A Dang Shame

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Last summer I was driving home from the gym. A few miles before my house, I saw this white car on the side of the road with its hazards flashing. Nothing out of the ordinary – a car on the side of the road, broke down. As I got closer, I saw a young mom holding her two year old across her body in her arms. Her daughter looked to be about four. Well, I immediately pulled over and backed up to them. I got out, drenched, with my ankle brace still on my leg. She probably wondered what I wanted.

The little two year old boy was sleeping, without a shirt, in her arms, spread across her chest, and his little head was soaked with sweat. All of them were flush from the heat. I said, “ma’am is there anything I can do to help?”

“No thank you, we are fine.” That’s all she said.

That was hardly an answer. It was more to the tone, “please leave.” I didn’t want to make her feel uneasy. I didn’t get within twenty feet of her, but it was the babies that concerned me. I asked her how long she had been out there.

“About two hours, but someone is coming to pick us up.”

“Two hours! Has anyone stopped to help you?”

“No, but my husband is off work now and he is coming.”

I said, “Well the store is just a few miles up the road, I can go and get y’all something to drink at least.”

“No, it’s okay. Someone is coming and will be here soon.”

“Okay” I say, “well take care.” And I left.

The young mother didn’t know what to expect from a stranger. She didn’t trust me and I can’t say that I blame her with all that goes on in the world. She was doing the right thing, which is a dang shame.

Categories: Life & Musings | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Habits or Obsessions?

I reckon a person without a hobby would have to be unhappy and boring. We must have them, if for no other reason than to fool ourselves into thinking we have freedom in our lives. That is kind of laughable if you stop and consider how long we spend in our cars and at work. If you consider the bills you pay and the debt you owe, we are serfs.

At any rate, I’ve ruined just about every hobby. I don’t have a particular hobby, other than reading, that I go to time after time. So if I don’t find a new hobby, and soon, I tend to get lazy and miserable. It’s about this time something will come to mind and I throw myself into it. I enjoy it because it keeps my mind occupied and allows me to pour my mental and physical energy into it. Believe me, being trapped in my mind is not a good place to be.

So I took up boxing, grad school, writing, and just about everything else in between. I thought seriously of making my own wine. You might say, wow, that AH sure is an energetic guy. Quite the contrary; I’m actually lazy and aloof sometimes.

Here’s the problem, though. These hobbies of mine always turn into obsessions. They no longer serve as a healthy outlet; I turn them into a burden almost. Every day I think about my new hobby, read about it, practice it or do it – whatever it is. In the end, it tires me and stresses me out. After a while, the thought of it turns my stomach. This usually takes about a year. Then I’ll go through withdraws until I find a new obsession. (I once mentioned how I obsessed over the grass in my yard. I rented a tiller, tore up my yard, bought seed, fed and watered it, and inspected it almost every day. I even had dreams about it. Once it started growing, I never thought another second about it. I probably will never think about grass again).

This obviously aggravates my wife. She’s learned though that this is how I am. She thinks it’s funny and annoying. She doesn’t understand why I can’t just sit still and be content. I don’t understand why I can’t either. The best way I can explain it is that I need a purpose, a task, a project nearly every day of my life.

It’s exhausting though. I constantly feel as if I’m wasting time, or wasting an opportunity if I’m not occupied with something. Sadly, with all these obsessions that is exactly what I end up doing.

I’m always preoccupied with being preoccupied.

Categories: Living & Health | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Two Roads

Two Roads

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one heavily beat down from foot traffic,
And that has been the source of all my problems.

he-he

Categories: Life & Musings | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Has Anyone Seen Me?

Hi folks! Boy, I’m a little embarrassed at having fallen off the radar for so long. I had finals that took a week of research and about 4 days of writing. That’s done.

I’ve been working on another project that has taken a lot of my time. I’m researching and writing a historical fiction autobiography about a Confederate cavalry soldier who rode with Nathan Bedford Forrest during the US Civil War. The project has gone surprisingly fast. I’m in chapter 3, about 46 pages or 13,000 words. I believe I can complete the book in 10 chapters, roughly 170 to 200 pages (60,000 words). I hope to be done with it in 6 months or so.

