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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/item_id/2281952-The-Day-of
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Rated: E · Book · Family · #2281952
A cryptic message leads to the clarity of Life's purpose.
The protagonist receives a cryptic message sent by an unknown person for some unexplained reason. The dark veil draws him to pursue answers, and in the process, he finds clarity as never before.
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October 26, 2022 at 9:02pm
October 26, 2022 at 9:02pm
#1039793
1. Setting: My story takes place on Earth. It starts in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and journeys long to both Hudson Bay, Canada, and Rovaniemi, Finland.

2. Protagonist: Solomon Carl Plain is a flawed man, who needs God's help to become the man, he was created to be.
---A. Solomon deals with deep levels and layers of depression and shame. He can't imagine how he could ever be successful.
---B. Solomon's one goal is to become a Christlike believer by the end of his days, but he has to overcome the temptation to believe (as he does at the first,) that he is virtually hopeless, and "too far gone."

3. Conflict: Solomon can't seem to reach his goal of Christlikeness because he spends so much of his life, trying to reach his goal in his own human strength. The moment he gives up, thinking that he is hopeless, is the moment, that Christlikeness becomes a reality in him.

4. Antagonist: Both Dodgy Whispers and Murray Fester Lacaste cause Solomon no end of grief. Dodgy Whispers does occasionally show up in corporeal form, but most of the time he (or "it") provides temptations to sin, to give in to depression and hopelessness, and to get far off the path of God's Will by inserting negative thoughts into Solomon's mind, especially in times of weakness. Murray Fester Lacaste is that very human enemy, who befriends Solomon with the intention of breaking him down at every turn. Murray never brings a frontal assault. He always seems to use the tactic of sidelong trippings and pricks punctuated by the occasional "stabs in the back."

5. Resolution: Solomon spends many years learning about himself, and how futile it is to try to fix himself, ridding himself of his many problems in his own strength. The Lord is so patient. He allows Solomon to become hopeless in his pursuits on his own terms in order to give up striving, falling into the Arms of the One, Who Alone can Save him.

6. Theme: Human effort can go only so far. Success in life is found when we dethrone Self as king, and crown Jesus, the Christ as the Only God and King.

7. Outline:

I. Life in Chattanooga, Tennessee
II. The Trip to Hudson Bay, Canada
III. Salvation and Return Home to Chattanooga
IV. Sanctification and Renewal in Rovaniemi, Finland (Learning from Santa Claus, who is the Earthly figure of Jesus Christ)


by Jay O'Toole
on October 26th, 2022


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October 25, 2022 at 6:19pm
October 25, 2022 at 6:19pm
#1039716
"What is so amazing about shame is that it seems to infect your DNA at the cellular level." Solomon was right about that because the terrible paddling he received at age 16 was at the same time the worst, and the last whipping he ever received from his mother.

From that point on Solomon was determined to be the best son he had ever been in front of his Mom. "Never again will I be late. Never again will I do anything to upset her. Never again will I deviate in the slightest from her set of rules because I need her to love me, and I don't think I could survive, emotionally, one more of her terrible beatings. I will be a 'good son,' if anyone could ever be called a 'good son.'"

That was ten years ago.

Now, at 26, Solomon is a recent college graduate in one of the three careers, that was smiled upon in his childhood home. He is not a preacher, nor a missionary, but he is a teacher, and "that is A-Okay in our book, Son," his parents are quick to affirm.

For years Solomon has been considered to be an excellent Christian by friends, family, classmates, and teachers alike because he has never been disruptive in class, nor in family gatherings, he has spoken when spoken to, and he has offered very little verbal input, except when requested to do so.

"So? What's the problem?" you may ask. "Your main character (aka protagonist) sounds like a model citizen, and an exemplary Christian to me."

That's just the point. He did to everyone else, too. However, appearances are often quite deceiving. Solomon did and said all the right things, but he was virtually dead on the inside. When his mother, viciously and shamefully, spanked him at 16 years of age, something broke inside of him that day. At that point in his life, Solomon began to experience the deepest levels of depression he had ever experienced. He did everything he could to be right with his world on the outside, but his life, alone, was far from pleasant.

Solomon became a world-class actor. No one, who knew him, could tell, that anything was wrong, but every night when he shut and locked the door to his apartment, during his college years, he flopped down on his couch and cried for hours. When his tear ducts were dry, he changed his clothes, brushed his teeth, went to bed, and fell into a fitful sleep with dreams in which he ran away from monsters, waking up in a cold sweat just before the monster caught him.

Now that he has graduated from college, Solomon spends days at a time in his apartment, moping about, wondering what he should do next. Sometimes he doesn't even bother to get out of bed. He eats only when the hunger pangs get to be too much for him. He eats things cold, mostly. Sometimes he uses the microwave. He doesn't cook on the stove. The dishes are piling up in both sinks.

Clothes are strewn around the apartment. Sometimes he washes out underwear in the sink and dries them over the curtain rod for his shower, which he never uses anymore, either.

For Solomon Plain, life has become just plain hopeless, until one day he squeezes up enough courage to visit the mailbox. What good could that possibly do? he wonders.


by Jay O'Toole
on October 25th, 2022


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October 24, 2022 at 9:07pm
October 24, 2022 at 9:07pm
#1039665
JOT: "Well, Solomon, that was quite some quest. Have you had time to process much of it since you've returned home?"

Solomon: "Not much. I still feel a bit in shock from the magnitude of everything I've experienced, but I would be willing to do a little 'out-loud processing' with you right now."

JOT: "Fair enough. What seems to be your biggest takeaway from this journey?"

Solomon: "The idea, that success in life, is not what I used to think it was. Success is in large part, being made whole, and in tune with the Lord Jesus. Anything else, that it might be, flows out of this SHALOM, He bequeaths to make the heart and life complete, whole, and joy-filled."

JOT: "So, you're saying, that Success is not a destination, it is the fulfillment of a person in relationship with Jesus Christ, HIStory's Only Messiah."

Solomon: "Yeah. That's it in a nutshell."

JOT: "Okay, then let's dive deeper into your life. Can you give me a before and after of this quest? Who were you before you started as compared to who you are now?"

Solomon: "Do we have that much time? It might be easier for you to just read this book of my memoirs, titled, The Day of."

JOT: "Better for me, maybe, but our radio audience only has an hour to get a plain idea of who Solomon is."

Solomon: "Nice. I see what you did there. The plain idea about Solomon Plain. Smooth."

