Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chapter Twenty Two: Jimmy takes me to Red River to hang out with his theater crowd

Jimmy found me in a few days and said he would like to take me to Red River where had lived off and on for many years.  He said he thought I would fit in well there, but that I should just go there and live and get acquainted with people to see how I did with the theater people.  He said movie people were mixed up with them, but they were mostly theater people, well read, articulate, the kind I would probably have enjoyed in my youth had I been born among them.
The fact that I had been the daughter of a cattle rancher who lived in a remote area in a western state was the anomaly that made the difference.  He said these people were always studying what caused the tragedies in people's lives, which is why he found them helpful.  They had reached out to him after his early demise and tried to make up some for all he had lost out on by dying so young.  He said he put me in a somewhat similar category as himself.
I had not died, but had been the victim of a crippling physical condition that kept me a prisoner in the environment in which I had been born.  It was my fate just as dying young had been his fate.  He said he thought I was a gifted writer and would have been readily accepted by the most talented people in the world, had I been in a position to move about freely among them.
 I protested that I would probably have never been able to do that, since I was a woman.  He said, I know, I know, it is tougher for women to become successful writers, but let us not argue about that now, just go and stay in Red River for a while and see what happens. 
I had been in Red River for about a week before I got into a notable conversation.  I would go out and sit in the park where I was apt to encounter people.  I was doing everything I could to attract the attention of someone.  Finally a gentleman, white haired, rather handsome, about my age, sat down beside me, one day.
"I see you are new here," he said.  "I understand that you are one of Jimmy's friends.  He told a few of us about you and said you had lived a difficult life, so he was bringing you here for a recovery period.  He said you wrote plays."
I told him, yes, I did but had very few produced.  I produced a couple myself and my son produced one and another man, one, and that was about it.
"I don't require that people be famous before I talk to them," he laughed.  "It is enough for me that you are here. I intend to find out for myself what you are about, although I admit Jimmy rather piqued my curiosity with what he said about you. Do you have family?"
"I haven't looked up most of my family," I said, "as I think it would take a long time for us to become compatible. We always disagreed.  I disagreed with practically every family member I have," I added.  "I could not meet up with one of them without getting into some kind of big argument."
"Really?" said the man.  "By the way, my name is Perry.  But I am intrigued.  You argued with all your family, even the older ones?"
"Yes, every one of them," I said promptly.  "I didn't always tell them what I thought, as some would not allow it, but if I had been able to speak my mind, we would have clashed."
"Really?" Perry kept saying.  I looked at him sharply.  "Didn't you disagree with your family?" I asked.  "I thought anybody who did any serious writing had trouble with their families."
"It's hard to argue with success.  I happened to have written a best seller my first time out of the publishing box, and they were so amazed at the money I was making, they managed to approve, I suppose."
"Oh, well, success made all the difference," I said.  "I hadn't the slightest chance of having that kind of success, I knew quite well."
"Why not?"
"Oh, because my novels were always about unacceptable behaviors.  In my first novel, the heroine marries a man who comes through town, very handsome and charismatic, who is roaming around the United States seeing all the beautiful out of the way places.  He is a very talented jazz musician, but unfortunately he is a bisexual, which the young heroine does not realize until she insists on accompanying him to the city to live, and sees him under different circumstances and after they have had four children."
"Oh dear," said Perry, "So what happens?"
"Well, of course, she decides that she can't stay married to him even though he promises her he will try to be faithful to her if she is willing to have about six more children.  He thinks it will take that many to motivate him to break these old bad habits. But she does not trust him and tells him to go.  Besides during one of the intervals when he is away in the city for a number of months, she falls in love with another man who is visiting his brother.  The novel ends with the beginning of that romance, although I hate to say it, I think she will find out he is a bisexual, too."
In spite of himself, Perry began to laugh.  "I hope you don't mind my laughing at such a woeful tale, but I couldn't help it with your twist at the end.  You really do not have a lot of faith in man-kind do you?"
"I wanted Marlon Brando to play the jazz musician," said Shadra, "I kept trying to contact him telling him about this great part I had for him.  I could just see Marlon working for the girl's grandfather as this jazz musician character, learning the ways of the rancher.  The grandfather character just loves men from the outside world and is always hiring transients to work for him.  He loves the jazz musician who seduces his granddaughter when she is only fifteen years old."
Perry kept on laughing.  He could not seem to stop laughing.  "I suppose the grandfather is a bisexual, too."
I looked at him sharply, wondering why he was continuing to make fun of me.
I ignored him and went on talking about Marlon Brando.  "You know Marlon Brando's signature movie was "One-Eyed Jacks" the title of which I took to mean he was crippled some way.  He kept full control over that movie and took months to make and edit it. So don't you think the relationship he had with Karl Malden, his partner-in-crime character, was far more significant than any relationship he had with a woman in that movie? That innocent little Mexican girl he took up with, oh, she reminded me of the character in my novel, except she was even more painfully naive. She was no match for Brando.  Her character did not carry enough weight.  Of course, Brando would never have taken the part in my novel because I was too explicit about the bisexuality.  He felt he needed to protect his career in the movies to some extent.  It was my perception he did not feel you could call a spade a spade in Hollywood.  You could all but call it a spade, but you had to fall short of the truth, so we disagreed before we ever met."
"A very disagreeable character you are indeed," laughed Perry.  "Brando is over here now you know."
"I have no desire to see him," I said.  "I long since stopped being fascinated with him.  It is going to take him a long time to become a decent human being again. He compromised, you know, in spite of himself.  I don't want to talk about what he did to disillusion me, but I would not be able to get along with him either, I know."
Perry said, "Well, my first novel was my big success, and then after that I somehow lost the hang of it.  I was never able to write a best seller again.  So success did not ruin me, it just gave me enough of a taste for high living that I could never go back to being what I was before.  I just kept riding on that one success, while of course, doing lesser writing projects to keep the wolf from the door and and to keep hanging out with the rich and famous. I don't know whether I have proved worthy of your company or not, but I find you too amusing to fight with.  Doesn't it ever occur to people that you say stuff for shock value, but if you have a good sense of humor, which I do, you are a great conversationalist.  Why you have said more in our first conversation than most ordinary people do in a month of Sundays."
"Why thank you," I said modestly.  "I always hope I will not disappoint the intelligent, even if I do upset the opinionated but not quite so bright category."
"Next week, I would like to take you to meet a woman friend of mine, Bella.  I am sure you will find
Bella to be quite a trip. Are you willing to take a chance?"
"Certainly," I said.  "I am here to learn and to meet people.  I hope I will learn something new by meeting Bella."
"You will," promised Perry.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chapter Twenty One: Wondering whether I can find the right hereafter for me

I had figured out that if I wanted to see somebody I just thought about them very intensely and they were apt to show up.  I wanted to tell Jimmy Dean that I had found out where my dad was.  I wanted to get Jimmy's advice on how to look for the best hereafter for me.
James did not seem surprised when I told him that my cousin Pace had told me my dad was living in the hereafter for gay men.  He said that he spent quite a lot of time talking to bisexuals, too, in that hereafter who had been molested as he had been when he was just a young boy.  Elizabeth Taylor, the famous movie actress, released a statement not long before she died I had also read that in a long confidential talk James Dean told her, when they starred together in his last movie, that a pastor who was supposed to be helping him after the death of his mother molested him.  He must have been an adorable young boy.  I felt very bad for him when I read that.  I had not been privy to this information when I was talking to him in his spirit form after he was killed, but I knew that something had precipitated his death in the car wreck.
Otherwise his natural instincts would have kicked in and kept him from keeping a date with death at such a young age.  I did not think that anything happened purely by chance.
Jimmy said yes, it was true, that he knew that he was very fragile and that becoming a famous movie star might possibly be the death of him, and it was.  I believed him because I had always known that I was no longer strong enough to be a mother plus a famous playwright, too.  I thought becoming a mother would be more fulfilling and a sure thing, so I chose to be a mother and let my ambition to become a famous playwright go, even though I thought I was capable of writing some powerful plays.
Jimmy said during our talk that he thought Tyrone was very talented, too, but he would have to go very easy or he could easily lose his life, trying to become too famous.  He said some people were destined not to be able to take the harsh spotlight of notoriety which could be very dangerous.  He said he thought Tyrone would be all right if he just did not aim too high.
I told Jimmy I thought my dad had been drawn into sexual activities with older males, probably when he was very young, since he tampered with alcohol and tried to be too tough even when he was a kid, so I thought he like Jimmy had been unable to be normal due to other people impacting his life certain ways.  He could not have helped what happened to him any more than I could help having been molested at a very young age by one of the men my dad actually brought too close to his family without knowing them well. But I told Jimmy I would probably need to find a hereafter for the children of such men who accepted this kind of weakness in their dads.
Naturally the ones who did not accept that their dads might have a split personality would not be there.
Jimmy said no, they would probably seek some kind of religious heaven where homosexuality was thought to be a grievous sin.  I had been so young when I perceived my dad's split due to the whole experience of being molested by one of his 'friends, that I had learned to accept it, but I knew my sisters did not accept it and doubted whatever evidence I offered, which was circumstantial, but there had been quite a lot of that.  I did not want to catch my father in a sexual act with a male, and I hadn't, but I had still seen enough to convince me that he had a problem in this area.  But I was very tired of arguing with my sisters about this subject, and I just wanted to go to a hereafter where I would not be expected to argue and fight with anybody.  I asked Jimmy if that was possible.
He said he thought so, because of course heaven was not a place for family fights.  He wondered if I could tolerate any family disagreements at all, even mild ones.  I said I doubted that we would ever be able to agree about this subject, as it was a difficult one.  And the worst thing about being molested was probably the role my dad played in bringing the guy around.  He made him jealous and angry one day and he saw me and decided to take revenge.  He dragged me off down around the hill and hid me in the corn where I experienced probably the worst experience in my life.  I was barely more than a baby and was sexually attacked by an ugly older man about forty. He didn't physically harm me during any of the three times he abducted me, but he had left scars on my soul and emotional trauma that was still giving me problems mainly because of this man's relatively temporary connection to my dad. 
