Photo Story part 1

“Cantrell Creek Photography, we love to shoot you!” Rachael overheard as the receptionist answered the phone.  “Yes, we have a slot open for Friday, would you like the photographer to meet you some where or will you be coming in to the studio?”

A down-pouring of emotion came over her as she stood there. How many years had she and Stacey worked for this?  It had been ten years –  a rocky ten years, but they had made it.  It seemed like yesterday that they were struggling to get the funds for their first backdrop, and now here they were  rated one of the best photography studios in all of Texas.

“What happened to you?”  a voice came from the entrance to her office.

“Huh? what do you mean?”  Rachael replied back to Stacey, her best friend and sometimes sister for the last twenty years.

“You look like your either pondering life, or have fallen in love again, and it better not be the later.”

“Just thinking about how far we have come.”

“Awe! Someone’s feeling sentimental! You had better get to it, we’ve got three shoots all across the MetroPlex today.”

The term Soul Mates is usually reserved for married couples, but that was truly what Rachael and Stacey were.  They met in high school, both out of place due to other people’s bad decisions.  They found each other when they needed each other most, and never stopped needing to lean on each other.  They had been through it all, and I mean everything.  They had their first babies together, went through bad relationships, strife and beyond.  Yet, they had made it through and were all the better for it.

“All right, lets get going,” Rachael said, gathering equipment.

The day went pretty fast, the first shoot of the day was at a repeat customer’s house.  The Murphy’s had been customers since the very beginnings of the business.  Every year they had pictures of their kids taken in front of a beautiful flowing fountain in their rose garden. After that they met a young couple at the fountains down town for prom pictures, of course paid for by the young woman’s mother.  It still amazed Rachael how people would complain about having to pay $250 for on site, quality pictures, but would shell out 500 clams for a hideous dress.

By the last shoot of the day, both girls were ready for Friday margaritas, even though it was only Wednesday.

“Who did you say this last one was?” Rachael said, she could never remember the itinerary for the day, but that’s why she had Stacey.  Rachael was the artist and Stacey kept up with the details.

“New clients, The Hatebreeds…  The woman didn’t say much, other than making sure we did on site calls.” Stacey raised an eyebrow.

“The what? Hate… Breeds? Are you serious?” Rachael let out a guffaw. Stacey snickered.

“Well, that’s how we made our name.”

It was 4pm before the arrived at the address. “Wow, that looks creepy.”  Awed Stacey

It truly was a sight out of a Stephen King movie.  There was a old, rusty fence with an “H” in Old English style in the very top.  Behind it was what was left of a road being arched by over grown shrubberies.  At the end of the dilapidated drive was the biggest, spookiest mansion the girls had ever seen.  Black.  Pure Black.  No trim, not even a different colored roof.  The only color was the red velvet curtain peeking from behind the windows like glowing red eyes.

“It doesn’t look like anyone has lived here in decades.” Rachael said with an uncertainty in here voice.

“Man, this shit had cult initiation written all over it.” Stacey joked. Rachael didn’t laugh.

“I really hope this doesn’t turn out like that OTHER mansion we did.”

Rachael spoke of  old man Jefferson’s house.  Upon  arriving they met the senile 95 year old and his hunting dog, Blue.  The only problem was that Blue  was stuffed about 15  years prior, and wear was starting to show.  Not only that, but the old coot insisted that  the girls pet Ole’ Blue before they left.

Stacey eased the accelerator through the gate and when the Jeep finally made it to the end of the drive, they were greeted by an old woman who must have been in her 80’s. She was dressed head to toe for the 1890’s, full length Victorian dress, and frizzy gray hair.  The poor thing must have had cataracts, Rachael thought, because her eyes were so fogged over they looked gray.

“Good afternoon, I am Mrs. Hatebreed.” She spoke in what sounded like an English accent, but Rachael couldn’t quite put her finger on it.

“Its is a pleasure to meet you, Mrs… Hatebreed.  I’m Rachael, and this is Stacey.  Will be taking pictures of you today?”

“Oh heavens no! I’m just a mess today!” the old woman giggled. “I called you for a session for my father.  I fear he hasn’t much time left, and I thought I would get one final portrait of him to remember him by.”

As they followed the old woman down the twisting hallways and corridors of the ancient house, Rachael whispered, “Did she say father?”

“Yeah, I wonder if HE’S stuffed?” replied Stacey. Rachael had to bite her tongue so hard it might have drawn blood, and whispered back “Well I’ll make sure you get to pet him before we leave!”

