Time and Neighbors

Time and Neighbors

Shocking how fast time passes you by, thinking you have 90 years if you are lucky. When you are 20 it seems like an eternity, many have no idea what is meant by eternity they count minutes to get out of work, seconds when having sex, or at least you do when you get to be my age.

You know all the sayings, in the end, you never say “I wish I spent more time at work” you know the list it goes on and on then the list comes up of would have, should have and wish I did.

For me, I did all I wanted to do with no regrets at all? I seriously have no regrets. In high school, I made all the teams I wanted, received good grades easily, married my college sweetheart, and had 5 kids all are doing well. Why am I yammering on and on? Because the only thing I wish I had right now is more time on earth to keep doing what I do best. Be a pain in the ass old fart. You see I do not regret my life I regret those things I allowed others to do, like, my neighbor when he borrowed the lawnmower brought it back a week later. There was no gas and the electric start did not work anymore. I should have told him to either buy me a new one or fix this one. Nope, I quietly went about fixing it. When he came to borrow it I told him the charge would be $15 he asked why I said because that is what it cost me to fix it after you borrowed it last time.

I was glad when the neighbor moved that year; he did not speak to me after that incident. I have plenty of stories like this as to how people treated me. I always did my best to treat others fairly. Here is my thinking if there are any brownie points for being a good guy I would like to cash mine in and stay on this earth as an old person being nice but gnarly enough to pay back those types who do this to good neighbors or friends.

What do you think Joe is that a good plan?

“Actually I like that plan, but for me, it would backfire I am lacking the brownie points cuz I did not do as well as you did. In fact, your last 2 kids should actually have my name.”

At that point Marvin lifted his cane and struck down Joe; nurses and aides came running, telling Marvin to put the cane down. Marvin did right alongside Joe’s head.

After they took Joe to the emergency room they asked Marvin why he did that.

He said:

“I figured those last two kids my wife had were not mine. Those two idiots always broke my stuff and never took the time to learn to fix anything, they had to be Joe’s’”

Marvin said to Joe: “It took you 2 weeks Joe to get out of the hospital with a few bruises to show for my trouble and your karma; while you were there I was sent to a hospital for a 72 hour evaluation, the doctor ultimately said that this was out of character for me and he did not feel I posed any real threat to myself or others so back I went to assisted living.”

It’s been different after the incident people are real nice to me, asking how I am, could they get anything for me? I play that aspect up seems a long time in coming my way, people ready to help or give to me; don’t you think Joe?

Joe: “I agree you were always the nice guy on the block, many took advantage of so often especially me; let me say I am sorry, but to be honest I do not think I am.”

Marvin: “That’s ok Joe I understand, Joe you do not seem the type to repent so do not waste your breath we can be neighbors of a different sort now that we are both in the same assisted living.”

Joe: “That is true Marvin glad you still have a good attitude about things.”

After that comment one of the aides must have seen Joe and I talking because she came and pulled Joe’s wheelchair to another location. I just meandered over and started to talk to Prissy; that is my nickname for her. Her given name is Mary but I think Prissy suits her better. She blushes each time I call her that. Prissy and I have known each other since high school, we dated a few times, we are scheduled to go on an outing with the rest of the clowns here and take the facilities clown mobile to hear some guys play music in the park. Prissy has agreed to go arm and arm with me.

As we got on the bus I was sure to sit next to the section for wheelchairs. Prissy sat by the window I sat on the aisle. All of us elder clowns settled in for the short ride to the park. When the bus stopped it is always the ones in wheelchairs who get off the clown mobile first. The ramp is automated it went down. Figuring since I am still somewhat able bodied I would give a little helping hand; the problem was I must have pushed Joe’s wheelchair a little harder than I meant too. Joe went off the ramp too quickly and landed face forward onto the pavement.

No one noticed that I gave his chair a little push; they thought Joe started out on his own to get away from me and miss calculated his exit. Joe was taken to the hospital and Prissy and I enjoyed the music.

Joe came back to the facility with a concussion and a big lump on his head. It could have been worse I suppose. Prissy and I sneak into each other’s rooms to get what little we can give. It is nice to have a warm body lay against you at any age. I hear that Joe has a sweetheart seems she feels sorry for him and has taken it upon herself to take care of him. Her name is Jeannie. I actually call her Beanie, she does not seem to have any magic like a Jeannie, more like a brain fart using a walker.

One evening when I was walking Prissy back to her room I noticed the light was on in Joes room strange noises were also coming from there. I lingered at Prissy’s for a goodnight kiss. When passing Joe’s room it was quiet and dark. I hear a scuffle and a shuffle coming back my way, it was Joe with a walker instead of his wheelchair. I stopped to ask “Hey Joe you using a walker now?”

“Yes, Marvin they wanted me to start walking so I did some rehab work the first time I went to the hospital. After you clobbered me, and the second time I went after I fell out of the senior bus.”

“Well Joe that is great news and how’s that Beanie treating you?”

“Marvin I wish you would not call her that, she is treating me just fine.”

“Well Joe I think that is good news too, you have a good night there Joe.”

“You too Marvin,” Joe Yelled.

I slept like a baby that night always do when I get lucky. Looking forward to breakfast in the dining room tomorrow they are giving us a choice for a change. Pancakes or waffles with sausage or bacon; pancakes with bacon for me.

Morning came I jumped up out of bed like a new pup, I told Prissy the night before I would come down and walk her to the dining room for breakfast. As Prissy and I were on our way to the dining room Joe was coming out of his room turning to close his door. Somehow when he turned back my cane got snagged on his walker, poor Joe I tried to catch him before he hit the carpet but all I managed to do was turn him so his head hit the wall. I was leaning over him trying to help him up when the aide came and said for me not to worry she will help him up.

Poor Joe missed breakfast that morning he said he had a bad headache.

Joe was at his physical therapy workout, Prissy was with her daughter shopping buying needful things. My son who as it turns out is Joe’s son brought me some cookies I ordered. After he left I went looking for Beanie who is actually Jeannie, well anyways if you were paying attention while I was telling this story you would know that. I found Beanie in the dining room drinking coffee. It really does not pass for coffee but that is all they serve, I sat next to Beanie and said

Marvin: “Good Morning Jeannie, how are you this morning?”

Jeannie: “OH I am fine Marvin and thank you so much for using my proper name, Joe said he talked to you about it.”

Marvin: “That he did, so as a peace offering I thought I would give you some of these chocolate cookies. You have my permission to tell Joe that they are from you. I know how he likes chocolate.”

Jeannie: “Oh Marvin thank you so very much, I need these as a peace offering, Joe was a bit upset with me when I bought him a shirt and told him he needed something nice to wear. Guess he does not like people buying him clothes.”

“Well feel free to give him the cookies letting him know they are from you, I just think you two are a great couple.”

At that, the Beanie blushed. It could have been a brain fart. Her figuring I would give Joe anything, but like I told you her name should be Beanie.

Prissy finally came back in time for dinner a bit late but I waited and we sat alone in the dining room which worked for my benefit because we held hands and did all the quiet cooing to each other. We then went to her room. I was back in my room in time to watch the late news. I heard the commotion at the other end of the building. I walked over to where the noise was coming from. I heard loud music the song that was playing was, ‘Take a walk on the wild side’. I vaguely remember who sang it some weirdo called Lou Reed. That was not what drew the crowd. Joe and Beanie were naked in the hall dancing and what looked like trying to do the nasty at the same time. They were asking everyone watching on to join in. Some did by the way. I waved at Prissy threw her a kiss and meandered back to my room figuring my work is done.

Heard the next morning both of their family members were asked to come in and discuss the behavior of their parents. Joe and Beanie were put on probation with the facility one more outburst they will be kicked out.

Lucky for me Beanie could not remember where she got the cookies. From the gossip, she actually highly recommended them to all who were present at the disciplinary meeting.

Every year at this time the facility puts on a Sadie Hawkins dance. The girls are supposed to ask the guys to the dance. Prissy made sure she asked me to go I giggled like a schoolboy and said yes. She loves it when I play things up like that.

What surprised me was, when I was sitting outside enjoying a warm autumn day, Beanie came and sat next to me. I looked at her; she was squirming, so I asked her “What’s going on Jeannie you seem uncomfortable?” I noticed out of my peripheral Joe stepped out the door. Beanie was oblivious to this when she answered me “I was wondering if you would go to the Sadie Hawkins dance with me?”

Joe froze in place my answer was “Sorry Jeannie, Prissy has already asked me and to be honest I am a one woman kind of guy. Unlike your Joe, it seems while he was married to his wife, he had an affair with mine. Recently he told me my last two kids should have his last name.”

She was appalled at that information, as Joe was hearing his Jeannie asking me out on a date; it was like the Detroit Tigers winning the Pennant for me.

Jeannie turned around and seen Joe standing there. She stood up faced him and asked: “Are you being faithful to me?”

He said, “Look who’s talking you just asked this asshole to go to the dance with you.”

She said, “That is because you said no, you do not like dances!”

He said, “Oh, I guess that is true, and no I learned my lesson I am a one woman man.”

Jeannie took a step back, I went inside and watched; she still seemed angry, I turned to someone who asked me “What are they arguing about?”

I answered “Not quite sure, Jeannie is accusing Joe of cheating”

Glenn was the guy asking “Oh then she found out about Mildred.”

Holy crap he is cheating, I cracked the door open and said: “Hey Jeannie ask him about Mildred.”

Joe took in a deep breath turned around and mouthed the F U word. Jeannie took the opportunity raised her walker and shoved Joe through the glass door. This time I cannot be blamed for it. This time Joe did not recover, a shard of glass went through his carotid artery.

Jeannie was moved to another facility. Prissy and I went to the dance and had a grand time.

Been quite around here since Joe passed and they moved Beanie to another facility. Usually, this facility takes a week to repaint, recarpet rooms. The rooms go fast; there is a waiting list for this place. Out of all the places I visited before choosing this one I know with all my complaints this is the best of the best. I wonder who will move into Joe’s room and Beanie’s room. They built another addition down at that end of Joe’s corridor just beyond Prissy’s room. 8 more rooms were added. I call them rooms but they are mini apartments with stoves and refrigerators, microwaves. You can make your own meals or go to the dining room. I prefer someone else cook but sometimes Prissy has me over for a meal. She is a good cook and it saves time for the romantic stuff, dinner and bed are good with me.

My daughter picked Prissy and I up to take us to her place for a barbecue we were gone till around 7 pm. When we got back, of course, Prissy and I got diggy with it. As I was leaving her place I walked passed Joe’s old room and realized there was a new tenant. Now my curiosity is peaked. I am looking forward to morning. Before I got back to my room I came across Glenn he told me the new units are all filled to capacity. Good, this should make life a bit more interesting.

At breakfast the next morning I am usually the first one in the dining room. Early riser gets to see what worms pop out of the ground. Sure enough from Joe’s corridor came someone I recognized. His name is Abe he lived a block away; I would always pass his house on the way home from work every day. I suspected he was a dealer, with all the comings and goings. New car every year, never seemed to go to work. Later it seemed he started to use. I say this because there was no other explanation for the way his property became neglected like it did.

I only have one big thing against Abe. On one of his drunken orgy nights, he was coming home from somewhere drove up on my lawn and ran over my dog. Well looks like I will stay busy for a while.

I called out “Hey Abe why don’t you join me?”

“Hey, Marvin don’t mind if I do.”

“So Abe what is a young fella like you doing in a place like this?”

“My family thought it would be safer for me to be here they said I should not live alone anymore since Laurie died I have had a few accidents.”

“Accidents? I hear your house blew up.”

“Yes, it did that would not have happened if Laurie was still alive, she was careful about everything. I was never a good cook, she was great at it.”

“I know what you mean, even though we have all we need to cook our own food I prefer coming to the dining room.”

“So Marvin have you seen Martin yet? He moved into the new addition down the corridor from me, so did John.”

“No I hadn’t yet, you guys are at least 10 years younger than I am way too young to be in the fossil facility.”

“I have to admit we are here due to our unclean living I suspect, Marvin you always took good care of yourself.”

“Well, you got a point there.”

“I need to finally apologize to you Marvin, for running on your grass that stupid night.”

“You also ran over my dog.”

“Oh, I am sorry for that also then.”

You know that conversation put me off, not only did he not care about killing my dog, his druggie cohorts have moved in down the hall from Prissy. I do not like that. I need to move forward with my plans.

I had a moment with the director of the facility, I am moving into a bigger unit. Prissy came down to help me with the move after we moved the last piece of my junk I asked Prissy to sit down; she sat I knelt, “Prissy will you marry me?”

She cried and said yes.

The facility was happy to get two single rooms more bang for their buck. Prissy’s daughter said she would handle everything. Since many of the seniors do not drive we decided to marry at the facility, have it catered; fine with me closer to the bedroom for the honeymoon.

The wedding day is here everyone is in such a tizzy, telling me I am not supposed to see the bride before the ceremony so they had me sleep at my daughter’s house. Our drive to the facility that morning, my daughter must have been nervous she was chatty; my son in law kept looking at me in the rearview mirror and looking at his wife chatter away. I finally said Cathy, relax I have done this before; I know you did a great job.

