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Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Nightmare to the Ring -- Chapter 2

The Story of Daniel

Monday, November 27, 1944

It was nearly supper time, and Ray opened the kitchen door just in time to hear Livy gasp. Her knees buckled as she gripped the edge of the sink to keep from falling to the floor.
"LIVY!!" He reached her before either of them believed it possible, scooping her up in his arms. He was alarmed to see how pale she was. He held her close, his heart thudding against his ribs in fright, as she slowly focused her eyes on his.
"What happened, Liv, is it--?"
"I think...it was just...this pain--"
"Pain!? Are you---"
"Ray, no, no...it's ok ..."

He carried her into the living room, his own legs shaking from what he had just witnessed. He gently put her on the couch and kneeling in front of her took her cold hands in his, rubbing them till he could feel warmth creeping back into them.
"Good Lord, Livy, I thought...I thought...hold on, I'll call Doc McCutcheon."
Livy had caught her breath, touched at Ray's reaction. She gripped his arm to stop him.
"Ray, it's all right. The doctor told me I would have these...these pre-labor pains of sorts. That was the first really hard one. It took my breath away, that's all." He stared at her incredulously.
"That's all?? It took 20 years off my life when I saw you! What do you mean--you've had these before? Livy, why didn't you tell me?"
"I've only had a couple, honestly. And they weren't that strong. This one just caught me off guard. Really, call Martha if you must, she'll tell you. They're completely normal."
Ray cupped her face in his hand and searched for a sign that she was hiding any pain or discomfort. Her cheeks were starting to pink up again, and she actually looked like she was fighting a smile. His eyes narrowed shrewdly.
"Ok...but from now on, I'm sticking close! There are plenty of things I can work on here in the house so you won't be by yourself."
"Whatever you say! Now, let me up so I can get supper?" She was feeling a little embarassed with his close scrutiny. She started to get up, thinking Ray would stand aside, when he sat down next to her.
"I know for a fact there's ham and soup in the icebox. I'll see to our supper in a bit. Just sit here with me, Livy? Least till I know for certain you're all right..." She sighed, knowing he would not give in on this until she did as he asked. So nodding her head, she leaned into his outstretched arm. He breathed a sigh of relief, grateful she agreed to let him hold her. He aimed to keep her there, calm and quiet, as long as he could. For a few minutes, the only sound was the radio playing softly in the kitchen. The sun was fading fast, and other than the low fire in the grate, the house was getting dark. Livy's hand was splayed across her tummy, and Ray laced his fingers with hers, comforted by the baby's movements.

"Did I ever tell you about the day Mama had Daniel?" He gave a low chuckle.
"Whew...guess all this is making me remember. I came home from school that day, and the house was sparkling, like Mama had polished the whole place. Martha was fixing dinner and she had a twinkle in her eye. Let's see...I'd just turned 10, so Martha was 16. Course, I was kept pretty much out of the loop. Oh, I knew the baby was coming, but Mama never let on that she so was close to her time. Anyway, she was upstairs resting and Daddy hustled me out to the barn with a whole list of things to do after my regular chores. I wasn't happy, but I sure didn't let him hear me grumbling..." Livy could feel Ray smile against the top of her head.

"It was only March; planting hadn't started yet. So...I was out there a few minutes when Martha brought me a glass of milk and a plateful of cookies. She said, 'The baby'll be here soon, Ray--just think! Oh, I hope it's a girl!' Well, I just laughed, 'cause of course, I was hoping for a little brother" Ray scooted over some, so Livy could settle against him more comfortably.

"Anyway, 'bout an hour later, I heard Daddy yellin' for me! I went running, and he's up here on the porch grinning, puffed up like an old rooster! I'm hollerin' --'what is it? what is it?' Daddy just laughed, 'Well, son, go on up and see for yourself!' I flew up the stairs--Martha shushing me all the way! When I peeked in at Mama, she smiled and waved me into their room. She handed me this little bundle of nothin', 'Ray, this is your brother Daniel' He was so tiny, Liv, with hair like new cornsilk! He just looked up at me with those big blue eyes. Well, I knew right then that he was mine to look after. Mama said as much to me that night. 'Ray, this little fella's gonna want to be just like you. I want you to remember that when he's following you around, pestering you in a few years--' she just smiled..." Ray was lost in his story, still seeing baby Daniel in his mind.
"It was like we were bonded in that moment, Livy. Me and Danny. Forever...."

Livy was touched by Ray's story, the way he smiled when talking about his family. This was the most he had ever shared with her and she was happy to hear him relive this special time. It also made her think that he would be comfortable when....if....she came back with the baby. She was drawn from her thoughts as Ray cleared his throat, as if he was a little embarassed at his emotional recollections.

