I'm sort of in the process of just working on what is speaking to me at a particular moment. That's very common for me right now. --Bruce Springsteen, January 9th, 2014

Thursday, March 2, 2017

"Triumph"

Blogging Friends.... To quote Bruce Springsteen.... Is there anybody alive out there?! Have you, my dear Blogging Friends, ever wondered about me, about this little Blog, about where I've been all this time? Seriously.... Is there anybody alive out there?! I am now awaiting an eruption of thunderous cheering from all across the Internet.... Well.... It works for Bruce's fanatics at his shows, anyway!! Nah.... You, Blogging Friends, have probably no doubt forgotten all about me.... About my fictional stories.... And walked on, moving forward with your lives. Which is all my fault. Yes, yes, I have dropped off the face of the Internet planet, become a loner and I've gone into hiding. I also took an unplanned break from creating fictional stories.... For the most part. So.... Where have I been all this time? Well.... On January 16th, 2016, I went down to The River.... Yeah.... It was only going to be one day, one The River-themed Bruce Springsteen Workout {in an effort to avoid Self-Pity} not about ten months {in total}, not 89 The River Challenges {in total}!! Well.... On February 25th, 2017, I tackled my very last The River Challenge.... And.... Yesterday, I relived The River Challenge by tackling a Born In The USA/The River-themed Bruce Springsteen Workout!! Anyway.... This deeply personal, metaphor/analogy-filled emotionally autobiographical fictional story will explain everything.... It is The River Challenge 2016 'in a nutshell'!! Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive, Raelyn

Note Number One.... You know what? Comebacks can be a funny thing. Oh, 'Triumph'.... I have worked on, edited and 'tinkered' with this 'comeback story', like, ten thousand times.... Or more. It's not exaggerating in any way, shape or form to say that 'Triumph' is my most edited fictional story.... Ever!! This is actually my second completely different version of 'Triumph'!! Well.... Not counting my 'Blog version'!! You know.... Like Bruce has twain completely different recorded versions of 'The River', for example? And I've never done that before!! I have even since set 'Triumph' aside and I've since written four--going on five--fictional stories!! More to come!! Because, yes, I am creating fictional stories again!!

Note Number Two.... This story was completely unplanned.... Just like The River Challenge!! Actually.... I somehow managed to write it during The River Challenge last year. This is basically a true story.... Bruce did arrive in 'my hometown' for a show.... Then, on February 20th, 2016, after Reality hit--hard--that I could not attend his concert, I finally crashed and burned {emotionally, mentally, spiritually} and then I was suddenly in the mood for a Born To Run-themed Bruce Springsteen Workout!! Honestly? I cried, like, the entire time. Weirdest. Bruce. Springsteen. Workout. Ever. And that is saying a hell of a lot!! However. It was also one of my most healing--one of my most unforgettable--Bruce Springsteen Workouts ever!! And that is saying a hell of a lot, too!! I felt everything--each word, each verse, each song lyric--like I'd never, ever, done before. Lookin' back now? I absolutely realize that I was in the mood for Born To Run {yes, yes, on an impulsive whim} because I needed to escape, I needed to get away, I needed to hightail it out of here..... Emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Enjoy....

Note Number Three.... Yes, I know that 'Lucky Town' has absolutely nothing none whatsoever to do with 'The River'. However. On February 16th, 2016, I chose 'Lucky Town' as my closing song for that day's The River Challenge!! Little did I know? That 'Lucky Town' would be such a sentimental, symbolic, therapeutic and healing song!!

Note Number Four.... I just learned that today is #WorldBookDay!! It's actually trending on Twitter!! So here is a shout-out to Bruce, whose memoir, Born To Run--the biggest damn book that I ever read in my entire Life--officially made this self-proclaimed non-reader a reader!! Ah.... I think he would like to hear that!! Now will you excuse me.... I have some reading to do on #WorldBookDay!!

"Triumph"

Lucky Town. I went down to that emotional, mental, psychological place {on Tuesday, February 16th, 2016} my one month anniversary of when I started this wild, crazy, insane, unplanned, adventure, journey, quest and time travel to 1980!! Let me explain. See, I had recently learned {on January 27th, 2016} that Bruce Springsteen was potentially adding 'my hometown'--also known as our beautiful, oft rainy, green Pacific Northwest--to his The River 2016 Tour dates. And it had officially been confirmed just four days ago {on February 12th, 2016} when concert tickets were being sold Online for $150.00 that I would be unable to afford any, amongst other obstacles. Sadly. Meanwhile, I have been hip swaying, dancing and cutting loose to epic, marathon, five hour-long The River-themed Bruce Springsteen Workouts every single time when he performs a show.... Which in total lasted about ten months!!

This is always an intimidating, arduous, exciting 'mountain climb'!!

The River Challenge. That is what I affectingly call these Bruce Springsteen Workouts. But.... What is The River Challenge, exactly? Well.... It is my self-serving mission trip, because somewhere along this journey, God has taught me {through Bruce's beautiful, profound, poetic, brilliant, well-written songwriting} that I possess a heart of stone which definitely needs softened. Such as comparing myself to others, and, as resulted, feeling envious/jealous toward particular people. Yes, yes, I am a sinner with faults, with flaws, with character defects. But I also suffer from what I call 'mood swing-infused pity parties'. It will be an actual clinical diagnosis someday. Just wait. I can suffer from Self-Pity issues. I am sometimes a moody, irritable, agitated, brooding, edgy jerk.

For Bruce--based on my own observation--writes about characters who possess hearts of stones in his songs an awful lot!!

