Veterans Day

This is something that I posted some time ago, and while it is written about  WW ll vets, I would like to add that as a veteran myself, I am proud of all those who served, regardless of when and under what circumstance. Thank you vets, and happy Veterans day.

Heroes

called to service

from our great cities

and tiny towns

farmers, carpenters, fathers, and fishermen

at a time, when the risk of dying

held great purpose

and was so clearly defined

off to save the world

and our way of life

these men, boys mostly

walked for months

crawled through unspeakable horror

died in a million awful ways

leaving behind

wives

children

girlfriends

comfort

to march off

and save the world

so few left

they are all very old now

these heroes

they will tell you

they did nothing special

as they saved the world

many returned

limbless

shaken

crippled

yet prideful

respected

and loved

if you meet one

thank him

tell him you know

what he did

and who he is

tell him

he saved the world

© 2013 Michael Fiveson

Local Flooding

Many of you will remember the terrible floods in Colorado that occurred mid September. A few days ago I had an opportunity to visit one of the mobile home parks that was close to a river, and like many others, completely destroyed.

flood ruinsInitial estimates said there was at least $230 million in damages to property and infrastructure. This does not begin to measure the emotional cost when families who can least afford it lose their home and all belongings.

flood interiorNote the various water lines in the above photo. My guess is the entire home was submerged and like many others was lifted off its foundation and moved. Can people living in a mobile home park afford flood insurance? Were they required to have it, living so close to a river? Will they ever be whole again, with a home of their own?

flood remnantsEverywhere I looked there were scattered ruins. Toys, clothes, appliances, barbecues, old photo albums, tools, and everything else a family collects and depends on.

muddy interiorThe above photo illustrates what’s left in someone’s bedroom after the water has dried. The water that rushed into these homes was a toxic mix of oil, waste water, and other contaminants. Initial estimates were that 2,900 homes were impacted by this flood in just Weld county. Other adjacent counties were also devastated, and people died.

we will miss..While the human spirit endures, there is a randomness to the universe that is real and perilous. Nature always seems to have its way, and we are often in the way.

© 2013 Michael Fiveson

The Ride

My father sold Oldsmobiles in 1965, and as a favor to those customers in our immediate community, he would take their car in for service and leave his own ride at home. On this particular day that ride was a 442 which was beautiful and strong. In a time when muscle cars were a reality, this one was a behemoth and when I saw that he left the keys on his dresser, I thought I should take it out for a spin. Never mind that I was only 16 and would not have my driver’s license for another year. I was somewhere between crazy and emotionally challenged, so I grabbed his keys and fired that beast up.

Drifting through our residential neighborhood I decided to pick up my friend David, who was the son of a dentist. I tell you that so you would know that it was a nice neighborhood and I had intelligent friends. Not all of their friends were particularly bright, and on this day David made a bad choice when he agreed to go for a ride with the likes of me. He seemed impressed that I was driving this car and perhaps the cool factor overtook his common sense. He had no idea what was in store for him as I continued to casually cruise our neighborhood, deciding to head back to his narrow street where many children played, and all was safe and well.

His street was very narrow with cars parked on each side. This created a very tight fit for two cars heading in opposite directions. As such, the speed limit was only 15mph. I wanted to do something crazy that day; needed to, because taking my father’s car apparently was not enough. Driving without a license came with little risk, so I decided to up the ante some.

As I turned onto David’s street I wanted to see what this bad ass car could really do. Putting my foot all the way to the floor I heard two distinct screams. The first was the engine opening up and firing all 8 cylinders in unison. The second scream was coming from David…..non stop…..panicked and freaked. I saw the speedometer read 95 mph when, *out of the corner of my eye, something tiny dashed into the street. I know this because I hit that small girl, who was chasing a soccer ball. As she flew into the air, already broken beyond repair, my windshield shattered and David stopped his screaming about the same time his head went right through my windshield. My father’s ruined car continued to travel down the street careening off parked cars until it came to rest with two broken boys inside, and a dead and blood soaked child 100 feet behind us. I was not dead, but already knew enough to wish I were.

I was awakened by angry voices and the sound of sirens. I ached terribly and had a broken skull and several broken ribs. I could not see as I was covered in my own blood, but that did not stop the pummeling I was taking from what turned out to be the murdered girl’s father. David was also in bad shape and in addition to having lost an eye; he lost a good deal of his functioning. Today they call it a traumatic brain injury. Back then they called it manslaughter and it was added to the list of things I was charged with. None of it mattered to me, as I could not crawl past what I had done to that little girl who turned out to be six years old and was named Amy. There was a great uproar to have me charged as an adult, even as I lay in a hospital bed for 3 months healing from my self inflicted wounds. The large scar on my forehead didn’t matter either, as I saw myself as the monster I had now become.

