All posts by llfranklin12

About llfranklin12

Larry L Franklin holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University. He performed in the U.S. Navy Band located in Washington, D.C. from 1967 to 1971. From 1972 to 1975, he taught music at Southern Illinois University. In 1976, he completed requirements for a certified financial planner designation and maintained a successful investment business until 2007 when he retired to devote his energies to writing. In 2003, he received an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. Franklin is the author of “Mnemosyne: A Love Affair with Memory,” published by Xlibris; “The Rita Nitz Story: A Life without Parole,” published by Southern Illinois University Press; “Cherry Blossoms & Barron Plains: A woman’s journey from mental illness to a prison cell,” published by Chipmunka Publishing Company; and “Supermax Prison: Controlling the most dangerous criminals,” published by History Publishing Company. He currently resides in southern Illinois with his wife, Paula.

When light overcame darkness: A journey from sexual abuse to a better life

A voice from your past. I’m nearing completion of my latest book, “When light overcame darkness.” I’ve been hiding in my writer’s cave for the past year searching for the perfect words to tell my story. I’ve signed a contract with E. L. Marker for the publication of my manuscript, and with the help from my editor, Jay Christopher, we’re determined to make this my best writing. The work is to be completed in November. I’m sharing a sample of what is about finished.

Prologue

This is a work of nonfiction that has taken me twenty-five years to write. To the reader, that might sound a bit far fetched. Normally, it takes me one to two years to complete a manuscript worthy of publication. But this was different. The time required to complete this manuscript was due to public doubts and my struggle with the truthfulness of memories that visited me in the middle of the night. Some memories generated depression and anxiety. The worst ones left me hugging my bathroom stool while expelling vomit throughout the night. Who would believe such a tale, and more importantly, how could I separate fact from fiction? As the author, it is not my job to convince you that I am a victim of childhood physical and sexual abuse. But I can share my journey, leaving you to draw your own conclusions.  

Because of the severity of my struggle, I went from short-term to long-term therapy with a psychologist and a host of individuals who became my support group. Together, they served as a non-judgmental team that helped me through the most challenging time of my life. My educational background initiated my investigation into the alleged perpetrators, family history, repressed memories, cognitive and emotional studies of the brain, and the combination of psychological and spiritual growth. 

Do I still have the residue carried by victims of physical and sexual abuse? Of course I do. But the occasional skirmish with depression and anxiety is now controlled by coping skills, medication, therapy, meditation, writing, and the availability of a support system.   

While the struggle was exhausting, I am thankful for who I have become. To experience the depth of feelings, whether they be happy or sad, is remarkable. And to feel love is a gift from God. I have changed names in the story for liability purposes. While every word in my story is based on what I believe to be true, I recognize the possibility of a minor discrepancy in human recall. It is my hope that fellow survivors of physical and sexual abuse will benefit from my sharing and become stronger and wiser in the process.     

CHAPTER ONE

Trauma is a vampire, but light, as any student of folklore or Freud knows, will kill it. The problem is, when the shell-shocked try to exhume their memories –to bring them into the light — the result can be a death struggle so fierce they may fear it’s them, not the suckling pain that’s about to die.

                                                                                             Katherine Russell Rich

I should have known on that sultry summer day in 1950, when my eight-year-old naked body was laid out over a bale of hay, that this was not normal. I should have known…  But when four country boys hunger for adventure or accept the latest dare, the unspeakable becomes quite normal. Being the youngest and smallest of the lot, I was the focus of their curious ways. 

Decades later, when my mind crumbled–a piece here, a piece there–I learned that survival depended on my brain’s ability to compartmentalize daily interactions whether they be good, bad, or indifferent. My mind was like a spec-house, a collection of rooms painted in a lifeless, stark-white color, and forbidden rooms with concrete walls, floors and ceilings that held secrets never meant to be revealed. That’s when I learned that the trips to the barn were far from ordinary. 

“When light overcame darkness: A journey from sexual abuse to a better life” is a work of creative nonfiction; a memoir beginning with the emergence of repressed memories that led to years of therapy where past and present behaviors were examined. It has taken me twenty-years to tell my story. To the reader, that might sound a bit far fetched. Normally, it takes me one to two years to complete a manuscript worthy of publication. But this was different. The time required to complete this manuscript was due to public doubts and my struggle with the truthfulness of memories that visited me in the middle of the night. Some memories generated depression and anxiety. The worst ones left me hugging my bathroom stool while expelling vomit throughout the night. Who would believe such a tale, and more importantly, how could I separate fact from fiction? 

It could be argued that memory is our most precious gift. Whether from God, or an evolutionary product developed through the generational pressures of natural selection, memories record our history. But they lack perfection and can become as invisible as a gnat in the forest. Perhaps it’s the temporary loss of a name, a forgotten appointment, or possibly something more serious: amnesia, Alzheimer’s, dementia, brain injuries, tumors, disease, and yes, repressed memories. Memories serve as a witness to our struggles and desires for a satisfying life. Too often, though, they record the unimaginable that can break a man’s soul.

It was 1992 and I was training to run in a half-marathon race. Having turned fifty placed me in the beginning of a new age group, providing a better chance of winning a trophy. I was part of a running group that hit the local running circuit and the annual St. Louis marathon and the half-marathon in Chicago. In addition to our daily runs, we ran 10 miles or more on Saturdays followed by our weekly trip to Mary Lou’s restaurant known for her famous biscuits and gravy. At five-feet eight-inches, weighing in at one-hundred-fifty pounds, I was built to run. The “runner’s high” and the camaraderie with my friends encouraged me to log in several miles per week. While I was an average to good runner, I pretended to be an elite runner. I was at the top of my game. 

I was a self-employed, certified financial planner in southern Illinois, held a bachelor and master’s degree in music, an MFA in creative writing from Goucher College, and had taught music at Southern Illinois University for five-years. Sandwiched in the middle was a four-year stint in the U.S. Navy Band located in Washington D.C. Although I was not rich, I was comfortable. My wife and I had two wonderful daughters who were the loves of our life, and yes, we had a dog named PJ.

