The Graveyard Shift

OK, I admit I’m no Stephen King and horror is not my thing. But it is Halloween and that puts me in the mood to share a ghost story with you. This is a story from my first book, “Things I Remember,” and it happened just the way I describe it.


The man next to me said he was dead. I looked around the bus. We were the only passengers. It was late and raining hard.

“Pardon?” I said.

“I’m dead.”

“I don’t understand. You look ok.”

“No, I’m dead. I’m the only one who knows it, though. My wife didn’t believe me. She left, took the dog. My boss said I needed professional help. Too late I told him.”

“Umm.” I looked at my watch. Almost midnight. This bothered me. I should have been home four hours ago, but my car broke down. Had to leave it at the garage and take the bus for the first time in my life. Just my luck I get stuck on the midnight bus with a man who thinks he’s dead and it’s raining cats and dogs.

I got up and walked to the front of the bus.

“Pardon me, sir, how much longer till Mission Avenue?”

“Not long.”

“Listen. This guy back there is sick or crazy or something. He’s…”

“Yeah, that’s George. Don’t’ worry about him. He’s dead.”

“That’s crazy,” I said to the driver. “He’s as alive as you and me.”

The driver snickered.

I turned back to the man who told me he was dead. He was pulling strands of white hair from his head.

I dropped to the seat behind the driver and watched the man. Just then, the bus slowed to a stop and a woman climbed aboard.

“Hello Miss Martha.”

“Hello John. You’re running late.”

“Sorry, it’s the weather, Miss Martha.”

The woman walked past me and smiled. She didn’t carry an umbrella, but she was as dry as a bone. She took the seat across from George.

“Hello Martha.”

“Hi George. How are you doing tonight?”

“I told them I wasn’t feeling good. Nobody listened, though. They never listen.”

“I’m sorry, George. You know how they can be at times.”

I listened to their conversation, watching the man pull hair from his head. I was not feeling too good myself at this point.

Then suddenly, a strong wind rattled the bus and jarred me back to my senses. Standing in the middle of the bus was the bus driver, while the bus continued to roll down the road. I looked around the divider and saw the bus driving itself.

“Well, George, we’re almost there,” the driver said. He opened the compartment above the seats and took out a black lunch box. “Here you go George. You take this. It’ll get you through your trip.” The driver handed the box to George.

“Thank you John. You’re a true friend.”

I looked around the bus knowing there must be a hidden camera somewhere. This couldn’t be for real. Then the bus stopped.

George and Martha got up and walked to the door with the driver behind them. The driver stood at the door waving as the two walked out into the darkness.

Then he looked at me, with eyes hollow in his head and a wild smirk. “Next stop, Mission Avenue.”

“Dumb and Dumber”



GOD: Hey Frank, you know all about gardens and nature — what in the world is going on down there on Earth? What in the world happened to the dandelions, violets, thistles and the stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honeybees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of color by now. All I see are patches of green.

ST. FRANCIS: It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. They are called the Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers “weeds” and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But it is so boring and it’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, bees or birds, only grubs and sod worms. It’s temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing it and poisoning any other plants that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and the warm weather probably makes the grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites very happy.

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it has grown a little, they cut it — sometimes two times a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags. GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS: No sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now let me get this straight: They fertilize it to make it grow and when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS: Yes, sir.

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS: You aren’t going to believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep the moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves become compost to enhance the soil. It’s a natural circle of life.

ST. FRANCIS: You’d better sit down, Lord. As soon as the leaves fall, the Suburbanites rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No way!! What do they do to protect the shrubs and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing the leaves away they go out and buy something called mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down the trees and grind them up to make mulch.

GOD: Enough!! I don’t want to think about this anymore. Saint Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE: “Dumb and Dumber,” Lord. It’s a real stupid movie about…….

GOD: Never mind — I think I just heard the whole story from Saint Francis!

Counting Sheep

one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty…

…89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110…

…21,499     21,500     21,501     21,502     21,503     21,504     21,505     21,506     21,507…




Gooood morning. This is WRKA Radio’s Morning Bird Buddy Tweets bringing you the best in early morning, coffee time tunes. Time to wake up and face the day. It’s 7 o’clock in the city, time for you early birds to rise and shine, polish and primp. And now, let’s…


21,528     21,529     21,530     21,531     21,532…

Weeping Over a Beer: A Lost Manuscript 2


Good news. I was able to restore my lost file of random notes (read my previous post).  After trying everything, including a couple of file recovery programs, I was unable to recover the file. It had been corrupted in some way (with Windows, you never know for sure what that means). Then I had an idea. I went to my temp files and located one dated approximately the time I lost my original file. I opened it in Word and—you guessed it—there was my original file. I had lost a couple of hours of work that I was able to recreate, but I had my complete file back.

