Innocent Murderer

We were eating dinner when our front door was kicked in by the S.W.A.T team. I must have had a calm look on my face when you looked at me because you instantly started breaking down. I stood up from the table as they screamed at me to get on the floor. I got down on both knees with my feet crossed and put my hands behind my back. You were still screaming at the officers while they violently put the handcuffs on me. Slamming my head into the floor, pinning me down with a knee on my neck. Once they got me on my feet they pulled me out faster than they came in, leaving you alone, an officer stopped you from coming outside. The entire neighborhood was up and outside. I could hear everyone outside talking and making assumptions about what had happened and why I was being taken out in handcuffs by a S.W.A.T. Team. I saw one of my neighbors who I held cookouts with on holidays disappear behind the crowd with his phone up to his ear before I got shoved into the back seat of a detectives cruiser. They shut the door and instantly drove off with haste and didn’t wait for an escort. Just before we turned off the street I saw the same neighbor shaking his head yes. The detective driving me was quiet almost the entire ride until we arrived at the jail downtown half an hour later. “Dispatch we have major activity outside of the intake doors.”

The intake door for cruisers was being crowded by dozens of people. Shortly after getting on the radio the intake door opened and every officer in the station was pushing people out of the way so the detective’s cruiser could pull in. Many of the officers stayed outside while the door closed so no one could get in. I was pulled out of the vehicle with brute force as the rest of the officers walked in from a side door. In the chaos of everyone outside, the officers trying to keep the peace, one person got in. He pulled a pistol from his pants and shot twice, both bullets hitting me in the back, one in each shoulder. The detective saw him and before he could stop it, the guy shot, returning fire, killing the guy. One of the officers called for an ambulance and another kept the pressure on the wounds. I was getting cold and my vision began to blur, before passing out I could hear the detective screaming at the other officers for allowing this to happen. I went in an out of consciousness for what seemed like a lifetime as was laying on the ground, then in an ambulance and finally cuffed to a bed inside a hospital during the day. When I finally woke up I could barely breathe and I was in major pain. I noticed an officer outside the room arguing with my wife and finally leaving in tears. The television was on the local news station, it was early in the morning the next day.

I started to stir in the bed but couldn’t move much because of the pain and handcuffs. My heart rate started to rise and the door opened with a nurse and officer walking in. She checked my vitals, patted the officer on the shoulder and walked away. ”He’s awake and fine, just in pain.” The officer gave me a dirty look and scoffed as he walked back out of the room, closing the door with force. The volume was off but the subtitles were streaming across the bottom of the television. The reporter was talking about an arrest had been made in a multiple homicide case that could finally give the community some rest after the past few weeks since the murders. The news ended shortly after a press statement had been made from the police chief about the arrest. I fell back asleep as a cooking show turned on after. When I woke up the room was filled with officers, attorneys and my wife sitting in the corner on a chair quietly. The detective that drove me to the jail asked the first and only question just before the attorneys began firing questions and statements back and forth. “EVERYONE OUT!” The detective seemed like he wasn’t going to have any of their madness. As they filed out the door he stopped one. “You stay.” He stopped an older lady that was dressed far better than the rest of them. My wife still sitting on the chair quietly was allowed to stay in the room. “This is your attorney.” The detective left the room, closing the door and leaving the three of us in the room.

My wife didn’t even approach me, she just sat there, staring at the floor still in shock. The attorney spoke with ease and reassurance. “They have zero evidence against you relating to the multiple murders. They only have search history from your phone from a year ago, that’s what they are going off on.” I saw my wife’s face unclench and relief was cast over her. “Now as long as you don’t say anything and let me do all the talking, you will be free and we will begin pressing charges against the police department for excessive force during your arrest.” I shook my head in understanding of what she was saying. “Before we go any further, is there anything you need to get out into the open that could possibly ruin this case if they ever found out?” She waited with a notepad and pen ready to write anything I said down. “No, but I do want to know who sent you.” She put her notepad and pen back into her bag and took her glasses off, rubbing the bridge of her nose. “I’m repaying a favor to a very high prison official in Cook County. This official kept my nephew out of prison for a crime he was framed for, so I’m going to keep you out of prison because your innocent.” As she finished saying that my wife’s head picked up and looked dead into my eyes. She was scared and confused about what to believe. She followed the lawyer out of the room and another officer that was outside came in, taking the handcuffs off me. “Innocent till proven guilty right?” I rubbing my wrists “Thank you, sir.” He patted my leg while walking out, “Don’t let those other guys get to you, this goes higher than you would believe.”

I laid in the bed for the rest of the day thinking about what he said, putting things together. A few more days went by and my wife didn’t come back until she walked in with a change of clothes, setting them on the chair and walked out, officer and attorney watching. I knew this meant that I was being sent before a judge for trial. I got dressed and before leaving the room a tall man in a black suit walked into the room. “Listen to your attorney.” He shook my hand and walked out, not before I noticed the ID badge he had clipped onto his shirt under his suit jacket that said “FBI” on it. This made more sense now, with what the other officer said to me about this being higher than I realized, I realized it now. I walked out of the hospital room and was put back into handcuffs and escorted by multiple officers to the parking garage and put into an unmarked government SUV. My wife disappeared in the parking garage and I was left with an officer and my attorney in the SUV. “You’re going before a judge today, with a jury larger than normal for the number of charges that are being pressed against you.” I shook my head in understanding yet again, sitting quietly during the short ride uptown to the courthouse. For the amount of press that has covered this case during the investigation, there was none when we arrived. The officer spoke before the SUV stopped. “This is an unannounced trial, done without anyone knowing, that’s why there are no cameras like usual trials.” The door opened and I stepped into the warm sun, trying to take it in for a short moment.

The courtroom filled fast and the families of those murdered sat on one side of the courtroom with all their attorneys lined up on the front table. “All Rise” The judge that walked in wasn’t any usual judge, it was the same judge used for all major trials, he had a reputation of being stern yet fair. “Be seated, the court is now in session.” The judge sat and so did everyone else. I looked around and saw my wife sitting just behind me with her head down. “Ma’am, could you please step forward.” The judge pointed at her and she got up and walked to the front of the room. “Ma’am I understand that you recently got into an incident with the victims of the murdered? This incident caused you to be hospitalized for a few days.” She shook her head yes. “For the record please.” She lifted her head, looking back at the families of the ones who had been murdered. “Yes your honor, they attacked me while I was leaving work at night.” The judge motioned for her to return to her seat. “With this knowledge in mind, does anyone feel sorry for those that have been murdered?” I thought one of the family members of the murderer was going to have a heart attack after what the judge said. One of the attorneys spoke, “Your honor what does this have to do with the prosecution for these murders?” The judge pointed the gavel in their direction. “A group of people attacks your wife when she’s alone at night leaving work that leaves her traumatized and hospitalized, what are you going to?” The attorney sat down, knowing that no matter what they said, the judge would throw the case out immediately.

The trial went on for hours, my attorney disproving any points that the prosecutors made until the judge finally put an end to the back and forth between sides. “So the sprinter van couldn’t be found? The DMV has no record of the plates on the van existing? The person in the video that got out of the van couldn’t be recognized because of the bandana? The weapon used to mutilate and kill the victims was never found?” The prosecuting team hung their heads in shame until the detective was brought forward to present his “Evidence”. He had boards brought in and propped up with text messages and search history. “As the room can see, the accused, one year ago was searching for one specific person who was in the group of men that were murdered. The text messages show him telling his at the time Fiancé that “He will never get back in your life and if he does I will make sure he never does again.” The judge looked extremely irritated at the detectives half attempt to make something stick that happened a year ago. “Do we have proof that he was the one sending the messages at the time and that he was the one who searched the name?” The detective tried to muster up something else to get his evidence to stick. After a short moment, the Judge spoke again. “Detective, if you have nothing that can prove he was the one sending the messages or searching for the name, please be seated.” The detective motioned for the evidence to be taken away and took his seat. “The court will take a one hour recess. Jury, in this time you must come to a conclusion.”

During this recess, I was taken out to the courtyard with my lawyer. “You are doing really well, I know you’re in pain from the gunshots but I need you to hold on for me. When we go back in, they will try and put you on the stand to try and get a confession. Do not confess to anything, plead not guilty and say nothing else.” My lawyer went over various other details with me until it was time to go back inside. “Accused can you please take the stand.” My lawyer was right, they are going to try for one last time to get me to confess. “With what has happened, you being shot just shortly after your arrest, this only solidifies the charges. Do you want the carnage to continue?” I looked over the families of those that had been murdered and a few of them where actually smiling. The judge leaned down to me, “Son, the record needs an answer.” I looked over to my lawyer and she shook her head yes. “Me being shot was carnage and it shows the police departments lack of security.” The few officers in the room came in closer to the stand and the detective got even closer. My lawyer stood up and spoke. “Your honor my client has the freedom of speech with by the way these officers are moving shows that they are prepared to do something to my client. I implore you to remove them from the room.” The judge took notice of the officers moving closer, the detective had his hand rested on his pistol. “All law enforcement officials, leave the room immediately.” They didn’t listen to the judge and I wanted to provoke them into proving that I was innocent by their action. “I would listen to the judge if I were you.” The detective moved with haste towards me, the other officers grabbing him and pulling him from the room. My lawyer looked over to the prosecutors and then to the judge. “Your honor, it is clear that this case needs to be investigated by someone other than the detective and his team. He seems emotionally connected to this, so much that he was willing to hurt my client inside of your courtroom if he had gotten close enough.” The judge visibly annoyed by this turn of events stood up and walked out of the courtroom from behind the bench.

During the judge’s absence, two dozen men in full tactical gear with “FBI” Patches on the front of their plate carriers walked into the room, moving to all corners and walls, surrounding the courtroom. Once they stopped one man walked in the room wearing a black suit. It was the same man who walked into the hospital room. The judge flew through the door behind the bench in a rage. “WHAT IN GODS NAME IS-” He was instantly silenced when he saw the man in the suit standing in front of his bench. “Sir I didn’t know that the FBI was involved in this case, my apologies.” By all accounts, I could tell that the judge had run into this man before, as well as his team. “The man accused is to be released effective immediately. All charges are to be dropped and the record of this court case is to be thrown out.” One of the men in tactical gear walked over to the recorder and pulled the paper recording as well as the audio recorder. The judge knew what was going on and gave his verdict after the two had a separate quiet conversation. “You are free to go, son.” I was escorted out of the courtroom with my wife and lawyer by the tactical team. They directed us to a separate room where the three of us sat with two of the armed men inside guarding the door. After a few minutes of just us being in the room, the FBI agent walked back in, relieving the two armed guards. He walked over and shook the hand of my lawyer, insisting that she stay for the “debriefing”. My wife looked up at him and then me with anger in her eyes. The Agent saw her look and took the moment to talk to her. “Ma’am, I truly am sorry for what happened to you. It isn’t much but we saw to take care of your medical bills, mortgage and the rest of your families bills.” He kneeled down while he was talking to her and put his hand on her belly. “Wait, you’re pregnant!? Why didn’t you tell me??” She began crying worse than before, eventually getting out what she had to say. “I was waiting to tell you when we got back from vacation next month. I found out the morning before I got attacked. That’s why I have been so upset, I was about to lose the father of our child because of something that you never did.” I held my head in my hands, my entire world could have been changed if I had gotten caught, our child would have grown up without a father.

The FBI agent sat down at the table we were at and began to speak. “Do you know what the Mandela Effect is?” I knew what it was, it was a reoccurring theme in my life before I got married. “The events of today never happened. No record will show that it ever happened. As we speak the news stations that covered this case and the murders have been scrubbed down and all media has been removed.” The lawyer caught on to what was happening but my wife was still confused. “Anything you know about your husband that he may have told you about his, past is very real. You do not need to worry about any of it. He will never end up in prison, he will never hurt you and he will never abandon you or the child. He may get frustrated, he may raise his voice and even storm out, but I promise he will never harm you intentionally.” She looked at me with more tears in her eyes and reached for my hand. The FBI agent directed his attention to me. “Now you, on the other hand, you got out of this life. Do you mind telling me what happened? Thomas left over a year ago and no one knew where he went, then this happened.” I chuckled a little bit even though the stitches in my back hurt. “Well, you see, a raven told me to come back home, that everything had died down. Which in part was true, so we settled down permanently.” He didn’t like that I was using his own agents against him. “You know you aren’t supposed to be doing this sort of thing, you almost got caught over some text messages and search history.” The lawyer had her hand on her jaw in shock at this conversation, my wife was frozen from what she was hearing. “Look, someone attacked my wife, someone who was trying to work their way back into her life. I wasn’t going to stand for it and so I reverted back to who I used to be. I pulled the security camera footage of the attack, realized who it was and then went to work.” The FBI agent was beside himself, “Yes but you should have reached out instead of creating chaos and panic.” He fixed his tie and sat up more. “I handled things, I knew who they were, I knew where they were. I did what YOU trained me to do. Six years of causing chaos, destabilizing environments, scaring the life out of people.” He put up his hand to stop me. “You don’t need to continue, I know what you’ve done.” He stood up and adjusted his well fitted suit. “So that’s it? You just wanted to talk to me and find out what my thoughts were on it, no punishment, no repercussions?” He smiled and pulled his phone from his pocket. “You can’t punish what isn’t real, Wraith.”

The FBI agent left the room and started talking to someone on his phone. I knew that if I kept my head low and my nose out of trouble then I wouldn’t have to see him again. My lawyer took her leave with a short goodbye. “I don’t know who you are or what you used to do, but you sure do have some friends in seriously high places. I wish you nothing but the best on the rest of your recovering. Congratulations on the child and please don’t make me come back down here. It is way too hot for me, even in winter time.” She shook my hand and gave my wife a hug then quickly made her way out of the room. My wife and I now alone for the first time since this started, I didn’t know what to say. She stood up and walked over me, putting my head on her stomach. “Let’s go home, we are expecting company in a few months.” I stood up and held her hand all the way out to her car. “Keys please.” She pulled them from her purse and handed them to me while I opened her door. “I’m sorry you had to drive, I know you don’t like to.” She gave me a smile as I closed the door, I knew she was scared. Not for the baby but for me, everything I had told her about my past was finally put into reality by this. I climbed in the driver’s seat and began adjusting the mirrors before backing out. “So are you ever going to tell me what happened?” Her curiosity always got the better of her, especially when it came to me. “Maybe one day my love, maybe one day.” We pulled out of the parking lot and got to the stop light, a large black van pulled up behind us. I looked in the rear view mirror and then back at the light smiling. “Is that the van!?” I put one hand on her leg and gave it a gentle squeeze. “No darling, just a coincidence.” The light turned green and we proceeded straight, the van flashed its lights at us and turned off heading another direction.


© Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus, 2014-20–. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Message of the Raven

“Look alive, here he comes.” The Sergeant fixed up his uniform quickly. “Who is this guy?” The other officers got in line with their notepads ready. A detective walked up from behind them. “The chief sent him down. Heard he got off on a technicality for murdering his wife and daughter.” The detective lit a cigarette for the stress.“Why are we using a murderer for an investigation?” They all turned to look at the detective for an answer. “Says he didn’t do it” A round of sighs was let out as the car pulled up and stopped.

