Saturday, November 22, 2014

Graeme Brown (An introduction to a novel I am considering) Part 2


Blink.
Blink.
Blink.


I woke in chains lying beneath a small window beside a yellow dingy painted cement wall. Everything was hard in this room; the walls, the ceiling, an even the air. I took an inventory of myself; something I learning in track in high school. To maintain calm and stability, you must always look inward and assess what is inside of you vs. what hurts. I noticed my back first. How long have I been laying on this cement floor with my hands cuffed? My head spoke up and I felt the throbbing pain under my eye, then my wrists, that were caked in old blood from the cuffs.

But the worst; my stomach. I remembered that everything I have ever loved on this earth was gone. I crumbled.

...


I was sent catatonic to several jails over the next few weeks. One interrogation after another. No one got what they wanted because I wasn't there. I was somewhere between existence and hell, trying to remember the sound of my daughter's voice or my wife's laugh.

My son used to worry about things that no one else would worry about. He would tremble at the color of the sky or the feeling of butterflies in his stomach and think the worst. I used to tell him it came from his mom, but it was all me. When I was only 5 or 6, I used to worry about nuclear war. It was irrational, but the threat existed and I couldn't let that go.

I laid on the floor of each cell I visited, refusing to take the mat. I voided in my pants and let myself fester. Guards beat me and tried to force me to speak. They would offer me food and I would nod in the negative. They would force it into my mouth and press it into my esophagus with their fingers down my throat. I got skinny. I stunk. I was revolting.

This went on for months with no words from my mouth. Then one day, a postal worker came in to drop off some mail. She walked past me on the floor and cringed at what she saw in front of her. She buried her nose in her armpit and walked past me, leaving behind the most beautiful scent I have smelled in my entire life. She wore the perfume that my wife wore when we met. A perfume that she gave my daughter to wear when playing dress-up. All at once, I was enraged. My senses returned as a lion stalking prey. I became aware. I was still alive and so were the people that did this to my family. The latter must be remedied.

I continued to lay there, but I still wasn't me. I was a monster, but a practical one. I thought logical and also disgusting thoughts about revenge. I went mad. Every day the guard would open the cell and place my tray on the table and I wouldn't eat it. Every day, he got a little less concerned with me actually being in the room and able to harm him.

On the 67th day when the cell opened and the guard turned his back to place another tray on the table, I sprung to life. I grabbed him by his throat and threw him against the wall, following with my elbow to his teeth, relieving him from his ability to eat. This man had forced food down my throat, so I forced my hand, then wrist down his throat. I stood there still as he couldn't even gasp for air; with only my forearm visible protruding from his mouth. He died within moments. I watched the life leave his eyes. I saw first anger, then fear, then longing, then emptiness. I took his keys and freed my hands. He was dead.

I stood for some time in that open cell looking at my hand. I had been a minister of God for many years. What did this mean that I took a man's life like this? It didn't take me long to remember that smell and my beautiful family.


I rushed out of the cell and into the hallway. At the end of the hallway were two doors. I took the one to the right and found a room full of police looking bewildered at me. They drew their batons. I would have thought they would have drawn their guns. The first led with a blow to my right arm, sending a crushing pain throughout my body. I countered with a left hook, dropping him to the ground sleeping. I grabbed his baton and moved toward my next obstacle. I ducked under a baton and came up with a blow that smashed the eye of a young looking guard. My next swing would find purchase in the temple of the police captain and the next the nose of his lieutenant. I drew blood all over the room and didn't suffer another single blow.

I stood in the center of the room filled with sleeping policemen, again all alone. I missed my wife again at this moment. I took a moment to breath and shake off my fear and exited the front door of the building.

I got outside and the sun was brighter than I had seen in months. In fact, "I hadn't seen the sun in months," I thought. I was blinded by the warmth and the white light that closed my pupils. I was free. Then everything went black with a sudden and paralyzing blow to my head...a sand filled bullet. I found myself with my mouth touching the cement and went black again with a blow to the back of my head.

I woke in a cell. I took an inventory.  My head, my face, my right arm, and my stomach. My stomach still hurt the worst. I looked around me and saw only angry faces in my cell. At least 5 or 6 of them looking at me. One guy spit on my face when he saw me open my eyes. There were bars and the same dingy yellow painted walls all around me. But this time I wasn't in chains.

A guard came to the cell door and called out "Kerr," and the prisoner moved to the gate. I could hear the sound of people cheer in the distance and looked at the face of the man being taken from the cell down the hall. Moments later, the crowd would cheer and the loud voice would pierce the air and then silence. "Kerr" would never return to the cell.

Three days later, while laying on the floor of my cell, a guard would shout "Brown." He would shout my name three times before I recognized I was still this man. I would reach the gate and take one step after another until I stepped into the sunlight.

It was absolutely beautiful at first. I let myself absorb the warmth I had missed for so long. I opened my eyes to the sound of the loud piercing voice. I let my eyes adjust to an arena full of people cheering and nothing but black concrete separating me from a very large man standing 100 yards from me. The crowd cheered a name, "Blood, Blood, Blood, Blood, Blood!" Blood stood in front of me spitting out a full goblet of red fluid he had just taken in upon arrival to the arena.

We both stood looking at each other and then the horn sounded.







Sing.
Migrate.




Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, November 17, 2014

Graeme Brown (An introduction to a novel I am considering) Part 1


There was a horrific explosion. The entire city of Chicago set on fire as it's inhabitants ran aimlessly through the streets. Some were covered in blood and others cradling their children. All of them covered in soot. I was a little child then. I was playing in the park with my mom that sat on a nearby bench, watching my every move. I remember thinking that it was so rude to stare, and yet this was her habit whenever I was any distance from her at all. There were three of us on the tire swing being pushed in circles by one of their fathers. We were laughing because of the feeling we all got in our stomach's when this kid's dad really applied himself and pushed us hard. I would close my eyes and feel the wind pass through my hair. It was a moment of peace.