JOT: "You got me. Now, can we get the fly-over, top-down view of Solomon Plain? Just a few minutes. Make it simple."

Solomon: "Before I went on my journey to really connect with God, I was an overbearing, foul-mouthed, and yet depressed Son-of-a-B---, even though I called myself a Christian. Oops. Sorry. Old habits die hard. I will try to keep it clean for your audience."

JOT: "It's okay. No worries. I have read your story. You had a really troubled background as a child, but a lot of people have had that. What makes you unique?"

Solomon: "My family had the reputation for being a Christian family, but we dealt with emotional and mental illness. We could present to the world as having it all together but inside our four walls was screaming, crying (bellowing, actually,) slapping faces, overmuch paddlings, and then silence for days."

JOT: "How did that affect your relationship with the LORD?"

Solomon: "O, that was on again, off again. I believed in Heaven and Hell. I knew that I would have to spend Eternity in one or the other of these places, but when God was called my Heavenly Father, I just couldn't comprehend that. My Dad was often busy with his secular job, and his part-time pastorate. Did that mean, that God didn't have time to talk with me, either? My Mom was volatile, emotionally. I learned to shut down in order to stay safe. I've sometimes heard that the Holy Spirit is compared to the mother in the family, but with a mother, like mine, how does that even compute?"

JOT: "I'm really sorry, Solomon. How did your trip, journey, or quest change you into the man you are, today?"

Solomon: "That was probably the hardest portion of my life to date. It seems like God made life harder for me in order to make me better. I spent 30 days in jail in Toronto for verbally assaulting a border officer, while giving him totally unacceptable hand gestures."

JOT: "WOW! What did you learn in there?"

Solomon: "I learned, that I was not the center of the universe. If I wanted my freedom restored, then I had to learn to police myself, starting with my words and actions."

JOT: "You, obviously, were released to continue your quest. What next?"

Solomon: "My wilderness wandering with the sled and dog team, plus newly learned, but inexperienced survival skills taught me, that I needed others. I was nearly killed several times by bears, and exposure to the elements, but every time a fellow, who went by the name 'The Good Shepherd' showed up just in time to save me. Ultimately, after going searching for God, I finally found out, that He was the God I was searching for."

JOT: "Solomon, are you able to wrap up this interview with a thought, that can help me, and our audience this evening?"

Solomon: "I think so. If we search the world over without ever learning, that it is our heart needing the change, then we will miss the very Person we are searching to find. If, however, we begin to see the person we are without Christ, then the grief we experience in that knowledge is sincerely the tool He uses to show us Christ is ever near and needs only to be received, and embraced. (Romans 10:9-10,13, Philippians 2:13, John 6:37,44; John 3:16)"

JOT: "Very well put, Solomon. Thank you for being my guest, tonight. Well, that's a wrap, folks. 'Search for the Lord in our own strength, and miss Him. Grieve over the person we each are without Him, and find, that He is only a breath away.' You've been listening to Prep Talk, where I always try to give you a Pep Talk by interviewing engaging guests every week. With the Lord as my Helper, I'll be here next week at this same time for Prep Talk. May the Lord always bless you. I am your host, Jay O'Toole."


by Jay O'Toole
on October 24th, 2022


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October 23, 2022 at 10:50pm
October 23, 2022 at 10:50pm
#1039618
The Day of

"From depressed curmudgeon (old before his time) to victorious saint"


I. A Day in the Life of a Curmudgeon is Interrupted (Cryptic message with no signature, nor return address)

II. Afternoon in the Coffee Shop (with Handsome & Westerling)

III. Unwelcome Visit with Dodgy Whispers, the Doubt Factory

IV. The Wise Shepherd Shows Solomon Some Real Options

V. Packing for the Quest, but Then Lacaste, Draper, and Jangles Show Up

VI. Solomon Leaves at 2:00 AM Headed for Hudson Bay

VII. The Wise Shepherd as His Travel Companion

VIII. Snafu at the Canadian Border (30 Days in Jail, Due to Disrespect)

IX. Selling His SUV to Buy a Sled and Dog Team

X. Campsite on Hudson Bay (The Wise Shepherd & Ice Room Warmth)

XI. Solomon Underestimates the Conditions and Nearly Freezes

XII. Inuit Hunter Finds Solomon Nearly Dead from Hypothermia

XIII. Medevac to Quebec, Life Flight to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, TN

XIV. Reevaluating the Quest

XV. Restart. New Destination: Rovaniemi, Finland (Hometown of Santa Claus)

XVI. A Month with Santa Claus

XVII. Finding the of Peace God in Friendship with Santa Claus and The Wise Shepherd

XVIII.Solomon, the Victorious Christian

XIX. Return to Chattanooga, Tennessee

XX. Lifetime of Ministry Ahead

XXI. Epilogue: Lessons Learned


by Jay O'Toole
on October 23rd, 2022


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October 22, 2022 at 8:05pm
October 22, 2022 at 8:05pm
#1039577
Story Type:

The Day of is a Christian's quest to be like the saving Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ. Life is too easy to live as a functional life of doing nothing, that makes a difference for Eternity. How easy it is to eat, sleep, work, and attend to bodily functions, after which the rest of the day can be spent on the couch, chilling out, either alone or with a similarly-minded friend or two. When the Lord Himself pricks the mind to think, going on a journey with Him becomes the absolute must.

Target Audience:

The people, who read and enjoy my stories are serious Christians. These are believers for whom "easy-believism" has no appeal. Jesus is the passionate core of the lives of these individuals. Each of these believers knows, that he or she could never do the work of saving the individual soul & spirit, but once one is truly born-again, then the heart is focused on Jesus Christ, serving Him, loving Him, worshiping Him in Time and Eternity. It is the desire of that person's heart to "work out their own salvation," not working to be saved, but pressing this great Gift of Salvation out into every corner, "nook & cranny" of his or her life. The believer receives Salvation gladly as the free Gift, that it is, spending the rest of life on Earth in gratitude to the One, Who has done the saving. Physical age is not nearly as important as spiritual age. Newbies in Christ may or may not be attracted to my stories, but individuals, who have lived any length of time in a committed relationship with the Lord will gain a great deal of spiritual nourishment from reading my books.

Synopsis:

Solomon Carl Plain has just graduated from college with a B.A. in Education. One day very early in his summer between college and career, he receives a message in the mail. With no return address, he carefully opens the envelope to find inside it a short unsigned letter.

"You will be a success on the day of" seems like a prank at first, but the longer he thinks about it, he is stirred to his very core. He needs answers and is therefore motivated to search for the very thing, that will change his life for Time and Eternity.

