Snow! (from a Southerner’s Perspective)

It snows in South Florida.

Large, black flakes that fly through the air and then land on everything in sight, leaving a black film of ashes everywhere.  On clothes, in hair, on clean laundry hanging on the clothesline.

It happens every time the sugar cane fields are burned.  While I was always mesmerized by the sight of the glowing orange flames and the sound of the sizzling and crackling fire, it can’t hold a candle to the sight of fresh, white snow.

For years I dreamed of seeing snow and even went as far as requesting tourist packages from multiple cities just to see the pictures of the pristine scenes of snow-covered trees, fields and country cabins.

Every year I took my vacation in December so that I could visit Courtney and the grandkids in Kentucky, hoping every year that my dream would finally come true.  But alas, it never did.  In fact, it never failed that the snow would come after I had already returned to Florida, leaving me to wonder if the day would ever come when I would finally see snow with my own eyes and not in magazines.

When the opportunity came for me to leave Florida and relocate to Indiana, I was elated.  I knew I was leaving behind a lifetime of friends and memories, but I was ready for a change, for a fresh new start somewhere different.  I have never regretted my decision, nor have I ever looked back.  I am living my dream.

Now, when snow is in the forecast, I don’t have to worry about missing it because I have to go back home.  I am home.  And if the snow does fall, I am there to see it and take it in with fresh eyes every single time and experience the same feeling that I felt seeing it for the first time.  It truly is a sight to see.

I am always amazed at the silence.  Snow makes no noise when it’s falling.  I love sticking my gloved hand out and letting the flakes fall onto the fabric so I can see the majestic patterns, no two being alike.  When everything is covered, it looks like marshmallow creme, solid white and smooth.  When I know that snow is on the way, I plan my “comfort food” meals, dishes like chili or chicken and dumplings.  There’s something special about eating those foods when it’s cold and snowing, and it makes me feel all comfy inside.  The moon’s reflection on fresh fallen snow lights up the darkness, appearing as though lights are shining.  Flakes shimmer like diamonds in the sunlight.  It crunches under the weight of shoes/boots.  Touching it with a bare hand is the equivalent of sticking your hand to the inside of a freezer.  It is soft…and cold.

If you’ve ever seen snow, touched it and played in it, then you know what I’m talking about.  If you’ve never seen snow, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Here are some of my favorite shots of a winter wonderland.  Hope you enjoy them!

(My neighbor’s garage, our tool shed, me making a snow angel)

(My backyard and patio table, the oak tree in my front yard)

(These are all from our snow on January 11, 2019.  My front yard, Bruce the Spruce, my hand print, a heart I drew in the snow, the front of my house, the oak tree in my front yard)

(These are all from my first time seeing snowfall in Indiana.  Me “battling” the cold and snow, kids and grandkids building a snowman, the road leading into Lapping Park, a snow mound in Lapping Park)

Would I give all this up to go back to Florida?  To the land of endless sunshine, beaches…and hurricanes?  Not on your life!

Until next time…

Take care and God Bless!

Glenda

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It’s Me, Glenda…And This Is Who I Am

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Whenever I read a story, whether it’s a short one or a novel, I always enjoy finding out as much information as I can about the author.  What kind of person they are, what makes them tick, where they get the ideas for their stories.  With that thought in mind, I wondered if any of the readers of my stories were curious to learn more about me, so I decided I’d write sort of a fact page and fill you in on some things that you may, or may not know, about me.  So, here goes.

 

  • If you’ve read the first chapter of “Seeing,” then you’ve read about the head injury sustained while playing softball.  That’s true.  I really did suffer that injury and it happened while playing softball, and the goose-egg I received as a result truly did grow to the size of an orange.  However, I did not start seeing ghosts as a result of the injury, but I did (and still do) get horrible headaches on occasion.  I continued to play ball, including in a women’s league, and I was a mean third baser, not a right-fielder, and definitely had that strong throwing arm.  But now, I probably couldn’t throw a rock across the street!

 

  • Pahokee is a real place in south Florida. It’s where I was born and raised.  And yes, it is on the map.  Pahokee is mentioned multiple times in my novel “Seeing,” and many of the places listed are also real, although many of them no longer exist.  The Prince Theater was my go-to place on Saturdays.  Fifty cents got me into the movie and bought popcorn, soda and candy.

 

  • The idea for “Animus” came as the result of a recurring nightmare that plagued me for over a year. I will not go into details because I do not like talking about the circumstances.  I simply took the idea and ran with it.

 

  • I got my right big toe cut completely off when I was 4 years old.  My oldest sister, Linda, was towing me on the back of a bicycle and ran over a palm frond, causing my foot to hit the spokes, and VOILA’, no big toe!  I didn’t even feel it and didn’t cry until I saw all the blood – then I screamed bloody murder!  The doctor sewed my toe back on and the scar grew as I did.  On occasion it’s tender, and I can’t wear any type of shoe that sits atop or rubs on the surface of the scar.

 

  • I have no fingernail on my left middle finger, the result of my hand being slammed in a thick wooden door. The injury crushed the nail matrix, preventing further growth.  Although I’ve had 3 surgeries on it, my finger still remains without a fingernail.  At one time, I was completely embarrassed by it and went to great lengths to keep it covered by using a fake nail or a band-aid.  Finally, I said to heck with it, it’s an injury and it’s part of me.  Now, I wear it like a Ninja!!!

 

  • I grew up in a housing project.  One of the biggest misconceptions of project life is that whoever lives in one is trash.  That’s simply not true.  My mother raised three daughters all alone after my dad left us when I was only 5 years old and living in a housing authority was the only rent she could afford, and worked 2 and 3 jobs to do that.  But I’ll tell you this much.  Our house was spotless and the floors so clean and shiny that you could have eaten off of them.  Our clothes were always clean and so were our bodies.  Living in a project doesn’t make you trashy, it just means that one is poor.  I think about the many friends I had back then that accepted me for who I was, not where I lived.  They could have easily ignored me or avoided me, but they didn’t.  And I can honestly say that the parents of those friends always welcomed me into their homes and treated me like one of their own.  So, to all my friends and your parents – thank you!

 

  • From a very young age, I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian.  My love for animals runs deep and is quite passionate.  I knew that to become a vet, I must do good in school and maintain good grades, so I did.  I graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA and golden honors for being in the top ten seniors of my graduating class.  It was also the year that my dream of becoming a veterinarian died.  College tuition was way out of reach for me.  I didn’t receive any scholarships and didn’t qualify for a grant, and there was no such thing as financial aid.  I can still love animals and help them in my own way, which I’ve always done and will continue to do.

 

  • Every year I feared that Santa Claus would overlook me because of our financial status, but somehow, he never did.  One Christmas in particular that will always remain a cherished memory is the year that all I wanted for Christmas was a Mrs. Beasley doll.  That’s all I could think about.  I had never wanted a doll so badly in all my life, but I knew that I wouldn’t get one.  To me, it was nothing more than a dream.  But lo and behold, when Christmas morning came, and I looked under the tree, what did I see?  Yes!  Mrs. Beasley!  Santa Claus truly hadn’t forgotten me!!  It wasn’t until several years later that I learned that it wasn’t Santa at all, but my oldest sister, Linda, who had bought the doll with the money she had earned working at Pahokee Army Store, and instead of spending it on herself, she made sure that my dream came true.  When Linda had her daughter, Stacy, I gave her all my childhood dolls, including Mrs. Beasley…but the story doesn’t end there.  Several years ago, I received another special gift from Linda and guess what it was???  By the way, I still have her!

 

  • I almost died several years ago due to an undetected illness.  Although I went to many doctors and specialists, none of them could figure it out.  I heard everything from “it’s psychological,” to “try biofeedback” to “maybe you should consider talking to a psychiatrist.”  I was ready to give up because I knew my attempts were futile, but my husband refused to let me.  It was recommended that I see an Endocrinologist, so that’s what I did, and doing so saved my life.  Turns out my thyroid gland wasn’t functioning at all and was attempting to shut down my vital organs.  I thank God for Dr. David Mordes every day.  Not only for listening to me, but for taking the time to find, and treat, the problem.  I will be on Synthroid for the rest of my life and will suffer from minor secondary problems as a result, but you know what?  I’m alive, and I’m healthy, and that’s all that matters!

