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You can read chapter 1 here, if you missed it.

Chapter 2

Ron leaned back in his chair and slid away from the computer screen. He reached over and grabbed his cigarettes. For a second he considered tossing them behind him. (This is not the best time to quit) he thought. Upon lighting the cigarette and depositing the lighter back to its place, he noticed his face reflected in the computer screen.

People always told him he did not look nearly his age but to him, right now in this lighting and this screen reflection he thought, (they either needed glasses or were extremely kind to him). Time had not done him any great favors. He had white hair, although he still had most of it. He had his fair share of wrinkles, he supposed, mostly around his eyes and mouth. His eyes were blue but that was hard to see in the screen. They looked like black holes staring out of it, in this lighting, (kind of creepy) he thought. No facial hair, never was one much into that hippie look. He supposed he did not look too bad for 63. (Not entirely unpleasant) a small laugh escaped from his lips at that thought, although he was not sure exactly which part of that thought was amusing. Perhaps it was the secondary thought that had followed it. The one that was quieter but almost always sarcastic. The one that said “not entirely pleasant either.” Yeah, he supposed it was probably that one that created the tiny laugh.

Ron’s eyes slid away from the computer screen and darted around the room taking in little bits and pieces of his now current reality. In doing so, he realized that there was really nothing special or unique about this room. It was the standard motel fare. Queen sized bed with a plain generic blanket atop it, still messed from last night’s sleep. The mirror with the small table below it attached to the wall. Next to it, also attached to the wall, a standard 19” TV that had a lot of stations with nothing really on them. The alcove area for the sink and hanger area. A few cups, still in their plastic, sat next to the sink, along with some small hand towels. A small shelf with some larger towels attached to the wall above the sink. A doorway leading off to the toilet and shower area. And finally, the standard, made of fake wood, table and chairs at which he sat and so did his laptop.

He remembered when his grandson had given that laptop to him. How it had seemed too alien. So foreign, so strange to hold in his hands. Sure he had seen pictures of laptops in the newspaper ads that came in the mail, but pictures are not the same as actually holding something. He remembered how he had objected to the gift at first, saying it was too much, too expensive. How his grandson talked him into keeping it, telling him that now that he was retired he needed things to do to keep his mind sharp. Telling him how it would make it possible for them to keep in touch across the distances which they both lived. Telling him those and many other things which he could not remember now.

When he had objected to it being a laptop instead of a desktop, his grandson had opened the computer and had shown him how he could change the size of text if it was hard to read. He explained to him how he could move to any room in the house and it would still work, how he would not have to sit at a desk all day and that would better for his back. He told him about how he would be only an e-mail away if he had questions. He even set up an e-mail account and showed him how to use it. Yes indeed, his grandson could be rather persuasive and persistent when he wanted to be. He supposed it was why he was so good at his job as a salesman. He could probably sell ice cubes to a polar bear.

Now, sitting in this motel room reflecting upon that day, he was glad his grandson had talked him into keeping it. He was glad he had bought him a laptop instead of a desktop. He was pretty sure he could not do properly what must be done now without it. (Funny how fate, and sometimes people, know what is best for you) he thought.

Gently, almost wisp-like, his mind moves from the past back into the present. He begins to ponder how he got where he is now and what he has to do. He recalls that one day everything was same old, same old. He got up, had his coffee, smoked his cigarettes, turned on his computer and spent most of his day doing basically the same thing he does most everyday. Check his email, play some cards online, chat with the few online friends he had made. Go to Facebook and read what people are doing and perhaps add a comment or two. Read some news on various websites and, if lucky, find some new websites to explore with his stumble upon add-on.

His wife never bothered him during this time. The mornings were a time for themselves and both of them did their own things. She tended her garden and flowers in the mornings. He played with his toy. Her words, not his, and she always said it in such a playful way that it never annoyed him.

He had come to love his new toy and it had become his entire morning. He really could not be blamed though. There was so much to learn and he was a fast learner. Even at 63, he still learned new things faster than most people do. Oh, he knew he was no Einstein or anything, but he certainly was not dumb either. He had completed high school. High school back in the days when you had to actually learn, to pass a class, to get to another grade. Not like now, when they just pass you on to get you out of the system.

Nope he was not dumb at all but he had no earthly idea why they had come back.

The rest of the day had been normal too. At noon, they had both sat down to a simple lunch of sandwiches and chips. Then they had gotten dressed and went to visit neighbors and friends. They even had a little time to do some window shopping and drop off a box to the Salvation Army on the way home. Once they had returned home, he had parked himself in front of the TV to watch the news while she had made spaghetti for supper. They ate in front of the TV on trays and watched their favorite shows that were recorded from the previous evening. Just normal and typical as far as he could recall.

Yet, something, somehow must have been different because they had come back. Not only had they come back, they had come back with a vengeance. Seeking to once again destroy his mind and soul. To rend him into tiny pieces and spit him out like some no longer wanted papers from a shredder.

