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some of it's true

  • Finding God

    1 MAR. 2023 · The crowd followed behind the boy as he held his chin up and continued to walk the road rarely traveled by others. No one had a reason anymore to take the dirt path leading to the only church remaining in the small town. That trail continued beyond the abandoned house of worship to the coast and ended beneath an ancient cypress tree. Step after step, the followers thinned out, leaving only a handful mocking the young man for his misguided faith in a long-dead ghost. The boy recalled his last conversation with his ill father as he approached the destination, "Dad, tell me again about God and how he once lived here and walked our streets." The dying man forced a smile and spoke to his eager son, "Kid, he didn't just go around chatting it up with his barber or squeezing tomatoes at the market like you and me. But he was real and was as big a part of this community as anyone else. You could see him in the faces of friends, neighbors, and even strangers passing through." Puzzled, the boy asked, "How can you see something that isn't there?" His father sat up in bed and explained, "Even when our city faced hardships, there was a sense of calm, and that was God. When our loved ones passed on and we took the time to comfort each other, that was God. When strangers stopped to smile at one another, that was God. If someone needed help and half the town volunteered, that was God. He wasn't only present at church on Sunday; he lived here every day with each of us. "What happened, Dad? Why did he leave?" The boy questioned. "He didn't go anywhere. We left him," his father insisted. The boy's chest swelled up as he asked his father, "How do I find him again? Where do I look?" A half-rotten apple struck the boy in the ankle, and the culprits laughed, but the curious adventurer refused to look back. Never losing focus, he continued on his journey. His only thoughts were of his father telling him to look for God at the top of the cypress at the end of town. But the other kids did not make his trek an easy one. They continued to throw things and voiced their opinions from a distance. "Look what I have in my pocket; it's God." "The idiot thinks he can climb a tree and see God." "If God were real, he'd let us know." "Maybe he thinks that tree will get him closer to Heaven," the children laughed and continued to call the boy names and make fun of him for seeking God. The boy paused an instant at the foot of the tree to look up and second-guess his decision. He could hear his father's voice rooting him on, so he began to climb. The remaining group insisted that the young man had lost his mind and he would eventually fall. The boy did indeed slip a couple of times and scraped his leg against the rough bark of the cypress, but he continued upward. It was as if some invisible force took control of the boy's arms and legs, propelling him toward the top. The harsh words below grew faint until, finally, the sounds vanished into the breeze. Thoughts of how such a giant tree started as a single seed hundreds of years ago entertained his imagination. He clambered until it wasn't safe to go further and relaxed on the last sturdy limb. His peers had turned into tiny specs along the ascent and were no longer a bother. The boy sat patiently, waiting to see the face of God. Sunbeams shot through the foilage, kissing his sweaty face and revealing a cross carved above a hole wide enough for an inquisitive hand. The tired young man reached in and pulled out a small pocket-sized bible. Resting his back against the tree, he started at the beginning and read for hours. With the bible tucked securely in his pocket, it was time to descend. Most of the crowd had gotten bored and found other things to do except for two children waiting patiently for the boy to come down from the cypress. One of them spoke up and asked the boy, "Did you find him? Did you find God at the top of that tree?" Desperate for an answer, both of the young people waited. The boy dug the tiny bible from his pocket, looked into the faces of the two who remained, and said, "Yeah, I found him just now." And he read from the pages to his audience.
    Escuchado 4m 39s
  • Best Honeymoon Ever

    28 DIC. 2022 · Before discussing the honeymoon in great detail, it's essential to develop an understanding of our relationship. It's amazing how perspectives change after fifty birthdays. Our main goal this year after Lynette moved in over the summer was to be debt free going into the new year (except for the house.) We had a plan because, well, we're planners. And like any good plan, it all fell apart by fall. Unexpected circumstances never fail to pop up, and our water heater went out just like that. Even with the odds against us, we're still going to accomplish the number one goal by the end of December. Prayer and persistence go a long way, so the debt never stood a chance. Now that you know our priorities, we can discuss the juicy stuff; the honeymoon. The following few paragraphs aren't for everyone, and it may be a good idea to stop reading now. I tend to write with a lot of detail, which may be more than most of you are ready to hear. Heck, the majority of you probably won't believe most of it anyway. The day's main goal was to get married around noon, so we'd have the rest of the day too, well, you know, do stuff. Everything went as planned, and the handful of attendees was gone by 1:45. Lynette and I were definitely on track to experience a new level of ecstasy that would last all afternoon and possibly into the evening. We even went as far as to place a checklist on the fridge to ensure we hit every spot and didn't miss a single opportunity. We gave ourselves two days to make the magic happen, knowing we'd soak up every second. Naturally, we threw our coats on and headed to the County Clerk's Office. We both had fanny packs full of snacks and HBO max on the phone, prepared for a long wait. Getting this stop off our list would give us a head start tomorrow because we'd attempt to knock out two more government offices in one swoop. That's a total of three government offices in two days. Unheard of, right? We strolled in, still high off of newlywed bliss, took a number, and took a seat. We sat for a minute giggling like two school girls because even a long wait at the County Clerks couldn't spoil our day. Then they called our number. Wait, what? We weren't even sitting long enough to gaze into one another's eyeballs. And the lady at window 13 was charming. I know none of this makes sense, but it happened, I swear. We were in and out in ten minutes and a day ahead of schedule, so we decided to press our luck and go to the next painful location, the Social Security Office. We knew this would be a long wait, and we didn't mind because we were ready for it anyway. And with it barely being a few minutes after 2:00, we felt optimistic that we could get it done and only have one stop tomorrow at the dreaded DMV. We moseyed in, took a seat, and BAM! Our number echoed over the speaker, and we sat in the agent's cubicle longer than we hung out in the lobby. We were back on the road by about 2:40. This was unheard of because we knocked out two places we both had dreaded in less than one hour. You won't believe it, but the lady who helped us was super nice. Yeah, I know, but I swear this isn't fiction. I'm telling the truth. We wondered if this was God's plan and not ours. That's the only explanation we have. Since we were already a day ahead of schedule, we decided to go ahead and take a trip to the DMV. If we could pull this off, we'd have the entire day on Wednesday to sleep in and do whatever we wanted. We knew it would be impossible, but we had to try. We punched in the information at the kiosk, and before we could even have a seat, Lynette got a text saying our number was next. Okay, this had to be a glitch. No way we would get out of here that quick without at least a bribe. As soon as we sat down, we stood up and headed to the lady at window three. And guess what? She was delightful. Just like that, we were out the door by 3:05. We swung by the bank, Farm Bureau, and the dry cleaners and returned home before dark. Now you know the story of how we knocked out three government offices in less than an hour and thirty minutes. You can believe it or not, I don't believe it myself, but it happened. The experience gave us the best honeymoon we could have wished for in our lifetime. Things may have gotten better, but that's none of your business.
