Monday, July 13, 2009

"Power Included" - BASE of what Little Misty, the book, is about.

I didn’t like to lie, but by the time I was six years old I’d already discovered that it was easier to selectively reduce my family tree rather than trying to explain why I was being raised by my grandmother. When speaking to adults and to my peers, divulging details about the loss of my mother, father, or sister, simply sprouted too many questions. Quite often, it sprouted nothing short of blatant disbelief. One story was bad enough, but when all three were combined it wasn’t uncommon to be accused of making it all up.

To realize that the circumstances of your own life are so horrible that others simply can’t believe its true is an unfortunate revelation to have at such a young age. Despite the personal cost, I soon learned life was much simpler if I kept the majority of those who surrounded me at an arms length.

As if the events had been a morbidly planned agenda, I’d lost my immediate family members in two year spurts. And though it’s portrayed in movies as the most common intro to a first time visit with a psychiatrist; it did, in fact, all start with my mother.

When I was just a year and a half old, my mother, Debra Wilhite, dropped my older sister and I off at our grandmother’s house before proceeding to her job at a local restaurant where she worked as a waitress. At some point during her shift, a scruffy man came in to seek shelter from the stormy night. He told Debra he’d hitched a ride there on a cattle truck and he asked her if she could give him a ride when she got off work. At the end of her shift, she and the man left at the same time, but it’s not known if she had agreed to give him a ride. The man was never identified, and it was unclear if my mother knew him or if he was a stranger to her.

That rainy night was the last time that she, or the car she was driving, was ever seen. She was listed as an endangered missing person in October of 1974, and her case is still open and unsolved. There have been numerous leads over the years, but none have uncovered the truth, or her remains.

Several years later, my grandmother was given some information regarding her daughter’s disappearance. A man had confided in a young girl who happened to be a good friend of one of my aunts. He told her he’d shot Debra, put her body in the trunk of her car, and then shot-gunned the vehicle into a stripper pit that was filled with water. Back then, this stripper pit was somewhat of a hangout for certain individuals and it had been nicknamed “The Duck Pond.” The next day, my grandmother called the detective that was on her daughter’s case and gave him this information. She was told that it would be looked into, but when she didn’t hear anything back she assumed the scenario had been disproved.

Nearly twenty years later, after my husband and I had our first son, Jeffrey, I began writing to all of the local newspapers, news outlets, and even the national talk shows on television. My goal was to get my mother’s story out into the public’s eye in hopes of revealing the truth. The local newspaper did a two page cover story and it turned out the journalist who interviewed me for the story was acquainted with the key detective that had been on my mother’s case so many years before. A meeting was put into place and my husband and my grandmother and I met with him at the Indiana State Police post.

My mother’s case file was opened to me and I was able to sit quietly and read every word in the inch-thick file folder. But, to my surprise, after I’d finished I realized there was no mentioned of “The Duck Pond” anywhere in the entire file. Though the detective denied ever being given any such information, he said they could certainly look into it… now. However, the effort was found to be mute. Sometime later when I heard back from the detective, he told me the pit had been filled in with thirty feet of dirt back in the 1980’s… it was as if someone had given me a swift kick to the gut.

The further details were no better. When the pit was drained of its water contents, the bottom still held about 15 feet of silt, or quicksand-like dirt. If my mother’s car was there, it would not have been visible to the workers on site. If the specifics my grandmother was given were true, they weren’t just filling in a hole, they were unknowingly covering my mother’s grave. The detective then told me an excavation simply wasn’t plausible due to the lack of evidence. When the cost and the labor that the endeavor would entail were combined with this fact, it simply wouldn’t be authorized. Because this information had not been investigated when it was given to the police, we may never know the truth. Like so many other missing person cases, hers has gone cold.