My running days were preceded by racquetball, an earlier obsession of mine. I was engaged in league play, tournaments, pickup games and had recently purchased an expensive racquet, thinking that it would add a few points to my game. I was determined to be a great racquetball player. Hours focused on technique, reading books on the sport, and increasing my physical stamina were all part of my plan. I seemed to be programmed to accomplish my goals. Whether it was work related or just something I wanted to do, I attacked it with an aggression few experienced. When I was in the 4th grade, I became obsessed with playing the trumpet. But when I pressed my lips against the mouthpiece during a long practice session, a sharp tooth cut into my lips. That’s when it began to bleed. It took a few days until I could resume playing the trumpet. Upon my music teacher’s advice, I went to a dentist who filed down the sharp-edged tooth until it was smooth like a fish belly. Now I could practice without the insides of my lip looking like a chunk of ground beef. My obsessive behavior could be seen in the endless hours spent practicing my trumpet, running, racquetball, changing jobs, etc… It has never ended. 

Of course there were the funny times and painful moments like the time when I slid across the wooden racquetball floor and felt a two-inch splinter slide into my ass. It was the right cheek as I recall. After pulling my shorts down to take a look, it became obvious that I had a problem. Mike, my opponent and friend, retreated to the locker room with me to take a closer look. The location of the splinter prevented me from extracting it. I looked at Mike while the two of us began to laugh and estimate the length of the splinter. 

“I’ll remove it,” Mike said. “What are friends for?” 

After securing a pair of pliers, Mike slowly and carefully tried to remove the splinter while I grabbed hold of the locker door. Each attempt to pull the splinter caused it to become more embedded into the flesh of my ass. The choice was to take an embarrassing trip to the ER or use the pliers to remove the splinter. By now, some racquetball players joined us in the locker room. In addition to the humor, they moaned and groaned each time they watched the pliers latch onto the splinter. We paused while my breathing increased and I broke into a light sweat. 

“Okay, let’s do it. Make it quick,” I said. Finally, after one strong pull the splinter was jerked from my ass. 

I then asked Mike if he would like to finish the match. This was my chance to move into first place in league play. We stepped onto the court and began the match. I thought I could win  but questioned whether that would be disrespectful to my friend who removed the splinter from my ass. Despite my concerns about doing the right thing, I won the match. My obsession to win trumped doing the right thing. 

 It was on that Fall evening in the late 1980s when I became a legend in the racquetball community. The owner of the court took ownership of the splinter and showed it to anyone willing to hear the story about Larry Franklin, the man with a two-inch splinter in his ass.  

A few months later I began running when I wasn’t playing racquetball. But as soon as I experienced my first “runner’s high,” I decided to stop playing racquetball and spend all of my time running. Training led to longer runs, allowing me to experience more intense highs. My body was light as a feather as I floated down a country road where my feet barely touched the ground. The high was better than smoking some weed on a cloudy day. The peak of the runner’s high came while running alone on a seven-mile course with a light breeze at my back. While I was “in the moment,” there was no concern for maintaining relationships with my racquetball friends. 

Even during my four years of playing trumpet in the U.S. Navy Band in Washington, DC and five years teaching trumpet and playing in musical groups at Southern Illinois University, I was totally focused. You might say that each endeavor became an obsession. 

My mother asked me to accompany her and spend the night while recovering from cataract surgery. Her request occurred when least expected. I was about to run a half-marathon in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. She could have contacted me before scheduling the procedure. Cataract surgery was not brain surgery and could have been scheduled at a more convenient time for the two of us. But that was my mother. She did whatever she wanted and if I hesitated, she invoked the mother’s shame — “I’d be ashamed if I was you. God would want you to do the right thing.” It was near impossible to say no to her. Decades ago, when I was a young boy, my mother used to discipline me by hitting me across my face with a flyswatter. But later, when I had grown in size, I wrestled the flyswatter from her hands and shouted at her to never hit me again. While she never hit me again, she did something worse. “The mother’s shame” became a common occurrence and the fear of the Lord was  a close second. 

When my mother told me about her decision to have cataract surgery, she asked if I would transport her to and from the hospital and spend the night at her house. It was decided that I would arrive at her place around 6:00 am, have her at the hospital by 8:00 am, spend the night, and head home on the following day. 

I neglected to tell my mother that my friends and I had plans to run a half-marathon in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The challenging course was known to be one of the favorite road races in our area. It was not a race for the feeble minded, and required the runner to carefully plan their running schedule in the weeks leading to the race. The preparation was a spiritual event for me. 

I did not have any prior knowledge of her last minute decision to have the cataract surgery. While I would have appreciated being part of the decision making process, this was the way my mother operated. After all, a good son would accomadate her decisions. That’s what she believed. 

I should probably take some of the blame. After all, she was not aware that I was so involved in the running scene. That was another piece of my life that I had not shared with her.  She would have considered it a silly thing for a grown man to be doing. And there’s always the blame game where my mother has the skill-set to inflict shame. If I didn’t accomadate her request, she would have said, “Well, I’d be ashamed if I was you. It’s not what the Lord would want.” But it’s not like she was going blind and the surgery had to be on this date, or the fact that cataract surgery is not the same as a heart transplant. 

Taking her to the hospital for cataract surgery was a commitment I didn’t embrace, and I didn’t know why. For some reason, I didn’t feel the closeness that is expected between a boy and his mother. I always performed my son-like duties with a degree of detachment similar to a janitor mopping the floor at the end of a long day.   

We arrived at the hospital where I helped my mother check in. She was handed a hospital gown and told to place her clothes in the locker and wear the gown. I was asked to help my mother if needed. While I felt a bit awkward being in this situation, it quickly escalated. She removed her clothes and stood facing me while completely naked. I handed her the gown and quickly looked the other way. She acted as though she had done this many times before. Her lack of proper boundaries was troubling.  

Decisions were like a book of unrelated essays where each story stood on it’s own. The need to accomplish one goal after another was intense and without consideration for my family and friends. I was president of my high school class and popular among my friends. But as soon as I graduated and went to college, previous relationships ended. Upon my discharge from the US Navy Band, my military friends were ignored. After five-years of teaching music at Southern Illinois University, I decided to leave music and become a certified financial planner. My career changes required a new location and the ending of my current friendships. Each action became another obsession intended to better my life. Ask me if my obsessive decisions made me happy and I would have said yes. But in reality, I didn’t have a clue. A logical person might have said, “there’s a Problem in River City.” 

I had convinced my wife that each obsession was an opportunity to improve both our quality of life and to increase our income. Naturally, she supported my decisions. She had my back, some might say. Some decisions required relocating to another community while ignoring our life-long friendships. Obviously, some changes were mistakes and very self-centered on my part. While life seemed good, it was an illusion. 