    Escuchado 4m 53s
  • Emie And Me

    13 NOV. 2022 · The old folks have always said that love tends to hurt. Well, they were spot on when it came to Emie and me. I couldn't have been more than eleven when she moved into the neighborhood. Clarkstown is a quaint community, but that girl sure did liven things up. I caught her attention when I passed her house on my bike for the ninth time. The whole ordeal was my fault. She did warn me, after all. Emily belted out, "Stop!" as soon as I zipped by her driveway. Her voice carried more authority than anticipated, so I complied and locked the brakes on my Huffy. Never judging a book by the cover finally made sense when I witnessed Emily throw her doll down in the dirt and crawl under the house to grab a weathered baseball. She didn't give a second thought to getting her Sunday best muddy. Once the tiny giant stood up, she wiped her hands on her lacy dress and spoke again, "This is your one and only warning. You'll be sorry if I catch you riding by my house again." She pretended to throw the ball at me by the time she finished speaking. It startled me enough that I decided peddling could be better than hanging around to see if she was serious. My new neighbor stood at attention, ready to fire as I rode around the corner and out of sight. Hours passed before I worked up the courage to soar past her yard again. After stopping up the street to check and see if the coast was clear, I decided to go for it. In one sweet motion, I relieved my kickstand and pushed off the pavement with my scruffy Converse. Luckily there was enough of a hill that I could build up plenty of momentum. All I had to do was pass her driveway, and I'd be safe. My confidence was over the top because there was no way anyone could hit me with a baseball at my supersonic speed. Like a runner winning a marathon, I passed her drive, flinging my arms into the air in triumph. "I guess she knows who the boss is around here," I spoke into the wind right before I heard it. The sound was like a golfer smacking a ball on the course, except it was a baseball nailing the back of my head. Pain instantly followed, and my body flew over the handlebars onto the blacktop. Everything went dark until my eyes focused, divulging an angel. Emie crouched next to me with a look of concern blended into a precious innocence I'd never experienced. Her face was prettier than sunlight leaping from water drops before drying up on blades of grass. "Water drops? Blades of grass?" She mumbled before continuing, "Why didn't you just listen to me? None of this had to happen, but you had to prove how big and bad you are. Now you're lying here talking nonsense and bleeding to death in the street." By the time I could lift my head, I had noticed grownups approaching in the distance. After stuffing the baseball into my pocket, I introduced myself to the girl who had tried to kill me, "I'm Jack." She said, "I'm Emie," right before the adults took me home. It was the first time I ever heard her say her name. No one but Emie and me knew why I wrecked that Sunday afternoon. The doctor never questioned me as he stitched up my head. Mom and Dad figured I was being stupid and showing off. They were grateful Emie came to my rescue and even took me back to her house to say thanks for ensuring I was okay. When my folks left the room, the young baseball pro told me we'd be best friends from now on because she'd never trusted anyone as she did me. And that was precisely the moment we became the best of friends. Life sure does move fast. Plans break, and situations get rearranged before we realize it most of the time. I began to grow and forget things that matter. Somewhere in there, girls became the culprit who kept me up at night instead of my fear of one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eaters. All females were aliens except for Emie. We'd often argue over small things like whose turn it was to swing from the rope to splash in the lake. Even when we fought, we grew closer, something I wouldn't experience with anyone else in my lifetime. By the time I hit sixteen, I was driving my best friend to school and back home daily. It wasn't a long trip, but we'd often sit in front of her house talking for an extra hour or two. We discussed everything from the plans after graduation to the opposite sex. And it was all frightening. "Whatever happens, we should always stick together, Jack." "Gosh, Emie, I'm not even sure what I want to do yet. Everyone is pressuring me into college, but that's not what I'm passionate about." "How often do I have to tell you to stop worrying about what others want you to do? Man up and make your own decisions. Besides, we still have a year to think about it." "You don't even make sense. You're always telling me to be my own person, but you insist on us living in the same town forever. How am I supposed to make decisions for myself if they always have to include you?" Frustrated, Emie reaches for the door to get out of the car, but Jack changes his attitude and continues, "Wait. Don't go; I have something to tell you. It's about the Christmas dance coming up soon." Emie takes a deep breath and listens, "This isn't easy for me to say, but I've decided to take Beth." "Beth! What is wrong with you? That girl has no personality, and she can't even rollerskate. Jack, listen, you can do so much better than her. She talks funny too. It's like she's a mix between Cher and Walter Cronkite." "Do better? Like who? You? At least Beth doesn't confuse me. At least she doesn't contradict herself every five minutes!" "You know what, mister, I will now exit this automobile and retire into my home. Please do not talk to me again until you come to your senses. Don't worry about picking me up tomorrow; I can walk to where I need to go just fine!" Emie slammed the door, marched up the sidewalk, and inside. Anger got the best of me as I threw the car in reverse and screeched out, not paying attention. The car didn't get far because I backed right into Mr. Ken's Cadilliac. He's the local pharmacist and has a reputation for being a nice guy. Let's just say I saw a completely different side of Mr. Ken while I waited for my Dad to show up at the scene. Emie came back out to sit with me while I was getting yelled at by the infuriated gentlemen. Emie and I sat there, trying not to giggle at the choice of words directed through my window while she held a bag of frozen peas to the knot on my forehead. We walked to school together the next day. Later that year, we attended the Christmas dance