An Open Letter to President Trump

To President Trump,


My name is Brandon Tyler King and I’m a 23 year old college student that lives in Yukon, Oklahoma. I sit at my desk writing this letter battling every single urge to stop writing what I believe. Truth be told, I’ve written and rewritten this letter to you multiple times without the courage to back up the meanings behind it.

However, the time for doubt has passed.

So here I am on attempt five writing this letter in hopes that it reaches your desk and, in some capacity or another, you read and listen to what I have to say.

This all stemmed from your Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders when she decided to read a letter from a 9 year old child nicknamed Pickles to fill the time of the press meeting. I felt as though that it was pretty genius of an attempt to appeal to the children of the nation riding on the opinions of their parents. Truth be told, it might have worked better if your entire office wasn’t surrounded by scandals. But you inspired me, Mr. President. If Pickles might have some time for you, perhaps so can I.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, I am not here to tell you about all the things you’ve done wrong. I’m not here to ridicule, mock or shout in anger about the things that your administration has done.

That being said, I’m not here to congratulate and celebrate either.

Something that I learned a while ago was that to love something, you should be able to criticize and question it. I’m here as a regular commoner to a notably accomplished man to express my regards to the country that I love so much.


Being 23 years old, I realize that my words might not be held with the same weight of a more experienced adult. That’s fine by me. In all honesty, it just means that every word, every sentence will have to mean something. No matter what happens when all is done, I will be heard.

I learned early in my childhood that the lessons of history are things that need to be learned. What’s the point in recreating the same mistakes that people before us did? One thing that only few leaders in our history have ever come to realize is that the government is only as strong as the people that it governs.

Living in this country my entire life, I have seen some of the brighter days and I have seen the faces of terror that makes Americans shiver even now. Never once have I been disappointed in my country until the beginnings of the campaign season in 2016. Now, allow me to express that the entire fault doesn’t fall on you. People on both sides of the aisle are to blame for it all. Let me explain that each of you on Capitol Hill have forgotten the people in which you represent.

During the campaign, I grew to be hateful of the choices that the American people to choose from. You, Clinton, Cruz, it didn’t matter. It was all different shades of shady connection. To your credit, I can understand why the American people elected you over your opponent. The citizens have become so desperate for change from the bureaucracy of government that they were willing to turn anywhere instead of the circle that we’d been driving in since memory could remember. You threw the people’s flag on your shoulders and claimed to be the straight-shooting, deal-making leader from the pack instead from the elite.

Perhaps you still think of yourself in this way. That’s the funny thing about looking at yourself in the mirror: we often see the person that we believe ourselves to be instead of what the truth is.

Over the 191 days that you’ve been in office, along with the campaign season, you’ve accomplished something that maybe you’ve always wanted. You have our attention but I’m not convinced that this is the best thing.

To start, let’s travel back to the campaign and go to now. Something that I’ve noticed is that you often revel in those days even as you’re in office. There’s no denying that you and your team have an uncanny ability to control the eyes of the media. It’s how you created this craze for yourself that worries me for this country.

We’ve been so dependent on drama. Without it, it fades into the back pages of anything newsworthy. It goes to an element of narcissism in government that any news must be good news. This mindset is paired with the idea that the will of the people only lives on one of the political aisle. Whether you sport a red R or a blue D, you must admit that this is cancerous.

One thing that the American people can rely on is the consistent media coverage of your administration. The dishonest media that you’ve decided to make the public enemy of the people is something that I don’t believe that the government has anticipated. If anyone on Capital Hill were to take a close look at the document that our entire civilization has held as gospel, perhaps they could learn something.

To quote Thomas Jefferson and our forefathers,

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” -First Amendment 

To make an enemy of the media is to make an enemy of the people.

I can understand your frustrations of what people often refer to as the liberal media. It’s the same problem that many of us face on a regular basis. Who are we to trust with our news? Even then, will it be skewed in some way? I’ve taken the approach of reading and watching every news station to decipher what the real news might be. Inevitably, humans are biased and it often comes down to personal belief every now and then. But you refer to the media as fake news and dishonest media even during times of honest journalism.

I find it odd that only now is it called “fake news” when the spotlight is on you. Maybe you could have wished to have the same spotlight on President Obama’s birth certificate or Mrs. Clinton’s emails.

But I digress.

It’s as though each half of the government has a large paintbrush. While one side paints the canvas white, the other will color it black. Each side will claim to have the answer and argue when the other disagrees. What they cannot seem to understand that the answers lie in the drips of grey paint that drip to the floor of Congress. Life was never made by the blacks and whites but by the muddy, unclear aspects of grey.

The problems of the United States goes further than your office. It’s been an issue that’s been riding on the shoulders of those who live in this nation. Partisan politics will be the death of democracy. By the time we realize that all of our problems could have been solved by listening to the other side and finding a compromise, it might be too late.

Mr. Trump, you have the opportunity to start this change. Will you take the chance?

The State of President Trump

The American people elected an outsider to clean up the swamp of government and to right the wrongs done by previous administrations. There is no doubt that each presidency has had its faults. Then again, when has there ever been a flawless presidency? People strove for change and change is what they received.

It’s not until the times that we live in that I think people are beginning to see what we have done.

Allow me to explain, Mr. Trump.

Whenever I was a child, I constantly was bullied at school. Being called names and forced to do things that I wasn’t comfortable with was just part of my upbringing. My mouth shut remained shut through all of it, including to my parents, because I had felt that this was just how things were meant to be. It wouldn’t be until I grew out of my shell and educate myself that I realized that what was going on was wrong on all accounts.

This is no exception.

I think what was unsettling about watching your administration drive their way to victory through the elections was how eerily similar it was to my childhood. Calling your opponents childish games, saying radical things to gain attention and demoralizing anyone you disrespected…I knew that face all too well.

I’m not angry with you, Mr. Trump. How can I be angered by a man who is a product of the environment of the world that he grew up in? Born with a platinum spoon in your mouth a small inheritance of 14 million dollars, I understand where you were raised from. The needs of the every-man can seem foreign to you.

Something that I vowed to do is to speak the truth and I will when I tell you that there are plenty of members in my family that voted for you. No, I don’t think any less or more of them for it. However, either side has expressed that they aren’t being heard at all anyway. The only difference is that I’ve heard you loud and clear.

  • Calling Mexicans rapists and criminals
  • Making fun of a disabled reporter
  • Saying John McCain isn’t a war hero because he was a POW
  • Discrediting a Muslim American solider and his family
  • Calling on Russia to hack Hillary’s emails
  • Banning Muslims with a legalized travel ban
  • Criminalizing the press
  • Accusing Megyn Kelly of menstruating
  • Lying about crowd size of your inauguration.
  • Lying about meeting with Russians
  • Banning transsexual soldiers from serving in the military
  • Attempting to repeal the A.C.A without a reliable replacement

Does that sound about right?

I understand that I briefly went over some of the blemishes on your record but, don’t worry, it’s done now. I promised that earlier and I’m nothing but a man of my own word.

I could go into the logistics of your decisions and tell you how each of these moments during your presidential limelight were wrong. I could but what would be the point? Each media outlet, aside from what you subscribe to, has done this to death. What it comes down to is the American people and your willingness to look past yourself and realize that we ride on your decisions. Like it or not, you are the Commander-In-Chief. I respect only the office that you represent and that is far as my allegiance will go.

