Awakening

As my arms embraced one of my favorite stories, this one written by Washington Irving called Rip Van Winkle, I drifted off to sleep. The story itself has taken a special meaning as I find myself in a similar predicament as I wiped the sleepiness from my eyes. I begin this next part of my journey strangely for me underneath the same beautiful old oak tree I’ve become accustomed to.  

All these years as I was gazing up at the clouds I must have fallen asleep unaware that my world would forever be changed.  Image my surprise when I stood to go home only to find out  I wasn’t alone but standing in front of a crowd of people that stretched as far up the hill as I could see and even down into the valley below. They must have come out of the woodwork because they were everywhere.

 Many of them I had known all my life and then some as I looking down and to my left there was a freshly made grave with a nice oak coffin not yet lowered.  As my vision improved I realized I didn’t need my old glasses any longer as I recognized my family and friends in the front row.  Sadness on many of their faces as Gary my brother in law, Tina’s husband, walked the path toward this place I lay and stood close to me.

As he began to speak I realized that my hearing had greatly improved I heard him pronounce my name so many times as we joked about my hard of hearing but this time it rang as clear as the first time I heard Dad crying out to me.  As he spoke I even heard someone in the third row, I think it was Doc, mentioning something about my donation jar and as I wondering what they were talking about I looked over and inside my old drinking jar it was filled to the brim with money and a lollypop. I had never seen so much money before and they all knew I would never accept any of it except the lollypop.

It was then I realize the fine oak coffin with sterling handles. As good carpenter Gary was he must have spent a good amount of time making this as I looked upon him I knew I could never repay him for the kind deed he just did.  I could never afford something as grand as I wondered who must have helped him. As I looked around the place I recognized so many carpenters from five different counties. As I watched as the multitude of people spoke of me and reminded me what I love about this place. Those friends who were laid to rest in the famous cemetery below had made this special occasion all dressed in their finest uniforms.

My best friend Frisbee who had died in the an unnamed war, who medals reminded me of so many missions we went on together, was among the many who was present and as he came forward he shouted “Hoo-Ra” one last time in celebration as we saluted each other then embraced.  As he turned and disappeared I saw my eldest daughter, Jen, take her position near me.  As I felt a tug from below a little girl beside me asked “Are you Santa Clause?”

As I heard another familiar voice telling her “No that’s my Dad the storyteller” and then added “He’s a jolly old man also but his gifts are of the imaginary kind.”  The little girl replied to her “Oh” as though disappointed by the fact. As Crystal appeared and stood beside me a smile on her face as big as could be while she placed her hand in mine as we listened in on Jen.

As my oldest daughter Jennifer spoke “I remember when father brought us here when we were just kids and as he would always begin his stories this way” she paused then said “There’s just too many of you for me to do this so if you wouldn’t mind taking this moment to say your name” and as she continued “I don’t expect I will ever be able to remember them all the way he always did.” A loud laughter and praise came from all as tears began to flow from this old gents face.

Many remembered it was customary that before beginning my stories I would kindly ask them each their names. Then I explain to those that had never participated that when I included those around me in my stories it was customary for them as their names were spoken for the first time in the story that they stand and be recognized. They were dignities of the story and as such were given my greatest attention during their story. Occasional as you would imagine all of those dignities lived up to their names as some went on to become great men and women but to me they all were equals in my heart.

As I watched I recognized many such ladies and gentlemen as from far away as the White House, Parliament, and even the Vatican and I felt a sense of accomplishment as they told their own stories. There were others I admired as well as I realized they had mysteriously grown up on me. Though they were plain dressed to those around them I saw them through a different light as they were all dressed in fine clothing and fancy dresses.

They had a husband or wife who stood beside them with their arms around them now. As I noticed many now had children of their own. Even Jen had one on the way still as I watch her Ireland looking up in the sky. How strange my life had been mostly lived telling stories of those who forms that surrounded me now and even some that were in the skies above.

That who names filled the sky above from ancient times and as time passed before me something wonderful was happening as I notice that most of the children in the audience had shifted their attention to the sky above.  It seems Mr. Floppy and many of his friends had made their own welcoming ceremony for me.

While it may be true that over the years I had come to know almost everyone in these parts. As a young man I walked many of the roads traveled to many faraway places. As I did I venture into many people lives some respectable some not as respectable. As my jobs always varied in my youth I ran through the towns in these parts selling or trading almost anything and everything to make a living. I wasn’t a perfect person and there were things I wish I didn’t do and I can never change that.

