Whisper Episode Seven


Episode Seven

Tony Barrows lived in a basement bachelor apartment on Spence Street. This area of Winnipeg is well known for its poverty and high level of crime. Tony fit very comfortably into his present living situation.

This young man was heavy, but his excess weight was more than compensated for by the significant amount of muscle mass in his upper body. Tony had wide, powerful shoulders, strong pecs and bulging biceps. He liked to show off his upper body mass by wearing and assortment tank tops and skin -tight T-shirts. For his daily attire, Tony favored the color black as it emphasized his upper body mass and deemphasized his slight beer belly.

Tony was very proud of his impressive upper body strength, but he had come by it honestly. He didn’t have a great deal of self-discipline, but what little he had he applied to his physical training regimen.

Tony did not like doing housework or cleaning. There were more important things on which he wanted to focus his time. As Tony lived in a basement apartment, noisy heating and plumbing pipes hung from the ceiling. Although the ceiling pipes made his apartment appear even more dumpy than it already was, this cosmetic defect did not really bother Tony.

Tony was twenty-five years old, but he didn’t really have goals or ambitions that

society would hold in high regard. The last few years Tony lived in the present, one day at a time. This expression would have made Tony laugh as ‘one day at a time’ was a slogan used by most twelve step groups based on the original program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Tony walked over to a small kitchen. The walls were covered by faded strips of a sickly shade of light green paint.

Making himself a smoothie was the way Tony liked to start his mornings. He, of course, had to begin his routine with a large cup of strong Tim Hortons and a few hits from his vaping pen. Tony had sold some weed to one of his friends in exchange for a high -quality nicotine vaporizer. As far as Tony was concerned he had succeeded in quitting smoking tobacco, although he still loved his cannabis.

Tony really didn’t care that much about following strict healthy lifestyle. He wasn’t one of those guys who wanted to live to age eighty. Forty years of age would satisfy Tony if he could enjoy all the forbidden pleasures of life. He only stopped smoking when he concluded that heavy smoking was contributing to his long and frequent bouts of bronchitis. When Tony suffered from a serious upper respiratory infection, he usually had to put his weight training regimen on hold for two to three weeks.

Tony had watched part of a documentary on the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes and vaping. One day his friend Ron showed Tony the new vape pen and he bought at The Toke, a store that sells both tobacco and vaping supplies. Rod had a sepia colored vaping pen that produced a huge cloud of vapour. When his friend demonstrated how his new nicotine delivery system worked, Tony was immediately impressed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1111

