Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Dead End...

You live and breathe and go about your day as if you were programmed to do so.

People are programmed to be the most efficient of their time, ultimately to make someone else more money. Lately I've been hearing all of these stories of what people have done to get more money...or to protect their money. It makes me sad. Those people make me sad because they missed out.

They missed playing in the snow as a kid, or they forgot. The missed watching the sway of the trees in the wind. They missed watching the helicopter seed drop so slowly to the ground in front of them. They missed the feeling of cold rain on your tongue on a hot day. Whatever beautiful thing this earth did that they missed or chose to forget is lost to them.

People do these terrible things and you want vengeance, not even knowing you already have it. They have to be them. Don't forget to be you.

I really miss my brothers tonight. I miss them being in this world. Some things serve as a reminder that there is so much beauty in the world and it is terrifying that some people would want to reject it. Maybe we should focus on other things...productive things. But maybe some times spent at random mean more than anything else.

These random times are the ones I miss most.

I miss the time Will and I got arrested together. I miss the time we took apart an entire car and didn't know how it went back together. I miss when Joe would lose a game and would always yell at us, "You're Screwing Me."  I miss those Thursday nights at the movies when we made a deal with our wives to leave us alone until 3AM every Thursday so we could have time family. I miss driving all over the places we used to go and wishing we could watch our lives happen all over again.

We had so much fun. We got hurt along the way, but we were immortal in our minds. We shot out windows, threw people's trash cans, pretended to be bird catchers, went fishing and always put anything we caught into the video store drop box, hunted geese with blow guns, woke up in strange places, stole things we didn't want for fun, bought nasty coffee in the middle of the night and lied to the cashier, saying we were musicians in transit, and invented games that no one will ever get to play.

I really never wanted to believe there was a dead end. But somehow I knew it. We had spent intervals of time worrying about each other and working to keep each other alive. We had no desire for money and they died anyway. And left me. Still standing right here, in the same place they left me.

So here I am. Everywhere I look is still a dead end. But I have so much still. Hindsight would show you that they had so much to live for, but for different reasons, they didn't see that.

I do.

I'm not a good person and don't have any wisdom about life or death to give anymore, but I do have the memory of my brothers and the beauty of my wife and children. Maybe the focus should be on the beauty.

I would die for any one memory I had with them. So doesn't that make life beautiful? Isn't that a great reason to cease our love of money and love those in front of us? I don't know about you, but the times I've spent in beauty have made me look to the sky an weep.


Thanks for reading...Z

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Descent

I played the piano while staring at her picture. The way her eyes looked back at me under the flash of lights, and that glimpse of her happiness. Her eyes spoke to me every time I sat down on that wooded stool. She whispered her dreams into my ears at night. I saw her everywhere I went. At the grocery store, I saw her pushing the cart with a kid in the seat, and a kid on the end holding on. She would be buying grapes and bananas. I would look at her and look away to avoid an awkward moment. She knew and I knew. People are always in tune to when they are being preyed upon.

I had worked as a steel worker in a factory where no one really has a first name. I was Jonesy. My real name was Gabriel Allen Jones. I am one of the guys who have a trademark behind their name. I wasn't just Jonesy for Jones, I was also "Loverboy," the name of the angel of love. Gabriel=angel and Jones=jonesing. As if I were Jonesing for drugs. Which I'm not, it's just an example.

I gave her the world when we met. Our first date, I took her to this house outside of Houston and we watched the fire works under the light of the moon in the bed of my F-150. She didn't need to know the fireworks were in celebration of the execution of Robert Miller, a wife killer.

A mother killer. My mother's killer.

I took her to wherever and made her whatever she wanted. I didn't want to know the details. I have never been a person to want to know exactly what is tormenting me. She would ask and I would look off in another direction. I was never a person to dwell on the details.

The detectives tried to tell me about my mom so I turned up my iPod and looked straight ahead.


So many things happened. I'm not the same guy. I haven't been Jonesy for a while. My wife left me because of my obsession with my mother's death. She took my kids and went across the country. I lost everything else pretty fast. I applied to a school of music and someone saw something in me.

In my audition, my fingers crossed over the keys like they were the next step in a scientific pattern. I refused my face an expression. I let my heart out because I didn't care anymore. My entire person danced with my anger and rage and sorrow. This was my last chance.

Letting everything out is likely to produce your greatest performance. The real problem is in finding that second beauty. I worked so hard in school but I found no inspiration beyond what I had given at the audition. I gave all of me at the audition and found myself empty after. After that, I could only copy the same chords of my sorrow from before. There was nothing before or after. I was just living in the vibrations of the strings of my one wonderful performance. The one time I was able to open another person's eyes and show them my heart.