 

  • I’m an excellent cook and baker.  I can bake just about any kind of cookie or cake you want and will do it from scratch, but I absolutely cannot, for the life of me, make a pie crust or biscuits!  Go figure!  I cook with a southern flair, well, because I am from the south…South Florida.

 

  • I hate eggs, except for when they’re in cakes or cookies.  I will not eat them in any way, shape or form, except (see my note above).  They’re gross, stinky and disgusting.  I hate bananas because they make me gag, but I love banana cream pie, banana flavored popsicles and banana moon pies.

 

  • I’ve loved writing since I could hold a pencil.  While I can fabricate a storyline from here to eternity, I do not tell lies in real life and have no use for a liar.  My philosophy is, if you can’t speak the truth, then don’t speak.  When I’m writing, my characters may, on occasion, use foul language because I want them to be believable.  Yet when I speak, I do not use profanity.  I feel I can carry on a conversation without it.  I’ve been published several times in magazines and newspapers, but never pursued it wholeheartedly because it was tough to do that while working a full-time job, raising kids and maintaining a household.  “Animus” is the first novel that I’ve written and completed.  I’m currently attempting to secure an agent.  I’ve got my fingers crossed!

 

  • I chose a career in law enforcement with my first stint being with the USDA.  But the call didn’t really get into my blood until I went to work for the Florida Highway Patrol, and from there, probation/DUI school and juvenile corrections.  I was nominated for Employee of the Year by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice because of a tracking system that I created to monitor allegations of abuse reports.  I didn’t win it, but it was an honor to be nominated.

 

  • I worked at a juvenile correctional facility for 11 1/2 years until the State of Florida closed the facility, resulting in more than 300 people losing their jobs – including me.  It’s a horrible thing to lose a job like that, because you don’t just lose a job, you lose your investments, your insurance, your income, and perhaps even a piece of yourself.  I went from making $40K a year to making less than $300 every two weeks in unemployment, then to a big fat zero when that ran out, never able to secure another job.  When we moved to Indiana, within the first two years I applied for over 300 jobs, got called in for 2 interviews, but didn’t get hired for either.  So, when someone says they’ve lost their job, show compassion and concern, because it truly is a horrible thing to go through.

 

  • There isn’t much that I’m scared of, but big spiders rate #1 on the list, with flying cockroaches, or palmetto bugs, coming in second. Those suckers are like B52 bombers and will fly right into your face and hair!!!!  On more than one occasion, I have nearly beaten myself to death trying to get one off me.  I’ll spare you the gory details of the aftermath when a giant Florida spider jumped right in my face when I sprayed it!!!

 

  • As a kid, I used to catch lizards and keep them in the old tin coffee cans. Sometimes I’d take them out and clip them on my earlobes and wear them as earrings.  Fear not, none were harmed, and I always released them back into the bushes.  To this very day, the smell of an empty coffee can still reminds me of…..lizards!

 

  • I bowled competitively for many years and traveled all over the state of Florida to compete in tournaments. I have won hundreds of awards in the sport and was the second woman in the history of the St. Lucie County Women’s Bowling Association to bowl a 700 series and did it during a county tournament!  Alas, I had to give up the sport when degenerative arthritis prevented me from being able to grip the ball.

 

  • I was a young, single mother of three small children for several years before I met and married my husband. I know the hardships of struggling to make ends meet.  At one time, I received welfare, food stamps and Medicaid because I was unemployed for a year after giving birth to the twins because I couldn’t secure a job that would pay me enough to be able to afford daycare.  That all changed when I was given a job at the Florida Highway Patrol by a man who put his trust in me to do a job.  I will forever be grateful to Lt. Richard Helton for giving me the chance that no one else would.  This job enabled me to be able to have better living arrangements, give up the food stamps and Medicaid.  One of my biggest pet peeves is to read or hear people who criticize those who rely on public assistance to help them in their time of need.  There are times when circumstances are beyond our control and we need help.  Choosing to better oneself is a personal choice, one which I opted for and didn’t give up until I did.

 

  • I’m a clown and I laugh a lot. It’s good for the heart and for the soul.

 

  • I’m a people lover – all kinds, all colors, all religions. I love hearing stories of different cultures and ways of living.  I was taught from a very early age never to judge a person by the color of their skin, but by their character.  I live strongly by that rule.  As one of my daughters told me once, “Mom, love don’t come in colors!”  Amen, Candi!

 

  • In our hometown of Pahokee, people who knew us referred to us as “the Enda Sisters.” Linda, Brenda, Glenda.  Wonder what mom would have named a boy had there been one?  Charlenda????

 

  • My favorite color is red / my favorite food is Italian / my favorite movie EVER is Jaws / I love reading anything by Stephen King, Dean Koontz and James Patterson and have a huge collection of their books / my eyes are green / I’m right-handed / I love all animals but absolutely adore tigers.

 

 

Do you feel like you know me better now or would you like to know more?  Have any questions or something you’d like me to answer?  Don’t ever be afraid to ask!!!

Until next time….

Take care and God Bless!!!

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SEEING – A NOVEL (Chapter 1)

Chapter 1 – The Accident

The summer of 1977 started out like any other summer before it but ended with me losing nearly every close friend that I had.  Not because of death or anything else tragic, but because they became frightened of me, scared of what I became and what I was capable of doing.

Before getting ahead of myself and explaining what I mean by that, allow me to tell you a little bit about myself first.

I was born and raised in Pahokee, Florida, a small, rural farming community located in western Palm Beach County and on the east side of Lake Okeechobee.  With a population of less than twenty thousand residents, my hometown sits in the heart of an area known as the Glades – not to be confused with the Florida Everglades, which are much further south.

The rich black muck used for planting sugar cane and sweet corn is known as Black Gold and even has an annual parade and festival in its honor.

Sugar mills and vegetable packing houses are prominent in Pahokee.  Celery and radishes are bagged inside the houses and shipped out to various grocery stores around the lake area.

Anglers come from around the world to participate in fishing tournaments on Lake Okeechobee.  Large-mouthed bass and crappie are the most popular for the tournaments and sport fishing, but the lake is also filled with blue gill, speckled perch, and yes, even gators.

It’s not uncommon to see airboats speeding noisily through the water or cutting through marshes, reeds and grassy areas like a warm knife slicing through butter.

You may be wondering why any of this information is important, and the answer is because I want you to be able to fully understand how life was growing up in a small town where everybody knew everybody – and knew about their personal business as well.

We had no large department stores, no mall, no shopping plazas, no multi-plex theaters, and only a couple of restaurants.  To enjoy any of those amenities, a fifty-mile trip to West Palm Beach would be required.

Even with the absence of all those big city luxuries, us Pahokee kids never suffered from a lack of fun or from boredom because we always found something to do.  In other words, we made our own fun.

Typical summers for me consisted of a variety of activities that were sometimes shared with the company of friends and at other times, I preferred to do things alone, such as using my cane pole to fish off the marina pier and not worry about constant talking and scaring the fish away.  I personally never believed that to be true but there were plenty of older fishermen (and women) along the pier that would argue otherwise.  I also liked going to the city park and sitting alone in a swing while I gathered my thoughts and wondered about life in general.

I spent many afternoons at the Prince Theater, the town’s one-screen movie house, where I paid a dollar for admission and was allowed to sit there all day long if I chose to and watch the movie, sometimes double features, over and over without getting kicked out.  Try doing that these days and you’re likely to get escorted out by an usher or told that you have to buy another admission ticket if you choose to stay.  Swimming parties at the public pool were always fun, although any amount of extended time in the sun always resulted in the same thing for me – a nasty sunburn due to my fair complexion.  After the burn healed and the redness faded, peeling would follow which resulted in even more freckles being added to my shoulders, nose and cheeks.  One of my all-time favorite things to do on a Saturday night was make a pallet on the living room floor where I’d lay on my stomach eating popcorn and watching monster movies on television.  The blankets of the pallet came in handy if I got scared, because I could cover my head and not look at the gory creature that was about to devour me whole.  When I thought it was safe to uncover my head, I’d always look over my shoulder to make sure there wasn’t a vampire, mummy or werewolf lurking in a dark corner of the living room.  If I needed to change the channel to continue my horror fest, I had to get up to do it because our television had no remote control.  I dare you to try that with monsters in the room watching your every move!