with each other. I'm sure by now you've guessed that we eventually got married. We had kids, and those kids had kids, and it felt like our home here in Clarkstown was never empty. None of the children needed the excuse of a holiday to stop by to see us; they simply dropped by unannounced, which was fine by us. One year Emie had me get a real tree for Christmas. I slipped on the ice in the driveway, and she was the first to come to my rescue. It was only a couple of stitches on that occasion. Through all the hardships and minor injuries, the old song by Louise Armstrong always stuck with me. We did indeed live in a wonderful world as long as we were together. Our daughter Jessica, who turned forty last month, loves to keep the tradition alive, and I don't mind one bit. She'll drag her husband along with their three kids and spend the majority of the Christmas season here. They'll all help with the tree, and sweet smells always drift from the kitchen to fill the house. It's not just the scent of freshly baked cookies that makes me happy. The aroma, accompanied by love, is one fragrance I'll forever adore. Jessica is her mother; whenever she glances at me, a look of concern blends into a precious innocence. She delicately questioned if I'd been speaking to Mom again. I explained a day doesn't pass without sharing a few words. Jessica then reminds me it's been almost twenty years since her mother died. After politely asking my daughter to shush, I closed my eyes and rested my head on the couch before supper. I'm sure she thinks I'm a senile old man, but the truth is I've never been sharper. Aside from losing my Emie, my biggest fear was getting used to her being gone. I'll never forget how hard she loved me and what it felt like to lose her. The pain reminds me of how wonderful this world is. Years ago, Emie and me sat on the front porch watching the kids play. We knew it wouldn't be long before she moved on, but we laughed and joked anyway. "Hey Jack, remember that time you tripped over the garden hose in the front yard after I flashed you through the kitchen window? You walked funny for a whole week." I told her the old folks were right all along. Love certainly does hurt. But I wouldn't change a thing.
    Escuchado 11m 37s
  • Change

    3 NOV. 2022 · It all started around the Thanksgiving table at my parent's house in 2021. The big plan was to propose to Sally when it was my turn to tell everyone why I was thankful. It marked our fourth year together during the Holidays listening to Uncle Joe tell everyone he was saved from a horrible end when Aunt June left him for the Quickie-Mart attendant. And Mom shared how blessed she was to be around for another season after having that hairy mole removed, even though she's in perfect health. It was tradition to let all the ladies go first, and my brother would make the same lame joke each year directed at me, "Ladies first, looks like you're up, Walter." He'd then awkwardly cackle alone for ten whole seconds before we took turns around the table. My older sister Kathleen kicked things off by talking about her newest addition to the family. It's not what you think; she's obsessed with cats even though her husband Phil is allergic. The poor guy sits around all day sneezing and rubbing his eyes, and Kathleen keeps bringing home more kittens. I stopped going to her house because you can imagine the chaos and mix of odors floating around. The place always smelled like gingerbread and urine every November and December. Each year she insists on dressing the felines up on special days. They all had tiny skeleton shirts for Halloween, and for Christmas, they'll be sporting ugly sweaters that Kathleen happened to bring on Thanksgiving to pass around for everyone to examine. Dad finally cut off my sister about ten minutes into the fashion show to ask Sally to speak. My girlfriend stood up to address the audience as I fiddled with the engagement ring inside my pocket. Sally took a deep breath and said, "I've grown to adore all of you except Walter." The crowd laughed, and she continued, "Yeah, right, a joke. Except I'm not joking. I mean, it would be great if I was, I wish I were kidding around, but I'm not. You see, I was most in love with Walt the first month we were together. It's been downhill ever since. I've tried to work up enough courage to leave him the last two years because I convinced myself things would get better the first two years we were together. After drinking too much spiked eggnog this evening, the courage finally surfaced. Now is as good a time as any to break the news. Trying my best to convince Sally that it was not the best time or place for this discussion was hopeless. She had something to say, and it all had to come out, so she went on, "You, Walter are a terrible person. It didn't take long to figure out you only care about yourself." Sally slammed her drink and had more to say, "I can't even count the number of times you stood me up so you could do your silly online gaming stuff with your buddies you've never even met. You embarrass me when we eat out because you upset the server on purpose every time so that you can justify not tipping. Your sister's house smells like a dead animal, but she is still your sister. It wouldn't kill you to visit her once a year. And your brother, well, I can't blame you for not going to see him; he's also a jerk. Remember the Black Friday sale two years ago, Walter? I do; I'll never forget it. You ended up in a fistfight with that poor old woman over a Nintendo she wanted for her grandson." I spoke up and said, "Alright, let me stop you there. It was a Playstation, and..." Sally cut me off and continued to throw verbal punches, "I don't care what it was! By the way, that old woman would have kicked you around real good if she hadn't tripped over the random car seat on the floor. She had you up until she fell. Having to work with you every day right next to your cubicle is excruciating. You never bring the donuts when it's your turn, and you are always so mean to Stuart around the corner. Is it because he has thick glasses? Are you still in the sixth grade? I'm simply amazed at how much of my life I have wasted on you—shame on me." Sally's phone beeped; she looked at it and touched the screen as she struggled to push her chair under the table. "My Uber is here. Look, I guess I'm thankful it's over now, Walt." On her way out, she says, "You aren't very good-looking, you know. You think you are, but you're a little chunky." Sally paused to throw up on the