The Nightmare – Part One

Waking with a start, Victoria felt her heart pumping fast. Her skin, clammy to the touch, was sticking to the silk sheets. Sluggishly, she swung her legs over the side of the bed, cautiously standing up. Four dogs occupied the floor. It was dark, but she was able to make out their silhouettes. Tiptoeing over them, she headed downstairs for a glass of water, comforted by the familiarity of the room. Opening the refrigerator, she reached for the milk carton. She remembered her mother saying it helped with sleep. Pouring the milk into a coffee cup, she placed it into the microwave. She contemplated how a dream could disorient her state of mind so dynamically.

It was the same one every night. She and Brad, her husband of five years, would be strolling, in the warm sunlight, down a grassy path somewhere in the mountains. They would be laughing, talking, holding hands, and enjoying each other’s company. Brad would let go of her hand to pick up a heart-shaped rock and abruptly disappear. Victoria, panicked, would start looking for him, calling his name louder as the sun disappeared behind the dark clouds. The wind picks up, and it starts to rain. Thunder and lightning fill the sky. She still can’t find Brad. With blurring vision, she spots an ominous house in the distance. The closer she gets to this apparition, the more doomed she feels. She’s never able to get a clear view; everything blurry in her dream. By the time she reaches the front door, she’s soaked from the rain.

She knocks on the door, only to hear its echo from inside. The door squeaks open as she turns the doorknob. Stepping inside, she calls out to Brad, believing he has seen the house seeking shelter from the rain. The large foyer has a round, antique-looking table sitting in the middle of the floor. The large crystal cut vase with bunches of azaleas and white lilies adorn the center of the table. As Victoria looks beyond the jar, a large stone staircase comes into view. Inside of the house, ornately decorated with large mahogany tables, buffets, and red velvet-covered high back chairs, had thick cobwebs hanging vicariously along the beams. The gold brocaded drapes are closed, causing distinguished shadows playing tricks with Victoria’s limited sight.

Image by Momentmal from Pixabay

She wanders the house calling out to Brad. She heads upstairs. There is a long hallway, with wooden floors and oriental area rugs the whole length of the hall. There are three closed doors in her sight. Approaching the first door, she opens it apprehensively. The room empty, except for a crib, changing table, and a large stone fireplace. A fire roars to life. Victoria walks over to the crib and peeks inside. A small baby swaddled in a blanket appears to be sleeping. Placing her fingers upon the baby’s cheek, she withdraws in horror. Stone cold. Shocked, she runs from the room.

The second door inside has a massive four-poster bed, several dressers, and a makeup armoire. Victoria sees the same type of fireplace as what was in the baby’s room. A fire roars to life. The place is frigid. Victoria, now chilled to the bone, walks over to the four-poster bed, where she notices Brad’s mother and father covered up to the neck. She tries to wake them, to no avail. They, too, are cold to the touch. Screaming, Victoria runs from the room.

Down the hallway is another closed door. Fearing what Victoria may find behind this one, she hesitantly opens it. Inside, Victoria finds another four-poster bed, a roaring fire in the stone fireplace. Like the others, the room is ice cold. Victoria, beside herself, wonders why she can’t find her husband. Why are all the people she loves lying dead in this house? Desperately wanting to wake up but can’t.

Hesitantly, she walks over to the bed, seeing an impression of a body under the covers. She leans over, it’s Brad. She screams and wakes to a wildly beating heart and clammy skin.

She never tells Brad about her dream; after all, it’s his parents as well as himself whom she finds dead. She confides to a friend about her nightmare. He tells her it just means they are going to live a long life. His explanation seems to alleviate Victoria’s concerns.

Several months pass. Her night terrors have faded. Victoria gets the news they are expecting their first child. Both are elated to learn they will be parents. To celebrate, Brad decides to take her on a romantic getaway. As a surprise, he tells her nothing about the mysterious bed and breakfast.

The weather is perfect as they drive up the windy, mountainous road. As the couple gets closer to the destination, dark storm clouds appear in the distance; thunder and occasional bolts of lightning crash down in front of them. The wipers, not able to keep up with the pelting rain, causes the view from the windshield to blur. Victoria begins to shake uncontrollably. Her skin becomes clammy from the humidity.

Brad turns off the road and heads down a muddy path filled with water-soaked potholes. The bouncing of the vehicle causes Victoria’s stomach to be queasy. Staring through the blurred windshield, she can’t seem to shake the ominous feeling in her gut. She can’t quite put her finger on it, but Victoria is experiencing Deja Vu. She’s been here before.

Putting the car in park, Brad reaches for his raincoat in the back seat.

“Please don’t leave me here,” Victoria says.

“I won’t be but a minute, I’m going to check us in, and I’ll be back to get you.” He kisses her on the cheek.

“I’m serious. DON’T leave me alone in the car. I’m afraid.”

“This pregnancy is playing tricks with your mind.” Brad tried to make light of it but saw she was distressed.

“Come with me then. Grab the umbrella.”

Together, they made their way up a long, stone walkway.

Large mahogany doors loomed in front of them. Brad’s knock echoed inside.

“No, no, no, I…I can’t do this.” Victoria was crying now.

“Come on, honey, why are you so frightened?”

“I never told you about my nightmare. This is the house in my dream,” she yelled over the howling wind as it blew her umbrella inside out.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I want us to get out of this rain,” he yelled back.

Victoria held her breath as Brad reached for the doorknob. The door screeched open. As they stepped inside, a large round table in the middle of the large foyer with a cut-glass vase sat in the middle with azaleas and white lilies. Soft jazz music played in the background. The lights dimmed low, and people mingled with champagne flutes in their hands.

“How may I help you?” A young woman comes up beside them.

“We have reservations, Mr. & Mrs. Slater.”

