Oklahoma Or Bust: National Memorial

On April 19, 1995, I was on my way to work when the breaking news story came that there was some kind of explosion at the Morrow Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I lived in Pasco at the time and when I got off work I went to my sister Cathy’s place where her two year old daughter played with dolls and toys on the living room floor.

Cathy had the news of the attack on her TV and she was crying when they showed a toddler being pulled from where the daycare was located. “Why they had to do that?” She asked in sorrow and frustration. It was the first time I saw the aftermath of what happened. I stood there in shock, standing there amazed by the pure devastation and wondered if anyone survived.

That toddler was one of one hundred sixty-eight who died on that day. It’s an image, along with others and of course the subsequent events that followed that seared into my memory. We all assumed it was Islamic extremists at first, just as the three main journalists from the three main broadcast network news media admitted later.

I then remembered Waco and the Branch Davidian that occurred just two years prior and how many extremist groups had vowed revenge for what happened, blaming everything on over-reach from the United States government. It came as no surprise later when two individuals named Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were arrested for orchestrating and carrying out the attack.

On Sunday, Saundra took me to the National Memorial. I was curious and apprehensive at the same time. I wanted to see how the planners and curators presented the memorial and fearful my emotions would get the best of me. Even now I’m getting choked up.

Ron didn’t come with. We had brunch at Toby’s with her church recovery group and she explained to me as we drove over that day from Ronnie’s perspective. “He had just left to take a recruit to the airport not more than ten minutes before the explosion. He was a recruiter then and when he got back he had to help find the bodies and the survivors. He got PTSD from that and I think it accelerated his Alzheimer’s.”

It was a sunny and reasonably warm day, compared to what I’m used to when we parked her Sonata across the street from the National Memorial in the post office’s parking lot. The first thing we noticed were handprints done in plaster done from children at a grade school in Texas not long after the bombing. Off to the distance was the Survivor Tree. We then went inside. We walked onto an elevator that took us down and then we walked into a replica of a meeting that occurred across the street from the Morrow Federal Building concerning property disputes. The clock on the wall showed 9 o’clock.

A tape recording played the meeting’s minutes up and until the blast occurred. Another door opened and we became witnesses to the aftermath through the use of videos, still photographs and wreckage of cars, cinder blocks and masonry assembled in half-hazard fashion as if from an actual explosion.

I tried to hold in my emotions as we walked though the show case of destruction and horrific damage. I tried, but it took its toll on me. Saundra thought I was laughing at first, when she asked, “What’s so funny?”

“I’m not laughing,” I replied. She then saw the pained expression of my face and I’m sure the tears in my eyes. Satisfied that I wasn’t mocking this sacred ground, we continued on. We were almost through with the second floor when we saw the image of the firefighter handing over the toddler’s wasted body to an EMS medic. Someone had done a statue in honor of that rescuer and the baby in the form of an angel delivering her to Heaven.

“This is what got Cathy,” I choked to Saundra.

We finished and left the place feeling sad and enlightened. She went to her car. I pulled out my cellphone and took pictures of the lawn, the statues, the Survivor Tree, the pool and the church where the survivors took sanctuary on that fateful day.

Oklahoma Or Bust: Ice Cream

My Cousin told me about Ronnie. I had a hard time digesting what she said last night; he had the same ailment as our Aunt Brenda. As I mentioned in the last chapter she’s in a nursing home for people with dementia.

I awoke in the hotel room and anticipated getting some sort of continental breakfast served in their tiny serving area adjacent to the lobby. Naturally I checked my watched told me by its analog dial it was almost eight; plenty of time. I took a shower and dressed. I fiddled with the TV remote but gave up. Apparently, there was a code or something that I needed to input first. I grabbed my coffee mug and took the elevator down to the lobby.

When I reached the area where food would be served, I saw a smiling middle-aged woman with brownish hair and wearing a smock a nametag called Stephanie above her left breast. “Good morning,” she called out to me.

“Good morning,” I replied looking with disappointment at the emptiness of the serving area. “I take it I’m too late.”

“Yes, I’m afraid you just missed it. But you can go over to Pickles just next door. Just show them your key card and they’ll give you a discount on breakfast.” She was an attractive woman with a pleasant smile and a slight Oklahoman accent. I’d say slight compared to my cousin, whose dialect is quite rich.

“I guess I’ll go there then. Do you still have coffee?”

“We certainly do. We have a regular breakfast blend and bolder Colombian. Which would you prefer?”

“The bolder, most definitely.”

She directed to where the two carafes were, and I poured out the hot black mix and placed the cap over my Yeti cup. I then left the hotel and walked the hundred yards or so to the restaurant called Pickles. I walked inside and the hostess guided me to a seat near her station at a table with four chairs.

She handed me a menu. Like Stephanie, the hostess appeared middle-aged with visible lines along her mouth and brow. Her hair was a frosted brunette and she gave me a pleasant smile.

The server came by with a water. She appeared younger than the hostess and slightly bigger. “Would you like coffee?” She asked.

“No, I brought mine from the hotel. I guess I got to the breakfast a bit late and she told me I’d just have to show my keycard and you’d do a discount?”

“That’s right,” she replied. I showed her my keycard as verification. She nodded and smiled politely.

I returned to my menu, and she filled a couples’ waters and cleaned a booth nearby. I found a breakfast burrito that looked like it would fit the bill. She figured I was ready to order and came back over with pad and pencil in hand. “I flew all the way here from Spokane for your world-famous breakfast burrito,” I told her with a wry grin.

“I don’t think anyone in Spokane knew we exist,” she replied calling me on my bluff.

“Yeah, I’m just kidding.”