I do save often when I’m working, but I don’t back up my files as often as I should. I learned my lesson. Whether you back up in the cloud, on an external or thumb drive, memory card, disk, whatever, do it. BACK UP at least once a week. Daily would be better. How often you back up files depends on how much work you have to back up.

Weeping Over a Beer: A Lost Manuscript

I know how Hemingway felt when Hadley (his first wife) lost a suitcase filled with his manuscripts at the Gare de Lyon as she was traveling to Geneva to meet him on that day in December 1922. The suitcase contained original and carbon copies of the early Nick Adams stories about Michigan and short stories he had been working on for months.

In “A Moveable Feast,” Hemingway describes the encounter:

“I had never seen anyone hurt by a thing other than death or unbearable suffering except Hadley when she told me about the things being gone. She had cried and cried and could not tell me. I told her that no matter what the dreadful thing was that had happened nothing could be that bad, and whatever it was, it was all right and not to worry. We could work it out. Then, finally, she told me. I was sure she could not have brought the carbons too and I hired someone to cover for me on my newspaper job. I was making good money then at journalism, and took the train for Paris. It was true alright and I remember what I did in the night after I let myself into the flat and found it was true.”

The suitcase and manuscripts were never found.

Yes, I know how Ernest must have felt. This morning at 4 a.m., I lost a Word file of “Random Notes,” which I’ve kept for many years. I tried everything possible to retrieve the file, but it’s gone.

So I did what any self-respecting author would do: I had a beer and cried. Then I wrote this post.

Sidewalk Investor: A Short Story

The old guy sat on the sidewalk, holding a small transistor radio to his ear.

“Batteries,” he said to me as I walked past him.

“What?” I asked, stopping.

“Batteries. Batteries are the future. Can’t go wrong investing in batteries.” He pointed to his transistor radio. “World runs on batteries. Everything needs batteries.”

“You got a point there,” I said to him.

“You got a cigarette for me?”

“Sorry, I don’t smoke.”

“Damned messed up world. Everybody’s done gone squeaky clean. No more real men left. Used to be everybody smoked.”


“Light bulbs,” he said. “Light bulbs are the future. Can’t see shit in the dark without them. We all need light bulbs.”

“That’s some good advice. I’ll have to remember that. Light bulbs and batteries.”

“So how about that cigarette?”

“Sorry, but I told you I don’t smoke.”

The old guy nodded his head toward the grocery store sign behind him. “Advice don’t come free these days,” he winked. “How about it? A pack of Marlboro Regulars. None of that light shit. And how about a couple of double A’s for my radio?”

Edward Hopper meets Gail Winfree

American artist  Edward Hopper (1882-1967) wrote in 1953:

“Great art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist, and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world. No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination. One of the weaknesses of much abstract painting is the attempt to substitute the inventions of the human intellect for a private imaginative conception.

“The inner life of a human being is a vast and varied realm and does not concern itself alone with stimulating arrangements of color, form and design.

“The term life used in art is something not to be held in contempt, for it implies all of existence and the province of art is to react to it and not to shun it.

Painting will have to deal more fully and less obliquely with life and nature’s phenomena before it can again become great.”

Hopper’s work inspires me. Here are two of his paintings with my commentary attached.



When I was growing up, the front porch was a meeting place of all that was good, a safe haven, a place for family and friends and the cats and dogs, and real conversations and big plans. Then, we didn’t need therapists and psychologists, we had the front porch and each other and the stars in the sky and summer nights and summer rain and an occasional storm that would remind us there is a reason we’re here.




Hopper AutomatALL-NIGHT CAFE


sitting alone

in an empty all-night cafe

a woman is thinking

about the man

who is thinking of her.

(from my book “Things I Remember”)

Snoopy’s Novel

snoobybannerSome of you might remember Snoopy sitting atop his  doghouse pounding on the typewriter keys as he begins his novel, but how many people have actually read this piece of literary genius? If you haven’t, then here is a real treat:


“It Was A Dark And Stormy Night,” Snoopy’s novel from July 12, 1965.

Part I

It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly, a pirate ship appeared on the horizon! While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.

Part II

A light snow was falling, and the little girl with the tattered shawl had not sold a violet all day. At that very moment, a young intern at City Hospital  was making an important discovery. The mysterious patient in Room 213 had finally awakened. She moaned softly.

