Beyond the Waterfall

“Mommy, I can’t sleep”. She said sheepishly. Her mother who had not yet fallen asleep responded with, “Yes you can honey! Now go back to your room and give it another try”! The little girl stood in the doorway for several seconds before slowly closing the door as she headed down the darkened hallway back into her room. Her eyes began to adjust to the blackness at first seeing a shadowy figure in her bed until she was able to focus on the covers which looked like a lying body across her mattress. She didn’t want to approach the bed so instead she ran into her plush chair in the opposite corner of the room and held her favorite pillow-bear for dear life.
She clenched her eye lids and tried to imagine that she was in a different place. She was hearing strange noises now and was afraid to open her eyes for even a brief second. She first felt a slight breeze. It had the smell of mountain air, a scent that she remembered from her trip to the Rocky Mountains last summer. Then she felt some kind of mist spraying on her face and uncovered arms. She couldn’t hold back any longer, she had to know what was happening. As she opened one of her eyes she saw a brilliant light reflecting off a huge body of water. Opening her other eye, she tried to focus but the glare through the mist made it very hard to.
Suddenly she heard a crashing sound that caused her to jump up onto her feet while remaining in the chair. The mist was so intense that she could not make out its origin. Suddenly she noticed that the body of water was beginning to rise up the legs of her chair as she began to scream for her mother. She clinged to her pillow waiting for her mothers’ arrival but it wasn’t to be. She began screaming louder and longer as the water reached the edge of her seat. “Where was the water coming from”?, she yelled but with no one there to respond to her cries. She thought that she may have cried wolf one too many times and that her mother was trying to teach her a lesson without realizing that this time her concerns were very real.
She could feel the water as it had moved above her ankles and she could see her feet sparkling in her beaming sunlight filled room. “This has to be a dream”, she thought moving her toes and feeling the water splashing up against her calves. “Mommy, mommy, mommy, Mahhhhm”!, she yelled with every ounce of volume that she could muster. Still there was no sign of her coming to the rescue. She climbed up the back of the chair to the very top releasing herself from the grip of the rising water. From that added height she could see the top of a Waterfall in the distance. That was the cause of the mist but what was making the water rise? It was as if high tide had moved in more rapidly than it normally should.
She wanted to jump in and make her escape toward the door which she could no longer see, so she set her sights on her bedroom window and she took the plunge. In the beginning she felt a heavy weight that was trying to hold her down under the surface, finally realizing that her pillow-bear had fallen on top of her. Removing him she was able to surface and began swimming in the direction of the window, which she could clearly see was no more than eight to ten feet away. When she arrived there was no sign of her neighborhood but instead there was only the endless view of water as far as she could see. The window was not of her bedroom but it belonged to a ship, which was beginning to rock on top of the rather large waves. She opened the window and stuck her head out and for the first time could see clearly the waterfall that had caught her eye a few minutes prior. The rainbow mist was just like she remembered traveling to see Niagara Falls a couple of summers ago. “Where are we?”, she had asked Bernie, her pillow-bear but he was nowhere to be found. Panicking at the thought she may very well be on her own for the first time in her long ten years on this planet, she got very scared.
She began to feel nauseous from that very thought as well as the rocking motion which made her feel queasier. Suddenly she saw an object below her window deep in the water. It was very large and it moved like a snake. She moved her upper half further out and lowered herself as she balanced herself on the windowsill trying to get a better look at the figure floating beneath her. Slithering toward the boat she shifted her weight back to the middle of her body just in case she needed to climb back inside in a moments’ notice. The “Snake” moved under the boat out of her view. She cautiously moved out again and tried to see better beneath the boat.
Suddenly the boat shook from a large jolt from below sending her little body out the window and down toward the water. The creature was waiting for her with its mouth wide open. Gravity was not her friend as she plunged into the “Snakes” mouth and began to descend deeper and then much faster almost like a chute at a Waterpark. The ride was both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. What little bit of control she used to have over her stomach was now lost. She vomited all over herself, the water helped to rinse her clothes off. She kept on falling until she reached the bottom but instead of stopping she kept right on going. Climbing up the tube, never slowing down she started to feel more comfortable and even began to enjoy the ride.
It felt like she was accelerating rather than decelerating. Soon the tube began to ever so slightly begin to narrow and the light inside began to fade when she realized that she would need to stop this ride because a closed end was quickly approaching. She tried to put on the brakes but she was traveling too fast so instead she closed her eyes and prepared for an inevitable collision. Even through her shut eye lids she realized that the light had come back on and as she reopened her beautiful blue eyes to see a wide opening where there had just recently appeared to be no escape. Her glee turned to fear when the tube still ended and she went flying out and over Waterfall. She thought that she had magically begun to fly before her fall broke her of that sensation. She began to freefall heading down toward a body of water beyond the waterfall.
Landing hard enough to knock the wind right out of her, she began to struggle to catch her breath from under the water. She didn’t think that she could get to the surface fast enough and once again panic had set in. She felt the scales on the back of the enormous “Snake” as it lifted her above the water and laid her down to the surface of a small patch of grass on the edge of a lush and dense forest. Beginning to hyper-ventilate and desperately over breathing she began to lose consciousness and fell into a very deep slumber.
The small child awoke from her coma state to find that she had been laid to rest in a bed of green silky leaves. She had a hard time focusing through the foliage but she could hear the waterfall in the distance. Trying to get to her feet she lost her balance and fell back into the bed of leaves. Wondering how long she had been lying there she realized that this dream wasn’t looking like it was going to end anytime soon. She became very homesick and started to cry and she murmured “Mommy”. She laid there for several minutes until she had calmed down and then began to try and raise herself up once again. Successful she looked around and saw some of the tallest trees that she had ever seen in her young life. As she looked down toward her bed she realized that the size of some of those leaves were as big as she was. “Where is this place”?, she finally spoke out loud.
With her unfamiliar noise there was a strange group of sounds coming from inside and out of the forest that began to seemingly sing in an unusual kind of melody. It really calmed her down as it had a hypnotic effect. She was drawn to it but wasn’t sure which way to go since it sounded like it was coming from everywhere. It began to subside causing her to want to move in some direction. She thought perhaps she might go out into the clearing to get a better view of things. As she moved so did the sound of something or someone else and when she stopped so too did the unidentified object. “Who goes there”? The unique hypnotic noises began again. The sound subsided again, so she returned to her walk and again the sounds of something else on the move started, only this time she kept right on moving.
She reached the clearing and as she stepped out into the light, the others movement stopped in its tracks. She hesitated for a moment but then continued on toward the waterfall. She heard nothing but the sound of water hitting the rocks below except she couldn’t actually see the rocks. As she investigated even further she noticed that this was not the way a waterfall normally looked. It wasn’t the front but it appeared to be the back of a waterfall instead. It was real clear as if she was peering through a looking glass. She crept forward glancing in every direction as she deliberately proceeded toward the spring. Finally reaching the edge, she looked down and was surprised to see no more than a few inches of water as far as she could see. It looked like the toddler pool in her community with practically no depth right up to the back of the waterfall.
She removed her now dry shoes as well as her socks and dipped a toe into the water. It was the perfect temperature. She placed her left foot in as the water came up only to the top of her ankle. Placing her other foot in she began to walk in the waterfalls direction. There was no mist on beyond the waterfall only the cool breeze that it produced naturally. She felt much more comfortable, moving forward occasionally placing her hand into the water and splashing it up into the air. She felt the water as it was pushing into her from the movement of the waterfall. Peering through the looking glass, she could make out a singular tiny object. It looked like a small house in the distance. It appeared to be more of a doll house rather than a large regular home. There also appeared to be a person in front but they did not look like they were giant next to that structure but instead was proportionately equal in size to the dwelling.
A vehicle pulled up to the home flashing its’ lights. “It was a police car”, she said out loud. Soon there were a second and then a third squad car parked in front of the home. What could possibly be happening for that family?, she thought to herself. The entire property was completely surrounded by water causing the young girl to wonder how these vehicles had been able make it to their house. She became very melancholy as she began to think about her mom. She wanted to walk through to the other side but she knew that the depth of the water was much deeper than it was on the backside. She kept an eye on the traffic in front of that house when she could see that there was something being removed from the property. It looked like a gurney with a body on top. The woman in the view was visibly upset as she went inside of the ambulance as the little girl watched the emergency vehicle pull out of the drive and race away. It disappeared from sight much like a mirage in the desert would evaporate into thin air.
She turned around and looked back to the shoreline and realized that the noises coming from the forest was but a light murmur in the distance. It was literally being drowned out by the sounds of the waterfall which was more like a running fan rather than that of water hitting the rocks. She started back toward the land while occasionally looking back toward that lone house in the distance. One by one the other vehicle’s left the location and disappeared from her sight. Reaching the end of the water, she stepped up and sat down and waited for her feet to dry before replacing her socks and shoes. No longer hearing any noises from the woods she once again felt very sad.
She could not see anything in the distance through the waterfall. A dark image began to move in the shallow water. It looked quite large but that had to be an illusion she thought because nothing that size could swim under the surface. It was moving closer toward the shore. The young girl began backing up when she bumped into something from behind. “What are you looking at child?”, said the voice with a smooth and soft voice, almost like a purr. The little girl didn’t want to remove her eyes from the object in the pond. “You have nothing to fear”, the voice continued. The object in the water began to circle moving away from the edge and then returning but never getting too close. It was almost like it was trying to show the youngster that it meant no harm.
Suddenly she felt a slow soft fur rubbing against her back as she turned to see what the stranger behind her looked like. It was a cat, a very large cat. It was slightly taller than she was on four paws and it reminded her of the cat from her most favorite book, Alice in Wonderland. “Hello”, the cat said but the little girl was unable to answer at first. “What’s the matter, Cat got your tongue?” The little girl swung around because that voice came from the water and it sounded like a sultry, devilish voice. It was the same snake that had swallowed and landed her in this place. She wasn’t sure where to go because she was surrounded by giant creatures. “Leave her alone”!, came yet another voice from the woods. Whatever it was it must be very big because it was making a thunderous boom with every step it took. She could make out the top of its large black haired head above the tree line.
With each step toward her she began to bounce just a little from the vibrations that this new creature would make. It was evident that the snake and the cat were a bit intimidated by whatever this object might be. Finally she could make out the animal in question. It was a giant gorilla and it was the splitting image of her favorite stuffed animal. She stood taller than the tallest tree in the forest yet she seemed as gentle as a lamb. The little girl felt very comfortable in its’ presence. “Good morning”, she said with a very calming female like voice. The little girl swallowed very hard before replying, “Good day”. “Is that an Australian accent you have honey”? She nodded but did not respond verbally, still feeling shy around her new companions. The cat had an interesting grin as did the snake but the gorilla reached her hand down to the ground, palm up but the little girl backed away at first. “It’s alright darling. You don’t have to do anything here that makes you feel uncomfortable”.
“What’s your name”?, asked the snake who had now placed his head up on the shore causing the little girl to stumble forward toward the cat who moved a little closer herself. The young girl fell to the ground and rolled up into a ball. “Ladies, Ladies! Stop scaring her”! “We’re not trying to scare her Georgia”,!, snapped the snake. “It doesn’t matter if you are trying or not, the fact is you are, so be more cautious Sam Sam when you approach the child. You too Carmen”! “Alright. We’re sorry”, replied Carmen the cat. “Yes, we are very sorry little one”. Everyone stayed silent for several minutes while the girl stayed in the fetal position. She peeked up and noticed that both Georgia and Carmen had backed away. Lifting her head and turning she could see that Sam had returned to the water a few yards from the shoreline. She raised herself up and stared at everyone for a couple more minutes before clearing her throat to say, “My name is Laurie”. “Laurie, what a pretty name “said Carmen . “Yes it is a very pretty name” replied Sam. “Well it is a pleasure to meet you Laurie”, Georgia chimed in. The little girl felt much more at ease as her smile returned to her face.
“How did you get here”?, Carmen asked. Laurie pointed in the direction of the waterfall. “You came from the other side of the falling river?” Georgia said using their terminology. “How”?, Carmen asked. Again Laurie pointed into the direction of the waterfall. “Yes we know you had come from the other side but I was asking how”? “She’s telling us Carmen”. “She is”? “Yes. She’s not pointing to the falling river she is pointing toward…” just then Sai decided to dive under the water and headed out toward the Sea. “Did Sam bring you hear Laurie”? The young girl nodded. “Sam Sam!” Georgia’s loud roar could be heard throughout the forest and Laurie suspected that it was also reverberating below the water. Sam’s head popped up in a rather playful way splashing water all over Laurie and Carmen. “How many times have I told you not to bring home strays from the outside, Sam”? Sam Sam’s playful grin turned into a sad like frown.
Laurie felt sorry for Sam Sam so she said that it was alright. Carmen told Sam that it was not alright. “You can’t continue to bring back every lovely object that you find outside”! “I’m sorry”, Sam said. “That’s right Sam Sam, Laurie has a home that she already belongs to”. Georgia implored causing Laurie to become sad once again. “We’re all very sorry Laurie”. Georgia placing her palm around the child but never touching her, “Would you like to go home, child”. Laurie lifted her sad face and nodded yes but she said that she hoped to return to this place someday. This gave great joy to all three as Carmen responded, “You are always welcome here anytime that you choose”. Laurie seemed very happy before she realized how was she going to get back?
Sam Sam sensing this opened his mouth wide causing much amusement by the other two as Laurie realized what she would have to do and wasn’t sure she wanted to return to the same rabbit hole. “Everything will be alright Laurie”, Carmen purred but the little girl needed to hear it from Georgia as well. Georgia just nodded in agreement and she turned toward Sam who was awaiting the little girl’s plunge. Taking a very deep breath she looked back at the Georgia and Carmen who were waving as she turned back, closing her eyes as she jumped into the water. Before she could hear a splash she was already descending down Sam Sam’s very long tunnel. It seemed wider this time as what very little light there was dwindled to a very black kind of darkness causing her to shut her eyes tightly hoping that the end would come very soon. Soon she could feel the sides of Sami’s scales begin to rub against her body as the width of the tunnel felt like it was closing in on her. Suddenly she came to a complete stop as she felt wedged inside of what may have been Sam’s tail. Laurie began to struggle but it only felt like things were getting tighter. She tried to twist her way back up the spine but she was clearly stuck like a trap. She cried out for some help.
“Help!, help”!, she yelled when a voice responded. “Hold on Laurie, you’re wrapped up in your covers”. The familiar voice had reached her and began to unwind the small child from the vice like grip that she had caused with her bedspread. “It’s alright honey, mommas got ya”. She said as she released Laurie from her bondage and replaced the covers with a tight hold of her only daughter. Laurie started to cry gently as her mom continued to reassure that everything was fine. “How did you get all tangled in your blankies? We’re you having a bad dream”? Laurie said nothing but just kept on clinging to her mother. I’m sorry honey, I know how much you hate the thunder. I should have let you sleep with me last night”. “It’s alright mommy. I forgive you”.