"Here now, I'll get supper. You be all right?" She nodded. He gently removed his arm from around her and stood up, stretching a bit.
"Let me stoke the fire for you...." he threw a couple of logs on the embers. He turned and smiled, pausing to stroke her hair before he went into the kitchen. She leaned her head back, closed her eyes and listened to him humming to the radio as he put the tea kettle on. She had never been so content in her life, had never felt so nurtured. He was such a good man, and she knew he cared for her some, but she didn't want to be a burden, to make him feel he was duty bound to stay in this marriage. When she came here, she never dreamed she would fall in love with Ray Singleton! Now she can't imagine life without him, without this place, this family. She dreaded the thought of leaving here--and hoped she was strong enough to do so when the time came. Less than two weeks until the train would take her back to Denver. She knew she had to go, knew it would be best for Ray in the end. But she couldn't help wondering what God had planned for the three of them.

to be continued....


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Miracles - The Ghost (Installment 2)

Paul and Poppi have parted ways on a less than cordial note. Along comes a sweaty Paul running through the park and to the carousel where Evie and Matty are waiting for him.

They are expecting Alva (he’s bringing their paychecks), but jump on the carousel while they wait.

Evie asks Paul what he’s running from - he hesitates and looks at her as if to ask, How did you know? Paul tells her he is sad to be letting Father Calaro down and Evie lends a sympathetic ear. Some shy exchanges of eye contact between the two, particularly for Paul. He makes an effort to be cheerful.

Alva brings us back to reality by waiting with the ever stern look on his face. He hands over the paychecks and tells Evie and Matty “toodle-oo” as they head to the next ride (worth re-watching the scene to catch the toodle-oo). He reports to Paul that he’s learned of the MRI from the insurance company and wants to know if Paul is all right.

He tells Paul that some head injuries can lead to complications that an MRI might not reveal – a case in point is a man in Germany who thought he could communicate with is dead wife after suffering a head injury. Paul assures Alva that he is fine (and as he says this it reminds you of Ray telling Livy that he’s fine when she tells him he ought to dance), but Alva has obviously planted some new concerns in Paul’s mind. So much for feeling relieved by the test results - thanks Alva!

Alva brightens when he tells Paul of a new case - a haunting in Lowell, New Jersey - and presents Paul with his bus ticket.

And the dynamic duo of SQ is off to investigate once again – traveling in Greyhound style as usual. Once on the bus and amidst the sounds of a screaming baby, Paul asks “Can’t we ever fly?” and Alva scolds him with “Money doesn’t grow on trees, does it?” I’d say Cranky with a capital C, Alva!

Questions to be pondered:
Now, why would Alva go and burst Paul's bubble about favorable test results? I just wanted to smack him when Paul told Alva that he was fine and Alva proceeds to tell him that MRIs don't show all brain changes. I wonder if Alva is chronically unhappy and doesn't really want others to be happy either. What do you think?

When Paul greets Evie by the carousel, he wonders how she managed to talk Alva into bring their paychecks to them at the park. She says that she waved her overtime, but I have not really been able to figure out why Evie wanted Alva to do that - any thoughts?


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Miracles - The Ghost (Installment 1)

The Ghost begins in Lowell, New Jersey and quickly zeros in on Hill Ridge Realty – it’s night and Larry Kittrich is working late, apparently by himself. Suddenly a lamp brightens and explodes. The scissors and a letter opener, in a dance reminiscent of the utensils dancing to Be Our Guest during Beauty and the Beast, leap into action carving out a message on the desk. When they finish, the camera gives us a view of that message and it reads “I’m back.”

And it’s back to Boston, but not to SQ; rather, we are taken to Boston Hospital where Paul is about to enter the MRI tube (boxers, don’t you think?).

Afterwards, he’s with the doctor who is sharing his results. This discussion provides a whole bunch of rather delicious shots of Paul (I had to re-watch the scene in order to listen to what they said – too much visual distraction first time through!).

The doctor has good news and based on Paul's reaction, wonders if Paul had been counting on a diagnosis of a brain tumor or something dire. Paul tells the doctor that he’s had some “unusual experiences lately” and is looking for an explanation. When the doctor asks, “Mr. Callan, are you worried about your sanity?” Paul lowers his eyes and does not answer.

From the hospital, Paul is off to visit Poppi at the school. After a sweet exchange with one of the students who seems delighted to see Paul, Poppi appears and tells Paul that the Monsignor will allow him his old job back. Paul says that he doesn’t want it, but wants Poppi’s blessing to move on instead. Poppi tells Paul that he can’t give it and they part on a bad note.

For discussion:

In a past episode, Paul told Alva he was intending to leave SQ. He never did and seemed resigned to stay when at the end of that episode he inquired about the next case. I wondered if Paul thought to himself, "I'll stay on with SQ, but I'm going to have my head examined" and literally did so. Do you think the MRI results influenced Paul's decision to stay with SQ and not return to Poppi? I wondered if, having ruled out a brain tumor or other pathology, he decided he must stay with SQ to figure his circumstances out. What do you think?

