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I Hear Voices

 

I Hear Voices, and now You will too.

By Tammy Poore                        7/2016

 

Why didn’t I think of it before now? It could’ve solved my writer’s block. For almost 5 years I haven’t heard the voices. And if I don’t hear the voices, my mind can’t contribute the words which travel from the depths of my mind to release from my fingertips as they hover slightly above the keyboard forming stories.

The voices: When did I begin to hear them?

Before third grade, of this I am certain. I remember my first written short story, I emphasize written because I think I have been a story teller since the day I learned to string sentences together. But the writings didn’t begin until I heard the voices. Oh, and how the voices infiltrated my thoughts and spawned characters… I love the characters the most!

They live inside us writers, you know? Their thoughts and beliefs may not mirror our own, but by gosh they are deeply ingrained within us, these characters we create. That might sound boisterous, I am not sure if I CREATE these characters or not. They seem to create themselves, beginning as voices, for me at least that is how they evolve.

Which is how my first written story blossomed, and those voices weren’t even human, the fact is, many times the voices aren’t human, never were and never were meant to be.

You see, my Mom changed our bed sheets weekly, and sometimes I helped, but as you will see I don’t think I was much help at all. I have always been easily distracted. After Mom would remove the comforter, sheets and pillow cases she would spray the bed with Lysol disinfectant. On this particular Saturday morning Mom was obviously trying to humor her young daughter when I inquired about why she always sprays the mattress with Lysol, she answered, “To kill the mites.”

“Mites?” My ears became more alert, “You mean bugs?”

“Oh yes, I mean bugs, so tiny that we can’t see them. There are dust mites, bed mites, skin mites, even eyelash mites. Every living creature has mites, and we are no different. They live everywhere.”

Looking at the mattress was more interesting now, I got as close as I could and looked it over very carefully, “Can we see them with a magnifying glass?”

“No, we would need a microscope, a very powerful microscope.” She was flipping the mattress pad in the air so I had to stop searching for microscopic mites. Mom continued, “We aren’t even aware they are on us, Tammy, as long as we stay clean and keep our homes clean, they can’t multiply and become a problem.”

“What do they eat?” I asked.

“These mites would eat our dead skin flakes, and hair follicles.”

I giggled. It struck me humorously to imagine a little bug holding a dry skin flake up to his mouth like a sandwich… And the first tiny voice overrode anything my mother was saying, and inside my head I heard the voice evoke its own mother, “Mom, this sandwich is too dry.” I giggled again out loud, and heard a mite mother’s tiny voice reply, “Eat your sandwich, Dorp, and stay away from the toxic spray.”

My own mother asked what was so funny. I answered, “What if the Lysol doesn’t kill them? What if it only makes them drunk?” This thought made me laugh even harder.

My Mom has the same sense of humor and imagination, she chuckled and said, “If that’s the case, I guess the mites are having a party.”

And thus The Mites were born. I ran to my room found a spiral notebook and a sharpened pencil and I wrote my first short story about a town whose population consisted of hungry mites, families of mites, who ate dry skin flakes, treated dirty hair strands as spaghetti and drank the ’giants’, (humans), blood every night and day of their short lives, but when Saturday came, oh boy, were they happy, because that’s when the giants came along  with their toxic spray that didn’t kill many mites, in fact, it  made them quite happy and inebriated, as long as they only got a “whiff”, anything more would be fatal, but a small whiff would  do it up right and the mites would dance and party all Saturday night long!

After I wrote the 5 page story I couldn’t wait to read it to my mother as she rested on the couch later that day. I think she still might have my first story, with my exaggerated and messy handwriting.

Every Saturday when Mom changed our bed sheets I laughed as I helped her, and I actually helped more after I invented the mite story, imagining them, hearing them as they would jump on the sheets like a trampoline as we fanned the linen, whipping the playful mites high into the air as they shouted with glee! Our bed mites, high on Lysol, lived the life, let me tell you. In today’s politically correct world, the mites would never make it to a children’s book because of the “bad influence” of a tiny insect world which adapted to the toxic spray by catching a “whiff” to feel the “euphoric” sensation fueled from the poisonous aerosol.

But the truth is, I prefer my politically incorrect, surreal world and all the voices from the characters inside my head. I used to get in trouble for telling my stories, my childhood friends and cousins hated a lot of my stories, and most friends couldn’t stay the entire night during a sleepover because sometimes the voices belonged to evil creatures. Like the Zombie Rooster.

His would be the next voice to be heard. Definitely fourth grade was the birth of the Zombie Rooster. My mother had a pot holder made of cast iron in the mold of a rooster. This specific rooster looked very unfriendly and incredibly angry. I imagined that he got tired of having scorching hot pans placed on him. And he especially hated the smell of his own burnt feathers. He overheard people talking about chickens one day, about how they used to kill them when my mother was young, how my Mamaw would ring their necks and Papaw would behead them. And Mom would laugh because sometimes the chicken’s beaks would open and close after death. Oh how the rooster got mad when he heard THIS! Oh yes I heard his angry voice inside my head, a baleful cluck, “I would ring more than your neck, why I would peck your eyes out of your head!” I heard him clearly and looked at my family gathered in the kitchen, unaware that the rooster was listening, and not only listening he was plotting…and waiting, because he knew on a certain night the moon would be just right in the sky, illuminating the cast iron with a coolness that brought much relief to his scorched feathers. He waited for  an electric storm brewing on the horizon, eventually swallowing the moon whole behind furious clouds.

But the rooster wouldn’t be alarmed, he would be eager, and anxious awaiting the bold lightning strikes, listening to the claps of thunder as the storm got closer and closer, and on one of these nights the lightening would strike close enough for the hot currents to zap the cast iron rooster through the kitchen window, igniting an energy within this tortured creature, a type of life that he had never known but always wanted, bringing to our earth and my home the Zombie Rooster!

