if you could turn back time

Today we turn back time, or turn forward, you get my point. Daylight Savings Time, a wonderful notion given us by Benjamin Franklin to make life and winter a bit more burdensome and confusing twice a year. You can quote me if you want to on Turn Back Time, even Cher it if you want. Sorry, that was bad. But so is she. Ah, I ramble.

Time travel has always fascinated me. If I owned a DeLorean I would use it from Time to Time (Bazinga). As I changed the clocks this morning, the notion again bounced around my tiny cerebellum. I was reminded of a very serious line from one of my favorite movies, Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it.

In the movie, a man, played by a young Christopher Walken, suffers a terrible car accident. Confined to a coma for years, when he comes out he finds that he has the ability to predict the future by merely holding the hand of a person. In particular, he could predict terrible events and ultimately alter the course of history through his gift.

His Doctor, a Holocaust survivor, recognizes the awesome power of his gift and asks him the pivotal question, one that has intrigued me since the day I saw the movie.
“Knowing what you know, do you think that if you could go back in time and alter history, would you?”

On September 28, 1919, Private Henry Tandey, a British soldier serving near the French Village of Marcoing encounters a wounded German Lance Corporal. His rifle aimed at the wounded soldier, Tandey chose to spare the young man’s life. He could not bring himself to shoot a wounded man. That German Soldier was named Adolf Hitler and he went on to become the third most murderous tyrant in recorded history. Had that soldier fired, Nazi Germany would have never existed. Do you think that Henry Tandey would want a re-do after that?

Hitler is but one example. There are so many.

So I ask you, on this lazy Sunday morning, if you could turn back time and reverse a major Historical event that forever impacted World History, or even a small one in your personal life, would you?

Keep in mind the Butterfly Effect as you ponder this. And that, in order to truly alter our/your world as we know it you may be required to murder someone. Could you do it?

Food for thought. I’m curious about your answers.

A sidearm of reality

Most weekdays at about 4:30 I can expect a call from my buddy and Masonic brother Jeff. He likes to call me on his ride home as he is stuck in traffic. It’s his time, no wife and small children demanding his attention and he chooses to call me. It is a special friendship, and due to his complete dedication to his family he doesn’t have many. This is not lost on me. The respect I have for him is immeasurable and his friendship will never be taken advantage of. It should also be noted that he is one of the few people that can say whatever he wants to me without fear of offending.

Yesterday, true to form I got his call. I was happy to hear from him.

We talked about the usual stuff, his family, his job, the state of our Masonic Lodge. He never fails to prod me about my health, knowing that I usually sugar coat it he pushes me until I tell him the truth. I’m not sure why I try. Yesterday, the conversation took an unusual twist.

“So, you mentioned that you bought a new 9mm last month. Tell me about that” he said.
“Not much to tell, bud. I found a good deal and I bought it”, I replied.
“Do you carry it?”
“Of course.”

The silence on the other end was deafening. Finally, he spoke.

“I was going to save this for a face to face, but I need to get this out”, he said.
“Get what out?”, I asked him.
“Why? There, I said it.”
“Because I can, I suppose. My father always carried. I believe in the Second Amendment. I like to be prepared to defend myself or be a good Samaritan. I feel very comfortable with it strapped to my waist. And before you say it, I’m not looking for trouble.”
“Listen”, he said. “I’m all for it, the whole Second Amendment thing. The protection of life and property, I get it. But you’re…”
“I’m what?”
“You’re different.”
“How am I different?”
“People in your situation are prone to Depression. I read up on your condition and there is a very high suicide rate in CKD patients and dialysis patients in particular. I’m worried that you might use the 9mm and take my buddy away.”

I thought for a moment. I couldn’t argue with his facts or begrudge him his motives. He is a great friend.

“Jeff, you know me as well if not better than anyone, but when have you ever seen me exhibit signs of depression?”
“Truthfully, I haven’t. But I can’t believe that you haven’t with all of the shit that you’ve been through. And I know you lie to me a lot when I ask you how you are.”

He had me there. Guilty as charged. My entire family accuses me of the same thing. And they all think that I must be depressed. But I’m not a Theater-trained actor, I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m a terrible liar. Yet they, and now Jeff don’t believe that I’m fine.

