Monthly Archives: November 2014

Green River Road – 1724

Green River Road

II   Green River Road – 1708

III   Green River Road – The Maldonados

IV  Green River Road – 1716

V   Green River Road – Walker

As the door swings open exposing the sunlight outside, he runs over the threshold ignoring the bright light and that feeling that shoots through his body as he crosses. He is outside again, heart pounding in his chest, doing his best to catch his breathe, bent at the waist with his hands on his knees he tries to gather his thoughts.

‘What the hell just happened?’

As he tries to get his mind and body under control again, it suddenly dawns on him that he is outside and can just run away from this insanity.

“YOU MUST FIND THE ANSWER, YOU MUST HELP THESE PEOPLE”.

He hears the voice again, but he is not inside any more, he can’t be locked in, he is free. He takes off running toward the street and heads back the direction that he originally came from because God only knows what might be in the other direction!

He runs as fast as his legs will let him, not looking in any direction but ahead of him, focusing on the asphalt road beneath his feet, he just runs. What seems like an eternity has passed now since he started running, his lungs are on fire, breaths are very hard to come by at this point, his legs feel like they weigh 100 pounds each, he stops and falls to his knees.

‘Why me? What did I do?’ Thoughts were racing through his head, trying to figure this all out. ‘Oh well, at least I am out of there now, can just pretend like it never happened, no one needs to know, they’ll all think I was crazy if I told them anyway.’ He looks up to see where he was, looks over to the right at the curb to see the numbers 1 7 0 8 painted on them.

‘No Freaking Way! That was the first house I came to’

He gets up and runs some more, it is amazing what the human body can do out of fear. He runs again until he cannot go another step, looks over and sees the numbers 1 7 0 8 on the curb again. Several more times he tries to run in that direction, and every time he stops, he is at the same place. Now what? He decides to turn and try to run the other way, past all these ruined houses, they have to end at some point.

He runs again, not knowing how much more his body can take, stopping and falling down on the street, he rolls over on his back and stares into a cloudless gray sky, tears rolling down his cheeks, mostly from exhaustion. He is not sure how long he laid there, seemed like hours. He sits up and looks over at the curb and sees the numbers 1 7 2 4.

“YOU MUST FIND THE ANSWER, YOU MUST HELP THESE PEOPLE”.

One more try, gotta keep running. Finding an inner strength that he never knew was there, he trudges along the road for as long as his weary legs will carry him and stops, not sure whether or not he wants to look to see where he is, but knowing that he will eventually need to look, he glances at the curb

1 7 2 4

‘What the hell is going on?”

“YOU MUST FIND THE ANSWER, YOU MUST HELP THESE PEOPLE”.

He gathers himself together as best he can and makes toward the walk leading up to this ruined house, here we go again . . . .


Green River Road – Walker

Green River Road

II   Green River Road – 1708

III   Green River Road – The Maldonados

IV  Green River Road – 1716

As he made his way through the house, each room seemingly more extravagant than the one before, he continued to hear names. A never ending list of names, but none of them he recognized

  • Louise Jones
  • Cheryl Lewis
  • Julia Martinez
  • Julie Clark
  • Patrick Howard
  • Amanda Gray
  • Fred Perry
  • Lois Garcia
  • Angela Perez
  • Stephen Baker

The voice seemed to get louder as his proximity to any seemingly expensive item in the house lessened. The more glamorous the item, the louder the voice. It didn’t make any sense. None of the names were the same, or had the same last name so he doubted if they were related somehow, and there was no way that this many people could have lived in this house, no matter how big it was.

He came to a staircase that filled his entire arc of view, no matter which way he turned. Seemed to go on forever before he came to a landing, with two more stair cases off of the landing, one to the left and one to the right. Before turning to either staircase, he noticed straight ahead of him, a bunch of pictures on the wall. Walking toward them he could see that they were old black and white pictures of stores, each store with a large “W” over the entrance.

Walker’s Department Stores, hundreds of them displayed across the expanse of the landing. Jack Walker was the name he heard when he first came in the house, did this guy own all these stores? That would explain his current prodigious surroundings. One guy lived in this huge house? What a waste he thought as he continued his tour of the upstairs, having chosen the left stair case first.

