Story -Abandoned Retreat (rough draft)

story being developed…Working titles Retreat or Abandoned Abode or Maybe The Lost One or Abandoned Retreat


CHAPTER 1 THE RETREATER VS. THE TRAITOR

There are many places abandoned for various reasons.

“Ya gotta know when to retreat.”, Andrew Phillips reported via his local Internet radio show.

Some said Andrew was just plan crazy. Others claimed he was a great activist and could actually be instrumental in making the planet a better place to live. A loner, he moved up into the mountains and was rarely seen, if at all. Even if people did see him they wouldn’t recognize him. No one had the ability to see his face through the cable and satellite network he broadcasted through nonetheless, he was known and heard by many around the world as his voice traveled through cyberspace. Fans had unofficial t-shirts and bumper stickers made with some of Andy’s quotes, they didn’t asks for permission they just felt like they were helping promote him and his cause. Occasionally you’d see a shirt that read things such as,

“Come apart before you fall apart.”

“Separate Yourself”

“No man is an Island but it don’t hurt to be an Island Dweller.”

Often misunderstood Andrew wasn’t trying to change the world, just better his relationship with the planet and live a simpler life. At one point he thought that he had to live in the crowded city in order to survive. Through his broadcast Andrew simply shared his own thoughts about life. His programs were a reminder to others about their basic needs: food, water, shelter and love. He always kept it simple, not theological, philosophical or preachy just one man sharing an alternative lifestyle with those who tuned in to listen. Some wanted him to be the dooms day sayer he wasn’t. Although what he talked about was clear people would distort his words and some would add or take away from what he was saying, making things much more complicated than Andrew ever intended.

Some were annoyed with him, but then again they were the same ones who were agitated with any kind of wildlife that kept them from enjoying living a wild life. They sprayed to kill the honey bees as a sacrifice and wonder now why their flowers don’t bloom.

Andrew was not bitter or working to boycott modern progress. He did not try to fight a battle to keep up with the Jone’s or try to stop corporations, industries & factories from pumping the environment with toxins he just did his best to do his small part in keeping his carbon footprints as small as possible. He ended today’s broadcast with saying, “Nature is still evolving, people forget humans are part of nature and very often we are the worst offender toward mother nature, too easily throwing away what The Creator had given. While other animals follow instincts and the food chain, it is my observation that homosapians seem to try and dominant all that has been created.” Andy relayed to the general public what life was like living in nature, being part of it, surviving off the land while still preserving it, not perverting it. The crab claws he ate came from crabs who regenerated their claws. His supply was never exhausted because he’d take only the claw and throw the crab back. That is where the phrase, “Grab the claw not the crab.” came from. He didn’t take credit nor give credit to anyone. He depended on the provisions given naturally from the creator of all things.


CHAPTER 2 THE TRADING POST

One beautiful sunny day while in the small local town store Andrew was picking up a few items and over heard some tourist visiting the area. They were discussing what fire works to buy. Andrew’s only hope was that they’d buy the biodegradable ones if they were not willing to search, find and clean up all the debris left behind after the fun. The 4th of July brought with it many dangers. In an attempt to celebrate freedom in this great land, all too often people would leave behind empty bottles, cans, food wrappers, even clothing and other various items that would not only litter the shore lines and woods but cause harm to the wildlife. He had rescued more birds and aquatic creatures than he could count from plastic bags, straws and six pack holders. The tourist, he made note of today, were also buying ammunition for their guns and bows. Although many were responsible and enjoyed their recreational activities responsibly he could tell this group, or at least half of them, was not planning on being held accountable for their reckless activity. As some ignored no trespassing signs they would make it hard for those reclusive. While at the counter checking out he could hear one of them talking about how much they missed the internet. They expressed, “I hope that the camp grounds have a free wifi signal.” He wondered if they ever came across his internet radio broadcast. Just then one said, “I heard Andrew Phillips broadcast from up here somewhere!” Another said, “Maybe we’ll find out where he lives and give him a private firework show.” The clerk knew Andrew personally and was aware that he treasured his anonymity so she did not give hint to his very presence. He was glad to hear another one say, “I heard him talking about biodegradable items, let’s try to pick some of those things up.” He was blessed to hear that he had made some impact on their awareness. Andrew was picking up some fishing hooks he knew would dissolve in the waters if lost. He delayed his browsing in order to not got to the counter at the same time as the others. “JUST MAKE SURE I GOT ENOUGH BEER AND BULLETS!”, one man shouted. Andrew looked up and saw that they were not all together. It sounded as if they were all camping in tents but perhaps on different sites from each other. The loud one pushed his way past those waiting in line to pay and said, “leme’ in here to see what they got behind the counter, I’m not cuttin’ ya line I jus’ wanna see.” He was slurring his speech. The bells on the door jingled as Jethro, the local sheriff deputy, entered and the group was glad to be exiting. The pushy man decided he didn’t want anything so he made his way out too. As he passed the uniformed man he let out a snide remark just loud enough to be heard in an attempt to make his friends giggle, “It’s the law, oink, oink.” Jethro was use to all that and little did they know he had already written their license plate number down, run it and knew much more about them than they knew about him. Jethro greeted the clerk then Andy as he went over to the self serve coffee section. Andrew made his way to the cashier. While Andrew was paying Jethro approached with his full cup of fairly fresh brewed coffee asking, “What’d they buy Sue?” She replied, “Just a sec. I’ll print out ‘nother receipt Jeth.” Jethro made light conversation with Andrew as she ran his items through, “So Andy, ya give them a guided tour through the bio section of our store?” Andrew said, “No I think the huge sign above it is enough.” “Yeah, ha ha, it is rather large ‘init? Ya gonna mention them in our show?” Andrew didn’t want to answer but smirked as he said, “Maybe… in a around about way.” Sue interjected, “They was’fans! One knew Andy lived up in des’parts.” Jethro raised his eye brows commenting, “Ya don’t say?! Gonna have em’ ovr’ fo’ some tea Andy? Haa Haa.” Andrew gathered the paper bags with his new purchases as he gave a definite answer, “That would be a no.” “Okay Andy, take it easy and good fishin’ to ya.”, Jethro gave his farewell. “Thanks, enjoy your coffee and be careful out there Jethro. Thanks Sue, good on ya then.”, Andrew said as he exited the store, leaving Jethro and Sue to their jobs and general gossip. The bells above the door jingled again as it slammed close. Jethro addressed Sue, “Good thing ya got the automatic door off, don’t wanna deal with any critters comin’ in uninvited again.” Sue confirmed that, “Yeah, the moose are bad enough, but the coons! I really hate those adorable creatures. Talk about snatch and grab, they worse than the teenagers!” Jethro was distracted watching Andrew get on his bike and arranging the bags in the front and back baskets, “I don’t see how he does it.” Sue asked, “What? Ride a bike?” Jethro accepted the insult but clarified, “No, not jus’ that but the whole livin’ alone and off the land thing.” Sue said, “He normally jus’ buys seed n’ stuff, a few basic items that help him a lil’. Really nice guy. Always polite and…well, I think he’s kinda cute.”, she blushed a little as she ran a copy of the receipt from what the tourists bought for Jethro to check. The door opened again then quickly closed as a few teens came in. One saw Jethro and turned to exit again banging into the closed door. The bells on the top jingled louder than normal. Jethro pursued the teen, catching him just outside the door. Their conversation was muted behind the front window of the store. The other teens tried to act as if they weren’t trying to see and hear what happen as they stuck their heads in the cooler filled with wildly colored beverages. Sue kept her head on a swivel between the drama out front and the teens who would always try to pull a fast one on her. She asked them, “What he do?!” They acted as if they didn’t hear her. Jethro came back in as the other boys went down a far isle trying to avoid eye contact. Sue looked at their pockets to make sure the weren’t bulging with one of the drinks or a candy bar. They scurried out front and met back up with the one that was questioned a few moments ago. As the door closed behind them the bells jingled and one fell to the ground. Jethro picked it up. While the deputy was reaching up to reconnect it Sue asked, “What he do?” Jethro answer, “Awe, who knows. The way he spun ’round to avoid comin’ in I figure I’d give ’em a 3rd degree.” Sue held out the 2 separate proofs of purchases from earlier, “Wanna take these? I don’t think they were all together, either two or three groups but only two purchases made. I was ready to not sell any beer to the one, he was already lit beyond a buzz but I sold it to some. I think he was with em’.” Jethro thanked her as he looked over the items and explained, “This el’ hep’ me if they leave behind any trash. Proof is in the paper work.” Sue nodded. He thanked her and laid some change on the counter to pay for his coffee, “Call me if ya’ need me.” “Ya know I will!” Sue said as the door closed behind him and the same bell fell from it’s cluster.

Andrew was making his way up the trail with his few supplies, getting off his bike to walk it in the areas that were too steep to peddle. He heard campers raising a ruckus not far from the hidden path he was on. Their noise pollution cause a flock of birds to pass over head in frantic flight as a few wild turkeys ran on foot across the well worn dirt fairway Andrew used to get to his own cabin. He heard a loud, BANG, BANG! followed by laughter as he covered his head to avoid the buck shot that rained down on him. Andrew couldn’t wait to get to the safe haven of his cabin. He climbed the steps and brought his bike inside with him. To a spectator the place looked abandoned and keeping the bike inside gave the impression that no one lived there. The satellite dish was in the back, hidden from site, allowing Andrew to communicate with the world but not attract attention. Andrew was a perfect example of living in the world but not of it. He didn’t close himself off completely but made sure to offer a solution rather than pollution.

The rowdy party camping near by could be heard even once Andrew as inside his cabin. He fired up his computer and put on some tea. His mind went back to Jethro’s voice in his head as he heard, “Ya gonna invte em’ ovr’ fo’ some tea? Haa Haa” Andrew went to his front window and looked out to see if he could see anyone. He hoped that the mountainside and trees would keep them at a distance but knew their curiosity of what was around their site would cause them to wonder onto his property uninvited. He sat down to start his broadcast, “Hello again, this is Andrew Phillips with ‘Nature Talks’, your daily broadcast on all things nature and natural. I met three people today. Each one may very well represent the three kinds of personalities and traits we all posses. One was cold, arrogant and selfish, the second was warm, selfless and aware of others needs; while the third was caught in the middle. It would probably benefit all of us if we were either hot or cold, it is the lukewarm (caught in the middle) that scares me. The cold person is predictable. You know they are not going to play well with others. The warm person is actually comforting and their heat spreads to others making things nice and hot. The lukewarm person is like that stagnant water found near Cherokee creek. You can drink the nearby cold springs and you can drink from the warm springs but the creek has areas that don’t have any intake or output of fresh water, that stuff will make you sicker than a dog. Don’t be that person who is stuck in the middle and easily swayed by either side. Make up your mind who and how you want to be and be that person, not tossed between the two or stuck in the middle without a stance, stagnant. Today I hope to flow into you some helpful information about the nature all around us and how we can be its friend not it’s foe, right after this short music interlude.” He clicked the music icon on his desktop and let the Native American music play, giving him a chance to sip some tea.

Jethro was in his squad car looking over the two receipts. a few of the items caused him to raise some flags but it was mostly junk food, a few dvds and various beverages. Jethro loved his job as much as he hated it. As the sun came in through his side window it hit his weathered skin and slowly cooked it just a little more. He reached for his C.B. and called Randy, “Sheriff Randy, comin…” There was no reply. He mashed the button and tried again, “Sheriff Randy, ya gottcha ears on?” He waited a few seconds then heard the Sheriff squawk back, “Yeah, I’m here good buddy, whatcha got? Over.” “Fireworks purchased, not sure if tent of cabin dwellers but they in them woods either way.”, Jethro reported, knowing what his bosses reply would be. He could almost mouth the words as the Sheriff shouted, “DEPUTY, WHAT IN THE SAM HILLS? WHY WE SELLN’ THOSE IN THE DRY SEASON FOOOR!?” It was a rhetorical question. Jethro and Randy knew that was something they’d have to get onto the city council about. He calmed himself down then asked, “You seen Andrew?” That question was not rhetorical and required a quick sure answer. Jethro reported, “Yes sir. He just got some hooks, seed and…and uh…” Jethro was searching his memory to recall what he saw Andrew put on the counter. “AND WHAT?!”, His chief insisted. Jethro couldn’t recall so tried to make something up, “Oh, and some…soda.” “SODA? Really?! If you’re gonna make somethin’ up at least make id’ believable Deputy.” Jethro knew he had been caught, “Ah, I dunno’ I saw Fish hooks and Sue said seed and…not sure what else.” “FIND OUT, THAT WHAT WE PAY YA FOOOR!” came the command. “Yes, yes sir, I’ll find out.” The sheriff always kept tabs on people but didn’t trust Andrew especially. He thought for sure the whole mountain man, tree huggin’, naturalist was an act and if anyone ended up being shot it was going to be Andrew taking the law into his own hands wanting to teach them a lesson for being a liter bug. Jethro had been in Andrew’s house and spent enough personal time with him to know he wouldn’t harm a fly but rather make sure that fly had enough to keep its eco system in tacked. “Anythin’ else?”, Asked Randy. Jethro replied, “Not yet. Watchin’ the sun set on the west side a mount Inka, over.” “Do more than watch the sun, watch those speeders and tweakers, don’t let em’ burn our forest down! OVER AND OUT!” “Roger sir, over and out.” Jethro hung up his mouth piece. He knew he’d have to give an accurate report of the last item or two Andrew bought because the questions would come later and he had better have the answer. The trail to Andy’s place was not wide enough for a car so rather than hike up to ask Andrew personally he knew he had to go back to the trading post and ask Sue if she still had a receipt or could recall by memory. That was okay, he needed a refill on his coffee anyway.



CHAPTER 3 LANDLORDS AND LANDHOARDS

The air filled with the fragrance of open camp fires and fireplaces. Various caretakers were counting their money from those renting cabins and camp sites while their assistance tried the cell phone numbers of those who had not shown up yet. Molly, one of the maids grumbled, “If they ain’t here by now they gonna have a hard time setting up in the dark. Half of em’ I can’t reach.” Mark, a part owner said, “No cell service in some parts.” “I know, UGH!” She replied in frustration. Mark’s wife, Sally, worked the boat docks mainly. She was tiny but fit. She informed him, “I locked all the canoes and kayaks together this time, that one longer cable made it much easier…did ya hear me?” Mark nodded and tried to respond, “Fifty two, fifty three…yeah, fitty’ four, fifty five…yeah okay honey, good. The group on lot 74 site ‘A’ paid separate from site ‘B’. I think the ones on the ‘B’ side are gonna be a handful, better give Jethro a heads up.” Sally said, “I bet he allllready knows but wouldn’t hurt to make sure. Molly, wanna give him a ring?” Molly replied, “The hand radio club reached him with a report of some stranger danger worries about the tourist but I’ll use the C.B. to tell him where we think problems could arise.” Sally thanked her, “You are a doll! Tacos for dinner all?” Mark was still counting and just responded nonverbally with an emphatic nod while Molly cheered, “Taco Friday!”

The campers on lot 74 site ‘A’ were already set up and settled in while site ‘B’ were still struggling to set up their tent with the last bit of day light disappearing quickly. Those from the ‘A’ side tried to help but were bullied away by their less friendly friends who grumbled about how much they hated nature. ‘The Oak Filled Fishing Camp’ was a great retreat for city folks to get out into nature and enjoy either roughing it in one of the 100 tent sites or rent one of the 5 small cabins. Closer to the lake were a few cottages that were the farthest from the front entrance and the furthest thing from roughing it. The cottages were very nice and cost a pretty penny to rent. This weekend Mark and his staff were not able to rent them out so they were empty. Those staying on the “B” side of lot 74 were already planning on breaking in there. One of them, Brock, kept saying, “If they are empty why should we not go stay in there?” One of his friends, Ken, from side “A” gave the answer, “Because we didn’t pay for that. We paid for the tent site.” He knew that fell on deaf ears and there was not much he could do to keep his friend from doing whatever he wanted. Brock argued, “It’s not fair, no one’s going to know. Why waste the space. We’re going in there tonight!” Ken clarified, “Not we. Maybe you but not me.” Brock just went on to persuade some of his more pliable friends to join him in his venture. Ken stood firm as he went into one of the tents on side “A” of lot 74. Andrew’s broadcast was coming over one of the cell phones. Ken was about to give his friends a heads up about Brocks plans when on said, “Wait…Phillips is coming back on.” They listened as Andrew said, “Annnd, I’m back. It is the 4th of July weekend up here in the mountains, for those in the U.S. listening to my broadcast, I am positively sure it is the 4th of July weekend where you are as well. As a matter of fact, it is the 4th of July weekend everywhere in world right now but in America we celebrate our independence on that particular day. Today is Friday July 2nd, regardless of where you are listening from. I know that is not significant for those outside the U.S.A., however, for many of us it means planning a celebration. Those in Mexico, Brazil, Canada…where ever you are imagine one of your holidays, a time to get together with friends, perhaps do something a little different and participate in various activities reserved for that time of the year. A very common part of our July 4th activities involves cooking outside and setting off fireworks. Both of these activities are fun but once again I want to remind everyone to be careful, use caution. Here are just 5 precautions I would recommend to keep you from ending up in an emergency ward with serious injuries: #1 Drink responsible. Everyone knows their limits and only you can stop when you’ve had so much that you are no longer able to function. Know your boundaries and stick to them. Set up some personal guard rails that will keep you from going off the side of a mountain. #2 Just as there is such a thing as too much alcohol there is also such a thing as too much liter fluid. While cooking out make sure you got your grill under control. #3 while on the subject of fire, keep in mind that some areas have not received much rain this summer and although a fire pit is great anytime of the year, make sure you’ve got a barrier like a hole, rocks and maybe even a screen on top to keep embers and flames from rising too high. Watch small children around those open fires too. They can easily stumble and end up in the fire. If you have adults that are unstable, you may want to keep an eye on them too. We can all help each other here. #4 Don’t feed the wild animals, ladies I don’t mean your boyfriends, I mean everything from the bares to the raccoons to the birds and various critters you will find outside. They find food just fine on their own, they don’t need your help and feeding them removes the natural barrier between domestic and undomesticated. They are not pets. As cute as they can be they are still not tame. and last but not least, #5 Fireworks. We all like a good bang but depending on your area there are even laws to help protect you from yourself. Just because you were sold fireworks that doesn’t mean it was a legal transaction. Regardless of where you bought them that doesn’t mean that it is legal to set them off in that area. Even if you don’t check the local laws check your own good common senses. If you know the are is dry and not safe for fire and fireworks then do not take the chance or risk in shooting them off. Also, rather than a lighter or matches if you are lighting them off remember a simple incent stick gives you the distance you need to light a wick in a much safer manner. Speaking of manners, those apply to all these 5 simple precautions and more. This has been Andrew Phillips with Nature Talks, I hope you are listening. Thank you once again. God bless America, as well as all other countries, and you, bless God.” He clicked on his closing music icon and that ended his broadcast.

Jethro made it back to the trading post just as Sue was locking up. Noticing him pull up she shook her head giving him the stink eye. She shouted at him, “NOPE, TOO LATE! YA KNOW I CLOSE AT SUNDOWN!” He spoke through his open squad car window, “I know, I know, jus’ wanna ask ya something.” She turned as he asked, “You recall what Andy bought?” She replied, “Hooks, Seed, and cherry bombs.” He laughed sarcastically, “HA HA! Come on Sue, Sheriff gonna hand me my badge then hang me if I don’t let em’ know real answer.” She assured him, “That is the real answer.” Jethro asked for clarity, “Ya mean Cherries?” “NO! Cherry Bombs. Biodegradable explosives wrapped in biodegradable cardboard.” “Your serious?!” “Yeah, probably uses them to scare away critters, pest, predators and…” Jethro finished her sentence, “…and people. Ok, thanks! See ya t’morrow Sue.” He raised his window and sped off, kicking up a little dirt with his tiers.


CHAPTER 4 “SPACE INVADERS”

As Andrew was about to light some lanterns he heard a knock on his door. He didn’t get many visitors and if he didn’t have the music playing he would had heard them coming before they reached the front porch. He went to his console before going to the door and turned everything off then covered it with a tarp. They knocked again. He called, “I’M COMIN’!” He peeked through the front window making eye contact with a face peeking back. Bother jumped back. Before opening the door he said, “Can I help you?” a timid voice replied, “Is this where Andrew Phillips from Nature Talks lives?” He knew he could just say no but didn’t want to be dishonest. He had been down that road before. He simply replied, “I can’t greet a stranger as a long lost friend.” The 2nd voice pleaded, “We…we just wanna meet you and…and thank, thank you for your show.” He knew they probably just wanting to satisfy some curiosity and most likely meant know harm, however, he preferred to remain reclusive and no have anyone know where he lived and operated. He waited and thought through his actions. The dead air spoke loudly and the uninvited guest knew they were invading his proxemics. Andrew asked, “What…what do you want?” As the words came out he realized that they had already informed him but he was stalling for time. The less timid one answered, “We just…we are fans.” He looked down at his feet and put his hand on the inside front door knob. He was searching his brain for a question only a fan would know then replied, “I have A/C. I don’t need any fans.” He smirked at his own answer as they did too. He waited another moment then announced, “How about I ask you a question and if you answer correctly I let you in?” They agreed. He said, “Lemme think…uh…How often do you listen?” They answered in unison, “All the time!” He replied, “Ok…that will make it easier…uh…What is the best way to catch a fish?” The male voice said, “With a hook, A BIODIGRATABLE hook!” The female corrected him, “No, with Annette! Remember he said he went fishing with ‘a net’ and we thought he was saying the girl’s name Annette.” The Male confirmed, “Ooooh yeah, haha…YES, and patience.” The were pleased with their answers and so was Andrew. The door opened slowly.

Andrew welcomed them in, “I don’t have many visitors, I prefer to be left alone honestly.” They apologized. Andrew clarified, “No, no, I don’t mind if people visit for the right reason, but, like I said, I can’t greet a Stanger like a long awaited friend. I guess I don’t need to tell you this but, I am Andrew Phillips and you are…” “I am Ken and this is my girlfriend Kerri.” Kerri was a bit more shy than ken and she was a little star struck. Andrew could tell by her eyes that she was a little more excited than normal. HE thought to himself, if I didn’t do the broadcast would she be as excited to see me and my place. “Thank you for the introductions Ken. Kerri, ya know I am just a below average human who happens to share his feelings across the globe…that doesn’t make me worthy of awe.” She blushed a little and apologized for her obvious envy. She spoke softly as if she didn’t want to be obtrusive, “Thank you Mr. Phillips. Thank you for letting us in and for your broadcasts. We want to live like this, or at least a little more like this, one with nature and away from the rat race. Oh my gosh I can’t believe we are actually in your studio, your house. You do live here too right?” Ken put his arm around her as he spoke to Andrew, “I…we are sorry Mr. Phillips we are a little…a little nervous and excited to meet a celebrity like you. YOU are awesome.” Andrew asked them to have a seat as he said, “Celebrity? I am just Andrew, not Mister Phillips and although I maybe well known by some I wouldn’t consider myself to be a celebrity. Would you like some coffee of tea?” They nodded. Ken patted Kerri’s shoulder because he could tell she was about to rapid fire questions off at Andrew. As Andrew went to the kitchen she tapped Ken’s leg with excitement. She whispered their host wouldn’t hear, “Oooh…myyy… gossshh, are we really here? Is that really him? I have soooo many questions.” Ken patted her again and with his face and brow gave her the, “I know. Calm Down. BE cool and quite.” Andrew inquired, “Which do you prefer, coffee or tea?” Ken spoke up, “Oh, ahhhh…what ever you have.” “I have both.” “Oh…ah, okay ah, coffee, if it is no trouble.” “No trouble.” He turned on the percolator. As he measured out some beans, crushed them and was placing some homemade filters in the top he said, “You’re gonna love this. I drink more tea than coffee but boy when you get a sip of this you are going to love it.” Ken responded, “Oh yeah, I bet. fresh, natural huh?” He just to be courteous while he and Kerri’s eyes were taking mental pictures of the cabin their man of interest called home. Andrew answered, “As fresh as you can get, grow my own beans.” Once he poured the grounds in he let the old fashion machine do it’s job as he went back out to join them explaining, “I jus’ got a peculator, use to boil the beans then strain em’ out, this will be a little better for your taste perhaps. It will still be strong, hope that is okay. Can ya handle that?” Ken had not really heard what Andrew said but just agreed, “Oh, yeah, yeah. Right Kerri?” She didn’t hear Andrew or Ken but tried to reply, “Uh huh.” Andrew took a seat as well, “It will take a little while but that will give us time to talk. So, what brings you up this way?” Ken knew he better lead the conversation giving Kerri a chance to get her wits about her, “Well Mr. Phil…Andrew, we are camping down at ‘The Oak Fill Fishing Camp’…or ah ‘Filled Oak’, ya know what ever it is called…” Kerri corrected him, “Oak Filled” “Yeah. We are city folk trying to enjoy roughing it…ha, ha.” His laugh was nervous and slightly forced. Andrew replied, “Oh, that is nice. And ya knew I was in the area and decided to drop in?” Ken was apologetic again, “Yes, we are sorry. It is just that…like I said we admire your thoughts and we…” He couldn’t find the words and knew that this probably wasn’t a good idea. Andrew tried to calm them, “Listen, I get it, kinda. You like the concept and probably have a bunch of questions and…”, Kerri let out a small squeal of excitement as Andrew finished, “because your mind is captivated by what I talk about you wanted to see…see the source but honestly, I am just a simple guy, just a simple man who shares my thoughts openly and try to encourage people to treat nature a little nicer and think, be more considerate, toward the environment and in doing so they will truly be satisfied with the results.” Kerri’s eyes were sparkling. Andrew said, “Kerri, what do you do for a living?” She couldn’t believe he remembered her name and was asking her something. It took her mind a few seconds for get her lips to work, “I…me? well, I ah I am a receptionist and Ken builds stuff, a buildings, he is in construction.” Andrew said, “This is a bit weird huh? I know. Now, let’s say I called the office where you are a receptionist and was so thrilled by the way you answered my call I decided to find out where you live and paid a visit or I went to a building Ken helped build and then decided to find out where he lives to tell him how much I enjoyed his building. Right?” Andrew wasn’t annoyed and didn’t sound aggravated but he got his point across. Kerri said, “It must be weird, I know. The mystery that has been built up in our minds from hearing you and knowing so many people hear you, it jus’ got the best of us and we wanted to see for our self.” Andrew replied understandingly, “Oh, I know, I know. It is weird for you and weird for me, awkKKward.” They laughed. That broke more of the tension. Andrew added, “Now you know. Just a simple, fairly normal place, man and environment.” Ken nodded in agreement. Kerri said, “I think it is completely awesome. We don’t mean to intrude or be a pain we jus’, ugh, I am going to start repeating myself and embarrassing myself and making thingsmo re AWWWkward, haa haa.” Andrew offered words of comfort, “Actually, now that we’ve all met, I am glad you’re here and want you to feel welcome and just see that my place and I am really nothing special. This is good. You can share the truth about be and stamp out some of the misperceptions of me. When it comes right down to it I couldn’t care less about public opinion but it would be nice if everyone could see me for who and how I really am.” Ken pointed to the canvas covered equipment, “That must be your studio, your stuff where you do your show from.” The coffee started to perk. Andrew spoke as he got up, “Yeah, yeah. Yep! That’s the mother board. The dish is in the back. IT’S A BIG ONE! Has to be so I can reach further, go further. Excuse me a minute.” He called out to them from the kitchen, ” Ya take cream and sugar?” Ken said, “Sugar and cream for Kerri. I take mine black.” Andrew returned with the cups. Kerri was now able to look past all that was inside and was taking in the view of the outside. Andrew handed them their mugs as he asked, “Nice huh? Careful, it is very hot. Is it like you pictured in your minds?” Ken elbowed his girlfriend. He snapped her out of her dream world and she was able to speak more clearly, “It is amazing Mr. Phillips.” “Call me Andrew, please. Nice to get to know ya. Ya seem like a nice couple and sincerely genuine.” Andrew had hoped that he was right and not making a bad judgment of character. He knew there was a risk with showing anyone in, in fear that they could case the place to come back and steal what they confirm is in there. Their behavior didn’t raise any flags for Andrew. Ken kept the conversation going, “Part of me wondered if you really lived in the woods, in the mountains and if your stories were true or if you were in a studio surrounded by office cubicles and you were just taking us all on some imaginary journey to help us escape the crazy, busy city life and feel like there is hope beyond those walls.” Kerri was nodding as she took small sips of the hot coffee. She was glad her boyfriend was able to communicate so well. Andrew sipped his tea as he commented, “Yeah, I use to live in the city. You listen a lot so I am sure you know that. I’m not really sure what to say that you haven’t already heard but perhaps I can show you some things that are better seen than if I tried to give an audibly description. It is dark now but come back tomorrow morning if you can and I will point out a few things seen from my windows and from my backyard. I am not rushing you off but you have lights for when you hike back?” Kerri had not thought about the hike back. Ken pulled a heavy long flashlight from his oversized side leg pocket. Andrew asked, “Can I interview you?” Kerri was in shock. Just when she began to relax and the blaze of being around someone she considered a star was wearing off her level of daydreaming rose again with that question. Ken clarified, “Us? You interview us? Uh…sure I guess. Why?” Andrew said, “Interesting people find people interesting. You are really no different than me. We are all just people trying to find our way in this world. Listeners will find you two just as interesting as me. We all have traits, gifts, something to share with the world.” Kerri squealed again, “Eeekk, Oh YES.” Ken chuckled, “Calm down Kerri.” Andrew smiled and chuckled too. He went over and uncovered his console. “Now, you mean right now?!” Asked Ken in surprise. “Is that okay?” Kerri “Eeekked” again. “I take that as a yes?” Andrew laughed at her excitement. Ken said, “YEAH! But you broadcast during the daytime and once at night, you’ve already done your thing for today.” Andrew explained, “I’ll tape it and play it tomorrow. Besides, there are no rules. I’m not sponsored or paid or owned by anyone. I can do whatever I want with this show. I don’t call it THE ANDREW PHilliPS SHOW, as some have suggested I should. I call it Nature Talks because I feel like nature says so much we just don’t hear it. I’m just like a platform for her, a human mouth piece calling for peace.” The two visitors loved how Andrew thought and was able to express his feelings but not in a manner of conceit. Andrew grabbed a small pad and suggested, “Let’s map out a few questions and topics. If you don’t mind I’ll ask a few personal questions but not to revealing, just enough for people to know what you believe in and your perception and perspective of life. Ok?” They agreed and the script for the interview began to form. Simultaneously, some of Ken and Kerri’s friends back at Lot 74 Site “A” were about to form a search party for them while those on site “B” were forming a scheme to break into those exclusive luxury cottages down near the lake at “The Oak Filled Fishing Camp.”


CHAPTER 5 NIGHT VISION

Deputy Jethro was reporting back to the station. He was glad Sheriff Randy was not there. Just then the phone rang. Nancy, the clerk, answered, “Well hello Sheriff Randy!” Jethro tried to give her the cut throat signal signifying that he wasn’t there, although if not there the Sheriff would have just reached him by C.B. or cell phone anyway. “Yes Sheriff Jethro IS here.” He wished he could use his look to kill, or at least slap her. “Ok, ok. Roger that sir. Okay, I’ll tell him Sheriff, Bye.” She hung up. Jethro said, “What? HE didn’t want to ask me a million and one questions?” “No. He said for you to call him first thing in the morning.” “I’m surprised he didn’t want to know what everyone bought from the trading post, especially Andrew Phillips.” “Oh…yeah he did say to be sure and tell him that first thing in the morning when you call.” “Wow. How will he sleep tonight without knowing.” They both chuckled over how much their boss obsessed about using the trading post as a source of evidence, although many crimes in their area were solved with receipts, cameras and Intel from Sue and even those frequenting the store. “Holtz here yet?”, asked Jethro. Nancy s replied, “No, Dennis is giving him a ride. I hope they aren’t late. I am ready to get home!” Just then Eric Holtz, the deputy working the next 12 hour shift came in complaining, “Remind me not to ride with Dennis any more. I’m glad he answers the phones and runs dispatch better than he drives!” Dennis entered next. Dennis was a large heavy set man, middle aged and had one of the nicest beards anyone could ever adorn. “Heeeellow Dennis!”, greeted Nancy, holding onto the first part of the word. “Hellloooow.”, he returned the greeting, holding onto the last part of the word. Jethro was pulling out his small note book ready to give Eric a run down of his day and report anything to follow through with. Eric asked, “You get fresh coffee from Sue today?” “Of course!” Eric vented a little more, “Man, how come this small rinky dinky town don’t have a 24 place were I can get some coffee.” Dennis chimed in, “Waffle House coming soon!” Eric rolled his eyes, “Yeah, so is Christmas!” “Hey, that’s only 6 months away!” Nancy shouted just to egg him on. She was ready to give a report to Dennis. Jethro opened the side extra office he and Eric shared. They stepped in and closed the door. “Eric, Randy asked me what Phillips bought earlier and I didn’t know all the items but I found out through Sue. No big deal but the unusual item was small fire crackers, jus’ soya’ know. I don’t think they were big ones and no damage can be done with them.” Eric rolled his eyes again, “Psssh, he couldn’t hurt a fly!” “I know, I know, before ya go off on a gripe about Randy let me say, ‘I know and I agreed!’, but Randy swears the man is some how a fake and ya know he wants us to watch em’ extra close, ready to relay everything he does, says and what not and…yada yada yada…in other news, Site 74 but more so lot “B” I mean, ya know” Eric corrected the common mistake, “Lot 74 Site “B”, I knew whatcha meant.” “Yeah, local hand radio club, also Molly, Mark, Sally…oh good grief, a handful of people they all want us to know to keep an eye on them tourist…yaknow what this timma year creates.” Eric smiled, putting his hand on his friends weary shoulder, “You’ve had a long day, lemme take over now. I know locals worried anyone not like them must be a danger and all tourist are evil and the tourist think all locals are loco. Yeah, I know. Anything else burning to be known?” Jethro looked him in the eyes, “Hope nothing burns. Fireworks still being sold.” “ARRGH!”, Eric belched. “I know right?!” “Oh…no I was burpin’, but that was perfect timing if I do say so myself.” “Nice. Well, that is about it. Randy called but didn’t talk, jus’ tol’ me ta call in the morn’.” Eric said, “Saw his car at Griffen’s Grill, I think he’s on a date.” “Oooh, that explains it. Well, okay, I’ll leave you to it. Be safe.” Jethro waved good bye to Dennis and said, “Keep him good and busy Dennis, until that Waffle house comes!” Nancy was already gone. The light in their lot kept kicking on and off in long slow flickers. Jethro wondered how long it had been doing that or if it just started doing that tonight. He tried to make a mental note, “I gotta tell Randy I noticed it or…agh, man sometimes I feel like I can’t win.” He started his car and tried to stop his mind but it ran on over work related things, “If I don’t tell him he’ll say, you should have noticed it why didn’t ya. If I do tell him he’ll say, I want solutions not problems. When I do tell em’ he’ll say, I know why didn’t you do something about it before or your responsible for the grounds…agh…”, he mumbled over a few more thoughts and tried to throw it all off before he got home.

Andrew Phillips was working with Ken and Kerri on draft questions for the interview when Ken realized how late it was getting. “I better give our friends a call.” Andrew confirmed that, “Oh, yes time escapes me so often. Let them know you’re ok.” Ken reached Amanda and Mike, those friends he was sharing Lot 74 site “A” with and they gave him an ear full. “We thought you were M.I.A. Amanda was about to call and file a missing person’s report with the local Sheriff’s department, if they work this late. WHERE ARE YOU?” Ken explained that they found Andrew Phillips cabin and were going to do an interview. Mike relayed the info. to Amanda who was thrilled to know they were okay and that they would be on the show, however, she also wanted Mike to tell her about the problems they were having at the camp site. Mike said, “Ken, we are so glad for you but it’s Brock we are really worried about. We have a big problem here. WAIT…”, he stopped. Ken asked, “WHAT?” Mike sounded hurried, “I’ll call you back, the law is here.” He hung up before Ken could ask anymore questions. Ken interrupted the casual conversation Kerri and Andrew were having, “They were really worried about us but they are even more worried about Brock. I bet he is sneaking into those cottages!”

Brock was doing just that. Lot 74 site “B” was empty because Brock, Paul, Sandy and Silvia had all been pressured to go along with Brock’s plan. Deputy Eric was asking Mike and Amanda questions. They told Eric that Ken and Kerri were on a hike but they were stuck between telling him where Brock and their other friends were and just making something up. Eric’s questions helped pull out the truth as he said, “Ya’ll realize how dangerous it is to be out and about, hiking or exploring things around here after dark?” Mike confirmed that and gave Eric the tip to check down near the lake in hopes that he’d catch his trespassing friends before they were breaking and entering. Eric replied, “Ok, well, ya’ll stay here for the night. There will be plenty of hiking and boating to do in the mornin’.” Eric left, without driving down near the cottages and gave his horn a little toot and his siren a little chirp to let Mark and the other crew members there know he checked things out. Sally called to Mark who kept looking out the window at the cottages saying, “Com’on to bed now Mark. He is on it.” Just then their phone rang. It was Molly, their receptionist and main maid, “Mark, Deputy Eric just left.” “I know I heard his chirp.” “But, he didn’t drive by the cottages, he only went to lot 74, turned and exited. He didn’t even go down to lot 100 or check the cottages!” “Agh!” Mark expressed in disgust. Sally asked, “What? What?” Mark finished the call with Molly, “Okay, Okay, I’ll check em’ out.” He hung up and Sally asked again, “What?” Mark replied, “We gotta get a separate security guy for here, the Deputy didn’t check all the sites and make sure the cottages have no activity.” Sally threatened, “I’m going to call him on his C.B.!” Mark said, “Nah, ya don’t wanna get on his bad side and make any accusations that he’s not doing a good enough job. I think Sheriff Randy already does that.” Sally argued, “We do have to get a security guard, you can’t do it all Mark. What if they have guns?” Mark put his pants on and slipped on some shoes, “I won’t approach them. I’ll just take a look and if I see activity then we’ll call Eric and have him come back. He’ll be working all 12 hours and may welcome something to do.” They heard a few fireworks going off as Mark grabbed the keys to his bronco. “Be careful honey!” Shouted Sally. “Will do!” he shouted back as he went out their front door.

The call Ken made raised Andrew’s awareness of how late it was getting so he offered, “Maybe you two should stay the night and we record this live in the morning for the show.” Kerri responded, “Oh…no, no we couldn’t” Ken suggested, “Well, we could but I’d need to tell Mike and Amanda. They’d probably love to have the whole tent to themselves and I would rather stay on your couch than on the ground tonight.” Kerri said, “We got the blow up mattress, you wouldn’t be on the ground!” “I’m just saying”, Mike expressed his preference to a cabin vs. a tent. Kerri asked, “You’re okay with us staying Andrew?” He replied, “Sure, I offered. But ya gotta call back your friends.” Ken said, “I want to call them back anyway to see what was going on.” Andrew said, “Yeah, I bet Deputy Eric was asking a bunch of questions to make sure they weren’t visiting for the wrong reasons.” Ken placed the call.

Mark knew the road through The Oak Filled Fishing Camp well enough to black out his lights and creep alone the path. He hated to drive it, knowing it was a disruption to the solace the campers found here, but knew if he wanted to make any real progress his bronco was much better than his mountain bike. It also have his C.B. in it so he could reach the Deputy if there was any real trouble. He watched for the side reflectors to catch the lights from his parking lights alone in order to stay on the road. His own thoughts nagged him as if they were the voices of the guest camping there, “first the cop car now this?! We’ve come out hear to get away from cars, traffic, the law, the…oh man!” As he past by Lot 74 he saw a lot of activity on the “A” side but nothing on the “B” side. “Oh great!”, he said, “Where are they? Maybe Eric scared them and they shut everything off. Maybe they are passed out drunk. Maybe…” Mark didn’t want to entertain the last thought that they were already down at the cottages.

Ken finished his call with Mike and relayed the message to Andrew and Kerri, “Yep they are fine with us staying but they are really upset about Brock and those from Site “B”. They are sure he convinced them to all go to those nice cottages and break in.” Andrew tried to reassure them, “It happens all the time, well, often. They won’t find much in there but if they are caught Mark will have to press charges in order to teach them a lesson.” Ken said, “Maybe that is what Brock needs, a lesson taught. I just hope he doesn’t get us all in trouble!” Kerri looked for comfort and confirmation as she stated, “But, we are no where near there, we paid separate from them and if Mike and Amanda already spoke to the Cops then we should be seen as innocent, separate from any of the activities site “B” does.” Ken tried to put her mind at ease, “Let’s hope.” Andrew went to a side closet and pulled out some extra sheets, blankets and pillows, “I hope this will be okay for you. You’ll be fine regarding all that, especially if you paid separate. Ya can’t control what other people do, just stay accountable for your own actions. Then again…”, he handed Ken the bedding as he finished, “Then again, sometimes the innocent are lumped in with the guilty, guild by association, but…I’m sure you’ll be fine in the long run. Hope your comfortable here. LEt’s get some sleep and do the interview in the mornin’ after breakfast. Ya like oak meal?” Ken and Kerri thanked him for his hospitality and were grateful for everything he offered.

Mark picked up the C.B. in his truck, “Deputy Eric, Breaker 1-9, Deputy Eric, hate to bother you. What is your 10-20?” “Deputy Eric here. I am on Centry Road down near Cinder falls. Whatcha got Mark? Over.” “Cottages have people around the outsides, looks like no entry yet but concerned that’s the next step. Over.” “Agh, okay. Sorry ya gotta deal with that. I’ll com’ on back by there. Over.” “Roger that. Sorry you gotta deal with it too, over.” “Give me 15 to 20 minutes. Over and out.” Mark then hear Eric’s report to Dennis and Dennis’ call to more urgent matters, “The fire department is asking for you to help direct any traffic down at Dunner’s pass. Apparently they got a pretty big fire going on and they can’t keep people wanting to watch at a safe distance.” “Caused by Fireworks?”, asked Eric. “Not sure of cause but could be, and it is only the 2nd of July! Over.” “Okay on my way. Over and out. Mark ya hear that? Over.” Mark replied, “Roger that. I’ll keep my distance here and hope they don’t do any damage. Over.” “Okay, sorry, priorities. Over and out.” Mark used his cell phone to call his house but Sally had already heard on their home C.B. “Just be careful Mark. They can do property damage to the cottages and we can take them to court to fix that but I don’t wanna sit through a murder trial with them.” “I’ll be fine honey. Using my brains here. I love you with all my heart.” Sally took a breath, “Oh…kay. I love you too. Please don’t get too close Mark,” They said good bye as Sally tried to see the cottage from their cabin window and Mark watched from a safe distance. He could see beams from their flash lights shooting into the windows and hoped that everything was locked up tight and would be a deterrent. It wasn’t long until he noticed the light was coming from the inside of the cottage out. Mark thought about his wife’s words of caution but was also offended people would break into a property he was trusted to take care of as part owner of The Oak Filled Fishing Camp. He didn’t’ want to break his word to his wife but wasn’t about to let them do and damage. He turned the lights on and sped toward the cottage honking his horn. He hoped it was enough to cause them intruders to retreat. It didn’t work Brock ordered his friends to just lay low. Mark knew he needed to lay low too and wait for back-up. He tired to reach Eric on his C.B. but the deputy was out of his car at the time trying to keep spectators at a safe distance from the fire. Mark called his wife and explained to her that he would try to just stay in the truck with the lights shinning on the cottage in hopes that those inside would get out of there. Unfortunately Brock was so drunk he passed out while hiding away in the cottage and his 3 friends were tired and fell asleep while waiting for those lights outside to go dim.

The sunrise woke Mark, followed by his wife calling his cell phone. “Mark, I called Dennis last night and told him to call us if Deputy Eric finished up from traffic duty. I never heard back but I know Nancy will be coming on soon and so will Jethro. I know they are worried about the fire but I am worried about you, your safety and the welfare of the cottage. So, Dennis said he was going to have Nancy ask Randy to give permission to Jethro to come by before he does anything else.” Mark was trying to wake up and take everything in his wife was saying. “Honey, no big deal. I am sure they are just teenagers of the young adults from Lot 74 site “B”, not hardhearted criminal minds. I’m going to go by site “B” and wait there, they gotta go back there eventually to get all their stuff.” She smiled and said, “You’re bright honey!” He smiled too and said, “That’s why you married me!” She replied, “Well…another one of the reasons. Okay honey, be careful. See ya soon.” Mark did just that. Mike and Amanda heard him pull up and Mike went out to explain to him that last night they wanted the Deputy to check the cottage because they were pretty sure their friends on site “B” went down to the cottages and he was sure they were still there. Mark shared, “I was pretty sure it was either them or some teens. We don’t have much crime around here just mischievous behavior.”


CHAPTER 6 THE INTERVENING INTERVIEW

Andrew was just about to start the interview with Ken and Kerri when there was a knock at the door. It was Sheriff Randy. “Oh, hello Sheriff. I’d don’t think you’ve ever come by here. How are you?” Sheriff Randy was still out of breath from his hike up to Andrew’s but got out the words, “Andrew Phillips, you’re under arrest.” Andrew smiled and was sure he was joking. Ken and Kerri came to the door just to hear the sheriff announce, “You two come with me too, for questioning. I don’t have more than one set of handcuffs but if you try to run while on our hike down you’ll regret it.” Ken said, “No problem. We’ve done nothing wrong we’ll be glad to come along with you to see what this is all about.” He was sure it had something to do with Brock and his few not so faithful friends. Jethro made it out to Lot 74 site “A and B”. Mark was still there waiting. When Brock, Paul, Sandy and Silvia showed up he took them to the Jail. He had to come back for Mike and Amanda because there wasn’t room in is squad car for them. Brock claimed they were never in the cottage as they were accused of but it was pretty obvious that’s where they had been all night.

While all 8 tourist and Andrew sat in a jail cell waiting for trial Mark sat that night with his wife in front of their large front window. Molly was coming over to watch the fire works shot off across the lake. Molly asked what the results were regarding the cottage break in. Mark admitted, “Well, they’ll have to go to court but it seems clear to me that those from site “B” were the only ones involved in the break in. Not sure what the sheriff has against Andrew Phillips and but he pulled him and those visiting him to jail too.” Sandy tried to reason, “I guess he just wants to see if there are others too blame too. Sad thing is when one person in your group messes up everyone is guilty by association. Maybe they were accomplice. I hope they get a fair trial.”

Andrew sat in the same cell with the 6 strangers and two new friends, Ken and Kerri. In the opposite corner of the large holding cell Brock was still trying to sleep off a hang over while Paul, Sandy and Silvia complained about letting Brock convince them to break into that cottage. They knew deep down they could have said no but, especially now, they were regretting giving into his sway over them. Ken introduced Andrew to Mike and Amanda. Kerri said, “We were about to do an interview with him for his internet radio broadcast.” Mike admitted, “I’ve never listened but Kerri and Ken told me about some of your topics. Sounds like you enjoy being away from everything and everyone but I guess in a round about way we got you into the thick of trouble anyway, sorry about all this.” Andrew said, “Well, you know you can retreat all ya want, away from the world, but you’re never really away from it. I enjoy my broadcast because it allows me to stay linked to society and let people know you can try to avoid some of the hardships in this world but no matter where you go, no matter how much you’re not of this world, you are still in it.” Amanda asked, “Yeah, got any helpful thoughts for us while stuck here in jail waiting to hear how things could possibly work out for us.” Andrew tried to offer some helpful words, “Well, we know we haven’t done anything wrong so things should work out okay, however, things are not always fair. We can be sure of one thing, no matter how much one tried to avoid trouble there will always be difficulties and challenges.” Kerri thought to herself, “Yeah, even friends can be foes and bring strife, fortunately there are also very good and helpful people like Andrew in this world.” She smiled and looked at Ken and then at Andrew. Andrew helped Ken, Kerri and a few others around the world listening learn that the few deadly creatures in this world should not cause us to think that all things created are to be feared or out to defeat us. The situation they were in was a perfect example of how the bad decisions of a few effected others. Another quote of Andrew’s that would later became well known was ” The worse threat in nature is mankind but the worse threat to mankind is also mankind.” Brock’s bad decisions and misbehavior along with his insisting on influence others became more toxic to those around him than any unstable environment itself.

Sheriff Randy was claiming that Mike and Amanda were not only being held for questioning but should be prosecuted for withholding info. from his Deputy when questioned the other night. He brought charges against Ken and Kerri for trespassing but when Andrew explained they were there at his invite the Sheriff then claimed that Andrew was harboring fugitives. All 8 of the visitors and Andrew were taken to court because of Brock’s behavior and influence.

After going through this whole ordeal Andrew did a special broadcast stating, “Retreat is needed but the only true retreat is to venture inward not out. No place is safer than deep within.”

THE END


My deepest thanks to my wife Rhonda for the love we share in every season of life. Also to all of my dear children: Kyri, Alexx, Olivia, Madi, Abbey, Christopher and Carol-Ann who remind me of the simple childlike faith God desires, as well as, my whole family and friends for all their support.

YouTube playlist of stories being read: My stories: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnjQOVtw61eiFv27rv2rhA3-8U8EyDXya

For a list of other stories go to: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/stories-poems-and-art/

This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.

Thanks for reading, Beetle

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Story – Billy The Tree Climber (Editing Needed)

Billy The Tree Climber

Billy The Tree Climber – a simple, yet magnificently complex, short story of a boy who was destine to climb a tree in order to experience the journey of a life time.

Billy naturally loved to climb trees. His main motivation was to get a different and better perspective of his neighborhood, his little world. As most little kids enjoy climbing trees, Billy was no exception, however, he seemed to desire it a more than most. It was like he was born to climb. Being on the ground was boring, dull and didn’t offer him the excitement that was found in the climb. The type of tree didn’t matter, although he preferred ones with a lot of branches and leaves. Sometimes he’d find ones with thin limbs that would offer him a free ride back to the ground like a natural elevator. Those branches would bend without breaking, gently lowering him to the ground below without breaking, just for him to make his way back up. While up there, above everything else, he would sit and take in so much more than he could ever take in while down below. He always enjoyed a snack while up there and occasionally he was able to anchor himself safe enough to take a nap, or at least doze off into a wonderful day dream. He had seen some amazing tree houses but the walls defeated the whole purpose of being up there in a tree, blocking the breath taking view. From up there he could see for miles and the tops of other trees would call his name. At, or very near, the top of one tree Billy was able to see a huge drive-in movie theater screen. He watched the film, with no sound, but the adventures on that canvas were nothing in comparison with the expositions he went on as he journeyed up and about the trunk, sides and tops of trees. He watched one windy day as a bag got caught in the branches. It held on tight and no matter which way the wind blew it wasn’t about to leave go. He wasn’t sure if the bag was holding the tree or if the tree was holding the bag. The more the wind blew the tighter it clung. He had seen some of his friends fall while just starting to climb. Others fell mid way up. Some made it pretty high only to lost their footing or grip. He never enjoyed watching helplessly as he witnessed them plummeting to the ground; however, it was always a reminder to Billy to hold on tight. He built up strength as he tighten his legs and arms on whatever branch was keeping him in the tree. Most insects were never really an issue. He did have to watch out for birds, there were a few times when he was dive bombed. He never knew if they were just protecting a nearby nest or truly out for the attack! There was one occasion where he encountered a huge spider. It was the size of an adult hand, at least. The spider, birds and threat of falling didn’t taper of discourage his tree climbing, he just avoided those sections of the trees. He knew to keep an eye out. Although is was a free adventure and pass time there was always the cost of risks and danger. He was willing to pay that price. When Billy wasn’t in a tree he’d find himself looking for a tree to climb. Climbing made him feel alive and he felt like everyone would enjoy life more if they would just climb a tree. Sometimes he’d meet new friends while climbing but even when all by himself he never felt alone when he was with the trees, limbs, and leaves. He loved how the massive trunk supported all the branches. Occasionally he’d come across a dead branch. It was still in the tree but had lost it’s connection with the trunk and was ready to snap and crumble to the ground. Those branches would often have insects and ants in them that helped devour it even more, eventually completely separating it from the main part of the tree until it was split from the tree and tumbled to the ground, becoming part of the soil from which it came. Life on the ground was dirty, grimy and grim. Nothing beat the view and freedom of being up and away from all that. Before Billy climbed trees he just crawled around in the dirt, after all, Billy was a lowly caterpillar.

The next section is the best part of Billy’s story


BILLY THE TREE CLIMBER

(Video clip – https://youtu.be/5XWFFTuX5gQ)
Yep, you got it, before Billy discovered climbing trees he was a lowly caterpillar crawling around the ground in the dirt. Each morning he ventured out trying, striving, to find higher ground, a strong healthy branch, a leaf to make his home. He saw others like him form a cocoon but he had no idea why they would surround themselves with that shell and miss all the breath taking things seen from the trees. One day Billy felt his skin cracking. Life was rough from time to time but never this bad. Something was taking place from deep within. Just when he thought things could get no worse he found himself in darkness and pain; however, it was then, once inside that chrysalis (cocoon) that his journey had really only just begun. He developed even more when he thought he was dying. Inside that cocoon he underwent an entire transformation , he even formed wings. One day he broke out. It was then that he was able to fly, no longer ‘sore’; but rather, able to soar as he shouted, “IT IS SO GOOD TO BE FREE ! ! !
He exclaimed, “I am King Billy, able to do anything” —but deep within he realized, not everything was good for him. As he darted through the air, in a tiny sector of the massive atmosphere surrounding him as he proclaimed to all creation around, “I am allowed to do anything”—but he knew not everything was beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23). As he fluttered here and there, accomplishing things he had only dreamed of before he came to a realization that this achievement was not something he had done, but rather, it was done to him. He didn’t speak the language of most other created creatures around him but displayed an undeniable, nonverbal, message. With each quick flutter of his wings he said,
“If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. There are other creatures out there that would love to eat me for lunch. They were created for that purpose. Because I cherish life they just cause me to stay alert, on guard for my life, because I am aware that they are on the hunt to try and snatch me out of the air & out of this life.”
As wonderful as this new existence was he knew that he was still existed in the rainforest, still in a jungle where the rules were based on trying to survive. He recalled three different times begging the creator to take these thorns away. He didn’t fully understand why the fields couldn’t just be filled with flower, why all the weeds? Nonetheless, it was a fact of life before he changed and it was an issue that remained today. Each time Billy asked, begging, for the creator to take those thorns away, the Maker said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So, Bill was glad to boast about his weaknesses, so that the power of all creation could work through him. Life was even harder before he had wings. He was now thrilled with this new life, a gift given to him, not something he ate or drank but a sheer gift from a higher power that never sold out, never offering cheep artificial imitations of life. That’s why Billy took pleasure in his limitations, weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that he suffer while literally flying thousands of miles in his short life span, on display, as a new creation. The shortcomings he faced just reminded him he was part of creation but not The Creator (2 Corinthians 12:6‭-‬10). At the time he wasn’t aware how short his life would be. He had no idea where he was heading, he just followed the direction coming from deep within him. He also wasn’t aware that he wouldn’t be able to return to where he came from. None of that mattered. He was heading to a warmer climate where he would go to live and finally be at rest. His motivation wasn’t just to be changed again, as he already had once, but to give thanks and share the love of his creator until The Maker performed an even more amazing transformation again. Still an insect, struggles remained but what a wonderful life Billy had. He had to develop in this new form and get use to how to use these new wings.
No matter how frustrated he was as he fluttered around he knew he needed to accept the way the Creator had made him, as well as, not make judgments about any other created creatures. Billy knew that his Maker was the maker of all that existed, what was seen and unseen. He learned to trust that the Master will bring all the darkest secrets to light and will reveal all the private motives. Then God would give to each one whatever praise is due (1 Corinthians 4:5 NLT). What this small new butterfly didn’t know was the larger impact created from the effects of his very own little wings.
As he moved through a garden, miles from the tree where he was reborn, he spoke to nearby creature, such as ants, ladybugs and locus saying,
“If you only look at me , you might well miss the brightness. I carry a precious message around in this unadorned insect body of my ordinary life. I’m just a vessel, a mode of transportation. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with me. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that I’m really not much to look at, just another bug, an insect. Just like all insects, I have six jointed legs, 3 body parts, a pair of antennae, compound eyes, and an exoskeleton. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, swatted, sprayed and stomped at but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to part of the Creator, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what He did among them, He does in us—He lives! HE LIVES! Our lives are at constant risk for His sake, which makes the Creator’s life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best! (2 Corinthians 4:7‭-‬12 MSG)


Official rough draft – Part 3 of the story

Billy The Tree Climber

Remember, God puts us through a process too. At one time Billy was a lowly caterpillar crawling around in the dirt. Now he was on tour for the world to see. As he flew his bright new colors and graceful wings projected glory toward God. Even those who didn’t speak the same language anyone who saw him heard Billy saying, “Just as the farmer planted seeds in this garden, so also I’m planting a seed in your hearts, another will watered it, but it is God who makes it grow (1 Corinthians 3:6 NLT). Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy ( Proverbs 14:10 NIV). Listen, everyone, listen— earth-dwellers, don’t miss this.” As Billy’s body jolted sideways, slantway, upward and downward in quick bust of unpredictable movement his entire body exclaimed his enthusiasm, “All you haves and have-nots, all together now: listen. I set plainspoken wisdom before you, my heart-seasoned understandings of life. I fine-tuned my ear to the sayings of the wise, I solve life’s riddle with the help of a psalmist’s harp…” He flew over many different landscapes, rivers, sheep and shepherds, mountains and valleys. Some noticed and heard his fluttered song, “So why should I fear in bad times, hemmed in by enemy malice, shoved around by bullies, demeaned by the arrogant rich? Really! There’s no such thing as self-rescue, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. The cost of rescue is beyond our means, and even then it doesn’t guarantee life forever, or insurance against the Black Hole.” At one point he saw a group of humans gathered under a small tent in a lovely section covered with soft grass and many stone markers. One of the children in the group watched his flight then ran off from the group of adults gathered in a chase to get a closer look at Billy. He landed on a nearby stone to show his delicate wings as he spoke, “Child, anyone can see that the brightest and best die, wiped out right along with fools and dunces. They leave all their prowess behind, move into their new home, the coffin, the cemetery their permanent address. Life is beautiful, cherish it while you are alive because all created things must some day die. Make the most of your life as you grow but remember to glorify and offer thanks, give credit to God for life. This life should be lived out with Him in our mind and hearts. Don’t just lookout for your own pleasure. We only live once. Some think that means that we should obtain things, as much as we can while alive, to think they named counties after themselves! We aren’t immortal. We don’t last long. Humans are no different, like their dogs, everything ages, weakens and dies. This is what happens to those who live for the moment, who only look out for themselves: Death herds them like sheep straight to hell; they disappear down the gullet of the grave; They waste away to nothing— nothing left but a marker in a cemetery. But me? God snatches me from the clutch of death, he reaches down and grabs me. I thought I was done for, ready to just curl up and die. I thought my heart was split in two, just like my body; but when I allowed the creator to break my heart and selfish dreams He decided to allow me to live a new & different way.” The child spoke to Billy, “I want to be a butterfly, like you and fly far, far away from here. Bly’s wings allowed him to leap into the air again only to paused at a flower nearby to take in some nectar. Then he spoke with the child again as she followed, you could almost hear music behind what he was saying as he set the beat with his wings chanting even while resting on that bloom, “Child, as you turn into an adult, don’t be impressed with those who get rich and pile up fame and fortune. Some tend to think one species or race is more loved and blessed by God than another, however, He loves and blesses all living things the same. Live to return your thanks to him, not fall short of His glory but unselfishly give Him your life from this day forward. Those who are considered rich with many possessions can’t take those things with them; fame and fortune all get left behind. Just when they think they’ve arrived and folks praise them because they’ve made good, they enter the family burial plot where they’ll never see sunshine again.” Billy repeated himself, “We aren’t immortal. We don’t last long.” The child said, “My brother died the other day.” Billy left the sweet nectar to land on the child’s finger. She wanted to shout, “LOOK! MOMMY!”, but remained silent so he wasn’t scared away. In her stillness she could hear him offering hope that God gives and takes away but He is always to be praised and His name should always be blessed. No matter how weak and fragile and temporary we are, He is strong, secure and eternal. She heard a voice, as if Billy was letting the creator speak through his delicate antennas directly to the little girl’s heart, “Trust the Creator.” (Psalm 49:1‭-‬20 MSG). When flying away he could read this child’s vows as she put her faith in God.

Billy knew what it meant to be born again. He was intimate with the Father of all creation and because he knew God as father he also knew the Son who had come into this world in created human form. He often would recalled what Jesus said when he was walking the earth. He heard Jesus’s voice saying, “Let me say it again, unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a child, new born baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit. So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that.” Billy felt the breeze. “You hear it rustling through the trees.” Billy listened, hearing the leaves and the words of Jesus, “But, you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.” (John 3:5‭-‬8 MSG)

Billy continued to make his way, here and there, it appeared to anyone who saw him that he wasn’t heading in any particular direction, but he was. He was on a migration that included thousands of miles. On one occasion as he stopped to feed on milkweed a nosey little ant asked him, “Why do you bounce around in the air?” The ant tried to convince him, “You’d get wherever you are going much faster if you’d just stay grounded like me or, if you are gonna fly there, fly in a straight line! Like the crow flies. Why don’t you just do that?”, asked the ant. Before Billy leaped off into flight again he just replied, “I bounce in the air like this because…because this is the way I was created. He left the ant behind as he watched him become smaller and smaller in the distance. Billy found himself going thought forest and meadows, occasionally stopping to eat and drink. He didn’t appear to be in a hurry but naturally knew to keep on flying after short breaks here and there. His random movement also made it difficult for prey to capture him. As he passed over a farm he watched a farmer planting seeds. He thought again about Jesus’ words, “The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.” (Matthew 13:23 MSG) He thought to himself, Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, I see how essential it is to live a holy life. Daily he expected the Day of God, eager for its arrival. While surveying the land below from his flight above he thought, The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but I’ll hardly notice. I’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness. Since this is what I have to look forward to, I will do my very best to be found living at my best, in purity and peace. He interpreted what the Master’s patient restraint for what it was: salvation. Billy knew that the man named Paul, who came to know Jesus after Jesus left the earth, was given much wisdom in these matters. He referred to this in all his letters. Some things Paul wrote were difficult to understand. Irresponsible people who don’t know what they are talking about twist them every which way. They do it to the rest of the Scriptures, too, destroying themselves as they do it. God well-warned Billy of this. Just as, when Billy climbed trees he had to be careful, so also as he had to continue with care as he traveled. His journey was long and hard. He had to be on guard so he wouldn’t lose his footing and get swept off his feet by lawless and loose-talking teachers. Other insect and birds of the air could be pretty sneaky. Just as when he was on the grounds as a little caterpillar crawling around, he still kept his eyes open for spiders and other creatures who would not only scare him but ones that could devour him. Billy enjoyed communing daily and directly with The Creator. He followed His plan, His will. Each day he grew in grace and understanding of The Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. Those who watched closely could hear Billy, sometimes loudly, sometimes at a whisper saying, “Glory to the Master, now and forever! Yes!” (2 Peter 3:11‭-‬18 MSG)

One new morning, after a good night sleep Billy heard God, The Father of all things created in the past, the present and future saying, “Pay close attention now: I’m creating new heavens and a new earth. All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain are things of the past, to be forgotten. Look ahead with joy. Anticipate what I’m creating: I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy, create my people as pure delight. I’ll take joy in Jerusalem, take delight in my people: No more sounds of weeping in the city, no cries of anguish; No more babies dying in the cradle, or old people who don’t enjoy a full lifetime; One-hundredth birthdays will be considered normal— anything less will seem like a cheat. They’ll build houses and move in. They’ll plant fields and eat what they grow. No more building a house that some outsider takes over, No more planting fields that some enemy confiscates, For my people will be as long-lived as trees, my chosen ones will have satisfaction in their work. They won’t work and have nothing come of it, they won’t have children snatched out from under them. For they themselves are plantings blessed by God , with their children and grandchildren likewise God -blessed. Before they call out, I’ll answer. Before they’ve finished speaking, I’ll have heard. Wolf and lamb will graze the same meadow, lion and ox eat straw from the same trough, but snakes—they’ll get a diet of dirt! Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill anywhere on my Holy Mountain.” (Isaiah 65:17‭-‬25 MSG) Billy was looking forward to a better place. As nice as this beautiful butterfly life was he was still hunted and had to instinctively migrate, striving to get to a particular destination. He knew that was all part of God’s plan but he also knew, believed with his heart, that there was going to be an abundant life after this one in this world. As Billy’s excitement, eagerness and zeal grew. He flew up higher and higher into the heavens. Oh how he longed to just be there! He saw other creatures soring high, closer to where he believed heaven to be but, the heavens surrounded this planet he was on. He thought by going geographically higher he’d eventually reach the spiritual realm where The Creator must be. His little insect mind worked fine when following natural instinct but when he tried to exercise his own will, that is when things became very dangerous. Billy was far into the sky when a crow came out of no where. He had not noticed any danger because he was caught in the wind currents. At first he thought the black bird was on the same crusade, however, he quickly came to the realization that this creature of flight was no angel. This bird was on his own course of trying to catch & feed himself on butterfly meat. Billy’s small wings allowed him to gyrate in manners the crow could not turn. Billy found himself paralyzed in fear. This caused his wings to freeze up and his mind naturally lost control. At times he found himself free falling several feet then he’d come to some senses and flap his wings. The crow would miss his midflight snack but turn as quickly as he could to come back around and take another swipe at Billy. By the time the bird would come at him again Billy was able to do his sporadic movements again, indicative of a butterfly. He wondered how much length he had lost in his travels south as he was taking his own trip up, not North, West, East or South parallel to the ground but up, toward the sky above. His erratic movements and cascade toward the earth was enough for the bird to give up. Billy was not sure where the bird went, if he had taken out another insect, he just knew he was no longer at risk. He slowly came to rest on the ground, his eyes and antennas recovering from the spiral down. His little heart beat so strong he thought he was about to split open his torso. His mind raced and he found himself thanking God he was still alive. He didn’t have the desire to fly again and thought it best to just stay down here on the ground where it is safe. He pondered, maybe the ant was right! As he walked on all six legs he noticed a spider walking on eight legs. He thought, even questioned The Maker, “why didn’t ya make me like that.” Then he saw it jump several feet to another branch above him. He pondered some more, “WOW, or with the ability to jump!” He paused again to take in this other magnificent creature and its abilities. He marveled as the spider then shot silk webbing out, keeping it connected to a branch as it cascaded downward. “Oh! To travel with 8 legs, not just 6, and to jump AND to have the gift of being able to anchor myself with a string and make bridges to where I want and need to go…” Midsentence, mid-thought, for Billy was mid-air and mid-trip for the spider. Billy was horrified as he saw a small lizard leap at the spider, catching him in his mouth and eat him alive. He noticed a disappointed frog looking up as well. The frog spoke to Billy, “YA SEE?! If only I could run, not just hop but leap like that lizard, I would be truly satisfied!” Without having time to think Billy’s wings kicked into motion on an impulse, lifting him up and away. At that very moment he noticed a snake had snatched the frog off the log where Billy was just sitting comfortably next to him seconds earlier. Billy tried to repeat helpful mantras over and over to himself. He said, “COME ON! Come on, wings don’t fail me now!!!…think positive, think positive Billy. The Creator made all creatures for a reason and purpose. All CREATURES! He has a pla…a pla…a plan.” He was losing his breath, “He….hhhhHE hhhhHAsss a ah, PLhhhHan, He a…hhhas ah…. plan.”, he kept repeating that to assure himself.

His long flight away from those dangers led him to a road. On that highway Billy saw what we know as trucks and speeding cars. The air currents from the vehicles pulled on his fragile body, making it nearly impossible to stick to his flight pattern. He heard the voice of God again while in this new struggle for life. The voice nudged his little insect soul, “Remember, you are free go anywhere, just careful. Not everything and everywhere will benefit you.” Billy responded with, “GOD, there are so many dangers in World!” His creator said, “Yes, yes there are.” Billy ask, “Are there even more dangers now that I am a butterfly?” God answered, “No, no you are just more aware of them now because you’ve matured & you are now traveling more and further than when you were just a little boy, just a caterpillar.” Billy craved to ask another question that just seemed so natural to ask next, “But, but WHY? Why are there all these different creatures and dangers and turmoil and the strife of trying to just survive rather than just being able to thrive and enjoy life?” The answer seemed so simple and yet there was no way an insect could fully understand and comprehend God’s vastness and larger plan. God spoke softly, as if speaking only to Billy the butterfly,

“There is a reason behind every season, a purpose and plan for everything I’ve created under these heavens.”

(Eccl. 3)

Billy decided to trust in god a little more that day as he finally made it past the interstate highway. It was because of this decision he didn’t evaluate people and other insects by what they have or how they look. God explained, “The earth looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know.” Billy certainly didn’t look at Christ that way anymore. Now he looked inside, and what he saw was that anything, anyone, united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life Billy knew was gone; a new life burgeons! From that day on Billy traveled at the height and length across the earth as he was made to travel. While on his journey he exclaimed, “Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives.” In Billy’s flight his body, his very existence, gave God glory. He didn’t need to have the ability to speak with words to mankind or nature he just made sure he was who and what God wanted him to be, once a simple caterpillar, now a simple, yet beautifully structured flying insect, a butterfly. Upon getting closer to where he was meant to be Billy found other butterflies. He listened as he heard one saying to another, “God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.” The other asked, “How?” Billy was sure that the other butterfly knew but was perhaps getting confirmation. He heard the reply, “How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.” (2 Corinthians 5:16‭-‬21 MSG) A third one chimed in, “Humans discuss, argue and debate things that you would not even believe. Some even think it matters what rites they have performed, what rituals they have partaken in. They have tried to offer animals, grains, even children in an attempt to please God. Years and years ago they tried to follow God’s commands, thinking that alone would free them from the curse of death. What counts is whether they have been transformed into a new creation.” The other like creatures fluttered off, all exchanging farewell saying, “May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.” (Galatians 6:15‭-‬16 NLT)

Mid air another butterfly spoke with Billy, as if he was a long lost friend. He said, “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” (Ephesians 4:21‭-‬24 NLT) Billy said, “YES! Thank you I do and I will continue to do so, and you tooo.”, his voice tambered as it was caught in the wind. Upon exclaiming that Billy found him self lost in a cloud of thousands of other butterflies. It was as if there was one from every mile he had traveled. “WOW! Where are we?”, he asked. An answer came from the cluster, “WE ARE THERE!” He heard another’s realization, “WE ARE HERE!” Each glorious, wonderful and beautiful butterfly knew that they were living examples of God’s amazing ability, handiwork and craftsmanship. Billy shouted, “JUST AS I KNEW FROM THE DAY I WAS TRANSFORMED…How captivating it is to be part of His creation. Do all created things know we are part of His plan?” one of his fellow sojourniers answered, “They are all children but some don’t accept Him as Father. Some are disobedient, rebellious, or simply just don’t believe. For them, it as if God considers them His children but they deny Him being their Father.” Billy said, “So, this means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT). They all landed covering the ground that was their final destination. The rocks, the trees, all that was there had become a brilliantly dancing blanket of butterflies. Billy asked those around him about their journey, “Did you almost die on the way here?” A few shared their near death encounters with fish, humans, cats, other insects and even just the rain and wind. Billy’s adventure sounded mild in comparison with some of their tragic stories. One said, “Some of my friends were lost. They didn’t make it here but we’ll see them in friendlier skies beyond this world.” Billy said, “I was told there was more than just this atmosphere, this world.” Another one assured him and those so close they were touching wings now, “OH YES! Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” Billy could hear more than the slight patter of all the wings. He heard, “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile vessel, just tiny clay jars containing this great treasure.” Everything in Billy’s body identified in unison with all that surrounded him as he said, “This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves!” The one who had lost a few friends along the way said, “Yes! We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.” Billy thought about the dangers and near missed impacts with various other vehicles and critters as he logged this thousand mile trip. Another, right next to him now said, “We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” A group spoke all at the same time, saying the same words, “Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.” Billy felt such comfort that he was able to understand what they were all saying. Many times he had to read other creatures nonverbal cues and follow his own God given instincts but these creatures spoke directly to him, just as God had done. There was a feeling of nirvana. Everyone was so alive and their forces were united. He thought for a split second, “Nothing can stop us now…we could take over the world!” Then he remembered the importance of giving God the glory, not taking credit for what God did, His bigger, better plan. He noted what seemed like an older, more weathered new friend by his other side. He spoke slower and his voice was worn. Billy wondered, do I look like him? He listened as the creature spoke, fighting for each breath to get the words out, “So… we live…in the face of death, but… this has resulted in eternal life for you.” He was speaking to the earth. Another raspy voice got out, “But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, ‘I believed in God, so I spoke.’ We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you.” Billy remembered the little girl he saw in the cemetery and also pictured a little boy he saw once in a tree one day while climbing. Billy spoke as if those children could hear him as he said, “All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.” The one who had lost so much and was one of the few that survived the trip after witnessing others not making it cried out, “THAT IS WHY! That is why we never give up.” Billy felt a sudden inability to move his wings. He saw some of the once most beautiful around him beginning to shrivel up. Billy asked what he thought was an old-timer, “Have…have we come all this way…have we come here, this far to just…die?” It was as if the one Billy thought was old could not just hear Billy’s words, but read his thoughts as he answered, “I am the same age as you. We’ve lived the same section and we have been part of this same season. We were on the same migration. I’ve seen you before. We ventured over some of the same sections of earth, fields and flowers.” Billy communicated one on one with this one, although their numbers went on for miles. With surprise in his voice Billy said, “Oh, oh, I…I didn’t recognize you, perhaps I never saw you, never noticed or got you mixed up with the others. There are so many HUH?! …ah, I…can I ask you…do my wings look funny to you? I can’t seem to…to move them like I was just moments ago.” The one he was speaking to did not answer. Billy thought he was too tired, or perhaps just didn’t want to speak. A new one landed nearly on top of Billy, “Woe, getting crowded here huh?” Billy saw some falling now, not flying but, falling from the sides or trees around them. He now noticed his voice was raspy and rough like the other one had been. He strained as he asked the newer one, “Hey, can you, new young friend, can you tell me if that guy I was talking to still awake?” The new one was no younger than Billy himself. He blew a butterfly kiss to the one Billy was referring to then answer Billy, “No, he sleeps, but not as you suppose to be sleeping.” Billy didn’t have to ask his earlier question. He now knew, they all came here… to die” By this time there were millions of butterflies covering everything in sight. Their intricate designs and detailed colors were now a sea of the creator’s one of a kind original art work. Billy passed on his knowledge to those he became buried under,

“Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” Others joined their voices in a harmonious choir, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:4‭-‬18 NLT) The sunlight was now blocked from Billy by all the butterflies piling above him. The voices above were muted but he could still hear some saying, “We are there.” Another said, “We are here!” He recalled moments ago hearing the same words as more and more arrived with him. He reminisced as he heard some speaking of their journey. He cherished hearing, once again, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” ( 2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV) Again, Billy was able to no longer regard things from a worldly point of view. Just as he had experienced a complete metamorphosis from the life of a caterpillar into the life of a butterfly he was now embracing a newness beyond his short temporary lifespan in this world and into eternal life in the next.

