Monday, June 23, 2014

ISIS - The Money

We interrupt your digital scroll for this important information...

This article from CNN contains six buttons that each pull up one paragraph of information on how ISIS became so wealthy, so fast. It makes for an easy read. Read it. Educate yourself. Pass it on.

As Americans, we keep our heads buried in the sand far too often. After reading this, you might count yourself (at the very least) as one who has looked up.

How has ISIS become one of the richest ever militant groups?

We now return you to your regularly scheduled lives.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Couple Fights

A Couple Fights

While working on my third installment of McShane Mini-Mystery, I wrote this interaction between two characters. It may not make the cut, but I felt it needed to be put somewhere.

A couple fights
each tries to shout over the other to be heard
Voices and tension rise
Boy throws something at girl
it smashes against the wall, missing by a few feet
Boy is shocked he threw that, but continues to scream his argument
Girl is aghast, runs when her senses return
she reaches room, slams door, locks it to keep violence out
Boy knocks hard on door
feeling embarrassed, he begs girl for forgiveness
said if he wanted to hit her with it, he would have
It was just a stupid impulse.
she doesn’t answer
he pounds harder at the door, frustrated
she screams to go away
he pounds harder
she screams in frightened anger
the interior door succumbs to the brute strength thrown against it
it flies open
she screams in terror
he sees her fear as he approaches, tries to calm her with palms raised
she extends her own hand, shouts not to come nearer
he grabs her wrist, implores her to stop screaming, to hear him
She struggles. Against his strength, against the immobility, against the pain of his grip
he grips harder
Why won’t she just listen?
She screams again, hoping for mercy, praying for rescue
He watches her writhe as his ears ache from her screams
his throat is sore from trying to reach her
his anger pushes aside patience
Why won’t she just listen?
her scream is cut off by the back of his hand
in shock, he releases her
she crumples to the floor, tasting blood
he scolds himself
he didn’t mean to do that
he only wanted her to listen to what he had to say
she’s quietly sobbing now
but it doesn’t matter
he’s too embarrassed that he lost his temper
to exhausted to pursue the fight anyway
What were they fighting about?
He kneels to comfort her, to apologize
she slaps his hand away
he stands, rebuffed
resisting the urge to kick her, he leaves
before doing something he’d really regret

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Roof Food Clothes

"Roof. Food. Clothes."
I heard him say,
though embarrassed deeply.

"These three things
are all you need,
the rest is luxury."


The four adults stood in the near-empty room in deep, awkward silence. My mom, my new dad, and my two new grandparents had watched the big truck pull away, and weren’t saying a  word to each other.

Earlier that day, just after lunch, my new grandparents had arrived to meet their son’s new wife and her three daughters. I was the youngest. Being only seven at the time, I didn’t understand my mother’s meaning when she told me they might not like me. I remember telling her that I liked everyone, and everyone likes me, so I was sure they would, too. She smiled and gave me a little hug and said ‘I hope so’.

Looking back at my youthful naivety, I realize she, and my Nana, had tried to explain to me what ‘catholic’ was and how my new dad’s parents didn’t want him to marry a woman with three daughters. My Nana had explained it to my older sisters, and they seemed to grasp the meaning. It escaped me completely.

My mother’s new husband, the man who became my dad, was from Portland, Maine. A place I imagined as a faraway land where handsome, happy men came from. I wasn’t far off the mark. Growing up in West Palm Beach, Florida did not give me great insight into snow-covered homes of Maine, where people were dependant upon each other through the blizzard conditions they faced throughout their lives.

Dad met mom when I was five. At that time my mom, two sisters and I were living in a house that had mice and other nefarious creatures. I recall the ones I feared the most (and still give me nightmares) were the flying cockroaches. But my new Dad would come over in his company truck, when he was supposed to be working, and kill them for me. He was my hero. I didn’t realize he had just stopped by to say ‘hi’ to my mom. It worked out to my benefit, nonetheless.

When Mom said yes to Dad’s marriage proposal, Dad bought a house with three bedrooms and one bathroom. It was pure luxury to my standard. My oldest sister, Sally, even got her own room.

Mom and Dad bought a whole house full of all new furniture, and we were threatened within an inch of our lives if we got caught jumping on it. Which, of course, we did. Then we got our butts whupped! So, the furniture was indeed off limits as trampolines.

I remember a little while later, Dad came home and wasn’t driving his truck. I asked where it went, and he said the boss kept it. But Dad said he was gonna get a new truck from a new place and I shouldn’t worry about it. I didn’t. He was my hero, and I didn’t worry about anything with him around.

My new grandparents had made the trip from Portland to West Palm Beach by car. Mom had expected them that morning, and tried to keep her three daughters clean for their arrival. But they didn’t get there until well after lunch.

I met my new grandmother, and I could tell she didn’t like me or my sisters at all. She smiled, but she wouldn’t let me hug her, and kept sniffing like she smelled something bad. My new grandfather allowed a brief hug, but said his back hurt from all that driving. After the three of us were introduced, we were told to go outside and play. I nearly ran. These two grown ups kept looking at my mom like they were mad at her, and I didn’t want to be there if my mom started yelling at them about being polite.

Sally sat on the back step while my other sister and I played. Soon we heard a big truck pull up to the front of the house. We went up the side yard and saw it was from the same store my mom and dad bought all the furniture from. Two big men got out and went inside to talk to my dad. They had papers in their hands and scowls on their faces.

As we watched, the two big men brought out our new couch and put it in their truck. Next they took out our new dinner table and chairs, then the beds and dressers. All the new stuff mom and dad bought just a little while ago, they were taking. I was going to go inside and ask why, but Sally wouldn’t let me. She made us go to the backyard and stay out of the way.

After we heard the truck leave, Sally let us go in the back door, after I promised I wouldn’t get in the way of the grown ups. That’s when I saw the four adults in the empty room. My new grandmother sniffed again, and walked out the front door. My new grandfather ran his fingers through his hair, looked at my mom and said, “Nice to meet you,” and he left, too. They got in their car and drove away without saying bye to us.

My mom started to cry. My dad put his arms around her and she buried her face in his chest and cried like I had never seen my mama cry before. He held her like that for a little bit, then I heard him say, “It’s OK. You told me before, we’ve got a roof, we’ve got food, and we’ve got clothes. Everything else is luxury.”

That’s how we were raised.

When I wanted money, I’d say “I need ten bucks”.

It was answered with “Excuse me? You need ten bucks?”

“Yeah, I need ten bucks to go skating tonight.”

“No, you want ten bucks. You only Need a roof, food and clothes.”

Those things my dad provided. And sometimes, he’d throw in ten bucks.