A Confession About The Secrets We Share

Yeah, I have secrets. Not just one, two or three but somewhere close to a hundred. Not sure how or why it happened, but I know that it did.

Some of it is just because of how I was raised and some of it is just how it works, life that is.

People have secrets, even those who say they don’t really do. They might not realize it but if you ask the right questions you’ll stumble upon them.

Most of my secrets aren’t really important. You wouldn’t call them important but for the request of another. They are secrets I share.

Perhaps the reason they aren’t important to me is because they aren’t mine. Maybe it is a mischaracterization to lay claim to them. Maybe it is more accurate to provide a different answer.

I don’t really know and I don’t think it matters. I keep them because they are important to the people who asked me to put them in my vault. Those requests come from people I love and hold close to my heart so I treat their secrets like my own.

But the few secrets I call my own are big. They are huge and at times they have made me wonder what I got myself into.

There is one that sits in the middle of the ring that Frost wrote about. It stares at me with eyes that cut through the poker face I try to maintain.

It demands my attention and asks for a declaration of intention. This is not something I can just ignore or forget. It requires more because to pretend it didn’t exist is to dishonor it and that I cannot do.

For a long while I have ignored my gut and the knowledge that one day the secret would break free of the shackles I placed upon it and force me to face it.

I don’t want to say I am afraid of it because fear is a weakness and men don’t like to be weak.

Yet the only way to figure out why it bothers me is to look at it during the daylight hours. The day is coming when I’ll do that and then we’ll find out if what I sense is real and discover if I am going to end up where I always suspected I would be.

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It is hard to imagine it going any other way than that but not for lack of imagination or effort.

I did my part to keep my side of the street clean and dedicated my efforts to tending the garden we planted but sometimes life has other plans.

Don’t ask me to tell if it is fate, karma or coincidence because the how and why don’t matter as much as the what.

There are some things that you can’t ever outrun.

Some Stains Can’t Be Washed Away

More than twenty years later I am lying in the dark holding the phone in my hand listening to your voice- wondering how you found my number and why you called.

My heart is pounding and my mouth is dry. I feel like my tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth.

“I am in trouble and I need your help. They’re back.”

And then the other memories hit me like a torrent of water and I remember why I had to walk away from the woman I planned to marry.

Twenty-five years ago the boys and I graduated from college and decided to travel around the world.

We started in London and gradually made our way through Europe and hop scotched around a couple of continents flipping between Asia and Africa.

The plan was to follow our hearts and go wherever they took us, regardless of whether it made sense. Logic was for school and since we were out of school we ignored it. Took a freighter one direction and then hopped on a plane in the reverse two days later.

Time was meaningless and so was money.

That was because of my friend The Duke. His real name was Chadwick, but he preferred to be called Chad.

It is a tossup as to whether he hated being called The Duke more than he disliked being called Chadwick.

The Duke came from old money. He grew up on a monstrous estate and lived a life out of a movie. His graduation gift was control of a trust worth in excess of $100 million.

So money wasn’t a problem and neither was time. The only real problem we had was that we were young dumb and stupid,

Took a trip to city in Thailand called Phuket only because it looked to us like it was pronounced “Fuck It.”

Our time in “Fuck It” was punctuated with lots of moments that should have gotten us arrested. Somehow the members of the great fraternity of young, dumb and stupid managed to avoid those particular problems.

Things didn’t get crazy until we were in Paris. It had to be Paris. I didn’t like the city, didn’t want to be there and would have happily skipped it.

But Young, Dumb and Stupid was overruled by the power of the penis. Yep, young horny men met girls and got dumber, or maybe I should spell it dumberer because it was really bad.

I still have the letter that started it all. A handwritten note with flowing cursive letters and heart dotted ‘I’s sent by the girl who Chadwick swore would be his.

If the jerk hadn’t been thinking with his dick he might still be here to help me figure out what to do now.

This letter is a stain that I want to wash away, but I can’t. I had just begun to believe that maybe it was over but now I see I was wrong.

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I dumped a trunk somewhere under the desert sky and now I need to find it.

