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

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She Reached Out

There are many like us out there.  We all look the same. We are those who suffer at the hands of the alcoholic.  You would not recognize that we suffer.  We hide it well.  We often seek shelter inside our shell yet can’t escape the pain inflicted upon us. A pain received at the hands of someone we love.  Both emotional and physical pain.

I was one of the many. However, one person extended a hand.  Understood my reality. Sacrificed herself in order to make our life somewhat more manageable. Tried to make normal of the abnormal. A shield of sorts.  Often taking the abuse upon herself so it may bypass me.  All in the name of love.  A love for her only child.  A protector till the very end.  

She was more than a protector.  She was my loving mother. She did all she could do.  For me. And I thank you.

This is fiction written for VisDare 10: Whimsy.  No PFC Patterson this week.  The picture didn’t allow it.  It was difficult to come up with something.  This is all I could bleed today.

The Kite

my_house

I grew up in a small town in the heart of Cajun country of south Louisiana.  I was an only child on a sugar cane farm with an alcoholic father, a loving mother and a chaotic household.  My mother, a seventh grade drop-out, did everything she could to keep things normal for me and most likely for herself as well.  My father drank daily.  And yelled daily.  We lived in an old farm-house that we rented for twenty dollars a month. This is in the seventies mind you, not the early 1930s.  The house had no heating or cooling. The roaches pranced around like they owned the place while the rats danced in the attic. Often I heard them fighting. At times they would fall down the walls of my room.  Not exactly a place you wanted to invite friends.  My days were spent alone, in my own world.  I played with toy tractors and football by myself in the pasture. Our closest neighbors were an old and kind black couple. Behind my house were acres and acres of sugar cane fields.  They were my escape from the chaos of my home.  My favorite time of the year was spring. The cane had grown to three feet in height at this stage of their growth. That is just a bit shorter than I was at eight years old.  The winds would blow swiftly yet silently across the fields.  Often in the spring I would walk into the cane fields and fly my kite. The vast expanses of openness along with the spring winds were ideal for this activity.

One particular spring I purchased a baby blue paper kite from the local Ben Franklin. This was a departure from the more cool plastic bat kites of the time.  Owning a paper kite would surely bring ridicule at school had my classmates found out.  My father helped me construct the simple kite. Four light pieces of grooved wood and the paper itself was all that was needed for assembly. He added a long strip of a worn bed sheet, yellowish in color, as a tail. One spring Saturday morning in 1973, at age of nine, I was ready to launch my kite on its maiden voyage.

I left the house late that particular morning.  My mother had prepared a lunch for me and placed it in a small brown paper bag. In the bag was a ham sandwich with mayonnaise, a bag of lays chips and a cold Winn Dixie brand of grape soda.  Off I went across our pasture behind our house.  Over the ditch and into the cane field I marched till I found the perfect location. I was alone.  The wind blowing briskly across the tops of the sugar cane.  The long leaves made a slight hissing sound as they danced in the breeze.  Armed with two reels of kite string spun around an old broomstick handle, I flung my kite in the air.  Up it went into the sky, the breeze lifting it skyward. Quickly it reached the end of the string. There it flew above me, its tail waiving in the wind.  I pushed the broomstick handle into the ground to free my hands. I looked into the clear sky, dotted with fluffy white clouds, at my kite flying so majestically. It was simply beautiful.

I don’t remember the amount of time I spent in the field that day.  It felt like an eternity.  I spread my small body between two rows of sugar cane with my feet just barely touching the infant stalks of cane.  The ground below me was cool against my back.  It was slightly hard from the drizzle of rain the day before. The cool ground was a sharp contrast the warm sun shining  from above onto the front of my body.  I ate my lunch there, carefully placing the trash back into the bag.  My dog Flag visited me at one point.  I even napped.  All the time, my kite just flew above me. When the wind picked up I could hear the rustling against the paper. I felt so free. So at peace. I felt my house of chaos was a million miles away when in reality, it was only a few hundred yards south of me.

I remember that day vividly, even to this day.  The memory is a short film captured for my mind to play whenever I want to revisit. I can still feel the cold ground below me.  I can still hear the kite rustling in the breeze.  I remember the cold can of check soda, the outside of the can covered in beads of water caused by condensation.  When I want to relax I just hit the start button and play this moment in time.  It soothes me even these many years later. I often hope that when I pass on that I can revisit that day. Perhaps I can hover above that scene and see the happiness, if just for that day, in my eyes. It was for me, at that time, a heavenly day.  