Excerpt 128 from The Lake Demon by Ken David Stewart


Chapter One Hundred Twenty–Eight:
As Jack boarded The Viper, Blake brought Jack a rum and coke. He pointed to the large water soaked replica of Ogopogo trapped in the net. “I see that you snagged the big prize,” Jack said with a wide grin on his face.
“Yeah, it’s a beauty of a model,” Blake replied with a laugh. “I would sure like to meet the guy who put together that masterpiece.”
“That could be a problem,” Jack said.
“How so? Do you know the artist?”
“His name was Mike O’Grady,” Jack said.
“That name sounds very familiar. I think I knew a kid in school who went by that name,” Blake said.
Jack burst out laughing.
“Oh, come on. It can’t be the same guy,” Blake said.
“Do you remember who won first prize at the science fair in grade eleven?” Jack asked.
“Now I see the connection. Mike was the kid who built that small model of Ogopogo. It was a beauty. I remember that Mike spent weeks working on that model. So you’re telling me that Mike O’Grady designed and built the life sized model on the deck of my ship? Why would he build a full size replica and what was it doing on the lake?”
“I arranged the whole thing,” Jack said. “I paid Mike O’Grady to design and build the life sized model.”
“Why?”
“I was going to use the model to get back at you,” Jack said.
“What have you got against me?” asked Blake.
“Are you that obtuse, Blake? You mean to say that you don’t remember what you did to me?”
“No. I don’t remember what I did to you.”
“You quit our business partnership and took up with some sleazy married woman,” Jack answered angrily.
“She, somehow, talked you into leaving our business to become partners with her in her start-up enterprise. The worst part was that you left me entirely out of the loop concerning your new plans. I only found out about what you had done through one of our former business associates.”
“I can appreciate what you’re saying, Jack, but you are missing something here. In our previous business venture you and I were on the same page for a long time. Then, as time went by, our business ideas were starting to diverge to the point that we couldn’t agree on lunch. I didn’t see any rational reason why you and I should remain business partners. That’s why I jumped ship. I admit that I should have let you know of my change of plans in advance.”
“So why can’t I talk to Mike O’Grady?” Blake asked, changing the subject.
“Because he’s dead,” Jack answered.
“How did he die?” Blake asked.
“He had most of his right arm torn off by a junior size Ogopogo. Poor Mike died on the operating room table. I don’t think that Mike was in good enough shape to survive the surgery,” Jack answered.
“Are we talking about a real Ogopogo now?”
“Yes, it was a real Ogopogo, all right. The only thing was that this one was likely not a full grown member of the species. The little one decided that it would check out the full scale replica that we threw in the lake. Mike was taking pictures when he got too close to the railing of the boat. The creature grabbed his right arm and tore it right off. Mike was bleeding profusely all over the ship’s deck,” Jack said.
“Were you able to save the pictures that Mike took?”
“Yes, the pictures were very clear and sharp. I had them analyzed by a mutual friend of ours, Cam McDougall.”
“Wasn’t he the guy who had his own photography business?”
“Yes, that’s him.”
“Were you able to capture the small Ogopogo?”
“No, we had to rush Mike to the hospital,” Jack replied.
“Look Jack. I admit it. I did screw you around on our last business enterprise. I should have taken the time to try to work out our differences before I joined another company. And I should have told you about it. I’m sincerely sorry. It was just that Debra Lang had my head all screwed around. I allowed lust to over- take my rational mind,” Blake said.
“It didn’t take long for my relationship with Debra to blow up in my face. It took me awhile to realize that she was just using me both personally and professionally. The last straw was when I found out that she was still seeing her husband, Roman and was trying to reconcile with him. After I confronted her, our whole relationship, both personal and business, collapsed,”
Blake was trying hard to come up with a good story that would appease Jack’s wounded ego. Blake had even thought of a way to make it up to him.fantasy 5

Excerpt 127 from The Lake Demon by Ken David Stewart


images 15Chapter One Hundred Twenty-Seven:
Jack’s crew definitely had trepidations about his plan to capture a live Ogopogo, but Jack didn’t give his crew time for any more questions. The boat was headed for Squally Point.
As they got closer to Squally Point and Rattlesnake Island Jack’s crew spotted a very large cabin cruiser in the distance. As soon as Jack Kimberley was alerted he picked up a pair of binoculars and had a look for himself. He could see two things. One was the large lettering on the boat that spelled out the name Viper. Jack recalled that when he and Blake Riley were still business partners, Blake would take Jack for cruises on his largest cabin cruiser called The Viper.
The second thing Jack saw was members of Blake’s crew attempting to get the replica off The Viper and into the lake. Blake’s crew were unable to do this as the men felt a severe blow to the boat that caused them to lose their balance. After that last hard bump, Ogopogo seemed to lose his interest in The Viper and left Blake’s vessel alone. Jack ordered his ship’s captain to speed up the vessel and head in the direction of the Viper. It occurred to Jack that he now had another chance to make a fool out of Blake Riley. All he needed was a few close up photos of Blake examining the replica and discovering that it was a fake Ogopogo.
As Jack’s boat approached the Viper, Blake picked up a set of binoculars. When he got the lens properly focused and scanned the deck of the boat he could see that Jack Kimberley was aboard the vessel. He remembered that Jack’s largest boat was named The Dream Catcher. Blake could read the lettering on the side of the ship.
Jack had reciprocated by taking Blake on a few cruises on his boat back in the good old days. Blake ordered his ship’s captain, Peter Marks, to slowly move The Viper closer to The Dream Catcher.
As the two boats met at the closest distance that they safely could, Blake called out to Jack, “Fancy meeting you out here my old friend.”
“I’m not that old and I’m not your friend. It seems that a new woman in your life and a business screw-job ended that,” Jack said bitterly.
“While we’re both out here on the lake, why don’t you come aboard for a drink and we’ll talk this out, just like the good old days,” Blake said.
“I just might do that. I have some questions to ask you and I could use a good stiff drink about now,” Jack said.

