“If you get stuck between a rock and a hard place….it’s probably too late to rethink those last 3 trips through the buffet line before you decided to go all outdoorsy.”
Clarity is…..a smile that is unseen.
It is felt through the deep staggered inhale that helps to fight back the tears that is the knowing that something has got to give.
It’s the silence of being alone in a room overcrowded with inner thoughts and the barrenness of answers.
It’s the single teardrop that fights free from the ducts of stubbornness and washes away the armor of personal deceit.
It is the surrender to the cycle of self.
It is rehabilitation of the soul….the rejuvenation of unparalleled confidence.
It is the storm that passes….
and the revelation that it will return.
Clarity is…..a glimpse into maybe.
He walked out of the bathroom of their small 1 bedroom apartment and out into the main room, where his girlfriend of over 6 years sat and filed her nails.
He knew it was time to finally ask her. He couldn’t take the what if’s that ran through his mind anymore.
He had to be straightforward and direct. Confidence was the key.
She looked up at him as he walked into the room and smiled.
He returned the smile and approached her as his hands began to sweat.
“Honey…I need to ask you something…” He began as he faced her.
“Ok.” She kindly replied.
He glanced at the floor, knelt down on one knee and placed what was in his hand on the floor next to him.
He looked up at her lovingly, paused, smiled and began,
Her heart began to race before he could finish. She jumped up and exclaimed,
“YES YES OF COURSE I WILL MARRY YOU!…I need to call my Mother…she doesn’t think you are good enough for me….never has…..but it doesn’t matter now…we are getting married!! I need a dress….we need to start making plans…O….M…..G…bridesmaids…how many? What color for their dresses…we need to learn a cool dance like those ones on the youtube! Wait…wait.,,.before I do anything.. I need the ring….where’s the ring?….PUT IT ON MY FINGER!!”
She said as she stuck her left hand out while continuing her happy dance.
He looked at her bewildered, stood up from his kneeling position and replied,
“I…I…I don’t have a ring…”
“No ring? What do you mean no ring? Don’t you know the rules of engagement? I NEED A RING!” She answered.
“I wasn’t asking you to marry me….” He began as he knelt down and picked up what he had placed next to himself and cautiously continued,
“I was gonna ask….would you please remember to put the cap back on the toothpaste after you use it….it gets all crusty and then SHOOTS out without warning.”
As he spoke he handed her the tube with the crusty top.
She looked at it and replied,
“Toothpaste crust? Then why did you get down on one knee?”
He looked down and pointed as he replied,
“My shoelace is untied.”
The young boy wandered the streets in a frantic daze. His eyes would jet back, forth and he would look behind him to make sure he wasn’t being followed.
He needed a fix.
It seemed, to him, that all the kids at school were experimenting with new things.
He wanted something new, too.
He didn’t fit in and had a hard time making friends because he was transferred from the “bad side of town”.
His clothes weren’t right. His hair wasn’t right.
He just needed something to make him “feel”…..right.
The other day, he overheard talk about a guy nicknamed “the fixer”.
They said he knew a place that had some stuff that would take your mind to places you couldn’t even imagine!
They said he promised that one fix from him and you would be hooked.
They talked about going to look for the man with the raven tattoo on his arm, but they were all talk.
He was on a mission to get the elusive fix that all the kids were talking about.
He combed the downtown city blocks, glancing at every male arm he could to hopefully catch a glimpse of the raven.
As the heat of the day wore on and perspiration began to drop off his cheek to the concrete below, he knew he needed to take a break from his search.
He glanced across the street and saw a single water fountain at the edge of the downtown walking park.
He crossed the street and jogged up to the fountain, where he pressed and held the button and drank until he thought he would burst.
As he drank, a voice from behind him scared him into stopping.
“Are you planning on draining the cities water supply or are you gonna leave some for others to have?”
The young boy stopped, turned around and began to reply,
“I’m sorry…I was thirst….”
That’s when he noticed the tattoo.
The man with the tattoo pulled his hair out of the way and drank slowly from the fountain.
The young boy just stared at the tattoo and gulped, waiting for him to turn around.
The man finished drinking, turned around and gave the boy a quizzical look.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost? You ok?” He asked the boy.
The boy quickly replied before he changed his mind.
“Are you the fixer?”
“The…the fixer…I heard a man with a raven tattoo has some stuff that promises to take you away for a while….I heard one fix from you…and…and…I would be hooked…are you him.”
