Chapter 1 – Sins of the Father

It was a scene I had only imagined as a child. My grandmother’s house bustling with people, the smell of freshly percolated coffee piping from her stove-top, the aroma filling the tiny apartment. How this space held her, her husband, and their dozen children, I couldn’t comprehend. My childhood had been the complete opposite – I had my very own room, open spaces to run and play, and our cupboards were always full. Which is why I chose to come here, to create a sense of ease, although not to alter the past too drastically. If I had learned anything from my previous slips, it was that there truly was no way to change the past, but there were elements that could be improved. So, that’s what I was going to do, I would make some improvements.

I sat at my grandmother’s dining room table, covered with the cloth which would one day become my own, my father’s dying words ringing in my ears, “It was you who saved me, Ronnie. Do not hesitate, do not fear, now you’ll have me to watch over you, just as you watched over me.” He squeezed my hand with a strength you wouldn’t expect from a frail, 91 year old, dying man. I had no idea what he was talking about that October night one year ago, but I nodded my head, tears tapping his hospital gown, as I watched him fade away. Sitting here now, I couldn’t decide if I felt a sense of peace or sadness. In a few hours this would all be gone, and I would return to a time when none of these people exist, but right here, right now, they were real.

No matter how many times I imagined it, no matter how many times I rehearsed it, nothing could have prepared me for the moment my father, well, the 17 year old version of my father, came through the door. I heard his voice at first, “Ma! I’m home!” It was a ghost, but unmistakable. I fought hard not to cry as I felt the vacancy in my chest widen and practically consume me.

“In the kitchen, Sonny!” she summoned. He appeared almost as quickly as he died, skinnier than the grown man I knew, and devilishly handsome, his Italian features newer than I had ever seen. He greeted his mother with a kiss before he even noticed my presence at the table. He looked at me for a moment and smiled his welcome, “Who are you?” he then asked, his  New York approach not to be confused with rudeness, only direct and to the point.

I fought the urge to jump up and hug him, as well as the urge I had to never leave, I was about to reply when his mother answered as she bustled about her kitchen, pouring coffee, preparing dinner, and tending to the needs of her infinite number of children, “She’s the daughter of your great uncle, I think. She says she’s a Rizzo, a cousin, on your father’s side.” I smiled and nodded my head, averting my eyes as to avoid any sense of true recognition. As ridiculous as it sounds, I couldn’t help but feel exposed, the family resemblance was obvious, but my features were softer than theirs, the tiny bit of Irish I inherited from my mother was a blessing among the stereotypical Italian noses and dark hair. But my eyes, my eyes were his, and the most revealing.

Funny how the past looks identical to the future, I mused, in an attempt to redirect my thoughts. I suppose it’s rather silly, but before I met Jonah, I could only imagine that the past took place in black and white, like the pictures I had seen. The reality is that October 20, 1941 looked relatively the same as October 20, 2017, with one exception, my father was still alive and I had something to tell him. 

Suddenly, I felt the need to run. Run out the door and back to the rat-infested storage space in the basement of the apartment building a few blocks down. In moments I could be back at Jonah’s time anchor and back to all things familiar. 

Only hours ago, Jonah set the date anchor and opened the portal. Thousands of bursts of electricity were sent through my body through a series of leads, although I had no real idea of how all of this worked. He had explained it to me a thousand times, but I never understood. It was a design by Nikola Tesla, which Jonah improved with modern technology. It was quite simple when you removed all of the mind-bending mathematics. It had something to do with the combination of magnetic fields, psychic energy, and a tiny thing called “electrocution.” It actually isn’t as bad as it sounds, although painful at first, by my third time, I had learned how to focus on the result, rendering the means of my travel, insignificant. 

Tesla nearly died when testing it, but he lived to tell of seeing the past, present, and future, all at once. However this contraption worked, I knew that I trusted Jonah’s genius, even if I was the only one who did. I believed in him. A remarkable scientist, he was, and I knew he was waiting for me right now. No, I had to put all of that aside. I forced myself to regain my mental composure and focus on the task at hand.

Cage of Souls Revisited

Well, I’ve apparently run out of steam, after only a few days, mind you, on telling you my story. It’s not that I couldn’t face the facts of my reality, it’s just that amidst the rape and intrigue, I’ve realized that my life is just not that interesting to me. It’s just “life.” So, the writer’s block continued. But if I am to polish these writing skills, I knew I had to just sit down and write. Although I wasn’t sure what there was to say, until last night.

Last night, around 11pm, in the twilight of my sleep, a bit of a poetic thought occurred to me and I realized that there was a spark, an ember of thought.


