Victoria S. Hardy

Victoria S. Hardy

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

MAGA Hat Attacks

 MAGA Hat Attacks

The Washington Post released a correction to the reporting it did on the Covington Catholic School kids (MAGA Hat Kids) after being hit with a $250,000,000 defamation lawsuit and grudgingly admitted that upon reviewing the videos it “allows for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story.” Unfortunately or expectedly, the paper released its editor note late on a Friday night - in other words, the time news stories go to die.  And it appears that Jussie Smollett had to hire the “racist” MAGA hat wearing duo, brothers from Nigeria, to attack him.

The mainstream media pushed these stories to the brink, eviscerating teenage boys attending a Right To Life March, and crying on air about the brutal attack of a little known actor. Reporters and actors declared that anyone wearing a red MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat was a white supremacist, a racist, and compared it to the hood wearing KKK.

Since the election of President Trump the mainstream media has studiously ignored attacks on MAGA hat wearing Americans and in a brief search this morning I found dozens of assaults in just the last few months. These attacks received little to no airtime on the national news channels, and just a few words on the local news. 

During the previous administration there was plenty of Presidential gear being sold and worn, and I don’t remember anyone attacking Obama supporting Americans, but now people are literally afraid to show their support of the president. They are being bullied, kicked out of bars and restaurants, and accosted on the street if they dare to wear anything that shows support of the President of the United States. I personally know people who have had signs and flags stolen from their yards, and I know many more people who would never admit that they were going to vote, and did vote, for the president for fear of their career, and loss of friends.

Just last week an 81-year-old man was attacked by a 19-year-old man for wearing a MAGA hat at a local ShopRite in New Jersey, the elderly man was leaving the store when the teenager confronted him. The younger man was offended by the hat, got into a tussle with the elderly man, and threw him to the ground, toppling the shopping cart, and throwing the hat aside.

A young man in Falmouth, Massachusetts was accosted by a woman as he sat at a bar eating his lunch. She was offended by his hat and felt she had the right to assault him. Luckily, some local police officers were also having their lunch in the restaurant and she was arrested. Turns out she was here illegally and is now in the custody of ICE.

A man in Arizona was attacked for his MAGA hat the day before the midterm elections.  His ankle broken in four places, and he was called Hitler and Nazi as he was beaten in the back of the head.  A student in Minneapolis was attacked by eight students on National Walk Out Day for having a MAGA flag. The Walk Out was aimed at gun control and he walked the opposite side of the street with a flag. He received a broken wrist and was told not to come back to the school by the administrators because they couldn’t guarantee his safety.

Just a few weeks ago a couple shopping in Sam’s Shopping Club had a gun drawn on them for supporting their president. A twelve-year-old boy was attacked and beaten on the bus for his hat. He was also suspended for the encounter.
 Young teens were bullied in a mall for their hats, and the bully was declared a hero for threatening and cussing at kids minding their own business.
A teenage girl was suspended from school on America Spirit Day for wearing a disruptive MAGA sweatshirt.

And of course, CNN reporter Jim Acosta suggested that soldiers overseas in Iraq should be disciplined for welcoming their president with MAGA gear to be signed on Christmas.

As I said, I found these incidents in less than an hour of research this morning, and they mostly span the last six months. There were more than I added to this post, lots more.

I can’t remember a time that supporting the president made you the enemy, and even though not every one supported the last presidents I can’t remember the outright hostility and threats of violence. I also can’t remember having service denied for supporting the president, but it seems now it’s a thing.

I also can’t remember grown adults acting like children as this vape store employee acted upon seeing a MAGA hat.
This temper tantrum throwing adult was fired by his African-American boss after this display.

Keeping seeking folks, it’s crazy out there. God bless us all.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Rage Culture and the Legalization of Murder

Rage Culture and the Legalization of Murder

This has been an odd week, and I believe it is a week that will go down in my memory as a marker to change. In a span of days we’ve gone from wishing death on a teenage boy for a “face crime”, a facial expression, to legalizing the murder of a baby in the womb up to birth in New York. The new law also takes away legal protections for the baby, whereas killing a child in the womb is no longer considered homicide, even if the baby was wanted, planned, and loved. Vermont is also looking to pass the same law, where many refer to Planned Parenthood as the fourth branch of government.