I decided not to tell my dad who I thought would take his gun and try to murder him, if possible.  A man would be dead and he would be the murderer which I thought would be bad for the family.
Jimmy said he had told very few people about being molested, obviously, as he thought if such an experience came to light his career in the movies would be over as producers wanted to think their gorgeous young stars were healthy and innocent and his bad experience had unfortunately gone on too long not to be damaging.  And now he was in Hollywood, bisexuals were hitting on him all the time.  Coming out with an experience of being molested just wasn't done by a young rising star.  He thought producers would think it better if he got killed in a car accident.  So he proceeded down the dark road to his death, sensing all the time that it was coming but not able to save himself, just as he had been unable to save himself from a too helpful pastor when his mother died.  Bad thing after bad thing kept happening in his life.  He got to expecting it, so when the car suddenly darted in front of him, and he was unable to prevent a fatal collision, he was ready to accept the hand that fate had dealt him without protest.
"There was a lot of speculation about whether you might be a young bisexual," I told him.
"Oh yes," he said, "every story in the world went around about me, but I doubt if anything rumored was as bad as the truth."
"What kind of hereafter did you try to find after you expired in a violent car crash?" I asked.
"I was like you.  Every place I thought to go hurt my head.  I found my mother but I still could not understand why such terrible things happened to both of us. So I can understand why you need a particular place to go, tailored to your needs."
"People cannot help but victimize the victim, kill the messenger who brings bad news."
"No, because the story of a young person being victimized makes everyone feel unsafe, but believe me we have many victims coming here, so there are hereafters created just for them."
"I may not be able to see my family for a long time, as I have to quit fighting with them.  I am never going to get healthy again if I have to keep fighting about the past."
"That is right.  Every member of a family has a different experience.  The dad they experienced is not going to be the dad you perceived, so in order not to quarrel about who is right, family members just might have to agree to disagree and accept separation as a family."
"I don't see any other solution," I said, "which is why I did not go and try to find my dad. I am not eager to talk to any member of my family if all we are going to do is fight about what happened back then.  That goes for aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmas, grandpas.  Anybody I think I might get into a big disagreement with I would rather not see."
"I can certainly understand that," said Jimmy, surprisingly.  "The fighting has to stop sometime.  It is more important that you rest from fighting than it is for you to be a family.  This happens more often than you think.  Parents get to fighting.  They separate.  So it is natural for their kids to have huge disagreements, too, siding with one parent or the other, or with neither."
"I am weary to the bone with family fighting," I said.  "I lived with a lot of different members so it is unbelievable how many of my family I have had disagreements with!" 
"I will look around," said Jimmy, "and see if I can find a place where you might go to get rejuvenated. If you have been living in a mixed society of the religious as well as skeptic family members, you have experienced probably one of the most contentious societies possible. We are well aware that people are coming here, battle weary, and tired.  Needing rest from constant conflict.  Keeping that in mind, I will try to find some answers, and will let you know when I think I have found a place for you to go."
Jimmy left me somewhat puzzled about what he could possibly do for me, but he seemed confident he could come up with something.  I was alone again.  Still nervous and unable to think of anything I could do, I just sat.  And finally I must have dozed off.....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chapter Twenty: The hereafter is not what you expect it to be

It is funny how reality in the hereafter is so different from hype. But of course people are going to different places, including what could be referred to as hell.  I thought of the Camp of the Resisters as the most horrifying place I had seen in the hereafter so far.  I just hoped few of my outlaw relatives had landed there.  It was bad enough to think Terrance was there after all the work I had put in to him. How long he would be there I did not know, or if he would succeed in destroying himself completely as he seemed bent on doing.
I was going to have to go out there again one of these days and see if there was any change in the blank expression on his face.
As I was walking down the street in the city of Phoenix with me hardly even realizing it, my surroundings changed to another place I could not readily identify, but one of the first people I saw that I knew was my cousin Pace from my dad's side of the family. I just ran into him on the street, so I must have been looking for somebody like him, unconsciously.
I was really relieved to see Pace, who was about two years older than I was.  We had punched cattle together for our Grandfather McDermott who we called Grandpa Mc.  If Pace had stayed out of the Camp of the Resisters there was hope for some of my other McDermott relatives as he drank quite a lot.  I think he even died of an alcohol related cause.  
"Pace, I am glad to see you!  How is your dad?"  (His dad Jed was my my dad's oldest brother)
"Okay, I guess.  Haven't see him for a while."
What did that mean?  I was sure his dad had spent some time in hell.  He had been found dead, a suspected suicide in his early fifties.  Surely that qualified him for some years there, but how exactly were people sentenced?  Did they sentence themselves, or did it just happen?  None of that was clear to me yet.
I didn't want to ask Pace too many questions for fear I might offend him.  I tried to think of what I could ask him that might be acceptable.
"Is Eddie here?  I mean do you see him often?"  Eddie was his older brother I knew even better than I did Pace, since he had worked on Grandpa's ranch when I was in my teens.  I had also seen him more in later years, since he came home on vacations and stayed longer than Pace ever did when he came, probably because Eddie was single and unattached.
"I see him and Gordon both," said Pace.
Gordon was still another brother who had died in his early twenties, a very tragic alcohol related death.
"Did you have to serve a term in hell?" I said boldly.
Pace looked startled. "Of course," he said.  "All of us drinkers are bound to go there, but I am out now."
"Out of hell?  What is it like?  A prison?"
"Naw," said Pace laughing.  "I just sentenced myself to some serious thinking when I got over here.  I had already quit drinking quite a few years before I passed.  Gordon and Eddie told me what they did when they got over here, so I sort of let them guide me.  That's one good thing about having older brothers.  Have you seen your sister Coral?"
"Oh yes, she was with me quite a few days, but there is so much to learn.  She has a job she thinks is very important that she had to get back to, so I am pretty much on my own now.  Have you seen my dad?"
"Uh, no," said Pace, looking at me in a way that I found hard to decipher.  I decided to face the worst if I could find it out from him.
"Is he in the Camp of the Resisters?"
"Oh that camp," said Pace.  "I have heard of that place.  No, but I think he is in a place where I don't usually go."
"Where is that?"
"The hereafter for gay men."
I almost choked.  "Is there a hereafter for gay men?"
"I'll say.  It is very big.  What would your dad be doing there?  Was he gay?"     
"He certainly never admitted he was."
"I wondered, because Eddie goes over there.  He says it is to see some of his buddies, but I think it is for him, too."
"Eddie never admitted he was gay either."
"Country guys are never going to admit they are gay.  They don't have a gay community to back them up, so they are going to deny they are gay until hell freezes over."
I sat down as I felt all the air had gone out of my lungs.  This was a killer conversation I was having with Pace, the like of which I had never had with any of Daddy's relatives while we were all alive. I just did not know what to say to Pace, where to take this.
Pace seemed to know it was time to go.  He got up and said, "I need to go somewhere, but it was great running into you, Shadra. I am sure Eddie would really like to see you.  Gordon would, too, although you were probably too young to remember him very well.  My two sisters are here, too. And my youngest brother Denny, who died of pneumonia when he was just a little kid.  We are all here now but Teresa.  She might live to be a hundred the way she is going. She never took up smoking or drinking like the rest of us, who didn't know any better." 
"Thanks for filling me in, Pace," I said.  "I am glad I ran into you."
I watched Pace go down the street, his tall figure very slender even though he was up in his eighties and his hair had turned snow white.  I bet he still looked awfully good on a horse.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chapter Nineteen: The hereafter is where people who never got the breaks in life get another chance

I was very gratified to learn from Jimmy that he had been keeping track of my lack of opportunity to shine with my talent in the world I had left behind, and was determined to see that I got the chance to see one of my plays performed on a big stage in the hereafter.
My son Tyrone was the only one who had ever produced one of my plays besides me.  When I was still young and strong enough I took one of my plays on the road to several towns besides my hometown. That was so exciting! How I loved it, but there are many people who never get a chance to realize their dreams.  They must be without number. 
I bought a Sunday newspaper and read the theater reviews.  I imagined my own play, Daughters of the Shadow Men, being featured in such a newspaper.  The one play that Tyrone produced had merited had merited a bad review in this paper. Well, that play had been all about being poor and living on welfare.  I supposed that it had been too grim for the critics.  I recall the critic said, 'the subject of struggling with poverty cries out for great plays to be written about it, but unfortunately this play is not the one we have been waiting for.'
The critic pasted a big prominent one star (out of a possible 5) above the review for the whole city to see.  I was so mortified I wished that I could have just deleted the whole experience of being reviewed and featured in the paper from my consciousness.  Well, possibly it was a little bit my fault, maybe some of Tyrone's, but it had not been as memorable an experience for me as I had hoped for, even though I thought everyone's intentions were good, Tyrone's, mine, and the cast's.
And that ended my short and not very notable career as a playwright in this city.  Playwrights with new plays were still not faring very well.  Tyrone was directing a new play written by a New York actor he had once cast in one of his plays he produced, probably his most successful farce in those years. I thought the actor was very good in his part, and the reviews were, for a change, quite good.
Now years later, the actor was partially disabled and unable to act any more, so he was writing plays instead.  I hoped to be able to see the play.  As for Tyrone, he had not done a play here in this city for years.  He had gotten so sad and disillusioned with the reception to his immortal works that he left the city.
Was it a good city for plays or a bad city?  Well, it wasn't New York and it wasn't Los Angeles.  My sister Deanna wanted Tyrone to come to San Francisco where she was sure his plays would have great success.  She said those people knew theater.  They would appreciate what he could write.
Tyrone did not have the money to go to San Francisco.  His truck looked like one its eyes had been knocked cuckoo.  There was a dent in the fender.  He could hardly afford car insurance for it let alone a newer vehicle.  The last one he tried to buy had to be repossessed.  Poverty was now hitting Tyrone where he lived.  He had even talked about checking out the homeless centers, but Rafe agreed to let him stay to his house while he directed this play.  But it was plain even Rafe was getting impatient with his brother's hard times.  He had even mentioned he should get a real job like he had to do, years before.
