Journal Entry # 1: The Shame of Indifference

My grandfather died back in 2010. I remember feeling mixed emotions about it because I did not consider us close. In fact, most of the memories that I have about him are bad ones, which is odd, considering that he was a Presbyterian minister when he retired. Apparently, he was well-liked by some, but he never had cared for how we, his family, felt about him as far as I could tell.

I was stunned when we walked into the church for the service. It was quite large and mostly full of elderly folks that I did not know. Honestly, I remember it being somewhat empty, which was akin to how I felt about the whole ordeal. As the service went on, I just wanted to leave. Emotionally, I was doing fine until we walked out, and I noticed my oldest brother lightly sobbing just enough that I could hear. After that, I broke down. Nine years later, I sometimes wonder what made it so emotional for me, especially since I am sorry to admit that I felt little more than the obligatory love for the man. To get there, we must continue the day.

After leaving the church, we, of course, arrived at the cemetery. As we approached the gravesite, the horror had set in. There was nobody there. Things quickly unraveled as, if I remember it correctly, we had to go so far as to have my mom and aunt help us carry his casket to the grave. It was somewhat shocking that there was so little emotional investment in this man’s death that his two daughters-in-law had to help carry him for the final time. It was at this point that I thought again about why my brother’s tears set mine off.

Truthfully, I was annoyed by it when it happened because I did not want to cry for my grandfather. I came to the conclusion that his crying reminded me of a genuinely broken-hearted child. I told myself that he must have felt the same as I had. He wasn’t crying for himself, for our grandfather, or for the memories that we had made and shared. He was crying for the ones that we did not and would never have.

Eventually, another sad realization hit me. I barely knew the man. I remember my grandmother or father, perhaps both, asking me if there was anything of my grandfather’s that I would like to have. Since he was a minister, I wondered if there were any sermons or notes that he had written. I just wanted to know him better than I did. I’d be lying if I said that there was no shame on my part for feeling this way, but the truth isn’t something that you speak. Honestly, I hate the phrase people use these days that usually involves a gag-inducing movie scene or social media interaction in which one person encourages another to “speak their truth.” The truth isn’t yours, and it isn’t mine. It simply is.

As I’ve gotten older, I see glimpses of my grandfather in my actions. For example, I have his temper, which is not a good thing and can often be impatient, especially in public settings. I’ve always had some anxiety being in public and now wonder if he possibly had the same issue. I also very often feel misunderstood, which makes me wonder if he thought the same because I certainly never understood him. Besides, I have always been pretty good at putting on a polite show when I do go around town, as much as I dislike doing so. I’ll open doors for old ladies and sometimes guys if they are carrying something. There’s a fine line when it comes to one man holding the door for another. Like my grandfather, it seems that the four moods of happy, sad, tired, or angry dominate me even if I feel that they do not necessarily define me. I do love classical music and give him credit for that as well. I usually explain that I like classical music so much because you can’t hear another person’s voice during it typically.

The real reason for writing this post was actually an idea that I had shortly before or after my first son was born. I wanted to write a journal of sorts, the 100% all-beef version of the diary so that my sons can know just about anything about me that they would want and possibly some things that they will wish that they did not. Considering that my son will be ten years old this year, it was apparent that I had failed miserably with executing this plan. So, this seems to be the first official entry. I decided not to lock it with a tiny key and hide it under the mattress, but you’ll have to bring your own faux leather smell I’m afraid.



Why the World Actually is Flat

I’m sure that most people have heard that there are pockets of folks around who have rekindled the belief that the world is flat. Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn, and many more with the first-hand experience would wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. Physically speaking, the Earth is most definitely not flat. It is a fact. However, the world HAS become flat. Allow me to explain.

Regrettably, technology has very much begun to bite us in the arse. While it’s not the dystopian rule of artificial intelligence that went from cleaning the skid marks from our undies to eliminating all humans to protect us from ourselves, we are still suffering at the hands of technology nearly as much as we are benefiting. Don’t get me wrong; I love tech more possibly than the next person but the time that I went to work and left my phone at home still haunts me. It was not pretty and certainly made me feel silly.

The dominance of social media, fake news, alt-facts, and the idea that we can choose the facts that we want to believe and vice versa has created a bizarre ecosystem of doubt, mistrust, and knee-jerk reasoning. People think with their feelings. Somehow, there is a disturbing possibility that more Americans will believe in angels than a round Earth. If by angels you mean the big, funny dude that you went to school with then, yes, I believe in Angels.

Another fact is that you really cannot believe everything that you see or read on the internet. There is substantial misinformation whether it be a mistake, lie, or manipulation. For example, the news people are spreading about the Earth being flat is likely all of the above. Everyone knows that this is true, but it seems now it is being taken advantage of to the point that ANY information on the internet is treated as a la carte. In other words, it’s true if it fits into my view of the world and false if it does not.

Whenever I meet a new coworker, typically a kid in his twenties, I always tell them that if all else fails just play dumb if you screw up. Why? Because people so desperately want to believe that everyone else is stupid, incompetent, or incapable that they will jump at the chance to have that affirmation. What’s more is that people like to have an actual stupid person around to make them feel better about themselves. This is nothing new. It’s akin to the big group of girls with the one ugly friend that has a great personality. No offense, that’s just an example that people get. Don’t shoot the messenger.

We’ve lost hold of things that are real, tangible. Entertainment primarily exists in the ether of the internet, especially books and music. Even friends mostly live online and strain the definition of the word. What happens when the robots stop eliminating the stains from our nether garments and start eliminating us? I don’t know, we need the fancy robots first. The take away is that maybe we should embrace what is right in front of us. Stop telling me to shut up while you have a typed conversation with another person who isn’t in the room. Once again, History is laughing as we endeavor to prove its point yet again. We can always see past that which is in right front of our face and seem to do so simply because we have the luxury.