Then the boom and the crash and the flash of every bright color. The noise was too loud to be distinguishable. My ears started ringing and I couldn't  hear anything over it. I sat swinging for a moment, looking over my shoulder to the inferno that was my home. I hadn't even noticed that the swing had slowed and no one was there to push us anymore. I had a sister that went to school in the city...the one that is on fire. My mother grabbed me from the swing and we ran toward the place that everyone was running from.

We got two blocks before I felt the heat from the fires. It got so hot that we had to stop moving forward. People were burned badly and bleeding. One woman was offering us a taste of her bread and held her empty and charred hands to our faces. A mother holding her legless little girl stopped to ask us if we had seen her daughter. My mother said no, but covered my eyes. Then we saw this old woman. She was walking away from the rubble calmly and without damage or expression. She wore clothes that looked like my 1st grade history book pictures. She wore a bonnet and large dress with fray and frills all around the bottom. She walked past us speaking under the noise to no one in a different language. She walked past us and into the dust cloud behind us. My mother didn't even look at her, but I watched her disappear into the soot and ash silently as if she were a fish that poked it's head up out of the sea and retreated back into the deep.

The fog cleared and the rubble was removed. 2 million people were estimated to have died. There was never a count, the fire had done too much damage to decipher identities. People moved out of Illinois. This was the only city in American history to burn down twice. People began to get the hint. Rumors began to spread that connected the two fires. The first was rumored to be started by a meteor, despite the official cause to be a cow that kicked over a lantern in a barn. The second was rumored to be aliens or even the devil. "There was something about that city," they would say. "The entire city is the gateway to hell."

People grew hysterical and the government has always been comprised of opportunists. They used the fear to control everyone. After-all, it couldn't have been a lantern this time.

They came up with the idea of a plan that never existed and fed it to the people of the entire world. The plan? The government knew how this happened and only they knew how to fix it. Safety was focused on reliance of the government for information and action. The people got no information, but they got plenty of action. The new American government routinely launched missiles into cities and decimated millions. They would then explode their own missiles in the air to show the world that they were winning the war against whomever was fighting us. One lie leads to other lies.

My name is Graeme Brown. I have a wife named Elizabeth and a daughter named Reagan. This will be my last entry into this diary. For those beyond the sun, fight until all glimmer of hope is gone. Fight until there is nothing left.


The Beginning.

I sat in my living room with Reagan, William, and Elizabeth. I pulled out a board game earlier in which we are now at a stalemate. Reagan looks at me to concede as usual. She is competitive like me and has grown accustomed to me losing to her. I smile. Elizabeth drinks a sip of wine and stares into the fire that dances under the brick mantle. Reagan moves her last piece into a bad position that would usually make me gasp in bewilderment and act as if she got me. This time, I smiled. I made my last move and she has fallen. She looks at me surprised. She isn't used to losing. She says, "Did I lose?" "Yes," I say. Her eyes tear up and she looks away from me.

As a child I was accustomed to losing everything. I was small for my age and not very smart. I always took the chance and ended up defeated and laughed at. This drove me to the point of insanity. If there were something I couldn't do, I would embarrass myself until I could. I was always a loser in the great contest of life. But these two people were my only and greatest conquest. I achieved true love; the kind that loves you back. Reagan whimpered and whined at me for a moment and then sat on my lap and buried her face into my chest. Liz just looked at me as though she knew I was being manipulated again by this irresistible child. Reagan was a daddy's girl. We sat and read a book aloud. Reagan had gotten quite good at reading, so she led the story tonight. She read while we corrected her and she read more until the door busted open.

Soldiers rushed in, subduing the three of us with machine guns. I asked important questions, but they would not answer. They stood us all up in a circle, looking at each other. Reagan's eyes were full of fear. They were full of asking me to save her. Elizabeth only looked at Reagan. "Graeme Brown?" "Me, that's me, what do you want?" I say. The first of the three guards snickers at me and says, "We want her," then pointed to my wife.  They held us down with their guns. They raped her and shot her in the head when they were done. William, my son, just a teenager rushed toward them, competitively like his father. They hot him with their guns until I could no longer recognize him and I watched the rise and fall of his chest halt. They stood me up, still in front of Reagan. I tried to hold myself back to save my daughter. I stood up straight and let my guts bleed from within. They asked me again, "Are you Graeme Brown?" I said, "yes." The soldier that held on to Reagan then threw her into the fire place that burned hotter to me than the day I watched the second Chicago fire. I pushed forward to meet the stock of a gun and went to sleep.










Sing.
Migrate.



Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, November 16, 2014

People


There are so many people. We pass people every day and never even notice their existence. How sad is it that no one notices that you are alive. I think that is why people like me write and post on social media. The same for those that take selfies and troll for the anger in people. We all want to be recognized as something different. We want to stand out and be noticed. It really is a simple concept of human need. We need to be acknowledged.

We need a reminder that we aren't just breathing, but also affecting the breathing of someone else. Some want to see goodness come from others and others want to see the worst.

I've learned something as a nurse. Some people want to kill your insides. Many are so sick that terrorizing the very people keeping them alive is the only control they get to have. They are awful sometimes and you want to give up. I want to give up sometimes. I often wonder if I made a good choice in being a nurse. I didn't know that so many would disrespect the people that keep their hearts beating end up covered in their body fluids.

I am a man.

I have an ego.

I respect myself.

Vs.

I have compassion.