Cathy said “Dad, Jeannie told me what you said about Joe and mom. First off mom would never do that to you; secondly, all of Joe’s kids are adopted, because Joe was unable to have kids if you know what I mean.

I was stunned, I was so wrapped up in my macho ego I never considered Sarah would never cheat on me, I only reacted to what Joe said. I am an idiot.

Cathy continued “Dad, Luke, and Paul are how they are because that is what they chose to be, you gave them the same love and attention you gave Matthew and me, they chose to be dumb and dumber.”

I replied, “Thank you, Cathy you are as wise as your mom, Prissy is good for me I can be a bit of a Neanderthal at times, also a bull in a china cabinet.”

Cathy turned to look at me in the backseat and said: “I love you, dad.”

“I love you too Pinky”

Getting out of the car, straightening my slacks, pulling on my suit coat I look over to my right I see Abe running to a paneled van and getting in. Guess he won’t be at the wedding. As they drive by I said out loud not to anyone in particular “What the hell is Martin doing driving a van?”

Cathy’s husband Mark said, “What do you mean Marvin?”

“He no longer has a license since he was pulled over for a DUI with John on their way to a ball game, he is also considered legally blind, that is the reason he is in this facility.”

Mark and Cathy were alarmed about this and as soon as we walked into the facility they went directly to the director, she instantly got on her cell phone.

The place looked incredible with all the flowers, the residence in their Sunday best. The preacher was standing at a makeshift altar: I walked up and took my place, the music started and Prissy came around the corner, she still looks like the girl I dated in high school. I never thought I could love another woman after Laurie passed away, but Prissy is my girl.

The Preacher said “Marvin will you take Mary Ann to be your lawfully married wife, to have and to hold till death do you part.”

“Mary Ann who? Oh Prissy, yes of course.”

This got a laugh from everyone including Prissy. The preacher seemed a little confused after a beat or two he figured it out.

He then said “Mary Ann-ah Prissy will you take Marvin Clodinsky to be your lawfully married husband to have and to hold till death do you part.”

Prissy smiled like and angel and said “I do”

I said “You must be crazy to say yes”

Again everyone laughed and Prissy slapped my chest and said: “Oh You!”

By the time we had cake police officers had brought Abe, Martin, and John back to the facility and was having a talk with the director. You have to know my curiosity was peaked.

Prissy noticed my interest and attention drifted over to where the three amigos were standing looking forlorn.

She said, “Now Marvy, do not get involved, I know how you are, the director will sort it out.”

Answering her with a wink and a smile “You are right Prissy my wife, I need to keep my nose out of it, I have a tendency to jump to conclusions.” I proceeded to tell her what Cathy told me in the car and my thoughts on the conversation. Figuring it is best, to be honest with Prissy.

We had a grand night, snuck in some contraband which my daughter in law gave us, Champagne. The facility frowns on alcohol use by its residence, with us being a crotchety bunch, and mixing alcohol with our meds I can understand why.


Prissy and I did not come out of our room much for a couple of days. She wanted to play the wife, cooking breakfast, lingering over coffee, chatting petting, having lunch going for a walk outside hand in hand, coming back to our place reading the paper companionably, dinner, watching TV before turning in and loving each other.

I had restraint for 3 days. I wanted so desperately to sneak out of our apartment while Prissy was sleeping, by the 4th night I could not take it anymore I wanted to see if there was anything odd going on down Abe’s corridor. I walked down to his room no light was on so I continued into the new section, I smelled something odd coming from John’s room. I heard Abe and Martin talking it was a muffled sound. John’s room is situated at the very end of the new wing.

Standing near the door for a few moments concentrating on what was being said to see if I could pick up any words being spoken I heard Abe say clearly “Do not let it get too hot, that is what happened to me just before the house started on fire, I got out just before it blew up.”

My eyes started to burn, as well as my throat. What the heck are they doing in there? I turned to go back down the corridor to alert who was on duty tell them what I suspected. I made it to the entrance of the new wing when the blast hit. It felt like someone shoved me forward. I landed flat on my stomach, my heart pounding, ears ringing, people yelling in fear I passed out.

I woke up hours later in the hospital, Prissy standing next to the bed crying, with my daughter crying holding each other. My son in law Mark was at the foot of the bed, my son Matthew was standing next to him, Luke and Paul were standing in the door. Mark was the first to speak “He’s awake.”

Prissy cried out “Oh Marvin what am I going to do with you! You could have been killed!”

I asked, “Was anyone else hurt?”

Matthew answered, “Abe, Martin, and John died in the blast, dad you were right Abe was a dealer, in fact, dumb and dumber used to buy from him.”

I looked at Luke and Paul their heads were down and would not look at me I said to them “Used too, please tell me you no longer buy from anyone; please tell me you are getting your shit together.”

Luke spoke up “Dad we are both going to rehab have been clean and sober for a year, I will not tell you it is easy but I will tell you, you were right about all the stuff you told us getting hooked is a bitch.”

At that, I felt exhausted and must have fallen asleep. I was in the hospital for 2 days. They sent me back to the facility with a hospice nurse for continued care.

Prissy hovered over me, my greatest fear was losing my mobility, my knees were shaky each time I tried to get up even just to take a piss. Within a month I was back to walking around and getting into trouble. By that time they had repaired the new wing and new inhabitants moved in.

This time thank God I did not know any of the new residents. There was a retired school teacher; he was a teacher in another state taught 4th grade, another was a retired police officer, he had sustained injuries on the job and was no longer capable of living on his own, his back was in bad shape, he needed regular physical therapy. His knee had been replaced. The injuries came during a high-speed chase when the perp rammed his car, it flipped over an embankment landing on its roof. He worked special victims, kids mostly. The police officers name is Dave. He fast became my new friend. We chatted about bad parents, pedophiles, and such. I told him about Abe, which his police buddies had already filled him in.

He did ask me what I thought of the retired teacher. I told him I had no opinion yet formed because I had not had a chance to get to know him. He seems preoccupied with the single women, each mooning over his good looks and suave demeanor.

I tend to over think things these days probably because I have too much time on my hands. Add to that I have always had an inquiring mind. Prissy says it’s noisy not inquiring either way when Dave asked me what I thought of the school teacher I started to wonder if there was a particular reason why he wanted my opinion. So when Prissy went to sleep I went for a walk, the school teacher is in the new wing, where the three amigos took flight.

Standing outside the door I heard a television and a sound like a typewriter. Probably the keys to a computer clicking I decided. That nothing really was going on I went back to bed. Prissy rolled over and said, “Marvy, stay out of trouble please.”

I told her I would try. At least now I have a police officer as a backup. I will let him take the risks, I will just snoop, that is what I do best, snoop. Yes, life is good.

The more I watched the school teacher whose name is Carter. I did not see anything out of the ordinary. I did call an old friend who works with the teachers Union and asked if he had any connections. I wanted to know about Carter as a teacher and get a perspective on his character. I was not surprised as to what came back with. Carter is a womanizer, got himself in a few love triangle pickles a few times, nearly lost his job using his male parts as an antenna.

So I wonder what bothers Dave about Carter, I think I will ask him over breakfast tomorrow.

I was having my first cup of coffee in the dining room waiting for my eggs, fruit and toast, bacon and sausage only once a week. At Prissy’s request. Dave finally emerged from his slumber, now I can ask about Carter.

“Good morning Dave, how are things shaking this morning?”

“Very slowly Marv, some mornings it is hard to get up and at em.”

“Well, it is not just you. I have been wondering something Dave. What is it about Carter that bugs you?”

I also told him what my friend turned up.

“It has been my experience that male teachers have their secrets. I just wanted to be sure he was about women and not children.”
That took me back a bit. It seemed a bit paranoid and narrow. I surmised it is due to the ugliness he had seen on a regular basis and shrugged it off.

As we were finishing our breakfast a man in a suit walked in. He had with a file in his hand, approached us looked directly at Dave and said: “We need to talk privately.”

Dave’s response was biting “I have nothing to say to you asshole”

“Well lieutenant Dawson, you need to speak with me. We can call your rep and have him or her here during the conversation. Internal affairs have questions that need answering.”

Dave grabbed his cane and slowly walked to his room. I could not see from where I was sitting but I did hear the door slam. The gentleman in the suit came back down the hall alone just moments after the slam. I am guessing Dave slammed the door in his face and locked it.

The man in the suit approached me and said: “Be careful you are judged by the company you keep.”

I nodded and said “Thanks for the advice; I am not part of your company nor the police department. So tell me how does this actually affect me? Not everyone in this facility is addled brained; I for one have all my faculties and will make my own judgments.”

I have sat here long enough I need to go see what my wife is up to. I did not see Dave again until the next morning at breakfast. He told me he contacted his union rep and lawyer. He did not tell me what the internal affairs want with him and I did not ask, I figured if he wanted me to know he would tell me. You know me I have an inquiring mind so if he does not tell me on his own I will have to make some phone calls. I happen to know the county sheriff very well. We went to school together and shared rooms at college, our kids were on the same teams, he is retired of course but still has his ear to the ground.

I will wait a couple of days before I start to snoop around. I really am trying to keep my nose clean. What else do I have to do around here, you can only play cards so many times, or read.

I have no self-control, Prissy went with her daughter shopping and out to lunch which left me with no adult supervision. I called my buddy Howie asked him if he knew anything about Dave Dawson. His answered surprised me.

Howie: “Yes Marvin and my advice distance yourself from him, if what they say is true there will be a shit storm of publicity, and back peddling.”

The accusations are that Lieutenant Dave Dawson working with special victims, child trafficking, prostitution which many times children 13 and younger being used; seems they are accusing Dave of facilitating prostitution of young males delivering them to certain men and woman holding office. What I understood from it all; it even involves the major’s office. Howie was being vague and he knows me I will not keep my nose clean.

By dinner time Prissy was back. She had already heard about my call to Howie. Howie’s daughter is good friends with my daughter Cathy. Dani was in the room during the conversation. Dang snoop, well Cathy gave me an ear full I nodded feeling like the kid, not the parent.

Dave pretty much is staying to himself. Carter the school teacher was called into the director’s office the scuttlebutt is one too many women complained about his unwanted advances. Here I was thinking they were enjoying his attention. Most said he was self-absorbed, pretentious ass. My faith in women restored I meandered over to talk to Carter about being a teacher. He literally was rude and said he had no time for chit chat he had a date. I shrugged walked away. I wondered who the date was with. The women in this place all were appalled by his advances.

No one to talk too Prissy was getting her hair done so I decided to sit in the corner and observe rather than chat. It actually paid off. I noticed off in another corner was Carter. At first, I could not tell who he was talking so intently with, I leaned a little more to my right, not wanting to show myself, when I see the shoes and pant leg, he was talking to Dave.

Curious, they were speaking amiably here all this time I did not think they knew each other. Gaud I want to know what they are talking about.

The following day Prissy and I were invited to Prissy’s daughter’s house Samantha is her name, she is as sweet as Prissy. We were to have a brunch my brood was also in attendance. Low and behold it was a setup.

My son Robert was the spokesperson for this mob scene:

“Dad and Prissy we want to talk to you about moving the two of you out of the facility. Howie has a condo that is no longer in use since he is living with his daughter Dani Howie has offered it to us the sum is a combination of taxes and association fees plus homeowners insurance. It is in walking distance from Aaron’s Café. Dad you can go have breakfast every day. If you want any other meal besides breakfast Aaron will have it sent over. Adding to that, we are all going to make your favorite meals, put them in dinner for 2 portions, freeze them when Prissy does not want to cook all you have to do is pull them out of the freezer and microwave them.”

“Dad, you will be able to take up playing cards with Howie. We will fix up the garage to give you a man cave. The extra bedroom will be turned into a man cave as well, with a big screen TV; I for one will come over and watch a game with you.”

I looked at Prissy she looked back and said “I had no idea honest Marvy. I like the idea, we are capable of taking care of each other I see no reason for the assisted living.”

Dani then spoke “Mom we also will have someone come in once a week to clean. There is a senior bus that will take you to appointments, or any other place you may want to go, even to a movie in town.”

I finally spoke, “Ok, hold on this is already settled isn’t it, we really have no say?”

They were nodding and shaking their heads in unison when I continued”

“Okay, fine, just do not ask me to go shopping with the women. Where are Luke and Paul right now, do they have a say in this?” I was hoping for some backup and was surprised and disappointed but they had a point we really do not need to pay all that money for assisted living when there will be the two of us watching out for each other. The main reason I went there is because after Sarah died I went into a depression and was bored out of my mind. The family said this would be better for me being around people every day, same with Prissy we are both on very few medications and we still have mobility. A bit shaky and achy some days but not bad.

Cathy then spoke “Dad, Luke and Paul are at the facility right now packing your things to bring them to the condo, they will call us when they get there and we will go over and help get you two settled.