He did not  realize that Tyrone was an entertainer, first, last and always, and was not capable of surviving a  'real' job any more he was so worn out from throwing such energy into entertaining.  So now he was singing for his supper wherever he could get the work, directing this play, and talking about starting another theater company up in my home town, if he could get some financial backing.
Hard times were palpable everywhere, especially for entertainers.  People couldn't afford to pay a lot for their entertainment now days, but it did not seem like times had ever been flush for a woman playwright like me.  They had been better for Tyrone, handsome, charismatic and male, who could act, direct, and write.
It was a good thing I had died.  Maybe Tyrone could get declared either mentally ill or a broken down old physical wreck and take my place in the old LeGrand Hotel.  But it was even harder to get federal disability benefits now than it had been when I got them through being certified chronically mentally ill.  Tyrone needed to act a little more nuts, possibly, so he'd at least qualify in a few years.  People thought he was nuts all right to try to become a famous playwright still, after all these years, but would that satisfy the feds? Their qualifications for chronically mentally ill may have gotten more stringent.  Tyrone would say that he was magnificently insane, but I doubted that would impress them. 
Would it make him feel better if he knew that the once famous James Dean was going to produce my play in the hereafter, maybe even to that big theater where he had taken me that night in my dream?  I knew I had traveled to the beyond in my spirit form, because I could feel myself going and coming back.  I recall sitting in the theater, feeling so excited and satisfied.
Well, maybe they didn't make such a big fuss about recognition in the hereafter. Surely people weren't so shallow after having gone through their own deaths.  Maybe they were just a little bit more humble and inclined to share.
As for me, everyone had given up on my plays since I had gotten too old and decrepit to promote them at all any more.  Now Jimmy was telling me that my career in the spotlight was just going to begin!  How could that be.  He had been cut down when he was so young.  Surely people did not get famous in the hereafter. That did not sound right.
I would hardly be able to endure the hereafter if it was going to have all the same old crowd being famous, but if I didn't want to be famous what did I want to be?
I felt like crying again, and decided I had to go back and see what Tyrone was thinking, even if that dratted dog of his did see me.  She was part border collie.  Tyrone said he was her sheep herd.  He was her job, so anything that affected him she was going to react to if she could.

When I went into Tyrone's I thought of how angry he might be about me spying on him and snooping into his business, but he was having such a time of it, and I was so excited about my news I could not help myself.
Tyrone was talking on the phone, as he often did.
"I miss Mom so much," he said, shedding a tear.  "I hope she is getting her plays done in heaven.  I wish now I had done more of her plays, but I just could not get them done.  Now I will never have the chance to see her smiling face when I produce one of her plays.  She wanted me to do her play "Daughters of the Shadow Men" the worst way, but I was frankly afraid to do that play.  Nobody was going to touch it.  We have got her memoir Daughters of the Shadow Men but she left instructions that if necessary not to published it for 100 years after her death!  It might take a hundred years to cool that memoir off.  What is it about?  Oh, outlaws. Mom was the daughter of a guy who was kind of like the western mafia.  You do not tell their secrets if you are smart.  She was always afraid she was going to get killed."
I sat down in the chair, trembling.  Jilly raised her head, gave me a look, and decided not to make an issue out of me being there.  She acted like well, okay, you are back, you are his mother, so no matter how spooky you are I guess it is my job to accept and not to question why.
Whoever was on the other end of the line must have laughed, thinking that Tyrone was just kidding as usual, but he was not in a way.  Daddy did have criminal tendencies, but I was not afraid he was going to kill me when I was young, I was afraid he would try to kill anybody who hurt me, and he wasn't the best shot in the world, so it was not certain who would die if guns got involved.  Later, of course, Daddy tried to shut me up every chance he got, in the way of those old western outlaws.
Everybody was an outlaw in those days, even the religious ones.  After polygamy was introduced Mormonism was called a cult. Daddy wasn't a polygamist, far from it, but some of my other ancestors had been.  I was only trying to tell a true story about what I had witnessed growing up in such a wild west among a bunch of outlaws.
It was hard to explain Daddy, but I had tried in my play and my memoir and even a novel all by the same name, Daughters of the Shadow Men.  Whatever form it took to tell the story, I was going to try everything.
"No," said Tyrone on the phone. "I would never do her play by that name.  I didn't tell her that, but nobody wants to see a play like that, even if somebody dared to produce it.  They are going to have to be brave even to produce it in the hereafter."
Was Tyrone nuts?  He was trying to make this story sound so terrible it could not even be told.  Daddy was just human.  As long as people were human their stories could be told.  But what if Daddy was in the Camp of the Resisters?  He had shown no sign of reforming in his last days on earth.  He was defiant to the last, still shutting me up, still trying to control me.
What if he had never changed?  Poor Daddy.  What if he had become like those other hollow eyed men I had seen in the Camp of the Resisters.  I thought he was about as hard core resistant as anybody I knew to change, reformation, repentance, what have you.  He was like flint stone, cold and mean when he got his back up. Just an ordinary old tough as nails westerner.
Mafia.  Well, he wasn't a cold blooded killer like the mob.  But what did happen to those people given to so much resisting, that you despaired they could ever act like you and me?  I felt I had a mission on earth, I had been sent into hell to try to see if anything could reach this man.
Nothing had touched him that I knew of.  He had never let it it be known if anything had gotten to him, oh yes, once he said to me after I came out of the mental hospital, 'You would steal the soul right out of a man's body!"
What did he mean? He never said.  He shut up and never said a thing like that ever again.  It was no wonder I was afraid to see him again.
What if I looked the old devil right in his mean red eyes, when I come face to face with my dad once again. I swore that I would never talk to him again, if he did not back down and start talking to me with respect instead of contempt and willfulness.  He told me something else years after I got disabled that I never forgot, during his last year on earth, "As far as I am concerned, you have landed in the gutter."  What he meant was that I was a complete loser.  I had never accomplished anything, and could not even work at anything he respected. "All you can do is sling hash!" 
I felt despair over him being so cruel.  He could not acknowledge disability in a daughter.  She was just lazy.  She did not want to work. She certainly had not done what he had done, made a million dollars to leave to his heirs when he was gone.  With sheer will and hard work, he implied.  So all he had for me at the end were sneers.
Well, I could hardly avoid him forever now that I was in the hereafter, but I was sure going to have to work up my nerve to see what had become of him.
I was so distracted I could no longer pay attention to what Tyrone was saying.  I couldn't tell him my news anyway, but he had picked up on it.  He did say that he hoped someone was going to produce my plays in the theater in the hereafter.What more could I expect of him?
I wandered out and down the street.  Wondering where to go now.  Pretty soon I was lost.  I turned and saw the sun setting.  Just then I saw a man on a horse riding my way.  I started running away from him.  I turned back and he had disappeared.  No, he wasn't going to bother me if I did not want to be bothered.  There was still time to think about and prepare for that fateful meeting day.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chapter Eighteen: I run into James Dean, former movie actor, sitting on a bench in the city's theater district

I left the LeGrand Hotel where I had lived around seventeen years among the aging and disabled.  It was a government housing complex which had also become known for the number of chronically mentally ill who had been able to find homes there.  I had to be certified as mentally ill in my fifties since it was too hard for medicaid doctors to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome which I appeared to have rather than any serious mental illness.  I was far too good a novel writer and playwright I thought to be nuts, although it could be argued that all writers are insane. 
At the time I was in need of being certified I had collapsed and had hardly been able to walk around for months.  I had gone from walking as high as five miles a day to barely being able to walk across the street.  I still had my car, fortunately, as it had not been stolen from me yet. The doctor who first treated me said I had tested positive for mono but not too a high degree.  He had warned me, however, that mono was treacherous and not to overdo, but after a year he lost all patience with my claims that I still was not well and said he would certify me as temporarily disabled one more time in order to qualify for welfare benefits since my job benefits had run out.  But only if I would see a psychiatrist as I should have long since recovered from mono!
No! I had been talking to a number of people who said they had had great difficulty recovering from mono, some of whom were scared to death of it, since they had gotten it a second and even a third time when most doctors thought it was only possible to have it once.  Maybe I had chronic mono, but I could not find any doctor who believed that was possible.
Finally, after still not recovering and needing to be certified more times as disabled, I finally agreed to go to a psychiatrist on the chance that he might certify me as chronically mentally ill so I could qualify for federal disability benefits.  
I had been told I would be in the street pushing a grocery cart if I did not not qualify for help after my last kid graduated from high school.
I thought well, I could tell my life story and I thought I could make a case for mental illness if I had to.  Since I had nearly died in a mental hospital.  That very rarely happened, so I must have been extremely mentally ill.  I had not even realized that mental illness could kill.  
I accepted the fact that I became extremely mentally ill while I was in the psych ward.  In fact, I was so ill, that the doctors let me go home, thinking I needed to go to another kind of hospital if I was going to die on them.  Dying of mental illness was so rare they just were not prepared to care for someone mortally crazy.  My room mate died the second night I was in the psych ward, and that quite upset the staff, but she had cancer, and had transferred to the psych ward to see if she could find someone to talk to.  She seemed to have an idea that psychiatrists offered talking services in the mental wards,  but complained to me all one day that nobody would talk to her, they were all too busy, and she was going to die without the help she needed.
I thought it was reasonable to want to find someone to talk to before you died, about death, you know, how to accept it and so on, and that if they weren't offering these services in hospitals they should have done.
I just was not up to the electric shock therapy they were treating all the mentally ill with in those days. I had already had a bad enough bout of chronic fatigue I thought I was going to die, so I was afraid that electric shock therapy would be the worst possible treatment from someone suffering from it.  Of course most doctors would tell you they didn't believe in CFS, especially in those days, and mental patients were always trying to get out of shock treatments.  Most of them hated it.  So they were just going to go ahead and schedule me for a few anyway, despite my objections.
My parents signed the papers.  They were all set to go, but the very thought of shock treatment threw me into such a severe bout of chronic fatigue it nearly killed me. I had planned my funeral during the last severe bout I had.  What did they expect?