 

Need to find it because I need to confirm that what was intentionally lost will never be found. Need to find it to confirm that it cannot be found.

Part of me can’t help but laugh out loud because I said this would happen. I knew that it was a mistake and now I want to kick myself for not forcing the issue way back when.

I let them convince me that I was being paranoid and that the desert knew how to keep a secret.

It is possible they were right.

It is possible they are still right but the problem is we can’t say with the sort of certainty that would make me comfortable that it is true.

And now a quarter century later when I have a 1000 times more to lose than I did then I have to figure out where my loyalties lie and decide what to do.

The funny part is that I don’t have to ask the question because I know what the answer is. The choices I made then aren’t bound or restricted by…anything.

There is no statute of limitations to rely upon.

And even if I were willing to think of hiding that is not an option.

Guess I better find my passport and start thinking real hard about what comes next because when it comes it will come in a hurry.

Parts and pieces of this story were originally published here and here.

The Hijinks & Shenanigans Of Angry Lost Lovers

There is a long history here, one that is deeper and more complex than meets the eye or so I used to think.

And then one day I sat down and listened to Ray sing his song and it hit me that it didn’t have to be as complicated as it seemed.

It only had to be as complicated as two people who said they loved each other would let it be.

But the thing was, or is that we let it become complicated. We took something that had a couple of wrinkles and maybe a small knot and let it grow harder and more difficult.

And then when you cut me free, told me it was done and over I tried hard to accept it. Tried hard to just let go and move on but something never let me walk away the way I wanted to.

Something made me hold back and then I discovered what it was.

We weren’t done.

For a long while I refused to believe it. Refused to accept that there was anything left but pain and anger, did my best to feed that fire because anger makes it easy to stay away.

But it didn’t work and thus it didn’t happen, walking away that is.

Instead I found myself sitting across from you, staring at you, trying to figure out how I could simultaneously be so angry and so attracted.

You refused to kiss me that night, but within a week we found each other’s lips and we…remembered.

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We remembered. We found each other again. We got each other back and swore that this time it would go the distance.

The Chance You Should Have Taken

That is how I looked at the very beginning, how I thought about those early days.

It is a massive and major regret of mine, that I didn’t do what my heart told me to do because I let fear guide me.

But I moved on past that because I can’t live out what might have been and I can’t go back in time to change it.

So I pushed back against the memories and did my best to move on, did my best to try to walk away.

Yet I ended up where I didn’t expect to be and that is how we ended up sitting across from each other.

That is how we ended up wrapped in each other’s arms promising that this time we would make it happen.

Heaven and earth moved, the angels applauded and then the devil got between us…again.

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Sometimes I look at the water between the lonely tree and I and think if I can figure out how to cross it I can get back to you.

Because if I get back to you, well you’ll push me away a time or two because it is the right thing to do and then you won’t.

You’ll kiss me and we’ll remember and we’ll go on from there.

We’ll find our way and figure it out because it is who we are. When our fingers are intertwined we know we are an unstoppable force.

It is only when they are separated that we forget and fading memories make it easy to pretend it was never as good or as real as we knew and know it to be.

My heart tells me it is not false hope or foolishness to believe or look forward to.

My brain says if it says if it is meant to be then it shall be. It says you don’t have to work for love.

But my heart disagrees, my heart says sometimes you have to work for the opportunity and then you just water the garden love grows in.

Brain says to never listen to a broken heart because they cannot be trusted, but heart disagrees.

Maybe it is because I have loved you for as long as I can remember and even when I probably should have let go, probably should have given up… I didn’t.

Remember the day I said I don’t love you, I fucking love you.

I do, because I remember the smile and how you said you do too.

And I remember you making me promise to never let go and how I agreed.

And so here we are…apart.

Maybe forever, maybe not.

Heart and head, at odds…again.

Editor’s Notes: Technically this ran on Medium first.

I published it the same day I wrote You Should Slap The Devil & Sleep With His Wife. It is another version of a story I have been working on.

Since my Medium blog isn’t self hosted I figured I ought to run it here too so that I could make sure it is backed up and saved.