Do you think the individual cases not connected to Paul's "gift" (such as St. Debbie) help keep Paul to committed to SQ or is it just the ones connected to the hemography and Tommy, etc.?


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Coming Soon...

A message from Skeet:

Okay, gang ... got my thinking cap on and it's time for you to do the same so you'll be ready for the next Miracles discussion, The Ghost. I promise you'll get a glimpse of my undies in this one so don't miss it!

Brought to you by P&P5 and jecorbin.


Friday, September 23, 2005

From the Nightmare to the Ring...

Previously, I wrote about the afermath of Livy's nightmare--I can't help but wonder what happened in the two weeks from then until she planned to leave.

Chapter 1 Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 23, 1944

Full and content after their delicious dinner, Hank and Ray settled down in the Stewart living room. Ruth was busy in the kitchen finishing the dishes, the boys were playing a game on the floor, and the radio was low. Martha had taken Livy upstairs, insisting she take a short nap. She thought Livy looked unusually tired, and remembered only too well how fatigued you could feel at this stage of pregnancy. Hank dozed off and Ray, his long legs stretched out towards the fire, was thinking about the events of the last couple days.

He thought about what happened when he had given Livy the letter. He had been so angry and hurt to know that Livy had written Edward. Not only that, he felt betrayed that she had not informed him of her marriage. Ray didn't realize that Livy was so unhappy being with him and living on the farm. Was there nothing she liked about him? He felt they had made some progress, and now this letter threatened to destroy the fragile relationship he had been trying to build with Livy. He was sorry about the harsh words they had exchanged yesterday, but he did not regret kissing her. He chewed his lip. He didn't know what to do now. For months, he had tried to show her how he felt about her, that he wanted her in his life. Last night he realized how upset Livy was, having that terrible nightmare. He was glad that he'd been able to comfort her, calm her, and finally get her back to sleep.

Then this morning while her pies were baking, she asked Ray if they could talk. She'd sat at the kitchen table, her hands folded in her lap, rarely looking up at him. She spoke quietly, without that spark she'd had since the first moment he met her. She looked resigned, defeated as she told Ray the whole story...why she had written to Edward and when she had stopped. She also told him what Edward's response had been, and Ray could see the pain and embarrassment this caused her. She asked if he had any questions, and Ray could only shake his head. He noted how pale she was, the shadows under her eyes. It took everything in him to sit and listen to her confession, hurting for her. And he was angry that Edward would dare insinuate that Livy had been promiscuous--what kind of man refused to acknowledge his child?

After she finished, he wanted to find the words to make her feel better. Most of all he wanted to gather her in his arms and hold her, telling her he would make everything all right. But he knew Livy better now, and that she would have to come to that realization on her own. Anything he said to her would only make her feel like he pitied her, that he felt obligated to honor their marriage agreement. The air hung heavy between them, but neither spoke of Edward or the letter again. Ray simply got up, squeezed her shoulders, and fixed her some tea. She rubbed her forehead and seemed relieved that finally, everything was out in the open.

Ray was brought back to the present when he saw Martha coming downstairs. She caught his eye, and motioned for him to join her in the parlor. She was twisting her hands in her lap as Ray sat across from her. He reached over to still her fidgeting.
"Sis? What is it?"
"Ray...I don't want to interfere. But, well, Livy came to see me last night. She was so upset. In fact, we sat right here and talked. She...she told me about the letter." Ray leaned forward in his seat, hands clasped between his knees, and sighed.
"It's ok, sis--she told me everything this morning." Martha let out the breath she had been holding.
"Oh, I am so glad...but what--?"
"I don't know, I don't know what she's gonna do. She's been saying she's going to Denver, to deliver our baby. But...I'm afraid if she does, she'll never come back. I don't think I can stand it if she leaves me." Martha reached over to pat Ray's arm.
"All you can do is show Livy how you feel. Have you told her that you love her?" Ray looked up in surprise, his mouth working, but unable to speak. Martha smiled ruefully.
"I thought as much! Ray, you've done all kinds of things for Livy, but all women want to be reassured of love, need to hear the words. Especially in Livy's case. She's been hurt, betrayed by the people who should have cared most for her. She's bound to be afraid to trust, afraid to give you her heart." Ray nodded. He knew Martha was right, he was just so frustrated! They continued to talk for a bit. After Livy came down from her nap, they stayed long enough for dessert and then headed home to their farm.

As he drove down the road, Ray stole quick glances at Livy. Her face was still flushed from sleep, and she stared out her window, into the night.
"You warm enough? I don't want you to get chilled, I can--"
"No, Ray, I'm fine....", never looking away from the glass.

As soon as they got back home, Livy said goodnight and went upstairs. Ray banked the fires, then sat at his desk, looking over the books. But it was useless, he couldn't concentrate. He thought back over his talk with Martha. He loved Livy with all his heart, and knew that God meant her to be his wife and mother of his children. He decided then and there that he would do everything he could to make her see that this was where she belonged.

