Friday, July 30, 2010

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly...

And the Beautiful, the Lie, and the Truth.

There are times I'm gung WhOle, and times I ask myself "what's your major malfunction?" With all the pain and frustration I can't possibly convey with words, even while I know the answer.

You gno what I mean, I'm sure. Everyone that grows, or has grown...transcends...gnos that.

It's no coincidence that the moment we stop transcending is the moment we are no longer gung WhOle.

Anyone who has realized their True purpose (or purposes) knows that finding...or to be more accurate, receiving your purpose is an
O-piphiny. Truly a life altering event.

How do I know? Because it resonates throughout my entire being: spirit, soul, mind n' body.
You feel it, but it's infinitely more than a feeling.

It's a passion...connected to The Passion. And, if I may be so bold, it's not limited to those of the Christian faith.

There was a time I would've cringed at sayin' that, but God is God, which is to say anyone who earnestly seeks Truth, Goodness and Beauty will find it, be they Jew, Hindu, or undecided.
If a good Samaritan can be good and noteworthy to Christ, who am I to say he ain't doin' good?

We will lose Truth, Goodness, n' Beauty if we stop seeking, hearing, seeing, knocking, climbing, struggling...yes, well, again, I'm sure you gno.

For Truth, Goodness and Beauty ain't just confined to the mind n' body. It literally can't be. For it is Eternal.

If there is no spirit (and no Spirit)...and no soul, what's the freakin' point? For you can only go so far until you see the end of your journey with your mind n' body.

The Truth sets us free, right? I mean FREE! Eternal Liberty free! NOT licentiousness, narcissist, anarchy, nihilist "free."
True liberty means there is responsibility, accountability, and a concious desire to Honor the Truth.

The Left view those boundaries as constricting and stifling but it's truly free.
Like a good song, there must be boundaries or it sounds like mere noise.
The boundaries actually make us MORE free because the Goodness of those boundaries help us look within, esoterically. Past our mind n' body. And while our mind, body and physical universe are finite, our soul n' spirit ain't.

Sure, mind n' body seeking truth is better than the socialist/commie useful idiot sheeple way of slavery, but it is still finite. It's still constrained by material boundaries and time.
Afterall, your mind n' body can only go so far and that's the end.

Liberty, Love, Truth, Goodness, Beauty and Faith are infinitely bigger than that.

BTW, I'm definitely not sayin' New Agers are Truth seekers, 'cause they don't believe in absolute Truth, which MUST be for there to be such a thing as truth to begin with.
The relative truther's in the New Age movement are merely embracing spiritual anarchy or at least spiritual idiocy which doesn't regresses.

Sorry, I kinda went off on a tangent here. Back to my point: Your purpose, and your own journey ain't no walk in the park. It's hard! It's trying. You will be tested. And speakin' for myself, there are, sadly, many failures.

There are times I not only stop growing and become static, but actually regress.
Thankfully, I have a concience, and it bugs the hell outta me when that happens.
I fervently pray I never regress so far that I sear my own concience and very soul, for that way lies death beyond that of my body, and that would truly suck.

That don't mean it's okay to wallow in guilt n' shame but for me to repent, or turn around and continue on my journey towards Truth, Goodness n' Beauty and everything that entails, such as True Liberty, Love, Hope, Faith, Honor, etc..

To be willing to be molded by our Creator, our Father is often not a pleasure cruise and can be quite painful at times.
The pain is from stuff I wanna cling to bein' burned away. And I have clinged to some of that crap for a long time. Those desires of lust, greed, sloth, gluttony...well, in a word: sin.

I gno I can't begin to grow if I'm bein' held down by chains.
Thankfully, my passion to journey onwards is greater than my desire for all the unfullfilling crap that ultimately leaves me feeling hollow and crappy.

And hey, this journey can be, and has been, very joyous at times. There's lotsa humor to be experienced and realized if you take the time to look n' listen.