I have felt a spiritual disturbance stronger than I have in a long time, and sleep has been difficult. As I compare and contrast the two events my mind seems to stutter, wondering what it all means - not just in the now, but also for the future. 

I first saw the headline of the Covington School boy Saturday evening while I was cooking dinner and had a visceral reaction. I either made a noise or an expression because my husband responded with “What is it?”  For several seconds I was without words or even the ability to speak. My husband asked again, and I just shook my head and put down my phone. A few minutes later I just said, “Some bullshit story on facebook.”  I didn’t look at the Internet for the rest of the night.

The next morning I settled with my coffee and looked at the clip and read the stories, and my bullshit meter was off the charts. I then read the comments on both the articles and my friends’ posts, and I was stunned by the hatred, threats, and immediate doxxing of the school and the children. I think it was the comments of my friends that shocked me more than the general public. I know these people personally; I know their backgrounds, and the fervor of their condemnation was stunning, so I began researching the event and it didn’t take long to find the bigger picture. When I returned to social media the hatred and threats had swelled into a tsunami, and it seemed if you didn’t believe the boy from Kentucky was a hideous racist then it only proved that you were a racist as well.

Now New York has legalized abortion up to birth and lit the One World Trade Center in bright pink in celebration, and strangely enough the new law is called the “Reproductive Health Act”. Governor Cuomo states that it is “a historic victory for New Yorkers and for our progressive values.” This law allows the legal death of an infant even if it is perfectly healthy and able to live outside the womb, certainly not a mass of cells as some pro-abortion activists claim, but a completely formed child.

I struggle to find the words for this procedure, well truth be told I don’t struggle at all, it is evil, demented, depraved, sadistic, and outright murder. The process of late-term abortion is done by lethal injection in the womb. The baby is injected in his/her skull or body and suffers an incredibly painful death as the child is fully formed with a fully functioning nervous system. The mother then carries the dead baby in her womb for a day, returning to make sure the baby is dead, if the baby is not dead they inject the child again. Then the mother delivers the dead baby, and make no mistake, it is a baby, a child, a human being. 

The law is completely unclear about what constitutes a mother’s health, it could be mental health (and I think anyone who does this to a child is mentally ill), or it could be that she has a cold. And it seems to me as the mother and child are connected in the most truthful and basic sense of the word that this process of lethal injection is not particularly healthy to the mother either.  “According to a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology on the risk factors associated with legally induced, abortion-related mortality, the “risk of death” for “women obtaining legally induced abortions…increase[s] exponentially by 38% for each additional week of gestation.” Advancements in medical technology have enabled premature babies to survive as early as 21 weeks and five days gestation...”

It is clear that the woman having such an abortion must deliver the child, but seemingly it is better, and healthier, to deliver a corpse than a living child. And also if the child somehow miraculously survives the abortion, he/she has no legal rights, and will not be offered medical assistance.

In the last days since my deep gut visceral reaction to a news story, a marker of change I felt profoundly, it has become normal to threaten death on a teenage boy for a face crime, and legal to murder completely healthy infants.

In a previous blog post I stated that I had quit writing about the news and the world because, due to threats, I found it was safer to write fiction. I now know that if I say nothing about the events unfolding in our society then I am complicit in the degradation of our country, and the world.

Gov. Cuomo states that this law is a victory for progressive values, but I know this is regression and a resurrection of sacrificing children at the altar as dead and dying cultures did long ago.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Social Media Over 50 Part IV

Social Media Over 50 Part IV 

I did not expect to have to write a part four of my social media rant, but the events over the weekend have left me knowing there is more to say. Honestly, since Sunday morning I have been aghast and dismayed at the happenings in the mainstream media and social media. I have watched in horror as the world turned against a teenage boy because of a facial expression in an edited clip with no context.