“Did you want sour cream and salsa with that?”

“No on the sour cream, but definitely on the salsa and a bottle of Tabasco too please.”

“On its way,” she told me as she appeared impressed by my wanting pepper sauce with the salsa. I then texted Cousin, telling her where I was. I also texted my son in law that I made it to Oklahoma City. The plane ran out of gas, and I had to hitch hike the rest of the way, I deadpanned.

He replied with an emoji of a happy face with tears in his eyes. Saundra texted back just as my breakfast arrived. I chose to eat then work on the reply later.

I paid for my meal and headed back to the hotel. I went to my room and grabbed my suitcase and laptop case then I went down to the lobby where I met with Stephanie and checked out just before the allotted time. While I waited for Saundra, I replied back I was at the hotel awaiting her return. She told me that she was coming to pick me up. Her earlier message stated she was on her way to pick up Ron and pick me up.

I was more than a little surprised to see her but not Ron with her. “Where’s Ron?”

“I’m going to get him next. He wasn’t ready when I called him earlier,” Saundra replied. She appeared stressed and exhausted. I explained to her she needed to get the deposit for the room and that Stephanie couldn’t give me the money. She appeared on the verge of tears when she saw Stephanie and then her face lit up. Apparently, they were close school friends in high school. Both went to each other and hugged. “Stephanie! It’s been ages. I didn’t know you worked here.”

“That’s right Saundra,” she announced after releasing herself. “When he told me your name, I just knew it was you!” Apparently, they both belonged to the same Christian fellowship program that deals in recovery. I know Saundra had gastric bypass done a while back and just assumed it had to do with over eating issues.

They continued talking but then Stephanie went to the front desk and handed her the envelope. “Thank you, Stephanie. Maybe I’ll see you at church tomorrow.”

“I’ll try but I might be working,” she told Saundra with an air of regret in her voice.

Saundra helped me with my bag and I got into the front passenger seat. She started the car and we headed to where Ron lives, not far from the hotel in Moore.  “We’re both in the same recovery group at church,” she explained to me. “Mine was gambling,” she admitted.

I was shocked but didn’t say so, knowing how touchy overeating is too. I let her talk at length about Ron, her brother and my cousin. “He wasn’t the same after the Morrow Federal Building bombing. Then sometime after Mom died, he started getting more forgetful and got lost a lot. He couldn’t keep his job. Finally, he went to the doctor, and they told us…told him he has Alzheimer’s’.”

“I see,” I replied. “That’s too bad.” It was an understatement to say the least. I only remember him from 1969 when my parents, two sisters and I went to see Grandma. Uncle Hal and Ronnie had arrived a few days later and he and I, being typical cousins hit it right off becoming fast friends. I was ten and he was twelve. He was outgoing and flirtatious with the neighbor’s eight-year-old daughter. WE all went to the movie in Childress.

We arrived at his house. “This is the neighborhood that was hit by that tornado,” Saundra said. “That there was the school that got flattened.” She pulled into the driveway, and I saw a pair of other cars sitting there as well. She left me in the car and went inside to get Ronnie.

I saw a man wearing black framed glasses, wearing jeans and brown colored jacket come outside the house. He stopped in front of a garden bed, more or less vacant of any plants or flowers. Saundra came up from his rear and coerced him forward toward the car. He asked her a question, but I couldn’t quite hear what he said but then he started heading toward her sedan and opened the back door, sliding inside.

“Hey there Ron. You probably don’t remember me but I’m your cousin Jerry,” I explained to him after he closed the door and fastened his seat belt.

“Hey yourself. I’m glad you came. Where are you from again?”

“Spokane, Washington,” Saundra replied.

“Oh, that’s right. I was in the Army. Did you know that?”

“Yes, I did,” I told him. “I was in the Army National Guard about the same time you were.”

“I didn’t know that. What years did you serve?’

“I was in from 1981 to 2003,” I replied. Saundra had already started her car and was driving through the back streets toward the Interstate Highway and presumably heading to Uncle Hal’s house.

“When was I in Sister?”

“You was there from 1975 to 1995, twenty years,” Saundra replied.

“That’s right. I sure do love you Sister for taking me out. I was getting bored. Are we going for ice cream. I really love ice cream.”

“We will shortly, Brother. Jerry, I was thinking we could do the trolley. It goes in a loop around the city rather than me driving you around…”

“Sister, are we going to get a valentines cards? I want to give one to Carol for all the help she does. She’s wonderful.”

“Yes, Brother I already got her one and you will have to sign it and give it to her.”

“Sure, we can go and do the trolley thing,” I told Saundra when I was certain Ron didn’t have another question to ask his sister.

His conversations revolved around his caregiver, Carol, who I assumed was his second wife, what little he remembered of me and ice cream. Well, that and the fact he had another medical condition where he had the urge to urinate often, that he informed Saundra regularly.

She stopped at a Wal Mart and went to pay on her credit card account while Ron and I sat in the car. “How old was we when we met the first time?” He asked me as soon as she stepped outside.

“I was ten and you were twelve,” I replied. “We went to a movie, Remember?”

“Yeah, I think so.” He sounded uncertain.

“It was, damn, what was the name of it?” I honestly at that moment of clarity forgot the movie we went to see with the neighbor’s daughter. “Cactus Flower! That was it,” I spouted out, proud of myself for remembering.

“Yeah, I remember that now. Did you ever go overseas?”

“No, though after my stroke my brigade were activated to Iraq in 2003 through 2004.” I wished I could see his face, to gauge his reaction. “Did you serve in a theater of operations?”

“No, I wasn’t,” he replied simply. “We’re going to get ice cream later on, but I can wait. I’m not in any hurry. How long you here for?”

