They Shoot Ramones, Don’t They?

I walked out of the gas station with my diet dr. pepper. A tall, floppy haired young man, no older than 20, walked in the door I exited. His scraggly appearance was hi-lighted by a black leather jacket and a crisp, black t-shirt that looked like this:

I smiled, then smirked, and spoke to him.

“The Ramones are great. They’re one of my favorite bands.”

I was proud of the kid’s response. Full of anti-social attitude and get away from me creepy older dude snarl, he mumbled incoherently and passed me into the store. The Ramones would be proud of him.

Ramones t-shirts are sold at Target. You can’t open a music book or website and not see The Ramones epic 1976 debut ranked in the top ten of something. That wasn’t the case 35 years ago. When the The Ramones released their record, most people ignored it and them. The only major critic that paid attention was the legendary Lester Bangs. He loved them. People ignored Lester, as well.

Time has been kind to the memory of the four losers from Forest Hills, Queens, New York. I always harken to this example when people talk about criticism.

I’m “this close” to finishing a book. I’m also self publishing some short stories by the end of December. I’m terrifed at the reaction.

Two years ago, when my wife shook her head at my scribbling in notebooks and suggested I resurrect my blogging career, I paced my entire house dozens of times wondering if anyone would care. I’d been divorced. I’d been through therapy. I now live with four strong willed, determined women who know how to push my buttons and get their way. I could handle comments from “strangers” on the internet. Right?

Over the past 11 months, I’ve written every day. Most of what I’ve penciled hasn’t made it to My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. Crazy Robot Stories passed 57 thousand words for Nanowrimo, thus certified or “won”. I’ve got about 67 thousand words en total. Ironing out the ending should make it novel-sized and editor ready. Helene Troy, my wife approved girlfriend, has about 22 thousand words written, with about 15 of it shown. Millicent, the serial poisoner, is a solid 4 thousand word short story sitting with my editor/writer friend Grace aka @octoberesque . Italian Radio’s 4 thousand words are with Writer’s Digest waiting for a thousand buck cash prize and the adoration of tens. Among those works, I’ve received over 600 comments. Some have been beautiful. Others have been harsh. It’s the rough ones I’ve learned the most. They’ve made me a better writer.

I know I brag about being part robot. I don’t believe if I wasn’t wired this way, I could handle the reviews. Waking up wrong, every day, with these women I live with, gives you rhinoceros skin.

Joey Ramone, The Ramones lead singer and song writer, died 10 and a half years ago, from cancer. Before he died, he gave an interview to Maria Bartriromo of CNBC financial news fame. She asked him if he regretted toiling in obscurity for the first part of his career. He responded profoundly.

“You know, I always wanted to be liked. Now, I just want to be appreciated. I enjoyed my life when I had nothing… and kinda like the idea of just being happy with me. “

I hope, if this writing I’m doing, sees any light of day, I can be as thoughtful as the late great Joey Ramone.

As my comment box asks, Whatdya got?

Today’s song is the first thing anyone ever heard from The Ramones. If you don’t like this, then you’re the problem. Here’s one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard, Blitzkrieg Bop….


After a two month absence, the story returns. Last time on Crazy Robot Stories:

“He”ll come for us. “

When Lucas Bonner spoke, he was colder than the November North Dakota wind.

“Caleb, Breann, Bruce, and I; Connor Bulas owns us. Bruce wants to go home. I told his family I would deliver him, dead or alive. So, we need to drive now.”

I looked at Breann and Gavin, who had been outside surveying the compound for over two hours. Gavin pointed at a large silo in the middle of the land, about 300 yards away.

“There’s security everywhere but that silo. It’s a drive thru type. If we can make it there, close the doors, we can buy a few minutes head start to the highway.”

Breann grabbed my hand. Her small fingers were like icicles. She leaned into my left ear. Her soft, white skin made me jumo because of it’s startling coldness.

“I think we should split up. Put you and I with Gavin and stick Lucas and Bruce with Ava. Gavin all business and Ava might rethink making you her robot lover for life after spending time with those two freaks.”

Ava stared at Breann’s lips as she whispered to me. Gavin put everyone’s belongings into the back of his gray Ford Expedition. Ava stepped toward me and motioned me to join her inside the SUV. She acted like Ava always did and took over the moment.

