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crAZRick
Posts: 489
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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crAZRick, My Story-- Writing Exercise

[ Edited ]
OK, I infused another angle into this, the opening chapter of the Rick-and-Katrina tale; infusing some form of song-story into the mix... it's not quite right, there is probably a better song more fitting the nightmare that this tale is destined to become, but this one is current and popular at the time of this writing, and also becomes the Title of the tale in general...

Enjoy!

Wasted

Standin' at the back door
she tried to make it fast
One tear hit the hardwood
It fell like broken glass
She said, "Sometimes love slips away
and you just can't get it back.
Let's face it."

For one split second
she almost turned around,
But that would be like pourin' raindrops
back into a cloud
So she took another step, and said
"I see the way out,
and I'm gonna take it."

I don't wanna spend my life jaded
Waitin'
To wake up one day and find
that I let all these years go by

Wasted…


She woke early, was showered, dressed and had her small ratty suitcase packed before the sun had even peeked over the desert horizon. After gliding a large plastic hair-clip-comb through her hair, cinching the lush brown length up off her shoulders, she switched off the tiny transistor radio with a dissatisfied scowl; she had never been into country music, hadn’t seen a single episode of ‘American Idol’ so didn’t know or care who Carrie Underwood was as she belted out those powerful lyrics. She had no time for music or TV in her life over the past 15 years; she was too heavily involved in her life, her little clique at the small high school in suburban Phoenix, Arizona. Alcohol, drugs, and leather-clad bad-boys were her scene; if there was music or TV to be had back in those days, it was heavy metal or acid-trippy 80’s rock’n’roll, rarely pop and never country. They didn’t usually allow personal radios in the half-way house, except on transition day, which is what made that day, her re-birth day, so special for her. That would be the day she finally found freedom; the day she would start to become reacquainted with her 5-year old daughter, whom she had barely seen over the past 18 months; the day she would start to live again.

“Are We all set, Katrina?” a squat and stocky Mexican woman wondered as she wandered unannounced into Katrina’s cramped sleeping quarters.

“I don’t know about We, but I’m glad I don’t have to worry about invasion of privacy any more, after today…” Katrina snapped, glancing around the dimly-lit space with a heavy sigh. “Let’s go, Warden…” her scowl did nothing to impress the woman who had come to fetch her, and the short, round woman stood-fast in the doorway, staring Katrina down coldly.

Rita knew Katrina perhaps better than anyone, having been the probation officer in charge of her case since her arrest nearly 3 years earlier. Although she would never call her a friend, Katrina had shared a great many of her life stories with Rita over the years, until a bond and a certain level of trust had developed. If not for Rita’s help, Katrina might have spent the last 3 years locked up in an 8-by-8 concrete cell, or baking in pink pajamas in the desert-dwellings of ‘Tent City’ as a ward of the Maricopa County Correctional Facility rather than where she had ended up. Katrina owed Rita some respect, and Rita demanded every bit of it.

Finally, Katrina wavered and glanced away, scolded-sadness sweeping over her. “I’m Sorry, Rita. It’s just…”

Rita nodded slowly, reaching out with her hand. “Your mother and daughter are waiting…” Rita reminded, which brought a smile and spark of life to Katrina’s face as she collected her suitcase and led Rita out of her quaint and comforatable 'holding cell' for the last time.

“Kaleigh is here?” Katrina asked. “And—“
“Mommy!!” the gleeful cheer of a precocious little girl thundered down the plastered-and-paneled wall, as the 5-year old bounded into her mother’s arms. A long moment filled with hearty hugs and many heaping kisses and cuddles was finally broken up once Rita had greeted Lynn Mills, Katrina’s mother, and both elders agreed upon the exit strategy.

“Let’s get your paperwork in order, and go for lunch…” Rita suggested, but it sounded more like a demand.

“I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, Rita. Really I do…” Katrina coerced. “But, can’t we do this some other time? It’s my first day Free, and I haven’t seen my baby-girl in Forever! Please, Mom?” she glanced between Rita and Lynn, her bottom lip protruding and aquiver.

“Please, Gramma?” Kaleigh copied her mother’s pout perfectly.

“We have to do this, Trina…” Lynn lamented. “Rita has found you a job…” Rita nodded again.
“It’s not much, but it’s in your field of experience, a restaurant across town…it’s a start…”

It was a start, a brand new life!

Oh, I don't wanna keep on wishin'
Missin'
The still of the morning
the color of the night
I ain't spendin' no more time
Wasted


**************************************************************************************

Another glass of whiskey
but it still don't kill the pain
so he stumbles to the sink
and pours it down the drain

He said "it's time to be a man
and stop livin' for yesterday
Gotta face it..."

Cuz I don't wanna spend my life jaded
waitin'
To wake up one day and find
that I let all these years go by
Wasted


Across town, blankets and sheets stir, a man’s arm lunged forth, swatting the bedside alarm clock, squelching the bleating tone in favor of subdued country-music radio station. An empty Jack Daniels bottle toppled from the nightstand, landing on the carpet with a heady thud, while the man kicked out from under the covers.

“Happy Anniversary, Angel…” he mumbled at a picture behind the clock-radio on the nightstand, a picture of the man himself in white tuxedo and a beautiful bronze-skinned young woman dressed head-to-toe in white lace-and-satin, though the man sat, naked and alone, in the King-size bed. Eventually, the man staggered from the bed, stumbling sluggishly into the bathroom, leaning toward the bathtub, twisting the shower-faucet wide-open while still managing to keep hips straight, knees flexed just the right way to pee in the toilet; this guy had done this before. He stepped beneath the powerfully-coursing pulse of water trembling but leaned back out and flushed the toilet, yelping loudly as the water temperature rose and plunged drastically for 4 seconds, finally jarring him fully-awake.

His morning cleansing ritual complete, the man shuffled from the bathroom 20 minutes later, hair and torso wringing wet, towel wrapped around his waist. He collapsed across the bed for another half-hour before the ringing phone roused him once more.

“Rick! Wake Up! You’re late for work!!” the caller greeted.
“I’m on my way…” Rick replied, slamming down the phone, shucking off the towel, and tugging on a pair of blue poker-print boxer shorts (Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades) and navy-blue polyester pants.

He was still buttoning up his uniform shirt, running a hand through his hair as he bounded into the restaurant which bore the name embroidered above the left-breast pocket of the shirt. “Welcome to Wowwy-Burger, Boss-Man!” an employee greeted from behind a desk in the restaurant’s small office as Rick entered.

“Sorry I’m late, Tori.” Rick apologized. “Anniversary blues…”

Tori merely nodded, then turned her attention to the computer screen on the desk in front of her. “Welcome back off the Graveyard Shift! For your first assignment back in the Land of the Living, we’ve got another new-hire from the Challenges Transitional House coming in today…”

“Great…” Rick moaned as he tried to clip his tie-pin in place. “Another crackhead loser who’ll spend equal time in the bathroom and on smoke-break, getting paid to hold up a wall but not be bothered to push a broom or deal with customers… I bet you $1000 he’ll be six-foot-two biceps as big as my neck and have the Dead Man’s stare, so he’ll get away with murder around here…”

“His name is Katrina Mills…” Tori continued, seemingly barely aware of Rick’s rambling appraisal, until she turned and snapped his Ace-King-of-Hearts tie-clip in place on his shirt, demanding. “I’ll take that $1000 in small, non-sequential bills, if you don’t mind…”

Rick laughed, while Tori looked up at him straight-faced and serious.

“I was kidding, about the bet…” Rick smirked. “I play poker, remember... I don’t ‘gamble’… I bet—I mean I’m sure she will be a fine addition to the crew. Can I please check my e-mail before my shift? Don’t you have a store to run, Boss-Lady?” Terri checked her watch and stood up from the chair.

“Five minutes, Ace…” Terri proffered, sliding past Rick into the restaurant kitchen, while Rick took her seat behind the computer desk.

“Uh, it’s Ace-King…” Rick explained, “Big-Slick… learn the lingo…”

After a few moments, the screen was scrolling with e-mail listings. Rick scanned and skimmed the list, highlighting and Deleting a vast majority of junk-mail, before coming across a header that interested him: “Ulti-Mate.com Response From: Kaleighco-Kat-Lover”

Clicking on that header brought Rick to the Ulti-Mate Internet Match-Dating website, to the profile of someone claiming to be female.

“Kaleighco-Kat-Lover: SWF, 26, seeking M as roommate, friend, confidante, co-conspirator LOL! Possibly more. Must love children, as I have a 7-year old at home who means everything to me. Must be patient, understanding, trustworthy, and discreet. Must know how to have a good time, but also know when the party is over and it’s time to call it a night. Must be able to hold up your end of a conversation, but also know when to shut up and be quiet and leave time and space for me to figure things out for myself. Strong sense of passion and loyalty also necessary; I am a Scorpio, beware my sting!”

Being open-minded and quite naïve about such things, Rick had been corresponding with this Kaleighco-Kat-Lover for a few months. And, regardless of the fact that she didn't know how to spell 'calico' even as she subconsciously-but-obviously professed a certain love for the breed, on this day, Rick would take the next step. After the usual pleasantries and rehashing previous correspondence, he came to a part in Kaleighco-Kat-Lover’s letter that made him smile:

“Finally, freedom! In less than a week, I’ll be moving into Transition phase, which means more time to do the things I want to do, less restrictions, fewer inhibitions… I should be getting back to work again, finally able to take care of myself and my child without having to rely on the State or anyone else for a hand-out! Not to mention what this will mean for my social standings! Any room free on your dance card, Big-Slick-Rick?”

Chuckling, Rick typed in what he hoped was a reasonable request given the length of time spent getting to know this ‘Kaleighco-Kat-Lover’ person through her letters.

“I feel like it’s time to take the next step in our relationship, so forgive me if this is too forward, too soon, but here goes nothing: Since you don’t have a photo of yourself to go along with your profile, so I can’t see your face: Do you have a phone number I could reach you at? I would love to hear your voice, to know that you sound as sweet and sincere, sensitive and subdued as your e-mails read. I would really like to meet you some day soon too, if that doesn’t sound too psychotic after such a short time spent e-mailing each other… But, the thing is, I still don’t even know your name…”

Tori popped her head around the corner and reminded Rick his 5 minutes were up, it was time to start serving the breakfast crowd. Rick quickly dispatched the e-mail response and logged-out from the Ulti-Mate website, to begin his work-day.