Shortly after our mother’s disappearance, my sister, Amy, was diagnosed with leukemia. “Happiness is helping St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital...” This is a phrase that will forever be burned into my memory. A lot of it has to do with the wonderful services that the hospital provided to Amy and to our family during her treatment there, but it’s significant in regards to our father, Jeff Wilhite, as well. Two years following the loss of our mother, our father was killed in a tragic accident. While driving in a rural area, his car was struck by a train. He, and a good friend of his that was with him, were both killed instantly.

That day, he happened to be wearing a T-shirt that displayed the St. Jude saying on it. Because of the extremely destructive damage that was caused by the collision, he was identified by the shirt that he wore that day.

Like our mother’s disappearance, the occurrence is coiled with numerous questions. The actual cause of the accident is unclear and only assumptions can be made. Some have said my father’s friend was injured and he was racing to beat the train to get him to a hospital as quickly as possible. Though no witnesses came forward, another theory that has been voiced is that a third friend was following my father and the injured companion.

The theory states that my father abruptly stopped at the train crossing, but the friend that was following him was unable to stop in time. The ending result of this scenario would be the third friend unintentionally rear ending the car ahead of him; devastatingly pushing his two friends into the path of the train.

Out of the three losses that I have endured, my father’s is the one that I have actually been more at peace about than the others. I was only three years old when he died, but I have one memory of him that is very vivid and has remained so, even after all of the years that have passed… I was sleeping next to him in his bed when I awoke and was crying. He got up and walked to the dresser to turn the light on. As he turned around to reach for me, I stood up on the bed reaching out for him. At that moment, the bells of the alarm clock on the night stand went off loudly… and that’s where the memory ends. Though it’s a short memory, its validity has been confirmed by my description of the surroundings.

Although it may be difficult for some to comprehend how this one very simple recollection could hold any meaning, it’s something that has brought a great sense of comfort to me. I was reaching out for him, and he was reaching for me... because that is where the memory ends, I see it as him saying to me, “I’m not quite there, but yet, I’m still right here.”

With a void of where our Mom and Dad once were, Amy and I quickly grew to call our grandmother, Lucille, “mom.” She became our legal guardian, yet so much more. She was our world. She raised us as if we were her own, alongside her own two daughters who were still at home.

Despite the fact that my two aunts, Brenda and Carol, are actually the younger sisters of my mother, I’ve always thought of them as my older siblings. And as a child, it was much easier to say “This is my mom and these are my sisters,” rather than trying to explain the family tree that had become distorted.

When I describe my sister, Amy Sue, it sounds as if we had no resemblance at all. She had blue eyes and blonde hair, while I have our father’s dark eyes and dark hair. Sadly, the only memories that I have of Amy include her being sick, and as hard as I may try, I can’t recall any truly good moments between she and I. The leukemia and chemo took her pretty blonde hair; moreover, it took away a relationship between two sisters that I will never know.

Two years after the train accident, I was awakened in the middle of the night by one of my aunts. With me curled up in the back seat in my pink footy pajamas, we drove from Evansville, Indiana to Memphis, Tennessee where we joined Mom and Amy at St. Jude’s. At the time, I didn’t understand why we couldn’t wait until morning to leave. After I was older, I knew it was because they didn’t know if Amy would still be with us at daybreak.

Thirty years later, I’m still not exactly sure how long we were at the hospital. When I was five, it seemed like weeks. In reality, it probably wasn’t more than just a couple of days before that last night. I’d been sleeping in a big yellow chair in the family room when I awoke to find myself alone. When I looked through the observation window that adjoined the room to Amy’s hospital room, I saw Mom, Brenda and Carol standing near the foot of Amy’s bed; a doctor was also in the room. I knew something wasn’t right, but didn’t yet grasp the situation.

I stood looking through the glass, waiting for an acknowledgement from the others that I’d been seen. But, when none came, I decided to make my way down the empty hallway, through the big wooden double doors, past the nurses’ station, and to the doorway of Amy’s room.

