Dear Andrew…

Dear Andrew,

Wherever you may be, in whatever part of existence, whatever dimensions we find ourselves when we’ve passed beyond the veil of this life. I wish to speak with your soul for a moment, if I may. Because, there are things I would say. Words I have never spoken. About this world I remain within. This world you could no longer live within.

I know the darkness, you know. The agony. The torture. Where you pray, “God, please. Shoot me. Put me in a car wreck. Break my bones. Crush these hands. Anything. Anything, please. I don’t care what it is, so long as you take the reason my soul aches this way from me.” Where all you want, all you dream of, is for your heart to no longer bleed, and your soul to no longer cry.

In know the darkness, and I always have, where no one understands, and no one sees. Because they are too wrapped up inside the world they elect to live within. With their looks into the mirror each morning, and the same words Bob Fosse said before every scene in “All That Jazz”. You know those words too, I know that. “It’s show time!” As he took his pills, washed them down with alcohol, and dulled his heartache with tobacco.

It’s so horrible, isn’t it. To know how many wake each day, and rather than think, rather than feel, rather than look at the flowers blooming in their gardens outside, or the clouds in the pale blue sky, they look in the mirror, and they say unspoken words. I know you heard those words too. The same words I hear every day. “Don’t think. Don’t feel. Just do it. Just do the job.”

For some of us, well. We can’t live that way. You know. We just can’t. We try, God how we try. And we stare at the ceiling every night, after everyone around us has long since gone to sleep, and we wonder how long, how many more days, we can keep doing this. How many more days we can keep living a lie. How many days we can pretend everything is OK. How many days we have to wonder how many people were shot to death. How many people went to bed hungry. How many haven’t eaten in days. How many drowned everything in another six pack of beer. Or ate the entire box of cookies and watched TV until they passed out, so they didn’t have to notice what they felt.

I’m so sorry, Andrew, that I didn’t say these words to you sooner. That I didn’t say to you, “I know the darkness.”

Now? Now you will be a memory to most. Some, those who truly were close to you, will always remember you. Your smile. The time you spent with them. The way you made it all OK, no matter how awful their day had been.

And, you will be myth. A story they tell their children, and their friends. “You musn’t be like him.” They’ll do what people do. They’ll speak of you in whispers. “He shot himself, you know. It’s so sad. We never saw it coming.”

And the darkness will stay right where it is. People will get up each day, to go to work. And just like Bob Fosse in that movie. They’ll take their pills, wash them down with alcohol, and then numb their bodies, and their feelings with tobacco. Or they’ll drink their coffee, and eat too many donuts, and have a toke or two, so they can cope. So they don’t have to feel. So they don’t have to think. So they can look at each other, and nod their heads, and say, “It’s all good.”

They’ll never admit otherwise, you know. They never will. Someone they know starves to death, and they’ll do what they always do. You’ll see it on Facebook, and Twitter. “It’s so sad, what happened.” And then, they’ll get up the next morning, and make like Bob Fosse again.

And slowly kill themselves, one day at a time, until they can’t feel anything at all.

I know the Darkness, Andrew.

And it breaks my heart to know that darkness finally broke your heart, and left it bleeding. That it beat your soul until only tears, and bruises remained.

And it breaks my heart to know.

Nothing will change.

Nothing will change.

Nothing will change.

And I know. That’s why you had to leave. Because, you saw that truth too. You saw.

Nothing will change.

Whatever dimensions you live in now, somewhere beyond the veil of this life. I wish you happiness. And joy. And all the things the darkness in this life takes away. May those who know, who you are now with, take care of you, and help you heal, so you can shine the light you are meant to shine. A light this world only seeks to destroy.

I hope, Andrew, you don’t mind that I speak these words now. I know I should have said them sooner. But, sometimes, my own war with this darkness we live within blinds me to everything but the bleeding of my own heart, and the tears my own soul cries.

Be at peace now, my friend.

And someday. We will meet again.

Your friend,



“Write What Scares You” Part 3.

Like I said. I’m fire breathing angry about people telling me I don’t understand, when I do understand, and far better than any of those people realize. So.  More words I’ve written in the past month.

