Sunday, April 29, 2007

If you knew the world would end in one week, what would you do?/Creative Muses

Had you asked me this question years ago, when I was young, before I'd seen what I've seen, lived through all I have experienced, my answer would have been so very different, but age changes so much. In a sense you could say my world has already ended once, and while most people wouldn't understand a statement like that, those who've lived through war will.

You enter life with an innocence, and because of that innocence you accept what the elders in your life teach you without question. But, as much as this innocence teaches you to trust those around you to protect you, it also prevents you from believing that men are capable of the evils that they are until you come face to face with them. At least that was how it was with me.

I grew up thinking I had the perfect life, I had family who loved me, I lived in one of the most beautiful places in the world, I had met and married the woman of my dreams and together we were building our own loving family. The only thing that could make our lives anymore perfect would be for me to graduate from medical school so that we could return to Zagreb where we would once again be close to family and friends. We never counted on a war, and we certainly never counted on the world as we knew it ending, but, it did, and in an instant it seemed, the life I had known was gone.

It has taken me over fifteen years to find my way back from the hell I found myself in after my wife and children were killed. The journey to where I am now has not been an easy one. I've made more mistakes than I want to think about and there have been many times when I hated the person I had become, but, I don't know that I could have gotten to the place I am now without learning the lessons that came with those mistakes.

So, knowing all I know now, and having been through all I have, if I knew that I would once again face the loss of my world, and if I had only a week left with them, I would take Abby and Joe back to my father's home in Croatia. I want Abby and Joe to see the beauty of my homeland, even if its only for that short time, and I want my father to spend time with the grandchild he thought he would never live to see. I can think of no better way to spend my final days then with those I love in the Country I was born in.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tell the story of one of your past scars./Theatrical Muse Challenge

Ever since Abby had accepted his proposal of marriage he had felt a sense of guilt weighing on him he could no longer ignore.  This wasn't something he could talk to anyone at work about, and as hard as it was to admit, it wasn't even anything he could share with Abby.  The sad truth was, it wasn't even anything new, when he and Abby had broken up years ago she had used it against him.  "You're married to a ghost." She had hurled the words at him as a means to hurt him, but, the fact was in his mind they were still true, and always would be, and now he had to find a way to balance those feelings with all that was happening.

As he entered the Church and genuflected Luka found the mixed emotions overwhelming, why had he chosen the Bishop's church to do this? As if it wasn't hard enough juggling the feelings he was having about betraying the vows he had made to Danijela, now he was compounding things by adding his treatment of the Bishop to them.

As he rose he couldn't help but remember the last time he had been in the Church.  He'd turned his back on the Church because he couldn't separate his need to lay blame for Danijela and his children's deaths from the comfort that he'd once found in their shared faith.  For nine years he had lived with the emptiness created not just by the loss of his family but the loss of something that had been a part of him since he was a child, and then he had met Bishop Stewart.

The man's face came vividly to mind as he walked across the Church and to the small alcove that held the flickering candles, reminders from others like him of those gone but never forgotten. Pulling his wallet from his back pocket he withdrew a ten before replacing it then tucked the bill in one of the small offering envelopes.

Closing his eyes he drew a deep breath, he hadn't expected this to be so hard, it might well have been days instead of years since they had passed, but, it hadn't been.  It had been six years since the Bishop had moved on to join his maker, six years since he had convinced him to share the burden that until that day he had born alone. He lit the first candle in the Bishop's memory, then reached for the next, the first of three that were meant to remember those who had brought him here in the first place. 

It had been just over fifteen years since they had been taken, Jasna, his oldest at five, was wise far beyond her years.  How many nights had he sat with her and listened to her hopes for when the war was over, her dreams for a future she would never know?

The next candle was more difficult if only because it seemed that Marko had been so much more in his thoughts since Joe had been born.  His firstborn son had been just eighteen months old when he had died, too young to say more than the simplest of words, too young to remember a time other than that which robbed him of his young life.  How many times had he already seen something in Joe that reminded him of the older brother he would never know?  Setting the small candle next to the first two, he reached for the final one, the one that was meant for Danijela.