Oh, I don't wanna keep on wishin'
Missin'
The still of the morning
the color of the night
I ain't spendin' no more time
Wasted


**************************************************************************************

“OK, that should about wrap up the dread paperwork!” Gayle Truman smiled that fake-forced bureaucratic smile from behind her over-sized desk in her over-sized office smack in the middle of the run-down half-way house called Challenges. “For the next 8 to 12 weeks, you will begin the Transistional phase of your recovery, Katrina. You will be monitored by your probation officer and your parental guardian, who will be in constant contact with myself and the Challenges staff in regards to your progress acclimating yourself to life outside these walls again…”

Katrina was only barely listening, as she bounced her daughter on her knee there in Gayle’s office. Her head was swimming, thoughts swirling about finding a place to live on her own, the new job, Kaleigh’s schooling…

“Do you have any concerns or questions before I release you?” Gayle asked, still behind that phony smile. Question? Concerns? You mean like: Would Katrina be able to support herself and her child, to survive and thrive in the real-world, without the demons, drugs and thugs that had dragged her into the depths of Hell before? How could she make it through this transition on her own? Was she really as strong and ready for all of this as Gayle, Rita and her mother had been praising and appraising?

“Would it be alright if I… could I check my e-mail before I leave? I don’t know if or when I’ll have internet access again, and there are a few friends I’d like to say Goodbye to, if that’s alright?” all of her concerns and questions could be answered, she hoped, if but one response was found waiting in her In-Box.

**************************************************************************************

She kept drivin' along
till the moon and the sun were
floatin' side-by-side


Katrina was tense, her nervousness building as the odometer on her mom’s car ticked higher, ever closer to the restaurant she would be calling her place-of-employment for at least the next 8 to 12 weeks during her transition from drug-dealing ex-con to recovering-addict single-mother.

**************************************************************************************

He looked in the mirror
and his eyes were clear for the first time
in awhile...


Rick was in the restroom, splashing cool water on his face in transition himself, from the Breakfast to Lunch crowd, from lovelorn widower to sober survivor. “It’s time…” he thought to himself, knowing it was well past time to start living again. When he emerged from the restroom, Tori was waiting for Rick at the front counter, a sweet and petite, skiddish and stand-offish young woman at her side, with a precocious little moppet of her own clinging to her hip.

“Rick, this is Katrina Mills, on lease from Challenges...” Tori introduced, and the pair shared a welcoming grin and nod. “You’ll be doing her paperwork so we can get her started training before lunch.”

“And, who might this be?” Rick wondered, kneeling to smirk directly at Katrina’s little sidekick. “Our new dishwasher, I bet?!” The girl giggled and danced behind Katrina, out of Rick’s line-of-sight, while the adults laughed.

“Not for about 10 years at least…” Katrina smiled, stepping aside and holding her daughter’s hand as she made the introductions. “This is my daughter, Kaleigh…” Kaleigh flushed from the attention, and did a cute little curtsey, giggling gleefully along with the grown-ups as she shuffled toward Rick. “Kaleigh hunny, say Hi to my boss baby-girl…”

“Big-Slick...” Kaleigh noted, pointing at Rick’s chest as she danced about.

“The girl knows her poker!” Rick said, standing and fluffing his tie a bit while it held fast in place against the A-K tie-clip. “I like a girl who knows how to take a calculated risk…” he concluded as he gathered the file folder of paperwork from Tori.

The lobby Musak-music was droning in the background as Katrina kissed her daughter and sent Mom and Kaleigh away, while Rick escorted Katrina and Rita to a corner booth, and Tori returned to the kitchen to corral her crew for the Breakfast-to-Lunch transition with little time wasted…

Oh, I don't wanna spend my life jaded
Waitin'
To wake up one day and find
that I let all these years go by
Wasted

Yeah, yeah

Oh, I don't wanna keep on wishin'
Missin'
The still of the morning
the color of the night
I ain't spendin' no more time
Wasted



as to the questions raised in the instructions for the exercise:

While writing your story, did you find there were too many elements to juggle all at once?

No, I didn't have much trouble juggling the elements and aspects of this opening chapter, as I have been crafting the characters and subtext and storyline in bits and pieces over the course of these exercises, so bringing them all back to some tangible 'Square 1' beginning stage came together quite easily, for me (your mileage may vary, of course!)


What part of writing the story was easiest for you?
Fleshing out the details, using composites from real-life situations I have endured, fictionalizing it to keep you Readers from getting bored and to keep myself from stabbing myself in the eye with a plastic spork having to relive the exact excruciating details, was easiest part.


What part was the most difficult?
Trying to come up with a 'Happy Ending' will be most difficult, I imagine...
So far though, I suppose revisiting the reality to sift thru and glean the juiciest bits for fictionalized exploitation, probably most difficult, though even that wasn't so bad as one might expect it to be. Oh, the joys of being a Creative Mind, able to so-completely disassociate one's self from reality, simply to entertain others!


Are you inclined to keep working on this story?
I believe it's possible to keep plugging away at this story. Probably like Jayna_D, it may depend on what my 3 'fans' want... I'm sure there's more to tell, as I haven't quite reached that 'Happy Ending' yet.

We'll see. Though, this exercise and this question make it seem as though this little club is about to Reset back to the Beginning itself, so...

Message Edited by crAZRick on 05-19-200702:12 PM

I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
Frequent Contributor
Celestial_Skies
Posts: 35
Registered: ‎04-22-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Writing Exercise

I liked your story...very drawing.

Keep up the great work
Frequent Contributor
crAZRick
Posts: 489
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Writing Exercise

thanks for the feedback Celestial_Skies!

ya, I think this Beginning Chapter came together pretty good, given all the build-up from the other exercises which tell other parts of the story... maybe I'll tie it all together in this thread, eventually? That way all y'all don't have to hunt for the exercises and put them in order...


hmmm...

thanks

:smileyhappy:
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
Frequent Contributor
crAZRick
Posts: 489
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

OK, I made a few alterations and adjustments, put everything in order, and tried to tie it all together with a cute little bow, and this is what I came up with. A short story, 7 chapters, 22 pages, I call it Hurricane Katrina


Hurricane Katrina

Chapter 1: Transistional Patterns

Standin' at the back door
she tried to make it fast
One tear hit the hardwood
It fell like broken glass
She said, "Sometimes love slips away
and you just can't get it back.
Let's face it."

For one split second
she almost turned around,
But that would be like pourin' raindrops
back into a cloud
So she took another step, and said
"I see the way out,
and I'm gonna take it."

I don't wanna spend my life jaded
Waitin'
To wake up one day and find
that I let all these years go by

Wasted…


She woke early, was showered, dressed and had her small ratty suitcase packed before the sun had even peeked over the desert horizon. After gliding a large plastic hair-clip-comb through her hair, cinching the lush brown length up off her shoulders, she switched off the tiny transistor radio with a dissatisfied scowl; she had never been into country music, hadn’t seen a single episode of ‘American Idol’ so didn’t know or care who Carrie Underwood was as she belted out those powerful lyrics. She had no time for music or TV in her life over the past 15 years; she was too heavily involved in her life, her little clique at the small high school in suburban Phoenix, Arizona. Alcohol, drugs, and leather-clad bad-boys were her scene; if there was music or TV to be had back in those days, it was heavy metal or acid-trippy 80’s rock’n’roll, rarely pop and never country. They didn’t usually allow personal radios in the half-way house, except on transition day, which is what made that day, her re-birth day, so special for her. That would be the day she finally found freedom; the day she would start to become reacquainted with her 5-year old daughter, whom she had barely seen over the past 18 months; the day she would start to live again.

“Are We all set, Katrina?” a squat and stocky Mexican woman wondered as she wandered unannounced into Katrina’s cramped sleeping quarters.

“I don’t know about We, but I’m glad I don’t have to worry about invasion of privacy any more, after today…” Katrina snapped, glancing around the dimly-lit space with a heavy sigh. “Let’s go, Warden…” her scowl did nothing to impress the woman who had come to fetch her, and the short, round woman stood-fast in the doorway, staring Katrina down coldly.

Rita knew Katrina perhaps better than anyone, having been the probation officer in charge of her case since her arrest nearly 3 years earlier. Although she would never call her a friend, Katrina had shared a great many of her life stories with Rita over the years, until a bond and a certain level of trust had developed. If not for Rita’s help, Katrina might have spent the last 3 years locked up in an 8-by-8 concrete cell, or baking in pink pajamas in the desert-dwellings of ‘Tent City’ as a ward of the Maricopa County Correctional Facility rather than where she had ended up. Katrina owed Rita some respect, and Rita demanded every bit of it.

Finally, Katrina wavered and glanced away, scolded-sadness sweeping over her. “I’m Sorry, Rita. It’s just…”

Rita nodded slowly, reaching out with her hand. “Your mother and daughter are waiting…” Rita reminded, which brought a smile and spark of life to Katrina’s face as she collected her suitcase and led Rita out of her quaint and comfortable 'holding cell' for the last time.

“Kaleigh is here?” Katrina asked. “And—“
“Mommy!!” the gleeful cheer of a precocious little girl thundered down the plastered-and-paneled wall, as the 5-year old bounded into her mother’s arms. A long moment filled with hearty hugs and many heaping kisses and cuddles was finally broken up once Rita had greeted Lynn Mills, Katrina’s mother, and both elders agreed upon the exit strategy.

“Let’s get your paperwork in order, and go for lunch…” Rita suggested, but it sounded more like a demand.

“I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, Rita. Really I do…” Katrina coerced. “But, can’t we do this some other time? It’s my first day Free, and I haven’t seen my baby-girl in Forever! Please, Mom?” she glanced between Rita and Lynn, her bottom lip protruding and aquiver.

“Please, Gramma?” Kaleigh copied her mother’s pout perfectly.

“We have to do this, Trina…” Lynn lamented. “Rita has found you a job…” Rita nodded again.
“It’s not much, but it’s in your field of experience, a restaurant across town…it’s a start…”

It was a start, a brand new life!

Oh, I don't wanna keep on wishin'
Missin'
The still of the morning
the color of the night
I ain't spendin' no more time
Wasted

*******************************************************************

Another glass of whiskey
but it still don't kill the pain
so he stumbles to the sink
and pours it down the drain

He said "it's time to be a man
and stop livin' for yesterday
Gotta face it..."

Cuz I don't wanna spend my life jaded
waitin'
To wake up one day and find
that I let all these years go by
Wasted...


Across town, blankets and sheets stir, a man’s arm lunged forth, swatting the bedside alarm clock, squelching the bleating tone in favor of subdued country-music radio station. An empty Jack Daniels bottle toppled from the nightstand, landing on the carpet with a heady thud, while the man kicked out from under the covers.