 As Sara took her position alongside me now I saw some of the people I had hurt in my past. Some I had fought with and some I had an unkind word or two with but as Sara spoke they surprise me. As they came forward to shake my hand and for some to thank me for helping them the most surprising was that fellow I beat up for saying something unkind about my sister some fifty years or so back. As he shook my hand he told me “If it wasn’t for that beaten he would never thought about all the other women he had done wrong” as he turn to leave he added “I would had never found the one that almost got away” as he took hold of his wife hand.

As Sara spoke about how proud she was to have two fathers I smiled and as I took a hard look around I couldn’t find Paul, her father. As she talked about how I was always there for her and the time I presented her with an old handkerchief on her wedding day. It was here I finally got to meet the woman who handkerchief it belonged to.  She was a pretty woman and as she hugged me I was engulfed in the sweet smell of honeysuckle.

As she turned and walked away I noticed all the young men eyes continued to follow her as many still couldn’t stop admiring those things of beauty that God created for mankind. Something’s are hard to let go of even in death and life teaches us to embrace moments.  Cherish those moment with family it will be gone before you know it and so I realized Crystal was leading me on.

Many came to pay their respects to an old friend. A kind man that found the time to listen or who helped them out during hard times. Many came today to bear witness to his acts of kindness and to place something in an old jar that rest at the foot of his soon to be grave. While he never demanded money he always brought along a small jar some thought it was a place to put money but all it really was an old jar he drank from on his long journey to his favorite spot.

There were a few, of his personal regrets, that showed up that day and as one man who stood out among the others he notice a darkness like a shadow as it moved he realized it was not alone but there were many other dark figures that now mingled among the audience as these creatures stood among some of the people all were listening in to those thoughts of people they were close to as they were unaware of them.  

As the clouds slowly began gathering above them all it wasn’t long until Sara got Jen attention and pointed to the sky above. Meanwhile the storyteller attention had turned to focus on an old friend as she asked me “Did you bring Mr. Floppy?” For many a strange formation appeared in the sky that Sunday afternoon as the storyteller was lay to rest under his favorite old oak tree many felt love.

Later that evening the caretaker Teri, my brother one of my past regrets I suppose, showed up to put the final touches on my grave. As he stood over me, he was still a little upset about not being there, it had been raining all afternoon and he seemed a bit upset about something.  As he normally did when we talked, he light up a cigarette he said something strange, “Goodbye, bro.”  

As I viewed him from above I asked a favor from the man above. Don’t know if  Teri will ever suspect it but as GOD provide a ray of light upon Teri and a moment of peace as the rain stopped long enough for Teri and I to share our last goodbyes as he put the finishing touches on my grave. My last thoughts of this world were of my embrace as I held him, my brother, one last time as my eyes closed and then darkness. The cancer that was bothering him would be gone by his next doctor’s visit.

Like many before me I may never know if my works will ever flourish into something other than the pages they are being written on. As my place in this world slowly dissolves many will soon forget me the only evidence of my existence is what little piece of me is left in those that continue to walk among you. For Jen my passing will bring with it some headaches as she tries to figure what to do with all the junk I left behind as she begins to explore her possibilities she may come across many things of interest.

You see the house has been passed down through the centuries and sure it comes with problems but as she will soon discover there are secrets walls and chambers within. I suspect her first excavations begin when she comes across a hidden stairwell that peaks her interest. While some people in the government may not be as delighted that their secrets have been uncovered it will lead her and perhaps some followers on a whole new direction in photography.

 While my personal study may hold a multitude of books, strange artifacts and a concealed passageway eventually Jen auctions off what little can be sold to hold onto the old house. Many things of interest indeed are among the auction but for Gary Lambert one of my possessions would be the beginning of his own story sadly it has already started by the time you finish my first chapter.

 While I’ve never been a wealthy man. It seems I’ve left a little something for everyone. Even you as you venture into the Forgotten Realm.

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Introduction

As I find my way to that favorite little spot where it all began, as one by one my children grew up listening to me telling stories to them from this place, underneath the family’s old oak tree. My stories would describe the places and people I’ve had the good fortune of meeting while living. It was here I found my greatest joy on the faces of my children as they imagined themselves traveling to the places I spoke about of in my stories. As my children grew up and left home to my surprise a new generation of children came to listen to me here in this magical place but soon they too grew till one day I started making these trips to this favorite place all alone.

Reminiscing, a wonderful life filled with memorable moments as I take the long journey toward my faithful old oak tree. Walking past the local store where all the children still hang out as I made my way across the railroad tracks I can still hear the train when it travels through town. Down the long stretch of road now lined with traffic as I make my way to the old playground near the library.