It was the best day of my life. 

This was written for Yeah Write Week #99.

Beyond the Picket Fence

Copyright-Janet Webb

This is where I grew up.  The house, once holding victims of alcoholism, now the victim of age and the elements.  Once an entanglement of chaos, violence and alcohol is now overrun with tangled vines and other plant life.  The exterior splintered as if it can no longer hold the secrets that once were within its walls.  Heartache and fear have burst through the siding like the screams years before.  The home a tattered reminder that those closest to your heart never understood your suffering.  The white picket fence, a symbol of an all American home to many, a symbol of imprisonment to me.  A symbol of a family lost.

This is fiction written for FRIDAY FICTIONEERS

THE CHALLENGE:

Write a one hundred word story that has a beginning, middle and end. (No one will be ostracized for going over or under the word count.)

THE KEY:

Make every word count.

Join the fun!

My Sentence

A hush descended over the room.  She stands and clears her throat.  Then she reaches over to the center of the table to take some grapes out of the glass dish.  Everyone watches as she slowly places one single grape in her mouth.  She put the remainder of them on her paper plate.  Again she clears her throat and says, “Hi I am Beth and I am an alcoholic.”

Everyone responds “Hi Beth.”

“I am here cause I believe in myself.  After years of drinking, two husbands, over twenty-five tattoos and lots of alcohol it is just time.  Life has exhausted me.  I have no control.  I never have.  Honesty is the hardest thing to face. I have drowned honesty with gallons of alcohol.  That has cost me my kids, two failed marriages and my professional life.  I know I am not alone in this self-destructive behavior. When does it end?  I am scared of where I have awakened sober. I am no friend to emotion.  I express love through physical contact and nothing more.  I am a sad state of affairs.”

Beth sheds no tears during her introductory speech.  She listens as others comment.  She sits nearly motionless through each visitor’s talk in the meeting.  Daydreaming. Agonizing. Regretting. She slowly finishes her grapes as the meeting draws to a close.  She savors the sweet taste of each.  She has brief conversations after the meeting then heads out the door.  Waiting for her outside are her kids. They were granted a quick visit.  She hugs each kid tightly. Her tattooed arms hold each kid tight, tears flowing from her eyes.  She kisses each kid and reaffirms her love.  Then she stands and turns to a female officer, waiting with the door of her car open.  The officer places handcuffs on her. Beth takes her place in the back seat.

As they drive off she waves to her kids.  She then says, “You know officer, my jail sentence is short. Only two months along with rehab and AA.  But my true sentence was handed down not by a judge but by alcohol.  A life sentence.”

This is a work of fiction.  Written for the speakeasy at yeah write #95.

An Open Letter to Alcohol

The following is only my opinions based on my observations and experience growing up in a house with an alcoholic.  I have read many studies over time, but really only touch on them briefly.  They are much more complex than I will ever understand.  This may be considered by some rambling or written without any expertise in the study of the consumption of alcohol and its effects.  Perhaps that true.  It was just on my mind and I wanted it to come out. I really only touch one grain of sand in the beach that is alcohol.

couresy of rumroadravings.com

Dear Alcohol

You have been around for as long man has walked our beautiful planet.  Ancient civilizations worshiped you.  You were refined during the man’s medieval period.  The Anglican Church leaders of the early modern period of history stated you were a “gift” from God.  You arrived in America during the early days of our discovery.  You could be found in nearly every one of our original colonies.  The taxes placed on you early in our history helped pay our Revolutionary War debts.  Later in our history, your taxes help fund the War of 1812. You were a “medicine” during the great American Civil War. You were banned with the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment yet you would not only survive but prosper.  Even the mere mention of another prohibition would certainly bring out the lively debates we are experiencing now with the talk of gun control.

You Mr. Alcohol, in all your variations of taste and potency are here to stay in America.  As long as the money flows, so will you!  And boy are you flowing!  According to this 2011 New York Times article you are even helping our government during our tough economic times!   How patriotic of you!  Congratulations!  Many people can toast you and help the economy simultaneously!  A true American Hero.

Cha Ching!  That’s the sound all brewery’s across our great nation hear over the sound of smashing metal or the yelling of an intoxicated abuser at his kid hunkered in a dark corner of his own room. Just like most things in America, money rules!