“Happy Anniversary, Angel…” he mumbled at a picture behind the clock-radio on the nightstand, a picture of the man himself in white tuxedo and a beautiful bronze-skinned young woman dressed head-to-toe in white lace-and-satin, though the man sat, naked and alone, in the King-size bed. Eventually, the man staggered from the bed, bracing himself for a moment against a sturdy wooden computer desk against the wall near the bed. He found himself staring at the active computer screen, an image frozen in place in the center of the screen; a computer-generated golden trophy, stenciled with a fancy font which declared ‘BigSlickRick—1st Place, $1000 Guarantee Main Event.’ He found his balance in that moment, righting himself from the desk, smiling whimsically and stumbling sluggishly into the bathroom. He leaned toward the bathtub, twisting the shower-faucet wide-open while still managing to keep hips straight, knees flexed just the right way to pee in the toilet; this guy had done this before. He then stepped beneath the powerfully-coursing pulse of water, shivering, but leaned back out and flushed the toilet, yelping loudly as the water temperature rose and plunged drastically for 4 seconds, finally jarring him fully-awake.

His morning cleansing ritual complete, the man shuffled from the bathroom 20 minutes later, hair and torso wringing wet, towel wrapped around his waist. He collapsed across the bed for another half-hour before the ringing phone roused him once more.

“Rick! Wake Up! You’re late for work!!” the caller greeted.
“I’m on my way…” Rick replied, slamming down the phone, shucking off the towel, and tugging on a pair of blue poker-print boxer shorts (Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades) and navy-blue polyester pants.

He was still buttoning up his uniform shirt, running a hand through his hair as he bounded into the restaurant which bore the name embroidered above the left-breast pocket of the shirt. “Welcome to Wowwy-Burger, Boss-Man!” an employee greeted from behind a desk in the restaurant’s small office as Rick entered.

“Sorry I’m late, Tori.” Rick apologized. “Anniversary blues…”

Tori merely nodded, then turned her attention to the computer screen on the desk in front of her. “Welcome back off the Graveyard Shift! For your first assignment back in the Land of the Living, we’ve got another new-hire from the Challenges Transitional House coming in today…”

“Great…” Rick moaned as he tried to clip his tie-pin in place. “Another crackhead loser who’ll spend equal time in the bathroom and on smoke-break, getting paid to hold up a wall but not be bothered to push a broom or deal with customers… I bet you $1000 he’ll be six-foot-two biceps as big as my neck and have the Dead Man’s stare, so he’ll get away with murder around here…”

“His name is Katrina Mills…” Tori continued, seemingly barely aware of Rick’s rambling appraisal, until she turned and snapped his Ace-King-of-Hearts tie-clip in place on his shirt, demanding. “I’ll take that $1000 in small, non-sequential bills, if you don’t mind…”

Rick laughed, while Tori looked up at him straight-faced and serious.

“I was kidding, about the bet…” Rick smirked. “I play poker, I don’t ‘gamble’… I bet—I mean, I’m sure—she will be a fine addition to the crew. Now, can I please check my e-mail before my shift? Don’t you have a store to run, Boss-Lady?” Terri checked her watch and stood up from the chair, nodding at Rick.

“Five minutes, Ace…” Terri proffered, sliding past Rick into the restaurant kitchen, while Rick took her seat behind the computer.

“Uh, it’s Ace-King…” Rick explained, “Big-Slick… learn the lingo…”

After a few moments, the screen was scrolling with e-mail listings. Rick scanned and skimmed the list, highlighting and Deleting a vast majority of junk-mail, before coming across a header that interested him: “Ulti-Mate.com Response From: Kaleighco-Kat-Lover”

Clicking on that header brought Rick to the Ulti-Mate Internet Match-Dating website, to the profile of someone claiming to be female.

“Kaleighco-Kat-Lover: SWF, 26, seeking M as roommate, friend, confidante, co-conspirator LOL! Possibly more. Must love children, as I have a 7-year old at home who means everything to me. Must be patient, understanding, trustworthy, and discreet. Must know how to have a good time, but also know when the party is over and it’s time to call it a night. Must be able to hold up your end of a conversation, but also know when to shut up and be quiet and leave time and space for me to figure things out for myself. Strong sense of passion and loyalty also necessary; I am a Scorpio, beware my sting!”

Being open-minded and quite naïve about such things, Rick had been corresponding with this Kaleighco-Kat-Lover for a few months. And, regardless of the fact that she didn't know how to spell 'calico' even as she subconsciously-but-obviously professed a certain love for the breed, on this day, Rick would take the next step. After the usual pleasantries and rehashing previous correspondence, he came to a part in Kaleighco-Kat-Lover’s letter that made him smile:

“Finally, freedom! In less than a week, I’ll be moving into Transition phase, which means more time to do the things I want to do, less restrictions, fewer inhibitions… I should be getting back to work again, finally able to take care of myself and my child without having to rely on the State or anyone else for a hand-out! Not to mention what this will mean for my social standings! Any room free on your dance card, Big-Slick-Rick?”

Chuckling, Rick typed in what he hoped was a reasonable request given the length of time spent getting to know this ‘Kaleighco-Kat-Lover’ person through her letters.

“I feel like it’s time to take the next step in our relationship, so forgive me if this is too forward, too soon, but here goes nothing: Since you don’t have a photo of yourself to go along with your profile, so I can’t see your face: Do you have a phone number I could reach you at? I would love to hear your voice, to know that you sound as sweet and sincere, sensitive and subdued as your e-mails read. I would really like to meet you some day soon too, if that doesn’t sound too psychotic after such a short time spent e-mailing each other… But, the thing is, I still don’t even know your name…”

Tori popped her head around the corner and reminded Rick his 5 minutes were up, it was time to start serving the breakfast crowd. Rick quickly dispatched the e-mail response and logged-out from the Ulti-Mate website, to begin his work-day.

Oh, I don't wanna keep on wishin'
Missin'
The still of the morning
the color of the night
I ain't spendin' no more time
Wasted...


*******************************************************************

“OK, that should about wrap up the dread paperwork!” Gayle Truman smiled that fake-forced bureaucratic smile from behind her over-sized desk in her over-sized office smack in the middle of the run-down half-way house called Challenges. “For the next 8 to 12 weeks, you will begin the Transistional phase of your recovery, Katrina. You will be monitored by your probation officer and your parental guardian, who will be in constant contact with myself and the Challenges staff in regards to your progress acclimating yourself to life outside these walls again…”

Katrina was only barely listening, as she bounced her daughter on her knee there in Gayle’s office. Her head was swimming, thoughts swirling about finding a place to live on her own, the new job, Kaleigh’s schooling…

“Do you have any concerns or questions before I release you?” Gayle asked, still behind that phony smile. Question? Concerns? You mean like: Would Katrina be able to support herself and her child, to survive and thrive in the real-world, without the demons, drugs and thugs that had dragged her into the depths of Hell before? How could she make it through this transition on her own? Was she really as strong and ready for all of this as Gayle, Rita and her mother had been praising and appraising?

“Would it be alright if I… could I check my e-mail before I leave? I don’t know if or when I’ll have internet access again, and there are a few friends I’d like to say Goodbye to, if that’s alright?” all of her concerns and questions could be answered, she hoped, if but one response was found waiting in her In-Box.

*******************************************************************

She kept drivin' along
till the moon and the sun were
floatin' side-by-side...


Katrina was tense, her nervousness building as the odometer on her mom’s car ticked higher, ever closer to the restaurant she would be calling her place-of-employment for at least the next 8 to 12 weeks during her transition from drug-dealing ex-con to recovering-addict single-mother.

*******************************************************************

He looked in the mirror
and his eyes were clear for the first time
in awhile...


Rick was in the restroom, splashing cool water on his face in transition himself, from the Breakfast to Lunch crowd, from lovelorn widower to sober survivor. “It’s time…” he thought to himself, knowing it was well past time to start living again. When he emerged from the restroom, Tori was waiting for Rick at the front counter, a sweet and petite, skiddish and stand-offish young woman at her side, with a precocious little moppet of her own clinging to her hip.

“Rick, this is Katrina Mills, on lease from Challenges...” Tori introduced, and the pair shared a welcoming grin and nod. “You’ll be doing her paperwork so we can get her started training before lunch.”

“And, who might this be?” Rick wondered, kneeling to smirk directly at Katrina’s little sidekick. “Our new dishwasher, I bet?!” The girl giggled and danced behind Katrina, out of Rick’s line-of-sight, while the adults laughed.

“Not for about 10 years at least…” Katrina smiled, stepping aside and holding her daughter’s hand as she made the introductions. “This is my daughter.” Kaleigh flushed from the attention, and did a cute little curtsey, giggling gleefully along with the grown-ups as she shuffled toward Rick. “Kaleigh, honey, say Hi to mommy’s new boss, baby-girl…”

“Big-Slick...” Kaleigh noted, pointing at Rick’s chest as she danced about.

“The girl knows her poker!” Rick said, standing and fluffing his tie a bit while it held fast in place against the A-K tie-clip. Katrina nodded slightly and shrugged.

“I think she watches a little too much TV at her Auntie Brenda’s. Uncle Steve is really into ESPN, football and poker, 24 hours a day, isn’t he, Kaleighco…” Kaleigh meowed and made a purring sound with her tongue-in-cheek rubbing her head against her mother’s legs as she danced around Katrina on the floor.

“What did you just say?” Rick wondered, suddenly startled and very self-conscious.

“ESPN poker. Kaleigh watches a lot of poker at my sister’s place…” Katrina repeated herself.

“Her name is Kaleigh.” Rick repeated the phrase he was struck by. “You called her Kaleighco… and, you’re Katrina…” Katrina nodded, while Rick nervously tapped and tugged at his tie clip. “I’m Rick…”

“Big Slick!!” Kaleigh cheered again.

“Big Slick Rick…” the light bulb in Katrina’s brain suddenly flickered with life, even as her cheeks flushed red. “Are you serious? Is this some kind of joke? Ulti-Mate.com…”
Rick was blushing as much as Katrina in that magical moment of uncomfortable-comfort.
“I don’t believe it!” she gasped. “I almost didn’t come here this morning! I dreaded starting over, coming back here after working here and getting high here for years… And, now…”

“I like a girl who knows when to take a calculated risk…” Rick comforted as he gathered the file folder of paperwork from Tori, and extended his other hand to Katrina, his lifeline, her rock, though neither of them knew at the time how very much they needed each other.

The lobby Musak-music was droning in the background as Katrina kissed her daughter and sent Mom and Kaleigh away, while Rick escorted Katrina and Rita to a corner booth, and Tori returned to the kitchen to corral her crew for the Breakfast-to-Lunch transition with little time wasted…

Oh, I don't wanna spend my life jaded
Waitin'
To wake up one day and find
that I let all these years go by
Wasted

Yeah, yeah

Oh, I don't wanna keep on wishin'
Missin'
The still of the morning
the color of the night
I ain't spendin' no more time
Wasted...
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
Frequent Contributor
crAZRick
Posts: 489
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

Chapter 2: Front Moving In

It was another beautiful end-of-summer afternoon in Phoenix, clear blue skies, a slight, warm breeze blowing down across the valley from the mountains. A 14-foot moving van rolled to a stop in the parking lot of a new apartment complex, brakes screeching ever-so-slightly under the shifting weight of the load in the cargo hold. “Fours hours or so until dusk,” Rick thought to himself as he leaped from the driver’s seat. “Plenty of time to get settled-in.”