During the day, I stayed outside from the time the sun came up until it said goodnight, painting the evening Florida skies with magnificent hues of oranges and pinks.  If I got thirsty while playing, I took a drink from the water hose because there was no running in and out of the house lest you “let the flies in,” and we didn’t have bottled water back then.  One of the main reasons I loved summertime is because my birthday is in July, and that always meant having friends over for cake, ice cream and opening presents.  That summer I was on the cusp of turning fifteen.

I was small for my age, less than five feet tall, petite and skinny as a twig, and a late bloomer with a chest as flat as a two by four.  Why mom ever made me wear those ugly training bras with the large triangle shapes on the cups I will never understand, because other than the two marbles barely poking through my shirts, there wasn’t anything there to train.  I kept my auburn hair cut in a short pixie-style because I didn’t want it hanging in my eyes, and I also wasn’t keen on being bothered with the monotonous chore of pretty hair maintenance.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I was a tomboy in every sense of the word.  Dresses were out of the question when it came to my attire.  All I ever wore were jeans, shorts, t-shirts and either sneakers or flip-flops.  It was a simple and easy style without looking too girlie, and perfectly comfortable for me.

While all these things were loads of fun, and something that I looked forward to every summer, what I loved more than anything else was playing softball.  A bunch of us project kids, (that’s what we were referred to because we lived in a housing authority), would get together in the afternoons to play in the large field behind our apartment houses.  Short, tall, skinny or fat, we didn’t care.  If you could play ball, you would be picked for one of the teams.

We used personal items as makeshift bases – a pair of sneakers for first, a shirt for second and so on, then proceeded on to picking team captains and making our choices for players, leaving no one out.  If there were more players than needed, they got scattered in the outfield.  If we were short a few players, then that meant that some of the others would have to cover more than one position.

I was a mean right fielder with a strong throwing arm, and I’m not too shy to say so.  You know the old adage about girls not being able to play ball?  Anyone who said such a thing probably would have changed their minds about that if they’d ever seen me play.  As I said, I was a hard-core tomboy and I was more than capable of playing with, and better than, most of the boys my age who played.

It was my great love for the sport that would make this the summer that would be different from any other, the one that would change everything about me and alter the course of my life forever, the reason why my friends chose to ostracize me because they couldn’t handle the new DeeDee Olsen.  Instead, they opted to stay away from me because that was the only solution that they could come up with, and the only one that seemed feasible to them at the time.

On this particularly scorching hot June afternoon, our first week out of school for the summer, it was the bottom of the sixth inning and I was up to bat.  Bases were loaded, and my team was ahead by one run.  My intention was to get a walk because the worst pitcher out of all our players was on the mound, and I knew from experience that he tended to throw either high or outside balls.  And unless you were a tennis player attempting to return a lob, there was no use taking a swing.

My feet were dug into the ground at home plate, which was a piece of cardboard taken out of the neighborhood dumpster, an aluminum bat gripped tightly in my hands, knees bent, eyes forward and focused – I was ready.

Like I said, Ricky was notorious for throwing high balls, but apparently our umpire, Chubby, was blind.  “Steeeeee-rike one!” he called.  We assigned him to the position of umpiring because he was asthmatic and unable to run.  Not wanting to omit him from being able to participate, we compromised.

“Are you stupid or something?” I yelled, turning to face him.  “That ball was as high as an airplane!”

“I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em,” he said, grinning and pushing up his black-rimmed glasses, then taking his umpire stance once more.  His curly red hair looked like a fire on top of his head in the bright glow of the afternoon sun, and his face was so red that I couldn’t see a single one of his dozens of freckles through his flushed skin.  Back in position, I waited for the next pitch, which went to the right of the plate by about three feet.

“Steeeeee-rike two!” Chubby called, holding up two fingers and casting out his arm like the umpires in professional baseball do.

“You seriously might want to consider a new pair of glasses!” I retorted.  “Obviously, the ones you have don’t work.”

Frustrated at his rotten play calling, I dug in even deeper and choked up on the bat, figuring that I might as well go ahead and swing because if I didn’t, Chubby would call it strike three anyway.

Except that it was a perfect pitch that came straight across the plate.  I swung hard, walloping the ball out past center field.  Jake and Timmy ran for the ball while my team players on second and third bases ran across home plate, scoring runs for our team.

For some reason that only he knew, Johnny made a horrible mistake in his decision to suddenly change course.  While I ran past first and second, and then touching third heading toward home plate, he changed his mind about crossing home and decided to turn around and make his way back toward third base, running as fast as lightning while looking back over his shoulder.  I suppose he was making sure that he wasn’t being chased by the catcher for fear that he’d be tagged out and cost our team a run.

Even if I hadn’t been so focused on making a homerun, I could not have prevented what was about to occur because we were both at full throttle in our momentum and it happened so fast that neither of us could have put on our brakes and stopped on a dime.

We collided head-on with a forceful impact, his chin striking me on the upper left side of my forehead right above my eye.  The crash sent me flying backwards and to the ground, knocking me unconscious.

I have no idea how long I was out, but when I opened my eyes, I was lying in the grass flat on my back with all of the other kids bent over staring down at me.  Johnny held a bloody rag to his lacerated chin, which I later learned took six stitches to close.

“Are you okay?”  “How many fingers am I holding up?”  “Man, look at the size of that knot on her head!”  I had no idea who was saying what, because they all seemed to be talking at once and all I could hear was a cacophony of mumbled noise.

I groaned and tried to get up, but I felt a little nauseous, so I sat back down and waited for the queasiness to pass.  When it finally did, I stood up and said, “I think that’s enough ball for today.”

“DeeDee?”  It was Johnny, the boy that I had collided with.  “I’m really sorry,” he said, a deep look of concern on his face.  “I hope you’re not hurt too bad.”

Touching my head and feeling the lump, I said, “I’m okay, Johnny.  But I need to go show this to my mom.”

To say that the swelling on my forehead was a goose egg would be equivalent to comparing a twenty-carat diamond to a pebble.  It was huge and covered the entire left side of my forehead and getting even bigger by the second.

My mom was sitting on the side of her bed talking to one of her friends on the telephone when I went inside.  Not wanting to disturb her, I stood in the doorway waiting for her to either turn around or hang up, but after a couple of minutes of waiting and she did neither, I quietly said, “Mom?”

In one swift move, she leapt from the bed, dropping the phone to the floor with a loud PING!  “Oh, my word!” she cried.  “What in the world happened to you?”

I was trying to explain when the nausea hit me again, and I knew that I was going to throw up.  Although I tried my best to make it to the bathroom, I wasn’t so fortunate.  The vomiting began in her room and I left a trail from there all the way to the toilet.

The next thing I remember after that is lying on an examining table in the emergency room waiting for a doctor to come in.  Mom stood beside me, worry furrowing her brow.  Never before had I seen such an expression on my mom’s face.  When I asked her how I got to the hospital, she told me that I had passed out in the bathroom and that she carried me to the car and an emergency room nurse had brought me inside on a stretcher.  To this very day, I do not remember any of that.

“How do I look?” I asked quietly.  My mouth felt as dry as cotton and my throat was sore and burning.

“Like you’ve been in a fight with a semi-truck and the truck won!”

Funny thing is, it didn’t even hurt.  It stung a bit, kind of like a bee bite, but there was no bad pain.  I reached up to touch it and suddenly understood why my mom looked so worried.  It had grown to the size of a grapefruit and was soft and mushy in the center.

“Don’t touch it, DeeDee,” my mom scolded, gently pushing my hand away.  “How are you feeling?”

“Okay,” I answered.  “A little lightheaded, maybe, but I don’t feel sick anymore.”

The door to my examining room opened and in walked the most handsome man I had ever seen in my life – and I didn’t even like boys.  Tall and tanned, with wavy blonde hair and eyes so piercingly blue that I could almost see right through them.

“I’m Dr. Montgomery,” he said, taking my chart from the clear plastic door pocket.  “Diedre Olsen?” he asked, opening the file.

“DeeDee,” I corrected him as I continued to stare.  I did not like being called by my real name but hearing him say it somehow made it okay.

“DeeDee, it is,” he said, stepping up to the side of my bed.  “Whoa!  What happened here?” he asked, softly probing my forehead.