I have read the words of acquaintances expressing that the context of the supposed racial attack (a facial expression in a short clip) does not matter. The boy is guilty enough of being a racist that he should be expelled, his parents should be fired from their jobs, and threats of death and violence are completely justified and even encouraged.

The students and parents are having their personal information shared across the Internet, and the school is closed for an undetermined amount of time due to security concerns, threats, and protests from groups like Antifa…. because of a facial expression.

The young man wearing his MAGA hat and waiting for a bus did not say mean words to the elderly man with the drum, and he did not hit or punch the older man. In the full videos, the context is clear. The two hours of video - the before, during, and after - make the situation perfectly clear, and yet the world has lost its mind over seconds of a facial expression.  The videos make it clear that the high school boys were not aggressors, were not chanting “Build the Wall”, and were not harassing the Native American man. The videos show the situation clearly and in context, but so many have already judged the boy to be a racist and condemned him.

I am not sure if this is willful ignorance, or just plain stubbornness to cling to first impressions and close the mind to the whole picture, but this clarifies the power of social media and it is terrifying. It is mob mentality. What I am seeing is that these young men are having their lives ruined by a facial expression - for a facial expression that was deemed so offensive it required life-altering consequences as punishment. Hundreds of thousands of people turned their hate toward a group of teenage boys due to a facial expression taken out of context. 

On social media, we can all be judge and jury. On social media, we can be vigilantes. On social media, we can right the wrongs we perceive in society through threats, violence, and hate. On social media, context and the truth are not important, only our self-righteous rage matters.

I think we’ve reached a new level of insanity. Are we truly to a point where a facial expression is enough to unhinge our society? If so, those with resting bitch face better watch out, you may find yourself on the wrong side of the social media mobs.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Social Media Over 50 Part III

Social Media Over 50 Part III

I suppose I am cynical. I laugh at that thought because I knew in my 20s, as a single mother, I would never be surprised again, and that I was cynical. My cynicism has reached a new level in the last ten years on social media.

I am grateful social media didn’t exist when I was a child, working through the trials and heartaches and awkwardness of adolescence. When I was a kid, I lost a friend each year of high school; one in a hunting accident, another by playing with baseball bats on mailboxes on a rural road, and the third from an undiagnosed heart issue. These days kids lose their friends from suicides, or being abducted or lured away by pedophiles met on the interwebs. 

Studies have shown over again that social media leads to depression, and my own experience shows me this as well. Typically, I would get my coffee in the morning, look over the media, and even if I woke feeling great, I would soon descend into a lesser state. I do wonder if the same thing happened as we had our coffee and perused the morning paper, perhaps it did, but the paper was actually a paper, easily thrown away, burned or recycled. The paper did not have a pulsing blue light behind it with an instant response to your opinion.

When I was in my 20s and 30s, there was no such thing as revenge porn, where a lover could record you and send it out to twenty thousand people, who copied and reposted and sent it to another twenty thousand. When I was in my younger years no one sent me dick pictures because they would have to take the film to be developed – I laughed at the thought of the person handing the pictures over the counter. When I was younger I had a couple friends who I’d talk to on the phone, old landlines, now I have over 300 friends and I’m not sure if I’ve had a real conversation with 90% of them, or if I would even know them if I met them in the grocery.

An interesting thing about social media is that we get our news in memes, some funny, some truth, some lies, but after seeing so many posts it becomes hard to discern the truth. And on social media the need/wanting to be accepted by your peers is even stronger than it was when we were young. On social media we post our selfies - look how great I look, look how happy I am, look at all my friends.

I do recognize that I am odd. I’ve never been one for “girls nights” or lunches, I have never been popular, I’ve never been a bridesmaid, and I don’t have a “tribe”.  I am one of those folks who like to read books, write them sometimes, and think about the “what if” things.

