Daddys Back and gone again

There was a knock on the door early Saturday morning, strangely the dogs were not barking at this interruption of my sleep.  Thinking back, I did not have dogs, so the thought of them barking seemed suddenly out of place.  As I made my way to the door, slipping on some jeans and a tshirt along the way, my gun in my hand, I was more than a little surprised to see him standing there.

Twenty years earlier I had seen him die.  I had closed the casket.  I stayed there as the last of the dirt was put down.  Although this should be impossible, there he was standing at my door.  Some would be excited that a loved one came back, but in my warped mind the first thing I could think of was how did he find me.  He died in another state, and although he was buried in my home state, I did not even think about living here till much later.

Once the initial ‘how the hell’ wore off, I embraced him and started crying.  “Dad, what , how, I missed you so much” I said.  “I know son, I don’t know how, but I am here”   he told me as he held me tight.  Amazingly enough he had not aged a bit.  He looked just as he did the day before he died.  Dressed in a pair of ratty jeans, a shirt and his white hat that my mom had tried so many times to get rid of because of the way he had shaped it.

He came into the house, and we started talking about how he came to be at my door.  According to him, he woke up standing there and just knocked.  There was no memory of what had happened since he died, he went to bed in Jackson and woke up at my door steps 600 miles and 23 years later.

I looked him up and down looking for clues, yes I had seen too many ‘they’re back’ movies and I saw no dirt, no bites, nothing but dad.  I did notice his left eye seemed to be fully functional, where he was blind in it when he died.

He asked me about my mom, my brother, and me.  How we had been since he was ‘gone’ and I began to cry just like the first day.  I went over the pain of the past two decades and how mom had met two wonderful men who had taken really good care of her, the first who passed away, and the second who she was married to now and how happy they were.  We talked about the trials and tribulations of my brother, and his ventures around the world, and lastly about me and my issues with life without him.

He kept apologizing about the pain he had caused and how he wished he could do something to prevent it, and all I could think about was it was not his choice.  I know my daddy wouldn’t put us through any of this if he had a choice.  While I wanted to keep him all to myself, we knew we had a difficult task ahead of us, we had to contact my mom and brother and let them know what had happened this morning.

The next few months were a blur, but I remember us meeting my wife and my mom at a bakery where my dad was to talk about things going on that week.  My dad and I went up to the display case and were going to grab some snacks and drinks and he began looking pale and started swaying.  “Dad? You ok?” I asked, knowing that it was about to happen, praying that it wouldn’t. “Son,” he started to say as he collapsed to the ground.  “Damnit Daddy! Don’t do this shit again!” I began to yell and scream for help, this couldn’t be happening again.

That evening we were at the hospital, the memories came flooding in again of the day he passed.  Once again we were led into the room where he was, this time he was in a coma.  Machines were hooked up, tubes were inserted, but he was alive.  The doctor had no idea what happened, just that he was asleep and wouldn’t wake up.  It was not quite a coma, but instead a really deep sleep.   I jokingly said “Well he could sleep through a hurricane” but neither the doctor, nor mom could see my humor.

Dad remained in the coma for a few days before he woke up.  He immediately started pulling the IV’s and tubes out, and had to be restrained before he hurt himself.  The nurses looked over him, called for the doctors, and could find nothing wrong with him.  The pulled out the remaining IV’s, extracted the tube down his throat and had him sitting up in no time.

The doctor called us out of the room and was trying to explain to us what was going on, but scratched his head and said “we honestly don’t have a clue.  He is awake, he is aware, he just ‘is’”

Soon he was released from the hospital and before no time he fell back into a everyday lifestyle.  I am not sure where he was living, but I do know that he was getting a check and traveling throughout the United States seeing places he had always talked about when I was a kid.

During one of his trips to Las Vegas, I remember him complaining that the Government had charged him $84 for making a deposit to his account with the memo “Deposit during wartime effort” and we couldn’t figure out how that would make a difference in this age of direct deposits.  Every month the would deposit some money, and every month they would charge this fee.

Dad was having the time of his life, seeing the places he wanted to, and I was there with him sometimes.  It was a great feeling until it wasn’t.  I began to realize this was a dream and I was torn in the middle of what I wanted.  I knew I would wake up and feel so much pain, but I also knew that the pain was growing even in this dream.

The fight between the dream and reality began to grow stronger, I opened one of my eyes and began to straddle the realities.  I could see my real life, my wife asleep in my arms, and I could see the lights of Vegas and my dad standing there.   Part of me wanted to stay in the dream, with him, knowing that it was not real, but ready to accept that.  The other part of me wanted to get out as quick as I could, this dream had become a nightmare.

Finally, I broke free as my wife began to cover me up with a blanket.  She had thought I was getting cold because I was evidently ‘shivering’ in my sleep.  What she didn’t realize, it was shaking from emotional turmoil.  As she crawled back in bed, I got up and gave her a hug and a kiss and told her to get some rest.  I had to get up from the nightmare.  She said “huh” and I told her to get some rest and it would be ok.

Here I am closing the last ‘few months’ of the dream summed up with a couple pages of text.  Dad, I miss you every day.  I know I carry you with me and I really hope that you have found peace.  Maybe one day we can meet again, either in the afterlife or another.

13 August 2016

 

 

Visions of days of old

I woke up last Saturday with a image in my head, it took several hours before I even attempted to draw it.  I was rather hoping it would dissipate, but it would not.  What I can only call the “Council of the Old Soulse” came to me and I had to let it out.


Here is what I know

  • I still cannot make up the face (which I believe is me)
  • I do not know whom I am addressing. I do know that the chair (or alter as one person noted) seems to be in a area encircled by a small stone wall, sort of like small boulders placed in a circle.
  • There seems to be a crowd all around, I can only picture one with a weapon, similar to a broadsword
  • The platform on which I am sitting, there are two indentions of weapons on either side, yet no weapons near me
  • The back of the chair, confuses me still, I cannot tell if it has a peak on it, or is some sort of headgear on top. Everytime I try to ‘zoom’ in, it gets fuzzy again,
  • My robe is reddish brown, and the others are brown,
  • My head hurts when I try to focus more on it, like a tight ball cap on my head. Even as I write this, the pain comes again, when I am done it will subside as it has this week when I stop thinking of it.
  • Someone mentioned possible scene from Asgarde, and that is a possibility, but from what I have seen, I don’t know.

