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Thursday, January 29, 2015

On Call Maybe

Dr. M and I crept through the condemned building with only his penlight illuminating our path. Shadows leapt around us. The incessant drip of water inside the walls begged me to let madness in. My nose was assaulted by a perfume of decay, mold, and human feces. The doctor was armed tools of the ghost hunting trade. I had only a knife. I began to question my decision making process.

Extended unemployment ran out two weeks after I got on it. For a couple of months I toughed it out; checking on updates to renewals between job searches. Eventually I gave up. Everyone said I’d find a job soon. A year to a year and a half was standard they said. Assholes.

Our footsteps echoed off broken walls, interrupted by the occasional cough. After it was abandoned this place became the refuge of the forgotten. Ranks I was destined to join when mom’s compassion ran out. Every time I attempted to ask a question Dr. M shushed me. It seemed ghosts were like fish.

Last ditch effort every day was nontraditional jobs on nonstandard internet boards. I came across a fulltime job for someone not afraid of ghosts. I made the call. Thinking anything is better than selling plasma is a trap.

We made our way into the central room. The girl’s body lay cold and still on a concrete slab in the center of the room. She was beautiful, with no apparent breath raising her chest. It was time to do the job.

They scheduled an in person right then. I got hired on the spot. I went a little wild during the interview, assuming this was a casting call for a reality show.  Dr. M took me on my first mission. My informal training on the ride amounted to basically nothing.

Dr. M raised his spectral disrupter, which looked suspiciously like a fireplace poker, over the corpse’s chest. Stabbing the body with pure iron was one of the few ways to kill a ghost. The poker drove down… The girl screamed and jerked upright. Blood poured from her mouth as she clawed futilely at the metal ending her life. Her eyes met mine, tears sliding from both sets. Her soul asked me why? Why had we killed her? What had she done to deserve this? So clean, newly homeless she had taken up the only residence she could find. A paranoid schizophrenic had ended her life by calling in a ghost sighting.
The doctor looked shaken but not horrified. The girl fell back. Retrieving his tool he wiped the blood on her clothing. When he walked toward the exit I stood in front of him.
“What the hell was that? That girl was alive, just breathing shallow.”

“That was a completed mission.” He spoke placidly, meeting my gaze. “It was a learning experience. Sometimes we get false information. Our good calls keep the world safe, our bad ones are why hunting monsters is no longer a publicized occupation.”

#shortstory #dark #horror #monster #ghoststory #writer #author

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hunting the Red Pen

I looked around the office, clearing my throat. My writing supplies went silent, not a long journey for most of them. The computer could be noisy, the rest were a quiet bunch unless I was throwing them around in a rage.
“I’m not going to lie. 2015 was a disappointing year. We didn’t really hit our goals. We could blame the Writer’s of the Future contest for eating so much time and never paying dividends. We could also blame the Writer’s Digest Prompts for distracting us. Let’s be honest though, the fault lies not in them, not in us, but in other people I will shortly blame at random. Those mentioned have actually helped improve our art and focus. So with no further ado let us discuss the real enemies and how we will deal with them. We now have a higher purpose, that’s right, revenge.
“I did not find a job that supported my writing. Laptop, this is where you come in. I will be throwing you through the front window of all the businesses which rejected me or did not respond. You tend to run hot so I would appreciate you setting those buildings on fire.
“So in all the harassing of the artist I did not finish the year of comic stories. Stapler, we’re going to blame him entirely instead of taking any. You and I are going to pierce his forehead a couple of times.
“We finished the edits on the novel but due to rejections from agents and publishers we had to self publish it again. Pens, I am going to poke holes in you and send one of you with a page of the manuscript to each person that rejected in hopes you will leak on them.
“I didn’t get in many artists dates. That is due to the enemy in our midst, books. We will have a Bradbury inspired BBQ after the speech to fix that.
“When it comes to procrastinating, well I still do it. I think we all know who is to blame. The internet. Three hole punch, so you have a useful purpose this decade once laptop has done its work in the name of the cause I will use you to beat it to death.
“There is some good news. I did self publish the two short story books, and two additional novels. Fingers crossed for sales.
“I stopped fearing success and started dreading obscurity, so that’s progress.
“We stuck to our goal of making more and deeper comments on the forum. We’ll count that as a win and ignore how we alienated everyone and not discuss the suicide. Some people are too sensitive.
“Lastly, I got more political on social media and wow did the followers come in. Who knew so many porn sites and dating services used twitter?

