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DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 7

Chapter Seven 

I hated this place and every place like it—uniformity, mediocrity, everything so black and white, cold, and clinical. It had taken me a while to work up the nerve to make an appointment, but, according to the phone book listing, the initial intake was free. 

A woman called me in. It’s a face I can’t remember—except to say she looked average and seemed normal. She asked me to tell her about myself. She wanted to know what had prompted me to seek psychotherapy. 

My mind seemed to have emptied itself, leaving only an uncomfortable notion that I was uniquely unacceptable. I told her my name and my age, and then paused before speaking again. 

“I’m too honest,” I said. “I always tell people the truth even when I shouldn’t. If I don’t like something, and someone asks me if I like it, I can’t say I do, and I can’t talk to people I don’t like unless I really have to.” 

She smiled. “I see nothing wrong with that. It’s not uncommon for a young person to be blatantly honest. You’re becoming more and more aware of your feelings, and you want to make them known.” 

“I don’t think people like that honesty… or me,” I confessed. 

“Why?” she asked. 

“I don’t tell them what they want to hear.” 

“You will outgrow that. Or, rather, you will sort out what is appropriate and what isn’t and find a more comfortable way of dealing with people.” 

“I don’t know how to be myself.” 

That was true. All my life, people had referred to me as Joey’s sister, Robbie’s sister, or “one of those DeCorso kids.” By eighth grade, my classmates considered me a tough girl, though I didn’t fight. My brothers did. Once they were in high school, and I was still in middle school, a different Danielle emerged. I became a popular, gregarious type—in school, anyway. I enjoyed making others laugh. By the time I got to high school, I was befriending classmates the popular crowd shunned, perhaps because I knew a thing or two about being on the opposite end of that spectrum. If anyone knew the hearts of those quiet, fearful souls, it was me, and I wanted to use what power I had to put them at ease. 

I told the therapist about that, how I would invite them to eat with me, thinking I could end up an outcast, too, but it had the opposite effect. The others subsequently welcomed my new friends. While I had never expected that, I was glad. 

A different structure existed within the family dynamic. Whatever flaws I saw in those I held dear paled in comparison with their goodness, but I did not extend the same courtesy to myself. My flaws erased everything else about me. 

Quite possibly, it began with my barbaric entry into the world. I had arrived with my fists tightly clenched, looking more like a boxer than a baby, more like a boy than a girl, and ready to fight, rupturing membranes, and necessitating a C-section. A priest had administered Last Rites to my mother—Extreme Unction, as they called it, the Roman ritual that meant you were doomed. 

My first recollection is of lying face up in my playpen. I could see shadows. One seemed small, compared to the others, yet it signaled danger and instilled fear. The moment I became aware of its presence, hands assailed me … pulling, hitting, and hurting. A larger shadow would appear, scolding, “You were told to leave her alone.” 

It was as if I were witnessing my life from another plane. 

Years later, I asked my mother if Robbie or Joey had harassed me when I was a baby, though I felt strongly it was Robbie. I asked if she had scolded him and pulled him away. She said I’d imagined it all. 

“Sounds to me like you are a good person,” the therapist was saying. 

“Then I don’t need help?” 

“You do if you think you do, but something prompted you to come here today. You took a big step in doing that. Is there something else bothering you that you wanted to talk about?” 

“I don’t think so.” 

“Do you have hopes, Danielle? Dreams? Future plans?” 

“Yes,” I said. 

“Tell me about that.” 

I told her about my writing and my singing. 

She flashed a grin then said something nice and encouraging. That impressed me, so I tried to convey how those dreams kept me alive and how terrified I was that through the continuous horror and chaos that was life, those dreams might fade away. 

“You’re so young,” she said. “What’s the hurry?” 

Good thing I didn’t tell her I had initially hoped to achieve all of my goals before my seventeenth birthday—that, at one time, I vowed to kill myself if that didn’t happen. I don’t think I ever intended to do that, really, but I must have figured if it took much longer than that, I would be too old to enjoy my success. Where these absurd notions came from, I could only guess. I was drowning in my oblivion, and I thought these accomplishments would save me. 

What I did say was, “I think I’ll be writing until they decide to take the typewriter away from me and lay me to rest in my grave.” 

“Who are ‘they?’” she asked. 

I grew more nervous and lowered my eyes. “You know, I thought I was … I mean, I felt … I just get so … I don’t know. I seem to be fine now. I felt something was wrong. I get very depressed sometimes. This is so stupid. I shouldn’t have come here. There are enough people out there who know what’s wrong with them, and here I am. I don’t know what’s wrong, and I don’t even know what to say.” 

“Tell me about your family.” 

Something inside me caved. I had butterflies but not the happy sort. It was panic. I hesitated before saying, “There’s my mother, my father …” My eyes filled with tears. “I have two brothers.” I hesitated again. “Joey and …” A lump swelling in my throat made it difficult to speak. 

“Is there someone else?” 

I shook my head. 

“Take a deep breath.” 

I did and then broke down crying. “Robbie,” I said, “Oh, God, Robbie …” 

Deep concern filled the woman’s eyes now—and pity. It made me uncomfortable. 

“I think you should schedule an appointment for regular sessions,” she said. “Although, because you are a minor, you would need parental consent. I’d have to give you a form, and you’d have them sign it, then we can begin.” 

“No, I can’t do that.” I stood. 

“Unfortunately, we don’t have a choice.” 

“They think you only go to a shrink if you’re crazy or want to find out who’s to blame for your problems and, deep down, they’ll think whatever’s wrong with me is their fault. No, they can’t know. Isn’t there a way you can bend the rules? Or is there something I can sign to say I take full responsibility? I’m going to get a job, and I can pay myself …” 

She looked sympathetic while shaking her head. “I’ll give you my card. Please think about it, and if you decide to go ahead with their consent, give us a call. I think it would be a mistake if you didn’t.” 

I took the card knowing I would not call. It angered me that I was not entitled to help unless my parents agreed. All the relationships I had nurtured thus far in my life meant the world to me, and I cherished them in the only way I knew how. Oh, my … how I cherished them! It was a big part of why I worried so much. I felt unworthy of their love and feared losing them all. My instinct was always to take care of them, as if their needs were more important than my own. I fantasized about being rich and famous and buying them whatever they wanted, I suppose as some way to compensate for my inadequacy. 

Oddly enough, not once throughout the course of that therapy session did I mention what had happened with Phil and Sergio. I didn’t think about it. There was a little girl within me whose wails I ignored. On the surface, I was a DeCorso who would rather rebel and defy than admit defeat. People seemed to prefer that, anyway—that I bury it. It worked better for Farran, better for Angie. Maybe it worked for countless women who’d lived in places and times where you simply didn’t talk about those things. You picked yourself up, dusted yourself off, and trudged on. Except I was certain, at this point, that I was not okay. I felt lost. I didn’t like myself. I wanted nothing more than to be okay again and to feel normal. 

I had a dream that night. I was plummeting to the depths of something. It was a smooth, effortless decline in total blackness until I could feel a surface beneath me. People were talking to me. I smiled, wanting them to know I was okay and could hear them. In a subsequent dream, I saw angry eyes that changed from dark to light and then red, before flames began to burn in them with a fury. The eyes had no face or body. Though I didn’t recognize them, I wondered if they were a reflection of my parents when angered—or Robbie. They may have been the eyes of others who were angry with me. It may also have been me, I suppose, angry at the world. 

When I woke, however, all I could think about was Robbie. 

He was the brother who had looked for ladybugs and caterpillars with me in our yard. He watched me chase butterflies and elusive dandelion puffs that floated through the air. 

“They’re wish nicks,” he had explained. “You’re supposed to catch one in your hand and make a wish, then blow it away.” 

It felt like holding on to nothing, yet it saddened me to open my hand and watch it float farther and farther from my view. I didn’t want Robbie to be like that wish nick. It was a familiar longing I had. There seemed to be an ongoing risk of losing him in my life, resulting in this need I had to cling to him. 

Everything changed between Robbie and me after the wish nick phase, and it seemed to begin with a boy named Tommy Catalano. There was more to it, of course, but I knew Tommy was trouble the first time I laid eyes on him. 

I was four years old at the time, returning from the hospital with a black patch over my left eye, clutching my mother’s hand as we emerged from the car. We began our ascent up the staircase. Tommy headed toward us. He must have been eight or nine at the time. He passed and, after a few paces, turned around for another glance. It was a foreboding glare, and it chilled me to my core. 

“Come on,” my mother encouraged me. She shot him a fierce look and moved me along. 

When she wasn’t around, he made fun of my eye patch. He got other neighborhood kids to make fun of me, too. 

Admittedly, he was a good-looking kid, with his dark brown hair in a regulation school cut, his downward-slanting eyes an unusual light golden brown. The fierceness in his face always reminded me of a tiger. I sensed, however, that although he acted tough, it was some sort of camouflage—an omnipotent, unshakable external facade masking something dangerously fragile. Perhaps something had distorted his countenance, stripped him of his humanity. When he laughed, he looked pained. I would see anger in his amusement. 

He used to say my brothers and I should go back to wherever we came from with our spic mother. Robbie had told him at the time that we were born here and then called him a jackass. 

When, after numerous eye examinations, I was able to trade the dreadful patch for a pair of glasses, Tommy called me “Four Eyes.” 

Robbie had defended me, saying, “The doctors fixed Danielle’s eyes.” 

But Tommy said I was still ugly, and he taunted me until tears blinded me, something collapsed inside me, and I could no longer hear him. In retrospect, it seemed such a pitiful waste of energy and emotion—the extent of my humiliation perpetuated by some bully who likely harbored his own feelings of worthlessness. 

“He doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about,” my father said when I told him. “He’s a stupid jerk. Your eyes are straight, perfect, beautiful. When somebody like that says something to you, let it go in one ear and out the other.” 

“Don’t pay any attention,” my mother agreed. 

Joey told them Tommy never said anything when he was there, or he would have beaten the crap out of him. 

But all I wanted to know was why I had to wear glasses in the first place. 

My father looked at my mother, and Robbie’s eyes shifted from one face to the next. 

“You had what they call a lazy eye,” my mother said. “A lazy muscle in the left eye.” It didn’t escape me that both she and my father looked away, like they felt guilty or embarrassed. 

“Didn’t the surgery work?” Joey asked. 

My curious gaze shifted to him and then back to my mother again. 

“Of course,” she said, “but the doctor said there are no guarantees. She wants you to wear glasses to keep the eye straight, so it doesn’t go back or more in. If you don’t, your eyesight might get worse instead of better.” 

“I only have to wear them for a while, right? Like the patch?” 

“You have to wear them until the doctor says you don’t have to, and if she says you have to wear them all the time, then you wear them all the time.” 

“Forever?” 

“Whatever it is, it is.” 

“No!” I screamed. With a vigorous pull, the glasses were off. I heaved them upon the patterned linoleum and stomped on them until they’d shattered. 

I can’t forget the look of pain in my father’s eyes. 

Robbie shrieked, “Oh, my God, she broke them!” 

My father rose from his chair. He picked up all the pieces and set them aside, then moved toward the china cabinet. “I’m going to show you something,” he said. He opened a side drawer. There was another tiny pair of glasses in there. “Those are yours,” he revealed. “We bought them, just in case. But I’m not gonna make you wear them. I’m not gonna force you. They will be right here in this drawer.” He lifted them to show me, and then placed them down again. “If you don’t wanna wear them, you don’t touch them. Okay?” 

I nodded, tears streaming. 

Robbie seemed shocked. “But she has to wear them!” 

My father clenched his teeth. “And how’s she gonna wear them if she breaks them again?” 

“The doctor said it’s like water,” my mother said. “If you’re thirsty, you’ll drink. Or like medicine: If you need it, you’ll take it.” 

It surprised me that the decision was up to me, but, for the moment, I was satisfied with my choice. 

“You know if you don’t take your medicine, you get sick and die,” Robbie hounded me. 

“So? I’m not sick.” 

“You’re supposed to be wearing your glasses!” 

“So?” 

“So the doctor said you’re gonna go blind if you don’t.” 

“I am not.” 

“Are too!” 

“Am not!” 

Now, I don’t know when exactly it happened, but Robbie went from defending my honor to laughing at me alongside Tommy Catalano. It was as if he’d reached inside of me and ripped my heart out, along with the rest of my insides, leaving a mere hollow cave behind. He had set about trying to convince others that something was wrong with me. In all fairness, I think he believed that to be true. 

At seven and eight, I’d spent hours drawing pictures, mostly of children. I’d cut them out, so that each one was an individual on a rectangular slip of paper, and I named each one. 

“She’s drawing her little girls again,” my father would say to my mother. 

“They are not all girls,” I told him. “There are boys, too, and some of them are teachers.” 

“She puts them in rows like school, and she talks to them,” Robbie tattled. “She thinks she’s the teacher, and they are her class.” 

He seemed ashamed of me, and I got the feeling my behavior was worrisome to my parents as well. 

“That makes it easier for me to study and do my homework,” I explained. It was a strategy I had devised to break the monotony of giving my attention to something I didn’t enjoy. Otherwise, it bored me to a level I couldn’t bear. 

My pretend game worked with buttons, too. I collected them from my aunt Zuza and my grandmother. Concentrating on mundane tasks never got easier, but I would learn to devise other strategies. 

My brothers, on the other hand, broke the monotony of life by fighting with other kids. It was par for the course to see one of them throwing someone into a pile of bushes or up against a wall. Adults told their kids that my brothers were crazy, and to keep away from them. I often hid on them myself. 

As far as Robbie was concerned, I was the crazy one. I think he had a sense that I relished fantasy far more than reality, and that it was not merely an extended phase but very much a part of my nature. He would tell the other kids, “Oh, she’s retarded.” There were times he summoned friends, siblings, and cousins to his room and locked the door. They would be in there talking and laughing, and I would be on the other side, wondering how I’d managed to get myself placed outside the sphere of acceptability. 

When Robbie was nice, he was irresistible. Though I could never interest him in all the writing I did, he praised my singing voice. We would listen to albums on the stereo in his room. We played a game where we took turns singing and acting out songs. I was ten and beginning to realize that music had an incredible power to lift me. Over the years, I grew to love Bach right along with Led Zeppelin. Christmas hymns during the holidays moved me to tears now, while, year round, I enjoyed gothic rock bands like the Cure, Bauhaus, and Christian Death. 

At age eleven, I continued to play with dolls. Angie and I often sat on the rug in my room or hers with our Barbie dolls and their dream houses. 

Robbie would wander in bellowing, “God, are you ever going to grow up?” 

It broke my heart to think I might have to let my dolls go in exchange for more complicated things, but that’s exactly what happened in the fall of ‘82.

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

TIME FOR HOPE AND PEACE OF MIND

The following article by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes resonated with me. I found it very uplifting and beautiful. With all the unsettling events as of late, I wanted to share it. (For me, it doesn’t mean we won’t call attention to the problems we face or fight the good fight but that we don’t have to feel hopeless or powerless. Of course, too, we may have different perceptions of a higher power or the highest power, but the message is the same.❤️)

We Were Made for These Times by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall.

When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.”~Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Feature photo by jplenio from Pixabay

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 6

Chapter Six 

It was Friday—the end of our first school week. Angie and I were officially seniors. Farran was unequivocally a college girl, and she insisted we celebrate by going to Marauders Cove. She borrowed her mom’s old Fairmont Futura, and, by 7:30 p.m., we were on our way to New Haven—a fifty-minute drive on I-91 South. 

Marauder’s Cove was near the harbor on the north side of the Long Island Sound, where a powerful glow enduringly beckoned from a lighthouse on Southwest Ledge, about a mile offshore. Through the fog and mist, and through many torrential downpours, that monumental structure seemed to beam in all of its glory. For me, it was a symbol of hope. 

After parking in the lot, we peeked through the pub’s large window, which provided a view of patrons on corner stools at the end of a long bar. You could see who was at the front end or at any of the small tables parallel to the bar. We went inside, turning one head after another. 

Chocolate-colored paneled walls and wood-plank flooring gave the place a cozy cabin ambiance. There were tables parallel to the bar and more in the back, where framed baseball teams and logo prints lined the walls, and a large anchor hung in their midst. The kitchen was at the farthest end, and I could smell yummy burgers on the grill. 

To be honest, I wanted to drink myself into oblivion, if there was such a state, and wash away every lingering bit of mortification. My plan, however, was to have one or two, and that would keep me on guard. 

The first person we ran into was Billy McGrath. He was alone at the bowling machine, drinking beer. It was hard not to recognize him—all clean-cut and as preppy as in his high school glory days, his light brown hair in a classic taper cut. He had to be about twenty-two. His body looked admirably compact in its five-foot-nine-inch frame. 

We went over to say hello. Farran asked a million questions. We learned he had a job installing security alarm systems and a nice one-bedroom apartment in North Branford. She asked about his family. 

He said everyone was doing well, and then his pale blue eyes were on me. “I know you.” He bowled an easy strike and leaned back. 

I figured he would. “I’m Joey’s sister, Danielle.” 

“You were dating my little brother, Mike, a couple of years back.” 

“How is he?” I asked longingly. “Last I heard, he was captain of the football team.” 

“Yup, and made the local paper.” Billy knocked down eight pins with his next turn. “He’s living down south with his wife and kid. They’re with her folks in Tennessee, trying to cut costs.” 

Crushed as I was by this news, I knew I had broken Mike’s heart. I hadn’t even started high school when we were a thing, and I felt suffocated, so I ended it. 

Farran spoke up. “You won’t blow our covers, Billy, will you?” She told him she had proof for twenty-one. 

He glanced in the direction of the bar. “My Uncle Tully owns this place. He’s not here now, but when he’s here, man … he won’t serve any of you.” 

“What about the guy who’s on duty?” she asked. 

My gaze followed hers to the middle-aged man with dark, slicked-back hair who stood behind the bar.  

“That’s Steve,” Billy said. “To be honest, I don’t know if he would or not.” 

Farran motioned for Angie and me to accompany her. Steve checked our ID’s and served us without hesitation. On a whim, I paid for the drinks.  

Another McGrath headed in our direction—Shannon. She did a double take when I called her name. “Oh, my goodness … Danielle!” 