Time passes as I reminisce about my own personal triumphs and tragedies. The asthmatic child I once was my life back then under constant medical care with only one wish was to play with the other kids outside. Remembering the moment when I finally ventured outside and with that day came my new fascination with the outside world began. As with each new experience lead me one more step away from the small town I grew up in.

As I began to travel to foreign lands, seeing the different cultures and meeting the people within, I also began to miss the place I grew up in. Strange how we begin to compare other places to a single place we’ve been and that’s when I knew where I belonged. As I continued my travels to other places for the final time I knew where I wanted to finish up at as I returned to my final resting place which I now call home.

Years later there are still many things I still enjoy on a Sunday afternoon as today’s view was a particular inspiring one as I strolled through the country side where my family once came to enjoy the view and let the children come to play. A few people still come here to enjoy the nice breeze and take in the marvelous view of the countryside. Some come for the great fish along the river. Some still bring their children to play and have dinner here but as I enter into the park I notice a woman preparing a small meal underneath one of the oak trees that are everywhere. Times are hard I know and as my heart goes out to those less fortunate than myself , I share what I brought, I can’t help but wonder how we got here.

Children still enjoy the old swing that has been in the same place for years. Playing in the sand near it is a boy who continues to play uninterrupted as his sister swings back and forth on the swing overlooking her brother. The merry-go-round that was nearby is now gone as park benches have been put in to replace it.

The occasion cars pass by as the children play on. The sound of the wind rustling through the branches of the trees as the squirrels move among them just the little things that remind me life will continue on without me when I gone. A single grave unnoticed by many lies beside me as I rest for a moment on a park bench in memory of an old friend of mine gone for many years now.

A gentleman and his elderly father approach me as they make their way to the river to go fishing off the bridge nearby. The men were chatting to each other as they pass by me. Then they both stopped and said hello to me which turned strangely into small talk about the wonderful new additions. As time crepe along we final said our goodbyes to each other as we continue on our own way to the obvious destinations close by.

Their conversation reminded me of the first time my father brought me here to this site, as I remember his patience being put to the test; I fumbled around with the bait trying to place it on a, child’s toy, fishing rod. Sadly he discovered I wasn’t born a fisherman like he hoped I would be. But I would surprise him years later in that same place where I caught the biggest fish we both had ever seen. As I watched them depart I remember one of the reason I enjoyed this place so much it was because it was still a place where children and their parents could still bond.

Though I’ve never dwelled on my past for very long in fear I would be missing out on living the life GOD intended for me to live. I love this place and with it all the fond memories that lay within. As I begin by observing the things around me I recognize the beauty of an old familiar place. It has been quite a while since my last visit here but nothing much around these parts seems to have changed that much.

The library still sits nearby with a new coat of paint. The shady oak tree still in the same place as I notice a few new carved hearts placed visibly where one of mine once was. It is this tree that is the oldest part of this place. A tree planted by my late Grandmother on my first birthday to mark a special time for me when I began my fascination with the world and for my parents a moment of truth as the doctors said I would never make it to that day.

A gentle cool breeze from the river continues to pass among the trees. As I prepare to rest in a familiar setting under the old oak tree I notice a few new signs of life where someone had planted a few new trees mixed in among the others. It reminded me of why Grandmother planted this particular tree on her only and last visit to this place so very long ago. She had brought it from her home and plant it to remind us of her even when she couldn’t be here.

This photograph still captures those precious moment where for a moment time stood still for me and my sisters as we found great joy here. This place where it was once a natural beauty, a place untouched as it would inspire people to bring their children here to admire, where the beautiful birds flew to from around the country. They came here migrating to this one spot until they were chased out to make room for a new library. Now you might be wondering about the pond in the picture? That pond that was once filled with exotic fished is now covered up with sand it’s still a place where kids can have fun as they swing till their heart’s content.

In time another family stops for a while on their journey onward on bikes. A moment to stop and enjoy the wonderful site as cars continue to move pass this old place as I begin to wonder how many other things will catch my eye before I come to rest here by my old friend. As the clouds above me move gently they begin to form another familiar friend.

I must confess my memory is not as great it use to be especially with names but I never forget a face. As I ponder who it is that is above me now. It is here I remember my youngest child, Crystal, who I yearned for in spirit. She would be able to tell me who was creeping along slowly now above me. As the name finally comes to me I welcome him “Mr. Floppy, How are you?” The painful memory of my late daughter looking up into the clouds above as she would see imaginary friends above waiting for her, to greet her, once again as she ask me to start one of the stories that use to be her favorite.

I was unaware my passions for such things was passed on in her until that moment as she sat next to me as we relaxed in that summer breeze. I recall the moment as she asked “Can you see him, Dad?” As I turn to see the light shining on her face. And before I could respond her voice began to falter “There he is” He would always be her favorite one, Mr. Floppy, and he would helper finally find her way into the world above.

