Four Peanut Butter Cookies

For those who don’t know, I’m a police officer with twenty-two years under the badge. I’ve seen people at their worst and I’ve seen people at their best. I’ve had some really great assignments and some that had me worried that I might not make it home at the end of my shift. For the past three years I have been working as a university police officer, and hope to retire from here in a few years. It’s a great place to work. It can be tedious at times, and some of the calls are ridiculous. Kids will be kids, you know?

At the end of last year I was in the Starbucks on campus. I ordered a slice of lemon pound cake and a large coffee. One of our students, a young woman who worked there part-time, but was off that night, was in there, after working her other part-time job, and asked if she could pay for my cake and coffee. When I told her she didn’t have to do that, she said that she had several dollars on her card (most colleges and universities have a card that students can load money on to and use it at the eating places on campus), and she would not be able to spend what she had left before the end of the year. She went on to say that her boyfriend was a police officer, and she appreciated when people did nice things for him, such as pay for coffee or a meal. I allowed her to pay for my cake and coffee.

Fast forward to last night. I had finished eating “breakfast” in the cafeteria and, on my way out, looked to see if they had any peanut butter cookies on the dessert bar. They didn’t, so I walked over to Starbucks to see what they had. The same student was working. I looked at the cookies they had. No peanut butter. She asked if I wanted anything and I said I was looking to see if they had peanut butter cookies and commented that the cafeteria didn’t have any. She said that they didn’t sell peanut butter anymore. I bought another kind of cookie and a milk, and went back to work.

A few hours later I was putting some cones out in a parking lot, when a car pulled in. I heard a woman’s voice say, “Mr Officer” and, when I turned I recognized the student from Starbucks. She came over and handed me a small container, saying, “I knew you’d be out here and I brought you some peanut butter cookies.” This young woman, after finishing her shift, had gone out and found some peanut butter cookies, and then found me on campus to give them to me. When I finished what I was doing, I opened the container to find four peanut butter cookies. I’m not going to lie, I teared up.

After twenty-two years on the job, with all of the awards, commendations and certifications I’ve received and earned, those four peanut butter cookies, and the spirit in which they were given, beats them all hands down.

Note: I purposely left out the names of the student and the university for privacy purposes, however, I did show this to the student before publishing, and she was very receptive to the post.

Getting Closer

I started this post on January 9, and just found it floundering in my drafts. “Hey” I said, “you need to finish this.” “No wonder your followers haven’t heard from you in a while.” Plus, I’ve been stuck for a post idea, so, here ya go.

Back in October I decided to change course in my writing, and put my novel on hold. I like to tell stories, so I decided to type up some of them and do a memoir, instead. I’ve been working on putting a lot of them down and have about twenty of them ready for editing and formatting. I keep adding stories and adding stories, and I’m not sure that it’s not too many for one book. As I’ve been writing them down, I’ve discovered a pattern; they either talk about work or camping. I’ve about decided to write two memoirs, one for each topic.

I have been looking into Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to self publish. I think this is a good way to get my foot in the door and start with a small project, before publishing a larger work, such as my novel.

My next step is to download the formatting/ publishing software, create a cover, set up my Broken Anvil Publishing LLC, create a logo and set up a bank account for the LLC. I’m still hoping to have the first book out by my birthday, April 18, and we’ll see how it goes from there.

Big THANK YOU to all of my followers. A a huge WELCOME to my new followers. I hope to keep rambling and have you enjoy what I write.

Another Step Taken

One of my writing goals for 2018 was to set up my own website, making it easier – hopefully – to market my blog and for people to be able to find me and my posts. So, right here at the END of 2018, I did this thing. I purchased a web domain through WordPress.com, the site that has hosted my blog for the past 14 months. My personal website address is jimgblack.blog (go ahead and add it to your favorites now, please), and has a front page and a blog page already. I just started setting up the site, and will add more pages as I get more accustomed to navigating the site. You can see my last three posts, and, if you want to see my other posts, you can use the scroll down ARCHIVE menu and choose a month to peruse. You can also find me at my Facebook writing site (which I see I need to do some serious work on) and my Twitter page by clicking the social media icon on either page. Pretty cool, huh? Anyway, I’ve got it for a year right now, and will continue to play with it and tweak it for maximum use. My next project will be to establish my LLC and trademark my Broken Anvil Press brand. 2019 looks to be an interesting year.

Until next time.

My Conversation With Millie

We have cats. Seven to be exact. They are all strays and rescues that we have taken in, well, more like they adopted us, and we have loved and fed and cared for and had them all fixed. We often wonder what they would say if they could talk with us; would they tell us from where they came, what they think about each other, what they think about us and our home, why they won’t eat certain brands of cat food, etc?