Society works by each member taking a step towards the future. Your administration, despite what the American people have protested, has taken steps back into the past. It’s not that I don’t understand why it’s happening. There’s not a doubt in my mind that you spent half your life doing what every single one of us have done and complain about the government and  talked about what we would do if we were in that position. The difference between you and I is that you went into the belly of the beast only to realize that you might be more destructive than the beast itself.

Mr. Trump, in the 1980’s and 90’s you were the undisputed king of New York and there wasn’t a person alive that didn’t respect you as a successful businessman. Your ego and your aspirations wouldn’t allow you to stop and you took a swing at the presidency. With the same tactics that you used to become successful in the first place, you made your way to the office.

Yet, you must be wondering why the people resent you so much.

Must it be the dishonest media? Could it be leakers that poke holes in your sinking ship? Possibly…but there is one person that you haven’t looked for: You.

And So We Rise 

You ran on the campaign promise to Make America Great Again and I believe, in some way, you will. However, I don’t think it will be with you at the helm.

The American people wanted someone who spoke their mind and I cannot say that I blame them. What they ended up electing was a man that was a product of a time long passed. To think, back in the 1950’s, you might have passed as a president to be looked back at with the fondness that only history can provide.

Unfortunately, we’re in the thick of it all. I can understand that you’re most likely feeling the pressures of the world that you didn’t quite understand surrounding you. In all fairness, most employees think about their current employer the same way. The way that says that, if only they could get there, they could do it better than he or she ever could.

Where it all comes down to is that the people of the government and you, Mr. President, have been out of touch with reality long enough that most motions in government lack any logical sense to the rest of us.

I won’t ask you to change who you are and I won’t plead with you to act more presidential. All I ask that you remind yourself that you represent the rest of us. Every time you do anything, ask yourself if this is the best interest of the people. If the answer is anything but an absolute yes, then reconsider.

The last thing I ask of you is to respect the people of the world. Just because it doesn’t align with everything you think, that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Be open to criticism and be our leader for the people; not the leader for yourself.

By any chance that you decide to neglect what I have said or asked of you, I can understand. There are people that will never be okay with constructive criticism and that aligns with the tolerance that great people such Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Abigail Adams have always held throughout history. If this is the case and we’ve hit that point then may I propose one more option.

Resign the office of Presidency and allow someone who will act on behalf of the American people in their best interest.

Understand, Mr. Trump, that this nation is one of the most resilient places on Earth. Since our founding, we have trudged through the thick of hell and come out to live on the other side. We have risen and moved forward with each step in history. This is a concept that I would hope that you and the rest of the people are wanting to go to. I understand that the future can be a terrifying thing to embrace but progress was never easy. Remember that the American people will always rise to the occasion when it comes to it.

We rose in the American Revolution.

We rose in building a nation from nothing.

We rose in the Civil War and defeated slavery.

We rose from multiple deaths in office.

We rose by the means of many Civil Rights Movements.

We rose through the corruption of President Nixon and Watergate.

We rose through each war we’ve ever fought.

Mr. Trump, so too shall we rise above this.


Thank you for your time and God bless the United States of America,

Brandon King

Lessons for an Unlearned Man

If you knew that you were about to experience something that would change your life, would you act any differently?

I’ve had this thought weighing in my mind all day and it’s one of those things that never leaves you until you deal with it. So here I am, at 9 p.m. with a fresh cup of coffee and the will to write.

It’s funny…even as I sit here thinking about what to write, I can hear my professor’s voice in my head. “Don’t try to impress people with how you think they’d want to hear it,” he said. “Quit sounding like you swallowed a dictionary and write how you speak. The rest will come to you. You have a voice, I promise.”

So here goes everything I have, sir.

There’s this need to want to start this out by saying that one of the things that I can’t stand at all is the unnecessary need for cliches. It’s as though we use them so that people can easier understand what we’re trying to say. That being said, I don’t think we need them.

Cliches are bullshit. Plain as vanilla.

No, I won’t go as far as to say that, “Oh, you learn something new every day, eh?” Hell, if you’ve chosen to read my work, I refuse to do that to you. It’s not right for either one of us, really.

However, I need to make something clear. Although this is going to sound selfish, I must say this so that we’re all on the same path.

I never write for anyone other than myself. I’ve had it in the past which someone asks me to write them a story of some sort and, in the end, it’s garbage. There is a difference being inspired and telling someone telling you what to do.

That’s what separates monkeys from magicians.

Back to the main point. If you knew that something was going to happen, would you change anything? Would you brace yourself for what was to come? Perhaps anxiety would kick in, making you feel as though dread were driving your thoughts all along?

Or would you let it be?

That’s something that always makes me smirk. “Well damn, if i would’ve known about that, I could’ve done something different.” Sound familiar? Don’t feel too much self-pity; we all  have said this every now and again. But why?

Why do we just assume that things would be better if we knew what the hell was coming down the pipe at all times? So we can counteract it with something we might think would be better off?

You see, for every tragedy we avoid, we possibly avoid a miracle.

That’s my motto.

There’s something about these life moments that define us all if we just take a second and let it soak in. The problem with age is that our minds get too full of wasteful nonsense that doesn’t matter.

Maybe the idea behind life is to take all that comes your way and decipher what is shit and what is sacred.

You might be wondering one of two things at this point: What’s up with the title of this piece? When are we going to get the message you’re trying to say?

If you’d be patient, I’ll promise you the moon and the man inside. The issue with people, most of the time, is that they’re too impatient to get what they came for. Not my own idea, just something I picked up along the way.

I’m 23 years old at the time of this post and I have much to learn. That sentence was probably the most burdening thing I’ve written all day; however, so, so true.

But why I’ve had this thought of change came about while I going through some old writing pieces of mine. I must admit, I sound like such a pretentious ass. Regardless, it brought me back to moments that I hadn’t thought of in years. Which, oddly enough, brought about an idea that I don’t think we understand until it’s too late.

The idea that everything I am, everything I’ve chosen to be, is because of these people. I cannot and will not list all the names who have had minor impacts. Frankly, I don’t have the time nor the patience for it all.

As you read this, I hope, my fellow reader, that maybe you will think of the people in your life. Have they helped you understand life more? Have they shown you something that you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise? For your sake, I hope so.

Allow me, if you would.

Mom, Dad and my brother Austin: There isn’t enough data storage on this WordPress blog for me to fully show my appreciation for you all. It’s not often that a man can find himself in a home that, no matter what has happened, he feels welcome. From my time of being the definition of an introvert to the person who can’t keep his mouth shut, you’ve always been there. To teach me to be educated in anything I believe in, to show me that love in all people exist, to prove to me that you must stand for what you believe…all this and more than what time may tell, I thank you. There isn’t a day on Earth that I won’t think of you 3 and thank God that I have you all.

It would be easy to just amount all the efforts to luck or just experience but we all grew up together. Right or wrong, we dealt with what the world had as one. You showed me what courage was in the face of adversity. You pushed me to become the man that sits at this keyboard and types what lies behind his heart.

Without you all, I am nothing.

Haleigh: I know what you’re probably thinking by now. “I can’t believe he tagged me in this,” right? Well, get seated sunshine. This one’s for you. You’re my everything, through and through. From the moment we met to the minutes we are apart, you’ve taught me that there is no type of hope like the hope of someone you love to live for. Love is one of those sadistic, sweet things that one can only hope to experience in life. It will make you want to write something that Shakespeare would be impressed by while, in the very next moment, make you wonder if you’re no more than two steps to the psych ward. You’ve shown me what it’s like to love someone more than I ever could have loved myself. Truly babe, you’re what poets and playwrights prayed for.