Nearly three hours after he and his wife retired to bed for the night. Her in his arms as usual, he awoke with a hard jerk, forcing him to sit up straight in the bed. Eyes flared wide open, searching the room, not for real intruders or anything of that nature. Searching the room for the demons that had been chasing him in his nightmare. After a few moments of his eyes darting back and forth across the room, he resigned himself to the fact that they had not followed him. The only things in the room were things that were supposed to be there. His wife, sleeping next to him, turned away in a fetal position and himself, dripping with sweat, hoping he would not wake up again to search the darkness.

Luckily, that small prayer had been answered and the rest of the night he slept. However, the following day he could not shake it from his mind. He thought that those nightmares had left him. It had been nearly 25 years since he had had the last one. Around the same time he had married his lovely and loving wife, Sue. He had convinced himself that it was his marriage to her that stopped them. Now he had to reconsider that idea.

He tried to do that same old routine he did every day. He drank his coffee, smoked his cigarettes and surfed the internet but, try as he might, he could not completely shut it out of his mind. It was not so much the nightmare itself that preoccupied him though, it was the why? Why had he experienced another nightmare after 25 years without them? What had he done differently that might have triggered it? But the more he thought about it, it seemed like the less he really understood. Kind of like when you know the answer to a question, it is right there on the tip of your tongue, but the more you search for it, the further it seems to get away from you. Try as he might, he could not figure it out and it remained a distraction all day long.

As they headed upstairs to retire for the evening, his head began to spin and his eyesight blurred a little. He felt hot and started to sweat a little. He knew it was not because of his health. He was as “healthy as a horse” is what his doctor had told him at his check up last month. A part of his nightmare flashed before his eyes; a man on fire, running toward him, eyes ablaze and focused on him. Then the vision was gone as quickly as it came. He realized then that he must be having some sort of anxiety attack. That must be it. It was not even long enough to make his heart increase in pace. Barely long enough to make him pause on the stairs for more than a second or two. But it was vivid and as real as they get, he supposed. Now he really hoped he would not have another nightmare. Those nightmares could be dangerous to his health and well being.

Unfortunately, this prayer was not answered. He did indeed wake up in the night with a nightmare. In fact, from then on, it was an every night occurrence.

4

After about two weeks of the continuous haranguing of nightmares, he finally gave in to the fact that action had to be taken. Drastic and irrevocable action needed to happen. He woke up and packed his bags. He had decided on a plan of action. He did not like the plan but also knew there really was no other choice. His wife came into the bedroom while he packed and inquired into his actions. He said simply, “There is something I must do, you have to trust me.”

Before replying, it seemed that she mulled over what he had said. It was one of the things he loved about her, her intelligence. She did not speak just to hear her own voice as a lot of women seem to do. Sue was quiet and thoughtful in her ways and when she spoke you knew that it had been carefully thought out. “You are not going to leave me, are you?” Sue said. He thought about his reply, he did not want to give away too much about what he was going to do but did want to reassure her. “Only temporarily, I suppose, unless you decide to make it permanent.” Ron stated as calmly as he could. She seemed to consider this response for awhile and then replied, ”Go do what you must do and come back to me, I trust you.” Ron hoped that he had hid the pain he felt acutely upon hearing those last words from her, “I trust you.” He quickly gave her a kiss, finished packing, and left without another word.

As he slid into the driver’s seat of his truck, briefly he considered not following through with his plan, then remembered the nightmares and turned the ignition key.

His mind once again slipped back to the present and he stared at the laptop and the words displayed on it. He thought about what he had typed thus far and the way he had typed it. He knew before he had even started to type that he wanted it to be clear and precise, not to hide anything. Nothing hidden by flowery words and clever passages. No room for the lies to hide. No arrogance or ego or vanity to get in the way of telling the truth, the whole truth. It must be laid bare and naked. Plain and simple. It must be typed in a way which seems to be as if he were speaking directly to someone.

Whether it was instinct that told him this or something more supernatural, he was not sure. But he knew it seemed right and was probably the best chance he had for being understood completely. He knew that if there were any misunderstandings in his words, that the end result could easily turn out wrong, very wrong.

He stood up and walked slowly around the room. Not really seeing what was around him anymore merely because he was deep in thought. Trying to decide what was next, trying to decide how to say it, trying to decide where to start the next part of what had to be said. Knowing deep down inside that it had to be typed, had to be made known or he would probably go insane from the nightmares.

5

Having made up his mind, Ron sat down in front of the laptop and once again his fingers began to move across the keyboard . . .

I am back now. Had to take me a breaky-breaky. My hands started getting crampy. People say when you get old, two things go first. What those things are seems to be debatable and there certainly are lots of jokes about it. But I would like to point sumtin’ else out that they never talk about. That is the fact that once those two things go, whatever they might be, EVERYTHING else goes. Seems like the rest of the body says, ”Hey, you leaving? Wait up for me!” Alright, alright don’t hit me or anything. I know I meandered a little there so let’s get back to it, k? Where was I? See, told ya!