Infinite Realities Excerpt Eighteen by Ken David Stewart


Episode Eighteen of Infinite Realities:

David texted back:

No Darren. I don’t feel like being Damien Echols today. I’ll tell you what I’ll do with the tablet today. I’m going to activate the time travel app again. I want to go back to the summer of 1965.

Darren texted back:

Go for it. As long as you have the tablet in your possession you can use it in any way you desire.

“There are some things I want to know about the tablet,” David texted.

David could now hear Darren’s voice coming from the tablet. I’m getting tired of texting back and forth. From now on let’s communicate through the Skype app on our tablets.

As David found the app on his tablet he could now see an image of Darren on the touchscreen.

“Hey Rick. Now you get to see what I look like. That’s not entirely true. The corporation has created a virtual image taken from hundreds of other people’s picture. So. In a way, you are seeing a collage, not the real me. Technology is amazing, isn’t it? What would you like to know about the tablet?”

“How long do I get to keep it?”

“As long as you want it. However if it leaves your possession for any reason you will not be issued a new one.”

“How could it leave my possession?’

“In various ways, someone might steal it from you. You might misplace it. It might accidently or intentionally get broken. And, of course, the corporation reserves the right to take it away from you if it decides that you are violating any of the terms and conditions of the contract.”

“What terms and conditions?”

“The User’s Agreement that came into effect the second that you picked up the tablet. This is a default feature of the product.”

“Hold on Darren. I didn’t know about any Users Agreement or any terms and conditions.”

“Come on, Rick. You know that no one actually reads those things. They are in small print and take too long to read. People just scroll through them and check off the box that says ‘I agree’. Don’t worry. The corporation’s legal department has gone over the contract with a fine tooth comb.”

“I have another question for you Darren. The Time Travel app allows me to visit different times in history. While I am using this app can I actually change the outcome of significant historical events?”

“Only in the virtual sense. In reality nothing will change. The corporation is not God. It can only create experiences limited only by the user’s imagination. You were chosen as one of the five select people to receive a tablet because we know that you possess a creative mind well beyond most of your peers. It’s evident in your writing.”

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The Cover Up Novel by Ken David Stewart Part 34


When Drake went to see his doctor he did not get a clear bill of health. His doctor told Drake that he had a form of mononucleosis that could lie dormant for awhile but cause later flare ups. He could not guarantee Drake that he would ever get his premorbid energy level back. The doctor suggested that Drake seriously consider a less challenging occupation that would not excessively tax his energy level.
“What am I going to do?” asked Drake. “I have been a teacher for most of my adult life and I have a family to support.”
“I know that this is not what you wanted to hear Drake, but I’m obligated to give you my best professional assessment and recommendation. I’ll tell you what I can do for you. I know an industrial psychologist that counsels people in your situation all the time. This guy is good and I know he gets results. I have already referred a few of my patients to him. You will likely be able to keep your health insurance for a few months yet so seeing the psychologist shouldn’t cost you anything.”
Drake knew that he could trust his doctor and that he would only refer him to another professional who is very competent in their field of expertise. When Drake returned home he reported the details of his doctor’s appointment with his wife, Judy. Drake was very emotional and started to weep when he told Judy that he shouldn’t return to full time teaching. He also told her about the referral to the industrial psychologist.
“ I know it doesn’t feel that way but I think that this will work out for the best, Drake. You’ve been working much too hard and you no longer have the stamina that you had before you got sick with mono. Your principal and your doctor both care about you and want what’s best for you, and so do I. To tell you the truth I was very concerned about your return to teaching but I didn’t want to discourage you. I think that you should definitely make an appointment with the psychologist that your doctor recommended. You are a very talented man, Drake, and I’m sure that the psychologist will show you many other career options that you can pursue,” said Judy.
“I’m sure blessed to have you for a wife, Judy. Most wives in your position would tell their husbands just to tough it out and go back to teaching,” said Drake as he moved towards Judy to give her a hug.