The book is in the rough stages. I haven’t had time to polish it. I’m busy with the story and research. I am going to hire an editor to help with that part.

Here is an excerpt from an action scene.

I spurred my horse out of a particularly crowded area. I did not want to be shot in the back and could not make heads or tails of anything with so much commotion going on around me. As I turned my steed and spurred him toward the fighting, I felt a terrible crash and was thrown a clear 10 feet through the air. A panicked, riderless horse, blinded by fear and confusion, ran into my own. I lay flat on the ground for only a second, out of breath from the fall, with a bad pain in my left shoulder. My revolver was lost in the tumble and I searched frantically for it. Directly a Federal soldier approached me, seeing that I was unarmed, walked toward me menacingly, rifle out in front, firmly gripped in both hands, just as he was taught in drill. I unsheathed my sabre and displayed it, hoping the sight of it would change the mind of my enemy. He kept coming forward, with that same look of determination, holding that rifle of his. Directly he brought it up, the bayonet extended four feet from his body, and diced the air with it as if he was considering what parts to carve from me.

He slashed once at my head, and lunged quickly with it center of my chest. The sudden rush caused me to trip over a stump. The pain in my shoulder made me howl in agony but not before I slashed a piece of flesh from his forearm with my sabre. He dropped his gun but instead of picking it up, he jumped atop of me and pummeled me with his still one good arm. We fought and rolled, and my shoulder felt shattered. My sabre lay next to my useless arm. I searched by my boot and felt the handle of my Bowie knife, and sank the blade deep into his back. He screamed just inches from my face. I could smell his breath. His eyes went wide and bulged from their sockets. Immediately, he wore a ghostly pale. He rolled off of me and flopped on the ground like he had been splashed with scalding water. “You didn’t have to do that! You didn’t have to stab me!” He moaned. “You killed me. You killed me.” He said through tears. I scooted away from him as if he were contagious. The horror of it sobered me. Killing man as you dart by on a horse is one thing. Killing a man who is so close you can see the expression in his face change the second the blade enteres, changes you forever.

“Now you lay still, Yank!” I told him.

“You killed me. You didn’t have to do that.” He kept saying. The lady he mentioned there at the last, Claire, I am sure was his wife.

“Now just lie still there!” Was all I could think to say. He was a dead man and we both knew it. It was torturous for the both of us waiting for the fact to catch up to the circumstance. Directly he never said another word again.

Categories: Reading & Writing | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy Valentines Day

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There isn’t much to write about on my end. So I decided to try an exercise where you take an opening sentence from a story and run with it.

So I grabbed an opening line from one of William Faulkner’s stories and wrote about a couple I saw on a recent retreat with my wife.

Through the [concrete noun], between the [adjective] [concrete noun], I could see them [verb ending in
"ing"].

Through the mirror, between the soft kisses, I could see them touching. She looked to be twenty years his junior. He enjoyed her company. He liked the way she made him feel. He was on vacation, even if only for a weekend. She was slightly more reserved than him, but not enough to see without studying her actions. His chair turned so that he faced her, and he could not keep his hands off her. Gently he would rub her arm or her thigh. He spoke low and often leaned in to whisper to her. She could not defend herself from being flattered.

Only one seat separated me from him. He asked the bartender for a menu. I said, “You can have mine. I’m through looking.” A thirty dollar salad was not appetizing. I slid it over toward him. He took it without as much as a glance to me. He said something to the effect as “very good” or “very nice.” Not a thank you, nor an acknowledgment. He swiveled his chair to face her again, and they both hovered over it, heads inches apart.

I saw them again the next morning at the pool. In the middle of the water, they bobbed together, head and shoulders sticking out of the water, like two solitary islands in an ocean. He held her close. He thought the pool hid his hands, but they were visible, magnified by the water as they both rested and moved over the curves of her buttocks. Again and again they would kiss. Again he would whisper to her. And yet again, like the evening before, he could not keep his hands off her. And yet again, like the evening before, she could not defend herself from being flattered.

I am sure he was married, only not to her.

Categories: People & Places | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

On Revealed Religions

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It’s Monday so why the heck not. You are free to read without agreeing with a word of it.