Twenty minutes and several boxes later, Rick was huffing up the short walk from the parking lot, pushing a massive 55-inch television ahead of him, when a shrill cry from behind startled him.

“WOW! Is that our new TV?!” a dark-haired, brown-eyed preteen girl chirped, trotting up, becoming engulfed by the looming shadow of the large appliance.

“Well, it’s my old TV, but Yes, I guess you could call it ‘Our New TV.’ In fact, I like the sound of that. Want to help me get it inside?” Kaleigh nodded briskly and stepped directly in Rick’s path, pressing herself against the side of the TV as he pushed higher above her.

“Kaleigh, step back from there!” the girl’s obviously over-protective mother commanded, strolling across Rick’s path to collect her child, expelling an unhealthy waft of smoke from her 5th cigarette of the afternoon. “If that thing fell on you, you’d be killed!”

“It’s not going to fall, Trina.” Rick defended, gagging slightly as the second-hand smoke dispersed around him. “Don’t worry.”

“Yeah, mom, don’t worry! Be happy!” Kaleigh chimed in, skipping ahead to the open apartment door, cheering loudly again once inside.

“I guess she found the DVDs…” Rick surmised, once more putting his shoulder into the TV, and shoving off. “That should keep her happy for a few hours, sorting and stacking…

“What about you, Trina? Do you have plans for this cool and beautiful afternoon?” Katrina thought for a moment, checking her watch and shrugging. “Great! I could probably use a little help…”

“It’s so hot, Rick.” Katrina decided abruptly. “And I’ve been running around all day, with no A/C. But, the good news is: I think I have a new job, starting Monday!! Isn’t that great? In fact, I should run to Mom’s for awhile, and tell her the news… I’ll be back for dinner in a couple of hours though. What are you hungry for? I’ll pick something up.”

“Italian? Chicken Alfredo would hit the spot. I should have carbed-up before I started moving!” Rick’s laugh cut short when he noted Katrina’s scowl and head shaking.

“I’m not in the mood for pasta.” “she explained. I had spaghetti with Kaleigh at lunch today…”

“Well then, whatever you want then. Just call and let me know and I’ll pick something.” Rick shrugged, shoving the TV up against the door stop. “Could you help me get this thing inside, please?” He eased the set back to allow Katrina access to their new apartment home; she crossed inside and looked around at all the boxes, as Kaleigh knelt before them, gasping and giggling as she pulled open each flap, reveling at box after box of DVD entertainment.

“Kaleigh, honey, don’t make a mess out here, because I know I’m the one who will have to clean it up! And you know how Mommy gets about messes around the house!” Katrina’s words likely fell upon deaf ears, her daughter was so completely engrossed and enthralled digging through crate after crate of colorful cases. She couldn’t help her obsessive drive; she had a lot of chaos in her life to make right, get straight, stay straight, clean and sober. But neither could she expect a 7-year-old to understand, especially since she didn’t understand her own compulsion!

“He has BIG DADDY and TOY STORY 1 AND 2, Mommy!” the 7-year-old gushed. “I’ve never even seen TOY STORY 2 yet!” Katrina smiled, glanced from Kaleigh to Rick and explained.

“We didn’t really ever have a TV long enough to bond over videos or Disney channel… I sold a lot of our stuff, a lot of different times…” she frowned again, and stormed round the corner, into what would shortly become her bedroom, sobbing behind the closed door. Rick sighed, and moved around the huge TV set, stepping over the threshold and heaving the set over the jamb. “Don’t worry… I got it…” he muttered as he hauled the heavy set across the carpet and into place in what he best determined would be the living room area.

Fifteen minutes and a complete King-sized bedroom set later, and Katrina and Kaleigh once more crossed paths with Rick in the parking lot; he was heading in with blankets, sheets and pillows, they were heading out, with purse, cell phone and car keys. Rick was sweating but bouncing happily in his stride, Katrina was freshly-showered, but shuffling her feet as she sulked, strapping Kaleigh into her car-seat before taking the final few drags on a fresh cigarette. Rick dumped the armful of bedding just inside the apartment and trotted back to the lot in time to catch Katrina stubbing out the cigarette butt.

“What’s wrong?” Rick wondered, noting the red rings round her eyes.
“I don’t know…” Katrina confessed, “Maybe I’m not ready for all this, this chaos! And disarray!”
“It’s Moving Day!” Rick reminded. “Of course things are out of place today! That’s why I asked for your help, to get things organized, to get Our Home in order! Because that’s what you do! And you do it good!”

“You have to understand…” Katrina cried, agonizing over her every word as the thoughts and emotions spilled out of her. “In jail, in the half-way house.. **bleep**! Even in rehab, at the meetings, everything is routine, everything is set, everything is in order… and everyone knows where they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to be doing every single minute of every single day! Or someone is on them, riding them, guiding them, telling them what to do or where to go! Everything was in order, everything, every day, had a nice even flow to it! That’s been my life for the past 3 years… a long **bleep**ing time to be out of touch with reality like that! Not to mention the 10 years before, when I was completely **bleep**ed-up and out of it, dealing and doing the drugs. I was on the streets, struggling day-by-day, more than I was at home.

And that old apartment was a pit, a real hole-in-the-wall! I was glad to be arrested, just to not have to go back to that Hell ever again! THAT was true Chaos, and truly **bleep**ed-up!! I can’t be around that sort of nightmare again! I won’t! And this, right here, today, brings all of that back around in my head! Don’t get me wrong, I love the new apartment, the new paint smell, the new carpet and all new appliances. I just never had so much before! I couldn’t take it! I’m suffocating!”

“Listen…” Rick calmly comforted, “When I answered your online-ad for a roommate, you were pretty clear that you were looking for a change, something different than what you were used to. You said you were looking for safety, security, friendship, loyalty and trust for you and your child. After meeting you and talking, and all the letters, emails and late night phone calls over the past months, I now know you were talking about getting away from that whole drug-scene, rehab, everything. But, you also have to be aware of the level of institutionalization you have to crawl out from under before you can really get back into any sort of Life for yourself, and for Kaleigh.

“Making Order from Chaos is a daily struggle in Real Life! For Everyone!” he shrugged. “And, believe it or not, it’s a good thing to not have a warden or house-mother or counselor or head-shrinker monitoring your every move! I have my routine too, which I’m sure will have to be modified to accommodate our new living arrangement. But, we will make this all work out, and we will do it together!” Rick vowed. Katrina nodded, tossing the mashed cigarette and opening her car door, as Rick concluded his declaration of commitment. “Because I think it’s worth it! You, and Kaleigh, are worth moving Heaven and Earth—or mountains of DVDs—for! But, I can’t do it alone, any more than I expect you to have to do any of it alone. The way I see it, we need each other right now, to help get settled, before we see whatever chaos is yet to come… and see each other through that too!”

Katrina sniffled, wistfully brushing a tear from her cheek. “I’ll be back soon, and help you finish moving your stuff in…” she promised, finally smiling slightly, if only as to comfort her daughter as Katrina leaned into the seat. “And, when we come back, maybe we’ll watch a movie!” Kaleigh’s cheers from the back seat widened Katrina’s smile as she slid behind the wheel and slammed the door. Rick waved and watched them depart, then stomped back up the moving van ramp for another armful of boxes, bounding down the ramp and up the walk, plopping the box down and hopping to the phone which was ringing incessantly.

“Hey you…” Katrina greeted. “Thank you.”
“For what exactly?” Rick replied.
“Just… Everything.” She answered. “You make a pretty good living between your writing and the poker thing… you surely didn’t need to take a recovering addict and a 7-year old child off the streets and into a new home this way. And, I’m sorry I blew smoke in your face earlier… I really am trying to quit!”

“Don’t worry about it…” Rick shrugged. “I second-hand smoke 3-packs a day myself! And, don’t worry about anything else, either. Just come back home, and help me get this place in order!”

“Home…” Katrina cooed. “Our new home…” she let the words roll off her tongue and linger in her ears a long reflective moment, before inhaling deeply.

“And, besides, it’s not like you aren’t helping me out at least as much as I’m doing same for you…” Rick admitted. “I think you have no idea how much this means to me, so…”

“Was there anything you need me to pick up?” she changed the subject then, before things got too heavy again, for either or both of them. “I’m heading to the store on the way back from Mom’s.”

“Maybe some Icy-Hot? I think I hurt my back moving that damn bed!” Rick cringed.

“Icy-Hot, OK Old Man…” she laughed.

“Hey! I’m young at heart!!” Rick reminded. “And, you have been through so much that I bet you are as old as me, in your soul! Do you really think 10 years is too many to make this thing work out between us?”

“Ten years, No.” she replied. “But, it’s more like 12…”

“Twelve years…” Rick admitted dryly. “OK, but once you become a mature adult, age shouldn’t really be anything more than a number, right? Just a kind of score-card, really. Sure, a lot of things can be different over the course of ten or twelve years. But, just as many things about a person stay the same after that amount of time too, don’t you think?”

“Yes, I guess.” Katrina agreed. “The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s so true.”

“And, everything happens for a reason too.” Rick continued. “If I had known you 12 years ago, when I was 24, you would have been only just beginning to get into the **bleep** that ruined your life… and, there would have been absolutely nothing I could do about it then. If I had known you, and felt half as much for you then as I feel for you right now, I would have ended up in jail for misconduct and who-knows-what-else, because you were barely a teenager! If anything had been different in either of our lives, we probably never would have met! And getting through that would be worse than anything we’ll ever deal with now that we’re together, because I’m falling in love with you, Katrina!”

“Alright, so I’ll be home soon…” she didn’t even acknowledge the things Rick had said, not even his closing line. “We can have dinner, then we’ll get things in order. I’ll even give you a back-rub once I get Kaleigh down to sleep. And, if you’re real lucky, I’ll dance for you. A little strip-tease, maybe..”

“WOW!” Rick roared. “Sounds great!”

“I’ll need to practice if I get that job I told you about…” Katrina finally explained. “I’ll be waitressing at the **bleep** Cat Club downtown, and dancing at least 3 nights a week…”

“Uhh.. Wow..” Rick repeated himself, though was slightly less-than-enthusiastic. “Waitressing AND Dancing? Great! So, I’ll be at home, writing, playing poker and babysitting, while you’re out catting around some stage in some sleazy club downtown… hmmm…”

“It won’t be like that at all!” Katrina defended. “It’s just a few nights a week, and it’s only topless, nothing too sleazy or skanky about that! I don’t want to go back to flipping burgers again! This is easy money! it’s safe! and legal! Unless you want me to hit the streets---”

“NO! Don’t even joke about that!” Rick snapped. “Listen, I’m just getting settled-in over here. My back hurts, I’m tired, I miss you… I need you…”

“We’ll talk more when I get there, OK.” She promised. “Remember what you told me earlier? Don’t worry! I don’t even have the job yet! I probably won’t even get it, if I go in for the interview at all!! I haven’t worked out in about a year, I’m all flab. But, I should get going…”

“You remember too, what you’re daughter said: Don’t worry, be happy! If you’re feeling stressed and claustrophobic, may I make a suggestion?” Rick offered. Though he dreaded Katrina’s impending reaction, he had baited himself, and with her response, the trap was sprung. “Maybe you should get to a meeting? I would go with you, if you want…”

“Maybe…” she sighed, which Rick accepted as a positive sign, since she hadn’t erupted angrily and ended the call right then.

