Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 13

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 13

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 //

Paul gripped his mother harder. “I don’t hate you!” He didn’t realize it was true until he said it. The reason it hurt so bad to feel abandoned by her was because he loved her. 

“I’ve been trying to think of ways to make it up to you, to earn your forgiveness, but everything I do just seems to make it worse.” She kept talking as though she didn’t hear him. “I’m not going to stop trying though. You were braver than I was. What you did probably saved both our lives, and I forced you to it. I let him …”  

Her breath caught and she couldn’t manage to say anything else for short time, but she did manage to eventually compose herself. “I don’t deserve your forgiveness. I never deserve to be loved by you again, but I’m going to try.”

He looked up at her, and it may have been the first time in years he looked into her eyes, though tears made it hard for him to see. “Nobody deserves forgiveness,” Paul said. 

The anger in his heart fell quiet. A part of him knew it wasn’t gone, but no longer felt overwhelming to him. 

“It’s a gift, like love,” he continued. He understood the words now, but that didn’t make it easier to do. What Paul realized was that he wanted to forgive her. He wanted to be a son. He wanted to be her son, and he wanter her to want to be his mother. 

“I’ve been suspended for two weeks,” he said.

“The principal told me you got into another fight,” his mother said.

“I’m just like him,” Paul admitted.

His mother snatched his head in her hands. It was surprisingly gentle given how instantaneously it happened. “You are never like him.”

“I hit people who make me mad.” Paul gave her a flat look. “That’s exactly what he did, but I don’t want to act like him anymore. I think he always felt weak, so he wanted to make himself feel stronger. At least, that’s how I feel. I feel like I wasn’t strong enough to stop him.” 

It got hard for him to talk. Admitting his feelings seemed to get more and more difficult even as it strangely made him feel better. 

“So now I hit whoever I know I can hit and get away with it. That’s what he did to us.”

His mother opened her mouth a few times and her hands fell away from his face, but she didn’t look like she knew what to say. Paul didn’t want her to make it ok. That would have been the same way she reacted to his father. She’d make excuses for his actions rather than condemning them. 

“I’m going to try a better way though.” Paul wrapped his arms around her. “Mom … “

He took a deep breath. No matter how much he wanted to say the words, it was so hard to say them. Did forgiving someone for what they did mean it was ok that they did it? Did forgiveness mean nobody paid. Shouldn’t someone pay?

“I … “ he froze. He was about to say he wanted her to act more like a mother, and he did, but that wasn’t what he really meant. “I don’t want you to let me do whatever I want anymore, and when I mess up, don’t be afraid to punish me.”

“I’ll never hit you.” The response was so full of anger Paul looked up at her. “I’ll never let you feel pain again.”

“I don’t think it’s the same thing,” Paul said. “I just shouldn’t get away with things.”

He didn’t have a clue why he was saying what he was, but even that was easier than what he really wanted to say. Finally, he took a deep breath. Be strong and courageous. It’s easy to be angry. It’s easy to fight back. It’s way harder to let go.

He sat up straight so he could look at her. 

“Mom, it’s ok.” He pursed his lips. That wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t the same. “I love you, Mom.” That was better, but it was far easier to admit than the last part. “I forgive you.”

Her lips trembled as he spoke, but as he finishes she broke down crying and throwing her face into her hands. “How can you? How can you possibly forgive me!? How can you even look at me.”

The answer seemed to click even as she asked her questions. The funny part is, the answer is what gave him the strength to forgive her.

“I already told you.” He laughed as he said it, and he felt so good. He wasn’t sure he’d ever felt that good before in his life. “I forgive you because I love you. I just want to be your son. I just want you to be my mom!”

It was his turn to weep, but these tears made him feel better. They made him feel free. 

They returned to their embrace, taking turns saying they loved one another and offering their forgiveness. Paul thought back on his life and realized he really had never been this happy before.

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 12

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 12

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 //

“I want to make sure I understand what happened.” Mr. Eckleman pointed at Paul. “Trevor was apparently talking about your mother.” He turned his finger toward Jordan. “You hit him for that, but Trevor said Jordan was the one talking about your mother, so Paul hit Jordan.”

Both boys nodded.

Mr. Eckleman shook his head and looked at Paul. “You’ve been warned about fighting, Paul.”

“I know,” Paul said softly. “Am I going to be expelled?” That’s what the principal had said the last time Paul got into a fight. 

“But I said it was ok!” Jordan leapt up from his seat. “Look, I’m fine, and he said he was sorry.”

“That doesn’t mean he didn’t do anything wrong.” Mr. Eckleman just kept staring at Paul. “Why did you come in here to confess?”

Paul thought for a moment. “I don’t want to be that person anymore.”

No one else said anything. The silence grew every bit as uncomfortable as Mr. Eckleman’s stare. 

“I’m angry all the time.” Paul wasn’t sure if Mr. Eckleman wanted him to keep explaining, but he just couldn’t tolerate the quiet another moment. “I don’t want to be angry, but I don’t know how not to be. I think someone gave me a hint, but even then I’m not sure how it works. I just want to change.”

Paul realized he wanted to sit down and read Romans. No matter how infuriatingly short Nobody’s visits were, they always left him with advice that helped. Nobody’s questions were infuriating, but the answers gave Paul options he hand’t considered. 

“I want to try something new,” he said. “But I guess that doesn’t really matter here.”

Mr. Eckleman smiled. “I wouldn’t say that.”

“You’re not going to punish me!?” Paul was shocked. Maybe he was going to get one last chance. 

“I didn’t say that either,” Mr. Eckleman replied, “but given what you’ve said combined with Jordan’s desire to help you, not to mention your science teacher, who seems to be the only adult in this building you respect, I’m willing to reduce your punishment.”

Paul nodded. It was already more than he deserved, and he knew that. 

“Instead of being expelled, I’m going to suspend you for two weeks,” Mr. Eckleman continued. “I suggest you use that two weeks to do whatever it is you’re planning to do to let go of that anger. If you’d like access to our counselor, we’ll allow that.”