“Until Wednesday after Hal’s birthday.”

“This is why I love Pa so much because when I was in high school, I had an opportunity to go to college. Mom wanted me to go but I didn’t. I wanted to join the Army. She said no, and then Dad stepped in and said it was my decision. If I wanted to join the army, then by God, he was going to join!

She was plenty angry and I didn’t come back here for over six years.” He reminded me of a little boy who got away with something. Saundra came into the car and she drove to a drive inn/convenience store where she bought Dr. Pepper for Ron, a sweet tea for herself and a coffee for me.

“I like Dr. Pepper almost as much as I like ice cream. Isn’t that right Sister?”

“That’s right Brother.” We continued to the street Hal lives on, older brick houses that apparently are tornado resistant. She used the remote garage opener to guide us inside the garage and she stopped, shutting off the engine and getting out. I got out and Ron was right there beside me.

“Stand up straight and let me know how tall you are to me.”

“You are still a bit taller, Ronnie,” I exclaimed with a laugh.

He gave me a brief hug and said, “God it’s good you came. I sure do miss you.”

We went inside and I saw Hal sitting in his recliner, watching a Western on TV. I didn’t recognize the movie, but it had the earmarks of a Sam Peckinpah classic from the early to mid-seventies. Later the movie revealed its title as The Wild Bunch.

I looked about the house ignoring the clutter that made itself visible, besides the 60-inch HDTV that took up the majority of the living room, were the two recliners, a couch, and a table I assumed was used for her crafts.

“Hey, you better be for getting your shit together soldier,” Ron told his father in a stern fashion as though he was the battalion command sergeant major.

Hal looked at him and told him, “Soldier, you best get your shit together!” Both shook each other’s hands and then Ron sat next to me. We then watched the end of the movie together.

“This was playing at my house,” Ron told us.

“Well, you two ready?” Saundra asked. “Dad, we’re going to go on the trolley. You want to come too?”

“The what?”

“The trolley!” she replied louder and slower than earlier.

“Trolley? No, no I’m not interested,” Hal told her. “You all have fun without me.”

This wasn’t what I had planned for, but I have to remind myself, he doesn’t get around much anyway. I had to remember this was more about seeing my cousins and getting through Hal’s birthday on Tuesday than any preconceived notions that I would spend very much quality time with my uncle.

We left him at home, alone and we proceeded to Oklahoma City.

The skyline showed towers and buildings with names of banks and other companies that made this city great advertised for the traveler to see from Interstate 35 heading north. I admired the skyscrapers and realized they were just the pretty face they wanted us to see. I’m sure that’s the purpose of the city planners from the beginning…making that façade for all to see from afar.

We drove to the trolley’s station off Harvey and across the street from Sparks Pub. We paid for an hours’ worth of traveling that I thought was a great bargain. Saundra appeared stressed enough as it was since she apparently had her hands full with Ronnie. I merely noticed some obvious slowness in him, at first, but as the day progressed, I began seeing his dementia for what it was; far worse than earlier.

“Sister, I have to go to the bathroom again,” Ronnie announced just as we were preparing to board the streetcar as it came upon the station. I saw the pub across the street.

“There’s Sparks. I’m certain they have a public restroom there,” I suggested to Saundra.

“Come on Ronnie, let’s get you to the bathroom over there across the street.” She grabbed his hand and led him to the bar just as the streetcar pulled up. I sat on a bench and waited for their return.

“You coming?” The streetcar driver asked. He was a Black man in his mid to late forties.

“No, I’m waiting on someone.”

He nodded and grinned, and disappeared inside the trolley. It took off and I was left seeing this part of the city as I waited for Ronnie and Saundra to come back.

They arrived back to the platform just as the other streetcar arrived. It’s not the typical trolley one would experience in San Francisco. Instead, it reminded me of those light rail cars in European cities where they are oblong shaped with the driver’s seat in the front and at the rear, so that if the driver needed to reverse course for some reason, he or she just merely switched sides. Ronnie and Saundra got in first and I followed behind. The sliding gate opened automatically and then when we were boarded, it closed.

We sat up front in the same area as a gentleman who mumbled that God was the light and good would conquer evil. He said this repeatedly like a chant. If he knew Latin, it might have sounded poetic, but with him speaking in English, dressed in homeless clothes, and smelling as though he hadn’t bathed in days, he sounded crazy.

I had hoped he would get off the streetcar soon. The female robotic sounding voice told us each stop that was coming, such as Scissor tail Park, Myriad Botanical Gardens, Automobile Alley, the National Memorial, Bricktown and Mickey Mantle’s, a restaurant and bar to honor its hometown hero, along with Toby’s Bar, in honor of Toby Keith, who actually calls Moore home.

I enjoyed the sites better after our one homeless passenger got off at the transit center. We finally looped back to the Santa Fe stop where we detrained. There was a demonstration of some sort going on across the street where supposedly Mexican Americans were waving their Mexican national flags and singing in Spanish. Since I’m not completely familiar with that language I couldn’t hazard a guess as to what was being protested. We took off and ended up in Moore and the Sonic Drive-in where we ordered lunch and Ronnie got the ice cream he wanted since we picked him up earlier.

Before we left there was an issue with the toilet that needed addressing. We put the issue on the back burner until we returned. I pulled the top of the toilet off so I could see the hardware and try and troubleshoot the issue. I noticed the flapper, wasn’t going down all the way to create a seal to get the toilet tank to properly fill and fill up the bowl in the process.

Saundra told Hal. “What?” he called out.

“The toilet ain’t working right!” She repeated in frustration.

