Tag Archives: danger

PDS

Diagram showing ingredients needed for severe ...

Diagram showing ingredients needed for severe weather. The red arrow shows the position of the low level jet stream, while the blue arrow shows the location of the upper level jet stream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PDS  —  (particularly dangerous situation) 

(Part 1)

Dennis studied the weather patterns on his laptop.  A cool fast jet stream was projected to loop across the middle of the country and warm moist air was rushing up from the Gulf.  The cool air and warm front were on a collision course.  Conditions were ripe for an outbreak of severe weather, which included heavy rains, hail, and tornados. This was not what he was hoping for.

This set of conditions could be dangerous for a storm chaser and most chasers chose to have highly defined parameters.  Dennis was single and lived life more precariously.  Some of the other storm chasers secretly claimed he had a death wish.

Although Dennis dared pushing close to super cells, hoping to see a tornado touch down, he always had escape plans should something go wrong.  This time, with conditions ripe for multiple powerful super cells, he was a little uneasy.  He did not want to get trapped between storms with no place to run or seek shelter.

He checked the updates and projections.  He noted that several meteorologists were labeling the potential storms as a PDS, a particularly dangerous situation.  This alert didn’t frighten him but it did make him consider some of his options. Tomorrow, after he’d studied the models one more time, he’d finalize his plans.  Tonight, though, he’d be a cool wind blowing about town.  He would relax and have some fun.  He headed to a local bar where there were friends to drink with and if he was lucky, a woman who would find him fascinating.

While Dennis was on his way, a stranger, Marilyn, was sipping rum and colas.  She was alone at a table, rejecting all offers for company.  She was up from the Gulf coast, getting away from her house, getting away from Travis, her ex.  He had been stalking her for the last three months, ever since she had kicked him out of her house and life.

She didn’t need another man, one who would take advantage of her soft heart. She was thinking over the last three years and realizing what a fool she’d been, letting Travis make inroads and letting him take over her apartment and life.

For two years they had been together but finally she’d had enough.  She couldn’t put up with any more abuse or his lying, deceitful ways.  He’d never be faithful or treat her with respect.  She’d given him numerous chances but the results were always the same.  He’d disappear for a few days and then return, act sorry, beg for another chance, and shower her with cheap gifts.  But after a few days of staying around the house he would find some excuse for an argument, threaten her, and then leave.

She wanted one man, one who was faithful and wanted a lasting relationship.  She knew Travis could not be that man, so she told him to get out.  If she couldn’t find a man that could be honest and true, she would do without.  At least that was the plan.

Marilyn realized that Travis might snap when she broke up with him.  Travis was mentally fragile and she had always considered his state of mind.  She had always been afraid of what he might do if things didn’t go his way.  With or without alcohol or drugs he had violent tendencies.  His past was littered with people who had been hurt or killed, but nothing was ever proven in court.

Travis had other quirks she didn’t like. He didn’t share the rent or help in any way, and yet he acted as if she was his slave.  She was beyond the point of caring for Travis.  She wanted a new life and a new love.  The only way she thought she could escape from Travis was to run and take a new identity.

Marilyn had accidentally discovered this bar earlier while looking for an apartment.  It was close to the main part of town and she felt safe. In the afternoon the bar was quiet and had only two or three patrons. It was just what she was looking for while getting her bearings.  She had not considered how quickly things could change. She was like the warm front that had entered a PDS zone.

In the meantime Travis was brooding about his own circumstances. Marilyn had forced him out without any valid reasons. They weren’t married or anything.  She didn’t have the right to tell him who his friends were or who he could sleep with. He belonged there.  Although he didn’t pay any rent or expenses, according to his way of thinking he must have some rights.

When he had showed up at the apartment at 3 a.m. and demanded she let him in, she had promptly called the police.  He pounded on the door but was gone before the police arrived but he knew she would be in tears telling her story.  “He’s lost it! He said he would kill me if I didn’t cooperate!”