Observing the house, it felt more like a very strange museum.  There were very old paintings on the walls, but these were no Picasso’s. The eyes of Demons and Devils stared out of nearly every painting.  Right before they arrived at the parlor, Stacey had to stop her self from screaming at the sight of a statue of a man being tortured Spanish Inquisition style.

When they arrived in the parlor, Rachael gasped. Death himself sitting beside the fireplace.  He was a tall, sallow thing, with sunken in cheeks, what seemed like all eye sockets and no eyes.  He had the thinnest hair you have ever seen, what hair was left that is.  He was dressed in what literally looked like  an old undertaker’s suit.

“Is this how you wold like the pictures taken?” Rachael said, trying to hide her unease.

“Oh, yes dear JUST like this.”

Rachael and Stacey did their usual job, but with more haste.

They shook hands with the old lady and promised their usual 3 day prints.

“Jeez that was too weird!” Stacey remarked.

“Yeah, I’m tempted to say studio only shoots from now on.” Rachael joked, as they hurried into the Jeep.  As they exited the drive, Rachael was sure she saw the old man in the rearview, standing by the old lady.  Yet when Stacey looked around, he was not there.  The both blew it off as stress, not knowing how wrong they both were.

*****************

The next morning, Rachael came in early to the office, to get to work digitally enhancing the photos.  Ever since she started taking photos, she had been obsessive about making each picture perfect.  Although she had cone hundreds of shoots, she had never been 100% happy with how they turned out, but that’s the price you pay for being a perfectionist.  That is where Stacey came in, if Stacey said it was ok, then Rachael knew she was done.

“Alright, there not going to do themselves.” Rachael told her self as she closed out her Facebook page.

The first batch up were the photos of the Murphy kids.  Rachael always enjoyed going to the Murphy’s for photo shoots.  Mrs. Murphy took very good care of her garden.  It never failed that she always had new flowers in the garden, but always looked just as perfect as before.  Always the same , but always changing.  Something of this spoke to Rachael.

That was how she kept her house, and her life.  Every 6 months or so, she would get this overwhelming urge to rearrange her entire house.  One could trace this back all the way back to when she was a little girl.  Her parents never stayed in one place too much, always on the move.  Her moving the furniture around was probably just a way to capture part of her childhood. The decoration would change, but the house stayed.

Rachael opened the first JPEG image on her computer on her computer, and got to work.  Something was odd with the first picture.  It wasn’t blurry,  the kids were smiling, and the faces were clear.  It was the flowers all the flowers were…. dull.  Not only that, the sky looked gray.  She thought maybe just the one picture was bad, for the garden was in pristine condition yesterday, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The second and third pictures were the same, actually the entire batch had the same flaw.

“Oh, shit” Rachael though.  “The camera’s broke.”

She wasn’t upset because of the camera being broke.  She must have 5 or 6 state of the art extras in her closet.  This meant she would have to do all three sessions again, at a discounted rate on top of it all.

Rachael decided to go ahead and call her clients with the bad news.

“Hello” A voice answered on the line.

“Good morning, Mrs. Murphy, this is Rachael from Cantrell Creek.  There seems to be a problem with the pictures we took yesterday.”

“What kind of problems?” Replied Mrs. Murphy

“Well it seems the picture turned out dull, the flowers have barely any color in them and the sky is gray.”

“Well that is ironic.  When I walked outside today, my entire garden was dead.  Not one flower left.  I am afraid my garden will not have color in it for a very long time.”  Mrs. Murphy replied sounding very upset.

Rachael set a new appointment time for her, and went back to the rest of the photos.  She opened the batch of the teenage couple, at the fountain.  This one stood out to Rachael because the young woman’s dress was the brightest(and ugliest) yellow Rachael had ever seen, surely there was no way THAT would be dull.  When she opened the file, she saw a teenage girl wearing a very faded dress under the dreariest sky one had ever seen.

“Well, third times a charm.” Rachael said to herself as she opened the third batch.  When the photo poped up on the screen Rachael gasped.  The pictures of the old man were too vibrant for the dark mansion she had taken them in.  This was strange, but it was not the reason she gasped.  The sallow, frail old man  Rachael saw the day before looked healthy and younger.

The Vigilant Man

It is said, behind every great man is an even greater woman.  Of course we don’t usually realize how truly great a man is until he his dead and gone.  It is then we as a society look in retrospective and truly appreciate what a wonder we all have lost.  Mozart, Picasso, Lincoln, Kennedy: these names now are immortal, but when these men were alive they were just men doing things that others did not appreciate at the moment, but in the end we saw that they were right.  Great women are like that also.  We often don’t realize what a precious gem we have found until they are gone.