The River Challenge is.... Well.... Challenging.... In every single sense of the word!! Physically challenging? Check!! Mentally challenging? Check!! Emotionally challenging? Check!! Spiritually challenging? Check!! The River Challenge is my ultimate therapy session.... Which happen regularly. For, in an effort to avoid 'mood swing-infused pity parties' {as best as humanly possible} because I cannot attend even one The River Tour 2016 show {which will eventually all add up to seventy-five concerts!! Eighty-nine, if you include 2017!!} I dance!! Because, that much is within my control!!

For to quote Bruce from his song, 'Thundercrack'.... Dance with me, partner, dance with me, partner, dance with me, partner, all night; All night; All night; All night....

Lucky Town. It is not an actual, literal, real place. I can't find 'Lucky Town' on the map. No, it is not a city in New Jersey!! Or anywhere on the East coast, for that matter!! Because Lucky Town is a state of mind. In my own deeply personal experience? There is always forgiveness, there are always second chances, there is always redemption!! But I have to work on it. In Lucky Town, there are happy endings, new beginnings and lots of love!! But I have to work on it. Lucky Town is a place where I can find happiness and contentment.... Right here, right now, right where I am!! But I have to work on it. Lucky Town is eternally within my heart, within my soul, within my mind. It's beautiful, it's healing, it's welcoming!! Lucky Town is like a community {it's obviously an imaginary, creative place} where this learning disabled, misfit, different, freak, obsessed 'Bruce Springsteen lover'--I mean, fangirl--finally belongs!!

And I saw Lucky Town, because I traveled there!!

But then.... I crashed and burned my beautiful sky blue-painted motorcycle--I named her 'Triumph'--on 2-20. Yes, in Lucky Town. Saturday, February 20th, 2016 just so happens to be the date of when I crashed and burned 'Triumph'. Oh yeah.... 2-20 is also a dangerous, germ-infested, busy, litter-covered, noisy, graffiti-decorated, potholed, homeless people-residing, filthy highway. Yikes!! My sky blue-painted motorcycle crash left me severely, emotionally, and mentally injured, with psychological bruises, with an incredibly broken heart, with a bloodied soul. But I never fractured any bones. Why? Because I am impossible to break!! Therefore, I did not even bother driving toward emergency, urgent care or my doctor's office. Oh yeah....

I am also still alive--somehow--because I'm hard to kill!!
 
 "What happened?!" I thought aloud, "I do not know. It happened so fast, so sudden, so unexpectedly!!"

I had been riding on one long, cosmic The River Challenge high to another. It could be scheduled for two {or, quite often, three} days a week. Now, this can feel quite emotional, mental and psychological. Some in good, positive ways.... Others in bad, negative ways. I had been riding 'Triumph' at an extremely risky one hundred miles per hour. So it was completely inevitable that I would eventually crash and burn. Right? It was totally expected. Right? I probably should not have felt shocked, surprised or blindsided by it at all. Right?

But I did.

"What happened?!" I repeated, "I have no idea. I was handling being unable to afford attending Bruce's show in the Pacific Northwest--which would have been my very first time--so well!! Seriously?! I had even impressed myself!!"

I was uncharacteristically mature, I was uncharacteristically grown up, I was uncharacteristically rational.... None of which comes easily--or naturally--to this self-proclaimed Drama Queen!! I was doing so good!! And what shocked me the most? This hopeful optimist--this delusional daydreamer--was even uncharacteristically thinking, acting and being realistic!! Me!! Wait a minute. I went down to Lucky Town on February 16th, 2016.... But then I crashed and burned 'Triumph' just four days later?!

What on Earth happened?!

"I wish I knew...." I said, "I thought that in Lucky Town, there would always be warm sunshine, clear blue skies and beautiful multi-colored rainbows!! I guess I was wrong about this extremely dirty, shabby, unpleasant place...."

However. Beautiful, multi-colored rainbows do not happen without dark, gloomy clouds. Clear blue skies don't occur sans loud, incredible, somewhat frightening thunder and lightning shows. Warm sunshine doesn't happen without pouring rain or hailstorms. Not from where I was born and raised--the Pacific Northwest--anyway. And in order to be resilient--truly resilient--you have to fall first. I absolutely, wholeheartedly, one-hundred percent believe that!! For resilience doesn't come sans crashing and burning 'Triumph' first.

I absolutely, wholeheartedly, one-hundred percent believe that!!

For Life is a combination of both happiness and sorrow. This existence has its share of broken, shattered, unobtainable dreams. Life is a combination of good times and bad. This existence is filled to the maximum with disappointments, missed opportunities, chances. But it is how you deal with Life's dark, gloomy clouds.... This existence's thunder and lightning storms.... Life's rain. With courage, with strength, with resilience. It is how you handle Life's happiness and sorrow.... This existence's broken, shattered, unobtainable dreams.... Life's disappointments, missed opportunities, chances.

You triumph over them and move forward as best as humanly possible!!

"What happened?!" I said once more.

I gingerly lie poor, busted up 'Triumph' into the bed of my 'old' 1970's baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck. I then drove her toward a mechanic shop so that she could--hopefully--be repaired. Yes, in Lucky Town. I gave the mechanics my cell-phone number--575-7575--to call me after they fixed 'Triumph'. I was frightened.... I felt completely confused.... I was all alone. So I hopped back into my 'old' 1970's baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck and I left Lucky Town.

I completely abandoned that dreadful, terrible, extremely dirty, shabby, unpleasant place.

"I am busting out of here!!" I declared, as I rolled down the window and let the wind blow back my hair, "I'm breaking free!!"

"Wendy, let me in, I wanna be your friend, I wanna guard your dreams and visions; Just wrap your legs 'round these velvet rims and strap your hands 'cross my engines!!" I sang, {on the top of my vocal chords, my lungs, my heart, my soul} as I blasted Bruce's album, Born To Run in a portable CD player, "Whoo!! ....Tramps like us, baby we were born to run!!"
 
