a new work of “art”. He wasn’t much help around the garage.
But it was summer and he’d promised to keep Billy busy from ten until four o’clock during the week while their parents worked. Billy spent more time studying his surrounding than actually participating in them. “Did you find the torque wrench?”
Billy’s green-laced doc martins stayed planted next to Mustang, suspended two feet above him and he stuck his arm out, waiting for the wrench to fall into his hand. “Any time now.”
It landed in his hand. “Thank you.”
Then Billy walked away. A kid of few words, unless it was a subject he obsessed over, like Wars and Spirits, a video game, which he had to be peeled away or spend his life eating intravenously from his position at the console. He’d talk about Magic cards and things Mike didn’t really understand.
Mike was more than a decade older, a surprise baby, just when his parents thought their Golden Years were ahead.
He shook his head. At least Billy could bring him the tools he needed while he was under the car. 
Banging metal sounds as though hubcaps were falling all over the place rattled the garage.
He slid out from under the car. Wiped the grease off his hands onto the bandana, then made his way in the direction of the noise. “You OK, buddy?” he called to his little brother.
Several hubcaps circled the floor. Billy wasn’t there. Probably scared off thinking he was in trouble.
It wasn’t as if he got in terrible trouble, but Billy couldn’t take the tamest scolding and usually retreated when the hint of a confrontation arose. Mike knew how to tread lightly.
 “It’s all right, Billy, nothing’s broken! No harm no foul.” He laughed using the same expression his father would.
“Where are you?” Mike searched around. Not seeing his brother, he began picking up the hubcaps and stacking them against the wall, then checked his watch. “Looks like lunchtime!” That was sure to get Billy out of his hiding place.
“I’m ordering a pizza unless you want to go for a drive?”
No answer.  Mike checked the restroom. Billy wasn’t there. “Well, I’m starving,” Mike said and went to the phone against the wall and dialed the number for pizza delivery.
Billy ran passed.
“Hey, wait. You want pepperoni?” Mike called to him.
Billy stopped, turned to Mike and shook his head vehemently then continued on his way with a determined expression. Mike rolled his eyes; it was going to be a long day. 
--> Once Billy got spooked it could take hours for him to return to pre-spooked Billy. That Mike could handle. Scared Billy was unpredictable. “I’m ordering the usual, “ he said. “You’ll eat it eventually.”
Mike organized a few items in the office while waiting for the pizza delivery. Billy came into the room, his eyes skimming the items laid out on the desk. A collection of discarded items from the garage and junk from the dumpster.
“Whacha looking for?” Mike asked.
“Ah, not sure.” Billy opened the desk drawer. “Just need—here!” He pulled out a coil of copper wire.
Mike gave him the eye. He didn’t mind if his brother busied himself with another project. At least, maybe he’d get some work done with Billy entertained. 
The pizza had arrived, but Billy wouldn’t respond to his calls. If he wasn’t hungry, he would be, eventually. Mike finished his lunch, drank water from the cooler, and then got back to fixing the Mustang. 
Billy’s Doc Martins pass by, again and again, carrying rattling and clamoring things along with him, and now dragged a long metal pipe. What’s he up to? “Are you building a spaceship?” Mike laughed.
Billy returned for more items. Such determination would warrant a masterpiece. He had to be sure and let Billy know that. Any time he could boost his brother’s confidence he’d done his job. 
Mike finished correcting the alignment of the wheels and scooted out.
Cold pizza sat on the desk in the office. He shook his head and went through to the garage to find his brother. “Hey, Van Gogh, you aren’t even eating? Must be some work of art you’ve got out back.” Mike trudged to the exit door and opened it.
Materializing before his eyes, a disk of light lifted a few feet above the ground. With the sun’s reflection, it was hard to determine the outline. Below the spinning orb, a mound festooned with assorted metal links, wrenches, hammers, and bolts held together with twisted copper wires pointed into the shape of a pyramid.
The orb expanded and retracted. Mike turned to his brother, staring at the disk, eyes wide, trance-like, and the orb zipped away.
“What was that?”
“They came when I made it,” Billy said. “They said the pyramid’s a phone.
“A telephone?”
“Yeah, I communicate with their star beings somehow with the pyramid.”
“Really?”
Billy leaned closer and shouted up into the wires coiled into the shape of a cone, “My brother doesn’t believe me.”
The orb returned. Out of nowhere. And waited at the point of the pyramid.
More arrived. And more still. Until the clear sky became covered in white pulsating orbs.
 “Now what?” Mike asked. 
“I called that one here," Billy said. “They can’t all come unless we build more communication systems, the way they used to visit.”
Mike looked away from his brother and watched the disk fade in and out of visibility.

The End