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

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I'm sure that most people have heard that there are pockets of folks around who have rekindled the belief that the world…

Posted by Adam L. Cobden on Monday, December 4, 2017

If at First You Don’t Succeed is a Friend Indeed

I’ve always gotten a kick out of it whenever people mess up a saying so, to that end, I decided to try out this series of shorter, possibly lazier, blog posts. Here we go.

If at first, you don’t succeed is a friend indeed. As I tried my hand at mashing common sayings together, this one came across as more succinct, in my opinion, than other attempts which means it required far less creativity to hash out, for better or worse.

As I try to make writing a more significant part of my life, I can certainly relate to the idea that one cannot just write one book or a few blog posts and expect any kind of instant gratification or the naive hope that minds will be blown. There is definitely something very personal about writing because it is the transference of one’s thoughts into a physical, permanent form. Afterwards, they can be readily picked apart, for one reason or another, or ignored entirely. Thoughts are one of the few things that we can all keep for ourselves in this ever-increasing age of knowing everyone’s business all of the time and five minutes after said business is concluded. With social media in mind, it might be that our thoughts are somehow simultaneously our most precious and frivolous commodities.

At the heart of this mash-up, to me, is the notion of just not giving up on yourself for any reason. Setbacks will happen, then they will pass, and more will come. The lessons learned the hard way tend to be the ones that stick with us and, hopefully, leave us wiser in the end. Embrace your failures. Look past the negative feelings that they conjure and slay them the next time around. None of us are perfect, but we often expect perfection when it was never there in the first place. Respect history and I don’t mean the one that we learn from books during school. Although, we might do well to remember that as well.

Perhaps a better way to say that is to respect your past. When I was in my twenties, I wish I knew half of the things that I know now. There is an excellent reason that we hear that said so often. It’s because it is right despite your station in life. Both a Supreme Court Justice and a crackhead will have in common this sentiment, though sometimes these two examples are the same person.

To wrap this up, I will echo once again that the search for perfection is buried in the corner of the cave wherein lives Sasquatch, which is in Canada somewhere. I’m convinced that Sasquatch is Canadian. I felt compelled to mention that. Let me get back on track here. And…done. Just because you fail many times, doesn’t mean that you are or must be a failure. The best warriors always had battle scars, and they almost always look really cool. Make no mistake, life is one big battle, and the war isn’t over until the final breath. In our own lives, we are supposed to be the hero, not the coward. In a foxhole, there is only fear and darkness, I’ve had my fair share of both. Whether or not that is what you want, is up to each one of us to decide.

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

I've always gotten a kick out of it whenever people mess up a saying so, to that end, I decided to try out this series…

Posted by Adam L. Cobden on Friday, October 13, 2017


Reiniger #1 – The Bus

I see my target even though I’m nearly sitting in the back of the bus. Luckily, the seats are more or less half full this time of day. Don’t get your hopes up, I’m not an optimist by nature, but I do appreciate it when serendipity decides to make an appearance. You see, I’m going to kill someone on this bus today. Not just today, but within the hour, perhaps sooner.

I’m not married, I used to be, so this isn’t about a love affair gone wrong or anything as dramatic as that, at least not for me. Also, nobody killed my wife, so this isn’t about revenge. The simple truth is, I kill people, and someone pays me. Hell, I’ve even taken contracts directly from my victims, more than a few times. Life insurance doesn’t pay out for suicides, you see.

People might expect to see a cue ball headed, dead-eyed drone wearing a two thousand dollar suit and a brightly colored tie when they think of a contract killer but that’s about as realistic as a house made out of cookies. Most folks want to believe that guys like me do not exist at all, except at the box office. If you put a tub of butter and salt and a half gallon of sticky, brown liquid in their hands, most plebs will swallow whatever myths you give them to swallow. At a time like this, it’s tempting to be clever and say something witty such as “They can’t see the forest for the trees,” perhaps, which is apropos when dealing with the public. Maybe that’s not being fair, but fair has no place in my world. There’s no goal line, out of bounds, timeouts, fouls, and there are damn sure not any free throws. In life, there is only success and failure, and the gods granted us the power to define them both for ourselves.

In preparation for this job, I’ve been riding this bus every day for the last week. After this next stop, the only passengers left will be the cute Hispanic lady with her two young kiddos. Typically, she’ll have a smile on her face and a sack full of groceries, the brown, paper kind rather than the plastic. She always speaks Spanish to the driver, even though he looks like the usual white guy, kudos to him for learning a second language. Of course, I’ll need to be careful since there are sometimes sporadic passengers that remain after she gets off. Each day, I  spend some time wondering what her name might be which is shockingly human of me. Don’t get excited. It’s merely a symptom of an inquisitive mind, one that has served me well in my efforts to date.

The time was drawing nigh. As the bus lumbered from stop to stop, the heads of the passengers in front of me appeared to bobble in unison as if the goodly, mechanical dinosaur held sway over the lot of them. The bus veered to the right as it prepared to make yet another stop. Almost all of the people stood up in anticipation. I paid close attention to the woman and her children, one of whom seemed to be doing a variation of the pee dance. Once the bus stopped with the typical squealing of the brakes, she joined the herd of others as they slowly filed through the doors. Soon, I noticed that I was going to be the last person on this bus, which did not bode well for my plans for my prey.

