Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Search For Absolution Part 4

Part one is over here , two is here and here is three.

Wednesday afternoons are a funny time for a bar and much of it depends on where you are located. If you are close to a college it is not unusual to see groups of them come in during the times when people who have to work for a living are off doing it.

The higher class joints that are located near businesses sometimes have groups of business folk hanging around a bit longer and later. Some are having working lunches and others sneak out to get a jump in happy hour.

And then there are the neighborhood bars where you have your regulars, some of whom are legitimate drunks affectionately known as bar flies and then there are the others who visit frequently but are more cautious about how much they drink before they hit the road again.

I got started in the business in college which is precisely why we are not located in a college town. I am not interested in dealing with the kind of crazy and stupid that comes with college students.

Didn’t want to run a shop that was called a dive or anything that you’d call a bar and grill so I avoided the neighborhoods that would give us that moniker and the business side of town that would charge Beverly Hills rent.

It left me with a sort of hybrid and that I like that. Makes life much more interesting and enables me to pivot and shift as needed. Must have been around 4 or so when he showed up again. Mostly I remember because he walked in just as  McCartney and Wings started playing the live version of Let Em In.

Most likely coincidence, but notable.


He walked in dressed in his Johnny Cash Black same as he had done a million times before and grabbed a stool at the bar. Didn’t smile, didn’t frown just sat down and waited for me to find him.

I wandered down to his side of the bar and he asked for whatever I had on tap and sat there drinking in silence.

He made eye contact with me and smiled. I smiled back and waited for him to begin speaking and then I kept waiting.

Damn if he didn’t make me break the cardinal rule of bar tending yet again. We are not priests or rabbis. We aren’t shrinks, we don’t get involved in our patrons issues and at best we pretend to listen because a friendly face and a warm smile help to encourage our customers to buy another drink.

“As far as I know I don’t have any ninjas as customers, but you might be the exception to the rule. No one else is as good at showing up and disappearing as you are.”

He smiled at me, nodded his head and took another sip.

“It is good that I am not a ninja. You are not supposed to notice them come or go. Based upon those standards I am not very good at all.”

This time I was the one who laughed.

“Nah, you intentionally understate your ability. There is an intensity about you that only an idiot would miss.”

He nodded his head and I headed to the far end of the bar. There wasn’t any particular reason to be there other than something about him always made me feel a bit off center.

Can’t tell you what or why, but my best guess is it is tied into my interest in his story.

We both tended to our business and then when I couldn’t pretend to wipe down the bar again I refilled his beer and opened his book again.

“The last time you were here you told me you were living in the same city but you hadn’t had any contact with her. Are you still living there? Did you ever connect? Is she going to walk in tonight and surprise me? Fill me in brother, you have my ear.”

“For the moment I am not really living anywhere, I am in limbo. Yes we connected and no she is not going to show up tonight. I don’t know if I ever told her about this place. Hell, I intentionally picked somewhere where nobody knows me because sometimes I prefer my company over all others.”

“So what does that mean? Did you resolve anything?”

“If I told you she is crazy you’d say all women are and then you’d be sued by some women’s group and you’d blame me for it.”

“That is not an answer. Whatever happened to you too?”

He wiped his mouth, laughed and stood up.

“We are still trying to figure that one out.”

“Wait, you still haven’t told me what happened. Does she still love you? Do you love her?”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but were you raised solely by women. Those questions have a female bent to them.”

Sometimes the best way to get an answer from a guy like him was to read between the lines and figure out what he didn’t say. If I have learned nothing else from him there is no benefit in trying to force an answer he is not willing to give on his 0wn.

He might not know what he thinks or feels or might be afraid to say. Whatever the reason it doesn’t mater for the time being there is no upside to chasing him so I didn’t.

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Protecting His Heart

One day she asked him if he remembered how he said he was going to protect his heart and he said yes.

“What happened to my tough guy, where was the hard ass who made me fall in love with him?”

He looked up and at her eyes and when he saw she was serious he smiled.

