Goodbye My Friend

I recently decided to look up an ole Yellowstone friend on Facebook.  We worked together during the summers of ’89 and ’90.  We communicated off and on for a few years afterwards but not in recent years.  My search didn’t take long. I found a facebook community page dedicated to his journey after finding out he had cancer.  I was too late.  He had passed on.  I wrote this a few days later after listening to Foo Fighter’s song My Hero.

“6835 S.W. Macadam.  The Buffalo Gap Saloon.  Your destination, sir.” the cabby said as the car came to a stop.

We both stepped out then walked to the open trunk.

“How much do I owe you?”

“$46.35” was the reply while he removed my day pack and guitar case. “You performing here this evening?”

“You can kinda say that,” I responded. “I am playing a song at a memorial for an old friend.  Here you go” I said as I handed him the fare. “Keep it!”  Then I shook his hand. “Thanks for the ride and the chat.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.”

He closed the trunk and walked to the drivers door.  He opened the door, glanced my way and asked “What song?”

“My Hero”  I replied looking directly at him.  “Cause my friend was Extrodinary.”

“Great song!  Good luck” he said disappearing into the cab.

“Sure thing.”  I stood there with my guitar case in my hand, my day pack at my feet as the cab drove off and slowly disappeared in traffic.  I turned to my right at looked up at the sign. “Buffalo Gap Saloon”  I thought as a I smiled briefly.  “Perfect name for an establishment he would frequent.”  I stood in silence in front that bar like I was the only person on this planet.

“You here for Drew’s memorial?”  a voice spoke out to me.

I turned to see a gentleman and a woman approaching me.  “I am” I replied while extending my hand out to him.  We shook hands after reaching me.  “I am Aster.”

“Nice to meet you Aster. I’m Malcom.  My wife Andrea. I worked with Drew at the station for years.  Great guy.  Left us too early.”

I looked down for a moment then cleared my throat. Then I looked at him. “He absolutely did” was all I could muster.

“How did you come to know Drew if you don’t mind me asking?” Malcom replied.

I felt my jaw tighten.  My lip quivered ever so slightly as I said “He rescued me….. from the darkness that was my life.  He came into my life for only a brief time.  We met in Yellowstone years ago.” I explained stopping briefly to compose myself. “Hard to explain really.  Drew listened.  Drew loved unconditionally over time.  Simply put.  He cared when many didn’t and for that I am forever indebted to him.”

“Oh my” his wife muttered quietly.


“So you going to talk to the crowd today Aster?” Malcom asked.

“I may.  But I think I am going to just play a song. To thank him in front of his friends and family.”

“Ah. We look forward to it. Nice meeting you Aster.”  The couple turned toward the door and started to walk inside the building.  Before Malcolm disappeared into the building he entered he looked over to me and said “I am not surprised he listened Aster.  That is who he was.  Bet he taught you some guitar too huh?”

I smiled at him and replied “Everything I know!”

Malcom turned and continued inside with the door closing behind him.

I stood there and cried.


I am a lifetime underachiever.  A professional nobody.  Never worked for a company that had more employees than I have fingers.  I haven’t been successful at anything in my professional life.  I am 51 and I sell junk on ebay.  How is that for a profession!  Keeps me at home I suppose.  I get to watch YouTube videos all day long.  Listen to lots of music.

What it mainly gives me time to think of all the things I could of and should of have become. A professional triathlete. A football player!  An outdoor magazine journalist.  A painter.  Hey that’s it!  Most of my idols are impressionist.  But yet I can’t paint a lick!  Let’s see…..small business owner.  Hated it!!  Writer.  I suck at writing.  I suppose my list of professions goes on and on. Except for one….



Yep.  That is it!  Lennon said it for me.  “You may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one.”   I am a dreamer.  And that would be ok if I was also a doer!  But I am not.  So dreaming it has been.