“Anyway, those are all the good points. Now let’s get to bloody revenge for everything that went wrong. We all know who is to blame, everyone but me.”

#shortstory #comedy #author #writer

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Authoring Utopia

I don't often quote the prompt I am pulling from but this one requires a little explanation because it is so far off the letter of the prompt and done speech style so kind of surrealistic if you don't understand this is intended as a state of the union address, kind of. So the prompt this week is that after a tough year where writing goals were not met and other challenges arose the office supplies are not happy, you decide to rally them by delivering a state of the union address, and deliver it. This is so far off but my twisted mind went here. I will be writing something a bit more light hearted that fits into that prompt better and posting it soon, but please enjoy this from the dark side of my mind for now.

*pause for applause
*wait for national feed to go dark
*turn left to single functioning camera
“My fellow elite, the first year of my reign has not gone as expected. We had high hopes when we pooled our funds to buy this office. Even the magnificent glory of our shared intellect has not brought the change we hoped at the speed we desired. Let me begin by addressing the challenges we have seen.
“Readership is at an all time low. Respect for intellectuals and forward thinkers has risen but not by as much as we hoped. Our attempts to rewrite the constitution to encourage a peaceful state in the hands of those who pay attention have been thwarted at every turn by both Democrats and Republicans. I won’t even get started on the resistance we have encountered from the tobacco lobby who believe paper should be used for more than the creation of books, art, and scientific documents. Much less the pharmaceutical companies who dull the minds we are trying to enhance with their endless supply of non-curative prescription medications.
“We have faced challenges. We will continue to fight an uphill battle. It is a well known, to us anyway, fact that any egalitarian society will be born of struggle. A struggle with both those we wish to enhance as well as those left in the cold whose backs the empowered echelon rides upon. I assure you however, we will overcome all adversity. Another lesson we have learned from the greatest regimes in history is well intuited but little understood. When any group of oppressed people seize power they must oppress the people most directly opposed to them if they wish to maintain the new status quo.
*pause for beginning of message to sink in
*continue in slightly raised voice
*make tone and hand gestures more emphatic
“This is how we will proceed. Our contacts in the film and game rating industries will rapidly ramp up their guidelines. Disheartened by their inability to release any media that is fit for families or children the entertainment industry will turn to backing books. Our readership will increase. I ask that each of us put fifty percent of our earnings aside.
“With that money we will fund our own candidates within whichever party has the highest victory rate in any district. Within two years we will control the senate, and by the middle of my second term the house as well. Those are long term goals, but we must remember we are fighting a war of attrition, for the sake of our children. There is no quick fix easy answer. We must be dedicated to our cause.
“Our other objectives may have to wait but I believe by the end of this term we will see groundbreaking on the ‘special schools’ for those with lower IQs. That will be the stepping stone that eventually allows us to realize all of our goals.

“Thank you for your continued support, Athena bless you all, goodnight.

#shortstory #freedom #politicalcommentary #socialcommentary

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Countdown Deal

New Kindle countdown deal starting at midnight in honor of my sister's birthday. Why then? Because getting a little sister is about as dark as the book. Don't tell her I said that. Runs until the 23rd and thanks to the new VAT inclusive prices is in the UK too!

#novel #author #shamelessselfpromotion

Oh Captain My Captain

And now for one that will probably upset some people but at the end of the day I gotta be me. I have been thinking for a long time on how to do this tribute and stay true to what I feel. More importantly to express how it changed the way I feel. Please forgive me, I am speaking of a great man but wow are my emotions raw after all of these tonight.