He clucked and chattered in a voice only I could hear, planning the violent assault on all the humans he could find. He would only have minutes, because after the storm and just before sunrise he would return to his cast iron state, patiently waiting for the next sizzling, hot, summer storm. But until then he would listen. Carefully, he always listened.

He enjoyed it when I would tell my cousins and nieces and nephews of his existence. I could see the glint in the eye on the old pot holder. That one rooster eye watching and waiting, as he was forever cast in profile, ever listening to our family’s conversations with Him standing proud and erect perched on one foot, with his tail feathers tall and glorious. I could hear him chuckle when I warned of the sharp beak and his razor sharp claws. It sent a shiver down my cousins’ spine to know that when the Zombie Rooster emerged he would grow taller and bigger, almost the size of a child, and when he unleashed his fury no one would survive, no one. Not even me, unless I continued to bring him offerings of cooling, soothing things and promise him one day he would be free of the scorching, hot pans. Free at last.

“The next time I come back it will be your mother’s eyes.” He would seethe at me. But to save myself and my mother I would sit a cold glass of milk on the pot holder and promise I would find a way to free him from the cast iron. ”Then bring me your snotty nosed nephew. Bring him to stay overnight and I will pluck his eye balls from their sockets and toss them high into the air on my beak, and finally when I tire of playing ‘ball’  I will place them in your mother’s refrigerator in the jar with the olives.” And his scratchy voice would fade to a mere whisper as he clucked and watched me with that one eye.

Naturally, my younger relatives did NOT want to stay the night with me, especially on stormy, summer nights. And when they did come to play, of course being subjected to my notorious storytelling, I would show them the cast iron rooster, instructing them to pat him asking for his favor. ” But watch out, sometimes he will follow you and when you least expect it he will show up in random places, marking his next victim with his photographic memory. If you turn around and the pot holder is nearby, then YOU will become his prey!” Naturally, the poor Zombie Rooster never came to life, and soon enough other voices trumped his fowl character and a few characters were even fouler than he.

During this time of my life we lived near the edge of a wooded area and I loved to explore the woods, in spite of the fact that my mother forbid me to go into the woods alone. At times I convinced my neighborhood friends that a black panther lived in these woods and with much anticipation and exhilaration we “hunted” for this panther, this is one tale that I almost convinced myself was true, because anytime we heard a rustle or unexplained noise my neck hairs would stand on edge. I am certain that I loved my own imaginary world as much, and probably more so than anyone else. But the panther never “spoke” to me. I never heard his voice, even though I thought I glimpsed his beautiful and dangerous eyes watching me from his stealthy hiding spots.

As fate would have it though, as I hunted the panther, a voice finally did speak to me. It was a gravely man’s voice. And it came from the tops of the trees. As I would look up into the trees I could hear the voice riding on the wind that whipped the leaves in unison, “I am so hungry.” It would say. For weeks I searched for the speaker who was so very hungry. “Bring me food.” It would demand.

I would sneak food from my meals to the woods, and place it atop the ground covering the roots of this very large, and beautiful tree. Naturally, when I would return the next day or the day after that, the food would be gone.

I decided not to feed the mysterious speaker until he showed himself to me. And this seemed to anger the voice, because he seethed, “You would NOT like what you see!” And the leaves rustled with contempt and the wind would gather speed and I would feel the urge to get away from the tree.

Of course I shared my experience and story with other children, my friends and my relatives and I would let them take food to the tree to leave it for the hobo and without fail, every time we returned the food was gone. I never allowed them to convince me it was small animals that ate the food. “No, he speaks to me, he is an old man.” Because his voice was so gravely. “And I feel him watching me with his bulging eyes.” And he began to come to life, this man. I would catch glimpses of him in the largest of trees. Sometimes I found remnants of his clothing or shoes as I explored the wooded area. He was a smoker because I also found the cigarette butts, and he must have been a drinker because I found the discarded beer cans.

And then one day I heard him say, “I came by way of the train.”

“Oh,” now it made sense. We also lived near rail road tracks, and I would often cross the busy 2 lane road which was heavily traveled by factory workers going to and from work to the plants in the nearby industrial park. As I walked the tracks, knowing the train’s schedule, I entertained myself with the many ideas of what it must be like to travel by train. And as I reminisce at this moment, I can smell the hot smell, heavy with burning oil and coal, a warm scent associated with train tracks. And in fact, when I stood in the woods listening to the voice I would catch the same scent. “Are you a hobo?” I implored.

A scratchy laugh answered my inquiry and I knew I was right.

”Then why do you live in these woods?”

“I am hiding.” The voice of The Hobo breathed. And from that moment, I began to see the balding man, with his burn scars, a foreboding reminder of something insidious, and his bulging eyes and his yellowish, pointed teeth.

My friends dared not go near the woods after I described him. They shrieked, “You really saw him?”

And I did. I saw him…. As I see and hear them all, Inside my head, and they become as real as you or I when they are forming, demanding to be released into my writer’s world.

As the hobo became stronger from my food offerings as much as my imaginings he would come down from the tree tops, still hiding in the bushes, but close enough for me to catch glimpses of his hideous existence, I could smell the earthy aroma mixed with tobacco and beer. He told me, “I hate people.  That is why I hide. They made me what I am.”

He had been burned, caught on fire by a group of teens while he slept in a train car, and that is why he lived in the woods near my house, just until he healed though. Then he would be moving on. But he wanted to get revenge so badly. I, and my group of friends was too young to take his vengeance out on, but he wanted me to bring him teenagers, to lure them to his big tree where he slept even in the rain and storms.

“I want to make them pay, I want to make them all pay for what they have done, all teenagers.”

He was so evil, this hobo, and I would tell my friends to warn their older siblings to stay out of the woods. Because most certainly he would swoop down from the trees and kill them.