Solomon is the product of an abusive childhood home. He has always cared about "being saved," and "knowing Jesus," but apparently not enough to give up his myriad bad habits, like swearing, and doing whatever feels good, which, of course, includes eating "good-tasting stuff."

We are left to wonder, who has sent the message and why, but the journey we are about to take can leave us all changed, forevermore.


by Jay O'Toole
on October 22nd, 2022


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October 21, 2022 at 10:20pm
October 21, 2022 at 10:20pm
#1039526
1. Narrative Hook: Story opening that grabs the reader's attention. Solomon receives a cryptic message, "The Day of" in the mail in the first chapter, that is truly the driving force and goal of the entire story.

2. Repetitive Designation: An object or fact appears over and over. Solomon starts to see the phrase, "The Day of" everywhere he goes. He sees it etched into the bark of trees. He sees it written across the sky in the clouds. He sees it highlighted in the words of billboards, on the side of busses, and "A-frame signs" on the street. He sees it being formed in the flight patterns of starlings.

3. Foreshadowing: Hints of something to come. Solomon senses that the Lord is causing him to search for the Truth in order to finish growing up and/or to heal from the pain of his past. Every time he explores a new day, (like the Day of Sadness, the Day of Joy, the Day of Pain, and the Day of Healing, etc.) he finds some new piece of the puzzle, that will be fully understood when all the pieces come together as in a jigsaw puzzle.

4. Poetic Justice: Good guys are rewarded and bad guys are punished. Solomon learns, that in so many ways, he is both the good guy and the bad guy of our elaborate wisdom tale. When his foul mouth and impulsive actions get him into trouble, he is the bad guy, who must go through the Lord's smelter's cauldron (Ezekiel 36:26-27, KJV) in order to remove more of his wickedness to make him less objectionable and more Christlike. When he walks in the ways of the Lord, he is the good guy, who receives some form of encouragement from the Lord, Who says, "This is the way, walk ye in it." (Isaiah 30:21, KJV)

5. Cliffhanger: Ending a scene, chapter or story in the middle of action, hooking the reader. I plan to use this device with every chapter to keep the pages turning.

6. Breaking the Fourth Wall: A character speaks directly to the reader. This will be great to use occasionally through the last half of the book since Solomon must go on his quest alone. The Lord will come to Solomon in some form from time to time, but I think it would be interesting to have his time of out-loud processing, (aka talking to himself) be times of talking things over with the reader, who has become his travel companion.


by Jay O'Toole
on October 21st, 2022


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October 20, 2022 at 1:27pm
October 20, 2022 at 1:27pm
#1039458
1. Solomon could get into trouble at the Canadian border, due to his untempered speaking, (aka vocal outbursts.)

2. Solomon could get into trouble with Betty Draper. She could seduce him in a weak moment, getting her pregnant, and putting his entire quest in jeopardy.

3. Jerry Jangles could push Solomon over the edge causing him to go to jail for assault, proving Jerry's premise, that "Christians are nothing but phonies."

4. J.C. Westerling advises Solomon to not even attempt his quest right now, since his mouth (aka swearwords) could get him into trouble with the authorities along the way. "Grow up for 2-3 years. Ask the Lord to 'put a guard on your lips,' (Psalm 141:3, KJV) then go on your quest when you're less offensive, outwardly," Westerling urges.

5. Solomon could lash out at his friend T.J. Golden, saying, "You think you're so smart! You think you know everything! Well, I know stuff, too. Buzz Off!"

6. Ultimately, Solomon starts his quest, half-cocked. His supply list is only half-filled. His map is out-of-date. He's ill after 30 days in a Canadian jail for giving a first responder "the finger." He decides to head out for the Nunavut archipelago. He nearly freezes at the first place he camps for the night until a stranger (angel-in-disguise) shows him how to build a shelter in the snow. The next day Solomon is nearly mauled to death by a bear (polar or grizzly,) but the stranger shows up, again, standing in between Solomon, and his sure demise. (Daniel 6:21-22, KJV)

7. Solomon spends six months in The North, without human contact (so, he's lonely,) without sufficient food (so, he's malnourished,) barely eking out shelter (so, he stays on the edge of complete hypothermia,) and he becomes more and more hopeless and depressed, thinking, "Even God has given up on me." However, Solomon's many problems could be used by the Lord to transform Solomon into the Christian he has always wanted to be, removing his foul mouth, making him wise, and convicting him of his past life in order for him to reject and forsake that past life to fully embrace the true life in Christ (John 14:6, KJV,) living a new life "under the shadow of His Wings." (Psalm 91:1-4, KJV)

8. At a critical point in the story when Solomon is about to die, and all seems lost an Inuit hunter finds him in that state of being "barely alive." The hunter wraps up Solomon in two to three layers of skins, lays him gently on his dogsled, and drives his team of huskies as hard as he can the hundred miles back to his village, where he tries for an hour or two to get a signal strong enough to call for a medevac helicopter, which takes him to the US-Canadian border, handing him off to American first responders, who fly him directly to Erlanger Hospital in his college hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Three months go by as his recovery in the hospital changes to recovery at home. "Now, what?" he cries out to the Lord.

9. A story with no happy ending, "The Day of" is still unknown, and finally, Solomon laments, "I've wasted my life." (II Corinthians 12:7-10, KJV)

10. Resigned to failure, Solomon decides to visit the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland, as a consolation prize. Little does he know, "This is where your answers lie, my Son," the Lord Jesus tells him in an epiphany. "Look for 'The Day of,' during your stay there."


by Jay O'Toole
on October 20th, 2022


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October 19, 2022 at 11:52pm
October 19, 2022 at 11:52pm
#1039438
"Chattanooga, Tennessee is a great place to live, regardless of your age, but experiencing Chattanooga, during your college years is exceptionally sweet. What better way is there to set a strong foundation for the future than to learn in a place steeped in a very tangible past?

"Yet, the past with its myriad sights of Civil War era cannons, and monuments, honoring those, who fell on the many battlefields around our fair city are but two of the types of attractions, which make Chattanooga a year-round feast for the eyes.

"I remember five years ago when I moved here to go to college, I had to deal with a couple of months of nearly unbearable heat because I arrived in August, and the temps didn't start cooling off, until the middle of October.