Before you call me a hypocrite because I’m still on social media, I will say that I have met some nice folks on the board that I would not have met without it. Some of those folks are close to my heart, and we have had real conversations, and sometimes phone calls. Also, I will say reconnecting with old best friends from elementary school and seeing what they did with their lives, and how they followed their passions have been inspiring – one name stands out, and what she’s done with her life and passion almost makes social media worth it. She and I lost touch after high school, but she is living the dream she always wanted.

On social media I am inundated by memes about love, light, and acceptance of every-damned-thing. But the love is marred, the light is muddy, and the acceptance is mostly not acceptable. On social media, I think too many times that someone is protesting too much - and after the tenth post how they love their new “hook-up”, and then they are broken up and hate each other three months later …  yes, I am cynical.

Social media is mentioned in a third of all divorces these days. 

Yes, I have grown cynical after ten years on social media, and I’d wager that most of us have, although we probably don’t talk about it as we post another picture.

I know that I miss the times before when we lived our lives, however grand or normal they were, and didn’t require the attention and opinions of 300 or 1000 strangers to comment upon them.

On social media, we are all stars. On social media, we are all important. On social media, our lives are fabulous.

I guess, in hindsight, I miss when we knew that fact on our own and didn’t need likes to prove it to us. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Social Media Over 50 Part II

Social Media Over 50 Part II 

I cut my Internet teeth on forums, before social media was popular among the middle aged. On the forums - I was always drawn to conspiracy or alternative ideas - the people weren’t nice, but the ideas were explored. On the forums, it was no big deal to be called an asshat, a moron, or an idiot, and people took it in stride.

I also had a freelance position at a now defunct Internet newspaper. I wrote under my own name and scoured the back pages of Google to give enough information to help the reader consider a different view than the one on the mainstream media. Something changed though, a change of administrations, and suddenly those back pages began disappearing. 

Sites that I used to rely on to give and share the local news from their hometowns began being censored. I suppose the new word is shadow banned, but in reality their sites were just shut down due to a myriad of reasons, and then even on the back pages of searches you’d still find the same approved articles that were on the front page. It began to be harder and harder to do my little, unpaid, freelance job.

On the forums, and lots of sites I used to visit you could be anonymous, which I found led to greater truth. You could speak your experience, without fear of censor, and pick out a cute picture (or a terrifying one), and give yourself a name, but then the media began pushing the bullying aspect, and the anonymous thing began to disappear.

Even though I had read the books about fascist societies, I was shocked to see it happening in real life, in my lifetime. Suddenly you had to register on a site, and use your real name, give your phone number, and the real time information flow began to slow down. I remember watching videos of happenings in this place or the other and the video would disappear, cut from the flow in real time – censored.  Suddenly, people could proclaim that an idea, thought, or fact was offensive and it was gone in minutes.  

I quit writing for that international paper shortly after a change of administrations. In one I could tell the truth as I saw and researched it, but in the other I understood I could no longer do that, it simply wasn’t worth the risk. Around that time social media became the big thing among us old folks.

And with social media, we began self-censoring. No longer can you call someone an asshat, and challenge his or her thoughts. On social media, everyone is kind, and those who are not must be mentally ill.

On social media, everyone has a good day. On social media, everyone is beautiful. On social media, we seek validation from our “peers”.  On social media, we lose part of ourselves trying to please and impress our “friends”.

Before you call me an asshat, moron, or idiot, which I undoubtedly am, let me state that I am just as guilty as anyone else and that is exactly why I’m writing this blog. 

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Social Media Over 50

Social Media Over 50 

I was late to the Internet. Dabbled with it in the late 90s at home, and learned systems as work dictated though the 2000s.  As a drummer in a band I worked on MySpace a bit to get followers.

In 2005, we killed cable in the house (mostly due to the coverage of Hurricane Katrina), and then, seeking information, I found some sites I still consider home.

In 2009, I was introduced to social media…

At first I was confused why the people who bullied and threatened me in high school were sending me “friend” requests, and I cried, reliving the memories of how hard school was for me.

Then I started getting messages asking if my husband and I were swingers, they’d seen us somewhere playing together as a band, and were just asking if they could have sex with us.