“Of course.” Walking over to the desk, she pulls out several sheets of paper. “Our computers are down at the moment due to the storm. Luckily, I printed out our guest log this morning before it hit. Let me show you to your room. Do you have any luggage?”

“We do, but we left it in the car. I wanted to make sure we had the right place. I can get it later once I get my wife settled. She isn’t feeling well,” Brad told her.

“I understand, sir, follow me.”

As they all walked through what appeared to be a large sitting room, with ornate gold drapery, they came upon a stone staircase. Victoria eyed it suspiciously. She grabbed Brad’s arm and held on tight.

Climbing the stairs, Victoria was sure the oriental rugs would be in the hallway. To her surprise, it was wall to wall carpeting. Rather than just three doors, there were ten doors, five on each side of the hallway.

Her fears may be unjustified.

The young woman walked to the end of the hallway and opened the last door on the left. She stepped aside so Brad and Victoria could enter the room. A four-poster bed was sprawled out on one wall.  A stone fireplace centered opposite the bed sat cold and dark. From where the woman was standing, she flicked a switch, and a fire started in the fireplace. The warmth of the flames heated the room quickly.

fireplace

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

“If you need anything, just dial zero on the phone. Dinner starts in an hour. Enjoy your stay.” She backed out of the room slowly, closing the door behind her.

“Are you going to explain yourself, or should I chalk it up to hormones?” Brad asked.

Victoria told him about her nightmare, in detail. He chuckled and pulled her into his arms. “Dreams, honey, nothing to worry about.” Kissing her head, “I’m going to get our luggage. Lie down and relax. I’ll be right back, promise.”

Victoria pulled the heavy comforter back from the bed and removed her wet clothing. Walking into the bathroom, she decided to take a bath before dressing for dinner. Lying back in the water, closing her eyes, Victoria couldn’t believe how silly she had been. Brad must think I’m nuts. 

When she awoke, the water in the tub was cold. How long had she been out? Why didn’t Brad wake me when he came back with the luggage?

Climbing out of the cold water, Victoria called out, “Brad, honey?” No answer. Grabbing a towel, she wrapped it around her shivering body. “Did you get the luggage, honey?” Still no response. She walked out into the bedroom, everything was just as she had left it. Grabbing her cellphone to check the time, she was shocked to see she had been asleep for an hour. Where was Brad, and why had he not come back with their luggage? It wasn’t like him to sit at the bar, knowing I was up here waiting for him. She picked up the phone on the nightstand and dialed zero. The ringing on the other end continued. No one answered. Gathering up her wet clothes from the floor, she decided she had no choice but to put them back on to go look for Brad.

Opening the door to their room, she stepped out into the hallway. Something was different. The room was the last one on the left, but the carpet was now the oriental rug in her dreams. Impossible. The lights were so dim, Victoria, unable to see clearly, felt her way to the wall. Using the wall as her guide, finding the stone staircase, the music that was once playing downstairs, could not be heard. All was silent. The adrenaline coursed through her body. This can’t be happening. 

Slowly descending the stairs, she began shivering. Tears filled her eyes, blurring her vision. Calling out, “Hello? Is anyone down here?” No music, no smell of food, no champagne flutes, no other people. Her nightmare. The cold was unbearable. Panic set in. Fight or flight syndrome echoed in her brain. If I’m not dreaming, I need to get the hell out of here. Heading towards the door, someone grabbed her arm.

“Not so fast, honey. We have some unfinished business to attend to.”

Victoria turned toward the unfamiliar voice. A black hooded cape was pulled over their face. Unable to make out who it could be, she tried to tear away, but they were too strong for her. She froze with fright. The figure hauled Victoria back up the stairs, pulling her into the first room. Just inside the door, she saw the crib and dressing table from her dream. But something was different.

Other black-cloaked figures were circling the four-poster bed, each holding a lighted candle, chanting. It was then she knew what they wanted: her unborn child, and Brad had delivered her to them.

distorted image of a person

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

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Heart To Heart

It had been a long night. I knew this day would come; there was no preparation for it. As we all stood around the hospital bed, holding hands, I saw a puff of smoke above me. I looked around at our family and friends. Their eyes closed. Was it inappropriate to shout out, “Hey, look at that?” I remained silent.

The prayer circle dispersed. Looking across the bed, I saw tears in everyone’s eyes. Each person leaned over my dad’s body and whispered something in his ear, patted his hand, and left. Could he hear what they were saying? The nurses had removed his hearing aids. I was skeptical.

Trailing behind, I leaned over to tell my dad, for the last time, “I love you.” I thought I heard a heartbeat. “Wait! Come back. He’s still alive,” I wanted to scream. The monitors told me otherwise.

My dad had suffered a massive heart attack. He had been in the hospital for four days. There was nothing the doctors could do for him. His heart was doing a bypass. A blockage formed, and he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. He wasn’t healthy enough for surgery. The hospital staff never told us he wouldn’t recover.

I sent for my kids; both lived in different states. It was a prudent move, just in case. I’m glad I did. Though they were there to see their Pop-pop, I was the only one in the room when he had his last attack.

He asked me to move his bed up further. His back was hurting. As I raised the bed, he instructed me when to stop. I sat back down in the chair I had pulled up next to his bed and held his hand. His eyes were closed in a drug-infused sleep. I studied his face.

Memories flooded my mind. I am dancing on my dad’s feet in the living room to a Frank Sinatra song, riding on his shoulders, watching him work on a car engine in the garage, taking me for ice cream, walking me down the aisle, being there for me whenever I needed him. Daddy’s girl. I wished I had been a better daughter.

When the monitors began sending out a siren, the door flew open, followed by a team of nurses. I stood up and asked politely to leave the room. As I waited by the nurse’s station, one came out to speak to me.

“Your dad needs more oxygen. We want to put a tube in him to help him breathe.”

“Is it life support?” I asked, knowing he had a DNR in his file.