I remembered Shannon McGrath as a fresh-faced, freckled, and ginger-haired girl with a joyous, melodious laugh. She was twenty now, and she evidently labored to tease her shoulder-skimming, layered cut for the big hair effect. The sculpted brows were new, like the makeup she wore to dramatize her grayish blue eyes. Despite these efforts, she had porcelain skin and cherubic cheeks that betrayed her youth. She towered over me in her high heels, appearing confident and comfortable in tight clothes that accentuated her curvy form. When she reached out for a hug, I hugged back. 

Stepping away, she marveled. “God, look at you, you’re gorgeous! You have this exotic look with the high cheekbones, and look at this amazing figure! Jesus, what do you eat?” 

Angie replied on my behalf. “She has an apple and a can of Diet Pepsi for lunch every day.” 

“Are you serious?” Shannon’s smile was infectious. 

“I bring a tuna fish sandwich on Fridays,” I divulged, “and I more than make up for it at dinner.” 

“Oh, well, thank goodness! I’m glad.” She laughed, shaking her head. “Well, you’re fine. You should eat.” 

“You remember Angie, right?” I wasn’t sure. 

“Yes, I do!” She hugged her as well, then Farran, and zeroed in again on me. “It’s so nice to see you all! Tell me everything! The last time I saw you was years ago, back in the old neighborhood. You told me you wrote fairy tales.” 

“Yeah, when I was eight.” I blushed, I’m sure. 

Angie glanced at me, smiling.“I remember that! And now she wrote a book.” 

Shannon appeared lost in amazement. “A book!” 

Farran redirected the conversation. “Shannon, how do you like living in New Haven, compared to East Hartford?” 

“I live in East Haven,” she said.“I have for the last couple of years, but I waitress nights at a club around here.” 

She waved for us to follow her and then urged us to join Billy in his bowling game. Along with the McGrath siblings, I was on a lucky streak and bowling strikes, so I was happy, animated, and jumping up and down. Then Billy started going on about some gang called the “Lynx” and Shannon’s romantic involvement with one of them. 

Farran asked who the Lynx were, and his small, never-fluctuating eyes fell upon me. “Ask her brother.” 

“My brother?” I was confused. 

“Your brother will be one soon, if he’s not already. He’s in tight with the Castel brothers.” 

I savored every swallow of my drink. It loosened me up, and it felt good. It made all the humiliation, all the pain, go away. “What kind of gang?” 

“He’s talking about their biker gang,” Shannon replied. 

“Aptly named, since Lynx are wildcats,” Billy added. He looked at Angie. “Your turn.” 

Angie cracked up. “My turn! I’m in last place. I don’t know why I bother going at all.” 

We all laughed. 

“So who are members of the Lynx?” Farran asked. “Tell me.” 

“Hang around. You’ll see.” Billy took a hearty swig of his beer. “Man, they’re not fucking gods to me. Excuse the language. You always gotta watch what you say about them and who you say it to. If any of the Lynx is in trouble, they’re all there. They stick together. What, I should be grateful I get a nod from them while most of the patrons, regular customers for years, are ignored?” He took another swig and looked toward the door. “Speak of the devils … here comes the leader of the pack.” 

We followed his gaze to a tall figure bustling confidently through the crowd. The guy looked more like a glam metal rock star than a biker and was clad in a sleeveless, black-studded vest, tight jeans, and boots, his magnificent head of dark hair falling two inches below his shoulders. I thought I’d have to pick up Farran’s jaw—and Angie’s. 

Farran was salivating. “Damn! Is he drop-dead gorgeous or what?” 

“Enough to make you forget Dave Navarro and every single one of The Lost Boys,” Angie concurred.“I mean, those cheekbones, too—like they were sculpted to perfection!” 

He was svelte more than herculean, with a well-toned physique that included muscular biceps adorned with tattoos. I figured him to be six-foot-one, and in his early twenties. 

“Wait,” Farran said, glancing at Shannon. “Is that the guy you’re seeing?” 

“Who, Valentin?” Shannon giggled. “Uh, wait a minute. Come with me.” 

Farran, Angie, and I followed as she led us to Valentin and hugged him. 

He hugged her tight in return. 

“This is Valentin,” she said.“I go out with his brother, Nico, but he and I are close friends.” During the subsequent introductions, she provided my full name. 

“Ah, Joey’s sister,” he acknowledged. 

I could see the tattoo on his left arm was a dragon. On his upper right arm, he had what appeared to be a king cobra amid a myriad of roses and flames. 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” I said. 

“The pleasure is mine,” he returned. 

His dark eyes drew me in with their formidable intensity. I felt a chill in their power to seduce without effort. It was as if his soul was burning, and I could see its fire through the darkness. It forced me to look away. 

Ironically, turning to Shannon, he remarked, “She has the most beautiful eyes.” I thought he spoke with an accent—a hint of Spanish, but I detected other undecipherable influences. 

He exchanged cordialities with Angie and Farran, minus the compliment, and turned to Shannon again. “What’s your darling cousin up to?” 

“She’s missing you,” Shannon replied. “Give her a call or stop by to see her.” 

He said he would, and then made his way over to the jukebox. I didn’t know where Shannon went then, but Farran made a beeline for the jukebox. It was close enough that I could hear their exchange. 

Using the sweet, Southern-accented voice she could turn on and off at will, she asked him to play Gregory Abbott’s “Shake You Down.” Well, she was from Biloxi, Mississippi before her family moved to Florida—Fort Walton Beach. 

I knew Valentin had obliged when the song came on. 

“Are you in a band?”she asked him. 

He seemed preoccupied, looking at the song titles. “No, I’m not.” 

“You look like you are.” 

He glanced at her and laughed, then walked off. 

Passing Angie and me, he flashed a polite smile—white, warm, and gracious, with a small chip on the front left incisor. I couldn’t help noticing a studded and spiked leather wrap and silver jewelry—a pendant and a bracelet. 

Farran returned and resumed gushing over him. “Oh, man, look at his ass in those jeans. Perfect shape, and so tight.” 

“Will you stop?” I had to say it. 

“He smells great, too,” she went on. “I think he wears Antaeus. Do you think he likes me? I mean, do you think he found me attractive?” 

“I don’t see why he wouldn’t,” I replied, “but for all you know, he could be married. He could even be gay.” 

“Bite your tongue! That man is not gay, and he’s too young to be married.” 

“No, he’s a few years older than Mike, and before I knew Mike was married, the only married people I knew were related to me or my teachers.” 

“He’s got a hell of a package down there, too.” 

“I can’t believe you!” I had to contain myself so I wouldn’t shout. “What … did you bring a measuring tape?” 

Angie laughed her ass off, but I was mortified, wondering if any of the guys in the bar noticed Farran looking at Valentin’s various parts. I barely had the nerve to look below their chins or at their hands for a ring. It would never have occurred to me to look below their belts. 

“You’re insane!” I said. 

As for Valentin, he was alone all of three minutes before a trio of women crowded him. They obviously knew him but seemed brazenly flirtatious in clamoring for his attention. I caught a glimpse of Billy watching and shaking his head. One of the women ran her fingers through Valentin’s hair. Her gesture exhibited a peculiar reverence. She gazed into his eyes with such longing that he looked sympathetic, as if wanting to comfort her. After a few moments, he looked away. Perhaps he remembered something, or something else caught his attention. He left soon after that. In fact, Joey had arrived as he was leaving, and they interacted briefly in the doorway. 

I wrote the script in my mind. Valentin could have taken advantage of the woman who seemed to adore him. I imagined she ached for him so pathetically that she would have allowed him to destroy her in every conceivable way. He was used to the attention and adulation but not quite sure how to handle it. I was certain of that, and I could relate. 

Billy approached us. “Be careful of Lord Hades,” he warned. “He can be very charming.” 

Farran raised a brow. “Lord Hades?” 

“Yes, that’s my name for Valentin. He’s the king of the underworld, as in hell. Don’t let him fool you. He’s another hothead like the rest of his band of brothers.” 

“Oh, bullshit!” The remark came from Joey, who had unexpectedly joined our circle. 

Billy didn’t back down. “No? Take a look at the jewelry he wears.” 

“You mean the Celtic bracelets?”That was Shannon, who now greeted my brother with a hug and a kiss. 

“All the tribal gothic shit. I’m waiting for the skulls and bat heads.” 

“I didn’t see skulls or bat heads,” Angie said innocently. “I did see a cross—” 

“Yeah, probably the Viking Wolf Cross. Don’t think it’s any kind of representation of Christ, because, according to him, he’s a pagan.” 

“What do you do, McGrath, study him?” Joey was smiling. 

“I absolutely do not study him,” Billy replied, “but I have learned a lot about him—being that he knocked up my cousin, Katharine, and will leave her heart in pieces. Katharine, by the way, is married to Valentin. He’s got two kids now. And here’s the best part. He wants out. He wants out of the marriage, yet he lets her pal around with him out of the goodness of his heart, I suppose, or so she’ll never get over him. You’ll notice she wears the ring. He doesn’t.” 

“You know, there’s a thing called minding your own business,” Joey said. 

“Wait, why would Valentin have to represent Christ if he’s not a Christian?” Angie asked. 

Billy shook his head. “Well, I don’t care what he claims to be. In my opinion, if he’s not on God’s team, there’s only one other team.” 

Joey laughed loudly. “So you’re saying Valentin’s on Satan’s team?” 

“Laugh all you want,” Billy maintained, “but what he wears—occultism is being represented.” 

Shannon tried to make peace. “Why do you all have to fight? Billy, there are a lot of people in this world who are not Christian. It doesn’t mean they’re not good people.” 

Billy shook his head. “He has you and God knows how many others jumping to defend his agenda, whatever that may be.” 

“And what is yours, McGrath?” Joey asked. “Character assassination?” 

“All I see of Valentin is a kind person,” Farran said. 

“You see what he wants you to see.” Billy walked off. 

Joey eyed us now, one by one. “Now for the million-dollar question. What the hell are you three doing here?” 

“Visiting you,” I teased. 

“I don’t think I like you being here.” His eyes were on me then shot to Angie. “Or you …” 

“They’ll be fine,” Farran assured him. 

“Do you trust me?” I asked. 

“I do trust you.” He looked at Farran and flashed an enormous grin that encompassed everything from guileless youth to mischievous lad. “Hey, Farran, don’t be corrupting my innocent cousin or my sister.” 

“If you are worried about anyone corrupting them, worry about your Lynx buddies,” Billy quipped, passing by again. 

“Me?” Farran looked surprised. 

“You got ideas,” Joey said.“Just remember—whatever you three do, I’ll be watching. As for you, McGrath, shut the fuck up.” 

“Don’t press your luck, DeCorso,” Billy snapped. “I can get you all barred, and you know it. Stop fucking with me.” 

Joey laughed. 

We didn’t stay long after that, but during the long ride home, Farran wouldn’t shut up about Valentin. “So Katharine Jaeger is his wife? I can’t believe it.” 

We’d met Katharine back in the early eighties. She was a blonde beauty who seemed to fascinate every male in sight. 

“Yeah,” Angie said, “and just when you want to ask, does he have a brother? The brother is with Shannon. That pretty much sucks, but she’s happy and deserves to be. I’m happy about that.” 

“And Shannon’s not even a pretty girl,” Farran replied. “I mean, her face isn’t that pretty. Her front teeth stick out a little. Oh, I can see how she’s attractive. I mean she has those big tatas, and that’s partly because she’s a tad overweight. Then, she just has this personality that’s larger than life—” 

“She is pretty.” I said, “She looks great. But you should be careful throwing yourself at Valentin. He’s still married, and besides that, he could be dangerous.” 

“Dangerous!” Farran laughed. 

“Well, you don’t know him.” 

“Darling, nobody knows anybody until they do,” she said. “Life is about taking chances. You win some, you lose some, but if you don’t play, you get zip, nada, and may as well be dead.” 

I kind of felt like I was. 

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 5

Chapter Five 

Glastonbury, on the banks of the Connecticut River, was a heartwarming sight whatever the season. It often managed to console my anguish and somewhat ease my discomfort. 

On this day, however, during the five-minute walk to Angie’s house, I glanced several times over my shoulder, fearing that those two creeps could show up anywhere. Their black sedan had circled my house a few times, but not in the past half hour. They continued to call. 

The fear subsided as I reached Hebron Avenue and caught sight of Angie moseying toward me. We waved at each other, smiling. Whatever I had felt before now changed to invigorating hope and giddy delight. The new school year would soon begin. Beginnings were important in constituting an end, and I needed an end to that summer of 1987. With Angie by my side, I could easily embrace another glorious New England fall—changing colors, falling leaves, and farms brimming with apples, pumpkins, and cornstalks. Christmas wouldn’t be far behind, and in that wondrous season, trees, wreaths, and apple cider would replace the early fall offerings at the farm stands. 

We walked along Hebron, turning down Manchester Road, and then onto Brook Street, near the bog. I told her everything that had happened with Robbie, with my dad, and with Joey the night before. She sympathized. 

It was hard not to monopolize the conversation with Angie, as she seemed to prefer listening. If I tried to keep an even flow, there would be many lulls. My questions, asked often out of guilt, weren’t likely to elicit a loquacious reply, and, aside from that, I needed to talk. Admittedly, there was this desperate madness at times—wanting to get it all out. The impetus of the moment was what had happened with Sergio and Phil. She shut the discussion down, asking about my book. 

“The agent sent me a six-page critique,” I told her. “It came in the mail today.” 

“Is that good?” she asked. 

“Well, I have a lot of work to do,” I said, “but they were encouraging.” 

Our leisurely stroll continued to a place we had loved since the days of our childhood. It was home to the ruins of a wool factory that had existed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The surrounding woodlands were full of towering hemlock, white pine, and oak. We took the longer trail along the west side of the brook. Wind bustled lustily through the trees, and I could hear the rushing water of the brook up ahead. The brook, like a purposeful rainstorm, awakened my ears and silenced my soul. It was as alive as the singing birds. Its steady flow created an illusion of abundance, infinite beauty … eternal good. It didn’t matter that hikers and lovers passed, or that families strolled along the same paths. It was the enchanted forest of my dreams. 

We did a lot of walking and climbing on rocks and then poked around the partial gray brick structures of the stone ruins, where a broken window hung. 

“It helps to talk,” I said. “You can talk to me about anything.” 

“I know I can,” she replied without looking at me. 

We walked through the door of the structure. 

“Are you all right?” I asked. 

She continued to look away. “Yeah … are you?” 

“Sometimes.” 

“Everything’s going to be okay, Dani.” 

We sat on the remnants of the dam wall—on the rocks overlooking the marshes—and watched the ducks in the stream. 

Angie started to cry. 

As I turned and hugged her, we both cried. We held each other in that state for several minutes. 

“I was terrified, Angie,” I said. 

She let go. “Dani—” 

“Most of the time, I didn’t know where you were.” 

“I don’t remember.” 

“I don’t remember everything either, but—” 

“No, I don’t remember a nightmare experience or fighting anyone. I remember going to the beach in their car, walking around Pleasure Beach, having fun, and then we went home. They drove us.” 

My heart sank. It ached and pounded in such a way that it terrified me. 

I had gone over it in my mind many times, the parts I could remember. 

The room was a blur. Sergio had lifted me in his arms and carried me to the bedroom. It felt like a dream. I was present and then not present, slipping in and out of consciousness. Screaming and crying, I fought, but I visualized someone else fighting, as if I had separated myself from my body, and the person lying there was not me. Other times, it appeared I had surrendered while the terror, chaos, and confusion continued to swirl violently in the inner recesses of my mind. I fought so hard that I was sure my hymen remained intact—having seen no blood after all. Maybe I made it too difficult for them, or perhaps they felt sorry for me. Either way, I held on to that with all of my heart. 

My father often talked about incidents of rape on the news. He had lamented, more than once, that pressing charges would put the girl on trial and not the guilty person. He said the lawyers tried to make her look like a tramp so the bastard would get off. 

I struggled now with what to say to Angie. 

“Remember when they went to the concession stand at the pavilion, and we were waiting for them?” 

“Yeah …” 

“They got soda for themselves and us, too.” 

“I remember that.” 

“When they gave us the sodas, the cans were open, and they wiped the tops. I thought they were trying to be gentlemen, but they must have put something in the sodas.” 

“I only remember walking around the beach and having a great time.” 

A great time on the beach—these words stung. My mind’s association with beach days had shifted from joyful, carefree memories to regret. I fully realized that Angie and I felt empathy where others could not, but it never occurred to me that we were so naïve. My sinking heart shattered. 

“I’m not crazy.” 

“No, no, I know you’re not.” 

“If you don’t remember what I remember, why are you crying?” 

“I don’t know!” She wiped a tear. “I want to help. I don’t know how. You remember things no one else can remember, like from when you were little, just a baby. You remember all these details from a long time ago—astonishing details about every room you’re in, every person you meet, and I believe what you say. I know you. I trust you. You’re not just a cousin to me. You’re like my sister.” 

My lips parted to answer, but a lump swelled in my throat. I wondered how I could shield her from harm, how I could save her from any and all pain. Something told me to say no more, yet I often wished that I had. 

Confused as I was, I, too, wanted to forget. I wanted the voices of those two predators out of my head, as I did not intend to relinquish anything further for their gratification. 

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

Roger Daltrey: My Story – Thanks a lot Mr. Kibblewhite

I had Roger Daltrey’s poster on my wall as a kid. My father tore it down nonchalantly when he decided to panel the walls. He didn’t think my sister, who shared the room with me, or I would mind. But, we did. He left the beautiful poster crumpled up in a ball on the floor!🤣

I cried and did a little foot-stomping. The Who was one of our favorite bands. We loved the movie Tommy and the collection of songs from the rock opera that preceded it. I always thought it was the work of a genius, and that genius was Pete Townshend, the band’s legendary guitarist. His other works were phenomenal as well, and seeing Roger bring Tommy to life on screen was incredible. I’ll confess; I had a mad crush on him.

As you can imagine, by the time my sister and I got to see the band in concert, it was so powerful and emotional, I was in tears. My heart was just exploding with joy. 

Now, I happen to love a good juicy memoir. When I say juicy, I don’t mean in terms of sex but information. Curiosity, I guess, but I do enjoy learning about people and things.

I didn’t know much about the band members beyond Keith’s self-destructive path, resulting in his death and Pete’s arrest for downloading child porn. (Pete was found innocent and cleared of the charges.) Roger tells that story in his book. He is a fantastic storyteller, and his collaborator did an excellent job helping him put it all together. Reading about his experience, I learned a lot more about music and what bands go through. Being a lover of music who could only dream about singing on stage, I found it fascinating. Reading about the sixties and seventies has always been exciting to me, too. If I could transport back in time to get there, I’d take the chance in a heartbeat.