I saw the officers standing outside of the house talking with each other as I got closer. They looked pissed off about something as I pulled up. I sat in the car for a moment, looking at the files I was given for this case and thinking. Husband woke in the middle of the night with his wife’s throat cut open and his son missing. There was a time in my life where I would have sat down at night to watch this on the news with my wife. That was a long time ago, or so it feels like. Now it’s every night, coffee and cigarettes with the local law enforcement. Waiting for the time to be just right and all the factors line up to be in play once more. Just like when it happened to me, my wife murdered and my child taken from me. I knew the chances were slim and I may never find the person who did it. But like most predators, they stay where the game is easy. I had my suspicions about what happened that night. Why my wife was killed and my child stolen from me. I wasn’t even tried for murder, the judge threw out the case based upon a “Problem with the investigation” and it was left at that. I wasn’t even questioned about what happened that night, I wouldn’t even be able to answer anything anyways. I woke up and my wife had her throat cut open and my son was gone. It’s been two years since that night, shattering my world into a million pieces. All I can do now is piece them back together in hopes of having something that’s worth living for, much less remembering what happened that night. It doesn’t help that the police gave up on the investigation after a few days. “We are truly sorry sir but the trail went cold and no new leads have turned up.” That’s the statement that was given to me by the detective assigned to my case. I came to terms over time that when I find the ones who did this, my child will most likely be dead.

I opened up the door of the cruiser and stepped out, the chatter between the officers instantly stopped. “What do we know?” I pulled my smokes from inside my jacket, lit one up and walked. “Nice to meet you too” One of the officers was a bit aggravated at my apparent lack of manners. I walked past them without paying any attention to his comment. “Well your an asshole.” I stopped, turning slowly as I took a large drag, letting it out as I moved closer to them. “Well if you did your job, this asshole wouldn’t be here!” I smacked the cup of coffee from his hands, listening to another comment as I walked away. “That dude’s got issues.” The house was in a cleaned up residential neighborhood in the suburbs of columbus. It had a relatively low crime rate, mostly kids just being kids. Every so often the evil that flooded the dark streets of city would seep out, resulting in some sort of serious crime taking place in suburbatopia. I heard the clicking of the detectives over priced i’m important shoes catching up to me. “We tried talking to the husband but we can’t make sense of anything he’s saying.” I took a sip of my coffee just before entering the house. “He called 911 just over an hour ago, uniforms arrived a half hour after the call came in. The man sat in confusion, chaos and mental instability for a long period of time. No wonder he didn’t make any sense.” I flicked my cigarette into the yard and opened the door. The man was sitting in a chair in the living room, covered in blood with his head in his hands. I could hear him mumbling “why” over and over again. “Hey bud, can you tell me what happened?” He just sat there, rocking himself and mumbling. “I told you, we couldn’t get anything out of him.” I looked around his living room, seemed like a happy family to me. I saw some papers on the table in his kitchen. I walked over to take a look, maybe giving me something to connect with him on a deeper level. I shuffled through the paperwork until I saw one with a letterhead that seemed familiar. It had logo of a Raven with its claws dug into a human skull.

I walked back into the living room with the paper in my hand. “Detective, can you give me and this man some privacy?” The detective threw up his hands “Whatever you say boss.” The detective closed the door as I sat down in front of the man. “Care for a smoke?” He didn’t say anything, but he did reach for a cigarette. He put it in his mouth and I lit it for him after I lit mine. “Can you tell me what this is?” I handed him the piece of paper, he looked at it for a second and then began crying even more. After a few minutes on continual sobbing and trying to smoke his cigarette he finally took a deep breath. “I told them I was going to expose them if they didn’t shut down operations.” The water works started up again, “Alright come on, your doing good, who did you say this to?” He mustered up the courage to stop and let it all out. “I’m part of an organization that kidnapped people right out of highschool. They were exposed to an invasive program during their last two years of high school that utilized electronics. Sending frequencies that only children between the ages of 15-17 can pick up on but don’t quite know what it is. It triggers a reaction in their brain that essentially allows them to be very charismatic. This set them up for extensive mental torture to create what was called “Ravens”, people who the government would use to manipulate and control foreign and even sometimes domestic problems for a hidden agenda. The children never even knew what was going on, after the graduated, they vanished from society. The local authorities had no leads on who was taking these children and all the cases went cold. The higher ups made sure no one got close to finding out what was really going on.” He sat back, looking at me for a moment, his face went pale and his voice began to quake. “Y-You. I know you!” I was startled by his determination, I had never seen this man in my life. “You’re in shock, your mind is trying to rationalize what’s going on, it’s a safety measure the mind does to help stabilize after a traumatic experience.” He flew up from the chair and began backing away from me. “That’s exactly what one of you would say to calm someone down!” I kept my distance from him, he was beginning to get angry. “One of who?” When his back hit the wall, it hit him. “Oh my god…” he slid down the wall as fear consumed him. “Your Raven Nine!” I walked closer putting my hands up “Who is Raven Nine?” He reached for a fire poker and pointed it at me. “You’re the one who made it through the system!” He began waving the fire poker at me. “Put it down.” He stopped and pointed at me. “The predator becomes prey when the Raven flies away.” He thrusted the fire poker into his chest, right into his own heart. “SHIT!” I pulled my radio out and called for an ambulance

The paramedics took the body of the man from the house, he was dead before they even arrived. “This still leaves the unanswered question as to the location of the child.” the detective looked to me for answers. “Where do we suggest we start?” I walked away from them, heading towards my cruiser. “You guys go back to the station and do your paperwork. Then go home and be with your families.” They seemed relieved to be rid of this crime scene but had to ask. “What are you going to do?” I opened the door and put one foot in. “Get the child back.” I went home to process what the man told me and do some research online, something didn’t seem right. The more I thought about what the man said and what he looked like, the more I felt like I knew him and what he was talking about. I dug into a few online message boards that were used for conspiracy theories based around the American government. An old archived thread from a little less than two years ago had information about “Raven Communications” and what they actually where. Someone posted a detailed streamline of what had happened to me.

“He became part of a top secret government psyops program and was given the code name “Raven nine”‘. He was tagged when he was a junior in highschool and after he graduated was taken. He became part of a company called “Raven Communications” Their motto was “We got the message”, fitting for an unit based solely in psychological warfare. Their job was to drop into other countries and solve their most troubling issues, regardless of what it was. Their mental capabilities made them next to invincible. Able to talk people into giving them the information they wanted, convince others that the things he was doing was sanctioned by their local officials and even getting people to kill themselves or others. They would sink their claws into someone and rip them apart for whatever they desired, with no feeling of remorse either. He was the only one to make it out alive from the government program, but not without consequence. He was mentally destroyed, his brain didn’t function like normal and his emotions where so repressed, they were almost non existent. When he got out, the government issued him a caretaker in the form of a wife that he by chance would meet. Her job was to make him fall in love, bring his emotions to surface, have a family and put his past to rest. Making sure that part of him stayed buried, never to surface again. Unfortunately the government decided that his happiness and recovery was just too good for him. They killed his wife and took his son, this was the start of new selection process, starting him. They left him alive because they were sure he would never put the pieces back together.”

I dug into the post, trying to find who made it. All though it was posted anonymously, I was able to find the IP address and track it to a building in downtown Columbus. The IP address gave me the posters name and who they where. I cross searched that name with the obituaries and found that he was found dead in his apartment from a self inflicted gunshot to the head a couple days after he posted it. I managed to find his next of kin, his mother who lived not to far outside of Columbus in Newark. When I pulled up to her house she had a notice taped to her door. “Please leave me in peace. I have nothing to say to the press.” I knew she wanted to be left alone, but I could give her closure to her sons unexpected death. Before I could raise my hand to ring the doorbell, she opened the door, leaving the screen between us. “I saw you come up to the house through the living room. You read my note now please leave.” She began to close the door as soon as I started to speak. “Ma’am, I know who killed your son.” She stopped just before latching it closed and opened it part way to look at me. “Do you think its funny to come around and harass an old lady? I knew my son had problems!” I rubbed the bridge between my eyes on top of my nose. “Ma’am, your son didn’t have problems. It was others who had problems with him.” I could hear her quietly begin to cry with her head behind the door. “I’ll give you five minutes.”

Her house was very clean and organized, but the door to the basement was locked with a very large padlock. “Tell me then, who had problems with my son? Are you saying he didn’t kill himself? Who are you anyways?” She sat on her chair in the living room and sipped on something she had already been drinking. “Who I am is not important, who I was is what I am trying to figure out. Your son was part of an online forum that tossed around conspiracies and tried to stitch them together to create the bigger image for the world to know. Your son knew about something, or knew someone, either way what he knew was a direct reflection of my life and events that have happened recently and apparently in the past.” Her hands began to shake as she reached between her cushion and the arm of her chair. “You can pull that gun out and shoot me if it makes you feel better. Everything I have ever loved has been taken from me, so killing me would only bring me peace. But it will never explain what happened to your son.” She stopped reaching down one side and started down the other, pulling up a large key, stretching her arm out to give it to me. “Take all the time you need down there, just please find out what happened to my son.” She clicked on the television, grabbed her drink and relaxed back into her chair as if I wasn’t even there. The lock on the door wasn’t only large, but very heavy, like one they used to put on crates of weapons in the military. I got the lock undone and set it on the floor beside the door. The handle wouldn’t turn so i jiggled it a little bit. “Turn the handle and give it a good tug, it’ll open.” She must have known I would have trouble getting through the door. I did as she said and the door popped open.

I hit the light switch on the wall and began to walk down the stairs. It smelled of cosmoline, cigarettes and hot circuitry the closer I got to the bottom of the stairs. There was another panel of switches on the wall to my right, I turned all of them on. To my astonishment, her basement was an office with a very large gun rack on the back wall, white board filled with conspiracies, notes and other thoughts. The computer setup was something straight out of a government black site. Top of the line hardware, programs and some serious security, whatever he had on those hard drives, he was willing to die for. I left his system alone, studied the whiteboard, took a few pictures of it for later reference and filled a large duffle bag I found on his floor with guns and ammo. “Man, you and I would have gotten along so well. I’ll find who did this to you.” I shut the lights off and went back up the stairs, flipping the last light switch off before closing and locking the door. She sat in the living room still looking at the television, she looked at peace. “Thank you ma’am.” I Handed the key back to her and she tucked it back between the cushion and arm. “Close the door on the way out would you?” She really did seem like she knew nothing about what was going on. I closed her door and then the screen, making my way back to the car when I noticed something from the corner of my eye. Either I was being watched or she was, something didn’t seem right about this.

I put the duffle on the passenger seat and walked around to the drivers side and stopped. I pulled the smokes from my pocket, picked one and lit it. I took a long drag while looking around casually until I saw it. There was a white SUV a block down with blacked out windows, it wasn’t there when I showed up and it wasn’t a cruiser either. I wasn’t going to cause a scene in front of this house, so I got in, belted up and took off down the street with a slow pace. A few seconds into the driving the white SUV began to follow. “At least it’s me that you want.” I kept going until I got to the upper east side of columbus. The SUV kept following, “Oh you boys must not be from here, not even cops come up here.” I made my way to the worst part of town, digging out a couple thousand dollars in my center console and wrapping my black bandana around it. As I got deeper into the ghetto, gang members started to come outside. I slowed down and waited for one of them to walk up with a handgun. “Wrong part of town! Now get out and give me everything you got!” I looked at him with the money in my hand. “White SUV is going to pull down this street. I want the people in the car alive, the rest of their stuff is yours.” I handed him the money and he stepped back, fear filled his eyes but he steeled his gaze. I sat in the middle of the road until the SUV pulled down the street a few minutes after I did and got right behind me. The man I handed the money to whistled and dozens of gang members poured out of the houses with, what I can assume is perfectly legal weapons. They surrounded the vehicle, yelling at them to get out. The doors opened and four men stepped out, weapons up in the air. The men had everything of value taken from them and was hauled off by a few of the gang members. I lit another cigarette and got out to meet them. I watched as all four of them closed their eyes and the driver spoke. “Don’t look at him! He can get in your head!” The man I gave the money to looked at him like he was crazy. “LOOK AT HIM!” he jammed the Uzi into the man’s ribs and his eyes opened. “Seems to me like your the one in charge, so your going to tell me who you are, or this guy right here is going to kill you and your friends.”

The man didn’t seem to be afraid of anything. “Let me guess, probably a marine that was dishonorably discharged for some unjustified killing that you claim saved your unit?” His face twitched, I had him in my claws. “So you joined up with the private sector, never said no to any order and found yourself at the top of the pyramid with a high kill count. Then you got picked back up by the government for their dirty work that even the private sector wont do?” I hit a nerve, as well as his pride by laying out to his friends how exactly he got to where he was. “So now you go and kill peoples wives, steal their children and leave the man to wallow in pain not knowing what happened or where their child is?” I heard a couple of the gang members talk about just killing them right here and now. “I’m done with the other three, I want this one to myself. The SUV is yours, like I said. Do as you please with their bodies.” The gang members shot all three of them, put the bodies in the back and drove the SUV away, leaving just me and this mercenary. “Now, you are going to tell me where the children are, who gave the order and how I’m going to find them.” He broke down quickly, giving me everything but the location of the children. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he really didn’t know, he only told me where he took them. I walked away, leaving him alive in the middle of the street, the sun disappearing behind the buildings. “That’s it? You’re not going to kill me?” I was almost to the door of my car, “No, I’m not a murderer, but they are.” I pointed to the men standing on the porch next to him.

I rolled slowly away and when i turned off the street I could hear the man scream as multiple gunshots went off. I got multiple looks from residents hanging out of their porches, all of them waiving as I passed by. Before I turned off to head into the heart of Columbus I saw that white SUV being cleaned out, no bodies to see. I pulled off behind a seven eleven and grabbed the duffel bag full of guns. I stepped out and went to my trunk, opening it and setting the guns in. I took off my coat, rolling my cigarettes into my left sleeve of my shirt. I grabbed the plate carrier I had tucked away in the trunk with my other weapons and put it on. Loading magazines into their pouches and tucking one of the hand guns into the small of my back. I slung the rifle over my body and pulled the sub machine gun from the duffle, setting it on the side and reaching for magazines and the duct tape. I reverse taped the magazines together, putting two sets in my front waist belt and putting the third into the weapon. I closed the trunk to see one of the employees staring in awe at what I was doing. “Federal investigation, please go back inside sir.” The employee quickly turned around and ran back inside, dropping his slushy on the ground. I climbed back into the car, putting on my gloves and balaclava that I kept tucked away in the glove box. I cruised through the streets until I pulled up to the building I was looking for. I pulled my smokes, lit it and tucked it in my mouth with mask pulled up. “Should have known it would be here. Tallest building and the highest floor in the biggest office, go figure.” I got out, smoking my cigarette as I walked up to the front door of the building.