I don’t claim to be an expert in the field of alcohol, alcoholism or domestic violence.  Mr. Alcohol, I have read many studies that claim that consumption of you does not increase the chances of domestic violence.  There are countless studies I read like THIS ONE which almost exonerate you from any correlation with domestic abuse.   This is where things are indeed tricky.  My years in a house which you were prevalent makes me deduce that You were a major contributing factor to domestic abuse.  Now maybe we have to closely define domestic abuse.  There is so much varying information available that researching gave me a headache!  I came across THIS, but really didn’t clear the murky waters so to speak.  Maybe it is like an amber ale compared to vodka.  Who knows.  It is complicated, that I understand.

Everything is difficult to explain I suppose when it come to you Mr. Alcohol.  What is clear to me is I was in a chaotic house where You were the center piece of mental and physical abuse.  This chaos caused me to have an unhealthy mental state of mind throughout my lifetime.  Studies have shown many character flaws that are common in kids that grew up in an environment where You were prevalent.  I am proof.  I live it daily.  I suffer.  My kids suffer.  The sad part in all this Mr. Alcohol, is I don’t drink you nor have I had it in my home for over 25 years.  I guess I am not supporting our country in these tough economic times.  How unpatriotic of me.

Society is, generally speaking, concerned with driving under your influence Mr. Alcohol and that is a good thing I suppose.  If we can save a life or a family from suffering that is terrific.  I fully support it.  MADD is a great organization with lots of political power and their WEBSITE is loaded with statistics proving their contribution to protecting our citizens.

courtesy of CNN.com

However, does society even care what happens after they enter the home?  Society doesn’t want to invade ones privacy so it acts like it’s no real problem.  So let the alcoholic drink as long as he doesn’t endanger society by getting behind the wheel.  How about the alcoholic endangering the members of the household either physically or mentally? Does anyone care?

I believe my father, at his core, was a good man.  A good man with a drinking problem perhaps?  However that doesn’t make him a good man to me.  I am sure that others have the same experience or opinion.  I feel something has to be done to protect children in the country that are being raised in alcoholic environments.  I don’t have the knowledge nor the intelligence to come up with a solution.  I am sure someone does.  There are too many people suffering for long periods of time because of You, Mr. Alcohol.  Alcoholism causes kids miss their childhood.  Causes kids grow up to fast.  An environment of alcoholic parent(s) and kids is not conducive to a loving environment.  Kids miss learning about their parents.   They are given a horrible example of grown up behavior in this environment.  From my experience I find it is unhealthy and leads to a lifetime of suffering in some shape or form.  Our country needs to wake up and understand what is happening with alcoholics and their families.  We need a MADD to help fight for kids growing up in alcohol related chaos and abuse.  Those kids have a right to a good upbringing.  As Americans, we owe that to them.

I am sure there are plenty of Americans that drink responsibility.  I am sure that domestic violence happens in households that involve people who don’t drink.  I accept that.  I was in a home with YOU as the centerpiece for eighteen years.  I now understand I wasn’t an only child.  I had many brothers.  Jack Daniels,  Miller light, Gin and Vodka.  All were with me on practically a daily basis.  If I did the math,  I am sure more money was spent on those siblings than on the only human son in my home.  I am a statistic.  I just don’t know which one.  I feel it really is all about MONEY.  Those in power and or the companies who are making billions annually don’t want to the public to understand what is going on in alcoholic families. As long as alcoholics or drinkers don’t drive, then it is generally thought that society is doing its job. But they are not.  This satisfies the monster that is alcohol companies cause they “promote responsible” drinking and still make the profits.  Cause people are still drinking.  Alcoholics are still alcoholics.  And they purchase You Mr. Alcohol.

Thanks for listening Mr. Alcohol.  This is written from my experience in my childhood.  My father died a week before I graduated high school.  I now understand that I am an Adult Child of An Alcoholic Parent.  I live with that daily.  I did some research before I wrote this, but this is mainly my observation and experience.  I’d love to be able to get one parent to recognize the problems caused by abusing you Mr. Alcohol.  Or get a kid to understand at a young age that they are not alone in their experience with Mr. Alcohol within their household.  That help exist.

Thanks for your time.

A toast to you!  Good Day.