So, in my assessment, Thanks a lot Mr. Kibblewhite is a fast-paced read and thoroughly enjoyable. Fans of The Who will love it. I got so into it that I had to watch a bunch of their live shows on YouTube. I wanted to observe each of them individually and collectively. (Yeah, when I’m watching or reading something good, I am obsessed.) They blow me away now more than they ever had! All of them were beautiful and brilliant— topnotch musicians and showmen.

I will say I can’t entirely agree with everything Roger says in his book. For instance, he thinks fidelity should not end a marriage. That might have been debatable at the peak of his fame, but to say that after the 80s? He’s had children with women he played with on the road, so he wasn’t too concerned about protection. In terms of awareness advocacy, I’d be remiss not to say I’m glad he and his wife never had to suffer the consequences. 

Other than that, I admire Roger Daltrey and respect him. At 5’6, the man’s presence was (and likely still is) enormous. It seemed to me he was not only grounded and a tough guy, especially with his anti-drug stance but also vulnerable and emotional. What happened to Keith and John—and even the troubles Pete had— broke Roger’s heart. He seemed to have tremendous empathy for them, even though their antics had a detrimental effect on the band, in general, and individually.

 One thing struck me while reading about his depression after the series of tragedies. He wrote: 

 “We hadn’t been able to grieve after John’s death. We had just pushed on through that intense tour and then, only weeks after we’d got home, before we could process it all, Pete was arrested and all our lives got turned upside down. In the face of a sustained crisis your brain stops coping. It shuts down to protect your heart.”

 That was sort of an a-ha moment for me because this happened to several people I love and me, too. As simple as it may seem, it is deeply profound. In fact, after reading that, it helped me help someone else. 😉

Roger Daltrey shows, throughout this writing, that he’s capable of admitting his mistakes and learning from them. In my book, people like that are a treasure. Thank you, Roger, for sharing your fascinating story and thought-provoking words of wisdom. If I was a fan before, I’m more of a fan after finishing your book. ❤️

Roger Daltrey: Thanks a lot Mr Kibblewhite

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 4

Chapter Four 

When I went to bed that night, disconcerting thoughts and concerns had led to what seemed a foreboding nightmare. 

Though the light was off, my room remained lit in the dream as I slept. Opening my bleary eyes, I noticed water stains on the ceiling. They were ugly stains—the color of urine—and I thought I should see if they were wet, indicating a leak somewhere. A ladder was there for my convenience. As I scaled its rungs, I heard the distant voice of a woman calling my name. I didn’t recognize the voice, but it echoed like we were in a cave. She called again. Her tone seemed neutral, and yet reeked of deception. Disregarding her, I continued my climb, reaching the second highest rung. The water stains I had observed were now splashes of blood. As I turned slightly to climb down, the ceiling began to crack. My heart pounded, and I stumbled, attempting to decline. An unsightly hand reached through the crack and grabbed me. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t shake its tenacious grip on my arm. I told myself it was over. It seemed evident that I’d lost whatever battle this was. 

Awake now, I tried to sort out what the dream meant. In my interpretation, confusion prevailed as to what was real and what wasn’t. When the world around me was light, it appeared dark. It was light when I sought to fade into darkness. Something had tarnished me—something ugly. I bled anguish. People reached out, offering the nurturing I craved, but then yanked it away. Locked in this unyielding fear, there was a sense that no one could intervene, and that no one ever would. I felt defeated in my struggle to rise from despair, thwarted at every turn. In that frightful moment of my nightmare, I was alone, same as I felt these days while fully awake. 

I managed to drift off to sleep again, only to awaken once more to the sound of Robbie’s voice. 

“I killed the baby,” he was saying. “It happened so fast.” 

Oh, my dear Robbie … it had only been a few years since that night he’d woke me up, insisting there were naked people climbing all over the walls in his room. He said they were beckoning him. 

Joey had lived here at the time and had rushed into Robbie’s room. 

“Robbie’s having a bad dream,” I told him. 

“It’s not a dream!” Robbie swore to it. 

“You think they’re real, but they’re not. Look, you’re gonna wake everyone up.” 

“Maybe we should wake everyone up,” Joey said. 

“They’re still there,” Robbie maintained. 

Joey told him no one was there, but he didn’t believe it, so I offered to lie beside him and talk to him until he fell asleep. We were up most of the night. Joey came in several times to check on us. In the morning, I glimpsed Robbie’s face as he slept. It was the face of pure innocence, as though none of it had ever happened, and as if everything bad had faded with the darkness. 

I hurried to his room now, aware that his chatter about killing a baby was not part of my nightmare or any past recollection. His mattress was smoldering, and when I flipped on the light, he was standing there as if in a trance. 

“I thought I killed the baby,” he said. 

I raced to get a bucket and fill it with water. “Help me,” I beseeched him as I dumped the contents of the bucket onto the mattress. I made several trips back and forth before he snapped out of it and began to assist me. 

“What happened?” I asked. “Were you smoking in bed?” 

I urged him to help me get the scorched mattress down the stairs and out of the house. How I thought we would manage the situation without my father’s help, I’ll never know, but I feared that man’s wrath. 

He came out of his room, my mother trailing, holding her robe closed. 

“I smell smoke!” my father bellowed. 

I thought of the “fee-fi-fo-fum” giant in “Jack and the Beanstalk” who smelled the Englishman’s blood. 

After I explained, my father took charge, dragging the mattress to the woodlot.  

“I’ll deal with that thing in the morning,” he said upon his return. He yelled at Robbie. “Where the hell would you get the crazy idea to smoke in bed? Did you ever see anyone here do such a stupid thing? Do you think I’m buying you a new mattress?” 

“It’s okay,” Robbie said. “I’m leaving for Florida Sunday.” 

“You can go right now and go burn down the whole goddamn state of Florida, for all I care. Robert, you’re eighteen years old. If you don’t know better by now, when will you?” 

“I’m sorry,” he said. “When I get a job in Florida, I’ll send you money for the mattress. I can sleep on the couch tonight.” 

“No, you will not!” my father shouted. “Go stay at a hotel or sleep in the street or go sleep outside on the mattress you ruined!” 

“Come on, it was an accident,” my mother pleaded. 

My dad shifted his gaze to her. “And how’s he supposed to learn?” He looked at Robbie again. “All right then, give me the cigarettes and go sleep in the basement. There’s an old sleeping bag in one of the closets there.” 

“Are you serious?” Robbie asked. “What is the point of that? That makes no sense.” 

I gave him a gentle push toward the curved, carpeted stairway. “I’ll help him find the sleeping bag,” I said. 

I had always dreaded going down to that basement alone, and I surely wouldn’t have slept there. Most of the rooms in our house had a refined, almost imperial, look with their dark-paneled walls, vaulted ceilings, and crown moldings. The basement door seemed to bar us from a contrasting world. 

The switch at the top of the stairs cast only a dim light upon the stairwell. When I was alone, I’d descend with a frantic urgency to pull the switch near the bottom of the stairs. It would cast only another dim light. 

“Don’t worry, I’ll stay with you until we think of something,” I said as we descended. 

Robbie clenched his teeth.“He’s out of his fucking mind.” 

“You’re lucky,” I told him. “He had his explosion before you got here.” I shivered, as it was cold down there, always, despite the paneled walls. An antique marble fireplace that had all the elaborate gilding my mother loved was the first thing we saw, but it was fake and purely for ambiance. 

Robbie’s curious eyes widened. “What are you talking about, Dan? What did he explode about?” 

“He got mad at Joey for cutting an apple. He thought he was going to cut the tablecloth, and he went nuts.” 

“Oh.” 

“Yeah, it’s probably why you’re still alive.” 

Robbie laughed. “You think he would kill me?” 

“I don’t know.” I told him the rest of the story, and he agreed with Joey that my father wouldn’t likely kill anyone. 

He evidently had a bigger concern. “Does he really think I’m gonna sleep in this dungeon?” 

With its many ominous doors, it did look like a dungeon. “Yeah, I always feel like someone’s watching me here.” 

I glanced at the long extension table. My father once told us that my grandfather liked to sit there alone in the dark, drinking wine from a goblet, smoking, and making weird whistling noises. My grandmother maintained he still did. 

In old home movies and photographs, my grandfather was a silver-haired, clean-shaven image of my father with a broader face, deeper lines, and wrinkles. Joey told me he’d been a dockworker in Brooklyn who’d had a bunch of mob friends in New York. Joey always believed he’d gotten involved in some of their shady dealings, come into some money, and then bought the house in Glastonbury. He died weeks before I was born. 

“Grandma hears footsteps when she’s down here,” Robbie said now, “and they don’t come from upstairs. She thinks they’re Grandpa’s footsteps. She hears floors creaking when she’s alone in the house, and all this rapping and banging. She says she hears music, too, and Grandpa calling her.” 

“I think she just misses him.” 

“Are you kidding? Who would miss that monster?” 

“Shush!” I hushed him. 

“Why? Do you think he’ll hear?” He laughed. 

“How come it’s not happening while we’re down here?” 

He shrugged. “Maybe he’s waiting until you’re all by yourself like he waits for Grandma to be by herself. I heard he was really mean. He abused Grandma. He was always yelling at her, making fun of her, calling her names. The old geezer was even locked up in Cedarcrest for a while.” 

I shook my head. I had never been sure what the deal was with Cedarcrest. It was in Newington, an old place in the woods left in ruins. Robbie insisted it was an insane asylum. I read that it had been a psychiatric facility, but not until years after my grandfather died. My father told us it was initially a sanatorium for treating patients with tuberculosis and other incurable illnesses. 

“Remember the spookhouse events we held in this creepy cellar?” Robbie asked. 

“Yeah, the ones we’d set up down here with no adult permission or supervision.” 

“I was always hoping that ghoulish fiend would make an appearance.” 

“Oh yeah, I bet you were.” I rolled my eyes. 

It was odd, since we’d had parties down here for the first several years of my life. There was a paneled bar across from the table that had seemed alive with guests on the New Year’s Eves of my early childhood. Left dark now, it looked like an abandoned old relic. 

Robbie wandered into the small basement kitchen now, and I followed. He sat on top of the retro dining table, and though there were three folding chairs around it, I sat in the spindle rocking chair with the puffy back cushion and held one of its fringe throw pillows in my arms as I rocked. It reminded me of Robbie’s bizarre childhood game, where one person would sit in the chair, and another would get behind the chair and rock it, singing “Rock-a-bye Baby,” drawing the chair farther back until he or she let it drop to the floor. I suppose, if there had been a bed of nails somewhere, we’d have been on it. 

Uncle Dom had walked in on us one afternoon. He was on his way to the wine cellar to take home a bottle of wine. Robbie had let go of the chair in that instant, and I plummeted to the wood floor. 

“Whoa!” Uncle Dom had hollered. “What the hell’s the matter with you?” He was looking at Robbie, and then shifted his gaze to me, clearly disconcerted. “Are you okay?” 

His genuine concern had melted me. He didn’t have my father’s screen idol looks, but he was this old world gent with cheerful brown eyes and a sweet, handsome face. Despite a few gray hairs, he hadn’t changed much over the years. 

“I’m okay,” I’d assured him. “It didn’t hurt.” 

“You sure?” 

“I’m fine.” 

The entrance to the wine cellar was a few feet away, and he had gone in there. It was a separate room, where rows of jugs filled with wine lined the stone walls. There was a pull light for the front section, but all you could see beyond the barrels was darkness. My dad made the wine in that cellar with Uncle Dom, but when they were around, the place was somehow cheery. 

“Good thing you didn’t crack your skull,” Uncle Dom had said when he came back with his wine. He looked at Robbie. “Don’t do that anymore! I’m going to talk to your father, and you’re gonna get it.” He motioned a spanking with his hand. “This is not the way for kids to play. Let’s go upstairs.” 

My parents had given us a stern lecture, mostly directed at Robbie. 

I never knew whether to feel happy or sad about these memories. I recalled them with giddy delight and underlying disbelief. 

I reminded Robbie of the game now. 

“How would you know if I’m responsible for anything that happens in this house of horrors?” he asked. 

“Are you gonna tell me it’s Grandpa?” 

“I saw Mommy walking around just before I went to bed tonight.” 

“She did not start that fire.” 

“I’m not saying she did, but I never told you this. It started a couple of years ago. She came in my room and asked for a lock of my hair. Then she told me to put these coins under my pillow.” 

“That’s witchcraft.” 

“Really?” 

“Uh … yeah?” 

“You say that so casually, like you’re not even shocked.” 

“I read a little about it.” 

“She goes to see a psychic, Dan. She told me not to tell anyone about it. She asked the psychic for help straightening me out.” 

“She’s desperate to help you and is getting taken for her money.” 

“She’s also desperate to save her marriage.” 

I knew what he was talking about, since Robbie and I had listened with cups to the wall whenever my parents fought. 

“You were there,” I’d heard my mother say to my dad. “I hired a detective to follow you. Your car was there. He saw everything.” 

“Look who’s talking,” my father had replied. 

“You’re a liar,” she’d shot back. “There’s never been anyone.” 

“No, I’m not a liar. Someone saw you come out of a car a block away.” 

“Who saw me?” 

“I’m not gonna say.” 

“Because you’re making it up.” 

“I’m not making it up. This has been going on for years. You want this guy or you want me? You better decide.” 

She’d begun to cry. “If you’re going to make up stories and not believe what I say, I might as well get a divorce.” 

I could hear a breaking down in his voice as well. “If you want a divorce, we’ll get a divorce.” 

“She said the psychic doesn’t charge her anything,” Robbie continued. “She can make a donation if she wants, but it’s all free. Don’t tell her I told you.” 

“I won’t, but I have to get upstairs before they come down here looking for me.” 

“Fuck this,” he said. “I’m not staying here.” 

“Why don’t you go to Joey’s?” 

“And drive all the way to New Haven? I don’t want to do that. I have a friend I can call. Let’s go up, and I’ll get some of the things I need. I can come back for the rest.” 

My father had gone to bed. My mother asked Robbie questions about where he would go, what he would do, and he assured her he would be fine. 

He did come back the next day to say goodbye to my parents. They were kind to him. My father wanted to feed him, advise him, help him. My mother had tears. 

I walked him to the door and cried when I hugged him. “You know, I’m really going to miss you.” 

“I’ll miss you, too, Dan,” he said, “but this is the best thing for me. I don’t feel safe in this house. I never did.” 

“I understand.” I kind of did, and I kind of didn’t. I found the house strangely soothing despite many moments of fear. 

He said he would see us at Christmas. 

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

IT’S GOOD TO BE VULNERABLE!

Kyrian Lyndon

by Kyrian Lyndon

Don’t take yourself too damn seriously!

Accept that you are vulnerable, and make peace with that.

Be fearless!

If I had said these things to my younger self, it would not have had much of an impact. I wasn’t ready. But at some point in time, other people said these things to me, and even though I still wasn’t ready, they planted a seed. And every time someone plants a seed, he or she brings us closer to eventual healing and understanding. It certainly worked that way for me because, despite my stubbornness, I am always listening, and I always want to be a better version of me than I was yesterday.

So, last year, I read the first criticism of my work from a reviewer. Admittedly, it wasn’t scathing; she had many nice things to say, but I was able to handle that in a way…

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DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 3

Chapter Three 

Our house was an antique colonial nestled in the hills—all muted gray and charcoal, even the brickwork. It was a marvel of rusticated stonework. We had a spacious garden, a well on our expansive lawn, and a private wooded lot. The steep staircase had the look of stone and slate, and only those of us under the age of twenty-one managed to hear the bell by the arched gray door. My grandmother would embroider pillows for the seat of the wrought iron bench on the porch, where she liked to sit. She would cut flowers from the perennial gardens and arrange them in vases on the windowsill. 

Tsk,” I heard now. “Get away from the window.” 

I turned as my mother approached. There was no need to ask whether her concern was about me putting smudges on the glass or what the neighbors might think. I’m sure it was both, although I couldn’t imagine what she thought the neighbors would think: A girl is looking out the window—oh, no! Something is not right in that house. Surely, her mother is to blame

Friends told us she had an exotic accent—northeast Brazilian; I’d suppose—but we didn’t hear it any more than we heard our father’s Italian accent. 

I relinquished my hold on the drapery and turned from the window. “You look nice.” 

She did, indeed. No one would believe the woman was forty. Nor, in my estimation, could anyone sufficiently praise her beauty. Her dark chocolate hair reached her shoulders. Long mascara-laden lashes enhanced her dark eyes. I noted the familiar beauty mark next to her round, pouty lips, the red lipstick, and the hint of blush on her fair skin. The dainty summer dress she was wearing for another day of work at my Aunt Zuza’s dress shop complemented her well-proportioned figure. Pearls glistened around her neck, and tiny diamonds sparkled from the bracelet on her wrist. She had elevated her five-foot frame with high heel sandals. 

It was hard to fathom that this delicate creature was the same woman who became enraged during her Saturday cleaning, as I had witnessed throughout my childhood. She would go on and on about “these people.” 

“All these people do is make a mess. These people don’t give a damn about nobody.” 

Like she was referring to people we didn’t know, or who weren’t there, and she hated these people. 

The anger seemed to consume her. She would say she wished she’d never had kids, and that we had ruined her life. 

I thought I should help at the time, but the energy flowing around us had an incapacitating effect. We sat on the couch, watching cartoons and movies, while she cleaned around us like a robotic toy gone mad. 

Back then, she frightened me. Not that she harmed anyone physically. Aside from tossing her tiny slippers at us from a distance, she merely scolded or resigned us to sitting in separate corners of the dining room. 

She grilled me now. “What are you going to do? It’s a beautiful day. You should go out, take a walk somewhere.” What a paradox she was—loving one minute, and then preoccupied and oblivious the next. I didn’t feel as connected to her as I once had. 

“Maybe later,” I said. “I’m just going to write.” 

She smiled, and, of course, to me, there was nothing in the world prettier than or as gracious as my mother’s dimpled smile. It soothed me now, and then she was gone. 

I went upstairs to my room. My father had recently furnished it with an old wooden desk and a six-foot-tall bookcase to accommodate my collection of books. When I was eight, he bought me a journal to write in. Five years later, he’d allowed me to take a home correspondence course for writing. We bought a series of books, which I read cover to cover. Now he seemed to think I was wasting my time. 