“That guy tried to stick around. He copied someone we both know and made a list of reasons why he should stay away and then he didn’t. Didn’t stay angry, didn’t stay away, he just didn’t…”

This time she watched his eyes and saw he wasn’t messing with her. It was a real response.

“But baby, what would have happened if you hadn’t chased me? What would have happened if you hadn’t ignored me and had just let me go?”

“Oh I let you go many times, the same way you let me go. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to just hang around waiting to see if you would change your mind. I said I would pay attention to what you did and if you did things that proved you were serious about there never being a future I would walk.”

Her eyes widened and narrowed and for a moment she was silent. When she realized how hard he was staring at her she blushed.

“Sometimes you see right through me, it makes me uncomfortable.”

He laughed.

“We see through each other. I told you a million times that there is something else here. I stopped trying to explain or control it, I just sort of go with it. Reminds me of sailing and the way the ocean moves the boat. You can’t stop the water from doing what it is going to do but you can try to manage it.

We were always happier when we were in contact than when we weren’t. I always knew that and I was certain that if I made it clear that you could contact me you would but that I wasn’t going to just chase you when you were so distracted.”

“Oh and you weren’t ever distracted now were you.”

He rolled his eyes at her and laughed.

“We had our moments but we always found our way. It is impossible not to notice that someone out there seems to be the sole person you can’t stay angry with and that they fill the empty spaces.


That conversation had taken place so long ago it was hard to remember that it had really happened. She had asked him if they were addicted to each other again and had told him they were inextricably linked and yet they were apart.

He shrugged his shoulders and went about his business. There were a million things to do before the sun went down and he had to attend to other responsibilities.

Yet every time he looked out of his window he saw an early rising moon sitting in the late afternoon sky. They had always talked about the moon being theirs and truth was that when he saw it he almost always thought of her but it was rare those thoughts came during the day.

And yet now the sky was filled with both the sun and the moon. Two celestial objects that were similar yet different, not quite the same as men and women but…

For a moment he thought about her and wondered what she was doing. Been a long time since they had a real conversation. That hadn’t been his choice but he figured he wasn’t going to spend time chasing her. He was done with that and then he snorted.

Even he didn’t completely believe that but he wasn’t going to volunteer that to her. Just in case he was wrong he needed to protect his heart.

Still under a sky in which the moon and sun were neighbors it was hard not to believe that there was some magic left in the world.

And as we walked back inside he heard some whispering in the wind and though he knew immediately what it was he heard he filed it away for there was work to be done and that sort of thought was best saved for the night.

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Two Liars

I once knew two liars.

A girl and a boy who came of age during a time when science was considered truth and magic was considered to be the province of con men, charlatans and snake oil salesmen.

The two of them grew up in separate towns, went to separate schools and for a very long time lived separate lives.

Lives that were filled with the normal ups and downs and experiences people have. They loved and lost and lived and laughed.

All of these things were done apart from each other which made perfect sense because they grew up in separate worlds and had no reason to be aware of the existence of the other until the time came when they had no reason not to.

The intersection between their lives turned their worlds upside down and inside out. It forced them to reconsider all they once knew as true and made them question all they thought they were as individuals.

Had they lived during the age of magic they wouldn’t have questioned any of these things. They would have accepted the things their hearts knew as truth even when their heads questioned them.

But they didn’t grow up during the age of magic so they relied upon what they knew to be true…science.

Science provided logic, reason and rational explanations for why people were as they were and did as they did. But even though science ruled the day magic still owned the night and under the moonlit skies its influence was more profound.

One such night the boy kissed the girl or the girl kissed the boy and a fire was lit.


For a long while time stood still and they held each other close and made the sort of secret promises you make to those whose hearts and souls you have seen.

They walked hand in hand under that moonlit sky and swore they would never let go of each other and they believed every word they said.

Yet when the day came and science regained control the boy began to wonder if maybe he had been confused. The girl was smart, beautiful and had dark soulful eyes that made him melt but he wondered if maybe he had fooled himself.

He wondered if maybe her soft touch had made him think thoughts that were less than clear and he pulled away from her.