    Without further adieu, here are a couple pictures of what I drew, the first original, then inverted

    Council of the Old Souls

    Council of the Old Souls

    Council of the Old Souls - Inverted

    Council of the Old Souls – Inverted

of Nightmares and pain

Last night was really rough for me.  I went when I went to sleep I was in pain because somehow I overdid it yesterday and my back was hurting.  As I found it difficult to fall asleep and was trying to find ways to get my mind off it, I found myself in a dream of dreams, or nightmares as I perceived them.  It jumped around quite a bit, so forgive me as I try to put them into words.

 

Dream Phase 1
First I found myself plotting revenge against someone, or they were against me (I will explain shortly), either way it was something that made perfect sense.  Someone was coming into my business area and they were warned that they needed to back off.  When they told me that they were untouchable, I sent them something to prove they were not.  This is where I was suddenly in their shoes as I opened a package that said “I told you I can find you”  In the package was a small photo book that had pictures of several people I cared about.  Each picture had a caption giving information, that quite honestly I didn’t fully know.  Info such as date of birth, social security numbers, address, phone numbers, children, health conditions, things they liked and so on.  The last line was “Status : Healthy – For Now”
Dream Phase 2
I was waiting in wait for one of my victims to show up. This was getting ridiculous, having to prove over and over that they were not safe no matter who they were, or where they were, that there was always a way I could find them.  I videotaped the older man climbing out of his truck and unloading his four wheeler.  He was moaning and complaining about his son not being able to enter a competition shooting event because of his age, and I admit I chuckled at his anguish, and he was going to film how good his son really was.  Surely he would see me when he set the tripod up just a few feet in front of me, but no he didn’t.  This was the first time I was actually nervous as I saw him hand his son, maybe 8 years old, a rifle to film his accuracy.  I lowered myself as much as I could to make myself a harder target, just in case, but soon found I had nothing to worry about.  The man and boy hopped onto the four wheeler and began driving at different speeds and turning at random, and I’ll be damned if he didn’t hit every target in a row, without hesitation.  If this kid ever decided to take a wrong turn in life, I would be there to recruit him for us.  He would be quite useful.  As they finished their practice and the man was congratulating the boy on a job well done, I started to relax and started to film my 79-80 Toyota Tercel ( I have searched for an image, and indeed it appeared to be a first generation Toyota, and it had a mid-late 80’s SC license plate, yes I had to look the plate style up as well).  I remember asking myself “how much more of this shit do I have to take before they realize I am not playing around”  As the camera panned I was in a ruins of sort, huge stone walls, almost like an ancient ruins like the sort found in England, or Ireland.

Dream Phase 3
I bought a black snake, first anyone who knows me will tell you I really, really, really do not like snakes, that could do tricks.  This snake was about 8-10 inches long at first, then grew to be 6-8 feet.  This snake was awesome!  His venom was as dangerous as you could imagine, but I had a special “thing” in his tank that he would strike to extract his venom for later collection, it also satisfied his urges to strike.  This snake would make me a lot of money as it could tricks, It would latch onto itself and allow me to use him as a lasso, or I could throw him like a frisbee, it could roll like a ring, it was amazing.  I paid a lot of money for this snake, and it made me a lot of money.  I recall the price being around 1 million dollars, but the returns were amazing.  Eventually I purchased another snake to double my income and as I was training it my father in law showed up.  We went to meet for breakfast with my wife.  As we were waiting for our food to arrive, I excused myself to go to the bathroom and my father in law gave me a look that he always gave me that I wasn’t good enough for his daughter, or good enough for anything else.  (BIG NOTE HERE:  This is not true in life.  Mr. E and I get along and I know this is a dream, but I want to be perfectly clear that we get along well and I have never felt this was in reality.  Also, this was not Mr E in my dream, nor was this my wife)  As I entered the bathroom, I was met with someone who said “Time to sell out to me”  I knew they were talking about my snakes, but that wasn’t going to happen.  He told me that it needed to be done now, or he would take it.  A fight ensued and I remember being chased, fighting, a battle that is really fuzzy, but remember him taking a partner of mine and killing him in front of me.  He then took my big snake and told me that I was out of the business now.  Evidently he didn’t know about the baby snake.  I made my way back and my father in law looked at me in disgust and told me I was worthless.  This is when I lost it (never mind that I never lost it during the fight) and began telling him I had never asked him for a damn thing, not even approval to marry his daughter.  That she had asked for things, his son and his other daughter had, and so had his grand kids, but I by God had never asked for a damn thing and I wouldn’t start now.  I knew he thought I was never good enough,and I didn’t care.  During this entire argument I was taking a wire brush clearing mortar from a brick wall (again not sure why) but was doing so with anger.  He then knocked over the container that had the baby snake in it that I had just bought and was getting ready to groom to join the other snake.  The little guy went slithering away and I tried to catch it, but he was too quick for me.  I began yelling and cussing that he was taken away everything I was working for.  I had secured a life for his daughter, and now not only was I broke because of the other guy, but my future just wriggled away and it was his fault.

Finally the pain began again in my back and the urge to pee all over the place and I woke up to my wife opening the bedroom door to come check on me.  My back is still killing me, the images are still strong, but even as I finish this writing, the words are becoming fuzzy.

Until next time, you have been reading more randomness from the depths of my confused mind.

Peace

Rest well Shirley

There are certain things in life that will always be.  Death, unfortunately is one of them.

Today, I once again am asking for the thoughts and prayers if so inclined of any who may read this.

A very close friend passed this morning.  I was her baby boy and she was my second momma.  Not only was she a family friend, she was family.  She was also my mommas “bestie” as they love to say.

Whether it be a day, a week, a month, or even a couple years, whenever we talked it was as if the conversation never stopped.

Other than the running line of being hide and seek champion, the thing I will miss the most will be our conversations.  We talked on many subjects throughout the years.  Our talks were always very special to me.  Whether it was on religion, politics, social issues of not only current but past and future, we would talk.