The man with the raven tattoo studied the boy.
He then asked him to sit with him on the bench, so they could talk.
“Look, kid..I don’t have “the stuff” as you called it….but I can take you to the place that does. But I have to warn you…..the one fix and hooked deal is real. It’s not one of those new fancy drugs that I hear about. This one has been around…a long time..and isn’t used much anymore…it lost its ‘cool factor’ a long time ago…..but it still works better than anything else. How much money you got?”
The kid shifted his eyes, stood up, turned out his pockets and replied.
“I don’t have any money….”
The man rubbed his tattoo and answered.
“First fix on me…..but here’s the deal. I will take you, but, when you come back for more, which you will, you have to bring a friend. When we get there you will have to talk to the woman who also has a raven tattoo….she monitors the joint to make sure anyone who goes there gets their “fix” in silence…..she will set you up for future fixes. Deal?”
The young man stared up at him and pondered if he could really handle what he was getting himself into. In defiance to his normal unconfident self, he stuck out his hand and said,
The man stuck out his arm with the raven tattoo and shook his hand gently with his hand.
They walked two blocks down from the park, and up a stairwell that was in between two buildings.
At the top was a clearing of trees that had a walkway and two flights of stairs that led up to an old building.
A few people hung around outside.
They each nodded to the man with the raven tattoo as he and the boy passed.
No words. Just nods.
As he opened the large oak front door, the young man was stuck by a silence he was not used to. At first it was uncomfortable but soon it began to soothe him.
They walked up to a large desk, where a woman with long red hair sat.
The man with the raven tattoo cleared his throat.
The woman looked up and brushed her hair behind her ear, revealing a small raven tattoo on her neck trailed by stars.
“This kid is looking hit his first fix. I told him we could fix him up.”
She looked at the boy and then at the man and replied,
“Kinda young…isn’t he?”
The man shrugged his shoulders and answered,
“Hey…he came to me…if we want to keep this place going, they need to get hooked as young as possible. I told him first fix was on me…you set him up for a return visit?”
“I suppose…take him in…and don’t bother the others…I’m unusually busy today.”
The man with the raven tattoo led him to an opening that was covered by a curtain.
As he opened the curtain, the young mans eyes grew wide. He slowly looked in each direction and asked,
“What is this place?”
The man with the raven tattoo knelt down to be able to quietly speak into his ear.
“This place is the only fix you will ever need, it will open your mind, expand your imagination and take you wherever you want to go…..welcome to the library.”
Week 2 of my recovery from surgery, required visit number 2 to the surgeon so he could check on the status of my recovery from his handiwork.
He was impressed with how much movement I had in my arm.
As he checked the wound to decide if the staples would be coming out or not he made a point to fill my wife and I in on how close I was to not being around at all.
The injury came within 4-5 millimeters of one of the main arteries.
The width of the band on this ring is approximately 5 millimeters.
4 millimeters deeper and I would of had zero chance of making it to the hospital or otherwise.
Once again, he stated that someone was looking out for me.
Before he left, he said I was healing well….
And that I should be treated to champagne for still being alive.
“You hear that, honey??? He said I should get champagne….and he’s a Doctor…..so he must be right!”
I did get about 15 staples removed. Which leaves about 35 or so to go.
As far as the champagne goes, I plan on staying sober until I die…..not until I almost die.
I was treated to the champagne of fountain drinks though.
It’s Dr. Pepper…just what the Dr. ordered.
Life sometimes takes scary turns.
Be grateful for every moment.
The Angel in the grey suit walked the city streets, taking in the sights and sounds of a normal day.
He listened as the cab drivers screeched in and out of traffic, occasionally shouting obscenities out their open windows to other drivers who impeded the journeys.
He tipped his fedora to the the ladies that he passed, who were endlessly gossiping about their neighbors and what happened on last nights reality shows.
He would nod his head at the gentlemen who were complaining about the results of last nights baseball game while intertwining their disgust for the state of the economy.
He stopped at the crosswalk to await the light to turn green.
As he waited, he was approached by a man, grasping and displaying a leather bound book.
“Have you been saved, my good man?” He asked as he waved the book in front of him.
The man in the grey suit turned to look at him and plainly replied,
“In order for me to be saved…you must be implying that I have been abandoned….the only thing I plan to abandon is answering your question, allowing you the opportunity to save your breathe….good day…sir.”
The man in the grey suit, properly tipped his fedora and began to cross the street just as the light changed to green.