“We have no time to talk. Everyone get in Gavin’s car and let’s get to that grainhouse silo. Once we get there and get those doors closed we’ll rethink the plan.”

Breann and Ava glared at each other. I was getting sick of their rivalry. Gavin and Lucas were making the most sense. I climbed into the front with Gavin. The other four piled, uncomfortably, in the back seat. As Gavin started the car, several men armed with stun guns and radio head seats ran from the building. Gavin pushed the gas pedal down Ava leaned into the front seat.

“Caleb, Gavin and I have a contact in Minot. They won’t send for us. We have to go to them. If we can make it to the Air Force base by dark, we can get all four of you medical attention. That will gain  get leverage on Doctors Anson Cluber and Connor Bulas.” 

She rubbed her long, slender fingers against my face, feeling for fever and affection. I pulled away. Ava shook her head and rolled her eyes.  
A siren went off above the auditorium we were in previously. Several men armed with stun guns and radio head seats ran from the building. Gavin jumped in the driver’s seat. Ava went to the passenger side. Lucas and Bruce stoically sat next to each other on the left side of the back seat.  Suddenly a shot went off around the car. Ava screamed. Gavin drove erratically and yelled.
“Holy shit, they shot at us.”
I didn;t see guns and as I put the window down, I heard the flat tires on the rear of the car. We had hit rumble strips or something and blown two of the four.
“Keep driving Gavin! You have enough tread to make the silo.”
I didn’t really know that but two black SUVs were now driving toward us. Lucas and Bruce were silent. Breann looked scared but smiled. As we made the door of the silo, I turned around and pointed at Lucas and Bruce.
“There’s four of us, not two!Help Breann and I get through this! We’ll take care of the Lena and Clare, but for Chrissakes, you’re still part human! You can care for more than each other!”
Lucas didn’t respond right away. Breann looked at me and mouthed “I love you.” I smiled and repeated it to her. Ava grit her teeth and looked away.
Gavin screeched the tires on the car and slid within feet of the grain elevator. Bruce opened the right rear door. H he and Lucas got out. Lucas methodically walked over to an electrical panel. He punched the metal casing and ripped the door away as if it were tinfoil. Lucas touched a red button and pulled a yellow wire. A sliding door moved from right to left and shut with crushing force. The security guard vehicles stopped. I fell from the car as my foot became caught in the door. Pellets that felt as hard as bullets indented my skin and I cried out on pain. Bruce helped me up.
“Are you hurt?”
I didn’t answer because of the pain and the shock of hearing Bruce deep, monotone voice. Breann stood next to me and spoke to Lucas.
“What are these? They’re like hard seeds?”
Lucas pulled the back of the car up with his left hand. He motioned for Bruce to do the same on the other side of the car. Lucas stared at me.
“Can you change one of the damaged tires, Caleb? We should be able to travel a few miles that way.”
I jumped underneath the back of the car. Breann helped me retrieve the jack and the spare tire. Ava emerged and looked at Lucas accusingly.
“You know what those seeds are don’t you, Lucas Bonner? It’s what makes the fusion cells inside the hearts, right?”
Lucas motioned everyone but Breann and I into the elevator, and they rose a floor. After a few minutes, different seeds, some energized and warm, dropped on the ground near Breann’s feet and my head. Then Ava shouted.
“Oh my God!
Ava and Gavin ran to the edge of the railing.
“No wonder the doctors were so mysterious about how to implant your hearts. It’s a new energy source and it’s amazing!
*****blogger’s note****
After a two month break, the Robots story is back! You can find it in full, so far here:
Today’s song is one I’ve wanted to play for a while. Our Lady Peace made some good records over the past 15 years. This is a terrific song and it fits the story. Here’s Starseed…play it loud.


The twitching and searing pain lowered in intensity. I took the electrical nodes off my arms and chest and peered out of the partition. I could see Ava talking to Lucas and Dr. Bulas. She had that look she got when she wasn’t getting her way. Her blue eyes narrowed and shot lasers of hate into the two men. Breann texted.

_Outside by dumpster in rear of building. Gavin Todd is here!_

 Ava came to me full of anger.

‘Why are you out of bed? Where are Breann and Gavin?”

I didn’t respond.

“Caleb, Breann may be your partner in crime but Gavin’s mine. He’s paranoid that his patients aren’t going to be invited to the poker table. I wouldn’t be surprised if he brought them. “

I grabbed Ava’s arm and looked into her perturbed pupils.

