Lucidity

“Once upon a time, long ago, humanity was merged with the mind. Folks gathered and thought, new wisdom sought, for ideas to change mankind. But at the end of the day when the darkness gave way, those ideas were hidden high on a shelf. The mind divided and torn, despairing, forlorn, as life became all about self.” JSM

I believe there’s an innate feeling in each of us to help, assist, or be a helper in some capacity. I believe we want to help others, but something blocks our view and obstructs us from seeing that within ourselves. Sometimes we know it’s there, yet it’s repressed and covered up or ignored altogether.

I think it’s deeply rooted and buried inside. “I want to help. I need to help, yet… there’s something in the way.”

Imposter Syndrome. Who the Hell am I? What do I have to offer? What could I possibly do for them? I’m a nobody…

“Sorry, I’m probably not the right person to be asking for assistance. I wouldn’t be able to help you.”

Whew! Dodged that bullet.

Please don’t ask me. I don’t have the time for this.

“Oh, you want ME to look it over and provide an opinion?… Ummm… I don’t think I’m the guy for the job.” Then we feel down on ourselves, because we could have added our two cents in, feeling confident the advice was sound, but didn’t.

Sometimes it’s just good ‘ol’ plain and simple selfishness.

I’ve done enough today. If I’m going to expend anymore energy… it’s going to be spent on me. I know my estranged friend needs help. She’ll be ok until tomorrow. I wonder what’s new on Instagram?

I hear your subtle cries for help loud and clear but wait a minute. I have to post this comment, and check my emails.

I do it. You do it. We all do it and we all know everyone does it, however, I think it should be the other way around. Because I too am guilty of this, as 2017 looms around the corner, I will be making attempts to radically change that selfish variable within me. 2016 was an epic year on a deeply personal level, even spiritual, and I am determined to make 2017 even better. If I have any resolutions for the upcoming year, it’s not only to do better with my money (I’m stupid with money) but it’s also devoted to the continuance of becoming a better person.

It took a long time for me to realize that when someone asks me for assistance, it’s for a specific reason; despite what the reason might be. Sometimes I’m the last resort. The one picked at the end. The choice when all other choices have been exhausted.

Sometimes I’m the first one asked or chosen to undergo a task. When a family member needs wood cut, split, stacked or brought to the stove to start a good fire? I’m that person asked. When a friend needs help moving, I get a phone call. When my daughter wants something she wrote to be read out loud and help fix some things, it falls in my hands. If I can’t figure it out on my own, Google works well. I’ve been a sounding board to countless folks in my circle. Sometimes simply nothing more than a person to bounce ideas with, or an open ear and mind to discuss the events of life complications.

When I get a text to discuss current affairs, I do my best to help and communicate. When a family member was hurting and walking a narrow ledge, I was the one called to help them climb back down and find safety. When my kid’s friends needed respite and a safe harbor from troublesome realities, I was the one contacted. When crisis reared it’s ugly head, I fought it back tooth and nail to the best of my ability.

I know my purpose(s) in life on this current leg of the journey. I’m not a professional or overly educated in anything, but I won’t ever deny myself what I believe I’m supposed to do; even the trivial. I can’t fathom my destiny, but I understand my role and position in regards to those around me in the here and now. I can only live by my own experiences.

I want to help. I need to help. There’s a part of me that wants to assist others, within my relegated boundaries of mediocre knowledge. But because I have zero expertise in anything (other than science fiction factoids and comic book superhero origin stories), I have always felt like I had nothing to offer. Imposter Syndrome. Who the Hell am I?

I’m a nobody… just a piece of dust in a vast endless universe.

Rising above that mentality will always be a part of me. It’s a never ending daily struggle. I am doing better though, despite the long, winding, confusing path.

It’s my path. I intend to walk it despite the trials and tribulations. I will strive to be a positive beacon and do right by others despite my own ineptitude, struggles, complications faults and ignorance. I will walk this path until it takes me elsewhere. My path through 2016 has been a struggle, but so very rewarding.

Six years ago, the idea of helping others was disturbing to me. Lending a helping hand to anyone in need was a foreign concept.

Help was nowhere to be found, from my point of view, and the boat was sinking fast. All the life vests were gone and the sharks were waiting; circling the debris. On the horizon, a storm of chaos hovered and was on a collision course. No where to go, but down.

Luckily, my path led me to Joe Everett.

>>Thank you for reading and following along. If you happen to be new to, Tales of the Chronicles, here is the link to the beginning. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email. Please give it a like, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

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A Boy and His Lobster

“Swallowing our pride is sometimes necessary, but leaves such a bitter taste.” JSM

I was early to the meeting spot.

He was the one who arrived late.

I waited in the gas station parking lot until 10:20, before deciding to leave. I slumped my head back against the seat, sighing at the dome light above me. I knew this was a mistake. Just one mistake after another. You should have gone to family, Dumb Dumb.

This is life.

As I pulled onto the dark empty street to venture onward and alone, to places unknown, lights from a motorist shone through the glass and I slammed on the brake. The dog barked once as the stranger pulled alongside my car and rolled his window down.

He never exchanged pleasantries with me, or initiated an introduction. Bypassed all conventional standard greetings. He sat in the seat looking straight forward, both hands on the steering wheel, while waiting for me to follow suit and roll my window down. His face hidden in shadows and his voice was low.

“Follow me. We’ll be on the road for about twenty minutes.” He proceeded to roll the window back up, not bothering to wait for my reply or my intrusive questions, and the shadow man stepped on the gas and sped away from the parking lot.

OK… looks like were taking a trip.

At this point, you are so far out of your league… what the Hell are you doing? Following strangers in the dark?

Hey… what do you have to lose?

Good point.

I followed close, without tailgating. We traveled side roads, taking sharp lefts and rights, wandering fire-roads, passing farms and pastures, and the last leg of the trail seemed to narrow to the width of a walking path before we reached our destination. At the end of the rocky rugged trail, the trees to either side opened and widened into a clearing, revealing a paved lot with two vehicles parked at the far corner.

He pulled into a marked off space and I parked my car beside his. Before switching the headlights off, I caught a glimpse of a shortened steeple at the peak of a white, one story roof. Is this a church?

Oh, no. I’m about to be initiated in a cult of some kind. Fire up the car and get out of here. Middle of nowhere?

Yup… you’re about to get involved in something you’ll never bounce back from.

Shield’s up!!

The man walked away in a brisk stride, climbed the stairs two at a time, pulled open one of the double doors providing entrance to the structure, and left me at the car.

Instead of following the stranger, I turned my attention to the mutt. I withdrew the large, bulky, space taking items from the backseat of the car and placed them beside the wheels on the tarred pavement. Once a big enough space had been cleared, I spread a blanket across the cushions and called Shelby to the back seat. She crawled over the arm rest, spun four times in one spot and dropped into the soft material with a grunt.