(Pitchin' woo...)
The Friday after Thanksgiving dawned clear and cold. This was the slowest season on the farm, fields were dormant, and the few animals that Ray kept required little attention. Livy had been lost in her book, and it wasn't till late afternoon that she realized Ray had spent most of the day outside. She was a little puzzled, but after supper it became apparent what he had been up to.

Livy had just finished the dishes when she heard something outside. Leaning over the sink, she peered out the window into the dusk just as Ray pulled up to the house. She let out a squeal, quickly untying her apron when she saw what was waiting in the yard! Ray came through the door, knocking snow off his boots, a grin on his face.
"Come on, Liv! Let's go for a sleigh ride!" She laughed, going to get her coat, hat and gloves.
"Hold on, now..." Ray chuckled at her impatience when he insisted on bundling her into one of his heavy coats. As he helped her up into the sleigh, the horses were pawing the ground, their breath coming in soft, steamy snorts. They were anxious to go, and Livy was so excited! The horses took off at a trot, the bells on their harnesses jingling. It seemed like the sleigh was weightless as the runners glided over the snow, and the full moon made the night magical.

Ray reached across Livy and tucked a blanket closer around her legs. He wrapped his arm around her, and drawing her close, took the reins in hand again.
"Hey there, we can't have you getting cold!" His heart skipped, seeing her shining eyes and delighted smile, knowing he had made her happy.
"Oh, Ray, thank you for doing this! It's beautiful out tonight!"
"I thought you'd enjoy it--it's kind of a tradition--daddy'd always take mama out for a ride to celebrate the first snow of the season." As they crossed over the fields, Ray leaned closer to make comments now and then.
"See those lights over there? That's the Cooper place. Hard to believe we can see it from here, but it being so clear and all...And there? That's the lumberyard way out on Chestnut Road...." He even pointed out some of the constellations in the sky. Livy was just content to be cuddled safe and warm beside him as they continued their ride.

When they got back, Ray lifted her from the sleigh and saw her safely into the house before taking care of the rig. By the time he was finished getting the animals settled for the night, Livy had changed into her soft flannel gown and robe. She was just getting mugs out of the cupboard when Ray came back inside the kitchen. He sniffed the air when he hung up his coat, smiling at her as he rolled his sleeves to wash up.
"Mmm...I was thinking that some hot cocoa would hit the spot right now!"
"Well, I was thinking that was probably what your mama would do!" She turned from the stove to smile back at him. They took their cocoa into the living room, and sat side by side on the sofa. After a spell, Ray took Livy's mug from her and set it on the table beside him.
"Cm'ere...." He gently pulled her towards him, turning her slightly so she could stretch out across his lap.
"This seemed to help last night, and if it keeps you relaxed, we oughtta make it a habit, right?" She gave a low murmur of relief as he began to gently rub her back. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world to slip her hand into his, resting her head in the crook of his arm. For the longest time, neither of them spoke, content just to be together in front of the fire. As they watched the logs crackle and hiss, there were sparks of hope flaring in two hearts.

to be continued...


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hand of God (Final Installment)

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Like many people who have viewed the Hand of God episode, I have given plenty of thought to some hidden meaning behind Tommy, the darkness, the voice, Chad Goodwell, God is Nowhere, and God is Now Here. And, as you could probably tell through my other installments, I didn’t take things so lightly. In fact, I think it took less time for me to research and write my Master’s thesis!

In the Hand of God episode, we are brought to a world that is extremely difficult to understand. As I stated in an earlier installment, there is a very deep structure to it. There is so much to piece together that I was constantly looking for signs of how things were connected and how to interpret those connections. For example, all the blood, the rain, the thunder, the lightning, the church bells, the hemography files, the music (Apple of Sodom), the characters, the dreams, the murders, Sodalitas Quaerito, and let’s not forget, Mango! (By the way, for those of you who didn’t catch the episode…Mango was a nickname given to Alva by his mom when he was a young boy. Alva told Paul that Mango was a bloodhound from a children’s book.)

According to Tommy, the “darkness” wants everything. That’s what led me to think of the quote, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (This quote is from the New Testament of the Bible, Mark 8:36.) By gaining everything, the darkness is trapped within its own prison. It can never leave this dark realm but it can find ways to continue the pattern of evil by bargaining for the souls of others.

Chad Goodwell is one such example of a person who lost his soul to evil. When he was unable to satiate evil with the murder of Kenneth Webster, he surrendered his soul and entered the realm of perpetual darkness. I think that “the voice” he heard was evil pretending to be God and that’s how he was trapped. No way out!

That leads to another thought. Why these six people? I think these six people have been receiving messages/signs that mention Paul Callan because there is someone who is trying to reach him. Couldn't that person be his father? Isn't it possible that his father bargained with evil and is trapped within the realm of its darkness? Isn’t it possible that Paul has been chosen to save him? There's much to think about.