The best part about humor is it helps keep me from becoming a spiritual prig.
Spiritual prigs are devoid of humor n' joy, and like New Agers they are bound by chains. Chains that bring you down, man.

I used to ask myself "why did it take a terminal disease and a world of pain for me to realize this and choose this journey?"
Then I would beat myself up and go (and stay) at the regretaday inn.
Who needs excuses when you can flog yourself over n' over?
Hey look at me! I'm really sorry!

"Yes bartender, poor me another shot of guilt n' shame. I'm an idiot. Stupid! Why couldn't I see? Why, after seeing, did I forsake Reality?"

"What's my major malfunction?"

Now I know the answer. No, not just know. I realize it so much it's now a part of me.
It took all that to get me to STFU and listen and be Thankfull!

Why doesn't matter anymore. What? Do I think my sins can't be forgiven? That God ain't big enough? That His Grace ain't powerful enough? Must I read Job again? Sure can't hurt...much.

Hello! What matters is what I choose to do now not what I shoulda done. Trawlin' the past ain't gonna catch me nothin' but needless pain and there ain't no redemption in that foolish bullhocky.
Nothin' of value at all except as a reminder to anyone that'll listen of what fool thing NOT to do.

I gotta hold fast to my purpose and not allow it to slip outta my grasp with distractions, past or present.
Second guessin' ain't no substitute for revealation.

It took a horrible disease and lots of pain to help me choose to be free and embrace the Truth. For that I'm thankfull more than I can express.
I can honestly say that I would experience it all over again if the end result is the same. :^)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Close Call

Last night I gave our dogs a dog treat. It was chicken jerky which they have both had before. After a few minutes I noticed that Skully was having trouble swallowing a bite.

I went over and patted him on the back but he got worse and started panicking. The piece of jerky was stuck in his throat!
I shouted to Patti that he was in trouble and suggested the heimlich maneuver which works on dogs as well as humans.

Then I recalled my Navy first aid training. The first thing you do in an emergency is check and try to clear the airway. It was called ABC: Airway, Breathing, and Circulation (bleeding).
So while Patti held Skully I opened his mouth and could see the piece of jerky lodged in his throat.

Skully was struggling to breath at this point, shaking and pawing his head, gagging and his eyes reflected his fear. Poor little guy! He was also snapping his teeth, tryin' to dislodge the jerky.

I knew there was a good probability of getting bit if I put my fingers in Skully's mouth, Not intentionally, but bit is bit nevertheless.

However, there was no time to find pliers or tongs to do the job.
So I plunged my fingers in Skully's mouth. Not being nearly as dexterous as I was when I was younger I hoped and prayed I could quickly grab the jerky and get it out.

Thankfully, I managed to do just that. If it wasn't for the first aid training I had in the Navy, as well as working as a security guard/janitor at a hospital and the ER (amazing how much you can pick up if you watch and listen), I would've been at a loss.

There is no doubt in my mind that Skully wouldn't have survived a trip to the nearest 24 hour veterinary hospital which is a good 40 minute drive away. and I was unsure if I could properly perform a tracheo procedure, although Patti might have, but she hasn't been a paramedic for over 30 years.

My point is, we should all ask ourselves what would we do if one of our loved ones, a beloved pet, or even a stranger needs emergency medical care?
Basic first aid is easy to learn, especially with the internet, and anyone can save a life or mitigate damage with this knowledge.

It's also good to practice in a mock up situation. This includes ANY emergency. The more you practice, the less chance there will be that you will panic during an emergency.
Time is of the essence in any emergency and you simply don't have time to look stuff up on the internet during one.

The more prepared and trained you are, the better. You don't hafta be a doctor or nurse to save a life. And you never know when you might hafta put your training to the test.
Do yourself a favor and learn first aid. At least you'll know you did everything possible if you are ever in a situation to save a life. That's much better than having regrets afterwards: "if only I had known first aid..."

We are very thankful it all worked out and Skully is in howlin' good health.