“I don’t know how long this will take. I’ll be out as soon as I can.” I scratched her ears and she licked her nose.

I rolled the windows down a few inches, locked the doors with the remote, kept my stare on the building with my hands stuffed deep in my pockets, and started my climb up the stairs to the front of the church.

When I pulled open the door, the fresh scent of cooked seafood wafted past me and my mouth watered. I couldn’t distinguish what the aroma was from, but I knew it was seafood. A hint of lemon. A scent of sea salt. The interior was muggy, but not unbearable.

The space had the feel of a church; a dome-like cathedral ceiling cross-crossed with posted timbers, but the area was devoid of pews. A wide open empty room. No podium. No elevated stage. No statues or art. Nothing indicative of religion, or religious practices.

The carpet was tan and squishy under my feet and the windows surrounding the inside were covered in quotes.

On the back wall, a banner hung from two hooks. Black hand painted words spread across a white background.

“From the errors of others, a wise man corrects his own.–Publilius Syrus.”

When I brought my eyes from the wall banner, Joseph Everett was standing at the center of a long wooden table, arms crossed high over an Iron Man tee-shirt, and placed on the table under him were two settings for food. Only two chairs at the table; one for him, and directly across from the host, was mine.

Joseph was an elderly man, guessing mid seventies. He head was bald but with a few gray  random patches, hair sprouting from both ears, the hands speckled with age spots, and he had a slight hunch to his back as he stood silent at the table. I approached him slow and rigid, one slow foot in front of the other and he waved me forward, “Oh, come on now. Quit being such a sissy. Get over here and have a seat, will ya. Damn, son. You’re making me nervous.”

My shaking hand reached to the padded wooden chair and I pulled it from under the table, “What is this place, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Oh, this?” He looked around the room and over his shoulder to what I assumed was the kitchen door, “This is a place for respite.”

“Respite?”

“Somewhere to take a breather. A refuge of sorts. What you don’t understand, Jeremy, is Officer Clark already called me. He told you he’d call in the morning. He phoned me just after he let you go. He got a hold of me, told me all about you, and I waited. I knew you’d call.”

“Really? How exactly did you know? I almost didn’t call. Everything within me told me no.”

He leaned forward and pointed a quivering finger at me squeezing one eye shut, “Ah… but you did.”

Getoutgetoutgetoutgetoutgetout. My mind raced to make sense of it all.

Nope, nothing. Nothing about this makes sense.

“You’re a lucky guy,” He removed the cloth napkin from the surface of the table, unfolded it with extended pinky finger, and draped it across his thigh. “Officer Clark doesn’t just do that for anyone. He knew though. He told me everything I needed to know about you.”

I dropped the napkin in my lap and caught his stare, “Can you please tell me what that is? I didn’t tell him much about me.”

“Oh, sure, of course. You were born in 1975, around Thanksgiving. You’re an organ donor. You have children and they’re the most important thing in this world to you, and you have boxes of their stuff on the floor of your car. You’re employed with a company that works in a helper capacity. You obviously have a dog and the animal is in your possession during the separation and your impending divorce. You’re looking for a place to live and have no idea what to do next. You’re lost. Confused. Emotional. Half crazy. Am I close?”

I laughed out loud and my outburst bounced off the walls around us. “Crazy, yeah, you can say that.”

“See, I know more about you than you think. It’s what I don’t know, that’s lead you here tonight.”

I leaned back, dropped my shoulders, and cocked my head to the side. I didn’t have a reply. Only a deep unblinking stare into his twitching glossy eyes. I snapped away from his face and looked around the room again. He cleared his throat and coughed once into the crook of his elbow.

“You like lobster, son?”

“It’s OK, I guess.”

“There. There’s one more thing I now know about you. Jeremy guesses he likes lobster. Now… before she comes out and gives us more food than we can possibly eat, I want you to tell me ten more things I don’t know about you. I don’t care how insignificant, tiny, pathetic or life altering, ten more things. Go.” He held up both hands and I pondered my response.

“I like pizza.” He dropped a finger. “I grew up near a farm.” Another digit fell. “I like snowboarding at Sugarloaf, but haven’t been there for many years. I enjoy winter, and suffer through summer. I was raised in a religious home. I was bullied in school. I didn’t have many friends, but the ones I had, are the ones I still have. I enjoy amusement parks. I don’t drink alcohol anymore, but love a strong cup of coffee. I can work from home…”

“That’s ten,” He lowered both hands to the table. “In actuality, it was fourteen.”

“How so?”

“I didn’t know you suffer through summer. Or that you hadn’t been to Sugarloaf in many years. That you’re still connected to friends from your youth. Your love for coffee. You told me more than I asked for. And for that I want to thank you.”

“You’re welcome?” I scrunched up my face and tried not to smile.

I’m the crazy one?

“You told me fourteen things about yourself, and guessing you like lobster, makes fifteen. I will only tell you one thing about myself. Just one. But it’s a little long,” He looked to his calculator watch and raised his eyes to mine.

“When I was a kid, my father bought lobster every Sunday after church. When the lobster was brought home, it was alive and well, tail twitching, antennae shifting around, it’s rubber banded claws flapping about and out of nowhere, my father would place the creature on the cutting board and drive a steak knife down through the top of it’s head; killing it instantly. His justification; it was more ethical that way, than being slowly boiled to death. Once the lobsters lay dead on the kitchen counter, he’d then stuff them into the boiling water to cook. As a youngster, I was appalled, and developed empathy for the creature. I’d find myself staring into it’s eyes, trying to think on what it was thinking, wondering if it could find it’s way home to the sea on it’s own.

“As a result, over the years, I’d try to save the lobster and sneak them outside when he wasn’t looking. I was able to get away with it, sometimes, and never revealed their location around the property, but when I got caught trying to save the living from death, or if I refused to tell dad where they were, I was punished for wasting money by releasing perfectly good food into nature. Discarding the lobster into the woods, where it could escape, was grounds for punishment. Some of my worst whoopings came from trying to do, what I believed, was the right thing to do. What I didn’t really know though, what I couldn’t understand, is I wasn’t doing the animal any good. I’d set them free to die anyway. Nature, exposure, predators. They were out of their element. He tried to drive that into my head for quite a number of years. Something inside me refused to listen.

“I’d just take the beatings and keep trying to do the right thing.”

I crossed my arms and he cleared his throat again. He continued. “My father taught me the lesson the hard way. I had the sore ass to prove it. Yet, I remained so defiant. I’d hear the words, ‘this is what the lobster is for. It’s made for us to eat, to provide us with some nutrients, it’s purpose is to die, or to crawl across the ocean floor until it’s natural death or it succumbs to an underwater attacker. This is the animal’s destiny.’

