The Fairy Tale was merely propaganda...
By the time she was middle aged, Cindy Peterson had resigned to being terminally lost. Despite hers being a life of accomplishment and self-determination, it was also filled with the hollow echo of empty. She could find no family or even a remote relative anywhere on the planet. She knew little of her beginning other than hers was an unintended life without a sense of belonging or direction.
One evening her daily monotony is interrupted by a visit of something or someone quite unexpected. It is an image of beauty, youth, and confidence and perhaps holds tight to all the hopes and dreams Cindy had abandoned so long ago.
Later, a chance encounter with an unlikely healthcare prodigy introduces her to an overlooked world of people living on little more than hope. Along the way she realizes that once she abandons the search for her lost past, the most important answers to her future find her. And ultimately, she recalls how once upon a time she did believe in happily ever after.
… some people are best defined as God’s houseplants. They are granted the right to live but are delegated to a secondary and restricted existence. Unlike the strong bonds of family, their shallow roots have no ability to reach out and touch the community of humanity just beyond the stained glass.
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This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author's imagination or are use fictitiously.
Table of Contents
Without Beginning 3
Rainy Days and Mondays - Karen Carpenter 3
There’s got to be a Morning After – Maureen McGovern 6
Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac 7
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John 9
Let’s Do the Time Warp Again – Rocky Horror Picture Show 11
Forever Young – Bob Dylan 13
Soul Man – Sam & Dave 18
If You Like Pina Coladas – Jimmy Buffett 19
Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen 21
The Long and Winding Road – John Lennon & Paul McCarty 24
Just My Imagination – The Temptations 26
Me and Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin 31
Operator – Can You Help Me Place this Call – Jim Croce 35
Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Norah Jones 38
A Day in the Life - Beatles 46
Make Your Own Kind of Music – Cass Elliot 48
Lean on Me – Bill Withers 51
You Are the Sunshine of my Life – Stevie Wonder 55
Piano Man – Billy Joel 62
Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding 69
She’s Not There - Zombies 75
Over the River and Through the Wood - Lydia Maria Child 78
All My Life’s a Circle – Harry Chapin 81
I suppose it is unusual to start anything in the middle. However, the truth is this story had no beginning for 50 plus years. While some may find difficulty in comprehending such a quandary, others could argue starting in the middle makes the most sense. In the truest sense, none of us knows our ending and today may indeed be the start of a path to something extraordinary.
At any rate, what little I knew of my younger years generally consisted of
unsung heroes and endless hard work in a dirt-colored existence. They endured hardship, longed for salvation in faraway imaginary places, and with the help of a bit of unexplained magic, expected to be granted their wish. Likewise, for many of my formative years, I whole-heartedly believed in my "fantasy right" of being appreciated for my efforts and living happily ever after.
So I worked hard and allowed deadlines to invade sleep and chase dreams into dark recesses as others claimed every shred of joy for themselves. Later, I came to realize there was no rainbow to call your own. "Magic" does not happen as a reward for the sacrifice of sleepless nights and loneliness. It was all just another fairy tale after all.
Furthermore, growing up without any influence of family felt as if I had been absent mindedly left behind in the wrong place or time. I was a guest intruder needing too much attention from the coerced kindness of others. My dreams, aspirations, and the intangible dimension of emotion were discarded long ago to lighten the load between the temporary stops on the way to nowhere in particular.
Now as a fully functional and responsible adult, unencumbered by the whimsical misdirection of youth, and with ample analytical wits, my adventure to tie the past and future together begins armed with one, at least somewhat realistic, directive.
Have no fear; allow no guilt; and immerse your soul in the music only you hear.
Rainy Days and Mondays – Karen Carpenter
Why in the world does anyone need so many days? I cannot remember (perhaps thankfully) one one-hundredths of them. Is it really like nature to give you ample time without purpose or consent for that matter? At times, it has the same feeling as getting lost in the endless array of stars above. After all, like endless days, they are just exist and do not ask why or bother trying to be anything other than what they are. Their only purpose seems to be to amuse some humans stranded on a rock in some obscure corner of magnificent awesomeness.