“OK, great! We’ll work it out when you get home then.” Rick smiled. “And also, know this: To me, you’re not flab, you’re fabulous…” then he said his Goodbyes, not even certain if Katrina had heard him.

He was as lost going into this new setting as she was; he hadn’t lived with a woman in almost 6 years, and even then, she was his wife. They didn’t have kids before the divorce; a blessing and a curse, it seemed. No custody battle then, but dealing with a 7-year old now would be that much more trying in itself; being out-numbered-by-gender around the house would certainly be torturous! But, while Katrina fled into the night to deal with the stress and strain of certain change, trying to outrun it, to keep ahead of whatever disaster lay-in-waiting beyond the uncertain shroud of the future, Rick slumped into his second-hand leather recliner in front of the massively-wide-screen TV, and fell soundly asleep, while a computer-animated cowboy chased a robot, a dinosaur and Mister Potato-head across the screen. Opposites attract, certainly; it’s just a matter of surviving the initial shock of that first major head-on, heart-to-heart collision…
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
Frequent Contributor
crAZRick
Posts: 489
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

Chapter 3: Calm Before the Storm

The air, aseptic, polluted by a palpable tension and an amusingly muted flurry of activity, a drown-out drone of constant chatter thick as that certain stench of chemical-sterilization heavy in the halls. Admit Nurses dance an anxious-but-deliberate ballet behind bullet-resistant plexi-shield; shuffling paperwork, filling and filing charts and folders, processing data at 140-words-a-minute, 800-kilobytes-per-second, while answering ceaseless calls and questions from interns, attendings, patients and families on the night-shift at the Maricopa County Emergency Medical Ward.

The ominous, grating –BUZZ- and heady -THWOMP!- of the auto-sliding door interrupts the anesthetic din often, only inviting more aggressive angst from outside, rather than exorcising and expelling dread-demons from the belly of the beast. Screeching sirens squelch the screams as a coked-out gang-banger, shackled to the gurney by wrist-and-ankle and flanked by four state and local officers, rolls in and bleeds out from several gunshot wounds.

Amidst this climate-controlled-chaos, Life dangles by thin lengths of plastic tubing; saline, glucose, and plasma solutions flowing steadily by liter, bittersweet breakfasts of champions, giving hope for renewed life while the shadow of death looms.

“My daughter… she was just brought in…” a frantic plea for information was met with serene rationality from behind the glass partition.

“Calm down, ma’am…” the Admit Nurse soothed without expression. “Name?”

“Lynn.. uhm, I mean Mills.. Katrina Mills… she… had an accident…” the nurse typed at her computer station as quickly as Mother Mills could stammer the pertinent details.

“Yes, ma’am. Your daughter is being treated just down the hall.” The nurse informed coldly. “The Doctor will be out to see you very soon, I’m sure, if you’ll just have a seat…” a furtive glance from the nurse to a security guard posted near the sliding-door and the man approached Lynn Mills.

“I don’t need an armed escort!” Lynn snapped. “I need to know if my daughter is alive or dead!”

“Mom…” the single word echoed down the claustrophobic corridor above the monotonous white noise and electric hum, drawing her attention away from the nurses’ station. Though it wasn’t her daughter who spoke, Lynn Mills still managed to slump in relief, the tension draining from her shoulders as she crossed toward the ER waiting room, toward the man who summoned her. “She’s in good hands…”

“Rick? What did you—” better judgment prevailed, and Mom Mills righted herself. “Please, tell me what happened?”

“I found her in the bathtub…” Rick started, his words caught in his throat as the images assaulted his Mind’s Eye anew.

“She slipped then! Fell in the shower? I know she doesn’t take baths!” Lynn hoped she had assessed things correctly, though the grave look on Rick’s face spoke what he couldn’t.

“The tub was over-flowing when I got there. The blood…” Rick sobbed. “The water had gone cold, and she was leaning out over the ledge…”

“Well, thank God she didn’t slip under…” Lynn ignored the fact that her initial assessment of her daughter was off, dreading the truth that would become evident, but grateful just the same. “She might have—”

“Mom! She slit her wrists!” Rick revealed. “Both of them… all the way… it was a nightmare. I couldn’t stop the bleeding… she just… she wouldn’t wake up…”
Rick reached out to Mom-Lynn to steady himself as much as offer her support; she leaned in and clung to his chest like a child herself, sobbing and trembling there as the maddening insanity of the Emergent Care Unit.

***************************************************

“You’re daughter is stable, but she’s still critical at this point…” the doctor’s words brought little comfort after nearly 4 hours of waiting and worry. “We stopped the bleeding, stitched up her wrists, and restored her plasma count. She’s on IV fluids for the next 8 hours to get her glucose back up. She was non-responsive when she came in… Tox-screen came back Positive for barbiturates and methamphetamine.

“We tried to induce her with charcoal, but had to pump her stomach to get the pills to clear. Due to the nature of the intoxication and injuries, and high-levels of drugs involved, we contacted local authorities, they will want to have words with yourself and Katrina before we release her in the next day or so…”

Lynn Mills nodded, vaguely aware of what the doctor had been saying as she tried to see past the man, into the Recovery Room where her baby-girl lay. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she looked upon Katrina’s ghastly–gray and sunken cheeks.

“Don’t cry, Gramma…” a cherubic chirp and tug at her waist roused her back to her senses. “Mommy just wasn’t sleeping good at home, so she needed to find someplace to rest, to get better…” Rick strolled up silently, scooping Kaleigh from the floor at Lynn’s feet, so the child could see her mother through the small rectangular window pane into her recovery room.

“Can I go see her now?” Kaleigh wondered, while Rick and Lynn shared a grateful glance. “To say Goodnight, at least?”

“Sure you can, sweetheart.” Grandma Lynn promised, patting her granddaughter tenderly. “I’m sure you’re mom would like that very much…” Rick and Kaleigh entered the dim and quiet recovery room, slipping silently to Katrina’s bedside. Kaleigh reached down and brushed Katrina’s cheek gently, as Rick leaned in and eased the child next to her mother.

“I love you, Mommy…” Kaleigh whispered, kissing Katrina on the cheek, gripping her bandage-wrapped arm and snuggling in close.

“I love you too, my girls..” Rick spoke where Katrina couldn’t, continuing to lean in, kissing Kaleigh tenderly on her cheek then tucking Katrina’s blanket over mother and child. “Be gentle, sweetheart… let you mommy rest…” Rick suggested, snugging the blankets against them before backing out of the room.

“She was high…” Lynn confessed as Rick stepped back into the hall. “They found meth in her system… dammit!”

Rick nodded, frowning. “I saw her face and lips… charcoal? She took some pills, huh?” Lynn confirmed Rick’s suspicions, relaying the doctor’s words somberly.

“I called Rita…” it was Rick’s turn at confession. “She’ll be here tomorrow morning, to talk about it…”

“Hopefully in time to head off the Phoenix PD…” Lynn sighed, at her wits-end with regard to her daughter’s fate. In the cramped and quiet recovery room, Katrina and Kaleigh cuddled and slept.


*******************************************************************

“I don’t feel very good…” she cried suddenly as the car nudged gently forward into the small parking lot. “I have a headache, and I’m cramping… and…” Rick, her Friend, Lover, Driver and Chaperone for the afternoon excursion, waited patiently, and quietly, as he had learned to do, rather than simply sighing and shifting the car into Reverse, backing out and leaving the parking lot. She looked at him, her lips curled into a frown; this time, it was she who sighed. If Rick hadn’t been watching her the whole while as he turned off the ignition and allowed the car to roll forward to bump-stop against the concrete curb, her pained moans might have convinced him once more that she was not faking her ills; rather though, Rick caught her attempt to adjust her put-on face, to loosen the frown just a bit, dumb-it-down rather than play it up… her acting had improved almost as much as his observation skills; almost, but not quite. She wouldn’t pout her way out this time; this confrontation was long over-due.

“That’s OK…” he consoled her, reaching across the car, to pat her hands with his as she nervously twiddled her fingers. “We’re early… you have almost half an hour to get up the nerve, because we’re not leaving this parking lot for at least the next 3 hours!” it was decided; for the first time in many months, Rick made a decision for the both of then, rather than shrugging and agreeing with whatever demands or ideas she might come up with. She would not get past him, not matter what new maneuver she might try.

“I should call, check on Kaliegh…” she changed the subject, and shoved his hand away from her lap, digging through her purse.

“You left your cell phone at Brenda’s…” Rick reminded her. “Or, I mean, I did.. I didn’t put it back in your purse, after I ordered the pizza…” he hoped she wouldn’t know that he had done it on purpose—not that it would matter; if she was going to explode, she was going to explode, she didn’t need a reason usually. She stiffened in her seat, her eyes glazing over, as she stared straight ahead out the windshield, silently willing the single-story brick-and-mortar building to explode or implode or just erase from existence so they could go home and she could continue being angry at him, at herself, and at the world in general for **bleep**ing her over so readily and so completely.

“There’s a payphone inside, remember?” Rick continued calmly. “We can call once we sign in…”

“I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS!!” she shouted point-blank, a rare event; she was being honest!
“I hate crowds, I hate these **bleep**ing **bleep**ed-up people! They think they’re helping each other, that they can help me! Talking all their bull**bleep** stories and psychology and religious crap! I hate this!!”

“Do you want to lose your daughter?” he asked, just as matter-of-fact honest as she had been. “Because that’s what’s going to happen if it gets back to Rita that you blew this off again…”
She looked at him coldly, as if hoping her Death-ray vision would possibly work its magic on his flesh, as he was definitely weaker than the brick-and-mortar meeting hall outside. Rick looked back at her directly, unafraid, at first blankly, no expression, but finally melting into a slight smile.

“Come on, Trina…” he whispered, cracking open his door with his left hand, patting her gently on the thigh with his right. “Let’s go get signed in…” Rick stepped onto the asphalt and paused, hoping to hear the passenger-side door open. When it didn’t, he leaned back in and smiled once more across at her. “The sooner you get started, the sooner we can get done, and get back home to Kaliegh…” she wasn’t even looking at him any more; she was upset they were still parked, not on the way across town, heading home. Instead, she turned away, craning her head around as far as she could, staring out the passenger-side window, to completely block him out, even from her periphery. A car pulled into the lot behind theirs just then, the driver letting out a quick BEEP on the horn before the car swerved tightly into the parking space directly to the right.