The Cover Up Part Nineteen


So what’s up Streak?” asked Bill as he moved towards the kitchenette in his suite.

I got a good one for you now, Billie. A kid died at The House of Hope a couple of days ago,” said the Streak.

Bill let out a sigh. “Not again. How many more people have to die at that facility until the administration wakes up? Most of the recent deaths have been preventable. Did you say that it was a young kid this time?”

Yeah, early twenties. Educated too,   from what I’ve been told,” Streak answered.

Have they determined the cause of death yet?”

I don’t think so. I was listening in on an interview a detective was having with one of the staff. There appears to be multiple probable causes,” answered the Streak.

Thanks for the heads up Streak. I owe you a free dinner and a pack of cigarettes,” said Bill now feeling fully awake.

After he hung up the phone Bill sat down on his old, over used sofa and properly lit up a pipe full of Borkum Riff. He needed to think this one through. After his experiences working in factories and trying to educate the workers, Bill’s political strategy had taken another direction. He now felt that he could make more of a statement as a community organizer and advocate. There were some paid positions available in this line of work but Bill wasn’t interested in applying for any of them. Not that the government or a charitable organization would offer him a paid position anyway. Bill was too well known as a radical in these circles.

If by some freak of nature Bill were ever to be hired as an official community advocate his life would be a lot different. He would be making a decent salary and wouldn’t have to worry about making every penny count. He could live in a safer part of town and afford a few modest luxuries.

But Bill could never tow the line. He’d met enough people in these paid positions to know that many of them were just lame duck bureaucrats. They had to answer to their bossses in order to keep their jobs. There were politicians that their bosses had to keep happy and the powers to be did not want anyone meddling with the present system.

The status quo worked just fine for the bureaucrats that were higher up the food chain. At the higher administrative levels the salaries were inordinately generous. The people in these positions knew darn well that they probably couldn’t make half this money if they were working in the private employment sector. Most of these upper level bureaucrats actually enjoyed their jobs. Their offices were clean, they had status and could take long coffee and lunch breaks. They would sometimes get to hob knob with the incumbent local politicians. Sure they often had to sit through some long, boring, unproductive meetings. There was tons of superfluous paper work to do and sometimes they had to hear  about unhappy, over worked front line workers from different charitable organizations via their union representatives.But, all in all, life was good.