We talked of personal issues that will be forever private, and we talked of love of family.  No subject was off limits and all were as if we were old friends, which we were.

Shirley never talked down to me, she never treated me as anything but an equal, except of course when she called me babyboy and that made us both light up.  Even as I write this, wiping the tears, that simple phrase makes me think of her and smile.

We both love to write, and it is said that I get my love from her as she used to read to me when I was but a small thing.  All I know is we both had a passion, and she took every chance to encourage it.  That is who Shirley was, and what will be remembered

Shirley loved her family more than anything else, and you knew it.  She would give you anything you asked for, and would offer it even if you didn’t ask.  She was what we all thrive to be.

Please, I implore as I did last week, and I have done even without something like this, take the time to tell your family and friends that you love them.  Tomorrow is not promised.

Forever in my thoughts, forever in my heart, you will be missed.

Love you bunches Shirley

Always,
babyboy

Saving Kara

Saving Kara

I first met Kara when she was maybe 12 years old. Her brother Raash and I met through the Big Brother program, and when my history caught up with me, I was asked to stop volunteering. That didn’t stop us, and we used to hang out and get into all kind of mischief. Kara always wanted to tag along, but I wanted her to keep her life on the straight and narrow. It was too late for me and her brother, but she had a chance and I didn’t want it tarnished.   She was like the little sister I had never had, in my eyes at least. I would find out later she did not see me in the same family way. More about that later, first you need to know a little about me.

To most I was seen as a petty thief always looking for a way to score, but truthfully I chose my targets carefully. Yes I was a thief, but I stole from the bad guys so to speak. Someone made a big score from selling weed, well let’s just say I took a peoples cut. Same thing from ‘real’ thieves selling hot stuff from a warehouse. If I could justify it in that way it wasn’t that bad, at least I hoped it wasn’t.

Raash and I had heard about this out of town bully named Lee. Lee was a big ol fella who on the outside seemed to be one of us, but something that just didn’t sit right.   Once I found out the truth about him, I knew he had to be stopped. I mean it’s one thing to come into the hills and gain trust of folks by pretending to be one of them, telling them you are from the neighboring holler, and know the struggles. It’s another to never have spent a night in the woods, always had a roof with central heat and air over your head. The closest Lee ever came to being from the hills was one weekend he spent camping with the local scout troop. That excursion lasted a whole 2 hours, the time it took for his father to send the helicopter to the forest to pick him up.

Lee was taking advantage of the local kids by having them do his dirty work, promising them tons of cash and in return he would take care of them. His idea of taking care of them was beating the hell out of them, leaving them maybe 5% of what they brought in and a promise of slit throat to them or their friends if they went to the police. Nice guy eh? Nice enough to make it to top of my personal take down list. Remember, I try to make my bad side work for the good.

Lee had just scored a few cases of electronic media players and was on his way back to celebrate his recent sale by going to his uptown apartment in the city.   Such a shame when the nice truck he was driving had a spike strip induced set of flats happen in the middle of nowhere on the back roads he took.   Poor fella turned white as a ghost when he jumped out of his truck screaming and cussing up a storm, grabbed his cell and realized he had no signal, courtesy of the small jammer pointed his way. He reached into the cab and tried his CB, which I had thought was for show, and heard nothing but static. Good thing I had Raash cut the antenna cable under the bed of the truck. Ol boy was fit to be tied. He didn’t know how to change a tire, he was too damn lazy to walk that far, and had no one he could call for help.

After stewing for a few minutes in his own private brew of hell, I called up Raash and told him it was time to be neighborly and help Lee out. Raash pulled up in his old beater, nothing compared to what Lee was driving, but ‘help’ had arrived!

Raash, through his thick accent, which was half redneck and half Thai, asked “Hey there Lee, run in a trouble of a bit?”

“You think asshole?” Lee retorted.

“You know I think, well most of the time that is. Sometimes think of bad things to good people” Raash was enjoying his smart ass answer until he felt the thud of Lee’s phone against his head. He was going to pay for that. It was one thing to be a bully to a bunch of teenage thugs who you made steals for you, but to hit someone who was came to ‘help’ you, well that was another.

“Sorry Lee,” Raash said composing his thoughts and keeping his calm so that he could remember the plan, “you need a ride or something?” “I will take the or something,” Lee said as he pushed Raash to the ground and headed for the car. This was not going as planned, but it would work anyway.   Lee tried to start the car, but without knowing about the toggle I taught Raash to install, that car would never run. Brushing the dust from his clothes, Raash went to the drivers’ door and motioned for Lee to roll down the windows. “Ehem, you don’t have to steal the car, I will give you a ride, just move your red haired ass over will ya” said Raash.   Lee begrudgingly moved over to the passenger seat and pushed it back as far as he could and that is when I knew this would not go as planned.   I saw a quick flash of light come from behind the seat and saw a little hand go against the back glass and quickly go back down. I knew it was her.

Kara was 14 now and was harder to keep away, stubborn teenage girls, when Raash and I had planned things. I almost felt sorry for the girl, but damn, did she have to keep pestering us all the time? Going to the movies, “Take Kara” Raash’s mother would say. Going to the store, “Take Kara”, going for a run in the woods, you get the picture.   It’s not that her parents didn’t want to spend time with her, it’s just they didn’t know how. Kara was special, she had special needs that her parents just couldn’t comprehened.   Kara and Raash were adopted from the far east when she was 10 and he was 14. Raash fell right into the small town life, as it was not much different from the villages in India he grew up in. Kara however, well she never did and most thought he never would. Kara had been brought into Raash’s family just 6 months before they left for the hills of Tennessee. The village had been attacked in the night and most people were killed except Kara, Raash and Aditi, Raashs’ real mother.   They escaped crawling through a sewage ditch that let out into the bay.   Aditi led the children to safety and sold herself as payment so that the children would be adopted and taken away. The only condition she begged, no demanded, was that Kara be kept with Raash, as he would always look after her. Kara begged for this not to happen, she kept saying she was sorry, she was so sorry, and begged not to go. She just wanted to be normal, to be in a family of normal. Aditi comforted her one last time and held her until she fell asleep. Two men came and gave her a shot of diazepam, a sleeping agent, to ensure she didn’t wake up during the trip. So in the darkness of night, the two were whisked away and placed with a couple in rural Tennessee in what would be known as home to them.