Thank you for giving me the floor for this episode. I know it was a difficult one to muddle through, and the dark nature of it may not have been as entertaining as some other fare. I believe that this episode is key to the story arc of the Miracles series which so much of us enjoy. So, hopefully it’s been worth the effort.

A very special “thank you” goes to Skeetrfan for all her encouragement to persevere through this episode.

Skeet Dreams, everyone!

P.S. By the way, Skeet enjoyed New Jersey very much. I'll tell you two things...we danced to "Jersey Girl" sung by Bruce Springsteen; and, before he left, I let Skeet plant some beans in my garden; afterall, this is the Garden State!


Monday, September 19, 2005

Peace Will Find a Way - Part 2 of 2

The afternoon passed quickly. Danny napped as Livy busied herself in the kitchen. She read over the recipe one more time. She stared at the ingredients in her bowl. They looked close enough she thought. Livy had attempted this one before and could manage a simple meatloaf for dinner.

The radio played in the background, but no urgent bulletins as yet. She gave Franklin a wink and dug her hands in to knead the meat mixture. The Andrews Sisters came on with one of her favorites and she sang along “Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me….anyone else but me…..anyone else but me……no, no, no.” Franklin, ever hopeful, sat by anxiously licking his chops.

Around 3pm the radio station broke in with a special address from President Truman. “Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. ………..”

Livy wiped her hands and walked to the front room. She turned up the radio and dropped down to the sofa. The President continued his statement; highlighting this new atomic technology, the magnitude of it’s destruction, and the ultimatum that had been issued to the Japanese leader’s weeks ago. The Secretary of War spoke of an installation down near Santa Fe that helped produce the weaponry.
Livy was stunned and clutched her dishtowel in front of her mouth. “…it destroyed the entire city….” she muttered “…a single bomb”. She closed her eyes and thanked God that He saw fit to give this power to the Allies. How could Japan continue to fight against a weapon so powerful?

She hurried to the phone and called Abby. No answer. She replaced the receiver and returned to the front room.

It seemed like forever before Ray returned home. She ran toward him, bursting with the news.

“Did you hear?” she gasped “An atomic bomb!”

“I know, I know” he replied. He wrapped his arms around her, cradling the back of her head with his hand.

Could it really be true that the end was in sight and peace was just around the corner? They fixed their dinner plates, choosing to eat in front of the radio, riveted on any news from Washington or the Far East.

They talked with amazement about the bomb. It was now clear that civilians, not just Japanese soldiers, had been killed by Japan’s refusal to surrender. Livy wondered what kind of leaders would sacrifice their own women and children. Ray wondered how President Truman had struggled with the enormity of this decision. Taking such a bold action surely required a man of strong conviction. His decision would certainly spare the death and maming of thousands of young American men. He offered up a silent prayer of strength for the president and one for those who had been sacrificed for the sake of war.

The phone rang and Livy sprang from the sofa to answer. It was Abby! They spoke with excitement over Kent’s eminent return. Abby was on cloud nine. The war would be over soon and she would have her husband and her life back. She reported that revelers in Denver were toasting certain victory. Throngs of people roamed the streets whooping and hollering; drinking beers in celebration. Livy was so happy for her sister. Soon families everywhere would be reunited.

The next few days flew by. The radio blared constantly in the house. Livy and Danny made a point to be down by the mailbox on the rural route everyday to meet the postman. He was an abundant source of information and carried news from all around the county. No word yet from Guy’s son, Glenn. All assumed he was on a ship somewhere in the south pacific, but mail was always stalled until they reached port.

News soon came that a second bomb had been dropped on the city of Nagasaki. Japan was reeling from the devastation. Within days the Japanese government announced their intent for unconditional surrender. It was over – it was really, finally, going to be over.

As a matter of routine Livy would ride into La Junta every other Friday to trade books at the library. With events moving so rapidly she was especially anxious to get to town and see the excitement for herself. La Junta was a far cry from the big city bustle of Denver, but as cities went this one was the biggest for miles. Even Ray found it hard to resist all the hoopla and elected to ride along on this trip. He quickly went about his chores that Friday and they headed out after lunch.

They arrived early afternoon and stopped at their favorite café for pie and coffee. The place was buzzing with customers. Everyone was chattering about loved ones finally coming home. Infectious optimism filled their conversations. There was a real sense of gayety in the air. The waitress refilled their coffees and tickled Danny under his chin as she scooted on to the next table.

Ray and Livy found themselves caught up in the whirlwind of excitement. Uncharacteristically, Ray began to share plans to expand the farm. His eyes twinkled as he talked about new tires, taking on new land, and hiring help to maintain the larger farm. He reached across the table and held her hand. Livy was amazed at how much thought he had already put to the plans. His ambitions pleased her very much and she nodded in agreement as he ticked off his list of post-war improvements.

