Tag Archives: New York

Delilahs vampires.

Authors Note: I watched “Interview with a vampire” a few weeks ago and decided to write my own vampire thriller, due to its length, I’ve decided to break it up into two or three parts. This is part one and was written entirely on my phone because my computer is no longer working. The second part will be published sometime this week. I hope you enjoy, feel free to leave some commentary! Music to read by: “Voodoo” Godsmack.  

Rain fell in a hostile sweeping motion, causing the frightened stranger to seek shelter underneath a rickety lean-to left over by some previous nomad. Thunder rumbled and followed streams of lightning across the midnight sky. Ominous clouds engulfed the heavens, leaving the moon stranded somewhere in the atmosphere without a chance to comfort his weary soul. It was a cold rain and it soaked into his thick, unforgiving skin. His body ached in remembrance of his king sized mattress and his spine was erect from both fear and dismay.

Howling erupted from somewhere he could not see, his eyes opened wider and his ears moved to the haunting sound of wild animals lurking in the background. The thought of being eaten alive by carnivores with ferocious, razor-sharp teeth made him yelp aloud. He smacked his hand over his mouth and tried hard not to scream for fear of summoning the wicked creatures closer to his shelter.

It was a cold rain and it was an eerie, horrible night to be stranded in the woods. The wind played the tall pine trees like a harpist stroking the strings of his beloved instrument. But this was not a peaceful, relaxing tune. The world around him echoed and cried and he remembered the old Irish folklore about banshee’s ascending from hell in order to warn of impending doom. The storm was ruthless, leaving nothing exempt from its unstoppable power.

He cursed underneath his breath and swore to kill someone at the car rental agency. They promised “great cars at affordable prices”. But they had given him a lemon on four wheels and it had broken down a few hours after leaving the lot. The family had untold millions and access to whatever they wanted, but since he was yet to be “made”, he was on his own as far as comfort was concerned.

When the howling commenced for a second time, he pictured flesh being torn from his bones and wolves dragging him into their cave as they feasted on his scrawny frame without a second thought.

He was a wolf. A predator that stalked the streets in search of easy targets. The organ pumping blood into his veins was rock solid and filled with a murderous agenda and an appetite for everything unholy. Like the animals that stalked the dark forest surrounding him, the eyes in his sockets were empty, void of life and only satisfied when the scent of prey drew near. The family had sent him on a mission, if successfully accomplished, he would finally earn his stripes and receive the respect he deserved.

The target was a former Capo turned FBI informant who fled Chicago several months earlier and had been located deep in the Adirondack mountains in New York. It was an easy job and he didn’t mind getting his hands dirty because the rewards were worth it. But things had turned south quickly. He wasn’t in New York for more than a few hours before his car died in the middle of nowhere. The dirt road leading to his destination was a swamp, the rain and fog was too thick, and once the engine began to stutter and stammer and give in, he decided to abandon the small hatchback to its fate. With the hope of finding a nearby town, he began to hoof it.

Mother Nature had other plans as it bore down its wrath upon him. When he came across the lean-to, his boots were saturated and his mind played terrible tricks. Doubt crept up his legs and overtook his senses. Exhaustion, fear and respite from the rain took its toll and he began to drift off into sleeps soothing release.

By the time he came to, the monsoon had dwindled into a friendly drizzle and the morning sun was rising somewhere he could not identify. The world was hidden under mist, he stepped back onto the road and attempted to gain his bearings but it was to no avail. The howling had ceased and he hoped the animals had moved deeper into the vast territory and found another target to spy on.

The silence was deadly and it began to haunt him. No cars, no humans, no fast food. Just a jungle of nothingness and a date to keep with a former mobster. He was very punctual when it came business and he hated to disappoint the family. This was his opportunity, nothing would come between it.

An hour into his nature hike brought little in the way of civilization. The mud roads turned into sloppy pavement, he thanked the gods for this as walking became less of a burden. He was drenched. His new boots ruined, his cell phone was waterlogged and the anger, that terrible, piercing anger was slowly pushing his patience further into oblivion.