An unexpected trauma chiseled an opening into a horde of traumatic memories previously untapped. The memories, a psychologist would later say, were stored in my amygdala located in the temporal lobe. After processing, the memories moved into the hypothalamus where they resided untouched by any outside source. It was there where they could propagate unsettled emotions, create a trauma-induced disorder or steer me into the decisive escape — suicide. 

A boy with a bent neck and a dog whose tail wouldn’t wag.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“Any fool can be happy.
It takes a man with real
heart to make beauty
out of the stuff that
makes us weep.
Clive Barker
***
“Larry, you have so many wonderful qualities,” Olivia said. “You are a very honest and compassionate man. Tell me what you were like while growing up on the farm. Tell me about that little boy, your inner child.”

     I reacted quickly. “I was disgusting, dirty, old ragged clothes. A weakling. I should have stopped Ben.”

     I was speechless. Olivia leaned back in her chair and watched in silence. Several seconds passed as I felt ashamed. “I can’t believe I just said those things about myself.”

     “Maybe you hold your inner child responsible for the abuse. That is a common reaction among abuse victims. But you were too small to stop your brother, who was six years older and much larger than you. There was nothing you could have done to stop him. Reach out and hold the hand of your inner child. Let him feel your love.” Olivia reached over and held my hand.

     That exchange between Olivia and myself, which will be etched in my mind forever, occurred well into therapy. It was my first exposure to the idea of our inner child, an image I recognized but didn’t fully appreciate. There’s a belief held in the mental health community that each of us carries a child that resides deep within our bodies. The child, who represents our childhood, is as we were many years ago. If our child was the beneficiary of a wholesome childhood, then the positive influence will be experienced in our adult life. If, on the other hand, the child was abused, then the adult will take on the symptoms of an abused child: lack of trust, inability to experience intimacy, low self-esteem. Only when we heal the inner child can we expect the adult to be free of our traumatic past.

     Olivia suggested that I write a letter to my inner child. After a few attempts I told her that I couldn’t come up with anything, and the subject was dropped. Months later, Olivia renewed her request and once again, I was faced with the uncomfortable task of communicating with my inner child. After much thought, I came to the conclusion that if I wrote in the third person, I would put some distance between myself and my inner child, making the effort manageable. What evolved was a story loaded with truth but camouflaged in the form of a fairy tale.  

***

The boy with the bent neck and a dog whose tail wouldn’t wag.

     It’s the story that’s best told around the campfire under stars and a full moon, and the distant sound of whip-poor-wills. The story originated, or so I’m told, when man first experienced the emotional pain of life and began the struggle to liberate himself from the misery of unhappiness. Some of the details may have changed over time but the meaning of the story remains the same.

     There was a middle-aged man who, when viewed according to modern standards, lived a successful life, enjoying the material things needed to be happy. Still, relentless pain dwelled below the layer of his skin and bones. This pain was so great that he searched the countryside looking for the secret to happiness. He came upon a woman who he found unfamiliar but alluring. There was a quiet peace about her. Upon questioning, she told him that true happiness could be found at a Buddhist monastery located in a remote part of Colorado. The monastery was occupied by a group of monks led by Father Ramero, a man wise beyond his years. As an initial test of resolve, anyone seeking Father Ramero’s help had to make the twenty-five mile trip on foot over rugged terrain leading to the monastery on the mountaintop.

     Without hesitation, the man who we will call Larry, took the woman’s advice. Two days and two nights into Larry’s journey, he reached a small monastery with walls of reddish sandstone that blended into the mountainside. Surrounding the buildings were gardens filled with lush vegetation, donkeys, rabbits, dogs, cows, and several men dressed in brown robes with sandals strapped to their feet.

     Under a large tree sat Father Ramero, a lean man built like a long-distance runner with a freshly shaved head, who seemed to be in deep thought as his mind visited another time and place.

     As Larry moved forward, Father Ramero opened his eyes and a slight smile quickly grew on his face. “Welcome, Larry. I’ve been expecting you. Come, sit, and tell me of your pain.”

     Larry told Father Ramero about the sadness of his life and about a childhood squandered away by physical and sexual abuse. “Let us sit together and find the source of your pain,” Father Ramero said. “Meditate and let the secrets of your life come forward.” They sat for two-hours without speaking. Larry opened his eyes. He felt sadness but didn’t know why. He looked at Father Ramero and was shocked to see teardrops running down his face. The front of his robe was wet. Clearly upset by his experience, Father Ramero spoke, “I saw the boy with the bent neck and a dog whose tail wouldn’t wag. Larry, your child is in a great deal of pain. You have neglected his needs, and only when you learn to love him will you have true happiness. Sit with your child, learn to know him, learn to love him. You’re welcome to stay with us while you begin your journey.”

     Except for the brief moments needed to eat bread and fruit, and drink some water, Larry spent all his waking time sitting or walking in meditation while his energy was focused on the child within. Silence was only interrupted by the occasional words of encouragement from Father Ramero.

     It soon became obvious why Father Ramero had been so upset when they first sat together. Larry discovered his child, a little boy some seven years of age, dressed in scuffed shoes, a faded flannel shirt that hung lower on the left side because the buttons and holes were unmatched, and a cap made of brown vinyl, cracked and peeled from the summer sun. The boy’s necked pointed downward at a forty-five-degree angle. The boy had no reason to lift his head. In time, atrophy froze the muscles of his neck. No matter how hard he tried, the child could not move his neck. Leaning against the child’s leg was a grief-struck dog that continually looked up at the boy’s face. Like the boy’s neck, the dog’s tail could not move. This was a dog whose tail wouldn’t wag.

     During meditation, Larry envisioned getting on the floor, looking up at the boy, and trying to make eye contact. Only after hours of struggle did they look at each other, but only as strangers. Larry went to Father Ramero and shared his disappointment and concern about the lack of any noticeable progress.

     Father Ramero looked deeply into Larry’s soul. “Larry, do you love your little boy?” Silence followed.

     “I’m not sure. I know that I should. But I never thought about him before. I tried to forget him. He represented everything sad and evil about my childhood. If I get too close to him, will I feel his pain? I don’t know if I could handle it.”

     Father Ramero put his arms around Larry. With some hesitation, Larry put his arms around the Father. “Larry, let’s hold on to each other for a while. I want you to feel the love I have for you. There’s nothing dangerous or abusive about my feelings of love for you. I expect nothing in return. It’s my hope and expectation that you will view my feelings of love as the presence of God. Nothing else could be so wonderful.”

     They embraced for a very long time. Finally, the Father asked Larry if he trusted him, and Larry responded by saying yes. “I love you.”

