Author Archives: DevilSugar

Sons of Plunder Short Story

Maki-Hera was standing on the deck of the Bastardos Machairi, enjoying the sounds of the open sea and the sight of a cloudless night sky. With only the helmsman at the other end of the ship, her solitude was perfect. Which naturally meant it couldn’t last. Borea, a political refugee, or so he claimed, came up from the quarters, looking a bit worse for the wear. “Something bothering you, old man?” She asked, teasing him just a little. He was barely two years her senior.
“Seasickness,” he replied, holding his stomach. “I thought the night air would help me feel better.”
“It’s a good thing you don’t like fish much,” she replied, recalling that he selected one of the ever-present oranges that her captain kept in the ship’s stores. He simply nodded, taking a deep breath and exhaling. “Oh, that’s a might better.” His eyes fixed on her, leaning against the bow. Grabbing onto the ropes to steady himself, he offered a smile, but she hardly seemed to notice. He decided to press a conversation on her. “Perhpas you can satisfy a curiosity for me.”
Maki-Hera much preferred to share the silence with the stranger, but maybe if she was nice enough he might find another sack of coins just for her like the one he gave to secure his passage. “Very well, let’s hear it.”
“Why did the captain make you his first mate?” It was a question she’d heard before. Indeed, a woman holding such a position was rather uncommon, but before she could gather the light details that would answer him without revealing too much about herself, he blurted out another question. “Are you his betrothed?” She finally turned her head toward him, at first looking confused, then she burst out in laughter.
“I hardly think-”
She waved a hand, cutting him off. “No, no, of course you would ask that. You don’t know him like I do.” She pushed herself off the bow to her full height, reaching back through time to when she was a little girl of seven. “Dagas and I, we’ve known each other since we were barely more than babes.He was another lost, little soul wandering the streets for scraps before he got taken in by his shipmaster. There was one day, I think it was Summer, we were playing. He was chasing me, and I, being older, had longer legs than him. I was up the stairs like a cat, and had already torn my way around the corner when I heard his poor little cries wailing out after me. He had falen and scraped his knees, trying to keep up with me. I stole some ointment from the market, dusted him off, dried his tears, and he said it was the first time anyone did something nice for him. I was only doing it to make sure he didn’t get smacked in the mouth for his bawling, Gods know I’d been treated that way enough times. But in that moment, my little heart flooded with love for this sweet, perfect boy. Where the fates took my family, they provided me with a baby brother I never knew I wanted. We’ve been thick as thieves ever since.”
Borea was touched by her story. “How sweet. A pair of orphans just looking out for each other. Look where you are now.”
She nodded, then confided in him, “You did touch on my greatest fear, however, with your question.”
“What?”
“If I was his betrothed. My deepest dread is the day that he falls in love with someone other than the sea. Once that day comes, i know I won’t have him as close as I have for all these years. He’ll go from a boy to a man before my eyes, and I’ll just be an old crone telling him to come see me like he used to.” She chuckled at her own exaggeration, but really, she wouldn’t know what to do with herself if Dagas just stopped sailing one day. At best, she could chase off her years awhile longer by joining another crew, but it wouldn’t be the same. When Borea broke the silence, she snapped her gaze to him, almost having forgotten he was there entirely.
“Well, that was quite a good story. I think I can rest easy now.”
“As good stories should make you feel. And Borea?”
He turned his head to face her, nearly stumbling into a rope before he caught himself.
“A word of this conversation to anyone on the ship, and you’ll be overboard before you know your feet are out from under you,” she warned. After he nodded his agreement, she turned her attention back to the moonlight dancing on the waves.

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December 30, 2018

We’re on the verge of a new year, and I think it’s marking the time for some changes. My Mother and I can’t seem to get along anymore. It’s been a year and somehow it seems we’ve just fallen into irreconcilable differences. She’s always been difficult to live with, but now she’s become more controlling than ever. Or at least she’s attempting. The fact that I’m not the same submissive boy I was when I left has led to an awful lot of butting heads. My favorite empty threat so far was that she threatened to give my entire inheritance to my brother. I wish she would so that I could be proven right in the knowledge that she doesn’t love me unconditionally. I wouldn’t say we’re beyond help but if we’re going to find it, one of us needs to make the move soon. I have no doubt that burden will fall on me. She spends her entire life looking at nonsense on her phone, but can’t be bothered to use it to do anything useful.