Travis knew that was the truth but she didn’t have to tell the police.  All he wanted was to let things continue as they were.  He didn’t like being tied down with responsibilities.

As Marilyn nursed her drink, she didn’t know that Travis was outside in the shadows, waiting for her and expecting to force her back into their usual life. A man should tell his woman how things were going to be and then enforce his expectations.  He wasn’t going to let her ruin the things he wanted.

Marilyn had left her old life behind. Two drinks and she was already starting to relax. She just wanted to dance her cares away, a warm moist body looking for cool company.  It was a particularly dangerous situation.

Dennis was like a cool wind as he came through the doors.  He immediately joined his friends when he arrived.  He was aware, however, of a beautiful woman sitting alone at a table.  He glanced at her several times, trying to decide whether she was waiting for someone or really alone.

After a few minutes he sauntered over and asked, “May I join you?”

Marilyn replied, “Sure, if you’ll tell me about yourself.”  She was ready for conversation, a little romance, and a change in her life’s direction.

Outside the bar Travis was still waiting.  He didn’t expect Marilyn to stay inside so long.  He wanted to join her as she left the bar.  His argument was prepared.  He’d say, “You had no right to kick me out of the apartment.  We’d been together too long for you to just tell me to leave.  That other woman meant nothing.  She was just a passing fancy and it’s already over. What were you concerned about?  I always came back.”

A TV was on. The Weather Channel was blaring as a meteorologist explained the very dangerous conditions ahead.  “Through the middle section of the country there’s potential for extremely violent weather.”  She pointed to the west coast and said, “The cold jet stream will be racing across these mountains and will meet warm moist air across this large area.  There could be violent storms, capable of producing many tornadoes.  It’s a PDS.”

The bartender changed the channel so the patrons could watch sports.  Then he leaned over and told Dennis,   “I’m getting tired of seeing references to the weather.  That stuff never happens.  It’s just to scare people so they continue watching.  Something real like basketball or baseball, now that’s something to watch.”

Dennis was not as cool as he appeared.  For some unknown reason this woman seemed mysterious.   He tried a safe line, hoping Marilyn wouldn’t pin him to the wall.  “Up until I met you, I led a very tame life.”

“Oh, please,” Marilyn said.  “If you can’t tell the simple truth, I don’t want to listen.”

She wasn’t encouraging, but she didn’t tell him to leave either. Dennis started again.  “I’m a meteorologist and I chase storms.”

“That’s enough.  Go back to your group until you grow up and can tell me the honest truth.”

Dennis started to get up but he sank back into his chair.  “That is the truth.  Do I need to prove it to you?”

Marilyn looked at Dennis skeptically.  “Explain what you do.”

Half an hour later he was still going over details.  She listened intently, asking questions that made him go into greater depth.  He couldn’t remember the last time he had talked so much.

At that moment one of Dennis’s friends called out, “Dennis, why are you still here?  I thought you wanted to be rested before you went tornado wrestling.”

“Yes, I know, but now I’ve got a lot of explaining to do.”

Marilyn straightened up.  “Take me with you tomorrow.  I want to see what a storm chaser does.”

(To be continued)

Common Threads

Bohus cardigan  "The Woven Fabric"