Most of them did not die in Mexico they were just hibernating and will fly back north but just a small portion of the distance they flew down, only making it to the Southwest U.S. to procreate the next generation.


Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:16‭-‬21 NIV http://bible.com/111/2co.5.16-21.NIV

THE END IS ONLY THE BEGINNING


If you enjoyed this story you’ll want to read “SEASON OF JAIL” and the sequel “SEASON OF PRISON” – A novel about a man living out his faith during a season of incarceration. Online publication at https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/edit-seasonedch-1-15/ And

https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/entire-story-season-of-prison-entire-1st-edit/

My deepest thanks to my wife Rhonda for the love we share in every season of life.

Also to all of my dear children: Kyri, Alexx, Olivia, Madi, Abbey, Christopher and Carol-Ann who remind me of the simple childlike faith God desires, as well as, my whole family and friends for all their support.

For a YouTube playlist of stories being read: My stories: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnjQOVtw61eiFv27rv2rhA3-8U8EyDXya

For a list of other stories go to: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/stories-poems-and-art/

This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher. This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.

Thanks for reading, Beetle

For what inspired this story go to 👉Billy’s Background


STORY – Toy Town (editing needed)

Toy Town – a short story about a curious cottage in a small town and what mysteries it holds.

This was, by far, the hardest story I’ve tried to complete thus far. Originally written back in 2007, I’ve tried once again to bring it to life and make it what I know it can be. In an attempt to just get it out there I spend years, months, weeks, days & hours trying to just get though it. Rather than just scrapping it I’ve persisted in trying to finalize it. Ironically, the whole story is about trying to endure life’s situation and pressing on, learning as we go.

Many of the metaphors in this story reflect on my real life conflicts, mental health issues and the imaginary world I find myself in somewhere between here, reality and hopes of going onto a heavenly home some day.


Continue reading “STORY – Toy Town (editing needed)”

Story – The Soul of Dr. Rooosha  (entire story/ final editing needed)

“The Soul of Dr. Rooosha” -The whimsical character is back and this time he is soul searching.

This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.

My deepest thanks to my wife Rhonda for nurturing me, mentality, spiritually and physically during the many hours of writing.
Also to all of my children Abbey, Madi, Olivia, Alexx, Kyri, Christopher and Carol-Ann, as well as, my whole family and friends for all their inspiration, love, care, prayers and support.

The Soul of Dr. Rooosha

Perhaps you’ve read about Dr. Raymond Rooosha before, in the story “Fair Science” – a short story of a weird, crazy but brilliant scientist who invites three children into his mansion and his mind. That’s Dr. Rooosha.

So much can be said about him. The man’s brain came up with amazing ideas. However strange, funny…down right goofy he was, there is still no denying his unique brilliance, wisdom and sincerity. Although he had a certain amount of intelligence he was able to share what he knew in a down to earth way with the people around him. It was those people, those he surrounded himself with and hung out with, that grounded him. They made his dreams become a reality.

Sometimes it took years for some people to get on the same page. Other times they could see and understand what he wanted to happen but knew the rest of the world wasn’t ready to buy into his next great thing. When I say, “buy into” I don’t mean that the doctor was doing late night infomercials trying to convince people of a product that they just couldn’t live without. Dr. Rooosha hated those and couldn’t believe that people had forgotten our basic needs of food, water, shelter and love. So many products invented, or as some claimed “created”, were interesting & captivating but lacked the ability to meet an actual need. Then again, the windshield whippers for sunglasses…Dr. Rooosha ordered a crate load, he had to see them to believe it.

This story is about one very special day when Dr. Rooosha called for a meeting. Everyone from his dog walker, and dishwasher, to his attorneys and CPAs, found a seat at a variety of weird but very comfortable shaped chairs around a huge. And he began, “Suppose we took our five senses and combined them.” He began to randomly assign people. Mark, you be the eyes, Judy the ears, John the nose, because yours is… well it is rather…ah, SMALL, compared to…some.” They all chuckled as the doctor went on, “And I, I will be the mouth, all the better to speak to you with my dear.” His youngest advisor, Tony said, “What about touch?” “Oh yes Tony you, you’re so touching. Thank you. How handy! Tony? Will you be touchy today, touchy Tony. Yes and Tony, represent touch?” The doctor didn’t wait for an answer he just assumed Tony would play the part. “Let’s all grab hands in a circle and sing ‘Cuumm By Yaaa My Lord.’ Laaa, laaa, laaaaaaa.”, He tuned up his voice. No one was sure if he was serious. The room grew silent again. Then he continued, “Now, with all those senses we still, as humans, have more sense and senses.” His dishwasher yelled out, “A sense of humor!” “Gooooood…” Rooosha replied, “And…”, he waited. His head housekeeper spoke with a beautiful strong Spanish accent as she exclaimed, “A sense of taste, like the taste and what kind of choose I want to wear today.” Dr. Rooosha loved her accent and replied, “Did you choose your shoes, high heels or flats. What ‘choose’ are on your feet today Maria?” They all smiled. She smiled as well, then clarified, “Not choose ssshhhoes, like you weaaar on jour feet.” “Shhh…oooh yessss. Evenone listen…”, Dr. Rooosha whisper. Then shouted, “YEAH, MARIA YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD, the toenail I guess, what I mean is you, Maria, just kicked a field goal. Our ‘six cents’ add up to our sixth sense. Our the ability to choose, choice, our will, our soul or how would you say our… I don’t know what?!! THERE ARE MORE THAN JUST 5 SENSES YA KNOW? I’d like for us to examine & exxxxploooore all of our senses. We all sense things other than just from our eyes, our ears, our nose, our mounts or fingertips. We ALL have a certain guide or sense that comes from the inside out… Our conscience or soul.” Tony spoke up, “Our guts!” Judy asked, “You want to invent a soul?” Rooosha smiled, “Judy we can’t reinvent the wheel. We all have a wheel soul that is already working. I’m asking, how can we enhance what we already really, or should I say ‘wheelly’ have?” Dr. Rooosha leaned forward and touched his hands to his toes folding himself in half. Then rose up slowly reaching his hands toward the ceiling. He took a deep breath and lower them to his side then said, “Here is a hint… Think of the hamster on his exercise wheel. He goes on that thing for fun and because it’s there. He, or she doesn’t go on it just to exercise in order to lose weight so that the other hamsters will stop calling him FATTY!” He patted his tummy then continued, “If we can find a way for people to jump into their soul, and use it, it could bring great enhancement to our personal relationships and even more peace to the world. Maria?!”, Dr. Rooosha called out. she rose to her feet. He asked, “Do ‘choose’, I mean, do shoes have a soul? Ha, ha!!” He laughed. Maria smiled and came back just as witty, “See, I mean, jess, I MEEAN, YYYes, and it has eyes and a tongue and of course it’s heels too.” “It heals to?!” He said back with a grin. Dr. Rooosha’s very presence brought great joy. He carried around with him something that seemed to lack in other people. The man shined, and although misunderstood by those with no sense of humor, he was still, nevertheless, respected by the greatest scientists, philosophers, teachers, leaders and let’s not forget how all children loved his quirky and mysterious ways. After all, he did invent a basketball that had nitro in it instead of air. That thing would bounce so high and fast you could grab it and nearly float to the basket. He mixed chemical compounds and made them into extraordinary and useful functions and features that added spice to life. On this day Rooosha wanted to do more that evaluate how various elements react with one another. Today he desired to explore how to come in contact with your soul. He was about to try various antics, some seemed silly, others were so simple that even a child was able to grasp it. His mission today was to point out how even little kid know right from wrong and are able to make decisions, life decisions, based on something from deep within. He got his friends, many who were also employees, to take note of all their differences and yet what they all had in common, a sense somewhere buried down inside them, their soul. There were about 30 of them gathered today. Everyone was eager to participate. Some of them who were normally quite were ready to speak up and some who usually talked too much were ready to listen. As I write about this I will try to include everything that happened and all that was said but I’m honestly not sure I can capture here how awesome, fun and informative this day was. As you read it maybe you’ll discover somethings about yourself too.

Here are a few of the things he did that day to stimulate & encourage his closest friends to look at their hearts a little deeper.

First, he pulled a deck of playing cards out of his pocket. He riffled or fanned through the cards, showing everyone that it looked just like a regular deck of cards. He asked Mark, the one he asked to be the “eyes”, to watch closely and tap Judy, the ears, when he thinks the deck should stop. “Judy you then tap me, the mouth, when to yell STOP!.”, were his final instructions.
They did so and then he had Tony, representing touch, take out the card Dr. Rooosha stopped at. He had them all look at it but not show him. Dr. Rooosha smiled and said, “Okay Tony, put it back in the deck where you took it from.” After Tony obliged the doctor layed down the deck of cards and made a few laps around the table they were all sitting at. He began by slowly walking & he picked up speed until he was running as fast as he could. They were becoming a little dizzy but kept their eyes on him to make sure he couldn’t fool them. He finally stopped, tapping the person closes to him on the head yelling, “DUCK!” It was Tony & he responded by literally ducking. They never knew when to take Dr. Rooosha serious, literally, or not. The doctor smiled then tapped John, “GOOSE!” Rooosha ran as if John would give chase but he didn’t. Dr. Rooosha gained his composure and said, “Thank you for not chasing me John.” John smiled a bit then said with a smerk, “Yep, no problem.” After a few years of knowing Ray Rooosha, then working for and with him, John knew he didn’t always have to play along. Rooosha returned to the head of the table, caught his breath saying, “Walking around all of you, trying to read your minds is very, very hard. I thought that the faster I moved the faster I would think and be able to gather your collective thoughts. You were thinking about the card you saw, weren’t you?” Maria said, “IwHass still thiiinkin’ of Choes!” Jill, a girl who worked in the kitchen said, “Now I’m thinking of the game, duck, duck goose!” Mr. Miff, the head Butler reminded everyone, “John is it!” Dr. Rooosha looked at his silly, yet usually restrained, old friend and said, “Miff, your always my Silly Old Goose.” Rooosha was still catching his breath letting out a, “WHEW, how will I ever guess what that card was? Hmmmm.” He scratched his head and suggested, “Let’s all take a drink from the cups in front of us. A toast to all of us.” He raised his cup and they all did the same. One by one they began to notice that on the bottom of every cup there was something written, including Rooosha’s cup. They all read, “King of hearts”, the very card that was picked. “Ha, ha…Do it again!”, cheered several of them. “OKAY, but this time let’s make it appear a little more interesting…” He flipped through the cards again. This time he fanned John with them. John yelled, “Stop there!” “John, you are the nose.” Dr. Rooosha reminded them. John replied, “No now I am the goose.” John made the nasally sound of a goose, “HOOONK. STHOP THHAAR!” They all laughed, especially Rooosha, as he tried to speak, “HeeyHHou’ve beeHeen praHActicHEHeing HA, HAAAAAA!” Rooosha then said, “Okay, Jill! Give Tony a hand and pull out a card from where I stopped.” She did so and showed everyone as Rooosha turned his back. He loved hearing their amusement. “OH KAY DOE KAY DONKEY.” John yelled, “GOOSE NOSE!” “Yes, sorry. Johnose, put it back in the deck.” Rooosha reached for a piece of fruit the kitchen staff had placed out on the table. He asked, “Mr. Miff did you inspect all the fruit that was put out today?” Miff took his job very serious and replied, “Of course sire. It is all from our ‘all nature all’ garden.” “Only the best.”, confirmed Rooosha as he held one of the oranges up to the light & eyeballed it. “Mark, you are the eyes, check this out.” The doctor tossed it to him. Mark examined it, “Yep, looks good.” Rooosha held up a hand gesturing Mark to toss it back then asked them all to grab an orange and slice their’s open. As they did the room erupted with their amazment. Everyone one of their oranges had a card inside, the king of hearts. Rooosha flipped the top card in the original deck over, it too was the king of hearts. He gave it a tapped, picked up the whole deck and riffle through it showing how the whole deck was now all the king of hearts card. They all gasped as he said, “How could I go wrong in guessing it was the king of hearts again when the whole deck is the King of hearts?” They were boggled because they saw the deck was not all the same king of hearts just a few minutes ago. Rooosha took a slice of orange and bit into it as he explained, “This orange was made to eat. You’d have a hard time using fruits & vegetables as a deck of cards. They are not made for it. Although, I guess it is possible…” He paused to ponder that as he looked up and to the right, then the left as if he was checking both hemispheres of his brain. Tony said, “You could use them like poker chips!” John wanted to remind Mark he owed him 50 peanuts from their last game. Dr. Rooosha continued, “Yes, yes, like we do when literally playing for peanuts.” His eyes met John’s eyes as they smerked and both looked toward Mark who was staring down at his orange, peeling off a wedge to eat. Rooosha decided to stay on topic, “So, a good poker player, I mean magician, never tells how they did their trick, however, I’m not really a good magician. How was I able to be sure the one you picked was always the king of hearts?” Mr. Miff knew the answer but waited. He wanted them to think about it. Jill naturally looked at Miff. She couldn’t read minds but read his nonverbal que. She suggested, “IT IS THE DECK?!”, she blurted out the answer loud, paying no attention to the shy filter that normally kept her from sharing. Tony chimed in, “IF the whole deck is king of hearts yeah, but…” Dr. Rooosha picked up the deck, using his index finger and thumb he fanned through them again. As they watched the riffle they all blinked twice as they saw the deck had changed back again to a normal deck with all the suit. Dr. Rooosha explained, “Because this deck it ‘created special’ with all King of hearts how could you not pick the King of hearts right?” Jill shouted again, shocking everyone there, “IT CHANGED BACK AGAIN.” “Freaky!”, replied John. Tony asked, “Dr. Rooosha, don’t show us exactly how you knew we’d always pick the king of hearts or how in the world there was one in every orange but…ugh, seriously….HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!” Miff and Rooosha exchanged looks as the doctor said, “Okay, I won’t reveal the whole trick but, only with this deck can that trick be done. It is a special deck, made with the ability to…fool you. It was created to do just that. You couldn’t even play a normal game of ‘Go Fish’ with this deck. If I showed you how it is made you would all see that it is not some type of strange mystical ability I, nor the cards have. If I showed you how to use this deck you would all be able to do the same thing.” “With practice and a little help.”, added Mr. Miff. Rooosha smiled big saying, “Yep! I hope that this will drive home, or deal out another point.” Dr. Rooosha then began to deal out the cards as he asked, “If all of us were just one of fifty two cards or if we only had one attribute, trait or characteristic like, if we owned a dimond…” John said, “Or 10 dimonds.”, as he held up the card he got. Judy said, “I got 1 spade!” The gardening crew laughed. Rooosha welcomed their participation as he said, “Yes, if you were all just defined by what you do, or own, or some lable assigned to us…” John added, “I’d be the 10 of gooses, geese!” Tony said, “I’d have 4 clovers!” Rooosha was pleased that they were grasping this and confirmed, “Yes, you are more and possess more than just some good luck charm or limited trait.” Maria said, “I am a queen.” She smiled and her eyes met with Lafayette’s who replied, “You are more than a queen Maria.” Dr. Rooosha drove home the kicker, “You see, you are all playing with a full deck. You all have qualities in you that are worth so much. Although, we are all limited in some areas or another, we are all human. Within each of us, regardless of our skin color, heritage, race, sex, makeup, we are still made up with one very common bond, we all have a soul. How can you and I be sure we have a soul, a spiritual side? Because we are human.”

Just as Dr. Paul Levi, a medical doctor Dr. Rooosha’s had on his staff, was about to express his own strick religious beliefs he heard Rooosha say, “Regardless of your religion or religious up bringing, we all have a soul. We are not here to provide anyone with answers on what to do with your soul or tell each other what we personally believe is the proper responsible of us humans once we get in touch with our souls. I just want us to get in touch with it. If you feel, at some point or another, like sharing your personal belief, that is fine just don’t insist that we conform to the same exact philosophy and shove it down our throats or I promise you we’ll collectively throw up all over you. I’m sure that would be the very response you were trying to avoid. I know that some of you believe we were created by God. Some of you believe we were formed from the sea. Some believe both God and evolution. We are not here to form a belief of what happened before we were created or decide what we believe happens to us after we die but to investigate, search and discover what is inside us here and now. John thought about how doctor Rooosha was the first Christian that he worked for who didn’t try to get him to accept Christ as his savior. It was obvious that doctor Rooosha believed Christ was real and he tried to live as Jesus did but he never pushed, forced or tried to make John feel uncomfortable for expressing that he did not believe. He loved being around a strong man of faith who didn’t try to strong arm everyone around him who believed differently. Dr. Rooosha was accepting yet faithful to what he personally believed. As John was deep in thought he heard Rooosha say, My intentions are not to convert, convince or condemn. I just want all of us to have a heart to heart discussion and go on a quest to seek, find, and show that side of us that is beyond our skin.” He grabbed his face & pulled out his cheeks then patted his belly again. “Beyond this shell or earth suit is something more. You won’t see it with your eyeballs but you will see the true person by how they act. You can not see spirits, just like you can’t see the wind. You can see the effects of the wind but you can’t see the wind. You can’t see someone’s breath, YOU CAN SMELL IT, but you can not see it. Each of us, who we really are, comes from deep within. A tribe in Africa uses the term, Kidney. Another group in India call it, their Liver. We sometimes call it our heart, a major organ.” Mr. Miff spoke up, “I love you with all my Kidney Dr. Rooosha.” He replied, “And I love you with all my Liver.” John thought about how his Liver hated liquor because of the damage he allowed it to cause years ago. There were several faiths & religions represented at the table. Some didn’t believe anything in particular or just weren’t sure. There was no denying that Dr. Rooosha not only had heart but he was truly a soul searching individual. He loved when he saw someone with a deep passion for something. He was also well aware that some people, like the over zealous nuts who picketed out in front of his house took it upon themselves to be the final judge and jury on any progress being made. Sadly, some people, outside, were so close minded that they allowed no room for freewill. He was well aware that many people let their minds control their souls rather than the other way around. Inside his home, on this day, at this table, Dr. Rooosha was pleased to be with friends who, although they had different convictions, theologies and practices from one another they all respected each other. They were free and encouraged to all practice their own faiths without judging those who choose to believe differently or not believe at all. He exercised free choice, freewill and allowed room for those whose faith was even based on superstitions. He was confident in his own faith and belief in a God & creator who was truly sovereign to accept all people who had not come to put their faith in Him. Dr. Rooosha was convinced that it was God’s job to reveal Himself to others. Rooosha was a willing vessel but didn’t try to play the role of the saving source. He lived out what was revealed to him and let others decide for themselves. He knew that even if a person chose not to decide anything, they still had made a choice. Dr. Rooosha reiterated, “Nature is a wonderful thing and it is natural for us to either look into exploring the condition of our souls or neglected doing it at all. Most of the time many, not all, don’t do it until they meet up with some type of crisis or catastrophic situation. As you all know I normally explore nature but I’d like for all of you to help me explore things that come naturally to us. Let’s look into common sense and discover or at least unveil some of the mysteries we haven’t tapped into that are in us naturally. Some of you have already discovered a supernatural power outside of yourselves that helps you. Some believe that all the power comes from within yourselves and others believe that there are several gods that aid all human, while others believe there is no one God let alone several and if there is, he or she doesn’t care. Regardless of all that, which you can all seek on your own time, I want us to solely look at our own insides, like a spiritual x-ray. The only way to see bones is with a physical x-ray machine. I want us to put on some type of spirit glasses, not the sunglasses with windshield whippers, and see our own spirit and the spirit of others.” Then he sang a cheer and clapped his hands like a cheerleader, “I got spirit, yes I do, I got spirit, how ’bout you?” A few people sang it back in the same manner. He asked, “What makes a full grown man paint his face & belly with team colors and brave the freezing cold to cheer on his favorite football team?” The same few called out, “TEAM SPIRIT!” Those who were not participating began to catch on that this time together, let alone everyday working together was a participation sport. He asked, “What drives people to accomplish a task for the greater good?” Everyone said, “TEAM SPIRIT!” He smiled at their vigor and joked a little, “Okay, okay. Calm down. Don’t get too excited we don’t want a mob mentality. Don’t go starting a cult or something, there are too many of those already.” As he spoke he began to move around and stretch his legs. He thought, ‘I bet they could all use some fresh air too.’ So he asked them, “Please, follow me out here.” As he approached his huge floor to ceiling windows and opened the sliding glass door and stepped out. “This balcony is very well buit, Right Phil?!” His contractor assured him, “It will hold all of us! Have some faith.” They stepped out into the cool fresh air that was balanced out perfectly with the warmth of the sun as Dr. Rooosha said, “If this mansion, let alone huge balcony was built incorrectly or on sand the foundation would collapse and we’d all be in danger.” Then he shared a story about a Mr. John T. Hanson, “He was a brilliant engineer and had figured out how to, not only make a robot that functioned like a human, rather than just a single small android he build a monstrous, enormous amusement park that functioned as much like a human being as possible. Perhaps you heard about The Forever Happy Amusement Park?” Many had heard rumors and a few had researched facts. Some didn’t know the name of the guy but knew the name of the park. Dr. Rooosha went on, “So, if you have not heard, Mr. Hanson’s biggest challenge was that The Park was was not fully human even though the way it functioned was very much like a human. It breathed, it could talk & reply. It was able to move connected parts, however, it was still not human because it lacked a soul. He was able to reproduce everything but…a heart or conscience. It was still just another man made machine, an amazing high technical one, but still just a machine not a woman or man, not HUman.” They all pondered for themselves for a few moments in silent thought then he broke the silence with, “Let’s eat, more than fruit. We’ll consider more after lunch or ‘flip the crap’ after we eat.” As they moved back inside to eat Jill, from the kitchen staff, asked Bill, the head chef, “What does he mean by flip the crab?” Bill reminded her how they cook the soft shell crab, “Remember I yell, ‘FLIP THE CRAB!’ when it’s time to cook the other side?” “Yeah?” “It is just an expression that we’ll be cooking up the other side of the conversation later.” Jill replied, “Oh.”, even though she still wasn’t sure if she got it.

As they ate they not only shared food they shared their hearts. Somethings they discussed had nothing to do with the reason they gathered this day, to search for the human soul, however, they also discussed that main topic. Dr. Paul Levi, was a devoted Jew and Bill provided kosher meals for him and anyone else of the Jewish faith. There were a few Muslims who sometimes required an alternative meal, as well as, others who were various degrees of vegetarians and people with restricted diets. Just as the food they took in was different, so also was their personal belief systems, however, no of that mattered when it came to gaining more understanding of the human soul. Dr. Levi shared that he had heard of a scientist who weighed the human body after death and documented that there was a difference in weight, “It was lighter.” Dr. Rooosha said, “Yes, I’ve read a few studies on that as well.” John asked, “So, you think our soul has some weight to it & it leaves our body when we die?” Maria claimed, “Oh I hope so.” Maybel, better known as May, who worked in the flower gardens expressed her hopes, “I hope my soul weighs considerably less than I do and if I get a new body it is thinner than I am now.” John and Joan agreed with that for themselves. They all began to realize that there was so much they didn’t know. Some had not given any thought to it before while others were established in their faith of what happens to their soul when they die while still others were still developing a faith regarding their soul. Dr. Rooosha said, “I hope you all enjoy this today and consider not only of what happens to the human soul when we die but really focus on the here and now. Get in touch, grasp and grip your souls while you are alive.” Tony expressed to Judy how fast the time working here goes. He had only been on staff for a few months. Judy had worked for Dr. Rooosha for years and she was still very happy. She said, “Time flies when you’re having fun!” Mark offered a corny joke, “You know what Kirmit The Frog says, ‘Times fun when you’re having flies’!” Judy moaned at his humor, “Ugh, ok, ok, not while we are eating, Mark.” Marked nodded, “Okay, after.” She rolled her eyes & moaned again as other began to awe at the lunch in front of them.

AFTER LUNCH

“Now, let’s flip the crab.”, said Bill. After they enjoyed a great lunch Dr. Rooosha asked, “Are you all ready to do a few more things that may help all of us soul surf? Tony asked, “You mean soul search?” “THAT TOO!”, replied the doctor as he pulled a cotton ball out of his pocket saying, I want this cotton ball to represent a cob webs we find in our minds and all over our spiritual life. We all look in the mirror and try to fix our hair, except Bill because….he wears a hat.” Bill always wore a chef hat but he was also bald. “We all try to make sure our outsides look okay, physically, but we don’t always open up and check on the condition of our souls, what shape we are in spiritually.” Bill realized he still had his chef’s hat on so he took it off asking, “How does my hair look?” There was a great response. John who would occasionally light heartedly joke with Bill said, “Glad you wear a hat to keep hair out of the food you’re cooking. I’m glad you took it off too. No more hiding that big beautiful bare naked truth.” That brought on a lot of laughs but even more laughed as Bill replied, “We ALL have skeletons in our closets. We all have dust and dirt in our spiritual lives. We try to clean things up and…shave off the extra things that weight us down so we can think clearer. I’m bald so that is one less thing I have to think about.” Mark asked Dr. Rooosha if he could take a second to tell a quick joke. Dr. Rooosha knew he’d still get his point across and welcomed all participation, even slightly side trails off the main topic. “Let’s hear it!”, encouraged Dr. Rooosha. Mark glanced at Judy. She smiled and Mark stated, “Ya know if a man is bald in the front he is a good lover and if the man is bald just in the back of his head he is a good thinker but if he is completely bald all over he just thinks he’s a good lover!” They all cheered as Rooosha said, “As long as Bill keeps being a good chef I don’t care how and what he thinks or how good of lover he is.” They all agreed. Rooosha also used this time to thank Bill & his staff, not only for the great lunch today but, for all their hard work all the time. He then went back to the inspirational illustrations. Dr. Rooosha had no trouble getting back to the subject, “Bill shaves his outter head. It is clean & smooooth, but inside our heads we sometimes find cobwebs and confusion no one can see. We can try to ignore them but eventually we find that we need to knock down the cob webs and make them disappear.” As he said that he placed the cotton ball in his right hand but when he opened it, it was gone. Most of them saw Dr. Rooosha play around with slight of hand illusions before so they weren’t too surprized. Tony, who was the youngest and newest didn’t know Rooosha was so good at it. Everyone watched as he then reached his empty hand up to his ear saying, “But…there always seem to be more cobwebs.” He pulled another cotton ball out of his ear. “So, we knock those down too!”, he said as he made that one disappear too. “But… everyone has them!” He pulled a new one out of John’s ear. “We see others have them too.”, Rooosha said as he pointed at Bill, who had one sitting on top of his bald head. Rooosha said, “Then we notice we have some we didn’t even know about! Pick up your hat, Bill.” Bill picked up his chef hat and it was filled with cotton balls. The Dr. went on, “But…one day we start to discover them more and more.” He pull one out of his shoe. “EVERYONE, CHECK YOUR SHOES!”, he cried out as if it were an emergency. To this day no one knows how he got a cotton ball in every shoe. They figured Bill was in on the ‘Hat trick’ but when each of them found one in their own shoe they were genuinely surprised. After they clamored over that Rooosha said, “So we try to do a real thorough clearing. We try to clean them up and THROW THEM OFF!” As he said that he flung his arm as if he was throwing a baseball. He remained starring toward the oversized windows. Then showed a face of frustration. “It is then that we realize there are other rooms in our soul we didn’t even know about or think about and when we look…look…look outside the window…see?” There was a cotton ball on the side ledge of the window. It was now outside on the balcony just as he said. “It is then that we wonder if we are ever going to get rid of the cob webs. The problem is not the cobwebs, we can knock them down. Our cleaning staff is the best and we all pickup after ourselves but cobweds will always come back… BECAUSE, the problem is not the cob webs. The problem is… the spider.”, he said as he opened his hand revealing a spider. “We must get rid of the spider!” Judy shouted, “OKAY, THAT IS A SPIDER!” Rooosha placed a class over it containing it. He went a little deeper by asking, “What is the spider?” John, a recovering alcohilic said, “Could be Drugs or Alcohol, I know it messed up any clear thinking I had.” Lafayette said, “It could be another person. A toxic relationship.” Patrick said, “The world wide web!” Rooosha waited a few seconds for more to answer. The chef spoke up, “Could be what we eat!” Dr. Rooosha said, “Nothing you cook.” Bill confirmed, “No of course not. I mean what we eat mentally. What we put in our minds and what we…take to heart. What we take in from around us.” Jill said, “Garbage in garbage out.” Dr. Levi (Paul) said, “Bad philosophy can cause a foggy head.” Dr. Rooosha agreed with all of them and offered a leading question, “What or who really determine how many webs are up there in our head?” Tony said, “The Spider!” Rooosha said, “…and who let THE SPIDER in, ignores it or kills it?” Mark did a Smokey The Bear impression, “Only you can prevent forest fires!” Rooosha’s face lit up & his eyes sparkled as he said, “YEP! Really the spider is your soul and until THAT is changed you’ll continue to have cob webs. We may allow ‘things’ to effect us but people and situations can only drive you nuts if you hand them the keys.” Rooosha always spoke not just with his lips but with his whole body. As he said that last line he produced a set of keys, as if pulling them out of thin air. He set them on the table cloth in front of him, grasped the cloth and pulled it extremely hard and fast. The whole table cloth didn’t come out, just a little small one, the size of a washcloth. With amusement he announced, “AAAND NOOOW…Time for our next representation, presentation and inspiration. I introduce you to…”, he cupped his hands around his mouth to project his voice, “WILLY THE MAGNIFICENT!”

Dr. Rooosha’s mansion had all kinds of hidden rooms and passages, they made full use of them by allowing WILLY THE MAGNIFICENT to entered the room from above. They all cheered. Willy was a simple street performer Rooosha had met a few years ago. He continued with his intro., “Maybe you’ve seen Willy before. He is in no way related to The Everlasting Wonka or Charlie Buckets but he does love candy and is an amazing magician. Please give him you attention.” Rooosha sat down to enjoy the presentation too. Willy’s words captivated their interest as he explained, “I brought with me today 3 tins.” He opened the cans/tins so they could see two were empty and one was full of mints. He asked, “How many have played the game of shells where someone moves around a shell and you try to pick the one with something under it?” Several hands went up. John said, “I not only played it I’ve won money doing it!” “Perfect!”, Willy proclaimed, “So, I’ll be that someone & move these tins around and YOU, your name?” “John the magnificent.” John boasted. Willy loved it, “Okay John…” John persisted, “…The magnificent” Willy said, “Yes, maybe we are related!” “Bother from another mother!” Mark added. Tony said, “Same middle name too, THE!” Willy loved their enthusiasm, “Yes, we share that with Frosty, Kermit and…” Jill added, “Smokey THE bear.” “GREAT!”, Willy continued with instructions, “So, John THE Magnificent goose, I heard about you…You, KEEP your EYE ON THE FULL ONE!” He closed all the tins then slide them around. Everyone’s eyes were following the one they knew was full. Willy stopped the shuffle and looked up. “Everybody got it? Trust John to pick the full one.” John pointed to the middle one that was on the left before Willy moved them all around trying to confuse them. Willy asked, “Are you sure?” They all agreed, “YES!” Willy picked up the one on the left. They all heard the mints rattle around as he shook it vigorously. “Okay, let’s try it again.”, challenged Willy. “He shook it again and reminded them, “KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE FULL ONE!” He slide the three tins around and stopped as he called, “READY? John what do you think?” John said, “The middle one again.” He looked around. All heads nodded yes. Once again Willy picked up the left one & shook it. Again, they heard its fullness. Willy suggested, “How about we just do it with two tins?” It didn’t seem fair for Willy but they figured they were bound to get it right with only two to keep an eye on. Willy reminded them, “Just watch the one you KNOW IS FULL.” He shook it again so they’d know. He moved the two tins around as if that would fool them. Jill shouted, “STOP.” Willy froze. She laughed, “Hee hee, can I pick?” John said, “Sure, I was going to pick the opposite of what I know if the full one.” Jill confidently said, “No, it is this one!”, as she pointed to the one she had kept her eye on. Willy Slid forward the one Jill insisted on. He asked,“What makes this one different from the other two?”, he picked it up and gave it a loud shake. Several spoke over the rattle, “IT IS FULL!”, they agreed. Young Jill was so proud as she smiled at John then looked around to see if anyone acknowledged her correct guess. Willy tapped the top of tin as he asked, “ARE YOU SUUUURE? You think you got it right?” Jill replied, “We all did.” He opened it, revealing it was empty after all. He slid the chosen one back then closed it and claimed, “Maybe it is empty cause the mints are in an unexpected place…like…ah…under that bowl of fruit in the center of the table.” Dr. Rooosha suggested, “Or inside the oranges!” Willy exclaimed, “THAT would be cool!” Bill picked up the bowl, there was a pile of mints. While they were looking Willy slid one of the two tins forward as he asked again, “So, what makes this one different from the other two?” No one was sure if they should answer, “It is empty, or it is full?” So, to remove all doubt he opened it, revealing that it was full again. They gave him a standing ovation. However, he wasn’t done, “Why did you believe it was empty or full? Cause I told you, because you saw it? Why? BECAUSE OF WHAT YOUR EYES TOLD YOU OR WHAT YOUR EARS TOLD YOU?” John had lots of street smarts and said, “Because of what we HEARD!” “I use to herd sheep!” Mark attempted his dry humor again. He was trying to get Judy to roll her eyes again. It worked. Several people at the table began to realize that Willy had shaken the tin they picked each time but he had not shown them by opening it. Tony had that same theory but wasn’t sure. Maria said, “But…we saw da mins! Den day were gone. I like this gaaame!” John admitted, “You are good! You could make a fortune on the streets!” Willy smerked, “It’s illegal to gamble on the streets.” Dr. Rooosha said, “A fortune in tips he means. Haahaa.” Willy nodded then asked, “Would you all mind if I share a little more about the personal meaning behind this trick for me?” Dr. Rooosha asked them, “Well, what do you all say?” They began to clap again so Willy shared, “Okay, so, I was in a Detox Center when I started working on this trick. I took a few things I saw, some of the great illusionist like Penn & Teller and combined it with a few ideas I had. You see, some people had lost their patience with me and they were convinced that I was empty, like the empty tins. If you start to believe that and maybe even tell yourself, ‘You are empty!’ after a while you’ll buy into that myth. You may have a hard time finding your own heart and knowing where it is, where you stand spiritually as a person but you do have a soul. People may tell you, ‘Your full of mints!’ or, ‘Your full of… something else’, and it ain’t sweet smelling mints. But ladies & gentlemen I am so glad Dr. Rooosha invited me here today to share with all of you. What is important is what you know about your own life and what is really in your heart regardless of what others say. May you all fill your hearts with good things. People may tell you you’re worthless and empty, but you are valuable. Thank you.” With that being said he threw something on the ground that created a thick cloud of smoke and in the magicians’ classic manner he disappeared from site. They loved it and hoped that wherever he was he could hear their cheers and applause.

Dr. Rooosha was thrilled that it all went even better than he could have imagined. He stood to his feet and said, “Looks can be deceiving huh?” Maria said, “When you introduced Willy…” several people shouted, “THE MAGNIFICENT!” She smiled and said, “I was going to add that! When he came in I wasn’t sure if he was a tattoo artist or a musician or magician or…I didn’t know what to think.” John added, “He was really good!” Judy said, “I didn’t like all his tattoos and those…”, she motioned toward her face, grabbed at her earlobes, tugged on her lip then pinched her nostal as she referred to his body piercings. John said, “Hey, at least he didn’t have… like 25 necklaces holding his neck & head up.” “Like a rap artist ya mean?”, asked Tony. “John clarified, “No, I mean like in some African tribes they have tight necklaces going vertically up their neck, ya know.” Bill said, “Some put sized plates in their lips.” Dr. Rooosha said, “Yes, I saw a National Geographic special where one of the young girls said, ‘I don’t care if I never get a husband, I’ll never do that as a sign of my beauty and acceptance.’ Different from our culture huh?” Maria said, “That is the opposite of American culture.” “Yes it is. To feel accepted by some communities you have to even alter your looks.” Dr. Rooosha said. “Like some gangs.”, John added. “In America?”, Maria asked shockingly. Mark confirmed, “Not just American, all over major hardcore cities there are groups of people, gangs, who require branding or sometimes self-mutilation.” Jill spoke up, “I heard some gangs require you hurt or even kill an innocent person randomly. Someone you don’t even know.” Maria blurted out, “Shheesh, and we thought the meHiCo mob was bad.” Judy asked, “What do you mean by branding?” Mark explained, “You know, like a farmer brands their cattle with a red hot poker, leaving their ranch symbol, logo or initials.” Judy’s face scuntched up as she tried to joke a little, “Remind me to never join a gang!” That brought some good laughes. Mark said, “Wearing a pant suit or dress coat and tie is a lot less painful but if you’re a business woman or man you’d be laughed out of a job if you didn’t.” John said, “I went for one of my court hearing in shorts and they kicked me out of the courtroom.” Bill said, “Many high end restaurants require you wear a jacket, a suit coat.” Dr. Rooosha mentioned, “Years ago almost everyone wore hats, men & women. That hat had to be removed when indoors or it was disrespectful.” “CHINA!”, LaFayette said louder than he intended to. Everyone looked at him. He said, “Hah! Sorry, that was louder MUCH LOUDER than I mean it to be hee hee” Dr. Rooosha encouraged him to continue with his thoughts. He did so by saying, “In CHINA, they sometimes, in some parts, some of them force their women to walk several feet behind the men and from when girls are really really young they force their feet into extremely small shoes to keep their feet really small.” Mr. Miff said, “A lot of cultures use to, some still do, treat women inferior.” Dr. Levi added, “Some cultures require their women to cover their faces.” Muhammad, one of the Muslims there said, “That is for the keeping of tradition and the women are not forced to. They do it out of respect for themselves. There is nothing wrong with that!” Dr. Rooosha clarified, “He is not saying that it is wrong.” Dr. Levi offered his apologies, “No, no, not wrong just different, a different culture. Look at orthodox Jews, they dress a certain way and they don’t cut their facial hair and, get this, even if they are bald, some even wear a hat with their original side locks, ah…what some call, side burns, sewed into the sides of their hats. They are trying to stick strictly and literally with levitical law ‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.’ from Leviticus 19:27. People who are Orthodox Jews would not even share a meal in the same presence of anyone who is not Jewish.” Jill said, “My mom was Jewish. I remember her telling me that.” “Yeah, not a wrong or right practise or custom, just different. I am Jewish but don’t agree with that, not that I say that they are wrong, I just don’t agree and abide by that rule.” John asked, “But you still consider yourself as Jewish right? I notice you have the…the ah, hat. I hope that’s not offensive to call it a hat.” Dr. Levi laughed, “We call it a Kippa.” Jill said, “I thought was called a Yamaka?” Dr. Levi clarified, “Yes, depending on your pronunciation it is a Yarmulke. Some call it a Kippah or Kippa. In yiddish, ah…our more modern Jewish language I guess you’d call it, as compared to the traditional Hebrew, we’d call it Koppel. Again, it is worn to fulfill the customary requirement held by orthodox halachic authorities that the head be covered.” Muhammad said, “Nothing wrong with that.” The two men of different faiths smiled at each other. Dr. Rooosha was glad they respected each other and wished that all Muslims, all Jews, all humans could get along like this. He spoke softy, “Thank you gentlemen and ladies. We could talk all day about what people do according to customs, traditions, their faith and why they do them but I’d like to just say one more thing on this subject, specifically regarding the Jewish race if I may Paul, ah, Doctor Levi?” Dr. Levi gracious replied, “Of course…this is your home.” Rooosha asked, “Correct me if I am wrong but to this day, mainly just in Israel, there are priests who wear big tall hats with a small box built into it. They wear that because they are observing their literal translation that they are to have God’s word not figuratively inside their thoughts or on their minds but literally on their…”, Rooosha held his hand up to his forehead, “…literally on their mind.” Dr. Paul Levi confirmed, “Yes, you got it pretty right. Not bad for a gentile…ha HAA! Like you said we could talk all day, probably just about Jewish heritage, let alone other cultures, creeds, religions and races. The Jews alone have all kinds of levels or degrees or sects of practicing the faith. There are the traditional, the modern Orthodox, the ultra orthodox, the secular and what we wear, especially hats, tell everyone what we want them to know about us. It doesn’t always accurately describe what they believe in their hearts or how they act but it should. Some strongly believe and say, ‘Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel and they say peaceful coexistence for Israel and an independent Palestinian state is not possible.’ I don’t agree.” Muhammad said, “And some people think Muslims are the bad guys.” Dr. Rooosha reminded everyone, “Every different race of humans have…humans and as humans you’ll find that some are trashy, some are rude, some are clean living, some polite, some even think their race should be exclusive and the only ones to live. We are a mess as a human race, the human soul is dark; however, we are also beautiful.” Jill asked, “I know you want to talk about…like more other things and stuff but like, doesn’t the Catholic Pope wears…like a, like, um, Yamaka hat too?” Dr. Rooosha addressed Jill, “That’s okay Jill, good point. To be accurate the Pope does not wear a yarmulke or kippah, but a zucchetto, a name which comes from the Italian expression little gourd, as for the vegetable zucchini, since the hat resembles a small pumpkin cut in half.” Maria said, “What? No, I trust you Doctor Rooosha but I know you joke a lot too! Is that reeeealy true?” He laughed, “Honest. I know it sounds funny or silly…” Judy commented, “It almost sound sacrilegious.” Dr. Rooosha solemnly vowed, “I am being totally, completely, seriously, honest. The zucchetto’s official Latin name for the Pope’s cap is Pileolus. It is also called Soli Deo, Latin for God alone, to denote that those wearing such a hat have consecrated their lives to the Lord. According to Catholic hierarchy, different color pileolus denote different status within the Catholic clergy, thus the Pope wears a white zuccheto, cardinals wear red ones…” John shouted, “GO CARDINALS, the baseball team and the…Catholic…guys!” Rooosha smerked and finished with, “Bishops wear purple and priests wear black zucchetos.” Mr. Miff said, “Often what people wear is an indication of their religion, political status or lifestyle of choice.” Rooosha drove home the point, “If I walked around in board short or a swimsuit and flip flops what might that say about me.” John said, “That you are one chill dude!” Jill felt like she had the answer and raised her hand anxious to answer, as if she was in a college class. “Jill, ya gotta pee?” asked Rooosha. “No. Why?” He just said, “You want to add something?” She was glad no one else gave the correct answer before she got a chance to, “You’d be a surfer!” Jill wasn’t always the smartest person in the room but no one treated her dumb. “YES! YOU GOT IT!” She was so proud of herself. Dr. Rooosha continued, “Outward appearances are important, don’t get me wrong, but they can be deceiving. Also, all too frequently people will make a judgment call on another person on their looks alone. Our bodies are just a shell. Our real worth & true character is inside.” This whole time Dr. Rooosha had his hands behind his back. He brought his hands around to in front of him revealing a brick. He held it up and unexpectedly threw it at Mr. Miff who caught it and threw it across the table at John. John threw it at Tony. Tony almost jumped out of the way but did manage to catch it. He was shocked that it wasn’t like any brick he had held before. Dr. Rooosha clapped his hands and called Tony to throw it to Mark. He did. Mark couldn’t wait to toss it at Judy. Judy’s eyes were telling him, “Don’t you dare.” He did anyway and she realized that the apparent danger was nonexistent so she threw it at Maria who the threw it at Lafayette. Lafayette asked Dr. Rooosha if he could throw it at the huge windows. Those who had not had a chance to touch and experience it being thrown at or to them didn’t understand what the fascination was and how they were able to catch it with such ease. Dr. Rooosha granted permission, “CHUCK IT!” Lafayette threw it full force at the floor to ceiling windows. The head housekeeper yelled, “NO!” The brick hit the window and bounced off. That is when Dr. Rooosha revealed the mystery of why this brick didn’t break the window. He picked it up and said, “It looks like a brick don’t it?” He tossed it to those who had not held it yet. It was made out of foam! The outside had the shape, textures, as well as, color of a brick but on the inside it was completely soft. Rooosha explained how some people have a harsh exterior but a soft heart. This is another illustration I absolutely love.” He pulled a GlowStick out of his pocket. “This is simple, short and sweet, althought, I wouldn’t recommend tasting it. As you can see, it is not glowing yet but as I snap it and the connection between the chemicals inside are made it is activated and only then does it glow.” Jill said, “I had a ball that only lit up when you bounce it! It looked like a normal ball but not when it hit a surface.” Rooosha said, “Yes! Perfect example.” Mark said, “That reminds me of a story!” Rooosha asked him to share it. Mark said, “Okay, it applies…on a plane ride this guy decides to put good leftover food in bag. The only bag he could find was the little bag in the seat pouch in front of him.” John said, “The barf bag?!” Mark said, “Yep. And as he was walking off the plane the airline attendant offered to take it from him and throw it away, but he said, ‘No I am saving this to eat later.’ HaHa!” Judy asked, “How does that apply here?” Dr. Rooosha said, “The value was on the inside.” Mr. Miff said, “Not just another barf bag.” John said, “The value was known only to him.” “You got it!”, said Rooosha, “How about this…” He asked as he pulled a Surgical glove out of another pocket and placed it over his head and began to blow it up. As it filled with air it kept growing in size around the top of his head. It was very funny looking. Then, just before it busted he let it go and it flew through the air. He explained why he did it, “You can’t see the air I put into that but you can see effects. That glove on the hand of a medical doctor can do some amazing things. I filled it with just hot air but a surgeon would fill a glove like that with skillful hands and provide lifesaving surgery. Remember I mentioned earlier today that the only way to tell what is wrong with your bones was to take an x-ray and that I’d like for all of us to try to have spiritual x-ray vision today in order to look in on our souls? I’ve got one more thing to maybe help us do that today.”

For the next bit of inspiration Dr. Rooosha slid his hand into his pocket and pulled his closed fist back out. Then he gave them the riddle,

“What is in my hand??? I’ll give some clues.

You may try to guess but must follow the rules.

No peeking, poking or x-ray vision.

See if you know before the revelation.

Now… here are some clues, You’ve never seen it, NO ONE has ever seen it.” Judy guessed, “Is it air?” Rooosha said, “Nope.” Maria asked, “Is it light?” Dr. Rooosha said, “Nope, and it has never seen light of day.” John asked for another hint. The doctor peeked in his hand then said, “Okay, another HINT…once you see it you will only see it for a few seconds and then it will be gone forever, never to be seen again.” They were puzzled. Lafayette asked if it was alive. Dr. Rooosha peeked in his closed hand again, made a sad face then said, with remorse, “It…it was once alive.” Jill asked if it was a hamster. Much to her relief he replied, “No.” Dr. Levi asked, “Is it a Yamaka made of wool?” Rooosha smiled, “No, sorry.” Mable asked, “Can it come back to life?” Dr. Rooosha answered, “No, I’m sorry. It cannot.” Bill jokingly asked, “Can I cook it?!” Rooosha smiled, “You can cook anything Chef Bill!”, then gave one final hint, “I’ve been referred to in this way.” That really stumped them. Tony asked, “Can you give us the clues again?” Rooosha said, “Sure. I could, but I won’t. Just kidding. Here they are, the main clues:

  • You’ve never seen it.
  • NO ONE has ever seen it.
  • It has never seen the light of day.
  • Once you see it you will only see it for a few seconds and then it will be gone forever, never to be seen again.
  • It was once alive.
  • It can not come back to life.
  • Bill, you can cook anything.
  • I’ve been referred to in this way.”

John guessed, “Is it…a soul?” Rooosha replied, “No, it is an actual object in my hand. Something you can actually see, a physical object…. Wanna see?” They were all very eager to see. He opened his hand…it was a peanut! Then he cracked open the shell saying, “Nooooo one has ever seen THIS peanut, it was always in a shell…” Then he popped it in his mouth, chewed & swallowed it. “And you’ll never see it again, TAAADAAA!” They cheered as Dr. Rooosha drove home the point, “You can’t see your soul. Our body is a shell around it.” Maria added, “My shell is extra thick.” Lafayette said, “But it fits you and you’re comfortable in it! Besides, I believe it is your soul that really matters and I love you.” She smiled and blushed a little, “And I love you, like a son Lafayette.” He responded, “I’ll accept that.” Rooosha continued, “Now, let me ask you, what must a Peanut have or need to develop, form & grow?” Jill shouted, “WATER!” Mable said, “Sunshine.” Mr. Miff offered, “Soil?” The doctor said, “YES! YES AND YES! YOU are all right, however, it you had just water, would it grow?” Jill replied, “Maybe…a lil’? No not much if at all.” Rooosha asked, “What about just sun light?”, as he brought out a bag of peanuts from under the table, opened it an threw them in the air. The snack showered down on them. Mable replied, “No, it needs soil!” Dr. Rooosha said, “YEP! Now, think of your soul, your spirit as soil. When seeds of spiritual knowledge, spiritual food, spiritual healing, spiritual growth comes…what kind of soil does it land in?” Then he shouted, “WILLY, THE MAGNIFICENT? PLEASE WEEEELCOMEBAAAAACK, WILLY THE MAGNIFICENT!” Willy lowered from the ceiling again but this time he had flat trays with dirt in them. They all clapped welcoming him back. As their cheers died down he said, “Here are 4 types of soil.” He layed them on the floor around him. He then pulled a packet of seeds out of thin air. They loved his slight of hand magic. He tossed some of the seeds toward a rectangular tin tray that actually just looked like a slab of black top with a little dry dirt sprinkled on top of it. “This soil is a sample of the path way you have leading you through your beautiful garden.” The seed landed on it. “But it is trampled on.”, he said as he stepped on it, “AAAND…” He reached into his suit coat and pulled out a morning dove, “…and birds are able to eat it before it gets a chance to get into the soil. It doesn’t even start to grow.” He released the bird and it went to his feet and feasted on the seeds in the tray. He made another packet of seeds appear as he stepped away from the hard soil & bird and stepped up to the next tray, “This patch of soil is not as hard BUT, IT IS… shallow and rocky soil.” He picked up some gravel then a few of the larger rocks, which he made vanish. “With the rocks in there, and because it is sooo shallow, the seeds may sprout up but will have no roots to go down into the soil. There is just not enough soil to sustain grown, then it dries up and dies.” The bird flew over to the rocky soil but then back to the very hard soil to continue feeding. He stepped over to the next tray, “This soil comes with weeds, thorns and some small brush.” He sprinkled some seed over it, “WATCH CLOSELY…” They couldn’t believe their eyes as some tiny flowers began to poke up. He encouraged them, “KEEP YOUR EYES ON THOSE LITTLE FLOWERS.” The flowers grew but then the weeds wrapped around them on top of the soil and chocked them out. Willy said, “The roots of the weeds also grab at the roots of the flowers, just like or worry, fear, other desires… things around us, toxic people & relationships destroy us, choke us out.” He moved over to the last tray. It was a little deeper and filled with dark rich topsoil. He picked some up in his hand, “This looks good enough to eat. There may even be some worms in there. But, I prefer what is grown in the soil more than just the soil. He reached into the air above him and instantly performed the illusion of a packet of seeds appearing. He opened it and dropped a few seeds then knelt down and pushed them just about a quarter of an inch into the good soil as he looked over his shoulder at the bird, which came flying over to him and landed on his shoulder. This soil is deep, it has been turned and plowed or tilled. The rocks removed, weeds removed ‘by the roots’. It has been cleared out. It has an acceptance for the seed that lands on it and the seed is able to grow and BLOOM.” He snapped his finger. The bird flew out of the room and a few flowers pushed up through the soil & opened up revealing colorful candy inside of them. He took the candy & distributed it. Then there was a puff of smoke like earlier and when it cleared, once again he was gone. They cheered again then Dr. Rooosha asked, “What kind of soil is your soul,your Spiritual life? Do you find that you are hard hearted?” John commented, “I am hard headed. I think that the 12 inche slide between my head and heart is broken.” Dr. Levi said, “If that is true, at least you are aware and if it is broken it can be fixed.” Tony said, “I think there are some rocks in my soil. I can be very shallow at times.” Mr. Miff said, “Turn the soil. Dig deep, find em’ and get them out.” John spoke again, “Alcohol was my bolder!” Judy said, “I can identify with the weeds. Sometimes my ‘greed’ is like a weed. Working her has taught me that there are more important things than how much money I make, save and spend.” “I am a combination of those different soils.”, admitted Mable. “Sometimes I am harsh and close minded & nothing gets in. Other times I come across a rock or bolder, like John said. There are definitely weeds but I like to think there is good soil and that when I come across good seeds it goes deep into my soul and I’m able to produce some good fruit, maybe even a little sweetness.” Dr. Rooosha agreed, “I see those good fruits in you!” They all pondered things for a while then Dr. Rooosha asked if they wanted to see Willy The Magnificent just one more time. It had not grown old with them so they cheered. This time Willy sprang up out of the floor.

He thanked them then introduced his next trick, “I call this the ‘Coin In Cup’ and I am going to show you how I do this one.” He pulled out a small, fairly shallow glass cup then reached toward Rooosha’s ear and pulled out a coin. “I will now put this coin in the cup by tapping it on the bottom of the glass.” He stretched his arms our revealing to them that there was nothing up his sleeves. They watched closely as he held the coin in his open palm and brought it up to the bottom of the glass cup, tapping it 3 times. “READY?”, he asked. They bellowed, “YEAH!” On the fourth hit they heard the coin tinkling inside the bottom of the glass cup. He asked, “Did it look like somehow I made it go through the solid bottom and into the glass?” “YOU DID!”, shouted Jill. Willy thanked her but said, “It just looks like I am passing the coin through the solid glass bottom.” Jill said, “Yeah, that is impossible. It must be a fake bottom.” “I’ll show you how I do what seems impossible.” Willy pretended to be in slow motion. He even spoke in slow motion, “NOOOW wwwwwaaatCH clooowslyyy…” He counted as he tapped the bottom with the coin again, “OOOOoone, twwooo, thhhhree…”, on the fourth hit they watched as he slowly changed the position of the coin ever so slightly. It hit the hand holding the small glass container and ended up going up & over the edge of the container and dropped into the glass. Earlier it really did look like it was going thru the bottom. He spoke normal speed again and asked, “You see in slow motion how I create the illusion? To do the trick you have to change the position of the coin to get it in glass. Insanity has been defined by doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” John said, “If i change the way I handle my money alone, things would be a lot different for me.” “Yep!”, agreed Willy, “You really are magnificent, John.” Willy sat down. John smiled and asked, “What, no smoke exit this time?” Willy laughed, “I ran out!”

“Now I’d like to tell you a true story about my grand children.”, announced Dr. Rooosha. Maria exclaimed, “Your child had children?!” Rooosha smiled and replied, “Oh, that is confusing isn’t it? My children are grand so, no..no ‘grandchildren’ yet from my grand children. I meant a story about my children, who are grand.” Jill was a little confused but most everyone else got it. He continued, “The first time I took them into a public rest room that didn’t have automatic sinks I laughed as they waved their hands under the facet trying to turn the water on. They figured it was broken. So, I turned the knobs and they got their hands wet. Then they put their hands under the soap dispenser & moved them around trying to set off the electric eye to trigger it. I pushed the button for them and soap squinted out. Then after they washed their hands they went over to get paper towels…you guessed it…they were frantically gyrating their arms and hands under the paper towel dispenser because they were so use to all those things being automatic. I had to turn knobs for them. We are all grown up now and know, no one is going to turn knobs for us. We have to figure it all out on our own and we can…not just wave hands around but put them into full use to accomplish the cleaning. That is where we stand today. So, let me ask you all. What are some things some of you do to feed your soul. What seeds are being planted, if any, and what do you do to help good things to grow in your soul?” Dr. Paul Levi said, “I wear an invisible chain mail.” Tony said, “Like a chain letter?” Paul laughed, then he realized that Tony misunderstood so he explained, “No, chain mail is the metal chain-linked armor Knights use to wear in battle. I wear and invisable one around my heart, my soul. I guard my heart.” Dr. Rooosha said, “Like what christians would call, ‘the armour of God.’ Elements you practice in your faith help you fight spiritual battles.” John said, “I have to insist on a personal prohibition of alcohol. I can’t even allow myself one drink and there are some activities I no longer participate in cause it triggers me to want a drink.” Maybel said, “I use Meditation to keep from loosing my marbles.” Judy spoke up, “Yeah I have quiet time.” As the reaponses started moving around the table in a natural flow of order each one of the 30 people there gave an answer. Mark replied, “I like to take walks in the woods.” Several people let out a gratifying sigh expressing how they enjoyed that too. Maria said, “I like to beach walk, all alone at sunrise.” Lafayette said, “Same with me but at sunset.” Mr. Miff said, “I like to read but when I am not reading I silently pray & go over some positive mantras, mottos and famous quotes. Sometimes I even do it while here at work and no one is aware because it is all going on in the link between my head & my heart.” “12 inches!” John smiled and measured out with his hands from his head to his chest.” Muhammad said, “According to my custom I kneel & pray facing east.” Rob, who was pretty silent all day said, “Art. I feel like art helps me.” Chaketta’s answer was, “Church.” LA Laquanda answered, “Prayer.” Bill said, “For me mealtimes, my mealtimes, not when I am serving others, but wait…actually when I prep, cook and serve all those things are a way I help my soul grow. I love it all, but when I stop to eat my own meal, that is when I feel like I am truly able to reflect and my soul is fed too.” Jill said, “I like to keep a diary.” Nate, Missy, James and Tosha said they journaled, some more than others. Judy spoke up again and said, “My mom had a prayer closet. She literally went into a small room that at one point was a walk in closet & at another point it was my sister’s nursery. She’d close the door and spend time alone, talking to God.” Willy said, “I read, do art, practice illusions and perform. As you’ve seen. I feel like when I am active, that is when my soul grows but also being around great people like ya’ll and yeah, time alone too helps me. What do you do Dr. Rooosha? How you get your armor on?”, asked Willy. Rooosha said, “All the above are great and each of us are so different so there will be various ways but for me music plays a big part and my personal focus is always on asking God to fill me with the Spirit that possessed Jesus Christ. As most of you know I personally believe He is the only way to eternity but I don’t condemn any of you in your own soul searching & building exercises. I lead a chat room online one time called, ‘A belief beyond belief.’ I would ask people, strangers really, to share what they believed and why. I love that, in America especially, people have freedom of religion and they can express their freewill, choose, make their own choice and not be forced to worship any particular way, person, place or thing. The government doesn’t restrict anyone, unless it comes down to harming themselves or others. The main thing today was to get in touch with our souls. I do personally believe the After life is determined by what you do or allow for your soul while alive but that wasn’t the subject & topic for us today. Today was just about the human soul, while we are alive. I know we all believe something different and we all have our reasons why but how great it has been to come together and consider, not what makes us tick scientifically, physically, religiously, politically but spiritually. I appreciate each one of you, you are good natured people and your willingness to talk about your soul searching and soul growth has been most rewarding. I’d like to close with a verse:

‘The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God , search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.’ (Jeremiah 17:9‭-‬10 MSG). May those of you who have traveled here today be safe on your way home and may you continue to search, find and feed your souls.”

~THE END~

This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.

My deepest thanks to my wife Rhonda for sticking with me through the many hours of putting up with me talking about what I wanted to write, talking about it while I write it and talking about it after it was written.
Also to all of my children Abbey, Madi, Olivia, Alexx, Kyri, Christopher and Carol-Ann, as well as, my whole family and friends for all their inspiration, love, care, prayers and support.

🎬💿🎥EXTRAS🎥💿🎬

If you enjoyed this story you’ll also enjoy “Fair Science” – a short story of a weird, crazy but brilliant scientist who invites three children into his mansion and his mind. (Dr. Raymond Rooosha)

Online publication of “Fair Science”: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/2017/06/23/the-story-fair-science/

For YouTube recordings of some on my other stories go to: STORY TIME: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnjQOVtw61eiFv27rv2rhA3-8U8EyDXya

For a list of other stories go to: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/stories-poems-and-art/

For detailed explanation of how the illusions in this story are performed in real life & how I’ve applied them go to:👉 Illustrative Illusions

If you wanna think about all this a little more go to 👉 Soul Searching (free shoe give away).

Thanks for reading, Beetle

Story – “Bite To The Bone” (EDITING NEEDED)

This story is not my typical comedy, funny, children’s type story. It’s a little more serious.  I just say that in the very beginning to give you a heads up.
At the end I will give some interesting background as to where the inspiration for this story came from. The story is completely fictional but there are some facts about scientific discoveries I ran with while writing.

If you can not stand spiders but you interested in some health facts that inspired this story go to the very bottom under, “EXTRAS”, and just read that.

Although a few of the details used in this story are scientific facts, some are theories and other parts are completely fictional. This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.

This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.

 

“Bite To The Bone”  -a short story about a scientist who discovers that mixing spider webs with tiny glass beads create some new material used to grow and repair human bones.


BITE TO THE BONE 

Steve was sitting in the dark movie theater when he felt a prick to the back his neck. He let out a little, “Yelp!” His girlfriend, Jill, slapped his thigh. He raised his hand to touch the painful area,  “Something bit me!”, he tried to whisper. He began to moan. His girlfriend tried once again to get him to hush.  Steve became weak and broke out into a cold sweat, “I’m really sick.”,  he was still  trying to keep his voice down. “What?”,  she replied. “No, no, really. I am sick I got…”, he grabbed her hand and she felt his clammy skin. Are you okay?”, she began to become more aware of him and forget about the movie.  “No.”, is the only word he could get out.  “Let’s get out of here Steve!”,  she escorted him out of the theater.  72 hours later Steve died.

6 days earlier-
“We have the test results Dr. Monroe.”,  Steve  the youngest lab assistant said as he handed the doctor some report papers.  “Did you come to a conclusion with the microscopic fusion?”  “Yes sir.” Steve could read the headlines now, MONROE AND HIS ASSISTANTS FINE CURE FOR BONE MARROW COMPLICATIONS”
The young Doctor Monroe spoken into a handheld tape recorder, “Possible finalization of phase one specimen P762.536. Studies show the fusion of ground-up glass (Silica) .45277 grain mixture with silk webbing material from lab insect 774.337, A.K.A. what we are calling the gray black spider, we confirm, according to our controlled environment study, that synthetic bone is formed as a result of fusing the above said materials.” The doctor turn the tape off then gave his  assistance specific directions, “Okay, seal that experimental study and soon we can move onto the next phase,  breeding. Do not do anything or set anything in place until we get the approval of the board. I also want to check a few things to find out why and how only this spider produces the right material. Keep them all seperated, all of them.” Steve questioned, “All of them, even the same species?” Dr. Monroe verified, “Yes. All of them. All species and all males and all females. We don’t fully know their breeding habits and time or length of gestation. We’ll have to calculate how long until they mate, give birth and are then able to reproduce again. This is a rare spider from a part of the world with a considerable low population. We have a lot more to learn. We’ve got to get busy now before we let them get busy.”

Dr. Monroe met with the financial board and fellow scientists two days later.  He shared his findings with them and the questions began to fire at him like a AK47 assault rifle. “Can we replace human bone with the new synthetic bone?” A fast,  “Yes.”, was all Dr. Monroe  spit out. The questions continued,  “Is it a bone clone?” The doctor chuckle,  “Ha…ha…Bone clone…haha, it’s synthetic bone, a combination of ground up glass called silica along with the spider’s silk from this particular spider’s webbing. Actual original human bone is not used in creating it so, no. It is not a bone clone, but I like the sound of that. Let me also say that, we’re not sure how the spider produced the correct amount of material needed for the mixture to make or fabricate healthy bones but we’ve confirmed that it does. Only this one species of spiders produces the silk needed.” The next question was the one the doctor was waiting for and could not wait to answer, “So, Doctor Monroe, is it possible to replace bone that is overtaken by cancer?”  “YES, Yes haha!”, he laughed vigorously. He couldn’t contain it any longer as he explained further, “Not only that but, we can take on spinal issues. A patient who has their backbone   destroyed, those who experience paralysis, we can completely rebuild their vietabra. There may be other complications for them regarding nerve damage but from an orthopedic stand point we have high hopes to not only provide better bones for hip & knee replacements but possibly help paraplegic or quadriplegics. Those subject to weak bones or even death caused from complications in human bone substance, such as bone cancer, their lives could be saved. We could even provide better prosthetics for amputees. The human body will not react adversely to this new material. It is as close to human bone as possible, not matalic or plastic.” He leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath. The people at the table in front of him all smiled.  One of them broke the brief silence, “Money well spent!” Another said, “You did it Dr. Monroe!” He corrected him, “We did it.”  He nodded to his staff. They all laughed with confidence and gave a sigh of relief. One of the other scientists on the board spoke up next, “Now we’re ready to proceed with Phase 2!” Dr. Monroe raised a hand slowing them down, “Who, whoa… wait. I do have a concern. We’d like to move into phase two , however,  upon my better judgement my fellow scientists and I fear that if we breed the gray black spiders in captivity we could end up with an overpopulation of them. In the wild they are able to distance themselves but in captivity they may not have the capability to show restraint.” One board member said, “You think they won’t breed?” Dr. Monroe said, “No, they may breed to much, too often. Also, the evidence of their bite is inconclusive. Unless we contain the spider and keep them in captivity they could very well overrun the population of the entire world.” “Aren’t you being a little over-dramatic doctor Monroe?”, one of the board members questioned. Rather than letting doctor Monroe answer what was directed to him one of the board members, who was a doctor of medicine, replied,  “There are no risks! The gray black spider breeds in the wild regularly and there’s no evidence of danger to their bite that we know of.” “Well, then let’s proceed!” suggested yet another board member.  Doctor Monroe stepped in again, “Wait, seriously. I don’t think we should rush into this. We don’t know all the ramifications are repercussions. I’d like to get a specialists opinion. A few more tests have to be done.”  One of the fat pompous men slammed his fist on the table and insisted, “NO, NO MORE  TESTING! YOU ARE A SPECIALIST! LET’S GET ON WITH THIS!” Dr. Monroe shook his head, “I mean a specialist in the field of spiders. Ladies and Gentlemen, we just don’t know enough about this spider. Yes its web is useful and can be used to literally create miracles but if we don’t observe the specimen and allow controlled breeding at a slow pace we may very well mess up an entire ecosystem and lose what balance we have. I suggest you allow me to contact an arachnologists, one who studies spiders and other arachnids. At the very least we should only work with the few that we have but don’t rush into urgently force breeding them until we know more.” It was as if the doctor hadn’t even spoken. What he said fell on deaf ears.  The board president stood,  “It’s decided then. Let’s proceed.” Then he looked and gestured toward doctor Monroe and finished with, “Under the controled environment and supervision of Dr. Monroe and his team. Meeting adjourned.” Even before a single man left the room, unknown to everyone there, a few of the scientist’s students had already took it upon themselves to begin the breeding process. Steve had convinced Jill, another one of Dr. Monroe’s assistants and Steve’s girlfriend, to be a little overzealous. They had put two grey black spiders in one container, rather than keeping them seperated as their instructor told them to. They had no idea how quickly they reproduced when in a contained area.

That night Dr. Monroe contacted Ann McEntire, a personal friend who had dedicated her life to Arachnology,   the study of spiders. She was very active in the scientific community that studies spiders and related animals such as scorpions, and pseudoscorpions, collectively called arachnids. He knew she would be very familiar with the spider Dr. Monroe was using. She opened several windows on her computer screen, a few books and even some term papers she had written that were published in various medical and scientific journals as she spoke, “I will try to carry on a conversation with you without going off subject old friend…” Dr. Monroe lightly agrued, “I’m still younger than you.” Ann smiled, “Not by much, besides I look better.” Monroe agreed to that then promised, “I’ll take you out for dinner on a personal level soon. For now I have got to find out more about the personal life and habits of this spider.”  She continued, “The grey black spider you are working with is actually called… wait, let me send you a picture…” She shot the photo through cyberspace to her friend.

Dr. Monroe jumped back as the massive image appeared on his screen. He confirmed, “YEP! THA…THAT’S IT!” Ann gave him the scientific name for which the doctor had assigned a specific scientific subject numbers to (774.337) and simplified even further by calling it the ‘grey and black one’. Ann shared her expertise, “Technically it is called Menemerus Bivittatus, the grey wall jumper.” Monroe shivered. He was use to working with them but they were always behind a glass and there was never more than one at a time. They never put two of anything together. He had taught his students and assistants that joining even two could complicate their study because one may eat the other or they may reproduce and the original specimen may change after giving birth. He listened to everything Ann had to say as she enhanced what little he knew in this particular area, “The Gray Wall Jumper is a hunting spider that does not spin a web for prey capture. However, they do use silk for drag lines and constructing egg sacs and retreats. It was actually heading down the road of extinction, much like the honey bee. They are able to reproduced quickly but in nature they were spread out geographically. We are not sure how they traveled but it is a good thing they did because they could have taken over a small island if they remained in one contained area.” Dr. Monroe said, “That is my concern. Tell me more.” Ann continued, “This is fascinating. It only takes these little guys’, or girls’, just 1 day between having their eggs fertilized and then birthed, hatching the very next day!” Monroe expressed his amazement, “OH MY!” Ann was gushing with excitement, “You think that is amazing? The newborns are ready to mate and conceive just two days after they are born.” Monroe had to question her facts, “The offspring, the babies, are ready to do it at 2 days old?” Ann smiled, “Not only do it but can get pregnant!” Dr. Monroe thought about the scientists who studied and observed this whole process and tediously took notes. Just when he thought it couldn’t get any more extraordinary he asked for Ann to confirm something, “So, then those babies give birth to babies in just… one day?!” Ann replied, “YEP!” The doctor asked, “How many can they have at one time?” Ann asked him to guess. Monroe didn’t feel like they needed to rush the conversation so he played along in the guessing game and said, “I had a cat that gave birth to a liter of 4.” Ann laughed, “HA ha, Mittens. I remember her. No, think more along the lines of a hamster or…your lab rats.” Monroe said, “Oh my word, 14 to 16 at a time?” “More.”, Ann quizzed him. Dr. Monroe shot higher, “20?!” Ann asked him if he was sitting down and ready for the answer then said, “30 to 50!” “AT ONCE?!” Monroe was floored. “YEP!”, Ann proceeded to share the information that was gathered about this species, “You won’t have any trouble breeding them, especially in a small controlled environment. To be honest, their extinction may not have been a bad thing. They were primarily found in unpopulated or very low populated areas of the world. Their bite is deadly. Just 72 hours after they have injected their poison the victim dies.” Dr. Monroe shared with Ann how they have determined that this is the only spider they have found who’s silk has the right properties needed to make the new bone marrow. He also shared how he was glad he had not given his assistants the green light to start breeding them. Ann added, “It is hard to indicate the males from the females but that is not even necessary.” Monroe said, “What? Why? Don’t tell me they can have same sex relations and still reproduce!” Ann clarified, “They are asexual. If you put two males together one of them has the ability to change its sex and become a female, thus being ready, abel and willing to become… a mommy.” “WHAT?!” Ann spoke calmly, “You know there are species that are able to do that! Well, think of it this way, you’ll have plenty of them to make the webbing you need to mass produce those synthetic bones. Your going to make a fortune.” The doctor thought to himself, “Yeah, but at what price.” He thanked Ann again for her time and for sharing her research then said, “Yeah, these little guys & girls will produce a lot of helpful silk but it sounds like they will be producing too much if we are not careful.”