Then he heard the sound of hoof beats echoing through the air. Turning around, his ears tried to pinpoint the exact location and a spring of hope began to materialize in his mind. He stood very still while the noise grew closer and closer.

“That’s a fucking horse, it’s gotta be.”

Through the ghostly fog a giant beast began to come into view. It was pulling a small cart  and its driver was shrouded in a heavy cloak. The horse was jet black with ripped muscles and long snout that undoubtedly exhaled fire and brimstone as it tore into the ground that it trampled.

He stood on the shoulder and waited for the caravan to come to a halt. As it drew nearer,  all he could distinguish was the old person holding the reins. Its head was bent low and hidden by a hood. Grey, stringy hair flowed from underneath, its hands were ancient but in control of the monster that pulled it. The person underneath the cloak appeared thin, and a large wooden box sat unmolested in the rear cargo bay. A familiar chill ran up the young mans spine as the sinister apparition came to a stop ten yards away from him.

The horse and driver remained quiet. Not a breath could be heard, nothing moved. The fog seemed to grow thicker as the seconds ticked.

“Hello there. My car broke down about ten miles south of here, do you know if there’s a town close by with a payphone?” The murderer attempted to communicate with the odd human in front of him.

“This is private land, why have you trespassed? This is not a place for hitchhiker’s.” Came a raspy, emotionless reply.

“Like I said, my car broke down. I don’t see any trespassing signs, and this is a public road is it not?”

He deduced it was the voice of an old woman. Knowing what was at stake, he was prepared to take the necessary steps to keep things from getting out of hand.

“Who are you and why have you come? These woods are not to be trifled with. I can assure you there are things here that go bump in the night. Take heed of my warnings child, turn away now, go back to where you came from.”

With that warning she made a strange clicking sound and the horse began to move once more. His blood pressure started rising as he stepped closer to the buggy.

“Take it easy, I’m stranded in the middle of nowhere, can you at least give me a lift? I have money.”

A gut wrenching screech emerged from the driver seat as she laughed at his proclamation. This caused his belly to flip with unease, his anger, that devilish anger, was giving him bad thoughts about the old coot staying warm under her wool overcoat.

“I don’t know what’s so funny but-”

“Money! Alright young man, I shall give you sanctuary if you are in dire straights. I hate to see you end up like so many other hitchhiker’s who dare venture out here alone. You are brave aren’t you? Yes very brave indeed. Come, come up here and join me.” With a wave of her bony hand, she beckoned him.

He had yet to see her face, it was still hidden underneath her hood. He stood a moment and contemplated the offer.

“What is your name woman? And before I climb aboard your ship, I want to see your face. I don’t normally ride with strangers, but these fucking woods are creepy as hell and my legs are tired.”

“You wish to see my face? Very well, my name is Delilah and these are my woods. I don’t get many visitors, it could be nice to have supper with such a strapping young man.”

Delilah slowly put the reigns down and grabbed the rim of her hood gently and pulled it back. To his surprise, her skin was soft as porcelain, her grey hair now shone with a beauty he didn’t recognize earlier. Even her hands seemed less wrinkled.

But her eyes were solid white. No pupils.

The man standing in the muddy road gasped and looked away.

“I know what you’re thinking boy. I was born blind and my eyes are sensitive to light.”

Usually one to make quick decisions, he found himself at a loss and wasn’t sure if he should get on board with a woman who at one moment appeared to be ninety years old and the next, thirty. But he had people waiting for him to complete a task. He needed to get to a town fast, he chalked it up to exhaustion and a terrible night in the woods.

“Are you coming or not? I have no qualms about leaving you here to fend for yourself. This road is seldom traveled, you’re lucky I stopped. But alas, these woods are alive and to leave you alone would be akin to manslaughter.”

“How did you know I was standing here? If you’re blind, how did you see me?”

“I see many things. One needs only intuition, and a loyal horse.” She answered softly as she cooed at the animal.

He found himself attracted to her. A sudden rush of punch-drunk emotions left his guard weakened. He stepped carefully across the broken down road and stopped to admire the beautiful stallion and its flowing ebony mane.

“Are you a gypsy?”