“Oh my God!” Katrina gasped, almost a sob, but she caught herself and stiffened up again, stubborn as always. “**bleep**!” she snapped under her breath, either at her moment of weakness or at the new arrival who now stood outside her door gazing down at her. Rick smiled and nodded across the roof of our car, rolling his eyes and sighing a return greeting to the new arrival. Three gentle taps on the passenger-side window, and Katrina rolled it down to say Hello in her own special way… “What the Hell, Mom? Why are you here? Did HE call you??”

“No, Trina…” her Mom countered calmly. “In fact, I called HIM, to remind him to make sure to get you here on time tonight!”

She was really trapped now; blocked to her left, blocked to her right, and her Death-ray vision wasn’t going to shake either of her blockers any more than it would destroy the building… not this afternoon.

“Listen, Katrina…” her mom spoke softly, out of concern rather than spite or guilt or discontent.
“You need this! You know it’s the only way! You know you have to go in there with your best face on, and you’ve got to want this, or it won’t work!”

“I know, Mom!” Katrina cried, her eyes welling up once again. “And, I do! I know Kaliegh hates me right now… my own daughter hates me! And I know this is what I have to do to fix things between she and I.. and Rick..”

“No, child..” her mom was still quiet, confident, smiling, even as she noticed a few people wandering up the walk to the wooden doors of the small building. “You have to want this for YOU! You can’t do this for any other reason, for no one else but for yourself! If you go in there with anyone else on your mind or in your heart, any other reason for doing it, besides getting your life straight only for You, you will end up resenting those people, hating us, and hurting yourself all over again…” Tears were freely-flowing then, as Katrina realized there was no talking her way out of this, not even her own mother was bending to her will any more! She truly felt powerless, broken, but at the same time, she was still stubborn, defiant, and indifferent.

“OK. Trina…” Mom heaved a heavy sigh, fishing inside her purse, and withdrawing a single-use packet of tissue for her daughter. While Katrina attacked the plastic-wrapped packet of tissue, her mom returned to her purse, and found her cell phone.

“Are you calling Brenda?” Katrina sniffled, “Let me talk to Kaliegh, will you?”

Mom shook her head and stepped back a step, squinting down at her phone, then past herself, to her daughter’s red and puffy eyes. “I’m not calling home, I’m calling Rita…”

“Rita’s MY P.O., Mother!” Trina snapped, showing her fangs and claws one last time.
“You have no right to involve her in any of this **bleep**! It’s my life!!”

“Look!” Mom snapped back, still calmly, but showing she was not about to give up on fighting for her daughter’s life. “You can cuss all you want, at me, at Rick, at your sister or Rita, fight, kick, scream, hate us all as much as you hate yourself, but that’s not going to change anything! I’ve had enough, Trina! WE have had enough!! And, judging by the bandages on your wrists, and the stomach ache and black lips from the charcoal and stomach-pumping in the ER last night, I’d say you’re about finished fighting too! So stop these childish antics and behavior, grow up, right now, act like you’re a 25 year old young woman, and get inside right now, or go to prison!

“You know I dread this day as much as you do… you know I don’t want to be responsible for making this call, for sending my baby girl to prison for 20 years…” if she had stopped right there, Katrina knew she had her mom right where she wanted her; she would be back on the road in 5 minutes, getting high in the comfort of her own home right about the time sign-in was wrapping up down here… unfortunately for Katrina, Mom wasn’t giving up or giving in; it was easy to see that afternoon exactly where Katrina got her stubborn streak from…

“I love you Katrina, dear, but I won’t accept responsibility for this. If you don’t go right now, and get this taken care of tonight, what happens tomorrow is on you, and I will not feel one bit guilty for making this call… do you understand?”

Katrina sat quiet, cold, glaring up at her mother in somber silence. After what felt like hours, Mom began to dial; though she must have had the number stored in memory, she gave Katrina the full count of 10-digits to make the decision that might change her life forever...

Katrina had taken on the system as best she could, she fought the Law once, and the Law won; she faced the man who she had come to consider her Best Friend, if not quite calling him Boyfriend; faced her Mother, who she had always had wrapped around her little finger as ‘the baby-girl in the family’; Big Sister Brenda, who had determined that she would make herself available to care for 7-year old Kaliegh for as long as Katrina required her services as surrogate mother; and now, the choice was hers alone; she was left to answer only to herself, to save herself or abandon everything she had struggled to build—and rebuild—in her short life.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

…. Hi… my… Hi… My name is Katrina… and I’m an addict… I’ve been addicted to crystal meth for 12 of the past 13 years….

Sitting in on the meeting from the back of the small non-denominational church, Katrina noted how Rick couldn’t help but smile a little, smile and hope she might just make it through her Hell yet… ‘The fool…’ Katrina thought, smiling to herself while biting down hard on the inside of her cheek, forcing the tears as she sobbed in front of the crowd of tweakers, crackwhores, and desperate losers at the Narcotics Anonymous meeting. All of them were damn fools, the junkies, but Mom and Rick most of all, for thinking they had resolved anything… the only thing that changed for Katrina that afternoon was the fact that now she had reason to hate, they had exposed themselves, their caring, concern… contempt for her life and her wreckless ways!

She had said it plainly; she didn’t want to do this! Now, she vowed, they would pay…
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crAZRick
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

Chapter 4: Storm Clouds

Things were bound to come to a head sooner or later—no, that’s too soft a way to think; this was destiny, having been predetermined for months, course plotted and laid in, full-steam ahead, once more into the breach—but why this day, of all days? Then again, what better day?

Katrina had been like a tightly clenched fist, an over-stressed spring, a loaded weapon, round chambered, hair-trigger, ready to rock’n’roll… for weeks, she barely spoke 2 words to anyone, not even her own child garnered much of her attention any more. Not in the last month, no, seven weeks… 43 days, to be exact, but who’s counting any more, really? She had seemed to come so far, another hellacious 7 months in the rehab center, a miracle in itself considering she had already been given one opportunity to rehabilitate herself; near-perfect attendance at all the various meetings and functions, AA, NA, personal sessions, family sessions, relationship counseling , therapy, bi-weekly drug-testing. She had done us all proud, Our Little Fighter.
She faced all of her demons down once more, and this time, she came out beaming like the sun on the other side. Everyone agreed, she was ‘fixed’ ‘cured’ ‘rehabilitated’.. she was clean and sober again, for the second time in just about 3 years, and this time, it would stick! Everyone could see it, in her eyes, in her posture, her drive and focus, her dedication to The Program (It Works If You Work It! One Day at a Time!!) She had become a shining beacon of hope for all the lost souls drowning in the sea of drug-dependency; this cracked and broken little girl, a junkie since the age of twelve, had finally blossomed into a vibrant, healthy, beautiful young woman. She was ready to take on the world, again, and this time, she would conquer it!! All the way!

It wasn’t her fault things went so bad, so quick. This time, she could not shoulder any of the burden of blame…

“It’s the Cancer, Trina..” Rick sighed as she sobbed while they sat, folding laundry together on the king-sized bed they had come to share once more. “It’s a **bleep**ing disease! It’s not your fault! Please! Say something… Tell me to Piss Off! Or Shut the Hell Up! Something! Please??”

“I…” she whispered, choking back the tears, “I’m alright…” before he could explain how he could see how wrong she was, even in how strong she was attempting to remain, Katrina stood up suddenly, the stack of little-girl underpants falling from her lap into a pile on the floor at her feet. She bolted from the room, to shield him from the waterworks, Rick could only assume; he had gushed so proudly the day she summoned him to pick her up from the half-way house at the conclusion of her rehab-cycle. Graduated With Honors, finally! The only honor being that she would never, ever go back to a place like that again, she vowed. Again, when she attended her first after-care meeting, and she stood up and told her sad sordid story, in vivid detail, all the while looking across the room at Rick and at her Mother, as they smiled back, nodding so proud, so proper…

Her mother fell ill not long after Katrina was free, rehab and half-way houses behind her, nothing but bright happy future ahead. ‘Just the flu, or some bug…’ Mom promised, but Katrina forced her to make an appointment when she was still bed-ridden after 6 full days and nights.

“After all the Hell you gave me, to get me through everything…” Trina spouted stubbornly,
“I’m not going to stand by while you suffer with this flu-bug, Mom! I need you! I love you!”
Those words more than any made it OK to make another expensive appointment for Mom; Katrina hadn’t said she loved anyone besides her own 7-year old daughter in so long, it was huge comfort when Rick heard her say those words to her mother…

…twice, no ten-times the surprise and comfort later that evening, when Katrina summoned Rick to ‘the Big Bed’ again, and said the words he had been waiting for, to him after they made love for the first time in many long months.

“We…You’re going to make it…” Rick smiled back at her, kissing her forehead as he pulled her in close to him, sharing such warmth as he had never felt from her that blissful, perfect evening.

It wasn’t even a month later when her Mother passed away; cancer had been eating away at her for years, she was on all manner or prescription medications for various sorts of afflictions and ailments that come with age; she never felt it coming. She had the uppers to get that pep in her step each morning, the stabilizers to get her through each day, and the downers to help her sleep off her pains each night, all the while the cancer was ravaging her insides, while the medications masked the harshest symptoms and she simply denied the others.

For 43 days, since the funeral, Katrina had shut down completely; she was barely eating, non-responsive, she wouldn’t get out of bed except to get Kaleigh off to school, and even that had become such a chore that Katrina was reluctantly forced to rely upon her big sister to take the burden of rearing Katrina’s child once again. She was fracturing, breaking down inside, again, turning it all around, everything she had worked so damn hard for, to make something of herself, to make us all so proud, to Be Something, Someone…

Rick was about at his own wits-end by that point as well. He was working 60- to 70-hour work weeks just to break even, to keep his ‘happy little family’ going, while Katrina found herself and rebounded from this latest crisis of faith. The breaking point came, the clenched fist lashed out with that hard uppercut to the solar-plexus, the coiled spring snapped, and sprung loose, lodging itself like a bullet behind Rick’s eye, that one fateful day.. Day 44…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KALEIGH! The streamer strung across the living room ceiling read as Rick swung the door open and stomped inside the quaint and cozy two-bedroom apartment. It was Kaleigh’s 8th Birthday! Rick had all but forgotten! But, it seemed, someone had remembered, and had taken steps to make it a day worth remembering for everyone!