I eventually left school before I lost my scholarship. I didn't much care. I didn't have anyone left to be ashamed of me. I just lived.

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I would play piano for the Weston hotel bar. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays I would teach the piano at a local music shop.

Sundays were church and then alcohol. Repeat and repeat and repeat.

One week before I was to give up, I found him. The killer of my mother.

We were at an AA meeting. I had just started AA because they found me passed out on the freeway without a car. He showed up to the meeting wasted and talking too much. At first, I accepted the distraction from the day old donuts and coffee smell in the moldy basement of a moldy church. But as he spoke, things became familiar. He told me that he had done some jail time for assault, and that he had hit his wife with a bat. I only saw my mom's smashed head.

He spoke about the woman's husband being blamed and going to death for it and I lost my mind. My head tilted to the side and stayed there, blazing into him. He looked at me funny. He asked me "You ok?" "Yeah, I'm ok'" I would reply. I wasn't ok. I instantly realized that I was somewhere else. I found myself later standing over a bloody body and brain fragments all over the room.

The police found me laying in a corner of a small room in a nearby factory a quarter mile from his body. His blood was all over me. I didn't remember anything.


My fingers passed over the keys like they were the next stroke of a painting. The guards looked at me and shook their heads. My peers looked at me in amazement. I was special.

In that place I played things live, that my mind wouldn't conceive of in public. I played my entire heart into the air for only murderers like me to hear.


Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Man on Mars

Sam walked into a smaller room than the one he left...his little space, filled with stuffed animals and wrestling figurines. The television blared behind two closed doors in front of him. His hands are sweaty. He gets that way when he is unsure of the moment that he is in.

Sam gets confused sometimes during the day. He isn't always clear where he is or how he got there. He could be learning about mathematics, then black out, only to return to more mathematics without knowledge of his travels. The bell would ring nevertheless earlier than he had expected, and he knew he had gone somewhere else for a while.


Three years earlier when he was 10, his little brother had died of bone cancer and his older sister two years later drowned in a pool after taking too many pills. He was the only child left of a mom that drank too much, and a dad that was never home. In boredom, Sam watched television. Wonderful, beautiful, and hilarious stories of happiness and loss. He learned what it meant to be a man in a fictitious and colorful world.

Sam's real life lacked color. He always knew there was something more than what was in front of him, but never had gotten to see it. People would speak to him and he would nod and smile. People would ask him questions like: "What are you doing Saturday night?" He would say, "I'm gonna watch some TV, conquer, and eat pizza."

Sam never wanted a friend because he didn't understand friendship. Sam had never had a friend.

Sam stands staring at the noise that awaits him just two doors in front of him. He opens the first to another bedroom. This one is full of old storage and photo albums. The entire room smells like history. He opens the next door to find his mom in the bed with someone other than his dad. He wouldn't see his dad again. Sam stared for a moment to figure out what was happening. He stared because he was alone and she wasn't alone anymore.  Sam realized on this day that he was really alone. He was a kid living in a rat's nest, hoping to die before he had to see his mother die. So Sam left.


He went from state to state, picking up odd jobs and farm work until they couldn't afford him anymore. Sam was a vagrant, but entirely impressive to speak to.

So impressive that he impressed a person of great interest to him. That person was so impressed that he granted Sam a chance to change his life. What if Sam could ride the very first mission to Mars?


It was a strange time in America. People had grown tired of government lies and false hope. The elitists were trying to sway people back. The smart thing to do would be to put an astronaut on Mars first, they had earned it, but the strategic plan was to put a regular person up there and let him step foot on Mars for the first time. This would be a huge story and a testament to the everyday human. It would be the bastard son of a school secretary that would plant that flag on entirely foreign soil.

He went through the training. He was going to be the only human on the ship, controlled by mission control in Houston. He lost two dozen pounds from throwing up and eating prepared meal packs, similar to an MRE for soldiers.


The day came and he showed up with his mother at the launch pad. He put on the orange suit and stood before her with tears in his eyes. Neither of them knew if he would return or what he would return to. It would take four years to get back to earth. His mother looked at him and said "You deserve to see something that no one else has ever seen before." He smiled and dropped his head to his chest. "It's not easy leaving you mom," he says. "It's not easy for me to say goodbye either, but it is really easy to let you go," she replies. "There is nothing here for you, Out there, the entire world will look as small as the moon through your eyes," she says. He smiles and kisses her on the forehead, then walks into the rocket.


Two hours later, Sam is looking at the earth from outside of it. All of the blue makes him squint at first. He recovers and truly believes that there are not enough places in his brain to store all of the beauty he sees. The feeling of being so small overwhelms him. He is the only person in space right now, yet for the first time in his life, he doesn't feel alone. The grey earth and salted snow on the side of the roads he grew up with were a lie as to what existence really means. The television showed him pictures that he only knew to be false of something different. This night, there was a whole new life.


