The Fowl Direction

I do enjoy a good writing challenge. In Keith’s words, “On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment herepingbacks don’t often work.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries, with links to your own blog or web site, next Monday.”

p1060455b

Here’s my story titled The Fowl Direction:

“What the heck are you doing?” inquired Uncle Jack.

“Practi- Uh, I mean, I’m trying to stretch my tongue to my nose,” Ethan admitted.

“Well, okay. Not sure why’d you feel that necessary to do. But, okay.”

“I’m limbering my muscles for mastication,” Ethan said.

From the back seat, “Don’t talk that way, young man!” Ethan’s mother exclaimed.

Ethan retorted, “Mom, mastication is eating. We’re eating at the next exit, right?”

Uncle Jack stepped up, “Yeah, well, if we ever get to the next exit.”

The Honda put-putted at seven miles-an-hour. There was no reprieve. This was the given speed dictated by the turnip truck or tractor or gay pride parade currently leeching all the interstate lane space. No one got out of first gear.

“Friggin’ groovin’!” Ethan giggled and looked at the opposing lanes.

“What the- Ethel, does your son always say crap you can’t understand?”

“No, I was meaning like the ancient commercial Fahrvergnügen, Uncle Jack. That Volkswagen was screaming by at about ninety miles-an-hour in the other lane,” Ethan explained.

“Wish we were. I’ve got to pee,” Ethan’s mother said.

“I have a coffee cup,” Ethan joked.

They reached what caused the hold up. An ostrich had apparently escaped from a near-by petting zoo and dodged and danced its way away from handlers. With nowhere to run, fences and guardrail on all sides, the ostrich had no alternative but keep running from traffic. The slow-down continued into the next county.

“If we don’t reach the exit soon, I’m going to eat that thing!” exclaimed Ethan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Can’t Catch Me!

Suicide. Recently, the entertainment world has been rocked and riddled with the affliction. First fashion’s Kate Spade then followed by CNN’s Anthony Bourdain, one may wonder why or how a person comes to the conclusion that suicide is the only answer. It’s often said, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” I can’t even imagine “permanent” at such a temporary point in my short life. Because in the grand scheme, we and our lives are so very temporary on this short-lived plane of existence that linear time bends into a mere ribbon of seemingly random or planned events over the years. Our time here mutes from toddler to teen to middle-aged to over-the-hill. Before we know it (pardon the harsh expression), we are worm fodder. Nothing but a memory. Why would anyone take it upon themselves to cut life’s movie short and decide to leave during intermission? I say, “Why or how . . .” but I’m actually well aware. I’ve been there.

I was in my twenties attending the local community college. Life was full of what was now becoming familiar ups and downs. The ups were fun (the anxiety-fueled mania) but downs (the depression-fueled pits), not so much.

At age 26, I hit a wall. I saw my unfolding life, felt I was going nowhere, and decided my time here on Earth was done. Riddled with neurosis, it wasn’t self-pity necessarily. Not completely anyway. I borrowed my mom’s car, drove the roads trying to decide on an “exit”, and decided that a cop’s gun would suffice.

Now, I wasn’t well. I had come to the conclusion that this was God’s will. I may as well off myself because He wasn’t going to do it. Not His job, He told me. I was welcome to drive around and eat and drink and smoke weed or whatever, but I’d surely miss the nude orgy-party currently going on in Heaven. Who wouldn’t want to live naked, right?

I drove to Knoxville looking for my intended helper – a cop. All of them have guns and one of  them would surely be happy to help me, right? So, I found one on I-40 a few car lengths behind me. I began driving erratically. He began to follow. Finally, with his blue lights on, we veered to the Cedar Bluff exit of I-40 and I hammered down. I figured if I’m going out, I’m going out in glory’s blaze.

He chased me yet must’ve let off speed. I gained so much ground I almost lost him. Well, for the record, there was lots of traffic. We ended up where I finally just stopped on a rural road – Bob Grey out in the sticks. He put-putted up to the rear of my car. I got out as did he. I immediately ask for his gun. Well, of course he’s just going to give it to me, right? He took his pepper spray and began to spray my face as he backed around the car. I kept advancing on him and asking for his gun. He backed all the way around his car up to the passenger window. I looked over to notice he’d left his car door open. Well, that was a Godly sign, right? I jumped in his car as he began to try to break the shatter-proof passenger window with his flashlight. I applied the brake, slipped the cop car into gear, and rolled away.

For about an hour determined to find the hidden guns in the car, I drove around West Knoxville. I never found any. Finally, a train of cop cars got behind me from a report they’d gotten when I stopped to search for an actual gun. The race was on. They tried to PIT maneuver my car but those cars handle so well, like they’re on rails. You can’t spin those things. At the end, there was so much traffic, in a moment of clarity, I decided that I was trying to kill myself, not someone else. I pulled over. After ninety days in an asylum, it was decided in court that I was “not guilty for reasons of insanity”.