Raash must have seen the light too because he was staring straight at me and barely noticed when Lee hit him on the back of the head. “Come on Raashit, Let’s get this show on the road” said Lee impatiently and definitely ungrateful. Raash turned and elbowed Lee in the face and told him to “Husheesh.” Before Lee could react Kara who was hiding behind the seat, slipped a belt down over Lee and buckled it in the back and then slid a burlap bag over his head. “Kara Ellen Smithfield, what the name of Chrisitsh are you doing here!” Raash was pissed and Kara knew it. Between using her full name and calling out the name of Christ, which Raash always had confused because of the language issues, she knew this was not going to be easy to get out of.

I ran to the truck and shoved the chloroform soaked rag under the bag and against Lee’s face. He went limper than a soggy carrot. “Marko!” Kara squealed out as she slid from behind the seat, “I knew you would save me!” “Hush girl,” I said, “this is no place for you. What the hell were you thinking?” “Um, sorry?” she sheepishly said, trying to look innocent. “Stop it!” Raash yelled. He was right, she knew it, and she sulked back behind the seat. “What now” asked Raash?   I explained that since we could no longer just leave him in his boxers passed out in the town square with a jar of lube, a wet willy and pictures of animals, we would have to come up with a more permanent solution to be rid of Lee.   I was not happy about this, but this had to be handled, and it had to be handled tonight. I told Kara to stay in the damn truck, I had Raash swap out tires with the ones we had in the woods. I would take the truck to a friend a few counties over and make sure it was split into enough parts it would never be tracked down. A ride like this would give me enough cash that we could lay low for a few months. I told Raash to take Kara home and I would take care of this alone after we loaded Lee back into his own truck, no way could it get back that they were involved. He argued, but when I pointed out the 7 levels of hell that I would bring down on him if he didn’t listen, he realized that I was serious. He jumped in the truck and left. After I cleaned up the spike strips and threw everything in the back of Lee’s truck, I moved Lee from the cab to the bed of the truck with the rest of the trash.

Taking the back roads as not to be spotted we made our way through the country roads until I finally reached my friends shop. Tap the horn once, flash the lights twice, and left turn signal. That was the code to let me in. A red light flashed above the door as a challenge, so I hit the high beams once. The door rose revealing nothing but darkness. I pressed the gas and moved into the darkness and safety, or so I thought. As soon as the door closed behind me, the warehouse lit up as bright as day and a swarm of guys surrounded the truck with air wrenches. Like a swarm of ants on a mouse the truck was stripped down to a skeleton in no time.

I was waiting for the inevitable “what to do with the body” question but it never came. Instead, my friend came up with a stack of cash and told me “til next time” and turned away.

“Yo!” I said, “Isn’t there something else we need to talk about?” “Whatcha talking about Joe, “he called everyone Joe, ” you bring it, I take it”   “No no no,” I said “What about the other package in the back?” “I gave you something for the four wheels, tires were shot” he said. “No, the OTHER package” I said. By the look on his face, I knew he was both confused and annoyed. “There was a ‘waste item’ in the back that I needed to get rid of, I don’t see it”   “Wait here” he mumbled as he turned around and let out a loud whistle. Everyone lined up in front of him. “Listen up Joes, if there was anything in the truck that I needed to know about, you need to come clean now, cause all of you Joes know I will find out” He raised up a .45 and racked a round into the chamber. Everyone looked around in fear, they each knew what would happen to anyone who lied or stole from him. He started to count down, “5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1”   no one said anything. “Stay here Joes, I am going to look at the tape, you better hope I don’t see it” and walked back towards me. “Joe, you really want I should look at the tape? It will cost you a G if I don’t see nothin” I nodded yes and we walked to the back of the room to where the monitors were set up.   We ran from the instance I hit town, until I entered the gate looking at the tapes and there it was. “Son of a bitch!” Lee had woken up and climbed out of the truck about 2 miles back. Without saying another word, I rolled out 2 G from the payment with apologies. I knew the extra G would go a long way in the forgiveness department since it was neither asked for, nor expected. “Hey Joe, catch” he called out as he tossed me a set of keys, “you gonna need that to get home and find your buddy” I graciously accepted the gift and headed for the door.

As I made my way outside I passed the other Joes who were already working on another car as another client was sitting in the seat I was just half an hour ago. We nodded at each other in passing, mutual anonymity and respect because you know, manners always matter.

At the front door was an old sedan pointed towards the gate, I figured this was it and when the key turned the ignition, I was on my way. I had to find out where Lee went and warn Raash. Knowing this ass the way I did, he would go after Kara first, then Raash, then me. He would want me to suffer, and that was his second mistake, the first being leaving the truck.

I pulled into the drive around 4 am and started to lay out the plans of what would come next. First, put out 5 bills to whoever brought me good info on where Lee was. I knew he lived in the city, but not sure where. Second, if they just brought Lee to me, 2G, no questions. While this did not seem like a lot of money to normal people in the big city, this was 3, maybe 4 months income for the hills. In these desperate times, word would spread quickly. It also would mean that I would need to be extra careful because I not only put out a mark on Lee, but myself because if I could pay for Lee, well why go through the trouble when they could just rob me. The only thing that I had going for me was that the ones who would be dumb enough to try to rob me, would not be smart enough to pull it off, but even the dumb ones get lucky.

I grabbed everything that I cared about from the little shack I called home, a pocket watch from a dear friend, both 9mm I used on my first job which was robbing the fellow who gave me the watch, and that damned silly putty egg with the dead flower Kara had given me. She was a sweet kid who gave me this egg with no expectations of anything in return, just cause she thought of me and said “even the dead need to be in something”

The word was out, dawn was breaking and I had to get to Raash and Kara.   Things were about to get real difficult for them and since The Smithfield parents didn’t like me to begin with, it was going to be rough to explain to them what was happening. They always said I would be trouble, especially Pastor Smithfield, he told me I would burn in a level of hell so deep that God himself could not save me. That hurt, a lot.