We are so blinded by our delusions of a flawless stone, that we don’t see the diamond in the rough that we have.  Oh yeah, sure when we first meet them were head over heals for them and make sure they know that.  But once we say I do, or they move in with us, that all goes out the window.  We start nit-picking over stupid stuff.  “You spent 5 dollars more than you were suppose to”, “The dishes aren’t done today”, “You spent all MY money”, “I’m tired of supporting your lazy ass”.  What we tend not to see is that she spent that extra money because you were out of deodorant, the dishes weren’t done that one day because she was shopping for your birthday present, she’s not spend your money on her but you.  And in the end who’s supporting who?  Where would you be with out her?  unfortunately, you won’t know how much until she gone.

When you make a commitment to be with someone, wedding band or not, you are responsible for what happens.  A man is suppose to be the head of his household. Some guys think this means that everyone in the house should obey his every command, but this could not be further from the truth.  When you say you are the Head of Household, or The Man of the House, you are saying the you are responsible for everything in it.  The people you live with are only as good as you are, and you are only as good as they are.  If your house is in disarray, it is not the woman’s fault or your kids fault, it is your fault.  And when I say, disarray, I don’t mean just appearance wise, I mean emotionally, and mentally.  If the dishes need to be done that day, you need to do them. If your wife/fiance is about to have a breakdown, you need to give attention to her.  If your kids are needy, you need to spend time with them.  You need to wake up everyday giving 100% to the people in your house, and know that they are giving you the same 100%, and if they couldn’t get to something then you wouldn’t have either.  Fill in the holes, that is what you are there for.

Adios, whatcha-call it decade

New Year’s Eve has come, and with it another decade has passed.  We humans put a lot of emphasis on markers such as years, decades, centuries, but if you really think about it these things mean nothing on a universal scale.  Nothing special happens throughout the universe every December 31.  The stars don’t align perfectly, we don’t experience an intergalactic rift.  All across the universe it is just another day, or whatever measurement people on other planets use.  Yet, here on planet Earth it is a time of celebration, and reflection, a time to evaluate and take inventory of our lives.

A decade is a long time, at least to me.  Maybe I will say different when I have reached 80.  Maybe it feels such a long time  because this was the most significant decade of my life.  This was the decade I came of age, the decade I became a father, the decade that not only changed my life, but also everyone else in the world.

Ten years ago, I had not given thought to being a father or husband, nor to how hard it is to make ends meet, or how important it is to buy your first house.  Ten years ago, all I was concerned with was what the next day would bring.  I was 16,  I had a job at the mall, I was doing well at school, I had a girlfriend that I spent every waking moment with, I had a car that I was paying for, I used the word “I” a lot back then.  I couldn’t wait to go out into the world and change how it was ran.  And if that didn’t work out, at least I would have a chance to be on my own for a while, to experience the walk of life I chose.  Little did I know what that bitch destiny had in store for me.

11 months into the decade I found out I was going to be a father, and that began the wheels of change.  Since then, well lets just say its been a learning experience.  I have had ups and downs, struggles and triumphs.  I did manage to get my high school diploma, and go to what I thought was a legit trade school.  Both of which have got me nowhere.  My marriage has survived a breakup, and several disasters.  Watching my eldest son grow, I now know why people say “you are growing up so fast”.  Watching my youngest grow, I know why they say “the right thing to do isn’t always the easiest thing to do.”  I dedicated 6 years of this decade to a dead-end job, and now feel I have put 3 more into another.  I have given my family somewhat more of a stable environment than what I had, so I got that going my way.

Bottom line, I have made some good calls and some bad calls.  I have also developed the ability to learn from both.  If there is one thing I could tell myself 10 years ago is:  Life isn’t like one of those books where you turn to page 37 if you do this or to page 110 if you do this(when in reality you peak to see what you want).  You are stuck with your choices, and all to often there is no going back.

THIS IS MY WARCRY!!

For the sake of privacy and keeping myself out of trouble (more the second than the first), the party I am addressing will from this point on will be called Mrs. Rottencrotch.

Dear Mrs. Rottencrotch,

When I first saw you I did not know to loathe you. I now know some 2 years later that I dont just loathe you, you are possibly the second most reprehensible person I have crossed paths with.  The first being the low life piece of shit that you somehow sunk low enough to share your pathetic life with for the last 5 years.  No, I am not doing this to make your life as hard as possible (as you have done to my wife, son, and myself for the last 2 years), as much as it is to get the truth out in the open before you trample over it even more.