I made a believer out of them.  They scheduled me for release in about ten days, requiring no treatment what so ever, just to make sure I recovered from what happened when they started talking about giving me shock treatment. They acted responsibly. They studied me but covered any possibility of a lawsuit just in case by requiring me to sign a paper I had entered the psych ward voluntarily, which as a matter of fact, could not have been further from the truth.  I figured if they required me to sign such a paper they were confused, too, about what was really wrong with me.  I took pity on them and signed the paper before they changed their minds about letting me go.
So there was no question I had something seriously wrong with me, which could just as well be called chronic mental illness as chronic fatigue syndrome.  There was no known test that could clearly detect what had come to be known as CFS, and psychiatrists had to make educated guesses about who was really mentally ill and who wasn't.
I didn't mind being certified as mentally ill if it would keep me off the streets, homeless, pushing a cart, because I was too weak to work.
I was walking in downtown Phoenix, Arizona thinking about all this when I noticed I had come to the big downtown theater complex.  I could tell it was the theater building by the life size sculptures of dancers placed around the grounds. A man was sitting on one of the outside benches I thought I recognized.  When he called me by my nickname, "Shadow!" I was positive I knew him.
When I got up close I saw that the man was James Dean, still very handsome but about my age, who had died in that awful car crash years ago when he was only 22 and was mourned world wide because he was thought to be at the top of his game as a young actor, sure to have a great career in the movies.
"Shadow, how good to see you!"  He got up and shook my hand vigorously.  "Come over here and sit down.  I have so much to tell you now that you have finally arrived in the hereafter."
Years before, for quite a long time after he died, James Dean had communicated with me, as such spirits often do with talented mediums after enduring a shocking early demise.  They can get through to them when all others have stopped thinking about them. James Dean just wasn't done with people on earth yet.  He needed to keep talking to somebody for a while.  He needed me as much as I needed him.
I told James at the time that I thought I had such an affinity to him because I had been forced to live a shadow life ever since my near death experiences.  I really did not feel I was ever going to be able to live a normal, healthy, vigorous life again.  I would do what I could do, but it was though I was wearing hobbles.  I was so limited.  But of course I was not nearly as limited as he was now.  He was dead.
Not very long before James was killed I had a dream about him, me, and Marlon Brando.  I dreamed that we had some kind of partnership that worked after a fashion, only somebody was under the ice.  So I was not really that surprised when James was killed.  I was writing letters to Marlon Brando at the time, trying to interest him in some of the plays I was writing.  I had written him a leading role in one of my first full length plays, but I had a premonition that I would not be able to communicate with him except in the spirit either.  Too many playwrights and screen writers wanted to reach the great Marlon Brando.  He could not have possibly responded to them all.  There just weren't enough talented actors to go around.
I wrote down the communications I got from James Dean for a number of years, but eventually I threw them away.  I wrote down communications because writing them gave them more substance, for a while anyway.
It had been a long time since I had communicated with James on a regular basis, but one memorable night he had even come in a dream and taken me to a large theater he said was in the hereafter somewhere.  He told me one of his plays was being produced and he wanted me to see it.  I recall sitting and watching it, and thinking it was very complex, very satisfying, and after it was over I remember him bringing me back.
Now here we were meeting in the spirit outside a large theater complex in Phoenix.
"This is like the theater you saw when I brought you to see my play," said James, laughing, reading my mind as spirits are so fond of doing, "but in an alternate universe.  You know that the major players from the theater world are all moving into the hereafter. And some of us have been waiting for you to arrive.  I told you when you got to the hereafter I would be the first one to produce one of your plays, to thank you for all the hours and days and years you spent talking to me when I passed."
I could not help but stare. He said, "Don't you believe me?  What play would you most like me to produce?"
"I don't know," I stuttered.  "Let me think. 'Daughters of the Shadow Men'?"
"'Daughters of the Shadow Men' it will be!" declared James.  "I like that play.  I have studied it.  I think it has great substance."
"I would probably want to go over it again," I said, "to see if I want to change anything if it is to be produced in the hereafter.  You know there are scenes in there of spirits intermingling with the living. I will want to check and see if they are accurate!"
"I know," laughed James. "That play is very modern and up to date for the hereafter audiences.  It reflects how comfortable you are with the dead who you do not think of as dead at all."
"I have not seen my father since I arrived here."
"You have not seen him?" questioned James.  "You are not comfortable seeing him?"
"I don't know how comfortable he is going to be with the way I have written about him.  I don't know if I have gotten him down accurately."
James laughed. "Do you want me to go with you to see your father?  I would be glad to accompany you if it would help.  I would like to tell him I would be honored to produce "Daughters of the Shadow Men."
Tears rolled down my cheeks, "I thought my father was a shadow man.  I don't know if he is reconciled to what I perceived about him."
"In your play you are saying the daughters of shadow men are shadow women.  They can never really come out of the shadows until their fathers can."
"They can't," I said.  "They are almost as crippled as their fathers by the lies and secrets."
"You are now on the big stage," said James.  "You lived your life in the shadows.  That life is over.  Now we are going to help you come out from obscurity into the sunlight. I swore I would do that for you.  But I know how much fear you still have."
"I am afraid my father is in the Camp of the Resisters trying to obliterate himself."
"Well, I don't think you are going to find out where he is," said James, 'unless you have the courage to look for him and face however you find him."
"I think you are right," I said.
I stood up and James moved close to me and gave me a warm hug. "If you need me I will go with you, but if you would rather go alone, I will wait for you to contact me."
"Goodbye, James, for now.  I think I need to go find where he is by myself, when I am ready.  I have dreaded seeing him again.  But I know I must."
James nodded and I walked away slowly.  I looked out toward the sunset.  I thought I could see in the distance what my sister Deanna was always saying she saw in her dreams, our father riding his horse, coming to take people home, into the sunset.  She always saw him as a benevolent figure.  I was looking now for the man on a horse riding into the sunset taking people home.  She knew he would come for her, when she passed.
He had not come for me. He had not known whether I wanted him to come.  Whether I trusted him.  I was looking now for the man on the horse.  I had trusted the man on the horse taking his cattle home.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chapter Seventeen: The Earl entices me over to the LeGrande Hotel where I used to live

I am ashamed to say I could not resist going back to visit Tyrone.  I persuaded myself that his dog did not really see me, that it was my imagination as well as Tyrone's, and I just could not bring myself to go back to the hereafter where I belonged.  It was warmer and cozier back on earth with my kids.  I had no more come in where Tyrone was sitting at the desk, writing, than his dog Jilly set up a terrible hallabaloo.  She looked right at me as she barked, and it was obvious she was not happy with my visit.
Fortunately Tyrone has a great sense of humor and said, "Oh, has Mom come back to see us?  Jilly, that's Mom, you know her, come on, lay back down.  I promise you, she won't hurt us."
Jilly seemed to force herself to lay back down.  She was even trembling a little. She rested her head on her paws and closed her eyes.  She seemed to be willing herself to try to pay no attention to the ghost that was now haunting Rafe's house.
That did it.  I decided I would have to leave.  I could not put Tyrone's dog through such ordeals any more.  The least I could do was go visit some other people who might not be able to detect my presence as well as this dog.  She was such a psychic dog I had no doubt if Tyrone could somehow go on TV with her she would become the most famous dog in the world.
I went outside but not before I heard Tyrone dialing his phone and saying to someone, "I have just had the most amazing experience with my dog, Jilly.  She has seen Mom again."
I shook my head.  If I was not careful with my visits people would think Tyrone had gone mad as a hatter.  He knew his dog.  He knew she had seen something extraordinary.  Heck, I could have told she was seeing something very unusual just the way she barked.  But I did not want Tyrone to get any worse reputation than he already had by claiming his wonder dog was seeing spirits.  I really felt quite spooked and wondered when I would ever dare to come back to my son Rafe's house where Jilly and Tyrone were staying.
Instead I decided to pop over to the LeGrand Hotel where I used to live. I had not been there since I passed, and residents claimed it was chockful of spirits who had lived there and still seemed to.  I would surely run into the spirit of some resident I had known.
Sure enough right outside the hotel I ran into the Earl.  The Earl was a former resident who had been taken away from there to another place.  I had not known whether he died or not, but I could see by the fact that he was walking on two legs, he was now in spirit form.  "Oh Shadow," he said, "I have been trying and trying to get in touch with you. I am back staying here in the LeGrand now, and I have been trying to get together a reunion of spirits who lived here when I did."
"Come to think of it," I said, "I have been dreaming about you quite a bit lately, but I had no idea that I would get messages from spirits in dreams now that I have passed. So I paid no attention."
"Oh, so you picked up that I was thinking about you," said the Earl. "I don't know if any of the spirits are around right now.  It is not a day for spirits.  Come sit down and let us catch up on the news."
"Here?" I said, pointing to one of the chairs in the lobby.
"Oh, let's not sit there," said the Earl.  "Someone is sure to sit on us if we do. I like the conference room better."
So we went into the conference room overlooking the patio. I said, "So you are now haunting the place along with the other ghosts that used to interest you so much?"
"People just aren't as interested in ghosts as they ought to be," I thought he said, but the Earl changed his comment to, "--as they used to be."
"I don't plan on coming back here to live," I said.  "I don't want to haunt any old hotel."
"What are you going to do?" asked the Earl as though he was surprised that anyone would want to do anything else besides haunt old hotels.
"I don't know," I said.  "I haven't been here since I was carried out of here on a gurney for the first and last time. The bell finally tolled for me."
"I left here when I was scheduled to lose one of my legs.  I wasn't handling it very well, so they decided I should get some help. It was an awful ordeal.  I just did not want to live after I lost my leg it was so hard to get around.  Now your companion was lucky.  He had you to nurse him when he was dying."
"You mean Terrance?  I tried not to nurse him any more than I had to."
"You never even looked at me after I sobered up.  I have never seen a woman so attached to an old drunk as you were to Terrance."
"Terrance was amusing, but he was certainly not an easy companion to tolerate.  No alcoholic is."
"Have you reunited in heaven?"
"No, Terrance is in the Camp of the Resisters.  You know what that means, don't you?"
"He can't sober up even after he has passed," said the Earl, promptly.  "That is what you call a hard hard core alcoholic.  He doesn't ever want to sober up, so he virtually shuts down.  He tries to obliterate himself."