Anyway, work was definitely on the weird side this week. And now she’s outside my room again, demanding to speak with me. Well, that was productive. She tried to interrupt me in the middle of writing and again displayed her nastiest attitude when I calmly explained I was busy and refused to open the door. This is positively unproductive. Anyway, about work. With Christmas Eve and Day off, we got pushed back two days, which included working on my Brother’s birthday. That was terrible and not fun at all. It’s going to be weird next week as well, because we’ll have New Year’s Eve and Day off… and now she just threw a cup at my door. I believe it’s just been proven positive that we can’t live together anymore with that action. She wants to lecture me about not behaving like an adult. Now that’s a laugh. Here I am just trying to focus and write a simple weekly journal but if it doesn’t suit her, it can’t happen. Everything has to be on her time frame. I don’t think there’s a point attempting to reconcile the differences after all. She’s said before she doesn’t care, and it’s well shown through her actions. It’s definitely time to start looking for another place to live. I’ve had enough and won’t be disrespected by someone who claims to love me.

But back to work. We’ll have to work Friday and Saturday again, then have Sunday off, then have to work again on Monday. I know it’s going to be an absolute grind, but after that on Saturday there will be a concert that I have free tickets for so I’m sure it’ll be worth it to have that escape.

I didn’t make it to Church today, which I definitely regret. Perhaps I should make not missing it a resolution instead. I was doing rather well until the Winter months hit. At the very least, I need to keep my resolution of reading more, and follow the “Reading the Bible in One Year” plan.

Beyond that, I can’t focus right now. Might as well publish this and get it over with.

December 23, 2018

It’s been quite some time since I sat down to write a journal. The biggest change since then is that I’ve resigned from my second job, and I’m very relieved. Currently I’ve been pushing through a bit of a “what do I do now” slump, but with Christmas in two days, it’ll be nice to not have to worry about work so much. Things will get upended again next weekend, because we’ll be working Friday and Saturday to make up, but I think I’m ready. I didn’t realize the toll it was taking on me until I was out of it. Now I don’t have to worry about asking for time off regarding weekend concerts, I don’t have to keep an odd sleep schedule, and I can focus on developing other projects. It’s rather terrific. I suppose I had railroaded myself into this in the first place, but working seven days a week, with one part-time, very easy job was something I’d done before, so I was simply working from past experience.

Something crossing my mind now is getting out from under my Mom’s roof. With time open for dating again, I know it’s something I’ll need to take care of should I find someone who would make a good long term partner. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I have a lot of small things I let go by the wayside that I can begin bringing back into focus first. It’s funny that I’m writing this just as I finished hanging pictures in my room today, one of the small things that I had let go of.

My boxing trainer got a new job and can’t work with me on the same schedule he had before, so I’ll have to remember to ask him about starting Friday nights in January. I really miss pounding the heavy bag and working on combinations. Not to mention the competitive nature of it felt like it gave me a sharper focus. If I do move in with a renter, it would be nice to find someone with a place just about equal distance to work, the Church, and the gym. I’ll have to work my way through a budget plan before I jump ship.

Speaking of Church, neither I or my Mother went today, but we’re definitely going to Christmas Eve service tomorrow. I was ready to roll until I was eating breakfast, then almost immediately after my energy wiped out. I’ve been sick this week, so it must be that I still needed more time to recover. I had every intention of going to Bible Study as well as worship service, but better to be safe than sorry. I recall the service before Thanksgiving, the wisest words were that it had almost become a speed bump between Halloween and Christmas, as it’s not quite so commercialized as the two. I can definitely agree with the perspective, and I’m glad it’s never been seen as a “speed bump” in my household.