“Thank you, Mr. Eckleman,” Paul said. Then he turned to look at Jordan. “I’m still sorry I hit you. I’m sorry that I didn’t ask what happened.” 

Even in that moment, a part of Paul wanted to track down Trevor and beat him. It was such a powerful desire. I don’t want to be angry anymore!

Jordan shrugged again. “Like I said, it’s ok.”

Mr. Eckleman smiled again. “I’m not actually sure what happened here, but I’m encouraged by it. We’ll call your mother to pick you up.”

The principal dismissed Jordan and had Paul sit in the waiting area until his mother arrived. While he waited, he used his phone to read Romans, trying to see what Nobody was getting at.

The answer the the question Nobody asked was pretty easy to find. 

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” The verse was Romans Chapter 5 Verse 8. 

Paul considered the last thing Nobody had told him. “Nobody deserves forgiveness. That’s why it’s a gift.”

It only took Paul about 45 minutes to read Romans. With nothing better to do, he started reading it again.

His mom appeared after Paul got about halfway through his second pass of the letter. She stood in the doorway. Her long black hair flowed over the her shoulders and nearly blended with the purple Lularoe dress she wore. She looked at Paul with brown eyes that shimmered in unshed tears. 

Paul hated that look for some reason. Why did she have to look at him like that? Did she hate him? Was she disappointed in him because he was turning into someone just like his dad? Was he destined to grow up to be just like the man he hated? 

Paul got up and walked past her on his way to the car. He heard her take in a sharp breath as if she were about to say something, but he didn’t give her time. He walked to the car and got in. He wasn’t particularly interested in reading the Bible, but focusing on his phone seemed to keep his mother from trying to talk. 

He was doing it again. He was ignoring her. He was avoiding her. Why was he so afraid? 

“I’m sorry.”

Paul’s head shot up. He hadn’t noticed his mother had pulled over.

“Every time you defended me,” her voice caught, but she kept speaking. “You’d protect me, and all I could do was patch you up, but I couldn’t do it anymore.”

Paul forced himself to look out his window. He couldn’t look at her. He couldn’t watch her bury her face in her hands and cry. 

After a moment, she found the strength to talk a bit more. “I couldn’t keep trying to heal you when I was the reason you were hurt.”

“Let’s just go,” Paul said sharply. He still couldn’t bring himself to look at her. He didn’t want to see her cry. It hurt him, and in strange way it made him more angry. What did he expect her to do? What did he want from her? 

“I shouldn’t have stopped coming in to help you.” She rushed the words out. “But it was worse because I never should have let him lay a hand on you in the first place.” The last word ended in a wail. She dropped her head onto the wheel of the car and sobbed.

Paul could look away all he wanted. He even shut his eyes. But he couldn’t block out the sound of his mother’s weeping.

“I couldn’t stand to hear you crying,” Paul said. “I couldn’t stand to see you hurt.”

He finally turned to look at her, and tears streamed down his face. “That’s why I did it, Mom. I was trying to protect you, and it never worked.”

In some random parking lot in the suburbs, a mother and son held each other and wept. 

“I’m sorry,” Paul said between sobs. “I’m sorry I was so mean. I’m sorry I avoided you.”

His mother gently pushed him away to look into his eyes. “You don’t owe me an apology for anything! I did this, understand? I failed you.”

He still wanted to know why. He still couldn’t understand why she never left his father. He couldn’t understand why she ever married him in the first place.

“I deserve it,” she continued. “I know you hate me, and I deserve that, but I still love you.”

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 11

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 11

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 //

Paul scrubbed his hands more fiercely as he thought. There was enough to think about considering he was ditching English at the moment, and he was probably going to be expelled if he got caught. This was his third fight this year. 

He was just. so. angry!

“Who have you become because you choose to hold onto your anger.”

Paul’s mother told him his father was beaten as a child. She said that’s why his father beat them. Did that mean Paul would grow up to hit is kids?

He remembered standing over Jordan.  He already hit kids; he was just the same age as they were at the moment. 

A wave of remorse hit him. He rushed out of the bathroom just as he started to weep. 

I don’t want to be that way!

Even as he hated himself for being a bully just like his father, he tried to justify his actions. Jordan had it coming. He was talking trash about Paul’s mother. 

None of his justifications stood up against his firm belief that no one deserved what had happened to him and his mother. 

Lockers zipped by, becoming little more than a streak of red. He wasn’t even sure where he was going, but something pulled at him. He turned into the principles office just as he realized what he was planning to do. 

The secretary yelped as he blew by her into his office. The principal, a plump bald man in his sixties, looked up, and his face became red with anger. Paul froze, suddenly unsure what he really meant to do. 

After another second, Paul noticed who the principal, Mr. Eckleman, was speaking to. Jordan sat across from the administrator with a bag of ice against his right cheek. 

“I’m sorry,” Paul told Jordan while taking a deep breath and using a sleeve to dry his tears. “You didn’t deserve that. No one deserves that. I’m a monster. I’m just like him, and I don’t want to be. I think I’m cursed, but that’s not your fault. It doesn’t matter what you said. I shouldn’t have hit you.”

“What is he talking about?” Mr. Eckleman’s question drew Paul’s attention.

“I don’t know,” Jordan said. 

“You told me you got into a fight with Trevor,” Mr. Eckleman said. 

Trevor? Paul stood there trying to piece the clues together. 

“You said that Trevor was talking about a classmate, and you stood up to defend him.” The principle pointed at Paul. “So why is the person you said you were defending in here apologizing to you?”

Paul’s head spun. Did Jordan lie? Why? Why lie to protect him? Maybe Paul wouldn’t be expelled. Maybe he’d get away with it. Except, he didn’t want to get away with it.

Paul looked at Mr. Eckleman. “I’m not sure what Jordan said, but I’m the one who him. No one else should be punished for what I did.”

“So, who hit Trevor?” 

