Monthly Archives: January 2015

Guardian Knights

Author’s Note: I wrote this short story nearly four years ago. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it is really a modern take on “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by Walter Thurber and comes from a female perspective. Some of the themes may be a little dark for the G rating. It is truly fiction bordering on science fiction ala Spider Man or the Flash.

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He passed me on the highway. I was doing, well, let’s just call it 65, and he was doing much more. I didn’t catch more than a glimpse, but he intrigued me. He was dressed in the stereotypical black riding leathers with no helmet and just a dirty red bandana. But what really caught my eye was the emblem on the back of his jacket. I don’t remember the pictures, but the words, oh the words. As a writer, words sing to me in ways that pictures never do. Guardian Knights.

I spent the rest of my commute, work day, and reverse commute lost in thought. Not your typical administrivia flavored with a hint of politics…but my favorite type of thought…people stories. I’m sure psychologists have some fancy name for it other than imagination.

As an introvert, I walk into a crowded room, find the least crowded spot, and start watching people. I begin writing these stories about their lives in my head. Some are exciting—that man with raven hair and electric blue eyes is a high power lawyer working on a top secret case and he jets around the globe. Others are just dull—that woman with the straight grey hair in a pony tail is weary…you can tell by the creases around her eyes that she has been babysitting for her daughter, a single mom working two jobs to scrape by, and the older woman is lost in thought about the logistics of getting everyone where they need to go.

Sometimes I do the same thing on the road or in a grocery store. But today that man stuck in my head. I imagined about the types of people who would wear the emblem of the Guardian Knights. They were old soldiers and fathers who learned to fight because their children had been hurt. There were a few legal eagles who gave up the good life to help the poor and needy. There were convicts who had paid their debt to society, gone on the straight and narrow, but still had a deep need to practice old skills. All in all, this ragamuffin band kept contact with a variety of means ranging from the archaic typewritten letter to quick alphabet soup texts.

They worked together to bring justice. Not your typical courtroom justice where the violent ex gets off on a technicality or kids are returned to their abusers because there are no marks that the patriarchal system can find or the old lady gets evicted because she can only pay the rent that the town used to have before it became a bedroom community to the capital city.

Down home, punishment fits the crime, vigilante justice – a man is found with his underwear so tight about his bottom end that he sings soprano for the rest of his life (his tastes ran to girls…little girls who should have been playing dolls not doctor); kids mysteriously disappear only to be found well educated and physically fit and emotionally sound after they turn 18 (the divorced mothers look but not too hard, and the fathers don’t care anymore because the bedroom trophies and control pawns are gone); the little old lady comes into an unexpected inheritance and moves into a gated retirement community only days before a “gas leak” turns her tenement to ashes.

Not really the kind of thing a good Christian woman would support, but only a hypocrite can’t admit a part of their heart cheers when these kind of stories are told and the cops can’t find a perpetrator.

Eventually, I bring myself back to my reality, life as a single parent. I hide my aches and pains from the rest of the world—the ex who won’t go away and keeps finding ways to bring misery and lost funds; the beautiful, loving kids with the different brains who can’t answer the boxes on tests right; the never ending bills with a limit on the funds to pay them. The people stories are just a game, something to challenge my mind. There are any number of hobbies I’d like to take up—counted cross-stitch, hiking, ballroom dancing, scuba diving, spelunking—but Chastity and Charity can’t organize information any better than their bedrooms and Hope is in her own little world again. So, you give up on the dreams, put them away, and pull out the skillet to start turkey burger to use in Hamburger Helper, your minor contribution to your children’s health today.

The door bell rings. Without thinking, forgetting all the safety rules because chaos and exhaustion reign, I open the door. It’s that same guy. His motorcycle is cooling, parked across the back of my decade-old Chevy. He takes off his bandana and wipes his forehead. I’m speechless.