To believe firmly in something, one must have tangible evidence of proof that the object of belief exists. Therefore, the object must be observable, seen, or experienced. For example, that the process of life begins at conception, and the tiny life matures in its mother’s womb, develops its sex, and then enters the world nine months later is a fact of nature through observation. Our early ancestors did not need to know the science behind this fact to prove this was true. Much in the way they did not have to understand the necessities of minerals, vitamins, protein, etc., to know they must eat and drink to live. They ate and felt healthy and well without knowing how their organs broke down the food into tiny chemical molecules and fed their bodies.

Similarly, modern people believe an ancient power existed in Rome and that its empire spanned across much of Europe, stretched west to Great Britain, south to North Africa and east to the borders of Iran (Persia). We believe the Roman Empire existed from the observations of others who lived during the centuries of its existence. There is a high probability that such a place and empire existed without the benefit of observing it. We have tangible evidence from historical accounts and physical proof of ruins that we can observe even if the empire no longer exists today. Moreover, we know that such an event in history is highly probable because the thing itself is not unthinkable.

When it comes to forces such as gravity, no one at any time has ever seen it, touched it, smelled it or tasted it. We can, however, observe its effects. It is what we call self-evident. Proof of its existence is its effects. To defy its law, a special set of mathematical circumstances is needed. A system of propulsion can defy its threshold, and an object can force its way through its clutches into space, but anything beneath its threshold and the object will be pushed down to its point of origination. There are no exceptions to its law.

What of religion then? Billions around the world believe in hundreds of different religions; with Christianity claiming the most adherents. Religion, especially where the big three, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are concerned, have relied on revelation from God, and the revelation is shared by prophets and spread by converts. Where the three are concerned, this where the similarities end. Despite their claims in sharing the same “one true God,” their messages are demostratively different. This immediately creates a contradiction with the thing itself: the one true God. If God is true and one, then there cannot be room for three interpretations, and certainly not three which make mutually exclusive claims. That would create the possibilities of three Gods, poor communication or duplicity on the part of God. In any case, that would leave us with an untruthful God or a fraudulent human enterprise.

This is where revealed religion breaks down and shows a very human aspect to its construction. In all three cases, man delivered the word of God either revealed to him directly by God or indirectly through angels on behalf of God. Unlike the previous examples given, these claims remain unverifiable. The man whom it was revealed to can only hope to convince others he is telling the truth. Those who believe the man’s account, then, do so, not on proof of revelation, and not of God either since he did not share his revelation publically, but in the belief of the man making the claim.

Centuries later, proof that God revealed anything to man is still scant. The event, whether real, imagined, or made up, is available to us only in religious scripture. Ironically, we are no closer to the revelation of God than the man whom heard it first from the mouth of the so-called prophet. Like him, the only way to believe that these revelations happened is to believe the one who spoke the revelation or the accounts given from those who documented it. It leaves no room for proof or verification outside of those two options. In either case, we leave the concrete realm of possibility and enter into the sandy realm of hearsay. As a consequence, we are left with believing the most fickle creature the world has known: Man.

Insofar as to what kind of God exists is debatable, but the fact that the universe exists with order, laws, and design is not. Might these things prove the existence of a master intellect, a Great Creator that was the first cause? I think so. Perhaps then, that is the real revelation from God. There is no need for earthy spokesmen and temples and cathedrals. Nature speaks on His behalf and creation is His cathedral.

News of the Pope inspired this long stream of thought.

Categories: Life & Musings | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

‘Why Don’t You Crawl Back Under the Bridge You Came From’

That sounds like an ugly thing to say doesn’t it? Yeah, I think so too but it was said yesterday. Let me explain.

I stopped off at Dick’s Sporting Good to pick up a few things I needed for my gym. Specifically, a new jump rope and a cushioned pad so that the hard cement doesn’t continue to wreck my knees and ankles. If you want to stay conditioned enough to move around the ring, jump roping is a must. But I’ve digressed.