Oh Captain My Captain

You were in my life but I was not in yours. Not beyond that basic connection we all share anyway. Why has it taken me so long to speak to you, to speak of you? Because you were one of my heroes. You were one of the giants treading the world with an I don’t give a shit attitude and a devil may care smile. Then you did the thing I have never been able to forgive. You made yourself into a coward when you had it all.
No matter how unfair it is that stigma will taint my memory of you. My father taught me that suicide is the coward’s way out. Every religion tells me it is the one unforgivable sin. I know I overstate but most of them say it at least conditionally. That was who you became to me. You were a giant and became your own unruly David. How could you do that to yourself? You had so much to live for. How could you do that to us? You brought us so much joy and now we had to mourn you. How the hell could you do that to me? I needed men like you in the world.
A quirky entertainer. An actor who openly gamed? I don’t mean played video games, now every actor does that but you were the first big name to admit he table topped! You gave me hope for the world, for humanity, for everyone who was different. Then you took it away in a moment of shameful weakness. I will never forgive you. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe I don’t need to.
I don’t understand your battles. I know, and looking back I see how much pain there was inside. A desperate man battling the same fights we all must endure. How much harder was it for you with such a sensitive soul? How heavy did it weigh on you that we all looked to you for a laugh, to help us escape our every day pains when all you wanted to do was heal yourself? You tried, but still you were our golden calf, our doorway to a different place. I know you tried and I wonder if maybe we had just let you if things could have been different.
You gave us so much and we could not even give you privacy. You overcame your addictions, more than once, and yet you tried to stay healthy. How hard was it for you when you were warring with the feelings that finally overtook you and we splashed it on the internet and ate it up. In the middle of your struggle you had to pause and reassure us that you had not started using again. Time you could have been using to heal and we just weighed you down.
I cannot forgive the act but I can focus on your legacy. Nobody can replace you but I can live my life to bring entertainment to others as you did. I hope that is a fitting tribute. I hope that can help make those religions wrong and let you rest in peace. I hope you can forgive yourself.
I hope because it is all I have and there is less of it in the world without you. Thank you for everything you gave us.


One Fan

#author #writer #socialcommentary #religion #shortstory

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Now The Letter

So no editing on this one either. I'm becoming a masochist with writing these damn things. I hate posting real shit when it's not an insane socio-political rant. But I actually did the prompt. Have fun with it, I guess.

Dear Granddad,

What I remember most is the fishing. At your funeral I remember the phrase, we don’t miss the years we miss the minutes. I remember thinking how catchy that bullshit was but I still miss you every day. I still hated the fishing though. Up before the sun because that was when the worms woke up. You told me that, remember? Then we went down to a river and stood in cold water. I never caught a damn thing. All I wanted to do was talk to you because I loved you but I had to stand there and be quiet to not scare off the fish. Later I decided you wanted to spend time with me when I was quiet since that was rare. Later still I realized you were teaching me patience and the value of quiet time with your loved ones. You taught me a lot and I didn’t even realize it.
I don’t want to tell you my life, you know it. You know I am okay because you made sure I would be. As one of the two oldest grandkids I was more like your child than grandchild. For a long time I envied that but now I know the rest of them envy the strong connection I had with you.
I want to say two things.
Thank you for being there. When I tried that stupid door to door sales job and you let me come and do the pitch for you even though I wasn’t really talking to you then. That you didn’t think you needed it but you wanted to buy it to help me out meant the world to me. That you always knew I was busy and asked about me even when that wasn’t why I didn’t come by… You were a better man than I can hope to be. Your faith in me kept, hell keeps me going. Thank you for everything.
The second is I’m sorry. The years I stayed away because in the middle of my parent’s divorce grandma said something nasty about my father. She was defending her daughter but I didn’t see that. I know you didn’t like my dad but I also know you understand I love him. That was part of who you were. I’m sorry I let my petty anger rob me of years with both of you. The year before you died when you hurt yourself you talked to me more deeply and openly than you ever had. Even when you didn’t know who I was you were there for me. I’m sorry I took so much of that away from us.
Mostly I’m sorry about the fishing. I had this plan to get two licenses and borrow some gear. I planned to do it the next summer. I wanted that time with you and to give you the gift of memory. Then you died and I’m sorry I didn’t do it the year before.

I love you always.

#author #writer #shortstory #love #nonfiction #aboutme

Two Great Men

So the prompt this week is to write a letter to someone who was in my life and is now gone. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of letters to dead people. I'm going to do it and I'll post that soon.