So you know. When the ACA gets destroyed (and the GOP, in US Congress, and The Donald, clearly want to get rid of the ACA), My eldest child will be uninsured. So you know. They’ve spent the past 4 years looking for work. And finding none. Can’t get a job at Walmart. Can’t get a job at BestBuy. Can’t get a job picking fruit on a farm. Can’t get a job washing feces out of stables.

4 years of effort. No job. Not even a nibble.

No 401K, no 403B, no retirement fund of any kind, no contributions to Social Security. No work. None. Nada. Zip. 4 years.

There are 95 million like them in the US. People who have left the workforce. Because, they can’t find work. Period. There are no jobs for them. When even McDonalds won’t hire you, what does that say? How do you deal with that? How do you “work hard, and get an education, and make something of yourself” when that’s what your dealing with? Hell, even starting a small business is anything but trivial, as there’s no source of income, and therefore no funds, to start it with.

This is what a lot of millennials are dealing with. More of them are dealing with this very problem, all the time.

I know 30 year olds, mid-30s, who can’t find a job. College educated. Able to type. Able to run a computer. Able to word process. Able to fill in forms. Able to be an office assistant in any office, anywhere. Able to man phone lines, and work in call centers. And. They can’t get work. They can’t find work. They beg for gig work, online. “Go visit my Fiver page! For $5 I’ll do a Tarot reading for you! For $5, I’ll record any song you want me to sing, and you can give it away as a Christmas present, or a Birthday present!”

One of my dear Facebook Friends (whom I hope to meet in Atlanta in September, at Dragon*Con) is disabled. She lives in physical pain that leaves her on her back, on the floor, gasping for breath, tears streaming from her eyes. She’s doing everything she can. But, the medical insurance has become a problem, after the past few years. And her disability claims have so far been denied. And, she’s been out of work now for over 2 years. She didn’t quit her job. She had to give up her job, ’cause she physically could not be at the school she worked at, every day it was open. She missed more, and more days.

I worry about her.

She’s got a GoFundMe page, where she asks for help with her medical expenses. And she’s got a small store on the net, where she tries to earn any money she can to help pay the medical bills. For her, a ride from the house, to the Georgia coast, is pure misery. She ends up in such physical pain she can’t sleep when she gets there. Sometimes, she goes for days on only a couple of hours of sleep, because that’s how much she hurts.

Did I mention I worry about her?

She literally can’t work hard, and get ahead. Literally.

There’s others. The list of names goes on and on. If I had the income, I could spend well over $100 a week, just on GoFundMe pages, helping people obtain the medical care they need to simply stay alive. And telling those people, “Get a job, and deal with it” doesn’t work. Because. They’ve been trying to get jobs for years, and have gotten nowhere.

The best part? Almost to a person, none of them would be welcome in any church I’ve ever tried to attend. Because. They are different. They don’t fit the social behavior requirements of any of those churches.

Another reason I don’t attend any church.

Yeah, I know. I’ve been told, repeatedly, “Those people need the church!” I know that. But. Sending a homosexual, or transgender person to a church? Really? That’s gonna help them? Sending a person who has had brain damage and memory loss from a concussion to a church is going to help that person? Hell, the church is likely to absolutely torture these people.

Yes. I try very hard to understand. I do. I try very hard to look at things from more than one perspective. I really do. I understand completely how people feel about things like the ACA, and Social Security. I honestly do.

I also understand how people would behave about those same topics if it was someone they knew. Someone they cared about. A daughter. A son. A mother. A father. Brother, or sister.

I find it amazing how cold, and heartless some people can be, in proclaiming, “Get a job! Earn your keep!” and how desperately they fight for the government support of their relatives and/or friends, when it’s someone close to them.

And I find it a striking contrast far too many people are completely blind to. Completely, totally blind.

There are reasons I spent 6 years in psychotherapy. And there are reasons I take 40 mg of fluoxetine every freakin’ day. Because. I see this kind of behavior all around me, every day, all day long.

And it literally drives me mad.

So, now I’m waiting to see what changes start to happen at the Federal Government level. And to see how those changes affect people. Something I can afford to do. Sit back and wait. Because. I’m a white male. I’ll be OK.

Yes. I’m angry. I’m tired of dealing with people who can’t see the double standards that apply to everything they touch in life, and refuse to admit those standards even exist. And yes. In the days ahead, I’ll have more to say.

If you can’t handle that. If you can’t handle me speaking of the things I observe around me every day. Then fucking leave.