Image by AnnaKika via Flickr

Woven
through our lives were common threads,

They were almost alike but were not the same,

Some strands
we followed that nowhere led,

As we chased
dreams of fortune and fame,

There were truths and lies we often said,

But life
gave each of us a different game,

Life’s fabrics
were woven and pieces shred,

When money
talked and called your name,

I have no regrets
for all that could have been,

I avoided
risks that would have brought me shame,

My love was not
squandered at slightest whim,

Our common threads
were not spun the same,

You flirted
with danger, went out on a limb,

Looked for
easy wealth that was lying around,

Tried to convince
yourself how life was grim,

When things
went awry and no money was found,

You wanted
to stay young, all fit and trim,

While you
waited for your ship to come in,

You hovered
at the edge of life’s rim,

Never
thinking about loss, just expecting to win,

Common
threads woven were not the same,

I discovered
that money couldn’t buy everything,

Your threads
spelled out a different name,

You got your
diamonds and had your fling,

I made choices
and my story became mine alone,

You were
convinced my decisions were rash,

But relationships
were important and I had grown,

I could not
compromise and turned down hard cold cash,

Threads were
woven into a pattern of my own,

You needed
more than I had to remain my friend,

All the love
we had shared and ever known,

Could not
keep us together at the end,

But you were woven into my life,

My heart still
dreamed and called your name,

Your absence
cut through me like a knife,

Common
threads woven were not the same,

I sometimes wondered how many threads,

Needed to be
woven to make you strong,

And how weak
would I be if I continued alone,

Our lives
turned out differently and oh, so wrong,

Life offered
you riches and you sold out,

Money was
more important than us being we,

At death you’ll
leave it all behind, I have no doubt,

As death
wraps us both, you’ll have the same threads as me.

Angels Above and Angels on Earth

Two angels

Image via Wikipedia

I always
seem to get in trouble,

All the way
up to my ears,

That’s when
I call on angels,

To calm my persistent
fears,

I don’t know
when to expect them,

I don’t know
where they’ll be,

I just know
they’ve got my back,

And places I
can’t see,

They might
show up to help me drive,

Some cold
and lonesome night,

One might be
a hitchhiker I’ve picked up,

While I’m
doing what is right,

Or distract
me from becoming involved,

In a friend’s
family feud,

While
another angel helps patch things up,

If I don’t
intrude,

Yet it might
take a hundred strong,

Staying busy
as a bee,

For I seem
to have star-crossed path,

I hope it’s
just me,

For if you,
too, have crossed the line,

Where danger
is always in view,

Then angels above
and angels on earth,

Need to
watch out for me and you.

Going Camping (Part Three)

The Texas longhorn serves as the university ma...

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Melissa had gone on a rampage and destroyed the room,

The lamps, the mirror, she left me to face my doom,

I didn’t bother going to bed, I wouldn’t be able to sleep,

Every passing car could be the Sheriff, Nathan, or some creep,

Destroying evidence would be claimed if I started to clean,

But if I didn’t, what would be surmised if I fled the scene?

It was all so confusing, I wasn’t sure next what should ensue,

I slipped a note under the office door explaining what I would do,

I’d pay for the damage even though it wasn’t mine,

I wanted to leave a positive note but there just wasn’t time,

I gathered what I could and hiked towards the station,

Staying in the deepest shadows, a desperate man in a situation,

In an alley across the street I caught my breath, it looked safe to go,

A sudden premonition said something was wrong, just stay low,

My pickup looked ready, but the station was too quiet, too perfect,

I waited a few minutes for some sounds I could detect,

A car door opened, I heard a voice, “For Pete’s sake, can’t you wait?”

“I have to pee.  He’s not here anyway, it’s probably too late,”

“If you scare that bastard off you’ll wreck the Sheriff’s plan,

If the Sheriff sees you standing there, you’ll be a dead man,”

“Check your gun and be ready, but let me get the first shot,

I’m the better marksman, in case you up and forgot,”

The two deputies I met at the café seemed to have plenty to say,

I dropped to the pavement, I wanted to live another day,

Another car drove past, Nathan and the Sheriff, side by side,

The Sheriff was driving, Nathan had a rifle pointing outside,

They went two blocks, came back and parked their car,

“Don’t worry, Nathan,” the Sheriff consoled, “He can’t get far,”

“You seen him yet? I’ve got the other boys ready at the ends of town,

I’m hoping he’ll come here, it won’t be long before he’s found,

Anybody who’s dumb enough to rape the mayor’s wife,

Doesn’t deserve to live.  We’ll string him up and take his life,”

“We should have done that with the other strangers last time,

Rather than dumping their bodies in the old gold mine,

Now, Nathan, you’ve got to be calm and just wait,

We’ll hang him as an example, this time justice won’t be late.”