It got me thinking though. I have had this idea for a long time about a nonfiction book called - Lessons on Being a Man: Shit I Learned from My Dad. It also got me thinking about my great grandfather. So I sat down and I wrote one of the stories/lessons/chapters. It is way too long for the prompt but I am still proud of it.

I'm posting it here and I will tell you it is raw and unedited. There may be random bits of conversations with people on the internet in it. I don't apologize for that. This opened some old wounds and I can't read through it again right now. I will edit later. This is also my first venture into nonfiction that isn't an angry political rant. So, I hope you enjoy.

Most of the lessons I learned about how to be a man in a culture and generation where most males are little boys in grown men’s bodies came from father. I was lucky though, in that I did not lack for strong male role models. I may talk about the others later, my uncle Victor, my maternal grandfather Dale, my paternal grandmother’s husband Ernie. They all had an impact on who I became. If there is one man who can be given almost as much credit as my father it is my great grandfather Victor. Yes, two Victors, one named for the other. This is a story of a lesson I learned from my father because of grampa Victor. We still love you and miss you, your legacy lives on through those of us you touched.
A little background on grampa Victor, a little more on my father, and how the two related. My great grandfather was raised in those times when you did for yourself and yours. He was a deeply religious man, brutally intelligent, and softly stubborn. He had a way of relating to people, of imparting wisdom to them so they were steered in the direction of grandad’s thoughts. They knew it was happening but he never took their choice away, he just taught them lessons and they knew in their heart they had been touched by a shaman. Everybody loved him because that was just who he was. This I perhaps best illustrated by what the priest, a man much younger than him who was also his friend, said about him at his funeral. I will never forget these words.
“We are all sad that Victor is gone, but through our faith in eternal life we know he is not really gone. We know he is in heaven, sitting next to God and looking down at all of us, all of humanity. He sees it all then looks at God and says, ‘So this is what I think you did wrong.’”
The idea that a priest could envision my great grandfather gently correcting God without being cast down and smote was a powerful one that never left me. I did not completely understand why it was so powerful then, I just understood that it made me smile in the middle of my grief, but I get it now. That is in many ways the man he was.
When grampa Victor met my great grandmother Mary he was on his way to seminary and she had a boyfriend. No, I’m not kidding. He was ready to graduate and head straight off to priest school, and he would have been an amazing holy man. That was his dedication to the church. Then he saw this young woman and fell in love. Anyone who says love at first sight doesn’t happen never met them, because they lasted, her longer than him which surprised us all. So he saw this woman that God had put in his path and abandoned his dreams of being a priest to court her because he knew that was what he was supposed to do. I will note that when his oldest daughter met her future husband she was on a date with his friend and went out with my grampa Dale because she liked how he smelled. I guess that whole thing may be a tradition. Anyway, grampa Victor courted this woman, she gave up her boyfriend and went on to happily ever after. He never regretted it but his faith stayed strong. The main reason I went through my Confirmation (a Catholic sacrament in your teens or twenties where you reaffirm your baptism, accept and are accepted by the church and then never return to mass except on holidays or if you have young children) was because I knew his deep love of the church and that he would want me to do so.
So they had children. One of them ended up with MS in the days before it was manageable. She ended up bed ridden, unable to communicate, her husband and children in another state while she was being cared for by her parents who were by then on social security. She is the main reason we thing gramma Mary survived him for so long, because she had a daughter to care for. That was also who they were. Oh I have so many stories about my great grandmother in her later life, including when she got dementia and used to try to call Victor to come pick her up because she wanted to go home. This isn’t about that though. Mostly I just wanted to say they had kids.
Grampa Victor never gave up his ideas of service and teaching. So he wasn’t a priest but he could still be a scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts. So he did that, even after his son was out of it and I believe before he was in it. So one of the things the scouts do is camp. Most of the time, outside of summer camp and winter camp this is done on public camping grounds.
Now my great grandparents happened to own a piece of property out of the city that had a cabin on it with cold running water and no electricity. It had a couple of wood stoves and a propane model as well. However the cabin was not used for those excursions but the property was. He took his troop up there and they camped. It is worth noting this land was pretty big so they could go out into the woods where nobody could even see the cabin.
On these trips they cooked together but they had a tradition. Grampa Victor and the other troop leaders would pull over at a five and dime on the way up. He would line them up outside and tell them, ‘We’re going inside. Each of gets to buy two candy bars that you can have whenever you want this weekend.’ Then he took them inside and they bought their candy. Now I’m not sure if everyone had money from their parents and this was arranged in advance, or if he gave them all money, or if he just made up the difference for those who did not have enough. What I know is this was the tradition and each boy came out with two bars. They belonged to him and he could have them whenever he wanted during the weekend. I know they also did the traditional stuff like roasting marshmallows, smores, and tinfoil baked cinnamon apples. So it wasn’t the only sugar during the weekend but it was some of the stuff they could have on their own and under their control.