She had been gone now for almost as many years as the age she was when they first met, that memory alone was enough to push the tears that he'd thus far managed to hold back, over the edge. It was hard to believe that it had been so long when it seemed only yesterday that they had sworn their undying love to each other. After setting her candle next to the other three he retreated to the pew in front of them.

There no denying that he loved Abby or that he wanted to marry her, but what would it take to erase the feeling that he was somehow betraying the vows he had exchanged with Danijela by committing to a life with her now?  She had held so much of his heart for so long, how did he ask her to release that, to allow another to take that from her?  Moving to kneel on the footstool he steepled his fingers before closing his eyes.

"Help me...I don't know how to ask for your permission without hurting you." The tears fell freely now, wetting his cheeks as he struggled for a way to find a compromise in his mind that would allow him to love both women, without slighting either. 

"I love you so much, but I love her too..." He'd held onto his grief for so long, buried it, never allowing anyone to get as close as Danijela had gotten...until now.

It was time

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Night Out 10/? Back Alley/100 Situations

The increase in the tension of the robbers had an immediate effect on their hostages and while some simply gave into the tears born of their fear, among most there was a pronounced increase in the level of the conversations among them.

"Shut the fuck up! So help me I'm gonna start shooting people if you don't shut your mouths." The announcement from the robber stunned almost everyone into immediate silence, not just because of the threat but because he was the one that to this point had been the silent one, the one they thought they had least to fear.  Clearly, tensions were rising and not just among the hostages.

Bobby...back off,we need to figure a way out of this."  Albert returned to the front window, pulling the curtain aside only enough to get a glimpse of the street outside.

"Why don't you just let everyone go, before things get worse then they already are?" The words were out of Luka's mouth before Abby could stop him.

"You were told to keep your mouth shut." Whether it was fear or something more that drove him, it was the youngest of the three that reacted to Luka's words and before either of the other two men could stop him he was on him. His first kick doubled the Croat over, the ones that followed would leave him gasping for breath on the floor before Albert could pull him off.

"What the hell are you doing?  You want to kill him? You were supposed to be checking the back alley, keeping an eye on what's going on out there, and you, get your ass up." After assuring himself that Joey was finally doing as he'd been told Albert nudged Kovac with the toe of his shoe, when he made no effort to comply he reached down and grabbed a handful of his shirt and jerked him upright.

"I said I wanted you up, so help me, I'll turn him lose on you again." His voice held the promise of a threat that he'd have no trouble acting on.

"Can't you see he's hurt...untie me, I'll keep him sitting if that's what you want." Abby offered the compromise without worrying about the consequences to herself. As the robber released his hold on Luka's shirt and he watched the man simply curl into himself again he realized he'd have to make a choice.

"Alright, but you try anything, and I mean anything, and he's the first to die. You got me?" As he finished speaking Albert stepped behind Abby and untied her hands.

"I mean it, you get him up and you keep him up, anything happens and he dies first." Without waiting for her response he stepped away from their hostages, things were not going well at all.

"Bobby! What's happening in the back alley?"



1.56.3 Who or what brings out your protective instincts?/Realm of the Muse

I was raised to believe that an important part of marriage was being responsible for the care of my family. As a husband and father it would be up to me to make sure the needs of my wife and children were met. To insure that they always had a roof over their heads, that there was food on the table, that they were safe. When you're young you believe those are simple things to ask, your father has done them, and his father before him, how can you fail? You enter into your vows and you don't think that there is anything more then that, you certainly never imagine how quickly those beliefs can be ripped away from you when you find yourself in the middle of a war. You certainly never think you'll be asked to watch your child go to bed hungry, or cry themselves to sleep while bombs are exploding around them. I would have done anything then to insure the safety of my wife and children, in my own mind I think I thought I was, I learned the hard way how wrong I was when I lost them.

The loss of Danijela and my children changed me and for far too many years it closed off a huge part of who I was to most people. I guess in a way I thought it was a means of protecting myself, but in truth it was the fear of being asked to again protect someone else. It's taken years for me to lower the walls I built around myself and let anyone close to me, but the after-effects are still there, the need to protect, to make sure those close to me remain safe, those things never leave me.