Then the uncontrollable, wet, hot tears freely streamed down my face. I tried very hard to stop them, but I couldn't. For I was emotionally and mentally injured, with psychological bruises, with an incredibly broken heart, with a bloodied soul because of my sky blue-painted motorcycle crash. Remember? Honestly, I was one hot mess, as 'mood swing-infused pity parties' knocked on my heart and soul's door. Which 'he' very well owns a key to. Who? My 'mood swing-infused pity parties'. How? Because I gave 'him' a key several years ago when I was either thirteen or fourteen years old. From 'Thunder Road' to 'Jungleland', I kept on driving--running aimlessly away from Lucky Town--in that 'old' 1970's baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck.

But I could not regain my composure.

"Where am I going....?" I asked myself, as wet, hot tears continued to freely fall and blur my vision, "I do not know.... I am going anywhere but Lucky Town.... I do not have a map.... I don't own an electronic GPS system.... I do not have a compass.... I don't know where I am.... I'm lost.... All I know for certain is.... I am never returning to Lucky Town ever again...."

Ring!! Ring!! Ring!! Ring!! Ring!!

It was my cell-phone. I jumped and, as a reaction, I screamed. Meanwhile, I had been maintaining radio silence in nothing but my head, with complex thoughts, with mixed-up feelings, with complex emotions. So obviously, that cell-phone's ringtone scared me!! I pulled my 'old' 1970's baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck over and I answered it. A friendly, talkative, bubbly, swearword-speaking mechanic--named Shelton--was on the other telephone.

Yes, in Lucky Town.

"Damn, you sure did some major wreckage to your bike!!" Shelton said in a deep voice, "I mean, she was badly messed up!! Your bike lost some real important parts in that crash!! But, don't worry, we fixed her!! Your bike was all twisted up, man!! But, don't worry, we fixed her!! Your bike's scratched paint needed a major touch-up job!! But, don't worry, we fixed her!! It ain't nothin' but a miracle that you survived that nasty crash with no broken bones or serious visible injuries!! Because, damn!! In my twenty years of workin' here as a motorcycle mechanic, I ain't never seen no one with his or her bike this badly messed up walk in here.... Alive!! And I mean no one. You sure as hell were lucky!! Anyway, she's all repaired now and ready for pick-up!!"

Shelton has never seen anybody with his or her motorcycle this busted up walk into his shop alive? I thought gloomily, I'm 'lucky', huh? Oh, if only he knew how emotionally and mentally injured I truly am....

I hung up my cell-phone. Wow. That was seemingly quick!! I thought for a second. How long have I been driving, forty-five minutes to an hour? I have no idea. For when I'm listening to Bruce, I lose complete track of time!! Honestly? I did not think that the mechanics in Lucky Town could possibly repair 'Triumph' so soon. For, like Shelton said, she was badly busted up!! Besides, in my own personal experience? Workers--such as mechanics, plumbers, electricians--are highly unreliable people. They will show up at your house several hours late. Workers--such as mechanics, plumbers, electricians--never call you back. That, or they do not come to your house at all. Now, I absolutely understand being busy and forgetful. I, myself, have premature short-term memory loss like Dory from Disney/Pixar's animated film, Finding Dory. But.... How do these workers--who were employed for so-called 'reputable' companies--ever keep themselves from getting fired?!

I cannot help but wonder.

"Great...." I sarcastically said after hanging up my cell-phone, "Now I must return to that dreaded place called 'Lucky' Town!! But I do want 'Triumph' back. Right? So what choice do I have?"

The tears had finally dried up. Born To Run was no longer blasting in my portable CD player. I looked out the windows. I read weathered, green-colored, reflective street signs, trying very, very hard to figure out where on Earth I was.

Shermann Road? No. Cane Street? No. Depaw Road? No.

"Where am I?" I said, "Let's see.... I am on Heartbreak Avenue.... Alright...."

I immediately turned my 'old' 1970's baby blue-painted Ford pickup truck around. I then drove north, west, east and south. I knew that I obviously had to locate Lucky Town again, but since I was lost without any maps, an electronic GPS system or a compass as my guide, I had no idea how that would even be humanly possible. Oh well.... I am a self-proclaimed 'landmark person'!! Translation? I simply observed familiar-looking billboards, houses, apartment buildings, barns, stores. I read weathered, green-colored, reflective street signs. That served as my trusty map, electronic GPS system and compass all rolled into one!!

So I simply drove on.

"I just need to find Lucky Town," I thought aloud, "Then I'll pick up 'Triumph' from the mechanics shop, pay them some money, and as soon as I do, I'm out of there!!"

That was my plan. I would arrive in Lucky Town, pick up 'Triumph' and leave that dreadful, terrible, extremely dirty, shabby, unpleasant place as quickly as humanly possible. It made sense to me!! The problem? That was my one and only plan!! Because I had absolutely nowhere to go after I entered Lucky Town. Yes, I was lost, lost in this cosmic world. I still felt utterly alone. Then, suddenly--completely out of nowhere--this verse, these words, this lyric from Bruce's song, 'Better Days' resurfaced within my heart, within my soul, within my mind like an amazing lifeline!! It spoke a direct message to me, loud and clear!! Because this verse, these words, this line felt so very poetic!!

Every fool's got a reason to feelin' sorry for himself and turnin' his heart to stone; Tonight this fool's halfway to heaven and just a mile outta hell and I feel like I'm comin' home....

I inhaled one long deep breath.

"Alright," I told myself, "I will drive to 'Lucky' Town.... Pick up 'Triumph' from the mechanic's shop.... Then I will hightail it out of there!! Stick to the plan!! Gabeesh?"