About a year later, he catches his first real glimpse at the Red Planet. At first, the red makes him squint. He recovers and begins to understand that every move he makes and every thought he thinks will be the first in human history to be done right here and right now, on Mars!

Days later, he orbits and lands on Mars. He gets out of the ship, pretending to be Neil Armstrong. He knows the entire world is watching. They will get the feed in a half an hour, live in their time. He thinks of the right thing to say. How do you outdo the "One small step" speech? He turns on the camera and opens the airlock and drops the stairs. As he steps down onto the red sand he says, "This is the future of America, but the history of the universe." His feet land and he feels the sand beneath him shift, then harden underneath. It was the feeling of never being stepped on. He grabs the flag and slams it down into the sand 30 feet from the ship and it occurred to him that he was on TV and some kid like him was watching and actually wishing he could be him...Sam.

Sam walks back to the ship and begins tearing out wires from the control panel and from the thrusting mechanism itself. He tears them out and sends them into the air where he can never find them. In several minutes, the radio is chirping with really smart people asking smart questions that only he knew the answer to. Sam refused to say. He tore out the radio and sent it into space. He bent over and looked into the camera and made a "blowing a kiss" gesture and drew a heart with his fingers on his chest. The camera went black moments later as his hand passed by the lens.


Only Sam's mom knew what that heart meant. It was a symbol of the only thing he left behind on that planet...her. He was the man on Mars now. She could see him every time she looked into the sky.

They would eventually return to Mars and find him laying on his bunk frozen. They would find his notes about what happened on Mars the last five years. And they would find his personal journals that would be published and become the single most important book of the century. Little Sam became legend.


Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Black Box

6: 32 PM Monday August 4th 2023

Taurus Flight Commander Arnold- "Houston, we have reached apogee, over."
Command- "Taurus, prepare for ejection, over."
Arnold- "Roger, sequencing ejection path, over."
Pilot Hogan- "Altimeter reading safe for separation, over."
Command- "Systems checks, over."
Arnold- "Commencing systems checks, stand-by Houston, over."
Command- "Roger, over."
Arnold- "Thruster is a go, over."
Hogan- "Path is a go, over,"
Dr. Parks- "Specimens in place, biology is a go, over."
Command Module Pilot Teague- "Airlock a go, life support a go, system warning a go, over."
Arnold- "Houston, we are ready for ejection, over."
Command- "Taurus, free to commence ejection, God Speed, over."

Arnold- "Everyone ready?"
Teague- "I've had quite enough of looking at the red planet, let's go home."
Arnold- "What? You don't like a little dust and sandstorms? Soft."
Teague- "276 days until we get home and I have a 16th birthday party to get to, let's go!"
Arnold- "When did you get so old?"
Teague- "Like we didn't walk the same stage. Oh, yeah, you were supposed to walk a year earlier right? Awe."
Arnold- "Mhmm, did you see my Flight Commander patch anyone? I think I may have dropped it while second-in-class Teague was rambling. Hey Teague, getting lonely in the Independence yet?"
Hogan- "Pissing all over the place! Can we go losers?"
Arnold- "It's been a pleasure meeting you Martians, you weren't very hospitable, I mean with no one showing up and all, but we have some of your rocks, so...Let's go!"
Hogan- "Initiating thrusters, commencing ejection in 5-4-3-2-1-Ejection activated."

A high frequency clip in the audio. Static. Radio silence.


Houston- "Taurus, status check. Systems are down on your side, confirm?"

Houston- "Taurus, confirm systems failure."

Houston- " Running full systems check on Taurus."

Houston- "Complete system failure on Taurus, can we get satellite visual?"

Private Monk- "Uh...sir, you may want to look at this."
Houston- "Patch it to me."
Monk- "Done."
Houston- "Debris. They're gone."

Houston- "Check the history on the box, see if you see anything malfunction."
Monk- "Right away sir."

Monk- "Thruster two systems check alarmed right before ejection."
Houston- "Exploded?"
Monk- "Seems like it sir."
Houston- "Get PR in here, and call in their families for a meeting. Call the President first."


