Wednesday, July 27, 2016


A Potent Memory
by William Snyder
© 2015 William Snyder

East Valley High School - 1993
      A fifteen year-old mother stands with a group of students waiting for classes to begin. Her blonde hair is long and straight and it needs to be washed. She wears a tight white tank top and Levi's cut-offs. She is not wearing a bra and her little gut hangs out between the tank-top and shorts. The girl smokes and so do her friends. No one laughs or talks. They just smoke their cigarettes as if there is nothing else. There are cigarette butts everywhere. There must be a million cigarette butts spread across the massive high school campus that had once been an air force base. The child, perhaps a year old, sits alone in the dirt, wearing a dirty pink t-shirt and a diaper. Snot bubbles and runs from her pudgy little nose. No one notices as this discarded child of a discarded child as she pushes the dirt along with her bare toes and fidgets bleakly with a  yellow cigarette butt.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Click below to listen to "The South Bay Daily Breeze," from STORIES FROM THE SPIRIT GUIDE BAR, a unique collection of audio stories - production, music, and voices courtesy of Gary Gidak of Gidak Digital.
                                                THE SOUTH BAY DAILY BREEZE

* Illustration from "The South Bay Daily Breeze" by Lyle Tucker

Monday, July 18, 2016


The shop was empty. A somber, middle aged woman from somewhere on the other side of the world stood behind the counter to not greet me. 

"Hello," I said.

The woman said absolutely nothing. As a matter of fact, she pretty much gave me the stink eye. I could have walked out - but I was hungry. And the sandwiches were cheap.

I ordered a meatball sandwich on Italian herbs and cheese bread. 

She barely opened her mouth to ask, "Toasted?"

"Please," I responded, flashing my winningest smile.

Removing the sandwich from the oven, she complied with my request to add lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, banana peppers, jalapenos, Chipolte Southwest sauce and light Parmesan cheese.

"Meal deal?" she asked, looking at me as if I had a swastika carved into my forehead. 

"Just the sandwich."


I handed her four dollars and she dropped the change into my hand. 

Another customer appeared behind me. 

"Can I help you?" she said, looking right through me.

I didn't get a can I help you.

"Hold on a minute," I said.

The woman looked at me, stink eye on maximum.

"Who owns this place?" I demanded

"I do."

"And you don't see fit to say thank you after a customer frequents your place?"

Nothing but major league stink eye.

"I tell you what, I'm never coming back here."

She smiled and said,"Thank you." 