Alligators in the Sewers Episode Seven


Episode Seven
Sam had been burning the candle at both ends. His ambition to write novels was almost equal to his desire to become a great lead guitarist. To date, he had self published two science fiction novels. He used the Amazon platform to sell his books and was enjoying moderately good sales. Unfortunately, he required other sources of revenue to pay his bills. He got a part-time job teaching creative writing one night a week at a local community college. The rest of his income came from his cut from his band’s performances at various bars in Manhattan. With these three streams of income, Sam could usually just squeak by paying his monthly bills each month.
Sam Bradley lived in a small bachelor’s apartment in East Manhattan. He had been fortunate to find an apartment complex that had rent control. Even with this advantage, Sam was often hard-pressed to stay afloat financially and because of this, he was almost constantly stressed out.
Sam worked hard at all his endeavours. He was not a naturally gifted musician, so he practised his guitar playing daily for at least two hours. He applied an equal amount of dedication to his writing and did an admirable amount of preparation for his creative writing classes.
To add to his issues with stress and anxiety, Sam was becoming chronically fatigued. One night during one of the Raccoons’ breaks, Sam told his bass player Glenn Williams about his exhaustion. Glenn was very willing to help as they were also close friends. Glenn offered Sam a couple of little white pills. Sam asked what they were and Glenn informed him that they were Dexedrine tablets.
Glenn Williams also had to work hard as he had to pay his ex-wife a hefty amount of alimony and child support. He had to hold down a full-time job is IT technician. The small amount of money he made as the bass player for the Raccoons allowed him a little bit of spending money for himself.
Two months ago, Glenn went to see his family doctor and complained about excessive daytime sleepiness. His doctor recommended that Glenn try taking Dexedrine to see if that would help boost his energy levels. It worked like a charm and within a couple of days Glenn was totally dependent on stimulants to get them through his long days.
The Rocky Raccoons basically played classic rock and as they worked hard as a unit over the last few years, they had become very good. The Raccoons were famous in the bars of East Manhattan. They knew their audiences well and what they wanted to hear.
What was popular varied somewhat depending upon which bar they were working, but they had built up a standard set of universal favourites. The Rocky Raccoons found they could never go wrong with songs like You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC and Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne. Other sure crowd pleasers included songs such as American Woman by the Guess Who and Taking Care of Business by Bachman Turner Overdrive. They learned these two songs from their rhythm guitar player, Kevin Watts who was a transplanted Canadian born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Sam and Keith would sit down and write some original material whenever they got the chance and some times the band performed a couple of the original compositions during their performances.
The Rocky Raccoons were so popular that they had a group of fans who actually followed the band from bar to bar across East Manhattan. The Raccoons’ followers where nowhere near the size of the Grateful Dead’s famous Deadheads, but for a local band they had an impressive number of followers, both male and female. A couple of their female fans were groupies. The Raccoons’ groupies besides providing the band with the obvious favours and benefits were valuable for another reason. Two of their groupies also serviced the world famous bands when they played concerts in New York.
Alicia and Trixie would always put in a plug for the Rocky Raccoons when they talked to the famous musicians and bands. They would also speak with the band’s managers and promoters and encourage them to book the Raccoons as an opening act on the bands’ concert tours.
Occasionally, a well-known manager or promoter would drop by a local New York bar to see if the Rocky Raccoons were as good as Alicia and Trixie them out to be.

music musician musical instrument guitar
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Alligators in the Sewers Episode Six


Episode Six
Joel Jenkins was not having a very good day. The morning started off badly when Joel first opened his eyes. The first thing that he saw was that his alarm clock radio read 7:50 AM. Joel was supposed to start his new job at 7:00 AM. Being late on his first day on the job was not going to make a good impression on Joel’s new employer. Joel was very fortunate to have been hired for this job. Ian, his sponsor in NA got him the job at Sam’s Salvage Services. Sam Bradley was also being sponsored by Ian. This was not an opportunity the Joel didn’t wanted to lose.
Joel was given the alarm clock by Ian as a gift when his sponsor informed him that he was able to get him the job at Sam’s Salvage Services. Joel thought that he had set the alarm clock correctly the night before. Obviously, he had not. The alarm clock was a newer, state-of-the-art timekeeper that included all the latest bells and whistles. He could even set it to wake him up to the sound of his favourite CD. The problem was that Joel had a difficult time with modern technology, mostly because he didn’t own any modern technology. At present, Joel didn’t even own a PC, a laptop, a cell phone or even a tablet. For the last three years Joel had spent all his money on drugs. He’d been clean for almost six months but couldn’t apply for work until he had completed both his detox and rehabilitation programs. He was fired from his last job when his substance abuse severely affected his job performance and on numerous occasions his ability to show up for work at all.
Joel had to come up with a damage control plan fast. Ian had given Joel, Sam’s cell phone number. Joel called Sam right away to let him know what was up. He let Sam know that he was late and was calling a taxi to take him to work. Sam told Joel that he was presently driving a truck in downtown Manhattan and due to the heavy traffic would probably be stuck in that location for likely up to half an hour. Sam told Joel to have the cab drop him off near the First National Bank.
Sam Bradley was a bit of an entrepreneur. He got into the salvage business after his brother-in-law agreed to let him have his old Ford pickup truck if Sam agreed to pay him $200 as soon as he made some money in his new enterprise.
Sam had a very checkered job history with a backlog of bad references from his past employers. This being the case, Sam felt he had to become a self-employed entrepreneur out of necessity.
Sam had a very check your job history with a backlog of bad references from past employers. This being the case, Sam felt he had no choice but to become self-employed entrepreneur
Sam Bradley was a very creative man. He was an artist a broad range of interests. He loved the arts and had taken a stab at most forms of artistic expression including outdoor photography, sculpture and pottery. He found out that he was not particularly talented in all of his artistic pursuits, but Sam had the attitude the one didn’t know if they had an aptitude for something unless they had given it an honest concerted effort.
Through his efforts Sam discovered that he was more than skillful in the areas of writing and music. He became skilled enough on guitar to play in a local band called Rocky Raccoon. That’s where his problem with addictions began.