"That's Terrance," I said.
"I thought he was more intelligent than that," said the Earl.  "I thought I was the worst alcoholic in the LeGrand, but even I sobered up.  Everyone was willing to let me drink myself to death, so I resisted.  I showed them I could sober up if I wanted to."
"It's nice to see you are still sober," I said.  "And are not in the Camp of the Resisters. I take it Alex is still on the other side of life?"
"As far as I know.  He has not showed up here yet.  I guess he sobered up, too, after he was evicted from the LeGrand.  He was pretty much evicted from every place he rented for a while there."
"You could never tell whether Alex wanted to sober up or commit suicide.  I never saw a man have so many near death moments."
"Alex is an extremist, always was.  He wasn't a steady sipper like I was.  Alex sincerely tried to kill himself every time he binged.  He inhaled his alcohol. I lacked the capacity to put it away like he did so I had no chance of really killing myself."
"I was almost glad Alex finally got evicted from the LeGrand.  Everybody loved him, but every time he went on a binge, trying to kill himself, he had the whole complex in an uproar.  He was loved, but he was wearing.  Everybody took turns trying to save Alex. I know I must have saved him several times."
The Earl laughed, "I saved him at least once.  I had security let me in his apartment when he did not answer. I found him out cold.  The Emergency crew said that if I had been another hour finding him, they could not have brought him back around.  As it was he was in a coma for three days."
"It was so distressful saving Alex and then having to do it again the very next week. I know an angel saved him once, or at least everyone thought she was an angel in disguise.  No hospital would take him, but she had some kind of pull and got him in and they spent thousands of dollars bringing him back from the dead as he was practically comatose with infection.  He came back to us days later, after God knows how many medical personnel worked on him, sober, strong, and a month later he got drunk again due to some terrible event in his life, I think they said one of his kids died."
"Alex needed people trying to save him to believe he was worth anything."
"I guess someone is still saving his life then, if he's not here."
"Everybody loved Alex.  I was so jealous of him.  Even you were in love with him," said the Earl in accusatory tones.
"Yes, but I could not you know actually love him.  He wasn't any one person's to love. He just could not resist all the love and sympathy women in the LeGrand wanted to give him."
"Well, I know."
"On the other hand I always knew where Terrance was at any given moment, and he hated having too many women interested in him.  He was such a tight wad, you know, and they were always hitting him up for money.  I never tried to get any money out of him, so he could tolerate me."
"He should have paid you plenty for putting up with him."
"He would always say he was going to pay me, but he never did.  Besides,  I never wanted his money, or anything that would have obligated me.  I tried to keep my ties to Terrance super light, no sex, no money, no legal tie.  He could still be a drag. So I am taking a much needed rest from male companions right now."
"I see your other long time companion here now and then, Marquis."
"Marquis.  Oh, is here?"
"Have you seen him yet?"
"No, Marquis and I had a falling out, just before he fell ill and I had to nurse him through cancer.  He did not have anybody else who would step in."
"That's the breaks.  You should have gotten away from him before he fell ill with cancer."
"I didn't detect it and neither did he.  He kept saying he knew what it was, his back, an old injury.  I never saw a man more shocked when they told him he only had days to live.  He did not believe it.  He was by death surprised."
"He did not even have time to prepare?"
"Well, months of pain, but he was an unflappable man.  He said he had been in some kind of pain all his life and he never let pain get him down.  He did have a night or two of unbearable agony but that was all.  How was your passing?"
"I don't even like to think about it."
"I never had any pain at all.  I just went numb."
"No shit?  Or I mean I did not know you could die that way.  You got off easy."
"All I could figure out was that my childhood worries must have burned out my pain centers."
"They must have been gigantic," said Earl.
"Oh, I don't know.  It was hard for me to judge," I said.
"Well," said the Earl, "it has been very nice talking to you.  I just remember, I have got to go somewhere, so keep your antenna up for my signal, and I will see if I can get a reunion together.  Maybe I will wait until after Alex arrives. Then it will be more interesting."
Off he went. I had forgotten to ask him about his dog, Danger.  Danger was once the most famous dog in the LeGrand Hotel.  Everybody knew Danger.  I made a note to ask the Earl about Danger the next time I saw him, and I wanted to tell him about Jilly.  The Earl would be more interested than any spirit I knew in a psychic dog.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chapter Sixteen: I go back to Tyrone's to encourage him to write his novel

I decided that Vivienne was doing everything she could do for children at risk in her job as a nurse.  She was seeing women who were pregnant under difficult circumstances keeping them going to their doctors and trying to give birth to a healthy child.  She had whole portfolio of cases.  I really could not expect more of her at this time.  Maybe later on when she had time to think about the issue of legalized abortion more she could possibly add that to her list of causes.  She seemed to assume that was the job I had taken on in the family, while she was determined that all women should nurse their babies instead of giving them formula. 
She had even taken a test that cost her more than $500 to qualify as a lactation consultant.  If she did not pass the $500 dollars would have been wasted, but she studied hard and passed.  I did not know if I could get her to take on saving babies from abortion when she was so caught up in trying to get new moms to nurse.  I didn't know if I should even be sending her messages from the beyond to that effect.  She was already complaining about chronic fatigue.  No, I had better be cautious about expecting more from Vivienne at this time. 
But I did decide to go back over to Tyrone's for another visit to see if I could encourage him to finish the novel he had started.  I was afraid Jilly his dog just would not be able to give him that message.  I did not know how I was going to tell him what I thought either, but I could see when I arrived that he had his lap top open, so there was a good chance he was thinking about writing.  Tyrone was a playwright as I had been in my earlier years.  When he left his theater company and eventually took up teaching theater, I turned to novel writing, and somehow or another never got one close to publication except my last one which was called, "Then Came the Dawn."  I had it almost ready to send off to try to get it published as an E-book on the Internet when I passed away.  It was so maddening to think I had to up and die before I could finish that task.
I was afraid that my kids Rafe, Tyrone, Vivienne, and Santos would become too lazy to do anything about getting my novel published.  Santos would just say it served me right, I should have waited to die.  Santos was writing a novel, too, and Vivienne had written one, too.  She wouldn't let me read it since it was a romance novel and I had always tried to get her not to read romance novels let alone write them.  Santos preferred to write fantasy fiction, the kind men wrote.  He had not let me read his novel either, and I doubted that he had read "Then Came the Dawn" even though I posted it in a blog.  I knew Tyrone (Tangier) was writing a novel based on a play he had written when he was teaching theater in high school. I was sure Rafe was not writing a novel although God knows he could have written one with all he knew about the construction business, but he was a man of such few words writing a novel was probably beyond him.  He preferred to write cryptic poetry.
As I sat there in Rafe's living room, the phone rang and Tyrone answered it.  I could soon make out he was talking to my sister Deborah who amazingly wanted to know if he or any of the other kids had done anything about publishing my novel, "Then Came the Dawn."
"No," said Tyrone, "We are too busy writing our own novels.  We don't have time to stop and do anything with Mother's, as it might not be a sure thing."
Deborah asked him how his novel was coming and Tyrone said he was trying to decide whether to try to publish it under the name of Tangier, to sort of throw people off.  "Just get it done and out there!" I could hear my sister Deborah saying very loudly.  "I am even wondering if I shouldn't write a novel."
"Yes, I think you should, Aunt Debbie," said Tyrone firmly. "I think Mother has put too much about her cause in her book, so I am reluctant to stop and spend the time to try to get it out there, when people don't like that subject."
"What?" said Deborah.  "But she probably feels awfully bad to think she did not get it published before she died."  Why she could not have given him my message any better than if I had been sitting there saying the same thing to him myself. "I know people don't like the subject of legalized abortion," Deborah went on, "but she told me the reason she set her novel in the hereafter was so she could write about all the children who have died and gone there as a result of legalized abortion."
"I know why she did it," said Tyrone.  "But I am just not ready to take up that cause yet.  I am getting ready to but I am not there yet."
"Well, okay," said Deborah, "as long as you are thinking about it.  I know it is not a very entertaining subject, but I was just thinking, perhaps you could send her manuscript to me and I would work on getting it published.  I could do the research and consult with you and Santos about how to do it.  I think I would rather try to publish her novel than write one myself, as I doubt I am as good a novel writer as she is."
"I could talk to my brothers and sister and see if that is okay with them, Aunt Deborah.  If you are willing to do it.  I am sure Santos would know better how to send you the manuscript than I would."
"Okay, if it's all right with you, I will talk to him.  What about Vivienne?  Do you think she would have any objection?"
"No, I doubt she would. She is too busy to do anything with it, but you might give her a call just in case."
"What about Rafe?"
"Call him, too, it would give you a good excuse.  He is not talking a whole lot to me.  I know he doesn't believe I am going to really make money writing novels, but if I can get plays published I can surely write novels.  I have just never tried to write novels before.  I was too hung up on doing theater."
"I think it is a wonderful idea, Tyrone.  You have been having so much trouble with financing falling through for your play productions.  Maybe there comes a time to switch."
"Theater is an archaic art form that is all there is to it.  I have always been hung up on theater, but never had any great success with my plays.  When you stop and think what goes into a play production, you can understand why a playwright is going to have a tough time making any money.  That is why I finally did decide to switch.  I am taking my most successful high school play and transforming it into a novel.  I am having a lot of fun doing it because I find I can go into even greater detail than I could in a play.  Actually I think this play might be a more powerful novel than it is play, and I could reach so many more kids with it. I have been writing day and night since I started it, but I was also hired to direct a play, so I am having to save time and energy for that, too.  You know I haven't been too well since my cabin burned down.  Burning all your belongings up does something to you."
"I am sure it must, Tyrone."
"I need to replace a hundred things. I think my novel has become about loss.  The boy in the novel loses his life just as I almost lost mine. So I relate to this novel about loss more than I ever did.  I am telling my story, too."
"Tyrone, you need to stay on this earth.  Let us old ladies go before you.  It was not your time to die.  So I will work on getting your mother's book published while you finish yours.  I have got time."
"Thanks, Aunt Deborah.  I really do need to get my novel written.  It's catharsis for me."
"Bye now.  I will let you get back to your work."
