On a positive note…

I know the world is full of good things, but there are so many bad things in it also. It’s almost three in the morning here, and every bit of news I’ve read has been bad. Why can’t we focus on the positive?

For example, I am awake. Alive. I don’t have everything I want, but my needs are met. My life has been blessed with the addition of good people, and a great dog. 

What more could a guy ask for?

Anyway, this is my message for today. Be positive. Grab life by the horns and live life to the fullest. 

Be safe out there,

Freeman.

Tempest…

A while ago, I sat out to write a story about a dysfunctional family, who went on a trip via sailboat. Of course, it got laid to the side so I could focus on other things. Roughly two days ago, I found the thumb drive it was saved on. So, I am in the midst of changing it, hopefully sharpening the dialogue and correcting bits and pieces of it. I hope to present it in the upcoming writer’s contest and work it into a published work for NANOWRIMO.

Thanks for reading.

Freeman

P.S. Tempest will be published here for all to read. I wouldn’t leave my visitors to Freeman’s Front Porch Musings out. 😉

The Red Room…a continuation of the short story…

Tia awakens to a silent house. “Jesus, I’m late for work!” Rushing to the bathroom, she strips off her clothes. After showering she throws on the brown uniform and rushes out of the house. The diner is nigh vacant when she arrives. “Only the usual culprits are hanging around this evening.”
She walks behind the bar, and one of the customers gives her a flirty smile and winks.

“Howdy, Tia. How’s it going?”

Tia flirts back and bats her eyelids. She sweeps her graying hair out of her eyes and smiles.

“Hey! Can I get you some more coffee?”

The patron nods and Tia fills his cup. The man spoons in some sugar and blows on the hot beverage.

“I saw Gina headed to Dairy Queen earlier. Is she in summer school?”

“No. Why do you ask?”

The man shrugs and sips his coffee.He lets out a satisfied sigh, and then he continues.

“Well, she had an overnight bag thrown over her shoulder. I thought she might have homework.”

“Well, thanks for letting me know.”

Tia walks to the back and takes the phone off the hook. She punches in the number and waits for an answer. She doesn’t get one. “God, what am I doing wrong with my daughter?” She continues to call during her shift to no avail. As the sun rises from its bed, a patrol car pulls into the lot. Tia watches them approach.”Good morning, officers.” They nod and walk up to the counter. “Morning, Tia. May we speak to you for a moment?” Tia nods. “What has this child done now?”

They walk to a corner booth and sit down across from one another. The senior officer looks Tia in her eyes, his mouth a singular hard line.”Tia, we have some bad news. Gina is in the hospital.” Tia stares at them dumfounded. She goes to sip her coffee, but spills it on her apron instead.”What? What happened?” The cop gives no answer to her question but continues. “Gina is at Forrest General. We can give you a lift to the hospital if you would prefer.”

“What happened to my daughter?” The senior officer pats her hand. “It would be best if the doctor tells you, okay?” Together, they walk to the car. The hospital is a short drive away, and while they are making their way to it, Tia runs scenarios through her mind. “God, please let my baby be okay. Please, please don’t take her from me. I’ll be a better mom.”

The officers usher her into the hospital and they enter the trauma wing. A doctor stands by to receive them. “You must be Gina’s mom. I’m Dr. Twain. We can talk in my office.” Dr. Twain places a steady hand on her shoulder and guides her to an office no bigger than a utility closet. Kindly, he gestures to an empty chair for her to sit in. “There is no easy way to say this, ma’am.” Dr. Twain’s Southern accent is syrupy and he speaks in a quiet, professional voice. “Gina is a victim of rape. She fought her attackers and made her way here. We found her in the parking lot. From all appearances, there were more than one rapist.”

“Oh dear God…”

“I know this is tough to hear; and I am sorry to be the one to tell you. Your daughter needs you. We will take care of her injuries, but you must decide on how we proceed.”Tia nods her head and wipes the tears from her eyes. Her hazel eyes are cloudy with fear and anguish.

“May I see her now?”

“Yes, we sedated her and she is resting, but you can sit in the room with her.” Tia follows the doctor to a room in the far corner of the hospital wing.” The room is dark, but it does nothing to mask the damage done to Gina. Large, purple bruises mark her face. Gina’s lips while still retaining their fullness show cracks. Dr. Twain pulls her shirt up to reveal the bruises on her ribs. Black bruises around Gina’s neck are turning purple.