When he finished they were silent for a few moments. She squirmed in her chair considering how she might raise the subject of some family expansion of her own. The words would not come. She opened and shut her mouth so often she feared Ray might think her a lake trout. Oh why did she find this so difficult to say out loud? Instead she raised her coffee in a salutary gesture. They clinked their cups, toasting their future plans.

They made their rounds, visiting the library and a few shops. It was a glorious time and the sidewalks were filled with people. The hours passed quickly and soon it was nearly sunset. With an hour’s drive ahead of them, they reluctantly climbed in the truck to head for home. Ray drove and Livy leaned up next to him. Danny soon nodded off and Livy stretched him out across the seat, resting his head on her lap. They bumped along listening to the wind rush by the open windows. The summer air was warm and the stars lit up the night sky. In just a week’s time the world had changed dramatically. The future, once again, seemed bright. Ray and Livy glanced over at each other and down at their son. They smiled. Their world was a peaceful place filled with joy and laughter.

Franklin woofed as they pulled up the drive. Livy shushed him as she climbed out of the truck, giving him a friendly rub on the head. Ray carried Danny up. He was sleeping soundly, so they simply lay him in his crib as not to wake him. It had been such a wonderful day. Livy went in to wash her face.

The bedroom was dark when she emerged from the bathroom. She tiptoed in and slipped into her nightgown. As her eyes adjusted she could make out Ray’s shape in the bed. She quickly brushed out her hair and crawled between the covers. His long, lean form was warm to her touch. Ray pulled her close. Her skin was soft and smelled like Camay. She ran her hand across his flat stomach and rested her face against his smooth chest. She loved how close he felt here in the darkness.

“Ray”, she whispered “I’ve been thinking……….”

“Uh huh" he whispered back "..... wonder if it’s the same thing I’ve been thinking.”

She grinned at his playfulness. “I guess that depends on what you’re thinking…..” she teased.

“Well..........I’ve been thinking....... that you make a fine mother”

“That's interesting................" she acknowledged slowly ".............because I’ve been thinking that you sure make an awfully good daddy”.
She waited.
He rolled over on his side, his face very close to hers. “So, are you thinking what I’m thinking?” he asked.

“You bet”.


Peace Will Find a Way - Part 1 of 2

Livy finished up the dishes, wiped her hands and walked into the front room. Ray sat on the sofa, listening intently as the radio reported out the war news. The clear evening allowed for a strong signal, but the news was not good. More American casualties. While victory seemed certain in Europe, the battle in the Pacific raged on. She sat down on the sofa and swung her feet up onto the cushion. Her feet gently touched Ray's leg. He reached over and gave the tops of her feet a pat. His hand felt warm. She marveled at how strong and sturdy his hands looked. She felt very safe sitting next to Ray. She thought about how different her life would be if she had not come to this farm - this life - this man. Denver seemed a million miles away and she had begun to like it that way. Ray glanced over at her. His face looked drawn and tired. She swung her feet to her opposite side and leaned against him.

"Won't this war ever end?" she sighed.

"Something's got to give. We can't continue losing boys like this."

Livy registered a break in Ray's voice. She was certain the news tonight had reminded him of his brother, Daniel and the horrible losses at Pearl Harbor.

"Glenn Huntley, Guy's boy, is in the Philippines. Guy says they're gearing up for another offensive - maybe headed for Japan." Ray shared.

"How old is Glenn?"

"Too young."

Ray's mood was somber and Livy leaned in closer, resting her head on his shoulder, giving it a small kiss as she did. The news soon ended and the radio station resumed musical selections. Livy was grateful for the sounds of the orchestra and hoped that Ray would be able to relax and let go of the dark thoughts. The war was exhausting. Even President Roosevelt had succumbed. She recalled that spring morning when the news of his death had been broadcast. For hours news of his stoke was relayed by reporters from Warm Springs, GA. She sat huddled next to the radio as his condition became graver. Ray had come in for lunch when the news finally came that FDR was dead. The only president she had ever really known was gone. What would become of the country?

There was barely a family in the area that had not been tragically touched by this horrible war. She thought of Abby's husband, his tour of duty extended, and sent up a silent prayer for his safety.

Livy awoke to find Ray gently shaking her. The music had lulled her to sleep. She wiped her mouth and stood up. Ray had already closed up the rest of the downstairs and now just a light at the stairwell burned. They made their way up the stairs, stopping to peek in at little Danny sleeping in his room. His face looked so serene. She smiled at what a handful he would be tomorrow morning. She could stand there forever and gaze at his beautiful face.