The only problem was that my heart and soul absolutely, positively disagreed with this plan. Because once I finally arrived in Lucky Town? There was so much more in that dreadful, terrible, extremely dirty, unpleasant place than just 'Triumph', Shelton, or the other motorcycle mechanics waiting for me!! So much more.... For Lucky Town feels like home!! And even if I leave, {I feel sorry for myself.... I suffer from yet another 'mood swing-infused pity party'.... I crash and burn 'Triumph'}, I can still come back home!! Always. Maybe Lucky Town truly is a good place!! Where there's always forgiveness, always second chances, always redemption, always happy endings, new beginnings and love!!

For Lucky Town has promise.... Lucky Town is definitely home!!

"I am on a soul-searchin', rock 'n roll healin', The River Challenge journey!!" I announced, with determination, happiness {and a triumph over this particular 'mood swing-infused pity party'} within my voice, within my heart, within my soul.

For to quote Bruce from his song, 'Open All Night'.... Hey ho rock 'n roll, deliver me from nowhere....


Thursday, December 31, 2015

"Stay Hard, Stay Hungry, Stay Alive"

Blogging Friends.... One year ago today--yes, on New Year's Eve!!--I started hip swaying/dancing/working out to Bruce Springsteen!! And what an incredible journey it has been!! Damn, what a ride.... I have hip swayed/danced/worked out to Bruce after feeling happily exhausted because we spent all day long watching my beautiful nieces, "Amethyst" and "Opal". {As resulted? I quickly learned that hip swaying/dancing/working out to Bruce helps me unwind and maintains my sanity!! Score!!} I have hip swayed/danced/worked out to Bruce while battling head colds. {Like this week, for example. Bruce is the best medicine.... I am feeling better already!!} I have hip swayed/danced worked out to Bruce despite an insanely busy Summer of watching kids and writing prolific fictional stories. {Because I made him a priority!!} I have hip swayed/danced/worked out during 95-plus degree Summer heat waves.... While flinging sweat literally everywhere!! I have hip swayed/danced/worked out as our old, now-replaced, mini pump slowly sucked rainwater from my formerly flooded bedroom crawlspace.... It had a loud, mournful, wailing sound!! I have spent hundreds of dollars at Amazon on Bruce's albums.... I'm not exaggerating!! I have created "Born In The USA Wednesday". Translation? Every single Wednesday, I hip sway/dance to a Born In The USA-themed Bruce Springsteen Workout!! {Album, live versions, outtakes and all!! "Born In The USA Wednesday" can last a good five hours!! I love it!!} And, as resulted to spending one year hip swaying/dancing/working out {Ahem, ahem, ahem....} cutting loose/performing to Bruce's music? I have lost tons of weight.... No pun intended!! Anyway.... I composed a "song"/poem which expresses how hip swaying/dancing/working out to Bruce makes me feel!! Enjoy!! By the way? This "song"/poem is not set to music. Why? Because I'm not musically gifted. I am just a poet. I'm an artist!! Love you later.


5-11-16
Adelaide Dupont.... I just noticed that you have given several of my fictional stories a 1 + count!! Thanks, Friend!! And during an unplanned, suddenly busy time in my Life when, as resulted, I fell off of the face of the Internet planet, became a loner, {Yeah, I tend to do that....} and have ever since temporarily stopped writing creative fictional stories, you also sent me a comment--through Anna's Blog--expressing your enjoyment of my poem/song "Stay Hard, Stay Hungry, Stay Alive"!! Thanks, Friend!! It feels good to be missed!! So where have I been all these months? {Aside from recently coming out of hiding to send Anna my love, somehow making new Blogging Friends along the way and replying your comments?} More on that later....

As I give credit to whom credit is due, I did not write the line: "stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive".... Bruce did!! It is a line from his song, "This Hard Land". However. "Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive" is my motto as I hip sway/dance/work out to Bruce.... And it has been ever since January!! So!! I have "borrowed" Bruce's line for the title of my "song"/poem!! Because, why not?! Also, as I give credit to whom credit is due, I did not write the line: "hey, ho, rock 'n roll, deliver me from nowhere".... Bruce did!! It is a line from his song, "Open All Night".... Plus "Living On The Edge Of The World". Both lines speak directly to my heart and soul, especially throughout 2015, particularly!! Love ya, Bruce!! I sincerely hope you do not mind!!

Something that I neglected to mention about this "song"/poem.... It's autobiographical!! Yes, every single word, line, syllable and rhyme is absolutely true!! I did not fictionalize any of it!! This "song"/poem is my Life.... Of hip swaying/dancing/cutting loose/working out to Bruce!!

"Stay Hard, Stay Hungry, Stay Alive"

Written by Raelyn!!

So it all started with Bruce's album, Born To Run;
For dancin' as "Tenth Avenue Freeze-out" plays is fun!!
Then I quickly fell in love with this New Jersey boy;
Now Bruce brings my Life endless bliss, happiness and joy!!
Then I became his fanatic shortly thereafter;
And now Bruce fills my Life with song, music and laughter!!

They say it is the endorphins, but I disagree;
Bruce does somethin', does somethin', he does somethin' to me!!
Yeah, Bruce does somethin', does somethin', does somethin' to me!!
Oh, Bruce does somethin', does somethin', does somethin' to me!!

I whip my hips as the rhythm pounds and pounds and pounds;
I play air guitar at its very first rockin' sounds!!
Dancin' to Bruce is not just a physical workout;
For it exercises my mind, as his songs I shout!!
You know, workin' out should not be fun, so I've been told;
Yet hand-shakin' adrenaline rushes don't feel old!!