Room after room of immaculate items on display, as if money was no object and was the only focus in this person’s life. ‘This is nuts’ he thought as he opened and checked each room. As he walks through he remembers that his mom told him that she used to work at one of these stores, said it was the worst job she ever had. Said that they treated their employees like insignificant chattel.

Now going up the stair case to the right of the pictures, he can hear that low moaning again, similar to what he heard in the first house. But this time it is louder and seems to be coming from more than one room. As he checks each room, the low rumbling gets louder and louder until he comes to the last two rooms at the end of the hall.

He reaches hesitantly for the door on the right. . . locked. But noise is definitely coming from inside.

“YOU MUST FIND THE ANSWER, YOU MUST HELP THESE PEOPLE”.

Again he hears the voice in his head, a deeper male’s voice telling him that he has to find the answers. But all he has found so far is more questions. The door at the end of the hall beckons him, he can hear noises from in there as well, and they seem to be stronger, Hesitantly he reaches for the door knob.

As the coldness of the steel handle greets his sweaty palm, a pain shoots through his body like nothing he has felt before. Trying to let go of the handle, he is unable to break free. It is like his hand is stuck to the doorknob like a magnet to a piece of steel. A current pulses through him, his body shaking, he tries to pull away.

Suddenly something very big slams into the door from the other side, knocking him away from the door and to the hallway floor. He lays there panting, wishing for his body to listen to his frightened thoughts and get up and run the hell away from there, but he can’t seem to move. The door reverberates with each pounding it is taking from whatever it is on the other side. Slowly he regains his senses and sits up.

“YOU MUST FIND THE ANSWER, YOU MUST HELP THESE PEOPLE”.

‘Screw this!’ he thought, ‘I ain’t helping no one!’ His only thought right now was getting out of this house. He got to his feet and slowly turned around, remembering his vision was severely limited, and made his way down the hallway to the staircase, He can still here something blasting away at that door at the end of the hallway, stumbling down the stairs, holding himself up by the railing, he makes it to the landing.

The sound of glass breaking startles him, a quick glance to the right and he see the pictures of the stores are falling off the wall and their frames are shattering on the ground at his feet. Stepping across the bent frames and glass, he makes his way down the main staircase and to the front door.

“YOU MUST FIND THE ANSWER, YOU MUST HELP THESE PEOPLE”.

He tries to pull the doors open but they are locked. Now what?! The voice is getting louder in his head

“YOU MUST FIND THE ANSWER, YOU MUST HELP THESE PEOPLE”.

‘Why me? Why do I have to help anyone? I don’t even know who these people are let alone what I am supposed to help them with? Let them help themselves and leave me out of it!!’

“YOU MUST FIND THE ANSWER, YOU MUST HELP THESE PEOPLE”.

Voice is getting louder, forcing him to try to cover his ears, but that just seems to keep the voice inside his head

“YOU MUST FIND THE ANSWER, YOU MUST HELP THESE PEOPLE”.

‘FINE! I’ll help them, but someone needs to tell me what to do!!!’

. . . . and the front door swings open.


Green River Road – 1716

Green River Road

II   Green River Road – 1708

III   Green River Road – The Maldonados

While standing in the street, he can see everything, there is no half-circle of life that he saw at the first house. He looks up and down the dead street, nothing has changed as far as he can tell. He looks at the ruins that were once 1716 Green River Road and crosses over the sidewalk, to the path toward the house. As soon as he crosses that line, the line where the sidewalk ends, the arc returns again. Everything within a small radius radiates colors and life that seemingly is no longer there, but he sees it.

Walking toward the house he sees no toys or any sign of what could be construed as the yard of a family like before. Instead he sees an immaculately groomed lawn, must have been done professionally. He has never seen grass so rich and full, seemed that every blade was exactly the same height as the next. And soft, he wanted to take his shoes off and run through it, but thought better of it.