I want to understand.

I want to actually help you

I want to be noticed too, like everyone else. The problem is that most of our good deeds are done in private. I had a patient berate and curse me, then while gasping for air, ask for help from me. Then I realized that people react to situations differently when in fear. Fear makes some hate others and react in anger. Fear can also produce sincerity and vulnerability.

For some, both at the same time. This makes it easy for others to forget that we are all human. When I am in pain, I forget anyone around me and focus on myself. In consequence, I will forget that people are serving me and want me to be well and happy.


To forget that the people you see everyday or that serve you is the same as presenting yourself as better than them.

We all live and we all die. Treat everyone with love.







Sing.
Migrate.




Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, November 10, 2014

Happiness...


Everyone has a right to be happy. I don't believe this is an American thought or a Western thought. I believe this is a universal right. We were born with the right to happiness. No one was born to experience misery. Unfortunately, misery is the human condition. People will find a way to ruin every kind of people. We are inherently evil with small flickers of hope and beauty.

I can sit in judgement of all of the sinners in the world. I can try to justify my judgement by telling you about the times I have helped someone or done something beautiful. But in doing so, I omit the stories of jealousy, anger, greed, and dishonesty to name a few. In the end, we aren't as awesome as we like to think we are. Taking an honest look at yourself breeds an honest guilt that we need to improve our lives.

So how does one achieve happiness in a world so dark?


I don't know.


The answer may be different for everyone. I believe God is the answer ultimately. However, faith and love for God does not always breed happiness. Some believe and lay prostate at the feet of God Himself, but weep every morning at the thought of getting out of bed. People that love God lose people that they love. They still have cruel dreams of being reunited, then to be awakened by reality, and emptiness.


I think the point is to keep moving forward. I've never found anything but tears looking behind me. I take pride in where God has lead me and the strength He has given me to overcome some terrible things. But when I look back, it hurts and puts me back there. The point is to move forward. God never promised us happiness in this flesh, but eternity and peace. Sometimes I have peace and other times, when I am looking backwards, I lose that peace.


I remember laying on a dryer as a kid. I was scared of everything. I was uncomfortable all of the time and didn't understand what I was feeling. It felt cold and hopeless and empty. I would later understand this to be loneliness. I would make it a habit to lay on the warmth of the dryer as it hummed me to sleep. I didn't know I was missing anything, just thought that life was a bit sad.


This is a world full of skepticism and fear of the unknown. A lot happened and I was at the bottom point of my life at 19 years old. I discovered answers when I sincerely asked for them. I spent a week in shambles, battling my anger against this brand new feeling of hope. This single thought was the turning point of the war... I remembered my time on that dryer, crying for no reason as a little kid. But this time, I remembered it with my God present and crying too. It's cheesy and strange, but it was real. The feeling was so real that I didn't feel alone anymore. I had been pursuing happiness, and found part of the answer. I needed to realize that I wasn't alone.


The problem is that I still need to realize that I'm not alone. I think that's a choice you make as an adult. I look at my family and there God is. He's brought all of the warmth there. Then I take my eyes off and look back and find emptiness and a connection to that emptiness. It's like loneliness is a person that was always there for me. It makes it hard to leave I think.


It was my only friend.



Sing.
Migrate.



Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Absent (A short film script)



So the tears started to fall, and she could do nothing.

She asks him: When was the last time you cried.

He says: I don't think I have ever cried.

She: Then how do you know how?


He: It wasn't as if I didn't feel anything. The reality of the situation is clear to me. We lost everything. We have nothing. Just a few bricks, and nothing else. The fire that once lit up our eyes is gone. I saw the dirt scatter onto the box just like she did. I just can't make myself expressive. She has sat on that chair for years weeping. She cries all night long. She yells at me because all I can do is stare out the window. Go to the pier and sit. I feel everything, I can hardly even breathe. But what is sitting around wailing all day going to help me? I was in the park the other day looking up at planes as they began to land. It occurred to me that everyone is going somewhere. It brings me comfort, like this cigarette. I know my boy is going somewhere and I hope it is no where near here. I don't want to be anywhere near here..........


She: I wear his ring, but hate every inch of his miserable body. We used to laugh and now I feel nothing. Absolutely nothing. This is his fault. I tried. I gave this family everything I have and he never even blinked an eye at me. I wept for him and he covered his face. He hid himself from me. Disconnected when I needed someone...I needed him. He was long gone. He slept in my bed, but lived far away from here.

She: Where did you go? Where are you?


He: I'm in hell. It's like I am stuck in this endless repeating loop that never gets better, and I can never wake up.


She: Do you ever think about me?


He: I can't even see him anymore. I don't remember what he smelled like or what his laugh sounds like. I can only think of that.


She: Do you remember what my laugh sounds like? We used to laugh all the time. You would do that stupid Jerry Seinfeld impression and no one would laugh but me. It was horrible, the worst I had ever seen, but it made me laugh every time. Remember that dance you did when you put your arms out like an idiot and swayed your neck back and forth? I miss you. More than I miss him, I miss you.

The guy: What is you best memory of your son?


He: We used to punch each other in the face. Not hard, well at least mine weren't hard. We would fight. He was the only boy, so I felt I needed to make him tough. He was a sensitive kid like his mom. Every time, it ended with him crying and she would yell at me that I didn't know my own strength. Then one Sunday when he came out of Sunday school he gave me this picture and it was a kind of a stick figure drawing of him on my shoulders. He made me so big and strong, and he was so little on top of me......


She: He used to sit and play with my hair...for as long as I would let him. He loved me so much. He was just like me. He had such a big heart. And a smart mind. He used to say he has smart stuff all over his brain. But every time he got hurt, which was all the time, he would scream for mom. I hated to see him cry, but loved that he called out to me.


