Late for Work Chapter 2

Late For Work Chapter 2

The aftermath

 

The television reporter was standing a block away you could see over his shoulder smoke, dust and debris strewn everywhere. A police officer came over asking all the reporters to move even further away because they did not have the scene contained nor was it considered safe.

The reporter nodded and as the crew walked another block away the reporter did a re-cap of the events.

The reporter said: “As commuters were traveling to work, some were parents driving their children to school or day care; two bombs went off that were placed on two separate over passes. The overpasses collapsed sending projectile debris in all directions. Store fronts and private homes were damaged. Vehicles were trapped between the overpasses. Fender benders were the least of the damages done to vehicles and their passengers. At this time we do not have a total count of those who survived and are missing. Someone called in and said they saw a man in Muslim clothing using a cell phone he was on the shoulder of the expressway. After the explosion 2 men got out of their cars and started after the man. The 2 men grabbed the man who they believed used his cell phone to blow up the overpasses. They proceeded to beat the man until he did not move. This was told to me by an anonymous caller.”

I listened in horror as the fatality count came in with the reporter stating these are approximate figures as first responders push through the rubble. 36 dead, many are still trapped some are calling out for help.

They brought the reporter back on who is on the scene and he continued to tell his impressions of the situation, he described it as Ordered Chaos.

It took 6 months for everything to be cleared up 70 dead 50 injured. Many are still reeling from the event. There are terror groups taking credit, FBI was still investigating the possibility of a home grown terrorist, while Home Land Security was combing through the intel.

Our office had become busy with people wanting to know who they could sue for the loss of their loved ones. Others wanted to know who is responsible and if there were any legal recourse. We said no to all of the requests not wanting to add insult to injury.

I am grateful for that morning when my alarm was set for PM instead of AM.

The River

The River

 

As the river winds around its path it brings with it life to many creatures, I wonder how many lives it has taken? Sitting at the water’s edge has always been my deepest need at the end of the day. I am eternally grateful to my dad for giving me his place. Long after my mother passed away dad took it upon himself to build his retreat from the compression of the city. I do not mind the hour drive to work as long as when I come home I can sit at the water’s edge.

The weekend gives its magic by allowing me to start and finish my day at the water’s edge. Friday did not come soon enough as I sit here I realize even more the need for me to find work outside the oppressive pressure the city inflicts on me. People have changed over time. It seems there is no longer the same value for life, respect for others or even simple courtesy of saying excuse me. Rage is just beneath the surface of those who walk the streets.

I was standing a foot away from her when it happened. My arms hung helplessly at my side when the man punctured her lung with the knife, he turned to me I quickly took the knife from him and had him to the ground when the police came. My training in the Marines had saved my life yet I feel I should have acted quicker to save the young woman’s life. I did not see it coming; the man came walking nonchalantly giving no indication he was going to take her life. I looked him in the eyes when I took him down. There was no remorse, in fact, he seemed pleased with himself. He had a cold dark stare of amusement as he said, Allah Akbar. I have seen those eyes too many times in others I cannot bring myself to count nor do I want to remember the carnage eyes like that can bring upon a community.

I understood why my dad built this place he too was a Marine. There is a saying once a Marine always a Marine I truly believe that is so. When mom was ill dad was at her side and was her caretaker. He knew basic palliative care he learned as a Marine. You needed to know certain things in case one of your team was in need of emergency care before the medic got to you.

Mom died of cancer, my dad felt helpless there was no tourniquet that could keep cancer from spreading, draining the life out of her one day at a time.

When I arrived back at work after the incident out on the street I was applauded as a hero I felt like a failure. My boss told me to take the rest of the day off. I gave him a nod and said I would be taking all of the following week off as well.

Tonight’s thoughts are weighing heavily upon me the water usually has a calming effect but instead, the current is hammering away rather pulling away my day. My mind is replaying the events of the day; all the should have, could haves will never be quenched. I slowly tipped back the Jack Daniels allowing the burning liquid to take effect, numbing my thoughts.

My wife left me 6 months ago she could no longer take my sullen disposition when events not under my control bring me to the water’s edge with my best friend Jack Daniels. I would drink myself into a stupor and tonight will be no different. I expect to wake up damp and chilled, crawl up the hill to the house and flop on the sofa until I feel halfway human again.