First lets start with the part I am most familiar with.  The man you have lived with for the last 5 years is an alcoholic, drug addict, child abuser, and child molester.  On top of that he should also be locked up for perjury, because he lied under oath about all of the above.  I know according to him, his family and you, its lies, all lies.  But, it is not a lie.  I can not count the nights that I have had to comfort my wife after she wakes up from a dream where she is trying to run from him.  I was there when she heard that all her sisters had been molested by him.  The tears she cries are the type you cannot make up.  It’s real, and my heart aches every time she cries those tears.

Though, this is not about him, it is about you.  I know more about you than you think I know.  I know you also lied under oath.  You lied after placing your hand on the bible of my faith, and swore on the name of my God that you would tell the truth, and you lied after that.  No, I am not going to tell you what I know, you will find that out soon enough.  You have had 4 children taken away from you in 3 different states, this much you admit to.  You know after the first 2, I would say “maybe its me”, but not you.  You keep on blaming your fuck ups on the government, or the men in your life, or the radiation off of satellites (ok I made that one up, but it would not surprise me).  So you keep on making the same mistakes and precious, innocent lives are forever broken because of you.

Yet, there is hope for one of those lives, isn’t there?  And this is where our paths have crossed.  2 years and 2 months ago I got a call at work informing me that my wife had a little brother, and he needed a family.  Without even blinking an eye I knew I had been told that I was a daddy again.  So we get him, and the laundry list of conditions that you caused.  No, not problems he inherited from you(we’ll get to that in a bit), but that you caused by not taking care of him in the womb.  He was in a hospital bed clinging to life while you and your alcoholic boyfriend went out on the town.  He never knew a mothers touch, never got a hug, had never been tickled until he came to live with us.  This is because of you.  If were stable enough to be a mother, you would have been there for him.  You would have never have put a man before your child.

So we got him, and guess what?  We soon find out has a detachment disorder. WOW, you mean a baby who never had a mother that loved him has problems learning how to love and trust other people?  Of course he does. Two years of  worrying, hard work, and unconditional love (thats the kind of love parents have) have paid off, we are a family and I am his father and he is my son.

Then there was the trial(you know, the one where 12 of your peers decided that you two were not fit to raise a dog much less a child).  You and your significant other hung yourselves on the stand.  Your defense WAS the prosecution.  Let me tell you, you sure chose a winner for a co-defendant.  I mean, who wouldn’t want a guy who has to be dragged into court drunk?  All the time you and he were on the stand, all I heard was anger, never once did I hear a word of remorse or sadness.  I know if one of my boys were taken from me, I would cry everyday until I got them back.  You look at this baby as a piece of property, not a living being.  The only defense you and your live-in could come up with was “He’s ours, he belongs with us”.  Blood doesn’t make a family, Mrs. Rottencrotch, love does.  And, in the Wolfe household there is always plenty of that to go around.

I dont blame you for not loving him, I mean how could a person who was never loved be expected to love another?  And that is where your problems really started wasn’t it, Mrs. Rottencrotch?  You have went from man to man all your life looking for the love you had lacked all your life.  When you couldn’t find that love from a man, you decided that a child might give you that feeling.  Yet, you will never know that feeling because one can not love a person who doesn’t love theirselves.  And, believe me, you have got along way to go before you can do that.  You obviously have some sort of mental illness, Mrs. Rottencrotch, and maybe are mildly retarded.

I know this because MY son has possible disorders, but we are properly handling the medical  procedures.  That brings me to the final point, the entire reason I decided to write this warning.  You have decided to try to make it to where we can not take him to the doctor, by putting him on your own insurance policy, you have caused his Medicaid to be rejected.  That worked for about a day, but we got that straightened out.  You have been reported to your healthcare company for fraud.  Good luck with that.  You see, Medicaid or not, this little boy will get the care that he needs.  I will make sure of it.  I will work 3 jobs, get 5 mortgages on my house (yes, people actually buy houses, not just rent),  and  sell all my earthly possessions before I would let him go with out the things he needs.  This is what a father does, this is what a parent does.

As I hinted earlier this is a warning.  I know you made your little “appeal” in the courts, but let’s get one thing clear.  You are not dealing with a scared little lonely girl, as you and him once thought.  That little girl has grown up to be the best mother I know.  And with her, you get me.  You want a fight, you’ve got one. No one messes with my family.  And MY family does not let anyone mess with the children of this family.  You have no one.  You have brought a knife to a gunfight.  We will not lay down, We will not slowly fade into the night, We will fight you on all fronts.  And we will win  because we have several things that you dont.  Among them are the best interests of this child, and The Truth.

You want a war, GAME ON!

Sincerely,

Hollie Wolfe III

P.S. As you see, I don’t hide behind anonymity.