     “And I love you,” Father Ramero answered. “Your child cannot heal without your love. Yes, you will feel his pain, but nothing of value ever comes easily. Go and be with your child.”

     Larry, focused and committed, would face the demons that ruled his boy, the boy with the bent neck and a dog whose tail wouldn’t wag. The two of them, Larry and his boy, began by holding hands and becoming familiar with the touch of their skin. The similarity in appearance was unfamiliar; Larry was looking at himself, a young boy living in the past, while the boy was looking at Larry, the older man living in the present day.

     For the longest time, Larry apologized to the boy for his neglectful ways. He wanted to make things right. But not until Larry asked the boy to tell him about his past, about the abuse he endured, did the boy begin to speak. The boy told of a life with an older brother who beat him, raped him, and when finished, walked away with evil in his eyes. He told of being held by his ankles, dangled out the window of the hayloft, and warned that he would be dropped if he revealed such horrors. He told of a life with a father who, because of his own misery, chose to neglect him, but did give him one week of love in the summer of 1949. He told of a father who, when he divorced his wife, kept his older son and sent Larry to live with his mother. There was a car wreck in which the hood decapitated his father and crushed the head of his brother. There was a mother who denied him of a childhood and expected him to take care of her needs, those of a divorced young woman who craved the physical love of a man. The boy’s emotional pain felt like raw flesh burning in the summer sun. That’s what his inner child said.   

     As the boy told his story, the tear lines running from the dog’s eyes to his nose became wet from a steady flow of tears. Moved by the story, Larry picked up the little boy and his dog, placed both on his lap and held them for hours. Tears that began flowing down Larry’s face dropped onto the little boy and his dog. Something magical happened. The boy’s neck began to move. The boy looked up at Larry and said, “I love you.”

     “And I love you,” Larry said. As their faces took on a smile, the dog’s tail began to wag. Gone was the boy with the bent neck and a dog whose tail wouldn’t wag.

***

9-18-2020 Information on The Black River

Wanted to bring everyone up-to-date on the progress of Jovon Scott’s latest book, “The Black River,” and how we’re developing an audience for his writing. As you might know, the publishing business is difficult and getting potential readers to open your book takes some effort. It’s not always the best books that are read, it’s the one that grabs the reader’s attention. Marketing is needed to sell any book — the great ones and the not so great. The fact that the author, Jovon Scott, is incarcerated increases the difficulty of selling his book.

So, what are we doing and how can you help if you choose to do so. For the past two weeks I have been marketing on facebook and have reached 40,000 people with 1,000 people deciding to read the ad. So far we have received 12 book reviews on amazon with 11 receiving 5 stars and 1 receiving 3 stars. It would be helpful if you could post a favorable review on amazon. In order to do so, you need to have an amazon account. In a week or two we will be running some advertisements through the publisher who will focus on different types of social media.

So, how can the average person help without spending their own money. Every time you see a posting on social media, like it and share it. If everyone does this, the postings grow quickly. Telling your friends about the book and fellow-members of clubs that you belong to. If you have a copy of the book, tell your friends about it, but “don’t” loan your book to them. Each person needs to buy their own.

More Reviews for “The Black River”

Scott creates a fantasy world of privilege, beautiful women, sex and drugs that calls the reader in for a wild ride. In a trauma-based story with sensual twists and turns, he writes intensely and beautifully from the mind of a gorgeously damaged female. Hard to put down and keeps you guessing until the end. Good read.
Amy Somers, LPCC, MFA

Jovon Scott does a remarkable job writing a story bursting with clues that hook the reader from the beginning to the end. “The Black River” is loaded with suspense and excitement, allowing the reader to wonder what comes next. But once the reader begins the story, there is no turning back. A real page burner.
Kelvin Taylor, Producer/Director

Eerie and Compelling:
Victoria, a suddenly orphaned rich girl; Chanel, a wild woman who can’t escape her past; Jasmine, a young woman living in the shadow of her best friend while trying to make a life for herself; and Tianna Smith, the psychologist trying to help a troubled young woman face her demons. This book was very well-written and surprisingly compelling. Being from Chicago myself, I was intrigued, and it drew me in immediately. This is a story told through the eyes of each of these four women who feel like real people. The poetry shown throughout highlights the struggles each of them face, on their own and together. There were many twists and turns, and at times it can be confusing. This is a book you need to read, not skim through. The ending was a surprise, too. The author lets the characters tell their own story. The steamy scenes were good too.
Julie Martin

Highly imaginative and Dark:
Excellent book. As readers we are taking into fantasy world of privilege, sex and drugs Hard to put down and keeps you guessing until the end.
San M S

A mature book for a mature audience and with a complicated start that will leave you confused and intrigued. I feel like this book needs a little more editing, a cut in some dialogue, perhaps a check on some repeated words and often used descriptors. However, and let me be clear, this is exactly what it tells you it is, a great mystery, not just its storyline and character arcs, but in the way the story is told. This one is best left undescribed since from the beginning the great gist of it lies in the complex narration and the use of alternating time and space. One thing I will say is, it is broken into various perspectives and various female characters, so you get more than one personality leading the charge towards the twist at the end.
Daniel Cuervonegro

A very unexpected twist to a very unexpected story.
Right out of the gate the story catches your attention. Very bold characters. Very bold character arcs. The surprise at the end was very good. Some VERY steamy action. Not for the faint of heart. That’s for sure.
Zombie Tex

Complex and Great:
A very compelling narrative. I was a bit lost at first by the complexity of the narrative but overall the solid writing carried me through, and I enjoyed the read!
Larry Rosen

Great Story
A great story lwith a great twist. This will captivate the reader from start to finish.
Alexa Sommers

Dark twisted thriller
This story will pull you in and keep you turning the page to see what happens. Mature content for a mature reader. Bold content, bolds characters, and steamyy scenes will keep you guessing until the very last page.
Crystal Vranich

Great Story
This is a great story, but trhe writer’s needs development.
Rob Shulman

Draws you in and hooks you.
A great novel that is definitely not for the faint of heart. The opening read can be confusing (I had to read the first couple of chapters twice to make sure I understood what was going on) but once you get into this book it won’t let you go. The characters, plot twists and scenes are very well done. Give it a try and you’ll be rewarded with a great read.
Avid Reader

Well written and Intriguing
At first I opened the book just to browse. But I got pulled in by the story, the characters and the writing style and found it hard to put down. Some books are memorable. This is one of them.
A. Beck

Beautifully Dark
A sensual story, powerful enough to pull you in and grab when you almost can’t turn the page. It’s n;ot a light read, but it compels you to keep reading. It touches on what people carry with them through life that we may never see — that they may not even see for themselves. There is some wit that cuts the intensity at times and twists that you won’t see coming.