When I’d pushed the big red button on the wall that opened the double doors, I quickly remembered my earlier endeavor. Mom seldom left Amy’s side and she’d asked if I would go down to the cafeteria and get her something to drink. While it would entail some winding hallways and taking the elevator several floors down, I’d gotten to know my way around the hospital quite well. Nonetheless, several times during my journey I thought an adult was going to insist I go with them because they thought I was surely lost. My replies to their questions must have been convincing because I did make it all the way back up to the big wooden doors that led back to Amy’s room.

It was then that I realized my dilemma. With two hands free, I could easily balance myself with one hand, stand up on my tip toes, and reach up with my other hand to hit the red button. Only this time, I had a big glass of iced tea in one hand for my mom. I knew I was going to have to ask for help. But, I wasn’t used to voicing my needs or my feelings yet at this time, and so many years after.

If it would have been for me, I would have simply scrapped it and left the drink. But, this was for Mom and I would have done anything for her. When the next adult passed, for the first time in my life, I spoke up. “Excuse me… Could you please open the door for me?” The woman hesitated for a moment. “Are you supposed to be going in there?” she asked. After several minutes of convincing, I was on my way.

That afternoon, I’d felt a great sense of accomplishment as I walked through the doors. As I went past the nurse’s station, I remember thinking I had proven to myself that I could speak up when I needed to... and realized that people actually listened when I did. Overlooking the familiar pity in their eyes, I even mustered some solid "Hello's" to the nurses as I walked by them.

Unlike earlier in the day during my great feat, the light was now dim behind the nurse’s desk. I stood at Amy’s doorway for several moments; observing the surroundings and evaluating the situation before deciding my next move. The doctor was speaking; mom and my two aunts stood quietly and were at a distance from the bed that seemed peculiar to me. Amy appeared to be sleeping, but… nothing seemed right.

When the doctor stopped talking, I saw my opportunity and quickly walked over to Mom. “Is Amy sleeping?” I whispered quietly. Mom just looked down at me and shook her head. She didn’t say a word, but when I felt one of her warm tears drop upon my cheek… I knew. And a great feeling of remorse swept through me. Standing there, hugging Mom’s side tightly, it occurred to me that I had actually been smiling to myself just a moment before while reminiscing of my grand triumph.

Out of guilt, I pushed that brief feeling of confidence so far deep down that I forgot I’d even had a glimpse. For twenty-five years, that confidence had lain dormant until I discovered stand-up comedy and was on a stage in front of three hundred people.

It's a shame that it took so long for me to re-discover my strengths. At a very young age, I’d learned to put on a good face and accept things as they were. But, in the process I’d become shy, quiet, and basically intimidated by the world itself.

It was never about the comedy... it was about the strength I’d found within myself again to speak up. Standing on a stage with nothing but me and the mic, I was confident. And when I was up there, I felt as comfortable as if I were sitting on my living room couch. If I made a few people laugh here and there, to me, it was seriously just a bonus.

Growing up, and even on into adulthood, if I was out with Mom and we saw someone who hadn’t seen me for years, I was usually greeted by a tilt of the head, a look of pity, and something like “Ohhh… little Misty…” But, when I was on stage, that little girl was no more. The stage was my big red button, and this time, I’d opened the big doors all by myself.

My husband, John, and I had managed a comedy club together in our hometown of Evansville, Indiana for about six years before being relocated to a new club in Orlando, Florida. It was there that I decided to try out the other side of the microphone. A small and casual six week comedy class that started out as something fun to do with friends quickly turned into a great passion.

After just two weeks, I was looking for any kind of stage to get onto. Six months later, some other local amateur comics and I were picked to be filmed for a new semi-national comedy show on cable. The night we all gathered to watch ourselves on television at the premier party, I didn’t think it could get any better; but, I was wrong.

After I’d started hosting shows, I decided I wanted to use comedy as a resource to do something good. So, I took it one step further by combining comedy with worthy causes that were close to my heart. “Misty Lynn’s Comedy for the Cause” premiered at the comedy club on August 2, 2006… it would have been Amy’s birthday. The live show that featured great local comics as well as some pro’s, was intermingled with information about the American Cancer Society and 100% of proceeds from the ticket sales were donated to the organization.

