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.

Earnest supplication…A few thoughts…

In prayer last night two words popped into my head. The words were: earnest supplication. Merriam-Webster defines earnest as: an intensely serious state of mind, or seriously intent and sober. Marked by importance.

Supplication is defined as a humble and earnest petition.

I think Merriam-Webster did a fine job defining these words. Thus, when we pray, we are petitioning the Almighty God with our needs. Now sometimes, we just go through the motions when we speak to the Lord. ‘God, you see my needs. Please make my money stretch to the end of the month.’ God hears every prayer. Yet, how often do we earnestly speak to the Lord?

I’m not going to put the spotlight on anyone but myself. There are times when I go through the motions, and then I get upset when I feel the Lord hasn’t answered my prayers. However, when I humble myself in the presence of the King of Kings, and I petition Him with my needs in a serious state of mind, things happen.

Generally, I change. The Lord is fully capable of making me rich. He won’t. He could give me a Ferrari. I probably won’t get one, no matter how hard I pray or believe. However, here is where the rubber meets the road. Would I make earnest supplication if I had these things?

Would I be humble with a Ferrari? See, it’s not that God is prejudiced against me having a Ferrari or being rich. However, if it keeps me from developing a relationship with God, who suffers from the lack of prayer? Rest assured, it’s not the Almighty suffering. It’s me. Prayer opens many doors that would remain shut, if we fail to communicate with the Lord. Healing is a benefit of prayer. Yes, it can even affect emotional and mental health. 

I am living proof that prayer can change emotional and mental health. It hasn’t been easy. Yet, I am much better than I was. Some would say that time healed me. I would give this as my testimony.

On a bright, sun-filled Sunday morning, I visited Iuka First United Pentecostal Church. A visiting minister was preaching. As he preached, I felt the urge to stand and lift my hands. As I did, the Spirit of the Lord washed over me. I cried. I prayed. I told the Lord all about the horrors I experienced. Then I told Him, I wanted to live a clean life. A life free of drugs and alcohol. I wanted to return home.” 

After communicating my desire to please the Lord, I went home. My dog, the original Chunk, had torn out all the garbage. Usually, I would get upset, but this time I swept up the trash and placed it in trash bags. Then this came across my mind: This is how I found you. Dirty, broken, and lying in the gutter. I picked you up, dusted you off and placed you back on your path. That evening as I drove to church, this thought crossed my mind: Iraq was a long time ago. Cast your cares upon me, for I care for you.” 

Earnest supplication or as I like to call it, praying dirty, it works. Life is often unfair, the odds may be stacked against us, the winds may howl, the waves may crash, but if we’re built upon the Rock of Ages, we will stand. How do we stand? We make a humble and earnest petition to our Savior. And if we seriously seek after Him, we may be surprised at what happens.

May God bless you all,

Freeman

Words, corked up emotions, and writing mojo?!

The morning silence of 3 A.M. is disquieting. It sets me on edge. NCIS: Los Angeles plays quietly in the background as I try to unstop the cork which has caused my writing mojo to quit flowing. 

It’s just another day in my wacky neighborhood.

I am not sure what causes me to be so frustrated by silence. Maybe it has to do with silence being a signal of danger in combat. Or perhaps it is simply the nature of silence. 

Either way, the silence and the dark won’t last long. The sun will rise again. When it does, the temperature will rise, right along with the humidity. The day will kick off and I will be surrounded by the noise of life being lived. 

Still, the writing creativity is not here. I blame it on the trauma. I think I will just keep writing and hope that eventually, I will wear the cork down. 

Although, I am slowly approaching my 1,000 post on Freeman’s Front Porch Musings. They haven’t all been great, but my journey as a writer has been a blast. When I created the blog, I never dreamed that I would write a thousand posts for one blog. I figured it was a temporary stop-gap measure to fill some void in my life. However, the more I wrote, the more free I felt. 

If Red Bull gives you wings, writing is the key that breaks the shackles on our thoughts and emotions. Or it does for me. These writing exercises will eventually pull the cork off my bottled up emotions and my stories will be unleashed upon the unsuspecting public. Cue my maniacal laugh. 

At least I still have my sense of humor.

Gratitude….

I kinda doubt that a highly paid athlete has ever laced up his combat boots, called his wife and told her goodbye, and then got into a vehicle knowing they may never return.

I kinda doubt they ever got on a plane in the middle of the night, and left their children, to deploy to some third world country. They have never watched their friends die protecting children they never knew.

They have no idea what the words honor, duty, country or sacrifice really means. To these so called ‘social justice warriors’ these words are only catch phrases. In their perfect bubble these words are weightless and have no meaning.

These athletes have no idea what it means to put their lives on the line for a cause greater than themselves. To sit in a briefing and be told there is no chance of them returning from a mission.

They have no clue what it is like to go to hell, dwell there, fight through it, and only want to live in peace after crawling out, of said hell.

