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The King of Lake County

I have now completed my first month back in rehab, and my body is still pointedly reminding me how it feels bout the regimen of meth and junk food I imposed on it last December and January. I believe I should've healed by now and it's only showing off its ability to inflict pain, and the continuing discomfort is purely punitive, but that's okay. I deserve it. And if the length and severity of the lesson is anything for its impression then I'm willing to endure for the sake of lasting abstinence. Perhaps not entirely stoically; my irascibility is likely to increase as the days go on to G.O.M. (grumpy old man) levels. But it's good training for the day when I get my real old-man card and can say whatever the hell I want without fear of reprisal. At this point I'm still young appearing and acting enough that I risk an ass-kicking when my mouth runs ahead of my brain, a fairly common occurrence and one over which I have zero control. 

When the day comes, though, that cursing someone from crown to calcaneus elicits only an indulgent chuckle, I'll dismiss the notion of filters entirely and spend my days telling the world and everyone in it exactly what I think of them (spoiler alert: it's not good). 

In case you hadn't heard, I live in Lake County now, and the collective shocked gasp you hear stirring bird-flocks to flight and upsetting zoo monkeys is only the world expressing its shock and surprise that I, sophisticated cosmopolite, world traveler, and man-about-town, would deign to honor those unfortunate bumpkins with my presence. But is not a primary tenet of my recovery program the selfless and meaningful act of service, and what better way to serve a culturally undernourished community than to interpolate mine own illuminating presence into their darkness? 

Only yesterday we went on a trip down to the general store and there, standing around the pickle barrel, unshod and overalled, were three locals discussing me. 

"Heerd about that new fella over t'the rehab?" one said. 

"Yep," said another, sending most of a long stream of tobacco juice to the dusty floor and the rest into his unkempt beard. "Hear tell he's got a fearsome amount o' book larnin'. Been all the way to Sam Frisco and points beyond."

The third shook his shaggy head in disbelief. "Don't know what'd make a man travel so far. They's monsters out there, sure as shit. Geezlegrubs, hazamamphs, what have you. You recall that McAllister boy, got airs and hied off to Sackermenter to work for the gub'mint, never came home. Eaten, mos' likely."

They all three bowed their heads in memory of the heedless McAllister boy, visions of fantastical beasts spooling through their rudimentary proto-brains. 

I didn't introduce myself — no point in confusing and frightening them — but it did get me thinking. What this poor, benighted, misbegotten county requires is leadership. It's not their fault the region was settled by escaped mental defectives. Strong, competent leadership in the shape of a benevolent despot, and who better to fill the role? I believe my aggregate life experience, with its extreme variation and various extremes, suits me quite neatly for the position. 

The first necessary step will be of course, to vote out democracy in toto and vest all power into a single entity, i.e., me. I haven't the time nor patience to be shilly-shallying about with councils city or alderpeople or supervisors. If ever a people needed to be iron-fisted, it's this one, and I'm just the fist to go thrusting deep up into their collective fundament. 

I'd begin with educational reform. Current scholastic standards have Lake County youth only attending long enough to learn how to operate a zipper and prepare a few simple meth recipes, after which they are apprenticed to bait shops and secondhand stores, but under my regime would complete a full six years of compulsory schooling, right up to the gazintas. Thus armed, they would then be transferred to training camps, separated according to natural ability and personal inclination, given color-coded jumpsuits, and put to some useful work. With this army of highly disciplined, identity-free drones, combined with a program of careful selective breeding, there's no reason we can't transform this county into a worker's utopia within a generation or two. It's simple, direct solutions like this that the world needs to put an end to all the chaos and strife, and I don't know why someone hasn't thought of it before. 

Seriously, though, Lake County is a beautiful place, geographically, and its citizens — leaving aside the ever-increasing army of marauding tweakers patrolling the shadows — are the very salt seasoning the earth. There is a distinct Lake County character of charming rusticity and isolationist tendency that I find refreshing, and I like it here. 

I would offer a couple of simple suggestions to improve things and perhaps up the tourist revenue, though — in a purely civic-minded sense, of course

One, if you're going to name your little lakeside hamlets after some of the most lush and desirable real estate on the planet, having those beaches smell like a catastrophic septic disaster results in something called cognitive dissonance. It's quite confusing. 

And to the owners of secondhand stores, I understand you may not be able to afford professional sign painters, but incorrect spelling, misplaced apostrophe's, and canted lettering in various fonts and sizes do nothing to inspire consumer confidence.

Beyond that, I call Lake County a hidden bucolic jewel and infinitely preferable a place to dwell to much of California, viz., Bakersfield, Fresno , the Central Valley, L.A., etc, etc.

I was personally addressed in Off The Record last week and offered a suggestion that, given the (granted) long odds against my remaining completely "clean," I find some alternate intoxicant to satisfy my apparent need to augment and distort reality, but I am not one of those people who find any sort of chemical adjustment preferable to an unfiltered, pellucid view of the world. I enjoy clarity of mind and vision and can find sufficient stimulation in even the most mundane aspects of life to keep me interested. Pot enervates, hallucinogens frighten, depressants and downers render me sluggish and thick, and alcohol gets me beat up. I just happen to be obsessed with the worst and most damaging drug ever, and whatever success and happiness I hope to achieve in life depends entirely on me being capital C Clean. Mens sana, corpore sano, all that. It may indeed be ten to one that I ever achieve it, but I'll take those odds in the interest of being able to enjoy a good book and write a cogent paragraph into my dotage. But thank you for your interest (and praise).


  1. Michael Koepf March 6, 2019

    Good luck, Washburne.

  2. Dawn March 8, 2019

    I’ve been following you! Keep on keepin’ on! Much love and admiration from afar!

  3. volt voort March 10, 2019

    Hello, Flynn. Thank you for all the thoroughly entertaining, often insightful dispatches through the years. In perhaps a bit of hyperbole I’ve described you to friends as the ONLY writer currently working for a newspaper. If not quite that, certainly my favorite. It is auspicious that you’ve managed to crank out several articles with the expected level of wit even in the midst of your backsliding. “…not entirely stoically….” you say above. In fact, the Stoics- Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, et al.- had plenty to say about your situation. You’ve already mastered some aspects of Stoic discipline, viz. your refreshing disregard for the opinions of the sheep, your autogenous evaluations. They also had some things to say about appetites. Good luck, pardner, please stick around.

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