You Should Slap The Devil & Sleep With His Wife

There is a strange dichotomy that lies between trying to bare your soul online without sharing all of the skeletons that make you look like a raging asshole in dire need of anger management.

Don’t know where this post will take me or what sort of truths I may or may not let loose, I can only tell you that I just popped open a single bottle of Shiner Bock and that it will be the only alcohol to pass through my lips tonight.

*****

Have you ever noticed how you can take an instant like or dislike to a person based solely upon a split second look at or introduction to them?

Well there is a pasty-faced fellow who is about two years younger than I am, a guy that I really only know of and about that fits that bill.

It might not be right or fair of me to feel like I could improve his appearance by kicking him in the teeth and punching him in the throat but that is just what his stupid looking expression brings out of me.

I have more than his “is so pale he would be sunburnt in a cave” looking face to help me feel like I could do a better job on him than any plastic surgeon.

Yeah, I have a solid reason for wanting to demonstrate what it means to get this kind of special attention from me but I am not going to share that here.

Not going to give you more specifics because if you have any ability to feel the energy radiate off of a page you already are blanching and if you can’t, well consider this one man’s hyperbolic expression.

I Just Wanted To Make You Jealous

Got my beer sitting next to one of the meaty paws I call hands, headphones streaming Ray Charle and Count Basie singing Come Live With Me and in just a moment they’ll move onto their cover of The Long and Winding Road.

Images of a girl/woman I once knew float through my mind, her voice telling me how she just wanted to make me jealous and the fire that flowed through my veins because of that.

A mix of frustration and pure anger knowing how and why she was trying to manipulate me and the awareness of how badly I wanted to rip him apart for getting in between.

Frustration with myself because what I knew I should and must do required more self-control than normal.

You see, I knew she wanted my attention, wanted a particular response but didn’t quite understand that in this particular instance it would set me on fire.

And I knew that if I was face-to-face with him there was a chance I would manhandle him in the kind of way no man ever wants to be handled.

He would be a rag doll and I would be the bear.

I never saw him. Never met him. Never spoke with him.

It was intentional.

I wanted to be angry with her.

Wanted to show her my back as I walked away. No response and no reaction for her.

She would learn the hard way I wouldn’t tolerate any of that nonsense, except I couldn’t be angry, at least not for any length of time.

I loved her far too much and the idea of just walking was more painful than saying we could work through whatever hiccup we had encountered.

So I sent her a note, thanking her for breaking my heart multiple times and for proving women weren’t to be trusted.

She told me I overreacted.

I told her not to try and make herself feel better by saying my feelings weren’t valid.

“I loved you before. I love you today and I’ll love you tomorrow. But I hurt. I ache and I burn. Maybe that is my fate. Maybe it is not. I don’t care. Don’t take advantage of my love. I see and know more than I say. You’re worth it, even when you are a giant pain in my ass.”

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You Should Slap The Devil & Sleep With His Wife

They wrote about a song about my friend Johnny and what happened when the devil got bored and decided he might con him into taking a bet he couldn’t win but they never told you about what happened when Old Scratch decided to match wits with me.

Never told you about how someone suggested I should slap the stupid out of Lucifer and sleep with his wife.

Nah, they don’t share that kind of tale with you because it is not the kind of thing you want your children to imitate.

Nor would they present me as the standard role model of good character and fine moral standing because I don’t fit their very particular standards.

Of course if you want someone who knows how to get things done, a guy who can move the needle, dance in the fire and walk through a storm well then I am him.

But most people don’t want to open Pandora’s Box and discover that it is empty because all that crap they fear getting loose already walks among them.

You’re probably curious how I know this to be true and the answer is simple. I opened the damn box.

Yeah, I popped that sucker open and took a hard look and confirmed what I already suspected.

Fragments Of Fiction

If you read all that came before this and are still here I’ll say congratulations and offer to shake your hand but I won’t tell you what is fact and what is fiction.

This piece doesn’t follow the conventional design nor is it supposed to be interpreted as modern art. There is no symbolism here, at least not intentional.