So one day there is this new boy in the troop. His family has a lot of money and he is, to say it politely, a bit spoiled. The troop makes their stop, gets their instructions and go to town. This boy comes out with not two candy bars but a bag full of them. Grampa informs him that’s more than two and the boy is unapologetic in the extreme. So grampa takes his bag, dumps it out, I am assuming on the hood of his vehicle but it might have been a backpack. He says something about how much candy is there. This is greeted with more agreement from the boy. Grampa Victor says, “Pick your three candy bars.” The new kid complies, apparently thinking he’s getting three and even having to give up so much he still has a better deal than the other boys, and well it’s just money after all. So he greedily chooses three and is smiling at getting away with something. Then grampa pulls the other boys over and puts them in a line. He tells them to pick a candy bar and thank the new boy. He does this with the entire troop until each boy has three and they go about their weekend. Which is a story that told me he was a great and amazing man committed to fairness and order and the spirit of the rules but not the letter, he wasn’t a man to waste things since he lived through the Great Depression after all. Thinking on it though I realize that while he was completely American my grampa Victor was also a bit of a communist and thus for his time a rabble-rouser. He’s still one of my idols. I stuck through boy scouts, even when I wanted to quit and I made Eagle for him. When I received it my speech mostly consisted of thanking him and there was not a dry eye in the house, most especially mine. I still missed him than and still miss him now.
So, anyway. When my mom and dad got married everyone in her family hated him. There were three exceptions in the blood relations. My uncle Victor who was friends with my father either from before they started dating or during that time, I am still not sure which, grampa Victor and gramma Mary. When the rest of the family got all up in arms and said this marriage couldn’t happen grampa Victor, the undeniable patriarch of the clan, stared them down and told them all to shut up. I’m not sure if he used those words but my understanding is he was much harsher than his normal persona. He told them all that my mother loved my father and it was none of their business and welcomed my father into the family. Through their marriage the others, except for my mother’s parents and a couple of spoiled rotten apples, grew to accept my father. Those three exceptions were special though, they were closer to him than anyone. In a lot of ways they were closer to him than his own family.
My father’s dad committed suicide when dad was still youngish. That’s the reason that even though he was a marine he did not go to Vietnam and did not die on Hamburger Hill. Grandad Elliott was also an alcoholic and an abusive father. Dad loved him but there were scars. He never accepted the man who married his mother as a father figure so I guess he craved one. Grampa Victor became that. He was a friend and mentor to my father. I saw it, and it was a special relationship. My dad loved that man with all his heart and it was beautiful.
I was a freshman in high school when grampa Victor died. It took no less than four massive heart attacks to kill him. He survived throat cancer and some other really bad shit before then, but his heart gave out. Now understand when I say massive that is how the doctors explained it to us. Heart attacks so large that they normally burst or collapsed the heart in the chest. That’s what I was told. Some of that is probably shock value, we doctors are awesome but we couldn’t save him and your grandfather was an amazing strong man. Not important. Sometimes even in reality the story and the image are more important than the truth.
So he had three of them at home. The ambulance was called and he was rushed to the hospital. He survived those three and was in the bed unconscious. No shitting, the man was clinging to life. Some of my family was there. After she found someone to sit with her daughter, you remember the one with MS who couldn’t move or talk? She got a ride to the hospital, or maybe she drove but I think she had stopped driving by then.
So gramma Mary, a powerhouse of a woman who before she started to shrink with age still never topped out above five feet, or maybe five foot two, marched into that hospital like the Germans invading Russia. She wasn’t taking prisoners, she wasn’t to be denied, and her march was just as doomed. I can only imagine how scared she was, how angry she must have been. I’m sure she was upset with her husband for scaring her and God for allowing it but she had business to do and love in her heart to levels that I wish more people had. Maybe she wasn’t angry with either of them but I know I would have been.
So she strides into the room, and I have confirmation on this because multiple family members were there. She stands up straight and looks at her unconscious husband and puts on her sternest voice. She speaks to him in a way nobody really dared, ever, and especially not then. This is what she says to the love her life, the man she would have certainly followed into the ground within six months if she didn’t still have work to do, her fucking soul mate. She says,
“Victor! Enough playing around, it’s time to wake up and go home.”