I knocked on the door at 8 am, I knew any time before that I was subject of being shot as Mrs. Smithfield had issues sleeping, but due to the good graces of southern upbringing, social calls could begin then.   When the door opened, I knew I was too late. Pastor Smithfield opened the door with a smile and said “Welcome home Son, glad you could make it for our morning prayer meeting” His eyes glancing to the left behind the door. Even though I was not a man of God, I prayed I was reading the good Pastor correctly as I put two rounds through the door and heard a thud as Jimmy collapsed to the ground. He was one of Lee’s boys and I knew what that meant, it meant that Lee knew it all.   I ran in closed the door, kicked the gun away from Jimmys body and made sure the rest of the house was clear.   “What the hell is going on” I asked the Pastor. “You son of the devil, you did this!” Mrs. Smithfield answered as she slapped me across the face.   Standing there I took the nonstop stream of profanities I didn’t think she had in her as she slapped me a few more times.   Yes, I deserved this, to a point, and when she finally stopped and fell to the couch I asked her if she was done, or if she wanted to keep wasting time beating on me when I was here to protect her kids. “Some nerve,” the Pastor interrupted, “you get those sweet kids into this, bring a man into our home and kill him, and you want to know if we are done?” “Pastor, listen.” I was going to try to reason this out with him, “I realize you think I did this, and you are partially right, but listen up. Your kids aren’t that innocent, well maybe Kara is, but that’s not the point. Right now we need to get Jimmy out of here, and since I can’t really ask him questions about Lee, we need to figure this out.”

It was then, for the first time since I walked in, I realized that neither Kara nor Raash were around. They did not come out after the commotion, there were no screams, nothing. “Where are they? Where the hell are Raash and Kara” I screamed. “They took them you bastard, they took my angels” Mrs. Smithfield was shouting.

Pastor was just sitting there sobbing, holding a picture of the kids when they first arrived. “Please Mark, please help me get our kids back” he said through the tears. “It’s not too late for them, please help them” The man who wanted to see be burn in hell was begging for me help. Any other time I would have spit in his face and walked away, but this was different. I helped cause this, I had to fix it.

Pastor explained to me that Jimmy had broken in around 3 this morning with two other guys and Lee had sent them to find out who I was, where I was, and how he could get to me. They tied everyone up and moved the kids up in front of the parents. They were going to beat them until they got what they want. Kara would be first, being a girl and the youngest, it shouldn’t take long for them to get what they wanted. When they went to pull her out of bed, she was gone, so they moved to Raash.

They beat him until his eyes were swollen shut, and he finally passed out from the pain. He never gave me up, he kept telling the attackers to “Shuckish on my balls” and smiled. Each time it was met with a slap to the face, or a punch to the gut.   I kinda chuckled, to the point of pissing off the Pastor, as he was telling me of the events. I explained that I knew Raash was a tough bird, just had to get it out in the open.

After Raash passed out, they pulled Pastor up and just as the first punch was being thrown, Kara ran in with a baseball bat and hit one of the guys square in the sweet spot. That’s my girl I thought. She was quickly hit by the other fellow and knocked out. They tied her up, took Raash and left, leaving Jimmy in charge of the parents until either I showed up, or Lee called with further instructions.

I searched Jimmys body and found another gun in his waistband, a dime bag in his pocket, a cheap gas station phone and a bi fold wallet with a shiny badge in it. What the hell?   Jimmy was not a cop, at least not that we knew of, but I will be damned if this was not a real deputy sheriff badge. I had unfortunately seen them shoved in my face too many times to count. The Pastor had pretty much the same reaction to seeing the badge and wanted to call the Sheriff and get help and maybe explain that Jimmy was shot in self-defense. I told him no, not only no, but hell no. If in fact I shot a deputy sheriff only one of two things would happen. The first being that I would be shot on site as a cop killer, or the second the Sheriff would call Lee and tell him where I was. Either way, I would be dead and the kids would soon follow. There was one cop who was a state agent I could call that I trusted and he would tell me the truth, and he would not give me up. He owed me his life when I shot the crackhead who was about to shoot him.

Using Jimmys phone I called him up and asked him flat out if a James Barloth worked for the local sheriff. We went back and forth for a few minutes about why I was asking, how he could help other than that, why I needed to know, about legalities, this that and the other. I told him without going into too much detail about the kids and maybe dirty cops were involved, and reminded him again about his debt to me. He finally relented that Jimmy was a cop, the department was dirty and the state police were moving in next week to close it down. He wanted to know more as to what was happening, and I suggested he have social services do their Annual Check into the adopted kids and their welfare, and it would be a good idea to send a state trooper this time because of anonymous reports of gunfire in the area, then I hung up. I knew when I mentioned kids and gunfire that it would be taken care of.

“Pastor, listen to me” I told him, “I am going to get this taken care of, but I need you and Mrs. Smithfield to do this for me.” I gave him the gun and helped him pull the trigger. We shot into the wall so he would have some gun powder residue on his hands. “Listen up, Jimmy was shot in self-defense, you had to do it to save your wife, you had to do it to save your kids.” I explained to him “If they think it was you, a good man of the cloth with no choice, they will bring everything they can to help. Do you understand?” The Pastor nodded, still somewhat numb from everything that had happened. “Please Mark,” he was stammering with his speech, “please bring us our kids back” “Yes Sir, I will bring them back” I told him, hoping I could.