They say it is the endorphins, but I disagree;
Bruce does somethin', does somethin', he does somethin' to me!!
Yeah, Bruce does somethin', does somethin', does somethin' to me!!
Oh, Bruce does somethin', does somethin', does somethin' to me!!

I feel things, I become emotionally involved;
For Bruce's characters' heartbreak and grief I must solve!!
When I wrote on my birthday that I'd rock my thirties;
I never expected I'd take it literally!!
I vehemently anticipate dancin' to Bruce;
As I "stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive", I cut loose!!

They say it is the endorphins, but I disagree;
Bruce does somethin', does somethin', he does somethin' to me!!
Yeah, Bruce does somethin', does somethin', does somethin' to me!!
Oh, Bruce does somethin', does somethin', does somethin' to me!!

He sets my heart and soul free, he gives them a release;
Dancin' to Bruce is an escape, makes me feel at peace!!
An escape from Reality, an escape from Life;
When trials and tribulations cut me like a knife;
If Bruce had any superpowers, what would they be?
He takes me away with his brilliant poetry!!
'Cause "hey, ho, rock 'n roll, deliver me from nowhere"!!

They say it is the endorphins, but I disagree;
Bruce does somethin', does somethin', he does somethin' to me!!
Yeah, Bruce does somethin', does somethin', does somethin' to me!!
Oh, Bruce does somethin', does somethin', does somethin' to me!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"Life Choices And Consequences"

Blogging Friends.... Uncharted waters. That is what it feels like I have been swimming in this year as a writer, an artist who paints pictures with words. Why? Because I lack a genre. Question. Am I a children's book writer? Answer? No.... That was so 2014. And now I do not know who the hell I am. For these are uncharted waters that I'm swimming in. See, I've somehow always known who I am as a writer, an artist who paints pictures with words. Throughout the course of my Life, I have composed poetry.... I've tried my hand as a "journalist" and written "columns".... I have created children's stories.... During all three above journeys, I've experimented and I thought--well I was so sure--that I knew exactly who I was a writer, an artist who paints pictures with words. Especially throughout 2014. But how wrong was I. Because a year ago last Wednesday, I posted what would turn out to be one of my final fictional children's book stories. Ever. And soon I was headed toward those uncharted waters. I have spent 2015 throwing the word "genre" away. I've written several fictional stories which came directly from my heart and soul. {Even more than last year!! I actually have at least twain fictional stories "in the can" for 2016!! Thus far!!} I have killed off characters seemingly left and right. {Do I have a reputation yet?! I am going for the whole Joss Whedon influence.... Just kidding!!} And somewhere along the way? I was left with a cosmic choice. Either I drown in these uncharted waters.... Or I take up my board and learn how to surf its wild, wild, wild waves!! I chose option number two!! And somewhere along the way? I still may not know who I am. But somewhere along the way? I figured out in 2015 alone exactly what it is that I want to write.... Heartfelt fictional stories. {But not Hallmark movie-like scripts!!} Fictional stories that reach in and touch Readers' deepest, most heartfelt thoughts/feelings/emotions. I think I'm doing it.... Love you later.

PS. I was hoping to post this story last Wednesday.... But editing can take a while sometimes.

Interesting. That one four-syllable word {Uh.... Or three syllable word, depending on how you say it!!} works wonders in describing this story. "Interesting". First off, it sort of expresses my own personal opinions, thoughts, feelings and emotions on today's current shootings that we have all seen happen way too frequently lately. This story was written sometime during last Summer. Now.... I am not going to sit here and express my opinions on gun rights or stricter gun laws. That is a touchy issue for many which has seemingly divided America in half. And this little Blog of mine is neither the time, nor the place, to discuss it!! Thank-you very much!!

This is an entirely fictional story and was not ripped from any real-Life news headlines!!

Inspiration. As a writer, an artist who paints pictures with words, I must seek and find it wherever I can. Apparently? My inspiration comes from Bruce Springsteen's brilliant storytelling and poetic song lyrics!! Remember September's fictional 9-11 book that I wrote? It was inspired by Bruce's song, "Into The Fire" from "The Rising"!! Well.... Bruce has done it again!! Because this particular story was inspired by his song, "Johnny 99" from "Nebraska"!! I. Freakin'. Love. That. Song. And, although I went to great lengths in an effort to avoid stealing anything from "Johnny 99"? Well.... It cracks me up just how much of Bruce's storytelling was infused into my fictional book, anyway!! Because, seriously. I even named my murderer character Ralph!! Read this story. Then listen to "Johnny 99". Or better yet.... Listen to "Johnny 99" first!! Then read my story. I love ya, Bruce!!

"Life Choices And Consequences"
          
Perspective. It varies greatly depending on person to person. Because everybody who has a mind and an opinion can certainly possess their own viewpoint!! Conservative. Liberal. Christian. Secular. And everybody is entitled to their own opinions. For it's an American right!! Correct? Yet--sadly--nobody in this nation {Or world, for that matter} seemingly agrees to disagree anymore. Because it is always "my way or the highway". Sadly, nobody in this nation {Or world, for that matter} possesses an open-minded, nonjudgmental, unprejudiced perspective anymore.

Those were the exact words of psychology Professor Van Zandt--who is middle-aged--as he spoke to approximately five-hundred college-aged students on a dark, eerie, foggy Saturday morning in November.

"Perspective," he said, "If you kids were to look up that word in an Oxford dictionary Online, one definition would be this.... 'A particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view'. Now. I am going to share with you an unfortunate, tragic, sad, true story about perspective. From everybody's diverse points of view."

All ears--and eyes--were on Professor Van Zandt. For he had definitely captivated his students' undivided attention.

"It occurred exactly one decade ago on this very date," began Professor Van Zandt, "November 14th, 2005...."

