A dark date with destiny…

A dark date with destiny…

For a man who doesn’t scare easily I woke up quite afraid this morning.  I had a dream you see, not a nightmare but a dream and it frightened the livin’ Bejesus out of me for a number of reasons. I warn you now; you should only stay with me, if you are not of a nervous disposition.

Now usually, dreams are odd and at the best of times they can be hard to remember. Some people say they rarely dream or they just don’t remember them.  I remember them all. Perhaps it’s because I’m a light sleeper.  I’ve always remembered my dreams and they have always been vivid and filled with colour.  Nightmares haunted me as a child but I learned to wake myself from the worst of them. These days I rarely have nightmares.

My mother was a dreamer too.   I loved my Ma but she frightened the lights out of me sometimes when she got all serious over her dreams.   She used to tell me that she knew which ones were real and which ones were not.  When I was small I didn’t fully understand what she meant, but over time she used to tell me the details of her dreams and when they were truly portentous, it was scary.  She believed in telling someone when she thought they might be some kind of premonition as if she wanted a witness to her truth.  I keep most of my dreams to myself, but this one…

Being one of life’s great sceptics, I find it challenging to offer up what I am about to say but I offer it up nonetheless. Over the years much like my mother, I have had dreams that have quite literally come true. I cannot explain it and without going into detail, there should have been absolutely no way I could have predicted what I dreamed about in advance of the actual occurrences. Yet I remain sceptical, presuming without any evidence that there has to be some scientific explanation for my precognition. I have yet to explain it to my own satisfaction.

There are other things too, things I really cannot explain.  I frequently sing the next line to songs that my darling Jo is singing in her head.  I finish a thought she is having out loud not related to anything in the moment, entirely unpredictable.  It can be a sentence or an idea.  She will frequently say to me “are you in my head again?”

Now of course you might say that we are so close, that of course I can predict her next line or word, but it is far more intricate than that.  Still the sceptic in me says, there is some logical explanation for that too, one that I simply haven’t been able to work out. Yet I know what comes into my head, I feel the thoughts of another person sometimes and I have no understanding of how it happens nor control of when it happens. I am no clairvoyant. Whatever the explanation, there must be one.

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Last night was different.  I can feel it still that dream. Like most dreams there was some initial confusion, a mixed blur of a vacation in Vietnam for some reason, but then it all changed and I went to visit my brother Brian in Chicago where he had spent most of his adult life.  It is seven years since my brother passed. He died way too young, the same age as I am at now as it happens. In my dream he welcomed me in and oddly there was another presence, someone I haven’t seen in many years.  My companion on the journey was my childhood friend and next door neighbour Martin.  I haven’t seen him in thirty years.  He was background noise only however but I remember it was quite disconcerting.

I was in the yard of a house and Brian kept coming in and out telling me to join him. He seemed anxious.  I stayed outside, half distracted by a phone call and I kept telling him I’d come in in a minute.  Martin was trying to hurry me along to leave.  Again the dream took on that bizarre stage where things blend and mix up.  Although I was standing only a few feet away from my brother, the conversation we were having was taking place on two levels. I was both standing close to him yet on the phone to him and still back in Ireland, all at the same time.  I could see deep concern on his face and he looked ill again as he had done the last time I saw him.  He seemed to be asking me to come visit him in Chicago.

He kept repeating that I should come with him and I began to realise that he wanted me to join him in another place.  He was no longer of this world and he wanted me to come with him to a darker place to help him, to be with him and I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness. But then he did something that chilled me to my very core. There was a moment, just a tiny moment where one minute we were talking by phone, but quite suddenly he was standing at my shoulder in the yard of that strange house. He leaned in and whispered in my ear. I cannot let go of the secret he imparted. That exchange was speeded up.  The world accelerated for a moment, right to the point where he spoke to me and then everything slowed long enough for him to tell me something that is stuck in my head.

In that moment I woke up and I lay on my side with my eyes closed.  Whenever I have such a dream, not a normal dream but a dream that feels like the ones my mother spoke of, a dream like the ones I’ve had before,  I replay them in my head in my wakened state so I can remember the detail in the morning.