I was stunned. I will never know what the heck is going on with Dave and Carter. I hope Howie will be forthcoming when we play cards. It is a hell of a thing when you lose your say in daily matters. I am to pig-headed to let them know I love the idea. I will actually have more freedom to move about living in the condo. But I want to know what is going on with Dave and Carter darn it. I will not be able to sneak out of my room and snoop. I’ll bet that is the whole point of moving us because I cannot keep my nose to myself. If they think that will stop me they are in for a big surprise.

It took a little longer than I thought it would get into a routine that Prissy and I were both comfortable with. Seemed Prissy liked having her own home. I have to give Dani credit she even had someone come every other day to do laundry or do shopping even take Prissy with her to pick up what she wanted.

I have met Howie for breakfast several times and you better believe our topic of conversation was Carter and Dave. Howie was not as forthcoming with information as I had hoped. I did glean some things. The investigation is dragging due for the most part because Dave has a good attorney. I told Howie I do not believe Dave had anything to do with facilitating prostitution of little boys and also told him my concern that if Dave gets indicted and placed in custody his physical condition would almost guarantee that he would be killed. A Police officer that hurt kids; there would be a bull’s eye on his back from the get go. Howie agreed. Howie added his main concern was that he was being set up. Neither of us could understand what he and Carter have in common seeing as they have become chummy since I moved out.

Howie and I are on the same page. I have to tell you Aaron’s diner is clean, wait staff is on top of things, filling coffee, getting whatever I need. I miss my diner. I could no longer stay in the city.

Aaron has been a friend of my son Robert since high school. Aaron dated Cathy for a short time. Aaron always liked to cook, when he opened the restaurant all his classmates came at least once a week for the first year, by then the place found its niche and its clientele grew.

Prissy and I have walked over to Aaron’s Cafe for dinner on warm evenings; we have made a few friends our age. We play couples euchre every other week. I finally admitted to Robert that I love being at the condo. Since I have been here believe it or not I have stayed out of trouble it going on 6 months. This too shall pass I really want to have a talk with Dave. I called the number for the senior bus while Prissy was with the girl at the store. Prissy usually treats this girl to lunch for her trouble. Dani reminded Prissy that the girl gets paid to do what she does. Prissy insists. I know that Prissy likes the companionship, time away from the condo and the routine.

The senior bus took me to the facility. I had no way of knowing if Dave was even there or out but it was worth the risk of missing him. Knocking on his door he bellowed who is it When he opened the door the look of surprise was written on his face.

“Hey Dave, just stopped by to see how you are doing.”

Dave suggested we go to the dining room for a coffee and we could chat. That seemed fine with me. Once we sat down I put it to Dave bluntly.

“Dave, did you do what they accuse you of?” He looked me in the eye and said NO! He added that it is more complicated then what they are saying but in the end, he feels he will be vindicated. He also thanked me for having faith in him and being straight up about it.

We then spent 2 hours talking about the Condo and my new life Dave promised when everything gets settled he will come and meet me at Aaron’s cafe for breakfast or lunch someday I told him I would like that.

Howie and I are sitting by the window at Aaron’s it is a cold autumn day the leaves are dancing down the sidewalk. Being friends as long as Howie and I have been we have amiable silence. Sipping coffee looking out the window I look over at Howie. I was about to ask if he still hunts when the look of concern was on his face. I turn to see what he was looking at. The senior bus from the facility was letting a couple of people off. One was Carter the other Dave. Howie noticed me start to rise and said: “Sit your ass down Marvin, stay out of it!”

I am sure my face registered the “But Howie” look he smiled shook his head. I settled my rear end back down but on Howie’s side of the booth, I am not craning my neck I want a full view. Sitting watching Dave and Carter walk south their backs to us for about a block. They entered a Victorian looking house with all the gingerbread trim, shutters, neat and tidy landscape. Prissy and I have admired that house for years. I don’t know who owns it now but they are doing a good job maintaining it.

After about twenty minutes squad cars pulled quietly to the curb. Officers in uniform and plain clothes got out of the cars. Including the man I met who said he was from internal affairs. The next thing that happened 3 ambulances pulled up the whole street was blocked off. First, one to come out in handcuffs was Carter. Behind Carter was a woman that I did not recognize. After her one by one young children of different nationalities, age, boys and girls, Dave came carrying what looked like a little girl in his arms. As did the man in the suit, it took me a while for it to register everything I was seeing.

Dave was carrying a little girl. He cannot possibly have back problems or a knee problem. After Dave put the little girl in the ambulance, the man in the suit did the same, they shook hands and patted each other on the back.

I looked at Howie and said, “You son of a Bitch you knew all along that Dave was not being set up but Carter was.”

Howie laughed and answered “It was a stroke of luck you calling me because I was trying to figure out how I would broach the subject about Dave and Carter. Trying to keep you out of it so you would not screw anything up.”

“I had to tell Dani to talk to Robert and Cathy and get you and Prissy out of the facility. I knew you could not control that nose of yours, sticking it where it does not belong.”

After Howie finished laughing and shaking his head I said: “Fine you are right I would have screwed things up, but you could have told me what was going on it would have helped.”

Howie gaffed with laughter tears running down his cheek coughing as he is doing this I had to admit I started to laugh as well, got up and moved back to my side of the booth.

Just then Dave walked into Aaron’s sat down beside me asking “So what’s the joke will I like it?”

Howie said, “Yes you will love it, Marvin here says had I told him what was going on he would have stayed out of it.”

Dave laughed gave me a gentle nudge with his elbow and said: “No you wouldn’t have you have no self-control.”

I said, “Okay all this cloak and dagger has given me an appetite my treat lets eat.”

We had the special which consisted of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables, with a slice of cherry pie.

When I got home I told Prissy all about my exciting afternoon. How Carter was set up, how all along he pretended to be a lady’s man all the while liking little boys. Carter moved to this state because where he taught they were getting suspicious, it did not come to a head till a boy of 14 told a counselor about Carter. That set everything in motion for this sting. Dave pretending to be hurt on duty, taking a disability retirement and moving into the facility just after Carter did.

Prissy listened patiently then said “Marvy I know you are trying to keep yourself out of trouble. I know it is because you are bored. Why not talk to the school see if you can work as a tutor. I am sure they can use you in shop class. You need something more to do than hanging around here or at the cafe.”

Prissy had a point that is exactly what I will do, I know if I keep up the way I am going one day I may get into something I cannot get out of. Back to work is the best thing for me.


© christineSwiderski


Blind Spot

Blind spot

I love my children, wife, and dog, not necessarily in that order. Yet, there are times I think I have a blind spot. Love is a weird emotion; it does not always have clear logical vision. I try to tell myself the vision is never clear when the heart is connected. Although I know as a man I am supposed to know the difference between love and reality. The reality of life we try to hide in amongst the wonderful reality of love. I say the reality of love because one day I know my daughter will ask me “Daddy, when do you know you are in love?’ I really do not have a concise answer because I know in part it is a spiritual connection. How do you explain the reality of love? Like the love between the creature and his creator? Scientist will never understand the equation. If they do not believe the soul is real then you cannot equate that into any compilation.

Life seems to whip by with a few speed bumps along the way. My daughter was born with jaundice they said it was normal she spent two days inside an incubator. That was our first speed bump the next few were the childhood illnesses, measles, mumps, colds, flu. Nothing really big came along until she was in her teens. Here is where the rubber hits the road. This is where your faith, love and hope are challenged.

My wife Linda and I are shaken to the core as we hold each other’s hands while walking down the cold, highly lit hallway of the hospital. Nurses, doctors and indeterminate personal are scurrying from one emergency to the next. No one to ask where our daughter is let alone how she is.

Carla has been a challenge since she reached puberty. She would challenge every rule as she broke them. We thought we finally reached the end of this bump in the road when in her sophomore year she made the list of top students in her class. She was voted class president and the girl most likely to succeed. Carla was coming into her own. Her specialty was biology and science. She wanted to be an astronaut of all things.

Linda answered the door when the police officers informed us that Carla had been hurt. The only information they gave us was she was at county hospital. Nothing of the incident or what caused her injuries.

Linda and I walked into her intensive care cubicle, the sight of her with tubes in her arm, nose, and abdomen. Her legs were both in casts; her neck had a brace on it. If it were not for the tattoo just below her right ear we could not have recognized our daughter with her face so disfigured.

We stood silently staring at our beloved little girl. I glanced over at Linda and noticed she had the same silent tear on her cheek as I did. Linda looked up at me as she turned we grabbed each other sobbing hoping to cleanse the evil from the room.

Many of my more liberal friends call me phobic. Mostly because I disagree with their view of the world and politics, I would much rather people attain professional help instead of going through radical physical changes to themselves and their lives. My friends say I lack empathy due to my lack of education. I respectfully disagree.

Finally a nurse came in asking if we were Carla’s parents. We said yes. She told us that a detective Bryant had asked to be called when we arrived; he wanted to speak to us. We tried asking the nurse for more information in regards to Carla’s injuries. The nurse said that she felt it was best to speak to the detective and that the doctor would consult with us in a couple of hours after all the blood tests and radiology came back.

Linda and I settled into the two small chairs that were available and waited for Detective Bryant. The only sounds in the room were the beeps and squawks of the machines  tending to our Carla’s needs.

I went down to the cafeteria to grab two coffees; by the time I came around the corner I noticed a tall lean man in a grey suit walk into Carla’s room. I reached the door to hear him introduce himself as Detective Bryant.

To sum up what Detective Bryant wanted to know about Carla and her activities nearly brought me to my knees: “Did you know that Carla was involved with a young woman who is going through gender transition surgery. The young woman who goes by the name of Tracy used to be Carla’s boyfriend Tom.”

I stood shaking my head while I said: “We had no idea. What does this have to do with Carla’s injuries?”

Detective Bryant answered: “Carla was in the girl’s restroom at school with Tracy, they were having a heated discussion about the surgery when another female entered and started to butt into the conversation, interjecting her advocacy for the surgery. Carla was heard to tell this girl that this was a private conversation. Carla also stated she felt the reason for Tracy/Tom’s decision was due to his relationship with his dad. At this point another girl walked in and joined the conversation. By the time the incident ended there were 4 girls screaming and getting irate with Carla. They were the ones that caused the injuries. Tracy is also in intensive care for trying to protect Carla.”

I was numbed by the information, angry by the evil intent of those who disagree with someone’s point of view; this causes more harm than it does solve a growing issue.  Linda looked up at me and asked: “Are the lambs being silenced?”

In Cahoots

In Cahoots  Chapter 1


Mike said:“Growing up mom would tell me that you are judged by the company you keep. Later with the internet, Facebook, blogging, you are still judged by the company you keep. Seems there is a conspiring mentality out there that says your Facebook friends or your blogging friends describes who you are. I still wonder what is in the mindset of those who are in the social media arena? I do not use the word arena lightly, it is an arena; sometimes you are served up for sport. I learned to not get into conversations with those who start their blog with another bloggers username. It is as if you are calling them out in the street for a virtual dual.

At least when Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr dueled over integrity, because of perceived slander, now slander is a sport. Another thing seems to be a sport, this X generation is now adults they use the baby boomers lingo such as pulling a girls hair because a boy likes her. Sorry I cannot wrap my head around people who believe that hurting someone physically is a compliment. This Jerry Springer atmosphere has taken us back to the stone age of dragging a girl by their hair to the cave when we need a generation to understand domestic violence is not okay.”

He was hunched over as he spoke, a burden so heavy he would take a deep breath in and let out the air as a sail looses its wind. His shoulders slump, he downed another shot, took a pull on his beer while I attended to other customers. I came back leaned on the bar, just enough to face him. I do not think he noticed that the bars chatter quieted to a whisper. Everyone knew who he was. How could they not? They crucified him and his partner across that social media he was speaking of. I waited for a moment or two then said. “So you and Joe took the call, some guy was hurting his wife?”


Mike answered:“Sloan, the guy’s name was Sloan, domestic disturbance. I knocked on the door. Geraldine came to the door. That’s Sloan’s wife, screeching out her complaint, she needed to calm down for us to discern what was going on. Joe took her aside. He is good at calming the women down. Somehow he get’s them to believe he understands their plight. Doesn’t hurt that he looks like Rock Hudson. I walk Sloan into the kitchen, Geraldine was still loud but not as high pitched. Sloan could hear what she was saying. That he shoved her, that he threatened her. Sloan just shook his head no. I asked him his version all he said was “Don’t mind her she get’s like that when she has too much to drink. Got home from work at 6:30 worked some overtime. She had started drinking sometime after lunch. As soon as I walked in the door she yelled, “You better have brought home more beer” I never forget, but don’t mind her.

Mike paused his explanation a moment contemplated the burger someone bought him. He nodded to the person who was kind enough to buy it for him. I could tell he had no intention eating it. I left it there just the same. Someone else bought him a beer and a shot, which he downed as he did the first two rounds. Again he closed his eyes slightly took in a breath let it out. I really think the man wanted to cry but dared not because he would not be able to stop once he started.


So I asked, “How did you resolve that first visit?”