All the times I spend day-dreaming, I think of you. You know as well as I that I dream far more than what a regular man should. There just hasn’t been a person who I am more open, more humble, and simply better because I’m around them. I try to avoid cliches while I’m with you but even as I type this, I can’t help but fall. I guess that’s due to the fact that love-lit writers like myself have gotten to it first. What they cannot take away is the way you make me live for just another day with you. For that, I love you always.

My family: This one is much like jamming your hand into a bag of trail mix. Most of it is tasty until you hit a cashew or two. You know what I mean, I hope. My family, all together, are the ones that make you believe in love and hate. They allow you to see the difference between acceptance and tolerance. I love them all for showing me that it’s natural to coexist with points that either make you think or make you think about throwing them out of a window. Either way, at least you learned. Or, at least, I hope you did.

Karen Workun: The summer of 2010 was one of the roughest periods my life has ever encountered. My Dad was thrown off a golf cart into a dry, concrete ravine 10 feet deep. He was in a come for a week and a half. The doctors had no hesitation in telling us that it would be unlikely that he would make it. Even if he did, there would be no telling that his brain functionality would be the same. Fast forward 7 years today and I wished him a happy 46th birthday over the phone. Going back to that time, I remember my Mom wrote on a letter to my teachers that I had experienced this so that I might be a bit spacious in class. What I didn’t have the courage to tell her was that my spacious nature had nothing to do with that summer. Either way, my junior year was the first time that a teacher changed my life.

First period AP English with Mrs. Workun.

Karen, I’ve expressed probably more than I should how much you’ve impacted my life but there is part of me that will never stop thanking you. Before that time, there was no sense of direction. Hell, the best thing I could have hoped for was to be a failed writer. Before that class, I tried not to show my writing with anyone other than those that I trusted would keep it a secret. You showed me that it was acceptable to be humble and that you should be proud to be intelligent. Regular documentary showings after school coupled by allowing people to form their own opinions of the world…it was inspiring. More to the point, you were the first teacher to tell me that my writing was worth something. You told me to keep writing and to never stop. In a way, I’ve held to that.

Mandee Chapman-Roach: Where would I be without the teachings of this wonderful woman? Probably off wondering a library somewhere hoping I had a sense of direction. Right after Mrs. Workun, I had the fortune to bounce to another great English teacher. In this AP class, I won’t lie, there were times that I wanted to rip my hair out and how it to the gods who clearly cursed me. Not for the sake of Mrs. Chapro, however. Mandee, you were one of the only teachers to challenge my ideas and show me that not all my ideas are golden. You trained all of us in my class that, to live in this world, we must think for ourselves. It’s only by the ways of groupthink that we find ourselves in trouble.

Moreover, you were always the one who wanted people who never spoke to be themselves. You taught us that the world should never be painted with such a broad brushstroke of black and white. It’s only in the grey of it all that we may find some answer. You treated our class on  college level and it made all the difference in the world. There was something about treating us like the adults that were to become that made us feel safe around you. In other words, you were more than a teacher. You were our shield against a world well-weathered. You showed us that it’s okay to go against the status-quo and to be yourself. Thank you from all of us, truly.

Professor Scott Carter: My last spot on this page belongs to my latest inspiration. I’ll never forget walking to the back room of OCCC and sitting in this new classroom full of Mac desktops. The class was called “Intro to Journalism” or something like that. I had been contemplating switching majors for my third time but, as it happens, I didn’t know where to turn to. I knew that one of the only talents I had was that I could write better than some and read more than most my age. It was in the back of the class that I saw a man walk to the front of the class in a button-down and slacks. He walked across the room like a king among subjects. The man owned the room and, by god, he knew it. It wasn’t even that he demanded it. He earned it with every word spoken. From the moment I walked in to the minute I left, I was inspired. It was after one of my projects for the class that I saw a red marked paper that said, “Come see me.” I gulped. That was never good.

Except for this one.

We talked for only a minute but he told me something so simple yet it was only by those that I care for that tell me. “I believe in you.” Those words carried me further than any could have hoped for. Since then, I’ve gladly worked for the Pioneer under his supervision. Scott, I can’t thank you enough for continuing to teach me things about myself that I never thought possible. For the first time in my life, you gave me a purpose to pursue an actual career that I wanted more than anything. You’ve taught me that, though I’m learning now, I suck at obscure history. Ladies and gents, that quote about swallowing a dictionary? Yep, you guessed where that came from. Moreover, you’re the first person to give my work some constructive criticism and allow me to improve upon it. You continue to inspire me and I hope that one day you can see my work and know that you had a hand and a half in doing what was made. For this and whatever is to come, thank you sir.

I guess that’s the issue with people: they expect a lesson to come with an announcement. Like there’s some PA system in the sky telling you to shut your mouth and to listen. Until God makes a better sound system, my suggestion would be to listen to everyone and speak less.

Everyone has a lesson to teach someone. It’s up to you whether or not you listen.

Until next time,

Brandon King

Writer’s Block: Chapter 7

Chapter 7

Walking along the ferns that sat on the wayside of the lonely asphalt road waltzed a chipper man in the prime of his life. His swayed hair had a sheen to it but nothing that could compare to the teeth-filled grin that rose like the sun with each step. The sun was poking through tiny spots that the surrounding elms would allow. If it wasn’t the sounds of the robins chirping in the bird houses, it was the sounds of boat crashing through the tides that called my name with each swish of the wind. It was heaven on Earth. To hell with Eden, this was mine. Say what you will, at least mine didn’t have some fruit that no one was supposed to go near.

I could hear the patter of his bare feet as he avoided the shreds of pine cones that had been scattered across the street. A small curse could be heard whenever his foot finally found one near the gate. We had made consistent eye contact the whole time. But I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that it was almost out of disbelief of the things that he had seen. In all fairness to the man, I hadn’t seen him, or anyone come to think of it, for a little over a year and a half. A half-assed excuse here and a pure ignoring there, time passed as it passes all: faster as the ages go by. The iron-gate creaked open and the man in the thin blue and black t-shirt and wrinkled cargo shorts stopped in the tracks of my car. “Get in you crazy son of a bitch! Don’t think I won’t run you over!” I yelled at him. He hobbled to the passenger door and opened it. I had just enough time to realize what he was about to find. There was nothing I could do. To my surprise, he smirked at this.

“So…are these for the rest of the class?”

“Yeah man, of course. What? You think I could drink all of that on my own? My skinny ass would be drowning before I could hit the thought of alcohol poisoning.” I laughed nervously. He didn’t seem to catch it as he passed into his lap as he plopped into the seat. He looked around at the interior of the car as I pulled forward before the gate could close.

“Well, well, well,” he said surprised. “Looks like little Charlie’s doin’ alright for himself. Last time I saw you, you were driving that red…um. You know what I’m talking about.”

“The red Ford Taurus with the broken AC and the hanging right side mirror. Oh yeah, I remember her.”

He belted an excited laugh. “My God, how long did it take you by the time I left before you finally put her down like the Old Yeller she was?” He had left in the summer of ’14. It was one of the hardest moments of my life to see him leave but there was not a chance in hell that I would, or could, ever let him see the cracks in my gilded smile. This time, however, it was realer than ever. He pointed to the left of the rose covered island that sat a weeping willow in full bloom. Bees tickled across the pedals and shot through the sky towards the rocky shore. I could hear the soft waves caress the rocks below just fifty feet away from me.