When she laughed she sounded like a young maiden, not like the gaggle of an old dying crow he had thought he heard a minute ago.

“There hasn’t been a gypsy in these lands for a hundred years. I am just a widow, a wanderer who found a piece of earth to settle on. You inquire about much, fear not child. You are in good company, Brutus is a marvelous horse and will not fail to deliver us safely to our destination…I cannot say the same for your automobile.”

He snickered and was obliged to agree with her. He thought about going back to the car and setting it ablaze but lost his train of thought when a flock of ravens flew over his head. They appeared out of nowhere and settled atop a large evergreen, squawking and pecking each other for a better position on the branches.

The woman tilted her head into the air. Her thin, pinkish lips opened slightly. Her face grew tense as if the birds were a bad omen.

“We must leave now, the journey is far and the weather is not on our side. If you wish to come, I suggest getting in. If not, leave now. Go back to where you came from, this is no place for strangers.”

“Why are you frightened? You’re afraid of these woods aren’t you? What did the birds have to say?” He questioned with a laugh.

She ignored his mocking tone and clicked her tongue. Brutus began galloping forward, leaving him on the wayside.

“Hey! Wait for me!” He yelled and ran quickly towards the passenger side of the wagon. In one athletic motion he grabbed hold of the wooden frame and hoisted himself into the seat. The grey haired woman said nothing about his performance and kept her eyes on the rocky trail. The hitman turned around to look down the road and noticed the birds.

They were quiet as they watched the two humans make haste. Their beady eyes were lasers. Their sharp beaks, closed. There were hundreds and they all watched him carefully in deafening silence.

—–To be continued—–

Advertisements

It’s going to huff and puff before you loose electricity.

Hurricane Sandy is barreling down the East coast miles above the churning Atlantic Ocean right now. As you read this paragraph, a monster made of energy and all sorts of ferocious power is rotating in the heavens just waiting to crap down lightning and bullets of water against the inhabitants of this tiny globe. We must have pissed off the atmosphere one too many times and now, after several false alarms, this could be the proverbial mother-of-all storms. I believe the eye of the milky-way shaped natural wonder is hovering near the Carolinas. If you had the guts and, I would assume, supernatural powers to stand near the center of the storm and look up, you would probably see a red-eye full of malice and rage with no other purpose than to terrorize us for intruding its orbit.

Hurricane Sandy 2012

Meteorologists and laymen alike will never fully understand each other. It usually works in our favor to take the advice from the truly informed professionals. As opposed to your average bar room nonsense fabricated by way too much alcohol and a grandiose sense of knowledge. How about the guy standing at the bus stop looking at the clouds? Nine times out of ten he’ll give you his two cents worth. When someone lacks the proper education to give you a lucid and educated guess as to the proper trajectory of a category one hurricane shooting up from the south at a gazillion miles per hour, they will credit their theories on experience from previous storms. This is what I do.

The pros say one thing, our neighbors say something else and when it comes down to it, we fail to concur and wait for them to retract what they’ve told us. When Irene struck in 2011 we were told to shovel holes underground and hide like a pack of groundhogs with all the survival equipment we could strap to our backs. Not much happened. But we comply and prepare because not to do so would be asinine. The wind howls, rain falls, branches topple telephone poles, more huffing and puffing from the galactic phenomenon and boom, the power goes out. Back to the Middle Ages we go!

I am generally concerned about this pre-Halloween trick. When the weather guy on T.V throws his hands in the air repeatedly and when it’s obvious he has no power to force his eyeballs to blink, I guess it would make sense to heed his warning and haul ass. He just told us the subways in NYC will be forced to shut down tonight and the LIRR will be out-of-order, who knows? Maybe the National Guard will come rolling in next.

I like storms though. It has a way of breaking monotony and it makes me believe this is the way earth releases its stress. Through hurricanes and snowstorms and Wizard of Oz style tornadoes, the earth regurgitates its frustration and reminds us the fate of humanity lies within its ability to tolerate us, and we should be happy if it allows us to survive another uppercut from one of its roaming fists made of dark smoke and terrible thunder.