Mike answered: “I told Sloan he should pack some things. Go to a family members house or a friend and stay a day or two till things calm down. My partner will speak to your wife about getting some assistance. Maybe convince her to not drink for a day or two, think things through. Sloan nodded said he will call his brother tell him that he was coming. Tell him Geraldine just called the police on him. I walked Sloan to his room, he grabbed a couple of suitcases from the floor of the closet. Filled them with his belongings.I walked him to his truck. I told him my partner and I want to drive him, he said he was fine, I insisted. I promised him if he let my partner drive him I would follow in his truck. Sloan did not want to miss work. My partner came out told me that Geraldine promised to make an appointment the next morning with the doctor. We have cards for counselors, they have a good track record with those who call. I followed the squad car to Sloan’s brother’s place. His brother came out onto the porch to greet him and help with his belongs, Sloan’s sister-in-law came out with what looked like a 2-year-old on her hip, the little girl was sucking her thumb with sleepy eyes. I gave Sloan a card with another counselor’s name on it, told him to make an appointment, he said he would first break at work.”


Mike paused again, someone walked in the door, all heads turned to see who it was. Except for Mike, he was staring at the empty shot glass.  I refilled on the house. He thanked me, threw it back, took a pull on his beer, rubbed his face with both hands, let out a breath. I waited. He did not say anything else.  I got others their drinks, filled the drinks our waitress Millie needed. Came back and stood again my arms folded waiting for Mike to finish what he needed to get off his chest.


Mike:”Sloan made the appointment. He came to the station after work to make sure I knew. I suppose he thought we made a special connection, not realizing I was doing my job. He seemed to be a mild manner type. I could not figure him to be the abusive ass that Geraldine was making him out to be. In this job one never knows, the quietest, smiling guy can be a brute.”


The papers and other media said that Mike and his partner Joe were at fault for not seeing the situation for what it was. The character assassination included Mike and his divorce, womanizing, and drinking, Joe’s marriage took a hit because the media is never questioned as to their accuracy they just make the accusations for readership, not caring what it does to a couple.



In Cahoots Chapter 2


Mike: “ I went on my time off back to Sloan’s neighborhood. Asked neighbors about the couple. Everyone pretty much said the same thing, Geraldine is fine when she is not drinking, Sloan is just a nice guy who would do anything for anybody. The neighbor directly across the street said she and Geraldine were good friends until she made the mistake and suggested she stopped drinking every day. That sealed the fate of the relationship right there on the spot. Geraldine got up and walked out giving her once best friend the finger.”

Millie my waitress heard this part and said “You went on your time off to ask these neighbors, there was nothing in the paper about that, why did the neighbors turn on you? The Facebook account was just horrible, guess some don’t care about the truth they just want to seem important.”


Mike looked over at Millie and said “Sadly the police are the bad guys, until they need you, then you are their servant, there to do their bidding, there are still some out there that respect what we do, respect the uniform, the media seems to enjoy using us as the bully of the streets to enrage the readers who are so busy being busy bodies, and Springer anger management seminar they watch on tv, believing this is how civilized people problem solve.


Millie nodded placed her hand on Mike’s shoulder, leaned over and gave him a soft kiss on the cheek, whispered something in his ear which I could not hear, then took her tray and served her customers. Mike’s eyes were moist but he controlled the flow, this was a man on the edge of a breakdown.


Mike: “One good thing came from all this my X called and we are now at least on speaking terms. She had a sit down with Joe’s wife, seemed to help patch things over, the papers saying Joe and I went carousing after work chasing tail, which was not true. Joe is devoted to his wife Eva, his high school sweetheart, he would always say, there was no other. I believed him.”


What happened next just pissed me off royally, the door opened another person came in, camera running, I took the bat from behind the counter. Told the reporter if he wanted a quiet drink he was welcome if he was here to stir up more lies and shit, he needed to turn around and walk out. The reporter spewed out the rhetoric about freedom of the press, and such, I told him this was my bar and I had the right to serve or throw out, I suggest you leave. He continued to move towards Mike, Mike did not even look his way instead he stared into his empty shot glass, every customer got up and stood in the reporter’s way. One customer reached for the reporters camera, the reporter jerked to the right, lost his grip and the camera when careening to the floor, where another customer gave it a kick, the game started, the camera was now a hockey puck, everyone kept batting it; the reporter was swearing, the customers playing keep away. After one customer picked up the camera and walked out of the bar with it, the reporter followed, from that point, I do not know what happened.


Once things settled down, I placed a fresh burger in front of Mike, leaned in and said, “Please eat something, I will not serve you another drink till you eat that burger.” I set a glass of water on the bar told Mike he could wash it down with the water. Mike took a bite but you could tell he was having trouble swallowing it, Millie had made herself a burger grabbed a water sat down next to Mike and started to eat her burger after that Mike seemed to swallow a bit easier. I think he was finally catching on he was not in this alone anymore.


After Mike ate the burger, Millie went back to servicing her customers, by this time the place was packed, still subdued, someone started to play the jukebox, some old time country which seemed to fit the mood of the place.

Another big sigh from Mike, his shoulders did not seem as slumped but he was still a man that was beaten down. At this point I was hoping he and Millie would get together, the man could use some tenderness.

Mike:” I went to the meeting one night that Sloan said he was going to, he was thrilled to see me, said he was trying to talk Geraldine into joining him. Said that he was still staying with his brother and family, figuring to give time for Geraldine to come to her senses. She did not she only became angrier at Sloan, saying they do not do anything together anymore they may as well get divorced, Sloan told her that if she wanted a divorce she would have to do the filing, he told her he still loved her, loved her enough to wait till she got better.”


Another pause, Mike asked for a beer, I would not give him another shot, he shrugged and drank his beer.


Mike:” Joe and I got a call to Sloan’s place, when we arrived he was in his truck, Geraldine was taking a baseball bat to it, standing behind it so he could not leave, Sloan just sat still, she seen us pull up came around to the drivers side of the truck and wound up ready to hit the window, I caught the bat before it made contact, that put Geraldine off balance and she landed on her ass in the grass, screaming police brutality.”


I closed my eyes for a moment remembering how I heard about Mike being brought up on charges for unnecessary force, seems Geraldine went into the house locked herself in called the department and told dispatch there were two uniformed officers on her front porch trying to break the door down. Geraldine must have been on Facebook and Twitter because one of my customers said: “Hey that Mike guy, the cop, he is trying to break into a woman’s home she claims he took a bat to her.”


There were too many witnesses which disproved her account but that did not stop the media storm, which blew the whole thing so out of proportion Mike got a few days off with pay hoping the media dust would settle.


In Cahoots Chapter 3


It was getting late near closing time, I told Mike he should sleep it off upstairs. I have an apartment with one bedroom. I usually rent it out, but I was between renters at the moment. Mike got up turned to everyone in the bar and thank them. They all stood and applauded. Sometimes people astound me. Mike started to cry, he turned quickly for the back stairs I could see him slightly, his shoulders were heaving he needed he needed the release. Millie asked if it would be alright if she left to go grab some things and come back to stay with Mike. I told her I thought that was a great idea.

My customers were kind enough to clear the tables, I was washing the tables off when Millie came back, I locked the door behind her, she went up the stairs. One of my regulars, Larry, stayed helped mop the floor and clean the restrooms while I washed down the bar, washed and dried the glasses before putting them away. I told Larry tomorrows drinks are on the house, he said he would not hear of it, said he was doing this for Mike.

Next Morning when I came to open up Mike was gone Millie had coffee ready, refrigerators full chilling the beer. I sat with a coffee and asked how it went last night. Millie said okay, he just cried himself to sleep barely said a word.

Millie “Mike was wondering if it would be okay, he would like to rent the room upstairs, says his apartment building is uncomfortable, the silence from neighbors. The glares from people on the street knowing who he is.”

Millie gave me Mikes phone number, I called it and told Mike the first 3 months are on the house, it would be good to have him.

Mike is back to work, on desk duty the media frenzy has taken another turn, seems his partner Joe was at a traffic stop when someone came around behind him while he was handing the paperwork back to the driver, when Joe turned he got hit, with a bat, his partner Gary called out stop, took a shot at the guy with the bat, hit Joe, the guy with the bat ran, Gary shot the guy, he went down, the driver started to swear saying Joe deserved what he got for letting his partner take a bat to a defenseless woman.

Joe’s funeral was 3 days later. There were mourners, an honor guard, also protestors, against the police in general. Joe’s wife took it so hard she was hospitalized and did not make the funeral.

Some were wondering if the protesting was just a twirl and dance the put on media or someone with an agenda set in motion, secretly hoping for chaos, keeping the headlines sweetened with the violence.


After the funeral any police officer who wanted to blow off steam was welcome, on the house, Mike sat at the bar as he did the one night, slumped over his shot and beer. We did our little routine, Mike drank till he nearly fell off the stool, I insisted he eat, Millie sat next to him had a burger, the night was long, the grieving was heavy, there seemed to be no end in sight.


The cops that showed up started talking about the night Joe and Mike responded to a call for domestic violence, none of Mikes brothers or sisters in uniform second guessed the two seasoned officers. No one would have guessed Geraldine’s last move. The general consensus was women do not normally carry out this sort of thing Officer Jacobs, a lieutenant sat at the bar shaking his head

Jacobs said: “It is inconceivable to me that anyone would hold these two officers responsible for what a citizen did on their own volition.”


Even after Joe’s funeral, there were innuendos in the paper of how the two officers could have handled the call differently, including the subsequent calls.


The lieutenant walked over to where Mike was sitting, bought him a beer and said: “Mike this is not on you, I hold the media and citizens at fault, not you nor Joe.”


Mike: “There is no consolation sir when no one can be held accountable for Character assassination. Maligning Police officers in the media, they do this saying it is freedom of the press. As if it were a victimless crime, it was all in a days work. Sir there was no way after Joe and I took the complaint and Geraldine was beating the crap out of Sloan’s truck, that she would then do what she did. The media was so busy crucifying me over the nonexistent bat incident they totally breezed past the real tragedy and then when they acknowledged what a horrific thing Geraldine did she was set on a pedestal as a bereaved wife because her husband left her. Then stating we the police and the department were complicit because we talked Sloan into leaving, and going to get professional help. No one is responsible for their own bad behavior except those who protect and serve.”


The Lieutenant nodded, in agreement, Mike then said something which took us all by surprise “Sir, I am  turning in my papers Monday morning, along with my gun and badge, there is nothing more I can nor do I want to do for this community, my thinking is I would be better off working for a security firm, better hours and better pay.”


The Lieutenant said: “I can understand how you feel Mike, how about taking a week or to leave of absence to consider the 15 years you already gave this job, do not throw that away.”


Mike: “Sir, I do not need to think about it, I had thought about it as soon as I was benched for allegedly beating Geraldine, at this point in time I would be doing the department a disservice, because  I now wish I had done that, the family would still be alive.”


No one would have thought in a million years after Sloan left with his beaten up truck to go back to his brothers place, that Geraldine would get in her car, at 3 am, go over to her brother in laws and throw mulla toph cocktails through every window, taking out the entire family while they slept. Still, makes no sense that all this started with a domestic violence call.


When is someone going to say the media acted stupidly.


FEMA   Chapter 1

All the things that happen, good and evil seems we are losing touch with our love for each other and our sense of humor. The political correctness is actually offensive to me. Acronyms are hilarious; when my girls and I get together for wing dings and beer we wear our FEMA hats. We are all seniors, not part of the red hat society we decided to be uniquely differently weird.

We can be seen sitting in a bar enjoying a platter of wing dings, you know you are getting older when the guys that whistle do it through dentures. Some look no one asks what FEMA means or we do.Those on the team become as family members. We love it when they ask, Female Emergency Medicinal Alcoholics.

One night, in particular, I should tell you; the night to us begins after the early bird special around 5 pm, we hit our favorite bar, Logger Depot, walking distance from our homes, or should I say staggering distance. I digress, this particular night we were celebrating my birthday, 62 years old, and have a few extra pounds but, all the right stuff. It was drizzling outside, instead of snow; February should have snow, I digress again you get that at my age mind wanders off to another thought then has to be dragged back only to wonder again so please be patient.

Ok so we were having a few beers, in addition to the wing dings we had mozzarella sticks, there were some young folks at another table, having burgers, they seemed to be having a very intense conversation every so often their voices went up a bit, then the girl at the table shushed them and their voices went back down. These are the young people you are asking me about Deputy so please stay with me I will get to my point eventually. So we were having our mozzarella sticks and Ruth made us laugh by saying “I have to be careful not to eat too many mozzarella sticks I will need dynamite to go to the bathroom.” After a few beers, that’s pretty funny, while tears are rolling down our cheeks, one of the fellas from the table which was having the intense conversation yelled across from us “Hey you old broads, hold it down people are trying to have a conversation here!”

The four of us joyfully flew the bird in his direction and laughed even harder. Then this young person got up and started to approach our table, the owner intervened said if he could not behave he would have to leave. The other young man from the table came up reached and touch his friend’s arm, which the rude guy yanked his arm away turned and hit the owner in the face.

Well, we could not just sit there eating wing dings we jumped into action, yielding our weapons, “overloaded purses” beat the tar out of that ass wipe.

“So you say he filed charges huh?”

