Tag Archives: Growing up

Dallas

Periodically I run a short story of mine here. Most of those pass by unobtrusively, a few likes, rarely a comment. I think it’s because most of my stories are parables that contain too damn much “Shatarian flossofy” that spoils the entertainment value. The odd time though, I can contain my exuberance and just tell a story.  Maybe this is such an odd time. Enjoy anyway.  Thanks for reading.
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Dallas was a week from her 15th birthday when she disappeared. I am her older brother by almost 2 years. My name is Greg, or for some, Gregory, 3rd oldest of five siblings. Home is Hope, a small town at the eastern end of the Fraser Valley, if you will. The house is in an older subdivision on the way to Kawkawa lake. Not much ever happens in Hope and Dallas’ disappearance created quite a stir for the next year, until nothing was discovered or found and like so many, Dallas’ fate entered the missing persons’ growing police files.
Needless to say, the family was not the same after that. Mom was disconsolate but adamant that Dallas was just “lost” as she put it, that nothing had happened to her. She managed to communicate this feeling to me and upon graduating from Hope Secondary, I decided to go in search of Dallas.
There wasn’t much to go by, but I knew Dallas intimately – we were more than siblings, we were close friends, and I knew a lot of things about Dallas that she had not shared with any one else. I knew that she was restless, not close to anyone and tired of being “mom’s girl” at home. Dallas had grown wings prematurely and wanted to try them out. She had talked to me about leaving home many times but it was always something in the future, when she was “of age” so to speak. But youth is fed by impatience and Dallas added impetuosity to the volatile mix. Hope and home were much too constricting for someone like her. I could remember her flashing dark brown eyes and black pony tail swinging back and forth when she entered into an argument about something she felt deeply about, and Dallas felt deeply about everything.
So, with only mom knowing my plans, and a little over 2 years since Dallas had gone missing; with some money from an uncle’s inheritance, I set out on my private search for her.
I went west, to the city and port of Vancouver. After settling down I focused on doing research on teens running away from home. I did a lot of work to create a working pattern. I rented cheap accommodations where I set up my notebook and bluetooth mini printer. I transcribed my notes from the day’s search into computer files and printed pictures of Dallas to put on posts, bulletin boards or to pass around. I got to know a few city police detectives on missing kids detail and everyday was a new learning experience. I won’t bore you with the endless false leads, and the sick people trying to cash-in on leading me to Dallas. I learned to smell them out pretty quickly. And all the while, I discovered the dark heart of a modern megalopolis.
Having made my peace with the reality of the city I knew that anything was possible. I interacted with prostitutes, pimps and massage parlours, any sort of place or business that might provide a haven for underage female runaways. I didn’t think Dallas would go that route but desperation narrows choices. On the other side, I frequented movie sets where a young girl’s ID might not be checked too closely when an extra was needed in a hurry. I checked the Internet for ads and agencies that placed babysitters or nannies.
It was a strange time. The more I came up blank, the more convinced I became that I was on Dallas’ trail and would find her.
I dreamt about her sometimes, and every dream showed me this: that she was not only all right, but had found herself and was happy with her new life. Sometimes I met her in a restaurant where she waitressed, or in a rich household where she worked as a nanny. There was always that mischievous look in her eyes, the twinkling that said, “I have a secret and I won’t tell you what it is until and unless you discover it for yourself.” Then she would laugh and the dream would end.

I emailed or texted mom fairly regularly, skipping many details but reassuring her that I was not only still looking, but increasingly sure that I would find Dallas and that she would be well. Often I would get a simple reply: “Thank you, Gregory, thank you. – Mom”
It occurred to me, after over a year, and a third of my funds gone, to combine my search with some practical course on private investigating and journalism. Within a few months I felt confident that I had enough horse sense and street smarts to try working. I answered an ad from a family looking for their disappeared son. I visited the people and explained what I was doing in Vancouver and convinced them that I knew enough to be of value to them. We settled on a fee and I added 14 year old “William” to my search query, creating a new set of patterns. Not surprising (to me) I found William with a group of Lost Boys downtown, trying to earn some money washing windshields at intersections.
Once I was sure of him, I waited for a chance and approached him as casually as I knew how, offering him a small amount of money if he would run an errand for me. He was hungry and broke and completed the errand in record time. Before I paid him, I told him his name and asked him if he ever thought about returning home.