Chapter 2

Over the next few nights things had pretty much went back to normal. The nights were clear and calm and Laurie was able to get to sleep without much effort. The forecast called for several days of severe storms some of which may occur at night. Laurie’s mother had already told Laurie that she could stay in her room on this very evening. Things were docile when they went to bed that is until 11:30 when the loud crack of thunder had awoken them both from their slumber. It was as if their roles had been reversed because it was Laurie who was trying to comfort her mother during the storm. Actually her mother wanted her to feel more in control so she was enjoying her sweet daughter’s new found confidence. That is until the sound of lightening striking not too far in the distance shook them both up a little. “Are you alright mommy”?, Laurie said clinging to her for dear life. “Yes, Sweetie”. Laurie’s mother, Olivia grabbed another blanket from a nearby chair and covered the two of them hoping that it felt like another layer of protection. It worked because soon Laurie had dosed off into a deep slumber.
Olivia watched as Laurie was beginning to move in a kind of a slither much like a snake might express itself. She eventually stopped and became very still. Olivia laid in bed thinking about the past six months. She and her husband had separated which left Laurie feeling rather blue much of the time. She had become clingy but while she didn’t express her feelings about her missing father, she seemed more concerned about her mother perhaps leaving her as well. Laying there she began to think about her future. What if they couldn’t reconcile? What if he wants joint custody? Will she be able to meet someone else or will it take quite a while before Laurie is ready for a new person in their lives? It took a while but eventually Olivia did fall asleep.
Olivia woke up after 8:00, which is later than she usually rises. “I guess I must have needed the sleep”, she said out loud to no one really because she was alone in her room. “Laurie, honey”? she calmly yelled to a silent response. Sighing she lifted her covers to find Laurie’s blankie that she often held onto with superstition. “Laurie”, she yelled out toward the hallway, still with no answer. She got herself up and walked into her daughter’s room where she found her bed nicely made. She stood in the doorway looking around Laurie’s room when she suddenly had the realization that her lovely daughter would not be answering her anymore. She turned and her hand found a chair that was placed just outside of her room, grabbing it for support, she lowered herself down. “Thump” was the sound of her bottom hitting the chair as she went limp from the emotion that had overcome her at that very moment. Olivia sat there for several minutes clutching the blankie. She regained her strength and rose out of the chair and headed into the bathroom and shut the door.
The next few nights went by uneventfully. Olivia had her dinner alone around 7:30, then she watched a little TV, mostly for a distraction before heading up stairs for the night. She would usually try to read a little before dosing off for a semi good slumber. Most nights she usually dreamed about her daughter, which was both therapeutic and distressing. Nothing to unusual, just everyday mundane conversations and activities without much else to pass away the time between dreams. Olivia enjoyed their talks because they generally involved topics that wouldn’t have been discussed for several more years. She usually would wake up feeling depressed because the night had ended. One such conversation went Like this. “Mommy”? “Yes darling”. “What happens to you after you die”? Olivia just stared up into space before looking at her very sincere little girl. After a long pause, she said with a lump in her throat, “I really don’t know honey.” Without missing a beat, Laurie responded with “I know”! “You do”? “Yes of course, I actually had a dream about it a while back”. “What kind of dream was it, sweetheart”?
Laurie grabbed her mother’s hand and walked her over to the kitchen table and they both sat down. “It was an amazing dream momma”., she said with a gleam in her eye. “I traveled by boat then by snake under a waterfall and beyond to a place where everything was larger than normal”. “What do you mean by everything, Laurie”? “I mean the plants, stones, animals, everything except me”. “Is it scary”? Laurie looked at her mother as if she was transparent before answering with, “At first it was very scary, especially when I had travel inside of the snake to make it there”. “You had to go inside of the snake”? “Yes and it was very dark and tight”. Olivia knew that Laurie was always a bit claustrophobic and that she must have been terrified. “It didn’t take long before I knew that I was finally in a safe place”. Laurie said to a concerned looking parent. “Were there any people at this place”? “None that I could find but that was alright because the animals were able to communicate with me just like people could”. “The animals could speak”?, said an amused mother. “Yes and they were very friendly, especially, Georgia”.
Olivia was surprised to hear that name. “Georgia? Who is Georgia”? “She is a Gorilla and by the way the other animals respond to her, she must be the leader of the group”. “That sounds about right”, Olivia said under her breath. “Do you know the names of the other animals”? “Almost. There is Carmen the cat”, “Carmen you said”?, Laurie’s mother chimed in. “Yes, Carmen and then there is Sami Samthe Snake”. Olivia was stuck for any words for a moment. “Is that all”? “Yes, I mean no! There was another animal that laid low deep in the forest but he did not make himself present while I was there”. What kind of animal was he”? “He was a bit of a cowardly Lion”., Laurie said with a somber tone to that statement. “Perhaps, he does not like little girls”?, Olivia said with a slight smile. “No, I think he was afraid to be there at that moment”. “Why would you say that, honey”? “I think because he may have had something to do with my being there”. “I thought you said that the snake was responsible for your arrival to this place”? “He was”. “Then what do you mean”? “I’m not sure but I had the strangest feeling when we felt his presence. The other animals were happy to see me but it was if they weren’t expecting me for a while”?
The alarm was going off and Olivia awoke from the dream and soon after turning the clock alarm off she reached inside her end table to grab some paper and a pen and began writing down everything that she could remember from her dream. She wanted to have it all on paper so that she could share it with a therapist that she was going to see later that day.
She arrived at the therapists’ office approximately fifteen minutes before her appointment. The receptionist informed her that the doctor was running about ten minutes behind so it could be more like a half an hour before she could see her. She sat anxiously waiting. The doctor walked out of her office with another patient, she stood at least five inches taller than herself with long brunette hair that hung down to her waist. Something about her made Olivia feel very uneasy today. She walked over and held her hand out waiting for some kind of response from Olivia who hesitated for only a moment before responding with the same gesture. Hello Dr. Stringer. “I’ve told you, call me Missy”., she asked Olivia. Olivia was a little short on words to start this session. She had wanted to have last night’s dream explained but the Doctor wanted a chronology of events leading up to this visit. She was hesitant on a lot of the facts but began to calm down and explain the night that had changed her life forever. The doctor had cut her short to inform her that there fifty minutes had finished and that they would have to revisit that night next week. Olivia was extremely disappointed but understood that she had other patients waiting. “I’ll see you next week, was the last she heard before leaving her office.
Olivia did not have any dreams about her daughter during the next week, making her feel even more depressed than she normally did. When she arrived at the Doctor’s office for her next appointment, she came with her journal. “What do you have there Ms. Sumner”?, she asked. This is everything that I have written since Laurie’s ….”, she couldn’t even say the words. “May I”? extending her hand toward Olivia as she unconsciously handed the book over to Missy. Olivia thought she might open it and start looking through it a little before they began their session but instead Missy placed it on the coffee table and asked Olivia to begin where they had left off last week. A little stunned, she began to explain about that night six months ago.
It was during a fairly severe thunderstorm when she got out of bed to check on Laurie, who would normally come to her during such a significant storm. “This was her normal routine for such an event”?, Missy calmly asked. “Yes, in fact she had already asked if she could sleep with me before the storm had gotten really intense”. The doctor reached for her writing pad and began to scribble notes as Olivia continued. Choking up for a moment she said, “When I reached her bedroom door it was already open and I could see the empty bed from the doorway”. “Were you concerned at this point”? “A little but I thought she may have gone downstairs into the family room and got under her favorite faux bear skin covers”. But she wasn’t there”? Olivia just shook her head. “When did you first realize that she was missing from your home”? “I called out her name several times and then I went outside to look in my car in the drive before returning to search her entire room when I came across some empty hangers as well as another favorite blanket. I was pretty sure I knew who would have taken her at that time”. “Your ex-husband”? “My estranged late husband”., she said with no remorse in her voice. “Had he ever made any threats to you that would suggest he could have taken her in the past”? “None, in fact he wasn’t even there for her for some of his scheduled times”. Missy laid her pen down and grabbed a box of tissues to give to Olivia who was visibly shaken.
“Why did you wait as long as you did to tell me this”? “I first wanted to get past the anger that I had. This wouldn’t have been very constructive until I tried to forgive everyone”. “And by everyone, you mean…”? “I mean my late husband, myself and I supposed Laurie as well”. “Why Laurie”? “This may sound cliché, but for leaving me”! “And why would you need to forgive yourself, Olivia”? “Again with the cliché, because I should have let her stay in my room that evening and perhaps they both would still be here with me”! Wiping away the tears she stared toward the floor unable to lift her head for fear of having her tear ducts open wide. Dr. Springer returned to her pad. “Tell me about when you heard the news later that day from the State Patrol”. “It was mid-morning and the local police were already there taking my statement and looking for clues. They had already put out an APB for my husband’s vehicle. There was a knock on the door and as soon as I saw the officer standing there I knew that the news would not be very good”., she broke down into an almost uncontrollable sob.
“Let’s stop there for right now and we will pick it up in the next hour. “Would you like some tea”? “The next hour”? “Yes, I left open my entire morning just in case we needed the time to explain the events from that night and day”. Olivia looked almost relived and answered , “Yes, I would very much like some tea please”. As Missy waited for her kettle to boil she watched Olivia who was staring off toward the window, intensely thinking about something. Was it that night or perhaps something else? When Missy returned to give Olivia her tea, she appeared a little startled. “Sorry”., she said as she grabbed the cup and saucer. “Nothing to be sorry about. If I may ask, what were you thinking about”? “About a dream that I had a week ago”. “About your daughter? “Do you have many dreams about her”? “I was having them almost every night until about a week ago”. “What changed”? “I’m not really sure”.
Dr. Springer asked, “Would you like to continue”. Olivia took a long sip before setting her cup down on the saucer next to the couch. “The man at the door could only say that my late husband didn’t feel anything but he wasn’t as confident that Laurie wasn’t still conscious when the car hit the water. “I hate not knowing that she didn’t suffer as the water submerged his vehicle and soon thereafter the inside of the car as well. Before they could reach her…. they found her limp body still tightly wrapped inside of her blanket! Perhaps that is a sign that she was….”, reaching for another tissue and then her cup, she took a few moments to compose herself. “I’m sorry to interrupt but I forgot to ask if you take anything with your tea”? “If you have some honey, that would be great”, Olivia said in a soft tone. “Of course”. Missy went to get the jar and returned to give it to Olivia who thanked her. Before she poured some of it into her cup she said that her daughter would always ask for a little taste of honey in many of her favorite foods. “She would even pour it over her spaghetti”., she laughed a little.
“Perhaps this would be a nice place to stop for this session”? Olivia nodded with approval, thankful that her sorrow had subsided even for just a moment. She looked at her barely touched cup of tea when Missy said, “You don’t have to leave now. You can sit her for as long as you like and finish your drink”. Olivia smiled and went back to sipping. “What do you do during the day? Are you working right now”?, Missy inquired. “No, I haven’t had to work since Laurie was born but I should probably find something to do even if it is volunteering for some cause”. “Do you have any family or friends that you spend any time with”? “I was an only child and my only remaining relative, my mother passed away a little over a year ago”. “I’m sorry to hear that. Was she sick”? “No, just old. She had me when she was in her mid fourties. She lived to be eighty-three”. “And your father”? “We haven’t talked too much since her passing. They both lived twelve-hundred miles away. He’s pretty fragile himself and couldn’t make it to Laurie’s memorial”. “How about Laurie, did she have a lot of friends”? “Oh God yes, she was very popular with the kids at school. They let her class have the day off so that they could attend the service”. Grabbing another tissue she took another long sip. It was amazing to see so many families there and to show such kindness was a bit overwhelming for me”. Olivia took one more long sip and placed the cup back on the saucer before standing up, announcing that she had taken up enough of Missy’s time and should set out to run some errands before the afternoon snow began.
A couple of days later on a Saturday, Olivia laid in bed wide awake at her usual time wondering why her dreams had suddenly stopped. “Where did you go off to honey”?, was all that she could say. It was getting harder and harder to get up each morning. Falling back to sleep, she was awaken by another noise coming from outside of her closed window. “That damn cat”! She went toward the window where a very bright glare was shimmering through, blinding her at first. When she reached it, she couldn’t believe her eyes. There was no sign of any land, only water far beyond the horizon. She seemed very happy because she knew that she was dreaming again and that she would soon be reunited with her daughter. She was afraid to leave the window for fear that she may awaken so she stood there waiting for a sign. Looking into the distance she could begin to see an object forming and with it came an unfamiliar noise. It was getting closer or was she herself approaching the object. Feeling slightly queasy she felt her house moving as if it were floating on the waters surface.
She gasped when she realized it was a waterfall just like the one described by Laurie in a previous dream. She was excited with the anticipation that she may soon be able to be with her. The closer she got the more transparent it had become. Soon she could seem images through the falling water. They weren’t as big as Laurie had described and it appeared to be other people from her distant view with no signs of any animals. “What was this place and how could I get to the other side”., she had thought to herself. Suddenly it felt like she was moving away from the waterfall as the images became harder to see. “No, please don’t leave”!, she screamed. “I have to see my daughter”! There was no longer any sign of activity beyond the waterfall and the noise had begun to silence itself.
Olivia was not going to let this moment pass without making an effort to find Laurie. She opened the window and looked at the water which could have been more than two stories below her. She climbed on top the edge and closed her eyes, jumping into the air. Before she landed into the water she had awaken from her dream. She was devastated to be back in her bed under her covers. “Why! Why did you bring me back”!, yelling for anyone to hear if they had been outside but not on this cold wintery day. She finally found it to be more depressing to stay in bed so she got herself up and went downstairs to make herself a pot of coffee. What made this day even more unbearable was that this weekend would have been Laurie’s eleventh birthday and Olivia didn’t know what to do with herself. It was just too painful to bear. Could she muster the strength to go out and buy items that would make it feel as if a party was going to take place tomorrow? She knew that her depression was harmful but wasn’t really sure if sticking her head in the sand was a much better option. She knew that something had to be done but needed some help so she got her cell phone and began searching for Dr. Stringer’s number. She reached her service who took a message that she was struggling because it was her daughter’s birthday and needed some guidance.
The phone rang about a half an hour later and Missy was on the other end. “Hello Olivia”. After a long pause, she asked, “Are you there”? “Yes Missy, I am here but I don’t know what to say”. “I understand that it’s your daughter’s birthday”. “Yes”., she said between tears. “It’s understandable that you would be having a hard time with your emotions. Would you like to come into my office”? Olivia thought about it for a moment and was about to reply yes, when she stopped herself only to ask, “Do you believe that dreams are a window to the future”? “I’m not really sure. It usually has more to do with our past and not the future at least that has been my experience with my own dreams”. “Do you believe in Heaven”? “Personally, I do not and it isn’t because I feel entitled because I have a doctorate and that I am supposed to be too smart for such thought, no it is only because I was not raised with a religious background that defined my beliefs”. “So your parents were the elitist? I’m sorry that was not fair”. “It is quite alright if you want to lash out because of your own lack of faith. I really do understand”. Have you ever lost a child”? No, but I can still empathize with you. I have had many patients who have lost a member of their family or perhaps a friend that meant a great deal to them. Believe me, you are not alone. In fact I do have a support group that you may be interested in when the time is right”. Olivia didn’t initially respond.
“I’m sorry to have bothered you on your day off”! “It’s no bother. That’s what I am here for. You can always call me whenever you’re in distress. Are you still with me”? “Yes I’m here”. “Perhaps I should come and see you”? “I’m alright Missy. Please go on with your plans. I’ll be fine”. Dr. Springer paused for a few seconds. “What are you going to do today”? Me? “I believe that I will begin with a bath”. “Are you absolutely sure we can’t get together today”? “Yes I’m sure”! “Alright but you can call on me anytime”. “I understand Missy. Thank you.”, and with that she hung up the phone and headed up stairs to the bedroom.
Leaving the door open to the bathroom she started filling her tub as she removed her jewelry, makeup then her clothes. She entered the tub, lowering into the bath steeped in a flowery fragrance from the bath salts. She laid back, closing her eyes and just relaxed, feeling a sense of calm. A hand reached into the tub and wrapped itself around her arm causing her to jump nearly out of the tub. She let out a short scream before realizing that she must have dosed off for a few moments and the sensation she felt must have been in her head. Catching her breath and regaining her composure she reached for the faucet and turned on the hot water to increase the water temperature. The tub quickly was filling up so she opened the drain to give the water more room. As the water slowly started to go down she looked up at the shower head and started to think about the waterfall. She pulled the lever at the drain to release the water from that shower head. Closing her eyes she could feel the water falling on her head like rain as she turned around on to her back. Softly lowering herself down into the water, soon her head began to touch the surface. Eyes still closed she felt the back of her head getting wetter, then it was her ears soon the noise became muffled as they submerged below the surface.
She laid still, the water from above showering her midsection like soft, delicate drops tickling her tummy. She was surprisingly and momentarily at peace. It didn’t last! Submerging her head completely under the water, eyes wide open and holding her breath. She could feel the drops penetrating the waters surface and figuratively bouncing off of her eye balls, the view got lighter but not clearer. Her head too was getting foggier and lightheaded. Closing her eyes, she could see Beyond the Waterfall now and she thought that it might have been the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. It was so lush, the colors so vivid like a painting with sound. She had been underwater for nearly three minutes, yet she felt like she could smell the magnificent view. Slowly the water began to uncover her forehead, then her eyes before uncovering her nose and mouth. She took her first breath and the vision just disappeared into the very thin air.
While she was blowing her hair dry, the phone rang, it was the therapist. Olivia could not hear it nor the message, which had grown to three messages already left by Ms. Springer. Beeep, “Olivia if you can hear me, please pickup”! A sense of desperation was showing in her voice. Not the usual tone from a therapist but more like that from someone who cared a bit more than that. The sound of her hanging up the phone for the final time ended the call. Unaware, Olivia continued with her routine of getting ready to go nowhere, like she had done so many times before.
As Olivia put the finishing touches on herself she heard the doorbell ring. She looked out of her bedroom window down toward the front porch and saw Missy there. She opened up the window. “What brings you here Missy”? Looking up, Missy looked surprised to see Olivia looking so comfortable. “Why haven’t you answered any of my calls”? “What, when did you call”? “I’ve left you three messages”! I’m sorry, I didn’t hear them. I was in the bath, uh shower”. “For over twenty minutes”? “I guess! What’s the matter with you”? “Could you come down here and let me in Olivia”?
Opening the door, Missy walked in without a word from either. She walked into the living room looking around for some sort of signs of the life in which Olivia had described during their few sessions. It didn’t look like a house that recently had occupied a husband and a daughter. It appeared to be more like that of an old maid, which Olivia clearly was not. “Why are you here, Missy”? “I didn’t like the way you sounded on the phone earlier this morning so I wanted to see if there was anything that I could”. “I’m fine”. Missy was looking at a picture of a man holding a young girl approximately Laurie’s age. “Is that your husband and daughter there”?, Missy had asked. Looking very closely as if for the very first time, Olivia answered, “Yes. Of course it is”! The photograph itself looked too old to have been taken recently leaving the Doctor a little perplexed as to why Olivia may be lying. Walking around the room, Olivia became a little nervous as well as agitated. “Dr. Springer, would you like to sit down? Perhaps you would enjoy the couch for a change”?
“How ‘bout some wine”? Doctor Springer looked at her watch. “It’s still a bit early, isn’t it”? Olivia left the room to grab a couple of glasses and an opened bottle of Red wine. “I believe you’re right Missy. This bottle was telling me that it didn’t want to be consumed yet.” Pouring the glass half full and handing it to the Doctor, she poured the same amount into the other glass and raised it for what appeared to be a toast. “What are we toasting”? “Growing old”. Missy looked at Olivia who had started to raise her glass up to her mouth when she mumbled something under her breath before taking her first, then second sips. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear what you said Olivia”? She walked toward the window and sat down right in front of the light that was beaming through the window. Dr. Springer’s eyes needed to adjust to her view. Olivia took another long sip, nearly finishing her glass. “Don’t you like wine, Missy”? Hesitating for a brief moment, “Uh, I do but this doesn’t seem like the right thing for me to do right now”. Feeling a bit uncomfortable she placed her glass on the coffee table.
Clearing her throat she repositioned herself, legs up to her side and leaning on the armrest, she finally spoke after several seconds went by. “I came here because I felt concerned about you during our phone conversation this morning”. “Why? Did I sound deeply depressed? Was I incoherent in any way? What precisely concerned you so much”? “You sound agitated Olivia”? “It must be the wine”. “Perhaps we can just talk Olivia. Not like a Doctor, patient but person to person, friend to friend”. “Friend to friend? You don’t even know me”! “You’re right, I don’t”. “What would you like to know”? “Let’s start with how are you really doing”? “Are we still speaking like friends”? “Yes”. “Well then I am doing shitty”! “Really”? “You really don’t know a thing about me other than what your professional opinion might be”! “Look Olivia, I know that this is a hard day for you and perhaps I haven’t articulated how much I’d like to help but if you can’t trust me then I can’t help. What can I do to help”? “You can start by drinking”.
A couple of glasses later there was much laughter between the girls. “Thank you Missy”. “For what”? “For listening to me like a regular person and not as my therapist”. “I admit, the wine did help”. “So what have we learned so far in your personal opinion Missy”? Missy became oddly hesitant with her answer. “You’re not getting serious on me again are you”? “Do you want me to answer the question honestly, Olivia”? She gave no response to the question. “So far I have learned about the chronology of your most recent ten years. Your marriage to your ex-husband, the birth of Laurie and you’ve already shared that night that you lost both of them in a car accident. “Where did that happen”? “I already told you that”. “No, actually you didn’t”. “What does the location have to do with my state of mine”? Missy stood up and wealked over to the fireplace and picked up the picture that she had noticed when she first walked into the room. “Who are these two”? “Again, I’ve already told you”! Missy began to detach the frame from the picture. “What do you think that you are doing Missy”! Removing the picture, she turned it over and found what she had been expecting.
“The date on this picture says 1987”. Olivia was at a loss for words. “You would’ve been about ten years old then, isn’t that right Olivia? That was cute dress. I remember having one similar to that when I was young. Is that your daddy with you”? “Do you gamble Olivia”? “What? I’ve thrown a few bucks into a slot machine and the craps table”. “Ever done any sports betting”? “No, I don’t know enough about sports”. “Well it can be quite simple if you watch for the right signs. There are two ways that you can go. You can bet when the line moves with the public, who generally don’t really know what they’re doing or you can bet with the “Sharps”. “The Sharps”? “They are known as the “Smart Bettors”. “Why didn’t you just say that”? “Pay attention. You don’t usually want to bet against the “Sharps” “What happens when the line doesn’t move”? “Now you’re paying attention. That’s when you stay away”. “Stay away”? “That’s right because the public and smart money players don’t really think that anything will change. The house made the right decision”. “I suspect you have some sort of point”? “I do. You asked me why I came here today”? “Yes. So”? “Well”, she finished her second glass of wine “I wanted to check some things out before I could begin to help you.
So I came here to see how you are managing by yourself. “I’m managing fine. What kind of things”? First off, I was hoping to see Laurie’s room”. “What, Why, I mean I, she… I changed it… to a study”. “A study? When”? “Would you still like to see it”? “Maybe later. Tell me a little bit about your late husband”? “What do you want to know”? When did you marry him”? “When he was twenty-one”. “Which was when”? “A few years back”. Missy was getting a bit frustrated with Olivia. I’m having a real hard time Olivia getting you to open up”! “You sound upset”. “I’m a little irritated”. I’m sorry”. “Have you had any more dreams”? “Yes I had one just last night”. “What was it about”? “I was traveling toward the waterfall that Laurie had described to me during one of her dreams. It was so beautiful and there was water as far as the eye could see”. “Do you see Laurie”? Olivia became very quiet and somber, shaking her head. “I never got beyond the waterfall. I woke up before I had the chance to see it”. How did it feel”? “Like I had been there before. It was almost magical”. “How do you mean”? “It felt like all my answers were waiting to be answered on the other side”. “What kind of answers”? “Where my little girl had gone. It felt safe from all the bad she had experienced”.
The doctor came to her feet. “I think the wine has gotten to me, can I please use your bathroom”? “Sure, it’s down the hall and to your right”. “Thank you”. Strolling toward the door, Olivia said, “I’ll make a veggie tray. You could probably use some food in your stomach right about now”? Missy turned and replied, “That would be nice”. Missy returning back toward the living room could hear Olivia cutting the veggies, when she stopped. Looking at the hallway walls, she saw several pictures. They all looked like her with her parents. There was a couple of her with her mother only, one taken during her graduation. There were many of her father and her but none after what appeared to be age ten. She saw no wedding pictures nor any signs of Laurie.
Olivia had wandered back from the kitchen holding a tray of cheese, veggies and crackers. “Is everything alright”?, she asked. Missy was a little startled. “Yes, everything was just fine”. The ladies sat in silence eating the food and drinking a couple bottles of water that Olivia had brought with her. Olivia put down her plate. “So Doctor, has the line moved enough for you to gamble on letting me know how you can help me”? “it’s definitely moving but I still don’t have a clear enough picture to place a smart enough bet on my opinion just yet. Tell me, when did your father die”? Olivia looked shook up for a brief moment. “He died when I was a little girl”. “How old were you”? “It was just before my eleventh birthday”. “And how did he die? Was it a car crash”? Olivia looked down toward her feet and placed her head into both hands. A few seconds later she raised her teary eyes and nodded yes. “What was your father’s name”? “Samuel”, she said with a smile “I used to call him Sam Sam when I was very young. His was the first name that I had ever spoke, even before dad or mom”. Missy leaned forward on the couch and reached out to comfort Olivia.
“It must have been hard, growing up without a father”. Nodding her head Olivia began to cry. “It was just as hard living without a mother as well. She seemed to have died when he did”! “You had to grow up real fast I suspect”. “She would be gone all of the time, either at work or out with a string of men”. “Is that why you never married”? Olivia leaned back in her chair and nervously picked up her bottle of water. Shaking as she took a small sip. “I’m sorry that I wasted you time with my story”. “That’s what I’m here for. Tell me more about your dreams. They were actually your dreams, right”? “They were. The animals in your first dream, did they have names”? “Yes, there was Georgia, the gorilla”. Suddenly Missy stopped Olivia. “What significance is her name”? “That was the name of my dad’s mother. Then there was Carmen the cat, her name was that of my mother’s mom”. “And then there was your snake, the one who had brought you to that place”. “His name was Sam”. “After your father”? “Yep. You seem to be on a roll, what else can you tell me”? “Why do you suppose everything was so gigantic”? “I don’t know”. “Perhaps because you’ve been trying to handle some big problems for most of your life and things may seem a bit overwhelming. You also created some big creatures to protect you in your dream”.
“Why could I not get beyond the waterfall in my last dream”? “Well it could be that you are beginning to transition from a place that makes you feel comfortable to your current reality”. Hesitating for a moment, Missy started to walk her comment back. “Olivia, where did you come up with the name Laurie”? “That was my mother’s name. Perhaps I used that name because I felt as though I was the adult and she was the one who needed taking care of”? “Look who’s so smart now”. It’s the wine talking. Would you like some coffee”? “Please”. “Cream and or sugar”? “Cream yes, sugar no. Thank you”.
The girls moved back into the kitchen to have their coffee. “So where do we go from here”?, asked Olivia. Missy felt compelled to ask her one more question but didn’t really know if Olivia was ready. “Missy”? “Why did you tell me that your father was still alive”? Olivia put her cup on the counter and stared away from the Doctor. “Olivia? Why did you lie about your father”? “I didn’t lie”! “Yes you did”! “Yes I did”. “He IS still alive”! “You just said that you lied”! “I did”. “About what”! “Why are you so worked up”? I’m worked up because everything that you say is a lie and this has got to stop if I am really going to help you”! “Alright, I’ll stop”! “Don’t stop just for me. Stop for yourself”. “I will”. So. Why did you tell me that your father was still alive”? “Because I lied before”. “I don’t understand”. “My father is still alive”.
Missy was stunned to hear this news. “Are you still lying”? “Perhaps for the first time, I‘m not”. “How am I supposed to believe that? You have changed your story a little bit so that even a smart bettor would have a hard time establishing any line for you”. “As far as I am concerned my father is dead to me”! Olivia screamed. “He stole my childhood from me. He can go straight to hell”! “What happened to you Olivia”? “I loved him so much! I had such a crush on him. I even thought that someday he and I could get married”. “What did he do to you”? “I was ten years old. I wasn’t prepared to grow up so fast”. Olivia began to cry, quietly at first then longer and harder. “Olivia! What did your father do? Did he hurt you”?! “He left us”. She said quietly. “He..? “He left me and my mom. He left us alone to fend for ourselves”. Her cries grew stronger. “I’m so sorry honey”. That calmed Olivia down. “My mother used to say that to me all the time. “I’ve spent many of years blaming her for my father leaving us. She tried her hardest to keep a roof over our head and all I could do was punish her for staying. I believed that the snake in my dream was my father taking me away to a better place but I now think that he was the cowardly lion hiding in the forest or perhaps he was just running away”. “I’m so sorry, Olivia”. “I never told my mom how much I appreciated what she did for me. I mean she made mistakes but at least she didn’t leave me. I wish I could tell her how much I miss her”. “You asked me if I believe in heaven and I told you why I don’t but what I didn’t say was that I respect you if you do. If you believe than you can still tell her how you feel”. “I’ve tried..but I just didn’t know what to say”. “Speak from the heart”. “My heart is broken and I’m not sure if it can be fixed”. “You can start by trying to mend your feelings with Laurie or better yet, the little girl in your dreams. That little girl was you Olivia and she isn’t really lost because she is right here and she is still alive and can make peace with whoever she wants”.
It was getting very late and Olivia was getting drowsy. “I’ll bet you never could’ve imagined that you would have spent the day here with me on a beautiful Saturday”? This made Missy laugh. “I am happy to have bet on you”. A slow smile came across Olivia’s face. “I should go”., Missy just blurted out. “Alright”. Olivia said a little dejected. Missy grabbing her coat began to walk toward the front door. “Thank you Missy. For everything today”. “I was happy to help. See you later this week”? “Yes of course”. Opening the door she turned to say goodbye. “Good bye Dr. Springer”. “Sweet dreams Olivia”. Shutting the door, Olivia headed up stairs to her room leaving the dishes out to be cleaned in the morning.
Literally wiped out from an exhaustive day, she quickly fell asleep. Deep asleep she began to have visions of the little girl she created in her dreams. Olivia began to cry. “What’s wrong”?, asked Laurie. “Mommy, what’s wrong”? She continued to cry. “Mommy, what have I done wrong”? “Nothing. You’ve done nothing wrong! It’s me”. “I don’t understand, mom”. “Could you stop calling me mom”. Laurie was taken back. “Why”? “It confuses me..you calling me mom”. Laurie didn’t know what to say. “I’m sorry maa…”, stopping herself before she finished the sentence. “Please don’t be sorry child. It’s me who should be sorry. I treated you badly for staying and now I’ve been mad at you for leaving. I want to just say I’m so sorry”. Laurie took Olivia’s hand and quietly said, “Close your eyes”. Without a word she did just that. Laurie looked at Olivia and said “You have nothing to be sorry for honey. We let you down. I wish we could change the past but perhaps we can fix the present. It’s not your fault. It was never your fault. You’re father and I fell out of love and while he decided to leave us, I never regretted for a single day being with you”.
A loud crack of thunder shook Olivia, suddenly opening her eyes to see Laurie in tears and as they fell from her face just like raindrops, Olivia could feel a light rain falling all around her. Laurie reached out, putting her arms around Olivia and then hugging her tightly. Olivia hugged Laurie just as tightly, feeling the rain begin to intensify. Loosening their grip, together they release each other. Laurie reaching up touching her daughters’ chin. “Honey, if you don’t first forgive yourself then you won’t be able to forgive others”. I’m willing to forgive others”. “Really”?, Laurie had said as Olivia noticed in the background an image beginning to form. She took a long look and knew that it was the cowardly lion making an appearance. Olivia had the look of disdain on her face. Looking down on her mother she could tell by the look on her face that she disapproved. “I have forgiven him honey”.
The rain was beginning to come down in sheets, making it a bit hard to see Laurie. Soon she was beginning to disappear. “Don’t go”!, Olivia yelled. “We’re not going anywhere”, Laurie answered even as she began to back away. Suddenly it looked like the sheet of water was coming between the two of them. Olivia noticed that the sheet of water was the waterfall and as she looked down she realized that she was on top of Sam Sam. The waterfall began to clear as if she was once again peering through a looking glass. There were two other figures forming behind Laurie, who had now become full grown, looking more like her mother when she was a young woman. Behind her was her maternal and paternal grandmothers and well behind them all was her father. He looked just the same as she remembered when she was ten years old, which is precisely who she saw as the looking glass was becoming a mirror. All three ladies began waving through the glass as they disappeared completely from view leaving a young looking Olivia standing there alone. Soon she realized that all of the water had evaporated and standing behind her was Missy. “I think you are ready”., Missy said. “Ready for what”? “You’ll know”.
Early the next morning while sipping on some coffee, having already cleaned up the kitchen and living room, Olivia sat staring at an old piece of paper. Looking at it for a couple of minutes, she reached for the phone and started to dial very slowly. It rang once, twice then three times. Her stomach began to get a little queasy. Someone on the other end of the phone picked up and answered “Hello”. Olivia couldn’t respond. “Hello”. The voice bellowed out. Suddenly the voice asked, “Is that you Olivia”? Not realizing that he might have Caller ID she let out a gasp. “I sure hope that is you darling”….”Hello, yes it’s me …. Dad”.