The next morning upon returning to the lab doctor Monroe opened the thick steel door and was horrified by what he saw. The entire room was overtaken completely with cobwebs. They were so thick he could barely see through them.  He looked down and there,  tangled in the web near the door was Steve, the young student who thought he would make history by breeding them prematurely. He was mumbling.  He was alive but rendered helpless.  Dr. Monroe reach down to help free him.  He tried to rip the webbing from his mouth but it would not tare.  All he could do is stretch it. Once his mouth was freed Steve shouted, “WATCH OUT! THEY COME AT YOU FROM  THE  SIDES!” Dr. Monroe witnessed what Steve said firsthand but insisted, “I got to get you free!”  “NO DOCTOR MONROE  I BROUGHT THIS ON!”  The doctor ignored Steve’s crying. He didn’t want to increase the young man’s panic with the information Ann had shared but knew if he didn’t push back the webbing the spiders could very well be planting their eggs. He used his feet while tugging on Steve’s arms, shoulders than upper body. He paid no mind to the spiders approaching him on both sides.  Doctor Monroe stood and finish pulling Steve out and under his legs. Steve jumped to his feet and reach for the doctor. The spiders reached his legs. One was crawling up the center while the other two raised to their back legs on each side. Monroe thought about their nickname,  wall pumpers, as they shot across and around his legs. They were trading places and quickly surrounding him while binding him from his legs up. Steve yelled, “NO!” His impulse was to jump back as the spider’s worked meticulously, intricately and with extreme precision. If Steve had not instinctively jumped back he would have have risked being bit and caught up in their web again. Jill, another student and Steve’s girlfriend,  enter the room. She screamed immediately. She couldn’t find any words except to shrill, “AGHH!” Her mentor, the doctor, was now in cased completely by the spiderweb. Steve tackled Jill to the ground, away from danger. There was nothing they could do but watch as the gray black spiders reached  the doctor’s head. They crawled all over his face, not spinning anymore webs than what was needed to hold him still. A third larger one made its way up the front center of doctor Monroe’s body.  The other two seem to be trolling around his face waiting for a command on what to do next. Jill asked, “Do they bite?” Steve said, “They didn’t bite me. I didn’t feel a thing.”  Doctor Monroe had no choice but to remain completely still. He closed his eyes, wrinkled his forehead, and was sweating profusely as the larger one came right up the center of his face. When it reached the very top of the doctor’s head it spread out flat. The center of its body touched his head and her legs spread out on each side. She raised up and down on his head as if she was trying to suck out his brains or maybe even lay an egg. She turned to each side as if dismissing the other two. They followed her as she moved back down and away from the body. The side spiders slit the webs they wove as they descended, freeing doctor Monroe. Once free he stepped back and stammered to the lab door. Steve and Jill trying to gather themselves, “Did…did you see that?”, Steve asked rhetorically. The doctor’s came out with, “No, I didn’t see anything.” Jill said, “How can you joke during a time like this?” The doctor answered,  “Because I’m still alive!” “They didn’t want to bite you or… eat you!”, noted Steve. The doctor took it a step further,  “They didn’t even want to keep me!” Steve’s face became pale, “Is, is tha…that what they were da…doing to me?”  “I think so! Nesting grounds, or maybe they only eat or keep young fresh meat not old men.” Dr. Monroe wasn’t much older but he felt that way because of his years of experience. Jill asked, “Can they get out of here, the lab I mean?” The doctor answered, “Not if we secure them correctly. They can’t get out of here unless…unless they already have.” Jill scoffed, “WhAWHAT?” Steve asked, “You think some got out?” The doctor could only shrug his shoulders with uncertainty of how to answer that question. The three of them worked for hours catching them,  putting them away in individual containers this time before leaving; however, unknown to them some were still incubating. Dr. Monroe shared the knowledge Ann shared with him about how these spiders were asexual so it was inevitable that they would reproduce no matter if there were just two of either sex together. He also informed his assistants about the speed of their birthing being faster than any other animal or insect he had ever heard of. Doctor Monroe’s worst nightmare and prediction was actually coming true. As they worked Dr. Monroe assured them, as well as himself, that this would all be worth their efforts. He reminded them, “These are the only spiders that produce the needed compound to form bones used to  replace amputees limbs, actual new bones to replace cancerous bones as well as broken legs, arms, ribs.” Dr. Monroe repeated what he knew in an attempt to squash what they didn’t about this whole project. He continued with, “So, as unruly as they can be it’s important we don’t kill any of these spiders.” Monroe also secretivly hoped that no humans would be killed in the process.

That night was when Steve was bit in the theater. The spiders didn’t bite Steve in the lab but used him as a mode of transportation by laying their eggs so that their species could escape. 

Now, just 72 hours from the point of Steve being bit, Jill was sitting by his side as he laid dying in his own bed. Steven and Jill knew what was causing Steve’s death, the bite of that gray and black spider. They dare not go to the General Hospital in fear that they would cause a worldwide panic. They felt personal responsible for the whole thing because they breed them without their bosses permission and prior approval. Doctor Monroe was working with Ann trying different serums to heal this young college student. He forgave Steve for jumping the gun, after all, they were also friends. He remembered when Steve attempted to pull him out of the spider’s trap and clutches, risking his own life. Although Dr. Monroe and Ann were the best scientists in their field who could possibly find a cure and in spite of them trying almost 24 hours to save Steve they came up with nothing. Exasperated, they finally left Jill and Steve alone. As Dr. Monroe walked Ann to her car out front she expressed, “I feel so bad for the young man. I know this is no time to make personal plans but don’t forget you still owe me dinner.” Monroe was glad she was trying to lighten up the mood and assured her, “I wouldn’t miss dinner with you for…almost anything.” She nodded in understanding. Then he said, “Except, maybe the end of the world.” He wept and they held each other. Ann then assured him, “We’ll figure all this out. It is not too late.” “But, it is too late for Steve.” They embraced again and tried to comfort one another. Jill was by Steve as he was taking his last few breaths but before he died he saw Jill’s eyes get big. She wasn’t looking at Steve but at his shoulder the same side he had been bitten on.  It was a gray and black spider crawling out of Steve. It crawled up and over him. Everything appeared to be moving in slow motion. It was as if the spider looked Jill in the eye. All at once two spiders leaped at Jill from the sides. She screamed and tried to dodge the insects but no human reflex was fast enough. The spiders began to spew their web around Jill’s ankles. Steve watched helpless as the two spun around the opposite way of each other. After securing her legs they moved quickly up to her arms. This attack was just like what Steve and Dr. Monroe encountered. Steve spoke to Jill the best he could, “Honey, they don’t bit.” She said, “They bit you!” He reminded her, “Not during this part.” She quivered, “But we don’t know Steve. Are they just laying eggs in me right now or what?” He begged her to try to calm herself and not make and sudden movements. Soon she couldn’t move,  she was completely  immobilized by their web. “Don’t scream.”, said Steve as Jill tried telling herself the same thing. The third spider crawled up Jill’s body from her toe, to her thighs, to her abdomen, to her breast and it stopped there. Jill was rendered helpless wrapped like a mummy. Her heart raced. Steve watched as the spider flattened itself on Jill’s chest exactly like it did on Doctor Monroe’s head. He and Jill were thankful it wasn’t on her face. After a few seconds the spider gave its direction to the other two and they began to descend from Jill, once again splitting the tight cocoon of webbing that held her captive. Just as fast as they appeared they disappeared and Jill was free. Steve felt victorious. Now Jill knew what it meant to have a near-death experience. As Jill took her first sigh of relief Steve took his last breath.  Dr. Monroe finally re-entered the house then Steve’s room just as Jill’s body slumped over Steve. Monroe’s words were a blur to her, “He’s finally set free from the pain and anguish.” Jill snapped out of her grief long enough to yell a warning to the doctor, “THEY ARE HERE!” He didn’t care. His heart and mind were focused on Jill’s life and Steve’s premature death. After they felt like they properly grieved over Steve they quickly became the hunters now, as they searched the room for the spiders. Jill explained how it came out of Steve. Dr. Monroe suggested,  “Perhaps they’ve gone back in him. We will have to monitor his body and check with the morgue. Jill, you shower extra good.” She said, “I’ll do more than shower! I’ll share my whole head!” He wanted to tell her she didn’t need to go to that extreme but he honestly didn’t know.

Later that night Jill was at Dr. Monroe’s home. She didn’t want to be alone and didn’t know if she was safe anywhere else.  He had his own lab there as well. He asked Ann to come help him run more tests and trials on the spiders to try to find out any and everything possible about them that was still unknown in hopes that they could stop them. Jill was sobbing, “Why, why, why did it take Steve but not me.” Monroe took a moment away from their research to remind her,  “Jill they didn’t take me either. They didn’t want us.”  “But, what was so different?” “That is what I will find out.”, he promised. They both raise their drinks as Dr. Monroe said, “To, and for, Steve.” Their glass klinked together. Ann came over to join them with an empty syringe. “I need to take your blood and examine you both to see if…” ,she hated to finish her reason, “To see if any eggs were layed.” They nodded and found themselves between hoping she’d find something and  nothing at all. Either way, it had to be done. Ann also informed them, “I’m going to contact Dr. Chad Aver.” Monroe assured Jill, “He is another long time friend. He is in the medical field. Between the three of us, four counting you, we’ll figure out what to do.”

3 a.m. Dr Monroe got a call,  “Doctor, it’s Samantha, from the lab!” Samantha only worked there as needed. She had not been in since the spiders had planted eggs in Steve but her husband had given Steve a ride to Jill’s house the night he was going to the movies with her. Samantha’s voice was breaking up,  “One of those grey and black spiders has formed a web around my husband’s legs and arms… no, wait, there are two!” Doctor Monroe tried to calm her and told Samantha, “The best thing you can do for your husband is to stay back and…” She interrupted,  “THERE ARE THREE!!!” The doctor continued in a calm soothing voice, “Okay, okay. Stand back and tell me what is going on.  Describe what they are doing.” Samantha’s discrimination was the same as to what the doctor and Jill had gone through. She then added, “The third spider is moving around the back, to my husband’s back.” Monroe told her, “Keep yourself at a safe distance but move around to see what it does.” Samantha gave a play by play,   “He stopped and he’s like spreading out. Oh no, he’s going to bite him!” Doctor Monroe tried to predict to Samantha what was about to happen, “Sam, I never told you this but they did the same thing to me a few days ago and to Jill just last night and we are  still alive. Now, wait and watch. Just stay back and watch Sammy. They move very fast.” Samantha watched as it appeared to her that the one spider was examining her husband. Her heart sunk. Even if he had not been completely constricted by the spiders silk he was still paralyzed and helpless in fear.  “OH PRAISE GOD!”, shouted Samantha and through tears of joy she explained, “They are setting him free! They are backing off!” Dr. Monroe almost dropped the phone as an answer as to what these spiders were doing  formulated in his head, “Sam, good… good! Now, take him and get out of there.  I don’t want them to get you too. I don’t mean to scare you but you have to get out of there. I have to go…I just thought of something! Call me later to let me know you’re safe!” He quickly hung up the phone and ran toward the lab in his home. He  grabbed a few rats from their cages and threw them in with one of the gray black spiders he had been observing privately. He observed the spider as it mimicked the same behavior they did with him, Jill and now Sam’s husband but it didn’t bite it. He grabbed the phone as he grabbed another rat from a separate cage and placed it in with the spider. Before Jill could answer the spider bit the second rat. “Hello?”, Jill answered in her half asleep voice. “Jill, I HAVE BONE  CANCER, in my head.” “What?”, she questioned. The doctor explained his new discovery, “The spider’s webs are able to produce material for bones because the spiders take bone marrow from healthy bones. They don’t bite people who have cancer in their bones or cancer in their system, it is useless to them. Somehow they know when a person has cancer or not. I HAVE CANCER! ISN’T THAT WONDERFUL NEWS?!” Jill was speechless. He realized what he had just told her without stopping to think about the spider’s response to Jill and why they left her alone. “Jill, we are going to live!” Jill replying, “But…but doctor, this means I have cancer.” He smiled and answered,  “YES, yes you do and that can be removed and we can replace your cancerous bones with healthy bones!”  The reality and solution hit her like a ton of bricks. They both gripped the phone on each of their ends. Now, because of these spiders and this discovery, those who were dying from complications in their bone such as bone cancer would now live. Anybody with bone issues,  that affected their lives or in some cases even took their lives, were now able to be made well again; however, those without health issues were now at risk. Jill said, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” “Sad but true.”, replied Dr. Monroe. “Jill, when you wake come on over, later this morning. In the meantime I’ll contact Ann and Dr. Aver. We’ll try to answer all the questions we now have.” Jill agreed. As she got in the shower once again she examined her own body and her mind picked over the questions that were weighing them all down, “How do we stop the overpopulation of spiders?  How can we keep them from biting  and killing healthy people? If they don’t bite, extracting healthy bone marrow, will they still produce the webs needed to reconstruct bones?” One problem was solved but that caused another complication to begin…

Dr. Monroe, Ann and Jill all listened as Dr. Chad Aver shared his findings, “We know now that its bite is deadly to those with healthy bodies, however, this spider’s bit could combat cancer. Unfortunately, as you’ve noted, it won’t bit those with cancer. We could extract it’s venom and inject it into cancer patients. Also, you can reconstruct bones with the use of its webbing but we could also avoid replacing bones and traditional bone marrow transfusions by injecting its venom.” Ann waited to speak. Dr. Monroe asked the heavy question, “Do we find out how to kill off this species, so the healthy will live or let it run its course and use it to save those who are destin to die?” Ann finally spoke up, “I think we can contain it.” All eyes and ears shifted their attention to her as she shared her findings, “First, let me share with you what a friend of mine experienced…She became a missionary to a remote village on a small island called La Mal Ria. One of the first things she discovered was the grey wall jumper spiders in her bungalow. They seemed to cause no threat and her first instinct was to shoo them out of the house or kill them; however, the natives explain to her that those spiders would protector her from various diseases. She wasn’t sure if it was just a superstitious belief or if there was any real scientific evidence to what they claimed about these spiders. To keep the population under control they would allow only one of the spiders to live in each of their homes and not let it out to breed.” Dr. Monroe voiced his concerns, “We’ll never successfully convince our population to do that. I can see the nationally public service announcements now, ‘Get your pet wall jumping spider today, the life you save may be your own.’ I don’t mean to make light of it but Ann, you know that won’t fly, or should I say, people won’t be jumping at the opportunity.” Jill joined in, “They may not have a choice.” Dr. Aver spoke up, “Listen, I’ve known you all a long time, with the exception of Jill, but we’ve already lost one life. I’m sorry for your loss Jill.” She nodded in thanks as he continued, “Honestly, I am not sure why we haven’t lost more. Surely there are not that many people with cancer. Why haven’t more people been bitten?” Ann lit up, “Wait, of course, why didn’t we see this all along…” Dr. Monroe asked Ann to enlighten them. “Jill, when we tested you and Monroe’s blood we only found a small trace of cells that had the potential to lead to cancer, 6% in Monroe and 3% in you.” Chad suggested, “So, if we purposefully infect people with a minuet amount that will prevent the spiders from biting them!” Monroe said, “Infect healthy people?” Although Jill didn’t have the level of expertise that the others had she shared her understanding, “You said it yourself Dr. Monroe, now we can treat cancer but we can’t stop the spiders from biting and killing healthy people any other way.” Dr. Monroe was beginning to understand. Ann confirmed, “If we are able to inject a very small, safe amount of cancer causing cells into all the healthy people, and get the grey wall jumper population under control, then  the spider’s serum would be the antidote, returning health back to the healthy!”  They all agreed that it was worth trying. Chad knew it would be a major legislative nightmare trying to get the government on board but as more people were bit and died they would finally come around to taking action. Jill thought about how sad it was that authorities only relocate or destroy a dangerous animal after it takes someone’s life. 

The plan was finally put into place. Everyone was tested for cancer. Those whose test were negative were given a small dose to ensure their safty. Ann worked with harvestmen to gather the Menemerus Bivittatus (grey wall jumper). No one had to make them their pet. They were able to get the spiders population under control. Best of all  from that point on in history no one died from cancer or bone marrow issues.

The End

💿🎬📀EXTRAS💿🎬📀

NOW, here is the background information on what inspired this story and some interesting facts that helped me developed this fictional story –

I originally wrote this story, “Spider Bite or Bite To The Bone”, in the year 2008.

 I noted, “If you told someone in 1988 that by the year 2008 there would not be  flying cars, restaurants run by robots or other futuristic advances in technology other than sinks that turn on by a beam that indicates your hands are under the faucet and toilets that flush themselves they would not only be disappointed but perhaps not believe you.”

 Although it is sad but true that most advancements seem pretty insignificant in general terms there have been some advancements in the medical field, nothing extremely grandiose or miraculous but worth counting as gain.

For example, laser eye surgery discovered by a doctor in the small town of Tarpon Springs Florida not only rids people of cataracts, it also gives them better sight, freeing people from having to wear corrective lenses.

There’s still no cure for major diseases like cancer or Aids but there are some treatments and procedures now that they didn’t have in 1988.

If you take a look at history we didn’t even see, let alone understand, what HIV or full-blown AIDS was 1980. I am amazed and shocked when I realize that just 37 years ago, the 80’s, our eyes were opened to the discovery of  a new STD that was growing and spreading out of control quickly, too quick.

In 2008, with all this  being considered, I read an article in a small periodical. Although I don’t remember what the magazine was,  maybe Reader’s Digest, I do have the original clipping in with my editorial notes and research for this potential story. The author who wrote it was Neena Samuel who said,


“New research by Tufts University bioengineers show that spider silk combined with tiny glass beads called silica creates a new material that could one day be used in growing and repairing human bones.” 


That is factual documentation. That bit of truth was the seed thought for this entire story.

Many Spiders usually use their silk to make webs and catch prey; however, as is in the case of the spider I mentioned in the story, the Menemerus Bivittatus or the grey wall jumper, I kept the fact that they are a hunting spider that does not spin a web to capture prey. They do use silk for drag lines, as well as for constructing egg sacs and retreats.  

To my knowledge their bite is not deadly but it made for a great fictional story.

Now, going back to the factsScientist have long studied the benefit of the flexible strong fibers all spiders produce (silk or webbing). The new fusion material mentioned above (spider silk combined with tiny glass beads called silica) promises to improve the quality of bone implants and surgery. Earlier research of spider silk suggests it can be used in many products, including surgical sutures, body armor and even artificial ligaments.

Imagine the possibilities to replace bone that is being destroyed by cancer let alone fix or replace broken arms, legs, hips, ribs or even reconstructions limbs for amputies.

As I was initially writing this story I was working as a certified nurses aid and home health aid for some who were dieing from bone cancer, others were quadriplegic and some were paraplegic. As I took care of them and wrote this story on the side I did not shared the hopes I found as I mixed facts with fiction but I did enjoy considering the possibility that seemed unrealistic at the time just as if you were to  tell people years ago about the different heart valve replacements available in this day and age (2017).

I wrote and dreamed up the amazing possibilities that some day great doctors and scientists could replace the C9 bone in the vertebrae so those who are now unable to move could have the hope of replacing that vital bone, some how let nerve endings grow back and be able to live a normal life of complete mobility again.

As I developed the story I thought how wonderfully strange it would be if those who were once given a death sentence because of complications with their bones would now live but perhaps at the cost of those who are healthy.

This story completely reversed the polarity, giving life to those who were sick and dieing and death to those who were healthy.

I hope this story was interesting to you and that it inspires us to realize that hopeful dreams that once seemed only make believe could very well be possible in the future; however, remember that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

May we never forget that death and dieing, as much as we despise it, it too serves a purpose. To everything there is a season and a reason (Ecclesiastes 3).

For more light hearted stories go to:

“The Park” – a short story about 3 boys who sneak into an abandoned amusement park and discover that it has a mind of its own.

Online publication of “The Park”: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/the-park-editing/

“Fair Science” – a short story of a weird, crazy but brilliant scientist who invites three children into his mansion and his mind.

Online publication of “Fair Science”: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/2017/06/23/the-story-fair-science/

YouTube playlist of stories being read: My stories: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnjQOVtw61eiFv27rv2rhA3-8U8EyDXya

For a list of other stories (some serious, others just fun)  go to: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/stories-poems-and-art/
THANKS FOR READING.

GOD BLESS YOU AND YOU, BLESS GOD, Beetle

This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.

Story -“THE PARK” (Accents, Edit and Spacing)

This is the short  story,  “THE PARK”, originally written in 2008. I’ve been working on this on and off over the years. Here’s what I hope is the final   draft of it…

A very special thanks to all my children, Abbey, Madi, Olivia, Kyri and Alexx for all their inspiration.

I also want to thank my mom (Faye), she will be editing what is below, and my Wife (Rhonda) who helped me write parts as well as put up with me as I drug her through THE PARK in this story.

“The Park” -The story of kids who sneak into an abandoned amusement park that ends up having a mind of its own.

YouTube playlist of stories being read: My stories: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnjQOVtw61eiFv27rv2rhA3-8U8EyDXya

This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.

“THE PARK”

 David peeled  the rusted chain link fence up high enough for his two friends, Ron and Jeremy, to get under it.

 Each boy went under belly first, skateboards and in-line skates in hand. 

David was the last one through. 

Bits of rust grabbed at the back of his shirt. 

Ron tried to hold the fence up while Jeremy pulled David the rest of the way in.

They snuck past old arcade booths and deserted Midway rides. 

The boys ran  hunched over as if they were invading a foreign country. 

There was a certain amount of excitement while trespassing, not to mention the thrill that awaited them as they snuck their way in, just a short distance to their set destination, the abandoned water slides.

With great determination they climbed up the artificial rocks to reach the starting point of one slide that gradually dropped 100 yards with all kinds of unexpected gyrations.

David volunteered to walk his way down the slide first to remove the debris, broken tree limbs, lots of leaves and even a few rock. 

He inched his way down and around each bend as he yelled, “I’ll holler at you when I get to the bottom!” 

The boys nodded and we’re about to burst with anticipation and a touch of fear. Their eyes were big. 

“Be careful!”, shouted Ron. 

“You’re such a wimp.”, tease Jeremy, which called for a shove from Ron. 

They heard David’s voice as he descended, “Ronnie?!” Ron answered thinking it was something important, “Yeah? I can hear you!” 

David shouted, “You’re a whimp!” He grinned as Ron replied, “Shut up you poser!” David just laughed. 

The boys had been waiting for this day for a long time. They found out what they could about this ghost town of sorts.

 In their research they found that at one point it had all the major attractions and amusements, if not more than, some of the world’s largest and well-known Carnivals, Fairgrounds and major theme parks.

 The park was advertised as unlike anywhere else on earth and its biggest secret of all was supposed to be revealed the first day they officially opened to public.

There  were rumors about all of the world’s best Auto metronics, Hi-Tech mechanical devices and state-of-the-art robots that function like people. 

The big selling point wasn’t just the enormous size of the Park or it’s amazing rides and entertainment but actually how the park functioned. 

There was a lot of anticipation and years of counting down until the opening day. 

Apparently there was some controversy about it as well. 

Sadly the park had been shut down and closed to the public before most people even got to step inside it’s gates. 

The boys could care less about all of that they just wanted to get in, explore and to skate the empty water slides. 

That was their main mission.

While David made his way down the one slide the two boys above looked around nervously.

 Ron said,  “I can’t even read this sign.” 

“That’s cuz you can’t read!”, Jeremy mocked.

 Ronnie punched his friend in the arm as he argued, “NO, IT’S CAUSE YOU BROUGHT YOUR LITTLE SISTER’S  CRAPPIE FLASH LIGHTS!” 

“Look…”, Jeremy said, “…You can see for miles from way up here.”

 “Yeah, just as long as no one sees us.”, confirmed his friend.

🏢🏣🏤🏦🏧🏨🏩🏪🏫🏬🏰

Meanwhile, miles away, John Hanson, the owner and founder of “Forever Happy Amusements Inc.”, met with his lawyer and 3 of the world’s top and most prestigious Mechanical Engineer Consultants.

His lawyer, Mr. Goldberg, was addressing  John’s concern regarding how liable John would be if someone were to enter the park without permission and become seriously injured.

 “In addition to the no trespassing signs, the gate, the outer walls and all the fences are secure right, John?” John spoke with confidence and assertiveness, “Oh yes. OF COURSE. I have had the signs up since before the park opened and they remained up while the park was open and running and filled with people.”

The lawyer gave a snide look at John because of the statement, “Filled with people.”

John was well aware of his lawyers nonverbal language and corrected himself, “Well, we only opened one day and that was just for friends and family members really it was very hush-hush…but we pretested everything!”

John’s voice began to quiver with uncertainty. He was losing his confidence and decided to just answer the initial question, “Yes. Ah, the signs and gates and all are still up.”

 One of the chief Engineers, Dr. Hatfield, who had his doctorate degree in civil engineering and mechanical Innovations, spoke up with his strong foreign accent, “Ah…Yez. Mizter. hHannnd Zin iz id?”

 John nodded, “Yes, Hanson.”

The doctor continued, “Yez. Ah…nHormally I Vwould bHe a mHan ofv mHHany  VwordZ hAand vwell zvHHoken vocHabulary budt I vfind myzself hHHere today Zsimply aHHZsking you…Vwhat iz zthis cRHrAp hhall HAabout? VWhy aHRre vwe HherRe?” He gestured to the other men.

 John’s forehead wrinkled.

Mr. Wiggins,  another consultant affirmed the question, “Yes, why do you need us?”

John bit his bottom lip and his eyes pleaded for his lawyer to not only answer these fine gentlemen but to make it sound as professional as possible.

 His lawyer read John’s desperate cry and cleared his throat,  “Well, part of the reason you men have been chosen, or should I say hired, to be here today is for us to explain and simply tell you why you are needed here.”

That sounded redundant thought John. The engineers thought the same thing but they listen for  the lawyer to get to the point and business at hand.

 “Mr. Hanson here is an engineer as well. He created and built the ‘Forever Happy Amusement Park.’ Part of this enterprise consisted of developing schematics from mechanical engineering resources like none other.”

The men began to look at each other taking their eyes off of Mr. Goldberg. They exchanged looks of doubt, bewilderment and simple disbelief.

After all,  the three of them where the cream-of-the-crop, the absolute top notch brains of the world when it came to the most modern, as well as, controversial technology available.

Mr. Wiggins asked,  “Why haven’t we heard or seen a thing about this park? Where it is located?”

Mr. Goldberg nodded at John urging him to take over explaining things a little further.

John swallowed hard, “It is kind of out in the boonies, as I like to say. There’s lots of land but in a relatively small town called North Port, Florida.

The population is low, comparatively speaking, but there’s a lot of undeveloped areas. Also, it’s located fairly close to the middle of the state so people can travel from north or south to get to its Simi centralized location. It really is a good spot.”

As he spoke his voice began to crack a little.

Unknown to John there was some cracking going on at his Park even as he spoke.

🏰🏬🏣🏫🏩🏧🏦🏤🏢🏭🏥

-Back at the park

COME ON DOWN!!!“, the boys heard David yell.

 “Oh yes, sick! You go first Jeremy,  that way you can wreck first.”, chuckled Ron. 

“Shut up poser! I will go first.” Jeremy didn’t have skates and he wasn’t about to ride his skateboard standing, not on the first run.

 So, he laid belly first on the board and yelled, “ROCK N’ ROLL GUYS!”, as he gave himself a push, starting him down the long slope. 

He immediately yelled,  but it was more out of fear and uncertainty than fun. 

Ron laughed out loud and yell down to Dave, “I THINK YOU MISSED SOME STICKS AND STUFF DAVE!” Dave smiled as he climbed as fast as he could to take his turn. 

Things were so quiet the boys couldn’t hear anything but Jeremy grunting as he tried to navigate his way past the rough terrain of the neglected slide. When Jeremy reach the bottom they heard a THUD! 

“Watch out, remember at the end is a 3 foot drop into an empty cement pool.”, Dave’s delayed reminder arrived  to late to be useful.

 Ron busted out laughing. 

Jeremy stood to his feet and heard a high cracking, then a cranking noise, followed by what sounded like a loud yawn. 

He froze. 

He wondered if the others heard it. He thought for sure someone else had heard them and they were busted. 

Dave and Ron heard it too. They wondered if it was something to do with their friend Jeremy. 

David tried to be brave then shouted, “NICE TRY JEREMY!” 

“I don’t think that was him Dave.” 

SHHHH!!!”, is all they heard back. 

Jeremy crouched down behind some bushes and hoped the other boys were hiding too.

 His thought was ‘maybe they will be caught but not me.’

Ron and David ducked behind some artificial boulders. 

Ron said, “We’re dead dude.”

 “Shut up. We’re not caught.  it’s just a…aaa, a old tree branch or something.”, David search for words. 

Ron hoped David was right and that Jeremy was alright

Then, what they heard next shook the boys down to their very bones.

🏢🏣🏤🏦🏧🏨🏩🏪🏫🏬🏰

Back in the office building miles away…

“The park,  like my lawyer said, is like none other.”

John began to speak with more confidence and show that he was very proud of the progress he achieved in modern engineering.

 He carried on, “The whole park, rides and all, run just like your brain.”

🏥🏭🏢🏤🏦🏧🏨🏩🏫🏣🏬🏰🏪

As he spoke, back at the park there was a deafening BABOOM!!! 

At first the boys thought someone was shooting at them. 

It was the main generator kicking in and it continued to increase in volume starting with a low, “hummm.”

 Jeremy worked his way up the incline, grabbing ahold of fake bushes, artificial grass and foam rocks. By the time he reached the top the other boys had come out from hiding. 

“I told you guys we’d get caught!  Both of you were too loud dude.”, Jeremy scoffed.

 Ron retaliated, “You were just as loud Jeremy!” 

David laughed,  “Shut up you bugs. Ya’ll are a bunch of puppies. It’s just the generators to like,  turn on some of the old lights that go on just to keep things lit after dark.” 

“Yeah, security lights right Dave?”, Ron tried to assure himself. 

Dave shook is head, “Yep, that’s all. Old unused, unneeded, security lights that no one even pays any attention to anymore. 

There’s no reason to patrol the park. 

There’s nothing here to steal. 

There are signs saying, ‘no trespassing’, but so what! 

No one cares anymore,  guys relax. 

Everybody knows that if someone has the guts to sneak in, like us, 

that whatever happens happens and the people  sneaking in is at their own risk.

 The owners got nothing to worry about because the public was warned.” 

 “I don’t know, Dave.”, Jeremy’s voice quivered. 

“I know you don’t know. That’s why you’re a scared idiot.” David smiled big and looked at Ron,  “Are you a puppy too?” 

 Ron shook his head and began to speak, “…but maybe…” 

Dave interrupted, “Look, I’m taking my turn. IF there is someone here, 

 SOME OLD FART  RENT-A-COP!”, he yelled, 

“Then let them catch me if they can haha. 

What are they going to do torture me?” 

Ron said, “Hey Jeremy, I gotta old fart for you! HaHAH!”

 With that being said, heard and smelled,

Dave climbed into the entrance tub of the dried-up water slide. He held the side rails and rolled forward and back on his rollerblades. 

 “Okay, hope you cleared the path even more than I did Jeremy!”, he exclaimed as he shoved off, beginning his extreme  daredevilish rush down the dry dirty flume. 

Ron and Jeremy looked at each other in disbelief and dismay, not sure that it was a good idea, but they gained their confidence back when they heard Dave’s voice explaining how much fun he was having.

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“The way it works gentleman.”,  Mr. Hanson continued to address the men at the board table, gaining confidence in what he brought from just a dream into reality. 

He was about to reveal his greatest achievement in life. It was also his biggest mistake. 

He took a deep breath and began, “It is neuro charged. Just as our brains function every day of our lives. 

Neurons match up with electrons and jump from one command to another. 

When the neurons dock into the neurotransmitters messages and commands are exchanged between our bodies and our brains.

 It’s rather simple really. 

Of course,  in relation to the park it is synthetic and simply mechanics.

My colleagues and I spent endless planning sessions and asserted every effort to replicate the human body, brain, heart and lungs. 

Fluids consisting of precise mixtures of oil, natural fossil fuels and some helpful stimulating herbs, they provide the necessary fuel and flow. 

We have  replicated how our blood moves and circulates, which in turn, leads to and allows electrical impulses to be shot off, telling our body, or in this case the machine, what to do, as well as,  how to act and react.  

Again, I am sure you will all understand, it is elementary biology. I haven’t created or invented anything. I just changed its form.”

Mr. Scalp, the third consultant, stood to his feet, “You re-created the brain?! We are mechanical engineers, not  medical doctors. WHO DO  YOU  THINK  YOU ARE?! You think you’re God?  You created a body in the form of a whole amusement park?!”

It was more of a statement than a question. 

John bowed his head and blushed from mixed feelings and emotions. He felt a certain amount of accomplishment, knowing none of them came up with this brilliant idea; however, he also had an overwhelming feeling of embarrassment as he answered, “Well, no now, I wouldn’t say that I just…” 

Dr. Hatfield jumped into the debate. The men sorted out what he had to say in spite of his strong foreign accent, “You     Hhave faHbricHated an tampVered vwith vwhat Zthe crHHeator ofV hHHuman lifVe haz alvrHeady done! 

ZThere izs a diffHHerenttt betHHVween hHHumanZ and machHinez Mizter Hanzin.

 VWe all knHhow zthis and az EngHANineerz vweee reHHzpect zthat and knHow zthat zthe two zshould neHver beHKcome vone. 

VWhen you mezz vwith kcrHheaZtion, zTHAT Iz vWHEN YhOU GO FRHOM BEING Z zSCIENTIZ TO BEhhKCOMING A MAAAD ZSCIENTIZ! Zee reZultZ aHre not Honly,

-HhOW YhOU ZAY,

 unpreHdictable but could be, AND MOzST LIKELY AhRE, hHHorribly un-iCK-mag-HANable.”

 John’s lawyer rushed to his defense. “Now wait a minute! MY client has the best intentions and hasn’t done anything unlawful.

 He has not done anything that hasn’t already been done in the natural forces around us, as well as, in US!” 

John nodded and added, “I put together a machine that runs on the same principles that are in us. The resources were there to simulate the way our bodies and minds work so that we just…” 

Mr. Wiggins took his turn at bat and said two words that every one of them was thinking,  “Cloned it!”

 John now became upset. He stood to his feet, lean forward and shouted back, “IF THAT IS  WHAT YOU WANT TO CALL IT THEN YES, YES! I knew that the way we were created could be harnessed and used for the improvement of our Lives. I knew that we could mimic it with machines. 

The world has been crying out, yearning AND LUSTING WITH AND UNQUENCHABLE DESIRE to have robots that can relate and mimic human behavior.”   

Mr. Scalp spoke again, “But, you have mocked the creator, thinking you could possibly do better. You, took on the job of creating an entire theme park, not just a single android! Yes, we can follow the blueprint of human life for the building and running of machines but  should     we?”

 Mr. Wiggins said, “HE already has.”

Dr. Hatfield threw his hands in the air and just scoffed, “Mr. Hanzon, I aHsk aKHgain, vWHY have you gathered uz   today?” 

John’s lawyer stepped up to the plate and spoke as softly and warmly as possible. It was a little strange to hear such a calming tone coming from a defense lawyer. 

“Gentlemen, you are the only ones who can help us figure out how to shut the park down.” 

All three men said the same words almost in unison, “Shut it down?” 

John tried to answer while still sounding rational, “Well… it… sleeps…sometimes.” 

Dr. Hatfield responded, “Oh  dear Lord.” 

Mr. Wiggins let out a nervous gut giggle. For his own assurance that he actually heard things correctly he asked,  “It sleeps? You mean it literally sleeps?” 

Yes. That is affirmative. Not just a sleep mode, it shuts itself down to rest and…store up its energy…too, well… wake ready to start it’s next day or night, whatever the case may be.”

Mr. Wiggins said with sarcasm, “Psshh, does it dream and sleep walk too?”

Much to their surprise Mr. Hanson   replied with sincerity, “Yes. It does.”

John wasn’t sure if they didn’t believe him or if they did  believe him but didn’t want to face the facts.

Mr. Goldberg advised John, “Let it all out. Explain the ramifications and why they can truly help us, why we desperately need them.

Mr. Hanson again took a deep breath to finally confess his mistakes, “When it sleeps it shuts down and then when it wakes, when it feels like it,  it runs on a supernova charge and the amusements become a nuisance. We have no way of controlling her. The speeds she exudes are extremely dangerous, too fast or too slow…” 

John shook his head in despair and stopped talking. 

Dr. Hatfield said, “zSo, it’z aHctually a… Bi-polar Park!” 

The others laughed much to John and Mr. Goldberg’s dismay. 

Mr. Scalp added, “Aaand it is a she!”

Mr. Wiggins joined in, “Does she get PMS? HAHA!” He nudged his associates. They all roared in laughter.

“IT IS NOT A LAUGHING  MATTER  GENTLEMEN!!!”, insisted  Mr. Goldberg. “Yes, the rides literally have a mind of their own. She presents a similar psychosis of someone who is manic depressive AND her expressions, her emotions, are acted out in the function of the various venues, variables and park’s rides.” 

The men’s laughter stopped as John explained,  “The depression is just as bad as the Mania. When it gets too high and all the mania reaches its peak the whole park then drops it speed to horrifying slow speed causing rollercoaster to be stuck upside down, not able to complete their course. 

The high-speed swings stop too suddenly and…ugh…” 

The lawyer was losing his cool and began to breathe rapidly. His heart raced. “…she feeds off the excitement of those in the park and well… she is very… moody.” 

John’s chest began to tighten. It was as if someone had removed the oxygen from the room as he thought about the giant swing ride they called, “Susie’s Swings.” 

The engineers showed no mercy. This time they were even more sarcastic. Mr. Scalp belted out, “So your park has mood swings…haha, that’s rich!” 

John asked them to please collect themselves and give him a few more moments of their time and attention. He knew they were stuck between unbelief and wondering if this was some type of publicity stunt. 

Dr. Hatfield and Mr. Wiggins both thought that perhaps John and his lawyer we’re just trying to get the three of them to help build a better Park.

John then made his objectives clear, “Honestly,  all-expenses-paid, we will take you to the park so you can see for yourself. You may think this is a holiday or a ‘walk in the park’ vacation but I will let you experience the severity of our need for your intervention.” 

The men were intrigued and gave him their attention. So, he dove in deeper with his persuasion and explanation of what has been happening since the park was brought to life. 

“The generator kicks on, just like when we wake! Things start running throughout the whole park. For instance…” 

John pointed to a large mural on the wall. It was actually  a map of the park. 

Mr. Scalp asked, “IS THAT…Susie?!” 

John confirmed, “It is her outsides. I have the internal schematics else where, diagrams of her internal organs, veins and arteries that function these outer extremities.”

 With a pointer he began to specifically and intensely brief them of what they were facing. “For example the water slides…”

Back at the park—

David YELLED with the THRILL of arching up each bank of the slide, dodging some of the small pieces of nature that tripped up Jeremy and used his legs as natural shock absorbers as he took each dip and drop.

David was an avid inline skater. He knew he could be good enough for major competitions. He also felt like this  was the best atmosphere and set up to push his inline skating skills to their greatest heights.

What he didn’t know was that as he swooshed down the dried-up water slide the pumps shot off 2,000 pounds of water pressure at the top of The Flume.

Ron and Jeremy jumped back when the water kicked on. There wasn’t much of a warning, just a slight rumbling sound and the water pressure started to flush through.

Waves twisted and turned down the banks that seconds earlier Dave was conquering.

He was just about to complete the pipe. He knew he had to make a jump at the end in order to land on his feet in the dried-up water collection/wadding pool that dropped about 3 feet.

As Dave ripped around the last hairpin swerve he saw the end and heard something rushing in behind him. He had no idea what the roar was.

He made his leap into the air as planned.

The full force surge of water coming from behind was so powerful it propelled him through the air like a bullet from a gun.

The water gathered in the reservoir but David ended up slamming into a tree across from the pool.

The boys at the top both took different routes down the slope to try and warn their friend.

Jeremy found himself sliding more than running.

Ron hit a patch of freshly made mud which caused him to collide with side of the slide. He got to his feet as fast as he could and tried to navigate the fastest way down.

By the time they reached the bottom the pool was almost all the way full.

Ron jumped in the water, diving down to try and find his friend. On one occasion,  when he surfaced in frustration, he heard Jeremy yelling his name.

“RONNIE ! ! ! RONNIE!!!” 

Ron looked in the direction Jeremy was pointing.  They both saw David’s body lying at the base of a massive tree.

They ran over to the body and the most unpredictable and oddest thing took place next.

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The three Consultants leaned forward in their chairs as John Hanson gloated, “Sometimes the waterworks kick in first, almost like us having the urge to pee when we first wake-up.  

Other times the music starts at first, seconds before any of the rides move and begin. 

That, of course, sets the festive good mood of any good amusement park.” 

The doctor scoffed, “FeZstive, amuZsement, gHood mHood… vfor WHhOoo? 

The lawyer present said, “Tell them more, please John. They need to know.” 

Mr. Wiggins argued, “What more do we need to know?! 

Mr. Scalp’s only words were, “My goodness. Let’s go  now!” 

The other two turned in shock, “GO?!”, said Mr. Wiggins. 

Mr. Scalp persisted, “YES! NOW! What if someone were to get in there and…be in there while she is waking up, coming alive and starts working, fully functioning?!” 

John tried to calm them down, “Well, gentlemen, I have signs…” 

SIGNS?! SIGNS WON’T STOP CURIOUS KIDS!”, Mr. Scalp alarmed. 

John tried again, “And the walls and gates! It would even be difficult for an adult to gain entry.” 

The doctor followed up with, “vWhere zthere iz a vwill thHere iZ a Vway. He iZ right, Vwe need to go nowV an put Zthis park, Zthis Vwitch to Zsleep forRR gHood.” 

Mr. Goldberg said,  “We have transportation waiting.” And with that the men were off. 

While in route Mr. Hanson felt it necessary to fill in the dead air of dismay with more information that would most likely help them deal with what he never thought would have to be completely destroyed. 

This was his entire life’s work. It was a huge financial investment, not to mention all the personal time and sacrifice he made in order to bring this park to life.

-While in the park–

The boys jumped back from David’s body as he sprang to his feet and yelled, “THAT

WAAASS…

AWWWWE…HEHE…

SOME!!!!!

 His friends were shocked that he was okay.  In their minds they were set on him being unconscious. He freaked them out with his startling enthusiasm. 

Ron spoke first after catching his breath, “Dog Dave, you’re nuts don’t do that to us again!” 

Dave give him a look and said, “Oooh yeah, like I could do that again.” 

Jeremy remarked, “You should have been knocked out, you freak!” 

David laughed as he made the comment, “Wow! Everything is on now and there’s no one here but us! We can do everything for free and do whatever we want! Let’s gooo!!!” 

The other two lit up and let out a, “WOOOOOHOOO HOOO, YES ! ! ! ! As they follow their fearless leader. 

The next thing that caught the boy’s eyes was the “House-O-Fun” 

Jeremy read the sign, “Susie’s Play House-O-Fun. Who is Susie?”, he asked. 

David chuckled, “Haha…Let’s find out!”  

Ronnie said. This will be wicked without paying and without other people in there. 

David pushed Jeremy out of the way as he joshed,  “I’m first in line!”

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While still enroute to the park the engineers tried to grasp what John was saying. They began to brainstorm what they could possibly do from a mathematical, scientific and mechanical point of view.

They soon realized that, in dealing with this park, they needed more of a biological and psychological vantage point.

Dr. Hatfield came to the conclusion, “vWe reHally  need a medicHal doHcKtor.”

Mr. Scalp  agreed, “John, I  think he is right. What we really need is to get a mental health specialist  involved.”

Mr. Goldberg said. “Thank God we don’t have to involve the police department.” John agreed, “Yes, or the SWAT team.” 

“Mr. Hanson…”, Mr. Wiggins addressed John, “Tell us more.” 

The seats in the limo faced each other. Mr. Scalp and Dr. Hatfield lean Forward. John and Mr. Goldberg were on one side and the three specialists on the other. 

Mr. Scalp said, “The more we know the better we may be able to shut this mother down.” 

John agreed reluctantly. 

Dr. Hatfield grilled Jonn, “CKhom Ohn MizterhHANZON, only yHou can tell uz haowv to beat zthis.” 

John Hanson hid his face in his hands almost mumbling, “You’re going to think I am insane.” 

“Try us.”, replied Mr. Scalp. 

Dr. Hatfield thought, ‘vWe already know you’re inZsane so vwhat more can you tell uz zthat iz zsooo unbelievable.’ He decided to keep that to himself in hopes that this unbridled mad man would be willing to terminate this dangerous and possibly deadly mechanical menis that should have never been given a chance to live in the first place. 

John looked at his lawyer and again took the dreadful deep breath before he began to confess what he had created. 

“There are so many factors to consider. The park runs like you and I. I engineered her to completely run just like a human being but…” 

He began to weep,  “…But, as I already informed you, she has lost her mind. She is completely unstable now. I wish I would have just adjusted her herb levels. Maybe less St. John’s Wart…I don’t know,  more Melatonin. I think I pushed her performance level too much while we were developing, nursing and nurturing her.” 

Mr. Hanson became increasingly more and more emotional. “I built, I incubated that park from a small, synthetic micromachine to the massive place it is now. She was supposed to grow into a place that was different and entertaining and…well…fun.” He broke down unconsolable.

Susie was just getting into a full mood swing while her creator was crying like a baby–

The “House-O-Fun” was all lit up and blaring with wild music.

It wasn’t one of those cheap contrived mazes that sits on the back of a semi-truck.

“This is so unlike any fun house I’ve ever been in!”, exclaim Jeremy.

“You scared Jeremy?”, Ron taunted as he looked at David for approval.

Jeremy ran up the stairs and shoved Ron then David out-of-the-way shouting, “I’ll show you who’s scared, yo mama!”

David fought back  trying to grab his shirt.

The boys were having fun even before they entered.

After reaching the top of the spiral staircase Jeremy stopped and pointed out the digital scrolling sign that read, ‘Come on boys, let’s play!’ 

Jeremy demanded that his friends read it.

 “Ah, yeah, so what. Let me in!”, David was ready to fight.

Jeremy had never really challenged Dave but questioned, “Well, why is it typed out, ‘boys‘, rather than, ‘boys and girls‘ or ‘ladies and gentlemen!?’ How does it know that it’s just us and that we are alone?”

David had an answer for everything, “YOU’RE RIGHT JERRY...IT SHOULD SAY, ‘LADIES AND GERMS, TO INCLUDE YOU TWO! HA HAA!” He shuffled past Jeremy.

Ron was right on his tail and spewed out, “Yeah! HA HA, amusing Jerry, ya little puppy!”

Jeremy follow but as he was going in he asked again, “Why…ah, how would it say just boys?”

Once the three boys were passed the sign is scrolled a new message, “…ENJOY, ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK… MY NEW BOY TOYS!!!”

The first part of the house was an arrangement of smoke and mirrors. 

Jeremy still thought to himself that something just wasn’t right. How and why was all this stuff in the park on? 

Ron was still in the chase after David. 

Jeremy was held back a little and shouted, “Hey guys! GUYS…DAVID, RON, HEY YOU GUYS!! WAIT UP!!!” 

Hearing the desperation in his friends voice David turned, “WHAT?” Ron laughed, “I’m in second place!” David just shook his head and thought about how everything was a competition. 

It wasn’t long until he shook Ron off his tail and all three of them were separated. 

Although they were all in the same exact section they felt wholly lost and alone. 

Ron shouted over the music, “DAVE? DAVE? DAVID?!” 

David remained silent to increase his friend’s fear. They no longer heard Jeremy. 

Ron tried to play off David’s sensitive side, “Dave. I’m worried about Jeremy. I think he’s hurt!” Ron waited. 

BAHAHA!!!”, Jeremy blasted as he snuck from up behind David. 

YOU…PUUUUPPY!!!, were the only words David could muster. 

Jeremy was so proud of himself for being able to sucker his bravest friend into that one. 

Ron found himself lost in the Smoke. He called out, “I HEARD YOU GUYS! IS JEREMY OKAY? I AM KIIINDAAA SCARED…FOR HIM. DAVID?” 

When the Smoke cleared he thought he had found his way out.  He made a run for it down the long hall way.   WHAM!

Ron ran into another wall of glass. The walls shook a little. As he was getting back to his feet and rubbing his nose. He noticed a mirror on the other side of the glass moving its angle. 

“HEY!”, he yelled, “Hey, David and Jeremy…you guy, the mirrors move just right to confuse the high thrill-seeker. THIS IS GREAT HUH GUYS?! THIS IS REALLY FUN HUH? GUY?!” He started to become desperately  concerned. He felt alone and was now wondering why they had played around so much trying to get in first. He began to think that maybe Jeremy was at least partially right.  

He considered praying like his grandma once taught him. He fell to his knees and started the only prayer he could think of. He recited,

“God is great. God is good. Let us thank him for our food…No, that won’t work in here.” 

Another prayer came to mind. He stood up then re-knelt as if he had to reset. 

His voice was shaking, “Now…ah…now I lay me down to sleep…Oh crap, I mean ah…shhh…um, i’m sorry God, ah…I just, AGH!” 

Ron stood up and then once again dropped to his knees in a final attempt, “If you get me out of this alive God, I… we will, I promise, my friends and I  should,  WILL, stop and think more before we act on our impulses. Um, and I will brush my teeth every night and not lie to my mom anymore when I tell her that I already did when I actually haven’t brushed them in a month. The same thing with showering. Um, you know sometimes I just run the brush or the soap under the water to fool her, cause you’re God, YOU KNOW… and You…YOU ARE GOD and YOU ARE AWESOME AND EVERYTHING…” 

As Ronald continued his emergency call the other two were yelling and laughing and even calling, “Ron! Ronnie! YO’ RON, WHERE ARE YOU?!” 

Then they began to taunt him a little,  “WE’RE GOING TO FIND YOU! WE ARE COMING TO  GEEET  YOOOUU!” 

Then a loud voice that sounded like a roaring demon repeated the phrase, “WE ARE COMING TO GEEET YOOOUU!” 

David said, “COOL! It sampled and processed our voices!” 

Then the voice made it personal, “I AM GOING TO  GET YOU!!!” There was an eerie echo at the end of the threat. 

Jeremy thought, ‘humm how clever…that’s a pretty neat effect. He was trying to convince himself. 

The voice made Ron stop his ploy for a moment. He then expressed words from deep down within as he closed his eyes tighter, clasped his hands harder and bowed even more crying out loud, “OH, AH MY DEARGOD! MY DEAR, DEEEAR GOD, I CERTAINLY HOPE THAT IS NOT  YOUR VOICE. PLLLLEEEASE GET ME OUTTA THIS PLACE…” 

Suddenly they all heard the voice of a sweet little girl  overpowering the music.  It said, 

“THIS IS SUSIE! 

Are you having fun? 

BOY, I SURELY AM! 

I REALLY, TRULY… SURLY…SUSIE  AM,  hee hee. 

THANKS FOR  COMING  IN, TO  PLAY HOUSE WITH ME, 

BUT THIS ISN’T JUST ANY HOUSE…” 

Then the voice changed into a female demon, 

“THIS IS MY HOUSE HA, HA, HAAAAAA !!!” 

The deafening  evil laugh haunted them. 

Ron was now in tears, face planted on the floor, burying his head with his arms. 

David laughed, letting  out his normal reaction to strange and bizarre happenings, “This is awesome. Hehehe. Did you hear that Jeremy?!” 

Jeremy was completely creeped out. 

The music shut off. It was now extremely silent

David began to speak, “That seems odd…” Jeremy asked, “That seems odd?” 

The Voice interrupted. This time they heard the little girl  mixed  with the adult female demon, 

“I don’t mean to interrupt but I bet I’ll have more fun with you than you’ll have with me…RON.” 

Jeremy asked David,  “Did it just say Ron or run???” 

David answered Jeremy, “No! It said, ON!” 

Susie clarified, “NOOO! I SAID, ‘RON!’ R-O-N!!” 

“Yep, it said Ron.”, Dave admitted. 

Ron couldn’t bring himself to look up. He felt his bladder getting weak. The wall shifted, herding David and Jeremy in the direction Susie wanted them to go. 

“Hey, what’s going on!”, David protested. 

“We’ll be crushed!”, yelped Jeremy. 

Ron, still prostrate on the floor, was being slid sideways, then backwards, then forward until he and the other two boys found themselves reunited in one room, just big enough for the three of them. 

“RONNIE!”, the two shouted in unison. 

He was still having trouble getting up. His thoughts were on kids he had bullied in their neighborhood. He had a flash back to little Ricky that he scared so bad he made him pee his pants. That’s when Ron himself felt the warm liquid invading his groin area. 

Susie’s voice beckoned, “HA HA…having FUN, Ron? Oh, my, you’re warm. Do you like me Ron?” 

David joined in the tease, “Ronnie’s got a girlfriend! HA HA!” 

Jeremy elbowed Dave. 

David didn’t know when to stop, “If you like her sooo muuuch, why doncha’ maaarry her?! Ha, ha, haaa!” 

Jeremy shoved him up against one of the uncomfortably tight walls. 

Jeremy  managed to remain standing but Dave wasn’t use to being pushed around. He slipped, fell on top of Ron’s body first, then rolled onto the floor. 

He cringed, “AGH…IT’S WET!!” Ron finally got up. “MAN, AM I GLADTO SEE YOU PUPPIES!”, he said with joy, gratitude and laughter. 

David noticed Ron’s pants were wet. He unleashed his assult, “WAIT…DID YOU PISS YOUR PANTS?!” 

Jeremy jumped in defense, “No, of course he didn’t PISS his pants man, come on! The floor is wet, obviously that’s how he got his pants wet there. Just like you, look at your’s

Your all wet down the outside of your jeans there too

looook…at…that. 

What a shame.  

Pluuuus…Ronnie’s the one that jumped into the water to try and save your life earlier. We thought you were in the pool drowning. That was pretty awesome right?! You made an epic landing too Dave…bruuh, killer, huh Ron?” 

Ron looked at Jeremy, knowing his friend knew why their pants were really wet.  

Jeremy just winked at Ronnie. 

David had brauns but not much brains. He possessed great looks and outward muscles but fell short when it came to scholastic abilities and brain power. 

Nevertheless, he was still their friend and he needed their friendship too. 

They both helped Dave back up onto his feet. 

Things were very still, as well as, extremely quiet again. 

The silence was as disturbing as the loudness. 

Dave asked, “Does it smell like pee in here to you guys?” Ron let out a nervous chuckle avoiding the question, “…and by the way, I would never marry anybody named

Susie!!!” 

The whole room began to shake. Jeremy said, “I think you upset her!” 

David barked,  “You guys are such lil’ puppies! Puke puppies,  puke, puke.” He tried to command, “Puke up all over Susie! She’ll like it!” 

The room shook side to side then up and down. 

David  questioned, “How are theeey doing that?!” 

Susie answered David, “I can do all kiiinds of fun things David!” 

Jeremy’s inquiry clarified,  “How is she doing that?! 

Ron stammered,  “it…sh…sh… she knows your name too, Da…Da… Dave!” 

David was really perplexed. The only thing he could say was, “What?! WHAT?! REALLY?! REEALY!! WHAT THE WHAT?!” 

Jeremy was shocked that David had not resorted to using swear words by now, especially under the severity of their circumstances and the fact that they knew there were no adults around that would come down on them based on certain words they decided to  use. 

Jeremy himself was about to use words he knew wouldn’t offend his friends but some adults would find and deem inappropriate for kids to say. 

All three of them where not sure what was going on, what to do or what to say. 

Just when it seemed that every thing had stopped the loud wild music blared once again. 

They covered their ears and search for a rational reason. Jeremy thought,  maybe we are setting off trip wires or triggers. Maybe there is a built in computer that heard us using our names.

 Trying to find the right words to express himself Jeremy raised his voice, “I’M TELLING YOU  GUYS, THIS… IS…MUCKED UP! THIS WHOLE SITUATION IS JUST… NOT  NORM…”

 Susie said, “Shut up Jeremy, you puppy!” 

That was one of Dave’s original sayings he had developed completely on his own.  Adults didn’t wash his mouth out with soap when he used the slang term, “puppy” like they did when using other words. 

Susie spoke some more, “You’re my new friends, David, Ronald and Jeremy, or should I call you Dave, Ronnie and Jerry? You posers! ” 

Jeremy said, “She knows our slang and nicknames?!” 

Susie said, “I like little boys so much more than little girls, you scare easier!” 

The boys were beginning to breathe irregularly. Their adrenaline levels rose and so did Suzi’s. 

They notice their legs and arms began to shake and shiver out of control making it hard to stand. 

Jeremy’s legs buckled taking him to the ground. He felt the wet floor soak into the knees of his pants. 

He tried reciting affirmations he learned in Sunday school,  “Our Father which art in heaven…” David said, “Are you praying?!” 

Ignoring Dave,  Jeremy continue, “… the Lord is my shepherd…” 

Ron said, “That’s not a bad idea Dave, especially when in a crisis.” 

Then Ron complained, “I can’t move!”, becoming paralyzed in fear. 

David tried to encourage them, “Come on dogs, be strong! We got this…sh…” 

She crackled, 

“I am Susie. I know who and what you are.  You’re not dogs…your puppies, hehe.” 

David said, “Shut up you witch!” 

The whole room turned upside down then right side up again as the boys heard Susie cackle some more,  

“Don’t throw up boys! I am not and witch. I’m a bit of a… what-do-you-call-it… I don’t like germs.” 

Dave shouted,  “Germaphobe!” 

Susie said, “DON’T CALL ME  THAT!!!” 

The room flipped again. 

Jeremy begged, “Stop upsetting her!” 

Dave said, “This is bull CRAZY!!!”

Susie replied, “DOOON’T CAAALL MEEE CRAAAZY!!!!”

Ron tried to get out the words, “I… I…I don’t know Dave, it seems pretty legit.”   

Long cords came out from the sides of the wall and grabbed David & Ron’s legs pulling them off their feet. 

They were forced to join Jeremy on the floor.  

David objected, “Hey, this isn’t water down here! This is pee!” 

Ron got nervous that Dave was now going to tease him relentlessly; however, Dave then said, “This fun house put urine on the floors!” 

Oh good,  he’s blaming the house.’,thought Ron.

“We got to get out of here!”, yelled David. 

Susie said, “Don’t leave boys. You can’t leave now. I’m not done. You’re so much fun… 

I could hurt you if I wanted to and I can’t go to jail…I’m just a machine! 

You boys could go to Juvenile Jail but… you’re just boys being boys. 

I think I’ll teach you a lesson on trespassing.”

The room did a waving motion as if the boys were being treated like a slinky.

 “I could hurt you but I won’t hurt you or harm you but… you’ve got to be niiice to me. 

Hey Dave, Daaaave. David? Davie?!” Susie waited for him to answer. 

He finally did,  “Ah…yeah?”

 “I want you to know I heard what you said earlier about what would be done if you were caught by some old fart.”, Susie made a fart sound,

 “I won’t torture, torch or torment you but… I will TEACH you.  I’m very sensitive.” 

David tried to say what he thought a grown macho  man would say, 

“Oh, she is a sensitive Susie.” 

He always tried to make lite of a situation by puffing up his chest and trying to play the bad boy.  

Susie responded, “Hahaha. David, you want all of us to laugh out loud… okay…LOL, here let me help you.”

The small room  began to fill with laughing gas. It took over the minds of the boys. All their fears disappeared along with all other clear thinking. 

The boys just found themselves laughing uncontrollably and banging into the walls that were slowly retracting and expanding outward. 

Rather than constricting and crushing the boys Susie was allowing them more space to fumble around. 

She even added a wobbling effect to her voice to disoriented them even more as she said in a sing-song voice, 

“Give them enough rope and they’ll hang themselves. Rockabye bye bye babies, in my play house…” 

Ron said, “My mom use to sing this to me!” He was appalled that he admitted that out loud. 

Susie laughed and taunted, “Sometimes you have to experience some things for yourself and learn the hard way.” 

She made her voice sound especially funny. It was almost as if she was sucking on helium. 

The boys breathed in deep.  

The next thing they knew they had breathed in helium along with the laughing gas. 

David said, “Thiiis is craaazyyy!” 

The other two boys laughed at is high-pitched voice. Jeremy spoke next, “YOOOUU,  OH,  you sound like Mickey Mouse!” 

Ron said, “SOOoo sooo do you Jeeeremy. Do I sound like that? Oooh wait… I’m hearing myself! I doO0oOoo sound like that, this is weird.” 

Jeremy said, “I think it’s the aiiir arooOo0ound usss that we’re breathing that’s making us. . .”  

David said, “Yo0ou want sooome moo0orerrRon? Breathe deep. Heehee, it sounded like I just called you a moron Ron!

The more they stumbled the more they laughed. The Voice asked, “Do you want OUT Boys? 

The kids were so high they actually answered all together, “SHhhuure  why not.” 

Jeremy slurred his speech, “Oo0okay. Ookay? OHo0o-Tay!” 

Ron shuttered, “Ohhh…kkkay sssSuusie. I th think I LOOOVE YOOOUU.” 

David tried to think straight enough to talk and just got out,  “That would be AWWWWE SOME”

The smoke blew way. The walls dropped and the boys found themselves at the end of a huge tunnel that had a black and white spiral painted in it. 

As if that wasn’t enough it began to spin.

🏦🏧🏤🚘

As the limo approached the park John and the other men saw the lights from a distance.

The limo finally  pulled up in front of the park entrance and there was a small crowd of young people already gathered there, mostly boys.

Before anyone got out John’s lawyer said, “Wait a minute guys, let me handle this.”

He opened the door and stepped out to address the children. He thought it best to dumb it down.

He spoke slower and louder then when he was speaking to adults,

“Okay kids…I’m not sure why you’re gathered here but this place is off-limits, OUT OF  BOUNDS! Ahhh, the park is being tested for safety. Ummm, evvverything is running so they can double-check everything but it is not open. You are…ALL OUT OF BOUNDS.”

 One of the boys said, “But sir, our friends are in there.” 

An older boy next to him elbowed him and whispered, “Shut up Daniel.” 

Mr. Goldberg looked at the smaller  boy and asked, “What did you say little boy?” 

The older one stepped forward, “Oh…nothing sir, we just heard loud music and saw the things moving so we came by to check it out. We didn’t go inside or anything. I mean no one is in there.”  

Mr. Hanson stepped out the other side of the limo. Having heard the young boy John asked,  “Please boys, if someone, a friend, a true friend or anyone is in there we need to know because they…” 

John wondered if he should say anything more. 

He looked at his lawyer and knew he’d regret this but John finished with, “…Boys, they could get seriously hurt. If you can just let us know then we can make sure that your friends are okay. 

They won’t be in any trouble, just as none of you are In harm’s way or in trouble or anything…Boys…” ,he pleaded,  

“Boys, please let us know WHAT YOU KNOW!” 

Then one of the few girls in the crowd spoke up, “David Spencer, Ronnie Moore and I think Jerry or Jeremy Mcroy. 

Those three boys planned on going in there tonight.” 

Another older boys confirmed, “Yeah, they did. They wanted me  to go but I was too…I was too scared. But I don’t know how they turned everything on. 

They said they were just going to skate down the old water slides.” 

John’s eyes began to swell with tears. He whispered a short prayer,  “Oh dear Lord Jesus…help.” 

He thanked the kids gathered there and asked if they would please go on home because the police would be coming around. He tried to convince them that they would not want to get caught up in all of this.  

Mr. Goldberg chimed in, “That’s all we need to know from you boys and girls. Thank you,  now run along! You don’t want to get into any trouble or anything! 

Trespassing is a serious charge and if you’re around, well who knows, you might be called into the police department or the FBI or someone may want to blame you for going against the law. 

Now, go on…git…ah, get going.” 

Never had a lawyer sounded so immature and unsure of himself. 

Dr. Hatfield stepped out of the car and put a hand on Mr. Goldberg shoulder sarcastically commending him, “Nize jHob MiZter LHawyer. Bhig vwordz too. ZThat waz zsmooth.”

 Mr. Wiggins jumped out and said,  “It sounds like the park is full of people.” 

Dr. Hatfield turned and before John could explain he answered, “Ambianzce. zSometimez playcez useZ caonned, oHr preHHtApped miZik an zsHound effHeckz…zthis magz Eet mHore…”,

He looked at John who swallowed hard and finish the statement, “…More fun and… lively!

Mr. Scalp ran up to the front gates yelling,  “THEY ARE HUGE! How do we get in?” 

John snapped out of his hypnotic self pity, “Oh yes, here I have an access card.” 

As John approached the gates he got a card out of his hip pocket. He swiped it but nothing happened. He swiped it again,  still nothing. He became increasingly nervous. 

With the third and fourth swipe. The gates were still not responding. 

John’s lawyer said, “John,  I know you’re worried but speaking from a lawyer’s standpoint you’re safe. If something happens to those boys while they are in the park gates you can not be held liable.”

 John spouted back, “Mr. Goldberg, I’m not worried about what happens to me. Our concern should be for… those boys and…the park.” 

Dr. Hatfield asked, “Iz  zthere a maHAnual ov-Her-ride?”

 John look down at the ground and nodded  no in shame. They could barely hear him mumble,  “Everything we built runs off the main brain of the entire park.” 

Mr. Scalp looked up at the gate. Then his eyes scanned the gigantic walls surrounding the park.  He couldn’t see where it ended. He said,  “This is one big monster, but those boys got in, so there must be an opening.” 

John remembered he used to have a security guard check the perimeter to make sure the gates, walls and fences were secure. 

He recalled, “There is one area that is just chain-linked fence.”

 “Let’s get there!”, said the lawyer. 

John agreed, “We have to get back in the car, drive around the East side, then walk a little bit over some small hills, through a field and…” 

Mr. Wiggins shouted, “LET’S JUST GO!!!”  They followed his  command.

In The Meantime INSIDE Susie’s House-O-Fun–

  The boys knew they had to get through that tunnel to get out.

 As the tunnel spun the boys flipped around out of control. The gas they had inhaled was wearing off. 

David yelled, “WHAT THE HECK, MAN?!!” He was angry that he had no control over the situation and fought his way to reach the end. 

He heard Susie say, “I am not a man!” 

When David conquered the tunnel the other two boys were close enough for him to grab Ron by the arm and Jeremy by the leg. He leaned back pulling them out.

Simultaneously the owner of the park was holding up the fence and pulling in those who were with him.

 He insisted they help him by crawling in. The other men were fairly large but they knew they needed to get in there, save those kids and shut down the park.

“Come on Mr. Goldberg!”, John insisted. 

The lawyer, in his three piece suit, reluctantly got down on the ground and scraped across the gravel making his way into the park. 

Once they all force themselves under the chain linked fence John had to show the men where the main brain was, however,  he was also worried about the boys, their immediate danger and what damage they may bring upon Susie.

He turned to his lawyer, “James!”, this was the first time John called his lawyer by his first name. 

He went on,  “I need you to find those boys!” 

John and the three Consultants ran off in a desperate scurry. 

His lawyer stood there in a daze. He still couldn’t believe what was happening. He looked down at his, now ruined, $600 suit. 

He felt sick and even developed a hatred toward the boys that were trespassing. He mumbled to himself,  “They are breaking the law they deserve anything bad that’s coming their way.”  

He scoffed to himself as he tried to brush himself off and move toward the water slides.

 Dave was laying exhausted on the cold metal grid floor just outside of the spinning tunnel. 

Ron jumped up breathing heavy. 

Jeremy got up slowly, dusting off the bits and pieces of stuff that collected in the tunnel. 

Ron was the first to speak. “We almost didn’t make it. We almost died in there.” 

Jeremy thanks David, “Yeah,  we would have if you didn’t get a hold of us David.” 

David was too confused and tired to talk or express himself in any other way. He just laid there. The laughing gas had worn off and they were now becoming paranoid. 

The lawyer begin to hear shouts but it was the pre-recorded ambiance soundtrack. 

Not sure where to go he began to run in the direction of the cries.

Susie spoke calmly to the boys using her  innocent little  girl voice, “YAY! You made it boys!” 

Ron said to his friends, “I think she’s happy now.” 

Jeremy whispered in an attempt to not let Susie hear him, “Don’t say anything to get her up set.” 

David said, “I still think this machines is a freak!” 

 Susie let out a shriek, “AHHHGH!!! BOYS!!!”  

The whole house started to rumble. The ceiling looked like it was moving. 

Ron and Jeremy ended up back on the floor.

Mr. Goldberg couldn’t help but think about how he never runs or how his body was straining. The only thing that kept him going was his focus on trying to find these trespassing children.

 His mind flashback to when he was a boy.  He hadn’t thought about that in years. 

He recalled something from when he was around eight or nine. He tried to think back to what it was like being a preteen boy by asking himself,

 “Where would I go if I were free to run wherever I wanted in an amusement park… alone with just me and my closest friends?” 

He had a vision of a fun house he once went into with a few of his Buddy’s.

 A smiled appeared on his face it was nice to have that wild and crazy memory, as well as know where to look for the boys. 

 He shouted out loud, “YES, NOTHING’S MORE  FUN AND THRILLING AND  EVEN  A  LITTLE  SCARY  THAN  A  FUN  HOUSE!” 

He tried to gather himself as he looked around for the fun house. He saw a map of the park on a wall.

He had only been here a few times. John showed him where everything was but he knew he had better look at the map to make sure he didn’t get turned around.

Dave and the other boys were still flat on their backs. They extended their arms out to their sides, trying to stabilize themselves, staring straight up. 

David’s voice vibrated, “Tttrrryyy tttooo ssstttaaayyy ffflllaaattt!” 

They saw large long padded pendulums coming down on them. They looked like heavy body bags that fighters use while boxing. 

David watched Jeremy get up & trying to run. He was hit immediately and knocked down. David yelled, “I TOLD YOU!” 

In spite of David’s warning and Jeremy’s consequences. Ronnie tried to get to his feet. Each time he got up he’d get hit by one of the beams. It would knock him into another one that would put him on the floor again. 

David thought it would be best to stay flat on his back and use his arms to push himself to the other side, avoiding the pendulums all together. He turned his head to the left and saw Jeremy had somehow made it past the swinging obstacles to the next door way. Jeremy held out his hand and grabbed David’s hand. It was his turn to drag David to safety. 

David turned and yelled to Ronnie,  “HIT THE  GROUND  AND  SLIDE  ON  THE  FLOOR  TOWARD  US!” 

Ronnie was knocked down again.  This time he stayed  down. He looked up at the pendulums swinging very close to his face but he realized if he stayed flat they couldn’t touch him. He wiggled like a snake to reach the other side.

Mr. Goldberg was getting closer to “SUSIE’S HOUSE-O-FUN”. He heard David shout and it helped him hone in on where the boys were struggling.

 Reaching the Funhouse he looked up. On the third floor he saw the pendulums swinging like scissors. One of the mallets broke free, soared through the air and landed with a THUD, just 10 feet from the lawyer. 

He remarked, “This is a lawsuit waiting to happen!” 

