It’s Supposed to Be Hard

Arlene awoke in the middle of the night.  She rose to her feet. Quietly she grabbed the journal off her dresser and walked to the bathroom.  She retrieved her slippers and robe then marched down the dark hall into the kitchen.  She turned on the light and placed the journal on the counter.  She reached in the cabinet for a wine glass and gently placed it on the counter.  She opened the fridge and grabbed the bottle of red wine. The quiet of the house was interrupted by the banging of the bottle against the thin glass.  The wine pouring  into the glass sounded like a running river.  She was mesmerised by the red wine pouring into the glass.  Her mind wandered. Did the blood pouring out of her mortally wounded son look like this?

“Shit!” she said as the wine spilled over the edge of the full glass onto the counter. Her attention span has been short. The journal has been home for five days and has reopened lots of healing that had taken place since his death. She hardly can function normally.  Why did he send it to her? It’s a question that won’t leave her mind.  She takes a sip of wine and grabs the journal.

Leaving the kitchen light on she walked into the adjacent living room and sits on the couch.  She takes another sip of wine and places the glass on the coffee table.  She settles onto the couch with the journal is on her lap.  She sits quietly staring at the red wine in her glass.  Then she grabs its and takes another sip.  She removes the rubber band wrapped around the plastic bag containing the journal. Her hands shake as she touches the journal itself.  She places the plastic to her side and holds the journal before her.  She reaches into her robe pocket for her reading glasses.  With the journal clearly in view, she opened to a random page. With light from the adjacent kitchen she maneuvers the journal so she can read. 

10 November 2004

My sweet mom.  Day three of our sweep through Fallujah and it’s getting tougher by the minute.  Death if all around. Nothing can prepare you for this. No book.  No veteran.  No movie.  NOTHING. This place makes hell look like Disneyland. That’s why we are the best mom.  But worry not. I am safe in the hands of my Marine brothers.  We have fought our way into town and my platoon is holed up in a convenience store we nicknamed the candy store.  We are getting 12 hours a rest at a time which we must square away our gear but it also serves as a breather from the reality outside these walls.  Before I wrote this I was thinking of how hard war is.  But I am made for this.  I understand it just like my fellow Marines.  You just are born with this inert ability to stare death in the face and maintain your bearing.  It’s hard, don’t get me wrong.  I am reminded a line from Tom Hank’s character in “A League of Their Own” when Gina Davis tells him that baseball got too hard.  His reply:

“It’s supposed to be hard.  If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it.  The hard is what makes it great.”

Not everyone can do this.  The Marines can. We are special. And we will win and I’ll come home and be a better man.

Time to get back to cleaning my gear so I can get some rack time. Worry not.  I am safe.  In the candy store.

Till we meet again.  You son Michael PFC USMC.

She manages a quick smile that shifted the streaming tears from her cheeks across the edges of her mouth.  He was brave.  She understood that before he joined the Marines. That is what scared her the most.  She knew he enjoyed that movie yet she was surprised at the quote he chose.  “It certainly fit his situation,” she thought.

A quick moment of pride was washed out by the agony of his words.  Through her tears she reached for her glass and drank the remaining wine.  She laid on the couch in a fetal position, crying herself to sleep. She was reliving his death all over again. When will her pain end?

This is fiction written for Daily Prompt Silver Screen.  This work was inspired by the prompt and written for the ongoing story The Journal of PFC Patterson.  Stop by and read more about a mother dealing with the loss of her only son in Iraq and the turmoil created after reading his journal.

Daily Prompt: Far from Normal

Many of us think of our lives as boringly normal, while others live the high life. Take a step back, and take a look at your life as an outsider might. Now, tell us at least six unique, exciting, or just plain odd things about yourself.

via Daily Prompt: Far From Normal.

1.  I was born and raised Cajun but without a French last name thus making it difficult to make others believe I am really Cajun.  Plus I don’t have much of a Cajun accent. And yes I like crawfish but I don’t suck da heads! 

2.  I am a lifetime underachiever professionally that struggles daily to make sense of this crazy life.

3.  I was supposed  to be an aggressive 6’3″ 255 lb football player until the big man decided that wasn’t in the cards for me and made me 5’6″ 130.  I am still upset about not playing football in high school due to my size.  Some day I will get over it.  Maybe.  NOT.

4. I want to write an academy award-winning screenplay with some substance.  One that tackles a difficult subject in a way that hasn’t been done before.  And before Morgan Freeman leaves this earth so he can be my narrator.

5. I want to touch people’s lives with words.

6. When I find a song I enjoy, I can listen to it and it only for days and days!  Right now it’s No More I Love You’s by Annie Lennox and Pictures of You by The Cure.

Till we meet again.  Good Day.

Mind of Shoo 

Daily Prompt: All About Me MIND OF SHOO

This was written for the Daily Prompt; All About Me

Explain why you chose your blog’s title and what it means to you.

I have been surprised at the number of people who have asked me about the title of my blog.  So this is as good of time as any to explain what it means.  It is actually pretty simple.  