What people see from the outside isn’t always what’s going on inwardly. There are, I’d assume, varied reasons for such a drastic decision. But none of your reasons for leaving the world begin to match your reasons to stay.

Take care, all.

The Thorn – Dreaded, or Maybe Not So

Why is it I sometimes feel like Paul? No, not Paul Manafort. Despite my amputated arm, I don’t feel like I’ve been imprisoned. I’m talking about the Apostle Paul, formerly Saul the tax collector. Again, no, not imprisoned like Paul for his belief of Jesus as the Son of God. I do however associate and identify with Paul to a grand extent. As I believe the Apostle Paul found later in his life, my love for writing is becoming forefront in my life. But that’s not my main association. Like Paul, it’s the God-given thorn.

lion-thorn-27090653

Some of you may know, most don’t. I’m bipolar. I’ve had bipolar disorder since my early twenties. After much sickness that led finally to my attempted suicide and stealing a police car (which is another post altogether), I often thought of this malady as my thorn. After my crash and arm amputation, I felt that the amputation was my thorn. But now, well, I’m not so sure. I believe it to be something different and unseen.

My affliction is at its base the same affliction as every soul – self-belief. Or, moreover, the lack thereof. It’s those little whispers of the mind, the impending doom of positive thought, the smash of self-doubt on my emotions. These are normal, I’m finding. But it’s not entertaining these thoughts that does the trick. It’s quickly striking them down. This is where sanity lies. Because life is as my mom once told me, “You can let thoughts fly over your head but you don’t have to let them nest in your hair.” That may even be biblical.

Example, someone does something heroic to bring glory upon their Maker. Quickly and inevitably, my mind switches gears from mere outsider-looking-in to judge, jury, and executioner of all this person’s goodwill. What the heck?! I don’t want to tear them down or steal their thunder. But my neurotic brain kicks into overdrive and tries to run them over. This happens in my internal dialogue, thankfully, and not outside my own head. It does tend to leave a mark, the thought, on my soul. Negative? Maybe. Humbling? Very! This is merely another way for the Lord to use our own deficiencies for our, and His, own good. Because, in the right heart, such negative talk is humbling and can show one their own shortcomings. So, taking a negative and turning it into a positive, once again, brings something from an inevitable nothing.

Until my next wild hair . . .

 

 

The Lengths We’ll Go To

One blogger asked, “What are you afraid to blog about today?” Well, at one time I probably would’ve never admitted such a problem, or the lengths to which I went to satisfy this problem – addiction. I was an addict. Crack. I know, I know, as Whitney Houston said, “Crack is whack.” Well, to someone looking for a new turn in life, it arrived in my life shrouded innocently in its lethal smoke offering nothing but monkeys for my back.

Not just the drug, I was addicted to the lifestyle. The addiction didn’t start full blown. I wasn’t an addict right off. It took awhile. I let someone live at my apartment and the person introduced me to the drug. Now, I am in no way shifting blame. It was my fault. I pursued the addiction. I have come to realize I have very addictive behavioral tendencies. It wasn’t just the drug. It was everything about pursuing it. From finding ways to get it, to who to get it from. It gave me purpose. What if I’d taken all the energy I expended in its pursuit and projected that energy to anything positive? I’d definitely be in a better place, I’m sure.

One example of the lengths to which I went (which hopefully no cops hold against me), I had a car. In that life, many addicts don’t have transport. So, I gave rides. Rides to get it, or to get the means to get it. By this, I mean some people had no cash. But they had the balls to go to a store and boost, thieve, steal merchandise for sell or trade for crack. We ain’t talkin’ about walking out of Kroger with a steak in their pants. No. These people would go to apparel stores and walk out with hundreds of dollars in clothes. Well, all I can say is I’m extremely blessed! I was never caught for my role in the constant crimes. I could’ve easily been hemmed up for many counts of accessory to felony theft.

That’s merely one example of what I did to supply my habit. Addiction is a beast, for sure. It undermines values. It seeps into daily life and swiftly takes over. Before you know you’re hooked, you are. Before you know it, you’re a duped fish on a trot line!

I used to consider my addiction and think, “Eh, this is just part of my path. I’m supposed to be here. I’m supposed to do this.” Nothing could be less true. God may use your path for His will and glory, but you are by no means locked into sin and deceit. This was not His will.