The man with the book was left to decipher the reply to his question.
As the pedestrian traffic lessened, the Angel had an opportunity to glance at his himself in a storefront window.
He saw the fedora that rested atop his head.
The slightly oversized grey casual suit that covered his upper and lower body.
The worn grey tennis shoes that served as the vehicles that covered his modes of transportation.
He smiled at the sight of himself and how his transition Angel scoffed at his choice of footwear to go along with the required attire.
He then, changed direction and headed for a spot to reflect.
He walked toward the center of the park, following the path that was covered with sidewalk chalk portraits and drawing left by the artists of the future and took a seat on a bench, conveniently shaded by a large oak tree.
Once again, he took in the sights and the sounds of a much different area of the city.
The children laughing.
He looked up and saw a single white dove glide through the air and perch itself on the bench next to him.
It tilted its head side to side at him, then put it’s beak down and grabbed a bread crumb that was left from whomever sat and ate there before he arrived, and flew back up into the sky.
He watched it with wonder as it effortlessly glided through the air.
He wondered if the choice he made was the correct one.
Angel heard a noise and turned his head upward toward the power lines that cross crossed around the park.
A gallery of black crows perched on a number of the lines, resembling a combination of musical notes, cawing at each other.
They just sat there, perched high above the hustle and bustle of the cities occupants….watching.
Again, he wondered if the choice he made was the right one.
He sat back on the bench, shut out the noise of his surroundings and waited for the aura of peace to settle the reluctance of his decision.
As the peace slowly came, he was reminded of the last conversation he had with the Angel who wore the immaculately shined shoes, before he was released back into world as an Angel himself.
“So…why do we go back, if not to show proof that Angels exist?…and how am I even here…when I wasn’t even on the list? I saw the look of surprise on your face when you first saw me in the room of the waiting dead…”
The Angel paused. Then reluctantly answered the questions to the best of his knowledge.
“Because proof leads to belief that the theories of faith have been correct. That will lead to wars caused by each faction of faith believing that their theory is more true than the next. We cannot encourage proof that we do not have, which is why we go back without wings.”
“I still don’t get it….”
“Even we, who are given the title of ‘Angel’ do not have the answer. The answer lies somewhere in the grey area between birth and death. To this point, all we know is life on earth itself is a heaven that is not appreciated and is becoming a hell that most are tolerating. Our purpose for going back is to ensure that the search continues for the peace there that we have found….here.”
“O…k….and the list?”
“That is another story that I was hoping not to tell you….but you asked…so I must tell. It is my duty….”
After another reluctant pause…he began.
“The human state of being is bound by destiny. Destiny is bound by three fates. Fate 1 is conception to birth. Fate 2 is the amount of time allotted between birth and death. Fate three is the existence after life. The completion of the three, results in individual destiny. Each stage of fate is monitored by a selected group of Angels. Each list that is compiled is checked and passed along to the next. From fate 1…to fate 2….to fate 3….where the transition choice is given. Your name was on the list, but was flagged by the angels of fate 2 because of its uncanny similarities between you…and I. Name, cause of death, gender…the sameness was uncanny. The Angel in charge of the destiny file decided it was a misprint and left your name off the list without bothering to check if it was correct…or not.”
Angel sat up in his chair and exclaimed,
“A freaking MISTAKE??”
The Angel chuckled and replied,
“More of an oversight than a mistake…remember…we were all once human…angels are not perfect, nor were we intended to be. Which is why we seek the ones who search for answers instead of believing out of fear of damnation or promise of salvation. Your imminent destiny was always tied to mine.”
Angel opened his eyes and let the peace he has found intermingle with the sounds of the city.
As he looked around him and wondered if this place could ever put differences aside and search as one, he was reminded of the gift that the Angel who wore the immaculately shined shoes gave him.
He reached into the jacket pocket of his casual grey suit and pulled out a pocket watch.
He opened it up and looked at the simple inscription that was inscribed on the plate opposite the face of the clock-
“The search for answers covers many terrains and takes time….wear comfortable shoes.”
I must not have been doing a good job at choosing this weeks selection, because every song I picked, my lovely wife started preaching to me at how awful they were.
“I have never listened to anything that bad”
“Please….TURN THAT OFF!”
So I did, what I believe, any other frustrated husband would do….
“If my picks are so bad, then why don’t you pick a song and I will find a suitable cover for it.”
Only my wife would be able to pick a song, by an iconic artist, none the less, that really has has very few covers that are….original.