Many calculations ran through my head. I did not want to be the only person to exit the bus as my victim exited this realm, though I don’t forsee it as a major issue given my chosen method of execution. Also, this bus stop is about two miles from my planned exit, which would not be much of a problem either but I detest adlibbing unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Suddenly, my indecisiveness brought me to the point of irritation so much so that I stood up without a second thought and closed in on the back of the herd. The lovely lady with the children and sack of groceries stood ahead of me. One of the kids held her mother’s hand and stared directly at me. I smiled at her, genuinely, but she only stared at me, lacking any warmth or wonder in her eyes. In truth, I could describe my eyes just the same. It could be that I was reading too much into it, but that was the nature of the beast that I set out to slay each time I sign on the dotted line, so to speak.

We were just about to reach the front of the bus when my mysterious lady stopped to chat with the driver, nearly clockwork these two. I had a white bag from the pharmacy with a prescription for John Stone, my current identity. Luckily, John has diabetes and easy access to syringes. I reached into my pocket and grabbed a syringe, carefully slipping it behind my back. Suddenly, I fell forward as if I had tripped, making sure to knock the kid down as I did. Once I bumped into the driver, I injected him just behind the armpit.

“I’m so sorry! Are you okay? Is she all right?” I asked as I swiveled my focus from the concerned mother to the annoyed driver. Being a big city, thankfully, neither of them did more that gift me a foul glance while they both focused on the now crying toddler. I saw this as the perfect time to make my exit, perfect timing being just about my favorite thing in the whole world.

As I stepped off of the bus, I took note of the street signs and headed south. Even though I got off at an earlier stop, serendipity, along with my smartphone, informed me that I was actually closer to my final destination than I would’ve been had I followed the original plan. This contract was all but over.

After only minutes of walking and crossing a busy street or two, I had arrived. Now, you might be thinking that the bus driver fell dead instantly, something you might have seen while downing the aforementioned syrupy beverage in a dimly lit theater, but this is no movie, nor ill-conceived television plot hastily smashed between the commercials for hemorrhoid cream and a mid-life crisis mobile. The injection that I gave him was high end, and he’ll simply never wake up in the morning, stroke or heart attack being the cause. Even if I somehow draw the only genius level medical examiner in this state, they’ll never chase more than their tails in this case.

For some time, I had been standing in line amongst the forgotten of this city, addicts, and a few thrifty consumers brave enough to rub shoulders with these ruffians. A cheerful volunteer called for the next person in line, me, and I smiled as I stepped forward. I handed the needle to a nurse dressed in scrubs riddled with emojis. She secured my needle among many other anonymous contributions, and I even received a fresh one in exchange.

This might seem like the part of the story when I sent a one-word text message or made a five-second phone call spouting only a phrase meant to inform my temporary employer that the deed was indeed done but that’s not how this will go down. I’ll probably wait a few days before I make that call and then I’ll dump the phone in a recycle bin at the nearest big box electronics store. Then, I’ll buy some music, jazz most likely, and a package of candy while I wait in the checkout line. We all need something to do while we wait to check out, I call it living. If you’re unlucky, you just might meet a prick like me on your last day.

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

I’d appreciate a like and/or share on Facebook. I will provide a convenient link to this article’s Facebook post below. Thanks!

Like this post on my Facebook Page or Twitter and check back soon for Detective Darby #15. Check out my book, available now on Amazon.

“I’m not the person that you think I am, and I’m not the person that I thought I was. Let’s see who I will be today.”

–  Adam L. Cobden

To Err: Being Human Amidst a World of Intolerance

This sort of post isn’t typically my style, but I’ve been having this conversation with myself lately, which quickly became intriguing. With that in mind, I did some quick and dirty research on the topic of religion. Now, I don’t consider this a religious post, and if you read the entire article, I think that you will mostly agree with that statement. Hey, that’s the best I can do. After all, I’m not perfect and would not dare pretend otherwise.

So it seems that about 85% of the world are religious or believe in a higher power in one form or another, that’s 6 billion of the 7 billion or so people in the world. Of those, there are over 2.2 billion Christians, 1.8 billion Muslims, 1 billion Hindus, 500 million Buddhists, and another 500 million of what is known as folk religions which consist of people from Africa, China, America, and Australia. Sadly, there are less than 20 million Jews in the world. All of these figures are estimates and are likely inaccurate as soon as compiled. For this article, they’ll suffice since they need only portray the world’s religious affiliation as a sketch, which they do nicely.

Now that we’ve laid a foundation, we can come to the question that I asked myself which prompted me to write this post. If God is all-powerful and omniscient, meaning that God knows everything and can do anything, then why do humans seem to think that God is a moron? This question reminds me of a saying that I use that goes like this: “No matter how dumb a person is, they still think they are smarter than everyone else.”

To be clear, I don’t believe that people think that God is a moron. It was simply the question I asked myself that became the steam behind this train of thought. The next part might be where this whole idea can get tricky so I will do my best to lay it out in an understandable manner.

So it seems that about 85% of the world are religious or believe in a higher power in one form or another, that’s 6 billion of the 7 billion or so people in the world.

The majority of people that believe in a God are Christian, Muslim, or Hindu, a total of roughly 5 billion of the world’s population. I can leave the Buddhists out of this part because it is my understanding that they do not believe in a creator. Besides, I’m confident that they won’t mind. Getting back to the point, most religious people believe in a creator so they must believe that God also created the people of other faiths as well. For example, if you are a Christian, wouldn’t you think that God created the Muslims, Hindus, and Jews? Hold that thought.

The point that I am getting at is this: an all-powerful, omniscient entity knows what it is doing. People all over the world speak different languages, dance their dances, sing their songs, and make vastly different meals. Of course, that is merely the tip of the iceberg, but you can see where I am going with this. The world is full of people of varying cultures, and we are often more than happy to take the parts of other’s culture that we like and make it a part of our own. When that happens, it is quite beautiful and flattering; one would hope.

