2018!

2018 Whoo-tee-whoo! Happy to be here. Last year was rough with my sister’s chemo treatments of six months turning into one year due to complications; stoke, broken femur, and a five-week hospital stay, with many trips in between, and rehab. But, eventually she finished, is mending at home and every day getting stronger. What a blessing.
My goal for this year is to have my novel published (conventionally) and proceeds going to the revitalization of St. John USVI. It was a bad year for that part of the Caribbean and all who live there. It will take a long time for them to recover and I really want to help with the effort to get them up and running once again.
On the selfish side, we were going to take a trip to St. John in June. My daughter was married a year ago October and my husband and I were planning to take her new hubby to see our favorite little island. We first visited when our daughter was 5, now 31. We ferried over from St. Thomas, walked to the rental building for a jeep, and once we got on the road and on our way to the villa, her tiny voice from the back seat said, “I tink I gonna like it here.” And that’s how it goes. You fall in love immediately with the sight, sounds and flavors of the island and never want to leave.
I pursued once to publish Secret Sacrifices to no avail, but I am determined to try everything I know to get it done so the money can be used in a good way.
I hope all of you have a blessed new year!

Jumped

The lights went out and Frank dove for his gun. He tried to remember in his mind its exact location. He could not recall a time in his career when he had ever surrendered his weapon, but seeing Kim with the blood streaming down her face from the gash in her head had made him feel like there was no other option. She would be dead if he wouldn’t have done what Holland said. He had been ordered earlier to drop his gun and kick it across the room.

“Frank,” Kim screamed.

He didn’t answer. He was on the ground, sliding to his destination. A crushing blow came to his hand as he reached forward for the gun, he must have missed and hit the desk leg. He reached with outstretched finger tips, his eyes open as wide as they could go, but it was impossible to see anything in the pitch black room. That was okay, it meant Holland couldn’t see anything either. His hand searched for the metal object.

Commotion came from inside the room and Frank had to assume Holland was on his way to stop him. Sure enough, Holland landed on top of him and Frank’s chin hit the floor—hard. He struggled to keep moving forward to the gun, Holland’s weight slowing him down. He thought the gun was on the other side of the desk, between the desk and the office chair. He needed to get his body under the desk. First, he had to get clear of Holland.

Holland punched at his head, pulling back on Frank’s outstretched arm. Frank thrust his body as hard as he could in order to throw Holland from his back. He poked at Holland’s throat. If he could get one good jab in, he could stop Holland temporarily, giving him time to get

the gun. He missed and had to try again. Still no luck. He gave a punch to Holland’s rib cage. He missed and hit a solid body part, maybe his abs. He jabbed again. He had to stop Holland from whacking at his head. Frank managed to get a hold on Holland’s shirt by the collar and began punching at his face. He felt wetness; he must have gotten a knuckle to nose. He continued to hit the same area. Holland slapped at Frank, like in a girl fight. Frank thought Holland might be losing his bearings and starting to panic. Frank took advantage the situation trying to get to his feet, hauling Holland with him. He knew he would have more power on his feet than lying on his back. Holland struggled to get free, but Frank was relentless and didn’t let go.

“Frank, I have the gun,” Kim cried out.

“Here, over here,” He shouted.

From the sound of her voice, Kim was on the other side of the desk. If Frank let go of Holland to reach for the gun, Holland would have the chance to get away. He had to hold onto Holland, defend himself, and get his gun from Kim.

Excruciating pain radiated throughout his head. He took an unexpected blow to his left ear and was instantly lightheaded and felt like throwing up. He snapped back when he felt his hand loosing grip on Holland’s shirt. Holland grunted and Frank heard a clinking sound. Frank thought Holland must have grabbed something heavy from the desk. Even in the dark, it was easy for Frank to realize a second thrust was on its way. He stopped Holland’s arm just before he was about to get a paperweight blow to the side of his head.

Holland grunted again while twisting his arm free. It’s funny how strong someone can become when they are fighting for their life. With all the strength Frank could muster, he lifted his knee and connected with Holland’s groin. Holland doubled over and winced with pain. Frank didn’t wait and rushed right at him for another attack. He pulled Holland up by his collar again and punched at this face. Holland raised his arms to shield his face. Frank felt this and focused on lower punches, jabbing at Holland’s ribs. On the third draw-back his elbow connected with something behind him, something that wasn’t there on the first two thrusts. It had to be Kim. Without letting go of Holland’s shirt, Frank swung around, feeling for her and the gun.

“Frank, is that you?” she asked.

“Give me the gun.”

Kim held the handgun out toward Frank’s voice with both her hands. He felt it at shoulder height and grabbed it with his free hand. With a firm hold on Holland, he snapped around, pointing the gun downward in Holland’s direction.

“I’ve got the gun, Holland. This fight’s over. Get to your feet, and do it nice and slow.” Frank took a long and much needed deep breath.

Holland did as Frank instructed, rising slowly to his feet. Frank followed him with the gun held at Holland’s cheek.

“Don’t make a move or the gun goes off.”

This was a close moment in the darkness. Without sight, Frank was unable to detect if Holland was going to make a play for the gun, or his gun arm. He wanted Holland to know he would shoot if he felt the slightest attempt. Sweat trickled down Frank’s forehead and into his eyes. The salty fluid stung and he wanted to wipe them, but he didn’t have a free hand. He felt Kim close behind him.

The lights flickered, on, then off again. On the fourth flicker they stayed on for good. He could see Holland’s beat up, bloody frame in front of him.

“It’s over Holland,” he said relieved. “You are under arrest for the abduction and attempted murder of Detective Kim Weston. Turn around and place your hands behind your back.”

Holland didn’t put up a fuss and did as ordered. Frank pulled his handcuffs from his belt and placed them tightly on Holland’s wrists. He didn’t want to let go of Holland in case the lights went out again. He kept one hand on Holland’s shoulder, and his other hand with the gun, pointed at Holland’s head.