“I’ll look at it,” he told her in irritation. He got off his recliner and into the bathroom about the same time that Ronnie wanted to use it. He came back just as perplexed as he was a moment ago. “I don’t know. We need to call someone!”

“I’ll get Bob,” Saundra told him as she called this Bob guy and apparently explained to him the issue of the toilet.

“Saundra, the toilet isn’t flushing,” Ronnie informed her.

She cupped her hand and told Ron, “I know, I’m getting Bob over here to fix it,” she patiently explained to him.

“Oh, good I like Bob. Jerry, Bob’s Tammy’s husband, right Sister?”

“Yes, I’ll go down to Lowes and pick one up,” she told Bob, who was my Cousin Tammy’s husband. The last time I saw Tammy, she was seventeen, had a 71 Mustang and very well-developed breasts that my mouth watered for, though I knew that was sinful just thinking about. She was also slightly overweight and was told she too had the same gastric-bypass surgery as Saundra.

“So, what did he say?” Hal asked, though it came out more like a command.

“He’s coming over to fix it.”

“I don’t know why you keep asking Bob to fix stuff all the time for!” He was getting irritated, but I also knew the irritation was mostly due to the same issues I have come across since my stroke. He isn’t as able-bodied as he used to be and has relied more and more on other people to do what used to be a no-brainer to fix.

“Because I can’t afford no plumber to come and fix it,” she replied with impatience as she put on her coat. “You want to come too Jerry?”

“No, I think I’ll stay here and visit with Uncle Hal,” I told her. She nodded.

“I’m going to get a part for that toilet. I think Carol is going to come and pick you up here in a little bit.”

“Oh, okay Sister. I’ll see you soon then.”

After she left Ron went back to the bathroom to use the toilet again. He came back out a few minutes later and told me, “I think I messed up. See?”

He pointed at his crotch, and I honestly didn’t see anything. “What am I looking at?”

He then showed Hal. “Dammit did you piss on the floor?”

“No Dad, but I think I missed.”

Hal abruptly got up from his chair and disappeared into the garage, returning with a mop bucket and mop. He went directly into the bathroom where he assumed there was a urine mess. He came back a minute later. “What the hell are you talking about? There ain’t no mess in there!”

“No, but I got some on my pants here, see?” Ron continued showing us the seam of his zippered crotch.

“Well, if you would just get yourself bigger pants like I had to do, then you wouldn’t make those messes. I done threw away my Levis years ago because there were too tight and I was having similar issues,” Hal explained to Ron.

Just then there was a knocking at the door and Hal, who was nearest went to answer it. A moment later a bearded man came in followed by a short auburn haired skinny woman with wrinkles on her face. She gave me that aw-chucks smile that she immediately recognized me from over forty years ago. “You look almost exactly like you used to!” She announced and ran over to where I was sitting.

If it weren’t for Ron saying, “Hey there Tammy,” I still wouldn’t had the foggiest idea who she was,

“Saundra went to get something at Lowes. I don’t know why she insisted on asking you to do this,” Hal told Bob as he looked at me getting up from the couch and hugging Tammy, his wife. I’m sure I looked confused.

“I’m sure you thought ‘who’s this crazy old woman?’ But it’s me your cousin Tammy.” She smiled broadly at me as she looked me up and down, obviously noticing the limped leg and the partially raised left arm.

“I’ll go in and check it out,” Bob announced. I followed Tammy into the kitchen and we talked over a bunch of subjects including my failing marriage to my wife, exchanging pictures on our cell phones and what we’ve done with ourselves since we last seen each other back in 1978.

Saundra arrived with the replacement valve and Bob installed it, while Ron complained he needed to go to the bathroom again. Hal watched his Westerns on the True Grit channel and I listened to Tammy talking about her children, one who lives in Moscow, Idaho with his wife and two kids, and the other who lives in Pocatello, Idaho with her husband. “They both swore up and down they weren’t gonna live in Oklahoma for as long as they lived. So far, they’ve lived up to that promise,” she informed me with a wistful expression.

After about an hour, the toilet was fixed. Carol apparently called Saundra asking her to drop Ron off at his house since she was still at work. She put Ron’s jacket back on him and they left back to his place. Tammy finally introduced me to Bob, her husband and I shook his hand. Finally, it was time for them to leave and we exchanged hugs again. They went out the front door just as Saundra came back from dropping off Ron.

She asked me if I were hungry. “No, I’m still full from lunch,” I replied. Hal moved into the kitchen where he fixed himself some soup and a sandwich. I noticed the time on the wall clock showed after seven. She told me earlier it was Hal’s usual dinner schedule. She fixed herself a salad. I continued reading that Kindle book I had trouble with.

I kept my watch set on Pacific time just so my biological clock wouldn’t be messed up. At this point it was just after five my time and like I mentioned we ate that lunch at the Sonic drive-in. Tomorrow we were planning on going to the National Memorial Museum after she got back from church.

Oklahoma Or Bust

Back in December I searched the web, trolling over possible deals and went to the Delta Airlines site and out of an abundance of curiosity, looked up round trip ticket prices to Oklahoma. I have an Uncle and three cousins who live there. To my amazement it was nearly as expensive a proposition as I feared. As a matter of fact it was quite reasonable to fly. Of course, it was in economy class and lacked the amenities of first class, but it was reasonable and to me that’s all that matters. 

My uncle’s birthday falls on February 14th, and I thought a nice and pleasant surprise for him if I came and wished him a happy birthday in person. As I mentioned to my other friends, he was the only member on my mom’s side of the family that ever bothered to send me birthday or Christmas greetings. That’s out of five surviving brothers and two surviving sisters, though one is presently in a nursing home for people with dementia. I emailed my cousin that I’d like to come. She said, “Come on down!” 