I wish I could say that my instinct to protect those around me is always a good thing, but, it's not, there have been times when it's proved dangerous, and once even fatal. If those I love are in danger the need to protect them can become the only thing in my mind, and I'll do whatever it takes to see that happen. I don't think I realized how much I was ready to give up to see my family safe until that day I found Curtis Ames in our apartment. I always knew I would fight to protect them, but until that moment that I went out that door with him, leaving Abby and Joe safe, I didn't believe I would walk to what could have been my death for them.

I'll never know why Curtis Ames chose to take his own life on that rooftop that night instead of mine, I only know that he made me value that much more the gifts that Abby and Joe are to me. I knowtoo that were time to rewind that I would do the same thing all over again.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Night Out 9/? whisper in 100 Situations

With the patrons all finally secured, and having gathered up their haul, the three moved back to the front of the restaurant, leaving their hostages alone for the first time since they had entered. Not surprisingly, most began to talk among themselves immediately, some simply to offer comfort to spouses, others to complain, though wisely not loud enough to be overheard. Abby's concern was on Luka as he struggled again to sit, and she watched him for signs of more serious injuries than what he had exhibited before.

"Luka, are you all right" She kept her voice low, barely above a whisper as she spoke.

"I don't know." He shook his head, then immediately regretted it as his headache seemed to worsen. 

"I think my head's going to explode." He winced as he tested the restraints on his wrists and found himself rewarded with a tightening of them.

"I sorry, Luka." Abby's concern was written clearly on her face as she studied his face for changes from her earlier exam of him.

"Sorry for what?" He shifted his full attention to her as he picked up the change in the tone of her voice.

"For not listening to you earlier, when you said you felt like something wasn't right, I should have trusted your instincts, and I didn't." Abby dropped her eyes from his face with the admission.

"Abby, look at me."  Luka waited until she was looking at him again before continuing.

"You couldn't have known this was going to happen, I didn't even know what was wrong, don't blame yourself."  He glanced toward the entrance where the men were gathered then back to her.

"They've got what they wanted, there's no reason for them to stay, they'll probably be leaving any time, you'll see."  The words were no sooner out of his mouth then there was a yell from the door.

"Damn!  Joey, go check the back, son of a bitch, there are cops outside." Albert had drawn the curtain back to look over the street and now let it fall as he turned to his brother with raised hands.

"What are you waiting for?  Go check the back."

to be continued...

Bridge in Fog/Canon Muses

What was he doing? Even as he walked the deserted streets of Vukovar he knew how dangerous it was, maybe that was the point, maybe he was taunting them, daring them to set their sights on him as they had so many others before him. It wasn't as if he wasn't aware of the danger, how could he not know it intimately? Since Danijela and the children had been buried his life had become the hospital, day in and day out he and those like him were left to try and salvage the lives forever changed by the snipers and mortars. If only that were enough. 

Crossing the bridge he stopped and moved to the side, as he stared at the swirling waters below he could feel the the pull of it.  It would be so easy to just climb over it, he would disappear and it would all be over.  The thought was one that came too frequently, but was one that he knew too he could never act on, not if he was to hold any hope for reuniting with Danijela and the children.

Drawing a breath he forced himself to look away, this wasn't the answer anymore then tempting the snipers was, but that didn't stop him from doing it. How long would it take before the guilt would retreat enough to allow him to return to some sort of a normal life again?  Would it ever happen? The only surety in all of this was that he wouldn't find the answers here anymore then he had found them within the church that seemed to have abandoned them. All that was left to him now was his work, and with that in mind he began the slow walk across the fog shrouded bridge and back toward the hospital.


Would you ever kill a human being?/Theatrical Muse Challenge

Would I? The question best asked is have I? As a doctor I deal with life and death on a daily basis but that isn't what I mean and I wouldn't even begin to hide behind that as a way to avoid accepting responsibility for what I've done. I've lived through a war, seen my wife and two young children and far too many others taken before their time, but I don't even use that as an excuse for what I've done. No, I don't think it's fair to them or their memories to try and excuse my actions by using even the grief and anger I carry at those losses.