The walkway was made of an elaborate set of well kept stones, each seeming to fit perfectly with the next, shapes of triangles, squares, rectangles all laid in a mosaic pattern that was stunning to look at, let alone walk on. He came upon a fountain that seemed to be made of gold, surely it was just painted to look like it, no way it was real gold. As he passed the fountain he started to hear another voice, it seemed to be listing off something,  but he could not understand what it was saying.

After a quick tour of the yard he headed back to the path and to the front door. Marble columns greeted him as he approached the house, as smooth as a calm pond on a windless summer morning. Looking down he saw a very large “W” of what looked like black granite that had been pressed into the white marble entry way that matched the columns that he had passed. Rose bushes surrounded the entrance, Red, Yellow, Pink, he had never seen such magnificence before.

The voice kept a constant flow of. . . names? Was it names that he was hearing? He could not tell as it still was not very clear. Walking to the front doors, he pushed them open and again, just like in the last house, a blinding white light startles him, this time only saying one name:

JACK WALKER

‘Well that explains the “W”‘ he thinks to himself. Looking around in his semi-circle of vision, it seems that the inside of the house was even more breathtaking than the outside. It also seems as if the arc was smaller than it was at the first house. Maybe he was imagining it, heck maybe he was imagining ALL of this.

Looking up he sees the biggest chandelier that he has ever seen. As he stares at its magnificence, the voice is getting clearer. He can tell that it is definitely saying names

    • Darin Morrison
    • Yvette Jacobs
    • Suzanne Mccarthy
    • Wilfred Powers
    • Clark Day
    • Wendell Harrison
    • Aubrey Jordan
    • Sherri Vaughn
    • Andrea Brady

Did all these people live here? Was that possible? The voice just kept saying more and more names. It didn’t make sense. 

  • Brandon Stevens
  • Elsie Simmons
  • Maryann Gross
  • Shelia Bass
  • Lyle West
  • Leonard Morris
  • Jerry Caldwell
  • Tony Thornton
  • Hilda Waters
  • Eleanor Gordon

How was he supposed to help all these people? He had to get away from this voice, this list of names just kept growing, how can he get it to stop? This doesn’t make sense. As he moved away from the chandelier, the voice became faint but still could be heard.

He made his way deeper into the house. . . . .


Green River Road – Maldonados

https://joatmon14.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/green-river-road/

https://joatmon14.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/green-river-road-1708/

As he walks down the hall, he looks into each of the rooms to see what they are. First room on the left looks like the family room. He walks in and sees an older TV sitting on what looks like a door lying across two barrels. An old antenna sits on top of the TV, something he has never actually seen being used, but has heard about them. ‘Why wouldn’t they just have cable or satellite like everyone else?’ he wonders.

A couch sets across from the TV, battered and worn. Old blankets thrown over it. Lifting one of the blankets he can see that the cushions are badly stained and ripped, pale yellow color. No wonder they covered it up. End tables with lamps bump up against each end of the couch, one with no lamp shade. A blanket hangs over the window where curtains should be.

A door in the back of the room leads into the kitchen. The smell is the first thing that gets his attention, floors are blackened with scuff marks from years of neglect. A table that looks big enough to seat six is positioned in one of the corners of the room, underneath a web infested chandelier that is missing five of the six light bulbs that it can hold. Only one chair adjourns the table which is covered in old clothes, newspapers and piles of unopened mail. Kitchen sink piled high with dirty dishes that look days, maybe weeks old. Seeing the refrigerator he thinks better of opening it, based on what he has seen so far, that cannot be a good sight inside.

Kitchen leads back out into the main hallway, right at the foot of a stair case. A door directly across from the stairs is closed. He tries the doorknob, turning it, feeling like it is going to come off in his hand, he pushes the door open and reaches around for a light switch. It is a bathroom and based on the smell that rushes toward him, one that is not very clean. He quickly shuts the door with no desire to see what was inside, turns and looks at the stairs.

Within his view, he cannot yet see the top of the stairs, but decides to check out what had been up there. As he slowly climbs the stairs, each step letting out a loud creek as he puts his weight onto it, he is starting to hear voices from the darkness that is beyond his sight. Very faint, but definitely voices. Each step up brings another step into view, he finally sees the top of the stairs.