The Trip 
Airline travel is so convenient these days, though I still had this apprehension, dread or phobia that I guess is in the back of all our minds. After all, we aren’t biologically supposed to leave the earth and experience something totally different such as flying.

I packed my bags Friday afternoon and my grandson dropped me off at three for the 5:37pm flight out of Spokane. Since 9-11 we all have to go through the TSA pre-flight screening, getting our carryon bag checked, getting our persons pated and screened. Most had to remove their shoes though I didn’t, and my hands were tested. 

After the screening I went to an open area. I saw the boarding area and figured I’d wait just down from there expecting to be Johnny on the spot when it came time for the announcement to broadcast over the PA that the flight was ready for me. 

I wrote in my lap top my upcoming blog and waited for the announcement. At 5:27 I heard, “Jerry Schellhammer if you are still planning to leave, your flight is waiting for you.” 

“Crap,” I exclaimed as I rushed to put everything back in my laptop case,  I walked with a purpose with the gate which naturally was the last gate, waling a good quarter of a mile to board my plane. “Better late than never I told the boarding agent.” She greeted me with a friendly smile.  

“Do you need assistance getting on?” She asked as she scanned my ticket. 

“No, I think I can make okay,” I said, smiling back at her as I walked quickly down the boarding ramp and onboard the plane. I chose the last seat on the port side. An attractive 30 something woman with chestnut hair sat on the outside of the seat. I was on the window seat, and we smiled at each other as she moved out of my way and I maneuvered myself into the desired seat. It wasn’t an easy feat, but I accomplished it and relaxed as I the middle-aged stewardess asked me if I needed help fastening my safety belt. 

“No I’m fine,” I told her, not realizing how long ago since I last flew.  My left hand and arm didn’t function as it used to. I was having issues but rather than ask my partner for help I made my adjustments and finally figured it out. 

“Where are you going?” She asked me, imagining I’m this world traveler off to another adventure in some exotic paradise. 

“Oklahoma City,” I replied. 

“So am I,” she exclaimed with irony in her voice. 

“Yeah, I’m going to visit my uncle for his eighty-ninth birthday on Tuesday.” 

“Oh, that is so sweet.” She settled into her seat and pulled out her cellphone. I looked out the window and saw the flight crew outside finishing up and the ground-guide holding his red lanterns up and the plane slowly backing away from the loading zone. 

I observed the scenery, the tarmac, and the taxiway and finally the runway itself when the pilot hit the afterburners and it took off, ascending and lifting off the ground, feeling the g-force suck me into my seat, lifting vertically at a forty-five degree angle and then the pilot banked left. 

I watched the city lights reverted smaller and smaller, fading away and other smaller town appeared and disappeared as the plane and me and the passengers were in our own world. I relaxed and pulled from my laptop case my dinner of two sandwiches: tuna and cheese, trail mix and a granola bar. I ate relishing the meal while seeing my companion. She appeared to be reading seeming in her cellphone. I remembered to get out my cell and read a kindle book I’ve been reading lately.  

After I finished a majority of my meal, I did just that and continued reading the e-Book from where I left off on Monday after my last work break. Most books I’ve read were for the most part well written, but lately I’ve come across and this one is the worse of them all. I realized how badly written this book was when the author stated the cars they were looking for was a 70s model Ford Fairlane and a 70s model Ford Polara. Ford stopped making Fairlanes in 1970 and Dodge made Polara. Every since I’ve had my doubts of this writer’s authenticity. 

After an hour I heard the chiming that the plane was readying to land at Salt Lake City. I observed the city lights below of Provo and then the bigger metropolis that is Salt Lake. I braced for impact, but the pilot landed the plane without incident. After getting off the plane a Delta agent asked if I needed assistance going to my next boarding area. She had a wheelchair. 

“No, I’m fine,” I replied. Upon hindsight I should have taken her up on her offer. I didn’t realize how far I actually had to walk down this long aisle to the next boarding ramp. I didn’t realize how big this airport was. Thankfully I didn’t have to lug my suitcase too. It was being safely and hopefully, with care taken to the next plane bound for my destination. The boarding zone that read Oklahoma City was way, way down there at least half a mile away. I also mistook the seating assignment for the boarding zone and found myself at the flight bound for Philadelphia. I quickly realized my error and soon found the placard that stated Oklahoma City.  

I just made it when I saw I could’ve very well missed that flight had I stuck around that Philadelphia boarding zone an extra five minutes. I made it to my seat and sat down. This time I didn’t have anyone sitting next to me. I didn’t see that one lady who I sat with from Spokane. I figured she was somewhere on this plane, and didn’t concern myself about her again. Afterall, I’m still a married man for the time being. 

Like earlier I watched the goings-on outside admiring how the flight crew worked. Thirty years ago I could have done that I suppose but chose another career path instead. We departed Salt Lake City and watched the flight attendants demonstrate how to properly fasten the seat belts and the place the oxygen masks over our faces in the unlikely event of sudden cabin pressure loss. 

I opened my story from the Kindle and continued reading this lame excuse for a book. To my chagrin, I wasn’t even a quarter way through this and I had already loss interest in how this book was going to end. I now began admiring reviewers who had the patience and perseverance to keep reading a badly written book. I hoped my stories I’ve written didn’t come off like this. 

Three hours later we landed in Oklahoma City. At night it appeared as flat and unwelcoming as it might appear had it been day. I didn’t notice the city’s skyline because I was on the wrong side of the aircraft and the Oklahoma City Airport, named after Will Rogers, was still a good ten miles away. 