I have killed someone.

I don't know that I even realized how much rage lay hidden inside of me until that cold Chicago night when Abby and I were attacked by that anonymous mugger. We were walking along the river when he came out of nowhere, I don't know that I even saw him at first, I felt something strike the back of my head and the next thing I knew I was on the ground and I heard Abby's scream. The rest comes in a blur, I got to my feet and pulled him off of her, the rage had me fully in it's grip and suddenly he became responsible for hurting everyone I had ever seen in pain. I grabbed his lapels and slammed his head into the pavement and once I had started I couldn't seem to stop myself. I don't know how many blows he suffered at my hands before Abby was able to stop me, I do know his skull was shattered. He was alive when he arrived at the hospital but there was nothing anyone could do, I had killed him. I knew it, and there was nothing anyone could say to change that. The police excused what I had done by saying my actions were clearly ones of self-defense, but, I question that, knowing at anytime I could have stopped, if only I had been able to control the rage

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Night Out 8/? Crazy in 100 Situations

The man was crazy, Abby was sure of it, but, as much as she wanted to tell him that, her fear for what he was capable of held her back.

"Move." Albert shoved Luka in the direction he wanted him to go, paying no mind to the fact that the man was still dazed and disoriented, and in fact causing him to stumble as he lost his balance.

"Get down on the floor, hands behind your back, now." He glanced over to where the other two men had begun securing the rest of the patrons, before bringing his attention back to Luka and Abby.

"You too, what are you waiting for?" He momentarily shifted his attention away from Luka as he sprawled on the wood floor, more concerned with making sure that the woman didn't try to escape.  He needn't have worried, as Luka lost his balance Abby quickly moved to his side, kneeling next to him before laying a hand on his shoulder.

"Luka, look at me." She barely had time to register the size of his pupils let alone whether they were equal before Albert was jerking her away from him.

"That's enough, I said sit." He pushed her to the side before laying his rifle on the bar so he could concentrate on tying Luka's hands behind his back.

"Your turn." Albert grabbed one of the collected ties before turning to Abby, and yanking her arms sharply behind her back. His actions finally prompting a response from Luka as he tried to stop him by butting him with his shoulder."

"You don't have to be so rough with her." He shook his head, trying to clear the dizziness as he spoke.

"Bad move Cowboy." Without giving it a second thought Albert backhanded Luka.

"You shouldn't have done that, that's two, next time is going to be a hell of a lot worse." With the warning given he turned his attention back to securing Abby.

To be continued.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Memories of Vukovar/Red for Artistic License

"Is anybody in here? Hello? Anybody here?" It was hard to know if the voices were real or imagined as he roused himself from the exhausted sleep that had finally claimed him. The apartment was still dark, the only light that which came from the small fires still burning throughout the ruined building.

"Hello? Is anyone here?" The call came again, louder this time. As exhausted as he was, Luka forced himself to sit up.

"Danijela, help is here, I told you they'd come." Reaching across his children he brushed a lock of hair from his wife's face.

"I'll get them, we'll get you all to the hospital, everyone will be fine." Scrambling to his feet he ignored the stab of pain as a sliver of wood pierced it, shock already having distorted his reality that it barely registered.

"In here..." He stumbled to the door, tripping over the debris as he made his way to it.

"I've got a live one." He heard the voice only moments before the owner of it grabbed him by the arms.

"My wife, my children, I need to get them to the hospital." Luka immediately tried to pull out of the man's hold, his only thoughts those of Danijela and the children. 

"Slow down, we'll get to them, let's look at you, are you hurt?" That the man's hands were stained red with blood had the rescuer immediately looking for visible injuries on the dark man in front of him.

"My wife, my children, please..." He struggled to pull free of the man's hold.

"They're waiting for me, I couldn't get them there alone." The admission wasn't an easy one to make but neither was standing there when Danijela and the children were still inside.

"They'll get them, let me take care of you. Ante, Ivo, he says his wife and children are inside and injured." He'd no sooner sent the two men inside the apartment and turned his attention back to Luka then the two returned, their faces grim.

"Dusan." Ante was the first to speak and as the man looked his way he simply shook his head.

