If I could go back in time…

In the quiet morning hours, I consider the life altering moments of my past. None have driven home the importance of living life to the maximum effect more so than the first headless body I saw in Iraq. 

They strung it up by the shoulders from an overpass. Like Dorthy from the Wizard of Oz, I soon discovered we “weren’t in Kansas anymore.” We were from Texas, but you don’t see many folks hanging decapitated from overpasses there. The gruesome nature of what I saw forced me to realize my mortality. “Crap. I should’ve lived my life to the maximum! I may not survive this ordeal.”

I survived. However, I fell right back into the trap of prioritizing my career above my family. It wasn’t long before I valued possessions over people. There is nothing wrong with being driven, ambitious or any combination in-between. Soon upon my return from the sandbox, I cluttered my life with needless things. 

What exactly are needless things? Anger, hate, and a lack of balance. I exercised no restraint upon my life. Events would occur and I over-reacted. How often did I overreact? All the time. There was no middle ground. 

If I could pass on a piece of advice to my younger self, it would be this: Live your life uncluttered. Surround yourself with good people, those who will encourage you, love you and stand by you through thick and thin. Let the frustrations of life pass you by. Don’t react to everything that occurs. Sometimes, you are better off not acknowledging that something has occurred. 

Now, it’s day two of the hostage situation, i.e. work. Let’s go get ‘em. Be safe out there.

Freeman

A Sick Twist of Fate…A short story…

Tim Williams looked out his library window and stared at his vehicle under the open carport. His mind is aflutter with unfinished thoughts. Facing east, he waits for the sun to rise. “It’s Saturday. I may get my allotted two hours with her today.”  Starry Wilkinson, a woman of exquisite strength and beauty, is the woman referenced by his thought. Her grayish mane, bluish-grey eyes, and natural beauty are second place to her wit, intelligence, and kindness. To boot, Starry is a journalist who worked as an anchor at the local television station. She spent her weekends volunteering at the hospital in the children’s wing. Tim is madly in love with Starry. “Can you believe it’s been eight years since I began pursuing this woman? That must be some kind of record!” As with all things, the beginning started off hot and heavy. It took Tim two weeks to pop the question. Yes, Tim is slow. Still, after one failed relationship after another, Tim knew he had met the woman of his dreams. His eagerness coupled with her suspicious nature had led to a more restrained approach to their friendship. “Days have turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years and I am still holding on. Hope springs eternal. Is this friendship/relationship going to be as futile as the war I fought in? Will there be a payout at the end?” Tim mentally shrugs his shoulders and waters his cactus on the windowsill. “I guess we will find out.”

A shadow crossed the window, and Tim looked up. A red hawk, perched precariously upon his carport roof, gazed into the window. Tim watched the hawk. Annoyed by his appearance in the window or Tim’s sudden movement, the hawk flew off. “I don’t blame him. What I see in the mirror frightens me too.” Tim’s free hand wiped at his bald head and he looked at his watch. “Crap. I need to get started cleaning. I want Starry to enjoy her visit with me tonight. She will like what I’ve done with the library.”

Tim began in the kitchen. He tossed empty Gatorade containers into the 42-gallon trash bag. “It has taken me time to make peace with whom I was during war, but Starry never doubted me. She is a godsend. Still, after eight years and minimum change in my status, I am growing tired.” Frustration settled into Tim’s mind. “What am I doing? Am I wasting my time? What if there is no future where we end up together?”

Time has passed with the quickness of molasses dripped from an overturned quart jar. Instead of drawing closer, Starry and Tim saw less of each other. The void in Tim’s heart grew with each day without her. Starry became a social butterfly. Blessed to live in a small town, she became the director for every social event within the city limits. Slowly, the chasm between the two seemed insurmountable to Tim. “From sunup to sundown, Starry is busy. I would call, but I’m sure she is working, and I don’t want to be a bother.” Instead, Tim tried to find other things to do to occupy his time. Finally, he hit upon an idea while he stacked lumber in his shop. “We could do a day trip today. I could make a picnic basket, we could ride to the lake and watch the waves come in. It’s not expensive and a bit redneck-ish but it’d be fun.” Tim walked back into the house and packed a basket. Spiral ham, tomatoes, a loaf of homemade bread, mayo, mustard and a few other ingredients filled the basket. When he completed the preparations for lunch, he took the basket and a clean blanket out to his truck. He picked up his phone and punched in Starry’s number.

“Hello?”

“Hey,” Tim said. A goofy grin crossed his face. “What are you doing?”

“Sleeping. Do you need something?”

“No, I stacked lumber in my shop and thought I’d see if you felt up to a day trip to Lake Homer. I made a basket and packed everything in my truck. All that’s missing is you.”

“We can,” Starry answered grumpily. The grin faded from his face.

“No, it’s okay. Get some rest.”

“Tim, wait. I don’t want you to be mad. We can go, I worked late last night and have to go back tonight. Let me get dressed.”