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say, can, and will be used against you in a court of law…”

Frank moved Holland forward and down the hallway to the staircase quickly, worrying that the lights might go out again in the abandoned building, He continued with the Miranda Rights on the way to the cruiser. Once Holland was locked in the backseat he focused his attention on Kim.

He gently took her arm and led her to his unmarked car. He had a blanket in the trunk for emergencies and put it around Kim. He helped her into the passenger seat. He moved around to the driver’s side and reached inside for the radio microphone. He called for help, then went to check on Officer Thornton who had come earlier as back-up. Before they entered the building earlier, Frank had heard a shot outside the building. Holland had fired at Thornton from inside the building. Frank found Officer Thornton dead. Now Holland would be charged with his murder, along with the attempted murder of his partner Kim. Frank returned to the car to check on his partner.

“You all right?”

“Fine.”

“Let me see that head of yours.” He gently pulled back Kim’s hair to look at the wound. That’s a nasty gash on your head.”

“I really messed this up.”

“This wasn’t your fault.”

“I should have waited for back-up when I saw him in the restaurant.”

“He would have taken off. You did the right thing.”

“And I let him get the jump on me.”

“It happens to the best of us.”

“Has it ever happened to you?”

“No, but I have twenty-five years of experience as a cop, then a detective.”

“And I don’t.”

“You’re learning.” Frank smiled.

“You going to ask for a new partner?”

“What, are you kidding me? And deprive me of all this fun? Not on your life. We’ll be together for the next twenty-five.”

“Oh, I hope not.” Kim snickered. “No offense, but that would make you…”

“Let’s not go there. Hey look, here come the Chief.”

“Don’t try to change the subject.” Kim laughed. “But seriously, thanks for all you did.”

“No problem, all in a day’s work. Now get your game face on. He’ll be firing a lot of questions at you.”

“I’m ready.”

Disciple

Hello Everyone! I am taking a break this Short Story Thursday to put in a timely short story for Easter. I hope you enjoy it and I will be finishing up Choices a week from today.

Happy Easter to all!

Disciple by Cynthia Hall

John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant, also will be.

“Whoa, Samuel. Wash your face, hands, and feet please before you come to the table. You know the rules.”

Samuel moved back from the table and kicked off his sandals. “Sorry, Mother. I’ve just heard some news that I’m eager to share with the rest of the family.”

“Only your baby sister has arrived for dinner, and although I am sure she will listen to you, at five years old I think you might not receive the meaningful conversation you seek.”

Samuel laughed at his mother’s wit. “I agree, but some day this little cutie will be a great leader for all the people.”

“What makes you think such a thing?”

“Look at her face. The face of a scholar.”

Samuel’s mother did take a minute to look, but not at her daughter’s. It was her fifteen-year-old son she admired this day. Even as a young boy, Samuel was always eager to learn and considered much wiser than most boys his age.

“What has excited you?”

“I want to tell Father the news of Jesus.”

She sighed before answering. “I’ve heard.”

“Tomorrow I want to take Father with me to hear Jesus for himself. Will you come with us?”

“I have to watch the children and you know your father’s feelings about Jesus.”

“I had hoped he would at least listen to him before he passes judgment.”

“He has heard what Jesus thinks, just as you have.”

“I think his thoughts might change after seeing him.”

“I would not count on that. Your father is a hardworking man, dedicated to providing for his family.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“He feels Jesus is a Bedouin, a wanderer of the country with no homeland ties or people.”

“But that is what Jesus is all about. He travels and teaches for all people. He cares about all the people. Jesus says we are all bonded as his brothers and sisters. Whoever does the will of our Father in heaven is his brother, sister, and mother.

The door opened and Samuel’s twelve-year-old twin sisters entered from the garden. We are so hungry we could eat supper even if Samuel had cooked,” Laura said.

Samuel didn’t banter back as usual.

“What’s the matter Samuel, lost for words this day?” she asked.

“He looks impatient, Sister,” Louise teased.

“Hush girls and help set the table. Your father will be coming soon.”

The girls giggled and began setting dishes on the table.

“Why aren’t you in the field with father Samuel?”

“Father sent me to town to collect goods this morning.”

“And that took you all day?” Laura asked.

Samuel was about to answer when his father came in the front door.

“Father!” Margaret ran to her father and threw her arms around his legs.

“Hello, little turnip. Had a busy day?”

“Yes, father. I played with my friend Harry today.”

“Your friend Harry is a barn cat,” said Louise.

“He is still my friend.”

“Of course he is turnip. Now what have we for supper?”

“Stew,” answered Mother.

“Did you get the goat feed Samuel?”

“Yes, Father.”

“Have you fed the goats?”

“Not yet. I will do it after we eat.”

“You will do it now.”

“Yes Sir.” Samuel never disobeyed his father. Samuel realized his father worked to give his family a wonderful life, but tonight he was eager to talk about Jesus.

Make it quick, then we will eat together,” said Father.

Samuel went to the barnyard as directed. Every step made him more agitated that his father had put him off. Why would he never listen to him? Why was it that every time he wanted to have a serious conversation with his father, his father would find something for him to do?

The goats gathered around the gate, waiting to be fed as Samuel untied the latch. “Back away so I can get in you fools. The goats didn’t back away, they only continued to push forward. Samuel managed to open the gate only wide enough to squeeze through and snatched the feed bag from the hook hung high in the corner. The goats surrounded Samuel’s legs, clamoring to get feed. Samuel grabbed a hand full of feed and threw it out in a sweeping motion. The goats watched the feed fly in the air then ran to where the feed had hit the ground. Only one old gray goat stayed behind. Samuel tossed out another large handful but the billy stayed put and butted his empty hand.

“Stubborn goat. Why do you think you are special and deserve to be hand fed? Why do you not follow the others? Samuel laughed. “My father would think me a goat I suppose.” He pulled out a handful of feed and offered it to the goat.

“My father thinks I am a fool. In fact, if he were here now and I tried to tell him about Jesus he would say to me, “I do not have time for what Jesus has to say Samuel.”