The section of the hallway at the top of the stairs has a doorway on each side, turning to the door on the left, he reaches to touch it. As he does, he gets the definite feeling that there is someone else with him, a presence of sorts. Very unnerving. Pushing the door open he steps into the door way, and gets the same feeling he got when he was coming through the front door.

A voice is saying “Tamara Maldanado” over and over. He hears it as long as he is standing in the door way. He walks into the room to see that it appears to be a young girls bedroom, painted pink, dolls and pieces of board games spread out all over the floor as far as he could see. Unmade bed in the middle of the room, a pillow with no pillow case, sheets hanging off onto the floor. Shaking his head in shock and disgust, he goes back out in the hallway.

For each bedroom that he comes to, he gets the same feeling as he enters each room. The next room apparently belonged to Arturo Maldonado, and was in no better shape than Tamara’s, in fact it might have been worse. The master bedroom, where according to the voice Eduardo and Eileen stayed was basically empty, just an oversize mattress in one of the corners and piles of clothes all around the room. Dust covered wooden floors exposing his foot prints as he traverses across.

Going back out into the hallway, he saw one more door at the end of the hall. As he approaches it, again he hears what sounds like a low moan coming from inside, it wasn’t the voices he had heard before announcing the inhabitants of each room, it was like a dull growling. He reaches for the door knob to go inside, but it was locked. And this door seems different than the others, it fits solidly into the door frame, the door knob is not loose and when he tries pushing against it, he can tell that the door is built much more solidly than the others. After a few attempts at trying to get it open he gives up.

Walking back down the hall, he could still hear the moaning from behind him, which did not make any sense to him. Since the only thing that he could see was the half circle of life in front of him, he had not heard any noises from anywhere else. But this was different, it was strangely drawing him to come back. looking back over his shoulder unnerved him as there was nothing there. No floor, no hallway, no doors, it was as if he was floating above the ruins of the house below. Turning his head quickly back to look straight ahead, he was seeing the hallway again.

Lesson learned, need to always look in front, not going to do that again. He made his way out of the house and down the steps of the front porch. Walking to the street he turned again to look at the house, but it was not there, just the original pile of rubble that he had seen from the street originally.

“‘YOU MUST FIND THE ANSWER, YOU MUST HELP THESE PEOPLE”.

This thought echoed through his mind, “what exactly am I supposed to help them with?” he thought. “What answer do I need to find?”

Walking down the block, the next house number painted on the street curb was 1716. Not knowing exactly what he found in the first house, the Maldonado house, he walked toward the next one. “Let’s get this over with!”


Green River Road – 1708

https://joatmon14.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/green-river-road/

 

As he looks at the houses up and down this block, he wonders what happened to them, why are they all in such decay? Something is telling him that in order for him to move on in this world, that he will need to understand what happened here.

First house number is 1708, as he approaches the house he gets glimpses of color in his mind, showing him how it used to look like. He is stunned at the vividness of the image that he sees, the green of the grass, the child’s toys in the front yard, the hopscotch squares drawn in yellow chalk on the sidewalk leading up to the porch that is now only 4 stairs that seem to be ready to fall apart at even the thought of walking on them. He tries to open his eyes to see things as they really are, the shades of gray that he saw from the street, but he realizes that his eyes are open.

“What the hell is going on?”

As he approaches the stairs, he notices it. The closer he gets to the old porch, the more he can see of it, as if it were really there. Wooden steps leading up to. . . well to nowhere. But now there are 7 stairs, not 4, and they look safe so he moves forward. As he does he can see an arc of color in front of him, maybe 10 feet away on the ground. Everything inside the arc is full of color, while the ruins lie just outside. He steps slowly on to the stairs and can see the white painted railings on the side of the wooden steps, stained a dark crimson color. One by one he goes up, his arc of color showing more details of the front porch which now seems to be expanding to the left and right.