I just noticed, it’s been a year now since I’ve been home, and almost a year since I’ve been going to the church. I couldn’t have possibly anticipated how much I needed the lessons, the friends I’ve made, and the connection to the divine. Hopefully I can take some bigger part in giving back now.

Unlike how I normally end these, with a “looking forward to next week,” I’m going to close on “looking forward to next year.” I’d wondered about New Year’s resolution, and I noticed I’d been doing okay with this year’s resolution to take care of debt, I already joined a gym, so what could be left? Then I settled on it. I need to read more. Whether it be following the “Reading the bible in one year,” a work of fiction, or The Rational Male by Rollo Tomassi, I need to set aside some time, every week, at least, to just read like I used to. I think now I’ll have the opportunity to get it together like I’ve planned.

And next week I’m just anticipating it’ll be a little weird because of the holiday throwing the work schedule. The end!

Queen’s City short story

Aleks was smiling, a rare thing for him these days. Jackson even seemed to be in a good mood, which was even rarer. They had just found a great haul of supplies- a moonshine still which would catch a lot more water than the buckets during the rain, six bottles of motor oil, and what Jackson called “The Mother Lode” of Spam. Aleks didn’t know how he could stand eating so much “Stuff Posing As Meat,” as his Grandfather would call it, but as long as the grumpy veteran didn’t throw his cans around the hotel, he was fine.
Then the engine sputtered and stopped. The car slowed in a surreal, horrific fashion. “What the hell?” Aleks asked, trying the ignition. It was no good.
“Doesn’t say much for your mechanical prowess,” Jackson replied, already reverting to his cynical nature.
“You can talk or you can help,” Aleks shot back, giving him am angry look as he got out of the car. He was already upset by the car behaving this way, he didn’t need a smart mouth on top of it. He lifted the hood as white smoke rose from the center block. He already knew what the problem was as soon as he saw the source. “The timing belt’s burnt out.” He looked around. The savage streets were no place to be stranded.
“How much are we gonna carry?”
“What?” Aleks asked, puzzled by the very nature of the question. Jackson got out of the car and it felt like beneath his gas mask he was already at the end of his paitience. “Car’s stuck, kid. So how much are we gonna carry?”
“I’m not leaving Valkeree here! She’ll be stripped for parts by morning tomorrow!”
“Yeah, well, that’s the breaks, isn’t it?”
Aleks stared at him incredulously. He had built this car from the frame to the black primer finish. He wasn’t about to abandon it when a simple fix would do. “Why do you give up so easy?”
“Oh, of course, we can just push it to the nearest service station and say ‘Pardon me sir, aw shucks I just wrecked a belt, could ya fix ‘er up today?’ It’s time to come to grips with reality.”
Aleks was fuming, but he had a point. He then brightened up. “There was a garage, ten minutes ahead of us. I made a note to check it on the way back.”
“That’s ten minutes driving time. By the time we make it there and back, it’ll be dark. I’m calling it.”
“And what time do you think we’ll make it back to the hotel on foot, genius?” Being sarcastic with Jackson always sent him over the edge, but at this rate Aleks didn’t care.
“You have yourself a good time playing around with your hot wheels!” he shouted, and turned around, starting to walk off.
Aleks sighed. “Jackson, wait.” He hated reasoning with the jerk, but without him he’d be completely alone. “I’m sorry. Look, our best option is to get the belt and drive back. You don’t wanna leave all this behind, do you?”
He turned around to face the aryan boy ten years his junior. “What makes you think it hasn’t already been picked over?”
The reality hit him square in the jaw. Their current haul was lucky. The stores they’d hit were fairly secluded, but that garage was in plain sight on the main drag. Looking at the ground, defeated, he acknowledged “I really don’t have a better idea.” His idealism failed him once again. He felt so naive. Why couldn’t he just-
“Come on! None of that mopey crap!”
Aleks looked up at him, a pleading look in his eyes. He was more desperate for leadership than support. “Maybe… we sleep in the car?” As soon as he said it, he felt like Jackson was looking at him like he was the biggest moron he’d ever seen. “I’ll take first watch,” he offered, hoping to soften the blow.
“You’re really not gonna give up on this, are ya?” It was like Jackson felt a nagging sense of responsibility.
“An hour after daybreak, I’ll go check the garage for what we need. We’ll push her under that canopy,” he said, pointing at what used to be a drive-up ATM.
Jackson looked at it, then looked at him, and said “If we die tonight, I’m gonna give you hell for it for all eternity.”
Aleks smiled as he opened the door and gripped the steering wheel, getting ready to guide it as he pushed. “You don’t descend from Scandanavia. I’m going to Valhalla, you’ll probably end up in regular old Heaven.”
“Shut up, brat,” was all he said, putting his hands on the back bumper and digging his heels into the pavement. They would make it another night.