And so where my thoughts when I met her one night appearing apparently out of nothingness - right here in my living room during the third quarter of Indianapolis versus Houston Monday night football game. Everything was poetic and simultaneously bizarre in the entire presence of this glowing image. I was both questioning my own sanity and enjoying the spectacle too much to pursue the logic hiding behind it. Which was an odd thing in itself. Despite readily determining this was likely a hallucination, I decidedly preferred that new order of existence to my present preconceived definition of generic reality.
Perhaps a parallel universe of fantasy was actually only a thought away - something that has always existed nearby - similar to the sound only dogs can hear. Besides, the meager remnants of my former self currently had only one thing to say, "What the hell, go with it."
However, I remained with an intriguing mystery. Who is this person? How did she get into my house? Where does she come from? What was the sense of awe that she transmitted into my brain without effort? And why, why, why was she here?
As I stood there mesmerized, I lost all concern for what I must have looked like. It was if my entire essence had been consumed by this being unlike anything I had previously encountered. She was beautiful, young, confident, and floating – and blocking my view of the televised football game. None of which I questioned at the time. Furthermore, there were what appeared to be millions of miniature fireflies circling around her in random orbits of gleeful merriment. Her movements flowed with the gentile grace as a tender breeze played in her curled dark tresses. In every sense of every word, she was totally unlike my disciplined self, yet I could not help but think she represented a part of me that had been in a coma for so many years. Looking into her soft hazel eyes there was this creative endless child of the ages. She was wisdom of wonder with an amusing disregard for the productivity models of corporate human bondage.
I thought her as something I had never seen before while I also recognized an instantaneous biological compatibility perhaps only felt by clones or maternal twins. Maybe, she was a compilation of all my discarded dreams. Maybe she lives at the edge of slumber before reality takes shape and thoughts are given free reign to roam endlessly throughout all time.
Maybe this image of embodied freedom before me is someone I should know well. If I do not know her well, I plan to become her best friend. Because without a doubt this image has come home after a long journey where most thought she had died while others questioned if she ever existed at all.
As for me, there was no doubt. As the Indianapolis Colts trampled the Houston Texans into the turf on my widescreen TV, a gaggle of miniature fireflies hummed a beguiling rendition of “Fly Me to the Moon.” I realized that I had indeed just encountered a product of some wayward DNA that had gone missing from myself long ago.
Admittedly, it is not every day that you encounter a part of yourself that you lived without for so long. Of course, there is no remote justice in the fact that the young, beautiful, confident, serene parts were all together when blown off the soul by some cataclysmic maladjusted mayhem. Or perhaps it is that people only tend to see what they want to see. That may hold some justification if it were not for the fact that this entire event was indeed witnessed by others. Granted, the others in this case were of a feline variety and not prone to being coherently verbal or conversationally engaging. Nor do they have the ability due to lack of opposing thumbs to even contribute by way of taking pictures, asking for autographs, or calling the local newspaper to set up an interview.
Then there comes the dilemma of what to say to your assumed wayward relative self after decades of abandonment and disregard. I was quite conflicted among and beyond the entire spectrum of emotions from igniting a flamethrower to surrendering to her presence. After an immeasurable amount of time - time without meaning or structure - the original questions returned. Who is this person? How did she get here? Where did she come from? How was it that she was communicating to me without words and most importantly, why was she here and why now?
Surely, I must be caught in that formless abyss between sleep and wakefulness that gave birth to a fictional phantom of my fairy tale daughter. Without a doubt, it must be well past my usual bedtime.
There’s got to be a Morning After – Maureen McGovern
The blinding light assaulted my previously closed and not responsive eyelids. I awoke to find the sun well on its way into the morning and two of my four famished cats intently staring at me in hungered anticipation.
Certainly, I had been working too hard. The image of the alien apparition of the previous night was simply fabrication. Perhaps it was a bit of wishful thinking by someone who chronically overdoses on a Spartan reality. Nonetheless, it made for an interesting dream and perhaps someday a story of fiction by a stimulus-deprived person. Besides, it seemed to have its genesis in a fanciful advertisement I wrote years ago:
Position wanted –
Goddess of the universe to:
Grace sparkling sands of isolated beaches,
Soar amid tropical breezes upon an unbridled Spirit,
Caress gentle sunbeams of glowing contentment,
And echo a melody of enchantment forever.
