Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 17

Visits From A Man Named Nobody PT 17

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 //

“Ok.” Jordan’s comment caused Paul to spin and look at him as he grabbed his game card and started to walk off.

“No it isn’t!” Paul stepped in front of the game. The timer was down to three seconds. Was Jordan really just going to give up?

The timer reached zero. They’d have to start all the way over. They’d hardly made it five seconds further into the game than they did the last time, and now they had to start all the way over. Anger boiled inside Paul. He wanted to pound someone, and those boys were standing there smug and satisfied.

Jordan walked up to Paul. “I know you can take them. I know you can beat them.” Jordan spoke low and soft. With all the noise from the games and other kids playing, it was hard for even Paul to hear. “But you said you didn’t want to be that person. It’s a game, our favorite game, but still a game. Is it really worth it?”

Yes! It was his game. It was time for him to relax. He just wanted something to go his way for one minute! Those boys wanted to just bully people and get away with it. 

“Don’t do this,” Jordan whispered. “You’re angry. Even I’m angry.”

Paul glared at his friend. In the time they’ve been best friends, Paul had never seen Jordan so much as raise his voice. He didn’t have the first clue what it was to be angry.

The squat boy stepped up closer. He and his lackey hadn’t even tried to play the game. They never cared about it. They just wanted to boss someone around. “You got something to say?”

Jordan put his hand on Paul’s shoulder even before Paul could process the other boy’s challenge. 

“You’re making a choice,” Jordan said. “Everything you do is a choice you make. Choose to do the thing the person you want to be would do.”

Paul looked at Jordan again. Paul supposed if he could be like anyone, he’d be like Jordan. Kind, smart, patient, and gentle. Paul wasn’t any of those things. There wasn’t a hint of those traits in him anywhere. Paul didn’t have a hope in Hell of ending up like Nobody. Nobody was wise and loving. Nobody seemed to think about everything, and he always found some way to sway a conversation back to the Bible. Paul wasn’t really interested in the Bible, but Nobody had helped him. 

Neither Nobody nor Jordan would be thinking about how easy it would be to punch the boy in front of Paul. 

Paul glared at him. “We have the top five scores.” Even as he spoke, Paul hoped the boy would try to shove him or punch him. Then he’d have an excuse. “I guess it’s only fair to let you play since we’re clearly better, and you clearly need the practice.”

Paul turned and walked away. It was the second time that day he’d walked away when all he wanted to do was fight. Paul didn’t want to be a bully. He didn’t want to hit people, but it seemed like the more Paul worked to avoid getting into fights, the more people seemed to want to aggravate him. Jordan kept pace with him. Paul wasn’t sure where he was going. He stormed out of the store and started walking down the street.

Paul tried to slow his breathing, but he was just so angry. He glanced at Jordan, who looked back at him with a worried expression. 

“How do you do it? Where do you come up with some of the things you say?” Paul shouted at him. Jordan hadn’t done anything wrong, but Paul couldn’t help himself. 

Jordan shrugged. “My dad’s always telling me that stuff.” He used his fingers to count off phrases. “Everything you do is a choice you make. Choose to do the right thing. Nobody makes you do anything. Control your body. Honor God. Love your neighbor.”

Paul jabbed a finger in the direction of the arcade. “Those boys may not even go to our school!”

Jordan let out a chuckle. “That’s not what it means.”

Paul threw up his hands. “So I’m supposed to just let everyone walk all over me!” 

“Are you shouting at me because you just want to be mad at someone?” Jordan’s question took some of the air out of Paul’s anger. “Dude it’s one thing if you’re, like a police man defending his partner or a father protecting his kid, but what are you really losing by giving up a turn in a video game?”

“It’s my game!” Paul said.

“Dude, it belongs to the arcade.” 

“Why do you never yell!?” Paul was probably shouting loud enough for the world to hear.

Jordan waited, looking at Paul. Finally, he spoke in that same calm tone. “Does it work for you?”

Paul thought about it. Somehow, his anger just fell away. A burst of laughter erupted from Paul. It was ridiculous. Paul yelled and shouted. A part of him wanted Jordan to start an argument, or even a fight, less than a second ago. Now Paul had trouble breathing.

“I hate that about you,” Paul said. 

“Um, sorry?” Jordan said. 

Paul laughed even harder. He managed to calm down. With nothing better to do, he started walking toward his house. “I still don’t know how you do it. I’m the person you have the most reason to hate, and you’re my best friend. Sometimes I don’t even know why you hang out with me.”

“Because you keep wanting to hang out with me,” Jordan replied. 

