“Where there’s an absence of courage, can courage be found.” JSM


Chapter Twenty Six


The day my teenage daughter moved in with Nancy and I, was the instant I set forth four specific rules to abide by. Those rules apply to all her friends coming and going, as well as any new comers to the home; and I believe they all know it for the most part. My daughter will tell her friends I’m easy to get along with, “He’s a big teddy bear”.  Just be respectful.

Having been a teen myself I know what to expect. Therefore, the rules are easy and they must be followed. Deviation of the rules is a violation of trust and those who know me well, understand my trust issues.

-Don’t lie to me. Don’t steal from me. Don’t manipulate the old man or take advantage of my kindness.  Don’t burn my house down.-

In fact, it’s so ingrained in our relationship we conclude our parting conversations with big smiles and the speaking of a rule, “I love you.  I love you too.  See you tonight. I’ll be home at eight. I may be later than that. I have the dog taken care of. Are we still watching the show later? Yes. Good. Don’t worry, I won’t burn the house down.”

We laugh it off and continue along our adventure.

That’s the way I now visualize life. An adventure.

I have to see it that way. I depend on that mentality.

My friend’s mother gave me a ride home one afternoon and the second we left the driveway was the moment a storm front was moving through the area. The roads were already slick and I mentioned with all sincerity, “You don’t have to do this.  I don’t want anything to happen.”

Her reply was quick, “Let’s look at it as an adventure!”

Within the pages of an adventure the character(s) experience long treks through foreign territory with potential dangers awaiting in nearby corners. Encountering good companions and evildoers along the way, inner demons, monsters, horrible people, and helpful Samaritans when they least expect it. Love and romance. Viscous battles, retreat, surrender and regrouping later for another attack.

Sometimes undergoing great suffering and committing unspeakable actions. Pain and pleasure, ups and downs, highs and lows, wins and losses, bumps and hurdles. It’s what the character becomes at the end of the adventure that matters most.

Sometimes the journey is filled with twists and turns, major surprises and unexpected blindsides. Some instances are nothing more than strange occurrences and unexplained happenstance. What I call anomalies.

This journey I’m sharing is no different, but my visit to the basement beneath the print shop fits within the realm of brief anomaly.


On our way down the stairs, all I could hear was sighing. Each of the senior staff would exhale a puff of breath, slow and drawn out to emphasize the situation and their collective disappointment, while descending into the bowels of the building.

At the foot of the stairs a passageway branched to the left and the factory foreman rounded the corner and flipped the lights on; illuminating a long empty hallway before us. To our right sat pallets of paper in a large room and across from the paper supply was a small windowless space covered in clutter: crumpled envelopes, torn fliers, and built into the wall to the left of the door, a pitched work bench with a tall swivel stool tucked underneath. Across the surface of the tabletop were crusted and blotchy spatters of black ink fused into the grains of the wood.

One incandescent light bulb screwed into the low ceiling, gave the room just enough of a glow to see the area’s contents.

The foreman gestured to a nearby pallet and I crossed the threshold into the paper room. I sat on a short stack of boxes and pulled a foot onto my knee.

Kurt leaned against the wall and that’s when the inner voice spoke again.

Have confidence you did nothing wrong.

A lone bead of sweat rolled down the owner’s nose and stopped at the tip. My eyes were drawn to that point and all I could do was stare. It wiggled and moved side to side as he spoke and it seemed an eternity before it finally released, snapping away from his skin and dropping to the floor.

I heard every word the man spoke to me, but I didn’t care to hear it. When upstairs, before I was asked to stop my exit and go downstairs, a calming peace wrapped around me as I started my walk across the factory floor. My alter ego whispering little phrases as I followed them.

You didn’t do anything wrong.

Yeah, well, if you did nothing wrong we wouldn’t be heading into the basement now, would we? Why not the office?  The conference room?  Why downstairs?

You know.  They want to make an example out of you. 

So, they’ll fire you. No big deal.  You’ve been down that road before.

But this is different.  This is the dream job.

Some dreams take a lifetime to accomplish. Maybe this isn’t for you. Who cares! Let them fire you.

You did nothing wrong.  You probably know more about this job than most of the employees here.

The owner’s two right hand men paced across the floor as the words spoken from each entered one ear, and wafted out the other.  My eyes pulled down to my foot and I casually grabbed a loose thread from the cuff of my pants and rolled the thin fabric in between my finger tips.  The more I twisted and pulled the string, the more the threads came loose and I smiled.

Kurt continued his speech and I heard the words, “… won’t fire you, but I should.”

My head snapped up, “Did you just say I’m not fired?”

Kurt pushed himself from the wall, crossed his arms and strolled towards me. “That’s right.  I’m not letting you go. I wanted you to work for me, now you’re here, I got what I wanted and I plan to make good use of you. First thing’s first. You and Doug are going to the department, ask politely for 005’s default files, make a formal apology to the department heads for the accident and then tomorrow morning you’ll start your new assignment.”

I bristled up and found a hidden sliver of unexpected confidence, “It wasn’t an accident.  I didn’t erase it.  You heard the techs.  It’s like it vanished from the system. I couldn’t do something like that.”

“It happened while you were using it.”

“That doesn’t mean anything. Listen, I’m not trying to be a jerk here or sound disrespectful, but I should be in the design station.”

He clasped his hands over his abdomen and the man rocked back on the heels of his hiking boots, “That’s where you’re wrong. I can put you where ever I need to. Do we have a deal? The door is right there at the end of the corridor if you decide otherwise.”

“What’s the new assignment?”

“Right across the hall.”  He pointed to the small room and smiled.

“What’s the job?”

“Let’s get the files back first. Then we’ll discuss the details. Doug, take the truck. Bring a dolly with you.”

Doug left the room and my anger elevated my temperature. My face and neck blazed with heat and it felt as though my ears would explode. I lowered my focus back to my pants cuff and uttered, “This isn’t fair.”

“I’m sorry?” the foreman replied.

I looked up to him with reddened eyes and clenched my teeth.” I said… this isn’t fair.”

When the foreman stepped forward to shoot off his response, he stopped in his tracks and snapped his attention to the basement ceiling. Thunder clapped and rolled in the sky above the building. The lights sputtered, flickered erratically, and the power went out. The basement was plunged into smothering darkness and while sitting on my stack of boxes as the senior staff fumbled around blind in the dark, I couldn’t resist a brief chuckle.

>>Thank you for reading and following along with me on this journey. Please like, subscribe below or leave a comment if you so desire, and I’ll see you at the next one.

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