After much legal wrangling, I was charged as a Juvenile and agreed to all charges and was sent to the Spofford Juvenile Detention Center, in the Bronx, until my 18th birthday. The horrors that occurred there are almost beyond description, but I was always aware that I was deserving of whatever evil that might come my way.

Who knows what I may have become, if I had not acted so stupidly that day. David’s parents successfully sued my father and ruined him financially. My father walked out of my life and I never saw him again. When Amy’s parents had their day in civil court there was nothing left for them to seize. I would have gladly given them anything they wanted, but I was lost to the world, and was so depressed that I had little to offer other than my sorrow and incarceration. And all they really wanted was their sweet child alive again.

There is no hate as deep as self hate, and my adult life has been marked by alcohol and drug abuse, broken relationships, lost jobs, constant relocation, and several suicide attempts. I take nine medications, and my best dreams always involve my own death. It is only in these dreams that I feel release and freedom. Once, not long ago, I had a dream about little Amy. In this dream she was telling a monster that she has forgiven him, but when I woke up I was trembling and knew that I was never going to forgive myself. One day I was an attractive and athletic 16 year old, and the next day I was forever broken, hideous, and alone.

* This story is true, up until the point where Amy ran into the street. No child was killed that day, and at the end of David’s dead end street I slammed on the brakes, and slid to a stop. He exited my car in a hurry and ran home. I casually drove back home and left the keys where I had found them on my father’s dresser. Life continued for me as it was, and it took many years before my impulsive and potentially deadly behavior of that day became clear to me. As part of my working life, I once taught employment modules in a prison for youth. They were there for a variety of stupid acts, including theft and vehicular homicide. I always saw part of me in their faces, and would look at them knowing that they were not as lucky as I was that day.

© 2013 Michael Fiveson

Elva and Cleatus

elva&cleatus© 2012 Michael Fiveson

What can we know about the lives of a married couple who will spend eternity together?
Cleatus was five years older than Elva and if he was 26 when they married, she was 21, and that would mean they married in 1909. When Elva passed away in 1960, they would have been married for 51 years and would have had a grand celebration the year before her death.
One can imagine that Cleatus would have been broken and lost without his precious Elva, but he hung on for another 14 years and at the age of 91 his last thought must have been a happy one, knowing he would see his bride once again.
Lives of long ago, very much the same today.

Grief

Grief does not discriminate. It can be seen in the face of angry fathers who carry young sons just killed in senseless wars. It can be seen in those who feel dead when abandoned or abused. And sometimes it can take the form of deep empathy felt by an aging stranger who happens upon a small town cemetery and imagines the intense pain felt by this family, so long ago.

© 2012 Michael Fiveson

Thank You Veterans

A belated but heartfelt THANK YOU to all of our brave veterans who left family and the comfort of home to serve our nation, sometimes at great peril.

My wife and I are both veterans and met in the Navy many, many years ago. Not only was I lucky enough to score my life long companion, she is also my best friend and lover. And I have a great sense of pride that comes from having served.

Thank you fellow veterans.

Abandoned Blue House

It is not hard to imagine how beautiful this old home once was…It still is.The families that lived there….are they still around, possibly living in a community near by. What must it be like for them, to reminisce about the home their parents lost…

I hope there was love and laughter in this home, and that the children were well cared for.

We can only speculate about what might have been, and the loss felt when it all ended.

© 2012 Michael Fiveson

Dreamscape

© 2012 Michael Fiveson

I meet you here, in another world, and we touch without touching. There are few words exchanged and I never know when these moments will occur. These random connections are all that remain, and I am often left confused and hurt. Living in a world without you, I settle for a dreamscape where everything is subject to interpretation and chance.

Hoopless Dreams

© 2012 Michael Fiveson

When he was a boy he would play for hours at a time. His jump shot was second to none and he was quick too. When he received his scholarship offers his parents were so proud and when he blew out his knee just three games into his freshman year everyone was devastated.  It was a career ending injury.

Now his children are grown and his wife moved out two years ago. He dreams of standing by his childhood home, basketball in hand. In his dreams he is young again, but there is no basketball hoop and he doesn’t know what to do with the ball. He is lost and alone. When he awakens, he remembers that he is.

*dark fiction……that’s all folks.