Tia falls to her knees and begins to cry. A nurse bends down and pulls her into a hug. “It’s going to be okay,” she says. She holds her until Tia stops crying.

“I need to use a phone.”

“Come on, I’ll take you to it.” Tia nods to Dr. Twain and walks down the hall with the nurse to the phone. She thanks the nurse and punches in the number.

“Hello?”

“Wiley? It’s Tia. Someone hurt my baby.”

The Red Room…the beginning of a short story…perhaps for NANOWRIMO…

Wiley Wilkerson sits in the middle of the floor of The Red Room. He runs his fingers over the fresh scar which crosses the width of his face. From left temple to right ear lobe, the scar seeps blood down his face onto his neck. “Why did I come here tonight? Old Man Parsons told me to stay away, but I just had to come see for myself.”

To his right, a low groan slips from the lips of one of the bouncers. Wiley stands to his feet. Gripping the wooden bat, he walks over to the bouncer. The bouncer sees Wiley coming toward him and begins to crab walk backwards away from him. 

“Where do you think you’re going?” No answer. Instead, the bouncer tries to find another gear and flee. Wiley continues his ‘pursuit’ of the broken man. He lowers the bat to the floor, it makes a bump, bump, bump as it bounces off the tiles. There is nowhere for the bouncer to flee to. Finally, he leans back against the wall and watches Wiley draw closer.

“I didn’t know she was your niece, man. Please have mercy.” Wiley smiles at the bouncer, his white teeth flashing in the neon lights. The bouncer shivers. 

“Oh, I see. If you had known she was my niece, you wouldn’t have raped her, right? Am I understanding that correctly?” No answer, rather the bouncer sobs. Racking sobs cause the man’s shoulders to shake, Wiley waits for him to compose himself. 

Wiley pulls the bat up to his shoulder and assumes a good batting stance. “Well, I suppose those words were meant to provide me some sort of comfort, but unfortunately for you, it sounds like you were okay raping other people’s kids.”

“Wait, ma-”

The bat collides with the bouncer’s head with a sickening thud. Wiley swings the bat until the man’s brain matter lies on the floor.

“It wasn’t always this way.”  

Two weeks ago:

“Mom!”

No answer.

“MOM!”

“What, Gina? I’m outside hanging laundry on the clothesline,” her mother shouts. Gina walks to the back door of the 28×70 mobile home and leans out. Her mother, Tia, is clipping bedding onto the line. “Can I go out tonight with Jonathon? He asked me to go to The Red Room.”

Tia pauses and pushes her graying hair out of her eyes. Sweat trickles down her hawkish nose, and she puts a hand on her hip. 

“How many times must we talk about this, Gina? All sorts of unsavory characters hang out at that juke joint. No, you can’t go. You tell Jonathon, I said to quit asking.”

Gina slams the door shut. “What am I going to do with her? She is only 16, she knows nothing of the real world.” Tia wipes her face and continues to hang the laundry on the clothesline. 

Finishing the laundry, Tia walks in. Gina lies on the couch watching some daytime drama on the television. Propped up on the pillows, Gina scowls at her mother. 

“You never let me do anything fun. Jonathon is the cutest boy in my school, do you have any idea what it would do for me to date him?”

“Puppies are cute, and they won’t break your heart. Get a job and go buy you a dog.”

Gina crosses her arms, her full lips pressed into a pout. “You think you’re funny. I hate you.” 

“I love you to, Gina. I’m going to grab a shower and catch a nap before my shift at the diner. Try to keep the noise down.”

After a quick shower, Tia lies down on the couch. It doesn’t take long before her exhaustion compels her to sleep. Soon, she is snoring. Gina watches her mother from the hallway, her overnight bag slung over her thin shoulders.

“That’s right, mom. Catch you a nap. I’m going to make the most of my chance with Jonathon.”. 

Silently, Gina slips from the trailer and walks down the winding, gravel road toward town.