acoustic acoustic guitar antique art
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Alligators in the Sewers Episode Five


Episode Five
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Mark Kennedy woke up to the sound of his parents having an animated conversation about Donald Trump. Mark’s father, Michael Kennedy was a die- hard supporter of the controversial Republican candidate. He was an obese, but physically strong construction worker. He had been the shop steward for his union local for a long time, but over the past two years he had become disheartened with the lack of power of his local union to improve the wages and working conditions of his fellow construction workers. At the last local union meeting that he attended, the workers national representative was pushing hard to encourage the union’s local membership to vote for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in the upcoming presidential election. Not all workers, including Mark Kennedy were impressed. Several members had taken notice of the recent campaign speeches by Donald Trump and many were beginning to think of him as the politician most likely to aid their cause.
His wife, Laura Kennedy was a strong woman. Some may even have described her as being a fierce woman. Laura hated Donald Trump’s guts and her perception of how the Republican presidential candidate mistreated women. As Mark was in the process of greeting the morning, he overheard the heated political discussion going on between his parents.
Mark could care less about politics, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. He needed to call his friends right after breakfast as Mark wanted to invite his buddies out for a game of touch football. Mark was a big fan of the Oakland Raiders and his favorite player was the Raiders quarterback, Derek Carr. Mark usually played quarterback during Saturday’s traditional touch football game. When he was making a long pass mark Mark would imagine that he was the real Derek Carr in the process of leading his team to a fourth-quarter comeback.
Mark joined his family for a bowl of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios.
“So, what are you going to do today?” his father asked.
“After breakfast I’m going to call up some of my friends to organize a touch football game,” Mark answered.
“Are you going to play quarterback again this week?” Michael Kennedy asked.
“That’s my plan,” Mark replied.
“Can you throw passes like Brett Favre?” his father asked.
“No. Brett Favre is retired. I want to play like Derek Carr,” Mark answered.
“That’s okay. That Raider kid is pretty good. I’ve got admit,” Mark’s dad responded.
After he helped his mother do the dishes Mark went to his room and started making the necessary phone calls.
After his father gave Mark a ride to the local school grounds that included a football field complete with two sets of both goal posts at each end zone. After he got out of the car Mark saw to his two best friends, Curly and Red throwing a football around.
Both Curly and Red came by their nicknames honestly. Curly was obese but his long thick brown curly hair was his most prominent feature. Red was a tall, skinny kid who suffered from a serious case of acne. He was glad that his nickname, Red, was a description of his mullet styled. shoulder length, fiery red hair. Red’s family ancestry was Irish. When he got old enough to grow a beard it was almost certainly going to be a flaming red color as well.
Within the next ten minutes, nine other boys arrived. These kids were all grade six students at Birchwood Elementary. Once the members of the two teams were selected, Mark’s team won the coin toss and elected to be the receiving team for the first half of the game. Mark was unanimously chosen to be the starting quarterback for his squad.
The first play that Mark called in the huddle was a down and out pass pattern to the right. Red was lined up as a tight end on the right side of the line of scrimmage.
It had rained heavily the night before and the field was still damp and slippery. As Mark backpedalled and tried to get himself into a comfortable throwing stance, he slipped on the grass just as he let go of the football while attempting to pass to his intended receiver, Red.
The football floated high over Red’s head and landed somewhere in a bushy area to the right of the football field. Red volunteered to search for the football in the brush. He was starting to get all scratched up from the thorn bushes that were prevalent in the bushy outskirts on the right side of the football field. A few feet away Red could see the overthrown football. It was neatly enmeshed in the grasp of a thick bush.
As Red took a few steps in the direction of the object of the search, he also spotted what appeared to be part of an animal’s leg protruding from the thicket. The part of the leg that was visible was pearly white in color, approximately a foot-long and looked bumpy and scaly. This sight of this frightening apparition almost instantly froze the blood in Red’s veins. He was unable to move even though he desperately wanted to run away as far as possible from the object that was causing him this terror was burning inside him.
After a few minutes, he heard Mark calling for him.
“Red, are you okay in there? Did you find the football?”
There wasn’t any response to Mark’s questions. Curly came up behind Mark.
“Ah, Red’s probably just taking a leak in the bushes,” Curly said.
“No. I don’t think so,” Mark responded. “Red’s been in there too long and it’s getting me worried. I’m going in. Are you coming with me, Curly?”
“Why not? Red’s probably just hasn’t found the football yet,” he answered.
A few other boys overheard Curly and Mark talking and offered their assistance to find out what was going on with Red. As soon as the boys pushed through the thorn bushes, they were stopped in their tracks. They couldn’t believe that they were seeing. They saw Red crying as he fell to his knees. He yelled out, “Help!”