“What?” Paul didn’t mean to ask the question out loud, but he really had no idea what was going on. 

“I hit Trevor,” Jordan muttered. His brown eyes shifted to Paul. “He’s the one who said that stuff about your mom. He was really being a jerk about it. I told him to knock it off, but that only made him say something worse, so I punched him.”

It was Trevor? Trevor was the one who called Paul’s mom a whore! Rage filled Paul. He wanted to find Trevor and beat him. He wanted to find him and punch him until he never though to … Nobody deserves that!

Even while standing in the principal’s office, Paul couldn’t help himself. He was somehow every bit as ashamed as he was angry. How could he know something is wrong and yet want to do that very thing so much?

“Trevor told me Jordan had said all that stuff,” Paul whispered. “I didn’t even think about it. I just tracked Jordan down and started hitting him.”

Paul’s voice cracked as he gave the confession. “Jordan defended my mom, and I beat him up for it.”

He really was just like his father. He deserved to be expelled. If anyone deserved to be beat up, it was Paul. Maybe that’s what God was doing. Maybe God knew that Paul was going to grow up to b a monster, so he let Paul’s dad beat him up for it like some sort of advanced punishment. 

“It’s ok.” 

Paul’s eyes were closed against the tears, but he clearly heard Jordan speak. 

“What?” This time Paul meant to ask the question out loud. 

“I said it’s ok,” Jordan repeated. “I don’t really know what happened, but everyone knows you went through some bad stuff. I get it.”

“But I hit you! I threatened you.” Paul couldn’t fathom it. All he’d done, for apparently no reason, and Jordan said it was OK? Why?

“It sucks, and I’m mad about it,” Jordan said. “You wouldn’t even listen, but I figure Trevor just lied to you.”

“But why are you saying it’s ok?” Paul shouted the question. It didn’t make sense! What idiot gets beat up and just brushes it off?

… to be continued …

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 9

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 9

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 //


Oct. 17, 2024, 2:31 p.m. 

22.9 Years Ago

Jordan Bieliel lay on the grass as his nose oozed blood. Paul loomed over him with clenched fists. 

“Get up, punk!” It was an effort not to leap on the skinny kid and just whale on him. 

The scuffle quickly drew the attention of a crowd of students, who circled around the fight on the school courtyard. Adrenaline surged through Paul, who hoped Jordan would fight back. 

Instead, the younger kid looked up at Paul. “What’d I do?”

“Don’t act like you don’t know!” Paul stalked toward Jordan, who scrambled back while raising a hand to fend Paul off. “Trevor told me what you said!”

“Trevor’s a liar!” Jordan said. “I never said anything!”

Paul stopped, staring down at Jordan. He was a head shorter and had to weigh 20 pounds less than Paul. As the years passed, Paul grew taller and stronger. He looked like a younger version of his father, and he hated himself for it. 

Paul was about to ask why someone would lie when students started scrambling away. 

“Teacher!” Someone shouted. 

Paul didn’t wait to look around. He took off running. He’d been warned about fighting the last time. He knew the risks, but he was so angry. 

He called my mom a whore! At least that’s what Trevor had told Paul Jordan said. Nobody insults my mom!

Paul comforted himself with the thought that’d he’d at least given Jordan a solid punch. Jordan didn’t even run or try to fight back. Idiot! 

Paul ducked into the school’s science building, his favorite building. It was the only place he felt like the world made sense. He skidded to a stop just outside a bathroom and darted inside. He didn’t think anyone had followed him, so maybe he’d avoid getting into trouble. 

Paul looked at his fist where a splotch of blood sat on his knuckles. He deserved it! Paul told himself as he started washing his hands.

Then his hear leapt up into his throat as he felt the temperature in the bathroom shift from normal, to freezing cold, to burning hot and back again in the blink of an eye. The mirror in front of him fractured. Something flashed behind Paul, and he spun around.

It can’t be! I imagined it! 

It had been almost three years since Nobody had visited. It had been so long that Paul had convinced himself that it was all his imagination. Even as Paul tried to cling to that thought, Nobody stepped out of the stall in front of Paul, who noted a small puddle had formed in that same stall.

Even after three years, not a thing had changed about Nobody. It was the same pea coat. The same gray slacks. He even wore the same stupid red bow tie. The opaque mask hadn’t even faded. Almost three years had passed, and it seemed as though Nobody had stepped right out of Paul’s memory. 

“You … you’re not real,” Paul whispered.

“If I’m not real, where’d that Bible in your night stand come from?” Nobody asked. “More interestingly, where’d that note in the Bible come from?

Rage filled Paul, and he charged the man. Nobody caught him in an embrace. Paul didn’t want a hug; he wanted a fight. He wanted to beat Nobody to death.

“You abandoned me!” Paul shouted. As strong as he’d become, he couldn’t free his arms from Nobody, who simply held Paul. No matter how he struggled, he couldn’t gain any leverage. 

Nobody was strong, but he was strangely gentle, only using the energy necessary to keep Paul still. Paul was easily one of the biggest kids his age, but he was still a teenager in the grip of a grown man.

“You’ve never been abandoned,” Nobody whispered. “Just because you haven’t seen me, it didn’t mean I wasn’t there.”

Tears started to fall from Paul’s eyes, and his anger faded.  “I was so angry! I was so alone!”

“We feel alone sometimes, but it doesn’t mean we are,” Nobody said. “You had your mother.”

The comment hit a nerve in Paul’s heart. He managed to shove himself away from Nobody. “But she just let it happen! I called the police! I saved us! What did she do?”

“So were alone because nobody wanted you, or were you alone because you didn’t want to forgive your mother?” Nobody asked. “How many times has she tried to talk about it?”

“Shut up!” Paul yelled.

“How many times has she asked you to forgive her?” No matter how loudly Paul shouted, Nobody’s tone didn’t raise a bit. 

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 8

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 8

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 //

“Maybe the verse inspired me to do what I’ve wanted to do all along, but that’s still just me,” Paul argued.