During the months that led to that first show, I’d been following a local missing person’s case very closely. Jennifer Kesse had disappeared on January 24th from her condo in Orlando earlier that year. Like my mother, Jennifer had simply vanished. After their daughter had been missing for six months, Jennifer’s parents asked for assistance from the community to find alternative resources to keep the case in the public’s eye.

After weeks of consideration, I emailed the Kesse’s with a proposal for a type of event that had never been done before… a live comedy show with information about a missing person’s case intermingled within it. I envisioned it as something that would both create and sustain awareness, and in a highly positive atmosphere that would bring encouragement.

It was unconventional, but to me it made perfect sense. I was joined to both of these worlds… my own mother was a missing person; and comedy was my life, both on and off stage. But, what would someone else who didn’t have these things in common think of such a notion? I really had no idea what type of response I was to expect.

After speaking to the Kesse’s, “Stand Up for Jennifer Kesse” was held the week after that first show and it was exactly how I’d envisioned it. Nearly 200 people attended, and included the media and news cameras to carry on Jennifer’s case. After the show, I was greeted by a young man who walked over to me; he extended his hand and simply said, “Thank you.”

I’m not exactly sure who he was; maybe a family member or a friend of Jennifer’s. Unable to speak, I stood looking at him like a deer in head lights. I plainly could not bring myself to say “You’re welcome.” To be able to do something for someone else… something that no one had done for my mother… I felt as if I should be thanking everyone, not the other way around.

Over the course of the year, I did more “Comedy for the Cause” shows including more for missing children and adults. I had plans to feature the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida at my next show, but my passion for the stage had abruptly vacated just as quickly as it had emerged. Working in the comedy industry for ten years, and then also doing comedy the last two, I was immersed by both sides of it 24/7 and it simply got to be too overwhelming. My family was suffering because of it… and I was burnt out.

After taking the summer off to spend some overdue time with our two boys, Jeff and Chance, the perfect job seemed to simply fall into my lap. I knew I would love it then, and I still do now. My husband and I still work together, but now at the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. The Coalition once signified the end of my time on stage, but it soon became a beginning – the beginning of the rest of my life.

The label on this new life reads, “Power included - No red button or microphone required.”

Apopka Joe

A man was struck by two vehicles on May 6, 2009 on 441 in Apopka, FL. He had yet to be identified and the hospital said he would not regain consciousness. The second vehicle that struck him did not even stop. He had no ID on him. It was found he was in a CVS store on 441 just shortly before the accident. (he's on the surviellance cameras) He had a CVS card in his pocket and a customer registration form, but it had not been filled out with a name, etc. Two transients who go by the name "Railroad Dave" and "T-Bone" were thought to possibly know his identiy but they hadn't been tracked down to speak to. I visited this "Apopka John Doe" at the hospital with a friend. When I visited, I placed a small angel on the side of his bed. A guardian angel, of sorts, to be with him as no one else was. At the time I wrote this, the hospital would soon gain guardianship over this man if his identity was not found. At that time, his life support will be removed.
The whole thing made me wonder, "Who is this man?"... which inspired the begining
of a story of fiction "Apopka Joe"...


Like most days, he leisurely walked down the aisles as his gaze slowly fell upon the items that were neatly lined up on the shelves of the store. He knew he didn’t have enough money to buy the things that he needed or wanted, but just being in a store with other people sometimes brought on a brief sense of comfort to him.

As he often did, he lingered in the greeting card aisle more than any other… opening and reading the cards, gently running his fingers over the printed words before placing them back into the holder with a gracefulness that may have seemed peculiar to others. With his long and shaggy graying locks, unshaven face, and clothes that had clearly been worn an undetermined amount of time, the general public usually made simple and immediate assumptions about him. To say he was ‘scruffy’ was a slight understatement.

