3025 – Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

March 30, 3025 – Elmira, NY – 11 months before the event

“Anika, would you like to meet at The Shingle for a bite to eat when you get done with your studies?” asked Cedric, hoping she would be okay with food from the dive he liked to frequent.

“Yeah, that sounds like a great idea! It’s been a while since I ate there,” Anika lit up enthusiastically, looking forward to something different. The packaged meals at home were getting a little boring. “Way too long!”

“Oh, I didn’t know you’ve been there before. So you like Shingle’s food?”

“There’s a lot you don’t know about me yet,” she said with a smile. “Yes, I like that place very much! I don’t have the time to cook, what with my studies and job. Dinner there will be a real treat!” responding genuinely excited.

“Well, I’m glad to know that you like it there. It is one of my favorite places to go.” Cedric was looking forward to their first date.

“Great, then I’ll see you there around 6ish?”

“Yeah, that’s perfect! See you then,” Cedric said with a big smile. Anika felt a sweet thrill start in the pit of her stomach, then pulsing throughout her body. She had a hunch; this was the beginning of something special.

~~

The Shingle, housed in a small dilapidated bluish-grey building, attracted many customers even though it looked ancient and run down. The City of Elmira also boasted about this hole in the wall as a Must See! Establishment on their web page. Business was good, and it would be a long time coming before they closed its doors. It had been in the family since 1947, prospering throughout because of their ideas and their work ethic. Their staying power was also a testament to the quality of their food and service. The building’s nostalgic feel was the biggest draw for the clientele but also because it was an oddity that stood out in today’s world. The younger generation, especially, wanted to partake of something that was just slightly different, as has always been the case throughout history. It was their way of making something their own, so naturally, it became a hot spot for the younger crowd.

The reason it was called The Shingle was for its favorite item on the menu, a comfort food known as “Shit on a Shingle.” They couldn’t name the restaurant that so it was just known as The Shingle. But everyone knew what it stood for. The dish’s origin dated back to the early 1900s, with slight modifications over the years from what was listed in the Manual of Army Cooks from 1910. The Shingle owners served many variations on the original recipe, trying to customize it to the customer’s taste buds. Like Burger King’s original slogan in 1953, the owners of The Shingle were big fans of allowing their customers to “have it their way.” The formula had worked for over 1000 years and was likely to sustain them for even longer. Some things just shouldn’t change.

TO BE CONTINUED ON THURSDAY…

Led Astray – Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

“Whatever happened between you and Leslie?” Looking at him empathically, knowing it may be a bit too personal. “If it’s too painful or none of my business, I’ll understand.”

“No, no, it’s fine,” Eliott answered as he adjusted himself in his chair. “It helps to talk about it. Plus, I sometimes find that I zone in on something else that can answer deeper questions for me when I do.”

I was all ears. Perhaps what broke up the marriage could help me make Eliott understand I always was a better match for him. Sighing internally, I realized I’d had more than just a crush on him back then and more so today.

“We had a good marriage, but the problems started when I mismanaged our financials. I was spending way too much, and it put us into debt.” He looked very embarrassed but continued with the details behind the eventual demise of the marriage.

“On top of the problems I was having, I started drinking too much, which led me down an even worse path. It was a vicious circle. I was depressed because of my problems, then drank to self-medicate. It was no wonder that I lost everything. Leslie finally had enough and filed for divorce. That’s what happens when someone becomes more dependent on finding relief in the bottle than facing the problems head-on and working with their partner to solve them.” He leaned back in the chair with a big sigh.

“Wow. That takes a big man to admit his mistakes,” I said with pride for him in my voice.

Eliott shook his head and smiled, “Well, I wouldn’t say I’m a big man, rather a flawed human who had a lot of growing up to do.” Does it ever stop with you being so humble, Eliott? Internally I was giddy that with us hitting it off so well now, this might turn into the relationship I’d hoped for in the past!