If God is all-powerful and omniscient, meaning that God knows everything and can do anything, then why do humans seem to think that God is a moron?

With so many cultures and languages in the world, it’s easy to understand that we may not often figure out why one group feels this way, another feels that way, and “we” believe the correct way, for instance. “We” being the holder of the point of view in any given situation. Even within Christianity, half of which are Catholic, people differ in the proper manner to practice the faith which is why Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, and Methodists exist. Is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think so, and I will even take it a step further, perhaps two.

A Christian, Muslim, and Hindu walk into a bar. Who precisely knows what to say to each of them to make them believe in something bigger than themselves? Survey says—an all-powerful, omniscient being. Some of us speak English, Russian, Chinese, or Spanish, and even with a translator, the meaning of words, phrases, and sayings are not always adequately conveyed. Hence the phrase “lost in translation.” A supreme entity can take one group of like minded people and reach them through Christianity, another group through Islam, another with Hinduism, and yet another through Buddhism, perhaps. Cultural and linguistic differences are powerful enough to cause confusion among people of differing societies. Not only that but once you factor in schools of thought and traditions, it gets increasingly difficult to communicate effectively especially on matters as dearly held as religion or spirituality.

When it comes to religion or spirituality, perhaps the only question that can be asked of anyone is: Are you happy? If a person is content with the route that they take to spirituality, then that should be enough for the rest of us. Obviously, there are extremes at play in regards to almost anything, religion and spirituality are no different. Are you saying that it’s okay to worship Satan as long as the worshipper is happy? That is an example of an extreme, in case that is somehow not obvious, and does not apply to most people. What I am saying is, it’s probably none of my business, and I am in no place to judge, though most of us do anyway.

If a person is content with the route that they take to spirituality, then that should be enough for the rest of us.

I’m not here to tell anyone what to do or when to do it, or how. If you do believe in a great big sky daddy in one form or another, maybe you should give this entity of extreme power the benefit of the doubt. Some folks love dogs, some cats, and some hate pets altogether. There are even some weirdos that like any and all pets. That could be an oversimplification, but, as a parent, even I know that I have to handle my kids’ moods by employing different methods. So, when approached by several groups of people that live in completely different places and in different ways, is it so far-fetched to believe that a being of such power would know that a different approach just might be the way to reach them? In conclusion, I’m just going to repeat that saying that has come to be a favorite of mine.

No matter how dumb a person is, they still think they are smarter than everyone else.

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

I’d appreciate a like and/or share on Facebook. I will provide a convenient link to this article’s Facebook post below. Thanks!

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

Like this post on my Facebook Page or Twitter and check back soon for Detective Darby #15. Check out my book, available now on Amazon.

“I’m not the person that you think I am, and I’m not the person that I thought I was. Let’s see who I will be today.”

–  Adam L. Cobden

Detective Darby #14 – The Awakening

Upon waking up, the first thing that I noticed was, once again, the blinding brightness of the light. I cannot seem to escape its assault on my senses, sight specifically. Secondly, the realization that I was on a couch hit me, but it was not the couch in my office. As a matter of fact, this place had all the tells of a woman’s touch. No offense to Linda, but it was on a whole new level and even smelled of candles, baked goods, and potpourri, I assume. My expertise lends itself more to liquids and wisecracks than decorating although I do often precede my name with the word detective for a reason. And I don’t mind reminding people of that fact, even myself.

I leaned up placing my elbows on my knees so that I could bury my head towards the floor. As I stared at the thoughtfully chosen rug, my thoughts dug their way into the cold, dusty earth, approximately six feet down. Despite the fact that someone, at least one person, cared enough to scrape me from the sidewalk outside of Cavanaugh’s should have been uplifting in some way. Unfortunately, that’s not at all how misery operates. Better that I’d have fallen through the concrete and reeked my last bit of havoc clawing helplessly towards an escape that was not to come. I fail to think of a more fitting end since that is precisely the manner in which I have lived life since I crossed the Atlantic.

There was a coffee table just in front of me and, before I knew it, someone slid a cup on the table right in front of me.

“Thanks,” I replied without looking. I grabbed the mug and held it close to my nose. The aroma of the beans reminded me of the relief that typically followed such a scent and seemed to have triggered an endogenous reaction. I can safely accuse myself of overthinking things, perhaps that’s why I’m a halfway decent detective, but, whatever the cause, the smell of that coffee cheered me up even if it is just enough for me to notice. That’s twice now that I’ve patted myself on the back for my sleuthing skills despite the fact that I had no idea whose couch in which I was cutting a groove. It’s funny how the mind functions, malfunctions in my case.

“You’re welcome,” replied a woman’s voice, which made the hairs on my arms seem as if they were intent on running away. As my heart began thumping, I wondered for a second how I haven’t died from a heart attack, considering my addiction and the war especially. “It’s two sugars, just as you like it,” she added.

I knew that voice quite well. I’d like to think that it sounds exactly as I remembered it from my dreams, night or day, and as I had imagined it many times. It was Alice Grace. Now seems like an excellent opportunity to skip mentioning how good of a detective that I am.

“I think he likes it better with a bit more Irish in his cup,” Stan sarcastically announced. I’m not surprised that Sarge is here, he’s her uncle after all. There was undoubtedly a lecture to follow, but I can’t say that I appreciated being embarrassed on so many levels so early in the day if at all. If only I possessed a skill set germane to avoiding surprises.