Nobody remained silent and still for a few moments before eventually bowing his head and taking in a deep breath. “I’d like you to consider what you read over the next few books of the Bible. Could you ask yourself what happened every time the Israelites looked to their own strength?”

“Why is it so important to you that I read the Bible?” Paul asked.

Nobody turned his head in Paul’s direction. “I gave you the Bible. I will ask you questions about what you read, but I’m not making you read it.”

“That doesn’t mean you don’t want me to.”

Nobody nodded his head. “When I first spoke to you, you were hurt, and you were looking for answers.  I want you to read the Bible because I know the real answers you’re looking for are there. Sure, I expect you’ll read everything you can get your hands on that the world has to offer to understand how I visit you, but even if that does eventually help you understand how I move from where I was to here, it won’t tell you why you were beaten. It won’t tell you how you should act. It won’t tell you why your mom stopped coming in to comfort you.”

“And the Bible will?” Paul didn’t even try to hide the scorn in his voice. 

“To be honest, you’ve already read the reason, but you haven’t yet read the explanation,” Nobody said. “You have half the answer, but it’s not one any person appreciates hearing. That’s why you need to wait for the other half. You have half of an equation, and you won’t even be ready to consider the truth until you find the rest.”

That didn’t make any sense to Paul. He wasn’t even close to being halfway through the Bible, and he didn’t have any answers on why his dad was the way he was. 

“I thought it would be over,” Paul whispered. 

“How so?” Nobody asked. 

“You can read my mind, so why are you asking?” Paul asked.

“Because you get annoyed when I tell you what you’re thinking, and I really don’t want to annoy you any more than I have to.”

Paul cocked his head. Nobody didn’t admit he was a mind reader, not in so many words, but the man did admit he knew what Paul was thinking.

“I thought I’d call the police, and my dad would get thrown in jail, and that would be it,” Paul said.

“Life is a journey,” Nobody said. “I’ve come to think of it like a testing ground in a way. Trials come to test you. But there are good times, too.”

Paul’s lip trembled. It wasn’t the words Nobody used. It was the hope they implied. Paul couldn’t remember being happy. He wondered if he ever was. The last twelve years of his life seemed filled by nothing but pain and sadness. Was he ever going to have those good times.

Nobody stood. “I promise you that one day, you will see the reason for all of this. I promise you, God has a plan, and it is good.”

“How is getting beat my whole life any good?!” Paul kept shouting even as Nobody calmly walked out of the room. Paul’s rage fueled him even more. “How is my mom and I nearly dying a good thing?! What possible good can come of me being hated by my own father?!””

The temperature swung back and forth, just like it always did when Nobody came or left. A part of Paul noted that the effect wasn’t so easy to feel this time, maybe because Nobody was farther away? He didn’t see the flash of light, but he did hear that strange sort of electrical surge. All of those things registered in Paul’s mind even as he shouted.

“Why did it have to happen?! Does your stupid book say that?!” Tears were streaming down his face. It hurt. It hurt so bad, and that jerk told him it was good! “Why did it have to happen to me? What did I do?”

A nurse, a scrawny stick of man wearing deep blue hospital scrubs, came scurrying into the room. “It’s ok!” The nurse’s voice was gentile, but urgent. “You’re safe now! You’re in a hospital. No one’s going to hurt you.”

The nurse must have thought Paul had woken from a nightmare. The man slowly wrapped an arm around Paul, trying to comfort him. Paul just kept crying. He didn’t understand, and he didn’t think he ever would. 

The end of Chapter 3.

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 5

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 5

PT 1

PT 2

PT 3

PT 4


May 1, 2021 

26.5 Years Ago

Paul sat at the dinner table quietly eating his food, which was chicken and mashed potatoes. His dad was home, so the house was quiet. The occasional piece of silverware clanked against the white porcelain plates, but those were the only sounds. 

The quiet gave Paul more time to think, but he seemed to only have more questions. It’d been just about six months since Nobody had visited. It had also been five beatings. It probably meant Nobody had been some weird game his own imagination had played on him. Except Paul went out to check the next day, and the cracked window was still there. Also, the Bible Nobody had given him was there, so Paul read it.

He’d kept his promise to a man who apparently didn’t care that Paul was still being attacked. But Paul couldn’t blame him. It wasn’t like anybody did anything about his dad’s beatings. 

He’d reached the book of Joshua, and one part kept bugging him. “Be strong and courageous.” 

Everything he’d read in the book so far frustrated him. If God were real, and he kept bailing the Israelites out, why didn’t he step in for Paul? Why didn’t he stop COVID any sooner? Vaccines had made their way around the country, but if there was a God, why not just miraculously heal everyone? Why not cure cancer and stop death? Why help thousands of Israelites generations ago and no one today? 

Whatever frustrated him, that one part just kept ringing through his mind. Why did they need strength if God was going to do everything? Why did they need courage if they knew they had the creator of everything on their side? What does it mean to be strong and courageous. 

“Eat your food!” Paul reflexively obeyed. 

His father’s tone was angry. It was scary when his father was drunk, but when he used that tone, and he was sober, it was terrifying. 

Paul shoved another few bites in his mouth, trying to keep the meal running smoothly. 

“What’s wrong?” Paul’s mother asked. 

“It doesn’t matter if something’s wrong,” his father’s tone hit a new octave. “I told him to eat.”

Paul glanced at his mother, hoping she’d understand that he was far more worried about his father’s mood than anything else. Anything else. The chicken nearly vanished off the plate as Paul ate it, trying to make sure he didn’t overfill his mouth. His dad hated it when he looked like some sort of chipmunk. 

Even as he worked to keep his father happy, Paul’s thoughts drifted. He’d kept his word to Nobody, but he read a lot more than just the Bible. He was trying to figure out how Nobody did it. He read books on science and even a biography on Harry Houdini. Paul really didn’t expect there to be any magical explanation. No, the answer was science. It had to be some sort of teleportation. So Paul had honed in on physics. He had to know how Nobody did it. He wanted to know why he hand’t come back any of the last five times.