“You a f…king cop?” he snarled and almost bolted from the outdoor table I had chosen for the exchange. I gently but firmly put my hand on his arm.
“Oh, don’t be stupid, Will. A cop wouldn’t ask you to run an errand. I wanted you to have that to think about before I talked to you.”
“So what’s the deal? Why do you care who I am or what I do?”
“Should be obvious – I’m a private investigator hired to find you, and I found you. I can have you home within the hour… if you’ll let me. Hey, it’s no skin off my nose if you run, I get paid regardless. I report that I found you, the location, and that you took off. Doesn’t sound too smart to me, though. Whatever caused you to run in the first place couldn’t have been that serious, and it’s been 6 months. I think it’s time for you to go home, finish school, then think about leaving with your head high this time, with a job or a degree at least. You’re not a poor homeless kid, William. You’re a spoiled Yuppie brat who may just have learned a valuable lesson now. You can take advantage of that. You know what gets you the farthest in life? Self-discipline. You can do it to wash windshields, surely you can do it to a greater end than that.”
So I returned a subdued William to his grateful parents. And I found other jobs; learned to collaborate with some of the undercover cops and my life slowly changed, but my purpose remained steadfastly the same: to find Dallas. Another year went by and I figured most would have given up by now. But something was inextricably linked in my mind: Dallas and the City. Dallas and I. All three of us were drawing together, I could sense this.
The City, as ugly and frightening as it had appeared at first, was definitely growing on me. I saw her gross sins and could forgive many of them. I interacted with her victims, the rich and the poor, and found out many didn’t mind being victims and I learned to accept that. And I wrote all of that down in my notes and began to feed some of my impressions to the borderline underground press that proliferated in the City. I deliberately used my real name to sign my articles and made sure it appeared frequently. I made a couple of “appearances” on radio talk shows about my work on the street, and what I had learned in interaction with the “Wendy’s” and the “Lost Boys,” as I called the runaways; their pimps, employers, lovers, and mentors.
And as I somehow knew it would, it happened: I found Dallas. She did investigating for a couple of Internet news blogs between other jobs, and she saw my name on an article, found the radio program on the Internet and contacted me by email. My heart soared as old Chief Dan George would have said. We chose to meet in a Starbucks, neutral grounds. I was there early because I wanted to watch her walk in; wondering how much she’d changed; if I would recognize her.
I had no trouble recognizing her face. Her hair was longer, no longer in a pony tail but allowed to flow freely thick over her shoulders. She appeared a bit taller, slimmer certainly, and much older. She wore a brown fake leather jacket and a short blue skirt and knee-length high heeled black boots. But that dark brown-eyed twinkle was as bright as ever.
“Dallas!” I couldn’t help calling as she looked over the crowd and line-ups. She saw me and smiled. It was still that special smile she used on me when we were “kids” it seemed so long ago. She came over, hugged me and went to get an espresso. I watched her, the poise, the certainty, the assurance. I should not have been surprised, but I was regardless. I couldn’t help but remember that she had not yet turned 15 when she left home and Hope to find herself. And I though it uncanny how right both mom and I had been about her. Except that she was never lost: she had her own map, her own destination and her own destiny to fulfill. And as I watched that young woman interacting with the guy behind the counter, I realized what her mind had told her, those eventful years ago: “It’s time Dallas. Leave – now, or forfeit your purpose. They will take you, when you come of age; when you have graduated, or earned a degree, and they will file you, pigeon-hole you, and you will become the living dead, just like your parents, your teachers, the adults you see on TV and meet in the stores. They will make you fit in. You’ll get married, get a house and stuff, have kids, part-time brain dead job, and walk the treadmill until you die. Walk away now, Dallas. You can do it.”
And, she had.
We didn’t talk very long that morning. I was on a case and she had reports to file, so we decided to meet at my place. Hers she said, was a bit crowded; she lived with two other women, one of whom was her lover – for the time being – she added with that twinkle. “Neither one of us is ready to settle, and I don’t think I want a serious relationship, at least not for a long time.”
She came to my place and having settled my case that afternoon and gotten paid, I got the goodies and wine and we talked, basically all through the night. And although the question was burning on my tongue, I never asked her why she hadn’t contacted mom, nor whether she would now. It didn’t seem appropriate and besides, she was the one asking the questions.
“OK, so I can see mom would try to put you up to this, but why did you come looking for me, Greg? Why didn’t you just let it go? Huh? She got up abruptly from the chair, sending it flying ass over tea kettle, turned, grabbed it and threw it back on its feet. She turned her back to me and talked: “I’ll tell you why you came to find me. You didn’t believe that I was lost. I became an opportunity for you, didn’t I. An excuse to leave also. Romance, excitement, feelings, emotions, so many things that tend to get bottled up in a small town stuck against a mountain and a river, things that can be let loose and expressed in countless ways, good and bad, here in the metro. You wanted what I had discovered. And you wanted to find me to prove to yourself that you had found it too. You followed me, not to find me, though that was your intent, but to find yourself. You were the one who was lost, Gregory. You were never going to find yourself in Hope, or in whatever institution you ended up working for. You sensed it, and you found my map in your mind, where I left you a copy. So, have you found yourself, Greg?”
She turned just as abruptly, leaned down with both hands flat on the small table and literally stared into my soul. She smiled thinly and sat down to sip some more wine. She waited for my answer.
“You are right, Dallas. The commitment, the gallantry, the chivalry, call it whatever you will, that was the cover story. The underlying motive was romance. I would do something different, and I had you to light my way. And Dallas?”
“Yes?”
“What a light you turned out to be!” She smiled again, and her eyes were wet, as were mine. We finished the wine and I called a taxi to take her home. We hugged once more just before she got in the car. She picked up the dragging edge of the long trench coat she was wearing and I closed the door, watching her disappear in the early morning mist and smog.
And the City stood surrounding us, neither smiling nor frowning, withholding comment and judgment.