potted Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree and yelled, "See you at work on Monday." Immediately Uncle Joe asked Kathleen to pass the sweet potatoes as Dad said, "She's right, you know. You aren't very nice, Walt." I found myself alone on the deck after dinner in the cold. Phil joined me after a few minutes. It was a surprise because we'd never exchanged more than a couple of words once a year at Thanksgiving. "You are an asshole, Walt." "Thanks, Phil. I appreciate the positive reinforcement." "I didn't step outside to sugarcoat things. I'm here to give you a little honesty." "Right, Phil, because there is absolutely a shortage of honesty this evening," I said sarcastically. "I know you make fun of me, Walter. I've overheard your remarks about your sister and her cat obsession. You think I'm crazy for putting up with her. The truth is, I deal with it because I love her. The idea is to give more in a relationship than we take. I'm always my happiest whenever Kathleen is happy. She can bring ten more cats home as long as it fills her with joy. I didn't always think that way, but once I figured it out, my whole life fell into place. It's like the central theme in all of those corny Holiday movies. 'Keep Christmas in your heart all year long,' or something like that. If you apply that principle to your life, you may discover happiness. You may or may not win the girl back, but you'll be a better person." I listened to Phil talk on and on about being kind and embracing the joy of giving. He sounded more and more like a Hallmark movie with each sentence. Then it dawned on me. He was explaining what I had to do to win over Sally. I looked at Phil and said, "You are a genius. I'll start doing nice things at work in front of Sally. Once she realizes I've changed, she'll be back in my arms in no time." "No, Walter, that's not what I'm saying. But if your plan makes you pleasant at work, at least that's a start. It's not always easy to do the right thing. Sometimes at home, I'll take a bottle of rum into the bathroom and take a few shots to clear my head." "Why do you go to the bathroom?" I asked. "The bathroom downstairs is the only room in the house the cats aren't allowed. I can knock back a few without sneezing liquor out of my nose." We both laughed. It was the first time I'd connected with anyone in years. After taking everything, Phil said to heart; I decided to put my plan into motion at work first thing. On the way in, I stopped for donuts. I ordered two dozen daily ahead of time to make up for all the days I missed. Everyone was a little shocked at first, but soon I got high fives from my coworkers when I walked in the door. Stuart became my regular lunch date. He was hesitant at first because he figured I would ambush him over tacos with some joke about how he looked like Scrat from Ice Age. It turns out Stuart had some mad skills in Call Of Duty, so Wednesday night became our game night. He stood up for me when I volunteered to play Santa at the office party, and no one else wanted me to do it. I even convinced everyone to chip in and donate to the local soup kitchen instead of exchanging gifts. I was winning everyone over at work except for Sally. She barely looked at me. My portrayal of the jolly fat man was on point. I have to say; I was feeling pretty good about everything for once. The party was going great until Sally showed up with her date. It was some guy she met in the elevator who worked two floors above us. They were holding hands and being overly flirtatious the entire time. It drove me nuts. As soon as Mr. Marvelous took a potty break, I confronted Sally. "It didn't take you very long, did it?" "Walter, I'm happy. I've been meaning to speak with you." "You have more to say? I think you said enough over Thanksgiving." "No, Walter, you need to stop." "Stop what?" I asked. "Stop trying to impress or win me back or whatever it is you are trying to do. I've moved on, and the best thing you can do is let me go." Sally walked away, and I felt emptier than ever. A few days later, I found myself at Kathleen's house. After visiting with my sister, I decided to sneak off with Phil to his favorite spot, the downstairs bathroom. Once I grabbed the bottle of rum from the kitchen, I asked Phil to follow me. We were a little cramped. I sat on the sink, and Phil took a seat on the toilet. I shook my head and explained to Phil that his plan didn't work. He reminded me that he only planted a seed of direction and never told me to go after Sally. "Walter, let me ask you a question." "I'm all ears, Phil." "Why did you come to our home today?" "I missed my sister. I was a little depressed and wanted to be around family." "That sounds nothing like the Walt, I know. Walter, how did it make you feel doing all those nice things at work?" "Better than I've felt ever, I guess." "Then stop pretending to be the good guy at work to impress Sally. Be that man everywhere." We took a drink... *Read the rest at SomeOfItsTrue.net
    Escuchado 13m 9s
  • Autumn Quest

    20 OCT. 2022 · The Mighty Cumberland backdrop materializes as the technicolored leaves drift to the earth, signaling transition. God performs an effortless miracle furnishing a stunning quilt to warm the ground during the months ahead. Autumn foliage frolics through the breeze, using the waft as its partner on the invisible dancefloor. Gifts from the limbs caress my face while promenading by. Some crunch beneath my sneakers, leaving a footprint only to be erased by more leaves and shuffled like cards by the wind. Images of pumpkins and Halloween candy infest my thoughts while dragging my rusty old rake over the sleeping grass. Life in the '70s is pretty simple, especially for a kid. Now that Saturday morning cartoons are behind me, it's time for the day's quest. I aim to build the most gigantic pile of leaves known to man. I've often dreamed of escaping from the car as Mom drives down Riverside and scaling the fence to play in the enormous sand piles by the road. Constructing my own giant pile of leaves will have to do for now. The urge to throw down the rake before everything is perfect will be a formidable obstacle to overcome, but I'm up for the challenge. It will be a lot of work, maybe a day's worth, but I must remember to take my time and start small, just like when I build a snowman. Puffy clouds hide the sun as my meticulous plan takes shape below. Tiny blisters form on my pudgy hands, but a little discomfort will not stand in the way of my creation. The sky grows darker, and the breeze coughs up a gust and then