We thank God, the Navy Corpsmen that taught me first aid, all the doc's, nurses and paramedics I have known, and the doc's, nurses and paramedics that share their valuable knowledge on the internet and in classes. Thanks. You all make a huge difference. :^)

After last night I will no longer give our dogs jerky or chew bones. We knew about the danger of rawhide chew bones but not the danger of jerky. Instead, they'll get small milkbones or small pieces of meat.

BTW, the milkbones really do keep your dog's teeth clean. We just took our pooches to the vet for their yearly check-up and shots last week. The vet was impressed with how clean their teeth was and askjed if we had been brushing them (yeah right. Good luck with that).
We give them a milkbone (broken up) right before they go to sleep, and perhaps one at mid day. Works great!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Salt Mind

When I dream, I usually know I'm dreamin'. However, that doesn't mean my dreams are any less...real.

Suddenly, I felt weary. Tired. I just wanted to sleep...sweet, blissfull, sleeep.

"Tell me about this war of yours and how you have survived for so long," the old man said, "and I'll give you this salt," he concluded, rotating the salt shaker through his fingers.

Normally, I would oblige, but somethin' deep intuition or hunch, told me not to play this guy's game. I didn't know why, but I did know I oughtta listen to my hunches. Experience is a great teacher, or it can be.

"Why are you so concerned about it?" I asked, taking a drag from my smoke and blowin' it in the old man's face.

I couldn't say precisely why, but I didn't like this old man. Somethin' about him riled me up, especially now that I was focused on him.
He also looked...famliar. Hell, everyone in the bar looked familiar, now that I thought about it. Even Annie.

" don't know who you're messin' with," the old man said, gettin' off the stool and squarin' off agin me. He was wearing two six shooters of his own and I had no doubt he knew how to use them.

I got off my stool and got ready to slap leather.

"Look, I only wanna hear your story. What's the harm in that? I don't wanna kill you," he said, his eyes flashin' and betrayin' his real intentions.

"Loose lips sink ships," I replied, grinning.

"Very funny," the old man said, smiling. "But I don't see no ships. No back-up. No, you're all alone ain'tcha?"

In my periphery vision I could see and hear the young burly guys gathering around me. My eyes stayed glued to the old man, but I was suddenly aware there were more young burly guys than I had seen earlier.

Call me a cynic, but I had the feelin' they weren't just gatherin' around to watch the drama between me and the old man. No, they were gonna help him!
Swell, I thought. Well, the bar is called Pain, I mused wryly.

"why can't we be friends?" The old man asked, tryin' his best to look like a friendly old man, his hands out in a gesture of supplication. "There's no need for us to fight. Here, take the salt," he said, sliding the shaker down the bar to me.

"I was just bustin' yer balls is all," he said, grinnin'.

I could hear the burly young guys stirring but one look from the old man amd they reluctantly went back to their pool game while the rest took their seats.

The old man sat down and raised his drink to me.

I relaxed a bit and salted my margarita, or what the bar tender called a miseryta. Funny guy, I thought, taking a drink...which I immediately spit out!

"It's even more bitter!" I exclaimed feelin' woozy. "That's...that's not salt," I said, tryin' to keep my balance.

There was somethin' in that fake salt, I thought. Poison. I mentally slapped myself for bein' such an idiot.

I looked at the old man who smiled that crooked smile. Then it dawned on me: I KNEW this old man.

He, and now he's tryin' to be me again.
I aimed to be my self the best I Am able. That left no room for the old man. Besides, he was nothin' but trouble. I unsteadily faced him down again, and again the young burly guys gathered around me.

"How many times do I gotta put you down"? I asked with a bravado I didn't feel.

The juke box started playin' a well known song:

Hey now, the well run dry
Pages of your book on fire
Read the writing
On the wall

Strange, I thought. It was like a soundtrack to a movie, except I was starring in this flick, but it wasn't acting, it was real.
On the wall behind the old man I saw some writing and I tried to focus to see what it said: You need salt.