Even now…when I sit home I dream about running up Alii Drive in Hawaii leading the Ironman World Championship.  The crowd going crazy and I am thinking of my dead father being proud of me as Mike Riley says “Ron Greig, you are the (insert year here) world champion.”  See dad, I told you I would amount to something!

Or the time I dream of charging the gunman at the restaurant bent on killing as many of us before he takes his own life. Alright Brian Williams, lets hear the headline on your newscast tonight as this little 5’6″ Cajun uses his past military training to use in his own country.  15 years after his discharge!  I then return to my little hometown in Cajun country a household name. Only to drink himself into a lifelong stupor reliving that haunting experience.  Fuck that!  Next dream.


Two down in the bottom of the ninth inning.  World Series.  Me in pinstripes.  NYC is now in the palm of my hands.  I’ts 0-2 and I struck out my last time at bat.  Wait!!  Just freaking wait! That’s way too easy.  Too many people dream about this as little kids.  Move on!!

How about this one.  I go to Barnes and Noble and look on the Best Seller shelf and there it is.  My novel.  Wait….my soon to be a movie novel.  Directed by Rob Reiner.  Staring….hmmmm lets see.  How about Brad Pitt?  Matt Damon?  Got to get Sam Jackson in there for sure.  He’s the father of the lead character. Kate Winslet?  Can she pull off a cajun accent?  Book signings tour.  Plenty of “you saved my life” comments from my adoring fans!!  How about that for a guy that didn’t get his degree but learned all my writing knowledge by reading Stephen King’s On Writing! Back atcha to all those who sent me rejection letters!!!  In your face toilet face.  Pure literature there!!

I could go on and on here.  I am 51 and I know and accept who I am .

A dreamer.  Does it leave me fulfilled you ask?  Perhaps it does.

A dreamer.  Does that make you happy?  In certain moments it does.

A dreamer.  Does it make me sad?  Yes, often!

A dreamer.  Does it pay the bills?  Well, it has….sort of. I am not homeless.  Yet.

A dreamer.  Did you inspire to be one?  YES in fact I did.  To escape.

A dreamer. How do you explain that profession to someone?  You simply smile and say “What I do for a living you ask? I am a dreamer.  How about you?”

I am a dreamer.  It doesn’t matter if I am not the only one.  it is what I am.

A dreamer.  It is the only thing I am good at.  And it is me.

Till we meet again.  Dream on.

Mind of Shoo

Talking Alone

He is in ICU.  He’s septic and on a respirator.

My friend if dying.  This was a message sent to me by his younger sister last week.  It is not surprising.  He has been in a nursing home for 10 years now with advance MS.  I knew this message would eventually arrive in some form. It came through a message on facebook.  I thought I was ready for it.  But now that it has come I don’t really know.

I have known this friend from second grade.  We are currently both 51 yrs old.  We used to be separated by a couple of miles and lots of sugar cane.  Now we are separated by a few hundred miles and a couple of states.  I visit him whenever I am visit my little hometown in south Louisiana.  The last visit I was told in advance he no long could speak….only listen.  So I spent the whole drive to Louisiana coming up with things I would say in this one sided conversation.  His sister tells me none of his friends visit so he would be thrilled to see me. It is difficult meeting him in this condition.  I wonder what he is thinking as I yap about old times and update him on my family.  I talk what feels like to myself then I leave.  Will I have a chance to comeback?  Or is this it?  It is difficult turning my back and walking out.

I feel guilty that I am living a normal life.  I wonder why he was given this set of circumstances.  It all seems so wrong.  It is hard to comprehend.

My friend is dying.  And I don’t feel like much of a friend.  I just want things to be normal.  I feel selfish in my thoughts.

Honestly, I don’t know how to feel.  All I feel is empty.

Till we meet again.  Good Day

Mind of Shoo

A Life lasting Seconds

I recently drove through a McDonald’s drive thru to purchase a cheeseburger.  I was behind a gentleman who I watched being handed a bag with his purchase inside.  He drove off and stopped a few feet afterwards at the garbage can strategically placed along the exit. It was there that he threw away the bag that just seconds ago held his goodies. Seconds! The life of the bag was only seconds.  “How odd” I thought. Someone made that bag and its function lasted only seconds.  I am not sure how I feel about that!