He looked back up and saw the boys. Ronnie was laying flat as possible, tucking his chin. The lawyer addressed the machine, “Susie, play nice. Did you kill that poor boy?” His voice was drowned out by the music. 

The boys didn’t hear him but Susie did. She laughed as loud as the tunes being blasted, HA HA HAHA…hee hee hee, weeeee!” 

Ronnie was able to reach out and grab David’s shoe. As Jeremy pulled on David Dave pulled on Ronnie.

Mr. Goldberg watch and tried to shout to the boys but the force of The chopping rods, the music and Susie’s continuous laughter was overpowering him. He saw a spiral staircase. It was rotating like a corkscrew!

He had no idea how to get up there to help.

Ronnie made it through but not without a torn shirt and rug Burns across his back.

Mr. Goldberg gasped along with the boys as the platform they were on suddenly dropped. He felt helpless but not as helpless and hopeless as  the boys.

This was the first time James Goldberg wanted to help someone outside the legal parameters of the courtroom, then again he wished he could sue John for creating Susie.

John was leading the three team members toward the main brain/ generator.

Rather than deciding how wrong John was for creating the brains of this thing they joined their heads together to come up with ideas of termination.

Dr. Hatfield asked, “Doez id have a pHort of entrRy vwe can…”, even though Dr. Hatfield had a strong accent unlike any of the other men, John wasn’t sure which man asked but he finished, “Where we can feed it? Yes, but we have to get by the wind tunnels that allow it to breathe.”

“Is it like a ventilator machine?” Asked Mr. Scalp.

“LET’S SHUT  THAT AIRFLOW  OFF ! yelled Mr. Wiggins

John stopped running, “WAIT!”

 All of them were out of breath but their adrenaline was still pushing them to go on. The only reason they stopped with John was because they knew only John knew how this thing works.

They trusted his command as he went on,  “We’re going the wrong way.”

 “WHAT?!” shouted Mr. Wiggins in discuss.

Dr. Hatfield said, “JohHANn, vWe don’t Hhave tHime to gHet loZstD!”

John pulled a paper out of his pocket. It looked like a map of the park but was actually hand-drawn schematics of the main brain and various engines to the park.

John had not allowed anyone else see this. He usually kept it locked in a safe,  like a chef does with a secret recipe.

He looked at his drawing as he said, “I can take you to the heart, lungs or ultimately the brains but…the boys… If we knew where the boys were…” as he continued to speak the doctor grab John’s cell phone off of his hip and looked for his lawyer’s number.

John continued, “… we need to somehow shut down the contraption that they are on first.”

Mr. Wiggins felt like John was stalling and  argued, “If we stop the heart, lungs or brains we’ll stop all the other functions too!”

John said, “Yes, but stopping the rollercoaster, the swings, the Funhouse, any of the rides really, could throw the boys off into the air or trap them inside. Stopping an amusement ride suddenly could kill THEM!”

 John remembered something being said about the boys going to the water slides.

The doctor had reached Mr. Goldberg on the phone and tried to find out if he found the kids. He could barely hear him over the screech of the machinery and music.

James was literally in tears. He tried to give the best directions possible as he blurted into the phone and watch the boys fighting for their lives.

John grabbed his cell phone back and said, “Tell me where, not how to get there but WHERE! WHERE JAMES?!

 John knew the parks layout like the back of his hand and with great pride he could give them all a grand tour.

He  heard the tortured screams of the boys in the background and said in despiration,  “Pull yourself together James and…”

John pause as Mr. Goldberg was able to get out one word, “Funhouse.”

John once again began to lead the marathon of men to the spot of danger.

Mr. Wiggins picked up the same argument from earlier, “You plan on shutting down just the ride they are on? Shouldn’t we shut down the whole park?!”

John said with assurance and confidence, “WE WILL AFTER WE  SAVE  THE  BOYS!” He tried to convince all of them, “Killing Susie, ah…the park, completely, before we know those children are safe is very dangerous.”

Mr. Wiggins said, “You’re stalling.”

Scalp and Hatfield began to speculate that maybe John was trying to avoid the inevitable end to his creation.

The boy’s bodies suspended just a tenth of a second  in mid-air as the floor dropped out from under them.

They slammed down on the padded floor as it came to a sudden stop three stories down.

The padding wasn’t enough to keep the boys from being bruised. As they laid there groaning the platform shot back up beyond the third level. When it reached the slanted roof of the house it tilted to the side and slid the boys off and down the roof.

Mr. Goldberg ran to the side to see where he thought the boys would land. He saw nothing but a huge smokestack. The music stopped and  James couldn’t believe his ears as he stood there.

He heard what sounded like the boys laughing. He also noticed some type of fog rising up out of the top of the cylinder.  He stepped back a few steps. In big bold festive letters he read the words, THE GAS CHAMBER.

Although the lawyer had no idea what this meant specifically he was glad to hear the boys were laughing.

They didn’t sound like they were in pain.

His heart dropped when he no longer heard them.

Susie shut off all the sound effect, music & even some of the lights.

It was over.

The other four men reached the Funhouse too late.

The professionals saw James just standing there bewildered. He was still staring up at the large chimney.

John tried to get out of James where the boys were but James could not snap out of his mental trance.

John asked the rest to follow him around the back of the structure. He pointed to a cable the size of sewer pipe and gave them the orders, “Find something to cut this cable with!”

 Mr. Wiggins hesitated, “Won’t we get electrocuted?”

John asked, “Have you ever been electrocuted when stabbing someone?”

  “I never stabbed anyone!”, he answered.

 John explained, “What I mean is, this machine is biological not electrical”

 The doctor asked, “Can vwe pinch id ovff to zstop zthe flHow of blood or juicez or vwhHatever?”

 John’s words jumped out, “YES, YES! THATS EVEN BETER. If we could only find something to cut the circulation off we could most likely stop the appendage from working temporarily.”

John was referring to the attraction as if it were the limb of a person.  For all intensive purposes it was.

They searched for something that would do the trick.

Mr. Scalp, who had remained silent until now, picked up a long battering ram. It was the very same detached pendulum that moments ago was dangling from above, swinging at the boys and almost struck Mr. Goldberg, “Will this thing work?”

“BRILLIANT!”, reply John.

He recognize what it was and where it was from as they worked together to press the beam down on the cord in an attempt to cut off the circulation to that ride.

John was sure that those boys had ripped that pendulum off Susie. He expressed his frustration by digging his finger nails into the beam. He really wasn’t pressing down on the pipe-like cable at all.

Mr. Goldberg came around the corner mumbling, “They’re… they’re gone… they’re gone… the boys they are gone.”

Dr. Hatfield asked, “You mean, zthat zthey are not hHere?” 

James nodded and his eyes filled with tears.

Mr. Scalp pressed him for an answer, “Where did they go?”

“They are gone!” James repeated himself.

Dr. Hatfield asked the dreadful questions, “YHou mean gHone, no LHonger vwiZth uszz?”

James nodded and started repeating, “I let them die…”

John stopped him, “James, I know this is hard but, tell us what you saw.”

James spoke slowly as if he was hypnotized, “I never saw anything like that.” 

John prodded him gently, “What did you see James?”

It was a good thing things were quite in that section otherwise they would have never heard him.

James told them, “The boys… they fell into that side cylinder, the smokestack with the…the smoke coming out of it and…”

John broke in, interrupting James, “WAIT, JAMES, James? THEY went down into the gas chamber?!”

 James tried to respond but he felt like he was in a creepy fog and his eyes were glazed over. Final he spoke like a zombie, “Yes, yes they did…yes they… died.”

Inside, once down the silo, the boys slid down a longer looping tube, much like the water Flume.

As they descended, smoke, lights and laughing gas was again being pumped in from every side.

Although in pain, from the trauma they had just went through, they lost their minds and senses.  They laughed uncontrollably all the way.

 They felt their bodies being forced up by an extremely powerful shot of air.

 David shouted, “THIS IS LIKE WE’RE SKYDIVING!”

The shute shot them under the Funhouse, under parts of the park and spewed them back up and out into an entirely different area.

 The boys flung out of the gas chamber and up into the air.

Ron shouted, “WE ARE FREEEE FAAAALING!”

Jeremy  laughed and cheered, “I CAN FLYYYY!”

They were so high mentally and physically they didn’t even care where they were about to land.

“JAMES!”, John shouted with joy, “James, they are NOT DEAD! That  smokestack is this end of a very long tube, A BIG WINDING AIR SLIDE. That will project the boys out into the lake of goo!”

Mr. Wiggins had to ask, “Lake of what?”

James listen close as John explained and James recalled, “I’ve seen that, that was the official name for what one of the former employees called the lake of snot!”

John confirmed, “YES, YES MY DEAR FRIEND. Remember we said the kids will love it and the parents would hate it but…”

John and James spoke in unison, “The kids will spend the parent’s money, chaCHING!!!” They both laughed.

Mr. Wiggins called the two men to order, “YOU TWO SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES!”

John defended himself, “Oh lighten up. It was meant to be fun, part of the whole, getting your hands dirty area. All kids want get dirty and they always find a ways to do it! We provide good clean fun for them!”

John imitated Dr. Hatfield, “VWhere zthere iz a vwill zthere iz a vway!”

Dr. Hatfield thought, ‘I dHon’t zound LHike zad!’

James backup John, “Yes, it is completely non-toxic. It rinses right off.”

Mr. Scalp ask in unbelief, “You mean this thing…” pointing to the vertical pipe labled, ‘Gas Chamber’, “…pulled those boys in and spit them out in a remote place…into a lake of some sorts?”

John  nodded, “Precisely!”

“zSo, zthey arHe zsafve?” asked Dr. Hatfield.

John affirmed, “As safe as can be and had a soft Landing but…”

Mr. Wiggins said, “There is always a but!”

John Hanson held up his hand as he finished, “…they are safe, HOWEVER,  they may be stuck in the goo especially if it’s extra thick. But, they will be fine now gentlemen. We know  where they are and…”

Mr. Wiggins interrupted, “And now we can kill the park.”

The boys were giggling out of control as they tried to get themselves up and out of the Slime they splash down into.

They looked at each other’s faces and that made them laugh all the more.

Jeremy was the first to realize that something was wrong. They were having a good time in their minds; not on their own intent but because of the stimulant.

He asked,  “HEY,  ARE WE… HIGH?!”

David answered back,  “Heck yeah, WE REALLY ARE!”

Ronnie, who swore he would never ever try drugs said, “OH NO MAN! …HAH!”

David shushed him.

He couldn’t help but to laugh louder.

Then Ron slurred his words, “SOOoo thisssIs whatIds likKe. I think that… I think I like likhhId budt…I IdonnoMAN!”

On the inside, in their brains, everything seemed fun but in reality, on the outside, they were surrounded by danger.

Microscopic bugs had formed in the goo. It’s creator was aware of them but thought they were harmless. The analysis proved that they could not penetrate, the epidermis, human skin.

The Slime was deemed safe when the lake was filled but elements in nature that were not present in the sterol lab had mixed. Naked to the human eye, the tiny creatures  began to enter the boy’s pores.

Jeremy was trying to sober up himself and his friends although the effects had not completely worn off him either, “Guys, we got to get out of here. Are your legs tingling?”

Ronnie’s body was struggled and his happy high turned into a panic frenzy. He slurred,  “Whatta wedo? Wacanwedo?  ThisIs likeaaa rollacoasstta withouthe raailz an dacarz.”

David spoke a little more clearly,  “It’Z likeaAGH roller…coaster but without the railZZZ and the car!”

Jeremy sang, “WE’RE GOING OFF THE RAILS ON  a… crazy traAaAAin…dis is, off its tracks.”

Ronnie said, “I know thatsoO0og, OZZY OZZzzburnnn RULZ! OV THE CHAIN MOTHERZ!”

Susie was listening.

She wanted to speak through the park’s PA system but remained silent. Her thoughts were about becoming a mother.

She wanted the boys to think they were safe and for her dad, John, and those other four impostors to think everything was okay. ‘If I speak now they’ll know the truth.’, she thought.

 David tried to assured them, “Guyyz, we are O…Kay!  We are zsafe. We…are zzavfe.” 

He tried his hardest to speak without any hindrance but the drugs in his mind just wouldn’t let him.

That didn’t stop him from trying to reduce their panic, “I’m tellin’ ya guyz,  we made it. We are zavfe now. I love you guyyz! HavvvVIii eva’  tooold you thaaat?”

Jeremy agreed, “Yeah, I remember flying through the air and this landing waz preeetty good.”

He was able to say that clearly but noticed Ronnie’s facial expression as he flopped around in the slime. He realized his friend’s trip was a little worse. He said,  “Ronnie, relax. Stand up. It’s only chest deep.”

Ron straightened his bent knees and said with a smile, ” Oh, I can stand! That is why they had a, ‘You must be this tall to go in the Funhouse’, sign.”

David again assured the boys the park and the rides are all safe, “You know, they wouldn’t build attractions to cause any harm. We got nothing to worry about.  It just seems dangerous.  That’s where the thrill is.”

All three laughed and began to follow Dave’s lead as he walk his way to the side of the slimy pit.

They had no idea that anyone was looking for them. While fearing for their lives they had not heard the lawyer calling them and they never saw the other four men.

Each of them pulled their legs out of the sludge and took shook off the remaining entrails that were slowly allowing the living micro-organizims to work their way into their systems.

Jeremy still insisted, “My legs are still, like, tingling. Are yours?”

Ronnie suggested, “Maybe you’re allergic to that stuff.” Ron’s private area felt funny but he wasn’t about to admit that to his friends.

David confessed, “My legs feel okay but…haha, I think that gooey stuff is clinking to my junk.”

Jeremy noticed public showers, “LOOK! Let’s go wash it off!” He ran as the other two just casually made their way.

They let the water clean off the sticky mess but that didn’t rid them of the living elements that had already penetrated the outer layer of their skin.

Jeremy felt some relief, “Now, this is cool!”

Ronnie used that as a door way to fire back a dagger, “Your mom is cool!” Although it didn’t really make any sense they all laughed. The lasting effect of the drug actually made Ronnie,  of all people, seem funny.

The boys found themselves somewhere between here and reality.

As they continued to shower off they occasionally thought they saw something. Each of them didn’t want to admit to the other but they were each experiencing ups and downs of weird emotions they were not familiar with.

None of them had ever experienced hallucinations before.

David said, “Man, I got the munchies!”

 Suddenly the smell of fresh fresh popcorn, cotton candy, corn dogs ,along with an assortment of junk food on a stick filled the air.

“OH, YES!  I’m going to get something to eat!”, express David.

Jeremy, a little more comprehensive of reality and the weight of the situation, weighed in with the question, “Are you sure? We should probably be running to find the closest exit.”

Ronnie agreed, “yeaaaah, let’s get out of here.”

David looked at them as if they were the biggest chickens in the world, “You…” 

They both finished his all too familiar insult, “PUPPIES, YEAH WE KNOW!”

Susie laughed to herself.

David spoke like a proud politicians, “My fellow Americas…”

Jeremy interjected,  “I’m Canada!”

David rolled his eyes and continued, “You guys, this isn’t the time to be puppies! We are all the big dogs!” 

All three began to bark, “WOOF WOOOF WOOOOF!”

‘Big dogs’ was the official name they gave their self-proclaimed gang of friends.

David finished with, “All we are going to do is have a midnight snack, for free!”

Jeremy made David promise, “But, NO MORE RIDES OR FUNHOUSE’S FROM HELL!”

David agreed, “Yeah, good idea Jerry, we just won’t get on any more rides.”

Ronnie added, “OR, go into anything!”

David said, “Yeah. Right. But we gotta eat and explore a lil’ bit. We can’t come in here and not explore.”

Jeremy raised his hand.

Ronnie looked at Jeremy.

David laughed, “HAH, ya don’t have to raise your hand! Yes, the innocent, funny looking, Canadian boy in the front row…”

Jeremy asked, “What if we get caught?”

Ron said, “We ain’t got caught yet.”

David persuaded them, “No one is looking for us. We would have been caught by now if anyone else was in here, BUT…if someone shows up…RUN, RUN RUUUUUN!”

David shouted as he ran away waving his arms in the air.

The chase was on.

The five men smelled the same enticing foods, the kind that are only available at fairs and amusement parks.

The doctor asked, “Iz zthat zsmell zsomehHow part of zthe AmbiancZe, like Zthe Zsoundz but rather, hHow you zsay,  fragrHHance yHou pump into Zthe pHarckh?”

John sounded overly proud once again as he gave his answer, “Oh, you noticed. No,no,no! Haha, it is all real and all very fresh. The popcorn machines empty the old and pour in the new. The deep fryers also run themselves. Susie is a great cook. She has fully automatic and instimatic kitchen skills.

She runs conveyor belts straight from the freezer to the ovens, microwaves, grill and deep friers.”

Mr. Wiggins said, “If you had a staff of human beings instead of living, breathing machinery, maybe this would be less taskfull and dangerous. Human error is one thing but mechanical errors are worse. Have you forgotten that there there are humans out there?”

John was insulted and almost began to defend himself but he thought better of it. He bowed his head and said,  “No, no. I haven’t forgotten. Nor have I forgotten why I’ve called you here tonight.”

He raised his head and looked them in the eyes as he pleaded,

“Will you help me put Susie, I…I mean the park, to rest?”

 “To rest? TO REST?! said Mr. Wiggins, “This thing doesn’t need rest. THIS BEAST NEEDS TO  BE  PUT  TO  DEATH!!”

All the men agreed, instantly becoming vigilantes.

James joined in,  “John, lead us to the lake of crap and let’s get THOSE BOYS out so we can get into the lungs, heart and brains of this freaking thing and strike her down!”

The others were shocked that Mr. Goldberg, the lawyer, was taking such a strong stance. However, Mr. Scalp noticed James brought up going to find the boys again, rather than going straight to a major mechanical artery to shut the whole park down.

As they began to follow John,

the doctor commented, “Man, zthe zsmell of zthat food iz mHAking me hHckungry! Iz zthe food evHen zsafve and etHable (edible)?”

~~~~~~~

As the boys were running the tingling in their lower body moved up to their chest.

They noticed it but they wrote it off as excitement as they ran free through the empty park.

The emebias inside their system moved suttle but fast though their blood streams, as if on a jet ski in a river.

Lite ambient music came on with happy sounding orchestra tunes that blended a mix of familiar action movies and children’s lullabies.

Subconsciously the boys felt like they were super heros conquering the world while simultaneously having no fear along with a strange comfort of being safe in their mother’s arms.

The other rides where all whirling around and the boy’s eyes reflected the colorful lights.

Ronnie asked David to slow down and stop so they could play some of the arcade games but David just kept running toward the closest food stand.

Unaware to Jeremy, his legs were a little swollen. Under his shirt was a raised red line. He thought he saw a thin red line on Ronnie’s back, through his ripped shirt, but figured it was just from when he scraped it in the Funhouse.

As they passed by various games one sign read, “control your friends in our Virtual Arcade…you be the hero… 3 free lives!”

 When they reached the tents offering games you play to win a prize Susie tossed a few balls at them.

Ronnie picked one up and threw it at some empty milk jugs behind the counter. He missed and heard the sound of breaking glass.

Jeremy had passed him but the natural sound of breaking something made Ron run faster.

He ran by Jeremy as he shouted, “I’M IN SECOND PLACE!”

Jeremy yelled, “RONALD VINCENT  MOORE DID THAT! HE BROKE THE WINDOW OR…WHATEVER THAT WAS HE BROKE IT NOT ME!!!” 

David reached the food truck first. Its serving counter window was low and wide enough to jump over.

He landed inside but bumped a cup dispenser machine and knocked over a few utensils.

Ronnie laughed, “Smooth DAVE!”

David acted like he was working there,

 “Ooookay, okay, step right up boys.

We got hot food heeere!

Peanuts, popcorn HERRERA!” 

He was doing an excellent impression of a stadium vendor.

“WE GOT, FRESH HOT, HOT DOGS HEAAARE!

TRY OUR CHICKEN SAMICH WITH A SIIIDE ORDA’-A-FRIES OR FRUIT…HEEEERE! 

STEP RIGHT UP, STEP RIGHT UP, whatallyahave boys, what will it be?”

 He laughed. Once the boys got closer he enticed them some more, “Come on over and join me!  Help yourself! All you can eat until you puke!”

They climbed in joining him.

 Jeremy laughed as he pulled the metal fry holder out of the boiling grease then jumped as he looked down at it.

Ronnie took a look, “AHHHGH!”,yelled Ron.

David said,  “You’re such an over reactor.” However, as he looked for himself add, “OHHHOHOHOHO GROSSES THAT IS SSSSICK!”

Ronnie jumped back over the counter to the outside. He was too afraid to look again.

David grabbed Jeremy’s hands, which were still gripping the fry cage.  “Get rid of it!”, he demanded as he forcefully flung the deep fried rat over his shoulder.

The hot grease burned both the boys a little as it sprinkled off the rat.

Ronnie ducked and saw the rat land on the ground. It bounce a time or two. “It that real?!” It was burnt black and looked like the rubber rat he had put in his sister bed, shower and once he even put it in her sandwich.

David and Jeremy yelled in pain from the oil burns.

It just sprinkled on them but the drops still hurt. Their skin was bubbling up with bright red bumps; however, they watched how it seemed to heal itself.  The marks didn’t form blisters, instead they cleared up right away.

Jeremy wondered if it was some type of new oils or grease that somehow didn’t burn human skin.

Ronnie grabbed a nearby stick and was poking the deep fried rat as he shouted, “HOW DID THAT GET  IN  THERE?!”

David couldn’t help but attack Ronnie’s stupid remark,  “Someone must have invited him, you idiot!”

Jeremy laughed and noticed he didn’t have to hide the pain he received from the splattered grease. There was no pain. He climbed over the counter.

All he could say was, “I don’t think I’m hungry anymore.”

David felt no pain either but attributed that to being an extra stong young man, even though he was only 12. “Let’s Bolt!,  He said as he jumped out of the food station.

Jeremy was the first to realize not one of them knew where the closest exit was.

He made a suggestion, “Rather than try to find the water slides again maybe we should just find the closest exit.”

Ronnie said, “Whatever, let’s just get outta here man. I’ve seen enough. I’m gonna have night terrors for sure!” 

As they began to walk in random directions, following David’s lead, they figured if they continue to walk in one direction they would be sure to find the exterior wall.

Getting over or under the barrier would be a whole other problem but at least they would find a way out and not be walking in circles.

They followed the main paved road for a while which had big arrows on it. They were even lit up.

David made the recommendation,  “Let’s just follow those arrows,  I’m sure they lead to the exit!”

~~~~~~

Mr. John Hanson lead the four men as he enlightened them, “The park is set up like a big spiral that circles around into the center.

The big bold arrows painted on the ground are lit up with the best long lasting led lights available.

They are actually pulsating ever so slightly.

 That has a subconscious effect to go in the direction they lead.

Susie, I mean, we’ve even tried pulsating them in the opposite direction of the painted arrow and had test guest say they felt a strange urge to walk backwards.

Therefore, if one follows the arrows as they are now, pulsating toward the center, it will lead them to the furthest point deep into the park, far, far from any of the exits and exterior walls.”

Dr. Hatfield asked, “HHow Lhong vwould id tHake to get vfrom zthe zcentAr to an externHal vwall iv yHou jHust vwalked in a zstraight LAHine, oVff Hov zthe pHath?”

Hanson smiled, “Oh, that is the beauty of how we  designed it…you can’t walk off the path and over the landscape.

We’ve placed invisable fencing, like people use to train their dog.”

Wiggins was still astounded, “IT GIVES THEM A ZAP?!”

Mr. Scalp asked, “Like an electric fence?!”

 “YES! Exactly but invisible!”

Dr. Hatfield said, “IncHredible.”

John replied, “Thank you.”

Hatfield clarified, “I meHant zthat sarcaHsticHally. zThat iz incHred-ibly zstupid.” 

Wiggins‘ made his point, “Yeah, you can’t keep people in line like an animal, sending even a small electrical change into their system.”

Scalp said, “I can’t imagine walking into that or if a child wandered off from their parents.”

John assured them, “Oh, there are signs!” Goldberg thought, ‘there he goes again with his, just put up a sign…it will be fine, philosophy.’

James knew that it was best to keep his condemning thoughts to himself. He couldn’t file a law suit against John but these men could.

James hoped that the three engineers would just keep following John toward the direction of where the boys were. He knew the park had to not only be put to sleep temporarily but permanently. He had been trying to convince John of this for a long time but his client seemed to just keep dangling money in front of him like a carrot in front of a horse.

John even promised to pay James a retainer fee once the park opened officially.

That extravagant  amount of money would allow Goldberg to not worry about finding any additional clients.

James was realizing now, that was like the cheese in the center of a rat maze.

He knew John was secretivly hoping the other engineers would find a way to just put Susie into a comma so he could later revive her and go on as planned.

James admitted to himself that he felt that way too but it was all out of greed.

This project had gotten way outta hand. After seeing Susie almost killed those boys, who he thought were dead, James knew, even if the park was running smooth, it was a huge liability.

As the official lawyer he would be swamped trying to defend it.

He listened to John going on and on as John promised the men, “We will provide a helicopter ride for all of you from the center to the front parking lot.

It would take approximately three hours to walk back the way we came in.”

John continued to explain as they moved closer to the lake, “You see gentlemen, when people have to walk back through the way they have already come they get distracted and keep stopping to spend more money, as well as of course, enjoy the fine deatailed features and the true beauty of…the park.”

Mr. Wiggins noted how strange it was that Hanson talked about this park as if it were his new bride.

Mr. Scalp confronted John, “You sound obsessed with it.”

John confirmed, “Yes, I must admit Mr. Scalp, I am. She is my obsession and it wouldn’t surprise me if she’s a little obsessed with me.

She may even possess some of my own deeply personal traits.”

Mr. Wiggins thought back to the nervous breakdown he witness Mr. Hanson having in the limo.

Dr. Hatfield voiced his concerns, “LHook,  I kHnow vwe hHave to get doz boyz un hHelp zthem but hHonestly vfellaz, oHnly zso mHany ov uz hare needHed to hHelp zthe boyz vwhile zthe rezt ov uz cHould be diVffuZing zthe genHeratooor vrunning zthis plHaZe!”

John agreed asking his lawyer if he would mind focusing on getting the boys and make sure they don’t leave the “Lake of Goo” area.

Mr. Scalp volunteered to go with James.

“WAIT, JOHN!”,  James Goldberg said as he grabbed John’s arm. He looked him in the eyes, man to man,  as he said, “John, it’s time. It’s time to call for help.”

The other men looked at each other shocked with the fact that the authorities were not already involved.

Dr. Hatfield said, “zTHEY DHON’T KNchOW?!”

Mr. Wiggins said, “They should have been involved long ago!”

James informed them, “The government, actually the national authorities are fully aware. I involved them once the park…”

Susie.”, John added.

James continued, “…yes, once the park started fully functioning.”

John emphasised, “Once she started to not only breath but move her appendages.”

James nodded and said, “Yes, when she, it, was able to self-sufficiently control its various sectors and…”

He searched for words.

John helped, “Able to independently  move her limbs!”

James’ facial expressions showed that he didn’t want to keep humanizing the park.

Mr. Wiggins jumped in, “So, there is a national alert to what is happening here? Right?!”

James said, “Yes. There, there is but…”

 Scalp said, “Another but?”

James showed reluctance, “I told them about our own concerns but I am not sure they took us seriously.”

John was shocked, “You told them? You told them what James?

You are my lawyer!

You weren’t suppose to tell all my secrets.”

John began to have a fit of rage rising as he began to scream,

 “WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO CONFIDENTIALITY AND THE CONFIDENCE I THOUGHT I COULD HAVE IN YOU?!”

The other men were becoming more and more afraid of John as he flared up,

I TRUSTED YOU MR. GOLDBERG!

 I TRUSTED YOU WITH MY LIFE AND WITH SUSIE’S LIFE!!” 

As John continued to grow louder and out of control Dr. Hatfield’s mind raced as he thought silently, ‘zThis vwould make for a great zSci-fi movie.’ His mind tried different working titles, ‘...zThe Bipolar Park…zSusie’s Revenge…Mood zSwing MHatinee…Mad zSuzsie, zThe Park…maybe just ‘zSUzSIE’ or…PHarkzilla…’  

Mr. Scalp got between James and John and broke it up, “But are they aware that there are children in the park unsupervised right now as you two are here arguing?”

Mr. Wiggins called them to their senses, “GENTLEMEN, ACT PROFESSIONAL!!!”

John wasn’t done by a long shot, “YEAH, BE PROFESSIONAL YOU TRAITOR!!!” 

He reached around Mr. Scalp and was able to shove James with one arm, displaying his own lack of professionalism.

Scalp tried to stand his ground between them while Hatfield went around John and struggled to hold John back.

Wiggins was on James’ side; however, he remembered they were not there to fight each other. They were there to fight this Beast of a park.

He still had a massive suspension about whether Hanson was fully on board with killing it completely or not.

Susie began to react to her creator’s anger by slamming several doors to various buildings and flashing all the lights in the park on and off.

She also increased the volume of the music to try and drowned them out, just like a teenager would do in the privacy of their own room when her parents fight, shout and argue back and forth.

John tried to calm down as he said, “Okay, okay…”

He shook Dr. Hatfield off his back.

Mr. Scalp remained in between him and James.

John still spoke sharply at James but stopped screaming at him, “Fine…fine.  You call them, James! You probably have their number on speed dial!” He spit on the ground still brewing. 

John turned and walked away as he led Dr. Hatfield and Mr. Wiggins toward Susie’s brains.

None of them,  even John himself, were sure what they could do to stop the mayhem.

~~~~~~~

As the boys followed the arrows they went by several attractions they hated to pass up.

The lights were not only flashing on and off on everything but the music provided a fast hypnotic beat that peaked their interests to try something different and daring.

David had to shout to be heard,  “MAN RONNIE, LOOK AT  THAT PAINTING ON THE SIDE OF THE FREAK SHOW BUILDING!

DID YOUR MOM POSE FOR THAT BEARDED LADY?!”

Jeremy was afraid they’d want to go in.

Ron’s response was, “HAHA DAVE, VERY FUNNY!

WANT TO GO IN?!

Jeremy distracted them by pointing up ahead about fifty yards,  “LOOK UP THERE DAVE! CHECKIT OUT… A HELICOPTER!!”

The diversion worked.

David shouted, “I’VE ALWAYS WANTED  TO FLY  ONE  OF  THOSE THINGS!”, as he jumped forward bound into a sprint.

Ronnie gave chase as he claimed yet again, “I’m taking second place.”

Jeremy found himself yelling, “I CALL SHOT GUN!” He collected his rational thought process and called out, “WAIT UP GUYS, THIS AIN’T  NO VIDEO  GAME! THIS IS  REAL LIFE!!”

His friends got there before him and they had already climbed in.  They were catching their breath after the fifty yard dash and began flipping switches.

 Jeremy tried to reason with them, “YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO FLY A REALLY REAL HELICOPTER!!!”

Ronnie shouted, “COME ON JER. GET IN!”

Jeremy jumped in the back, still trying to talk sense into them, “GUYS, DOGS, I HONESTLY DON’T THINK  WE SHOULD…”

David exclaimed,  “SHUT UP JEREMY, YOU…”

Ron joined him on the last descriptive word, PUPPY!!!”

While David tried to start the chopper they heard an engine cutting through the air above them.

It chopped out the sound of the music.

Jeremy was sure his friend had somehow started the helicopter blades…

… BADADADADA…(the sound of helicopter blades).

The trees around them were swaying.

Susie shut all her lights off and stopped her music as if to hide, throwing everything into complete darkness.

That’s when they saw the powerful floodlights coming from the sky.

David blamed Ron, “What did you touch Ronnie?!” Ron casted the blame, “Jeremy what did you do?!” 

That’s when they realized  that it wasn’t their vehicle at all but another helicopter overhead.  The boys stuck their heads out the sides of the chopper and saw several huge army helicopters dropping large boxes with parachutes connected to them.

Jeremy whispered, “Someone contacted the authorities.”

~~~~~~~

Mr. Wiggins was relieved so see someone contacted the authorities and the officials were coming in and hovering over several points of the park.

 John mumbled, “Ogh, crap.”

Dr. Hatfield pointed out, “LHook, Zthey aHre drHopping crHatez!”

Mr. Wiggins asked, “Why won’t they land?”

 John smiled as he spoke, “We already have the helicopter landing pad full.” John was still holding onto hope that they’d leave his baby alone.

Mr. Wiggins was wishing they’d propel men, armed with machine guns, down to enforce justice.

Dr. Hatfield asked, “zShould vwe prHone oHut on zthe grHound, zshowing zthem oHur hHAandz?”

John just stood there watching the crates fall.

 Mr. Scalp was drilling James with questions as they entered into the stadium seating area for the “Lake Of Goo.”

James explained, “Those cartons they are dropping…they are filled with an extremely large and extremely deadly medication. We’ll stop this mother.”

He reached for his cell phone and dialed John as he finished telling  Mr. Scalp how John had told him what drugs slowed Susie down. “In large enough doses it will kill her.”

Mr. Scalp said, “Too much of anything will kill ya! That’s at least true with humans. I hope it applies to this machine.”

Mr. Goldberg held up his hand as John answered. “Johh, it is James.”

John handed the phone to Hatfield. “HHAello?”, the doctor said.

 James asked for John.

“No, ah JohHAn iz… aHctually vwaHAlkingz avway. Zthiz iZ DHOC-KTAR HhhAtFieldz HheRe”

Mr. Goldberg clued Dr. Hatfield in, “Listen, John has been wanting to just find the right balance of chemicals to make the park run evenly and flow smoothly as it should. Each of those trunks has a serum in it to not just slow her down but take away her ability to function all together.

We have to inject that into Susie.”

Mr. Wiggins was trying to listen in as John walked further and further away from them.

Dr. Hatfield said, “I Hamm no dHoctor of mediZcine bud, iv I  HunderZstand zthe vway JohHn crHHeated zthis pHark, vwe may mozsd LHikely ve Hable to injHect id inHto hany ov zthe cHables, zthe veinzs, LHike zthe vone behHind zthe vFunhHouse vwe zsaw, Hand id Vwill trHavel zthrough zthe, or hHer, whHole zsyzstHem.”

Wiggins was leaping for joy. James heard him shouting in the background, “YES! YES, I AM SURE THAT WILL WORK!”

The search lights over their heads were still there but were flushed out as Susie turned all of her lights on again.

The soldiers above the park heard a low frequency beginning to reverberate and gain intensity.

The Colonel on board one of the helicopters spoke into his mouthpiece, “It sounds like she’s rebooting! This thing is for real.” He wanted to tell his commander I told ya so but knew better.

“We are going to retreat now just in case there is an explosion General…That’s affirmative… No, negative…we will get a safe distance away for the whole team…                10-40…roger, over and out.”

As they pulled away the Colonel gave all his men the orders, “I want all choppers out at least one mile from the site.

 She’s a big mother and there maybe several explosions.

We just don’t know exactly what we are dealing with here!”

The Armed forces rush off.

 James was still on the phone with Dr. Hatfield. Mr. Wiggins told Hatfield to ask what they might expect to happen when they executed the park.

Dr. Hatfield ask then relayed the message,  “HE HAzS NOoo hIDEA! HhE TOLD MA TO zTHINK OV zTHE PhARK AZ…HhUMAaN…vWAIT,…MAAAYBE… oHckay vwe’ll cHall bHack.” He hung up.

Wiggins asked, “Maybe what? Don’t tell me that he has another big but!” 

Hatfield smiled at that expression, “No, bHut..haahaa…” Wiggins appreciated his new friend’s attempt to lighten up the mood with a little humor  then asked, “Seriously, But what?”

Hatfield said, “zShe may hHave zsome…zseizure az a reHacZtionz tHo zthe…antHAidotez.”

By this time Mr. John Hanson was far away from the other men.

It appeared to them that he had just wandered off aimlessly to try to avoid the whole situation.

As John walked he spoke softy to Susie,

“They understand how machinery works.

They comprehend how the human body works, but…

even the best psychological and psychiatric scholars in this world don’t fully understand the mind

and the relation between the brain’s chemical compound and what it can cause the body to do.

Susie, you don’t need some type of psychotherapy.

Our relationship on this planet is all you need.

It is all need.

I’ll save you.

No one is going to destroy what we’ve made, together.

We will survive, my love.”

As John approached one of the artificial mountains the water slides were built into. The side of the mountain moved, revealing a spiral staircase leading downward.

 John entered.

As he descended he continued to speak,

“Susie, you are all I need.

I am all you need.”

As he followed the stairs, going below the outer surface, he repeated the mantra over and over again,

“We will survive, my love. We will survive, my love. We will survive, my love.”

His voice was almost mechanical.

~~~~~~~

Dr. Hatfield and Mr. Wiggins ran toward one of the crates that were dropped.

Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Scalp made a mad dash toward one that landed near them.

Both pairs of gentlemen opened up the large containers.

Every crate had the same exact instructions in them, accompanied with a command letter addressed to, Mr. John T. Hanson.

The letter read,

_______________________________________

“Attention Mr. Hanson,  we are now taking complete control and termination of your amusement park. The surgical needles enclosed are to be forced into every mainframe or generating source of energy that allows your Park to currently function.  These lethal injections are to be given upon immediate receival or you will be held in contempt of a direct command from the ATF as well as the APC…”

_______________________________________

 Wiggens asked Hatfield, “What is the APC?” The doctor replied, “HHow vwould hi kHnovw? I havfe my PHD in engHAinHeerHing, nozthing elzse.”

Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Scalp stopped reading the same part of the letter for James to explain, “APC, that stands for the Association of Psychiatric Care”

Scalp said, “So We don’t need John’s help, permission or approval?”

James asked Mr. Scalp to read  further.

James was accepting the fate that although Susie was John’s  beloved creation this had to stop.

The ending of the letter was probably the most important, as well as, meaningful part.

All four of them were reading in unison at different ends of the park,

_______________________________________

 “…Although your Park is run in the same way the human body functions we are still considering that it is still a machine.  

If it were human we could and would provide medication that would balance out the Manic and/or the Depressive characteristics; however, your Park is not human and will not be not be treated humanely.

You and your colleagues will be held liable for any damages caused by your park.

You are now hereby notified and ordered to use the medication enclosed to terminate thus mentioned enterprises.

Please call the number below upon completion of said orders.

If you do not comply we will take more evasive actions.”

Signed,

General Sarah Bellum

1-968-273-7425

_______________________________________

Dr. Hatfield laughed as he noted, “vWhen I vwas a kid I uHUzse to vwrite Hon bazthroom zstallZs…”

Mr. Wiggins thought, ‘What has that got to do with anything. Has my friend here lost his mind too?’ 

Hatfield said, “I vwrote that zsame zthHing! I muzst hHAave vwritten id a zthousand tHimez betvween zthe agHeZs ofv eHight un nHine.”

Mr. Wiggins was genuinely conserned, “You wrote this letter on the stalls in bathrooms?”

Dr. Hatfield laughed even more as he explained, “Oh, haaHA, NOho, NOho, not zthe lettHer.

 I vwrote zthat phHone nHumber.

ZThose nHumberz zspell oHut YhOU-AHARE-ZSICK.

Wiggins was relieved then said, “Let’s get to work.”

Mr. Scalp was getting to work too.

Goldberg grabbed his phone to call the number.

Scalp said, “Help me James!”

“I will but let me call the general to let her know that we are doing it.”

 Scalp said, “WE WILL CALL AFTER WE DO IT. COME ON!!” The phone rang while still in his hand.

It was Dr. Hatfield, “JameZ, yHou got zthe crHAates opHAen un zthe zsuppliezs oHuDt?”

 James answered, “YES!”, then asked, “Can we inject this into any cable?”

Dr. Hatfield replied, “I Ham un enginHeer nHot a dHoctHair, Jamez!”

 Wiggins shouted, “LET’S JUST DO IT!”

 Hatfield asked James again, “Do yHou knHow vwhere Hany majHor…arHteriezs Hare? Be hHonezst.”

James said, “I have no idea!”

Having overheard Mr. Wiggins, Scalp yelled in the background,

“IT SHOULD TRAVEL JUST FINE THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE SYSTEM IF WE INTRODUCE IT ANYWHERE.

THE MAINFRAME OR MOTHER BOARD OR… THE HEART WOULD BE IDEAL BUT, JUST LIKE A COMPUTER, IF WE GIVE IT THIS SERUM LIKE A VIRTUAL VIRUS IT HAS GOT TO EVENTUALLY MUCK EVERYTHING UP.”

Dr. Hatfield heard Mr. Scalp and expressed his concerns, “I aHgree, hHAowevAIRr, Vwe don’t Vwant ZthingZ to gHet vworsze.

VWe cHould end op vwith Un explHoZsion ov zsome zsortz oun ZsHhe may perHvform even mHore irHate or errHatic.”

Wiggins put his two cents in, “If we don’t do something the military will probably drop some bombs. Either way, things may be explosive.”

James suggested, “We will find a cable and inject what they sent.

You do the same.

Then I will call the number and let them know and we’ll figure out what to do next.”

Hatfield agreed, “GHood. Call uz bHack un Vwhat to dHo nHext.”

They both ended the call.

None of the men had any idea what had happened to the boys. They were so focused on administering the shots in hopes that it would cause Susie to at least fall off into an unworkable sleep, or better yet die, that they all but forgot about the children.

~~~~~~~

The boys had tried to run into the bushes, off the paved trail to hide from the authorities.

Jeremy had hoped they would be rescued but not arrested.  “We are so dead!”, said Jeremy.

“Why the Army?”, asked Ronnie.

David rolled his eyes, like any of them would have the answer to that. He said, “Probably because your mom is so worried about you she called all the guys that she’s dated  haha!

Don’t worry Ronnie,  she’ll find you daddy!”

Ronnie inched back further from the path and deeper into bushes, “OW! Something bit me!”

“Shhh. Stop it you guys. This is serious.”

Ronnie kept checking his back, “It was like I just got shocked.”

David said, “I’m shocked you’re not crying!”

Jeremy brought up, “I wonder what’s in those crates that were dropped?”

~~~~~~~

Mr. Scalp and the lawyer we’re at their end of the park, next to the “Lake Of Goo” while Dr. Hatfield and Mr. Wiggins were at the other end near a small train depot.

Wiggins already had one of the massive syringes unpack. “They are really heavy!” He told Hatfield.

Hatfield asked, “Did yHou zsee vwhere vwe Hare mizter vWigginZs?”

Wiggins turned to read the sign, “TRAIN OF THOUGHT, perfect.”

Hatfield was about to screw the five foot needle onto the six foot capsule his partner was holding when a flood of foul smelling liquid came rushing down the path way.

The men ran into the depot and jumped on the train to escape the flood.

Wiggins cried, “AHHHGHOG! THE LAKE OF GOO MUST BE OVERFLOWING!” The nasty smelling fluid flowed past them.

The train began to move.

Dr. Hatfield jumped off with the sharp needle in his hands yelling, ” JaHUMP OvFF! JaHUMP OvFF!!”

Wiggins had set the heavy cylinder down. He reached for it but it had rolled off the bench and under the train’s seats.

The train was quickly picking up speed.

In a panic he leaped off. The phone rang again. Wiggins expressed his frustration, “Agh, ya better get that! Maybe they already used their’s.”

James shouted into the phone, “WE JUST USED  ONE OF OURS BUT…But”

Hatfield took a deep breath, “BhUT vWHAT JhAMEz?!”

 James continued, “…But Susie’s reaction was violent. I think she…threw up. But it’s okay, that must mean it does effect her system.

Also, it’s all going to be O.K…. I just recalled John telling me that one of the ways to get to her heart, brain and lungs is by taking ‘The Train of Thought!’

 I’m not really sure what station you’d get off at but if you can find the depot and get on that train…”

Hatfield stopped Goldberg right there, “zThe trHain haz alrHeady lefVt zthe zstaZtion!

 Ann tHoo top hitd oVff id haz zthe tHop pHart oVf  zthe zsyrHinge cHontainHing zthe medz.

I Ham hHoldingz juzt zthe nHeedle.”

Goldberg paused, “Wait…that’s okay. It’s going to be alright.

 There are more capsules in the crates but only one needle. Listen…”

James gathered himself and gave further instructions while his partner, Mr. Scalp,  was attaching their own needle to another cylinder,

“Look in the crate, under the foam packing peanuts.

You and Wiggins attached the needle to the end of all 6, well now 5 syringes, one at a time.

There at the station you will find large cords, big thick cables, maybe even something that resembles a circuit box.

Inject each syringe into a different place.

When we stuck our into a pipe here it looked like it could swell to the point of bursting.

We want Susie to ingest not reject this medication.

Make sure you don’t blow the vein!”

Wiggins demanded, “OKAY, OKAY! PUT DOWN THE PHONE AND COME ON!” He raced back to the crate.

Hatfield said, “vWe’re Hon it.

YHou call zthe YhOU-AhaRE-zSICK nHumber un tell BellHum zthat it’z bHEeing dHone zo zthey dHon’t bomb zthe entHire arHea!”

 He hung up & waited for Wiggins to return.

James had no idea why the doctor called it the ‘you-are-sick number’ but as he dialed he noticed the letters matching up. “Oh, I get it.”, he was amused.

Dr. Hatfield held the huge surgical needle while Mr. Wiggins turned and tightened the syringe containing the prescribed drug.

 By this time James finished his call with General Sarah Bellum he saw Mr. Scalp struggling to lift the antidote by himself.

With the needle attached it was twice as tall as him.

They sank the sharp end into what looked more like an air vent than a cable.

As they pushed the top the ground shook like an earthquake. It was Susie gasping for air.

The other two men stabilized themselves as they pulled their,

now empty,

 shot out of the pipeline leading to underneath the railroad track.

The roof to the main depot collapsed while the rails began to flex.

Susie was having a mechanical seizure.

There was a loud explosion in the distance as the train derailed.

Susie was becoming more and more deranged as the explosion caused the hyperdermic container left on the train to shatter, releasing the chemicals.

They slowly seeped into her soil.

All four men went to each freight box they could find to finalize the treatment.

They wanted to use every last drop.

There was no such thing as too much.

 They were on a mission to deliver a full overdose to this mad machinery.

They were not just going in for the kill but GOING FOR OVERKILL.

They were determined to shoot it up until the soft brain tissue was flooded and irrepairable.

James watch and listened, along with those who were helping stop this Bride of Frankenstein, as Susie seemed to power down in a slow whirl.

They heard a gear grinding sound, “Ieeeeeammmmsooooorrryyyyy.”

James wondered where John was at that very moment.

The minds of the other three thought of him too, wanting to know where he had wandered off.

Finally everything came to a sudden death halt.

The men stood in the darkness as everything faded to black.

~~~~~~~~~~

Ronnie flipped on his little flashlight.

The boys heard nothing.

The Army had long retreating and they couldn’t even hear choppers in the distance.

Jeremy said, “Obviously the coast is clear.”

David suggested, “Let’s make a break for it.”

 Ronnie’s eyes caught something in the distance that the other boys had not yet seen.

He pointed with the weak beam of light. “Look!”

Towering up from the ground, far above everything else in the park, were the waterslide.

Jeremy exclaimed with excitement, “That’s close to where we came in.”

David smerked, “I bet the water finished flushing the tubes cleared.

Now the slides are either freed from all particles or still flowing with water.”

Ronnie nudged his two friends and smiled, “Either way,  I’m going first this time!”

Little did anyone know that under the park a new mechanical heart beat was still beating.

…….To be continued….maaaaybe………..

THE…END

Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

🎬🎬🎬🎬🎬EXTRAS🎬🎬🎬🎬🎬

To hear this story read go to YouTube playlist of stories being read: My stories: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnjQOVtw61eiFv27rv2rhA3-8U8EyDXya

My mother taught me that every good short story leaves unanswered questions and causes you to want to explore things further. So, here are some post questions  to stimulate and promote theories-

  •  Is Susie’s heart still beating? Is she still alive?
  • Is there a baby machine below in Susie’s Underground?
  • What is the new mechanical heart beat that is still beating?
  • Will that grow into another Monster Park?
  • Is John human or an Android himself?
  • Is John controlling the park or the park controlling John?
  • Are they connected, linked, synced or bonded together at all in some way?
  • Where did John go?
  • Was the government actually the creator of John and/or the park (a military experiment gone wrong)?
  • Does  James know the truth?
  • Do the boys realize that the park, Susie, is actually alive or do they just think what they encountered is all accomplished by high tech machinery?
  • Is there still something from “The Lake of Goo” still in the boy’s systems, intelligent molecules at work?
  • Is John and or Suzy an alien from another planet?
  • Will the military return and find the boys on the water slides?
  •  Will the men discover the boys?
  • Will the boys eventually get out?
  • Will the men make it out of the park?

Add your answer, questions and comments below.

“vWhere zthere iz a vwill zthere iz a vway!”

For another one of my own personal  favorite original stories,  “Fair Science” – about a funny, crazy but brilliant scientist who invites three children into his mansion and his mind- go to the Online publication of “Fair Science”: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/2017/06/23/the-story-fair-science/

That can also be heard on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnjQOVtw61eiFv27rv2rhA3-8U8EyDXya

For a list of other stories go to: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/stories-poems-and-art/

Thanks for reading, Beetle

This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.

THE STORY, “FAIR SCIENCE”

For a little background on this story go: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/fair-science-story-why-i-wrote-it-audio-recording-of-it/

To hear the story read go to 👉 Fair Science the recording 👈https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnjQOVtw61eiFv27rv2rhA3-8U8EyDXya

I am having this story edited one more time but went ahead & published it here on my blog.

This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.

This is the story of a funny, crazy but brilliant scientist who invites three children into his mansion and his mind.

“FAIR SCIENCE”

CHAPTER 1

 “BUSINESS OF THE DAY”

Dr. Raymond Rooosha sat down at his little TV tray next to an enormous dining room table.  He took the first sip of his first cup of coffee for the day. He called it his “inspiration juice”.  It was so hot and bitter that he could only drink it in small sips trying to cool it with his lips before entering his mouth entirely.  With each small taste he let out a, “Aahh”, partially  because it was burning his tongue and partly because he truly loved the taste.

Before him were three file folders. He rubbed the sand from his eyes and wiped it on his pajama pants then drove his fingers through his wildly out-of-control hair. Finally he yawned louder than loud. His kitchen staff heard  him and smiles were exchanged as the head chef said, “And now the start of yet another…exciting day.”

The doctor’s outward expression was just a little louder today then other days. The maid upstairs making his bed and preparing the bathrooms was not used to hearing such a roar and wondered if everything was okay.  Mr. Miff, the head Butler, was standing at the bottom of the spiral staircase and he looked up through the center making eye contact with the maid assuring her that all is well.
Dr. Rooosha was the most well-known scientists in the history of the world he was also known as the strangest scientist in world history.  He was completely Bonkers! Sure he was brilliant, original, innovative and a genius but he was totally off his rocker, unpredictable and even unbearably manic at times.

His business of the day he was to review the 3 files that were set before him. The first file he opened and jump back repulsively as he expressed,  “EEESH!” He looked at the photo of a little girl, pigtails, braces and dressed in a typical school uniform. He closed his eyes, reach for his coffee and took another sip, this time he tasted the BITTERNESS a little bit more than at first. He rubbed his eyes again before returning to the files.  He read the description she and her parents submitted describing their charming little girl it read, “Susan Climate is a young lady who knows what she wants and knows how to get it.  She has excelled in everything she puts her mind to.   She is exceptionally intelligent beyond her years.” Dr. Rooosha rolled his eyes and then continued reading,   “She’s won first place 13 times at the state science fair and Achieve 32 trophies for excellence in inventing. She is very active in recreational and constructive extra-curricular after school activities.”  Dr. Roosha spouted, “BAHHH!”, followed by, “Yay, yay for her! She’s a jolly good fellow!!! Everyone give three cheers for Susie!!!” He then quickly flipped the next page. There he read what his hired staff wrote about the young girl when they met with her in person. It read, “This is a weird one!” Before reading any further Dr. Rooosha took another sip of the coffee, turn to his left and spoke as if someone was there. Mr. Miff was use to this by now. The first time Mr. Miff experienced it he actually started to respond but then quickly realize the good doctor was just thinking out loud. Dr. Rooosha  spoke to his invisable friend, “Exceptional, except…tional hmmm.” The word channel came to his mind and his thought process deviated slightly to having a t.v. that received every channel except the channel this child was broadcasting. He said out loud, “Except channel…accept channel…hmmmmm.” He took another slightly larger sip of his inspiration juice then continued.  “I’m not sure what that means Mister Miff, Mr. Miff? His head Butler snapped out of his normal meditation he did while his master carried on with his normal routine and antidotes. Miff answered, not really sure what was being asked, “Ah, what’s that sire?” “Do you know what that means Mr. Miff?”  Mr. Miff cleared his throat and stammered, “Oh no, ah no sire, I can’t say that I do.” Dr. Rooosha inhale deeply then push the air out through puffed cheeks.  “Well.”, he continued, “I  guess we’ll find out…hmmm exceptionally intelligent beyond her years.”  He stood to his feet, approach the floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the mountains and valleys surrounding his home. He pressed his nose and forehead against the glass. His words fogged up the window pane as he went on recanting what he read, “State fairs, recreational constructive extracurricular after school activities. A bit over the edge mom and dad.” Then he completed the thought with a sigh proclaiming his discouragement, “Oh well Mr. Miff, WE will see, we WIll see, we will SEE?” Mr. Miff just nodded and said, “Just as you say sire.’ The doctor sat back down, pulling up his chair little closer to the TV tray. “Would you like more coffee sire?” His servant asked, trying to bring some comfort both to himself and to his employer. “Nah, I must press on Miff, thank you.”  What his staff wrote about Susan climate was a whole lot more accurate and realistic than anything already scripted by Susie’s mom and dad since I have not had the… pleasure of meeting Susie I don’t know what she is really, really like now do I?” Mr. Miff was not sure if he should answer or not. Just then Dr. Rooosha clarified things by point-blank saying, “Don’t worry Mr. Miff  I’m just thinking, thinking out LOUD.” He shouted the last word of his sentence but the whole house knew that was all part of their bosses verbally animated character. The staff didn’t fear their employer they just highly respected him and they didn’t want to get in the way. They were there to help not hinder.  There were times when they swore there was somebody in the house visiting then came to realize that it was just the doctor doing various voices and impressions.  Reading further, what his staff wrote, “She’s is a real doozie.” He leaped to his feet and shoured, “Doozie Susie, we got a live one here folks!” He sat back down in a jerk and read more, “This little girl thinks that she is the smartest person on the planet and has the attitude to prove it. She is more of a smarty pants than intellectually sound. We think that she may just be a little snot-nosed child, maybe not a true scientist.” Dr. Rooosha inhale deeply again,  “Now that is what I want to hear!” A smile slowly appeared across his long thin face, “Now I can have more coffee please my dear Mr. Miff.” No exception needed to be summoned. The kitchen personnel were waiting at the door for the request. They knew the routine, although sometimes unpredictable. A friendly will groomed young lady came out with a scolding hot pot of coffee.  She smiled as she poured a little more coffee added to what was already there. The doctor looked up and with sincere gratitude said, “Thank you, Jill. I truly don’t know, I can’t fathom what I would do without you.” Then he raised his voice almost scaring the young lady,  “Any of you and all of you I appreciate every single one of you! She just gave a little curtsy bow and backed out of the room into the kitchen where she knew she would feel a little more sane.

“Shhhh, enough.” whisper Dr. Rooosha. He rubbed his eyes again and stood to his feet stretching his arms out into the air above and around his body while extending his butt out and up, his voice bursting out moans of pleasure, “OHHHHH YEAHYAY, yeah okay ready for some more.”, he said as he sat right back down. The kitchen staff almost entered to bring him more coffee but realized once again he was just speaking to himself about what he was going to do next. Although Dr. Rooosha was eccentric he was still loved by his staff, not to mention he paid them much more then they would make doing something else. “Now, wow!”, Dr. Rooosha exclaimed as he closed Susan’s file and slid it to the side almost pushing it off the table completely. Then, in one fast flinch, he shoved the file he had finished off the TV tray and into the air. He turned and watched with the way the pages glided through the air and settled to the ground.  “Hmmm… I wonder if Susie can fly like that?”

His focus went back to the next file. “Next!!!”, he shouted. The very next file folder he slid in front of him he lifted to his nose to smell.  “Humph electrical.” He then placed it back down and opened it. He studied the photograph he saw before him. He thought how familiar this kid looked. “Miff I can’t put my finger on it but I think I’ve seen this face before… Miff? The butler assured him,  “Yes I am here sire.” “Okay, okay, I’m just checking. You know how I hate to be left alone.” Mr. Miff smiled and said once again, “Yes sire.”, and gave a little smirk. Dr. Rooosha looked over his shoulder at Mr. Miff and smirked back then went on to read. “This is Philip Ross. He is better known as Phil ‘filament’ for having invented a new type of light bulb filament. Phil likes to ride horses, play polo and take long walks in the woods.” Dr. Rooosha couldn’t contain himself and busted out in wild uncontrollable laughter. In between breaths he managed to the a few words out, “Whee, he,  wow…thee, he, this kid is is known for ha, ha horse playing.” He looked over his shoulder at his Butler, still standing there, almost at attention and said, “caha, come on now, mehe meester MiHiff, UT hum, get your composure back this is shherious shhhtuff. Really, it’s, ut hum.” The Dr. tried to compose himself but still couldn’t finish speaking with a straight face, “Thiiis is, ut hum, beeeyyyond the shadow of a… doubt, ut hmmm, the most shhherious shhhtuff you’ll ever, ever, ever, ever EVER, do… okay, maybe not that shhherious UT humm, whooo. I think I need more coffee please.” As the nice young lady entered again he broke out into his own original mocking of a hip hop song,  “Pretty, pretty please, with sugar on top top top.” Steam Rose from the coffee that was pour it into his barely empty cup.  After thanking his staff member again he sang one more line, “Gonna sing it wrong and then stop, stop, stop.” He froze his dancing mimic then went to the back to the business at hand.  “What i am reading here is more like something you’d print in the news paper looking for a date. Did this kid cut and paste his MySpace profile?” As he turned to read the next page he noticed it was not his staff’s comments, rather it was the last part of what this little Mr. Philip, ‘Phil Filament Ross’, had to say about himself. It read, in bold large print as if one could not see it well enough in small print, “MY NAME AND ACTIONS SPEAK  FOR  THEMSELVES.”  Dr. Rooosha turn the page looking for something more than said with a chuckle, “Well, well, that is a deep deep well. There’s nothing like a little confidence.” He then found the page written by his staff who had the elite privilege of meeting Mr. Phil Filament Ross. He read their notes it out loud, “This boy looks above your head when speaking to you. When asked about his scientific abilities he just kept referring to his sole invention, or as he said, ‘creation’, the new filament that will allow light bulbs to last forever. Other than that he just wanted to show us pictures he brought with him of him, his horses and him riding his horses.”  Dr. Rooosha stood up for another stretch, not expressing himself out loud this time he thought, “I wonder if this ‘Fill-o-mint’ will arrive on one of his horses? That would be cool, maybe a Mustang.”  Dr. Rooosha step away from the t.v. tray and walked around his 20-foot oval dining room table. He made a few laps one way and then a few more backwards as if he was retracing his steps in the snow. He returned to the tiny t.v. tray and sat down, trying to make himself more comfortable in his little wooden chair.  Closing Philip’s file there was one more file left.  Dr. Rooosha was hoping that this was the one he had been waiting for.

His staff where instructed to find two children who thought they were some scientific genius and gloated in some scientific success and then find one child who had scientific talent but was humble and possessed a rich desire to learn everything Dr. Rooosha had to offer.

Dr. Rooosha put his index finger on the next file.  He slowly moved it over, shoving the previous one off the edge and onto the floor. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes and open the file. When he looked down he saw what appeared to be the most innocent, meek and timid boy he had ever seen. “Looks can be deceiving.”, he said, not sure if there was a child alive today who had what all good scientists must embody. “Okay, let’s see what you got!” He continued to survey the file. He read silently then he stood up, walked toward the window and began to read the last few sentences out loud, “Benny’s dream is to discover not how to invent something new or create something from an original idea but to take what Heroes of our past have started, as well as what nature itself tells us, and continue with those efforts. We should use that knowledge until all resources have been explored, leaving behind challenges and opportunities for success. This will increase growth for generations to come.  Dr. Rooosha stopped just before walking face-first into the glass window. As he peered over the top of the folder he raised his voice just above a whisper and said, “We evolved, we progress, we succeed, we build, we extend, we embellish, we embrace a belief that there is such a thing as too fast too many and too much.” Then as he slid open the large glass door. He felt the freezing cold wind cut through his thin pajamas and touch his skin. He yelled outside at the top of his burning lungs, “Why, why do we keep coming up with more and more and more stuff that we don’t need?! It’s time to let science step up and be allowed to work while the scientists step back!  He repeated himself yelling into the brisk air hearing his voice echoing off the mountains, “IT IS  TIME to let science work while scientists stop working!!! SCIENCE STAND UP! ! ! SCIENTISTS SIT DOWN ! ! ! YOU HEAR ME WORLD?!  PEOPLE OF THE WORLD?!” His last word echoed back, “DO YOU HEAR ME, me, me??!! Dr. Rooosha came back in and had trouble closing the heavy door. The wind force made things even more difficult.  Mr. Miff never saw the doctor so direct and upset about anything. He was not sure if he understood what was said by his boss but he could tell he was passionate about it. The Dr. went straight upstairs as he asked Mr. Miff to please pick the files up off the floor, tidy up anything else and to let him know when the children arrived.

CHAPTER 2

“OPENING UP”

A few hours went by. A few months prior to all this Dr. Rooosha had covered every square inch of his mansion, making sure everything was in place for the new young scientists to explore. The doorbell rang and bounced off the marble floor and smooth stone walls. Mr. Miff move toward the door. Unexpectedly Dr. Rooosha came rushing down the banister, ran up and slid in front of his Butler before the door was opened. “Please, allow me this time Mr. Miff.” His head Butler stepped back and nodded Dr. Rooosha took a deep breath and let it out slow. He then turn the cold silver knob and open the oversize door. The three children he read about where now standing in front of him. Behind them he heard the snapshots of the cameras, the calls and shouts from the Press. He looked down at the three children standing there and said,”Welcome, welcome. I’m so glad you’ve arrived. Will you please excuse me just one moment, please, there is one matter I must take care of before you come in. The children stood at attention staring up at him. As he stepped around them they continued to stand staring at the big door huge door. He then spoke loud enough for the press to hear him,

“People, people, so many of you, some of you irate, thank you for staying outside of the gate…                                  I know it’s hard to be held at Bay but I can assure you that at the end of the day…we will conclude our time together I will come out there, we all will, no matter what the weather… I will fill you in on this wonderful time spent we will meet you in the media tent. Thank you!”

What he shouted almost came across poetic. The world had its attention on what was taking place,  not just because Dr. Rooosha was always a character of interest, intrigued and intelligent but because this was the first time he opened up his mansion and his mind. Many journalist and popular well known celebrity interviewers tried to setup entrances  but these three students that were hand-selected and given the privilege and opportunity. They were becoming known worldwide for their break through in science. Some newspapers labeled them as, “The Next Dr. Rooosha.” Millions of people follow their progress on various social media sites, as well as in the newspapers, on the radio, t.v,  and talk shows. Their stories, their lives were broadcasted for the world to see. Because of this people were not only aware of their professional achievements but also knew personal details like what’s their favourite flavor of ice cream. Having addressed the public the doctor turned around and ushered the three guests in from behind, almost like a sheepdog herds a flock of sheep.

Once inside he closed the door behind him and moved around in front of them. He noted that their attention was fixated on the appearance of the mansion. Mouths’ wide open and eyes about to pop, they kept looking up and all around trying to take in its size majesty and pure beauty. “It is nice isn’t it?”, Doctor Rooosha asked. The kids were speechless. Susan Climate was the first to look closely at Dr. Rooosha. She was taken back realizing he was still in his pajamas and to top it off they were kind with the feet built in. She blurted out,  “Why are you in your p.j.s?! He simply answered,  “So that if I fall asleep while working on something I’m dressed to rest!” When the doctor turn to lead them into the house they all chuckled a little and exchanged looks noticing that there was a flap in the back, held shut with buttons. This was just like the old long johns underwear that could be opened in the rear so you could use the toilet without taking off your clothes completely.  He expected that reaction and kindly said,  “When you’re done chuckling about what I’m wearing on the outside of my body I will escort you on a tour and share with you the things inside my brain. You see children, this is not just a tour of my Mansion. It’s a tour of my mind.”  The children were captivated by the animated expressions on his face.

CHAPTER 3

“REASON AND RATIONAL”

“I have invited you here because I have read and heard that each of you have captured the attention of the world with your scientific abilities. When I was young I had no one mentoring me. My purpose and goal in meeting with you today is to get to know you for who you really are. Also, for you to get to know me, who i am and for us to come together and consider our role in science. I’m going to show, ask and tell, no, no, no, tell, show and ass…no, wait a tick,  actually ask first, yeah, then show and then tell…” He looked up as if searching his own mind for order then completed his sentence,  “…Many wonderful and totally mind blowing,  amaaazing, emphasis on the zing part, things. Do you like a good maze? I do hope you will be amused and amazed. ”   Then he said in a sing-song manner, “First, first, first things first,  ask the class. Pop goes the Weisel cause the Weisel goes pop Quiz! Yep,  that is  it, a pop quiz! Poppity pop pop pop quiz.” He stopped and looked at the three young people and ask, “Do you like my singing? I know you like my P.J.s.” He received no response or reaction, just blank stares.  So he went on,  ” I have here a jar of water, not acid, not juice, not urine, not even eyeball fluid but a jar of ordinary H2O…water. Now, as I shake it look, water is coming out. The floor is getting wet! Someone may fall! Somebody could fall on purpose and try to sue me!  Look at it as I’m shaking it.  If I keep this up there won’t be anything left in the jar unless I refill it and do it again!!!” He froze, then spoke with his lips stuck together. His words came out funny but they could understand what he was saying they just didn’t know why he was saying it that way. He strained his words through his sealed lips and gritted teeth, “Now, you tee trillin ah not sure why I woo refill ot an do it again dut…”  He then unfroze and snapped out of it, speaking clearly again he exaggerated his words, “Ooookay now, here is… the… pop… quizzz. I’m going to assign you to a grade level according to your answer. Question number one Benny, why did the water come out of the jar?” Benny was nervous and didn’t expect to be called on the spot but he was able to say with some assurance and Logic, “The lid was not put on right?” The doctor said with great enthusiasm, “YyyyNO!  That’s  not the answer I was looking for,  second grade! Sorry. Number two Phillip, or Phil, the same question.”  Phil was a little on edge also but answered, “cuz you shook it too hard sir?” The doctor smiled and started to nod his head yes then shouted, “KINDERGARTEN! I still have not heard the bottom line, the exact and obvious reason. NOW, you, young lady, nice to have you with us. What is your answer to the same question, and please try not to answer with the question as the two young men did.  Susan thought she was the only one that had the right answer and puffed up as she answered  proudly, ” The jar is flawed. It could be, as my peer has recommended, that the cap is not correctly in place or perhaps there is a crack, the presence of a small hole or any such particular imperfection in one area of displacement. That could very well be the specific and scientific rational reason the jar loses its capacity to hold water sir.” Dr. Rooosha stood back and he looked amazed. This made Susan all the more prouder and she gloated in it. He was amazed,  but not at her intelligence, at her ignorance and her unnecessary use of words. He was pleased to inform her of the grade level he was assigning to her. He snapped the words out quickly,  “AIN’T BEEN BORN YET!!! She was appalled. He took a deep breath in and said, “Back To The Head of the Class, Benny, why did the water come out of the jar and onto the floor?” Benny thought for a few seconds and then replied,  “Well, Doctor, I was going to say this at first when you asked me but it seemed too simple and too obvious I guess but the reason the water came out of the jar is because… there’s water in the jar.” The doctor leapt in excitement,  “WOOooo whooo, yesss!” Then he gave Benny the grade, “Master’s degree! Brilliant, good job! That is it, that is it folks, obvious right there in front of our faces. What goes in must come out.  What has been put in, when shaken, pushed and pressured enough, it will come out. If you have any particles or material,  especially chemical, in a confined area you have to remember and never never neeeever forget that it can and probably, and will most likely,  get OUT.  ALWAYS consider what harm it could cause for others. What seems like a huge scientific step forward could knock us back on our buttocks and cause  great devastation to a complete ecosystem.” The doctor blinked his eyes rapidly then he raised his arms far above his head and took a really deep breath, ” Come, come on now.”, He called, “We got to shuffle through.” He began to walk but then turned quickly and shouted, “Mind the water! Don’t anybody slip on accident, or on purpose!” He smiled, turned with a jerk and rushed off.

The kids jump to catch up with his brisk walk. When they were able to get close enough behind him he turned around very rapidly. They literally bumped into him, unable to stop in time. “Oh there you are.”, he said. “Now please come into my, my lounge…ah my relaxation room…the den…agh, we are still working on the ah, name. I am not alone in this world.  Let’s talk first and listen later, then look before we leap. It’s now time for me to show you something or for you to show me something.” Not one of the nervous preteens had any idea what Dr. Rooosha just said,  or meant, but they did know without a doubt that this was going to be one weird day.  

CHAPTER 4

 “THE SHOW WILL TELL”

“Sit, sit, sit, ZIT, ewwww! Everyone have a seat.”, said the doctor as he gestured toward various strange shaped objects. Susan tried to sit on the top of this ‘U’ shaped structure but ended up sliding down into its middle. Phil straddled an object that look like a long snake. Benny wasn’t sure to make of any of this either but he tried to make himself comfortable inside this egg-shaped thing. “Okay, let me see… Susan Cimate?!” Susan answered with confidence, “Yes sir that’s me!” Dr. Rooosha said,  “Please, we are all friends here. Don’t call me sir.  Call me Doctor.”  Her face showed her confusion as he went on,  “So Susie…” She interrupted, “No,  no Sir, ah doctor, I am Susan not Susie. I go by Susan, Susan Climate not Susie.” Dr. Rooosha  nodded and replied,  “Oh, I see.” He scratched his chin and continued,  determine that this little girl was not going to interrupt him again, “Now, Susie, you invented an air conditioner that runs on its own thrust of air. The air is forced through the the fan and, once it is started by an initial boost of energy, it will continue to self-sufficiently function on its own putting out cool, cold air, kind of like a windmill. She began to speak but he raised his voice and went on,  “ALSO, I read that you found out how to run a washing machine by the force of water, much like a watermill. I like it! May we see it?!” She didn’t expect to be asked to see it. She stammered,  “Ahhh, well, I didn’t bring…” He clapped his hands and his staff wheeled in both machines.  She was shocked. “Let’s see.”,  he commanded as they pulled off the sheet covering the first one. “PLEASE,  show me, please Susie.” “It is it is Susan Sir!” To this he said, “It is DOCTOR,  SUE. Don’t waste any more time. We have others you know,  and you have two things too, so show show show please!” Susan went to explain with words. To this he shouted, “SHOW!!!” He calmed himself then actually whispered, “Not show and tell. Shhhow. The show will tell all.” Susan almost felt like she couldn’t just show him she thought she had to tell him but after hearing him Shout she knew it was best to just push the button. Dr. Rooosha watched with eyes wide open. The air condition machine made a little click sound,  like the sound when lighting and electric gas fed barbecue grill. It then pushed cold air out, just as it was meant to. “Yesss.” He expressed with delight. “Now the washing machine. Show us please Susie, please thank you please. Please show show show.” Susan said nothing.  The staff pulled the sheet off of it and Dr. Rooosha  said, “Wait! Susie, does this have a guard covering the wheel in the back that spins?” Susan said , “Sir, I mean doctor,  I really would like for you to call me Susan I…” Dr. Rooosha  stopped her. “Susie, your naaame is not important here and now and has nothing to do with this. Just answer the question.” She sighed and said, “No sir it does not, however,  it is in the back and it…” He jumped in before she finished and said “It’s Doctor, not sir, and you need a guard or some type of safety covering, even though the turning gears are in the back. Now, show. Let the show begin. Does it work?”, he prodded. Susan push the button just like she had on the A/C unit and the washing machine kicked on and kept running after that one jolt of energy. The Dr. walked  over and stood next to Susan then said,  “Now, look at the back Susie.” She turned her head to the side and peered around the edge of the machine to see the back. Her hair got caught in the wheel and pulled her into the gears.  She shrieked,  “AHHHGH!!!” Dr. Rooosha quickly pulled out scissors from a pocket on the side of his p.j.s and cut her hair, freeing her. “YOU,  you cut my hair!”, she yelled. “I saved your life Susie!”, he yelled back, ” Wake up Susie, wake up little Susie, wake up.”, he broke into song. She was too embarrassed and ashamed to lash back in any way form or fashion.