I felt the plane land with a bit of a jarring and sudden stopping. It then taxied to a stop in front of the loading gate, and we all deplaned. The woman who I sat next to walked passed me and told me to enjoy my stay here. 

“Thanks, you too,” I called back to her and I continued to where the baggage claim was, down stairs and near the Delta terminal entrance. I had to take my phone off airplane mode and use the restroom before going to look for my cousin. When I finished I walked outside trying to see if I could spot her car. Of course I had no idea what she drove. I just assumed, like in the movies she would hold a handwritten sign with my name on it. I tried calling her but it went to voicemail. I became nervous. I then called the house phone, but it too went to voicemail. Now I became worried and nervous. Then my phone rang, and it was her. 

“Where are you?” She asked in her Oklahoma drawl. 

“I’m sitting in a chair waiting for you. Where are you at?” 

“I’m in front of the Delta terminal. I have a blue Hyundai Sonata.” 

Delta? I thought I was in the Delta. I looked around and realized I was in a generalized waiting area and went outside, looking both ways. I then saw the car in question. “Oh okay, I see you now.” I thought of waiting for her to come back around to pick me up but decided to just meet her at the car. Naturally, I assumed she came here alone. Imagine my surprise after loading the suitcase into her trunk that an old man was sitting in the front seat looking at me with a curious expression on his weathered face. 

I placed myself in the back behind Uncle Hal. He wore a tan jacket and black Veteran’s ball cap. “Hey there Uncle, I didn’t expect to see you.” 

“Jerry, he can’t hear you,” Cousin Saundra told me as she got behind the wheel and placed the car into drive. She pulled away and I saw on the digital clock on the infotainment screen it was after one in the morning. 

“How was the flight?” Uncle Hal asked. His southern accent is more Texan than Oklahoman, though it’s hard to distinguish the two with an untrained ear. 

“Great, sir,” I told him louder and clearer than earlier. I noticed his hearing aids on each ear for the first time. He was in artillery and served in Korea, Germany and Vietnam, among others for over twenty years before retiring. Obviously, his hearing was the first c casualty of his service. Saundra drove me to a hotel in Moore, explaining she still wasn’t quite ready for me just yet. 

I didn’t comment on that figuring she had her reasons and left it at that. I didn’t care at that point since it was past my bedtime and I had one thing in mind to do when I opened that room door, undress and go to bed. Tomorrow was a new day. 

The Party 

Last weekend my stepdaughter invited me to a gender reveal party. The idea behind this was to relieve undo stress on her friends on what to get her for her baby shower. I guess now that the ultrasound they have nowadays are so advanced the gender of the unborn is guaranteed. 

At any rate I went to the party after getting home from work. As many of you my loyal readers know my stepdaughter, her husband and children live on the same five-acre parcel of land with a double wide mobile home as I do. I live in a fifth wheel trailer about two feet to the left of the said mobile home.

I actually looked forward to this because I was hopeful for a little girl so she could have an additional girl making it slightly more even, considering there are three boys and one girl already.  I don’t know how many Emily, my stepdaughter invited but the house filled up after about two hours. It appeared we had more people than places for them to park. The property has a long and narrow one lane path that reaches the barn and the garage/shop for Nick, her husband buying, refurbishing, and reselling used cars. uses for his business. It’s not tree lined but rather a barb wire fence in need of restringing and tightening runs along the straight and narrow drive. There are a number of stumps that hide themselves nicely in the still abundant snow pack that has laid on the ground these past three months now. 

You can imagine what occurred next, since I pretty much set up the scene. The driveway had filled up nicely, along with the opened area where we maneuver our vehicles to go underneath a carport where they’re already parked. Naturally, the last person who showed up in her Toyota Highlander got herself high centered over a stump as she tried valiantly to park her SUV. 

All the virile, young, and able-bodied men showed their daring-do by going outside and chivalrously dislodge her car and set it gently down next to the stump. Ironically enough, she told the stepdaughter she only came to drop off something because she had another engagement to go to. 

The food was brought out. It was a pot-luck affair where everyone, cognizant of possible food allergies prepared an assortment of dishes using a variety of recipes, without peanuts, gluten free, or vegan, using almonds and cashews for protein. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the creativity these dishes were inspired. They all tasted good, and I didn’t feel I missed anything with these alternative meals. After everyone ate we were treated with desserts of pies and blue and pink cupcakes Emily created using gluten free flour, I don’t rightly recall its name. I had a slice of the peach crème pie that I bought for this occasion. The other one I bought was an apple. I thought for sure the apple would be gone in no time. No that wasn’t touched. Instead, the peach crème pie was the first casualty. 

The moment of truth arrived as Nic was instructed to sit in the center of the room and await a gift that he was to open, that would reveal the baby’s gender in the form of its sleepwear. 

We all waited. I stood near the living room next to the dining area where all the food was displayed. He tore at the wrapping and revealed, after tumultuous drum roll, hands on padded seat or sofa cushion. The sleepwear was revealed in the form of jammies with feet and in the color of blue in case there was no doubt with little toy aero planes flying about the sky. I supposed the blue was the sky, though it seemed more a darker Navy than robin’s egg blue. 

There was a split second of silence followed by a communal “Aww!” Then a combination of whoopin, hollering and cheering.  Nic sat there gathering it all in. A sense of deep emotion affected him as he buried his face into the PJs and wept. His stepson Isaac came over and hugged on him. The stepdaughter Makayla videoed this on Facebook, for all the friends who didn’t make it an opportunity to witness this moment too appeared joyful. Emily smiled broadly, and the other two boys appeared taken with the emotion of the moment with their festive whooping and giving some high fives. 