At the top of the stairs he stops, realizing that he was not breathing and takes in everything within his half circle of color. As he turns his head to the side to look over his shoulder, he realizes that behind him is colorless. Whichever way his body is facing, the arc follows. He heads toward the front door, which is now well within his reach, the numbers 1 7 0 8 on the small black metal mail box hanging on the house. The wooden house is painted a lighter shade of blue, at least the part that is now visible. Screen door is unlocked and the wooden door, painted white is open.

He has to go in, something is telling him that he has to go in to start unlocking this mystery, but he is scared. turns to look at the street thinking about escape, but his feet won’t move. Turning back to the door he wonders what is going to happen, the voice in his head just telling him that he must find out what happened if he wants to get back to his normal life, 

“‘YOU MUST FIND THE ANSWER, YOU MUST HELP THESE PEOPLE”.

He takes a step onto the threshold, a blinding light hits him for an instant, almost knocking him off his feet. It felt like it went right through his chest, through his soul. Suddenly he is hearing names:

Eduardo Maldonado

Eileen Maldonado

Tamara Maldonado

Arturo Maldonado

The voice continues to say the names as he stands in the doorway, in a slow monotone voice, the kind of voice one uses when trying to memorize something.

‘Who are these people? Why am I hearing these names?’

He steps in past the door and the names stop. He backs up into the door frame and they start again. He can see up ahead outside of his arc of color, that there is just rubble, not even a frame of a house, but within it is beautiful. As he walks into the hallway, he sees a portrait of a family, a father, a mother, a daughter and a son. Are these the Maldonado’s? Was this their house? What happened to them?

No sense turning back now, he moves on down the tiled hallway…..


Green River Road

He walks down the street, past all the burned out houses and decay that was once a thriving neighborhood and wonders to himself, “Did all the people that used to live here have faith too?”

One by one he passes yards filled with debris, old rusted out fencing that used to keep the kids safe. A “Beware Of Dog” sign dangles on one screw, even though there is no sign of life anywhere.

Not sure where to go any more, he is looking for a sign, something that will guide him and tell him what to do now, tell him where to go. How did this happen? How can all these people just disappear? Are they OK? Did they just pack up and leave?

Why is he drawn to this row of houses on Green River Road? He has never been here before yet something is telling him that he needs to figure out what happened to these people so that he can figure out how he is going to move on with his life.

The entire block seems to be devoid of color, everything is black and gray and white and all the shades in between. What happened here? Where to start?

He turns and walks back to the first house, address shows 1708 on the mailbox, might as well start here. . . .


Desiree

Writing the previous post and including a song by Savatage reminded me of another song by them (see how music works!!).

From the first time I heard this song, I thought it was one of the most romantic songs that I had ever heard.

Hope you enjoy it


Music Soothes My Guilty Soul

Today’s daily prompt is asking us to write about our guiltiest guilty pleasure.

First thought is that pleasures should not make you feel guilty, but then I think about some things I have done IN THE PAST and I have to recant that statement.

Eating is a guilty pleasure, overeating is a PROBLEM

Laziness is a guilty pleasure, excessive laziness is a PROBLEM

Playing those stupid games on Facebook is a guilty pleasure, actually paying money to play them is a PROBLEM.

Seems to me like there is a fine line between guilty pleasures and PROBLEMS.

Music, I think that music would have to be my guilty pleasure that I have no intention of ever giving up. I just looked at my ITunes screen and it is telling me that I could listen to all the music in my library for over 41 days and never hear the same song more than once. 12601 songs, 41.4 Days, 116.02 GB are the exact numbers.

There is so much music out there to choose from, and there is so much out there that is not (over) played on the airwaves, and I want it all. I can’t explain it, but if I hear something that I like, I want it in my library. Yes there are songs that I own that I probably haven’t listened to in years but at least they are there and some day it will pop up and be the song that I needed to hear right at that moment.

Since I was a kid, I loved the lyrics. I would buy an album (yes, an album!), put it on the record player and read along as the music played. I still do that to a degree, except now it is buying music, downloading it and then listening to it as I read along on the computer screen.