“I don’t think that’s helping,” Alice remarked, kindness lining her words. Maybe I just hear what I want to when it comes to her. Truthfully, as cruel as it might sound, her voice was the last one that I wanted to hear today.

“Do you suppose he’s helping himself?” Stan asked, raising his voice. “He’s certainly helping himself to a bar stool,” he wittily added. As I finally lifted my head, I was greeted by the angry face of Sarge, complete with hands on his hips.

“I don’t know, but yelling at him isn’t helping. When you told me that you saw him the other day, wasn’t it you that mentioned how long it had been?” Alice asked, laying down the law. No pun intended. The anger drained from Stan’s face, and shame began to fill that void. I appreciated her defending me, but this isn’t something that I wanted to see. My problems being laid at the feet of another, one that I cared for no less. “Didn’t you tell me that he still uses your old office? I can’t imagine it’s all that hard to find,” she continued, multiplying the shame further. When I saw Stan begin to put his head down, I felt that I was sharing his humiliation at this point, rightly so. I had seen and heard quite enough.

“Hold on,” I announced as I began to stand. An intense pressure rushed to my head as I rose to my feet, and I can only imagine the funny face that I made in an attempt to fight it off. It certainly undermined the credibility of what I was about to say, not that my credibility accounts for much these days. “Listen, guys, I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say,” I said, not the eloquence that I was hoping for. I saw a flash of anger return to Sarge’s face, and he pointed towards me as he opened his mouth to speak. However, he stopped at the last second and said nothing.

“What happened to your partner?” Stan calmly asked. At this point, he seemed content to jump on Alice’s bandwagon by finding some more excuses on my behalf. I am indeed coming up on rock bottom.

“Well, he left about the time things got heavy. I spotted the girl, but I lost her,” I explained if only a little.

“That’s unfortunate. What now?” Stan asked. Before I could even begin to think of an answer, Alice slammed her mug on the coffee table. The spoon clattered against the cup as the act got our attention, undoubtedly its intention.

“Are you really going to talk shop—now?” Alice angrily asked. She had a point. Any question as to whether the elephant in the room had been addressed was just answered.

“She’s right, you know,” Stan agreed as he walked towards me. “There’s a man that I want you to see. Remember?”

“Now?” I asked, my disdain evident.

“We had a deal,” Stan sternly replied.

“This deal is getting worse all the time,” I muttered aloud. Based on their expressions, I don’t think that Stan and Alice cared for that comment, yet another example of my exceptional skills. “Okay, what did you have in mind?” I asked, conceding the standoff.

They both seemed happy to hear my surrender. However, with me, it was unlikely to be unconditional. Stan finally sat down to relax, and I noticed Alice slowly moving towards me. She seemed as unsure how close that she would get to me as I was. Honestly, my stomach immediately knotted up as I approached petrification. Once she got within a step of arm’s reach, I circled away around the coffee table and sat down in a chair in the corner.

After all this time building up to this moment, I was infinitely confused about my feelings having finally seen and spoke to her. It was not at all how I had imagined. Alice did not collapse tearfully into my arms, slap me in the face, or give me the cold shoulder. Instead, she was willing to help me and lived alone. It doesn’t take a great detective, luckily, to see that Alice Grace might still have a place in her life for a bum of a man such as me.

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

I’d appreciate a like and/or share on Facebook. I will provide a convenient link to this article’s Facebook post below. Thanks!

Like this post on my Facebook Page or Twitter and check back soon for Detective Darby #15. Check out my book, available now on Amazon.

“I’m not the person that you think I am, and I’m not the person that I thought I was. Let’s see who I will be today.”

–  Adam L. Cobden

Detective Darby #13 – The Quench

As the bartender humored me with a refill yet again, I took a moment to ponder that first drink of the morning that started me down this road. To clarify, it is not a path to redemption or anything as uplifting as that but a fork in the road and very much a beaten path when it comes to personal experience. I’ll tell you one thing; the bartender is playing perfectly to my paranoia with his silent treatment. I swear that he hasn’t said a word to me, but it is entirely possible that I have simply been too far gone to notice.

By this time, the bar had been something of a whirlwind. Patrons had come and gone appearing, disappearing, and sometimes reappearing in and out of a hazy hurricane of which I had become the eye. At times, it was quite crowded but, as far as I was concerned, there was only me and the glass sitting on the bar in front of me.

I stared reverently at the bronze tint of the liquor as if it were primed to reveal lost secrets from a time forgotten. Perhaps the shadows covering the dark corner in the room were harboring them, and one need only shed some light on them. But how? To that end, I hoisted the glass once again to my lips and let its majestic contents slither down my throat. I’m not going to lie; it felt fantastic, almost euphoric. After the usual gulp, however, I immediately felt the crushing shame of the act.

The burning wetness slowly crept into my eyes and sinuses. The warmth of the emotion was cruelly cold and the more that I thought about it, the more I perpetuated it. Suddenly, the sight of the glass in my hand was something of a shock, and it jolted me as if it were hot enough to melt. When I set it down, I looked up and caught the reflection of the mirror behind the bar. It reflected back to me an image that was all black and white save the golden color of my drink and the natural color of my eyes. The rest of the scene was like an abstract watercolor painted in an infinite variation of gray shades. It wasn’t as clear as real life, but real life was rarely clear and often without beauty.

The bartender was right on time. As he began to pour, I clutched the bottle, stopping him. He did not say a word and showed no emotion one way or another. We both held onto the bottle, and neither one of us attempted to claim it away from the other. I hesitated to meet my eyes with his, but something convinced me that it needed to happen. I slowly lifted my head to look into his eyes and quickly discovered that his eyes were nothing more than a black void. After mere seconds, he turned loose of the bottle and quietly walked away, the sound of his footsteps disturbingly absent.