“Yes, mam he did, assault charges on all 4 of you.”

“Huh, well now what?”

“Actually I may get him to reconsider, and drop the charges, seems the owner says the four of you came to his rescue, defending him.”

“Huh, Tony is great, just great, sometimes he gives us a free pitcher of beer, I like that guy.”

“Yes, mam he says he is fond of you as well.”

“Huh, he did?”

“Yes, mam.”

“Ok, now what are we free to go?”

“Yes, mam just stay where we can reach you in case we have more questions.”

“Oh, detective you do know where to find us.”

“Yes, mam Logger Depot.”

FEMA  Chapter 2

We got off easy the last time seems the young fella dropped the charges of assault in exchange for Tony who owns the Loggers Depot to lessen the charges to disorderly. I have seen that young fella around his name is Kyle, well when he sees me he glares. Seems Kyle holds grudges, well so do the FEMA broads. I hear that his tires go flat for no reason, also hear he thinks we have something to do with it. I will not deny it nor affirm it, seems so silly for old broads as he called us have the time or know how to do such a thing.

“Yes, mam he claims that Joy’s late husband owned and run the all service gas station here in town, Kyle believes you ladies have the means and ability to do it”

“Huh, has he seen us do it?”

“No mam and this is only a warning, I went to each of your friends and gave them the same warning.”

“Ok, I have been warned, what exactly is the warning? Is that like trick or treat?”

“Mam if you or any of your friends are seen in the vicinity of Kyle’s truck you will be arrested and charged with malicious destruction of property.”

“How can that be malicious sounds like someone is pranking him?”

“Mam, just stay away from the damn truck please.”

“Sure no problem I will stay away from the truck.”

Next visit this officer accused us of toilet papering Kyle’s front yard. He lives with his mom and she was darn upset, she came into the Loggers Depot and started to tell us she did not appreciate what we’re doing to her son. We asked her to have a seat, she did over a few beers we ordered her a FEMA hat, told her she should not enable her son, he may actually move out and get a life. I am sure Kyle is thrilled his mom is now part of FEMA.

Since Kyle’s mom, Sue is her name joined FEMA we play euchre every Thursday at her place. I guess us broads Yakking it up at their place rubs him the wrong way Kyle moved out and moved in with his girlfriend, she was the young girl sitting at the table the night we were arrested for assault. Her name is Rose.

We are all surmised Rose has no idea what she is getting herself into with such a hot head. Young girls think just cuz they are sweet their sweetness will rub off on a hot head turning him into mellow mush. That is not the way it happens, unfortunately, all too often the girl is left with a broken heart, and maybe a few bruises in the meantime.

Sue says she does not think Kyle would ever get violent with Sue, we told her if he ever did we will step in, the FEMA broads do not put up with any sort of abusive behavior. Sue said she would be there right alongside us if her son ever did such a thing.


FEMA Chapter 3

Kyle wasn’t going to press charges, his mom Sue is now a full-fledged member of FEMA even though she is 10 years younger and still works part time.

Kyle’s dad passed away a couple years back, he was a truck driver making deliveries all over the state of Michigan. Sue was working at the school in the lunch room serving kids their meals, Kyle had already graduated high school and was taking classes at the community college said he wanted to be a cop. I am not sure with his hot head it is a profession for him but who am I to say, he may actually mellow out and become a good cop.

Well the day Kyle’s dad passed it snowed like crazy, the county trucks do their best to clear the streets, sometimes light film of snow left from scraping can ice over, warms up from the sun then when the sun goes down the road can be treacherous, Mike, that’s Kyle’s dad was coming back from the UP, fog started to settle in, you know the icy fog in winter, some dingbat passed him on the expressway, pulled in front of him just as someone slammed on the breaks, making the dingbat slam on his breaks, which did not give Mikes rig a chance to slow down, plowed right into the dingbat, sent him sailing into the culvert, Mikes dads rig flipped on its side slid down into the culvert on top of the dingbat, the cargo Mike was carrying fishtailed and slid in a horrid flip landing on top of the cab of Mike’s truck. Sue told us girls since then Kyle has had a chip on his shoulder, sullen and angry.

As Sue was finishing telling us this about her late husband Mike, Rose walked in sat down heavily next to Sue.

“Hey, little one why the long face someone steals your glitter lipstick? ”I asked

She smiled slightly and said “No Christine, Kyle’s been in a foul mood lately, he does that this time of year, gets drunk, pouts, yells a lot, tonight he got right in my face; yelling about where I put the remote, that I should never move the remote. When I clean I put the remote in the drawer next to the chair he sits in, he knows that, but when he gets like this there is no talking to him.”

Sue asked, “Rose he never lays hands on you does he?”

“No Sue but sometimes he scares me enough to think he just might, like tonight getting in my face backing me against the counter.”

Ruth spoke up “I think that young man needs an attitude adjustment, we should do it Jeff’s style, Christine.”

We were ruminating on that idea, as I told Sue and Rose about my late husband Jeff, he was a Marine Sargent spent time in Vietnam, came back as an instructor finishing his 30 years, lost his life 4 years ago, Mesothelioma. Jeff was keen on hunting he would take me with him full camo, makeup and all. I remember how badly that stuff itched, but we both would get our deer, and enjoyed venison for the good part of the year.

Sue asked Ruth “So what were you thinking Ruth, how would you want to do this?”

Ruth answered “We get all geared up, camo, makeup, and sneak into Kyle’s bedroom while he is asleep, surround his bed, we say in unison Kyle if you do not get your shit together next time we have to come back here because you scared the shit out of your girlfriend we will duct tape you to the mailbox with a sign that says BULLY.

We all started to laugh had a few more beers, next thing you know we were all at my place getting dressed into what camo I had, putting the dark green cream and black, on our faces, we had to tuck our Q-tip colored hair under black knit caps,  Sue and Rose did the same. While we were trying to be quiet walking down the street to Kyle and Roses house, cute bungalow rental, 2 blocks from my place. Rose opened the back door with her key, still trying to be quiet, someone, which I will not name names, let out the loudest fart, and the stench was near unbearable, we were doing our best not to giggle, I had to pee like a racehorse. We surround the bed and said in unison “Kyle if you do not get your shit together next time we have to come back here because you scared the shit out of your girlfriend we will duct tape you to the mailbox with a sign that says BULLY.”

Or something close to that, Kyle woke up screaming “Oh mother F***er” he then jumped up pointed his finger in my face and said, “I am having you crazy broads arrested this time it is breaking and entering.”

I said, “Well girls I guess our makeup is not good enough he recognized us.”

Sue spoke up and said, “Oh Kyle you will do no such a thing.”

Kyle’s had a surprised look as he commented: “Mom what the hell?”

Sue said “Well they were right Kyle you should never get in my face and scare the shit out of me”

Kyle was now flailing his arms saying “Jesus H Christ Rose?”

Next day the sheriff had us in his office and said “Ladies, what can I do or say to get you to behave yourselves, Kyle is not pressing charges, but seriously take it down a notch.”

I spoke up “Sheriff it was an intervention that boy needs to cool his jets.”

The sheriff seemed miffed when he pointed his finger in my face and said: “Now Christine I know how you are, also I remember and respected your husband Jeff, but if Kyle ever decides to press charges there will be nothing I can do.”

Sue said “He will never press charges against his mom and I am now a full fledge member of FEMA”

The Sheriff placed his hands on his face shaking his head and said: “Have a nice day ladies, and please keep your festivities to the minimum.”

FEMA  Chapter 4

There are times Tony is shorthanded during the day at Loggers Depot; I pitch in bartending, which the guy’s like this round looking a blondish woman who can be sweet like a grandma if they want it or sharp-tongued and flirty I got all that going, and boy do I rake in the tips.

It was Friday 4 pm and in walks, Kyle sat down at the bar, I took a rag picked up his lighter and cigarettes made it a point to wipe real good in front of him set his stuff down and said, “Can I see some ID.”

He glared at me begrudgingly pulled out his wallet yanked out his ID shoved it in my face. I said, “Now thank you was that so hard, what can I get you Kyle, my lad.”

He growled “Bud Lite”

“Tap or Bottle?”

“I usually get it in the can.”

“I bet you do.” And I smirked

Handed him a can and an icy glass said: “This first one is on the house.”

He asked for a couple more during his visit before he finally asked the question “What the hell does FEMA stand for?”

Tony Answered “Female Emergency Medicinal Alcoholics.”

He rolled his eyes and laughed, I think that was the first time I ever heard that boy laugh. I leaned across the bar and said to him “Look here Kyle if you can deal with the old broads of FEMA you would be a great cop, seems Sheriff Howie is having a difficult time doing so, there may be a job opening soon.”

At that, we all three laughed pretty hard. Kyle shook his head paid his bill and bid us a good night. Well, now I wonder if I had won FEMA a mascot. I mentioned the thought to Tony he said with all the insulted pouty face he could muster “Hey I thought I was your mascot.”

I answered while squeezing his ass “No Tony you’re my boy toy.”

Tony got a big grin on his faces and said: “I will settle for that.”

I said, “You do more than settle.”

The girls came in for our usual nightly meeting of FEMA we stayed late, I told the girls I was going to stay and help Tony close up the bar, and they nodded with understanding, politely said goodnight and left. Tony locked the door; I finished cleaning the tables walked up behind the bar as Tony turned off the lights. Keep in mind this establishment is on Main Street in our little town, it has 2 large windows on the sidewalk side with pull in parking spaces also extra parking in the back.

Tony used my ass to clean the bar, I usually get a burn on my behind since the skin touching the varnished surface does not move all that well, I had just finished my crescendo and Tony was just starting his, when the whole front of the room lit up, seemed Kyle and some of his buddies pulled up in their trucks with their bright lights ablaze, I hear truck doors slam, footsteps then faces plastered against the windows.

I started to laugh as Tony crescendo came to its beautiful conclusion, Tony took a couple of bar clothes wrapped them around my behind and slid me off the bar, I crawled on my hands and knees, needing to pee like a racehorse, laughing, hoping I would not have any accidents, dragged my clothes on, went to the bathroom.

Tony stayed behind zipping up washing the bar as if nothing happened. Damn, I have fun in my life, this kid thinks he embarrassed me all he did was give me a great story to tell at the next FEMA meeting.

FEMA Chapter  5

Seems Kyle is beginning to have a change of heart if it is not fear, it could be respected for me and the FEMA team. I told the girls step by step as they leaned in for every salacious detail of that night, how Tony placed me on the bar, how he took off my top…m..y bra…and, then the lights and faces prints on the window which we choose not to clean off, cuz ya know Tony at the bar is telling the story his way and I am telling the story my way. All of all the sex is good with Tony and I know he is respectful when he tells of our escapades and swoops in to save my honor while I tell it as raunchy as I can. Yes even with only one beer it was really tasty and funny.

That evening when Kyle walked in with Rose, I got up sauntered over to him my hip against his saying “Say, Kyle, you went through a lot of trouble to see my stuff, how’s about doing a girl a favor and show me some of your young stuff.”

That put the hoot and hollering, back slapping into fine order. Yes FEMA was in rare form that night, I believe that was the first time I saw Kyle blush, Rose played it well coy head down winking at me. I am guessing I have made that boy laugh and blush in one week he is well on to his way back from the grieving dead and life is breathing back into his soul.

Our other acronym for FEMA: Females encompassing mothering authority

Not as catchy as Females Emergency Medicinal Alcoholics but just the same that is where our hearts are.

We all had a blast that night Kyle did not drink as much ate a good size burger with a plate of fries, Rose was just shining, you can tell she adores her man, probably see’s what most do not. That is not to say Rose is out of the woods, you never know when that demon comes back to haunt you, but she knows FEMA has her back; both of our acronyms.

I would like to tell you we stayed out of trouble, but you would never believe us, because Sue came to us said she thinks she has a stalker, she does not want to tell Kyle because he may go off half-cocked. Pshaw like we would right?

We listened with attention to every detail to see if she was imagining it or it was for real. By the third pitcher, we knew she had a stalker.

This guy shows up at the lunch room, says he is an uncle of one of the students and wonders if he can get a cup of coffee. He says his name is Rodger. Next thing Sue says he shows up at her house asking for donations to the children’s fund at St. Francis. Sue was shopping a Meijer, Sue was in produce, her cart was left unattended, he leaned on the side and said: “Well Sue we should stop meeting like this people will talk, what are you doing this Wednesday?”

Sue said she tried to keep her cool and said: “I have plans, a date if you must know.”

Rodger smiles and said, “Well then maybe next Wednesday.”

Sue is so rattled Joy came up with a plan; first, we need to know where this Rodger lives, then we need to know his comings and goings.

Sue said “ I know where he lives, he doesn’t come home until around 11 pm”

We all looked at our watches, twenty minutes till 11 pm.

“Ok now, what Joy?” I said

Joy said, “We meet him at his door, standoff into the shadows, come out and grab him ask him what his intentions are.”

I said, “That may work, for a while, we may have to get Sheriff Howie involved if this Rodger character is not DE swayed by our numbered force of FEMA.”