I thought it would not be a bad job to have and one she certainly seemed tailor-made to accomplish.
Without much further thought I mentally filed the event into an obscure area beneath forgotten fantasies with no future before getting up and feeding the cats. By this time in the morning, thoughts of cannibalism were becoming foremost on their little minds. They stared at my slumbering body wondering when it would become justified to pounce upon me without mercy.
What was left of the morning was indeed bright and beautiful. Most of the birds had long since given up on their daily morning chattering. But a cacophony of other yammering animals and lawnmowers joined a completely ignored alarm clock that had been apparently demanding my attention for the past two and one half hours.
What a way to start a day. It is not everyday I have the opportunity to sleep through an interesting dream until I woke up (without the rude and intrusive nature of a masochistic alarm clock). It was a beautiful day of clear blue with the sheerest white gossamer scarf splayed across the zenith and dotted with birds drifting gentle lazy loops. Vibrant color dappled the view of the crisp October air from my bedroom window.
In short, it was too glorious a day to be sacrificed for the betterment of ungrateful others. Not to mention, how in the world would I explain the two and a half hour tardiness. Certainly there is no way I could discuss with anyone regarding my virtual visitor (now officially categorized as a dream) of the past evening. Some things are just beyond the comprehension of others. Some things are just best left unshared and unexplored.
Besides, I am not sure which is worse, the fear of exploring new dimensions or the discomfort associated with the close-mindedness of others. Perhaps this is a common concern among those diagnosed (and perhaps incorrectly so) with a litany of mental illnesses.
So I decided that begging forgiveness outweighed asking permission and borrowed from a past truth. I called in to the office stating that I needed to take the day off secondary to a blazing migraine that resulted in me finally getting to sleep at 4:30 this morning. I told the receptionist I felt as if I had been placed into clothes dryer and tumbled all night. All of which had been an absolutely valid statement at some point in my past.
What I needed today was just to get away as far as I dared without planning or structure, without rationale, without thought. Car keys and purse. Out the door. I seriously wanted to drive with my eyes closed so nothing external could influence my direction or destination. I wanted to experience the art of allowing life to take me where I wanted to go. To the moon. I wanted to stay away long enough to soak my soul within a starlit sky and feel the embrace of God.
How could a life so full of accomplishment, discipline, and self-determination be so empty and simultaneously filled with such an enormous dose of lost? That ongoing background noise became the mission to drown out today. First, perhaps I needed to pay some attention to what I was wearing.
Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
Being female and sharing a solitary life with four cats leads to the lowest common denominator of comfort. Without worrying about my appearance or the perceptions of nonexistent others, it is easy to take the shortcut to perhaps a less civilized and more functional life - which may indeed be more in alignment with what nature had intended for human beings to begin with. At least that is my story.
My leftover attire from last night is such an example. I was wearing navy blue sweatpants for the third time over since the last wash, a Jake T-shirt, slightly mismatched socks, and what had started out 18 hours ago as a ponytail for convenience reasons. Any hint of makeup was sparse to begin with and now smeared. I like living my life to please myself, to make it cozy and to answer my own inner requests. Miss Manners does not make any guest appearances here especially not in the evening, when I am guzzling Diet Coke directly from a two-liter bottle that lives on the bottom shelf of my organized but somewhat less than sterile refrigerator.
Nonetheless, it is a bit unusual for me to sleep in such an outfit. I was surprised to find that situation. Playing back the events of the previous evening produced nothing more than a black void. I recall going for a usual evening walk and enjoying the pristine weather. I remember coming home to a can of soup and a cup of decaf with flavored creamer and topped with a bit of whipped cream. I remember the televised football game and checking my fantasy football players for an anticipated ‘tromping’ of my weekly office co-worker opponent. I even made some last-minute changes of a wide receiver and defensive player and parted ways with two hopelessly injured players.