Mind of Shoo

Alcohol Can’t Take Away Love

We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.  We had our usual spot on the edge of the old basketball court at the entrance to the locker room.  The parquet floor has become dislodged, with pieces spread about the gym.  The wooden pieces are sometimes used to start fires during the winter time.  The number of residents has thankfully decreased over the summer.  As winter approaches the population no doubt will increase. I stand up and stretch, the hard surface playing hell on my back yet again.  I look down and see my daughter still sound asleep in her dingy sleeping bag.  I notice her hair is matted, an indication that we must shower.  The crowd this fall morning is sparse.  I feel safer when there are fewer people here.  I leave my area and walk across the basketball court dodging needles on the floor as well as other makeshift encampments.  The ingenuity of our fellow lodgers is striking.  I suppose once the survival mode kicks in the mind become very creative.  As I reach the door I notice long time resident Clarence standing as if he is a sentry.

“Morning Clarence, can you keep an eye on Tasha as I step out for a smoke?”  I ask.

“No problem Clyde” he simply replies.

Clarence is an old Viet Nam veteran who, by his recollection, single handily killed all the enemy he came in contact with.  His tales are numerous if not humorous.  If everyone was as successful as ole Clarence during battle, we would of won that war and returned home heroes.  He is a kind soul at his core.  He is a storyteller extodinarie. He has lived on the streets for years. He is a survivor.

“Hey Clyde, when are you going to get the hell outta here man?” he asked me peering out the gym door.  “You don’t belong here.  You got something man, more than most here.”

“I aint got nothing.  You know that.  The old lady has been dead two years, all I got is Tasha,” I explain while taking a drag of a used butt I found next to the grocery store.

“Get her outta here.  She deserves better.”

“Don’t you fuckin’ think I tried dude!  Don’t you think I want outta here.  The government aint helpin me!  My family aint here!  They are down south.  I got nothin’ man.  Just her.  Why you ask me that, you know my story.  Leave me be fool.”

I stomp the butt out after my last drag and make my way back across the gym to Tasha.

“Time to get up sweetie, we gotta make it to the homeless shelter to get you a shower.”

“Good morning papa” she says with her pretty smile.

Breaks my heart every time I see that smile.  How did we end up here?  How did I allow this to happen?  I know she deserves a much better life.  Anything would be better. Panhandling. Hunger. The elements.  This is our life.  Alcoholism took my wife.  It took us away from a home.  A job.  A life.  It gave us this.

Her hug snaps me out of my thoughts.  She loves me unconditionally.

“I love you papa.”

“And I love you.  Very much.”

“Let me get our things together Tasha, then we’ll go.”  I pull some pop tarts out of my rucksack and hand them to her.  They are strawberry, her favorite.  I managed to steal them from the store down the street.  I put our possessions into the shopping cart and we walk across the gym.  We approach Clarence who still is guarding entrance.  “Can you keep an eye on our things please.”

“Sure”, Clarence said.  “And a beautiful good morning to you Miss Tasha.”

“Good Morning Mr. Clarence, have a wonderful day today,” she replies with her smile.

“You sure are a pretty thing.  You have a good day now.  You hear me.”

“I sure will Mr. Clarence.”

As we exit the gym into the sunny fall morning we walk to the nearby shelter for some food and to shower.  I check in the front desk and the clerk says I must talk to the social worker on duty before I can use the facilities.  “This was a new service to the shelter that started earlier in the week.  New city regulations,” he explains, “in order for us to keep the shelter open.”

Our wait is brief and we enter the office of a lady named Ms. Troutman.  She explains a new program to me where Tasha would be housed in foster care and I would go to a type of half-way house with visitation rights while I get help starting life over. This is my little ray of hope coming true.  I agree to the program as long as I can see her daily.

“She will get a great family to take care of her while you get your life in order.  With our help of course.  Then after the state deems you fit and able to provide for her needs, she can return to your care.  It’s that easy,” she explains.

I ask Tasha her thoughts.  She looks at me and says, “Papa, I don’t want to live a night without you by my side.  I don’t care if I am hungry and cold.”

But Tasha dear,” Ms. Troutman says, “you will be able to see your dad daily.  I promise.”

“No thank you ma’am.  I’ll stay with my papa.  I believe in him.  We will be ok. Come on Papa, let’s get a shower and go.”

We stand and thank the social worker then do our deeds at the shelter.  A nice shower with soap and shampoo.  We eat a decent breakfast including orange juice.  We take our place at our usual corner to raise money for todays’ meal. Then we return to the gym by evening to sleep amongst the other homeless residents.  We have lived another day. Alcohol may have taken lots from us, but it has yet to take away love.  We survived.

Constructive criticism welcomed @ greigronald64 @ gmail.com  TY

Storch-Badge

This is fiction written for Master Class #4.  The story must begin with “We slept in what had once been the gymnasium” from Margret Atwood’s classic, The Handmaid’s Tale.