“No, it’s just a tube to help him get more oxygen into his bloodstream.”

“As long as it isn’t life support and will help him get better, go ahead.”

When I was allowed back in his room, a breathing tube shoved down his throat. Not expecting this, I ran out, yelling at the nurses.

“This most definitely looks like life support to me, and we have a DNR on file.” No one paid attention to me.

I called my mother, who had just left the hospital. She had been by his side for hours, and had gone to change clothes, and get something to eat.

“Mom, something happened after you left,” I explained the events leading up to the breathing tube. “They think you should come back right away. I can notify the rest of the family.”

Sitting back down at my dad’s side, I held his hand. I apologized for the breathing tube. I explained it was to help him get better. I didn’t believe it; I knew. He did not react. His eyes closed. His chest was moving up and down to the hissing of the oxygen pumped into his lungs. He never said another word.

As family and friends entered the ICU room to pay their final respects, I moved towards the window. I knew he was gone. The fake breathing didn’t fool me. By the time everyone arrived, it was after 11:00 pm.

The doctor came in and whispered to my mom. Nodding her head through her sobs, the doctor approached the bed. He removed the breathing tube and placed a stethoscope to my dad’s chest; he listened. As he turned to leave, he patted my mom on her shoulder.

It was at this time, as we all held hands, saying a prayer, the puff of smoke appeared over the bed. I said nothing.

By the time we got home, it was close to 3:00 am. My son took the couch, my daughter, the air mattress. Exhausted, I crawled into my bed and fell into a deep sleep.

I dreamed my dad was standing on my porch, waiting for me. Opening the door, I saw a younger version of him, like the pictures I had seen when he was a young man. Handsome, with dark brown hair, and dressed in a suit from a different era, cigarette in hand.

“Hey, Luc, come on out and dance with me.” He reached his hand up for me to take.

As he guided me down the steps, I heard orchestra music playing.

“Daddy, I’m so glad you came to visit me.”

“Anything for my little girl.”

“So, how is it?” I asked.

“How’s what?”

“Being dead.”

“Look at me. What do you think?”

“I think you look great. But why are you here? Shouldn’t you be on your way to see St. Peter?”

“He can wait a little longer. I wanted to come by and see my favorite girl first.”

I lay my head on his shoulder. I could hear his heart beating. I could smell cigarette smoke mixed in with the smell of his cologne. Sweet tobacco. I breathed it in. I didn’t want the dream to end — one more twirl, one more hug.

As he twirled me around one last time, he slowly faded away. Crying out, “No, stay.” I awoke from my dream.

Gray daylight streamed through my bedroom window. As I lay in bed, wanting to remember everything, I heard a rumbling. Were we having an earthquake?

Jumping out of bed, I ran into the living room. I opened the front door. My kids woke up.

“What’s the matter?” they asked.

“Listen,” I said.

Standing with the front door open, we heard it. Thunder. Loud bursts of rolling thunder.

I turned and smiled at my kids.

“He made it!”

Forever Seventeen

***TRIGGER WARNING***

The following deals with a True Crime murder

Bailey, Colorado – Park County

December 1, 2017

Seventeen-year-old Maggie Long, excited to be a part of the first concert at Platte Canyon High School, had forgotten something at home. After school, she drove the 20 minutes to her family’s ranch to retrieve it. When she pulled up the long driveway, she noticed a white van, an old beat-up Ford truck, and a brownish colored older model minivan blocking the garage door. Her family had been renting out their attic space to some people and probably thought the cars belonged to them. We will never know what was going on in her head that afternoon.

I didn’t know her personally but had heard much about her. She was on the debate team at Platte Canyon High School, where I had been a judge earlier in the year. She was good. A straight “A” student, a thespian for the local theater group, and everyone knew her. No one ever had a bad word to say about Maggie. She was an excellent role model for many of her fellow students and friends. Every year on her birthday, she would make hundreds of sandwiches, passing them out to the homeless on the streets of Denver. Many saw her studying at a table at her parent’s Chinese restaurant. You don’t run across many people like Maggie in your lifetime.

The following morning, I awoke to Facebook posts asking the public if they had seen Maggie. Pictures of her were attached to the post, and her sister said she was missing. There were numerous comments of concern and volunteers wanting to put a search party together. But the police said no, it wasn’t necessary, without giving anyone a reason.

When the students went back to school on Monday, there were grief counselors on hand for them. The parents were confused. Why grief counselors if Maggie was only missing? Did she have a fight with her parents? Did she quarrel with her boyfriend? The community still had no answers, and the police weren’t saying anything.

A week passed. The police came out with an official statement. A gag order was placed on all information on the case. Maggie’s burned body was found in her parent’s house. They had known all along and never said a word to the public. An entire week had gone by without a word about Maggie. The community, visibly upset and angry, wanting to know what happened to Maggie.

The details of that day are sketchy. Maggie went home to retrieve something she had forgotten for the concert. Upon entering her home, she interrupted a burglary taking place by three young white males. She fought with them. They ended up overtaking her, tying her to a bed. Speculation, she had been raped. During the burglary, the murderers stole jade figurines, a gun safe, several weapons including handguns and an AR-15 with over 2,000 rounds of ammunition. Loading up a white van, a brownish minivan, and an old Ford 150 pickup truck. They poured gasoline on Maggie and set her on fire. According to the coroner’s report, she had been burned alive.

When the renters called the police, the vehicles were still at the residence. The police or fire department had to have passed them as they approached the house. Unbeknownst to law enforcement, they allowed the killers to get away. Because their ranch set back onto acres of land and secluded from the road, there was only one way in and one way out. They drove out of the ranch gates and headed for Denver, in the dark. They are still on the run.