In that moment, I decided to rework, with the goal of mastery, the novel I wrote many years ago called, “Cage of Souls.” To further my inspiration, I woke this morning not only to the sound of my roommate (who is also my soon to be ex-husband) showering and banging around on the floor above, the owl announced his seasonal arrival to my rooftop with her distinctive “who who,” which trickled down the chimney and whispered its echo into my room. I had given the owl meaning long ago, and I knew it was time, I had to write. So, I’m going to tear this book to pieces starting now. Here we go…

Cage of Souls

Preface

The fabric of time is as thin as an aged parchment, as fragile and delicate as the wings of a butterfly in its final hours. It melts away in the rushing waters, smolders with the rise and fall of the sun and turns to ash as the seasons stake their claim to each generation. But somewhere in the fibers of the fabric of time are the imprints of significance, no matter how big or small, that people, places and things leave behind. Stamped, embroidered and branded into history, each moment doomed to be repeated. The place where these moments repeat is sacred, it is the place where time remembers and the ghosts linger.

Sacred ground blankets this earth. It is hallowed ground, consecrated in the blood of thousands of souls. Among those are the souls left to wander, tortured by lives that were stolen too soon, or perhaps there are dues their soul has yet to pay. Unknowingly, they are now doomed to repeat their steps until the end of time, or until someone comes along to save them. The tragic truth is that no one is coming to save them; their souls are woven into time’s delicate, yet unravelable, fabric. Each step they repeat tangles them tighter and they become locked away for eternity. I suppose it is fortunate for them that they are none-the-wiser. But sometimes, for reasons I have yet to truly understand, a modern time will cross paths with these trapped souls and a unique individual will catch a glimpse of a world that no longer exists. When that happens, modern people wrack their brains for an explanation. They eventually try to dismiss their encounters as an overactive imagination or perhaps a random event that happens in the brain. As time marches on, only a handful of ghost stories are fortunate enough to be lumped in with stories told around a campfire.

I can understand the need to make sense of these events that lack any logical explanation or scientific validation, but sometimes there truly are no logical answers. Science has yet to explain everything, which is why science, like medicine, is a “practice.”

***

Among the places lost to time is a small desert town, its archaeology preserved by the arid climate and its sinful greed, lust, wrath, and pride preserved by the timeless pain of sudden, and swift, defeat. The tales of Wild West stories known the world over, and among the entertaining tales of ghostly happenings that occur on a regular basis in Tombstone, Arizona, there is a lesser known story that is worth telling. It is a ghost story that only the most avid ghost adventurers know, but truth be told, they only know a small fraction of it.

Throughout the years, it has been said that there is a woman in white who has been seen descending the basement staircase of the notorious Bird Cage Theater. Initially, I suspected that this lady fell victim to those Deadly Sins which had claimed so many. Whatever the reason, though, all we truly knew was that she has been repeating her steps, getting more tangled in the fabric of time, as she descended the backstage staircase of The Birdcage Theater every moment, day and night, presumably, since the doors closed in 1892.

The fragments of her story vanish along with her spirit, right before your very eyes. But her end is where my story begins. You see I know why she wanders and I know who she needed to set her free. It is her curse which runs in my veins. She has been waiting for me…and I, unknowingly, had been waiting for her.

Part 2 – The Government Agent’s Wife

As I think back on my life, I often wonder if things were different when I was a child, perhaps I would’ve turned out different – less hard, more gentle. I can say that I was a relatively happy child and my childhood was pretty normal. Although I knew my family loved me, it wasn’t an easy household. Honestly, I still laugh at just how stereotypical it was.

Myself and my family hail from Brooklyn, New York, but I was raised in the small, Southern Arizona town of Tucson. Both of my parents are Italian, my mother is also half Irish. My father was first generation American, a World War II veteran, and 17 years older than my mom, but they were each other’s first marriage. He was 51 when I was born, and although he was loyal and protective, I still attest that, by the time I reached my teens, he was just too old to raise a teenage girl. 

As far back as I can remember, there was the constant looming threat of his death. He was a severe asthmatic, and had a slew of life-threatening health issues from which he always recovered. Some of my earliest memories are of the fear I had of losing the man I adored. Thoughts of losing him were with me constantly. Fortunately, he had a strong constitution in all aspects of his life, coming from the Depression Era, I suppose that’s only natural, and he lived to be 91 years old. 

As I mentioned, my parents were strong people…and my mother certainly knew how to yell. Actually, she still does, but I don’t want to go any further without saying, I love my parents more than anything. They loved us and showed my brother, sister, and me their love through their actions. We had our issues, and perhaps our household lacked affection, but we always knew that they loved us. 

