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

Sunday, December 21, 2014

What I Forgot to Say

I'm not gonna bleed all over for everyone tonight. I just want to say a few things I meant to say, but couldn't get them across my lips. I couldn't speak very eloquently and my mind was jumping all around and I lost my thoughts.

  • Thank you so much for every kind word of condolence or encouragement. Thank you for showing up, even if you didn't know Joe very well. Showing up to love and support your friend means so much to them. Sometimes those that hurt so bad just need a familiar voice and someone to grab their hand for a moment.
  • There was never a single moment that the room wasn't full of people and for 8 and a half hours straight, people flooded in. I don't think Joe would have expected that, he always underestimated himself.
  • If any of us forgot your name or didn't remember things correctly, we are sorry. It's been hard to keep our thoughts in the right place. So many people from so many different places and circles makes it hard to place. 

To Joe. 

My little brother. I would have really liked to talk all night about what you mean to me. There is so much I wanted to say. More than that, there is so much I would have liked to say to you. I told you I loved you so many times, but I didn't always show it. I am honored to have been so close to you. I loved the things you would say. This one time when I was in distress, you told me "Hey man, life is a bowl of shit, play with it." You have no idea the perspective that gave me. It gave me the ability to let go.

Joe, as much as you wanted to be your brother, you weren't. You were no more or less. You were an entirely different person. You liked to live in his shadow and try to snuff out your own. You had a beauty that both of us admired and wanted so badly. That smile of yours and that laugh. That heart that made ours break. Your heart was all over your face. 

I wanted to tell you about the time my son, who is very sensitive was struggling with fear. His mother and I had been working so hard to help him calm down. You took him aside from us and spoke to him. He returned and said, "I feel better now." He continued to tell us for the next week how much you had helped him not be afraid. I have no idea what you said, but I have a pretty good idea that it came from your heart because you have made me less afraid too. Thank you. 

Thank you for every crazy moment I had with you. Thank you for teaching me that sometimes life is to be lived spontaneously and without planning. Thank you for always being yourself with me. You told me both the bad and the good, but I believe you told me everything that you were feeling. You would have stepped in front of a train for me and this one time, you did. 

I said I wouldn't bleed here and here is all this blood. I'm not deleting it. I needed to say it because I struggled to find words to say about you to these people that love you so much. In anger, I couldn't think. In distress, I couldn't put the words together to make proper sentences. In my sorrow, I forgot to say what you mean to me. 


Thanks for reading...Z

Friday, December 12, 2014

What if...

Words don't mean what they used to. In many ways they have lost their meaning. Why imagine, when you can perceive? It is a sad day when a point is better made in lights and media than in language.

We say so much. We speak so many words that they all drown together. There are liars and manipulators and those with flattering lips. The people who speak the truth are shouting into an abyss.

We are a people bent on entertainment, which is why we are susceptible to scare tactics and lies that persuade us to move in a particular direction. "There is a new plague and it has killed 6 people!!! We must take cover!" Meanwhile, the everyday murder happens as usual, killing an entire generation. When did words begin to mean so little?

We are sleeping.

We are easily lied to.

We are ready to believe anything but the scary truth.

The truth is...

We are the real problem with the world. We are intelligent enough to know the truth, yet weak enough to ignore it.

What if we were to wake up?

What if we were to turn off the lies and speak only when we have educated ourselves? What if for a moment you blocked out everything you were raised to believe and thought for a moment on your own? What would happen then?

What if we stopped hating for no reason?

We will likely never know the answers to these questions, because we will likely never take the time to think.

There is an easy way to live. One that hurts absolutely no one and leaves only goodness behind.

We can love every breathing human on this earth and mourn every person lost. We can forgive and forget. We can leave all of that hatred behind and grow into something better.

The problem with religion is that humans hate and religion allows it. The problem with the secular world is that humans hate and we allow it. People are people. Hate hasn't been cornered by any specific people or culture. We all have something to learn about love.

I am a Christian. I follow the teachings of Jesus because He condemned hate and handed sinners real forgiveness. We are all sinners in need of forgiveness. It's easy to grasp that. It's easy to accept forgiveness, but so hard to accept forgiving. We are a harsh and angry species. I don't believe God is too pleased with our behavior.

What the world needs now is love, not division. We want to divide based on race, religion, color, creed, and behavior. How about we divide no one by anything. Maybe we can accept that people are people all over the world and love them. We don't have to agree, but we do have to love. Maybe our anger would fade and we would be a happier society.

Photo credit to intao @


Thanks for reading...Z

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Data (A Short Story)

I was a veteran of Iraq 1 and 2. I had been given a medal of honor for saving my platoon from an ambush in the mountains. I had lost 2 men in my command, but could have lost all 15. I reacted quickly and threw myself onto a land mine that my subordinate lifted his foot off of as I shouted for him to freeze. I jumped on the mine and lost both of my legs, sending small pieces of me onto the faces of my men. They carried me crying for my mother to the old Jeep and took me to what would be my own little shrine of glory.