It made little difference that I’d completed a novel, or that I had gone ahead and contacted a literary agent. Given a rare opportunity, I traveled to Westport, hours on the bus with my five-hundred-page manuscript bound in a three-ring binder, holding it close to my heart, as if it were everything in the world I owned and as precious as a child from my womb. I was excited, full of confidence. The agent I had spoken with on the phone seemed eager to introduce me to her colleagues, all of whom were in awe. They must have thought it was cute, me traveling all that way, novel in hand—a novel about everything I had witnessed in my sixteen years of existence. They saw my passion and hope and wanted only to do right by me. I thought we needed people like that in the world, and happily left that copy of my book with them. 

While awaiting their response, I dusted and polished my office furniture daily with a pitiful Cinderella kind of hope. The bookcase, like the desk, was solid wood with a mahogany finish, and displayed volumes of classic literature, poetry, and philosophy books, as well as books on writing. More recently, I’d begun collecting books on astrology, occult history, and witchcraft, in part due to my thirst for knowledge and my boundless curiosity. Perhaps I needed to believe, as many do, that there were other miraculous realms beyond our comprehension providing infinite hope, and that anything was possible. I needed to believe that now more than ever. 

Anyway, I was alone—something I’d come to dislike intensely, despite my tendency to isolate myself. Working at my desk, every noise distracted me, compelling me to rise and investigate. I don’t know if I expected the two men who’d been circling my house or some unknown intruder, but I was afraid. That fear had to coexist unnaturally with my passion and drive, which it did, right up until I heard the vigorous thunder of a motorcycle. Certain it was Joey, I went downstairs and ventured out the door. 

He was in the driveway, perched on his black Harley, wearing no helmet. The sun was blinding after a day of symbolically dark isolation, and I struggled to transition from my fictional world to reality. 

I knew why Joey had foregone the helmet. He used plenty of mousse and pomade on that cropped blondish hair of his, perfecting the textured, tousled style. 

“Daddy didn’t want you to get that bike because you have no protection, if you get hit,” I said. “If he sees you riding without a helmet, you’re going to get another lecture. He doesn’t know why you had to sell the Camaro.” 

Joey’s prominent green eyes glared. “Do I ask him why he insists on driving a Buick Regal that seats more people than he’ll ever like in his lifetime?” He pursed the lips Farran gushed about—the lush “Mick Jagger lips,” as she would say, proclaiming they could tempt her to the fires of hell. She would lavish praise upon him. Joey was so cute. Joey was adorable. Joey was a hunk. I got it. His devotion to hitting the gym on a regular basis had rewarded his five-foot-ten-inch frame with a ripped body. He looked like a rebel these days—tight denim jeans, a cutoff jean jacket with an American flag emblem on the back, a new tattoo covering his left bicep, and a tiny hoop earring in his pierced left ear. 

I laughed at his remark about my dad. “Nobody’s here yet,” I told him, “but since Robbie’s leaving for Florida Sunday morning, Mommy’s going to make his favorite tonight.” 

“Yeah, spaghetti,” he said. “She told me when she invited me.” 

My mom drove up now in her taupe-colored Toyota Corolla, flashing a sweet smile before hugging Joey and then me. We went inside. She was quick to change and get down to the business of dinner, while Joey and I sat at the square kitchen table she had draped in a dainty floral tablecloth. The sun continued to brighten the room through ruffled Priscilla curtains. 

My father arrived next, earlier than usual, in what seemed a good mood. Considering how handsome he was, he could have been a movie star. He stood five-foot-ten with a solid build and a wavy batch of chestnut brown hair. He wore it slightly longer than average, while sporting a painter’s brush moustache and goatee. His thick eyebrows curved inward toward the bridge of his nose, framing his compelling green eyes. 

Joey grabbed an apple and a knife to cut it. We moved to the dining room table, where my father eventually sat to read his newspaper. 

Despite the elegant beauty of the baroque furnishings and a crystal chandelier, the dining room had always come across as spiritless to me. Nothing was to be imperfect or out of place. Under the relentless overhead lighting, things had a tendency to become tense without warning. 

“Why are you eating that now?” my father asked Joey. “We’re gonna eat.” 

“It’s an apple,” Joey said, “not a three-course meal.” 

“Be careful with that knife.” 

“I’m just cutting the apple.” 

“You could have used the apple slicer in the kitchen and brought it here in a dish.” 

Joey ignored him. We kept talking. 

My father looked up from his paper again. “Joe, you’re gonna cut the tablecloth.” 

“I’m not cutting the tablecloth!” he bellowed. “I’m cutting the apple.” 

We resumed our conversation. Another moment or two passed before my father jumped up. “Joey, goddamn it! You’re gonna cut the tablecloth, and I’m gonna kill you!” He was livid, screaming at the top of his lungs. I noted the clenched fists and saw his cheeks flush with the increased flow of blood. His eyes were terrifying! Perhaps it was attributable to the bulging blue veins, but from my perspective, they seemed to have turned purple, transforming him into a creature I barely recognized. 

He lunged at Joey, who remained calm and seated. I sprang up and got behind my father, ready to jump on his back to restrain him, as if I could. In that instant, I believed he might kill Joey if I didn’t intercede. 

He turned around so fast that he startled me. “What do you want?” he yelled. 

Joey laughed. “I told you I wasn’t cutting the tablecloth. I’m not an idiot.” 

They argued, and I ran to the bathroom. In a state of panic, I locked myself in. I believed my heart would continue to pound at this furious pace until it exploded and killed me. 

Moments later, Joey came knocking on the door. “Dan?” 

I came out, and he hugged me. 

“Don’t be scared.” 

“When he gets like that, I think he fits the profile of one of those guys who snaps one day and kills his whole family,” I said. 

“Nah, he’s just barking. What did you think you were gonna do, anyway, sneaking up on ‘im?” He laughed. 

“I don’t know. I just wanted to keep him from hurting you.” 

“He ain’t gonna hurt me. I could take ‘im.” 

“But if he went and got his guns …” 

“Oh, come on, don’t worry. He’s not gonna kill anybody.” 

It seemed odd to have these feelings about my dad. For the most part, he was the kind father who would pay us fifty cents to eat a dinner we didn’t like. When Robbie and Joey said they could eat an entire box of chocolate-coated ice-cream bars, he dared them to do it for five dollars. A couple of times, he brought all three of us to work with him. There, I had seen how the name Luca DeCorso had garnered respect. He was gone by 7:30 a.m. six days a week and returned twelve hours later. He never called in sick and rarely took a vacation. 

He had come to the U.S., learned English, and taken a minimum wage job. Shortly afterward, he went to aviation maintenance training school, earned his licenses, and became a successful avionics/electrical technician with a high level of expertise. Now he held a senior-level position at Gulfstream in Westfield, Massachusetts. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the blueprints and schematic diagrams in his briefcase, but seeing them made me proud. In my eyes, he was a responsible and reliable role model who never left home without his trusty Omega watch or the three-stone band of gold with faceted diamonds around his ring finger. 

How was it then that I could see a monster in him as easily as I could see his dignity, his integrity, and his charm? I had learned over the years that he held everything in for as long as he could. When he reached his limit, unrelated incidents could unleash that pent-up anger to an unprecedented degree. My mother once complained, at the wrong moment, about my grandmother putting one of her pots back in the wrong place so she couldn’t find it. My father got so mad he broke the handles off every one of her pots. He was in a blind rage. My mother had gone to her room and shut the door. When she returned, I could see she’d been crying. It wasn’t long before he apologized and bought her a new set of pots. 

I returned to the dining room with Joey. 

My father was still reading the newspaper, and Robbie was there after working his last day as a cashier at the local market. 

Robbie was handsome, too, of course—a slim five-foot-eleven with sparkling hazel eyes. He wore his wavy, dark brown hair in a traditional medium-length cut, and his defined cheekbones were identical to mine. I had often seen that smile of his light a room with its brilliance, although that was a rare sight while he was under this roof. 

He took a seat and made small talk before introducing the topic of college. I announced that I wanted to go to NYU or to Amherst in Massachusetts. 

“Forget about New York,” my father said. “When I was young, you could walk around there any time of day or night, but not now. You can’t even go to Central Park anymore. And Amherst is too far.” 

“I would live in a dorm,” I told him. “Those are great schools for an English major, and I would love to be in New York. It’s where I belong. You can’t believe everything you read in the paper, Dad.” 

“You don’t have to live in no dorm,” he said.“I told you—apply for a scholarship to Yale. It’s right here, and it’s a better school.” 

Robbie looked both stunned and annoyed. “She won’t get into Yale! And if she’s not allowed to live in a dorm, she’ll still have to drive an hour back and forth every day!” 

My father chugged down some wine. After setting the glass down, he took a different approach. “You know, everybody’s talking about college, but the best thing to do is join the military. I’ll tell you, it was wonderful.” 

“Oh yeah, wonderful,” Robbie quipped. 

“I’m not talking about what goes on in combat,” my father said. “What I’m saying is, it’s a good experience for anyone. They teach you to grow up. All of you should go. It’s an honor and a privilege, if you want to know, and if your country needs you …” 

“I’m not good at killing things,” I said. “If they made me go, I wouldn’t shoot anyone.” 

“And you’ll be killed.” 

Joey laughed but kept mum. 

“I don’t care.” 

“You’ll care.” He nodded. “You would not only shoot to protect yourself, but to protect your comrades.” He went back to reading his paper, but he had piqued my curiosity. 

“You were in Vietnam, Daddy, right?” 

He didn’t look up. “Mm-hmm … frontline infantry battalion.” 

“I remember the day we found your old army uniform in the drawers of the china cabinet,” I said. “Did you have to go?” 

He held his place in the newspaper with an index finger, but his eyes didn’t shift from the page. “I didn’t have to, no. I enlisted.” 

“Why?” I asked. “Weren’t you scared?” 

His eyes began to deviate from the page, but he kept the finger there, marking his place. “Danielle, when you’re that young, you’re not scared of much.” 

“But why did you go if you didn’t have to?” 

“Hah! Why?” He released the paper and looked up without meeting my gaze. “I came here to become a citizen. I wanted to learn the language. I wanted to work. It was an honor to serve.” 

My mother entered, drying her hands with a dishtowel. “He was a sergeant,” she stated with obvious pride. “Sergeant, First Class.” 

“They move you up quickly when you’re on the frontline,” he interjected.“Anyway, that was almost twenty years ago.” 

“He came home with a Purple Heart,” she said. “It’s something to be proud of, but he never wants to talk about it.” 

He dismissed it with a wave of his hand. “I told you I got it, didn’t I? You get it in the line of duty. I’m not the only one who ever got it.” 

She shook her head. “You did something to deserve that honor.” 

“And that’s why I got an honorable discharge. Grace, you don’t go over there to get praise or a pat on the back. You go to serve your country and do your duty. Anyway, I’m sure your pasta’s been boiling for ten minutes over there. We gonna take the spaghetti out or what?” 

He got up to drain the pasta for her. My grandmother shuffled out of her room. I removed the faux fruit from the long rectangular table and wiped the plastic shielding of the tablecloth. My dad poured the wine. Ordinarily, he’d wash everything down with beer in his favorite mug while he watched the news on the dining room television set, silencing us whenever we spoke. Now, he resumed the discussion about college. 

“If you want to know the truth, all they teach you about in college is sex.” He was drinking his wine. “I got college people working for me that are dumber than a box of rocks. I don’t know what they teach them, but they can’t figure out the simplest things.” 

Robbie clenched his teeth and got up from the table. 

“Where you go?” my grandmother asked in her broken English. “Stay. Eat.” 

“I’m done eating,” he said. 

“Have more,” my mother urged. “You like this.” 

“I had two bowls.” 

“Your mother’s got cake,” my father said. 

“Yeah, shut up and have cake!” Joey bellowed. 

The two of them left not long after dessert. 

I helped my mother and grandmother clean up until Farran called. We talked a while, but I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. By the time I returned to the kitchen, my father and grandmother had retreated to the family room. 

“Where did you go before dinner?” my mother asked. “When your father was upset?” 

I told her I hid in the bathroom. 

“Ah …” She looked sympathetic. “That Joey likes to push and push. You don’t do that with your father.” 

“Do you ever feel afraid of him?” 

“No. I know how to handle him,” she said. “I know when to keep my mouth shut and when to walk away.” 

I was glad, because, despite all my fear, he had easily become my hero. I loved him desperately and had worried about him throughout my childhood—mostly that he wouldn’t come home. Out of the blue, I would fear someone might hurt or kill him, and I prayed to keep him safe. The obsession went on for years, though he was a strong man who could take care of himself. He always turned up smiling, and whenever he arrived, all was well with the world. 

The seeds of loyalty to my family, planted long ago, had created a blind and unlimited devotion. I became increasingly willing to go to great lengths to protect them from harm. Thus, telling any one of them what had happened to Angie and me wasn’t an option. Aside from the shame, I could never have added to their burdens or caused further disappointment. 

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – 2

Chapter TWO

It might have been a glorious beach day. Horned larks looked happy among the plum and bayberry shrubs, yellow sunflowers, and purple roses. The blue waters of the Long Island Sound were as beguiling as the landscape. Young men were perched on railings that glistened under the glare of the sun—ogling, whistling, and confessing their undying love. I witnessed this phenomenon whenever I walked to and from the bus stop in my school uniform, and came to realize I could easily disrupt traffic and possibly cause a collision. 

I had never achieved a placid familiarity with the horn-honking and people clamoring for my attention. I had spent many years feeling like the ugly duckling muddling haplessly through the dark green marsh. If I had advanced from there at all, it was to become the tiniest winged critter, never able to keep up with the flock, and never certain I wanted to. 

My metamorphosis was magical. I had the same golden brown hair—by then almost waist length—the same hazel eyes, coveted high cheekbones, enviable skin, and ravishing lips as before, but it had all become relevant! I believed I had willed and constructed this change. More accurately, I’d grown into my beauty, and my painstaking efforts to straighten my thick, wavy tresses made no difference. People looked mostly at my chest. I was a busty girl of five-foot-four who kept herself trim and toned with exercise. 

Pain hindered my walking that day. 

“We should rent a summer beach house here—or a cabin,” Farran said. “You met those two older guys here the other day, didn’t you? The ones you made a date with?” 

“Yeah, one of them was thirty,” my cousin Angie chimed in. “The other guy was twenty-nine.” Her angelic voice was a touch above a whisper.  

“Well, they knew you were both sixteen, didn’t they?” 

“Yes, they knew,” I replied. 

Mental images intruded—gold crucifix chains upon masculine chests. I had noticed those chains from the moment the men approached us on the beach. Perhaps I had an ingrained trust in that sacred symbol. I shouldn’t have. People wore things for different reasons. We adorned our arms with plastic jelly bracelets in neon colors because Madonna wore them, and she was the most fussed-about pop star. She also wore crucifix chains, which Angie and I had displayed with devotion since childhood. 

We spread out our blankets in the middle of the beach. All eyes were on me when I stripped down to my halter-style swim top. In light of the ensuing commotion, I decided to keep the shorts on. 

“With you around, I get no respect for my B-cup,” Farran complained. I saw the twinkle in her electric blue eyes when she smiled. Her high-cut one-piece elongated her pretty legs and flattered her figure. She was taller than me, with a nice head of light brown, shoulder-length hair that she often wore in a ponytail or chignon. 

“What about me? I have nothing,” Angie lamented. She left her shorts on as well, with a skimpy bandeau top. 

Angie and I had grown up together in Glastonbury. We’d been in the same classes since kindergarten. In a couple of weeks, we’d be seniors at the same high school. She was an inch shorter than I was, and always in sneakers, jellies, or flip-flops. Her dark hair was past shoulder length, framing a heart-shaped face and prominent brown eyes. 

All three of us wanted admiration and, yes, adoration—from males, especially. When it became uncomfortable, I figured I wasn’t used to it. At the same time, I preferred being uncomfortable to being ridiculed and shamed. 

I don’t recall which of the two men that day had asked what country I was from, insisting he detected a trace of European, and possibly Latin, in my New England accent. This extravagant attention to every detail did more than flatter me—I felt like it validated my existence. I’m certain I had blushed when I assured him I was a Connecticut native from Glastonbury. 

“The whole thing was a nightmare,” I blurted out, as if Farran and Angie had been following my thoughts. 

“A nightmare! Why?” Farran looked at Angie, probably to gauge her reaction. “Wait, I thought it was a date you all went on yesterday? I mean, you were both there, right? Angie said she liked the guy.” 

Yes, Angie had liked Phil, the muscular, tattooed one with the mustache and short blond curls. When she’d unexpectedly begun kissing him, I had wanted to pull her away and shout, “What the hell has gotten into you?” She had always been painfully shy, but while surrendering to Phil’s embrace, there were moans coming out of that girl that she would not likely have emitted in private, let alone in a room with three other people. 

I remembered how horrified we’d both been in seventh grade when a group of boys from our class began following girls to the bus stop. They would wait for an opportunity to grab a girl, and then pull her into the bushes or woods. They did whatever they could get away with before she broke free. Angie and I had had to walk, sometimes run, in a different direction, and wait until they were gone before we could return to our bus stop. They never caught us. When I told my brothers, they made it stop. 

Angie and I had clung to our perception of that sacrosanct bequest—being “saved” for the right person. Our parents had never talked to us about defiled reputations or unwanted pregnancies, but in school, there were proclamations that only bad girls welcomed attention from boys. I didn’t think Angie had intended to go beyond kissing, but these men could not have known that. She had this tranquilizing humility, and though she kept her composure now, I could see a trace of fear in her large, haunted eyes. Could Farran not see it, or was I wrong about that, too? 

“It was supposed to be a date, just to Pleasure Beach,” I explained. We sat on the blanket. I used some of Angie’s lotion on my already bronzed skin. 

Farran applied sunblock. “Pleasure Beach … my parents used to go there back in the fifties.” 

Things came to me in shadowy flashes. Phil had carried Angie away, and I was alone with the other guy. Sergio was his name. Though I did think he was cute with his close-cropped brown hair, brown eyes, and pencil-thin mustache, I was not attracted to him. I had felt dizzy trying to stand. The room spun, and I fell back on the sofa with only a blurred impression of the room. Sergio’s voice sounded like it was a distance away. I couldn’t see his face. 