The markets are packed with little old ladies roaming for cheap canned goods, there are parents purchasing milk for screaming brats, single women are stocking up on God knows whatever it is they stock up on, bachelors like myself linger around the snack area trying to figure out if a box of crackers can last us three days and will it go well with my beer. A frantic call over the intercom, someone has slipped in frozen foods, people fight over a leg of lamb, a single roll of toilet paper flies over my head. It’s just your average end of the world crisis being played out in your local food store.

Gas stations are backed up down the road too. It’s amazing how confused the whole parking lot becomes once there’s a threat of a gas shortage. People just sit in their vehicles and stare straight ahead waiting for the guy in front of them to pull out, shake off and put the nozzle back in its place, and that’s not a euphemism.  It’s all good because someone in the Middle East is making money.  More good news for us Americans (um, yes this is dry sarcasm at its best). Some tough guy will get out of his car and yell at the person in front of him for not moving fast enough. I sit and think you can only go as fast as the pump allows you maniac. An old man bangs on his steering wheel; someone else overflows their tank and the flammable substance leaks dangerously all over their pants, but it’s no big deal, it’s just your everyday emergency.

Thankfully it’s an election month so gas prices have dropped considerably in our favor, just in time for the storm of the century.  Yet it doesn’t really matter because the officials have called a state of emergency for most of the coastline. Many people have to evacuate homes and leave their lives in the hands of a terrible situation in which they have no control. Please seek out proper shelter if you have to evacuate. Call your local Red Cross for more information.

This type of storm is a wonderful excuse to break out the survival gear your wife mocks you for owning. Short of a zombie apocalypse, this is the right time to use it.  I keep a bag near my bed and another in my vehicle in case I find myself in a situation where I have to be mobile. I thought about giving you a detailed list of what to keep in a survival kit, but I’m not going to. There are other websites you can visit which will probably be more beneficial to you than mine would. If you’ve been paying attention to this article I just finished telling you I was shopping for crackers and beer a day before a hurricane. All jokes aside, go buy Les Stroud’s book “Survived” and you will find yourself ready to take on anything Mother Nature has to throw at you.


Road Trip: Beyond the sight of man

Rocky Mountains
Golden, Co
Photography by Gabriel

When I wake up in the early morning hours I find myself lost between different lands. Upon opening your eyes, the first thing to hit the center of your pupils are the Rocky Mountains. All you see is darkness at its base, but when you gaze at the multicolored sunrise above the hilly terrain you are hit with a sense of shock at the contrast between earth and sky.

It reminds me of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Long Island. If you get to the beach at sunrise, you will see pitch black waves rocking back and forth with no sense of direction. If you look deep into the horizon and past the breaking point of the waves, reds and oranges welcome another day into existence. The dark water is alive with life and as the sun rises, it makes the liquid seem less ominous. Sometimes you forget the world is circular because at that moment, you are certain the earth stretches east to west for billions of miles, as if running alongside the heavens. A cosmic battle of the ages with no winners, their job is to keep us filled with questions and wonder and mesmerize us by creating natural phenomenons.

Then I moved to the middle of American, where flat land stops abruptly and bows down to majestic mountains. In the morning, dark, rolling hills cut the purple sky in half in these strange, zigzag, up and down patterns which seem to go on forever. Stars still shine and the moon hangs high above the earth in victory and awash in the suns reflection. Every color of the rainbow mixes in with white clouds and all is quiet underneath its banner.

Once I am fully awake I remember where I am and what I’m doing here. Although I don’t understand the why and the when, I feel all these questions will be fulfilled in due time. The place I came from seems to fade away with every sunset, the future, like every sunrise, remains a mystery to my mind and my soul and yet I wait in expectation, hopeful and captivated by the strangeness of it all.

Speaking of strange, two nights ago I checked into a local motel out here in Colorado and found myself caught in a creepy, personal version of Ghost Hunters. Unbeknownst to me, the place had a reputation for being shady and a hangout for various sorts of arch criminals and vagabonds. Not that I have a problem with consorting with different people, I’d rather not stay in a building where shootouts occurred and people died.