Are You Game?

*re-blogging a comment*

The following is a comment received on  ~burning woman~  from Hyperion (Daniel) https://returnofdragons.wordpress.com/ as a reply to my post, “We Improve but we do not Progress” https://ixiocali.com/2020/03/15/we-improve-but-we-do-not-progress/

This isn’t saying that I agree with the basic premise here, but I’m saying it’s well worth considering. Is this our “Third Option” if we are to avoid a man-made “6th extinction? When I speak of “Third Option” I’m referring to the Abrahamic/Christian covenant (an apocalypse, then a new heaven and a new earth) as option #1 or inevitable scientific/technological progress as option #2. Option #3 is the individual self empowerment of all Earthians irremediably changing the nature of the species.  If option #1 is increasingly rejected and option #2 is encountering growing distrust, how do we achieve option #3? This WordPress blogger/contributor/writer dares put some thoughts down.

 Are You Game?
(from Hyperion)

I too am a student of history but I don’t subscribe to the thought we shouldn’t repeat history. We definitely should repeat history because the entire universe to include earth is based on cyclic events. For instance, the seasons of every year since the dawn of humans has repeated as well as night and day. The cyclic nature of humans also means that as we go forward in time we recycle our past. I will admit that these cycles don’t remain stationary but more like a wheel going down the road. Every time a specific spot on the wheel touches the road it is further down the path and a certain amount of time has transpired but it is the same wheel and it will stay in its original purpose until it is worn out and replaced by a new wheel.

What rarely changes is human nature and so, that human nature passed on to every generation will follow it’s nature tho the world has changed, the environment has changed, but human nature remains the same, we simply adapt to our living conditions whether that be environmental or technological or both.

We will go to war with new weapons and the same tactics used for 1000 years. It’s just my belief that progress and improvement of the species has not occurred because our nature has not changed.

I would argue we are so biologically polluted we are devolving instead of evolving. Go there to those helix coils and break the chains of no longer needed human traits of emotion, survival, companionship, and breeding. Break the need for self actualization and search for meaning in a meaningless existence. Burn out the desire for adventure, discovery, and growth of personal wealth by any means. It’s all possible. It could be done today. We have the means to turn ourselves into passive sheep where we can walk past hubris and suffering unaffected. We will feel no need to bind together. Life and death will occur without meaning or consequence. Our numbers will shrink until humans are a rarity on the planet and the earth can slowly heal itself of the horrendous scars and memory of our footprint on the planet. We can do this today or starting tomorrow at 8:00am at hundreds of labs across the world. We don’t now because that solution frightens even the most courageous heart. (That reminds me of Brave New World – comment by Sha’Tara.)