“I never listened to him… Of course, as I got older, I developed a thick skin about it and eventually came to enjoy the taste of lobster and I now have it quite often. Yet so many years wasted in complete defiance. Fighting the rules. Ignoring the truth. I wanted my thoughts to be my own. I made it my mission in those days to be a hero and set them free.

“My heart was in the right place, but everything else was elsewhere. My mind said don’t do it. My gut said go for it, despite all the punishment and knowing what was to come. I didn’t care. I ran on instinct. It wasn’t until I thought it through, did I realize I was making a mistake.”

“But was it a mistake? Don’t we try to do, what we believe is the right thing, regardless of the outcome? Regardless of the punishment?”

“Yes, but should we also consider all the variables and then make the decision based on all the factors? Should we run on instinct only? Or should we think it through? Lobster is a delicacy. It’s a feast. It’s some of the most sought after food. Folks pay high prices for it. I never considered it to be anything other than alive. I never contemplated any other variable. I allowed my heart to lead the way.”

 The kitchen door swung open and the fresh scent breezed across the table. Joseph Everett folded his hands on the tabletop and smiled, “It’s almost done. We’re in for a feast.”

>>Thank you for reading and following along. If you happen to be new to, Tales of the Chronicles, here is the link to the beginning. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email. Please give it a like, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

Journey’s End

-That’s all she wrote.-

The end.

Life as I knew it, was officially done.  Game over.

Well… almost over.

*****

That night, I felt I’d reached the pinnacle of madness. Nothing made sense anymore. I was locked up and trapped in a labyrinthine prison of my own making. I tried to think three steps ahead and found myself instead retreating, and falling four steps behind. A trillion ideas and thoughts rattled around upstairs, however, I was incapable of locking onto a single one. Each thought I did manage to grasp a hold of made me dizzy and weak, and I’d eventually allow it to slip away within a second or two.

Maybe I did hit that level. Rock bottom. A little “crazy” if you will, but maybe I didn’t.

In hindsight, perhaps I was fully sane. Perspective is always reality. Maybe there truly wasn’t anything actually “wrong” with me and my abstract thinking. Life had been moving so fast over such a short period of time, I couldn’t keep up. At this point, I was so far behind, I couldn’t even hope to catch up to it, let alone keep pace.

For some reason, my consciousness made a decision (without my permission) to journey to a location, that moves back and forth between the wide open doorways separating fantasy and reality.

A forced coping mechanism I didn’t see coming. A complete blindside.

I was confused, scared, and hopelessly lost. The only thing keeping me grounded was the idea I was still upright and breathing.

Everything I owned was housed in three different locations separated by miles of distance, and in the morning, I’d be homeless. Terrified, and shaking from head to toe, because I wouldn’t have a place for my children to rest their heads while in my presence.

If you’ve ever been there… I sympathize. It’s overwhelming to the point of agony.

Having been accustomed to full time access to the kids, during the Old Life, it was bad enough having that time forcefully chopped in half, and even worse not knowing if you’d have a home for them in the future.

The back seat and trunk of the car, contained the immediate necessities for day to day living. The dog sat beside me in the passenger seat whining, and darting her focus out each window.

My hands were clutched around the steering wheel in the ten and two positions. The whitened tips of my fingers burrowed into the leather material surrounding it, digging, massaging and picking away at the frayed edges.

I couldn’t catch my breath.

The inner voice instructed me to activate the hazard lights and the moment the voice spoke, I reached to the dashboard, pressed the button, and my hand shot back to the steering wheel as though they were magnetized.

The white haze of the fog surrounding the parked car, bounced and reflected the yellow flashing hazards around the immediate area of the vehicle, creating a blurry, pulsating blinking bubble of dim golden light and my vision was reduced to feet. My eyes couldn’t penetrate the circling hovering mist.

The only sounds were the dog panting and Led Zeppelin playing through the speakers.

And the thumping of my racing heart pounding in my ears.

All that existed was the Demon Tree standing before me, illuminated bright in the high beams, Shelby the loyal companion, and everything within my little bubble of insanity.

Here’s the funny thing about hitting that place of madness. You have zero idea what to do, or how to proceed. At that point, it all becomes organic and automatic. Thoughts and actions are overrun by something else, conjured from deep within. Something primal. Something out of control. Something… not normal.

I’ve mentioned in previous installments the fact I’m not a violent person. I’d rather talk it out, than have unnecessary conflict. This one evening, however, was different.

Sure, I can spell out my actions that night in the field. I can chat about that Hell spawn Demon Tree, what I said to it out of anger and the number of times I kicked the tires of the car, or how many times I screamed inside the bubble, but I won’t. Some things are better kept private.

But boy oh boy did I give those inanimate objects a piece of my mind. I sure showed them who was boss. At the end of the aggressive rant, they knew who they were dealing with. If the tree had a way to respond to my words, it probably would have walked off a cliff.

If the almighty was sitting on his throne, focusing his attention on me that night, he would have frowned, waggled a finger in my direction and shook his head in disappointment. “Tsk, tsk, tsk.”

Once the last of the tears were wiped away, and I felt myself calming down, my mind snapped back to the moment and I planted my backside at the base of the tree. I was exhausted. Eyes red and puffy. I felt like a dried out husk. I knew if I didn’t sit for a spell, I’d more than likely collapse from expended energy.

Shelby and I sat under the leaves of that menacing evil tree, and tried to relax.

I could have continued on the path to my family that night. I could have easily opened the door to the car and driven the two thousand feet around the corner. I was so close to that place of familiarity, and the safety of loved ones who could comfort me in my time of need… yet, I didn’t. Something was incomplete.

A nagging gnawing urge clawed at my psyche to take the initiative for once. I needed to regain control.

“What do you think, Shelbers. Should I do it?”

She dropped her paw on my arm, and licked the slobber from her drooping jowls.

“That’s what I thought.” She always knew what to say when the time was appropriate.

I reached into my back pocket and withdrew my wallet. Tucked behind a singular dollar bill was the business card Officer Clark handed me not an hour before. I turned the card over and over looking for any details other than his name and number but it was blank, and devoid of any information. “Okay… let’s give it a try.”

No… it’s late. 9:57 on a work night? If you call, it might piss him off. Officer Hulk said he’d do the leg work in the morning. What are you doing?

The only thing that makes sense right now. Deal with it!

The phone rang seven times as I rested my head against the Demon Tree, staring into it’s lit up branches. This is a mistake.

No it isn’t… be cool.

When the man answered the phone, he never said hello. All I could hear through the receiver was breathing, and smacking of the lips. Then silence.

“Did he hang up on me?” I asked out loud to the dog and Shelby perked up to the sound of a motorist moving slow down the street.

“No! I didn’t hang up! Who is this anyway?” The smacking stopped. Maybe he was eating dinner…

I didn’t know how to respond. His reply caught me off guard. The voice seemed angry. “Ummm… I’m sorry to call you so late. Is this, Joseph Everett?”

“I asked you who you are. Do you have a name? Don’t leave me hanging, son. Speak up.”