After about three or four minutes the place settled down and Nic announce, “My Spirit gave me a name, but all of the girl names I suggested, were not cutting it. I then knew I was blessed with a boy and now here is the proof.” He pulled the latest ultra-sound photo of the fetus and sure enough there was a boy’s little penis there between his little thighs. “I’m naming him Ethan James.” 

“That’s a great name,” Many in the room announced in agreement. Everyone slowly threw on their shoes and coats and maneuvered themselves so others would leave. I ate another slice of pie while I watched the goings on of people leaving and others saying their goodbyes to the hosts. I finished my last bite and told Emily I’d see them in the morning before going to work. 

She smiled at me. “Maybe Nic, I’ll be in bed sleeping. Thanks for showing up.” 

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” I replied as I pulled on my boots and winter jacket. I went outside and descended the steps with the help of someone’s hand on my left elbow as I grasped the fast filling up garbage container with my right hand. I maneuvered around him and walked slowly to my fifth wheel trailer, the hopeful pink rubber band still wrapped around my black coffee mug. I was so hoping for another girl for Emily and Makayla to play dress up and teach her to become a lady. 

Lessons From Martin Luther King

It isn’t the most eloquent quote he made in his short life on this planet, but I think it is quite fitting.

After all, a man or woman can’t react unless their blood is stirred into a passion for change.

When I wrote A Man’s Passion, it was a reaction I felt upon seeing the images displayed at the Peace and Justice Museum after watching the 60 Minutes episode highlighting its true intent. There are equally more invaluable quotes made from equally wise men, such as “Those who don’t learn from the lessons of History are doomed to repeat it.” Or my favorite, “Judge Not, less you be judged.

I’m sure many of us had hoped the lessons of Martin Luther King would have shined like a beacon of luminescent brilliance on our collective soul, just as those wonderful quotes from Jesus and Aristotle. But alas those truths rarely reveal themselves except once or twice a year, then only in times like this one when we honor this man’s greatness.

I found these great inspiring quotes from the internet. They are nuggets of truth, written and orated in a turbulent time by a man who, like Jesus, died too soon. It is what I consider our greatest irony of humanity that the good and great die off first, while the truly vile live to see the fruits of their corruption, greed and hatred go to seed to be harvested over and over again.

Much of what I write is based on my belief of whatever I feel is wrong with the way I view the world. I want to see humanity at its greatest, yet while many things have changed but many other has not, such as an impermeable passion for hatred and intolerance. It crosses every socio-economic class. It tears at the very fabric of our democracy and sense of decency. I pray for understanding in this time as we celebrate the greatness of Martin Luther King.

Review of A Man’s Passion

My loyal readers I have just received my first official review of my book, A Man’s Passion.

Unfortunately, I had to pay  marketing company, TMW (The Moving Word) for the honor but if it generates added sells than it is well worth it. A video, courtesy of another marketing company doing an ad of my book is also coming out soon and that will be through Dropbox, which I guess is something like You Tube. And finally, my interview I had last month is also available through You Tube.

At any rate I hope all is well with my loyal readers and if you read my last two blog posts, thanks, but if you hadn’t, please do, it is a haunting narrative called Night Fears.

The You Tube Interview

It was a bit more than I anticipated. I actually thought this was going to be a radio interview, but as you my loyal readers will see, it was a You tube video and radio interview.

For those of you who have read my book and wish to see me write more thought provoking literature, have your friends watch the video that is about A Man’s Passion.

It is a marketing tool and I think it came off okay. I do get very emotional because, well that’s my baby that I’m talking so proudly about. I put a lot into the story and if I got caught in the moment, then so be it. Like I stated in the interview I carry my emotions on my sleeve.

As I have said to many of you, I am in this not just because I have something important to tell the world, but I also wish to make money doing this so I won’t still be cleaning toilets and mopping floors well into my eighties. It is my hope I can get many more people to watch this interview interested enough to buy and read this book.

The trailer, which I presume will air on You Tube as well, will be out later either this month, May or next. It’s still in production as I write this blog.

Out With the Old

The news was good. The person allegedly responsible for the quadruple homicide of the University of Idaho college students was found in Pennsylvania at his parents’ house. This person was a post graduate student working on his doctorate in Criminal Justice at Washington State University.

At his point everything is based on whatever evidence was recovered that day the four young adults were found, is sealed until he is extradited back to Idaho.

It is hoped that if this is the person responsible, he will be found guilty of murder and justice will prevail. There was a news conference held Friday informing us the public at large that a man by the name of Bryan Christopher Kohberger was arrested for the homicides of November 13th.

Which brings me to the other news I wish to share with my loyal readers. As the old cliché often and truthfully conveys, “truth often is stranger than fiction.” The story also affected me in most extraordinary ways. Moscow, Idaho is only eight miles away from Pullman where I went to college back in the eighties. I went ahead, shelved the Mobley story and began a new story based in part with those murders.

Rather than Moscow, the murderer in this story resides in Bozeman, Montana, home of the Montana State Bobcats and Chrystal Gilderbund’s alma mater. Unlike my killer though, Kohberger allegedly has no motive for killing those students. One has to wonder what is in that sealed affidavit, awaiting the arrested man’s appearance when he is extradited back to Moscow.

Christmas Wishes

Hello everyone. I hope everyone of you, my loyal readers enjoyed the story I wrote for you. I’m wishing everyone my best Christmas wishes and a Happy New Year.

A lot of things happened while I sent you, my story. On November 21st I celebrated twenty years of sobriety, a personal milestone I will always cherished.