In the alley I inched away, then sprinted to the main highway,

There was no time to lose, there was no place to stay,

At a fast food restaurant two trucks were parked, my last hope,

One truck was loaded with carnival rides, I could bless the Pope!

One of the rides was a big fish!  Wouldn’t I have quite the tale,

Wouldn’t it be something if I escaped in the belly of a whale?

But positive energy was flowing towards the cattle truck,

Call me crazy, but I pushed and shoved my way in, trusting to luck,

The cattle were restless so I sang softly to quiet them down,  

When the driver returned they watched him but made no sound,

He followed the carnival driver heading south through the woods,

After a few miles they came to a halt, “We need to check your goods”

Deputies swarmed all over the carnival truck, checking out the rides,

The cattle truck was smelly and two deputies said, “We’re not climbing inside,”

The truck was waved on after the deputies said their goodbyes,

I stood again as soon as we were on the road, crooning lullabies,

A few towns later the trucks pulled over and the drivers popped out,

They came to the back and the cattle truck driver began to shout,

“You can come out now and quit your hiding, it’s time you were found,”

I made my way forward and stepped quickly to the ground,

“The cattle wouldn’t be behavin’ unless there’s a cowboy, was my hunch,

But I’ll be danged if I was going to turn you over to that wild logger bunch,

We’d be witnesses to your treatment, they’d shoot us on sight,

Telling anybody who’d listen that we helped you take flight,”

“Where’re you headin’? I’d take you up front but you don’t smell good,”

“To turn myself in,” I answered, “It’s the right thing, I know I should,”

At the police station they ignored me, then things happened quick,

 I convinced them I was telling them the truth, it wasn’t a trick,

I told them about the old mine and the FBI was called in,

Tourists had disappeared there, and speculation was grim,

Melissa hung tough but after inconsistencies began to show,

She blubbered about the sheriff and Nathan, her tears did flow,

The Sheriff and two of the deputies were arrested and booked,

Nathan had shot one of Melissa’s lovers so his goose was cooked,

Me? I was lucky to get out of there, my pickup fixed free,

The rude man and his friends? Now that’s still a mystery,

I don’t think about what they tried to do, that’s negativity,

All I know is positive forces seem to agree with me.

I think being positive beats negativity every time, although I still haven’t gotten to go camping.  I can picture it now, camping in the forest, close to the ocean, watching the elk herd meander along, waiting for the fog to lift, enjoying the excitement of nature, wide eyed and ready for new adventures.

Part 2, Going Camping

Two campers with gear hiking through Bear Moun...

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Going Camping, Trouble in Town

At six in the morning I strolled down Main Street,

Admiring the small shops, enjoying the sun’s heat,

I went into Roger’s, a café with customers waiting in line,

I was told by a waitress, “It’s always like this, rain or shine,”

Inside on a wall there was a sign bright and bold,

WEAR SHOES AND A SHIRT AND DO WHAT YOU’RE TOLD,

A sudden thought whizzed around in my head,

“It doesn’t sound positive, it sounds negative instead,”

Another sign, “If you ain’t hungry, you’re wasting a place,

We only serve those who’re feeding their face!”

I was tempted to order the Sasquatch Special Plate,

But I was sure the special was meant to feed at least eight,

I ordered the smallest dish, called the Redwood Tree,

Aware that several people were casually watching me,

The waitress sashayed by, several times or more,

Then she stopped and said, “Before you go out that door,

There are three men in the corner with words to say,

And they look serious, they don’t have time to play,”

I was still feeling positive so I strolled over to see,

“Good morning, Sheriff, officers, you wanted to see me?”