As luck would have it my Mamaw came to live with us during this time and silently she observed how I told these large tales, and wrote many more, and how I often got scolded or even grounded for scaring my younger nieces and nephews. Being older, and wise, I believe she realized that the only way to prevent me from scaring the younger kids in the family was to make a believer out of me.

One day as I told my nephew that the hobo was getting very agitated and he even threatened to come out of the woods to get a child to sacrifice, my Mamaw listened. And when the time was right she gathered me next to her and she spoke softly, yet precisely, “Tammy, I hear the stories you tell your nephews and nieces.”

Uh-Oh. Here comes trouble. The adults always liked to scold me for the stories.

She continued speaking, “I have noticed that you will take punishment for telling these stories.”

I nodded agreement.

“Do you know what that tells me?”

I looked into her dark, probing eyes. “What?”

“That you believe they are true.”

I was a little let down. Was that all? Someone had insinuated this before.

But Mamaw wasn’t done speaking, “And I believe some of them are true.”

I felt my eyes open wider and maybe my jaw dropped a little from disbelief.

“Yes, I know at least one of the stories is true, because I have seen him. I have met the hobo myself.”

My heart began to race wildly and I looked at her anxiously. “You did?”

“Yes. I went into the woods after hearing all of these wild tales. And I saw him, just as you described. Balding, rail thin with dirty teeth and even dirtier fingernails.” She held her own fingers up in a claw like pose, “He is a smelly old thing. And the scars on his face and head, that’s why he doesn’t have hair.”

I was speechless.

Mamaw paused and looked towards the window facing the woods. “He is out there. And he isn’t good at all. In fact, I would prefer it if you stopped feeding him. Stop giving him attention. Let him go away. It’s better that the hobo moves on. We don’t want to be associated with anyone with such bad intentions.” She looked at me beckoningly.

I felt a little disappointed, but I listened as she continued.

“Now, I am not going to say anything to your mother or anyone else about this. I want this to be our little secret. But when you see or hear these stories inside your head, maybe the best place for them is on paper in the form of a journal or short story. Your imagination is wonderful, but if it scares others and they get the wrong idea, I am concerned it will cause you unnecessary trouble. Some people do not understand such creative minds. And I don’t want anyone thinking my little Tammy is crazy or anything like that.”

“I’m not crazy.” I defended.

“Of course not and I know that. But not everyone will realize it.” And she kissed my forehead softly and sent me on my way to reflect on what she had said.

Did her lecture stop the voices? Of course not. There was a short period of time when I didn’t hear any, not even the hobo’s voice. I left him alone, as per her request, hoping he would leave the wooded area behind our house. For a while I stopped telling the stories to the younger kids in the family. But I did write stories, mostly for myself, mostly because they demanded to be written, only stopping during short blocks of time during life’s busiest or most challenging moments. I discovered it was just as much fun telling a scary story with full disclosure that it was just a story, for entertainment purposes only. I have discovered many things, that I am most content living in the world where make believe is more welcoming than reality.  If that makes me crazy, so be it.

I have to allow the voices to be heard, I have to nurture the voices and sometimes that means the real, tangible, human voices may have to be ignored from time to time. I have to welcome the voices if I want to write stories.  You see, I have discovered that the voices, the characters, the images and the tales are alive and real, even if it’s only inside of my writer’s world. Which is where every writer belongs.

The End

 

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Am I Spending too much time with myself?

Sometimes I am my own worst critic, my own worst enemy. And I have far too much alone time with myself. My commute isn’t  the escape it used to be, my thoughts drown out the music that once soothed  me. At work where I am so happy doing what I love, my concerns and regrets can rise above the conversation between  my client and I. At home, my evenings  are too short and bedtime arrives far too soon, within 2 to 3 hours of me getting home, and my mind hasn’t calmed, in fact all issues have sank in And demand my attention, and sleep eludes me or is very restless. I don’t have friends or anyone who has idle, generic chats with me, never on the phone and rarely in person , so I keep company with myself more than with anyone. And this is my concern. I think I spend too much time with myself. There must be a happy balance.

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The Resentment Builds

3/2/2016 by Tama Poore

With time it ebbs and flows. The harder the day the more enraged I feel. And the resentment spews from my mouth on deepened lines of anger and a growing hatred for those who do not care.

It matters not that a salty tear breaks free from my eyelashes, and blurs the makeup I tried so delicately to apply this morning. It matters not that before the tear slipped free I was biting my lower lip between my teeth trying desperately to keep it all inside. It matters none that my body shakes internally, that my knees are trembling and my stomach threatens to send me racing to the nearest restroom.

All that matters is that they look at me blankly without fully absorbing my state of mind, my state of being. Some will say anything to shut me up. Patting my back, or holding me around the shoulders. Saying things like, “It will be okay. If there is anything I can do.” Yet that’s the last I will hear from them.

Truth is. They really can’t do anything to help, nor do they give a damn. Truth is, seeing someone cry makes anyone feel uncomfortable. Truth is they just want to get past this moment. And get past me.

I am not alone. Millions suffer our hearts coarse and our resentment building.

Throughout life we bottle it all up inside. Never truly allowed to complain. We hear things like, “Don’t let anyone see you down. Crying is for wimps. Life isn’t going to be easy. Fighting is for fools.” What does a damaged person do? You’re damned whatever you do, because if you give in to the pain you are weak, if your fight for the cause you are an idiot, or a drama queen.

Some pains aren’t mental, they truly are physical. Other pains reside at the deepest level of our core. Yet we constantly hear, “Oh, but, you’re not sick. It’s all in your head.” Yet we are supposed to see that poor ole “so and so, they are sick. They have struggles.” We need to do something for them.” And I want to. Truly, I want to help, but how can I help anyone when I am so far from being healed? When I am so mentally and physically wounded that I weep daily?