They walked together for a moment. Paul didn’t now what to say. He would have been happy to walk in silence, but Jordan spoke again. “It’s hard sometimes.”

“I’m sorry,” Paul muttered. 

“Not being your friend.” Jordan chucked as he said it. “Well, ok, sometimes your temper frustrates me, but that’s not what I was talking about. I do get angry.”

“I’ve never once seen you angry.” Paul rolled his eyes at his friend. 

“I’m angry now,” Jordan said. “I’m trying to tell you that I do get angry. I get mad when people bully other people. I get mad when people make fun of me.” He paused. “I get mad when people make you mad. They do it because they want to see you hit someone. They think it’s funny when you lash out or fight. It’s manipulative.”

“But you never do anything about it,” Paul said. 

Paul managed to walk another ten seconds before he realized Jordan had stopped. He looked like Paul had hit him.

“What?” Paul asked. 

“I did do something,” Jordan said. “I stopped you. I help you avoid being manipulated. I  kept you from doing something I knew you’d regret. Did you want me to hit them or push them?”

Paul didn’t know what to say. For some reason, he felt more ashamed than he had in the arcade. A part of him did want Jordan to lash out or shout once in a while. But another part of Paul wouldn’t ever want to see Jordan that angry. What would have to happen to make him that mad?

“I get angry when you don’t get angry, or look angry, I guess,” Paul admitted. “When you do that thing where you’re calm and you don’t shout, it makes me feel even more out of control. I don’t even know what I’m trying to say.”

“I get it,” Jordan said. “I feel the same way sometimes. It’s hard. I get so mad, but it takes a sort of practice. When I was eight or nine, my dad started talking to me about controlling myself. He made me start martial arts. I thought he wanted me to be able to defend myself, but then he told me he did it to help me focus. My dad doesn’t play around.”

Paul scowled. Jordan noticed and put up his hands. “Not like that! I mean, yeah, he’s grounded me. Once he took at least half of my favorite toys.But he doesn’t … “

“He never beat you.” The sound hardly made it past Paul’s lips. 

… 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 //

Four

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. 

A Pretty Successful Debut! Repressed Is Off To A Good Start!

A Pretty Successful Debut! Repressed Is Off To A Good Start!

Greetings all,

CoverLayoutIn my last post I mentioned a bit about how Repressed had a solid start.  So I thought I’d try to keep the momentum going while sharing some insight for those trying to get their journey as authors started.

Social media posts and word of mouth helped me get my third-most pre-sales ever. Before anyone start to think I’m quitting my day job, I had eight pre-sales.  The Power of Words had the most ever (17). Caught came in second (13).  This might seem terrible to some. It sure didn’t feel like much to me, but those numbers compare pretty favorable to a number of the authors I speak to on a regular basis. Some of them are stable, full-time authors.  It’s certainly not a ton compared to those best sellers, but at the level I’m currently climbing toward, it’s a good place. People, especially new authors, should focus on goals and those goals should be based on data and expectations established by people in a similar situation. If I compare myself to Brandon Sanderson, I’m going to cry and never write again. However, if I keep my eyes on people with a similar number of titles released, in a similar genre, and with a similar marketing budget, I notice that I’m doing well, and that’s my point here.

Screen Shot 2019-01-02 at 12.00.09 AM.pngThe other thing I’m happy to say is that Repressed’s ranking in it’s category,  Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Social & Family Issues > Bullying.  I don’t exactly remember how high Caught got, but Repressed was pretty great.  This title made it as high as #38 on the best-seller list and is still in the top 300.  I’m particularly happy that I stayed in the top 100 for its entire first week.

How’d I do it? Well, married life is still something I’m adjusting too. I only had time for social media efforts. I posted probably once every other day. I used hashtags to draw interest and little tag lines. I made sure the cover was everywhere too.

kaitlynFor my next title (Sojurn in Captivity is coming in April!), I expect to have my newsletter back up and running. I intend to run a FB cover reveal as well as a release party. I’ll run a few more newsletter campaigns, and we’ll see if I can’t set up a blog tour.  I’ll be interested to see how those things affect my next release, but I’m happy with what I think are great results when accounting for a minimal marketing campaign.

What I’m hoping for now is to start seeing reviews pop up. I’m honestly excited to see what readers thought of Kaitlyn’s story. If you were one of the people who picked it up, please consider a rating and review on Amazon and or Goodreads.  Even if you hated it, I truly want to know. Like with every project, I try to stretch and do something new. I hope you were as charmed as I was with Kaitlyn, but even if you weren’t the feedback will still be invaluable.

Thanks for reading,

Matt