The Security guard that was working night shift didn’t even look up, he just smelled the smoke. “No smoking in the building, please put that out.” I stopped in my tracks to do as the man said. “Oh, i’m sorry sir, I totally forgot about that new law.” He began to speak as he looked up. “Your sarcasi-” He flew up from his desk and pulled his pistol as I leveled the SMG. “You don’t get paid enough to die, drop it and leave.” He put the gun down slowly and shimmied his way around the desk to the front while I headed towards the elevator. “CALL THE COPS WHEN YOU GET OUTSIDE!” I screamed to him as he bolted out the other set of doors in the lobby. I patiently waited for the elevator to come down as the buildings alarm droned on and on. I got in and pushed the twenty-seventh floor and the doors closed. The elevator spoke. “Floor twenty-seven, going up.” I chuckled a little, “Well yes please, thank you.” The elevator was slow and stopped at the twenty fourth floor. The doors opened, an old businessman with a young lady stood there, “Going up? No? You can catch the next one, sorry.” The doors closed and I heard the lady say “Oh my god call the police!” I finally made it to the twenty-seventh floor and the doors opened to reveal a large raven with a human skull in its claws. “They’re really into themselves.” I walked out to an empty lobby, one hallway leading down the middle below the raven.

SMG on level, I could hear a lot of people talking and weapons loading behind the closed doors. I let out a cough and the first door opened, rifle slowly coming out and turning towards me. The shots rang out as I fired through the wall, dropping the man carrying it. More began to come out with guns from the same room, each being shot as soon as I could see them. The voices got louder and as each door opened I moved through the hallway, shooting each and every one of them. Each person had the company’s logo on a patch on their plate carriers. The SMG did quick work of the first groups that came out. Reloading and sight sweeping the rooms as I passed them. When I ran out of ammo in the SMG I dropped it on the ground, pulling my rifle around, leveling it with the close range side sight. Me dropping the gun must have given them hope because further down the hall I saw men poking their heads out to look. Each head that came out got a bullet, until someone closer stuck their rifle out and started to blind fire. I ducked into a room as I heard footsteps coming out and filling the hallway. I put my back against the door and pivoted my body out with the rifle, dropping the closest three. “FALL BACK!” I waited till I heard the footsteps disappear and the voices stop.

I peaked my head around the corner to see only bodies on the floor. Slowly scanning and moving towards the end of the hall. I noticed a man near the end of the hall with a grenade in one of his pouches. “Don’t mind if I do!” I picked it up tucked the spoon on one of the straps of my vest, still moving to the end of the hall. I could hear the voices again from around the corner, they sounded really close together. I popped my head around and got a quick glance before multiple shots came my way. They were all grouped together in the center of the hall, about thirty feet down just in front of a large door. I let my rifle drop, pulled the grenade out, slid the pin out slowly, grabbed the spoon so it did not make noise, counted out two seconds and threw the grenade down the hall. Leveling my rifle with the far sight atop it, I started taking shots at the men in the rear as the grenade hit the ground, blowing up right in front of them. They screamed in terror as the grenade went off. A few of their bodies flew back, breaking open the large door. Inside sat a man at his desk with a revolver pointed at me. He fired five of the six shots at me, four of them missing and one hitting me in the trauma plate that sat center mass on me. “DROP THE GUN!” I moved over the bodies closer to him. He was starting to shake and pointed the gun at his head. Before he could squeeze the trigger I put a bullet into his shoulder, setting the gun off towards the roof. “WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN!” He held his shoulder with his other hand, still sitting in silence. I slung my rifle behind my back and moved around his desk, slamming his head on it. “Where. Are. The. Children.” He groaned in pain as he bled from his forehead. I took my gloves off and prepared to dig the information out of him. “Don’t make me ask again, tell me and I will let you live.” I pulled the mask off so he could see my face. “No one will find them, anyone that could is dead now.” I grabbed his head with both hands, fingers gripping tightly around the sides and back of his skull as I made him look at me. “REMEMBER ME!” His face went pale and he started to stutter, “y-y-your sup-supposed to be-” I dug my thumbs closer to his eyes and he began to scream. “YOU DID THIS TO ME! NOW WITNESS YOUR CREATION!” I pulled my thumbs back down and stared straight into his eyes. “Tell me where the children are…”

He cried in agony as he poured out everything he was doing, how many children died trying to recreate what he had done to me and the others in the past. Just as I finished breaking down his mind I pulled the letter opener from his desk, shoving it into his throat. “Choke on the regrets you have.” He tried to breath and spit up the blood that was going down his throat and into his lungs. I heard the elevator doors ding from the lobby area of the floor and quickly put on one of the dead guys plate carriers. I made my way down the hall and into an office and hid behind the door as cops filled the floor. I walked out when they passed me, heading towards the elevator. One cop tried to stop me, “SIR! HALT!” I looked at him as the elevator opened. “You might want to get down there, the man who did this locked himself into a room with a gun and a few hostages.” The cop hurried off down the hall and I stepped into the elevator. On the ride down I took off all the gear I had on, dropping it on another floor before continuing down the elevator. When I got down to the first floor and into the lobby, cops where interviewing the security guard. He caught a glimpse of me and knew who I was by the rolled cigarette pack in my shirt sleeve. He tried telling the cops as I walked out the doors I came in earlier and they told him he was in shock, his mind is trying to rationalize what had happened. I hurried to my car to get to the location that I was told the children would be at. On my way out of Columbus I jumped on the freeway to get there faster. While on the way a State trooper pulled behind me and turned his lights on. I didn’t pull over, I was this close to finding my son after all this time and i wasn’t going to be stopped now. I made the decision to call the police chief who asked for my help on this case. Seconds after the phone call ended the state troopers lights shut off and he pulled away. I gave the chief the information I had on where the children where located and by the time I got there it was swarming with officers from all departments.

The officers on scene wouldn’t let me in until the Chief showed up and brought me through into the warehouse that the children were in. “You wouldn’t happen to know what went on downtown in the Columbus tower would you?” I looked at him in surprise, “What happened? I wasn’t even downtown tonight?” He let out a concerning hum, “And you have nothing to do with the shootings on the upper east side tonight either then?” He raised his eyebrows at me, “Heavens no sir, I never go into that part of town. Cops don’t even go in there.” He nodded, “Good.” The officers let us through to where the children where being held. A team of scientists and medical officials in white suits where canvasing the room. As we moved through them I saw multiple rows of metal cages on the floor and more suspended by the ceiling. Dried blood, fecal matter and urine covered most of the flooring in the cages. “The bodies are in the back.” One of the scientists escorted us through the maze of yellow tape, evidence markers and scene lines. We went through a set of double doors into a room with numerous surgery tables, all with a small child on them. The chief put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed it a little, “I’m sorry.” He walked back out to the room with cages and left me inside with the scientist. “Do we have an identity on any of them?” The scientist pulled up his clipboard and flipped through some of the pages. “No sir, all of their fingerprints have been burned off, their teeth were removed, bodies scoured of all hair through some chemical formula and their eyes have been removed. It’s going to take months to find out who these children are.” I moved down the line of tables to one child that looked familiar to me. “From what we know, he is the oldest of the bunch and probably one of the first ones taken.” He had a mole above his lip on the right corner of his mouth. I put one hand on his head, the other on his chest and gave him a kiss on the forehead as my tears fell. “Tell your mother I love her and I miss her.”


© Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus, 2014-20–. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Horseshoe Men

The dew set over the field as we watched the fires off in the distance get brighter with each passing minute. The field rations went bad a few days ago and only a few rabbits and squirrels were found in the woods next to and behind us. We were all tired after digging in and preparing for the skirmish that was coming. Earlier in the day a few of us had snuck into the English artillery camp down the river and stole a mortar, as well as a carriage containing gunpowder and ammo. We burned the bridge on the way back to give us some time. Our unit had taken heavy losses in the past few days, not only in personnel but morale. Our militia captain who was tasked with putting us together seemed to have a plan, but none of us are soldiers like him. He did not condone us stealing from the English but the few of us who could see what was happening had to do something. We supported the regular army in a large scale fight, it was an ambush and the entire outfit died in the fighting. We few that made it out began to move towards the rally point if anything went wrong with the battle. The English forces are relentless though, with every passing day they get closer and closer to us. One of our guys says he saw a scout across the field just before the sun disappeared behind the trees. We have our own scout set to come back after the night has fully set in to see if the English army is going to make a surprise attack tonight.

Time passed slower with every waking moment until someone emerged from the field, running in our direction. The few of us on watch readied our rifles and waited for him to get closer. Halfway across the field, we could see that it was our scout coming back. To ease everyone, he revealed that the English army had settled in for the night. He did tell us however that as he got close to their camp, he heard many of them talking about their attack at first light on us. We woke the captain and told him the news, he made the decision to wake the camp and grab the shovels. The rest of the night was spent digging up earth and creating a ridge for us to shoot from so we had cover from enemy rifle lines. We made a horseshoe defense around the mortar that was stolen, creating almost full coverage for the artillery that would, in hopes, keep the enemy from getting too close. We will have the advantage when the battle begins, the sun will rise from behind us, causing the English regulars to be blinded on their approach and aim. Hopefully, this will give us enough time to get a feel for where all their troops are and how they plan to attack.

The dew on the ground shined like a field of glass at first light as the drums in the distance began to play. Time went on and the sound of the enemy got closer. Just before the sun made it over the trees behind us a chorus of thunderous booms was heard, shortly followed by numerous cannonballs ripping through the trees at the other end of the field. All falling short just after the tree line. The drums got even louder and another volley flew through the trees, this time coming closer but not quite halfway. One of them hit the ground and bounced, exploding in the air and sending shrapnel in all directions. The artillery fire stopped and so did the drums, we could hear orders being shouted in the distance but couldn’t make out what was being said. After some time had passed we began to see the English regulars coming through the trees, forming lines as they made their way into the field. We looked to our captain for orders, he motioned to keep quiet, hold fire and stay down. Word passed through our lines that we were to wait until they got within a certain range to hit them. We were low on ammo and our rifles were not exactly military issued. Most of us brought our hunting rifles when the militia formed, very accurate, but the range was not the best on them.

As their ranks filled the field, we were outnumbered ten to one, they sent their entire company of regulars after us. The Captain motioned to load the mortar and aim it as close to us as possible. Giving them the idea that we had close-range artillery support. We were still sitting quietly, loaded and ready to fire, waiting for the order. The Captain looked over the mound we all hid behind, he motioned for the mortar to open fire. With a single loud boom, the mortar round shot up into the air, coming back down right on top of their first few ranks. “MAKE READY!” The Captain began barking out orders across the lines as we moved up the mound and drew a line of sight on our targets. The English didn’t even stop moving, they just kept coming closer, stepping on the ones that died in the initial attack. They didn’t even seem human, blank expressions and hollowed eyes. The mortar fired again, hitting the same spot, cutting off their front ranks from the next platoon. “FIRE!” The shots let off altogether, dropping every man in the front ranks. “RELOAD!” The Captain clearly had a plan, at the rate we were going, if we held, the English wouldn’t stand a chance against us. After the second mortar strike, the English began to spread out. We could hear their commanders barking orders as they regrouped and formed new ranks.

In the calm of battle, our Captain moved us around, pulling every other man in our line and placing them around the sides of mortar. “Anyone that makes it past, you guys are the backup. They come over that mound, you shoot. They come around the sides through the trees, you shoot. Understood men!?” An array of yes sirs came from the newly positioned militiamen. The fighting raged on for most of the morning before the English withdrew behind the treeline, disappearing in the gunpowder smoke that lay stagnant on the field. Most of us took the time to reload, take a bite of food, drink some water and pee. The artillerymen modified the mortar so that it could fire almost straight into the air, being able to drop rounds right in front of us if needed. As they were finishing one of them let out a holler. “CAPTAIN!” The captain moved to the back of our position to see what the problem was. A young boy hid just out of sight behind us in the trees. The captain ordered a few men to go get the boy and bring him back. They got the boy after he ran when they began closing in on him. Once brought back the captain noticed he carried a sealed correspondence from the colonial regulars. He was still just a boy, barely able to level the pistol he carried. “Captain, we heard your shots this morning off in the distance. A letter got out from your battle the day prior, we are half a day away, hold fast, reinforcements are coming.” It was signed by another Captain of a militia unit, someone he knew from prior service.

It was a relief to hear that we were not lost in this war. As the rotation continued for the watch to see if the enemy was coming back, we noticed them picking up their dead and their gear, moving them back behind the trees. The captain was informed of their activities and ordered us to shoot anyone that came to get the dead. Most of us had severe problems with this, but the captain broke it down. “Each one we kill, in battle or not, is one less we have to fight on the field when they come back.” This did make sense, but some of the men still had a problem with it. Though we did as we were told, dropping one after the other. Eventually, they stopped showing up to get their dead. Instead, just before the sun went behind the trees again, a man with a white flag came through from across the field. He wasn’t wearing a red coat, he didn’t have a rifle or any other gear, just a white flag and a letter outstretched. The Captain leveled his rifle and drew a line of sight on the messenger. “Captain! He has a white flag and is unarmed!” He laughed and lowered his rifle, “I was only joking, I’m not going to shoot the messenger.” As he got closer to us, we could see him shaking in his boots. The man was terrified, alone and unarmed. “That’s close enough lad. Set the letter down and walk away.” The man stopped, set the letter on the ground, dropped the flag and ran back to the tree line. “He’s no longer a messenger, shoot him.” No one picked up their rifle, we all knew it wasn’t right. The Captain picked his up, drew his line of sight and fired a shot. The man hit the ground just before he made it halfway back, his blood soaked through his white shirt.

The letter was retrieved seconds after and given to the Captain. “To whom it may concern. The execution of men outside of combat for retrieving the bodies on the field will not be tolerated. If this continues, your commanding officer will be notified and action will be taken against your unit. We are all gentlemen, monstrous action will not be condoned in combat!” The Captain threw the letter in one of the fires that were around our camp. He peered over the mound off into the tree line where the English had retreated to. “Men, be prepared for a full on attack tomorrow morning. The English are not happy with us.” The night carried on with a continuous rotation of men on watch, most of us had a hard time sleeping anyways. We knew that what we did today was not the way that war was conducted, much less after the battle, us shooting those trying to retrieve their dead. We were sure that if anyone else found out about this, we would be court-martialed and possibly hung for war crimes. We don’t know the rules of war, we are regular every day hard working people that joined the fight for our freedom. There was a lot of talk about getting out of the fight as soon as our reinforcements showed up, they didn’t sign up for this sort of thing. When my rotation came for the watch I knew that the sun would be up by the end and the day would begin, as well as another long battle. The night finally calmed down and most everyone was asleep or trying to get some kind of rest. I could faintly hear the English talking across the field, but their fires lit up the night sky behind the trees. I couldn’t see anyone in the tree line, but I felt like we were being watched and for good reason though.