This is the only way I can explain their willingness to crap all over a country that has provided them every opportunity to amass unimaginable wealth. A land that has been so cruel and unjust, it changed their entire economical status from impoverished to elite. Yet, they decry the very system that has given them multi-million dollar contracts and endorsements.

That’s gratitude for you.

Spoiled children…

I kinda doubt that a highly paid athlete has ever laced up his combat boots, called his wife and told her goodbye, and then got into a vehicle knowing they may never return. 

I kinda doubt they ever got on a plane in the middle of the night, and left their children, to deploy to some third world country. They have never watched their friends die protecting children they never knew.

They have no idea what the words honor, duty, country or  sacrifice really means. To these so called ‘social justice warriors’ these words are only catch phrases. In their perfect bubble these words are weightless and have no meaning. 

These athletes have no idea what it means to put their lives on the line for a cause greater than themselves. To sit in a briefing and be told there is no chance of them returning from a mission. 

They have no clue what it is like to go to hell, dwell there, fight through it, and only want to live in peace after crawling out, of said hell.

This is the only way I can explain their willingness to crap all over a country that has provided them every opportunity to amass unimaginable wealth. A land that has been so cruel and unjust, it changed their entire economical status from impoverished to elite. Yet, they decry the very system that has given them multi-million dollar contracts and endorsements.

That’s gratitude for you.

A sporting conversation…A short story…

“Uncle, are you excited for the return of college football?”

I peer over my glasses at my nephew. Scowling, I try to think up a reasonable answer without the hateful sarcasm which drips into my soul.

“Nah. I am done with sports.”

“Why? You love sports. Basketball, football, baseball, you love all of it. Why would you quit watching now?”

Apparently, I am not going to be able to avoid this conversation, no matter how hard I try. I place my coffee down and turn away from my computer.

“What is my incentive for watching sports? So, I can watch multimillionaires tell me who to vote for? Or hear them virtue signal about ‘social issues’ they ‘care about?’ No thanks.”

“They aren’t all like that, unc. Some of the athletes actually love our country.”

“Mmmhmm. Then they are ostracized for taking a stand against the system and sent to re-education camp.”

“You don’t understand, uncle. They are just expressing their First Amendment right.”

“Yes, I understand that. Here’s a question: Instead of taking a stance against the country that has provided them every opportunity to amass unimaginable wealth, why don’t they spend their time giving back to the impoverished communities they virtue signal about?”

Some do, uncle.”

“I agree that some do. Yet, every day more and more come out in support of Communist regimes who violate human rights with such ferocity it is mind numbing.”

“Uh-”

“Then to top it all off they want to consider themselves ‘social justice influencers.’ Some of these ‘influencers’ didn’t even finish high school. Yet, somehow they know what is best for all of us.”

“Uh-”

“Anymore questions about why I quit watching sports?”

“Um, no I don’t think so.”

“Good. Remember this, nephew. I swore an oath to defend this country against ALL enemies, both foreign and domestic. I don’t support organizations that are anti-American.”

“Okay. I think I’ll go home now.”

“Roll Tide.”

I watch as my nephew walks out to his vehicle. “There goes the single largest voting demographic in America. Whoever wins the youth will shape the future of the world.”

Predators and Prey….A few random thoughts…

Dark clouds roll in and thunder rumbles in the distance. I gaze down my drive and notice a red fox standing in the middle of said driveway. There is nothing strange about a fox standing in the driveway, I live out in the middle of nowhere. Young turkeys have been seen crossing from my pasture and the foliage and entering the wood line. 

I realize that the fox is hunting. 

His head lifted, he sniffs the air to find the scent of prey. I watch as he ambles off into my pasture. Watching the fox has caused me to pause and think.

The fox doesn’t rush. Hunters are deliberate, every move is carefully scrutinized, planned and executed. A fox doesn’t rely on the pack to help him hunt. He is a solitary predator, and a scavenger. 

I gaze down the road to where the fox had stood. He is gone. No doubt, he is in pursuit of prey. It reminds me of my time in war. To this day, I still can’t make sense of what I’ve seen or done. 

We hunted, every move deliberate, planned and executed. Sometimes we reacted. ‘Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.’ Unlike the fox, we had a pack to back us up. Still, predators require prey for survival. War can’t happen if one side is unwilling to participate. When two countries, nations, or states engage in warfare, then they are attempting to prey on the other. 

The fox will be back, the hunt always continues. Except for me. I am done with living the life of a predator. This is not to be misconstrued with cowardice or a lack of aggression. At some point, I was going to have to step away. Now seems as good a time as any.

The key now is to not become prey.  

A few thoughts…

There’s got to be a better way.

I keep telling myself this as I watch the world evolve into a caricature of the Orwellian novel 1984. Living in the woods keeps me from having to deal with most of the insanity.

Still, there’s got to be a better way.

