Madness…A short story…AWID

I dream of snow. Wading across the painted desert landscape, my boots press into the soft powder. “Ugh, what a horrible smell. It smells like someone died here.” The crumbles of powder crack and fall from the faces of innocent women and children butchered in the name of tyranny. Gasping for air, I fall out of bed and land on my knees.

“It’s okay. You’re not there anymore.” My throat is clogged with the taste of blood, and I run into the bathroom. Leaning over the sink, I cough until chunks of bloody phlegm are dislodged from my larynx. “Regardless of how long I’m home, I can’t escape that horrible place.” Tears of pain dot my cheeks, and I wipe my eyes bitterly.

“I don’t know what’s killing me quicker, the alcohol or the burn pits.” Night after night, I struggle with dreams of sand, bullets, explosions and broken limbs. My mind is fractured. In some ways, I’m not sure if I remember it correctly or if somehow, I managed to get it all wrong. Whichever the case, it all seems real to me.

Angrily, I slam my hand down on the counter. “Well, come on with it already. If you’re going to take me, let’s get it over with. There’s no point in prolonging the inevitable.” The mirror tells the tale of a broken man. A man who went to war to set things right, only to lose himself in the process. It’s safe to say, I’m bitter about how things turned out. Turning the light off, I walk out of the bathroom and into the kitchen.

My one-bedroom apartment is sparingly decorated. The state flag of Mississippi hangs on the front door along with a sign informing intruders that I don’t call 911. A sofa bed, recliner, a 47” Vizio television, PS4 and laptop make up my earthly possessions. Jameson whiskey bottles litter the top of the fridge. “I’m living it up. There are no strings on me.”

The smell of lime poured on the bodies lingers in my mind. I can see the broken bodies, whether it’s a hallucination or dream, I can’t tell you. Children are gathered nearby, their eyes devoid of hope. Soldiers smirk, their only defense against the chaos, dark humor. The darkness encroaches ever closer.

I’m lost in the darkness.

In the dark, I can hear the footfalls of my enemies drawing near. The inky blackness smothers any hope I have of finding my way out of it. My depression and anxiety restricts my ability to formulate an escape plan. In the purest sense, I am sinking into the pit of misery. “God, help me. Where are you when I need you the most?” The maddening cackle of my tormentors ring out in the dark. My heart beats with the fury of a thousand waterfalls.

“Where do I run to? How do I get away?” These questions have no answers, they are as vacant of possibilities as the eyes of the dead-yet-living children, I saw that day in Iraq. In many ways, I wonder if my mind broke from seeing the thousands of bodies laid side-by-side, knowing the torture their lives held until their untimely deaths swept them from this plane of wretchedness. Either way, I’m sure it didn’t help.

From a distance, the lime scattered on the bodies to keep the smell of decomposing corpses down, looked like pure snow. It wasn’t until you drew close that you recognized the horror it hid. “The same could be said for my life. I’m devoid of hope, slowly decomposing into nothingness. All I want is to go home and forget about this crap.” Being at home hasn’t helped me, the war has followed me home.

“Mr. Freeman, how are you today?” I look up at my nurse as she brings in my medicine and a tiny cup of water. “Can you loosen the straps, so I can take my medication like a big boy?” She smiles. “No, just tilt your head back and swallow.” She shoves the medicine into my mouth, and I swallow the pills.

In my mind, I can hear the cackle of madness and it frightens me.

It’s hard to have grace under fire…but we’re trying…

I woke up this morning thinking about the mercy of God. In Iraq, I was asked a question: How can you serve a God who allows bad things to happen to good people? I even wrote part of A Walk in Darkness to answer this very question. However, this question has became pertinent the past few days. It seems to have been flung into my face with such force, it has nearly taken my breath away.

Here’s my answer. 

According to the Scriptures, God promised to never leave nor forsake us. It also recorded that the mercies of God extends from one generation to the next. What it has never said is that we would understand why God does the things He does. The Scriptures do say that our ways are not His, and our thoughts are not His thoughts. Thus, God in His infinite wisdom will sometimes act in ways which are unseemly to us.