As I lay there another thought struck me and I thought, no it is not possible. I opened my eyes and reached in the darkness for the button that illuminates the time on my alarm clock.  For a second I hesitated.  I didn’t want it to read the time that might be there. Ever since my heart attack, ever since I faded on the surgeons table only to come back again, my witching hour has haunted me. I pressed the button and it read 04.35 precisely.

From the corner of my eye, the shadow man who haunts my night, slipped out of our bedroom window.  He is a slither, a creeping menace that sits and waits and at that precise moment, the time of morning when all that is darkest comes to haunt me, he is a mocking creature, too cowardly to strike, like a hyena in the darkness beyond my eye line, waiting for me to be weak again.

I reached across once more and pressed the button on my clock and darkness filled the room.  My shadow man had been lurking, my Mr. Squiggles as I have daubed him back in my hospital bed is always there in such moments. He waits for my demise and it feels as though he comes to check on me from time to time.  I am on his list and I felt as though he now knew the secret that my brother had shared with me, and that was the most frightening thing of all. I already knew the time that he would eventually come for me, my brother only confirmed it but there was more. As I lay awake in the darkness of my room, I remembered the rest of the secret that he had imparted.  Brian had given me something no one wants to have. He had whispered the worst secret imaginable. He had given me a date …

 

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You can find details about Max Power’s books here : –
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twitter @maxpowerbooks1
Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

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Keeping a thought for my sorrow pocket…

Keeping a thought for my sorrow pocket…

They say the Devil is in the detail and they might well be right, but I’m not completely convinced.  When I was a teenager, full of angst and testosterone, I wrote a poem as young men who write tend to do and it opened like this; I’ve lost my church but not my faith, people stare and wonder what’s gone wrong with me.  They seem to think it’s God I hate, but I’ve lost my church, not my faith.

Of course to put this in context I was growing up and out of, a very traditional Irish Catholic upbringing.  The simple act of not attending mass on Sunday, required special dispensation from my mother and even at that you needed a pretty good reason not to go.  As small children we went to mass with my parents.  As we entered our teenage years we were given the limited religious freedom to choose our own mass time.  Back then in our parish, there were so many options from 7 a.m. on the hour until one o’ clock and two evening masses.

There were specialised masses like the 10 O’clock folk mass where the ‘trendy priest’ would pick up a guitar and be accompanied by teenagers on more guitars singing folky, holy songs.  We later discovered that our particular ‘cool’ priest was using his musical interactions with local teens, to groom them for his own deviant aspirations.  But of course in hindsight we learned that the excessive power that priests were given in our particular society meant they were free to commit many abuses with impunity.  That particular priest ended up in prison along with many of his cloaked brethren and with them went a respect for any decent men who remained in the priesthood. I tended to choose the mass that would be over the quickest.

When I wrote those words in my poem, none of us except those affected by the abuse were aware of what was going on. My anti-church position was more the expression of a teenager demanding his freedom, declaring my adulthood, rather than anti-church sentiment.  I was telling the world something even though if I am truthful, I wasn’t quite sure what that was at the time. The words I wrote can appear to have a different meaning when contextualised. Does the Devil lie in the context rather than in the detail perhaps?

I was an angsty little shit. It’s funny how right wing I am now compared to my left wing teenage self.  I’m hardly Margaret Thatcher but ageing does set you off complaining about things you once held precious. I’m less forgiving perhaps, rather that more right wing. I’m no weekend Socialist, my belief and desire for a fairer society are strong and I have my conscience, but I guess my political leanings depend on which side of the pond or equator you live. My American friends are inclined to see the left in much of what my Irish and European friends see as the right.  What is European liberal is virtually American communist.  The legacy of McCarthyism still lives in the U.S. Psyche I think. On the other hand, my affluence or lack thereof is relative to the Geopolitical world. To a hungry child with no water, I am truly wealthy. Maybe this is the sort of detail in which the Devil lurks?

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The darkness that I harbor in my soul for fear of letting it show on my face, found me wanting one day and has never let me go.  I doubt there is a soul alive that hasn’t faced down their own demons.  All around me I see people fighting with their own challenges, internal strife and worry. For the most part people never share their internal dilemmas and the deeper the well the darker it gets.