I don’t know the process of making a bag and the imprint that is added. I am certain that there are quite a few people along that process that feed their family cause of this bag and the millions like it.  And that is a good thing.  But the life and use of that bag lasted only seconds!  Let me stress this…it was literally seconds! Was it really necessary?  What are the other options?  Who is responsible to be more responsible concerning our natural resources?  Is it the company who hands out the bag or the party receiving the bag? How much money could McDonald’s save if they didn’t hand out a bag with every meal? I don’t have an answer….only questions.

I drove forward and the employee was there with a smile and a thank you as he handed me my bag with my newly purchased cheeseburger inside.  I politely told him I didn’t need the bag and only wanted the burger.  He followed my request with a confused look on his face.  I grabbed my burger and off I drove without stopping at the trash can.  And for this I felt good. Perhaps I helped something.  What, I really don’t know.  Maybe I only helped myself.  Perhaps the environment. Perhaps I saved McD’s a few cents.  I really kinda don’t understand the need for a bag in most circumstances nor the results if we used less of them.

What would  you have done?  Have you ever thought of how many bags only last a few seconds?  Food for thought…….but with no bag please!

Till me meet again.  Good Day Mind of Shoo

Blood Across My Screen



Until the day I die, I’ll never forget those glassy unblinking eyes. Deep and haunting. Surrounded by the blood pouring down her forehead.  Her left hand reaching for my forearm as I work feverishly to undo her seat belt.  Her breathing is laboring, a gargling sound with each heave of her chest.  My mind races with the endless possibilities I am currently facing. I find myself in this perilous situation alone on a long stretch of south Louisiana country road in near total darkness. Her phone, still in her right hand, provides me with the only light inside the car.  It lights up with every text received from someone who is a total stranger to me.  “911!” I think as I pull myself from inside her window and reach in my pocket for my phone.  I run my finger across the screen to unlock it.  The light now reveals my home screen streaked with her blood and the zero coverage sign on the top bar.  “Shit, what do I do?” I say out loud.  I look both directions on the highway and see the beautiful stars among the large oak trees towering above us.  “The heavens” I think briefly.  The sound of movement inside the car reminds me of the grave situation I find myself in. I stick my body inside and feel her chest rise against my ear as I reach for the seat belt a second time. I hear that deep gargle sound again and a faint “I don’t want to die.” She she is aware of the situation.  “How do the hell I help her?” I think as I wrestle with the seat belt.   I am just a 16 year old farm boy returning home from my grandmothers house when I stumbled into this awful situation. Now, in what seems like only seconds since I arrived, a life before me is slipping away in front my very eyes.  I take a deep breath as the seat belt finally unfastens.  My brain finally registers the smell of burned rubber, gasoline and alcohol.  “What do I do?” I yell as I again pull myself from inside the window.  I attempt to open the door to the car to no avail.  “Miss!  Miss!” I say in a panicked voice.  “Can you hear me?”  The only response I receive is yet another laboring breath.  My mind goes blank. Suddenly I hear a man telling me to get in my car and drive to the next house for help.  I oblige and race to a farm house about two miles south of the accident.  I quickly exit my car and run to the front door.  I knock vigorously.  “I need help!” I yell into the door.  I hear footsteps between my gasping breath.  I look at my feet as the door opens and the light from within shines upon me.  As my eyes slowly work their way from my feet to my shirt and dangling arms I notice I am covered in blood.  I hurriedly tell the man of the situation as he hurriedly pulls me inside the foyer.  He yells to his wife, still out of sight to me, to call 911 while he quickly puts his boots on.  “You stay here with my wife while I head to the scene.”  My body trembles as I notice the injured lady’s handprint on my blood covered forearm.  The farmer’s wife calls me into the living room where she ask for the number to call my parents.  I stood in silence waiting for their arrival.

