Retro Thursday 5-20-2021

 BY ATHLING2001

The Little Prince On Essential Matters

“Grown-ups love figures… When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? ” Instead they demand “How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? ” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”

It seems to me knowing about butterflies, games, and the sound of somebody’s voice are much more important than knowing a weight, an age or even money.  Money doesn’t make friends, at least not the kind of friends I’d want. Frankly, I hate figures, whither it is a math problem or figuring out my checkbook.  Thank goodness for on-line banking so I no longer have to struggle monthly with the hell of balancing; I do much better checking my account daily and keeping the balance in my head.  That way, my math output is limited and that brings me happiness.

I am proud to say I never questioned my sons about their friend’s parents – unless it was to clarify in my mind I was thinking of the right persons. I never asked about weight or height.  I decided once another boy was not the appropriate friend and, covertly, gave my son’s regrets to his birthday party.  Realistically, my son was 7 or 8 and this boy cursed in ever sentence.  Not something I wanted my child around.

I don’t, however, remember asking about those essential matters.  What does essential mean?  According to the dictionary:

: extremely important and necessary

: very basic

We all know this.  The words isn’t unusual or vague.  But looking at the definition in black and white it struck me that essential matters are extremely important and yet very basic.  Food, clothes, shelter. A purposeful life and the ability to find happiness inside. Our health.  Family. Friends. Love. Peace.

It all boils down to balance.  Is my life balanced? Can I somehow find the fine line between my life, my work and my son’s still living at home.  Am I content in my work? Do I care about butterflies and voices and games?

Yes, yes, I believe I do.

Retro Thursday 5-13-2021

When is it acceptable, if ever, to break the law?

I am not a law-breaker. That doesn’t mean that sometimes, in the darkest recesses of my heart, I don’t want to break the law. There are times the law is ridiculous. There are times when it would be so much easier not to abide by the law, but regardless, I was raised to know right from wrong.

To be totally truthful, I do break a couple minor laws. I drive 5-10 miles over the speed limit, mostly just to keep from being the slowest car on the road. Sometimes, I jay-walk. And, once or twice, I haven’t picked up my dog’s poop during a walk. In my defense, the poop was not on the sidewalk or anybody’s yard. It was in some brush on a strip of undeveloped land. So, I didn’t. Turn me in if you must!

I wouldn’t be a good criminal. I don’t like confrontation and I don’t do well in stressful, strange situations. This isn’t why I don’t break the law, but it helps.

As started above, some laws can be strange. Mostly because these are outdated laws which no longer fit into the reality of the modern world. For instance, in Alaska, it is illegal to wake a sleeping bear to take a photo.  In California, a frog which dies in a frog-jumping competition cannot be legally eaten. In Florida, if you tie an elephant to a parking meter, you must  pay the meter the same as you would for a car.

Silly, right? Definitely. These laws make me wonder about the sanity of some lawmakers in those days of old. How many elephants were wandering around Florida? And if you woke up that sleeping bear in Alaska, you wouldn’t need to worry about being arrested or fined. As for the frog, I guess competition frogs needs to be buried with honors or some such thing. Duty to the nation of Frogs.

These laws are so laughable that if I did have an elephant in Florida, I’d tie him to the parking meter and just walk away. What cop is going to stick a ticket on an elephant?

But, how about breaking serious laws, those laws made to safeguard the health, safety, prosperity and lives of the general populace of any country. Would I kill someone?

Maybe. If I was threatened or my children or family were threatened, I might have to step up and break that law. Stealing? If I was homeless and destitute I might consider stealing food. I might consider sleeping someplace safe but against the law.

As much as my wicked side (and/or characters) like to fantasize about breaking the law, being law-abiding is so deeply ingrained that I never would. As for characters, I do have criminals in my worlds. Most of them are not main characters, but a few are. Deanie O’Conner is a Irish Mob Boss during Prohibition.  I have some young folks who have done some really stupid things. A detective or two who has stepped over the line for the greater good.