“Breann and Gavin at the back near a dumpster. Why do we want to leave? Don’t we want to see what they do for Bruce Nolans.”

Ava put her hands on the bed I had layed, relaxed her shoulders and removed her suit jacket. She rolled up her shirt sleeves and washed her hands.

“The surgery is done. They’re saying it didn’t work, because the robotic heart didn’t take. I don’t believe Dr. Bulas, he’s pathological. Lucas is more metal than man. He lies terribly. They won’t let me take you out of here before Dr. Cluber gets here. Dr. Bulas is claiming ownership of you.”

I closed the partition and grasped both of Ava’s shoulders.

“We traveled for half a day with no sleep and no plan thinking this fake corn making lunatic could help us and now he owns me?”

Ava shot those blue lazers at me, clenched her teeth and hissed her words.

“You did this! You whine and moan about never getting your way, then you do, and now three sets of people who could crush you into blood and license plates are going to screw up my life too!”

She was right. The trip, getting out of the car, texting Breann, and now a prisoner with Ava’s professional future compromised.

“I’m sorry Av. I really am. You said three sets. Bulas and this bunch, Cluber and his, and who else.”

Ava took her jacket draped over my arm. She put it on and smiled awkwardly.

“Gavin has been freaking out. Anson Cluber doesn’t talk to either of us directly and until a few days ago Connor Bulas was a ghost. We went underground. There are people who see what is inside of you and the other five as priceless, yet they have no meglomanical designs of owning the rest of your body. The less you know, the better. They’ll come to us. When I didn’t call Gavin back last night he probably contacted them.”

I felt guilty. Ava telling me her manipulation was a first. We opened the partition and crept behind tables. I opened a door into a grey room with low flourescent light. I saw Bruce Nolans. He was alive. Ava moved in behind me and stared. Bruce was in a bed, strapped to it’s siderails. He looked still, but well. I found myself walking toward him, unafraid of what would happen next. Ava squeezed closer to me.

“Caleb, he may be drugged or disoriented. I mean, he was dead for several hours, medically.”

I stood next to his left side, reaching with my right hand to pull the sheet away from his chest. Someone else entered the room. It felt like a pall was cast.

“He’s alive. He’s just not responding to some arbitrary commands. Dr. Bulas screwed up. I should have thought out all my options. I just wanted to save him.”

I turned to see Lucas walking slowly to the bed. There was no emotion is his face or body, but his voice was resigned.

“Ava, can you get us out of here? Somewhere, neutral, with medical capability?”

Ava didn’t hesitate.

“Breann Lucos and Gavin Todd are outside. I have a car. Caleb said Breann drove. If we can find an airport with a 10 person transport, I can get us to Atlanta. I have privileges at three different hospitals. But, Gavin and I will want to run things out way. You guys need physicians.”

Lucas’s facial muscles didn’t move. He winced slightly from his wound earlier. He parted us and stood over Bruce, undoing the restraints. He whispered in Bruce’s ear as he rose. Ava began examining Bruce’s scars and taking his vitals.

“His heart is pulseless. Where’s the battery hum, at least?”

Lucas opened his shirt and took the end of Ava’s stethoscope to his chest. Ava’s eyes became shocked orbs of royal.

“Neither Bruce, nor I have a pulse. It is not a beat, it is an energy that never dies; Bruce and I are complete robot-human hybrids.”

Bruce moved to end of the bed. He was slow and withdrawn. If something was off with Lucas, something was completely missing with Bruce. I reached out to shake his hand, he gripped mine with brute force and spoke.

“I want to go home”.

I shook my head in agreement and pointed to the door. He followed Lucas, who followed Ava, who grabbed my arm and her bag and led me the back of the building. I opened the large metal door with an alarm attached and ran to a green dumpter, about 50 feet away. Gavin and Breann met us halfway. All 6 of us started running at the SUVs Breann and Gavin parked. I turned to Lucas.

“You sure you want to do this?”

Lucas opened the door to Gavin’s car and stared through me.

“Bulas did something to Bruce’s brain function. I don’t believe in him or Cluber. It’s time we got our lives back.”

 *****blogger’s note**** This is another story episode of the book I’m writing. You can read the rest here:

Today’s song is from Incubus. It’s thematic to the story. Here’s Drive….