In my pre-teen years, I began to fall victim to anxiety. I don’t know why I started having panic attacks around 12 years old, but they never ceased. I missed school and am pretty sure I was suffering from depression due to my lack of understanding. My parents were older and in their time, people didn’t goto psychologists or seek mental help, which is why I suffered for so long. By the time I reached 8th grade, I had a handle on my anxiety and I began to flourish. 

I was becoming a young woman in the early 1990’s, a very different age from when my father grew up in the 1940’s, and I began to rebel. Although I never drank or did drugs, my sister, who was 7 years older than me and married to a dip-shit, know-it-all, told my mother I did. She suffered from “middle child syndrome,” and it was fierce. Anyway, like most people, I would later discover that my parents were right, about everything…but kids will be kids, and girls will be girls. At the age of 15, I found myself a boyfriend, and kept it a secret, for fear of being forbidden to see him…since I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16. During the year we spent together, I lost my virginity and had a pregnancy scare. My cousin, whom is more dear to me than my own sister, offered her help. She knew my parents, and she knew that something like this could drive a rift between them and their youngest. So, I was going to spend the summer with her and have an abortion. Fortunately, it never came to that. It was a false positive and I promptly got on the pill. Life was back on track. My boyfriend and I broke up, and like many “first-loves,” I look back and wonder what I ever saw in him. 

I graduated high school early, when I was only 16, and after only a 2 week break, went to college. In theory, I should’ve graduated by the time I was 20, but I had found a sense of freedom I so desperately needed. Just two short years after graduation is when it all went awry. 

In many ways, I was still a child, and my parents did the right thing by keeping me grounded, but it hindered me because I felt trapped. I felt as though I wasn’t allowed to spread my wings…which led me straight into the arms of a monster. 

Fortunately, I escaped with my life and although my dignity was in shreds, I had enough of it left to pull myself back together. Only a couple of months later, I met a man. I was still only 19, newly divorced, and only beginning to figure out who I truly was. He was 31 or so when we met and the physical attraction between us was palpable. 

He was the man at work that every woman admired, and many desired. He was olive skinned, quiet, handsome, and quick to laugh. He was olive skinned, quiet, handsome, and quick to laugh. The scar just beside his right eye, remanants of a bar fight from his younger years, only added to the character of the crushing gaze he would give me through the giant school bus driver’s mirror. Everything about him was exactly what I needed. And I can’t deny that holding the attention of the most eligible bachelor did wonders for my nearly non-existent self-esteem. 

He had a silent strength about him, he was safe. It was only weeks before we launched into a full love affair. We came together on Fridays, sometimes sneaking an interlude on the school bus he drove to the high school football game. It was risky, but the desert seemed to always border the school parking lot. He would park the bus near the dank green shrubby and cactus, and I would park my camaro in its shadow. It was sexy, he would unbotton my stylish flannel shirt and it would drape around my waist, which made us feel as though I was hidden, in case we got caught. Silly, I know, but he was considerate of me in every way. 

Most of the time it was someplace neutral and inconspicuous, since I lived with my parents, and he took care of his mother. Over the next two years we both dated other people, but when those brief moments ended, we always seemed to find our way back to one another. To this day, he still holds a very special place in my heart. In many ways, he brought me back to life – body and soul – and for that I am eternally grateful. 

I met the man I call “husband” shortly after I turned 21, and our love affair came to an abrupt end, although, I can’t deny, I thought of him often over the years. I set back off to college and amidst major anxiety, panic, and a terrible case of Post Traumatic Stress, I completed my Bachelor’s in Psychology when I was 23.

The horrors were a few short years behind me and soon to be a thousand miles, as well. Now, after two years of a long-distance relationship, my fiancée and I were finally going to be able to be together and start our lives in a new place – Colorado. His career was developing, he was a police officer turned Federal police officer and I was accepting an entry level administrative position. We were off and running. I thought it would be onward and upward forever. I was wrong. 

The Government Agent’s Wife

I’ve decided to share my story. It’s less about entertainment and more about therapy. Perhaps you can relate…although, in many cases, I hope you can’t. I’ll start at the beginning and end somewhere near the present. Not sure how many posts this will take, so keep an eye out. 

My Beginning

It was a warm, Arizona day, shortly after my 21st birthday. My parents and some friends had taken me and my friend to Vegas to celebrate our milestone birthdays. I was so young to have endured what I had already endured. You see, I was married at the tender age of 19. Not because I was in love, but because I wanted a way out of my parent’s house. 