I walk into the place and immediately hear yelling from a man with a gruff voice using every profanity he could recall; and made up other ones to use in place when his recollection failed. This isn’t something you see every day. Unfortunately — or fortunately, I haven’t decided yet, I had to swing a right at the door in order to get back to the area I needed to shop. This man was going on and on about a damaged sleeping bag and how “they” sold him a “shitty product” and plenty more of those kind of things. He dropped f-bombs at least a dozen times that I heard, and I had not been in there longer than just 30 seconds.

As I get to the front of the counters, I notice that he is saying all of this to a woman. This lady’s voice was cracking whenever he gave her a moment for a response, her chin was quivering, and she was visibly nervous. Well, that set me off some kind of good. If I can speak plainly, it pissed me off. So I slowed my pace just in case. She told the bum that she had to go speak with her manager. As she was walking off he continued his rant and even called her a f—— b—-.

He pissed me off. The way he looked pissed me off. The way he dressed pissed me off. The way his gruff, throaty, ruined voice sounded pissed me off. The way he was standing there pissed me off. He saw me watching, and propped his elbow on the counter and took to staring at me with a pair of walleyes.

I asked if I could help him. He said, “I don’t know, can you?”

I told him that depends, I reckon. He said, “on what?”

“If  you want a real fixing or not.” I told him I thought he had a loud obnoxious mouth and I thought he was a coward for talking to a woman like that.

He responded that he didn’t give a f—- and would cuss whoever he f—— wanted.

I told him he wouldn’t cuss me like that. And he didn’t. He just continued to stare at me with those large marbles of his.

I told him when he got his sleeping bag back to do everyone a favor and crawl back under the bridge he came from. That’s when the manager came and he asked us to stop. So I did.

But it got me to thinking. Let’s say he would have cussed me or gotten aggressive with me. There is little doubt in my mind that I would have whipped circles around his tubby butt. I mean I could have wrecked him inside of two seconds. I would have enjoyed it too. But I probably would have been arrested along with him, booked along with him, and fined along with him. Would all of that had been worth it? Probably not.

Sometimes I wish I still lived back in that country town where I would have been given a medal and day off from work for whipping such a man as that.

Categories: People & Places | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Sentence I Came Across

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It grabbed me. There is nothing special or brave about it I don’t suppose. I liked its construction is all. I think it is a useful model. At first glance it may appear ambiguous, dangling out there on its end and would probably be marked down as a fragment, but I like it. Sometimes, and even more rarely than that, language and thought supersedes grammar in my opinion.

“Without night or day, and the sun spinning slowly in a cold sky.”

Categories: Reading & Writing | Tags: , | 4 Comments

The Battle on Billy Goat Hill

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When I was a boy, I wanted a goat. I know from where this interest came. I will do my best to explain to you the story.

When I was little, I would sometimes go with my dad to work. My dad was self-employed and so worked at the homes of his customers. Since I was too young to work, and far too interested in the new surroundings to be of much use, I was free to roam.

At one particular home, I remember, the owner had several goats. I had never seen one in person. There were a half-dozen or so. The ladies, as most ladies are, were kind and welcoming. They allowed me to pet them and would dance around me. I examined their eyes, and their strange square-shaped pupils. I gave their beards a tug and this they didn’t mind. However, one drew the line when I tried to ride her.

Then I met him — the brown and white patriarch of the herd. He stood a distance away observing the activity. He was a magnificently arrogant fellow, with a long beard, and one could tell immediately he cherished his position as the head. I’m not sure if he was jealous or if curiosity got the better of him, but he strolled toward the fun and was serious about ending it.

Here he was — a Billy-goat, with a pair of foot-long horns. These he showed me. So I did what I was supposed to do. I grabbed them with both hands. In the absence of a well thought out idea, I reckoned this was a good one at the time. I pushed him back a few steps, and then I twisted his head side to side. I was having a blast. He barely offered a protest. I continued with the fun – pushing, twisting, and turning him. Then he stopped. His neck stiffened, and his legs locked.

He said, “Young man, I know not who you are nor from where you came, but this is my hill and none of my ladies take a liking to anyone, not even a boy, without my permission. And now you are daring me in front of my lovely concubines. This is a dare, I am afraid for you, I have to take.”