“I ran smack into somebody while we were playing softball,” I answered.

“Judging by the look of this bump, I’d say you two collided kind of hard.  Would that be an accurate assumption?”

I nodded.  I was afraid to open my mouth because the nausea was coming back and the last thing I wanted to do was hurl on his pristine white coat.

“Can you tell me exactly how this happened, DeeDee?” he asked.  “And how you felt afterwards?  Did you pass out, feel sick, anything unusual?”

I knew Dr. Montgomery was speaking because I could see his lips moving, but his voice sounded muffled and far away.  Whatever he was saying, his words were incoherent, as though he was speaking a foreign language that I didn’t understand.

Then came a flash of bright white light, like looking directly into a flashlight beam, and then the smell of burning sugarcane followed by a horrendous wave of nausea.

When I woke up, I was no longer in the emergency room.  Dr. Montgomery had admitted me to the hospital and I had been taken upstairs to a private room.

Mom was sitting in a green leather chair in the corner of the room, her arms folded across her chest as she stared at me, appearing even more worried than she had before.  When she saw my eyes flutter open, she jumped from her chair and came to my bedside, grabbing onto my hand and crying.

I had no idea what had happened to me that would warrant the presence of two doctors attending to me, but there they were, both wearing their white lab coats with a stethoscope around their necks.  Dr. Montgomery stood directly beside my bed, and standing behind his right shoulder, an elderly gentleman with white hair and a thin white mustache, smiling at me.  He kept his arms folded behind his back, grinning and nodding while Dr. Montgomery spoke, occasionally glancing at me, winking, and then returning his attention to the chart in Dr. Montgomery’s hand.

“Glad to have you back with us,” he said, bending over me and shining a light into my eyes.

“What happened?” I asked, attempting to sit up.

“Take it easy for now,” he said, lightly touching my shoulder and laying me back down onto the pillow.  He then wrote something down in my chart.  “You gave us quite a scare.”

Mom nodded in agreement, as did the older doctor.

“Well?” I asked.  “Will one of you please tell me what happened and why I’m in the hospital?”

“You suffered a seizure while you were in the emergency room,” Dr. Montgomery explained.  “I admitted you so that I can keep an eye on you.  It’s only for observation, DeeDee, so it’ll probably only be for one night.  But you do have a mild concussion and I believe that’s what caused the seizure.  Not that it will happen again,” he said, patting my leg.  “But if it does, I’d rather you be here close to medical staff instead of at home.  If you do okay during the night, and by that, I mean no more seizures, then you can go home tomorrow.”

“It takes two of you to tell me that?” I asked, puzzled.

Dr. Montgomery looked bewildered by my question.  “You mean me and your mom?”

“No,” I said, pointing.  “Him.”

Dr. Montgomery turned around to look behind him.  Slightly cocking his head he asked, “DeeDee, do you see someone else here besides me and your mom?”

“Of course, I do,” I said, nodding.  “Don’t you?  How can you not see him when he’s standing right beside you?  He’s a doctor, too.”

The glances exchanged between mom and him were ones of total confusion.

“Probably double vision,” he said calmly to mom.  “It’s not uncommon with seizures and head injuries.  I wouldn’t worry too much right now.  It’s likely only temporary.”  That last statement of his would turn out to be one of the biggest falsehoods I have ever been told.

And I knew that I wasn’t suffering from double vision either.

While it was true that I was young, I was also old enough to know the difference between an old doctor and a young one.

The physician that had stood at the side of Dr. Montgomery was a totally different person in every way imaginable, and they looked nothing alike.

What I didn’t understand at the time was why mom or Dr. Montgomery couldn’t see him.  Afterall, he was standing right there beside my bed as clear and plain as they were.

However, it wouldn’t take long before I found out why – but not before being put through pure hell first.

Unfortunately, this episode was only the beginning of what was still yet to come.

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Animus – A Novel (Chapter 1)

**THIS IS THE NOVEL THAT RIKKI LYNN SNYDER IS CURRENTLY READING FOR ME.  ACCORDING TO HER…IT’S EXCELLENT AND SCARY!!!

PROLOGUE

Friday, October 11th – 9:15 a.m. – Kendall Funeral Home

Patrice Cavanaugh pulled her dark blue four-door sedan into the parking lot of Kendall Funeral Home and selected an empty slot with “VISITORS” painted in black block letters on the curbstone, parallel to the front entrance.  She was tired and weary, perhaps even a little sad, but not grievous.  Her eyes ached from lack of sleep, a luxury she’d been denied since leaving the hospital earlier that morning.  With the car still idling, she adjusted the air conditioner vent so that the cold air blew directly in her face, attempting to fight off the nausea that had suddenly swept over her, lying as heavy as a boulder inside her chest.  Just when she was certain that she would pass out, the sick feeling began to subside, leaving her feeling weak and sweaty.  Leaning back against the headrest, she exhaled a puff of breath as she stared at the front door of the building, dreading what lay ahead of her.  “God, I hate funeral homes,” she said.

Gabby, her older sister, sat beside her in the front passenger seat, staring blankly through the windshield.  “I know,” she said softly.  “So do I, and we both have a good reason for that.”

Patrice glanced over at Gabby.  “Thank you for coming with me,” she said.  “I know you didn’t want to, and you really didn’t have to, but I sure do appreciate you being here.  It means a lot to me, especially considering your feelings towards Brad.”  Patrice knew how much Gabby disliked him.  Hated him was probably a better way of putting it.  And she wasn’t alone in those feelings.  Everyone who knew Bradley Cavanaugh hated him, including herself.

“You’re welcome,” Gabby responded, squeezing her sister’s hand.  “Come on, let’s go inside and get this over with,” she said, opening her door and getting out.

They walked the short distance on the sidewalk, pausing momentarily beneath a green and white striped awning that overhung the front entrance, its scalloped edges flapping softly in the light fall breeze.  “You okay?” Gabby asked.

Patrice nodded.  “Yes,” she answered, pulling open the front door, bells chiming above them as they stepped into the lobby.

The waiting area of the funeral home looked like a pine tree had suffered a horrible upset stomach and vomited, leaving in its wake a blanket of multi-colored greens.  Forest green carpet, matching lime green sofa and chairs with tiny pink rose accents, grass green throw pillows with yellow fringe – everything around her was green!  Patrice supposed the colors were meant to be cheerful for this otherwise sad environment, something to help the grieving cope with their losses and soften the hard blow of dealing with the reality of death.  But she found the variety of colors more than overwhelming, and frankly, quite sickening.  Almost as putrid as the smell of gardenia scented room-spray that permeated the entire lobby.  Paintings of serene settings decorated the two lobby walls.  In one, a lakefront with calm, still waters and a fisherman casting his rod from a canoe; a country cabin with a dirt path and quaint white cottage in the other.  Both were autographed by artists she had never heard of.  In the corner next to the front entrance stood an upright metal bookrack filled with flyers and pamphlets offering self-help advice on how to deal with grief.  Various magazines and newspapers were scattered across the glass-top coffee table that was placed in front of the sofa.  Organ music played softly from overhead speakers, reminding her of old Miss Petty, the church organist from her childhood, whose long pencil-like fingers plucked away at the keys while she rocked back and forth to the sounds coming out of the pipe organs.  “For crying out loud, turn off that funereal dirge and put on some good old rock and roll!” Patrice thought, feeling a bit guilty for having such thoughts while standing in her current environment.  Even so, she had to stifle a giggle at the thought of hard rock blasting from the sound system inside of a funeral home.

“May I help you?” asked the elderly lady at the reception desk, whose short hair was a light shade of purple that could only be obtained from using too much color rinse.  Her cat-eye glasses were perched on the end of her beaked nose and she looked over them when she spoke.

“Yes, I have an appointment with Mr. Kendall.”

“Your name, please?”

“Patrice Cavanaugh.”

The receptionist, (whose name she later learned was Gladys), picked up the phone and punched in an extension number.  “Patrice Cavanaugh is here for her appointment.”  She paused, listening to the voice on the other end of the phone.  “Yes, sir,” she said, hanging up the phone.  To Patrice, she said, “I’ll show you back.”