I explained to Jeff that I’m fine. He apologized for speculating as to my mental health. I assured him that it was fine, that his reasons were admirable, and thanked him for his concern.

After we hung up, I thought a little deeper on it.

I have lied to a lot of people about my health, not to worry them or out of a desire to just be treated normal, not as the “sick guy.” But I never lie to myself. I am not depressed.

My Doctor’s, my family, the nurses at my clinic constantly ask how my mental state is. It’s no big secret that patients like me get angry. Angry with life, with God. One guy committed suicide last month. He left a suicide note that simply read “I cant take the pain anymore.” It’s a real thing.

But not me. I am the anomaly. I am the happy patient. The jokester. The guy that plans for his next good day instead of living for treatment days. I really feel ok most of the time and most importantly I still find JOY in life.

I have a wonderful family. I get along famously with my ex-wife. My relationship with my children is tremendous. My oldest daughter tells me she loves me almost every day by phone or text. My oldest boy trusts and confides in me all the time. When he had food poisoning on Monday, he called me at 6:30 AM because I was the first person he thought to call. My youngest boy both admires and respects me and looks forward to opportunities to just sit and talk. My youngest daughter, she adores me. She tells anyone that will listen that I am her best friend. My mother, she welcomed me into her home at the lowest point in my life and has made me her first priority. All of these things equal one big conclusion.

These people are my reason for living.

If I was to die of natural causes, something I work hard at trying to avoid, they would be sad. If I committed suicide they would be devastated. Bottom line, I recognize the lure of suicide but I could never willingly cause pain to the ones I love. It’s selfish. And that is not me.

So where does the gun fit into all of this? Does anyone think that I didn’t think about the suicide thing when I decided to purchase it? I thought long and hard and I decided that it wasn’t an issue. Because I’m secure enough to know that I’m not at risk. I am a perpetually positive person with things that I want to do and places I want to go. There are weddings I want to go to and future grandchildren I look forward to bouncing on my knee.

The gun is just what it is. Protection. A sense of security. A manifestation of a Constitutional right. And maybe, just maybe, it is a reality check. Knowing that I can end it any time can keep me on the right path and in some morbid way, remind me to look at what I have to live for.

We all need something like that in our lives.

What’s your Superpower?

Up next on the “Never gonna happen but it’s fun to think about” list is…
“What would be your Superpower?”

It is only fitting that Superman would ask this question but bear in mind that of all of my Super abilities are really of no great help to me in achieving satisfaction (would lingerie-penetrating X ray vision count towards my happiness?…you decide).

There are several things that I wish I could control, a lot involve a re-do or reboot of sorts but I have learned that to do certain phases of my life over I would not have certain things that I cherish, my family for example. And for all of my misdeeds they have had the positive effect of making me into the person I am today. I kinda like who I am now so I will table the redo.

This is by no means number one on my list. Of course healing the sick and feeding the poor are certainly noble pursuits that I wish I was capable of, let’s call them a given. But the thing that has become a true passion of mine is the preservation and love of wildlife.

I wish that I could cause violent, explosive diarrhea while driving on anyone who shoots big game. How small is your dick that you need to slaughter a noble and beautiful elephant, giraffe or Tiger?

I wish for anyone who abuses animals to be locked in a room with a Televangelist and a Lawyer as they debate politics for a week with no food and water. After that, I want them shot.

I want to be the “animal whisperer”. I’m the guy at the party sitting on the floor with the dog. I wish that every dog would love me. I wish that no animal feared me. I wish that I could bear hug a Bear, roll around with a Lion, scratch the whiskers of a purring Bengal Tiger, cuddle a racoon and slide down an iceberg with an Emperor Penguin. All with no fear for my personal safety. I want to tell them that they will be ok, and be able to assure such a thing.

I know it’s silly, but my love of animals domesticated and otherwise is a passion and my heart breaks daily at what they are subjected to.

What’s yours? I can’t wait for your feedback…

a dangerous addiction

I wanted you
I craved you
sleep escaped me
you consumed me
you were all I cared about
little else mattered
as long as I had you

you made me mad
you made me crazy
you made my heart race
then you started to affect my health

I drive by your house
my car wants to pull in
I manage to keep moving
the associations are killing me
I did so many things with you
I couldn’t make the break

Now I have beat you
I no longer need you
too much has happened
we’re broken up for good

you were like the love
of a crazy woman
a topic I know all too well
but you come from a bottle

your name is alcohol
and I’m leaving you


The dark secret…conclusion

Welcome to part 2 of The dark secret. You can catch part 1 here.