We were all in and quietly chanted FEMA, FEMA our hands met in the middle of the table, yeah let’s GO! I have not told you much about Laurie, she has been part of FEMA  as long as Ruth has, she came with Ruth as a package deal. Her husband was 10 years her senior, passed away while they were being intimate. If you ever saw Laurie you would understand why. Anyway, she is the quiet one who sits and listens always joins in on the festivities yet has more sense than us and hangs back when were go too far. Which is never right? But when Laurie does something it always adds to the fun, because you never expect it.

We positioned ourselves, myself and Sue to the right of the door, Ruth, and Joy to the left of the door, Laurie was hanging back a few feet,  Rose was busy with Kyle: we waited as quietly as we knew how; Sue signaled there he is shhhhh. We shushed.

Rodger walked up the steps, dressed all in black, pulled his key out, we rushed him. He was so flustered he dropped his keys, I reach down to get them as I came up I noticed the white collar, I did not have time to tell the girls to stand down so I hollered: “Double Whoopee, Well here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.” Just then Laurie jumps in and pours a bottle of water over Rodgers’ head, all the while I am shaking my head NO NO.

The older girls knew that was from the show with Laurel and Hardy, Sue did not have a clue; she turned to me with the look of what?

I jumped in and said, “Sorry Father Rodgers, Sue here thought you were a stalker, seems you seeing her at school saying you were Janie’s uncle, then showing up at her house collecting money, the only one I do not get is at Meijer, what are you doing on Wednesday night?”

Father Rodger gaffed and said “Bible study.” He took his handkerchief out and was wiping the water off his face and head the best he could.

He was sweet and understanding invited us in for a drink. We are an amiable bunch we accepted.  We did have a great laugh about it all, good thing Father Rodgers has a sense of humor.

FEMA chapter 6

After the priest incident, we decided to be a little more careful before we get into some real trouble. Not sure how we will accomplish that pledge, once we get going we usually use each other’s synergy as a centrifugal force to be reckoned with.

Tony has asked me at least 3 times within the last year to marry him.  It has been 3 years since Jeff passed, yet the three times Tony asked I still felt as I would be unfaithful to my first love. Do not get me wrong I am in love with Tony; just recently I have realized this love is different, companionable, comfortable, meeting of the minds. With Jeff is was a wild ride, he had PTSD, not as bad as some, yet it did lend itself to me drinking as I do and needing an outlet for my frustrations, that is when FEMA took root one by one each woman came to my table, first Ruth came to my table after her husband of 25 years had a massive heart attack never was able to say goodbye, took her by surprise she is still reeling from it even after 2 years, Joy’s husband soon after Ruth’s husband was driving to work when he went into a low, being he was diabetic and lost control of his car ran the embankment at 55 miles an hour, went through the windshield, seemed he hated seat belts.

At first we met for coffee, each, in turn, had a bad day slowly we started to meet for drinks as well, and as they say, the rest is history. Now Sue has joined our club, hoping to gain some synergy from us and also aid in helping Kyle get back his emotional equal Librium. Which at this point seems he is starting to mellow a bit, he has asked Rose to marry him, she said yes. With that news I started to think of all the times Tony asked, I stayed to close up last night for the express purpose to ask him to marry me. He said yes, Kyle is not thrilled but realizes weddings are mostly for the girls, cuz Rose suggested we have a double wedding ceremony at the Loggers Depot with the FEMA crew as attendants, I loved the idea as did Tony. Yet I can understand Kyle’s miss giving’s cuz you know there will be alcohol involved.

I had considered wearing my camo makeup; Tony laughed and said he was fine with it, but thought better of it so as not to antagonize Kyle, hey I can be considerate at times. I did wear a Camouflaged colored gown, yes they make them, long, with a snug fit bodice, I made a shawl to match; I figuring Rose should be the only one wearing white. Tony thinks it is sexy, he likes me in my camouflaged attire, combat boots and all, we play, find the dissident I always find it, or does it find me, not sure.

Course the sheriff was in attendance and the patrolman which have handled complaints against FEMA. The priest we accosted agreed to do the ceremony even though we were not all of the same faith; he said we are all faithful to the same God.

The ceremony went nicely letting Kyle and Rose go first so it would be separate from mine and Tony’s: Loggers Depot was packed all the wait staff and bartenders did the night free for our wedding present, course drinks were on the house. Tony’s and my favorite restaurant is the Italian place on State road, the chef came used our kitchen and made our food, also as a wedding present, we just paid for supplies. It was grand; I actually saw Ruth, Joy, and Rose dance a bit. By the end of the evening the FEMA team started to sing, Black Betty, Shang a lang, over and over till everyone in attendance sang along; we even managed to do it as a round, what fun, I was sure I was going to have a hangover, surprised I did not. The staff is handling the next two days so Tony and I can get out of town for a couple of days. I am sure Sheriff Howie is sighing in relief; his town will be safe from the FEMA team since the president of FEMA is out of town.


FEMA Chapter 7

Since my marriage to Tony we both have put our houses up for sale, we plan on finding a house that will be ours. Tony owns the Loggers Depot portion of the building he suggested we use the money to buy the entire building which includes a large open space apartment above the bar. I loved the idea, neither of us like yard work. In the past we have gone up to the roof after closing for our interludes, I have envisioned turning that area into an oasis just for us, if we buy the upstairs living quarters no need for me to stagger home on Friday nights after the FEMA meetings, I can crawl upstairs.

Much to my surprise, Kyle put a bid in on my house, he said he doesn’t want to rent anymore but he and his new wife Rose will own their own home. I gave him the house for what he bid, it was a little low he knew it but I figured when he does become sheriff maybe he will remember me kindly.

It did not take Tony long to sell his place so we did our own bidding and now we are proud owners of the entire building. I put the extra money we had left from the sale of our homes to good use, fixing up the place especially the roof.

On my birthday this year we had the party on the roof, February is cold, but we had a cast iron wood burning stove set up there, started a fire, had plenty of seating and blankets for anyone who wanted, the temps were in the upper 20’s no wind, clear skies, stars galore, after doing shots you do not feel cold or fear.

The FEMA crew was sitting on the edge looking down over our little town when we noticed below us a woman about our age, short, thin was getting out of her car, these two idiots who had been coming out of the diner at the corner started to hoot at her, she was locking her car and walking towards Loggers Depot when they came alongside her, one guy grabbed her arm, she yelled “Leave me alone, back off.”  FEMA went into action by throwing Christmas ornaments which we were using as decorations for my birthday party, you know the large round non-nondescript type which adds color and glitz.

The guys looked up, so did Kyle he had walked out of Loggers Depot wondering what was coming off the roof, we yelled “Those ass holes are bothering the nice lady!” He turned to them they high-tailed it to their car. Kyle got the license number called it in. Oh did I tell you Kyle is now a patrolman? Kyle looked up and pointed his finger at us and said: “You gals behave up there.”

We yelled, “Ok send that nice lady up here for free drinks and friendship.”

That is how we added Val to the FEMA club. Val and I have lots in common she wears camo gear, she also has a skunk hat, not sure I am ready for that but I like her tenacity.

She has just moved into the area, outside of town, she has a farm and raises beef cows called Deters, miniature cows; I like that after our discussion we decided to go to her place and check it out next week.

I may talk to Tony about ordering our beef from her, we could then put in the menu Organically grown beef burgers, used also in our chili’s and stews.

FEMA  Chapter 8

Well, my birthday came and went with just two incidents, one was throwing ornaments off the roof at some hooligans, second was adding a member to the FEMA crew. Her name is Val I think she can be considered our pioneer person of the team, know her plants, herbs, mushrooms, we need to talk about things that make us happy if you know what I mean: it is legal to grow a certain product in our state, yet we get into enough trouble with alcohol so probably a bad idea.

Tony agreed it would be a plus to use the Dexter cattle for our beef and use it to advertise our food and her business.

Val’s husband has PTSD, that disorder reminds me of the changing seasons, as the weather changes thus the skies change, I always get the impression that the clouds are chasing each other as the light gets less and the darkness gets more, settling in for a denseness of sadness. Even those without PTSD use SAD lights now; I wonder what it is like in Alaska I hear there is a high suicide rate. Anyways it will be fun adding Val to the list, she seems eager who knows she may have the calmer head and we will not get into so much trouble.

I can relate to the ups and downs due to Jeff’s issues, in fact, those issues put a wedge between me and my only child; Melisa could not come to grips with why I stayed with her dad, she thought I should have left him. His mood swings he had; he did his best to keep her from the brunt of them, I suppose in some ways I caught the swings of his moods but I understood why, I never enabled, usually standing my ground trying to keep my verbal responses to a minimum and using them to redirect his to something more positive.

For something to do and get people outside this winter, the Loggers Depot decided to host a cow pie toss, especially since we now have our own personal supply. People bet on the squares, we used the snow to draw the grid; you are to take the frozen patty and see where it lands.

We did this in the back parking lot, one of our grumpy patrons did not like the idea we were standing in HIS spot like his name was written on it. Although the more I think about it, his name is probably written in invisible ink via his urine.

Well, Jasper is his name he got in a heated discussion with yours truly, so I told him he could use our personal parking space, he was not happy about it and said so in words which I will not put here.

After the event and all the winners collected their winnings the FEMA team was kind enough to help me clean up the frozen patties and place them in Jaspers front seat. I continued to buy Jasper drinks all night, borrowed his keys, told him with all he drank he will be driven home. Tomorrow he is supposed to call me when he is coming to pick it up; I will go out and warm it up for him. I did just that, Jasper being hung over got in with the car idling and toasty warm, sat down, the cow patties were pie by now.

Course I do not know who did such a thing; they were not like that when I started the car.

He knew in his heart of hearts and he knew better than say anything contrary cuz he knew I have a long memory and do not mind waiting, till I get my revenge. This one was easy and timely.

Well Jasper not being the sharpest knife in the drawer figured I had help, and he would go to the newest member of FEMA and complain cuz it came from her cows, so a thinking girl that she is decided she would let him know she is not a mere newbie in the FEMA organization, she has FEMA written on her soul. While Jasper was complaining about what happened to him and getting angry by the fact everyone applauded and laughed, he was busy being snarky with the patrons, so Val went out and after thawing some cow poop which we had leftovers we piled up on a humus pile, with surgical gloves, she thawed this poop, smeared a light coating on his steering wheel. Jasper lives close by, just around the corner, this night he was not aware of this thing done to his steering wheel until the next morning, his roommate, who is sick of the complaining said he watched Val do it bought her a drink, then shared the after effect.

Jasper woke in the middle of the night, accused his roommate of not keeping the fan on in the bathroom long enough and the whole place smelled like shit, yet it took him awhile to figure out the smell followed him, until he washed his hands, now remember he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, he drove the car to breakfast, the waitress who is a regular at the Loggers Depot, (she may be the next inductee to FEMA) said to Jasper, “Gawd Jasper, you smell like shit!”

Now Jasper knew he’d been had, took his car to have detailed the 2nd time in one week. Yes, life is good as a FEMA member.

FEMA Chapter 9

Well, Jasper is under control he has actually taken his grump down a notch. I am getting the swing of things being a wife and now co-owner in Logger Depot, the regulars are now calling me the Misses, which is kinda nice. I still get my regular Friday FEMA meetings to be with the girls which are in rare form tonight, Sue is a bit unnerved one of our new Patron’s his name is Ron is paying undue attention to Sue even though she told him in no uncertain terms she was not interested.

He sends drinks, which she sends back she says she does not want to encourage his attention by accepting drinks when she gets up to go to the lady’s room, play pool, put money in the Juke box he follows her and tries to start up a conversation. She repeats her mantra “Ron, I do not want to hurt your feelings, I am not dating, I will not be dating, please leave me alone.”

Well the FEMA team came up with a plan to put a damper on his need to constantly follow Sue around the place. Sue will turn and talk to him the next time he walks up to her, we plan this as Sue is coming out of the lady’s room Ron will invariably walk up to talk to her, she will say something different to keep his attention, try to turn him so his back is to the restrooms. That is where Ruth comes in, she will come up behind Ron quietly, put a six-foot length of toilet paper into his waistband, also a three-foot length of toilet paper attached to his shoe.

I am sure the other patrons will notice when Ron walks back to his stool at the bar. Indeed they did the laughter started slowly, comments started to fly such as, “Hey Ron if you are trying to save money just ask Tony for a roll of toilet paper to take home with you, he is a generous kind of guy.”

My favorite was

“Hey, Ron how much paper did you think you need to wipe your ass.”

That was the remark that made Ron turn and look behind him; he found the toilet paper stuck in his pants and his shoe. He turned and looked at the FEMA table, we sent him a drink and nodded it was us.

He accepted the drink and the fact Sue was not interested.

Yes, you may be saying we were hard on the guy, although you might be right, but if we do not demand respect from our fellow men they will continue to step over the boundaries.

Now the problem arose Saturday when Sue went grocery shopping; Ron approached her and told her loudly “I do not appreciate you humiliating me like that at the bar.”

Sue stood her ground and said, “I do not appreciate it when I have told you multiple times in a nice way that I was not interested in dating you or anyone else.”

