James Otis Chronicles

Live with Passion. What do you have to lose!

Earth Angel

Cheryl’s beauty radiated through the hospital room. She was always pretty but when I walked in her face seemed back lighted by a bright halo. She was so stunningly beautiful I just stopped and took it all in. As I approached her bed her beauty just increased.

As I took her for a walk down the hospital halls, her face didn’t have that glow. She was still pretty, but back to human. Except when I looked straight at her. Such a surreal glow to her that I knew she was already transforming into the Angel she would become in a few short weeks.

This scale says 95 pounds, Cheryl said. Stomach cancer was shrinking her away. Another one in one of these rooms weighs me at 96. I always try to find that one, she said as we continued our walk thru the hospital.

Miss you every day.

Buffalo Jump

Buffalo Jump, my friend pointed out the back window of the apartment in Calgary she was showing me.

Looking out I saw the big rounded hill with a cliff off to the front. It was easy to imagine thousands of Buffalo sprinting to what they thought was freedom and instead it was their doom.

Later on over glasses of red wine, she was talking about her boyfriend. They had reconnected after a twenty year break. Her youngest son will be graduating high school in a year and off to college. Her boyfriend’s children are under ten. A little uncertainty about that. Her boyfriend was going through some issues, kids, maybe ex wife, but something. My friend had sent him a note saying that she understood, was patient and their relationship would be stronger after that. When he didn’t reply in kind, she felt that empty crunch in her stomach.

A couple Saturday mornings later I saw a text my girlfriend had sent ten o’clock the previous night. Can’t make Saturday night. Forgot I had a prior commitment. Hmm, She never forgets anything. We had talked Thursday night. Prior commitment for Saturday night? After 7 months of dating how does that happen? When I called her she said it was complicated but didn’t elaborate. We have shuffled dates around before but never because it was complicated.

So she’s out on a Saturday night without me on a just remembered prior commitment that’s too complicated to explain. Maybe a Rubick’s cube convention, a rocket scientist meetup, or what? I felt that empty crunch.

Relationships: Leap of faith or Buffalo jump?

Headbanger

Walked up to dingiest bar on the dingiest street in Denver with the tallest bouncer I had ever seen guarding the front door. Cobwebs seemed to hold up the whole building and the wood door wobbled in the midnight wind. This must be the place I thought.

When I walked in everyone in the bar turned and stared. Their broken faces gleamed yellow thru the neon bar signs and my next step in I was almost blasted out by the loudest, banging music I had ever heard. A hurricane of riveting noise swept my senses away. The 4 members of the band slammed their instruments, slammed their heads. The blue spiked hair singer, with a dog collar with spikes strutting out barked, growled out the songs. Heavy metal at its weightiest.

The patronage at the bar never really let me out of their site even though I had my roughest leather jacket on. Could they smell my blood?

At the end of the song set I walked up to the band stand. The lead singer gave out a rebel yell, leapt off the stage and gave me a big hug. Thanks for coming, Man! he said. So glad you came.

Matt makes my chai tea or coffee in the mornings at the cafe by my work. Come meet the band, he said.

Head banging music of the second set cleared my head. The Hit, slammed their songs out. The guitar was melodic up and down the frets. Afterwards got my picture taken with my friend and their band posing menacingly behind me. My new friends!

For Sale by Owner

Passed a trailer with a large white sign with red letters that said: For Sale by Owner.

Glad it said that because otherwise it might be for sale by guy who stole it from Owner, for sale by ex-wife of Owner, for sale by neighbor of Owner, for sale by guy who never really liked the Owner. Maybe its for sale by fellow who looks like Owner, won it in a pool game, or for Sale by guy passing by with For Sale Sign.

Decided to pass on buying it even with the bold assurance of For Sale by Owner.

Bingo Betty

A true original, Bingo Betty has passed on. She was at the very first Bingo party I put on at the Summit Senior Care Center 7 years ago.

Boy, she took her bingo seriously! Always has at least 6 cards and would get upset if someone didn’t hear the numbers that were called. But she usually wore a tiara, or if it was Easter she would wear bunny ears. And always gave me a bug hug. She was wheelchair bound from diabetes but rarely let it get her down even when her feet swelled and the pain was burning. Always brought her sugar free candy as her treat, and they were gold to her.

After she got sicker and I gave up doing the monthly bingo I’d come over on Sunday’s and watch westerns with her. She knew every TV cowboy.

Betty, my friend, B I N G O.

Fallen Hero

As my Delta flight to Atlanta landed, the pilot announced that they had the privilege to be carrying the remains of a fallen hero. They would like us to stay in our seats while they unloaded the remains from a special cargo section. If anybody couldn’t wait the ten minutes they were welcome to depart.

I watched the casket being pulled out draped with an American flag, full uniformed military saluting it. I looked around the plane to see if anybody would try to rush off. Is my connecting flight to Denver more important than this? Hell, no.

Everybody stayed sitting.

Over the Rainbow

My longtime friend is riding home to Salida in an ambulance with his lovely wife, Diana. They left the hospital in Colorado Springs and headed up the windy two lane mountain road of spectacular views and the darting flowing Arkansas River. Tuesday she had a heart attack on their ranch. CPR by Bob, then all the work by the ambulance crew got her blood flowing again. Flight for life took her soaring up and over to a hospital of hope and sometimes miracles. Four days later she is coming home, her brain as dead as the day she fell. Her husband, tall and youthful at fifty five holding her hand.

No magic, no miracles, no ordinary days anymore. Taking her home to the horses, the ranch she loved. Hospice where her body can join her spirit.

Fourth of July I watched them dance together on a hillside above the Arkansas River, fireworks popping overhead. The Moses Jones band pulling everyone out of their seats.

That day had color.

Any Mother’s Son

What to make of tattooed guy who is asking for directions when I came out of Target, I wondered.

When he said he was from Austin, my home town, I let my guard down, gave him a ride when he asked.

I just spent a hundred dollars at the store for my girlfriend, He said. As we drove along we passed two girls wearing shorts and tank tops. He said, Women shouldn’t wear that. Too many creepos in the world.

Said he sold his car because he had to give his ex 1,000 dollars because she was going to be homeless without the money. But I get disability from the Army so I will make it back soon, he said.

As we drove down Parker Road, he added, Had to leave Austin, things were getting too pressured, not going well, needed a fresh start. Was selling Heroin and making great money, but the dealers were like a Spanish mob, fancy cars with car plates that said Austin God.

Say what!!! Selling Heroin! Where is that next bus stop, I thought?

My turn is here, I said. I’ll let you out here.

Name’s Mathew, he said with a big smile and he could have been any Mother’s son for a second, with colorful tattoos on his arms and neck, getting Army disability, concerned with women’s modesty and selling Heroin. Now waiting for the bus.

New Glove

My black lab Calvin found a new glove in the field across from my house. He was chasing the UT football that he dearly loves when all of a sudden he made a sharp right turn. He dug down in the grass and came up happily with a worn out dark leather baseball mitt. Football left behind.

Boy, he was beaming! He proudly carried his new loveĀ  up and down the block and home.

I grabbed the football and will surprise him with it later.

Little bird in Newark Airport

Little bird at Newark Airport, seemed happy hopping about looking for muffin droppings. Don’t know if you will ever be able to get out of here, where would you go? Did you make a wrong turn to get in here. The weather is good here. Same all the time. Lots of people and music, or airplane talk always going. Also always light.

Little bird I hope that everything works out for you. I have to fly away.

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