The community, shocked and horrified. Her friends, devastated. They wanted to know why the police withheld the information. They wanted to know why they hadn’t found the killers yet. Waiting over a week to disclose any information, law enforcement now wanted to know if anyone had seen anything. A tip line was set up. They questioned thousands of residents, going door to door, taking DNA samples from boys in the town fifteen and older. The police force called in the FBI and CBI. Roadblocks were set up by the ranch gates, stopping every resident going down the road passing out flyers featuring a generic sketch of one of the killers, along with pictures of what was taken from the house; they came up empty-handed.

Months passed, and they had no leads in the case. Maggie’s parents closed both restaurants they owned and left town. Rumors started to fly. One stated the family was targeted. They had been involved in illegal activities, trafficking Chinese people for some gang. All ridicules, all unfounded. Who could blame them for leaving town?

Maggie was to celebrate her eighteenth birthday that year on December 17th. Two weeks after her murder, her friends continued the tradition of making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  They handed out sandwiches to the homeless, all in her memory. That June, she was an honorary graduate. Her sister accepted her high school diploma.

On the one-year anniversary of Maggie’s murder, the FBI and CBI set up another roadblock by the ranch gates. This time they had sketches of three males who may be involved. A website designated for tips as well as supplying information to the public. But again, the case still isn’t solved.

When another case similar to Maggie’s happened in Missouri, the police and FBI sent out a detective to interview the young woman, who had survived, trying to get a description of her perpetrators. They were, in fact caught, but the DNA sample wasn’t a match. Another potential lead lost.

My family and I have moved from the area, but it is still a hard pill to swallow for the community at large. An emptiness felt throughout the town when Maggie was killed, and a rage still exists about how the police department handled the case. The sheriff, who decided to start his retirement early, unbeknownst to the townspeople who paid his salary. Many believe if he had been around, the killers wouldn’t have gotten away.

The two-year anniversary of Maggie’s murder is approaching, and still, the police have no new leads. The entire community still mourns her loss. The three men in the sketch are still free and believe they have gotten away with murder.

The reason I am writing this story is the information needs to go beyond Colorado. These men could be anywhere. The more platforms that publish the story, the more eyes get to look for any similarities. One man is believed to have burn marks on one of his forearms.

Timeline:

On the day of Maggie’s murder, she was reported to have left school around 3:30-3:35 pm. She would have arrived at her home by 4:00  pm.

A local resident was driving down Deer Creek Valley Ranchos Road and recalls no unusual activity at the Long home. The 911 call came into police dispatch at 7:01 pm. The reporting party stated they heard yelling and items being thrown around. They also smelled smoke. The reporting party was the tenants who lived in the attic.

A local resident reported an older model, tan vehicle driving fast out of the Long Ranch, crossing over into oncoming traffic.

Fire department was called out at 7:12 pm.  Arriving at the residence, they discovered a one-story frame house with a fire in the garage.

By 8:00 pm the tenant was able to be removed from the residence. At 8:15, CBI was called out due to multiple fire ignitions. 8:45 pm completely extinguished fire when the coroner was called out to the scene. The family had gathered in the driveway, and no one was permitted to enter the premises.

Around 9:30 pm, Maggie’s sister posted a call for help to find her sister.

That evening, the concert went on without Maggie. Her friends, fellow students, and teachers were asking about her all night. It was unusual for her not to be there, especially since she was one of the organizers. When I see the timeline of events, it saddens me. To know, while she was suffering, others were enjoying themselves, listening and dancing to music. Was Maggie there in spirit? From 7 pm, the start of the concert, until it ended at 9 pm, Maggie’s spirit was among her friends; whispering her last goodbyes, knowing she would forever be seventeen.

There’s currently a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the individual(s) responsible.

See photos here

New Author Name

Be sure to check out my new author page on Coffeehouse Writer’s where I’ll be writing articles every 2 weeks and will have them published there as well as here.

I will also be writing under the name of LC Ahl for Coffeehouse. My next article will be published on Monday, October 14th and another one on October 28th…don’t worry, I will keep you informed!!

My next article is a true crime piece on the murder of Maggie Long in Bailey Colorado. I am writing it because her murderers are still out there and they need to be brought to justice. My hope is it will get into the hands of more people scattered throughout the US and possibly the world (through you, my followers). Maggie deserves justice!

Thank you to all who follow my blog! Be sure to follow and like my stuff on Coffeehouse Writers!! Coffeehousewriters.com check out all the other amazing authors work too!!

Never Say Goodbye

There were so many little things Trent remembered when he and Katherine were a living, breathing couple. Today, was the twang in Tim McGraw’s voice singing one of their favorite songs on his truck radio. Moments like these brought tears to his eyes.

He grabbed his Aviators off the sun visor and placed them on his face. No need for anyone to see his emotions. Turning onto the tree-lined street, he noticed the beauty of the leaves turning color.  Most days he drove to work and back in a trance-like state, never noticing the beauty which surrounded him.

He pulled his truck into the circular driveway, and parked by the front doors. Kate didn’t like him parking there. She used to say, “What if someone drops in to see us? They’ll have a hard time backing out.” But these last few years, not too many people dropped by anymore. The first six months there seemed to be hordes of people showing up to see how he was doing, but they stopped coming around.

Kate was the social butterfly, not him.

As he entered the house, the security alarm sounded like a countdown to a nuclear blast.  He inserted the code and threw his keys in a bowl on the half table in the foyer.

“Honey, I’m home,” he shouted.

The silence was deafening.

He walked into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator door and retrieved a beer. Twisting the cap off, he placed it between his forefinger and thumb. He pretended he was making a goal. Aiming for the trash can lid, he flicked it, and watched as the cap bi-passed the lid and fell to the floor.

“Tomorrow’s another day for a win,” he said to himself.

He shed his jacket and shoes as he headed towards the staircase, leaving them in a small pile by the kitchen entry. Kate wouldn’t like that either. In fact, she had trained him to put his stuff away where it belonged. It didn’t surprise him how easy it was to fall into his old habits without her around.