“Papa Don’t Preach” by Madonna
First off….Madonna does not bring out my inner child.
Second off….there is no second….I just couldn’t write first off without a second.
The popular covers I found were by Kelli Osbourne, the cast from GLEE, and Celine Dion.
Ugh times 3.
Others were decent but all attempted to sound like Madonna….and that’s not what I do here.
So… I settled on this violin version. She is easy on the eyes and her version is easy on the ears.
I give you a Madonna cover by someone with a name I can’t pronounce much less write.
Just to prove I am still in charge, here is a bonus DEATH METAL version. If you can make it all the way through without cringing….treat yourself to a blow pop.
By request of my wife….
Madonna….by request of my wife….
You have been covered on Sunday.
“No one really knows the true history when it comes to Angels. Not even I….and have carried the moniker and it’s responsibilities for so long I cannot fathom it’s distance in respect to time.” The man in the grey suit began.
“Whatever the truth is…it has been changed, altered, glorified and twisted by myth, religion, holy and common folk and of course the passage of generation to generation. My purpose in that equation is to give you the information that has been passed to me and allow you to make you own judgement on the direction of your transition.”
As the man in grey paused, Angel took it as an opportunity to ask a question.
“Ok….so far, I gather that you are an angel….and I am dead awaiting my transition into…something…..what I don’t get is it seems you are telling me I have a choice to make?”
The man in grey continued his pause in order to properly choose his wording. He then spoke plainly and clearly to avoid any miscommunication.
“Young man….the human race remains human because of its ability to choose. Death and it’s after effects are no different. You will be allowed 1 final choice to cement the end of your “human” existence and into your transitional one. Choice is what separates the man from the animal. Your choice will be as simple as what separates the ‘angels’ from the birds.”
He paused again and waited for the inevitable question.
“I don’t understand your obvious riddle…but what I do understand is that I will be getting wings…right?”
The man in the grey suit smiled and replied.
“I am not offering you a menu of choices from an appetizer menu…no you will not “get” wings. If you will kindly let me finish, you will get a better understanding of my so called riddle and be better informed to make your choice.”
Angel sat back in his seat and waited for the Angel in the grey suit to continue his story….all the while wondering how he hid his wings under that grey suit.
After another short pause, the Angel in the grey suit, shifted his back to get settled, and began to tell the story.
Our story begins in the time of Noah, a story be which I am sure you are familiar, whether “god fearing” or not. During that time period, the angels roamed the earth along side man. Wings were not needed to distinguish between the two. The angels wore cloth of either white or black made from a silk only found in a far away place that could not be reached by the meager technology of man at that time. The colors did not distinguish good or bad, sinful or pure, one people from another. It was a rare time in the history on the Earth where people bonded through similarities in beliefs and not in similarities of color. Rather, they distinguished the difference in temperament held within the tones of the angel that wore them. Black represented fear. White represented compassion. Within those representations, the commoners of the world received their guidance. Each group flourished in its own way under the color of their choosing. Unfortunately, the differences ultimately began to wear on the ones whose beliefs did not coincide with either.
There can never be, simply black or white…there is always a grey area.
As each side tried to gain dominance of faith, in an effort to declare one stance, instead of a divided one.
The man known as Noah, received a message through the wind, that a great flood was coming to stop the bickering of the angels. He was to build an arc and carry a coupling of each animal species upon it until the waters receded, in order to save the planet from ruin.
The head of the black cloth heard of Noah’s plan and was immediately suspicious, and went to Noah.
“Noah…I understand you believe the earth will peril in a watery death. You are not of angelic decent and have no right to place fear into the hearts of my people…..I am and that is my doing. I demand you stop this foolishness and join me. You could be a wonderful addition to the black cloth. I could make you renowned beyond your wildest expectations.”
Noah answered with a fearful tone,
“N..n..no thank you. I must follow my beliefs and build the structure needed to sustain life.”
The angel of the black cloth left frustrated yet pitied the poor man.
The angel of the white cloth also visited Noah.
“Master Noah, I have heard the news and wish to ask if we may be of any assistance. We have differences in beliefs but still you cannot build a mammoth arc by yourself. Please, let us help, and during that time we may find common ground to strengthen each other beliefs.”
Noah returned his request with a compassionate reply,
“I do thank you for your offer, but I must deny approval. I must complete the task on my own and take only the passengers who believe in the prophesy from the wind”
The Angel of the white cloth left Noah, confused by his denying help yet pitied the poor man for thinking anyone who wasn’t an animal would believe this “prophesy”.
