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.

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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.

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.