another, funneling much of my hard work into the air. Loud booms erupt from heaven while electric spiderwebs decorate the atmosphere advising me to call it a day. Mother Nature is no match for my ambition. Adrenalin pumps through my heart, sending shocks of inspiration through my veins as if it's copying the static light show overhead. "It's not raining yet," I mumble as I raked harder and faster. The entire scene reminded me of watching Frankenstein on television the night before. Once the job was complete, I threw my tool to the earth. As soon as the wooden handle landed, thunder snapped as loudly as a gun, signaling runners to take off. As I jetted down the hill toward my man-made mountain, big drops of water smacked me in the face telling me that my last warning had arrived. But I was past the point of no return, and my determination forced me to finish the quest. Rain poured as I leaped higher and further than ever before in my life. The wind must have guided my ascent because I felt like I was flying for a brief moment. I vanished into the pile, like when I dropped a pebble into the pond. It was almost like I'd never existed at all. The darkness kept me company, and the smells of autumn gave my senses a chance to feast on the season. No light managed to break through because outside of my fragile fortress, it was as black as night. The soft raindrops striking the leaves sound like my mother popping the last few popcorn kernels before pulling the pot from the stove. Whenever I'd move my arms around, I imagined I was on the beach, listening to the waves crash against the rocks. I still haven't seen the ocean, but I'm sure it's similar. The storm frightened me, but somehow I felt safe in the solitude. Only one thing could pull me from my bliss. A single sound struck terror from one end of my soul to the other, and it wasn't the thunder. I'd already grown immune to that. The sound I'm talking about would bring any gladiator to his knees or any supervillain straight back to his lair. My mother's voice grew louder and louder, and this was terrible news. It meant she was out in the rain looking for me. I only had two options. I could stay put and hold my breath or face her wrath. It would be the same outcome either way, maybe worse if I hid, so I decided to give myself up. I emerged from the leaves like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The water hit my face revealing a scared child while washing the mud into the collar of my shirt. "Chris, get your butt inside the house! Do you want to catch pneumonia and die in the rain?" My mother belted out as I made my way inside. She laughed at me later that evening and told me she also enjoyed playing in the rain when she was a kid. She made popcorn, and we watched Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein together. She knew it was one of my favorite movies. I believe it was her way of saying she was glad I got to have an adventure, but she still had to be a parent.
    Escuchado 5m 32s
  • First Car

    30 SEP. 2022 · If I wasn't at school, I was working, and if I wasn't working, I was at church. Time for sleep never came easy but then again, at sixteen, who needs rest? Unlike most kids, I didn't get my driver's license as soon as my birthday came around. Independence never felt like a big deal. Plenty of opportunities arose growing up on a farm that kept me busy and free to experience life without guidance. The bus took me to school, and I had several people who gave me rides to work and church. And, of course, I always had my trusty bicycle for quick trips around the neighborhood. I'm embarrassed to say, but the day Mom surprised me with a car a couple of months after I turned sixteen left me a bit underwhelmed. First, I didn't see the need for my own transportation, and second, I was ashamed of the 1971 Volvo sitting in the yard. The car was ugly; the wipers didn't work, and when I started it up, the engine shook and felt like it would eventually fall right out from under the thing. My brother insisted it was a good car and said everything would be fine. The bus was the best option while I debated driving to school for several weeks. Puttering into MCHS with black smoke rolling from my pristine automobile was not an appealing thought. Even worse, what if the car flat-out refused to start when I was ready to go home? I'd never hear the end of it from my classmates as they drove by, making fun of my situation. I knew I would have to go for it sooner or later and hope for the best. I'd keep my fingers crossed all the way to school while my asscheeks clenched tight enough to crack a walnut. I'd decided that I may as well give it a shot. After tossing my books in the back, I sat in the driver's seat and said a little prayer. The engine cranked, and I felt a sigh of relief. My solace was short-lived once the motor chose to vibrate wildly, which quickly turned into a knock, and finally, silence after one last cough as if the machine had taken its final breath. Further investigation revealed a strange-looking radioactive mixture oozing from underneath. I grabbed my books and again waited on the bus. I was thankful it happened at home and not at school for sure, but it was pretty discouraging. I was becoming a man, and part of that process was driving a car. I remember being upset with my mother for buying me a piece of junk. Two things come to mind whenever I think back on my first car. The first is how much I miss people giving me rides everywhere. It must have been a burden on them, but there was something special about it. We get to know each other pretty well when we're stuck in a car together for a few minutes. It's not often we find the time to sit and talk to friends and family. I missed hearing Uncle Neb tell me about how much money he won playing cards on the way home from work. The deep talks and insight I'd get from my church family were often more valuable than what I learned during the sermon. It gave me the chance to hear about Mom's day without distractions. The second thing was the pride on my mother's face when she showed me the car. Today I know how important that moment was for her. We never had much money, so I'm sure it wasn't easy for her to scrape up enough to make the purchase. But she did it because that's what parents do. If I could go back in time, I'd thank her for the gift just like I did when she presented it so many years ago. Only this time around, I'd mean it. More importantly, I'd thank her for teaching me to be humble, even though it took me years to understand.