"You said you would take them." Luka broke free of the man's grasp and started for the door again, determined to do what they would not.

"It's too late, I'm sorry, they're gone..." Even as Dusan confirmed what the man had to know he wondered if he would allow it to register.  He'd struggled tosave them, no doubt they had died in his arms, yet some part of him continued to cling to the hope of the miracle that wouldn't come.

"We'll bring them out for you." Ante made the offer without knowing how it would be received.

"No..." With his way back to Danijela and the children blocked by the two who had confirmed the unavoidable truth Luka was forced to stop and as he looked from one to the other he was finally forced to accept what he wanted so badly to deny.

"No..." Sinking to his knees the shock began to fade and he allowed the grief to consume him.  They were gone...his eyes locked on his hands, stained red with their blood, the same hands that had failed them. No, not his hands, he had failed them...all of them.

Night Out 7/? Come in 100 Situations

Albert Falbrizzo remained silent for a long moment, truth was he was taking perverse pleasure in watching the woman's anxiety rise the longer he delayed her. Finally, he released a smile and lifted the gun from Luka's chest.

"All right, but, I want his wallet and cell phone before you do anything." He remained close as the small woman rushed to the unconscious man's side, dropping to her knees she fished through his pockets.

"Take them." She handed first his phone, then his wallet upward, they were just things, none of them mattered as much as he did.

"Luka...come on, time to wake up." Abby dipped one of the napkins in the water before wiping the blood from his brow. When her actions prompted a soft moan from him as consciousness returned, she couldn't stop the smile from surfacing.

"That's it, you're all right." She applied even pressure to the gash, only to find she had to fend off his hands as he tried to stop her.

"No..." He started to sit, then groaned as she put her hand on his shoulder, pushing him back.

"Just stay down for a minute, let me look you over." With Luka awake Abby felt a weight lift, the first hurdle was cleared, she held two fingers in front of his face.

"How many fingers?" As she waited for his response she gaged the size of his pupils, looking for differences in the size that might further indicate a head injury.

"Two." Luka raised his hand again, intending to rub his eyes only to find his efforts stopped yet again.

"I have a headache." He offered the complaint as if that might sway her.

"I'm sorry, but, you need to keep your hand down, I mean it." Her tone held a threat of implied violence, though both knew none would follow.

"What happened?" For the first time Luka looked past Abby, and as he caught sight of the man with the rifle he again started to sit up.

"Luka, stop, just lay still." Abby barely got the warning out before Albert intervened.

"He wants to sit up, the two of you can join the others, he looks like he can handle it." Moving to Luka he grabbed his arm, yanking him to his feet before Abby could protest.

"Come on, let's go."

to be continued...

Night Out 6/? Return in 100 Situations

"I need a towel or a napkin, something to stop the bleeding." Abby forced herself to look away from Luka long enough to try and get what she needed to help Luka. "Please?"

"Get it yourself, but, try anything, I'll just kill him and it won't matter." As if to bring home his point the man moved closer.

"If you're going to get something you'd better get what you need now, this is the only time you're moving except for when you join the others over there." He used the gun as a pointer, jerking it around toward the bar where the other two had begun tying up the other patrons and staff.

"I'm going, just don't hurt him." Abby slid Luka's head from her knee and eased it back to the floor before scrambling to her feet. She only had one chance, what would she need for him? Heading for the closest table she grabbed several napkins as, then almost as an afterthought she began emptying the table of everything so she could take the tablecloth as well. With that too in hand, she looked back at the man who still hovered over Luka.

"I just need to get a glass of water, for when he comes around and to clean the wound." She pointed to one of the recently vacated tables, but remained where she was until she received his nod of approval.

"Get it, that's it though." As if she needed a reminder of the risk he posed to Luka, he nudged the still unconscious Croat with the gun, poking him in the stomach.

"Don't." Abby the word was out before she could stop it and she quickly grabbed the closest glass of water before hurrying back to Luka's side.

"I wasn't going to do anything else, don't hurt him anymore." Before she could move her captor grabbed her arm, pulling her close enough that she could smell his breath.