Reptilian…A short story…

The silence is menacing in the all-white room. I look around, white paint hides the blemishes of past paintings. It’s suffocating in here. A lone ceiling fan, the paddles made from fake wood, stirs the same air around the room. My nostrils tingle. The overpowering smell of bleach is intrusive. I sit in an aluminum chair and count the outlines of concrete brick. I make it to forty when the door swings open and a bald man, wearing squared off glasses, walks into the room. He sits behind an all-metal desk and flicks on the lamp.

“How are you today, Wiley?” His beady, green eyes bore into me, like a hawk watching a field mouse from high on his perch of pine. I look at the floor and shrug.

“I feel lost.” His green eyes never waver. The lens on his glasses are smudged. He pulls them off and wipes at them with a grey handkerchief. 

“Explain.”

“I don’t know how to Dr. Walker. I am stuck somewhere between apathy and righteous rage.” Sweat beads on my forehead, a sense of foreboding creeps in. “Crap. I’ve shared too much.” Dr. Walker puts his glasses on. His thin lips form a singular, hard line. 

“What has you in such a tizzy this morning? Is it family issues? Are you having trouble sleeping?”He stares at me, intently trying to gauge my responses by my facial expressions. I stand and walk to a potted plant in the corner of the squared room. 

“It’s nothing.”

“Then why are you stuck between apathy and righteous rage? Something has triggered this visit.” I touch the plant. It’s plastic. “Like the people who run this country. There is nothing real anymore.” I can feel his beady, green eyes on my back and the knowledge of it makes my insides quiver. 

“I don’t know where I fit in. It was a mistake to come here.” He motions to the chair and beckons for me to sit. I don’t move. Me and the fake plant occupy the corner. 

“There is nothing wrong with feeling like an outcast. All people experience it. War has made you leery of human interaction. It’s normal to feel out of place after seeing what you’ve seen.”

I sit on the floor. Me and the potted plant is rooted to the foundation. My face itches, I rub it. The long hairs of my beard hurt. I stare at the empty walls. “At least they aren’t on fire like the homes and businesses of the recent riots.” Down the hall a scream rings out. Instinctively, I flinch.

“Are you upset about the recent riots?” My neck itches, I rub it. I interlace my fingers. Sweat drips into my eyes, and I begin to rock.

“Where did we go wrong? Was it the lowering of the standards of conduct in a polite society? Did it have to do with interfering with the discipline practices of the family?” I mutter and rock. 

“I can’t hear you,” Walker says. He walks over and sits on the floor next to me. “I am here to help you. You can trust me.” I stop rocking. The presence of Walker is infringing upon my peace. “Go away,” I mutter. “He thinks you’re crazy.” I scoot across the floor and put my back to the wall. My chin hidden behind my knees; I stare at Walker like a mongoose stares at a snake. “He has beady eyes. Reptilian! He is a reptile.” As I rock, I watch. Finally, Walker stands to his feet and looks at his watch. “Would you like to schedule another appointment?”

I watch as the reptilian, human caricature sits behind the metal desk and pulls out an appointment book. “He is one of them.” I shake my head, sweat is flung from my hair.

“No. No appointments. I have to go.” I leap to my feet and rush from the room. “Don’t look at anybody. Nothing is real. Everyone is cold-blooded. Reptilian!” Hurriedly, I rush out of the intrusive environment. I gasp for a breath of clean air. The warm sunshine lights on my shoulder. People mill about me, I look around. I am trapped on a planet full of snakes, where nothing is real. 

In the quiet of my mind, I hear a snap. 

A bad day…A short story…

“Morning, unc. What are you up to?” I look over the top of my glasses, not my good pair, they are for church but the old, ugly readers I wear for typing. My nephew stands in the doorway letting out all my cold air.

“Shut the door! Are you trying to cool off the entire neighborhood?” Lancelot Hopkins appears startled and slams the door with a loud bang. I stare at him for a moment. 

“What are you doing here,” I ask. He shuffles to the couch and sits beside me. With a flourish he jams his hands into his pants pocket and his mouth becomes a hard line. 

“I’m having problems at school. Sometimes, I think my professors are out to put to the screws to me.” I pick up my MacBook Air and punch in the password. 

I glance to my right and nod my head. “It can seem that way,” I said. “Have you spoken to your professor concerning your feelings?” Lancelot shakes his head, his dirty blond hair flows with the movement.