“I hate to cut you short now, Eliott, but I have to go home now. Sadly, I’ve got an early morning meeting scheduled, and it’s getting late.” Plus, I need some time to stalk you a bit on Google tonight!

“Oh, I understand completely!” he said very empathetically. “Let’s get you home,” he said as we both stood up and headed out the door.

I turned to say goodbye with a little bit of sadness as we were waiting for the cab. “Thanks for the evening, Eliott. It’s been wonderful seeing you again and having the chance to talk after all these years.”

“The pleasure has been all mine,” he said as he embraced me warmly before I got into the car.

~~

Hello, Google, thanks for being my friend. Wow, I was finding nothing but gold! He sure has built himself an impressive resume online. More affirmation that I needed to continue to pursue him. Hold on, what’s this?

The headline read, “Stedman linked to the rich heiress’s disappearance,” prompting an immediate twitch in me.

TO BE CONTINUED ON THURSDAY…

Led Astray – Part 2

Part 1

As if I would say no. I chuckled to myself. Eliott, you haven’t been picking up on the signals I’ve put out there.

“Sure, I would love to have dinner with you, Eliott.”

“Great, you choose – hearty burgers, Indian or Spanglish Mexican. That is what is closest to the hotel, and I’ve been to them all,” Eliott offered up. “I can recommend them with confidence as I broke from the meal plan a few times already.

“Hmm, it’s been a long time since I’ve had Indian, let’s do that,” I said, looking forward to eating some Chicken Tikka Masala and Naan bread to dampen the heat. I hoped it was as tasty as Eliott said.

“The seminar is over at 5:30 pm, but I need to wind down a bit and shower. How about you meet me in front of Conference Chicago at 6 pm?”

“See you then!” I said excitedly. A quick hug and we went our separate ways.

~~

“Well, hello again, Mr. Blast from the Past,” I said, beaming as I approached. After a quick peck and a firm but brief squeeze, we made our way to the restaurant. I was looking forward to this evening and seeing how it would progress.

We laughed for hours, picking up where we left off at the coffee shop. Eliott went into more detail about his messy divorce, hitting rock bottom emotionally due to it and explained more about the wrong financial decisions he made. Sadly, it all happened around the same time, and it took a toll on his mental health. I found him very mature to have accepted his mistakes and taking the next steps to get back on track. It’s rare to see a man know when he has to reach out. I found myself drawn into his personal success story and applauding with each detail of his journey towards stability.

“I think that had I not gone through what I did, I would not be where I am today,” Eliott said humbly. Even that was refreshing to see that he wasn’t braggadocious about it. Mr. Stedwell, you are looking better and better every minute!

“Eliott, it sounds like you’ve become a wise man going through all your struggles. I admire that in you.”

“Yeah, I’ve picked up a thing or two. This positive life I have now is one of the biggest reasons I got started in mentoring. I wanted to give something back. Jack Canfield was inspirational and willing to take a chance on me. He brought me onboard his organization after seeing all the progress I had made,” he said and then paused for a bit, just staring into my eyes, reaching in to touch my soul. “Under his tutelage, I grew the confidence to break out on my own.” 

“So happy for you, Eliott!” I said, resting my hand on his. “If anyone is deserving, it’s you. Say, do you mind if I change the subject to something a tad more personal?” 

TO BE CONTINUED ON WEDNESDAY…

Led Astray – Part 1

“Maxie!” yelled this handsome man coming in my direction. Chicago sure produced many of his kind, but his broad smile was inviting, and he did look so familiar. I returned the smile. Slowly, I realized who he was.

“Eliott Stedwell! Oh my gosh, it’s been way too long! How have you been?” I said, wrapping him in my arms with a heartfelt hug.

“Pretty good, actually,” he said with confidence. “Life is treating me well now, I must say.”

“So, are you living in Chicago now?” I asked, hoping it was true. I couldn’t help but let my eyes wander over his face with delight. He was still hot as ever, with the charm to match. God, those eyes!