Anyway, I rented a room and made my way down the dark corridor with an uneasy feeling in my stomach, this was strike one. Upon entering the pad, I put my stuff down and prepared myself for a shower in a bathroom with a puddle of water sitting in the middle of the floor. Strike two. I spoke comforting words into the mirror, you know, kind of like a pep talk to keep me going. As I stood in the middle of the lavatory in my birthday suit the madness began.

Oh Shit!

An unearthly whisper shot past my ears and the hairs on my neck stood up sending my nerves into a panic overload. At this point I am extremely vulnerable because I had to put on my clothes before running through the walls like some cartoon on steroids. As this was all transpiring, my heart beat a hundred miles an hour and my mind was screaming for me to leave this place of the damned. The evil twin girls from The Shinning flashed in my mind and all I wanted to do was scream. After I managed to throw on my clothes and pick up whatever crap was lying around I made it into the hallway safely without anyone or anything grabbing my shoulder. I would have screamed, my lord I would have screamed!

Point of the story is I managed to get out of there alive and in one piece with a full refund. There is another world beyond the sight of man. Whether you choose to believe is your prerogative, but at that point, in that room, I was not alone. My skin crawled, my lungs filled with fear and my mind played tricks on me. I’ve never had a problem staying in motels before and I have stayed in plenty. I knew I wasn’t losing my mind, when I checked into my beloved Motel 6 an hour later I spoke with the cute lady behind the counter about the haunted motel. My story was confirmed when she explained to me how many people have left that motel in fear.

I’m usually one for exploring the unknown and the eerie, but not then. I want to know what I’m walking into first before signing up to be a Ghostbuster. I think it’s only fair to warn your patrons there are spirits roaming about the halls. If the creepy lady at the front desk would have explainedthis to me I would have been in the mood to deal with the unseen. But, like many of the adventures I’ve had on this trip so far, it makes for good conversation.

Get em’ Ray.

Today is opening day for the NFL and I am sitting here in Starbucks drinking the cheapest coffee a guy can find in this particular establishment. This will be the first time in many, many years I will miss my beloved Jets open up the season and it’s amazing how little I actually care. Priorities can change when you are broke and homeless and on the verge of mental collapse. You see the world differently, you grow up faster, you pray for help and you try to remain strong while you rebuild and regroup and start from absolutely nothing. Like the ghost which haunted me a few nights ago, the unknown is a scary, otherworldly existence I have come to despise.

I don’t have anything else to add except this: Don’t be afraid, the morning light will shine eventually and the darkness cannot stand it. Take it easy.


Dancing in dress pants.

Photography by Gabriel

I watched cigarette smoke ascend above the people sitting at the grass skirted tiki bar. Their mellow chit-chattering floated alongside the visible cloud of death swirling about. When the smoke crossed paths with the neon bar signs, it became even more ominous looking. Violent reds and deep blues gave life to the straw carpet holding up the roof. I sipped my beer and headed for safer territory, you never know when some fool will toss a smoke and boom.

Classic rock poured forth from massive speakers standing erect on a platform about a hundred feet from where I stood. The humidity had dissipated before I arrived leaving the atmosphere ripe with shenanigans and revelry. People danced and stumbled, laughed and whistled. Fake palm trees vibrated due the entire environment around them and swayed in the warm July night.

It was a pleasant evening chock full of really loud conversations with friends and random beautiful women on the prowl. Luckily for them I’m a decent conversationalist. Even if I managed to bore them, I would just ask them to wait a tick while I jotted down something witty on paper. Hopefully keeping their attention long enough before they started looking around, and making up fictitious stories in order to walk away, leaving your heart in a puddle of old beer on the floor.

Actually to tell you the truth, I managed to do what I always do when I go to clubs. Stand around looking cool with my slicked back hair and dress pants, not really knowing what the heck else to do. I suck in my gut and stand there like an idiot in front of beautiful women, bobbing my head back and forth and maneuvering around everyone else. All the while trying not to lose my buddies and offend someone by stepping on their toes in the process.

I very rarely go to clubs (give me a little pub, or a nice restaurant any day of the week. Good food and normal speaking levels.) so please don’t judge. Anyway, it was good times and worth it, even if I felt older than I should have.