The guy: When was the last time you two have spoken about him? 


She: About 20 years ago. I mentioned that it would have been his 40th birthday. He just started staring out the window again. It has been 48 years since he started staring out that window and he has never stopped. I don't know what he sees out there, but he has missed everything in here...

The guy: What is the thing you most have in common?


He: Him

The guy: Do you still love her?


He: I do. More than I could ever have the courage to tell her. She looks at me like it was all my fault, I feel like I can't give her anything that would repay for what I did.

The guy: Do you feel like it was your fault?


He: All he ever did was watch me. I was a wreck, nowhere near the man I was supposed to be. Nowhere near who she thought I was. I just couldn't be that man. I don't have it in me, inside I have only myself and every memory I ever made with him. I don't want to live, and I don't want to die. I just don't want to feel anything. I am afraid of living the rest of my life in my own flesh and I am afraid to face God knowing He has seen who I am; Knowing all that He has given me was wasted and lost on me. 

The guy: Do you think he went to heaven?


She: Oh, I know he did.


He: If there is a heaven, and I believe there is. I have to. It was made for kids like him.

The guy: What happened immediately following the loss of your son?

He: I sat in the grass with my suit on, pretending he was sitting on my lap. I was holding his head and swaying back and forth to the rhythm of the wind through the trees. I refused for years to believe he was gone, that he was actually not right here with me laying on my chest. I couldn't get the smell of his hair out of my nostrils, I couldn't stop feeling his hand running through my hair. I lost any resemblance of who I knew myself to be. I am not that guy anymore. I took so many chances with things that were too important to risk and I lost everything. I have nothing. Absolutely nothing.

The Guy: Do you feel you still have your wife?

He: I checked out years ago. We are separate. We coexist, but we both have nothing but hatred for me.

She: I never hated you! Never once did I ever blame you for anything but leaving. Ever. All I ever wanted...needed, was for you to be there to lift me up and lead. But you left me all alone with this. You didn't shed one tear for me, you just left. You sat at the table, and paid all of the bills but were married to something else. You were married to your misery, like it was some kind of person or something. You refused to let it go, and fell deeply and madly in love with your own sadness. Do you see how awful that sounds?

The Guy: Why do you think you are here?

He: If there is even a little chance of saving whatever might be left, I have to take it. She wanted to come, so I came.

She: For 48 years, all I have ever wanted was you. I have been praying that you would change and wake up. But you never did. I have always loved you. I may hate you now, but have always desired nothing but you. I meant it when I said my vows, and you just left yours at the grave. Wake up. There is nothing going on outside that window of yours. Everyone is living the same life we are in here. Wake up.

The Guy: Who are you? Define yourself.

She: I am his wife forever. I am a mother and I am a widow as far as I can tell.

He: I don't know what I am. I am sorry, and that's all I really know. I am sorry I let you down. I am sorry I can't shake this. I am sorry I pissed on everything God has given me. I am sorry I have squandered everything. I am sorry I have wasted my life. I just don't want to be me. I cannot define who I am because I don't know what I am. There is no definition for a man who loves so deeply he can no longer feel it. There is no word for a guy like that.

The Guy: Why can't you tell that to her? 

He: She doesn't get it. She will never understand because I don't. She is normal and I don't know what that feels like anymore. I will give her anything she asks, but I don't know how to give her what is inside of me. I just breathe in and out, then move to the next one. I have never been good with words or with gestures. I have never been emotionally forthcoming. It isn't me. Right now, I don't know what to say to her. Just because tears aren't pouring from my eyes every day, doesn't mean I'm alive at all inside. I died the day we dropped dirt on that little box. I swear, if I knew how to, I would be everything she wants me to be.

She: I just want you to be the man I married. Nothing more, nothing less. I don't even expect progress, I just want this man back. 

He: I never left. 

She: But you do nothing but stare out that window.

He: You know why I stare out that window? I am looking for him. I look for him in every kid I see out there playing in the snow. I see him in all of the kids riding their bicycles. I look out there because I can't stand what is going on in here. Siege. Loss. Despair. The pain is so intense that sometimes I think I want to end everything right here. I have to look outside at the birds and the sway in the trees and remember that there is something out there worth living for.

She: I am not worth living for?

He: You aren't you either. You look at me different. We both know I am to blame. We both know that if I weren't so stubborn...

She: Never. For one moment, did I ever blame you for losing him. I blame you for for losing you too. What do you have left?

He: I don't know.

She: That won't do.

He: I feel empty.

The guy: How do you...

He: Shut up!

She: Shut Up!!!

She: You have to fight for us.

He: I am here. Right here. Right now. I remember everything. The way we met, the way we held each other. I can remember the first time we kissed, and to you it seemed like forever, and to me it was torture resisting. It was so hard to control myself. The feelings I had were so intense. I knew you were it. I knew you were the one. From the first time I met you, I knew it. I would have married you on our first date. I would marry you again right now.

She: Do you still feel the same way? Do you still love me? 

He: I do. I am torn apart, but the one thing I have left is you. The most important part.

She: Than maybe we can start there. Do it all over again. Maybe we can make a family again, free from the guilt and shame. Just you and me.

He: I would love that.






5 Years later....








"He sleeps all day. He might get up at noon to pee, then right back to sleep until he wakes to patrol the night. He stares out the window until we go to bed, then God knows what. I get up and go into the living room and he is gone. I check the basement and the garage and he is gone. At some point, he makes it into the bed undetected, but is missing for all intents and purposes from my life. I have fought for him and he swears he is just walking." "Where to?" I ask. "No answer. Nothing from him. Then a couple weeks later, he gets arrested. He gets picked up for stopping traffic, on foot, with nothing abnormal in his blood. They told him to get help. So I did. I signed for him to be evaluated and committed. I was called the same day to come and get him. When I get there, the doctor tells me he sees nothing wrong with him at all, maybe just a panic attack or something. Said he was eloquent. Eloquent? Really? He spoke eloquently? He won't even look at me in the eyes."