I understand there a was election that didn’t go as predicted by a former president and the rest of the Republican Party. I’m not gloating but knew so long as that person continues to run his mouth about election fraud and the 2020 election being stolen, the GOP will suffer.

The great Russian invasion has floundered, and eligible Russian men are leaving in droves while Putin still can’t figure out why his great Russian Army is losing. I know why, he has no strong NCO corps to inspire his troops. Officers alone cannot do it. Their corporals and sergeants are needed to lead the troops into battle, not front-line officers.

Of course, as in every year we all must say goodbye to those we loved, respected, and admired. Now I can’t remember off the top of my head what personalities we’ve seen go but understand they will be sorely missed.

I’m going to see my sister in Bend, Oregon for Christmas, leaving early Friday morning, hoping no major weather issues affect my travels. Sorry Cathy, next year for sure in Burley.

So, there you have it, what I missed telling you the time I was in hiatus, in a manner of speaking. My next blog will undoubtedly be after the new year. Enjoy and good tidings to all.

Boomer Ang: Part 7

“What is he doing here?” Julio Rodrigues demanded as Chief led me into the in-tar-o- gation room. It appeared like the other rooms with a table and chairs with one handcuff tightened over Julio Rodrigues’ good hand. His other hand, the one I bit and crushed, is all bandaged up. “I’m gonna sue the department for allowing that vicious animal to attack me. You broke my hand!” He pointed his bandaged hand and one of his fingers at me.

“Grrr, Ruff!” I replied with equal malice. I’m not done with you yet. I still want so much to squeeze my teeth into your throat and taste the blood pouring out as I break your neck.

“Down, Boomer, go lay down there,” Chief ordered me. I went to the corner and laid down. Chief sat on a chair; another man sat on another chair across from Julio Rodrigues. He was there when we arrived. He opened a folder and whistled loudly as if he was amazed at something inside.

“Mr. Rodrigues, you should be in prison with all of these crimes you have on here,” the man said. I began cleaning myself. “We are here to rectify that issue tonight, Mr. Rodrigues. I am Detective Norris. I’m taking over for Detective Mike Flowers. Before I begin questioning you I am required to read you your Miranda Rights. Mr. Rodrigues you are being charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder on a law enforcement officer.

“Mr. Rodrigues you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be held against you in the court. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney one will be given to you at no cost.

“Do you understand your rights, Mr. Rodrigues?” “Yeah and I want an attorney too. He’s Robert Proctor.”

“Oh, so you are in high cotton aren’t you?” Chief asked. I look up at Chief and wonder why he said something so odd. My ears perked up with curiosity.

“He’s my old man’s lawyer!”

“Here’s my cell phone. Go ahead and call Mr. Proctor. Chief looked at his wrist watch. I can’t tell time but figured as dark as it is, this Mr. Proctor was probably in bed asleep.

Julio Rodrigues grabbed the phone with his cuffed hand, then glared at the two. “I need to dial his number and some privacy, please?”

Chief used his key to uncuff the shackle and both men left the room. He punched the phone with his good hand. “It’s me, Julio. I got arrested. Murder but it ain’t gonna stick.

Anyway, I need you down at the Gooding Police Station. They want to question me about me killing Ang and Wintersong.

“Tell them, I’ll plead guilty to hurting that cop tonight. My shotgun accidentally discharged while I was hiding in the closet. Because I had just shot Wintersong. It was self- defense. He came after me with a gun at my old man’s place in Jerome.

“The other one? Oh, Bob Ang. That was pay back for that car accident three years ago. I don’t care if it was an accident. He screwed up my leg and killed my mom. He had to pay. He was drunk or high. He got arrested for it and went to jail which wasn’t nearly long enough.”

There was silence on his end, while I heard the man talking on the other end tell him, “Don’t say anything. I will be there in half an hour, Julio.”

I look up at him as he put his phone back on the table. He stared at me as if realizing I never left. I growled back at him in warning. He seemed prepared to do something; making up his mind between evil and good when the door opened and Chief and the other detective came inside.

“It’s time to process you, Mr. Rodrigues,” Chief told him. I went to him and licked his hand; thankful he came in just as he did.

“Fine,” he snapped angrily. “I’ll be out on bail soon enough.”

“That’s unlikely unless Grandpa Julio has mighty deep pockets,” the detective said. “We picked up your accomplice on a traffic stop using that same Honda Civic used in shooting Mr. Ang. He just now confessed that he drove you to that house and shot him. So, we have you for the murder of Robert Ang as well as the shooting tonight and the attempted murder on Detective Mike. At this point we don’t care what excuse for an alibi you have, Mr. Rodrigues. After the trial you will spend the rest of your life in an Idaho corrections facility.”

“My lawyer will…”

“Your lawyer will try and plea bargain on your behalf, is all you can expect,” Chief replied. “At this point we don’t need a statement from you at all. I’m sure your lawyer already suggested you not answer any questions until he shows up.”

“Was that dog bugged? Were you listening to our phone call? That’s illegal, you know.”

“Not at all, Mr. Rodrigues. I have been in law enforcement over twenty years and know the drill quite well,” Chief replied. “There is nothing new here. Tomorrow morning when you go to your first pretrial hearing the judge will ask for a plea and your lawyer will undoubtedly reply not guilty and then ask for some ridiculous sum for bail. Then you will get your first taste of incarceration because I would imagine our judge here will not give you bail or the amount will be beyond your ability to come up with the sum reasonable for a bail bondsman to take.”

I look at Julio Rodrigues. He snarled at Chief but said nothing. They stare at each other an awfully long time. Then all three got up from the table and walked to the door. I follow them out and then go into the breakroom where I flop myself on a soft cushioned couch and close my eyes.