Most don’t realize how bad I ache, every muscle and fiber which makes my being is ignited with pain after I have kept it all inside for too long, but who has ever recognized this? And who shares these symptoms? How can I know, when they also keep it bottled up inside.

When you step back and look at those around you, it is a sad realization that few really care, that even fewer ever check and see if anything is wrong. There is a lot wrong, dear friend or foe. More than I can bear at times.  For me personally, each day of my life I struggle with the loss of my family life and my children who stay with their father. Do you really think I like this situation? Do you really think I want it to be like this? Yet life rolls on, and one day is harder than the next, or one day is a little better, but the pain is always inside, feeding and thriving off of the trials that life throws our way. Because life presents constant challenges.

You may ask, have you ever helped a friend or family member, have you checked on anyone? Oh, yes, so many times I have. I have also jumped through hoops. I have held my tongue to prevent hurting someone’s feelings. I have spent money I didn’t have at times to please someone else even though it strapped me financially, and rendered me in the negative in my bank account. I have called or texted or in some cases visited the ones I am concerned about. But who really cared? Who even remembers?

Not a damn soul.

And this is what has left me hardened and jaded to the point that I don’t want you to ask about me anymore, I don’t want you to give me your sympathy anymore, its 5 years too damn late!

What I wish you understood, and wish all of you knew is that my illnesses are as important as yours. My aches and pains hurt as much as yours. My financial burdens are as troublesome as yours.  And I have heard about yours. I have listened and have vented with you and shared with you and tried to offer suggestions. Did you not hear them? Or is my voice like the neighbor’s dog, drowned out by the mere repetitiveness of hearing it too much! Or do you just wish for me to listen, and not offer advice? What do you want?

The resentment builds. Mine has reached a level never attained before.

Yours may have already burst, or it may be building as we strive to survive in a cold, selfish, callused world.

Let me ask: What would you want me to do to help you?

If you ask me, what I would want, is for you to listen, and understand, and make time for me. In some small way, make a little time for me. And also, say something positive. Above all, say something uplifting. Not generic. Or lame. Say something genuine.

But it may be a little too late. Maybe it isn’t. In my torn mind and heart I can’t predict how your concern will make me feel, yet I feel a glimmer of hope that if your concern is real, that it will help me rebuild faith and restore clarity.

The resentment builds. And there are millions of others who struggle, too. We have all forgotten what it takes to make a difference in someone’s lives. Because we have become too impaired to care.

The End

 

 

 

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Ghosts and Spirits

It was my research into the supernatural that started this blog. AND it was my research into the supernatural that lead me to dark places, literally.

I gave up being a paranormal researcher in 2012. I am still drawn to it. I will never be far from it. But, I want to go at it from a different perspective. And so, this blog will often include ghostly encounters, or unexplained phenomenon, but until I decided where I am going with all of my past and future explorations, I will post about anything and everything that could be considered an escape! An escape from the moment. An escape from our life. An escape from personal demons. An escape from the real world.

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The Hands of a Killer

   by Tama Poore 2-01-2016

We always remember that trigger moment, that precise instant when time stands still and all background noise mutes inside our heads, when our mind hones in on whatever trauma marked that moment.

It can leave a permanent imprint. Even as fragments of conversation or images permeates our thoughts, other thoughts are already ahead of the several possibilities playing out in our mind; but I must ask, are these subconscious thoughts and images  preparing you for something, or distracting you from the inevitable?

Muted deafness. I can feel my heart hammering behind my breast. I see the speaker’s lips moving, but is she really talking? Then the audio erupts on a decibel level magnified by my heightened anxiety, “He doesn’t work here anymore, and the reason he doesn’t is because he was arrested for murdering a man….”

It was that instant, that mind numbing moment when I mentally saw him and I recalled his hands, big as they were, imagining them with another man’s blood etched in the crevices of his skin, dark beneath his nails…

Flashbacks in time, even as she tries to explain to me what had happened, but I wasn’t consciously aware in that moment, I was mentally many years in the past. I recall noticing the roughness of his hands in addition to the size. Do you notice people’s hands? I notice such features relatively early, and then later I begin to notice so much more. Especially as my life merges and intertwines with theirs, I believe then I should become acutely aware of their traits and characteristics.

I remember looking at the hairs on his forearms, noticing their color and density. I observe the shape of his hands; are his thumbs curved or straight? Did you know a curved thumb is also known as a hitch hiker’s thumb, and it’s a recessive trait?  I notice how strong his hands grip the steering wheel. The relaxed body posture as he handles a car, even at 110 mph! He was the only man to ever take me to that speed and as exhilarating as it was, he seemed at perfect peace with the dangerous speed.

He was many of my firsts, and maybe that’s why I struggle with what he did, because we certainly were not together when he committed the crime, it shouldn’t have had such a lasting effect on me. I was long gone from his life, and thankfully so, yet his murderous actions plague me almost as much as if we had been together when he did it. Maybe that’s why I still struggle internally at times. Because I failed to notice the details that should have alerted me to the grisly realization that he could take a life.

Alas, it’s what I failed to detect which prompts me to write this story. It’s why I can’t forget him, in spite of how much I want to forget him. I would erase that chapter of my life if I could. It has been 3 decades since last I saw him, yet I can’t forget him.

I spent almost two years with him; I carried his child, I lost his child. But, would you believe that when I was in 7th grade when he first began to pursue me I found him very unappealing? I didn’t like him very much at all. Why didn’t I listen to that tiny, gut instinct? Maybe you should always go with that first inner tug of uncertainty.

He was 3 years my senior, and one reason I disliked him when I was in seventh grade, when he was in his last year of middle school, something happened towards the end of the school year when he was caught riding a skate board through the hallways. A teacher shouted for him to stop and get off the skateboard. I heard the exchange, my head on a swivel looking for the trouble. I could see our principle approaching the scene; he was a very tall man. I saw him reach out mid stride attempting to stop the student whose back I could only catch a glimpse of between all of the other kids in the way. Suddenly he turned around and just punched the older man of authority right in the face. Bam!!! The halls were jam packed full of students moving from their last classroom to their next class and you could have heard a pin drop that instant after the unmistakable sound of fist against face emanated down the hallway.

