Crossandra – A Flower or a Weed?
Crossandra is a lovely plant, perennial in Florida, with attractive orange or salmon colored flowers, a hue not usually seen in local plantings. But Crossandra suffers from plant schizophrenia. It cannot make up its mind as to whether it is a desirable flower or an uninvited weed.
The flowers of the Crossandra plant sit atop a stem that is covered with green seed pods while the plant is in bloom. Eventually, these turn dark, dry up, fall to the ground, or are blown by breezes to neighboring flower beds.
The Crossandra in front of my house are the descendants of plants that were part of a neighbor’s landscaping many years ago and whose seeds knew nothing about property lines when the breezes were right. I try to harvest the dried seeds from their stems as best I can and scatter them in a manner so that where they germinate will enable them to be defined as a flower and not as a weed.
In that sense, Crossandra plants are like families where succeeding generations choose to succeed by following paths, not necessarily inferior ones, other than those that their forebearers had planned.
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Do Jurors Deserve Hazardous Duty Pay?
More significant than (1) the trickle of progress in regard to enabling the United States to issue bonds to raise the cash needed to pay its bills, or (2) the legal troubles of a Long Island Republican congressman who routinely lies, or (3) undoing the damage done to American democracy by those who elected a snake oil salesman to the presidency, is the necessity of a judge telling the jurors in the civil case that found the same defeated former president liable for sexual abuse and defamation of his accuser to keep their identity as those jurors secret permanently.
Perhaps that would be necessary in a Third World country, but it should not be in a true democracy where laws, rather than gangsters and nut jobs running around with guns call the shots. But apparently, it is. That's why the judge gave the jurors such advice as he dismissed them.
We’ve come a long way in the wrong direction. And those who continue to support the defeated former president are leading the charge toward establishing an undemocratic United States, betraying the words of the Declaration of Independence written in 1776.
Incidentally, you may have noticed that Jackspotpourri never includes the name of the defeated former president, whom I often describe in unfavorable terms but never mention by name. (Material included on this blog from other sources may mention the name of the forty-fifth president, but nothing I write ever does.) Doing so might contaminate the blog and recognize that those hungry for publicity don’t care if it is favorable or not, just so long as their name is mentioned, giving them the opportunity to comment, and spreading their lies further.
That is something of which our defeated former president is aware and that the rating-hungry executives at CNN don’t quite understand.
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What Do We Do About Immigration?
While the United States has always welcomed immigrants, it is physically impossible to satisfy the hundreds of millions who would prefer to be in the United States rather than wherever else in the world they are now living, particularly those coming from south of our border with Mexico. President Biden, Vice President Harris, and their cabinet appointees recognize this, and that is why we must have immigration laws.
No matter how we tinker with them, we cannot accommodate all those that want to come here, for asylum, or otherwise. Some of these halfway measures are promising, like pre-applying online before attempting to immigrate. Others seem cruel, like illegal border crossers being not able to attempt immigration for five years after being turned back. But some revision in our immigration policy is needed, particularly since the Covid pandemic can no longer be used as a tool against illegal immigration, and what remains of immigration law is harsher.
The answer may be to work to make the countries where immigrants come from more democratic, more economically successful, and without the oppression, governmental or otherwise, that drives them to our borders. That can even mean, if working with them is difficult or impossible, opposing the present governments of some of our allies in this hemisphere. Such 'nation-building' failed in Iraq and Afghanistan, even with our military force behind it. Accomplishing that is the challenge we face. And the Republicans, mired in the bigotry that fuels their supporters, are no help. I repeat, it is a challenge. It might even be one that we cannot surmount, so don’t get your hopes up too high.
Throughout history, there have been many diasporas, all of which have involved immigration, legal or illegal, forced or voluntary, of people moving from a bad situation to what might be better ones. What is happening on our Southern border and on the waters of the Mediterranean Sea are parts of such movements. We cannot get away from the fact that diasporas and immigration problems are part of the world’s history and continue to challenge us.