Now, two days later I stand next to this painting in the hallway of the town funeral home. I am staring at it intensely oblivious to my current surroundings.  I am here at the request of the parents of Shelia Dowling, the young lady I tried to assist on that dark country road. The funeral home employee has gone to tell them of my arrival.  I am scared beyond belief. I don’t know anything about her injuries or eventual passing.  I didn’t read about the accident though my mother told me it was on page two of the daily paper and the internet.  I feel just as helpless as I did that night.  If I leave these men in the painting and walk down the hallway I will certainly see the body of the lady I struggled alone to help.  I have never seen a dead body before.  “What do I say to them?” I think to myself. I was absolutely NO help to their daughter. And I know no one here. I am alone.  My mind not able to erase the vision Shelia’s eyes accompanied by the sounds of her struggling for air.  I am shaking as the parents approach me. The employee quietly introduces us.  “Micheal, meet Evelyn and Sterling Dowling. They are Shelia’s parents and are very happy that you came today.”

Mr. Dowling is the first to extend his hand for mine.  As we shake hands I look at the face of Mrs. Evelyn and notice the red cheeks and swollen eyes.  After my hand is freed, I reach out and hug her.  In a trembling voice I say “I am so sorry.”  I then let out a river of tears accompanied  by my loud wailing as if it was my own family member loss that evening.  I feel the father’s hand on my back and here his words “We are so proud how brave you were to offer help to our daughter.  I am sure your presence gave her much comfort and for that we are forever grateful.” Mrs. Eveyln held me tightly and stroked my back. “Wipe your tears Michael,” she says calmly. “You are a wonderful young man and I wish you nothing but the best in your future.  You will forever be in our thoughts and prayers.”  I wiped my face with a kleenex offered by the funeral home worker.  The visit is brief. The mother kisses me on the cheek and says thank you once again.  I promptly turn around and  walk out into the hot and humid Louisiana air.  As i walk to my car, I understand that I was forever changed.  I will be forever connected to Sheila Dowling though we only came into contact for five minutes of my sixteen plus years on this planet. I will never forget her. I hope to meet her again.


This work of fiction was written for The Speak Easy #162 at Yeah Write

Flickering Light

The yelling stopped.  Then I heard loud footsteps and the living room door slam shut.  

I sat up in bed as the family car started up and quickly drove away.  I stared at my candle as it flickered spastically at its end. Suddenly darkness engulfed the room.  I slowly lay back down and heard the faint sound of my mother crying. My heart sank and my body became numb.  I felt powerless as I heard words through her tears.

“Why?  Why God?  Answer me dammit!  Why?”  

Yelling and crying was nearly a nightly occurrence through my youth.  But I never heard her talk to herself before that night.  Soon after I fell asleep I was awakened suddenly by my mother.  

“Let’s go Joshua. Don’t ask any questions.”  

God must have answered her that evening.  We never went back home.

This fiction was written for Friday Fictioneers.

Visit and read the rules and join in the fun!

Till we meet again.  Good day.

Mind of Shoo

Together through Music

Copyright - Bjorn Brudberg

As a young kid, Marty and his mama spent weekend nights in rural southern bars listening to dad play with his band.  As a teen he learned to play under countless hours of alcohol-induced instruction and degrading comments from his dad.

The family went through financial hardship.  There was no playing catch in the back yard.  No family nights huddled by the radio. Divorce left young Marty alone with his dad in a run down shack on the edge of town.  Through it all,  music bonded the two of them like chords and lyrics do a song.

Marty went on to become a successful musician. He played on stages around the world. It brought him financial stability.  However,  his greatest joy was playing alongside his dad in the smokey bars back home.


This fiction was written for Friday Fictioneers.

Visit and read the rules and join in the fun!

Till we meet again.  Good day.

Mind of Shoo