He took the steps two at a time. As he rounded the corner of the hallway leading to his bedroom, he stopped at the bookcase where all the family pictures were still displayed. He picked one up. It was one of his favorites, and he couldn’t part with it.

Their wedding day had been, at the time, the highlight of his life. In the photograph, they both were beaming, and he remembers the day as if it were yesterday. He wishes it was yesterday.

“God, I miss you so much, it hurts.” He said to the photo.

Placing the photo back on the shelf, he walked into his bedroom. It didn’t feel like his bedroom anymore. But he made the trip up the stairs at least twice a day. The couch had become his bed even though there was a perfectly good king size bed he could sleep on. Too many memories.

Almost two years since she left. Funny how fast the cancer took her. One day she was complaining about a small pain in her side, and the next, or so it seemed, she was dead. They had gone to the best doctors. By the time she had noticed any symptoms, the monster had been eating her from the inside out. They never stood a chance. They made the best of the time they had left together, and for that, he would be forever grateful. She made him promise to never say goodbye. She told him she would never leave him, and she would always be around to watch over him. It wasn’t long after that she slipped into a coma and then she was gone.

Prior to her diagnosis, they used to tease each other. If she died before him, she would come back and haunt him. He would do the same to her. No matter how hard he looked for signs, she never appeared.

Perusing through his closet, he came across his old fishing vest.

“I’ve got an idea. I should go up to our cabin. It’s been what? Two years? With the changing of the seasons and the fall colors, maybe it’s what I need to get out of my funk.” Trent talked to himself as if he were having a conversation with Kate, in hopes of hearing her voice answer back.

He threw sweats, underwear, and socks into the suitcase, which now lay open on the bed. Toothbrush, shaving kit, shampoo, soap; that should do it.  Closing the case, he carried it downstairs to the kitchen.  He grabbed a cooler from the garage, and began filling it with food supplies, enough to last the weekend.  He had no idea what condition the place was in since he hadn’t been up there since Kate’s death.

Fall, his favorite time of year, his and Kate’s.  The vivid colors of the aspen tree leaves, painted across the landscape, caused a delay in their journey every time. Kate, the amateur photographer, would want him to pull over every few miles.

Even though Trent remembered every place they had ever stopped, he drove straight through. Mile Marker 22 was unrecognizable with all the overgrown weeds and eroded dirt road. He put his truck in 4-wheel drive and drove a few miles until he came to a clearing. He stopped and stared at the log cabin with the wrap-around porch and swing for two overlooking the lake.

“Well, Kate if you’re here, you sure haven’t done much to the place.” He joked. He looked over to the passenger side of the truck. He remembered the first time they had come up there, right after they bought the place.

She was wearing white Capri jeans and a denim vest, buttoned-down so he could admire her cleavage. Her camera strap was around her neck. Her long brown hair was hanging straight, and she had on red lipstick. Her teeth were so white, they gleamed whenever she smiled. 

“I can’t believe this is our place,” she was so excited. She grabbed the door handle and jumped out. 

“Come on,” she said, “I can’t wait to see the inside.” She ran ahead of the truck, stopping every now and then to snap a picture. She ran up the three steps to the front door and disappeared inside.

Trent parked the truck and grabbed his suitcase. He’d go back for the cooler. Putting the key into the lock, he turned the knob. His stomach had butterflies flitting around, and his heart was racing. He knew once the door opened, it would flood him with more memories, but perhaps this was what he needed to get on with his life.

As soon as the door opened, he sensed something wasn’t right. He sniffed the stall air of the closed-up cabin, and a trace of lavender hit his nostrils.

“Hello? Is someone here?” he yelled out.

“Kate? Is that you?” he whispered.

Putting his suitcase down, he walked through the cabin. He ran his fingers along the furniture Kate had purchased from the little antique shop in town. He picked up the little potpourri bowl on the side table and took a long whiff.  Another memory came flooding back to him.

She had come back from a shopping spree with a bag of lavender potpourri and an antique pink crystal candy bowl. She poured the open bag into the dish and put it up for him to smell.

“This will make the cabin more welcoming; don’t you think?” she asked. “Even says so on the back of the bag. And when you come up here with your buddies, you’ll be reminded of me.” She kissed him on the cheek, and as she started to walk away, he grabbed her, pulling her close to him. He gave her a long, deep kiss on the lips.

“I don’t need potpourri to remember you.”

Putting his suitcase in the small bedroom, he went out to get the cooler. He needed a drink. Opening up kitchen cabinets, he knew he had a bottle of scotch hidden somewhere in one of them. Finding it, he poured himself a half glass, threw a few ice-cubes in to chill the warm liquid, and walked out to the swing on the porch. The cabin sat on a lake surrounded by forest on three sides. Not a soul in sight for miles and the quiet, except for a few birds, was deafening. The sun was sitting above the tree line, and it illuminated the colors of the aspens. If Kate were here, she would have taken a picture.

As Trent looked over the lake, he thought he saw something moving in the forest. The shadows were playing tricks with his eyes, or so he thought. And then he saw her, a woman, standing just at the edge of the tree line. She was wearing a yellow sundress, and her long brown hair was flowing in the breeze. He raised his hand in a wave-like gesture, but she disappeared into the forest.

“Kate?” he whispered.

* * * * *

When he didn’t show up for work that Monday morning, Trent’s boss assumed he was ill. But when he didn’t show up the following day, he called the police to do a welfare check. Finding nothing amiss, they shrugged it off. A few weeks later, a couple of hunters came across the body of a man in a camo colored fishing vest, sitting under a tree as if he were waiting for someone. After contacting the sheriff, the coroner determined the poor soul had died from exposure.