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Little Red Angel

This story is dedicated to a very special friend named George, who likes me just the way I write. “Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near…..?, but I digress.

I could feel her presence in my room floating above my bed. Just as I imagined she would look like if they really existed except for one small difference. She glowed in the shade of red and it made my room look like a certain district in Amsterdam. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I stared at her waiting for another sign of what was to come. Paralyzed with a comfortable fear, I cleared my throat as if I might actually say something but there were no words that I could describe as she remained silent.

I looked away for a few seconds toward my open window and to the fire escape hoping to build up my courage for a quick exit. Suddenly the red glow had dissipated and I realized that she was gone. The alarm clock said 3:30 a.m. My body released itself from it’s coma and I jumped out of bed heading for the window when I stopped myself from leaving my third story, one bedroom apartment. “What the He…”, I stopped myself from completing that sentence.

It didn’t take much convincing for me to realize that it was all just a dream, a very real and thrilling dream. This was not something that I wanted to share with anyone. Who would believe me and why the color Red? I eventually cleared it from my memory and that is the way it stayed for several months, that is until I was woken from a deep sleep on an extremely cold and windy winter night. There was a light tapping noise on my bedroom window, which was covered with an angelic crystal design. The red glow was back, making the frosted window look almost like it was stained glass.

I didn’t want to look outside but this time instead of finding myself in an unmovable position, I found myself unable to stop myself from moving toward the window. As I drew closer the glow began to fade until I reached the window and realized that the color was coming from the tail lights from a car that had just dropped off one of my neighbors perhaps after celebrating this holiday eve. The snow was brilliant in the moonlight, giving the glare off the street and trees a look more accustomed to mid-day rather than the middle of the night.

This brought back my memory of that strange night during the summer. I turned to look toward the clock and it said 3:28 a.m. Well I was awake so I might as well get some much needed writing done. I grabbed some paper and went to my closet to get the typewriter when I reached for the knob and felt a warmth coming through the door like there was a fireplace burning from inside of my closet. I pulled the door open and staring me right in the face was my Little Red Angel. “Holy Sh…!” again I managed to stop myself before I completed that sentence but I was not able to keep me from falling on my backside onto the hardwood floor.

I hit my left elbow causing a stinging sensation that also produced a need to laugh out loud. Suddenly my entire body felt like I had hit a funny bone that shook like a tuning fork. I was somewhere between laughing and crying but I clearly was getting more emotional this time. She looked at me with regret, finally showing a sign that she had a human like expression that I had not seen before. She began to exit the closet and I used my arms and my behind like a crutch to crawl backwards until I ran hard into the opposite wall. There went that tuning fork again.

She stopped in the middle of the room and rose up toward the ceiling hovering above like beautiful cloud during an amazing sunset. Her glow had brightened as she elevated. I felt the same warmth that had resonated through the door. I was feeling a bit of a buzz as if I had just taken a shot of schnapps’ mixed with hot chocolate and marshmallows. Her expression had changed to a softer tone. Perhaps I was drunk because I found the courage to open my mouth to ask “Are you for real”? She stared at me for a long time before nodding her head. I still could not believe my eyes, trying to convince myself that I was dreaming again or at the very least in a drunken stupor. No such luck.

I tried to make some small talk but she acted as though she might be too shy to respond or perhaps she was unable to speak out loud. What ever the case I found myself mesmerized by her presence. As time went by, I began to get very drowsy almost falling into a sound slumber but I would catch myself just before and with each catch she appeared to be almost fading away until the last time when I opened my eyes to find her gone from my room. I looked across the floor where I found my typewriter inside the closet shining from the moonlight dripping through the only clear spot on the window.

Several more weeks had passed. It was suddenly Spring and the flowers were blooming thanks to the much needed rain that we had been experiencing for approximately the last week until today when the sun and the birds made an enjoyable appearance. Since my last encounter with my Little Red Angel I had been writing with more passion and no need to stop because the words just kept pouring from my head onto the pages. It sounded like a love story but it was really more about the yearning and need for a companion without expectations. There was no sex, only a constant stream of communication that felt more fulfilling than any relationship that only revolved around the physical.

I had never encountered such a long stretch of writing without experiencing some kind of writer’s block and for it to be strictly dialogue was very foreign to my usual standards. I found myself eating less but drinking more, especially a bottle of wine sipped very slowly throughout the day. I had experienced many more dreams than usual that were vivid and at the same time I was able to remember most of their content. It varied through many different topics but having a familiar thread that made me remember my two encounters with her.

Did she have a name, I would randomly think to myself. Was she ever of this Earth or has she always been an angel? What would her voice sound like if she ever spoke? I spent my last few minutes each night before I fell asleep wondering what I would like to ask her if I got another opportunity. I didn’t know on this night that my chance would be closer than I thought. I woke up having to find relief. It was very dark outside tonight as I stumbled toward the bathroom without turning on the light nearly tripping over my shoes which were strategically placed in the middle of the room. Finally making it to the toilet I reached for the lid and lifted it and began to go about my business. I was pleased that my first aim had hit it’s target without missing.

As I stood there still half asleep I began to feel a warmth that I usually felt from the inside while I would go about my business but this was happening from the outside much like a sunlamp being placed behind my neck. Opening my eyes I could see the reflection of light coming into the bathroom and bouncing off the mirror onto my backside. Was she back?, I said with a fair amount of excitement forgetting to flush the toilet as I pulled up my trousers and sprinted into my main room. I cannot explain the excitement inside my heart and she may have noticed because for the very first time I saw a slight smile coming from her. Does she even have teeth? I didn’t really care but I was not feeling any fear this time. “Did you miss me”? The words just sprang from my mouth. She smiled again and nodded. “Wow”! I said aloud.

“What brings you back here”? She wouldn’t or couldn’t answer my query. “That’s alright we can just stay here and I will tell you about myself if that is alright with you”?, she nodded again. I went on for over forty-five minutes without taking a break and perhaps without even a breath. I felt full of life and she seemed to be enjoying my energy. It was like inhaling a big gulp of oxygen and never needing to ever exhale. When I did pause for a moment she seemed slightly disappointed. It was probably my imagination. I didn’t want this feeling to ever stop. Her glow would go from strong to light as she moved toward and away from the ceiling.