On we go.

For those of you who haven’t been following my blog (shame to you!) I am packing up my meager belongings and moving in a few weeks. My destination is far-away and full of mysteries to great for my mind to fully comprehend. Oh, I know where I would like to end up, where I think I am supposed to go, and in all probability will live.

But like many instances in my short life, I will walk with one eye on the pavement and the other looking towards heaven. Hoping the Big Man upstairs really has a plan, because quite frankly, I haven’t the slightest idea of what I am doing.

Le Ninja
mhdezign.com

Please don’t be alarmed. I am prepared for this journey and have been for several weeks now. It wasn’t until I started packing tonight when it hit me full force though. I felt like a ninja threw his fist into my rib cage and then round-housed my face with his tiny foot, sending me into a wild somersault over books and balled up Christmas lights, at which point I cry out like a walrus giving birth. Yes, this is what it will feel like when East meets West in a showdown for the ages.

This is why I had to deal with so much growing up as a kid I think. The war I’ve waged and the battles I’ve fought these past few years have helped me understand the meaning of endurance and the reason for tribulations. One must learn how to serve before they can lead. Who knows? This is all too wonderful for my mind to understand, for my imagination to concoct.

I don’t have much to say tonight. Except this, sometimes God will put His hands together and reach out to split the proverbial storm, to touch us on the shoulder and leave us with moments of pure happiness. This is how my evening ended. This is how I will end this ridiculous post. Until next time my friends, peace.


Bombs bursting in air.

Long Island New York circa 2012
Photography by Gabriel

Next month I am leaving my home to journey across America. I am packing up my minivan and hitting the proverbial road. Words cannot fully describe the multitude of emotions I feel over this quest of mine. It’s hard to believe I’m finally doing it. With nothing but a few bucks in my pocket and some prayers floating around the stratosphere, I am leaving all which is dear to me. I am leaving all that is familiar. I hate to use the caterpillar analogy because it’s a little girly and I don’t want to mention snakes shedding skin because, well, I don’t want to compare myself to a slithering serpent, but I will come out of this trip a new person. Cloaked with vigor, I will make my mark on history. Like fireworks exploding on a warm Fourth of July night, I will break free from my former self and shine brightly among the stars.

I can give you my itinerary, I can point out the special places I want to visit, I can even give you names of the soup kitchens I plan on dining in, but I can only speculate as to where this uncharted road will lead me and how long it will take to write a book about it all. Unfortunately, life never dances to the beat of our drums. We just skip along to whatever track is being played and learn to deal with it. I will play the role of Columbus for a short while. With a pen behind my ear and a compass beside my stale coffee, I will draw squiggly lines to and fro like I know what I’m doing. I will drive in awe of my beautiful country and appreciate the wonderful freedom I usually take for granted.

I wonder what it will be like to stand in the center of Washington D.C and marvel at the architecture. I try to imagine what it will be like to drive through the bowels of the Shenandoah Valley. I can picture the rolling hills giving birth to mountain ranges, which spew forth hot desert sands. Miles of open road slice through the landscape like a tongue from some ancient beast. The monster opens wide his mouth and reveals a great mystery. One I will have to take on headfirst with all my strength, with all my heart. After checking in on Elvis and his Heartland, I will cruise along the open highway with my hand outstretched to catch the wind. I will sing-along with Fleetwood Mac and the ever lovely Stevie Nicks.  Once blood clots begin to form in my legs, I’ll pull over on some deserted highway to take pictures of cacti and the vultures above me.  They will lick their beaks and watch me closely. The birds will be disappointed. I will not fear because I have a slingshot and I’m not afraid to use it.

I wrote the first draft of this article last night around midnight. Now it is early morning on the Fourth of July. I love waking up at seven o’clock on my day off, nothing like sitting around for a few hours waiting for the rest of the world to arise from deep sleep. So, I make the best of it by consuming two bowls of Lucky Charms while walking around the house in my robe pretending to be some rich lord from Ireland fending off wicked little leprechaun’s from stealing my bowl of sugary goodness. Actually I am sitting here trying to come up with something funny, and engaging to keep you guys from leaving my page in search of something better. I wouldn’t blame you because searching is the fundamental nature of our lives. It’s what drives us to wake up each morning and seize the day with tenacity. I guess this is why I have decided to leave.