Patrice and Gabby were led down a short hallway that contained three doors, two on the right and one on the left, which had a restroom sign over the top of the door.  A faint odor of formaldehyde filled the hallway, causing Patrice to shudder.  For a moment, she wished she were back in the lobby smelling gardenias.  She was more than familiar with the process of embalming and what it entailed.  Not that she had ever performed or witnessed one personally, because she knew she could never do that, but because it had been explained to her and Gabby, at their request, by the funeral director who had handled the arrangements for their parents.  There really was no need for the procedure to be described to them, other than the fact that they wanted to know exactly what their mom and dad would be subjected to.  It was a decision they had both come to regret, because once it is described in detail, it created mental images that would forever haunt them both.

At the end of the hall were double wooden doors with silver thresholds on the bottom and matching silver push bars with an “Authorized Personnel Only” sign posted on the left doorway.  “I can only imagine what’s beyond there,” Patrice thought.  “Is that where Brad is?” she wondered.  “Lying on a cold morgue table waiting to be dressed and put into his coffin?  Good!  I hope you freeze your ass off in there!”

Gladys led them to the last door on the right, stopping just outside the office.  “Here we are,” she said, smiling and motioning Patrice and Gabby into the office.  Patrice thanked her and stepped through the door, where she was immediately greeted by a munchkin of a man who was as big around as he was tall.  She half expected him to start dancing and break into a chorus of the lollipop guild, but instead, he extended his pudgy hand with its sausage looking fingers and introduced himself.  “Mrs. Cavanaugh, I’m Miles Kendall,” he said smiling, revealing tiny, doll-sized teeth.  “Please allow me to extend my deepest condolences for your loss.”

“Thank you,” she answered softly.  “Mr. Kendall, this is my sister, Gabby.  She’s assisting me in making Brad’s arrangements.  I hope it’s okay that she came with me.”

“Of course, of course,” he beamed.  “It’s always nice to have someone to lean on, especially at a time such as this.”

He shook Gabby’s hand as well, and then motioned for them to sit in the two brown leather chairs across from his desk.  Gabby grimaced at his sweaty touch, wiping her hand on her jeans before sitting down, wondering if he had noticed her reaction.  If so, he showed no indications of it.  Instead, he began his spiel with Patrice about finalizing funeral arrangements.

“Mrs. Cavanaugh…” Miles started.

“Please call me Patrice,” she insisted.  She felt no need to tell him the reason why.  Frankly, it was none of his business.

“Very well.  Patrice it is then,” he said, shuffling through some papers on his desktop.  “Have you given any thought as to what type of service you’d like for your husband?  I have several plans that I can go over with you,” he said, opening a black notebook, its pages separated by colored tabs.  “Is there to be a memorial service or a funeral only?”

“Neither,” Patrice quickly responded, causing Miles to raise an inquisitive eyebrow.  “Something simple and inexpensive will do fine.”

Miles remained silent, glancing back and forth between the two women, completely perplexed by her statement.

“What my sister means to say, Mr. Kendall,” Gabby offered, as though reading his thoughts, “is that she and Brad discussed this type of situation in the past, as I’m sure most married couples do, and both decided on what each would want in the event of the other’s death.  Brad made it perfectly clear to Patrice that he did not want a funeral.” You can put him in a cardboard box and toss him in the ocean as shark bait for all I care! she thought.  Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say!  “He didn’t want anything fancy, expensive or extravagant.  He told Patrice that he didn’t want all that attention lavished upon him or people coming to gawk at him while he lay in his casket.  He was extremely adamant about it.  So,” she said, turning to Patrice.  “My sister doesn’t need to go into debt to pay for something that Brad didn’t want anyway.  I’m sure you can understand that.”

Miles appeared to be disappointed by her remarks.  She wasn’t sure if it was because of all the money he wouldn’t be making, or because Patrice’s request was such a strange one to him.  Whatever the reason, his displeasure was evident by the scowl that had replaced his smile.

Patrice reached into her purse, took out an envelope and handed it to Miles.  “His life insurance policy,” she told him.  “The face value is ten thousand dollars.  That should be enough to take care of everything.  He already has a pre-paid tomb at Greenview Cemetery, so there shouldn’t be a cost for burial.  If there’s any money left over after expenses, you can send me a check.”

Miles stared at her momentarily, said nothing, and then opened the envelope and removed the policy.  Quickly scanning over it, he said, “Yes, I’m sure this will be enough.  But shouldn’t we at least discuss the type of coffin you’d like for your husband?  I can take you to the showroom and show you…”

“No, no,” Patrice said hastily.  “I’ll trust you to make that decision, based on everything Gabby has told you.  Again, nothing overly expensive.”

Miles wasn’t sure how to respond to this request.  Most people he dealt with wanted the best for their loved one’s final farewell, but hers was quite strange, and more than a little unnerving.  He had been in the mortuary business for more than twenty years and had never been asked to do such a thing.  Family members generally took pride in choosing the right casket for their dearly departed – the right service, the proper music, everything.  Obviously, Patrice Cavanaugh wasn’t like most people.  She seemed to be a mousy, timid woman, and fragile, as though she might shatter into a million tiny pieces at the slightest of touches.  “Yes, I suppose I can take care of that as well,” was all he could think to say.

“And Mr. Kendall,” Patrice continued.  “I’m not sure whether the hospital staff told you when they released Brad to you, but I want to make it perfectly clear that he is not to be embalmed.”

“But, Mrs. Cavanaugh,” he protested.  “That’s simply not…”

Patrice held up a hand, cutting him off.  “I know it’s probably unorthodox compared to your previous clients, but it’s his request, Mr. Kendall, not mine.  All I’m doing is honoring his final wishes, which is exactly what I would’ve wanted him to do if the tables were turned.”  She supposed she could have lied and made the request sound more viable by telling him that it was for religious purposes, but she feared that God himself would strike her down with a powerful bolt of lightning for telling such an extravagant falsehood because Brad had never stepped foot inside of a church in his entire life.  She knew as she spoke the words to Mr. Kendall how strange they sounded, but Brad had made her promise on more than one occasion that she would not allow him to be embalmed upon his death because he was terrified at the thought of having sharp probes punching holes in his body to drain him of his blood, although she had assured him that he wouldn’t feel a thing.  Yet he was adamant about it and she had kept her word like any good wife would.

“I see,” he said, nodding.  But he really didn’t. This lady is nuttier than a fruitcake!  What kind of a person doesn’t want their loved ones to be embalmed?

“Is there a problem, Mr. Kendall?” Patrice asked.  “You seem somewhat unsure of my request.”

Miles stared fixedly at her, his mouth agape.  “It’s just…” he began, but Patrice cut him off before he could go any further.

“I can take my business elsewhere if there is.”

“No, Mrs. Cavanaugh.  That won’t be necessary.  I’ll honor your husband’s wishes.”

“Good,” Patrice stated.  “Then that’s settled.”

“Yes,” Miles stammered.  “I suppose it is.”

“I brought clothes for him,” she said, placing a brown paper bag on top of his desk.  “I’m sure he wouldn’t appreciate being buried in bloody clothes.”

Miles stared thoughtfully at the bag.  Did this woman care so little about her husband that she couldn’t even take the time to put his burial clothes on a hanger?  A bag was all he was worth to her?  He didn’t want to think about it anymore.  All he wanted was to finish his business with this cold-hearted woman and get her out of his establishment.

“Mrs. Cavanaugh,” he began, refusing to call her by her first name any longer.  “I’m sure you understand that if there is to be no embalming, Mr. Cavanaugh will need to be laid to rest right away, for reasons I’m sure I don’t need to explain.”

“I understand,” she replied.

Miles rose from his seat and picked up the bag with Brad’s clothes in it.  “Would you like to see him so that you can say your last goodbye?”

“No!” she snapped, realizing that she had probably stunned him with her sudden and abrupt answer.  “What I mean is, I saw him this morning at the hospital, and that vision was enough to last me a lifetime.  I said goodbye to him then.”

“Very well,” he huffed.  “I assure you that I will handle everything accordingly and in agreement with your wishes, and with Mr. Cavanaugh’s wishes as well.”

“I appreciate that,” Patrice said.

“Thank you,” Gabby added.

“Oh, I almost forgot,” Patrice said, reaching into the left front pocket of her black Capri pants.  “Can you please put this in his hand and bury it with him?” she asked, placing a bronze coin into his palm.  “It’s a token of good will to guide him on his journey into the afterlife,” she explained.  Or Hell, which I guarantee you is where he’s going!