Music has always been with me, through dark times, lonely times, depressing times, it has always been a constant in my life. I am selfish about my music, maybe that is where the guilt lies. I have tried to share music with other people and they just don’t listen to it and understand it the way that I want them to, not saying that the way I listen and understand is necessarily the right way or only way to listen to it, but it is a very personal experience. I gave up a while ago trying to get people to understand what I get out of music, if that makes sense.

I heard an expression yesterday that can apply here, “Expectations are just premeditated resentments.” I used to expect people to get out of a song the same thing that I did and when they didn’t, well…..I can see how selfish that really was, but it is what I felt. I try to share music today with people just by playing a song for them and…oh who am I kidding, it still bugs me. I’ll keep working on that one.

By the way, I do not listen to rap music, just do not like it. Country music is also not what I listen to. Rock music is it for me and that is more than enough. As I am typing this I am listening to the new Nickelback album…er….CD….er…download and enjoying it. I don’t listen to music just because other people like it and I try my best not to judge people for listening to something that I don’t like.

Anyway, that is my spiel on music, and I will leave you with a song that jumped out at me from the first time I heard it more than fifteen years ago. It is called The Hourglass by the band Savatage. It is just one of those songs that I can get a vivid picture in my mind which became even clearer when I read the liner notes that accompanied the CD (below). Hope you give it a listen and enjoy, and if you don’t, that would be OK too…..kind of J.

Side note about Savatage, they are now all members of Trans-Siberian Orchestra and if you ever get a chance to see them live, do not pass it up. You will not be disappointed

 


The Wake Of Magellan (1997/1998)

Info

  The wake of Magellan is based on two real life events. The first occurred less than a year before this album was released when the captain of a freighter threw three Romanian stowaways overboard in the middle of the Atlantic. A fourth stowaway was saved by the courageous action of a deckhand, who risked his own life to protect the youth. (news article)

The second event regarded the Irish reporter Veronica Guerin who died fighting the growth of the drug trade in her country. Her death may accomplish what she could not in life. (news article)

These events are combined into the story of an old Spanish sailor, who has decided to end his life by sailing his small boat out into the Atlantic until it sinks. In his mind he has romanticized this decision as a glorious, Vikingesque way to die. When the ocean winds push him into a great storm, and he believes that his wish is about to be granted in a great dramatic fashion, he suddenly sees a man drowning in the ocean. In an instant he finds himself taking back every wish for death’s embrace, and fights to save this soul. After many twists and turns, he is able to save the stowaway that had been thrown overboard. Returning to land, he now realizes that not only every life is precious but also every hour of that life.

 

Mark


Best Laid Plans….

He had been looking forward to this day off for a very long time. This day was going to be all about him for a change

He had made his list

  1. Get up early and go fishing
  2. Breakfast at Hazel’s diner
  3. Tend to his garden
  4. Start reading the new David Baldacci book that just came out
  5. Meet his brother for dinner and then catch the game down at All-Stars

Work had been rough lately, what with the big merger and all. He had finally gotten things to where he could spend a day away from the office. It had been over three months since he had a day all to himself, his wife had gone out of town to visit her parents, the kids were old enough to take care of themselves, this was going to be his day.

His alarm went off at 4:30 AM, he had gotten all of his fishing gear ready the night before so all he had to do was splash some water on his face and go. He was surprised to hear someone moving around downstairs. From the top of the stairs he could see that the kitchen light was on and someone was, not so quietly, moving around in the kitchen. He wondered why either of the kids would be up this early, and went down to investigate

“David?”

“Hi Dad.”

“What are you doing up so early?” he asked as his son was searching through the cereal boxes in the pantry

“Coach was able to get the ice for us this morning so that we can get an extra practice in before the tournament this weekend. Figured I better eat something before I go, sorry if I woke you.”

He loved watching his son play hockey. He thought back to all those early morning practices and late night games that he had gone to over the years. That is one thing about youth hockey, ice time is limited so when you get the chance to play, you took it, no matter what time it was.

“How are you getting to the rink?”

“Well, was planning on walking since I couldn’t convince Julie to get up and drive me.”