He reared up his front legs, and lunged with his spare ones. On my butt I tumbled, and over the top of me he stepped. Even as a boy, I could see that things were serious.

My pride was hurt. I was embarrassed, outdone, and on my butt in front of a group of nice ladies. The Billy-goat stood there proud, half turned, and eying me with the left one. I’m sure I heard him laugh. I spat, flashed my teeth, stood and gave him a shove in the ribs. He straightened and we stood face to face. He showed me his horns. I grabbed them. The tussle began again.

We were locked in combat. Both of us were keenly aware the ladies were watching. This time I leaned in hard and walked him back several feet and when he lunged, I let go, moved out of the way, gave him a passing shove, then grabbed his horns again, and twisted and turned his head some more. This we repeated for some time — neither side winning, neither side losing but tearing up all of God’s creation. The ladies cheered, gasped, one fainted.  Then he quit. I tried to entice him for more combat, feeling robbed of a proper victory, a chance to settle it for good. It was of no use, he’d met his match.

I did what any victor would do. I returned to the company of the nice ladies and danced with all of them. I should have been wiser. Though I won our contest, the Billy-goat was far from defeated. He did not appreciate me adding insult to injury by dancing with his women. I did not see the horned devil coming. I just felt an incredible thud on my right side. He sent my little body flying and tumbling end over end over the ground. (It is a record distance in that town to this day by any goat in a boy throwing contest).

The Billy-goat and I’m afraid to say, even the ladies, thought I cried. That is a lie. During my fall, I got dirt in my eyes, which made my eyes water profusely. I would like to state that clearly and end the matter. I did not cry.

I faced my foe.

“You do not fight fair, sir!” I protested.

“I am a Billy-goat.” He responded.

There is not room here for me to explain the reaction of my father. He was not pleased and I had to stay by his side the rest of the day. Before we left, I pleaded and begged for him to buy me that Billy-goat. He told me no that I would have it so mean in a week’s time  “it wouldn’t be worth shoot’n!”

I’ve never owned a goat but neither have I forgotten that day, and neither have I stopped wanting to own one since.

Categories: Growing Up & Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Writer’s Block

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If there were one among us who could have written the greatest poem or the most significant novel, it was him. He promised he would accomplish a great work many times. With ease, he rolled out ideas for lines, plots, and descriptions of emotionally deep characters. His satchel never far from his body was full of crumpled, blank pieces of paper. For the inspiration, he reached down to pull up a handful. Laid out in front of him delicately on the desk, he spent time smoothing out the wrinkles, and pressing down the creased edges. He placed the blank shreds in order. With his long fingers rested on his chin, he leaned back to consider. “No, that cannot go there. The thought is wrong.” Then set about to rearrange the blank shreds into another order he preferred. A time would pass.

Always by the window – for he liked its view — he sat in deep concentration. His face contorted in agony; the sign of a deep thinker, no doubt. Mumbling to himself things about rhymes and meter, he became uncontrollably excited. He would sit, stand, pace and sit again. The manic actions promised a flurry of creative activity. Then the words came like wind. He bolted to his chair with purpose, grasped tightly in his pale boney hand, the pen stayed still, afraid to touch the paper. A time would pass.

Finally, he exclaimed, “I’ve got it!” and slump over his paper, poor in posture, pen grasped. The paper prepared for the dictates of its master. The paper lay innocently and undisturbed. A time would pass.

“No, it is not right! It cannot end like that.” We heard him say. He grasped the pen again and pulled the paper under his chin. We watched intently with breathless anticipation as he traced the air the words running through his mind, the pen only a few precious inches from the paper, finally the pen stilled, ready to write, slowly closer it descended in his hand until there was but the slightest hint of light between paper and pen! — but gave up to exclaim, “It is no use. I cannot write in such a dreary place!”

He stood and placed his greatcoat over his scrawny and sunken frame. Never did someone resemble a turtle as he did standing there, but we were prepared to claim it a capable turtle. He marched out of the room hurriedly. Saying aloud, his finger raised, “A genius must be free! A genius needs his space!”

A wave of blank shreds of paper circled behind in his wake, and fell to a rest on the floor.

Categories: Reading & Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

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