    Escuchado 4m 27s
  • Would Of, Could Of, Should Of

    23 SEP. 2022 · Looking for love in all the wrong places is nothing new for Phoebe. She's spent most of the '70s trying her best to connect the dots, but inevitably her number two pencil breaks or coffee stains the paper. It's not that she settles for the wrong guys, but somehow she pulls them in, and it's over before it begins. In every relationship, Phoebe leaps with the accuracy of an Olympic diver. And paddles with the grace of a synchronized swimmer. The mechanics are solid, but the show stops there because Phoebe can't fake emotion. She'd give everything she had in the world to experience love, anger, hurt, or at least once, feel inspired. Phoebe is no stranger to a night out on the town independently. She'll begin the evening solo at least, but it's never difficult for a woman with Phoebe's natural gifts to take someone home. Most people would never dream of visiting the annual Clarkstown carnival without a companion, but it doesn't phase our Phoebe. The line isn't long for the fun house; she takes a spot. The music and crowd are noisy, so the remarks of half of the men strolling by go unnoticed. One gentleman briefly catches her eye with a Mona Lisa smile and a frosty stare. The subtle connection is lost to the twilight as the carny collects Phoebe's ticket and encourages her to enter. The hoopla and occasional cry, any good fun house has to offer, dampens the outside racket. Frightened kids push and attempt to plow by Phoebe as she quickly loses her patience and turns to discipline each of the children. To her surprise, not a single soul is within eyesight. Exterior noise dissipates, and Phoebe finds herself alone inside. Shrugging the oddity off as part of the ride, she takes a few more steps deeper into the carnival attraction. Thick, odorless smoke creeps up from her ankles, impairing her already suffering vision in the darkness. A hum followed by a bizarre pastel glimmer catches her attention, pulling her closer. Phoebe arrives to discover an open doorway with a neon sign that reads, "choose your ending." The curious thrill seeker wanders through to find a well-kept hard maple staircase seemingly suspended in the air, surrounded by a starless cosmos. Each step downward unveils unrecognizable yet familiar sounds resonating with background noise like speakers from an antique radio. Some of the static clears as Phoebe descends but is quickly interrupted by more interference. The soundwaves grow vicious and prove to be more than her ears can handle, forcing the lost wanderer to sprint toward the bottom. Phoebe slips as she approaches the end of her descent, bashing her head on the unbending surface. Welcome silence abruptly takes the reigns as Phoebe focuses on a single door. Two words, "would of," are painted on the exterior. The disoriented young woman attempts to open it and finds that it is locked tight. After trying to force her way in for a few moments, she gives up. Then it happened; a slight creaking sound indicated an open exit. Pushing through, she finds an apartment no different than any other where she ends up any given night. It's like every man who has ever taken her home used the same interior decorator; the same two wine glasses, the same retro record player, and the same sofa complete with a chaise lounge. A couple clumsily walks into the apartment, startling Phoebe enough to hide behind the couch instinctively. The man speaks to his date, and she responds, uncovering an eerie truth. Phoebe peeks over the couch to get a glimpse of the two intoxicated lovers, only to realize the gentleman is looking directly at her. In a frantic attempt to explain herself, Phoebe quickly realizes that the others cannot see her. The unknown woman turns to expose herself, revealing a familiar face. Phoebe struggles to understand what is happing and can't decide if she's looking into a mirror or watching herself like in some trippy sci-fi television show. Finally, she recognizes the guy from earlier in the evening; he's the one with the Mona Lisa smile. Unsure how to manage the situation, Phoebe collapses to the floor and watches the event unfold. After a few minutes of chitchat, casanova picks up the empty wine glasses and stumbles to the kitchen, leaving his half-conscious date behind, while Phoebe follows. She witnesses the shifty scumbag dump white powder into his inebriated damsel's cup before filling it with cheap red wine. Phoebe watches as he returns to his lair and urges his companion to drink it all. Time wears on, and the look on the man's face evolves, revealing a cruel predator drooling over an unconscious prey. He throws the lifeless body over his shoulder, disappearing into the bedroom like a spider, ready to weave its web around a helpless bug. The creak from the mystical door signals that it's time for Phoebe to leave. She again stands outside in the darkness at the bottom of the staircase, facing a locked doorway. The only difference this time is the words that read, "Could of," instead of the previous phrase. Experienced, Phoebe patiently waits at the entrance for her cue. Once the passage is clear, Phoebe storms through, ready to battle the demon on the other side. Everything is the same, except for one detail. This time Phoebe isn't watching herself. Instead, it's a complete stranger accompanying the manipulative beast. It doesn't take long before Phoebe realizes whatever is allowing her to watch the story has no intention of letting her interfere. She feels as vulnerable as the target, desperately wanting to lash out at the promiscuous pervert. Phoebe may as well be a ghost as she experiences a replay of the last show with a new unsuspecting cast member. Again, Phoebe finds herself outside with a new sign that reads, "Should of." She impatiently waits for the signal before stepping through the third time. Tears soak Phoebe's face as she assumes she's damned to confront the scenario repeatedly, like some malicious supernatural loop. Despair influences Phoebe to slide down the wall embracing the helplessness but refusing to monitor the ritual. She can't help but take a glimpse after hearing her own voice, just as she did the first round. She watches herself make the same mistakes, except now something has changed. The would-be target follows the wicked coward into the kitchen, shoves her body against his backside while he pours the wine, and slashes his throat with a nearby serrated bread knife. The blade rips through his skin as she saws with all of her strength. The bottle and glasses shatter at his bare feet, sticking deep into his heels and toes. Chunks of flesh tear from his neck, then dangle for a moment and fall to the floor, eventually disguised by a pool of blood and discount liquor store wine. Red specs build up on the checkered tile backsplash, ultimately leaving a pathway to the sink and down the drain. Gurgled screams give way to a silenced panic as cold steel mutilates his vocal cords. Phoebe spectates with no remorse because guilt does not coexist alongside vengeance. Adrenaline streamed through Phoebe's veins; this was an inspiring first. She watched as her clone dropped the knife to the floor, grabbed her jacket, and left the apartment. One last spasm and 'Mona Lisa Smiles' was gone. Phoebe left the scene expecting to find herself at the bottom of a magical floating staircase. Instead, she stood outside in a crowded midway while the sounds of bells and whistles hijacked any chance to reflect. She remained still, waiting for the right moment to act, and then she saw him. Not one pretty girl walked by without tasting his frosty stare. He patiently waited for the right mix of vulnerability, shuffled into naiveness, and enclosed snuggly inside a flawless body. Phoebe meticulously surveyed until she noticed the young lady who was on the other side of door number two catch his attention. Phoebe hustled to make her way to the gentleman first because tonight he had a date with the girl behind door number three.