Then he read that most recent chapter. It seemed a challenge to Paul. The only reason someone would have to be strong would be if God expected them to do something. 

“I’m going out,” Paul’s dad stood from the table, leaving his plate where it was. 

Paul shot from his chair and snatched the plate before his dad had made it out of the dining room. Paul rinsed the plate and put it in the dishwasher. He winced as he heard his mom speak.

“Do you have go out?” she asked.

“Gonna spend time with the boys,” he answered. That meant he was going to get hammered. 

“I thought you said we needed to watch what we spend?” 

Oh no! Mom, why would you say that?

His father had made it to the front door when she asked her stupid question. His head slowly turned around, and his face melted into a look of pure rage.

“Are you telling me what to do with my own money?” His tone was low and angry. His dark eyebrows furrowed together. The sneer alone should have sent both of them running. 

“No!” His mom said. She started speaking quickly, but Paul knew it was already too late. “I was just wondering if you’d remembered what you’d said.”

That’s even worse, Mom!

Paul’s father turned. His thick, black boots sounded like thunder as they stomped across the carpet. Be strong and courageous!

Paul moved without thinking.

“Are you calling me a liar?” He screamed the question. Why didn’t the neighbors ever call the police? People in the next county should be able to hear when his father was like this!

Paul’s father reached up a hand to slap her, but Paul made it in time. He charged at his father and drove a shoulder into him as hard as he could. 

He bounced off the thick man and crashed to the floor. 

Everybody else seemed to freeze. Paul didn’t hurt his father one bit. He seemed stunned. A corner of his father’s lips curled into and amused smirk. 

“Well look who decided to grow a backbone.” Paul’s father chuckled and pointed a square finger at him, shouting. “You’re all tough now, aren’t you?”

Until that moment, Paul had always just tried to stand between his father and mother. Every now and then, he’d had to lay over top of his mom to keep his father from stomping on her or kicking her. Those boots were thick!

But whatever he did, it was defensive. This was the first time he’d tried to actually fight, and his first attack simply made his father laugh in derision. 

… to be continued …

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 2

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 2

Click here to read part one.

“He’s evil.” The admission somehow felt right and wrong to Paul. We was relived to have said it, but he felt guilty about it. 

“There is no one who is good,” Nobody said.

“Mom’s not evil!” Paul kept his voice to a harsh whisper, but he’d die before he let anyone say something about his mother, even in some roundabout way. 

“I see a distinction between evil and not good,” Nobody explained. He stood and made his way back to the backpack he’d left on the floor. “You know you could report your father, but you haven’t. She could also report your father, and you know that. And a part of you is angry at her for it.”

Paul opened his mouth to deny it, but the lie wouldn’t come. A tear rolled down his cheek. He endured the pain of each lash of his father’s belt, but a single thought that he held any anger for his mom broke him.

“I know you love your mother,” Nobody said. “And I know she loves you.”

Nobody opened the bag and rummaged around. The moonlight peering through the window wasn’t enough to see well in, so Paul couldn’t make out what the man was retrieving. 

“How do you know? What do you want? Why are you here?” Paul wasn’t sure which question was more important to him. 

The man came back to the bed. “Lie down on your stomach,” he said. “We need to dress those wounds.”

Paul stared at him. If the man was here to hurt anyone, he could have by now. Screaming would only wake his father, and then someone would definitely die. Running off to call the police would only bring them to Paul’s house, which would again wake his father and get someone killed. 

As Paul considered what to do, Nobody held out his hands, which were filled with bandages. 

“I’ve already told you I’m here to help, and I know what I know because I was very much like you once.” Nobody gently guided Paul down. “Be ready for the sting.”

That’s what mom always told me when she used to patch me up.

Paul focused his thoughts and started to breath deeply. As he sucked in a third breath of air, one of the wounds on his back seemed to light afire. Nobody was using peroxide to clean the cuts. Paul reflexively let out his breath. He used to cry out when he felt pain, but he learned not to after the only time he managed to wake his father from a drunken stupor. 

“Tomorrow,” Nobody said while cleaning another cut. “He’ll come in, right?”

Paul waited for the sting of Nobody’s efforts to pass before answering. “He’ll cry and say he doesn’t know why he does it, or he’ll try to explain he only does it because mom and me make him so angry. But he’ll get all weepy and beg us for forgiveness. He’ll buy mom some stupid present and talk about me like I’m the world’s greatest son. Then he’ll ask us to give I’m another chance.”

“How many chances will you give him?” Thankfully, Nobody had finished cleaning the cuts. Paul felt what had to be adhesive bandages being pressed along his wounds.

Paul thought about the question even as Nobody worked. “I don’t really forgive him,” he finally said. “But I’ve come to expect it from him. It’s just what he does. And Mom just lets him do it.”

“Doesn’t she try to take on the brunt of his beatings?” Nobody pressed another bandage into place. 

“She can’t handle it! Dad almost killed her last time.” His justification for why he stands in his father’s way confirmed the reason he had to do it in the first place. 

“And if he kills you?”

Paul realized Nobody was finished. He turned and sat up. Nobody was already back on his feet. He reached back in the bag to pull out some sheets. 

Paul could only shrug. If his father killed him, at least the beatings would be over.

“Reporting him wouldn’t be a betrayal,” Nobody said. “It might change how people look at you. It might change how people look at your mom. It would absolutely get your dad in trouble, but it might help him.”

“Prison doesn’t help anyone.” Paul said. He’d heard people talking about tall the horrible things that happen in prison. 

“Stand up so we can make change those sheets,” Nobody said. He continued even as Paul started to help. “Maybe bad things will happen to your dad in prison, but just a few minutes ago you were hoping I was here to take him away, so you’ve clearly thought about this.”

Every minute of my life. Every time he hits me. It’s all Paul ever wanted, someone to come take his father away. But Mom says losing Dad would kill her.