Thursday, July 14, 2016


"The Big V"
by William Snyder
© 2015 William Snyder

 Protocol required my wife and I to attend an educational appointment. Gail was babysitting four kids the day of the appointment, so we showed up to the doctor’s office with eight kids. The exam room was absolutely packed when the doctor walked in.
“Are these all yours?” he asked.
“Yes,” I lied as he pulled down his charts and handed us colorful pamphlets entitled “Are You Sure You’re Sure?”
Sophia started crying and one of the kids tipped over an aluminum trash can. Handing the pamphlet back to the doctor, I said, “Listen doc, I think we can save each other a little time here. Can't we just pretend you delivered your lecture? Don't you have something we can just sign?”
The doctor nervously handed me the clipboard and Gail and I eagerly signed on the dotted line. 
The day of the vasectomy was absolutely frightening. The appointment wasn’t until 1:30 in the afternoon so I headed in to my teaching job at Canyon State Academy for Boys that morning. But I wasn’t in any shape to do any teaching. All I could think about was the cutting that was in store. From time to time I doubled over in anticipatory pain. Of course I told the whole story to the boys and they kept asking questions like, “So you’re gonna let the doctor slice you – down there?” and “Will they use a razor blade or a pair or really sharp scissors?”
I walked into the doctor’s office with Gail and the epic collection of our own and other people’s children. The receptionist rolled her eyes. The kids were a little loud and a lot rambunctious. Barit, my three year-old, asked a woman with blue hair to read her a magazine. The old woman didn’t answer. 
“This is a doctor’s office,” the receptionist said bitterly.
She was wearing too much makeup.
“Yes, it is. That’s why I’m here – for a vasectomy.” 
“There really isn’t room for all of these children in the waiting room,” she sneered.
“Are you saying you’d like them to leave? Is that it? I could have my wife take them away. Maybe you could give me a ride home.” 
 If she appreciated my use of sarcasm, she did a marvelous job of hiding it. By this time, the Tylenol with Codeine I had popped in the car was kicking in. Things were becoming a little blurry. The next thing I knew I was laying on the cold sterile paper, undressed from the waist down. The nurse was a big hairy character with tattoos of skeletons and naked women on his forearms. He told me to relax, that this procedure would be nothing to worry about. Ha! The door swung open and the doctor abruptly entered the tiny examination room. The first thing I noticed was she was a woman – and she looked a little pissed off. She was tall, thin, and her face bore no traces of makeup. So there I was, naked from the waist down, laid out before the scary looking biker and an the angry looking woman doctor.  
“Hello, doc,” I said. 
“We’re going to start by giving you injections of local anesthesia on both sides of your scrotum.” 
She didn’t look me in the eye.
“With a needle?”
She didn’t answer. The biker was holding a monstrous aluminum needle that looked something like a  bicycle pump. 
“Oh my God!” I said. “That looks painful.”
“Well, it’s not,” she corrected, shaking her head with condescension.
Closing my eyes, I tried to concentrate on my breathing. A gloved hand took hold and lifted my testicles and then – ZING; there it was – searing white hot pain on the left side. The needle remained in my scrotum for a few seconds. There was nothing painless about this. It hurt – a lot. Then the needle came out and I breathed a sigh of relief. But the white hot pain returned – to my right side. The breathing business was out the window. Now I was grinding my teeth and groaning in pain. In retrospect, the pain was comparable to the local anesthetic delivered to the mouth before dental procedures. Surely, the location of the penetrations had an added psychological effect. When the needle was removed from the right side I collapsed to the loud crinkling paper and groaned. 
“It’ll be just a few minutes before the anesthetic takes full effect,” said Doctor Angry Pain Lady before hastily leaving the room. 
I opened my eyes and Biker Nurse’s hairy face came into focus. He wore a paper surgical cap and his beard was covered too. This man had the bushiest eyebrows I had ever seen.  Bristly eyebrow hairs jutted out two or three inches in every possible direction.
“Are you okay, man?” he asked.
“Anyone who says the big V doesn’t hurt is a stinkin' liar,”  I whispered.
“Whoever said a vasectomy don’t hurt?”
The door flew open and she was back. This woman couldn’t have been older than thirty.
“Okay, Henry,” she said to her biker nurse, “let’s get started.”
“But wait,” I was whispering. “It hasn’t been a few minutes yet. Shouldn’t we wait for the anesthesia to set in?” 
Each whispered word facilitated an agonizing tug on my throbbing testicles.
“And where did you get your medical degree, Mr. Snyder?” she snapped, the corners of her lips curling downward, unadulterated man-hating fire in her eyes.
Closing my eyes, I let my head fall back and hit the pillow. I felt her make the incision on the left testicle. Anesthetic, my left molar! This hurt. This was light-years beyond anything I'd ever felt in a dentist's chair. I went back to the yoga breathing. I could feel her yanking on my blood vessels or tendons, first in my scrotum, then in my gut and finally in my shoulder. Breathing hard, I panted rhythmically like a woman in labor. 
“Exactly what is that are you doing?” she demanded.
“I’m trying to do yoga breathing – to control the pain.” 
“That’s not yoga breathing. And you’re not in that much pain.” 
Opening my vocal chords wrenched my testicles, causing so much extra pain that I opted not to respond.
Then I felt the slice on the other side – followed by a sharp jerk on a vessel or tendon somewhere in the vicinity of my pelvis, causing my arm to fly up in the air. Glancing up I watched the doctor's lips curl up into a smile.  She was enjoying this.  I could only hope that my kids were out there absolutely trashing that waiting room. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Sunday, July 10, 2016


“Lee Harvey Oswald (1963)"
by William Snyder
© 2006 William Snyder

It was 1963 and I was in a Sears department store elevator with my grandmother. The doors slid silently open. An enormous black woman filled the doorway. Her face was soaked with tears. “They killed Kennedy!” I looked up to my grandmother and she was crying too. Scanning the towering occupants of the elevator, I could see that they were all weeping and things seemed out of control. Although I hadn’t the slightest understanding of what was happening, I was scared to death. 

My memory jump cuts to the dinner table at my grandparents’ home. We were having Jell-O. Tiny chunks of pears, peaches and bananas bounced around inside the cubes. My grandfather, who had been eating in silence, suddenly slams his great lumberman’s fist on the table, “Goddamit! I knew they’d never let a Catholic run this country!” My Jell-O reverberates wildly in the glass bowl. On the wall behind my grandfather hangs a picture of JFK and another of the blonde, blue-eyed surfer version of Jesus Christ.