By this time someone called the police station and Kyle was dispatched, walking in he could see and nearly hear the conversation when he got closer he heard Ron say “I am not done with you.”

Kyle approached and said, “Sir are you threatening this woman?”

Ron turned looked at the name tag, looked at Sue,  Sue then said: “Kyle this is Ron, he is having a hard time understanding that I do not want to date him, and Ron this is my son if you have a problem with me you take it up with him.”

That finally gave Ron an attitude adjustment.


FEMA Chapter 10

Spring is trying to spring into action; we are planning an Adult Easter egg hunt. To participate you need to donate $10 the money will go to the local Humane Society. We are using the back parking lot and will put out eggs with a coupon inside or 1 free drink. Depending on how many donate will determine how many eggs will be hidden. Each participant is told in advance they are allowed one egg. Tony and I were surprised when we received 20 donations.

Each person found an egg and enjoyed their free drink. Inside we had a ham buffet the ones who donated ate free, the others the cover charge was $5 all you can eat. There were 5 side dishes included in the buffet. We worked like the dickens for this but it earned a thousand dollars for the shelter.

Tony asked me if I would like to adopt a dog, he or she could be a mascot for the Logger Depot. I said sure, Jeff had taught me how to train a dog, so I figured it would be fun, but I wondered if the health department would allow it. Tony said that since he has a doctor’s note stating his need for a service dog due to depression that this dog would be allowed. Tony has not been back to the doctors since him and I hooked up. He went into a depression when his wife passed from breast cancer also like Jeff he did his stint in the service and has a touch of PTSD, not nearly as bad as Jeff did. With Tony it flares up in the dark winter months he uses a SAD light which helped him tremendously.

We found this tall skinny greyhound mix male dog we call Fred, he seems to be easy going and always willing to please.

After a month of working with Fred, we felt confident to allow him in the Logger Depot. In fact, Fred helped with the Easter egg hunt. He received a treat for each egg he found and handed to a patron. They all loved it, I am surprised once again at how everyone fell in love with Fred.

Well not everyone, there is a patron that has been coming in for years, usually doesn’t give us any problems, stay’s to herself, has her drinks, then walks home. Her name is Betsy, well for some reason Betsy took a disliking to Fred, each time Fred would walk by Betsy; she would glare at her.

One night during one of the FEMA meetings I noticed Betsy gave her foot a slight swing when Fred walked by. I got up walked over to Betsy, who had a few to drink by then so I was going to give her the benefit of the doubt but I figured by my asking her this question it will be a fair warning if I find out what I suspected was true.

“Betsy, I need to ask you why you are trying to kick my dog?”

She did not deny it.

“That dog is a nuisance and should not be in here.”

“First off Betsy I have trained Fred to give this chair a wide berth, which he does, secondly if you kick my dog I will kick your ass all the way to jail do you understand?”

“I understand FEMA bitch.”

Betsy’s voice was loud enough for everyone to hear, as I walked away Fred walked uplifted his leg and pissed on Betsy’s shoe.

I gave Fred a treat and said “Good Boy”

The patrons applauded, Tony told Betsy she is no longer welcome in our establishment.

FEMA Chapter 11

We are having one of our FEMA meetings and enjoy actually a subdued quiet time if you can believe that. Nothing going on with us just enjoying each other’s company; then it happens our attention goes to the back corner of the place, large table which accommodates 10 people all guys, they have only been here a half hour yet have consumed more than we have been her 2 hours. We are figuring they are light weights. Turns out it is a bachelor party; I recognize 3 out of the 10 at the table as local boys who come here on occasion.

One in particular who is sitting at the table wants attention. Everyone look at me I am special. Anytime someone goes up and gets a dart game going he gives them his 2 cents, how they should use their arm, too much wrist, not enough wrist; you know the type. He starts in with those playing pool, same darn thing.

FEMA crew is wondering why none of the guys is putting him in his place, so I walk up to the bar to get us, girls, another round and ask Tony, he says “this is a bachelor that is the groom, they are giving him the night and attention he wants, my guess is he is not a drinker, just a blowhard when he drinks.”

Ok so I take this information to the FEMA group, we all agree he needs an attitude adjustment.  Joy is great at playing pool so is Val and Ruth, so they start a game up, I walk over to one of the guys who I know is a local, since he came to the bar to buy a round for the table, I ask him “So Ted who is your friend there?”

He turns and looks at me like I was speaking Spanish but answers “ that ass is engaged and is about to marry my sister, Catherine.”

I volleyed my response back to him “Well I am thinking he needs an attitude adjustment.”

He smiled and said, “I was hoping, that is why I suggested to bring him here for his bachelor party.”

The kid’s name is Allen who I was speaking to his sister is a sweet thing named Melisa.

Joy saunters up to the pool table as does, Ruth and Val, chalk’s her cue and racks the balls, leans in gives it the first whack. Blowhard which we found out his name is Morgan  meanders over like he is disinterested, and says to Joy, “ Now darling you need to bring your elbow down a bit.” As he said this he slowly moves forward.

Her response was priceless “If you are thinking about getting up close and personal and show me how it is done, I will shove this cue stick so far up your scrotum you will look like a gay pole dancer.”

Applause from the regulars, especially the best man and brother of the bride: I believe we need to have a talk with the bride.

I went the next day took some roses to the house I know her mom; Lola answered the door, I said: “Hey Lola these roses are for Melisa I was wondering if she was home.”

Lola said guardedly “Yes she is Christine, how did you find out about the engagement?”

I answered, “Allen had the bachelor party at the Logger Depot, I got a glimpse of the groom, I might say that she could do better, was hoping to have her come down for a bachelorette party at the Logger’s tonight on the house think you can arrange that?”

That sparked her interest, ha I am not such a bad penny when they need something.


FEMA Chapter 12

The FEMA meeting the following Friday was exclusively dedicated to how the bachelorette party will be handled. Joy has a better relationship with Lola so she handled that end. The party was scheduled for the following Friday, what we needed to do is get our ducks in a row.

Val knew this young man who has helped her with chores when her husband went through a bad spell, sweet young man, good looking helps his parents run their place just a mile east of Val’s place. Val has agreed to talk to Carl about meeting this young girl, she said she will not lie but will tell him our intentions as the FEMA girls. He smiled and said, “I have been so busy with helping my parents and school, which I just finished, I could use a night out.”

Val told him we are buying food and drinks for him all night; and will supply a designated driver, that is where Sue comes in, she asked Kyle, he said he did not want to get involved in one of our crazy schemes but Rose said she would do it.

Ok now that is set, the day arrives, all the girls showed up for the big night, come to find out the girls in the wedding party only agreed to stand up cuz they love Melisa, but none are too happy with her choice, so they have been clued in.

Carl brought back up to keep the wedding party happy and out of the way, his buddies were all too willing to meet the wedding party: so Melisa had no one to talk to except Carl.

All the wedding party was busy with the guys Carl brought, poor Melisa came out of the ladies room to an empty table, she looked around the girls were dispersed throughout the place, that is when Carl walked up and said “Hey seems I have been abandoned wonder if you would be interested in a game of darts?”

Melisa agreed but she told him “I will but; I need you to know I am engaged to be married the girls I came with, are part of the wedding party.”

Carl was cool as a cucumber and said: “Well maybe I am here to break up the party.”

Melisa laughed, they played pool, the girls danced with Carl’s friends, and Melisa sat at the bar talked to Carl.

Within a week we found out the wedding was called off, within a month on FEMA night Carl and Melisa walked in together asked Tony for the Microphone we use to say last drink; announced they eloped and are now husband and wife.

Yes! FEMA!!!!!!!!! Rules!!!!!!!!

That is when Laurie surprised us all and sang her heart out, her first song was Something in the way she moves; Tony came from behind the bar and asked me to dance. Life is good.

FEMA Chapter 13

Imagine my surprise when I saw this beautiful 20 something young lady walk into the Logger Depot. Sit down, she showed me her ID and I realized she was my granddaughter. Your mom Emily looked just like you at your age, I thought I was seeing things. Now you’re here saying you and your mom do not get along, you listened patiently to all my stories, but I have to tell you, sweetheart, your mom had trouble with the goings on at home, the stress was too much for her dealing with her dad’s PTSD, which I have told you already.

You do not want to be just like me, you need to find wisdom in all the things you find wrong in your life and in this world. That is something your mom has not been able to do. We are not computers you can reboot when there is a glitch, things in our lives crash; such as marriages, relationships, hearts, minds and sometimes even souls. In all that; it is where you need to find your wisdom, once you do you will be better able to understand and respect your mom. I am hoping your mom will one day find her wisdom.

Just then I heard a familiar voice “I have a mom, been listening to your stories and was wondering if I could join FEMA?”

Looking up at my daughter in all her sweetness I started to cry, Ann came around the bar put her arms around me and we both wept.

Tony said, “Christine why don’t you take the rest of the day off and get to know your daughter again.”

Ann turned to Tony and gave him a hug and a peck on the cheek then said: “Congratulations on your marriage to my mom, take good care of her.”

Tony replied, “I plan on it.”

The three of us went to a table in the back, Tony brought us drinks, and we chatted. Come to find out her and Emily’s dad have been having trouble financially and it has put a strain on the 3 of them. Emily has had a difficult time with all the bickering going on; the stress is nearly unbearable.

Ann’s husband Less has been out of work for 2 years now.

Tony overheard and asked, “If you are interested we could sure use help here, our students go back to school and it is hard to find good help, I cannot guarantee you get off all FEMA meetings but we could aim at that if you are accepted as a member.”

She answered “Wow Tony thanks; does this offer include Less?”

I said, “It does; he and you will have to learn to bartend, but once you get the hang of it the money is good.”

Ann pulled out her phone called her husband he said absolutely he used to bartend in college he knows he will be able to pick it up again.

It will be great having my family together and let’s face it Tony and I are not getting any younger and we would love to leave the place to family.

So we now have 2 more student members added to FEMA there is an initiation involved for these two.  Their initiation will be to quietly, while the other members are watching let the air out of the Sheriff’s personal car, and toilet paper his front yard.

They did a great job, they are going to be able to take over and keep FEMA going for years to come.




Annoyance -short story


I am accustomed to many things coffee in the morning, quiet moment to wake up. My new neighbor Murphy has a propensity towards annoying me. As an early riser, I always enjoyed the twilight freshness of the day. Rarely do I turn a light on. Maneuvering through my home with nightlight navigating my steps sets the tone for my quiet time. Coffee is on a timer, as I amble along my way, my brain foggy, blurry eyed reach for my cup setting next to the coffee pot. I look out my kitchen window and see Murphy has lights on in two downstairs rooms. Instinctively I pull back from the window not wanting to be seen until my appearance is something close to human. Holding my breath hoping Murphy has not glimpsed a shadowy figure passing by my window. Realizing it did not work I grabbed my long sweater from the hook near the back door. As I wrapped it around me I hear a rap on the door. Opening it I greeted Murphy “Hey Murphy what’s up?”

“I wanted to be sure you were alright. I noticed no lights on and someone walked past your kitchen window.”

“To tell you the truth Murphy I do not turn my lights on till after I have had two cups of coffee. I enjoy the peace of the morning.”

“Okay, I am glad you are okay, just let me know if you need anything.”

“Thank you, Murphy no problem”

When I am in the yard Murphy sprints overtakes the rake or whatever tool I am working with and continues my work. While explaining how I like to putter in the garden Murphy usually express his need to help when he sees me working too hard.

Now that I am retired and my husband has been gone for a year I do appreciate Murphy’s propensity towards being johnny on the spot. It is annoying and yet I should be great full.

At the age of 59, I am reasonably healthy. Still fit enough to work in the garden, clean house. I work out in the gym three times a week. I love gardening also I love to clean my house. I think it is time for me to have a conversation with Murphy. My husband used to be like this. Swoop down helping me with things I did not need help with. We nearly came to blows over him taking my rake. The day he took my garden shovel was the last straw.

I invited Murphy over for grilled burgers and a brew. Murphy insisted on grilling the burgers. As he was enjoying his beer flipping the burgers I talked to Murphy about how I viewed his helpfulness. He said “I do not mean to be annoying I am keeping my promise to your husband. He told me exactly how I should look after you.”

I said, “Hold on you mean to tell me every time you have come to my rescue your keeping your promise?”

“Yes, he told me you would sleep walk. When I saw the shadow I thought you might have been sleep-walking. He told me you have hurt yourself raking.”

Murphy went on through the list of things my late husband told him I needed help with. I explained to Murphy that my dear departed husband did those things purposefully to annoy me. Especially after we had a disagreement it was his way of getting even. We never screamed at each other. Nor did we throw things. We did things to each other knowing full well it would annoy them.

Murphy nodded his head “So even after death by using me, he is annoying you?”

“Yes, it seems that way.”

Murphy nodded again then asked, “What was the last thing he did that annoyed you?”

“I was putting in the rose bushes, he grabbed the shovel to dig the holes for me.”

Murphy nodded again took out his cell phone made a call spoke to the person “I believe we will find his body under the rose bushes.”


