A friend called and asked Jan and I out to dinner. It was fun. Jan and I have not seen them in a long time.
Jean and Mike! We went to a Mexican restaurant locally (like where else would we go? oh, just thought we’d pop off in a commercial jet and wing our way to California…God help us…and get Mexican fast food) where we had eaten before. Personally I think it is all made up and kept in the fridge (a lot of restaurants do that) and just pop it in the micro when someone comes along and orders it. Anyway, it was good. I brought home my leftovers in a foam type package and we left it on the table inside the front door. Bet you are wondering where it is tonight and no I didn’t eat it.
Anyway, it was a surprise and welcome one but I am a bit of an anti-social person and I hate crowds and I always feel uncomfortable in such situations. (This morning I met with a group of fellow vets and they sang happy birthday to me. Yep. Pure torture.) On the one hand I want and welcome the attention and on the other it is like telling me that I just walked through a patch of poison ivy. I think that is part of my self-destructive nature like forgetting it was my month to buy donuts for my vet group because it was my birthday month…..hey, why doesn’t the group by the donuts for the person having the birthday and not the reverse.
I would think that is the way it should be, but I guess it all works out in the end. One of the vets there this morning was in a unit in Vietnam that suffered the most casualties of the war. In one engagement they had over 300 casualties. I find it amazing to be in the company of such men as he.
In other interesting news facts, I came across a veterans art studio in St. Petersburg. They are doing an open house on September 16. There is to be a band there, other artists, and me. I’ve been invited to do a book signing. So now the mad rush is on to complete and print the first of two books in a series regarding a true crime event. I managed to get a cover done for the book. It only took me three days. I only lost 12 versions of the artwork to the monster hiding in my computer that probably ate the damn things. When I reported my problems to the software manager/owner/developer I was informed that no one ever from the time that God made Adam had ever reported having any difficulty with their software. I guess, in a way, that was a polite way of being told, “you’re stupid.”
Yesterday was my birthday. It was not a significant day for me. Nothing stood out. There was no “wow” factor. For me it was just another day. But for my wife, and my friends, it held a different meaning. Oddly no one actually asked me how old I am. Perhaps that was out of politeness. Perhaps, like me, they recognize that in life everything is moving forward. So on the day before yesterday I was one day shy of being fully the age I reportedly became at the hour and minute of my birth so many years before. Then, I have to say that today I am the age I was yesterday plus one day. I find that atrociously simple and yet complex in a mutually beneficial manner. It occurs to me that we begin the countdown on life when the baby is reported to have exited the mother’s womb. The record will continue until, quite simply, we die. It’s how we count the days and years. I suppose in some small way it all makes sense. I mean, it’s absolutely necessary that it makes sense for some. I don’t know if I fall within those ranks. I might. But I seriously don’t know.
What I do know is that advancing to another age, a plateau in life, is something we cannot prevent. I find it curious to have friends who lament the passing of the years. I’m not so concerned about the years as I am the activities that occurred within those years. I’m sure that we all have moments where we examine ourselves and in many cases are not happy about what we find there. At least that is how it is with me.
I have determined that over the course of my life I have been very self-destructive at times. Perhaps I was programmed that way by the very people who should have been supporting me and telling me that I could achieve all that I want in this life by working hard. Instead I recall being an 11-year-old child riding in my parents car with my father driving and we passed an area made up of beautiful homes that had smaller, yet still opulent, side homes for guests or for family members. I can recall saying to them that one day I would be successful and I would own one of those homes and the building that was a smaller house would become their home and it would be paid for totally by me. Instead of a simple positive response from both my parents, one so desperately needed, the response was, “Sure. Your brothers said the same thing and neither one of them have accomplished that goal, so neither will you.”
So I truly believe that the programming was attached during that short conversation in which I, as a small child, reached out to the very people who should have been encouraging me, and found instead a belief that I was bound to fail. And, I believe, that I like so many others in the similar situations are doing everything we can to make certain that our parents were wrong and yet the programming, in many cases, was so strong we fail before we begin.