Huh? Who wrote that? I wondered. It just appeared. What a strange message. I already knew I needed salt.

Hoe down, it's a show-down
Ev'rywhere you look, we're fighting
Hear the call

"You can't kill who ya are, sonny," the old man said.

"No...I ain't you anymore," I said. "You have no place in my life!" I exclaimed.

"Oh...riiight. You're a 'new man' now. You got the Christ. HE is your hero now...your God," he said with disgust.

And you know it's gettin' stronger
I can't last very much longer
Turn to stone

Damn it! I'm in no condition to fight, I thought.

"Woulda been easier for ya if'n you hadn't spit out the poison. Yer just prolonging this unnecessary fight you know. Now yer just gonna suffer needlessly," the old man said, but he didn't look broken up over it.

"Yeah, well you know me...I don't do easy none to well," I replied, smiling.

"And how's that workin' for ya boy? How are ya feelin', huh? Unbearable pain? No energy? No end in sight? Sick and f"*ckin' tired of fightin'? You yearn for peace, right? And you think I'M the bad guy? Haven't you more than paid your dues? Years and years of nothin' but hurt, and for what? To be abandoned? Tortured?" The old man snorted.

Well there's a change in the wind
You know the signs don't lie
Such a strange feelin'
And I don't know why it's takin'
Such a long time

Backyard people
And they work all day
Tired of the speeches and the way
That the reasons keep changin'
Just to make the words rhyme

"I can bring you fun. PASSION!" He exclaimed.
"I can make you feel alive again! You deserve that and more! You deserve to enjoy yourself...cut loose and replace all that pain with ecstacy! Pleasure! I can give you all that!"

And you know it's gettin' stronger
Can't make 'em run much longer
Turn to stone

I flashed back to the last phone call I had with my Grandpa, 11 years ago.

"I gotta have my leg cut off, Ben. They tell me it has to go or I'll die," Grandpa said, his voice so frail and weak.

It hurt like hell to hear him like that.

"I'm tired, Ben. I'm ready to go be with Jessie again," he said, his voice breakin'.

"Grandpa, I..." My voice breakin' too.

Grief and a sense of loss was breakin' my heart, so much I was strugglin' to breath as white hot tears streamed down my cheeks.

"Ben...I've been on this earth 93 years. It's time, Ben. My time. I'll...We, will be waitin' for you Ben. Remember this, the Good Lord ain't done with you yet. He has plans for you Ben." Grandpa said.

"Grandpa...I love you," was all I could get out.

"I love you too, Ben. You're a man now and I'm damn proud of you!" Grandpa said, his voice sounding strong again.
"Always do the right thing."

"I will, Grandpa." I replied.

"Ben, don't forget the Man upstars," Grandpa said, his voice steeped in wisdom.

"I won't, Grandpa," I said.

"I gotta go, Ben. I won't say goodbye, I'll just say so long," he said, his voice fading. Grandpa always said 'so long' instead of goodbye.

"So long, Grandpa," I said, my eyes welling with tears.

I knew this would be the last time I would talk to Grandpa while he was on earth.

They say "blood is thicker than water." I say bullsh*t! Grandpa and my Nana adopted my mother when she was three. Her mother was dyin' and her father was reportedly of Mexican heritage and had fought in World War Two for the United States. He had left soon after my mother was born, never to be heard from again.
My mother's mom had asked Nana to take care of her and my Nana, and Grandpa raised her as their own.

I couldn't be closer to Nana and Grandpa if they were blood related.
So I learned at a young age that blood didn't mean sh*t. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that the love of my grandparents SURPASSED blood! I KNEW that first hand.

Grandpa was the father I never had. He was a man's man. Much like a cross between John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, with a heavy dash of Lionel Barrymore. And yet...unique in his own way.
I can still hear his words of wisdom and his deep, genuine and earthy laugh which I heard often, for Grandpa had a great sense of humor.