The night came to an end and the sun started to pierce the sky, shining light onto the field and revealing what lay just inside the tree line. I motioned for one of the others on the other side of the mound to come to me. “Look out over the tree line, the sun is still coming up but tell me what you see.” He scanned the tree line, the sun constantly giving us more light and suddenly he lost color in his face. “They are all around us…” I patted him on the back. “Go and quietly wake the camp, get the Captain first.” He nodded and quietly moved through the men laying on the ground until he made his way to the Captain. He proceeded with whatever orders the Captain had given him, waking the rest of the camp on the way. Everyone was quick to get up and get into their positions, even the artillery team joined us in the ranks. As we got ready for the battle, we noticed the English began moving in on us. The man the Captain gave orders to was gone and two of the militiamen began moving barrels of gunpowder and mortar balls all around the center of the camp. Once in position, they started to tie fuses together, making them all meet in the middle to one main fuse. It took some time, but the English also took their time getting into position with every step they took towards us, eventually surrounding all three sides. The Captain looked towards the tree line, selected a few men and gave some orders. He did this multiple times until he finally got to me and the few men that were in my position. “Here is what’s going to happen. The men in the rear, covering the sides of the mortar are going to retreat into the tree line after everyone else takes their first shot. Following that, when they are reloading, the men that pulled back will make a few shots to draw attention away from everyone else. Once reloaded, the men in the middle closer to the front will fall back into the trees between when you guys fire and then when the men that are in the trees fire. Once they have made it into the woods, I want you, men, to wait until they are almost on top of us, shoot the closest one and then make a break for the woods. Once you make it back, reload your rifles, the others know what to do. You will fire in sets of three, giving me as much cover as possible while I light the fuse and run for the tree line.”

We waited for the order from our Captain to begin the covering retreat. “FIRE!” Our first volley of shots worked better than expected, dropping almost everyone in their lines. The men in the rear made a break for the trees and escaped undetected. We reloaded, listening to the English commanders bark more orders, sending in more and more men to overtake our position. Our second volley did little to nothing to their ranks, they had anticipated our shot and made sure that enough men could push forward. Our second set of men that made the retreat got half way before the English noticed them running, opening fire as quickly as possible in their direction. Our men in the woods fired back, giving them cover as they made it behind the tree line. As we reloaded and the English got closer the few men left and the Captain was ready for the last push. With each of us carrying two loaded pistols and a rifle, we popped up over the mound, pistols in hand and each shot two men. Their bodies fell backward onto the others, causing them to stop. We dropped the pistols and high tailed it to the tree line while the captain stayed behind. Once at the tree line the men had assembled in a line to cover the Captain. We joined them on each side, spreading our attack. It seemed like only a moment had passed before the English had surrounded the Captain on the mound, all pointing rifles down at him as others made their way over and around, surrounding him on all sides. We did as we were ordered, firing in volleys of three with enough time for everyone to get reloaded and shoot again, just after the last volley was fired. The men on the mound were the first to go, followed by the ones closest to us. The English just kept pouring in one after the other until their entire unit was in the campsite. We didn’t have enough ammo to take on all of them and there was no way the Captain was going to be able to get out.

An old man on a horse came from around the horseshoe mound that surrounded the mortar and the position we had once held. We all kept our rifles pointed at them, I was aiming for the man on the horse. He moved through the English regulars while mounted unit he reached the Captain. “Ah, very well then, you must be the leader of this outfit. Well, you were the leader, they have all abandoned the fight now I see.” He looked around and laughed, the regulars all let out a small chuckle. “I see you managed to put my mortar to good use, I admire your tactics and skill, although the shooting of my men that were trying to retrieve our dead was monstrous. Above all, the execution our my personal messenger that I sent up here with that letter last night was completely uncalled for. No one shoots a messenger, they are unarmed and are not subject to any of the terms of war, they can’t even be held prisoner, only their contents can be taken.” The man on the horse carried on about how well of a battle this was and how much of a shame it was that the Captain was not fighting for King and Country, saying he would make a great general one day. Although he will not make it that far because of the way things went down on the battlefield. He drew his Sabre and pointed it at the Captain, “Kneel before me and swear your loyalty to the crown and I will make sure they don’t kill you. Give up any information as to the whereabouts of your brethren and the continental army and I will personally make sure that you are given a promotion and put on my staff.” We couldn’t see the Captain but we definitely heard him give the man on the horse a piece of his mind about the King and England. Before anything else could happen, I took my shot at the man on the horse, he slumped over the front and hit the ground. The surrounding men, shocked by what had happened were lost in the confusion, no one shoots a high ranking officer.

At that moment we heard the Captain talking to the English. “Lower your weapons or I drop this torch on this barrel and we all die.” Most of them began to lower their weapons, it was easy to tell that a majority of them did not want to fight this war, they were forced to. One of the English regulars rallied them back together and they raised their weapons at the Captain again. At that very moment, we could hear trumpets coming from all sides. The Colonial army had finally arrived, surrounding the entire horseshoe mound and everyone in it. The Captain spoke again, “Nobody wants to die for someone across the world, drop your weapons, it’s over guys.” They all put down their guns and we came from the trees to gather them together in one spot on the field. We let them keep their provisions, even their field knives so they could eat their food. They weren’t bad people and they knew we weren’t bad people either. We all were just doing as we were told, some of us wanted to, others got drafted into it. At the end of the day when the Colonial army set up camp in the field, each member of the remaining English regulars unit gave up the information they had on the English’s plans, what they had, where their locations where and how many people they had. All in exchange for their freedom and a pardon for actions during the war. They were held as prisoners in a camp at the back of the lines by our headquarters, doing simple tasks. Tending to horses, fixing equipment, building structures. All of them gladly doing it, they all got food and their own tents to sleep in but where still under watch by guards encase they tried to escape. They would be freed by the end of the war. The Colonial army asked if any of the Militiamen wanted to join them in taking the last place the English held. It was only a weeks march to Yorktown where we would meet up with General Washington and the rest of the Continental army and French troops. The end of the war was in sight and I wanted to be there when it ended, I leave at first light.



© Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus, 2014-20–. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Resident(s)

“From the start we all thought it was him that was responsible. He came in from work that Friday with his windows down and his SUV’s sound system turned on max.” “What was he playing?”  The judge looked at the accused in question. “Phantom of the Pines, its a song that was produced by country artist “Ryan Upchurch”. This was the first detail given when the officers showed up to the crime scene.” The prosecutor played the song in its full duration for the courtroom to hear. “Your honor, my clients taste in music is in no way, a reflection of who he is. He doesn’t have a single mark on his record. Twenty-five years old with a solid work history and numerous good remarks from everyone we spoke to.” The judge took his glasses off and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “How does the defendant plead? And ma’am, from his own mouth.” I stood up and before I could get a word out the prosecutor blurted another statement out. “His height alone is proof that it was him!” The judge angrily slammed the gavel down “Speak out again and I will throw this case out!” He motioned for me to speak. “Not guilty, your honor.” I looked at the clock behind the judge, we have been in court for almost twelve hours. “The court and jury will retire for the evening and be picked back up same time tomorrow. Dismissed.” The judge slammed the gavel one last time. The numerous people on the prosecutors side of the courtroom where shaking hands, laughing and getting to know each other just a little more. This was the third time in a week I sat in this courtroom with the same judge, same jury, the same onlookers. The provided lawyer rubbed my shoulder as she walked past me. “I know your innocent.”

I was escorted back to my holding cell in the county jail. Heckled by the other inmates as I made my way through the halls. One of them spoke from his bed as I walked by. “I know his kind, you’ll never find any proof that he did it, even if he admits to it, nothing will stick.” I stopped to look at him, the officers pulling on me to keep moving. He was an older man, covered in ink with scars on his face. “MOVE!” The officers finally got me moving again. Once in my cell, I heard them talking about how I was mentally ill and that I was a monster. They didn’t try to hide their conversation from anyone either. I couldn’t help but listen to the others in the surrounding cells talk to each other. Everyone had a cellmate except me, as the police chief put it “He doesn’t deserve human contact, he is too dangerous.” This was perfectly fine with me, I didn’t like people all that much. I left an industry of work where I had to be super nice and polite to people that would no sooner spit in my face than look at me. Yet I was in their homes, for hours, multiple times in the course of a year. I knew what they drove, where they lived, their family history, how much money was in their banks and all the way down to the type of water they stocked their pantry’s with. I settled down in a job with people who were significantly older than me and only really spoke when the conversation was good or they needed something. I stayed inside, working, kept to my own thoughts and my music. It was a nice change of pace, I got to spend more time with my fiance. That alone made my life so much better, I couldn’t stand being away from her for so long at my last job. She can’t even be here for the trial, she’s still recovering in the hospital.

The next day at the trial, only about an hour into it, the judge stated that they have someone who could either put me away or clear me. “I ask that everyone remain quiet during this. The individual could not attend the trail, they have been given a series of questions that both sides have asked. The individual will answer all of them.” The person on the phone began to speak, their voice masked for obvious reasons and played throughout the chamber. “Do I feel like he did it? No I don’t believe he did.” I heard the lips smack of those on the prosecutors side. “Is he capable of doing it? Without a doubt, but not without good reason.” I heard the prosecutors side snickering as the jury let out small gasps. “Is he an evil person? Everyone is capable of being evil at times in their life if pushed to that point.” The courtroom fell silent and deep thought was had by all. “Does he have the knowledge to do what happened? His mind is capable of anything.” The questions went on for almost an hour until the judge ended the call and resumed the trial. “With this new knowledge about the defendant I ask that both sides and the jury heavily consider this new information.” The prosecutor demanded that I take the stand, she had been writing down notes during the phone call. “We have in possession some things from your apartment..” She motioned for one of the officers to bring a large black trash bag from a cabinet. The officer pulled a gallon ziplock bag out to reveal a dark grey mask. “Is this your mask?” I leaned forward to the microphone. “Yes” She motioned for the officer to keep pulling items. “This was also recovered from your apartment after the incident. Research tells that this is what is known as a “Ghillie Suit”, something hunters use to remain invisible in wooded areas. Is this yours as well?” Still leaning forward “Yes that is mine. Are you next going to produce my hunting rifle and my bag that I take into the woods with me during hunting season?” The judge tapped the gavel a few times. “Ma’am where are you going with this?” She put one finger up as she pulled a CD from her briefcase. “Your honor, with your permission I would like to play this for the jury to see.” The judge motioned for her to play the CD. “In this video pulled from a surveillance camera on the complexes property, you will see this man, with mask and suit on moving in and out of the pond that resides behind the administrative building. No audio is available, however in one scene it gets a clear view of this man. Proving that he was in fact the one who committed these atrocities.”

The video was only a few minutes long, you could hardly see anything in the darkness but the prosecutor continued to ramble her case. The judge finally stopped her and asked me, again, how I plead. “Not guilty, your honor.” He looked over to the benches. “Has the jury reached a conclusion yet?” The jury looked terrified, their designated spokesperson trembled when he spoke. “N-No your honor, most of the jury feels uncomfortable making this decision on such a terrifying case.” The judge, visibly annoyed slammed his gavel down once more. “The court is adjourned, Jury you have till tomorrow morning to make a decision or all of you will be held in contempt.” The prosecutor flew up from her chair, storming out of the room. The jury made their way into their conference room to deliberate their findings and come to a decision. I, like usual, was escorted back into the holding area. “You didn’t do it did you?” One of the officers asked me while moving me through the building. “I’m sure your not supposed to talk to me officer.” The other officer spoke out, “Ya It’s not such a good idea to talk with the accused.” He looked at me with pity in his eyes. “Sorry bud, this has got to be rough for you.” I shook my head in agreement and that was the extent of talking until I got back to my cell. “Get some sleep, we are back at in the morning man.” They took the cuffs off me and left with haste. The hours dragged on and the sun was finally down, darkness fell over this great city once more. “Dammit Thomas.” My head in my hands as the tears rolled down my face. “Why did you do this to me!? Why did you come back!?” Reality was setting on pretty thick at this point and it looked like I was never getting out. I cried myself to sleep that night, begging that Thomas find me a way out of here.

I woke before the sun came up, the smell of coffee filled the holding area. “Just the way you like it” I looked to the cell doors as my lawyer stood there with a cup of coffee, passing it through the bars for me. “Thanks, do we have a verdict for what’s going to happen to me?” She shook her head, she knew she couldn’t win this. “I’m sorry, I don’t think there is a way out of this for you.” The officers showed back up, following procedure I turned around, putting my hands through the opening as my lawyer took the coffee.. “Last time bud.” The door opened and they let me walk alone with my lawyer on my arm. The courtroom was colder than before, the weather must have dropped overnight. “All rise.” The courtroom officer spoke as the judge made his way to his chair. He tapped his gavel a few times. “Welcome back everyone, can the prosecutor and defender please step to me.” The two went to the judges chair, words were exchanged in private, they shook hands and returned to their chairs. “Please be seated.” Everyone got settled in and the judge went through his papers one time. “Please bring in the displays for the jury to view one last time.” The officer went and got the large boards with the printed crime scene photos on them. “The first image is one we have all scene before.” The officer pulled the cover off the photos. “Time puts this as the first person to be killed.” A vivid image showed a man hanging from the roof of a third story building with his arms and legs cut open, hanging by his neck in a noose made from metal chains. Some members of the chamber gasped and I think I heard someone start to get sick. The next image was displayed. “This is the next victim that was found. In the trees surrounding the accused apartments building. Not to far from the hung man.” The image showed a man with his eyes cut out, jaw physically detached from his skull, hanging by tendons. He was crucified to a tree in the same way jesus was to a cross, a rope tied tight around the throat to keep the head lifted. A member of the jury puked on the floor and was escorted from the courtroom. The judge motioned for the third and final photo to be revealed. “This was the third victim found, hanging over the middle of the pond behind the administrative building.” The images showed a man with his wrists threaded with rope and hanging from a branch of a tall tree. His torso cut open from chin to groin with his genitals shoved inside his mouth and entrails hanging out. His feet were flensed apart with precision work and the bones exposed. Someone in the courtroom began sobbing. “With these images fresh in the jury’s mind, I implore you to come to a decision. We will take a two hour recess and meet back for the final decision.”