My Internet experience at this point was on conspiracy sites where you were challenged, and insults were steady, but ideas were hashed out.

Then I started writing, and sometimes I cried when an article would receive 20,000 views in a day.

Perhaps I am odd, but it scared me - so many people seeing me, and my thoughts, but not really knowing me. I felt like a target. I was not a trained journalist, but I could disseminate many articles on a subject down to the pebbles of truth. And I was threatened, not just with lawsuits, but other things …

And then social media happened.

At that point I had figured out that writing non-fiction was very dangerous for my health, and began writing fiction.

Social media …

Now, I hesitate to post or write the truth as I know and have researched. I think twice before stating an opinion. As hard as it was getting 20,000 views in a day, and responding to a hundred emails, these days on social media I’m worn out by six or twelve responses.

Social media is a new concept in a relatively old world. It used to be the newspapers worked out the editorials, but now every reply is instant and in your house.

On social media I have been more attacked than when I was just writing a blog; on social media I’ve been hit on more than when I was young, cute, and hot in the bars; on social media I am even more afraid of opinions than when I was in high school.

On social media my husband received several private messages to calm his wife down from a (former) mutual friend because I challenged his “facts”. On social media another friend, a married friend, suggested we should be friends with benefits with no strings.

The thing about “social” media is that I never would’ve spoken to these folks again after high school, or after a single meeting. I would not have sought out anyone from the past unless I was still talking to them on a regular basis, and I wouldn't be in touch after an art show. Some could say I am anti-social, but I’m not, I’m just confused.

I’m confused why suddenly I have friend requests from people who were not actually friends wanting to see my life. I am confused why I accept their requests. Do I want to see their lives?  And honestly, at over half-a-century, does it even matter anymore?

I’m confused why I barely know my family’s phone numbers but can reach them on social media.

I am 53, and I remember when we used to know our friends phone numbers, and we knew who our friends were, but now we have all these “friends”. 

Do we have any real friends anymore? 

As usual, keep seeking, and for the love that all is good, keep asking questions.  

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Kari's New Job

 Kari's New Job

Kari opened her laptop, booting it up, and grimaced as she saw her own reflection on the screen. She noticed that the piece of tape that usually covered her webcam was gone, and she studied her pale and blemished countenance on the screen. “I look like shit,” she muttered, grateful that she was mostly alone in the coffee shop. She pushed her unwashed hair away from her face, taking in the contours, and wondering if her jaw line was beginning to sag.

“Ugh,” she said, moving closer to the built in camera to look at her eyebrows, and trying to remember the last time she plucked them. “I look like a sasquatch, an unwashed, smelly bigfoot.” She lifted the neck of her sweater, and sticking her nose into the opening she took a deep breath. “Damn,” she sighed.

She tried to stop the camera using the little icon on the screen, but it wouldn’t close, and finally minimizing it, she went back on her job search. She scrolled through the options, sending her resume when she thought she had half the experience and could fake the rest.

Two months without a job had busted not just her bank account, but also her self-worth. She sent another resume, and sipping her cup of cheap black coffee, she couldn’t remember the last time she showered. She had enough money for rent for one more month; she’d already cut the cable, the internet, the gym, and the only expense she afforded right now was sitting in the coffee shop, with the free Wi-Fi, and drinking cheap bitter brews as she searched for a new job.

She still didn’t understand why she was fired. She’d worked at a publishing house, and her job had been to read new incoming manuscripts and pass them on to the higher ups in the company. There were rules, of course, most of them stated and clear. Things about misogyny, racism, misspelled words and grammar issues, the owners of the house knew that they would have to deal with the writer, so they had set simple rules into place. 

Looking back, as she sent a new resume and waited for it to upload, she realized the manuscript Time To Get Out Of Dodge had been her undoing. It was beautifully written, lyrical, and there was no misogyny or racism despite the fact that it was placed in a Southern town in the 1880s. It was a beautiful story, the characters rich, and reminded her of a blend of Steinbeck, Harper Lee, and Hemingway. It was a story about a civil war vet finding an orphan, and the life they attempted to live in the city as father and daughter. The ending, though, was what made it so amazing as they realized that they could never be free of social constraints living in a big city.