    Escuchado 10m 9s
  • The Slowdown

    4 SEP. 2022 · I've always lived in Clarksville. Like anyone else, I've moved around a few times. Still, I decided long ago that this city will always be my home, whether I reside on Memorial Drive, Bentree Court, or several other locations. It's a good town to grow up in, and I'm happy my kids made the same choice. During my walk at Liberty Park, I could not help but reflect on something that happened long ago; it sometimes feels like a bad dream when I think about it. In 2001 I was a young parent, married with two young children. We were always on the move. If you have kids, you know what I'm referring to on any day of the week. Children grow up quickly, so we desperately try to squeeze everything in that we can. Slowing down never seems like an option, but it's what we all secretly want to do. Just one afternoon with the family and no plans would be sublime. Instead, we were off to the fairgrounds for another soccer practice. I parked and watched as the kids finished their juice boxes and string cheese. Christian, my son, had to tie his shoes, and Ashlee, my daughter, looked like she had brushed her hair with a ceiling fan. It's the sort of stuff that happens when the dad is off and Moms caught up at work. My kids unbuckled in a flash and headed toward the coach, leaving two empty drink boxes behind in the back seat. I remember staring at the containers thinking how those juices meant everything to my kids, but once they finished them, they moved on, and the treats were forgotten. The young athletes ran around and kicked the ball while all parents watched silently. We were chatterboxes most of the time, but something was different about this day. Not a single grown-up was on that field in spirit. All of our minds were in another place. Flashes of the world and how our babies would one day grow up to take on the leftover madness crept around our brains. Clarksville felt safe not long ago, but today there isn't a city in the entire country unaffected by despair. The goal is to leave a better community behind, a better world. We've failed. Above was a spectacular cobalt Tennessee sky showing off its magnificence above Montgomery County. A few splashes of white reflected the warm glow of the setting sun. Then we saw it—something we hadn't seen in days since the tragedy. An airplane made its way overhead. Everyone stopped as if time had taken a break except for the object floating through the atmosphere. We watched until it was nothing more than a tiny speck evaporating in space. The slowdown was all we needed, and smiles emerged for the first time since practice began. It was a sense of relief seeing that captivating airplane gliding across the sky and leaving behind some hope; hope that things would be okay, hope that our children may have a chance in the world even after September 11th.
    Escuchado 3m 44s
  • Unspoken Part 3 - The Proposal

    15 AGO. 2022 · "Hey Lynette, I just finished another story and posted it on Facebook. I haven't recorded it yet, so would you mind pulling it up on my page and reading it out loud?" I asked, pointing to the second paragraph showing her where to start and then having a seat next to her to listen. Thirty-four years have passed since the night I first met Lynette. In a way, it feels like five lifetimes ago, and some days I can recall the encounter like it was yesterday. We've both been through plenty since we were teenagers. Kids, failed marriages, and mortgages can sure keep two people occupied for three decades. We grew older, lost touch, and moved on with our lives. But, a lot can happen over a few months. We managed to find one another again, and I'd like to share the rest of our story in a unique way. August 14, 1988, was our first kiss. Today is August 14, 2022, which will hopefully be a special day too. Lynette and I had been friends on Facebook for a while, but we never commented on posts or acknowledged each other. One day out of the blue, I received a message from my first love on the popular platform. She'd seen where I publicly announced my divorce and wanted me to know she was also dealing with the same circumstances. I immediately felt better knowing someone out there was going through a tough time just like me and was willing to provide an ear whenever I needed it. There we were, both around fifty years old and all of a sudden, we're pen pals again. Thanks to technology, we didn't have to wait weeks for a letter. After a few days of texting, we decided to have an actual phone conversation. I planned to tell Lynette my intentions when I drove to Gurnee three decades ago to see her. She'd finally know the trip wasn't just a friendly visit. She would hear me say that I had made the journey to reveal my feelings. I mean, what did I have to lose? The chance to finally get this off my chest was within reach, and I was not about to mess it up again. Nobody ever gets this chance, and I mean nobody, ever! The gesture was more about speaking it out into the universe and less about continuing a love story that was over so long ago. I drove down Madison Street to the abandoned movie theater, where we shared our first kiss. This time I was no longer an unsure kid who had no idea how to communicate. After sitting in the parking lot reliving that special night in '88 for a few moments, I made the call. As the phone rang, I recalled the last time we'd ever spoken, well, until now. Maybe things would have been different had I known I'd never see Lynette again. Then she answered. Suddenly I was seventeen again, talking to the most beautiful girl in the world on the other end of the line. Who knows how many hours we spoke? I know that I watched the sun drop behind the horizon, and most of the conversation was in the dark while I sat in the front seat of my Jeep in that empty parking lot. It was nice to toss my teenage feelings into the atmosphere finally. Days transformed into weeks, and weeks slid into months as we got to know each other again. We didn't miss a day on the phone or a chance to FaceTime. I learned about Lynette's family, and she listened while I chatted about mine. Our lives had certainly changed since