“I think it must’ve been about the second promotion whenever I finally gave her up for this young lady.” I stroked the wheel and pulled into the two car driveway of the third house on the right in the cul-de-sac that overlooked the eastern side of the lake. “But hey, not all of us could be big shot chefs. Tell you what, you only cooked if I ever asked you to cook anything. I almost feel cheated.” He looked at the solitary bag and then looked back at me.

“How long are you planning on staying? This doesn’t look like too much. Did you not pack enough?”

“Nah, I packed just the right amount. I’m staying as long as you and Mom and Dad are staying with Elie and Steve.”

“Geez, man, you’ve never been good at planning. We just made it a few days ago and we’ll be here til the end of the weekend. You can borrow one of my shirts but it might be bit big for you. It’ll be alright though, right?” I nodded. “Good. And hey, they’re all really looking forward to seeing you. I’ll try to protect you as much as I can from the bloodhounds while I cook for ya. Yeah, don’t give me that look. The minute they heard you were coming by, they sorta broke their promise to not have me cook and made me cook your favorite.”

“You’re kidding? Well, in that case, I’d like some mac n cheese with those ribs, please.” I smirked at him and we both snickered.

“Don’t push your luck, jackass. Just do me a favor, would ya?”

“Anything, pal.”

There was a still moment in the car between him and I. These moments were so real, so rare that I wanted to have each moment pass by like a page of a novel. “Don’t…don’t let it be another year or so until we see you again. I don’t say it a lot but…but I miss ya. They’re killing me with details about you. If I’d talked with you or any shit like that. And I know you’re working on your book and busy with work but c’mon, we’ll always be there for you. Promise?”

How could I have said no to that? I would have eventually but not now. Not here. “I promise. You ready?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be.” He grabbed the bottles of booze in each hand and I threw the duffel over my right shoulder and made my way to the screen door. A Margaritaville decoration of a drunken parrot hung on the doorway and it shook as we opened the door. The cool rush of the AC hit me as soon as I made my way through the threshold of my home away of home. It didn’t hit me as nearly as abruptly as the rushed embrace of two strong arms wrapping themselves around me with little hesitation. Before I knew it, my back was thrust to the edge of the narrow white entryway as my sweet Mother tightened her grip with boa strength. It made me laugh as I wretched my arms just enough out her grasp to hug her back.

The streams of tears were trickling down her reddening, tanned face. I kissed her on the cheek and hugged her again. There was no amount of clichéd sayings and small talk that could describe the love. She finally let go and gazed into my glossing eyes. “I’m so happy you’re here, honey…I couldn’t have prayed for a better thing to happen.” Her smile turned into a devilish grin as she smacked me in the arm. “And that’s for making me wait all this time to simply see my son! My own son!”

“Well, it’s good to know that the Jewish mother routine hasn’t flown out the window quite yet. I’m actually more shocked that you can carry that waxed cross of yours inside this house. Truly, it’s astounding.” Both laughing, we walked through the home. Everything was the same. The one man hallway to the left of the entryway that led to two bedrooms and the master bedroom. And to the right opened a living room, kitchen, and dining room set all to the colors of crème and baby blue. Antique oars hung across the bows of the door and the scent of sandalwood permeated throughout the home. The sliding glass door to the wooden patio was wide open so that the breeze came swimming to greet us. I didn’t know how I deserved such a beauty, but I must have died right then.

Mom hadn’t changed in the slightest. Well, aside from being a little more neurotic but I think that comes from years of dealing with a family such as ours. You know, the loud, way-too-opinionated sort? My type of people, nevertheless. She had a mad little giggle about her. It was giddy and her shoulders shrugged as she smiled unabashedly. She had been stern, but she was one of the kindest people I had ever come to know. You could tell by just looking at her smile. She just gave you that sense that the world could never give truthfully: that everything was going to be alright in the end.

“Oh Charlie, there’s so much to tell. Shit, I don’t even know where to begin on any of it. Um…” My mom had always been one of those people that her mind was so sharp that it was easy for the stream of consciousness to drip off the edge so that she wouldn’t remember where she was going with it.

“I usually like to start at the beginning. But, hey, I’m old fashioned like that.” Like I said, I really can’t help myself when it comes to being a natural born smart-ass.

“It’s good to see that you haven’t changed.” Her hair was still damp from the lake. You could smell the lake that clung to her. “I’m just happy that you were able to make it to the lake. Teddy told us that you weren’t going to be able to because of work. I thought it was a little ridiculous, what with it being Labor Day and all.” Here’s where I need to come clean. In the history of mankind and all of its’ infinite stories to tell, I cannot tell a wrong one. I am, by far, the world’s worst at lying to anyone. I can’t tell if it’s the blood that rushes to my ears and cheeks or the rapid breaths that pump my chest like an old steam engine but they always tell the truth I wish wouldn’t be.

“Yeah, they were being the worst but I was able to…to pull a few strings. I got it taken care of.” I was glancing around the room the entire time I was spouting every speck of bullshit. She was a bloodhound and, now, she was catching a whiff.

“Well, that’s good, right? And what about school, huh? How’s school going?” I didn’t have the heart to tell her at the moment that I had absolutely begun to loathe my classes. They all had to do with computer programming and I was playing the war of attrition with the subject in hopes that I would learn to like it and make money in the process. That’s the name of the game in society, isn’t it? To get paid while slaving away in some sense of the word? I’ll admit, that was a touch of pure cynicism but I won’t take it back. It wasn’t that I was a technological caveman banging away at a keyboard senselessly; I was adequate but it was arbitrary. There was no way to properly answer her without sounding like a complete sellout and phony. I’m just thankful that I didn’t have to say a word. The loud crash of plates that hit the stainless steel gave Mom just enough time to jump in shock and curse at Teddy who had made it back from the car.

“Sorry, that really wasn’t my intention,” said Teddy. “But, hey, I always did like a good entrance. Ta-da?” He half-heartedly flung his hands out in a week jazz-hand maneuver. He had just grabbed an icy beer from the beat up blue cooler and was about to pop the top whenever Mom quickly snatched it out of his hand. There was a look of astonishment that came across his face but not as much whenever she popped it herself and began to drink. “Mom, what the hell? Get your own!” he said laughing.

“Hey, I gave birth to you. The least you can do is give me a drink. Plus, you’ve been drinking all day with Dad.”

“That’s exactly right, I have. And I fully plan to drink with Charlie. That’s called pacing. And no one likes a counter of beer. Don’t be a nark.” I snuck behind Mom and snatched the beer from her nimble fingers. I hopped over the leather sofa as she attempted to try and catch me. I remember, even then, I was impressed that there wasn’t a drip of a spill that came from that beer.

From the open patio door, I looked out and saw a trail of plastic shovels and kid’s books strewn together to lead out to the back porch. Laughter and the faint smell of discharged firecrackers in the late afternoon radiated into the inside. “Charlie, come on out here and see us! Lynn, quit hogging the boy! He’s mine too!” I could hear my Dad yell from the back. His voice had grown calmer over the years but it still had a commanding presence. It was something to admire. It was just something else to love about him. Mom made her way through the open doorway telling him how she had just wanted to be the first to see me. It always made me smile to see them happy like that. A sort of bliss that can only be found through the fortunes of a chanced fate. Teddy put his freezing hand on my shoulder and stood beside me as I stood still in the middle of the living room floor.