"O, what a change when they did arrive. The trees of Highland Park, where I live, were ablaze with the colors of reds, oranges, and yellows added to the greens and browns of their base hues. That's why one of my favorite respites was to spend two or three hours in the late afternoon of some fall day, drinking in the wondrous colors of the trees, the explosion of sounds of ducks and geese on the pond at East Lake Park, crickets, leaves swirling and crunching underfoot, people strolling around the lake, and children having a great time on the playground.

"Southerners know how to slow-cook barbecue. Therefore, driving around town with the windows down was a must. Trips to Missionary Ridge would become experiences of olfactory temptations to full-blown hunger, whether from local restaurants or homeowners cooking out in their back yards. That bacon, hamburger meat, slab of pork or beef tenderloin, and baby back ribs all became a cacophony of aromas, that made me unable to think about anything else, until I had a plateful sitting right in front of me.

"Missionary Ridge is a lovely drive, if you have the time to drive from one end to the other because all of the twists and turns insure, that nobody will be speeding up there. Now, if I want to spend an hour or two kicking back, enjoying the view, then the Bragg Reservation is my park of choice because at that spot you can see for miles into the valleys on either side of the ridge. The Bragg Reservation was the site of the Battle of Missionary Ridge, during the Civil War. Frankly, I enjoy that spot because I can see the biggest auditorium of my university from there.

"So many things to remember. Do we have enough time? I love the simple pleasures, like buying a hamburger, a hotdog, and a soft drink from the comfort of my car at Central Park, one of those fastfood restaurants, that has two drive-throughs, but absolutely no dine-in opportunities.

"I wish I had time to describe the Chattanooga Choo-Choo complex, which is a mini mall, and the inspiration for Glenn Miller's famous song. I would love to describe Ruby Falls, Point Park, (which is where the Battle of Lookout Mountain was fought, and is sometimes called 'The Battle Above the Clouds,') as well as the great view of Mocassin Bend on the Tennessee River from there.

"There are so many things I would like to show you about Chattanooga, Tennessee, one of the greatest college towns on Earth, but maybe we could do a meet-up some weekend. I would to be your tourguide. I would love to relive my days in college with you. Thanks for listening to what I've had to say so far."


by Jay O'Toole
on October 19th, 2022


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October 18, 2022 at 11:05pm
October 18, 2022 at 11:05pm
#1039394
1. Chattanooga, Tennessee - https://www.visitchattanooga.com/

2. Lake of the Woods, Minnesota - https://lakeofthewoodsmn.com/

3. Northwest Aroostook, Maine - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northwest_Aroostook,_Maine

4. Nunavut, Canada - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nunavut

5. Hudson Bay, Canada - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson_Bay

6. Northwest Territories, Canada - https://spectacularnwt.com/

7. Barrow, Alaska - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utqiagvik,_Alaska

8. Rovaniemi, Finland (Hometown of Santa Claus) - https://www.visitrovaniemi.fi/
https://santaclausvillage.info/


by Jay O'Toole
on October 18th, 2022


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October 17, 2022 at 5:43pm
October 17, 2022 at 5:43pm
#1039347
1. "The Day of" - Cryptic time and place, which will be revealed to be actual at the end of our tale. (Proverbs 25:2, KJV)
2. Ice Portal - This is a place is the deep snow lands of the North, where people in general, and our hero in particular can always see into, and sometimes go into the realm of the Lord to learn an important lesson He plans to teach His child. Therefore, the individual needs to be the Lord's child (John 3:16) for this to be a reality.
3. The Holy Bible - The Absolute Standard of Truth in written form. (John 14:6, KJV) The outworking of HIStory is directly tied to the words of Its Blessed pages.
4. Depression Pressure Points - Whatever triggers feelings of depression in the human sufferer of this malady.
5. Abuse Flashbacks - These, also, are triggers, which cause an abuse victim to experience an open vision of the former abuse to the degrees, that the sufferer actually experiences the abuse once again in the present.
6. Hopeless Morass - An extended period of time in which someone, who is vulnerable to hopelessness, stews in a self-made or event-made bog (or muddy pond/marsh) in which that individual can't seem to reach out in hope, no matter how hard he or she may try. The only solution for the Hopeless Morass is the intervention of a spiritually stronger brother or sister in Christ, that encompasses the teaching of and establishment of a new lasting hope in Christ Jesus, the Lord.
7. "Light That Grows" - Not all hopeless people "enjoy" hopelessness. Some of these dear folks are harassed by fell spirits. (Ephesians 6:12, KJV) Such individuals wish to be whole. Therefore, even the smallest light of Hope becomes a tether to which the individual hangs onto, and swims toward through the blackness of the dark night of the body, soul, and spirit, until that light grows larger, becoming the dominant force in the individual's life, rather than the darkness. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Night_of_the_Soul https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2OyptSajjM
8. Night Visions - Instead of seeing snatches of meanings in dreams, this is a open vision, in which a spiritually perceptive believer in Jesus Christ may receive directions for life, directly from the Lord. This vision occurs at night.
9. B.H.E.B. (Black Hole Earth-Bound) - Instead of being a Black Hole in space, that can swallow spaceships, and even planets, whole, a BHEB is small enough, and situated on a plot of ground, that an individual may be transported wherever the Lord may ordain for that person to go, educating, and insuring the Sovereign Will of God in that believer's life.
10. "The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon" (Judges 7:20, KJV) - This is the inspired tool the Lord uses to overcome a much stronger enemy with only a few of or one of His servants. It is an honor to receive this tool as a Sovereign Grace.
11. Spiritual Sight - The ability to see beyond the physical realm into the Realm, where God lives and from whence He rules.
12. Emotional Growth - The progress toward "The Day of" includes the gifted ability to grow beyond the small child, who stills experiences the childhood wounds, which have heretofore stunted his (or her) emotional maturity into the whole, emotionally-mature individual, who can enjoy the childlike life of the strong and growing Christian.
13. Spiritual Growth - This person becomes great by becoming a humble servant, and he (or she) becomes more significant in the life of faith as childlikeness is a greater and greater reality.
14. Mental Growth - Consistent learning, stretching in thought games/activities, and playful childlikeness tends to demonstrate a mind, that is strong every day of life on Earth.
15. Physical Intelligence - The body grows in muscle memory, while taking on greater and greater skills, that are necessary for lifelong problem-solving.
16. Step Wisdom - As we learn the first step to personal growth, and problem-solving, we build on it with the second, third, and fourth steps (or more,) until we may be truly said to wise in reaching goals.
17. "Bearing One's Own Burden" (Galatians 6:5, KJV) - The Christian learns how to shoulder the responsibilities, that he (or she) has been given because the Lord Only knows what that individual is capable of doing.
18. "Bearing the Burden of Another" (Galatians 6:2, KJV) - The Christian learns how to help someone else carry a burden, that he (or she) might normally carry alone, but the individual has become too weak, due to illness or increased life responsibilities & tasks.
19. Conjoined Bearing (of Others and of Self) (Galatians 6:2,5, KJV) - The consistent interaction between to growing Christians is one of doing the responsible thing of shouldering responsibilities, while helping others to the same, especially in times of weakness. This is the functioning of the Body of Christ. It is the "give & take" of the parts of the body to insure, that the Body functions efficiently and effectively. I think it is like the arm or leg muscles in which sets of muscles work in tandem. As the limbs reach out, one set of sinews relax, while the other set contracts. As the limbs pull in toward the body, the opposite relaxing and contracting is true.
20. Cross-over Land - There are places along the pathway of Life in which the physical and spiritual realms become so close, that seeing into the spiritual realm is possible for the growing Christian.


by Jay O'Toole
on October 17th, 2022


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October 16, 2022 at 5:45pm
October 16, 2022 at 5:45pm
#1039300
1. What is Solomon doing when he takes a break, going out to check the mailbox, where he receives his cryptic message, "You will be a success on the day of?"

2. How does he respond to this message?

3. What does he do in the days, that follow the receipt of this unusual and cryptic message?

4. Solomon starts his journey in the archives of his local library's oldest works of history. Has a message like this ever appeared anywhere else in HIStory?

5. Solomon discusses his message with his friends, some of whom are really frenemies. What wisdom does he gain, regarding the beginning of his quest?

6. Solomon maps out his quest with four unique destinations, the northernmost climes of the contiguous 48 states, Alaska above the Arctic Circle, Canada's Northwest Territories, and Greenland.

7. Solomon debates going alone on his quest or going with a travel partner.

8. Solomon goes on a 21-Day Daniel Fast, praying and seeking the Lord's Face, morning, noon, and night.

9. Why does Solomon make his final decision, resolved to search out his chosen destination?

10. What happens to Solomon as a person on the quest, and when he reaches his destination?


by Jay O'Toole
on October 16th, 2022


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October 15, 2022 at 10:21pm
October 15, 2022 at 10:21pm
#1039271
1. Solomon comes from a belief system, that is very Baptistic at the core. Solomon only reads the King James Version of the Holy Bible, which is the translation he was given at age six when he "got saved."

2. The inerrant Truth of God's Word was held to as a given in Solomon's home of origin, even though the practice of that belief was a bit confusing to young Solomon. His Dad was often gone. So, Solomon couldn't learn how to be a man, nor a Christian from his father. His Mom was inconsistent in discipline. When she was in a foul mood, any little infraction could get Solomon a severe paddling because his Mom didn't seem to know that her son had boundaries of respect and modesty. When she in a great mood, Solomon could get away with anything, enjoying shopping sprees, and times snuggling with Mom on the couch.

3. Solomon's family lives by the United States Declaration of Independence as well as the U.S. Constitution. The laws of the land are equitable because they are founded on the Constitution.

4. Their little Southern town has leaders, who believe the the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, too. Therefore, the Police Department, the Sheriff's Office, and the rest of the first responders are second to none. The Rule of Law is the order of the day.

5. The telephone is a pretty up-to-date piece of technology. The television is, also, in existence, but it is frowned upon because it leads to idleness. Some of the seniors in the high school go to the Vocational School for half a day, during each school day, to learn how to operate computers. Whatever that is.

6. Life in this time is rather idyllic. Children are ordered out of the house to "go play, and build your muscles." When it comes time for Solomon to begin his Quest he already has a great deal of experience in the "out-of-doors."

7. Solomon lived before the internet. Therefore, his only understanding about the places he plans to explore comes from encyclopedias, and from word of mouth. Nothing is a "sure thing," but therein lies the excitement for the trip.

8. The time period for Solomon's life and quest is roughly the late 1960s in the USA through the early years of the 1990s, also in the USA and Canada.


by Jay O'Toole
on October 15th, 2022


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October 14, 2022 at 5:18pm
October 14, 2022 at 5:18pm
#1039219
Friends:


Name: Joseph Barnabas ("Joe") Handsome
Age: 28 years old
Occupation: 5th-grade Elementary teacher
Relation to the main character: Best Friends, since Solomon's freshman year in college
Rough physical description or image: Tall (6',0"), Dark Hair (heavy brunette, but not quite jet black,) nice tan for a man a British descent without a thick accent (mild Received Pronunciation, RP,) wears a gentle, but consistent smile with counselor's eyes, that are warm, while not being intimidating. He really likes Solomon, wants him to succeed, and trudges through the trenches of Solomon's emotional morass from his childhood without being any worse for the wear.


Name: John Charles ("J.C.") Westerling
Age: 55 years old
Occupation: Retired police officer, who is just a few years into his second career of Baptist minister, serving his first church
Relation to the main character: a long-time friend of Solomon's dad, David, who is aware of Solomon's childhood abuse, and is therefore both confidant and counselor to Solomon
Rough physical description or image: Medium height (5',8") with curly salt & pepper hair of biracial background (Father - African descent, Mother - Japanese descent) His personality is warm, but not bubbly. He is serious about Solomon's need for healing, and is therefore supportive to the Nth degree.

Name: Timothy James Golden
Age: 30 years old
Occupation: Physical Therapist
Relation to the main character: Good Friend, via their mutual friend, Joe Handsome
Rough physical description or image: Medium build (5',10"), Blond Hair, Southerner, like Solomon, but Timothy grew up around the Mocassin Bend of the Tennessee River, making him a hometown boy, wears a genuine smile and a buddy demeanor. He likes Solomon, too. He is there for Solomon when his younger friend needs him.

-------------------------------------

Enemies:


Name: Dodgy Whispers (Ephesians 6:12, KJV)
Age: Unknown
Occupation: Dispenser of Personal Torment to his personal assignments
Relation to the main character: The demon, who is assigned to harm Solomon in every possible way. He attached to Solomon during his Mom's first abuse incident when Solomon was too young to remember. Solomon needed an ally against his mother's assaults, and Dodgy became that friend and protector, early on, but it changed into a constant irritant when Solomon sought help to get free from the effects of the abuse.
Rough physical description or image: a wispy, darkish cloud, that follows Solomon around everywhere he goes, but in times of intensity and need, Dodgy becomes an angelic human form with a yellowish, orange glow, that ranged from 4' tall when Solomon was a child to about 6' in height when relating to Solomon, the man.

Name: Betty Draper
Age: 23 years old
Occupation: still a college co-ed
Relation to the main character: She's a bit of a flirt, open to casual kissing, and tries to tempt Solomon off "the straight and narrow" for her own good pleasure.
Rough physical description or image: Shorter than Solomon (5',4"), Dusty Blond Hair, nice tan for a young lady, who was born in the Northeast, finding her way south after high school, wears a sweet, and sultry smile, that is warm enough to accomplish her purposes. She likes Solomon, but really likes what his looks have to offer (in her opinion.)

Name: Jerry Jangles
Age: 24 years old
Occupation: Still a college student
Relation to the main character: He's a frenemy to Solomon because it is his mission in life to prove, that all Christians are phonies.
Rough physical description or image: Medium build (5',8"), Strawberry Blond Hair, porcelain skin, that is light as the clouds on a sunny day, due to the fact, that he is of Scotch-Irish descent with a brogue, which is still quite noticeable, wears a mischievous smile. He really dislikes Solomon and his beliefs but wants to be liked by Solomon so he can get in close enough to trip him in a truth statement.

Jonathan ("Jon") Daniel Cross is Solomon's best friend from childhood. However, Jon still does all the meanness, that he and Solomon used to do together back then. The fact, that Solomon became a Christian, infuriates Jon to the degree of trying to follow Solomon around to slap down and destroy everything, that Solomon creates. He doesn't understand anything about the "so-called Christian walk" as he puts it. Therefore, it becomes his mission in life to prove, that Christians in general, and Solomon in specific are all frauds. "There's nothing to it!" he screams, often. Jon is the kind of guy, that believes, "Christianity is a damned lie!" He tries to prove his belief with every fiber of his being, until his last breath, or until The Lord "knocks him off his high horse," too. (Acts 9:1-9)


by Jay O'Toole
on October 14th, 2022


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October 13, 2022 at 1:36pm
October 13, 2022 at 1:36pm
#1039176
"Pack your bags, Soldier," Murray's dad ordered. "We've got to move out as soon as we eat lunch."

"But, Dad, all of my friends are here on this base." Murray started to cry.

"You'll make new friends," his dad said. "I have my orders. That's all there is to it."

"Can I at least tell my friends, 'Bye'?" Murray pleaded.

"You can, if you're back, and buckled into the backseat of the car by 13 hundred." Dad's face was a wall.

"That's less than two hours from now."

"Then, I guess you better hurry."

Murray was off at a trot. It was a good thing, that pretty much all of his friends lived on the same street. About half a dozen tearful 'Goodbyes' later, he was trotting back to his house.

He looked at his watch, "1255." He opened the backdoor of the car, buckled himself in, sat next to all of his worldly possessions, and rolled down the window to wait. I guess it's better not to make friends, he thought, if it's got to be this way every few months or a couple of years.

His dad started the car with a headcount to follow, gave a knowing look to his wife with a nod of the head, and drove off. Soon the base was no longer in the rearview mirror as Murray stared out into space. Will I ever have a better life than this? Murray wondered. Nobody cares about my feelings. Well, I don't have to care about anybody else's feelings, either, ever again. Murray is for Murray.

Rather heady words for a nine-year-old army brat, but Murray had had enough. Something broke in him that day. (The commitment to lifelong self-worship changes a heart at any age.) From then on Murray's life was symbolized by the motto, "What's in it for me?"

Murray taught himself how to do card tricks, and became good "friends" with kids on whatever base he landed on. The game of "21" was always good for pockets full of change. Every time some kid asked for "one more card," he knew just what card would win the game for himself, taking the kid's money with the kid kicking the dirt, and walking off.

Faceless people moved in and out of Murray's life for the next decade or so, while he spent every moment he was alone, learning some new gimmick, some new trick with cards and jacks, and the ability to be a smooth talker. He got so many people to pay for his meal or something else, that he needed at the time, simply because he was "a nice guy, and my friend wanted to do something nice for me." (Wink, wink)

When Murray turned 18, he approached his dad, and said, "This soldier has his bags packed," I'm gonna move out as soon as I can grab a bite to eat."

At that point, it was time for his dad to look sad. "But where will you go? Do you have a place to stay? Can you support yourself?"

"That's no longer your concern, Dad," Murray said with a smirk. "I have my orders. It's time to go."

"Orders?" his dad was incredulous. "From whom?"

"From my own heart," Murray's face was a wall, "I'm calling things the way I see them now. I'm my own boss. Be glad, if you ever see me, again."

"Take care of yourself, Son." Dad was resigned to the situation.

"O, I will," Murray said. "I will."


by Jay O'Toole
on October 13th, 2022


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October 12, 2022 at 10:02pm
October 12, 2022 at 10:02pm
#1039130
Who is my antagonist? Murray Fester Lacaste is 40 years old. He had a job as a college professor, which is how he met Solomon. (Solomon was one of his students.)

However, after awhile he no longer enjoyed building people up. He bought a big ol' tow truck so he could take cars from people when they got behind on their monthly payments. Destroying people's lives (or at least being a nuisance and an irritation) brought him much more "joy."

Murray is a bald & fat little tub of lard, who doesn't care what folks think about the way he looks. "I love to eat. The extra pounds of fat make for good body armor. Har. Har. Har."

Murray is just like his names. He is Murray, "a settlement by the sea." He likes to be near movement, and is inconstant in friendship. Fester shows, that he keeps things in his heart, stewing over these things until the bile of bitterness flows out of his mouth. Lacaste has a double meaning in Murray's life. A "cast" is a manmade hard exterior, which keeps a broken bone in place. Murray has a hard, rough exterior, which belies the brokenness of his past. Secondly, Lacaste said with an accent sounds like "locusts," which clear-cut crops, just like Murray clear-cuts the hopes of those, who hang around him. Solomon is his favorite target when it comes to crushing hopes, and goals for the future.

Culturally, Murray is a man without a hometown or home area of the country because his dad was in the military when Murray was a child. As a result, his family moved around a lot. After growing up he moved to New York City and fell in love with the fast-paced lifestyle, which gave him an excuse for treating people roughly, not ever getting too close to anybody, and valuing money in the highest way, rather than caring a whit about anything or anybody, that didn't fatten his wallet.

Murray moved to the Deep South because he was convinced, that Southerners were "nothing, but goobers. I'll rake in the money 'hand over fist,' fleecing these idiots. It'll be a great gig."

Murray is agnostic. "God can exist for all I care, and I don't care."

Personality-wise, Murray is loud-mouthed, raucous, and self-assured. He spent all of his childhood, moving from post to post, and without any moorings, he does whatever pleases himself. "'Feel it, enjoy it, and stay alive.' That's my motto," Murray often boasts.

He likes icecream, and a lot of it.
He is particularly partial to Southern Comfort, which is a mark The South made on him.
He eats pizza every night for supper "because it's quick, and easy, like making a buck."

He really doesn't wait around to be "the butt of somebody else's joke." He does that to others before they can do it to him.

He hates people, but he makes them like him, so he can get in close enough to make money off of them.

He has a strong mind, but he uses it in the realm of wickedness, showing that he is the fool of Psalm 14:1 & Psalm 53:1.

Murray is a great candidate for being incorrigible as a totally worthless, and hopeless wretch, but since the Lord saved the Pharisee, Saul, who became the Apostle Paul, we must hold out hope for, and pray for even souls, who spend too many years like Murray is now.

"1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

"2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

"3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

"4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

"5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

"6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

"7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

"8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

"9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink."
(Acts 9:1-9, KJV)


by Jay O'Toole
on October 12th, 2022


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October 11, 2022 at 10:24pm
October 11, 2022 at 10:24pm
#1039090
I. A Cryptic Message Shows Up in Solomon's Mailbox. (Solomon at age 25)

II. Solomon Remembers His Depressing Childhood. (Solomon at age 25, remembering ages 5-20)

III. Solomon Imagines His Glorious Future. (Solomon at age 25, contemplating age 80)

IV. Solomon Explores Ways to Get from Where He Is to That Great Future. (Solomon - age 25-80)

V. Jesus Shows Up in His Own Inimitable Way to Take Solomon to His Goal Without Effort on Solomon's Part. (Solomon at age 80)


by Jay O'Toole
on October 11th, 2022


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October 10, 2022 at 1:47pm
October 10, 2022 at 1:47pm
#1039005
If Solomon sells all or most of what he owns and heads north into the sparsely populated lands of the North, and Canada to be exact, what can he be expected to face in his journey?

Will the Canadian government permit an American, especially one with no experience, regarding surviving in such a harsh clime, to travel that far north without a guide?

How can Solomon travel that many miles to the north, even with permission, if there are no gas stations for hundreds of miles around?

According to this website, https://newcanadianlife.com/how-far-north-can-you-drive-in-canada/ , there are few well-paved roads in northern Canada. Albeit gravel roads, dirt roads, and ice roads do exist.

More than just the roads, there are wildlife animals to be faced in northern Canada. Some examples of wildlife are "Moose, Gray Wolf, Red Fox, Lynx, Bobcat, Cougar, (or Mountain Lion,) Black Bear, a Grizzly Bear and her cubs, Polar Bear, Arctic Fox, Beluga Whale, and Muskox" to name a few. That information is according to this website,https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/canada/articles/21-pictures-of-wonderfu...

There are a lot of things for Solomon to consider on his trip to the far north, including "How will I eat? Will I be able to pack enough food for a trip, that could last months or years? Will I be able to find edible plants that far north? I can find a list of edible plants in the Northwest Territories of Canada by looking on the following website." https://northernbushcraft.com/guide.php?ctgy=edible_plants®ion=nt

Bottom Line: Why does Solomon feel, that he must travel so far north, based on the cryptic message of one envelope with no return address? "The One, Who has all of the answers, is known as our True North, 'living on the sides of the North.' (Isaiah 14:13, KJV) If God's enemy is so bent on dethroning God from His Place in the North, then that must be where He lives. I've got to find Him in the North. I need Him to give me the answers to my questions."


by Jay O'Toole
on October 10th, 2022


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October 9, 2022 at 11:46pm
October 9, 2022 at 11:46pm
#1038965
1. Initial Refusals:
A. "Depression is my life. It's who I am. Will I lose my identity, if I change?"
B. "This note can't be real. Somebody is just playing a prank on me."
C. "Who can know the future? Just God. Why would God care about li'l ol' me?"
D. "How would I even know where to begin to find answers?"
E. "How would I even know where to begin such an outlandish journey?"

---------------
2. Facing the Confict:
A. "Where do I start to find answers?"
B. "Is it possible, that even I can change?"
C. "'The day of' has got to be important. Why would anyone joke about that?"
D. "A great acting teacher once said, 'Make a choice.' Okay, I'll simply take the first step."
E. "All the evidence seems to be pointing to the North. I'll buy a compass, and head North."

---------------
3. The Point of No Return:
Solomon sells all of his worldly belongings, except what he will need for survival with a few select memories thrown in for good measure, buys a 4WD SUV, packs it with his keepsakes and survival gear, and with a compass in hand heads out onto the open road to search for answers, potentially in the barren lands of Canada. (BTW, his survival gear includes new pieces of warm clothing, that he has not owned heretofore.)

---------------
4. The Point of No Return to the Climax:
Once on the road, Solomon encounters many challenges to his goal. Some are no more than speedbumps. Some are perilous cliffs with no way to pass. Ultimately, with every conflict a way beyond presents itself, miraculously, as though aided by God Almighty Himself, which, of course, is the Truth.

When facing hypothermia, Solomon gains an insight into how to reach his goal, while in this near-death coma.

He spends a few days in a cave with blankets, and a handmade fire to keep him warm while trying to figure out how to repair his SUV. His dreams are many and varied, including trips through the land of the Day of Sadness, the Day of Joy, the Day of Pain, and the Day of Hope. All give him clues and new insights about his goal, but none of them have the complete picture.

Every start, every stop, every high, and every low are tools the Lord uses to give Solomon clues about finishing his quest while molding him into the person the Lord wants him to be for his ultimate good and the Lord's Everlasting Glory.


by Jay O'Toole
on October 9th, 2022


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October 8, 2022 at 5:56pm
October 8, 2022 at 5:56pm
#1038872
Friends:


Name: Joseph Barnabas ("Joe") Handsome
Age: 28 years old
Occupation: 5th Elementary teacher
Relation to the main character: Best Friends, since Solomon's freshman year in college
Rough physical description or image: Tall (6',0"), Dark Hair (heavy brunette, but not quite jet black,) nice tan for a man a British descent without a thick accent (mild Received Pronunciation, RP,) wears a gentle, but consistent smile with counselor's eyes, that are warm, while not being intimidating. He really likes Solomon, wants him to succeed, and trudges through the trenches of Solomon's emotional morass from his childhood without being any worse for the wear.