And I would say, but father, Jesus is teaching the word of His father. And father would say, ‘How do you know what he is saying is the truth?’ And I would say to him, if you would only listen to Jesus you would hear what he knows is the truth. Father would say, ‘Samuel, you cannot be taken in by any street wanderer who claims to be the Son of a God.’”

Samuel took hold of the billy’s beard and leaned down to look directly into his eyes.

“What’s that goat? You say following Jesus is a foolhardy? Yes, yes I know goat, the teachers of the law agree with you and they believe Jesus is dangerous. But I tell you goat that the teachers of the law speak against Jesus because His teachings contradict what the law makers believe. They fear his teachings and they do not want to believe his miracles.”

And this is truly something you would want to remember old goat, anyone who speaks against Jesus will be held accountable. So take heed, old gray.”

The goat tried to shake his head, “nay.” Samuel let go of the goat’s beard.

“Yes, enough for now goat. I must go to dinner.” Samuel took a glance back at the goat while tying the latch. “Why goat, is it easier talking to you than my own father?”

Samuel entered the house to find everyone seated and waiting patiently. He washed his hands and feet again and took his seat on his father’s left, who sat at the head of the table. Mother filled bowls with stew and passed them around the table.

“Let’s begin before it gets cold.”

Samuel took a deep breath and began, “Father, what are your plans for tomorrow?”

“Why do you ask?”

“I want to go into the city to hear Jesus speak.”

“Jesus?”

“Yes, he’s going to be at the temple courts.”

“I think you have wasted most of the afternoon listening to Jesus already. It took you nearly three hours to get supplies today.”

“But Father, this is Jesus.”

Mother winced and tried to change the subject. “Would someone please pass the biscuits?”

“And what did you learn from your profit today?”

“That I want to follow him.”

“And do what?”

“Learn…teach…spread His word.”

“And that is what Jesus is doing now?”

“Yes. If you would just take the time to hear him.”

“Who gives him this authority?”

“Why God, Jesus he is the Son of God, His father.”

“You believe this to be true?’

“Yes Father. Come with me tomorrow. You will see.” The more Samuel talked about his idol, the more his excitement grew.

“Samuel, if Jesus is who you say he is then why was he seen entering the house of a tax collector? What business would he have with the likes of those people?

“I was told he changed the heart of that man. The tax collector gave half his money to the poor and began to worship God after his visit. (Luke 19 – 19:9) They say the Pharisee prayed before God that he was thankful that he was not like the robbers, adulterers and tax collectors. He felt he was more devout. Jesus said the tax collector humbled himself before God and denounced he was a sinner and asked for God’s mercy. Jesus says that a man who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10 – 15)

“The teachers of the law say Jesus is following Satan’s power instead of a divine spirit.”

Mother suddenly sensed the conversation worsening. “Would anyone like seconds? I made plenty this evening.”

“You believe what he teaches, don’t you Father?”

“I believe he is dividing the people.”

“The people are doing that to themselves, “Samuel retorted.

“He is dividing us...separating you from your family. You choose to believe what he has told you and are convinced to follow his teachings. You have been brought up thinking one way and now you choose to think differently.”

But Father, everything Jesus says is from God. The God that we all believe. He says anyone who speaks against the Son of Man will be forgiven but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven I tell you the truth.”

“Enough of what Jesus says.” Samuel’s father stood and tossed his napkin to the table. “It is time you start listening to your father. I will meet you in the field in the morning just before sunrise for a fruitful day of work. There you will once again learn what is important and the meaning of life. Is that understood Samuel?” He didn’t wait for Samuel to answer and retired to his bedroom.

Samuel was about to say something when Mother reached across the table and firmly placed her hand over her son’s arm. “You can talk again in the morning.”

“I won’t be here tomorrow Mother. I am going into the city to hear Jesus.”

Night fell, daybreak came, and Samuel had walked to his friend’s house so they could travel to the city together.

“Good morning Paul,” Samuel said.

“Shhh,” whispered Paul. My mother will wake.”

Samuel waited until he couldn’t see Paul’s house anymore to speak again. “Father will be angry when he finds that I am gone this morning.”

“Mine too.”

“He does not understand. I wish he could see Jesus the way other people do.”

“My father thinks Jesus is stirring up trouble. He says he wants people to separate and riot.”

“That is ironic. He wants just the opposite. How can we convince people?”

“I think it is too big a job for us to try Samuel.”

“Maybe, but doesn’t Jesus tell us to keep going?

“To repeat what he knows to be true,” Paul said.

“Jesus is doing it. He has many followers, and I want to follow. Have you changed your mind?”

Paul kicked a couple of stones as he walked. “I do not want to get into trouble with the authorities.”

“There will not be any trouble. Jesus is a leader, a great teacher. You cannot get into trouble for teaching…for following a teacher.”

The young men quickened their pace as they neared the city. Street vendors had only begun to set up when they reached town. Samuel and Paul stopped to buy fruit for breakfast. As Samuel ate he enjoyed the warm morning sun on his face. A soft breeze kept it from being too hot.

“Something seems different today. Can you feel it Samuel?” asked Paul.

Samuel looked into the eyes of the passing people and that he saw fear and angst in their faces. “Yes, I see. We should keep going. We want to get a close spot in the temple courts so we can see Jesus clearly.”

It seemed to Samuel that the street vendors rushed around, trying to arrange their goods quickly. Mothers tugged on children’s arms, as if they were attempting to be somewhere first. Samuel stopped a young boy that ran beside him. “What is the hurry boy?”

“I must get home to tell my parents,” and the boy was gone.

Samuel and Paul kept walking toward the temple courts and after passing a few more parallel streets it was apparent that many people were moving in the same direction.

“They must all be going to hear Jesus speak,” Paul said.

“I don’t know. Something does not feel right.”

“Like what?”

Samuel stopped a woman and her children.

“Where is everyone going?”