“Y–yes. Yes, sir. Jeremy. My name is, Jeremy.”

“Are you sure about that? You seem uncertain. Don’t be giving me any false names now. Got it?!”

“Yes. I got it. My name’s, Jeremy, sir. Again, I apologize for the late call.”

Sounds like my grandfather for crying out loud. I suppressed a smile while momentary silence hung between us.

He broke through the quiet stalemate, “Let me guess. Got yourself in some trouble, and don’t know the way out.”

“You could say that.”

“Where are you?”

“I’m about ten minutes north of the capitol.”

“Damn it. All ready for bed and some sexy time with the missus, and some young punk screws it all up. Son of a bitch!” He pulled the phone from his face and yelled, “Jessica, get a pot ready! We’re going to have some company. Yes! It’ll probably be a late night, again.” He spoke back to me. “You know where the gas station is on, Vikkery Lane? Beside Papa’s Diner and Deli?”

“I do.”

“Meet me there in fifteen minutes, and do NOT make me wait.”

>>Thank you for reading and following along. If you happen to be new to, Tales of the Chronicles, here is the link to the beginning. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email. Please give it a like, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

The Starting Line

We read in ancient texts and fragmented stories, of a lonely adventurer. A person armed with only an idea, embarking on a great trek across a dangerous wilderness filled with unrelenting peril. Forced to endure personal trials that tear at the fabric of sanity.

Draped across the body, the weary traveler is covered in thin furs which were sewn together by their tired hands. Hanging loose at the hip, a sharpened knife for food and protection.  A small leather bag hangs down the back prepared with only bare necessities. An empty canteen draped over one shoulder dangling by a thin leather strap, and a smooth walking stick clutched in a firm grip. Perhaps the traveler walks the path barefoot; unshaven, unkempt, half starved, exhausted, alone.

Enduring a life altering struggle through vast territories. On a long arduous voyage; be it for self betterment or maybe seeking the cure for a terminal illness for a dying child. A journey of the mind, and/or body, whether for spiritual awakening, or a test of physical endurance.

They seek the opening of the third eye or a connection with the meta physical (in some accounts), or a religious excursion, and the seeker desires to know more than what they already know. A means to an end. A path to enlightenment. A trail of tears, or a never ending hunger for a lost artifact buried among hidden treasures.

The search for a forgotten deity from antiquity, or craving that secret knowledge everyone speaks about in hushed circles. The traveler stumbles across an ancient rumor or overhears a story passed down by an elder. The young warrior happens across information in an old book, or sees a drawing hanging on the wall of a holy sanctuary. A trinket raised high on a pedestal, in a temple, which is notoriously surrounded by a diabolical mystery.

Once the interest is piqued, it becomes something else. It morphs from nothing into something small, yet possibly tangible. A metaphorical seed.

If pondered, plotted, and pursued, it can easily transform into a seed that has a potential to never stop growing.

Once we stumble upon it, or it captures the attention for a fleeting moment, we can carry the seed in our pocket, or ignore it all together. I suppose the choice on what to do with it is all ours. Every once in a while we can roll it around in our palm and smile at it. Take pride in it for a time.

Or, maybe, toss it in a cubby somewhere safe. Perhaps the clutter drawer in the kitchen. Let it bounce around with the other stuff that’s just taking up space; unused and forgotten.

Only when the seed is driven into the soil, and provided the nutrients it requires, can it have a better chance of growing and possibly surviving. Even thriving and blossoming in some situations. These travelers of the ancient times, these folks who hungered for that journey, came across a seed, pondered it’s purpose, plotted, planted and pursued it’s potential.

Once it becomes a seed, or something that’s believed to be of use and value, it then requires planting. The journey to growth must begin. It serves no purpose in the drawer.

If I had my way, I’d have an expansive garden with diverse growth. Herbs, veggies, and fruit if possible. An underground greenhouse would be the bee’s knees. (Sigh). Perchance to dream.

The amount of work needed to maintain a full time garden, doesn’t fit the timeline right now. I’m forced to cater to our few houseplants in the meantime, and instead, continue day dreaming.

In my youth, our neighbors across the street had a garden. We played and ran in the corn rows, had permission to eat the carrots straight from the ground and I could shuck peas with the best of them. I helped the old folks fill buckets with string beans and potatoes. We washed and scrubbed the bountiful yield and were invited to sit and eat homemade stew, with the veggies I helped harvest and prepare. My parents kept a small garden in the back yard and we were active in it’s maintenance. Living next to a local farm and having gardens around our property, and in the friendly neighbor’s yard, gave me a respect for what the Earth can provide. I see the acorn for the tree. I appreciate nature.

Maybe more than some know.

Through my travels, this… crazy, unorthodox personal journey of self discovery, I’ve gravitated towards nature. A magnetism activates in my bloodstream and draws me to what I’ve deemed “special locations.”

One of my favorite spots on this Earth is my front porch. A wonderful panoramic view of the tree strewn horizon, which allows me vibrant colors in the autumn season, a setting sun each night with lavender clouds painted on a blue backdrop and wide open heavens above for stargazing and capturing glimpses, and flickers, of the Northern Lights when they snake across the sky.

I’m pulled towards the ocean to my south and the mountains to my north. If I ever hit the lottery or a super mega millions jackpot someday, I’ll have a small one bedroom villa on the coast and an “A” Frame cottage nestled into the base of my favorite mountain; heated by a wood stove and connected to a generator for emergencies. I’ll have a sailboat to travel the endless coastline, visiting and stopping pier to pier. Engaging in new cultures, experiencing life outside Maine, seeing what I can discover in my travels… but I digress.

For now, I’ll just enjoy the dream and relish in possibility. My dream world is a part of who I am.

Nature holds a special place for me, but I’m not an activist. I don’t protest, or petition. I do however, take advantages of my local environment and absorb it into my being at each chance provided.

For some bizarre reason unknown, I need to touch the sea. I’m compelled to walk barefoot in the cold ocean water, at least up to my shins. Swimming in the ocean off the coast of Maine is a feat of courage. In my forty years, each experience in the sea has left my body numb and shivering, save one time in my youth. Today, I walk the coastline, instead, and avoid the swimming if I can help it.

I’ll jump in for the good of the kiddo’s amusement if need be.

I’ll walk a pier and stare at the beauty around me and do what I can to be in it’s presence, but I prefer warmer waters when it comes to swimming.

I have to feel the wind on my face when driving through the hills. I’m drawn outside during a snowfall and I have to stand on the edge of a cliff and yell into the canyon below, if only to hear it yell back. It’s a necessity to witness the color(s) of the turning leaves, hear the pounding of surf on sand, and be surrounded by all it’s power and majesty.

When visiting a crumbling fortress off the beaten path, or visiting a scenic castle, I have to place my hand on the stone work and touch the history.

