Author: Rev. Leland Locke

Rev. Leland Locke grew up in Deerfield, OH; currently living in Wilkesbrough, NC, with his amazing Wife, Tara, dogs, and two freshwater aquariums filled with colorful life. Mr. Locke has been working The Word for over ten years. He has been published in both private and mainstream publications. Studied philosophy, sociology, and literature at Kent State University, Ohio University, University of Akron, the New Scool x Rolling Stone ,and Breyer State University. He is crrently working on serval large products .

Back and Forth

My standard morning is not exciting. When I was 25, walking back and forth on a Cleveland ghetto road at six-thirty in the morning is not what I had envisioned my future mornings to be. However, after I get a few cups of coffee into my system, the walk has become necessary. Not so much for me, but for my friend, Rickolas.

See: Rickolas is someone that needs to SCREAM! Not in any mean (or literal) sense. He just needs to vent. To speak without having anyone else around.

I have been elected his official listener.

When you live in a sober house there are ears everywhere. In the kitchen, in all the rooms. When you go to the bathroom you are wondering if there are any deceptive digital devices recording the embarrassing mutters we (well, at least I can admit to it,) sometimes have during the call of nature. Walking up and down the side streets is the only way to carry on a private conversation.

And this morning, Rickolas most certainly had something he wanted to talk about without the rest of the house knowing.

(I don’t even know how I can – or should – write about this. I know that writing can be a form of exploitation, and I noticed people have been reading these posts. So, I am going to try and do this as best I can.)

Here’s the deal:

An elderly individual is having medical troubles. They can not eat due to problems swallowing. Something about burs in his throat. This person has a feeding tube. Food (in the form a liquid not all that different from the product Ensure,) must be administered into his stomach through a tube. Not only does he have to endure this, he also just had surgery on his wrist, preventing him from feeding himself.

He is asking others to do it for him.

We live in a sober house, not a Care Facility for the elderly. None of us drunks and addicts should be held accountable to care for someone in such a state.

How do we even handle the situation?

I know. I know. I know. The standard thing to do is to inform the Executive Director of the house of what is going on. And, to a certain degree, she knows about his condition. She knows he is frail, has cancer which he is going to die from, and professional help (i.e. a nurse,) is becoming more and more a need. (She does not know he is asking help to be fed from the residents.)

In the end, I know this situation is not going to end well. That is just the ugly truth. The man does not want to leave the place he has called home for the past however many years. It is a standard story. But it is still a difficult, frustrating story full of grief and tragedy worthy of a cheap novel. Or a great novel, depending on the author.

Rickolas and I kept walking. After his “outburst” of emotion, after we went up the road yet another time, I’d come to realize the houses on the road were not that bad looking. One or two are empty. The windows boarded up. But most of the homes have nice flowers and plants growing in pots. Shrubs are trimmed. Driveways paved. I have been in much worse places in my life.

I am sure the elderly man has been to some bad places, as well. Hell, I know he has. I wish I could tell him he could go someplace better. Better than the West Side of Cleveland we are in.

But that is not my place.

Nor is it my place (or Rickolas’) to care for him.


June 05, 2021

Hemingway had a house full of cats. Both Bill Burroughs and Charles Bukowski have books dedicated to the very subject of cats. Hunter S. Thompson had cat named Jones, and famed artist and close friend of the Great Gonzo journalist, Ralph Steadman, wrote a cute little book about him.

I had an insane cat living with me, my ex-wife and, at the time, our new born son.

His name was Church. He died when my son was three years old. (I think Church was six or seven when he passed; he was not very old.) Anyway, I don’t know what he died from. R@#$, my wife at the time, and me were walking around the house in the morning. When we came to the end of the driveway, in front of the old barn, we saw Church laying. But it was not the kind of laying associated with sleep. Especially not the sleep of a our notorious cat. And, yes, he was notorious.

I won’t get into detail at how upset my ex-wife was. All I will write is I never heard her scream the way she did once she realized he was not sleeping.

The feline has caught the attention of human being going back to the time of the Egyptians. Each cat having its own personality, and their personalities expressed through movement and sound and touch, The Cat is a most impressive thing of Nature.

There are cats, like Church, that will talk to you. Cats that will ignore you. There are the feisty cats that will attack your feet when they are dangling over the edge of the bed.

Most importantly, especially right now in my life, a cat can be understanding, comforting, and in need to be comforted (an important trait to someone like me that has not even so much as cared for himself in the past five years.)

Feeding and caring for the house cat, Mr. Wallace, has been a form of therapy. I think this is my third time writing about him (and cats in general,) but no feline will ever etch the mark on my heart as Church did.

Yes. We, my wife and I, named the little kitten-cat after the brought-back-to-life cat character from Stephen King’s 1983 novel, Pet Sematary. We bought him as a birthday present for my former betrothed. Her birthday is close to Halloween. So why not name the new member of our home after a character in the scariest book I have ever read?

I don’t know why, and I don’t know how to describe it, but the name fit. Church was not like the cat from the novel, or Mary Lambert’s 1989 film adaptation of the book… he was just a CHURCH!