“Haven’t you heard? The soldiers have three criminals that they are about to crucify. I am trying to get my children home before the trouble starts.” She and her children ducked down a side alley.

“Why does she suspect trouble?” asked Paul. “There is never this much fuss over criminals.”

As Samuel and Paul neared the courts they began to hear people shouting and could barely make their way through the tight crowd. Many people chanted “Crucify him” while others wept openly. It was a puzzling experience for Samuel. The city, a place of normalcy and routine, was now a rush of chaos.

“The woman said there were three criminals, is that right Paul?” Samuel asked.

“Yes.”

“Then why are people chanting, ‘Crucify him,’ and why are others weeping?”

Samuel looked through the crowd and noticed a friend nearby. He gently pushed his way through the crowd to get to the man. “Marcus,” he called out. Samuel had to call out his name twice more and wave his arm before he had Marcus’ attention.

“Samuel, this is horrible news.”

“What news?”

“You have not heard? They are going to crucify Jesus.” The noise from the crowd erupted and Samuel thought he must have heard wrong.

“Crucify who?”

“Jesus…they are going to crucify Jesus.” Marcus shouted into Samuel’s ear. “The soldiers have taken him to the courts and as I understand it they are beating him merciless now. Tears rolled down over Marcus’ cheeks.

“You must be mistaken.” Samuel shouted back.

“No mistake. They are marching him to the hill to die.”

“We must stop it.” Samuel began pushing his way through the crowd, but Marcus pulled him back by his arm.

“Wait. You will want to hear this. Jesus is not fighting this.”

Samuel looked into his friend’s eyes. “I do not understand what you are telling me.”

“Jesus has gone willingly to his death.”

“But why? Why would he do such a thing? It is not true. The law makers are telling lies about this, I am sure of it. We must go and see what we can do to stop this.”

Samuel, Paul, and Marcus snaked through the mass of people that were forming a line on the side of the road that led up the hill. Many of them rejoiced while others cried out in horror.

“Look,” pointed Paul.

Over the heads of the crowd, on the distant hillside road, Samuel could see Jesus in the distance. He was beaten bloody and dragging a massive wooden cross on His shoulder. Soldier’s surrounded him. Panic turned Samuel’s stomach and bile surged to his throat. The sound of the crowd seemed to dissipate and silence crept over him. His mind and body went numb as he stared ahead. Time seemed suspended as he stood paralyzed.

“Samuel. Samuel.” Paul shook Samuel’s shoulders.

It wasn’t the shaking that alerted Samuel. Something hit Samuel in the ear, a rock that a young boy had pitched, meant to be an attack on Jesus. “Crucify him,” shouted the boy in anger.

Samuel looked on with wonderment. “Marcus, what do they say Jesus has done wrong?”

“I do not know.”

“We should make our way to the top,” Samuel charged ahead, but the crowd was too thick and when they made it half way up the hill and then they were unable to go any farther.

The mood of the people that stood close to the execution had changed. Most people were silent, or weeping, and falling on their knees in prayer.

“We must stop this,” Samuel shouted. No one looked and when Samuel shouted again his out cries were received badly. His frustrated look was meant with blank stares and tear stained faces. One elderly man pulled on his garment, “On your knees son, have you no respect?”

“I have respect,” he replied indignantly. “Why are you so passive about what is happening?”

“There is nothing more we can do.” That was all the conversation the man was going to have. He bowed his head and closed his eyes in prayer.

Again, someone tugged at Samuel’s clothing. “On your knees, Samuel,” said Paul.

The sight of Paul and Marcus kneeling in prayer arose a burning inside of Samuel. He wanted to jump and scream. He wanted to run as fast as he could. He felt hopeless and afraid. Samuel ignored Paul’s tug and began to move farther up the hillside, scuffing his feet on the ground, inching his way between the tightly formed crowd. He wanted, needed, to get close to Jesus, all the while thinking of a way stop what was happening. He pressed forward but found it nearly impossible to gain any ground. Samuel concentrated on every footstep. The crowd gasped in unison and Samuel looked up for the first time in five minutes.

He watched as the soldiers labored to hoist the enormous cross into the air, standing it on end. The awful image that Samuel was witnessing would remain burned to his memory forever. Samuel had been so intent on making his way up the hillside that he was unaware that two criminals had been hoisted earlier. The soldiers were placed Jesus between them. His hands and feet had been nailed onto the wood, keeping him in place. Samuel was too far away to make out the object around his head but he was close enough to see Jesus’ blood dripping to the ground.

Once again he tried to shuffle forward, but it was no use. His ankles were wedged in by people, and during the attempt to forge forward, Samuel lost his balance and fell to his knees. He threw back his head and screamed in anguish, “No!” Emotion welled up inside Samuel and he was unable to control the flow of tears that followed. Dark clouds covered the sky and a chilling wind broke the warm daytime air. His heart ached with sorrow.

Day grew into night and people slowly left the hill. Samuel never looked up again until he felt a warm hand upon his shoulder. Even then it took all his strength to raise his head and look upward. “Father?”

“Come son, there is nothing we can do here.”

Samuel’s father helped Samuel to his feet and the two men began the long trek down the hillside together. Samuel couldn’t help from taking a look back, his father continuing to move him along gently. They were on the outskirts of town before they spoke again.

“Why did you come?” Samuel’s voice still trembled.

“You are my son and I love you.”

“But I disobeyed you.”

“You followed your convictions.”

“I went against what your teachings.”

“You were trying to better yourself.”

“I am a fool.”

“I believe I am the fool. I realized today that I must make a choice this day Samuel, who will I serve. I feel the Law Makers are not making decisions that will help all the people. Maybe I should hear what Jesus was teaching because it sounds like he cared more for all people. I should have listened to what you wanted me to know. If you are still willing, I would like to learn about Jesus and what he was teaching.”

“You would do that for me?”

“Yes…and I would do it for me and what is right for my family.

Samuel could hardly believe what he was hearing. “I am overwhelmed.”