Christmas. Nearly everybody celebrates that well-known holiday season!! Of course, there are always exceptions. Some people celebrate Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, instead!! And that is absolutely acceptable!! But probably the vast majority of people worldwide still celebrate Christmas!! Local radio stations play nonstop seasonal music!! Santa Claus enters malls everywhere!! People decorate their real--or artificial--Christmas trees!! Some still send out seasonal cards through snail mail and type out holiday newsletters!! Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ!! It is a commercialized, consumer-oriented holiday season, so there are seemingly countless sales which occur literally everywhere!! That being mentioned? Even with the Internet readily available, people still enjoy driving toward shopping malls--to purchase Christmas gifts--for their loved ones!!

The holiday season seemingly occurs earlier and earlier every single year!! It used to be that Black Friday sales after Thanksgiving kicked off Christmastime!! This is not the case, anymore!! So on November 14th, 2005, twain thirty-one year old best friends named "Henry" and "Jacob"--who have known each other ever since kindergarten--were doing a little early Christmas shopping at their local shopping mall!! As to be expected, seasonal music was blasting in every single store that they set foot in!! The shopping mall even already decorated it with an enormously-sized artificial Christmas tree!! Santa Claus also sat on his tall, red, throne of a chair, patiently awaiting little children!!

"Look at this autographed photograph of Dory from Finding Nemo!!" said Jacob.

"Really...." teased Henry, with a smirk written on his face, "Did Dory herself sign it....?"

Jacob laughed.

"Ha, ha, ha...." he said, "No, Ellen DeGeneres autographed it!! And my girlfriend, Rosie, is a cosmic fanatic of hers!! Remember? She watches Ellen DeGeneres' talk show every single day!! So, naturally, Rosie loves Dory in Finding Nemo, as well!! What do you think? Should I purchase it for Rosie? Or not?"

"Rosetta will love it...." began Henry, "....But you might want to check out the picture's price tag before making your decision, dude!!"

It was a hefty seven-hundred dollars!!

"Oh my!!" exclaimed Jacob, "I will simply find something less expensive for Rosie!!"

"You can call me sappy," said Henry, "Because I do not care!! But I love it when the mall is decorated for Christmas, man!! It puts me in a holiday mood!!"

"I can't but agree.... 'Sappy'!!" said Jacob, with a smile written on his face, "I enjoy the shopping mall's Christmas decorations, as well!! They are oh-so festive this time of year!!"

Meanwhile, Henry and Jacob searched store, after store, after store, after store for the "perfect" gifts.... But alas, to no avail.

Jacob sighed.

"I haven't a clue what to purchase Rosie," he said, as they aimlessly wandered the shopping mall together.

"Well, it is not even Thanksgiving yet," encouraged Henry, "Right? You have lots of time, dude!! Don't worry about it. Hakuna matata, man!!"

"You do not understand!!" said Jacob, "Rosie and I are nearing the one year mark of when we participated in our first date together!! So I must find something doubly special for her!!"

"You know what, dude?" said Henry, "I have an idea for the perfect Christmas present to give Rosetta!!"

"Do tell," said Jacob.

"A ring!!" said Henry, "You know....? An engagement ring? Because--wow--you two lovebirds have been dating for one year now?! Holy smokes.... Where does the time escape to?! Outer space?! And I obviously know that you two love each other!! Without a single doubt in my mind!! Maybe you should finally get up the nerve to propose, man? Huh? Overcome your fear of rejection? Because you already know that Rosetta will say 'yes'!! Am I right? You can even surprise Rosetta on Christmas Day--"

Just then--in the crowded mall--a tan-skinned, black-haired, young man suddenly leapt out of seemingly nowhere, pulled his gun's trigger, and shot Henry!! Time instantaneously stood still. Henry screamed like a little girl, as he was obviously feeling agonizing pain. Red blood freely gushed through the bullet hole which was located in his chest. As resulted? Henry's blood instantaneously seeped through his white-colored Superman t-shirt. He collapsed to the cold, germ-infested, tiled floor. And Henry's body fell hard with a resounding thud. Meanwhile, the unidentified shooter pulled his gun's trigger several more times, while shots hauntingly echoed against walls. As resulted? He shot--and murdered--five more unsuspecting shoppers.

"Henry!!" yelled Jacob, "Oh my.... Henry!!"

Instinctively? Jacob dropped to both knees and--with one arm--he supported his best friend's heavy head. Henry simply lie there, weeping. He also groaned, as his body obviously felt searing pain. Henry did not speak. He repeatedly clutched one now-bloody hand to his chest, where the bullet was located. Instinctively? With his free hand, Jacob dialed 9-1-1 on Henry's cellular phone, as he did not own any.

"Hello?" said the 9-1-1 dispatcher, "This is Annemarie. How may I help you?"

"Hello ma'am!!" said a frantic Jacob, "My best friend has been shot in cold blood--"

Just then, Henry nodded off.

"No, no, no, no, no!!" yelled Jacob, with panic rising in his voice, as he frantically slapped Henry's cheeks, "Do not fall asleep!! Henry!! Stay awake!! Henry!! Don't you dare fall asleep--"

"Where is Henry's bullet--or bullets--located?" Annemarie calmly interrupted.

"In his chest, above the heart--" answered Jacob.

Just then, Henry began to drift off into a deep, deep, deep sleep.

"Oh, no, no, no, no!!" yelled Jacob, as his own heart pounded hard, "Do not die on me!! Henry!! Do please stay with me!!"

"Okay," said Annemarie, "Calm down, sir. Where are you? I just need an address and our emergency crew will be on the way shortly."