November 11, 2018

Skip one week and I’m almost out of touch with how to do this. Well, this week I mostly concentrated on my perception, and I think I’m finally relaxing and appreciating all the good things happening simply as they are, rather than continuously striving for better. The only thing I don’t have is independence, but the low cost of living in my situation has opened many avenues. Once I saw how much I’ve paid on my car, I felt great and that I needed to just enjoy having this opportunity.

At work, we’re going well over what used to be the usual daily mark, and I feel fantastic about it. I have no doubt that we’ll be ready to make the new quota when the merger is complete. I’m still very hungry to make team lead, but for the time being I can simply take pride in our collective accomplishment.

Friday, I went to see Bob Dylan, and it was an incredible concert. He played a mostly blues-based set, and while he didn’t get on guitar, he did play piano and his harmonica. The evening was admittedly a little hampered by some drunk lady who kept coming on to me, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I also had a great time at karaoke well into the night after the show let out.

Today in Bible Study we were going over some early chapters of the book of Peter. I’ll definitely have to read it for myself, but we had wonderful applications of the reading in our own lives of how struggle for good is rewarded, and that trials always pass. In worship today, we focused once more on the importance of giving, and thanking service personnel for Veteran’s day. Finally, a young woman joined the church who I had thought was already well part of us, and I told her “Welcome to the family that you’re already part of.” I told her that her part of her story focused on forgiveness had stuck with me for the many months since I heard it, and how I encouraged a friend to forgive as well.

Looking forward, I recognize I’ll be just fine if I keep doing things as I am. It may be difficult to deal with a few circumstances, and my desire to be on my own isn’t going anywhere, but the results are now speaking for themselves more loudly than they did previously. I need to be patient in receiving the rewards I’m working for.

October 28, 2018

This week has been much more relaxing than recent ones, and yet a bit more interesting. I started a boxing one-on-one class at my gym, and my personal trainer had said “We can do less cardio, because the boxing will get you there.” At the time, of course, I had taken him at his word, but there’s nothing like experience to confirm what I imagined it would be like. The intensity my teacher approaches with is very interesting to respond to, and definitely pulls me closer to “no excuses.”

The day after that, I had booked a massage therapist on my trainer’s recommendation, and it was a rather surreal experience. Between the low lights, the calm music, and so many tensions both in my body and mind eased away, it felt as if I was in a dreamlike state. I had to “come back to reality” at the end of the hour. I look forward to the next session on Wednesday.

At work, I found out my Team Lead had quit, and naturally inquired about advancing to the position myself. Apparently he did so as the company is going into a merger, so they’ll be holding interviews for the position soon. I’ve taken the opportunity to pray that I get it, if it be God’s will. I know I interview well for a new position, but I’ve never had to interview to advance. I’ll be sure to look up how to interview for a higher position, but at the same time I know I have to manage my expectations. After all, the higher I place my hope, the farther it has to fall. I was already disappointed when I didn’t get it the first time, but considering my attitude and thinking at the time, I can say I may have not been ready for it.

Rather than bible study and church today, our class held a tailgate party as a way to reach out to our community. I believe I saw some new faces, and I got to know Jake and his wife much more today. She immediately recognized Kaleo when I played it for Jake, and they recommended an Italian Pianist that I’ll have to listen to and follow up with them on. Corey and his wife brought the newest addition to their family, a sweet blue-eyed girl. At the end of the day, Nicole and Todd gave me a ride home and we talked about the Men’s retreat which will be coming in February. I didn’t go at the beginning of the year because I had just barely landed in Charlotte and started work, so I knew it wasn’t time to start asking off.