What I can confirm is sometimes I need this to serve as a mind dump. It is why I opened up the Medium blog and why sometimes I just empty out the proverbial closet onto the page.

It is part of a concerted effort to find out what I really think and believe.

I tell my children to work on understanding who they are, what they believe and why they believe it.

I want them to try to understand why they act as they do because I think it will help but it won’t change certain parts of life.

Doesn’t matter if you understand why you love or why you ache because the heart doesn’t respond like the brain.

Won’t matter if you get all of the science between heart and head because we’re not made to be automatons.

But it might help them get through some of the hard times with less stress…maybe.

And it might help them laugh, love and live a little bit harder and longer. That ought to be worth something.

Love Between The Lines

The great loves of our lives change us.

Sometimes they make us into bigger and better people than we once were because their faith in our abilities is so unshakable we don’t question whether we can reach that next rung.

And sometimes they break our hearts and leave us wondering if there was really a time when we could feel the warmth of the sun upon our backs and laugh wholeheartedly.

The common mythology makes some of us long for love at first sight because it makes for a great story.

“The moment I saw her I knew I would never want to be with another man/woman.”

But not me, I never cared or needed that.

Maybe it is because the few great loves of my life were unsought and unexpected.

They caught me off guard and unaware and blew me away. They taught me things about life and myself I never could have otherwise learned.

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The most important things I know about sex, love and true intimacy came from those experiences.

The knowledge that if you truly gave your heart to someone they could level you and make you feel like the lowliest worm was eye opening.

I never believed such a thing was possible. It had sounded like the hyperbolic claims of writers of cheap romance novels and weak people.

And then I was one of those…weak people.

Heartbroken, confused and lonely, unsure of what had happened but aware that something had.

Time passed and I figured out how to put my heart back together and learned to enjoy the sunlight and laughter.

I figured that I would take some time off from the whole love thing, I’d have fun and it wouldn’t be a big deal because I wasn’t in any rush.

Love would come again…one day, long from then and I’d deal with it when it happened.

But then it happened faster and sooner than expected, can’t say how much sooner ‘cuz I hadn’t mapped it out.

Hadn’t tried to really plan it out, just figured it would be a while.

Unsought and unexpected I was ensnared again.

“We were together. I forget the rest.”
― Walt Whitman

If you haven’t been there you might not understand it. You might not realize that it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do it together.

You might not understand the ache that comes from separation and how silly you both feel because you are old enough to know better because you have loved and been in love before.

Sometimes in the quiet moments you look at each other and ask in a soft voice if it sounds stupid to say it feels as magical as the first time, but better because you appreciate it more.

And this time, this even more surprising and more unexpected time you decide you are going to go for it, you are going to lay your soul completely bare and give them the chance to really wreck you.

Because you know from experience how magical it is and figure that you don’t get that many turns at bat so you need to live and love hard.

But it has to be now, not later, but now because life is fickle and shit happens so you don’t know, cannot know what might happen.

You share more poetry, that of those who are considered masters.

“Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you/ That you may be my poem/ I whisper with my lips close to your ear/ I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.” ― Walt Whitman

As well as a few words by someone who never says aloud but secretly hopes that maybe one day he’ll be considered such as well.

So he’ll whisper the words and hope that a soft warm wind will send them into the ears of those who will best appreciate them and say he dared to fly higher than Icarus.

Dared to rise to the places where the sun might melt his wings because the hope and promise of past moments might be enough to make the fall that would come less painful.

And when that fall came, it took a while to dust himself off.

When he decided to stand again he figured it was best to remember the lessons and smile at the memories.

No reason to do more than that.
The Lonely Blogger

And though he was ready to just walk away his heart refused to accept what was fed to his ears.

Heart and head battled for a while until he came across an old story and remembered.

Reasoned

“I never should have kissed her. The memory of her damn lips and that electric spark….”

He walked off into the sunshine not knowing what he was going to do but knowing exactly what he wouldn’t.

He wouldn’t just forget and wouldn’t just pretend that nothing had happened.