My parents were good people, strong people, and very savvy, to boot. Every time I tried to move out on my own, they would point out how it just couldn’t be done alone. Well, along came a man who could change all of that. He had family money, a decent job, and he said he loved me. What more could a seriously insecure girl want? I promptly got engaged and the day after our wedding, the abuse began. It started with him berating me, then physically dominating me, squeezing me until I couldn’t breathe, and quickly moved to smothering me with pillows, and repeated rapes. He even went so far as to trick me into believing he wasn’t home and ambushing me. It ended with him raping me, a gun sat on the table that my head hit as he sodomized me.

Had it not been for my parents coming over for dinner that night, I’m not sure what would’ve happened to me. They put what they could of my things in trash bags and moved me back home. Over the coming months, my ex kept baiting me with items of necessity, like my car insurance cards. I went to pick them up from the front porch and he would grab me and sodomize me. I honestly don’t know why I went over there, why I trusted that things like that wouldn’t have happened, but they did…and I’m lucky to be here today to tell my story. 

In the end, he sold all of my childhood belongings, things I held so dear, and that was the end of the girl, I had become a damaged adult by the age of 20. 

I guess it all makes sense that my next relationship, which started when I was 21, would be with a handsome man with policeman aspirations. Of course, I didn’t know it when we first met, but within moments I knew that this man was someone I could trust, and that was a big deal. He achieved his goal of becoming a police officer three months after we started dating in March of 1998, and I thought that we were on our way to a good, long, happy life. 

He moved 100 miles away and we maintained a long distance relationship for two years. Even though he became engulfed in his job and added a level of arrogance to his personality, I still loved him and thought we could make it through anything. Looking back, I guess I loved him enough for the both of us, only to find that that could never last. 

The Adulteress


Continuing to write fiction…one day at a time. 

If I were a different type of person, I could likely find a reason for such treason. I could blame my parents for being too strict, perhaps, in some cosmic sense, I’m to pay for the sins of my father…and maybe even the sins of my mother. But really, the decision to become an adulteress is not a conscious one. It is a vulnerable one. Men and women alike, there are few, if any, who move through affairs with malicious intent. Unlike those devilish “one-night stands,” affairs are a balm to soothe an aching heart, they fill those tiny voids in your heart that you never realized existed. They are an awakening, a realization, in a way. They force you to see your reflection with foreign eyes, the face is familiar, but the thoughts are entirely new. Nothing is sacred anymore, your beliefs, your morals, not gone, only changed. You find yourself asking, “What do you truly hold dear?” Then, you struggle even more, trying to reconcile the person you’ve become…or perhaps always were. 

Then, of course, you get found out. Perhaps through admission, or, more often, you get caught. Either way, the villagers will happily light the pyre beneath your feet, burning you for not adhering to their moral code. Yet as your soul drifts to some new dimension, you discover that the morality preached is seldom righteous. The villagers have their own dirty little secrets, their lives are a lie, and you have become their sacrifice to absolve their own sins. 

It was never a life goal to view relationships as disposable. I soon found myself asking, “When did loyalty become possession?” I was not in love anymore, my marriage had become a contract, my life one of obligation and possession. My shoulders had become weak from carrying so many burdens, sustaining verbal abuse, and floundering through countless failures. It is probably a bit easier to understand that my dalliance was inevitable. A hand was extended, offering to lift my burdens, a heart was offered to fill those spaces that had been recklessly abandoned. I’m sure, as human as you are, you might possibly offer some understanding. 

New Fiction

I’ve decided to start writing again…I don’t really understand why I ever stop. I suppose it’s because it drains me to think about topics and, then weave words that desire to be read. But here I go…again. 

“I am an adulteress.” I repeated this to myself, as I searched the reflection in the mirror for any sign that the woman I once was still existed. In just two short years, the youfulness had dwindled from my eyes, and began to show as a new dullness in both my skin and eyes reflected back to me. Apparently, all of the trials and tribulations I had endured in my first forty years didn’t take nearly the toll that just two years spent in the beautiful turmoil of passion provided. 

I suppose there is still a level of naïveté that demonstrates itself, even at the age of thirty-eight. Looking back, I could equate myself to a child, desperately seeking the comfort, the safe  embrace, only a parent could provide. At the time, I was as lost as a piece of driftwood, carried across the miles of open ocean, with no particular destination. All I wanted was a safe place to rest my weary heart. It was quite pathetic, in retrospect. But somehow, I convinced myself that nothing mattered, no sin too great, for the warm sanctuary of an equally aching heart would heal all indiscretions.