Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Living Life In Black & White - Volume 1

We were standing there all huddled up in our freezing cold smoke shack {I don’t want to hear it} with icicles hanging off of our noses when one of our coworkers came outside and stood off by himself against the wall, as he had been for the last week at least. I know him pretty good, well to be totally honest with you all; I had gotten him the job here about 2 years ago when his girlfriend asked me to see what I could do. I had been friends with her for a long time, and actually knew her a lot longer that the 5 years that he had been living with her and her 4 children. He’s a good man actually as he had forsaken just about everything in this world to help raise her 4 children, like they were his own, and worked the 6pm to 6am shift for the last two years so that he could be with the kids during the day while she worked and vice versa. It wasn’t easy, but you never heard him complain about it, and you know that in my mind that only gives him brownie points for being a man.

My friend had come to work here about 4 months after he did, and worked the 6am to 6pm shift and the two of them did the “hand off” of the kids for the entire year that she had worked here. She finally ended up quitting because the job was, in the end, no place for her, but he continued on to work the large quantities of overtime necessary to support his chosen “family” until she found a new job working as a DJ for a local entertainment company. She was now working nights, so he made the switch to days, and he sat with “their” kids at night while she went out to work. He’s been doing alright with the new shift, and was doing great at the responsibility of feeding the kids and getting them to bed at night, and again I found myself being rather proud of him actually. Here he stands off about 100 feet away from the rest of us with no shelter, freezing just that much more, and most of the people here don’t even have a clue why he is alienating himself this way. I of course being the only person who actually does on so many different levels can’t even begin to tell you how frightened he must be of me at the moment.

Again, she was always my friend. We had a special bond that had been there through years of friendship, and a year of working closely together, which must make him uncomfortable right now. About a month ago she stopped coming home at night, because she was at gigs that were just too far away, and too late to drive home. He was left to watch the kids that he loved as his own alone most nights of the week, and again I heard absolutely no complaints from him. His 4 years in the Marines taught him how men behave and deal with their feelings, and it wasn’t to walk around displaying them for everyone to see, and a real man stands guard of his post no matter what. She started telling him different stories of where she was and what she was doing, and he did everything he could to believe her {and no this is not what he has said but what I have seen in my own life as well as the pain when I look in his eyes} even though it was getting more difficult at every turn.

Confronting the beast he finally did find out that she wasn’t staying in her car, and he did finally find out that while he was watching the children she was having an affair on him, and he did beg her to stop. For the love of God, I can see this in my own story what he must have gone through, as he was lying to himself when he believed that this could be solved, or cured with something that he just hasn’t figured out yet, and in reality we all learn the hard way sometimes when we trust those that don’t mind hurting someone that they can say “I love you” too and not even have the decency to be honest too. He went home from work a week ago today to find the kids were gone, and he panicked like any real father would. His mind went frantically trying to figure out if she had taken them and left him like he privately feared would happen for many months at this point, and couldn’t find any of them for days, but it was a phone call he received 4 days ago that ripped his heart out and left it for dead as I am sure that he wished the rest of him was. This phone call was not from her, but from her ex-husband who wanted to come over and get the rest of the kids things.

You see she had taken the children that this man had raised for the last 5 years and abandoned them with their biological father, which at the very least made him feel better that they were ok, but devastated when the biological father showed up to tell him that he would never see them again. He didn’t know where she was and he could care less, but that life was no longer to be the concern of any of “HIS” kids again. I know this because I was friends with him before I was friends with her that leaves me to this point with my co-worker who is a shell of what he was just a few short months ago. As he stands over there alone with ice hitting him as it falls from the sky. I had heard it through the grapevine of the old playmates that I had abandoned on the old playgrounds {because let’s get real here I wouldn’t want to be associated with people like this anymore} that she had hooked up with someone a lot older, and a lot wealthier who would make her his little princess, and she was willing to abandon her old kingdom for that. I can’t even begin to tell you the shame that I felt for knowing a person like that {that I didn’t marry anyway} and enough was enough.

I walked over to him as he looked at me with a glint of fear in his eyes {which is nothing you ever want to see in a Marine} but I walked over as uncomfortable as it was for both of us all the same. I leaned up on the Jersey barrier next to him and while staring at the ground I said, “What happened is not your fault, and you don’t deserve to be torturing yourself through all of this. You’re a good person, and in the end the person you have to take care of is you, so I don’t want to see you isolating like this all the time,” which I then looked at him and he was crying, which made my heart fall out into the ice under me. “Look, I’ll talk to Chris, he won’t keep the kids away from you, he probably got fed a line of shit, I know how that stuff goes, he really isn’t that bad of a guy,”

“I hate myself because I don’t want to see the kids,” he choked out while staring at the ground, “When she finally called me yesterday she said that she found a guy that can take care of her and she’s not living with a loser like me anymore,” his voice was just going now, and I remember hearing this when my ex wife left me. I also know that there is nothing you can say to someone who is feeling this type of betrayal and loss at the same time. The only thing that made this better and worse at the same time was the trail of other guys that made their way over because they were genuinely concerned, and with that we all had stories of one sort or another to share, until King George came out looking for us. When he found us and saw him in the way he was, he put his huge arm around him and walked him up to the office for one of those “Leave it to Beaver” style chats that King George is famous for. Trust me, the guy was born on another planet and dropped in the middle of Pennsylvania with 50’s sitcom memories of being born on Earth after all.

I didn’t talk to him the rest of the day because he was busy working, and so was I, but I did make it a point to walk over and remind him that life to me is a little more black and white than most. I know who deserves my ear and who doesn’t and I understand where he is and how he feels, and I am willing to listen whenever he is willing to talk. He did look me strait in the eyes and say “Thank you, I appreciate that,” ;8o)

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Nothing that was printed here was intended to offend anyone, and if it did, screw ya, you begged for it. If you believe that there are some measures that can be taken to change me, then please feel free to pray for me, and while you are at it yourself, because you read this far, and if you hated every minute of it, then you are an idiot, not me, or the other people who like what I have to say! .. Jeremy

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