The Toffee Recipe

The Toffee Recipe

Stan and I just moved into this neighborhood 5  weeks ago; I was surprised at the welcome we received from our immediate neighbors. Sandy, lives across the street, makes homemade Toffee. I told her I wanted the recipe, she promised to bring it over the next day. That was two weeks ago. I decided to give her a call and ask if she would be home and that I want to come over for coffee I will bring cookies. Sandy answered the phone on the second ring she said instead of me coming over, she would come to my place.

I said: “Okay, come on over do not forget the Toffee recipe.”

Sandy laughed and said: “No problem seems I meant to bring it two weeks ago and forgot all about it sorry.”

I placed cookies on a plate, started the coffee and tidied up a bit. Sandy was at my door within 20 minutes. We had a nice conversation about husbands, kids and being a stay at home wife and mother. We both agreed it is the best way to raise children but Sandy admitted that there are times the tedium gets to her. She wished she had a bit more stimulation. I understood what she meant you can only bake, clean and drive kids to all their events for so long before you feel the need to run away from home.

During the conversation, Sandy mentioned the Hometown Bakery in town just came up for sale. The owners Wilma and Fred Brimley are in their 70’s and want to retire. Tilting my head I looked at Sandy and asked: “Are you suggesting you want to buy the place?”

“Actually I talked to Wilma and she said they would consider selling on land contract to a local with very low interest. Lynn your cookies and cakes are the best around. I know Toffee and bread. Fred and Wilma said they would stick around once or twice a week to teach us other things.” Sandy said

I felt a rush of adrenaline just considering this idea. I would have to talk to Stan. Just as I finished that thought Sandy said: “I can tell by your expression you like the idea.”

“We could share responsibilities at the Bakery and carpool kids to their events. They could come to the Bakery after school. We could have a small area in the back for them to do homework or play games till our husbands come home from work.” I said

We both agreed to broach the subject with our husbands first before we jump into it. By the end of the week, we had decided to talk with Wilma and Fred. They were genuinely pleased with our ideas and wanting to buy the place. Stan agreed that I could dip into our savings. He said: “I always thought your cakes and cookies should be marketed. I am so glad you and Sandy are going to give this a shot.”

Sandy’s husband Kevin was not the least bit reluctant. It took us a couple of months to get started. We re-opened the bakery called it  Toffee and Cakes Bakery. Our neighbors were all there opening day, encouraging our venture. It has taken some juggling with the kids after school activities. One of the other mom’s said she would help with shuttling them twice a week. Now that we are a year into it, things are moving relatively smooth. The only time there is a crimp in the day is when one of the kids needs to stay home because they are sick. Thus far we have not had a problem with one of mine and one of Sandy’s kids getting sick at the same time. It makes it harder on the one who has to tend to the Bakery on their own. We decided on those occasions we will start a list of people who want to work part-time filling in. We were glad there were other mom’s that wanted to get out of the house once in a while.

Sandy and I are now planning our 2nd-anniversary grand opening in two weeks. We will be offering free coffee, toffee, and cupcakes to any patron who makes a purchase.

We stayed late the night before the anniversary celebration preparing extras. Our personal celebration started the night before. We were drinking wine playing music. We had fun while the guys took the kids to the show and pizza.

I was pouring our second glass of wine when Sandy went up front to lock the door. I heard the bells chime, then male voices. One was saying “Oh this is a nice looking one.”

Sandy said: “Do you guys want some coffee and Toffee?”

Another one said: “No Bitch we want the place to ourselves.”

I heard the gunshot. I froze wondering if I should rush to Sandy or run out the door. The next voice I heard said: “We should check the back to see if anyone else is here.”

I ran out the back jumped in my truck and sped to the police department. I was on my phone in the parking lot and a patrol car sped past me. I heard the sirens. I tried clearing my head so I could call Stan. My phone rang it was Kevin asking how much longer it would be. I just cried. By the time it was all over I was in the hospital suffering from shock. Stan next to me, he was crying the kids were on a cot in the corner crying.

Stan took a breath and said: “The police arrived just as one of the guys came out the back door the other one was inside drinking wine and eating a cupcake. Sandy was gone. They shot her in the head.”

Wilma and Fred opened the following week they said they would work till I felt up to coming back. I don’t know if I ever want to go back. Not without Sandy.

The Night

The Night

The night was crisp and clear as I rustled the leaves during my evening walk. Twilight settling in caused me to reminisce about the days I walked with my dad. Dad would increasingly get restless at night after dinner. Mom was always glad to be rid of me while she cleaned up the dinner scraps. My dad would hold my hand whistling a little tune as we walked. Tonight I started to whistle one of those tunes, ‘When you wish upon a star’. Dad was great when it came to watching movies with me even when I wanted to see the movie 1,000 times he knew all the lines and we would act it out together.

I find myself wishing upon a star tonight wanting that man back that held my hand. Seeing him as he was not as he is, old, bent, and slow in mind due to Alzheimer’s. If he could be as stealth walking as he was when I was little we could take this walk after dinner whistling, ‘When you wish upon a star’. Instead, I spend afternoons allowing him to act out what he remembers, many times the same thing 1,000 times over. I owe that to the best dad a girl could ever have.

He used to kid me because he could tell me the same joke 1,000 times and I would always laugh at it. As a little girl, I laughed because I knew dad was playing with me. Now I tell the joke knowing he will laugh as though he heard it for the first time. I tell the same jokes 1,000 times just to make him laugh 1,000 times. Some friends have asked how could I possibly do this every day? I say: “Because he is 1,000 times a day better than most dads.”

Behind the Glass By Christine Swiderski

Every fall we go to a Lodge in the utmost Northern part of our state. My parents chose this destination and the time of year to see the fall colors and see less of humanity. In the summer the Lodge would be swarming with families trying to get away from it all. Now that I am in my teens, my choice would be to stay home or at least bring a friend. I even try to concoct excuses to bring a friend or stay home. I always lose that game.

The road is lined with trees which seem to spiral its way around nature. I stare out my window hoping to catch a glimpse of wildlife which enjoyed the freedom I do not have. I was deep in thought when we pulled into the driveway of the Lodge. Slowly I glance up and notice peering out at me from a window was a girl who looked to be my age. I waved with enthusiasm figuring I just might be able to make a new friend.

After unpacking I set out to find the room the girl behind the glass may be staying in. The hallways are long, lit only by sconces on the walls. As I approached the door, I felt a cold chill. I shrugged it off thinking it was because I am out of my comfort zone. Normally I do not extend myself to strangers; I was determined to have a good time this year with someone my own age.

I knocked at the door there was no answer.  I soon gave up and went out to get some air. I walked around the front of the Lodge thinking maybe I missed judged where the room would be. Looking up to the window I noticed a shadow just beyond my view. There was no doubt in my mind someone was standing there not wanting to be seen. I wondered why she did not answer the door.

Just before I walked away a gentleman walked up to me and said: “Hi I am Mr. Sullivan my wife and I own this lodge. That window you are looking up at used to be our daughter’s room. She disappeared about 10 years ago. We keep the door locked not wanting to disturb anything in the room just in case she might come back to us. She was about your age when she disappeared.”

I said: “Mr. Sullivan? I saw a girl in the window when we pulled in. Maybe someone found a way into the room.”

He said: “That is not possible I am the only one with a key. But I will go check, just to be sure.”

I was not convinced when Mr. Sullivan told me in front of my parents that he had checked the room and no one was in there nor had they been for some time.

My dad asked what Mr. Sullivan was talking about and I told my dad what I had seen.  My dad said to leave it be and find something else to do other than snooping around the Lodge.  I went to the dining room poured myself a cup of coffee and decided on a cheese Danish. I sat down, still pondering what I saw. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a tall, lanky guy walk in, he glanced over at me and gave me a chin-up nod saying hello. I nodded back and continued to eat my Danish.  He walked over and asked if he could sit with me. I shrugged and pointed to the empty chair across from me. I noticed he had chosen the cheese Danish as well.

Once we shared a little about ourselves I found out he was there against his will as well. We both laughed at how we tried to get out of coming, especially how futile it was to even try. I told Brian about what I saw in the window.

He said: “There is a rumor that the Sullivan’s had a daughter who was kidnapped. There is another rumor that Mr. Sullivan locked her in her room so she would not go out with boys.”

I said: “Mr. Sullivan did not seem that creepy. He was genuinely worried that someone may have breached the locked door.”

Brian asked me if I would like to meet him after dinner. I said sure. He told me of a spot that had an abandoned cabin we could hang out at. We could build a fire and he would see to the refreshments. It sounds like heaven compared to hanging with the boring adults around the campfire making Smores and singing stupid songs.

After dinner, I told my parents I did not feel well and I wanted to go into our room to watch TV. My dad asked if I was sure and said I would be missing a huge bonfire and plenty of singing, dancing and telling of ghost stories. Gawd, that sounds awful. I went to our room, showered, and changed into jeans and a sweatshirt. I grabbed a flashlight, matches, my cell phone, pepper spray because a girl cannot be sure when it comes to guys.

When I arrived at the abandoned cabin Brian was inside and there was smoke coming out of the chimney. When he said fire I really thought it would be a campfire. I went in Brian had a blanket and pillows laid out in front of an old stone fireplace.

I asked: “Brian, are you sure it is safe to burn in that fireplace? It’s so old. I am wondering if the chimney can take the heat.”

Brian shrugged and said: “I have come every year to this spot and never had an issue. Come over here I have cold beer and whiskey.”

I walked over, while I was sitting down Brian handed me a beer. I then asked Brian: “Did you know Sullivan’s daughter?”

“Yes, I met her once or twice my family comes up here every year in the fall,” Brian said

I said: “Really? So does my family. Mr. Sullivan said his daughter disappeared 10 years ago. How old were you?”

“I was 9 years old; my parents paid Melissa to babysit while they went to the bonfire.” He answered.

We sat for a while staring into the fire sipping beer and whiskey. All the while I was wondering if Brian knows something of Melissa’s disappearance.

After opening my second beer I asked: “Brian do you know anything about Melissa’s disappearance?”

“I was 9 years old when it happened. I had a crush on Melissa. The police asked me if I had seen anyone unusual that night, I told them no. It is true I never saw anything unusual. There were two other families with boys Melissa’s age that came up every year at the same time. My parents would pay Melissa to babysit me. Melissa would give me junk food and $2 so I wouldn’t tell anyone that she was not with me the entire night. She would sneak off with the other boys. She always came back smelling like cigarettes and beer. I told the police that but never told my parents. I guess the police asked them questions so I never thought anything about it.” Brian said

I started to wonder about Brian. I wonder if I am not asking the right question. I waited till we finished our 3rd beer before I asked: “Brian did you have anything to do with Melissa’s disappearance?”

“No, but the last time I saw her I told her I had a crush on her. She laughed at me and said she would give me a gift. She took her clothes off and let me do anything I wanted. I was on 9 years old I did not know what I wanted to do. She laughed at me because my body knew what it wanted to do but I was too young to know what to do. She showed me. I was angry that she laughed at me. I was humiliated.” He said

Brian turned to me and smiled: “I was only 9. I can laugh about it now.”

I nodded and I was glad I brought the pepper spray. I got up and said: “Excuse me I need to do my business. The beer is going through me.”

I went outside carrying my purse. I had no intention of going back inside. Something did not seem right. I found a log I could lean against, I really did need to take a piss. My pants were down, from the corner of my eye I could see Brian come up around a tree in front of me. He said: “I know what I want now and I know what to do about it.”

I could not stop peeing my bladder would not shut down. I started to scream. At that very moment, I saw another person come in from the dark. I shined my flashlight just in time to see my dad walk up and hit Brian on the side of his head with his fist.  I was never so glad to see my dad.

Brian was on the ground my dad standing over him cursing at him and threatening to do grave bodily harm if even so much as looked at me again.

I started to walk towards my dad he looked at me with a mixture of relief and pissed off. I thanked him and apologized.

He said: “Come on let’s go. Next time your mom and I come up here you can stay at your cousin’s.”

I nodded my head and apologized again. I told my dad about the conversation I had with Brian. My dad said he would speak with Mr. Sullivan. I did not find out till we were home that Brian was arrested for the disappearance and murder of Melissa. They found her remains in the crawls space of the abandoned cabin.

The girl behind the glass was trying to tell me she did not run away.


Do I?

Do  I ?

Do I answer the call?

Do I give my all?

Do I stand in the gap?


Even when the call is obscured?

Even when the call is unpopular?

Even when I am demonized?


Do I stand my ground?

Do I risk my life?

Do I pray?


Even when the stand is unpopular?

Even when the risk is my life?

Even when I pray and the answer isn’t Popular?


60’s we were cursed!

Later there was a new verse.

What will today bring?


The Commander and chief is smeared!

Other chiefs scurrying for cover.

I am called to stand in the gap!


Integrity does not adhere to hoax

Popularity is not a jump from a bridge

I stand in the gap!


I am a Marine!

I am Army!

I am Air force!

I am Navy!


I am your gap!

I uphold the values!

Your hearts may waver, I won’t!