“They told us they’d forgotten their camera and wanted to stop and get it, since it wasn’t far,” I explained. “It might have been one of the beach cottages on Long Beach West. I had to fight them …” 

Yet I remembered them driving us home. Angie was in the front seat, talking to Phil, who was driving. She appeared to be okay. Sergio was in the back with me. I had slept most of the time, with my head resting on his shoulder. We’d gone over that rickety bridge. 

“Come on, Dani!” Farran’s smile was ingenuous. “Sounds like you had some wild experience that maybe got out of control, and you’re feeling guilty. You shouldn’t. Guys would be celebrating! I mean, you can’t take it back. It sounds like that’s what you’re trying to do. Maybe it’s time you grew up. I’m serious! Don’t be such a baby!” She laughed. 

Farran was generous with smiles and laughter, right down to the wrinkling of her nose and an occasional wink. I imagined those eyes would shine until her dying day, and she would forever be as lovable and sweet as she was. I adored her. With her self-deprecating humor, people liked her in an instant. I expected boys to be falling all over her. What I didn’t understand was their interest in me. My assets were merely the luck of the draw. 

“It was horrible,” I insisted. “I thought about going to the police.” 

She looked dumbfounded, and that solidified for me the idea that going to the police would be futile. 

I looked to Angie, and she didn’t avert her eyes. Those dark pools were now an ocean, with depths I couldn’t fathom. I saw her concern for me. Farran seemed to latch onto how Angie hadn’t confirmed any of it, but she ignored that Angie never denied it. Still, I backed down. My sense of reality had been undermined, but I didn’t doubt what I’d recalled, not for a moment. 

Farran grabbed her radio, reminding me of how she and I would sing at the beach. When she turned up the volume, I looked away. 

I thought about my family. 

My dad had liked this beach when we were kids. It was Hammonasset in Madison, a two-mile stretch from Tom Creek on the western end to the Hammonasset River and Clinton Harbor on the east. He used to take us to West Beach. We were on East Beach now, which we preferred. It was quieter, with fewer kids. 

The waves were no more than one or two feet, and I liked the gentle breeze. I loved watching the birds—osprey, piping plovers, sandpipers, willets, snowy egrets, and all the amazing herons. Birds resonated with me. 

Innocent singing on the beach was a pleasant memory, as were family days when we searched for shells and copper scraps, marveling at starfish. Joey liked big-clawed hermit crabs and breaking rocks on the pier to find garnets. Uncle Dom usually brought a kite to fly—Angie’s favorite thing. Joey and Robbie played Frisbee. There were coolers with food and drinks. When the adults had had enough sun, we packed up and moved over to a picnic table in the shade. We could spend hours at the beach and still not want to go home—until Robbie had about had it with the stinging black flies that came up from the marshes. By his reaction, you would have thought they targeted him alone. 

“Are you okay, Dani?” Angie was searching my eyes. 

“She’s fine,” Farran assured her. 

I held back tears. “They keep calling me. They called me five times when I got back from the so-called date and a few more times this morning.” 

“Well, tell ‘em to call me,” Farran quipped. 

“I don’t want them calling!” 

“Dani?” Angie called out. 

“I’m okay.” I didn’t know what else to say. 

Her wide-stretched lips eased into a smile, endearing her to me, as always. 

Farran, however, was off on another tangent. “Hey, we’re not far from Marauders Cove. It’s about twenty minutes from here. Isn’t that where your brother, Joey, hangs out? And doesn’t he live only two blocks from there?” 

“He hangs out with bikers,” I reminded her. 

“I know.” She beamed. 

“Besides, you have to be twenty-one.” 

“Well, Joey’s not twenty-one.” 

“He will be in a couple of months.” 

She waved if off, flashing an ear-to-ear grin. “Danielle, Marauders Cove is an old-fashioned pub owned by the McGrath family. I practically grew up with them.” 

Yes, and the McGrath family included Mike McGrath, my first and only love—someone I had always been able to trust. The mention of his name now evoked a twinge of melancholia that fanned the flames of my anguish. 

“I’m sure your brother will be looking after you anyway, and so will his friends,” she went on. “I can get us phony proof. Hey, I’m starting college in the fall! It’s a rite of passage!” 

This behavior was typical of Farran. She thought nothing of suggesting we hitchhike to the beach if we didn’t have a ride. Thankfully, a neighbor of hers had given us a ride that day. The plan was to meet up with the woman by three-thirty at Joshua Rock, just to the east of the park entrance. 

“I’m not sure we should be barhopping,” I said. 

“Oh, please.” She lit a cigarette, took a long drag, and exhaled. “You are always so uptight, Dani. You have to live a little.” 

I wanted to address the absurdity of that second statement, but I didn’t know where to begin. 

“School starts in a couple of weeks. It’s probably our last beach day. We gotta do something for excitement—like meet up with people. Maybe if I were a total knockout, I could sit home and wait for them to beat down my door, but that ain’t gonna happen.” She laughed. “Hey, I’m surprised you didn’t bring one of your car magazines. Still looking for a Nissan?” She was making nice, I could see, piling on the sugar. 

“Yeah. I’m hoping by my birthday I will finally pass the road test.” 

“Third time’s the charm, right?” 

Angie laughed, a gentle laughter, but I saw the change in her. She looked more fragile to me. 

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

DEADLY VEILS BOOK ONE: SHATTERING TRUTHS – I

Chapter ONE

Connecticut, Summer of 1987 

There was no blood. I was dead inside, but not bleeding. Zipping my shorts in a daze, I focused on the brown and gold hues of the wall tiles. I washed my hands over the sink, avoiding my reflection. The hexagon-shaped mirror was antique and gilded. I now felt debased in its presence as well as in these familiar surroundings. After turning off the faucet, I stood there for a moment, and then hastened to my room. 

The brass bed, dressed in white eyelet sheets and frilly pink bedding, was an update of my choosing. The nativity scene plaque on the wall above it had been there throughout my childhood—Mother Mary in a protective stance over Baby Jesus. I suppose the intention was to comfort and protect me. Still, I lined the bed with stuffed teddy bears and kept a sixteen-inch porcelain doll with golden hair and dark blue eyes on my white dresser. She wore a pink Victorian dress with lace trim and glimmering beads and a hat to match. I picked her up now and held her tightly to my chest. A tear fell as I snuggled her to me for as long as I could. After setting her down, I approached the window. 

I could see far from these foothills. A woodlot of mixed forest surrounded our home. In one direction, I saw the Hartford skyline—in another, steep, rolling hills in their divine and blissful glory. My room faced the direction of Old Buckingham, not half a mile away. The ancient cemetery was set back from the road, just beyond a fortress of trees. We heard stories of weeping spirits, distant cries of agony, and diaphanous circles of white light floating above and between the tombstones. I never knew whether people convinced themselves of these things or merely embellished the truth. One thing I knew did happen: Fierce hurricane winds had nearly destroyed the little church on its grounds. 

Much as I loved this house, it was an eerie place to grow up. That had little to do with ghost stories. I would lie awake in my bed at night, listening to the sounds of darkness—imagining that the hoarse caw of the crows warned of impending doom. I got this sense of urgency from yapping dogs, yelping coyotes, and the ear-piercing whistles of the woodchucks. Some nights, even the benign chirping of crickets grew louder and more intense with each moment. 

I prayed, always. 

Watching from the window now, I felt like some reclusive old person who got all the neighbors whispering. I watched for a dusty black Cutlass Supreme, needing to make certain it was nowhere in sight. 

The phone rang, and I panicked. My father had mounted it to the wall between my room and the master bedroom, so I had to leave the room to answer it. 

“Hello, Danielle,” the voice cooed. 

Sickened to my core, I hung up. 

It rang again, the innocuous ivory phone that seemed suddenly possessed. I wanted to rip it off the wall. 

I lifted the receiver. 

“Don’t hang up.” It was the other guy. 

“Stop calling here!” I ended the call with a slam. 

They had the gall to utter my name! They sounded so casual, so elated—as if the atrocity I had endured earlier that day had been mutually rewarding. Granted, it could have been worse, and yet a part of me had died. More unsettling still, they knew where to find me. 

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

NOW YOU CAN READ MY DEBUT NOVEL FOR FREE!

Starting on Saturday, December 5th, I will be posting a free serialized version of my debut novel, Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths. A new chapter will appear right here on my blog every week, always on Saturday morning.

Winter is on the way, and, while we’re spending more time at home, it’s a great time to cozy up with a new book! Right?

Follow my blog and read along. For book discussion, feel free to leave comments and questions for each chapter.

Missed chapters will still be available on this site for catching up.

So, what is Shattering Truths about?

Imagine, for a moment, being able to go anywhere on the earth at any time with absolutely no threat of danger lurking and luxuriating in that comfort of being safe. We felt it as children if we were lucky, and it’s sad to think many of us experience harsh reality and betrayal and then never feel safe again. Yes, that is life—the world we live in—but it’s often a rocky road to recovery.

Let’s start with the assumptions—the “one size fits all” solutions, the one-size process of healing, and things others decide for us, like how we should behave and react, the determinations regarding what we should be doing.

Many form conclusions with a lack of understanding and empathy. They try to justify what is unjustifiable, doling out additional punishment and shame. These reactions often discourage people from disclosing what has happened to them. As a result, recovery can be a much longer process if it happens at all.

So, while not for the faint of heart, Shattering Truths is about one young woman’s path to healing from trauma. 

Since the main character and her friends are underage and living with their parents, some readers felt it was a story for young adults and didn’t read it. While Shattering Truths does fit young adult fiction criteria, it is chock full of weighty adult themes. It was the adults, in fact, who, in reading the book until the end, seemed to appreciate and enjoy it the most.

Here are some of the things they had to say about it:

Ken Scott – 5.0 out of 5 stars

Shattering Truths is a most compelling story that weaves family and peer relationships into a fabric of great strength and fragility at the same time. The main character and her cousin are teenage girls on the cusp of adulthood who seem to be over their heads relationally in some ways and who, unwittingly, become engaged in activities that have subsequent emotional repercussions. Family dynamics and interactions between the girls and other characters, many of whom are somewhat older and more mature, are brilliantly presented to the reader by this author. I’m sure my comments thus far regarding the story line of the novel are “preaching to the choir” but I must also praise the author’s writing prowess. I find it difficult to express the depth to which she pierces emotional barriers in order to share the struggles the characters in the book were required to face. I was literally brought to tears on a couple of occasions. I really believe I felt the writer’s extreme range of emotion that she must have had as she was writing this novel. Her profound understanding of human emotion and spirituality are evident in her poetry as well. Basically, a brilliantly written novel by a brilliant writer. I can’t wait to read more from her.

C.L. Cannon – 5.0 out of 5 stars

This coming of age story is eloquently written and will transport you back in time to 1987 to witness the journey of 16-year-old Dani as she comes to terms with the horrors, joys, and often the shattering realities of growing up. This book has well-rounded characters that are multifaceted, genuine, and believable. It also deals with feelings of self-worth, loyalty, family, and friendship. I would recommend this to every person I know and even those I don’t. It truly is a compelling book that you will not be able to put down after you begin. It flows effortlessly along and leaves you aching for more. I am looking forward to reading more titles from this talented author!

Chelsea Girard – 5.0 out of 5 stars

A confused teen with a rough past has her conflicts conveying more than it may seem. Love Triangles, teases and mysterious character’s leave the story with your mind wandering.

There is some comic relief that shows she is still young and learning about who she is and what she wants to do with her future.

Her dreams left fears in my mind and I certainly could not get some of her thoughts out of my head. The novel was fast paced and had a great couple twists that kept me reading.

Love Books – 5.0 out of 5 stars 

Kyrian Lyndon has the ability to turn words in beautiful mosaics of description. This gift shines throughout this emotional story of a girl trying to dig her way out of heartbreak and turmoil while growing up in teenage life. She does a wonderful job developing all of the characters and you become attached to their fates, their losses, their victories.

One can sympathize with the main characters as they try to find their place in this often chaotic world, struggling with inner and natural desires, looking to set up boundaries to live life with dignity.
It’s a harsh lesson for Danielle. Society is ready to devour her, and she’s confused in how she should respond.

The vulnerability of the characters makes this a terrific first book in the series.

Final note – Though some of the book’s characters allude to a supernatural existence, this is not a paranormal romance or adventure. It depicts the harshness of life’s rude awakenings, and I believe it will resonate not only with women but also with the men who genuinely love and care about them.

I dedicated the book to trauma survivors—

“May you become free to love and be loved in return.

May happiness never elude you.”

I believe that until we fully heal from whatever it is we need to recover from, we remain in bondage to something or another and prone to all kinds of obsession. Disentangling from all that is a painful process, and that’s where the path to healing begins.

Enjoy the read, and let me know what you think!

Deadly Veils Book One: Shattering Truths was originally published as Deadly Veils: Book One: Provenance of Bondage copyright © October 2015 by Kyrian Lyndon. The revised edition, Deadly Veils: Book One: Shattering Truths was published in December 2016. Cover design by KH Koehler Design.

Wintry Scene photo near the top by Nachelle Nocom on Unsplash 

Book Review: The Most Important Truth About Malcolm X

My rating – 5 stars *****

During the George Floyd protests, online activists listed book titles that would help increase black history awareness. The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley was among those recommended to me.

With this writing, Malcolm X hoped to shed light on how growing up in the black ghettoes shaped his life and character. And he knew it would require a great deal of objectivity on the reader’s part.

Indeed, there are harsh truths—painful and soul-crushing truths that justify every bit of anger black people feel. There are also misogynistic generalizations along with expressed anger and vindictiveness particularly toward white women, but, as he stated later in the book, “Anger can blind human vision.” 

It works both ways. 

With the “Black Lives Matter” movement, I saw an inability to comprehend that people of color merely demanded the same due process, dignity, and justice given to white people. Those enraged by the protests could not put themselves in those people’s places or even imagine being in that position themselves. They were above it all, and facts didn’t matter. My impression was that they don’t understand because they generally don’t deal with black people personally, Generally speaking, their knowledge of black people is what they see on the news. Or they base their conclusions on the actions of a few, something they wouldn’t do with people of the same race and ethnicity.

There’s been an obsession with “sameness” that has baffled me since I was a child. 

Interesting analogywhen my child was born, I had to get an Rh immune globulin shot because I am Rh-negative and didn’t have the Rh factor marker to mix with Rh-positive blood. If I hadn’t done that, and my son was born Rh positive, my immune system would have made antibodies to reject what it detected as a foreign invasion by attacking his red blood cells. That foreign invasion response. The impulsive instinct to reject what isn’t the same, not close enough, and thereby threatening. It’s part of humanity’s defective design. I don’t recognize you, plain and simple. You don’t belong hereGet out. It’s like a bad science fiction movie where you can’t get through to the people affected and can’t save them.

Malcolm X said that, in writing this book, he hoped to help “save America from a grave, possibly even a fatal catastrophe.”

I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. 

I remember, years ago, while dating a biracial man, a black woman said to me, “He’s a black man, honey. You can’t possibly understand a black man the way he needs to be understood.” I didn’t know if she was right or wrong. Sure, I realized, from an early age, that discrimination and oppression were completely unacceptable. I was always willing to understand. I’m certainly a lot more aware now than I was then. Yet there is still more to learn.

Responding to speculation as to why he was the way he was, Malcolm X said, “To understand that of any person, his whole life, from birth, must be reviewed. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient.”

He talked a lot about how reading forever changed the course of his life. “People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book,” he said. (And although women were hardly a second thought in the time that he lived, this applies to them, too.) 😉

The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley has that ability to change lives. Mr. Haley did an excellent job with it. The pacing was slow—at times, a little too slow, but I’m glad I was patient. It is an important book to read. It proves, as far as I’m concerned, that reading is a must. It has been one of my saving graces in life, and it is what pulled Malcolm X up from the dark, deep, underground tunnels that kept him in the oppressor’s grip, a cycle of self-sabotage and self-loathing that his oppressors created for him and so many others like him.  

Exploring works like Native Son by Richard Wright and The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley is a great start for people interested in learning why this great divide continues to exist. 

However, according to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, “As of 2017, Americans spent an average of almost 17 minutes per day reading for personal interest (as compared to almost three hours watching television and 28 minutes playing games and using computers for leisure). Younger Americans (ages 15 to 44) spent, on average, less than 10 minutes per day reading for personal interest.”

I firmly believe a lack of reading and exploring is one of the many problems we have in this country. 

The truth is, you don’t have to like a person to learn from them, but I ended up liking the person who told this story. The tragic end to his extraordinary life saddens me. Malcolm X was open-minded and remained teachable. He came to understand we are not all alike, all of us white people, and it’s the same thing everyone needs to realize about every other race and ethnicity.

His conclusion was, it isn’t necessarily “the American white man who is a racist, but the American political, economic, and social atmosphere that automatically nourishes a racist psychology in the white man.” And that “it takes all of the religious, political, economic, psychological, and racial ingredients, or characteristics, to make the human family and the human society complete.” He felt certain if this weren’t the case, we’d have a humane, empathetic society where all of us, rich and poor, could be treated with dignity and respect. He liked the idea of not seeing an inherently evil “enemy” but rather a society that “influences him to act evilly.”

Even Christianity—a religion black people clung to for comfort and hope—became part of that racist psychology. He noted that “The Christian church returned to Africa under the banner of the Cross—conquering, killing, exploiting, pillaging, raping, bullying, beating—and teaching white supremacy. This is how the white man thrust himself into the position of leadership of the world—through the use of naked physical power.”

I so admire the spiritual courage this man had in his search for the truth.

And the truth is, essentially, what makes sense to you after all your exploration and your quest for authenticity. I say it all the time, no group, no matter who, what, or where is perfect. We always have a mix of good and evil. Or, to be kinder, some have seen the light, and others have yet to see it. Let’s hope they keep looking.

*****

“The most striking thing about the story of Rip Van Winkle is not merely that Rip slept twenty years, but that he slept through a revolution. All too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change, and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses, that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.” -Martin Luther King, Jr..

MORE BOOKS RECOMMENDED TO ME

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn along with Malcolm X

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs

Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois by W.E.B. Du Bois

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Negro History by Carter G. Woodson’s by Carter G. Woodson

WELCOME TO THE CULTURE CAVE – A NEW WORLD ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

I’ve recently created a site at https://culture-cave.spruz.net/ that allows members to share work, blogs, photos, videos, memes, etc. We also have groups, discussions, and chat rooms.