Really interesting and thought provoking read.
What an interesting book! Lots of challenging themes written in a very interesting way.
dustyCar

Interesting Point of View
I wasn’t sure if I would like this but gave it a try. It’s an interesting perspective to which I’ve never viewed the world this way before. Well-shaped characters, love them or hate them but the world really has people in such unfortunate circumstances.
R.A.

An Interesting read
A story of many lives, each character I felt was well developed and interesting. Overall well-written and enjoyable, however the pacing was awkward in some parts. Worth a read.
PEC

Interesting
I found this story to be very entertaining.
Maxie Nyanes



The Black River

“The Black River” is a manuscript written by Jovon Scott and edited by Larry L. Franklin. “The Black River” is near completion. Hope you like it.

Larry L. Franklin

“THE BLACK RIVER”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR

            This is a work of fiction, a psychological thriller to be exact. The fact that it could have happened is not that farfetched. Any time we delve into the mysteries of the human mind, we marvel at our saneness. After all, the human brain has over 100 billion nerve cells called neurons that communicate with other neurons through a substance called neuro-transmitters. This enables us to do all of the things that we consider humanly possible — drink a cup of coffee, climb a mountain, or if we’re one of the lucky ones, calculate the size of the universe. It is here where sanity and insanity are controlled by DNA, life experiences, medication, street drugs, sex, and fate.

            The human brain serves as a hotbed for the characters — some real and some not. The main character is Dr. Tianna Smith, a psychologist who suffers from a serious mental illness and creates imaginary people. Each character, whether real or not, is pictured as a sane individual with the typical social interactions humans face. As the story develops, the secrets will gradually unfold, providing the reader with a clear understanding of where we are headed.

PROLOGUE

            Victoria watched the rough-water hug the riverbank. The sun retired for the day and the river gave birth to short bursts of waves that threatened the shore. Mother Nature’s elements of tranquility and destruction were on full display. Victoria’s eyes pierced the water’s surface as she studied the river snaking through pastures and open plains. Barricades dared not to confine its flow. 

            When Victoria was young, large bodies of water threatened her well-being. So much so that she barred herself from diving into the mysteries that lie below the river’s surface. Time revealed the reason for her fears. Someone or something lived in the darkened waters that threatened her safety. But don’t blame Victoria for having a dysfunctional childhood and an overly creative mind. Her brain was hardwired to think irrationally.

            Something was off that day; a gut-wrenching and unnerving kind of off. Victoria blamed herself for what happened when she met Chanel at the river. While all of the signs were there, it was a time of confusion when 2 equals 1.

            “Are you scared?” Chanel asked.  “You’re shaking.”

            Victoria knew that she was afraid. As the two of them stood on the water’s edge watching the currents race by, there was an eerie silence. Victoria didn’t know why, but she had told Chanel that she wasn’t afraid.

            Chanel had an energy that was quite alluring; an adrenaline junkie who danced along the edges of danger. Each adventure was accompanied by a spiritual energy as if she was suddenly reborn. Her breathing became more labored and her heart was on fire. Victoria grabbed Chanel’s hands that were cold and unwelcoming as if she had touched a stranger. They faced each other; so close that their heartbeats were in unison. As their lips touched, Victoria remembered the passion that burned deep into her soul; spellbound and persuaded by the words that Chanel never spoke; eyes that shared a telling tale; and private things that remained hidden from the world.

            Chanel’s demeanor morphed into an emptiness disconnected from reality. Is this the person who Victoria had known to be Chanel, or was she an illusion?

            “Do you love me?” Chanel questioned. She gripped Victoria’s hand tighter as if she dared her to tell a lie.

            “Of course, I love you,” Victoria answered. But the grip of Chanel’s hand was different, causing Victoria to wonder if Chanel had become a complete stranger. At the moment, Victoria did not fear the river. She was more afraid of the entity she perceived to be Chanel.

            “Why would you ask if I loved you?” Victoria asked.

            “Because I need to know.”

            “Yes, I love you. But you know that already. You’re acting strange and freaking me out,” Victoria admitted.

            Chanel’s laugh was accompanied by a sinister smile. “If you love me, jump, jump into the river,” Chanel commanded. “Love is all about trust, right?”

            “I will drown,” Victoria replied. “I can’t swim, you know that.”

            “Trust me,” Chanel explained.”  I would never allow anything bad to happen to you.”

            Victoria felt overcome by emotions knowing that she needed to escape before it was too late. While she remembered fragments of what happened that day, she preferred to believe that Chanel pushed her into the river. Given Victoria’s fear of the river, that made more sense. But reality told a different story. Victoria jumped into the river.

            Stupidity is oftentimes driven by ignorance, a compelling force that causes us to defy logic. Perhaps a need to display her courage was why Victoria jumped into the river, or was it love interlinked with confusion?

            A blind fondness accompanied by faith creates the foundation for love. But reckless love ignores your core, leaving you to think only of the image you desire; the one that caused Victoria to jump into the river.

            Chanel stood on the shore watching Victoria struggle to evade the adversity she had feared since her childhood — drowning in the river. Her attempts to scream were muffled by the sheer volume of water. Most people who fear the possibility of death by drowning, stay away from large bodies of water. But not Victoria, she jumped into the river.

            Victoria’s mind held no clarity or reasoning for what was happening to her. She felt the burning sensation a body experiences when your lungs take on water. The image of the river changed as she began to accept her fate. The deeper parts of the river were calm and without motion, unlike the chaotic movements of the river’s surface. The struggle to survive diminished as her body sank towards the river’s floor.

            Victoria remembered seeing Chanel through the water’s surface; lips parted with a smile on her face. At that moment Victoria’s heart no longer beat; not from drowning but from a broken heart. Chanel killed Victoria before the water filled her lungs and severed her oxygen supply.

            She then experienced a more peaceful world as her body embraced the river’s floor. She looked up through the surface and saw Chanel standing at the water’s edge. No longer angered. Victoria was at peace. Now as Victoria accepted her fate, she saw the two of them standing side by side; both one in the same, when 2 equals 1.

CHAPTER ONE

CHANEL

ONE YEAR EARLIER:

            It was in the early hours of the morning when the city was stirring with party-goers, drug addicts, and the homeless who were looking for a place to sleep. Except for a few travelers on their way home, the streets were filled with police cars and ambulances looking to salvage another night in the city.