Two male teachers grabbed him by his shoulders and shirt sleeve, dragging him towards the office. Students parted like the red sea to let them through, that’s when his enraged blue eyes caught mine, I watched him as they drug him away, and for some strange reason my eyes dropped to his hand, the one that had delivered the punch, and I remember thinking, “Damn, that had to hurt, his hands are huge.” This takes me back to my reference to his hands, as mentioned at the beginning of this story, when I was visualizing blood staining his hands while the lady at the auto shop explained why he had been fired.

Yes, he had sizeable hands with fingers which could strum the strings on a bass guitar and grip the neck of the same instrument like it was an appendage of his body. He could also ride a dirt bike and master the rugged trails, confronting the washboards head on, while approaching the ramps with confidence, holding the grips tight as his forearms flexed and hardened, they were incredibly strong as a result.

He was also very much into muscle cars, racing them in illegal street races, but beyond that he could build them from the inside out; strip them, paint them, turning them into a custom, high performance vehicle. As a result of his hobbies, his passion, his work, his hands were rough and callused and his nails always had auto grease or auto paint beneath them. Yet here I am imagining the dirt as blood.

One time I helped him strip the paint off of a 1969 Ford Mustang, it was time consuming and maybe I complained. I really don’t know why I annoyed him, but suddenly he jumped up from his kneeling position beside the car and grabbed a razor blade from atop the hood and used it to slice the top of his forearm wide open. He dropped the razor blade and gripped the wounded arm and darted to the bathroom. I stood there dumbfounded. My heart pumping wildly, my mouth dry, looking at a bloody discarded razor blade and the trail of dripping blood left behind on the concrete floor of the garage.

I was mortified. I didn’t immediately follow him, but then it crossed my mind he might be slicing his wrists or something. What on earth had prompted this irrational behavior? Hesitantly, I made my way to the bathroom door and knocked lightly, “Are you okay?” My voice was weak and shaky.

He didn’t say a word.

I rapped harder on the door, my voice louder, “Hey, are you alright in there?”

I heard his hand grip the doorknob, heard the click as it unlocked, and he pulled the door open, glaring at me over his shoulder. He had shop towels wrapped around his forearm which was drenched with blood. There was blood in the sink and some on the floor. He finally spoke unkindly, “There’s some super glue over there in my tool cabinet.”

This sounded like a direct order for me to get it. As wide eyed and frightened as I was, I walked away, not with my back to him though, and I found the super glue. I saw my hand tremble as I offered it to him. He let go of his arm and unrolled more of the rough, absorbent paper towels from the roll. “When I pull this one off, you squeeze it together.”

I felt weak in the knees even before I saw the wound, this is the moment I recognized that it needed stitches, the gash that was at least 5-6 inches long and it was deep. As soon as he removed the bloody towels, dark blood rushed to spill out and I grabbed the sliced flesh on either side of the wound and pushed it together. He turned the faucet on and grabbed some hydrogen peroxide from the bathroom cabinet and doused it. I risked a glance at his face held in a tight grimace, I looked back at the rivulets of diluted blood running down the sides of the sink, I also noticed the foaming peroxide pooling against my own skin, bloody tinged foam following the outlines of my fingers. I managed to say, “I think this needs stitches. Do you want to go to the emergency room?”

Again, that look, the one I hadn’t seen before this day but would see countless times during our relationship. Those blue eyes were hard and ice cold and his face was hateful. He didn’t respond, he simply ran some cold water over the wound and patted it dry even as blood escaped the laceration which I tried to hold together.  He worked slowly and meticulously on his arm, as precisely as he worked on the hot rods he enjoyed. In the end, when this wound healed, it was a raised, darker pigmented scar. And we never spoke of it. When anyone asked about the scar he would lie and tell them it was the result of a motorcycle crash.

The fact is, I became accustomed to not speaking about things which bothered him. And there were many things. I truly felt sorry for him in those days. His mother had abandoned him when he was four years old because his father was an abusive alcoholic. His father tried to raise him, but the stories I could tell you about that chapter of his life would curl the hairs on your upper lip, even if you only have superfluous hairs like most people. Finally, his father dumped him on his aging grandparents, who did everything they could for him. They truly loved him. They tried to make a difference in his life.

But they didn’t fail him. His mother failed him; she left and never came back, never even checked on him. Ever again! His father failed him, he drank himself into oblivion, brought home too many skanky women, even gave him alcohol from an early age, and worse than that, had one of his filthy whores seduce his son at age 12 to “make him into a man!” But beyond that, he failed himself. He didn’t try to rise above his childhood trauma. He didn’t try to be a better man than his piece of shit father. He didn’t use his talents and skills to improve himself and seek a better life. It wasn’t because he didn’t receive love and guidance; his grandparents went above and beyond their role to give him love and guidance and a chance at a decent life.

Maybe that’s why, when he pursued me in high school that I gave him a second look, I thought I could make a difference. When he asked me out again, (I can’t count the times he had asked during middle school), he was driving a super looking muscle car, he had a job at Pizza Hut, in addition to helping at the local body shop, and he had matured since seventh grade. I thought he had outgrown the violent, rebellious, younger version of himself who had slugged the middle school principle and faced expulsion.

Of course he could be charming when it served him well. I wasn’t the only person he would charm. The truth is, beyond that charming surface was someone very untrustworthy; something lived inside him which he kept in a quiet vault, and if others discovered it, oh well! He didn’t justify it or try to explain why or apologize for it.