Miles took the coin and cupped it in his hand.  “Yes, of course, Mrs. Cavanaugh.  I’ll see that it’s entombed with him.”

At the doorway of his office, Gabby turned to Miles and said, “Mr. Kendall, I’m sure Patrice’s requests and behavior might seem somewhat strange to you, but they’re really not.  Everything she has requested is exactly what Brad wanted.  Nothing more, nothing less.”  Pausing for a moment, she then continued.  “My sister is having a really hard time right now trying to deal with his sudden death, then having to make all these spur-of-the-moment decisions.  She’s extremely stressed, so please forgive her for any improprieties.”  If you only knew about all the bruises he gave her, every bone he’s broken, every bloody nose – then you’d understand.  Because if you did know all these things, you’d probably want to dump him in the ocean yourself!

“I understand, Gabby,” he said as he ushered her away from the door and into the hallway, where Patrice stood patiently waiting for her.

But that was a lie, because he really didn’t understand any of it at all.

 

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Let’s Go On A Fall Hayride!

One of the things I love most about living in Indiana is enjoying Fall festivities and admiring the fall foliage.  I had the opportunity to do them both at the same time when my husband and I attended the Fall Harvest Hayride in Clarksville.   I’ve loved hayrides ever since I was a kid, but going on one in Florida simply cannot be compared to going on one when there’s a crisp coolness in the air and the trees surrounding you are on fire with reds, oranges and yellows.  The laughter of children and conversations between adults filled the atmosphere around me, giving the ambience of the evening a special, magical spark.

So, grab your jacket or coat, whichever you prefer because you’re going to need it, and come along with me while I take you on a hayride through Lapping Park!!!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!!!

Our Ride

This was the hay-filled trailer we rode in on!

By the Campfire

Time for some folk music while we roast marshmallows and make s’mores over an open campfire.  It was hilarious watching my husband try to make a s’more because neither one of us had ever made one before…so, the graham crackers were broken, the marshmallows burnt and the Hershey’s chocolate bar cold as ice, but it was still good.  Gooey and messy, but good.

Guitarist and vocalists, Mike and Molly, who provided the music and encouraged the audience to sing along!  One of the many fire pits that were burning inside the square.  Fear not….volunteers were standing by in the event that flames jumped the rails!!!

Endris Lodge

Endris Lodge, where hot chocolate, hot dogs, chips, sodas and s’mores kits were being sold.

Lonely Bench

So peaceful and serene.  If you could sit on this bench for five minutes and talk to someone, who would you choose?

A Path To

A path to….?  Look at all of those beautiful colors!

Fall Foliage Lapping Park

Some of the foliage along the path that leads down to Silver Creek (where the bench was).

Fallen Leaves

Some fallen leaves…I didn’t want them to feel left out because they’re no longer on the trees..:)

Monarch Waystation

The Monarch Waystation.  They have butterfly gardens at the park now.

Into the Woods

Into the woods we go, following the lit path that led to the Amphitheater where the live animal show took place.  I saw a baby alligator, a baby skunk, a Eurasian Eagle Owl and a giant bullfrog…ribbit!

There were also cordoned off areas that had games and activities for small children, in addition to the playground that is directly in front of Endris Lodge.

We had so much fun and totally enjoyed ourselves and we also plan on attending again next year.

Did I tell you how happy I was to get back to the car where it was nice and warm so that I could thaw out my fingers and toes???

Until next time.

Take care and God Bless!

Glenda

 

 

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Flight of Fancy – A Short Story

NOBODY MOVE!” And then the distinct clicking sound of a gun hammer being cocked. “EVERYBODY STAY IN YOUR SEATS, DO AS YOU’RE TOLD AND NO ONE GETS HURT!”

Fancy raised a flap of her eye mask and blinked groggily, the effects of the sedative she’d taken for the flight lingering heavily, creating a thick fog that enveloped her mind. She had no idea how long they’d been airborne because she’d taken the pill before boarding and fell asleep before takeoff. At first, she thought the man’s voice was coming from the big screen television inside the cabin, but seeing him standing in the aisle armed with a shotgun clearly brought the situation into focus.

“What’s going on?” she asked, sitting upright in her seat. “What’s happening?”

“You!” the armed man barked, pointing his gun at her. “Keep your mouth shut. All you need to know is that there’s been a slight change to our flight plan.”

Fancy began to stand, but quickly reconsidered when the man took a step towards her. “Not a smart idea, Red.”

Fancy glanced around at the other passengers on the small private jet.   She didn’t recognize any of them, but judging by the fear on their faces, they were just as scared as she was.

“Okay, everyone, listen up,” the man announced. “See that man back there?” he asked, pointing. All heads turned to see a second armed man at the rear of the plane that appeared to be an exact replica of the first one. “In case you haven’t figured it out yet, he’s my twin brother. He’ll be collecting cell phones, tablets and any other communications devices you good people may have. We certainly can’t take any chances of having our mission posted all over social media now, can we?”

“Why are they doing this?” Fancy wondered. “They’re obviously Americans, with that southern accent, for Pete’s sake!   Since when did an American hi-jack an interstate flight?”

“That means you, too, Red,” the gunman ordered.

Fancy’s hands were trembling as she picked her purse up from the floor.   Desperately trying to retrieve her phone, she dropped the purse, spilling its contents into the aisle at the gunman’s feet. Reflexively, she squatted on the floor to pick them up.

“Nope,” the gunman said, shoving her backward with the gun barrel. “Get back in your seat.”

Fancy did as she was told.

“What do you hope to gain by doing this?” It was one of the other passengers, a man of about thirty sitting to her right.

Instead of answering, the gunman struck the man on the side of the head with the butt of the gun. The injured man yelped in pain as he grabbed his head, then turned away and stared out the window. She could see blood streaming through his fingers, leaving bright red trails as it ran down the back of his hand.

“Why did I let you talk me into this?” Fancy asked herself, recalling her conversation with Lori, one of the three actual friends she had. “I should have stood my ground when I said no.   This is what I get for giving in.”

Fancy reflected back on that debate now as she sat helpless and unarmed on a flight going to God knows where, while two armed gunmen held her and the other passenger’s hostage.

“Fancy, I have a ticket for a charter flight to New York City, but I can’t use it. I want you to have it and go in my place.”

“Why would I want to go to New York?”

“Have you ever been?” Lori asked.

“No.”

“You’ll love it! I really wanted to go, but something came up and I can’t. I don’t want the ticket to go to waste.”

“Give it to someone else.”

“No, I want you to have it.”

“Why me?”

“Because you never do anything fun or exciting. Don’t you get tired of the same old mundane routine day in and day out?”

“No,” Fancy answered. “I don’t.”

“Look,” Lori pleaded with her. “It’s just a one day thing. You fly there, spend a few hours shopping or sightseeing, whatever you want. Then you get back on the plane and come home.   I truly think you’d enjoy it.   So, what do you say?”

“I don’t know, Lori,” she’d told her hesitantly. “I’m not really fond of flying. It scares me.”

“Then ask your doctor to give you something specifically for the flight, or I can give you one of mine.”

“So you’re scared of flying, too?”

“A little maybe, but it’s the only way to travel. Beats driving any day.”

Fancy sat quietly as she pondered the thought of seeing New York. It had never really been a desire of hers to go, but it might just be fun afterall.

“It’s only about a two hour flight,” Lori told her. “You’ll be there before you know it, especially if you take a feel good pill. And I promise that you’ll have so much fun you won’t even think about it.”

Lori was right about one thing – she didn’t lead an exciting life. Some may even find her lifestyle quite boring.

“Tell you what,” Lori prompted. “You do this one thing for me, and I’ll never ask you to do anything else.”

“I’m not sure, Lori,” Fancy said, shaking her head.

“Please, please, please,” Lori begged. “The ticket is already paid for and it’s non-refundable. All you’ll need is money to spend on yourself.”

Fancy took a deep breath and exhaled through her nose. “Okay,” she said, sounding reluctant. “But you owe me big time.”

As she sat stiffly in her seat, staring down at her money scattered on the floor, she longed for that boring life she loved. What she wouldn’t give at that moment to be at home curled up on her couch watching an old movie while listening to Pokey purr.