My desire as a writer, and my tendency, is to look for and explore the moments which change a person’s life. Make bad people better, or good people bad. What moment was it that Deanie became, not just a ruthless Mob Boss, but a compassionate man, a family man, a man who cared enough about his children to walk away from his former life. Who tried to make things better for his ’employees’ rather than worse.

When would you break the law, if ever? And do you have any criminal characters for whom breaking the law is just a way of life?

Retro Thursday 5-6-2021

 BY ATHLING2001

How Do you Kill a Monster without Becoming One….

———-

It ain’t easy.  That much is for sure.  Been a long time since I killed anything but back in the day….. yeah…. back in the day…..

It came for me when I was 15.  Thought I was tough then, I did.  Big swagger as I walked down the street.   Tough words.  Angry words.  Ugly words.  Funny how when you’re young you think those things make you tough.  Don’t take me wrong.  I was a scrapper.  I’d been in any number of street fights.  All my life.  Thought that made me tough, too.  How little I knew.

It came on a Monday.  I was home.  Had to be.  My little sister was there.  Didn’t like to leave her alone at night.  Not if I could help it.  We had day-old hot dogs for dinner.  A dented can of baked beans.  Marshmellow fluff. 

Lived in a series of rooms. Used to be offices when the building was a warehouse. One central room with a hotplate, couple broke-back chairs. A table. A radio. Another room with two mattresses on the floor. A bathroom that worked. Barely. But enough for water to clean and cook. I’d installed locks on the doors. Kept us safe so far. Then again, I wasn’t asleep yet.

Been years now. Too many. Never did find my little sister. I looked for her sometimes. All the times. That face in the crowd. A voice across a street. A dream of before I’d become a monster. But now… now I am old. Haven’t killed in years.

Weren’t killing that’d made me a monster. No. Abandoning her did. Ran when the Government people finally tracked us down. Gonna take us into the system. Foster homes. Schools. The ‘right’ life. Couldn’t take that. And so I ran.

She screamed. Begged. Tears. Never did forget that. Never did forget the sound of tears. Sound rang in my ears the rest of my days. Still there now. But it’s gonna be gone soon.

Soon. Another breath. Two. Another tear. I’ll no longer be a monster.

Retro Thursday 4-29-2021

What does it mean to be strong?

What does it mean to be strong? There are many kinds of strength. Physical strength. Mental strength. Psychological strength. Strength in math or writing or baseball. We all know what strength means, or do we?

The Dictionary defines strength as:

1the quality or state of being strong: capacity for exertion or endurance

2power to resist force: solidity, toughness

3power of resisting attack:

4legal, logical, or moral force;

5: strong attribute or inherent asset

6degree of potency of effect or of concentration (chili peppers in varying strengths) intensity of light, color, sound, or odor; vigor of expression; force as measured in numberseffective numbers of anybody or organization (an army at full strength).

7one regarded as embodying or affording force or firmness

8maintenance of or a rising tendency in a price levelfirmness of prices (the strength of the dollar).

9: basis—used in the phrase on the strength of (from strength to strength); vigorously forwardfrom one high point to the next.

Strength is inundated into our very being. We are expected to be strong, men and women both. Weakness is not tolerated in this world of succeed or fail.

The strength of our leaders, whether political, clerical, movie stars or sports heroes, has been transformed over the years. Men and women in positions of strength, whether mental or physical, are falling to weaknesses like wood into a chipper. Most people can name at least ten, probably twenty or more, leaders who have fallen from grace. Strength has come to mean invulnerability to many of those in positions of strength.

They are no more immune to attack and destruction than anybody else in this world. They are just better at pretending. There is no strength without weakness. Weakness is the ability to bend but not break. We all need to be strong and weak in equal measure. Those in power who feel that they cannot be torn down are broken because they refuse to bend.

Light cannot be strong without comparison with dimness. A chili pepper can’t be hot without the comparison of mild. An army can’t be strong if they are never willing to bend and fight another day. Phalanxes which fight to the death look impressive, but when the battleground is layered with bodies, what then? Was their strength well used?

One can’t be strong without having been weak. Otherwise, how would know you were strong? Currency can’t be strong without also being weak, even if we’d prefer it not weaken. One cannot go from strength to strength without first having been weak.