"Don't tell me what to do." His finger's bit into her arm, causing her to yelp in pain. "You get me?"

"Yes." Abby nodded her assent, willing to say anything if it would get her to Luka's side sooner, this was taking too long, Luka needed her, and she needed to see to him.

"Please, let me go to him." She was willing to do whatever it took...

to be continued...

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Night Out Pt 5/? Hospital in 100 Situations

"What's going on?" Archie Morris dropped the chart he was carrying into the rack as he reached the Nurse's Station.

"Chicago police just notified us, they have a hostage situation, they want the Hospital to be on call for potential casualties." Frank filled the attending in on what he knew while continuing to listen to the officer on the other end of the line.

"Somebody turn the tv on, see if they have coverage of this." The red-head was already prioritizing the cases they had in the waiting-room, deciding who could wait in the event that the situation became ugly in a hurry.

"They have any idea on what they're looking at for numbers?" He turned his attention back to the desk clerk with the question.

"Not yet, sounds like it's only just started to play out." He shook his head.

"There's a live newsfeed." Ray Barnett announced from in front of the set as he tuned the station in.

"All right, we need to get this place cleared, if they have no idea what we are looking at for numbers then we have to be ready for anything." Archie glanced up to the board as he began formalizing his own plan of action.

"Do you want me to call extra people in, just in case?" Frank held the phone away from his ear, obviously finished with his call as he waited for the response.

"Not yet, let's see what plays out, if things have just started maybe nothing will happen" Morris pulled the nearest chair closer to him as he shifted his attention to the television screen.

"Yeah, right, you still believe in the Easter Bunny too?" Ray glanced over with the crack.

"Go clear a room, Ray." Reaching for the closest pen Archie heaved it at the man.  "And turn the sound up before you go."

to be continued...

Night Out 4/? Floor in 100 Situations

"Everybody, down on the floor, we want wallets, purses, jewelry..." The men began barking orders, each shouting over the other to be heard over the voices of the terrified customers. For Abby it were as if she were watching it from the outside, while she found herself complying, she couldn't help but keep looking back to where Luka still lay on the floor, as yet unmoving.

"Please, can I see to him? I'm a doctor." She offered the last in the hope that common sense might win over the man where emotion might not.

"I know you didn't mean to hurt him, he just surprised you, please?"  The oldest of the men leveled his gun on her, delaying a response as he looked first to his partners then to Luka and back to her.

"All right, you can check on him, but you try anything and I'll kill him and you both." As if the gun alone had not been enough to convince her, the tone of his voice left no doubt as to the seriousness behind his words.

"Will you all just shut up, I swear, one more sound." The largest of the three snapped as the noise level began to get to him.

"We want cell phones...better get those ties and belts off too, going to need something to tie you up with." They continued manhandling their way through the other patrons, yanking off necklaces and tossing threats when someone moved too slowly to suit them.

"Joey..get everyone down on the floor by the bar...line them up there, we'll use the railing to secure them." The man who stood over Abby glanced away long enough to issue the order to the smallest of the three before turning back and nudging her with the end of the gun.

"Go if you're going, but so help me, I'll kill him where he lays if you try anything, you got me?" He issued the threat with the barrel still trained on her.

"Yes, just let me go." Her voice trembled despite her efforts to control it.

"All right." Motioning her to move with the rifle the man watched her move to Luka's side, even going so far to walk across the room and stand beside her as she sank to the floor beside him.

"Luka..." Abby lifted his head onto her knee as she brushed his bangs back, feeling the sticky wetness of blood on her fingers. "Luka, come on, wake up."

to be continued...

Night Out 3/? Eat in 100 Situations

Even after they had ordered and their meals had arrived, Luka found the feeling that had started as they left the movie theatre still lingering.

"Is something wrong with your meal?" Abby paused with her fork in mid-bite as she asked the question, unable to ignore the shift in his mood any longer.

"What? No, it's fine, why?" He blinked, bringing her into focus as he realized that he was so lost in his own thoughts that he had been looking past her without really seeing anything.

"You're not eating." She gestured to his untouched plate with her fork. "What's going on, Luka?"