In the past, I’ve found solace and peace in these natural, special locations. I’ve visited some of these places numerous times and have named specific “landmarks” for reference.

“Let’s meet up at the Crooked Pier.”

“If I leave first, and we get separated, I’ll head for the Owl Wall. I’ll wait for you.”

“Hit the shops on Cobble Road?”

Personalizing these places, made it mine.

Nancy and I walked Fort Knox, and one of the side yards is now named, Medical Field.

Places that have importance and significance to my personal life, have names, aside from their proper titles.

Over the past six years, these landmarks have become directly responsible for who I’ve become as a person and I have a bunch. There’s personal meaning behind each experience and encounter. Giving them a name is just something I enjoy doing. These locations of importance connect me together like a jigsaw puzzle. Each place has a separate and profound emotion accompanying it, and has been paramount to discovering the seed I had yet to find.

Officer Hulk helped create that seed. It was a starting point for me. A chance to dig my head out of my ass and rediscover what the real world is like. Advice to quit hiding, and fighting life. Tackle the problem head on. Become something better than what I’ve been exposed to. Everything leading up to that night, needed to become ancient history and discarded into that abyss of disregard. I needed a fresh starting line but was confused on the location of the race. A weary traveler with no destination, ready to rock and roll, and no idea how to plant a seed in the soil.

At that moment, I was almost ready to run that race. I was posed and prepared to take off from the starting line and sprint as fast as I could yet I was waiting patiently for the gun to fire. No one was there to pull the trigger.

The seed planted by the magician cop, diverted me back to family. I needed to re-calibrate, slow down life, and think it all through. Water. Shelter. Food. The starting line, is priority.

I love my family and I have a close one. At multiple times through each of our lives, we’ve managed to lean on each other when times were at their worst. Even if nothing more was provided other than a kind voice spoken, or an open ear to listen. I will never regret the path I chose to get to this point.

That night I made the decision to return to family, and coming around a sharp corner, an estimated two thousand feet from the driveway, I hit a patch of fog.

Through the gathering smoky haze, I flipped on my high beams to test my vision restrictions and my heart pounded against my chest when a family of deer jumped across the street. I swerved to the left to miss the herd, cut the wheels to the side, hit the dirt on the shoulder and slid on all four wheels to the opposite side of the road, facing the direction from where I was coming from.

Once I came to a complete stop, and the vehicle stopped shaking side to side, I pulled in a deep gasp realizing I was holding my breath. The deer bounced away as a group and disappeared into the mist, and I shot my attention out the front of the car.

I was face to face and ten feet away from, the Demon Tree.

>>Thank you for reading and following along. If you happen to be new to Tales of the Chronicles, here is the link to the beginning. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email. Please like, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

Blues and Reds

Officer Clark towered over the window of my car.

Before he slammed the door to his vehicle and approached me, I had my forehead on the steering wheel, screaming in my mind, “THIS CAN’T GET ANY WORSE!” Shelby sat in the passenger seat and panted her agreement.

I was forced to look above me to see his square, chiseled face. The bright blues strobing from the top of his car lit up his dark eyes under the brim of his wide hat, and the state patrolman was finishing a sandwich as he stood beside my door.

Glancing up to the rear view mirror, the blues caught my attention and I retreated into the dark caverns of my mind for a moment, allowing my consciousness to whisk me elsewhere. How awesome would it be to take off running and see if he can catch you. I needed an escape. I needed a break. A vacation. Something different. His arrogance oozed from every pore, and his Goliath presence was unnerving. I swallowed hard at every possible thought, and winced when contemplating each path the night could take me from there. By default, I anticipated the absolute worst.

Well, you did it, pal. You’re going to jail.

At least you’ll have a place to live. An upside to every downside, right?

How many times do I have to tell you to shut up!

“License, registration, and proof of insurance.” He stood at my side, chewing a mouth full of mushy food looking up and down the street to either side of us, and patiently waited for the documents. Once he snatched them from my hand, he returned to his vehicle. Shelby barked once at the stranger as another human dared to touch her owner’s skin.

I looked to my loyal friend and whispered, “It’ll be alright, girl. He’s just doing his job.” She relaxed and returned to panting when I scratched behind her ears.

After what seemed like hours of making me sit there and stew in my seat, the hulky officer returned and handed me back the paperwork. “So… where’s the fire?”

I dropped the documents into the cup holder, “No fire, sir. I’m just in a bad place right now, and I thought a drive might help clear out some of those cobwebs. It looks like it got away from me. I’m sorry. I’ve never been in trouble with the law before.”

“That’s what I see too. No record. I do see a fine paid for an outdated registration, a couple of accidents, no fault. You’re as clean as a whistle. That means there’s something wrong with you.”

Having been pulled over a couple of times in the Old Life, I was somewhat privy to the routine, “I haven’t been drinking, officer, and there are no guns or drugs in the car.”

Officer Hulk bent down and looked into the back seat, “Are you in the process of moving?”

“You can say that.” I faked a smile and looked to the dog again.

“Well, Jeremy, we have some bridges to cross tonight and some choices to make. The obvious one is to run you through the routine and eventually take you to a holding cell, but I’m guessing there’s a better route to take this time around. What do you think? Want to avoid jail? Want to keep that record blemish free?”

“More than anything, sir.”

He held up a finger, “First mistake. You never want to say that. Ever. Never say, ‘I want something more than anything.’ You’ll never see the consequences coming. Trust me.”

I scrunched up my face and pondered his statement. What the hell are you talking about?

“Kick on your four ways, and join me over here.”

I snapped on the hazard lights, opened the door and stood outside the car on shaky legs. My guess was a sobriety test and I needed to find some focus and get my shit together. Good thing you don’t drink anymore. He approached the hood of the cruiser and leaned on it, keeping his back to the camera inside the vehicle. His meaty leg blocking one headlight.

I approached him slow. Every possible negative outcome raced through my mind and I couldn’t make it stop.

He’s going to shoot you and leave you on the side of the road, dead in a gutter. Then he’ll take out the dog and do the same. Then, with his corrupt buddies, he’ll ditch the car off a quarry edge somewhere and destroy all trace you ever existed. Then he’ll be the one to tell my family I’m missing.

I need to get out of here.

Officer Hulk pulled a box of playing cards from his breast pocket and divided the cards into seven individual stacks on the hood of the car. I came to stand behind my vehicle and crossed my arms as he kept his attention on the piles. He recounted the configuration, hands now empty, and said. “Jeremy, choose one deck and flip over the top card.”

I chuckled and kept my defensive posture as I neared the piles. I glanced over the seven deck options and chose the one closest to Officer Hulk. “This one.”

“Are you sure?” He replied and turned his head slow towards me.

“Yes. This one.” I pointed again and he smiled.

“Okay, flip over the top card.” I reached down and flipped it over. Eight of diamonds.

“Tell me your card.”