Tyrone turned off his phone, and pretty soon his fingers were flashing above his laptop.
Jilly, his dog was outside.  I decided I better slip away before she wanted to come in. She might spot me there and started barking. No sense getting her all nervous. I felt my mission had been accomplished without her even being involved.  And the next minute I was gone.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chapter Fifteen: Valentine and Tyrone hook up on Facebook to talk about my visit from the hereafter

Cora was the one who told me the next day to check out Facebook and I would be surprised. I asked 
her how you did that as a spirit and she said oh it is easy, you just find someone's computer and do your thing. So I went to the public library which was close to where I lived, before it opened, and checked out the Internet on one of their computers. Coral probably could have used it when someone else was, but I did not want to confuse myself.
I found out my password still worked and my account was still on there just as though I had never died.  I guess my kids had not got around to deleting me yet. I decided to try Vivienne's profile first.  She was on Facebook under the name of Valentine in order to protect her privacy and that of her family's. Vivienne was always afraid of things like identity theft and had rebuked me in the past for putting something on Facebook she thought might be dangerous.
Sure enough she had written an item about her dream.  She wrote,"I dreamed about Mom and Aunt Coral last night (I never met Aunt Coral but I know this woman was her, she had a family resemblance and besides that her hair was a beautiful red, not exactly coral, but close to it).  They were out in my backyard by our swimming pool sitting in two new lawn chairs my husband and I just bought.  I don't know why they were sitting there.  Maybe they weren't sure I would welcome a couple of visiting spirits into the house.  I admit I would probably have hesitated.  Although Mom was cremated after she gave her body to science, she still had the look of death on her face.  I still haven't got over this visitation.  Help, anybody?"
Down below it was a comment from Tyrone (my son Tangier, he had explained to me once that he did not hold me naming him such a weird name as Tangier against me, in fact he rather liked it, but he had to answer too many questions about his name so to simplify his life he simply changed his first name to Tyrone, but since the family had called him Tangier for years, his was not the only strange name in the family, we went on calling him Tangier)
"Hi, Sis.  What night did you dream that Mom and Aunt Coral were out in your backyard by your swimming pool?"
"Night before last," came from Valentine (Vivienne).
Tyrone replied, "I can't believe this.  That same night I had let Jilly out back as she was scratching at the door like she needed to go out there.  When I heard her barking I was puzzled, so I went to the door and called her.  She came up to me, but she looked intently out in the shadows by the swimming pool and barked again, like she was seeing somebody!  I told her there was nobody there, so she laid down by me, I thought, acting a little bit strange. She looked out there again and gave a little woof.  It is hard to describe this woof, but now that I have read about your experience, I believe that Jilly, my dog, saw Mom and Aunt Coral out by Rafe's swimming pool, too!  What is this about spirits landing in our back yards?"
Valentine wrote back, "I am afraid that I was not comforted by your post. In fact, it gave me the jitters."
'I am now looking at my dog so to speak with new eyes.  What if she is a psychic dog? What are you supposed to do with a dog that sees spirits?"
Valentine wrote, "Our dog Jules did not even bark. But he was inside so that probably explains that. But would you have known your dog was seeing a spirit if you had not read about my dream?"
"No!" wrote Tyrone, "So I don't really know how Jilly will be able to help carrying messages from Mom to me.  It is only by chance that I was your post about your dream and put 2 and 2 together, but I guess that is how you prove the spirits have visited, with strange little coincidences like this."
"I guess so," said Valentine, not sounding the least bit impressed, but maybe she was jealous of Tyrone having a psychic dog.  Or thinking he did.
I did not know what to think of all this.
"Welcome to the world of spirit communication," said Coral. "Did you think it would be easy?  I am excited.  I think you are getting a pretty fast confirmation that your visit has registered on your kids' consciousness.  Remember that wolf that wanted to communicate with the young girl back to Recovery Ranch?  Animals can be very psychic, too, just like humans."
"I know they are, " I said.  "I once owned a white dog that looked like she was part husky and part Samoyed but she wasn't very smart, and kept chasing everyone's chickens.  Well, come to think of it, she was actually Tangier's dog, or I mean Tyrone's, so this is not the first time he has owned a dog with psychic connections.  I was half asleep one morning and a big German shepherd spirit dog came into my bedroom and walked up to my bed and looked at me.  I knew it was a spirit dog, but I couldn't imagine why a spirit dog was paying me a visit.  Several days I found out.  Snow (Tyrone's or Tangier's dog's name) ran away from home taking Deanna's dog with her and ended up in a rancher's field chasing some sheep.  He shot Snow three times.  He must have been an awfully good shot because every bullet went into her legs.  One leg was shot off at the first joint, so I asked a visiting doctor to sew it up.  He told me what to do to save her from any infection that might develop from the other wounds, and she was a better dog from then on with just three legs than she was with four. Up until then she was in dire danger of being shot when she ran off, as she was always doing."
"I am not surprised.  A spirit dog was warning you of danger to Snow. I have always known that animals are psychic just like humans are.  Maybe even more so at times."
"So with Tangier's psychic dog's help we have made contact on earth.  With such an unusual pick up, I am sure they will probably be looking forward to our next visit, don't you think?" I said.
"Right," said Coral.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chapter Fourteen: I am intimidated by thoughts of visiting my own kids now I am a spirit

You would not think a spirit could be intimidated when it came to returning to earth to try to make contact with her still living kids but I was suddenly hesitant.
"I don't know whether I should try to visit Vivienne yet," I told Coral.
"For heaven's sakes, why not?" asked Coral.
"Well, she knows how flaky I am and she would be on guard against recognizing me too soon in the spirit form.  She didn't even read my blog when I was alive, so now I am sure she expects me to depart and rest in peace for at least a little while."
"She doesn't believe in a hereafter?"
"Of course she does, but she wouldn't be expecting me to try to engage her in paranormal activity this soon I am sure."
Coral practically stopped in mid flight.  I noticed we were hovering over a freeway probably very close to the area where Vivienne lived.  "There she is," Coral said, pointing to a car I would never have recognized as my daughter's.  "She's on her way home from work."
"Maybe we could just follow her home," I said, "and wait around for a while."
Sure enough, the car turned off at Vivienne's exit.  When she eventually turned into her driveway, Coral and I popped into her back yard and sat on some lovely lawn furniture she and her husband had just purchased.  This house was new to them, and they had been having a lot of fun buying items they needed particularly for this house.
The sun started to go down and eventually it was quite dark.  We sat out there until the lights went out in the house, around eight o'clock. Vivienne and my grandson Darryl, fourteen, her only child still at home, were going to bed!  Oh dear, how would I be able to attract her attention now, in her dreams? Vivienne had been telling me her job was causing her fatigue problems.  Even when she went to bed early she often woke up still tired.  She was wondering if she was prone to chronic fatigue problems as I had.  I hoped not!
Around nine my son-in-law David came in from the airport.  He had been on a trip abroad.  I was glad to see he had returned home safely.  He grabbed a bite to eat and went to bed, too.
"Now what?" said Coral.
"I don't think we should enter her home," I said.  "She is entitled to her privacy. I know she needs her rest."
"All right," said Coral.  "How about dropping by Tangier's then?"
"Oh Tangier, don't you think it is a little late for us to be out and about, although he is apt to be up late, writing."
"Don't you think we should at least get a little closer to him now that we are here?"
Reluctantly I agreed and the next thing I knew we had landed in the back yard where Tangier was staying with his brother, my other son, Rafe.  Tangier's dog Jilly, actually barked at us!
I was thrilled.  "Jilly knows spirits are here," I whispered.  "Isn't she a smart dog?"
"Amazing," said Coral dryly, "but you surely don't expect Jilly to tell Tangier we are here, do you?"
"He will wonder why Jilly barked," I said.
Sure enough Tangier appear in the door in the backyard and called out, "Jilly, who is there?  Why did you bark?"  Jilly ran over to him and then she turned and amazingly barked again, looking right at us!
"I don't see anybody," said Tangier, soothingly.  He sat down in a chair close to the swimming pool with Jilly beside him.  Jilly looked in our direction one more time and gave a little woof.
I was really spooked.  I told Coral I wanted to get out of there right now.  It was unnerving to have our presences detected by a dog.  Tangier had kept telling me what a wonderful dog Jilly was, but she made a believer out of me that night.

The next morning we were outside Vivienne's again as Coral said we should check her out and see if she had gotten wind of our visit somehow.
Vivienne came out of the bedroom yawning and told her husband David, "I had a dream last night that Mom and Aunt Coral were here." I nearly fell over.  I just did not expect Vivienne to pick up on our presences like that.
"Oh yes," said David who always tried to act very casual when Vivienne had dreams about spirits visiting her.
"I think she is trying to let me know she arrived safely in the hereafter and she is all right," said Vivienne. After a moment, she said, "But I am worried.  I think she and Aunt Coral are trying to tell me something. They wouldn't come all the way back here just to say Mom is all right.  I know she wants something from me."
"Oh," said David.  "What on earth could she want?"
"I am helping with the babies as much as I can.  I have a job helping mothers having babies who are at risk.  What more can I do?"
"Nothing!" said David firmly.  He was very supportive of Vivienne's nursing jobs and certainly would not have approved of me coming back to try to burden her more.
Just then my grandson Darryl came into the room, yawning, "Mom, it's Saturday.  What are you guys doing up so early?  I thought we would all sleep in."
"I dreamed about your grandma last night," said Vivienne.  "She was right out there by the swimming pool with your Aunt Coral.  I didn't know Aunt Coral, but if a woman was with her I knew it had to be Aunt Coral.  She was always talking about her relationship with Aunt Coral.  All the sisters kept Aunt Coral alive.  I'd be surprised when I'd see a photo of the five of them that Aunt Coral didn't show up on the picture."
"I miss Grandma," said Darryl.  "She was a good grandma."
"I am very sorry I didn't let you visit her more than I did," said Vivienne, "but your grandma was always worried about the traffic.  She would say, 'Oh don't bring Darryl down in the midst of all that traffic.  It is too dangerous.'  She just wanted you to stay home and be safe. Just imagine, now she has come from the hereafter, her and my Aunt Coral, and I can see her in my dreams easier than I could when she was on earth.  She didn't want me to bring her out to visit very often either, as she said I had to travel back and forth in the traffic too long as it was, going to work.  I was talking to her on my cell phone at an intersection when that car hit me so hard my back hurt for months."