“For no particular reason and with no outcome in mind, I’d like to take a moment to say, “Hey! You are kind! From the heart in my chest, and with no amount of jest, I’d like to take a moment to say, “Yo! You’re the best! ...” He quietly read the words of the card to himself and stood holding it for a moment before sliding it back into the display case. “Hmmm… that’s a bit cheesy,” he whispered under his breath. Even so, it still caused one side of his lip to curl upward. This was why he liked the greeting card aisle… it helped to unleash the memories of what he referred to as his ‘previous life.’ It was the years that he’d spent with Christina that he enjoyed reminiscing, and this card certainly was one that opened that door once again.

Christina had been his wife, and during the years that they’d been together she periodically left sweet and silly notes and cards in random places throughout their home for him to find… in the cap of his deodorant, inside the pages of his books in the study, in the cupboard under his favorite coffee cup.

Though they’d both grown up in the same small town in Nebraska, they didn’t truly know each other until they were both away at college in California. He was in his 3rd year at the University and she had just begun her second year at the School of the Arts when their worlds finally intertwined. It wasn’t surprising that they hadn’t become acquainted during high school. He was a brainiac with his nose always in a book somewhere or behind a wall of self-propelled research projects, while she was busy doing school plays, art shows, and chorus programs. They knew each other’s names, but their personal worlds seldom crossed paths.

It was the park they both frequented in college that had become the merging ground for their divided realms. He liked to sit beneath the large willow tree to study. Sitting beneath the weeping branches provided the solitude that he preferred, yet still allowed him a pleasant view of the lake when he pondered on a particular enigma. An old stone wall that sat between the willow and the lake had become a popular meeting place for the art students. He seldom gave ‘those people’ a second look, believing that their parents were wasting their money on the study of any kind of ‘art.’ At least, he felt that way until Christina entered his world that day. He had seen her around before and had recognized her, but he’d not given her a second thought until that particular Wednesday… the day he’d received that first silly note from his sweet Christina.
“Happy Wednesday,” he heard a quiet voice say. Looking up, he saw Christina crawling under the branches of the tree on her knees. Her long skirt scooted behind her as she held out a blue piece of paper to him. “Heh?” he said, looking up from his book, puzzled why this girl he scarcely knew was approaching him. “Happy Wednesday,” she said again. “I made ‘Happy Wednesday’ cards for everyone that I see all the time… I see you up here under this old tree nearly every day, so, I… I made one for you, too.”

She smiled sweetly at him as he took the folded, hand-painted card from her hand. “Happy Wednesday, huh,” he said as he tapped the card on the pages of his book, not quite knowing what to think of such a thing. Before he knew it, she had plopped down right next to him on the grass, sitting Indian-style as her skirt puffed atop her lap. “I can see why you like it under here,” she said with a giggle. “It’s like your own little room… you can see everything, but I bet people don’t bother you under here do they?” He looked at her strangely, wondering what this girl was doing… why she was here… why she’d sat down next to him… and why she was talking to him. Most other people didn’t talk to him unless he spoke to them first, and he rarely spoke to anyone. The whole scenario was odd… but yet, he liked it. And the fact that he liked it was something that was peculiar to him in itself.

He laid the note next to him on the ground and, for the first time in his life, he closed a book to talk to a girl instead of studying. “Aren’t you even going to read it?” she asked him. “Oh… Yeah. Sorry. So… What is a ‘Happy Wednesday’ card? I mean… Why is this particular Wednesday so happy?” he said as he picked up the card. Looking at it, he was genuinely surprised at the detail that went into the intricate artwork on the outer cover. “You drew this?” he asked. “Yep. I like angels, so there’s usually at least one on everything that I draw,” she replied. Opening it, he saw that each letter of every word she’d written had been done in elaborate calligraphy. “As each day draws near, or draws to a close, give thanks to your guardian angel… or she may fly right up your nose. HAPPY WEDNESDAY!”