They pulled the bloody sheets off the bed. “If your father goes to prison, it might hurt your mom. She might get sad. I doubt she’d die. It would not be easy. The real question is how many more beatings do you think either of you could take?”

Nobody tossed a corner of the fitted sheet across the bed for Paul to put into place. The naked mattress had several blood stains. Not all of them were fresh.  “As many as I have to.”

“And if I call the police?” Nobody asked as he positioned his portions of the sheet around the corners of the mattress. 

“I can’t stop you,” Paul said. 

Nobody’s masked head turned toward him. “So you want me to do something you know needs to happen. You want me to do it, so it’s not your fault it happened.”

“You’re the grown up!” Paul said. “You just appear in my room. You patch me up. You help me make my bed.”

Nobody tossed the top sheet across the bed and tucked in his side as he spoke. “I’ve helped you do things you aren’t able to do.” 

“Then help me with my dad!” It was getting harder to keep his voice down. Years of beatings made him too afraid to shout, even a situation as crazy as this. 

“No,” he said. “I wont’ help you because you know what you need to do. You don’t need me to make this call. But I will tell you that you can. In this situation, you know the right thing to do. You just have to do it.” 

They finished tucking the sheet in, and Nobody bundled up the discarded bloody sheets and shoved them into his backpack. 

“How do I ever know I’m doing the right thing?” Paul asked. He wanted to. He wanted his mom to be safe. He wanted the beatings to stop. He wanted his father to be nice. He just didn’t know what to do to make all of those things happen. Isn’t the right thing the thing that will make everything right?

Nobody turned from his backpack and dropped something onto the bed. Paul stared at it until he could make it out. 

It was a Bible. 

…to be continued…

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 17

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 17

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.

See Part 4 here.

See Part 5 here.

See Part 6 here.

See Part 7 here.

See Part 8 here.

See Part 9 here.

See Part 10 here.

See Part 11 here.

See Part 12 here.

See Part 13 here.

See Part 14 here.

See Part 15 here.

See Part 16 here.

The Visit

I got on a plane at around 7 p.m.  I landed in Phoenix at about 9 p.m., but with time difference, that means I was in the air for about five hours. When I landed, I linked up with my sister and her children. We jumped straight in the car and took the three-hour drive into Yuma.

By the time we got to another relative’s house, it was one in the morning, and I was exhausted. I went straight into a room, said my prayers, read my Bible and passed out.

We drove to my parents house the next day.  Mom answered the door. I tend to seem unsympathetic.  I might actually be unsympathetic. I’ve always confessed I’ve never been the most sympathetic person. I am, however, empathetic, not like one of the characters in one of my books, but still fairly able to understand the emotional temperature of the room.

I say all of this because my arrival wasn’t some made-for-tv sort of moment where we hugged and cried. That’s just not how our family works. I hugged her. It was startling to see how much weight she’d lost. To be clear, she didn’t look frail, except she’d lost a lot of muscle weight in her legs, which causes her to have trouble standing after sitting down.

She still looked like mom. I honestly had this mental picture of her having been shaved bald.  That wasn’t the case. The sides of her head had clearly been shaved, but it had grown back in the time since her surgery. Honestly, she looked much better than the mental picture I had in my mind.

We all sat down.  My first concern was talking to my mom. I asked her how she was. I asked her about the new procedure she was about to start. Then, I asked her if she was ready for it.


Talking to my mom is a bit tricky.  What I knew right away was that my mom is still in there. She’s still mom.  She’s restless and relentless. She wants a clean house. She wants to talk to and play with her grandkids. I think her lack of ability to communicate, and the physical toll this illness has taken, caused her to feel like she’s a burden.  The woman who was obviously the back-bone to my entire family wasn’t happy needing help.

While mom is still mom, it seems like someone took her entire lexicon and scrambled it. She knows what she means, but she’s using words that don’t match her intended meaning.  She’ll use one familial term when she means the other.  She’ll use one adjective and mean something else. Then she has a few words that sort of sound like placeholders for a lot of other words. “Flaming (or flame)” is the one I remember most. She might be talking about her carpets or a bedroom or even the walls.  This means that talking to her requires a lot of patience and a great deal of translation. However, she’s very good at answering questions, so I quickly realized asking her yes/no questions was a good approach.

That day was a lot of conversation, but it was also incredibly mundane. Were it not for my mom’s struggle with word choice, it would have been like any other visit. She sat there while my dad and I watched the game. My nephew played around the house while my niece reclined on a chair, working on her phone.

In the last segment, I talked about my mantra. Listen, and be supportive. So once Mom said she was ready to take on this new challenge, I looked at my dad, sister, and mom, and said, “So we’re all on the same page. We’re going to do this treatment and see how it goes.”

Seeing my mom walk around and talk and play with her grandchildren really boosted my mood. I think it helped my sister too. I have it easy. I saw mom up and about, complaining that her house wasn’t clean “enough.” I’ve never had to take her to a hospital. I’ve never had to see her lie in a bed, unable to move a limb or even most of her body. For those in my family who had to sit through that, I can’t even imagine the worry that would bring.

Once we started talking about how we got to this point, the reason the problem existed served to become the source of friction in the family. There are actually other sources of friction, but the one causing the most pressure was the manner in which one describes what’s happening.

The surgeon said the tumor had grown and that it was inoperable. This is the individual my sister trusts.  Why not? He’s the doctor who performed that first surgery on my mother.

The oncologist said that the MRI was inconclusive. The swelling and fluid in my mother’s brain was simply too bad for us to really know what was going on. This is the individual my father would quote.

Early on in this testimony, I mentioned my mom qualified for a new, experimental treatment. I’m not speaking on the overall effectiveness of this treatment, but it didn’t work for my mother. She consistently needed to be checked in to the hospital for various side effects. The worst issue wasn’t caused by that as I understand it.  The biggest issue always happened when they tried to ween my mom off the steroids. Please do not take this as a statement of my opinion of the experimental treatment. I don’t have nearly enough data.  All I know is what happened this time with my mom.