No shit? Go gramma you pint sized pitbull of a woman. We love and miss you too. Like I said, nobody talked to grampa Victor like that. She had special privileges though. So she says this and he opens his eyes. He smiles at her. He tells her he loves her, still not sure I believe he spoke but again, sometimes the story of our love is more important than the truth. He then proceeds to close his eyes, have another massive heart attack, and dies.
He held on just long enough to say goodbye to his wife. That’s the man he was. He loved his God, he loved his community, he loved service, he loved fairness, and he loved his family. Above it all he loved his wife, the woman he gave up the idea of being a priest for. Of them all she was, in spite of being the kindest most sincere and loving woman I have met in my life, she was kind of the scariest. So I guess I might have held on to say goodbye too. If he hadn’t she’d probably be kicking his ass and denying him sex in heaven to this day.
So there are a lot of lessons in being a man in those words, but that isn’t what this is about. I’ll let you dig those ones out yourself. I’ve left you some signposts. This is about my dad and how he taught me to be a man in many ways without even trying. I have mentioned he loved my great grandfather but that, even in finding your own heroes when you need them most, is not the point of this lesson.
When grampa Victor died my mother and sister were on a camping trip with the Girl Scouts. Yes, we all took our turns in them. It was cheap and important to my family. So it was just me and my dad and my brother, who was still in a carseat as I remember but I could be wrong, at home. We get the call, Victor’s in the hospital, multiple coronary events. Okay, they used the term I used earlier but I’m repeating a lot of words in this story already. My dad tries to call the campground where my mom and sister are. They aren’t near the phone so they don’t answer of course but they are supposed to call back. Somebody is taking them a message.
As soon as he makes the call, like less than fifteen minutes later, we get the next call. Grampa Victor is dead. I pass this news along to my father. He bolts up and grabs my brother. I’m old enough to stay home but he has to get to the camp to tell my mother in person and make sure they get home okay. Dad wasn’t the only one who loved grampa Victor with all of his heart. Everyone did, and as his oldest grandchild my mother and him had a very strong connection. It didn’t hurt that she went over and helped with my great aunt all of the time either. My dad new the affect this news was going to have on my mother. So I guess there is a lesson there, sometimes a man has to do what needs doing and sometimes he has to do it alone, but it’s still not the point.
So off they go. I’m alone, one of my heroes is dead, one of my giants is gone. He was old but I never would have expected it to happen. I’m trying to watch TV but I just don’t care. I’m trying to read but I just don’t care. Nothing is holding my interest because grampa Victor is dead. I’m holding it together pretty well though. I’m a little man and some tears slip out but not many.
Now my dad drives fast normally and like a demon is after him when there is an emergency he is dealing with. There’s a story about that somewhere else here. But this camp was hours away. My mother calls while I’m numb to the world. She got the message and dad hasn’t got there yet. So I tell her dad is on the way and I start to choke up. She coaxes out of me the news. I told my mother over the phone that the person everyone in the family loved, even the ones who hated each other is gone. Then I broke down and shed tears to rival the floods that would occur if the world’s biggest dam broke.
So life went on. I don’t remember much after that except hating crying and my mom telling me it was okay. My father had told me men didn’t cry. This is something he later told me was, “complete bullshit and I’m sorry I taught you that both in my words and how I was.” Even he never told me to stop it. If grampa Victor didn’t deserve some manly tears then nobody did. Still, he held it all in. He was sad, he was angry, but he didn’t cry. Until he did.
At the funeral my dad lost his composure. He cried, silently, in the pew next to me. He hated doing it. I saw him get angry. When I told him it was okay to cry for this he told me it wasn’t, that it was okay for me but he didn’t cry. His eyes told me a different story. His eyes spoke of love, respect, and loss. His actions taught me it was okay to feel, even the bad stuff.
So there is a basic lesson here. The lesson that sometimes men cry. That it is okay to be vulnerable and to love. That’s the easy lesson though, and we all know it even if we believe and/or espouse something different. It is the lesson I took away then, in my mind. Like many of the things my dad taught me there is something deeper that I took away in my heart. The lesson I learned but didn’t understand then but I do now.
That lesson is this. There is always an exception. No matter how deep your conviction, how hard and fast the rule, how steadfastly you hold the belief there is always an exception. In my father’s mind men did not cry, they barely showed emotion. Now I admit I have seen him cry a few times, but not many, since then, but that was the second and the first one was very different and taught me a different lesson. That was the first time I saw him cry that I could remember at the time. He very much believed in that rule about men not doing it. However, he broke it for my great grandfather. He broke it for a man he was not related to by blood but attached to in every other way. There is always a time to bend and break rules, even your own. The important thing is knowing which ones need to be bent, which ones need to be broken, and when it is time to do so. He taught me that a man has to know these things, even if he makes them up on the fly. That some things and some people are worth denying yourself, denying the world, and even looking bad for. I guess that’s a couple of lessons really, but it’s all rolled up into one.

