The small boy was on red alert. He smelled the peculiar smoke coming from the bathroom where his mom kept a little pipe above the medicine cabinet.
He never knew how long it would last, but he did know it meant trouble. It was always the same, but always different.
He looked for food. There were no crackers or candy under her bed where she hid it, but he found a can of beans in the pantry. He desperately tried to open it before she got out of the bathroom, but his little fingers couldn’t manage to get the manual can opener to work.
He didn’t hear her coming out. It was too late by the time he did. Angry, she shoved him to the ground and threw the can of beans striking him squarely in his chest.
As he shrunk toward the door, grabbing the can in a frantic backward crawl, she lunged toward him, grabbing, jerking his skinny, little body across the floor. He was terrified. The kind afraid where you can’t breathe, can’t move, can’t cry. The kind where every second felt like a year. Continue reading Somewhere Near You
I saw a co-worker and his wife in a social setting. The man turned to his wife, “Tell Jeff the story you told me.”
Her face lit up as if she remembered something important. She began a story from the high school cafeteria where my kids went.
She told me about a young man who doesn’t “fit in”. She said the student being picked on wasn’t popular, struggles in school, and in all reality, is not very socially skilled. By all accounts, he’s a little odd. Add it up, and he’s an easy target.
The young man’s primary defense mechanism is to blend in like a social chameleon, then avoid others. That’s impossible during school days when he would unwilling become the center of attention. He’d shrink alone, virtually defenseless, and silently absorb any words, jokes or laughter directed his way. Continue reading The Other Table
We sat in assigned seats. She sat next to me. I didn’t understand why she would keep her arms crossed, as if holding herself, and rock back and forth while looking down at her desk or staring at the blackboard. Back and forth she rocked, back and forth.
We were in second grade. I understand child abuse now, but then, I didn’t even know what it was.
Looking back, she did. Continue reading Maybe For One
I like broken people, the ones whose frames are scratched, dented and their corners don’t match up well. I like people who have discolored pictures, broken glass, torn canvases. Somehow troubles, pain, turmoil, and suffering tends to create genuineness.
There’s something about pain and trouble that acts like a cleansing fire burning out the impurities of life. Those who emerge from hard times are tempered, refined, and often, real. It’s not that anyone wants a broken frame or cracked glass, but life breaks and shatters us anyway. Continue reading Broken Picture Frames
She has road rage. She laid on her horn while passing my truck near the University. I looked beside me and there she was, driving a little blue car yelling at me like a demon possessed llama with rabies. Reading lips isn’t my forte, but she wasn’t blessing me.
I quickly thought back. I’d been driving in the same lane for half a mile, going the speed limit, and hadn’t run a red light or anything else to tick her off. Yet here she was at the red light, saluting me with one finger, with no idea why.
She zoomed by going faster than a NASCAR speed limit while she hugged the center line like she was tight roping across the Grand Canyon.
Oh well. I kept driving. Continue reading Road Rage