As true as that statement is, my sister worried that this approach might be just another excuse to try another experimental treatment. If anyone suspected that, I can only imagine how much distrust and anger that would generate.  I don’t know. I literally have no idea. I’ve never met the oncologist, but while listening, I realized that was my sister’s opinion. I don’t have time to investigate the motives of this oncologist, so again, please don’t take this as a statement of truth.  The only verified truth of what you’re reading here is what my sister felt.

So when facing a new round of treatment, how natural would it be to feel that it might just be a new thing to try? If one believes a doctor is just looking to push the boundaries of science, who would volunteer their mother to be the lead subject?

My dad offered the most logical source of relief. This treatment, avastin infusion, is a normal, FDA-approved treatment. It’s not experimental.  In fact, regardless of possible motives or which of the two sources of information was correct, this treatment is the solution.

Avastin (more scientifically called Bevacizumab), is indeed used as treatment of gioblastoma. It is used specifically for brain tumors that were resistant to previous treatments.

The link I gave you, a link to the NPS Medicinewise website, gives the eye-crossing science of it, but here’s what I know I know.

Avastin essentially cuts off the blood (and therefore the food) supply to tumors. This should stop, or at least slow, the tumor’s growth. It also reduces swelling, which is what the steroids were for. The problem with steroids is that using that much for that long on my mother would eventually just contribute to the problem. So this treatment should work against the tumor while reducing the swelling that’s causing problems.

The plan is to administer a few (three) treatments and then take another MRI to see how things are going.

Knowing this was a normal, FDA-approved course of action put my sister a bit more at ease. I sat there, listening to the discussion. Frankly, I got pretty upset at the team caring for my mom. Being in the military taught me something about communication: When you can, go straight to the source. My frustration was that two people even spoke to my family. I’d be fine with the whole team being in the room to answer specific questions, but man would my family be a lot less stressed if one guy gave us one situation and then provided the list of options to which my father referred when I called him the day before. I’m not saying they’re horrible people or anything.  This conflict had way more to do with the team’s communication skills than their medical skill.

Frustration or no frustration, it provided a very clear line in which my family could stand on opposite sides.

The first task was making sure everyone was supportive of the current course of action. We got there pretty quickly.  I’m still not sure how well I did anything else.

It’s difficult because my family hans’t been united for a very long time. My biological father molested one of my sisters. That divorce did a lot of damage. It damaged our faith:

When my mom was about to move us out, the church we attended at the time saw fit to visit (en mass). They told her, and I still remember the quote.

“You need to get over it and keep your marriage together.”

They argued the sanctity of marriage to my mother, who was trying to get our family (and the rest of her daughters, three of which still lived at home) away from this person who committed this awful act.

I feel compelled to explain something. Matthew 5:32 makes one thing perfectly clear, “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”  That word “except” starts the most important prepositional phrase ever in terms of divorce and Christianity. No, a person is not obligated to get a divorce, but my mother was in every Biblical right to divorce my bio-dad.

Apparently that church forgot to read that particular verse in the Bible. As I’ve read and studied the Bible, I’ve come to see that church was (I have no idea what it’s doing these days) sadly misguided in their actions and woefully inaccurate in its doctrine. My greatest obstruction in my walk with Jesus is without a doubt false teachers. I encountered more, but this particular event was what drove the wedge between my family and the Church (if not God Himself).

My bio-dad’s abuse fractured our family: The chain of events that started on that day only got worse and worse, particularly for my sister.  This sister is not the one with whom our mother stayed. I have a lot of sisters.  I commonly call this sister my oldest, but that’s only accurate in terms of siblings I spent a large portion of my life with. Each time something happened, more wedges were driven. We were separated from people we love. The desire for acceptance and attention became critical. Our motivation was validation through gifts and words of affection.

Mom fought to keep us together. Mom fought to make sure we got along. I don’t know if my siblings share this opinion, but I feel that what happened was we all chose to compete for her affection rather than love. It’s shown in various ways. The most common would be to raise ourselves up by speaking ill about the others. I am easily as guilty of this as anyone else in my family.  Rather than being good children and good siblings, we competed to be the best child.

How I wish we’d studied the Lord’s Supper at some point.  How could we though? We’d already been poisoned against God’s words by a list of false teachers.

During the Lord’s Supper, the apostles began a competition to determine who among them was the best. Jesus responded to this debate by washing the feet of each of his apostles. When every one of Jesus’s most trusted disciples were fighting over being the greatest, Jesus showed them the way by doing the most demeaning, humiliating service that could be done in this time. See Luke 22, Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 20.

Here we are, nearly 30 years later. When my family got that news, words were said. Feelings were hurt. Yes, I know that’s passive voice.  To make the phrase active, let’s say, accurately, that relatives did things and/or said things to each other that hurt. I don’t need to (or want to) list the accusations or perceived offenses.  What I want is for you readers to try and imagine how a family hardened by nearly 30 years of stress  would react when the  central foundation of that family is the person we’re fighting over.

My efforts are to change the wording of this. Rather than fighting over, I hope to get to a place where we’re fighting with her.

For those families split by atrocity, whatever it may be, I ask you to be sure that your focus is on the family as a unit. It was hard for my mom. I didn’t make it easy. I was a prideful, hateful little bastard. I wasn’t exactly an angel before the divorce, and when it happened I, who bear a tremendous physical resemblance to the bio-dad, felt powerless, and I sought power by lying and undermining everyone I could. Even when I realized how selfish and hateful that course of action was, I still sought to be the most loved so that I felt like I was the least like the man who I still recognize because the face in the mirror is hauntingly, agonizingly so much like the face of the man I still struggle to forgive.

Those are my wrongs. Those are my crimes, and in this tale I focus on what I am doing and what I can do to be better.

All of my siblings struggle with this history. I’ve found immense comfort in studying the Bible and applying what it has taught me. So once we all acknowledged that this course of action was the right one for mom, I did the only think I knew was right.