“Eight of diamonds.”

“We can both see it, correct? No funny business?”

“Correct. No funny business.” I took a step back.

“Flip it back over, return it to the deck where you found it, pick up each individual deck one-by-one, and create a single pile.”

He had his arms crossed, nonchalantly sitting on his car as I gathered up each of the seven stacks and created one individual pile. I ensured my eight of diamonds was at the top. I could keep a better eye on it that way.

Having not touched the piles since joining him, he crossed his arms and said, “Cut the deck. Go as shallow or as deep as you want. Then once done with the cut, do it again, and again, and keep going until I say stop.”

I shrugged halfheartedly and cut the deck in half, and I cut it again, and again, and again and continued until he instructed me to quit. I attempted to maintain my eye on the eight, but it vanished inside the pile.

Once the singular stack was centered on the hood, and the final cut completed, I tapped the deck into a neat pile and stepped away. The eight of diamonds now lost within. Officer Clark removed his backside from the vehicle and stood beside me. We both stared at the red deck, and as I wondered where all of it was heading, he began talking.

“Nine years ago, I had a problem. I was hooked on gambling. I couldn’t get enough of the cards. Every waking moment, when not on the clock, I was gambling our money away. Online bets. Sports. Our weekend getaways were spent in local casinos. It was an obsession. Have you ever gambled before?”

“Spent a weekend at Foxwoods a few years ago. I actually made some money right before leaving. A slot jackpot of $357.00. Pretty exciting.” I continued staring at the deck.

“Good for you. Good for you. For me, that was the dream. Once I knew it was possible to make money, all my attention was devoted to figuring it out. Have you been back since?”

“No.”

“Good, good. That was my problem. I knew I could do it. I won money on numerous occasions, so I pursued that dream. It was a rush of possibilities. The sky was the limit. As long as I could pay in, I was searching for that rush. I couldn’t stop.

“Then things got ugly. I was secretive. Calculating. When I failed at my dream, I started drinking, hiding, and gambling harder. I back stabbed the ones who loved me. I took out loans and cash advances and got so down in the hole, we were forced to sell our personal items and eventually our home. My gambling addiction led to financial ruin, suspension at work, and one cruel afternoon, divorce. I lost everything. My sense of purpose. Contact with my children. I spent weeks in rehab centers and support groups. I had a handful of therapists and few friends to lean on. My family considered me the black sheep and no matter where I turned, I felt defeated.”

“So what did you do?” I asked, keeping my focus on the cards.

“I found something new to pursue. I discovered a new dream. Something out of my comfort zone. Something unique. Something different to focus on? Something I knew I always wanted to do, but was too afraid to try.”

I nodded and looked to the pavement below my feet. “How did you find what you were looking for?”

“It wasn’t easy. I had to endure some pain, and some suffering. I had to go back to the source of my problems and look at it a different way. Have you gone to the source of your personal conflicts, and the problems that brought you here tonight?”

“I’d like to think so. Sometimes it’s all I can think about. What’s wrong with me? Where did I go wrong? Life shouldn’t be this way…”

“See? That’s your problem. You say it shouldn’t be this way, but never once accepted the fact… that it is this way. Life is hard. Life is a struggle. Filled with ups and downs, hardship and strife. Conflict and fighting. Devastating possibilities. Trust me, I know about devastating possibilities. I never once considered through it all, that my dream would becoming the source of all my problems.”

“Are you saying, don’t follow your dream?”

“No, I’m saying think good and hard on it. Make sure your dream is something worth looking for. It took me years to find mine. I stumbled around it. I debated it’s purpose and how it would affect my self worth.”

“What is it?”

Officer Clark half smiled, shifted his weight and looked at me, “You know those shops along the coast. Those made in Maine businesses. The arts and crafts shops?”

“Sure.”

“Well, I do woodcarving and make trinkets for the shops to sell. Eagles perched on trees. Dolphins jumping through water. Little hand carved wooden frogs, hummingbirds. All that stuff. I suppose the side money is good, depending on the tourist season, but yeah… I do that. Besides being a cop.”

I chuckled and looked his way, “What does this have to do with the cards?”

“Funny you should ask that. The point of the cards is, nothing is ever what it seems. You will always believe one thing, and the turnout will always be unexpected. And it will catch you off guard, take you by surprise and throw you off balance. Don’t take life at face value. There’s always something below the surface. Sometimes it just takes a long time to find. For me it was nine years. I had to search, in order to heal. I’m still healing. Each day is better than the last.”

“I appreciate you sharing that with me, officer. I really do… So… does this mean I’m free to go?”

He laughed, “Yes, you’re free to go with a verbal warning, this time. But first, I want you to flip over the deck, take your eight of diamonds out of there and consider meeting me, a life lesson. There are still some good folks out there who can say they’ve been there, done that, and are doing it right now. Life is all about change and adapting to the change. Will it be a challenge? Yes sir it will. But regardless of any challenge, always stay on track. Keep the focus narrow. If you don’t keep that focus narrow, you’ll get lost among the chaos. Now, get out your card, and go to wherever it was you were fleeing and hiding from. Hit that problem head on and change your life.”

I nodded my head in agreement. It was time for a change, but I was unsure how to change my life for the better. Each card seemed to be against me.  The only advice I could go on was to retrieve my eight of diamonds, and head on back to the place of my invitation. Time to sit with family and have some conversations, despite the fact I wished to be alone.

I rooted through the deck three times and came up empty handed. I checked for adhesives, tallied the number of cards and the count remained at fifty one with each count.The eight of diamonds had disappeared.

Officer Clark reached into his breast pocket again and withdrew a business card. The only writing was a name and phone number in black ink on white paper. He held it between his ring and forefinger, “I know a guy if you want someone to talk to. Someone who can be non-bias and provide you a chance to be yourself. I’ll call him in the morning and plant a seed and if you wish to pay him a visit, just give him a buzz. He’s been a lot of help to me over the years. Life is never what it seems, Jeremy.”

Officer Clark scooped up the cards from the hood, dropped them back in the box and opened the door to the cruiser. The policeman smiled and said, “Slow down a little, will ya? You’re lucky to be alive.” He sat in the seat, pulled the safety belt across his uniformed chest, closed the door and turned the wheels to the road. The officer zoomed away from us and the blues disappeared around a corner, before he switched them off.

Surrounded by the silence of the back woods of Maine, I looked the business card over in the glow of the tail lights, and Shelby barked once. Should let her do her business while I’m out here.

I let the dog wander the side of the road and thought on Officer Hulk’s “life lesson.”

The words that repeated over and over, “Slow down a little, will ya. You’re lucky to be alive,” resonated in my mind. I couldn’t shake the phrase from memory.

Shelby took care of her business and we reentered the car. I pulled out my wallet from my pants pocket and reached into the cup holder to return my driving documents to their proper spots.