Could it be that she was the sister of the boy in Kansas who loved the girl with the tattered shawl who was the daughter of the maid who had escaped from the pirates? The intern frowned.

“Stampede!” the foreman shouted, and forty thousand head of cattle thundered down on the tiny camp. The two men rolled on the ground grappling beneath the murderous hooves. A left and a right. A left. Another left and right. An uppercut to the jaw. The fight was over. And so the ranch was saved.

The young intern sat by himself in one corner of the coffee shop. He had learned about medicine, but more importantly, he had learned something about life.


“Finding What’s Lost” Review

I wanted to share a recent review of my novel “Finding What’s Lost.” It’s available on Amazon at

Final CoverThe Review—

As soon as I began reading “Desperation Row” this story had me captivated. I enjoyed the set up of short yet flowing chapters as each one left me wanting more. Adrian’s journeys were heartfelt and culturally adventurous as he searched for his mysterious past while simultaneously finding his future. I savored this character watching him grow from his unexpected losses gaining wisdom, gratitude, and new love. A story so alluring made it hard to put down. Gail is a marvelous storyteller.
I found The Reality of Being Lovers [my recent novel] such a kaleidoscope of characters and persona’s. Reality enter-twining with sweet reverie.
First rate read!



To learn more and to order my books, visit my Amazon author page at


My books

Things about me you’ll never read on the pages of “The New York Times”

Gail Vampire

Yes, I write. No, I don’t write vampire novels.

Okay, I’m going to open the door to all my followers on this page and reveal just who I am (or am not). Here’s a potpourri of things about me you’ll never read on the pages of “The New York Times.”

I’m a writer and I drink my coffee black.

I prefer nature to neighbors, country to city, and animals to people.

I love food and will eat most anything put in front of me. However, I do have three rules about eating. They are (1) I don’t eat anything that looks back at me when I’m eating it. (2) I don’t eat anything that moves on my plate. (3) I don’t eat anything that is slimy.

I grew up in the Southern Baptist Church. However, I don’t go along with organized religion. I consider myself a spiritual person more than a religious person. In other words, you find God in your heart, not in a building with a bunch of other people.

I don’t align myself with any political parties. I’m politically conservative. I believe in the Constitution and the principles our founding fathers gave us. Give me small government and personal freedom. I’ve never taken or asked for a handout from Uncle Sam. I can take care of myself if left alone to do so. I don’t like politics: I don’t believe or trust politicians; and I am not a politically correct person.

I dress for comfort, not to impress. Jeans and khakis, cargos preferred. I don’t wear anything that needs ironing or dry cleaning, and most of my clothes come from the thrift store. The last time I remember wearing a suit and tie was around 1988. I don’t like boxers and not fond of pajamas. There was a time when underwear was optional.

I love just about any music that was produced before 1975. After that, I’m a little more selective. I like “roots” music, old blues, country, folk, etc. I like rock music that has a dominating lyrical presence and I sometimes like to listen to classical music.

I love good movies. I prefer independent productions over big Hollywood films. I also like short films, and I’m a fan of zombie movies. My taste in films is somewhat eccentric. For example, one of my favorite movies is “The Corndog Man.” Don’t let the title fool you. This is a movie with a lot of social importance. I haven’t watched TV in almost three years.

I love photography and video. I like playing with cameras and I own around 25 different cameras and camcorders, both old and new. Mostly old, though.

I have a passion for books. Currently, I have approximately 20,000 books of fiction. That does not include poetry, my collection of classics, nonfiction, and Kindle books. More than 20,000 novels; that’s a lot of books. When hearing this, the first thing people ask is, have I read all of them? No, I haven’t. But I’m familiar with each one. My collection represents some of the finest writing (and some bad stuff thrown in for good measure) in the world from hundreds of brilliant authors from A-Z, Walter Abish to Markus Zusak to be exact. When I’m looking for inspiration, I just go to my library, and I just have to be there and do nothing and inspiration finds me. I have no favorite book and no favorite author. I have many. I am not a book collector. I am a book lover. Books are a part of me. That’s just how it is.

You won’t hear me complain. I have the companionship of a beautiful wife and plenty of cats and dogs. I have a house full of books and music, and a garden for solitude. I’ve found my call in life and it is a worthy one. I have memories and experiences that have made me wise and strong in character and I have a craziness that keeps me sane. So you won’t hear me complain. Unless, of course, I have to go shopping. I hate shopping.

That’s it for now. I will save the rest for my memoir, if I ever write it.