Kari stood up after the resume had been uploaded, and carried her cup back to the counter, ordering another black coffee, pulling out her wallet and counting her few dollars, she grudgingly handed them over. Waiting for the coffee, she thought about her meeting with her boss the morning she was fired.

“They don’t have sex?” she asked, throwing down the manuscript.

Kari shook her head. “Of course not, she’s eight, and he’s in his fifties. Why would they have sex? He’s trying to do the right thing after the war, that’s what the whole book is about.”

“Kari, I thought we’d talked about this. Books these days have to have at least one sex scene, did you see the sales on the 50 shades of whatever? You keep sending me things that won’t sell. We can promote this forever, but no one wants to read a boring story about an old man saving an orphan. That not what publishing is about anymore.”  The older woman tapped her polished nails on the desk. “I hate to say this, but we can’t keep you on. You’re wasting time and money with the novels you send up. You’re fired, clear out your desk.” 

Kari accepted her coffee, and even threw a couple quarters into the tip jar before returning to her table and laptop. The camera was on again as she sat down, and she saw the little blond hairs on her chin. “Crap,” she muttered, holding her chin to the camera, and looking at the screen. “Am I growing a beard?”  Between my eyebrows and chin I could be the hairy lady in freak shows, she thought, and then remembered the circuses and fairs no long had freak shows. “Well, damn.”

She looked at herself in the screen again, her face bare of makeup, her hair tangled, and wearing an ancient wool sweater she’d bought for three bucks at a thrift store. She gazed a few minutes more, missing her stylist, when she noticed that the background of the video stream was green and looked like woods. She felt a small breeze and saw the leaves on the screen tremble. She turned to look behind her, and saw paintings on a burnt orange wall.

“The hell,” she muttered, looking back at the screen. She was still there, looking as awful as she felt, but the background was woods, a wooded place, and the leaves lifted, twisting, and slapped together in the breeze. She glanced over her shoulder again to see the orange wall, and turned back to the computer to see herself in the woods, the wind increasing, and her hair now blowing in her face.

She looked up at the vents in the ceiling where little tassels hung to see if the heat or air conditioning had come on, and then to the door to see if anyone had stepped inside. She pushed her hair behind her ears, glancing back at the computer. It was her again, now her tangled hair behind her ears, while behind her in the scene the wind calmed, and she could hear birds in the trees.

She closed the laptop, and the bird song ended. She glanced back up at the vents, the little, stringed tassels still, and shook her head. “What in the hell?” she muttered, unplugging the computer and sliding it back into the case. She slung the bag over her shoulder, picked up her drink, and left the coffee shop.

She walked toward home, taking the long route through the city park, and avoiding the little apartment she once thought was affordable, but no longer did, and stopped at a bench.  She sat down, setting the cup beside her, and pulled out the laptop, opening it again.

There she was on the screen, but the scene behind her was not a brick wall, but a creek. She turned, making sure there was a brick wall behind the bench, and turned back to the screen. “Wait a minute,” she said, holding both sides of her head with her palms, “I recognize this.” 

She stood, placing the laptop on the bench, and stepping out into the path. On the screen she grew smaller, the creek grew louder as it rushed over old rocks, and she waved her arms to make sure it wasn’t a trick, some weird app that had appeared on her laptop camera. She looked behind her again, and just saw the city park, but looking back at the screen she saw herself standing beside a creek, and she could smell the minerals.

She looked up and around, she knew there was a creek in the park, but it was a couple blocks away.  She looked back at the laptop, and there she was standing in wet sand. She glanced down at the concrete path. Back on the screen she was under red leaves that bespoke of fall, she glanced up to see the trees above had already donated their leaves for the season. She tried to remember the date.

An old man sat on the bench beside the laptop. “Is this yours?” he asked, pulling out some nuts from his pockets to feed the pigeons.