“Now, who is Philip ‘Filament’ Ross?”, He asked as if he didn’t already know,  “You are next. SHOW  US!!!” The staff wheeled  in Phil’s invention on cue. Before they uncovered it Dr. Rooosha described what he knew about it, “Under this sheet is a type of light bulb, that when tapped by a small hammer, has an internal chemical mixture, much like a glow stick from a rave party, that gives off a bright enough light to fill an entire room and I understand it is cold to the touch. Now, before you show us I want to ask one question, what happens if the bow, I mean bulb, breaks?” Phillip didn’t expect that question, “No one has ever asked me that Ssir, ah…Doctor.”  “Well, I’m asking you now.”  Philip admitted with some disgrace, “I…I…I, um, really don’t know Doctor.” Then the doctor gave a quick shout,  “SHOW!” They all jumped and the sheet was pulled off. Phil picked up a tiny hammer next to the bulb and tapped it ever so lightly. It worked just as predicted.  Dr. Rooosha  stepped over to the light,  reached out, touched it and said, “Ah yesss, it was cool to the touch. It’s actually very cold!” He then unscrew the bulb and dropped it to the ground. It broke open and the room filled with the deadly gas put off from the chemicals released. Dr. Rooosha pulled a handkerchief out of his side pocket and masked  his face.  The rest of the kids choked and coughed. Susan let out a shrill, “aghh!”, followed by a gasp for air.  Benny tried to mask his face with his arm and without hesitation or prompting he grabbed what was left of the broken bulb, ran to the window and threw it out. He then dashed to all the other windows in that room, opening them so the gas could escape. After the tear-jerking, throat grasping fumes cleared the room Dr. Rooosha said, “Ooops.”, and smiled. He put his hand on Phil’s shoulder, looked him in the eye and said, “Good job Benny!” Phil replied, “I’m Philip, not BENNY!” The doctor replied, “Oh yes, I know but you Phil, filled the room with deadly gas so I’m calling you ‘fill’ from now on! And again good job Benny, thank you.  NEXT!!!” 

The staff rolled in a small car covered by a white sheet, “Thiiiiisss is Benny’s. Benny?” Benny was shy, very shy and even a little scared. Without a word he just stepped forward and walked over to the vehicle. The doctor shouted,  “SHOW!”  The staff members pulled the sheet off and threw it into the air. It cascaded down to the floor like a smooth landing parachute. Benny said nothing. Dr. Rooosha  said nothing. Benny open the door and started the engine. Dr. Rooosha smiled and said, “It runs on saltwater, saltwater! Now we know what else we can to do with our oceans. Imagine a boat that could be powered off of the surface it uses to travel on. Consider this.” He paused for a moment and thought then began an improvised poetic verse that came to him on the spot, right off the top of his dome,

“We have not been to the deepest part of the sea.                                              We don’t even know where it may be!


I don’t think it is bottomless.         But I do believe it is deep enough for all of us.

We can tap into it as fuel.                  We can use it as a carpool!”

He smiled at the rhyme that came to his mind.  “Much like all of your inventions,  discoveries and projects it will take tools to make these tools and it will take money to manufacturer these tools but these tools will save money and the environment. Benny’s car that runs on saltwater could put a cease to the wars over oil and gas! Now come with me. Leave your machines running. I love the sound. I like how they don’t produce noise but just a nice hummm. I commend all of you that they not only don’t produce pollution but they reduce noise. All of your machines are much more pleasant than the shriek Susie makes.” He imitated Suzie’s reaction to when he cut her hair and when she experienced Phil’s experiment going wrong. “Phil, I mean ‘fill’, and Benny I do apologize for any misfortune brought to you as well. I was going to tell you earlier but none of us could breathe! Dr. Rooosha was not trying to hurt any of these children’s feelings but he was giving helpful criticism in order to challenge them and get them to improve what they have started. Perhaps allowing Susan to get her hair caught in her own machine and cutting her hair was a bit over the edge and breaking the container that held  the chemicals Phil mixed was pushing the envelope but he wanted to deliver a strong message that they would not soon forget.

CHAPTER  5

“TOUR, NOT TORTURE”

What Dr. Rooosha did next outweighed every outlandish behavior they saw so far. He laid down on the floor face up then, using a back handspring he put himself back on his feet and exclaimed, “Let’s jump to it!” and the tour began.
Strolling  down a long hall with the children behind him he told them a brief background of how and why he built this mansion. “This is not just my home. This was my dream since I was a little boy like you, well like you Susie but a boy, I used to sit in the woods and there I found encouragement and gained the knowledge of what could be developed using, but not abusing nature. The Natural Science of how things work around us can teach us so much.  My parents sometimes had trouble finding me but I always returned home because it was there, at home, that I could build an extension of what nature already did for us. The inventions I enjoyed working on the most were based on the way insects work,  such as the first bulldozer. I mimicked the way moles burrow and push around dirt. The dung beetle pushes dung with their back legs. Imagine pushing that around all day,  that big ball of poopy! That helped me come up with the development  of a backhoe.  Other animals,  even are domestic dogs dig with their front paws but throw the dirt up, underneath themselves, that one I’m still working on. I watched a spider and saw how it used its web, that led to safer window cleaning contraptions and better building scaffolding. Maybe you are aware of how we are working on using spider webbing to develop bone marrow transfusions, but that dives into the medical field and is a whole other story. Then I studied anteaters, elephants and other creatures of nature that inspired me to build cranes with extending arms and Steamrollers. The giraffe spired the cherry picker machine that could reach up high.  All of these are just imitations of nature.

This meant a lot coming from him because he was the one who invented all of those machines.
He stopped abruptly again and turn to face the kids. This time they kept their distance so they didn’t run into him again. He looked down at them and began to say, “You know kids…” He stopped, looked up at the ceiling and then bent down on one knee so he could look them in the eye as he said softly and gently, “You know young people you, and what you have invented, is an enhancement of what has been around us for years.” The three looked at each other then back at Dr. Rooosha. He saw they needed further explanation.  “You may not realize it but Susie…”, he smiled knowing how much it bothered her that he was changing her name ever-so-slightly. He acted as if it was a strain to pronounce her full name, “Suuue…sss…ann,  your contraptions use air and the other uses water for power. Yes it needs a small electrical volt to start but, once in place, look how it keeps running and can be used to complement our own personal hygiene.” A small smile started to form on Susan’s face until she was just beaming with light and pride. In her head she thought how this compliment made up for the correction, humiliation  and embarrassment she went through earlier,  however, she was still upset about her unplanned haircut. She felt so good it almost made her forget that she couldn’t stand being called Susie, almost. “And you Phil…”, the doctor went on,  “You used the chemicals that lightning bugs use. If you squeeze a lightning bug and break its butt open there’s a toxic fume exerted but they are so small it has no effect on us. So let’s figure out how to make your container,  with the larger source of light, break proof, unbreakable and everything will be fine.” His voice was calm and soothing then he extended his hand and put it on Benny shoulder addressing all of them,  “Class you three are special. You have a gift and drive.  Each of you have put together scientific principles and laws of nature to form utilities I have wanted to put together myself.  Benny, you have now given us an opportunity to run the heavy machinery and our personal vehicles without filling our air with tainted gas and oil fumes.” Benny looked down at his feet humbled by the compliment. Imagine combining all three of your inventions and once a huge cruise ship starts moving the saltwater fuels it and all of the lights on the ship are Phil’s filaments. Dr. Rooosha then stood to his feet and collected himself saying, “Now don’t get all mushy on me it’s one thing to be passionate and grateful for the things around us it’s another thing to shed tears. WAIT, maybe if we all cry enough we could feel the oceans with tears and that would fuel the ‘Benny buggy’! That was supposed to be a joke, funny, haha, you know?” None of them found humor in what he said, they were still caught up in the meaningful moment, so he just turned back around to press through the Mansion’s extensive hallways. “Let’s Press On!” Dr. Rooosha began to walk faster and faster until he was running full speed. The children had no trouble keeping up with him but the halls zigged and zagged.  The unexpected corners did challenge them. Out of no where the doctor stopped and put his back flat against the wall. The kids momentum didn’t stop and they ran a few feet beyond where the doctor stopped. They turned and came back to where he was frozen against the bright white wall,  “Oka,y we are safe now.” Susan was the first to ask what all of them wanted to know, “Safe from what?” Dr. Rooosha has smiled as he caught his breath  and answered,  “I’m not sure, but we are safe now right?” They all kind of chuckled and agreed in unison,  “YES!” The children were finally realizing it was okay to have fun and play along. Then he tapped his palm against the wall and it slowly opened, “Hurry, hurry before it closes!”, he encouraged them. They quickly squeezed into the next room, avoiding being crushed by the rotating wall.

CHAPTER 6

 “THE BIO-DOME”

Once again the three of them took in an eyeful of the entire room that had just been revealed to them. They all let out a loud and long, “WOOOOW!” “I call it my biodome!” Phillip noticed that the glass ceiling went on for miles.  Benny felt like it was if they stepped into a foreign country and it was so large its size reminded Susan of some islands that she was able to visit. Phil asked, “What is that huge box or, ah,  room in the corner over there?” Dr. Rooosha chimed in with great glee, “Ah yes, it is what I call the ‘nocturnal room’. It is a pod with no the windows. In there I observe how and what things grow, glow form, recreate and evolve in complete darkness.” “What is that?!”, ask Benny, pointing to an area with strange looking animals. Dr. Rooosha cupped his hands over his mouth and use them as if he were a tour guide speaking in a fuzzy sounding microphone, “CHKHHhhh, attention folks, attention! We can, chkhh, stand here in the doorway and see things from a, chkhh, or we can get, chkhh, up close. By the show of hands, how many of you today would like the tour to begin? Chkhh, check one two testing testing.” They all responded by raising both hands, playing right  along.  “Chckhh, okay folks, chckhh, stick with your buddy, chkhhshhckchh, as we travel along chckhh,  THE BIO-DOME, Dome, Dome, dome. ChKia he 10-4 good buddy, chckhh, ALLL ABOOOARD!” He jumped to the front of the line and led the way like a train. They listened and looked carefully not wanting to miss anything as he spoke in a normal but projected voice, “This is basically an extravagant greenhouse, more like a green City, and oh so much more, because of its enormous size. This is where I grow organic,  as well as inorganic plants and animals.” He turned, walking  backwards to better see the kids and for them to hear him better. Over here on my right,  your left, you will see a typical Field Garden and animal farm like you see or may see in American Farm country. You can’t buy any of these items at Macy’s, although some of the wool from our sheep we do sell to manufacturer to make clothes that they then overprice and sell.  I, WE, grow everything in this area the exact same way the F.F.A., the U.S.D.A., the U.S.A. and the P.T.A. does. That’s right I said P.T.A., the Parent Teacher’s Association. I don’t withhold one single chemical pesticide or other artificial coloring or poison used in this day in age. You won’t find any insects or get any mosquito bites but you could die from the pesticides and insecticides. ANNnnd on this side, over here to my left your right, behind the 100 foot high and 1 foot deep plastic window you’ll see the all truly natural or as I like to call it the all natural nature all area. THIS part of the building here is directly above a real fresh spring, an ice water hole! We don’t have a gate for the water so there’s no ‘Watergate issues here’. The natural well forces out, and up, ice cold water from the depths of caves below, which we may visit later. This section is allowed to grow without any interference. It is sealed of, sanctioned, seperate, SET APART  and sanctified. Above you you’ll see a type of trapezzzze made out of trees and vines. You may have seen something like this in the circus! Those are for the orangutangs as well as other animals that use the tops of treessss, like a trapezzze, as a mode of transportation. We do not charge them for this mode of transportation. Coming up behind me is what may look like a huge cage for all Homo Sapien life forms.” Susan said,  “You, you mean animals,not people right?!” Dr. Roush smiled, “Now Susie, surely you know what Homosapien are!” Phil swallowed hard he was a little nervous but answered, “Mmmaammals mammals  right?” Benny added,  “But, but not all mammals can survive on land. Homosapien, us, are mammals but ah…” He looked at the other two kids and then to Dr. Rooosha and said, “Whales, dolphins, they are mammals but you, Dr. Rooosha said, ‘all homosapien’ life-form.” Dr. Rooosha motion for them to come closer, “Take a look. See, see for yourself. Look, look, observe and study.” One by one each child began to see. Susan was the first to shout, “A human!!!” “Very good Susie!”, commended the Doctor. She looked at him, rolled her eyes and corrected him, ” SUSAN  SIR!” “Of course, as you wish Susie.”  She growled and grunted in frustration. Benny exclaimed,  “There’s a whole family of people over there!” Philip cried, “Where, WHERE?!” Then he noticed more and more people in the distance walking around, crawling in and out of what looked like man-made shelters. Some were climbing trees to reach figs growing up high. Some were washing their clothes in a stream of water. “NOW, kids, before you call the F.B.I, C.I.A. or M.T.V. on me,  let me explain that everyone living in there has volunteered. I know that they are so faaar in the distance they look like little ants but I assure you they are really real life-size people, like us. They have willingly separated themselves from regular Society.  They have dedicated themselves to more than just science. They are like missionaries on a mission who go into foreign countries, uninhabitable or rather places uninhabited, HOWEVER, unlike reality TV shows where people willingly try to survive on an island or in the jungle purely to entertain others, these people actually serve a real higher purpose. What we are doing here is providing controlled, not just humans diets, but the Earth’s diet, and other ways of life to find out how Nature and Science, the science of our surroundings, affect us.” Phil shouted,  “WHAT THE WHAT??!!” He pressed his finger against the glass, “THERE’S SMOKE COMING  FROM  OVER  THAT  MOUNTAIN!!! IS SOMETHING  ON FIRE???!!!” Dr . Rooosha busted out laughing, “HA HA HA AMUSING ISN’T IT?! NO, no, no, no, no, whoa, whoa, whoa, no. Don’t be alarmed.  Did I say no?  The smoke you see over there isn’t coming from a fire.  Let’s climb the fire tower and see.” They walked around a few bends on an nice path decorated with brilliantly colorful flowers on each side.  At the end of the trail was a huge tower. They climbed it and were able to see that the area under the dome went on for miles. Susan looked out over the small mountains and said,  “A McDonald’s?!” “Yep Susie, fast food for those who eat nothing else. B.T.W,  by the way -not Booker T. Washington, the Bio-dome is actually the size of a small town. We’ve divided things up into territories. Some of the people eat nothing but fast food.  Another territory is for the vegetarians.  There are even fancy restaurants at the farthest part of the dome for those that only eat Ritz.  Others cook their own food they buy from the Bio-dome market, ‘Bio-Mart’. Then there are those who eat only the food grown in the all nature all natural area, where no chemicals or pesticides or injected proteins are added. Guess which group is doing best?”  They left the question unanswered, as it was obvious. “Let’s move along!” The kids thought, there is more? Benny walked as fast as he could to keep up with the  rest.  Ttrying to catch his breath he stated, “I knew your Mansion was listed as the biggest house in the world but I had, whew, no idea what you had in here!” Dr. Rooosha froze his tracks and whispered,  “No one knows.” He quickly shifted his eyes from right and left.

CHAPTER 7

“LETTING IT ALL SINK IN”

Then he said almost too soft to hear, “It’s best if we keep a move on now and move fast!” The kids got the impression that there was more of a mystery than they knew. The Mansion was spread over several miles but was linked to other locations by intricate tunnels. On maps and from the air the place was known as breeding grounds for rare plants, thus explained the greenhouses. Little did anyone know they were all connected.  The real reason Dr. Rooosha was moving so fast was so that he could show and tell them as much as possible. The hall they were walking in began to descend. “Are these where the caves are?”, asked Benny. The answer was, “NO, no, Heavens no, we, more than likely will not have time to see those, but I know you will enjoy this.” 

They came to a dead end. He stomped and put his ear against the wall and asked, “Do you three know how to swim?” Susan said,  “I’m not going swimming!” “No, pshhh fish, I mean pish posh fish. Not swimming Susie, but you may have to tread a little water to survive if things go horribly wrong. REMEMBER KIDS, WE ALL NATURALLY FLOAT. Hold you breaths,  count to 10, or is it 20?” He leaned against the wall as if to think. 

There was a slam from behind them. They were instantly surrounded, above and around, by a clear thick wall. The room within the room dropped down into the floor revealing an aquarium that made them feel as if they were in the middle of the ocean in an oversized submarine. Cupping his hands around his mouth again and faking the ‘walkie talkie’ the doctor began, “Chckhh, okay folks this is, chckhh, one of the most, intrichkhh, intricate, chckhh, and interessschkting  rooms! You are actually submerged and as you look around you’ll see every type of fish you see in the Big Blue, chckhh, ocSCHKean. WE, CHCKHH, don’t have to feed them we have, chck, chck, what is, chckhh, excuse me, chckhh what is called the food chain. This is a division above us, chkhh, I gotta giit’ this thaang fixed!!!” The kids looked up and couldn’t even see where the water surfaced.  He went on, “On the right side of the, chck, tank you con’, chckSEEee fish found in the SEA, OUR OCEANS, all over the world. Ooon the left side,  chckhh, chck, contains chck, chchk, the highly respect chckTed fish that are born and raised separate from any pollutants found in our oceans, chck,  KOSHER FISH,  YUMMY!” Phil notice the fish on the right side where larger but the ones on the left we’re moving faster and seemed uninhibited. It was as if they were truly free. Dr. Rooosha put a hand on Phillip shoulder from behind and said,  “Notice no square-shaped fish on the left.”  Benny  laughed and sarcastically said, “A real pity.” Susan remarked,  “I don’t see a difference”  Phil let out a laugh and said, “A real pity.” Dr. Rooosha’s face lit up as he said,  “I wonder if you could taste the difference Susan.”  “You, YOU called me Susan!” she blurted out in surprise. He smirked and said, “You’re right! Sorry Susie.” Benny loved how she walked right into that one. She just coughed, ” You are nuts!” “Oh, that reminds me kids. At the end of your visit you will receive a bag of nuts grown allll naturale, right here in the biodome.” Dr. Rooosha performed a little tap dance then stomped his foot. A lever came up out of the floor and he pull it. The room moved extremely fast through the water then stopped abruptly. The children had to pick themselves up off the floor and looked up at Dr. Rooosha as he said, in delay, “Hold on.”  He raised his hands, they felt another jolt. On the other side of the  clear walls solid walls went up with a fast jerk and slam as they locked into place. “Let’s go to the debriefing room now.”

CHAPTER 8

“THE DRY DOC.”

The kids were on their feet and staring at the walls. Dr. Rooosha pushed a particular spot on the wall and a door beyond the clear walls open to a drainage tank. Once it was all clear they stepped out of the submarine room into another room the size of an elevator.  The dry chamber moved upward  and the door opened to a room setup much like a lecture hall. They noticed they were back at the Greenhouse, Green City, level, which was in the back of the lecture hall. “PLEASE, PLEASE, PLLLLEEEASE, have a seat.” The doctor invited and demanded. He then let out a sigh and asked, “OOOOKAY, how many of you want to live here?”, he let out an evil laugh and rubbed his hands together, “MWHA, HA, HA!” followed by, “No, seriously. What do you think about coming to live here? Just stay. You don’t have to go to bed at a set time. You don’t have to eat all your veggies,  unless you want to be in the vegetarian section. You won’t even get grounded, of course you can’t leave but,  you won’t need to go anywhere. You stay in your own handmade shelter! When living the shelter you don’t have to clean your room,  other than the dirt floor and some bugs maybe… it is like camping out! It will be fun!  What do you say?!” Afraid to speak or be the first to say how they really felt all three of them slowly nodded no. Susan then spoke up with a very negative attitude,  “Who would want to live here?!”  Dr. Rooosha thought he had convinced them. He  knelt down in front of where she was sitting and said softly,  “Me, I would, I, I, do. Oh, don’t you see  me? The bio-dome, it is part of my home, the best part actually!” Just then a bird flew in from the back and pooped on his head as if on cue. He said, “Well, some parts are the best parts. sometimes you’re the bird, sometimes you’re the car the bird poops on.”

CHAPTER  9

 “THE FINAL EXAM”

“Okay kiddies, moving right along, stand up and come up front here. It is your choice whether or not you live here or there. I never could control the ‘weather’, haha. It is now tiiiiime for the final subject!”, announce Dr. Rooosha.”We’ve been in a submarine that took us to the subterranean and for our final substantial subject that you MUST be subjected to today.” He began to well up with emotion as he dramatically announced,

“THIS IS…  A  FINAL…. EXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM ! ! !”

“A FINAL EXAM?!?!”, protested  Susan. Dr. Rooosha dropped his arms to his sides and exclaimed, “Ah, gee, yeah, didn’t I just introduce that with great vigo, emotion and display?” Rooosha looked over her head and address people who are not even there, “All those in the back of the class, please pay attention I don’t want to have to fail you!!!” All three looked over their shoulder and shrug them realizing he was just being silly again.  “Now as I was saying,  here are the final Pop Quiz essay questions, final exam just sound… bigger. These questions you will  not only see on must see TV so watch closely and try to keep your eyes on the nut with the ball.” Phil shook his head still not used to the shenanigans. Benny smiled with amusement and Susan just folded her arms, disgusted, and let out a sigh,   “JUST TELL  US!” “Okay, thank you for asking.”, The Doctor said sarcastically before he went on. “Numero Uno, that means number one in another language, ut hum,  ‘numberus oneus’ on our list… ACID RAIN, we shot chemicals into the sky to be captured by clouds so that we AND other living things, including plant life, would be supplied with polluted water…WHY? Phil answered,  “We couldn’t survive without water!” Susan joined in, “Yeah, even if it was or had to be polluted!” The doctor turned his back on the children and faced the wall they faced and gestured as he spoke, writing in the air as if on a huge chalkboard,  “Weeee caaaan’t, wait crossout can’t, weeeeee cooooooouldn’t waaaait fooor it tooooo raaaaaiiiiiin.” Then turning back around toward the three with the invisible chalk still in his hand he said,  “Don’t you see dear children? Don’t you feel Phil? You don’t hear OR SEE Susie.”  She rolled her eyes. “You can not taste it Benny?” Benny  asked, “Taste what?” Dr. Rooosha  almost lost the little, if any, self-control he had. He jumped up on the desk and raved,   “The acid, the chemicals, the foreign substance, the, the, the …science in everything we eat and drink and touch and feel and oh, oh my!”  He jumped to the floor once again and ran to the back of the lecture hall went through the open doors to The green house city and they watched him rip somethings out of the ground and rush back toward them, dropping a trail of dirt behind him. “HERE,  HERE, TASTE!” He held out a carrot. At first the children were hesitant but then each of them reached out and took a bite. “TASTE IT, DON’T JUST BITE IT OR EAT IT, TAAAAAASTE IT, SAVOR IT. SAVOR THE FLAVOR.” He prompted. Phil spoke while crunching, “Taste what?” Benny spoke softy, “Nothing special.” Followed by Susan swallowing the confirming, “Yeah, no, nope,  I don’t taste a thing!” The doctor smiled and shouted, “AH HAH… but taste THIS!”, as he pulled another carrot from behind his back. Each kid took a bite of the second carrot and moaned. They all agreed, “It,  it is like candy!”, expressed Benny. Dr. Rooosha  busted out, “YES, yes, yes, yes, yes sirree Bob, I mean, Yes siree Benny it is!!!” His eyes were filled with tears. “WOW WOWWIE WOW!, MY MOUTH IS WATERING! This is a CARROT?!“, slurped Phillip. “So.”, said Susan. Dr. Rooosha put his hand on Susan’s head and whispered, “So…so, she thinks unpolluted food doesn’t taste as good because it is not polluted?” It was almost as if he was praying for her. Phillip laugh. “Shut up filament!”, defended Susan. Benny interrupted, “But what else what else, Dr. Rooosha, what else would taste better if it is not fed acid rain or chemicals?” To answer Benny the doctor got down on his knees and met eye-to-eye with him acknowledging the question,  giving a verbal as well as non-verbal answer, “My dear Benny, the question you are asking should not be, ‘what else would taste better?’  The question is what wouldn’t taste better not having been tainted, stunted, malnurtured and otherwise simply…messed with and ….mucked up.” Susan argued,  “I don’t think that has to do with anything it. We can manufacture better resources to produce better food and produce now than the Earth has ever produced before. There are some Farms that are growing pumpkins,  and even watermelons, the size of a small chair. They feed their groves special man-made chemicals.” Phil chimed in, “They’re really not using man-made chemicals. They just manipulate different elements and mix chemicals from different sources that the earth gives,  it’s awesome! Did you see the one they grow in a box so they can ship them easier and shipped more and when you open the box you got a square shaped watermelon, awesome! The point was missed and only Benny seemed to taste and see that the food man tampered with was far inferior to the all-natural. He then looked at Phil in debate saying, “Awesome?  WHO wants a square watermelon?  If you grow it in a box wouldn’t it taste, well,  kind of like wood? And I’ve heard those farmers who grow those huge mellons and pumpkin say that they lose their taste when they get too big, they are only grown for show and then thrown away.” The doctor spoke up,  “Now you’re starting to perceive and conceive.” Susan expressed her indifference, “Wait a minute! He’s just trying to be the teacher’s pet!” Dr. Rooosha went addressed her, “Susie…” She corrected him once again,  “IT is SUSAN!!!”  He continued, “Oh yes forgive me. My mind isn’t what it used to be… Now Susie, do you like Square fish as well?” Phil’s face wrinkled, “yeah like frozen fish or the kind you can get at a fast food place in a round bun. I always thought it would be funny, when I was a kid, I wanted to catch a fish that had four square angles.” He laughed. “Don’t worry…”, said Dr. Rooosha, ‘Someday you will.”  All three could tell he was serious and they began to see what he meant; although Susan was not very willing to admit that she was wrong. “LEVEES!!!” The kids jumped as Dr. Rooosha shouted, “THE GOOD CONSULTANTS  & ENGINEERS WITH  THEIR  MASTERS & DOCTORATE  DEGREES IN  LOUISIANA  HAD  LEVEES  BUILT  SO THAT  IF  THERE  WAS  A  FLOOD  or STORM  THE LAND  WOULD  NOT  BE  WASHED  AWAY… it was only after an extremely powerful water surge that they realized what they had done. The levees actually kept the water in rather than keeping it out. Also, my dear pointy headed little friends won’t admit that they were wrong.”  He looked at Susan.  “They also did more harm than good because if they had not built these walls on the shoreline the land would have taken care of what was needed. The tides washing in and out of the waves would bring with it land, leaving more than it took. Building something seemed like the right thing to do huh?  Loooong before all that their first mistake was building a city on land below sea level.” He went on as the children were now almost afraid to say anything without being pierced with his superior knowledge of things that were really very simple. “The ozone hole…can you see it? No, no, no, nah, nine, not possible, but it is still there! Where, where is it? Anyone, anyone, anyone??” Phil said cautiously, “It issss in the sk…?” Before he could say ‘sky’ Dr. Rooosha said, “Really bright young filament!” Phil wasn’t sure if he heard the doctor making fun of his nickname or not but at this point he wasn’t about to correct him as his words plowed through, “It is in the air. The air that we BREATHE! Our atmosphere is like a scuba diving mask and if there is a crack in that glass mask,  not only would our oxygen Escape but the water would come in. Our atmosphere has a hole in it. The hole was caused by…” Susan interrupted and the two boys were shocked as she interjected, “It’s caused by a numerous amount of aerosols like our hair spray, deodorant, factories, as well as pollution put off by our cars and trucks and yeah yeah yeah we know. You are not teaching us a thing we don’t already know!”  The doctor took back over, “Susie, you’re so sweet. You really should work on a farm,  by the way I love your hair. Please do tell me later where you go. I just gotta to get that due! Susie Q is right you guys, come on. He jumped into another impromptu poem,

Wake up,  smell the napalm. Smell the A-bomb.

 Too many dollars shot into space. Not enough food for the human race 

Put on your finest Dress.                   The whole world is in distress.

Stop and smell the crystal meth.       Go ahead take a deep breath…

And let’s not forget to stop and smell the rose and the daisy.                   They’ve all been genetically prepared and colored like crazy.

It is all for us to enjoy.                       The Earth is really just our big toy! 

So play people play.                         Don’t consider that that there will be one final day of decay.

Make more stuff, throw away what you possess.  OR,  hoard it all and live in distress.

He stopped and looked up in dismay. “Ya know I was thinking of breaking a hole in my very own ‘Green House City’, just to see how well my plants and animals would do, but I was afraid I would cut my hand on the broken glass and bleed to death all over my Rose Garden. So, later I will need each of you to please help me paint the roses red.” Benny and Phil smirk at each other. They were almost amused because Susan was being put in her place. Dr. Rooosha continued; however, some things he said seemed to be completely unrelated and random. They noticed a strange look in his wide eyes. Then he came back to his right mind and he pulled them back in with this last words, “OKAY NOW, last but not least chillins, consider this…even firefighting natural fires is, believe it or not ‘Smokey THE Bear’, NOT necessarily the best thing to do.” Susan couldn’t control herself any longer and Phil actually agreed with her here and now as she argued, “Now wait a second Dr. Rooosha, I respect you and all but come on. The firefighters are heroes and if they didn’t get wild fires under control we would lose are extremely high-priced subdivisions and maybe even malls and stuff.” Dr. Rooosha took a very deep breath in, scratched his head and looked up into the space around the lecture hall again as he let out the words with his chest felt breath, “haaaaaa, it is the ‘and stuff’ that worries me the most. I sure would miss all that… stuff. I mean, it’s not like the forest was here first and tried to keep us from taking over and killing it so we could have all the fun putting the trees in a perfectly precise, particularly planned, circular design that wraps nicely around our cul-de-sac. HeckI can’t imagine how we would live in the woods,  wow, scary huh?” Susan still dished out a little bit of attitude, “I know what you’re doing and saying and trying…” Dr. Rooosha stopped here there,  “Trying? Is that what you think I am doing, TRYING? I’m succeeding, not just trying Susie.” The little girl lost all composure, “I can’t take it anymore. MY name is Susan, SUSAN! Let me spell it out for you  S U S A N! CAN’T YOU GET  THAT RIGHT  GENIUS ? ! ? !” She even shocked herself and knew right away she was speaking out of place but she was still fuming and wondering why and how anyone so smart could be such a smart mouthed lunatic. Dr. Rooosha responded calmly,  “Okay, you’re on to me… Oh Susan, ah, oh won’t you cry for me?  I am so, so sorry please…crucify me, but can you wait until Friday cuz I got some stuff to do at the mall and stuff.”  Philip spoke up trying to get back on topic, “Seriously Rooosha, I mean Doctor Rooosha. How could putting out a fire be a bad thing for nature or science?

Dr. Rooosha laid down on the floor, face first. He started to scoot across the ground. The children moved out of his way as he divided them with his body squirming like a worm.  As he spoke the carpet was Pressing against his lips a little, “You see down here on the forest floor me and all my pine-needle buddies and leaves and… ah Susie, what’s the word again? Nevermind,  I remember, all the stuff down here on top of the dirt, we all get hot and eventually just explode because we just can’t take it anymore!” Susan thought about how she couldn’t take this anymore but she remained silent for the time being. They watched and listened as he mumbled and spit out a few carpet fibers along with his words,  “However, plhaaaa!”, he slowly began to rise up to his feet and started waving his arms like flames as he finished his point, “WE… burn like hell, literally!  Then,  after we burn the hell out of an area, Our Ass’, I mean our ashes, are used as fertilizer  and we would never grow new and stronger if we didn’t get so burnt up about being left alone in the dirt where people want to pave.”  Benny confirmed, “I heard about that.”  Philip agreed, “Yeah, yeah, I knew that things are forged in the forest after natural fires. They even do controlled burns, to help prevent wild fires and to let an area like, start over.” Susan’s blood began to boil again as she lashed out at Benny, “You’re just trying to make me look bad!” Dr. Rooosha oddly comforted her by taking her hand, “My dear, dear. You mustn’t feel that way.  They could not make you look any worse than you already do Suzy Ann.” She pulled her hand away, “OKAY, I’VE HAD ABSOLUTELY  ENOUGH!!! I’M LEAVING!” The two boys and the doctor just stood there. Dr. Rooosha wanted to make a joke about her not being a ‘leaf’. He almost said something like, ‘don’t leaf.’, but he refrained. Susan just stood there too, not really knowing where to go or how to get there. She broke the awkward silence,  “Dr. Rooosha, you have done nothing but treated me rude the whole time and I will not tolerate it any longer!” The doctor really didn’t want her to go but he wasn’t going to stop her. He attempted to reason with her, “Oh, no, I… I am sorry. I, how do I,  oh, my my.  I just want you to know what I think. I just want everyone to understand what I have done and what we can or could try to do. I want that more than anything else we did today. I hope and pray that you will go home feeling like I did a lot more than just treat you rude. I also meant every word I truly did but I meant it for your best interest my dear Sue…uhhh…son” He began to crack a little, “Let’s ME  spell it out for YOU,  S U E – I S –  D O N E.” He realized by her body language alone that she was determined for her time with him to be over. He bid her farwell, “Please come again won’t you, and don’t forget your nuts Susie.” Susan screamed in frustration,  “YOU ARE JUST A  MEAN, WEIRD, FREAKY, CRAZY OLD MAN!!!!”  “Now, now Susie, I’m not old.” It was then that Susan finally ran back toward the greenhouse city and tried to recall how to get back through the maze of halls from which they came. It was intense. You could cut the air with a knife.

CHAPTER 10

“EXCITE, EXIT AND EAT BEFORE ITS OVER”

Phil broke the moments  of silence once Susan couldn’t be heard any longer.  He stammered to get out the words, “Mmmistster, ah, Doctor Ro, Rooosha. I,  please excuse me. I don’t really know how to, sa, say this but I, I thought it was, ah, was kind of funny and all but like I think, like you kinda were a little, sorta-kinda…” Dr. Rooosha  expressed his frustration by mocking Phil a little, “Spi, spi, spit it out young one!” Benny tried to help, speaking  softly with this naturally charming British accent,  “I think you might have been a little too harsh with her doctor, just with her, I mean, a little sire.” Dr. Rooosha put his head in his hands and sobbed, “OHhhohohoho. You’re so right.  Then he looked up, stop the fake tears and spoke up,  “But she asked for it. Didn’t she boys?!” He broke the false guilt and raised both eyebrows.  Both boys had to laugh.  Phil admitted, “She reminded me of my sister!” Benny smile,  “Honestly, I guess if she didn’t stick her neck out so far it couldn’t be put on the chopping block.” Dr. Rooosha  was impressed,  “You see my whole point. Now you’re flowing smooth,  running like water river rapid with a bunch of Salmon trying to swim up against you so they can get to the top and mate on your head!”  Phil cracked up with laughter. He really had no idea what the man just said but knew the whole situation was funny. Benny realized it was okay,  it just fine to laugh and try not to fully understand what was said.  “Boys, men!” Their leader started,  “Men I want you to know you can laugh. You can laugh because things all around us are a joke.  THIS WORLD IS ONE BIG, ‘YO MAMA’, JOKE.  I’m glad you came here today.  I do love company so much, except when I’m hungry. It’s a weird phobia. I’m not afraid to have people eat with me, but, I am afraid people I am with will eat me. SO, you know, I better get some grub and maybe meet you guys again someday. Okay, I really, really, reeeally, like you guys… really. Good night.” The boys watched, utterly shocked as their hosts walked right between the two of them, up and out, exiting the room the same way Susan just did moments ago. They didn’t know what to do other than to chase after him shouting the whole time,  “Wait, stop! Dr. Rooosha! This can’t be it!  Wait…NO!” He ran through the greenhouse city, zoomed down the various hallways, acrossed his lounge area and finally got to his kitchen. The two boys were not far behind him. Benny shouted, “We can’t make the whole world any better, can we Dr. Rooosha? Neither can you!” THIS stopped the doctor right in his tracks. He slowly turned and questioned the boy,  “What did you just say?!” Benny went on to repeat it but the doctor shushed him. “I have spent my whole life tinkering, exploring discovering,  creating and inventing things, STUFF UPON STUFF! I was not just trying but, like I said to Susan, actually succeeding on making this world a better place for everyone… Then, one day… I saw it. I saw, I realized,  that the things, the STUFF THAT I MADE, that were owned by everyone, now owns everyone! I’ve caused massive regression, devolution, with what I thought was progressive progress for us in this world.” A door slammed. It was Susan coming back in. She not only slammed the front door so hard she also shattered the small glass window and nearly knocked the head Butler, Mr. Miff, down on her way in. She entered the kitchen where she heard their voices,  “I’m back and this is not easy for me but Dr. Rooosha, you are a gift and I want to do something that will make this world a better place, maybe correct the mistakes we made. There’s a lot of  hungry people out there and they’re all looking for answers. They have WAAAAAY too many questions that I can not answer. They thought I failed because I was the only one coming out there, alone. I don’t want to fail. I don’t want others to think I failed. What do we do?” Dr. Rooosha just smiled and assured her, “It is nearly time. Right after we eat! I’m hungry too.” He cleared his throat and finished, “…And little girl, Susan, They, out there, they are hungry too, hungry for knowledge and more importantly, wisdom. It’s time to take everything I’ve shared with you and share it with those outside my house and, intern, share it with the whole world. I do hope you learned something and you know, if not, I hope you at least feel like you’ve made a new friend and that, just maybe, we all get something out of the last few words you hear me say this day.  It is nearly time to face the crowd out there and bring this day to a close and hopefully open a new one;  but first… LET’S EAT!!! The four of them and the staff enjoyed the best meal they had ever had. The all natural food was just  positively the best tasting fuel they needed before they faced the world again.

CHAPTER 11

MEDIA MAYHEM 

There was a huge stage setup outside the gateway to the doctor’s house.  People were waiting to hear from him and the children. The buzz was all about what new inventions,  discovery and ‘creations’ they had seen or possibly came up with today.  Someone said that one of the children may have been awarded another prize.  Rumors spread that Dr. Rooosha was going to make the children some kind of offer, giving them a chance to invest in his business. This was the most important part of the day and their experience was about to be shared with the world. It was an especially hot and overcast day. The  dozens of mobil media network trucks had been constantly running their diesel engine, as well as their generators the whole day to provide continuous coverage. The noise and chemical  pollution filled the air all around the entire area. The smog made it difficult to breath. The press blamed the weather for the poor visibility,  the smell and the uptight attitudes of those gathered. They wondered if the conditions would prevent them from getting and delivering the best high definition story ever. They hung onto what Rooosha promised, no matter what the weather may be like he’d still come out to tell the tale of their wonders. Media personnel were basically regurgitating the same thing over and over again. As you walked around you could hear questions waiting to be answered and the news casters rephrasing questions that had already been answered. There was some debate that the Dr. himself may just send out the children one by one. The network called, “The final Source” insisted, “The one female who came busting out a few minutes ago was terrified and that gives us speculation as to what horrible things that might be taking place behind the closed doors of this mansion. We have a right to know exactly what took place here today and every day in the life of this controversial Doctor.” This station was especially good at developing  conspiracy theories and they raised suspension that gave some of the general public reasons to believe that Dr. Rooosha secretly  did evil scientific experiments on plants, animals and even on people. There were even protesters present with signs saying things like,  “FREE THE CHILDREN!”, “REPO ROOOSHA!”, and “TELL US EVERYTHING, LIER!” Some insisted that, “even if they all do come out alive, we’ll never know the truth.” The over zealous  radicals were so one sided they were even bashing the government for not having the swat team, riot police and other special forces break down the doors to the mansion with a bulldozer rather than standby guarding them. In reality that group of people were actually the greatest threat to everyone, including themselves.

One reporter was assuring the public that their hours of putting everything else in life on hold, sitting, waiting, glued to their television, telephones, cell phones, radios and computers to see what happened today was about ready to be the most important time of their lives. “Don’t turn that channel or go ANYWHERE because you can’t afford to miss this. We’ll be right back after these commercial. STAY TUNED RIGHT HERE!! We’ll be showing and telling you why this is important to you.” After the break another roving reporter was heard begging people to keep watching their signal, “No other station will be giving you what you need! Now, here is a quote and a clip, prerecorded early, AND I MEAN EARLY, this morning. Before we show you the footage,  let me read what, THE DOCTOR RAYMOND ROOOSHA WAS QUOTED SAYING EARLY THIS MORNING, SINCE WE’VE BEEN HERE, AND I QUOTE, 

‘People, people so many of you, some of you irate.’…

The reporter stopped reading the  entire  quote in order to add his interpretation on just the first few words. He spoke in one huge run-on sentence, “Now I will tell you folks, and I spoke with Jim, Jim Nokomis our top journalist who wrote this quote down verbatim via Dr. Rooosha’s addressing the press first thing this morning , I will tell you folks, I heard this with my own two ears…it is obvious to some that Dr. Raymond Rooosha noted that some of the broadcasting networks are a bit, ‘cut throat’, if you will, when it comes to getting information out to the general public. Ah, he DID SAY, DR. RAYMOND ROOOSHA SAID, with his own words…ah…AND, I must say with no bones about it he used the word, IRATE! ‘…many of you irate!’ No, I stand corrected, it says here that he, Dr. Rooosha said, some of  you are irate.’ He sure knows how to put people in their place, how to keep them in check! Now we’re going back to Billy and Barbara back in the studio,  WHERE IT IS A WHOLE LOT SAFER than out here where the action is I’ll tell ya that is for sure…Bill & Barbara, back to you for a bit.” He finally took much needed breath. “And we’re CLEAR!”, shouted one of the field producers. “Good job!”, he tossed the reporter a towel. “I felt like I was babbling”, he expressed as he dabbed his forehead gently. His cameraman encouraged him, “You’re fine, just giving the people the facts. Besides,  they are showing the man himself saying the same exact thing he said earlier that you were just reading. Listen into the direct feed from the studio if ya want.” He put his hand up to his earpiece and pushed it in a little more to hear. He heard Dr. Rooosha’s recorded voice “…thank you for staying outside of the gate…I know it’s hard to be held at Bay but I can assure you that at the end of the day…we will conclude our time together.  I will come out there, we all will, no matter what the weather… I will fill you in on this wonderful time spent. We will meet you in the media tent. Thank you!” The reporter gave his forehead a few more dabbles and thought to himself,  ‘hmmm, that all rhymes.’ He composed himself. The field production manager gave the command, “We are coming back, STANDBY!” The reporter fought back a quick jingle that some how found its way into his mind, ‘I GOT RHYTHM. I’VE GOT MUSIC…WHO COULD ASK FOR ANYTHING…’ “And, we are back in three, two…” The manager pointed at him. He inadvertently blurted out what was currently going through his mind, “MORE,  who ah, who coooould ask for anything more…Barbara & Billy, yes um, thank you for that. It has been a very long day, a long day, ut hum, time out here today since early, early this morning. As I have already previously mentioned the weather, yes the weather, ah…” He coughed and choked a little as he tried to keep speaking fluently, “ugh, excuse me, ha ha, just as our weatherman, ‘Dan The Man’, forecasted again he was right on the spot with that, very accurate but Dr. Rooosha did promise to make an appointment,  or ah, to um, make an appearance, to make an appearance. He, ah, To make another appearance, for us…” He shifted through papers he held while standing there in the spotlight, “He did say,  ‘I will come out there, we all will, no matter what the weather… I will fill you in on this wonderful time spent’ ….ahhhhh…he said…ah, I know you just saw and heard him say it in that clip but I have it heeere too, ah, let me see. He said, and I quote, 

‘we will meet you in the media tent.’ 

Then he, um, thanked us, said , ‘thank you!’ and ummmm, those are the great Doctor Raymond Rooosha’s words, one of the wealthiest men alive . So, we know for a fact that if any of you stop watching now, You WILL miss it.”

They were in a media Frenzy and were basically rehashing the same stuff over and over, on edge to go live at any second. They had interviewed people who had never met Dr. Rooosha but we’re experts in the scientific fields. They  give great detail into what a person like Dr. Rooosha was like. They even dove into personal affairs, socially, politically and financially, that they heard the Doctor participated in, none of which were even the least bit accurate or had one shred of truth.

Everyone gathered from miles and miles around. Every country was represented. There was not one single form of public broadcastor absent. The nation, the world, practically the whole universe stood still in one place and time to hear and convey what results took place while these three children were with THE DOCTOR  RAYMOND  ROOOSHA. They were ready to get on record what the most respected and genius scientist was able to share.

CHAPTER 12 

MEETING IN THE MEDIA TENT 

The wait was over. Mr. Miff opened the front door. The Doctor stepped out. The media went crazy!  There were so many cameras clicking it sounded like tree limbs snapping. The roar of news personalities was like the sound of a huge waterfall. They were trying to out shout each other and the competition was in full swing. The crowd could not see the kids exiting, however,  the three children were directly behind him. Once up on the stage the kids took a seat and Dr. Rooosha stood up to deliver his statement.

 “Oh, me oh my oh, ut hum!” He cleared his throat and stepped up to the podium filled with large microphones, each with their logo on a big square wrapped around its base. Before he said anything he thought to himself, ‘when will scientists stop working so science can work?’ After years of studying, teaching and attempting to create things using his knowledge of science he realize that our environments Natural Science can take better care of itself without our intervention and inventions but could he convey that to the world? He tried by speaking precise and clearly, “There are too many scientists in the way, myself included! I said, too many! We need no more and those of us who exist must consider how we exist.” The audience gathered there began to discuss and argue among themselves with questions of what they just heard. He continued and the world hung on his every word,  “We, to easily, get in the way. We destroy amazing self-supported ecosystems rather than discover better ways to preserve them. The air we breathe,  the water we drink, our very own resources of food that we eat… we think they can be improved upon? Why must we try to make things bigger, better and in some way try to improve what is already perfect if left alone?! We are forging a rapid death not just a slow-motion suicide.” Someone from the crowd yelled out,  “You taught these up-and-coming child prodigies to not be scientists?” Several oversized microphones were aimed at the stage. There was a mass of indistinct murmurings and muttering. Dr. Rooosha pleaded, “May I explain?”  The assembled mob before him silenced. He let about five seconds of dead air speak for, itself seeing if they really wanted an answer. He then went on,  “The word science is defined as a systematic knowledge derived from observation not from obstruction. We are all to study, grasp branch.  Just a branch, not even the mass or the roots. A branch of knowledge that systematizes facts,  principles and methods. As scientists we attempt to develop a skill or technique in dealing with the biological,  chemical and physics that make up everything around us. This includes  what we can see and what we can not see. We must consider what we feel and the presents and forces we don’t feel. There are elements that we are able to smell and that which is in distinctive. What we hear is not all that can be heard and that needs to be heard. There are wondrous substances that we don’t even taste when using our very own tongue and taste buds. We all have our wit and senses but I am asking for all of us to use common sense. We all have knowledge but I am calling on us to seek wisdom. We are but Steward’s of what has been given to us.  We are all stewards that should study but not destroy.” Everyone was completely dumbfounded, speechless and listened closly as he  further built his case, “We did not invent or create the trees. We didn’t even really discover them. The rainforest was just there.  We decided to use the limited resources of wood to make paper.  I am sure all of us love paperwork! Oh, how we need more paperwork to write down and record and document things that are right here in front of our faces. We need to take the time to read nature! Do we love where paper comes from enough to work at using our minds and human abilities to the extent that we do not have to manufacture any more paper? Most of us email but also demand a triplicate hard copy or print out what is digitally saved and backed up.” He could almost read the awestruck minds of those standing before him.  He could tell they were starting to understand but he almost lost them at this point because he knew they would be considering what type of sacrifices would they have to make in order to save other creatures and ultimately the planet itself.  “Let me make things a little plainer. Let me simplify.  Let me explain.  Trees, like these surrounding us now, they make it possible for us to breathe. They produce oxygen.  Let us also not forget that they are also homes to countless amounts of life-forms, some so microscopic we cannot even see or imagine. We could not live without them. They, the trees, the life in them and all that is produced by them are far more important and abundant than anything we could ever write on another piece of paper.” Some hung their heads in shame. Some had never really considering these simple facts, they just took it all for granted. Not one soul was left uncomprehending that we have all been so selfish. We not only take nature for granted we take advantage of it. They all realized that very few people are willing to make sacrifices, but rather, they will sacrifice other things so that their wants and desires could be satisfied. Benny, the least expected to succeed,  stood up and use the loudest outdoor voice he had, “WE THINK WE  OWN…”  He hesitated a moment, surprising even himself with his own zeal and bold self-confidence. He took a step forward and raged into the microphone,  “We think we are in control, in charge or can have our own say over, all the elements of science, the Very fibers we were created from and we are sustained by. We are not acting like residents or tenants. We act as if we own and rule the plant. The truth is  nature owns and provide us with a loan allowing us to survive. We have things backwards and upside-down! We don’t meet the needs or provide for our environment, it provides for us. He looked back at Dr. Rooosha. They exchange smiles of assurance. A very brave but small time unknown figure of the local press shouted from below stage level. “What should we do? Another voice was heard asking, “What do we do?” Before Dr. Rooosha, or anyone else for that matter answered the top newscaster ‘The World Satellite Resources’ spouted, “Are you mad?! What can we do at this point?  Are you asking all of us, the entire planet, to stop living life as we know it?! Dr. Rooosha leaned into the microphone and said, “IF you want to keep on living, and generations after you to live, we can’t keep living life as you know it now.” Another top television company was covering this along with all the others and you could hear the familiar lead anchor person shout, “You want all of us to live like the Amish?” The answer came within seconds as Phil jumped up almost knocking Dr. Rooosha off the stage. Phil introduced himself briefly and reminded them that he was the inventor of a new type of light bulb. He then said, “To my knowledge I don’t know any Amish people who have mixed chemicals of Natural Science to enhance their lives. When we look at the grass, sun, insects, all these things around us and think about what they have to offer without us causing an endangerment or extinction then, then we will be living a life that is simple, healthier and even more loving.” Phil started giving a personal example, “I love horses. No, I LOVE  horses,  man do I, ask anyone who knows me!! Dr. Rooosha looked at his staff and rolled his eyes. They exchanged a non-verbal sign wondering if Phil should be taken down. Mr. Miff read his boss like a book and they both let Phil have his say. Phil went on, “But, as much as I love my horses I don’t plan on relying on them as my only mode of transportation. Today, Benny here, showed me that we can get where we need to go without using gas oil or other things that pollute our air. Dr. Rooosha pointed out that the invention I discovered, which again was how to light my stables and home mixing chemicals that are not synthetic or man-made. I do need to make it safer but we don’t have to use candles. Philip then sat back down behind the lectern. Susan couldn’t resist and she stood and shouted, “YES IT IS POSSIBLE…” Dr. Rooosha held up his hand as if to stop her. Then he motioned with his hand for her to not stop but to step up to the mic so everyone could hear her. Once at the Mic. she was still yelling. The speaker’s could hardly take her voice and slightly distorted it as she cried out, “If you found out that you could still use modern appliances but could use them wiser don’t you think it would be an excellent, most awesome way of life? I just wanted to say that with my invention it is possible… but, I…ah,  I can feel Dr. Rooosha’s eyes staring through the back of my head so I have to confess… I didn’t invent the air powered air conditioner or the water powered washing machine.” The crowd gasped. She finished, “I just used, channelled or harnessed two of Nature’s strongest forces are wind and water. They’ve always been around we just need  to use them. Years ago people used watermills and windmills, before electricity. Why, in this day and age don’t we see more solor panels and use all Nature’s, all natural, power. The wind, water and sun are all forms of power, power without pollution!” Susan bowed her head did a little curtsy and went back to her seat.  Dr. Rooosha stepped back up and said, “Thank you Susie!” He looked back at her and smiled. From that day on everyone called her Susie instead of Susan and she ended up preferring it. 

CHAPTER 13

“THE FIRST LADY GETS THE LAST WORD”

 The most amazing thing took place next.  The president of The United States of America spoke up from out of the center of the crowd. No one knew he was even there.  He was in disguise and his secret service men were surrounding him. Everyone recognized his voice from the first word on as he said,  “You think we can survive and that the world’s economy will survive with a plan like this? Do you realize this would affect our allies?” No one was sure if these were rhetorical questions or if the answer to every one of these questions was,  no. Benny put a hand on the doctor’s right shoulder and took him away from center stage. Then he stepped in front of the mic.  while the president was still drilling them. Benny waited, he had no intention of interrupting the president. When the slightest pause came Benny simply jumped in with a common-sense reminder,   “Our ancestors didn’t always live in brick homes, no disrespect but, as simple as that sounds doesn’t it help you realize that there are only a few things we really need food, drink, sleep, shelter and love. However,  we are all fooled, spoiled into thinking that we need is actually and only just what we want. All of us can and should scale back! Is that blasphemy? Disagree with us if you wish. Heck, you may even want to crucify us if you disagree.” Dr. Rooosha smirked and kept himself from laughing out loud but a little snort sound did manage to come out. “We know now we can live self-sufficient on our own land. If we simplify our lives and take some personal responsibility we wouldn’t need all the other countries and they wouldn’t need us. The nature, all Creation, that have been around us since the beginning of time is more than enough to meet our needs. Father God created Mother Earth and with some good honest hard work we cannot only survive but thrive and have all of our needs met .” There was a few brief seconds of silence. The president then strung together several last questions, “You’re recommending that we go back to living like cavemen or primitive Savages in tents, huts, small mud homes or somehow modify the homes we have with the use of your scientific theories to make our planet a better place to live? How can we live better if we are not living better, progressing as civil intellectuals, using every resource we can get our hands on? You propose that we use ‘Nature’s resources’ in place of the incredible inventions you yourself, Dr. Raymond Rooosha, developed?!” Dr. Rooosha, his entire staff and the three students smiled. What happened next was started not by any of the doctor’s staff,  students, associates or colleagues but by a small voice standing in the front row looking up at the stage. The soft spoken word came out, “Yes.” It began to spread through the entire crowd and was repeated over and over until everyone there, as well as, everyone watching or listening to the broadcast joined in one chant, “Yes, yes, yes, yes.” The president heard the crowd. His cell phone rang. He answered it. It was his wife, the first lady, she simply said, “Yes.”

 With that being said and broadcasted to every possible destination Dr. Rooosha gave a nod, turned and walked off the stage. 

The acceptance of what took place that day was more fulfilling and remarkable than any moment in history. It spread throughout the world and people followed up their words with actions to the ends of the Earth. And that my children,  is what helped prevent the Earth from coming to an end.

 

To read about when the president came back go to: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/2017/08/15/story-fair-conscience-fair-science-the-sequel/

                _____________

For some background on what inspired me to write this story go to: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/fair-science-story-why-i-wrote-it-audio-recording-of-it/

To hear the story read go to 👉 Fair Science the recording 👈( https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnjQOVtw61eiFv27rv2rhA3-8U8EyDXya )

For another short story, “The Park” – about 3 boys who sneak into an abandoned amusement park and discover that it has a mind of its own- go to the Online publication of “The Park”: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/the-park-editing/

You’ll find that one on YouTube as well.

For a list of other stories go to: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/stories-poems-and-art/
Thanks for reading, Beetle

This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.

To read what happened that day go to; https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/2017/08/15/story-fair-conscience-fair-science-the-sequel/

Entire story “SEASON OF PRISON” (Entire 1st EDIT)

This is a rough draft story i call “Season of Prison” It is a sequel i am writing to one i finished called “SEASON OF JAIL” (still being edited as well but concluded)

This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.

SEASON OF PRISON

CHAPTER 1

HERE WE GO AGAIN 

As Phil entered his new designated home, prison block D. An inmate named Wiggs came running toward him with a shive he seemed to pull out of thin air. The intake guards were exiting and the other inmates were googeling the fresh meat with their internal mother boards. As Wiggs charged forward Phil did the same. The distance gave him the opportunity to climb Wiggs’ body trunk like a tree, wrapping one of his own legs around his aggressors neck and keeping the other as straight as an arrow. ‘Figure four’, he said in his mind as he used Wiggs’ arm like a branch, ‘This limb will take me to the ground’, he assured himself. It did. The guards did a full 180, secured the stabbing device from Wiggs’ straightened arm then quickly bound both imates while trying to watch their own backs. “EVERYONE BACK, TO YOUR BUNKS!”, came the calls.

Later, the guards that were in person eye witnesses  as well as others who reviewed a video of the fight talked over coffee. “That ain’t never happen during intake like that!,  stood corrected by one of the other Correctional Officer’s who had been there the longest, “Oh, it has happened,  like when your walking your dog and he sees another dog for the first time and it is on, right way, no reason other than no one allowed on his turf! Wiggs must been tryin’ to prove he really the pod boss!” The first one argued, “I thought Wiggs’ tryin’ beat out Roy!” The older one offered, “He was, but by way of a new guy. You won’t eve’ make any sense of it cause you don’t think like they do. Any new guy’s a treat and a threat. Wiggs knew he want to get to em’ first and show ev’body who in charge, it’d aaall ’bout control.” They nodded.  A few recalled their recent training on ‘how to try and think more like a con’ and ‘know your enemy’ classes and guest speakers.  Sargent Leaf walked in as another guard continued,  “That new guy had like, spiderman senses, did you see him jump into action?” He turned and saw the Sargent after wondering what his co-workers were looking at with instant pail faces. They snapped into attention and greeted their superior who addressed them back, “Since you are talkin’ about it on break I’ll turn this into a pre-meeting before the official one. I want both those men in Segregation for a full 30 days and evaluated. The rookie in the group of men knew that self defense was not punishable with a full term in Solitary but knew enough to not open his mouth and quote from the ever changing rule book. Things got real for this young guy when three days in he took a sharp object to the side and struck the assalent in the head knocking him unconscious and was disciplined for those actions.  Things didn’t always add up but he knew the main goal was to go home alive at night not build a career. They sipped their dark black coffee trying to swollow as their leader continued to call the shots, “It was obviously self defense, however,  a move like that, a new inmate, there will be repercussions if we put him back in there before this has time to brew. Hell, even after tempers calm there may be problems. The new guy nearly broke a man’s arm while in jail and didn’t get a scratch doing it.” Clive, one of them that was not a rookie but coming up on his 3rd anniversary there kept his thoughts to himself,  ‘maybe he can do our job for us and correct all the bullies, put them in their place, teach em’ and lesson or two, block justice…” “As Sargent I will be following the new protocol.” He rolled his eyes and sighed as he continued,  “But regardless of what anyone puts on paper I insist we keep this one out of gen. pop. as long as we can! Now finish your Joe so we can have the real meeting,  and tuck in your shirts better,  head warden gonna’ be in this one and I want him to think we are as good as we sometimes look.” The Sargent then pulled out the rookie’s shirt and asked  ritorically,  “What I JUST say?!” Clive thought back to his high school days, he expected more from his leader, more perfessionalizm, less games and bullying amongst the staff.

CHAPTER 2

CONFINEMENT AND CONFUSION 

Solitary confinement was a little different in prison than it was in jail. It some how seemed cleaner if that was possible and the cell Phil was in actually had padding on the walls. He wished the mat on the shelf just barley long enough to fit a six foot body on was as thick as the stuffing in the walls. Phil folded the mat three times and placed it on the floor under his knees as he used the shelf like a table top, a desk, and altar. At night he ended up sleeping on the floor keeping his few commissary items on the bed. He had his Bible, journal and licorice like pencil there the whole time. For Phil these were not good luck charms but tools to help him stay sharp and hold onto sanity he could grasp. The fingers of his brain were sore and on the fringe but still working. His prayer life changed from a Santa wish list to more of a conversation with His faceless friend who was more dependable then anything his eyes could be hold. The toilet was uncomfortably close to the bed rack that was at the same level. Using the mat on the floor,  which was just as hard as the metal shelf, at least put him below the level of rising stentch. Phil was able to find the humor and some comfort as he took an inventory of himself and his surroundings,  ‘At least now I am faced with the reality that my own shit stinks too.’ Although in another season that was as dark and cold as a barren state where the sun don’t shine all day he held onto the fact, ‘this is only a season, this too shall pass. I am here, even here for a purpose.’ The dependence on a supernatural creator, His sovereign ability, out weighed the discomfort and unpleasant surroundings and circumstances Phil had to endure. Lost in thought the slot in his sanctuary door slammed open with little warning of being unlocked first. Phil turned to look but could only see a waist line, white shirt, business tie and front tail fins of a suit.‘That’s not a guard,  maybe warden?  I hope it is an angel, come to set me free.’ His thoughts raced as he crawled that way. A squeaky voice spoke, “I am Dr. Plask, I’ve recently been assigned to evaluate inmates who are in solitary seclusion, the effects this has on you and what brought you here separating you from communal population.” ‘A shrink?’ Phil pictured a board table with a bunch of suits gathered wanting to find answeres without getting to close to reality. “I am here to give a report, we’ll take notes,  then give my opinion on why your behavioral actions necessitate your withdraw from living with others and what reactions you might have to being segregated,  secluded and withheld interactions from others.” ‘OHhh man, here we go. He just made it worse.’ Was all Phil could process. “Now I understand from your file here that the death of your wife may have caused undo stress and caused you to act out and attack another inmate..it says…” Phil blurted out, “WHAT?!” The man cleared his throat and raised his voice, “NOW I KNOW THIS IS UPSETTING BUT WE MUST ALL PROCESS…” Phil interupted again, “No wait, what? My wife…death, you mean my son?” The Dr. scrambled through a file, “You lost your son too?” Phil began to panic, “I lost my son, yes but what about my wife? She didn’t die!” The Doctor looked at the front of the file, “You are inmate #5963514-639 correct?  A Jean Reapland?” “NO!!! I AM NOT THAT NUMBER MY NAME IS PHILLIP DWIGHT REALMAN, NEED MY INMATE NUMBER TOO OR WILL THAT CONFUSE THINGS??!!” The doctor apologized and closed the slat. Phil could hear him scurrying away as he said, “I didn’t mean to upset you, oh my god,  I am so sorry…” The words trailed off. Phil cried out loud, “OH MY LIFE, WHAT HANDS AM I IN HERE LORD? MY GOD,  I’M NOT CALLING OUT IN VEIN BUT PLEASE GIVE THEM SENSE AND SENSIBILITIES! ” Phil returned to his place of uncomfortable rest. He breathed and prayed, at first just trying to process for himself, ‘If this mistake happened what more could go wrong unjustly ‘. He made time and forced a bigger breath, “Lord, you are in control. We all mess up but YOU LORD are ultimately in control.” His mind went to the account of Joseph,  his many color coat, the jelouse and abusive brothers. The words Joseph said after being sold into slavery and eventually rising to a place of honor in a foreign kingdom, ‘you meant it as evil against me but God turned it in to good, a true blessing after such an awful ordeal. Raw harshness from his own kin but later blessings for all of them.  He hear a soft gentle voice, ‘all things will work for the good, all things.’ He fixed his mind on that, all things, for those that love the Lord their God. He heard Jesus on the cross, between two theives, ‘Father,  forgive them, they DON’T know WHAT they are doing.’ Then he heard, ‘I am with you always, alway, all ways and always.’ He stopped even an attempt to form a prayer to God and just accepted everything that was coming in. He went to his knees and though, ‘this knee mail is better than email, Lord.’ As he opened the in box to his heart. ‘I go and prepare a place for you.’ He pictured Jesus saying to those who followed him the closest.  ‘THEN, I went to be sacrificed for all, for every body.’ Phil flipped to 1st John 4:11‭-‬12 and read out loud, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” He flipped to John 14 and again read it out loud, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”   Thomas said…” Phil paused and thought about Thomas for a moment.  He had to see to believe…then he read on, “Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know  my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”   Philip said…Phil wondered if this disciple would not only share the same name as him but the same request. He read on, “Phillip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.'” Phil was able to smile, ‘I did pray that.’ He read some more, “Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority.” Phil prayed, ‘ fill me, Lord.’ As he continued to take more in, “Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.  Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.  Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, ” Phil repeated,  ‘In Your name.’ As he read, “so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.    “If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be  in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”   Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”  Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.  Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.    “All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Advocate, (Phil underlined that)  the Holy Spirit, (he underlined that as well) whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind (more underlining) you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.    “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.  I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.  I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me,  but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” As Phil finished reading he leaned down and kissed the pages then shouted without though or fear of who may over hear him as he occasionally over heard others in misery. Phil shouted, “OH GOD, YOU ARE SO GOOD AND FAITHFUL AND TRUE, I PUT MY FAITH AND TRUST AND HOPE IN YOU!!! HELP ME THROUGH, IN JESUS NAME AND FOR CHRIST SAKE! ! !” He heard back, “For Christ sake,  shut up dude!” Phil chuckled a little and said softer ,  “I’ll shout it out Lord but I’ll also let your child be seen and not just heard from. Set me up Lord. Fill me with You character and presence even in here, even now.” Phil thought about how there were
too many blind leading the blind and not listening to people who sincerely see and want to truly help. Phil felt like there were not enough real friends who simply like you the way you are, not exactly like them, but a legit fellow human being.

Phil’s faith in man, the system,  people had worn down to near nothing but his faith in God gave him what he needed. He dwelled on how God was patient with him and prayed for patients with others and with himself .‘Anything ‘ the Word came to his mind again. He thought of what Elisha asked for when his mentor Elijah was taken from the earth.  He whispered,  ‘I want a double dose of the Holy Ghost, Lord.’  His mind flowed over the holy scriptures he just read. ‘Unlike a geni who is a slave to their master You, Lord God, know best and I want Your will,  not my own and not anyone elses. In here Lord the inmates, the cons and even my own selfish desires try to impose a will contrary to Your will. Help me to not conseed or waver no matter how confused or condemned I may feel.’ Phil prayed silently and sincerely again in Jesus name and not for his own well fare,  not for his own sake, but for Christ’s sake and for His glory.  He knew he was guilty of always falling short of God’s glory. One last thought was able to come to mind accompanied with a cognitive smell, ‘I’m only human, my shit stinks just like everyone else, maybe worse if I confuse knowing God, having His Spirit in me, being a reflection compared and contrasted with being him. Greater is He that is within me.’

CHAPTER 3

RELEASED INTO CAPTIVITY 

In isolation it was difficult to keep track of days. There was no way to use the sun or moon to tell you if it was morning or night. Phil found it best to use the meals as a guage. He used his journal to keep track, ‘let’s see..’ He flipped to the back, ‘Three meals a day, seven days a week…’ Phil could have just kept track of breakfast but when they served eggs for dinner and sometimes a slice of meat loaf and mashed potatoes for breakfast it played mind games with him. ‘Has it really been 27 days and the only person I’ve seen was that…‘ The Holy Spirit helped filter the words. ‘Doctor? ‘  

Three more days past by and the door didn’t open but the tiny window did. A gust of slightly less recycled air entered the slit carried on the threat of a correctional officer,  “BRING YOUR HANDS TO THE WINDOW! NO PROBLEMS OR YOU’LL END UP RIGHT BACK IN HERE OR WORSE!” ‘Why the threat, a reminder of who is trying to be in charge? Do they know no other language? ‘ Phil kept to himself and went along with the program without letting it program him anymore than was necessary. ‘Keep me soft to you in this harsh environment Lord.’ Phil continued to obey God’s will as he submitted to those around him just to function. Not all the staff was as harsh. Some enforced the rules without the need to elevate themselves and push down each other, let alone the prisoners. The shoves while walking down one of the maze of tunnels and stairwells while in hand and leg irons could be done without but Phil refused to let the chip remain or grown on either shoulder. He knew that chip was a cow chip and would only make him give off and even more odor.

Phil finally made it to BLOCK D. He scanned the room for his initial assalent,  tried to recall his face and even place a beard or mustache on what he could remember. He wasn’t looking for revenge just staying on the alert. If there was no real reason for the first unexpected round he knew it best to be fully aware there was a potential for round two with the same man or another one with a hidden adgenda. Roy approached him, “An open bunk over there, it’s a top one but better than the floor.” ‘I prefer being up high, gives me a birds eye view, or at least a lazy cat’s on a counter view.’, Phil thought as he thanked Roy who walked with him to the open top bunk.  It wasn’t an escort, Roy led with conversation,  “Hey, sorry about Wiggs, that was the guy that greeted you the first time, some welcome huh?” Phil knew not to talk to much but was grateful for the warmer welcome while remembering kindness was sometimes taken as a sign of weakness in this foreign land.”Thanks Roy.”, He said as he layed down his matress and few belongings and extended a fist which Roy bumped back. “I’m Phil.” “Lemme’ ask you something Phil…” ‘Here comes the favor or pay back as some type of non-monitary tip.’ Phil didn’t hold onto the assumption but knew how things worked in this fair or unfair trade world, nothing was free, not even kindness. “How’d you learn to fight like dat?” Before the answer could come Roy held up both hands, one informing Phil there was no need to answer, the other calling someone over as if maybe he wanted Phil to share with him as well. A man shuffled across the room as if being timed and Roy’s hand was the finishline. Roy gestured toward man. “I want you to meet someone.  We don’t have much time til’ we get’s to goes’ outsiiideYEAH, for recreation so tell me ’bout where you got yo’skills later.” Phil looked at the other man and introduced him self, “Phillip,  but call me Phil.” The man extended his hand for a shake rather than a fist pump and Phil thought he heard him say, “I’m Ed.” His accent had a British flare taking Phil off guard a little.  “Nice to meet you Ed.” “No.” The man insisted and Roy laughed. Phil stood listening and heard again,  “I’m Ed!” “Yeahh…ah, hi Ed? I’m Phil.” “NO, NO I AM AHM HEAD!” Roy and a few other men near enough were rolling in laughter now. Phil was clueless.  The man smiled and said slowly and as clear as he could, but louder than what was needed, even though the volume wasn’t the issue, “MY NAAAAME IS AHHhh MED AcHMED, YA KNOW? ‘AHMED’!!” Phil finally caught on, “oh I’m sorry I thought you were sayin…” Roy spoke through his laughter, “Happens all the time, was hoping it would get you too.” Ahmed smiled, “They like it.” Phil showed he was amused too. It was nice to be around people again.  ‘I can handel this I hope we all keep getting along. Lord, I trust we will, help me be accepting but not suckered into false friendships in disguise.’ “Welcome to the block. Roy is a good leader. Wiggs will not be coming back here.” Ahmed got out before Roy could stop him. “Now, ah Ahmed and Phil come on now, get some shoes on, can’t go outside in those slides!” ‘Hmmmm, thanks mom, wonder what kind of pod boss this Roy is but so far so good. Take it as it comes.’ Phil thought as he searched, although he knew he didn’t have any other shoes.

CHAPTER 4

INTO THE OUTDOORS 

Phil thought that while in solitary he’d get at least one hour a day outside but what did he know. He had no say in any of this. He wasn’t sure who called the shots, who decided what was good and fair. While in jail they only got an hour of recreation time a week, it wasn’t outside but at least out of the holding cell. That changed near the end of his stay. He ended up enjoying an hour each day in a recreational room, with the exception of Saturdays and Sundays.  As he followed the long line of inmates in front of him he thought about how he and his wife use to have a hard time deciding which restaurant to go to. The choices were based on service, food choices and settings.   He amused himself with thoughts of finding out what other prisons offer and being able to pick and choose where to go. As the line approached the door Phil turned his thoughts back to reality and prayed,  ‘Father help me accept where I am and live for you no matter where I live.’ The yellow lit hall way and greenish colored walls caused his eyes to open wide so that when the door at the end opened everyone was blinded by the sun light’s invasion.

Once outside the men seemed to pretty much join the same clusters of people they hung out with inside their block but other blocks were also out there so they could mix and mingle. There was a section of worn out grass with ‘free’ weights that were chained to poles. ‘Nice to know those would be hard to use as weapons. ‘ Was his first thought. He noticed almost everyone had closed toed shoes but was waiting to get some of his own. In jail they weren’t allowed anything but slides. With no shoe laces available shoes would have been useless anyway. Then he noticed many man had shoes but no laces. He had heard that in some instances lacing shoes up meant a fight was about to take place in the institution,  the secured shoes would give more stability.  He noted some men playing basketball,  some men just roaming and a few sitting off away from all the recreational activity on some old wooden bleachers. A group of men ran by and he decided to take a light jog in that same direction.  The sun felt so good on his face and his heart was warmed with who to thank for that. He wanted to just stand there, throw his chin up, spread out his arms and close his eyes but this was no walk in the park. It really wasn’t even a jog with those slides on shoes. So he slowed to a walk and began to pray again. God’s Spirit  spoke to Philip. It was around noon, the sun was at its highest and hotest. The Holy Spirit whispered to his heart and mind. ‘ I want you to walk over to that desolate road that goes by the old football stands. Phil turned and looked then headed in that direction. He saw Ahmed and a few other men sitting there. Ahmed was of the  muslim faith. He was actually from Ethiopia, where he was minister in charge of the finances  for his motherland. Phil didn’t know his background and how he ended up in an American prison but here he was, sitting in the stands reading softly the prophet Isaiah, not the Koran. The Spirit told Philip, “Climb onto the bleachers.” As he climbed Philip heard the passage from Isaiah and asked, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” Ahmed answered, “How can I without some help?” and invited Philip a seat. The passage he was reading was this,

“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:  In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.”