I had gotten maybe 10 miles away from the Smithfield house when I saw a slew of state police cars flying by. I pulled over and let them pass and when the last was clear I went back on my way.   As I got closer to town I pulled into the first parking lot I came to, a small mom and pop gas station slash garage, and pulled around to the side where my old car fit right into the ones waiting for repair. Going through Jimmys phone list there were only two numbers that had had been called, or had received calls from. The first was from “Eel” as it was saved in the contacts, the second was from “The Shop” Using my phone I did a quick search for both numbers, the first came up as Lee Brightworth, with a city address, and the other was a strip bar on the outside of town. I wondered if it could be really this easy. Again, using my phone I searched for both “Lee Brightworth” and “The Shop” and thanks to social media, I had confirmation.   Lee evidently owned this little bar that promised “No nagging and no sagging. No wives allowed”

Just as I was about to back out and head out towards ‘The Shop’ I turned to see the barrel of a 38 tapping on the window to the car. I lowered my left hand to my 9mm as I reached over and rolled down the window with my right. “What’s up John” I asked. “Oh you know, the usual” he replied grinning “I need money, you got money, so yeah” “You heard from Lee? I can pay you good money for that info” I told him. “Yeah, about that,” he replied, “I thought it would be easier if I just take the money instead, hand it” he never got to finish the sentence, instead he took crowbar to the back. “Thanks old timer” I told Mr. Williams, the owner of the gas station. “Everything ok Mark”, he asked. “Yes sir, just someone being stupid again. Can you do me a favor and take care of this for me? I am in kind of a hurry” “Mark, find them kids, me and the missus will take care of the rest” he said as he tipped his hat and turned away. Mrs. Williams was pulling a little wagon around as I was leaving. That’s the thing about small towns, people generally pull together when something happens to a young’un, and don’t take to kindly when someone who is trying to help is getting robbed. They also tend to look the other way when something outside the confines of the law has to be done.

I knew this was not going to be easy, and I knew I would be pretty much alone once I got to ‘The Shop’ All I could think about was the beating that Raash took for me and the swing Kara took trying to save her brother.

Since ‘The Shop’ was on the outskirts of town there would be no real easy way to sneak up on it, so I ditched the car about a mile way in the woods where hopefully I could get back to it if things went south and began walking along the tree line until I saw the gaudy neon sign. Middle of the day, only a two cars in the parking lot, and both of them were on the side. Employees hopefully, I really didn’t want anyone else to get hurt, and if at all possible, I would just tie up or knock out anyone I could.

As I walked into the bar, I quickly got a general layout. There was an old jukebox in the corner, small stage with two poles for the entertainment, a short bar and maybe a dozen tables. Two fellows were behind the bar, both looked meaner than a pit bull guarding a t bone steak. “Morning friend,” I announced, “Bud light please” “We don’t serve no light beer here, and I a’int your damn friend, pal” he said giving me a go to hell look. I have been getting a lot of those lately and am getting quite used to them, keeping me warm and fuzzy. “Fine, how bout a shot of whiskey,” as I pulled my gun out,” followed by a slug of lead if either of you reach for that boom stick I am sure is under the counter”

“Hey now” the second guy raising his hands up,” We don’t want or need any problems” The other guy gave him the same go to hell look he had given me earlier “Shut it Brian” “Quite a good idea,” I said,” for both of you. Just pour my whiskey and shut the hell up.” Pointing at grouch number one, “You, seem to be the dumbass in charge here, why don’t you tie Mr. Brian up to pole number one. Nice and tight, because if I even think he is gonna get out, you take the first bullet.” After he tied Brian up, I told him to gag him and then lock the door, that they were going to be closed for a while.

“Now sunshine, where is my whiskey and what is your name” I asked the grouch. “You can call me asshole, better yet” He didn’t finish before the first bullet went next to his hand. “Want to try again sunshine?” I asked smiling. “Mike, my name is Mike. Your name is? “Mike asked.

“You know who I am, and I am pretty sure you know why I am here, so let’s save some trouble Mike and just tell me what I want to know”

“I don’t know who you are or what you want, I just run a bar for the boss” Mike said.

“Who is the boss?”

“You don’t know? Oh this is rich, you are dead and don’t even know it”

“Who is the boss Mike? I am only going to ask you once”

“Mr. Brightworth is the boss” and a little smile begin to show on his face and I knew what it meant before I heard the creak of the door behind me.

I dropped to the floor and let out two rounds in the legs of the person trying to sneak up behind me, and shot twice through the bar hoping I judged correctly. All I heard was the gurgling of Mike behind the bar and the screams of our new guest. One kick to the face and the party crasher was quiet. Looking at Brian still tied to the pole, he wasn’t saying anything. I have a feeling that is as clueless as he looked, or close to it. I quickly tied up and gagged the party crasher. After going through his coat, I found out he was one Kenneth Brightwood, same address as Lee. He looked a little younger, so maybe his little brother, or cousin perhaps. Either way, from where those bullets hit, he is going to pay for the mistakes of Lee for a long time to come.

This is not how I wanted things to go, too much noise, not enough results. By the time I got to behind the bar, Mike had passed. Two rounds, center mass. Luck over skill is what they say, I think I had a little of both today. Searching his body, and checking his ID he was one Michael Brightwood, again same address. Well at least they were keeping it in the family, and I knew I was going along the right path. I put both ID’s in my pocket and went up to Brian.

As I pointed the gun to his head, the sweat began to pour off his forehead, and to be honest, I am pretty sure he pissed himself before I even opened my mouth.   “I am going to take the gag off, and you are not going to scream, is that understood? Just nod” he nodded yes that he understood, and I pulled the gag down. “Is your last name Brightwood as well?” I asked. He slowly nodded yes, and began crying.

“Look, I am sorry, I really am” I told him. “I am not here to kill anyone, they left me no choice”

“I know” he said crying, “I kept telling him just to drop it, but he said it was about honor or some bullshit, and I told him that he would get us all killed and look at Mikey and Brian”

“Listen, do you know why I am here?”

“The kids”

“That’s right, where are the kids?”

“I can’t tell you”

“You will tell me” as I slapped him across the face. “Tell me where the damn kids are, or the next time you see your brother you will be joining them in hell”

“Please don’t kill me” he begged, “They are in the back building where we keep the liquor, Lee has them back there”

“You better not be lying, or I swear to God!” that was the last he heard as I backhanded him with my pistol. He was out like a light.

I wonder if Lee had heard the noise from in the bar, the gunfire, the screams, or if there was enough wall between us to muffle it out. I was hoping for the latter since bars can be noisy and even though this was out at the edge of town, you still didn’t want to get a noise complaint. It tends to be bad for business, dirty cops or not.

I opened the door at the end of the bar, with gun at the ready, and started down the hallway. It was about 15 feet straight back with two doors at the end, one door to the right, the other on the left with an exit sign above it. The one on the left should lead to the outside parking lot, the one on the right either goes to a storage area or office.