I pulled the bottle close to my body, embracing it. It might have been my imagination, but every patron in the bar appeared to have stopped and stared at me. With an audience, I began to pour until the glass overflowed. The voice in my head told me to stop, but I continued to pour until the bottle was empty. A large puddle formed around the glass and quickly spread to the left and right. The act seemed to satisfy the onlookers because none of them appeared to notice the mess that I had made. That or none cared.

I stumbled out of my barstool and to my feet, reached into my pocket, and half-heartedly counted out a few dollars for the barman. After carelessly tossing them on the bar, I realized that they landed in the puddle that I left behind. I didn’t care but had enough presence of mind to know that I probably should have. For a moment,  I watched as the bills soaked up the liquor and began to sink into its depths which were physically shallow but psychologically immeasurable. For some reason, the sight of the alcohol soaked money sickened me with an unjustifiable disgust.

In my haste, I turned towards the door and promptly bumped into a patron. Before I could make an apology, the man turned to dust and scattered to the floor. I raised my hands to eye level in disbelief as the remaining patrons all began to stare at me just as before. One notable exception was the bartender who was preoccupied wiping down the spillage from atop the bar. He paid no attention to me or the pile of ashes at my feet.

By now, I am more than a little spooked and increased the speed of my exit. Upon doing so, I bumped into another patron and two others that seemed to be blocking my path, and all three collapsed to the floor just as the first one had. The rest of the patrons continued to watch me, but none said a word or tried to stop me.

At last, I came to the large, heavy door and leaned face first into it with moderate force. My heart pounded with such a fury that some of the beats blended.

“Why didn’t you stop me?” I beseeched the door. Suddenly, I fell helplessly forward blinded by the purest light and felt the thud of hitting the ground. The force was unmistakable, but the pain must have been absorbed by the impurity of my blood. Then, I felt myself being carried away not unlike the previous time that ended with me in the trunk of a taxi. While my cup runneth over with poison, the people near me crumble to ashes and fate carries me blindly away to uncertainty.

Copyright © 2017 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

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“I’m not the person that you think I am, and I’m not the person that I thought I was. Let’s see who I will be today.”

–  Adam L. Cobden

Detective Darby #12 – The Thirst

I suppose you could say that I woke up caught in the crossfire of depression and an intense thirst for all things fermented. Truthfully, I did not sleep at all. The gears in my head clanged and ticked with a mechanical precision somehow achieved despite the chaos. While we’re on the subject of truth, I never even made it home after my showdown at Lucky’s. That seems like such a stupid name considering how things have unfolded for me in my experiences there. The best scenario for my trip to Lucky’s, hypothetically speaking, would be to end up blind drunk and let circumstance decide whether I sober up in an alley, bathroom floor, or on the couch of my office. If I’m actually sticking to the theme of truth, there was nothing hypothetical about that scenario, it is only a matter of time.

The dawn was creeping up over the horizon and finally splashed upon my face. I squinted and grimaced at its unwelcome welcome. Speaking of welcomes, a man was walking towards me. “Good morning,” I said as we met, but I did not hear him answer. Perhaps he nodded or mouthed the words, but I could not see his face for the blinding of the sun.

Disgust quickly overtook me as I assumed that the man just ignored me. I was quick to judge him and at the same time, I wondered why I cared at all. I don’t even like people unless they stood beside me and pointed a rifle in the same direction as I did. They’re the faceless drones that I call Dick and Jane Public, the sun might as well blot out the lot of them. They’re never more than someone that stole a cab, inhabited the last barstool, or lied about something that could help me on a case unless it involved a lost cat. Many people are more interested in helping animals than people. The only problem with that, not the only, but the biggest problem with that is that Dick and Jane Public always seem to forget that people are animals too, often the most cunning and ferocious.

Of course, there was a flaw in my thinking. What if the guy was an average Joe? These guys are the construction workers, plumbers, bus drivers, and factory workers. They are the same guys that I served with in the war. Even if they didn’t serve, average Joes are my people. Suddenly, my smugness transformed into shame, and I wondered if all people dwell on something as ordinary as that. It’s enough to drive a man to drink as if I needed an excuse.

When I finally let go of the likely imagined injustice, I noticed that I was across the street from a bar. It is one of those quaint establishments with a sign that just says Irish Pub. For those who know, we usually refer to the bar as the name of the owner or sometimes the bartender. In this case, the place is called Cavanaugh’s. If I ever get lost in the city, I can always reason out where I am when I spot a bar. I’m not sure if that is clever or pathetic, but for now, my journey had come to an end.

I crossed the street in a stupor and received the blare of a horn and unintelligible scolding for my efforts. As I put a foot on the curb, I could hear a car engine angrily revving past, the sound and the rush of air that it created seemed to be begging my pardon. I stopped in front of the door to Cavanaugh’s for a moment. I remember the door vividly because it was so much wider than the typical door. Placing my hand on it was almost a religious experience. Upon pulling it open, my muscles seemed to remember the weight of it because it was significant not only physically but the heft of the door was somehow supernatural or tuned into a plane of knowledge and existence that none of us could dare to comprehend. Perhaps it also knew what was about to happen inside. Maybe my struggle had long been etched into the metaphysical edge of the door as if a notch carved into the wood with splinters of space and time falling away and forgotten, never to exist again.