“Anna, I want you to kill me.” He paused to let his words sink in.

Anna got out of her chair and walked towards the front door.
“Please,wait!” he called to her.
“This is fucking crazy.” she yelled as she put on her shoes. “I’m not a killer and I can’t believe you just asked me that!”
“Anna, please.” he implored. “Allow me to show you just one thing before you go. Please?”
“Make it quick.” she barked.
He gestured to the hallway to the back of the house. He began his slow walk and Anna reluctantly followed. They came to a closed door and Klaus stood before it, his body twisted towards her with his hand on the knob.
“This will make it clearer for you. Please come in.” He opened the door and she slowly walked past him into the room.

She gasped and fell back. Bracing herself with one arm, she surveyed the giant Swastika flag pinned to the wall before her. Her heart pounding, her legs nearly giving out from under her, she surveyed the rest of the room in horror. Symbols of the Third Reich were everywhere. Felt pads with medals fastened littered the tables and benches. Books with German writing on the binders loaded the bookshelves. Flags and banners crowded the walls. She turned, outraged, to Klaus, who stood there with a stone face, his chin on his chest.
“You are the first person I have ever shown this to” he said. “A tremendous, awful burden has been lifted.”
“Well Fuck you very much for that. I hope you feel better! I sure as hell don’t.” She headed out the door.
“Anna!” he called after her. “Please let me explain further.”
She spun and glared at him. “What!” she yelled. “What is there to further explain? You’re a goddamn Nazi!”
“Please come back into the kitchen and allow me to shed further light.” He stood motionlessly in the doorway to the kitchen.
“You have 5 minutes and then I’m walking. Most likely to the Police Station.”
“Fine” he replied.

They sat down in front of their cold cups of tea.

“Anna.” He slowly began. “I am not proud of my past.”
“Then why the shrine of atrocities in your fucking bedroom? Ikea closed?”
“Ikea?”
“Never mind, Not important. Continue.”
“I have that room as a reminder. Not to celebrate my past, but to punish my present. As a reminder of my horrible misdeeds.” He paused and rubbed his eyes. “But it’s simply not enough punishment anymore.”
“So you want me to kill you. Because I’m Jewish? Some kind of poetic justice or some shit?”
“Because I can’t die on my own. And because you’re Jewish it would strengthen my penance.”
Puzzled, Anna took a moment to let that statement sink in.
“Klaus, if you don’t mind me saying so. You’re quite old, certainly mother nature will do the job for you eventually. Even soon?”
“Anna, just how old do you think I am?”
“If I had to guess I would say 90.”
“Table that thought for a moment.” He stared intently at her. “May I further unburden myself of my horrible, evil past?”
“If you must.”

He began to tell her of the distinguished military service of SS Grupen fuhrer Klaus Messerschmidt, Group leader and Field General in command of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. A bright military mind whose loyalty was unquestioned by his comrades, he was the youngest Field General in the Eastern Command. He was also the most sadistic.

For 15 minutes Klaus emotionally listed atrocity after atrocity. The slaughter of those who stood before him and the shooting of any that fled. The digging of mass graves by emaciated men only to have them shot in the back by gleeful soldiers who kicked their corpses in. The separation of babies from their mothers and the one soldier who stuck a bayonet, at his command, through an infant and laughed as the hysterical mother fell to the ground in grief. She was then shot. The gruesome medical experiments on the living. The smell of the smoke billowing from the chambers that all went in but none returned. The screams and pleas for mercy. Of he and his staff cowardly fleeing when the camp was liberated.

When he was done, he stared intently through red eyes at Anna. She was stunned. They sat in silence until she spoke.