I also recall sitting on the couch with my coffee in one hand and a half read book in another. The book is bizarre but playful spoof and one quite out of the ordinary for the likes me. The story provides quite an escape outside the realm of nonfictional facts of which I am much more accustom. The story deals with an air traffic controller who is confronted quite unexpectedly by God. Ultimately God turns out to be an alien species who is here to warn the world of an impending volcanic eruption at Yellowstone. The air traffic controller is then led on a twisted adventure through a not-too-distant future as God morphs into unlikely characters. Actually, it is an entertaining and funny story and a great way to spend time away from reality (Kilner, 2008).
I remember all that, so why is it that I cannot put together any details of how I got to bed wearing daytime clothes and why I slept so far beyond my usual and highly programmed routine? Even when I become ‘obsessed’ with some thought, concept, idea, project, topic, design, whatever, and do not get to bed until three or four o’clock in the morning, I never, ever sleep until 9 AM. I can only conclude that it is not within my internal wiring and capabilities to do so.
Granted, I am a cheap drunk. It does not take much for my body to lose all significant connection with anything upstairs - or my feet for that matter. Maybe the coffee flavoring last night was actually Mike’s Hard Lemonade or some homemade Kahlua or B&B. Between what I was reading in the book and any liquid persuasion in the form of an adult beverage maybe that can explain the visiting image afterward.
In short, I recall nothing after her visit - or of her leaving. Yet another disturbing discovery was that the back door to my home cottage in the woods was left unlocked and open. Perhaps my visitor made her entry and exit from there? Fortunately, the cats did not have the cognitive wherewithal to implement their long planned and sought after escape from their imprisoned lives within my walls. Maybe it was the fear of darkness or the ominous sounds of various wildlife nearby. More likely it was that they were like myself - totally unaware of the situation. Nonetheless, taking extra precautions to ensure our safety and security is something I routinely do without much thought.
As unsettling as it was, thinking further along this line was not currently getting me anywhere. Shifting mental gears, I decided it best to replace my long attached clothing with something a bit more appropriate for a much unspecified embarkation about to commence. The standard nonworking day fare will suffice, blue jeans, T-shirt, Nikes, clean socks, throw in a light jacket and don’t forget to update the fashionable ponytail. From my apparel and color-coordinated organized closet came the fashion selection of the day.
The “Incognito Torpedo” was resting quietly in the garage. There were no signs that it had been moved since when I last parked it. This aging black Buick was patiently waiting like some loyal servant beckoning at my commands to escape its concrete prison and run free. I imagine that little did it realize even in its blandly generic and underwhelming appearance that it was my ticket and salvation from my current state of monotony and amnesic confusion.
A great friend and incredible person a few decades older than myself left this trusty steed to my care several years ago. Mimi was one of the most interesting people I could ever imagine. A product of the Great Depression, she learned to support herself and her younger siblings at quite a young age. As a result, she became a card-carrying poster child for the fledgling and controversial concept of women’s liberation back before the terminology had been created. She was a major ranking officer within the US Marines during the Korean War. She was a courageous character and debater when it came to political opinions, human rights, and fairness for all individuals. Mimi upheld the values of dignity for all while she staunchly protected others privacy and in the process of her 80+ years had an immeasurably good time.
Her life was filled with fond memories of fellowship, friends, and fun. I could not forget her anymore than I could forget to breathe. She was an inspiration and a legend in every regard. Her car, quite unlike herself, had been well treated, protected from the environment and had very few miles on it. I doubt, except perhaps when it was manufactured, it had ever made it out of state. Mimi could shoot an M-16, scale a wall, berate disobedience, and march on Washington, but she hated to drive a car. I treated it with the same reverence as the rare treasure that was and continues to be the memory of its previous owner.
Finally, after the traditional lecture to the cats regarding watching the place, being good little tyrants, not extorting others, and locking the doors, I left on the token light to give the cats some visual warning before crashing furniture during their nightly laps chasing each other. I headed toward the Torpedo. Opening the garage door, a gentle breeze of October washed over me and already I regretted delaying the journey for this long. A fat mellow sun was snuggled within the tall nearby trees and gentle beams glimpsed through the branches and appeared to reach out for me. Arduous reluctance became adventurous anticipation as a soft autumn elegance refreshed every fiber of my being and my feet where moving me to parts unknown and places to be experienced anew.