As the years went by, the arc continued to be built. The animals were preparing for the voyage, the angels of the black and white cloth continued to vie for dominance of belief.
Noah was looked at by both sides as a fool.
When the rains began to fall and the animals began to board. The land began to disappear. Both sides of the Angel factions went to Noah again.
“Noah, we must be allowed passage in your craft.” They both pleaded.
“I am sorry to you both, but, the specifications of the craft will not allow it. After all the animals have boarded, I will have room for 2 sets of small creatures. One set may be white and one black, to represent both of your beliefs but that is all that will fit. I will not bend in that request. If you wish to be represented and not perish with the flood you must act quickly.”
The leaders of each cloth returned to their followers to decide a plan of action.
Each group were stout in their belief that the waters would recede before the land was gone but to be sure that their beliefs would carry on, if all was lost, the 2 most prominent members transformed themselves into small winged creatures.
Wings and flight made perfect sense. It allowed them to board the arc as animals yet separated themselves from the four legged creatures that they were forced to share the ride with.
The angels of the black cloth chose the crow as their vessel.
The angels of the white cloth chose the dove as their vessel.
Both sets of birds glided into the arc just as it rose off the ground.
Noah greeted his winged passengers and placed them in cages to insure safe passage.
“Whoa…whoa…whoa..” Angel said interrupting the story.
“You are telling me that Angels didn’t fly until the biblical arc?”
The man in the grey suit plainly replied,
“What I am telling you….is the history of events as I had been told. Much like every other story…ever told…the truth lies somewhere in the middle between the absurd and the real. You are not here to verify the truth of the story…you are here to make your choice after I am done telling the story.”
With that short interaction…the story continued.
It seemed like an eternity that the rains fell. Eventually, they did stop.
Noah stood on the bow and gazed out across the waters hoping to see a glimmer of land.
He saw none.
He went to the cages of his winged passengers to ask for help.
“The rains have stopped. The best way to find land will be to set you free….one in each direction of the compass. I ask you to fly as far as you can. If land is found, please return with a twig from the direction of your flight to guide us to imminent safety. I will leave you to make your decision.”
The crows made their decision first.
“We will find land and bring you to it but only if you decide to follow our beliefs. We are larger and stronger than the doves and could cover more ground in less time. We are your only choice.”
The doves then made their decision known.
“We will do our best to find land. You provided us safe passage and we wish to provide the same.”
Noah looked respectively at both cages and opened the dove cage.
The doves exited their cage, bowed their heads to Noah and spread their wings to fly.
The crows clawed and cawed at the cage angry that they were not chosen.
Noah left them to continue their rage.
Weeks past with no sign of the doves.
Finally on a cool full mooned night, Noah caught a glimpse of a single white dove in the distance.
The bird returned with a single twig.
Dry land was near.
Upon docking of the arc on the banks of the shore, Noah opened up the doors of the raft and let the animals exit.
Each animal thanked him…except the crows who angrily cawed and flew away.
Shortly after, Noah died and awoke in this place.
He was met by the white dove that did not return with a twig.
The dove transformed back into the angel of the white cloth and spoke.
“You have taught me much of the power of choice and belief. I wish to reward you by giving you the opportunity to help me. Once a human has passed…his work is not done. They must help the next generation succeed in progressing to the next level of civilized unity. Everyone will die….but not everyone will be up to task of going back. We will present them with a choice. The choice being to fight for the advancement of the human race or to gain flight. Nothing more. The deeds of their life will decide if they are to be a crow or a dove in flight…that will be a choice that is made for them.”
“Are you telling me that you are Noah?” Angel asked as he sat up in his chair.
The man in the grey suit sighed and replied,
“No. What I am telling you that through the passage of time I came here by way of my untimely death by gunshot and was told a story and given a choice. Most are not told the story. They just have a choice.”
Angel curled his brow in confusion,
“So….why me? Is it because we have a few gunshot wounds in common?”
The man in grey smiled.
“No young man. The fact that our deaths are similar and our names are the same means nothing but coincidence. I chose to tell you the story because our beliefs are the same and for whatever reason, neither of us was on the list of the deceased upon arriving……I have told you all I can tell you. Please choose your transition…..fight…or flight.”
Angel sat back into his seat and took in all that the man in grey had to offer.
And then made his choice.
To continue on to the conclusion…..press “here”
Photo from-deviant art