I remember I told you all about truth, lies, and vanity. I told ya about how vanity controls the flow and creation of both truth and lies. I even told ya a little ‘bout how them government folks have learned to use it to get us to do their killing. I don’t think I nearly ‘splained enough about that part of it though and you are gonna need to know this ‘cause a lot of them little moments of truth I am gonna share will be made much more clearer.

Them government peoples got a real handle on this vanity thing. They know not only how to use it to convince the masses that going to this country or that country killing people, is a good thing. They convince us it is a great thing. One good example of just how good some of them are at doing it was that Adolf Hitler feller. Yeah, I knows me a little bit ‘bout that history, too. I ain’t nearly as stupid as I sound sometimes. Anyway, that Adolf fella, he had his people willing to go and kill anyone for him, anywhere. He had puffed up their pride and told them they needed more room to live and that they deserved more room to live. Heck, if that more living room he required was in heaven, he could have easily convinced them to storm heaven and take it from Jesus.

But getting the masses to follow along is kinda the easy part. The real trick to making it work well is getting the young men to the point where they will die to defend the politician’s vanity. That is what boot camp is for, you know. They take you in and they reprogram your vanity; they refocus it with the purpose of creating the perfect killing machine. They really have to do it though, because if they don’t, you won’t have enough focus for your vanity to cover up your actions. So they brainwash you, out with the old, in with the new programming. Them fellers is even so confident of their knowledge of vanity that they tell you beforehand what they are going to do. They say, “We are going to make men out of you boys. We are going to tear you down and then re-build you back up.”

See, now we got a nation full of people listening to propogandy about how we need this and we need that and we deserve it all and an army of strong young men reprogrammed by our military’s finest leaders into killing machines. Now all we need is a place to conquer, some land that we believe we can take. Which politician, in which country, bruised our precious ego the most? When the politicians figure that out, we gets to have a war and to the victor goes the spoils, so they say. It will only cost 50 million lives, a small price to pay for more living room, indeed.

But this is how vanity is fed. When vanity needs to feed, someone is going to die. The more power the person with the starving vanity has, the more people are going to die. Don’t let anyone fool or deceive you again in this matter. More people have died in the name of God, Jesus, Mohammad, freedom, and nation, than for anything else. Vanity is the true hidden master of death and it resides in each of us.

Now that I have given you some background into the why of things, the truths I share with you will make much more sense, ’cause knowledge is useless without understanding. I won’t be givin’ ya my entire life’s story or anything like that. Gosh, no! Ain’t neither of us got the time for that. Just gonna share with you the most important moments of truth in my life. The ones that matter, the ones that ‘splain how I got where I got and how I ending up doing what I did. I knows that life has a lot of little moments of truth and all of them are important to some degree. Each little moment defines us, molds and shapes us, into who and what we become. But not every one of them is important to every story we have to tell. So I am going to give ya the meat of the story, you’ll have to find your own potatees.

I remember moving to Texas when I was young and thinking why Texas? I was a little too young to git the jobs and money things, so in my mind it was stupid to move anywhere. All my friends were in Iowa so, of course, to move away from them was dumb to me. But with time I adjusted, got used to stuff; the way people spoke and did things. I see now that if you need money and to make a living, you have to go where you can do that. Wish I would have gotten that a little earlier, might have spared my parents some grief, I ‘spose. Just one of them things in life that can’t be helped nor changed. My dad found a job being a grease monkey to a local used car dealer. He was not paid too well but apparently it was enough that he was able to squirrel away money to buy a house with a double car garage. In the garage, he had some lifts installed and started working for himself out of there. I guess he musta been pretty good at his job because we never had to worry about food or clothes, anything like that. My mom did not have to work, so he musta got it done right, good and proper. She spent most of her time looking after me and my brother and making the house a pleasant place to live in.

Everything was fine and decent enough. They were kind to us, never abusive or anything like that. They were not exactly the brightest people on the planet I guess but they were caring and that was more important in the general view of things, don’t you think? They never raised their voices to us, calm and patience were some of those things my dad used to say were important virtues. There was never any favoritism, me and my brother got the same amount of attention and freedom, even though he was a year older than I was.

When my brother Jonnie turned 18 and graduated from high school, my dad sat him down one night and asked him if he wanted to be part of the family business. I am guessing now, not knowing exactly what Jonnie thought in his head mind you, that he figured he had nothing better to do and that is why he said, “Yeah, sure!” to the question. Nothing much really changed around the house because of it that I could see. Instead of going to school everyday like I did, he just went downstairs and out to the garage with Dad. We both still did our chores because we both lived there and had to do our share. We both still had our weekends to goof off with the exception of those weekends when Mom made plans for everyone. Don’t all moms do that though? Maybe it comes with the job. I do not know since I never read or saw any handbook for mothers lying around for me to check out.

Then things changed. They changed a whole lot in fact. I guess it is to be expected when both of your parents die.

So now you have read the 1st couple of chapters, interested in buying the novel? Just go to this page. I’ll post another writing tomorrow. TC

©-2010 J.B. Thomas

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