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How To Try to Bring Republicans Back to the Real World
We ought to give the Republicans some idea of what kind of mess they are creating by their conditioning their support of the Treasury Department’s issuance of additional bonds, a form of debt to pay the nation’s contractual obligations, upon the Democratic Administration modifying its current agenda. To do this, I suggest they refuse to pay the minimum payment due on their own personal credit cards, or the payments due on the mortgages on their homes.
When their banks contact them, they should agree to pay what is contractually due only if they get extra cash 'rewards,' or extra miles, or lower interest rates on balances, or other modifications of the existing contracts with them, including their mortgages. They’ll see how far that gets them and soon find that no other bank will issue them a credit card or consider them for mortgage refinancing. And begin to understand the position in which they are putting our country.
It is not a good thing to be considered a deadbeat, unless of course, you support Republican officeholders who do. Some, like House Speaker McCarthy, believe not paying the nation's bills is a legitimate tool to be used in negotiating the current budget. It isn't, regardless of who might have used such a tactic in the past. McCarthy knows his position is illegal. The Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment (Section 4) states that 'The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law ... shall not be questioned.' Nothing can be clearer.
Even the defeated former president made a practice of ‘stiffing’ those to whom he owed money. ‘Sue me,’ he would say. ‘I got plenty of lawyers on retainer, and I bet you don’t. The cost of fighting me in court will bankrupt you!' Do you really believe he will ever write a check for $5,000,000 to the lady who was awarded that amount by a jury for past sexual harassment? Perhaps he will ask his loyal supporters to come up with it for him, under the guise of it being for some phony charity.
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The Original ‘Chrissy Frost’ Stories are Back!
All eight of them, originally included on this blog back in 2017 recounting the story of a Florida entertainer, are now re-appearing on the blog. Together they form what might be a novella, entitled ‘Time After Time – The Crissy Frost Story.’
Here are the fifth and sixth stories, chapters, or whatever you want to call them, in which things get really hot, even for Florida!. The final two will follow over the next few postings. The first four stories appeared in recent May, 2023 postings, accessible from the ‘Archive.’ If you missed them, just go back and check them out. They should be read in order, as you would read a book.
* * *
Chapter 5: Goldfinger – A Chrissy Frost Story
(“Chrissy Frost” is an entirely fictitious creation. My apologies go to anyone who might happen to share that name, and I know there are some of you out there.)
The Assistant State Attorney introduced Chrissy to the person who was the one who really wanted to talk to her, and then walked out of the room. Confronting her was a tall, smiling Black woman with the figure of an NFL defensive lineman. Rising from behind a desk, she grasped Chrissy’s hand, motioning her to sit down.
“I really want to thank you for coming, Ms. Frost. We just had to get to speak with you. My name is Cleopatra Cohen. Don’t laugh, but that’s the name I was born with. Maybe someday I’ll get to tell you how it came to be, but now, we have to talk. Please call me Cleopatra. I hate being called Cleo.”
Cleopatra, Chrissy sensed, was the kind of person you could not help but like.
“Okay, but please tell me what this is all about,” Chrissy said. “And you can call me Chrissy.”
“Fine, Chrissy. First I want to let you know that I’m a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency. I’m a Fed. I usually work up north, but they sent me down here to Florida for this assignment. And it involves you, Chrissy, if you are willing.”
Chrissy nodded. “Tell me more. And if I don’t want to hear anymore, I can leave? Isn’t that the way these things usually go?”
“That’s the idea, but I don’t think you will. You see, we’ve checked you out. We know your brother died in the line of duty as a cop, so that sort of puts you in the law enforcement family. Listen to me, Chrissy.”
Chrissy leaned toward Cleopatra and listened. She learned that Nutsy Buttsky, with whom she was having such wonderful times, was a major player at the Florida end of the heroin pipeline which started a thousand miles across the Caribbean in Columbia and emerged in the dark of the night on lonely beaches on the Sunshine State’s coast. And Buttsky wasn’t his name either. It was just one of the many aliases he has used, she learned. His real name was Isaac Christos O’Leary, Cleopatra explained.