“Yes, sir,” she said, looking back at the screen to see a shadow behind her.

“He’s calling, you know?” the old man said, scattering peanuts on the ground.

“Who?” Kari asked, looking from the screen to her surroundings.

“The man in there.” He nodded his head toward the computer, as the pigeons began flying down. “You recognize that place, don’t you?” 

“Yeah, it was my grandparents place, but it was sold long ago.”

“Maybe you should go visit it, don’t have much else going on, do you?”  He reached into another pocket, scattering birdseed.

She laughed, and it almost sounded hysterical. “Someone put some weird app on my camera, this isn’t real.”

“How many people have you seen since you lost your job?” the old man asked as a few pigeons landed on his legs. 

Kari thought back, stepping slowly through the birds so not to hurt them. After she lost her job, no one called, she’d not been invited to any parties, and her laptop rarely left the bag unless she was trying to find work. “None,” she finally answered, reaching the bench.  She glanced over at the old man who now had pigeons on his arms, lap, and head as he fed them seed by hand. She smiled. “They really like you.”

He smiled, showing crooked, tobacco stained, teeth. “It’s not me they like, they like the food. That man, in the screen, though, likes you.”

Kari glanced back at the laptop, and caught her breath. On the screen was still the same scene of the creek behind her grandparents’ house, but a man stood, centered, on wet sand. He looked familiar, but she couldn’t place him. He certainly wasn’t anyone she’d met in the city attending cocktail parties. He wasn’t anyone she’d ever met at book signings, or on the dating site she tried.

She leaned closer to the screen, looking at him. He’s nice looking, she determined, very handsome. She turned away from the screen to tell the old man, but he was gone, in his his place were a dozen pigeons pecking at the bare wood of the bench.

Kari caught her breath, and recognized the black dots dancing in her eyes. She closed the laptop, and shoved it down in the bag. She walked home slowly, still trying to remember the last time she showered, and what the hell was going on with her eyebrows. She stepped into the quiet apartment, turned on the music, and took a long shower, trying to figure what had happened in her day out.

She plucked her eyebrows, tending to stray hairs, and applied make-up for the first time in two months. She checked her bank accounts, and threw some into checking. She packed a small bag, and stepping down into the parking garage she was happy her car cranked on the first turn. It took her an hour to get out of the city, and she had to stop again to fill up, and buy some more crappy coffee.

As she hit the two lane roads leading her to her grandparents place, she rolled down the windows, turning up the music. She didn’t know what she was doing, it had been an odd day, and if she had had some episode, her mind encouraging her to do something crazy, at least she knew she had enough money for a motel room before heading back to her apartment in the city. “At least it’s a night off,” she muttered.

She slowed in the old town, seeing the disrepair, and remembering walking with her grandparents on the wooden sidewalks to do Saturday morning shopping. She stopped at the sign, exhaling long pent up worries. “Whatever,” she said, remembering the pigeon man who disappeared in a blink, leaving his pigeons behind. “I’ll take a chance,” she exhaled again, remembering the computer screen showing the woods she’d grown up in, and the creek.

She pulled on the dirt drive, seeing lights in the house. She hit the brake. Her parents said the house had been knocked down after it had been sold. She lifted her foot, the car moving forward, and she almost wondered if her grandparents would meet her on the porch as they used to every visit. She parked, and pulled her coat out of the backseat, wondering what she was doing, and what she would say when the new owners stepped out after she knocked.

Throwing caution to the wind, she stepped out into the cool wind, looking at the colors in the trees as the sun began setting. She slid her arms in her coat, zipping it against the wind, and looked at the porch, and the lights in the windows.  “What the hell?” she said, walking up the stairs.

As she stepped on the porch the door opened, and the man smiled.

“Wait a minute,” she said, “I do know you. You wrote that manuscript that I loved, but got me fired.”

He smiled. “Adam Moore, at your service.” He was dressed in jeans, and a high collared white shirt covered with a brown leather vest. He bowed at the waist. “Ready to get out of Dodge?” he asked. 