The sound was sharp and came from the north; the fog in my brain slowed my reaction. When my eyes opened I saw a slight figure hanging from a limb above the water’s edge. It suddenly occurred to me that there was a girl hanging from the limb crying. I jumped up swam across to position myself under her. She let go of the limb just as I arrived. I reached out just as her head went below the surface. As I pulled her up she fought me with all her strength. I did not give into her fists nor her cries to let her go.  Once I got her to the bank she stopped hitting me and just sobbed.

“Why did you do that? I did not want to come out of the water.” She said

“I could not let you drift down this current to disappear without someone showing they cared enough for you to pull you to safety,” I answered

She was silent as she stared up at me and she finally said: “Thank you for caring, but why should you care if I don’t?”

“No one was here for my father when he no longer cared. He must have thought no one else cared either. I cared. I still care.” I said

We introduced ourselves and I shared what was left of the Jack Daniels. She told me she lost her sister today someone had walked up to her and stabbed her puncturing her lung. My heart finally felt relief and I felt the river take my sorrow away. I told her what I had done and apologized for not acting fast enough to save her sister’s life. She forgave me. That was exactly what I needed. Forgiveness.

 

 

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?”

I used to eat buggers

Funny how somethings are universal. Some will not admit that they ate buggers and other bazaar things as a kid. Just let a parent ask that same kid to eat their vegetables and they go into immediate rebellion.

I gave my parents fits. For some reason, I would not just go along with any of their demands. My quest was to be my own person. Show them they did not know what they were talking about. I shake my head in this season of my life. My daughter of 10 going on 30 is a precocious, intelligent girl. How does a parent guide such a gift without breaking her spirit. I doubt seriously I could break her spirit she is too much like me. Yet I want her to be safe and still have independence. The internet is one place that scares the crap out of me.

Recently Vanessa started to hang out with a group of kids. Some are goth others are biker imposters. When they come into my home the one rule they vehemently dislike, ‘No closed door rule!’ I hear the language I use when driving. Don’t get me wrong, I truly understand their protest. The problem I have is when I am in the room they seem to be normal rebellious I hate adults, pubescent teenagers. In private when they don’t think I am listening the mantra seems truculent, volatile. I want to say something to Vanessa, yet I do not want her to be pushed into thinking they are right about me.

One Saturday Vanessa asked to go to a party at one of her friend’s

house. This friend I suspect is the leader of this pack of malcontents. Her name is Cheryl. Bruce, Luke, Brenda round out the outcast gaggle.

I asked Vanessa the usual questions: “Are there going to be any adults at the party. No alcohol or drugs.”

Her answer while rolling her eyes was “Yes Cheryl’s older brother Stan will be there and her uncle Clarence will be there. Uncle Clarence is visiting from Utah.”

I reluctantly said yes giving Vanessa a curfew of 11:30. That is a half an hour later than her normal curfew. I wanted her not to suspect that I and her dad will be there at 10 to check on things. She was so glad I trusted her she hugged me.

John and dropped Vanessa off at 6:30. We took this opportunity to have some adult time. First, we went to our favorite restaurant. Nowhere on the menu could you find anything fried. Entrees are braised, Broasted or grilled. We finished eating and was paying our bill when my cell phone rang. It was Vanessa. She said she left the party and was at the corner store waiting to be picked up. I asked her why. She said she was bored with all the complaining everyone was doing about what’s wrong with the world.

I told John what she had said he laughed “Well maybe this was just a phase she got bored with. I wonder what will come next.”

Vanessa was waiting outside the store, we pulled along side where she was standing. While she slid onto the seat I asked: “Is that the same outfit you were wearing when you left the house?”

Vanessa answered: “Yes mom why do you ask?”

I shrugged and said: “I Don’t know maybe I was thinking about the outfit you wore yesterday.”

As we turned onto our street we heard multiple sirens passing just behind us. John looked over at me and said: “Wonder what is so important that 2 police departments are responding?”

Shaking my head I said: “I can’t imagine we live in such a quiet part of town.”

Vanessa hadn’t eaten, I fixed her a sandwich and heated up the leftover soup. She seemed perky and chatty. We talked about her friends which she now described as “Those relationships have been laid to rest.”

As I was cleaning up the kitchen there was a knock at the door. I heard John say: “Yes sir come on in. How can I help?”