4:30 AM Tuesday August 5th 2023

The Independence- "Static."
Monk- "Hello? Independence? Confirm, over."
The Independence- "Static, he-static, hell-static, hello? Houston? Static. This is Comma* Modu* *ilot Teague, ove*"
Monk- "Call Mission commander Reynolds! Changing bands for optimal frequency. Teague, great to hear your voice. Are you ok? Over."
Teague- "I'm ok. I feel pain everywhere, but I'm ok, over."
Monk- "Patch him in. Commander Reynolds, we have communication with The Independence and Teague, I'll patch you in."
Reynolds- Teague, what happened? Are you ok, how is everyone else, over?"
Teague- "Gone sir. The Taurus exploded. I can't see much, I'm spinning pretty fast, but I can see pieces of the ship around me through the window, over.
Reynolds- "Have you performed a life support systems check on The Independence, over?"
Teague- "Yes sir, everything is operational, over."
Reynolds- "Monk, check the status of The Independence's power and operational functionality."
Monk- "Yes sir."

Monk- "Sir, only two power cells remain on the The Independence."
Reynolds- "Not enough. Teague, can you confirm the rate of power consumption? Over."
Teague- "Yes sir, losing power at 2,000 Joules a second, source is at 85%, over."
Reynolds- "Are any thrusters working Teague? Over."
Teague- "No sir, fuel gauges read empty. In fact I can see fuel in the air as I spin, over."
Teague- "Monk, get the United States Ambassador on the line. We need another rocket."
Monk- "Right away sir."

Monk- "Sir Ambassador Kelly is on the line. Patching now."
Reynolds- "Ambassador, hello."
Kelly- "Reynolds, I've been filled in. I'm afraid the only available rocket is in China and it isn't ready for launch until 2024. There isn't anyone on the Mars station right now to intercept. I'm sorry."
Reynolds- "Yes sir."

Radio silence.

Teague- "I heard sir. It's ok. Any radio contact from anyone on the Taurus? Arnold? Over."
Reynolds- "No, sorry, over."
Teague- "Any ideas. Over?"
Reynolds- "I'm afraid not. Over"
Teague- "System power at 65%. I know how this ends. It ends in an icicle. Over."
Reynolds- "I'm sorry son. I don't know what to say. It's going to start getting cold in a few hours; then really cold. Do you have any sleepers? Over"
Teague- "I have two. I'll get in one and zip the other over the top. I also have three hot packs from the med kits. I'll throw those inside the sleepers. But sir, if I have to go anyway..."
Reynolds- "Your family is on the way. They will be here in 4 hours. That's as fast as it gets. Over."
Teague- "That is a really good reason to stay warm....over."


7:30 AM Tuesday August 5th 2023

Reynolds- "Teague, you still with us? Over."
Teague- "Yyyeah, roger."
Reynolds- "Hold on kid, your family is 15 minutes away. How are you feeling? Over."
Teague- "Ppppretty cccold ssir. Ovver."
Reynolds- What is your system power? Over."
Teague- "I ccan't mmmove ssir."
Monk- "The Independence system power is at 0% sir. He's working with insulation. It won't last long."
Reynolds- "Talk to me kid. Stay awake."
Teague- "Thhey ssaved mme sir. Mmmy wwiffe and kidds. Mme and Arnnold were rraised in the ssame orpphanage. Wwe would look at the sttars and ssee our futture. Arnnold was smmarter than mmme. I was alwwways in ddoubt of mmyself. Shshe made me abbove huhuman. Ththen they were born and I llost all fear... Oover."
Reynolds- "Did I ever tell you that my dad left before I was born? He just up and left us. For most of my life, I wanted him to come back and save me. I got through high school...barely. My mom cried at night, not knowing I could hear her. She would come to my bed and pray for me when she thought I was asleep. I went away to college to study the same stars you are looking at right now. I wanted so badly to be where you are right now, but I couldn't pass the physical test. My eyes are too bad. It broke my heart, but I fought because I knew that there was something out there and I was born to find it." I could tell you that the stars saved me, but it wasn't what you are seeing. It was my mother, who chose to keep living and pushing me to be better than my father. I saw him after high school at a grocery store. He was buying dog food. He approached me. Isn't that nuts? He approached me after all of these years. Do you know what he said? He said "How's it going?" I nearly spit up the grape I was stealing laughing. I realized then that I didn't need saving anymore...he did. So I gave him my phone number. I met him once a week to talk. He was boring and didn't know anything about physics or molecular structure, but he went along just fine. You're a fine kid Teague. The best astronaut in space right now. If only there were one more...sorry...bad joke."
Teague- "Hmm Hmmm Hmmmmhaaa hahahahahahaha
Monk- "Commander Teague, you are acting commander now I assume. I look up to you. I just wanted to say that. I was radio'd to tell me your family is in the building.