I would discover it much too late. There were so many ways he hurt the ones who loved him, or gave him chances. It seems no one was exempt. I would inevitably encounter the darkness within him so many times, he would not only rip my heart out by cheating on me and lying to me, he would literally rip from me a trust that is inherent in us all, until it is slowly shredded and peeled away.

I was too young and inexperienced to know what that cold, dark “something” was. I was too naive to know that the charming side of him was a means to get his way, it was obviously a part of him, but rarely came out. The darker side of him, the silent, seething, distrustful side was who he really was. It was his very essence.

My experience with him has always reminded me of the Native American parable about the good and evil within us all, it goes something like this: “A fight is going on inside each of us,” a wise, Cherokee grandfather tells his young grandson, “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Why did he feed the evil wolf? Was it because there was more darkness than light inside him? Let me take in a very deep breath. You can’t fix the broken. That’s a lesson I learned too late.

The fact is, I obviously was attracted to him earlier than admitted, no amount of sympathy could make me notice that he had a head full of near black curls and a nice skin color which I can’t truly describe, but it was richer than my fair skin. For a man he had such a nice ass. Women would pay dearly for a round ass like that. I loved his full lips. And he kissed well. He wasn’t the type of man who gave compliments but the hunger in his eyes when he stared at me, wanting me, that hunger and thirst and desire was like a magnetic pull. And it pulled me in.

Funny how life often changes our perspective, doesn’t it? As I describe him today, he becomes grotesque and ugly. He becomes a monster in my eyes. He was always a monster, I trust this now. But, I still can’t believe he killed a man in cold blood. I can’t believe his hands, the same hands I had held and admired. The same hands which had touched every curve of my body, and made me feel desirable, I can’t believe those hands brutally beat and choked a man to death.

Those same hands and strong arms had carried a lifeless body to a bathroom, where he turned on the water and immersed his victim, trying to wash away… what? Evidence? Evidence of what? Was it more than just a beating? The victim is gone, his side of the story will never be told. What was he trying to wash away, if other than the blood?

At some point he, or the other man while alive, went to a neighbor’s house after midnight and tapped on a window, calling for help. The neighbor had ignored the plea for help, not wanting to get involved. Left behind were bloody footprints on the sidewalk and in the grass. (He forgot to wash those away.) Then he wrapped the body in a blanket and carried it to a stolen vehicle. (Whose vehicle had he stolen)? I really don’t know. Because I had read the details in a public court document years after the crime and maybe my mind was numb from the disbelief of it all.

When I first heard what he had done I couldn’t believe it. I also couldn’t believe I had fallen for a person capable of such a crime. I did research to find out the truth, hoping none of it was true or that I had heard an embellished version of a fight, not a murder. It was all true, too true. I don’t want to hurt any surviving family members who may stumble upon this story, so I won’t divulge too much, all I will say is that the two men got into a heated argument and my ex, the killer, had beat the man so badly that the kitchen floor was splattered in blood, there was the bloody footprints to the neighbor’s window, and other evidence left behind. Provoking the images of a viscous, animalistic attack which sometimes haunt me. I have so many questions. Why? Why kill him? And why did my ex want to dispose of the body? If it was self-defense or even an accident why not call the police? Wouldn’t that have been better than being caught with the body in the car? Everything about the story was so inhumane.

Where was he going to dispose of the body? Perhaps throw it in a river? Back when we dated he had thrown a dog he had run over into a river. I was with him that day, a dozen years before he would try to dispose of a human body. He had been fired from the auto repair shop where he worked, accused of stealing tools. He kept driving by his boss’s house. He never said why he was doing this, but he was immensely agitated. He never, ever explained any of his actions when he was in one of these moods. After the third passing of the man’s home a beagle ran out in front of his car. I saw the dog and tried to warn him, but the horrible thud of the tires running over the dog’s body informed me I was too late with that warning. I let out a moan of sympathy, I probably even said something, but he had already stopped the car. I didn’t want to get out to see it, so I leaned out the window and asked if it was dead.

By now he was moving around to the trunk where he retrieved a 5 gallon bucket, (why did he have a bucket in his trunk?) and I saw through the side-view mirror that he was putting the dog in the bucket, I don’t know how it even fit, and I never stepped out to see. We drove away with the dead dog in the trunk, I presume it was dead. I hope it was dead.

I asked him what was he doing, “What if that dog belongs to a kid? Shouldn’t you go back and tell someone?” He never would answer. What goes on in someone’s head, someone like him, I will never know. Were the mental gears turning out of control when he became so silent?

We drove to a nearby bridge and he threw the dog’s body over the bridge into the water. I started crying after he got into the car and he finally shouted at me to shut up before he pulled over and put me out, “You’re getting on my nerves!” He yelled.

After I learned about the murder and the effort to get rid of the man’s body I recalled the incident with the beagle. I could think of numerous times he had been in fights and how dirty he fought, back in our school days and dating years. He had the power to hurt someone without his dirty tricks, but he seemed to always try to get the upper hand, as in pulling a man’s jacket down around his arms to confine his opponent’s arms while he punched on him like a punching bag. There are many more examples.  I can’t list them all. But these were just some of the characteristics which should have been red flags. Was I not paying attention? Or was I too busy noticing the physical characteristics to see what was internal?

Everywhere he worked, and he had many jobs during those years, he was praised for his hard working abilities at first, but before long he was always suspected of stealing. Everywhere he worked this would become the pattern. Our friends, my family, someone always suspected him when something came up missing. But, he always denied it, and as quiet as he became when confronted, one could just never know if he was guilty of every accusation. He would never admit to me, or talk to me about his crimes.

Why did I stay with him? Deep breath… Eventually I did try to break up with him, but he would hurt himself, yes, he would cut himself, or lock himself in the bathroom with a knife or threaten to take a bottle full of pills. Eventually, when that didn’t get my sympathy he would threaten me and my family, out of fear I stayed.