A year later I participated in my last interview. The BBC journalist asked me the only important question that none of the others had thought to ask. She asked, "Would you do it all over again?" I was taken off guard, but quick to react. I said, "Yes." Something in my stomach rejected my own words and I froze after speaking. I sat and thought of running again. I thought of all of the people who now stare at me first in the face, then at my missing legs. I thought of the moment that my wife left me behind for another officer in another time.

I should have said no.

Five years later I am alone. Many people in history have written those words on paper and through binary. During the war, one of my closest friends marooned behind a rock in the mountains and surrounded wrote this in Morse code, squawking it with his handset. He died alone and so will I. Throughout history, people have only spoken of being alone. I am the second to actually be alone. The first...Adam.

The second war ended and things got calm. The economy flourished and America smiled like two twin children that hated the guts out of each other. Nothing happened, then nothing happened. Then came the Great War. The war that came out of nowhere. A meteor struck us and killed a million people. The sand kicked up and killed 3 million more. The waves crashed and killed another 2 million. Then China attacked every border of every western country and killed 10 million more.

We all shot rockets and warheads. We all hid in bunkers and waited for the first to fire the nuke. This time it wasn't America. This time it was Russia, and it was pointed at the Statue of Liberty. Everything blew up and we threw some nukes at them and vice versa and vice versa. In the end, I was the only one left standing...alone in a bunker in the capitol of the United States.

Everyone from the bunker was evacuated once the first nuke struck, except me. I was commissioned to report bomb activity in the former capitol. I was given a death sentence. The president actually got teary eyed when he shook my hand and left the bunker for a larger one in Missouri. Nukes fell and blood was bled, but nothing dropped on top of Washington that had radiation in it.

A year later I ran out of food. I made my first step, well crawl out into the air and expected to feel my lungs burn. I felt a cool and wonderful air. An air that made me remember my childhood and how it smelled and felt to step outside on the first warm day of spring. I looked around and there were ruins. I couldn't figure out what was what. I explored and found supermarkets to be untouched and convenience stores fully stocked. No one had a struggle to survive. Everyone had either left or died instantly.


Fifty years later and nothing has happened. I found this electric journal in the basement under a Christmas tree that I used to put up every year until I finally lost hope. I would string the tree with lights and tack the strands onto my roof to celebrate the day that the Son of God was born. I would celebrate the most wonderful holiday to have ever been forgotten. This particular day, I picked up the Christmas tree and found the computer. I plugged it in and here I am, an old man.

A lot has happened in this time. Nothing has happened in this time.

I am still alone. I haven't seen another breathing thing since I saw the president. I guess that makes me the president. I stopped replacing batteries in my walkie 10 years ago. The thing would fuzz, then make a strange noise, then fuzz. Every-time it got my hopes up. No one ever answered when I beckoned them too.

I am a vegan now. Not by desire. I have a garden that I am very meticulous with. I grow enough to keep my body healthy. I have found nothing to keep my soul. Sometimes I catch myself inside one of my DVD movies, pretending to be a real character that changes the outcome of the film. I wake up in ditches and on random neighborhood floors and realize that I can't change anything. I watch the same film to make sure, hoping I would have changed the ending of "The Abyss," or "The Last Man on Earth." The ending always stays the same. Even in my dreams, it ends with me being alone.

So here I write my last note of this forgotten machine, forgotten by only me. No one will read this. No one will care at all or wonder what my childhood was like. No one will listen to my stories or drink this last glass of whiskey with me. I write as I have lived...with no companion and no one watching. Goodnight. Goodbye oblivion.


I twisted the handle of the door that gives way and opens into a little room. Inside is a skeleton slouched in front of a dusty, silver machine. The head lays beside the keyboard of what looks to be a primitive keyboard. I charged the device and here I am. I am no one looking into the eyes of the past. This is the only evidence we have found of anything living and intelligent on this world. I am ecstatic.

I have been pulled from this duty. We have all been pulled. This has been deemed a dead world, but I am so fascinated with history. I have to leave and I am not permitted to take anything from this place, so I'll leave this note on this old journal.

The Earth is a cold and lonely place. I don't believe it had to be.

Goodbye, I say to dead data.


Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, December 7, 2014


I drive from one ancient house to another. Each home presented it's own ghosts. One of the homes, now inhabited by someone that rides a tricycle, used to be the place that I listened to Def Leppard on tape, and would rewind "Love Bites" over an over until the bite fell into my dreams. Another is always dark and quiet. It is as if no one calls it home. This was the place I lived when I met and dated my wife. She would sit on this mustard velvet couch I had bought at a garage sale and watch me dance to my favorite songs.

Another is a home for pot heads. I know this because on a date night with my wife, we drove past it. As we slowly past, I noticed the blue elephant slide I played with as a kid in the back yard. It had been more than 22 years since I had seen it. I stopped the car and my wife insisted I ask about it. We went to the door together and were greeted by a few very high teenagers who had no idea about the slide. It was removed the next time I drove by it.