“Well, for the time being, yes,” he said quickly. “But only temporarily. I’m running a self-help seminar at Conference Chicago on State St. It’s a short-term engagement, not just one talk but a series of them taking place over two weeks. The location is perfect because they also offer housing for my attendees, and me, of course. With the meal plans included, it made it rather reasonable for everyone.”

“Wow! That’s interesting, Eliott. I didn’t know you were on the lecture circuit as a motivational speaker. Do you work for yourself or a company?”

“It is my company, but I didn’t start out that way. I got into it because of a seminar led by Jack Canfield. I had a rough patch a few years back, which led to some dark times for me,” he said earnestly. “A friend of mine recommended his course, hoping it could turn things around for me. And did it ever; it was the best thing I could have done for myself!” Yeah, I could see that. He seemed very confident, happy, and of course, hella good-looking to me! I noticed Eliott was wearing a pretty expensive suit, so it really must have worked out to his benefit financially too.

“Well, good for you,” I said with a big smile for him. “That makes me happy to know you are in a good place now. Hey, if you aren’t in a rush, do you want to grab some coffee and catch up some more?” Even though I had a few pressing errands to do, I was glad for the distraction, not wanting to do them anyway.

“Yeah, sure, then I can tell you more about how I went from being a total clod to a minor success,” Eliott said with a boyish grin as we started heading in the direction of the nearest Starbucks.

“Right, minor success,” I said, poking him in the shoulder. “From what I can tell, you seem to be enjoying major success!”

We spent the next few hours reminiscing about old times, mostly but also where our lives had taken us in the last few years.

“Say, I do have to give a seminar later today, but I wondered if you would like to have dinner afterward?” He looked at me, hoping I would say yes.

TO BE CONTINUED ON TUESDAY…

Past Lies

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“Whites saw Indians as obstacles to settlement, not rightful proprietors. Whites possessed presumptive rights because they represented a superior civilization. Indians were merely “savages”, incapable of putting the land to its highest possible use.” “Feel-good morality tales, in which the good guys can do no wrong and the bad guys can do no right, are far from harmless. They feed the notion that one side, inspired by righteousness, possesses the right to kill. They fuel the destructive cycle of revenge, for the villainous acts committed by the bad guys must be avenged. The emotions stirred in stories such as The Patriot are elemental but base: we want the enemy to go down. Justice is achieved through killing.”
Ray Raphael, author of Founding Myths – Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past

This thought-process explains why the military defense gets over half of the US budget. The mindset of the powerful is and has always been one of conquest. They expect everyone to feel the same and fall in line. Those who whitewash history know this. It’s precisely why our children don’t learn the reality of this country’s past as teachers shovel feel-good stories about patriotism. The United States tries to deflect on every level all the shit they have done.

It’s disgusting.

 

Elder

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death gifted me a new hierarchical level
a transition of status
deserved? maybe
definitely earned
especially in my family

accidental or age-related
expiring and passing the torch
a normal consequence of living
most times it’s hard
in my case, a good thing

finally having autonomy
the benefit of losing people
who held me back for years
death seems a good thing
#fight me

resentments let go of
feelings resolved
the chaos and drama over
by dying they
helped heal my old wounds

Eternal Friends

1

A stranger turned ally, so fortunate for me
We forged a great friendship, a real family

Our lives navigating twists and turns
Left feeling at a loss, and with concerns

We struggled on, determined to remain alive
Oh, mentor and side-kick, you helped me thrive

Our strong bond, even stretched thin, wouldn’t break
Deep loyalty and care, we were never fake

Here we are hitting our peak, best friend
Our hearts bound together until the very end

A Box Full Of Life

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Roman Kraft

Opening the lid to the past.

Joy, tears, and laughter escape.

Youthful feelings rushing back expectedly.

Playing in the past like it was yesterday.

Staying there is tempting,

in the good ‘ole days.

But were they really?

Boxed memories are nearly all good.

Who saves the crap?

Those moments slowly come back too.

Time to close the lid.

Back to reality.