Lancelot guffaws. “Why would I do that,” he snickers. “Do you think they would tell me if they were?” I lock eyes with him. “Yeah. Generally, that’s how the world operates.”

“Unc, he called me a dirty white boy.” I open my blog on WordPress. “How should I start this post,” I wonder. Lancelot taps me on my shoulder. “Did you hear me,” he asks. I nod. I have no long flowing locks. It feels like a thousand degrees here in Mississippi, I’m glad to be bald. “Yeah, I heard you. Did you go to class dirty?”

Lancelot stares at me incredulously. “No-” I put my hand up. “Then who cares what he called you. You have to stop taking offense to everything.”

My nephew leaps to his feet and kicks at my boots. His temper tantrum is punctuated with violent hand gestures. Left, right, up, down, I watch as he transforms from a coherent, well spoken young man into this caricature of a three-year old upset he isn’t having his way. 

“No wonder you don’t get any respect,” I said once his temper is under control. “Have you ever considered therapy?” He stares at me, his blue eyes flashing furiously. “I don’t need therapy.”

“Uh-huh. What you need is to have your butt kicked up around your shoulders. Grow up. Stop letting little things drag you down.”

Lancelot kicks my boots over. “What he said was racist.” I laugh out loud. “Seriously? Someone call the news! I can hear it right now: Breaking news! Racism is alive and well. Tonight, we have a disturbing report where a college student is called a dirty white boy. Caligula’s sister is standing by to report from the campus. Take it away!”

Lancelot walks toward the front door. “You’re making fun of me.” I pout and he stares at me. “Aww. You need to realize something here, hoss. The world isn’t fair. It doesn’t owe you anything, neither does the individuals living on this spinning rock. This is your life. You either take control of it or you blame your shortcomings on other people. Grow up. Stop being a freaking loser. Get out of my house, your stupidity may be contagious.”

I watch as he walks off my porch. “It’s so easy to look for reasons why you can’t make it. There goes another one who will end up blaming society for their shortcomings in life. God help us.”

Anniversary…

I received a notice today from WordPress that it is my anniversary. Two years ago, I decided to switch from Blogger to WordPress. It has been an adventure, and it does an old man’s heart good to know that I have been blessed to have such a tremendous audience.

All in all, I am blessed to have a platform to share my writing (mis)adventures. Thanks for sharing my happiness and pain.

God bless you all.

Freeman

Good afternoon…

Hello, from the backwoods of Mississippi. I wanted to take a moment and express my gratitude to every person who follows Freeman’s Front Porch Musings. Thank you all for joining me on this grand adventure.

I am not feeling like myself today. My doctor has given me some new meds, and they are taking a toll on me. It’s okay, I just need to get used to it. I have several projects in the air, some are being reviewed, others are unwritten-as of yet. Still, there is work to be done, and hopefully, I will be able to release it for your viewing pleasure.

It’s my wish you all have a stellar day. God bless you all.

Freeman

Some more of Shame Walker and his hunt…

Shame makes his way deeper into the woods, following the tracks and sign left by the fifth largest cat in the world. The shadows of the wood grows larger as the sun goes down. Shame stops and makes camp, taking time to gather firewood, while dusk drapes her shroud over the earth. 

Tired from the day’s events, he leans against the tree and opens a MRE. He removes the portable heater and places it in the assault pack. Opening the spoon, Shame rapidly eats the grilled chicken, Skittles, jalapeno cheese spread and crackers. His belly full, his mind takes him back to the packs of wild dogs.

The problem we had with the wild dogs were because they didn’t hunt only during the day. They also hunted at night. When visibility was minimal, they would attack. To top it all off, I killed a kid. Why do I get a second chance at life? God hates me, the kid’s family hates me. There is no up, only the bottom exists. I’m unredeemable, a predator like this cat. I’m a monster.”

Restless sleep calls Shame in its lullaby, and Shame cannot resist the siren’s song. He wakes at the crack of dawn and stands to his feet. Years of fighting one war or another have taught him to sleep wherever he lies. Stretching, he slips on his pack and heads deeper into the woods in search of his adversary. It doesn’t take long for him to pick up the tracks of the panther.

The hunt goes on.