            An ambulance raced down the streets with lights flashing and sirens blasting, hoping to make it to the Mount Rush Hospital in time. The paramedic in the back of the ambulance told the driver to go faster; the woman might not survive. 

            “We have a female patient suffering from a drug related overdose, believed to be heroin,” the paramedic said as the patient was being moved from the ambulance to the emergency room.  A doctor entered the room and flashed a light into the woman’s eyes to determine if they were dilated; a common clue for a drug overdose.

            “Get an I.V. going. I need her vitals asap. Start the reversal drug immediately,” the doctor ordered as the medical staff went to work, knowing that there was a small window to save her. While the woman’s pulse was faint, she was still alive. Her name was Chanel Rosenthal.

            “Chanel, how much did you take?” the doctor asked. “I need to know.” As the nurse added the solution to her I.V., Chanel responded in gibberish. She then leaned over the bed and vomited onto the floor. This was a typical day for Chanel. She frequently found herself in the Mount Rush Emergency Room where the doctors and nurses knew her well.

            Chanel found these roller coaster rides to be exhilarating.She cherished the altered state of mind, shifting from one reality to another. For her, the drug overdose was mind blowing; releasing the beatitudes that opened the path to a spiritual awakening; and being on the edge, the place that society deemed to be life threatening. Chanel asked only for the freedom to be herself.

            Hours passed before Chanel opened her eyes. She scanned the room as memories of her night flashed through her mind. While only fragments, they began to tell a story: Chanel had gone to one of her favorite clubs, listened to music, had drinks topped off with coke, followed by a heavy dose of heroin. She was no stranger to blackouts or being strapped to hospital beds after drug overdoses. Although she had teased death on multiple occasions, killing herself was not a conscious choice. She just loved being high, drunk, and the short bursts of ecstasy driven by emotional orgasms.

            The thought of death had never discouraged Chanel from her chosen lifestyle. While she barely survived many life-threatening experiences, there were no regrets. Circumstances had always returned her to the living. Her mind had been plagued with so much trauma and torment that an adjustment of her brain’s wiring was an escape.

            Except for the fact that they had been killed, Chanel knew nothing about her parents. The man who raised her was a father figure, providing her with a different perspective on fatherhood. When he died, Chanel was placed into foster care, another life experience gone amiss. This was where Chanel’s young mind was introduced to the ugly side of life.

            The poverty-stricken slums of Chicago catered to degenerates and the altered minds of most adolescences. The child-care system was the equivalent to a prison for children. Chanel embraced her rebellious ways and became the epitome of a destructive, unpredictable teenage menace; possibly the worst case in the group home. When Chanel turned 18, psychologists and psychiatrists considered her to be socially disconnected from reality.

            As time passed, Chanel became engrossed in drugs and sex while chasing that first high; a high that she could never match no matter how hard she tried. Despite the drug abuse, Chanel was a beautiful woman. Her appearance was the ultimate bait in reeling in men to play out her lifestyle. While it was a reflection of her behavior, she never thought of it as being repugnant. Sex was only a deflection allowing her to dissociate from her conscious thoughts.

            Chanel’s five-foot five-inch frame, shoulder-length hair, and thick lips added to her sex appeal. Perhaps her dark-colored eyes accompanied by an alluring gaze were the ultimate mystery that grabbed your attention.

            “Chanel Rosenthal, I guess you must like us here at the Mount Rush Hospital?” Nurse Jamie asked as she and the doctor walked into the room.

            “I’m thinking that you have a thing for me, Doc. We can’t keep meeting like this,” Chanel joked with a half-hearted smile.

            “Are you trying to kill yourself or are you just in dire need of some attention?” the Doctor asked.

            “Now you sound like Doctor Phil. Dying isn’t easy for me. I’ve tried more times than you can imagine,” Chanel replied.

            The Doctor proceeded to make his case for survival. “Maybe self-sabotaging isn’t for you. I can tell you next time you try to kill yourself, you may succeed. Here’s something you need to do for yourself, stop using. Look at this x-ray.”

            The Doctor held the film up to the light. “If you look near the heart, you’ll notice a dark area the size of a golf ball. That’s called an aneurysm which is a blood-filled bulge in  your blood vessel. If this were to erupt, you’d die from eternal bleeding. It’s a miracle that it hasn’t already killed you. You don’t need surgery. It’ll go away on its own if your heart isn’t forced to do unnecessary work. When you shoot drugs, it forces your body to regulate the body temperature, heart rate and other things. So, if you want to live, no more drugs. I can give you information on where to find help, but you already know these things.”

            “I didn’t know it was that bad,” Chanel answered with a measure of concern.

            “Yeah, it’s very bad,” the Doctor replied. “You’re young and beautiful with your entire life ahead of you. Make something of it and do yourself a favor, stay alive.” With that said  the doctor left Chanel to think about her mortality. She closed her eyes and explored her thoughts. She didn’t want to die. While she didn’t have a lot to live for, maybe one day that would change. She at least owed herself that. She’d never attempted to quit, but the stories she heard from recovering addicts was something she wasn’t ready to experience. It’s a shame how people don’t get the chance to choose who brings them into this world. Her mother was dead, and her father was a piece of dysfunctional shit. When Chanel felt a tear fall from her eye, it became real. Only Chanel could save herself.

***

1968/2020 in America

It was fifty-two years ago in 1968; one year into my four-year commitment to the U.S. Navy Band in Washington, D.C. A beautiful Spring morning soon morphed into a sky filled with swells of black smoke. My wife, four-month old daughter, and I occupied a two-bedroom apartment in Oxon Hill, MD, just inside the District of Columbia. My job was playing taps for Viet Nam soldiers killed in action, White House arrivals, patriotic gatherings, and touring the United States two months of each year. While the spirit of America was beaten-down, it was not dead, yet.

            April 4, 1968 is etched into my mind as the time when I believed that America was broken. It was the day that Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot dead. Being that I considered King to be an  American hero, I was saddened by his loss. His passing was met with the grief and anger from a sizable portion of our population. But for many of us, fear was added to the equation.

            My wife and I stepped onto the balcony of our two-bedroom apartment and viewed the landscape, questioning whether the violence, looting, and burning of buildings would reach our apartment some four blocks away. I was totally confused. I was not a racist; open to other points of views; had black friends; and considered Martin Luther King, Jr. to be an American hero. But for the moment, my survival instincts took over. For the first time in my life, the safety of my family was my main concern.