“Legend” has it that I was born premature and that I weighted less than five pounds.  I was so small that someone made the comment that I could fit in a shoe box. My understanding is my mom would hold me and say my poor little shoe shoe. Well, that stuck!  That was what I was called by all my relatives growing up and still to this day.  At school, thankfully, I was known by my real name. Not many of my friends actually ever called me Shoo-Shoo, but from time to time I was ridiculed for the nickname. When I write my nickname I chose to use shoo instead of shoe. My parents are no longer alive to confirm this story. However, many have told me this years ago, including my mom.

So when I stared writing I came up with Mind of Shoo, which basically is that I am writing what is on my mind.  An Adult Child of an Alcoholic Parent is self-explanatory.

That is my story and I am sticking to it.

Till we meet again. Good Day

Mind of Shoo

Daily Prompt: All About Me.

Daily Prompt; Choose Your Adventure; Yellowstone

This was written for Daily Prompt: Choose Your Adventure:

Write a story or post with an open ending, and let your readers invent the conclusion.

I stand just above Upper Falls on the Yellowstone River.  So beautiful, so majestic.  I have been working in the park for a little over a month.  My journey to Yellowstone National Park has  been a tumultuous one.  War.  Alcohol.  Drugs. Loneliness.  I look out into the vastness of beauty before me then take a deep breath.  No one is around.  I spread my arms out as if I can fly……(fill in the rest)

Daily Prompt: Choose Your Adventure.

Daily Prompt; Writing Room in a Caboose

This one is easy as I have written about it before HERE.  I’d love to have a caboose in my back yard as a study/studio to work on writing and painting.  I would redo the exterior as authentic as possible.  As for the inside, in the writing area I’d like to have a nice simple glass or plexiglass desk and a small closet to house writing supplies.  I would want a comfortable desk on wheels.  I’d have a nice stereo with Bose speakers to listen to music when I deem necessary.  I’d have bright colored walls with hardwood flooring.  The lights would be a curvy track lighting system across the ceiling.  I’d also have an odd-shaped lamp on the desk.  I’d have lots of different shaped angles in the room. The walls would have lots of different art and or sculptures. Of course it would include a computer.  I’d keep a refrigerator in the studio area for snacks and drinks.  I would have the caboose set kinda far from the house so I would not be bothered when I am there.  I think it would be wonderful to sit in there an relax, wondering where this caboose has been during its working days.  To think of the people who set foot in the caboose and wonder about what their life traveling was like.  

I believe it would make a wonderful work area.  Like I said in my first post about my work space, if you are driving the country side in rural America and see a caboose in someone’s back yard, it may be me working on my next movie script or novel.  Or just me blogging.

Till we meet again.  Good Day.

Mind of Shoo

This was written for the Daily Prompt; Writing Room

A genie has granted your wish to build your perfect space for reading and writing. What’s it like?

Daily Prompt: Writing Room

It Began With a Hug

This work is fiction.  Written for the;

Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words, Take Two

Your challenge this week is to write a post based on the above picture.

As I walk down the cobblestone sidewalk I finally see her in the distance.  She is as beautiful as in her pictures.   I glance around to see my surroundings.  It is a peculiar location.  A little alley with tall apartment buildings on each side the street car tracks.  As I stand and wait for her to reach me, the street car has stopped to unload its passengers.  I carefully eye each one as they exit.  I look back down the hill as she is finally approaching me.  We look like casual tourist.  I say Hi to her in her native language which brings a smile to her face.  As she reaches for me we hug.   I feel her slide the mini container into my pocket as my eyes look around hoping this goes unnoticed.  With her thick Ukrainian accent she says to hug longer. I comply as I reach in my pocket and pull out the syringe.  I quickly poke her in the stomach.  Her body goes limp as the streetcar begins to move forward.  She struggles to get away from my grip but can’t.  Her body is slowing down as the drug quickly takes away her capacities.  The street has stopped next to us.  I quickly drag the female around the front and reach the door. As we enter I move past the driver and softly lay her down on the floor.  I feel the street car moving forward as I stand up.  My heart is racing as I walk back to the front behind the driver.

“The duffel bag is on the rear seat.  Go to it and get dressed.  Quickly,” the driver says.  “I believe we have gone unnoticed.  But hurry.  We’ve got to get her delivered and you out of here!”

I stand and walk towards the rear seat as instructed.  I look in every direction as I reach the seat.   Everything is as planned.  As I casually take my seat next to the duffel bag I take one final glance out the rear of the streetcar.  I am relieved that no one appears to be following us.  I remove the clothes from the bag and quickly change.  Casual slacks with a nice bright-colored Chaps shirt and loafers.  Inside the duffel bag I find my wallet, passport and ID badge. I am now ready for my flight back to the United States.  I stand up and walk to the front of the street car.  I stop at the head of the woman on the ground and bend down.  I feel for a pulse in her neck.  “She’s still breathing Harry.”  I then rustle through her bag and find what I actually met her for.  Another larger disk is inside her bag.  Ah, like magic I think to myself.  I stand, brush off my clothes then walk toward the front of the street car.