As a man, learn to keep your pride but when it is right defy your ego, even if it makes you look weak to yourself or others. You have to be strong enough to know when those opinions don’t matter. You have to be proud enough to know when it is okay to step outside of your own self definition.

#nonfiction #aboutme #novel #socialcommentary #thoughts #writer #nonfiction

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Taste of Diamond Dust

My fingertips slid over the wrinkled, misspelled note as riding my back pocket. It felt like the skin of a sacrifice and that was right because we were on our way to meet our destiny. In a short time that paper had become old friend and constant tormentor.
It had arrived to rest accusingly upon my windshield. The message was simple. Some sociopath had liberated my most valuable possession. If I wanted to see the thing I cared most about again I was to meet this home grown terrorist at the baseball field of the local high school that evening and bring my glove. I had never played baseball and not owned a glove since I was about nine. So amongst my other chores in the hours between I picked one up from the local sporting goods store.
Memories flooded over me like a river of the damned. Memories of my quiet, well behaved boy. His silent smile as I handed him the newest video game that would occupy him for days or weeks. The shy way he cast down his eyes when I provided him with a new toy. The most recent a paintball gun which my wife insisted he, at seven, was too young for. The most common image was his angelic face in the glow of his computer. Often seen across the insurmountable distance of the dining room as he tapped away at his homework assignments while I watched the stock report.
What would I do if he never came home? I had already missed almost every chance I had to tell him I loved him. He knew it though. Right?
Soon I stood in shadows near the bleachers. The smells of fresh cut grass and impending rain filled my nose. I watched the monster who would do this. He had a scruffy beard and wore a padded green jacket. He wore something on his head, probably a baseball cap but my mind insisted was a turban.
The sun slid below the horizon, the field’s lights came on with the thwack buzz only heard in sports venues and televised nighttime beach landings. What I saw chilled me.
On the far side of the mound was my son. The militant lobbed the ball. My son caught it with tinkling laughter that echoed the falling shards of my broken heart. Matthew never expressed such unabashed joy at my gifts.
I stared at the glove and smiled through tears. I could spend some time with my son this way. Maybe the boy could even teach me to throw. I would do anything to hear that innocent laugh and know I was the cause.

My tear stained vision returned to the two of them. I had time to realize what a wonderful gift this unkempt, uneducated stranger had given me. Then the police swarmed the field and hauled him off to jail. I collected my son with a lightened heart, knowing that bastard was going away for a long time.

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