When the trial resumed the judge looked concerned. “Please lets be seated. A new development has been found.” A man in a black suit came from the back of the courtroom with a stack of papers for the judge. “Plug this in and bring up the images.” The officer plugged in a small USB drive and the projector showed a picture on a sidewall of a man with strikingly similar features as mine. “Thomas Edmonson, he lived in a third floor apartment, two floors above yours.” The man in the image had brown eyes, I had blue. He had a shaved head and I had long hair. I had glasses and he didn’t. I was six feet nine inches tall and he was seven feet tall. I weighed 290lbs and he weighed 265lbs. The prosecutor slammed her briefcase on the table and stood up. “This is absurd! That is him! We are one hundred percent sure that the man in the image is this man right here!” The judge let her outburst go, as he was in shock too. My lawyer stood up to speak. “Your honor, with this new evidence, is there any DNA confirmation that the man in the image is the one who committed these crimes?” The judge flipped through the paperwork that was presented to him. “There was no DNA of his on the items recovered from the apartment.  This next image was taken from a walk up ATM from a bank around the corner only minutes before the first responders showed up on scene.” The tension in the courtroom lowered. The judge pointed at me. “Which means that this man is innocent.” The judge looked to the jury for a response as well. “Your honor, with this new information, we have a unanimous vote that this man is innocent.” The gavel came down with a thunderous boom. “The judge and jury find you innocent, you are free to go sir. Officer please remove his restraints and see that he gets his belongings.” The prosecutor was in outrage about the results, screaming that she knew it was me. ”SHE TOLD ME IT WAS YOU!” One of the officers had to escort her from the courtroom. “Come here son.” The judge motioned for me to approach. “I don’t know what happened, or why it happened. I better never see you in my courtroom again, clear?” “Crystal sir.” My lawyer left the courtroom with me and the officers so I could get my belongings.

A few days later the prosecutor was found dead in her home. A cigarette that was left lit in her hand when she fell asleep set fire to the bed she was sleeping in. Prescription pills and a half drank glass of wine remained in the bathroom counter of her house. Her carelessness and obsession lead to her own death. Her kitchen table was spread out with files and photos of everything in the case with a sticky note on top “REOPEN”

Officers went to the apartment complex a few more days after her death to take the man on trial back into custody for fear of fowl play. They also went to the unit that “Thomas Edmondson” lived to arrest him. They were both gone, no trace of them ever living there existed.

The fiance of the accused was checked out of the hospital the day the trial ended. All medical bills with a forwarding address had disappeared after she left.

Three months after the trial ended, the death of the prosecutor, the disappearance of the two residents and the fiance checking out, a package was delivered to the judges doorstep. Upon opening the package the judge found seven stacks of money with Twenty-Five Thousand count bands wrapped around them. Under them was three files with the names of the three men who were victims of the crime. Elaborate descriptions of who they were, their financial troubles, criminal records and affiliation to the accused. A photo of the prosecutor with a note on the back “The wicked shall be brought to justice” and a small USB drive. The USB drive had four video files with audio..

File1: The video showed the accused slip out through his office window that he had turned into a push out door for easy exit, giving him direct access to the woods. Upon closing the window a man walked into his apartment. He scaled the side of the building to the third floor office window to the unit that Thomas lived in. He pulled the window open into a dark apartment. The film ended for a few seconds and then resumed. The man filming was upside down looking into the porch of his first floor apartment, the living room was dark and the reflection on the glass showed a terrifying figure in a ghillie suit looking in. Suddenly the lights turned on as the fiance got home. The man hid while she got undressed, showered and opened the back door to the screened in patio. The man hiding snuck up behind her. He attacked her and got her pinned against the railing and screen, he tried to rape her. With a fluid motion the man watching from upside down broke through the screen, pulling the man out of the patio like a scene from a horror film. The fiance fell, hitting her head on the concrete. The man began screaming as he was hoisted into the air by his neck. The man that pulled him from the patio had slipped a chain noose around his neck as he pulled him through the screen. With the man climbing back up the side of the building, the weight lifted the hung individual off the ground, all the way to the roof of the building. He wrapped the chain around a ventilation shaft and pulled the man onto the roof. The video showed the man and his arms and legs being cut open, just enough to make him suffer as he strangled. The knife work was quick and the man was shoved off the roof to hang. The sounds of him trying to scream was like listening to a calf take its first breaths. The video ended after the sounds stopped.

File2: The video opened with the second victim looking through the trees with a flashlight and a gun. The accused man kept dashing behind, back and forth. Eventually grabbing his attention and causing him to turn back in the direction he came. The man stopped when he heard a whisper “You shall know the truth…” The man lowered his flashlight and spoke “And the truth shall-” his body flew up from the ground as he took another step. Triggering a pressure trap, knocking him out as his head smacked the hard dirt. The video stopped for a few seconds and then resumed. It opened back up with a man screaming as his eyes were being carved out of his head with what looked to be a ceremonial blade of sorts. A rope tied around his neck, his wrists nailed to the tree by railway spikes. “And the truth shall set you free…” He stuck his hand into the mans mouth, grabbing his lower jaw. With a push off from the tree a sickening “POP!” was heard as the man’s lower jaw was ripped from its placing, leaving it there to hang. The man, still alive as he hung from the tree could be heard crying, trying to beg for mercy. The video faded out with the sounds of the struggling man.

File3: The video was dark for a while, with only a few bits being visible and the sounds of water being pushed. The third victim was getting closer to the pond, panning back and forth with his flashlight, quietly calling out the others names.Every time his light left the accused man he moved in closer until he was just at the edge of the pond. He grabbed his feet , pulling them from under him and dragging him into the pond. The muffled sounds of him trying to breath and choking on water was all that could be heard for a few minutes in the video until it went silent and the film stopped. It resumed with the man vomiting up water as he hung from a tree branch. His wrists cut open with rope fed through them and tied to the thick branch. The ceremonial blade was shown again as it cut into the man’s neck and dragged down to his groin, exposing his organs and entrails. The knife cut his pants open and proceeded to remove his genitals. With one hand he grabbed the glob of bloody flesh and shoved it into the mans mouth.“Awake, arise or be forever fall’n.” The man cut the rope holding him next to the third victim, falling into the water, ending the video.

File4: The video opened from a third person perspective. Showing Thomas standing over a bed where the prosecutor lay sleeping. “Wake up” The woman in the bed stirred and he leaned over her body to her face. “Wake and be forgiven.” The woman woke and struggled to move but couldn’t. Her voice could just barely be heard. “Please…. I’m sorry, Thomas, don’t do this.” The man over her moved back and stood up. “Thomas doesn’t exist.” The video showed the man pulling something from his eyes and flicking them out. From his pocket he produced glasses and put them on. “I have to say, your good. You almost had me.” She began to cry and mumble words. “Why can’t I move..”  The man pointed to the plant in the corner of her room as he pulled a thick prosthetic head piece off, revealing a full head of hair underneath. “Giant Hogweed, its stem contains a paralyzing agent that lasts for a few hours when liquified and injected. It is a pretty plant though, isn’t it?” She tried shaking her head in agreement “Y-Y-Yes” He pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, pulled one and lit up, taking a long drag. The light in the room showed white latex gloves on his hands. “How much did she pay you?” She gave up on the tears and feeling bad for herself. “One Hundred-Seventy five thousand for your life to be ruined and be imprisoned.” The man shook his head, “Shes done well for herself. It’s a shame she didn’t tell you who I am.” She took a deep breath, “She said you were death.” He laughed, “No doll, just deaths resident.” He pulled her hand from under the covers and pushed it deep into the bedding. He pulled another cigarette from the pack, lighting it with the one that was about to go out. “You’ll feel everything, just like the others did.” He took one last drag from the cigarette, giving her a drag of it, then tucked it between her fingers, burning the bedding and slowly catching fire. The film ended as the bed was engulfed in flame, her screaming in agony.

The next day the judge brought package with all its contents to the courthouse. Upon speaking with the police chief regarding what he saw, two men in black suits walked in. “Can I help you gentleman?” One handed the police chief a document and the other grabbed the box from the judge.. “Your nation thanks you for your cooperation.”

The Judge Committed suicide later that day.

The Police Chief resigned the following week




© Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus, 2014-20–. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The First Solution

‘You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?” As the handcuffs tightened around my wrists I could only regret what I had done. “Do you understand son?” The officer was gentle with me because I went without issue. “Yes sir I understand. I have nothing to say.” The officer eased me into his cruiser and smiled at me. “Everything will be alright son, I’m sure there is a justified reason behind what you did.” The officer that drove me downtown played country music the entire time we rode to the station. I grew up in this town, which made it even worse because the man that had to arrest me was the same man that tried to steer me down the right path growing up. Especially when that man has known you since you were nine years old and now you’re eighteen.
It took a few hours for them to process me. The officers doing the paperwork were shocked that I didn’t have a single mark on my record. The fact that I was facing a charge this severe for my first offense even sent the provided attorney out the door, refusing to represent me. I couldn’t help but laugh when he refused and walked out. The officer that arrested me handed me a business card. “It’s still early, I’m going to put you in holding for a few hours. You need to call her, she promised she would help you if you ended up in this position.” I nodded my head, stood up and followed him to the holding cell. Hours had passed while I thought about the things I had done to put me into this position. The officer that arrested me walked up to the cell with his clothes changed. “Come on son, it’s about that time to make the call, I want to see it done before I head home.” I stood up and put my hands through the bars for my cuffs. “That isn’t necessary, I know you’re not going to try anything, you’re not that type of man.” He opened the cell, walked me down the hall to his desk and handed me the phone.

“”Hello?” I could tell she hadn’t had her tea yet. “Its me mum, I’m downtown and I need your help please.” It was silent for a minute until she let out a long sigh. “I feared this day would come. Your such a good boy, I’ll be there in an hour. Stay strong, if not for yourself then for me.” I hung up the phone without saying a word back to her. “Well, I’ll be back tonight to see how things work out with you. Seeing as how I was the arresting officer, I will be there in court to give you as much help as I can.” He shook my hand and walked away, leaving me uncuffed, standing at his desk. I looked at the officer next to his desk and put my hands out for cuffs. “If he trusts you without cuffs then I have nothing to worry about. Let’s get you back to holding, you need to get some sleep.” I could hear the officer who took me back to my cell trying to get me before a judge the next day. In my attempts at listening I fell asleep on the hard plastic bench in holding.