As I got closer to the door, I could hear faint sounds coming from the other side. I couldn’t tell if it was laughter or crying in the beginning, but as I got closer I realized it was both, and it was two different people. I stopped at the door and listened, it was a man crying. It almost sounded like Raash, but the voice was too deep. I could hear him saying stop between the tears, and I knew it wasn’t him. The laughter was unmistakable, it was Kara. She had that special little laugh that always brought out the good in people. It made my heart swell with happiness that even through all this, she could find a way to laugh.

Reaching for the door, I slowly turned the knob, but it was locked. I turned the other way just in case, and to no avail. Suddenly the laughter stopped, and all I heard was a muffled scream. Someone was trying to be quiet and not heard.   I backed up, checked to make sure I had one in the chamber cause it was go time.   Just as I was about to kick the door in guns a blazing, there she was. Kara was standing holding the door open. “Marko! I knew you would come, I told Raash you would come!” she screamed as she ran towards me and hugged me tightly.

I hugged her back with one hand, the other holding my gun looking through the room. There was Raash, holding his hand over Lee’s mouth, Lee looked like he had been beaten half to hell and back, and against me with a huge grin was little Kara.   “Anyone else here Raash?” while looking around for anyone hiding. “Nah bro, we got this” he laughed through swollen gums, “Glad you could make it. I think you and Kara need to talk though” Nodding in agreement, I walked over to the couch and Kara followed. As I sit down, she plopped down on my knee and hugged me again. “Oh Marko! I knew you would save us!”

“Um, Kara?” puzzled by how this happened, “Something you wanna tell me chiclet?”

“Oh no, not really,” sounding innocent as a schoolgirl could be,” Mr. Lee heard the shots outside and tried to hit Raash again, and I told him no,” he said ‘whatcha gonna do about it little girl, cry to mommy?’ “And that made me sad” “Mommy is dead, and new Mommy is home scared” she said.

“Ok Kara, can you get to the part where Mr. Lee is tied up? How you two got out of it?”

“When I get sad, I get angry, when I get angry, I get quiet, and when I get quiet I remember” she said matter of factly.

“What exactly are you talking about chiclet”

“I remember when I was a little girl I played with boys all the time. We played fighting. We had to practice all the time. We had to keep quiet.”

“and”

“I am getting there silly” she continued, “we ran every day, we played fighting all the time. Master said one day I had to go cause I was not a boy, I didn’t know what he meant until Miss Aditi came and took me home. She told me I was not like the other boys that I was a little girl” Her smile turned to a frown as a tear rolled down her eye at the mention of Aditi’s name. “Miss Aditi said that if I stayed with the other boys bad things would happen and she was gonna take me to a new family where I had a brother, Rasheesh” she pointed to Raash and smiled,” a normal life where I could play with the flowers and be happy”

“I told her I was happy, and I wanted to keep play fighting with the boys” Kara looked down again and sadness overcame her, “Then it happened”

“What happened chiclet?” Holding her hand and trying to let her know it was okay, “what happened then”

“When we were leaving home for new home a big boom happened and the old home was gone, nothing but rubble and all the boys were dead.” The light in her eyes went to darkness, “Miss Aditi said that this is why I had to run away, cause bad people wanted all the boys who knew what I knew dead, that they couldn’t protect me anymore. I was sad and confused but Miss Aditi told me it would be ok and that it would be our secret, never to tell bubbish or anyone, but I know I can tell you cause you got the same mark as me!” and her smile came back brighter than before/

“What mark chicklet, what are you talking about?” This time I was the one who was confused as to what the hell was going on.   She leaned forward and raised her hair to show a mark on the top of her neck, it looked like a pudgy pile of something, and it had wings or flames going from the bottom to the top and three swastikas underneath. Not kind the Nazis used, but more ornate. I reached my hand to back of my neck and felt the slight raised mark, the same mark I had on the back of my neck that I too kept hidden under my hair. It had been so long I had forgotten it was there.

“See silly” Kara said, “I wasn’t always nice either” and she gave me a big hug and it came back, all of it came back.

Visions began to flood in, scenes of the once little Kara Fighting, rising to the top of her class, making the other boys angry. The Master calling them to the side and telling them that she is their ward to protect at all cost, no questions, she must be saved. They had already lost one child, the sister must live.

The visions were short lived because soon a ruckus was heard coming from the front, and I told everyone to hide, quickly and I pointed my gun at the door ready to shoot anything that came in. I heard a familiar voice yelling “Police! Kara, Raash, are you here?” I lowered my weapon as the only cop I ever trusted walked through the door. “Mark? You okay bud?” he asked, “Yeah dad, been a while, but yeah, I am ok”

27 December 2015 CF

 

All rights reserved, Clifton Fomby 2015

The sounds of nature…and dogs

This morning I awoke out of a decent nights sleep to the sound of birds chirping outside the window.  Begrudgingly my bones decided they would cooperate and off to take care of the morning disposal I went.

After all the morning business was taken care of, I decided to go sit on the porch for a bit and enjoy the sounds of nature, it has been a while since I did that.  I wanted to embrace the morning sun, the cool breeze and overall feeling of serenity.

On the way to put some things in the car the howls of a pack of hounds erupted.  Well there goes the peace.  Fortunately it was not very long till the sounds of a couple cows, a rooster and the rest of natures song makers took over and the wretched hows went back to their calm.

So here I sit awake before anyone else here, writing this small entry and sipping on some water. .

It is a good day, enjoy it.

When a customer writes you a letter…

I have been involved in customer service for over 20 years in one facet or another.  One thing that I have noticed is that when a customer sits down and writes a letter, not an email, not a survey card, but a letter then you need to stop whatever you are doing and pay attention.

Many times over my life I have gotten the phone call that “so and so did this” or “this employee was rude” and even a rare phone call giving kudos for an employee for a job well done.  These all dull in comparison to that hand written letter addressed not to “Department Manager” or “Owner” but to “Your name.”  Generally speaking this means that the person either knows who you are, or has taken the time to seek out who you are to ensure they are getting their point across.

I have received a handful of these letters, and the one that sticks out the most was one that was written on a blank piece of paper, nothing fancy, or as we call it now “copy” paper.  The letter was block style, written with exquisite handwriting, and signed with “best regards” and the persons name.