Name: John Charles ("J.C.") Westerling
Age: 55 years old
Occupation: Retired police officer, who is just a few years into his second career of Baptist minister, serving his first church
Relation to the main character: a long-time friend of Solomon's dad, David, who is aware of Solomon's childhood abuse, and is therefore both confidant and counselor to Solomon
Rough physical description or image: Medium height (5',8") with curly salt & pepper hair of biracial background (Father - African descent, Mother - Japanese descent) His personality is warm, but not bubbly. He is serious about Solomon's need for healing, and is therefore supportive to the Nth degree.

-------------------------------------

Enemies:


Name: Dodgy Whispers (Ephesians 6:12, KJV)
Age: Unknown
Occupation: Dispenser of Personal Torment to his personal assignments
Relation to the main character: Demon assigned to harm Solomon in every possible way. Attached to Solomon during his Mom's first abuse incident when Solomon was too young to remember. Solomon needed an ally against his mother's assaults, and Dodgy became that friend and protector, early on, but it changed into a constant irritant when Solomon sought help to get free from the effects of the abuse
Rough physical description or image: a wispy, darkish cloud, that follows Solomon around everywhere he goes, but in times of intensity and need Dodgy becomes an angelic human form with a yellowish, orange glow, that ranged from 4' tall when Solomon was a child to about 6' in height when relating to Solomon, the man.


Name: Murray Fester Lacaste (aka "Locust")
Age: 40 years old
Occupation: Repo Truck Operator
Relation to the main character: He is Solomon's main human detractor. He first met Solomon as a tenured professor at the college Solomon attended when Solomon took one of the classes he was teaching. He took an instant dislike to Solomon, but latched onto Solomon as a best bud/quasi-mentor in order to get in close enough to keep bringing Solomon down in life. Finally, he got bored of teaching, bought himself a big truck with a winch, and started repossessing cars, which was a talent he learned when constantly repossessing Solomon's soul.
Rough physical description or image: Balding, little man (5',4") with a heavy paunch (about 30-40 pounds overweight,) very few redeemable features, except for a great smile, which one might consider more of a tool than a genuine characteristic of compassion.


by Jay O'Toole
on October 8th, 2022


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October 7, 2022 at 8:45pm
October 7, 2022 at 8:45pm
#1038824
SLAP!

"s***! Mom, that really hurt! I bit my tongue and my lip!"

"Come here, you little snot! I'll teach you to use four-letter words with your mother of all people!"

"Stay away from me! You have no right to bloody my face. I'm sixteen! Why did you slap me, anyway?"

"As if you don't know."

"I don't."

"What day is it?"

"It's Friday night."

"What time is it?"

"Right now it's 11:20."

"When's your curfew?"

"11:00 PM"

"That's right. You are supposed to be home at 11:00 PM. You were fifteen minutes late!"

"I tried to honor your curfew."

"My eye."

"All my friends are still out having fun."

"That's their parents' problem. You could have gotten hurt or worse."

"As opposed to coming home, getting a bloody face." (Sticking out chin, leaning in for emphasis.)

"THAT'S SASS! I WILL NOT TAKE SASS!"

"Mom, you're losing control!"

"Not for long! I will control you if it's the last thing I do!"

"MOM! NO!"

"You may be sixteen, but I can still put a beating on your butt!"

"Only if you can catch me."

"You're right. You can outrun me, but if that's the route you want to take, then you better sleep with one eye open 'cause I will paddle you, now or later."

"Please, Mom! DON'T!"

"No use arguing with me."

"Mom! DON'T!"

"Bend over, and make it bare."

"No, Mom! Please! I beg you! NO! Not that!"

"I'm waiting."

Slowly Solomon unbuckled his belt, undid his button, and unzipped his pants. Just as slowly pants, and underwear were lowered down around his feet, like manacles.

"Now, grab behind your knees, and be still."

The barrage of the leather belt on bare butt cheeks unleashed Mom's fury on her dutiful son, who was nearly a man, but not quite. The blows stopped when Solomon lay unconscious on the floor. The pain had felled his hopes of being a man, yet again.

("Halloween always seemed to bring out the worst in Mom," Solomon would often say later in life. "It's like she became possessed by a demon. Or maybe she was just that sensitive to whatever we were celebrating at the time.")

"I'm going to bed, Solomon," Mom said. "Whenever you wake up, clean up this mess, take a shower, and go to bed, thinking about how you'll never cross me, again."

Starting to come around, he said in his stupor, "Ye...s, Ma'am."

"Good. I hate Halloween. I'm glad tomorrow is November."

----------------------------

On November 15th just like clockwork, Solomon's mother would start playing Christmas music all over the house, while planning out every last detail about how to decorate this wonderful little domicile for her favorite time of the year.

Thanksgiving Day had become the greatest day of the year. Not only did the family enjoy turkey and stuffing with everything necessary to make Thanksgiving Day a wonderful experience, but Solomon was allowed to go out with his friends from late afternoon, until curfew.

He was having such a good time, that he forgot to keep looking at his watch every so often. When he finally thought about it, it was exactly 11:00.

O. God. No, he thought. He told his best friend, Jack, "I gotta go. It's already my curfew. See you after the holidays," I hope.

Fifteen minutes later, Solomon coasted into the driveway with his engine killed, and his lights off. Exiting his car as quietly as possible, he gently pushed the car door to the chasis, and took off his shoes.

He crept to the back door, putting the key in the lock with eyes squinting. His face grimaced as engaged the tumblers in the lock, wary of what might await him on the other side of the door.

Slowly he pulled the door open to enter the dark kitchen. He closed the door, and locked it just as carefully.

The lights flashed on, and his mother shouted a cheery, "Welcome home, Solomon! Why are you back so early? I told you, that you could stay out 'til midnight. It's Thanksgiving after all, and I am so thankful for you. I wanted you to have a good time with your friends."

"Uh. We did. Have a good time."

"That's wonderful! You should go out, again. It's a long holiday weekend, you know."

"I was terrified. I thought I was late, again."

"O, poor baby. Come over to the couch, and snuggle with your mother. I'll make it all better. You'll see."

Big tears trailed down Solomon's face. I don't know what's worse, he thought, the beatings or the confusion, but at least I feel kind of safe, during Christmas season.


by Jay O'Toole
on October 7th, 2022


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