“September 26th, 2011, State versus defendant. How does the defendant plead?” The lady I called began to speak on my account. I couldn’t help but watch the clock the entire time above the judge’s head. After about a half an hour of going back and forth about my case I finally stood up. The court room went silent on both sides. “Do you have something to say son?” The judge, an older man with white hair and a fixed up face gave me a stern look. “I plead guilty, there is no doubt about it. Video shows it, witnesses agree that it was me. Most of all, my fiance even said it was me. Lets not waist anymore time for these good people.” The judge had a hint of sorrow in his facial expression after I spoke. “Do you have an explanation for your actions before this court is adjourned?” My face to the floor after I spoke, not daring to look the jury in the eyes, much less my fiance on the stand. “No excuse sir.” When I looked up towards the judge I saw him rubbing his eyes under his glasses. My fiance crying so hard she could barely breath. The arresting officer came up to me with cuffs. “You did the right thing son, i’m sure this will be sorted out.” As the handcuffs tightened around my wrist again, the judgement came down. “By the state of Florida, I hereby sentence you to prison for life, with no chance of parole. May god have mercy on your soul.”
Three years later.
“Alarm Sounds” I was awoken to two guards and an inmate who I have had issues with these past few years standing outside of my cell. “This is your new bunk mate. Make friends or it’s the shoe for you.” No one in jacksonville messed with me because no one knew what I did, except for this guy. He had no idea what I did but kept on messing with me because I was bigger than him. “You let him in here, you best call the coroner.” All three of them chuckled, I never fought the guy, he would just push me from time to time and steal my smokes. “You won’t do anything to him, he’s going to be the one doing things to you!” They opened the door and uncuffed him, closing the door as soon as he stepped in. “You best get that coroner.” The inmate swung at me with what seemed like all of his force. Stepping to the side, kicking in his knee, breaking it from his lower leg. The guards fumbled with their radios trying to get control to reopen the cell. It was already too late. They screamed at me to stop, “I warned you two.” With one swift motion the inmates skull met the concrete wall, breaking open the top of his head. “Stop now or we are going to taser you!” I grabbed the inmates skull and pulled it close to my stomach in a cradling motion. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to it just happened.” As I finished my sentence I snapped the inmate’s neck. Both of the guards didn’t move due to being shocked at my lack of remorse until two other guards showed up, hitting me with tasers.
The next day I stood before a judge, yet again. This time it was a younger lady who looked as if she just got her position. “Please explain to the jury why you killed the other inmate upon being assigned to the cell you were in.” The lady who was originally on my case drove up in the middle of the night to be here to defend me. When she began to speak I stood up, stopping her before she could go any further. “Your honor, the man who I killed, was in prison for rape. Not only rape but that of a twelve year old girl.” The subtle chatter of the jury was silenced when I revealed the actions of the man I killed. The lawyer defending the family of the man who I killed sat back down with his hands on his face, he knew he stood no chance. When the judge slammed her gavel down, her solution was one that I never saw coming. “I sentence you to two years of extensive humanity therapy. You’re not a bad person, just in a bad time.” Once the ruling ended, two men in white suits escorted me outside into a van. No restraints were needed by the amount of commendations I had from the warden and prison staff, despite just killing a man.
During my two years in the Pensacola metal corrective facility, I had shown a serious commitment to humanity and wanting people to live. I created a program called “Passions Overcoming Problems” to help those who were suicidal, as well as those who were having problems that they wanted advice on. The program was open to all residents, after a year the staff started to realize that there was nothing wrong with me. The staff tried to give me luxuries that none of the other residents had. I politely refused, I was no different than anyone in here. This was because the staff was allowed to come and talk with me at any time they wanted to when I was awake about any problems that they had. The day before I was released I had my first visitor the entire time I had been through the system. One of the staff came to my room and woke me. “Hey bud, you have a visitor.” He caught me by surprise. I was thinking that it was my mother, it broke her heart when I went away. My mind was racing and my heart was beating even faster. To say I wasn’t scared would be a lie. When the door to the room opened I froze, It was her.
We sat in silence for a few minutes and then she finally spoke. “How did you even know?“ The old part of me was dead but right now he was starting to crawl out of the grave. But the grave keeper attempted to handled it with tact and skill. “The window in which you sat in front, casted a reflection onto the table. The moment he put his hand on your leg and you moved your hand onto his with compassion gave it all away. My best friend, betrayed by the woman who I gave everything for, that’s how I knew.” Before I could say anymore, Edmond, the one who I was leaving P.O.P. to when I left flew from his meeting to take me from the room. “Come now brother, everything is ok, you have nothing to fear.” The grave keeper had failed, the old me was up and walking around. Carrying a fire inside that would burn the world down. I left Edmond in charge of tonight’s session as I prepared for my departure. He called for an early morning session, eight in the morning before I left at noon. In the middle of our session I noticed a man in Marine dress blues standing at the edge of the room. “My friends, at this point I must bid you farewell and good luck on your ventures in the world. I must take my leave, thank you for giving me this opportunity to help. Brother Edmond will take over from here on out, please give him the same courtesy you gave me.” Applause and tears filled the session as I made my way to the doors. 
I walked past the military man with no notion his way. As I made my way towards the exit the Head doctor handed me my bag with everything I had. “It’s been an honor to have you sir. I hope to meet up with you again on the outside of the world. Be safe my friend.” I shook his hand and gave him a hug, he had been good to me. But now I was free at last, I worked the system to my favor, just like I was taught. Just before I reached the double doors to the outside world the man in the uniform spoke. “I’m not going to apologize for what I did. When I left, you went away not even six months later. It’s been six years to the day I left.” I stopped right as I reached the doors and let out a long hollow sigh, he spoke again. “This time when I leave, don’t you dare leave as well.” Fighting back the tears in my eyes I managed to get out a small sentence. “Does she know?” I turned to look at him as he shook his head in regret. I only had one thing to say, “It’s going to destroy her…” We took a moment to look at each other and hug, we missed each other worse than bad. He opened one of the two doors with me to show unification. I was shocked to see how many people were there to see me free at last. 
My lawyer caught me from right field with a hug and kiss on the cheek. “I knew you could hold on!” She walked with me, holding my hand as we crossed the road. I knew the massive truck in the parking lot with the three hooligans drinking beer on the tailgate, my best friends that I grew up with. Once we made it into the parking lot a Porsche flew in right in front of me, stopping me in my tracks, it was her. She stepped out, looking at me with pain and agony. She had on dark sunglasses and a scarf, reaching into her purse for something. “Catch!” She threw a roll of money at me with rubberbands around it. “This is everything you owned, I sold it after you went away and held it as closure, It’s done.” She got back into her Porsche and pulled off with thunder on her heels. I must have locked up for a while because the next thing I remember was my mother standing in front of me holding my face, more like pulling it down to look at her. “I love you son, let’s go home.” Just before everyone piled into their vehicles, my closest and most trusted of the three friends pulled the tarp off of a thing from the past. He threw me a set of keys, “You ride home.” My motorcycle, he retrieved it and held onto it for me. “Bro, how did you?” He cut me short. “Just ride her home, it’s been long overdue.” With the help of the three we pulled my bike out of his truck and I became whole again. “See you at home mom!” The man in the uniform, my brother, threw me my old helmet. “Ride safe.”
I had four and a half hours to think about everything while I rode back to sarasota. It had been a long five years, five years that I would never get back because of her. Even after five years of being apart I still loved her, even if she was the reason I went away. When I reached the house, I still knew the combination for the keypad to get into the garage of my mothers house. How could I forget, my father was the one who set it. The key ring that had my bikes keys on it had the key to the door into the garage.Once I walked in I was greeted with a furry presence. Apparently my mother had gotten two more dogs to be friends with the one she had before I went away. They yielded to me instantly and I gave them treats for their undeniable obedience, they must know that I was the keeper of hounds even after my extended absence. Not a tooth or hackle was raised in my direction, this began to feel like normal. During time period between me getting home and the rest of them I had started making dinner for everyone. When I started my deep investigation into the fridge I found my favorite beer in the bottom shelf, back left corner buried behind yogurts. “Thanks mom.” I mumbled as the chicken was grilling and the corn was boiling. Dinner was finished as they showed up and I began to plate for everyone.
I was silent during dinner as everyone told stories and laughed about things that happened recently. I was so cut off from everything that I knew nothing of their conversations. I took over dishes from my mom so that she could spend time with my brother and sister. Brother home from the Marines and sister home from Air Force college, she was loving every second of it. I finished quietly and snuck outside to take a walk and have a smoke. It had been a long time since I walked these streets I grew up on. Not much had changed, except for the blacked out mercedes that creeped up behind me. A girl jumped out and hollered my name as she jumped to hug me. After a couple of seconds I heard a man who, had a voice that would rattle the gods. “My son, I am glad to see your finally home.” I knew the voice, I grew up with it after my father passed. “Sir, I did not think you spent time in these parts anymore.” He let out a small chuckle, “I am everywhere, you should know this by now. I think something is on the table for you to say.” At this point, I knew exactly what had happened. My short sentence, the ease of my time as well as the protection I had when I was in. It all made sense now, except that I never asked for it, but I said it anyways. “Thank you sir, I could never repay you for the graciousness you showed me in my time away.” He pulled me in for a hug, “I’m sure you had your reasons, but your out now and that’s all that matters.” I didn’t know how to respond because I began to choke on my words. His daughter grabbed my hand and put her other arm around me. “It’s ok, everything’s fine now.”
I regained my composure within a few seconds. “What do I need to do to repay the debt.” He knew that I knew the game and how to play it. “One of two things, one which I have now and another which I will call upon you later if needed.” As I looked at this powerful man his daughter left my side and walked past him, he caught my glance at her. “You can have her if you want, I won’t say a word about it as long as you treat her like a queen.” By god if I didn’t see a trap in its finest form. “No sir, she has just changed so much over the years that I am in awe at how beautiful she has become. She will make a man much more respectable than I very happy one day.” He smiled and turned to walk back to his car. “Part of me doesn’t believe that, but at the same time your statement seems genuine so thank you for that. I respect your apparent honesty.” I walked with him till he opened the door to his car. “Deal with the man that your ex fiance is with now. He’s a person who thinks he’s above the law. I want him touched. After that you only owe one more, make it so, I trust you.” As he stepped into his car I gave him the answer he desired. “Yes sir.”
As they pulled off into the streets I saw my mother standing at the end of her drive way looking up and down the street for me. I flicked my cigarette into the gutter before I started walking back home. Even though her and I butted heads before I went away, she still loved me and she was still my mother. Always trying to mother me because I was her youngest. “It’s time for bed, you need to shower and get some sleep, I already made your bed.” It was really hard to hold it together at this point, I had no one to rely on for the past six years. As I crawled into the bed that I had shared numerous times with the one who put me away, I felt alone. Staring up at the ceiling all night, going in and out with nightmares that seemed so real that they might as well have been. Before I went away my mother would always wake me up early to take care of the dog, this time she let me sleep till I woke up to the smell of coffee and cinnamon rolls. She always made them when she was happy, they really did bring a sense of hope and joy into my life. Things went well all morning until about mid day when the doorbell rang. “I got it!” I hollered through the house as I walked up to those red french doors. I felt my heart stop and try to jump start itself once I opened the door. It was her little sister, now much older and extremely upset. The first thing I noticed on her was the index and middle finger on her right hand that was a little darker than the rest of her hand. “Walk with me darling.” I closed the door and put my arm around her shoulders as we walked off through the neighborhood. She didn’t say a word to me until I pulled out my smokes. “Can I have one please.” I handed her a cig and flipped my zippo out to lite it for her as I lit mine off hers. “The last time I saw you, you told me that I was the worst decision your sister ever made, six years i’ve thought about that.” We just walked through the neighborhood as she smoked the entire cigarette in record time. The walk was silent from that point on until we got back to my mothers house. “I want to ride on your bike with you, I want to feel what she felt.” 
I was not sure how to take it but I gave her what she requested. I put her on the back of my bike and we rode around the city for a few hours until she finally broke down. “When I was younger I hated you because you took my sister from me, she was my best friend. I slowly began to realize that the devil I perceived you as was nothing compared to the man she is with now.” I pulled off to the park that was close to my mothers house and put the kickstand out. “The one thing you should know about devils is that when an angel falls for one and thinks they fixed them, they search for another to fix. It was both of our faults for what happened.” I climbed off and pulled a bottle of jack out of my saddle bag. “Take a drink from this then talk to me.” I handed her the bottle as she sat on the back of my bike still, I walked off to give her a few minutes. From a hidden distance I watched as she drank as much as she could stomach before she took one of my cigs off my pack I left in the cup holder. I let her smoke that down and take another drink before I walked back up. “This was not some random visit. You came to me because you have a problem, just like everyone else does. The fact that you brought up your sister means that she is in danger and you want me to help.” She sat there quietly not saying a word. The look on her face I learned from a few of the people in the system I was with showed that she was blank. She had no clue how to handle the things that were happening in her life. She wanted the devil that her sister knew and tried to save before I slipped and went away. “I’ll take you back to my mother’s house so you can eat, nap and then head home.” 
I wasn’t shocked that she could handle her liquor. I wanted her to sleep on the couch upstairs but she managed to make her way into my bed as I was helping my mother. She slept the rest of the day and almost the night. I kept drinking, I missed the feeling. I fell asleep at my desk, I don’t know when I passed out but I do remember her waking me up and pulling me into bed. I thought it was her, I thought the past six years was a bad dream and I was crawling back into bed with my at the time girlfriend who couldn’t sleep without me by her side. I didn’t put up a fight and I snuggled right up against her, in the same bed that I had shared with my now ex fiance. The moment she tried to get intimate with me I snapped out of the trance I was in and realized what was going on. “Stop. I know this is what you want but I’m sorry, I can’t do this. Not now, not here and not ever. You caught me off guard but this isn’t going to happen.” She smiled at me and began to take her clothes off, “How can you resist this when you’ve been away for so long?” As a male who loves women this was someone who I could never cross the line with no matter what. “Put your clothes back on. I’ll be upstairs if it’s an emergency. If not then I will see you in the morning.” As I got out of my bed and walked out of the room I heard her sigh so hard that it sounded like a truck had lost its air ride suspension. I knew she wasn’t happy but this was someone who looked so much like her, smoked the same cigs she did, talked and acted like she did. The silence of the house as these things ran through my head kept me up most of the night until my brain finally shut down.
I woke up to her completely topless sitting in front of me with a cup of coffee in her hand for me. “Put some clothes on, I don’t need or want to see you like this. You seriously need to stop this. It will never happen no matter what the conditions are, you’re like a little sister to me.” She handed me my coffee and reached around to grab her shirt. Not like it helped because it was see through and I know she did it intentionally. She sat in front of me quietly as I made phone calls trying to find out where my ex fiance now lived so that I could finish this one of two objectives that I had been tasked with. During this time of her sitting in front of me she went down stairs and came back up producing a bottle of jameson. “I know where she lives.” She said this as she sat the bottle in my lap with her hands feeling me. I knew I wasn’t going to get the answer I needed out of her until I gave her what she wanted. With a quick thought process about the possible repercussions of what she wanted I finally acted. “Where the fuck does she live, I swear to god I’ll kill the motherfucker who’s hurting her.” With one fell swoop I had picked her up with one hand by the throat and pinned her against the wall. “You tell me and I will give you anything you want.” She didn’t seem afraid or bothered by me holding her by the neck against the wall. “She lives downtown in the…” She proceeded to grab what she wanted, i stopped her. “Tell me right now or I swear to god I will kill you here and now. You wanted this devil that your sister tried saving. The only problem is that I was born a demon from an angel who fell in love with a demon who I could never amount to, yet they made it work. So tell me now and I will do whatever you request. The color in her face began to change without a peep from her. She grabbed my face the same way that she used to and I let go. “There is a dinner tonight and she invited me plus my date. I want you to be my date and I want you to let me ride on the back of your bike so that she knows who is coming.” There was no notion of hostility to my insanity that I just snapped back into. “If tonight goes the way I plan it to, you better choke me a lot harder if you want to make your point.” She winked at me as she walked back down stairs, grabbed her things and left in her car. 
It was about five in the evening when she texted me telling me to get her in a half hour so that we could go to this dinner. I would finally have my vengeance against not only the woman who ruined my life but the man who wasn’t treating my one true love right. I made my way to those french doors that I feared I would never see again after tonight, before my mother stopped me with my brother and sister. “You are my son, no matter what you do I will always love you. Even if it is the wrong thing to do we will stand by you as a family regardless of what you’re about to do.” My sister handed me a phone with one number. “If things go south call this number after you finish and you will be fine. My brother handed me a pistol that I was never aloud to hold while growing up. “He wouldn’t want this to go on. You carry his training and spirit more than the three of us combined. Do your deed and get out.” I pushed the phone down into my left pocket and tucked the handgun into the back of my pants. I hugged all three of them and walked out the door. “Dinner is at nine right?” They all laughed and nodded in succession all while pushing me out the door. The feeling of steel against my back as I rode to pick her up gave me a plethora of solutions as well as opportunities to decide how this night ended.
Come to find out, she was living in some mansion out on siesta key. The thunder from my bike gave it away that I was coming tonight. This created a massive amount of people to walk outside to see what the racket was. As she whispered in my ear that she wanted to take care of me for the rest of my life, just as we pulled up into the driveway. The man my Ex fiance was with came outside to greet her and meet her new, more financially established boyfriend. I played the roll for the first few minutes until she walked out of the mansion. The man had no idea who I was but she knew, she knew what was about to happen. It was later at night and she was wearing a scarf around her neck as well as a heavy layer of makeup to cover the marks that were clearly visible to anyone who looked close enough. We all went inside to start with the food and later came the drinks. During dinner the man asked me “So how do you know my fiance’s little sister? She meet you at one of those hooligan rallies that you bikers always have?” I began to chuckle but she stepped in. “I’ve known him for almost seven years and he treats me right and fucks me even better.” I didn’t think she was going to go that far with it especially since that never happened. I could see the rage in her face. The man who was hosting the dinner with us and a multitude of other people were in shock at my dates vulgar tone and unfiltered response. I was just about to speak up when my date started again. “Actually this is the same guy who killed your fiance’s friend years ago in the middle of a restaurant with a butter knife. He had spent years with her only to find out that his best friend was messing around with her and she encouraged it. He found out and spent the next six years through the system all because my sister is a fucking whore who can’t stay faithful to one man. So don’t be surprised if you find out she’s cheating on you and using you for your money and a roof over her head.“ At this point I could tell that all the pieces fell together for this man’s puzzle, he was scared shitless. He managed to mumble out a few words, “Is this true dear?” I was looking across the table right at her as she hung her head in shame. “He is the one who I told you about.” The facial expression of this man went from sarcastic to terrified. “I’ve already pushed my panic button so the cops will be here within ten minutes to arrest you, your a fucking psycho.” I finally gave up and realized this was my que. The moment I stood up and drew the pistol my brother gave me. The man who was sitting next to my date pulled a knife and held it to her throat. “Drop it or I’ll kill her.” I slowly turned to look at her as she had a steak knife held to her throat. “Do it” She said as I turned to shoot the man in the head all while he slit her throat. She choked on her own blood while holding him so I could get a shot off.
Once the first round flew from the chamber of my father’s 45 caliber hand gun I began to shoot every single person around the table until I ended back to the man who was hosting the party. “Give me a reason to end you.” The man sat in disbelief next to my ex fiance. “I have aids and she is pregnant with my kid so both of them are doomed for the rest of their lives.” The look on her face was so unbearable that I froze. “I won’t live a life like this. Either you kill me now or the aids kills me and my child later down the line.” At this point I tucked the handgun in the middle of my back. “I refuse to take the life of the only woman I have ever loved. If you are true to your words then I will walk away and wait for the cops to come and arrest me.” The man with a smirk so sharp that it would pierce kevlar had gotten what he wanted. “Get out of my house you piece of shit.” I held my head in shame as I walked outside to wait for the police to come and get me. I waited about ten minutes before I saw the same man two nights before roll by in a mercedes wink at me as sirens came from the distance. At this point I had one of two options. Sit here and wait to be arrested or finish the objective I was tasked with. Before I could make a decision an officer pulled up and cut the lights and sirens. I put my hands up as he stepped out of the cruiser. The man shook his head at first, for some reason I feel as though he knew who I was. “Do as you’re told boy.” The officer said with his hand on the window of his cruiser.
With this I turned and walked right back into the house. “YOUR TIME IS NOW!” I could hear him from across the house say “Are you fucking kidding me.” as he made his way towards the door with pistol in hand. He pointed it at me and began to chuckle. “It seems that I have the upperhand now, barrel in your direction.” I slowly made my way towards him, noticing that it did not have a magazine. “You better hope i’m dead when you empty that mag.” He squeezed the trigger the moment I rushed him only to be met by a subtle “Click” to reveal that there was no bullets or magazine in the weapon. I tackled him onto the floor with such impact that the tile beneath him broke. “Goes to show you don’t know the weight of a loaded weapon to one that is empty!” With one fell swoop I broke his jaw with my right hand. “The sins you have committed against this woman shall not go unjustified!” My left hand came around to break what was left of his face. He tried to speak but could only choke on his broken teeth and the blood protruding from his mouth. My ex fiance watched in horror as I worked this man’s face into the tile floor. His body was lifeless when I stood up. “WHY!?” I screamed at her with blood dripping from my knuckles. She was shocked, “I don’t even know where to start”. As she was getting into the details on how she met him and who he was, another member of the dinner came from around the corner with a gun. “Your a fucking skank you stupid bitch!” He shot her numerous times right in front of me, as I drew my pistol once again he took his own life screaming “ETERNAL LIFE FOR THE FAMILY!” I had heard this phrase before, but it was used by a man who was part of a middle eastern terrorism group. As the woman I loved laid their on the floor choking on her own blood, I felt no remorse, “Serves you right for getting in bed with bad people.” I walked outside and my motorcycle was gone and the Black sedan was sitting there. I Opened the door and climbed inside. “Objective complete sir, I will await your next task you require of me.” We drove off in silence, I knew that he would one day call upon me. The only thing I wasn’t sure of was when he would call or what he would require, Half of my debt is paid, the other half is yet to come.


© Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus, 2014-20–. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Disillusional Vestigial Illusion

As the day started breaking through the night sky I stared down my hallway through the slotted blinds in my bedroom. I saw before me a vision of how my life would end. A gruesome end to an evil man who did the best he could to provide for a woman who didn’t love him anymore. Gunned down in a parking lot by a couple of guys..

As the day started breaking through the night sky I gazed into the color filled clouds. I saw in that moment a vision of my recovery from your fatal attempt. A miraculous recovery that doctors thought was impossible. Laying in a hospital bed for months, surrounded by everyone praying for my life. Not once did you appear, the only person I wanted to live for.

As the day started to break through the night sky I stood in my hallway watching the floors every wood grain morph. Creating a vision of life long after my recovery, filled with people I’ve never seen before. Figures that showed I was safe, figures that showed I was cared for, figures that showed I had everything I could ever dream of.

As the day started to break through the night sky my body became weak when I stood up from my desk. My entire apartment transformed into a graveyard with multiple graves dug side by side by side. I watched as everyone important to me was put into the ground together. Forever resting as a family with the ashes of my father distributed amongst the three coffins.

As the day started to break through the night sky I found myself laying on the floor in my apartment alone, understanding what the culmination of my life will be. I picked myself up and crawled into bed, checking the time. I had been down for five hours in a spiritual trance granted to me by what I can only assume is the ghosts that watch over me. Essentially breaking their own laws to protect me in the now instead of watching me suffer in the later.

As my eyes opened to the dawn of a new day, I knew everything was finally through.
I no longer need you, I no longer yearn for you and most importantly I no longer care about you.




© Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus, 2014-20–. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Deaths Dreadful Devices

You promised me it would be the only thing you ever do,
Said it was needed in order to feel like you,
It wasn’t very long before you continued to move through.

Everyone says it isn’t addictive at all,
As you did it I started to watch you fall,
It killed me when you showed symptoms of withdrawal.

But it isn’t addictive right,
That’s what they all say before it encompassed your life,
Until it’s too late and you started becoming uptight

From the fire in the bowl to the fire in the torch,
I watched you turn when you couldn’t get your high,
It was at this point I knew I had to say goodbye.

I begged you to stop what you were doing to save us,
I pleaded with your desire to make you see what had happened,
I broke everything when you didn’t want to let this go.

It had such a strong hold on you that it made you go,
I came home to an empty apartment filled with ghosts,
Only thing that remained was the smell of your many smokes.

Now time has come and gone and what we had is forever lost,
Nothing but torment and regret clouds my heart in thoughts of past,
With every passing day I know this won’t last.

Then I heard you got tired of what you needed,
You got involved with something that should have never been found,
An addiction that was fueled by those who hear no sound.

Many times in the past we talked about that one girl who crashed,
Because of a substance that made her fly,
Only for her to lose everyone because she was high.

In through the nose you felt desire,
Coating your lungs so you feel the fire,
Only so you can get higher.

Causing you to give yourself to anyone who would have it,
Even though with us there was no magic,
Now you’ve turned into something worse than tragic.

My only hope for you is that you stop now,
Before it comes to a point where you don’t know how,
But I fear that it has already come around.

Always posting online about the needing,
Never once considering what feelings you were breeding,
It won’t be long before you start screaming.

I swore I would never say this about you,
I promised I would never let the thought cross my mind in dire times,
I begged that you would get off those lines and remake you mine.

You couldn’t be bothered trying to reunify,
With this I shall once and for all say goodbye,
I wish you change your ways before your problem amplifies,
If you can’t then I hope that you die.



© Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus, 2014-20–. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Last Gentlman

During my lifetime, I have met some interesting people I’ve had complex conversations with scientists and engineers that didn’t bat an eye at my lack of educational accolades. I have convinced millionaires and a couple of billionaires to invest in certain things that they never would have batted an eye at, only to make them even more money. I have spoken with politicians about policy that has changed the lives of millions of people for the better. I have challenged industrial tyrants to change so they have better income and even greater outcome. Aside from all of this, all of the people who I have sat down and talked with. The most interesting, respectful and grateful person I have ever spoken to was hands down The Last Gentleman.


When I first met him I addressed him by the name I had and he politely, yet firmly stated that I address him as “Commander” emphasizing that he was “The Commander”. A man with heavy clout who carried immense military discipline. Standing tall at ninety eight years old, with no help of chair, walker or cane. He stood tall and proud of who he was and the things he had accomplished in his life. Ostracized from the rest of the community in which he lived, the Commander did not seem bothered by it. His walls filled with awards, decorations, trophies and a single flag which brandished the symbol of who he was was and once belonged to. The respect he showed to my partner and I was a show of class, a understanding of what it is like to earn what you have.


My partner seemed uninterested in the Commander and the things he had on his wall. I however was in awe at what he had and began to formulate who he was and the things he had done. The Commander noticed this and sent my partner away and began to speak with me. “You look like a young man who I used to know.” I heard what he said but it didn’t register at first until he spoke again. “I know it isn’t you, your genetics must have skipped two generations to recreate his image.” I didn’t know how to respond to him, he caught me off guard. “The bookshelf to your left, third shelf from the top, ledger in the middle that’s grey.” I listened to him without question, the way he spoke sank deep into my bones, almost like I was his subordinate. I pulled the book from the shelf which held a symbol on the spine that I did not recognize. “There are things that happened many years ago that the world refuses to recognize or understand.” He flipped through the pages until he reached one that had a picture laying in it. He handed it to me, “Last row, third in from the left. That is me.” Stuck in awe about what the Commander was showing me, he started to make sense. “The fourth in from the left, the man at the right of me when looking at the picture is you.”


Just as soon as he stopped speaking my partner showed up with the delivery. Once we got his new recliner where he wanted it as well as removing his old one, he let us go. “I don’t sign anything, just scribble something down and I will vouch for you that it’s my signature.” I did as he said and began to walk away, thanking him for his time and knowledge. My partner had walked out already when he grabbed my arm. The man of such age moved in a fluid motion that should not be possible. “Your next day off, come see me. I would like to talk to you more, you’re someone who I can trust.” At this point I was actually scared. “How do you know you can trust me?” He let go of my arm and bowed his head. “Because I have trusted beings that had the ability to kill us all. Promise me you will come back.” The puzzle had finally finished itself, I had read the stories, heard the rumors and saw the pictures. “I promise.”

Two days later I drove down early in the morning to see this man. The man who has kept me up, kept me thinking and researching everything I had seen and heard. It was a silent drive for me, my head was spinning with questions. I had my notebook, two pens and a mechanical pencil ready to take notes. I brought a small tape recorder with me to document the entire conversation. I parked in visitor at the community and began to head towards his unit. The butterflies in my stomach made me want to puke worse than any bad night of drinking, this was the real thing. This was the one person who would explain everything to me, to prove that I was not insane and that everything I have been through and seen was not a figment of my imagination. As I entered the building the receptionist spoke to me. “I remember you, he told me you would be coming. He is awake and awaiting your arrival.” Now if it wasn’t bad enough, it became a lot worse because he already knew that I was coming back. Yes, I did promise him that I would come back, but why trust a random person that you have never met? So I took the elevator up to the floor that his unit was on and made my way down the hall. To make a scary situation into a nightmare, when I approached his door he opened it. “It has been a long time my friend.”


At this point I was not sure if he was slowly slipping into an alzheimer state. “Good to see you Commander.” He welcomed me into his unit and brought me coffee. The way I had been drinking it for the past year, black. As I walked from his kitchen nook he started the morning. “Empty your pockets on the table. No recordings, no pictures and no names. Your pen and notebook will be all that you are allowed to use when talking to me.” I had no idea how he knew that I was planning on recording this conversation and taking pictures. His demands were clear and I respected them. I sat on a hard table chair as he relaxed in the recliner I brought just the other day. “As I said to you, there are things that this world refuses to understand and recognize. You however have seem to taken an interest into them. Just like my old friend, you are more interested in what’s happening rather than what the rest of the world chooses to believe.” The Commander began to speak more and more about everything he had been through. “The SS where children compared to us. The Fuhrer was the only one we answered to, we were immune to every law under his rule.” Trying to keep pace in my composition book with everything he was saying, he stonewalled me. “The extermination was a distraction to the world for what was really going on.” I tried to cut him off but he was determined to get this out. The look on his face was as if he was going to be killed by telling me this. “The stories about the lights over berlin, the experiments on the jewish prisoners and the subtle advancement of technology is all connected.” At this point he had me in a trance about things that happened over seventy years ago. “The lights over Berlin are exactly what you think they are. Extraterrestrial beings that we had shot down in fear of being an foreign  spy plane. The recovery efforts to see exactly what we had shot down proved more serious than a spy plane.” The trance had ended and at this point I was out of coffee, had to pee and not sure if I was in a nightmare or not. “I need more coffee, would you like more son?” I shook my head and requested the bathroom. I splashed water on my face and pinched myself to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming.


When I walked back into his living room the Luger that was on the wall inside of a case was gone and in his hands, pointed at me. “I have not used this weapon in over seventy years, do you think it still works son?” Nightmare had officially turned into death sentence. “Banking on the reliability of Luger back then and their persistence of producing a weapon that could operate after long terms of inactiveness I would say that yes, I am positive that it works still.” I slowly moved back to the table chair that I had been sitting in while speaking to him. He lowered the weapon into his lap and took his hand off of it. “After all of these years, do you really think that it is in working condition?” He looked at me a spark of insanity in his eyes as he picked up the pistol, pulled back the slide and racked a bullet into the chamber. “I know it’s in working condition, I keep it loaded at all times without a round in the chamber.” If anyone could have seen my face it would look as if I had just shit myself. This ninety eight year old man had a loaded Luger in a frame on his wall and it still worked. He pulled the magazine and racked the bullet from the chamber, stacked back into the magazine and tucked it into the side of the recliner. “HELLO!” The door flew open as a heavy set black lady entered the room. “It’s time for you to come down and spend time with the residents you old nazi bastard!” As I looked at the Commander he started to reach for the luger and I shook my head no. I walked over to the old man and shook his hand. “It was an honor to spend time with you sir.” He stood up with with spunk and shook my hand that would break stone. “You’re a good man, Sunday is field trip day, come back and we will talk again.” As I walked out of his unit I heard him tell the lady who came in, “You’re lucky the war is over or you would be dead.”


Three days later I drove back down to where he lived to spend time with him. I had a list of questions for him that I wanted answers to. I parked in the same spot and walked inside. The receptionist told me that he did not have a chaperone to take him to the gardens. With my first responder license, security license and first aid certificate she allowed him to come out under the supervision of me. I awaited his arrival as the rest of the residents were loading into the shuttle van to go a couple miles up the road. As I escorted him into the shuttle and sat next to him, all I could hear was the other residents talking about how they have never seen him with anyone or out on a field trip. We did not say a single word to each other the entire ride. Once we got to the garden and got away from the group he began to speak. “The Fuhrer had a garden like this at his hilltop mansion.” It seemed to me like he knew Hitler personally. “You knew him?” A smile came across his face that went ear to ear. “The Fuhrer and I were close friends after the recovery mission in Berlin. Many of the SS started talking about what had happen because we used them for the operation. It was my job to hunt them down and kill them so that what happened would not get out. So one day he invited my unit to his mansion and we spent the day eating, drinking and talking with him about everything. One of the things he was proud of was how far his wife had taken the garden.” It was then I realized that he was one of Adolph Hitler’s right hand men. We spoke about the beauty of Germany before the war ever came to it. “I have only one question regarding the end of the war.” The Commander seemed interested in my interest. “Ask away my friend, anything you ask you already know the answer to.” Aside from everything that I have spoken about with this man he seemed sure that I knew all the answers to the questions I had. “Did Hitler really make it to Argentina with his most trusted staff?” His facial expression said it all, without words he had proven that Hitler never died at the end of the war. He had managed to escape the country and survive the war. As we continued our walk in silence we made it back to the shuttle van, the field trip had ended. The ride back was in silence, I was shocked at what he told. Upon arrival to the community in which he lived, we walked off the shuttle van together. “Till next time my friend, In this life or the next.”

Work had picked up to the point where I was working fifteen hours a day five days a week. It had been two weeks since I went down to see the Commander. That’s when I received a phone call from someone who I have never spoken to before. “We will pick you up sunday morning at eight A.M., there will be a tan suit dropped at your apartment saturday morning so your fiance can receive it.” Before I could speak the person hung up. I called the number back numerous times until they finally picked up. A woman with a thick german accent answered. “WHAT!” Apparently I had pissed someone off. “I want to speak with your commander.” There was a silence on the other end for a few seconds. “Yes sir.” She connected to me with the man who had called me. “Can I help you?” He seemed like this was a usual thing for him. “Now you listen here, you don’t get to call me, issue orders and then hang up. I want answers and I want them now!” Yet again I was met with another period of silence. “You are not one to make demands.” I was quick with a response. “I don’t care who you are or what you are related to. If you show up to where I live, you will be met with an American force of brutality that Germany has never seen. Your bodies will be dragged out and burned in my parking lot with the vehicle you drove in.” I heard a few coughs in the background as well as a few words in German. “The Commander has passed, he requested you attend. As he said, “This young man is someone who I served with but doesn’t know it.” So please, put all hostilities aside, this is something he would have wanted, it was his dying order as the last line of power.” I did not realize or see in the papers that he had died, “I will be ready.” The phone hung up on his end.