I hope that what we are seeing is a revolution against those who hold all the strength, those men and woman who wield strength to benefit them, not those who watch them or elected them or pay their salaries. Those people who think the rules and laws, not of nations, but of humanity, don’t apply to them.

In order for all of humanity to be strong, we must all be strong and weak. There is no strength in millions of people starving or having no safe place to live, no safe water or food, the security of knowing they are safe from the strength of those who would destroy them. Millions of tribesman murdered because they belong to the ‘wrong’ tribe. Strength?

Children bought and sold. Strength?

A finger on the Red Button? Strength?

Torturing an animal? Strength?

No to all the above, but many people will think strength.

This world will not survive on strength alone, no matter what definition you give to the word. So when you think about strength, remember that weakness can be as powerful as strength. Make sure you learn to be weak in order to be strong.

Retro Tuesday 1-21-2020

Daily Post One Word Prompt – Gone -January-3-2017

Gone

He’d been gone for two months when she realized he wasn’t coming back. The thought confused her. Why wouldn’t he come back? Was something wrong with their marriage? Her? Was something wrong with her?

Hadn’t she cooked his meals, cleaned the house, everything he didn’t have time to do when he was working so hard. Eighty hours some weeks. He never listened when she tried to talk about working less, being home more. They didn’t talk about anything anymore. He ate alone, often at 10 or 11 at night. He worked weekdays. Weekends. Holidays. Sometimes all night.

Has she not done enough? Was it her fault?

Slowly, she realized he had abandoned her, abandoned their home, their life, but mostly her. She’d nagged too much. Fussed about clothes left on the floor. By the hamper. Dishes left on the kitchen counter. By the dishwasher. Towels on the bathroom floor. The way stress was wearing him thin.

She’d tried to do right. Tried to support him, to help him. God knows, she loved him, even if he didn’t seem to want her anymore.

It occurred to her he had met someone, some woman, someone who listened to him and loved him, who wasn’t too tired when he got home to have sex. It didn’t matter what she wanted, at least not in the last year. Before then, everything had seemed perfect.

She loved him with all her heart and soul and life. He’d provided for her, for them, given her a huge house, two fancy cars in the garage, a pasture and barn for her horses. Romantic trips to far away places. Parties. Gala openings for movies and the theater. Anything she’d wanted, he’d given her.

Until this year.

She must have changed. He didn’t love her anymore.

She spent the next few weeks crying, frantically looking for him. Calling his cell. His office. His family. No body knew where he was and he never answered his cell. When his voice mail got too full to take any more messages, she stopped calling.

His boss told her he’d quit his job months before he’d disappeared, but couldn’t tell her why. He’d come in one day, given notice and walked back out the door. That was the last time anybody in the office had seen him.

It was then she realized he’d been planning to disappear for a long time. Had he lain in their bed late at night, thinking about how he was going to leave her? Anxious to be with the other woman?

Was the woman one of their friends? Somebody at his Office? A chance meeting at the Coffee Shop? If she just knew who and why, she might be able to accept his loss. As it was, his leaving left a hole in her life and her heart which she knew would never be filled. He was the only man she’d ever loved. The man she’d given herself to on their wedding night, the only man she’d ever been with.

After six months, she woke knowing she had to go on with her life. Either give up and die or move on. She’d tried to kill herself once, speeding around the narrow mountain curves, planning to drive off the road, but she been too afraid to go through with her plan.

She bought a farm out in the country. Sold the house and everything inside. Sold the fancy automobiles and bought herself a second-hand car. Donated all their fancy clothes. Sold her jewelry, the silver, all his things. Moved herself and her horses to the farm to start anew.

She adopted a dog from the Shelter. And a cat. Bought chickens and built a chicken coop by herself, complete with banged thumbs, frustrations, screaming fits, crying, mis-cut boards, broken nails. Back to the lumber store time after time, determined to succeed. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but she’d done it herself. She even thought about getting a cow. Maybe some fainting goats.

At the end of the first month on the farm, near the end of the first year since his disappearance, her phone rang at midnight…

Part One of “Gone,” a novella by CS Knotts