The Guy: "Why are you here?"


She- "What? I am here to petition the court to commit my husband. He needs help. I love him very much, but he needs help. Our son died and he died with him. I just want to know if there is any hope left that he might still be the same person I married someday. Do you think he can come back?"


The Guy: "I think anything is possible. I have seen the worst cases come back with their families to see me happier than they have ever seen. If anything, I believe in hope. There is always that light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is distant and dim."


She- "That's what I told him last time I went to see him."


The Guy: "Where did you go to see him?"


She- "At the hospital. I forgot to tell you, the courts did put him away for good...they say. I don't know about the permanence of his sentence, but he is safe from himself and is getting his mind stabilized." 


The Guy: "Do you know what caused him to lose his mind?"


She- "It was definitely the loss of our son many years ago. He never recovered. It was his fault. He killed him on a four wheeler. He always took risks and I always yelled at him to stop and he never listened."


The Guy: "When did you last see your husband?"


She- "Seems like a hundred years ago. I think it might have been in 1988?" "I went to see him at the hospital. They said he was having a bad day...said they couldn't get a response from him, but I disagree. I spoke with him and tried to explain how sick he was and that he would get better soon. He just needed to hold my hand and close his eyes. He needed to remember that he still has me. He squeezed my hand."


The Guy: "Where are we right now?


She- "At his court hearing...trying to figure out if he can come home. Why do you ask?"


The Guy: "Do you blame yourself for your son's death?"


She- "No, why?"


The Guy: "Where are we right now...this second...look around."


She scans the room. She sees a door with a window. She sees a table in front of her. She sees a pack of cigarettes in front of her. She sees a picture of a family drawn by a child in crayon on the wall. She sits confused.


The Guy: "Where are we?"


She- "I don't know. I don't know!"


The Guy: "Did you run over your son?"


She- "No! He did!"


The Guy: "Why are we here?"


She- "Because he killed him! He killed my baby!" He needs help right now! Right now!"


The Guy: "That's all for today. You have made some progress. I will be back next week to check on you."

She leaves the office as the lights dim from golden to pale yellow, leaving the guy sitting alone in a chair. The lines on the wooden paneling shift to widen their territory. The wood thickens to plaster, then stone painted with a off white color. The light that squeezed through the openings of the closed blinds filled with a deafening roar of horrible screams and weeping. He looks down at his hands as they shake the black and white composition notebook with a coffee stain on the cover. He makes a fist with his off hand in an attempt to subdue the tremors. The lights are getting darker and his gaze fixes to the floor that was just carpeting moments ago. His face hits the cold cement floor and he falls asleep next to the medicine cup lying upside down next to his lunch tray that has been dumped with the lunch that it had served. 




Sing.
Migrate.



Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, November 3, 2014

Something Out of the Ordinary


He takes the paperweight off of the pile of while-you-were-out pink slips. Jerry Schessinger, Bob White, Terry Mcgillicutty, Barry Horrowitz............ He sets the paper weight back down on top of Alex Boomhouser after hours of returning phone calls from his weekend in the woods. He opens his file cabinet and takes out his lunch box and opens it. He takes out a banana, a ham and cheese sandwich, a little bag of carrots, and a granola bar. He eats while watching his Microsoft screensaver change photos from a mountain range to a forest then to the earth taken from astronauts on the moon. He drops a bit of mustard on his tie and wipes it with the kerchief in his blazer breast pocket.

After lunch, John puts away the lunchbox and wipes off his desk and brushes crumbs off of his slacks. He spins his chair around and takes a look out of his high rise office window onto the city of New York. He watches a woman run through Central Park and she appears to be shouting or singing while she runs. He sees an old man that has the appearance of his late father buying a hot dog. He grins when the guy hands the dog back and it returns a little more yellow. He looks for a moment at the bum by the fountain talking to himself and asking people for things. He looks away because bums disgust him.

There was something about those woods that was throwing him off. He couldn't concentrate. He didn't do anything really exciting while he was there. He just sat on the wooden chair on the little porch and watched birds feed their kids and mosquitos suck out his blood.

But right now, he can only think about the way the wind felt on his face just before that huge storm blew in over the weekend. He could only see the leaves blow right off of their branches and stick to his face.

He swivels his chair back around and picks up the paperweight. Mr. Boomhauser gets a return call. "Mr. Boomhauser, this is John Danks giving you a call back. Sorry I missed you, what can I do for you?" "Call me Boomer John, only my mother in law adds the hauser, but she's a nasty old bird," says Boomer. "You rented a cabin from me last weekend," he says. "Yeah?" says John. "You left your things here. Seems like all of your things. You left your phone, a full suitcase of clothes, and your toothbrush," Boomer says. John looks at the picture of the Grand Canyon on his computer screen and tries to remember packing his bags to leave the cabin. He can't. "Geez Mr. Boom.....Boomer, I don't know what happened, can you send them to me?" he asks. Boomer tells him, "Sorry buddy, no post office around here. Your gonna have to come and get them. No hurry though, got no one on the books for the cabin." "Ok, I'll be there next weekend. Sorry again, I don't know what happened," says John.