Most keep their deepest fears secret and in that place the light is dimmer. Secrecy comes from many sources. People hide their darkest fears and anxieties because of fear, shame, and embarrassment, a desire for privacy, to protect themselves or others, there are so many reasons.  The truth is that darkness finds us all and while for some it is transient, it will find us all at different times in our lives and for most it is manageable.  For others it sometimes feels overwhelming.

I know only of my own shadow companion and I can only speak from my heart of darkness.  I am a contented man in many ways having found my joy through the love of my family and friends, but having spent my life trying to analyse my darker self, I guess at the very least I know from whence it comes.

The boy I was is the man I have become.  The lessons I have learned have helped me forge a path through the darkness and it is in this I find most consolation.  I see no point in sharing the detail only the path.  Sometimes the detail has no value. My hollow is no more or less than anyone else’s.  Unable to banish my demons, I have learned to live with them.IMG_0706

I wrote Darkly Wood not as a parable but in some ways it reflects my struggle. Sometimes in that twisting tale, when all hope seems lost, I simply take it away when the reader wants to believe in hope.  My dark shadow man, my Mr. Squiggles as those who follow my blog will be familiar with, has thought me to know hope cannot be relied upon to nurture the soul.  How awful that sounds even as I write it.  But I know from experience that when he sits on my window ledge, watching me at 3.35 in the morning, hope will not save me.

The path I share is not one of hope but one of choice and endeavor. I look to the future knowing good times will come as will bad.  I have seen them all before but despair is not for me. I choose to carry on.  I endeavor to take each new step every morning especially when he comes to visit.  I despise his nonchalant pose, as he sits there, leg dangling, examining his shadow nails in the half-light expecting me to succumb to his desolation.

So I close my eyes knowing sleep will not come but in closing him out, I take back my power if only for a while.  Everyone has their own darkness.  For the darkest souls, I cannot give advice; I can only share what I have learned.  There is a path through the forest and no matter how difficult it gets, there is joy along the way. It is elevating and wonderful this life of ours, but even sunny days will cloud over. It is so nice to walk with the sun on your face but sometimes we walk in the rain and it needs to be embraced as part of the journey of life.

I am glad I walk the path I do. It has shaped me. I know it will get muddy sometimes and I will fall by the wayside occasionally but the longer I have lived, the more I have come to appreciate the beauty of the journey. It has to be embraced.  My journey is precisely that, a journey.  It is no more or less and every journey offers not hope, but the prospect of joy and as long as I am open to it, some new adventure.  I wouldn’t give up that opportunity for the world.

When hope feels like it is an insufficient ally, one has to find a friend in resilience or just plain stubborn spite against the thing that wants to drag you down.  My path is not to let it.  There is always a way through the darkness, not giving up is winning and it is a victory more glorious as the darkness grows smaller in the rear view mirror. Find it where you can, there is no formula. I find it my own way as I thinks we all must do.

Day follows night and there are twinkles in store for me no matter the menace of my shadow man. I endeavor to walk the path one step at a time. I choose to have faith in the good that has yet to befall me and because of that it always does.  Sometimes I have to be patient that’s all.  There is more in store for me and I will keep that thought in my sorrow pocket for when I may need it and the rest is just inconvenient detail… and the Devil in there –  he can go to hell…

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You can find details about Max Power’s books here : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
http://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks
twitter @maxpowerbooks1
Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

 

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Just a shadow in a stranger’s eye… More than a feeling…

Just a shadow in a stranger’s eye… More than a feeling…

Very little creeps me out.  I’m good at writing stories to creep others out so maybe my imagination has already gone there.  Either way if a book or movie gives me the heebie-jeebies then it has to be good. People I meet can sometimes creep me out of course. On more than one occasion, I have been uncomfortable with the actions or comments of another, certainly enough to warrant me saying that they had creeped me out.  For the most part it was a small thing but on one occasion…

 A total stranger spoke to me as I disembarked from a train journey in Dublin.  I was on crutches at the time and while the man had been staring at me while I was on the train, I simply assumed it was because of my cast.  People on trains have a habit of staring I have found.  He came up to my shoulder, leaned in a little too close to be comfortable and said,

“I feel the cold of it.”