 

A male voice said: “Sir do you have a daughter named Vanessa?”

John answered: “Yes sir, she is upstairs.”

I walked into the living room to find John was talking to a man in a suit. He introduced himself as Detective Scarborough.

The Detective then asked: “Has Vanessa been home all night.”

John described in detail how our evening went. All the while the detective listened intently jotting down something in a small notebook.

The detective asked if he could speak with Vanessa. I asked why and added; “Do we need an attorney?”

The detective said: “I don’t believe so mam. There have been multiple homicides at the home where your daughter was seen entering and exiting this evening. We just need to know if she had seen anything out of the ordinary.”

John had gone upstairs to ask Vanessa to come down and speak to the police officer.

The detective asked Vanessa “When you arrived what was everyone doing.”

Vanessa described in detail where everyone was, what the plan was for the party, and why she left early.

John said: “Good God Vanessa I am so glad you decided to leave early.”

I stood there staring at my daughter saying a quiet prayer and “She is only 10.”

The detective asked a question that I had running through my head: “Vanessa have you ever fired a gun before.”

John spoke up: “What the hell are you asking my 10-year-old daughter? Are you suggesting she had anything to do with this horrible event?”

The detective said: “Sir it is routine we ask these sort of questions, no matter the age.”

There was a tap at the door, a police officer in uniform came in. He had a Ziploc bag with a bloody garment in it. He handed it to the detective.

The detective showed Vanessa the contents and asked her “Have you ever seen this sweater before?”

Vanessa shook her head yes and said “ My friend Cheryl borrowed it the other day. She was supposed to return it after she washed it.”

The detective shook his head. There was a knot in my stomach. That was the sweater Vanessa wore to the party. The detective said: “The only reason I am asking is there is GSR on it. Whoever was wearing it this evening fired a gun. The blood is still wet which means , the blood is fresh.”

John looked at me, as he shook his head in disbelief he said: “She is only 10.”

I guess we need an attorney.

Bookstore

In a blink of an eye

Racial profiling seems to be missed used. I wonder sometimes how those who are working to protect us, determine a risk. Profiling is used so often in hard to solve cases. Narrowing down who could have done it and why. Putting anything in order helps us get a perspective. Whether it’s a problem with children or on a higher level, national security. If we were straight with each other we would admit profiling has more pluses than minuses.

I tend to be dramatically kindhearted. At least that’s what my friends say. Friends will sit me down and solemnly try to get me to change. Explaining to me how I need to be more aloof. It’s maddening because I cannot get them to understand, I cannot change who I am. No more than an ossified politician change. I and they are hardened to the core of our demeanor’s.

I feel things intensely. Rarely do I give a cool shrug to those things which are unjust, in need of rescue. A person in need is as important as an animal in need. I do not differentiate between the two.

Until one day my life changed forever. While I was doing my weekly shopping I encountered a man sitting on a curb. He was filthy, smelly, thin and crying. I sat down next to him and handed him a water and a sandwich. He drank the water and scarfed down the sandwich.

I figured he was down on his luck. He turned to me and asked: “Got any more sandwiches?”

I said: “No but if you are still hungry I will take you across the street and buy you a meal.”

He laughed and said: “The way I look they won’t let me in there.”

I explained to him a friend of mine owns the place, we can go through the back door and sit at a table near the emergency exit. He nodded and followed me across the street. My friend saw us coming I could see she was already rolling her eyes.

Sitting at the table far away from regular customers the man ordered steak and eggs, coffee, and piece of apple pie. I ordered a tuna on rye. As we ate I tried to engage him in conversation. He was too busy shoveling the food into his mouth. I was curious as to why he would not tell me his name. Nor anything about himself. I figured he had a right to his privacy.

My girlfriend and her husband own the restaurant. Shelly came over to ask if there was anything else we needed. The man said: “Yes, money, empty your register.”

Neither of us could wrap our heads around what he said. It was so out of place it left us both speechless. Ron, Shelly’s husband overheard the remark. He backed into the kitchen, slowly emerged just as the man pulled a gun and placed it to Shelly’s head. Ron fired one shot. I sat at the table with brain matter on me and on my tuna on rye.

From now on, I will pass by someone sitting on the curb. I will only rescue dogs.

Bookstore