I stopped talking and got up from the chair next to my dining room table. Her glow darkened as she began to rise again. “I don’t want to scare you”. She stayed up as high as she could go. She seemed to lose her glow. “I wish you could talk to me”. She nodded. “Can you speak”? She didn’t show any response. “How can we communicate”? Still no response. “I would love to hear all about you. Please”! Her glow was nearly non-existent as though she was transparent much like the way I thought all angels would look like if they really existed. “Please, what can I do”?

I made my first move toward her but she backed herself up toward the window until the room filled up with a smoke-like vapor as if someone had turned on a Dry-Ice machine. She began to fade away, her glow returning I believe so I could see her through the mist. As she disappeared I thought I heard her say, “Emerald”. “What”? The mist grew thicker until she was barely visible. I crept forward toward the window and reached out trying to feel for my chair when suddenly something grazed my hand and I nearly jumped through the roof. Was that her? I had one last good look at her before she left and finally said “Goodbye”, and with that she was gone again.

The next few days turned into weeks which in turn became months and before I knew it had gone through a couple of seasons. It’s now Fall and I stopped writing, eating, drinking and even bathing. I was deeply depressed and had no idea how to snap out of it. I really missed her. I was taking these little green pills which made me quite numb, which was alright since it kept me from feeling anything else. It was an extremely gloomy day followed by a very foggy night. I didn’t even mention that it was also foggy outside as well. I fell asleep reading “A Christmas Carol”.

I was awakened by the sound of bells. They were church bells in the distance. I could barely keep my eyes open as I peered toward the alarm clock as it changed over to 3:28 bringing a slight feel good sensation to my heart as I wondered why those bells would be ringing at this time. As the bells chimed for the last time, carrying the tune into the thick air that lasted for seconds, the Harvest Moon was shining into my room creating a long shadow across the opposite wall that seemed to be changing shapes. I first saw the shape of my plant sitting on the window sill and then it became my chair before it looked more like an unlit pine tree. Sitting on top of that tree was the image of an angel as if it were a Christmas tree.

This immediately rose me up and out of my bed as I looked toward the window to see what could’ve created such a shadow. There was nothing to suggest any angel was present let alone my Little Red Angel and I don’t even have a pine tree. I sat there for several minutes thinking that perhaps she may appear but when she never did I laid back down to try to get some sleep but I found that I couldn’t so I got back up to take some more of my medicine. I took some of those green pills and went back and sat at my chair and stared out the window. The moon was starting to lower itself over the horizon causing a similar effect as the sun at sunset. It had an eerie glow through the fog. It looked like a blue haze followed by green before turning to gold and finally red until, there she was

I could see from a distance through the fog a silhouette figurine floating like a cloud in the moonlight. As it approached the aura kept changing through all the colors of a rainbow and as it drew nearer the change became more frequent until it looked more like a peacock shining from above and then stopped. The brightness was so stark that I thought that everyone would be awaken from its outer glow. The colors were changing much like a space ship from a movie would have appeared on the screen. In fact I felt like I was at a Drive-in Theatre and the film was about to start then without even the slightest warning it was all disappeared into the thick air.

I felt my heart stop and I was struggling for every breath. Reaching for the window sill, I grabbed the corner of my bed instead but could not raise myself upright so instead I fell onto the mattress as I grabbed my chest hoping to find a little relief from the suffocation that I thought I was experiencing. What is happening to me, I thought. Am I having a heart attack? I started to get clammy and perspiration was forming on my forehead and the dew became drops that began to slide down toward my nose, finally reaching my mouth. It tasted like salt water from the ocean and it burned like tobacco in my lungs. Slowly I felt real air begin to fill my lungs in place of the smoky sensation as if I was experiencing my own cremation. I felt incredibly drowsy as I went in and out of consciousness.

My last memory before slipping into a coma was a vision of my Little Red Angel. I wanted to open my eyes but they were tightly shut. It was as dark as I could have ever imagined and I laid there in a state of near perfect silence. It seemed like hours when a sound every so faint began ringing in my ears starting to grow louder like a train in the distance quickly approaching. The wave of noise brought with it a vision of mesmerizing stars which formed little pictures or constellations that began to spin until they formed my Little Red Angel shining brightly. Was she real this time or something from my subconscious?

I awoke from my deep slumber to find her standing right in front of my front door. She had feet that I had never noticed before. Her aura was a very light shade of red, more of a pinkish color this time. Extending her arms in my direction I rose without any hesitation and began to walk toward her. Grabbing my hands she moved us in the direction of my desk where my typewriter had been sitting untouched for several weeks. Looking down to the page that was still in the cylinder, it read “Close to you”.

Her aura began to grow a brighter shade of red, then orange, yellow, blue and finally stopping at green. “Emerald”? I asked. She nodded. “Is it time”? “Yes”, she said. My door began to fade away as we walked through the corridor and down the hall. “Are you coming with me”?, I asked. Emerald nodded one last time before we heard the voices of angels singing. “Ahhhhhhhhh, Close to You”!

The Rebound

In basketball, the object to the game is to outscore your opponent, simple math.  Another important part of the game is what is known as “Rebounding”.  The art of the rebound is to try and gain control of the basketball after an attempt at scoring is missed causing both sides to set their sights on regaining possession.  “Possession”.  In relationship speak possession can also be something worth fighting for.  Another part to a relationship is the term, “The Rebound”.  A rebound is generally someone who follows an important relationship, some very loving and others not so much.  Could be a lengthy courtship or a marriage/divorce or the hardest of them all someone who recently experienced a loss of a partner.  The idea of being in a rebound relationship doesn’t appeal to a lot of people but that isn’t true for me.

Most relationships fail but the percentage is even greater if one of the two have just come out of a long term commitment. If both parties just got out of one then there is virtually no life expectancy for that kind of romance.  Either you can never fill the shoes of the previous partner or you’re too much like the son of a bitch!  You can’t live up to or you can never be trusted.  Whatever the reason, it is difficult to be the rebounder or reboundee.  For me though, I actually like being the go to guy in a rebound relationship.  I feel that it is my moral duty to play the middle man between the more important partnerships.  I make sure that the bar is set back up for the next lucky individual.

There are some perks to being a good rebounder, for one thing I can fit in many good partners in a short period of time.  You might call these one night stands but I would refer to them as a series of parting gifts.  “What do you have for tonight’s contestant, Rodney”?  “An all expense good time with a man who requires no long term care in the world, Bill”.  Secondly, you can occasionally juggle multiple companions at a time because she/he may not want to jump into a serious relationship right away giving you much more time to pursue other opportunities.  One such person told me that she did not want to fall into the same trap too soon! 

There are two kinds of rebounds, an offensive or a defensive one.  The offensive one means that you are the person who is trying to recover from a terminated relationship. The defensive one means that you are the next lily pad on the pond and she’ll only be landing on you long enough to jump on, then off to the next pad.  There is also what is referred to a team rebound and that is where one gets involved with multiple partners perhaps even the same sex with no expectation from any of the players involved. 

There are also some obvious pitfalls to being a rebounder.  There are constant comparisons to the previous partner and soon enough there past crimes become yours.  There is the occasional mix-up of names.  This only becomes a problem if she screams it in her sleep or during an intimate encounter, Yikes!  Their constant crying can be a drag.  Unless you are in sales and can handle rejection than this lifestyle may not be for everyone.  God forbid you ever fall for one of these people because you can go from an offensive rebounder to a defensive one in a matter of weeks.

Should this ever happen to you then you must hit the board with the fire/passion of a man possessed so that you can make enough rebounds during the same possession to gain control of your emotions so that you can grab the moment and bring it home for a possible victory. 

I wish everyone an opportunity to feel the joy of at least one successful relationship and you have my word that I will be there to clean up the tears should you miss your shot at a lifetime of happiness.  After all, not only am I a good rebounder but I’d like to think that I can assist with your future relationship needs as well.

Sincerely,     The Oscar Robinson of short-term companionships.      

“The Incredible Adventures of Tyler, Neil and Ted”


Not all of my stories come from any known inspiration but this one has my nephews to thank.  I love their need for adventure especially Wyatt, the middle child in life and in fiction.  To all of my nephews, I hope that you may enjoy this little adventure.

Sincerely,   Uncle Greg

 

This is a short story about three brothers.  Recently displaced from their world from which had become their whole part of their lifetimes to the same neighborhood and now having moved into a tiny town where the entire population was possibly the size of all their schools combined.  There was Tyler, the oldest who moved to a new location just as he was entering High School.  He was a bit of shy and slightly clumsy young man struggling to accept his sudden growth spurt that overtook his body during the summer recess and literally making him feel uncomfortable in his own skin.  His size foremost but also his height and with some other added features, such as hair in places that only accelerated his awkwardness to a physique that came with a few more stares from those in the opposite sex category.  He had never had a girlfriend in his first fourteen plus years and as he approached birthday number fifteen with great anticipation as he would soon receive his drivers permit, knowing that this would give his younger brothers something really to be jealous about. 

The middle child was Neil, named after the astronaut Neil Armstrong along with an uncle who was a bit of renegade, who became the middle ones idol from the day that he had returned from his third and final stint over in Iraq.  Neil even looked a little like Mr. Armstrong, except he had very big hands and feet, so it was to be expected that like his older brother he would grow up to be a man of good size and strength.  He was already very strong for his age, which was usually handy for his passions.  He enjoyed riding his motorcycle, his first coming when he was a small lad and now that he was about to enter middle school in their new home, he was given a brand new dirt bike to help with the loss of his many friends back home.  Neil was perhaps the most sensitive but that also included being the gentlest , a young man who could be extremely kind to those around him.  He loved animals but was not afraid to hunt and fish when the time was right and he was always an explorer at heart.

The third and final child was Theodore or Ted for short.  Because he was the baby of the family and expected to start third grade at his new school, he was usually treated with a little more kindness and perhaps a little less of a heavy hand from both of his loving parents.  He was very easy on the eye and never had any problems making friends wherever he went.  He was the least bothered by his family’s move to the country than his two older siblings.  He knew that he would miss his old friends but he would have no problem making new ones at this new place.  Perhaps the most athletic both in build as well as skill, he was a natural in anything that he set out to do but his passion was and always will be, Baseball!  Ted never worried about the negative and yet he generally doesn’t get too excited about good news either.  He was never too high or too low and with his rather blond hair, which had not yet started to darken like his brothers, they would tease him by calling him Goldilocks.  The two older boys always found this to be quite funny since Ted’s hair for his entire life was as short as if he had served in the military.

As individuals they were all sweet and good kids.  They would listen to their mother when she asked for something and even help in the kitchen when need be.  When their father got home from work, they each couldn’t wait to tell him about their day but only if he appeared to want to listen on a particular night.  They usually knew when he was in a rare mood and didn’t really seem interested in their stories until he was ready.  Together however they could get into a bit of mischief.  If there were only two of the brothers, they were usually not a whole lot of trouble but when all three were put in charge of a project then that is when the adventures usually began.  They were normally invented by Neil, who while good at heart had a yearning for made up adventures and enjoyed doing things outside the box.  Even a simple chore could become something of an outrageous even.  Case in point, just taking out the garbage had turned these three brothers into detectives but it didn’t start right away.  When they first moved into the country, the first thing that they realized was that they would have to take their weekly garbage pickup down to the end of the driveway, which was no longer just a few feet from their garage such as it was back home.  Now they had to travel a football field plus another quarter with a week’s work of trash, which if any of you have ever had any children, knows that it could be quite a bit. Even with wheels on the trash cans, it was made a little more difficult by the drive being made from gravel and not cement or blacktop.

The boys while mostly good dealing with the chores did not find this one as a favorite and would usually disappear whenever it was time to take it down on most Sunday evenings.  They thought it was bad already and they knew it was only going to get worse when the winter weather arrived, perhaps in a few short weeks.  The winters there could be rather harsh out where the winds could blow as hard as any gust of wind that the boys had ever experienced.  On one particular Sunday during a relatively warm Fall Day it was time for them to take the trash down while the sun was still near the horizon yet the light had been fading much faster than it had during the summer months.   By the time their parents had rounded all three up the sun had nearly disappeared which meant that they would go down the drive in the hard to see dusk light.  This would not make any of the boys nervous however their mother did worry just a little because she had heard that certain animals start to make their way out beginning at dusk. Perhaps a few of these animals might just love the taste of fresh new city boys she thought.  The oldest wanted to just get their weekly chore over with so he grabbed one of the containers and began to walk down the drive when Neil asked him to stop.   At first Tyler didn’t respond so Neil’s request until he said that they wouldn’t have to take any of the trash down the drive.

“What are you talking about Neil”?, came a distrusting sounding Ted.  “Yea smartass, what are you talking about”? , Tyler repeated with a little more colorful flare since he began high school.  Neil just ignored his two brothers as he grabbed his can and started walking up a small hill directly west of their house.  “Where you going”!?, yelled Tyler but Neil just kept walking with his can.  Ted left his can and followed Neil up and over the hill.  “What the..”?, was Ted’s reaction to a hole the size of one of their cans and nearly four feet deep.  Is that where you’ve been most of the day”?, asked Ted.  “Yes”.  “Why”?  Without an answer, Neil took the lid off of his garbage can and before Ted could say a word began dumping the entire contents into the hole.  Standing in utter disbelief was Ted and even Tyler who finally made it to the top of the hill was at a loss for words at that very moment.  “Go get your cans guys”., was the first words uttered by Neil.  Ted ran back up the hill and he grabbed his older brother helped by the momentum of the hill to get him down without much resistance.  They both returned with their cans and a few moments later had also relieved the contents into the same hole.  “This is genius”, said Ted.  “Not so fast”!, answered Tyler rather quickly.  “What are you talking about”?  Well little brother someone will have to fill in the hole”.  Ted looked at the pile of dirt next to the hole as his two older brothers laughed and said , We’ll you see you when you’re done Ted”.

That was the kind of silly stunts that the boys would pull.  They rarely found an easier way of doing something but it sure was more fun and interesting.  Sometimes however those little stunts could come back to haunt someone.  Later that same week when their mother was walking out toward their much bigger back building where they housed a third car that would eventually be Tyler’s after his sixteenth birthday along with some other large equipment.  There were also certain knick knacks and decorations for celebratory events.  Returning toward the house with one of the boxes of knick knacks, she thought that she had heard a noise coming from the other side of the berm where the boys had been five days prior.  As she approached the top of the hill she spotted a pack of coyotes digging and going through all of the trash that the boys had so inconveniently placed in Neil’s man made hole.  The first coyote took a long look at her before returning to the garbage.  The others weren’t so quick to just let her be and soon she realized that this may not be the best situation to be in because they looked hungry and perhaps just a little desperate.  She first tried sneaking away as the pack closely followed her with their glaring eyes.  When she thought she could make a run for it, the pack sensing her panic began slowly at first but then with the speed that you would expect a pack of coyotes to have started heading straight for her.  She had already figured out that she couldn’t have made it to the house so she made her move toward the back building.  She stepped from the field onto the gravel that was used to surround the perimeter of the back building and with no warning slipped and fell down the side scrapping her elbows and hands as she tried to grasp for anything that could stop her slide down to the side toward the front of the building, all the while as the coyotes had made up nearly all of the ground from the time they had first spotted Mrs. Carter. 

She reached the door moments before the pack did and with her shaking, sweaty hands trying to grasp the doorknob as she barely let out an audible scream but there was absolutely no one around who could’ve heard her.  Finally getting as firm a grip as she was capable and pushing, then falling through the door face first hard onto the floor.  She turned over on her back and kicked at the door getting a good amount of force behind it, hitting one of the coyotes on his snout as he was about to enter through the opened door.  The force of the blow to the coyotes head made the door bounce back in her direction and again she took another kick and she kept kicking until the door was fully closed.  Mrs. Carter had nearly hopped up using nothing more than her behind, getting to her feet and holding the door shut with her right hand, she reached for the deadbolt with her left hand just as one of the coyotes face bounced off the narrow window growling and snarling.  She nearly jumped back away completely off of the door before catching her balance.  Her breathing had dramatically increased to the point of hyper-ventilation as she fought back against the door finally getting the deadbolt in a locked position.  There were one then two and very soon three coyotes trying to come in through the door.  Mrs. Carter backing away from the door and falling to the floor again began breaking down and she began to sob, slowly at first before becoming uncontrollable.

Having left her cell phone on the kitchen table, she decided to wait for someone to find her there when she realized that her sons would be the first to arrive and right then panic set in again because she was worried that they would be surprised by the pack.  She got into the car that was waiting for her eldest son to own and found the keys that were in the glove compartment and then she used the garage door opener and as the coyotes surrounded the car while the door finished opening, she put it in reverse and hit the gas knocking down a couple from the pack before shifting the car into drive and hitting a few more on her way down her drive to her street and soon out of her subdivision on her way to the last school where the bus was to pick up the last of her three boys for their trip home.  Tyler was the first of the boys to begin to react to seeing his future car at his school to pick them up when he noticed many scratches to the paint as well as many other marks on all of the windows.  He stopped before he got too carried away when he saw that his mother’s appearance with an apparent frazzled and clearly shaken look, the kind that they had never seen in her before this day.  On their way home she described what had happened as the boys sat there in stunned silence, realizing that she still had not been fully aware of what attracted the coyotes to their lot.  When they arrived back at the house the pack appeared to have left perhaps licking their wounds.  Mrs. Carter wasn’t taking any chances as she put their vehicle in their attached garage where her husband’s car was usually parked and closed the garage door before unlocking the doors allowing her three sons to go inside.

The first thing she did before going to her room and getting into the shower to try to clean off the dirt, grime, blood, sweat and soon the tears was to call her husband to warn him to watch out for any coyotes even one because there could be many more.  By the time Mr. Carter had arrived home it was already dark out and therefore he couldn’t or as his wife tried to tell him, shouldn’t go out to investigate what may have had those coyotes so interested with their property.  They both decided not to share any more information with the boys about what had happened to their mother but instead wanted to wait and see if there could be a potential coyote infestation to actually worry about.