Inside the plastic, which housed my insurance information, was a red card.

My stomach dropped to the floor pedals. With quivering fingers I reached into the sleeve and withdrew the card from inside. Hesitant to know more, I turned it over and to my complete surprise, it was the eight of diamonds.

Written with black marker, taking up the space around the white of the card surrounding the diamonds, “Slow down a little, will ya? You’re lucky to be alive.”

>>Thank you for reading and following along. If you happen to be new to Tales of the Chronicles, here is the link to the beginning. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email. Please like, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

Altering Life

-Summer of 2013-

-Fifteen months after the safe house-

“Now that she’s left the room shoot me straight, Dr. Smith. What are the odds she won’t survive this? I want numbers. Dig up the paperwork. Open some books. Kick on the computer, get your people in here, I don’t care. Show me some stats. I know it’s your job to tell me this shit, but it’s my job to get everything I can from you. As long as you do your job, I’ll be doing mine.”

“Thirty three percent.” Dr. Smith tapped the pen on the table and looked over the top of her thin wire frame glasses. Sitting there in her stupid smock, with her stupid name tag and stupid medical degrees hanging on her stupid walls.

I shot both my hands in the air, “What does that mean? Thirty three she’ll survive? Or thirty three she won’t. Kind of a wide in between, don’t you think?”

“Jeremy, there’s a thirty three percent chance she won’t survive it. After what she’s been through, I’ll be honest. It’s not going to be an easy road.”

I crossed my arms and leaned back in the chair, “She started to find some solid mobility again. The wounds are fading and scarring up. She can drive a car now and go up and down the stairs. What you’re asking her to do is elevate ALL OF IT to another level. Do you have any idea how life altering this will be?!”

Nancy closed the door to the small room, sat back down at the table and I faked a smile and relaxed. Mostly for her benefit.

Dr. Smith sat up straight and darted her eyes between us as if she was watching a high speed tennis match. “Listen… there’s no easy way to say these things, so if you want me to shoot you straight, I’ll shoot you straight. To bottom line it, you’ll have one shitty summer.”

I butted in, “Is that your expert opinion?”

“No, not my opinion, it’s a fact. The next few months are going to suck.”

“Now we’re getting somewhere.” I interrupted again and turned my attention out the window.

This can’t be happening.

Another Cosmic Joke?

Dr. Smith wanted to drive her point home, “You look at me as though I’m a heartless bitch. Like I get something out of all of this. Will it drain your bank account? Yes. Will it change your environment, what you eat and drink? Yes it will. Will it change your lives? I’m afraid so. But the money doesn’t come directly from your pocket to mine. I get nothing from this experience. It’s not my fault that your life will be different. This is my job. My job is not always pleasant. If you decide not to do this, I can’t be certain of where the future will take you. You’ll be relying solely on faith.”

“It’s funny you say that, Doc. It seems as though what you’re asking us to do, is a faith based idea as well. I have yet to be convinced this is even necessary. You say one thing, but I haven’t seen the evidence. Hell… even Boston couldn’t read the disk. Everyone we talk to speaks about this, all tra-la-la-la, like… hey, it’s not a big deal. Just do it. All we have right now is word of mouth and two options. I’m sorry I’m not responding as nice as you’d like.”

She maintained a professional demeanor. Her back straight and hands clasped on the table top, “All I can do, is continue to provide you the options: Sign off, and let’s get this started as soon as possible, or feel free to head on out the door and maybe we’ll see you in the future someday, and you’ll be sitting right back here again, and maybe it won’t be me… but someone else who’ll tell you the same damn thing. I leave the choice completely up to you. I’ll give you some time to think about it.”

Dr. Smith left the room, the door whispered shut behind her and I exhaled. All I could muster was a statement, “The decision is totally up to you.” I caught her worried eyes with mine and didn’t let go. “What did I tell you three months ago? At the peak of the worst?”

She kept her stare on me and stuttered through the reply, “That-that you’d support my decisions… and, and stick by my side.”

“And I still mean that. You think we can handle one shitty summer? I got your back, Jack. No matter what.”

She looked to the floor and let the tears fall to the carpet. I cupped her chin in my hand and pulled her eyes back to mine. I needed to maintain that stare. I needed to pass my dwindling strength on to her somehow, and hoped osmosis would work. She nodded and half smiled.

Going back three months before, she had undergone a major surgery. Her chest was ripped open from the throat, to inches above the belly button. Hours after the lengthy procedure when I was able to visit, she had hoses and wires running through her, behind her bed, under and around. She was stapled back together with wire and twine. Bags of fluid hung from metal hooks to either side of the elevated bed and she was connected to a wall covered in medical instruments and digital readouts.

When I was able to finally bring her home, where her living space was confined to the couch, I slept on the floor beside her, woke at every noise uttered, held her through every tear shed and cry of pain, and catered to her every need. If her temperature raised a degree, I was making phone calls. I changed her bandages, fought infections, cooked her meals, bathed her when needed, brushed her hair, cleaned her (disturbing) wounds and was at her beck and call until the body was able to heal.

I was provided with lists of do’s and don’t. Rules and regulations. What to watch for and pay attention to.

When the pain was at it’s worst, I looked into her tear soaked eyes and whispered, “No matter what it takes, no matter what it costs, you will not be alone and I promise to help fix you and I will make it my mission in life.” And I meant it.

And we made it through.

I left work for thirty days and every scrap of my energy was devoted exclusively to healing the best thing to ever enter my life.

Nancy healed me, and to this day, I’m not fully sure she even knows that.

It was my turn to repay the debt.

Those three months after her surgery, and the next three months to follow, would be considered the pinnacle of life altering experiences for me. Events that changed me forever.

The birth of my child(ren), helping Nancy rise from the ashes after six months of unending struggle and pain, and that night I was speeding down the back roads of my home state like a possessed madman on the way to nomad land, with no destination in mind. The night before I was to leave the safe-house, forever, and find another place to live with no plan or idea what to do with life. Just me and the mutt at my side, and a backpack of bare essentials.

I should have accepted the invite right away. You never turn down family. But if I had stopped and payed them a visit at their request, I never would have been pulled over by a state trooper for criminal speeding.

>>Thank you for reading and following along. If you happen to be new to Tales of the Chronicles, here is the link to the beginning. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts through email. Please like, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

Flight

At a dig in Egypt in 1898, an artifact was unearthed dating back to 200 BCE. It was named, “The Saqqara Bird.”

saqqara_bird_an_egyptian_antic_glider_by_hamzalippisch-d6fm8jz
Image found at Deviantart.

The small light weight “toy” (if it should be called such a thing) was shaped and carved to appear like an aerial vehicle, an airplane or glider of some kind, with the face of a bird chiseled into the front where the cockpit would be located. The trinket was made of sycamore wood and on parchment found nearby inside the tomb it was discovered in, were written the words, “I want to fly.” The story fascinates me to no end.