"She probably thought I was safer flying all over the world in an airplane, than I was going to work every morning in all that traffic," said David.
I felt quite stunned to find out that Vivienne had picked up on Coral and me sitting out in her backyard.  I decided we had accomplished about all we could in one visit.  Vivienne was conscious of spirit presences even more than I expected her to be.  If she and Tangier happened to talk, Tangier would find out that she dreamed Coral and I visited her the same night Jilly barked at the shadows where we were standing when we stopped to see Tangier.  Tangier would never believe Jilly had sensed our spirits, otherwise.  She knew me.  Every time she saw me she seemed to recognize me as a close relative of Tangier's.  She would lick my hand in a sweet way.
Once when Tangier was very bad off and Jilly was obviously worried about him, Tangier shed a few tears while he was talking to me.  Jilly went crazy.  She licked his hand frantically.  And even gave me a few frantic licks as though to say, "Tangier is crying!  Oh my god, what is going to happen now?"
I wouldn't have believed a dog could be so observant and so caring if I had not seen it.  Now I had witnessed another miracle.  Jilly could see spirits!  Well, I don't know if she actually saw us but she sensed we were there.
Coral said she had to get back to her kids so we decided to settle for what had happened so far on our trip back to try to connect to my daughter and son.  I was very satisfied with our trip, in fact.  I don't know about Coral.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chapter Thirteen: I found myself dreading my meeting with the Council of the Elders

Coral said she was going to take me to a meeting with the Council of the Elders and in spite of myself I began to shudder at the very thought.  Why?  I don't know.  Maybe I no longer trusted a council of elderly people.  I guess I had heard of too many august groups of elderly people on earth who had meetings and ended up serving their own purposes more than they did others.  There were boards on corporations. It seemed as though they had been coming up with more bad news than good for the people in their meetings.
Congress consisted of many senior congress members, and the news that had been coming out of many of their meetings had not appeared to be that good either.  We were constantly having to come to some dismaying conclusion about what happened to our elected politicians who got strong armed by their seniors in command and could not help but become ineffectual in the same way.
So what would I do if I detected similar signs of corruption in the Council of the Elders in the hereafter?  I would no longer believe integrity was possible in heaven either. I just did not want to risk being disillusioned, but Coral took me to the meeting without me ever saying anything to her about my doubts and misgivings.  They told her to stay, and I sat down surrounded by both older men and women.
A woman spoke to me first, "Just relax.  We are men and women who have lived on the earth. We serve on the Council of the Elders as volunteers.  There is always a council for people to meet with if they choose.  Your sister requested a meeting with the Council of the Elders for you.  So why do you think she did that?"
"I don't really know," I said.  "I supposed it was so I could talk about my ideas about what has been happening on the earth during my last forty years that I have worried a great deal about."
"Was that the reason you requested a meeting, Coral?"asked the woman.
"I just felt it was time she met with the Elders," said Coral, "because she is having trouble deciding where to go and what to do in the hereafter.  I thought the elders could give her some ideas about what they think people should do, once they arrive here as she did in her declining years after many years of close observation of her fellow men."
"I have been to the Camp of the Resisters since I arrived here," I said, "but most disturbing of all was my visit to the Children's Paradise. There were so many children there. I knew there were a lot of children being sent over here, but I was almost overwhelmed by the numbers here."
"Yes," said the woman.  "So what are your thoughts now?"
"I don't know," I said.  "I saw many beautiful children in a Paradise that seemed to go on forever. And I think I am just going to have to think about that a while. Coral has been talking to me many years about the problem. She kept me protesting when I really wanted to quit and forget the whole thing, but she wouldn't let me."
"How did she communicate with you?"
"Through dreams.  I am a medium of sorts.  My sisters all receive messages in dreams, some more than others, from the spirits who have gone on.  I would always pray to a higher power every morning to see if there was important work I should be doing.  I have been getting the message for many years that too many children were being killed and this was what I needed to work on."
"How did you work on the problem?" asked one of the men on the council.
"Various ways, but most of my work was done through protest letters.  But first I would have what I call spirit talks.  I would write down the messages I would get directly from the spirits, from Coral a lot of the time, but from others, too.  And I would send the messages in my protest letters.  There was a lot of tedious work involved but I thought and thought about what else I could do, and that kind of protesting seemed to be what I could do best."
"She is a writing animal," said Coral.  "I knew that before I passed.  I was communicating with her about other matters, too, but in later years it has been mostly about all the children dying."
"Well," said the woman.  "Sounds like you have been working hard, but now you are here, perhaps you should think about connecting up to others back on earth who might receive your messages and tell them how it is here.  You could join your sister Coral in trying to reach people on earth every way you can with a message."
"I could do that," I said.  "I was thinking I didn't know how I could be effective here."
"Looks like you would know how to be very effective by having experienced this partnership with your sister while she was in spirit form and you were in your body.  Perhaps you just need to wait until you think you can get through to someone else on earth."
"I have a daughter named Vivienne who I hoped would carry on my work. There are others.  I am sure I will be able to reach her eventually with a message.  She already receives dreams.  A number of the nieces and nephews in the family have psychic dreams.  All of my children are somewhat clairvoyant."
"Whatever works," said the woman. "Is there anything else we can help you with?"
"I guess I just needed a little nudge in the direction I should go.  Coral and I probably need to take a trip back to earth and visit my children.  That will probably be the first step we should take in setting up a stronger communication."
The older woman nodded gravely.
"Thank you," I said.  Coral and I left the presences of the elders.  We decided we would visit my daughter Vivienne and Tangier, my second son, the next day.  We both started to feel there was no time to waste.  We needed to start up again on the job we had been doing together for years as soon as possible, but I knew that in order to do that, now that I was in the hereafter, we would have to make some stronger connections to people on earth, and my two children I thought would be most likely to pick up on a call from both of our spirits. They had even had dreams about Coral, too, after they had been hearing my claims of being in communication with her for years.  And she had passed long before they were born! Such was the the effect of the power of suggestion on the human mind.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chapter Twelve: Coral runs up to me and we teleport back to the world where many people are up in arms

I was sitting on a bench again in the waiting station area seriously wondering what in the world to do next when Coral came running up to me.  She held out her hand to me,"Grab hold of my hand.  I want you to see what is happening in some of the biggest cities since you left the earth!"
I grabbed hold of her hand wondering what she was talking about and the next thing I knew found myself in one of the world's largest cities in the United States where a huge crowd of people had gathered.  They were shouting and uniformed officers were arresting people.
"Coral!  What has happened?  Quick! You have to explain it to me."
"People are calling for revolution in many cities all over the world."
"Oh, there were some protests before I left the earth, but I did not think they would accelerate to huge crowds like this."
"Other cities are staging protests, too," said Coral.  "Come over here a little out of the way.  We will sit on the grass and watch and listen."
A very articulate man got up with a loud speaker and began to address the crowd.  I thought he was saying some true things about the huge gap that had opened up even in recent years between the very rich and the very poor.
"What do you think, Shadow?" Coral affectionately called me by my childhood nickname.  All my sisters started calling me Shadow instead of rather strange name of Shadra that was my given name.  I rather wished Mother would have had the nerve to name me Shadow in the first place, but she probably thought people would laugh at her for naming her first born some romantic name that wasn't a proper girl's name at all.  But then neither was Shadra.
"I told you, Coral, the media thinks like one person, I have been told in the persona of a very rich man who realized that if he controlled a number of the newspapers, he could in effect control all of them through how newspapers are so interlinked now days.  So the same opinions were published in a number of the big city newspapers as well as in the big city where I did most of my abortion protesting to the media.  The rich man is pro abortion because he is probably very big on population control and thinks we need abortion to keep the birthrates down.  He would not care if these were babies already created and growing big and strong that were killed as long as they were gone.
The more the newspapers turned people off with the abortion propaganda they were printing, and sales dropped, the more the staff members were afraid of losing their jobs.  They were being programmed to support the liberal bias that favors abortion rights.  Soon no opposing opinions were going to get printed.
I would say that the violence required in the abortion solution has contributed to making our world more unsafe.  It has lowered the standards that people have worked so hard to maintain.  Legalized abortion wiped out a lot of humane feelings about impaired babies and so on.  But nobody was allowed to express an opposing opinion eventually.  I would say that taking people back to a darker age of violence is what it has accomplished, which this powerful man or men who are responsible don't seem to care a fig about.
Which is why this protest movement strikes me as entirely appropriate for what has been going on in this country for the last forty years. I would say if people are beginning to realize that we no longer have a free press which we once believed we did have, at least a lot more so than we do now, they are right to work up a full head of steam about it and start thinking of ways they can protest.
We have never had such a shackled press, which is what you get with a liberal bias.  The man or men responsible for this have simply tried to stifle all pro life thinking to non existence.  There is a big difference between pro death and pro life, a big difference in emphasis and results.  And if people aren't thinking as deeply as they should be, they buy the philosophy of violence and spread the word further themselves.  It is very discouraging."
Coral and I sat awhile and listened to the people speak.  I felt very sad that the world had come to this, but conditions had been bad for a long time I thought and apparently so had a bunch of other people thought so too.  They were there supporting their different causes, jobs, wages, taxes, housing, unemployment, homelessness, etc.  But people seemed to take some comfort from getting together in such a large group and protesting.
Coral beckoned to me.  I saw that the sun was starting to go down.  "Do you want to just camp out on the lawn," she said.  "I don't know if all the people will disperse very soon or not.  They may still be here in the morning."
"Do you have to get back to your job?"
"Part of my job now days is taking you places I think you should see.  You probably forgot all about earth after you left it and forgot to check to see what is going on here.  I always check every morning, as there may be something that will require a trip for me to look at up close."
"I am a lot closer now to this protest than I would have been before I left the earth.  I would have had to watch it on television.  But now I get to see it in person.  Of course I was an old lady and would have just gotten in the way had I tried to attend a protest.  I would have had to take my walker.  Now I can just fly through the air like you do, although I could not do what you do by myself. I would have to take a plane."