Sarah- "Baby? I'm here. Honey!"
Teague- "Hehey bbabbay."
Sarah- "Sweetheart, I love you. I've always loved you. They tell me you don't have much time and I don't know what to say. How do I say anything to you without saying everything?"
Teague- "HhhHhhhhhhhh."
Sarah- "Here is your daughter."
Elizabeth- "Daddy?"
Teague- "Iiiiiiiiimmm hhhheree bbbaybay."
Elizabeth- "I remember lying on your chest. I would listen to your heart beat. It was hard to hear, but I tried to listen to my own. Once, I put my fingers on your wrist and on mine and it made music. That's why I learned the piano. It was for you daddy, I love you."
Teague- "IhIhhhhI Lollloollve yyouou llllitttle fffoott.

A long breath. Vital sensor reads 0 heart rate. Internal temperature 32 degrees Celcius. Radio Silence.


8:45 AM Tuesday August 5th 2023

A clinking noise. A swoosh.

Monk-"That's the airlock!"
Reynolds- "Are you sure?"

The sound of a bee hive mixed with a low frequency, and the sound of what sounds like doors creaking (Description edited). A breath sound.

Monk- "Teague's heart rate monitor reads 110 BPM!"
Reynolds- "Impossible!"
Reynolds- "Teague! Are you there?"

A gentle hum and low frequency rhythm.

Monk- "It sounds like a song sir."
Reynolds- "It does. Hmm. It's music."


Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Time To Weep

I've been holding it together. Sometimes I'm walking backwards in the snow, leaving my tracks to fool people to think I'm moving forward and other times I'm just sitting here breathing.

There were a lot of things I did when Will died that I will not repeat because they were destructive. I'm trying not to be destructive this time. The problem is that there is a "this time." No one should have to do this again. I never thought I could, but here I am forced to. I'm tired of the struggle to balance. I spent a lot of time hiding from the people that I loved the most. I walked into the night and let it take me without my family knowing I was not ok.

I won't do it again. I've learned from my mistakes. Living in grief is wrong. A person may dwell there for a time, but at some time they have to leave. I chose to live there. I'm not gonna live there again.

Here is my battle as raw and awful as it is to type...

I feel alone. I know God is there and can do anything, but I no longer believe He will do anything. He may leave some things to the curse of mankind. I'm really trying to be ok with that.

When Will died, I had all of these dreams and these strange occurrences that made me feel like he is ok. This hasn't happened with Joe. With Joe, I wake up feeling dread. It doesn't mean anything, but it sucks still. I feel a lack of hope.

We were supposed to be old together. Now I am alone in that. We were the Dead End Kids, now I am the Dead End Kid and I don't know what to do with that without them. We were just kids playing in the snow and now I lay here alone. There isn't a snow angel pretty enough to erase what isn't here.

I fear that my loss is still not enough and He will take more from me.

I fear I have said things I didn't mean and forgot to say that I'm sorry. Maybe that apology would have been enough for one more day.

Tomorrow we will put you in your final resting place...right next to Will. It's what you would have wanted. But this isn't what any of us wanted.


Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, January 19, 2015

What We Are Made Of. (A Short Story)

I watched my grandmother work. Her hands would turn over the brush creating these awkward splotches that would become beautiful in five minutes time. When she was finished, she would sit me on her lap and sing this song she had learned from her life. "Come where you are from the depths of the sea, build another life where the demons can't see." She would sing me to sleep with that wretched song. It brought me comfort until high school, when I realized it wasn't an innocent song.


I was born moments from an orphanage. Someone took me from the womb to a towel, then to a grey plaster room with only one window. I would live there for seven years before Sarah came for me. My grandmother. She wasn't a suitable candidate for adoption. She was single, but eventually because of the large brown spot on my face, they allowed her. My blood.

I grew and she shrunk. She took me everywhere. My earliest memory is in her arms and watching a man in a brown suit coat yell at us? The guy in the brown suit walked away like they always did, but she was always right in front of me offering me something I didn't want but needed. She knew that what I needed couldn't be recreated.

I wasn't the only one. She rescued seventeen children from a dog pound of kids no one wanted. She watched them grow. She sat at their trials. She was present when their kids were born. She was weeping at their funerals. Not even for a moment did she lose hope.

They didn't find her remains for three weeks after she had died in her chair. All of this amazing person was reduced to photographs and memories. She was gone.

None of the other kids made it to her funeral. There are always reasons and many of them valid. I wouldn't miss it. Not for anything.

She closed her eyes and I covered her up. I stood alone in front of her when they closed her casket. I remembered enough of her to know her spectators had always underestimated her.

I write this 40 years later as I lie in a hospital bed and dying of cancer. The thought of someone that beautiful being forgotten reminds me of the curse of time. My brothers and sisters are all gone, but she was always my mother. This women who had saved so many people died alone in the night with no one to see hold her hand.

This is the tragedy of a wonderful life. That some of us may forget who we were actually made to be.


 Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, January 11, 2015


I have learned to write when things are the most awful...which would be at 1:55 in the morning when everyone is asleep. I would usually type sad things into the enormous data sky. I feel it, but I won't do it this night. This night, you learn about the day I became a kin to Joseph Doederlein.

We had met many times, both at youth group and at school. This day, we were both volunteering at the church's haunted house outreach (I can explain later I guess). We had been building the place for weeks. Joe had been taunting me about stealing a girlfriend I had at the time. I have no idea why he chose me to piss off.

We were both working in the two conjoined trailers to make the scariest scenario of hell possible. We bickered and flexed. We shared so many interests though. We used to listen to Blind Melon and the Gin Blossoms while hammering nails and spray painting nasty images on plywood walls. At night, we would build a fire and drop used spray paint cans into the barrels and watch them blow up. This became a very memorable experience in our lives.

One day after school, hours before the youth group people would show, we both went into the dark trailers. We went inside and spoke about things. The trailers went dark and we felt trapped and shouted for help. People showed up to save us. At that moment, Joe was scared and pulled out a pipe from his backpack and started beating the wall. He shouted in anger and anguish. The light shined through the trailers as people were looking at us, with broken boards at their feet. His anger had turned and we both were changed.

After it was over, he gave me the pipe. He told me it was meant for his brother (Will). He had always been so competitive with him...his older brother. We threw it into the woods and Joe never had hatred for Will again.

This was a very strange occurrence that I could never figure out, but the moral I get. There was something different going on. We had met for a reason. We were connected in some way.

I knew it then. I have felt dread this entire time.

I felt despair sometimes. I knew God would be taking something from me. I had always felt it in my bones. I could not keep what I had received.

At the time I felt alone. Most of you know what happened years later when all I had was them.

Joe in particular found his way to those tracks to save me. We all stuck together through everything.

Joe was so goofy with his Gumby looking hair and braces pronounced with that huge smile. He wore a huge Triple Fat Goose coat and a rhinestone Raiders cap. After that day, we did everything together. We became brothers.


Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Silence (A short story)

Jake rubs his eyes as the light shines in sharp beams through the cracks in the blinds. The room is white, made whiter by the light. It is morning and Jake comes alive to the weeping of his alarm clock. It is Saturday, but Jake has resigned to getting up early and going somewhere he can't remember right now. Sarah walks in from the bathroom in a towel. She has always been a morning person. Down the hall, he hears kids shouting and giggling, much like the sounds he would hear from his desk chair in his classroom during his student's recess.

For no describable reason, Jake feels different today, better than before. He gets up and takes a shower, spending a little less time under the water than usual so he can grab his kids. He dries off and dresses, then heads to the kitchen where Sarah is cooking eggs. Amy jumps from the counter as he passes on to his shoulders and he almost loses her as he tries to regain his balance. She is giggling. He tells her, "Amy, don't do that, you could have fallen." Jake grabs her and squeezes her as hard as he can remember doing so. Johnny comes running from the living room and says, "I'll be your Huckleberry" and slams his fists into Jakes testicles and sends him and Amy both to the ground.

"Johnny! Why?"

Jake writhes on the ground, half laughing and half crying. He remembers why. It was Jake that watched "Tombstone" with the kids. They knew it was his favorite part of the movie. "I'll be your Huckleberry." Perfect. The kids piled on top of him as Sarah watched from the stove smiling. She didn't approve of him letting them watch that movie in the first place. "They are 4 and 3", she told him.

Jake regains himself and hugs on the kids on the floor for a while, then gets up to reach for his wife. She smells like flowers today. Her face is pale but glowing. Her eyes are blue and reflect their color onto the counter. She is beautiful. He wraps his arms around her and she turns inside of his squeeze to face him. She places her hands on his face that needs a shave and stares at him. She looks right inside of him as if he were something other than human. She sags her eyes a bit as if there were a sudden tragedy. She continues to stare. He doesn't have any words to say. He keeps trying to speak, but he is finding no words coming out as hard as he tries to force them...only air. She opens her mouth and says...

Wake up sweetheart. Wake up.

She walks from him and he feels his grasp release without him knowing. She walks down the hallway toward the bedroom and disappears from his eyes. Jake tries to follow her, but can't seem to move his legs at all. She moves with such grace, yet he is working so hard to move 12 inches.

Amy runs over to him and grabs on to his legs and squeezes. "I love you daddy," she says. "Take me to the carnival?" She reaches her arms upward to his face. Jake reaches down and lifts her to his shoulders. He has never said no to her. She hugs him and whispers something into his ear.

"Wake up daddy."