As some of my fondest memories of my children are usually the ones I never expected. With Crystal there were many but I will always cherish the one on her first day of school. I can look back upon it now and laugh but with Crystal I never knew what to expect. My heart misses her beyond what words speak of. And now as I begin to deal with my own health issues, diabetes, I find it harder to come here except on special occasions like today.

For many years now I haven’t had the energy I did as a young boy and as I lay against this beautiful old oak tree I feel the warm breeze caressing me into a beautiful sleep. An old promise to keep as I look on I can hear her saying “Dad don’t forget about Mr. Floppy” as I gaze into the heavens above. I remember the moment she passed away; it would be five years ago today, on this very spot. (continue)

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Dark Knight

 

Every since I was a child I’ve always known there are some things lurking in the darkness. A word of caution to those of you that have a curiosity or itching to find out “Some things are best left alone hidden in the dark” and as stories go I’m like most of you that have always throw caution to the wind.

As appearance go I continue to keep my life private, signs of my past relationships visible in this place especially those that had left their marks deep, another fatality as I journey through the darkness. Their names forever escape me but the feeling of a love I tried to find still lingers there. Myself stained by self opinions as I fight the turmoil’s within.

I’ve fought many of battles now. As I throw down my armor and look to the heavens. My last breathe barely left within me as I continue my journey. Though I’ve pledge to an unforeseen presence my undying love. It is this moment of truth I find myself in front of you now. As I write it is for this mysterious woman that I continue to write it is she that has never left a trace of her anywhere to be found. Making me wonder if she even exists but even as I write a part of my heart will never let go.

At the beginning of my journey I’m certain of many things. I was not far from being considered, though I can feel it still sometimes deep down within the darkness within, a monster. For a time I let it be in control as temptations justified its presence. As I look for it still, to vanquish it from within, I find things that I’m not proud of floating among the debris.

As I began my journey I found it hard to move forward, as I peer into my soul I peek at the hideous creatures within and I found myself frightened, and it is only through this love, this small part of me still alive, that I find my next steps. They are the stepping stones that glow in total darkness that leads me into the pits of my own hell.

As her existence compels me to continue the search I’ve always been assured she has never been too far from me but the visions have never shown her face. In the abyss there are so many pieces of debris that keep things from view waiting until the moment when fate or chance might allow a precious moment.

I fear I may never find her and as reality opens a door I realize that time dwindles. I hope she is watching now as something compels me to write and it’s from these stories another stone starts glowing in the darkness leading me further into the unknown as I move another step closer to her or to the truth.

As the walls of my past start closing in others may not want to travel through this part for it is not for the kind hearted. But someone may be curious to know about the people I’ve touched along the way their presence embedded within. Their voices still heard, some as whispers then there are those that shout, reminding me of my past. Cold hands that reaching out from the wall that line the famous pits of my own personal hell.

I must confess I might not have realized the truth about myself if not for Gary Lambert. He is the vigilante who plunged the Prayer of Jabez into me and sent me down this road to find the truth within and as the truth is revealed another part of the monster dies. I can feel its presence just on the other side of these curtains as it still breathes. This is the point of no return where most people dare not pass.

Something deep down within me, seeks to know, has brought me here to this place in this place where a person’s imagination and courage are pushed to great lengths. It here some turn away and hide never to venture to this place again. Into the great unknown where the animal inside resides.

A place where others fail to go I find myself now as I go in search of a miracle or simply the truth about one self. As the curtains are removed I gaze upon the monster in a mirror; its reflection slowing dying fading finally leaving only me as the image looking back. As age appears upon me time seems to have slipped away from me. As I watch in horror the grey hairs emerge and the painful truth is realized as with the physical changes that take place it’s apparent the truth is finally revealed.

A cursed was placed on me by my own guild as my own flesh turns to dust leaving me to move in the abyss as a Dark Knight with only my skeleton remains. A message, on the mirror in front of me, written for me as I realized the horror from it as my cold skeleton finger trace through it.

The bitter agony of betrayal echoing in the message left behind and even as my right finger attempts to feel my own lips I realize I should have never broken the vowels given before man and the almighty GOD. Echoing in my past “Adulterer” as my hands fall to my side and my head lowers in grief as my failures realized.

Imaginary friends have kept me company for many years as my real true friends and family left many years ago. As many of you look within shocked by the writing on the mirror some of you never suspected. I was clueless that she ever knew. But my fate would forever be changed by a moment of lust.