“I do not agree with what has happened today. If the Law Makers were so fearful of what Jesus had to say, then He must have had knowledge worth knowing.”

“I think Jesus would be pleased Father. Even after His death, his teachings will live on.”

“Let’s get home now Samuel. We will talk more in the morning.”

Choices…Part 5

The van rushed in front of her. Two men jumped from the van and grabbed her arms. Before Jordan could scream they slapped a piece of masking tape over her mouth and dragged her into the van. They shoved her to the floor and the van sped away. One man held on to her while the other put plastic handcuffs around her wrists and threw her body to the floor of the van. Her body roll and bumped around as the van hit potholes. The back windows were covered with black and all she could see from the floor were the two men that grabbed her sitting in the only two bucket seats in the van. The driver and the passenger.

“Slow down and let the guy pass.” The man in the passenger seat watched his side view mirror.

The van slowed.

“He’s still behind us and now he’s flashing his bright lights. Like he wants us to stop,” said the driver.

“That ain’t happening. It’s probably some old dude that doesn’t know what to do.”

“Maybe something’s wrong with the van, in the back or something.”

“Naw, he’s just being a jerk. I’ll wave him around.” He stuck his arm out the window and motioned for the car behind them to pass.

But it didn’t. The vehicle began to speed up until it almost hit the back end of the van, then it backed off quickly and swerved from side to side. All the while, flashing bright lights off and on. The vehicle came parallel to the van and revved its engine several time before it dropped off and went right behind the van; the front end of the vehicle hidden in the rear mirrors of the van.

“I’m going to get rid of this piss head.” The driver swerved back and forth in an attempt to frighten his tailgater. The van’s big Michelin tires threw gravel and sand behind it, kicking up quite a dust storm.

“Look at the dust back there, dude.

The driver made a sharp U-turn, kicking up even more dust. Jordan was tossed around the back of the van like a pin-ball ball.

“I’m going to scare the shit out of this guy.”

The dust made it almost impossible for the two men to see anything in front of them or behind them.

“Can you see his head lights”?

“No, dude, I can’t see anything.”

The sat quite for a moment and then the rear van doors were ripped open. Frank and Dodger stepped up inside in a split second. Frank helped Jordan to her feet while Dodger held the gun on the two men.

“Put your hands on the steering wheel. Both of you.”

No one moved.

“Now,” Dodger shouted.

The men did as Dodger instructed, but reluctantly. Frank used electrical tape to fasten their hands to the steering wheel.

“This is bullshit, man,” the driver protested.

Dodger shoved the gun to the driver’s head. “No, bullshit is when you grab a women from the streets and force her to go with you to do God only knows what to her. You boys just relax for a while and think about how you could or should have done things differently. Someone will be here soon to get you.”

Frank snipped off Jordan’s plastic handcuffs and the three of them left the van. Jordan pulled the tape from her mouth.

“How did you find me?”

“We never really lost you. We followed you from the apartment building.” Frank explained. “We could see you needed some time alone so we gave you some space.”

Jordan threw her arms around Frank’s neck. “Thank you. I was so freaked out. I didn’t know where they were taking me.”

“How about me?” Dodger said.

Jordan ran to him and when she reached him he put his hands on her shoulders and kissed her. Kissed her hard, smack dab on the mouth. She melted at his touch. The kiss lasted about sixty seconds and when Dodger released her Jordan stumbled backwards. He caught her arm to steady her.

“Come on. Let’s get out of here.”

“What’s going to happen to them,” she asked.

“We have someone coming for them.”

She didn’t question things any further. She was just happy to be back inside the beamer.

***

Jordan woke up just as the sun was coming up in the east. Dodger was beside her and sleeping.

“Where are we?”

“Almost to New York.” Frank answered

“New York? City?”

“That’s the one.” Frank smiled.

“I can’t go to New York. I’m due at work.”

“You’re going to call off today.”

Dodger woke up. “Coffee.”

“He’s cranky without his morning coffee.” Frank answered.

Dodger pulled his ball cap down over his face and folded his arms around his chest.

“Wake me when we get some.”

“There’s a rest stop ahead. We can go in there.”

It was evident to Jordan that she wasn’t going to talk Frank into turning the car around and take her home. She had chosen to hang with Frank and Dodger and this is what has happened. Jordan went to the restroom and used her cell to call work. She lied and said she wasn’t feeling well. She had to speak to her immediate supervisor who gave her hell for being sick and said she was needed at work. He finished the conversation by telling her illness was had better only last a day. He made Jordan so angry she threw her phone against the wall. Dumb move. It broke into several pieces. She tried to recover them all but it didn’t really matter. The phone no longer worked.

A word about writing….

Some of you have been following my Short Story Thursdays and if you have seen the last few Thursdays posts you know that I am writing the story Choices as time goes along. I don’t have an ending, what you see from week to week is what I’m writing from week to week. I was writing tonight and realized I’m at a stand still. I found the last 250 words I wrote were nothing but fluff, which means I have no idea where I’m heading with the story.  About 500 words ago I thought I knew exactly where I was headed, but Jordan wasn’t cooperating and headed down a road I didn’t know she was going to take.

That might sound a little funny, but if you do any writing at all you know your characters some times have a mind of their own. I can be writing just as fast as my fingers can move along the keyboard and find out that my characters, in this case Jordan, has made a turn I wasn’t prepared to take. I started typing tonight to get her out of a sticky situation, but for some reason every avenue I thought to take wasn’t going to work. I needed help and so did she.

I thought if I took this short break to tell you what is happening in the story, it might give me enough time to figure out what she is going to do and headed for next. So hang in there with me, with us, it might be a bumpy ride.

Ahhh…contentment

I know that if I should ever be low and lying sick that I can recall all my Ahhh moments. Moments like watching the sunset at Captive Island in Florida or the sunset at Crotch Lake in Canada, or the sunset on Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Island. They are magnificent and breathtaking. All of us have those special moments in our lives, when it seems the stars must be aligned, and everything is in order. We are content.