Harry is at the controls of the street car.  He is an agent for the Italian SISMI,  an agency of the Ministry of Defense. I am sure that is not his real name.  His real name is probably Baldovino or Fiorello.  But at this moment I could care less. He is my partner in this joint mission between the United States and Italy.  The SISMI set up this exchange of information between myself and an agent from Ukraine.   A few years planning for a couple of round disks and less than two minutes to execute.  “Two years,” I think as I take a seat behind Harry.  I place both disks inside a brief case behind Harry’s seat.  It is the most important mission in my young CIA career.  Finally able to relax, I feel the cool morning breeze blowing in my face and take in the scenery around me.  I have not slept much in the past week.  Soon this will all end!  A car will pick me up at a drop-off location and take me to the American Embassy.  Soon afterward I will fly home like I was on a summer vacation.  

As we move along the street I notice a car parked across the tracks ahead of us.  Harry looks behind and just nods his head upward.  He then brings the street car to a halt.  He looks at me and says to stay in my seat.  As he exits the street car my heart races with anticipation.  Is there something going wrong with our plan?  Who are these guys?  I wasn’t aware this scenario.  This was not how the mission unfolded in the briefing yesterday!  The rear window of the car rolls down as Harry peers inside.  Suddenly another car stops next to the street car.  Two men slowly exit and enter inside. Without a word they grab the woman and carry her off the streetcar into the rear seat of the vehicle.  My heart is again racing as the car speeds off.

As I look ahead of me I see Harry stand up and turn toward me.  He adjust his shirt and begins walking my direction.  My mind is racing. Is something very wrong about to happen? Harry reaches the street car then takes his seat.  As he begins to move the street car forward he turns around and says “a little change of plans Michael.  But it went down smoothly.  Now off we go to get you back to the embassy. Mission accomplished.”

Not far down the road Harry stops the street car.  I notice a man in the suit right in front of where we stopped glancing our direction.  I stand and exit onto the street.  “Thanks for taking the street car today sir, have a great afternoon. Enjoy Italy,” Harry says to me.  I turn to him as he drives away.  He smiles and give me a little wave.  I walk to the man on the street who causally opens his wallet to reveal his embassy credentials.  We walk toward the car without saying a word.  I take my seat in the rear of the car.  My body goes limp as I breathe a sigh of relieve.  Yes Harry, mission accomplished.

Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words, Take Two.

Bonding with Kids Daily Prompt: Musical

This was written for the Daily Prompt: Musical

What role does music play in your life?

There are so many different aspects of my life where music has played a prominent role.  From listening to music with friends during my teen years, dancing during the disco era (yes I am admitting it!) to going to concerts of my favorite bands.  Music is something in my teen years that I shared with friends and it was important to all of us.  It strengthened our bond.  

Now that I am way past my teen years, I use music to bring me to different places mentally.  It can help me out of depression, ease my mind from life’s challenges or brings back great memories of my younger years.  Music has placed stamps on my course through life.  

As I have gotten older, I began to listen to the lyrics.  And reading the lyrics.  This aspect of music has brought new light to what musicians offer.  As a young man, I would just sing the song and never understand truly what was behind the song.  Now, I am constantly amazed how they poured their heart out to the public.  They weren’t afraid to share their struggles of their life even when it was obviously painful.   I think of “Time for Me to Fly” by REO Speedwagon.  Great song from a musical sense.  But listen to the lyrics.  There is a young man understanding a relationship has been one-sided and he must move on.  So beautiful.  The music on Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors” album is filled with the pain of two couples breaking up during the recording process.  How did Ronnie Van Zant write such a beautiful song as “Freebird” while he drank  and partied to excess?  Like it or not that song will be around for eternity.  I heard John Mellencamp once say in an interview that he wrote “Jack and Dianne” for himself but over the years he understand it is not his song any more, it is the audiences.  And he was fine with that.  How cool.  

Isn’t Stevie Beautiful

Currently I have to say that music has been another way to connect with my kids.  Unlike my father when I was a kid, I am enjoying current music while my kids will like songs I listen when I was their age.  My daughter came up to me recently with a Fleetwood Mac song and asked if I remember the song “Never going Back Again’?  I was floored.  It’s not one of their more popular songs but it is beautiful.  How did she find it, I can’t recall.  But the connection is wonderful.  Same with my oldest son.  We constantly trade songs on iTunes.  And listen to music on You Tube.

I remember a line in the movie City Slicker’s where Daniel Stern’s character says something to the effect of  When he was 18 and him and his dad couldn’t relate to anything, they always had baseball”.  Now I don’t ever feel that distant from my kids, but I feel we always have music.

Right now I am so in love with the video and song by Annie Lennox called “No More I Love You'”.  HERE is the video.  It’s so very soothing and so beautiful both musically and visually.  

Oh I could go on and on.  I’d leave with how music puts me in a place of calmness, even when life is throwing everything it has at me.  Escape.  Even if it’s only for three or four minutes!

Till we meet again.  Good Day!

Mind of Shoo!

Daily Prompt: Musical.