“Like predatory birds perched in dying trees, they wait. Watching with shifty eyes. Pain filled bellies growling for their next meal.  Once stripping every fleshy scrap of meat clean from the bones of the fallen, leaving no area untouched, they fly off to wait for another. Living out their purpose. Silent. Patient.” JSM



Chapter Fifteen

“Anything but that.”



One of my favorite pastimes is engaging with my buddies or Nancy, co-workers, family (and even my kids and their friends) in discussions that veer into other discussions. Conversations that make us laugh, stop and think, ponder and get out of the proverbial box. Some of my favorite chats are with my youngest on the brief rides to her school and back.  That kid and I have some deep talks.

Most times the conversation starts with, “What if…”

Simple trivial topics that pop up which eventually skew into other topics.

While waiting in line at the movies, after watching an episode of LOST or something brought up during a lengthy board game or road trip.

Then before we know it, we’re discussing the universe and the deepest trenches of the ocean, planets that rain diamonds sideways, simple philosophies, purpose and meaning and a plethora of other material. Fun food-for-thought dialogue. At times we’ve been known to instigate such conversations if only to see where it leads.

My problem (not necessarily really a problem, but certainly noticeable within my immediate circle), is when we dive headfirst into some of these discussions, I lock onto specific material, snap into a haze, then research the absolute crap out of it.

Hours and hours and hours invested. Videos and documentaries, articles and snippets, asking questions in forums and reading books, radio shows and podcasts, jotting notes and sites, digging deep, and not until I quench that thirst is my day considered complete.

Nancy will say, “You want to watch Flash or Arrow?”

“Just finishing up this video, be there soon.” Then forty five minutes later I drop into my chair for my superhero show.

They all get it. It’s just a part of who I am.

I transform into a sponge when something piques my interest. Sometimes I have to stop myself, “Alright dude. You’re down the rabbit hole far enough for now.  Hit the hay.”

Then I have a trillion things to think about while trying to fall asleep. My mind takes off running and races, and usually the next day at some point I pick up from where I left off and keep on going.

Only one of the strange hobbies I have. I’ve created a small archive in my mind of what many would believe is a stockpile of useless knowledge and information. I accept that premise and respect the opinion.  I live in the real world, but I love to explore.

The topics I’ve come across that merge into others and twist and turn and make one think, used to surprise me in the old life.

Not much surprises me anymore.

Since the Computer Seminar was during a time in the old life, it’s safe to say that Gill really and truly surprised me.


Knowing over half of the folks in the seminar were rich beyond their wildest fantasy, I was baffled at the envelope’s contents.

My cheeks reddened and my eyes locked with his. “I don’t understand.”

The big man replied, “Like I said. Anything you need, you let me know.”

“What is this?” I withdrew a stack of pamphlets, index cards with hand drawn graphs covered in notations, and additional “material” from the envelope; rifling through them like playing cards.

“That my friend, is the sure fire way to reach Tier Two. We’ve started the base program and laid some groundwork with potential interested parties and all you need to do is follow the instructions. Stay on the arranged path. You’ll see there on page three we’ve adjusted the order process through Tier One. Just nail the specific targets, double your platform, reconnect with Bill and we can move onto the next phase of development.  This is an exciting time we live in Jeremy and what you hold in your hand is the key.  We’ve talked it over and decided that because we want you to succeed, we could cut a few corners. Not everyone gets this opportunity.”

“Cut a few corners?”

Bill jumped in. “The extra middle man has been eliminated.” He pointed to the thick stack and crossed his arms, “It shortens the process by at least… what do you think Gill… two months?  Maybe three?”

The leader nodded his reply and looked to the ceiling, “We could shoot for three. I can contact central office and see if we can get some additional material waived and who knows, maybe sometime next year you could be in the middle of the ladder somewhere.  Sound like a plan?  All you need to do is stay on track and we can’t lose. Welcome to the family.”

“Can’t lose? How am I supposed to get around? How am I supposed to attend these meetings and trainings and become a successful “salesman” without a car?”

Bill shrugged, “Guessing insurance will take care of that. The driver of the plow truck was at fault.”

I looked to the floor at his feet and scowled, “You don’t understand. This plan.  This outline you created doesn’t help me today.  I don’t even know how I’m getting home from here.”

Bill waved the comment off, “One of the travelers in the caravan volunteered to take you back. It’s covered.”

I darted my stare back and forth between them, “Great. So, that’s it.”

Gill swung his hands behind his back, “Yup. That’s it.”

I took one step forward, “Gill you said anything I need, you’ll help, right?”

“I did say that, yes. Whatever we can do to help.”

“OK, how about you take care of a new car for me. That’s what I need.  That’s the help I’m looking for. Not… this.”  I flopped the envelope in the air between us and dropped my arms to the side in defeat.

The two men snickered and the big man replied, “Get you another car? Oh… I said I’ll help in any way I can… but… buy a car for you? I’m sorry.  Let’s be realistic.  Anything but that.”


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