As he follows the tracks of the enormous cat, he sips a bottle of water. Towering pine and oak make a canopy that keeps most of the sunlight from filtering into the forest. Entranced by the natural beauty, Shame looks around. The tracks of the cat have all but disappeared. 

“Now where did this animal go?”

With a roar, the man-eating beast leaps from a towering pine. Caught unaware, it slams him to the ground. The panther swats at his face, arms and shoulders. Three inch claws cut into his arms. Shame grabs a broken shaft of an arrow and slams it into the beast. It roars and continues its relentless barrage. Unable to use the bow as a weapon, he attempts to roll away from the cat. 

The cat isn’t having it. Teeth pierce his left shoulder. Screaming, Shame pulls the Ka-Bar folding knife and shoves it into the giant cat’s underbelly. His hands bloody, Shame grips the blade with two hands and snatches it toward him. The cat whimpers as its internal organs thud against the ground. Shame crawls back from the beast and watches as the great cat gasps its last breath. 

Shame leans against a tree and takes stock of his injuries. Deep cuts cover his arms, his shoulder pierced by the big cat. A long cut runs down the right side of his face. The assault pack came loose during the fight with the beast. Shame crawls to it and pulls out his homemade first aid kit. 

After bandaging his wounds, Shame walks over to the panther. The cat is dead. Shame puts his hand on the cat’s head and whispers a few words. Dipping his hands in the blood that soaks the ground, he marks his face. Rising slowly, he makes his way out of the woods. 

A bit more Shame…an unedited work…

“Oh, boy.”

Hours pass but finally, Shame finds the poacher’s body. Slipping out of the assault pack, he looks around. Blood soaks the ground. On the poacher’s body, deep lacerations cover his back, and bite marks are upon his throat. Shame pulls out the two-way radio given to him by Rachel Winterborne. 

“HQ, this is Shame. How copy?”

“Go for HQ, Shame.”

“Roger, I have found the missing person.”

“Say again, Shame?”

“I have found the missing person. My location is about a mile west of mile marker 390.”

“Roger, help is en route.”

“Roger, out.”

Glancing around the site of where the attack happened, Shame locates black fur hanging off of a broken branch. “A black panther. Great. Why does it have to be an animal?” As he waits for the wardens to arrive, his mind takes him back to his last war. 

“Sheik Al-Mahdi has requested our help. Packs of ravenous dogs are attacking children and adults alike. If you come across packs of dogs during your patrols, put ‘em down.

“Roger, sir!”

“Day after day, we killed wild dogs by the dozens, and they still came. They preyed on the young and the weak. Throats ripped out, clawed to pieces. What a horrible way to die. I don’t care what this poacher did, he didn’t deserve to die like this. No one does.”

A snap brings Shame back to reality. Slowly turning his head, he notices a presence. In the shadow of a towering white oak, he can barely make out two yellow eyes staring at him. With the swish of its tail, the black panther turns and moves deeper into the woods. 

“Shame, are you out here?” 

The radio squawks out the call, and Shame keys the mic. 

“Yeah, I am here.”

Before long, Rachel strides through the brush into the holler where Anthony Morley’s eviscerated body lies. Rachel doesn’t even look at the body, she walks directly to where Shame stands. 

“What is out there? What killed Anthony Morley?”

“A black panther.”

“You’re kidding.”

Shame shakes his head. “No, I’m not kidding. I saw it with my own eyes.” Rachel shakes her head and runs her fingers through her silver hair. 

“Do you know what you’re saying? Black Panthers are rare. Few people ever see them. They’re solitary animals. Can you track it?”

“Maybe. It’s like any other animal.”

“Except this one killed a man.” 

Together, Shame and Rachel walk to the body of Anthony Morley. Rachel pinches off her nose and turns. Running to a bush, she loses her lunch. Gasping for air, she wipes her mouth with the back of her hand.

“Are you okay, Rachel?”

“How can you stand there and not mind the smell of dead flesh?”

“I’ve fought in many wars. Stay here until your back-up arrives. I will see if I can’t find this cat.”

As Shame turns to walk deeper into the woods, Rachel touches his shoulder. “Shame, be careful.” Nodding his head, he picks up his assault pack and bow. 

The hunt is on.