We were never promised the easy road nor were we ever promised that we would understand the mercy that God shows us. All too often, I find myself wondering if I am confusing mercy for cruelty or vice versa.  

As it so happens, I may doubt people and wonder from time to time about their faithfulness, but God has never failed me. These trials seem to wear me down, but deep down in the goo, I believe all things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.

I don’t mean to be ‘preachy’ or stand on my soapbox and decry the evil in the world. It just so happens, I need some encouragement. According to the Scriptures, King David encouraged himself in the Lord. Thus, as long as we have the Lord in our corner, we can overcome anything we may face in this life.

Please continue to pray for me and my family. We do appreciate the continual prayers and support. God bless you all. 

A few thoughts…

No news is good news. I am tired of hearing this crap. All my life I’ve heard this lie. No news could mean any number of things. 

In this case, it means I substitute different scenarios in lieu of actual facts. At some point, things must slack off. There seems to be no brakes on this train.

Have you ever read the Batman book, penned by Alan Moore, titled: The Killing Joke? In an effort to bring Batman to his level, The Joker puts Commissioner Gordon through a series of tests. 

When I first read The Killing Joke, I was at a very low point in my life. The book made sense to me. There have been many origin stories concerning The Joker. Is he a madman? A psychopath? A sociopath? Or a combination of both?

I think he is a normal man, who has seen too much and has no outlet for the thoughts that trouble him. So, he strikes out against a system he feels has been stacked against him.

Kind of like how I feel today.

Still, not every day is a bad day. It has just felt like it for the past week or so. I fully expect things to turn around; my faith is in the knowledge that God is still in control.

Thankfully, I am not in control of anything. Lord knows I would screw it up. So, my comfort lies in knowing that this world is only temporary and one day, I will see my Savior face to face.

Take care.

Old age…

I have begun using a font on my WPS Office called American Typewriter. As it rains here this morning, I told my mom it brought back memories of when I first learned to type. My skills were honed upon an old, ancient even, Royal typewriter. Ever so often the keys would stick and you would have to pry it loose and continue to type. At the end of the page the carriage would return and make a *ding*. 

I kind of feel like that old typewriter. Things stick when it should flow, all too often, the carriage is sent back to the beginning to try again. God, I am getting old. 

According to my brother, Thomas Earl, “You know you’re almost 50, right?” Yes, I am aware. These experiences in life age us, some don’t exact a heavy toll but others…

Tomorrow is a new day, the carriage slides back and we start anew. Hope springs eternal.

Clinging to the promises…

I am at a loss of words. A writer should not suffer from this problem, but here I am. From what I’ve read, writers block is a thing we writers encounter from time to time. That’s not my issue. Rather, I am emotionally drained. As if someone took a blade and cut my guts out.

Too much seems to have happened too soon. From time to time, I have encountered few things that took the wind completely out of my sails, but here I am.

The last week has been nightmarish. I want to wake myself from this vivid dream, to shake myself as Samson when he fell asleep in the lap of Delilah. It’s no use. 

I am too tired to make sense of it all. However, God is our faithful friend, who according to the Scriptures said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So, I am here clinging to the promises of my Savior.

Y’all pray for me and my family. Thanks. 

Inept leadership…

For those not in the know, I live in the country. According to my Aunt Brenda, “leave it to my dad to find a goat trail and live there.” Yesterday, I had to move some of my parents vehicles. I drove one of my dad’s trucks and pulled his boat down to the local Baptist church and turned around. As I drove down the busted, decades old pavement, I noticed how our road supervisor had ‘fixed’ the road. Small patches of cold asphalt filler was patted down and entire missing chunks of road was ignored. 

I took photos. Because a picture is worth a thousand words according to some wise person from time immemorial. I have contacted the local paper and hope to purchase the entire front page. It is also my wish to write an editorial to bring attention to the incompetent leadership in my district. 

It won’t do any good. The governor of my state has no spine, so it may be too much to hope that the local level is better. All I have to do is look at the road running in front of my parents home to know the local level is as weak as the state level.

Ah well, sometime you must shine a spotlight into the darkness and watch the roaches run. Take care and please keep my family in your prayers.