“Hey, thanks for that back there. I needed that.” I told him earnestly.

He took a sip of his new beer and exhaled deeply. “No sweat. You were dying out there. The least I could do was put you out of your misery.” We clinked cans and moved out into the sunlight with a chuckle on our breath and a longing for adventure yet to be tamed.

Writer’s Block: Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Every bump and every hum of the engine…I could feel everything. I was alive. The world was breathing into my undying nostrils and I felt it all. All the love, all the pain…it was surreal. It wasn’t to say that everything was fading into nothing; it was more of a shadow. I had been looking south when I needed to be facing north. It’s where it belonged, after all. But it’ll always hang behind me. Silent and lingering, it’ll forever be. What lesson to learn.

Cars and trucks stood still as I brushed past them. I’d stopped looking at the speedometer well before I had reached seventy-five. Fields of green with the sprouting trees of flowing leaves covered in the webs of the webworms blended together. With all four windows rolled down, I felt the rushing air pummel into my rising chest. The effort to catch my breath and take it all in was great at first. The thrill to revolutionize the mundane was something only I had dreamt of in passing. I could’ve been like my brother, Teddy, and stuck by my dreams. I could’ve trudged through all crashing waves of bullshit but that never appealed to me. Call it what you will, I’ll forever consider a lack of balls. Dreamers and homeless vagabonds alike share my quality. The difference between the two? The will to press on when all is lost.

It occurred to me to look down after a few moments just to see how fast I was going. A whopping ninety-six miles an hour. It was about time to set cruise control then. Stretching my legs, I looked out each opening to take it all in. Every time that I used to travel, it was always with a group of people or, hell, with my family for the most part. This…this was the catalyst to traveling alone. I could smell the sap of the elms in the distance and fumes of diesel from the caravan of trucking rigs ahead of me. Each car next to me all shared the same sort of people: people on a mission. There were those who had packed their car to the brim with all the things that they could carry. And there were those on the road to do a job that simply paid what bills they had. All mindless to the beauty before them. But who was I to judge? They had a purpose to be out there, regardless of the righteousness or fault in it all. Right then, the only goals I had was to hug my mom, talk with my dad, and laugh with my brother. Nothing else mattered in this whole god damn world. They were my world…they’ll always be.

I’d read novels all my life about people escaping the social norms of society to give a giant middle finger to the man. I was so excited to salute the one finger flag. I loved Kerouac and idolized Salinger for all they had done. However, I was going to take them up on their offer they had set so many years ago. The flatlands of Oklahoma sure knew how to set the pace of life. But I wanted to go places that every corner, every cranny was an unknown. It wasn’t for a while until I had gotten out of the city limits that the lands grew into rolling hills; polluted by navy blue signs trying to entice me to turn into them. “Come into Sapulpa!” one said. “Join us in Perry!” another had begged. I wish that just a few of them would just be real and say, “Welcome to Po-dunk, America. Offering you the same chained ideas and garbage food you’ve been roped into. Creativity is cremated on sight. Good luck to the rest and God bless.” Man that would have been something to see.

I was about forty miles out from Grand Lake whenever my car began to sputter. I pushed her a little forward into the gas station inside the dip of the ones of thousands of Oklahoman foothills. All the pumps were full of people shrugging around trying to get along their moseying way. I waited as my car slowly died behind this family of five to fill their dirty silver minivan. It was packed to the brim with assorted luggage and coolers. If you looked close enough, you could see a sack of fur moving back and forth frantically. An older bald man with a goatee was propped next to the gas station pump that had been filling the camel of a car since I had pulled in. I could barely hear the soft, yet firmness in his voice over the classic country that was statically playing over the overhead speakers.

“You’ve…too gone for…long. It’s too late…turn…now” It was some old Randy Travis song I hadn’t heard since Dad and I went down to a family country home. I began to hum along but not too loud.

He was chatting with the blonde-haired woman in the passenger seat that had her hair pulled into a tight ponytail that rested on her bare shoulders. She was wearing a thick tank top that said “Vacation = wine – job” and it matched the crudeness of the man’s shirt that had a bare-breasted woman with beer in each hand. That still makes me smile.

They were smiling between each saying, completely unaware of the world around them. Only interrupted by the three children as they came running from the gas station to the van. Each of them held a frozen smoothie and some sort of chips for the ride to wherever they were going. My phone buzzed for the first time since I had left the city and it was a picture from my Dad. All I saw a yacht of beautiful women clad in nothing but a stringy set of excuses for bikinis. Almost nothing left for the imagination to muster. The caption read, “Don’t tell your mother. But damn!” I had been staring at the picture long enough with a stupid smirk across my face that the car behind me honked its big truck horn. Instinctively, I glared back in disgust but realized that I was in the wrong. I pulled forward and started to fill my car. I wasn’t going to even begin making eye contact with the ones of million redneck jackasses with a jacked-up truck so I looked over at the minivan that had just pulled into one of the parking spots ahead.

They had all gotten out of the car and were playing in the small green area to the left of the gas station. The smells of overflowing trash in the heat of an unmoving summer and a still air could not keep their happiness from drowning. It only made me more excited to see everyone who was waiting on me up there. Out of the kids were two rambunctious boys and a quiet little girl that sat alone on the extended step of the van. The two boys, who looked identical at times whenever they tossed each other like rag dolls, were playing with the family dog. A beagle of white and brown spots ran between the boys. Back and forth, back and forth it ran with a gleaming yellow smile across its’ loving face. Those parents that rested their tired asses on the hood couldn’t be prouder and, oddly enough, neither could I. That was the wholesomeness that I could live for. A future worth holding onto with all that I could. That’s when it all turned.

The pump had stopped pouring gas long before the redneck in the too tight denim pants came rushing towards me. His sausage finger jabbed into my shoulder and it jolted me.

“Hey asshole, ya about done yet?  Got places to be, ya know?” I didn’t say a word for a minute. What was there to say besides “My bad”? I pulled the pump as quickly as I could but it didn’t seem to be fast enough for the denim man. It didn’t help that his old lady who was sitting in the cab kept bouncing up and down and shouting at her man to do something for once. His snarl was something that seemed all too familiar. I was trying to brush past him without so much as an eye twitch in his direction. “Thank you!” He spouted out sarcastically while throwing his hands in the air. He was turning back to his car whenever he spotted the bottles in my passenger side. “You’re just fuckin’ lucky I don’t call the cops on you! I bet you’re damn drunk right now, aren’t ya? Look, the world has enough problems without drunk guys like you.” I didn’t say a word as I made my way to the driver side door. “Hey, you retarded or just deaf?” I hadn’t bothered looking up until that moment. And that, kids, is how drama can be brought outside high school and out into the real world.

This is where the regret begins to set in. I hadn’t noticed the bald man approach my left side and put his hand on my shoulder. My whole arm tensed into a tight fist and he whispered, “Easy son, I got you.” It sounded so much like my father… I eased up and saw his calm features harden before the man in the truck. They spoke at one another which gave me some time to throw a shirt from my duffle bag over the bottles in the front seat. Whenever I popped back out of the car, the two men were in each other’s face yelling at each other. This random man…God, I’d love to meet him again. He was a champion of the misfortunate and I bet he barely even knew it. It’s instinct for people like that. I could only hope then that I’d have the same in it for me if the occasion ever came up.