My first real experience with contentment was when our daughter, Karen, was only a couple of weeks old. She was born in November, and the November temperatures were leaning more toward winter than that of fall, and we had had a very busy day with family visiting the new baby. It was eight o’clock in the evening, eight being early, but not so much with a newborn because you caught sleep whenever it was available. I had put on my flannels and robe, my husband had rented a movie and it was time to settle in for the night. I fed Karen her bottle, and held her in my arms, watching her sleep peacefully.

I was warm, she was warm and all was right with the world. It was at that time that I was most content in my lifetime. I cannot remember a more peaceful time in my entire life. The stars were aligned. I can remember that time as if it were yesterday.

When Karen was seven, we traveled to St. John, United State Virgin Island for vacation. Even though St. John is considered the United States, it is tropical and located in the Caribbean. We landed in St. Thomas, ferried over to St. John, and rented a rag-top Suzuki for the week. Karen was strapped in the back seat with the luggage on our way to the villa. We had only talked with the airport personnel, the cab driver and with the vehicle rental agent. We are winding our way up and down the hill driven roads, driving on the left as they do there, feeling the warm wind in our faces when a small voice from the backseat said, “I tink I gonna like it here, mon.” Karen had picked up the dialect. Another content and happy moment.

Canada in late July can run hot or cold, literally, but even if the temperature should be 75 degrees in the middle of the day, at night on the lake the temperature can drop 10 to 15 degrees and be quite chilly. We fish day and night. Ernest Hemmingway said it best, “Fish too much, can’t be done.” We have taken several family fishing vacations on Crotch Lake and every single time, I am always wanting more by the time we leave. I am content on the water. It is still, clean and peaceful.

We enjoyed St. John so much we wanted to explore another Caribbean island, and set sail, so to speak, for Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Island. We flew into St. Thomas, just as we did for St. John, took a long ferry ride because Virgin Gorda is much farther from St. Thomas than St. John, and rented a rag top once again. It is a British Island, so driving on the left is normal. It is a beautiful tropical island, and famous for The Baths. The Baths are giant boulders resting on beautiful sandy beaches, with boulder caves to explore. They are above ground caverns. Exploring the caves is like nothing else I have done in my life. You need to be able to climb around rocks, duck through small places and wade through crystal clear water. One of the areas inside The Baths is called The Cathedral. Looking up says it all. It’s a tiny peek at God’s heaven on earth that will make you say “Ahhhh.” Contentment.

So, if I should ever be down and out I need only to recall all the content moments that I have experience so far in my life. I hope there are many more and I hope all of you can rely on your Ahhh moments too.

Choices…Part 4

Lauren stomped on the breaks, but it was too late. The deer’s head came crashing through the windshield. The front of the car buckled against the deer’s massive body and the driver’s seat door flew open on impact. The air bag deployed, but that wouldn’t help Lauren. She wasn’t wearing a seat belt and her body was thrown twenty feet from the car.

“Holy shit! Dodger shouted. He brought the beamer to a screeching halt.

“Oh no,” Jordan yelled. She ran from the car and to where Lauren was lying on the side of the road.

Frank and Haley crawled out of the back seat of the beetle through the passenger door. Blood ran down Haley’s face. Frank examined the top of her head and found a deep gash along her hairline.

“Dodger,” he yelled. “Bring me the kit.”

Dodger brought the first aid kit from the trunk. He immediately went running to Lauren. She was unconscious.

“What do we do?” Jordan was pale.

Dodger felt Lauren’s neck. “She’s got a pulse.”

Jordan pulled out her cell phone and began dialing 911.

Dodger snatched it from her hands.

“What are you doing?” she screamed.

“You can’t call for help,” he said,

“What not?”

“We’ve all been drinking.”

“It doesn’t matter. She needs help.”

“Give me a minute.”

Jordan watched in horror.

Dodger felt around Laruen for any broken bones or open wounds. The exposed skin on her body was covered in road rash. Blood swelled to the surface.

“Give me my phone,” Jordan demanded.

Dodger ignored Jordan and continued to work on Lauren.

This time Jordan screamed as loud as she could. “I said, give me my phone.” She was about to attack Dodger when Frank grabbed her from behind. He put his arms around her so she couldn’t move. She squirmed in his arms but was unable to break free. Haley slowly came to them and sat on the ground. Frank had bandaged her head and she held her chin in the palm of her hand as if she were holding it up.

“Let me go,” Jordan yelled.

“Shhhh,” Frank tried to calm her. “Dodger knows what he’s doing. He’s had training.”

“What is he? Some kind of doctor?”

“Not exactly,” Frank said.

“Then she needs one.” Jordan stomped as hard as she could on Frank’s foot.

“Shit!” he yelled but didn’t let go; he tightened his grip. “No need for that. I’m telling you, he knows what he’s doing. Think about this for a minute. If we call the police we will all be arrested. You don’t want to go to jail tonight, right?”

“No, but I don’t want to see her die either.”

“She’s not dying,” Frank said.

“She sure looks like it.”

Jordan was weak from drinking, her muscles like gelatin. She was unable to get free from Frank’s grip. What took ten minutes seem like an eternity. Lauren finally opened her eyes.

“Hey Lauren,” Dodger said. “Good to see you. Don’t move just yet. Do you know where you are?”

It took a minute for Lauren to answer. “Yes.”

“Where’s that?’

“I had an accident.” She thought for a minute. “I hit a deer.”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Where’s Haley?”

“She’s sitting right here beside me, but don’t turn your head just yet.”

“Haley,” Lauren called out.

Haley, still in shock, looked toward Lauren.

“Haley, are you there?”

“Yes, I’m here.”

“Are you okay?”

“I hit my head.”

“Is she okay? She sounds funny.”

“She’s fine. You’ll be able to get up in a minute and see her. You don’t have any broken bones that I can tell. I’m going to sit you up gradually. You can rest against me.” Dodger helped her up and she instantly looked at Haley.

