Fractured Facade

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THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE -- A Short Story, is Free on Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Page Foundry and Tolino

Sunday, July 24, 2016

My Life Matters

Last night I witnessed my husband looking down a barrel of a gun while I had a couple pointed at me, in my carport, and not by criminals, but by Roanoke County cops.

It was just your average sweltering Saturday night spent in the cool air conditioning of our home, drinking wine while watching movies. Around 11:30 we turned on Saturday Night Live and after about fifteen minutes of not laughing, we decided to go to bed. As we were getting ready, Bella, our dog, started to freak out...whimpering, running to and fro before jumping into the front window. Once she did that she started barking ferociously, more so after the doorbell rang and a loud pounding ensued.

My husband and I looked at each, "Something's up!" No one we know uses the front door, and no one we know would be out at 11:45pm banging on it. Bella is barking danger, danger, danger! There's been home invasions in the county, one just last week, the perps are still out there. There's no way I'm answering that front door, to be bum-rushed as potential criminals might push their way in. My husband is already heading to the side door, stopping to grab his piece as Bella practically pushes him out of the way so she could "get 'em!"

Adrenaline kicks in and I know I have to be back-up. I've undergone training and know how to use my .38, only shattering water-filled bottles or just missing the bullseye on paper targets. By the time I get to it my husband is already out the door, with me yelling, "wait for me, wait for me, be careful, be careful!" I enter the sunroom, blinded by a light coming from somewhere, as I open door to Bella's yard to let her out. I hear shouting, but it's not coming my husband. I'm not out the door but being yelled at to "Step outside, step outside!" Still, not knowing what is happening I yell back, "Shut that light!"

I'm praying I don't hear a gunshot...I don't want to have shoot anyone, even a criminal who shoots my husband. Whoever it is, they are not lowering the light so I look away from it and see my husband to my left staring down the barrel of a gun while a cop shouts to him to put his hands on his head. WTF? The light gets lowered as I'm being yelled at to step out of the house, and for the first time I see cops, many, many cops all over my yard, guns pointed at me and my husband. I quickly put my piece on the shelf inside and step out to the shouting, "Put your hands on top of your head, hands on the head!" while three of them advance on me, their guns drawn and pointed.

"Do you have a weapon?" "Not on me." Wearing a dress, without a bra, I get frisked and patted down as does my husband, even his privates. He's wearing shorts and a wife-beater t-shit and remarks later, "We were dressed for an episode of cops."

"What the hell is going on?" I ask. "Keep your hands up, hands up!" is the response. Our hands are up and Bella's not liking this one bit, she's barking crazy and banging on the fence, "Let me at 'em, let me at 'em!!!" And I'm thinking, Oh damn, they better not shoot my dog. I'm looking at all the cops in the side yard, front yard, driveway, I count five cop cars. My husband tells me later there were more than that. I still don't know why they're here.

Finally a female cop states, "We got a report you assaulted someone." "What?! We've been home all night. You got the wrong people." They don't want to hear that, "Keep your hands up!!!!" Then it dawns on me. "What address are your looking for?" She says our four house numbers. "Yeah, but what street? This is xxDrive. Are you looking for xxMountain Road? That's two blocks down!" I try to point the way but I'm told to keep my hands up. She looks at her pad then all the cops start looking at each other. Then, only then, do they ask our names. Yeah, wrong names, wrong house.

Like what happens when a light switch is turned on in a hoarder's home, the roaches scatter. They all jump in the cars and head down the road. Not one apology. Not one we're sorry. I yell at them as they leave, "We're the fucking good guys!" I don't even know why I said that. Maybe I said it because I police the park across the street that they're supposed to. I've thrown druggies and pedophiles out of it. Just a couple of days ago we had a run-in with someone there, so it was no stretch of the imagination that maybe, just maybe they were the ones coming to our front door in retribution. When the banging on the door occurred not once was "Open up, it's the police!" uttered. They NEVER identified themselves as cops, not until I was looking at guns pointed to our heads did I realize they were law enforcement.

This could have been a disaster. Had we not complied immediately who the hell knows what the outcome might be. They all seemed quite hopped up, and why in the world would there be so many cars for a report of an assault??? It got me wondering why they were here, and why they thought our house was the place especially since our mailbox clearly states the correct address. It's one thing when the post office continually screws up delivering the right mail to the right address, but this is a whole other ball of wax.

I couldn't see all of the cops faces because I was mainly focused on the ones who had their guns pointed at me and the one who felt me up, but I wonder if this had something to do with another occurrence of a false report that happened two years ago, bringing three cops at my door at midnight then again. Waking me out of a deep sleep to question me and check my and my husband's hands for bruises one of the male cops at that time said, and I quote, "I hear you're a hot-headed crazy Italian, but we do things differently down here." I didn't even know what the fuck that meant. Flabbergasted that they would believe a report from someone who was just released from a mental institution after trying to kill themselves with drugs, I did go down the next day to file a complaint. Since no charges were brought, and no report was even made, nothing happened. But what if one of the cops last night was that same cop and heard the address, not listening to the full address, and immediately thought, that's the hot-headed Italian, follow me, I know exactly who they are and thus arrived at my house??? How screwed up is that???

When my kids were young I always told them cops are your friends. As the years passed and I saw and experienced more and more ineptitude from them, I changed my narrative. Now, it was more, "Be careful of cops. Not all of them are your friends. Some have a power complex. If you're ever stopped, do exactly what they say. Answer yes, sir, yes ma'am. Tell them you're reaching for your license, registration, whatever. There are dirty cops, ones that steal from dead men's homes. There are lazy cops, ones who can't be bothered to investigate crimes. There are judgmental cops, ones who see a teenaged girl with hair dyed a different color than the norm and immediately assume she's walking around a supermarket to shoplift. There are prejudiced cops, ones who think if you're Italian or a New Yorker in a southern state you must be a criminal.