Johnny watches all of this from the corner of the room. What he is seeing isn't pleasant for him. He gets angry when anyone tells dad to wake up. His dad should sleep. When Amy speaks to Jake, Johnny darts off into the hallway in a fury shouting "Stay asleep!"

The room goes dark and Amy tears herself from his arms and disappears. Someone is screaming in the background faintly. The noise comes to the forefront once Jake loses sight of Amy. The screaming gets louder and louder until the darkness is broken for a split second by blinding light. Darkness then light. Darkness then light. Then light.

The shades are swaying in the wind next to the open window. Next to him is another pillow and cold mattress. Down the hall is silence and he remembers again. The silence always reminds him of emptiness and emptiness reminds him that he is alone. Jake sits up for a while and showers. He dries off and goes into the kitchen and cooks some eggs. He puts on his shoes and drives to the event he set his alarm clock for.

She looked paler than usual, but beautiful as always. She looked calm and hopeful. He looks to Amy in the box next to her. She looked like she was smiling a little. Then he looked to Johnny, who didn't look to be at peace. He never did. He was always angry for no reason. Jake used to sit with him in the corner when being chastised and just look at him in the eyes. After a while of staring, Johnny would smile and so then would Jake.

People kept hugging Jake to try to console him, but his face was blank. He didn't need consoling; he didn't need a hug. He needed them to leave him. The day was long and exhausting. Jake felt really bad for Sarah''s mom and dad and her family. He felt bad for his mom and dad.

When the funeral was over, he spent the night with his brother, who was his very best friend. They drank until they couldn't speak. Jake left the next morning and went home.

The problem with home is that a house doesn't equal home. He knew the dreams wouldn't stop. He knew he couldn't keep trying to sleep here. He worked at breathing for the next two weeks, then hopped on a plane and flew out to California to see his brother for a while.

While he was there, they spent the days doing wonderful things. Jake had ideas of what to do and his brother followed the lead. Jake's brother saw him as happy as he had ever seen him. They gambled and laughed and drank and cried. They spoke about old times when they were mischievous kids. Jake gave his brother his wedding ring one night when drunk on the beach. His brother refused it.

Two weeks later, Jake hugged his little brother at the airline terminal as tight as he could remember hugging anyone. Both looked at each other as if something weren't right, but they both knew that nothing was really right. Jake marched off into the tunnel and his brother to his car with tears in his eyes.

After a few minutes, Jake reversed his steps and headed back to the lobby area. He headed down the halls to the car rental company and rented a small sedan. He put his bags in the trunk and drove off.

He made it a road trip. He stopped at road side stands and bought chocolate raisins and cherries. He stopped at cavernous areas to shout into the air. He stopped at the Mining and Mineral Museum just before heading to the Grand Canyon. Jake played a disc of his favorite songs on his MP3 player and sat on his hood in front of the most vast and beautiful expanse of nothingness he had ever witnessed so close. Jake took out his keys and dropped them onto the front seat next to a letter addressed to his brother.

Jake looked in every direction as if he were taking a photograph. He smiled and breathed in the biggest breath he had ever taken and pushed off of the lip of the canyon shouting into the sky for the last time. He shouted until sound could no longer be heard.

His brother wakes at that very moment in the night as if someone had shouted his name. He looks around breathing intensely and his eyes reach the answer. On the nightstand was Jake's wedding ring.

(Don't read anything into this story. It was a dream I had last night and it stuck with me. Sometimes dreams leave you exhausted as if you didn't sleep at all.)


Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Phone Rings Again.

Snow past and snow past without a single word. I was wearing a black tie and a suit I had bought for celebration.

It seemed like hours and hours past that I had avoided that box that presented my best friend and brother like an advertisement in a storefront presentation of Christmas. I had been avoiding the thought of it for days. I didn't want to speak about him, but I couldn't not say something. He was my very best friend. When I had nowhere to go, he was willing to sleep in a tent with me to keep me from being alone.

This Christmas day will be 5 years since he left. One of the most haunting memories was the day we went to his funeral. I chose not to go in the garage on Christmas. I knew it would be the death of me. The last time I saw him, We laughed, we slept, then he was gone from my house. A week later, he was gone from everywhere on earth.

It snowed so much that day. The drive to his funeral was about 45 minutes. I wanted to get there early to have some time alone before everyone started showing up to pay respects. I laid my head against the passenger window and watched the snow pass faster than light beside me. I remember feeling worse than I had ever felt before. I took an inventory of what was inside me and couldn't find anything worse.

People came all day and hugged everyone. His kids cried and people cried for them. Will's mom and dad stood at the front the whole time saying thank you to people who came to respect their son. I could not imagine a harder job than theirs.

As I spoke with all of his friends, my eyes kept glancing to him laying there. I didn't want to see him, but it was as if spotlights were on him all day.