So my hat is off to those who try and fail and yet still fight the false images fed to them as children. Perhaps we are all winners in the end.
I recall that I gave a slight sigh at his comment, feeling a minor depression forming somewhere in the back of my mind, deep in some rift of grey matter, and I turned to go. It was best to simply go at that point. To leave. To retreat. To leave this man alone before he confused me even more with his ability to see when he was blind and to know without being told. Odd, I thought, How like him he was to the rest of the world in many ways and yet completely unlike the world in many other ways. Too complex for my wee brain to handle and so I turned to go just as he spoke.
“Do you know there is little difference between a white piece of paper and a black piece of paper?”
I was at the Tampa Library earlier today and I stepped outside for a moment to check the weather. There I found a very thin, grey-haired man standing alone leaning up against a pillar near the front door of the building. I noticed that he held a white cane with a red tip on it that informed me that he was blind. We both stood there about twenty feet apart without speaking. I noticed that the cane was held lightly in his right hand and his left hand was hanging loosely with nothing to do . I looked again at the cane and, being someone interested in math, I was curious about the angle that he and the cane formed.
“Forty-five degrees,” he said without looking in my direction.
“What?” I asked, surprised by his comment as I had said nothing to him and wasn’t even sure if he knew I was standing near him.
“Forty-five degrees,” he said again, and then added, “You were wondering at what angle my cane was set from my body. It’s forty=five degrees.” He sniffed and wriggled his nose as if something had irritated it.
“But I didn’t say anything to you.”
“I know,” he signed. “But it’s a common question by those, like you, who are curious about angles and such.”
We stood in silence for several moments and then I added, “But I am the only one out here.”
He turned his head to the left and then to the right and said, “Yep, you’re right. I haven’t seen anyone out here for at least twenty minutes.”
‘Tis evil ill to discover, perhaps, that the slightest memory that can e’er pass the gunwales of the mind from deep in some haunted place long forgot or caught in a whirlpool of time past the September of our lives can cause such pain in the reflection of the moment that others would most likely have forgot or came to disregard the event, and yet the pain lies there in the smoky mirrors of life and the bleeding out without a drop of blood that cannot be seen continues unabated
I Never Learned to Play the Harmonica
There are times at night, when all seems so still surrounding
and yet, creeping through the stillness, the emptiness, the loneliness,
I hear the whispering sound of wind gamboling outside
Outside the door, outside the windows, outside the walls
toying amid the trees and bushes amid a blanket of shadows there
while I sit alone in the dark listening to a company of voices
of those living secretly in the walls and floors
in places like those I hurried past once upon a child’s time
not lingering, always fearing a hand would sudden pierce the clouded veil
and then towards some chaotic chilling gloom near distant dragged would be
even though struggled did I against the wish to linger
as a delicious, haunting sense of taste that drew me
pulled me, the dark distress temping to drive me, to push past self and merge with it
of those secret places not one knew of that which lured and teased and cast fear all around me
deep enchantment lay where the cold was thick and strong
but, I no longer feel the chilling thrill of those passing moments punctuating the day
for now at the door behind me lays child’s clothing
and now, instead of cold places, dark and troubling that slow my way
I first had come to fear the chipping away of time, and yet, in the spell
in passing by the tumbling chips of man thought clay
I have come to watch them fall more serenely
knowing, sensing that stopping the flakes cannot ever be
nor can I force them to heel to my sway
in passing by them, they in silent snow like fall
watching as they simply slip away in dark of fog
as a chill finger traces a line upon my skin
the touch leaving me wanting more than a little to drink
when drink could, I thought, calm and sleep derive
from some place that only drinkers seem to know
a shallow place, a silent hole, poison filled
where memories in nightmares come full and then spinning slip away
ghostly beings, apparitions that I alone can see the misery in
a private hell of wrongs done that cannot be undone
where pain in torrent rains from all sides, and yet
and yet, feelings cannot show through the web of numbness
regrets are dimmed by liquor’s ghostly fake kindness
so I struggle with the desire to down the bottle whole
as those memories to be drowned sallied forth
the casual haunting for me they do seek
to prod me, wake me, tear at me from my struggling sleep
like the dusty dime harmonica sitting on the shelf
the one laughing at me in the dark
the toy I never learned to play
though tried a hundred times to make
one simple note for me alone
one note to hear the simple tone
while others slept and not one knew
just how I wanted it to play for me
and for the rabbit that forever sleeps alone 1/18/16
I’m standing outside in a midnight rain
Naked living in a mortal flame
There where no one can see me in my shame
Surrounded by a darkness most intense
Within which no one sees me buckle from the pain.