Millie is one of our cats. When he showed up on our back porch, my daughter and I both said that she looks like a Millie, and the name stuck. Then we found out that she was actually a he, so now Millie is short for Milton. Earlier today I saw Millie on the back porch, looking toward one of our neighbors’ house. I knew that he was watching their little dog running around inside their fence, and imagined the conversation we would have. Before I go into it, let me just add this little disclaimer:

I don’t do drugs, nor do I drink to excess. I have had plenty of sleep and have eaten two good meals today. The following conversation between me and my cat is strictly the workings of a creative geni…uh…mind and nothing else.

Millie asked, “Why do the neighbors keep their dogs inside a fence?”

“So they won’t run away from home and get lost”, I replied. “Their owners would be very heartbroken if their dogs ran away.”

But, you don’t keep us inside a fence. Do you not care if we run away and get lost?”

“You and the others would be able to jump the fence and run away, if you wanted to, isn’t that right?”

“I guess that’s right.”

“You and the others came to us, remember? We love you and take care of you, so that you wouldn’t want to run away in the first place.”

” I wouldn’t want to leave this place. It’s my home now. I remember when I first came here, through the woods. I didn’t know where I had come from, or how long I had been on my own. There were a lot of others here, just like me. Some not as welcoming, but we all learned how to live together.”

“And we have always tried to let each of you know that you are loved here.”

“Do dogs not realize how good they have it at their homes, that they would want to run away?”

“Some dogs are very active and adventurous”, I said. “They can run and explore so far that they lose all sense of direction and where home is. Cats tend to stay closer to home.”

“What about Sam?” Millie asked. “He never went far from home. He was kind of lazy, too. You didn’t keep him in a fence. No chance of him getting lost.”

“Sam was already up in age when he found us. I think he was tired of running and was just happy to find a forever home.”

“Dogs are kind of stupid, aren’t they? They chase their tails and run in circles and chase squirrels…”

“Much the same way as cats?”

This got me a sideways glare from Millie and, what sounded like a snort, if cats can snort.

“Would you ever get another dog?” Millie asked.

“What would you all think if we did?”

“Stupid dog.”

“Millie…”

Another sideways glance and snort.

“It might not be so bad, if it wasn’t too hyperactive. It would take a long time for us to warm up to it, though.”

“We’ll see what happens. We’re not talking about it happening any time soon, though.”

“That’s good. Can I have some dry food now?”

“Sure, Buddy. Come on, let’s go inside.”

Photos: by Jim G Black

First: Millie

Second: Charlie, Wicket, YK (gone, but not forgotten)

Third: Boo Boo and Pudge

Fourth: Tabby

Fifth: Sam (also gone, but not forgotten)

Sixth: Lamb

Something Different

And just like that, she was gone. With no notice or explanation, she just disappeared.

She emailed him the day before to tell him about her day, as she had often done since they started corresponding. She had been doing all of her favorite things; out riding with friends, enjoying good food and ending the day with her friends around a campfire, playing guitar, singing and sharing a couple bottles of wine. She was a free spirit and enjoyed life to the fullest. Too many bad experiences in her past led her to always look for the good in everything, and their conversations left him feeling better about things which he was going through, also.

So, today, when he went to reply to her email, it did not send, and he received a message from the email account, saying that the email could not be sent because the receiving address did not exist. He knew this had to be a mistake, because he had replied to all of her other emails. He tried replying again, but with the same results. He then tried to send a new email straight to her address, but, again, it was unsuccessful. He then tried looking for all of her social media accounts, where they had met and started talking almost a year earlier. He couldn’t find her anywhere. All of her accounts seemed to have been wiped clean. He couldn’t even find any of their conversations on the sites. Where had she gone?

After a while of thinking about this, he pulled up the first email she sent, and clicked the attachment that was with it. It was the only picture she had ever sent him. In it she was in a long white dress of a Victorian-esque style, leaning against the side of a long window, looking out. The setting sun shining on her profile and highlighting her fiery red hair, giving her an ethereal look, almost phantom-like. Maybe that’s all she was. A figment of his imagination. At least he still had the emails to read and remind him that she was real. As he was staring at the picture, it began to fade out. He couldn’t believe his eyes as it continued to fade out of existence, much the same as she had done. When it was completely gone, he closed the email to find that it, along with the other emails he had in the folder with her name on it, had also disappeared. The folder was empty.

Who was she? Where did she go? Did she even exist? In his heart she did. The picture would forever be imprinted in his mind.