“Feel better?” she asked. “Because I sure don’t. Thank you confirming everything my grandparents told me about you fuckers.”“I feel a small weight has been lifted from my shoulders. But no, I do not feel better. I am cursed by these memories whether I share them with the world or only one person. Cursed for eternity.”
“Eternity? How so?”
“Anna, you said earlier that you guessed my age to be about 90.”
“Yes.”
“I’m actually 109 years old.” He watched her intently as he said it.
“Come again?”
“When I fled Germany, when the Americans rolled in to liberate Auschwitz, I was a senior officer of 38 years old.”
“Klaus, if this is correct, you are one of the oldest men alive. Does the Senior Center know this?”
“No, no. In addition to a false name, I provided a false birth certificate. I don’t want to draw attention to myself.”
“Why not?”
“Because then they will track me until I am 110, 115, even 120.”
“Bullshit, Klaus. You’ll never make those ages.”
“I will if you don’t use this.” He pushed the Luger across the table. “You see, I can’t die of natural causes.”
“How do you know?”
“Because at 109 I have never even been sick with a cold. Not since the war. I believe that I am cursed to walk this earth forever bearing the sins of my past.”
Anna sat back in her chair.
“You’ve had this gun all along. Why not use it?”
“Because I’m a coward. I can’t pull that, or any trigger ever again.”
“Yeah, you’re not so tough without the evil midget with half a moustache pulling your puppet strings.”
“That’s a fair assessment. But off topic. Will you kill me or not?” he said flatly.
“Can I think about it? This has been quite an experience and it’s a lot to process. It’s not as if you’re asking me to do your shopping.”
“Of course.” he said. “Tomorrow, then?”
“I’ll tell you when I’m ready. Don’t call me.”

He nodded in silent agreement.

Anna excused herself and left.

That evening, Klaus woke to a commotion in his backyard. He looked out his window and saw someone working to a portable spotlight. He put on his robe and slippers, went down the hall, out the front door and made his way around the back of the house. There he found Anna, leaning on a shovel.“What is this, Anna?” he looked at her quizzically.
With a blank face she looked at him through the erratic beam of the work light.
“Here, put this on.” She handed him a bandana.
“Pardon?”
“Cover your eyes.”
“I will not.”
“Then I will hit you upside the head with this shovel and then put it on for you.”

He did as instructed.

She led him by the hand to where she was working. Klaus raised his hand to his face, lifted his bandana slightly and saw before him a shallow pit. She pushed the bandana down again.“Again. What is this?” he asked.
“Klaus Messerschmidt, you speak of your actions but you show only a small trace of remorse. You mostly speak of what it has done to you but hardly acknowledge the pain you have caused others. You then ask me to shoot you in order to ease your pain. But I have decided I don’t want to do that.”
“Well then, what do you plan on doing?” he inquired of the dark night.

Silence.

She kicked him from behind into the ditch. He fell awkwardly, landing face down. She began to shovel dirt onto him.

“Please, Please,” he pleaded. “Not like this!”
|“Yes, exactly like this. You don’t get the luxury of being shot in the head as your helpless victims did. You’re going to feel this.”
“Please no, this is not what I meant.”
“Klaus, do you know what I do for work?”
“No, I don’t.”
“I’m a Scientist. I test theories for a living.”
“What possible theory could you possibly be testing?” he cried out.
“Yours.” She savored the moment. “You claim you cannot die of natural causes. I want to test that theory. Suffocation is a natural cause. I’m going to bury you alive.”
“Please, I beg you. Just shoot me.”
“Again, it’s all about you and your pain, Klaus. I have my own and I now am obligated to carry that of your victims.”

Klaus was crying into the dirt. She listened for a few moments.

“If you can indeed die of natural causes, then this will kill you and your justice will be served.” She began shoveling more dirt on him. “If you can’t then you will lie awake in this shallow grave for eternity, and then justice for your victims will also be served.”
She shoveled more dirt on him. The cries for mercy became softer and more muffled with each spade of earth.

When she was done she collected her tools and her light. She took a few steps on the earthen grave of Klaus Messerschmidt, War Criminal, AKA Klaus Schmidt to pat it down.
“Has the screaming stopped, Klaus?”

No answer.

She gathered her tools and walked out of the back yard and down the walkway.

Looking back, she decided, as she loaded her trunk, that she would check on him tomorrow.

As she got into the driver’s seat of her car she decided that she also may not check on him at all.

She drove off.

The dark secret

The old man sat across from the plump, middle aged woman at a table in the corner. The shop was bustling. The 6 tables were occupied with chatty locals and the line for coffee and the locally famous baked goods was out the door, the steady announcement of visitors via the bell over the door rose above the din.