She nodded, shivering against the cold. He was more handsome that his black and white picture on the manuscript, and even more attractive than he looked in the small screen of her laptop.

“Well, come in, and warm up.”

She stepped inside the old familiar house, looking around at old artifacts. “I figured I was crazy coming back to my grandparents house. You own it now?” she accepted a mug of coffee with cream and sugar, and a mug she made when she was eight-years-old at camp.

“Yes, ma’am. I do.”

“This is crazy,” she said, moving closer to the fire and shivering.

“Yes, ma’am. It is.” He settled on the couch watching her beside the fire. “I appreciate you sending my book up the chain, sorry you lost your job for doing it.”

Pulling herself back, and turning from the flames, she said, “It was the best novel I’ve ever read, and I read a lot.” 

“I know,” he said simply, lifting a cup to his mouth and looking into the fireplace.

She didn’t know what to say, so she turned back to the fire, sipping good and sweet coffee. “I tried,” she finally admitted.

He sat up, setting his empty mug on the coffee table. “How many books have you sent up? How many books that were pushed down, and thrown in the trash?”

“The rules have changed,” she began, and sighed. “In the beginning it was grammatical mistakes, and then it was misogyny … your book had none of the things, but got me fired.”

He nodded. “Do you need a new job, Kari?”

“I do, and how did you buy my grandparents house?”

“Can you read the new manuscripts, and send them up, disposing of the trash, and giving us the best ones?”

Kari turned back from the fire to face him. “I can do that.”

“Are you ready to get out of Dodge?” he asked, smiling.

“Yes, sir. I am.”


The phone woke her at 5am, and she struggled to find it under the covers. “Kari, wake up. It’s number one!” 

“What is number one?” she asked stupidly.

“Time To Get Out Of Dodge” is number one! You are part of this, you sent it up, and Adam Moore, the head of the company, is giving you all the credence for getting it done. We have a breakfast to celebrate in a couple hours, get up! Celebrate!” 

Kari crawled out of the bed, looking out the windows, and seeing that although summer was done, autumn hadn’t fully arrived. She showered, tending to her face, applying make-up, and stepping out of the apartment, she walked to the party, looking at the newspapers and drinking mimosas. 

“Good job,” the boss, Adam, said pulling her into a hug.

Kari pulled back, looking at him, and shaking her head slightly, she said, “Feels like a dream.” 

“It probably was, that’s why you’re sending the best novels up. We’re giving you a raise, and a better office.”

Kari pushed her recently cropped hair from her eyes. “I need a couple days to get out of town.”

“Absolutely! When you come back you’ll have a better office, with windows.” He smiled.

“Thanks,” she said. She went home to pack a small bag, and checking her bank she added more to the checking account. She was happy her car cranked on the first try and pulled onto the street. She stopped to fill up the tank, and then stopped for a nice latte with steamed cream and rolled down the windows, turning the music up loud.

She turned onto the small two lane road, remembering her grandparents, and drove through the town. Her car bounced over big holes where the street was no more, just a rutted path. She came to the stop sign, where she usually turned, but the sign was gone.  The trees either leaned down on the road, or fell on the road, and the road was no longer a piece of blacktop, but turning back into the old dirt roads she’d learned to drive on at twelve-years-old.  

She turned, driving slow, and catching her breath as she avoided deep holes. “What the hell? I just met Adam the first time out here, just a few days ago.”  She found her grandparents driveway and turned in. Trees had fallen this way, or that way, and she couldn’t drive in further than twelve feet. She stopped the car and reached into the glovebox to pull out a flashlight.  Reaching into the backseat she pulled out a coat, and stepping out of the car she slid her arms inside, zipping it against the wind. 

She shivered, stepping over the trees with the flashlight.  Finally, she found the old house, or at least the remnants of it. The beam of her flashlight showed her that her parents had told her the truth that the house had been knocked down. She remembered stepping into it just a few days ago. 

She looked at the flashlight, and then up at the sky, the sun, under the clouds, was at noon. She turned off the light.