Livy felt weary and changed into her nightgown. She tossed her dress and slip over the chair back, vowing to hang them up tomorrow. Livy slid into the bed. Ray already lay on his back, his eyes closed and his breathing shallow. She lightly touched his hair, gently smoothing it to the side. She was grateful to see him so peaceful and hoped that these few hours of rest would renew him. His love for his brother ran so deep. She often wondered how scarred Daniel's death had actually left Ray. They both were certainly damaged by the events of war time, yet together, life was as wonderful as she had ever known. Livy gently kissed Ray's forehead and wiggled down under the covers. Within minutes she was fast asleep.

When she awoke, Ray was already gone. Danny was sounding off, letting her know with all certainty that the day had begun. She changed him which seemed to stop most of the squawking. She hitched him up on her hip and headed downstairs for his breakfast. He understood the routine and was quiet while she assembled the necessities. Danny was a hearty eater and she had started him early on solids. Selfishly she longed for rest and the addition of foods satisfied him more than just milk. A happy baby made for a happy mama. Livy smiled proudly at how she was coping with motherhood, taking great satisfaction in raising their child. Danny was a complete fascination to her and she delighted in watching him learn.

The more days she spent with Danny, the more she realized how much she loved watching him evolve. Maybe teaching was her calling after all? Although she loved school and the challenge of higher learning, she had to admit that something as simple as a child saying the dog's name thrilled her just as much. She smiled at her thoughts of adventure in far away places. Maybe someday.

She could feel herself changing. It all felt good, but how different her thinking had become. She smiled remembering how Ray's mention of "you and the children" had panicked her not so long ago. Although they were not always careful, she and Ray did their best to avoid having another baby too soon. She blushed at how embarrassing that discussion had been. She was grateful for the darkness of the bedroom that night as they considered how to best control the outcome of their lovemaking. She smiled at her own shyness. How can you be so intimate with a man and yet not be able to talk about such things in the light? They had been lucky so far, yet each month Livy found herself experiencing an array of emotions. More often she had been thinking about the possibility of another baby.

Cooking was still a challenge, but she was slowly improving. She enjoyed the large scale of the canning process. It reminded her of a science project and she embraced putting up stocks with gusto. She just couldn't seem to muster much interest for the daily ritual. Livy could plan the meals, do the shopping and do much of the upfront preparation; however this is when her interest usually waned. Ray had turned out to be very handy in the kitchen. They had fallen into a predictable routine. Both waited anxiously for Danny to squall. This was Livy's cue to get him squared away with his dinner. Ray would take the opportunity to jump in and help with their dinner, assembling the finished product. Although never verbalized, they both knew this was the best solution to getting something edible on the table. Her days were certainly more hectic since the baby's arrival, but their life together just seemed to get easier each day. The silences that had seemed awkward in the beginning now were reassuring. No words needed to be spoken. A smile, a wink across the dinner table spoke volumes about how they felt about each other.

Livy wiped Danny's hands and mouth, and then put him on the floor to explore. Danny made a bee line for the dog, reaching for Franklin's tail. Franklin jumped to his feet and let out a whimper. Livy smiled down at her old pal and opened the screen door. Franklin quickly scooted out.

"You're not off the hook. I'll see you after nap time" she hollered out after him.

Livy went about gathering up the morning clutter. Ray's dishes were already in the sink. She was filling the basin to wash them when the phone rang. She shut the faucet off and headed toward the hall.

"Are you listening to the news"? Abby blurted.

"News? No, Danny and I just finished breakfast." Livy shared

"Turn on the radio. Something's up and it's going to be big."

"What is it? What's going on?" Livy quizzed.

"The President is going to make an announcement today. Keep your ears open. I'm headed downtown. I have to go". She clicked off.

“Abby?” Livy looked at the receiver and hung up the phone. She walked over and switched on the radio. The day’s weather and crop report was being recapped on the local station. Livy rolled her eyes and turned the volume down low.

Household chores occupied her and Danny throughout the morning. Due to the August heat she kept him in just a diaper. She appreciated summer time and how it minimized the loads of laundry. She scooped up Danny and swung him to her hip. She walked out on the porch to see if she could tell where Ray was working today. Dejected, she saw that the BeetBox was gone.

Livy looked at Danny. “Well, looks like it’s just us today, kiddo. Let’s fix a sandwich and picnic out back on the blanket”. Danny squealed and kicked his feet with enthusiasm.

They were enjoying a little sunshine when Livy heard the truck pull up. She hollered out to Ray and he came around the side of the house. He smiled at the sight of his family basking in the sun light; he reached down and picked up Danny, holding him high in the air over his head. Livy beamed at her boys. She offered the remaining half of her tuna sandwich to Ray. He took it and ate heartily, tossing the last bite of crust in the air. Franklin jumped and snatched it up in mid-air. Livy eyed Ray and he shrugged his shoulders, having violated his own rule about feeding the dog. Livy just grinned. Ray was sweet to the core.

“Abby called this morning. She said there might to be some sort of announcement today.”