The girl called out to him and told him not to fear. She promised if he held onto her they would figure it out and swore she could protect his heart from the pain he feared would come.

For a long while he did and she did and so it went until they did not.

Neither knew when that moment came or who truly let go of who, just that it did.


The boy didn’t know how much time had passed between the last time the girl and he had their moment under the moonlit sky.

She was gone. Hidden behind the walls she had built around her heart to keep him out.

He  wandered through forests and deserts searching for a way back in. Under black skies filled with creatures of the night he walked daring those who crossed his path to allow him to unleash his anger upon them.

The sun rose and the sun set and still he had no idea where the key was hidden or how to breach the walls. He had tried everything he could think of and then one day he decided he needed to build his own wall to protect his own heart.

She wasn’t going to be the mistress of no love by herself, no he would be the master. He just needed time to build the wall as high as he could and once it was there would be no entrance.


At least that was the plan.

He was going to protect his heart by keeping her out.

What he didn’t know what that the girl had been watching him. She had seen him pass by the windows and doorways of her castle. She had heard him cry out in pain and in anger.

Sometimes she had waved at him and once or twice called out to him but he didn’t see and he didn’t hear so he didn’t respond.

It hurt her heart to see him like this and so she thought about doing something to really get his attention but when she decided to reach out all she saw was the wall he had erected and so she thought she wouldn’t take a chance to hurt her heart when it was clear his had no place for compassion.

At least that was the plan.

But under a moonlit sky the wizards and witches of the world took action. During the night when magic ruled they hurled lightning bolts and fireballs at the walls of the boy and girl and left giant gaping holes and craters in them.

Giant openings that forced the boy and the girl to come out from their hiding places so that they might attend to fixing them and as the wizard and witches planned the boy and girl ran into each other.

Had they met under the moonlit night the plan would have been perfectly executed except like many plans it ran into a hiccup or two. Because when they saw each other it was during day.

Under the sunny science ruled day they shared an awkward hello and an even more awkward hug. They exchanged a few words and lied to each other about how happy they were.

But what they didn’t say was what happened inside.

They didn’t talk about the butterflies they felt or how their hearts danced with joy and cried out for each other.

The wizards and witches watched from their mountain hideout. The wizards shouted at the scene and told the boy to kiss her. They said take a chance.

The witches shouted at the girl and told her to turn her face towards his and to take a step closer.

But science ruled the day so when the boy saw the girl lick her lips he didn’t think she was encouraging him to kiss her or consider that maybe she wanted to be kissed.

Suddenly the head witch shrieked at the head wizard to take her hand. He listened without thinking and together they cast a spell that caused a cloud to cover the sun and increased the influence of magic.

The wizards and witches chanted spells in the background and just when the feared it wouldn’t work the boy reached out and tried to kiss the girl on the cheek.

When the girl saw this she turned her face so lips met lips and the proverbial fireworks went off.

Behind two walls the forges which had been silent for so long started to work again. Cold dark places were lit by small flames that quickly turned into roaring fires.

A great cheer was heard from the wizards and witches and then voices.

“You know this isn’t going to last. The spell will wear off and the boy will respond to the influence of science again.”

“Silly wizard, we know this. The girl will resume her beliefs too and hers will be even stronger. She will see this as a mistake, a moment caused by hormones. She’ll convince herself that she did this to reward him for the sadness she believed she caused.”

The wizards were horrified by this.

“You mean he’ll learn he got lucky because she felt badly not because she wanted to be with him! That won’t make him happy. It will infuriate him. The wall will be rebuilt higher and stronger than ever!”

“Foolish wizard. He won’t know this because she won’t tell him. We need him to always believe that he can find her and reach her. That fire will never go out for either one of them. She spent hours thinking about him during their time apart. But she won’t admit that to him or herself because without confidence it is going to be reciprocated it is too hard.”

The wizards nodded their heads.

“Is she really so foolish as to believe that he was with her solely because she did what others did not. That is not what this is about for him nor was it ever. His focus has always been upon other things.”

For a while the wizard and witches exchanged comments and banter and then two voices broke through again.