One ghost after another. I moved every couple years growing up and left many homes behind. I met and left so many people. You would be hard pressed to find a person that has met this many people with so few close friends. But the memories made in ancient spaces are priceless.

This is nostalgia. We drive by the places that houses our childhood ghosts. When we stop to stare at them, we can see ourselves playing in the backyard or swinging on the swing-set. We remember the very feeling we had in the moment that we see. We feel it as though it had never left. Maybe it didn't. Maybe we drove here to revisit a time that we were happy or a time that we were so profoundly sad. Humans revisit extreme emotions. It's our way. We embrace intense feelings.

People are born with the natural desire to be happy and experience beauty. Tragedy ruins this and we find ourselves still yearning for beauty, but often find it in tragedy. Maybe not the tragedy itself, but the human response to tragedy. There is beauty in a person watching his ghost throw a football in the air as a child and running under it in time to catch it and get all of the glory that comes with being beautiful and stupid. There is beauty in being a person that you never got to experience as a child.

There is beauty in looking backwards and seeing how you had no idea that you seemed to have been set up to lose. You just kept plugging away clueless until you got the idea.

People sometimes ask me what I believe in. My answer is mostly based on reflection of my own ghosts. I remember lying on a drier in the laundry room as a teenager and was just finding out that I was the punchline of the joke. I didn't know it at the time, but I wasn't alone. I felt like I was on an island, but I was simply on a drier with a great God sitting with me.

I believe because God has always been there when I felt like no one else was. No, you cannot prove God. I don't care. You cannot prove any emotion we experience. You cannot prove the "origin of species." We are left to our own devices. We are left to our own ghosts.

But we are not alone.


Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, December 1, 2014

5 Reasons I won my Wife and 5 Reasons I Could Have Lost Her

And here is another sappy tribute blog to the greatest woman to ever live. At least the greatest I've ever seen. We started dating in September of 1999. We met at a wedding of mutual friends. I was cocky and pretty conceited, but I was also very genuine and honest in my actions.

I had noticed her looking at me at the wedding ceremony and did the whole "It's on" thing from Swingers, which I had not seen yet due to my thought that it was a porno. At the reception, I noticed her staring again, so I picked up the camera and snapped a photo of her looking at me. After all, a photo does last longer. She asked me to dance later that night and now we are married.

I had planned how to win her heart while dating her. I believe that I succeeded and almost failed. Here's why.

How I won.

1. I took her on our first date to the cider mill, then to some old train tracks to meet homeless people that I had been feeding in a ministry I was in. I felt this would let her know my heart. Girls love guys with tattoos that also care about homeless people.

2. I would not kiss her for several dates. I wanted to connect on a different level, but was mindful of putting myself in the "He's a nice guy but super lame" category. I also didn't want to mess up. I was devout in my faith and didn't want to betray that.

3. I got her a music box and a teddy bear with matching features that I had for Sweetest day. She in turn got me tickets to my favorite band in the entire world, "Counting Crows." It was a double move that won us both over.

4. I chose to stay very close to my friends and to encourage her to do the same. I have always believed that people need their friends no matter what relationship you are in. In doing so, you show her you have self respect and also respect her.

5. I embraced her life. I went to her family functions and enjoyed them. I hung out with her friends and never discouraged her from anything she dreamed of. I loved her in entirety.

How I almost lost.

1. During the wedding we met at, I made this arrogant and awful statement that was pretty common of me at the time. She was discussing her fears about a dear loved one that was very sick and she had been attending church more due to that. I regret my own tongue for saying this. I regretted it the moment in slipped past my awful lips. I told her, "So you go to church only when you need something?" I wanted to smash my own nose when I said it. It was meant to be a joke, but it wasn't funny and I knew it. I have been known to say things that aren't funny when I get nervous.

2. I took her to Second City on a date. I wasn't so much of a fashion guy at the time. I liked the girl a lot, so I thought it would be a good time to update my wardrobe. This was a bad night for me in that sense. Joan Rivers would have made me the laughing stock. I wore these grey dress pants and this way-too-tight green sweater, that almost had a little turtle neck to it. She said nothing at the time, but would later admit wanting to vomit on it.

3. Our very first Christmas together, I had learned that her parents had gotten her a new television. I decided to get her a VCR and a Tom Green video tape. I didn't even know if she even liked Tom Green, but I thought he was funny. So funny in fact that I opened the video and watched it before I gave it to her and lamely tried to shrink wrap it. She knew right away. I won't live that down anytime soon.

4. I was in a rap-core band. I rapped. Take that in. I played the turn tables. Take that in also.

5. I usually would wait before calling a girl. I played it cool. The night we met, she almost didn't give me her number. That messed with my head a lot. The girl dances with me all night and hesitates to want to see me again? I lost my mind and called her like twice over the next couple days. I spoke with her little Scottish grandmother, who assured me that "Lauda was ot shcoool ond would be hoem suoon." Luckily, she did call me back.

In the end, I won the girl and got this amazing life.


 Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, November 22, 2014

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


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.


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.


Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, November 16, 2014


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.


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.


Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, November 10, 2014


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.


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. 


Thanks for reading...Z