After the wreck and my arm amputation, I see now how God has used my addiction to guide, discipline, and adjust my life. I truly believe had the wreck not happened, I’d still be living on addiction’s ragged edge. What has made me so blessed to be saved by God, I can’t tell you but I know that’s what’s transpired.

Now, I feel it’s my responsibility to share my story and tell people that they’re under no obligation to dwell in their addiction. It’s not your path, God’s plan, or the way of the world.  You can break free. You can produce something positive with your life. You are more than this!

While my little, short arm keeps me on the straight and narrow, if you need help with an addiction, feel free to investigate, check out, or contact someone.

The Recovery Village Hotline

If this link doesn’t suffice, find one. I challenge you! Until next time, walk in God and not in shadow. Take care.

 

 

 

Father’s Day and My Dad

Advice. My dad has talent in lots of things. If it can be built, he can build it in his unique way. If it can be designed, he can pull it from his head. If it can be done, he can do it. One thing I feel he’s exceptionally good at – advice.

James Cline Gregory – Cline – born July 23rd, 1946, is one of the most well-rounded, intelligent, and humorous men I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I say I get most of my creative talent from him. Whether it’s designing and drawing or writing and humor. His plastic imagination has produced some amazing race car, boat and building designs. You name it, he can build it.

A trained mechanic, he can also fix it if it’s broken. He told me once of being broke down on the highway in his car and having to change the fuel pump or something. The man had only one 13/16 inch wrench and a pocket full of change. That was all. He decided he could shim the wrench with the various coins to fit the varied nuts and bolts holding the fuel pump in place. It worked. I used this same advice once changing an alternator in a Honda I had, just to test the theory. Again, it worked.

He’s built buildings on his property and an actual house for his mother in Townsend, Tennessee. The house was adorned with one of his unique canister-style wood stoves produced under the faux-company name Lightning Stove Works fabricated from heavy, discarded metal. You name it, he’s probably fabricated it. Or at the very least considered it.

One time when I was a pre-teen, I had a bicycle accident which resulted in a minor cut on my scrotum. After returning from the hospital with six stitches, I got a phone call. It was my dad and his first words, “You still got ’em both, boy?” I’ll never forget that.

Throughout my life, he’s taught me many things. But the one thing that sticks out – advice. A colorful man, he’s a great storyteller. So, his stories are most always carved with purpose, hammered with humor, and shining in wisdom – gems of advice. Though most always the advice is underlying and unspoken, it’s always present. Once I did a bit of work for him. I asked how much I was getting paid. He told me how he’d work on his daddy’s farm and asked his daddy once for his pay. He told me his daddy said, “son, every time you put your feet under the dinner table, you’re paid.” He was kidding me but I got his point pretty quick!

Just recently, after my wreck, he was there for me as always. As a matter of fact, he’s the first person I remember seeing right after coming to from the accident. He visited me in the hospital and brought my burgers everyday.

So, to my dad and all the fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day! Dad, for everything you’ve been and done for me, the best, most valuable things you’ve ever given me is your time, humor and advice. Thank you!

Take care, everyone.

 

How Was Your Life Before WordPress?

A nice post I ran across and thought I’d reblog.

Fractured Faith Blog

I used to be a closed book. I would bottle emotions up inside me and share nothing with nobody. I prided myself on keeping a stiff upper lip. When I lost my father to prostate cancer I cried just the once, at his bedside during those last eerie moments before he slipped away from us. After that, nothing. I had a funeral to organise. A family to console. And alcohol to drink.

This routine continued for years. I lived in the shadows; secrets and half truths were my constant companions. I hid from the truth for it was a mirror that I did not wish to stare into, a reflection of the man I was becoming, the man I had become. And it was not a pretty sight. I did not like this person and did not want to confront the demons he was battling. So I did what all…

View original post 521 more words

Testimonial

I posted previously a poem about a three-legged spider – a possible children’s book.  The story is about a spider that starts life with all eight legs but fate keeps intervening and taking legs from the spider. Zeke troops right along without questioning life’s path. Little did I know, in real life, I’d be the Three-Legged Spider.

About a month ago, I was involved in a car accident. A single car accident – I had my arm out the window. Well, I don’t remember at all what happened but woke up in UT Hospital with some question as to whether my arm would survive. It didn’t. That was May 2nd, 2018.

Perspective changes when Life intervenes. Whether we think of this as God or fate or kismet or the cycle of life, it all equates the same.  Life speaks. Moreover, life listens. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t ask for life to amputate my hand.  But I’d been yearning for a change for a long time.

Life is about challenge. But I’m lazy. I suppose the Good Lord decided for me that being the three-legged spider might be just the change needed to adjust a growing negative attitude. Cynicism isn’t a symptom of the problem. It is the problem itself. And trust me when I say there was no bigger cynic than I.