“Starry, it’s okay. I knew you had to work. It’s no big thing, okay? Get some rest. We can do it some other time.”

“Are you sure? Please don’t be mad at me.”

“I’m not. Sweet dreams.” He quietly punched the red button and tossed the phone on his workbench. “I guess I will unload the truck.” Tim took the basket in hand and walked into his cabin. He placed the food into the fridge and walked back to the truck.

Tim took out the revolver in the center console and checked to make sure he had loaded it. He closed the door and leaned against the porch. “This loneliness is too much. War took so much from me. Some of my friends never returned home, the ones who returned came back with serious issues. I am alone. It’s just me and the darkness. He flipped the gun around and stared into the barrel. The black frame reminded him of the loneliness in his heart and a tear rolled down his cheek. “There is nothing left for me here. I don’t want to be alone anymore.” 

The revolver is cold against his temple. He thinks of his friends lost in combat action, of the innocents who died because of the war. He closed his eyes. Tim’s loneliness dissipated in the hammer’s sound hitting the firing pin and the smell of burned gunpowder.

Monday morning musings…

It’s another early morning here at my house. I’ve been up since 0230. There never seems to be enough time to accomplish the laundry list of things I hope to get done. “Work on AWID?” Check. “Clean the house and shop?” Check. “Make time for….” and then it’s to bed. 

I crashed early last night. I slept soundly until 0230, but life has a funny way of pushing us to our limits. I’m a firm believer in punctuality and discipline. My Monday is already filled with things to do, objectives that must be accomplished before I can rest again. 

I work harder now that I’ve retired than I ever did as a full-time employee. To ensure my week gets off to a good start, I’ve declined watching the news and limiting my interaction on social media. 

So far, my plan has worked. However, social media is as addictive as caffeine, alcohol, and drugs. My primary profile was banned for ‘noncompliance’ of ‘community standards.’ I’m not going to fight it, thankfully I had two profiles. I will say that my violation had nothing to do with anything violent or viscous, rather I posted a nice meme about the purpose of the 2nd Amendment. Someone obviously disagreed with the message and my viewpoint, so they disabled my account.

Which brings me to my thought this morning.

In a world which demands conformity, be an original. Believe in your views and yourself. Never back down from what you believe to be true. Do your own research, don’t follow the masses. If you follow the masses, remember sometimes the ‘M’ is silent. 

Y’all have a great Monday.

Freeman

A few thoughts…

It’s been an interesting evening and morning so far. Yesterday, I worked in my library. New shelves were placed into the room, books were moved from the outgoing shelf to their new homes. In the midst of my work, I was struck by a pang of ‘not belonging.’

I was struck by the notion out of the blue. Belonging has never been an objective of mine. My motto has always been, ‘I’m me. If others like it fine, if they don’t…fine.’ Why I felt like a fish out of water puzzled me.

Maybe it’s old age.

The dying light of day brought my work to an end, but the emotions never faded. Late into evening, I began a short story titled “A Sick Twist of Fate.” Emotions of past events spilled upon the page. The word count ticked higher and higher. I’m still not done.

Inspiration isn’t always pretty. Morning came and the emotion hasn’t subsided. Sometimes, I am amazed I still stand. The reckoning of my past at times is brutal. Choices I’ve made haunt me. Here’s the problem with choices: You’re free to make them, but you’re not free of the consequences.

Either way, a new day has dawned. This room, and story, isn’t going to finish itself. May your day be blessed with good fortune.

Freeman

More…

I sit in a red chair, my mind a muddled mess of thoughts, each one ramming into the other with wild abandon. The smell of death fills my sinus pathways, my past encroaches upon the edge of insanity. 

“Welcome to the Cliffs of Madness,” My mind yells in a carnival barker voice. “Step right over, you’re just a few thousand feet from the solution of all life’s problems!” As if the solution to my issues lies in falling to my death. I wipe the sweat off my brow and try to focus. “This post won’t write itself.” Outside, the gray sky appears bulletproof. I wish my mind would shut up. My hands are posed up the keyboard, they don’t even twitch.There is nothing to say. My television is a 47” blank screen. My mind is equally blank. “Come on, give me something to write about. One idea that’s all I need.” I’ve got nothing. Silence fills the room, the chaos of the world is simply to much for coherent thoughts to emerge. Finally, my hands begin to move.

“The world is a wondrous place filled with good and bad,” I begin. “People scramble through life, zipping from one objective to the other, in a maddening rush to acquire more possessions, to amass a fortune of untold wealth, greedily clutching their prize to their breast. The hunger for more is never quelled. More, more, more…” 

I watch as people rush to gain more power. To wield control over the masses, to bend the world to their whim. It’s futile. The craving for more creates a void which can never be filled. It’s a chasm of calamity.

Like rats in a maze, they rush to and fro. They never realize life is passing them by, they are blinded by their insatiable lust to conquer the next obstacle. To exercise their new found power. In the end, they are empty husks, their lives wasted in a insane dash to be better than their peers. 

It’s maddening.

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.”