“You want me to drive you?” he asked his son.

“Thought you were going fishing this morning. That’s what Mom told us.” David replied

“Ehhh. . . that’s OK, I can go fishing another time. I miss watching you out on the ice” he said as he grabbed his keys

“Thanks Dad! Really didn’t want to have to carry my bag all that way. You sure you don’t mind?”

“Not at all.”

He sat in the cold, aluminum bleachers and watched a 2 hour hockey practice, reminiscing about the past 10 years of being a hockey Dad, talking to some of the other parents while drinking a large cup of hot chocolate. After practice he waited for over 30 minutes in the parking lot for his son to come out, checking his watch every so often. He missed out on fishing, but he can still do the rest of the things on his list. David came out of the side door with several of his teammates, laughing and carrying on like teenage boys do. Hard to believe that the kid was going to be 16 in a couple months. Where does the time go he thought as the young man threw his bag in the back of the SUV?

It was still only 8:30, he could get David home and still make it to Hazel’s by 9:15, they serve breakfast until 10:30 anyway, missing out on fishing was not going to ruin his day. He helped David get all of his gear into the house, had just turned around to head back to the car when his daughter Julie called to him from the kitchen

“Good morning Daddy! You want me to make you some eggs?”

“Julie? Is that you?” he kidded.

“Very funny. Come on, I need to practice for my stupid Home Ec class exam this week. We have to make breakfast. Please….”

How could he say no? Even though all he could think about were Hazel’s delicious biscuits and pepper gravy with a side of homemade sausage links, he sat down at the table. Julie brought him a plate consisting of very runny scrambled eggs, 2 very small pieces of bacon, and a piece of toast that was the color of charcoal.

“Sorry Dad, guess I need some more practice”

Julie sat at the table and stared at her dad as he forced the food down his throat, going through three glasses of orange juice and a glass of water just to keep it down. He smiled at her trying not to show his true feelings about her current cooking abilities.

“That bad, huh?” she asked

“No…..not, umm… too….” he coughed as the burnt toast crumbs stuck to the back of his throat, reached for the orange juice carton and took a huge drink. He set it down and looked at his beautiful daughter and they laughed uncontrollably. “Yeah, that was bad.”

They sat at the table for hours and talked, mostly about her and what she had been up to. Her current boyfriend, how school was going, the colleges that she wants to visit. He could not remember the last time that he was able to just sit and talk to Julie. They were usually both always too busy, but for some reason their schedules coincided perfectly this day. David even joined them for about an hour and the three of them talked and laughed and just enjoyed each other’s company.

He looked outside and saw that it had started raining, “So much for the garden.” He said out loud. So far his list was not coming to fruition.

“Hey, that new action movie is playing down at the theater” David spoke up, “You guys want to go?”

“Sure!” said Julie as she jumped up to go get ready. “What time does it start?”

“12:15 and 2:30” David read from his phone.

“Let’s do 2:30 so I can take a shower first” she proclaimed.

David got up and went to the living room and started playing his video games, he looked around the kitchen and realized that he had just been left with a mess to clean up. He did so, smiling inwardly thinking about his children, wondering how many more times they will actually have time to all be together again. He drove them to the movies, he paid of course. They ordered hot dogs, large popcorn and a huge bag of Twizzlers that they shared throughout the movie. He ate way too much, but felt great. All the way home the three of them talked about the movie and how unrealistic it really was

“No way can someone get shot twenty times and walk away.” David declared. They all laughed

Movie didn’t get out until after 5, and by the time they drove home and got in the house, it was almost 6. He called his brother about dinner, but before he could beg out of going, his brother told him that he would not be able to go because his kids were sick and he needed to stay home and help his wife take care of them. That was fine with him as after all that crap he ate at the movie, he did not feel like going out to dinner or to go to a bar and drink beer.

He sat down in the recliner and sat back, looking over at the end table to where he had put his book that had just come from Amazon yesterday, it was not there. He got up and searched the entire house for it with absolutely no luck. He went back to the recliner and thought about his list that he had made the day before, he was 0 for 5. He shook his head and let out a long breathe, leaning back in the chair he closed his eyes to rest for a moment.