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John
Backing out of garage was thankfully uneventful - quite unlike several previous near misses with trashcans, fornicating deer, tree limbs, trucks, and I believe the rare stray meteorite. The latest collision involved the postal truck delivering a new back bumper for my other vehicle. I first backed into the same truck three weeks earlier. The driveway is on a slight hill, angled, and with a few large trees making backing out of the garage a bit visually precarious. Nonetheless, so far I had been able to avoid the hazards before any damage was inflicted on the torpedo-mobile. This was not the case for my other vehicle which I drove most often. However, after many near misses and a few direct hits, I learned to be mindful of the mayhem that seems to congregate there.
Some of it of course has to be expected with living on five acres within the country. The nearest upright biped neighbors were few and with more than the occasional title of pedophile or harking from a quite shallow gene pool. Otherwise, my nearest friends generally consist of squirrels, hawks, wild turkey, deer, and an occasional fox. I had considered getting some peacock to round out the menagerie, but my schedule really does not allow the time for anything less independent than cats. While cats definitely have their share of psychotic breaks, as long as food and water is available, they can manage very well for days.
So as the trip continued down the driveway over a dusty dirt road and beyond a wire fence, my first order of business was to determine something that would chase thoughts of work from my mind. Something musical. Something that would take me mentally to unchartered territory. As I turned on my XM radio, I found a smooth jazz channel with Grover Washington playing tunes that filled the back of my head with a feeling of bright joy coloring the airwaves.
Living on the East Coast of Central Florida has its limits. For example, short of experiencing a salt-water car wash, the eastward bound option of travel will not yield a very enduring trip. The Buick, not being an amphibious vehicle, considered the three remaining directions of travel. The south route was also eventually surrounded by water not to mention the likes of large overcrowded cities and the angst filled traffic-stuffed roads, tollbooths, and foreign speaking fast food chains. The westbound option was familiar and pleasant enough but hardly an adventure. North. North was where my destination could be found. It was also comforting to know that no matter how far I went or where I went, pushing a single button on my trusty Garmin readily identified the route homeward. Antonio, the Italian accented disembodied voice of Garmin provided the auditory directions. He patiently adjusted and accommodated my mess-ups and found alternate ways to get me to where I wanted to go, and was always at my ready. Antonio is a trusted virtual friend who had never let me down no matter how much or to what extent I tested his abilities to do so.
So North. Keeping the Atlantic Ocean on my right side would pretty much guarantee my forward and northerly direction. Grover was playing happily as tunes escaped from every corner speaker in the car. I had applied the manual labor required to roll down the window on the driver side and allow the music to mix with the cool crisp breeze. Unlike the month of May, October was not scented with the fragrance of blooming flowers, but the rather was a sensual mix of energized change and gracious relief from wilting heat. It stimulated your tactile senses with a refreshing glimmer of excitement and renewal. October is a month that best stands in stark contrast to the dank, dreary, depressing drone of November where barren trees stoically bruise grey flannel skies to keep it from flattening all those beneath it. November mornings remind me of frosted fingers of timid light reluctant to touch the ashen remains of soulless nights and brittle winds attempting to extinguish the meager warmth of the sun. I never understood how glorious October was assigned to be the opening act for such a poor excuse for a month as November. It just never seemed quite fair.
Pallid brushstrokes of cirrus streaked a palette of boundless blue as the sun bravely attempted to keep any excess coolness in check and do its best to ensure an absolutely gorgeous day. Outside the right passenger windows, occasional glimpses of the Atlantic Ocean flew by and into view between the few small buildings and sea oat crested dunes. Graceful waves of surf attempted to spray low sailing sea gulls before melting onto a beach of sand with a diminishing foam in an attempt to erase the intricate trails left by foraging sandpipers. Further off shore, a solitary surfer sat on his board waiting for the surf to position itself into the last perfect ride of the dwindling season – or perhaps he was contemplating an endless horizon. Whatever the case, the less than 80-degree weather was apparent. His hands were clenched in his lap and his shoulder length wavy hair bristled in the shimmering reflecting light. During that moment, a silhouette of a glorious young man floating upon a glorious sea on a glorious day was painted in my mind.