Coral laughed uproariously.  "You have no idea how many spirits ask to take planes when they first try to travel around.  They just don't believe they can ever get the hang of teleporting.  They say they don't even know what that is or have never heard of it before. I say how much do you think you weigh in your spirit form, probably no more than an eagle's feather!"
"You do need a good guide," I said, "when you go to the hereafter.  It feels like you still have a body even if you don't.  Traveling so light takes a while to get used to."
"I wanted you to see that we still have the same problems in the hereafter to see about as people do on earth.  All of our activities are linked.  It is disconcerting to many to meet up with the people they have dispatched to kingdom come, but we all know that is going to happen, that something inside of us does not die.  I am not saying that this something can never be killed, but it would take a lot of doing.  The spirit form is extremely strong.  So even though people have got a good idea of what is going to happen when they die, they are still surprised when they find themselves in a hereafter.  Even though everyone has heard about a hereafter.  They can't say they were not warned.
The one thing people can't bring with them is money and the power that gives them on earth.  They know that is going to happen but many do not want to think about it.  Or deal with that day of reckoning.  If the revolution does not come to earth it comes when people reach heaven and are stripped of everything they own right down to the spirit, so if they have not lived in ways that will make their spirits strong they are in helpless condition, shorn of the only power they valued, as any dictator feels who has been booted out of office in a revolution.
Some spirits stand up and come into heaven as presences who can be greeted with joy for the good things they have done with their lives.  There is no mistaking the power of their spirits.  So come along, Shadow, you have done all right in your sojourn upon the earth.  It is time for us to go back and meet with the council of elders who will give you good advice about what you might want to do next."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chapter Eleven: I try to avoid the Children's Paradise but Coral finds me

I was walking along to somewhere when I ran smack dab into Coral.  "Oh, there you are," I said.  "I was looking for you!"
"I'll bet," said Coral as sarcastically as I ever expected to hear a spirit speak who had been in the hereafter as long as she had. "The Children's Paradise is right this way.  You can't miss it!" she said.
The Children's Paradise was exactly as I expected it to be.  It was the most beautiful place imaginable with long low buildings stretching out in the distance to forever, with beautiful flowers and trees surrounding it.  I could see children playing, running here and there.  A beautiful little blonde girl with curly hair came running up to us.
"Here is Serena," said Coral, "She is practically my grandchild.  She is a special little girl.  Would you like to play the piano for us, Serena?"
"Oh, yes, " said Serena.  "I have been waiting for my grandma's sister all morning.  She said she was coming to visit."  I felt ashamed of myself.
Coral and Serena led me into a beautiful room where a piano sat.  I wondered if it was a spirit piano.  I supposed it was just as we were entering into a spirit house with beautiful spirit flowers and trees.  Or it might be a real piano in an alternate universe.  At any rate little Serena who must have been about nine years old sat down to the piano and played so beautifully tears came to my eyes.
"I can tell she is very gifted," I told Coral.  After Serena played one piece for us she got up and said she would go and play now so Coral and I could visit.  Like all the spirits I had met so far, she seemed to read my mind and could tell I needed to talk to Coral the worst way about all that was happening.
"You are going just a little too fast for me," I told Coral. "I discovered I was not quite ready to see the Children's Paradise."
"Nobody is ever ready to visit the Children's Paradise," said Coral.  "Nobody wants to see evidence of children having suffered death who are as beautiful as these children, as talented and wonderful. Don't you think I know that? I have been here a long time.  I know what people try to avoid."
"I would have gotten around to coming sooner or later," I said.  "It was just not easy."
"Why do you think these children were killed?" said Coral. "Their parents did not think they had room for them in their lives."
"Then why did they create them in the first place?"
"Obviously because sex is a big source of pleasure for some.  Untrammeled sex."
"That's right," I said.  "As you must know, Coral, I spent the last close to 40 years protesting legalized abortion.  It was a terrible self appointed volunteer job that got worse and worse as I went along.  I was just traumatized by the whole experience.  I got into so many nasty fights with so many women.  There is no more divisive issue on earth.  Now I find you expecting me to come and visit the Children's Paradise and maybe even work here.  I just was not ready."
"What exactly did you think was going to be so hard about it?"
"Well,  I am sure some of the mothers who aborted their children after it was legal are starting to die. I was afraid of getting into an awful fight with one of them."
"They don't come to the Children's Paradise unless they are ready.  When they are ready they come and ask very respectfully if it would be possible for us to help them find their children.  Some of their children are grown and are helping raise the babies.  We introduce some of these mothers to their children and let the children take care of the rest. They have been thinking about the way they died for years, some of them, so when the parents come to find them they have little speeches all prepared for them.  Many and many a child has told me that if their mother ever came to find them, they would say thus and so to them."
"Oh, well, that figures."
"You didn't have the children on that side to help you make your case. Since they weren't anywhere around they were easier for the parents to dismiss, and naturally women might get very cross with you for reminding them of a painful event they just wanted to forget."
"Maybe that was it. All I knew was the whole subject got to be so painful to me I could hardly stand to be reminded of it myself.  I finally had to quit blogging about it when I hit 80.  Nobody was reading my blog anyway.  I got into two or three painful fights over what I wrote and that was it.  I thought I was going to have a heart attack and die right then."
"Well, you needed to retreat from the battle field, that was all.  There are other places to fight for the cause besides on the front lines so to speak."
"I decided to write a novel instead, but I find that every time I get close to that subject I get the jitters, knowing how people hate it.  I knew if I wrote about the subject in my novel, nobody would probably read it."
"You were afraid nobody was going to read your novel if you wrote about the Children's Paradise? Am I hearing you correctly?"
"That's just about the jist of it, yes."
"Have you ever stopped to think that most people on earth do not even believe in a hereafter?  Most are living in the dark ages. It is very hard for people to get knowledge about the hereafter and retain enough of it that it is going to affect how they act.  How many times have people been told they will die and go to hell if they do such and such and they go right ahead and do it anyway?"
"Yes, but isn't that discouraging to you?"
"Not to the point I am going to give up my eternal life.  I don't care whether people believe I still exist or not.  I am here and by the way so are you, and I am going to go right on doing what I have learned to do in the hereafter to pass my time to be able to say existing was worth it. I made up my mind I would hang in here until my sisters united with me and some of my nieces and nephews, and only then would I start thinking about another lifetime. These little children here are more or less committed to doing the same thing.  They all say they want to reunite with their parents some way and work on solving the problem of dying this way.  They know that if the parents don't meet up with them and see what life has been like for them, dying before they even drew breath, they won't consider other solutions, realizing that this one was too painful in many of its results."
"But that is all going to take so much time!"
"All changes take time, unfortunately.  Sometimes there are no short cuts. You have to have patience."
"It's not that I don't have patience.  I don't believe that other people have any. By the way, I met up with Mother shortly after you left me, and she also told me that she could not stand to work in the Children's Paradise.  She does not want to clean up after other people's mistakes as she put it."
"That is just the way Mother talks but she does have a volunteer job she seems to enjoy.  She works in the old people's receiving center.  Mother always had a tough time liking her children, remember? I am sure you are a good deal more patient, just naturally, than she is. She was always a child like person.  Not too far from being retarded in a way.  You can't make silk purses out of sow's ears."
My head was whirling. A retarded mother?  How could Coral say such a thing even it might be true in a way.  I had always secretly wondered if Mother had not been born with some of the same characteristics as her 'slow' brother Henry who had been such a slow learner the family despaired that he would ever be able to take care of his many children, but he did, somehow or another.  He had a loving wife who helped a great deal, not as slow as Henry by any means but able to tolerate his handicap remarkably.
On the other hand Mother adored her brilliant brother Bryan who had become a doctor, so charming he had managed to make a great deal of money while still being a bit of a rascal.
"I am still avoiding Daddy, too," I said.  "I hope he doesn't take offense and try to look me up as Mother did.  I would like a little longer to prepare. Are you sure he is being rehabilitated?"
"I assure you he is," said Coral.  "I have been to see him a number of times.  He is making progress.  He turned himself in so to speak. Some parents have criminal tendencies, some are a little retarded. That is just life."
I was glad Coral was so accepting.  It had been pretty bad when I seemed to be the only one in the family who recognized our dad's criminal tendencies.  Marsha, for example, had gotten very angry at me for maligning him in my memoir.  She said he was just a bad drunk, and did nothing else as bad as what I said he did. Which was one reason I abandoned plans to publish my memoir and started writing a novel.  I had given instructions that if it took a hundred years for all the bad reactions to die down, my memoir could wait.  I was not trying to put anyone in jail, so there was no point publishing a memoir that would not only make all the other sisters unhappy but the grandchildren, too. If my perceptions were true, it would not hurt to wait a hundred years for people to find out what I thought our dad did."
Coral, reading my mind as usual, said, "You will have to be careful that your suspicions don't creep into your novel.  People tend to write about what they think, even if they are determined to hide their most troublesome thoughts."
"I know," I moaned.  "But if Daddy doesn't show up in my novel for a while I will be able to hide my thoughts about him longer."
Coral said,  "As long as you don't use anybody's real names, people will be confused.  They won't know what you might have made up and what you might really think.  I know the real dad, that is the one who arrived here.  I have been talking to him ever since he died and you haven't.  So I know pretty much what was troubling him and why."
"Really?" I said, "I can't get over how smart you are, Coral. But of course you would find out all the secrets people try to keep while they are alive."
"People try to keep their dark secrets over here, too," said Coral, "but eventually they feel so burdened, they start confessing.  Daddy started confessing his sins to people. He got a load off his chest and found out that was just what the doctor ordered."
"Hmm," I said.  "I am sure I don't know all of his sins, maybe just a few of them, but would you please tell him not to take me by surprise as Mother did.  Tell him to wait until I have decided I want to see him."
"I will convey your message to him," said Coral. "So now do you feel better?"
"Yes, I think so," I said.  "I am ready to see more of the Children's Paradise now."
"Come along," said Coral, "there are a lot more wonderful kids to see."