Friday, August 29, 2014

New Cover art for Josh Becker's "True" World War II novel

Cover art I painted for my friend Josh Becker's new "true" novel about Pearl Harbor, called Day of Infamy.

I am very proud of this cover.

Visit Josh's site at

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Past

For a lot of my childhood friends from Fredericksburg, Virginia, none of them knew when we were kids, that I was the product of a kidnapping.  For his own reasons, my father took me to Fredericksbug, to raise me there because he believed that my mother and siblings wouldn't be able to find me.  I lived in fear for a few years, when we moved there, afraid to speak of my mother. You see, I made the mistake of speaking about my mother to my school counselor once, and the hour plus long nightmarish car ride around town with my father afterward was something I never wanted to go through again; threatening me with my mother, "Do you want to go back to her?! I'll just make you go back to her." So, I never spoke of my mother or six siblings to any of our teachers and especially to any counselor. I didn't trust them.

My father was never a good father. He tried, but he didn't have the temperament, so he failed. It didn't help that he was an alcoholic. When he was drinking, he was a monster, and he drank until I was 16.  Though it did slow quite a bit after I was 13, because I began shaming him for how he acted drunk. I would tell him the things he said and did. The way he would threaten me. Then, as his back got worse, there were the prescription drugs. He was taking so many. He would do things, when he was on them, that when I would tell him later, he began to doubt me and called me a liar.  I tried believing in my dad, but, once he began denying what he was doing, I was finished with him.  I wasn't a child anymore. I never had been. I was already working two jobs, and was failing school because of it.  That lead to one of the worst things he ever did. It took place just before I left home, when I was nearing 18. I wanted to quit the jobs, and focus on school, because I was doing so poorly. He told me I had to keep the job and refused to listen to me. My reaction was the first time in my life, really standing up to him, saying, "I am not doing this anymore! I'm just a kid!" To which he told me I will, and I responded by storming from the car, to go deliver newspapers on my paper route and and replied, "Fuck you, I am going to quit." I heard his car door open and close and the sound of him hobbling toward me on the crutches he used because of his bad back. I turned as he got closer, and saw the look of murderous rage in his eyes. But, i was done being scared. He'd pushed me too far, and my one time pushing back was too much for him to bear, so, there he was, stepping up into my face. His left hand let go of the crutch and pushed me back against the mailboxes. His other hand left the other crutch, so now he was completely leaning on his crutches, pushing into me, his left hand now up and grabbing my throat. His right hand had reached into his wind breaker pocket and he pulled out the Colt .45 Commander, and shoved it into my chest. I really don;t even remember what he said to me. Something akin to Bill Cosby's line about "I brought you in this world, I'll take you out." But, I was sick of it all. So tired and unafraid. I should have been afraid, but I wasn't Instead, and he could see it in my eyes, that I didn't care anymore. He could see that I just accepted it and had this expression of, "well? You going to do it or what?"  Years later, after my father died, the Colt was left to my cousin's husband. I should have wanted it, but I didn't. My cousin never saw that side of my father, they didn't know how much of a monster he could be. I am glad. Everyone should have someone who sees the good in them.

You would think, for me to receive such rage from my father, I must have been an awful kid. But, you see, I was a good kid. I did what my dad said, without fail. That is until I saw him for who he really was; an abusive, pill popping, alcoholic who kept me around solely for the money I brought in.  he got more from his disability because of me. That is until I turned 18. The closer I got to 18, he was making it clear I had to pay for myself. Remember, I was in school and failing because of this.  But, once he lost that war of wills with me in that apt building hallway, it was over.  I had no value to him and wasn't afraid of him, he was done with me.  From that point forward he would do things to get me to leave. In one last effort to get me to break, after I got off work, I came home and he wouldn't let me in the house, because he'd gone into my wallet and had read a letter from a sealed envelope that I'd written to a girl. I thought to myself, "I don't do drugs, I am honest, and a good person, so what's his reason for going into my wallet, retrieving a private letter to someone else and reading it. In it, I was angry that he wouldn't allow us to have a phone, even if I paid for it. "I don't want your mother or her kids calling here."  So, in the letter to the girl, I said, "My father is acting like an ass about getting a phone."  My dad then told me I had to apologize for calling him an ass. To which I told him, "I didn't call you an ass, I said you are acting like one. Besides, what were you doing in my wallet, and opening my private mail? I don';t do drugs or do anything illegal, so what were you looking for?" He didn't like the redirect, and kept trying to go back my needing to apologize for saying he was acting like an ass. To which I said no. An unstoppable force just met an immovable object.

That was the end. I walked away, sought help from my godfather for a place to stay, until I could figure out what to do, he only had to help me for a few days and then another good friend gave me a place to stay, until I figured out what to do or found a place. I left and never looked back. My father's and my relationship was rocky until the end. His senility near then end really aggravated an already frayed relationship, to the point I refused to even talk to him the last year of his life.  He would say awful things about me to my cousin, whom I love very much. I told her, "You can have him. I can't deal with him anymore." He'd done one decent thing for me, and that was help me pay my attorney's fees, so I could keep custody of my daughter. But, he was such an awful human being, he couldn't let me have that. He resented "having" to help by allowing me to sell his gun collection, my "inheritance." he was fighting throat cancer at the time, and was afraid he wouldn't make it. But, I made it clear, "If I lose my daughter because you won't help with the one thing you can help with, you won't have a son to leave them to. I will leave this life and you can leave it to someone else."

After that, he agreed, begrudgingly, but he still agreed.  So I brought a friend of mine to his house, and my friend made notes of all the weapons we collected and my father told him how much each one was worth. Then, with them sold, I was able to pay off the last bit of what i owed my attorney. I was awarded sole custody of my daughter and I thanked dad for it. What did he do? Unbeknownst to me, he told my cousin I stole the guns from him to pay for the lawyer bill, even though I have a a friend who was a witness, and knows better. It didn't matter.  It took me six years to find out about this.  In one phone call he managed to take away the ONLY good thing he'd ever done for me.  I called my cousin and found out more he had said.  I was done with him.

We never spoke again. He died a year later, just before Christmas.

I loved my father, but I also hated him. Here is the weirdest part, despite everything, I even miss him. When he wasn't being a pompous self righteous ass, he was fun to talk history with; the one passion we shared. Despite the mean and awful things, I miss him. He and I were left unresolved. Our life ended like a favorite TV drama that got canceled after a cliffhanger ending.