* ****

After Trent’s funeral, his brother went up to the cabin. What could have possessed him to go into the forest without proper attire? When he opened the cabin door, he could smell hints of lavender. The cooler was where Trent had left it. A half-empty bottle of scotch was sitting on the counter, next to an empty glass. Pouring himself a drink, he walked out to the porch, looking across the lake.  The sun was sitting above the tree line.  And that’s when he saw it, a dark-haired woman in a yellow sundress and behind her, a man in a camo colored fishing vest.

Lifestyle changes

delay don't denyobesity code

 

After doing four months on Noom at 1200 calories per day plus working out with zero results; and the most recent, very expensive, nutritionist I hired back in October, who gave me a 1500 calorie per day “diet” eating 5-6 times per day, I have decided to not follow any of them.

I gained 12 lbs with the nutritionist who insisted I had been starving my body (said I was probably doing IF incorrectly) and I had to gain weight before losing it (bullshit) or that I was somehow “cheating” and NOOM was supposed to help me take them off (it didn’t), it just helped me maintain that weight gain, I have decided to try the only thing I felt, in my gut, (pardon the pun) that would help me lose these unwanted 50 lbs, Intermittent Fasting or IF.

I just finished reading “Delay, don’t Deny” by Gin Stephens and it’s the only thing that makes sense to me.  I also just ordered Dr. Fung’s book, “The Obesity Code” to gather more information.  I know I’m highly insulin resistant.  I know my hormones are playing a huge part in my inability to lose weight, and I believe with the correct IF schedule, I won’t be “starving” my body like the nutritionist kept telling me I was doing.  I don’t plan on weighing myself every day like NOOM wants you to, talk about depressing.  And even though their eating plan is psychology based, weighing yourself every day can be depressing, it makes or breaks your day.

Oh I forgot, saw a commercial on a GOLO plan so ordered their supplements, made their foods (some are delish) and they also push the hormone reason for not being able to lose weight, so you take their capsules with every meal and still nothing! Thankfully their plan is 100% guaranteed, so I will be requesting a refund! I followed their plan to a tee and saw no results for the last 2 months…

I’m so tired of this…really.  I’m tired of people saying “well, you know it’s all about calories in/calories out (CI/CO)”  Horseshit!  Pardon my outburst. Not everyone is the same, and that is purely old school, especially if you are insulin resistant.  There are so many factors as to why some of us can’t lose weight, no matter what we do. I haven’t been sitting around eating bon-bons all day.  I’ve been working out, riding my bike for miles at a time, walking, limiting my food intake to 1200 cal per day.  And still nothing.  How can that be normal?

After reading Gin Stephen’s book, it truly reiterated what I’ve been thinking all along.  All those calorie restricted diets, the low carb/high fat, the macro counting, all of them have screwed up my metabolism.  It isn’t my thyroid (I’ve been checked every 6 months and my meds are right on).  I can only blame myself for my metabolism being screwed up because I was so desperate to lose weight, to get down to my pre-cancer weight, that I would try anything out there that promised quick results.  I thought Keto was the cure all, and it turns out, for me, it wasn’t.  But I always had high hopes whenever I started a new eating plan.

Well, tomorrow, I start my IF plan.  And with the help of Gin and Dr. Fung, I will do it correctly.  I will fast all day long and open my window at 4:00 pm for snacks and dinner and close it at 8:00 pm to start.  If it needs tweaking, then I will tweak it.  I will only drink water/sparkling water (no flavor), black coffee (most likely will do it with ice), or unflavored herbal tea, I will try starting with 20 hours of fasting, and then 3-4 hours of eating.  If it’s too extreme, then I will cut it back.  I have to find what will work for me. I won’t be weighing myself every day, I will take a current picture of myself, and will measure every month on the 4th of the month along with another snapshot.

I have added a picture of Gin Stephens and Dr. Fung’s books for your reference.  I’m not saying if you are trying to lose weight and have had no success that these are the cure all’s.  But it’s worth a try.  After all, what do you have to lose? And if you want to join me, grab a copy of these books (no, I don’t make any money by promoting them), and get on Gin’s facebook page (just search for Delay don’t Deny on Facebook) answer the 3 questions, and let’s make ourselves accountable.  Who’s in?

Saga of the Golf Course

I’m not trying to be difficult.  I’m trying to understand.  How does a realtor who works in this community and who’s husband is one of the people in charge of getting current homeowners to purchase shares to “save” the community golf course not know what was going down?

We went to the meeting on Sunday evening and apparently they have known about this for “quite some time” (their words, not mine).  The course has been in disarray for awhile and yet no one ever said a word about it.  If you look at all the real estate listings for our community, they all boost about the fact we have a “world class golf course.”

Unfortunately, they need to stop advertising this on the website because the golf course has lost many members due to its deplorable condition.  That goes for the tennis courts which are also in disrepair and have been for sale for the past 2 years with no bites.

The pool has several broken umbrellas and not enough shade for those of us who do belong to the pool.  I haven’t used the weight room yet due to my illness but I can say the restaurant is pretty darn good.  We have enjoyed a few meals there and I can’t complain about that.  The help is friendly and accommodating.

I received lots of backlash from people in the community because I voiced my distaste on how they continue to use scare tactics (your home value will go down 10-30% if you don’t purchase a share), the place will go into further disrepair if we don’t save the golf course,  a developer will build what ever they want, crime will go up, won’t have any control of who lives here, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Since we are not even here 2 months, this angers me, and if the neighbors don’t like it, too f’n bad.  I am looking into an ethics complaint to the Board of Realtors due to the fact our sellers realtor works for the real estate company here in the community. Everyone kept saying, “we’ve only known about this for 2 weeks.”  Well, I call bullshit on that.  At the meeting it was brought up 3 times about how they have known about this for quite some time and that about 30 people were initially brought into the clique to discuss options.

