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From The Duck Hunter Diaries, Vol. 3

September 14, 2006–8os today, seems almost cool. Still surreal — city streets full of NASCAR wannabes in expensive cars that glitter under the dust. The local newspaper is full of stories of violence that read strangely in this gated enclave with the lazy pock of tennis balls coming from courts and palm trees swaying in a desert breeze; it is more like a resort at an oasis than apartment complex.

Sore throat, bloody nasal discharge for us both; N. already visited an emergency room with severe asthma-like symptoms. Who knew Vegas was the…


The rain finally returned to Western Washington after the longest dry spell I can recall. Previous worst in my memory went past forty days and forty nights that lasted into deer season, resulting in dry “popcorn” woods that made stalking a joke. This drought — and by Evergreen State standards, it was a drought — started earlier. So the woods should be quiet Opening Day, coming up. I don’t get out much anymore, but still mark the calendar by hunting seasons. And all my life I’ve been a pluviophile, though I didn’t learn the lovely term until my seventh decade…

Photo by Robert Smith. “Sample” conversion to jpg from pdf.

Richard Brautigan was a winsome product of the Pacific Northwest who spent a good deal of time in San Francisco during the hippie era. Some of his writing seemed more Beat than Hip, and much was infused with melancholy. He was quoted as saying “what makes you older is when your bones, muscles and blood wear out, when the heart sinks into oblivion and all the houses you ever lived in are gone and people are not really certain that your civilization ever existed…”

His words came back to me on the way home from yet another high-tech scan of…

Another Chapter From The Novel

My First What You’d Call Social Contact With Deep-dyed Georgians


The evening after Dawson talked to me, Corinne came back to the kitchen after the first dinner rush and drew a cup of coffee and stood around like she had something on her mind too. I wondered if Dawson had talked to her too. I was still trying to figure out what to think about what he had told me.

“You goin’ to be around the Beaches this weekend?” she said.

“I guess so. I’m supposed to play poker Friday night. Why?”

“Mama wants you to come for dinner,” she said. “Daddy got her a new barbecue grill…

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Buck hit the fifth floor newsroom that Monday right at six a.m., as he had been hitting it give or take a couple minutes for five days a week every week for two years until two weeks ago. Two weeks ago he had begun his first official paid vacation, and now it was over.

As the elevator door swished shut behind him, he paused. The first thing that hit him was the new-old sensation you get when you’ve been away officially and are coming back. It was kind of like September, going back to school, but felt far more serious…

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A beach-town seafood cook, alone while his wife resides in a TB sanitarium, befriends a divorced waitress. Nothing “going on” between them, but who ever believes that? A small, quiet man accustomed to minding his own business gets a wakeup call…


It was later in October when Mabel told me one day that Dawson wanted to see me. I was just coming on shift. It was two p.m. and we had the whole night ahead of us. …


My new agency was big on family. Despite his residual unease about weathering surprise sniping by the troopers’ union, my boss didn’t think twice before giving me two weeks off to go to Georgia. “Family is why we work in the first place — go!”

The Georgia news was bad: the matriarch’s memory was sinking beneath the dark cloud of Alzheimer’s disease. My mother and her boyfriend, BC, drove her to Atlanta to meet my plane. At my mother’s home in the Territory, the matriarch’s memory only came out of the shadows intermittently. Often she had to be told again…

Available on Amazon.Com

Chapter One

The last decade of the Twentieth Century was less than half over when we had one of the wettest springs on record in Western Washington. That’s saying something when you live between the Japanese Current and the peaks of the Cascade Mountains. It hadn’t been all that long since the Berlin Wall was torn down, which I remember because a friend of mine who had been there brought me a chunk of concrete from the Wall to use as a paperweight.

It was late April. I had an appointment in the state capitol that afternoon, a family with…

Available at books


Seattle in the seventies? Sure, I could tell you stories about Seattle in the seventies. It still had a kind of innocence then you didn’t usually see in cities its size, but that didn’t make it boring.

The Nixon Justice Department waged some of its losing battle against the antiwar crowd in Seattle, after an estimated two thousand of them besieged the federal building in February of 1970. Trial of the alleged ringleaders was moved to Tacoma, in front of a U.S. District Judge who liked to be photographed wearing Indian war bonnets.

He would be far-better remembered…

A thoughtful treatise with some good points. Hate to be the fly in the ointment, but I've been around a long time. When a judge tried to get me fired for reporting on the suicide death of a black girl he put in prison unfairly, the Newspaper Guild (our union) saved my job. But I was in the crosshairs and decided to go to work for a public employee union whose efforts to end patronage in my state impressed me.

Whereupon I discovered the most totalitarian of bosses were union presidents and top dogs. They used every trick they'd learned…

Bill Burkett

Professional writer, Pacific Northwest. 20 Books: “Sleeping Planet” 1964 to “Venus Mons Iliad” 2018–19. Most on Amazon for sale. Il faut d’abord durer.

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