The fact that it made absolutely no sense to him made him chuckle out loud. After that day, they met at the old willow tree every afternoon. She introduced all kinds of new things to him and gave him an entirely new view on life and what happiness really was. Before Christina, he’d thought everything should have a specific and defined purpose, and if it didn’t, that it was unworthy of his attention. He’d viewed the world as black and white, with no gray areas in between. But, she showed him that if you opened yourself up enough to truly view the gray areas, it could often reveal the most vibrant of colors. And Christina was one of those extraordinary colors. She brought joy and light into his life that he never even knew existed before. Years later they married, holding the ceremony on the grass right in front of the old willow tree.


“Hi there, Pop!” the clerk behind the counter said to him cheerfully with a smile. He nodded in acknowledgment to the young girl as he slid a single tube of Chap Stick on the counter. “Still can’t find the right greeting card, huh?” she asked. “No Ma’am. Not yet,” he replied as he picked out the few coins left in his pocket and placed them on the counter in front of her.

Though her co-workers usually made snide remarks about this regular, she’d grown accustomed to seeing him come in and buying a small item here and there. She always thought to herself that his gentle and polite demeanor didn’t seem to match his outer shell. She also made assumptions about this man, as others did, but her assumption was that his appearance did not match who he truly was inside. “Did you ever get yourself a CVS card, Pop? You can save on stuff, even little things. It can add up where you get free money to spend in the store. Here…” She said as she handed him the card and customer registration form that went with it.

“You’re very kind,” he said as he took it from her with one hand and grabbed the tube of Chap Stick with the other. “Thank you. You have a good day now, Ma’am. And remember…” The young girl threw up her hand in front of her face and said, “I know, I know… be thankful for my guardian angel or she might fly right up my nose.” Pop smiled at her and shook a finger in the air. “Yes Ma’am.”

As he stepped outside into the heat, he looked down at the CVS card, and at the blanks on the form where you were to write your address and phone number. He wondered what he would write… he had neither. With a shrug, he shoved the card and the paper into his empty pocket and headed back to the street that he called home.

With no particular destination in mind, he walked down the sidewalk of 441 and wondered what T-Bone and Railroad Dave were up to today. Though they were two of the only people who he’d called “friends” these past months, he had no idea what their real names were, and he’d never told them his real name, either. On the street, it didn’t really matter what your real name was.
He’d stumbled upon Railroad Dave’s camp on accident one night after many days and nights of just wondering along the railroad tracks. Stumbling through the gravel and not paying much attention to his surroundings, his senses were awakened the moment he saw the small fire and smelled the aroma of meat cooking.

“T-Bone?!” he heard someone say, startling him. He stopped in his tracks. “T-Bone?” he heard again. He stood still for a moment, taking in the smell of food, realizing just how hungry he was. “Is someone offering me a T-Bone steak?” he thought to himself, confused. “T-Bone… What are you doing?” he heard, as a figure rose from behind the shadows of the fire. “Whoa... Man... This is my camp, keep moving.”

Pop didn’t want any trouble, but his stomach seemed to have control of his feet. “My apologies... I didn’t mean to disturb you, sir. Umm… What do you have cooking there? …a T-bone?” The dark figure had stepped under his make-shift tent and seemed to be randomly collecting things in his arms. “What?” he said with an annoyed tone. “…a T-Bone? No… What you think, this is the Ritz?” Pop took a step back as the figure threw down whatever it was he was collecting. Before he knew it, he was standing eye to eye with the man. “Who the heck are you anyway? I told you… this is my…” As Railroad Dave was about to tell this stranger to get the hell out of his camp, he got a good look at him in the light of the fire. “…ahhh hell... Do you want a hot dog? You can have the one I saved for T-Bone, I guess. He was supposed to be back by now anyhow.”