"I don't know." As he answered Luka shook his head, then picked his own fork up for the first time, only to play with the food on his plate once he had it in his hand. "I just...something isn't right, I can't explain it."

While she couldn't say she understood what Luka was feeling, neither was she willing to write off his feelings as nothing and after a moment she laid her own fork back down on her plate.

"Do you want to go?" She met his eyes firmly with the question once the decision was made. "We can take this home."

"You're sure, you don't mind?" Relief washed immediately over him.

"I don't mind." As she replied she found a small smile for him, hoping that he might find some additional reassurance in it. "Why don't you go pay the check and I'll have the waitress box these for us."

"Okay." With the decision made a sense of relief washed over him and Luka rose and started for the cashier, if asked later what happened next, he would remember as little more then a blur.

He had no sooner reached the cashier then the door to the restaurant slammed open with a crash as it hit the wall and three men brandishing guns entered.

"Get back, everybody, back!" The first of those started immediately shouting orders as they moved inside.  The sight of Luka at the register was unexpected and his immediate reaction was purely defensive, the man was too close, but rather than firing his weapon he drew the butt of the rifle he held up and slammed it into the man's temple, dropping him instantly.

"Luka! Abby screamed as he went down and started to run to him.

"I said stay back!" Luka's attacker pointed his weapon, stopping her in her tracks as the others locked the door and began herding the rest of the patrons to one side of the room.

to be continued...


Thursday, April 5, 2007

Night Out 2/? Restaurant in 100 Situations

"So." Abby looked over at Luka as she started to speak.

"So? What?" His smile surfaced again as he tried to figured out what she was going to say before she began.

"I was just thinking about how long it'd been since we had a date-night." As they walked down the sidewalk Abby found herself matching her pace to Luka's, a task made easier as he shortened his stride for her.

"Long time...before Joe was born." As if he needed the words to remind him Luka fished his cell-phone from his pocket. "Should call and see how things are going."

"Luka, We're only been gone two hours, he's fine, besides, Louise knows how to reach us if there's a problem." Abby reached for his hand, only to squeeze it in reassurance as she spoke.

"Something doesn't feel right, I can't explain it." He returned the squeeze as he smiled down at her, but, the smile faded even before it fully developed.

"Do you want to go home?" She stopped, the change in his mood becoming contagious.

"No, that's all right, I'm sure you're right, he's fine and Louise would call if he wasn't, let's go ahead and go to the restaurant." Even as he made the decision the feeling lingered, something wasn't right, he could only hope that he was wrong, that it really was nothing and that dinner would pass uneventfully.

to be continued...


Part One Here:

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Holmes Quote/Canon Muses

The great thing in this world is not so much where you stand, as in what direction you are moving.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes

Since Abby and I have begun talking about marriage, I've found myself spending more time thinking back on the years I had with Danijela. I think of all of the plans that we had for our lives, of our hopes, and our dreams for the future. We were really no different then so many around us, like our parents before us we embraced our faith, we cherished the closeness of family and friends. We knew that our children would be raised as we had been raised, and we had no reason to think the cycle wouldn't continue as they grew to adulthood. I don't think either of us ever could have imagined how wrong we would be, I know that we never counted on the changes war would bring with it.

There was a period of time after Danijela and our children died where I stopped living. It wasn't really that I was afraid to go forward, but more that in doing so I would be leaving behind a part of myself I wasn't ready to lose. I was grieving, I was in pain, what was the point? If I could have rewound time and placed myself with them on that fateful day, I was positive I would have done so.

I'm not sure when I began to start thinking about my life having a future again instead of simply living in the past, I know it wasn't anything intentional, but, rather a gradual shift in my mindset. Day by day I found less of my time being consumed with calling forth memories of those who could no longer be with me, I spent less time consoling myself with the company of the small black and white photo that was all I had to remember them by.

When I chose to leave Croatia my brother accused me of running away from my past, I wanted to see it as giving myself a chance at a life I didn't think I could have if I remained where reminders existed around every corner. The life I'm building with Abby shows that I made the right move all those years ago, so much so that I wonder if our future might now include a way back to my past as well. After all these years I find myself wanting to go home, I wonder if it's too late...