“He’s a drunk! I know it! See, that’s how my daughter died was because of dickheads like you!” He was pointing to the white decal on the back of his truck. It was hard to read from the angle I was at but I had no doubt.

The bald man put his hand out and tried to calm the man down. If it wasn’t before, it was at this point that people were stopping and watching. A hiss, a word, and a flicker of violent disposition was all that it took. He was turning around until the haggardly woman in the cab yelled, “Harry, you hit him now!” Jesus…she had to egg him on, didn’t she? He turned on his heel and popped the man with a left hook across his chin. The man stumbled back for a moment and a gasp came across the parking lot. I braced myself against the side of my car and stood still. I could hear the claps of the flip flops of the wife go across the parking lot as she went towards her husband but it wasn’t necessary. Like the wrath of hell, the shine off the bald man’s head whipped close to the redneck and pinned him against the bug graveyard of a grill on the man’s truck. The yells muffled more and more with each knuckle that drove into the man’s face. I ran towards the man in full swing. Wrapping my scrawny arms against his heaving swing didn’t do much. It temporarily stopped him and he looked back at me with a grin. The shrieks of the woman in the cab didn’t seem to matter to him, nor anyone else. What the hell was she to the world? For that matter, what was I to him? I thanked him tirelessly as his wife had kissed him again and again, trying to drag him away.

“You’re fine. Now, what the hell was he talking about with the booze?” He was bounding around to the passenger side whenever I blocked him. He was just about to question me again when a child yelled from across the parking lot. Off with a dash, the family beagle was making its way across the parking lot and into the racing streets. The man, with a curse under his breath, took off in a hurry alongside his wife. The two boys tried to keep up but their tiny legs couldn’t muster the strength to push through the already gushing tears. The beagle had safely made its way across the street and was making its’ way through the overgrown brush of the overpass. The ruby red shine of the collar that hung from its’ neck was the last any of us saw of the runaway. While they were all distracted, I knew that I had to leave before the questions began to riddle my already shaking ship. I jumped into the car and launched myself to the back exit of the gas station. I can still hear the shouts from the shop keeper and the family whenever I think of it… I couldn’t bear it anymore.

The road for the next forty miles was a blur. Glazed over and over-bared, I pressed on and attempted, with almost certain fault, to rid them from my pulsing mind. By the time I was passing the quartz ridge over the west, I could smell the wafts of the lake water. On the cusp of the hill, the shimmers of the icy blue water were the heavenly fields of tomorrow and I was racing for time. I got off cruise control and raced down the country roads as I passed the sign that read, “Welcome to Monkey Island” going nearly one-hundred. I had almost forgotten to call Teddy before I had reached the gate. I was lucky that I had remembered because I was still halfway dressed for my old job. I pulled over and got into my bag and pulled out the first shirt that I saw. A faded Batman shirt with some well-fitted blue Levis and a pair of colored converse was the first thing they were going to see me as. It was the first; it was the only fashion I could see. It’s who I am even now. I checked my matted hair as I threw on an old newsboy cap and I called Teddy. After a few jokes here and there, I pulled my car around to the iron clad gate. I could see the single asphalt road that led to a multitude of identical lake houses and, above the gate was in bright white letters.

Shangri-La: Welcome Home.

Writer’s Block: Chapter 4

Chp 4

I think, for the first time in my life at that moment, I knew what the feeling of freedom was. It was the first breath of spring. It was the kiss of a long lost love. It…it was paradise in a skeptical life. There had always been a question that I was dying to answer and, on that fateful August morning, I answered it through and through. Whenever I rose from being forward, I met the bewildered looks of two men who, for the first time during this sentence, had no idea what the future had in its’ hands. It felt good to have that smirk spread across my face again. I couldn’t even remember the last time it genuinely sprung on me…it had to have been a time of a yesterday long ago. A time when I was in control and no one questioned. It was time again and I didn’t give a single damn who thought otherwise. Damn, that felt good back then when I didn’t know any better.

By this time, David and Christopher sat motionless in their chairs. They waited for the other shoe to fall and, what they couldn’t even begin to understand was that I had the whole shoe factory at my disposal. Instead of lurching forward, I finally rested my back on the back end of the chair and leaned back. Crossing my legs, I could feel the smug nature radiate off me.

“Charlie? You okay?” David questioned.

“Boss, I don’t think I’ve ever been better.”

“Okay…well, we need to get back to the discussion of what exactly happened yesterday. If you’ll-”

“Absolutely. I wouldn’t want to leave here without you both knowing what may have caused it all.” There was the old part of me that was screaming and pleading for this new…scary version of myself to come back. He had been asleep long enough. The change in the outlook of the Bulldog himself was probably the most satisfying of it all. To watch his superiority drain slowly from his face…it was mesmerizing. But it was only paired with a sense of righteousness. Finally, he could show his master the rabid dog who bit him what the fangs are made of. “Like I said, I could tell you all the sob stories in my world in hopes to sway your minds to save my job. But, correct me if I’m wrong, at least half of you have made up your minds. And, really, there’s no sense in trying to change the tides that be.” Their faces remained stoic and unchanging. “Anyways,” I continued. “what happened yesterday could be considered a…a fluke. A fluke but not accidental when it finally happened.”

“I’ve been waitin’ for you to say that.” Christopher said. “It’s like I know what I’m talking about.” He adjusted his cast back onto the arm rest from excitement.

I could feel my heart pounding their savage beats. Harder and harder, they rang through my ears all the way down to my reviving soul. It was time. Now and forever, it’s time. “Hey Chris?”

“Excuse me, it’s Christopher.” His finality had some spit behind the end of it. It was his final attempt to stop this freight train from running him over. Maybe if he didn’t hear himself bark so much, maybe he would’ve heard the whistle.

“It’s Chris to me. I’m sorry that you have to relegate yourself to such a pretentious name like ‘Christopher’.” Through my finger quotes, I could see the throbbing of his straining neck. I was getting to him and it only fueled my fire. “With that, I’d appreciate it if you kindly pipe it the fuck down. Man, that’s something I’ve been wantin’ to say for a while. It felt good.”

I could hear the stammering of David from behind the desk. I could see him mentally shuffling to find which side was the ethically righteous and, more importantly to him, which side would win. I heard the chair from the lobby of the office be empty as the receptionist made her way to the door that was cracked open. With a swift back kick, I kicked the door shut in her face. It automatically locked from the inside and I could hear her jiggle the handle. Gently at first and then more rushed as it followed taps on the door.

“Sir, is everything alright in there?” she said panicked.

“Yes ma’am, it is. I’ll call you if I need anything…we-we got this.” David said. I could sense the unpredictability in my eyes and I was intoxicated by it all. “Charlie…if you don’t calm this down, then we’re gonna have to resort to what I don’t want. Please-please don’t make me do this.”

“David, don’t try to reason with him. We just need to do this and get it over with. He’s not listening to reason.”

Scoffing, I added, “If I remember correctly, you all kept trying to give me opportunities to explain myself and I was continuously interrupted by this injured jackass. So, if you’ll indulge me, I’d love to tell my story.”

“Boy, you will. Not. Talk. To me. Like that.” His free finger poked in the air in my direction.

“I’ll keep that in mind, Chris. Boss, you mind I tell my side?” David nodded his head quickly. “Thank you. See, Chris, you can learn a lesson from David. He’s at least respectful.”