close up of alligator head
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Heaven and Hell Whisper Episode 11


Episode Eleven:
Harold slid back in his Lazy Boy chair. He let out a big sigh.
“You sure like to ask the heavy duty questions don’t you? “The simple answer is ‘yes’. I have believed in God since I was a little child. My family didn’t go to church, but our public school teachers would read to us every morning from a book of Bible stories for children. The book contained modified, paraphrased accounts of famous Bible stories such as Noah and the ark and David and Goliath.
“As little children we lived near the Red River and hung out at the river bank. On a Friday or Saturday night we would often have a wiener roast and discuss the Bible stories that are teachers had read us during the past week. A recurring topic was the future of our own our eternal destinies. The kids in our little gang who gave their parents and teachers a lot of trouble surmised that their eternal fate was almost certainly to be tortured endlessly in hell. You also need to remember that in those days there was only one depiction of the abode of eternal damnation.”
“What was that representation?” Whisper asked.
“The fiery furnace. Your body would burn forever in a state of eternal torment. This, of course, had the predictable effect upon a child’s mind and emotions,” Harold answered.
“That sounds horrible, Harold. Were you given an alternative?” Whisper asked.
“Yes. If you were a model citizen and did everything your parents and teachers told you to do and didn’t say any bad swears, you’d likely end up in heaven with Jesus after you died,” Harold answered while looking longingly at the cannabis pipe sitting comfortably in the ceramic ashtray.
“When you were little boy did you believe this?” Whisper asked.
“Absolutely. Nobody told us anything different. Even if our parents didn’t attend church, they found this teaching to be an effective tool when it came to keeping your kids in line.”
“Now that you’re an adult you still don’t believe the same thing, do you, Harold?” Whisper asked as she reached over to pass the pipe to Harold.
“I still believe in God, but I absolutely think that I was taught the wrong message about God’s character,” Harold answered while gratefully taking the pipe from Whisper.
“So that means you’re still a believer? Whisper asked.
“With all my heart,” Harold responded, “Despite what some of my Christian brothers and sisters may think about my present spiritual condition.”
“Why in the world would your Christian friends doubt your sincerity?” Whisper asked.
Harold hesitated for a few seconds while he picked up Whisper’s marijuana lighter, lit up the bowl of cannabis and took three deep puffs off the swirly ceramic pipe.
Episode Twelve:

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Coach Keenan Loses It


Episode 48
Coach Brad Keenan got to the St. Vital Arena about ten minutes after Hadley arrived. He, too, needed to deliver a powerful, inspirational speech to his team. Two of his top players, injured goalie, Rick Miller and suspended defenseman, Eric Coswell would not be playing tonight. The Maplewood Cougars were not only going to miss the incredible skill set of his two top players, but also their maturity and leadership abilities. He knew that his team would not be approaching tonight’s game with a strong sense of confidence. They had all seen how their backup goalie, Miles Myers had performed in yesterday morning’s practice. They watched dejectedly as Miles let in one soft goal after another.
Brad recalled how he became so exasperated that he did something that he very rarely did. He called out one of his players publicly. Brad remembered his exact words as he verbally stripped down his young, relatively inexperienced, second string goaltender.
“Do you have any idea how much is riding on tomorrow night’s game? We desperately need a win. I know you’re not Rick Miller, but the team is counting on you to step up to the plate and make everyone forget that we don’t have the services of Rick Miller tomorrow.”
As soon as the team finished practice and arrived back at the dressing room, Brad asked Miles if he could have a word with him in the coach’s office.
“I’m sorry I yelled at you, Miles. It’s not your fault that Rick Miller won’t be able to play tomorrow. To tell you the truth, I’ve been under a ton of stress lately and this morning I let it get the best of me. I just ask that you give the team your best effort tomorrow night.”
“Thanks Coach. I know I played shitty this morning. I’ve been under a lot of stress myself. Besides knowing that I need to replace Ricky, my dad has really been on my case. You see, I bought a used car that I fell in love with yesterday. My dad was not impressed that I used up a good chunk of my college tuition savings to pay for the car. Don’t worry coach. I’m going to play my best game ever tomorrow.”

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A Spiritual Crisis


Episode 47
Norberry Knights coach, Jeff Hadley, arrived at the St.Vital Arena about ninety minutes before the start of the rematch between his team and the Maplewood Cougars. Jeff was a tall, thin man in his mid-twenties. This was his third season as head coach of the Norberry Knights juvenile hockey team. Coach Hadley was nervously pacing the rubber matted floor of the St. Vital Arena’s visitors’ dressing room. The room reeked from the stale sweat that the midget hockey team that had occupied the dressing room fifteen minutes previously left behind.
Jeff would stop pacing periodically, sit down on the players bench and would jot down some notes for the message that he wanted to deliver to his team before they started to arrive in the dressing room. Coach Hadley felt a tinge of guilt as he remembered that it was his idea to ask Glenn Davidson to viciously attack Maplewood’s star goalie, Rick Miller.
Jeff attended his local Baptist church occasionally. but he struggled a great deal with his relationship to God. Hadley was a true believer in Jesus Christ and the Bible, but Jeff would be the first to admit that his walk with the Lord left a lot to be desired in certain areas of his life. Jeff’s wife, Hillary, was very disturbed by her husband’s frequent spiritual lapses, but she had no idea of how inwardly tortured the love of her life really was.
Nobody had to tell Jeff Hadley that he lived a lifestyle of which his pastor and his wife’s friends did not approve. When his wife was not around, Jeff would often drop F bombs and assorted other profanities. He would often think to himself:
“Most of the Christians I know are a bunch of gossipy, backstabbing hypocrites. They should take their own moral inventories as it says in step five of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Why are they so concerned about my spiritual condition? I don’t judge their lifestyles. What gives them the right to judge me?
Hell, I live in a tough world. My critics think that it’s easy to have to convince husbands and fathers to buy enough life insurance to provide for their families. Do these people think it’s easy to produce a winning hockey team every year? Man, if those people only knew how much stress I carry around inside, day in and day out, I hope they would have the common decency to ease up on me. So what if I induce some might players to resort to using dirty tactics to win important hockey games? It’s a hard, competitive world we live in. I just try to prepare my players for real life.”

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