My memory jump cuts again. Sitting with my my legs crossed, Indian style, on the giant oval rug in front of my grandparents’ black and white television set, I watch a scene that I have already carefully observed at least a dozen times. Lee Harvey Oswald’s hands are cuffed as he rounds the corner in the underground parking structure. Dwarfed by giant gray men in cowboy hats, he wears a five o’clock shadow and looks like one if the guys who works on cars behind my apartment building. I hate him because he is the man who killed the Catholic president. A man appears from nowhere, his broad back to the camera. I know that his name is Jack Ruby. He bum-rushes Oswald as the towering cowboy policemen stand by - useless. There is the muffled sound of gunshots. Oswald’s face looks almost funny. His eyes are shut and he looks as though he is trying very hard to whistle. This incredibly chaotic, enigmatic scene is cemented into the foundations of the husband, father, and teacher I have since become.

Saturday, July 9, 2016


Adventures with the Screaming Eagles
by William Snyder
© 2015 William Snyder

          The East Side Gym was a downright disgrace. Hundreds of students crowded into the building during school breaks, leaving cigarette butts, chewing tobacco, spilled soda, and soft candy squished and scattered across the badly warped wooden floor. There were dozens of holes in the roof. When it rained, and it rained a lot that year, more than twenty buckets had to be strategically placed from one end of the court to the other.
            I talked to the maintenance guy, a man who worked to avoid doing any work harder than anyone I’d ever known, about fixing the roof.
            “Can’t do it,” he told me.
            “Why’s that, Brian?”
            “It was built wrong.”
            “The gym was built wrong?”
            “And that’s why the roof leaks?”
            “That’s right, Bill.”
            “And you’re not going to fix any of the holes in the roof?”
            “Someone could get hurt.”
            “Want some advice, Bill?”
            “Why not, Brian?”
            “December, January, and February are excellent months to schedule away games,” he said, checking his watch.
            “January, February, and March? That’s the whole basketball season.”
            “Sure is, Bill.”

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Ruler

I need a ruler, Mr. Snyder.
You're looking' at him, kid.
Bill Snyder, ruler of the classroom. 
That's dumb.
You're dumb.
Real mature.
You're the one with cooties.

from Prescott Time Travel (working title)

The Regulator – Fargo, North Dakota – June 1, 1976
by William Snyder
© 2005 William Snyder

          A couple of dozen dilapidated old vehicles rested in the tall wet grass of The Regulator’s Auto Salvage and Junk Yard. A husky, baby faced kid struggled to lift the rusted hood of the old Dodge Dart. The engine looked pretty good. Sure, there was a little rust, but it was nothing serious. He unscrewed the carburetor. And it was squeaky clean, in mint condition.
            A hungry female mosquito landed stealthily on the boy’s thick white neck. She sunk her labrum into the soft pale skin and drank heartily. Feeling a stinging sensation, Anthony Frink brought the palm of his hand down against his neck,  obliterating the insect. Looking at the palm of his hand, he noticed there was a lot of blood, his own along with that of a half dozen less sensitive citizens of Fargo, North Dakota. He wiped his palm on the side of his Levis and sprinted for the office.
            The rickety screen door slammed shut and Timothy Oglethorpe, a giant of man in his early thirties, looked up from the sports section.
            “How much for this carburetor? 
            “Where’d you get it, Anthony?”
“From the old blue Dodge Dart, Oglethorpe.”
            “Ah, the '67. It’s a classic, you know. I’m afraid it’s gonna cost you, my boy.”
            “Really? How much?”
“How much you got?”
            Anthony dug into his pocket and pulled out a handful of change. Looking into his hand, he said, “A buck thirty-seven.”
            “What are the odds, kiddo? I’m running a sale on 1967, Dodge Dart carburetors.”
            “A buck thirty-seven,” the boy smiled.
            “That’s right, Antonio.” 
            “Is there anyone as tall as you in the NHL, Oglethorpe?”
            “I don’t think so. Why do you ask?”
            “I don’t know. You had a heck of a game last night, Oglethorpe. That check on that hotshot forward from Calgary was as good as I’ve ever seen. You looked like Tiger Williams for a second there.” 
            Oglethorpe smiled.
            “Tiger Williams?”
            “Heck yeah, Oglethorpe.”
            “Tiger Williams is a sissy. You’d better get out of here – before I raise the price on carburetors.”
            Anthony left the change on the counter.
            “Okay, thanks, OT,” he opened the squeaky screen, stopped and turned. “Why’d you stop teaching?”
            I’m just taking a break, Anthony.”
            “You were good, you know?”
            “Get the hell out of here, you rotten kid."