I asked what I could do to help, and I did it. Then I had to keep working with my sisters to at least act like the children we should be.



Questions and Revelations

You actually want to forgive that molester? 

That’s the real problem. You see, the fact is, I know I should. We should forgive others, so that we are forgiven (Matthew 6:14).  That verse doesn’t say, “unless he did something really bad.” In fact one of the biggest issues facing the world today is the idea that there are “lesser sins” and “greater sins.” The simple fact is, sin is detestable to God (Proverbs 6:16) That particular reference provided six things the Lord expressly hates.

We are saved because Jesus took that wrath upon himself, cleansing us with his blood, speaking for us to God so that he may pass over the judgement for which we are all deserving.

We protest sins we don’t like, but we don’t reproach ourselves of the sins we commit because we think them “less offensive” to God.

When the divorce was fresh, and later, when the bio-dad died, I truly struggled with the idea that I might see him one day in Heaven. We picture Heaven as this blissful place where we see all the people we like, and none of the people we hate.  But God isn’t that small. We humans judge and classify things that are small in comparison to the universe as a whole.  We elevate ourselves higher, when the fact is, on any scale, we’re nothing.

So I’ve known my whole life that I should forgive. I’ve even said I forgive. Gotten over, is the more accurate term.  Think about it. Were you ever close to someone. Did someone that close to you ever do something to you that you just couldn’t get over?  It may be the case.  God, however, can get over anything. I say again, anything.  Does that mean the bio-dad is in Heaven? I don’t know.  I’ll let you know when I see you there, if you are saved.

The fact is, Heaven will be filled with the saved. I know for a fact there are people I love who don’t have a ticket. It doesn’t make me not love them, but the ticket into Heaven was bought by the blood of Jesus, and only those who acknowledge that and accept him into their hearts will get one. That means that when I get there, I might see bio-dad. He certainly proclaimed his salvation.  Many have, but that’s not necessarily the truth.

Does that mean I’ll rage out or I’ll hit him. No, because when Jesus returns, all of our sin, including the hate and resentment I feel, will leave me. We’ll all be like Jesus.

Some non-believers use this as justification to remain apart from God. They say, “I could never believe in a God who could forgive a killer.”

There it is again, a mortal elevating one sin above another. A man who lies is every bit as offensive to God as one who kills. I actually wrote a short-story on that years ago. I knew even then that sin is sin, and it’s wrong. It is equally offensive to God regardless of its classification.

I argue it is better to have a God who can forgive anyone of any sin. I feel this way because I’ve done some seriously wrong stuff in my life. I’ve stolen. I’ve fornicated. No, I’ve never killed.

I feared my bio-dad’s crime so much that I realized later in life that I avoided relationships.  I sought out pornography and strip clubs because I was terrified that one day whatever disease or insanity that struck bio-dad, and let’s not forget his bio-dad, the rapist, would visit me.  I kept thinking, “Well, you know, the bio-dad had several daughters, so maybe some strange thing happened in his brain to make him this way.”

For the record, even if that is/was the case, we still choose to sin. Our lusts, no matter how dark, are symbols of our humanity. Our faith is demonstrated in how we resist temptation.  For a long time, I resisted it by being shy. I resisted it by hiding from the possibility.

I think I’m a good uncle. In my arrogance, I happen to feel pretty strongly that I represent all the best things an uncle should be. But what made me fight to be such a great uncle wasn’t just my love for my nieces and nephews.  They were what I felt I was allowed to have in my life. I honestly felt I didn’t deserve love or children because my biological track record had disqualified me. I “could handle” nieces and nephews. I “could handle” being in the “friend zone.”

I have never once felt the desire to molest a child. I’ve never looked at a kid and been tempted. In fact, to this day I’m careful. I hug. I never kiss on the lips.  I fought for decades to avoid a temptation I’ve never felt, and what it cost me was time I can’t get back.

It took me a while to realize most of the children I know today have no memory of the bio-dad.  They’ve no clue at all who he was or what he did. All they know is their Uncle Matt.  I have a young cousin who get’s mad at me from time to time.  You see, I fly her around like  an airplane, and this airplane is very disappointing when it lacks the energy to keep her flying around endlessly.

My nephew gets mad I won’t tickle fight 24/7.

My other niece loves drawing with her uncle.

Saleah liked listening to me play guitar and sing. She loved watching TV with me. Now she’s off to college.

For decades, I struggled with avoiding a man I could never be. All it did was keep me from being the man I can be.

I have an opportunity now. I have this woman I mean to marry one day (soon), and she has three boys of her own. I see a lot of my concerns in them, and I intend to make sure they don’t live their whole lives trying to not be someone.

Our vow to not have sex until marriage (which is currently the only line remaining to cross), is important to me for that reason. I want to endure the temptation of having sex with her to show my faith to God’s will and my trust in him. It shows control of myself.

Whoever we are, God forgives. Whoever we are, Jesus saves. We show our faith and increase our bounty in Heaven by bearing fruit (helping to save others) and resisting temptation (whatever it may be).  Please know that you can never simply push on sinning thinking, “God will forgive me.” Sanctification is the reduction of sin in our lives so that we may be more Holy each day. This means I need to be less of a prideful jerk, and whatever your sin is, no matter how “small” or “large” you think it is, you need to repent and stop.

If we do, no matter who we are, we’ll be forgiven, and we’ll all see each other when Christ returns. We may even see people we hated in this life. If that happens, we’ll be incapable of hate, so we won’t hate them in the next.

For those of you who feel this probability is why one shouldn’t turn to God, I ask you to consider that you may see some people you don’t like, but is there really anyone you like less than Satan? Would you really risk hanging with him for the rest of eternity simply to avoid seeing anyone else? I wouldn’t. He’s the source of evil. He’s who introduced us to sin in the first place.


This incredibly long section is still only a part of the larger, but to help you understand where I come from and how hard it is for our family to unite, I had to explain how  we got to this point.

If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading