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|Tuesday, December 25th, 2012|
|Acts of kindness are what counts in life
The yuletide season is once again upon us with all the hustle and bustle of the mad shoppers. I for one didn't participate in the frenzy of Black Friday like millions did in America and I never will.
I am one of those people who simply enjoys the sharing and to give thanks for the special people in my life. That truly makes this time of year special for me especially here in Suzhou, China.
I surely have plenty to be thankful for because throughout my life people have gone out of their way to be kind to me and the Chinese here are no exception. I once told my students in class when you care for others you are cared for and when you love others you are loved. This special season of giving should reveal our love for one another through kindness because loving kindness gives this special season its true meaning.
The cities in China are all lit up now with Christmas lights and they are so beautifully displayed that they also bring out the Christmas spirit in me. The Chinese also enjoy celebrating this special season with the lighting of bonfires. Some sing songs and dance around the large glowing fires. They set off large firework displays as well in the night sky. It is an ancient tradition that goes back thousands of years. It's one of their ways of coming together as an entire community to celebrate their abundance and to be thankful for having one another in their lives. That is just one of the reasons I find this season so special here.
Here like in America parents and children alike also take great joy in Santa's arrival on Christmas Day. I also enjoy seeing the young children's faces light up at the sight of Santa the jolly old soul.
There was a time though when I felt the season of giving was simply a common courtesy in order to receive and provide our significant others with material gifts.
I now understand more clearly that this special season is for heartfelt acts of gratitude for having people in our lives. When keeping the true spirit of giving close to our heart it enables us to give from the heart all year-round.
The yuletide season should be a time when our love comes to call because that love gives this time of year its true meaning.
What intrigues me about the Christmas season here in China is that the majority who celebrate this time of year are non-Christian. The Buddhists have embraced the season as a way of giving thanks.
I have found over the years, though, that it's not the material gifts that count in life but rather it's the unrecognized, undetected and unremembered acts of loving kindness that are our greatest gifts and achievements in life.
If we truly want to see a world of loving and joyous people we must be loving and joyous toward the people in our own lives. That potential is part of our humanity. When we reach out and touch others we touch part of the humanity that is within us. When we enhance the life of another in need we in turn enhance our own lives.
Objects gift-wrapped in shiny paper can be forgotten over time but kindness whispered to those in need will echo endlessly throughout the community. Those small acts of kindness resonate with the giver and the receiver because they are gifts from the heart. Such priceless gifts can never be measured monetarily though because how can you put a price on love?
From my heart to yours I would like to wish all of you a very merry and joyous holiday season.
Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O'Neill
U.S. Voice mail: (800) 272-6464
China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog,
|Wednesday, June 1st, 2011|
|The future looks brighter from Suzhou, China
By Thomas F O'Neill
I have been teaching in Suzhou, China for two years now and my fourth semester is now coming to an end. In all my classes I have students that stand out from the rest. It’s mostly due to the questions they ask or their sense of humor. It reminds me of my college days before most of my students were born. I had the same curiosities and thirst for knowledge that I am witnessing in my students.
I find however that many students in China seem more sophisticated than I was at their age. They are not shy about pulling out an iPhone in the middle of a classroom debate in order to back up the facts to their side of the argument. They seem to be putting their technological gizmos to good use and today’s technology is progressing education in leaps and bounds.
Religion comes up quite often in my classes and it’s always a hot button issue. In the beginning of each semester a new student will ask what my religious beliefs are. I always tell them that I was born and raised Roman Catholic. Several students will then bless themselves to evoke a laugh either from me or their fellow students.
I tell my students that I am no longer a practicing Catholic but I’m always open and honest about my spirituality. I was surprised at first about how knowledgeable they are about the current problems facing the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world. They always bring up the decline of the Churches influence in the world.
Students always ask me if I’m an atheist and my response is usually - Life and god are one and the same to me and that I can't separate my life from the life of others.
A young female student said, “so you are a Buddhist.”
I told her I don’t have religious beliefs and I tried to the best of my ability to explain that we are simply sharing god's life. I experience my existence and the existence of all things as the subtle altruistic outreach of god’s love. I went on to say that I have a deep intuitive awareness of my spirituality and the spirituality that is within others
“But that is religion,” a male student said with frustration in his voice.
I don’t believe in religion I told the class once again. I cannot contain god in religious beliefs, buildings, creeds, dogmas, or religious institutions because god transcends all religion. The love that is within us cannot be contained in our beliefs or faith in what god ought to be in our lives. God is the eternal sustenance that sustains us and all things. God is the essence of our eternal love which transcends all human beliefs and faith.
“How can you say that when there are such atrocities throughout the world? If what you believe were to be true than we would all be living in paradise,” another male student said.
Many of those atrocities were committed in the name of religion, I said. It all comes down to beliefs and free will. Evil is the result of a perversion of the human will. We are all free to think and do as we please but for every action there is a reaction. The consequences of those actions whether they are good or bad will always come back to us.
I may not be a religious person but I am spiritual in nature. I told the class, my spirituality is what I experience with each second, minute, and day. I try my best to explain that my spirituality is not something I believe in or have faith in. It’s something I experience and come to know within me. It’s simply life itself because I experience it as a living being. We are not set apart from god because god is the intimate and eternal life that is within us and around us.
Questions and debates on whether there is an afterlife always come up in my class as well. I always tell my students that I’m not an expert on death but rather an apprentice in life. With each second, minute, and day I am learning how to live. I like to think of humanity as our significant other. We may come into the world as separate human beings but humanity is never truly apart from us. When we reach out and touch others, we touch part of the humanity that is within us. When we open ourselves up to love others, we in turn allow ourselves to be loved. When we care for others, we allow ourselves to be cared for. We are not just human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey. We need others in order to learn and grow not only in knowledge but in greater self-awareness.
“America is a Christian Nation,” a male student said, “so I’m sure many people in America don’t think like you.”
When it comes to the reality of life, I said - there are only two opposing views. One view is - there are no miracles in life and the other view is - life is a miracle. It is within these two opposing views that I have chosen to live my life. We are the hands of god -- one hand is used to build a better life for ourselves and the other hand is used to build a better life for others. I do not seek to be understood by words alone because I believe it is best to teach by example.
“In China many don’t believe in Religion,” a female student said, “but many believe in Karma. When you do good - goodness is returned to you.”
I have experienced that in my own life, I said. A truly spiritual person does not seek conformity from others by imposing their will or beliefs on others. A person with a deep spiritual understanding will bring about positive change in the world by becoming the change that they would like to see in others.
“That is an idealistic way of thinking,” another female student said, “but there are so many problems in the world.”
If the world has become a dark place then it is our responsibility to become the light so that others can see more clearly, I said. Positive change cannot come about by forcing or imposing our way of life on others but rather it is achieved by living our life as we would want others to live their life; in doing so others will embrace and emulate our way of life.
“Religion in America has a tendency to impose their ways on to others,” a male student said, “the slaughter of the American Indians, your previous wars in Vietnam, Korea, and now your wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Isn’t that an example of a Religious Nation imposing its will and beliefs on other Nations”
Yes, I can see many of America’s mistakes throughout history, I said. That is why it is best to live your individual lives as genuinely and authentically as possible. We are all spiritual by nature and by nature we are all uniquely endowed with extraordinary gifts and talents. The more self-aware we become the more aware we become of all we have to offer. We must also learn from History so that past atrocities’ will not be repeated.
“Average is a dominant gene trait” a female student said jokingly, “the problems of the world are caused by average people’s short sightedness. The world’s spiritual problems will always be beyond your pay grade no matter how far the value of the U.S. dollar drops.” That statement got a huge laugh from the class.
She then asked me, “Where do you find your inspiration?”
My inspiration comes mostly from my quite time and the interaction from my students, I said. The thought of knowing I am where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m doing can be an inspiration as well.
I like to remind people that when the mind draws a blank to the world’s riddles it turns to the soul for answers for the soul knows what the mind seeks. Some people may call that intuition. I suppose my intuition and the gift of the imagination are my greatest abilities in expressing to others my perspective on life.
The class than quickly turned to the state of the global economy and the current cultural issues facing the world. The death of Osama Bin Laden became a resent hot topic in my classes as well.
Every semester I tell my students when it comes to life what we learn in the classroom will not define our lives. But rather how well we live our lives in communion with others will in the end define our true character and our true worth.
My students are brighter and more informed than I was at their age and that is a good thing. They have vast amounts of knowledge at their fingertips with their iPhones and various other gizmos. The questions they ask in class also reflect their curiosity about the deeper dimensions to life, their future, their nation’s future, and the future of the world and that is certainly a good thing.
Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
Phone: (800) 272-6464
China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog,
|Monday, May 2nd, 2011|
|The return to Millville
By Thomas F. O'Neill
I don't know where to begin in telling the story of Billy Wiseman. I suppose I could start by saying he was your typical twelve year old. He also had the responsibilities that came with being your average sixth grader. His parent's gave him typical daily chores on top of his drooling daily schoolwork.
Much to Billy's sagging demeanor his father made sure his eldest child was up and out of bed by 4:30 A.M. for the morning paper route.
"This is child labor," Billy would mumble to himself each morning while brushing his teeth.
The paper route, netted him 75 dollars a week which was good money in 1980. His parents put the money into a college fund for Billy's future education.
He also had an additional chore after school which was to take his neighbor's dog, Truman, for a walk. His neighbor paid him a dollar a day and Billy used that extra money to buy comic books.
"Look, instead of wasting your time reading those cartoons," his father said at the dinner table, "why don't you put the extra time in with your schoolwork."
"Why don't you lay off," said Billy's mother, "he works hard and he earns the money for those books."
"There're not books there're cartoons," his father said, "he's twelve years old and he reads cartoons."
"At least I can read," said Billy.
"Hey now don't get smart with me," yelled his father, "I'll knock that silly grin right off your face."
"Will you two knock it off," said Billy's Mother. She than turned and yelled, "Emily come in here and eat."
"Go get me a beer," said his father, "if you can find the time to get your nose out of that comic book." Billy got up from the table and got his father a beer.
"Now Emily," said her father, "don't be like your Brother, Billy. Average doesn't get you anywhere in life."
"I can read," Billy's four year old sister said, "Billy lets me read them when he's done with um."
"You see that," said her father.
"She's four years old and reading," said Billy's Mother, "that's quite an achievement."
"I want them to make something of themselves not wind up like us," he said while gulping his beer.
"You're doing alright pop," said Billy.
"These hours are going to give me an early grave."
"At least you have a Job. Jimmy's dad is laid off again. I saw him delivering papers this morning."
"That's why I want you to study and get decent grads so stuff like that doesn't happen to you," said his father, "hit the damn books get yourself into a decent college and get out of this dead end town."
"I will pop"
The next day as he was walking his neighbor's dog, "for crying out loud, Truman, will you slow down," said Billy, "I'm supposed to be taking you for a walk."
Truman was a large mix breed with a habit of pulling Billy down the street towards the park, "I really like you Truman but this is getting down right ridiculous. I feel as if you're giving me the exercise and that I should be giving you the dollar."
"Now hold on Truman," he said while catching his breath, "Geeeesss"
It was at that moment Truman took off after a jackrabbit. "Oh now come on Truman!!!!!!!," Billy yelled as Truman pulled away after the Rabbit.
"It's just a dumb old Rabbit Truman !!!!!!!" Billy yelled.
"If you weren't so big !!!!!!!" he said angrily as he ran after the dog through the park into a wooded area.
Billy was out cold but he soon felt Truman licking his face, "What happened?"
He looked around the room everything in the room was metallic and brightly silver. The walls and floor were silver. There were various knobs and gismos on a control consul that were bright and silvery as well. "What the hell is this place Truman?"
It was at that moment he heard a loud barking sound that echoed throughout the room. It scared the living daylights out of him. Truman started barking back and it went on for quite some time.
"Hello !!!!!!!" Billy screamed. He figured he wasn't in to much danger considering Truman was with him. "Is there any humans in here?" He couldn't tell where the Barking was coming from.
He got up on his feet but his body felt like it was being pulled down. It was really hard to move his limbs. He then heard a lot of high pitched ticking sounds, "what is this place?"
A ring of light quickly came down from above and it continuously moved up and down his body very quickly. "Hello !!!!!!" Billy yelled once again.
He tried to take another step but it felt as if the weight of the world was crashing in on him. Truman even whimpered when he tried to walk.
He put his arm around Truman; "I won't let anything happen to you," he said Truman turned and licked Billy's face.
"Come on now !!!!!" he yelled and Truman barked as they slowly got back on their feet.
"You don't have to yell," said a small metallic and shinny looking screen. It looked to Billy like a thin small silvery television screen. It was animated like it had a life of its own. It was something he had never seen before or could describe for that matter. It popped out of what looked like some sort of control panel. It scared Billy so bad that he fell back landing on his backside. "What is this place?" Billy yelled, "and what the hell are you?"
"Well some gratitude for saving your life," it said.
"I did save your life you know, I could have just let you lie out in those woods."
Truman barked and the metallic screen barked back.
"Oh now come on, who are you?" Billy asked, "this isn't funny one bit."
The screen Barked again and Truman jumped up and down licking Billy's face.
"Sorry," it said, "I had the artificial gravity turned up to high."
"You had the artificial ……. what?" Billy asked while getting back up on his feet.
"You guys are really lucky because I almost suffocated you two, not intentionally though," it said. The thin silvery adjustable screen moved further out of the control consul towards them.
The screen was attached to a thin silvery cord that was attached to the control consul. It moved animatedly as if getting a closer look at Billy and Truman.
"I forgot to adjust the oxygen level after I moved you two in here. Then you almost froze to death. I forgot that it's minus 220 degrees outside. I revived both of you twice just in the nick of time."
"Oh you are really funny," said Billy, "a real comedian but I got to get home for dinner now. I'm sure everyone is going to be laughing about this at school tomorrow."
Truman barked and the Screen Barked back.
"Look if I don't get him back home and I miss dinner my parents are going to be pissed."
"He keeps saying something about having to go out," said the metallic screen.
"What are you saying you can talk to, Truman?"
"Of course just like I can talk to you," it said.
"He probably has to go to the bathroom?"
"He needs a bath?" the metallic screen asked.
"He has to relieve himself," said Billy.
"From what?" asked the metallic screen "doesn't he like me?"
"Hey whoever you are you're not funny so use your Robin Williams routine on someone else," Billy said angrily, "where's the door? I don't see an in or an out of this place."
"I can't just let you out" it said, "not until we get back to earth, that will be about one more earth hour."
"Look I am in really serious trouble here. I know this is a joke but my father doesn't have much of a sense of humor."
"Well, I'm sorry about that I didn't mean for you to break a law."
"It's a rule everyone eats together, and I really got to go."
"I know you told me."
"No I got to use the bathroom"
"What's with humans and baths" said the metallic screen.
"Come on I got to relieve myself," Billy said, "I'll go behind a tree. Look both of us got to go. He never goes in doors he's been trained since he was a puppy to go outside. He's probably been holding it since this afternoon."
"You guys take baths behind trees?"
"Ahhhh, !!!!!!!" Belly said huffing and puffing.
"Look don't get mad at me," it said, "I can see you're angry, but you got to understand. I'm not from here. I'm from a planet 500 light years from earth. I scanned you and Truman twice so that I can communicate with you two. I'm doing my best right now with the little knowledge I have of your language. I didn't have much time to process your neural pathways and language centers in your brains."
"Ah ha," Billy said sarcastically.
"I am still processing most of your neural pathways and memories," it said, "that is how I am processing your language, so you see I know what a bathroom is and what a bath is."
"Ahh haa," Billy said while angrily holding his bladder.
"Do you want to see where we are?" the metallic screen asked.
"Yes !!!!!!," Billy yelled.
"I'm going as fast as a can," it said, "faster then the speed of light."
Billy at that very moment saw the metallic metal melt away from around him. At that very instant he saw streaks of white light as if being stretched through space.
"I really can't go any faster then this."
"Stop!!!!!!!" Billy yelled not sure what to make of what he was seeing.
At that moment they came to an immediate stop and he saw a large sun in the distance.
The metallic metal immediately filled the open space around them.
"What did you do that for?" Billy said.
"I didn't want you and Truman to get a sunburn," it replied.
"I don't know how you did that but those are awesome special effects."
"Do you want me to continue towards earth?"
"Yes, because if you don't its going to be really messy in here" Billy said.
Billy began looking over the control consul, "so what is this thing supposed to be anyway?" he asked.
"I'm a space probe; I was designed to explore various regions of space."
"I see," he said to humor whoever was putting him on with the crazy voice.
"I left my planet approximately 4000 of your earth years ago and I have been transmitting my data ever since."
"So what do they use too power you with?" Billy asked sarcastically, "Do you use double A? or Triple A? You know batteries?"
"Our technology is far beyond anything you can imagine."
"What are you exactly?" Billy asked.
"I told you a space probe."
"But what are you? I mean what can I call you?" Billy asked.
"I guess I am what you would call an artificial life form."
"How can something artificial be a life form?"
"Well I am living matter interfaced with highly sophisticated technology. I have trillions of artificial neurons. That is trillions more than a human brain. The entire probe as you see it is a living organism. I learn and evolve as I come in contact with other life forms. I can incorporate their emotions, their thought processes even most of their memories. I then transmit the data to my planet."
"Where is that Mars?" Billy asked sarcastically.
"What planet do you call Mars?"
"The Red planet in our solar system," Billy said.
"You can show me because we are approaching your solar system."
The metallic walls melted away once again and Billy saw the planets approaching.
"How do you do that?" Billy asked.
"The interior walls, there solid metal one minute and they can melt away like a liquid gew," said Billy.
"I am not familiar with your planet's gew," it said, "but I can change shape at will. You see I am the probe."
"So how do you do the special effects?" Billy asked.
"I can be transparent, sold matter, and change form at will," said the probe, "I have been designed as such and I am a living organism."
"So do you have a name, you know like Sparky? Max? or something?" Billy asked, "You know I am in School and in my Science class I was taught nothing can travel faster than the speed of light."
"Yes, that is true with human technology," the probe said, "you are the first human I have come in contact with so I never had a human sounding name."
"OK, than Max it is," said Billy, with sarcastic humor in his voice, "so what you're saying is you the probe aren't physical matter?"
"When I travel faster than the speed of light I am no longer a solid mass," said Max. "I become a mass of energy squared its velocity. That same energy is used to propel us through space while protecting us at the same time. If it were humanly possible I would appear to those outside the probe to be a wave of energy."
"Umm hmmm," said Billy
"Everything that exists," said Max, "is made up of subatomic particles. Those particles are small masses of energy and waves of energy at the same time. Our technology allows us to manipulate and utilize that energy to our advantage. We are approximately 4 billion years ahead of your technology."
"OK, so why me? and why Truman? for crying out loud," said Billy, while using all of his spare energy to prevent his bladder from exploding.
"That was not planned," said Max, "my coming in contact with you was by shear luck."
"Luck?" Billy said laughing, "Truman is a Dog who chases Rabbits and I'm a sixth grader. Why would Truman and I be of any interest to your superior intellect?"
"I never met a human before," said Max. "Besides, you were hurt in some way and you would have surly died if I haven't been there. It wasn't planned and I wasn't even expecting to find a human there."
"I must of fell or something," said Billy.
"Truman was lying next to you keeping you warm with his body," said Max, "I could not take you without taking Truman. He yelled at me with great anger in his voice and he tried to protect you. When I changed shape and raised you out of the snow Truman ran into the Probe after you. I assumed he was your mate."
"He's a dog we are close but not that close," said Billy, "we like each other and yes he would protect me from harm and I would do the same for him."
"Yes, you must have fallen or perhaps that rabbet Truman chased attacked you or frightened you," said Max.
"Look rabbits don't scare me, now are we getting closer to earth?" asked Billy.
"There is earth," said Max, as the metallic once again melted away. The view was magnificent and Billy was awe struck by its beauty.
"Here we are right where I found you," the side of the probe opened up. "If you like I can wait until you and Truman finish bathing."
"Yes do that," said Billy, he and Truman ran to the nearest tree and let it rip.
"Why didn't you tell me you needed to remove excess body fluid and Truman undigested material," said Max, "you could have done that in the probe."
"Oh very funny," said Billy, it was than that he noticed the probe was completely off the ground.
"Woooo," he said as the probe moved by a simple touch of his hand, "no way."
|The return to Millville ( Part 2 )
"If you are for real fly over my house," said Billy, "no one is going to believe me. They will think I'm a loony tune."
"Loony tune is that a negative connotation," asked Max.
"That means completely nuts, bonkers, off ones rocker," said Billy.
"I have a lot to learn," said Max, "can we work together so that I can learn more about your planet and the human culture?"
"I suppose so," said Billy.
"I can make some alterations so that you can do away with excess fluid and matter when needed," said Max, "I would also like to give you something so that you can contact me when you need me."
"Dick Tracy has a wrist phone that looks like a wristwatch."
"What is a wristwatch? and what is a phone?" asked Max.
"Well a wristwatch is what you use to tell time and a phone is what you use to phone home," said Billy,
Billy held his wristwatch up to the metallic screen, "this is what I use to tell time."
"I can give you something like that," said Max "is Dick Tracy a friend of yours?"
"No," said Billy, "he's a comic script character."
"You see that symbol on the wall with the two interconnecting circles?" Max asked.
"Yes," said Billy with curiosity in his voice.
"Place your hand on it."
Billy did so and part of the wall lifted up and a wristwatch appeared inside.
"There is your wristwatch phone," said Max
"Hey Max," said Billy, "there are 32 markings on it with symbols I don't understand."
"Oh telling time is easy," said Max, "the 32 symbols are for the first 32 hours of the day and than it repeats for the last 32 hours, it adds up to the 64 hour day."
"Max on earth one day is 24 hours and we have numbers on our watches one through twelve or twelve symbols."
"OK than," Max said, "put it back, what number do you want on top?"
"Twelve, then one, then two, and so on," said Billy.
"Ok than now all you need to do is talk. If you say, Max 1, I will respond," Max told him.
"Cool," said Billy putting on the wristwatch but he noticed that it was running counter clockwise. But Billy still thought it was a cool watch.
"Is cool good?"
"Only the person wearing the wristwatch will hear me," Max said, "because it is not sound you will hear. Energy will resonate with the wristwatch. Whoever wares the watch will receive that energy from the probe."
"Cool," said Billy
"Energy will be sent from the probe to the wristwatch and into your body," Max said once again, "as time progresses there will be a lot of good that you will do with that energy."
"Can you drop me off at my home, now?"
"I have to drop Truman off too," Billy said to Max, "I'm going to have to teach you some slang, Max."
The Probe hovered over the Town of Millville as it followed the Main Street. It then turned right on Lumber Lane following Billy's direction.
Cars began rear ending one another as they stared upward at the probe. A police curser's lights went flashing on as it followed the probe down the street.
"Max I don't want you to get a citation or a ticket or something so I have an idea. Go straight up then come down real fast, the next street over. I'll just run through an entryway with Truman and take him home."
"OK," Max said and the probe was gone.
"Look," said officer Connelly into his car radio, "I'm telling ya, Emily, it was a UFO"
"And, I'm telling you Connelly to sleep it off," came Emily's reply over the radio.
"Hey Max, I'm probably going to be grounded for a few days because it's pretty late."
"I didn't mean to get you in trouble and being the cause of you breaking a law."
"That's Ok I just missed my curfew and I will call you when everything blows over," said Billy.
"Is breaking a curfew a lesser offence," asked Max.
"Yea when you're twelve, I will call you, Max, maybe we can take my sister for a ride she's four and I think that will be cool"
"Let's go Truman," Billy said.
A neighborhood kid saw Billy and Truman walking down the steps that instantly materialized from the side of the probe.
"Wooooo," the kid yelled, "did you see that Herb?"
"That must be one of those foreign vehicles," Herb a heavy set man sitting on his porch said, "No wonder our auto industry is going to crap."
"What you yapping about out there," his wife yelled out to him from inside the house.
"Someone dropped this kid and dog off across the street," he yelled back to her while drinking a quart of beer out of a paper bag.
"Why should that concern you?" she said, "come back inside its late."
"It must be one of those Jap vehicles," he said, "but the Japanese make those little compact cars ……."
"Herb who cares," she yelled, "you're starting to sound like one of those little nosy bodies gossiping about everybody else's business ……."
"Now if you let me get a word in edge wise I'll tell ya," Herb said, "now the side opened up, stairs popped out of it. You know so people won't fall out of the damn thing when their getting out," he paused took a gulp of his beer, "then it flew off."
"What do you mean it flew off?" she yelled, "they probably saw you staring at um."
"Who gives a crap, anyway" he said, "they probably pay an arm and a leg on fuel."
"Hey, Herb," said Officer Connelly as he pulled his cruiser up in front of Herb's house, "did you see anything unusual tonight?"
"Well, that's what I've been trying to explain to miss know it all in there," Herb told him.
"What's that," asked Connelly.
"Do you know they got these flying cars on the Market," Herb said, "those suckers must cost a fortune in fuel costs."
"You saw it, Herb?"
"Sure did with my own two eyes, it dropped off a kid and his dog. Dropped them off right across the street," he then took another gulp from his beer, "then it flew off."
"It flew off," Connelly said in a nervous voice.
"The side of that sucker opened up these stairs popped out. That kid and his dog got out and it flew off," Herb said a matter of factly.
"Herb, you think their Aliens," Connelly asked in a scared voice.
"Well, if their here illegally they must be hard working illegal's," said Herb, "It must take an awful lot of picking turnips and cucumbers, a tonnage of um, to afford a car that can fly. You want an educated guess Connelly ……."
"I'm not talking about those kinds of Aliens, Herb," Connelly said in frightened low Whisper.
"For crying out loud Connelly you're a Law Enforcement officer ……." Herb said.
"Shush, Herb they might be listening ……."
"Who gives a crap, Connelly."
"I'm saying Herb they could be from," Connelly raised his index finger upward to the sky.
"For Pete's sake pull yourself together," Herb yelled, "If their Aliens let the INS deal with um ……."
"Listen you lug head ……." Connelly said.
"Alright but just let me say this. You want my educated guess – its Drugs," Herb said, "pure and simple. The fact of the matter is it was only a matter of time before the Drugs reached Millville."
"Will you shut the hell up, Herb," Connelly said, "and keep your voice down."
"I don't give a crap if those drug peddlers hear me," Herb said in an angry voice. "This used to be a nice little town Connelly. Not anymore, especially now. With these drug pedaling undesirables with their flying cars ……."
"Meet me down at the Mud flap Tavern," Connelly said in a frustrated voice, "we need to talk about what we saw."
"He's not going anywhere," Herb's wife said while pouring Herb's quart of beer out on the sidewalk. "He's out here talking about flying cars and you're encouraging him to drink more. Some friend you are. Go home Connelly."
"Now since when do I get drunk on half a quart?" Herb told his wife, "He asked me what I saw and I told him."
"Herb what house did they go in?" Connelly asked.
"It didn't go in any house it went straight up," Herb said.
"I'm talking about the kid and the dog you idiot," Connelly yelled.
"They ran down that entryway across the street. Hey Connelly you think those drug pushers in that flying car are using that dog and kid to peddle drugs?"
"And you want him to go down to the Mud Flap Tavern," said Herb's wife.
Billy first noticed that the cars on his block looked different.
"What's the matter Truman you're acting really strange," Billy said, "what's with all the strange cars?"
Truman began barking as they walked towards Billy's house.
"Hey Truman there's a strange car in your driveway and at my house."
Billy tried to turn the doorknob but the door was locked. He then lifted the door mate up and picked up the key to the door.
"What's going on everything is different in the kitchen."
"Who the hell are you," a big heavy set guy yelled to Billy, "how the hell did you get in here !!!!!!!"
"I live here," Billy said.
"Stop busting my chops, Kid, I lived her for 10 years. Don't go anywhere I'm calling the police," he said to Billy holding a cell phone up to his ear.
"Yea right," Billy said angrily, "you're a liar and you are in big trouble mister now where are my Parent's?"
"This kid broken into my house and he got this big dog with him. He said he lives here and I say his nuts." As he was giving the police his address Billy walked out the door, "where the hell do you think you're going?"
"Next door will see whose lying," Billy said.
"The police are on there way kid you're not going to get very far."
When Billy knocked on his neighbor's door a stranger answered.
"Look kid if you're collecting for something forget it. I'm strapped right now come back next year."
"Where's Mr. Hendricks?"
"Mr. Hendricks?" Billy asked.
"Kid he died five years ago, that's when I moved in here."
"I just picked Truman up this afternoon," Billy said, "this afternoon, Mister."
"Hey kid what's going on?" asked Emily Cudoe a female Police Officer, "did you break into this man's house?"
"I didn't mean too," he said with tears in his eyes, "Max dropped me off at the wrong place."
"Ok what's your name Kid?" she asked.
"Come with me," she said.
"Where are you taking me?" he asked.
"The Police station, Kid, where do you think?"
"Can I bring Truman we are both homeless at the moment."
"Does he have all his shots?"
"I suppose so," he said
She read the Name on Truman's caller, 'Joe Hendricks' with a phone number.
"I knew a Joe Hendricks?" she said.
"He's Truman's owner he lived back there," Billy said in the Police cruiser.
"Mr. Hendricks's died five years ago and I have his Dog at home it's a black lab. It was just a puppy when Mr. Hendricks died."
"Am I going to jail?" he asked her as they drove off.
"One step at a time kid," she said in an angry voice, "now where does your parents normally hangout."
"Duh" he said, "where we were back there at the house. Max must have dropped me off in the Twilight Zone. Nothing is the same cars are different the people are different."
"Who's Max?" she asked.
"He said he saved my life near the park this afternoon."
"Did he give you anything like drugs or something. You can tell me kid I want to help you."
"Max one," Billy said.
"Hello little buddy," Max said.
"I'm in really serious trouble Max,"
"No problairmo I got your 20" said Max.
"Why are you talking funny, Max?"
"I been picking up old CB broadcasts learning some of the lingo"
"Hey kid why are you talking to you're watch?" Emily asked.
"I'm talking to Max he got my location."
"There's not even a full moon tonight," she said to herself, "I got nut jobs calling in prank UFO sittings. I have a kid in my cruiser talking to his watch with a big mutt whose owner been dead for five years."
"Car 24" said the voice over the radio.
"We got a bunch of those calls coming in again."
"Where's Connelly?" Emily asked
"He said he's down at 'the Mud Flap tavern' interviewing people," came the reply over the radio.
"Yea, great place for interviews, now look if Connelly is behind this nonsense. I will knock the living daylights out of um. Where are these calls coming from?"
"Lumber Lane" said the dispatcher.
"I'm on Lumber Lane," at that moment she saw a bunch of people with video cameras and some taking snap shots on the road.
"We know you're on Lumber Lane, you don't see anything?"
"Hey wait a minute I see Connelly with a video camera."
She stopped her cruiser rolled down her window and yelled, "this isn't one bit funny Connelly. I got to take this kid to the station and locate his parents so knock it off."
"Hey Max where are you at?" Billy asked.
"Right above you little buddy"
"Well first off stop calling me little buddy and Max just stand by ok. But give us some distance because you're freaking people out."
"What do you mean by freaking people out?"
"Well you notice all those people running out of their homes to see you?"
"Well that's what I mean by freaking out?"
"How much distance do they need?"
"20 miles maybe straight up"
"Ok standing by, hey before you go what do you want me to call you?"
"I'll get back to you on that," said Billy.
"What's with the News Helicopter flying overhead?" Emily said as she got out of her cruiser.
As Emily, Truman, and Billy walked into the Police Station the Millville Dispatcher said to Emily, "News Watch 48 is outside they want to interview you about the UFO."
"Let Connelly handle the interviews I got to locate this Kids Parents"
"Have a seat Kid," Emily said while pulling out a chair next to her desk.
"Are you booking me?" asked Billy.
"I want to help you so be totally honest with me. I'll call you're parents, and I'll get everything straightened out. You can even take Truman home with you."
A News reporter was standing near by in the station with a News Camera crew waiting for Officer Connelly to show up.
"You have to be patient Officer Connelly is on his way," the dispatcher told the News Crew.
"OK kid date of Birth," asked Emily.
"Really, that was my Brother's Birthday his name was Billy too"
"Was he older," Billy asked her.
"Yep Eight years," she said, "but lets get you squared away first OK."
"My sister is four and her name is Emily too and I'm eight years older then her too."
"Ok so you're twelve so that means you were born in 1988. See we are making progress," she said.
"Yea but you made a mistake," he said.
"Ok so what was the mistake?"
"I was born in 1968" said Billy
"Look we can make this easy or we can make it hard so what's it going to be?" she said angrily.
"I'm answering the questions," he said with tears in his eyes.
"I'm going to get a cup of Coffee do you want a soda?"
"Coke?" she asked
"Regular?" she asked.
|The return to Millville ( Part 3 )
"Do you want a regular coke?" she asked with frustration.
"What other kind is there," Billy asked all confused.
"Diet, cherry vanilla, and the regular coke" Emily said trying to hold her cool.
"Cherry Vanilla sounds good"
"Max dropped me off in the Twilight Zone." Billy said.
"I'm going to strangle that kid," she said to herself.
"Hey kid what did you do Rob a Bank?" a reporter asked him.
"No I can't find my family," Billy said.
"Were they missing long?"
"No I saw them this afternoon."
"I'm sure the Officer will help ya."
"Ya but like everytime I answer her questions she gets all stressed out and mad at me."
"What do you mean," the reporter asked.
"Like my date of Birth."
"Hey kid maybe I could help you what is your date of Birth."
"Really?" the reporter said, "how old are you?"
"Hey kid what year is it?"
"Dah" he said. "1980,"
"Hey Kid who's the President?"
"Now what kind of Moron questions are you asking me?"
"Hey Kid let me help ya"
"Now how are these questions suppose to help me?"
"Just a couple more questions OK"
"Who's the President?"
"Dah" he repeated, "Jimmy Carter"
"OK Kid what is your Name?"
"Billy Wiseman," he said, "can you find my Parents now?"
"I'm going to do everything I can I promise," the reporter told him, "do you remember anything like where you were?"
"Sure I was with Truman and Max all day"
"Look if I tell you, you're going to think I'm a loony tune."
"Trust me I am open minded"
"What the hell are you doing," Emily yelled to the reporter from across the room.
"He's going to help me find my parents," Billy yelled to her.
"Kid where were you?" the reporter asked him once again.
"In a Space Probe," he said in a matter of fact tone. "I named the probe Max. It saved my life. The Probe's technology is 4 Billion years more advanced than our Technology."
The reporter began to stutter at that moment as he repeated "4 Billion."
"Look let me do my job," said Emily as she walked over to her desk handing Billy a soda.
"I'm going to find them," the reporter told Billy, "I'm definitely going to locate them I promise."
"Look I think we got off on the wrong foot can we try this again?" Emily asked Billy, "Now did Officer Connelly put you up to this …….?"
"Officer Connelly can I just ask you a few questions? This is strictly off the record," said the reporter outside the station.
"Well I know who you are you're that reporter from the Millville Centennial."
"Yes my name is Mark Hammond," he said while handing the officer his card. "Did you know Billy Wiseman?"
"No, I thought you guys were going to ask me about the UFO."
"We got someone else covering UFO's," said the reporter, "well I got to get going I'm trying to locate Billy Wiseman's parents."
The reporter began walking towards his car.
Officer Connelly then yelled over to him in the parking lot.
"If you're really interested in Billy Wiseman the best person to talk to is his sister. She was only 4 years old when he went missing though. She can barely remember him. His disappearance really did a number on her family."
"What," the reporter said excitedly, "Where can I find her?"
"Well did you check inside?"
"People know her in there?" the reporter asked.
"She works for the Department. I saw her earlier she's helping some kid find his parents."
"What about Billy Wiseman's Parents?" the reporter asked, "are they still alive?"
"They are living about ten miles outside of Millville. They moved there about ten years ago."
The reporter went running back into the station a short time later.
Billy was sitting at the desk alone visibly stressed out with Truman lying by his feet.
"Hey kid I found your parents and I talked to them on the phone," the reporter said, "But there is something you need to know."
The reporter paused for a bit not sure how to tell Billy the truth, "Hey kid, I don't know where to start," he said, "you've been gone for twenty years."
"No way, eight hours, tops," said Billy.
"The year is 2000," the reporter said, "Clinton is President."
"How is that possible I was only gone a day not twenty years."
"Hey kid if everything you're telling me is true then this is something the greatest minds will ponder for a very, very, long time."
"Why don't they just ask Max?" Billy asked.
"Ask who?" the reporter asked.
"Max, the probe"
"How can they do that?" asked the reporter.
"He gave me a wristwatch phone to call him on."
"You have been talking to him?" the reporter asked.
"Sure I told him to go twenty miles straight up because he was freaking everybody out. He was following me when I was in the police car with Emily."
"Do you know who Emily is?"
"Well, I know she's a police officer," Billy said, "and pissed because she thinks I'm lying. She drinks a lot of coffee too."
"Did you tell her your name?"
"I told her my name is Billy. She had a brother Billy too, and we have the same date of Birth. Her brother was eight years older than her. I told her I have a sister named Emily and I'm eight years older than my sister too."
"Does she know your last name?"
"We never got passed my date of Birth" Billy said.
"Billy she's your Sister."
"How can that be she's old?"
"She's 24 now and married," said the reporter.
"Do you think Max dropped me off in the Twilight Zone?" Billy asked in a stressed out voice, "Maybe Max could take me back where he found me."
A man and woman walked up to the dispatcher.
"Is Emily here," the woman asked, "we got this strange phone call from a reporter."
"Mom, Dad, what are you guys doing here?" Emily asked them after her fourth cup of Coffee.
"Is it true?" her Mother asked.
"Don't tell me you guys have been hosed into this." Emily said thinking her parents were there because of the UFO reports.
"I have to see for myself Emily,"
"Mom there is nothing to it it's just Officer Connelly pulling an elaborate joke because I put him on report. There's no such thing as UFO's."
"Hey Kid is that them?" the reporter asked Billy.
"They look old and different," Billy said.
He walked up to them with Truman.
"Hey kid, go back over there I'm not done with you yet," said Emily.
"Mom, Dad," said Billy, "you look so different."
His parents looked at him in disbelief but his mannerisms and everything about him was truly their son.
"This is Truman can we please keep him?" Billy watched his Mother faint to the floor, "Mom I'm sorry."
"Mom," yelled Emily as she helped her Mother to a chair.
"Billy where the hell have you been?" his father asked, "and why haven't you aged?"
"I was only gone a day."
"He's Billy?" Emily asked in disbelief.
"I was in a Space Probe."
The reporter started dialing a number franticly on his cell phone.
"Lou" the reporter said excitedly on the phone, "this story is out of this world."
"Emily how is this possible?" her mother asked her.
"I'll ask Max tomorrow," said Billy, "he asked me to help him learn about the human culture."
"You were with him for twenty years?" Emily asked, she could barely remember her big brother but there he was now her little brother.
"No not even a day" Billy said.
"You will see him tomorrow?" Emily asked
"I will call him tomorrow."
"Why did he take you?" Emily asked
"He said he saved my life."
"How are you going to call him?" asked his Father.
"I'll use my wristwatch phone," he said, "it's kind of like the one Dick Tracy used. Hey can we go now?"
"Yea, I'll straighten everything out," said Emily, "and I will stop by later."
"What about Truman he has no place to go?" Billy asked.
"Yea you could take him," said Emily.
"Hey kid before you go is there anyway I could meet Max?" the reporter asked, "and can I ask you some more questions about Max?"
"Can this wait till tomorrow we just want to get him home now," his Mother told the Reporter.
The reporter began taking snapshots of the family.
"Hey don't you want to ask me questions about the UFO," Officer Connelly asked the Reporter as he entered the station.
"I'll call ya," the reporter told Connelly.
"Everything is so different nothing is the same," Billy told his parents the next day as they walked around the town. There were vacant lots were buildings once stood. Some of the stores and restaurants are gone. His friends were long gone too with families of their own.
"Billy you were gone a long time," his Mother told him.
"We had you declared dead," his Father said.
"Even though we never gave up hope that you were alive somewhere," his Mother told him.
It wasn't long before the Men in suites showed up knocking on their door. They were Government Men with lots and lots of questions. Billy kept the wristwatch though he kept that much to himself. It was out of fear they would take it from him.
The little town of Millville was no longer the same.
UFO shops opened up with strange tails and fabrications of when the Aliens came to town. The once little economically depressed lumber town has now become a tourist town. 'The flying saucer Bed and breakfast' opened up. Tour buses drove by the Wiseman's home three times a day. Truman and Billy dolls were sold at the UFO shops. Along with T-shirts that say 'I visited Millville.' For extra money Billy signed his name on T-shirts for the tourists and Truman provided them his paw print.
Their lives were no longer the same and the Government intrusion became too much for the Wisemans to handle.
"We have an Officer Connelly with us this evening and a friend of his from the town of Millville," said Larry King.
"So the unidentified flying object stopped on your street," asked Mr. King.
"Oh no Larry we definitely identified it", said Herb, "no doubt about it."
"What was it than?" asked Larry
"A UFO, Larry" said Herb
"So it was an Unidentified Flying Object?" Larry King asked
"Well at first it was, cuzz, I thought it was a flying car ……." said Herb
"Really, any particular make or model," Larry asked.
"No, No," Herb repeated, "I thought it was one of those foreign fancy makes at first. Because of how the stairs popped out of it."
"So when did you realize it was an Unidentified Flying Object," Larry asked.
"I suppose when it dropped that kid off with his dog. Like I said, Larry, I thought it was a flying car at first. But then a few days later Connelly here explained to me that it was definitely a UFO."
"So you saw it too, Officer Connelly," asked Larry King
"Sure did, Larry, it went right down the main street ……." Connelly said.
"So what did it look like?" asked Larry.
"Like a UFO, Larry," said Herb
" Hummm hmmm," said Larry King, "you know we tried to have the Wiseman family on but they declined."
"They are hoping this will all blow over, Larry" said Officer Connelly.
"Is that right."
Billy was under the covers in his room when his parents checked on him.
"Hey Max twenty years is a long time," said Billy
"Sorry about that, Billy, twenty earth years doesn't seem that long when you consider how long I've been around."
"My parents don't know how to get me reenroll in school. Because the school is saying I'm 32 and my parents are saying I'm still 12. Now, my father wants me to start my paper rout again."
"Well I can pick up your distress in your voice," Max said
"I was questioned all day by these Government guys they want to take me to a place called Fort Meade to conduct tests on me. I don't want to go with them Max. Now, some guy named 'Oliver Stone' wants to make a movie about my life. Max I was only with you for eight hours."
"Well time slows down when you travel faster than the speed of light," Max said. "It's difficult to explain. It's like taking a piece of cloth and folding it – to allow the folded ends to touch. I can travel through space and time because space and time is like that fabric. I can travel to different parts of the fabric – by simply folding the fabric of space and time."
"So you make the folded parts of the fabric touch and you can go to the parts that touch," said Billy, "faster than the speed of light."
"Yes," Max said, "if you concentrate enough energy in a linier direction faster than the speed of light it will fold space and time."
"I think I understand, Max."
"Folding space and time, Billy, is like taking universal shortcuts through space. You tell those government men that and I am sure they will ask you a lot more questions."
"I don't want to go to Fort Meade, Max."
"I certainly see the problem I caused, Billy."
"Some of the people taking the tours past our house are just plan whirred too Max. My father complained to the Mayor about it and the Mayor told him its revenue. Now my father wants a cut of the revenue."
"What is revenue?" asked Max, "it must be something of value."
"I don't know, Max, can we get together tomorrow?"
"We can go somewhere, a place you would like to see," Max said.
"Can we stay within our solar system?" asked Billy, "and you can't be folding anything either because I have to be back for Dinner."
The following week Billy's mother answered the knock on her front door.
"Mrs. Wiseman, I'm Dr. Cooper is Billy home?"
"No I'm sorry he's not he went out to meet up with his friend Max."
"Do you know when he will be back?"
"I told him to be back before Dinner."
"Mrs. Wiseman would you mind if we took Billy to England to meet with Stephen Hawking."
"I never heard of him."
"Oh he is a very renowned Astrophysicist and he would like to talk to Belly about the space time continuum."
"You think you guys could get him enrolled in a school over there."
"I'm sure we could work something out."
Billy sat down behind the probe's control consul.
"Where are we going, Max?" Billy asked.
"I've been studying your Ocean life do you want to see?"
The probe dove underwater Billy could see various sea life. He saw Dolphins, Wales, and fish of every shape and size.
"Would you like to get out and meet them?"
"I can't breathe underwater, Max."
"I will design something for you so you can breathe," Max said, "place your hand where you got the wristwatch." In doing so part of the probe's wall opened up and a thin one piece suite was seen.
"It will keep you dry and warm," said Max.
"There is no opining for my eyes, ears, and mouth but I could hear through it, see, and breathe," said Billy.
"You will be able to glide underwater at will and breathe freely," said Max.
"Max they like me," he said as he glided through the water with the school of Dolphins.
"I had a long conversation with them and their language is much more complex than yours," Max said.
"What do you call that large creator," Max asked.
"It's a Whale," said Billy. "Isn't it magnificent?"
He laid on the Whale's back as it pulled him up to the surface. There was a large Whaling ship on the surface of the water. The men aboard were about to harpoon their great catch of the day.
"They want to kill the Whale Max"
The Men aboard just stared not knowing what to make of the boy riding the large sea creator.
"Is he your pet?" one of the Men yelled to Billy with shock and disbelief in his face and voice.
"Just a friend," he replied, "I just met him an hour ago."
"How the hell did you get out here?" another sailor yelled.
"My friend Max brought me he's underwater talking to a school of Dolphins," Billy said, "thanks for not hurting my friend."
"Full speed a head," came a thunderous cry from one of the sailors, "lets get the hell out of here."
The probe slowly rose to the surface of the Ocean. The side of the probe opened and Billy walked up a few steps. It was than that he noticed the U.S. Battleship slowing down.
He turned and waved to the sailors on board.
"That's a cool ship," Billy yelled to the sailors, "I got to go though I don't want to be late for Dinner"
A large whale jumped up out of the water and dove with great majestic beauty. Dolphins began doing the same in a playful manner.
"I'll be back tomorrow," Billy told them, "I just have to go home for dinner."
"Tell them I will be back tomorrow Max"
The side of the Probe closed up it then turned changed shape and was gone in a blink of an eye.
"I've been out here to long," said one of the sailors on board the U.S. Battleship.
"What the hell was that?" a sailor asked.
"Was it one of ours?" someone yelled.
"Billy would you like to visit my home planet," asked Max.
"The last time I went to space with you I came back 20 years later"
"I could get you back in 12," said Max.
"12 years is kind a long, Max?"
|The return to Millville ( Part 4 )
"We can teach you so much and learn a great deal from you as well," said Max.
"I will have to ask my parents," Billy said
The probe touched down at a near by park. An elderly intoxicated individual down on his luck witnessed Billy jumping out of the probe in order to make it home in time for Dinner.
"I got to lay off the juice," he said to himself as the Probe darted upward.
"So how was your day, Billy?" his Mother asked during their Dinner.
"I met knew friends today," he said
"You should bring them by sometime," his father said.
"They live in the Ocean," said Billy, "can I go on another trip for twelve years?"
"Twelve years?" his Mother asked in a shocked voice.
"Max wants to take me to his Home Planet," Billy said, "for a higher education."
His parents stared at him, his father then passed him the potato's while his mother poured Billy some Ice tea.
"There living in our Oceans?" his father asked him with fear in his voice.
"No, Max took me there," he said, "Do you want to meet him?"
"Well this Government man came by he wants to take you to England. He wants you to meet someone there."
"I've been to England with Max and a bunch of other countries. Max fixed this tower that was leaning in Italy at a place called Pisa. When Max straightened out the tower it really freaked the Italians out some of them even got down right mad about it."
"The government man said he could get you enrolled in a School," his father said.
"I'd rather go with Max."
The following day the Probe landed in an open field.
"Have a nice trip Billy," his Father said.
While his Mother gave Billy a big hug military helicopters began flying overhead. Government cars quickly surrounded the probe. Men from various government agencies tried in vain to enter the probe and talk Billy into remaining behind.
"I'll be back in twelve years" Billy said.
The Probe lifted up, turned, changed shape and was gone.
A NASA scientist kicked his car door when he witnessed the probe vanish before his eyes. His opportunity to gain access to it's secretes vanished with it.
"Why a child?" he asked a fellow scientist, "why would it come all this why to bring a child back with it? I don't understand."
"Perhaps because children can easily learn they have less preconceived notions than adults," said his coworker, "we are just going to have to wait."
Max gave Billy one more joy ride before heading to deep space.
"Hey Billy what are those things flying beside us?" Max asked
"Military fighter jets, Max, there's four of um. I'll wave to them so they'll know were friendly."
"It's a kid Colonel he's waving to us," said one of the fighter pilots over the radio to ground control.
"Does he know he's in restricted air space?" asked the Colonel.
"I doubt it Sir"
"What the hell is that kid flying," the Colonel barked back.
"Nothing we've ever seen Sir," another pilot said.
"Hey Max there's the White House," said Billy
"Who lives there?" Max asked
"Don't you know anything? the President."
"Is he important?"
"Duh" said Billy
"I'll take that as a yes," said Max, "do you think he has something to do with those four Jets flying beside us?"
"We better get going than Max because those pilots are starting to look pissed."
"How can you tell?" asked Max
"None of them waved back to me."
"Well !!!!!!!" the Colonel yelled to the Pilots, "what the hell is it?"
"Sir, it stopped in mid air and then went straight up," said one of the Pilots, "its gone Sir."
"Yea we saw that you said a damn Kid was flying it …….?"
"Someone out there is going out of their way to make us look foolish, Colonel !!!!!" the Major General yelled on the phone. "I'm going to get to the bottom of it because the U.S. of A. is not a country to fool with !!!!!!!"
Government men, those educated scientist type, the so called intellectuals, went over the video interviews with Billy and waited with anticipation for his return.
In the summer of 2012 the probe returned and stopped a few thousand miles above the earth.
"Yes Phileo," which Billy preferred to be called now.
"I would like to travel the earth for a short time," he told Max, "I'm sure there have been many changes since I have been here last."
"Where would you like to go first?"
"Max, I would like to design a motorcycle a two wheel vehicle that I could ride?"
A screen popped up from the control consol and with Max's help they designed a bike. The side of the probe opened up in a field and Philo rode off. It wasn't long before he realized though that he had no money.
"Max," he said as he headed down a bustling and congested highway, "I have no cash."
"Is that something that goes with the bike?" Max asked.
"It's something you trade something of value."
"Well perhaps we could design it together."
"Well, on earth you need money to buy things?" Phileo said, "I have an idea."
Phileo rode back to meet the probe and a short time later he was back on his bike.
He walked into a Jewelry store that same afternoon.
"Excuse me do you buy diamonds in here?" he asked the woman behind the counter.
She looked at the stone, "Is that glass?" she asked.
She took it with her and came back with the owner.
"Where on gods earth did you get this its flawless"
"It has been in my family for quite sometime," Phileo said. After all he couldn't tell the gentleman behind the counter. That he made the Diamond within a matter of seconds with the help of a space probe.
"I don't carry that kind of money here in the store," the owner told him, "but I am definitely interested in doing business with you. There are plenty of international diamond brokers I could contact."
"Well you can keep it for now," Phileo told him, "just give me what you can and I will come by for the rest of the money in a few weeks."
"I only have a few thousand," the owner said.
"That's fine," Phileo said.
He then noticed a large group of people outside the store and a woman weeping franticly. He learned that the woman's golden retriever was struck by a speeding car.
"The dog is going to have to be put down," a police officer told her.
"Wait here," Phileo told the woman, "I can help your dog."
"Max" he said in a slow whisper, "I need your help with a dying dog."
"I will scan the dog and I will retrieve the data," Max said.
"Are you a vet?" the officer asked.
"No," said Phileo
"Place one hand on the dogs head," Max told him, "and the other hand near his heart."
"Max the dog is dead."
"I will help the dog," Max told him.
The energy was intense it moved through Phileo's body with a radiant force. The dog's tail moved slightly. He felt and then heard the dog's heart begin to beat. The dog slowly took a breath and the warm blood moved through his arteries. Broken bones began to mend and the dog let out a faint whimper. Within five minutes the dog was back on its feet.
"He will be alright," Phileo told the woman.
"Who are you?" she barley got the words out as she stared at him.
"My friends call me Phileo," he said as the golden retriever licked his hand.
"Do you live in the city," the officer asked.
"No just visiting," came the reply.
"Is that your bike," the officer asked, "I never seen anything like it."
"It was custom built," Phileo said, "I designed it myself."
"My name is Carina," the woman said excitedly, "and my dog's name is Meg."
"Well is there a good place to eat around here," Phileo asked.
"If you're not in a hurry I'll join you," she said.
"That will be nice."
"How did you do that," she asked.
"It's just something I picked up over the years."
"That is a nice suite," she said to him.
"Thanks, I designed my own clothes as well," he said.
"I never seen anything quite like it," she said while touching the fabric.
"If you don't mind my asking how old are you?" she asked.
Phileo had the appearance of a 25 year old so he told her he was 25. He explained he just returned from studying abroad and that he is taking some time off. They talked for hours and drank at a near by restaurant that evening.
She was 26 years old and an intern at a local hospital. She told him about her difficulties working with young patients with no chance of recovery.
While she told him the stories of the suffering children he could visibly see the pain in her eyes. "They have little hope of recovery," she said and he was moved by the sound of her voice.
It was a very long time that he talked intimately with a fellow human being. It seemed as if it was too long for him to have been away. He listened to the soft subtle tones of her voice. He watched the warm expressions in her face and smile. There was softness to her mannerisms as she moved herself closer to him.
That evening he told Max about his experiences as he lay in the probe above the earth. He gazed out at the stars wondering and thinking about a possible future with Carina.
"Perhaps you found your mate, Phileo."
"I like her Max. I really like her."
They walked and talked a few days later as they slowly moved in the direction of her apartment. She didn't know what to make of it at first. She never felt so drawn to a person that she barely knows. He was a bit perplexed as well he didn't know what to make of his feelings for her. The one thing they had in common in that moment in time – they were intently drawn to each other. It was an attraction a deep intimate attraction that they both surrendered too. As if they knew each other from far away from some distant past.
"I barley know him," said her thoughts it was her rational side reminding her as they continued walking and talking.
He was the mysterious stranger that saved her dog. Her dog was the closest thing she had next to her patients. But there he was the complete stranger that walked into her heart.
She put on some music in her apartment and brought out some red wine.
She was mostly drawn to his innocence and his gentleness as she moved and placed her lips on his.
He has never been kissed before.
She was not sure what to make of his innocent reaction. He placed the tips of his fingers to his lips after the kiss while staring into her eyes.
"What's the matter silly," she said softly, "it's like you never been kissed before."
The sweet smell of her body, the softness of her naked skin as she lied next to him was not something he experienced either. He watched her intently as his body reacted to her gentle touch and soft caress. He then followed her lead as he listened and felt her body react as the pleasure moved through their bodies like ocean waves.
It was during the rising of the morning sun that he noticed how the sun brought out the beauty of the gentle texture of her hair. No galaxies or stars could match the beauty of that moment or capture the feelings of his heart.
"I would like to meet the children" Phileo told her, as she got ready for work.
"That would be nice," she said.
"I can take you their on my bike," he said.
The cycle pulled on to a bustling freeway.
"We need to do something about those kids," Phileo said.
"Who are you talking to?" Carina asked
"My friend Max," he said.
"I am here to help," Max said.
"I'm going to buy some threads and I will contact you."
"What are you going to do with the thread?" Max asked.
"Clothes Max. I'm going to buy some new clothes."
"You have an invisible friend named Max," she asked laughing.
"Well he's not invisible it's more like talking into a phone," he said.
"Yea, but I don't see a phone," she said, "your friend should have warned you about the statey behind us."
"The what? behind us," he asked.
He noticed the flashing lights from the highway patrol that was tailing him for quite sometime. "You're going to have to pull over," Carina said.
So he pulled over to talk to the officer.
"Nice bike," said the trooper.
"Yes I designed it myself."
"Your tag says 'Phileo One,'" the trooper said in a sarcastic voice, "did you design that too."
"Yea, I came up with it," Phileo said.
"I need your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance."
"Well you see, officer, I have been away for quite sometime and I just got back. Registering it just slipped my mind and as for a driver's license. Where I was living I didn't need one. Same story with the insurance but I got great coverage none the less."
"So what you're telling me is you're driving illegally?"
"I'm afraid so"
"Can I make a suggestion Phileo," Max said, "if you drive off road you might be able to out maneuver him."
"Oh damn I'm going to be late for work," Carina said.
"Friend of yours," the trooper asked her.
"Well, actually," she said, "I just met him a few days ago."
"I'm really sorry officer I didn't mean to break any laws and I will try and straighten everything out with the department of motor vehicles," said Phileo right before he headed down the highway.
The trooper ran back to his cruiser to make quick pursuit.
"What are you doing are you crazy you can't run from the police," Carina told him.
"Hold on tight, I don't want you to be late for work," he said.
"Well it's not worth getting arrested over," she said.
"Now you tell me," he said.
With lights flashing, sirens blaring, two other state troopers showed up to witness, 'Phileo one,' lift off the ground towards the sky.
"Oh my God what's happening?" she screamed, "this is amazing."
She held on to Phileo's body with all her might as the cycle soared through the sky.
Cars rear ended one another causing traffic to come to a halt as they too witnessed the amazing getaway.
"So where should I land," he asked.
"The parking garage," she said
The cycle pulled into the hospital's parking garage or should I say flew in.
"Ok who are you?" she asked.
"Well my real name is Billy Wiseman," he said, "I'm from small town called Millville."
"So where you come from they have flying bikes?"
"No,I designed the bike" he said, "I just forgot about the registration, license, and proof of insurance."
"Ahhh huhhh," she said while staring at him.
"Are you doing anything later," he asked, "maybe dinner?"
It wasn't long before Government agents interviewed the trooper for a precise description of the driver of 'Phileo One.'
That same morning Phileo met with the children in the pediatric unit and spent the rest of the day with them. Prior to leaving he gave each child a nonmaterial gift from his heart to theirs.
Carina could not find the words or how to describe to the parents the childrens miraculous recoveries. But in her heart she knew Phileo was behind the gift.
"I have to go away for awhile to take care of a few things," he told Carina, "but I will be back."
It wasn't long though before men with Government ID's began asking questions at the hospital.
The Probe landed in front of the White House in mid summer of 2012. Marines with rifles and military helicopters landed shortly there after. In the distant sky fighter jets flew overhead.
"I mean no harm," Phileo said to them as he lifted his hands.
The probe's door closed as soon as Phileo stepped out. The Secret service surrounded him.
"I must see the President it is urgent," he said.
The secret service held him for hours.
"I will answer and tell you everything you need to know but I must meet with the president."
The President's National Security advisor entered the room.
"Why do you want to meet with the President," he asked.
"It's imperative that I do and I mean no harm to anyone."
A person entered the room wearing a sweatshirt with the Presidential seal on it with matching jogging pants, "I'm the President," he said.
They walked into the Oval Office.
"I know who you are," said the President "a lot of people have been waiting for your return."
"I have two discs for you," Phileo told him, "the information can help the human race and your entire planet."
"I will have my people examine them."
"The information must be shared it is very important," said Phileo, "the information must be uploaded onto the internet so that all people can access it in order to benefit from it. I am giving you cures for all the known human ailments. Ways to harness and produce an abundance of energy to benefit your entire planet."
"We will take everything into advisement."
"I would like for you to arrange a meeting for me to speak before the United Nations. I will answer all their questions and put everyone at ease."
"You can remain in the White House as my guest until I arrange such a meeting."
The Military were scratching their heads trying to figure out how to move the Probe from the White House lawn. It was completely off the ground but not by their doing. Nothing at their disposal was able to move the damn thing. Scientist could not even determine what the Probe was made out of. No matter how much heat they apply, it still remained cool.
Within hours of the meeting with the President the commander and chief called a meeting with his cabinet.
"Mr. President I have to advise you against following his advice," said his National security advisor, "we do not know if these discs could create a world wide virus knocking out sensitive computer networks."
"I have to agree, Mr. President," said his defense secretary, "this could be a roués to access or destroy our entire communications network."
"For Pete's sake, don't you think he has the technology to do that without the discs," said the President, "that probe sitting out in my front lawn can go faster than the speed of light."
"We must weigh the health and technological benefits from what they are offering us," said his secretary of health.
"Why would they travel 500 light years to hand us two discs to solve all of our energy and health issues," asked the President's chief of staff, "they want something in return."
"Of course they do but the question is what?" said the President, "he told me he would like to speak before the United Nations which I will arrange."
"I don't trust him," said the secretary of Defense, "I will have my people go over every megabit of data on those discs. If there is something embedded on them we'll find it."
"For crying out loud," said the President, "they traveled 500 light years with superior knowledge and technology and you guys are worried about him planting a electronic computer virus."
They were unaware that everything in the White House was being monitored by the Probe.
The entire world was tuned in to hear what Phileo had to say before the United Nations.
"I do not have a prepared speech," Phileo told them, "I will simply answer whatever questions you have as simply and honestly as possible."
"Its Billy" his Mother said as she saw her son on TV.
"Hey Carina," a Nurse said, "Isn't that the guy that was here?" she asked as they became glued to the National News broadcast on TV.
"It's my big brother," said Emily to her husband, "he's on TV."
"Why are you here?" was the first question addressed to him.
|The return to Millville ( Part 5 )
“You all heard my story from Newspapers and media broadcasts and as you already know. I am a human being. But I am also an emissary from a planet approximately 500 light years away. A probe was sent to our region of space approximately 32 years ago. It discovered our planet quite by accident. It was sent to learn and discover the various regions of space and transmit the data to their home planet.”
“How advanced are they?” someone asked.
“The probe’s technology is approximately 4 Billion years more advanced than our present Technology. Like I said it was in 1980 that they discovered our planet quite by accident. It saved my life when I was dying in a wooded area in my hometown. I was then taken into space by the probe. We were gone for what I thought was 8 hours but when we returned it was the year 2000.”
“Why you?” someone shouted over other questions being asked, “Why not come themselves?“
“I volunteered to go to their planet in the year 2000,” he said, “I was on their planet approximately 72 earth years. However, their technology and knowledge of the space time continuum returned me in the year 2012.”
“How old are you?” another person asked.
“I was born in 1968 forty four years ago. However, I spent 72 of your earth years on a planet I named, 'Phileon,' which would make me 84 years old. Physically speaking though I am approximately 25 years old because you age much slower on their planet.”
“Please forgive me I am not with the UN, I am a reporter,” a woman said, “please tell us what you learned on Phileon.”
“The Phileons are nothing like us,” he than paused trying to find the words, “the only way to describe my experience is to say. Our physical bodies are much denser than theirs. They do not have a DNA structure like us; they do not see or hear like us. They see with their whole being they do not speak words or think in words.”
“How did you communicate with them?” the reporter asked.
“Humans when they show affection they smile and hug. We say a kind word pat someone on the back. We are physical beings; the Phileons are not physical like us. They are beings of light energy they communicate with their entire being. They some how evolved beyond our comprehension.”
“Can you clarify that,” the reporter asked.
“It’s difficult because my words are inadequate. The only way to describe them is by saying they are beings of light energy their physical density is pure energy. They communicate by sharing their energy with one another. It’s a loving energy but yet you cannot see them with the human eye or hear them with the human ear. I had to cover my body completely with a special suite that they designed for me. The head piece covered my head completely; it covered my eyes, mouth, and ears. It allowed me to breathe and also to, feel, see, and hear them."
He paused and looked at everyone in the room and said, "they appeared like beings of a warm glowing light. The sound of their presence was like the purest form of music that no earthly music could match. They communicated with me by sharing themselves by embracing me with their whole being. It wasn’t like a human touch. I felt completely embraced by a loving presence." He paused and then repeated, "I felt completely loved in their presence.”
He then paused once again and took a drink of water, “I did not want to leave. They scanned me so to speak and they created an environment for me like a human home. It was done by manipulating energy. They know how to manipulate the subatomic elements to their advantage. But they also were able to retrieve my thoughts and use my past experiences on earth in order to comfort me on their planet. They accessed my thoughts and experiences to learn more about the human race. They also learned about the human genome and our physical structure. They can instantly cure every known human ailment by correcting and restoring the minuit flaws on our genetic signature. They can slow the aging process by restoring our genes.”
“Can you elaborate on that,” the reporter asked.
“The cells in our body when they replicate they amplify the damage that has been done to them by external influences. The Phileons as I call them can reverse the damage on the genetic level by restoring the genes and correcting whatever deceases we are genetically predisposed too.”
“So what you are saying they can offer us this technology,” someone excitedly asked.
“And much more,” Phileo said, “it is extremely difficult to find the words to describe my experiences. They are completely dependent on one another for their sustenance. They live for one another. They have no concept of ‘I,’ or ‘Me.’ They are not egocentric in thought they live for the ‘Us,’ and the ‘We.’”
“What is the name of their Planet,” another reporter asked.
"There is no human sounding name for their planet so I named the planet, ‘Phileon’ which means planet of love. I named the citizens of the planet ‘Phileons’ because they are beings of love. They are a loving light energy which they share with one another.”
“What form of Government do they have?” someone shouted over others who were also trying to ask questions.
“Well, they evolved beyond national boarders. They do not have elected officials.”
He paused, smiled, and then asked the individual, “what would you say is one of the great technological achievements within the last twenty years?”
“The internet,” came a reply.
“Well, here on earth you invented the internet it is an extraordinary tool,” Phileo said, “I am sure many people are totally dependent on this technology. Picture each and every devise that has access to the internet as being a living cell like the cells in our body. Those cells are totally dependent on the entire organism. At the same time the organism is totally dependent on the cells that make up the organism. The human brain is dependent on the neurons in the brain. They retrieve and disseminate information to the surrounding cells. Our external experiences influence how our brains evolve, how we think and communicate.”
He paused for a moment, took another drink of water, and gathered his thoughts. “Imagine every device connected to the internet as being wired to the internet like living neurons. Downloading and uploading information and communicating with other computers. This vast network can evolve as an artificially intelligent internet. The internet will continue to evolve as humans become more and more dependent on it to complete the daily tasks. The human world is evolving towards creating a greater interaction between, humans, computer devices, and the ‘world wide web.’ As humans evolve the technology will evolve, as the technology evolves, humans will grow in knowledge. Humanity and technology are becoming interdependent and interconnected but that is not entirely a negative thing.”
“Are you saying the internet will eventually become self aware?”the reporter asked.
“Yes,” Phileo said, “maybe not in your particular lifetime but the internet will evolve as an intelligent network. Humans will evolve with the network as the network becomes more self aware, more self conscious. It will learn and grow with the human race. It will evolve with time as human technological tasks become more and more complex.”
“The planet you came from is dependent on such technology”, the reporter asked.
“I call their technology the 'overseer,'” Phileo said, “over millions and millions of years. They became one with their technology because it’s a living technology. Its dependent on the Phileons and the Phileons are dependent on the 'overseer.' The 'overseer' provides the Phileons with everything. They have no concept of possessions or material wants. They live to explore and learn but most of all they are driven for each other. Their knowledge and understanding is beyond our comprehension.”
“What is the probe’s power source?” someone asked.
“They discovered millions of years ago how to manipulate space and time. They can retrieve energy from their surroundings and focus that energy in the direction they are traveling. Everything that exists is made up of subatomic elements. We call them masses of energy particles. Those particles when accelerated become waves of energy. Energy is matter squared its velocity. The probe that I traveled in can focus immense amounts of energy in the direction it is traveling. It can fold space and time so to speak. It can manipulate the space time continuum.”
He paused for a moment and looked around the room, searching for the proper words, “here on earth,” he said, “with your present technology if you want to arrive at point D. You must take the linear time continuum by first traveling through A, B, C. The probe can fold space and time and go from A to D faster than the speed of light.”
“Like a warm hole in space?” someone asked.
“Not quite,” Phileo said, “and I am not equipped to answer the questions about the minuit technological details. Lets just say energy is their sustenance. It’s what keeps them in existence and it is the core of their advanced technology. They use it to explore and learn about themselves and their surroundings. That knowledge is utilized by the 'overseer' who disseminates it to the 'Phileons.' The probe who found me is a living entity it is comprised of trillions of artificial neurons which makes it self conscious. The information it gathers is transmitted through a powerful beam of energy. The beam of energy cannot be seen by the human eye because it travels faster than the speed of light. It folds space and time to transmit data as well.”
“Do black holes exist?” someone asked.
“Yes,” Phileo said, “I am glade you asked that question. Take a black hole for instance it can suck in light and black matter faster than the speed light. Once caught in its gravitational pull nothing can escape it. All matter gets converted to its subatomic elements. The gravitational pull occurs at one location but eventually all the matter that gets sucked in will be converted into an infinitesimal ball of energy. The explosion of this energy can occur trillions of miles away from the opining of the black hole. The explosion from the subatomic energy can also occur in a different time. The imminence gravitational pull will fold time and space. Here on earth humans see the universe as it once was because of the vast distances that light has to travel to reach the earth. The ‘phileons‘ can experience the far regions of the universe as it is. They experience the beauty of the universe as is.”
“What did you eat on their planet?” a reporter asked.
“When I first arrived I thought I was eating everything I enjoyed eating on earth. But they were just manipulating my memories of food. What they were actually giving me were small pellets that had all the nutrients and protean that my body needed. They also have pellets that can provide the body with the proper fluids needed. In my mind I suppose I went on allowing them to feed me chocolate and vanilla Sunday’s with cookies and potato chips. Macaroni and cheese with soda malts,” he said and the audience laughed.
“They can provide us with the means of eradicating world hunger,” he told them.
“What is their concept of God?” a man asked. He was wearing some sort of religious collar signifying to Phileo that he was a minister or a priest.
“They do not at this time have any concept of religion,” Phileo said.
“Do they believe in God?” asked the priest.
“Yes” Phileo said, “but god is not a concept. It is not something they believe in or put their faith in. God is what they experience in existence itself. God, life, and existence are synonymous with what they experience through themselves and others. They are spiritual beings.”
“What do you mean by spiritual?” asked the priest.
“Spirituality is love because they experience love. Spirituality is life because they experience life. Spirituality exists because we exist. They are loved because they love. I experienced that love first hand.”
“So what is their divine revelation,” the priest asked.
“I am not a theologian but I can say that Religion is a human construct. Humanity is just beginning to understand the true nature of what it means to love and to be loved.”
“What can you offer us in terms of your own experiences on this planet,” the woman reporter asked.
“I have been changed but I am also still human. I have learned that we are so small so intricate in terms of the vast expansion of life itself ......."
“Is the Universe expanding?” someone yelled out over others. There was excitement in the room so many people wanted their questions answered.
“Please let him answer one question at a time,” someone said into a microphone.
“The Universe is like a living cell,” Phileo said, “it is expanding like a living cell. The cells in our body grow and expand shortly after our conception. The universe’s accelerated expansion is actually accelerated growth. The Universe is evolving because all life evolves. If a single cell dies," he said, "the entire organism will not die. The entire organism will go on living as evolving life ......."
“Are you saying the universe is a conscious being?” the priest said laughing in a mocking tone.
“Yes,” Phileo said, in a matter of fact tone, “that is precisely what I am saying. But you need to understand. There are multiple universes just as there are multiple cells in our body. Those cells perform different tasks within the living organism. Our universe can be compared to a single cell. It communicates with surrounding universes like the neurons in our brain. There are multiple universes that make up a greater living reality. That reality is part of an even greater reality and so on and so on. Life is an unending expansion into what you would call the eternal life of god.”
“So what you are saying the Universe is their religion.” said the priest.
“No,” Phileo said, “on Phileon there is no worship of religion there is only life. They express that life with gratitude for being alive and for having other living brings in their lives.”
“So they see themselves as being God,” the priest said loud enough so that the pope in Rome could hear him. Two UN security officers walked over to the priest and took him by the arms to escort him out of the room.
“No, let him stay," Phileo said, "your understanding of god is their understanding of life,” he told the priest, “Life is what exists for the 'Phileons' everything can be reduced to the infinitesimal subatomic particles. That energy is living energy it’s the 'Phileons' sustenance. That energy also evolves to chemical compounds which provide us with the material universe.”
“God created that energy,” the priest said angrily.
“On the planet 'Phileon,'” said Phileo, “there is no separation of life and god. The subatomic elements for the 'Phileons' are living elements. That energy can be broken-down infinitesimally – it cannot be created or destroyed. Living energy has no particular starting point because god is eternal life. There is also an infinite expansion of unending life. Life has no beginning or end because it’s eternal.”
“Where I come from that is blasphemy,” the priest said, “they see themselves as god. They worship their feelings and themselves.”
"Look this isn't the middle ages," a man yelled to the priest from across the room. "This isn't the time and place for your religious quackery. Don't you understand the historical significance of their reaching out to us? This is proof that we are not alone in the universe. If you religious whack jobs had it your way we would still be living in the dark ages. There is more out there than your superstitious and irrational beliefs”
“No," Phileo said, "let me answer his question to the best of my ability. It’s not quite like that," he told the priest, "they have a deeper understanding than humans especially when it comes to god. The totality of god is beyond their comprehension but they recognize the intelligent design of life,” he paused for a moment, “they have an understanding of the intricate balance and the intelligent design within all things," he said.
"God is to be worshiped, and to be obeyed," said the priest, “that is why he sent his only son, Jesus Christ, I am the truth and the light those who accept me shall have eternal life sayth the lord.”
"God is life," said Phileo, "that life is within all of us. The Phileons are continuously or should I say collectively striving for a greater knowledge of the greater good. By unlocking the intelligent design within all things they come to a greater understanding of themselves. They understand implicitly that they are an intricate, interdependent, and interconnected part of life’s intelligent design."
"So what you are saying in your world evolution is the truth," the priest said.
"Their evolving technology is for the sole purpose to become one with the greater good which in human terms would be, life, god, or the ultimate love.”
“How can spiritual beings be dependent on technology,” the priest asked.
“Without their technology they could not have evolved to where they are today. Technology for the 'overseer' helps it gain a clearer understanding of self conscious evolving life. Knowledge and technology is only as powerful as its proper application.”
“You are leading people astray,” the priest said, “you are not bringing people closer to god you are leading them away from god.”
“I am simply answering the questions as truthfully as I can,” Phileo said.
“Do they believe in an afterlife?” the priest asked.
“Life with no beginning or end is the ultimate understanding and experience of the life within”, Phileo said, “a material organism like the material universe can die but the energy at the core is eternal. Death is simply a recycling process for the reality of life.”
“How long do they live,” someone asked.
“Well the 72 years that I lived on their planet I did not witness death. They have been sending out probes for millions of years. They understand that their sun in their solar system is collapsing in on itself. When it completely implodes it will pull their planet into their sun’s gravitational pull. They are now looking for alternative places to live but in order to do that they will have to share those planets with other beings. One of those planets can be earth.”
“So if we allow them to come here they will share their Technology with us,” a person asked.
“They are not asking for permission they are already here,” Phileo said.
“They are living here?” another person asked in a shocked voice.
“Some of them are, yes, others are seeking other planets,” Phileo said.
“Where are they and how come we haven’t seen them?” the reporter asked.
“We can not see them with the naked eye,” said Phileo, “because they do not have the same physical density as us but they are here just the same. They have already helped many people since their arrival without the people being aware of it. Some of what they have done has been classified as miracles.”
“What is your role in all this?” the priest asked.
“I am simply an emissary,” Phileo said, “I gave the President of the United States two discs .......”
“What are on those discs,” someone excitedly asked.
He paused while looking at the people in the room, “the discs can provide you with technological wonders. This knowledge must be shared with all of humanity. I asked that the information be uploaded onto the internet for all of humanity to benefit from.”
“Is that why you returned,” the woman reporter asked.
“Not entirely,” Phileo said, “I came back because I do not want the human race to come to an end.”
“Is our planet going to be destroyed?” the female reporter asked.
“The planet will not come to an end not anytime soon but humanity will unless we change how we are living. I have seen the future of our planet” he told them, “the changes must occur now, if we do not make the changes. I can tell you this in less than two centuries humanity will be gone. The planet will be uninhabitable for humanity. The technology that I brought back with me is for everyone to share. If it is not shared the future for humanity is bleak.”
As more people began to ask him questions, he said, “The answers you seek are on the discs. I also would like to thank you for your time and consideration. For listening to what I have to say.”
He then exited the building with the UN security by his side. Camera shutters flashed. News crews with video cameras huddled around him. Reporters continued shouting out questions. There was excitement and energy in the air. People wanted to be near him to be part of the moment and the excitement. Many felt as if they were witnessing the dawn of a new-age.
It was then that a dark figure worked his way up to him through the crowd of people.
Two loud muzzle blasts caused great confusion. Screams rose as people tried to subdue the shooter.
“I shot him," the priest yelled, "I killed him.”
People watched and some sobbed at the site of Phileo lying in a pool of blood. Others just stood talking among themselves in disbelief. Some tried in vain to aid and comfort him but he was unresponsive. The News Medias never stopped covering the chaos, pain, and sorrow of Phileo’s death. They played over the air waves the event for the world to see. It was shown over and over again until it was embedded in the viewers psyche.
Anger ensued towards the gunman as he was subdued and forced to the ground. He was then immediately placed in a squad car. The two officers stared ahead in disbelief as they brought him to the local holding cell for questioning.
The sirens blared and the lights flashed in rout to the near by emergency room.
“He’s dead,” said the paramedic, “no pulse”
“Try shocking his heart,” the driver said.
“He’s gone,” said the paramedic after shocking Phileo’s heart one last time, “there’s to much internal damage from the gun shot wounds.”
The ambulance came to a complete stop.
“What did you stop for?” the paramedic said to the driver.
“I didn’t it just stopped on its own,” the driver said.
The two paramedics watched in fear as the ambulance began to shake. It felt as if a current of energy was moving through the vehicle.
They could not quite figure out the source of that energy. But within five minutes the vehicle started up again. The sirens went back on and the lights started to flash.
“That is to whirred,” said the driver, “I didn’t touch a damn thing.”
When the ambulance arrived at the hospital the paramedics grabbed the gurney to wheel Phileo into the hospital.
“That’s all right guys I can walk,” Phileo said, “besides my ride is here.”
The paramedics turned and saw the Probe hovering in front of the hospital. Crowds of people stood and watched. Some took pictures with their cell phone cameras.
“I got to get me one of those cameras,” Phileo said.
“You've been shot,” said one of the paramedic.
“You were dead,” said the other.
“Look avoid getting shot,” Phileo said, “it’s extremely painful.”
The side of the probe opened up and he stepped up the stairs. He then turned and waved to the crowd of people.
“Well you had an interesting day,” said Max.
“Well the ball is in their court,” Phileo said.
“You were playing ball with them?”
“Just a figure of speech, Max,” he said,” we have to wait and see what happens.”
“Why did that man try to do you harm, Phileo?”
“People fear what they don’t understand, Max. In time I am hoping they will understand that we mean no harm to them.”
The man who shot Phileo was the priest who was asking the questions. He believed he shot and killed the Anti-Christ. He told the Police that he should be looked upon as a hero because the Anti-Christ was about to lead the world astray through satanic forces.
“Satan can appear as an angel of light,” he told the police, “don’t you get it those Phileons are satanic devils they must be destroyed.”
Arguing and heated debates among the President’s administration continued over the discs that Phileo gave the President. The President ordered the defense department and the CIA to continue studying them.
It was out of fear and mistrust that the information was never released to the public. Many Foreign leaders demanded that the information be shared but it was to no avail, “the President is the President,” said the secretary of defense to the News Media, “he is the commander and chief. When the information is ready to be disseminated he will do so.”
Phileo leaned back in his chair in front of the control consol as he looked out at the ocean. The probe dove below the surface of the water past a U. S. Nuclear Submarine.
“I picked something up on the sonar moving at a high rate of speed,” said the sailor.
“Is it one of ours?”
“It’s gone sir,”
“What was it?”
“Don’t know it just vanished“
The probe then rose out of the water to the sky.
“Where to,” Max asked
“How about a hospital, Max,”
“So do you think the human race can change, Phileo?“
“I will do my best to make that happen, Max.”
“I hope they survive I am beginning to like them.”
“Well, geee thanks, Max”
“Are you going to make Carina your mate,” Max asked.
“I like her, and I have the maturity now to be a father.”
“Do you want me to go back to Phileon?” Max asked.
“Do you want to go back?” Phileo asked.
“I like being with you,” said Max
“Then stay we have a lot of work ahead of us. I could certainly use your help. I want you to help me make the world a little better place, Max.”
“I am glade I found you and helped you, Phileo.”
“We found and helped each other, Max. You and I are partners. No matter what happens.”
“I hope you and Carina get together.”
“That would be nice too, Max.”
“I sure hope the overseer will spare the human race, Phileo, because many more Phileons have arrived today.”
“There are still a lot of good people in the world Max.”
“What can we do to help them change?”
“We can help them by being who we are and continuing to change for the better good. We have to be examples for others to follow, Max. Humans have a long way to grow they are not Phileons. But we can help them evolve.”
“Why did they ignore the advanced knowledge and technology you gave them?” Max asked, “it could save them.”
“Humans are fearful and mistrustful at times. Human knowledge and technology is only as powerful as its proper application,” Phileo said, “if they experienced what I experienced on Phileon they would understand. Love transcends, Religion, possessions, national boarders. Love is life and life is the expression of love. The more you love the more you evolve to a greater expression of love. Humans are not Phileons but in time perhaps they will grow to trust us and perhaps learn from what we have to offer.”
“I hope they trust the overseer, soon,” said Max, “time is of the urgency. I don’t want to see you alone. Man is not meant to live alone.”
“There will always be good people in the world, Max. Besides how could I ever be lonely with you? I think Carina will like you too.”
“I will design her a suite so that she could feel and see the Phileons,” Max said, “We could also show her, the Oceans, and the far side of the Moon. Maybe she would like to go for another ride on your flying motorcycle?”
“Come to think of it, Max, I need to get a motorcycle license, and get my motorcycle registered with motor vehicles. Oh and not to mention insurance.”
"What is the purpose of you having motorcycle insurance, Phileo? The overseer is the best coverage. Besides, I would never let anything happen to you or others in your company.”
"I suppose your right Max, but it is a law."
“There are so many rules and laws on your planet,” said Max.
“Being an emissary and all I can’t be breaking those laws and rules, Max, like driving without a license.”
“I suppose your right, Phileo?”
"Besides its much more fun being the good guy, Max."
"Like Dick Tracy?"
"Yea, like Dick Tracy, Max, but Dick Tracy didn't have nearly the technology we have."
"Where to, Phileo?"
“Let’s pick Carina up, Max, and show her the far side of the Moon.”
Always with love from Suzhou, China,
Thomas F. O’Neill
Phone: (800) 272-6464
China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O’Neill can be found on his award winning blog at the link below,http://thomasfoneill.blogspot.comhttp://www.myspace.com/thomas_f_oneill
|Friday, April 1st, 2011|
|Education is vital for America's future
By Thomas F O’Neill
The United States is slowly bouncing back from one of the worse recessions in our Nation’s History. Our country still has a long way to go though in terms of a full economic recovery. Many States are also facing huge budget deficits and the State of Pennsylvania where I was born and raised is no exception.
I have been reading online about Gov. Tom Corbett’s current budget proposal to slash Pennsylvania’s education funding by fifty percent. To say that such a proposal would be detrimental to the Pennsylvania School Districts would be an understatement, especially, for the Pennsylvania coal region.
There has also been talk about cutting the head start programs in some of the School Districts due to budget shortfalls. In my opinion that would be a huge mistake also because early childhood education especially the head start program is paramount for the Child’s educational development.
I am no longer living in Pennsylvania or the United States for that matter. I have been working as a teacher at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School in China for several years now. I am witnessing firsthand how education can change the course of a nation and lift millions of people out of poverty. Here in China K-12 students have twelve hour school days they go to School from 8AM to 8PM. They have 43 more school days per year than American children.
Shanghai, China last year achieved the highest test scores in the world in reading comprehension, writing, math, and science. They accomplished this with English as their second language.
The Chinese are not smarter than Americans they are just better prepared academically. Many Asian’s are coming to the U.S. and going to our top Schools on full scholarships. The sad thing about that though when they complete their academics in our American Universities, our Federal Government makes it extremely difficult for them to remain in America. That is so unfortunate because their knowledge and educational skills can truly benefit our country.
Chinese engineers who earned their engineering degrees in our American Schools built the world’s fastest Supercomputer. Their computer design wasn’t built in America though it was built in China. This Superfast computer can make 2,700 trillion calculations per second and no other computer in the world can do that. It would take a laptop computer 480 years to accomplish what China’s new Supercomputer can accomplish in one second.
Chinese engineers who graduated from American Universities are in the process of building commuter trains that can reach top speeds of approximately 500 miles per hour. Unfortunately, those trains are not being built in America they are being built in China. Our country could have benefited a great deal from those engineers knowledge and skills. Imagine taking a train from New York City to Los Angeles in 4 hours.
The China Government has people on its payroll to actively find and recruit people from the U.S. and various other countries that they feel can aid their educational facilities and help prepare their students for the global market. This is also adding to the ‘Brain Drain’ in America because China is hiring the people that should be preparing U.S. students for the global market.
In 2010 there were 34 other countries that achieved higher test scores than our American students in reading comprehension, writing, math, and science. They accomplished this with English as their second language. This is truly giving the U.S. a ‘dumbing down’ image in the eyes of the world.
The State of Pennsylvania shouldn’t be cutting its educational funding but rather the State needs to develop resources to enhance the educational opportunities for its citizens. Education is vital for the Pennsylvania coal region where I was born and raised. It is also vital for our Nation as a whole because it provides people with the means, skills, and opportunities to better themselves.
Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
U.S. Voice mail: (800) 272-6464
China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog,
|Friday, March 11th, 2011|
|The Summer Of 1828
By Thomas F O'NeillThis Story is dedicated to Schuylkill County Pennsylvania's Bicentennial. The county were I was born and raised.
Jonny Hargrove turned 14 in the summer of 1828 and he was a restless teen who sought adventure.
"I don't know what to do with that boy," said Jonny's grandfather to his daughter at the Pottsville canal, "I could get more work out of a one eyed coyote. Your boy is lazy as they come."
"He's just an imaginative child still has some grow'n in him," said Jonny's Mother.
"Yea but he's a waste'n his best work'n years," said the grandfather.
Jonny climbed up high in a tree and worked his way out onto one of its large limbs. It was then that he noticed young Sally a bright eyed young scarlet.
"Ahhhh !!!" yelled Jonny as he lost his balance and fell into the water. A large splash pursued followed by a laugh from Sally. The thirteen year old girl removed a man's trousers from a potato sack. She ran behind a tree and quickly put on the trousers. She then tied a rope around her waist like a belt. After all the pants were five times her size and she didn't want to lose her father's trousers in the canal.
"What are you boy's doing in there?" a man yelled.
"What does it look like," yelled Sally
"We's fish'n," yelled Jonny.
"I'll knock that sassiness out of you boy's you wait and see," yelled the Man.
"I'm not a boy I'm a girl," yelled Sally.
"I can vouch for that Mister," Jonny said, "she goes to my School."
"Do I look stupid or something," yelled the Man.
"Yep," said Jonny
"Since when do girls ware trousers?" yelled the man.
"I only ware um when I swim," Sally replied and she was highly insulted by being referred to as a boy.
"The canal is not for swim'n so get out," the man said angrily.
"So what are you the governor or something?" asked Jonny sarcastically.
Well that certainly ruffled the man's feathers to the point of jumping in the canal after them. The two belligerent teens never swam so fast, their hearts were pounding with a combination of fear and amusement. Their legs and arms moved faster than they ever had before. When they got to the other side of the canal they ran but Sally quickly noticed something - her trousers were gone.
She quickly jumped behind a bush, "I got you, you little monkey," the man said to Sally.
"Hey Mister please get me my trousers in the water," said Sally with great embarrassment.
"What?" the man said with confusion, "you don't seem so sassy now, now do you."
"Please Mister," she said.
"Oh all right can't have you run'n around with no clothes on," said the man.
Sometime later he yelled "I found them."
Sally popped her head up from behind the bush at the same time an elderly man was riding past her on a mule. He saw the man with the trousers in his hand and the child hiding behind the bush. He then noticed the child had no pants on. The poor fellow holding the trousers never saw the fist that came in his direction from the man on the mule - popping him on the jaw. That elderly man jumped off his mule so fast to aid the trouser less child. He was a bare fisted champion fighter in his youth and it sure showed. The elderly gentleman knocked out the man holding the trousers with a one-two bare knuckle combination punch.
"Here you are child," said the elderly man handing her the trousers "that scoundrel will never bother you again."
"There you are," Jonny said to Sally, "I was wonder'n what happened to ya."
The elderly man on the mule trotted on past him.
It was then that Jonny noticed the man lying on the ground.
"Boy he must really be out of shape if the swimming made him that tired," Jonny said, "hey there's a big bump on his head."
"It's a long story, Jonny" said Sally. *****************
Jonny's Mother spoke often about how her husband was killed in 1814 by the British troops. He was killed in the war of 1812 shortly after the birth of their son. Jonny's Mother witnessed the burning of the White House. "The devil be with us this night Johnny" she said clutching her infant child tightly to her chest.
Her heart pounding with fear and the sound of the screaming people embedded in her soul. She hid with her parents and prayed for the war's carnage to end. Her husband never returned home from that war. On many nights Jonny would clutch his mother in his arms as she relived the moment of that harrowing night in her nightmares.
She moved northward with her parents and in 1819 settled in the village of Pottsville. Jonny's Mother gained employment as a School teacher and her Father owned a small produce store.
Every Friday early in the morning before the sun would rise Jonny and his grandfather would go to the Pottsville canal. They would wait there with many others for the large barge to arrive. They would then load their goods on to a mule drawn carriage to their produce store.
"I'm going to be a barge captain and travel all over the world on it all the way to China," said Jonny to Sally.
"You have to cross a big Ocean to go to China," Sally told him as they sat on a large tree limb overlooking the canal.
"Maybe if I make enough money on the barge I could buy my own ship," said Jonny.
Friday's came quickly that summer and Jonny dreaded having to unload the crates.
"Where is that lazy good for nothing son of yours," said the grandfather to his daughter.
"He's not here," she said.
The barge arrived and the produce was loaded on to their mule drawn carriage.
"No lunch or supper for that lazy boy," he said to his daughter as they headed home to their store.
The barge headed southward down the canal.
The barge Captain heard something it sounded like two large rodents. He started slamming a large stick against the large wooden crates.
"I'm tired of you dam rats get off me barge!!!!"
Two loud screams broke loose causing the captain to tumble backwards over a large crate.
"Who the bedevil may you two be?" said the captain.
"We just wanted to come along that's all Mister," said Jonny.
"Yea" said Sally, "don't hit us with the stick."
The Captain had a thick Gaelic sounding accent that they never heard before.
"Look this is no place for children," the Captain yelled, "but I can't take yas back til me finish me rounds and me ain't pay'n yas none either."
"Where are you headed" asked Sally.
"We's got a lot of stops along the way to Philadelphia."
"Never been there," said Jonny.
"This is no Joy ride there's raiders to look out for," said the Captain.
"What's a Raider?" asked Sally "is that like a big cat or something?"
"No you stupid child they steal your barge."
"What do they do with it," asked Jonny.
"Pirates they are dirty Pirates" said the Captain, "they sell the produce for themselves and when they done with their business they set it ablaze."
"What do they do with the people?" asked Sally with fear in her voice.
"They kill um" said the Captain "that's why this is no place for the likes of you."
Sally and Jonny stared at the Captain in disbelief wondering if they will ever get home alive. As the barge pulled into the next stop ropes were thrown to them and two mules pulled the barge closer to land. They saw a man struggling with one of the mules because the mule was refusing to pull. An elderly man gave the mule a swat on its rear with a large piece of wood. The mule kicked back with its hind legs knocking another fella clear into the canal.
"That must hurt," said Sally to Jonny watching it all from the barge.
"Well just don't sit there, unload" the Captain yelled to the two barge mates.
Unloading the barge was no easy task it was hard work and their arms ached and their legs ached and parts of their bodies they never noticed before ached.
"How many more stops are there?" Jonny asked lying across a crate.
"Plenty" said the Captain.
Sally fell asleep lying between two crates.
"You look like a bright young fella so since you're here you can learn to sail me barge," said the Captain, "then you can take your nap like your girl."
"She's not my girl she's just a friend," said Jonny.
"Nightfall," said the Captain, "that's when I will let you sail me barge. That way the Raiders can't get to her. If she's move'n at night they know we are awake and they will leave us be. The Raiders come and steal when we's sleep'n not when we's move'n."
"When will I sleep if I'm up all night," asked Jonny.
"When you're not unloading you can sleep like your girl there," said the Captain.
That night Sally stayed really close to Jonny every sound and thump made them jumpy. They were scared of the darkness that surrounded them. They were mostly scared of the unseen Raiders ready to pounce on their barge at any moment.
"I wonder what they look like Jonny?" Sally asked in a petrified voice.
"Those Raiders, those Pirates?" asked Sally
"I don't even want to think about it," Jonny said trying to hide his fear.
Jonny felt a large callused hand come down on his shoulder and he let out the loudest and most gut wrenching scream the Captain ever heard. Sally clutched on to the Captain's arm during that terrifying moment.
"What in blazes boy is wrong with you?" asked the Captain.
"I thought you were a raider," Jonny said in a frightened voice.
"You're doing a good Job sailing me barge we's be in Philadelphia by morn'n," said the Captain.
The Captain handed each of them a dried beef-jerky to eat and water to drink. After three days on the barge Jonny was thinking about his mother's scrambled eggs. He told Sally about his Mother's cooked ham, her warm fresh milk, and her fresh bread. "Stop it Jonny you're making me hungrier," Sally said placing her hand on her stomach.
As the barge approached Philadelphia two small boats pulled up close to them. "Raiders!!!!" screamed Sally. Jonny grabbed a stick to take a swing at the men in the boats.
"For crying out loud I ought a just leave yas off here," said the Captain pulling the stick out of Jonny's hand.
The two high strung teens grabbed the ropes that were thrown their way by the men in the boats. They tied them to the barge good and tight. Mules on shore pulled the barge closer to the harbor. The two barge mates helped to unload and when they thought they were all through they sat down with delight.
"What are you two rug rats doing over there?" asked the Captain.
"Everything is off the Barge," said Jonny proudly.
"We need to fill our next orders for the trip back so get to work," said the Captain angrily.
As they looked at all the crates ready to be loaded on board Jonny's legs began to feel like two wet noodles. Sally's arms began to feel like ragweed and tears began to well up in their eyes at the sheer horror of it all.
"What good are yas?" asked the Captain, "when we get back to Pottsville you two got to go."
When the barge was reloaded with various produce "well," said the Captain, "we got to get some food in yas before we head back."
The Pottsville teens were awe struck by the amount of people on the City streets. They never saw so many stores and taverns. The Captain took the two starving children into the White Horse Tavern for a hot meal and fresh coffee. The Captain drank one mug of beer after another in that character filled place. He seemed to know many people there as he comingled and laughed.
"Where are you from?" Sally asked the Captain, "I never heard anyone talk like you before."
"Me nether," said Jonny, "sometimes I have a hard time with the way you talk."
"Ireland," came the Captain's reply.
"Is it near Philadelphia," Jonny asked.
Sally laughed at Jonny's question and so did the Captain.
"No" said the Captain, "but there are plenty of Irish here just the same."
It wasn't long before the Captain was filled to the brim with booze and he soon began to sing to the other patrons in Gaelic. Sally shrugged her shoulders at Jonny because they couldn't sing along. They didn't know the words to the songs and the songs weren't even in English. The owner in due time placed the Captain in a small room on the second floor to sleep off his drunken stupor.
"Hey" said the owner "do you guys have any money."
"No" said Jonny.
"I don't either" said Sally.
"Well here is a dime and a nickel for you" he said to Jonny, "and here is a dime and a nickel for you" he said to Sally, "go out and have fun he won't be going anywhere till morning. You can stay here tonight this is where he normally stays before heading back to Port Carbon. Is that where you two are from?"
"No we live in Pottsville," said Sally.
"Well have fun and come back later I'll give you guys a room."
They walked around and visited various stores. They saw beautiful suites and dresses in store windows. They saw men walking around with large top hates and women with beautiful hairpins with fancy designs.
They came to a large theater, "how much does it cost to get in?" Jonny asked the man in the ticket booth.
"Ten cents" came the reply.
"That's an awful lot of money Jonny," said Sally.
"I'll tell you what," said the man in the booth, "I'll let both of you in for ten cents."
"Thanks Mister," said Jonny excitedly.
They went inside the theater, "I never been in one of these before" said Sally.
A man and women began to pompously sniffle with hankies up to their noses. It seemed to them that the two young barge workers sitting nearby watching the Opera were in desperate need of a good scrubbing down. "The people they let in here," said the woman.
"How much for one of those meat sandwiches?" Jonny asked a street Vender.
"Two Cents," came his reply.
"Two cents for a sandwich" said Sally "everything is so much more expensive here."
"Well I'm still hungry so give me one and her one" Jonny said to the vender.
The next morning the Captain seemed to have a bit of a hangover but he was looking forward to his trip northward to Port Carbon via the various canals and stops along the way.
"Well you guys need to wash your clothes and take a scrubbing before we head off," he said to his two young stowaways. He didn't have the heart to leave them there.
"We're not taking a bath together" said Sally
"Did I say together first you than him," said the Captain.
"I had to share a room with Jonny last night. What will people think of me in Pottsville?" Sally grumbled to the Captain and Jonny through a closed door.
"Hurry up in there" the Captain yelled to Sally.
"I just got in the water and it's cold," said Sally.
"Oh I boiled that water plenty," said the Captain.
"What are we supposed to ware while our clothes are being washed?" Sally asked angrily.
"Just wrap yourself in a towel," he said, "now get scrubbing."
On a Friday morning the barge slowly moved towards the Pottsville canal. Sally and Jonny were so grateful to be back home. They were only gone a week but they never been on such an adventure before especially to a grand place like Philadelphia.
As the mules pulled the barge closer to shore Jonny's grandfather noticed his grandson on board with his friend Sally.
"You got a lot of explaining to do" said Jonny's grandfather, "but first unload our produce. Your Mother hasn't slept a wink since you two left."
Jonny gave his Grandfather a big hug.
"There's plenty of time for that later just help me unload my produce," said the Grandfather.
When Jonny's Mother seen him she broke down in tears, "where did you go" she asked.
"Philadelphia," said Sally excitedly.
"Do you believe that they went all the way there on the Barge," said the Grandfather.
Jonny turned and waved goodbye to the barge captain as he sailed off.
The week long disappearance of Jonny and Sally made a huge stir in Pottsville that summer.
The day they went missing someone came forward and reported that a man chased a trouser less child across the Pottsville canal. The incident occurred just a few days before the two teens went missing. That certainly raised the fear level among the Pottsville villagers. Things like that just don't happen in Pottsville. A description of the man went out and the elderly gentleman on the mule spotted that scoundrel once again near the Pottsville canal. He jumped off his mule and gave that man a one-two bare knuckle combination punch. The suspect was knocked out cold and quickly apprehended. The judge ordered that he be held without bail in the Pottsville jail.
The day the two young barge mates returned home the man in the Pottsville jail was released. It took him a long time to build up enough courage to return to the canal. The two adventurous youth were ordered by the Court to do work for the man accused of their abduction. They had to tend to O'Neill's farm for each day he was unjustly incarcerated and it served them right.
Sally and Jonny eventually married due to the scandal of them sharing a room in Philadelphia. They took over the produce store in 1849. They had twelve children over the years and their descendants are spread-out across the United State.
We must never lose touch with what filled the heart and soul of those two young teens in the summer of 1828. Their wondrous youth filled imaginations and carefree innocence are within all of us just waiting to be rediscovered.
Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O?Neill
Phone: (800) 272-6464
China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog,
|Friday, October 1st, 2010|
|Fundamentalism dangerous, whether Christian or Muslim
By Thomas F O’Neill
There is a growing number of Christian fundamentalist in America that depicts Islam as nothing more than radical suicide bombers waging war on the U.S. There is certainly a terroristic threat against America by radical Islamic fundamentalists but they do not represent all of Islam.
Christian fundamentalist also have a habit of distorting history to show how superior they are over the other religions of the world. However, their Islamic-phobic rhetoric is far from the truth.
When the Christians were experiencing the Dark Ages" (400-1400 A.D.) brought on by religious extremism. Muslims were writing about Plato, Aristotle, and other great philosophers.
It was the Muslims' deep thirst for knowledge and wisdom that preserved some of the early literature of antiquities greatest philosophers. They also preserved the writings of early Christian theologians.
Most contemporary historians - but not all - believe that during the Dark Ages the Christians burned the library of Alexandria in Egypt. The library contained hundreds of thousands of scrolls, literature, and knowledge of the ancient world's greatest thinkers.
The Christians at that time however believed the Bible contained all the knowledge that is necessary for man's salvation. That belief resulted in the burning of the library and the loss of a treasure-trove of knowledge.
There is a particular Islamic sect known as the Sufis who believe all knowledge is sacred because the human intellect is ours for the enhancement of humanity.
St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1228 A.D.) was greatly influenced by the Sufi belief system. He and the Sufis believed that the spirit of God is implicit and can be intrinsically known by all people no matter what their religious upbringing may be. The Sufis and St. Francis of Assisi's spirituality stood in total contrast to mainstream Islam and the Catholic Church's teachings at that time.
The Sufis where trying to bring spirituality into the Islamic faith by living and communicating their spirituality altruistically. St. Francis was trying to accomplish a similar mission within the Catholic Church of his day.
In the 13th century Muslim and Christian extremists were slaughtering one another in the name of religion. St. Francis however walked into the Muslim camps without harm. He talked to the Muslims about the Sufis spirituality and how similar it was to his own spirituality.
He was revered by both Muslims and Christians alike due to his implicit understanding that if you want to be understood you must touch the hearts of others. He did not accomplish his mission by imposing his will and beliefs upon others. He simply lived his life as he would want others to live their lives, in doing so, others embraced and emulated his way of life.
The Sufi Muslims have a similar mission to bring about peace in the world through a genuine and authentically lived spirituality.
We mustn't judge all Muslims by fanatical fundamentalists. On the contrary, there are many good and spiritual followers of Islam.
Fundamentalism is dangerous - it forces ill-willed people to live their lives ignorantly due to a lack of spiritual insight and a narrow minded belief system. You can find these extremists in every religion throughout history.
Religion is shaped by one's parents and by their parents' parents, but our spirituality is what we are born with. Spirituality is the spark, the essence, and the spirit that sustains us and all things. It's beyond rituals and religious symbols because it's the core of our existence. True spirituality is the torch that lights the way not religious principles that are imposed or mandated on others. It is lived and expressed freely in ones character for others to emulate and embrace.
I did not write this with the intent of offending the religious. I wrote this as a way of expressing how religious beliefs and differences separate people. On the other hand, spirituality can and does unite those who are searching for an altruistic way of life.
Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F. O’Neill
Phone: (800) 272-6464
China Cell: 011-8615114565945
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries, by Thomas F. O’Neill can be found on his award winning blog at the link below,
|Monday, February 1st, 2010|
|China and the coal region: Technology connects us all
By Thomas F O'Neill
Ni Hao (Hello) from Suzhou, China.
I have been living and working as a teacher at the Suzhou Foreign Language School in China for approximately seven months now. I have found the culture to be quite intriguing, and I have been enjoying my stay here.
When I sat down to write this column, I was interrupted by a text message from a friend of mine in America. I am 13 hours ahead of the East Coast in America; when it is midnight here, it is only 11 in the morning in my hometown of Shenandoah. It amazes me, though, how I can instantly communicate with people thousands of miles away on the opposite side of the world.
Before I came to China, I never imagined that my students here would have cell phones and their own personal computers – the things I didn’t have when I was their age. Their papers are also e-mailed to me for grading, and they are always texting me with questions. The text messages and e-mails are a constant reminder of how this technology is permeating all facets of our lives.
“How old are you?”
I said to my students in class one day, “I can look back at my youth and remember the age of the manual typewriter before computers and the Internet was our communication lifeline.”
A hand went up and a young female face looked at me with such curiosity. She asked, “What is a typewriter, Teacher?”
I tried my best at that moment to simulate a typewriter with a paper adjuster and return carriage. Unfortunately, it only enhanced their confusion, so I used the Internet browser on my cell phone and found a picture of a manual typewriter. My cell phone was then passed around the room so that my students could understand what I was saying.
I also told them, “I am old enough to remember the era before VCRs and the cell phone.”
Another hand shot up. “Teacher,” the young man asked, “how old are you?”
“Very old,” I replied. “The first cell phone I had I could only talk on; no pictures.”
“No, you not that old, teacher” he said with some sincerity in his voice. “But how old are you?”
“I’m 47,” I told them. At that moment, another hand shot up.
“My mother 43,” a young female said excitedly.
“Age is just a number,” I said to them. “But now imagine where technology will be when you become my age.”
That got them thinking about not just their individual lives, but about the future of China.
A hand shot up. “Does this phone have GPS?” a young male student asked with my cell phone in his hand. “Nice phone!”
“It’s a BlackBerry,” I said, “like the one Obama has, but I only use it to text and talk.”
“Obama,” Chinese students repeated back and forth with amazed looks on their faces. Chinese chatter immediately filled the room.
I then told my students that I am excited about how fast technology is advancing. After all, it wasn’t that long ago when it took a month for a letter to travel halfway around the world. It was also very expensive to call the U.S. from Asia. The Internet can now be used to place phone calls for free, and it is something I have become dependent upon in my life.
Science fiction comes of age
Last week I spoke to a very dear friend of mine, Mr. Henry Zale, on the phone. He is living in my hometown in Pennsylvania. He will be 93 years young in January. I told him that when he calls my local number in the states the calls get forwarded to my cell phone in China. He paused for a moment and said, “Tom, when I was your age that was called science fiction.”
I said, “Henry, if I ever live to be your age, I can’t even fathom where technology will be, or what my life will be like.”
“Well, Tom” he said, “I am a World War I baby and I served in World War II, so let’s hope there isn’t a World War III in your lifetime, because if there is, people will be back using those manual typewriters as a sign of the aftermath. The technology in our lives can be good or bad depending on the hands that are using it.” Wise words.
China has indeed witnessed amazing technological growth in a very short period of time. It is resulting in their country advancing very quickly. The cities here are very modern and growing very fast. People also have more money to spend because of the growing middle class.
I noticed quickly the big differences between China’s growing economy and the economic condition of the Pennsylvania coal region. My hometown has been beaten down over the years due to being economically depressed.
China is not a perfect country, though, because approximately 600 million people make less than two American dollars a day; that is severe poverty in any country. On the other hand, approximately 365 million – more than the entire population in America – make more than 12,000 American dollars a year. They live much better than most of the people in the Pennsylvania coal region. It’s a sad contrast, but it’s also the reality of the times.
Poverty has become a worldwide pandemic, though, and it is something that will not go away anytime soon. It is also something I have witnessed firsthand over the years. It has shaped who I am and how I relate to others. It bothers me when I see vast amounts of wealth throughout the world while people live in squalid conditions with no running water, electricity or indoor plumbing. That is how millions of people live throughout the world. Seeing it firsthand made me more appreciative of who I am and what I have. I also grew to realize that we do not truly live until we place ourselves in the service of others. When we enhance the life of another, we enhance our own lives, and that is when we truly feel alive in the world.
The students are teachers
Working as a teacher here in China I am learning a great deal from my students. When I read my students’ writings, I learn a great deal about them, personally, due to their openness and honesty. I tell my students all the time since I arrived in China that I have learned more from them than they have from me. I look at each of them as friends as well. Although my humor at times can get lost in the translation, it’s the moments when I connect with them that are priceless.
Well, I have a few more text messages to send out and e-mails to grade. I will keep you all informed about my daily musings here in Suzhou in upcoming columns.
Always with love, from Suzhou, China.
Thomas F. O’Neill
Phone: (800) 272-6464
China Cell: 011-8615114565945
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries, by Thomas F. O’Neill can be found on his award winning blog at the link below,
|Friday, January 1st, 2010|
|Getting to know you
By Thomas F. O'Neill
It was her tenth year as an emergency room nurse and she certainly earned her pay at the Hospital. But most nights Betty Almond dreaded working the emergency room shift. The overtime hours were taking a toll on her. Every night there were gunshot victims, assaults, and stabbing victims. They came through the emergency room doors and she treated them as if she was running on automatic pilot. She tried her best to keep a psychological distance from her patients but the harder she tried the closer she got to them. It just wasn’t part of her psychological disposition to be distant from people.
She also did her best to maintain a routine in treating the patients. The emergency room environment was chaotic to say the least. It was not your normal nine to five office job that Betty’s husband was use to working. She was putting in long hours at the hospital and her husband began to see some negative changes in her attitude. She just wasn’t her normal optimistic self and life seemed to be weighing her down.
The near death cases in the emergency room and those that did die on her watch came with the job. But those emotional experiences were not something she trained for or prepared for and ten years in the emergency room was beginning to weigh on her emotionally.
She noticed that every evening a scraggly bum of a fellow would stroll into the emergency room’s waiting area. The coat, shirt, and pants that he wore looked as if they were never washed, and constantly worn. She wondered to herself when first seeing him. If the clothes that scraggly fellow was wearing were ever removed from his body. He was after all homeless, and she quickly noticed how his hair and beard were unkempt. He was just downright dirty, and he brought an odor with him of burnt ash.
He made his daily visits to the emergency room because he liked their coffee which he didn’t have to pay for. When the coffee pot was empty he would politely inform the emergency room staff that the pot was in desperate need of refilling. He would also remind them if the powdered cream or sugar had run out. Most of the staff ignored the homeless chap but Nurse Betty enjoyed humoring the fellow who was known as, Phillip Hobbs. She saw something in his smile even though he only had two remaining front teeth.
“You sure make good Coffee,” Phil said to her.
“I’m glad you enjoy it,” Nurse Betty replied, “we like to please our repeat customers.”
“Well I’ve been helping myself to the coffee here for five years now,” said Phil.
“I see that,” said Betty, “so why do you come here for coffee.”
“It’s so busy here it’s almost like I’m invisible,” he said, “no one cares I’m here and I don’t bother anyone, no one bothers me and besides you’re nice.”
“Where do you live?” She asked.
“Under a bridge,” was his reply.
“My god! doesn’t it get cold?” She asked.
“Naa we burn garbage in a large metal drum for heat,” he said a matter of factly.
She refilled his cup and started to return to her duties.
“I wasn’t always like this you know. I was decorated three times for valor in Nam,” he said with great pride, “boy was my Father proud. I ignored the baby killer comments from the college preppies because I was no baby killer. I was a medic during the war in Vietnam. I saved lives and helped people like you’re doing here now.”
“I’m sure there are jobs that you could do for money so that you don’t have to live on the street,” she said, “there are agencies that can help you.”
“Too many rules,” he said.
“Too many rules?” she asked, “what do you mean.”
“Those agencies have too many rules; they wanted to put me in a group home with a curfew. No beer and what not,” he said with some agitation in his voice, “I’m an adult not a child.”
“Well you should apply for cash assistance and low income housing,” she said.
“Well some of my friends sell their blood for money,” he said, “not me though I’m scared of needles.”
“You used to be a medic,” she said laughing, “and you’re scared of needles.”
“Those needles were being applied to the people I was helping not being stuck in me,” he said.
“Nothing to it just a small prick,” she said, “not that painful.”
“That’s okay I will pass on the bloodletting,” he said while taking a gulp of his coffee.
Nurse Betty turned once again to enter the Emergency room.
“You know, I wasn’t always like this,” Phil said to her, “five years ago I just broke down and lost everything. I was living back then from pay check to pay check. I lost my job, then my house, and my car, so here I am but I get by.”
“It’s good getting to know you,” she said to him.
“You’re a good Nurse, I see that in you,” he said, “you care about people.”
“You’re a good person, too” she said to him, “I wish there was more I could do for you. No one should live on the street; everyone should have a roof over their head.”
“I’m doing all right,” he said trying to maintain his dignity, “really it’s not that bad.”
Betty told her husband about Phil as they ate breakfast at their kitchen table. She told him about the medals he received for his Valor in Vietnam.
“The war has been over for ten years now he must have some serious issues,” her husband said while reading the morning paper, “the next time he comes around call the hospital security. He has no business being there.”
“He’s harmless,” she said.
Every day Betty made sure the coffee pot was full and each day she went out of her way to engage Phil with some small talk. Phil not only enjoyed Betty’s Coffee. He also enjoyed the feeling of being visible. He may not have been all that visible to the other staff but Betty treated him as a full fledged human being. There was just something about Phil she liked.
There are those unforeseen circumstances that have a tendency to plow over us when we least expect them. One of those unforeseen events came to Betty on a November night in 1985 when a drunk driver careened his vehicle into her car. She was seriously injured and for the first time in her life she returned to the emergency room not as a hospital employee but a critically injured patient.
Her husband arrived at the hospital shaken up and visibly distraught.
“How’s my wife,” he shouted to a nurse.
“Calm down they're working on her now,” a nurse said to him.
A short time later a Doctor came out to the waiting area, “what is your blood type?” he asked Betty’s husband.
“Type A positive,” he replied.
“Your wife is in urgent need of a blood transfusion,” the Doctor told him, “but we can’t locate her blood type. She’s type AB negative, a very rare blood type.”
“You mean she might die?” Betty’s husband said frantically.
“We’re trying to locate type AB negative blood,” the Doctor said.
“Are you Betty’s husband?” asked the scraggly looking, homeless man.
“And you are,” came the sarcastic response from Betty’s husband.
“Your wife makes the best coffee but I don’t know who made this it’s downright awful,” Phil said with a cup of Coffee in his hand.
“Look what the hell is this bum doing here?” Betty’s husband said to the Doctor in an agitated voice.
“He’s one of your wife’s associates,” the Doctor replied.
“Is there anything I can do I used to be a Medic,” Phil asked.
“We got everything under control,” said the Doctor as he turned to walk away.
“Please locate that type AB- blood,” said Betty’s husband.
“We are doing our best,” said the Doctor as he returned to the Emergency room.
“You need type AB- blood?” Phil asked.
“Get away from me you freak,” said Betty’s husband visibly angry.
“You said you need type AB blood,” Phil repeated.
“Look if you don’t get the hell away from me I’m going to call hospital Security,” Betty’s husband yelled.
“Is this man bothering you Mr. Almond,” asked a Nurse, “are you bothering this man,” she said to Phil.
“Sorry but I was just trying to say that I have type AB negative,” said Phil, “but I will just drink my Coffee over there in the waiting area.”
“Look,” Mr. Almond said very loudly, “you don’t have any kind of communal diseases or anything do you?”
“I just need a haircut -- you won’t catch anything from me,” said Phil.
“It’s Betty I’m worried about; my wife is getting your blood,” Mr. Almond said. He paused for a second and stared in disbelief as the Nurse took Phil into the Emergency room.
Well, Phil endured the needle and Betty received her transfusion.
“Well we are practically blood relatives now,” Phil said to Betty in her hospital room.
“That was awfully sweet of you Phil,” she said.
“I sure miss your Coffee, Nurse Betty, I don’t know who took over making it since you’ve been laid up in this room,” Phil said to her, “the coffee down there is just downright awful.”
“Hank,” Betty said to her husband, “I think Phil can fit in one of your suits.”
“What,” Hank said in a shocked voice.
“He’s about your size,” she said.
“No, No,” Hank repeated, “he can get his own suit.”
“Take him out for a haircut too and a Cappuccino,” she said to her husband.
“Look now that’s going too far,” said Hank, “next you’ll be having him move in with us.”
“I hope I’m not putting you guys out of your way,” said Phil at their kitchen table while wearing Hank’s pajamas.
“No not at all,” Hank said angrily.
“Now, Hank, be nice,” said Betty, “you look so much nicer now Phil with a haircut and shave.”
“And not to mention my pajamas,” Hank said angrily. “You got him wearing my suits, dress shirts, ties…”
“Hank,” Betty said in a stern scolding voice, “he needs to look professional if he’s to get back on his feet.” Not quite sure of the moral of this story, but it’s a nice story worth sharing. Phil did eventually get back on his feet during the dot com boom of the mid nineties. He did quite well for himself reselling designer computer mouses online. But unfortunately, when the internet bubble burst in the late nineties, so did Phil’s company. Phil is happy though, living out of Betty and Hank’s garage, and once a month he donates blood at their local blood bank. Betty and Hank had their only child a daughter in 1986, and they had their first grandchild in 2008. As retired grandparents, they enjoy spending time with their granddaughter. Their daughter Angela refers to Phillip Hobbs as Uncle Phil and she visits him often in her parent’s garage.
Always with love, from Suzhou, China.
Thomas F. O’Neill
Phone: (800) 272-6464
China Cell: 8615114565945
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries, by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found at the links below,
|Thursday, December 3rd, 2009|
|Songs of Angels
By Thomas F O’Neill
She listened somberly as the Priest read the prayers at the graveside. Her mother’s casket was slowly being lowered into the ground. A six year old girl grasped her Mother’s arm as the Priest slowly walked toward them, “She is with Jesus, now,” he said, but his religious platitudes rang hollow for the woman who just buried her mother. The Priest’s words and manner seemed somewhat rehearsed to Sally Stoner.
She tried desperately to hold back her tears, “Don’t cry, Mommy,” her daughter whispered.
Her family, friends, and neighbors walked stoically by her side as they turned from the graveside. They then quickly gathered at Sally’s home and spoke openly about her Mother. They shared food with one another it was their way of showing that they truly care for each other.
They shared stories as well about the old neighborhood were Sally and her friends grew up. She is one of the few that stayed behind in her hometown. Most of her friends after graduating high school and college left for better opportunities and a better life. They knew it was a rough year for Sally and her daughter, Morgan.
That year Sally’s husband had left her, and the outsourcing of the local plant left her unemployed. Now the death of her mother only added to the fact that life was beating her down. She drew on every fiber of strength though, to remain strong for her daughter. She wanted desperately for Morgan to have a better life and future.
“Remember old Mr. Pompasko,” Sally’s cousin Fred asked, “He taught Ninth grade English, whatever happened to him.”
“He retired long ago,” said Sally, “I remember the fun we had. The tricks we played on him. Remember when we glued his chalk to the chalkboard?”
“Boy did he get mad,” said another cousin, “I was too scared to laugh after that look he gave me.”
“Everything was so different then, the whole town is different now,” said Fred, “It sure changed from when we were kids.”
“I know,” said one of Sally’s neighbors, “this town is going downhill really fast.”
“I would give anything to move from here,” Sally said, “I want my Morgan to have better opportunities.”
“Nixon is resigning,” yelled Sally’s Uncle who was sitting in front of the TV, “do you believe it? Gerry Ford is taking over.”
“I don’t necessarily see Nixon resigning as the end of the world, Mr. Shitshitski,” said Fred, “in a matter of time he would have been impeached.”
“Yeah, I suppose so,” said Sally’s uncle, “but Gerry Ford taking over, what the hell is this country coming to?”
Sally and the others continued to reminisce and laugh about their childhood experiences. The conversations stirred up deep feelings and emotions. Sally’s feelings welled up to the surface and she was unable to hold back her tears. She began to tell them stories about her father who immigrated to America from Poland. Like most of the immigrants in their hometown, they’d come there to work deep in the coal mines. But when Sally’s Mother died the coal mines had closed for twenty some years and their hometown has been on the decline ever since.
The stories stirred up some of her earliest memories as well. She told them how her father would sing Polish songs to her when she was her daughter Morgan’s age. One song in particular was of an Angel watching over a young orphan child. He sang the songs with such passion, love, and warmth. She still remembers how he would hold her in his arms as he sang. She would try and sing along with him. It was her father’s way of putting her to bed. The memories brought her both comfort and pain though, because her father passed away when she was only seven years old.
His body had been laid out in the living room and she could remember the miners dressed in their Sunday suits coming to pay their last respects. Her father only had one suit and that was the suit he was buried in. She had also grasped her mother’s arm at the cemetery the day her Father was buried.
At the age of seven she tried desperately to write the words of the songs her father sang to her. The harder the little girl tried the more the tears flowed. Her Polish mother held the grieving child in her arms. She told Sally, “Your father will always sing to you,” as she wiped the tears from Sally’s face. “Your father’s love will always be with you,” her mother told her once again in Polish.
While holding young Sally with all of her might, “his love will always be sung to you, you will see,” said her Mother with certainty, “Like the Angels in his songs, he is with you.” Young Sally with all of her might believed her Mother’s words. The thought of her Father watching over her like an Angel brought her great comfort.
A few days after her mother’s funeral, she moved into her Mother’s home. The house brought back so many recollections. They were memories of relatives and her Mother’s friends that have also passed away over the years. The memories came with each new discovery of old postcards, photos, and old letters from bygone days. Sally was an only child and the thought of not being able to talk to her mother weighed heavily on her.
It was just a few days after she moved, she enrolled her daughter in a new school. She was very much concerned about how Morgan was handling the change. Morgan’s father was no longer in the picture either. That just compounded the feeling of abandonment. She felt that she and Morgan were now alone in the world.
Sally decided a few weeks later to visit the school once again. She talked to Morgan’s homeroom teacher, Miss Crone.
“Morgan is such a bright little girl with an extraordinary imagination,” Miss Crone told her.
“My only concern” said Morgan’s teacher “is your daughter has been sitting with the children during recess rather than playing the games they normally play. When I questioned them about it, Morgan said a nice man is singing songs to them. There’s never a man there singing. The others sing along with Morgan all huddled together. It’s been going on ever since your daughter arrived at our School. Her over active imagination is having an effect on the other children.”
“That doesn’t sound like my Morgan,” said Sally.
Sally called her daughter over to ask her, “Who’s the man that sings songs to you.”
“He’s such a nice man, Mommy, funny, and kind,” said Morgan. “He’s teaching me Polish too. He sings to me in Polish, and then he explains the songs to me in English.”
“That is what I mean,” said Miss. Crone, “your daughter has an extraordinary imagination.”
“How does this man look, Morgan?” Sally asked.
“He has a brown suit with stripes and a purple hanky sticking out of his pocket.” Morgan went on to say “he wears the same suit every day.”
Tears began to well up in Sally’s eyes as she knelt down to talk to Morgan.
“It’s normal for children to make up stories,” said Miss Crone.
“What songs does he sing to you,” Sally asked her with a tear rolling down her cheek.
“Don’t cry, Mommy, they are happy songs,” Morgan said to her, “they are about angels and love. You find out at the end of one of the songs that only the children can see the Angel.”
“Wait here, Mommy,” said Morgan, as she ran over to her desk and grabbed her book bag. She then quickly ran back to her mother and pulled out a notebook from her bag and handed it to her.
“I wrote the songs down for us,” said Morgan, “one song is about an Angel watching over a young child but only children can see the Angel. The songs are about love.”
Sally began to wipe the tears from her face and she said to Miss Crone, “those were the songs my father sang to me when I was a little girl. I tried so hard to write down the words to his songs after his death. My mother told me his love would never leave me and I believed her.”
“Where did you get those songs, Morgan? At your Nana’s house?” asked Miss. Crone.
“No the nice man sang them to me and he told me to write them down so I did,” said Morgan, “He said the songs are for the children.”
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Stoner, I will get to the bottom of this and find out who that man is,” Miss Crone said.
“That’s quite alright I know who that man is,” said Sally, “and he can visit Morgan and the other children whenever he wants.”
As Morgan was walking home with her mom, she said, “Mommy that is Pappy that comes to my school isn’t it?”
“Yes it is,” said Sally.
“You are so lucky to have him as a daddy,” said Morgan.Always With love,
Thomas F. O’Neill
Phone: (800) 272-6464
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog at the link below,
|Monday, December 22nd, 2008|
|Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008|
|A community coming together for hope and understanding
By Thomas F. O'Neill
I was one of the participants at the unity gathering at the Kahillat Israel Nondenominational Christian Church in Shenandoah on Saturday, August 30, 2008. It follows the July 12 beating and subsequent death of Luis Eduardo Ramirez Zavala, 25, of Shenandoah, PA — about 75 people, mostly Latino and many non-borough residents, filled the small church, listening to several speakers, singers and musicians.
Some who attended commented to me afterwards that they felt as if they sat in on an evangelical political rally. Their comments seemed to have been made sarcastically though because of the religious and political undertone of the main speakers.
Leaders from various state and Hispanic organizations spoke to show their support for our town's Latino's, and to gain the media coverage.
The gathering did bring members of our community together though in a positive way. People left the event knowing that they are not alone in their frustrations with the racial tensions in our town.
At the same time a group calling themselves 'the voice of the people' was rallying across town. Their rhetoric seemed counter productive and their actions spoke louder than their words. They seemed angry and bitter towards immigrants in general. Their arrival was divisive to the community and in no way have they brought about healing.
The anti-immigration rally on the most part was taking advantage of our town's economic condition. Poverty has gripped our region in a severe way. The Hispanics simply became the rally's whipping-board for everything that is wrong with our society.
It is true that our town is impoverished and that is one of the reasons why the Hispanics are moving here. They are here because of the low cost of living. They are also willing to work hard manual labor jobs that the average person will not work.
We also have to realize that most of the Hispanics that immigrated to our region left behind in their native countries the most impoverished conditions imaginable. I have seen this kind of extreme poverty first hand. In the early 1990's, I lived in Ecuador, India, Malaysia, and Australia. People living in the hills of Duran in Ecuador are living in sugarcane huts. They have no electricity, indoor plumbing, and they wash with rain water. They eat only what they can gather for that day because they have no way of preserving their food. Water must be boiled prior to using it to prevent an outbreak of cholera. Cholera is a common ailment in that country that can kill you. When I returned to the United States I was grateful for what I had and the little inconveniences were just that--little inconveniences compared to how the poor live in Ecuador.
When I look at life in terms of my experiences, I realize how our beliefs are a major part of who we are in terms of how we relate to others. I also realize, more so now than before, how the people living in those impoverished conditions rely on their community for their survival.
The individual cannot place themselves above their community because it is the welfare of the community that is vital for their survival. In America we rely on our rugged individualism. In Ecuador in the hills of Duran where I lived for three months there is no such concept.
The people in Ecuador looked at me with such curiosity and they were the most loving people. I washed my clothes with them, ate with them, and we had to communicate in body language because I could not speak their language. There was one thing that they loved to do however and that was laugh. They were not aware of what they did not have in terms of technology because they were pretty much isolated from the rest of the world. On the most part they are content to live in their community because the community is their family. They could rely on one another in times of need.
That is how most of the Hispanics in Shenandoah would like to live. They would like to reach out to their neighbors and to their community free from racial bias, bigotry, and hate. They understand implicitly what we give to the members of our community we give to ourselves.
Our town might be ailing but the cure is in the people. Whenever we enhance the wellbeing of a person in need we in turn enhance our own lives. This type of living is becoming lost in our modern, high-tech society, but it is something we can learn from the Hispanic population.
Most of the Hispanics have the same values our ancestors brought with them when they emigrated here. Some of our ancestors settled down in our coal region to work the manual labor jobs that most of us today could not imagine working. Some of our ancestors made little financial gains in life but they implicitly understood. You can save anything in life but life itself, and what you give to others makes your life worth living.
Some of those same immigrants did not strive like fools for the possessions they did not have. Instead, they wisely developed what they already possessed within themselves. Today's immigrants will pass on those same values to the next generation. Those values are what made our nation great and an example for other nations to emulate.
The foreigners are coming to our country because they want their children and grandchildren to have better opportunities and a better life as Americans. That is what makes our country the greatest nation on earth and a beacon of light and hope for the other nations of the world.
As for the group calling themselves 'the voice of the people' they seem to have an unenlightened voice. Especially, when you consider that our community is trying to come together to bring about change for the better.
Thomas F. O'Neill
Yahoo Screen Name for chatting online: introspective777
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found at the links below.
|Tuesday, August 5th, 2008|
|Shenandoah must find a way to heal
By Thomas F. O'Neill
I was one of the participants at the vigil last week for Luis Eduardo Ramirez, the young man who died, the police say, from a severe beating at the hands of Shenandoah teenagers. His candlelight service was very moving and a lot of wise words were spoken. It revealed that we must take responsibility for the community. We can't, however, return bigotry and prejudice with hate. We must rise above by extending an understanding hand to our neighbors and to the community as a whole.
We all tend to have condescending dismay for our town's condition. We live from day to day, wishing for the community to change. We rarely take responsibility for our own lives by becoming the change that we would like to see in others. People spoke openly and honestly at Ramirez's vigil, without fear. They chose to attend not just to bring about a positive change for our community but to bring about healing. These values are not for the few. They are rooted in our ethnic heritages and family trees.
The violence and killing of Luis Eduardo Ramirez is extremely painful for his immediate family, his friends, and shocking for the entire community. This tragic hate crime should be a wake-up call for the adult community. We cannot rely on schools whether they are private or public to instill values in our neighborhood children. Those values must be instilled in the home. Bigotry and prejudice beget condescending hate and eventually violence against our own humanity.
If we want to live in a better world we must take responsibility for the condition of our neighborhoods, and our community, by becoming the change. We as individuals must change for the better. It is easy to sit by and point the finger at others. It seems also that the biggest bigots rarely live up to what they believe is society's standards and principles. Rather than being a positive force in their community, they tear others down with racist remarks or, in extreme cases, with violent attacks.
The immigrants in our communities may not look like the majority of us. They may or may not speak our language, and they may not fit into the prejudicial world that some in our community would like to live in. It wasn't that long ago when segregation was the norm, but it took forceful and enlightened voices to put an end to that extreme racial discrimination.
We also tend to forget that our ancestors, when they came to this country, were also abused and discriminated against. That is why we must reach out a helping hand, just as our ancestors reached out to members of their community when they arrived here as immigrants from foreign countries.
It is also unfortunate that the mining legends are becoming ancient history for Shenandoah's youth and that the Shenandoah Historical Society is not reaching out to our community's younger generation. We must help the youth understand that the immigrants who came to our region to work the coal mines provided our town and the region as a whole with cultural diversity. That cultural diversity gave our coal-mining towns a rich character.
Our ancestors, with their rich ethnic heritage, implicitly understood. What we give to our community we give to ourselves, and what we change in ourselves we change in our community. Our humanity whether we are aware of it or not is our greatest resource, in times of plenty, and in times of great need.
This community must realize also that if we truly want to see the town of Shenandoah become revitalized -- whether it is through Downtown Shenandoah Inc. or other endeavors -- we must reach out and become more accepting of the Hispanic business owners and to the Hispanic population as a whole.
We must also reach out to the town's youth. Perhaps what the town needs is a youth center. The teenagers complain that they have nowhere to go in the town.
This national news coverage of the beating death of Luis Eduardo Ramirez only goes to show that today's Hispanics have a voice and that voice was heard. Their voice is bringing about a change for the better, not only in their own lives but perhaps for our entire diverse community.
The Hispanics' cultural heritage is being instilled in their American-born children and their children will instill those same values to their grandchildren. They are contributing to our region's overall heritage, a heritage that can be proudly passed on to the next generation.
Thomas F. O’Neill
Yahoo Screen Name for chatting online: introspective777
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found at the links below. http://thomasfoneill.blogspot.com http://pencilstubs.com http://www.livejournal.com/users/thomas_f_oneill http://www.myspace.com/thomas_f_oneill http://thomasfoneill.spaces.live.com http://www.pencilstubs.com/magazine/authorbio.asp?AID=412 http://www.mcall.com/news/opinion/anotherview/all-a.6533261aug05,0,4235851.story
|Tuesday, July 1st, 2008|
|The Spark Of Life
by Thomas F. O’Neill
I enjoy reading how modern scientists are striving to come up with a unified field theory. A theory that can comprehensively explain all of reality and how we as human beings fit into the evolving big picture that is within us and around us.
Most Scientists believe that Quantum Physics brings us closer to achieving that goal but there are still many unanswered questions. One major breakthrough in Quantum Physics was the discovery that matter can be broken down to its sub-atomic elements and that the energy at that level cannot be created nor destroyed. Sub-atomic energy is found throughout the universe, in living, and nonliving matter. The discovery of this energy brought us closer in understanding that sub-atomic energy is eternal.
Quantum Physics is a remarkable tool in understanding the universe’s building blocks but it does not bring us anymore closer to understanding the essence of life.
A recent scientific breakthrough was the mapping of humanities genetic code. We have learned more about the human genome in the last decade than in any other time in human history. We have also gained a greater understanding of the various genetic codes within other species. These various DNA signatures are essential for life to exist on our planet.
Scientist can point out the characteristics of what makes something a living being but science cannot fully define why we exist. The essence of all living things that continues to evolve to greater self consciousness cannot be fully comprehended on an intellectual level. But yet it is something we experience as self conscious beings.
Some scientist are beginning to intuit that just as sub-atomic energy cannot be created or destroyed so to is the essence of life eternal. It is not a matter of believing in life or placing our faith in life because we know life exists. Life is what we experience and are consciously aware of in ourselves and others. We come to recognize existence in existence itself.
For the spiritually aware, it does not take new mathematical equations to recognize and conclude that we are alive. Some would define life as being synonymous with god and with our own self conscious awareness.
The spiritually aware can also intuitively recognize the existence of all things as god’s outreach of love. Their spiritual understanding of life is not a matter of religious faith. It is merrily a matter of experiencing the spiritual core within their own being and within the existence of others.
Quantum Physicists recognize the internal energy that sustains everything. This energy can also be reduced or broken down infinitesimally. There is no starting point to this energy but at the same time it is an extension of what we understand as being god. There is also an internal balance within this energy. The spiritually minded would call this internal balance an intelligent design.
Our human minds however no matter how much knowledge we gain will always fall short of intellectually comprehending the awe inspiring reality of god.
This scientific attempt among scientists to come up with a unified field theory does not fall in the realm of theology. It is simply a scientific method to unify their understanding of the sub-atomic world with the cosmos in general.
The star filled skies and the human soul have intrigued the intellectually curious and the mystics for thousands of years. But in our more resent times we are gaining more of an understanding of the raw science behind the cosmos and of what makes us human.
We are also just beginning to comprehend the universes sheer vastness. Most scientist believe that the reason it can take Billions of light years for light to reach the earth from the farthest regions of our universe is because the cosmos is expanding at an accelerated rate.
Another way of viewing this expansion and outward acceleration is by perceiving it as accelerated growth within our evolving Universe. There are scientists that also believe that in some far off and very distant future the accelerated expansion will slow down and the Universe will begin to collapse in on itself due to a strong gravitational pull. The immense gravitational pull will cause the matter in our universe to breakdown to a sub-atomic ball of energy.
The sub-atomic energy will eventually explode into what scientist call the ‘big bang theory’ or a ‘rebirth’ of a new universe. This of course is just a scientific theory but it also makes sense.
The big bang theory is a reflection of death and rebirth on a cosmic level. Some scientists intuit that our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes like a single cell among numerous cells that make up a living body. That living body is evolving within a greater living reality and that reality is evolving within an even greater reality and so on and so on. This theory of an unending expansion of evolving life is not something we can prove scientifically but it is something we can come to understand intuitively.
When it comes to the infinite and the infinitesimal reality of the ultimate big picture; we recognize that the ultimate existence of all things is the sum total of unending possibilities. Our existence is interconnected and an intricate part of the ultimate reality which is defined as eternal life.
I have a deep understanding that all life is spiritual by its very nature. I do not however follow any particular religious path because I have an implicit and intuitive awareness of that spirituality.
Throughout history people have taken long and treacherous Journeys throughout the world and beyond. But the longest and most treacherous Journey that any person can undertake is the Journey inward.
The inward journey provides humanity with multiple paths to spiritual awareness because each individual must and at some point awaken to greater self awareness.
We must also keep in mind that a key to spiritual growth is not in imposing ones will or beliefs upon others but rather in living our life as we would want others to live their lives, in doing so, others will embrace and emulate our way of life. True spirituality leads towards authenticity and that is why the truly spiritual do not seek conformity from others.
Spiritual awareness frees people from imposing their will on others because they implicitly understand that the source of ones spirituality is at the very core of who we are as living beings. Life and god are synonymous we cannot separate god from the essence of life that sustains our very being.
The scientists’ attempts to come up with a unified field theory are in fact reflecting how science and spirituality are complimenting one another and merging towards a common objective. That common objective is to comprehend the essence within the totality of its whole.
However, in order for science to unify humanities comprehension of the ultimate reality of things, we must first unify our understanding of what makes us human.
We must gain a deeper understanding of our own evolving self consciousness, the interconnected life around us, and ultimately the living universe in its totality.
The unified field theory is also a race for both science and spirituality to unite the infinite with the infinitesimal. The ultimate objective is to unravel and comprehend the mysteries of consciously evolving life. This is not a modern day objective because the wisest of the wise have sought to do this since the birth of humanity.
Life is an ongoing quest with greater self awareness as the means to greater spiritual growth within us and in all that we touch. This interrelationship will ultimately lead towards a greater comprehension of the Universe and humanities role as intricate living beings within an evolving and consciously growing universe.
It is when we discover and recognizing our spiritual interconnectedness which is the sustaining essence of all things that we become a living, breathing, and ever so subtle revelation of the altruistic outreach of god’s love.
Thomas F. O’Neill
Yahoo Screen Name for chatting online: introspective777
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found at the links below.
|Friday, February 29th, 2008|
|An Abundance In Life
by Thomas F. O’Neill
There was a time when Robert Forner had it all, a good paying Job, a nice home, and a reliable car. But the news of the outsourcing of the industrial plant where he worked hit him hard. The company moved their plant to Ecuador for a higher profit margin and Robert found himself without a job. The unemployment checks barely kept him above water and it didn’t take long for all his savings to dry up.
In order to get by he cut corners, he let his homeowner insurance, and his auto insurance laps. He found himself without health insurance and he felt as if he was on a downward spiral to a place called ‘rock bottom.’
He only had one more biweekly check from his unemployment compensation which added up to six hundred and twenty three dollars. The night before the money was to be directly deposited into his bank account. He watched his entire world go up in flames. The fire fighters were unable to save his home or his car that was parked in his garage. The photographs of the life he once lived were consumed in the flames as well.
Now he was homeless.
He answered the fire marshals questions the next day but the cause of the fire was not yet known. It was learned in a matter of time though that it was caused by a faulty circuit breaker that Robert installed a month earlier. With no insurance to fall back on he found himself in dire straights. The road ahead of him looked bleak and he was constantly thinking about his uncertain future.
Embarrassed for being in the situation he found himself in, he also did not want to burden others with his misfortune. He did not turn to others in his community for help. He put the entire matter on his own shoulders. He also considered the fact that he was never married and he did not have a family to support. But at the same time he felt very much alone with nothing more then the clothes on his back.
There was nothing holding him to his hometown because everything he ever owned, all his material possessions, were now gone. With the little money he had left he boarded a Greyhound bus. He was now hitting the road. He had no particular destination in mind. His money unfortunately did not last long.
He tried finding employment with temporary agencies but not having a phone or a permanent address. He did not have much luck securing a job, a job he desperately needed to survive.
Eventually Robert found himself living with society’s unseen, the so called down trodden people, who live, day to day, on the street. He went from shelter to shelter and at times he waited in the back of restaurants in order to root through their garbage for scraps of food. The clothes on his back became worn and dirty. The hair on his head and face became knotted up from being unkempt. He took on the appearance of the shadow people, the street people, the so called bums. He was no longer recognizable from the man he once was.
He began to view his situation as some sort of punishment but in a way he was simply punishing himself. He at times went to various churches for help but they all seemed to have the same rhetoric. He continuously heard the same words, “we do not have the resources or the funding to assist you at this time.” In a way he felt he was being served right though for foolishly losing everything he once owned.
As his days on the street moved into weeks and months, he found himself more and more being part of society’s forgotten souls. He spent many nights under an overpass with others who were down and out. They used a large medal drum as a makeshift stove. They washed their clothes in a river which was also their toilet. Robert hung out with these colorful characters that were fending for themselves. He tried to pass some of his time away by keeping a daily journal of his day to day activities.
The police one night came through with flashlights and threatened to have them locked up for vagrancy. The vagrants moved on and Robert found himself sleeping alone behind dumpsters.
He was told by other homeless people about the dangers of sleeping inside the dumpsters. Some of the homeless in the past were accidentally killed by being crushed to death by the sanitation trucks. Robert on the other hand chose those locations because in the darkness of night, no one sees him, or bothers him while he sleeps. One dumpster in particular that he inhabited was behind a flower shop.
The flower shop is owned by Lillian Snodgrass a divorcee and mother of a two and a half year old girl named Megan. They also love and care for a six year old golden retriever named Lacy.
Lillian’s former husband left her shortly after she became pregnant with Megan. She is struggling now to make ends meet through her flower shop. She chose to start the business on her own because it gives her the freedom to spend her days with her daughter. She also enjoys making her customers happy and she gets great satisfaction in knowing that she is working for herself.
Her little daughter Megan is a curious child who loves placing the flowers into the jars and smelling them. She also enjoys the attention she receives from the various customers. She is her mother’s little helper and co owner of their very own flower shop.
Twice a week in the early morning Megan would watch the garbage truck lift their dumpster in the air and empty the contents into the back of a sanitation truck. Lacy their golden retriever protects little Megan by growling and barking at the sanitation workers.
Being two and a half years old it didn’t take Megan long to figure out how to unlash the screen door behind their flower shop. One morning Megan and Lacy went out back to the dumpster. Robert was then awakened by something warm and moist moving across his nose. He soon realized that it was a golden retriever licking his face as he slept.
He quickly took notice of the toddler looking at him as the sanitation truck began to back up in order to lift the dumpster. The golden retriever growled and barked away at the truck. She was simply protecting her territory and little Megan. Lillian distracted by a customer was completely unaware that Megan was outside behind the shop.
The sanitation workers continued backing their truck. They were unaware that little Megan was directly behind them. The sanitation workers ignored the barking dog so Robert quickly ran over and grabbed the little girl.
Lillian went out to see what the commotion was all about. She saw the sanitation truck back up over the homeless man who was cradling her daughter, Megan, in his arms.
Letting out a gut wrenching scream as she began pounding on the sanitation truck, Lillian yelled for the sanitation workers to stop. The truck slowly moved forward. Lacy also concerned for Megan ran underneath the truck and began licking the little girls face.
“Who the hell are you?” Lillian asked Robert looking past his disheveled appearance and bad odor.
“The little girl was about to be pinned between the dumpster and the truck,” he told Lillian, “and that is why I grabbed her the way I did.”
She immediately said to him almost without thought, “let me help you,” the thought of a homeless man saving her daughter was playing on her mind. Her daughter’s life, after all, was worth more to her then all her worldly possessions.
“I don’t want to burden you,” he said, “not with my problems.”
The sanitation workers saw nothing more then a bum in Robert.
”Look,” said one of the sanitation workers, “if we see you here again we will call the police.”
As Lillian looked upon Robert’s disheveled appearance. She saw something, deep within. What she saw was compassion and a deep caring warmth. It was something she hasn’t seen in a person in a very long time and her heart went out to him, “I can’t bear it,” she said, “seeing you sleeping on the street.”
She took him in, cut his hair, shaved him, and found some of her former husband’s clothes for him to ware. They were a few sizes to big but they were at least clean. She let him shower as she prepared something for him to eat. As the warm water cleansed Robert’s body, “I haven’t had a shower in eight months,” he thought to himself, “How could I ever repay her for her kindness.”
“Wow, what a big difference,” she said as she gazed at the cleaned up Robert. “You can sleep on our couch until you get back on your feet.”
As he ate he told her his life story,
“Couldn’t the churches help you?” she asked him.
“They told me that they didn’t have the resources to help,” he told her.
“What about social services?” she asked.
“Well not being a resident from this county. I was told there is a long waiting list,” he said.
“That’s nuts, so you are then forced to live on the street,” she said, “You have no family or friends that can help you?”
“I don’t want to burden them, just like I don’t want to burden you,” he told her, “not with my issues.”
“Families help one another,” she said, “when my husband left me I had no choice but to turn to my family, for help, and they helped me.”
“I got myself into this mess,” he said, “It’s not other people’s problem.”
“Well I can’t have you living on the street,” she said, “I wasn’t raised that way, especially, after you grabbed and pulled my Megan out of the way of that sanitation truck. If you weren’t there she would have been crushed to death.”
As she poured her daughter and Robert a glass of Ice tea, “she’s my entire life,” she said referring to her daughter with deep emotion, “she’s the reason I get out of bed in the morning. I couldn’t live without her. I will help you get back on your feet. This is the least I could do for what you did.”
Little Megan walked over to Robert and worked her way onto his lap as he drank his Ice tea, “well she doesn’t have a problem with you here,” Lillian said to Robert.
She was surprised to see her daughter take to Robert so quickly. Even Lacy who is very protective of them took an instant liking to him. She was far from being well off with her business. She was struggling to provide for her daughter and she had very little. She shared everything though everything she had with Robert.
It didn’t take her long to realize that Robert was truly a good person. He was bright and a caring person. He was not the bum that he appeared to be in his past. She was glade that he no longer had to fend for himself, day to day, on the street. As far as Lillian is concerned that life is behind him now.
To show his appreciation for her kindness he began to help her with her flower shop. She also goes out of her way for him. She purchases the little things that he needs, like razors, and shampoo. She also buys him clothes but most importantly. Her daughter, Megan, adores him and he adores both of them in return.
He enjoys taking Megan for walks at a nearby park with lacy. It was just one of his ways of being there for them, completely there; it was also a way of retuning the kindness.
Lillian’s former husband is always in the back of her mind. As far as she’s concerned he is truly the bum not Robert. The former husband has always been full of himself and he is never there for them. She felt pretty much abandoned but her and her daughter went on with their lives.
Robert on the other hand seemed down to earth. It was as if his experiences on the street humbled him in many ways. He has a much deeper understanding and a deeper appreciation for what he now has, which is a much better life.
As Robert was walking through the park with Lillian, Megan, and their golden retriever,
“Weren’t you scared at night living on the street?” Lillian asked him.
“Well it wasn’t so much fear that bothered me,” he said, “it was the memories of what I once had, my home, my car, the roof over my head. I was constantly reminded of what I lost. Not having a place of my own was worse then fear.”
“I can’t imagine having to live like that,” she said, “no one should have to live like that.”
“But through your kindness and through your generous caring soul,” he said, “I have gained much more then what I have lost.”
“You saying that makes me feel as if we are supposed to be together in someway,” she said, “almost as if I am supposed to help you.”
“Every human being enters the world like a tourist,” he said, “with mystical baggage,” he then threw a stick for Lacy to retrieve, “some simply come into this world with more luggage then others.”
“I never heard it put that way before,” she said laughing.
“In order to truly live,” he said, “we must discard our baggage.” Lacy quickly ran back with the stick, and as he threw the stick once again, he said, “the baggage inhibits us from truly finding joy in life. I am just beginning to understand that now.”
“Do I have a lot of baggage,” she asked him laughing showing off her girlish figure.
“No I think you have it all together,” he said with humor in his voice.
“So what do you mean by baggage?” she asked him.
“We are the sum total of all our experiences,” he said, “I don’t think we come into this world like a clean slate. I think there is residue from past lived experiences.”
“Past lived experiences,” she said, “you mean past lives?”
“It’s a possibility that makes sense to me,” he said, “we all come into the world with issues that must be resolved in order to grow and move on.”
“That makes sense,” she said, “so do you believe in soul mates,” she asked.
“Soul mates grow from one another,” he said, “and live in each others hearts.”
“I guess that is a ‘yes’ answer,” she said laughing, “I like how you put things together so that I could even understand.”
She enjoyed their daily walks together and their daily conversations. He made her think about the things she rarely thought about. But most importantly they were learning more about each other and the two life paths that are now merging into one.
He continued his daily journal writing as well of his day to day thoughts. The writing helped him gain a deeper grasp of his lived experience. As the day’s progressed he grew closer and closer to his new family.
The customers have grown to like Robert as well because he goes out of his way to please them. Lillian began to notice that many of her customers are going out of their way not just to buy flowers but to talk to Robert.
One day Lillian saw Robert placing a large picture of a Rose on one of the walls in the flower shop, with the quote, “Some see the world as a beautiful Rose, while others focus on its painful thorns.” Robert experienced many painful thorns in his life but now he is recognizing the beauty of the rose.
He was truly grateful for the fact that the pain from his past was healing with time. Through the healing process he has been given a much greater appreciation of the beauty that surrounds him.
It was out of compassion that Lillian rescued Robert from his life on the street. But that compassion soon turned to a deep love for Robert. He was different from the men in her past. He seemed to go out of his way to find ways to accentuate all that is positive in their relationship. But at the same time he was a human being working on ways to resolve his issues. Those issues are, “the residue from the past,” as he preferred to put it.
He felt he should be contributing more to his new family life which was instantly provided to him. His kind gestures were also continually playing on and resonating with Lillian’s heart strings.
She was constantly being reminded as she cared for Megan about how her former husband was driven by ambition and money. Robert on the other hand was simply enjoying the moments with her and her daughter. She grew to rely on him and she simply enjoys his company. Those deep intimate conversations with him lacked in her marriage with her former husband. She also cherishes Robert’s sensitivity to her needs and his brightness. He brought out things through their conversations in ways that she never thought about. He wasn’t just caring; he had a spiritual side to him. She simply wanted him around because they both drew the best out of one another.
Robert for the first time in his life is simply enjoying his new and instant family life. He also finds enjoyment in pleasing the customers at the flower shop. He enjoys the daily conversations with the regulars that come there to just talk. The flower shop in a way has become therapeutic for him. Without realizing he is reaching out to the customers and in doing so he is accentuating all that is positive within him. He was no longer, unseen, undetected, a down trodden homeless person. On the other hand he never forgot where he once was, and how far he has come in life.
“You seem content, Robert,” a young female customer said to him.
“Well,” he said, “I am.”
“Can you purchase it here,” she asked with a smile.
“Well it’s kind of a secret,” he said teasingly.
“I won’t tell a soul,” she said.
“Well,” he said, he then playfully leaned up close to her from across the counter. With a soft sincere voice, he said, “in order to find happiness, joy, and love, in this world. You must bring it to others. Then and only then will you be truly content.”
“That makes sense,” she said, “so what is the charge,” she said with a smile.
“You already paid me,” he said.
“That was for the flowers,” she said teasingly.
“You paid me with your presence,” he said, “when you enjoy the company of others, others enjoy your company.”
“Well,” she said, “I will stop by again to pick up your pearls of wisdom,” as she left the flower shop, little Megan worked her way up on a stool behind the counter.
He was now a surrogate father to Megan and he loved her very much. But he also began to think more and more about the friends he made from his life on the streets. He began to go out a few times a week and visit them in the evenings. Some of them returned to living under the highway overpass. He would bring Megan along with him and he would sit and talk with them about the issues of their daily lives.
He grew more and more determined due to his own past experience of having lived on the street. He wants people to know and understand that there is a deep segment of society that is being overlooked and virtually ignored. That segment of society is America’s homeless, a life that he once shared.
Every evening he copied down passages from his journal. He was compiling them for a book he began to write. It was through those written accounts of his experiences that motivated him to become an advocate for the homeless.
It was through the success of his book that drove him even further. He went out and organized with civic and local church groups to establish halfway programs. The programs are geared to help individuals who lost their homes due to lack of employment, to find temporary shelter, training, and jobs.
That inner drive and determination on his part not only made those programs a reality but it increased the sales of his book. He and Lillian continue selling flowers though and they continue sharing their life’s Journey.
He finally moved off of Lillian’s couch so that they could continue to share their lives together. With his now adopted daughter, Megan, and newborn baby girl. They are happily married. He may have lost everything he once owned in his previous life. But he now feels he gained the world in the process.
As Robert was signing his books in a bookstore, Lillian was sitting next to him, “You certainly have come a long way Mr. Forner,” a man said waiting for Robert to sign his book.
“I never would have come this far if it wasn’t for the kindness and generosity of this woman,” Robert said referring to Lillian.
“That kindness was returned in greater fold,” Lillian said, “besides if he wasn’t a good person I would have thrown him out long ago. But we decided to keep him,” she said with humor in her voice.
His published account of where he was in life is important to the readers. But where he is now and what he gained within is far more important to him. He may have lost everything he once owned. But through that experience he has come to a greater understanding that his present moment with those he loves is all he truly needs.
Robert has put his past behind him by embracing the here and now with all the important people in his life. For Robert losing all his material possessions, everything he ever owned, gave him a much greater appreciation of the important and significant matters of life. Because what he possesses within and what he gives to others can never be lost. But most importantly what he possesses within is far more precious then the fleeting images of his past.
Robert and Lillian are continuously learning from their shared lives. When you give of yourself abundantly you gain an abundance in life
, which can never be lost. Because soul mates grow from one another and live in each others hearts.
Thomas F. O’Neill
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found at the links below.
|Wednesday, January 30th, 2008|
|The Case Of Melvin Spruce
by Thomas F. O’Neill
He seemed to go through life the master of his domain. He provided others with an image that he was a man of superior stature. He was a prominent Attorney and through his law practice he discovered that wealth had its rewards. Melvin Spruce, enjoyed the freedom that came with his wealth it was his way of showing others that he was a cut above the rest.
His large house, expensive cars, was also his way of proving that he was of a higher status set apart from the working class. He was not, after all, what you would call, a nine to five man, nor did he live by an hourly wage. But he did however charge his clients five-hundred dollars an hour for his services.
He was also extremely charismatic and effective in the courtroom. “If the jury likes you,” he told a client, “it makes it much easier for them to perceive the world through your eyes.”
He sat down behind his large mahogany desk and continued his conversation with his client, “I will paint the jury into the big picture,” he said as he leaned back in his chair. He looked at his client with that self assuredness, “the outcome will be positive.”
“How can you be so sure?” his client asked, “I killed a man shot him dead cold.”
“How many others have you killed,” Melvin asked him.
“Well none,” his client said.
“The man you shot,” said his attorney, “raped your Daughter. There will be more then one person on the jury that would have done the same thing.”
“The Jury can acquit someone on emotion?” his client asked.
“If we don’t win this case outright,” Melvin said, “I can assure you a hung Jury. There will be members on the Jury that will vote ‘not guilty’ and dig in their heels.”
“Then the case will have to be retried,” his client said.
“If it turns out to be a hung Jury the District Attorney’s Office will most likely retry this case. But I will do my best to get a unanimous ‘not guilty’ verdict,” his attorney told him.
“I will help the jury perceive the reality,” he told his client as he got up from his desk, “the reality that I want them to see.”
He looked over at his client with a deep self confidence that instantly won him over. He then walked over to a large liquor cabinet. “I learned early on as a young Attorney,” he said, “when the jury likes you as a person they become more receptive to the reality that you create for them.”
“How do you get the jury to like you?” his client asked.
“Humor is a powerful ice breaker,” the attorney said as he poured his client a drink, “I simply make the Jury laugh early on in the case. I then paint them into my reality or the reality I create for them.”
He then poured himself a drink while saying, “I do this in order to sway them over to my side. Everyone has a cynical side and that is where I draw the humor from. The average person has preconceived notions on life. I simply draw on that with a bit of jest and humor. I utilize their preconceived notions and their cynicism to my advantage.”
“I heard you are the best defense Attorney,” his client said, “a master of your craft.”
“I do what I am paid to do,” he said, “and I draw on human psychology to aid me in winning cases. Knowing the law is not enough. You have to add the human factor, the psychology, into the equation. It starts with the jury selection. You have to read the jury, their body language, how they answer the questions, and win them over before the trial ever begins. That is why you hired me.”
He then sat back down behind his larger then life desk. He leaned back in his leather chair, “you have nothing to worry about,” he assured his client once again.
He then told his client with a deep sincere voice, “the men and women that will be on the Jury will sympathize with you. They will understand what was going on inside your mind when you shot him. You did what you did out of compassion for your daughter. No one will sympathize with the dead rapist. Believe me before this case is over the Jury will know what the rapist did to your daughter. When this case comes to an end people out there will applaud what you did.”
His client before leaving his office noticed the photographs that covered his walls. They were Photographs of politicians and celebrities that Melvin Spruce posed with. The photos were merely props to solidify that he was no ordinary attorney.
He was in deed highly successful and Melvin Spruce won that case after two hung Juries. He had a knack of turning ordinary cases into media sensations. That is what he lived for. He got a rush from being in the spotlight. The man he represented in that murder case could not afford Melvin’s retainer fee. But Melvin took the case anyway. The case drew on the average citizens’ interest but most of all it had that vigilante appeal.
His client on the other hand looked more like an accountant in a bowtie. He was not the ‘Charles Bronson’ from the movie ‘Death Wish’ type. But Melvin knew how to play the media to his advantage. He went on to win quite a few other high profile cases as well.
There was one draw back to his success though as he became more well known and prominent in his profession. The more self absorbed he became in other aspects of his life.
He lacked, empathy, and the compassion that was needed to truly bond with those less fortunate. He would take on pro-bono cases only if he knew it would draw the media and give him air time.
In his mind, if the less fortunate people, the wage earners, the so called nine to fivers, could not afford the five-hundred an hour for his services they were not worthy of his skill and expertise.
He had what you would call an inflated ego. His ego assisted him well in the courtroom but it inhibited his ability to relax at home with his family. He was married three times over the years and by his forty-sixth birthday he was divorced three times. He spent his time and money on both clients and mistresses. But he rarely found the time to get to know the life of his children.
In the reality he created for himself his mistresses are the side product of his wealth and success. As for his clients they provide him with the fancy houses and cars. It is through his clients that he could enjoy the material things that come with money. Including the fancy gifts he gave his former wives, over the years, and his various mistresses.
The divorce settlements only put a minor dent in his monetary portfolio. He simply moved on with his life living the high life from day to day.
His life though was drastically about to change.......
On a night of a major thunder storm; Melvin Spruce took a short cut to a former client’s home. He did not want to miss the party or the young female regulars that normally attend these special occasions. On a dark back wood road as he headed to the party. He noticed the bolts of lightning lighting the ski followed by loud thunderous booms.
He came across a large tree that obstructed the road. He stepped out of his vehicle to examine the situation. He has no memory of what came next. He cannot remember the paramedics that worked on him and them rushing him to the hospital.
“He’s toast,” said one of the paramedics in route to the hospital, “he must have been struck by lightning,” said the other paramedic.
Melvin was dead as a door nail as the two paramedics wheeled him into the emergency room.
“He’s DOA,” one of the paramedic said to a nurse.
“Dead on arrival,” the nurse said as she slowly saw Melvin’s chest rise.
He began to take small slow breaths but he would lie in a hospital room for the next six months in a coma.
One day Melvin felt something warm moving across his body. It was a warm washcloth. A female orderly was washing him in his hospital bed. The warm cloth felt good on his body and it soothed him. He immediately discovered though that he was unable to see or hear. He could not move any part of his body or speak. What he did have however was a heightened sensation of touch through his skin.
He was immediately overcome with fear from feeling trapped in his own body. Frustration soon followed from his inability to communicate. He was unaware of where he was or what happened to him. His thoughts seemed clear enough but no matter how hard he tried he could not move or speak.
He constantly had an eerie feeling of people being around him but he could not see them or hear them. As time went on his sense of touch through his skin became more and more intense.
He had a heightened sensitivity and he was able to feel the presence of others as they approached his bed. But he had no way of communicating with them. The hospital staff approached him as they would any other comatose patient. To the staff he was simply unconscious totally unaware of his surroundings.
“What happened to me?” he asked himself, “where am I?” as his mind was gripped in fear.
“I can’t see or hear” his mind cried out, “why can’t I move?” his body was simply incapable of complying with is minds commands.
The days turned into weeks as he lay in his dark and silent world. But he began to differentiate night from day by the hospital staff that was caring for his physical and medical needs. He did not know their names or their personal life story but he knew them by how they cared for him.
He knew which staff was simply going through the motions for a pay check. He knew this by how they rushed through the cleaning of his body and the changing of his sheets.
He knew also who genuinely cared for the patients by how they gently maneuver him in bed to relieve the pressure on his bed sores.
He knew it was morning by the sponge bath and which orderly was washing him by the simple motion of the washcloth. One orderly in particular seemed to take her time when washing him. The warm cloth had a soothing effect on his body.
He was constantly thinking about his current condition.
“A stroke? - perhaps, - Brain tumor? - maybe, - maybe an aneurism?” he was constantly speculating on what the physical condition was that afflicted him.
“Is this hell,” he would constantly say to himself as the days progressed.
He knew deep down inside though that he was in a hospital. He did not know the circumstance that led him there but he knew he was a patient. He knew also that those who where cleaning him and adjusting him in bed each day were the paid staff.
“Do they know I am aware?” he would ask himself as he lay there helpless.
“I want them to know I am aware of them being in the room,” he would constantly tell himself with deep frustration.
“What happened to me?” he would ask himself gripped in self pity.
His mind was crystal clear but no matter how hard he tried, he could not speak or move his body. He could not hear a sound or see those who entered his room. He was living a trapped existence. He was trapped within his own body. He was living with the fleeting images of his thoughts and memories.
“If there is a plug to pull?” he would say, “they can pull it now. I don’t want to go on living this way.” But in his nightmarish existence no sounds emanated from his lips.
The words were simply his thoughts that bounced around in his head. The thoughts and memories were proof that something inside was living. He had conciseness but his body refused to acknowledge his mental commands. “My thoughts are my words but I have been entombed in a dead body. My mind is buried alive in a place where I cannot be heard.”
He went on living day after day as an imprisoned mind, locked away, deep within his body. “A punishment perhaps,” he would say, “for what moral crime?” He prayed for death but his prayers went unanswered.
“I still have memories,” he mentally cried out, “to entertain me in this lonely place. This isolated hellish silence of a place. I can yet feel, Ah yes what I feel now is more bed sores. Has this become my purpose? Has the purpose of my existence been reduces to bed sores?”
His memories are in deed with him but not all of his memories are of happy times. He could no longer distract himself away from his failed marriages. The pain the messy divorces caused for his former wives and children, those memories were there with him as well.
His condition forced him to come to grips with the reality of the situation. His greatest fear now is being forced to live with that reality. He was now living and seeing who he truly is not the image of what he wanted others to see. He now had to contend with his own mind. The reality that he is being faced with is that his mind is all he truly has.
He now believes as he lay there feeling the pain from his raw bed sores. That he has been reduced to his memories whether they are of good times or bad. Those memories are of the life he lived.
He found ways to occupy his time by reliving his trial battles almost like in a dreamlike state. His clever victorious trial maneuvers entertained him and distracted him from his nightmarish condition. But when he would fall asleep he would dream about the other life he lived. The self absorbed life that destroyed the personal relationships in his life. Those are the memories that he preferred not to conjure up. All of his legal know how, his brilliant psychological understanding of others can not help him now. He feels as if he has been sentenced in someway by a higher power for some past immoral injustice that he may have inflected on some poor soul.
He never believed in or thought much about heaven or hell. In his mind the current condition he was now being forced to live is a hellish existence in itself.
He began to contemplate on the meaning and the purpose of his existence. “Why am I here?” he would ask, “for what reason?” It was thoughts such as these that began to occupy his waking hours. He knew he was alive because he had the consciousness of being alive. The question he began to ask himself though was why was he conscious? Why was he living at that particular moment in time? He was consumed with his own thoughts of being alive. But he was unable to adequately reach out and connect with those who enter his room each day. The hospital staff was taking care of his physical and medical needs but unaware of Melvin Spruce’s awareness of them being in the room. In the staffs minds he was simply a mindless body lying in the hospital bed.
He also began to live for the contact from the hospital staff. He looked forward to the morning sponge baths. The physical maneuvering of him in bed as the staff cleaned him up and relieved the pressure off of his bed sores. He looked forward to the physical contact. The staffs contact was limited though to his physical and medical needs. But their contact provided him with proof that he was not alone.
In his past he felt he was a cut above the rest a man of high stature. But now he is simply a man limited to his own thoughts. He is trapped in his own mind, incapable of connecting with those around him. “I would gladly give it all up,” he said to himself as he lay in self pity. “I would give up everything I ever accumulated to just simply embrace and feel an emotional connection. All I need is to embrace another human being.”
He began to think more and more about how he lived his life. Morality for Melvin Spruce has always been a human norm a societal standard. Those who go against what society puts in place for our normative behavior will soon need the expertise of a lawyer. After all that is why he had clients. But now he was wondering if there is a higher moral code that he broke and was now being punished for.
He wished he lived his life differently now because it wasn’t his clients that were entering his room. He realized also his former wives and children were not there either to visit him. He did not feel the touch of his various mistresses as he lay helpless in that darkened silence. The people he was having contact with on a daily bases were being paid to do so. “I wish things can be different with my children and former wives,” he would say to himself as he lay with the burden of the life he was now living.
His sensitivity through his skin became increasingly heightened as time progressed. He knew when people entered and exited his room. It was as if he could feel their vibrations in the room. He could also feel their deep thoughts and their emotions at times as they administered to his medical needs. He at times was able to know things about the staff as they touched him. He could pick up tidbits about their character and emotional wellbeing.
He began to hear a loud buzzing sound as the months moved into the next year but it wasn’t an external sound he heard. It was in his head keeping him up all night and throughout the day. It wasn’t a pitch or a tone he heard just a loud buzzing that was driving him to the brink of insanity. He had no way of mentally ignoring it and it would not let up. He tried with every mental fiber of determination to yell out to the outside world but no sounds, thoughts, or words were being delivered through his body. He wanted desperately to communicate to others his emotional needs. It was at that moment that a female orderly noticed a tear roll down his cheek with his lower lip quivering.
“Can you hear me,” the orderly asked but all Melvin could hear was that relentless buzzing. But the gentle touch of her hand instantly calmed him. It was at that moment in time that his soul revealed to him that their two paths were now merging into one.
Days turned into weeks and the buzzing continued its relentless assault on his sanity. Then one day he thought he heard what sounded like a voice but it was being drowned out, silenced, by what seemed like a loud vibration of sound in his head.
What he did not realize is that his auditory nerves were causing that buzzing sensation. The lightening that struck him the year before damaged his entire central nervous system along with his auditory and optic nerves. He also had no sense of smell. He was cut off from all of his senses. There was the exception of his heightened sense of feeling through his skin. But for Melvin he felt as if his brain and mind was cut off from the rest of his body. He was unaware that his body at that very moment was slowly healing his central nerves system.
The healing seemed to be coming in stages. His sense of touch was restored to him early on and now his auditory nerves were slowly being restored. It was only a matter of time that he was able to hear the pitches and tones of voices and the other sounds emanating from the hospital corridor.
The staff was still completely unaware of Melvin’s awareness. When it came to the hospital staff that attended to his needs he was simply a comatose patient in a mindless body. They saw him as simply being unaware of his surroundings.
The hospital staff spoke openly around him. He learned their names and their personal issues from overhearing their conversations. He also learned how he was struck by lightning, pronounced dead, and miraculously bounced back to life.
He continued dealing with his bouts of frustration, “will I be in this state for the rest of my life,” he continuously wondered to himself. He was becoming more aware of his surroundings but still unable to communicate.
He learned that most of the staff that entered his room hated their job and their pay. They felt unappreciated by their employer. He felt their anger and emotional detachment from their job. They went through the motions of getting what they needed to do out of the way.
He simply wanted to die but he had nothing at his disposal to end his life. “If there is a higher power that could free me from this wretched existence,” he mentally cried out, “please do so now.” He was simply tired. He was tired of living and wanted his life to end. The days continued to turn into weeks and months and Melvin continued on living with a sense of dread and mental anguish.
“Please free me from this life,” he said once again but this time he was asking his higher power for healing. “If you can do so, I promise, I will change. I will live my life for the serves of others. I will be a much better person.”
A week went by and in Melvin’s mind there was very little change but he began to feel a painful discomfort in his eyes. A female orderly noticed that his eyes were bloodshot and tears were flowing from them. A physician did not see any dilatation of the pupils as he shined a small light in them. Eye drops were added to his medical treatment but the discomfort persisted.
His optical nerves were now beginning to heal and he became more and more hypersensitive to the light in his room. He could not make out any forms or shadows just the light itself which caused him pain.
He also began to feel the tingling of the muscles in his face. But he was still unable to control or move his muscles.
One day the same female orderly saw the twitching of his facial muscles and a physician told her that it was simply involuntary movements. Melvin at that moment tried desperately to communicate in some way but his body refused to cooperate. He was consumed with a deep despair as mental anguish once again welled up within him. He was desperately crying out inside. But his emotions and pain was unable to reach the surface of his being.
Once again he felt the gentle touch of the female orderly as she placed her hand on his arm. At that moment something inside of him knew that she was a special soul.
One morning he heard the jibber gabber of the hospital staff talking away in his room. They were talking, small talk, gossiping about so and so sleeping with so and so. It was at that moment Melvin felt the tip of his nose itch and he would have given everything he once owned to simply scratch his nose and relieve that itch.
The pain in his eyes was becoming more and more intense with each passing day. It was from the light in his room. But at the same time he could not make out any forms or even see for that matter. But the light itself was excruciatingly painful for him. He wanted desperately for his eyes to be covered by a blind fold to block out the light.
He did not understand that his optical nerves were slowly being restored. At the same time the tingling in his facial muscles were becoming more intense because his body was slowly healing itself.
His sense of smell also started coming back to him. He was now able to differentiate the various hospital personnel not just by the sound of their voice and how they touched him but by how they smell.
Weeks later as Melvin awoke from a deep sleep the female orderly saw his mouth move as if he was mouthing out a word or a name. The physician once again told her it was simply an involuntary movement.
A few days later the same female orderly watched a News program about a former comatose patient. The former patient remembered a family member reading his favorite books to him while he was in a coma. The familiar voice helped him come out of the coma.
She then realized that Melvin never had a visitor since she started working at the hospital. She wondered why, “if someone familiar read to him perhaps it would help him come out of his coma.” She mentioned the program she saw to Melvin’s Doctor the following day.
“Melvin is like in a deep sleep his mind is to far buried to hear anything,” the Doctor told her. Melvin over hearing the conversation became angry, very angry, “let her read to me you damn fool.”
She on the other hand had a gut feeling that there is much more going on inside of Melvin then was being revealed on the surface.
At the end of her shift she went into his room and read him some of the get well cards he received from his former clients. The cards were a year old. He was not aware that the cards were in his room or that his former clients came to see him when he was in his coma.
The female orderly’s kind jester lifted Melvin’s spirit that day and for the first time since his accident. He felt he had connected with another human being.
She continued to talk to him each day and she also took extra time when washing him with a warm washcloth. She told him her name is Allison and that she just started working there. Over time Melvin learned a great deal about her.
The other staff viewed Allison as bit of a flake and that she is way into her job. In their minds, she was taking to much time with the patients and that she needs to speed it up a bit.
He on the other hand enjoyed the extra attention from Allison. She was different from the other staff. She had a youthful and upbeat voice that seemed to genuinely care for him. He also liked how she smelled whenever she entered the room.
One particular afternoon at the end of her shift she read old newspaper clippings to him. The articles described in detail what happened to him and the high profile clients he represented over the years.
“I don’t know whether you can hear me or not,” she told him, “but I thought about becoming a lawyer but my family could not afford to send me to law school. I am working here during the day and hopefully I will be able to go to night school someday.” At that moment Melvin would have given her all he ever owned to fulfill her dream.
He deeply cared for her he did not have a clue what she looked like on the surface but deep inside she was a compassionate and caring person.
The woman in his past were physically attractive that is why he married them. They were simply a status symbol for him, another means of communicating his success. Those women were simply used by him to show his colleagues and clients that he was a cut above the rest.
His past relationships with women were superficial and a bit shallow. It was unfortunate though because there was a point in time when those women actually had feelings for him.
His children became casualties as well through their parents divorce proceedings. In many ways his former wives and his children became emotionally abandoned. He became more and more self absorbed in creating an image of his self importance and superiority as he moved up the social ladder. In all three of his marriages his family in many ways was pushed to the side like much of the other material things in his life. They were there as props to boost the image he created for himself.
On the other hand as an Attorney and as a professional that part of his life was well attended too. There is no doubt; he is an extraordinary lawyer especially in the courtroom. When it comes to a jury he could make ‘white’ appear ‘black’ and ‘black’ appear ‘white.’ He has extraordinary gifts as a sharp lawyer, especially, when it comes to the art of persuasion. He will leave his legal opposition scratching their head, wondering, “What the hell happened to our case?”
Allison was now having a positive affect on Melvin as she began to read to him after each of her shifts. He looked forward to her visits and her washing him each morning. She became a living bridge to the outside world.
One morning as Allison was giving Melvin a sponge bath. He spontaneously almost without thought said, “Thank you.” She heard those words as clear as day. But once again the physician described it as simply an involuntary response perhaps gasses being released through the throat. She heard what she heard though and each day she continued talking to him. If it happened once it could happen again.
The pain in his eyes only worsened and Allison began to notice that he was mouthing out words as if he was saying, “cover my eyes.” She brought the doctor in his room so that he could witness what she was seeing. The Doctor complied and went into the room in order to humor Allison. As he walked up closer to Melvin’s bed, “It is simply involuntary muscle movements.”
Allison once again placed her hand on Melvin’s arm and he once again mouthed out, “Cover my eyes.”
The Doctor then looked at him more closely and shined a small light into both his eyes. His pupils were very large and did not contract when the light was shown on them. The light caused Melvin immense pain and if he was able to. He would have belted that Doctor.
“Can you hear me?” the Doctor asked.
“Yes,” he mouthed out very slowly without the sound of his voice.
The Doctor then looked at him with a stunned look on his face, “did your eyes hurt when I shined the light in them,” he asked.
Melvin slowly mouthed out, “Yes.” But in his mind he said, “of course it hurt you damn fool.”
The Doctor ordered a large pare of sunglasses that completely surrounded Melvin’s eyes to alleviate the pain from the light.
Allison placed her hand on Melvin’s arm and once again he mouthed out, “thank you.”
Over the next six months Melvin’s body continued to heal. Through physical therapy and excruciating determination on Melvin’s part his unused muscles began to slowly cooperate with his brain. But he would become fatigued quickly from the exercises and the pain was excruciating. Allison came to visit him often during his physical therapy and the physical therapist allowed her to work with him on his physical exercises.
The pain was overwhelming for him each time the therapist worked with him. But when Allison was there he drew his strength from her. She encouraged him on with each small mile stone in his recovery. She patiently helped him and talked him through the physical exercises.
His optical nerves continued to heal as well and one day during his physical therapy he began to see Allison for the first time. Through the pain of the physical exercises he slowly began to see Allison’s form come into focus.
“You are beautiful both inside and out,” he told her. He was now able to put a face with her voice and pleasing smell.
He continues to wear his sunglasses though because the light still causes him discomfort.
It would take another three years before he could walk on his own. He must use a Cain due to dizzy spells and for his own security when standing and walking.
“You have come a long way Melvin,” Allison said to him as they slowly walked around the outside of his home.
“My experiences changed me in many ways,” he said, “but in a way I am more appreciative of who I am now because of what I experienced.” He felt comfortable with Allison and he was grateful for her being in his life. She was the first person since being released from the hospital that he truly cared about.
“What you experienced would have changed anyone,” she told him, “you must have an incredibly strong mind.”
“I wanted to die in that hospital,” he said, “but now I am grateful I went on living. I have much more of an appreciation for what I have. In the past I was full of myself and I took everything I have for granted. I overlooked the simple things, like the simple pleasures that life brings our way.”
“Like what?” she asked.
“I overlooked the natural beauty that surrounds us,” he said, “I overlooked the emotional bonds that we humans need to be fully human. I simply overlooked the people in my life. I have a much greater appreciation for people now and the human contact that is needed to be fully alive.”
“It sounds like you gained more then what you lost physically,” she told him.
“Well if it wasn’t for you I would not of comeback as far as I have,” he told her.
“You did all the work,” she said, “I was just a cheerleader on the sideline,” she said with humor in her voice.
“Thank you,” he said to her once again like many times before, “for being there for me.” She was the light in a dark tunnel during his long recovery.
He has come a long way from where he was but his body has never completely recovered. He feels his body is still healing and that he is changed for the better, especially, when it comes to his human psyche.
Since his release from the hospital he tried to heal the damaged relationship with his children and former wives. But the wall of separation was too great. He was not aware though that Allison also spoke to his children and explained to them that their father was a much different person. One afternoon she arranged a meeting and Melvin and his four children met at his home. The open communication started the healing process. Allison was now a moral and holistic companion for him. She kept him grounded towards a more fulfilling life
The lightning that struck him five years ago changed him in deed, it completely changed him. He is not the man he was before that tragic event. He found that he is still hypersensitive to the communication of others. There are times when he can still pick up peoples thoughts and emotions. He can also zero in on a person’s character traits that others can overlook. When people enter a room Melvin at times can still pick up their vibrations.
With a simple touch he found that he can gain extraordinary insights about a person. His heightened awareness can also have its draw backs though because there are times when he must retreat. He does this in order to quite himself away from his day to day activities. When around to many people for long periods of time he becomes emotionally and physically drained.
He returned to the courtroom five years after he was released from the hospital on a pro-bono case. He was representing Allison’s brother who had somewhat of a checkered past. He unlike Allison had a mean streak in him. But Allison knew her brother Greg was not the killer the District Attorney’s office was making him out to be.
Allison’s brother was at a party on the night that someone was found stabbed to death in a bathroom. Greg saw the victim, Spuggs Brandy, lying on the bathroom floor. He leaned down to see if the person was still alive. Unfortunately when he did so his palm print was left at the crime seen and with his criminal record and his past dealings with the victim. The police in a rush to solve the case arrested Greg and charged him with murder. The public defender wanted Greg to plea bargain for a lesser sentence. Allison pleaded with her brother to plead innocent and went to Melvin Spruce for help.
He immediately took the case but wondered in the back of his mind if he is physically and mentally up to defending a man charged with murder. He hasn’t stepped foot in a courtroom in five years and he tires easily. He is not physically the man he used to be five years ago.
He wasted no time though in tracking down everyone that was at that party. He put in more man hours and worked harder then he ever had on any of his previous cases. He had everyone who was at the party subpoenaed.
He instantly knew they were men of low moral character. They all had run inns with the law and each served time behind bars. But with his charm and cunning he gave each of the witnesses the impression that they were being subpoenaed as character witnesses. When they showed up at the courthouse Melvin asked the judge to have those witnesses sequestered. The ten men were separated from each other outside of the courtroom.
The prosecution on seeing the so called list of character witnesses became convinced that the lightning that struck Melvin five years earlier permanently scrambled his brain. They were sure it was a slam dunk case that would be over in a matter of days. But as each witnesses was called up to the stand Melvin said to the Judge, “Your honor I would like to approach this person as a hostile witness.”
For three weeks the Jury learned of the wheeling and dealing of Spuggs Brandy. Each witness started out telling Melvin and the Jury of Greg’s good character. Then slowly Melvin had the witnesses defending their own character as he revealed motives and opportunity for each of the witnesses to personally get rid of Spuggs Brandy.
He showed the prosecution and the Jury how the ten other people at the party had a greater motive and adequate opportunity to kill Spuggs Brandy. With his charismatic flair and sense of humor he threw the prosecution and his hostile witnesses completely off guard.
The prosecution had no recourse but to recall each witness to cross examined them. But with Melvin’s skill the prosecution's case became weaker and weaker with each passing day. Melvin simply re-questioned the same witnesses after the prosecution crossed examined them and punched wholes in the prosecution's case. The witnesses, after all, testified under oath to Greg’s good character and how he was incapable of killing Spuggs Brandy.
“As I have shown you here throughout this trial,” Melvin told the Jury in his closing argument, “Spuggs, was not a very nice man and his associates are relieved that he is no longer around.”
Melvin then walked up to the Jury box wearing the sunglasses that completely cover his eyes and as he leaned on his Cain. He said to the Jury in a low but sincere voice, “My client is no choir boy he has a criminal record but you as a Jury can see here that there are ten other individuals that testified throughout this trial. They have stronger motives and they had plenty of opportunity to kill, Spuggs Brandy, - on the night of that party. I ask that you acquit my client of these trumped up charges and find him not guilty by reasonable doubt.”
It turned out that nine out of the twelve Jurors voted to acquit Greg. It was a hung Jury but the case was never retried. The District Attorney’s office later dropped the charges against Greg due to some of the witness testimony that came out during the trial.
If it wasn’t for Allison asking Melvin for his help he would have never stepped foot in the courtroom. When he left the hospital he felt he was no longer fit to be an effective Attorney. Allison believed in his skill though and she knew of his history of being a great Attorney. He took the case pro-bono in order to return the favor for Allison’s kindness towards him.
Melvin is also helping Allison get her law degree. He is paying her college tuition and he put her up in an off campus apartment. That is the least he can do for her because, after all, it was her kind jesters that helped him along in his recovery process at the hospital.
Over the past five years since his accident with that bolt of lightening. He has become more aware of his past mistakes, especially, the mistakes he has made with his former wives and children.
He is still finding ways to reach out to them with the hope that he could develop deeper relationships, especially, with his four children. They are much more receptive to him now because the story of what happened to Melvin and his remarkable recovery has become common knowledge.
Everyone who ever knew Melvin Spruce prior to that tragic event that nearly killed him can now see a very different person. His experiences at the hospital and his long road to recovery have made him more receptive to the needs of others. He is no longer preoccupied with his grandiose opinion of himself and his money. Those same experiences have also humbled him in many ways.
He now realizes that he is not a cut above the rest. Without the compassion and caring warmth of an average human being, like Allison, his recovery process would have been much longer and much more arduous. He is now much more receptive not only to the needs of others but to the important people in his life.
He is also taking on more pro-bono cases to help those he truly believes are innocent. With the hope that after Allison passes her bar-exam. She will work with him on pro-bono cases as well and in assisting him in starting their own law firm.
His mental attitude is much more positive then it was prior to being struck by lightning. There are still however those physical complications that have slowed him down a bit. He finds that he doesn’t have that same energy and vigor he once had. He still has problems with his eyes. He must walk with a Cain. That buzzing sensation from his damaged auditory nerves returns at times as well.
Over all, though he still knows he has been changed for the better. What he has gained in life is a greater appreciation of being alive. There is no doubt that his long road to recovery has humbled him in many ways. It has also made him more effective not only as an attorney but as a human being.
On July 16, 2007 Allison and Melvin exchanged wedding vows. Melvin is now finding a balance between his professional life and his life as a ‘husband.’ Allison who is pregnant with their first child is also studying for her bar-exam. They are a happy couple and Melvin is filled with the hope that he will be a much better ‘father.’
Thomas F. O’Neill
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found at the links below.
|Sunday, December 16th, 2007|
|When Love Came To Call
This story is dedicated to a very dear friend of mine, Mr. Henry Zale. He will only be ninety-one years young this upcoming month. His kind and encouraging words of wisdom have inspired this writer to keep on writing.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *When Love Came To Call
by Thomas F. O'Neill
The Yuletide Season is not a time for a common courtesy, to receive and provide family, friends, and neighbors, with material gifts. This special season is for heart felt acts of gratitude for having people in our lives. When keeping the true spirit of giving close to heart. We find that it enables us to give from the heart all year round.
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Our life’s path is paved by the choices we make and whether those choices are good or bad - we must live with them. Harry Brooks has made many choices throughout his life and he is now haunted by the decisions he has made.
He would be the first to admit that he never put others before his own self absorbed wants. He was selfish when it came to the needs of others and it is reflected in how he turned out in life. He was not entirely to blame though because as he put it, “I didn’t have that picture perfect upbringing.”
There is no doubt that he was abused as a child, physically, emotionally, and psychologically by his abusive father. Harry’s life decisions were somewhat obscured by his emotional pain. He was unwilling or incapable of getting over his emotional hurdles. The emotional turmoil within not only affected his life but the lives of those around him.
He married young and not having a high school diploma made finding a decent paying job virtually impossible. Five years into his marriage he gave up and he abandoned his wife and five year old daughter. His wife was forced to raise their daughter on her own and she struggled to make ends meet.
They say time heals all wounds but the abandonment psychologically affected Harry’s former wife, Aggie, and their daughter, Alicia. They never completely recovered and over the next thirty years they didn’t hear from him. As far as they were concerned he was dead and out of their lives completely.
As for Harry he spent those thirty years finding his solace in a booze bottle.
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The years of drinking had its toll on Harry and he now lay dieing from cirrhosis of the liver. The hospital staff sees Harry as a downright mean and nasty patient. He constantly belittles the Nurses, and to their dismay he throws his bedpan.
They despise entering his room because of his rants and fowl language. The only reason they continue caring for him as one Nurse put it, “he is on deaths doorstep and soon a higher authority will take over.”
One morning Harry Brooks sat in the hospital corridor in a wheelchair waiting to have further tests done. A little boy was wheeled up next to him.
“Are you sick too, Mister?” the little boy asked him.
“No I come here every morning for tea and biscuits,” Harry said sarcastically.
“I don’t like tea,” the little boy said, “what kind of biscuits do they have?”
“All sorts,” he said, “they leave them out for weeks and weeks and when they get all moldy and discolored they give them to little kids to eat.”
“Well, that’s OK Mister, my mommy brings me cookies. I will save some for you,” the little boy said, “she makes them for Christmas every year.”
“Don’t bother kid not in the Christmas spirit,” he said in a grumpy voice.
“If I get well enough I will be home for Christmas,” the little boy said, “If I can’t be home Santa will stop by here.”
“Hate to break it ta ya kid but it’s been all over the news Santa doesn’t exist,” said Harry.
A nurse overhearing the conversation stopped what she was doing and stared at Harry in disbelief. She was shocked that such a person could be so mean.
“That’s just a rumor that was started by the Grinch,” the little boy said, “he’s a mean one that Mr. Grinch.”
Harry was not a person to take the Holliday spirit to heart. He never cared for Christmas. One reason in particular the Bars close down on Christmas day. Harry is then forced to drink his blues away alone.
“My Nana said that rumor has been going around for years,” the little boy said. He then looked at Harry as if he felt sorry for the grumpy old man. In many ways the old man reminded the little boy of that other anti-Christmas character that lost his Christmas spirit – the Grinch.
“How can someone not believe in that jolly old soul,” a Nurse said to the little boy, “he’s known by so many names,” she continued on with a smile, “such as – ‘old Saint Nick,’ ‘Chris Kringle,’ and the most popular of all, ‘Santa.’”
“I know,” the little boy said, “some people are just dopes when it comes to rumors.”
That evening as Harry slept he was awakened from his sleep by the little boy. The boy was determined to help Harry out; after all he knew first hand that there’s a Santa. The jolly old soul after all has been leaving presents under his Christmas tree every year.
“Hey Mister,” the little boy said, “I want you to see something on TV.”
The little boy turned the TV on, a Christmas movie appeared on screen, with the Grinch as its main character, “see he’s the one who started those rumors about there not being a Santa. He’s just downright mean.”
“Not as mean as I’m going to be,” he yelled, “if you don’t turn that TV off and get out of my room!!!!!!!”
“Are you mad because you’re not going to be home for Christmas,” the little boy asked.
“No, I don’t celebrate Christmas,” came the angry reply.
“Why?” the boy asked.
“Because I don’t,” said Harry with anger in his voice.
“I will ask my Mommy to bring you some cookies.”
“Ask her to bring me a bottle of scotch while you’re at it,” Harry said sarcastically, “now go watch the green guy in your own room and leave me the hell alone!!!!!!!” he yelled.
A Nurse’s mouth dropped when she heard what Harry said to that cute little boy, “he is the foulest, nastiest, grungiest, and downright meanest person that ever stepped foot into this hospital,” the Nurse said to her coworker.
“I have big dog, he’s a Rottwhiller,” her coworker replied, “and let me tell you, my dog is a pussycat compared to that patient.”
The next day still determined to convert Harry into believing in the season of giving, “Hey Mister,” said the little boy waking Harry up from a deep sleep, “I brought you some cookies my mommy made them.”
“What,” said Harry in a confused voice, “oh that is awfully nice of you,” he said to the boy in a perturbed manner.
“My Nana helped me write Santa a letter letting him know you are here,” the boy said, “my mommy said he comes by the hospital to visit the sick on Christmas. My Mommy and my Nana will be back later. I will introduce you to them.”
“Look kid that is not necessary!!!!!!!” he yelled.
The following day, “Hey Mister,” the boy said waking Harry, “I brought a picture I want you to see.” He handed him the picture of Christmas past. “That’s me last year with my Mommy and my Nana. We put that Christmas tree up. You see those boxes with the shiny paper; those are presents that Santa left me.”
“This kid is destined to be an evangelical Minister,” Harry thought to himself. He was now sorry he ever mentioned to the kid about Santa’s nonexistence.
“Well that was certainly worth waking me up over,” Harry said, sarcastically. He then took a closer look at the photo, “that woman is your Nana?” he asked pointing to the little boy’s grandmother in the picture.
“Yep” the boy said, “and that is my Mommy, “pointing to the other woman in the photo.
“Thirty years,” Harry said to himself, he recognized immediately the lives he left behind. He then became visibly uncomfortable, “look kid,” he said, “that is a nice Christmas picture but I need to be alone” for the first time in many years Harry’s past was racing in on him and it was about to collide with the here and now.
He began to see the little boy as some sort of living bridge linking Harry’s past with the present moment. The sarcasm and cheap shots drained from him he was at a loss for words.
He didn’t want to dredge up the family’s history so he never mentioned that he was the boy’s Grandfather – the person who abandoned the boy’s Mother and Nana many years ago.
Each day the boy came to see Harry and the meetings slowly began to change him. It was a long time that a child entered his life, thirty years to long. The boy in someway was now having a positive affect on that grumpy old fool.
“I hope he is not bothering you,” said Harry’s daughter Alicia as she walked into his room.
“That is my Mommy,” said the little Boy.
The boy then turned to his mother, “I gave him some of your cookies,” he said.
“I didn’t get your son’s name,” Harry said to her.
“He’s name is Harvey, and my name is Alicia.”
“My name is Harry,” he said, “so how old are you Harvey?”
“Five,” came the reply.
“She is all grown up now and a Mother,” he thought to himself, “she was the same age as her son is now when I saw her last.” He was relieved in a way that she didn’t recognize him.
He could not bear to tell her who he was in her past. He let her talk and he listened. He learned that she is going through a rough divorce. When Harvey got sick it put a strain on her marriage. Her husband eventually left her for another woman. It was then that Alicia’s Mother moved in with her to help them get through the rough times.
“My son has a rare form of cancer,” she told him, “he needs bone marrow in order to live but they are unable to find a suitable donor that can match his type.”
“I need a new liver,” Harry said, “I am on a transplant list.”
Their meeting was unexpected and it jolted Harry in many ways. He was glade to see her but the guilt of what he did so many years ago consumed him. He did not want to open up his past so he decided not to reveal it.
He simply absorbed the present moment with his daughter and grandson. The circumstances’ surrounding their meeting is beyond his comprehension. He believes there is a reason for their coming together. What that reason might be is beyond his understanding.
His grandson continued to visit him everyday and he began to look forward to the boy’s visits. The nursing staff slowly began to see changes in Harry. His rants were less frequent and he stopped throwing his bedpan. At times he even appeared to take on more human like qualities.
His daughter soon realized that there is something unusual about Harry’s relationship with her son. One evening, out of curiosity, she went to Harry’s room to talk to him and to get to know him better.
“You are a very kind person,” she said to him, “my son has taken such a liking to you.”
“I like your son as well,” he said.
“You are a nice man,” she told him.
“No, I’m not,” he replied, “I did many mean and selfish things in the past, unforgivable things.”
“We have all done things that we regret,” she said, “you need to forgive yourself.”
“I caused others too much pain,” he said to her.
“Well, you know what you did in the past, and you know what kind of person you were,” she told him, “what you are now is what’s most important.”
“I was selfish and mean,” he repeated.
“I don’t know what kind of person you were,” she said, “but I see a good person. You are not a mean person, now.” She saw the pain in his eyes and her heart went out to him.
“I would do anything to change the choices I have made,” he said, “All those bad choices.”
“Accept yourself for what you are now,” she said, “don’t dwell on the past. You have to forgive yourself first before others can forgive you. You have to take the time in finding ways to mend yourself. Then you will be able to reach out to those you hurt.”
“I abandoned my family and I hurt them,” he said as if he could not bear to look at his daughter.
“We all made bad choices at one time or another,” she said but Harry’s words hit home. She did her best though to put aside her own emotional pain and anger from being abandoned as a child - by her father.
“What I did is unforgivable,” he said.
“We find ways to live with the bad choices,” she told him, “life is full of choices and those choices are part of who we are as human beings. You mustn’t dwell on your bad decisions, pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and move on.”
“I can’t change what I am or what I did,” he said, “that is what I am being forced to live with each and everyday.”
“You have to move on,” she said once again, “your greatest opportunities are within you not in your past.”
“You did alright for yourself,” he said, “and you have a good head on your shoulders.”
“My Mother struggled raising me,” she told him, “it wasn’t easy. My father left when I was five years old and we never seen him or heard from him.”
“Are you angry with him,” he asked.
“Of course I am,” she said, “I would like to know why he left and why he never tried to contact us. For years I thought it was something I did or there was something wrong with me. It took a long time to get over it and it still affects my relationships with men.”
“I have done the same thing,” he told her, “I left my family and there isn’t a day that goes by that I wish I could change that bad decision in my life.”
“Well, you don’t know how much longer you are going to be around,” she replied, “I would try and mend whatever is broken before it is too late.”
“Too much time has past,” he said.
“You are not the man you make yourself out to be in your mind,” she told him; she could see how guilt was consuming him and the only words she could muster up to ease him in someway, “you need to forgive yourself,” she told him once again with a soft sincerity in her voice. “You are inhibiting yourself from finding peace in your own mind.”
“What would you say to your father if he showed up in your life?” Harry asked.
“If he was in the room here with me?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said, “if you were given the opportunity to talk to him……..”
“I would want to know why he left,” she said, “it would be hard at first but I would want to let him know how I feel, about the anger I feel. I would want to know what he did all those years. I would tell him how he hurt my Mother and what she went through.”
“Can you forgive someone like that?” he asked.
“I have gotten over it,” she told him, “if I felt he was truly seeking forgiveness I would forgive him.”
“Would you let him back into your life?” he asked.
“I suppose I could do that,” she said, “but these are all hypotheticales. You need to take positive control of your situation and mend the relationships in your life.”
The next day Harry met with his grandson’s physician and they talked in Harry’s hospital room.
“Well, first we will have to see if you are a match,” the doctor said, “do they know?”
“They don’t know anything and promise me you will not tell them,” Harry said.
“Your health is weak,” the doctor told him, “your immune system is weak due to your failing liver. If you give up some of your bone marrow it will weaken you even more. It could shorten the time you already have waiting for a healthy liver.”
“My whole life I thought of no one but myself,” Harry said, “I made all the wrong choices. I want to make the right decision for a change. I want to make a positive choice for my grandson. When I die I want to know that I did something positive for someone.”
A few days later Harry gave up some of his bone marrow.
“Hey, Harry,” said his grandson waking him from a deep sleep, “my mommy said they found some bones for me.”
“Bone marrow it’s called,” Harry said in a frail voice, “it will make you better.”
“When will they make you better,” the boy asked.
“When they find me a liver,” he said in a low weak voice.Dear, Santa
My mommy helped me with this letter because I am only five years old. I hope you get this letter in time because my friend Harry really needs your help. He needs a new Liver for Christmas so he could get better.
I love you Santa,
A few days after his grandson was operated on Alicia visited Harry. She brought her mother along. As Harry slept his former wife recognized him immediately she became visibly irate.
“I hope he suffers,” Alicia’s Mother said with anger in her voice. Harry was asleep unaware that they were in his room.
“What is it Mom?” Alicia asked her.
“That is your Father,” she said to her daughter.
Alicia looked at Harry she was surprised but not entirely surprised. The conversation she had with him days before eased her transition from their past to the present moment, “I can’t hate him, Mom,” she said, “he’s not the person you hate. I spoke to him, he is truly remorseful for what he did to us and he is a good person.”
“A good person doesn’t abandon their family,” her Mother said, “he is a selfish, selfish, man.”
“He’s changed and I forgive him,” Alicia said.
The Bone Marrow transplant was successful and Harvey slowly began to recover. Two more weeks went by and Harry was running out of time. He was growing weaker with each passing day.
Alicia came to visit Harry once again before taking her son home for Christmas.
“Thank you,” she said
“For what,” he asked
“For what you did for Harvey,” she told him, “I put two and two together and I figured it out. I know you gave Harvey your bone marrow. I also know you’re my father.”
“Does your Mother know?” he asked her.
“She’s the one who told me that you’re my father,” she said, “and of course she is angry and that is why she’s not here.”
“She has every reason to be angry,” he said.
“I will talk to her some more,” she said to him, “I was given permission to bring Harvey home for Christmas. I have to bring him back though before the New Year.”
His former wife, Aggie, came to see him later that afternoon. She was alone and Harry saw her hesitate before entering his room.
“Hello,” Harry said.
“Thirty years, is a long time,” she said in an angry voice.
“Yes it is,” he thought to himself. At that moment, he was at a loss for words. He just didn’t know what to say or do. He looked at her as the emotion moved through him like a large ocean wave.
“I understand if you never forgive me,” he said as he broke down and wept, “what I have done to you and Alicia is unforgivable.”
“We went on with our lives, Harry,” she said, “it’s not a matter of forgiveness. I am angry that you showed up after so many years.”
“My coming back into your lives was not planed,” he said, “I believe it was meant to be.”
“We moved on with our lives,” she said once again, “you are no longer part of the picture. I am still angry, Harry, for marrying someone as selfish as you.”
“I am selfish in many ways,” he said.
“You can go on being selfish, Harry,” she told him, “it makes no difference to me because you are not part of our lives anymore.”
“I understand,” he said.
“Do you Harry?” she asked him, “do you really understand what you did to us?”
“I know I hurt you,” he said, “I know I hurt our daughter.”
“Alicia said you are not the same person,” she told him with anger in her voice, “but I don’t care one way or the other.”
She became visibly upset and with a clenched fist she said, “you giving Harvey your bone marrow was a kind jester. Now you can die in peace. As far as I’m concerned you died a long time ago.”
“You have every right to be angry,” he said, “what I did is unforgivable,” he said once again as the tears flowed down his face.
“Why did you do it, Harry?” she asked him while desperately trying to contain her emotions, “why did you abandon us on Christmas?”
“I was young and immature and I was unable to support my family,” he said as the tears continued to flow, “I had no money. I had nothing to give, Alicia, on Christmas morning. I had nothing to give you. I gave up, I just gave up,” he repeated, “and then I started drinking. Now my liver is destroyed. I drank my life away.”
“You left because you couldn’t afford Christmas presents,” she said in an angry condescending voice, “we needed you Harry not presents. While you drank, I raised our daughter,” she said, “she still has problems, Harry, she is going through a divorce because of issues that stem from you abandoning her.”
“I can’t change the past, and I know the choices I made were bad choices,” he said, “I have to live with that for the rest of my life. But I can start making the right choices now with the little time I have.”
“Harry, take the time to asses your life and come to an understanding of the damage you caused,” she told him.
“I don’t think us being here now is by sheer happenstance,” he said, “I think it is for a reason that is beyond our comprehension.”
“Well you made the right choice for Harvey,” she said, “Alicia and Harvey are grateful for what you did,” she then took one last look at him before leaving the room, “I said what I had to say to you, take care Harry.”
“Thank you for coming to see me,” he said as his world crashed in on him.
“Have a good Christmas, Harry,” she said as she left.
Harvey looked at the sparkling crystal angel on top of their Christmas tree,
“I hope Santa got my letter,” he said to his Mother on Christmas Eve.
“I am certain he got your letter,” his Mother said to him.
“I want Harry to get better,” Harvey said as he was helping his mother make eggnog for Christmas Day.
“He looks so sad being sick,” Harvey told his Nana as she was taking fresh baked cookies out of the oven, “he needs Christmas to make him happy.”
“You think?” his Mother asked him, “that Christmas will make him happy.”
“Let’s bring him Christmas, Mommy.”
On Christmas Day as Harry slept he was awakened by his Grandson.
“Merry Christmas, Harry,” his grandson said. Harry slowly opened his eyes he then noticed a Christmas tree in his room.
“Merry Christmas,” Alicia said to him.
“This was Alicia and Harvey’s idea,” Aggie, said, “they didn’t want you spending Christmas here alone.”
“Merry Christmas, Aggie,” he said in a surprised voice.
“Yea well Merry Christmas to you too,” Aggie said.
“Well thank you,” he said, “but I didn’t get you guys anything.”
“Well you being here with us is enough,” said Alicia.
“We put that tree up, and you never woke up, not once, the whole time,” said Harvey.
“Thank you for bringing Christmas here,” Harry said to them.
“We brought you some eggnog, and cookies,” Harvey said, “I helped my Mommy make the eggnog and cookies.”
A Nurse came into the room as Harry was sharing the eggnog with his long overdo family reunion. Harry for the first time in thirty years felt better. The cloud of doom lifted from him and the weight of his emotional pain lessened. He felt exhilarated as the holiday spirit moved him closer to his reunited family.
“Merry Christmas,” he said to the Nurse in a jubilant voice. He slowly got out of his bed and poured the Nurse a glass of eggnog and handed her some cookies. “Merry Christmas,” he said once again giving her a big hug.
The Nurse stared at Harry in disbelief, she then looked at the Christmas tree, the two large jugs of eggnog, the large bowl filled with cookies, the people in the room, and then back at Harry.
“Merry Christmas, Mr. Brooks,” the Nurse replied she appeared before Harry like a deer trapped by the headlights of an oncoming vehicle.
“Quick,” Harry said to the Nurse excitedly, “get some more glasses for the eggnog. There’s plenty of eggnog, and plenty of cookies,” he said jubilantly, he was unable to contain himself from laughing.
When the Nurse retuned with plastic cups, “get the other staff in here,” he said excitedly.
The Nurse just looked at Harry wondering to herself what medical condition could cause such a laughing binge, “perhaps the Doctor changed his medication and this is just some unforeseen side effect,” she thought to herself.
No medication though was behind Harry’s transformation. In that single moment in time, Harry freed the joy that was imprisoned, locked away, deep down inside of him. Now after many, many, years Harry has allowed himself to be happy.
With a large smile he told the Nurse with the utmost exhilaration, “this will be my way of sharing Christmas with the hospital staff.”
“Your way of sharing Christmas with us, Mr. Brooks,” she said in a shocked voice.
One of the Nurses forgot what she went into his room for as she drank some of the eggnog with the other staff. Some came by just out of curiosity to see the changed Harry.
“I wonder what changes his Doctor made with his meds,” a Nurse said to her coworker.
“Merry Christmas,” Harry said to the two nurses while laughing and giving them big hugs.
Two other Nurses mumbled, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Brooks,” while taking a couple steps back as he approached them with a warm embrace. Such a reaction from those two Nurses could only be expected. After all it wasn’t that long ago that Harry threw his bedpan at them.
Harvey’s eyes and face lit up when he saw the large burly man in the red suit. Old Saint Nick walked down the Hospital Corridor. He walked past Harry’s room and continued towards the pediatric unite.
“Hey, Santa,” Harvey yelled, “did you get my letter?”
Santa turned with a twinkle in his eye, “yep” he said, “sure did.”
Harvey walked up to him, “my friend is really sick, Santa,” the boy said, “he could really use your help.”
Santa picked Harvey up and sat him down on the Nurses station counter. Santa looked him straight in the eye. Harvey saw love emanating from those eyes and with a special warm glow Santa asked, “do you know why Christmas is so special?”
“Why?” came the reply.
“Christmas is a time when Love comes to call,” he said, “your letter called out to me, Harvey. It was a special letter; do you know why it was special?”
“Why?” the boy asked in a soft whisper.
“It was special because you didn’t ask me for something you want,” and with that special sparkle in his eyes Santa said, “you asked me for something your friend needs.”
“My Mommy helped me write that letter,” Harvey said, “I always knew you were real,” he continued on with a big smile on his face.
“Your friend’s gift is in the works as we speak,” old Saint Nick told him as he lifted Harvey and placed him back down at the Nurses station, “always remember, Harvey, and tell your friend Harry, Christmas, is when love came to call
“Excuse me,” said the Nurse tapping the jolly old soul on the shoulder, “how did you know that little boys name.”
“His Santa,” said Harvey.
“I’m Santa,” said Santa.
“It comes with the territory,” Harvey told the Nurse laughing.
Santa winked at the boy and immediately Harvey’s face lit up with a big smile. Old Saint Nick then turned and walked towards Harry’s room. The jolly old soul then placed his finger on his nose as he continued on his way. Harvey excitedly turned and said, “thank you Santa,” but Santa was gone, “I knew he was real,” the boy said, “I just knew it the whole time.”
“Where did he go,” the Nurse asked Harvey, “he was here a second ago. I was going to give him a glass of eggnog.”
“Who was here a second ago?” asked Alicia.
“Santa,” said Harvey
“If I didn’t know any better I would say he was the real McCoy,” the Nurse said to Alicia, “he even knew your son’s name and about the letter he wrote.”
“I’m glade he came to see me. He liked the letter you helped me write,” Harvey said to his mother.
“I wonder who that could have been,” Alicia thought to herself, “I didn’t tell anyone about the letter.”
Alicia then turned to her mother. Her mother shrugged her shoulders to let her daughter know that she had nothing to do with Santa’s visit.
“I’m glade he stopped by to see Harvey,” said Harry
“Were you behind Santa's visit?” Alicia whispered to Harry.
“No” he said, “it’s been a long time since I wrote him, seen his helpers from time to time, but never met the real Santa.”
They spent the rest of Christmas day together and Harry thanked the higher power for showing its mercy and compassion in allowing him that moment of happiness with his family. “Thank you, for such a wonderful Christmas,” he said to them.
A few days later Harry’s name mysteriously moved to the top of the transplant donor list. He received what he was waiting for a new liver. He was truly grateful for getting a second chance at life and a second chance to make positive choices.
“You see there is a Santa,” Harvey said to Harry, “and you are going to get better now.”
“Thank you for writing the big guy,” Harry told his grandson, “and I will never listen to those stupid rumors ever again.”
“Santa told me to tell you, Christmas, is when love came to call
“Well I’m glade it came,” Harry said, “and I will always try and keep that love close to my heart.”
His former wife, Aggie, has accepted that Harry is now a permanent fixture in their lives. He is a permanent fixture because he wants to make a positive impact, not only in his life, but in his family’s lives. He knows he can’t erase the past but he can begin to take positive control of the life he is now living.
His life is now being lived the way it should be lived one day at a time but most importantly. He hasn’t had a drink of alcohol since receiving his new liver.
The following year on Christmas Day as Harry shared Dinner with his Family, “You have mellowed with age, Harry,” said Aggie.
“My life was never picture perfect
,” he said to them, “but the choices I make now can develop into happier moments and fonder memories for all of us
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It is never too late to change for the better and to make right whatever is wrong with our lives. Harry Brooks is a living example of how dire choices are not necessarily the ‘end all’ to our happiness. We have the power to pull ourselves together and correct our mistakes.
It was mostly out of fear and Harry’s inability to seek forgiveness that inhibited him from moving forward and taking control of his life. He has gained a better understanding though from those experiences.
What he gained is a deeper understanding of the importance of forgiveness. He can see more clearly now that he had to forgive himself first before he was able to find forgiveness from others.
Forgiving hearts enabled him to mend the broken person he was inside and his broken relationships. He in turn found the strength in his own heart to reach out to those he loves.
How they all came together that Christmas season is still beyond Harry’s comprehension. But he is grateful that those events took place because he has been given a second chance to live his life for the better.
He has also gained a much deeper appreciation for his family by putting their needs before his superficial wants. After all it was his selfishness in the past that did him in but he has learned from those mistakes.
Harry Brooks grandson is now a sophomore in college and Harry’s former wife is remarried. She is married to a restaurant owner and she is currently helping her husband with his business.
Harry is now living with his daughter and she tells people quite often. “Our lives came together after a thirty year hiatus. We came together during the Christmas Season and ever since then Harry has honored Christmas with his Family.”
Harry on the other hand tells people,
“There was a time when I felt the Christmas season was simply a common courtesy to receive and provide family, friends, and neighbors with material gifts. I now understand more clearly that the Season of giving is for heart felt acts of gratitude for having people in our lives. When keeping the true spirit of giving close to heart. We find that it enables us to give from the heart all year round. The Christmas season is when love came to call and that love gives Christmas its true meaning
Thomas F. O’Neill
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found at the links below.