"We are at Mall 38," began Jacob, "On 7575 S.E. Harrison Street. We are located right outside Barnes & Noble. Do you need a zip code?"

"No," Annemarie confidently answered, "We can find Mall 38!!"

"Do please hurry!!" said a still-panicked Jacob, "I am no doctor, but it appears that Henry is going into shock!!"

Annemarie hung up her telephone. By then, Henry's eyes were closed tight and he was anything but responsive.

"Henry!!" yelled Jacob, with a sense of urgency in his voice, "Awaken!! You will not die like this!! Henry!! Wake.... Up!! The paramedics will be here shortly, I promise!! Henry!! We still have so much Life left to enjoy!! Can you hear me?! We still have countless adventures to enjoy!! Can you hear me?! We still have so many plans!! Can you hear me?! We were planning to travel together and hike up Mt. Everest on New Year's Day!! Remember?! Can you hear me?! We have girlfriends to romance and--hopefully--wed!! Can you hear me?! We were going to be the best men at each other's weddings!! Can you hear me?! We were even going to raise our future children together!! Can you hear me?! Please do not die!! Can you hear me?!"

"You're my irreplaceable best friend....!!" continued Jacob, as wet, hot tears streamed down his face, "You cannot die....!! Remember all of the positive, negative, wild memories that we have created together....? Can you hear me....?! We only attended school together from kindergarten to college, for Heaven's sake....!! Can you hear me....?! Henry....!! I will forever remember the first time we met.... I stole your cookies in kindergarten--which made you angry at me!!--but we have surprisingly remained best friends ever since....!! Henry....!! Can you hear me....?! Henry....!! You were the drummer with a thunderous rhythm in our small, experimental, three-man, basement/garage rock and roll band during high school....!! Remember....?! Can you hear me....?! We smoked our first--and last--cigarettes together.... Which, was your insane idea....!! Can you hear me....?! We even partied a bit during our college years--which was also your insane idea--me, I simply came along for the wild, wild, wild ride....!! Have you any clue how many hangovers I helped snap my best friend out of....?! Henry....!! Can you hear me?! Can you hear me?! Can you hear me?! Can you hear me?! Can you hear me?!"

But Jacob's emotional, heart-pounding, urgent, frantic, blood-pressure-rising, adrenaline-producing panic was--tragically--all for naught. Because by the time ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars arrived? Henry was dead. He passed away in Jacob's very arms. And, although five other victims obviously died, there were--miraculously--four survivors!! Police did indeed catch the murderer {Who swiftly became nationally-known as eighteen-year old Ralph} and successfully arrested him. He committed his crime alone.

Throughout the course of time, Ralph was scheduled for several different trials in court. Which Jacob faithfully attended!!

Perspective. It varies greatly depending on person to person. There was the perspective of bitterness and unforgiveness from Jacob.

"Ralph murdered my best friend in cold blood!!" Jacob abruptly stood up and angrily said during a trial, "Henry is dead. I will never see him again. Henry is gone. I will never create new, unforgettable memories with him ever again. Because Henry is not coming back. And to worsen matters? Ralph also murdered five more innocent people in cold blood!! He even deliberately tried to kill ten unsuspecting shoppers!! I demand justice!! I desire an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!! Ralph deserves the death penalty!! Execute him!! Execute him!! Execute him!! Execute him!! Execute him!! Now!!"

Ralph shamefully hung his head.

"Calm down, sir!!" ordered a middle-aged, silver-haired, deep-voiced Judge Morrison.

"Ralph," questioned Judge Morrison, "Why did you decide to open fire inside Mall 38? What, exactly, were your reasons, excuses and perspective for committing this murder, son?"

"My 'father'--I will just call him 'Joe'--used to beat me physically as a kid growing up," Ralph eventually answered with bitterness in his voice, "He always did it while Mom worked hard to bring our money home. 'Joe' was such a deadbeat. He never even worked one day in my whole Life. See, the beatings were done secretly, behind closed doors. Mom never, ever knew--because I would not even dare tell her--I always lied that the constant bruises on my body were from being clumsy. But Judge Morrison, I am no klutz!! 'Joe' also verbally and emotionally abused me. He said every second of every single waking day that I am a cosmic failure whose worthless Life will never amount to anything."

Ralph paused.

"Well, he was right. I guess I am a cosmic failure whose worthless Life will never amount to anything...." Ralph said, as he blinked back wet, hot tears.

"My 'father' was always drunk when he physically, verbally and emotionally abused me," continued Ralph, "Some daddy dearest, huh? Then, during my teenage years, 'Joe' drove away and never--ever--came back home. Now. I could have easily said 'good riddance' to 'Joe'. However. His abandonment of our little family broke Mom's poor heart into a billion pieces. And who was there for her? Me!! Not 'Joe'. I was there for Mom. I had to be strong and brave. For Mom's emotional sake. I had to provide comfort and pick up the pieces of her broken heart. But let me ask you something, Judge Morrison. Who was going to pick up the broken pieces of my heart?! Huh?! So unresolved anger and resentment toward the world brewed in my poor, shattered heart. Judge Morrison, I am not saying that this sad, depressing, true story makes me an innocent guy. I definitely deserve punishment for what I've done!! Mom raised me better than to become a murderer. Nonetheless. I could not do a damn thing about these negative thoughts, feelings and emotions which are always eating away at me. Because I just don't know how!! So, yeah, I bought the gun. Then, yes, I planned to take my anger and resentment out in a massacre at Mall 38. So there you go. Judge Morrison.... My reasons, excuses and perspective. To everybody who is sitting in this courtroom.... That was my whole Life story in a nutshell."