Without that courage to take control we are doomed in every imaginable way and in some ways unimaginable. If we look to the distant past at those species on the planet that five times were wiped out and what preceded (followed?) next, can we reasonably believe that a mass extinction, which is currently in full swing as I write this, isn’t going to affect the human population? Extinctions are historical cycles. Why do we think they won’t repeat even as the evidence shows it is happening now?

 The first thing that must change is how the human mind can not grasp reality that is pure and unadulterated. Our minds are drugs that make up the most far fetched realities and that Is what we believe is true and real. That is why we are doomed. That is why our only hope is to go to those helix coils and change them. We know how. If we do that we will change history and the next cycles will be far different. Are you game?

Our World is Essentially a Violent Place (or if you wish, How did I discover myself here from there?)

[scattered remembrances from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

This may come across as a strange piece of admission but…???

When we are young we live as if we were immortal. That is a truism except that for some of us, we do not want that immortality which translates as eternity. It demands responsibility we have no idea how to deal with.

Some of us are born watchers, observers of our world, perhaps because at birth we partially broke out of the programming, or because it didn’t take. So what do we see, or to be more personal (and honest) what did I see?

I saw that the weak and the meek get the raw deal. Though I sometimes saw the other side of the coin what hit home was its dark side: the fear, the hate, the distrust, the anger – the IN-JUST-ICE!

I cringed when the parents fought each other and there was no place to hide except under useless blankets if I couldn’t get dressed quickly enough to run for the barn and hide among the cows, not for protection but for their warmth and so as not to have to listen and feel the “terror” taking place in the house, a terror that could quickly turn against me as the convenient scapegoat.

Then I got older and saw that the family squabbles resembled the world squabbles only these were on a much greater scale. I was learning responsibility too at the same time. More choices.

Mine, I judged, was a harsh world with little leeway in terms of forgiveness. You made a mistake, you paid a price, often way beyond the weight of the mistake. The same was true of nations and races; of the poor and for the powerless gender, all claims and propaganda to the contrary.

I so desired to do away with myself but what to do? I had a life and my religion stated unequivocally that if I took that life I was damned to exist in a burning hell for eternity: again, no escape, not even the warm flank of a milk cow there. I would stare at a pitch fork and try to imagine what it would feel like to be endlessly prodded by that as a punishment for something I had done out of despair millions of years ago. I would also know that despair was another mortal sin that was added to my punishment, of course.

So no escape, just choices. I saw and felt pain, my earliest recollection. Then I saw jealousy and senseless expectations. I saw injustice and how it nurtured fear, doubt, distrust, hate, anger and brutality. Where in that did I fit in? Nowhere, but since there was nowhere to hide from all of it, and as my knowledge expanded exponentially, I sensed a growing awareness of the essential brutality of the world and I was forced to make hard choices.

I saw two: I could choose to accept and suffer the arrows of injustice upon myself and for the most helpless of the world (I did not know that was known as being empathetic) or I could fight back. Fighting back meant using violence, no matter what word is used to hide that fact and using violence meant losing my heart. It wasn’t what I wanted but it seemed to be the only logical choice.

At the beginning of this journey and still much in the dark as to who I was and what I would choose to become, I chose anger as my companion and then violence just seemed to make sense. It took several years before I realized that my reliance on anger was eating me up and then came more guilt: was I committing suicide? I wanted to leave this world desperately but was I willing to risk the potential consequences? I had already sacrificed my heart to one choice, would I lose myself for eternity?

The frightened child had grown into an adult. I had learned to bluster my way into the adult world even if I felt I were an alien or something altogether weird. I hid my real thoughts and feelings and expressed only those I thought would make me seem normal and acceptable. I used ideas and words from books, magazines, the radio, songs, sermons, political speeches, and that seemed to satisfy people even though it polarized them. For a time I was a complete stranger to myself but at least I had some mental peace, a pretense of belonging and discovered I had accessed some power.

I might continue this and explain how I came to the edge of my own personal black hole and found myself inexplicably pulled out of it.