The following morning the boys’ dad decided to go outdoors so he could assess any damage to the back building.  There wasn’t much however he did see some blood perhaps it was from a couple of the coyotes or even a little from his wife.  “Thank Goodness she’s alright”, Mr. Carter said looking up toward the heavens.  He looked around the building and didn’t find any other evidence of their presence.  That is until he got behind the building just on the opposite side of the hill that separates their home from the main road and that is when he came to the conclusion, why and what had attracted these animals to the property.    “Where did all this garbage come from”?  Mr. Carter said out loud.  As he looked a little more closely he soon realized that this was a lot more than several pieces that may have blown from an open garbage can at the end of the driveway.  He nearly fell into the hole that was dug up by the coyotes when he realized that it was no small hole.  “What the ….?”  “Dad”?,  came the voice of his middle son, Neil.  “What”?!, Neil’s dad yelled back.  “Mom wants to know what you’re doing out here”?  “And I want to know what you’ve done out here”?   Mr. Carter asked pointing at the hole in the ground filled with all their garbage from last week.  The look on his sons face needed no explanation.  “Get your brothers and tell them that I want them out here right now”!  “It wasn’t there idea dad”.  Neil’s response surprised Mr. Carter. “Are you telling me that you are solely responsible for this mess”?, he said with an honest disbelief.  Neil didn’t answer right away but eventually after a few moments of uncomfortable silence responded only with, “Yes, it was my idea.”  “Well I still want them out here as well”!  Neil didn’t say a word as he turned to head back inside to retrieve his soon to be miserable accomplice’s.  “Bring garbage bags with you”!, was his final words to Neil.

Mr. Carter was going through some of the garbage as he waited for the boys to make their unwanted return to the scene of the crime.  “Jesus Christ!  No wonder those desert dogs were attracted to this spot.  We sure do waste a lot of food”!  All three boys arrived together hoping that there would be strength in numbers.  “I want every last piece of this mess picked up, bagged and placed near the garage.  Then we are going to take a trip to the dump and then we are going to have a one sided conversation”.  The boys were looking around at all of the garbage that had been spread throughout the top of the hill, mostly by the coyotes but also by the winds which must have picked up over night while they had been sleeping.  As they worked together to pick up every last piece the one area that they had all forgotten about was the hole in the ground where they had originally used.  “Well, what are you waiting for guys”?, was their fathers query.  The boys looked at one another as they had hoped for some guidance from their dad.  He looked over by the garage where a couple of shovels and a rack were sitting by the garage doors.  The boys never said a word but by the look on their faces it was evident that this was a stunt that they would never attempt again.

Over an hour later without much complaining the boys had finished emptying the hole. Ted had been lowered by their father to pick up the final pieces of trash.  He couldn’t wait to be lifted out because the smell had become overwhelming.  He tried to climb out on his own digging his hands into the walls looking for something to hold onto.  He found what felt like stone and grabbed it with both hands as he planted his foot onto the wall of earth and began to pull himself up as his brothers and father watched with amusement for a few moments before Ted fell back to the bottom of the whole as the object that he was clinging became loose, causing him to fall onto his buttocks.  Laughter had ensued before Mr. Carter asked if Ted was alright.  He gave them all a sincere look of frustration that had even his two older siblings starting to feel sorry for him.  They lowered one of the shovels and Ted grabbed on and with all hands holding on they lifted him from the hole.  He was using the wall of dirt again for support and he placed his foot onto the object which he had only had his hands on first a couple minutes ago.  This time the piece broke free from the soil and fell to the bottom of the hole just as his father grabbed his arm and pulled him the rest of the way to freedom.  “What was that”?, asked Neil.  “What was what”?, replied Mr. Carter.  “That thing that fell to the ground”?  “It was some sort of old stone”., replied Ted.  “Old stone?  It looks more like a skeleton”.   They looked down but it was too dark to make out what precisely the object was.  “Alright guys!  The job isn’t finished!”  The boys had the look of beaten warriors.  “We still have to get these bags over to the dump before they close and then we’ll return to fill this hole.”

They loaded the bags of trash into the back of their minivan, lowered all the vehicles windows and went to the dump to rid themselves of their cursed garbage.  On the way home, Mr. Carter looked in his rearview mirror at the very tired and dejected young men and not a word was spoken all the way back home.  “We can take care of the hole later.  Get inside and get cleaned up.”   The boys went inside to take well deserved showers, however their dad did not enter the house with them.  He grabbed a tarp from inside of their garage and returned to the hole to cover it up until tomorrow morning.  When he got back to the top of the hill, he looked down and with the afternoon sun shining from above he saw what Neil had described as a skeleton reflecting the sunlight.  “What the…”?  He stood precisely six foot tall so he knew that he could get into and out of the hole without much problem so he lowered himself in and grabbed what looked like a fossil of some kind.  He wanted to get out of that hole but he noticed at the side of the wall where the light was shining the brightest a reflection of another fossil like object.  It was too obstructed by the earth to dig out by hand so he placed the fossil down and grabbed the top of the hole to pull himself up without completely getting out he grabbed the nearest shovel that he could reach and went back down.  He began to try and scrape around the object without disturbing it but knew he would need something more along the lines of a pitchfork to poke enough holes around the object to loosen the soil enough for possible removal.  He would have to get out of the hole again when Neil showed up.  “Dad?  Mom wanted me to check on you.  Are you alright”?  I’m fine. Can you get me the dirt ripper that your mother uses when she is planting her flowers”?  “Dirt Ripper”?  Yes Neil that thing that has four prongs and sort of looks like a metal claw with a handle”.  “Sure dad”.  “And get a flashlight also”!, he barked out from the bottom of what must have sounded like a voice coming from a well to Neil.

Neil returned with both items and Mr. Carter went back to working on the soil around this new object.  Neil was very intrigued and was made even more so when his father yelled, “Here”! as he threw up the first object that he had retrieved.  “What is this”?, said the astonished middle child who had created this scenario in the first place.  “Not really sure but it looks like a fossil”.  “Of what”?  “Some sort of bone but it doesn’t look like any animal that I might recognize.”  “Perhaps it came from one of the coyotes”?, inquired the son.  “Not it looks very old, almost prehistoric”.  “That would be cool if only it were true, dad”.  His father kept poking around the second object which appeared to be much larger than the first.  “I think your brother broke the object you have in your hands off of a much larger fossil stuck here in the hole”.  “How much larger dad”?  “Not sure but it is going to take more tools before I’ll know”.  After spending another twenty minutes and not making a whole lot of progress, Mr. Carter announced that perhaps we should call in some experts.  “No!”, Neil had shouted.  “Why not”?  “Because they will just take it away”.  “They cannot because it is on our property”.  “Dad, please.  I know that someone will try and remove it from here and we will never see it again.”  Neil’s father appreciated his sincerity but he also knew that he alone could not remove this very large and unique structure any more than his anxious son could.   “How ‘bout we cover this hole up with a tarp for the time being and we’ll reevaluate it again this weekend?  I’ll do some brainstorming until then”.  Neil thought that was a great idea and informed his dad that he would brainstorm also.  This not only amused Mr. Carter but it made him think that perhaps this experience may be just the thing that his middle child needed to focus on.

The week went by far too slow for Neil as each day he would check on the tarp to make sure that nothing had disturbed the hole.  It was generally fine unless the wind had been particularly gusty.  Friday night arrived and when Neil’s dad got home he rushed up and asked what they were going to do this weekend?  Mr. Carter didn’t really know how to break the news to his son that his brother, sister-in-law and their son were driving through from Arizona on their way out east and would be spending a couple of nights at their place, taking up the entire weekend.  “We’ll talk about this later”, was all he could say to try and avoid an immediate emotional response.  Neil was the first one up on Saturday morning and he didn’t waste any time getting outside and taking the tarp off hoping that his dad would join him as soon as he could.  After approximately 45 minutes he saw an unfamiliar car coming up their driveway.  “Who is this”?  Neil had said aloud.  He replaced the tarp, placing a few rocks around it in hopes that it would hold.  Before he made it back to the house, his father was already greeting his brother and his family.  “What the hell”, was the only thing that had come to mind inside his head.  Mr. Carter saw his son staring from the top of the hill and motioned for him to join them.

“You remember your Uncle John and Aunt Roseann”?  “Sure dad, hello”.  Hi.  My how you’ve grown”, his Aunt replied.  “And this is our son, Marc-Jeff”.  “Hi Marc-Jeff”.  “Neil, why don’t you go inside and find your brothers, especially Ted”, asked Mr. Carter because he knew that his nephew was the same age as his youngest child.  The boys played video games in the basement while the parents got caught up in the kitchen.  “So is there anything new going on”?, asked Uncle John.  Mr. & Mrs. Carter looked at each other giving the other one a knowing nod.  Mrs. Carter spoke first, “well there’s going to be an addition to our family”.  Mr. Carter’s brother gave him a big hug and the two women did the same.  “Congratulations, Big Bro.  What are going to name him or her, Dynamite”?  They all laughed because they knew that Martin referred to his boys as T.N.T. “What about you?  Isn’t time for another one so that Marc-Jeff could have a playmate”?  No, we’re both just fine with having just one.  We’ll leave the baby making to you two”, John joked.  Meanwhile downstairs, the boys had been getting a bit loud in the basement, so Martin yelled down and said, “Why don’t you guys go outside to play”  “Alright dad”, replied Tyler.

Once outside, the boys could really get into some mischief.  If only they knew.  Their conversation that had started inside continued outdoors.  Marc-Jeff was giving his older cousins a hard time about not having a girlfriend, especially Neil who had never had one thus far.  “You just wait Neil, someday a girl out there will melt your heart”.  “I doubt it cuz”.  “You’ll see.  She will come into your life and you won’t know what hit you”. “You’re crazy MJ, which was the way Neil would address his younger cousin.  “I’ll remind you of this conversation when you least expect it”. “Alright let’s stop the noise and find something else to occupy our time”.   “How about hide and go seek”?, asked Ted.  “Why not.”, they all agreed. 

The first person chosen to be “it” was the visiting cousin.  The boys knew some pretty good hiding places and so they figured they could keep him guessing for quite a while which they did.  What they didn’t anticipate was his persistence and patience.  Marc-Jeff knew that all of them could out run him but may not be able to out-smart him, so he waited for one of them to come out from the hiding spot and go looking for him.  His target was Neil, who was a bit more predictable than the other two.  As he expected, Neil was the first to move from his original spot.  Marc-Jeff waited until he had Neil pinned against the hill and would have to climb.  He knew that because of his sudden growth spurt, he was a bit awkward and still learning how to coordinate with his huge feet.  Marc-Jeff came out from behind a shrub just as Neil was starting downhill out of the berm across the drive from their house.  It took a couple of seconds to stop his momentum before he could turn around and try to race back up the hill.  Marc-Jeff may not be as fast as Neil but he certainly had the momentum but if he did not catch his cousin before he reached the top then he may have lost his best chance to tag someone.

Neil finally reached the top, his heart pounding because of the adrenaline rush, not to mention the fear that he might get caught by someone three years his junior.  Marc-Jeff still had more speed as his adrenaline was pushing him beyond his age.  Neil had to make some kind of a quick decision.  Would he continue on a straight path and hope that he can outlast his tiny cousin or try something a little more deceptive tack, hoping to out maneuver him.  He chose option number two and went directly toward the tarp.  Marc-Jeff was within arms-length of his older counterpart when suddenly he made a sharp ninety degree turn to his right away from the direction they had been running.  Neil dove over a portion of the tarp just as Marc-Jeff hit it with frightening force.  Marc-Jeff’s feet landed directly in the middle of the tarp and his speed carried his torso as he began to fall through the cover squarely into the other side of the hole, knocking the wind right out of him.  The tension in his body temporarily was released along with his air as the weight of his body was too much for the stones meant to hold the tarp in place.  He began sliding down into the hole, the tarp wrapping itself over his head as he was reaching for the wall.

Neil had a clear view of the whole incident and he yelled for some help from his brothers who were on the scene in a matter of moments.  They thought the whole thing was rather funny but Neil knew that his cousin had hit the side real hard and didn’t currently see the humor with their situation.  “Go get some rope Ted”, Neil said.   The boys were not able to tell right away if there was any movement under the tarp, wondering whether he may have knocked himself out cold.  Ted returned and Neil quickly tied it around Ted’s waist.  “What are you doing”?, Ted asked.  Tyler and I are going to lower you down so that you can grab the tarp and pull it off of Marc-Jeff.  Neil finished and backed Ted up toward the hole leaving him inches from the edge.  Neil and Tyler pulled on the rope as Ted began backing into the hole, then placing his hands on the edge dragging his feet down the hole.  The boys above were lowering Ted until he could reach his hands toward the tarp.  “Is he moving”?, asked Tyler.  “No”!, Ted answered when suddenly there was sudden push up against the tarp as if Marc-Jeff was trying to jump out from his plastic coffin.  It scared Ted at first but not as much as when the boys heard their father ask “What in the hell are you three up to now”!  Tyler and Neil nearly dropped their brother to the bottom of the hole.  “Dad, we’re just playing”, responded Tyler.  “Where’s Marc-Jeff”?, his father asked.  Neil and Tyler just looked down the hold.  Uncle John looked over the edge but did not see anything but Ted hanging above some kind of plastic object.  “I’ll ask again, where is Marc-Jeff”?!, this time he wasn’t in the mood for a non-response.  Martin also insisted that they explain where their cousin was.  He’s inside the tarp dad”, Ted yelled from below.

Martin and John each replaced Neil and Tyler holding the rope and they lowered Ted until he was nearly on top of the plastic tarp.  “Now grab it and lift it off of him”, Ted’s dad asked.  He tried but Marc-Jeff was wrapped up so tight that it wouldn’t budge.  They pulled Ted about briskly and told Neil that he was going down next.  When Neil reached the tarp, he too couldn’t get it off of his cousin.  “Neil put your arms around it and we will all pull the both of you out of the hole”!  Mr. Carter yelled.  Neil wrapped his arms around the tarp and his father and uncle tried to bring them up but they couldn’t life them more than a few feet.  “Tyler, get behind your uncle and grab the rope and pull”!  They were making some progress.  “Pull! Pull”!, Martin screamed.  The two boys were nearly halfway up the hole when Marc-Jeff began to thrash around again.  “Hold on son, we’ll have you out in a minute”., Uncle John trying to calm his son down.  “Alright one more huge pull, guys”!, as Martin grabbed the rope wrapped around Neil and lifted both him and Marc-Jeff from out of that hole.  John rushed to get the tarp off his son when the thrashing began again.  “Stay calm son”, but the thrashing only got worse.  Tyler, Neil and Ted stood by in anticipation hoping that the two men could get their frail cousin out sooner rather than later.

Martin grabbed one end while John tried to pull the other end and they began to unwrap the tarp and they finally saw his hair but instead of Marc-Jeff’s head they got a slight glimpse of a furry creature who was not Marc-Jeff.  Now that it had room to maneuver, the creature began to fight with the plastic and was trying to kick, chew, just about anything to free itself.  This was not an animal that any of them had seen before.  It finally got out from inside the tarp and raced away without looking back and everyone was freaking out.  “What was that”, was Ted’s response.  “Never mind that, Where’s Marc-Jeff”?!, John said with deep concern.  They all went back to the hole but could not see the bottom, so John began to get in and was going to carefully lower himself down.  He was afraid that he might land on Marc-Jeff so he was extremely careful as he placed his first foot on the ground, then the other one.  He still couldn’t see anything.  Marc-Jeff can you hear me”?  No answer.  He reached toward the ground and then all around the bottom of the hole but there was no sign of his son anywhere to be found.  “Where’s Marc-Jeff”!, John screamed.

“Honey, is everything alright up there”, asked Martin’s wife, Dawn.  Martin and the boys turned very suddenly toward her but no one could answer that question.  “Lunch is ready”.  “Alright, sweetheart, we’ll be right there”, Martin was trying to not upset his spouse.  “Ok. You don’t want to let it get cold”.  “We won’t”.  She turned around and started to head back to the house when she looked back at the guys and said one last thing.  “You don’t want Marc-Jeff to eat it all up, do you”?  “What she say”?!, the voice from the hole had shouted.   “Yea, Marc-Jeff must have really worked up quite an appetite because he is really chowing down the food”.  The boys didn’t wait for her to finish as they raced right on by their mom and straight for the house.  “Martin, help me get out of this hole”!  With the boys gone, Martin reached for the rope and threw inside the hole and John grabbed it and tied it around his waist.  Moments later he was lifted out and emotionally exhausted they both made their way back to the back door, where the kitchen door was located and there sitting at the table scarfing down his sloppy Joe was indeed Marc-Jeff.

The look on John’s face was of joy as well as concern when he reached for his son and gave him a big hug.  “Is everything alright with you guys”?, Roseann had asked with a tiny bit of concern in her voice.  John noticed her worry and so he replied with “everything is just fine honey”.  “Let’s eat”!, Ted said.  They all went about their business but for Uncle John and Neil, who both appeared shakin’ by the experience.  After lunch, John pulled his son aside and wanted to know what happened.  “What are you talking about dad”?  “How did you get back into the house”?  “I was here the whole time, downstairs playing video games”.  “I saw you go out to play with the boys”.  “Sorry dad, but I was never outside”.  “They all insisted that you were in the hole”.  “What hole”?  John just looked at his son with disbelief.  “I think the boys were playing a joke on you and Uncle Martin.  Perhaps that was true, since neither of the men saw Marc-Jeff fall into the hole.  John noticed that Neil too was frazzled by the incident or at least he looked like someone who was feeling bad about something.  Perhaps it was just a hoax after all and the guilt was for trying to deceive his father and I.  The most important thing was that Marc-Jeff was safe and sound.

The day turned into dusk and everyone was starting to wind down.  Things were pretty much back to normal when out of the blue rang a couple of shots echoing throughout the neighborhood.  “What was that”?, Roseann had asked.  “Aw that’s probably my neighbor shooting at some wild animal, trying to protect his horses”.  Martin answered.  “Wild Animals”?, he thought to himself.  “You don’t suppose that it was that creature that was caught up in their tarp?  The next day his brother and their family packed up, said their goodbyes and left for another destination on their weeklong trip.  When Monday came Martin contacted an excavator to dig up the remains in that hole much to the chagrin of the boys, especially Neil.  When they removed the bones, he decided to donate it to the Museum of Natural History in Denver, Colorado.  Martin made no mention of the site, its contents or the incident ever again.  The next time the boys ever brought it up was at their father’s funeral twelve years later.  Ted had just signed a big league contract with the Texas Rangers.  Tyler had received his first major sponsor for his racing team. 