I became pregnant by him even though I took an oral contraceptive, I didn’t take it at the same time each day and sometimes simply forgot to take it. No surprise I became pregnant.  I carried the baby 11 weeks. On the night I first saw blood we went to the emergency room , the baby still had a heartbeat. I was supposed to go home and stay in bed until I could see my ob-gyn in a few days. Instead of taking me home for the bed-rest, he took me to a restaurant because he hadn’t eaten since the day before. He then took me to an auto parts store because he needed a part. I reminded him I needed bed rest. He gave me that look. I didn’t remain silent this time, I accused him of wanting the baby to die. He said, “If you want to go home, walk home.” I told him I hated him. And for a moment I thought he was going to do something physical to me. Instead he leaned across me, opened the door, and shoved me out.

Remember, I didn’t have the luxury of a cell phone in those days; it was over 3 decades ago. I walked, and I cried, and I asked God to save the baby. I had never really considered if I wanted the baby, not until that moment. I was so young and surprised by the pregnancy, I had only seen the ob-gyn once before at week 7 of the pregnancy and in the emergency room was the first time I had heard its heartbeat. My mind was whirling in so many directions, but I walked along the side of the road until he finally drove up beside me, a couple of miles from the auto store. It took a little convincing but I finally did get in the car. I slumped in the seat, hating him. Quietly promising myself as soon as I could, I would get away from him. This would also mean facing a family I had ran away from. The miscarriage happened less than a week later, and I was taken to the emergency room again, this time admitted, and I had a procedure call a “D and C”. The whole time, no one came. He dropped me off. And literally, I was all alone. And very afraid. But this was the turning point for me.  In the hospital with no friends or family by my side, I vowed I would be done with him and no longer be a weak or fearful person. I didn’t want this type of life. I knew I had to get away from him.

It would take involving the police and a restraining order and years of turbulence to fully remove him from my life. But eventually, he was gone. Would you believe he would call my mother’s home phone to threaten us? A few times he came into the store where I worked, (I got a job immediately after breaking up with him), I had warned the managers about him, and so if the police were called he would leave immediately to avoid that confrontation because he was a criminal after all. He had stolen so many things, it turns out. He was also suspected of arson, when someone’s house had been burned down, someone who had angered him. It was never proven if he had anything to do with it.  (Coincidentally, burning my Mom’s house down with us inside was one of his favorite threats.]

Even after he was arrested for the murder, a decade after we split he would try to make collect calls to my mother’s house from prison. Alarmingly this was after I was married and had children with my husband, still he tried to reach out from prison to harass us. It took a total of 15 years from the day I broke up with him for the last call to ring at my mother’s house. That would be 5 years after he killed the man.

He was sentenced to 40 years, by the way. He appealed it, had it reduced to 20 years. Was eligible for parole after 15 years. As I said, he could be charming when he needed to be, it must have worked in prison just the same, because he went from first degree murder charges to second degree.

For the longest time I worried he would return to our area when he was released, but that was a needless concern, he was sent to another prison in another state to serve time for another stolen vehicle charge. His will always be a life of crime, of this I am certain. There is nothing for him on the outside. Chances are he will find ways to get back to the inside of those prison walls. I believe some people are better fit to live in there, after all.

I think I might understand his weaknesses better now, his silent way of turning those mental gears, always planning the things he must do to never face his personal demons. But we all must face our demons, you know? I imagine he faced many inside the prison. He was already imprisoned, self- imprisoned, even in those days of our youth, incarcerated in his own living hell. Inside him was that darkness I mentioned earlier, a cold, detached darkness. I think his inability to talk about things and the silence which followed an action he knew better than to take; and his inability to feel regret for hurting others, for betraying those who gave him a chance, I believe those are but a few the characteristics of a killer. The traits I should have noticed, but failed to see.

Letting Go

Letting Go

January 24th 2016 by Tama J Poore

It’s all about letting go. It’s often easier said than done.

If it’s bad for you, you need to let go. It may mean a life’s change, relocating, making new friends, and never seeing those you once knew. It’s not easy.

Who ever said it would be easy?

But the hard part isn’t moving on, it’s letting go. We are comprised of our memories, our feelings, and our thoughts. Our memories contain the fragments of our decomposing lives. The mistakes, the heartaches.

Why is it that the laughter is always what we least recall? And if we do recall the joy, it’s on the crest of misery because we can’t reach out and touch that same joy, or feel the fractals of love, of admiration, because we let go. Remember? We moved on. We don’t have that life anymore. It’s in the past.

The heavy weight of anguish drives us back down to that sore spot we loathe. Of feeling low, of being embarrassed by the choices we made. We will examine it. Do we want it? If we could go back, would we? Ask yourself: For those measured, rose- tinged moments, would you sacrifice who you want to be? Who you hope you will be? Ask this. Are those who you remember the way they once were? After all, have they sought your company? Maybe you weren’t so important to them, after all.

Crashes. Life’s crashes. Over and over again there will be life crashes. From the first baby steps when we fall on our padded bottoms; from the first skinned knees when the training wheels came off; to the first kiss that ultimately ended in heartbreak. It couldn’t last forever, you know?

Happiness can’t last forever. Nor can the misery. Nor can the all-consuming pain as betrayal reaches into the core of our soul, and stings our cheeks with color and leaves behind a hardened fossil of trust that will become more difficult to reach in the future. These are the first of life’s crashes. Sometimes they feel like a train wreck.

But we did let go. We turned loose of the table and furniture and took our first baby steps. Someone removed the training wheels and we took off, streamers sailing on the wind. We walked. We rode that bike. And we kissed our first crush. And we forgave our first traitor. And we allowed someone to soothe us, to comfort us, as we fought with trust all while relinquishing control. We let go of the safety net inside of us, invisible even to our own eyes and we moved on.