Perspective. It varies greatly depending on person to person. There was the perspective of grace, compassion, and empathy toward Ralph that suddenly washed over the entire courtroom. For after his truthful story? There was not a dry eye in the courtroom!! Ralph's mother, Angelina--overcome by emotion--of course wept uncontrollably. Jacob wiped away wet, hot tears. Even professional, firm, no-nonsense Judge Morrison became choked up!!

"Wow...." Jacob whispered to himself, "All excuses set aside--because the murder that Ralph committed was obviously wrong--he has certainly lived a hard, cruel, unfair Life!!"

Perspective. It varies greatly depending on person to person. There was even the perspective of forgiveness toward Ralph from Jacob. For after his truthful story? Any anger that Jacob initially felt was suddenly blown away.

"Judge Morrison?" asked Jacob, "May I say something?"

"Yes," answered Judge Morrison, "Go right ahead, son."

Jacob bravely looked straight at Ralph. Their eyes met each other's.

"Ralph," said Jacob, "You expressed your sad, depressing, truthful story. Now it is my turn. You expressed your perspective and point of view. Now it is my turn."

Jacob paused.

 "Ralph...." Jacob slowly continued, as wet, hot tears streamed down his cheeks, "When you opened fire inside Mall 38.... My best friend and 'blood brother' was shot.... When your gun's bullet pierced through Henry's heart.... He was then abruptly taken from me.... When you proceeded in your massacre.... All of our hopes, dreams and plans were--literally--shot down.... And now....? All I am left with is an entire Lifetime of memories...."

Ralph looked down at his handcuffed wrists. He appeared sincerely ashamed and regretful for the murder that had been committed.

"Ralph...." Jacob slowly finished, as he wiped away wet, hot tears, "At first, I was livid at what you had done, and rightfully so.... But now that I have heard your truthful story.... I forgive you!! I do mean that."

"Wait. What?!" said a shocked Ralph, as he blinked back wet, hot tears, "You forgive.... Me?"

"Yes," Jacob confidently replied, "I do."

Crime always has its consequences. Whether it be incarceration. Community service. Or the death penalty. Either way, crime always has its consequences.

"Everyone is faced with choices in Life, son," Judge Morrison told Ralph, "Whether they be good decisions. Or bad. Ralph.... Your father may have both physically and verbally abused you. Ralph.... Your father may have abandoned you and your mother. Ralph.... You may have battled some cosmic, negative, thoughts, feelings and emotions. However. You could have asked for professional help with sorting through these cosmic, negative, thoughts, feelings and emotions. Because there are some very good psychiatrists available!! But you did not ask for professional help. Correct?"

Ralph regretfully nodded his head "yes".

"Well, son, that was a choice that you made. Correct?"

Ralph regretfully nodded his head "yes".

"Instead, you bought that gun. Correct?"

Ralph regretfully nodded his head "yes".

"That was a choice that you made. Correct?"

Ralph regretfully nodded his head "yes".

"Because you certainly did not have to buy that weapon!! Correct?"

Ralph regretfully nodded his head "yes".

"Then you took out all of your anger and resentment toward Life in a massacre at Mall 38. Correct?"

Ralph regretfully nodded his head "yes".

"That was a choice which you made. Because everyone is given bad decisions in Life. And many--if not most--of which bring about consequences. So Ralph? I hereby sentence you to death."

Perspective. It varies greatly depending on person to person. There was the perspective of a Mother's unyielding love which came from Ralph's Mom, Angelina.
 
"No, no, no, no, no!!" she screamed, as wet, hot tears streamed down her face, "Give my son a second chance!! Please!! Please!! Please!! Have you no mercy?! Judge Morrison.... Do you not believe in the concept that people change?! Huh?! Please do not take my son's Life this way!!"

"Calm down, Mom," Ralph flatly said, "Do not waste your energy on me!! I am better off dead."

"Nooooo!!" screamed an inconsolable, heartbroken Angelina, "Nooooo!!"

Angelina created such a disruption, that twain police guards were forced to carry her out of that courtroom. She screamed, sobbed and protested the entire way.

Ralph shamefully looked down at his handcuffed wrists.
   
On December 14th--precisely one month after Ralph opened fire inside Mall 38--the sad, dark day of his execution arrived.

"Do you have any last words before your death penalty?" asked Policewoman Heather.

"Um.... Can you report this back?" asked Ralph, "Because I want everybody--especially Mom--whose Lives were forever affected by my bad choices to hear it!!"

"It is not customary," said Policewoman Heather, "But I will make an exception just for you."

"Uh.... Thanks...." said Ralph, as wet, hot tears streamed down his face, "Here are my last words: Policewoman Heather, if you can kill a guy for the negative thoughts, feelings and emotions that are always in his head....? I am sorry.... To everybody.... I am sincerely sorry for all of the emotional, mental, and physical pain that my actions have caused.... Judge Morrison is right.... I should have sought psychiatric help.... But I did not.... And Mom....? I am sorry for letting you down.... Please do not ever stop loving me....!! I am so sorry for being a disappointment to you.... Alright, Policewoman Heather.... Those are my last words...."

And then--just like that--Ralph was executed.

On New Year's Day {In loving memory of Henry!!} Jacob and Rosetta hiked Mt. Everest together!! Once they reached the top, he finally proposed to his lover with a beautiful, heart-shaped, garnet ring.... Which is her birthstone!! As to be expected? Rosetta accepted Jacob's proposal!!

"Perspectives and viewpoints," said Professor Van Zandt, "From Ralph's sad, depressing, true story. Or Jacob's anger, which eventually transformed into forgiveness. From Judge Morrison's wise speech about Life choices and consequences. Or Angelina's heartbreaking plead for her son's second chance. Kids, I understand this unfortunate, tragic, sad, true story about these such differing perspectives firsthand.... Because I am 'Jacob'...."