This social network is for everyone involved in the arts (literature/art/music, etc.). It is also for people who appreciate these contributions (book lovers, music lovers, etc.) All are welcome to share, educate, and learn in a supportive space. Recovery from anything is another welcome topic. We strive to heal, evolve, and succeed!

Our “events” feature allows members to post about online or real-life events, including book launches, signings, and promos.

Our “links” feature will enable members to post their websites for interested readers/clients, etc.

The chat rooms can be utilized by members to host events, meetings, demonstrations—whatever helps them in self-promotion, and we will assist with the invites. They also exist to just chat. 🙂

We can continue to build this site together, so if you think you and anyone you know might enjoy this opportunity, please join us. 

https://culture-cave.spruz.net/

If you have trouble registering, you may contact me at kyrianlyndon@kyrianlyndon.com. I will assist you.

Once you join, I ask that you read the “IMPORTANT” note on the left side of our landing page and then “How To Use” this site on our “DISCUSSION” board so that you can achieve the maximum benefits of membership.

Hope to see you there!

Feature photo by Aaron Lee on Unsplash

Image

JUST A LITTLE LOVE ON A CLOUDY DAY

Note – The photo above the poem is the back cover of my poetry book, Remnants of Severed Chains, designed by KH Koehler of KH Koehler Designs.

DAMN THE LIES AND TRUTH BE TOLD

THE ELUSIVE TRUTH

Fantasy often bests reality. Sentimentality can provide us with an illusion of innocence in a safe and familiar world. That’s fine, and it’s not hard to understand why people, in their everyday lives, cling to illusions and delusions that comfort and protect.

That said, most of us would say we are honest. We believe that we are. The trouble is, we can’t be honest with others until we are honest with ourselves. And we can’t be honest with ourselves until we know what is true—until we confront it, accept it, and deal with it however we must.

So, why would we not know?

Many of us grow up indoctrinated with a built-in belief system. The beliefs we hold may lead to harsh judgments—to the point of shunning, oppressing, and hating others. There is often an unwillingness to understand people who are different. And these core ideologies can simultaneously result in self-loathing and a feeling of being unworthy or never quite good enough. It’s the inferiority complex turned inside out—a desperate need to feel superior.

Along the lines of needing to be perceived a certain way, I’ve seen debates on how honest to be with children and whether they have a right to hit us with their perception of the truth if it isn’t favorable to us. The ancient rule that you respect all adults no matter what.

I believe children have the right to call out parents on their behavior, and that parents should address their concerns about any relative, family friend, or person in authority. If we care about people (and sometimes even if we don’t) but especially when we care about people, we need to listen to them when they tell us how we’ve hurt them even in the smallest of ways. We can’t be accountable while in denial, can’t grow and evolve, can’t set the example for the children who look to us for guidance.

Pretending we are perfect doesn’t serve anyone. It’s painful to acknowledge when we caused pain where we wanted only to love and protect, but we must. There are many hard lessons in life, just as there are other ways the truth may elude us.

A fair amount of clarity is essential in sorting out what is biased and what is factual. Specific characteristics and predicaments diminish that clarity. Here are a few:

  • Addiction/obsession (clouds perception, impairs judgment) – For example, I have found that people in recovery continue to gain clarity as they remain sober and clean.
  • A self-centered existence (usually correlates with substance abuse including alcohol and certain personality disorders)
  • Stress
  • Lack of self-care (sleep, healthy lifestyle, etc.)
  • Our agenda (of which we may or may not be aware)
  • Our vulnerabilities
  • Misinformation (I think being an avid reader of books, especially those that introduce you to different cultures and perspectives helps tremendously.)
  • Taking ourselves too seriously (also may correlate with substance abuse and certain personality disorders)

CAN WE HANDLE THE TRUTH?

Some of us fearlessly plunge into that seemingly endless abyss where we face painful truths and endure the grueling process of healing. Others deliberately avoid it or scatter a little bit of dirt to the side and then dart off in another direction, taking cover until they feel grounded enough to dig a little deeper. They don’t want to uncover the truth because they have an inner sense that it won’t serve them well. Indeed, at the moment, it won’t, but it definitely will in the long run. 

Ten years ago, I’d assume people could handle whatever I could. It never seemed to sink in that they were as vulnerable and fragile as I was once. My idea of being characteristically direct may have been someone else’s idea of being attacked.

At times, we feel an urgent need to resolve things, and, if we’re not patient, we can end up doing more damage than we intended . The goal is not to “hurt” people, and like any conflict, resolution can happen only when both sides are mentally prepared and open to that— willing to go where it leads. There must be a mutual willingness to get to the truth. When you come from a place of caring and love, you see that they are human and vulnerable, and you approach them that way. Besides, even with the vast amounts of knowledge, wisdom, and insight we acquire, we are all still vulnerable to one degree or another. 

THE PRICE OF DENIAL

In January of 2002, Psychology Today published an article by Bill Sullivan, Ph.D., about the devastating consequences lying has on our brain. “Dishonesty puts the brain in a state of heightened alert, and this stress increases with the magnitude of the lie,” he wrote. (It doesn’t apply to sociopaths lacking empathy, but most of us care about our trustworthiness and integrity.) “Symptoms of anxiety arise because lying activates the limbic system in the brain,” he explained. “When people are being honest, this area of the brain shows minimal activity. But when telling a lie, it lights up like a fireworks display. An honest brain is relaxed, while a dishonest brain is frantic.”

Denial has a price, as well, and it’s often quite steep. We see its cost while it continues to happen all around us. Don’t for a moment underestimate its power to destroy lives, institutions, countries, and ultimately civilizations. 

While in denial:

  • We don’t know why we want what we want or need what we need.
  • We don’t know what our vulnerabilities are.
  • We hurt people or put them in harm’s way.
  • We obsess over certain people and things, oblivious to why or the fact that it isn’t normal.
  • We’re unable to see our part in anything.
  • We don’t see ourselves or others with clarity, so we mischaracterize our behavior and theirs.
  • We take dangerous risks and put ourselves or keep ourselves in situations that have serious consequences.
  • We lie to ourselves and others.
  • With highly unrealistic expectations, we set ourselves up for disappointment and devastation.
  • We can’t take the right action because we make decisions without the correct information.
  • We lack empathy.
  • We have a constant need to do damage control.
  • We don’t learn from our mistakes, and so we miss life lessons that can empower us.

Being honest is not about unnecessary disclosure. It’s about separating fact from fiction, opinion, and popular beliefnotions that cause egos out of bounds, discrimination, exclusion, judgment, and condemnation. We pull the curtain on delusion and denial to let the light in. We choose clarity over confusion. It leads to more empathy, less vulnerability, and decisions based on expanded horizons and a more substantial knowledge base as we surpass our self-imposed limitations and embrace a wider world. 

YEAH, THE TRUTH DOES SET YOU FREE

We can wear masks for a lifetime, not knowing who we are or what is real. Or we can begin to peel off one layer of untruth at a time, just as if we were peeling an onion or discarding a myriad of veils.

In the process of uncovering and accepting the truth, the shame that drove us to compete and control begins to dissipate. We learn to love with our whole hearts—not just others but ourselves. We know we are vulnerable. We understand how vulnerable we are, so we walk away from people whose goal is to exploit our vulnerabilities. And we keep getting better at it. That’s good because before we understood, it was easy to lead us, fool us, and enslave us. 

Blessed with clearer vision, we can routinely examine our motives and expectations. We won’t always trust our egos, and that’s a good thing. People without clarity of conscience don’t question themselves. They won’t say, “I’m glad I caught that. I can refrain. I can resist. I can do the right thing.” They’ll keep doing what they’re doing, often not understanding what they’re doing or why.

Those of us searching for the truth are tired of being terrified of it. Denial has ceased to be our sole comfort and our only way to survive. The payoff in protecting our hearts, our image, and our secrets is no longer worth it. We came to fully accept that we are all struggling humans, equal in importance.

We continue striving to become more and more authentic. We continue to replace false with real. It’s not as easy as living in denial, but we know we have to get better. We know we have to do better, and it’s important to share what we learn. We are all teachers on this earth, just as we are all students. Sometimes people don’t mean to teach us anything, but they do. Learning doesn’t make you inferior any more than teaching makes you superior.

I love that we continually evolve, and we know better than we did in the past. We are worthy of the truth. We deserve that much.

Further Reading

30 Reasons Why People Lie

6 Reasons People Lie When They Don’t Need To

Feature photo (at the top) by Taras Chernus 

HOW TO WIN THE PRIZE IN A SMEAR CAMPAIGN

Smear campaigns. Some of you are familiar with them. It’s when someone is desperately trying to destroy another person’s reputation, beginning with his or her credibility. It’s not a situation where one caring person is confiding in another out of concern. It’s a hateful mission where the motives are insecurity and a need to do damage control.

I often speak out on this subject because I’ve seen it happen between friends (really frenemies), coworkers, lovers, and family members. The saddest thing is when it goes on in a recovery group where everyone is there to work on themselves and help each other. Why would you isolate and destroy vulnerable people who have likely suffered from narcissistic abuse and are working to correct learned behaviors?

It happens a lot. A friend of mine is a target of this right now. I’ve been a target myself in the past.

For some, including me, the obvious solution is to get out of this person’s circle abruptly, if necessary. If it’s impossible to avoid them entirely, I’d have as little contact as I can manage and refuse to participate. It’s easy to let them charm you when you’re hoping to resolve things, but confiding in them or pouring your heart out is usually a mistake. Just protect yourself. Let them say you abandoned them, rejected them, whatever they need to tell themselves. You don’t owe them a damn thing.

You may say, it isn’t right to have to sacrifice other relationships in a group by removing yourself. I think of it this way. Anyone successfully recruited in some war against you has never been in your corner. Your real friends will come to you. They will have your back and likely sever ties with the character-assassinating troublemaker. Sometimes people will go along with the narcissist to remain part of the crowd (like high school), but that’s not your problem. People believe what they want to believe.

I know it seems unfair, having to surrender without a fight. This person gets to win, and you don’t get to set the record straight. Let me repeat, TOXIC, as in detrimental to your health and well-being. Not worth it. If you’re dealing with the kind of person I’m talking about, you can’t fix it. The more you try, the worse it will get. Think “troll.” Yes, it’s like dealing with some internet troll. You’ll never get them to see things your way or empathize because they don’t really care about you. They’re not able to put themselves in your place. They’ll even take pleasure in your pain.

Humility is your friend here. Let your ego take the hit and move on. You trusted the wrong person. Cut your losses. You’re going to get good at this, and you’ll soon know to avoid these people like the plague, so you’re never in that predicament again.

Experiences like this are traumatic, but they help you learn and grow. They force you to look at whatever part you played in the whole mess, even if it was merely taking the bait from time to time. When we do that, we can easily say and do things that are ordinarily beneath us and, in doing so, strengthen the narcissist’s case. That’s why I say, drop the ball and run. It’s a trap, where you’ll always be damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

You’re dealing with dangerously fragile egos here. Because of what they experienced in life, they consciously or subconsciously, came to believe there is not enough love to go around. They see attention and admiration as a limited commodity. They need to feel they are more worthy and deserving of those things than you are, and second to none. They have to tell themselves they are the favorite, numero uno, the chosen one in every scenario. There are many reasons you may pose a threat. It can be anything. The damage control they do is to convince themselves and others that you are not better or more worthy because if you were, they couldn’t handle that. Underneath it all is an inner child seething with rage.

I’ll share a little story that explains, on a much lighter note, about taking the bait. My mother-in-law used to criticize me on unimportant things. She’d say something like, “She has everything in that diaper bag except the kitchen sink.” That would upset me because, like all new mothers, I wanted to believe I was handling things well. Instead of getting upset, I could have said something like, “Oh, no, the sink’s there. Check the zipper pocket.”

Here’s the key. It’s no fun for them if they can’t bring out the worst in you.

I’ve found it helpful, too, to figure out how I might have handled things better and how I can come out a better person. That’s not to say you weren’t a nice person before, or that I wasn’t, just that we are always striving to get better. What I’m saying is, when people tell you, “don’t lose the lesson,” that’s the critical part. That’s how you win. Continue to do the next right thing, one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Live your best life and strive for greater understanding. What’s going to happen is, people will eventually know not to mess with you.

Feature photo by alan9187 from Pixabay

Book Review: Don’t Make a Sound by T.R. Ragan

Let me preface this review with something I’ll exclude for the actual Amazon and Goodreads version. 

How do you feel about revenge plots —an eye for an eye of stomach-turning torture?

Yeah, I’m not a fan, even though I read and write terrifying books without losing a wink of sleep. Of course, the cruelty is worse when it happens to the victims, but it’s painful to endure even when it happens to the culprits.

I’ve seen almost consistently in my life that people who deserve terrible things to happen to them will make those things happen on their own. They’ve lived it already, are living it now or will live it, and none of it has anything to do with me. Satisfaction can’t possibly come from the same kind of brutality—where we now have more deranged perpetrators than we did initially.

In a book or a film, it’s a fantasy. I get it. I have no harsh judgment for people who enjoy it. While I do have a good sense of humor, I can also be a buzzkill. I don’t even like catfights or cake fights, as hilarious as they may be to some. They’re spiteful and childish and, in the latter case, mess up a perfectly good cake. So I understand and accept that we’re all different in terms of what we like to see, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You think Fifty Shades of Grey is fantastic and exciting? I think it’s awful, but knock yourself out. I’m glad there’s something out there that you enjoy.

What do like to see in terms of victim vs. culprit is justice served. That means people forever protected from those who’ve harmed them and may harm others. Even in real life, it’s never about punishment for me. It’s about self-protection and self-preservation. 

So, on to the review.

T.R. Ragan (Theresa Ragan) is a New York Times bestselling mystery and thriller author. I chose to read her book because I love thrillers. Amazon recommended it based on my browsing, and the reviews encouraged me further.

Two different storylines are going on hereOne was about a crime reporter named Sawyer Brooks and her sisters. They grew up in the eerie town of River Rock, where the gruesome murders of three young girls remained unresolved. Sawyer struggles to control her rage and paranoia due to the horrific abuse she suffered since she was a child. When she returns to River Rock for her grandmother’s funeral, another young teen is found dead in the same gruesome manner as the first three. Sawyer’s investigation leads to danger in River Rock’s darkest corners and reunites her with her similarly traumatized sisters.

The other story told in this book focuses on several underdeveloped characters who, while justifiably angry, were doling out torture against men who had abused them. Because of their lack of development, these women never felt real to me. Whenever their chapters came up, I couldn’t wait to get back to Sawyer. Throughout most of both stories, I wasn’t sure what the connection was. The author does tie it together eventually, and she does so quite brilliantly. On that note, I’m glad I was patient.

Don’t Make a Sound is a good, suspenseful page-turner, nicely paced with some great twists. The Brooks sisters are worth rooting for—admirable and relatable in every regard. As far as who did what and when they did it, the author certainly delivered. The ending was satisfying even with that nauseating torture stuff.

Lastly, Don’t Make a Sound is timely in terms of the “Me Too” movement. Most of us understand how distressingly common the abuse is, having been objectified and victimized since childhood. Many of us can recall multiple incidents—perhaps, too many to count, so we get it. However, if you are one of those who find the whole “Me Too” thing uncomfortable because of guilt or denial, find another book to read. And if you have no desire to learn and understand, just go away—far, far away.

BOOK REVIEW: TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH by Mary L. Trump

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”— Plato

*WARNING* Possible spoilers

5 stars *****

When I first opened this book on my Kindle, I figured my rating would be four stars, tops. The book’s subject, Donald Trump, has been distressing and depressing most of us for years, and we know why.

However, it doesn’t suffice to say that Mary L. Trump has done a great job covering this subject.

Everything she wrote was entirely believable and relatable. I loved the family anecdotes, especially the one about the holiday gift exchange. Family dysfunction is typical. We can all laugh about it, but, beyond silly, meaningless gifts, the level of dysfunction in the Trump family was brutal and overwhelmingly tragic.

Considering how the Trumps treated Mary, her parents, her brother, Fritz, Fritz’s wife, and Fritz’s seriously ill child, it surprised me to note how fair she was to the perpetrators of what I’d call highly traumatic narcissistic abuse.

Now, there are stories written out of anger and a need for revenge. There are also stories told with raw honesty, and as much compassion as the author can muster. I felt that Too Much and Never Enough came straight from the heart. Resentment seeps through, yes. How can it not? But the way the author has attempted to understand the people around her speaks volumes.

I would go so far as to say that Too Much and Never Enough is the most compassionate perspective you will ever get about this president. His enablers will never have this level of empathy for him. They are merely using him to their advantage. The same way his father did. I’m not saying Mary Trump wrote this book to help her uncle, but I think she wanted to help America and the rest of the world fully understand what we’re dealing with here.

To that end, she provides an extraordinary explanation for everything we see, and if you’ve been paying close attention to what’s been going on, it all makes perfect sense. If you’re familiar with narcissistic abuse, it makes even more sense. And she’s not giving him a pass here. She makes it painfully clear how dangerous it is to keep Donald Trump in office. I’m not giving him a pass either. Yes, my heart broke for him a couple of times. The book has made me more sympathetic toward him, but I have more sympathy for the rest of the world, dealing with the fallout of his tragedy.

A broken, terrified child is running our country. As Mary Trump stated, he’s still seeking approval from his dad.

In my opinion, he’s likely punishing him with a madman’s fury by punishing usall of us. It doesn’t matter whether we support him or not. He will punish anyone and everyone in any way he can.

“No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.”— Edmund Burke

In conclusion, I do wish everyone would read this book. I hope those who support Donald Trump will read it and see it for what it is and not merely an attempt to slander or humiliate him. It’s only possible if they approach it with an open mind and heart.

Maybe it’s too late for Donald Trump to get the help he should have gotten so many years ago, but he can still do the right thing and step down. Either way, we need to get him out of there.

“A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.”Michel de Montaigne

SWEET LAND OF FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR ALL

General apathy is a problem in this world.

We’ve seen it with the COVID situation. Mocking, taunting, and terrorizing people who adhere to the restrictions is a thing now. The perpetrators don’t value your life. To them, it’s all a big joke. I’m not sure if it’s a matter of selected compassion reserved for people who are like them and agree with them, or an issue of not having empathy at all.

