This morning I woke up and grabbed my Bible. I opened it and it fell to I Kings 18. This chapter of the Bible gave me the story of Elijah and his confrontation with the prophets of Baal. “Whichever God answers by fire, let him be God!” Long story short, Jehovah answered by fire and the false prophets were destroyed. Chapter 19 saw Elijah on the run for his life. He raced to the mount of God (Mt. Horeb) and God asked Elijah, “why are you here?”
To get to the gist of it, I will summarize and paraphrase what happened next. The winds blew, an earthquake occurred, and fire fell. God wasn’t in any of these things. He was in the still small voice.
As I’ve looked around at the world today it is filled with chaos. God isn’t to be found in politics, careers, or other vices. As usual, He is the still small voice that would speak peace to a world of calamity.
I would leave with one last Scripture. “Fear not; for I am with you.” I am thrilled to know that I don’t walk alone through this madness.
Be safe out there.
“What’s it like being a veteran?” I turned to the voice coming from behind me. A stark-faced lad peered at me from wonder-filled eyes. “Don’t be rude,” I chided myself. “He’s just a kid.”
“You wanna know kid,” I asked. He shook his head and his blond tousled hair bounced in the sunlight.
“Okay. I have a good time at social gatherings but dread going. I’ve detested crowds but love church. I’ve enjoyed being social but not to social.
I like being accepted and welcomed, but not to accepted and welcomed.
I enjoyed people’s company-except when I haven’t.
My mind has held an entire universe; it’s dark, horrible and homey. The things I’ve seen, did and heard changed me forever. I’ve lost my way. Everywhere I’ve looked for a way out of the darkness is pitch black.
What’s it like being a veteran?
It’s like being a person locked inside another person. Like being a prisoner in a war you can’t escape, in a quadrant of infinity, stranded on a deserted island with nothing but your worst memories. It’s horrible. Fulfilling. It’s a nugget of truth in a world of chaos that is on fire! It was the best of times and the worst of them.
In summation, being a veteran is great.”
The sunlight warms my shoulders. The blond haired kid appeared devastated, but I felt better about my walk through darkness..
Good morning everyone.
It’s almost six in the morning here and I am just getting up. I must be becoming sorry in my old age. NANOWRIMO is just around the corner. The challenge is to write a novel in thirty days. We also have an election next week.
I really want to compete this year.
The past four years, I have tried to complete AWID. The first year was the closest I’ve ever gotten to finishing the story. Every year after, it has been one issue or another. I don’t know what has fired me up to write AWID today.
Perhaps, it is because 2020 has taken so much from me. I’ve lost my dad and grandmother this year on consecutive days. The world can be a cold, dark place. Even stories of loss and tragedy should be tales of redemption.
Either way, I am looking forward to competing and beating my personal best in NANOWRIMO this year. I’ll catch you guys later.
“You aren’t worth a crap. Sure, you’re a great provider, but you’re not worth knocking in the head when it comes to being a husband or dad.”
I turn and look at my ‘wife.’ Her eyes brim with hatred. It has been said love starts with a look, and if you follow that thought to its logical conclusion, so does hatred. She glares at me.
“I am sure you aren’t at fault for any of our troubles. You’re condescending tone notwithstanding, you’re a paragon of love, faithfulness, and selfless giving.”
The punch I didn’t see makes me see stars. My head spins around, and I taste blood. Red heat fills my cheeks, and I lick my lips. I turn around and the second punch lands in the same exact spot. Now, I am ready to hurt her.
It was either self-discipline, or the threat of my career ending with a dishonorable discharge that keeps me from taking her to the woodshed. Instead, I turn and walk into the bathroom. Running cold water over my hands, I wash out my mouth. I look in the mirror and my daughters watch me wash out the blood. “Please God, don’t let my daughter see me lose my cool. I want her to grow up believing her daddy is a good man.”
With my bloody mouth clean, I grab my keys and leave the house.
Sometimes, you can’t win for losing. In a year, I’ve lost everything I ever gave a hoot about. My marriage is all but over, my career is circling the drain, and I’ve put on over 100 pounds on my 160-pound frame. Oh, and to top it off, my Dodge Ram truck that is a little over a year old is in the junkyard. A head-on collision put the finishing touches on my broken husk of a life.
Still, I didn’t want to give up on my marriage. “Maybe we can go to marriage counseling. We are due an intervention.” At dinner, I brought up the subject of counseling.