“Well, well, lookey here,” the gunman said, picking the bills up and placing them in his front pocket. “Thank you for donating to the cause. It’s greatly appreciated.”

Fancy opened her mouth to protest, reconsidered the possible consequences, and then sat quietly as she stared straight ahead.

The gunman remained by her side, hovering as he held the shotgun tucked beneath his arm.

“What’s your name, anyhow?” he asked her.

Did he seriously expect her to engage in casual conversation while he held them all at gunpoint? She remained silent.

“I asked you a question,” he said, his voice hardening. “And I would like an answer.”

“Fancy,” she answered without looking at him.

“Say that again,” he said, chuckling softly. “I just want to make sure I heard you correctly.”

“Fancy!” she spat, this time making eye contact with him. In the midst of such peril, she hated to admit to herself that he was quite handsome, and appeared to be of Greek descent with his dark hair and eyes, and olive complexion. She looked away and stared out the window when he began laughing.

“Are you serious? Your name is Fancy? Well, fancy that, Miss Fancy. What kind of drugs was your momma taking when she named you?” he laughed heartily.   “My name is Danny, and my brother back there is Randy.”

Fancy did not acknowledge his statement.

“Fancy,” he said, shaking his head. “Now I’ve heard it all.”

“Can I please go to the restroom?” Fancy asked without looking at him.

“Well now, seeing that you just gave me…” he paused, reaching into his pocket and retrieving the wad of bills. He immediately bent down to pick up a round lapel pin that had stuck to the money and quickly shoved it back into his pocket, glancing furtively around the cabin as if he was making sure that no one else saw it. Unfolding the cash, he counted, “One, two…five hundred dollars, I suppose I could let you do that.”

Fancy’s legs were wobbly as she stood up, slowly making her way toward the back of the plane, where Randy had remained the entire duration of the flight.   He wasn’t holding his shotgun, but it was nearby, propped up against the wall where he stood.

Fancy turned on the faucet and splashed her face with cold water. She glanced around the small cubicle, assessing the possibility of obtaining a weapon. There were no phones on the plane, other than the cell phones, and those had all been confiscated, so the chance of making a call was out of the question. The paper towel dispenser was built into the vanity of the sink; therefore, there were no metal racks that she could rip from the wall. She could break the mirror, but the sound of shattering glass would send them running, and they’d more than likely tear down the door before she could retrieve a shard and hide it inside her shirt. She was helpless. There was nothing she could do to defend herself, so she did the only thing possible – she returned to her seat and sat back down.

Once again, she replayed her conversation with Lori over in her mind, hating herself for being so spineless and giving in to something that she never wanted to do in the first place.

As she sat with her arms folded across her chest, staring out the window, she became lost in thought.

Why had Lori been so adamant about making sure that she got the ticket?   She had plenty of other friends that would have jumped at the opportunity for a free trip, and she had suggested as much, only to be told no.

And how did Danny and Randy get those huge guns onto the plane without anyone noticing? She had been the first one on board and had immediately fallen into a heavy sleep, but surely the other passengers would have noticed and said something, wouldn’t they? Come to think of it, the sedative that Lori had given her had worked much too well. For a pill that was only meant to calm her, it had knocked her out completely, so anything could have happened and she wouldn’t have known about it. That would certainly include armed gunmen boarding the plane after her. And why weren’t they wearing masks? Did they not care about being identified? Unless…Fancy was suddenly struck by a horrible thought, feeling a panic stir inside of her. Unless they were planning on killing all of them once they reached their destination!

Why were none of the other passengers conspiring to overthrow the gunmen?   Other than the one gentleman who had been struck in the head, not a single one of them had said a word. How could they all sit there so somber as though nothing were going on? The eight of them could easily overtake the two gunmen if they worked together. Of course, someone might get shot in the process, or a stray bullet might penetrate the fuselage and cause the air pressure to destabilize, which would then cause the plane to crash. On the one hand, she could understand why no one was eager to be heroic. They were probably as terrified as she was, but by doing nothing, they were all sitting ducks simply waiting to see what their fates held in store for them.

For two men who were hi-jacking a plane, why had neither one of them attempted to storm the cockpit? Afterall, the pilot would play a major role in getting the aircraft to their desired location, unless the pilot was in on the plot, too, and the flight plan was pre-arranged.

Fancy took a deep breath, closed her eyes and laid her head back.

Instantaneously, she opened her eyes and sat upright. “Wait a minute,” she thought, remembering the pin that had fallen out of Danny’s pocket, and how quickly he’d retrieved it, but not before she saw the DAC logo that was printed on it. She knew that symbol quite well. In fact, she had seen it on numerous occasions and couldn’t believe the thought hadn’t occurred to her until that moment.

Fancy immediately knew what was going on – and who the person was that was behind this whole charade.

What she didn’t know was why.

Drawing on her sudden realization, she made a decision and hoped that her instincts were right. If they were, this ordeal would end without injuries or casualties. But if she was wrong…

“I’m not afraid of you,” she said, standing up to face Danny. Wielding the nail file she’d taken from her purse, she lunged at him, the sharp tip of the file pointed at his left cheek. He seemed genuinely surprised at her sudden show of bravery, taking a step backward and away from her.

“Sit down,” he told her, keeping an eye on the weapon she held while waving it back and forth as if she were competing in a fencing match.

“No,” she stated firmly. “If you’re going to shoot me, then go ahead and do it.”

Danny sprang forward, grabbing her by both wrists and forcefully put her back in her seat. “Stay put, I mean it,” he instructed her, making his way toward the rear of the plane.   Keeping his back toward her, he began conversing with Randy, who was obviously agreeing with whatever Danny was saying because he was nodding. She could hear them whispering but couldn’t make out what they were saying.

“What are the two of you discussing,” Fancy asked, standing up and turning to face them.

“I told you to sit down,” Danny said, pointing to her seat. Randy took a cell phone from his pocket and dialed a number. Danny remained directly in front of him, preventing her from being able to read his lips while he talked.   The conversation only lasted a few moments, and when Randy put his phone back in his pocket, Danny returned to the front of the plane.

During the entire exchange between Fancy and Danny, all of the other passengers remained in their seats as quiet as a church mouse, stealing only a glance at her when she spoke, confirming her suspicions that they, too, were involved in whatever was going on.

“Ladies and gentlemen, there’s been a change of plans,” Danny announced, looking at Fancy while he spoke. With a remote control in hand, he turned toward the big screen television and turned it on. “Stay tuned for a public service announcement,” he said.

“Fancy, Fancy, Fancy,” came the voice from the television.

Fancy stared at the screen in shock. “Lori?” she asked, frowning.

“Yep, it’s me,” she said, smiling. “This part wasn’t supposed to happen so soon, but we figured it best to end it before someone really did get hurt.”

“What part?” Fancy asked, alarmed when she heard a loud POP! erupt from the rear of the plane, thinking it was gunfire, but was stunned when she turned around to see Randy holding a bottle of champagne, foam spilling over the top and onto the carpeted floor.

“What’s going on?” Fancy asked, turning back to the television.

“I’d like you to meet some of my friends,” Lori said. “Ladies and gentlemen, please stand and take a bow.”   And they did – every single passenger.   “They’re all members of the Drama Actors Club. You know, Fancy, the one I belong to. You’ve been to several of my plays.”

“Yes, but…”

“You want to know why?”

“Yes, I do.”

“For starters, I thought you could use some excitement in your life,” Lori explained.

“So you staged a fake hi-jacking? Don’t you think that’s somewhat extreme?”

“Perhaps, but I, we, would have never let anyone get hurt for real.   It was all in good fun. How many times have you told me that you would love to be in a play with me? So, congratulations, you had the starring role.”

“You call nearly giving me a heart attack fun?” Fancy exclaimed, her voice cracking. “And what about him?” she asked, pointing to the man who had been struck in the head.   “He got hurt.”

“Fake blood sac,” he answered, standing and facing her. “See?” he said, holding up his hand. “It was glued to the palm and ruptured when I hit the side of my head,” he explained, reenacting his movement.

“And the guns?” Fancy asked.

“Props,” Danny answered. “From a play we did a few months ago.”

“But I heard you cock it,” Fancy protested.

“Like this,” one of the female passengers said, shaking her phone up and down. “Sound effects. I had to turn the volume up and cue it several times to wake you up. That pill Lori gave you really did the trick.”