They hang up and John sits bewildered. Did he even remember grabbing his keys and driving home? How did he not take his things, especially his phone. He has never forgotten his phone. John shakes off the confusion and grabs the next little pink slip of paper. Andrea Porter's phone rings her at her desk. She answers, "Andrea, Vandersloot communications, how can I help you?" "This is John Danks, Danks something or other incorporated? Maybe Danks people pusher company? What do I do? Where do I work?" John shakes his head as if trying to clear the confusion, but he can't. Where do I work? "Hello? John? This is Andrea Porter, I called because I wanted to change my shipment information. We've had a snag in our supplier.."Wait! Just wait," says John. "Who do I work for?" She says, "McMillon, Shister, and Pollup, why?" "Oh...." John sits there as Andrea talks on and on about orders and shipments and invoices. John looks at his computer screen and sees a picture of a volcano erupting and for some reason starts thinking about the trees up north swaying back and forth. He blanked out for a moment then says, "I gotta go Andrea, I forgot my suitcase."

John hangs up abruptly and takes the stairs down 49 floors to the lobby and out the front door. He runs to the curb of the street looking for a cab that isn't there. He waits and waits getting even more confused that there are no cabs in New York right now. He sits down on the ledge of the fountain when he noticed his aching legs. He sits down right next to Old Tom Crow from the Old Time Medicine Show, at least that was how he introduced himself. John knew exactly who he was. That bum that asks and never gives. He sat looking forward for a cab while Old Tom Crow talked about trains and ex-wives. He would keep giving John excuses for why he was so dirty that made John grin a few times. "I was playing football in the park with my billionaire friends and got blindsided by the former New York Jets linebacker Rogers Alexander," he would tell John. John just half listened and half shouted obscenities in his head waiting for a cab to save him from this guy.

Old Tom Crow grabbed John's arm insistently. John was shocked out of his daze and actually made eye contact. He looked right through the man. He had the most beautiful blue eyes hidden behind all of that dirt. Tom told him, "The wind will only blow when you allow it." John sat stunned as a cab pulled to the corner. Tom then said, "The missiles will drop from Antartica because they are due north and we are due south without a paddle."

He got up and looked at Tom one more time and got into the cab. He watched the hot dog man give an old Jewish man a hot dog and then refuse the man's money, waving his hand to the Jewish guy and smiling. We kept driving for a minute before he heard the driver asking in a loud voice, "Where to!" John told him...,"Upstate."

...

He got out of the cab and paid the man. He was sure this was the address of the place he had stayed. He had it memorized...1900 Wilderness Road. This was where he was. Right? There was only a small tent in the place he had stayed in a log cabin. He didn't understand what was happening, but he saw that old wooden chair and let the cab go home with the rest of his cash.

He walked around and the place was familiar, but not a perfect replica of last weekend. The trees were the same and the fire pit still held the partially burnt whiskey bottle he threw in it. The cabin was gone and his things were not in the tent. He found only a pillow and sleeping bag, some canned beans and opener, and a note from Old Tom Crow. He said, "Let it in."

So he did.

He had nothing on him. He fished for food and actually caught a squirrel in a snare he had learned to make from Bear Grylls. He forgot about missed messages for a moment and just sat in that chair and let the wind pass over him for a while. Maybe for just a few minutes, John could get some peace. He closed his eyes and all at once remembered what he had forgotten. He had forgotten his wife.

She was dead.

He remembered that she had died a few months ago maybe in the city while being mugged. "How could he forget?" he thought. His stomach dropped and he remembered the terror of that night and the tears at her funeral. All of the sudden, John remembered he had lost everything and he damned the fire to hell. He damned the leaves and the wind. May the entire world suffer the fruits of the devil himself. John began to scream and rock on that rocking chair. He shouted awful things and shook his fists into the air. He cursed the day he was born and threw punches into the air. He wore himself out with grief. It may have taken hours, but John was now exhausted and began to cry.

He cried the rest of his energy out and laid his head to his knees... then silence. A few minutes later the wind began to blow. It threw the leaves all over and onto his face. It made the leaves dance and struggle to hold on to their branches. The wind blew the rocking chair backward and forward again. John remembered the cabin as if it were that tent. All of the sudden it all made sense. He met her here.

They met at camp in this cabin. He was shy and awkward and she was broken and starving for someone to love her. She approached him. He had never been approached by a girl so pretty. They would date, then marry, then be separated by death.

The tent. It was all he had left. It reminded him that there was once a cabin here and for at least a moment, he was the king of that little wooden shack.

John realized that life was still beautiful. She wasn't gone completely. She was all around him in her own way. He just needed to let the wind blow around him. He closed his eyes and let her breathe on his face.

John remembered what he had always chosen to forget.




Sing.
Migrate.








Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Marriage


I do have the tendency to speak negatively. I've seen my share of reasons to think this way. I've witnessed horror. I so often write about my failures on this blog.

However.

This is what keeps me believing in pure beauty. This is why God exists for me.

Every weekend for at least one of the two nights, Laura and I sit in the basement, have some drinks, and talk about everything there is to talk about. We make time for each other. I think the very thing that fails marriages is the lack of effort to be alone with each other. I have failed at so many things, but I take pride in my marriage. We both value each other and the time we spend together. There are a lot of tearful things I could say about my wife saving me, but I'll save that for another day. Today I'll focus on what keeps us excited all week for the weekend.