As I continue to write my only concern here is for the one I’ve been looking for. On a chance or by fate she begins reading this. All I ask from her is to leave me some bread crumbs something to let me know she was here. To let me know my efforts have not gone to waste.

My writing skills are being tested on each new journey inward for many of the things I write about come from the place known as the abyss. It’s a place where there is no air to speak of as the silence in time is deafening to those who enter. The debris within are from parts of my own past shredded and torn along with any dignity that might be left.

Sometimes the trips I make into the abyss are more challenging than others but I find myself making just one more trip inward hoping this day she has forgiven me. Maybe my only reward will be to final see her face. If she finds herself unsure I hope in time it will be revealed to her as I can only hope in time she will return to find me still here writing. My mind is in constant battle with my heart over this question.

As the storyteller first characters he must have been crazy to think he might have a chance creating me maybe he was hoping fate in time would be as kind to provide that moment of forgiveness to happen.  I’m uncertain why he’s created this blog perhaps to point out my discretions for others to learn from. Like many other characters he has written I’m not certain if I shall ever be someone special to him but until that moment occurs I shall continue to remain here. It is in this story another glowing stone shall appear and so in the abyss I shall go to lay it down.

Another light in the darkness that might one day provide the stepping stone that will allow others to follow another path than the one I’m on. As I journey further inward into my own soul perhaps in time I shall find redemption and finally begin to share a new life with someone special if she ever find this place where I’ve come to write. As the storyteller creates new characters I await for one to be created as I must venture back into the abyss in search of that one that may one day be in front of me. This battle will possible continue until my dying day but like many things in this world “nothing ventured nothing gained”  

 Dark Knight

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Crystal

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Another day passes into darkness as I sit down to write yet another story. Like many characters that emerge on to these pages I find myself listening to a storyteller from a place of unknown origin. Memories of my past unfold as one of my personal child hood heroes travels forth from a distant planet. Superman has always been a favorite, one that has been a part of my life, even though I could never run faster than a bullet or leap tall buildings in a single bound.

I’ve never felt I had super powers or possessed special abilities. So it came as a shock that I found recently I could write stories that people actually enjoyed. Honestly I’m uncertain how this all works, what set it off or why it occurs, but once it begins it hard to stop. It’s a powerful being that takes on a life all its own and sometimes hard to control. I can only describe it as the superman inside me unleash on the world.

My story now begins as my daughter Crystal prepares for her first day of school. At first I hadn’t notice anything unusual. I heard her climb out of her bed and quickly run to the bathroom. A smile over came me when I heard her humming an unfamiliar song. I remember telling her to hurry up or she would be late in catching her bus. I hadn’t gotten the sentence out when I heard the front door close.

I myself had just started this new position at work. It was going good until I got the phone call from the school. “Mr. Rhoden, can you come down and pick up your daughter Crystal?” It’s was tough being a single parent but when the school called me I was a little concerned. When I finally showed up, there outside the principle office she sat, I could see why I was called.

As I was lead into Mrs. Jenkins, the principle, office I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face. Just on the other side of the door was my daughter all dressed as wonder woman. As I sat down I couldn’t help wonder why my daughter was wearing this costume but as Mrs. Jenkins explained it was unacceptable behavior. A little later I found myself driving my daughter home but neither one of us spoke a word.

When we finally got home Crystal quickly disappeared into her room. As I sat at the kitchen table I realized how I missed my wife. Thinking to myself “She was better at this than I could ever be” but knowing it was my responsibility now. How was I to deal with this? Crystal’s mother was always filled with little saying that seem to take a little while for me to figure out but Crystal immediately understood.

As I sat there, tears began, as time flowed away and I realized I wasn’t the only one who lost someone dear to them. I know I had never really talked to Crystal about her mother death. I know that life comes with uncertainties and fears, without a guidebook, but it always amazes me how our children adapt. Imaginary friends, make believe heroes or real people that somehow touch our lives, leaving traces of themselves behind, eventually to shine within us.

I can still recall my wife’s’ last words “Let it go, the hardest part is over.” In the end our lives are defined by how we chose to live it. Something I’m certain my late wife would have wanted instilled in her daughter. Later that night Crystal heard a taping on her door. She asked “Who is it?” I replied “It’s me, Dad, can I come in?”

I entered the room and sat down beside her on the bed. I spoke first “Crystal, you know you can’t show up to school the way you did today. Her head began to move downward. I reached out lifted her chin gently upward and said “If you’re going to be a super hero you have to learn to hide your costume.” Her eyes widen and her mouth fell as I unbuttoned my shirt and revealed what was underneath. “Daddy, Are you really superman?” A smile appeared on both our faces as we sat there talking.

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