I fondly recall my Nana's motherly wisdom, and her food...oh man! You ain't lived until you ate food made with the love that wonderfull lady put into it!
She had enough love for the entire family. Nana was truly a saint.

Grandpa and Nana were master storytellers. I was always so deeply engrossed when they told their stories. Stories that sprang to life when they told 'em! Stories I never tired of hearin'!
I can't think of any tv show or movie or any recreational activity I would rather experience than the stories my grandparents told.
Nothin'....nothin' compared to the sheer joy that accompanied their stories.

After the doctors cut off Grandpa's leg, he went HOme. I wasn't surprised when I got the call.
Oh, I was in immense grief and I mourned. I cried uncontrollably in Patti's arms. But I knew...I KNEW Grandpa was finally HOme, with Nana...with our Father. And he was happy.
My tears were mournfully joyous.

As I faced off against the old man I heard Grandpa say: "Do the right thing, Ben."

"I ain't alone you know! I got me some help this time," the old man said, fear tinging his voice.

Why's he so afraid? I wondered, tryin' to shake the effects of the poison.

"You see all them young strappin' men? I teamed up with them to put a stop to yer madness. Yeah. Yer "demons," yer 'mind parasites' as you call them now," he said, smiling cruelly.
"So give it up already and I swear we won't torture you...much."

"I'm all shill shocked over here," I replied, with more confidence than I had.
"So bring it on. Bring your shock n' audacity. I really don't care, 'cause I'll never, ever give up!" I shouted.

"No! Don't hurt him!" Annie cried as the burly young mind parasites moved in.

All hell broke loose. And the juke box increased in volume:

She cried to the southern wind
About a love that was sure to end
Every dream in her heart was gone
Headin' for a Showdown

I turned around and tackled Annie so she would be out of the line of fire.

"You smell nice," I said, smiling. "Stay under that table, okay?"

Bad dreamer, what's your name
Looks like we're ridin' on the same train
Looks as through there'll be more pain
There's gonna be a Showdown

A mind parasite grabbed me by my collar and picked me up with one arm, slammin' it's ham fist into my gut.
I tried to say 'ow' but I couldn't speak at that moment.

I reckon the battlefield mirth will hafta wait, I thought, kickin' the bohemoth in his nether region.

And it's rainin' all over the world
It's raining all over the world
Tonight, the longest night

The parasite dropped me as it dropped to it's knees. I heard, and felt the whoosh! of bullets barely missin' my head.
I drew my weapons and concentrated on the mind parasites first since they were closer.

I took out three of them before they were on me, knockin' my guns outta my hands. The remaining parasites, three of them, proceeded to unleash blow after blow on my face and it was startin' to look purty grim for yours truly.
The beating went on for what seemed like hours, although it couldn't have been more than a few minutes.
I tried to strike back but my blows were too weak. between the poison and the beatdown it looked very bleak.
The old man and the mind parasites cackled with glee.

"Assholes," I muttered.

She came to me like a friend
She blew in on a southern wind
Now my heart is turned to stone again
There's gonna be a Showdown

Save me, oh save me
It's unreal, the suffering
There's gonna be a Showdown

And it's rainin' all over the world
It's raining all over the world
Tonight, the longest night

I heard gun shots and suddenly I fell to the floor like a sack of flour.

"Leave! Him! Alone!" Annie shouted, emptying the gun she picked up on the mind parasites.

She's beautiful! I thought, lookin' up at her still shooting the gun. "Click. Click. Click."

"Annie," I said weakly.

She dropped the gun and knelt down beside me, cradling my head in her ample bosom.

"Are you okay?" She asked, lightly touching my face.

Now I recognized Annie. She is my wife, I thought. Her middle name is Ann. Ann, Annie. God, she is beautiful!

"I am now," I said, smiling. "Thanks hon."

"Here, I need to stop the bleeding," she said, ripping a piece of her dress hem off to wipe the blood off my face.