1. We never go to bed mad...ever. We get it out. We may scream and shout and turn red faced, but we let it go.
2. We don't keep records of wrongs. We don't just keep bringing up old things every time we get mad. When we forgive, we forgive. Some things resurface, but we stomp them before they surface.
3. We know that each other has parts that are broken.We don't push on the painful places. We are always listening for signs of them getting worse, but we don't try to change each other. We listen and we pray. When I look at my wife, I see no judgement. We know why each other makes chronic mistakes.
4. We celebrate and mourn together. I won't speak much on this. Laura has done too much for me to even try to explain.
5. Money isn't everything. We care, but don't. We live modestly and spend our money on the people that stand to reap the greatest benefit...our kids. We spare no cost in their activities. We just want to give them a chance. Nothing will bring two people together more than cheering together when their daughter wins gold in skating or their son scores the only run in the little league all star game.
6. We don't undermine each other. Sometimes we make mistakes and let the kids manipulate us, but we try hard to be on the same page. In parenting, you are in this together for the long haul, so you should have the same goals. If not, compromise and stand with each other.
7. We do not stray. We have both received compliments and propositions from other people. We walk away every time. We have more than enough in each other. There is simply no life apart from each other. Any idea that there is something better on the other side is a lie and we both know it. We know the other will not betray our trust.
8. We listen. We have disagreements and strong opinions. We don't disregard the other's feelings or outlook. We listen and think. We may still disagree, but we do so in mutual respect, knowing the other understands where we are coming from.
9. We trust. Laura doesn't have to ask my opinion before she makes a decision that effects the whole family. She has proven herself to be smart and capable of running our house. That being said, we try to make big decisions together to give the other an avenue to speak their mind.
10. We Never Give Up. Ever. Every marriage has it's downs. We've had ours. We have seen so much pain. We have seen so many struggles. We have fought and we have wept, but we are in it for good. The thing that makes me so sad about a lot of divorces that I see is that I have seen the other side of their struggle in people that stuck it out. I've seen marriages that seemed doomed become so strong that lightning couldn't separate them. Sometimes you just have to wait and work hard. Sometimes you have to change your mind about what vows mean when you make them. Life is life and death is death. Someday I hope to die holding my wife's hand.




Sing.
Migrate.





Thanks for reading...Z

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Cycle of Repeat


He was inconsolable. The blood of his bride ran over his ankle, to his foot and down to his toes, then into the flow of rain water that hurried without reason to the sewer. This wasn't what he had pictured for his life or the life of the woman who had saved him from the opiates.

He had met her here. Not in this exact place, but a pathway to the sewer all the same. He was lying in the middle of the road beneath the bridge. He was flying so high that he couldn't tell yet if he were on the ground or souring into his dreams as a child. He had bought it from this regular junkie type...prancing around and nervous. He unloaded the drug into his blood stream and let himself go somewhere that wasn't here.

She was under the bridge trying to retrieve her little brother, who had gone missing 7 months prior. Her brother was an addict and she only knew to look under the bridge. She didn't find whom she was looking for. She was raped and beaten because this is what awful humanity does. She was on her way out when she saw him.

He was shouting. He wasn't saying any words that could be understood. She didn't understand what he wanted, but she understood desperation when she heard it. She reached down to him writhing on the ground and put her bloody hand on his head.

He looked up and saw an angel. He had never believed in God before, but for this moment in time, he knew that she was a very slight, battered portrait of Him. She pushed his hair back from his face and tried to calm him down. She told him things that made him believe that the world was not over.

A week later, they met again at a little church for a twelve step drug program. He was there because of the kindness she had shown him and she was there because of the desire to know her brother. In their minds, they were both just breathing.

They talked all night long, moving from one closing diner to another. I think they both got what they had searched for from each other. He got a glimpse of something much better than him, and she got a glance at what it means to be human and falling.

They would meet many times for the next several years. They married on Christmas Day. She wore a big and beautiful white dress with her brothers pajama Batman shirt underneath. He wore the suit his father wore to his mother's funeral. Into their marriage, they both carried their own weight...and the weight of everyone they had loved and lost.

Despite the barriers against them, they flourished together. He stopped using and she let herself let go of her brother. The were happy together for once in an eternity.

...

The telephone rang. It was her grandfather. He had seen her brother under the bridge washing windows. She had to go. He begged her to stop and wait for his friends to arrive and help. She refused. She just could not wait a moment longer to see his face. She ran and ran.

He arrived under the bridge in his car just in time. She had reached her brother and looked deeply into his eyes. She expected him to know her. They had been through hell together, but he only knew what lied beyond her face, hidden deeply in the sunset. He only knew how to survive.

He watched her beg for her brother to remember him, but her brother wasn't her brother anymore. She threw her brother her purse and her phone. She cried and begged him to come home, but instead he rushed to her and cut her throat.

Her husband screamed and lurched toward his bride that bled all over the ground that he used to sleep on. He screamed like no man has ever screamed and beat her brother to death with his broken fists. The police would say  that he kept punching until the blood mixed with the pavement and finally with his own blood.

He was committed to a psychiatric facility and deemed insane. He tried and tried to convince them that he was sane and deserved the electric chair but due to his circumstances, he was assigned to live the rest of his years in dark halls amongst the rattling of chains and screams.

He spent the next two hundred years rocking back and forth, trying to convince himself that he was insane. He knew different. He knew who he was murdering that night.

He was told in a dream that as soon as he could realize he was forgiven, he could walk through those doors and see his wife again. Alive. Waiting for him. In Heaven.

But he couldn't. He knew why he had killed that man. He knew that he was the same as him. He would have done it too then. He refused forgiveness and remains, to this day, in a state of repeating history. He is plagued to repeat the cycle of addiction, redemption, and revenge over and over until he can accept forgiveness.

Happy Halloween.

Photo credit to Moodyblue 





Sing.
Migrate.



Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Own Chains


I want to be missed by someone, but no one that is too close to me. The thought of my son missing me makes me too sad to comprehend. I want people that I have spoken to only a few times to miss me. I think that means that I want people outside of my own circle to see the value in me. I know those close to me see my value to them, that's why they stay around. I want to know that I loved people that I didn't know had noticed.