“Sweetheart, the decorations.. the place looks great!” Rick cheered, swooping suavely into the master bedroom to give his girls a healthy squeeze after what seemed like ages apart. Greeted only by cold darkness and faint fumes of incense burning somewhere near-by, Rick strode to the bathroom door, which was slightly ajar and equally as dimly-lit. “Trina? Everything OK?” his words reverberated off the porcelain and tile of the confined and empty space, lit only by a rather large scented candle near the sink. Odd that, Rick determined, squashing the flame with a wet fingertip before kneeling to stash the doused candle in its proper storage place in the under-sink cabinetry. Rick was generally not very tidy; he wasn’t a slob by any means, but it had always been Katrina’s place, and her particular compulsion, to do the major cleaning and reorganizing around the apartment, and Rick had taken upon himself on only rare occasion to stop her. But, he had come to know a place for everything and everything in it’s place. This was Kaleigh’s birthday party, and Katrina’s coming out party! Everything must be perfectly in order, if Rick had any hope of turning things up just one more notch, and making this day the Engagement Day trifecta.

The clenched fist lashed out, the coiled spring sprung, and life as Rick knew it came crashing down around him from under the bathroom sink that fateful day. As the candle’s scent faded along with its soft glow, a new scent found its way to dominance, wafting from within the closed cabinet; a sickly sweet, smoky sort of ruminenscence… and, the tampon box was out of place!
A funny sort of thing for Rick to notice on any day, let alone that day of all days But, fate and destiny made sure Rick noticed that detail, on that day, along with other subtle details; the box was out of place and the box-top was flipped open. Katrina was obsessive and compulsive, a procrastinator, but she was also quite reserved and shy about such things as feminine hygiene-- she would never be so busy, nor be so late, nor be in so much a hurry as to take care of her issues and leave things so haphazard under the bathroom sink…

…the small glass pipe was barely hidden from plain sight under a single square of toilet paper at the bottom of a half-full box of tampons, tucked—no tossed—under the bathroom sink!! The clenched fist blasted Rick in the belly seeing the burned brown barrel of crusty glass; the coiled spring popped as the man found himself reeling from the most violent headache he’d ever succumbed to… and the gun, cocked, locked and loaded, hair-trigger twitching…
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crAZRick
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

Chapter 5: Thunder and Lightning, Wind and Rain

“Hey you…” Rick greeted, in rather subdued monotone instead of its usual pep. He sat in the living room, staring down at the small charred glass-pipe on the coffee table. “Where have you been? I’ve been talking to voice-mail all afternoon. I must have called 6 times! We need to talk.”

“Oh… hey…” Katrina replied after a lengthy pause. “I’ve… been running around all day… collecting kids for Kaleigh’s birthday party… chatting with their moms about the sleep-over and stuff… That’s why I didn’t answer my phone.”

“Oh yeah. Let me talk to Kaleigh for a sec, wish her happy birthday, in case I don’t see her later.”

Another lengthy pause, Katrina looks to the passenger seat, where her companion slouches in his seat, scratching his scarred forearm with one hand while casually caressing Katrina’s upper thigh with the other. “Kaleigh’s… not with me, just a few of the kids…” Katrina said as she pried the guy’s fingers from her thigh, and fished a small plastic bag from the pocket of her jeans.

“So, Kaleigh’s not invited to her own birthday party? What’s up with that? What’s going on, Trina?”

“Of course, Kaleigh’s going to be at her party, Rick! But… it is a surprise party, remember? She doesn’t know what I have planned! She’s at Brenda’s… if you want to, you can call her and wish her happy birthday over there, OK?” Now was Rick’s turn to draw pause, which Katrina filled with a question of her own. “You said we needed to talk, and I agree. Was that all you wanted then? to wish Kaleigh Happy Birthday? Because there is something else we need to talk about…”

“Are you using again?” the question came in near-whisper, and Rick surprised himself by asking, moreso than the question surprised Katrina. “Or dealing?”

“No, Rick! No!” Katrina cried. “I can’t believe you would even dare ask me that! You know I’m on probation! If Rita ever found out… if I get caught with any of that **bleep** again, I go to prison! Not just jail, prison for 20 years minimum! Not to mention what it would do to my heart if I smoked meth again…” All the while, in the passenger seat, her companion had busied himself with his pipe, tapping a few grams of the powder from Katrina’s baggy into the glass-pipe bowl , then flicking his lighter to life underneath the glass and inhaling deeply. “I’ve told you this before! I can’t be around that **bleep**! I can’t believe you even asked me that!

“Why did you wonder about that, today of all days?” Katrina asked. “Did I say or do something? Or have you been talking to Brenda about me again, behind my back?”

“No, nothing like that. I just know you have trouble with birthdays sometimes. And, with your mom not being around to talk to any more, and everything you must be going through since the funeral, I’ve been worried, that’s all.”

“I have trouble with Hanna’s birthday, Rick! Hanna! The baby I lost 3 years ago!” she snapped. “Not the 8-year old I still have! Kaleigh is not the problem, believe me! And, I’m handling my Mother’s death the same way as I deal with everything else! BY MY SELF!!”

“OK… I know…” Rick said. “ I’m sorry… I believe you.” He set the pipe back in the pink tampon box and exhaled hard and long. “What was it you said we need to talk about?”

“Nothing, really…” Katrina retreated, calming herself some. “Just miss you, I guess…”

“I know.” Rick sighed, “We haven’t really seen much of each other since our vacation during Moving Week, then we both went back to work. I miss you too, you know?”

“We’ll be home soon, I promise. Are you ready for a house-full of screaming girls?”

“As long as it’s our house, our home, and our girl at the middle of it all, yeah, I can take it.” Rick managed to laugh a little. “I love you, Katrina..”

“OK. See you later.” As she clapped her cell phone closed, Katrina’s companion toked heavily once more on the smoldering glass-pipe, then leaned across the cabin and kissed her deeply.

“I love you, Mike.” she gasped after holding the meth-tainted smoke in her lungs as long as she could.

“If you really loved me, I think I’d get a discount!” Mike said, peeling a few bills from the roll of $20s he had fished from his pocket. “Or at least, a Bone-Us!” Mike smirked and kissed her again, cupping her breast in his fist. Katrina playfully pushed him away and checked her wristwatch, scratching at the fresh burns on her forearm and tugging the scrunched-up sweatshirt sleeve over the marks.

“**bleep**! I better get back upstairs! The girls must be driving Brenda nuts by now!” She kissed Mike one last time before bolting from the car and bounding from the parking lot, up the stairs to the run-down apartment that was her sister’s home. Mike stumbled from the passenger’s seat and crossed to his apartment just downstairs from Brenda’s place; the perfect little liars’ love nest.
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
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crAZRick
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

Chapter 6: Into The Eye

“Happy Birthday, Kaleigh , sweetheart!” Rick smiled wide as he handed the small, not-so-delicately wrapped package to the giggling birthday girl in the place of honor amongst 6 of Kaleigh’s friends from school. All the girls giggled, a few sassy remarks about the wrapping job, no bow, no card, and that devilish look from daughter to mother, both of whom then turned their judgmental gaze upon Rick, the gift-giver. A moment later, gasps and more giggles, as the thin layer of red wrapping paper was torn away, revealing the nature of the box below.

“Eeeeeewww!” Kaleigh snarled, her face twisting in the most dramatic way as she dropped the small pink box to the tabletop. Perhaps more intriguing was the reaction from Katrina, standing over and behind her 8-year old child as Kaleigh devoured the attention like so much sweet chocolate angel’s food. Katrina’s eyes grew wide, and anyone who had been watching her as Rick was would have noticed the full-body quake that shook her to her core, as Kaleigh cried out loud. “A TAMPON BOX?!! Mommy, look!”

But, Katrina did not want or need to look again, yet, at this point, she could not force herself to turn or run away. Instead, she focused her glare upon Rick, who glanced up at her from his crouch; he was eye-level with the children around the table, and, on most any other day, he might have felt weak and wilted as a child trapped in the raging fire behind the eyes of the woman he had come to love. She wanted to be anywhere else just then, but at the same time, she had to know: what had Rick done? What gift would her daughter find inside that box, Katrina’s box; her secret place no longer…

“Go on, Birthday Girl…” Rick shifted his gaze back to the table and the task at hand, still feeling the full brunt of Katrina’s death-gaze upon his cheek. “Open it up!”

Rick’s taping job out-classed his wrapping job, as Kaleigh finally coalesced and picked up the pink package, after a significant amount of sneering, giggling, poking and prodding the offensive box. Her friends offered their fingernails to help break the seal of several strips of Scotch tape encasing all edges of the box flap, while Katrina took that moment to make her escape; all eyes were on the party, Kaleigh, the Birthday Girl, and there was something Katrina had to do, to know. She made her way quietly around the corner from the living room of the small apartment, into her dark bedroom. She didn’t think anyone would miss her, nor perhaps even notice she had slipped away for a moment; but Rick saw her move, watched her disappear, and saw the flicker of light from the bathroom inside her bedroom.

“Almost… got it…” Kaleigh’s tongue was out the side of her mouth as she worked on the tough and tightly- taped box top.

“Who wants CAKE?!” Katrina suddenly announced from the kitchen, rattling around with plates and silverware, then cracking open the thin-plastic cake cover from the store-bought birthday cake; it was as noisy and distracting an offer as she could make, and yet, the Guest of Honor was not deterred in her little quest. So, of course, Katrina made the next bold move in this battle of wills. “Kaleigh? Come eat cake and ice cream, Mama’s big Birthday Girl!”

“In a minute, Mommy…” Kaleigh promised, as a few of her friends filed from the small coffee table into the kitchen, and Rick smiled at her determination and zest for the current project. Rick rose up, and stretched slightly, glancing across the counter to Katrina, whose glassy-eyed glaze revealed what Rick already knew; Katrina knew that he knew… and he knew that she knew that he knew. Even with the giggling and chattering of half-dozen 8-year old girls, amidst the clattering of forks across chinette-plates heaping with cake and ice cream, with a steady ominous tone rising in her head as the blood of certain betrayal pounded behind tear-reddened eyes, Katrina froze, transfixed upon the moment when her daughter jumped for joy over cracking the seal of the little pink box. A moment later, the crash and clatter of glass shattering on the kitchen tile, as Katrina noted the confused snarl of expression which crossed her daughter’s face, dropping the last plate of cake and ice cream, even as Kaleigh wandered toward the kitchen counter, wondering out loud.

“What kind of birthday present is this?!”

“You son of a bitch…” Katrina snapped sharply, ever-glaring at Rick, as Kaleigh rounded the corner of the counter into the kitchen, the open box in hand and on display for all to see. “What gives you the right to pull a stunt like this?! Today, of all days!”

“Look Mommy…” Kaleigh begged, side-stepping the spilled cake and ice cream, holding the box up under Katrina’s nose. Katrina didn’t want to look, she didn’t have to look; she knew what she would find, Rick knew, and she knew that Rick knew.