Looks Like a Hard Candy Christmas

At the Wolfe household.  NO,sorry Cameron, there won’t be any hookers here.  Well, maybe not a hard candy Christmas, but more of a “back to basics: Christmas.  Now, dont go worrying, the boys have got plenty of presents coming.  We are just getting back to basics this year.

It’s the first Christmas in OUR first house, so we are making some traditions.  Rachael and the boys are going to make all the decorations this year.  Were going to decorate the tree ON Thanksgiving night, just like when we were kids.  We are actually going to have Christmas at our house this year(yes, no lugging toys around the great state of  Texas).  Nothing fancy, just a Very Wolfe Christmas.  We went and bought a real christmas tree today, and can’t wait for Thanksgiving to watch the parade and pig out watching football.  My big little brothers coming up, hopefully.  Im going to read the boys the real Christmas story on Christmas Eve(Apparently Rudolph and the misfit toys werent involved with the first Christmas.  Were just going to try to enjoy each other and have a good time.

Until next time,

Happy Holidays Merry Christmas!!!!

Words of a Heretic(or Your Not The Boss of Me)

It seems as if we can’t go a day without hearing about Islamic Extremists in our mists.  We’ve all heard how Islam is a violent religion, and how they won’t stop attacking us until either we are all dead or they are.  Preachers give sermons on how they are out to destroy the Christian way.   We’ve all been caught up in post 9/11 hysteria out of fear and anger.  On the other hand, I believe that it is time we start to see how much like that WE are becoming.

Listen to any evangelical preacher give a sermon, and you’ll hear him say that we are to suit up our armor and do our duty as Christian Soldiers.  They all say that war has been waged on Christianity and that we are to fight tooth and nail.  Aiming their message at everything and everyone from Muslims to Homosexuals.  They claim that 9/11 happened because of how America is turning gay, and come short of saying they all should be burned at the stake.  They treat any other faith as godless heathens, and that our way of life is the only one that should be.  They preach their message every Sunday, and more and more people are buying it, believing that this is what Jesus would have us do.

If Jesus were here today, I believe that if walked into one of these churches he would blow up as he did in the Temple in Jerusalem.  Jesus tought us to spread love, tolerance, and understanding.  All these preachers are doing is spreading a message of hate.  You will not convert people out of fear, but out of showing people living the Christian life does have rewards.  Instead of asking people “do you have jesus in your heart?’ maybe you should ask yourself the  same thing.  Instead of asking people “Are you going to heaven?”  ask yourself “How do I know I am going to heaven. ”

Yes, the bible does say that homosexuality is a sin, and that there is only one god.  Yet, drunkenness is a sin, and how many people of the cloth are alcoholics?  Child molestation is a sin, and you still let them preach(and no, all child molesters are not gay.).  Murder is a major sin, and you still minister to them in the prisons.  So drunks, child molesters, and murders are going to heaven, but if you have an uncontrollable hormone making you attracted to the wrong person, you are going to hell?  No, my fellow Christians, this is not what MY lord wants.  He would have us open our doors to these people, welcoming and un-judging. he would also have us respect people of other religions.  If  we are hateful to our neighbors, why would they ever want to come to our church?  If we go to their homeland and start a war(justified or not), tear up their infrastructure, and then leave, why would they ever want to live in peace with us?

Unorthodox ways of life are not the reason bad things happen.  God does not make bad things happen because of a certain group of people.  Bad people make bad things happen.    Our choices determine what will happen.  God gave us free will, it is up to us what we do with it.  In sunday school, you are encouraged to memorize bible verses.  This is another trick these false prophets use.  They say that the bible is our best weapon, do you honestly think that Jesus would have us use what is suppose to be his words as a weapon?  No, in contrast he would have us use it as a bandage.  The preachers I am talking about will take a sentence here and there out of the bible to make you feel he knows what the bible says.  The reality is those bits and pieces are taken out of context, and the next verse or chapter will contradict that.  One thing the bible does say is that we should beware of the false prophets.  We should not follow the bible by the word, but by the spirit of the message.  After all, this is a book written by man, not by the Devine.

As I stated earlier, we all have free will.  We can all start listening to our hearts, or just keep listening to people who are no better than us in the eyes of the Lord.  No, I am not saying we should stop going to church, but question why we should be there.  Should we be there to hear how other people shouldn’t live, or should we be there to hear how we can live a more Christ like life?  If it remains like it is now, all you will eventually have is The United Church of Hypocrisy.  We all need to take more responsibility.  We all need to spend more time searching our souls, and less time listening to someone tell us what we believe.