THIS IS WHY I’M UNHAPPY ABOUT THIS SITUATION.  I have invested alot of money into our new home and I don’t appreciate not being told up front so I could make a more solid decision about where I would live.  We thought we had done our due diligence, we just didn’t realize we were being lied to.  Two weeks ago we stopped by the golf course to see about purchasing a membership. Not one person said a word about the course closing. Imagine how hot I’d be right now if we had purchased a membership?

We have discussed and decided to opt out of the purchasing of a share or two.  At this point, I don’t trust the information being given to me.  If they can lie about it to our faces, what are they possibly not telling us.  If they can choose not to disclose this to people purchasing in this neighborhood because it wasn’t yet public knowledge, what else aren’t they sharing with us?

I have made my decision public and my neighbors can hate me if they want. I only wish for the best outcome and for those who can afford it, good for them.  Save our community, and if the HOA tries to take it over and we get to vote on it, our vote will be no.  I don’t want to own a golf course.  I don’t want to be financially responsible for it.  That is not why we purchased in this community.

So for now, they can do what they want.  I am backing out.  My neighbor’s house is for sale and it was sold but just yesterday a new for sale sign went up in the yard, guess they were really obligated to tell the buyers what was going on, I just wish we had been given the same opportunity.

Is this a case of coercion/extortion or just out and out lies?

South bridge golf course

SOUTHBRIDGE

This is the name of our new community where we just purchased our forever home.  Six months of planning and investigating the community you would think would’ve been enough.  As it turns out, no matter how much you research or how many questions you ask, if it’s a lie, it’s a lie.

In the mail on Friday, we received a flyer.  A four page, colored, glossy flyer.  Headlines read, “PRESERVATION & RESTORATION EFFORT … Must act now to keep the Golf Course / Green Space available for our neighborhood”

WTF???

As I continued to read this very colorful flyer, it continued with information about 3 informal meetings to be held at the Golf Course club house.  Our deadline to commit:  September 1, 2019.

Turning the page, there is an Equity Share Commitment Form, which basically states we agree to purchase shares, to be paid in full for $5,000 per share, meaning the privately owned golf club will now become the communities responsibility to maintain.

The next page (3), explains the current leasing management is turning the golf course back over to the owners and the current owners, who don’t live in the Savannah area, will be closing the course and will begin looking for a development organization to buy the property to build additional residential units that may include homes, condos or even apartments.

This action will most likely:

Devalue everyone’s home located in the neighborhood by 10 – 30%

Cause the green space to become unkempt and grow wild

Create construction traffic for years along Southbridge Blvd.

Add approximately 1,000 cars and 2,000 people to the neighborhood

Create lower cost housing within the neighborhood

and finally, HOA would have no control over the new residents or their house keeping.

HOWEVER:

A group of Southbridge residents known as the Southbridge Savannah Golf Group has negotiated an affordable opportunity for the community to have this golf course/green space revitalized and create a positive outcome.

The fourth page then consists of how this can be done:

An LLC “will be created” (meaning one is not created yet so how do we know what this will entail) to allow anyone to purchase Equity Shares to fund raise 2.5 million dollars.  This is a one time only offer.  This 2.5 million dollars will purchase the land and set up a new management team.  They say shareholders will have benefits but they don’t say what type of benefits.  Payment will need to be received by September 15, 2019.  A total of 600 shares are available.

And guess who is heading all of this?  A man by the name of Abbott.  His wife was the realtor representing the sellers of the house we purchased in the middle of June.  And it seems another realtor is in charge of the sale and is in line to receive her commission on 2.5 million dollars.  This realtor is despised by many of the homeowners in this community for various reasons.  Seems everyone has a horror story about her and her real estate dealings.

I’m a little perturbed about this whole thing especially when those who are involved and are in line to profit from these dealings are telling the rest of the community they just found out about it 2 weeks ago.  This I know to be an out and out lie.  On July 11th, my husband and I were in the clubhouse having dinner and we happened to be having a conversation with two gentlemen, one was the auditor for the city of Savannah and the other was a financier who lived in the neighborhood.  They both told us the golf course was going to be closing and the land for sale.  Now mind you, we specifically asked about the finances of the golf course prior to purchasing and closing on our house on June 17th.  We were told everything was solid.  Nothing to worry about. 

Upon hearing this news, we thought for sure they were joking or just misinformed because surely they would have disclosed this information in recent real estate dealings.  This was not the case.  Now it makes me wonder why so many of the real estate women who own houses in this community have sold their homes or have them for sale this year.  And to think we almost purchased a home on the golf course owned by the despised realtor.  We didn’t like her from those dealings nor have we been fond of any of the realtors who work for Southbridge reality. 

Rather than hire an attorney, I will be contacting the Board of Realtors to do the investigation as this was not disclosed to us during our dealings with purchasing this house.  My realtor didn’t even know about it.  It was a close held secret only being discussed among a handful of people, several who hold a real estate license and those who will profit from this sale.

I don’t like how this came down.  I feel they were sneaky.  I feel they were liars.  I feel like I, along with others in the community are now being coerced into owning a golf course we didn’t want to own.  I feel as if I’m being threatened.  My property value will go down if I don’t participate.  My HOA fees may go up to $1,700 per year and who knows, since golf courses never run on a profit, how much higher will my yearly HOA fees go up? And we will have no recourse but to pay them if we want to continue living here.  It will be a money pit, never ending expenses.

Some of the amenities in the community which drew us to it were the pool, (which is also in disarray), the tennis courts, (which when I posted my protest on Nextdoor, one of my neighbors privately contacted me and told me the tennis courts had been for sale for the last 2 years) exercise room, restaurant, and golf course.  Our HOA fees weren’t that high so again, we made our decision on what was presented to us.  However, if I had wanted to pay $1,700 per year for HOA fees, I would have purchased in the Landing, or some of the more prestigious neighborhoods in Savannah.