Even more than 2200 years ago, people wanted to be in the sky.

I am absolutely terrified of flying. Heights don’t bother me. Commercial flight, on the other hand, is something I try to avoid. Flying in a plane is one of three fears I deal with.

One phobia is, ticks. The kind that painlessly burrow under the skin and spread disease. Chewing through the flesh like a mini drill bit; cramming it’s nasty head inside.

The third is having the inability to complete my goals.

Many moons ago whilst living the old life, I had to board a plane and travel from Portland Maine, to Maryland. An idea I did not take well. I suffered in silence and fought overwhelming anxiety.

I subtly debated. I sought alternate venues. I wished to instead load the car with three days of luggage, and just drive the damn thing. It wasn’t that far.

Nonetheless, airline tickets were purchased and I was destined to be confined inside a long metal coffin with wings, traveling at speeds of hundreds of miles an hour, thousands of feet off the ground.

I know… I know. Flying is considered the safest mode of travel. I get it.

But… I don’t understand the fear of spiders, clowns or water slides. The fear of the dark, or thunderstorms. We all have our phobias to face. Mine happens to be air travel.

Some avoid their fears altogether. Some tackle them head on. Despite the fact I suffer with a few, I have managed to kill some phobias in my forty years.

Roller coasters that go upside down and loopy loop. My fear of heights and deep ocean water. I once conquered a fear of driving during a blizzard at the peak of a Maine winter. I’ve always avoided driving during storms, and instead stock and prepare the home before hand to ensure I could stay put and hunker down. I was scared to death of becoming a side of the road fatality.

The household needed medicine, therefore the trip was necessary. Once I was able to navigate the slippery ice and snow covered streets with more ease, and find some comfort behind the wheel, by the end of the excursion I was doing donuts in the parking lot and sliding sideways down the empty roads by ripping up on the emergency break. Ahhh. The good ol days.

Flying was mandatory. Up until that point in my life, I was able to avoid air travel. I never found a need to be inside a plane. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If it’s possible to walk, boat, train, drive, bus or bicycle… that’s the method I desire. Call me old fashion.

The anxiety was so intense, I made an appointment to visit my doctor. The only information I provided on my paperwork detailing the reason for my visit was, “consultation.”

Sitting on the exam table, just thinking about the events yet to come, I was sweating through my shirt and chewing my nails till my fingertips bled.

The doctor came in rifling through his clipboard papers and didn’t make eye contact for a time. He seemed to shuffle through the room and making obvious attempts to ignore me. As though I was wasting his time. Finally he spoke after a minute of silence, “So… what can I help you with today?”

“I have an abject fear of flying, Doc. I know it sounds stupid. The idea and thought of it makes me sick to my stomach. I’ll be in the sky next month and I dread the idea to the core of my being.”

He paused mid stride and turned to glance me over. “Really? I’ve never treated a phobia before. Flying you say? Being in a plane?”

I was back to ripping skin from my thumb with my teeth, and nodded my reply.

He pondered my situation, “OK… OK… I’ve read a peer review paper on such a thing, and if I remember correctly there was some good ideas in the pipeline. Hang on a second. Let me look up something really quick.” He sat at his computer and browsed material on his screen.

I wiped sweat from my eyes.

“Yes. Right here. I found it. OK. We can go a couple of different routes with this.”

“What do they say?”

“… Drugs.”

I laughed, “Drugs? Really? I’m not big on pills.”

He double checked his source, “Jeremy, I’m going to prescribe you with (name) and I’ve never told a patient this before, but you have my permission to experiment with (name). I want you to take a minimal dose of one at first, see how it feels, then up your own dose until the day of travel. I’m allowing you to find that balance that suits your anxiety, and you’ll have enough to get through until the return trip home. How does this make you feel?”

“Experiment?… This is weird.”

“Yes. After you pick up (name) wait a couple of days, think about flying and being in a plane, and if the anxiety disappears after one small dose, then you know what the limitations are. You can set your own boundaries.”

“Ummm. I suppose. If there isn’t anything else you can recommend.”

“You’ll have forty tablets.”

Experiment I did, and I had thirty days to figure it out. I tested my anxiety and prescribed my own doses. Sometimes I’d go days without it, but when the need was warranted, I’d pop a pill or two, find my balance and levels of tolerance and the anxiety would vanish. Indeed a unique experience.

Sitting at an airport eatery on the day of the trip, waiting to board, I was so nervous I popped four pills and drank a double gin and tonic in two gulps. All that was left, was to wait to enter the plane.

I stumbled into a small shop to purchase a magazine for the journey and when I finally crossed the threshold into the flying metal death machine, I was seated directly over the landing gear beside a circular window. I buried my face into the pages, kept my head down low for the entire flight and hoped it was smooth and incident free.

It was over before I knew it. I don’t remember the take off or the landing. I never once stole a glance out the window and every word that came through the plane’s cabin speakers were, “Wa wa wa. Wa wa wa wa wa waaa. Ba ba ba, wa wa wa wa.”

I remember nothing. I don’t recall what I read in the magazine. All I can manage to visualize was a science fiction character on the front cover.

As a result of not remembering the trip above the clouds, I was convinced my fear was conquered. Therefore, once settled in Maryland, I dumped the remainder of the pills down the toilet.

Oh, how I regret discarding my prescription.

The entire trip home to Maine was a personal nightmare. A white knuckle grip on the arm rests. Bouncing knees, stress headache, my stomach assaulted with nausea and unrelenting butterflies, bloody fingertips from compulsive nail biting and I felt every air bump, crosswind, tremble of turbulence and convinced I was a dead man. I must have looked crazy to the other passengers. My fear was still very much alive. I may have even kissed the ground upon arrival.

So, with that said, come spring or summer of 2017, I will be venturing to our Capital airport and look into flying lessons. After some dialogue with a friend, who is working toward a license, after the initial starter lessons are completed and the plane is in the air, the controls are then handed off to the student. I don’t have to take off, I don’t have to land. All I will do is fly.

I think I need to be in control of the craft in order to conquer my fear. I don’t want to pop pills and pound down liquor every time air travel is needed. I may be wrong in wanting to spend a little money to get over my issues, but it’s an experiment I’m willing to try. If it doesn’t work… I’ll try something different. Maybe hypnosis. My own bridge to cross if unsuccessful. I am determined to make this happen. I need to kill my phobias.

After the phone call at the safe-house and the invitation, traveling to a family member’s home with the dog beside me at nine at night, my fight or flight issues kicked into high gear. I decided I didn’t want to be a charity case. I didn’t want to discuss my current problems with loved ones. I didn’t want to be coddled and told everything was going to be fine.

*****

Instead of pulling into the driveway, I screamed by the home at one hundred miles an hour with Zeppelin cranked as loud as I could handle it and continued driving into the night. It was time to consider the life of a vagabond.

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