My eyes were still glued on her dress hem when she bent down to kiss me.

One shot rang out and a look of shock appeared on Annie's face. She tried to talk but nothing came out. Then she fell in my arms as I scrambled to get to my feet. I made it to my knees before I caught her.

"No! Annie!" I shouted, brushing the hair from her eyes.

Blood and tears burned my eyes as I quickly surveyed the damage. There was a bullet hole near the center of her chest and blood was bubbling out.
I immediately put my hands over the wound to staunch the bleeding.

"Now you'll die," the old man said, cackling.

I didn't turn to look. I kept working on Annie. I felt her hand poking me weakly. She mouthed the word: 'gun', and I looked down. She had managed to grab my other gun off the deck.

I slowly reached for it with one blood soaked hand.

So much blood! I thought, tryin' not to panic.

"Turn around and look at me, the old man said. "I'm gonna enjoy makin' you suffer! Ha ha ha ha!"

Please, I prayed. Give me speed.

I whirled as fast as I could, dropping to the deck on my back, my six gun blazing away at the old man.

I saw his gun blaze a look of surprise on his face a bullet hit my left shoulder, ripping through the flesh and hitting bone. I ignored the searing pain and kept on shooting until I emptied my gun.

The old man fell backwards and dropped his gun before crashing to the deck.
I scrambled to grab his gun and aimed it at his head.

"Damn you!" He spit. "Go ahead, finish me off. But I'll be back, as many times as it takes. Then I'll be the one killin' you. I'll be the head honcho, numero un...!"

Bang! Bang! Bang!

"Shut up," I said, quickly turning back to Annie.

My shoulder burned in protest but I wouldn't let that stop me.

"You're hurt," Annie said as I worked to stop her bleeding.

"It's nothin'," I said, fightin' through the pain.

Please! Please don't let her die God! I prayed.
So much blood...

Annie's breathing became labored, and she couldn't seem to catch her breath or get enough air.
Her lung! I thought. She has a sucking chest wound.

I fumbled for my cigarettes.

"Those things will kill you, y'know?" Patti managed to say before coughing, her gasps growing louder.

Fear etched her face as she rwalized she could no longer breath. Then a peace seemed to enter her eyes as she gazed into mine.
She even...smiled. And she melted my heart...again.

I quickly got the cellophne wrapper off my pack of smokes and placed it firmly over her chest wound. Nothin' seemed to happen.

"C'mon! Breath! Breath, Annie!" I shouted in a loud whisper.

Annie took in a loud breath and coughed up some blood but she was breathing again. Tears welled in her eyes and she smiled again.
She tried to hug me but she was too weak.

"Bartender! Bartender! We need some help!" I shouted.

Annie will be fine," he said. suddenly there, kneeling down to touch her forehead.

"Hey, that's my job," another man said.

"Sorry, I couldn't resist," Bartender said.

"You always did have a flare for the dramatic," the stranger said.

Where did he come from? I wondered. Who is he?

"Who are you?" I asked.

"Why, I'm Annie's Guardian," he replied, looking offended that I had asked.

"Guardian?" I repeated.

"Yeah, Guardian. You know, as in Guardian Angel. Sheesh! Don't you read your Bible?" He asked.

"Seriously? That's so cool!" I replied. "That means you..." I began to say to bartender.

"Yep. I'm your Guardian. And I gotta say, you keep me very busy. Raziel, at your service," he said.

" HER service," the other angel said, smiling.

"Angels? I love angels," Annie said, sitting up and smiling.
"Thank you," Annie said.

"You're welcome dear one," Haniel said in a gentle voice.

"Are you going to heal Ben?" Annie aske, seeing that I was in pain.

"Nope," Raziel replied. "And please, don't ask me why. We haven't got much time. Ben, you must find the salt mind."

"Salt mine?" I asked, puzzled.

"Mind! Although you do gotta mine in a mine within your mind," Raziel said.

"Won't you be mine?" Sang Annie.