“He certainly had me fooled,” Chrissy exclaimed. “That’s almost as wild as Cleopatra Cohen.” But why me?
“Because he likes you. We’ve been chasing him for years, but he has always been a loner, getting close to no one, except guys like Rocky. Actually, he met Rocky in prison ten years ago. We could never work with guys like Rocky, they can’t be trusted, but you’re a different story, Chrissy.”
“He’s been in prison?”
“Yes, he did eight years for manslaughter. He ran down a dealer who cheated him. Struck him with his truck. Then backed it over him. An accident, he claimed. But now, Chrissy, he’s into importing drugs and the stuff he brings in is responsible for a lot of the crimes and deaths you read about in the papers every day. It’s a dirty business. We know he has you fooled, but he really is a bad, bad dude. And it looks like you’re closer to him than anyone has been in years. Can’t figure out why he likes you but, that’s why we’re sitting here talking.”
Chrissy made her decision. “That son of a bitch, what do you want me to do?”
Cleopatra opened a small box on the desk and pulled out a bracelet, with several semi-precious stones embedded in it.
“Where did you get that?” Chrissy asked. “That’s one of my bracelets. I thought I lost it. I’ve been looking for it for a month now.”
“Not exactly, Chrissy. This looks exactly like the one we managed to lift from you. We have yours. Don’t worry. It’s safe and you’ll get it back. But we’d like you to wear this duplicate instead.”
Chrissy didn’t know what to think.
Cleopatra continued. “The purple stone, I think it’s an amethyst, that’s really a GPS sensor. Keep wearing it and we will always know exactly where you are. And this topaz is a recording device. All you do is tap it and it starts recording and one of our operators will be listening in. Tap it again and it stops. It’ll work for about a hundred hours without a recharge, and I hope this thing is over long before that’s used up.”
“So you got me wired?,” Chrissy asked.
“That’s old-fashioned. Works with suits and coats, but you really can’t hide a wire down here, the way people dress in Florida. This is better.”
“So what do you want me to do?”
Just keep on living your life the way you’re doing it, singing for the retirees, seeing O’Leary or Nutsy, or whatever he calls himself now. If he ever talks about going somewhere, particularly at night, or taking a trip, maybe to a beach, or mentions names, try to record it by tapping the topaz. Simple enough? If we want any more help, we’ll let you know. Now think about this for a minute, Chrissy. Is all this okay with you? You could get hurt. Remember, Nutsy is really a very dangerous criminal.”
“I’m okay with it.”
“One more thing,” Cleopatra added. “I noticed you have a small flowerpot with some impatiens in it by your mailbox. Do us a favor. If Nutsy is in the house with you, or you are expecting him, keep the flower pot to the right side, facing the street, of the mailbox. It he’s not around though, keep it on the left side. Helps us keep track of where your Nutsy is. That’s important.”
“You mean O’Leary.”
“Whatever. You can always say you have run out to check your mailbox for something you’re expecting, when you have to switch it. Okay? And not a word of this to your sister-in-law or anyone else. Okay? When I want to talk more with you, I will get to you. Don’t worry about that.”
Chrissy nodded again.
“Look, Chrissy. Technically, Iike they say in the spy movies, I’m your handler. I’ll be watching you. You’ll be okay. Don’t worry.”
Chrissy nodded again, and the interview was over.
And that night, when she was performing a midweek gig she had picked up at the Upstairs Lounge at the Isle Casino next to the trotting track down in Pompano, she made sure to think deeply of the lyrics as she sang her opening number, from the 1964 movie of the same name:
He's the man, the man with the Midas touch,
A spider's touch,
Such a cold finger,
Beckons you to enter his web of sin,
But don't go in
“Golden words he will pour in your ear,
But his lies can't disguise what you fear,
For a golden girl knows when he's kissed her,
It's the kiss of death from Mister … Goldfinger.”
Chapter 6: Beach Party – A Chrissy Frost Story
(“Chrissy Frost” is an entirely fictitious creation. My apologies go to anyone who might happen to share that name, and I know there are some of you out there.)