“Ohmygod!”

“She looks worse than she is, I assure you,” Frank said.

“Is the ambulance on its way?”

“Not exactly,” Frank answered. “We are going to leave here on our own.”

“Why?”

“We’ve all been drinking.”

“Oh, right.” Lauren looked behind her at her car. The deer still hanging through it.

“What will we do with my car?”

“I’m going to call a friend. He will come and get it and bring it to a nearby auto shop. Then you can call your insurance company and tell them you hit a deer and had the car towed. Do you think you can stand up?”

“I’ll try.”

Dodger helped her up. He held her steady on her feet and helped her walk to the beamer. Once she was in the back seat he went for Haley.

Frank let go of Jordan, who remained steamed over the entire situation. Dodger and Frank talked to the girls all the way to Lauren’s apartment, sizing them up for serious injuries. Jordan fell asleep for some of the ride and had no idea where they were when she woke. She was alone in the car and parked in front of a high-rise apartment building. She reached for her cell but remembered that Dodger had taken it. She rummaged through all the compartments in the car in hopes of finding either her cell or someone else’s phone. Her head was pounding from all the alcohol and probably from whatever pill she popped. She fell back into the leather seat to think. She must be at Lauren’s apartment. She assumed the guys were helping the girls inside and would be back soon. Her choice now was to stay or go. It was 5:00 a.m., still dark and cold outside. She could take off walking but she didn’t even know which way to go since she didn’t have a clue as to where she was. She wondered if the guys were going to take her back to her car or would they want to do something else. She could hardly believe it, but she just wanted to go home. She was thirsty and her mouth felt like it was full of cotton. She had gum in her purse, but it was then that she realized she didn’t have her purse and she hadn’t see it since she had been at The Byre. If she took off now, without her purse, she would be without money, credit card or identification. She could see the guys coming from the apartment entrance. In a split second she decided to go it alone. She got out of the car and ran away from the complex and the car. She was hoping to be out of sight by the time the guys got to the car.

Jordan ran until she became winded, which didn’t take too long considering the night she had been through. She wasn’t used to such partying. The complex must have been on the outskirts of a city because there was nothing around except factories and shops; an industrial area. Car lights approached her the front. The car turned into one of the factories. It was just about shift change, she thought. She began to see more cars, one at a time, coming from all directions driving into the factory parking lots. A van with a loud muffler approached her from behind. It seemed to slow as it came near her. It slowed down to her walking pace and stayed right behind her. She was a little frightened. She became so afraid that she decided to walk through one of the parking lots and enter a factory. Surely it would be safer inside with other people around. But she didn’t get the chance.

My dad wanted boys

It was no secret that my dad wanted boys. Instead, he got two girls. He didn’t love us any less but we all knew he would have loved to come to attend his kids baseball games, show his kids how to use his tools, and show them out to fix their cars. Instead, he had to tell stories of taking us camping in our little pull-behind-a-car trailer and spend the entire weekend filling the water tank up so my sister and I could wash our hair, do our nails and so on. Instead, he had to endure the fights between sports on TV or beach party movies, you know, chick flicks. My sis and I weren’t born with any sports genes. None.

My adult daughter just came to the house to pick up her soft-ball and glove to play catch with her boyfriend. It’s funny, but my sister’s two kids and our daughter have plenty of sports genes to go around. It must have skipped a generation, or come from their dads. My dad lived long enough to watch my nephew and niece play soccer, and they were good! He didn’t live long enough to watch our daughter play soft-ball and help pitch the city league team to the win, or come to her cross country and track meets where she received lots of medals.

My sis and I laugh when we talk about what our names would have been if we had been boys. We can only remember Jeff, not the other name, so we fight over who would have been Jeff. When I worked at the plastic factory, as an adult, the employees there started a softball team. I always joined in things, pot lucks, home décor parties, la-la-la, so a lil ‘ol softball wasn’t going to stop me from joining in, even if I had no idea what I was doing. My foreman, and my friend, also encouraged me to play. She was certain she could teach me skills and I would be somehow be an asset.

Well, this tickled the heck out of my dad. He was finally going to get to see a son play some sports! He was so excited he took me to purchase my glove and bat. Helped me soften my glove and got just the right weight bat for my weight, which at the time was around 103 lbs. soaking wet.

We had practice after practice and I was beginning to see that my foreman/friend was having a bit of difficulty on placing me in the game. I ended up in left field, w-a-y out in left field. (I think I was still on the field) Luckily, no one ever hit a ball my way. I did my ready stance and looked good on the field. This was easy. A couple of games in, dad came to see me play. Well, alright. Now he was gonna be real proud of his daughter/son.

Half way through the opposite teams turn at bat, my foreman yells, left-hand batter. I nod like I know what this means. She says, “Cindy heads up.” I looked puzzled. Was this different somehow? She yells, “Coming your way.” What’s coming my way? Or crap! I get it. Okay then, Dad’s watching and I can do this.

A swing and a miss. Another swing and a miss. One more she’s out. She hits the ball and hits it hard. Hard enough to come all the way out to the very back of the field where I am standing. I run up to get it. I scoop it up from the ground (didn’t make the catch) run in one-two steps because I can see it’s a l-o-n-g way to my team mate at third base. I can do this! For dad! I heave back my arm with the ball and throw it. Throw it as hard as I can.

I throw under-hand. CRAP. Like a real girl. The ball goes straight up in the air and comes straight back down in front of me. The hitter runs home and scores a home run. I yell out a very bad word and throw my mitt to the ground. The third baseman runs out to meet me half way where I can manage to throw the ball to her. Gee-whiz, that was embarrassing. I can see my dad is trying his hardest not to laugh out loud because he knows I am upset. I am upset because I have disappointed my dad. Full circle. My foreman/friend walks out to me, puts her arm around me and tells me it’s okay. “Good try.” She always was good for my morale. She said in some ways I was her best team player because I showed up for all the practices and all the games. Nice.