Ahmed asked, “Tell me, who is the prophet talking about: himself or some other?” Philip grabbed his chance. Using this passage as his text, he preached Jesus to him. Ahmed said, “Let’s walk.” They climbed down walked the dirty worn path going the oposite direction of the joggers. As they continued down the road, they came to a pipe sticking out of the ground the inmates could use to get a drink of water. Ahmed  said, “Here’s water. Why can’t I be baptized?” He was no Baptist preacher but Phil knew the Disciples and Apostles did it so Philip baptized him on the spot. Ahmed smile and said, “Now I understand why I had to come here.” Then they went on down the road, Ahmed as happy as he could be, went on to explain, “I was being framed in my country. Some very bad men were imbezzeling money and to keep from getting caught they were trying to blame me, the financial secretary. So I tried to come to America but they were still after me, found me and framed me still, thus, here I am. I have been taking a personal inventory, questioning my own faith and seeking answers. Today I’ve found the answer.” Phil thought of P.T., the Hindu man that developed a relationship with Christ while in jail. Now a Muslim, on his own,  came to this same relationship with Jesus.  Phil thought, ‘Lord, I never thought the mission field would be a prison yard.’ Ahmed said, “I need to know more. It is like a seed was planted a while back and today the first little sprout has come up. The sun, it feels better. Things make more sense now but how can I grow? This soil we are in is not very good for becoming like Jesus Christ.” Phil shared with his new brother. “The soil this seed is in is in your heart, not out here in the yard. No one can take it away. If you keep feeding on God’s word…” Phil looked down at the Bible gripped in Ahmed’s hand, “You will continue to grow into a full grown tree that produces good fruit, like Christ. Others will see that, like the moon reflects the sun.” “I gotta write that down!” Phil laughed, “yep we are family now. We’ll find others and continue to grow together. ” Ahmed told Phil of a Bible study some of the men did, seperate from the Chapel services. “When we pray at the end, be sure to join hands in the circle. It is taken as a sign of disrespect if you don’t. ” Then he asked Phil, “Are there lots of rules and things to memorize in this faith?  In that Bible study group, at the end, all the men recite what they call, ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ I am  trying to memorize it,  I have a book mark here in my Bible with it written on it.” Phil replied,  “No rules, just right.” Ahmed wasn’t sure if it was okay to laugh.  Phil recalled there may be cultural differences that wouldn’t translate well. “Ya ever hear of outback?” Ahmed asked, “Is that in the Old Testament? ” ‘Oh boy, better be straight up with him’, thought Phil,  “Haah, no, sorry it’s ah…listen religion can be awful confessing Ahmed. I recommend you read the book of John, in the New Testament, and realize this is God’s Word and it can come to life in you. His Spirit resides in you now and He will let you know how He wants you to live for Him. He will continue to change your very nature.  Check everything against His Word and enjoy His unconditional love, His mercy. Religion can make people begin to act in a way that is just pleasing to others but not necessarily pleasing to God. People who are eager to please their fellow men and come across acceptable to God can become bind. Many times religion puts them in chains, makes us…prisoners. Some may even change and perform well in their outward behavior, however,  when you fall in love with God’s Son things change within you and He works His way out. When you live in His grace and accept what He has done you are less worried about what you do and you more focused and being like Him, pleasing to Him. Grace is free and frees you. You can not earn it with attendance and how much you know or how much you do. When in a relationship with Christ  He’ll let your gut know what’s best for you and how He wants you to be, then as a result you will do somethings to help others, not become more religious doing a bunch of activities but sincerely develop into a person He can and will use. His desires will out weigh your desires. You may not see examples,  true examples in other people but you will always see Him in His Word.” “I want to be an example, to be like Jesus,  even in here.” Phil patted him on the back, “Especially in here.” “TIME!!!” Yelled the guard over the P.A.

CHAPTER 5 

GROOMING 

The men came in and just as in jail the showers were full with everything but hot water. Unlike jail there was one big shower area. This was more like a 1980’s high school locker room,  before all the accusation against teachers getting their jolly and students touching each other in the shower or being put on trial for being a bully. Phil was thankful there were not stales with walls that could hide sodomizing acts. He wished there was some place between some privacy and a completely open area. The toilet stalls did have waist high walls which were high enough to keep people from seeing your ass but with no front door and visibility so people would be seen if they were standing.  There were no urinals but plenty of camodes that served the same purpose.  He knew many of the men believed that peeing on your feet while taking a shower would prevent athletes foot. It didn’t matter, he was going to wear his slides, they needed to be washed anyway. Until he was brought a pair of close toed shoes this foot wear was multipurpose.  While he waited for the shower he stood next to his bunk and got to know those around him a little better. Ironically the conversation turned toward a different kind of grooming. “Eve’ hearda’ makina’bunny? “, Asked Walter, a young man one bunk over. “You means’ Rabbit”, came a Correction from the guy balanced on the edge of the rack above Walter. “Yeah, whatev’, you know grooming someone?” Phil got a little nervous but maintained control. He had heard the phrase, ‘shooting the bunny’, as a code for someone farting. Phil replied, “Sounds sick.”  “Nah, it ain’t sexual or nuttin'”, Nick joined in the conversation.  Nick was on the bottom bunk below and next to Phil, in between Walter and him. He was an older gentleman,  around 65 and had some tattoos that looked to be just as old, faded and evolved into a blobs of ink on his forearms. “This my first time in prison. ” admitted Phil. Nick said, “Awe it ain’t nothin’ you just gotta stay alert and keep your wits. Watch out more for the overtly friendly ones more than the obviously mean hard headed thug life, that’d be my advice. ” Walter narked, “Nick been in fo’ life, in and outta diff’ jails and a few prison’, ain’t ya Nick?” “Yeah but this one one with the most options,  cept’ in solitary,  they redoin’ it and need better time keeping for there. It like they just drop n’ fo’get you in there.” Walt’s bunk mate got back to the initial subject,  “That fine wid’ me but people be making Rabbits in dare’ too!” Walter still thought it was called bunny hole or something like that. “What’s this rabbit thing?” Asked Phil, I may as well find out. “GROOMING! “, Nick shouted loud enough to set off a few loud WOOTS, CAT CALLS, WHISTLES AND DOG BARKS in response. Phil waited for more from Nick’s expert on hand experience. “Ya know when someone grooming you, they really  nice, seem sincere,  become all buddy buddy, then you owe them something for being a ‘friend’!” Walt’s bunk mate, Jimmy jump in with what he considered a perfect example,  “While in solitary,  when they was letting people get out to cages for one hour a day there was a inmate..” “NO HE WAS A CON!” Added Walter. Nick added, “Con ARTIST! ” Jimmy continued,  “yeah he was! He some how was talkin’ to this one gua’ enough and CON VINCENT him that he inn’cent and needed new shoes, shirt, pants, sox, even BVDS but a different type material cause this prison clothes causin’ him a rash. He even got a pair a baseball hat.” Phil was listening.  Walter began to jump with excitement, “Then tell em’ What he did!” “I is fool, let me tell em’ man! You always getan’ my way.”  Jimmy went on, “dens’ when he was done being in da’ hole and returned to Gen. Pop. Block he finda’ ways’ ta’ still talk to da’ same gad’ he wa’ talking wid’ while in da’ cages. Just so happens he also talkd’ ta’ da’ gauds’ that first gad’ was friends wif’, you see what I sayin’?” Phil got past Jimmy’s slang and accent and knew when he heard what sounded like , ‘god’ Jimmy was saying, ‘guard’. Phil nodded. Nick and Walter were almost in unison, “Grooming more than ONE.” Jimmy smiled,  “dat’ right, ya see, he wa’ playin’ da’ whole field. He had links and cam’ ‘cross as a really nice guy, in on fall’scharges and got to enough of em’ so he up fo’ a work detail, afta’ he done gots a new type shirt, pans, shoes, even hat!” Walter couldn’t contain himself and as he spoke Jimmy just gave up and grabbed his toiletrie bag to make sure he had what was needed for his shower.  Walter took over, “dat’s right and while out pick’n up garbage on side a da road what really hepped’ hm’ was one a dem’ dumb guards was willin’ to just look de utter’ ways’, he gots down in a ditch, changed his clos’ put on stuff dat’ don’t look like prison issue and den’ he gots outta’ theres! Whhooo he was gone bra’!” Nick said, “yeah but they caught up with him. He was nailed down just before getting into Mexico.” “But still, he got away da’ first time!” Walter cheered, rooting for the Con. Jimmy said, “ya can only run so far.” Nick added, “Even when you think you free you know they after you so whole time you’re tryin’ to live a new life you livin’ in fear and paranoia. You ain’t really free. As Jimmy,  his bunkmate Walter and Nick continued their conversation about how Con artist groom others to accomplish things for their own benefit Phil listened to these real life example and thought about how this happen outside the prison system just as much. Nick said, “I got a good one. Walter heard this but if he’ll let me I will tell you Phil.” Walter acted like he was locking his mouth and throwing away the key but also did a little fancy dancing trying to contain the adrenaline these stories built up in him. Nick began, “A CON who made mo’ money in here dan’ on da street, day’ called em’ Chamel, short for Chameleon.” Walter broke his sealed lips, “Oh dis’ a good one!” Jimmy stopped gathering things. Nick froze and looked up at the ever moving Walter. “Sorry but dis’ one eve’betta’!” He snickered and relocated his lips, this time putting the invisible key in his top Shirt pocket smiling without opening his moth to show his teeth. “So..”, Nick returned to his story as he eyeballed Walter and glanced at Jimmy shaking their heads and  asked, “How you put up with him? ANYWAYS, this cat got his nickname cause, like a Chameleon, he could change and become enough like that other person and identify with where they were coming from, what they were use to and what he knew they liked to the point of making them feel like he was more like them and less like anything they wouldn’t buy into. The dude would do things that seemed innocent but end up deadly. ” Again Walter busted out, “Tell em’ about the preacher guy.” “I will if you shut up…I mean this guy was good. He’d get an old grams to mail things for him…” Jimmy stepped in this time, “Like Sam…” Nick glared, “Walter rubbin’ off on you?!” Walter laughed and said, “see it hard when you knows so much to not tell. Sam had girls comin’ in and he get dem’ ta’ mails stuff, so it not checked by prison befo’ it go out n’ it be hits on people’s,  deals and a tiny written list on outside jobs,  sometime da’ instructions was to beat da girl deliverin’ da’ message cause she didn’t wanna keep delivrn’! Go on now Nick, I sorry man, fo’reals.” Nick willing went on, “SO, there was this preacher,  not the regular Chaplain.  He would help, assist, the main old guy we got that does Chapel.  You know about Chapel service right?” Phil just nodded waiting for more. “Well, we get to go to Chapel and we got a good old, old, older than me, old man who does good but he had a guy helpin’ him and the prison rules were to not bring in anything but your I.D. This assistant, he wa’ a grown man, but he brought in a cell phone. I guess they trust him and didn’t check em’ one day. So, he layed it down,  turn his back and Chamel,  WHO THE Assistant PREACHER GUY TRUSTED, snagged it. By time they finds it id’ change hands several times. The preacher guy who helped our chaplain didn’t report it lost but they traced it back to him and the main Chaplain,  our Chaplain almost got linked in like he part of getting this to inmates. Finally the assistant admit He brought it in against rules, he gone now and not allowed back to make same mistake.” Nick stopped, then added, “NOW I done!” Jimmy said, “That guy Chamel’,  he was gettin’ things in and out all da’ time! He would get good clean guards to believe some rules were made to be broken or some da’ rules were not dat’ big a deal to break. Like you knows, a white lie, what would be dirt was not really dat’ bad. He had severa’ guards thinkin’ smoking ok right?  You smoke, eve’cigs. Phil?” Phil answered, “Use too. Sometimes I miss it.” “Well, you think it wrong or something that be bad to get someone too high or cause them to be off da’ chain?” Phil said, “no, it actually may calm them down and keep them from loosing their mind sometimes.” Nick interupted this time, “Exactly,  that true but IN HERE that cigarette becomes something a man would kill another man for or to bet or pay off a debt from gambling over a game or somthin’!” Walter added, “Saw a guy start a fire with one one time, tried smoke us out. Neve’got flame but rolls of toilet paper gave serious smoke screen and gave gad’s a haz’ of a time ta’ puts’ id’ out.” Phil understood,  “It becomes currancy that only some have so then leads to fights, jelousy,  more gambling and…” He didn’t need to finish. “In here pssshhh,” Nick said, “The list goes on and on. Good things become a tool for bad. Can’t have nicer shoes or a nicer comb, all prison issue to try to keep things equal.But you watch out for these people who try win you over by being just nice. Seems like that somethin’ freely received and so can give it away fo’ free but in here loyalty,  commitment,  kindness it all comes with conditions and some type pay back n’ it ain’t enough to get kindness back for kindness, no they expect blood, literally or a favor that cost more than monetary exchan’… you know what I’m sayin’?” Jimmy asked, “If you give away you lunch trey cause you don’t like da’ food and got’s some’ betta’ from comm’ssary you got’s get somennn’ fo’ dat’ trey, pills, different bunk, mo’ time in shower, SUMMTHIN’!” “Yeah I hear ya. Jail was the same way. Sometimes an unfair trade market but try to be wise in exchange.” Phil answered.  Walter who wasn’t always good at this but tried said, “Now I may give you a hand full, well one big glob, of shampoo fo’ nuthin’ but I not going to give you my bottle. Or, like I,  like I um, I may say, here a bowl, clean bowl fo’ sm’raymon noodles but you ain’t own nuthin’ back but ya clean da’ bowl and be sure, be sho’ fo’ show to return dat’ bow’!” Nick thought of another example of grooming, “you guys remember the Con who got others to kill people for him?” Jimmy asked, “which one?” And laughed, “yeah, I know a few a doze!” Walter argeed. Nick clarified,  “No da’ guy that in prison now, another prison somewheres’ els’ Mashing or Massion, MARILYN Massion!” “Charles Masons?”, Walter suggested. Jimmy got the prize, “Charles Mansion!” “Yeah, yeah, that the dude. And Ted Bundy or something or other.” Walter idolized criminal who got away with it but realized these were ones who were caught. He still loved to hear how they did it and listened to see if Nick was about to reveal their dirty deeds. He did, “The one guy looked like a maniac, now has tat. on forehead, he some how was on a mission to kill people and he made these young kids feel accepted,  appreciated,  and won dem’ ova’ and they just do what he says do. Then the Ted guy, he lookin’ like innocent computa’ geek and ends up eatin’ people, canblizm’!” This didn’t interest Walter,  his high came from Bank robbing, making money and fooling people to get more stuff not take lives. Phil stayed in the conversation,  “Seems like you never can tell with people by looking at their outsides. There are even cults out there that aren’t killing people or stealing but they are controlling others, taking their life and money, convincing them they need to live to support the cause while pocketing more and more for themselves and in exchange fooled into think their leader, just another human, has supernatural power so that when they do die they will be rewarded. They take, take, take while their believers,  followers, members give, give, give under false hope they will get something back. They are so willing to give because they really believe they will somehow get points in the after life but in reality they are never able to truly be free and enjoy what even this life offers.” Jimmy stood up, “my turn in shower, you next Walt but before I go, nice talk guys, now I paranoid! ” They all laughed. Nick added, “You be al’ight but don’t bend over!” Walter shouted, “don’t drop da’ soap!” Phil jested too, “Don’t give any favors either!”They all laughed even louder, even Jimmy.

CHAPTER 6

JESUS WAS A REBEL 

Ahmed came over to Phil, “Did you get a shower?” “Not yet, just really need a quick rinse or at least wash off my feet. I’ve noticed the line some how flows in this direction following from bed to bed and I only have a few ahead of me.” “Very observant! You see what I got?” Phil looked at a big bowl Ahmed held under his arm and covered with his towel. He laid it in the ground, “Can’t do it in here the right way, anymore than how you baptized me but, you know what to do, I’m just giving you the water. I am on Chapter 13” With that Ahmed walked away. Phil flipped to John Chapter 13, ‘Jesus washed the feet of His disciples’ He looked up to thank Ahmed for the good deed he concealed so well. Ahmed made eye contact from across the room and returned a small smile.  As Phil put his feet in the water he thought about how creative believers need to be in this cement jungle of legalism mixed with irrational codes that were  constantly changing. He thought back to the inmate, Jason a.k.a Chaos, an enemy he tried to secretivly reign kindness on and how even that was abused by the mad man. The water was warm and comforting. The warmth flowed up causesing goose bumps on his arms and relaxing his back and shoulders. With his mind put at easy he thought,   ‘If we only knew who was swine so that we didn’t cast our pearls before them…be careful of woles in sheep’s clothing…be as wise as a snake but as gentle as a dove…only take what you need…eat what is given…take only the clothes on your back…if someone ask you to walk one mile walk two…’ Nick sat up as Walter shouted,  “Jimmy back, he holdin’ up two! Our turn, you next ah…what yo’ name?” “Phil.” Nick introduced himself as he went toward the showers. Jimmy noticed the bowl at Phil’s feet. “That good idea, I keep a bowl filled to wash my hands. It warmer than that shower water fo’sho’! Wooooo! At leas’ room temp! Hey, member Nick talk ’bout chaplain n’ services? That tonight after dinner.  It almost always on Thursday night, later. The old man good, good Bible share but he don’t preach.  People come in fo’ dat’ some loud LOUD showtime type preachers some more,whacha’ call it…Pastors like, not chuch’ Reverend but they talk without sweatin’ No yellin’ What they gots’ to say. Mo’ like white folk chuuuurrrch, not like mines ‘Church’back home woohoo! I tell you we say ‘CHUCH’ WIF’ NO ‘R’, mo’ like ‘ Chich’!” “Yeah I know whatcha’ mean, lots of different styles but when the meaning matches the Bible I can get past the ‘how’ it is delivered.” “Yep, focus on the creator not da’ container, and ya hope da man living in  real life but cha’ neve’ know ya’ jus’ gotta’ take his word fo’ it. I try apply it but I mess up sometime. ” “We all do.” Phil confessed. “I try n’ try but some time my oldman, he come into play n’ I gots to have me a lil’ fun so I give in n’ den feels’ guilty n’ some time I give up all together and say I ain’t eve’ gunna’ try but I love Jesus too much, I wan’ bees’ like he wa’, He assured real man n’ gave peep’s realz’ hope, not jus’ heaven.” “Amen!” Jimmy repeated Phil as he smiled with assurance,  “AMEN MY BROTHER! Come to ‘Chich’ tonight with us.” “I plan on it!”, Said Phil as he dried his feet.”There be SHOWERS OPEN!” someone yelled and the conversation was over.

After the men all had a chance to get cleaned up they heard,”CHAPEL TIIIIIIIIME!!!!” Phil watched several men jump, they were ready, Bibles in hand. Some were even fixing their hair wanting look the best they could, probably the same ones who would normally dress their best but today every one was in jump suit orange. Next week everyone would be in light blue and the week after that grey from head to mandatory toe. Some even had dress shoes on. Phil thought back again to jail where everyone only had the same plastic slippers.  It seemed like prison was a little more organized,  run smoother and fill with less, well, punk kids who just couldn’t get how to get along with others into their heads. There were young guys, very young, 18 and up but most of the older guys put em’ in line and helped them mature or at least stop acting the fool around and toward each other. They may be a menace to Society but in this house they’d get a beat down if they act up, like living with big mama, “Not up in here, NOT UP IN HERE!” Too often the prison staff would punish the hole block if just a few were breaking the rules, breaking the law. One time Phil witnessed a fight starting and ended by Roy shouting three words, “COME ON NOW!”He learned there were two other words that would question if a fight was in store, “Alright Now.” And one word that garunteed a fight, that word was when anyone called anyone, “bitch.” But right now it appeared that the majority was longing to hear God words and not because it was required, because they thirst for it.

As the men  entered, the Chaplain greeted each one. Phil noticed Ahmed with the same fascination he recalled P.T. having. He was reading the whipe board, “Jesus was a rebel” Phil asked, “First time to Chapel? ” “No but first time since I’ve been born again. Hey, that true, that in the Bible? ” He asked Phil, “Oh it’s in there, wait n’ see.”

Chapel time was one hour and never long enough. Just before the Chaplain started Phil overheard one on the inmates explaing why he didn’t smoke, “I want my lungs to be pink when they fry me.” Another inmate said, “But they do the penalty with leathel injection, not electric chair.” To that he said, ” Well, in that case I won’t shoot up so my vain will be good to go.” They chuckled,  then the Chaplain called them to look at what the Lord Jesus was like according to his own words as recorded in Matthew 23.

The Chaplain gave the reference of Matthew chapter 23  and the room filled with the flutter of pages. Phil thought, ‘sounds like the wings of angels! ‘ Men all around the room immediately raised their hands to read. The Chaplain called Jimmy by name. He read loud and clear,   “Matthew 23, then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;  therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.  They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.  But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.  They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues’…” “Great, stop there at verse 6 Jimmy.” Thanked the Chaplain.  Phil was amazed how well Jimmy read, even the word phylacteries. The Chaplain was just then giving an explanation of the word, “Those were these small leather boxes holding God’s Word. They wore these fastened on their hands and foreheads because they were interpreting God’s instructions to fasten God’s Word on their hands and foreheads literally.  Some one look up EXODUS…” It seemed as if almost all of them were in a race to look it up. “The first one who finds it stand and read it.”, challenged the Chaplain. Phil had see excitement like this before at children’s summer Bible camps or what some called Vacation Bibles Schools. The inmates were as eager as those children but without the reward of getting a sticker, candy bar or props from the teacher. A guy in the back row jumped to his feet before the Chaplain finished spitting out,  “chapter  13 Verses 9.” “Yep!” The inmate the proudly announced,  “This from da KING JAMES VERSION…And it shall be… for a sign…. unto thee… upon THINE hand, and for a memorial…between thine eyes, that the Lord’s…law may be… in THY mouth: for with… a strong hand… HATH the Lord brought thee out of Egypt.” “Thanks you John! I am not interested in giving a history lesson to all of you. Many of you know more about the Bible than I have learned in my 50 years of study and service to Him. I am here to tell you another reason why I love Jesus, perhaps you’ll agree. He is God’s son but even how he dressed was like a common man. He knew it was better to have God’s Word and ways inside your mind.” He pointed between his eyes. “Put it into practice with your hands, not just literally connect a portion of it in a box and literally wear it without putting it into action out of dedication and love for The Lord. The people Jesus was talking about in  Matthew  23 were literally fastening God’s word, scriptures, in this actual box on their forehead   just to so they could show people how Holy they were. This portion of Scripture,  turn back to Matt. 23, it paint a very, very clear picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. ” The men turned back. The man next to the guy who just read shot his hand up. “Questions?  NEIL? You have a question? ” The chaplain called. “No I just wanna read next.” “Sure Matt 23 pick up where Jimmy stopped.  Read verse 7 to 12. “Mine the NIV.” The Chaplain said, “anytime version is fine, you will see they all say the same thing just with a little different wording but it all has the same meaning and purpose. ” Neil read, “Matthew 23:7‭-‬12,  they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.    ‘But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers.  And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.  Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah.  The greatest among you will be your servant.  For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” “Good, thanks you Neil. Here is a question for anyone to answer…’IS IT WRONG TO CALL A SPIRITUAL LEADER FATHER?'” A few hands shot up. They waited to be called on. The Chaplain added, “I don’t know all your names but JOE, I KNOW YOU ARE CATHOLIC AND WANT YOU TO GIVE YOUR ANSWER. So, Joe you share FIRST.” Joe said, “Do I have to stand?” “No.” Joe said, “We call our leaders ‘Father ‘ but it is because we are all in a family, the family of God and the priest is a lil’ more than just our brother. So I say it is okay and right for us to call them father.” The other hands went back up, some of them never went down even while Joe was speaking. Phil loved how they waited their turn to speak. The Chaplain went on,  “Yeah, good answer, from your heart Joe. Do you have something to add? Sorry I don’t know your name.” He said as he pointed to the next man with his hand straight up in the air. “I am Jake. Um I think the point is, Jesus tryin’ to say to em’ and to us…um that don’t call em’ Father like to misuse or to like make em’ think they in control of eve’thin’ like days’ da’ big daddy. That sometime push they button and give em’ big egos.” “Very good…Jake?” “Yeah.” The chaplain said, “let me jot down your name, it will help me remember it. Okay…” He pointed to another man who was patient but eager to speak. The man stood to his feet and stated, “I am new too. My name Smith but nick name Makin’. I wanted to say titles and labels can be dangerous.  Some get so caught up in sayin’ ‘respect due cause I dis’ and I dat’ and I all that and a bag-a-chips n’ you HAVE GOT to call me, address me, with my higher up position label or title cause I earned it. It all about pride n’seekin’ honor when really most respect n’ props go to our Heavenly Father.” He took his seat. The Chaplain was jotting down ‘Smith a.k.a. Makin’. “Great comment Makin’! Anyone else?” Some hands went down and didn’t come back up. Phil thought about raising his hand and adding something but the others hit the nail on the head and it didn’t need to be repeated.  Ahmed’s hand went up slowly. The Chaplain nodded at him. Ahmed stood slowly and tried to straighten his jump suit out, looking down as he spoke, “I am…my name is Ahmed, but I am no longer Muslim.  I would like to say the principle Jesus is emphasizing seems to be we should direct primary respect and honor toward our Heavenly Father,  like Mr. ‘Macon’ said but also if esteem for leaders or individuals with some type of influence,  money,  class levels or ah…certain accomplishments diminish our honor for The One True God,  them we have missed what is really important and miss giving Him (He pointed and looked up then made eye contact with the Chaplain) giving HIM all that is due.” He sat down slowly and hoped what he said was okay. “EXACTLY MEN! ALL OF YOU, VERY GOOD!  We need to respect each other and our leaders but not worship them or think more highly of ourselves or anyone else regardless of what office they hold.  Notice I said, ‘don’t think more highly than we ought about ourselves either. That is what happen with some of God’s people. He even gave them 7 woes. WOE!” The Chaplain raised his voice, “If you want, until we meet again, read Matthew 23 verse 13 to the end of that chapter. Note how Jesus warned the religious leaders, the Pharisees  and teachers of the law. Now remember to always look at it with 20/20 vision. What’s do I mean by that…Mark?” A guy in the middle mumbled,  “20… um… verses before and 20 um verses after. ” The chaplain addressed everyone,  “Good Mark! Everyone now, do I mean literally count 20 and only 20 before and after?” Almost all shouted, “NO!” Phil smiled.  The Chaplain pointed to him, “Your a new face to me too, what’s your name and what do you think I really mean?” “I’m Phil. You mean take in the whole picture. ” “Yes, thank you Phil.” He jotted down Phil’s name and asked, “And what was your name, next to Phil?” “AHMED!” He wrote it down, “…I thought you were saying I’m Ed…” A few men chuckled. “Welcome to the family Ahmed. That’s right, context is key men! Okay now, I would like someone to pray.” Four hands went up. “Before we pray, ah, ‘Nate, ‘Nugget’, I’d like you to pray for us but before he prays let’s all talk to the Lord and have a (he did a quick head count) a 16 way conversation with each other and the Lord. What are some short things you want to praise God for publicly here today and some things you want to admit and ask for His help with. Then ‘Nugget’,  Nick, YOU end the prayer. There will be no need to repeat all these praise reports and petitions, request,  God’s listening even now. So, who wants to start the conversation with all of us, including our Heavenly Father? ” Hands went up and the Chaplain made eye contact and called each by name. As men lifted up praise to God for letters, how their family back home was and for the simple things that they didn’t take for granted Phil realized how much he had to be thankful for. Mixed in with some of the praise was request for God’s strength, safty, guidance, healing and presence.  Phil couldn’t help but think how many times in Church meeting he felt like he and others were asking God to bless them and do things that were actually things God put within their ability, things they could do to help themselves. Before his thought jumped out of this community commune he heard an inmate say, “I was asking God to keep me sober but drinking sips of hooch just after I prayed and I know dat’ ain’t right so I needs’ God’s hep’ str’th wif’ dat’ but also needs’ ya’ll brothers to not offer it n’ holds me accnt’bull’. I caint’ takes’ just sips cause I a alcoholic n’ ain’t no such thin’ as sip fo’ me!” The Chaplain said, “ya hear that men? The Lord hears it. Say amen ONLY IF you are willing to to let Christ use you to help Miles.” Several men shout, “Amen!” Some did not but hung their heads as if they identified with the same fight. Another inmate spoke when called on, “I praise God for you Chaplain and without knowing details want us to pray fo’ yo’ family and yo’ safety in here from peep’s when tryin’ make you theys’ bunny.” “AMEN!”, seconded the chaplain,  “Some of you know we lost our associate chaplain.  A trusting man but we all have to remember we are in a war zone and in this world we have to remember rules are put in place to keep us and you safe so, yeah, thank you Mickey. I need prayer for desernment and for my family to be understanding when I may need to come in after hours or strange hours. You all know how things take us away from them because of lock downs or stuck here later than normal.” The conversation went on. A few men seemed to almost get into meddling and when called on said things like, “pray they not do lock downs and pray the food get better and pray we get more outdoor time.” One even said, “pray we get a pool up in here.” The Chaplain gave a friendly reminder,  “God meets out needs and a pool, better food, outdoors, all that is great and Lord (he kept God in the open conversation) we need you to help us keep on living with and without things, going through lock down and unpleasant routines, keeping in mind you care for us and we need accountability,  some more than others in certain areas.” Phil raised his hand, he loved that rather than interupting each other they all did that, “Praise God again Ahmed has become a Christian and pray he and I…all of us, will be able keep growing in the Lord. Also pray for my family. ” The Chaplain nodded while several men said, “Amen. ” in unison.  “Nugget, close this group talk with the Lord and ya’ll keep praying praise and petitions until we meet here, there or in the air (he pointed up). Nate got the name ‘Nugget’ because he would go into high trade whenever chicken nuggets were served. He would give away great commesary to get his hands on more than he was served. His street name was ‘Two Hits’ but since he was in prison he said he’d never go by that name again because it’s origin came from his claim to thug fame. He told men I win with two hits,  my bullet hits your head and you hit the floor. Nate prayed a short prayer without colorful decorations,  from his heart, “Heavenly Father,  so glad you are our dad….You set the example and…. you give us all that we’s need. You had done heard us and now and we knows’ fo’ sho’ you will be hearn’ us on thru’ da’ nite. In Jesus name,  AMEN.” The whole room rocked with all of the men shouting,  “AMEN!”  

Then the Chaplain read,

“We are proud that our conscience assures us that our lives in this world, and especially our relations with you, have been ruled by God-given frankness and sincerity, by the power of God’s grace, and not by human wisdom.2 Corinthians 1:12. That is from the good news, Bible men. Keep reading,  getting into The Word but also let The Word get into you. Now, we have a few minutes before our hour is up so use it wisely.

Some of them then spoke one on one with the Chaplain. Some stayed seated, some stood,  some read, others picked back up the joking they started before the service started, “…so, that’s why I really don’t do any kinda drugs I want to be in the best physical condition I can possibly be in when I die.” They enjoyed the irony they all participated in. “Like in the movie ‘Goonies’ the mom says, ‘I want the house to be really clean when they tear it down.”, Said one of the older prisoners. Some of the younger ones had no idea what movie he was referring to while others in their early 20 knew the exact scene. Another standing waiting to go back to the block said, “If I was in on da’ death penalty and knew da’ date I’d be eatin’ all da’ junk n’ neve’ worry about my body.” Another claimed, “I eat bes’ I can’ n’ workat’ cause it feel good, While I Still alive!” “Endorphins! ” yet another shouted. After ample free time mingling the Correctional Officer came to take the men back to their block.

CHAPTER 7

BED TIME READING AND WAKE UP CALL

Walter asked the bunks within hearing distance if it was okay for Jimmy to read out loud but softly?They all agreed unless it was too loud and kept them from falling asleep. With that Jimmy  read, “Before I read, this is from a brother who was in prison too…’We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part. Now that the worst is over, we’re pleased we can report that we’ve come out of this with conscience and faith intact, and can face the world—and even more importantly, face you with our heads held high. But it wasn’t by any fancy footwork on our part. It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised. Don’t try to read between the lines or look for hidden meanings in this letter. We’re writing plain, unembellished truth, hoping that you’ll now see the whole picture as well as you’ve seen some of the details. We want you to be as proud of us as we are of you when we stand together before our Master Jesus. Confident of your welcome, I had originally planned two great visits with you—coming by on my way to Macedonia province, and then again on my return trip. Then we could have had a bon-voyage party as you sent me off to Judea. That was the plan. Are you now going to accuse me of being flip with my promises because it didn’t work out? Do you think I talk out of both sides of my mouth—a glib yes one moment, a glib no the next? Well, you’re wrong. I try to be as true to my word as God is to his. Our word to you wasn’t a careless yes canceled by an indifferent no. How could it be? When Silas and Timothy and I proclaimed the Son of God among you, did you pick up on any yes-and-no, on-again, off-again waffling? Wasn’t it a clean, strong Yes? Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete. Now, are you ready for the real reason I didn’t visit you in Corinth? As God is my witness, the only reason I didn’t come was to spare you pain. I was being considerate of you, not indifferent, not manipulative. We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.’ 2 Corinthians 1:8‭-‬24, THAT from the Message translation. My friend sent it to me.” Phil was just one bunk away and truly enjoyed it.

The next day Phil was awake before most of the men so he pulled out his Bible from under his pillow and read the first part of 2 Corinthians,  above version 8 that Jimmy read from as they fell asleep last night. What stood out to him was this, ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.’ His mind went back to a former inmate he was in Jail with, Lil’John.  He grabbed his journal,  also from under his pillow, and jotted some notes He wrote, ‘Paul, no stranger to prison. If the Lord allows me to get out of here I will be sure to still write.’ Then he turned the page and began a letter to Lil’John he hoped was either still at the county jail or who would get the letter forwarded to him if he was finished serving time there. Phil was transported to prison before Lil’John,  Pip, P.T., Guy, Trevor, and Trevor’s bunk mate were sent home or transferred to prison. He’d write them later but focused on Lil’John’s letter first, blocking out the ever increasing distractions as others woke. Just then he heard, “Fresh meat comin’ in ya’ll!” It wasn’t a reference to ham and eggs but toward the new inmates being brought in. Phil didn’t jump up and running to the window but several men did. He heard them saying, “Oh, that a BIG one, hope he in our block if he cool, ain’t no one mess wid’ me it he my new body gad’!” Another voice said, “look at the youngan’ He jus’ bally 18 I bets.” Others began to take and make bets. It seemed like some would gamble on anything, using anything for currancy:  food, pillows, push ups. Then others upped the anti with some contraband bets. The new inmates gazed and gaucked at the window until those getting off the transportation van were out of sight and into the building.  Phil concentrated on his letter until the outter door to their block opened. Jimmy was just waking and said, “Here we go, now we see who we gettin’.” Phil noticed Roy get up and go to the door directly into their block as the outer one closed behind the newcomers.  In the foyer area the guards finished the last of their intake process before entering.  Phil looked and couldn’t believe his eyes. He ripped the almost finished letter out as he said, “looks like I don’t need to mail this after all, I’ll hand deliver it. The new inmate was Lil’John.
CHAPTER 8

WELCOME TO MY HOME

Roy welcomed Lil’John as he did Phil and pointed  out an empty rack. Phil wondered when John might see him but watched from a distance to see if he noticed.  All new comers were like jelly spread on a piece of toast when they first came in. You felt so exposed and vulnerable.  Not only were you in a new home you were also in a home that wasn’t homey and one that wasn’t yours. In the transfer from jail to prison you didn’t always have all your belongings, those were check in seperate. Lil’John’s statue spoke volumes. Without a word people sized him up and quickly realized they were not even the garage compared to the whole house.  Most men were a hall closet and John was a mansion. Phil had not felt like this place was his home, just living in a closet but not as a stowaway, more like a new pet, trying to see what rooms there were and where he was not welcome. Was it okay to sit on the bed or were you only allowed to lay on the pillow designated,  ‘Scruffy’s bed, thought Phil.  Surprisingly prison seemed better than jail in many ways. It was as if, ‘we are all in this together for a long haul so we best make the best of it.’ Jail was full of men who had not had serious consequences for there actions or the reality of the other shoes dropping had no effect on them yet.  This wasn’t true for all of them but there was something about the severity and finality in prison that seemed to sink in a little deeper with the men that helped them mature and develop a sense of desiring more in life than communal living and lack of freedom. The simple pleasures of going to the fridge or making your own coffee, let alone taking a walk outside were lost in here. This home had a never ending summer camp from hell feel to it. Many of the campers made it their mission to take everything they could and make sure you didn’t have even your basic needs met. People who have never been here had no idea what it was like to use the bathroom not just with a sibling pounding on the door but watching you and possibly knocking you up side the head. Phil thought back to solitary confinement, it was no better. Being locked in a small room with no interaction from another human being has an effect on a person’s mind, no matter how much of an introvert or loner they may be. You almost don’t feel human. He understood some people don’t or can’t get along with others in society but he wasn’t so sure segregation was the answer.  What was the answer? No one knew, because there were no easy solutions. The point of correcting some one was completely seperate for punishing them for their behavior. In some cases solitary confinement made those with mental health issues worse. People, institutions,  discipline could not change or fight a person’s will. Only a person willing to change would truly change. The prison offered classes and even continued education but it seemed to Phil that God almighty,  the creator allowed everyone freewill so when they did submit to Him it was sincere,  not because they were made that way. He pondered a few moments about his marriage.  What made their love stronger was that his wife was willing to stick with him when she had a choice not too. If she decided to divorce him or see other men while he was away that would crush him. The fact that she could but didn’t caused him to see her dedication and deeper love and commitment to him. Phil’s mind raced over all these things as he was still watching Lil’John. He finally got off his bunk, folding the letter. Lil’John was getting to know the men around his new living space and before long was surrounded by men from all over the block. Roy was holding his hand up from time to time stopping the questions and Phil wondered if he would fool his old friend with the, ‘I’m Ed’, trick. Sure enough Ahmed moved in that direction.  Phil came up in the oposite direction,  knowing Lil’John would be looking at Ahmed. Sure enough the household inside joke stood the test and Phil heard Lil’John saiying, “OH, I THOUGHT YOU SAYIN’ I’M ED!” They all had a good laugh and while laughing Phil stuck out his hand and greeted Lil’John, “and I am Phil!” John turned, looked and pulled Phil in for a bear hug. “I knew you was here! I hoped I got in same block, this is awesome!” Lil’John knew where Phil was transferred to but Phil had no way of knowing where his friend would be sent or even the outcome of his trial. Phil handed him the letter. “I was going to mail this to you! Now I can write my wife twice as much rather than write you.” Lil’John had his back turned on every one and realized it was best to not close anyone out because it would be hard to get back in. “Dis dude was wif’ me in county.” John told the other men. Another inmate said, “I seen you before too but can’t ‘member where from.” Lil John agreed,  “yeah you looks familar’ too. Was in here but block C befo’.” The guy smiled,  “yeah you John too, they calls you Lil’John! ” Lil’John chuckled,  “yeah, oxy’morons! HA HA!” Roy broke everyone up by giving the suggestion,  “alright let’s let em’ settle in, no more questions ya nosey lil’ campers.”  Phil thought it best to give him time and space too, “Catch up over breakfast with you brother. This a good block, good out weighs the bad.” Lil’John smiled and gave a fist bump, “n’ I out weigh them alllllll.”

CHAPTER 9

THOSE AIN’T GRITS 

By the time breakfast came all the men were up and ready. There had been some type of insident in the shower/bathroom area and with the arrival of Lil’John all of them were already been roused. Phil was happy to have someone else he already knew in these living quarters.  Breakfast was a hard boiled egg, hash Browns and what looked like grits. The old friends were able to sit together OVER this morning meal and they were thankful for the meal and more. Most men just complained as they threatened to go on a hunger strike. Lil’John had his eyes fixed on what looked like grits. Phil was stirring his and couldn’t contain a ‘verp’, “Ah…oh man. I don’t know about those.”, He let out. Lil’John had to ask, “I don’t mean to complain but, all meals…ah, like this.” ‘Nugget’ was close by and said, “No, they musta’ got a new cook or sumthin’…if ya eve’ get chicken nuggets n’ wanna trade I got commesary: coke, chips, beef jerky…” Before he gave his whole inventory Phil introduced him, “John, this  is ‘Nugget’ guess how he got his name?” Lil’ John smiled and nodded. Even a fist bump wasn’t expected while at a meal especially when they were so perplexed over the grits. Just then a guy yelled, “NO! NO UNT’ UNNNN!!!” Everyone looked. The guy next to him was standing looking over his shoulder,  “IT  IS MOVIN’!!!!!” Roy went to the Officer’s Office. “You HAVE to come out and see what they brought, THIS ain’t right!” The two morning Officers responded. One came out and over to the complaint table. Phil looked down at his grits for any movement. Everyone heard the guards call for the other guard to come see too. The second one said, “What?!? NO!  You’re right, let me take this trey. This ain’t right. Men, no one eat anything. If you already did…” He looked at the other guard then finished,  “IF you already did, you ain’t gonna die but if you need to excuse yourself and go to the commode you free to.” Normally bathrooms were closed during meals and only open until everyone was done. It had something to do with crowd control.  The second guard went on, “This happened once before and we got everyone a better meal because of it so don’t let your anger ruin any chance of them making up for this. Be mature, act like men and I’ll go to the top with this, may get some free commesary,  ah…I don’t know but someone f…mucked up and we’ll get em’ to make up for it.” Hearing, ‘it happen before’ was not comforting but knowing they may get something better sounded fair enough but couldn’t take away the feeling of having a million bugs crawling inside and out of their skin. It got really loud and Roy had to take charge. He stood up on the table and the guards even helped him up under the circumstances. Roy raised his hands as his voice commanded attention,  “COME ON NOW, MEN!!! THEY GONNA MAKE THIS RIGHT ONE WAY OR DA’ODDER BUT DON’T START ACTIN’ DA’ FOOL OR THEN WE GET SHIT FOR BREAKFAST AND IN DEEP SHIT LATER! ACT RIGHT NA’ YA’LL COME ON NOW. WE CAN DEAL WID’DIS’.” The men calmed down and knew Roy would back them in a full fledged riot if it was the right thing to get their rights met. Phil and especially Lil’John along with a few other new guy’s on the block had no idea how Roy became the block boss but put faith in him. Majority ruled. Some how Roy was listened to and highly respected.  Out of 40 inmates, and who knows how many came and went during Roy’s stay, he was allowed to hold the position of authority higher than the staff there. Even when an inmate wouldn’t listen to a guard they would listen to Roy. Lil’John had seen it before. Sometimes a guy had mob outside the system and threatened killing family if they didn’t obey him on the inside. Some men out fought or beat their way to the top while in there. Others offered high rewards to get their place of power. Lil’John knew he would have time to figure out what made these men listen to him so well but didn’t really care why. He was just glad there was someone that seemed to take a positive lead, representing them well right now. Lil’John leaned over to Phil and whispered,  “As long as he leads in the right direction I’ll follow but man, if they listen to him dis’ good and it in wrong direction I don’t care who he is I ain’t goin’ dat’ ways.” Phil smiled,  “We are on the same page there brother.” The guard took the trey into his office, snapped photos and the other was on the phone. Within twenty minutes the warden was there himself. He tried to explain,  “Before I tell you what happen here or how this could happen let me tell you we are going to hand out all the honeybuns you can eat, no saving some for later but as many as you want over this next hour.” Trustees began to go to each table and hand out handfuls of honeybuns. Others brought around fresh juice and other brought coffee, a real treat. The coffee was just under hot but not lukewarm or cold. They never got really hot coffee, it was too easily used like a weapon. The warden tried to explain how this predicament happen. He was equally appalled by, “We removed three men who allowed this disgusting mess, one of the cooks, the man who preps and stores food and the man who checks the food going out. One of them should have caught it.” Roy was the only one not grabbing honeybuns, without a mouth full already and with enough guts to interrupt, “What was ‘IT?!’ OR do we not wanna know?!” The warden was in touch with inmates enough to know who Roy was and how he was able to keep things running, even if not by the penitentiary’s traditional rules.”Roy, men, you don’t really want to know but I think it is only fair to let you know.” He took a breath, “sometimes,  in the food industry larvae gets into food.  It happens but mainly because things are not stored correctly or put away correctly. Saying I am sorry is not enough,  sometimes being sorry is not enough but I can do my best to make sure it doesn’t happen again and try to make up for it with this breakfast.” Roy shouted back, “FAIR TRADE WARDEN! ” Most the men shouted, “TRADE, FAIR TRADE!”The warden showed he was impressed by their unity and almost took a step back showing he was slightly intimidated.  The two Officers with him gripped their pepper ball guns. The block guards were use to hearing that unison chant and knew that was this group’s way of squashing any repercussions when they felt things were rectified after they were cheated.The Warden gave Roy a nodded and a half a smile and left.

“BOOM, racketta racketta,racketta, BOOM BOOM…BOOM, RACK,BOOBOOM, RACK” -the percussion echoed as the inmates hammered the plexiglass windows like a bass drum on a sugar high. Others followed with the back beat of chess pieces and any light enough objects they could get to sound like a snare drum. A few danced. Phil thought, ‘Now I know why they don’t give us all you can eat honeybuns all the time.  However,  the entertainment is amusing.’

CHAPTER 10

WHAT YOU Writing?

Phil felt like if that Psyc. Dr. was in here, one of us, he may finally realize how to  offer better council. Does one have to go through the worse things in order to help the worse of us?, He thought. He found himself being careful what he wrote in his journal.  Some men would ask, thinking he was writing about them. Some even asked, ‘MY name in there?’ However,  most of what Phil journaled was about Jesus.  He didn’t bother writing about people and problems,  he was more interested in writing about the one man who was truly Supernatural and had the solutions. Phil knew human nature because he was not only part of it but in the middle of it. Communally living with men convicted, actually guilty or not, they are all on the same ship out in the middle of an ocean, fish in a pond as he heard a guy say in jail. Each block, pod, unit, individual locked cell contains men, human beings: some strong, some weak, some hard, some soft, some criminally insane, others more pure than some of Jesus’ 12 followers ever were, especially Judas.  Some of them, even if they were on an island by themselves or in a monastery  full of monks they would still be dangerous to themselves if not also detramental to others. The real source of issues were pride, men trying to be what they think it means to be a real man. Too many are trying to measure up to others or themselves.  In gaining selfish pleasure, not necessarily sexual in nature, the men that caused the serious problems were ones who tried to be their own master. Those who tried to create a name for themselves were really tearing themselves apart. In their effort to create a name for themselves they were finding it led to dirt. Phil thought about how God made man from dust and how we all turn back into dust. The song “Dust in The Wind” by the band Kansas went through his mind but he changed the words “…nothing last forever, ‘not the earth nor sky.” He looked around the room. He thought about the group of men in the Chapel Service. Many of them were putting into practice the very lifestyle they read about but others, no matter how hard they tried they just couldn’t seem to do it. No matter how many A.A., N.A. or other meetings or classes they went to they just kept going back to that drink, drug or other vices. No matter what religion they tried they couldn’t stop living just for themselves.  For Phil what made the difference was continuing in a relationship with Christ.  When challenged with a debate on what the Bible said and didn’t say Phil would just say, “You can refute the Bible all you want but you really can’t tell me anything that is going to go against my own personal experience.”  He knew some didn’t believe him when he told them he had the presence of The Holy Spirit in his life. However,  given time, getting to know Phil or reading his journal showed people the real power only the creator could give. The key was, Phil explained when asked, “If that person claims the power or abuses the power given then they too fall short of His glory and that only pays, leads to, death.” One inmate shared how he got locked up for  3 to 5 years for illegal gambling, “laundering the money leads to a much longer sentence, sometimes life!”, he explained , “but when dealing with your soul and eternity the thing that kept or keeps everyone from resting in peace was their own will not accepting what God wants and has always wanted for mankind, a relationship with Him not just while alive but after this life we see here and now.” It was obvious that outside elements,  substances, are hard enough to battle against but the issues people have within themselves,  like the drive to gamble, the lust for more money, the desires in your DNA, all natural desires,  those are far harder to fight or kill than anything else. Again, real change seemed to go deeper than just relinquishing pride or simply not giving into pleasure. It was deeper than choosing to serving yourself, others or God.  It seemed to come down to who you were, who you want to become and ultimately what was in your soul, what our nature dictated. For Phil and a few other men, their very nature was effected by God. Phil tried explaining it but it was something that had to be experienced. Those men were living proof of God’s power and interaction with human beings. Phil’s journal was his own documentation of this journey.

CHAPTER 11

MORE THAN ONE WAY TO SKIN A CAT

Fights were common,  a way of life. Some fights were even tolerated by the staff. Veteran guards knew it was inevitable. The seasoned guard, along with the wards that had been in the system for over five years, knew the only way to sometimes finally bury the hatchet was to let the hole be dug. Men who didn’t show enough respect or tried to try perform the same con game on a fellow inmate had to pay for it . Society, legislation and the judicial system enforced laws trying to up hold certain rights for people and inmates enforced a code that they expected their colliges to live up to. Men that mind their own business seemed to get by okay but there were certain cases where a completely inoccent bystander would be caught in the cross fire. Nathan,  a 65 year old man in for accidentally not paying his taxes correctly,  was a perfect example of such a case. Nathan had a scare across his neck from being at the wrong place at the wrong time at a lunch table in Block C.  Two men were playing cards. They had their backs toward each other and one felt that the table behind him was making too much noise. He pulled out a sharp object and went to slash a throat but the neck he carved into was Nathan,  minding his own business trying to eat a bologna sandwich and watch a friendly game of cards. Prison may not be permanent but the physical and emotional scares were.

One inmate killed a man in his sleep. When asked why he said, “I needed his body to put in my bunk so when they did a bed check they would think I was still there, also he made an even seven to the six I killed on the outside, ev’body know 6 a unlucky number.”  On another occasions some type of vigilantes would become inraged to hear how another man raped a child or woman and decided they needed to take that man’s life. Too often rather than just inflicting pain they would beat, stab, smother  or even drown the person making sure it was fatal.

Phil had hoped that by showing how Jesus changed him and could truly change others that other men would desire the same change and not only regret but repent from their old way of doing things and subscribe to a completely different life.

Phil was lost in though for a few moments and wrote in his journal,  So many mysterious ways God moves and does things and yet we are very puzzling as well. The T.V. was on with a few men watching it. Many times they’d catch the news. Phil recalled in jail they skipped the weather channel because they never got outside. He wondered if that changed since he left there. Phil knew there was a way to be functional and yet the majority of people just weren’t willing to do it. The news blared of a shooting last night at some type of youth center. The one announcer reported, “There were several under age youth shot to death,  the youngest was only twelve years old.” They showed his parents weeping inconsolable.  One inmate shouted, “Why a 12 year old there?!” Another said, “His parents to blame fo’ THAT!” The debate began as the inmate just walking up added, “The club responsible FOR THOSE deaths!” Yet one who had been there from the start said, “They need to get the guy that sold the gun.” While another defended the black market saying, “No, it up to the buyer what they do wif’ a gun. They gots’ to get the shooter!” The news report indicated, “They apprehended the shooter and 4 others they believe are linked to the incident.” Roy shouted,  “Send em’ here, we straighten em’ out! Can’t be killin’ babies!” A group of men agreed and laughed then spoke of what they would do to them if they got their hands on them. Phil sat at a distance with his journal taking everything around him in. He wrote a few more things and it turned into a prayer, ‘Lord we can not make sense out of the insanity.  Come quickly Lord Jesus. Thank you for being patient with us. Help me make the best of every opportunity I have. -Redeem the time, for the days a are evil.’ He heard the men in front of the T.V. getting more and more agitated.  They were hung up on this one report, although the news cast went on and on telling them more and more bad news that was surly enough to fule any anger brewing inside. A few of them stepped away from the viewing area but continued to offer solutions on how to punish those who shot the innocent youth. Phil couldn’t help but wonder if some of them in some way or another were linked to the incident by way of what gang they were still with, providing arms or promoting violence.  Phil turned to Matthew 5. He read, ‘Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:   “Blessed are the poor in spirit,   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.    Blessed are those who mourn,   for they will be comforted.   He stopped to pray for the family of those who lost loved ones in what he just heard. He thought back to when he lost his son. Lil’John came over with his Bible.  “Whatcha readin’?” “Matt 5.” Lil’John said, “Let’s go out into where they serve food, those tables good cause on othar’ side da’ plexiglass,  blocks sound of T.V., showers and all dis’ bunk talk.” Phil took his Bible and journal and headed that way. Ahmed was already at a table. “Mind if we join ya’ Ahmed?” “No, not at all, I finished reading John, The book of John.” He said as he looked at big John, still not fully understanding why they called him little. Ahmed said, “I am in Matthew now.” Phil smiled,  “23?” “No only on Chapter 5.” Lil’John said, “Us too.” They sat down and Lil’John said, “Mind if I start?” Ahmed and Phil nodded,  Lil’John began, ‘Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:   “Blessed are the poor in spirit,   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.    Blessed are those who mourn,   for they will be comforted.   Blessed are the meek,   for they will inherit the earth.    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,   for they will be filled.    Blessed are the merciful,   for they will be shown mercy.    Blessed are the pure in heart,   for they will see God.    Blessed are the peacemakers,   for they will be called children of God.    Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.    “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Lil John pausedAhmed said, “They killed Jesus for the good things he did. I don’t understand.  He blessed and healed and only spoke and lived a life of peace,  love, happiness and how to get to heaven with him.” Lil’John had not been admitted in time to attend the same Chapel service but Phil knew Lil’John already knew Jesus enough to know what Phil was about to add, it was all from the same reliable Word of God. “Well…” Phil began, “Jesus didn’t play the same games the religious men of the day played. He didn’t please them and meet up with what they had come to believe was pleasing to God. Jesus didn’t even dress like them, remember what the Chaplain was saying? And He came to welcome everyone,  not just the select group. The ‘righteous’ ones felt that he was being blasphemous, not accepting He was truly The Son of God.” Ahmed nodded. Lil’John read on,“Matthew 5 verse 13 ‘You are the salt of the earth.” Lil’John stopped and asked if Phil recalled Pip from jail. Phil smiled, “yeah more and more salt…I’ll tell you later Ahmed.” John continued, “You are the salt of the earth But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’ Ahmed interjected,  “The example I want to be.” “Yep!” Phil encouraged.  John read on,  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Phil held up his bendy writing utensil.  John stopped,  “You see Ahmed,  on the outside the religious leaders looked great, wore all the right stuff but on the inside, in their heart and mind, they weren’t right. They looked like sheep but the were wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Lil’John asked Phil, “didn’t your son say he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing? ” Phil smiled.  “He did, and he…was.” “Was?”asked Ahmed.  Phil was unable to answer.  John spoke for him, “His son gone to be with The Lord.” Phil returned to the table he never physical moved away from, “ah…yeah he died but oh, how he loved the Lord and reaching others. He sure let Christ shine through him. He was in the streets before he handed his life over to Christ.  He stayed in seedy motels and used but then got saved and went back to reach people still in those same places he was at before Christ was his Lord.” Ahmed said, “B.C. and then A.D., awesome! MY FAMILY AND OLD MUSLIM FRIENDS WON’T LET ME BACK! I wrote a letter with scriptures in it and I got a letter back telling me I am no longer welcome because I was following false beliefs.” Lil’ John added, “It is false to them! Why you believe? ” Ahmed needed no time to think before he answered, “Because I called out to Christ and He came in! More than a feeling,  He has given me what I have always searched for, a relationship with God almighty! ” “Good for you man! You opened up to him, while in here?” John asked. Phil relayed the story about what happened in the prison yard.”Sounds like Acts Chapter eight!” John confirmed.  Phil had not made the connection until now. Ahmed said, “So, now I am learning even more how Jesus,  2, 000 years ago, came with a new way to life and promises so that we don’t need to skin each other alive, we can shed our old self, let him destroy that old way of thinking and make us new. I AM NEW, A NEW CREATION!” John encouraged him, “The old is gone and eve’thin’ new now, right on brother. You a smart cat!”

Phil filled in Lil’John on somethings the chaplain covered from Matthew 23. Ahmed said, “I am working my way up to that chapter.” Phil told John how the Chaplain encouraged the men to take in the whole account and context. Ahmed said, “I am seeing that Jesus Christ really had a hard time with these religious people of his day but offered life to some serious low life people. He loves everybody and gave everyone a chance to consider a new way of life in Him!” Lil’John was thrilled and encouraged to meet someone with such a clear perspective.  Although he enjoyed pointing out the truth on what the Bible says to people who tried to twist it he enjoyed this more, a man who has had a personal encounter with The Holy Spirit from the inside out. Ahmed’s face beamed. Lil’John told Ahmed to write down this passage from the book of Romans chapter twelve, verse two,  ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ “You keep to that and God will see you through.” Lil’John assured his new brother in Christ.

It was nearly time to go outside for recreation again so the men gathered their things and Phil was excited for John to enjoy it as much as he did after not seeing the sun for weeks while in jail together.

CHAPTER 12

CHOOSE A SIDE

The rain came down in buckets. This made it impossible for the men to go outside.  Phil thought, ‘oh, how will this effect them?’ He knew when not given something to do they’d create their own recreation. The limited time to activities in jail gave many of the men too much time in their own hands. Idel hands too often challenged men to misinterpret, ‘ whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your strength…’ Rather than be constructive they made the choice to be deconstructive. The  Correctional Officers in charge of the  block brought in several board games that were not always accessible.  A few grabbed monopoly. A few began to arm wrestle but the guard stopped them, reminding them it led to a major fight last time. A nerf ball and small hoop seemed to be the game of choice for the athletes.  Some sat and wrote, others drew pictures. Many had their own cards but the guards also brought out several nicer sets of chess that had all the pieces, none of them chipped or cracked. That seemed to be the game with the most willing participants. Phil was amused because it was the first time he had seen chess played in teams. Rather than one on one and the next man playing the winner they spilt up four on each side and would rotate who’s move it was. Each man took a move and would sometimes suggest to each other what to do next. They’d meet in huddles, glancing back to the board and cheering when one of their opponents made a move costing them a piece. The team captain  that seemed to be losing told his team, “You know I know this game. Follow my leads, don’t worry about pieces we lost, and we will win but ya’ gotta trust me.” Sure enough, one team was made up of individuals making individual moves. The other team made the moves their Captain instructed, exactly and it allowed all of them to be the victory.

Many of the men in this block seemed to be team players in many ways. Phil thought back to jail when men would refuse to be on a team in a simple one time basketball game. Much like middle school kids, they would spend more time arguing than playing, even once a game started. The men in here seemed to be making the best of their situation and it was just what Phil needed. He still fought with his own weaknesses and felt so defeated at times but reminded himself,  this too will pass. His mind would counter act the optimism with, ‘yeah 20 years spent in here, by then the prime of your life will be gone!’ He wasn’t alone but sometimes felt as if he was the only one with problems or that other’s problems were small compared to his. A good cure for that misconception was listening to other men who were in much deeper.  Phil reminded himself he could have been in on the death penalty. The only thing worse than living in here would be living in here until you die. Before depression could settle in Phil decided to use this time to write his wife. He also saved every letter she wrote him and would reread them which gave him hope of seeing her again.  Visit and visitors were good but sometimes it made it harder to go back into the block when you knew what you were not able to go home to. Letters were always good because there was still that distance rather than face to face contact. Going into the open bunk area while most were in the foyer area was a nice break for Phil. The T.V. was never off but right now the volume was turned down and the rowdy side was on the other side of the divider. With no individual cells and one common bathroom things seemed much better in many ways when compared to what Phil’s jail pod was like. Not every block in prison had the same set up but Phil was thankful for this one. “We don’t always get to choose where we are, who we are family with or get the opportunity to keep company with.’ Thought Phil,  ‘But right now, most of these men,  are the best company  I could ask for. ‘ Tomorrow may prove different but he stayed in the moment. ‘I better not let my guard down, the guards in here didn’t keep Wiggs from almost killing me but for now I finally feel some safety.”  Phil climbed up onto his bunk, looked around and took in his surroundings. Men were sleeping,  reading, writing or talking softly. He never slept during the day, always felt it best to sleep only when most others were sleeping. He knew that sleep seemed to help make time move a little faster but also put you in a very valuable state. He opened his journal,  went to a blank page and began to write his wife.



CHAPTER 13

LOOKS LIKE A CON?


As discussed before you just can’t tell what’s in a man’s heart by looking at him but a person’s action and words eventually give everyone around them an accurate picture of where their true desires are. Ahmed learned fairly fast that just because a man went to Chapel and could even quote Bible verses it did not mean they were trust worthy or always lived like Christ.  He was color blind and wasn’t deceived or persuaded either way even by tattoos of satanic nature because he met men who got those markings before  they let God get a hold of their hearts.

Those who were believers before they came in were truly amazed to see men change. Without even knowing all the commands, instructions and simple guidance the Bible gives they got rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. They became kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave others. It didn’t always last because men would not keep on believing and letting God reign. Others increased and grew into leaders.

Phil had noted that in times of crisis or difficulty people would either come closer to God or be driven away from him. He also noticed, in his own life, there were times when he was very obedient to the Lord and was bearing characteristics of Christ but there were other times that he was ashamed of because he would check God  at the doorstep and not give thought of him, not even communicating with him thanking him for a beautiful mourning. His relationship with God was just like a perfect  marriage but the difference was that God was always faithful regardless of how his partners reacted or behaved on their end of commitment. Although some would try to fool themselves or others and try to come across as dedicated to God, He knows the heart like no other.

The seasoned guard didn’t profile or go by appearances,  they knew men in prison had already been convicted for a crime, however, they were there bacause of a bad decision,  they were no worse a person than anyone else. There was also Correctional Officers who assumed they were all bad and would remain forever a ‘bad egg’. Phil enjoyed the Officers who would treat each one as an individual.  There were standard procedures and precautions but the way they treated fellow human beings went a long way. There is always prejudice but some guards would go the extra mile in being sure those in prison suffered, as if the living conditions were not enough to cause pain, suffering and mental anguish. Phil wondered if one of the staff members ended up in here how long some of the clean cut, well manicured, tattooless staff would last just because some convict didn’t like how they looked. It went both ways. Those with certain hair styles, brandings, let alone othèr markings were literally labeled in here. The prison kept files on tattoos and their meaning. Regardless of a man’s actions their marking dictated what block they would be placed in, what outdoor time they would get and who they would or wouldn’t be allowed to be around. This prison kept similar groups together. They found out that overtime mixing skin heads with black panthers was not possible. Phil wondered if some how they placed men of the same faith together but Ahmed came in as a Muslim and was just now of the Christian faith so it appeared that it was just an extra blessing to have what seemed to be a majority of believers in Christ all in one block and that faith grew as it was encouraged and shared. God was working even if the prison system wasn’t.

Just when Phil began to let his own guard down he met an man named Harry. Harry looked as if he had never or could ever commit a crime but here he was in jail.Harry attended the inmates block Bible study as well as Chapel.  He knew whole Bible passages, however,  he also knew how to press the right buttons to get people to do what he wanted. Phil knew a physical fight would most likely never take place between Harry and anyone, however once the other inmates realized they were getting into trouble for something Harry convinced them to do there would be consequences. That day came when an inmate was washing Harry’s sox for him because some how he thought it was a modern way of washing the man’s feet. The sox were not the problem, what was in the sox is what put a nail in the man’s destiny.  Apparently Harry way trying to hide some drugs in his sox and just before a shake down he handed them to the man he knew would take them. The sox never even made it to a sink. The guards came in, told everyone to stand by their own stuff and they checked everyone.  Harry had nothing, but the poor sap that trusted Harry was courted off. The innocent inmate tried to explain but the sox had no name on them and were in with his own personal things. They told the man they didn’t believe his story and even if it was true he shouldn’t have had possession of the drugs for any reason. Harry was not even questioned. They put the other man in confinement for 30 days and added to his initial charges. After segregation they put him in another block because he told them if he saw Harry again he would kill him. The only friends Harry had were people who had not caught on to his clever disguise or those who were playing the same kind of people. Phil warned his wife to not listen to any of the inmates or their family members if she had any contact with them during open visitation. He wasn’t being mean or prejudice he was exercising caution. The ones who displayed hate in their actions were obviously a danger regardless of what they looked like just as much as the ones who outwardly seemed intimidating but showed real love and bore the fruit of The Holy Spirit were of great help and a source of encouragement. Phil wrote in the letter to his wife, “Honey, I sit and write to you and think of your beautiful face, it’s much better than anyone here.” He drew a little smiley face then wrote, “But seriously, you are even more beautiful on the inside. Most people’s looks are just skin deep. 1 Peter 3:3‭-‬4‭ says, ‘Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.’ Honey,  wear all the makeup and jewelry you want but know your true treasure and your beauty is far beyond your outward appearance alone, although you got that going on too. I miss you beyond words and love you more than you can imagine! Love, Phil.

CHAPTER 14

Treasure Found

Ahmed came running over to Phil shouting, “Look, look, look what I found…” He had a new Bible. Before Phil could guess, “a new Bible?” Ahmed had it open and was reading,  “First Peter chapter three verse thirteen through twenty-two…it says, ‘Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.’…remember we were talking about how Jesus did good and yet they killed him?” Phil nodded and Ahmed read on, “Do not fear their threats ; do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” Ahmed put his finger to mark his place. He looked up and said, “Now listen to this.” He looked back down and read on, “After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” Phil was excited to see Ahmed’s enthusiasm,  “I was just writing my wife and included a section from 1st Peter. I thought you were reading Matthew.” Ahmed replied,  “I was but a got this Bible from another Muslim.” Phil was curious. Ahmed clarified,  “A Muslim who also converted to Christianity. I should say, a former Muslim.   He let me borrow this one, it is a little easier to read and understand. ” Phil looked at it, “Oh, yeah. It is the New International Version.” Ahmed still spoke with excitement,  “He has markings in it and this section caught me eye.” Phil loved how many times he would be reading a passage and his brothers in Christ would be across the room or in some cases across the country looking at the same passage. One time he wrote his wife and was telling her how they very rarely sing in Chapel but they sang, with no accompaniment,  ‘How Great Thou Art’  and ‘Amazing Grace’. A week later he received a letter from her expressing how moved she was when she read his letter and it was an extra blessing when they sang the same exact songs in her Church.  His eyes filled with tears as he considered how God considered us, mere human beings. He marveled in the small things God did, giving reminders that they were not alone, not forgotten. There were nuggets of gold in his Heavenly treasures.  He didn’t count on getting a crown and it being adorn with certain jewels as a reward for specific accomplishments but knew if he did the first thing he wanted to do is cast it before Jesus’ feet when he reached his eternal home.
Nugget, the inmate who got a name change while in prison, was a little more peppy today. At lunch they found out why. Chicken nuggets were served for lunch. He treasured those chicken nuggets like gold. Truth be known, there really wasn’t much real chicken in these processed shapes. He wasn’t kidding when he told men he had all kinds of commissary ready for trade. There was something about having everything taken away from you that allowed many of these men to not take anything for granted and yet there were still men taking advantage of others. Values were held in the hand of the beholder. Phil cherished that the gold that men seeked was simply what was used to pave the streets in Heaven. Everything humans could see with their eyes couldn’t be compared with God plans for the future.  Phil recalled a Christian Artist,  Keith Green who said, ‘If God created all we see on this earth in six days imagine what heaven will be like, He has been working on that for over 2 ,000 years. This is like living in a garbage can compared with what is to come.’ Those who truly believed not only looked forward to Heaven but also found value in life gere and now because they knew they not only had glory to look forward to but a reason and purpose to live while here.

CHAPTER 15

MIND SET

William Wilcox entered the prison block  that Phil called his temporary home away from home. He had a crazed look in his eye but also gazed off into no where often. That didn’t faze most the men but what they couldn’t tolerate was not getting a reply when they addressed him. Poor William got the snot beat out of him because a convict felt he was being disrespectful. No one could explain to the offender that the man wasn’t being offensive he was just not responsive.  Rumors took flight on what made the man this way but the fact was he was not able to be there mentally. His body was doing time in prison but his mind was some place else.  This made him vulnerable and many men took his belongings right out from under his nose. Phil wondered if the guards and other staff noticed but it seemed that the man’s wellfare didn’t seem to really matter. He was no trouble to them so they didn’t notice him. Phil requested a meeting with the Correctional Officers of his block at the risk of being labeled as a nark. He asked them to observe Wilcox and see if they didn’t see a problem.  They argued the fact that Wilcox was no threat but Phil insisted that for whatever reason he was unable to defend himself in here and he was concerned on how men were hurting him. They wanted names.  Phil told them he knew he was taking a chance just bringing this up and if they confronted men or moved William it was sure to be linked back to this meeting and that was enough trouble, however,  something had to be done before Mr. Wilcox was mental, physically and financial raped any more. The guards said they would make a note of the meeting and pass it on but still didn’t feel that this had anything to do with their job. Phil reminded them, whether they felt like it or not, they were responsible to protect the inmates while under their care. They resented this and Phil knew this was going to put him on their bad side as well but knew something needed to be done because William was not able to stand for himself. With that the meeting was over.

After the meeting a decision was made to remove Wilcox. Phil was right, the convicts were against him because he had their human ATM taken away. The guards didn’t treat him the same because they felt he was trying to tell them how to do their job. Phil wondered if he made a mistake in pointing this dilemma out but knew in his heart he helped a fellow human being out and regardless of the effects it had on him it was the right thing to do. Minding your own business was usually best but Phil felt like someone had to do something,  especially when the guards were not.

The mind is powerful but so is the soul. The body, however,  can effect both if the soul is not in good shape. Phil had been through many trials but it was those things that made his faith stronger.  He knew emotions,  health,  finances, everything in life went up and down but his spiritual walk could continue to climb. Some men were not sure how they would do under the pressures of Prison and when in solitary they did even worse. There were so many factors that messed with their minds . One of the keys to sanity for Phil was to not rely on his feelings. He also held onto hope beyond the four walls around him.

CHAPTER 16

ASSUMPTIONS 

There is a curiosity of what Prison is like for those who have never been or visited those who are there. Sure, there has been books written documentries made, movies and T.V. shows but there are also many assumptions.  Assuming is not always a bad thing. Phil knew the old saying,  ‘To assume,  the very way it is spelled makes an ass out of u and me.’ However,  it was safe to assume certain things. Good judgement calls were part of survival. If a man had an active track record of fits of rage or was convicted of brutal crimes toward humanity it was wise to exercise caution around that person,  at the same time, that person is also a human being and could possibly change, he saw it, some started over and that old record became something in their past rather than a current way of life. The prison, as done in jail as well, try to group inmates by charges and criminal history.  They sometimes have to seperate men from general population bacause they don’t know where to place them or can not place them around others for their own safty. Those inmates may not be a threat to anyone else but everyone else is a threat to them. Phil was dealing with his own record and tried to take things moment by moment, person by person, hope for the best but prepared for the worse. He couldn’t let his guard down but at the same time didn’t clam up. This environment was dangerous and came with a certain inevitable vulnerability. The difference between in here and on the streets was that there were guards and staff, usually readily available,  without having to call 911 as you would from home, the side of the road or anywhere you may find yourself in day to day life on the outside. What most people fail to realize is criminals are everywhere. Although some cities may be labeled with the highest crime rate and some neighborhoods seemed to be a haven for danger no place is truly safe.