There’s just got to be. A way for us to come together without division. This madness is out of control. Burning down cities without even questioning the rightness of their actions. Assaulting the elderly, creating autonomous zones, and assaulting the police-where does it end?

There’s gotta be a better way.

Violence begets more violence. I have seen it over and over in my lifetime. In Iraq, if a father is killed, the son more often than not follows in his footsteps. It’s not just the Middle East, it’s happening right here at home. Let me ask a simple question: Why does one group of peoples lives matter more than another group? We all were made in the image of God. Therefore, all of us are valid in the sight of God Almighty.

There’s gotta be a better way or we will not recover. 

I would suggest that we start by finding some common ground. Regardless, of how minute the common ground is, it would give us a place to begin. We must have accountability. ‘It’s racist’ can’t be our first response to someone’s wrongdoing. We must realize that some people are just evil. Life is not fair, nor are we promised the same outcome. However, if we fail to right the ship, we will drown in the madness sweeping the world.

God help us.

Bad intentions…A short story…

Is there an easy way?

Often you hear people say you can do it the easy way or the hard way. Retrospectively, I look back at some of my choices, and I only see the hard way.Maybe something is missing in the translation or perhaps, I am pre-programmed to only choose the hard way.

As I write a post for my blog, a vehicle tears down my driveway. Mirthlessly, I smile. “They’ll need a front end alignment when they bottom out at the base of the hill.” I listen for the bang of the vehicle slamming into the ground. It doesn’t take long. 

BANG!

“Someone’s unhappy now.” The driver slams on the brakes and the car slides to a stop. SLAM! Heavy footsteps rush across my porch, and I slide my sidearm out of the drawer. My front door is assaulted with heavy blows. 

“Yeah?”

“Mr. Freeman? My name is Denise, I am with the Sheriff’s Department. I need to speak with you concerning a recent post you shared on your social media site.”

“Sure. I’ll be right out. Have a seat on the front porch.”

“This won’t take long, sir. Could you open the door?”

“Sure.”

Quietly, I sneak out my backdoor and slip around the side of my house. Four deputies are in breach position, and all are armed. I pull my sidearm out and step into view. 

“Good morning.”

They all turn and I bring my sidearm up. 

“You guys planning on tearing up my house?”

Denise puts her hands up and the other three keep their rifles trained on me.

“We don’t want no trouble….”

“Says the lady with three shooters. Exactly what post do you and your overlords have a problem with?”

“We don’t want to kill you.”

“Well, that’s comforting news.”

Denise gestures to the black clad figures at her side and they lower their weapons. I lower mine in response to their willingness to compromise. 

“May we speak to you, Mr. Freeman?”

“Sure. You stay there, and I’ll stand here. Whatcha got?”

“You have shared numerous posts accusing the government of traitorous behavior. None of which has been proven. It is suspected that you may have terrorist ties. Are you a member of any such organization?”

“Lady, I live in the woods for a reason. I write a little, and rarely go into town. The woods provides me with what I need to live off of. I don’t do meetings or people very well.”

“I see, but there is still the posts that you’ve shared…”

“I mean no disrespect toward you or your team, Denise. However, if a few posts concerning the overreach of the government warrants a four man team to breach my cabin, then maybe the posts are accurate.”

“I could detain you and bring you in.”

“Yes, you could. I would suggest that we talk like civilized people and you say your piece.”

“Okay. Your government asks that you stop posting unverified accusations concerning their intentions.”

“Too easy.”

“Failure to comply will result in detention.”

I smile but all I see is red. Denise motions to her team members and they amble off my porch.

“Tell me something, Denise. Do you end all conversations with an implied threat?”

“Generally, we don’t have a conversation.”

“Okay. Well, y’all have a nice day.”

Denise forces a smile and I watch as the black SUV drives down my driveway. I wait to see if they return, but after a moment the roar of their modified exhaust dies out in the distance. 

“All that for speaking my mind? Bad intentions indeed.”

Comforting words…

I woke this morning with a grateful heart. My life, if viewed upon a big screen, would probably seem insignificant. I don’t possess a stellar IQ, my contribution to the furtherance of humanity has been minimal. I’m not a genius. No one will stand around the water cooler and whisper, “I wish I was that guy.” My knowledge of the world can’t fill the smallest chasm in said earth, but I do know some small amount of Scripture that I learned as a small boy.

When life pressures me, I lean on the written word of God Almighty. Take Psalms 23:1: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” What a great comfort it is to know that the Lord will provide me with what I need. To know that He walks with me. One of my personal favorites is Psalms 46:1: “God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble.”

I have always told people, “I don’t need any help getting into trouble, I can find it all by myself.” It is of great comfort to know when I am in trouble, God is in my corner. He is my refuge from the storms of life. There is an old gospel song whose lyrics go something like this: “He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.”

No matter what transpires in this life, Jesus has the future well in hand. He is soon to return, and I want to be ready to meet Him.

God bless you all.