“We have no worries about their individual abilities to break down the walls. The truth is they have always had the ability to walk through the walls each other built. We know this to be true because once we were them.”

The wizards and witches looked at the head witch and wizard.

“She will always give him a reason why she cannot be with him until he demonstrates to her the reason why she cannot. And when he does she will join her hand in his and never let go.”

The head wizard looked at his wife and smiled.

“If he has to work twice as hard as I did to get you he will working long indeed, but the riches of the reward are incalculable and immeasurable. You have enriched my life.”

The head witch smiled back at her husband.

“We are both luckier than could be imagined. Now he must continue to walk his path and we must do what we can to help them remember that magic is not dead. For the moment they will continue to be two liars who pretend they don’t need the other, but the time will come when they are together during night and day.”


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Death’s Cold Embrace

Death smiled at me and I opened my arms and walked forward to embrace him. I was prepared to feel bony arms encircle me and waiting to feel the cold I was certain radiated from him.

I stared at eyeless sockets and moved forward, uncertain about what would happen or what I would do.

The screams of loved ones echoed in my ears but I ignored their pleas to wait because I was done waiting.

My inner clock had stopped ticking and the incessant buzzing of the alarm pushed me to keep going forward.

I was ready to pay the price for the knowledge I sought and if necessary willing to fight for it.

Across the field I marched watching and waiting to see if his expression or demeanor would change. Don’t know what I expected from an old bag of bones but nothing happened.

Midway through the march my legs grew heavy and it felt like I was walking through waist deep mud.

A flash of light flew through the sky followed by a tremendous boom and I was knocked off of my feet.

It took a moment to clear my head and realize I was lying on back but I didn’t open my eyes.

Instead I saw through my ears and hands.  It wasn’t because my eyes wouldn’t open or didn’t work but because I knew that if I really wanted to know things I needed to rely upon more than just what my eyes were sharing with me.

It was time to rely upon my gut and intuition. Time to find tune out the noise and focus.

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Footsteps In The Dark

Time was wasting away and it wouldn’t be long before she would return.  It was time to start the preparations.

He began by going to the nightstand and pulled out the gun that lay inside. He was feeling saucy so this time around he thought he we would leave it there, disabled of course.

The thought of the look on her face when she realized it wasn’t working made him dance with glee.

He took out the tape, the rope and a couple of toys and waited where he knew she wouldn’t look. He would give her time to get in the shower and he if she fought she would have time to get her gun.

But there were other preparations to make, things to do so she couldn’t call for her help or run outside.

The chimes from the clock in the hallway made him look up– five more minutes and play time would begin.


It had all started with a simple IP address.  People didn’t realize how much information they shared online, the digital footprints that they left were like breadcrumbs in the forest.

And if you followed those breadcrumbs it led you to all sorts of interesting places.

Sometimes people opened the door and walked into rooms they would have preferred not to enter. Sometimes they discovered that the monsters under the bed walked didn’t always hide during the day and that they looked like normal people.

The last few had been like that. They had never expected that the person they were trying to help was the last person who needed or wanted it.

The look on their face when they realized how wrong they were never ceased to make him smile.

They’d look up at his face, eyes wide in shock and wonder why their bodies weren’t responding and as the confusion set in awareness came with it.

He was the guy that had been at the office repairing the copier or refilling the coffee order. She had been the lady who borrowed their cellphone because she needed to call a tow truck or get her husband to come pick her up.

It wasn’t just one monster, it was two but none of that really mattered because one was just as deadly and remorseless as the other. Halloween was coming soon but they didn’t wear the sort of masks you’d find in a store because those are never as scary as the ones you wear each day.

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WouId I Fight For You?

He didn’t know what made him think of the conversation nor was he really sure about whether it took place in a dream or really happened.

But he didn’t really care if it had or not because when he replayed it in his head it was the same.

She made a comment about wanting to know if he would fight for her and if he understood what that entailed. Although he couldn’t see his face he was sure it was filled with a mix of incredulity and concern.

“Would I fight for you? Why wouldn’t I?”