“Be careful of the glass, baby…” Katrina forced herself to break the evil-eye lock on her target, to insure the safety of the child at her feet. An interesting instantly-plotted bonus of the shift in her perspective gave Katrina a glance inside the tainted gift box, at once shocking and stunning her to silence.

“Yes, please, do be careful of the glass, sweetheart…” Rick agreed, taking his cue from Katrina’s awkward awestruck instance, and swooping down upon her daughter, scooping the girl and her gift-box from the ground into a hearty embrace. An insistent rapping at the door incited curious chatter as it roused Katrina from her stupor, thought Rick and Kaleigh were 4 steps ahead, making way to greet more birthday guests.

“But, everyone I invited is already here!” Kaleigh countered as she recounted her guests with her free fingers, still clutching the appropriately inappropriate gift-box in her other hand.

“This is another gift from me, but for Mommy!” Rick explained, opening the door, and offering invite to the 6-man narcotics squad standing outside. The first 2 officers swept the child from Rick’s grasp, recovering the small pink package from hers in one fluid movement. The remaining officers stormed in and swept through the small apartment home, two of them taking up positions in the kitchen, between Katrina and the children, while the last pair methodically moved into and out of each adjoining room. As they completed their primary search and seizure routine, insuring the safety and well-being of the innocents involved, the police unit surrounded Katrina who cowered quietly in the kitchen, vainly struggling to contain any of the myriad messes she had made.

“Surprise…” Rick sighed, a tear rolling down his cheek while the officer-in-charge read Katrina her rights, along with the list of charges against her; probation violations, drug paraphernalia, reckless endangerment...

As she was ushered from her home, hands cuffed behind her, fingers tainted by chocolate frost, face awash in the glow of fresh tears, Katrina was met by the last of the party-guests: her sister Brenda, clutching Kaleigh to her chest warmly, both sobbing; and her probation officer Rita, who held Katrina’s life in her hands in the form of a file folder. A record of her many misdeeds over the years, the file had acquired a new bit of girth that day, of all days, her daughter’s 7th birthday… the day Hurricane Katrina laid waste to her family for the last time…
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

Chapter 7: Aftermath

Like a hurricane, Katrina Mills swept through the sprawling desert community, disrupting lives, leaving fear, hurt and untold damage in her wake.

“As I walk through the shadow of the Valley of Death, I shall fear no Evil…” the solemn and somber eulogy decried exactly 5 years to the day after Katrina’s arrest and escort from that small apartment complex in Phoenix. It was a small service, family and few friends gathered at the gravesite to say final farewell and mourn the passing of another soul touched by the devastation wrought by that force of nature that was Katrina. Rick left town, returned home to Minnesota to rebuild a new life for himself amongst family and friends long abandoned. Brenda and Steve took Kaleigh in, to be raised as much a sister as a niece to their own daughter. No life had been more drastically altered, no head more filled with fear, no heart broken more completely than that of the child, Katrina’s daughter, Kaleigh. Mommy’s little Kaleighco was forced to grow up faster than she should have, a challenge more difficult than weathering even the most vicious and brutal storm Mother Nature could conjure. She was ill-prepared, having been taught none of the survival instincts or techniques her mother had learned during her trials at a similar time in life.

“And so, we commit the body of this child, Kaleigh Mills, once more unto the Earth… ashes to ashes, dust to dust…” the service concluded, Brenda, Steve, Nicole paying final respects and thanking the preacher before filing slowly from the cemetery. The small casket was lowered into the ground, the plot next to Lynn Mills was filled, fresh layers of sod in place, the sun setting over the horizon, desert sky awash in brilliant hues of gold, purple and red, as a final mourner made way into the cemetery. Katrina Mills broke down there and then, collapsing at the marker of her daughter’s final resting place, crying and screaming inconsolably. So many years, her emotions had been buried now brought to bear, much like her child in the ground before her; everything came out, finally, on that unfortunate afternoon of reflection, regret and ultimate though untimely release.

“I heard you got out…” a stoic voice quieted Katrina’s cries, a hand offering a handkerchief over her quaking shoulder.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, looking up from her daughter’s grave as she dried her eyes and wiped her nose.

“Paying my respect…” Rick replied. “Saying Goodbye… I had to come back, same as you...”
“This is my child…” Katrina countered quietly. “I love her!”
“I loved both of you!” Rick reminded, offering his hand to her as she sprawled on the sod before him. Shivering, Katrina slid her fingers across his palm, cinching his wrist as he pulled her to her feet so near him he could smell the early morning dew which damped her hair.

“Why did this have to happen?” Katrina sobbed. “Why won’t anyone tell me what happened?”
“I asked them not to…” while he held her hand tight and looked into her bloodshot eyes, Rick rolled his free fist face-up, revealing a small glass pipe. “I think this belongs to you…”

Katrina’s eyes glazed over, she stood agape, quaking as the realization struck and settled into her core, while Rick continued to hold her close, wrapped her fingers around the pipe and explained.

“The police never found the pipe that day they stormed our home. I held Kaleigh, she had the box in her hand, they took her from me, took the box from her, but found nothing… I thought as they thought, that you had palmed it, destroyed it or tossed it in the trash with the busted glass from that plate… They didn’t need the pipe after all, there was enough evidence with the bong and enough meth residue on the bathroom sink and tiles to convict you of probation violations, and get you sent up for 3-5 years… but, they never found the pipe…”

“Oh… my… God!” Katrina quaked and stumbled into Rick’s waiting arms.

“She was protecting you, without even knowing, without even realizing… whether she thought it was her gift, or she knew exactly what it was, Kaleigh kept that pipe all these years… Uncle Mike showed her how to use it just last week, for her first, and last, time. I’m sure you’ve heard, he was arrested not long after you were released…”

“Why did you do this to me? Why?!” Katrina screamed into Rick’s chest, clawing at him, punching and beating on him as he held her. Finally, she calmed, and clung to him precariously, sobbing and shaking in his embrace. “Why? What have I done?!”

They stood there together in silence in the cemetery for a long time as darkness fell over the Valley of the Sun. When they finally parted, Katrina smashed the glass pipe against the granite headstone of her own mother’s gravesite, Rick kissed her softly on the lips one last time, and they never saw each other again…

Oh, I don't wanna spend my life jaded
Waitin'
To wake up one day and find
that I let all these years go by
Wasted

Oh, I don't wanna keep on wishin'
Missin'
The still of the morning
the color of the night
I ain't spendin' no more time
Wasted

Oh, I don't wanna spend my life jaded
Waitin'
To wake up one day and find
that I let all these years go by
Wasted

Yeah, yeah

Oh, I don't wanna keep on wishin'
Missin'
The still of the morning
the color of the night
I ain't spendin' no more time
Wasted
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
Frequent Contributor
crAZRick
Posts: 489
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

WOW!

that bad, huh?

everybody's speechless... nobody wants to give the writer the bad news...

that's ok...

I can take it...
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
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contessadetroy
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎06-08-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

Good God!!! YOu really take off on a story exercise. I only got to read a portion of this because I spent soooo much time trying to find samples of everyone else's writing. And now, my eyes are jumping all over the page and I can't really get through all of this right now. BUT, I'm coming back to this one. I just need a fresh start. You definately caught my attention. (That's hard to do... I'm finicky about writing.) When I read it all, I'll let you know what I think...
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crAZRick
Posts: 489
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

LOL!

I guess I'll wait until later then too, to tell you thanks for reading and reviewing.

:smileyhappy:
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
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contessadetroy
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎06-08-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

:smileyhappy:
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alexandra_boza
Posts: 14
Registered: ‎05-11-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

holy moly!
that is one powerful chapter!
boy you can write.
my stuff is nada, nothing comapred to this....wow
MAY WE ALL CARRY WITH US
"HOPE", "STRENGHT", "COMPASSION", AND "COURAGE" NOW AND FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES!
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crAZRick
Posts: 489
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

awwww

Thanks for the kind words, alexandra!!

I'm sure you're a pretty good writer yourself, when you are inspired and properly-motivated to do the work. This story was almost more like a memory, at least partially, just taken to an alternate fictional universe to give it that extra dramatic boost. Not hard to write down a life-memory and just tweak a few details into fiction...

thanks for reading and reviewing and being so kind, all y'all!

now, the question is, What can be improved with this story? What's missing? What's wrong? What needs to be removed or changed? any help you can offer me there would be appreciated...

thanks again!
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
Frequent Contributor
crAZRick
Posts: 489
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

WOW! no comment?

so, this is as perfect as it could be?

EXCELLENT!
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
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contessadetroy
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎06-08-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

Sorry I took so long to get back to this story. I think it's time to try for some sort of publishing.

What else do you have? Or is it already posted and I need to do some looking?
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crAZRick
Posts: 489
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

I have a novel and a few screenplays, if you're interested...

thanks for finally reading and reviewing.

any bad news would be appreciated too though. Something must suck about this piece.

C'mon people! hit me with your best shot!
I no longer regret that I have no quote, quip or anecdote to share with my countrymen... how about all y'all?
New User
Cuccifrito
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎08-05-2007
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Re: crAZRick, My Story-- Hurricane Katrina

Ok crazrick, here's the deal: you wanted honest feedback, I, as a reader, am going to give it to you.

And here's why:

Your writing is at publishable level - period.

You've got heart, you offer your soul, you don't stay too long on filler/descriptive details, but the ones you give are ones people can relate to. (The swish sound of the emergency room doors; who hasn't been there?, etc.)

You are so good, you merit honest feedback as a tool to make you 'perfect'. (I sound like a groupie, but I'm not; just a future fan.)

Here's what confuses me: “WOW! Is that our new TV?!” a dark-haired, brown-eyed preteen girl chirped, trotting up, becoming engulfed by the looming shadow of the large appliance.

Who the heck is she? You never explain a preteen girl, who she is in relation to others, etc. She's too old to be the daughter. It made me think that maybe Rick had a kid, but there's no follow up, so I nixed that idea. It left me wondering thru the whole (most excellent, heartbreaking) story.

Part of me wants to say, "How dare you make such a heartbreaking, no happy-ending story, but then I related to it all the more 'cuz I know in reality, (bleep), quite often there are no happy endings, just consequences for choices made.

So, that being said, I had to take your story in doses. I read a chapter or two, felt bummed, and thought, "This story isn't healthy for me to read." But I was compelled to go back to it and find out what happened with the characters. That was good hook there pal. I resent you for that, as I didn't want to read a bummer of a story. But you had me. That should tell you of your talent as well as your capability/potential.

(Don't you hate that when that happens?)

Anyway, here's my questions:

Who the heck it the pre-teen girl? What novel did you write (I'm interested in reading it (because of your particular writing style), and are you going to post the rest of your chapters (if any)?

Thanks for the professional, enjoyable-yet-heartbreaking read.

~ Cuccifrito