You may not know when love starts but you always know when it is really over and when it is not.

Editor’s Note: A short while ago I decided to start a blog on Medium because I heard it can be an effective tool not just for writing, but for promoting our work.

Since I am an advocate of learning by doing I have tested it  by putting out some original content there, that is how Love Between The Lines was created. I took 15 minutes and wrote this story, but used a different headline.

I am also using Medium as a place to test out headlines and small changes in my content so if you were to read posts over there you might recognize them from their time here but with the small changes I mentioned.

Not to mention that since I don’t want to be a digital sharecropper I make a point to include posts I have written elsewhere here.

The 983rd Greatest Story Ever Told

time and loveI could hear the echo of my father’s voice inside my head, “Boys don’t ever hit girls.”

He ignored my protests and told me he didn’t care what my sister had done. It didn’t matter if she hit me first or what she used. I was a boy. We weren’t allowed to fight back that way.

I told him again it wasn’t fair and he shrugged his shoulders at me. “We are bigger and stronger. Use your words to settle things. They will.”

He was right and so was I. Thirty-seven years ago they didn’t fight fair and they still don’t now.

I suppose the big difference between then and now is that it was much easier as a young boy to look at them as “annoying people” whose sole purpose was to bother boys.

Puberty changed all that. Those “annoying people” cast a magic spell on me and suddenly I went from not noticing any of them to having trouble focusing in school.

Hormonal overdrive and young love kept me from recognizing the kind of trouble that lack of focus could get you into.

But I found out.

Her name was Tammy. She was a tall blonde with bright green eyes and an electric smile. At 14 she was two or three inches taller than I was and quick to lord it over me.

She spent our freshman year of high school doing her best to tease and torment me. I tried to give it back to her and almost got my head taken off.

I don’t remember exactly what I said but I remember she was angry. When I told her she was acting like my sister she lost it. She stopped talking to me. When we passed each other in the halls she just looked through me, it was like I didn’t exist.

You would think that I would have appreciated the respite from the teasing and the incessant comments about my height, but I didn’t.

We didn’t speak again until November of the following year and to this day I can’t tell you if she even noticed, but I did.

Her refusal to speak made me so angry that I walked over to her. “You aren’t as special as you think you are!”

She just laughed, “look who finally grew.”

Until she mentioned it I hadn’t noticed that I was finally taller than she was. That wasn’t

I wanted to yell at her again but that laughter and the smile that accompanied it took the fight right out of me.

We went on our first date two weeks later and three months after that we lost our virginity in her aunt’s pool house.

It was young love and a healthy dose of young lust.

Her father almost put the fear of god into us. He came home early one day and surprised us.

We heard him and I tried to jump out of bed, but Tammy was fearless. She told me to relax and said there was plenty of time.

That became our line and our little joke. Life was filled with plenty of time and much laughter.

When it came time to go to college we ended up attending different universities. Neither one of us was worried about our relationship. We thought it was strong enough to survive anything, but we were wrong.

I don’t know when she slept with him or how many times she did but I know it happened. I wasn’t blameless either.

The girl I hooked up with was just as tall as Tammy and had those long legs that I loved, except she was a brunette with dark eyes. The moment I kissed her I knew that things had to go farther and that something else was dying, but hormones don’t care about relationships.

Within six months or so we had both acknowledged that it was time to go our separate ways.

It was painful but also somewhat exhilarating. Tammy and I had done almost everything a couple could do together and I was excited to be with other women.

That 18 year-old boy felt like a kid in a candy shop and for a while I really enjoyed it, but I noticed very quickly that these girls didn’t respond like Tammy did.

She would do anything and they wouldn’t. Hindsight makes it easy to recognize that love was the difference but that kid didn’t know it.

By that time Tammy and I rarely spoke and if we did we usually found ourselves fighting but it wasn’t like those days in high school.

Eventually we just stopped talking.

Five years passed and then I ran into her at a New Year’s Eve party. At midnight we kissed and it was like no time had passed.

Thirty-five minutes later we walked into my apartment and stayed there for three days.