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Image by Szilárd Szabó from Pixabay

Of course, it stands to reason then, they would rather not hear that black lives matter or that we need racial justice and equality. It makes them angry or uncomfortable, and maybe they will despise me for talking about it. But this problem is so much bigger than them or me or even George Floyd specifically. It’s not something that just happened or something unusual. It’s not a situation where there are two sides.

Believe me, the people who were not outraged by what happened to George Floyd, Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, and countless other black victims of police brutality were indeed outraged about the riots. When they mention George Floyd, they refer to his death as a tragedy and not a cold-blooded murder or lynching, which is what it was.

Some are quick to say, well, he had a violent past. Yes, that’s true. It’s also true that he served his time and was trying to turn his life around. But that’s beside the point. There was nothing—absolutely nothing— that justified excessive use of force in his arrest, let alone murder.

The truth hurts. But we have to deal with it. We have to talk about it because we must change the system.

Let’s talk about the riots.

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Photo by Amber Kipp on Unsplash

Most of us don’t want to see others get robbed or shot or suffer a devastating loss. Speaking for myself alone, I’m a humanist. I can’t stand to see anyone suffer or live in fear. We hurt people enough unintentionally because we are human. Still, when you harm others willfully and maliciously or wish it or condone it or ignore it, I don’t see your humanity at all.

And if you are willing to break the law during a COVID pandemic— defiantly putting others at risk so that you can buy a donut in person or get your stupid ass nails done, you don’t get to complain to me about any of this. You are willing to harm others because of your rage, yet you cannot grasp why some protesters may cross the line and seek to harm because of what anger they feel over something that actually matters.

In other words, it’s okay to be an angry white person, but it’s not okay to be an angry black person. We can deal with those angry white people armed to the teeth. But we can’t deal with a scared and unarmed black person who doesn’t want to get arrested. Violence isn’t the answer. Neither is breaking the law. It shouldn’t matter who you are.

Similarly, freedom of speech should extend to all. However, when we start speaking up about racial injustice, people want to shut it down.

And, as we know, many of those incensed over the riots were not okay with any form of protest, peaceful or otherwise. They are the same people always clamoring about a civil war and threatening to start one. What the hell do they think happens during a civil war? It would be far worse than anything we’ve seen play out during these protests.

They fear tyranny so much that they won’t protect themselves and others in a pandemic. Still, they don’t mind police using excessive force on protesters, and they don’t see a problem with deploying the military against its citizens. Isn’t that the reason they are always harping about the second amendment? Isn’t that why they fear the government is coming for their guns? Or do they think they will never be brutalized or killed standing up for what’s right because they are white? Think again. Power and greed continue to corrupt our government. Oh, wait, you already know that. It’s why you won’t give up your guns.

By the way, do the people who keep blaming Antifa for everything even know what Antifa is? I admit I didn’t know myself until recently. What I now understand is, Antifa stands for antifascism and is not an entity. It’s a movement, a stance you take. Anyone can claim to be Antifa. Didn’t Twitter recently close down an account of white nationalists pretending to represent Antifa and calling for violence? Why, yes, they did! There are also links to information about white supremacist groups showing up at protests and wreaking havoc attributed to Antifa and the protestors. The FBI supposedly investigated “Antifa” and came up with nothing. My guess is, most of the protesters are legitimate. Others have another agenda. I don’t know anything for sure. Neither do you. But I will say, it does make sense to me that white supremacists would sabotage a protest for racial justice. They know how to get their base outraged, and it’s not by murdering a black man in cold blood.

Let’s talk about the police.

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image by Matteo Modica on Unsplash.

Police have a difficult job to do. I know that. We need them, and, to enforce the law, they have to be tough. I get it. You’re talking to a huge fan of detective shows here. In the book I’m currently writing, my main character is a detective, and though he’s flawed like every other human, he’s been one of my favorite characters to write.

I always say it takes all kinds. I’ve met very kind police officers, and I’ve met some nasty ones. Believe it or not, I want to understand them, too.

According to the National Center for Women and Policing, “Two studies have found that at least 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10 percent of families in the general population. A third study of older and more experienced officers found a rate of 24 percent, indicating that domestic violence is two to four times more common among police families than American families in general.”

Women in these situations are often terrified of taking action because their partners have the backing of their fellow officers.

Hazelden Betty Ford.org notes, “In 2010, a study of police officers working in urban areas found that 11% of male officers and 16% of female officers reported alcohol use levels deemed “at-risk” by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).” Also noted is a “high prevalence of psychological and pathological stress disorders such as PTSD when already stressed officers are exposed to traumatic events.”

Police Psychology.com has information on its website about the problems and difficulties that unexpressed anger can create. They cite “pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile.” 

My question is, are we doing enough to help police officers, or is the system failing them, too?

We have outreach programs and resources, but, as explained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Law enforcement officers are often reluctant to seek professional support for a variety of reasons. Officers, who have been trained to act independently and maintain constant emotional control, may view the need for support services as a sign of personal weakness. Even if they recognize that they would benefit from it.”

Police officers must get the help they need.

We all want to believe most cops are good, many of them as brokenhearted as we are when they see what is happening.  If that’s true that most are good, then they outnumber the bad guys whose actions harm them as well. I get why they may be afraid to stand up to the others, but enabling them can’t be the answer. It makes them part of a toxic environment that could not exist without their cooperation or their silence.

Conclusion

One thing I’ve learned is, with all the fake videos and misinformation floating around, we need to fact check. A lot of people don’t bother. They pretty much parrot what everyone else is drilling into their brain. If you don’t have a mind of your own, you can easily get lost in all the bullshit. That’s why we are where we are today.  

Lucky for me, I stubbornly decided, many, many years ago, to follow my heart. To determine what I believed based on my experience — not what others told me. I’ve wanted no part of the hateful, self-righteous, self-entitled anger that crushed my spirit almost every damn day, growing up. It was like a poison doled out to everyone in the neighborhood, and I wouldn’t drink it. 

I am forever grateful that I didn’t.

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Suggested Reading:

Do You Dare to Feel the Pain of the World? by Sofo Archon

Feature photo above (spiritually oil painting) by Katiuscia Papaleo Artist – MilanoItaly.

BOOK REVIEW: Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly

I don’t know what was going on with my Kindle version of this book. The product details gave the print length as 159 pages. I noticed that at some point, it said I was on page 158, but I was about three-quarters of the way through it. Every page after that also said I was on page 158—up until the last. And the more I read, the more I wanted it to end, so, continually finding myself on the final page began to annoy me.

Of course, if you are human and empathetic, what you read in these pages will hurt. It’s not fiction. Well, it was the Victorian era, so it shouldn’t be all that surprising. Many of us, myself included, romanticize the period, love to hear about it, and live there in fantasy while watching a movie or reading a book, but we don’t always get the reality of how bad things were for women then. People saw them as subhuman.  If a man didn’t like his wife’s behavior, he could say she was insane and drop her off in a mad-house.  No one seemed to care what happened to most of these “patients” after that, many of whom were quite sane—at least when they arrived.

This book wasn’t what I expected, but I had to ask myself, what did I expect?  It sounded as if there would be a lot of drama and chilling suspense, but as a reader, I had to be glad nothing worse happened to Nellie during her undercover investigation of Blackwell Island’s mental illness facility. Not to say it wasn’t bad enough.

Ten Days is not a page-turner riddled with suspense. It’s not an easy read. For the most part, you’re being told, in a somber, wearying way, about the egregious reality of that time.

I found it a little jarring, too, at the end where she began on another mission to assess the predicaments women faced in seeking employment. And, of course, I thought it was over and really wanted it to be over by this point.

It doesn’t seem fair to say these things. The book was well written, and Nellie Bly’s writing style was certainly pleasant enough. She came across as an empathetic narrator, very kind and brave. In writing Ten Days, she did an outstanding service to us all. It was a courageous effort that needed a fearless warrior. She was it.

Further, it was a story that needed telling. Some people today take for granted all that our predecessors fought for and won. We think we don’t need women to stay on top of that, but we do.

I’m glad Nellie Bly wrote this book, and I’m happy I read it. So, kudos to Nellie Bly and a posthumous thank you for a job well done.

NEED AN ESCAPE? I HAVE FREE BOOKS AVAILABLE! 🥰

Some people have been searching for new books to read during the pandemic. I, myself, have taken the opportunity to download many books offered for free or discounted. (I LOVE to read and often purchase books at full price as well.) Now, I am getting in on the giveaways.

Effective May 18, 2020, and up until May 22, 2020, the Kindle versions of all three of my books will be available to download on Amazon for free. You can go right to those links (I posted them all) or read the descriptions and excerpts before you do.

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Some truths can be deadly. Danielle isn’t mopey or filled with teenage angst. Danielle and her cousin were abducted, drugged,and raped. But her cousin doesn’t remember, and her best friend won’t believe her. Now, her predators have returned, stalking her, harassing her at every turn. Nightmares plague her sleep, pushing her to the brink of exhaustion.Isolated, terrified, and grief-stricken, Danielle is paralyzed, unable to face the unmerciful world around her. Can she awaken her spirit and blossom into a woman of defiance and courage before the darkness eclipses her sanity?

Shattering Truths, the first volume in the Deadly Veils series, is a haunting and heartbreaking coming of age story. In the tradition of Judy Blume, and following in the footsteps of Thirteen Reasons Why, author Kyrian Lyndon doesn’t shy away from exploring the darker side of life that every teenage girl fears. Filled with suspense, a heart wrenching emotional journey, and twists that will leave you breathless, Shattering Truths will take hold of you on page one and never let go.

** Trigger warning for Shattering Truths: It’s not for the faint of heart.**

Download for Free on Amazon.com

Read an excerpt here.

Read another excerpt here.

Remnants of Severed Chains is a collection of over forty new poems by Kyrian Lyndon, author of A Dark Rose Blooms. This book continues with the same intensity as A Dark Rose, running the gamut of complex emotions that resonate with many. The author explains in the book’s preface that Remnants is about the process of healing and recovery, the willingness to learn and evolve. Thus, she embraces life’s astounding and most personal revelations—afflictions, addictions and relationships, the good and the bad, capturing life’s most devastating moments along with its celebratory moments of beauty and joy.

Sample poem

She stood alone on the edge,
In darkness,
A faint silhouette
Gazing at the night sky.
Rain fell,
A sprinkler to the trees
Thrashing in the wind.
She would flee,
Abandoning places,
Suddenly unrecognizable faces.
The glowing sun of Helios
Was a beacon
For eternal bliss,
Yet deceiving.
The caves beckoned.
Every corner,
Every crevice,
Held its own mystery,
Its truth.
 
Still the perilous journey
Was madness—
Pretty colors and then
Darkness.
It seemed to have no end.
She heard a child crying,
A child from long ago,
A prisoner of her soul.
Stone walls around her,
Hissing sounds,
Deep, treacherous waters—
Her mind was a fractured maze.
No one could see.
No one could hear.
No safe place to run,
She had to find the way
Out…
Home…
Every stone that healed
Brought her closer to
The truth,
The light.
The climb was steep,
But she held on,
Clawing her way
In blindness,
Accepting,
Facing,
Grieving.
 
Raindrops glistened on the rocks.
Flower petals littered
The wet grass.
She saw vibrant orchids
In the fading light of the moon,
And, alas,
Tranquil waters glistened
Aqua blue.
Like the ancient alchemical goddess,
She was crowned—
A newborn only beginning
To awaken,
Beginning to see,
Her soul bursting
With bliss.
The beauty within
Became the beauty
Eyes could see,
Not perfection—
Courage, perhaps…
Determination,
Defiance,
And love.
She was free.
No jewel would sparkle with
More radiance,
And the years would not tarnish its shine.

Download for Free on Amazon.com

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This collection of thirty poems by novelist Kyrian Lyndon spans decades throughout the author’s personal journey. From the soothingly peaceful to the bizarre, Kyrian runs the gamut of complex emotions that will resonate for many. The poems are poignant—honest, open, and straight from the heart, heartbreaking and with humor, embracing light and dark, hope and despair, triumph over adversity.

Sample poem

Oh, for the beauty of the melody,
The harmony sprinkled about.
He is but a glowing midge
Longing to play an Aeolian harp,
While holding you still and entranced
With the celestial beauty of a god.
Ah, but for the pain!
The seraphic master sets about casting shadows
So that I cannot see the sun,
Leaving but a vista of tomorrow’s joys and treasures.
The current focus becomes a precursor
Along the predestined path,
A traverse on the bridge.
That’s my all-too-rigid honeybee,
Leaving me with a concave and sunken universe,
A hollow path in my heart and my soul.

Download for Free on Amazon.com

If you download any of the books (or all of them), please consider letting me know what you think! I’ve developed some pretty thick skin. But then, again, I have not heard anything too harsh thus far. 🙂

HOW ARE YOU FEELING THESE DAYS?

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The sun rises with
Foreboding crow caws,
While the day brings
Sirens of uncertainty.

Allergies persist.
Well, for the lilac pansies,
The snapdragons,
And the daffodils…
Oh, and the tulips in all colors,
Beautiful and bold.

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We see the sun
From behind the glass.
We hear the rain.
Upstairs, there is music.
He’s singing—
Playing guitar.
 
Below we talk like survivors
Of dystopian madness
Taking shelter in a cave.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Are you?”
“Yes.”

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The days are longer.
Open windows let in the breeze.
Outside, the trees are tall and proud.
With all their flowers,
Cherries,
And leaves.
Yet we—
We are powerless,
Our illusion of safety
Violated once more.
 
Oh, but the birds chirp in a frenzy!
Come play.
The earth is alive!
We need to laugh and
To cry.
Everything is tragic
 And beautiful.
 
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But some have no one to talk to,
Little, if anything, to eat,
No way to get well,
And nowhere to hide.
Others rise to an occasion
They never could have fathomed,
Working toward their lifelong dream
With infinite empathy.
Does it wreak desolation?

We don’t even know the extent
Of how harsh life can be.
People die for greed.
 
Dreaded knock on the door now.
No one should come here—
Maybe not for a while.
Uneasy eyes
Behind masked faces.
Down the stairwells then,
One flight at a time,
I go beyond the door,
Where the world is.
Experience it once more,
For a short time.
The sun is bright
Across a vivid blue sky.
There’s the scent of fresh-cut grass
And the sweet caress of the wind.
It’s like a summer day
With pillowy clouds
And butterflies.
The world’s magnificent beauty.

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 Then it’s back to the safe place.
Do you have one of those?
A safe place to be?
I hope you do.
 
Because the stars are still there at night,
Like the glorious moon.
I watch them as I hope
Things get better.
Like they always did before,
At least, for a little while.


“How Are You Feeling These Days” poem by Kyrian Lyndon

Photo credits (from top to bottom):

Crow – Alexas Pansies – Shirley Snapdragons – Metsikgarden Tulips – Annca Cave – Stocksnap Cherry blossom trees – Dewdrop157 Dogwood Trees – Brinnington Bird in Tree – bardia Hashemirad on Unsplash Landscape – Larisa-k Clouds – Johnsongoh Fantasy Stargazing – Larissa-k

My Review of “In Pieces” by Sally Field

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Sally Field is one of those people who notices her patterns and vulnerabilities and, as a result, digs deep for answers. Because of that, she continually evolved as an actress, as a woman, and as a human trying to survive all the madness. That type of constant transitioning brings wisdom and strength, but it also leads to unlimited capacity for empathy.

Sybil was the first movie of hers that I watched after having read the book. While reading In Pieces, I had to go back and watch Sybil again. The woman is brilliant, and I can tell you, after reading her memoir, she’s badass as well.

I never realized how many movies she’d been in—at least 38! It was fun to read about the filming of many of those because she shined in every single one that I saw—Norma RaeSteel MagnoliasMrs. DoubtfireForrest Gump. She even played Aunt Betsey Trotwood in David Copperfield—a made-for-TV movie adapted from one of my favorite novels.

If you are a fan of Sally’s movies, you will fall in love with Sally while reading In Pieces—the same way you fell in love with Sybil and Norma Rae when Sally became those characters on the screen.

Ms. Field wrote In Pieces herself and did a beautiful job of it.

At times, there were some unflattering things about others that I didn’t think were necessary. I wasn’t sure I’d be patient if that continued throughout the book. It didn’t. The more you read her words, the more you realize how fair she tries to be to everyone involved. Her kindness, her understanding, outweighs the need to point fingers and punish the people who inadvertently harmed her. It’s her raw honesty and accountability combined that leaves me in awe. She never tries to make herself look good or perfect or as if she is forever the victim but never the culprit. The rest is her truth, which she has every right to divulge. The “Me Too” revelations are merely a part of her incredible story because she triumphed over all of it.

In short, I liked this book from the beginning, and, by the end, I loved it.

Nobody would see the pain behind that beautiful Gidget smile of hers, but Sally Field has been so incredibly brave from childhood to this very day, and she has continued to grow more beautiful with time.

WHY DO YOU WRITE? ARE YOU STRANGE LIKE ME?

As someone in quarantine who thrives on isolation, I had to reflect on that recently, and I was inspired to divulge what I concluded, partly to see if anyone could relate.

For the longest time in my life, I believed writing was my destiny or my calling, and that there was never any choice about it. It made sense because I started doing it when I was eight years old and kept on no matter who or what happened in life. It was automatic and the equivalent of breathing (almost 🤣). Romantic relationships were usually complicated since I gave so much to writing and didn’t want to make that same type of investment in potential partners.

My marriage was different because I had a child to raise, and my maternal instinct took over, allowing me to devote myself to my husband and my son. That became a permanent bond. With others, it was most likely I’d eventually back away. Real friends were the only exception to that, and even with my nearest and dearest, I can shut down in the moments I need to and remain in my little bubble until one or the other calls upon me. (This COVID lockdown has me in shutdown mode more than usual.)

So, what I realized is, there is a high probability that I started writing for one simple reason. It allowed me to escape to a world far removed from reality. And that was where I wanted to be. It was never that I didn’t care—more like I cared too much, and I knew it, and it hurt.

As a child, like so many children, I was blown away by The Wizard of Oz. I grew to love role-playing and parallel universe fiction. When role-playing games became on online obsession, combining these two elements, I was among the obsessed. What more could I ask for than the opportunity to vanish into a fake world of my own choosing and explore it fearlessly without ever having to face any consequences?