“Hey, Chrissy,” Nutsy called out. “I got some fun stuff for us to do tonight! When was the last time you went to a beach party? I’m invited to one tonight and I’d love it if you came along. Game for it, girl?”
“What kind of party?” Chrissy replied, tapping the topaz on the bracelet Cleopatra had given to her. “It’s really too cold out there, and I don’t want to get sandy.”
Nutsy looked at her strangely. It was a look that Chrissy had never seen before. “You’re coming, and no ifs, ands or buts about it. I need you to be there.” He spoke stridently, in a no-messing-around almost alarming manner.
Chrissy looked away for a second, and when her eyes returned to Nutsy, he was holding a revolver in his hand. “This says you’re coming with me tonight, Chris! Understand?”
“What kind of shit is this, Nutsy?” But her question was just a front. She knew he was onto her.
“Same kind of shit you’ve been pulling on me for the past month. Don’t you think I’ve caught you moving that flowerpot around, the one by the mailbox? That’s an old trick. You’re tipping off someone about something, and I have a vague idea that it’s me … so that’s why you and me are going to a beach party tonight!”
“What are you talking about? You gotta be out of your mind!”
“No, it’s you who’s out of your mind. I think you’re working with the cops, Chrissy. I never thought you’d pull that on me.”
“Like I said, you’re crazy. Why would I do that?”
“I dunno,” Nutsy answered. “But I started to worry about you when that schvatzah came to the house last week and you spent a little too much time talking to her.”
“You’re crazy, Nutsy. She answered an ad I placed on the community bulletin board for a new cleaning woman. Haven’t you noticed this place isn’t as neat as it used to be since Maria quit and went back to Honduras? But she couldn’t come when we wanted her. We’re still looking for someone.”
“That’s what you say, Chrissy. I say she was a cop. I can smell them a mile away. And that’s why you’re coming to the beach with me tonight.” Nutsy pointed at the revolver. “I can smell them a mile away.”
Chrissy was relieved that Stella was out in Seattle visiting her kids so she wouldn’t get involved in what she was afraid was going to be a very messy evening. She hoped whoever was supposed to be listening when she tapped the topaz was at the top of their game that day, and not on a coffee break or something.
“What beach are we going to, Nutsy,” Chrissy asked.
“What kind of question is that, sweetheart? Sounds like one you’d ask if you wuz wearing a wire!” With that he pulled at Chrissy’s blouse, roughing her up a bit as he tried to see if she actually were wearing one.
“Guess you’re clean … but just shut up, and get in the car,” he replied, pushing her out the front door.
Chrissy began shaking, for the first time really realizing that she had gotten herself into something deep, and it wasn’t sand. But she gritted her teeth and didn’t let Nutsy sense her fear. She sang to herself.
“When you walk in a storm, keep your head held high,
And don’t be afraid of the dark,
At the end of the storm is a golden sky,
And the sweet silver song of a lark.”
Twenty minutes later, without any lights, they pulled into the darkened parking lot at Gulfstream Beach, on the road running parallel to the ocean known as A-1-A, just a little bit south of the surfboard shop near Briny Breezes. The entrance was closed but someone had managed to slice through the gate’s lock and raise the arm so the car could get through.
“Hey, Nutsy, all set for a big night,” called out a familiar voice. It was Rocky.
“Yup! We’ll just settle down on the beach and wait. You brought beach chairs I hope.”
“Sure, and also some coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. The kind in a box that stays warm. What’s with the broad? Why did you bring her along. Dames mean trouble, Nutsy. You know that.”
“Rocky, I’m pissed at you for ever introducing me to her. I think she’s been talking to the cops. I don’t want to take any chances, so if I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but if I’m right, it’s handy to have a hostage around. You never know what will come down.”
By then they had walked down the wooden steps and set themselves up on the beach. Within a few minutes, a faint blinking light appeared, some distance off shore. It got closer and closer.
“Short blink, short blink, long blink, short blink. That’s the signal alright. This is what we’ve been waiting for. Answer them, Rocky. What’s in that boat is worth forty million on the street.”