our first encounter, but something special remained. Affection found its way back into two hearts that had lost all hope and decided to shine brighter than ever. We both agreed it was time to meet again, so the planning began. We booked the flight and counted down the days until I picked Lynette up at the airport. I recently expressed how I felt years ago over the phone. But I refused to tell her I was in love with her still today until we met in person. I knew I'd soon get my chance. The drive home from the airport was forty-five minutes filled with giggling and hand holding. Once we made it into the house with her luggage, I decided not to waste a single minute. Music played, and we danced right in my living room. It was our first dance. "Hey, Lynette," I said with a grin from ear to ear. She looked up into my eyes, waiting for me to continue. "I was wondering if you'd be my girlfriend?" After a short pause that lasted long enough to smile, she said yes. We danced a little more, and then I said, "I love you," for the first time in our lives. She said it back to me. We continued to dance. Life doesn't get any better than that. For two weeks, we went on dates, spent time with family, and grew closer. We knew she'd eventually have to go back home, but we kept that thought pushed to the back of our brains. Nothing would ruin this occasion, this grand reunion. We'd even discussed the possibility of her moving in with me by October. It sounded like a good plan, but three months was a long time, especially considering how we felt. We convinced ourselves that ninety days was a drop in the bucket compared to the thirty years we've spent apart, and it would go by quickly. Returning to the airport allowed all those first-date feelings from 1988 to resurface. Once again, my heart felt like it was being ripped out, but at least this time, I knew I'd see my Lynette again. She was barely back home in Illinois a day before we discussed the possibility of her moving in sooner than October. After a quick change of plans, we decided three weeks sounded better than three months. Lynette quit her job up north and found a new one here. She said goodbye to friends and her church family. She left her life there to start a new one with me in Clarksville. That moment on Sunday, August 14, 1988, brings us to today, Sunday, August 14, 2022. Lynette told me in a conversation we'd had months ago that if I ever proposed, she'd like to wear my birthstone, a ruby. We'd already retraced all the places we went on our first date during the previous visit, so I chose the perfect spot to ask the question. Our next chapter will start in this living room, where I told Lynette I loved her for the first time. As Lynette reads this very sentence from a story that waited three decades to unfold on my keyboard, I'll reach in my pocket and pull out a ring. My girl is trying to read as she watches me kneel with a pink ruby in my hand. I chose the particular color because I think it looks good on her, and I picked the vintage eternity white gold band because it reminds me of the number eight on both sides of the gem. Hopefully, Lynette will always see eighty-eight when she looks at it. And I had to have the date August 14, 1988, engraved on the inside. I only have one thing left to do now. "Alright, Lynette, you can stop reading now," I said Before she went any further. Then I asked this question, "Lynette, will you marry me?" And she said yes.
    Escuchado 8m 12s
  • Weddings

    11 AGO. 2022 · It's not often I get the opportunity to dress up. Please understand that it's not something I look forward to no matter the occasion. Typically it means one of my cousins is getting married, and I have a lot of cousins. Putting on nice clothes is a lot of work for subpar non-chocolate cake. Those wedding mints are nice, but after two or three trips and a few handfuls, the grownups tend to catch on to my game. Plus, my pockets will only hold so many. Weekends are more valuable than they were before I started going to school. Not long ago, every day was no different than Saturday or Sunday. With only two days a week to play outside, this wedding feels like a colossal waste of my time. I could be building a fort in the woods behind the house or skipping rocks across the creek. My feet could carry me down the hill to the river bottom as fast as The Flash. Maybe I could pretend to be Tarzan and swing on a couple of grapevines along the way. Instead, I'm forced to wear this getup that clearly does not reflect my true nature whatsoever. It's tough to breathe, and everything itches. Hopefully, it's safe to lose the tie. They would have done it by now if they intended to take my picture. At least the suit is better than the outfit I had to wear when I was a ring bearer. It made me look like a cast member from The Love Boat. "Chris! Where is your tie?" My mother asked impatiently, waiting for an answer. Looking around as if the tie would magically appear, I just shrugged my shoulders. Mom continued to speak, "Oh, never mind. Stand against the wall and smile so we can take your picture. Stop moving your hands, Chris." "What am I supposed to do with them?" was my earnest response. She told me to lock my fingers in front of myself. My first instinct was to hold my hands in a prayer position and bow my head. Momma had no problem adjusting my pose, kind of like I do with my Lone Ranger sometimes. Then she urged me to be still and reminded me to smile again. "Don't close your eyes, Chris. You always close your eyes. I'll count to three and take the picture. Make sure they're open until I say three. And stand up straight," Mom instructed. "Man, taking pictures is complicated. Why can't she snap the darn thing so we can go home while I still have sunlight? I wonder if I can sneak undetected by the mint bowl one more time? Wait, Can I blink on three, or do I wait until after Mom says three?" I thought to myself. "And three," my mother said, followed by the camera's flash. She asked, "Did you blink?" "No, ma'am," I mumbled before stuffing a few more mints into my pocket and making my exit.
    Escuchado 3m 19s
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