I try to be kind to everyone. Obviously if you know me, you know I fail more than succeed. I do try though. I want to be someone different than what the average suggests. Again, I fail.

Lately I struggle. I am not a very good picture of who Jesus is right now. I'm not breaking apart for the right reasons. I heard a song a few hours ago that reminded me how much I wept for those that hurt and how much of myself I was willing to give. The song made me want to weep again, but the sentiment came face to face with the same anger that has kept most sincerity and innocence out of my actions for the last several years.

When I gave my life over to God, it wasn't because of some Bible story or some deep seeded belief in someone out there. I came to know God through laying my head on cold steel train tracks and challenging anything out there to stop me from destruction. Nothing about meeting God was pretty for me. I found God in the nastiest place I could find Him...in desperation. I went forward with a head full of steam and hurt a lot of people along the way trying to "save" them. I pushed them further away. I judged without knowing I had sat in judgement.

I worked harder than I had at anything. I opened the telephone book and slammed my finger to a name and sent them a letter, letting them know that if God could love me, He could love anyone. I still believe this more than anything else. If you saw me during this time, you did so looking at the Bible in my hand. When I met my wife, she noticed immediately the Bible in the back seat.

My best friend, who had adopted me as a brother died. It wasn't pretty. You can figure the rest out.

Since then, the anger. I had other Christians profoundly hurt me before, some whom I was trying to serve. This was different. I didn't feel betrayed by an imperfect person, but a perfect God.

How does one get mad at perfect God? I can't answer this. How does one so obviously blessed with beautiful people be so angry? I still have no answer.

I want to be the guy that burns with passion for God and for rescuing those that were like me, but I cannot seem to get this churning in my stomach to allow me to relax and let go. I cannot stop feeling like a fool who gave his life savings and ended up with hands full of sand. These feelings pass after a while when my logic and faith object, but they remain buried.

Pray for me. I've since now been too proud to ask.






Sing.
Migrate.



Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Reset (A Short Story)


He held the button between his index finger and his thumb, rubbing his thumb across the surface of the crystal face. The button is dangling from a chain that hangs around his neck, a reminder that nothing is final anymore. Nothing has been final since his father gave him the necklace and explained the meaning of his life to him. His dad said, "Your purpose is to fix everything." That was a tall task. He delivered pizza at the time. Only God knows how many times his dad pressed that button. What he did know was that his father was tired now and something was left blank on his face. He handed him the button and fell asleep.

He feels something wet dripping down his head. His legs are stuck and he can't feel anything below his chest, which hurts every time he tries to breath at all. He is coughing up a lot of fluid and struggling to breathe between the expulsions of red vicious blood onto the steering wheel. He holds the button between his fingers and presses it again. And he dies.

Yet his eyes open in the same place he was when his father gave him the button, standing over the body of his dying father again. He smiles at his father and wipes the hair from his dad's brow; something he has always done when his father was drunk or dying. He let his father go again and went back into living. He went home to his pretty wife and cute kids and enjoyed their lives together all over again. Again, he got to see his son hit his first home run and his daughter skate as if the coliseum wasn't watching and win gold. He took his wife to dinner every night and gave her the very best of him. He corrected every mistake he had ever made in their marriage and continued to find more mistakes. He was nicer to people at work and to people serving him at restaurants and markets. He worked less hours and spent more time with his family everyday. He would hold on to his kids and wife as if everyday would be the last.

Then he would find himself pinned between a car and a guardrail. He'd find himself shot in some freak hunting accident. He'd find himself struck by lightning and paralyzed, just strong enough to fight his hand to his necklace and press that button. Each time, he did things differently. Each time he lived life more generously and less selfishly. He made adjustments and prayed that God would allow him to live this time. If he could just be good enough to be useful for God to let him live. He worked so hard to keep from dying. His biggest desire was to die without regrets...something his father had told him as a child.

He was bleeding out after a machinery accident when he pushed the button again. The next time he was running to keep his cholesterol down and slipped and hit his head on the concrete. The next, he just began dying in his sleep and was dreaming his passing when he pressed the button instinctively.

Reset.
Reset.
Reset.

It became exhausting trying to figure out a way not to die. Every turn was death waiting. The begging and pleading wasn't working. He wasn't going to be good enough to live. Whatever he had done was going to be a permanent penance for his crimes.

He sat in the subway when he realized this. He sat in understanding and acceptance. He couldn't be perfect. His father couldn't be perfect. He had been holding on so long that his face was blank just as his father's was. He had seen his kids grow up so many times. He had loved his wife for God knows how many decades. Right now, he might as well be sitting on the ocean floor. He was so far from real humanity. In the subway, he realized he couldn't do it anymore. He just couldn't give his family another liar. To rewind is to lie. To edit anything is to lie. He wanted them to be at rest.

He paid the ticket and stepped onto the subway car and road the ride. As the squealing of the brakes started, he already knew to close his eyes. Your last moments are best felt looking at your life, not the environment around you. He felt his body release from his seat and soar into whatever was in front of him. He felt things crack and break and his head smash against something.

The noise died down and then silence reigned. He was in whatever existence we was going to be in. He lifted his thumb to the button instinctively and thought of his daughters laugh and his son holding his hand when he was scared. His son hated storms and his little girl loved to laugh. He thought of them and pressed his thumbs next to the button, but couldn't press it. He had to let them live without him. He had to go to where he belonged and wait for them. His last thought was of his beautiful wife and the way she would lay her head on his shoulder. He thought to himself, "I was the luckiest man alive." He dropped his hand to his side and let them all go.




Sing. Migrate.
Thanks for reading...Z