            I called one of my fellow musicians with the band who lived in a safer location and told him of my concerns. He immediately invited us to stay at his house for the night. By now, daylight gave way to the darkened night, leaving me to wonder how I would get my family to the car and travel to my friend’s house. The sky was leaking smoke and it was time for our escape. I had a .22 caliber pistol that might fire and might not. I decided to carry our daughter and my pistol while my wife carried the suitcase. If confronted, could I really shoot someone, especially people who I considered to be my friends. If challenged, I could show the gun, possibly shoot in the air, and yes, for my family, I might have to kill. How could I make eye contact with my black friends again? Thoughts raced through my mind while I struggled to make sense of my dilemma .

            We made it to my friend’s house, and I didn’t fire my gun. The next day my friend and I traveled with the band to a concert in Philadelphia to perform at a Navy function. While traveling through the District of Columbia young people threw empty bottles against the windows of our bus. No one spoke while we traveled through the city and onto Philadelphia. While my family was safe at my friend’s house, the civic uprising continued from April 4th through the 8th. In Washington, 13 people were dead and 1098 injured at an estimated cost of 27 million dollars. The emotional cost was unknown.

            While the hot summer of 1968 experienced temperatures well into the upper 90s, a brief monsoon unloaded over the District; not a good time to live in a tent. A community of 3,000 black people set up tents near the national mall just south of the reflection pool, and close to the Lincoln Memorial. They were determined to make a statement about poverty among the black population. While their attention was to stay a week, it grew into a 6 week occupation, May 15th to June 24th. The movement was called the Poor People’s Campaign, sometimes referred to as the Encampment Resurrection City. On Thursday evenings we played concerts entertaining tourist and residents of Resurrection City.

            On June 6, 1968 Robert Kennedy, Jr. was assassinated in California. His body was transported by rail from California to Washington, D.C. I remember our bus ride from the Navy Yard to Union Station. Not a word was spoken. We stepped from our bus and played two hymns while Kennedy’s body was carried to a long, black hearse. As the hearse disappeared into the night, we packed up our instruments and climbed onto the bus headed back to the Navy Yard. Not a word was spoken.

            The summer of 1968 has been reignited in a once dormant place in my brain. The emotions bubble over as my wife and I digest the television coverage of riots, killings, and lost lives happening before our eyes; wondering why the injustices of our society continue; why we have to be reminded that black lives matter; and why we watched a video of George Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis who was killed before our eyes. May wife and I turned to look at each other. Not a word was spoken.

One Man-Four Barn Shallows

  

ONE MAN AND FOUR BARN SWALLOWS:

An ongoing battle between myself and four Barn Swallows, referred to as Bird One, Bird Two, Bird Three, and Bird Four, is commonly considered a legend, a mere folklore that began 5 years ago. Historians asked that the events be documented in order to call the tale for what it really is — a true story.

            This war began several years ago near a small village called Makanda. While some view this as a battle between good and evil, the truth says otherwise; a war built on love and respect and fueled by the need for survival. I protected my property while Birds One through Four fought for a location to populate their family.

            Every soldier realizes the importance of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent. Only then is victory possible. I researched my opponent, looking for ways to win the war. While a worthy foe, the size of a Barn Swallow is somewhere between a small and medium size bird; some twenty grams — the weight of 8 pennies — and can fit in a man’s hand. A wingspan of 12.6 to 13.6 inches allows the bird to fly in a zigzag manner at an approximate speed of 11 meters per second and a wing beat rate of 7 to 9 times per second. They fly close to the ground or water surface allowing them to eat some 60 insects per hour while in flight. The Barn Swallow is a beauty in flight with its blue back, wings, and tail; a cinnamon-colored forehead; and an orangey underbelly. It is a rainbow in motion as it speeds 10 to 20 feet above your head, and sometimes much closer.

            While researching Barn Swallows One through Four, I fell in love with my opponent. The mere beauty and aggressive nature of the warrior is amazing. So, why would I feel  determined to keep the birds off my property? It’s the nest, the messy combination of mud, grass, and feathers form an open-cup shape. Give it 20 hours to set and I have a concrete-like structure stuck to the inside of the porch. Gallons of soapy water cannot remove the nest without leaving a stain on the wall; a stain requiring two or more coats of paint.

THE BATTLE:

             I was inspecting the property and more importantly the front porch. This was the time of year, and the spot where they launched their annual attack.

            OMG! A long row of mud was stuck to the top of the wall. The key, as I discovered during an earlier time, was to counter-attack immediately. DON’T WAIT UNTILL IT DRIES. I connected the water hose, turned on the hose to its most powerful flow, and headed to the battle-site. Fortunately, the mud hadn’t dried, and the removal was easy. But knowing Barn Shallows One through Four, I knew they would be back. So, the plan was to have the water hose ready and check on the porch every 30 minutes. With four birds, a nest can be rebuilt lickety-split. If I stayed with this plan for a few days, Barn Shallows One through Four would likely give up and look for another structure to build their nest. After all, the baby birds will need a home. That was the plan.

            Sometimes I retreated inside my home and looked out the window. Other times, when my testosterone was in a state of rage, I stood at the steps of the porch and spayed a steady stream of water at the birds and yelled profanities. Their response was to reach their maximum speed and dive-bomb me at a distance of 2 feet before I launched a counterattack causing Barn Swallows One through Four to pull back. The give and take between the soldiers were similar to ballerinas jumping and spinning on a New York City stage. Poetry in motion, that’s what it was.

            While the counterattacks continued, my grass had grown to the point where I needed to start up my riding lawn mower.  What was about to happen was predictable. It happened many times before. While I mowed, Barn Swallows One through Four dive-bombed me over and over and over.  I yelled and screamed and eventually began singing in an operatic style with a loud voice.

            In a previous year, I had purchased a large plastic owl designed to scare Barn Shallows One through Four. Nice thought, but it didn’t work. As soon as the birds figured out that the owl was plastic, they flew over and to their target. So, I thought of another idea — take a 6 foot ladder and place the owl on top leaving little space for Barn Shallows One through Four to fly. While it’s too early to declare Mission Accomplished, 2 days have passed without another attack. It’s likely that Barn Shallows One through Four found another target, possibly my neighbor. And that’s okay since my neighbor said that Barn Swallows One through Four were smarter than me.

Sometimes words are not enough.

I’m not sharing this for a pat on my back or some positive recognition. It’s always been my hidden dream to make a positive contribution while I’m still living. Perhaps it’s part of the aging process that we all want to be remembered in a positive way before we move to the next level, where ever that might be.