“We’ve been searching all morning for three of our friends,

We thought you might know just where we should begin,”

“I’m sorry, sir, I really don’t know where they went,

They came to greet me but little time was spent,”

They looked at me dubiously, “We’re watching you double,

You can’t come into this town and start causing trouble,”

“I’m on my way to the Prairie Creek campground,

As soon as my pickup is finished, I’m leaving town,”

“If our buddies don’t show up, we’ll be looking for you,

There’s a connection, even if you’re just passing through,”

I didn’t know what to say so I turned and walked out,

But before I got through the door I heard the sheriff shout,

“Remember, don’t go far, we’ll be watching you, Stranger,”

Something inside of me kept saying, “Danger, danger, danger,”

If I could get my pickup I would hurry and get on the road,

I didn’t want the sheriff and his deputies to add to my load,

The mechanic was still working, meticulous but slow,

“It won’t be done today, sometime in the morning though,”

What point was there to argue if the results would be the same?

A man entered the garage, “I don’t think I gave you my name,”

“I’m Nathan,” he said, “I drove you here late last night,”

Even without his hard hat he was a welcome sight,

“My wife and I would like to take you out to dine,

Then show you around our town, we won’t let you decline,”

He got into his pickup, waved, “I’ll be back at six,”

I found a motel, checked in, “I hope this isn’t a trick,”

When Nathan and his wife, Melissa, arrived, I was at my best,

“The food is delicious, the people great at The Logger’s Nest,

You’ll like the long benches that fit at each table,

We all crowd together and talk while we’re able,”

The conversation was lively, between Nathan and some guy,

While Melissa and I talked quietly, squeezed thigh to thigh,

She plied me with questions about my city life,

She wanted to know everything, why I didn’t have a wife,

Later they showed me what they liked about their town,

Stopping at bars to visit friends and throw a few drinks down,

 I became the designated driver as the night took its toll,

Water and sodas had been my fare, so I was left in control,

Finally I drove them home, determined to walk to the motel,

“No, no, no,” Melissa said. “I’m almost sober, as you can tell,

Nathan can put himself to bed, there’ll be no debate,”

I didn’t want to argue, I was tired, and it was late,

On the way Melissa slid to the middle of the seat,

Then closer, thigh against thigh, I could feel the heat,

She leaned her head against my shoulder and sighed,

“I can’t drive with you close like this,” I lied,

“Nathan neglects me and leaves me all alone,

Why don’t you stay a few days and your camping trip postpone?”

I got out quickly at the motel but I heard the other door slam,

“I’ve got to use the girl’s room,” she said, and I was in a jam,

“I’ll just be a minute or two, and then I’ll be on my way,”

“Okay, I’ll be waiting at the truck, so please don’t delay,”

Time passed slowly and Melissa never came out,

Maybe something happened, although I had some doubt,

She was in bed, the covers tucked up under her chin,

“I’m cold,” she whispered, “so hurry up and get in,”

I shook my head, “Melissa, I can’t betray Nathan’s trust,

You and Nathan are my friends, I won’t give in to lust,”

She looked at me as if I had arrived from deepest space,

“He’s drunk and asleep, you can have me and leave no trace,

I’ve been waiting all evening for you, don’t you want me too?”

She was beautiful, I was needy, both of those were true,

“I’m sorry, Melissa, I’ll wait in the pickup until you get dressed,”

That was not what she expected for she looked quite distressed,

I shut the door behind me but not before I heard breaking glass,

Finally silence, I was sure positives won’t let negativity surpass,

She stormed out, her hair disheveled, her blouse torn,

“You could have made this easy and fun, now you they’ll scorn,

When I made plans to be with you, I must have been dreaming,

Now get out of my truck before I start screaming,

I’ll tell Nathan you laughed when my blouse was torn,

I’ll make you wish you’d never been born,”

One day of vacation used on this camping trip,

Negativity is winning, I’m in its grip.