This letter was sent to me to tell me three things:

  1. The services we provided, or lack thereof was poor
  2. Our employees talked down to people like they were children
  3. A list of things we could do to improve

The first two points hit hard as I made it my personal mission in any job I have worked before, then, and now that customer service should be top notch.  Own your problems, own your solutions.  Even if you are mad at a customer, smile and talk through it.  When you hang up, scream, mumble, whatever, but always treat the customer right.  Let your steam off away from the customer and never make it, nor take it, personal.

The third point was well thought out.  Although I cannot remember it word for word, the basics were :

  • Listen – Listen to the whole complaint, not just what you think is important
  • Listen – Listen to the tone.  You can tell a lot about the passion or concern the customer has
  • Listen – Listen for what is not said.  Listen to what may be causing the problems
  • Communicate – Explain the problem back to the customer so that they know that you were listening (see above) and understand the problem.
  • Demonstrate – Show them not only did you understand the problem, but show them the steps you are going to take to resolve it
  • Appreciate – Appreciate the customer for what they are, your bread and butter.  There will be times when you can’t please everyone, but it should not be for a lack of trying.
  • Leave it at home – Have a bad problem at home, money tight, stressing over your family/friends/car/pet/whatever? Leave it at the door.  It doesn’t mean ignore these things, as they should have priority, but leave it at the door.  Focus on the customer, the job, the problem and the resolution.  If you can’t, then you need to be taking care of those problems first.
  • Never underestimate the customer – While most customers just want you to ‘make it work and leave’ there are some that have backgrounds that you may not be aware of.  Listen (see above) to the customer and take all considerations

The funny thing about this letter was that I was dreading reading it because so many times they were profanity laced, degrading, and just down right awful to read and I was prejudiced from the time I saw it.

Am I going to sit here and tell you that everything is sunshine and lollipops? No.  Am I going to tell you all customers are wrong? Not a chance.  What I am going to suggest is that next time you are dealing with a customer, thing about the points above.

On a side note, to all the folks who call in and have to deal with someone where you have purchased a product or service, remember they are human as well.  Think about where you work and what you go through before you cuss out a low level employee.  Again, not everything is sunshine and lollipops, but we are all human.

Until next time,

Peace

 

The Struggle

The Struggle

Screams through the silence
only heard by you
a smile across your face
never seen by you
Pain in your heart
never shown to others
the tears that drop
always on your shoulder
You are the rock
that supports them all
yet you are always tilting
You have built the wall
your inner rose is wilting
Helping them through rough times
all the time crashing
You are their to be tough
your heart is always aching
remember to take a breath
and remember to take that time
even if its a long bath
something to clear your mind
Find a way to express
the chaos in your head
let go of the mess
as you lay down in bed
shutting off your thoughts
even for a few hours
knowing the day you fought
you have to restore your power
no one seems to realize
that the show that you put on
there is a dull behind your eyes
and never do you let on
always hiding behind the mask
fearing to reveal the truth
too many knives in the back
ever since your youth
you finally fall asleep
the mind has grown weary
tomorrow you internally weep
as another day you have buried

 

If you have read this far down, first I would like to thank you.  Millions of people everyday struggle with depression, suicidal thoughts, and feelings that they feel like no one else can comprehend.

It has been said  that “There were not that many people depressed back in my day” or “It’s all in your head”  Sadly, only one of these are true.  Depression has been around for centuries, it was just hidden or not spoken of.   It was not ‘manly’ to speak of the internal struggle.  It was considered the quiet conversation that was kept in whispers or not had at all.

Remember, you are not alone in the struggle. There are helplines available 24/7.  Chat rooms. Please, if you need help, ask.  Sometimes the stranger on the other end of that phone or keyboard can be the difference between life and death.  You are not alone.  You are special.

Dreams… nightmares… one in the same sometimes

Last night I had a number of dreams, most involving my father.  There was so much joy, then sadness as the realization kept coming back that he was not here and would not be there when I awoke.

Several times in several different scenarios I came across my father either by me walking into a room or him coming back home.  I held him so tight and we both cried.  We held each other for what seemed hours and then went back to normal conversations.  Never did we ask why it had been so long, where he’d been, just that he was back.

When I finally awoke, my day was met with sadness.  I will try it better, I will do my level best, but deep inside the pain is still there.

Dreams and nightmares have the same source, your mind, your thoughts, your memories and your imagination.  Tomorrow would have been my father’s 71st birthday and today I sit here writing this, I would much rather be preparing for a party or a dinner, instead I sit here with a heavy heart and trying to remember the good times we shared during the 21 years, 8 months, 28 days that we shared together

Always in my heart, always in my thoughts.

Dreams of a … painful memory

Last night I felt like crud, something was off and I just couldn’t figure out what it was.  My knee was hurting, as it has for the past week, my back was sore and I was tired.  I was tired both physically and mentally and that was the only thing I could think of that would give me this ‘off’ feeling, yet deep in the back forty of my mind I knew it was something else, but I could just not place my finger on it.

I finally fell asleep only to be plagued of a bad memory that happened 21 years ago.  My father died in front of me last night repeatedly.  When my father passed in 1993, he was gone before I ever saw him.  I knew when he was being carried out that he was gone, although I didn’t want to believe it and I wanted to hold onto a slim chance of hope that he was going to pull through, deep down I knew.

During the night I saw him close his eyes over and over and over again and die.  No matter how my dreams drifted after falling asleep again, it always went back to the same room, to the same bed, to the same scene.

I know I have bad times of the year, March (his birthday) or November (his passing) or any other time that I am reminded and in a bad mood anyway, but last night was one of the worse that I can recall.  I woke up with tears from both the pain in my bones and the pain in my heart.

Those who know me casually know I let very few things bother me, it will just roll of my back, those who know me a little more realize I am deep with emotion and thought, and the very few who truly know me, know that I am a basket case.

Today I truly dream of a better tomorrow (or in my case a better nights dream tonight)

Now, as I sign off to call my momma just to hear her voice, I wish upon you all to do the same.  Call your family while you can, while you can hear their response to you.  I am going to take a moment before I hit the send button on my phone so that I can mask the emotional trainwreck and get it back on the schedule it needs to be.

 

Peace to all