Moments later and a slight turn to the west and the Torpedo was grateful to get on the open road and stretch her legs a bit. The motor ran in perfect harmony to the sound of the tires and the gentle howl of the wind. Grover Washington seemed to be keeping time with the automotive orchestra around me. The perfectly upholstered front bench seat comfortably accommodated my purse and me. An elusive black and white sticker proclaiming (via false advertising) “Wi-Fi Inside” stayed dutifully adhered to the back passenger window. The road relented to allow my vehicle to run freely and openly across an inviting terrain of smoothly undulating hills and a gently curving paved path that seemed to magically appear and take form about a quarter-mile ahead at all times. Around each bend, the world took on a slightly different look as the road found its way through the forest and lakes and small towns of quaint hotels and farm equipment being operated by denim overall wearing gentlemen who waved politely as I drove by.
Eventually, I arrived in St Augustine and was ready to get out of the car and stretch my legs. What a beautiful day for a walk. I found a public parking area, paid the fee and parked the Incognito Torpedo under the shade of a gracious tree. From there, it was just a short walk into a history flooded with tourists.
Let’s Do the Time Warp Again – Rocky Horror Picture Show
Roaming ancient St. Augustine was the perfect solution to forget about the impossible problems created in the present. The cobblestone streets, incredibly old buildings, and people dressed in period costume submersed enchanted tourists into a different l time. A stroll down St. George's Street brought with it the sounds of chiming of church bells and clopping of horse hooves.
That mindset however changed abruptly as a nearby car tire exploded and created a chronologically displaced noise. The echoing boom startled an otherwise docile horse. The handler did his best to quickly control the horse but not before a few hundred pounds of airborne front legs came down upon a homeless individual who had wandered into the area.
Witnessing the entire event, I came to the aid of what looked to be an elderly gentleman splayed out and dazed upon uncomfortable and uneven cobblestone. His clothing cannot be any worse from the incident. His shoes were well beyond tattered. His face displayed little difference between neglected bearded growth and small samples of dirt from multiple locations throughout the town. He was moaning and barely moving. This is when I remembered I had intentionally left my cell phone at home. I looked up to see what resources were in place to attain assistance for this man. And there he was.
A middle-aged man in running gear-shorts, tank top, Fanny pack, socks, and Nikes whose body appeared designed around his life, was on his knees and assessing vital signs and injury with well-practiced efficiency. The midday sun had backlit the multiple tiny droplets of perspiration about his face and arms. A crop of unruly, yet short massively curly dark hair was in stark contrast to his utter image of gentle control.
There were no outward signs of obvious injury to the patient meaning, there was no bright red blood leaking from any obvious spots. His mostly toothless mumbling was only marginally coherent but then his baseline was also in question. However, the patient was developing some respiratory difficulty and indicated pain upon deep breathing.
Fortunately, traffic in the area had come to stop. I noticed a tour bus among the parked collection of impatient vehicles. I ran to the driver of the tour bus and asked for their first aid kit and oxygen tank. As I arrived back at the scene, the good Samaritan was on his cell phone calling for assistance and transport to the nearest hospital. He had positioned the victim to help his breathing.
I assisted with placing a small venti mask and two liters of oxygen onto the patient. The runner from nowhere spoke gently to the patient communicating a calming and caring concern. He informed the patient of his likely injuries, and anticipated treatment and outcome.
As police and emergency rescue personnel arrived, the victim was transported by ambulance once the police cleared the traffic to allow access. The used medical supplies were replaced by the ambulance crew and returned along with the oxygen tank to the tour bus. After providing information to the police regarding the incident, the horse and buggy along with its passengers proceeded on its trip. The birds resumed singing. The church bells continued ringing and tourists continued happily being entertained. The entire incident quickly vaporized and was forgotten by all of those there for only a good time.