Then there's cops like the ones in New York City who recently thought a bomb was tossed in their vehicle and rather than have it blow up everyone in a crowded area drove post haste to minimize the mayhem as much as possible. It didn't matter that it wasn't a bomb, but that they thought it was. Too bad there seems to be less and less of those types of cops lately...

So, after all this what would I have done differently? Probably the only thing would be the next time I would also reach for my phone and hit record...

My watchdog

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

Tommy James & the Shondells in Atlantic City

I went to Atlantic City and all I got was this cool Tommy James shirt...

Actually, that's not all I came home with...I also have a couple of lousy shots of him but, more importantly, wonderful memories from a great show.

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a concert at Harrah's in Atlantic City to see the amazing Tommy James and the Shondells. This was the first time I had ever seen the legendary act, one of my favorite bands who shaped my musical tastes as I listened to them on AM radio during my pre-teen years. I remember digging through the sofa cushions amongst the lint in the cracks of the pillows to find enough change to go and buy Crimson & Clover. I think I wore that 45 rpm disc out playing it over and over, and even mastered the quick press of the throat technique to mimic the latter chorus as Tommy sang "Crimson and clover over and over...crimson and clover over and over..."

All the aggravation of having to endure the poor planning of Harrah's regarding the issuing of tickets, resulting in waiting on a long line to pick them up (more on that, and observations on Atlantic City in general in an upcoming post) dissipated as soon as the band walked on stage and the first note was played. TJ played all his hits and I danced in my seat non-stop to such classics as "Hanky Panky," "Sweet Cherry Wine," "Dragging the Line," "Crystal Blue Persuasion," "Mony Mony," (yes, that's his song not Billy Idol's) and others.

One of my favorites was "I Think We're Alone Now." Tommy told us that it was going to be the music on the closing credits of an upcoming film based on his book "Me, the Mob, and Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells." The book was great and that's one movie I am really looking forward to. The song was played at a slower tempo than the original and moved me to tears...such simple lyrics that evoke such a strong response. My hand always beats on my heart in tandem with the sound of the beating drum after that last line in the stanzas below...a TJ fan knows what I'm talking about.

"Children behave
That's what they say when we're together
And watch how you play
They don't understand
And so we're running just as fast as we can
Holdin' onto one another's hand
Tryin' to get away into the night
And then you put your arms around me
And we tumble to the ground and then you say
I think we're alone now
There doesn't seem to be anyone around
I think we're alone now
The beating of our hearts is the only sound"

As an added bonus we got to hear the original in all its glory during the encore. TJ did not disappoint. He still got it, his voice was strong, his fingers nimble on the guitar strings. The band was tight and the concert venue was the perfect place to see them. There was not a bad seat in the house. Tommy seemed very happy to be there, connecting with the audience on many levels..."I used to drop acid, now I drop antacid" garnered a good laugh from the understanding crowd of baby boomers. I was particularly impressed by him during the musical stretch in "Mony Mony." He jumped right into the audience, shaking hands, getting hugs, and *gasp* posing for selfies! When's the last time you saw a performer do that during their show? Class act.

After the show he agreed to sign anything we wanted, hopefully something bought from the merchandise table. We were told he even said he would have no problem posing for pics but it had to be a smooth, quick session as he had a fight to catch. I bought the shirt and was preparing to get to the back of yet another long line when my husband reminded me if I got the shirt signed I wouldn't wear it. I want to wear this shirt, and I really didn't want to wait on line, so I passed up meeting him in person. Of course, I'm kicking myself now.

Tommy James and the Shondells, please come to Roanoke, Virginia. We've got a great amphitheater that would be a perfect fit. The sound system & acoustics are great, the venue comfortable, holds a nice crowd number, and, I can also get much better shots. I'd be happy to show you around the valley.

One thing that really bothers me is that these guys are NOT in the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame! What's up with that????

If you want to know more about TJ click here for his website. With music so easily gotten for free on the internet, musicians these days really need to tour and sell merchandise to make money, so make sure to check out the store to see some really neat and affordable mercy.

Tommy James...You still got it, baby!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Blondie in Roanoke

I was surprised last year when Joan Jett performed at Roanoke's amphitheater, but I never thought I'd see the day when Blondie would grace us! It was a phenomenal performance...for a full review of the show, check out Tad Dickens' from the Roanoke Times piece.

Below are a couple of pics from the free seats up on the hill...and some even shot through the legs of this guy...

Blondie seemed to really like Roanoke, and we really love them too. Maybe the band had such a great time in our city that they'll tell Patti Smith to come on down! Dreaming is free...

Monday, April 11, 2016

The National D-Day Memorial - A Pictorial

On Sunday my daughter, her boyfriend, and I made the trip to Bedford to visit the National D-Day Memorial. This was the first time for me, and will become part of the "local tour" sites I suggest to out-of-town visitors. Although a little chilly and the blossoms and flowers not yet in full bloom, it was a perfect day to appreciate the beauty of the region, the history of the memorial, and learn more than I knew before about D-Day. I'll leave the history behind each of the shots below to your tour guide, who I recommend you follow when you visit. If you explore yourself you're bound to miss out on the "aha" moments...

"The National D-Day Memorial Foundation is a nonprofit educational foundation warranted by Congress to establish in Bedford, Virginia, and maintain for the nation, a memorial to the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of the Allied forces that took part in the landing at Normandy, France on 6 June 1944....The Memorial does not receive federal or state funding and relies on donations to operate. By supporting the Foundation in telling the D-Day story today you ensure its retelling tomorrow."

Wednesday, April 6, 2016