I gave in again while speaking to someone. I walked away as they were speaking and lost my legs 10 feet from him and almost found the floor. I regained my legs and kneeled on the pad at his coffin. He looked real to me. As if real were something that was actually real. I won't forget this. Will's dad came and kneeled next to me and put his arm around me and we just watched our hearts break together.


This above blog was the blog I was writing the night my telephone rang about Joe. I had placed a period and was ready to move to the next thought. Then I saw who was calling me in the middle of the night and I knew.

Christmas is hard for me. It brings back all of these feelings and memories, both great and terrible. I had been trying not to write about Will very much. I know it hurts some of his family to read, and they have been through enough. This night, I chose to tell you about a very important funeral. So I wrote until my phone rang and ended up on the floor. I couldn't fathom repeating the last five years again. I couldn't bear his mother losing another son.

Stressful days and terrible nights passed. I got through the funeral, which consisted of his parents staying at his side again showing their strength of heart,  and went back to work hoping to take myself somewhere different. Just like with Will, the mornings are the hardest. It takes greater effort to get out of bed and the nights are sparse with sleep. Just like with Will, I can't remember things and am somewhere other than here often. But unlike with Will, I don't feel guilt. We all tried everything we could. Unlike with Will, I am drawn to God instead of away from Him. Unlike with Will, I am allowing myself to let go of the little things that don't matter.

Just like with Will, my wife carries me.

I could say a lot of things about the people in my life that love me; and in fact I will be saying them. But the thing about them that holds us all together is their selflessness. I've made so many mistakes in my life, but the people I chose to make my family and the couple of people I was born to weren't a folly. I can't help but notice what remains. I have this habit of looking negatively at life and what has been lost from it. Right now, as sad as it is to have lost these two brothers, it is more wonderful to have what remains. I am not full, but I am so blessed. God allows sorrow, but doesn't cause it. Remaining in the dirt has gotten me nothing but a mouth full of mud.

It's hard to say what happens when the noise and excitement of Christmas go away and silence reigns. Last time, the month of February nearly brought me to the brink. The newness fades and people go about their daily lives and most move on as they should. That was the month when I really started feeling alone in this. I took destructive paths and didn't heed the wisdom of my wife. I am resigned to not repeat those mistakes. I will not lay my head in the dirt. I will mourn like a man with purpose and fire. I have endured much, but have been given riches. I'll weep, but only for a time, then I'll march.

God is still good as He has always been. I am His son, whom He loves, just as He loved my brothers. I'll move forward, leaving behind the destructive memories that have crossed my eyes. I will be reborn again, even if I walk limping severely.


Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Grief and God

God is teaching me things, even when I have a hard time looking at him at all. I would love to spew venom about my Creator on here. I would love to be able to blame Him for all of this affliction on so many people. But I can't do that. I told my brother Andy (Vernon) on this blog that God had stricken me. He was quick and fierce in reminding me that God had not. God didn't do anything harmful to me, it only feels that way. When Will died, I spent the last five years in a crisis of faith, struggling to get past my own arrogance and short sightedness. I could not divorce my feelings from my knowledge. If I asked myself what I would tell someone else who were going through this, I had different answers entirely. This appeared to be personal.

I'm not going to do it anymore I hope. Maybe the world is just so profoundly destroyed that people with seemingly every possibility in the world would say goodbye without saying goodbye.

I can't relay to you what is going on inside me. I can't give insight right now to what the world is like underground. But I can't blame God. I was really trying to, until Will and Joe's mom flooded me with words about God's will and the love of His Son. She is so much like her mom, who would only talk of God so fiercely. How could I turn my face from God when the mother of two lost children hadn't? So I won't either. I'll figure out a different way to grieve. I don't know what that means, but it won't be me angry at the person who gave me all of these beautiful people in the first place.

These past several days have reminded me that I have still so much. I have lost so much yes, but what remains is worth the tears. In my grief, I have had my brothers Andy and Jeff at my side grieving with me. I have had my beautiful wife most of all, trying to deal with her own grief and fear, and afraid to leave me alone. I put her at ease. I will put you at ease. I'm not going anywhere. I am profoundly sad and angry, but I will remain and seek happiness. I will seek my God until I find Him. I will seek to mend some of the broken things left behind.

None of this will come without anguish.

I have read all of your well-wishings and cherish them. When Will died, I found myself going back to them for literally years to this day for comfort. Thank you.

The Dead End Kids are gone. I am the Dead End Kid. I'll revisit both of their lives. I'll share my struggles and probably bleed everywhere. I won't forsake my God.

I'll be writing about them often, but will try to focus on times when they were happy.


Thanks for reading...Z