The fact is, the only one who clung to that moment in time with a need for more information or a sense of closure was Neil.  He left school to make a career in archeology. He traveled the world and with it was his need to fill a void left by that strange day from his adolescence.  His obsession with that day led him to discover several new and unusual species.  The boys would occasionally see each other at a major holiday or on their mothers birthday but they hadn’t spent time alone with one another since the funeral for nine more years.  Tyler and Ted’s careers were at their peak but it was the off season for both when they all decided to catchup for a weekend out in the desert where dreams are made and lost, Las Vegas, Nevada.  Neil was reluctant at first but his fiance convinced that it was right time to make peace with his demons.  More than anyone else, she knew what drove him a little crazy but could also inspire him to be relentless at his craft. 

The boy’s mother had arranged a day trip with a local guide into the desert for a chance to unwind and discover their youth once more.  That was a promise that she had made to her late husband many years before.  After their arrival to their rooms they received a message from the hotel operator notifying them that their tour guide would be waiting for them around 8:00 the next morning.  They wouldn’t need to worry about food or drink.  The entire day would be taken care of with no expense to any of them.  It was all taken care of already.  They should plan on packing a jacket, since they may not get back before dark. 

When morning arrived, they were greeted by a beautiful January morning, with the temperatures only in the upper 50’s.  There guide arrived right on schedule and loaded them all up in his van that could have easily accommodated another seven or eight passengers.  “Are we picking up more”?, asked Tyler.  “No, this is it”., replied their guide.  He was a man who was rugged looking with only a hint of grooming skills available to him.  He looked like he had been in the same outfit for several days.  While he looked very shy when it came to using a comb or razor, he did not hesitate to use his razor-sharp wit when asked a question.  “Where are you taking us, mister”?, asked Ted.  “Mister?  Do I look old enough to be called Mister, son”?  Tyler laughed at his youngest brother.  “I didn’t mean any disrespect”?  None taken but you might be surprised when you hear my real age.  In fact I’ll bet that I am younger than all three of you.”  This brought a loud laugh from the guys.  “We’ll take that bet”, Neil answered as if it were some kind of challenge.  “Alright, if I’m right then you’ll kick back and relax for the rest of our time traveling to your first destination.  “We’ll take that bet”, Tyler said.  “What do we get if your wrong”?, inquired Ted.  “I’ll promise you a day to remember”.  “Deal”!, Neil shouted.  “OK.  I’m going to be thirty next month”.  The guys sat in disbelief.  “That can’t be true said all three.  “It is.  I’ll do you all one better.  I’ll try and guess all of tour ages within a year either way”.  “Double or nothing”, joked Ted.  “Deal”!, Neil said again.  I’ll guess that oldest of you is 36, the middle child is 33 and the youngest, who is closest in age to me has just crossed over 30 recently”.  “That is amazing.  How the hell did you do that”!, Tyler quipped.  The guide hesitated a moment before he got serious for a brief moment.  “Your mother told me everything there is to know about you boys and I really am twenty-nine, so I still win.  The boys didn’t say a thing for the remainder of their seventy-five mile trip.

When they arrived it was a little past 9:30 a.m. and the sun was starting to make the sand out in the middle of nowhere seem hotter than the actual air temperature.  The first thing that Neil said after they arrived was, “You’re not really under thirty”?    “Yes I am but I have already experienced more on this planet during the course of my previous lifetimes that it made me an old soul before I was even born.  This raised a few eyebrows but then the guide went back to serious business of trying to get these guys to have fun.  They saw four dune buggy’s sitting just off the road with an equal amount of helmets attached to each one.  “Cool”.  Ted said.  “Alright, the name of this game is “Hide and Seek” and there is a prize to the first person to complete a series of hidden clues and decipher the next stage to the buried treasure.”  “Buried treasure”., Neil scoffed.  “Trust me Neil, even you haven’t seen everything just yet”, Tyler snapped back.  “Yea bro, why don’t you try and relax and see if you can remember how to have fun like we used to when we were much younger.” Ted reminded his older brother.

The first stage is real easy fella’s.  First one to reach the second hill directly west will find the first clue.  Without hesitation Tyler put his helmet, starting his buggy and raced with his usual reckless abandon.  Ted who was in a contract year was much more deliberate and took his time knowing that this wasn’t going to be a sprint but it would have to be more like a marathon.  Then there was Neil, who wanted to prove to both his siblings that he could compete equally with his more athletic members of his family.  Despite his methodical ways, Ted having reached the first clue last was able to understand the mathematical equation before his older brothers.  He knew that this formula was what statisticians used to determine the perfect Quarterback rating in professional football.  When he arrived at the third clue he already had a huge lead as the others were literally driving blind in the desert.  To make matters worse, he hid the clue from the other two to gain an even larger advantage.  By the time Tyler finally reached the third destination, Ted was nearly at the finishing line thinking that he had this one well in hand.

The fourth and final location was a rather tiny cavern and awaiting him was a pick-ax next to a wall made of rock with a bulls-eye in the middle.  Well I guess that I am supposed to use this for batting practice a jubilant Ted had said with the look of a man who had conquered his older brothers for the first time.  He picked the ax up and took one hard swing hitting the middle of the marker.  He penetrated right on through with a single homerun swing that would have made his coaches very proud.  He reached inside the dark hole but could not feel anything immediately on the other side.  He reached for his smart phone and used his flashlight App and shined his virtual spotlight through the hole and saw something that appeared to be covered.  It was outside of his arm-length so he took a few whacks at the wall with the ax making enough room for him to crawl through.  There wasn’t a lot of vertical room so he stayed low to the ground.  He grabbed the cover but there was nothing but plastic underneath.  Ted reached for it but lost his balance and fell through the plastic into a hole that had seemed freshly dug out.  This brought a spine-tingling deja-vu’ feeling when he hit the bottom of the pit.  It was s dark that he wasn’t really sure how far he had fallen.  He reached for his phone but realized that it must have dropped it as he was falling.  He felt around below him and came across something smooth and strong like a pipe.  He tried to pick it up but as he grabbed and tried to pull it, the floor gave way and began to fall again out of the hole and away from any help.

Meanwhile the other two were above ground still playing the game unaware of their youngest brother’s current problems.  Tyler was ahead of Neil, when he approached the cavern entered inside and saw the wall miraculously repaired and the pick-ax place once again by the bulls-eye on the wall.  Neil was still a long ways behind Tyler when he felt that same deja-vu’ feeling his baby brother had experienced several minutes ago.  He hadn’t seen anyone including their tour guide for quite some time.  He started to call each of their names one by one including the guide who said he went by MJ.  He couldn’t call any of them by phone because he didn’t expect to have a need for one so he left it back at the hotel, plus he thought that there may be no signal out here in the middle of nowhere.  It took Neil nearly forty more minutes to find the cavern.  He went inside and saw the exact same set-up as before.  He hesitated before following in the same path as the first two.  He looked around the rest of the cavern for other clues that weren’t quite this obvious.

What he discovered were drawings on an opposite wall.  These carvings were from a different time and one in particular caught Neil’s attention.  He recognized it from his memory of twenty plus years prior.  He recognized it because he made similar drawings throughout the years.  It was a picture that resembled the fossil that had been buried down the hole on his parent’s property.  As he continued looking at the rest of the drawings, he came across a piece of paper with a handwritten note, simply stating “Congratulations, you won”!  Neil didn’t exactly feel overwhelmed with joy at that very moment.

Behind the wall down in the pit Ted has had the chance to recover from his fall.  “What is this place”?, he said out loud.  It was lush and green filled with all sorts of plant life, more like a tropical paradise than an arid desert like climate.  He thought that this was still part of the game so he went looking for more clues but just in case he was wrong he thought that he would leave a trail of , you guessed it, sunflower seeds that any good ballplayer would have on hand at all times.  The more he traveled, the weirder things became.  As he kept up his pace he began to notice some unusual prints on the ground.  Some looked like animals, other birds but all of them much larger than he would’ve expected.  The sunflowers worked because his oldest brother Tyler finally had caught up with him.  “Where in the hell are we”?  “I’m not sure but I can tell you we’re not in Nevada anymore, Dorothy”.

Above ground their guide was congratulating Neil for his victory but his only interest was finding his brothers and getting back to the hotel, pronto!  That’s when the guide said, “Who are you talking about?  There is no one else out here but you and me”.  This really creeped Neil out.  He insisted that the tour guide call for help in finding his siblings but the look on MJ’s face was no comfort to him so he knew that he must take action on his own.  After a few curse words directed at MJ, he retrieved his buggy, which was one of only two now visible and raced back toward the spot from which they started. He was in utter disbelief as he found the van that brought them there and found the keys were still in the ignition.  He jumped in, started it up and took off leaving behind the guide as well as his brothers in the desert.  He wanted to find the proper authorities but he wasn’t really sure where they might be.  It was now dusk and so it was harder to see in the distance as he looked out into the desert for any signs of Tyler and Ted.  Not thinking very clearly he traveled back to his hotel where he would be able contact the police.  The first thing he did was ask for a manager of the hotel.  The staff knew precisely who his brothers were and were quick to respond to his request.  Neil was beginning to bring concern to some of the guests so the staff decided to take Neil to an unused conference room to wait for the police to  arrive. When the police finally arrived it had been nearly 100 minutes since he had left everyone back into the desert night.  The police asked for a timeline of the events that led up to the last time he saw either men to the current time.  He felt like they were grilling him and expecting that their intentions were to have him give some kind of confession himself.  The police also wanted to know more about their tour guide.  Neil didn’t know too much other than he went by MJ and the name on the van called “Lost and Found Tours”. 

He mentioned that he didn’t even have a phone number because his mother was the one who set this up.  His mother, he thought.  What is she going to say when she finds out that two of her sons have mysteriously disappeared without a trace?  Suddenly from out of the blue he noticed through the doorway out into the hall a man who looked just like MJ walking past.  “Hey!  There he is”!, Neil yelled.  The police turned around but no one was there.  “He’s right there”!  Neil ran out into the hallway and looked in the direction that he had seen him walking.  Police followed close behind and continued until they reached the end where an emergency staircase was but it couldn’t have been open because an alarm would’ve have been triggered.  “He must have slipped inside one of these other conference rooms”, Neil blurted.  The police checked into each room, many of which were occupied and thoroughly looked at every part of each room but could not find anyone who fit the description of this mysterious man. 

They decided to split up and go around the hotel looking for him around the premises.  Neil was visibly shakin’ and the person in charge thought it would be better for everyone if he went up to his room and try to freshen up and relax and he would notify him of any discoveries.  Neil agreed and so he was escorted by the hotel manager who had given him his card and instructed Neil to call him at any time.  Neil knew that he needed a hot shower and perhaps he could lie down for a bit but sleep was still the furthest from his mind.  After his shower and a drink from the minibar, the hotel phone rang and he picked it up quickly.  The voice only said, “We found him”!, was all that was said before the call was lost.  Neil waited for it to ring again but could not wait any longer so he called down to the operator and asked if they could tell him what number had just called his room but the operator could only say that it had come in unlisted when they received it.  He was still in his robe and so he quickly threw on some cloths and raced out of his room, remembering to grab his cell phone this time.

When he reached the lobby, he went directly to the concierge desk to see if he could get an update.  There must have been a shift change since he was last there because he didn’t recognize the person at the desk.  “Where is the other concierge”?, he asked.  We just had a shift change and have been gone for a quarter of an hour.  “Did they update you on the status of my brothers”?  The concierge apologized because he wasn’t sure what Neil was referring to.  “I don’t know of any updates, sir”.  “Is the police still here”?  “Police, why know sir.  There have been no police here since I started my shift”.  Neil asked to see the night manager but became even more frustrated by his lack of knowledge of the situation.  He insisted that they bring his brother, Ted’s car up.  The night manager gave the ok within minutes Neil was back on the road.  It was a completely loaded SUV, which he had gotten as an award for his baseball performance.  Neil had plenty of time to think things through over the next hour long trip back to where it all began, early the previous morning.  He couldn’t help but to imagine just how eerily similar this day felt to the one back at home nearly twenty-one years ago.  What was he supposed to have found behind that wall in the cavern?  He needed to find out.  When he got back he noticed a single dune buggy was still there but it wasn’t the one that he had used to get back to the van.  “Is anyone out there”?  he yelled.  No answer, only the sounds of near silence.  Nothing but a little breeze and perhaps a few crawly things to make this evening seem even more disturbing. 

He made the two to three mile trek back to the cavern where he found the three other buggy’s back at the scene of the crime.  Once inside, it was like nothing had changed.  The note right where he had left it dropped onto the floor.  The wall, the bulls-eye and the pick-ax were all where he had left them.  He picked up the pick-ax and started to swing it toward the wall.  It wasn’t breaking apart as easily as it did for his brothers.  He kept pounding away despite the fact that it had crossed his mind that neither of his brothers had gone through this wall.  Was Neil wasting his time or could he be on course to finding some real answers.  Several more strokes and he had finally breached the wall and as he looked through all he could see was some kind of shiny object on the floor reflecting from the little bit of light coming from the rising sun.  It took him another twenty minutes before the opening had made it possible for him to crawl on through.  Once through he picked up the shiny object.  It was Ted’s phone and the battery had died.  He soon noticed the tarpless hole as he nearly fell in.  He looked down and could make out some kind of lighting shining through the bottom. 

He went back to the buggy and discovered some heavy duty rope and carried it back inside the cavern.  He tied it around a solid rock formation and then around his waist and began to lower himself into the hole.  The light got much brighter the farther down he went.  It was nearly blinding going from near pitch black to a light that was nearly free of anything in the air to cause the sunlight to darken much like it looked above ground.  As his eyes began to adjust he began to see what his younger brother had first seen when he arrived, the lush green vegetation of a nearly flawless world unlike anything that he had seen before and believe me he had nearly seen it all.  His profession made this event an even more unique and un-expectant special moment as his feet finally touched the ground.  The ground?  It felt as soft as a cloud, “practically untouched by human feet”, he thought.  He untied himself and left the rope hanging in midair and began to look around for any clues of either of his brothers. 

Neil couldn’t initially find anything but soon he had begun to hear a strange and scary noise.  It was howling but it didn’t sound like it was entirely coming from animals but there seemed to have been a very human tone mixed in there as well.  It was coming from just over the ridge, which he began to climb.  Once he reached the top he discovered several men dressed to look like cavemen and with them were his brothers along with the guide.  What was this place, he thought.  “He made it”!, screamed Tyler followed by “What took you so long, Bro”? from Ted.  Neil couldn’t believe what he was seeing.  He looked at all of those men and women and wondered what he wondered into, many of them still playing the part of our descendants. The guide was staring almost glaring at Neil suddenly his mood had changed, going from serious to friendly right before he said “You’re it”!  It was loud enough for everyone to stop their conversation and to pay attention to him.  He then proceeded to say something that was very foreign to Neil to the costumed men and women causing them to enjoy a good laugh at his own expense.  Tyler and Ted soon joined into the levity. 

Neil decided to join them all down by the camp fire.  He was given a hug by both his brothers who proceeded to tell him an extraordinary story about this place along with the story of survival, courage, forgiveness and time travel.  The guide, the one who went by MJ was actually their cousin, Marc-Jeff and that infamous day when he appeared to have fallen into the hole that Neil had made was actually a portal to the past.  That hole brought him to this place and from here he soon discovered more entrances to other places in time.  Of the many different portals, none of which could take him beyond the point of his actual age at that time.  The future it seems stops at now.  He soon figured out what hold to go through to get to a certain time, including the present which was precisely where they all came in from.  He had gone back to the first hole several times, in fact the time that they all remember was not his very first time through the portal.  He had played this game with his cousins before and he already knew what his fate was supposed to be when he planned his escape route before they saw him enter the hold on top of that magical tarp.

It took Marc-Jeff several months to find his way back, leaving his parents at first grieving his loss but he soon was able to remedy that.  He had missed his tenth birthday but was able to relive it a few times after he figured out the paths.  “I very much enjoyed our game of hide and seek and that is precisely why I tried to recreate that feeling for all of you yesterday when I sent you on this excursion.  Don’t blame your mom because she still doesn’t know for I contacted her about this little de-tour”.  “Do your parents know about your travels”?, Neil asked.  “Not at first but yes they do now.  I had to try and convince them that I wasn’t doing drugs when I was a teenager.  That my disappearances had some meaning.  So I took them on an adventure.  First we came here then we traveled together back to your place along with a few other spots a bit more romantic”. 

If you and your family could travel to and from, then why can’t these men and women do the same”?  “They can Neil.  I have escorted most of these people to their future on a few occasions. They especially like the spot from which you came through today.  We would travel at night and I would put them in my van and take them toward the “Brig Aww”.  “Brig Aww”?  “Brig aww, brig aww”, the group began to chant over and over.  “Yes, Brig Aww, which means brilliant lights to these people.  These people possibly couldn’t have evolved without my guidance”.  “You really believe that don’t know”?, Neil sounded a little judgmental in his tone.  “Yes, I believe that.  They’ve learned so many things since I first appeared.  I’m like this god-like being who can travel through time to show them things that they could have never imagined and I owe that all to you, cuz”.  Neil sat there in silence.

Marc-Jeff stood up and walked over to a shrub that was similar in nature to the one that he had been hiding behind that day he disappeared down the hole.  He reached down and pulled the tarp that had broken his fall so very long ago.  “That didn’t go down with you”?, Ted said.  “Not that time that you guys remember, but it did come back with me while you guys were asleep.  I’ll be you thought that the wind had taken it or perhaps a wild animal.”  “Wild animal, that’s right, what happened to that creature who we found in the hole that day.  “Did our neighbor get him with his shotgun”?, Tyler inquired.  “Yes and no?  Yes he did the first time but as I figured out how to return and how to communicate with these creatures as you call them, I was able to return him back here without incident.  Here I want to show you guys something”.  This got all of their attention.  MJ lifted up the tarp above his head and waited for a few moments when in an instance he dropped it to the ground.  He was standing there next to a smaller version of himself.  It was Marc-Jeff at age nine.  He walked over to the boys and sat right down next to Neil and gave him a wink.  “I would have caught you that day had you not tricked me into landing onto your death-trap of a tarp you bastard”!  “I’m sorry little man”. “That’s ok, if you hadn’t taken the time to dig that hole then I would not have ever discovered this wonderful place”.  “So we’re cool”?  Marc-Jeff who always had looked up to his older cousin, stood up and placed a hand on Neil’s shoulder and said, “We’re cool”.  Nine-year old Marc-Jeff looked around the fire and gave each other brother a wave before heading back to the portal.  “Have to leave so soon MJ”?, Ted asked.  “I do or I’ll be late for dinner”.  The guys laughed.  “Bye”, MJ said to the rest of the group and much to the boys surprise they all replied with “Bye, bye” in unison.  Just before leaving, he turned around and said, “It sure was very cool seeing you guys all grown-up”.  “You too”, Tyler said looking at both versions of the same man.