As cold rain—an old rain mixes with
What tears are left
What tears can be shed
What tears can be bled
As the cold rain, —an old rain
Mixes with the salt of tears
And bathes me in chilling water
While searching out the host of fears
And no one can see me
No one can see me there
Crouched down, naked, breathing out a steam
To standing alone in a cold, old rain
Bathed in chilling water
From ancient wells come forth.
And no one is looking there
No one hears the blessing said
Over the ritual knife to be fed
And drenched in chilling waters
Where I stand alone in a midnight rain
And there I plunge the dagger into my troubled heart. November 11, 2013
Do you ever do that; forget what you are writing about? I just did, and I thought it was important at the time. My error was straying to Facebook and getting into a conversation there with someone who knows nothing of what is taking place with our military. I’m sorry, I think our military should be a major concern today given what is taking place in the world. For those not awake, you need to understand that our military is at pre-World War Two levels of equipment, personnel, and supplies. It is stretched out over the world. They are doing two and three tours of duty. The suicide rate is extremely high. It astonishes me to have someone say, as that person did, that they really have no clue about our military. Gosh, I wonder if they even know we have one.
I find myself once more dealing with death.
The past few years have brought more than one sad occasion into my life. I find with each death that it doesn’t get easier with time. It used not to bother me. It does now.
Being uncomfortable with it at this stage in my life is odd. I never would’ve expected that. I guess it’s because the deaths that have occurred primarily have been among friends of mine, or, in one case, the father of a friend of mine who recently passed.
Suddenly I find my world being rocked by an intrusive factor that neither you nor I have any control over. We all know we cannot escape death. That’s not the issue. It’s the hole that’s left in our lives and those of our friends. It’s holding a friend’s hand and wishing that you can alleviate the pain, or help the survivors, or simply trying to make sense of the situation. It’s talking to a friend who is really unable to respond, leaving the room for a moment, and knowing that as you just stepped into the hallway that the friend died.
There is no more communication.
It’s attempting to help the widow or the widower and not knowing what to say. I think that’s the hardest thing, not knowing what to say to the person who’s dying or to the survivors.
In any case, I find myself now struggling as yet another friend has entered the cycle. He and I don’t get along on some issues. We’ve had some rather blunt conversations. Even so I never would have wished this illness on him.
Two months ago he was fine. Then suddenly he contracted a terminal illness: leukemia. Oh I’m sure that the disease was present and had been present for some time, but it just seems to have suddenly appeared. It’s a fast-moving strain. I’ve seen similar before. I spoke with him tonight. I spoke with him and didn’t know what to say. I spoke with his wife and didn’t know what to say. I phoned another friend and didn’t know what to say. I stared hard into our bathroom mirror tonight and didn’t know what to say to myself.
Well, I’ve just passed 516 pages. I think I will hit 600. It was not, and is not, my intention to have written the book that long. Is simply a fact that in order to cover the material in a fashion I wish to do, it will require a large number of pages. There are two major trials that I’m covering. One results in a life sentence; and the other results in a death sentence. There is a lot of testimony. There are interviews. There is a lot of research. I was told I have five books not one. I’m beginning to believe that.
I simply want the book to reflect the story correctly. Trying to pick out the important details and present them in a logical manner by combining data from all the resources that I have accumulated has been both exciting and frustrating. With each word that I type, with each detail that I reveal, I’m concerned that I could be overdoing or underdoing. Each word written is like stepping off of a cliff and hoping that, instead of falling, I will find sure footing even though I cannot see it before me. Well, I have more to write.