Huh? I wondered, not for the last time.

"What is this, a musical?" I asked.

Haniel and Annie laughed. Raziel tried to smile, finally finding success on his third try.

"So...since you can't heal me can you at least get me somethin' to get all this blood off my hands?" I asked.

"Of course," Raziel said, throwing me a hand towel.

"Thanks," I said. "Salt mind eh? What do you mean, Raziel?"

Raziel stood up. I didn't realize before how tall he was! He towered over me and was a formidable sight to behold!

"Here! In here!" Raziel said, poking my forehead. "That is where the salt mind lies. You must find it before you can go any further."

"Okay, but can't you give me a hint or somethin'?" I asked.

"I just did!" Raziel replied, somewhat exasperated, it seemed to me.

I guess If I was my Guardian Angel I would be exasperated too, I thought. To say the least.

"If salt loses it's flavor what is it good for?" Haniel asked.

"Good line," Raziel said, glancing a Haniel.

"Wait, you're talkin' about spiritual salt, right?" I asked, feelin' I was onto something.

"No we're talking about Morton salt. Of course we are talking about spiritual salt. Are you paying attention? No. Don't answer that," Raziel said, composing himself.

"Why are you so upset mister Raziel?" Annie asked.

"Because of that," Haniel said, pointing to the old man and mind parasites. "You let them gain power over you. You created them. And there's more. This is why you must go to your salt mind."

I bowed my head in shame. He was right. I have a lot of work to do, I thought.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I know I put you through a lot of grief, Raziel."

"Ahh, it's nothing. Don't let it happen again," Raziel said gruffly.

Wasting Away Again In Miserytaville

I don't know how long I wandered, lost in the fog, or at least a fog of battle.
A battle for my sanity. A battle that felt like the hordes of hell itself had pitted itself agin me.

The enemy was coming, wave after wave, and I was scramblin' to find some more ammo. My body was writin' checks my adrenaline could no longer cash.
Mostly because I was plumb outta arenaline. I passed battle weary so long ago I could no longer remember with any degree of clarity what it was like to not be attacked.

Back to a time of blissful peace, whence I had no idea that the endless (or seemingly endless, as I'm sure there is an end, although I can't yet see it) ranks of pain n' misery were amassing just beyond my horrorizon, all with one goal in mind...MY mind: destroy Ben at any cost.

No, they ain't defeated me yet, but I have no idea how long I can endure this onslaught.
Each step is torturous, every movement burns as my muscles protest loudly, "hell no, we won't go!"
I make 'em go anyway, 'cause I know I can't afford to lose this battle. But even my will is gettin' weary.

Pain n' misery are patient. They know I'm slowin' down, and like a pack of hyenas they prowl my perimeter, sendin' in their lackey's to use up what little energy I have left and no doubt tellin' their commanders, despair n' hopelessness, the battle is almost won.

I curse under my breath at those hyenas from hell, and at the same time I pray for grace...His grace.
Where are my reinforcements Father?

Over there...I see a fifty caliber machine gun, all set up and ready to go. I run for it, my six guns blazin'.
Before I get there a heavy fog closes in, until visibilty is zero.

Damnit! What now?

As quietly as I can I reload my six guns. I can hear the enemy searchin' for me. Growlin'. Sniffin'.

Up ahead in the distance I see...a sign? What the hell?

Now there's somethin' you don't see everyday. Wel hell, might as well check it out.

I entered the bar, more like a dive, really. It was dark n' smoky inside. There was a few burly customers sittin' at the bar, an old man, and a few younger fellas playin' pool at the lone pool table.

I sat down on the bar stool. Man it feels good to take a load off!

"What'll it be?" The bartender asked.

Hmm, he looks familiar, but I can't place his face to a name.

"Somethin' cold n' wet," I replied.

"I have just the thing," he said, laughin'.

Why is he laughin'? I wondered.

The laughter wasn't malicious at all, but it felt...out of place.

"That's a...." I began to say.