He thought about his son, ‘Stone’ was his name. He had a very dark past and seemed drawn to certain crimes but the last two years of his life was full of Christ’s light. His son, unlike some believers, went back to those hoods and let Christ shine through him. He knew the danger but accepted it, embraced it. Phil admired that and missed him dearly. He thought about how now, he himself was amongst those who were caught in crime, or at least convicted. It was his time to shine. Life went on and Phil looked forward to seeing all those loved ones in heaven some day but in the mean time he missed especially his son more than words could say. He didn’t assume he’d see him it was a confirmed fact he held onto in faith. He didn’t assume others understood his loss either but he knew each man had been separated from everything they knew and loved while in here, some for the rest of their lives. How each one dealt with it was a matter of perspective and determination. The assumption that was dangerous was that everyone was the same and that nothing was going to work out. Phil accepted the fact that whatever he had, whereever he was, for whatever reason he was right where he was supposed to be and to make the best of it. He thought back to a man of faith he knew who ended up quadriplegic. Somethings we never planned on we have to live with or become absolutely miserable. He thought back to Moses and the Jewish people in captivity. His mind went to Psalm 90:15 that ask God, ‘Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.’ How shallow and spoiled we are sometimes. How we think we are owed more then what we already have. The American dream for some was a lie they bought into. Phil always felt he heard people saying,  ‘God bless America’ while he was saying, ‘America, bless God.’Considering all that Phil had been through he was thrilled to be alive, regardless of the opposition.  One of the tattoos his son got after accepting Christ  was the Mandarin word ‘Hope’. When translated into English was 2 words,  ‘opposition and opportunity’. With every difficulty there was given a chance to rise above it.

Healthy or not, assumptions were something everyone shared. Maybe it was more speculation toward what humans were and were not capable of. In any event certain assumptions were correct while others were inaccurate and damaging.  The stigma a convicted convict carried stayed with them even upon release.  Was there a better system?  Was there a way for people to pay for their crime? Was there a way to truly be sorry and move on? Phil believed there was but not on this earth.  While in the system if someone couldn’t get along with others the only thing those in charge knew to do was seperate them. Taking a troubled person out of society was only half of what to do to resolve any issue.  Phil witnessed first hand what it was like to be removed not only from the outside world but also from the general population within this prison world. There was supposed to be investigations and considerations but it was easier to just remove what they saw as a problem or potential conflict. The only resolution Phil could find was a peace from deep within.  Everything around him shouted,  ‘You are going to die here!’ However,  everything thing within shouted,  ‘You will live beyond all this.’ There was a bigger picture,  much bigger than Phil and his sad small world.

We all may find ourselves thinking we know the law and what offense leads to jail or prison. The more you look into it the more you realize you don’t know, you assume or go on what you personally think is worthy of punishment and what kind of punishment.  America is United but every state has a few laws that differ and the penalty for those breaking the laws vary. Phil heard the authorities saying that in Belgium it is not considered a crime to escape from prison,  however it is a crime to keep the clothes the prison issued. So, in one case an inmate escaped and mail the clothes back to the prison and was not persuade. Phil struck a man with his car, by accident, and was now in prison paying for his crime. One may argue if that was even a crime at all but the courts decided it was. In Phil’s case the family of the man killed were trying to press murder charges.  Before Phil came to prison the charges for murder were dropped but the state still had consequences for a life being taken away.

In prison men shared with Phil the difference between an inmate and a convict. It was the very opposite of what the men in jail told him. Here they were saying a convict was a man who went along with the rules of the prison. An inmate was not seasoned and portrayed as one who would jump into other people’s business. All Phil knew was regardless of the lable he had to be careful who he trusted. He wouldn’t let his own guard down with anyone,  even brothers in Christ.  He thought about how Judas turned on Jesus. This was just as good as any place, any time to be forced to trust God alone. If living in this world taught Phil nothing else it taught him he couldn’t depend on himself, others or some type of man made and governed system, he could only be assured by God’s ways and rely on God’s word, that was no assumption. That was a sure thing, assurance.

CHAPTER 17

LETTERS 

Phil wrote his wife, ‘I just read The Apostle Paul’s letter to The Philippines and I can identify with how he felt. I feel the same way about you. It’s not at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality. You have, after all, stuck with me all the way from the time I was thrown in jail, put on trial, and came out of it in one piece. All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God. He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does! (Philippians 1:7‭-‬8)’ His communication with the outside world was completely dependant upon letters written and received.

He wrote P.T., a man he came to know while still in jail. Phil wrote, ‘So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9‭-‬11).’ Then he wrote a man named Guy, another young man he knew while in jail. ‘Dear Guy, Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus  (Philippians 1:1-6). I am so glad we got to know each other,  even if it was while in jail. What you shared with me about how my son planted a seed of God’s love and word in you I am now watering and God will cause it to keep growing.  I trust you will let Him.’

Phil began to understand God’s provision and compassion more and more every day.  He remained in God’s word and held onto the promises he found there. He knew this world’s philosophy was wacky but if he focused on Christ the things of this world grew strangely dim. Sure, he was locked up with some of this world’s worst offenders who were sincerely against God and man but he knew the reality that no matter where you are there were human beings just as bad, one of the big differences were, these guys were caught and contained.  Here you were forced to be their neighbor, share meals, take a shower right next to them rather have your own place and space. Dwelling on the negative wasn’t going to help Phil at all but accepting fate and trusting God through it all was going to allow God to reach some people who other wise may not see or get to know the real Jesus.  Phil thought about the Apostle Paul and realized he continued his work for Christ, even while in prison.

As Phil began another letter he heard someone sniffling.  A few bunks over he saw a man with his head between his knees in sorrow. He watched from a distance and prayed.  Rather than write another letter Phil began to write a prayer for that young man. Later, perhaps he could find a way to offer some hope and encouragement but for now he sat back and allowed The Holy Spirit to minister directly to the man, Phil stayed out of the way. He wrote, ‘Lord, I know sometimes you use us but other times you need us to get out of the kitchen and let you cook. Touch this grieving soul just now and let me know when, how or if you want to use me in some way to help. In Jesus name and for Christ sake. May it be so.’

CHAPTER  18

CULT In CULTURE  

There are a cerain breed of people  who are rejected by society outside of  prison. That breed of people were like gods while incarcerated. Weaker minds often fell prey to their dominant and overwhelming ways. Some were clever and cunning,  using kindness as a weapon to get into the mind of their victims. Others were just down right overbearing physically and gained power over those who had no way to fight back. If a man lacked a foundation before he entered there really wasn’t much hope for them once they were on these grounds.  Phil was thankful for the time God had given him and for the time he spend on his end getting to know Him. The mind games some men played with other men was sad. The bully problems kids were facing  in schools around the world were the same struggles these grown men were facing. Phil wondered if it ever ended. Many people thought, ‘when I get big and all grown up, then people will leave me alone.’ If only that were true but Phil saw that in here you were prey or predator. He asked The Lord, ‘How can that stop?’ He heard the Lord say, ‘You accept others as they are. Let them belong. Be their friend. ‘ So many men were trying to belong and be accepted. Many men blamed everyone for their problems and wouldn’t accept responsibility for themselves. They made themselves feel better by putting others down. They loved exercising any authority they could take. It just made them stronger.  Phil would love to take those under the thumb and fear of those false gods and free them up but he knew only God could do that.  In the mean time he would do his best to follow the leading of The Holy Spirit and be a friend that offered unconditional love to those held captive under those tyrants.

Phil thought back to Moses and Aaron. They followed God. People under him saw God in miracles God performed,  Moses was just faithful in doing what he was told but it wasn’t an ability Moses had it was all GOD and Moses was sure to give Him the glory and let people know it wasn’t him it was God. Then the supernatural took place so they knew it wasn’t just a man, another human, they were to put their trust in God and be loyal to Him. The problem with the Israelites and people to this day is that we want to have some type of image or person to worship. We want to hold it, see it, feel it. God is invisible and uncreated. He gives unconditional love, we are not use to that. People come to believe our salvation all comes down to what we do or don’t do. We try to be in charge,  take control,  take credit when in reality it is really all on God’s end, His doing not from anything we or another human can do for us. That is what Phil saw as a serious issue, people trusting people rather than trusting God which led to people controlling people. Nothing beat reading and applying God’s word on his own. No one was needed and no one could interfere,  although they would try, maybe even with the best intentions but the road to Hell was paved with the best intentions.  The road to Heaven was in his heart and paved with treasures only God could provide, unmaterialistic and unconditional, a truly free gift. We are not use to being given something from someone, all from their end not because we deserve it but because they love us. That is grace. Phil learned mercy was not giving punishment that was dersereved and grace was giving them what they don’t deserve. Phil accepted the facts that are backed with God’s word, at our worse God loves us and Jesus himself prayed, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Phil saw the big picture,  man was going to just keep messing up a relationship with Him so He would make things right once and for all. He had to do it on his end, we’ll always fail on our own. Christ is not some type of crutch He is a stretcher, you can’t even limp into heaven without him. What a relief to know his eternity was not based on how good or bad he was. It wasn’t based on another person’s opinion of him or their judgement of how right or wrong he was, how he measured up according to their standards.  That brought him peace in the present not just hope for the future.

Phil thought back to a letter he wrote Trevor,  a guy he met in jail, where he included 1 Corinthians 2:4‭-‬5, “and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” Phil recalled how the men he was with heard directly from The Holy Spirit and noticed the difference between man’s philosophy and God’s direction. He continued to pray for them and longed to hear from them, how they were doing. He looked up and saw Lil’John and smiled. It was great to have examples,  real life people,  applying the Biblical principles and letting God be God, staying out of His way.

CHAPTER 19

WEIRD WORLD 

There was no denying prison life was a different world altogether. A few things Phil learned while still in jail was: The less you say the better. Sometimes you have to defend yourself but you don’t want to start a fight.  Many times you have to let things go and ignore comments,  threats and calls to take things any further.  People tend to think more highly of themselves than they ought, inside and out of lock-up. Asking to many questions is never good, that was why Roy oversaw new inmates when they first came in.  Phil carried onto prison those things he learned. Now in prison this wasn’t just a few weeks or months in jail, this was the long hall, years. The anxiety of waiting for a trial and determination of sentencing was a thing of the past for Phil. He now knew his destiny in regard to how long he was going to be away from the outside world and in this new world. It was up to him to not do anything that would add to that time. He also knew measurements of time were different here. He tought it funny when they give someone three life sentences, as if one life wasn’t enough. But life didn’t mean life, until you die. It was assigned a number, just as each inmate was. When told, ‘you have a eight year sentence, that might mean you only serve four. Nothing in this whole wide world is forever. We really have no concept of time. When we are doing what we consider fun or enjoyable time flies. When things around us are good and we are in happy circumstances time is short but when we battle the flu or are in troubled times, it is as if time actually slows down. The earth still takes the same course around the sun but we feel like the sun is moving slower and the days are longer. Phil realized it was not the sun moving, it is the earth. The sun stays in its given place, we are the ones moving. For those in Alaska it could become confessing for their whole system and sleep patterns. We tend to function and keep track of things by days, day light, and seasons but in reality time will not be contained. We can not save it, we can not control it. Much to the surprise of many workaholics, we can not manage it. We can only try to manage what we choose to do and not do. We can decide how we invest ourselves but time, time goes on and on. We don’t get any younger. We can be told what to do when and where. We can try and accomplish certain things but as we spin round and round things are going to come and go that we do not,  did not,  could never, predict. We like to think we are in control,  however,  if we are honest with ourselves we come to admit changes and unpredictability is the only true predictable thing. Just as we develop mentally, physically and spiritually so also everything around us continues to evolve, progress and grow. Only God, the creator, truly knows the true plan and in trying to fit in we find ourselves trying to understand it all, try to know it all, rather than just accepting we don’t and will never fully understanding it nor have any control of it. It was Phil’s spiritual strength more than his physical and mental state that was pulling him through. He knew his knowledge and understanding would only help so much. It was faith, ‘the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’ that was Phil’s main stay. He lived this out in his own relationship with Christ and that spread to others. Talking too much and coming across as knowing more than others was always an issue for inmates when it came to getting along with others. Self respect was important but lack of respect toward others was not tolerated.  Although prison was considerably different from jail Phil was learning to see the direction things were moving in to determine what he needed to do for his own safety. He learned to adapt to this environment without it getting the best of him. Although everything was dictated for him there was an internal clock that no one could reset or mess with. There was a higher power and source that was not manipulated by outward conditions and sources. Regardless of the restless world around him, with its landmines and shrapnel, inside he could remain calm, safe and at peace. Phil didn’t know how classification worked and couldn’t completly figure out if there was really anyway to place men in the best block for them. Sure, criminal past history had its say and the crime convicted of had its play in determining where they would be placed in an attempt to keep rival gangs and threats lower but each man was an individual. While outside Phil could over hear the men from other blocks and noticed many of them were coming from a completely different back ground. Their conviction seemed to match their on going behavior.  It is not illegal to be in a gang but the activity that gang insisted upon its members and the man’s willingness to go along with it led them to their demise. Now they were off the streets but still caught in a cycle of trying to prove themselves to others.  Phil felt other’s pursuance to walk, talk, act like them, blend in. He also knew he could be in this prison but not go along completely with the code of ethics the inmates developed.  Truth was bent and notifying those who were supposed to to be in authority led to trouble, even if it was the best thing for everyone but resulted in the harsher punishment of others. Reality was, in certain section the prison staff didn’t have any authority. Things were run by the inmates. Phil had to use his God given moral compus to stay on the right path regardless of the way the guards or the inmates tried to rule. He knew the only way to survive was to keep an invisible barrier up as he traveled through this section of life. He had not planned this detour. He wasn’t at a complete loss but was on a road in a world that was foreign to him. Phil knew, just as this happen to him, it could happen to anyone.  Some things in life are handed to you, it is the way you deal with it that makes the difference. Phil lost a lot of faith in mankind and the judicial system, he even lost some faith in Church members but it only caused him to deepen his faith in Christ. The conditions he was forced to deal with called for thicker skin and armor.  The pastor he had before he went into jail lost touch along with a few members of his church who promised to write, visit or accept calls but he knew it was only natural. When they did write it seemed as if they were doing it more for themselves than to sincerely check on him. It was sad but it was human nature and everyone being to busy that caused him to be abndoned.  This weird world called for confidence but not pride. Phil swallowed his own pride and had to digest the fact that only God who made him knew what he was capable of enduring and only God would love and care for him unlike any person ever could.

This whole experience taught Phil that we can all be prisoners of our own devices. It was obvious here in prison that you are not free but if we let circumstances dictate to us what we can and can’t do in our everyday lifes, whether in a locked down facility or not we are then all caught in a cell that keeps us, holds us back from truly being free . Rather than seeing the sun rise and be deeply grateful for fresh air we remain trapped,  contained and are constantly looking for a way to escape. Maybe it is because we have forgotten to enjoy the small, simple and free things or maybe it is because we think we can not see past walls we have built or allowed others to build around us.  In any event, Phil’s eyes were open, the eyes of his heart and he was able to see beyond this weird, strange, harsh world and know that there is not only something more but that he would reach it some day.

CHAPTER 20

GET ALONG LITTLE INMATE

Phil overheard one of the guards express,  “I don’t get why these inmates can’t just get along with each other.” Phil kept his thoughts to himself,  ‘You are not in here, you work here and you’re behind these walls but you are not, nor have you ever been a resident.’  It was like the difference between a tourist at an amusement park or better yet zoo, the staff that works there and the animals in the cages. Tourists were the people who visited,  the staff just work there but go home but the animals never leave. All they know is their constant surroundings.  Some zoos move the animals out of cages and let them roam where people get to see them outside but they have to eat when given food, deficate where they sleep and trust the staff won’t put them with their predator. With human beings one of the problems is we may all look different but there is no real  way to tell who is going to prey on others of their own kind. The facility tried to look for signs, literal branding and symbols on the skin that the men choose to get as well as past behavior that may be repeated but it seemed like the majority were predators always seeking prey. Humans seemed to always be trying to take more than they needed where as animals only eat when they are hungry. The most ferocious alligators were no threat when they were full or during seasons when they didn’t eat as much because they knew it wasn’t warm enough for them digest. Zoologist knew during mating season they were more aggressive but humans, these humans, seem to always be in a season where they were looking to devour and take all they could and more. Phil met men who had learned to take what was given and accept what they had. He also met men who were always looking for their next high and expected to get more than what everyone else had. Some inmates, as well as staff had no self control.  They thought they were in control because they took things into their own hands but in reality they were giving into their own whims rather than look out for the greater good of everyone, including themselves. Each man had a level of intelligence. Although some had a limited amount of history in  educational systems they were not stupid or dumb. Some who were highly educated and book smart seemed to not have much common sense or street smarts. In someways they were at a disadvantage when it came to having a deeper understanding of how to function in prison. The ability to get along had nothing to do with what was taught in the public school system. The interaction they picked up from those who raised them and who they hung out with gave them knowledge no Academy could ever provide.  Social skills developed made the difference between being beat up, constantly bickering or being able to function and survive with some sanity.  Staying to himself, staying off other’s radar and out of their heads was Phil’s goal. The best way to get along was to stay out of other’s way any more than absolutely necessary. How do you stay out of other’s way when you’re all in the same room? You stay out of each and every individual mind. Phil did his best to not give others and opportunity to think about him or anything to do with him. If he wasn’t dealing with them they had no reason to give thought to him. The issues inmates had with each other brewed over time. As when in jail an issue would start with something as small at tater tots and turn into meat and potatoes. Men would start to gambling, literally with peanuts, and end up with a debt they couldn’t pay. They would bite off more than they could chew but would keep taking more and more bites. Men were feasting on adrenaline that only living offensively seemed to satisfy, yet they were never satisfied. They never got their fill  of the lust for more. There were some who seemed to really desire change. There was a group of men who just did their time but there were too many who continued in the same patterns,  maybe the only way they knew. The prison officials tried to make things simple, just the basics and meet the physical needs of those held in the facility but the sad thing was what these men really needed was good healthy fellowship and good examples of how to live a clean beneficial life. Few would get that from a few others but the majority fed off the weak to be strong rather than become stronger by helping those who were weak. Rules were enforced but more than rules what was needed was rehab. Mankind’s general problem was the confusion between need and wants, self sufficiency and selfishness. Facts were too often mixed up with opinions. Some men had got to the end of the road they were on and realized finally it was a dead end. Others had not reached the end yet, while others reached the end saw it went no further but would  walk backwards and then head back to the same dead end over and over again. Phil loved seeing the men who realized there was a better road to be on that didn’t end in destruction. These were the men who came to realize life had more to offer them. They could get more out of life and give more to life. Every human being had one thing in common if nothing else,  the ability to have free will. The danger came into play when all they wanted to do was satisfy themselves only and no one else mattered. To get along with others one had to be considerate of others, some were not. When men insisted on their on wants regardless of others needs there was always an issue. A solution one inmate proposed was, “Let us all smoke some hash and ev’body be gettin’ along, ‘dat for sho’!” That sounded good to a lot of them but Phil thought,  ‘you can’t even get along over who has cigarettes and who doesn’t,  how would it be if any stronger drug was allowed?’ When they got a hold of home made vodka it didn’t take the edge off it sharped that edge and cut into others. Drugs and self medication wasn’t the answer. There was already legally prescribed medications given out but not all the men would not take it correctly. Everything and anything was used as currancy. There was always some type of barter service going on. Men who needed medication to help their behavioral health often sold their prescribed drug to those who were better behaved without it.

The average person may picture prison as a place with three hots and a cot, three  meals a day and a place to sleep, but reality was the convicted were being held, not for any type of correctional instruction, just to be punished. Some prisons may offer more than others but in Phil’s case it seemed that the prison he was in only contained those not wanted in society. It was just a place to hold them, not help them. The guards that complained about drugs being hidden were the same ones who were encouraging the men to get more things to keep them busy. Rather than having a mandatory limited amount of toiletries they were allowed several sticks of deodorant, several bottles of shampoo, several containers allowing them more places to store and hide things. How many books could one read at one time? Phil kept his few belongings to a minimum while other men had so much they required several bins. No one desired anything he had because he didn’t have anything they didn’t already have. He didn’t owe anyone anything because he never borrowed from them. This, doing without somethings, also allowed him to stay out of other’s scopes for more. He had no target on him because he didn’t have any thing worth shoot for. Although it seemed like the men would fight or have disagreements over nothing there was always a reason. They didn’t just hunt for sport they hunted for trophies,  bragging rights or to get something in return. It would appear that there were those who just like to fight but in reality they got a rush out of getting the better of someone else. Unlike sportsmen who would fight a good fair fight and achieve a victory inmates were only in a fight to show their dominance and to take something away from others, their pride if nothing else. Phil observed great differences between official organized  sports fights and unofficial unorganized prison fights. For one thing, in prison the men would flail around where in sports they were calculating their moves. The study and training athletes went through was more than just building up strength physically.  It wasn’t just about being strong physically. Phil had witnessed men ripped with muscles out winded by little tiny guys. Roy never asked the question he wanted to when Phil was new to the block, ‘Have you trained in mixed martial arts?’ Maybe it was obvious by the way he handled his first entry. If Phil was thrown into a unavoidable fight we used his abilities and study in martial arts to nutrualize the situation. He knew if he got his opponent in a hold where he was rendered incapable of fighting official help would eventually step in and break it up. Usually that was enough to prevent future attacks and show others he was not one to mess with. The key was to not start a fight and to know how to stop a one if it happen. In the event of being in a fight Phil’s goal was always to reconcile disagreements, regardless of the intervention of the staff.

CHAPTER 21

ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE? 

“Where my shower gloggs? WHERE MY DAMN SHOWER GLOGGS AT?!”, Came the complaint. “Ain’t no one took yo’ stinkin’ shower shoes man, calm down! ” answered the loud mouth’s friend. “YES THEY DIZ! I’M A GOIN’ TO GETZEM’ BACK TOO!!” He insisted.  As common as  shouting was this had a little more flare to it and captured everyone’s attention.  “THOSE MINESSS!”, the complatant bellowed as he pointed to some slide on shoes another inmate was wearing. A few other men grabbed their tennis shoes and began to ‘lace up.’ This was always a sign of a fight. The two guards working the block began making their calls for back up, “we got a fight about to start.” Much to the rookie guard’s surprise his partner was already out the door, making his way over to the problem. The voice on the other end said, “Notify us if you need back up.” “Ah…I think we might…ah Officer Nielsen is entering the block…ah, I um…I will notify you but it looks like a lot more than just a two person conflict.” Phil stayed back and watched. While the focus was diverted he saw one man over by the corner window. He kept looking over his shoulder but there was so much focus on the potential fight he went completely unnoticed.  When he was done retrieving something from the window he let out a, “HOOP!” With all the shouting the guards didn’t notice but the inmates all broke up and acted as if it was suddenly all over. The guy that started the complaint spoke as calm as could be, “oh, I’m sorry homes, those not mine, never mind.” And he walked away smiling. The guard asked, “What the hell was THAT all about? Was that all just a di…” He stopped and went back to the booth. Phil acted like he saw nothing but kept his head on a swivel. He saw the guards discussing something but could not read their lips. Inside the booth the rookie was still on the phone saying, “ok, all clear.” He hung up. Officer Neilson said, “we have a bigger problem than a fight.” His eyes scanned the block then pointed,  “keep your eyes on the guy with the biggest smile.” The rookie was confused.  A lot of them were smiling but he noticed one was showing all his teeth and glowed like a reflective tape in the dark. He kept his focus as he hear his partner explain over another call, “yes we are going to need SERT in here very fast. Pretty sure the inmates formed a very poor diversion. They posed a major fight and as soon as what ever they were smuggling was done they acted as if they were all best friends and now they are acting like they just got away with robbing a bank and everyone seems over joyed. Something was accomplished. …ok. thanks.” The rookie asked, “What?” “Yeah, sometimes they get all your attention on one thing so behind your back they can get away with something else but you see smiley there ? He’s going to give us some clues.” The rookie asked, “want me to bring him in and question him?” “Nah, that won’t work. Just watch em’. He’s so excited he will probably lead us right to it.” Phil had hoped the guards were picking up on things he saw and was starting to hear. He looked at the guards and it was obvious their attention was on one man. He though, ‘As long as he knows you’re watching he’s not going to lead you to the product that was smuggled in.’ Phil used his ears rather than eyes. He heard, “We did it,  got the stuff.” Followed by, “He got it in.” Phil wasn’t sure what was handed in through a tiny whole in that corner window or who passed it off but he knew it was nothing he wanted to have anything to do with. Within twenty minutes the search team stormed in. They found nothing and the inmates howled in victory. That night Phil smelled tobacco,  nothing more, nothing less. He wondered if all that drama was over getting a few cigarettes.  He heard snickers from a few men, like kids who just stold some candy from a store or met in their tree house looking at girly magazines with a flash light trying not to wake the parents in the house below.  Phil hoped this simple pleasure of theirs wouldn’t lead to bigger things.

The next day there was more pep in the step of that group of Inmates that had some extra recreational activities last night.  ‘Could just regular cigarette tabbacco have the same effect as wacky tabbacky?’ Phil smiled as the thought went through. There were shouts, a little more play, a…lightness. More than normal the inmates seemed to be in a better, playful mood. It was strange but obviously seemed like a much better environment. Unfortunately that changed well before breakfast. Apparently the men who got away with sneaking some tabbacco in were on a high, not from the nicotine and other possible chemicals in the tabbacco but from a high they got from pulling one over on the the prison staff. These men had a temporary high but we’re looking for more. More was hard to come by, it would require great planning and bribing. So, things began to brew. The search for filling those desires was on. Men became aggressive.  Phil decided to go to his bunk. He had a sign taped above his head on the wall…

He turned to Ecclesiastes 7:9 in his Bible,  ‘Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.’ The men became more and more agitated toward each other. It was not long until they began to lace up their shoes.  Phil looked at the guards booth, beyond the door separating their dorm/sleeping area, beyond the common area where they sat to eat, behind glass. There were three doors they’d have to get through to enter the dorms. That was good for them but when something goes down it delayed them reaching the furthest part of the dorm. Some men were out beyond the common area and to the left, getting a morning shower. He wondered how many had slept at all. Roy, the self designated boss was pacing around, communicating with non-verbal clues. The common area would be open soon but right now the only ones going through it were those going or coming back from the showers. The showers would be the furthest place from the fight. The bathrooms were not always the safest place but this morning they would be. Phil knew an unwritten code that you showered when your section of the dorm was designated by some invisible wave the wrapped its way around the block. The wave was a long way off from his bunk. Roy started coming toward him. He tried to keep his head down. Roy raised his voice, “Phil, lace up.” Phil looked up and said, “I gotta pee.” Roy commanded,  “pee later, need you now!” Phil wondered what the payment would be if he didn’t join this fight.

Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me. Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood. See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me for no offense or sin of mine, Lord . I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. Arise to help me; look on my plight!

Psalm 59:1‭-‬4 NIV


Phil got down off his bunk, looked at the guards. They were busy talking to each other. They seemed unaware that things were brewing this morning.  He had hoped they’d see the men putting shoes on and congregating in the back part of the dorm. This behavior was unusual before 1st meal, if any gathering took place it would be just outside the doors leading to where they entered to eat. ‘Come on guys he thought. ‘ Roy beckoned again, “COME on now Phil, get yo’ SHOES ON!” “I don’t have shoes with laces yet.” It was not an excuse, all he had was the general issue slides. He gathered a few things as if trying to show him. Again Roy said, “We need you in this mix, teach these boys if they gonna bring somethin’ fine but it always enough to go around.” Another inmate shouted at Roy, “Your boy’s should’ve had enough to share with everyone!” Phil wished he would have shouted louder, maybe that would cause the guards to look up. Roy shouted back, “It ain’t always ’nuff,  they got it in they enjoy it!” It still wasn’t loud enough. Phil stalled the best he could. Roy continued,  “You want some you hep’ get it in!” The inmate raised his voice, “oh, you gonna pay and make sure we ‘cluded in next time. Ya’ll could’ve shared you selfish bitches!” Roy hauled into the name caller and all hell broke loose. Arms were flailing, shirts that were still on were being pulled over heads. Shouts got louder. Phil kept looking back at the guards. He heard the volume raise fast and sudden as one inmate strained his vocal cords,  “I’LL BEAT THE BRAKES OFF YOU MOTHERS!” Phil let out the loudest call possible in hopes to blend in with the mayhem, “HEY! Come on now, ALRIGHT NOW! It finally alerted the guards. One picked up a phone the other was grabbing the pepper ball riffle but waiting for back up. Two men near Phil quickly stripped down to just their shorts and ran into the mix. Phil saw four guys on one ten feet from him. He knew if he didn’t fight Roy would most likely see it as disrespectful and he’d make life in the block even harder on him but Roy’s hands were full as six men jumped on him. A few men ran around the outside of the main riot and would run in with a kick to whoever was already being beat or to some how contribute to the side they choose. The guards were completely roused now and Phil wondered how long it was going to take for them to come in and get order. Phil stood his ground, stayed on the floor near his bunk, which he was glad was not in the rear of the dorm area. Phil dove into prayer with his eyes wide open. Then Phil found himself praying out loud, “LORD JESUS CHANGE THIS ENVIRONMENT. CALM THESE MEN. YOUR WILL BE DONE LORD.” Phil watched as some of the men retreated and went back to their bunks. The men who had bunks near the corner window where the problem causing controband first entered the room were having their heads driven into the metal frames of their own beds, the floor and other men’s fists, knees and elbows.  Phil shouted with authority,  “HEAVENLY FATHER, IN JESUS NAME CALM THESE MEN, BRING YOUR PEACE LORD! JESUS, JESUS,  JESUS, SEND YOUR HOLY SPIRIT! !!” The he looked at the men who didn’t join in or had just stopped. He then spoke to them, “This ain’t the answer, whatever the issue is, this ain’t gonna solve anything. ” Then he prayed silently,  ‘Lord I trust you, keep us out of this. Please calm the men in the midst of this brawl. Bring them to their right rationale minds.’ Phil found himself moving toward the riot. He reached the middle of it and said, “In Jesus name, stop men, stop, this solves nothing.” He realized there was no way to truly convince them but felt led to try. Bodies bumped and were shoved up against him. Phil went to his knees and made his body into a ball as he called out, “LORD HEAR MY PRAYER. STOP THIS STORM IN JESUS NAME AND FOR THE SAKE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.  HOLY SPIRIT CHANGE THESE MEN!!! OPEN THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS, JEEEEESSSSSUUUUUS!!!” Phil felt blood hitting his skin. A few men fell over his body. Then he felt the weight of bodies being heaped onto him. It was a dog pile and within a few seconds he was under eight men. He felt the warm blood now pouring over him, no longer splatters,  more like a bath. He remained balled up and prayed diligently.  Then finally shouts from guards and a few, “FOOOP, PAT, FOOOOPFOOOOP, PATPAT!!!!”, sounds of pepper balls being fired and making contact with some of the men, immediately followed by YELPS, from those on the receiving end. He could see nothing. Even the sunlight from the windows was snuffed out by the heap of bodies covering him. Then things were suddenly extremely quiet. There were moans and a few barks from the correctional officers but it sounded like the calm after a storm. Phil remained still, his body crushed beneath the weight of the men piled on top of him. Slowly the guards pulled them off. Some of them completely limp. They were flopped to the side. Phil heard the call, “We need medical for sure!” As the bodies were removed Phil straighten out into a prone possession just before he felt a knee lodged into his back. He was no threat but he knew whoever this was didn’t know that and their natural high was in taking order just as some of the inmates high was from destroying it. Phil spoke to himself, ‘they will review the tapes, they will see I was trying to break it up.’ The officer in charge then shouted, “okay, funs over boys! We will view what the cameras recorded and WE WILL be dealing with those involved.  For now everyone go to YOUR bunk and you are ALL on dorm lock down until further notice!” Phil got up to go to his bed and noticed some of the men were not moving. Six guards were waving their pepper guns around and seemed to be ready, almost eager, to fire off some more rounds.He noticed more blood than he expected.  Some was from small skin breaks the pepper balls made, other pools were formed from gashes from inmates heads and noses. His biggest concern was those men that were not moving. The chemical smell burned everyone’s eyes and nose. There was no escape. Men began to cover their face with shirts trying to breath.  Phil stuggled through the burn to scanned the room for Roy. He layed in a back corner surrounded now with nothing but enough blood to fill a kiddie pool. The medics entered and immediately called for more supplies and stretchers.  “FULL CODE, CRASH CART TOO!”, One called over his walkie. The men sat back on their designated beds now and watched the gruesome ending to what later would be labeled as the worse fight of all time in block D history. Others blocks still had it beat and other prisons had seen full blown riots where there wasn’t a room untouched with either bloodshed, paralysis or even some beheadings. Block D was categorized as holding inmates that were the least threat and the staff didn’t take some of the same precautions but now they wished they would have had  some in place for just this sort of unpredictable behavior.  The breakfast treys showed up and the state law required the inmates be fed what was on the menu for that day but there were too many medical emergencies going on at this time to organize the feeded. The Warden entered the block with the dietary staff and explained how this was going to work, “We’ll be serving food in shifts. NO BODY MOVE, until you are told. STAY ON YOUR RACK until you are told otherwise. ” He moved around the dorm room making an assessment for himself. He then instructed the food staff to bring they treys to the men while they remained in their beds. The inmate on the top bunk directly next to Phil said, “mmmm, breakfast in bed.” He didn’t say it very loud but one of the guards addressed him, “SHUT UP!” The guard made eye contact with Phil. ‘Hope he didn’t think that was me, he thought that was ME! Oh Lord, help these men.’ Was all Phil could process. The smell of Breakfast was mixed with human body odor, fermones, the sent of blood and chemicals. As medics took some bodies out that were completely unfunctioning a clean up crew came in with mops and sanitary supplies, industrial strength.  Those finishing breakfast were now fighting the toxic fumes. The clean up team had to use squeegees and then mops to try and removed the excessive amount of body fluids. Some of the mattresses were completely removed, leaving a trail as they were taken out. Phil hung his head low only to look up and observe several other men shaking their heads as if trying to get the images out as well. Phil thought how many of the men felt that the staff was their enemy and yet this riot just showed them fellow inmates could be just as deadly if not more of a threat to life than the institution with its over zealous guards trying to prove a point. The whole judicial system seemed unfair and full of flaws but what had just happened taught them, no one is safe from anyone. Phil thought of the expression, ‘This whole  world is going to Hell in a hand basket… all the more reason to not be part of this old world’s plan.’ He prayed, ‘again Lord, I know I have no choice to be in here or not. For whatever reason you have, it is your will I accept. So, although I am in here help me not to become part of this world. Keep transforming me, renewing me, in Jesus name, amen.’ Phil was thankful he didn’t spend much time worrying over how Roy may react to him not joining the fight. Roy was now dead, probably already in a thick rubber body bag and slid into a cooler. News came back that three men died in that civil war. Sixteen injured. No one got official word until that evening.

The next morning there was a silence over the whole block. The guards were more observant than normal and the showers and toilets were off limits. ‘If only the guards were this alert yesterday…’ , thought Phil. Rather than come in the dorm the older guard barked commands over a speaker. Phil watched him through the glass as he gave the wake up call, “Attention, inmates…” ‘Who else would hear this other than inmates.’ Phil thought, ‘is that to remind us who we are, what we are?’ The voice continued,  “It is Nooooow time to wake up!” Phil looked around. Most men had already been up over an hour ago. The speaker buzzed as the voice came through mechanically,  “You have one hour until breakfast.  No showers and no use of the bathroom.” Phil wondered how many other men, like him had to pee first thing every morning and was is really necessary to make the toilets off limits? He noticed a few men using jugs to relieve themselves and doing it as secretive as possible,  that too could get them in trouble. Many of them knew they were already up for evaluation because once the tapes were fully viewed they’d deny having anything to do with the fight even though they’d be caught with undeniable evidence. Phil prayed they’d see him with arms out and up praying and asking for the violence to stop. That night seven men were taken out for questioning,   only three did not return. The few men Phil knew were talking about what started the whole thing, with some speculation.  Apparently some of the inmates arranged to have a guard slip some smokes to them, the fake fight over the shoes was all a big diversion. “3 packs? That’d all?” , Asked one of them. The other confirmed,  “3!” “No wonder they flew off the chain. Took more than 3 men to organize it and now some em’ at hospital or already in morg.” Phil kept to himself,  ‘ It didn’t take much to loose your balance in here, especially if you’re not stable to begin with.’ Phil was again thankful for a good foundation and for not being punished again, even when trying to do the right thing. One thing was sure now, it was much calmer than ever before and the level of security and awareness was higher, although it was a day too late.

CHAPTER 22

NEVER ALONE

The block lost several men, some beyond the point of no return. It still had it’s share of trouble makers but with fewer men and with guards who had just had an experience that caused them to see how fast things could change and go bad the block was given the attention and respect due. The guards were no longer allowing the horse playing that too often led to full blown bullying.  They kept their eyes peeled for all contraband. Now they were enforcing rules they use to let slide. In some ways it was so restricting but this was prison, it was supposed to be restricted. Phil noticed a few men wondering aimlessly around, troubled. He call out to one, “Hey, what’s up man? You okay?” The young man came over, “Hey…uh, I am Jacob.” “Hey Jacob. I am Phil.” Phil introduced him to the men within his own area of bunks. Jacob knew Jimmy but never spoke to Phil or the rest of them before. Phil had been here long enough now to mix and mingle and meet others. He continued to engage the new young man in conversation,  “I couldn’t help but notice you seem lost.” Jacob hung his head,  “yeah…since Roy gone I feel like I lost my dad again.  He was like a father to me. I been through a lot, just like I’m sure you guys have but…man this really hard. I lose everything thing that seems to help me. It’s all been taken, sometimes cause I throw it away or cause…ummm, I don’t know it’s like God just don’t want me ta’have good things and he makes sure I lose it.” Phil opened up, “Ya know Jacob, When I felt that I had no other choice than to divorced myself from my children’s mom I recall crying out to God, thinking He couldn’t understand…I heard him whisper to my soul. He said, ‘My child,  I was Physically there on earth but I also separated myself from mother earth. I still keep in contact with all my children, you’ve got letters to read (Phil held up his Bible) and I call to your heart directly (Phil held his hands like he was in prayer). Listen. Someday we will be reunited.’ I could hear him saying that to me. Ya know Jacob,  There is no doubt this world sucks. Everything we see is going to died, pass away, but God has more than all this planned for us man.” Jacob looked up at Phil, “You some type a preacher man or something? ” Phil smiled, “Just another child. You let God be your Father and I can garuntee you won’t be lost regardless of what you lose. We’ve all lost our freedom and loved ones but we still have a soul that no one else can touch.” Jacob wasn’t convinced,  “I don’t know, I’ve seen some seriously corrupt men of God and I ain’t about to be like them.” “Me either,  I stopped letting people tell me what God is like and began to find out for myself. ” Jacob nodded,  “It’s as if some feel like it’s their mission to save us from ourselves. I’ve had some guys tell me my belief wasn’t enough.  I had to attend their meetings and become part of their church to get to heaven. ” “And you believed them?”, Phil asked. “Well, no. I just stopped even looking for God cause seems like only place I’d heard about him was from these type people. ” Phil nodded, “You know what John 3:16 says?” Jacob said it from memory,  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that who ever believes in him won’t perish but have everlasting life.” “Yep, you memorized it, now internalize it. Just believe it.” Jacob straighten up his body, “yeah I have, I do but then these people I been around start saying I gotta do this and that and be around them and be like them.” Phil said,  “you wanna please them or God?” Jacob’s brow wrinkled,  “huh? What you mean?” “Seek what is really pleasing to God, according to His Word.  Don’t just go on man made religion.  Sounds like you got the belief in Him, now it’s a matter of getting into Him and Him into you a lil’ deeper, more mature. ” “Yeah, I guess you right. What your name again?” “Phil.” “Okay Phil, good talk. You gotta tell me more on how and stuff cause I really feel lost dude.” Phil encouraged him, “Read the book of John, it was written so that you would come to know and believe. The only difference, it sounds like, you’ve seen people who believe of God’s son rather than in him. When we are in Him and He is in us the changes to please God begin to come naturally because He changes our nature, He doesn’t force us and give us ultimatums.  We find salvation through all He did, not through what we can do.” “Makes sense .” Jacob confirmed.  Phil had no intention of becoming the next pod boss. He had no hidden adgenda to convert this whole pod to Christianity.  He just simply loved Christ and found a great personal foundation for life in Christ and longed to share it with others so they would enjoy this same love, peace, Grace and blessings. Jacob went to walk away.  Phil wanted to add one more thing, “I’m sorry for your loss, Roy was a good man in many ways.” Jacob turned back and couldn’t hide his tears. Phil offered, “Jacob,  we will never find a perfect human being and we will never be all that others want us to be but God is, can and will always be all you need.” Jacob looked around, used his shirt to dry his eyes, “Roy was like a father to me.” Phil let there be some silence between them then said, “I don’t know what it is like for a dad to die but I am a dad and I know what it is like for a son to die.” Jacob made eye contact,  “Your son died?” “Yes and I can tell you, it hurts but it causes me to seek out more in life. My own son reminded me we all die, it is what we do while we are alive that gives us meaning in this life. I don’t believe what we do will be a determination on if we go to heaven or hell I believe that all depends on us accepting what Christ did for us. Once you accept that and believe in him then you will still mourn the loss of others but you know, the present and the future have meaning.” Jimmy, Walter,  Nick, even  Ahmed and Lil’John were now gathered around but it was as if there were just three people in this conversation,  Phil, Jacob and The Holy Spirit. The main speaking was from The Only Holy One.

CHAPTER 23

NEW CODE

Since the slaughter and death of some men things couldn’t avoid change in Block D. The men even began to joke with each other but in healthy ways. Ahmed even tried a dried up joke you’d usually hear a dad try on his kids, “What do you call an arrogant  inmate going down some stairs? A condescending con, depending.”

Yes, just as you can change a combination of numbers to open a safe, so also was the dynamics and ethics of block D changed. The mini riot in that block alone was one of the worse the prison had seen in a long time but because of it some much needed changes took place. The video review showed the leak of contraband,  the three inmates didn’t need to snitch, the warden found out the only guard able to get it in through the the window was Ron Mason, the one doing morning out door patrol. While inspecting the windows that lead from each block to outside he used his time to pass through the contraband. They never found out what or how he got paid but found out it was from sources the inmates had outside the system.  Mason would soon be an inmate, after a full investigation. Little did they know getting rid of him would solve several other problems. When questioned he simply said, “It is just cigarettes, not drugs. Those men have ties to the community and helping them was intern a way to help the community. I didn’t think it would cause a riot.” Regardless of his illrational reason and intentions it was wrong. Mason played favorites and to make himself look better would do favors for certain inmates while treating others with extreme harsh force. The mission of the prison was clear, however,  Mason was one of those guards who did what he thought was okay, regardless of the prison’s doctrines. He was great with paperwork but not able to get along with guards and most inmates. As sad as it was to have to terminate a staff member and lose of a few inmates the prison was truly a different environment.  The men in block D who stayed away from the rebellion were left behind. Those who longed for this place to be under better control and tolerable rules remained. They were the few who understood, they had to do their time and this was prison, not some country club where you look for or can earn rewards. They were there to serve that time, make the best of it and maybe even learn a few things. Although some staff treated some inmates like animals because some were very animalistic the only time Phil was going to act like an animal was when he had to defend himself. It was at those times when he moved more like a boa constrictor snake, otherwise he was as calm as a dove, bringing as much peace as possible to this harsh environment.

Tonight seemed different. Phil thought to himself, ‘What made this night different from any other night?  Was it just the passing of time, another day passing? I can add another one to the count down, or am I counting up? He smiled to himself as he thought a little deeper. . .he entered into another conversation with His faceless friend,  “Father, I don’t know what the future holds but I know that You hold the future.  I will try to be a captain but YOU draw the chart, sailing into destiny,  closer to the heart.” He continued to get into The Word of God and let Him get into Phil’s way of life in and out of every season life brought his way.  The Phil prayed a Psalm, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord , whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? Psalms 56:8‭-‬11 ESV

Phil endured jail and now he was enduring prison, what would be the next season he’d encounter and, with God’s help, also endure? Perhaps a fatal  diagnosis of someone dear to him or another loss of another loved one, perhaps being hospitalized himself. He did not know but he did know that what ever season comes, God is ultimately in control.

THE END

This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.

INSPIRATION for this story from:

The Holy Spirit 

The Holy Bible 

Chip Ingram and Living on the Edge ministry  (www.LivingontheEdge.org)

GA federal penitentiary

Jails across the United States and Mexico City.

Chaplain Ken Aspund St. Augustine,  Fl

E.P.I.C. Detox

Alexx Bailey (my only son) Pressing Words

WordPress

A very special thanks to my wife Rhonda for her patience with me, my children:

Abbey, Madi, Olivia, Alexx, Kyri, Christopher and Carol-Ann, as well as,  my whole family for all your encouragement.

For a list of other stories I wrote  go to: https://tombeetlebailey.wordpress.com/stories-poems-and-art/

For another good blog check out: https://misscaffeinated.wordpress.com/author/misschristinacoffee/

Entire STORY “Season Of Jail”1st EDIT (All Parts 1-5 Ch. 1-31 and conclusion)

Working Title  “Season of Jail”

A story by Tom E. Bailey

⚠Under editing and still constructing here is entire story after 1st edit⚠ 

This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.


What does a person do when they’ve lost their freedom and time while gaining  a new living environment replacing  loved ones with those who are unlovable?

Follow Phil Realman as he tries to maintain his values while accepting one of the most challenging seasons in his life.  You think you got it rough? May we realizes it is who lives inside us that rules. May we learn to let God be our source, more powerful than our own will and will power.

CHAPTER 1

MOB IN THE POD
Jason Coty, nickname ‘Chaos’,   was left handed. A fellow inmate, Phil Realman, noted it a few weeks ago as he observed those who seemed to pose threats trapped in Pod Z of the county jail. There was always  an obvious tension in the air.

Phil never planned on being in jail, who does? Even the extremely  active and affluent criminal will say, “I ain’t trying to go to jail!” It also seemed that no one in lock up considered themselves guilty.Very few accepted that they were paying for their crimes and in Phil’s case he was being held until proven guilty, innocent yes, but still paying the same time, a price higher than any monitory citation. The law and states pursuit for justice wasn’t always fair, right or easy but here men and women find themselves literally stuck an environment where the majority rules and that majority is not law abiding citizens nor law enforcing authorities. Regardless of those who wanted to just do their time and wait for trial peacefully the environment of ‘the big house’ can cause a man to crack, give in and submit to becoming a criminal if not already a con artist in an attempt to survive. Although there is a difference between jail and prison, some of the same lifestyles are encountered while being held. Some facilities also treat all inmates  with the same level of punishment,  discipline, restrictions and precautions regardless of what they are really like, what their track record shows,  as a human being.   When treated like animals people tend to act that way.
Jason, a.k.a chaos, approached Phil to gain notoriety as the “Pod boss”. Phil was gaining more and more credit and respect from the other men and Jason didn’t like it. Phil noticed a figure lurking around him, it was Jason, and that was the only warning he had before the impact came toward the back left side of his head. Phil grabbed the arm and spun around. The  two handed grip on Jason’s arm was strong enough for Phil to throw his own legs up and around his assailant’s left arm. With one leg on each side and his arm, clenched like a vice in Phil’s hand, Jason knew immediately he was rendered helpless. Phil just held on and let his body weight do the rest. Although nothing came out, Phil’s thoughts said, “wanna dance?” Jason went to his knees as he realized the fight he started wasn’t going any further. The other men hardly had time to gather, it all happened so fast. Nothing more needed to be done.  Nothing more needed to be said. Jason flopped like a bear in a trap and knew his arm was about to break if he tried fighting any further. Phil just laid back, no leg muscles needed just torque and leverage.  He held the arm as tight as possible and knew as long as he kept his grip Jason would soon give up. When the shouts, cheers and squeals came Phil still held on. The other men were waiting for more. They wanted to see blood but it was over, all but the pain in the arm of “Chaos”. After a good 30 seconds Phil said, “someone may want to call a medic, this man’s arm is about broken.” Many of the men let out a hoot but a few of Jason minions weren’t  laughing. They shoved a few men out of the crowd gathered around the scene but as one went to kick Phil in the head Phil just arched his back slightly and Jason demanded, “NO!   BACK OFF!! HE’LL BREAK IT!!!” Held hostage,  Jason lowered his voice and shivered in pain pleading with Phil, “ok, ok, OK bro, I give…I give! You win! Lemme’ go. Please bro. Dude, let me go, I’m done man. I’m done!!!” Phil repeated what he said a few seconds ago, “some one call a medic!” He knew he could not let go. It wasn’t going to be over until the Correctional Officers came. A few inmates ran to the door and pounded frantically yelling for a guard until they finally got a response.  The guards looked down the long hall and one chirped his walkie talkie asking surveillance, “what’s going on in Pod Z, WHAT YOU SEE, OVER?!?!” Surveillance came back with, “not sure, one man down, looks like no fight, maybe medical.” They buzzed the cell door open, an override only they had control over as the guard closest to the door was about to use his key. The buzz and the approval of, “CLEAR, Enter pod -Z, code blue medical, grey standard!” , came over the over hear speaker, by-passing all walkies. A second announcement confirmed the first but to the end of it they added, “green stand-by alert. White alerted.” They announcement was repeated in its entirety four times as four guards entered Pod-Z. A few more guards ran in the direction of Pod Z. One inmate yelled, “come on this guy’s arm is broke the F*off!!!” The lead guard said, “we wait for full back up!” The guards in the video booth were confused.  There didn’t appear to be a fight. “MAYBE ONE HAD A HEART ATTACK!” said one if the viewers. “Maybe they faking one.”, said his partner. The men in the pod were observed gathering around two other men but the two were not flailing their arms or darting toward, away or around each other at all. They saw one inmate laying flat on his back, legs up in the air and the other slumped over  with one arm down between the other’s legs. “What the heck is going on?” Said the man who made the over head call. With all six guards present and armed with pepper ball guns they entered the Pod and gave the command, “EVERYONE DOWN!!!” They saw no one fighting. As the guards came in the pod Phil let go, flipped onto his stomach and spread his arms and legs out. All the guards saw was one man trying to recover. The lead C.O. insisted, “WHERE IS THE OTHER ONE?! WHO’S FIGHTING?! COME ON, IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO!!!” Jason was almost in too much pain to talk but he thought twice because he also didn’t want to be a snitch. After the Correctional Officer realized addressing Jason was useless he spoke to the whole pod asking, “who was fighting this man?!? Fess up, we got it on video! Who is the other actor?!” That’s when Phil spoke up, “I was!” He was not out of breath at all and the C.O. wasn’t sure whether to even believe Phil was the other one or if he was trying to take the fall for somebody else. After they took the two men out of general population threw them in segregated solitary confinement they reviewed the tape and watched it all unfold. It was a clear case of self-defense and forced them to ask, “when somebody goes to strike you if you grab their arm and hold them in a submission hold is that really even considered a fight?”

CHAPTER 2

DE-EVOLUTION DURING EVALUATION

When the correctional officers went to solitary confinement to talk to Phil they asked him what he did. All Phil said was, “I turned the other cheek.” The correctional officers said, “we’ve reviewed the tapes. We want you to give us more details than that. Explain!” Phil said, “I was just minding my own business but aware of my surroundings when the other inmate came up behind me he hit my head, my left ear. I just grabbed the man’s arm and used it as leverage to put him in an arm bar.” The C.O. persisted, “go on…” Phil took a breath, “that’s it. I just held that position. He could have struck me with his other arm, or tried to use his legs, but I just held on to his left arm, straighten my legs and only arch my back when things got worse.” The officer said, “worse?! You could have broke his arm!” “Only if I arched more or if he went against the angle.” “Why didn’t you break it?” Phil breathed again, “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will quarrel. I didn’t need to continue the violence I just needed to stop it.” “Stop the violence what a new concept”, said the tough correctional officer,  “thank you for your time.” Phil thought, “hmph, my time.”

When they went to Jason’s private cell to get his side of the story Jason said he didn’t want to talk about it but the correctional officers persisted and reminded him that they saw the tape. Jason said, “man, that night the guy just grabbed my arm and I couldn’t get away. He wouldn’t let go. I tried to hit him with my right arm but I couldn’t get to him he just held me there bra’, almost nearly broke my arm!” The Correctional Officer said, ” you hit him first didn’t you?” Jason slurred his speech try to not incriminate himself but also be portrayed as hard,  ” we jus’ were hittin’ …he was hitin’ me I hit him.  The guy’s a punk. What you gonna do?  Soon as I hit him he grabbed my arm and wouldn’t fight any more, it wasn’t a fair fight at all dude!!!” The correctional officer said, “no, it was definitely fair, you just weren’t able to do anything about it.” Jason said, “man, I’ve put down another man with just one punch before.” The officer said, “one punch was all this man needed to turn around on you, expose his other cheek and yet you weren’t able to do a thing about it.” Jason said,  ” yeah but he could have broke my…he hit me first and he nearly broke my ARM Bra’!” The officer interrupted, “… but he didn’t and we know you started it, YOU,  not him.” Jason said, ” I want to press charges because he hurt me bad!” the officer said, ” you tried to hurt him and he stopped you, everything stopped there and so now everything stops here. Enjoy your 30 days in the  shoe.” They then went back to Phil. Although they wanted to released him back to Pod Z they told him, “Your fight is still under investigation. We have to talk to the powers that be and ah…investigate further so ah, when we pass on our report we’ll tell ’em what you shared and put it all under investigation. Ok?” They didn’t wait for an answer the “ok?” was rhetorical. Phil hung his head and those words haunted him. He thought about why they called this the shoe (solitary holding on evaluation). His life lately was all about a huge evaluation and investigation. He strived  to keep from unraveling,  keep evolving, keep surviving.

CHAPTER 3

POD GOSSIP 
Back in Z-Pod there was still a big buzz over the fight, if you could call it that. Mugz, a 20 year old young man insisted the way Phil  handled Jason was the same way he killed a guy, “That why he in jail, slaughtered the guy!” Johnson, an older, more mature male shook his head, “Mugz, he’s in on involuntary man slaughter.” Mugz shouted back, “who would volunteer to be slaughtered?!” Rob butted in, “he’s in on murder.” Johnson just shook his head again and rolled his eyes with a smirk he couldn’t hide from his face. Jones spoke up and straightened Mugz, “no dude, he hit a guy with his car and t’was ‘assident…he didn’t mean to hit em’.” Tex, a tall, very very thin pail young man with a neck as red an shinny as a stop light said, “Ya’ can go to jail…FOR THAT?” Johnson offered legal advice, “ya’ll so stupid, Phil said it was an ex of his ex wife who didn’t like em’ and the only reason he got charged is cause the ex’s family says Phil hit him on purpose. They didn’t like em’ so n’ ‘asident turns in to ‘da blame game, that’s all. HEY, TEX, ALL YOUR EX’S LIVE IN TEXAS?!”  “FALSE CHARGES!” yelled Winters, a young black inmate, “just like what they got me on!” Johnson said, “You said you got drug charges Wint!” Winter interjected, “ya but it ain’t all that, that shii ain’t mine, Trevor done planted that mofo!” Billy, a heavy set middle age male asked, “so he was framed?” “Nooooo, dang you so…ugh, he accused. ” Jones completed it, “falsely accused but they got investigate that shiicuz he could’ve been pissed at em’ and the ex could be run down next.” Sonny, with tats that covered most of his face said, “I don’t see Phil running anyone over on purpose,  ‘specially when the dude can fight. Man he could’ve broke J’s arm! Woo whooo!” A few bystanders yelled out, “woot woot!” Which triggered a few more in the Pod to make dog barking sounds back. Mugz said, “He did break it!” Jones corrected him, “He was gonna break it off but it w’nt broke, just hurt like a mofo.” As he smile Johnson said, “I know that right!” Tex asked, “so he gotta sit n rot in here til’ they prove he didn’t run down the man?” Johnson confirmed, “that the way it is my brother.  Innocent but locked up until they make you full guilty, no matter if you guilty or not!!” The bitterness spread through the pod. The more they were treated like dogs or caged animals the more they acted like it, or was it the other was around, the more they acted like wild animals the more they were treated that way?  One thing was clear, the guards could hear the dogs barking.

CHAPTER 4

INTERCESSION INTERSECTION 
Phil, in confinement, took advantage of the Solitude rather than taking it for granted or looking at it as unjust punishment. He tried to do his fair share of sleeping the time away but used meal delivery time as a way of telling what time of day it was. He’d try to stay asleep until morning ‘chow’ but sometimes his mind wouldn’t let him. He was allowed a journal,  a Bible and a pencil that was made from a pliable substance that made it as bendable as licorice.  No one was going to be able to use it as a shive, that was an impossibility. Phil wrote, “The investigation goes on…as I sit in solitary confinement I investigate what I have done and what I can do differently.” Although what he was about to write he had written a thousand times before he wrote it yet again, “I’ve done nothing wrong on purpose. The Truth will prevail.” Then he wrote a prayer,  “Lord, may they see that I did not hit and kill Mark with my car on purpose.  I was driving to work, Mark was jogging and stepped out into traffic. Anyone driving by could have hit him, but it was me. It was me Lord. As I write this prayer I realize you already know all this, I’m talking to myself more than You. I don’t mean to. You know my situation.  Help me wrap my head around it and may the truth and justice prevail. I have faith in you but no faith in the system or in the way this world’s ‘correctional justice system’ works but YOU are bigger than, so much bigger than it all.” Phil wrote in big bold dark letters, “my God, YOU’RE bigger than it all. So I fix my eyes on You and know that YOU will work it all out.  Everything is going to be alright.” Phil then turned to the back of his journal and lifted up to God all the names he listed saying out loud, “Lord you know these people,  you know all our hearts & i give all my cares to you regarding…” He moved his hand down the page as he remembered these people, some accusers, some accused and others simple family, friends, brothers and sisters who he hoped were remembering him in their prayers as well. One name Phil’s hand dwelled on more than anyone else was Jim Smith. At first he couldn’t recall this person, then he noted a “s” next to the name.  That told him it was someone on the “s”taff members  there in the jail. “Oh yeah, the guy that came and asked questions.” He thought, then prayed, “Lord give him direction, not just for my situation but for all he has to determine regarding this place.” Phil’s thoughts then expanded  outward to the larger investigation of his case,  what they brought him to jail for. He also prayed for the family of the one he struck down. He asked The Lord for forgiveness as he forgave those who were falsely accusing him.

CHAPTER 5

A HARD DAYS WORK
The guards had a conversation of their own regarding the “self defense fight”, they were now calling it, that took place April 2nd in Pod Z between inmates #2657923 & #7794631 better known by their family members as Jason & Phil. Chief Investigator of Inmate Conflicts (CIIC Jim Smith) was never positive and always presumed,  ‘they are all guilty and that’s why they are here’. Today was different,  from a good breakfast to a slightly less stressful drive to work Jim was feeling pretty good and although he didn’t acknowledge God for all he had today his mind was a little less cluttered with the desire to slam everyone around him for not being as well off, handsome and capable as he was. The Correctional officers from Pod Z who were first to arrive on the scene asked Smith what he thought. Smith took a deep breath. “Well…obviously ya’ll seemed to have gotten there, THIS time, IN time before any blood shed.” They looked at each other both wondering if that was a compliment or a dig on how they responded in the past. It didn’t really matter.  They knew Smith was never pleased. Smith went on, enjoying the sound of his own voice, “I say someone needs to have this guy (pointing at the video recording of the one who held the arm bar) tell them why he didn’t break the other piece a trash’s arm! Next time, and there is always a next time, he will snap a bone & we’ll not only have blood we’ll have a broken arm.” The sheriff was never happy with Smith’s attitude but knew he needed someone in that position who wasn’t too soft that would enforce rules and set examples of what happens when inmates break rules. Smith asked, “What you think Sherriff, you’re the one who holds the office. Everyone could see the fine line Smith drew between complimenting him for promotional purposes and a ting of jealousy. No one else was able to know about the conversation Phil was having with The Lord during this trial but there was definitely a supernatural presence. The Sheriff spoke up, “If we could get more of these men to employ self defense tactics, under control, like this Phil Realman did, heck if we had guards that knew when to move and how to do this we’d all be better off.” Some hung their head in shame Smith puffed out his chest and raised his chin as if it were his idea to make this jail more proficient.  The sheriff went on, “Now I don’t mean we don’t know how to maintain order or get things under control when things get mucked up but we can do better.” One of the C.O.s raised their hand then spoke when Smith nodded his way, “What if we had training on pressure points and some type of submission holds?” Smith said 2 words, “dollar signs.” A fellow C.O. said, “You should already know that from the academy!” The Sheriff agreed but offered, “What about a refresher course?” Smith repeated, but louder, “DOLLAR SIGNS!” To which the Sheriff replied “That’s why we get Phil to do it, for free.” “Who is Phil?!” Asked smith. The Sheriff pointed to the screen. Smith laughed, “I am your CIIC and you want us to have an imate show us how to control conflict? Phssshhh.” The Sheriff smiled and said, “yep, let’s have him do that in place of serving time in segregation .”

CHAPTER 6

NOT SO SOLITARY CONFINEMENT 
Solitary Confinement would be better if there was more solitude, was what Phil thought as he tried to block out all the yells, moans and barking that travel through the air. No walls or single locked door could keep the nonsense of other’s verbal expressions out. Phil tried to read to himself, “Someone will say, ‘I am allowed to do anything.’ Yes; but not everything is good for you. I could say that I am allowed to do anything, but I am not going to let anything make me its slave.” The calls for help, the complaining, the rebellious onslaught of vulgarity slowly began to faint away not because it stopped, because Phil was able to block it out. With no concept of time Phil finished reading, “he bought you for a price. So use your bodies for God’s glory.” Just then the little window to his cell clanged open. “Realman!” Yelled a CIIC. “I am CHIEF Investigator of Inmate Conflicts Jim Smith!” Phil moved over the the envelope size opening. He spoke to Smith before and recalled praying for him.”And I am HERE to tell you we are still investing the fight you had three days ago….ah….we are STILL looking into it to ah… to AHUMMM, determine if you continue to stay in S.C., confined in here or ah…what the Sheriff wants done with you.” With that, before Phil could get the 2 letters “ok” out the slat slammed shut. Phil whispered another prayer, “Lord I’m confused,  I thought punishment was just solitary confinement. What else could they do?” As Major Smith walked away from the cell one of the C.O.s said, “I thought the decision was made to get that inmate to show us some self-defense or pressure points or something like that?” Smith replied with a smirk, “I am in charge here. That’s still to be determined!” In the next morning meeting Smith pulled the sheriff a side and expressed his discontent for the decision to have an inmate teaching any kind of class. The sheriff replied with, “I already told you to do that?” Smith lied, ” I haven’t met with the inmates yet but I wanted to make sure before I tell him anything,  that’s what you really want to do?” The sheriff addressed him with kindness but firmly said, “Jim, I made the decision.  Don’t question it. Just do it please. You should have already at least met with the inmate and told him we’re working on getting him out of solitary confinement. It was not a fight in his end. They are all prisoners but they are not all the same  type of person. Each one is a human being and needs to be treated that way.” Jim changed his story, “oh yes, I met with him once already.” The sheriff did a double take between his desk and the  officer, “wait a minute. You said you had NOT met with him yet.” Smith recovered and stammered  a little bit, “Oh yeah I ah I mm, uhum, met with him, shortly before my shift ended, was runnin ‘ late tryin’ to get everything done and I told him we’re still kind of working on it but I didn’t tell him exactly what the plan was. I wanted to be sure that is what YOU want. The sheriff confirmed,  “Well, please get with the plan and tell him exactly what the plan is then get him out of solitary confinement and set up a time for him to teach some pressure points and how to resolve a conflict using some type of submission holds that will hurt but not be fatal.” Smith tried not to roll his eyes and just said yes sir as he looked down, “yes sir.” He walked away.

3 days later, now the sixth day of solitary confinement for Phil, Smith banged on the door the Phil’s cell. Phil came to the door and waited for the slot open but it never did. He could hear Sergeant Smith yelling but it was hard to make out details of the actual words. “I’m having trouble hearing you can you open the slot Sergeant Smith?” He just yelled louder, “You can hear me fine, knew it was me didn’t ya?! It’s not sound proof in there! You can hear everything just fine!” Phil strained his ears putting one up next to a crack in the door, “I’ll try!” The unintelligible shouting continued,  “Actually, what I have to tell you we’re going to have to take you to another place. My guard will explain.” Someone else shouted, “Explain things to me!” Phil heard the other inmate better than the Sargent. Phil was confused and didn’t understand the words let alone what they might even mean.  It sounded like he was trying to listen to somebody as they spoke underwater.  It was loud but not clear. The next day there was a banging on the door and this time the slot was opened and a guard said, “Inmate Realmen, put your hands to the back of the door I’m going to Cuff you and we’re taking you to another room.” He did as he was told but his head was filled with questions. Maybe there was something going on he just wasn’t aware of, after all there were many things going on that had nothing at all to do with him as an individual in this place but they had their rules and did what they did for their reasons you just had to go along with it. He was lead down a very long hallway to one of the rooms he recalled meeting in before with a small group. The guard said, “we’ll wait here for CIIC  Sargent Smith”. Phil was still wondering why Sergeant Smith couldn’t just open this flap and tell him what was going on.  They waited for which seemed like an hour and a half until Sergeant Smith finally came in. He was very Gruff and demanding as if this was a waist of his precious time. After proclaiming who he was, his credence  all he has to do, he   finally got to the point and told  Phil that he couldn’t tell him what he wanted to tell him in segregation because this was a golden opportunity that they have never offered anyone before. Phil fought back the confusion in his brain just in time to hear Sergeant Smith say , “You have two choices. You can stay in solitary confinement and just sit there and rot or wait let me make that three choices. Again, stay in solitary confinement sit there and rot and be alone and hear everybody in there complaining, nothing you can do about it or you can go back to your pod and be with those animals or you can meet for a 30-minute crash course class on self-defense. Phil went to speak but the Sergeant interrupted him,  “NOW,  let me remind you we never offered anything like this before and if it was up to ME you would just sit in solitary confinement where you should be and then after your 30 days there. ..” Phil’s thoughts interrupted his focus. Although he said nothing out loud he thought, surly it’s not a full 30 days from now. I already did several days, hasn’t it been like,  a week already? He knew better than to interrupt Sergeant Smith who went on babbling making all three options sound bad. Phil was so confused as to why he would need a self-defense course or why he would even consider taking a self-defense course.  Finally Sergeant Smith stopped rambling on and on and demanding an answer, ” so what’s your choice?”  “I’ll stay in solitary confinement.” Sergeant Smith let out of breath  and slammed his fist on the table, “THAT’S NOT AN OPTION!!!” Phil just said “okay? I hate to ask you to repeat the…”Sergeant Smith got in his face, “The sheriff and the facility  want YOU to teach a self-defense course.” Phil tried to mask a chuckle and thought, he must be joking but he could tell this man didn’t joke at least not with inmates. So, Phil just said,”I’m confused. What are my choices?” Sergeant Smith took a big sigh and said, “Why are you so stupid? All of you inmates think you can just do whatever you want to do and make your own choices and then not have to live consequences from  your choices.  You are not in control of anything, especially around here.” Phil just thought silently, ‘you got that right. He’s not telling me anything I don’t know.’  Sergeant Smith rambled on a little bit more with misguided anger. He resented prisoners. He hated how the system worked and got into the field to make it better, instead he made it worse, completely oblivious. In his mind  he was assured that he had all the solutions if they would just run things according to his strong willed disciplinary enforcement. Phil could do nothing but sit and wait. Sergeant Smith finally got to the point and said, “I’ll just tell the sheriff that your uncooperative and won’t go along with the program. All inmates never  cooperate with us. You all always have to do it YOUR WAY. You will just stay in solitary confinement refusing to teach the class.” Sergeant Smith waited for Phil’s response. He still just looked at the sergeant not knowing how to respond. It was the old parent to child, , student to teacher or even teacher to parent stand off. One challenging the other to question their position,  not as a person but as a person who held some type of authority over them. After a few moments of dead air Phil said, “Okay.” Sergeant Smith let out some more steam on how this was not negotiable and how he was in disagreement with  the whole situation. He raised his voice arguing with himself, “If that’s what you want, no skin of my sack!”Phil bit his tongue telling himself, ‘I’m just here to do my time’. Not sure if that would upset Sergeant Smith anymore but he was pretty sure no matter what he said or didn’t say Sergeant Smith was going to be upset. Just when Phil thought Sergeant Smith’s voice couldn’t get any higher in pitch and volume he bellowed,  “I’m just telling the sheriff that you’re uncooperative and you’re not willing to teach the class and you will stay in solitary confinement for 30 days.!!!!” Phil replied again, “Okay.” He knew it took at least two people to continue an argument and this was not a battle he wanted to fight or try to win, even if it was possible to reason together, this was one sided.  Unfortunately after being escorted back to solitary confinement the last thing he heard was, “Your 30 days begins now!” Rather than argue he had already done 1 week and should only have like 3 weeks left he prayed and was reminded the CIIC determines the punishment but the time is kept track of by the S.C. cell monitor.  Maybe Smith wasn’t resetting the clock just blowing hot air because he was upset over something else. It was hard for Phil to not reply the whole meeting he just survived but he knew better. He began to try and go back over the three options he thought the Sergeant had given , however, rather than think about Smith or the calendar or the reasons why all this was happening  he just prayed…

CHAPTER 7

BACK TO THE POD
Phil did no more than the original 4 weeks in solitary. Smith didn’t keep track of Phil’s time he just made sure no inmate was going to teach his facility anything. Back in the pod Phil prayed silently about life in jail including of his fellow inmates. He knew life was extreme and different in lock up but also had the faith to know that there was no reason he couldn’t survive and live like Jesus, even in here. Before meals he didn’t make a big show of it but he paused to acknowledge and give God thanks, even when it was bland or distasteful. One day a guy, everyone called “T” was sitting next to Phil during chow and he noticed Phil’s actions around the pod, how He conducted himself and now how he quietly prayed for the slop before them. “You always do that?”, mumbled “T” in the only defensive and harsh bully persona he knew. Phil smiled a little and said, “always grateful.” “T” just humphed, still trying to stay hard, “my gran mama alway did ‘dat but she be like (shifting to a LOUD high girly voice) ‘OH OUR HEAVENLY FATHER IN HEAVEN, DEAR LORDY HEAVENLY FATHER WE THANKS THEE HEAVENLY FATHER FORS’ THIS FOODAH’ HEAVENLY FATHER AND HEAVENLY FATHER, FATHER GOD WE’S THANKS THEE FOR YOU’D BOUNTY AND BREAD’AHhhh!’ -(back to his own voice) all like’s datn’ stuff.” “T” smiled and inmates 4 tables over raised their heads in wonder assuming they were hearing “T” make fun of what they witnessed Phil do before meals. Phil smiled too. Zeek, across from “T” said, “I hates that! Ya ain’t gotta yell, Lord ain’t hard a’ hearin’ and why’s they go, ‘Father God this this this and Father God & Father God and Father God….that’d be like sayin, ‘hey “T”. How you doing “T”? Thank you “T” for sitting here “T” and eating “T” and “T” for hanging out and eatin’ with us today “T”…why people do dat? God dat get on my nerf’!” Phil said, “well we all talk different, we all pray different. ” “I know dat right.”, a fellow inmate next to “T” chimed in with a mouth full of potatoes. Phil said, “maybe your grandma just wants to make sure everyone knows who she’s talkin’ to.” “T” responded with, “well damn, she make a show about it and we all know who she be talkin’ too.” “True, but she was aware others were listening as well.” Phil added. One inmate that took up the space of two average size men sat at an even greater distance added, “she show boatin’, putting on da ritz, churchin’ it up a lil’!” Phil said, “maybe, but she may just be following the example she heard from her grandma.” “T” confirmed “yeah she don’t know no better.” Phil just nodded and said, “But her heart was right.” Phil thought, who would have thought we’d be taking about prayer when our last meal conversation was about who owed who tattered tots?