Rocky pulled out a flashlight he had bought that afternoon at Harbor Freight and answered. “Long blink, long blink, short blink, long blink.”
Within a few minutes a black rubber boat, actually a large motorized raft, pulled itself onto the shore. Two men, dressed in black, carried four waterproofed cartons onto the sand near where Nutsy, Rocky and Crissy sat. Nutsy walked over to the boxes, examined them and handed an envelope to one of the men in black.
It was then that all hell broke loose.
The rhythmic roar of a helicopter beating the air directly overhead drowned out all other sound. Floodlights from above bathed the beach with light. A loudspeaker blared out. “This is the Drug Enforcement Agency. Drop any weapons you have and lay flat on the sand. We have you surrounded. Our agents are approaching you from all sides.”
Nutsy grabbed Crissy around the waist and held the revolver to her throat. “We got a hostage here,” he screamed. “I get out of here free and clear or she dies. Understand?”
The only answer was silence, finally interrupted by the blazing pulsating of a whiter than white, brighter than bright, laser-like brilliance shooting down from the helicopter. Then suddenly, in that instant before Nutsy’s eyes could adjust to what was going on, what appeared to be a creature the size of a bear, or maybe a Florida version of the abominable snowman, came flying out of the beach plum bushes in front of which they had planted the beach chairs. Or was it the largest defensive tackle the NFL had ever seen, and it was screaming, “Drop the gun, asshole!” And before Nutsy had time to think, let along squeeze the trigger, he was pinned to the ground by Cleopatra Cohen, gasping as his open mouth filled with the sand into which she was deeply pushing his face. After that, all that had to be done was to pick up the pieces. And the DEA people set to work doing that, leading Nutsy and Rocky away in handcuffs. Meanwhile the Coast Guard had already captured the two men in the rubber boat.
Later, back in the house at Valencia Heights, the two women sat over steaming cups of coffee, laced with brandy.
“Chrissy,” Cleopatra said, “It’ll be a long, long time before Nutsy and Rocky get out of prison, if they ever do. But we really want to thank you for your help. Without you, we would never have been able to catch them, and the two guys on the boat too. If you’d like it, we can get you a nice printed up commendation from the DEA. Framed and everything. Maybe even a ceremony in Washington.”
“Nah, all I want is my bracelet back.”
Cleopatra smiled. “You already got it, baby. There was never a second bracelet. All that stuff about a GPS and a communications device was bullshit. We don’t have money in our budget for stuff like that. We ain’t the CIA. We even had to borrow the helicopter we used tonight from the Palm Beach County Sheriff!”
“But how did you know where we were? That he was dragging me to the beach?”
“Old fashioned police work, Chrissy. We had agents planted in a couple of houses on your street and were able to watch you 24 hours a day. When we saw him push you into the car at gunpoint, we knew this was the night, and we made our move.”
“I think I’ll stick to singing, Cleopatra, and staying home a bit more. I’m deserting the Florida club scene for a while. But I will invite you to my next show. Okay?”
“It’s a deal. You know I sing a little myself too,” Cleopatra Cohen answered as she got up and walked toward the door. “You know this one?” She was a soprano with the kind of strong voice you hear from those who passed some of their Sunday mornings in church choirs. Turning toward Chrissy, she sang out:
“Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown,”
Chrissy got up and grasped Cleopatra’s hand and smiled as their voices joined in delicious harmony.
“Walk on, walk on,
With hope in your heart,
And you’ll never walk alone.
You’ll nehhh-vaaaah waaaalk a-lonnnne!”
“Cleopatra, that was great. Maybe someday you’ll come up on stage with me?”
“Don’t hold your breath.” And she was out the door.
Stella was due to be returning from Seattle the next day, Chrissy remembered. And while she set about straightening out the house a bit, she tried to imagine the expression on Stella’s face when she told her that she wouldn’t be seeing Rocky Levine again for a long, long time, probably never. But knowing how Stella had ultimately accepted her husband’s death, she knew getting over Rocky would be no problem for her. None at all. Life must go on.
* * *
Housekeeping on the Blog
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