“I am not the problem,” she said. She thrust her hand in my direction and spat her venom in my direction. “You’re the issue. You’re keeping me from living my life. There are guys standing around the block waiting to get with me. Get the papers and let’s get this done.”
“Guys standing around the block….Jesus….she hates me….”
She isn’t through. My loving wife continues to berate me. “For once be a man and take charge. Go get the papers so I can be free.” I can’t find any tears to shed for my broken life. There are no tears for my broken marriage.
There is only stress and the cackle of madness in the encroaching darkness.
Regardless of time and space,
My soul would search out yours,
Dimensions, parallel or altered would not stop me,
From finding your love and warm embrace,
If it took multiple worlds and years to find you,
I would search the entirety of the universe to be with you.
Today, I had the pleasure of my little brother’s company. We chatted and caught a movie. In the afternoon, we worked on my old trucks. Anyone who knows me, knows I love old vehicles. Especially trucks. I am the proud owner of a 1999 Dodge Ram 2500 flatbed dually, a 1989 Chevy Cheyenne, and a 1984 Dodge Power Ram. I also own a 1989 Chrysler New Yorker and a 1965 Chrysler Newport.
Yeah, I like my stuff.
My brother and I sat out to get the Cheyenne running. It had been sitting out in a pasture for over a year. We put in a fresh battery, turned it over, and it fired right up. Then while I had access to him, we worked on my Power Ram. After some gas in the carburetor it finally caught and roared to life.
I sat on the seat and listened to the roar of good ole American muscle. “Dad is probably sitting in Heaven elbowing Jesus in the ribs,” I thought as it rumbled. “That’s a Hemi,” I pictured my dad telling Jesus. I could see my dad looking down on me and my brother, as we laughed at the smoke from the truck after two years of sitting.
I miss my dad.
Naming your favorite vehicle is like naming your favorite girlfriend. It’s hard to choose. Who says romance is dead? I can tell you the story to every vehicle I own. I bought the 1989 Chevy in Tennessee for 1800 bucks. It was sitting under a pecan tree. I love that truck. The old boy I bought it from attempted to convert it into a race truck. The points were filed to 3-8-3. Given the light body and semi-muscular 350, it has some quickness to it.
My 1999 Ram 2500 was my dad’s truck. Enough said.
The ‘84 Power Ram is a truck I’ve long coveted. My dad had a ‘77 Power Wagon with a 440. I was just a boy, but I fell hard for the truck. In polite terms, the truck was beastly. I loved it and swore I would have my own one day. I went to Tennessee to visit my parents and there it was in their front yard. My mom and dad sold it to me, and I have been the proud owner ever since.
Nothing beats the rumble of a powerful engine. Or the looks of those sitting in the lane across from you in traffic. The roar of headers and scream of burning rubber, man, it makes your heart pound. I am excited sitting in my recliner. It makes you want to turn up the volume of Sammy Hagar singing, “I can’t drive 55.”
I am thrilled I have my trucks operational again. My dad would be so proud.
I have considered a memory from Iraq for the past 13 hours. When I arrived in Baghdad early 2005, I was grossed out. The Air Force had bombed Baghdad into the modern-day equivalent of the Stone Age.
Sewage caked everything. Everywhere I looked, the biggest blow flies I’ve ever seen was on everything. When we went on patrol, every step made a crunch. There were so many flies they appeared to be black carpet.
The war in Iraq had many horrific moments. Many wild dogs littered the streets. These wild animals would drag children off and kill them. They would attack grown men. These dogs were covered in scabs and rabid. As nasty as these dogs were, they had nothing on the blowfly carpet.
Camel spiders, wild dogs, mangy sheep, and brown scorpions, I could deal with it all. However, the blowflies were too much. To this day, I have an insane hatred of flies. As the military restored power and rebuilt the damaged city, the flies disappeared.
I have been shot at, blown up and received four concussions during my first tour of the Middle East. Nothing has compared to black clouds of blowflies.
Of all the things I could have remembered, it was flies.
I have decided it’s time for new memories.
Later in the day, Doctor Amy comes back into my room and sits beside my bed. She looks at me with those cold eyes, but time has been good to her. Amy looks the same as she did in high school. Her hair is still golden. Laugh lines are minimal on her perfect face. She touches my hand and for once, gives me a sincere smile.
“It’s good to see you. How did the military treat you?” I wince. “The military broke me,” I think bitterly.
“It was a good experience, Amy. I met great people and got to do some traveling. All in all, I would say it was an eye opener.” She nods her head, and her golden locks bounce with the movement.