Tyler and ted got up and announced that it was time for them to return to their rightful place in time.  They looked over at Neil who seemed to be overwhelmed with his own thoughts.  “Are you coming little brother”?  Neil thought for a few moment s before he answered, “No, I think I might hang around here for a little while”.  “Me too”! MJ replied.  “Well then, how are we supposed to get back to our hotel?, asked Ted.  Neil reached into his pocket and threw Ted his own car keys.  Ted looked at the keys as Tyler said, I guess we’ll catch up with you both later”?  “I guess so”, said Neil.  “Well, I guess we’ll see you when we see you”, MJ saying his final goodbyes.  “Till then. Don’t take any wrong turns”.  THE END.  

My Eight Loves

 

 If you’re the kind of person who likes character development or clever dialogue then this story is probably not for you.  If you are the kind of person who only believes in a heterosexual , monogamous lifestyle then you may want to look away.  For those of you who decided to stay please join me for eight weekends in an exceptional year of good food, drink and conversation with eight equally exceptional human beings.

I spend a weekend once a month eight times every year with a different companion sharing a different location around the United States.  It hasn’t always been eight or seven or any other number above zero for the many years that I have had my “Same Time Next Year” type of rendezvous.  It started more than a dozen years ago or currently more than half of my life with my first encounter with a woman who had later become my lawyer for various different situations.

Throughout the years I have added the seven others and for the past six years when it became eight, I made a decision not to raise that number any further mostly to give myself a needed break every three months from this kind of lifestyle.  I clearly could not handle a single lifelong relationship so instead I chose to have these eight mini relationships that only required a couple days each year.  It may not be very traditional but then again neither am I.

The venues have changed over the years either for my wishes to see as many places as I can or for the convenience of my partner.  There have been many moves made by all individuals, including myself over the years back and forth from the Midwest to the West and back again.  If I had to give you my favorite location it would have to probably be Vancouver, Washington.  As far as my favorite person amongst the eight, well you all will have to wait for me to tell this story.

Their names alone could make for an unusual story on its own.  We have Kristin, Krista, Chris (male), Kris (female), Christy, Christina, Christiana and Gina, who is an Arabic translator.  I have often joked that her name in Arabic translates to Crissy.  My goal was not to collect as many Chris’, Kris’s as I could, but it was simply a probable subconscious coincidence.  I have taken every March, June, September and December off the past few years, occasionally switching months for the needs of my partners in crime.  I moved Cristy up one month to June one year because she was expecting her third child on our regular visit during month of July.

Yes some of these individuals are or have been married and no I don’t believe (naively) that I may have caused any harm to their happy homes however I’m fairly confident that my name may have come up during certain occasions (anniversaries).  In fact one of my acquaintances insisted that we meet the week before her Anniversary each year.  I think she used it to get herself a better gift but I never brought it up.  I’m not a player, I just have the means to have these kind of relationships.  That doesn’t make me a John either.

You may have asked yourself why eight?  Why not seven, nine or three or what is wrong with only one? Nothing is really wrong with any of those numbers, I just like the number eight, especially these eight.  So let’s begin and I’ll tell you the story of this past year of encounters.  January 19th & 20th, 2013 in Las Vegas with Kristen.  I met her at one of my favorite places to have a quick bite to eat but I always left room for their pie, made fresh every day.  She mostly worked the counter, which has always been fine with me because I would always frequent there alone.  Strawberry Blond hair, Ruby Red lips, she was quite beautiful and she hardly ever needed to wear any make-up.  She has had the same boyfriend for the past eleven years but he has been hesitant to pop the question.  I spoke to him about this once and he said that between both his parents they have been married a combined five times and he didn’t want to go down the same path.  Actually he really said what business was it of mine!

Kristen was never going to be nothing but a one weekend fling each year.  If it hadn’t been for her pie I probably would have ended it some time ago.  Truth be told, she was starting to get restless about her future.  She knew that there would never be any future with me but she decided to pick our weekend together to question her future with her boyfriend as well.  “To what do I owe the pleasure of this conversation during our weekend”?  I asked.  She became very angry at first but after just a few curse sentences directed at all men, she finally broke down in tears and that’s when I turned into Mr. Sensitive.  Perhaps I could still salvage the weekend before it turned into a disaster.  Just then I decided to take an even simpler approach to try and stop thinking of myself and show some real compassion for someone who I have been lucky enough to know for almost nine years.

We had a very long talk that kept us up until nearly 5:00 o’clock in the morning.  I found out that she had been seeing at least three other men at some point for the past seven years not including me.  But that wasn’t the most surprising admission of the night.  She only found out the week before and she wasn’t really sure who the father was going to be for her unborn baby.  What made her even more nervous was wondering aloud, “what kind of mother she would be”?  All I could say under the circumstance was “The kind of mother who cared enough to even ask that kind of question”!

“She sounds like a slut”!, came a voice on one end of the bar.  I looked down at him with a disgusted feeling and he soon shut his mouth.  I continued with my story, which had begun only with the bartender on a very slow, wintery late December evening.  Just a handful of patrons were inside on the cold night and they had all moved up to the bar for more hands on service and I suspect to listen to my tale.  “Mind your business”, spoke the only woman on the other end of the bar.  She was with her boyfriend and he was not the kind of man who appeared to be one who wanted to get into a bar fight so he mostly stayed quiet.  I paused for a moment and said, “she was the kind of woman who found the best in everyone and was a little too trusting for a waitress”.  I looked down at my drink.  “I suspect that if it wasn’t for her nature then we would have never had our January’s together”.  “You would’ve just had another January partner is my guess”, responded the woman.  I smiled in her direction but I didn’t want her friend to feel too comfortable so I took a drink and went on with my description.

“She had her baby in early August, a girl that she named after the father”.  “A girl’s name after the father? That seems odd”?  Not really because his name is Francis only she gave it the feminine version”. “Was he her main man”?, asked another patron.  “He was”.  “So she got lucky”, was the response from the first man to have joined in on the conversation.  Again I took another drink and said “Yes she did”.  Finishing my drink I looked at the bartender who filled my glass halfway with a double shot of whiskey.  “So are you going to see her again next month”?, a pair of inquiring minds wanted to know.  I simply answered “No”.  “She finally had decided to settle down”?  “Not really.  “I decided to take a little break from my routine”.  “Whatever you need to convince yourself that someone could move on from you”!, all coming from the same smartass on the end.  I gave him an insincere smile and then asked the bartender to give my friend on the end a drink, hoping that he would keep his thoughts more to himself.  After receiving, he raised his glass to me and said “Alcohol makes me rather talkative” and with that he downed the entire glass.  “Great”.  I said to the amusement of everyone.  “A break?  For how long”?, asked the woman.  “A year…or more.”  Things became very quiet and that is not what I wanted to come from my story to these complete strangers on Christmas Eve.

“Let’s move on to February”.  “Her name is Krista and she’s my Dentists assistant.  I knew that she would make a fine candidate for one of my companions.  She used to give me the laughing gas and then she would be the one to laugh at my mumbled jokes which meant that she had good taste in humor.  She is the youngest of all the acquaintances with this past year being her last as a twenty-something.  Having just turned 30 she was perhaps the most disappointed at my decision to take a hiatus from these rendezvous.  She has had a serious boyfriend for the past couple of years but as I found out from her very recently he broke off their relationship, using me as his excuse for the separation.  Our weekend would usually take place the week after Valentine’s Day.  Her favorite color was red which made it easy for me to romance her with Roses and Red Wine.  She could be fickle about so many things, which is partly why I enjoyed being with her.  Hot and cold were her only two emotions especially when it came to love making.  That brought a smile from most of the patrons at the bar with the exception of the old guy sitting right next to me.  By the great many tattoos on both of his arms, he didn’t appear to have much of a sense of humor.

I would describe our love making as “Bitter-Heat”.   There’s an old joke that goes “The coldest Winter I ever experienced was the Summer that I spent in San Francisco”.  Yes, that is what I’m talking about, Bitter-Heat my San Francisco Treat.  “You’re awfully cynical for someone that carries on with so many women friend”, spoke my new pal at the end of the bar.  “That is precisely why as you say I have so many friends, friend”.  “You two should get a room”, joked the lady at the other end of the bar.  “Where did you stay that weekend?, she inquired.  I looked directly into those lovely eyes and said, “Where any good romantic would choose to go, Paris”.  Her jaw dropped as did a few others at the bar.  “How ‘bout a round for all my new friends barkeep”?  “I’ll drink to that”, said the crusty old man as he finished his beer.  “Paris you say”, suddenly using her sexy voice to go with her emerald eyes.  “Yes ma’am. Paris, Texas.”  “Texas”?, my friend said as he choked down another drink.  “I told you all that she had a great sense of humor”.

“April. Chris. New Orleans.  Enough said”.  “What? That’s all you got”?, barked the bartender.  “Are you mad because I haven’t bought you a drink yet”?  “Well, now that you mentioned it”.  “Please. Have one on me”.  He poured a neat glass of bourbon and swallowed.  “Well”?  “Well there isn’t a whole lot to tell about this specific weekend.  “Try us or maybe we could ask the questions that we want answered”.  I paused for a few short seconds.  “Alright, try me”!  “Why New Orleans in March?  Mardi Gras”?  “I know why”.  I looked down to the woman’s boyfriend.  “Educate us young man”.  “The College Basketball Tournament”.  I smiled.  “Am I right”?  “Go on”.  “You found yourself a sports fan?”  “I guess I did”.  “She sounds great”. My friend spoke up again.  “It’s been a while since we heard from you down there”.  I stared into his eyes.  “He is great”!  Total silence. Nothing was said for a couple of minutes.

“Fucking Queer”!  The crusty old man next to me finally had broken the silence.  “Dennis”.  The bartender tried to get involved.  “It’s alright I can speak for myself.  I can assure you that it isn’t sexual, Dennis”!  “What’s he do”?, asked the boyfriend.  I took a drink.  “He’s a Hairdresser”.   I could hear their laughter in their sighs.  “Now not all hairdressers have to be Gay you stereotypical hypocrites”.  “He’s not Gay”.  The bartender chimed in.  “I didn’t say that but spending a weekend with a Gay man doesn’t mean that I choose to wear my shoes on the other foot”.  “No you just like to walk in another man’s shoes it sounds like”, said the boyfriend.  “What led you to ask a Gay man to spend one of your weekends with you”?, asked his girlfriend.  I met Chris through a mutual friend who I also share one of my weekends with and no we don’t share a bed”.  “Never”?  “Never and not because I am afraid that he may want to cuddle or do something more but only because he snores much too loud for my taste”.   “Can we move on from Ms. April”?, snapped Dennis.  “Sure we can.  Let me tell you about Ms. May”.

“Her name is also Kris and she is a Librarian.  We had to change our destination from Dayton Beach to Orlando when her worthless ex-husband bailed on her at the last minute so her nine year old son had to accompany us on our weekend”.  “That must have been awkward”?  “Yes a little but it was surprisingly quite fun.  He’s a great kid who desperately needs a better father figure than either his dad or I could ever give him”.  “Do you have any children Mister”?, said the only person at the bar who hadn’t spoken up until now.  I’m not sure what kind of answer they were expecting and frankly I wasn’t expecting such a question perhaps naively.  Not really knowing how to answer I may have let a little too much time to pass, when Mr. Crusty (Dennis) finally spoke up.  “What’s the matter Queer, are you also one of those worthless dads”?  “Not exactly”,  I said as I finished my drink and asked the bartender for another.

Again no one spoke while I waited for my drink to come.  I took another drink and cleared my throat,  “Yes I have a son who I haven’t seen for thirteen years and would be sixteen years old.  His mother left me one day and took our son from me and I have never heard from either since that day”.  The mood suddenly changed to a much more somber mood but leave to my friend on the end to ask the question if I had been abusing either the mother or the son.  I wasn’t insulted because it is something that I would have first thought and it probably had crossed others minds at the bar.  “No she had met someone who I couldn’t approve of but instead of sticking around they left together and took Eric with them”.  “You don’t sound as angry as I would be had this happened to me”!, said my friend.  “I was very angry for many years but it was only derailing my life and I knew that I had to somehow let go but that hasn’t always been easy especially when I start to talk about and relive it like we are doing now.

“I’m sorry for your loss Mister”, the young man said.  “To hell with that!  If this were my son I would be searching every corner of the Universe to find and bring home my son”!  said my friend.  “Give that man another drink”!  The barkeep replaced his glass with another.  “I have to admit you sound a bit too calm for a man who must have had a strong emotional bound to your son”, inquired the lady.  “I did but after so many years of being bitter I had to move on according to my doctor”.  Silence ensued for a few uncomfortable moments.  I reached for my wallet which led some to inquire if I had enough and was going to leave.  I said nothing but instead handed my open wallet to Dennis who took a good look at the picture of my three year old son.  He passed down the end of the bar and as each person took a good look especially the woman they gave to the bartender who brought down to the other end finally making it to my new friend.  “He’s a very handsome young man”, said the woman.  “Yes he is”.  “Who’s the babe in the other picture with that boy at Sea World”?, my friend chimed in.  That’s the librarian that I have just spoke of”.  “Whoa! If I had a librarian who looked like this I would be an avid book reader”.  That brought back a little bit of levity as the man handed my wallet back into my hand. 

“Would you like me to move onto July”?  The woman was the first one to speak up by asking “When did you first start these relationships? Was it when you were with your son’s mother”?  “No, I first began these special weekends twelve years ago, at first I suspect as a knee-jerk reaction to her rejection but after a few years it had become more of a therapeutic measure that I craved more than one or two times a year, which is why it has grown over the years.  There were no more questions so I moved onto Christy from Baltimore.  “Baltimore, that is nice and where did you go”?, asked the young man.  “D.C” “Washington D.C?  I though you liked to get far away with your partners?, asked the woman.  That’s true but she wanted to stay close to home in case her children needed her.  “What does she do for a living”?  asked my friend.  “She’s a stay at home mother”.  ‘She’s married”?, asked the boyfriend. 

“Yes”.  I was waiting for any of the judges opinions but for some reason they never came.  “Look I never for a moment lied about some of these companions being single or at least not married”.  “How does her husband deal with it”?, asked the boyfriend.  “He doesn’t”. was all I would say.  “it doesn’t even bother you that albeit for just a couple of days you were taking away from their partners the same thing that you had taken away from you thirteen years ago”. The boyfriend said.  “Of course!  That was precisely why I started this but over the years these weekends became something a little bit more and even their partners started to realize this, some of whom I have become friends with as well.  They would notice the excitement in their partners prior to our annual adventure and generally they would return to them refreshed and energized that would last for several weeks beyond our time together. “ Do any of these partners have a weekend that they can spend with someone else”?   “Not exactly like what I have with these people.  There the usual guys weekend out for most of these men”.

“August brought in Christina who is a Tax Lawyer who also happens to be bi-sexual which is the main reason for my attraction to her”.  This perked up the ears of most of the men at the bar except for Dennis.  “Destination”?, asked  the young man. “Hawaii”.  “Aloha”!, my friend said dramatically.  “I’m beginning to think that August to starting to be my favorite month of the year”, he continued.  “Tell us more.  Did she ever bring a friend”?  “No she always came alone but we have been blessed with meeting a few women over the years who were generous enough to share an entire evening with us.”  Their jaws were dropped again.  “Details, we need details”, surprisingly said the boyfriend, which brought an unusual expression from his lady friend as well a good laugh from the others.  “I don’t kiss and tell”.  “Holy Shit if that were true your lips wouldn’t look so chapped, now pucker up and spill it”!  Even Dennis was amused by the boyfriends push back.

“Alright I’ll give one story, the most recent one that occurred this past year.  There was some sort of business convention taking place for a group of individuals from Portland, Oregon.  There we met a woman who will remain nameless that was away from her husband and children and was a bit of a lone wolf and not necessarily there to have too much fun in contrast to all of her co-workers who were letting their freedom go to the their heads.  Christina was the first to notice her alone at the bar.  She gave me a nudge and I automatically knew what she had in mind.  After we finished our dinner we strolled up to the bar just as a couple who had been sitting right next to our target had left and we quickly took their place.  We both had our first hard drink of the evening together and let her watch our interaction for a while feeling her out for some possible opening.  She was very deliberate with her drinking taking a long time between tiny sips and I would later find out was hanging on our every word during Christina and my normal catch up conversation that we had actually begun in the dining room.  As we were getting our second cocktail, our nightcap and just before our future guest was finishing hers Christina offered to buy her another drink.  She was suddenly very nervous but Christina made her feel very comfortable and as fate would have it soon joined us for another nightcap in our suite”.

“That’s it”, my friend at the end of the bar said with a bit of desperation in his voice.  “You want all the salacious details”?  “Yes, yes we do”, sounding even more desperate.  “Well I’m not your human Penthouse Forum am I”!  “Then what the hell has this whole fairy tale been about tonight but your glorified quest for attention”!  I took one long drink and slurred out, “Yes!”  “Is this story even true”?  “Every word”!  I was barely able to get the words out between my clenched teeth.  A couple of extremely tense minutes went by, caused mostly by me when Dennis said something.   “Details, we need details”, changing the mood for a few brief moments. “ I find it hard to believe that even a slightly good looking guy such as yourself could have the kind of lifestyle that you’re describing to us partially gullible patrons on Christmas Eve when most of us want to believe in Santa Claus let alone a story that would whet the appetite of all of us at this bar.”  This was the most words that Dennis had spoken for the entire evening and it brought a small roar of approval from the rest of the patrons and a wink from the bartender as well.  Just then Dennis rose from his stool and announced that he had to take a piss.