I Am Still Here

I am still here.
Still breathing.
My heart still beats.
So I know
I am still here.

My fingertips still feel everything.
The flow of the air,
The slightest change in heat,
Be it warmer, or colder.
Every detail.
Of everything.

I hear the words you speak.
I hear the rustle of leaves,
Blowing in the wind.
The emotion in your words.
That little tint of color.
Though you try to hide it.
Squelch it.

I still see the details in your eyes.
The things you think
No one sees.
The hidden pain.
The hidden anger.
The hidden fear.
The desperation.
In the lines around your eyes.
In the color and its subtle shifts.

Though I lack the words.
Lack the ability to tell you.
To describe it to you.
It’s all there.
As it’s always been.

And again.
As I have throughout my life.
I look to God.
The universe.
And I ask,
As I always have.

Make me numb.
Turn my heart to stone.
Blind these eyes, so I see nothing.
Burn these fingers,
These hands,
Till no skin is left.

So I don’t have to feel.

Make me numb.

And even as I plead.
Even as my soul cries out.
I know.

The universe,
Sadly whisper once again.

I know.
I understand.
If I could not see the despair in your eyes.
Could not hear the desperation in your voice.
Could not feel the subtle tremble in your hands.

I would never see the magic in your eyes
Every time you smile.
I would never hear the passion in your words,
Your voice,
When you speak of the many things
You love.
I would never feel the warmth,
The tenderness,
Of your touch.

And when I scream in frustration,
And my own silent desperation,
I hear life whisper in my ear.

“Wait. Just wait.
And the storm will pass.
You will see.
You already know.

And I am still here.

#ThursThreads Week 239: Nothing Has Been Done Yet

I looked at the picture of the victim. She’d been a pretty girl. She’d been tied to a telephone pole, gagged so she could make no sound, then slowly murdered. Painfully murdered. All her pretty had been taken away. “Has anything been done on this case?” I asked, though I knew the answer.

“A transgender victim?” Officer S. Morgan sat at her desk and brought up the case record on her screen. “No.” She looked up at me. “Nothing has been done yet.” I watched her turn pale. I knew why. After all, I am the violence.

I didn’t ask where the crime scene was. I didn’t have to. The computers in my armor, and in my car, already had informed me. “Nothing?” I looked at her, and watched her grow more pale. “How long had she been dead before she was found?”

“It…” Officer Morgan grew more pale as she looked at me. “Seventeen hours.”

“So, she was left on display as a warning?”

Officer Morgan couldn’t speak.

I walked out of the precinct office, and returned to my car. Once there, I pressed a button on the dash, “17. Going fishing.” I turned on the car, and headed to the hotel I had elected to stay in while in town. As I drove, I had the car search publicly available information about the victim. I’d start with the people who lived near her, in the same building. I’d end with the police force.

Something would be done. Very soon.

250 words.
Mark Ethridge (I’m not on twitter)

I’ve decided to experiment with an Armor 17 story starting with Week 239 of #ThursThreads. As always, #ThursThreads is hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

I Fall

I spread my arms as I fall.
Like useless wings.
Fingers gripping nothing.
Then reaching once again for something
To hold.

And I fall.

I don’t know how far.
I don’t know how long.
I know I’ll never see the ground
As it approaches.
If the ground is even there.

There is no breeze.
No movement of the air
As I fall through it.
Though it flows past me.
Between my fingers.
Through my hair.
I feel nothing.
As if there is no air there.
No air at all.

It’s there, thought.
The air.
Because I still breathe.
I breathe in.
I breathe out.
I feel my lungs fill with air.
I feel my heart beat.
I feel my pulse.
I’m still alive.
Breathing as I fall.

I know there’s air.
Yet I feel nothing.
Nothing at all.

I move my arm.
Hold my hand before my face.
I can’t see it
In the dark.
I can’t see anything.
But black.

There is the night.
When the sun has set.
And the gentle light of stars
Fills the sky.
And you can watch the clouds move
The stars come and go.

But not here.
Not in the dark.
There’s no light.
No light at all.

I wonder
Will it hurt when I hit the ground?
Will I feel anything?
Or will I just be numb.
Locked in oblivion.