My shoes and the wooden floor made music as if a chime to inform others of my arrival, or warn them. The interior of Cavanaugh’s could likely pass for an antique shop, even the smell carried wisdom. The wood of the stools, tables, chairs and the bar itself appeared to be an extension of the fabled door and beckoned gravity with greater effect than did ordinary wood, or so it seems. I sauntered towards the bar and pulled a barstool away, unsurprisingly so I could sit. It was as sturdy as it looked and made no creaks and did not even shift in the slightest when I sat down. Oddly, it was as if I slid right into the whole setting as if a cog fitting perfectly in its place. In truth, it felt infinitely more right than it did wrong even though the wrong, in my case, was infinitely more potent.

The bartender ascended from a hatch in the floor behind the bar and carried a box full of unknown spirits, assuming there were still any foreign to my palate. As he put down the box, the bottles clinked out a melody so beautiful that it inexplicably justified my presence. He placed a glass in front of me and raised a bottle up to show me while he raised his brow as if asking for the approval to pour. Neither of us broke the silence, so I merely nodded in keeping with the dynamic that we had instantly carved out. The cork rubbed squeakily against the glass until a very satisfying pop resounded as the cork freed itself. When he began to pour, the liquid flowed mystically into the glass and kept secret whether it came to wash away or usher in the sorrow. In my experience, it is all too often both as if a tide ebbing just long enough to allow the faintest blossom of hope before crashing back and claiming it despite having no capacity for emotion. I wonder if I can drink the entire depths of that ocean one glass at a time and finally find that blossom and see that it has grown strong roots. Unfortunately, the dilemma lies in whether the roots are that of hope or corrupted by the waters of my affliction. It is all too often both.

Copyright © 2016 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

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“I’m not the person that you think I am, and I’m not the person that I thought I was. Let’s see who I will be today.”

–  Adam L. Cobden

Detective Darby #11 -The Warning

As I laid helplessly on the floor, my mind was beseeching me to move, but my body refused to do as instructed. All I could do was wince as the second goon walked menacingly towards me, dragging the legs of that barstool across the floor. The stool fiercely screeched as if mired in agony, and its only respite was to unleash all that it had built up at the end of its journey. Unfortunately, the stool’s destination was a crown that I highly coveted.

Suddenly, the man stopped, and “Ebby” Eddy came into view, smug as ever.

“That won’t be necessary,” Eddy said as he waved off the stool wielding jackal that was intent on bashing me in the head.

Though skeptical at first, I soon slid through the peanut shells and pulled myself up from the floor. It was far from my finest moment, but also far from my most shameful. My mind was fuzzy but tuned in enough to want to get up on my own, especially since I had an audience. The problem is, my body simply did not have enough steam to make a go of it. Ironically, I used a bar stool to aid me in this endeavor. As I wobbled to my feet, I was forced to listen to the jackasses cackle at the spectacle of my weariness. My instant rage gave me enough spark to return the favor to nearest jackass, by punching him in the face. Unfortunately, the combination of his size and my reduced effort was not enough to take him off his feet. Eddy quickly got between me and the stool jockey, who had it cocked and ready and seemed more upset by my vengeance than the brutish recipient. I suppose he accepted that he had it coming. That, if not the man, I can respect.

“Let’s all just take a minute and calm down,” Eddy suggested.

The brute leaned casually against the bar and claimed a mug. Blood crept freely from his nose and eventually mixed in with his beer as he slowly drank it in its entirety. Upon bearing witness to his vampiric moment, I began to wonder with whom I had been trifling.

“I’m all right,” I stated as I raised my hands in the air as if under arrest, perhaps my way of flying a white flag. The situation evolved well beyond awkward as the four of us seemed to be staring at each other waiting for someone to move things forward. “What is going on here, by the way?” I asked, bewildered.

“You’re wandering through hostile territory, prick,” replied Eddy. There he is. I was beginning to wonder why he cared enough to prevent my demise or at least significant maiming. Strangely, it was comforting to hear that he did not care after all. I’m not sure how much more surprises that I can handle.

“Here we are again. Now, you’re a guard dog. Like a good boy, you’re here to run me off,” I said smugly. I’m sure the guy knew that he wasn’t going to get a medal for doing his job. Especially when that job is low-level grunt work that flies in the face of the fact that he is a cop, technically.

Eddy refused to fall into my trap. “I would love to exchange insults all day, but I was sent to do a job. Once that’s done so am I,” he replied, professionally. It was good to see that he was capable of it sometimes, even though he failed miserably back in that interrogation room, where it counts.

“I also would find it comfortable to match wits for the better part of the afternoon, assuming I could find a suitable opponent,” Conan said, chiming in. I nearly forgot that he was here. In his defense, the way that this all went down was very much outside of Conan’s wheelhouse.

“What job is that?” I asked, attempting to get this train back on the tracks.

Eddy thought it prudent to get uncomfortably close to me. Like so many other times and other people, I could only wonder what he was thinking and why he even bothered. “Stop looking for the woman. You’re already too close,” he warned.

I typically laugh at Eddy when he tries to be intimidating. This time, however, there was a depth to his gaze that seemed to stretch inexplicably inside revealing a vast, desolate space as if the entire expanse of a lifeless tundra acted as a buffer to the rage that undoubtedly boiled behind his beady eyes.

“Why are you doing this, Eddy?” I asked, frustrated. I’d never admit it, but he succeeded in his efforts to intimidate me. Even the big galoot standing next to him seemed a meek contrast. Eddy’s vibe was one of loathing, desperation, and unwillingness. Thank goodness for long sleeves, because, frankly, the guy gave me goosebumps.

“Just heed my words,” he replied and began to turn to walk away.

Unsatisfied, I grabbed his arm and felt a collective jolt between the three of us. Hostility surrounded us as if a hot, misty fog. I raised my hands as though one of them had pointed a gun at me. Truthfully, it felt just as threatening.

“Really, why do you care?” I asked, again pushing for some semblance of closure.