On a soul to soul level he was confident she knew exactly what he meant and recognized the sincerity and promise in those words but in person was different.

“We are inextricably connected. Those were your words first, not mine but I have come to understand them. When you find the person that fills the empty spaces inside you and who isn’t even aware they do it you don’t just walk away or let go. You fight to hold on even when they tell you that you are an idiot and it makes no sense.

You move mountains to be close because you understand timing and circumstances don’t present opportunities that stay open forever but at the same time they show up again with some people because there are other things at play. It is like a wheel that spins and when the dark side of the moon is facing you it won’t work and you shiver while you wait for it to move.

But eventually the dark side moves and there is a moment again when you are bathed in both sun and moonlight. When that comes it doesn’t matter how much time has elapsed because you will always recognize that other person and feel the connection. These things operate at a deeper level and if you ignore that you risk missing out.

It might sound like a bunch of gibberish and new age nonsense but our experience bears out that it is not so.

Would I fight for you?

I never stopped. Not then and not now.

The dark side of the moon doesn’t last forever. Darkness will lift again.”

He smiled at her and walked away as he reached the door he heard her ask where he was going.

“I have to take care of some things but you know how to reach me. I am always here. One day you won’t have to call.”

He had surrendered control now all he had to do was walk out into the sunshine and live while he waited for the time to come. It wasn’t easy to surrender but it was part of the fight.

There was a paradox there between fighting and surrender but he decided to save figuring it out for a different day.

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God Only Knows

She told me she liked the original better and asked me why I chose this particular song to share with her.

I tell her to stop being a woman and her eyes narrow.

“What the hell does that mean.”

It is more of an accusation than a question. She wants to know if I am baiting and or insulting her but I don’t say anything. It is not because I am speechless or trying to start anything either.

I haven’t decided if I feel like tearing into this now. When I put the songs on I had no ulterior motive, I just wanted to share these two versions with her.

We both love music.

It is supposed to be fun but like many things this moment of fun comes with strings attached.

She puts a hand on my chest and pushes against it. She wants an answer and my silence isn’t making her more comfortable.

I get it.

There is an energy we share. It is electric and it has always been there. Sometimes that electricity is a flame that warms our hearts and feeds the fire that we share and sometimes it feels like it is consuming us.

She is not feeling the warm and cozy side now.

“If I tell you that you are over analyzing this and it is just something I thought you’d like you’ll think I am lying. You’ll listen to the lyrics and wonder if I am trying to send you a message. You’ll ask yourself if this is me trying to be clever but I don’t know where you’ll take that.

Maybe you’ll come up with another dumb list of reasons why you don’t think this works. Or maybe you’ll admit you don’t really want me to go away but you won’t say anything because you think I need to pursue you. You’ll want me to come after you to reassure yourself that I am not going anywhere.

Or maybe it is none of those things I am just really fucking angry so you ought to tread carefully around me.”

She doesn’t take a moment to weigh her words or consider her thoughts. She blasts me and tells me I have no reason to be angry with her because she has been straight with me.

I tell her she hasn’t been straight with me or with herself and she is acting like a fucking idiot. For a moment there is silence because I rarely speak that way to her and she doesn’t quite know how to respond.

“If I put my hand on your chest and pushed against you I’d be told to stop. You’d say we can’t do that now, it is too aggressive and give me some stupid fucking reason why you are not going to sleep with me now.

But you don’t see the double fucking standard that women seem to ignore. The one where you think it is ok to lay your hands upon me and I am supposed to just let it happen.”

She yells at me and tells me why she thinks I am acting like an idiot.

I feel like she has challenged me and start walking forward. She moves backwards and now her back is against the wall and my face is inches from hers.

“I am not afraid of you. Big tough man going to push me up against the wall.”

“I didn’t push you. I didn’t touch you. You moved of your own volition. Not because I did anything.”

There is a moment of silence and I am not sure where this is going. We are both heated. I put my hand on the wall.

“What is that supposed to mean. You going to keep me pinned here. You going to show us how tough you are by making me do what you want.”

I am silent for a moment and she takes that as an excuse to keep going.