During my hospital stay, there was no going back and forth between who I am and who I used to be. No questioning between a two-armed man and a one. The only question that presented itself was “Will I always be this positive?” Just as in the spider story, that’s really an answer that can’t be sought.

I don’t know how or what made me so positive after such trauma. Only that God is good. He will never give us more challenge than we can handle. And, should we ask for His help, we surely have the challenge licked! Why or how I became so positive, I just never questioned. It just happened. At its root however, I think God judged me. Literally. Because at one point in the crash, I died. The EMTs brought me back, I think. Nothing like a Divine Ultimatum! You may not like the verdict. Unless Jesus Christ is your lawyer.

Today, I’m weak – physically but by no means spiritually. I am in physical therapy for rehabilitation. I’m getting stronger by the day physically but I feel like a spiritual powerhouse. Makes me wonder if I’ll always have this steadfast foundation. Then again, God is real. In whatever way we understand Him.

I’ll leave you with this. They say, “Attitude is everything.” I say it’s more than everything. It’s literally all you have. All you are.  It affects every aspect of who are and where you’re going. Because, trust me, the malignant forces of the spiritual realm have no love, desire, or care for you. When you are absorbed into their blackness, they will blame you. Until they themselves perish.

Until next time, stay out of the shadows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accolade, Finally!

So, I apologize. I’ve been scarce lately. But, you know, life tends to happen. Often when you least expect it nor want it to. At any rate, I am back and will be back intermittently.

Now, I often don’t toot my own horn often because there’s not really much to toot about. Today however I have awesome news and would like to boast – an accolade. Finally someone apparently saw maybe either a bit of brilliance in my writing or they were just desperate to publish any trash that came along. I like to think it was the first. One of my short stores is being published. Crux Magazine, a nonprofit biannual magazine, has picked up a short story of mine. The story will be featured in their 02 issue later this year. It will be published under the pseudonym Glandon Kheller.

That’s my big news. Finally an accolade and recognition of my baffling brilliance – or bullshit. One or the other. Either way, I’m still not being paid for it. Take care, y’all. And see you in the pages of Crux!

14th of </3

Happy Heart Breaker’s Eve, y’all. Because many of us will wake up tomorrow and find ourselves painted into a loveless corner. All I can say is, I hope it’s by choice and not circumstance.

For all the guys out there, I hope to the lord above that have not ended up gushing over some gorgeous geisha only to be struck down and stuck inside . . . The Friend Zone. Yes, The Friend Zone – that dismal, lonely place full of blood-curdling screams of orgasmic ecstasy that you aren’t giving anyone. No, those screams are coming through the wall from your heavenly, gorgeous geisha roommate’s room – you know, that roommate you’ve been in love with for . . . ever – as she’s being pounded by the guy who doesn’t give two shits about her. Yet she loves him. “Oh, give me a fuckin’ break!”

Best friend guy 2Tell me, guys, does this resemble you? If so, guess what! Yes, you are best friend guy! The super bestie that she’s ever had and you will never, ever see her naked! Trust me, I’m an expert on “bestie”.

All is not lost, however. You can try any of the following:

A) Jump a train and ride the rails as a vagrant to a different state. Yes, leave your past behind. She’ll find another bestie, i.e. dupe who will never, ever see her naked.

B) Turn that frown upside down with a shit load of LSD. Yes, you can blitz your brain to the point of delirium and possible complete insanity. You’ll be so high you may never come down, which would definitely be preferable to hearing those blood-curdling screams through the walls all night long.

C) Drive your ’84 Subaru Hatchback right off a bridge. Go ahead, test the waters, literally. See if your little Subaru really is a “Sub” for short.

D) *Insert valiant heroic death here*

See? You do have choices this Heart Breaker’s Eve. You don’t have to be struck down and stuck in The Friend Zone. Until next time, don’t cry too loud. Your bestie in the other room may hear you. I’ll leave on this note from my favorite band Led Zeppelin. Take it away, boys . . .

Ugli-rrific!

 

source“Grand! Great! Thanks a lot!” These were the sarcastic words I’ve uttered since last night. I looked at both files in ePUB form of both books I’d published and, wouldn’t you know it – errors! Though, they were not my errors. The ePUB converter, for some triflin’ reason, didn’t convert the files correctly and some of the paragraphs weren’t indented. I checked my initial file on both works and my files are correct.

Needless to say, I deleted them from published status and may delete my Lulu account all together. I’ll start fresh at another online publisher – Create Space perhaps.

We’ll see. I may just randomly roll the dice and see where my book lands, publisher-wise. I’ve not given up, for sure. I will self-publish somewhere. And soon.

And on that note, off to find a site! Take care and until next post . . .