“Ma’am, we hear you have some issues that you’ve been trying to resolve. If you’ll give me a drink of some of that fresh well water—city stuff is so polluted with chemicals that are supposed to help—I’ll tell you about my friends and our big plans for your little family.” A southern drawl no less…how quaint…and downright intriguing…

Life has never been the same.

The Out-of-Synch Christian

Author’s Note: Unfortunately, while my senior pastor was giving an awesome teaching on Communion, my mind was wandering because something that was said took me back to Ecclesiastes (first part of chapter 3), my rebel without a clue side started to challenge each line (not in true rebellion), and this piece was born.

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To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born (yet diversity of ideas is strangled),
And a time to die (but all that is unholy is allowed to live and be fertile);
A time to plant (yet the weeds must be pulled),
And a time to pluck what is planted (I never plant at the right time of year);
A time to kill (but the anger seems to live on),
And a time to heal (but true healing is hidden);
A time to break down (I seem to be the only one trying to make something out of the broken pieces),
And a time to build up (I always seem to demolish because the edifice has faults I alone see);
A time to weep (yet I skip and dance),
And a time to laugh (yet I sigh and groan);
A time to mourn (yet I throw the best block party),
And a time to dance (yet I curl up fetally);
A time to cast away stones (somehow I’m trying to find all that have been thrown away),
And a time to gather stones (yet I cannot find the order and all I see is chaos);
A time to embrace (what happened to no touch, no talk, no eye contact),
And a time to refrain from embracing (but my love language might be touch);
A time to gain (the depth of my hole),
And a time to lose (finding time should happen more frequently);
A time to keep (this ain’t it),
And a time to throw away (I never could until now);
A time to tear (with tears I try to mend all that is unkempt to no avail),
And a time to sew (not now, because I keep pricking my heart until it bleeds);
A time to keep silence (that is deafening),
And a time to speak (and yet not be heard);
A time to love (what is good?),
And a time to hate (what is evil?);
A time of war (that is what has always been within),
And a time of peace (in the shower?).

In a crowd, yet alone, the hungry heart is deceived as it hunts what it cannot name and cannot describe. It beats and bleeds and seeks the rhythm that matches its own, and yet it leaves unsatisfied. Scarred and battle weary, it quivers and quakes when the cadence nearly matches. Then, the moment is gone. The heart breaks.

The Masquerade

And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

— Saul of Tarsus, Second Letter to Corinth

In my original denominational pew, we heard the vast majority of the Bible every three years. However, we didn’t do much with verses or knowing their location in the Bible.

So, as you can imagine, it was both a scary and thrilling moment when I first heard and really heard this verse in college. The thought of being deceived by something that looks oh so good and oh so promising was humbling and petrifying.

And it’s not just entities that can do this. So many ideas misapplied and so many new technologies have the same charade.

For example, a GPS is a very handy device when you get lost. However, reverse the technology, and even the simplest stalker can become your worst nightmare. If the machine knows where you’re going, so does the hacker.

Facebook too is so nice. I can keep up with aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends all over the world. We share photos and events, and we watch as our families grow and mature. We rejoice over promotions, and we weep over death and destruction. However, for the teen trying just to fit in, with the glasses and braces and less than perfect complexion and too perfect grades, it is a hellish nightmare as others can post their hatred for you and the whole world can join in their torture if their security is not properly set.

So I guess as this new year begins, I am spending more and more time thinking (while I drive or cook or clean) about what things and ideas might be wearing beautiful costumes that hide ugly outcomes. As I process all I’ve learned, I’m starting to look at my to-do list and my schedule, and I can see the ugly outcomes underneath the costumes of involved mother and dedicated professional and responsible homeowner and devoted kith and kin.

Truly, in this time of frigid winds and utter prolonged darkness, it is time to shine a light on all the items and begin to winnow them. What has limited value must be slashed. Only that with true long-term benefit can stay.

Maybe by springtime, a new, improved me will be available. My priorities will be properly aligned. There will no more masquerades and no more masks. Fake light will be pushed out by priorities that have more value.

And maybe that’s how winter and the new year should be used…