“What’s wrong with me, Amy? You’ve never been this open with me before. I’m just a lowly peasant after all.”
“You have a blockage in an artery. You won’t be leaving in the morning. We will have to do an angioplasty. We will do the angioplasty with a laser. It will be on the catheter and will open the artery. I need you to sign a few forms to give us permission to operate on you.”
“Sure,” I chuckle. “It sounds like something from a science fiction novel or movie.” She laughs, the sound of her laughter is beautiful. I laugh too.
“Okay. I’ll send the nurse in to bring the forms and they will begin to prep you for surgery in about an hour.”
I watch Amy walk out of the room. At the door she turns and looks over her shoulder and stares at me. “If something should go wrong, I want you to know that I regret not going to prom with you. You’re my favorite peasant.”
Her confession leaves me speechless, and she turns and walks away. At that moment I feel like King of the Mountain. I want to jump on the bed and roar. Or beat on my chest and roar. Roaring is somewhere in the mix. I’d better sit down and take it easy on my heart.
The nurse comes in and I sign the forms giving the hospital permission to take care of me. I also sign the one releasing them from being libel in case I die while on the surgical table.
Then they dose me, and I sink into the darkness.
After several minutes, hours or days, I come out of the surgery, and I feel as if I have been run over with a truck. A tray of food sits next to my bed and I reach for what appears to be cold soup. Suddenly, my heart begins to pound, sweat pours from my body. “Oh my Lord, my chest.” I crash back against the bed, the machine monitoring my vitals is screeching out an alarm. “He’s back….Death is here for me…” The head nurse rushes into my room, Amy comes charging in. Her perfect face leans close to me. “Stay with me….look at me,” she yells. I watch as Amy screams out that my artery is collapsing. I feel a small smile cross my face, and her perfect face is the last thing I see.
Death takes me by the hand and leads me to a better place. It’s not a bad death-for a peasant.
I crash to the floor, the cold hand of Death upon my chest. The pressure builds in my chest cavity. My breaths come in small gasps as I struggle against the pull of the Grim Reaper. “No! I don’t want to go with you! I want to live!”
Death doesn’t care what I want, he is here to do his job.
I push with my feet and lean against the wall. “Of all the ways to die this has got to be one of the most horrible endings in the history of ever,” I gasp. “It’s a good thing Amy isn’t here to see me squirm. I’m sure she would say something about peasants deserving a peasant death.”
The pressure eases off my chest, and I clutch to the hope that maybe I will survive this ordeal. I pull out my flip phone and dial 911. Briskly, I explain where I am, and what is happening. In minutes, I am taken to the hospital. As the paramedics wheel me in, a doctor meets us in the hallway.
It’s Amy Appleton. The freaking doctor who may save my life is going to be the woman who broke my love life. Crap.
“Wheel him into room #3,” she shouts. The nurses rush me into the ICU. They prep me for whatever is going to happen next. One of them injects something into my IV, and I drift off into a medicinal slumber.
It has been my experience that my dreams and medicine do not mix well. This time is no different from the million other times I’ve had dreams. I dream of peasants, guillotines, and a cruel ruler whose name is Queen Amy.
I drift in and out of consciousness. Finally, I crash into peaceful slumber, I am okay with whatever comes next.
Bright sunlight causes me to rub my eyes. I crack an eye open and look around for the streets of gold or at least my mansion that’s made just for me. Or a line that stretches from one quadrant of eternity to the other end of said eternity. Instead, I am in a hospital bed, a pretty nurse is standing beside my bed taking the readings from a machine.
She stares at me. Her eyes are the size of half dollars, panic registers in her voice as she presses a button and pages a doctor to my room. A pitcher of water is next to my bed. I pick up a Styrofoam cup and pour some water in it. Doctor Amy Appleton walks in my room. She looms larger than life like the nightmare version of Queen Amy.
“Well, look who is back in the land of the living…” I smile weakly. “Yeah,” I mutter. She slithers close, like a rattlesnake preparing to strike. Her eyes look at the machine and then she sits by my bed.
“Who knew cleaning up after other people would be so stressful on your little ticker? How are you feeling this morning?”
“I’m okay. When can I go home?”
“When I release you from the hospital. If there are no lingering symptoms you can go home in the morning.”
She watches me with those cold, cold eyes. I squirm under her intense gaze. “It’s my senior year all over again. I should have went into the light,” I think to myself.
Yesterday was meant to be my last day on Earth, but I made it to another day. Now, I’m worse off for it.