“Respect is earned.” He said hotly. I could feel his hatred for me boiling over. I wanted him to hit me. Perhaps we could have solved something that wasn’t quite as fair the day before. Hey, I’m a man who can admit when he’s wrong.

“Charlie?” David spoke. “If we’re to keep this up, you’ll keep the sarcasm to a minimum. I want to hear your side of the story and then we’ll read what needs to be read. Got it?” I could sense the end in his words and his eyes carried the death blow.

I decided to look down the barrel of the corporate cannon and speak into the void. “Yes sir. Yesterday was like any other day. By that, I mean that I would talk with the nurses who cared to actually give a damn about my personal life, I did my  job without question, and kept one earbud in at all times. Of course, this doesn’t include the times I would sneak off into my hiding spots and escape the world I had locked myself in for eight hours each work day. Finally, I was able to relax for lunch in the café whenever I decided to go through my ritual of scanning all of social media and keeping up with everyone living their lives outside of this place.” I took my then vibrating phone out of my pocket and slammed it onto the desk to my left. “I was getting texts and pics much like what I’m getting throughout this god damn court session and I was growing more and more jealous. I can’t blame them for doing what they were doing and what they’re doing now. They have no idea what’s going on over here anymore. They all left and with damn good reason. I was just the one dumb enough to stay in contention with all of you. It makes me fucking sick…” I caught my breath. I could feel my veins straining on my neck as my voice rose further into the heavens. I guess this is what happens to the silent souls who finally find their voice.

“Speaking of staying where you are, the one thing I had some sense to leave was the one thing that it was a bad sense and I saw it posted all over. She…my ex is getting married to some jackass. But what the hell does that matter? I mean, it’s not like I’m doing anything to climb out of the hole that I clearly dug myself into. If-if you were to go into my cave of an apartment right now, I guarantee that you would find scraps upon fucking scraps of written notes of possible stories that probably won’t even see the light of day. Oh, but I guess you guys never knew that. I want to be a writer but it’s hard to be successful whenever you’re weighed down by obligations that are meaningful as a middle finger for the day. Where was I? Oh yes, this asshole.” Christopher perked up from his blushing cheeks. His snarl had reduced to nothing.

“How could I forget this shadow that follows me and tells me that every single fucking thing I do is wrong? David, every day that I’m here, Chris will meet with me and tell me one thing that I’m doing wrong or that my department is doing wrong. Oh, but don’t worry, he’ll just remind me afterwards that it’s my department and I should be the one handling it. He’s just letting me know what’s going on. You fucking prick… I sat at my table alone both in company and spirit and…I couldn’t take it anymore. I was leaving. I was walking out the back entrance of CARES whenever I heard the thuds of the Bulldog’s boots.” Christopher’s squinted. “Yeah, you’re nickname is Bulldog. Have fun with that thought. I was walking out to my car, just ready to give up whenever I heard him behind me. He yelled my name and for me to come back to him.

David interrupted. “Where were you planning on leaving to?” At that moment, I didn’t have a clue but I had to come up with something.

“Probably to see my parents up north. I can’t see my brother just yet.”

“You were just going to leave?” He was searching for the answer he knew all along.

“Yes sir. I was going to leave until Chris stopped me. We had words and he called me things that I didn’t appreciate.”

“What did he say?” He looked shortly at Christopher who refused to meet his gaze.

“Spineless, dumb as a fuckin’ rock, wished he worked in my department so he could do whatever he wanted without consequence. You know, shit like that. He began to rip into me and…I don’t know why. I blacked out. When I came to, he was unconscious on the ground by the dumpsters.” A few months down the road from this moment, I got my hands on the footage. It was animalistic…it was fire incarnate. “I ran home crying, trying to mend my torn hands. My…my neighbors were trying to help me. I yelled at them and told them that I wasn’t afraid to hurt someone else that day. I stormed upstairs and…” A boulder rose in my throat and I shoved it back down. “Do I regret what I did? Not even for a second. I waited to say these words, more or less, for months now. Reciting, recording them in my head, it was all worth it.” I turned to the Bulldog. “You…you’re the bane of my existence, you know that? You don’t care and, frankly, neither do I.” I tore my name tag from my collar and tossed it on the desk in front of me. I was unbuttoning my shirt as David grabbed a separation notice and was filling in the blanks in silence. “No need for me to be fired, I quit. Fuck the hospital, all the obligations, and everything in between. But, most of all, fuck you Chris. Oh, and Chris?” I stood up from the chair and spoke softer. The Bulldog’s muscles tensed.

“Stop. I’m not going to hit you. You know what I’ve come to realize in all this? Life hit you harder than I ever could. I’m sorry that life didn’t turn out the way you wanted. If life is that miserable for you, then change it. God forbid whatever sorry sap fills my spot witnesses you now…I hope, for his sake, he knows you’re a changed man. If you have the sense to change, that is. At least there’s a resolution. I vow that I’ll never live the lives before me now. And David? Good god man, grow a pair. Life has too many slaves anyways. Take charge for all that it’s worth.” I tossed the  shirt on the desk and opened the door. The eavesdropping secretary nearly fell into the office.

“Charles?” David sounded off from his office into the narrow hallway.

“Yes sir?”

“Take care.” A bitter grin fell across his face. I nodded and left the office. The sounds of freedom never rang so damn true as that day ever could. What lay before me was something that not even the craziest minds could muster up but I was ready for the peace and chaos to mix into an eternity that I’d be happy to dive into. I took my first step into freedom. Into the unknown of opportunity. Into the abyss.


Writer’s Block: Chapter 3

Chp 3

I was ushered into the corner office where the beige tile ended and a murky green, coarse carpet began. The heavy man, also corporately known as the boss, led the way and politely asked me to shut the door behind me. As though the room wasn’t tight enough as it was, the room consisted of two members of the company as their judging eyes met my downtrodden. Allen’s eyes had a grave look when they met mine. His receding, slicked blond hair was beginning to come unfolded but he quickly put it back in its tight spot. Two identical chairs from out in the lobby sat in the crammed office. Cluttered in binders and paperwork for this facility or another that they owned were perched in the windowsill. They were spaced just enough to catch a speck of natural light. The two men poorly attempted to tidy up the room as I stood waiting for the next instruction. With not a word spoken from either party, I was shown the seat that I would await my mock trial in. Gently sitting, I took my seat across from the man whose glare was hotly set upon me. I could feel he was calculating every move and twitch that I might have. He had nothing to fear, I had controlled myself once again and the pacifist ruled once again. But he wouldn’t know that. For all I knew at that time, I could use that to my advantage. I mean, what’s worse than sharing devastating news with the unstable of the heart and mind? My phone tingled in my pocket once, twice more. I clicked it off quickly.

Christopher’s newly wrapped cast rested on the right arm of the desk chair as he straightened himself. Only two or three etches of a black sharpie were signed on the cast from what I could read. That was before he attempted to hide it entirely. The exhausted thud of the forearms on the desk startled me. I tried to hide the pulse that leaped through my body but it was only suppressed.

“Seriously?” Allen said with a hint of laughter. “After what happened yesterday, you still jump? Unbelievable.” Christopher’s laugh shot out in one hot burst full of scorn. “Well, I think everyone is here. Let’s begin.”

“Sir?” I questioned. “Shouldn’t HR be in here? I mean, this technically’s an HR issue, right?”