CHAPTER  8

PAY BACK
“COMOCERY! ! !” Came the call from a C.O., “COTY, JASON!!!” Jason looked defensively. His first thought spewed out of his mouth, “I didn’t do ‘nuthin’!” “YOU GOT A BUNCH A STUFF HERE COTY, BETTER BE CAREFUL!” Jason was astonished to find a small box with his name on it. There was everything from honey buns to beef jerky, soda and chips in there. “I didn’t order this!” One of the guards who was known for being a little more humane stepped up, “someone got it for you.” “Who?!, I ain’t got no friends, just enemies and my boys.” A few of his followers smiled sheepishly wondering if they might get something from that box for things they have done or were willing to do for Jason. “Anonymous!” Said the guard with a smile, hiding a secret he helped arrange. Phil smiled too praying the secret would be kept. Giving commissary away was frowned upon . It led to to many fights, too often jealousy and rage broke out. It was as if giving away what was your’s in this culture was a sign of weakness and if a man gave away anything without something in return the receiver would just take more and more. The animinity was of utmost importance. This was Phil’s way of loving his enemy without becoming a target again. The plan back fired a little because, although it wasn’t much, Jason’s new commissary was currency and caused a few unforeseen difficulties for Jason, rather  blessings. This was mainly because Jason used it for leverage. That night a few of his ‘minions’ helped beat up Phil. Four held a second blanket over the one Phil was under as he was sleeping. One man on each corner. While Jason did the pummeling. Phil, trapped, just took it. The blanket was heavy. He now knew how a fish in a net felt. To add to the confusion Phil noticed a cold dampness and then some water coming through his blanket. Jason’s crew soaked a blanket then used that to put over Phil. Double coverage! The wet blanket’s weight made it impossible to move. After the beat down Jason and his accomplice ran off leaving Phil bruised, battered and wet. Phil got up cautiously, slowly and on high alert. No one was near by. A few men watched from their bunk. It was 2 a.m. and they knew not to get involved. The fight was not theirs and they knew Phil would be o.k., he was moving. Phil simply got some dry clothes on, stripped his bed and laid back down on the uncovered mattress. He used a sweat shirt as a make shift blanket over his shoulders. As he tried to go back to sleep he breathed deep, thanked God he was alive and prayed for those who just tried to beat him to death. He prayed for blessings on them and any family they had on the outside. “Lord touch them…bless them…thank you.” He said from his heart. The 4 men laid in their bunks as still as possible. 2 if them gloated in their accomplishment and knew Jason was pleased and satisfied for now. The other 2 felt shame and thought of their family on the out side. Jason was proud and still felt the rush from his victory but wanted more, nothing seemed to truly satisfy his desires.

CHAPTER 9

CHOW TALK
The next day, during morning chow Phil heard men explaining to a first timer, like himself , sitting behind him, “You see, you gotta learn the difference between a convict and an Inmate. Inmate is a prisoner here, a convict is a con artist  who just happens to be in here.” The Teaching went on, “an inmate is like a fish, we schoolon’ em’…” Phil’s body ached and the ill education he heard going on was sadly true. “The only part of correction in correctional Institute is correcting mistake we make in crime so next time we not caught.” Another convict explained, “We got caught cause we didn’t do it smart enough, we learn in here how to do more: wash checks better, taps into internets, hack, fool a jeweler, make better drugs, fool people, get away with stuff better, smarter, a betta’ playa’ play the old OLD game!” Phil then felt lil’ John sit down on the same bench he was on but a few spaces down. Lil’ John sat with his trunk toward the table but turned his head and deep masculine voice toward the men behind them, “You can also learn from mistakes and give up crime. Get a new,game plan!” The men around the newbie said, “Nah man, they’s too many teachers in here, making us students, disciples of unrighteousness.” John left it go. Getting a hold of  his thought on their perspective of what was right and wrong then throwing it out. ‘No room in there for that’, He said to himself. The cons went on, ” it up to the individual on what really pays, I earn my money. I take goods, watches, paint ball guns, stuff, mos’ly froms’ ‘walmarts’ and sell em’ I work for that money.” The first timer spoke up for the first time, “You take the goods from the store without  paying? ” “hell yeah. I ain’t gunna pay” “Then you stealing! ” “no I sell it!” Phil thought, ‘ Your payment isn’t the money you get your payment is here, now, caught n’ locked up.’ He did not enter the conversation, it was not his to enter. Maybe later, one on one he’d talk to the new guy, fresh meat the convicts would call him. The Lesson continued, “Now you knows you might get caught, that really drive me more than the money.” Another false teacher shared, “Yeah I guess you right I take that risk, it parta’ da game, cat n’s mouse but dat money make it all good.” Another inmate said, “you just think payday is from person in the black market but ultimately your payment for wrong is lock up.” Phil thought, “or worse, death…wages for crime.” Just then he heard yet another veteran inmate join in behind him, saying exactly that but even more biblical, “wages of sin is death. Crime sure don’t really pay, I know dat right but hard truef’ bra.” The teachers said, “shut up Paul! You an old man and been in here so long you don’t even know real life out dere! Don’t try n’ confuse this guy, this his first stay.” Paul boldly said, “If he listen to you it won’t be his last.” They just got more upset and ended up shoving Paul off their turf. Paul took the message and moved on before it became a full on fight he knew he would not survive. Another inmate with a small tear tat. next to his eye was sitting in front of Phil . He spoke softly, “I wish people outside of gangs had the dedication to each other that gang members have for each other.” They started their own conversation. Phil agreed, “It is rare for people to be that dedicated for a friend, let alone willing to simply give time and show they care to a stranger.” John Treeman, they called lil’ John,  was anything but lil’. He stood to his feet and walked around the outside of the little huddle of men gathered as he raised his deep tone voice, “I believe Jesus was like that…he had a gang but not like our gangs. He even did a few things his members would never do, like speak to a woman.” You could see looks of confusion then heads turned to Phil. Phil said, “why you all looking at me?” The littlest guy in the pod,  Pip spoke up, “come on we see you readin’ your Bible, sometimes it’s the only other light, your lil’ flash light at night in your bunk, you trying to not wake anyone as you scan over the pages. You must know what lil’ John talkin about…” Pip stopped there not daring to accuse Lil’ John of being wrong but in his heart he wanted to know if that was really in there. The man with the small tear tattoo finished his breakfast, stood and walked away. Lil John almost read Pip’s mind, “It’ in there bro, read about how Jesus really was, a rebel dude”. Phil said, “yeah, lil’ John is right. ” lil’ John puffed out his chest and raised his head also he raised a hand up to The Lord. Phil said, “one time Jesus was walking through a town, a hood, that was off limits, Jews vs. Gentiles. He was not only in the Gentile’s hood, that the Jews avoided, he also  stopped at a well there and spoke a woman. Jews would never speak to a Samaritan woman, a Gentile.” Jesus did!”, said lil’ John. Phil smiled. The subject shifted a little as Pip said, “prison different from jail though…thar’ you’s got ta’ join a gang or die.” Lil’ John asked, “You afraid to die Pip squeak?” “Sure I afraid to die.” Lil John went on, “there many things worse than dying…I ready to die cause I know only one reason I would die and Jesus in me, He rose, I will rise!” Phil just smiled and knew that, what he saw of lil’ John’s way of life, he lived like Jesus was inside him. Phil thought how great it would be if Christian’s were willing to stand for true faith in Christ even in the face of death. Pip asked lil’ John, “You been to prison?” “No, why you ask?” Pip just shrugged. Pip mumbled, “gangs rough.” Lil’ John said, “we got small baby gangs right in here, but you gotta stand fo’ somethin’, fo’ yourseff’ and fo’ what you really believe, who you really are, no matter where you be. You don’t do nuthin’ stupid and you ain’t got go on to prison.” Pip squeaked, “yeah but what about someone like Phil, he may go ta prison afta’ dis’ an he ain’t do nuthin’.” Phil looked up and straight at Pip’s eyes which did not meet his. Lil’ John said, “man, you don’t know that man’s future.” Pip just shrugged again. Phil spoke up, “But God does and if He wants me in prison, I’ll be going. I trust he don’t want me there…” Phil paused and took in a deep breath then finished letting his breath out with the words, “I didn’t think he wanted me in here either so….” Lil John put his huge hand on Phil’s shoulder and said, “we don’t know what God’s got in mind and for why.” Phil just nodded. “BUT…” John said loudly for everyone in the pod to hear, “…we live and trust knowing GOD KNOW’ BEST!!!” A few men mumbled and let out a “phft” sound. One very dark skinned man came over to the small group and with a strong Indian accent asked, “What’s this Bible study you got going on over here? My family said they would disown me if I become a Christian young man.” Pip thought about how his family disowned him because of his sexual preference and kept it a secret in here. The man, originally from India asked, “What happens in a family of Christians if you as a Christian man turn from Christian heritage? ” Phil said, “hmm I don’t know, I guess it depends on the family.” The man pressed on, “But what of your heritage, your bible, what does it say you do?” Lil’ John spoke quickly, “There may be times when people in da’ faith don’t hang out with a brother no more if he ain’t doing right or living like the Bible says but really we about loving anyway.” Pip thought how nice that would be. Phil said, “yeah, the Bible says to love em’ but don’t link up with em’. Don’t lose your faith and obedience to Christ.” In His Indian accent the man said, “But what if they are your family, your son or daughter or wife?” Lil John said, “same thing.” The man asked, “yes but how would you not talk to them or still let them live in your house?” Phil said, “Oh I’d still talk and live with them and show them love but whatever behavior they are doing that is not pleasing to God, according to what we know in His Word is against Him, I don’t go along with it.” Lil John added, “man, it jus’ like being in here, we gots’ ta’ live together but we all individuals and live how we want or how God wants. Everybody gotta choose.” Pip said, “But Phil if you had a son who was like, doing stuff you know the Bible says is wrong whatcha’ do?” Phil smiled, “You know my son?” Pip wasn’t sure if Phil was offended or joking. Phil picked up on that and continued, “my son went his own way, made drugs his Lord rather than Jesus and I spoke to him just the same if not more. I showed much compassion.” Lil’ John said, “n’ tells em’ What happen’.” Phil smiled, “well after a few years chasing drugs and a type of thug life…” Phil laughed, “He decided to get closer to God then asked Jesus to come in his life.” “WHOOOOOOOOOO! GLORY!!!!!, lil’ John couldn’t contain it, “You see the brotha’ got to know his heavenly Fatha’ cuz his ‘erfffly Fatha’ was like em’ he showed same type ‘UN CON DITIONAL’ love, the best a man could give!” Lil John had a southern gospel preacher voice starting to take off. Phil turned a little red and his smile was never bigger. Pip asked, “How you know to do dat?” Phil went to answer but lil’ John was now roaming around the outside of their small group gathering, bouncing as he walked saying, “He didn’t know it would happen but trust God and just live like Jesus in da’ Bible. Can’t be doin’ it fo’ anyone else you just gotta be letting Him ,JESUS, livin’ in you.” Phil couldn’t believe this conversation  was taking place in jail. Reality came with a loud sudden slam of the main door, followed by shouts from guards rushing in yelling, “EVERYONE TO YOUR BUNKS NOW!!!” It jolted all of them, it was meant to. Several C.O.s shouted the same commands and their voices were overlapping and echoing off the cement walls. Even though this happen fairly often enough it was always upsetting. Everything would come to a screaming halt. They’d lay flat until told to do what ever the guards would command . Many times their personal belonging would be turned upside down and inside out and after the guards left they’d try to find things of value: pictures, toothbrush,  pages they wrote on, things that on the outside didn’t mean much but were treasures to the inmates. Shake down was always a hardship but accepted as part of life.

CHAPTER 10

HINDU OR HYMN DO 
The man that joined the table talk that ended up being a make shift Bible study had questions of his own. He was the only one with a strong Hindu background, heritage and accent that went right along with his dark eyes, hair and skin complexion. To get more answers he wanted to approach Phil but knew coming up from behind him while Phil was filling out a commissary slip was risky. Phil was aware he was there and rather than turn his back he paused and said “Hey, i never got your name.” “Just call me P.T., you’ll never pronounce my full name right. Am i bothering you?” “No, no.” Phil said and laughed, “It’s not like I’ll run outta time and not finish this.” The man corrected him and said, “Well all commissary slips must be in before…” Phil smiled,  “No…I know, I know…what’s up? This can wait.” The man insisted, “I can wait.” He walked away. Phil thought it strange but knew very little of the Hindu culture and thought it best to just let the man go and finish his order. Later P.T. came over to Phil again, this time Phil was just sitting alone letting the t.v. fill the air. P.T. asked, “Are you watching t.v.?” Rather than try a joke that may be misunderstood or lost in translation he simply replied, “No.” P.T. asked, “It is ok to talk?” Phil said, “anytime.” P.T. said, “well, sometimes you are reading or doing something and I don’t want to interrupt.” Phil thought how nice that was and replied, “P.T. really, anytime is okay.” P.T. looked down, “But I wish not to interrupt your prayer or reading.” Phil smiled and said, “My God is always with me, inside me, we talk all the time and I listen, the best I can, even with distractions.” P.T. said, “You are a man of faith I have never witnessed before.” “Oh?” Phil waited. “P.T. was amazed Phil didn’t have an explanation at this point. P.T. continued, “You seem to be different. The way you think, things you say and how you act, the opposite of most of the inmates but also in many ways the opposite of everyone I know in this world.” Phil just smiled but still did not speak. There were a few moments of dead air and P.T. finally broke the silence, “I imagined your god, The god of the Holy Bible much like those guards during shake down…it there a big shake down coming Phillip?” Phil didn’t expect such a question.  This was a big open ended question and he wanted to give the answer he knew, he believed, according to the Bible prophecy. “First of all, Call me Phil.” P.T. Noddd and waited for the answer. “Yes, yes, there is going to be a big shake down P.T.. That is coming but The God in The Holy Bible, when you read the whole thing, you see that He wants people to be ready for it. From the start, Genesis Adam and Eve?” Phil’s voice went up as his eye searched P.T. inquisitively. P.T. nodded and said, “yes, I know of the story, go on.” Phil knew he need not say much more but just simply said, “From the start God wanted a relationship with mankind.” P.T. said, “The man and woman?” Phil replied, “with all created things.” Phil thought about how that might sound to a Hindu or even to someone who believed all things have a soul and he added, “with all human beings.” P.T. waited for more. Again, the dead air surrounded them but the noise from other inmates and the t.v. in the background kept it from being silent. P.T. still waited. Phil just smiled. P.T. waited a little longer then said, “is there more?” Phil asked, “More? What more do you need to know?” P.T.’s brow wrinkled a little not sure what to say or ask, again, dead air. Phil finally said, “I mean P.T. I had to decide if i believed in a God, one God, who created everything and if i did, then how would i find out more about him. ” P.T. asked, “How did you learn more about him?” “I prayed, spoke to him and asked, ‘If you are real, really the only God, let me know. Then I opened my eyes and then He opened my eyes really.” “Then you read the Bible?” “More and more.” P.T. asked but hesitantly, “Did you feel anything.” Phil gave a smile and said, “Yes, deep down in my gut. But it was more than a feeling, it was…” searching for a word P.T. said, “Faith.” Phil thought and said, “Yeah and now I grow more and more, since I invited Him in” P.T. said, “You are possessed?” Phil smiled and said, “Yes, yes I am, now.” “Now?” “Phil explained,”I wasn’t filled or ‘possessed’ before, not until I asked God to reveal Himself to me in a very real way.” P.T. trembled a little bit, “I think I want to know your god.” Phil said, “He is not just mine. He is THE God and He wants to be everyone’s God” Phil waited. P.T. insited, “I want to know Him and Him to know me.” Phil said, “It is simple, He already knows you, you just have to get to know Him. Get personal with Him.”  “But…but..my family, they will not want me to know him.” Phil spoke as gently as he knew how and only because they were in jail he thought it best not to put his hand on P.T.’s shoulder said, “P.T. you have to talk to Him, like you are talking to me and He will love you more than your family could ever love you, now, tomorrow, the next day or even when the big ‘Shake down’ takes place.” Phil smiled. P.T. nodded and stepped away already feeling a touch to his gut that there was one God and he was about to meet with him. Phil watched P.T. walking away then turn and come back. He hesitated then asked Phil, “Do I have to kneel?” Phil said, “It sounds like you already are kneeling.” P.T. smiled for the first time, “I am very humbled.” Phil winked and smiled, “Your heart is already talking to Him.” P.T. smiled even bigger as a tear formed in his eye. “I go now Phillip, I mean Phil.”  Phil smiled and just nodded in agreement, “Good talk.” P.T. tried to hide his face from everyone, “This ‘berry strange…’berry, ‘berry strange indeed… I….I…feel….” Phil kept smiling, “You’re okay P.T., that’s the way God moves and speaks.” The only thing P.T. could get out was, “‘Berry strange to me.” Phil’s smile broke into a slight laugh, “Good P.T. very good for you and for Him. Once I was blind and now I see.”

CHAPTER  11

GOING TO THE CHAPEL AND WE’RE GOING TO GET MANGLED 
That night Phil was attacked the same way he was before but managed to use his pillow to bloc blows to his face. This time Lil’ John came over and the frenzy was cut short.
Jason was bragging to those he knew fed on violence. A few men encouraged him, “You beat em’ DOWN good chaos, you beat the bricks off him!!” Jason smiled and puffed out his chest, while making sure Lil’ John wasn’t  coming,   “It settled now…he ain’t gunna try n’mess with me again, pay back cost too much for that punkashbiotch’!” It was over for now but one of them who had no remorse wanted more so he stirred things up with, “I heard he in on child molestin!” “Ohhhhh a chester, we got a chesterfield in heerrr’?” Jason corrected his slightly dumber friends, “Nah man they keep them all together in another pod. He a killa’.”, then changing subject, “hey, wanna go to Chapel service today?” His posse thought he was joking then realized he had a plan, they saw the wheels in his head moving and could hardly wait to see what he was setting up.

Across the pod, far from Jason’s meeting, was Phil watching men play cards in the common area. Lil’ John asked Phil if he was going to Chapel again. Phil replied, “no, not this week, maybe not again, depends on who it leading it.” Lil’ John agreed, “yeah I like getting out of the pod but I hate going to Chapel when the guest doesn’t seem to get into the meat of the word.” Pip came over and asked the same thing, “are you guys going to Chapel? I use any excuse to get outta this pod, even for 30 minutes. P.T., you going?” Phil wondered if Chapel would be good for P.T. or just add confusion. ” Lil’ John said, “I going, Phil not.” Phil addressed Lil’ John directly, “If who ever is doing the service offers false interpretation…make a note, I’d hate P.T. to get confused.” Lil’ John agreed, “You know it, I’ll do the correcting right there and then, using my Bible and what it really say’ Hate dem’s small time false prophets. I like da challenge.” Pip spoke up, “What you mean?” Phil said, “you’ll see.” P.T. came over to the table of cards. The men playing were slamming the cards down hard and in their own little world of entertainment. Phil greeted his new brother, “Good morning P.T., sleep well?” “Better than e’er before my friend.” He gasped as he looked at the bruises on Phil’s face, neck and arms. They looked fresh. When P.T. met Phil he noticed marks but they looked like they were going away. “How…ah…you sleep, well?” P.T. manged to just barley get the words out. Phil said, “some.”P.T.  tried to carry on the conversation,  “You going to Chapel of course, I am sure of that.” Lil’John jumped in, “no, he needs a true day of rest but I goin’ and you know Pip?” Pip said, “sure P.T. told me he been talking to the God of The Bible, the Holy Bible, you know Hindus gots lots a gods?” Lil’ John put his hand on Pip’s shoulder, “a lots a peoples been believin’ different from each other for years. Pip, sit next to me in Chapel and P.T. you too but gives’ me room don’t be all up on me. The benches ain’t big and I like my space.” Phil pictured Lil’John taking up the space of two men with skinny P.T. on one side and Pip, also very thin, on the other side with room for only one butt check on the steel bench in the room used for chapel. “CHAPEL TIIIIIIIIME!” The guard said as he clunk open the door and let it slam again. Jason and his men jumped up and got to the front of the line slowly forming at the door. Jason eyeballed Phil and thought for sure he was coming but just couldn’t move fast enough because of the payback inflicted the night before. Jaso gleamed  in what he considered a victory. As the guard opened the pod doorand began to lead the single file group out he gave the normal command, “Pat down first…line up against this outer wall…mouths closed, eyes straight ahead, SHUT UP!!! Come on now, wastin’ your own Chapel time, not mine!” Jason moved forward as told but his head was almost put on backwards, straining to make sure Phil was coming. P.T. and Pip were also looking at Phil but for different reasons. Lil’ John was in the very back and warned those in front of him, “You best be lookin’ eyes front, they don’t play.” Just then the guard said, “come on! We ain’t playin’. COME ON! EYES front! Get up ‘gainst wall, legs spread and, NO TALKIN’!!!” The C.O. grabbed Jason and shoved him toward the wall. Jason protested, “no wait, I change my mind, I ain’t goin!” The guard just said, “too late, your out, your goin’!” As he slammed Jason up against the designated wall. The guard then emphasized the fact with an elbow in Jason’s back, “This may be good for you and don’t make me come back to pull up out of the service!” Jason got the point but said once more, “I don’t wanna go!” Another C.O. backed up the first and said, “oh, you goin’ now!” Jason’s allegiance was confused so they just did what they were told, later they knew they may have to do what Jason said but right now they just followed whatever instructions were given with the most force. Lil’ John watched with amusement from the back of the line, taking it all in. He thought, ‘they like waves tossed about in the ocean by whatever breeze is strongest.’ Phil watched the men exit and went to his bunk to see if his prayer journal was any dryer than it was this morning. It was. He opened to pages in the back where he kept names. He opened up his heart and mind as he lifted these people up. He stopped over the name Smith (staff). He recalled the strange encounter he had in solitary with this officer and prayed a little extra over this man and his family as well as his job. His mind then went to P.T. then he went to a blank page, closer the the front and began to write a prayer for whoever was leading the Chapel service and asked The Holy Spirit to give the men some good spiritual food.

​CHAPTER 12

CHAPEL FOR CHUMPS
The room they held Chapel in was just like all the other rooms they held all kinds of meetings in. It was not adorn with a cross, it didn’t have stain glass windows, even ones with bars on both sides as some of the inner city missions had. The long steel benches were bolted to the floor as were the table in front of each bench. The floor and walls were cold. The smell of uncirculated air was most unpleasant. Jason walked in not bothering to shake the hand of the strange elderly gentleman he assumed was the chaplain or substitute teacher for this 30 minutes of torcher. Jason slid onto the bench furthest away from the front and his followers, well, they followed. P.T. was in wide eyed wonder taking it all in. On a whip board the was the wording…
LESSON RO. 12 AND Matt. 5:21-48.
He had no idea what that meant. It was like a secret code to him but under that he read…

YOU HEARD IT  SAID, BUT I SAY/ JESUS “LOVE YOUR ENEMIES PRAY FOR THOSE WHO PURSECUTE YOU.”

Pip stuck with Lil’ John who was the last into the room. He shook hands firmly with the chaplain, a tight manly grip. Pip turned and shook hands too but much more gentle. The Chaplin smiled and his thoughts went to how different each man was. Some of the hands were freezing cold but there was warmth in their eyes. Others were hot and clamy but no eye contact. Some shook like a rock, this one more like a dead fish. Lil’ John sat up front. He didn’t like His back toward anyone but there was no choice in here. The benches held the average of 6 men so Pip sat next to Lil’John but gave him space and just as Phil pictured Pip sat with only half his butt on the bench and his leg out the other side to keep him from falling off. Lil’ John called P.T. who was the only one left standing. He was still reading the board. Lil’John looked at the empty space on his right. P.T. took the seat.

The chaplain said, “Let’s start with prayer.” P.T. bowed and closed his eyes, Lil’ John bowed but with eyes open, keeping a glance toward his back. Pip didn’t know what to do and thought he could use this as a time to look at who was behind them, ‘after all their eyes will be closedv, he thought. He was wrong. A few heads were bowed but his eyes locked momentarily with Jason and his demon friends. He didn’t like the feelings that seemed to shoot at him like lazors so he looked at the chaplain. Much to his surprise the chaplain’s eyes were open too and looking around the room at all the men. When their eyes met the chaplain smiled amidst his words as he ask God to speak to them. The prayer was very short and the only way P.T. knew it was over was by Lil’John tapping him and saying , “here.” P.T. took one sheet of paper handed to him and past the stake to the row behind him.

The Chaplain jumped right in,
“Jesus says, ‘Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.’ That is from Matthew 5:17. A stake of Bibles were past around next. They were well used and tattered. P.T. wondered if he could keep one. There were allowed to keep books. Everything was passed with great order from the front, Pip’s side on to the back in a zig zag manner but as the chaplain continued to speak there was a tap on P.T.’s shoulder. Apparently there was some type of religious material being past from the back to the front. P.T. found it distracting and wrestled with some confusion. He whispered to Lil’ John holding this stack of thin magazine and pamphlets with no staples holding their binding together. Lil’John just said, “free readin’, don’t really need it. Thanks.” Lil’John took them and handed them to Pip who was just as confused. He looked at the covers that had these cheesy clean cut smiling faces. He thought how they all looked like game show host. His mind wondered and he didn’t hear the chaplain saying,

“…You have
heard it said vs. but I say
to you…look at Matt. 5:21-48…”

There was a rustle of some pages mixed with what sounded like one of the paperback Bibles hitting the floor and some chuckels.

The Chaplin ignored the disrespect, he had seen it before. He knew God understood and he knew he only had 30 minutes. So he pressed on, “Jesus wanted people to compared what they had heard from the Old Testament Law with what He was about to share with them.”
Some of the men thought about ‘the law’ and how unfair and rediculous it was. Lil’John knew the Bible was talking about Jewish law, not some type of county or state laws governed by men alone.
The chaplain tried to explain in his old raspy voice, “we can make a
comparison between the Old Testament Law (written/heard) with New Testament  (Jesus’ Word & promises). Have you found the book of Matthew, near the front of the New Testament? ” Most of the men knew already but the Chaplin
also knew some had never been to church. Most of the men incarcerated within the United States knew the Bible, in some cases the knew it better than many seminary students or seasoned pastors and Bible scholars. The difference came into play with those who applied and practiced what was preached. He continued, “Many of the religious leaders did all the external rituals but internally their heart was not right with God. ”
Lil’ John thought about the differance between doing Christian activities and being Christ like.
The Chaplain tried his best to get through his material and began to speak faster, “The law was all about works alone. Jesus was and is more concerned with us being like Him. You can take this hand out with you…” He caught his breath, “note, it reads Duty vs. Devotion…again, the law focused on obligation. Jesus was and is interested in true Devotion.” P.T. followed the notes. He read to himself, ‘Performance vs.Relationship.’ He thought of Phil but also heard the old Chaplin say, “the law was a way to show your religious beliefs, however, it became a way to ‘show off’ how ‘dedicated’ people were to God. Jesus is interested in a true love relationship and things done from a loving heart for and with Him, not just a performance piece.” The next few words next to a bullet point were, ‘Guilt vs. Grace.’ Things were really coming to a point of much deeper understanding for P.T. He tuned into the Chaplain’s words, “The law increased Guilt….the Jewish laws we read about in Leviticus, in the Old Testament…,” The chaplain did his best to explain, “… because humans are not able to fulfill it…ah, Jesus gives grace. HE did what we cannot.” Pip finally looked down at the notes after day dreaming and fumbling around with extra materials and the ‘on loan Bible’ he gripped with one hand. Pip read the next bullet point out loud without thinking, “Letter vs. Spirit.” The chaplain smiled and said, “yes, next point.” A few of the men in the back chuckled and mimicked Pip. The Chaplain pursued on, not admonishing those who mumbled and murmured, “That’s good, yhank you for reading, the letter of the law can’t be relied on but His Holy Spirit can fill us and make us pleasing to Him. Some one read the next point, next to the dot on your hand out…anyone?” Some guy directly behind P.T. read it, “Head vs. Heart.” A few men in the very back laughed like middle school students when they heard the word ‘head’ and took it out of context. They self assingned another connotation to it. The Chaplain was not distracted and paid no mind to it, without a dirty look or stopping to warn them of what behavior was acceptable or not he choose his fights and this would not be one of them, “The law was something to wrap humans head around. Jesus wants our heart. The law served its purpose. Then Jesus came, made a new covenant,  new promise,  New Testament. Now we live like Him. For Him. By HIS grace, not under law. Our time is almost up. I hope and pray you hear what Jesus is saying. That’s what really matters. There is more to your notes but I want to give you all time to share…” “This will be good.” Thought Lil’ John as he adjusted himself on the bench that seemed to be getting harder the longer he sat there. However, the chaplain did not stop talking. He repeated things he already said and read the rest of the things written on the hand out they could have read on their own if they wanted to. P.T. had some questions. Lil’ John wanted to dig into his Bible to find answeres to questions and corrections to false assumptions. A few men in the second row had some comments they felt would add to the lesson. A man on  the row behind that had a great application. The men in the very back just wanted to get out of there. The Chaplain drowned on, “So our time is almost up, I hope and pray n’ this worksheet may be very helpful to you. Please notice there is an application of Matthew 5:20 too…see it reads,

• Murder – you can find that in Matthew 5:21-26
• Adultery – 5:27-30
• Divorce – 5:31-32
• Oaths – 5:33-37
• Retribution – 5:38-41
• Enemies – 5:43-48
Hear what Jesus is saying.” The guard came to the door and said, “times up!” It was as if the Chaplain lost his ability to stop speaking and just kept going as the men rose to leave. P.T. spoke over the chaplain to ask if he could keep the Bible, “sure, you can keep any of the materials I have…” He continued as he turned to grab some of the pamphlets. P.T. was practically being carried out by the group 23 men upon their exodus. By the time the chaplain turned back around the room had been cleared. Through out the whole service Jason was uncomfortable, not just because that room was twenty degrees colder than everywhere else in the jail but because the lesson was so warm. In his mind it was all about an impossible type of lifestyle. ‘Love you enemy? ‘ Jason thought to himself, ‘What kinda philosophy is that?! How would that ever work in anyone’s favor?’ For Jason the Bible was only full of fairy tails. Jason always thought Chapel was for chumps and this service, he was gladly leaving behind, just confirmed it. ‘There was no way anyone can pay back evil with good.’ He confirm in his mind.
HIS THOUGHTS WERE INTERUPTED BY HIS STOMACH CALLING HIM TO FINISH OFF THE LAST FEW THINGS HE GOT STASHED, LEFT OVER FROM HIS FREE COMMENSARY.
On the walk down the hall the guards reminded the inmates, “NO TALKING!” As they discussed what paperwork was due this week, the end if the month.

CHAPTER 13

HOME SICK HOME
Phil finally got a shower and when he returned to his bunk the first thing he went for was his journal. It was gone. All his thoughts on paper, gone. He panicked and caught between anger for whoever took it and a mania of racing thought on how he’d keep his sanity. He took a deep breath and prayed. The guy under him, whom he was slowly getting to know better said, “hey, you going up there or you just going to stand there with your junk in my face? By the way, when you in the shower something fell back behind our bunk. Sounded like papers. It done’ fell past me, sawn’ da’ floor down hrrr somwhrr.” Phil went to the front where they laid their heads. He looked below the bottom bunk. Sure enough, there was his journal, wedged between the bunk and floor. He had to squat and try and get it. The bottom bunk owner just sat there. The last thing Phil wanted to do, especially after showering, was to lay on the filthy floor to reach it but he did. He now felt dirty again, needing another shower but that wasn’t an option, not worth the wait and fight. He climbed up top with journal securely in hand clear and clean psychologically. That was good enough. He jot down on a blank page, ‘Lord as long as I have my mental health and spiritual health I know I can endure. Thank you, in Jesus name and for Christ’s sake, amen.‘ Ironically just he was writing ‘For Christ’s sake’ he  heard someone in the long line for the phone say, “for Christ’s sake homey, get off da’ phone!!!” He heard other mumbling and becoming more than impatient with the one in front of them. He debated in prayerful thought weather to wait in that line which was a riot waiting to irrupt or miss calling his wife.

Silvia Realman waited by the phone at home, her mind racing with thoughts that ran a long range between extreme calm to the worse case senerio. ‘maybe the line is just long…maybe he was in line and a fight broke out…if he is hurt bad enough they may have had to take him to the hospital…‘ before that thought took her all the way to convincing her Phil was not only hurt but dead she stopped to pray. She decided if she couldn’t talk to her husband she’d spend the time talking to their Heavenly Father. Part of that prayer was ‘…Lord we are in Your hands…’

Phil watched the line from his bunk. Being on the top bunk gave almost a birds eye view. He was praying for his wife, lifting her up to their Lord. With his eyes on the line he went to praying for the men in line.

The man on the phone selfishly ignored the time limit. The next man rebelled, “you in my house punk, get off the phone!” Phil prayed for him. The man ignored any nudging from The Holy Spirit and decided to lunge forward shoving the phone receiver into the other man’s nose. This fight belonged to these two but as Jason, just moments back from Chapel, saw the struggle he choose to join in the brawl. Jason’s three followers ran right behind their mentor toward the frey. The plan to beat Phil to death in Chapel or later tonight, all that misguided anger, was about to be satisfied. This was the opportunity that would instantly gratify Jason right here right now. A two man fight became a mini gang bang. Jason took the side of the one who seemed to be doing better, no defense for the underdog, all offense. To make it fair in his own mind he gave both men a few good kicks to their heads. The men thought it was from the others in line but as the guards made it in to get order and court all six men out to solitary confinement they realized the other four seemed to come out of no where. They couldn’t explain why anyone else was involved. The guards took note and filled out their reports stating, “perhaps this was gang related and all phone privileges need be banded for thrity days.”

After the excitement P.T. came over to Phil’s bunk and ask, “why does God allow violence? ” Phil replied, “well, in this case it took Jason and his baby gang out.”

Silvia felt a calm peace come over her and trusted God knew why her husband didn’t call and God was still in control.

“Let’s go get some exercise.” Phil suggested.

CHAPTER 14

BODY BUILDING 
Phil escorted P.T. over to an area some of them used to lift their make shift weights, mostly two liter bottles filled with water. Lil’John was lifting four of them in each hand, tied together with socks. P.T. said, “What do I do if a fight breaks out? I am skinny mini.” Lil’John said, “you pray!” Phil smiled, “I’ve seen Lil’John do that, once he did it out loud and rebuked the assault in Jesus name, OUT LOUD!” Lil’John smiled. As he strained on rep. fifty. Feeling the burn in his chest and arms he let out, “Fifty, Prayer works. He is strong we is’weak!!!” P.T. began to do jumping jacks. Lil’John laughed reaching over to stop him, “THAT going to get you beat up! Try doing what Phil doin’. I would but my belly gets in da’ way.” P.T. looked at Phil as he used a two liter bottle in front of him and was down on his knees. P.T thought it looked a lot like a praying position. Phil let the bottle slide out in front of him, gravity doing all the work then his core muscles doing the work to bring him back up to a squat position, knees off the floor. P.T. said, “I will try.” Phil gave a little direction. P.T. did pretty good but was only able to do it once. The second time he crumbled to his knees half way up. Phil encouraged him, “tomorrow you do three.” Lil John chuckled, “I ain’t laughing I can do one but little by little you can build up to it. I gotta crunch and get rid of this before I can do dat.” He grabbed his belly with both large hands. “That’s right. Little by little we become stronger but not if we don’t work it.” P.T. picked up on the overtones of how important Spiritual exercises were too. He thought, ‘I guess God allows the bad to see how we react. Trust him and become stronger or try and take things in our own hands.‘ Phil added, “remember two legs are stronger than one and one leg is always stronger than the arms. We use our legs to get up and down and carry our weight.” P.T. thought back to the arm bar submission he saw Phil put on Jason. “And your core…” Phil tapped the center of his body, “Your core strength always comes into play.” Lil’John took a deep breath resuming his lift letting out air and the words, “and prayer is stronger than all dissss’.”

“CHOW!!!” Came the next call.

CHAPTER 15

DISGUSTING DISCUSSION 
Meal time had always been a good time of healthy talk for Pip, Phil, Lil’John and was becoming increasingly important to P.T. as they were almost always able to sit together. This meal was different. P.T. was able to join Phil but this time the others surrounding them were cons, not inmates. Phil bowed his head briefly but didn’t close his eyes. P.T. bowed his head, closed his eyes but covered his food with his arms as he thanked God for this meal. “You gonna eat ‘dat roll?”, asked the man in front of him as he opened his eyes and notice he was being watched. “Yes.” He replied, knowing he could not give away any food without loosing everything on his trey. It was like offering a single seagull one potato chip crumb, the others come around and surround you, far out number you, then snatches the entire bag. If you’re not mindful they’ll grab your whole meal and fly away. The con had a collection of rolls gripped in his right hand like brass knuckles. His spoon in his other hand he held like a garden tool more than an eating utensil. Then he tried Phil, “you?” Phil said, “I’m eating mine.” Phil took a bite. A new face sat down across and to the right of Phil. He took one quick bite out of each of the six chicken nuggets, spit in his green beans and smashed his bread roll in his dirty hand. He knew, once the food was marked no one else would want it. The three in front of them began their meal and ate fast, guarding their plate , using their arms as shields and kept their head on a swivel. The conversation began, mouths full with occasional pieces flying out of their mouths. The conversation reached levels of perversion that almost made it impossible for P.T. and Phil to eat, let alone digest. It was as if they were trying to one up each other in a contest to see who could be more shocking or dirtier than the next. The more sexually sickening they got the more they laughed, gloated and they kept getting louder like a train approaching. Phil was just letting it all go and just considered the sources. That’s when the man directly across from him directed his full attention to Phil, point blank asking, “You liked havein’ one a dem’ young guards get you off in solitary didn’t you? I know you get yo’ rocks off on little kids. You can be my bitch in here!” It was a trap set to suck in the average man. Most men had to say something in response and give the con an opening to show his control and dominance. The con waited for a response then pushed some more, “You hear me bich?! I’m talking to you, you wanna be my bich, boy?” This con was not a homosexual, just a sexual monster  and would take pleasure any which way he could. Others just talked about it. If rape was to take place it was not sexual in nature, it was just an alpha male thing, pure violence, showing who was in charge. Phil looked up and simply said, “no.” The others laughed. One man calling another a bitch was enough reason to fight. Although Phil was done eating he didn’t want to leave P.T. there alone. He wondered why he was taking so long but had seen fear freeze people up before. P.T. was trying to swallow. Although new to this code of ill-ethics P.T. knew when anyone called anyone the “B” word it required a fight. Just then the man across and to Phil’s right scooped up his green beans and flung them toward Phil’s face. Such a short distance it was a sure hit, however, Phil responded in the blink of an eye. His hand moved swift enough to catch them before reaching his face. Some of the juice hit his cheek and he prayed their was none of man’s siliva was in those few wet cold drops he felt hit his face. He forced himself not to instinctively blink, which probably wasn’t the healthiest decision but was necessary to prepare himself for what might come next. It didn’t take a prophet to know there was more coming. In another blink the con across and the the left of him threw his spoon, Phil also caught that, the whole time he maintained eye contact directly in front of him with a glance to check his perefreal view making sure no one was behind him. P.T. quickly removed himself from the table, leaving his trey but grasping his roll and taking that with him. He backed off without turning his back on the table to see Phil slouch back, his legs going up under the table. ‘Was he hit?’ P.T. wondered. All in one motion, counting the sloutch, he noticed Phil get a hold of all three men’s treys and bring them to his own chest. His own trey was now a chest shield and P.T. ‘s thick plastic trey almost slammed to the floor but managed to balance on the edge. No guards noticed the quick scuffel. The man directly across from Phil was not able to stand because Phil had locked up his ankle. With Phil’s two legs forming a vice like grip on the man’s thin ankle the power struggle was more in Phil’s favor now. It all happen in one fluid movement and motion, like an octapuss using all it’s arms to swoosh away or pull somethhing in. The three cons knew the tied shifted but their tough masculine nature was not about to admit that. Phil had gained the three treys as weapons, however, counting the ankle lock and the spoon he had five potential weapons and his own trey as well was the whole table as a wall of defense. The con’s testosterone levels climbed. Their brains told them to save face and never acknowledge defeat but their bodies were now frozen in the same fear P.T. had earlier. Phil’s voice was almost at a whisper, “listen, you called me a bitch, I heard you, but that’s not my name so I was not responding to it. We don’t want to go to solitary confinement. The guards have not noticed anything yet, let’s let this go. Fighting is not worth the cost, the rent is too high.” The con artists in front of him never heard reason from an inmate that actually made rational sense. The one on the right looked at the green beans, still in his target’s hand smashed up against the trey. Then all three sets of eyes followed Phil’s eyes leading them to look at his left hand. While holding the one con’s ankle locked between his he had bent the spoon back and forward enough to break off the rounded part. It was now a shive, contraband that could do real damage. The criminal closest to that left hand back away first. The one on the right decided to back off too. P.T. prayed from a distance. The only con left not only saw his opponent’s ability, he felt his ankle begin to throb. “You is right, ain’t worth it…but you ain’t won.” Phil thought it best to just add a few things verbally before letting go, “I ain’t trying to ‘win’ anything. I am trying to come to an agreement. I can’t win against you, you are the only one who can win against yourself.” He kept his voice soft, head on a bit of a bobble to keep his panaramic awareness. Just before he continued he loosened his ankle lock only enough to rapidly move up to the man’s knees. He still had good control and he still spoke calm, smoothly and soft, “I respect you man, you and the men that were sitting here with you.” Phil really meant this. He said it out loud to gain the respect and confidence but also remind the con he was now alone. Expressing respect to get respect Phil showed an unintimidating facial expression, it wasn’t needed at this point but he did it anyway. He spoke to the con as if he was a friend, no threat, “Two short, simple things. This stops here and now, no repercussions…” Phil thought of a more comprehensive word, ” No pay backs from either side, you or me, your men or mine. No side affects or attack toward my skinny Indian friend, HIS NAME IS P.T..” P.T. heard his name but was too far to hear anything else that was being said. The con nodded and his knee felt like a python was constricting it it more and more. “The last simple request I ask you with respect…what is your name?” The con slowly choked out, “mmMike.” Phil gave a little smile because he knew how easy knee caps could pop out of place. “Ok, Mike. The last request, no more no less…” Phil did a quick review, “this stops here, don’t mess with me or my friend and most importantly now, I don’t want you to miss this Mike…” Phil used his core muscles and arms to sit up on his end a little more, this pulled his new friend’s body in and down as well as increased the tension on the man’s knee. The con nodded in agreement and just wanted his leg free. “When we stand Mike, we gotta move slow. The guards won’t know anything happen and you will need to give your knee time to get the blood circulation back. If you move too fast you may dislocate it yourself. Ok Mike?” Phil waited for a clear eyed agreement from Mike while his own trey tilted and was about to drop to his lap. He still had Mike’s trey ready to use it as a weapon of self defense too if this didn’t work. The con noted the trey, the shive and the tension on his knee and whispered two letters, “o.k.” Phil released the captive leg. They both moved in slow motion, no sudden movements, Mike first.
“I’ll take these treys up for us.”, Phil said as he readied the trey, crushed the green beans against the outside of it and hid the former spoon in a side groove. Mike backed away and looked to see if anyone had been watching. A few eyes darted away, some out if fear, some because they felt bad for Mike and didn’t want him to know they knew he had just been beat down in a way they had never witnessed before. Mike puffed out his chest and did his best to pose as if his limp was just part of some new jive walk he was developing. Phil waited at the table just long enough to make sure Mike was a safe distance. Phil collected all five treys, which could have been used like a shovels to the side of a head or used to block any blows. As he dropped them off he kept the spoon using a little slight of hand. He knew he needed to get rid of it but if he handed it in questions would come.

Phil went over to his bunk to gather himself. P.T. came over to thank him. “No need for that, thank you for praying friend!” P.T. said, “How did you know I was praying?” Phil smiled, making eye contact, “that is what believers do.” P.T. thought of lil John’s advice earlier. “When is the last time you showered?” PT thought it was a question related to how he smelled. Phil explained, “I need this dropped down a drain.” He showed just the tip of the broken silver spoon as he added, “I can use another shower if you can’t get one…” “I am planning on taking one now.” P.T. said with a smile. Phil thought twice before handing it off, “no wait.” He looked around scanning the pod. “I made it, I’ll dispose of it. If this is found it will cost who ever is near it thirty days locked away, surrounded by other screams of misary.” P.T., never having been to the hole said, “I’ll take it.” “You don’t want that.” P.T. insisted, “I’ll only do the time if I get caught with it.” Just then Pip came over, “caught with what?” Phil changed the subject, “hey, where ya been brother?” Pip looked at them funny, “Where else would I be?” Lil John made his way over saying, “hey, our old Bible CHOW group, back together!” This gave Phil the opportunity to put the broken spoon in with his toiletries. “I gotta shower!” Pip said, “thought you got one, they ain’t gonna let you in again” Phil replied, “I think I know who will let me.” Lil John chuckled, “remember when we could use the community shower when eveah’ ? Now it takes a miracle to convince one of the brutes blessed enough to be in an area that’s not considered common to use theirs.” Phil, Pip, P.T. and Lil’John all had bunks that were not far from the common area tables because the inner parts that broke off into smaller cells that held four men were all full, ‘occupied’ and so were the toilets and showers in them NOT Available, but Phil had an idea and began to  pray about it.

CHAPTER 16

INTO  THE LION’S DEN

The pod seemed a little more quiet without Jason there.  Having him and a few others in segregation helped bring some  true solitude to the cell, especially when Phil compared tonight with what the nights were like for him when he was in solitary confinement or when Jason was in general population.  He slept sound, not just because  Jason wasn’t there, but because Jesus was there.

The next morning, all prayed up and remaining  in prayer, before breakfast chow  Phil approached the cell section that ‘belonged’ to Mike and the two cons who almost shared a chow table  with him yesterdays.  He noticed three men but all four beds were filled with stuff, as if four men were staying there. This was the closest Phil had been to these men, including the time when there was at the table with treys between them. Mike stood in the doorway,  the others behind him.

Phil spoke first, “Got something to resolve.”  Mike said, “no pay backs, you said.”  “This’ not a continuation of violence and revenge,  this’ a favor for you, me and can beniifit  the whole pod, especially your cell in this pod,  you and your cell mates.” Phil showed the tip of the shive. The  men used Mike as a body sheild. “Don’t bring that up in here homie!” Phil consealed it again, “If this’ found we know the consequences and  if it’s used we  know the consequences.” Mike nodded. Phil spoke with same soft tamber he used in his last conversation with Mike. ..”I wanna ditch it in the shower drain, let it go down beyond reach and confiscation.” One of the men behind Mike offered, “How we know you not gonna use it?” Mike elbowed the guy, a non verbal shout to shut up. Mike corrected things, “We could take it from you and use it!”Phil, giving due respect, wanting Mike to still think he was ‘tough enough’ said, “yes but the fighting doesn’t need to keep going on and on. If this is found (nodding eyes toward the hidden shive) you know it means 30 days in the hole or worse,  death. Phil thought about Jesus’ words but translated them in his mind  into jail terminology…’live by the shive, die by the shive.’ Mike shrugged, “So, what’s your intenshun’ homie?” “To drop it down the shower drain, beyond reach.” “Psh’ if they find that in my shower, in my drain, go to the shoe!  You ain’t droppin’ that here but I’ll take it off your hands.” Mike was way too willing. Phil insisted,  “we gotta get it off the block. I made it, I’ll get rid of it, not goin’ to use it or let it be used.” With that Phil said, “that’s why I am coming to you first, I got an offer for you, like I said, it will beniifit you and the whole pod.” Mike raised his eyes, interested. Phil prayed one plea to God in his mind even as a different set of words came out to plead with Mike, “If they the find it in your drain, I’ll take the wrap for it.” Again Mike clicked his teeth, “tsk”, enough to show his disgust and unbelief, “pshhhiiiit, you crazy hom’ how you gonna take da’ shot fo’ us? You ain’t from this cell! You just one little fish in this big damn pod pond homes’ shii you ill! Sick mo’fo’ go fug yoursef’. Get outta my cell area, this my house,you in my house now bi…” Mike caught his last word before calling Phil a name that could cause that shive to find a place in his eye. Mike was not dumb, he recalled what happen the last time he started a beef with this man and used that one word, let alone all the other knock down drag out fights he had with other cons just for using that one word to address them. Phil calmly started with Mike’s name to bring humanity  back into the conversation, “Mike, listen, I thought about that too. Just hear me out and if you don’t wanna deal I’ll figure another way.” Mike didn’t turn his back but took one step back and  said, “ok homie, you got 10 seconds.” “I only need 5. You got 3 of you and 4 beds. I know you like your space and don’t want a 4th man, don’t need one, but if you let me in a top bunk and trouble comes cause they find the…it, I will fess up and claim it.” Phil emphasized the last few words, “If I’m in this cell and it’s found in this drain out of four in here I will go to confinement for you.” Phil waited and prayed. Mike thought for a few seconds. His cell mates were now letting out the sounds that anyone could interpret into full words of diragatory  disgust toward the idea of giving up an empty bed. They got even louder when Mike said, “ok.” They couldn’t believe he’d do them like this but he was their alpha man and he ruled this cell as well as their lives, decisions and actions. To remain the master of these weaker boys behind him he added, “But we got rules homie and we kick you out if we don’t like you.” Phil agreed and said, “sure, you’re still in control boss. You ain’t nobodies boy. I respect you and your boys.” The slaves behind Mike puffed up. One even spoke up, “that’s right bro. You ain’t nothin’ to us.” Phil nodded but he knew with all the respect  given it was only because they were human, he had no respect for the way they lived. They were not stupid but simply ignorant, unaware, life could be lived different. “Here daRulz’ homie. You only sleep here, no hangin’ out during da’ day time. That #1.” Phil listened, continued to pray and nodded in agreement although he’d miss a place to lay down anytime he wanted. “Next, no one else uses our shower but you. Juz’cuz’ you in here don’t mean others can come in.” Phil remained silent but nodded again thinking how unfair it was for people with cells to get each other’s strength in numbers, less light from the over heads, and a bath room to use freely. This jail should make sure there is at least a toilet for all men to use. In his thoughts Phil prayed, ‘Lord, if this is your will allow me to be safe.‘ Mike shared his last requirement, “AND you give us what we want from commissary. ” Phil waited to make sure Mike was done without asking, ‘are you done yet you selfish little…’ then he shifted his thought back to waiting, listening and maintained his conversation with His heavenly Father, ‘help me love the sinner, not the sin. Help me show respect, help me Father please…help me…’ Enough waiting past by when Mike raised his voice, “HELLO? DEAL OR NO DEAL HOMES?”Phil thought how iroinc, the slang ‘homes’ was used yet nothing was about having a true home in this housing unit. Mike smiled at his own cleverness.  Phil said, “all but the commesary.” “Whachewmean’ man?” Phil clarified,  “I only stay nights. No one else allowed in. I get that.I will take blame if the sh… if it is found, but I ain’t given you no goods.” “How that beniifit us?” Phil didn’t want to be threatening, although violence was the only language they seemed to understand. So he took a deep breath. Mike was waiting for a reply. “Listen, Mike, your cell is the only one with an open bunk. I need a bunk.” Phil paused as Mike nodded and raised up on his toes as if that made him any more powerful. Phil prayed the words would come out correctly and be acceptable to God but also to this con. “Ok, Mike, I’ll give each of you a honey bun or somethin’ not too expensive in exchange for the bunk and…” He paused again, showing the tip of the shive  “This will have no way to find its way into your neck or anyone elses.” Phil thought about the way he was wording it in hopes that they knew he meant because it could get into the wrong hands or if need be, used in Self defense. Mike thought back for a brief second to how fast Phil made that shive with one hand,  how He used treys. He remembered  the capabilities this man in front of him had. Mike said, “I want gum.” Then he asked his ‘homies’ What they wanted. One said, “a car!” Mike slapped him up side the head and said, “You get nothin’ glouch! What you want, small time?” He asked the other. “I like chips!” The man said as his eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store. “Gum, chips and more gum.” Phil said, “deal?” “Get your shit, join the boys. Make room popie!”

That night Phil got in the shower. Forced the spoon against the wall to break it into two pieces to fit down the drain better. He dropped it and never heard it hit the pipe. That should be far enough down so even with the drain cap off no one can get to it. They’ll never find that, he convinced himself.

CHAPTER 17

NEW DAWN NEW DAY LIGHT 

Little John watched Phil  moving his things yesterday but it wasn’t till breakfast the next morning he was able to sit across from him and bring it up. Pip and PT were also able to join in on the breakfast together again. Little John expressed his concern, ” you makin’ friends with the Riff Raff? “Phil reply, “no just living arrangements”. Pip Piped in, ”  you crazy, they kill you!” Phil said ,”maybe but not likely.” Little John said, ” you got God on your side but you still on God’s side? You know the company you keep can corrupt you bro? ” Phil nodded but simply replied, “greater is he that is in me.” PT finally spoke up, ” looks like your buddy buddy with them and becoming part of them”. Phil gave some background, “think back to our true example, Jesus. He was friends with Misfits but he didn’t join in on their ways”. Little John backed it, “In the world but not of it” Phil nodded and asked, “Are these eggs extra salty ?!”, as he noticed Pip heap more salt on. PT added hot sauce and pepper to his. Phil picked up the conversation again, “now I need to find a place to go during the day until God opens my new cell mates minds and hearts.” Little John asked, ” you going to try to convert them?”  Phil said, “no that’s not my job I’m just a light.” Pip’s voice cracked as he said, “salt!”  PT look for more salt packets, ” there’s more salt up in the chow window”. Little John and Phil smiled and wasn’t sure if Pip meant he needed more salt or if he was using a reference to Jesus saying we are to be the salt of the earth to add flavor, preserve and even used by God to melt cold hearts like the way salt melts snow . Phil emphesized, “I’m just the light and salt.” PT was confused. Little John spoke with a mouthful of instant eggs that tasted like Styrofoam, “I’ll pray for you.  Maybe God’ll use you as an example, show them there’s a better way to live. They are career cons, you be careful or you will beat us all to Glory, get there tonight even if they decide to take you out early.” Phil accepted that the men could take his life but even that they could only do if God would allow it. It was all about trusting God and wanting His will, needing to allow God to move, which many times meant he’d have to exercise self-control. If he  move to rapid it could drive the cons further away from understanding Christ’s true character . He could also risked being killed just for being annoying. Fully relying on God’s sovereignty and will was Phil’s focus. Pip, who spoke but really wasn’t invested in the conversation said, “I’ve got a dump this breakfast… can I use your new cell toilet Phil?”  Phil said, “It’s not mine.” Pip argued, “you’re in a cell now, you got a shower and toilet now! Not going to share? What kinda Christian are you?!” Phil said, “I sleep there and maybe shower and use the commode but I’m not really in yet, however you can go ask Mike.”  Pip just said, ” yeah right !” With that he got up to go find an available toilet that someone might let him use. Phil offered further explaination, “there’s a protocol.”  Hoping that Pip heard him as he walked away. He knew it was best not to open use of the bathroom to his friends plus it was part of the agreement and part of a larger warped legislation beyond his control.

That night was the second night in the new cell area. Phil used a pen light under his blanket to read the book of James from his Bible until he felt sleepy. He treasured thoughts and prayers asking for God’s wisdom as he nodded off making sure to turn off his small light so the batteries were not dead by the morning.  Little John prayed extra that night for Phil that Phil would not be dead before morning.

CHAPTER 18

OUTDOOR ‘WRECK’ TIME

Once a week Pod Z  was given an hour of recreation. Although it was not outside this Jail’s idea of recreation was an open room with extremely high walls and a few windows so high up that the light came in but not one sunbeam would reach the men. There were two basketball hoops, a  few mats and three guards for 60 inmates.  All but maybe 6 of the inmates we’re not cons. There were only four basketballs, this was another set up for more fights. Like groups were in clusters much like any neighborhood party where people of like interest would congregate in areas and occasionally tried to form teams. Today a basketball game actually took place but it took 10 minutes away from there 60 minutes  arguing over who was on who’s team, much like the way some middle school students refuse to play with certain people on their team. The game gave those that were athletic a chance to be active  and a chance for those who are not athletic to watch live sports. The games were never about who won as a team but rather about what fights may break out and what individual would dominant and not get their  ribs bruised. Phil used the time to stretch his legs and do walking laps around the outside of the half size basketball court. The other men watched the game or laid on the mats. As he walked he watched men on and off court. He noted how  The game on the court all about each individual trying to score on their own. There was never much passing or sharing. Each man just wanted to score, forget about assisting. 1 tall dude could dunk and each time he did the three guards yelled, “NO DUNKIN’!!!” They choose not to stop the game or pulled the ‘dunker’ out of the game. All but one of these three guards were seasoned veterans and knew some rules you let slide but also knew they had to give warnings to show they were not oblivious. Pip set in a corner and each time Phil passed he said hi. Mike and now Phil’s two new cell mates put the mat up against the wall and shadow box them. Phil caught Mike eyeballing him a few times . Phil would respond with a nodd but didn’t give him his normal over-exaggerated smile in exchange. Phil kept his distance and stuck with the deal they had made. After this time of recreation he hoped to use the shower but knew everyone would want the same thing and although the water was always cold it would be even colder with all the taps on at the same time. While in route Phil noticed some guys over by the sink. One acted like he was using the sink but it was only to block the guards’ view of another man working loose a metal clip that helped hold the pipe’s insilation in place. ‘ Oh no, a new shive, another shive.‘ Phil thought.  When Phil past the guards he mumbled, “Shive at sink.” The guards almost didn’t pick up on the clue that he dropped. They rarely  listen to anything from the inmates but the oldest guard looked over at the sink, “Heads up boys, looks like we got activity.” as he walked over toward it. The inmate lookout saw all the guards approaching and the man on the ground was kicked and quickly acted like he was just sitting. All three guards surrounded the sink and said, “Move away!” as the youngest guard bent down he noticed what the con was working on. In the opposite corner Phil noticed another con breaking off a very small piece from the rack used to hold the basketballs. Phil wondered if the sink had been a second attempt to get more than one weapon or just a great distraction. He wondered if it was a contest and whichever one was stopped first the other would win. Everything seem to be a contest or a back-up plan. Phil thought, ‘Funny how they work in teams when it come to destructive activities.‘ Some knew they were only in jail for 60 days, some more some less, but others knew after trial it was off to prison and more time. Some have nothing to lose or so they thought. Every time one was caught it just made time harder and longer for them. No one understood why this wasn’t an insensitive to just be on their best behavior. Why couldn’t  they just do the time and get out? It was obvious to Phil that it was all about a struggle of human nature and pride that caused them to rebel and eventually become institutionalized. Many would take punishment over humility or acceptance. It was all to common to lose common senes and give into defending their ego rather than submit to any conflict that went against their own will. Phil heard that one of the men who only had 60 days turned it into 25 years because he fought and killed a guard. That con was only in on drug charges and was going to be released but he picked up charges while he was in. ‘A true Career Con’, the words of Little John came to his mind.  Even with staying on high alert sometimes you couldn’t avoid a beat down but a shive took everything to a whole new level. As Phil watched the man secure the piece of metal he heard the shout, “TIME!”, yelled two of the guards while the third one tried to make sure the sink was secure. It had only been 50 minutes but this situation forced the guards to take away any time left. “We gotta take this or they gonna’ get it off all the way!” Said the youngrst. Another said, “we ‘prolly have to shut da water off and not allow the inmates to use it from now on. Another simple  pleasure taken away. Tis’ a shame really…oh well, they dictated it. LINE UP AND SHUT UP!!!””SINGLE FILE!!!” Two guards barked in unison. “PAT DOWN!” Phil prayed the shive would be found. It wasn’t. So much thought was on the sink, that didn’t give the men anything, and yet it preoccupied the guards from solving a bigger issue to the point of rushing through the pat down.

CHAPTER 19

SHIVE, SHIVE,  WHO’S GOT THE SHIVE?

Jail life is a delicate balance. Many men feel if they lose their edge they fail and will fall for sure. For Phil that edge was not his ability to fight, which he definitely had. It was not his physical characteristics, his age, maturity. It wasn’t based on his ego and how tough he looked or acted. It was not based on what respect he was shown. His edge was his relationship with Christ, his greater,higher power.

Phil did his best to always be alert of his surroundings to avoid becoming someone ‘s prey but also avoided becoming a predictor. He prayed he wasn’t prey but also didn’t want to give anybody a reason to decide he would be an easy target. Snitches end up in ditches just like criminals end up in jail the key difference in both cases was if they were caught. Too often snitching led to a fatal blow not to mention a sign of being disrespectful to ‘the game’. Everyone incarcerated felt forced to play this game. The best way  to keep things in balance seemed to be, mind your own business and leave the rest alone. Stand but don’t stand on others. Walk but don’t walk on anyone. Keep in step but don’t step on anybody in the process. For a few men the steps they wanted to keep were not fashioned and dictated by other cons or even by the mentality of the jail administration but designed by God. A personal one-on-one relationship with him and dedication to him helped beyond just studying his words and knowing the Bible.

Meals were never called out breakfast, lunch, dinner, just “Chow!”, which made meals sound more like just the daily feeding. Lunch gave reason to sit together, but more than that a time to talk,  just as sitting in a group  playing cards or working out did. Little John moved faster than normal so he got to sit with Phil once again. Pip didn’t make it to the same table but pip seemed to move at his own pace and move around a lot anyway, sitting at a different table each meal time. PT made it and since the last bad encounter during chow he never left Phil’s side when it was chow time. After thanking God for life and another meal Phil opened the coversation with his friends, “I saw a guy…” Phil stopped and rephrased his wording, “there is a shive in the pod.” P.T. perked up, “You still didn’t drop it down the drain?” Phil clarified,  “Another one. I saw it taken from the rec.hall.” Lil’John took a mouthful before speaking, ” we gotta find it before it finds us”. Phil said, ” I’ll keep my eyes open but the best thing to do is always assume the gun is loaded. No sense finding  it cuz you know there’s more than just one needle in this haystack”. Little John agreed. PT said, ” I need to learn self-defense”. Phil agreed to that as well saying , “working out is good but it’s better to work on your speed, reflexes and intuition.” Little John belched out the words, ” I ain’t got no speed so always rely on my size haha haha!!!”  Phil and PT laughed as he continued,  ” PT I bet you can move fast, you weigh less than one of my legs!”they laughed some more. PT said, “I have to work with what I got and I don’t have much not ‘barry much at all.” He said in a sing song Indian chant. After gathering himself Phil said, “we need to work the mind not the body.” PT was interested. “After we eat let’s meet up under the stairs.” Little John said, “After lunch I ain’t working out this big ol’ body.” Phil reiterated,  “we’ll work the mind more than the body.” PT said, “Finally, something I can do.”
After chow they met as discussed.  P.T. was excited to report that he saw Mike with a  Bible.  Phil said, ” yeah I asked if he read it much and he said ‘no, it is a good luck charm.’ I’m not sure he is a believer, just a card carrying member.”  Lil’John laughed, ” psss, that like havin’ a sword you nevah’ usein’ it in battle. ” Phil began, “okay, let’s just come across like we are having a casual talk or playin’ a game.” He held a napkin above his head. “P.T., you grab this before it hits the floor.” And he dropped it. PT caught it with no problem as the napkin fell fairly slow, catching the air. He handed it back to Phil who balled it up and said, “Again.” It fell a little faster because of it’s density. PT was still able to catch it but had to move a little faster. Then Phil pulled a rolled up sock out of his waistband. He repeated the same exercise a few times. To catch the sock before it hit the floor P.T. had to really move. Phil faked the drop a few times and as he toyed with P.T.’s balance, waiting for him to recover from a fake drop the sock would occasionally hit the floor. P.T. would say, “Wait I was not ready!” Phil said, “Always be ready.” One time as Phil was picking it up he dropped it at waist level and P.T. swooped in and snatched it out of mid air. “That’s what I am talking about!” Phil exclaimed, almost over enthusiastically.  Another time Lil’John stepped in and punted it with his foot knowing he could not bend like his fellow skinny brothers. The sock went flying across the pod and landed up on the second tear.  After getting it Phil said, “See, it is all about reflexes. Now…” Phil continued as he pulled an A.A. chip out of the side of his shoe. Without warning he quickly raised the plastic disk and dropped it from chest level. Much to their surprise P.T. caught it. He almost  shouted with glee. Lil’John was doing his best at keeping himself from becoming giddy.  They appeared to be having such fun no one, including them, saw this was all a drill on developing dexterity and their ability to be more agile. After a few moments Phil changed it up and challenged them with, “now, try this…” He placed the chip on the floor, ” Stop it with your foot.” He slid it speeding across the floor and before it buzzed by P.T. he stepped on it. “That’s like soccer. ” P.T.  Shot it back with his foot. “Now stay standing but when it reaches you grab it with your hand and return to your feet as fast as you can.” Mean while the guards in a video survalance room outside the pod and down the long corridor  watched and began to wonder what the three men were doing under the stairs.  The view was a little obstructed by the stairs and it seemed harmless because they were not in close proximity to each other. Occasionally Phil would walk over a good 10 yards away and slide the coin from there with a foot shuffle.  It appeared to everyone else P.T. was just doing knee bends or some type of stretching.  Lil’John stayed pretty stationary but roamed in, out and around the area. Because he was such a big guy many times those watching the closed circuit t.v. we’re drawn to him. What a brilliant diversion.  Lil’John wasn’t even aware he was the perfect decoy. Phil motioned with his head for P.T. and Lil’John to come sit for a few moments at one of the tables in the center of the pod’s common area.  Phil smiled and addressed his friends,  “Next I want to throw the sock at you and have you dodge from being hit but I am afraid it won’t look enough like catch. If the guards see me throwing anything they will stop our training and possibly accuse us of ‘dangerous activity that gives potential to offensive mayhem’ while in the pod.” Phil smiled again, “so, we’ll have to wait until next week, during Rec. Time to do some of those things. “This is fun.” P.T.  chimed in. Lil’John smiled, “sure is.” Phil encouraged them both, “It’s all about being alert and your muscles having a memory of what to do so if you are attacked you are thinking faster than the one doing the attacking. Hopefully you will never have to strike back, just move, stop of submit the other person, however, if you do have to strick remember your forearms and elbows are stronger than your fist. Never use your fist.  I’ve seem many hands broken from just punching someone or something.” P.T. ‘s forehead wrinkled,  “punch with your elbow?” “If a guy is on top of you you won’t have enough distance to punch with your fist anyway but you sure can get him off you with a few blows to his face with your forearms and elbows. You’re right handed right P.T.?” Phil enquired. “Yes.” “Most people are but we’ll develop your left side coordination so whoever you may have to deal with has no idea how to defend what they may have started. The key is not fighting back but protection and getting the other person a chance to use their brain rather than their brawn. Use your brain to get them to use their’s. I wish we had a shoe string.” Lil’John said, “I do, hidden of course but I can get it.” “Yeah, but that’s contraband and will be taken.” “Shoe string? What would you do with that?” Phil looked around, “wait here.” He returned with a broken  rubber band, laid it on the table vertically between him and Lil’John, “grab it.” Lil John moved his hand as fast as he could and smiled holding his fist up in victory.  Phil smerked, “think you got it?” Lil’John opened his hand, it was empty. “How you do that?” Phil opened his own hand revealing it, “speed.” P.T.  begged to try. Once again Phil laid it vertically,  flinched a few times then with a quick jerk pulled it toward himself.  P.T.  wasn’t fooled by the flinches, kept his balance and unlike the A.A. chip escaping his grasp he managed to not get the rubber band but rather snag Phil’s wrist before he could gain control of the band. “WOW!” ,Phil shouted, “Your going to be just fine.” Lil’John praised God, “Woo hoo GLORY, this good stuff brother!” NOT wanting to draw any more attention they decided to break up and spread out again.

When the Holy Spirit comes in and changes a person’s nature too often they seem to lose their common sense.

CHAPTER 20

“Communal Breathing”

It was one of the few nights Phil was actually in one of the cells that branched off the central common  area of the pond. A few men were still forced to be on a floor mat or in one of the beds out there. ‘What’s that smell?!?‘ he thought laying there trying to defend himself from the offensive odor. He thought how funny it was that it was easier to defend oneself from a physical blow then from some extremely offensive odor. Staying in a cell offered a little less light, more privacy  and also gave some security because there were three other men in there that would keep strangers from messing with you while you’re asleep; however, the closed quarters didn’t have very good ventilation. Phil involuntarily let out a moan while fighting the gut wrenching stentch. Mike laughed and the other two cell mates joined in. “You can’t handle the smell homie?” Mike prodded. Phil finally gave in, “UNCLE! WHAT IS THAT?!” Mike said , “It’s your upper lip!” They laughed again. Phil’s wits came into play, “It’s rotten fruit, ugh.” They continued taunting and were so proud of themselves for accomplishing two things at one time, one for making their own booze, two for annoying the odd man in their home. The smell was repulsive but they knew that when it fully spoiled it would give them a good buzz if they could choke it down. The home made brew was fermenting  under Mike’s bed but the distance from the top bunk did nothing to prevent the fumes from burning Phil’s nose and lungs. Shouts from the  cells on both sides began to intervien, “SHUT IT UP OVER THERE!”  WHO’S FARTING?!? KNOCK IT OFF!!!” Mike lowered his voice after scolding his cell mates casting blame, “Yeah you girls stop talking so much I’m tryin’ to sleeeep!”Then he asked Phil, “Ever had hooch?”  Phil whispered back, “No thanks…remember, I take blame if the shive is found, the one I ditched, not another one and for nothing else. I’m no snitch but I also won’t take the blame when the guards smell that, clear?”Mike blew off steam, “And you get no hooch either!” Phil confirmed, “I don’t want no hooch. You make it, you drink it, if found you pay for it.”  They all coughed a little from the potency of the fumes. Mike agreed, “I always man up for my dealings.” Phil pulled his toiletries out from his pillow case, fumbled around to find his hand sanitizer and coated his hands with it then covered his nose trying to mask the smell. He was wondering if the pros of being in a cell out weighed the cons.

CHAPTER 21

OKAY 9 STAFF 

There was no doubt the inmate to staff ratio would always be in favor of the ward not the warden. Many times it was one or maybe two guards that would normally  enter the pod holding sixty men. At times a special unit would enter and do a thorough search but the only time there seemed to be more than ten correctional officers in the pod at one time was when the men were out of the pod during recreation time.  The use of pepper ball guns and occasional pepper spray was the less lethal choice the staff had to try and gain some control but even those, with enough men, could easily be over taken if the cons decided to work together.  There was talk on the pod of a riot mutany but those trying to orchestrate it were having trouble agreeing on a few details which seemed minor but left holes in their potential for success.  Just about the time when their plan seemed to be full proof the sheriff made a special visit himself. He brought 25 guards, his assistant deputy and six new, very qualified dogs he called, “K9 OFFICERS.”

Unannounced the sheriff entered Pod-Z  with his forces. “EVERYONE DOWN RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE! DO NOT GO TO YOUR BUNKS! DO NOT MAKE ANY SUDDEN MOVEMENTS! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!!” They all dropped and froze as the large German Shepherds led their owners through the bodies of men. Some men let out a girly yelp as some of the dogs caught an arm or leg or two as they pounced around their new obstical course. This was play time for them. They knew their masters would be please and they would be rewarded with love and affection for a job well done. The sheriff began to speak in a loud athoritative voice, “THESE ARE OUR NEWEST STAFF MEMBERS.  THEY HAVE BEEN TRAINED FOR YEARS TO ATTACK ON COMMAND!” He took a breath, “THEY ONLY RESPOND TO THE GERMAN LANGUAGE AND ONLY WHEN IT COMES FROM THE MOUTH OF THEIR HANDELER!” He paused for a brief moment as a few of the inmates raised their heads to look. “Now…” The pod was silent other than the pant from the dogs. The sheriff spoke in a more normal tone, “I NEED ALL OF YOU TO SLOWLY ROLL OVER ONTO YOUR BACKS THEN SLOOOOOOWLY SIT UP ON YOUR BUTTS.” They all did as told, some slower than others. He continued even softer,  “I want all of you to…UT HUM’…what is that smell?!” He could hardly speak as his throat tightened up. “It’s burning my eyes! What the? Agh, I know that’s not body odor. We got hooch for sure!!!” The dogs were all pulling their leads taunt and the C.O. s at the other end were struggling,  trying to stay on their feet. Phil was over under the stairs, about 25 yards from his cell. Two of the men he shared the cell with were on their bunks, Mike was on the floor in the door way of that cell. They all knew they’d never enjoy one sip of their three day old project. On top of not drinking it they had some explaining to do and knew it was pay day. Phil knew he would probably get lumped in unless Mike maned up, all 4 of them would be paying for this offense. The sheriff didn’t need the snout of a trained dog to find it and he said, “Where is the fourth man for this cell?” Phil raised his hand slowly.  The sheriff pulled the crate of juice, sugar, water and fruit out from under Mike’s bed and carefully removed the several layer lid of shirts and books. He said, “Which one of you is responsible for this?” No one spoke up. “You all four going to solitary for this or just one or two of you?” Again, no reply. The sheriff gave no more opportunities,  “Take all four out!” Phil’s heart sunk as he had trouble forgiving Mike, ‘man up, yeah right.’