The old man was staring at his coffee, intently stirring it as the woman enjoyed her coffee roll. She looked up, noticed his distracted behavior.“What’s the matter, Klaus?” she asked. “You’re here but you’re not.”“Anna” he sighed. “I have a heavy heart today. Ah, that’s not entirely true. I have a heavy heart every day but I’m afraid it’s come to a head.”
Anna pushed for clarification.
“Care to share?”
“Anna, we’re friends aren’t we?”
“I suppose so. We meet here for coffee once a week. Now that I think about it I don’t really know that much about you. You’re from Germany. You’re a widower. You’ve been in town for a long time. You owned a clock repair shop.”
“You know enough about me then.” Klaus told her.
“Most of that I got from the Senior Center that reached out to me to be your coffee buddy. When we talk here we mostly make small talk.”
“Anna”, he reached across the table and grasped her hand. “Would you come to my house tomorrow afternoon? I know it’s an extra day, not on the schedule but I want to ask something of you and I don’t want to do it here.”
Anna pulled out her smartphone, pulled up her calendar and studied it for a moment.
“I think I can do that. How’s 2 sound?”
“That sounds wonderful” he said. “I will take my leave now and I look forward to seeing you then.” He took his faded leather wallet out of his breast pocket, dropped a few bills on the table and slowly stood up. She watched him intently as he made his way out of the door, parting the crowd like the Red Sea and onto the sidewalk.
She turned her attention to the remainder of her coffee roll and thought about what the old man who she volunteered with could possibly have to ask of her.

The next day, Anna Feinberg stepped onto the walkway of the quaint Emerald Lane residence of Klaus Schmidt. Neat flower beds flanked the walkway. The freshly painted porch was adorned with hanging plants in full bloom. She marveled at how a man of Klaus’s age could maintain his house so meticulously.

She rang the bell. Shortly, Klaus appeared at the door. She noticed he was without his walker. “Ahh, Anna. Thank you for keeping your word. Please, come in.” He gestured her inside.
The interior of the home was as meticulous as the exterior. There was no clutter, paintings adorned the walls, the wood floors gleamed as if recently treated. She followed him into the kitchen.
A pot of tea, a bowl of sugar and a small carafe of milk and 2 cups awaited them at the table.
Klaus invited her to sit down. She patiently waited for him to ease himself into his chair, she then sat.
“Anna” He slowly began. “There is so much you, anyone for that matter, don’t know about me and as a friend I feel that I should unburden myself.”
“Klaus”, she interrupted,”with all due respect, we’re not that close. Surely you have someone closer you want to share this with?”
“Anna, I’m afraid that close or not, you are all that I have. Now if I may continue?”
She nodded in agreement.
“Anna, I’ve done some terrible things. Things that I am so very ashamed of. I have haunting memories that I just can’t escape them.”
“Klaus”, Anna interjected. “We all have done things that we are ashamed of.”
“My dear, I’m afraid my deeds fall under a whole new category other than ‘things that we are ashamed of.”
“I’ m listening.”
“Anna”, he paused. He took his glasses off and put them on the table in front of him. He rubbed his eyes and looked down into his lap for a moment. “What if I told you I don’t want to live any longer?”
“I don’t have an answer for that. Again, I’m not sure I’m the right person for this conversation.”
“You’re the perfect person. The only person. Your name is Feinberg, yes?”
Puzzled, Anna replied “Yes.”
“You are Jewish, am I correct?” he queried.
“I’m not sure where we’re going with this but I’m getting a bit uncomfortable here.”
“Alas, I’m going to make it a bit more so.” He reached into the pocket of his robe and placed a WW2 era Luger pistol on the table in front of him.
“Anna, I want you to kill me.” He paused to let his words sink in.

To be continued…

On wisdom…a Father and son chat

He took a deep drag, slowly exhaled and asked me,
“How’s the cigar?”
I sat back in my chair, smiled contentedly at my youngest boy and replied,
“Perfect.”
“You could have had any cigar, Dad. Why did you pick the cheapie?”
“Because it’s good enough.”
“I love that about you, Dad. You’re so easily satisfied.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Wherever you are, that’s the place to be. Whatever you’re drinking is good enough. Whatever you are eating is good enough. It’s awesome and I try to do it.”