Will my bones break.
Turn to splinters.
Will I feel anything?
Or will I just be numb.
Locked in this dark

And I hear that whisper
In my mind.
The one I’ve heard so many times.
That echoes endlessly.

“Let me be numb.”

So I don’t have to feel anything.
So I won’t know
When I reach the ground.
Won’t know
How long I fall.
Won’t know
Anything at all.

Then I wonder.
How do I know I’m falling
When I can’t feel anything at all?
When the air
Does not move past me?
And the ground never comes?
How do I know?

Perhaps I’m not moving at all.
Just hanging.
In empty space.
In nothing.
In the dark.
Waiting for the ground
That may never come.

Or maybe
Everything is falling.
Even the ground.
The air.
And that’s why nothing moves.

But something inside me knows.
The ground lies somewhere below.
Hidden in the dark.
And I will reach it sometime.

Somehow I know.
I’m falling
Through the darkness.
With my arms spread.
Like useless wings.
And my fingers grasping at nothing.

Waiting for the ground
To arrive.

#ThursThreads Week 235 : Now It’s Time To Go

I sat, in my car, at the Christmas Tree lights. In the other lane sat Jeffrey, in his heavily tuned Camaro. Really, the only left of the original Camaro were the body panels. The engine was hand built by his racing team. The transmission was a continuously variable unit designed to stay in the maximum torque range of the engine. His car was fast, and so was he.

I looked at the gages on my car’s instrument panel. The car put text on my crash helmet glasses. “Is it time to go?”

I chuckled, “No, car. It’s not time to go. We have to wait for the green light.”

“The green light?” The autonomous drive train of my car sounded irritated. “Can’t we go now, and get this over with?”


The car shook as the engine revved, “I know. I know. For the green light.” The engine dropped back to idle, “Time the rate at which the lights on the tree change. Project when the green light will be illuminated, and have the vehicle ready to move at maximum acceleration when the green light first illuminates.”

I nodded.

The light first light changed on the tree.


“Now it’s time to go.”

The car leaped forward as the light turned green. It was a very successful test run. Soon, no human lives would be put at risk on the drag strip. Racing would never be the same.

238 Words
I’m Not On Twitter Anymore.

I decided to write something for Week 235 of #ThursThreads. As always, #ThursThreads is hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

You Do Not Understand The Problem


Humans. Oye.

Well. We’ve now had the entertainment in Milwaukee. And we’ve now been observing the brain dead responses of way too many white people, who just flat don’t get it.

There is a time for peace.
And a time for war.

Everyone knows those words. What everyone doesn’t know is when the time for war arrives. And again, I’ve been watching it get closer, and closer, for 36 years now. And the saddest part? It’s the white people who are making it happen. The very same people who don’t understand why it’s happening.

You can not beat down an entire people forever. They will rise up. They will strike back. They will, when enough blood has been shed, defend themselves.

It seems we are approaching that time when enough blood has been shed.

When you force, demand, expect, a people who have their own traditions, their own history, their own society, to become just like you, and you bitch, endlessly, about the problems they have, the conditions they live under, being caused by their not being like you, you clearly do NOT understand the problem.

When you live in a society where everyone thinks the same, holds the same beliefs, holds the same values, places the same emphasis on the same things you place emphasis on, and declare anyone who doesn’t hold those same values, same beliefs, gets what they deserve in this life, again. you clearly do NOT understand the problem.

When you have closed your mind, frozen your heart, and no longer can see anything but the “successful path to life” that our media, our society, and our religion, have all combined to convince you is the only way to be happy, and declare those who have problems in this life need to get with the program, and be like you, and everyone you know, you clearly do NOT understand the problem.

When you argue that your child, your flesh and blood, cannot learn in a classroom setting, and demand the public school system change, to better address the needs of your child, and to teach them in the way they best learn, and then demand the children of other people need to “buckle up, and get serious about their education” so they can pass those standardized tests, you clearly do NOT understand the problem.

I could go on, and on. I could ramble about this for hours. And still…

You would not understand the problem.

For you have closed your eyes to it. You have frozen your heart. And you believe that everything is as it should be. For you, it is not a problem. For you, the problem does not exist. You cannot see it. Cannot feel it. Do not live it. Do not experience it. So it’s not real.

And those who say it is?

They lie, don’t they.

And so. You will never understand the problem. Or how much you are part of the problem.