As if I didn’t have any more to do: a debut novel, two short stories and a poem – all of which I need to be writing! – I just came up with this. I am thinking about the relationship between my main character and a supporting character in my WIP (Work In Progress for my non-writing followers), and in good ADD fashion, my mind just turned this out. This is off course from my WIP, but it was a fun exercise anyway. Let me know what you think.

A Little Halloween Humor

About two decades ago, while working for another police department, I was dispatched to a residence to do a welfare check on the woman who lived there. Her son had called in and said that his sister had called him, telling him that she had taken food to the house, but could not get their mother to come to the door. He further reported that he was at the house, but could not get their mother to the door, nor could he get into the house.

My Lieutenant and I arrived at the house, and spoke with the woman’s son. He said that his mother was elderly, lived alone and couldn’t go anywhere by herself. When asked if she could have gone somewhere with a friend or neighbor, he said that she never went anywhere. We checked all of the doors and windows, and found only one small window beside the back door that was unlocked. The window was about two feet wide and would only open about two feet. The Lieutenant looked at me – standing six foot three with four foot wide shoulders – like he was expecting me to just slide right through the opening. We both laughed at that thought. The woman’s son was the only one small enough to fit through the opening, and I told him to go in and come straight to the door to let us in. Once he did that I told him to wait outside while the Lieutenant and I checked the residence. I did this for two reasons; one, because I didn’t want him to freak out and go crazy if she was in there dead and two, if it turned out to be a crime scene, it needed to be preserved as much as possible.

Well…we entered the residence and started looking around. Even though it was the middle of the day the house was dark due to heavy curtains being closed in parts of the house and windows being boarded over in other parts. As I was approaching the master bedroom, the beam from my flashlight washed over a bare leg, hanging off the side of the bed. I told my Lieutenant that I had found the resident. It didn’t look good. Aside from the one leg hanging off the bed, the rest of the woman was fully clothed and laying back on the bed. I said her name, but got no reply. I spoke louder and the LT also called her name. Nothing!

Now…I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, “Jim! The title of this post is ‘A Little Halloween Humor’. What’s funny about finding a dead woman in her home?! Keep reading, dear friends.

I told the Lieutenant that I was going to check for a pulse and he flipped on the light switch and came over beside me. Just as I touched her wrist, the woman jumped up on the bed and let out a holler that startled me and elicited a yelp from my Lieutenant, followed by him attempting to run through me to get out of that house! As it turned out, the woman was a very hard sleeper and did not sleep with her hearing aids in, which is why she didn’t hear the phone and the knocking on the door. All was well with her. I can’t say the same for my Lieutenant. We laughed about it for a long time after that.

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween, y’all!

Southern Reflections

So…the trophy wife and I spent our anniversary week (28 years) in one of our favorite places, the mountains of North Carolina. We got a hotel room in a nice place on the river in one of the small towns in western North Carolina, and then visited other small towns around the area to just browse the shops and take in some local restaurants. No chain places for us on these trips. That’s part of getting away. The picture above is one I took just looking down the main street of one of the towns, and all of them pretty much look the same.

One of these towns is a stopping point for the Great Smokey Mountains Railroad train excursion. Riders get off the train and have some time to eat and browse, before getting back on and going back to the start. We took the lunch excursion a couple years ago on a previous anniversary trip and loved it.

While the group was in town I overheard one of the men comment that he wished they had stopped in a “nicer place”. I looked at him and noticed that he was probably in his thirties, wearing his modern clothes and a man purse. I couldn’t help but wonder where he was from and the fact that “he just don’t get it”. The town we were in is one of the most quaint and creative towns in this area, and it’s really neat to just walk and explore. Plus, the restaurants are really good here. Maybe it’s because I’m middle-aged, or that I grew up around a lot of this culture, or that I just have an appreciation for artisans and creative minds. I don’t consider myself better than anyone else, but I don’t think I’d put myself into a situation where I wouldn’t appreciate my surroundings.

Another reflection I had was in one of the shops, looking at some cookbooks of mountain cooking and country cooking and “hillbilly” cooking. I got to thinking about how we can go online and easily find recipes for anything and everything we want to cook and eat. I also got to thinking that there are so many recipes in those old books that no one ever hears about or cooks again. It made me wonder a couple things. One, would a lot of younger people even know what some of the ingredients were to some of those old dishes and, two, could you find a lot of the ingredients, with a lot of them being locally grown and referred to by names in the vernacular. I didn’t study any of them to test my musings. Coming from an Appalachian family, I just bet that seeing some of them would bring back some wonderful memories.

I love my time in the mountains. I spend a lot of time in the woods as a young boy, and love the feeling of being back outside. I live in a small town, just an hour away from western NC, so it’s always a quick and easy trip to return to those feelings when I need a recharge.