It’s a weird thing to explain because, from the moment I could fully experience it, the real world has thoroughly fascinated me. I immensely enjoy being out there whenever I am. But, yes, in the general sense, I prefer fantasy to reality. I always have, and I know I’m not alone in that. It’s not a sad thing, not to me. You can be happy and sad, laughing or crying, talking up a storm or perfectly still, and it’s all good. I love and embrace it all, but when I can’t deal at that particular moment, I don’t. I thought it was the poet in me who felt that way, but maybe it’s just me.

I’m not sure if any of it is normal, but becoming aware of it did make me feel selfish. At the very least, it made me realize I have been selfish at times. (Ironically, I had to get in touch with reality enough to understand how deeply flawed I am, and to begin working on it.) 😉 That work began years ago and continues to this day.

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Still, I had to ask myself this question. If what I had wanted all along was to escape reality, why did I base some of my work on things I’d witnessed or experienced?

Well, for one thing, I compartmentalized my feelings and traumas. The people on the page were not real because I’d turned reality into fiction. I was playing God, and, most importantly, I was in control. I needed to be in control. (The focus of my work, by the way, has now shifted to 90% fiction.)

The good news here is, everything is all about learning and growing. It never stops, and because of that, I’ve become increasingly grateful and so incredibly appreciative of the people in my life.

It’s much easier to be “present in the moment” when you know to cherish it! I find that these days, I genuinely care without needing anything in return. So, I’m not all bad. 😆

I suppose the need for self-protection will override progress when necessary, mostly out of habit, but in this life, if you’re committed to improvement, you will achieve it!

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FIGHT FOR SANITY TO BE RESTORED & PEACE WITH SURRENDER

One day at a time? I used to wonder why people with thirty years of sobriety or more would say “recovery” was one day at a time. For a newbie, yes. I got that. But those of us with more than five years? I’d say, “Well, I’m committed to my recovery. I’m grounded, and I’m not going back, I promise you.”

So, I have twenty-four consecutive years of “abstaining.”

I often forget exactly how long it’s been because it truly is one day at a time.

A Disease of the Attitudes

It’s never been so much about the physical compulsion for me. I never had a hangover, let alone a blackout. I didn’t do rehab or detox or spend time in jail.

Addiction, however, is a disease of mind, body, and spirit. I came across that explanation on Hazeldon.org, the other day, and I wholeheartedly believe that.

Before his death in 2016, educator/counselor/motivational speaker John Bradshaw authored many books on what he believed to be the root of all addictions—codependency. Codependency, in his view, was toxic shame. I’d also heard it referred to as the “Disease of the Attitudes.”  It is trauma induced, but there is also a lot of learned behavior, as many people grow up in dysfunctional families.

The disease has many manifestations. In short, something or someone has control over us to the extent that it clouds our perception and impairs our judgment, making life on life’s terms unmanageable.

Under these circumstances, we begin to exhibit narcissistic behavior, something that is common in our society to varying degrees, and more common, it seems, in addicts/alcoholics. 12-steps programs seek to correct that very behavior, along with the self-centeredness and self-obsession. It is not to be confused with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, although there are people in recovery who have that affliction. More so, addicts are people who have been abused by narcissists, including those with NPD. How narcissistic we become likely depends on the amount of time we’ve spent putting up with our narcissistic abusers. We catch their “fleas,” so to speak.

Sadly, we emerge with feelings of unworthiness. Down deep, we feel inferior, so we tell ourselves whatever we need to say to ourselves to maintain the delusion that we’re not only worthy, we’re better. We don’t even realize we think we are better, and yet we communicate that to others. We act as if we are unique and more important than everyone else, and we’re oblivious to all of it because we take ourselves way more seriously than we should.

We don’t know who we are, so we choose a mask, and we wear it. Denial can be such a comfort.

On a subconscious level, we are fiercely determined to preserve our delusions and denials and protect all of our “secrets.” We may become bullies with an eye out for any perceived threat. There is a constant need for damage control.

We use people. They help provide the attention, admiration, and validation we need, and they help support and promote our altered perceptions of what’s real.

We become con artists who can convince anyone of anything, turn things on and off as needed, and find a million different ways to seduce people. We learn that sex is not the only way to do that.

Often, too, we lack empathy. We are self-obsessed and so unable to put ourselves in someone else’s place. We’ve lost the connection where we feel what others are feeling. Our agendas keep us busy, along with trying to control everything, including how we are perceived by others. Maintaining the delusions and denial is nothing short of exhausting.

And we don’t hold ourselves accountable for our actions. Instead of learning from our mistakes, we make excuses. We get tangled in a web of lies we’ve created.

So, when we finally arrive at that place of surrender, we are broken. We’re needy and vulnerable.  We crave attention from others. It’s a drug, and whenever someone complies, it’s a temporary fix. It doesn’t work because, like any other drug, the euphoria fades, and you remember the pain and torture of what you truly fear. Hence, we need fix after fix.

Why There is More Danger Than We Realize

As an addicted person, we have, at least, some awareness of the danger we pose to ourselves. We may, at some point, realize the harm we cause others. We take risks we would not ordinarily take. However, there are some more insidious pitfalls that we never see coming.

Our “needs” will lead us to toxic codependent relationships that can put us or keep us in dangerous situations with severe consequences. People inclined to use our fragility against us will instinctively take advantage, and we will unintentionally draw them to us. Sometimes, they suffer from the same affliction, except they are true narcissists who will apply what they’ve learned to get what they want. Their desperation is so great, they can’t see past it, and neither can we.

These are predators who will love bomb the shit out of you and play to all your vulnerabilities by telling you precisely what you want to hear. They’ll idealize you, place you on a pedestal, and you’ll let them do it because what they offer is what you want. And the moment you’re not doing what they want you to do, they’ll begin to devalue you. It can be a frenemy, a lover, a co-worker, a family member, or even another person in recovery. When they can no longer control you, they’ll insult you in passive-aggressive ways, threaten to abandon you or lash out with cruel vindictiveness you’ve never seen the likes of throughout your wretched existence.

So, why is this important to mention?

It is unfortunately common. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve lived it and I’ve blogged about it,  It’s also madness. It will leave you traumatized and shocked, feeling emotionally raped. For the most fragile people, it’s caused mental breakdowns, even suicide. It’s hard to explain how this sort of bondage messes with your head, but all rational thinking goes right out the window.

The good news is, once you become aware of what’s going on inside of you, your needs will begin to change. You’ll get better and better at spotting the red flags, and your boundaries can protect you.

You Can Do It

It may take a bit of perilous soul-searching and coming face-to-face with the terrifying darkness lurking within, but we can fix this. Real narcissistic abusers (NPDs), however, cannot.

At the same time, not everyone is ready to plunge into that seemingly endless abyss where we face painful truths about ourselves and endure the grueling process of healing. We deliberately avoid it, or we scatter a little bit of dirt to the side and then dart off in another direction, taking cover until we feel grounded enough to dig a little deeper. Some people, sadly, will never be ready.

As for the rest of us, damn the lies! We got sick and tired of the drama and the feeling of dread whenever the phone rang. We were ready to love with our whole hearts, leaving the agendas behind. Hey, it’s not as easy as living in denial, but we knew we had to get better, that we had to do better. We can only be honest with others if we’re honest with ourselves. For that reason, we have to know what’s real, and, over time, we’ll peel off layer after layer of untruth.  We want to make life decisions as informed individuals with ever-increasing clarity.

Sooner, rather than later, we come to learn how to stop taking ourselves so seriously, which I’ve discussed at length in another blog. I talk about embracing your vulnerability, but, the truth is, we have to know what those vulnerabilities are, so we can protect ourselves when it really is necessary. When we fully accept that we are all just struggling humans, equal in importance, the shame that drove us to desperation will begin to dissipate.

I’ve come to notice that most people don’t like it when I say we are equal in importance and that no one is superior to anyone else. For sure, it’s not a popular thing to go babbling on about, but I do it because it’s part of a huge problem in this world — the less who contribute to it, the better.

We’ll get rid of that all or nothing mentality, too—winner takes all. We must have flexibility and balance in our lives.

In this process of recovery, we come to understand the importance of examining our motives and expectations in every situation. We may find they are not reasonable or realistic, and that we can’t trust our egos. People without clarity of conscience don’t question themselves. They won’t say, “I’m glad I caught that. I can refrain. I can resist. I can do the right thing.” They’ll keep doing what they’re doing, often not understanding what they’re doing or why.

We’ll be able to put ourselves in someone else’s place and take care with our words. For example, I’m always wary of leading anyone in the wrong direction, so I’m very direct. Sometimes because we’re kind to people, they think a romance is possible. In the past, that wouldn’t have bothered me because, hell, I had another fan to add to my collection. It fed my ego. Today, I am sincere in not wanting to hurt anyone. I’ve become interested in people for who they are and not for how they validate me.

I’ve also found that the maturity and wisdom we gain in “doing the work” allows us to resolve conflicts like adults because we are open, and we genuinely care about others. I don’t mean engaging with those that have no concern or regard for us and who will only do us harm. Nope, we’ll be avoiding people like that. In the past, it was too easy to lead us, to fool us, to enslave us, and that’s just not happening anymore. It’s essential to continue strengthening our boundaries and to pay attention! Know how to differentiate between genuine compliments and someone who is love bombing you because they have a fast-lane agenda. Shut down the love bombing. It’s a trap. We must hold on to our serenity and our peace. Newsflash: Love bombing doesn’t only happen in romance.

Anyway, we won’t be wasting time and energy on damage control. Instead, we’ll be acknowledging our mistakes and learning from them, not making excuses.

Of course, we don’t always have it down to the point where we’re invincible. It’s a constant effort that gets more automatic with time, but we never stop being vulnerable. We have to be patient with ourselves and our healing process and also with the healing journeys of others. (That’s a lot harder than it sounds. 😉 )

Avoiding Obstacles

So, what’s in the way of our surrender?

I’ve often heard, “But I can’t go to those 12-step meetings. I’m not comfortable.” Another deterrent for some is what they’ve referred to as “the God thing.” Someone in recovery suggested they are egotistical if they don’t subscribe to the most popular concept of God. Others seemed to invalidate a person’s sobriety and solid footing, claiming he or she was on the wrong path.

Let’s talk about the religious part first. Those who have other perceptions of God are fully aware that greatness surrounds and exceeds us all. We are in awe. Aside from that, I personally believe all the good around us and within us is God, and that God can also be conceived as “Good Orderly Direction.”

As so eloquently stated by Louisa Peck in her blog, A Spiritual Evolution, “Good Orderly Direction is more than the antithesis of fuck it; it’s the antithesis of ego. It is a form of caring, of knowing that your choices matter and seeking those that will feel right in the long run.”

Regardless of where that “good orderly direction” comes from, it keeps you on the right path. It’s there if you want it to be, and it’s where I direct my infinite gratitude. We can’t fall into the trap of trying to impress the masses. Let them do what works for them. You do you.

As for the social anxiety. I have it, too. We don’t like it when we’re not comfortable. That’s why we’ve turned to other methods of coping with reality—using drugs, alcohol, and other things to the point where we know something’s not right with us. It’s good to push through; yes, we won’t ever get comfortable by avoiding the problem. But if you can’t do it, you can still get with the program or benefit from its wisdom.

You can read the literature, work the steps, and learn a better design for living, and you can do it in the way that is best for you. What we don’t want moving forward are obstacles to our healing. Nothing and no one should prevent us from taking back our lives and restoring our sanity.

Conclusion

Recovery is an ongoing, permanent pursuit requiring a day-by-day commitment to better choices, requiring continuous reminders of, that’s not the way we do things anymore. We are never beyond reproach or incapable of making mistakes or bad judgments and reverting to old patterns. You can be physically sober for decades and still be an ass.

The learning, growing, and healing never ends. I love that we know better than we did in the past.

What I believe is; we should be consistently evolving. And every person we know has something to teach us whether they have no time in recovery or fifty years.

Appreciating who and where you are while also understanding who and what you’ve been is a good thing. We deserve the truth, don’t you think? And we’re worthy of it. We don’t have to be who others taught us to be when we came into this world. The people we looked to for guidance did what they could with the best of intentions and whatever awareness they had. It simply wasn’t enough.

Recommended Link:

How to Make Your Ego Your Bitch by Gary Z. McGee

Feature photo by bessie @ https://pixabay.com/users/bessi-909086/

Kyrian Lyndon’s Reviews: The Meaning of Matthew

Ordinarily, even with what appears to be ADD, I can read several books at a time. My curiosity pushes me through. Following a recent injury and long recovery process, however, I found myself unable to get into reading and leaving so many books unfinished.

Then the anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death came up—an unnecessarily cruel tragedy that affected so many of us. For whatever reason, I realized I wanted to know more about Matthew. Surely, he was more than this gay poster child that people murdered because he was different.

All my life, I’d heard people claim that those who were on a “different” path from what they interpreted as the “right” path are the evil ones. But when you see where hate for those who are different can lead, it’s hard to fathom that there is any worse evil than these self-righteous individuals who are so lacking in empathy.

We don’t need any more evidence, do we? And, yet, if we keep reading, keep watching, keep listening, we witness how unbelievably depraved “humanity” can get.

Still, I wanted to know this story, and, as a mom, I wanted to learn it from his mother—a person who truly knew and loved him.

Judy Shepard said so much in this book without making it, in the least, about herself. She seemed determined that Matthew was the focus, beginning to end, who he was besides that poor baby boy you keep hearing about every October. You think how awful, how sad, but we know so little about him.

Well, throughout this reading experience, Judy Shepard’s honesty floored me. Among other things, she divulged that Matthew wasn’t the saint the media portrayed. With whatever flaws he had, he was also lovable and sweet with a very kind heart. She had loved him wholeheartedly knowing exactly who he was, and this—this is the kind of love we all deserve. Not the type where loved ones put us on a pedestal we can’t possibly live up to, secretly detesting us when we fall short or blindly worshiping us for all the world to see. She knew her child. She knew that different kids had different needs, and, that, even with the heartbreak of specific hopes you have to put aside for this precious being you cherish with all of your heart, acceptance is critical.

Mrs. Shepard wrote this book so intelligently, so lovingly. I read it in just a couple of days, and I couldn’t put it down.

Fortunately, in this storytelling, we also see how beautiful humans can be. During this unspeakable tragedy, many gave their unconditional support to the Shepard family without hesitation and were capable of such unconditional love.

You know, I’ve often heard people say that it’s arrogant for a writer to think he or she can teach anyone by sharing a story. They are so wrong! This book was another reminder to me of how another person’s words, thoughts, regrets, and perspectives can make one stop and think. To feel something like, “I can relate to this or that,” or “Wow, that gave me new insight into something or another.” That is the beauty of reading.

We learn from anyone and everyone, and we are always teaching whether we mean to or not.

So, hopefully, after reading this heartrendingly excellent work of non-fiction, I have opened the mental corridors of my mind that allow for the processing of fantasy realms and old classics that can transport me instantly to the past.

Sometimes, reality hurts too much.

ANNOUNCING: FIRST GIVEAWAY EVER TO CELEBRATE BRAVE WINGS !

Brave Wings will be doing a Halloween/anniversary giveaway beginning on October 5th and ending at midnight on October 31st. Join in the fun!

You may enter by doing any or all of these things:

Like this blog post.

Share this blog on Facebook or Twitter.

Like Brave Wings magazine onFacebook.

Follow us onTwitter.

Follow us on Instagram.

Don’t be discouraged if you can only do one of those. As long as you let us know what you did, you will still be eligible to win.

AND VERY IMPORTANT!

Please let us know in the comments what, of the above actions, you’ve taken, including if you were already a follower on any of these sites.Also, excluding the top prize of the gift card, please list any and all of the books and prizes that appeal to you.

List of prizes:

$25 Amazon Gift Card

Uno…

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BRAVE WINGS CONTRIBUTORS SHARE THEIR SCARY GHOST STORIES !

I contributed a ghost story here for Brave Wings, along with authors, Johanna Lamon and Kimberly Hoffman. Fun stuff! Mine includes an excerpt from my novel, Shattering Truths. You can win a copy of Shattering Truths by entering Brave Wings magazine’s giveaway at https://bravewingsmag.com/. There are a lot of other prizes, too – books, games, and gift cards. Enjoy the ghost stories and then check it out! 🙂

THE HITCH-HIKER : A TRUE STORY

by Johanna Lamon, translated from French by James Gault.

At the beginning of
June 1996, two youths came out of the Akido club in Béziers. They had just
finished two hours of martial arts training, but they didn’t want to meet up
with the other club members. They left, knowing Bruno has his Baccalaureate
exams the next day. Tired and in a hurry, they made their way to the car park.
Sylvain, nineteen years old, took the wheel and off they set.

A few minutes
later, on the deserted road, the two boys noticed a silhouette on the right
hand side of the road. Sylvain slowed down. As they approached, they saw it was a young
girl, fragile and diaphanous. Sylvain stopped the car. Bruno rolled down the
window and asked her if she wanted a lift home, reminding her it wasn’t wise…

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THAT DEVOTED GIRL SHATTERED BY YOUR TRUTH IS FREE

Kyrian Lyndon

baby-2616673_640

I had a dream about you last night and woke up crying. I couldn’t sleep after that.

In the dream, you were angry with me—full of anger, full of hate. You had shut the door on me and left me out in the cold. I kept calling to you with a child’s unbearable anguish. You didn’t hear.

At some point, I cried, “Help me, daddy,” and finally, you came. I thought you were going to hit me or hurt me with your scarred and violent soul, but you didn’t. You hugged me. Well, you didn’t just hug me. You gave me the kind of hug I’d wanted from you since childhood, the comfort I always needed, and I didn’t want to let go.

I miss your smile and your jokes, Dad, your handsome face, and all of your wisdom, but I have to ask. Does a father realize he is…

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EXCERPT FROM SHATTERING TRUTHS

by Kyrian Lyndon

CHAPTER TWO

It
might have been a glorious beach day.

Horned
larks looked happy among the plum and bayberry shrubs, yellow sunflowers, and
purple roses. The blue waters of the Long Island Sound were as beguiling as the
landscape. Young men were perched on railings that glistened under the glare of
the sun—ogling, whistling, and confessing their undying love. I witnessed this
phenomenon whenever I walked to and from the bus stop in my school uniform, and
came to realize I could easily disrupt traffic and possibly cause a collision.

I
had never achieved a placid familiarity with the horn-honking and people
clamoring for my attention. I had spent many years feeling like the ugly
duckling muddling haplessly through the dark green marsh. If I had advanced
from there at all, it was to become the tiniest winged critter, never able to
keep up with the flock…

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