His coat was white and grey. He had Siamese-shaped eyes, and talked the Siamese speak. They meow – he meowed – to announce his presence. Church meowed when he was hungry. He meowed when he walked; he meowed, I think to listen to himself meow.

Our House Cat, Mr. Wallace, meows with Church, now. And he only meowed when he saw I was feeling low-down. Mr. Wallace was run over by a car about a month ago. We had to put him down. There is a marker for him by the house where we buried him.

(AUTHOR”S NOTE: I will be including the other “Cat Sketches” in the future.)

Starting Sober

This all began back in 2013, writing on WordPress. That was back when I lived in Missoula, MT. I don’t remember what I was trying to accomplish back then. Maybe I just wanted to learn how to share my writing with the public…?

For years, my writing has been in secret spiral bound notebooks, stacks of typewritten pages, volumes of composition notebooks, and private files on laptops and desktops. I turned in essays for school… I have been published in some books, two magazines, newspapers, and there were some websites kind enough to include my words. But as far as my own forum on the internet dedicated to writing, this is where it began.

Where it is going to begin again. This time, I will be writing sober.

See: I am an alcoholic. Have been alcoholic since I was 20 years old. I have wrecked cars, been in the hospital more times than I care to remember (and I think there are some times I DO NOT remember,) lost my wife and son, been homeless, and been declared legally and medically insane.

But I have kept on writing.

What I will be publishing/posting here are personal essays – columns, diary entries, whatever you want to call them – I have written over the past six months living in a Sober Home. I typed these pieces up on two typewriters, usually in a dashing from my room to the kitchen where I am the Kitchen Manager, trying to convince myself I am still a writer.

(I am not sure how long it had been since i had used a typewriter. What I do know is I have not been in a stable place – have not lived in any one place – in over two years. (I imagine it is hard to lug around a typewriter when you are homeless.)

So, in the following weeks, I will be selecting some of my columns, titled Stirring the Sauce, to re-write and to be published here on WordPress.

Hope you enjoy them!

Assuming Struggles of Little Lee (“Untitled” Manuscript Excerpt)

Tension & worry, it seems, became ludicrously available, ever-flowing and common as tap water from a faulty kitchen sink faucet.  More horrible than tension and worry, hands down,was The Doubt.  Self-doubt, ranking as Highlander Master over the other varieties of uncertainty, taps both my wife and me on the shoulder, serving as a daily reminder Little Lee’s 18 month check-up dented our comfort and capability as parents, spider webbing the security we had Lee was healthy, in body and mind.

I stayed at the apt. to write while Rory & t/ baby went to Dr. Flow DimDiddles, Pediatrician Pisshead Specialist of Missoula, MT, for the obligatory year-and-a-half poke and prod.  I hadn’t stood up from my desk the whole time they were gone, not even to get a beer or have a cigarette… whatever I had been working on was going so well my two essential maintenance drugs had been forgotten.  Rory opened my office door to my without me noticing… or, maybe that’s just a detail I’ve forgotten… ever since that day, I’ve forgotten a great deal more, concerning many things about various stages of my life – so many things are forgettable when the first word your wife says returning from the pediatrician is AUTISM.

Farewell to a Good Friend, I Wish We Had Met

(Author’s Note: the first draft of this work began the night of February 05, 2005.  I was living in an attic apartment not far from the University of Akron.  Years later, in 2011, I think, Me & My Wife at the time were moving to a better apartment in Missoula, MT.  We just found out we were pregnant, and we needed a better place to live.  I found a printed version of this while trying to organize boxes & boxes of papers & journals & files.  I reworked it that day, messing it up terribly.  Sometimes being under the influence can really mess things up.  That day, I was HEAVILY medicated from a dental exam.  And now, once again, years later, I worked some more on it.  Maybe it is finally finished… but, I doubt it) 

A great deal went on Sunday nights my third year (third college, as well,) 2nd semester at the University of Akron.  It was the night before beginning classes and the work week – a week worth of goals and expectations, nagging thoughts & wishing for Friday to finally arrive.

Monday was only an hour away.

I was trying to focus on a Social Psychology study printed in one of those academic journals only found in University libraries, or in the mailboxes of Academics.

Needing a rest – that class & those readings brought needing a lot of rests & aids to maintain my 91% grade – I walked away from the table cluttered with textbooks and notebooks.  I went into the other room.  My at-the-time girlfriend had a little office set-up in the second bedroom of her apartment. 

I sat at the computer to check my email.

Bringing Yahoo’s homepage to the screen, it hit!  For the first time, a headline on a computer monitor struck me so hard – so terrible & REAL – it made my chest tighten, almost forcing me to choke.  Or fall off of the swiveling office chair. 

I was in a panic!

Breathing was difficult. 

I was trying to get oxygen into my lungs.  Sharp pains were acknowledged (an automated survival feature most blood and brain beasts possess, letting us know we are still alive.) 

Like a disturbingly loud crash after silence surfaces over a room, my nerves tightened, my eyelids in concentrating slits attempting greater focus on the computer screen, and desperation for a safe place worked through my system, like I needed a cave to hide in.