This letter that I received today reinforces the idea that we can all make a difference. Be kind to someone with an open hand and share the best of yourself. That’s all it takes. The reward is unimaginable.

***

I’ve learned to live in my head, a place to be free. But that was not always the case. Imagine that you met a person in your life who will forever change the way you view strangers. I met such a man. He knew nothing about me, at least nothing positive nor good. He only knew that I was incarcerated for gun violence. This man taught me things a father should teach his son. Being that I came from the slums of Chicago and had been hardwired to be destructive, I grew up less fortunate than most. Where I came from did not offer hope or a different path from the one that guided me to prison. But I’ve always been creative with a vivid imagination.

I was isolated from society while being confined in a cage and forgotten. But I met a stranger who believed in me and grounded me when my life was falling apart. The culture of the streets isn’t built to elevate your potential or drive you towards success. It taught me not to trust strangers and be relentless in terms of rage.

This man wasn’t like the men that I grew up with. His skin is a different color and he doesn’t speak the same urban language that I do. But he believed in me and never gave up. And for a kid from the streets of urban Chicago, that’s the difference between life and death. This man is my role model, father figure, noble, and someone who pushes me to be great. He is my second chance. His legacy will forever be embedded into the fabric of my future. He is also the man who advocated on my behalf, and invested in me without complaint. This man is my friend, Larry L. Franklin.

Thanks to everone who has purchased a copy of “Blood of my Shadow” and who continue to sped the word. If you’re trying to contact me, you can write to me at:

Jovon Scott #M09478
P.O. Box 1700
Galesburg, Il 61402

THE BLACK RIVER

I’m sharing the beginning of a manuscript, “The Black River” written by Jovon Scott and edited by Larry L. Franklin. Jovon is an inmate in an Illinois prison who has his first published book, “Blood of my Shadow.” I continue to enjoy working with Jovon and consider him to be an up-and-coming author. Hope you enjoy the writing.

PROLOGUE

            Victoria watched the rough-water hug the riverbank. The sun retired for the day and the river gave birth to short bursts of waves that threatened the shore. Mother Nature’s elements of tranquility and destruction were on full display. Victoria’s eyes pierced the water’s surface as she studied the river that snaked through pastures and open plains. Barricades dared not to confine its flow.  

            When Victoria was young, large bodies of water threatened her well-being. So much so that she barred herself from diving into the mysteries that lie below the river’s surface. Time revealed the reason for her fears. Someone or something lived in the darkened waters that threatened her safety. But don’t blame Victoria for having a dysfunctional childhood and an overly creative mind. Her brain was hardwired to think irrationally. 

            Something was off that day; a gut-wrenching and unnerving kind of off. Victoria blamed herself for what happened when she met Chanel at the river. While all of the signs were there, it was a time of confusion when 2 equals 1. 

            “Are you scared?” Chanel asked.  “You’re shaking.”

            Victoria knew that she was afraid. As the two of them stood on the water’s edge watching the currents race by, there was an eerie silence. Victoria didn’t know why, but she had told Chanel that she wasn’t afraid. 

            Chanel had an energy about her that was quite alluring; an adrenaline junkie who danced along the edges of danger. Each adventure was accompanied by a spiritual energy as if she was suddenly reborn. 

            Although Victoria didn’t know what was about to happen, her breathing became more labored and her heart was on fire. She grabbed Chanel’s hands that were cold and unwelcoming as if she had touched a stranger. They faced each other; so close that their heartbeats were in unison. As their lips touched, Victoria was reminded of the passion that burned deep into the soul; spellbound and persuaded by the words that Chanel never spoke; eyes that shared a telling tale; and private things that were hidden from the world. 

            Chanel’s demeanor morphed into an emptiness disconnected from reality. Is this the person who Victoria had known to be Chanel, or was she an illusion? 

            “Do you love me?’ Chanel questioned. She gripped Victoria’s hand tighter as if she dared her to tell a lie.

            “Of course, I love you,” Victoria answered. But the grip of Chanel’s hand was different, causing Victoria to wonder if Chanel had become a complete stranger. At the moment, Victoria did not fear the river. She was more afraid of the entity she perceived to be Chanel.

            “Why would you ask if I loved you?” Victoria asked.

            “Because I need to know,” Chanel answered.

            “Yes, I love you. But you know that already. You’re acting strange and freaking me out,” Victoria admitted. 

            Chanel’s laugh was accompanied by a sinister smile. “If you love me, jump, jump into the river,” Chanel commanded. “Love is all about trust, right?” 

            “I will drown,” Victoria replied. “I can’t swim, you know that.” 

            “Trust me,” Chanel explained.”  I would never allow anything bad to happen to you.”

            Victoria felt overcome by emotions knowing that she needed to escape before it was too late. While she remembered fragments of what happened that day, she preferred to believe that Chanel pushed her into the river. Given Victoria’s fear of the river, that made more sense. But reality told a different story. Victoria jumped into the river. 

            Stupidity is oftentimes driven by ignorance, a compelling force that causes us to defy logic. Perhaps a need to display her courage was why Victoria jumped into the river; perhaps it was love interlinked with confusion. 

            A blind fondness accompanied by faith creates the foundation for love. But reckless love ignores your core, leaving you to think only of the image you desire; the one that caused Victoria to jump into the river. 

            Chanel stood on the shore watching Victoria struggle to evade the adversity she had feared since her childhood — drowning in the river. Her attempts to scream were muffled by the sheer volume of water. Most people who fear the possibility of death by drowning, stay away from large bodies of water. But not Victoria, she jumped into the river. 

            Victoria’s mind held no clarity or reasoning for what was happening to her. She felt the burning sensation a body experiences when your lungs take on water. The image of the river changed as she began to accept her fate. The deeper parts of the river were calm and without motion, unlike the chaotic movements of the river’s surface. The struggle to survive diminished as her body sank towards the river’s floor. 

            Victoria remembered seeing Chanel through the water’s surface; lips parted with a smile on her face. At that moment Victoria’s heart no longer beat; not from drowning but from a broken heart. Chanel killed Victoria before the water filled her lungs and severed her oxygen supply.

            She then experienced a more peaceful world as her body embraced the river’s floor. She looked up through the surface and saw Chanel standing at the water’s edge. No longer angered. Victoria was at peace. Now as Victoria accepted her fate, she saw the two of them standing side by side; both one in the same, when 2 equals 1.