“Charlie, I’ve asked corporate and, due to our past dealings, they felt that it would be best if I handled this with you personally. I’m the GM of CARES, so I can handle anything we need to handle. Do you have any more questions before we begin?” His tone was sickening. Truth be told, he’d never talk like this with his cronies. I should know. But look, if you’re going to get the fucking fire squad to take me out, don’t take the time to load the guns in front of me. Just do the damn thing. This was the only thing I could think of that was any semblance of a coherent thought. That was after all the “what ifs” and “but how comes”. As I shook my head, I caught a glimpse of Christopher’s face. His left eye socket was a ripe purple that was already in the looks to burst. No doubt, though, he had cleaned himself from the day before. Every now and then, I’ll think about what that poor son of a bitch is up to and then it’ll quickly dawn on me: I don’t care. The only hope I have is that, with the help a few punches and outfitted rage, maybe it would show him the other side of the coin he so desperately avoided in life.

“Charlie, I’m going to assume you know why you’re here and why Mr. McKenzie is here, correct?” I nodded. “I want you to take me step by step, what led you to do this. Wh-what the hell could have happened, bud?” I can appreciate, even now, how soothing he was trying to be. But you can only be so soothing to a tornado before you find it’s inevitability to blow the countryside to shreds. Even so, he did his best and that’s all anyone could ask. Well…except for Christopher.

“Don’t call him, bud, sir. Please, you know what he’s capable of.” He snarled from the side.

“Christopher…” Allen raised his thick hand. He turned his red face to me and continued in his calming voice. “Please, go ahead.” Just as I opened my mouth to speak, he interrupted. “You have to understand, Charlie, this is so out of character for ya. You go from being the best damn security that we got to someone who hauls off and hits his boss. So we just wanna know, you know?”

“Yes sir. Umm…There’s just been a lot going on with me right now. Now, I know that’s not an excuse for what I did-” The phone lit with anticipation. I suppressed it as best as I could. I wanted nothing more than to look at it. But that would be another death sentence.

“You’re absolutely right there’s no fucking excuse for that.”

“Christopher, what did we talk about? Before this meeting, what the hell did I say?” Allen pleaded with Christopher. He huffed and adjusted himself. The pain that rang through his face was a daunting reminder. At the time, hell, even now, I never meant to hurt the man. I only meant to hurt his words, his ideas. “Continue, please.” His look remained fixed on Christopher while my eyes dwindled onto the fresh salsa stain on his lime green shirt. It was hiding behind his blue name-tag that hung on the collar of his wrinkly shirt.

“Umm…where was I? Oh yeah, I didn’t mean to hurt Mr. McKenzie in the slightest. I-I guess my anger got the best of me yesterday and…and-and I couldn’t control myself. I could tell you all the stories that you want to hear about what’s going on but I don’t think it’s necessary.”

After a long pause, Allen broke the silence. “Why wouldn’t it be necessary? Charlie, I’ve always thought of this company more as a family than anything else. I care about you guys…and the gals here. So you could have always come to me with any issue and, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.” Perhaps it was the cynicism in full effect for the time, but it was almost see though I could literally see the droplets of bullshit seeping through his teeth. It had been free- flowing for so long that he might have actually believed it.

I played along with the charade. “I understand, sir. And I can promise you that it will not happen again so long as I’m here working for CARES.” I could feel the heat rising from across the room. It was only a matter of when and who would be the last to speak before the overflowing boiler of belligerence that sat across from me would explode. Allen dropped his head for a moment trying to gather his thoughts.

“I expected you to say something along those lines, pal. I knew that you could be brought back to reason if we just sat and talked through this.” Christopher had, at this point, twisted his chair to face the sunshine that poured from the north facing window into the street. I could hear the hums of the metallic beasts traverse across the highway from outside the building but I was missing the hovering howls of the airplanes. “You know what I think most of the issue stems from? I learned this in an interesting seminar the other week whenever I went down to Dallas. We learned that it’s better to get the job done when we know who we’re workin’ with. Maybe you and Christopher here just need to get to know one another.” This made Christopher to swivel back into the conversation. “Who would like to begin?”. He sighed deeply. “Fine, Christopher, you go first.” Christopher’s small reading glasses were bent around the frames as they clung to edge of his nose. They drooped even further with the look he shot back at Allen.

“Erm…no offense, Allen, but we’ve done this before. We’ve gotten to know all the department heads personally but, in the case of Hugo here, I don’t think that honestly matters to him.” For once, I could agreed with the sorry bastard. I had listened and learned the checkered life of Mr. McKenzie. Even though I could empathize with him getting back in touch with his daughter and growing closer to his grandson and god kids, I couldn’t give a damn less. What it proved to me was nothing more than a confirmed condescension that was well honed over time. He did anything and everything for the love of his family and the destruction of others were minuscule ideas to him in the long run of it all. I could understand it. It disgusted me all the same. I guess that’s why he was nicknamed “The Bulldog” so fondly. The good part of it all was that I had told so little about my life to these people was that he would be grasping at the wisps of yesterday if he had anything. I doubted he even listened to my droning on mouth anyways. Sometimes even I got tired of my ramblings. Much like now…my bad.

He kept on with hesitation in his voice. “But…if you want it, then I’ll do it.” He shifted his gaunt face directly at mine. His piercing baby blues crushed into my soul. They say that, in the case of rage and contention, pupils will go to pinpoints. That might be so because, after searching that bloodshot canvas, I had yet to find a shadow of black and I came up empty handed. My phone buzzed again, lighting up my thin pockets. He saw the light and something snapped. “You know what? Pardon my language, sir, but he doesn’t give a fuck what’s goin’ on with this place.”

“Christopher!” Allen raised his voice with a sternness I had yet heard in the two years I worked underneath the rule of the man. But Christopher fired back with passion.

“No, you need to hear this! Your “golden boy” here has been able to fly under the fuckin’ radar for too long and I’m sick of it. We all have a business to run and there’s been more than enough times to get this boy outta here and we hesitate. Why? Because he has just enough youth and just enough charm to get away with it! He thinks that he can charm his way through this job but I will not put up with that sort of bullshit any longer! If I were in charge-”

“Oh, if you were in charge?” This stopped Christopher in his tracks. His face grew grim as he watched the words he had repeated in secrecy leave his words out into the light of the public. “Is that it? You want to have my job, don’t ya? I know how you would handle Mr. Hugo but that is not how we need to go ‘bout this. He has a lot to learn about this business but pushin’ him away isn’t gonna do a thing but have him hate this place. Did you ever think that’s why we’re here?” Allen’s jowls jiggled once he swirled his head my way. “Charlie, I’m-I’m sorry you had to see that. I’m sorry that it has to be this way. Would you like to continue?” I bent forward and started to giggle. A giggle in the time of certain uncertainty. Unusual but something that was as necessary as a sunrise.

“See?! See what I mean?”

Since I’m being truly, upfront honest in these times, I can say with all the conviction in the world that this was far more entertaining than anything I had seen in quite some time. It erupted from me unplanned, unchecked, yet warranted. Regardless, I found it interesting that, through all the turmoil, they could not see what I had had planned in my head. In the midst of all the bureaucratic bullshit that was being flung back and forth from one ape to the next, they were clueless. And, in all fairness, I had all the intentions to keep a semblance of what was left of my life. But I saw my future unfolding before my very eyes. It was a parody.

Would you like to know what I said to the old ships of Greece as they were harbored on the shores of Troy? I bet the torch would like to speak as well as I.