Without any questions, Pop accepted the hot dog on a stick and scarfed the meat down in just a few seconds. After swallowing, he attempted to say “thank you,” but couldn’t get the words out because his throat was so dry. Railroad Dave leaned over and handed him a gallon jug. He almost tipped it right up to his lips, but then hesitated as he looked at it. It was a milk jug, but was fingerprinted with dirt and dust. Dave gave a chuckle, “I know it doesn’t look so pretty, but it’s clean water. I just filled it up from the spicket down there,” he said as he pointed down the tracks. The water was still ice cold and after his days of walking, it tasted better than any expensive spring water that he’d ever purchased.

After he got his fill of water and handed the jug back to Dave, he was able to speak. “Thank you…. Thanks. I appreciate that,” he said as he took a deep breath. “Boy, do I know that look,” Dave replied. “Where ya comin’ from?” he asked. “A better question than where I came from… Where exactly am I?” Pop asked. “Apopka!” Dave said as he stood up from his spot next to the fire. Pop watched him as he went under the tent and stirred around in what appeared to be a cooler. “Apopka, huh. And Apopka is…” Pop had never heard of any place named Apopka.

How long had he been walking? How many days had passed? How many weeks had passed? Brief visions of cab rides, bus stations, and aimless walking faintly brushed his memories. He briefly questioned his own sanity, until he remembered why his journey had begun. “Florida, man! Apopka. Central Florida! So, what’s your name?” Dave asked, as he came out from under the tent with a pack of hot dogs in his hand. “Oh, I’m just another Joe. Just another Joe in… Apopka,” he mumbled. “Well, nice to meet you Apopka Joe. Hmmm… Apopka Joe? Joe? …Pop… How’s about I just call ya “Pop?” Dave said as he slid three hot dogs on a stick and handed it to his new acquaintance. “Works for me,” Pop said. They sat in silence for a moment, listening to the hot dogs sizzle over the flames.

As Pop gazed into the fire, it reminded him of the fire place in his study. He closed his eyes for a moment and tried to picture his study in his mind… a pile of books on one side of him, a hot cup of coffee… Christina… Christina always brought him his coffee when he was in the study… Pop forced himself to snap back to reality. In one moment, he’d traveled from his study, alone and away from his love, to being seated in the dirt, eating hot dogs next to man who he just met minutes before.

“Listen,” he said as he took one hot dog off the stick and handed the rest to the man next to him. Dave waved his hand in the air, “No, you go ahead. I can tell you need ‘em, man. I’ve had my fill so you’re welcome to the rest a’ those.” Pop nodded. “Thank you. I appreciate it. Listen… thank you for this food and for the water. I know you didn’t have to do that. It’s very kind of you. What is your name?” Pop asked. Dave cackled so loudly that it startled Pop for just a moment. “Ahhhh hell,” Dave said. “Don’t mention it! I do usually rush people off when they come up around here and get up in my business, but to tell you the truth, I was gettin’ a bit lonely. T-Bone’s usually back by now. I guess he’s stayin’ out there somewhere tonight. My name’s Dave. They call me “Railroad Dave”... for obvious reasons, I s’pose.”


It had been raining all week and he hadn’t seen T-Bone and Railroad Dave for several days. “Is it supposed to rain again tonight?” he mumbled to himself. He stepped off the curb to cross the street as he tried to find the news channel on the small radio that he carried with him. He didn’t see the car coming, and the woman driving the car didn’t see him until it was too late.

As the impact of the moving car hit, his body flew up into the windshield of the car; his head breaking through the glass. As the women slammed on the brakes, Pop’s body rolled down the hood. Horrified at what had just taken place, the woman frantically got out of her car to find the man was now lying in the middle of the next lane of moving traffic. She hysterically began waving at the oncoming cars so they would stop, but he was still struck by a second vehicle. To the woman’s dismay, the car kept going and did not even slow down.

Pop only felt the first blow. Before he knew what happened, he found himself back at home, cuddled next to Christina in front of a warm fire on a cold winter evening....
To be Continued...