“C’mon tough guy, make up your mind.”

I tell her to turn around and face the wall and she does.

Cops would recognize this position. Suspect facing the wall, palms flat against it, legs slightly spread, except most suspects aren’t in sun dresses.

Is she trying to goad me into taking her or is this something far different.

God only knows.

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Orpheus and Odysseus

There was a time when a man wondered what would happened had Orpheus and Odysseus had been able to team up and work together. He wondered if they would have made a dynamic duo that could have figured out better and more effective solutions to their respective challenges.

A combination of wit and strength that would have developed smarter approaches because together they were more powerful than separate.

Both would have understood responsibility and obligation and the need to do what is required.

Perhaps they would have understood the kind of anger that can burn inside and how sometimes it pushes you to the point where you say ‘fuck it’ and do whatever you are going to do because you just don’t give a fuck any more whether you make Sherman’s burning of Atlanta look like amateur hour,

Because you are tired of stupid people, stupid crap and ridiculous obstacles that prevent you from doing what needs to be done. So when you reach that place you put your head down and horns out. Anyone with a lick of sense will leave you be but those who do accept the risk willingly and knowing full well the reception they receive may not be to their liking.

There is a certain amount of relief and joy that comes with lighting the torches, grabbing the sword and salting the earth. Let the thunder roll.

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Odysseus set sail one day not knowing with any certainty how long it would take for him to return. Left his home to honor the pledge he had made not knowing if the war he went to fight in would take his life or leave him standing.

But he left because he knew he must and placed his faith in his ability to figure out how to overcome the challenges that were to come.

Days passed into months and months into years and finally he found himself heading home.  Uncertain of what he would find but glad to be whole he disguised himself.

When he arrived home he had to work to prove to his wife that after all the years away it was really him that had come home. For a time she disputes his claim and pushes him away but eventually recognizes that it is indeed him and life starts anew.

Sometimes I wonder about how much truth is rooted in mythology and how much myth is rooted in truth.

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Fire In The Evening

“And if the night is burning
I will cover my eyes
For if the dark returns then
My brothers will die
And as the sky’s falling down
It crashed into this lonely town
And with that shadow upon the ground
I hear my people screaming out

Now I see fire, inside the mountain
I see fire, burning the trees
I see fire, hollowing souls
I see fire, blood in the breeze

I see fire, oh you know I saw a city burning (fire)
I see fire, feel the heat upon my skin (fire)
And I see fire (fire)
And I see fire burn auburn on the mountain side”
“I See Fire- Ed Sheeran

We knew of the dragon that lived inside the mountains but we didn’t fear him because when you are young you are invincible.

The young don’t fear to waken the dragon because they have lived long enough to have overcome adversity and to have handled the challenges that have been presented before them.

Youthful naivete doesn’t help them recognize that some beasts are greater than others. Some are bigger, bolder and stronger and worthy of caution.

We ignored the warnings, didn’t heed the call of those who might have made us slow down and walk more carefully than we did. Instead we announced our intentions and headed straight for the thing that should have made us trimble. We should have recognized that some beasts are no different from the twisters that rage through Oklahoma.

Part of the problem was we felt like we had taken the necessary precautions to identify the dangers. We had consulted with Clark and heard nothing that made us truly worry because we overestimated our ability

Perhaps you can add some blame to the thrill of an adventure too. The chance to chase the forbidden fruit helped encourage taking a chance and so we set off.

With nary a glance behind nor concern about the visitors we would meet along the way we stepped out the door and headed for the mountains. And now countless hours later we stare at the fire that burns and recognize that some flames aren’t quenched in the traditional manner.

There is a certain beauty and majesty in the flames that can be felt from great distances. In our eagerness to experience it all we moved closer and stepped inside rings of flame and wondered if we had discovered something never seen before.

That was because the flames did not consume us. Instead of bursting into little flesh balls of kindling we danced inside and were amazed by the heat and the light that radiated from the flames.

Yet none of these things mattered to the dragon. It had no fear and no remorse.

It looked for the creatures that had stirred it from its slumbers and set upon them.


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