Looking into next week, I know I have some goals better defined. I’m already striving for greatness, and there’s the potential for it to pay off. Remaining cool, calm, and collected will be essential. I must also recognize the opportunity for growth. I’m hopeful and prepared for what comes next.

October 21, 2018

Compared to last week, this one has been nearly blissful. I felt very productive all week long. At my main job, we’re producing over the normal amount that I’ve been used to, and I got some equipment for an upcoming project. To quote The Simpsons, “Everything’s coming up Millhouse!”

The gym is paying off as well. I’ve lost eight pounds, and people are starting to notice. I thought I was a little less round when I saw myself in the mirror, and apparently I was correct. On top of that, I’ll be able to start a boxing class soon, so I’m tremendously excited. I was told it would take about three months to see the full transformation, but this is definitely fuel to see the new and improved me by January.

I was late for bible study today, but it was a brilliant concentration on effective communication, which has been something the YouTube videos I’ve been listening to lately have gone over. The biggest takeaway from it as a whole is that one must be actively listening, rather than just waiting for one’s turn to speak.

Today’s sermon was by and for the children, and Sherry made an interesting point how over the decades each generation loses something in societal and world advancement. At first, it seemed cynical, but I couldn’t deny the truth within it. Each of us got a card marking times we could volunteer, and I’m not sure if I could make any commitment of time but I’ll keep an open mind.

After service, I took the opportunity to help set up for the concert playing tonight. I was so glad I took the opportunity, because I met the gentleman who was baptized last week and told him how his story moved me. I really enjoyed working along my Christian brothers.

Looking forward to next week, I feel renewed. Things are definitely less of the same tired routine, and more about personal advancement. I just need to take continuous care to stay focused on the path.

October 14, 2018

This has been an terribly stressful week. We’ve had to keep my Brother’s two dogs, who are not well leash-trained, not well house-trained, and they bark at every sight and sound. Add to that the fact that my Mother just seems to raise her voice at every opportunity and I am completely out of patience. I crave to be living independently of her, but until my car is paid off, it would be unwise to jump into the responsibility for more expenses. Even so, the way she ignores my wishes, I’m not sure the tradeoff is worth it.

I’m really enjoying the visits with my personal trainer, and it does serve as an outlet to alleviate the stress, but I only go to the gym twice a week. I may be able to add Saturday classes soon, and I’m very hopeful to, assuming I can afford it. The investment I’m making in myself is well worth it and important to me. He and I went over my food log, and apparently I’m doing very well. I just need to cut juice and tea, so to that end I bought a juicer. I’m still trying to understand how to disassemble it without breaking it before first use, but I’m sure it’ll help. Particularly if I buy the books that guide nutrition.

Work has been going as well as ever, although I was slogging on Monday despite my best efforts. Even so, I’m taking more interest than I had after vacation. I just wish this hotel were as interesting as the previous one. Even so, the savings in fuel and time getting home are probably better than a few funny stories every week.

In bible study, we went over a myriad of ways that our small groups could begin. I’m excited to see what fruits it will bear, but altogether I wonder if I should change to first shift and take a hit in hours at my second job to open my time for more socialization. That, of course, would be in conflict with my professional goal of possibly advancing to team lead. I should pray for resolution.

In worship, we had three baptisms, and also took communion. Our baptisms were two youths and a gentleman who is my senior, and his story was deeply touching. I think what reached me the most today was when we sang Because He Lives, as the chorus helped me to regain my confidence under these burdens. It is “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know he holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because he lives.”

The dogs will be going home tomorrow, so I’ll be breathing a sigh of relief. I think I’ve found a bible study on the app to begin that I can invite Dan and possibly Madison to. Also, the church is hosting a tailgate party as part of community outreach, so I’ll be inviting my trainer and the owner of the gym. As awful as this week has been, I look forward to what the next holds

October 7, 2018

It’s certainly been difficult this week going back to work after being in paradise. I think my enthusiasm is slowly starting to return, but post-vacation funk definitely had a grip on me. Pair that with the disappointing news that my main job isn’t adding a third shift, and therefore I won’t be going team lead on it, and it’s hard not to wonder if there are greener pastures elsewhere. However, my current team lead is looking into bigger and better things, so it may not be that long after all until I can move forward, and move out on my own.

Speaking of, conflict at home came back very quickly. I told my buddies “you wouldn’t think we were just on vacation last week.” I floated the idea of family therapy, and my Mother was receptive to it, so perhaps we can move past our issues. I certainly hope so.

We had our last Circle Up meeting before deciding how to handle our groups going forward, and I’m hopeful to establish a group to meet with regularly. As much as I look forward to seeing the people at Church every week, it would be nice to gather more frequently, and stay engaged in a faith atmosphere.

The only other thing I can think of is that my personal trainer said I hadn’t lost a step during vacation, which was good news. I enjoy the bench press and what I can only think to call the parachute pull the most. It’s an exercise created by Navy SEALS who, during their paratrooping missions, would use their parachute belts to pull themselves at an angle, among other exercises.

Looking forward to next week, I can only consider how aggressive I should be in pursuing team lead.  It’s a job that matches my capabilities, but I need more money if I’m going to make it on my own. I’m hungry for it, and I know I have to be patient at the same time. It’s never easy to reconcile those two feelings at such odds,  but I’ve done it before and can again.

September 30, 2018

This week has been spectacular. As I signed out Monday morning, I knew I would be getting up when I wanted to, seeing my trainer in the afternoon, and not going anywhere near work for seven days. I loved every part of my trip to Savannah, and wouldn’t hesitate to go back.

The night we arrived, we took the dogs to the beach and it was fantastic to hear the tide, smell the salty air, and walk on wet sand again. Not long after there was a venue where a blues band was playing, which was great considering I missed my blues show the week previous due to the hurricane. The day after, we went to the aquarium, and I got to feed a horseshoe crab. I had no idea their mouths were at the center of their legs. We also walked the nearby nature trail and saw an incredible 300-year old Oak tree. We also visited the beach again that evening, and this time I just had so much fun letting myself get pushed by the waves.  After that was my birthday, and we packed in both a visit to the American Prohibition Museum and the play The Diary of Anne Frank. It was a spectacular day of history seen through two lenses.

The next day, we finally got to the beach during the daytime, and I played in the water for awhile before getting stung by a jellyfish. After a quick visit to the grocery store to pick up some vinegar, I felt fine and reflected that it was all part of a well-rounded experience. We then went for a Dolphin Tour, which had some interesting information, and caught another music act before settling in for the last night there and a long drive home.

Reflecting on my journey in faith, I completed the Bible Study plan Dan invited me to, and I’m looking forward to inviting him to one soon. In Bible Study, only Kevin and I were able to attend for Circle Up, so I’ll have to remember my other group members in prayer. I was also late in arriving, but it must’ve been the will of my Father because a young gentleman asked me if I knew where the youth were meeting. I was able to figure it out and delivered him to the Youth Minister, and said it was very interesting to be called upon as a shepherd.

In worship, we were joined by another church, which was a great opportunity to have a new perspective as Dr. McGowan gave his message. At some points it was challenging, because it reintroduced something that I interpreted as possibly transnational win-lose thinking, which was one of the things I had to correct. Perhaps it does have its place and applying positive win- win thinking all the time could lead to disappointment if not measured against reality. I’ll have to analyze future events through those lenses. In either case, it goes hand-in-hand with last week’s message that we must not only not lose focus, but also continue to invite others to follow Christ in their lives. I may have become a bit shy about discussing faith in my everyday life over the past months, but with it brought more into focus I know I can correct it.

In conclusion, I’ll be returning to work tomorrow and I’m making a concentrated effort to enjoy that notion. I do look forward to asking about the potential to team lead a third shift next year, and I’ll enjoy discussing my trip with my own team lead. All in all, it was a greatly rejuvenating experience, and so must be the return to the day’s labor for a day’s wages.