(Part 2)

My Son, Listen to My Words of Wisdom

Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary

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My son, there are a few things you ought to know,

First off, don’t eat the yellow snow,

When a girl tells you she likes you as a friend,

She means, adios, goodbye, the end,

The tongue has the power of life and death,

Say something nice, or save your breath,

When you think you know something, speak out,

Listen and look wise, when in doubt,

Son, life has no easy answers on how to be smart,

Being always observant is quite an art,

If you look at the friends who surround you,

Your own character comes into view,

When people are angry, listen to what they say,

For what they believe is true will come your way,

Now for the things that can make you better,

Hold these truths close right to the letter,

If you hold anger inside and don’t turn it loose,

It won’t be long before you stew in your own juice,

In colloquial terms, you have to dig,

If you stir a stink, it only gets big,

If you’re knee high in clover you’re doing well,

You’ve hit pay dirt as time will tell,

If you’ve got it made in the shade,

You have no worries, your fortune is made,

The best things in life are not gold or shiny rings,

Love, respect, and honor, are what happiness brings,

Be a person of action, be a person of thought,

Keep out of trouble and do what you ought,

You are wise when you know others and what they do,

You are wiser yet, when you really understand you,

My son, I’ll tell you a secret, don’t ever get old,

It’s only for the tough, the simple, and those who are bold,

Now for the real things you asked me about,

The differences between sexes that you have doubts,

If you think you understand women you’re in danger,

The simple truth? Men are strange, women are stranger,

Know that women think differently than a man,

You’ll always be wrong if you don’t understand,

If you ever think you’re perfect, it’s time for a wife,

She’ll love you and correct you the rest of your life,

Men want women to stay the same always,

Women want men to be different every day,

Women can’t keep secrets, you should know that,

If you have a secret to keep, keep it under your hat,

Love builds bridges across unchartered lands,

Everyone is richer, no matter which side you stand,

Love can be magical when your heart it does claim,

Love also can be an illusion that you’ll never tame,

Love takes normal things and dims the light,

You won’t see faults and everything looks right,

A beautiful woman? If you wish to be wise too,

A beautiful woman is the one who loves you,

The best thing in life I hope you soon learn,

Is to love completely and be loved in return.

Sons of Thunder

The Sons of Thunder

 

There were early warning signs that violence was on the way.  The two boys were untamed, unfettered, and usually unsupervised.  Their mother had disappeared mysteriously, leaving her husband alone with three children. The father refused any help from the community, insisting that the family would work out their own problems.  Alicia, the beautiful eldest child, reportedly kept the house running smoothly.  She and the boys, James and John, were always clean, fed, and well dressed. Their father, known to drink a bit but not to excess, paid the bills and saved money. Although the father was gone frequently and sometimes for long periods of time there wasn’t anything specifically anyone could point a finger at, yet we all knew there was danger lurking behind the façade.

Alicia never went on dates, although at sixteen she caught the eye of every eligible male in the surrounding areas.  Frankly, they were afraid to ask her out.  Her dad made it a point to seek out prospective suitors and let them know their lives were in danger around his house or around his daughter.  Alicia meekly followed orders, kept the house immaculate, and maintained her straight A average in high school.

John, the middle child, had an explosive temper that occurred with increasing frequency. Often I would confront him in school about some infraction and his face would become contorted with rage.  His voice would shake and obscenities would pour out. Sometimes I asked him to walk around the schoolyard in an effort to cool his anger.  I would watch him pick up a stick, point it at me, and pretend to shoot.  Since I knew he hunted the fields around the school and around my house it was reason for concern.  I knew he would seethe for hours until his anger finally abated.  John was also very intelligent.  He did well in his school subjects and also stayed informed about world politics. He had great plans for his future but I worried about his bouts of anger and how that anger controlled him at times.

John and James were unwelcome in neighboring homes because of their destructive hunting forays and their penchant for breaking things just for fun.  One day they followed their dog down the road and into the driveway of a neighbor’s house.  The dog chased chickens while the boys whooped their support.  Finally the neighbor stepped out of his house.  “You boys go home. I don’t want anything killing my chickens.”  The boys didn’t listen.  Instead they entered the barn and began breaking windows while the dog continued his relentless pursuit of squawking chickens.  The neighbor stepped out of his house onto his front porch, holding a shot-gun.  “Please take your dog home.  He doesn’t belong here. You go home, too!”  “I don’t want anyone to get hurt.” 

The boys left, only to return a short time later with their dad.  He had two six shooters strapped to his sides, gunfighter style.  He confronted the neighbor.  “If you want to have a shoot-out, then let’s get to it.”  The neighbor backed down, uneasy about an altercation with a crazy man.  And so it went, from that moment the community shied away from any arguments with the dad.

The family business was another strange thing that was rarely discussed.  The dad made caskets.  The boys often bragged about their personal coffins, made from the finest materials and ready to be used. “You should see the polished wood and the blue silk.”  “When I die, dad will make mine even better,” the other replied.

James was known for his antics, his infectious smile, and his sudden angelic appearance.  He could be deeply in trouble and yet somehow escape unscathed.  Once, as a fifth grader, he had been caught peeping over a stall in the girl’s bathroom.  He received no punishment because he was so sorry it had ever happened.

One day in spring, after the fire at Christmas had burned the school totally, and we were in school at the church, a strange thing happened.  On this rare day James was sitting quietly in class trying to decipher the big words.  The teacher,  however, could not focus on the lesson.  “I’m sorry,” she said, “but there’s something that really stinks around here.”  She walked from chair to chair but to no avail.  She eventually walked to the closet.  “I think something died in there,” she announced to the class. She flung open the door and peered in, holding her nose.  The children’s coats were hung on pegs, waiting to be picked up.  The teacher went from coat to coat, sniffing and coughing.  She stopped at James’s coat.  “This coat stinks,” she said.  “What is the problem?”  James laughed.  “I slept with my dog in the bed last night,” he proclaimed.  “A skunk had sprayed it.  My dog was still scared so I hugged it all night.”

James was the center of the universe at times.  He could not read any words with more than four letters.  The principal proudly proclaimed he taught James to read.  Later, when James was discovered memorizing the lessons ahead, the principal was deflated and gave up.  He turned the task over to a young teacher who decided James was a worthy project.  For several weeks she toiled and James struggled onward. The reading project seemed a success until one day after school the woman turned her back on James.  He quickly closed the distance between them, reached around and cupped her breasts.  She was horrified and fled to the principal.  “What are you going to do about it?” she demanded angrily.  “You shouldn’t have been alone with him,” the principal snapped.  The conversation was over.  James and the reading lessons were over, but James continued on, oblivious to the fact that anything was wrong. 

In the eighth grade and in high school James proved to be outstanding in sports.  Grades were overlooked as long as James tried.  There were occasions when those in the stands were pleasantly surprised by his adroit moves and quickness.  There were also occasions when those same people were shocked by his ability to get confused.  When he got turned around he might run the wrong way in football or make the winning basket for the wrong team in basketball.  Yes, James was something of an enigma.

We didn’t hear much about Alicia after she graduated from high school.  The boys said she went to college but we didn’t know where.  And John?  He graduated from high school and drifted northward, working one job after another.  Later we heard he had been arrested in Seattle for armed robbery and would be locked away for awhile.  And James?  I had forgotten about James until one night at eleven o’clock I was awakened by the persistent ring of my phone.  I picked it up and was greeted by a familiar voice.  “Mr. Roberson, remember me?  This is James and I just called to thank you for all you did for me.  You didn’t give up and eventually you got me to reading.  I’m now a lumberjack in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  I volunteer at a local elementary school when I can.   I just wanted to thank you but I don’t want to keep you up.  Good-bye!”  And with that James was gone, but definitely not forgotten.  He was one of the more difficult students who had learning disabilities and social problems and somehow had managed to rise out of the murky depths. He had taken the next step and was reaching out to others and giving them a chance to succeed.  His persistence also woke me up.

 Sometimes I forgot that school was more than teaching subject matter.  It was about touching human lives.  I slept easier that night and for many nights to follow because I had made a difference in his life. James didn’t give me a chance to tell him, but he also had made a difference in how I perceived things.  I must have done something right, and to this day I still believe I can touch that invisible spirit, and bring it to a higher level.  Thanks, James, wherever you are, for giving me feedback.

 

By Dan Roberson  2/26/09