Two days later she left for a two-year Peace Corps assignment in Africa. When she kissed me goodbye she said she loved me, laughed and told me not to worry because there was plenty of time.

She never wrote me.

Twenty-five years passed and the silence continued. We were just a memory.

Last week there was a knock at the door and I saw a beautiful blonde standing on my porch. It was like being transported in time, there was my Tammy, except it wasn’t.

She said her name was Heather and asked to come inside.

“My mom said if something happened to her I should find you. Her name was Tammy and I think you might be my dad.”

“What do you mean her name was Tammy?”

Her eyes filled with tears and so did mine. I guess we never did have plenty of time.

Important Moments
I wrote the story above this picture a few years ago during a period of time when I had far more time on my hands than I do now.

People have asked me more than once if it is a true story.

My answer to the question is always no but every now and then someone insists that I be honest with them so I admit it is truth and then wait for the 298 other questions that follow and make up more answers.

Yeah, I am bad that way.

If I give you an answer and you don’t accept it and continue to engage I am quite likely to decide to use my imagination to mess with you.

It is a bit juvenile but if you push me after I have responded then you might deserve what you get or maybe that is just a poor way of rationalizing bad behavior.

But I will also share this, parts and pieces of that story are based upon experiences I have had with some of my former…flames.

Her eyes filled with tears and so did mine. I guess we never did have plenty of time.Click To Tweet

I haven’t had enough time to write the way I want to write. All I have had is time to place a few words down upon the page and though it has helped me scratch the itch it hasn’t fed the demon that lives inside.

That beast is hungry and he requires far more fodder.

Ever since I saw the trailer for Suicide Squad I have heard I Started A Joke playing in my head. Not the Bee Gees version but the one from the video.

Music is often a trigger/inspiration for my fiction and it is always tied into my work. In a perfect world I would write my stories and use various songs to help illustrate the tell I want to tell without concern of having to pay for the rights to it.

And of course I would be paid to write these stories, but I digress.

The 983rd Greatest Story Ever Told

I have mentioned a few times that my teenager is growing like a weed and that he is as my mother would say, feeling his oats.

My little man makes me smile with some of the goofy crap he pulls partly because I remember doing the same thing and partly because he is so damn happy when he does it.

There is a lightness about his being that I just love.

Early this evening he took that lightness and jumped on my back and tried to pull me to the floor. I laughed and told him he had only received a partial share of his Steiner Strength and told him until he gets the full dose he has no shot at winning.

And then for good measure I used only my left arm and won our match. I almost switched to the right so I could use the Princess Bride line about smiling because I am not left handed but we didn’t have much time and I wanted to talk to him about life.

Mainly I wanted to remind him to be willing to take chances and to try not to be afraid to step outside of his comfort zone.

“Dad, give me an example of what you mean.”

“I didn’t want to move to Texas. I wanted to stay with what I knew. Some of it was because I was afraid of change and some because I felt like I was being chased away and I don’t get pushed out or run from people or things.”

We went back and forth for a bit longer and he asked me what I think about my current job. I was honest and said that even though I am good at it, this is not what I want to be doing.

“If I told you why, it might bore you. It is only the 983rd greatest story ever told.

Why Not Dad?

The answer to that was simple.

We think we have plenty of time but we never really know for certain if we do.

If we look at our lives as being similar to the arc of a rocket ship mine is probably close to the highest point it will reach and then after a bit it will start to point downwards.

I don’t know how long I have before that happens so I prefer to make the most of my time and not make the mistake of the past of thinking I had endless amounts.

Sure, I can always start over. I can pivot, step left right, duck and then jump over the fire pit. Hell if I fall in it I can always dance in the fire but it doesn’t mean it is smart.

So I am doing my best to set things up so that I can live the kind of life I want to live. It is really not all that different from how I want to write or blog.

It Is What A Blog Should Be is very similar to the philosophy I try to live my life by.

I follow my drummer and dance to the beat I hear in my head. I hope my kids do the same and that they recognize the truth in old Doc Graham’s quote.

If you aren’t living the way you want to live do something about it because you never know when the last tick will tock.