If we had never let go, we wouldn’t be here at this moment. And we surely wouldn’t see the next moments. The moments that will be filled with sweetness, laughter, pity, anxiety, anger, loathing, love, and filled with question and uncertainty.

Live in life’s moments, they form who we are. Store them in the deepest folders of your memory for future recall, but always, always let go. It’s not in our control, this thing called life. You may control this moment, but can you control all the seconds and minutes that build your lifetime? Would you want to?

It’s alright to just let go. When the time is right, simply let go. The hardest part of moving forward is always letting go.

 

The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Momma Smokes. 1/10/2016. By Tama J Poore

Of course I loved it when my momma smoked, it was funnier than hell and the minutes flew by. She would dance around, parading like she was all alone in the spotlight. Where did those twirls come from?

And my Momma sang, boy did she sing. Belting out some bluesy shit, she didn’t come from Harland. But life was tough as hell back then, they did things old school. If you didn’t break your fist on that dude’s face, then his facial bones sure weren’t broken! “That’s man shit.”, I heard some of her men friends say! And Momma liked manly men.

A lot of those memories are buried. But did you know that on rare occasions buried things will rise to the surface?

I remember one night this burly man was with Momma, and I was just about to unlock the door, because they didn’t seem to have a key, what with all the noise and banging sounds they were making. But then the scouring sound of scuffling replaced the banging and I risked a peep through the eyehole, he had Momma backed up against the door. I spun around, middle finger up to the air and went back to bed.

I got so fed up with her coming home late, or sometimes not coming home at all. Well, sometimes she made it in before sunrise, but still, I was home all alone, 11 years old and worried like an 86 year old wondering when he closed his eyes if he would wake up to see another day. Or, would his conscience slip away on a long snore followed by a cough, choke, gasp….hold it!! Hold your breath.

I must be holding my breath because I can’t feel the air. I can’t clear the stuffiness from my nose. Why are my eyes tearing up and burning? Everything is burning and my lungs feel like they are going to burst! A damp hotness spreads across me and then the heat turns to cold. Like someone pulling a blanket of snow and ice over me. I can only see white. It’s the same whether my eyes are open or shut. I sense the presence of shadows, sinewy shadows with long, wavy arms. But I can’t feel them. And I can’t hear them. They move silently, are they really there?

Well, Momma is really here now. And, as mad as I was at her for leaving me alone, I am not mad anymore. Despite the morbid fantasies that play out in my mind during the anguishing hours between midnight and 4am, scenarios which involve Momma’s car leaving the road, or Momma driving into the back of an 18 wheeler, my heartbeat softens because now she is safe at home.

How could I stay mad at Momma? No one was prettier than my Momma when she was feeling carefree, her face soft and wrinkle free while her hair flows from her shoulders when she does a twirl, dancing in the memories of the bar room song. How could she do a twirl and not fall down when she is so damned drunk that piss is already trickling down both legs! Fuck! Fuck it all to hell! Oh, I want to walk away. I want to run away! I want to leave her there, already stumbling, as her nylon stockings slip on the urine in the floor. Her urine!

Disconnected images flash through my mind, I can see Momma falling hard, her head hitting the door frame. I can see her crumpling to the floor and her neck drooping, tendrils of stringy hair draping to the floor, soaking up the urine. Was that blood staining her soft, blonde hair? It sort of looked pinkish; it wasn’t a deep red, no wait! Those were tears which had picked up traces of blood. Nope, the blood was flowing from her scalp, and it was very red.

I shake it off, whatever this loathing feeling is, it has ways of creeping upon me. I hate the sickness in which it reels. It’s a dark place, a place where a sober Momma lives. Or is she living? Her face furrowed, the corners of her mouth dragging down. A few years ago the crevices between her brows formed parallel lines. Now they form an incomplete hash tag.

Is any of this my fault? If it weren’t for me she wouldn’t have to work hard labor, long hours, ruining her soft skin. She wouldn’t have to suffer, her shoulders and back aching. I will rub them for you, Momma.

Oh, the worried face of Momma. That’s when parentheses form around Momma’s mouth, and her eyebrows make punctuating commas above her eyes. The eyeliner starts to smear, she tears up so easily these days. Is that also my fault?

So, of course I love it when my mother smokes. She doesn’t piss on herself, or vomit on the floor. She doesn’t go on crying jags, and drooping drags where she falls to the floor in regretful sobs, pulling on me, weighing me down.

Nor does she go out and find a man to tickle her fancy, even if just for one night. No, the smoking Momma laughs and giggles and sings and dances, oblivious to the fact that she can’t do any of those things well. But it sure makes her pretty, smoking does. It erases the frown lines and the signs of anxiousness. It makes her stay home, where she belongs, with me on weekends. It makes her spend time with me. Time that won’t last nearly long enough.

The minutes zip by on the tails of meteors, and too soon the long week begins, with me going to school, her going to work for way too many hours. My sitter taking me home, feeding me, helping me with homework until an exhausted Momma comes home, ready for a bath, a greeting full of hugs, until she falls asleep on the sofa trying to watch the news. Each day ending the same, no deviation till laundry day and grocery shopping on Fridays, then the weekend arrives and I wonder, ‘this weekend will Momma spend it drinking or smoking?’

If it is a drinking weekend, she will seek the depressing music in a smoke filled bar, and the weekend will bring the gloom .These are the slower paced minutes of my life. The ones that are laden with weight. And time always, always creeps by slowly. Much, much too slowly. THE END

Revived, and alive! I am back! I have had writer’s block and lived in a funk since 2011 when life literally fell to pieces for me.
The pieces no longer fit into that puzzle.
It’s a new portrait. Different dimensions. Different depths. Different realities. And the puzzle is evolving.
Let’s start putting puzzle pieces together! 2016 is a new year. A new chapter.
Welcome. and Thanks! Thanks for everything – Tama Poore

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,900 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.