We sat in silence for a few minutes. We puffed on our cigars, watched the smoke wisp into the late afternoon sky and savored the moment.

Finally, I broke the silence.
“I haven’t always been like this. It’s the result of a lot of hard lessons that I, fortunately, learned from. From trying to be something I’m not, from ignoring my better judgment, from trying too hard. I found myself after taking the most indirect, rocky, hilly and winding road you could ever imagine.”
“So what, or who are you now?”
“I’m simple. I’m grateful. I’m not greedy and I’m not always looking for something better.”

He studied his cigar for a while as he absorbed my words. I studied him. 6 foot tall, broad shoulders, a kind bearded face, sitting in his chair supremely confident and present in the moment. I was beaming with pride.

Once, he was my most difficult child. We just didn’t click. He was surly, argued with me about everything, we had nothing in common. I went to bed so many nights feeling a failure as his father. I dedicated myself to fixing it, finding common ground. It seemed like it was overnight, of course it wasn’t, that we suddenly clicked. We listened to the same music, binged the same shows and movies on Netflix, we started to have the most amazing conversations. Like this one.

“Dad, how old do you have to be before you have wisdom?”
“It depends on how much you’ve lived your life, I guess.” I paused to hit off the cigar. “Live hard, make mistakes, crash and burn a few times, take a few risks and you will learn enough to earn wisdom. If you don’t live your life, you won’t . But, if you’re open to it, you can benefit from the wisdom of others.”
“So wisdom is earned. I’m only 19 but I feel that I have wisdom.”
“You know life lessons by watching me fuck up a million times. It’s a cautionary tale, not wisdom.”
“ I think I have it. But ok.”
“Kid, it’s not an insult and I’m not disagreeing with you. There’s a saying,’youth is wasted on the young.’”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that when you are young, you don’t know how great it is to be at that stage of your life. Free, unencumbered with good health and opportunities ahead of you. It is only when you are older when you appreciate those things. Some of those mistakes you made when young taught you how to be a good adult”.
“Examples?”

I explained to him that I learned to take whatever beer someone offers you after I insulted my father’s friend by complaining about the beer he gave me. My father was so pissed I never did it again.
I learned to not look over the fence for greener grass after I walked on my neighbor’s ultra-green patch of grass only to sink ankle-deep into a leaking septic system.I learned fidelity after trying to date two girls at one time. I lost a girl that may have been the one.
I learned that a 20 dollar cigar tasted no better to me than a 2 dollar cigar. I don’t have a refined pallet and I shouldn’t pretend to.
I learned to value friendship when I became sick and most of my friends stopped calling me. I made new friends that were always there for me. They made me a better friend also.
I learned generosity and charity by hitting rock bottom, losing everything. I began to see everyone on the same level.
I learned gratitude when someone saved my life by donating an organ.
I learned to be a better father by crying myself to sleep in fear of my someday adult kids hating me.
I learned to be a better husband when I realized my wife no longer loved me.I learned not to kick the can down the road when I realized that I tried to save my marriage too late.
I learned that it is more important to seek respect than admiration.
I learned that telling the truth is always better after being caught in a lie.
I learned to appreciate each sunset after almost dying.
By the time I was done talking our cigars had burned down to a nub. He had sat and listened silently the whole time. His only response was,
“Wow.”
“Kid, I could go on forever but I won’t. You get the idea.”
“Not really, there was a lot of ideas there.”
“The idea is, you will learn some things by heeding the advice of one who knows. And you will learn other things by charging forward and living your life. Either way, you will learn how to be and how not to be. It’s a blueprint, not a prediction.”
“It’s complicated I guess” he said.
“Not really,” I said. “One day it will all become clear.”
“If you say so.”
“There’s one more thing I forgot to mention.”
“What’s that?”
“Make the most of each moment because you might not get another.” I stubbed my finished cigar in the ashtray. “I want to make the most of this one so get us another cigar. And grab a couple of beers while you’re in there.”
He smiled and pulled his lanky frame out of the low chair. “I’m 19, are you sure.”
“Carpe fuckin’ Diem, kid. I’m sure.”

I love this kid. He gets it. Isn’t that what we all want to say about our kids?