"Yep. A miseryta," Mister Bartender said, smilin'.

"Doncha mean a margarita?" I asked.

"Nope. Ya see, it seems someone lost the shaker of salt," he said.

"I...see," I replied, not really seeing at all.

I tasted the frozen concoction and it was a bit on the bitter side.
Not too bad, but it definitely needed some salt.
All of a sudden I realized I needed some salt in a bad way. My body cried out for it and my taste buds demanded it!

"So, where was the salt last seen?" I asked.

"Hell...if I know," the Bartender replied, snickering.

"What, so you don't know?" I asked, puzzled.

The bartender smiled and shrugged.

Great, I thought, lightin' up a smoke.

"Those will kill you," the burly guy to my right said.

"When?" I asked.

The bartender and Old Man laughed. The other customers simply stared at me.

"You look like you been in a war," the Bartender said, gazing at me.

"Yeah. The war that time forgot," I replied.

"Poetic," he said, nodding.

"Funny," the Old Man said.

"Weird," the burly guy to my right said.

"Yeah," I said, takin' a drag from my smoke.

A restroom door opened and a gorgeous dame entered the dive. Everyone, includin' me stared at her as she walked slowly to the bar, hips swayin', long dark hair flowin'.
She was wearin' a black dress...short, but not too short. Short enough I mused, pryin' my eyes away from her alabaster legs (and her chest, and her face...actually, her entire body).

Don't be rude, I thought, lookin' down at my drink.

"May I sit here?"

I practically jumped outta my seat as she whispered in my ear and touched my arm!
Her touch and her voice was like a bolt of lightnin', but not the hurtin' kind.

"Huh? Wha?" I sputtered, quickly rising to my feet.

"No, no. Please, don't get up on my account. I just want to know if this seat is taken," she said, again, lightly touching my arm.

"Um...a...yeah, yes, of course!" I exclaimed, forgetting how to talk.

I attempted to pull the bar stool back until it dawned on me it was attached to the deck.
I could feel my face turnin' red as I took a few steps back.

"Thank you," she said, extending her delicate right hand in a very feminine way. "Mister?"

"Oh, um, Ben. I'm Ben," I said, taking her hand and shaking it slightly.

"I like that name. I'm Annie," she replied.

Reluctantly I let her hand go, but she held on a noticeable second longer and smiled.

"Annie is a good name," I said.

I can get lost in that smile, I thought.

"Look, here it is," the old man to my left said, joltin' me out of my trance, holdin' up a shaker of salt.

"Thanks," I said, getting up to go get it.

Out of the corner of my eye the bartender shook his head. What's his problem?

"Whoa whoa!" The old man exclaimed, pullin' the shaker back as if to protect it. "What'll you give me for it?"

"What?" I answered.

"What's it worth to you sonny?" The old man asked, grinnin' from ear to ear.

"You want me to pay for it?" I asked, tryin' to make sense of the guy.

"Boy, you catch on fast, doncha?" The old man said, his eyes flashin'.

"Okay, what do you want for it?" I asked, playin' along.

"You think I'm playing?" The old man asked, his smile turnin' into a snarl. "'Cause I ain't playin'!"

"Oookaayy," I said, slowly, confused. What's this guy's angle?

"Tell me about the war that time forgot...tell me the details, and then we can talk salt," the Old Man said dramatically.

"Why don't you leave him alone!" Annie shouted, walking over next to me.

"It's up to him," the Bartender said, waving a finger at Annie.

"But he doesn't know," Annie replied.

"Don't matter," the Bartender said shaking his head. "Do not overstep your bounds," he warned.

Annie started to say something but stopped herself, then she closed her eyes.

What in the world? I wondered, looking at her.

Time stood still, as everyone waited for my answer. All eyes were on me. Except for Annie's which were closed.

"Some people claim that there's a woman to blame, but I know, it's my own damn fault."

The juke box blared.

Fitting song, I thought, as I searched my soul.