In a manner to adjust my thoughts, which felt as scattered as birdshot from a cutback barrel, I read the AP article.

I let out a long breath and dropped my head.  I’m not certain how long before I looked back up at the screen and soaked in the report’s details.  Summoning more concentration, I reread the exposition, seeing the brutal details:

Fatally shot himself…


Body found by son.

When family members pass-on, as they always have and will do, our comprehensible rationalizing of age, health and situation deals your hand of grief.  It is proper etiquette to try & remain in control; not let your emotions get the best of you.  Make an effort of being aware of those around you, and that they are feeling it to.  Others you feel might need to see a strong face, an understanding face, that might have answers to many of the questions a Departing arises.

You know people must die, especially those you grew close to during hard, confusing moments when something – even if you think it is wrong later on – had to be said right to you, right at that moment to trigger whatever it is anyone needs to rationalize and get passed difficulties: a friend providing your mind and soul with a faceguard and munitions bunker.

However, when a hero dies – someone you never personally knew or met – a different side of the world feels hollower, and the actions and arrangements you have made in your life influenced by that inspirational character, feel vulnerable.  Soon you (I) are ushering in the defensive tactics in attempts to preserve elements essential to who you have become.  How you lead your life, and what has been brought to your attention as values and actions vital to an existence exemplifying Personal Freedom & Courage.

Life, at that bitter moment, after reading that headline, felt… odd.  For lack of better of a better term.  Not in any good way, either. Knowing someone so great (by my estimation) will no longer share something new with you in a book, a CD, a painting… an interview – it is crushing.

At the time, there was no thought about what actions towards Preservation might happen.  That twenty years down the line something NEW could emerge – something that could resurrect the good feelings & good memories that idol inspired.

Social Scientists have preached that a person, especially a young, impressionable person, is better at shaping their own personal structures and goals when an idol is there to provide evidence of their attainability.  And how valuable certain attributes are.

We read biographies, press write-ups – anything available – planning out and judging our future moves, based on the situations your Admired One faced.  You are mentally configuring how you might have handled it better.   

Or in your own way.  Teachings from a hero are a priceless gift.  A gift that will guide the young and admiring.

I wonder if they know this about their lives. I wonder if they knew – or know – how important they will remain, their teachings enduring the progression of time.

For me, the world is less grand… Hunter S. Thompson died tonight: February 20, 2005.

I miss him, already.

He was one of the few writers I admire greatly that had been alive & working during my life.

Never have I seen, nor will I ever see, on the Soon To Come billboard at Waldenbooks an upcoming John O’Hara novel, or new Selections of poetry by Richard Brautigan. 

But I do remember seeing on that billboard in a Walden Bookstore at Carnation Mall, Alliance, OH, Dr. Thompson’s Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secretes of a Star Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century

That was back in 2003.

Maybe, & I do pray for this, there will be some posthumous works to come.   

Leland Locke (Left) & Ti Jean Kemble, Missoula, MT, circa 2012

Author’s Note: How & When Did This Happen?

There was always one – sometimes, two – all night long bouts of sweeping and mopping all the floors, putting every article of clothing and linen through both machines, then for some meticulous sorting, folding, organizing and re-hanging neatly:  these were important nights before my son was born.


Through those midnight hours, my territorial impulses to award the new apartment-space, unarguably, MONTANA LOCKE SPACE snared a good portion of time; more importantly, hard work at the massive Office Desk Unit – a perfect metaphor, it was, of the Writer’s colossal Ego – setup in the Main Living Room was relentless.  Writing had never been as purely concentrated an expression – more, numerous expressions – pulling content from all facets of my life; nor had it ever violently formed a haunting-like presence of what played-out from imagination as if it were from memory.


This was my time alone:  a period of cultivation and training.     


It is still happening:  staying awake for 50 (at the worst, 70) hours, tackling as much fallen-behind, built up, overflowing HONEY-DO! lists, with no comfort of finishing my mystery solving responsibilities including folding socks; a never-diminishing, pell-mell-stacked array of dishes faithfully wait – my midnight-hour evenings alternating in purpose and significance, never sure if that sense of accomplishment will be granted with the dawn.


As far as the writing goes… well… my General’s Commanding Office Unit met with a tragic, 3:00am sledgehammer execution before getting on a plane to Ohio.  Most of our cherished belongings, along with the work station, needed to go.  The casual visitor should have no difficulty in knowing most of the good n’ dangerous belongings are hibernating, gone, or displayed/dwelling in another room. 


An exciting outcome from all the change:  I now have a small place in the home designated for work – Vincent’s room!  My writing area may not be as large, not as stocked with dangerous and borderline illicit recreational material, not even host to a magnetic-pull or beckoning:  The main nerve center of operations within my home is a consistently mobile, gibbering lunatic-happy baby… making space for this collapsible picnic table/desk in his room for the Old Man is going to grind a few good stories out from him.


Inside this Jack-O-Lantern orange walled space (still adorning my wife’s handcrafted circus animal stickers I refuse to peel-off) will, without question, change as these Notes and other works are composed within; there will not be a change of Rank or Title initially awarded to the room.   

It will remain, The Baby Room.