Car 6

Car 6

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Face Of Broken Innocence

Her face haunts me. I cannot get her angelic image out of my head. It is the face of a baby, less than a year old. It is the face in a carrier with a little knit hat on her head and bundled tightly to protect her from the fall air. Her eyes looked into mine and pierced me. I locked my eyes into hers knowing I would never see her again. I wanted to avert my gaze, but I knew if I did, I would hate myself more than I hate the world right now.

The elderly gentleman who carefully placed her carrier on a wheelchair gently escorted her and her tear stained faced mother inside a hospital campus where I hope that good care for both awaits. I did not return to the taxi until they were both out of my sight.

I got into the taxi, numb and lifeless and lit a cigarette.

Anyone else would have seen just another cute baby. Perfectly normal and lovely in every fashion. Those people did not learn what I leaned when this ride started.

Those people would not know that hours ago she was being treated for vaginal bleeding and severe tears. The assailant was her own father. A father that the mother did not want a judge to allow visitation. The mother knew the man was a monster. It did not matter. A judge let the plea of a mother fall on the deaf ears of justice.

I thought I had seen and heard it all. I thought there was no more that could phase me. No. There was. It was a woman who while we were on our way to the destination told me her baby had just been molested. Then, in detail, told me the severity.

My mind flooded to my own daughter when she was a baby. So innocent. So vulnerable. So beautiful. Completely trusting on all of us. Have you ever known a baby's smile? The smile of a baby does not know how to lie. The smile of a baby does not have any disguise or pretense. It is pure. It is happy to see you. There is also the cry of a baby. Not the cry that wants formula or just wishes to be held. The rare cry of terror that comes form a baby. It stops you dead in your tracks.

Someone heard that cry of terror and kept on going. Someone heard that cry of terror and did not yield from causing it. Someone violated the trust of a being with no defenses, no survival skills and only trust.

There are no words to offer comfort to a loving mother. Every break in her voice into tears gave me pause. I offered on the back of my card the few resources I know in the hopes that they will be able to help her seek comfort, aid and maybe even justice and healing. But there was no clever word play. There was no difference I could make. There was nothing but pain and the awesome presence of the unthinkable having happened.

Every so often the baby would make the noises babies make. It is a sound that makes me smile in most cases. But this time there was a wince that went down to my very soul. A helplessness. A helplessness compounded by the tears of a mother.

We were on our way to a facility that was equipped to handle this kind of matter. The hospital was not. We live in a world where there are places equipped for this matter? We have to live in a world where this is a specialty? What.the.fuck.

When we got to the destination I wanted to ensure we were at the right entrance. I went in to meet a concierge and as soon as I told him who was in the taxi, he got everything ready and made a phone call. He came out and helped me assist mother and child for their entry into the building. For the first time I saw the mother face to face. She was pale, tired and numb. Her baby was all that existed. She ceased to. I looked her in the eyes and spoke my peace. They were not platitudes. They were the most genuine words of care from one parent to another that I could come up with. What I said does not matter and I don't think one word I said registered to her.

Remember what I said earlier about the smile of a baby?

In the final moments of my face to face with the baby...

She smiled.

That's what hurts the most.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Night Moves: The Book

It is with great joy that I announce the coming of my first book. It is based off this blog. The title is "Night Moves: An Ex-Preacher's Journey to Hell in a Taxi".

Way back in March, Don Martin from Aquarius Media Publishing contacted me and asked if I wanted to make the blog into a book. I said yes.

What does the book do?

The book unpacks many of the stories you have read here and adds many additional stories that you have not read. It also assembles them into a narrative story that takes you through the dark night of a period of life and into the dawn of a new day. Along the ride there are lessons to be learned from some interesting people I've met along the way.

Part narrative, part life lessons and an insight into something special and beautiful and raw and honest.

I hope you enjoy it and I hope you tell a friend to enjoy it.

I've added some new tabs to the blog, I hope you keep up to date. I will announce the release date ASAP along with pre release and release parties in the Joliet area.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Living on a Prayer

As a driver you don't make a hell of a lot of money. Saturday nights are the big money nights. You live on those. Weekends with my daughter is always hard when I am gone for 12 hours during the night and sleeping another 7. One weekend I said fuck it, took a Saturday off, and spent about a months worth of tips on one wild night to make a memory.

My ears were ringing for days from the Bon Jovi concert I took her to at Soldier Field on July 12. 

Anyone who reads my Facebook page or knows me personally knows that this is my favorite band. I have all their albums including some hard to get B sides and demo tracks. Despite all this, I have never been to one of their concerts before. Sharing this with my daughter was wonderful.
Towards the end of the night, Bon Jovi played what is likely their best known song, "Living on a Prayer." Through much of the song the band just played the music and the audience sang it. 

Imagine if you can 60,000 people singing a song together. Lost in the moment of the concert I was just having fun. Then I looked to my left. My "too cool for school" teenager daughter was just as immersed as I was. She was in full abandon belting out the lyrics word for word. She was not only next to me, but she was among and with me and the tens of thousands present. I suspect my smile at that moment was broader than Jon Bon Jovi's boyish grin on stage. For the rest of the song I had the full realization and presence that we were together as one voice.

After the concert we walked along a lakeside pier in downtown Chicago with a summer night sky hugging us with it's late night humidity. She gave me one of the biggest hugs she has given me in a long time, kissed me on the cheek and said, "Thank you so much for taking me, Dad!"  In that moment, a daddy's heart soared. 
On the way home we hit a roadside diner for a late dinner. Over our burgers and onion rings  I asked her if she had a favorite part. She said Living on a Prayer. I asked why. She said it was because we all did it together.

This brought  me back to the recurring theme of unity that I strove for as a pastor.  I always wanted to live in a religious space where "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." 

I never saw that in my church and I never saw the church belittle itself to enter the night. It is unsaved, unwashed, and impure. It is also honest.

What I strove for already existed. It existed at a stadium. For a short time we were no longer republican or democrat, rich or poor, man or woman. We were one voice singing one song. What I strove for also happened every night in my taxi. Rich. Poor. Muslim. Christian. Black. White. Liberal. Conservative. They all shared space in my taxi every night. Maybe it was not as majestic and powerful as a stadium, but what I sought was always present. What I tried to force with religion already existed. I tried to create and invite people to something that already was.

My daughter and I got home about the time my normal shift would have ended. She fell asleep within minutes of getting to my room. I watched her sleep as I waited for the sun to rise and all I had was that night. I knew that this night was about to cost me weeks of raman noodles and cold cheese sandwiches. I knew I would be refilling my water bottle at gas station bathrooms and drinking the shitty 89 cent coffee from the burnt urn at the gas station.  That was the cost for this night. It was worth it. 

As the song says, "We've got each other and that's a lot for love. We'll give it a shot."