“Oh, Fancy,” Lori said. “I’ve been planning this for months. I thought it was all going to fail when you gave me such a hard time over the ticket.”

“I wish it had failed,” Fancy said. “I’ve never been so scared in all of my life, and I still don’t understand why you did it.”

“Tell her why, friends,” Lori said. While Randy poured the champagne into plastic wine glasses, the group began singing Happy Birthday.

“Lori, my birthday isn’t for another week,” Fancy said when the singing was over.

“I know that, silly, but I’ll be out of town then. I wanted to give you a special birthday, one that you would never forget. How’d I do?”

“Well, you got the ‘never forget’ part right,” Fancy answered, taking a sip of champagne.

“Good,” Lori said with a laugh. “If you think your flight was exciting, just wait until you see what I have planned once you arrive in New York.”

“Goody,” Fancy said with a frown. “I can barely wait.”

“Okay, everyone, I’ll see you when you get here. Great job, guys!”

Danny turned off the television and extended his hand to Fancy. “No hard feelings?”

Fancy stared at his hand momentarily, then shook it. “No, but someone has a lot more explaining to do.”

“I’ll leave that up to Lori,” he said smiling. After returning her cell phone and money, he joined his brother at the back of the plane.

Fancy stared out the window as she sipped her champagne, wondering what else Lori had planned for her, hoping that whatever it was didn’t include bungee jumping off the Empire State Building.

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Identifying the Antichrist: Signs, Traits and Characteristics of the Beast

How many of you have ever seen the movie “The Omen?”  Doesn’t matter whether it’s the original or the remake, they both carry the same message – the birth and rising to power of the Antichrist.  If you did see the movie, then you know that Damien Thorn didn’t simply appear in a puff of magical smoke – he was born from a jackal, chosen from his conception to fulfill the role of The Beast, taking the place of a murdered newborn to claim his place in the family of the United States Ambassador to Great Britain.  While The Omen is a work of fiction, it is based on Biblical teachings about the Antichrist and how he will rise up in a position of power.  Not by being an investment banker or a movie star – but politically.  At the end of the first movie, Damien is shown standing by the side of the President of the United States while attending the funeral of his father.  Keep in mind he had already murdered his mother and was also responsible for the death of his father.  In the sequels, Damien is taken in by his uncle, and after the deaths of those family members, turns the uncle’s company into a global business corporation.  Damien went on to become the Ambassador to Great Britain (the same position as his father) because England was the site of the second coming.  Damien didn’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of his success or his calling, and he did whatever it took to make sure that his purpose was uninterrupted, and that his mission was fulfilled.  Now, let’s put the fiction behind us and move ahead to what’s real.  Are you ready for this?

First off, while The Omen is a movie with fictional characters and an embellished plot, the undertone is VERY real.  I have been a Christian all of my life, and many times have been taught about and heard of the second coming, the Antichrist and the Mark of the Beast, what to look for, how to identify him.  Many times I have wondered if I would be able to make those distinctions.  Afterall, he will look like an average, every day man, but with exceptionally different attributes.  I’ve pondered whether or not we would be put to a test, a trial run, so to speak, just to see if we will recognize him when we see him, or if we’ll be so caught up in his splendor that we won’t be able to see the forest for the trees.

I did a lot of research before writing this blog, and also consulted my Bible and even my Bible for Dummies to gain knowledge and insight to help me understand exactly what I wanted to say and what I wanted to make a point of.  To begin, let’s take a look at, and break down, some of the top and most important characteristics to look for.

HE WILL HAVE CHARISMA

He will be charming and speak the words that people want to hear, but only those caught up in his web of deceit will see his words as soothing.  There will be those who are not so taken in by his charisma, and those will be the ones questioning his true intentions.

HE WILL BE CLEVER

He will be a master of deception, akin to a charming, clever psychopath, that will bring him to global prominence in multiple ways.  He will have the ability to avoid what some people might call “scandalous behavior.”

HE WILL BE A LIAR

And I don’t mean tiny white lies, like telling your friend she looks great in that dress when, in fact, she doesn’t.  He will tell whoppers that are so convincing that when he speaks the words and the words fall upon the ears of his followers, they believe it to be the truth because the deception is so deep that they can’t see beyond the alternate reality that he creates around them.  Additionally, he will know they’re lies when speaking them, but conviction for wrong-doings isn’t an attribute he possesses.

HE WILL HAVE ECONOMIC CONTROL

While I’m sure this is self-explanatory, keep in mind that this particular economic control goes beyond the United States!  It will be global and will affect everyone living on earth.

HE WILL PERFORM WONDERS

Remember, he is a master of deception and the “wonders” you may witness aren’t really wonders at all, but more like the slight of hand from a master magician.  Some examples of this would be creating a massive chaotic situation that will ruffle the feathers of some, but not all, then finding the means to repair the chaos, all the while claiming victory for solving the problem.  What he will create are optical illusions, but his faithful followers will be so drawn in by him that they will fail to see the truth.

HE WILL BE BLASPHEMOUS

Most people probably view blasphemy as a direct insult toward God, but that’s not necessarily true.  Insulting God’s people is just as blasphemous as if it were pointedly directed at God himself.  Matthew 25:40 tells us that ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Bottom line – insulting God’s children equals insulting God.

HE WILL BE LAWLESS

In other words, the law doesn’t apply to him so he doesn’t have to follow any of them.  He will be able to do and say what he wants without any repercussions.  Again, he is a master of deceit, so those who are taken in by his charisma won’t view his actions as lawless and they will defend him relentlessly.

HE WILL BE A DESTROYER

What, exactly, does that mean?  Is he going to destroy buildings?  Will he tear up highways and blow up bridges?  While that is certainly possible, because he will be extremely destructive, I’m leaning more toward the fact that this means a destroyer of people and relationships.  For instance, let’s say a husband and wife are on opposite sides of the belief spectrum – one is a follower and one isn’t.  You don’t think that would cause a huge riff between the couple?  Possibly arguments and eventually a splitting of the two?  Is that not being destroyed?  Not just couples either.  Parents and children, family and friends.  Those who choose not to follow his path of destruction and deceit will be ostracized by those who do.

HE WILL BE A DECEIVER

What does it mean to be deceitful?  One example would be saying one thing publicly but quite a different story in private to those who surround him (and he will have a team of supporters to help him with his dirty work – he will not act alone in his deceptions and lies).  Another would be spreading falsehoods and gossip and passing them off as truths, knowing that his loyalists will believe whatever he says.

HE WILL BE A POLITICIAN

Just like Damien Thorn.  Why?  Because that’s where the power is.  Where better to be than in a position of power where he can be in the public eye and known worldwide?  He won’t be a Little Tom Thumb sitting in the corner eating his pie.  He will be bold, crass and loud.  Afterall, he DOES want his message to be heard.

HE WILL BE EXTREMELY ARROGANT

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes arrogance as “exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one’s own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner.”  To put it simply, he will be so full of himself that anything and anyone outside of his own personal bubble will be of no importance to him, other than using them for financial or personal gain.  In his mind, they are dispensable and inadequate in comparison to him.

While there are certainly many, many more characteristics, I personally thought these are some of the most important ones to mull over.  The Bible warns us to be vigilant and to keep watch constantly so as not to be taken in by a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  I believe that when we are finally faced with dealing with the Antichrist, (and we will), there will be two distinct groups – those who believe in him and follow his teachings, and those who don’t.  The two groups will be at constant war with each other, either by slander, hateful and hurtful words, possibly even physical contact, such as fighting and shooting.  The devil will delight in such behavior, because nothing makes him happier than witnessing actions such as the warring, idolatry (yes, fighting over him is most definitely idolatry!), wicked words and actions.  He relishes in it, wraps himself in it like a warm blanket while he smiles and the wars continue to rage around him.  Those who love, worship and adore him won’t be able to figure out why those who oppose him don’t feel the same way that they do – and vice versa.  The answer is quite simple.  It’s because the two groups will sit on opposite sides of the fence, with differing insights, opinions and feelings.  It will be the ultimate battle between good and evil.  I can only hope and pray that when that time comes, I choose wisely.

Christians, be vigilant, be alert, be focused, and pay attention.  Your eternal life may just depend on it.

Until next time….

Take care and God Bless!

Glenda

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