His cell phone rang, and opening his eyes he saw that it was completely dark in the room. He turned on the lamp on the side table and picked up his phone. It was his wife, Dana.

“Hey!” she said sounding all chipper.

“Hi hon” he said groggily.

“You OK? Sounds like I woke you up or something?” Dana said.

“I guess I must have dozed off, what time is it?

“Around 11, I waited until Dad was done watching the game before I called, I figured you wouldn’t hear the phone at All-Stars”

“Didn’t go” he said. “In fact, I didn’t do anything on my list.”

“Really? But I thought you had it all planned out.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“I’m sorry baby” she tried to console him over the phone.

“Sorry? For what? It was the BEST day off ever!”


Maybe It’s Not Them

What is it that makes people think that if you don’t talk about something, it (or they) will go away?

Present company included. For the longest time, if something came up or someone close to me acted a certain way, then I would do everything in my power to look the other way and hope that it will sort itself out. And the funny part is that it did, or at least I thought it did.

If there was some situation that I needed to address at work or at home, just look the other way and act like I know what I am doing. For God’s sake don’t ask what is going on or try to get to the root of the problem. That would be too much like work. (Gasp!) Eventually something else will come along and that first situation will not be so important, or even better, the situation takes care of itself and then I can stand back, throw my hands in the air and act like I knew nothing about it and none of the ramifications would be my fault. That was my MO, my modus operandi, my method of operation.

Didn’t talk about family issues outside of the house, for fear that “someone find out.” Find out that we weren’t perfect? That we have issues just like every family in the world?

And now Facebook comes along and I am sure that a lot of people that grew up before the internet age (yes, there was life before the internet) are just rolling in their graves because everyone’s dirty laundry is being aired for the world to know about. I was recently warned to be careful about what I put on Facebook, because people might find out stuff about me that could be embarrassing.

eccentricEvery family has someone that is not “normal”. Maybe I am that person in my family. I have done some things in my life that I am not proud of, things that hurt my family and probably embarrassed them. It has gotten easier over the years to talk about some of them, but there are some that are just too taboo to even bring up. In fact there is a good chance that I am the only one that still thinks about them.

But one thing that I have learned very recently is that these things do not go away. They get buried inside and fester and wait, they are very patient. They build up resentments, either against another person or more often than not against myself. I had to do some very serious soul searching and get all of these issues written down on paper, and then talk to someone about them. There was no other way I was told, that if I wanted to start healing, then they had to come out.

Now I didn’t go off half-cocked and start telling everyone that would listen all of the sordid stories of my past, but I did find someone that I knew that I could trust and I told him everything. I talked about things that I had honestly planned on taking to the grave with me. It was a cleansing of sorts. It was amazing the amount of (self-inflicted) pressure that it took off of my shoulders, just being able to get it out, after almost 30 years of just trying to bury it.

What is my point? Just that we often condemn people for being different, for not being like us. That too often that person is just looking, crying out for someone to listen to them and to try to understand why they act like they do. We were just talking last night about a famous comedian who admitted that he often locks himself in his bedroom for days at a time when he is not performing. Robin Williams, one of the funniest men I have ever heard, committed suicide. They try to make us laugh, to feel good about ourselves, but who does that for them? I guess we figure that if we see someone acting a fool and cracking jokes, that he is happy. That might not be the case, at least it wasn’t in my situation. I always tried to put on a happy outer appearance so that people would not try to get inside, it just seemed easier that way.

empathy-quoteI am as guilty as anyone for shunning people for being outrageous or eccentric or just plain different. And I need to stop judging them and maybe, just maybe get to know them a little better, to understand why they are like they are. I know how it feels to think that you are being shunned, so you try to be something that you are not just to get acceptance, just to fit in. And for anyone that I ever did that to in the past, I apologize.

So for all the eccentric aunts and uncles, for all the “Cousin Its” out there that are shunned or cast aside because you are not like everyone else, keep being yourself. You might not be the one that needs to change!

Mark