Well dad never got his boys, but he sure got a lot of good stories to tell the guys at work. I’m sure my sis and I were often the reason for laughter.

Choices…Part 3

“Wild shit.” Dodger added.

Jordan was still shaking when she hopped into the back seat of the beamer.

“Did you see the look on their faces when they saw the gun was real?” Frank laughed.

“Punks.” Dodger huffed.

“The younger guy was on the news. He was arrested for rape.” Jordan opened a new bottle of whisky and took a sip.

“Are you all right, Jordan?” asked Frank. He looked at her through the rearview mirror.

Dodger crawled over the front seat and snuggled in beside her. “It wasn’t even a close call. I’ve got something that will help calm you.” He rummaged in his coat pocket and pulled out a prescription bottle. ”Take one of these.”

“What is it?’ Jordan wanted to stop shaking so she took a pill.

“A light sedative.” She had to take a bigger gulp of whisky to get the pill down. Her eyes watered.

“Frank, you want one?”

“Why not.” Dodger took one too.

“You have a gun.” Jordan said.

“It came in handy.” Dodger answered.

Jordan took another drink. “Stolen alcohol, pills and a gun.”

“America,” Dodger laughed.

The alcohol, the pill, or both were doing what they were supposed to do and Jordan was relaxed. She laughed and took another big gulp. This time the liquid went smoothly down her throat and she felt the warmth all the way to her stomach.

“You boys sure know how to show a girl a fun time,” she laughed out loud and so did the guys. “What’s next?”

“Look who’s getting her adrenaline on.” Dodger said.

“The man of a few words, speaks.” Jordan teased.

Dodge grabbed her by the neck and rubbed her head like she was a child. After all that had happened in a few hours, she thought she should probably be on the alert with the men, but somehow she felt at ease and comfortable.

“I’m in for some music. Are there any honky tonks around here?” asked Frank.

Dodger shook his head. “Who says honky tonk?”

“Would you prefer speakeasy,” Jordan asked.

Frank laughed so hard he snorted. “That’s probably what you’d find in your dry county.”

“Well, I wasn’t exactly kidding. There’s one about a half hour from here.”

“An actual establishment that sells liquor without a license?” He was making fun of her.

“Yeah.”

“Point the way darling’,” Frank said.

By the time they had reached The Byre, it was like the three of them had been friends for years. Frank snaked the car through a winding gravel road that seemed to disappear into nowhere. Just a big wooded area. The path narrowed to just one car width.

“Are you sure there’s something back here?” The beamer’s headlamps lit up tree, after tree after tree.

“Just up around the bend there. You can barely see the lights.” Jordan pointed to something in the distance.

It was then that the faint rumble and vibrations could be heard and felt from the bass in the music. The old barn building sprung up and appeared as if it was some sort of magic trick. A few dozen cars were parked in no particular order. Jordan jumped from the car just as Frank put it in park. The guys followed and the three of them ran toward the music. They didn’t waste time. Dodger grabbed Jordan by the hand and they headed to the dance floor. Frank found the bar. The music was country and many of the people were line dancing but there were others just doing their own thing. That was Dodger’s style. The dance floor was made from unfinished pine planks and consumed the entire center of the bar. The bar was the entire perimeter of the room with high top tables, double rowed, between the bar and the dance floor.

The bar ran the outer walls of the barn and high top tables in front of the bar were lit by Mason jar candles. Strands of uncovered light bulbs hung loosely covering the barn ceiling. It was beautiful in a rustic sort of way. The place was crowded. People filled the dance floor and lined the bar area three deep. There were five members to the live band, currently performing a Brooks and Dunn song, Boot Scootin’ Boogie.

Frank purchased three beers and found a table to share with a couple of women. Dodger and Jordan joined them after three dances. She learned about the women through Frank who had questioned them with his charm and finesse. Lauren was grill cook at a local Wendy’s and Haley worked at the candle factory on third shift. She and Jordan hit it off talking about all the things that go wrong at work. Jordan, Lauren and Haley were pretty drunk at closing time.

Lauren invited everyone over to her apartment to continue the party. Dodger drove the beamer and followed Frank and the women in Lauren’s car. Once the long exit line of cars were free on the road, Lauren started weaving all over the road. She was going at least fifteen miles over the speed limit. It was a good thing they were on country roads after 3:00 o’clock in the morning. Dodger used the horn when he thought they were too close to the shoulder of the road.

After four or five of those he got out his cell phone.

“What’s up?’ Frank answered.

“She’s not driving too well, man.”

Dodger put the phone on speaker so Jordan could hear too. The girls were signing to a song on the radio and laughing between notes.

“She’s not too bad. She only swerves when she tries to find a new song on the radio.”

“You should take that over then.” Jordan joked.

“It’s too far from the back seat.”

“You and Haley in the back?’ Jordan asked

“Yes, how else could we stretch out?”

“That explains a lot.” Dodger grinned.

“We’re only a few minutes away.” Lauren shouted.

Jordan looked around. “We’re still in the country. I don’t see any houses or apartments.”

Jordan was looking left and didn’t see what was about to happen, she only heard the screech of the tires and Dodger, “Damn!”

Two deer came out of the dark and into the road. Deer number one made it past, but Laruen’s Volkswagen bug caught the other full-on with the front of her car.

A word about Short Story Thursday…

Hey there! I am going to let you in on something. The first two stories for Short Story Thursday where written completely when I put them out there. Not so much with Choices. I had a good start to the story and thought by putting it out there it would make me finish it. It went well for Part 2. Tomorrow is Part 3 and I am still writing that part tonight. So you, the readers, have become part of my work in progress. So I’m not sure at this point how long the story is or when it will be complete. Kinda cool. I’m only behind because my free-from-work hours have been filled as of late.

I am going to ask you to help me with something else, once the story is finished. Choices is a working title and I don’t really like it. So at the end of the story I would love to hear your ideas for a new title.

I’d better get busy writing.

February 2023
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728