That friday my fiance texted me about a suit being dropped off and addressed to me. I told it was an order that I had put in for a business meeting I was to be attending on Sunday. That sunday morning I woke up and made ready for the funeral. Eight on the dot a Black Mercedes Land Rover backed down the street of my apartment complex. I left, pistol underneath encase of a trap. When i opened the door to the Mercedes I was met by a man and woman who I have never seen before. The man began to speak, I cut him off because I knew his voice from the phone call. “You better choose your words wisely because I am in no mood to play games. The man sat in silence for a moment as the woman who sat next to him rummaged through a bag, pulling out a coffee and handing it to me. “Black as The Commander said you liked.” Then continued to go through the bag until she pulled out a small package which held a blueberry bagel with regular cream cheese. “Your receipts at the grocery store show that you buy these two things at the same time so we assumed you like them, I hope it is right.” This was the first time some who who I assumed doesn’t know me got what I like to eat for breakfast right. We drove for almost an hour until we reached an older looking cemetary. Something that looked like it was built in Germany for royal family. The amount of people who where there was astounding.


During the funeral there was a few people who caught my eye. One was a tall girl who looked in the early twenties that kept looking at me. The other was an older man in a wheelchair sporting an old WWII uniform from Germany with all of his medals and ribbons on it. He was surrounded by men in suits with what looked like concealed weapons. At his side was a massive dog that looked like a german shepherd wolf hybrid. This beast would not let anyone near him unless he said it was ok. The men in the suits stayed by him at all times. The other was a man who looked like me, strikingly similar all the way to the height.  He stayed a good measure away from me and was in a black suit. As far as the tan suit, I was one of nine who was in tan. Further research revealed that during the war only the smartest and most trusted had tan uniforms. This did not come to me until a couple of days after attending. I was welcomed as if I was one of their own. No one was rude to me, everyone made sure that I had a drink in my had and if I was comfortable. There was easily over five hundred people that attended this funeral. It seemed as if everyone was catering to us in the tan suits. I never once felt rejected during the funeral. Once The Commander was put into the ground I caught the eye of the tall blonde woman yet again. There was a building that looked as if it had just been finished the day before that we all went into to have lunch.


The cuisine was entirely German all the way down to the beer that everyone was drinking, regardless of age. I was the only one in a tan suit that sat at the front table which I could only assume that the family was sitting at. They all kept making toasts in German, the man who picked me up nudged me every time they started to note that it was a toast.  After what seemed like an eternity of toasted to this most prestigious man everyone sat down and the food started to come out. Now mind you, this entire time I was constantly being asked if I was “OK” or if “I was ready to leave.”. Well due to my raising I was never out of a good funeral party. Which I told the last man who asked me before The Commander was buried. He was glad to hear that I was willing to stay to celebrate the life of The Commander. I did not see one single tear or motion of sadness, this was what I would assume to be a good death. Everyone was happy to see everyone. Everyone ate their fill and then some and still took some home. I honestly felt like I belonged. I had been to funerals numerous times in the past, one of which was very close to me, yet everyone was sad. At this one, no one seemed sad at all, it was almost a party to celebrate this man’s life and everything he had done. Now when you talk about Germanic culture, this funeral was accompanied by  a group of people that were over six feet tall, white, blonde hair and blue eyed. This was a death that deserved a celebration that would be remembered for generations.


As the funeral ended I caught the eye of the tall blonde who had been looking at me the entire time. The last look I had of her was when she was leaving. I saw the door starting to open to the meal hall and I looked to see her. She smiled, winked and turned away to walk out. I never got her name but from what I understand, everyone that was there flew back home that week to Germany. I tried to help clean up but the man who picked me up stopped me, “There are people who serve us, you have no obligation.” So I sat there, sipping on German beer waiting for everyone to leave. People who I did not know came up to shake my hand and thank me. After a couple of hours we finally left, dropping me back at my apartment. This was the last I have seen of anyone in relation to The Commander.




© Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus, 2014-20–. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Vaping the way to the Future Part 4

     To any of my readers who have followed this since the first part, I drive around for a living. Well even though today is my new day off I was still running around. Those that follow me know where I live and how well the Ecig market has taken off in my community. There is maybe two or three miles in town where there is a sign waiver for a vape shop. This is becoming more of a normal sight in my town with not only the sign people but signs stuck in the ground for the local shops. I am so proud of the Ecig community and the heavy presence that has taken hold of my community. As I said in one of my previous entries on this matter, the amount of hard working people that used to stop and take smoke breaks are just vaping while working. It truly is a beautiful sight to see, especially with the amount of lives that have been taken by Big Tobacco already. This constant growing switch to Ecigs has taken a downward spiral in my community however.

     There is a vape shop that I have been going to for years that I stopped at today while running errands. Upon entering I was met with a completely different set up. The counters were cleared off and the staff seemed unhappy. When I walked up to the counter I was greeted by a long written notice by management from the one and only, FDA. This notice elaborated on how the staff is no longer allowed to offer samples of a liquid without charging the customer. (Now I understand that some stores charge for sample fills, that’s perfectly fine, it’s a fill.) This was a store that had always provided new customers and previous customers the ability to test out a new liquid to see if they like it. This is one of the reasons I always went to this shop, the staff is more than amazing, the environment is pleasurable and everyone is friendly. When I asked my friend behind the counter what the deal was, he sorta had this blank look on his face then went to help another customer. This gave me the impression that the FDA is putting an unbelievable amount of pressure on vape shops that makes them charge more and more. The thing that I am worrying about is that it will get so bad that shops will lose their customer basis and be forced to shut down due to FDA policies.

     Now here is what really gets to me about this letter on the counter. There was a part in it that stated very clearly that the staff is no longer allow to touch customers Ecigs if they have a problem. This would be like taking your vehicle to an autoparts store and the staff not being able to open the hood of your car to look for the problem. Guess what, that makes you on your own. For years the staff has looked at my friends Ecigs when they are having a simple problem that is an easy fix all while purchasing more liquids, tips, etc. This I have found in the half hour I spent at the shop is a very big downside. The dozen or so customers I saw come in had a problem all while looking to buy more liquids left when my friend told them he can’t touch their Ecigs, without buying more liquids. This saddens me deeply, I do not know how many more shops in my community have been hit with this same FDA enforced policy.

     I have many thoughts on what is starting to happen with the FDA and the Vaping community but that is another topic for a safer day. I felt the need to share this with those out there that have been paying attention to this series of entries. We need to come together to stop this harassment and allow vaping to be publicly accepted. (I understand the rights of establishments to deny service or entry to someone who wants to Vape inside.) I work with guys who went from smoking two packs a day and struggling on a flight of stairs to quitting analogs and moving to vaping. Now they can do stairs all day and never stop. This is first hand experience on how vaping is better than smoking. The entire goal is to quit everything all together and live a healthy lifestyle or switch to zero nicotine. As always though, thank you for taking the time to read this. Keep vaping and encourage as many as you can to make the switch. Finally, fight the good fight friends, stay safe and vape the way to the future!

The Last Option: Blood Cut

Every morning I wake up is a struggle for me. Even after a year that everything happened. Krystal got her citizen papers through the military, making her a certified US Citizen. She knew when I woke up, the metallic weight of my leg was much greater than my other leg. The entire bed would shift upwards once my right leg hit the floor. She always got a small chuckle out of my groans in the waking hours. “Suck it up baby!” She would say to me almost every morning. My little princess always had to sniff my leg in the morning to make sure I was still capable of moving, with her licks of approval I was able to get out of bed. It took a few minutes to get feeling into my body that the leg was there. The doctors told me that with sleep and my body being at rest, it would take a few minutes every morning for my body to register that the leg was there. Before my life changing event I had a schedule, a routine that I had made for myself and my little princess. Well once Krystal came into the picture everything changed. I got a different job, a different time schedule. They tried changing my way of transportation to a small sedan. I told them “Pack sand mother fucker I ride till I die.” So to no avail they let me keep riding my motorcycle because they really wanted me to work for them. So every morning at 0500 the coffee was finished, poured, mixed and drank. The shower followed closely behind after my morning shit. Today seemed different however, Krystal joined me in the shower. “Mind if I join love?” She had pulled the curtain aside, her sexy small self standing naked ready to join me. “Oh by all means ma’am.” All I can say is it was the best shower experience I have ever had.


Once the shower was done with, I made breakfast and switched on the television to the FOX world news. “Breaking news, A solo activist has come to light in the terrorist game.” Krystal broke my focus, “Hun the eggs are going to burn.” I stepped back into the kitchen to flip an quick cook the eggs. “Eggs are done darling, coffee is in the pot.” She said something in recognition but I was so focused on the news. “All we know is that a US Special Forces operative has gone rogue. He has not claimed responsibility for any bombings, but other groups have denied any participation. Claiming that “We are not dumb enough to attack the US mainland.”” Krystal walked from the bedroom while putting her bra on. “This must be the same person that did the attacks in denver last month.” I looked at her, mostly staring at her chest wondering what she thought. “Eyes up here hun, the MO of the terrorist is the same. Going after something that they find against the American way of life.” I thought about it for a second but had to disagree. “Doesn’t make sense though, the American way of life has changed so much over the years.” She didn’t have an answer for me, we both sat on the couch just watching the news in silence. Both of our phones rang at the same time, both still plugged in on our nightstands. We jumped up to answer our phones. It was my boss telling me to show up as soon as possible. I’m guessing hers was the same because she had the same answer I gave my boss. Within minutes we had closed down the house, gotten ready and was ready to leave. Locking the door as I walked out, she was already at my bike with her helmet in hand. “Oh come on now! You’re so slow!” I let out a sarcastic laugh and climbed onto my bike. The neighbors knew by now that I left at all hours of the day and night. Standing the bike up and putting it into first gear we rode out to the interstate.


It was a forty five minute ride into Tampa, blowing the tolls and making haste to our base. There was a certain sound to my bike, the blown out pipes on it made it louder than the screams of hell. As we flew between cars, switching between lanes we made it to the base entrance. The barricades just far enough apart for us to slip through. The guards at the gate knew the sound by now, as I rode in they waved me through, at that speed they knew that it was an emergency. “Love you hun!” She gave me a kiss as she flew off my bike heading towards the T.O.C. (Tactical Operations Command). The wing commander hated me for riding through the tarmac into the deployment hanger. “Son how many times have I told you NOT to ride through the strip into here?” I knew he loved me, yet feared me so I laughed it off and so did he. There was a group of Army Rangers sitting at tables with notebooks ready to take notes. They were green by the looks of it. “None of you know who I am but I am here to tell you that not all of you are going to make it home.” One of the Rangers raised their hands. “I’m not going to take your question, I know what you’re going to ask.” A look of relief fell over the crowd. “Am I military? No. Then how do I know what is best for you? Because I do so don’t ask again. How do I know what I’m talking about? Because I have been in worse positions that you can ever imagine. That’s what my job was, to go to the places that the government wasn’t sure that you would make it out of. Rangers, Recon, Seals or PJ’s. My team and I were sent in because the US government did not want responsibility for something encase it went south. However, my team plus myself made four, we did things that are unethical, unspeakable and would be deemed illegal by the US government.” Their faces changed from egotistical smirks to serious intentions of learning. One cat raised his hand with confidence. “How do we know that you’re telling the truth?” I gave him the benefit of doubt, he seemed the leader type. “Because I lost my leg saving a Special forces team with my men a year ago in a country where we as a people are the enemy no matter what the cause.”. I brought my right leg up onto the table and pulled my jeans up, revealing the metallic leg. The motivation given by the one who asked the question died instantly. “Whoever this force is, is out to kill you, no matter who you are, they want you dead. Do not forget that you are working on friendly territory. However, from a private operator to a military operator, I had no problem shooting someone that I thought posed a threat.” An older man in a decorated Army Combat Uniform walked in to take over the briefing. “Thank you Commander, I will speak to you after the briefing is over. Also, men, once this briefing is over, see the Commander in the armory for your load out. He knows what you want, he will make sure that you come home safe.” The look the the General gave me was one of “You let me down and I’ll throw your ass in the fire.”. After about two hours of briefing the Rangers began to file into the base armory with their paperwork showing their shooting scores.


A team of eight men, hardly that, boys who have been trained. I ended up issuing one Squad Automatic Weapon, six M4 assault rifles with M203 grenade launchers and one M21 Marksman rifle. That was the individual load out, I requisitioned a fifty caliber rifle encase the occasion called for it. After the eight men had pulled their gear, the General came back into the hanger. “Boys, I say this as to the fact that I have seen many young men come through my command. You are about to embark on a top secret mission that is going to require the assassination of a terrorist that thinks they are invisible. They will be out to kill you, most of all, they are out to figure out what you know. Do not break, do not give them the ability to capture you. Take your own life if need be, but the men you are about to face are the greatest that the world has ever known. Be safe boys, I’ll see you when you return.” They stood up as the squad leader ordered them to load into the plane. Watching these boys head into a plane, deploying into friendly soil, to kill a person who is one of the most highly trained soldiers in the US military? This just doesn’t sit right with me. I made my way to the T.O.C., “This is not going to end well.” I said as I walked up behind Krystal. Without a flinch she replied, “You’re not leaving, you are not in fighting form.” Those words struck deep to me. As Marcus said, “You’re never out of the fight.”, I went down to the armory and began to prepare a kit encase something happened. It wasn’t but a couple hours of flight for the Rangers before they reached their destination. After everything was prepped encase I need to leave, I went back to the T.O.C., there was silence as reports began to stream in. “MAYDAY MAYDAY! WE HAVE TAKEN MULTIPLE MISSILES AND ARE GOING DOWN! MAYDAY MAYDAY!! GODSPEED!—” The transmission ended, we turned on the national news stations to see if any reports had come in. Reports came in from across the country about what had just happened. Krystal knew what I was going to do, she knew exactly what I had planned. She followed me into the hangar where a small twin engine plane sat. “I don’t want you leaving, eight Rangers just died in a wreck of flames, what makes you think that you will make it?” I secured my parachute hook to the rail in the plane as she continued to give me the third degree. Finally I put up my hand to her, she knew I had heard enough. “Krystal, baby, this is what I do. I know you worry about me and my condition. But it is apparent that I am the only one who can do this.” I could see her eyes begin to welt up with tears. “You promised me you were done! You swore that the last time was the last! So why tell me one thing and now you act in another way!!” I could tell she was upset, but there was only one way this would be done. “If you want something done right then you do it yourself, right?” She shook her head in agreement as the engines began to spin up. She spoke a few words, but I could read her lips.”Do you even know who it is?” She knew who it was and so did I the ,moment that we saw the news report. “My brother”.