As he exited the room, I looked at everyone and then asked the bartender for Dennis’ story.  “I believe you made him jealous with your description with your rendezvous’.”  “It was never my intention to cause anyone here….” Stop right there friend”!, my new friend had shouted.  “I’m not speaking for everyone here when I say that you knew that your story could cause a bunch of lonely people at a bar especially tonight to feel even lonelier than we already had so don’t try and justify your guilt because a few drinks aren’t going to change how we feel during this holiday”.  Right then Dennis returned from the restroom and said, “Did I miss anything”?  “I want to apologize to all of you for my arrogance.  I truly didn’t want to offend or make anyone here feel ….”.  I didn’t want to sound condescending. I took one more drink and placed a $100.00 bill on the bar and began to get up to put on my coat when the woman spoke up.  “I too don’t want to speak for everyone but I have quite enjoyed your story and speaking as the only woman I can tell you that I prefer that you didn’t give us every suck stroke or bite that took place with these women.  It only demeans them and I’m sure whatever your intentions were this evening is that you never really wanted to do just that”.

A few more minutes went by as I stood there waiting for some kind of sign from anyone still with my coat draped over my arm.  Finally my friend said, “I guess we really don’t have to hear the explicit details”.  I looked at my watch.  It was 11:00, which meant another hour until last call.  I placed my coat over the stool and sat back down and began with,  “Let me just say that she was a great Litigator and she managed to convince our new friend to enjoy the amenities that only both sexes could offer.  Truth be told, anything that any of you could imagine might actually than any the real story that I could share.  Perhaps you would like to hear about my first lover, Miss October”?

Christiana was the second person that I asked out to one of my weekends and she is perhaps my closest friend as well.  “Destination”?  The group nearly sang in unison.  “New York, New York.   This was our usual location because of our consensual love for the Theatre.  We generally catch the hottest play but this year we went with an oldie but goodie, “Glengarry, Glen Ross”.  It was our very first play and we were both in the mood to feel a little younger that weekend.  She had just had a fight with her oldest daughter, Carla about her mother’s unconventional relationship with me.  Her husband, Carl even tried to lend his support calling me an old friend but that only infuriated her more.  I could tell she was feeling guilty but I didn’t want to push the subject.  She’s my regular hairdresser and the reason that I had met Chris.  After the play we went out instead of going back to our room and I asked her straight out, “would you like to take a break from all this”?  Much to my surprise she said “Yes”.  That was the first time that I had even considered taking a hiatus from this kind of life.  As usual she was the first to entertain a different possible future and it scared me as much as when I began these trips a dozen years ago.

“How do you usually communicate with all these people during the rest of your year”?, the younger man spoke up.  “The same way that all of you communicate as you say with any of your friends.  I text them, phone them and on occasion have lunch with them”.  “If you had to choose only one, who would that be”?  The lady had asked.  This was by far the toughest question that I had been asked so far.  “If you had asked me this last year I would have said that it’s like asking one of you to choose your favorite child.  It can’t be answered.”  “But I’m not asking this last year, I’m asking it tonight”.  I smiled at her, while considering my next move.  “Let me tell you about Miss November first”.  That kept everyone temporarily quiet.  I proceeded.

“Gina is her name”.  It got extremely quiet.  “I met her online”.  “Online?  You already had a full compliment of people in your life and you needed to complicate it a little more”.  “I’d never gone online to find someone and I was intrigued by what I might find”.  “You’re beginning to sound arrogant again”.  My good friend reminded me.  “I digress.  We’ve had our weekends going on seven years but I certainly haven’t felt the itch to stop seeing her…,especially her”.  “So you do have a favorite right now”, she said almost self-congratulating herself.  Again I smiled.  “Perhaps I do.  Our visits have become more frequent lately”.  “More weekends”?  “No just lunches and a couple of dinners.  I purposely chose the weekend after Thanksgiving so that we could spend three days rather two together in downtown Chicago”.  “Married”?, asked the boyfriend.  “No but she did have a serious boyfriend”.  “Occupation”?  asked the younger man.  “She is an Arabic Translator who works for a Private Contractor.”  “That in itself must be an interesting story”?, surprisingly asked from Dennis.  “It probably is however I won’t be able to tell you much since we generally don’t discuss it much.  All I know is she translates the chatter that takes place on chat boards for the government through her employer”.

“So, why the extra day”?, asked the woman.  “Well I love being in Chicago at the start of the holiday shopping season and an extra day with her was just what the doctor ordered for this bizarre year.  “Did you have other intentions for this particular weekend”?, asked my friend.  “I may have”.  “Is she the reason why you wanted to take a break from your routine”?, the boyfriend jumped in.  “Partially.  I knew that it would be a stretch but I planned on asking her if we could try to be more exclusive”.  “That must have been scary?  What happened”?, asked the bartender as he also mentioned that it would have to be last call for alcohol, which meant one more round for everyone.  “What happened was I was too late”!  “Her boyfriend”?  “Yes! You could say that”!  “I just did”!, replied the bartender while he was serving everyone their final drink.  “What happened”?  I had my drink first, I guess because I was the star attraction and swallowed half of it before I continued.  “Well, it started when she was called into work.  There was some unusual chatter they told her and they needed her help translating what may have been an unusual message.  She arrived and they took her into a small and dark room that wasn’t her office. 

She sat down and they gave her the text from the chatter.  Most of it sounded like normal chatter.  There was the usual anti-American rhetoric and a couple of discussions about possible terrorist scenarios.  Frankly she didn’t understand what the urgency was.  Then it did get strange.  It appeared to be a love letter but it wasn’t translating very neatly.  It read a little like a bad romance novel and it’s author seemed to want to stay anonymous.  As she listened she thought about her life and the two men that she felt most comfortable with.  Then it got really eerie.  He spoke of his time together at a lake house similar to the one that her boyfriend, Geoff and she had a recent weekend in.  Then he spoke of their conversation about how he’d like to make this weekend last a lifetime and then he finished with a corny yet effective poem.  “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, My Life won’t be complete, Unless it’s spent with you”!  The message ended.  She had never seen anything quite like this before but she thought deeply about her own life and she knew that perhaps it was time to settle down. 

She stood up and left the room, turning the light off behind failing to realize that the hallway was dark.  She made her way down the dark hall putting her against the wall and moving very slowly.  Then someone must have realized and they turned on the light and standing there were several of her colleagues.  She was surprised at first, but she nearly jumped out of her clothes when she felt a hand upon her shoulder.  She almost screamed and when she saw Geoff standing there she wanted to slap him hard in the face. That is before she saw the box in his right hand.  “How romantic”, said the women.  “Yes, it sure is”, her boyfriend agreed.  I looked at her and said, “Who’s side are you on”?  This brought a little bit of levity to the group.  “So the cat wanted to finally get out of his cage and spend some time with his prey”, so said my smartass friend on the end.  “How do you feel about this friend”?  “A part of me is very happy for my friend and yet another part, the selfish one is still feeling the sting of my prey as   you might have said”.  “We’re all sorry for you man”, said my new young friend a couple stools away.  I’m sorry for the American Taxpayer”, said Dennis.  “Thanks everyone”.  This night didn’t turn out too bad after all”, laughed my new friend.  “Seriously, thanks for keeping us entertained and for confirming our suspicions that there isn’t a Santa Clause”.

“Alright everyone as much fun as this has been, you all have to go somewhere else so I can get back home to my family”, announced the bartender.  Everyone in unison took one last drink and began to gather their belongings.  The first person to approach me was Dennis who leaned in real close a gave me a kiss on the forehead and said, “Please forgive this cranky old queer”.  He walked right out the bar as the rest of us except the bartender had the look of shock and awe.  One by one the rest of them said their goodbyes and told me to not be a stranger.  “Yea we’d like to see you at least one weekend a year”, said the lady.  Her boyfriend shook my hand and told me to hang in there.  “I will”.  Finally being the last one there, the bartender told me to have a Merry Christmas.  “You too”.  Once out of the bar I looked straight up into the light snowflakes falling from the sky.  It was a beautiful scene up and down the nearly deserted street.  A couple of honks of the horn and everyone was really gone for the night.   Too drunk to drive and warm enough from the alcohol to walk a mile and a half back to my place, on I went toward the moonlight never to return.               

Will the Best Woman for the Job, Please Stand In

 

“All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy”, is a quote from a famous movie that portrayed a man who developed cabin fever and then tried to kill his family at an isolated resort in the mountains.  What does this have to do with this story?  It is my contention that we are at a breaking point within our society and that the men in charge are on the verge of a complete mental break down.  There seems to be no rhyme or reason for the path that this country and planet are headed.  From the climate change deniers to those in charge who believe that eves dropping on our every move will help to prevent a precious few from attacking many more innocent lives.  Politicians are more polarized, businesses more greedy and some of the people that we idolize are in need of a serious attitude adjustment.  One of the things that most of these people have in common is a propensity to carry testosterone without a permit.  They’re men and too proud of it.  May I just say that if women were in charge than things would be vastly improved?  Why the question mark?  Because it’s never gonna be a reality in our or any other time in the near or very far future. 

Maybe I’m going about this the wrong way?  Perhaps we should actually go back to the good old days, when the husband was the bread winner and the Mrs. was a stay at home mom whose only job was raising their kids.  Life was simpler, kids were well behaved and society had a more civil tone. Neighbors were friends and co-workers helped one another and the many people that we looked up to were cops, firefighters and the community preacher, father, bishop and any other religious leader.  Sure there was some civil unrest but there were rules even for those who protested against the status quo.  Then came some changes.  African Americans fought for their rights and soon thereafter so did the lady folk.  They all wanted to be treated as equals in their own society.  How crazy was that.  Soon everyone wanted the same jobs and responsibilities that had been bestowed to the good white man who had been in charge of just about everything possibly since the beginning of time if you believe those who follow scripture.  Now I know what the smart ones out there are thinking, that the early days of our existence was ruled by a dark skin people and you would be right.  Perhaps things didn’t really become a mess until the Europeans and then the Americans were in charge of babysitting the planet.

There is one important truth that holds these times together that is an undeniable fact and that is the humans in charge were all humans that pee standing up.  It is my believe that the farther the stream can go from the body without using any hands, the more they believe that they are supposed/entitled to be in a position of authority.  Sophomoric assertions aside it is my belief that this world right now would be in better hands if women were running everything.  Countries, Corporations as well as the oldest profession in the world, Religion, no part of society should be immune to their immediate presence.  Why not give them a chance.  They couldn’t possibly do any worse than the men have done for some time.  What additional harm could they do to the planet and it’s inhabitants?

So what good could come from letting the ladies lead us all from temptation?  First of all if everything were run by the “Y” chromosome then we would instantly feel more at peace with ourselves. Greed would suddenly feel neither a necessity nor a privilege.  Corruption would have no place in our lives.  This isn’t just conjecture but it must be a bold fact!  Criminals could be rehabilitated by nurturing rather than the brutal and cruel slow death that are currently the way that most inmates are subjected to.  They will go back to their pathetic lives with the same crowd, usually men and continue a certain dissent that often ends up heading toward an inevitable dead end.  With women we want to please rather than just proof how strong we can be.  Real strength is shown in our vulnerabilities.  Women are usually never afraid to show this where men would deny it in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

All women are good and all men are evil?  I wish it could be just that simple but like much of what I write truth be told are just simple stereotypes with a small touch of truth built in for my protection.  If all men are bad then how have we come so far in just a few centuries under the hand of man?  The same thing that makes a lot of men so unappealing for me is also what makes them at times quite brilliant.  Men could still show us the way but under the watchful and thoughtful eye of a woman to make sure that the newest brilliant invention doesn’t have to be used for any spying, military or any other resource necessary to make a man feel safe.

Women are too emotional?  Yes and that is especially why I would want them in charge during a tense confrontation.  Have you ever been screamed at by your mother for some foolish thing that you or the old man had done.  The phone rings, she picks it up and you had thought that there was a different person speaking on the phone than the one who just threatened to take you out of this world just a few and the next she sounds like Mrs. Cleaver from “Leave it to Beaver”.  Yes that’s the kind of tough lady that I want in charge and who knows how to stay calm even when they are facing a crisis in the next room.  Women have always shown restraint where men felt too threatened of their manhood to just let something go for a better opportunity. 

Women lack the kind of ego to really get the job done?  Women have never needed to use their ego for anything especially to get the job done.  When a leader is egoless, then there is less pressure on the subordinates to feel threatened by their talents.  The real world could handle this kind of change without a disaster in the making.  Even the chauvinists would eventually come around.  The real Taboo would be religion even by a majority of women.  The more traditional one is the harder sell it would be to let the fairer sex take on centuries of being the lesser sex in scripture and during the entire course of time.  Even if the religious side never comes around, this planet could still move in a more positive direction without man running the mom and mom shops or dictating from a podium.

In closing, “All Play and No Work, makes Jack a Naughty Boy”!  What happens to man if he has no power or a need to lead?  Will he find time for mischievous behavior and perhaps try like hell to sabotage our society to succeed with women in charge.  My only answer was who did you respect more growing up, mom or dad?  While you may have feared dad more, the real respect came for a mother who ran the house and may have had to use the threat of force but in the end, loved us into making the right decision.  I Love my father but I especially Love and Respect my mother and that is precisely who I would want to work my hardest for.        

My Strange(r) Ideas for a Reality TV Series

>The Clean-up Channel-Where we see what the crews must go through to pickup, clean-up after all of the more famous Celebrity Chef hosts.  Scrubbing the grills, cleaning the counters, washing the dishes and mopping the floors just to name a few of their responsibilities.  There will be tension toward the hosts as well as a need to get the set ready in time for the next taped episode.

  • The First vs. The Second Amendment.  Each half hour episode will consist of an argument being made by someone defending “Freedom of Speech” usually taking the opening 28-29 minutes followed by a quick and inarticulate response along with the firing of a different type of gun, killing the Liberal.  The judges will determine that the firearm is stronger than the pen and declare the Second Amendment as the Big Winner each and every week.
  • “Divorce Wars”, where we follow around an ordinary couple going through a simple custody battle for their only child.  Hilarity will ensue as we see all of the false allocations and unnecessary drama that burdens everyone as well as a dysfunctional court system that usually makes things much worse.
  • From the makers of “Toddlers and Tiaras”, comes the exciting & competitive world of adolescent bowling called “Spares & Strikes”  From the pressure put on by the coaches to the burden placed on the children by the parents because of their need to fulfill something that was truly missing from their childhood.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you will experience as much excitement as converting a 7-10 spare.
  •  “The Price is Wrong” follows a group of shoppers who question everything that they buy with the checkout person.  “From an honest mistake by the store to an outright lie by one of the contestant, they will have you on the edge of your seat to see what they can really get away with before the manager is called to aisle 8.
  • On the Retro Channel, there will be “What’s in the Picture”.  Located in a dark room, where we find an old container of film and during each fifteen minute segment we will all watch with anticipation to see what the image is as the developer uses all of his skills to bring to life a spectacular visual experience.  Will it be in black & White or in Photo chrome(color).
  • “Card Wars” takes to the stressful world of the greeting card empires.  We will follow three of the biggies as they try and con/create a new, made up holiday in the same way that “Sweetest Day’ was thrown onto the consumer.  This holiday will be scheduled for June 25th, which is exactly six months before Christmas.  When an organized group of protesters call “Occupy Holidays” shows up to argue that it is too close to the Independence Day holiday but in the end they lose the debate when someone notices that there is even less time between Xmas and the New Years holiday.
  • On the Discovery channel comes the ups and downs of “The Hardup Junkies”.  Where we find a different couple searching for the right formula to a happy marriage through the use of several male enhancement products.
  • “The Ultimate Reality”, will be a show dedicated to dispelling the wives tales and just outright lies of our favorite stories of fantasy.  You will meet the real “Toothfairy”, an actual Easter Bunny and the season finale will find a Professional Wrestler who competes for real and is not actually choreographed for television.
  • For the sports enthusiast we will have “Tic Tac Toe” but with a twist.  It will be on a split screen, where on one side will be an exciting game of tic-tac-toe by two very talented competitors and on the other screen will be paint drying.
  • Finally we will explore the real intensity of the genre known as Reality TV in a show simply named “Reality Television”.  “Where studio executives try to come up with the next sure thing in television programming.  The pressure will have you begging for relief when the final decisions are announced in a special two week long series of shows with only 45 minutes every hour of commercials for each of the ten episodes concluding with a very special three hour finale to announce the big winners.
  • Some ideas that did not make the cut include, “It’s a Cruel World After All”.  Where we follow the super rich and are horrified by a no body who actually says “No”! to one of their less offensive requests.  This show never really had much of a chance because the Super rich’s lawyers were involved too often making any chance that a reality of this nature could ever occur even if it is for a scripted reality series.
  • Another rejected idea that had to be nixed because of a protest by a Union, was called “Priority Mail”.  It followed letter carriers on their routes trying to speedy and accurate in their delivery but the Union had a problem with painting their employees in such a favorable light and thus the series really had no chance of making it’s delivery to our homes.
  • The Cartoon Channel decided not to create a reality show based on some of your favorite characters on the air.  There is some talk of bringing a Daytime talk show interviewing those same celebrities to life that might be hosted & called “The Yogi and Boo Boo Variety Show”  The first episode will speak with two icons and their addiction to Growth Hormone Spinach (Popeye) and those pills that (Underdog) was taking whenever he needed a little pick-me-up.
  • The Education channel was going to have a weekly writing competition but the network couldn’t find enough talent to have even an abbreviated six-episode season, so they be stopping Production.
  • The Comedy Channel wanted to do a reality series entitled “Comedy & Tragedy” but when they found out that every comedian was both Bi-Polar and dysfunctional they had to give it up because all prospects had said “been there, done that”.  One subject spoke out saying they already have a show dedicated to their crazy world and that was also known as “The 10 o’clock news”.
  • “Generation N”, would have followed seven teenagers and their everyday life on the Social Media.  Much to the surprise of the Creators they found these self-absorbed little primadonna’s were too hard to control and wanted to change every aspect of the show so it had to be blocked.
  • And finally there was the doomed from the very beginning show called “Billing Department’ but this one never got past the Pilot episode because the audience couldn’t find a single person that they could relate or find sympathy for.