Ray shifted Danny to his left side and turned to look at Livy. “I heard that too. I was in Wilson this morning. Some folks there from New Mexico. Talk is that the end of the war may be close”.

“Oh Ray. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if that were true?”

“Uh huh.” Ray’s gaze seemed to drift as if he were deep in thought. “Getting our guys home would mean everything to us and this farm.” He squatted down and placed Danny back on the blanket. He looked into her eyes now. “Livy just wait until you see this place then. This farm can be a real producer. I’ve got to get going. I just stopped by to let you know about the news.”

Livy reached over and kissed him. She placed both her hands on his face and held him there close as she slowly pulled back. She looked deep into his eyes and smiled. She started to speak, but really didn’t know what she wanted to say. How could she possibly express how much he had come to mean to her? She planted a small peck his lips and he rose to head back to the truck.

“I’ll see you tonight” he said as he swatted the dirt from the back of his pants.

**********************To Be Continued******************************


Hand of God (Installment #6)

Episode Six: Hand of God

Installment #6: Darkness, Reign O’er Me

Ode to the Young Man

He enters like the darkness in an unlit room
Bringing only things that lead to his doom.
There may have been a time when he had tried
To stop all those harms that led him to die.

But there was no one calling from the other side
To reach up for the light.
So nothing could prevent him
From taking this hellish flight.

Each plan was made, the traps set well
There was no better way to enter hell.
His cry was heard at the very end
Sadly, his parents’ pain may never mend.

He would yell out…

Hate me, oh please, hate me some more,
I never want to find the way to open up this door.
Hate me, oh please, I need to feel the pain.
I made a deal with the devil
Now I live under his reign.

Lost in the world of consequences for bad decisions, our young man becomes a sympathetic character. The poem above is an attempt to perceive his turmoil.
It is less complicated to understand the reason “Apple of Sodom” was used as the backdrop in this episode when we juxtapose the journey of the young man with some of the lyrics of the song. It’s all familiar…temptation, wrongdoing, coveting things you cannot have, feeding the fire…selling your soul! Never a happy ending when dealing or bargaining with evil…no matter what precious form it takes… “a beautiful but rotten fruit.” One bite provides the poison that is the key to eternal despair and doom. (Good Grief! Or should it be, Bad Grief?)

The next scene opens with Paul blankly staring ahead while the hospital doctor cleans his facial wounds. The doctor explains that the iron that was used to hit him and Mr. Webster was made of graphite, thus being at least three pounds lighter than the irons of yesteryear. Paul, concerned about Mr. Webster, asks how he is doing. He finds out that Mr. Webster is in intensive care and is alive because of him.

On his way out, Paul decides to check in on Mr. Webster. As he stands in the doorway, he looks as if he is pondering something. His hand covers his mouth; then suddenly, he walks over to the snoring Kenneth Webster, briskly whips out a pillow from behind his back, and begins to suffocate him! Mr. Webster struggles the best he can to fight him off, but to no avail. Paul eagerly watches the vital stats on the monitor as they weaken and whispers to him, “Let go…”

Just as the flat lines appear on the monitor, the attending doctor storms into the room to stop Paul from killing Mr. Webster.

Then the scene switches back to Paul standing in the doorway with his hand over his mouth. (Whew! We knew he didn’t have it in him!)

Next, we’re taken to the office of Sodalitas Quaerito. Alva is sitting on the steps reading when he hears the door open. He lifts his head to find Paul entering the room and walking toward him. After telling Paul that it was healthy he had taken a few days off, he comments about the young man’s suicide. He asks if there was any conversation between them before he killed himself. (A little self-conscious here? Or just curious?)
When Paul tells him there was some conversation between them, Alva immediately asks what was said. But, Paul, obviously not willing to reveal the details, tells Alva, “Nothing. He was out of his mind.” (Suspicious minds here.)

The question now is whether Paul wishes to remain with Sodalitas Quaerito. Paul tells Alva straightforward that he hasn’t made the decision to stay. Then, he asks Alva…”So what have you got?”

The episode ends with the two men discussing the details of a Roshi from Rhode Island who levitates.

My Thoughts…

Journeys. Paul Callan has certainly been on a roller coaster ride that is even longer, faster, and more frightening than Millennium Force at Cedar Point Amusement Park.
I find it truly amazing how resilient he is throughout this episode. There seems to be so much pain in so many forms for all of the characters. Yet, like a true hero, Paul is on a journey to find meaning in his life; and, along the way faces many challenges that test his willingness to question, to conquer, or to just accept things the way they are.
Your Thoughts…
· Other than the fact that Paul may not trust Alva, why would he withhold the details of the conversation he had with Chad Goodwell?
· Why doesn’t Alva have the names of the three other people who are “out there?”
· This episode is very “Paul” centered. What are your thoughts about Skeet’s portrayal of his character? How does one prepare for something like this?

*Screen Caps by Skeetrfan.
Next installment…The Wrap-Up.