Eddy looked at me yet again. His scowl was there but seemed softer somehow. “I don’t care. Call it my penance for an act lacking forgiveness. I deal with it, and I suggest you do the same,” he somberly replied.

My shoes scratched and scraped against the sidewalk as Eddy’s pals impolitely escorted me outside. It was a moment lined in silver with small victories. First, I managed to slide and skate on the concrete, keeping my balance, while avoiding another fall. Second, I managed not to get punched in the face again, albeit temporarily. With that in mind, along with Conan’s ridiculous theory, I decided not to hail a taxi.

Instead, I began a lonesome walk in the general direction of my building. The fact that I had just left a bar without taking a drink made me proud but only until I played back the events in my mind. If someone had always assaulted me each time that I walked into a bar, I might have, sadly, lived a fuller life because of or in spite of it. I’m sure there’s a punchline in there somewhere, but I was far too preoccupied with licking my wounds, my tail firmly tucked between my legs.

Copyright © 2016 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

Like this post on my Facebook Page or Twitter and check back soon for Detective Darby #12. Check out my book, available now on Amazon.

“I’m not the person that you think I am, and I’m not the person that I thought I was. Let’s see who I will be today.”

–  Adam L. Cobden

Confabulation of Quotes – “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

“The pen is mightier than the sword”- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1839

This quote is so familiar these days and has been almost instantly since the 1840’s, that even that pretentious friend at your dinner party won’t dare try to throw it in your face. You know, the one that nobody can figure out who invited.

You can search the internet and have your pick of articles that theorize the origin of the sentiment. It’s widely agreed that it was not an original idea belonging to Edward Bulwer-Lytton, but, apparently, he indeed executed it better than anyone else. I’m not here to regurgitate that.

What does it mean? Again, you could make quick work of this question with a simple Google search. What you might find is someone that wrote an article filled with information from internet searches of their own. Undoubtedly, it would be full of instances of who said something similar before, what it means, and why it is or is not different or the same. To be honest, I know the saying, all adults do, but I had no clue who Edward Bulwer-Lytton was before my search, and, unlike some folk, I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

The appeal to this particular quote is rather uncomplicated. First, it’s short and to the point, which allows it some mysterious bonus points that I just made up. Second, the quote expresses so much with the use of so few words. Imagine the bonus points now. Finally, it’s easy to remember, perhaps the best part. I just quit keeping score.

I think it speaks directly to our desire to cheer for the underdog. The pen is clearly David while the sword must be Goliath. However, the conundrum has to be that after history has taught generations these same lessons, at what point does David become the sword. Oddly, as I write that, the words somehow do not make much sense, but I completely understand the meaning of them. Perhaps that is the point.

The Crusades are an excellent example, in my opinion. Now, I’m hardly an expert on the matter, and I always give the lessons to be learned from history much more weight than the facts, which are debated infinitely in some cases. In this case, the pen, written word or at least the interpretation of it, were widely used, on all sides, to convince people to fight for holy land. The actual reasons behind that are not a matter for debate as far as this post is concerned. I’m merely going to bend this example to my will to further my point. What did you expect?

The pen creates the word that inspires thousands, millions maybe, to take up their sword in defense of one cause or another. Strangely, the attackers and defenders were always fighting to “defend” something. So, it’s defenders versus defenders now. In other words, I’m right, my mind won’t change, and you think you’re right, you won’t change either. See what I did there? The only option is a battle to the death, Kirk vs. Spock style I hope. At this point, you should be shouting “Aaron Burr” with a mouthful of peanut butter.

There are other mighty pens; the Fisher Space Pen comes to mind. People widely believed, even I thought it at one point, that NASA spent millions developing a pen that could write in outer space while the Russians were happy to use pencils. It’s untrue. Long story short, NASA did not spend any taxpayer money to develop it, and the space pen saved them money in the end. Even the Russians used it. If you think it’s still dumb, realize that when an astronaut sharpens a pencil, the shavings can wreak havoc in zero gravity, letting slip the dogs of war. Okay, maybe that last part was too dramatic, on purpose.

In my mind, a pen is the father of the pencil, but, in essence, they are the same thing. On the one hand, we have a pencil who’s shavings could cause a space shuttle to explode. That’s rather mighty. On the contrary, we have a pen that can write in space, already potent, and cost the equivalent of seven or eight million dollars, in 2016 dollars, to develop. That will buy a lot of assault rifles, so I think it’s fair to say that pen is also plenty mighty.

The pen, as in penitentiary, is also incredibly mighty. If you factor in mandatory minimums, I think it’s an easy decision to make. In fact, the good ole USA has about five percent of the world’s population and twenty-five percent of the world’s prisoners. I’m not shedding new light on this by any means. Sadly, this fact is as well known as the quote that we are talking about here, maybe more so. I don’t think we should ruin the lives of young people for making one mistake just because that error involved drugs. There are even people in jail only because they cannot afford bail and ultimately plead guilty to crimes that they often have not committed. These issues deserve more time than I can give in a paragraph, so let’s move on. Suffice to say; this is yet another mighty pen, justice need not apply.

In summary, the pen is mightier than the sword. In many situations, the pen is the sword. Perhaps the quote should be, “The pen is a tiny sword,” or “The pen is the mightiest sword.” Whatever the case may be, it all comes down to an individual’s point of view, like so many things in life. Okay, I concede that the penitentiary was a bit of a stretch. Was it, though? It strikes at the heart of the meaning of the quote; an idea put into practice is far stronger than the tool of a trade. Even when that trade is a warrior, and that tool is an instrument of death.

Copyright © 2016 by Adam L. Cobden. All Rights Reserved.

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