I was in the process of swinging my hobbled leg off the train in a busy station and I hadn’t expected anyone to talk to me.  It seemed such an odd thing to say in the middle of summer, that it caught me off guard and for a moment I thought I had misheard.  But my focus was on getting both crutches and one good leg, off the train and onto the relative security of the platform.  Once I secured myself, I shifted on my crutches so I could look at him.  He was a tall thin man dressed mostly in black with a long overcoat and unusually he wore a brown fedora.  There was nothing really wrong but something was just not right about him.  His face wore the life he had lived and I knew it had been hard, but he was clean and fresh looking, this was no vagrant tapping me up for money and his shoes shone like a sergeant major’s.

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“I know you’ve seen him.”

He almost whispered the words and touched my elbow very gently. The accent I thought was Irish, but there was something else in there too. I looked up at his face and beneath his disheveled beard; I could see his pock-marked skin.  He removed his hand when I looked at it, expressing my displeasure without words.  I don’t like strangers touching me.  People walked around us as though we weren’t there.  We were like a little invisible island in a sea of rush-hour bodies on that narrow crowded platform.

He straightened and looked beyond me, a dark shadow crossing his face as though he had seen something terrible or perhaps someone he was frightened of in the distance.  The strange, tall man even took a half step backwards, before leaning in once more.  It was most unlike me to entertain such an invasion of my privacy.  I can be a curt man when approached by strangers but I stood there and I didn’t move despite the closeness of his face to mine.  I detected the scent of oranges.

“Look at me.”  I knew he meant for me to look into his eyes and I began to feel rather strange. In that moment, I could feel ‘the cold of it’ too.  I shifted on my crutches.

“You feel it?”

I didn’t want to admit to this crazy stranger that I knew what he was talking about.  He held me with his eyes and for a moment, I saw a shadow man there.  It was nothing, an illusion, a trick of the light, but for a moment there was something … and then he straightened once more before repeating,

“I know you’ve seen him.”

… And then he was gone. He simply strode away and a chill overwhelmed me, ‘the cold of it’ for sure.  I looked back in the direction of the place I had seen him looking and for the briefest of moments, I thought I saw him there too, but that was impossible.

The crowd seemed to come to life again, as though all had been silent throughout our brief interaction, as though time had stood still and the noise of the station erupted in my ears with the sound of a diesel engine on the next platform.  The stranger had disappeared and I was suddenly in everyone’s way again. I was a cripple blocking their path, an inconvenience and an irritation, so I shuffled towards the side-lines to get out of the rush of people.

I never saw him again but I have felt ‘the chill of it.’  Time and life have swirled about me and for a long time I never knew what he meant.  But in recent times I have begun to understand what he meant.  He knew that I had ‘seen him’ or so he told me but I hadn’t of course.  I had no idea what he meant at the time.

But I remember his face and in particular his eyes.  I recall what I saw there and perhaps he was offering a portent of the future, for I have indeed ‘seen him.’ The shadow man of that stranger’s eye has been to visit with me on more than one occasion and the darkness of that encounter, the thing that creeped me out that day, came to be given depth by subsequent events in my life.

That thing for you…That thing that places you on edge, chills your spine or gives you the willies… Is it just the shadow in the corner of your eye in the dark of your room at night?  Is it the creak on the stair that keeps you listening and straining to hear it again, afraid to relax in case it really is more than just the wood expanding on the floor?  Is it the thought of a hand reaching out from beneath your bed to grab your dangling naked foot, or is it something more tangible, something perhaps real?  Could it be more than just a feeling?…

You can find details about Max Power’s books here : –
http://www.amazon.com/author/maxpower
https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com
http://facebook.com/maxpowerbooks
twitter @maxpowerbooks1
Universal book links
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood
http://getbook.at/Darkly-Wood-II
http://getbook.at/Little-Big-Boy
http://getbook.at/Larry-Flynn
http://getbook.at/Bad-Blood

 

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