Tonight we will go to the meeting where I will take notes and report back as to what they are going to try and cram down our throats.  I honestly do not have another move in me so moving again is just out of the question, but I truly want to get to the bottom of this and feel a full investigation is needed, especially to those of us who just purchased homes in this community and were never given a heads up so we could make a more informed decision when spending our life savings on a house.

The Board of Realtors will be getting a phone call from me in the morning because I will be representing the people in the community who are just as angry about this as I am.

Life is a series of lessons

pyramid with life circles (2013_07_03 19_07_39 UTC)The older we get, the more we learn.  Life is a series of lessons, sometimes easy, sometimes hard.

When I was younger, I was a hard knock lesson learner.  I knew better than anyone older than me, and my experiences were going to be different.  (insert laugh)

As I’ve gotten older and hopefully a little wiser, I am learning to let go.  I’m learning to listen to my intuition more and trust my gut. I guess you could say I got tired of beating my head against the proverbial brick wall.

This makes it harder for my circle to comprehend but I trust, as they mature, they will follow suit.

I have learned change can be hard.  However, if we keep an open mind, we soon realize change is inevitable and most of the time, it ends up being what we needed.  For anyone who has read the book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by the late author Spencer Johnson, a fable about how to cope positively with change, you’ll know what I mean.   WMMC is a fable about four characters who live in a maze and they all love cheese. When the cheese disappears, Scurry and Sniff (two little people) enthusiastically head out into the maze to find new cheese. On the other hand Hem and Haw (mice) feel betrayed and complain. They waste their time and energy hoping the old cheese will return. Haw realizes the old cheese won’t return so he sets out into the maze in search for new cheese. He writes what he learns on the walls hoping that Hem will follow him. Eventually he discovers new cheese and sees that Scurry and Sniff were already there. Cheese is a metaphor for what you want to have in life. It could be a good job, loving relationship, money or health. The very core message of the book is this: things constantly change so we must adapt. The quicker we adapt to a change the more satisfied we’ll be with life.

It was a required read when I was working on a project for the State of California and I quickly learned prior to the end of that contracted project, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, how much this book helped me get through everything I had to do to save my life.  If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do.  It still helps me today.

It has helped me get through all my family issues I’ve had to deal with these last few years.  It has kept me sane and even though the move to CO depressed me, I pushed through it because my “cheese” was my husband whom I love with all my heart.  I was there because that is where he thought he wanted to be until his “cheese” moved! Luckily, we were gnawing on the same piece and when it moved, we both found it in GA!!

My step son’s cheese moved this past weekend and he finds himself now living with his sister.  My only hope is he doesn’t keep gnawing on that cheese when it grows old and moldy.  I hope he keeps his options open and moves through the maze of life following different brands of cheeses. Time will tell.

Life is not only a series of lessons but it’s also a series of changes.  The sooner we learn from our mistakes (life lessons) and the sooner we embrace change, the happier we will ultimately be.  Don’t lie on your death bed filled with regrets, leave this world knowing you did the very best with what God gave you.

How People See You

3 Dimensions

A funny thing happened the other day when my brother and his wife were visiting us.  We were talking about our kids at first.  And then my brother said something to me which took me aback.  He said, “It’s a good thing you met your husband when you did, because you’d be homeless right now.” He laughed after he said it, so I thought maybe he was joking.  But after thinking about it, I decided he really did believe this about me.  I had to set him straight about his thinking.  You see, I may have had hard times but I have always risen above them and have come out successful in the end.

He didn’t know when I sold all my belongs except for my clothing, it was because I was planning on leaving the country.  I had just gotten my TESOL certificate and was heading either to China or Costa Rica to teach English as a second language.  However, my mom ended up with breast cancer and I decided to move in with her to take care of her and drive her to her many doctor appointments.  Lucky she didn’t need chemo but because she was HER-2 positive, she needed infusions of Herceptin.  My plan was as soon as she was better, I was leaving.  I was still in college earning my BA degree, and I ended up graduating with high honors.  I’m not sure how that equates to being homeless or almost homeless.  I’ve always paid my rent or mortgage on time as well as my bills. I was never overly rich but I was comfortable.

Granted during Obama’s reign, I had to improvise how I earned my money.  I had gotten laid off of my construction job and I started my own business as a Professional Organizer, which I ran for seven years, which paid my bills as well as my rent.  I helped  a Medical Marijuana grower, and I was a packer for a moving company.  So, homeless was never in my mindset.  And I never saw myself as being destitute, I had to tighten my belt but in my mind that was survival skills many people don’t possess.  I am able to live without certain luxuries.  I bartered my hair services, I stopped getting my nails done, and I certainly had enough clothes to wear.  As far as food goes, I was doing Medifast, so my food was delivered and I only had to purchase chicken breast and salad stuff.

How I would like others to see me:  A strong, independent woman who has survived being a single mother of two, a woman who fought and survived a breast cancer diagnosis, a woman who, for fourteen years, didn’t have a man to rely on and made it anyway.  A woman who is a jack of all trades and a master of none.  A person who is loyal as a friend, who is honest, sincere, fierce in her beliefs, and will help anyone in need.  If you cross me, I will forget you.  If you lie to me, I will forget you. If you choose to talk about me behind my back or make up stories, I will forget you.

As I sit here writing this, I am glad I went through the struggles life brought me.  I can say it now that it’s passed me.  And even though I am not an overly religious person, I do know there was someone or something looking out for me.  Perseverance comes to mind.  I’m happy I met my husband when I did.  It meant I was ready to share my life again with someone.  And we are perfect for each other.  I deserve him as he deserves me.  He often tells me he’s not sorry he ruined my plans!  And neither am I.

The saying, “What you think of me is none of my business” still rings true for me today.  I don’t need anyone’s approval to do anything.  I am my own seasoned person.  I love my life.  It may not be perfect, but it’s perfect for me.  The closer the distance between these three dimensions, the more at peace I am.  Don’t always surmise you know a person, unless you really do know that person.