As I sit here and watch the rain slowly drip from the iron handrail outside, I contemplate the beauty of the Grand Canyon and everything I will discover along the way. People will laugh and call me foolish, and even now there are people standing beside me who have doubted this trip from the start. But I tell you this, we are not all called to do the same thing.  Some cuckoo birds weren’t meant to be caged. I hope all of you enjoy your Independence Day. Long live Liberty! Long live Freedom!

Long Island New York circa 2012
Photography by Gabriel


Triton in the Sky.

Triton in the Sky.

Long Island New York circa 2012
Photography by Gabriel

As the result of unseen cosmic earthquakes beyond the clouded barrier, the sky cracked open with a flash and tossed the sea to and fro allowing both wind and reed to interlock in a perpetual battle for the ages.


21 Gun Salute ~ Memorial Day observed.

Image

Old Glory ~ Long Island New York circa 2012

I lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of my bishop. If he had waited a few more minutes before heading in to enemy territory I could have sent my knight in to watch his back. The lone rook sat dumbly behind the king watching his fellow soldier sign his own death warrant. As for the lovely queen she flirted with her lowly pawns on my right flank, hopefully giving them a pep talk. My brother smirked on the opposite side of the table. His win streak is climbing and my frustration is not far behind. But I don’t mind so much. I looked to my right and watched my niece and nephews play innocently in their sandbox as a soft breeze carried mellow rock around the backyard. My step-dad flipped burgers rolled the dogs and kept one eye on the kids as Memorial Day weekend settled upon our little part of the country. It was a peaceful time brought to us by the good men and women of our military. Thanks to these protectors of freedom and guardians of liberty, we can enjoy moments like this with loved ones.

My fellow Americans, on this most sacred of holidays we celebrate heroes from the past, of the present and the inevitable future. We hang flags to honor the country and light candles to remember the fallen. The children started to run around the pool with no worries; concerned only with being children and doing kid stuff. I sat back in my chair and contemplated the beauty of freedom and how lucky I am to abide in its’ shadow. I hope and pray my flesh and blood will enjoy it when they turn thirty.

In the past, I have been privileged to work with veterans who like to tell war stories and share experiences. Luckily for me I enjoy this sort of thing. They transport me to worlds of bombs and bullets, of fear and loss, of bravery and companionship. I will never know the bond which binds the lives of soldiers. It’s a blurry picture my creative mind has a hard time focusing on. It’s a day in the life of someone’s shoes I simply cannot fill. These blessed creatures of all color, code and creed have been unified to one single absolute truth; they have all heeded the call of duty for this great nation and gone to war countless times over. Not just physically, but mentally as well. They took up their swords and walked in to battle with heads held high and hearts filled with determination. The earth shook beneath their feet; they fought the good fight and stood their ground. Many made it through unscathed but too many stayed behind in shallow graves. For those who returned, they lived their lives with a new sense of pride, a new hope for things unseen.

My heart is heavy though. I say this because our media has turned this holiday in to nothing more than a moneymaking enterprise. Everywhere I look there are ads for car sales, clothe sales and even airfare discounts. Granted all these things are nice, but for it to overshadow the true meaning of this day is almost sacrilegious. Some paid with their lives so others can hate without prejudice, discriminate without reason, burn our flag and mock our people. This particular blog is not about the haters and the radicals who seek to destroy this nation with words and deed, but in a sense rise above their pettiness and speak to those of us who love life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When we see the red, white and blue parading over our neighborhoods this weekend let us all stop, bow our heads and take a minute to respect those colors and what they stand for. There is an inscription at a chapel in Normandy, France at the Normandy American cemetery which perfectly describes the people we are honoring this weekend: “These endured all and gave all that justice among nations might prevail and that mankind might enjoy freedom and inherit peace.”

To every veteran, M.I.A, P.O.W and deceased hero…thank you for our freedom. Thank you for liberty. I owe my life to you all. Salute and God bless.