Hidden Cameras Prologue

It was at his youngest child’s birthday party that I saw what at the time was one of E’s distinctive “celebrity” qualities—he used his pitcher’s arm to lob a beach ball into the splash pad pour bucket—ball, plunk, fill, pour, repeat. The crowd of summer park goers reveled his ability to beguile and entertain.

At the time I took his boyish self-confidence as the contributing factor—he had an athletic gift and had been praised and admired for it for years.

Why not use it for harmless fun?

I look through all of this with grief and anger now. All I did not see or understand about him that day, who he had been for years, and what was to come.

What would you paste to doors of cathedrals?

Over a year ago we found out that a family we knew had been devastated when they discovered that their child had been the victim of rape at the hands of a former MLB pitcher.

The rapes were recorded and shared. There is strong anecdotal evidence that other children were harmed this way as well.

The local police bullied and intimidated the victim, made no arrest, and closed the case.

As did CPS.

The FBI ignored requests for help as did the office of DPS and the Texas Rangers.

Oh, and President Biden too.

I have begun to think about Martin Luther and letters pasted on the walls and doors of cathedrals.

What would you say or do if you were haunted by the damage done to one child? Dozens?

We are all abandoned houses

I can close my eyes and see the road, the house, the caged tigers at the roadside pit stop. I can see the cities and the precipitous bridges, the waterside parks and the places we have been before—with the very people lost to us now

What I would give to tell the mother to let the girl go

Like a beloved but hopelessly tangled kite

And tell the girl to just

Untangle toward the sun,

We are all abandoned houses

Without him anyway

Advice for the dictator

Lately he doesn’t seem to smile much, hardly a surprise when his latest hobby is world domination.

I pray for him, but how?

How do you pray for a monster?

By acknowledging we are all monsters, only some monsters do not obey the voices in our heads which

Reduce cities to rubble and children to dust.

The advice is simple–

You are a man, just a man

And you are dying

You cannot, no,will not, outrun God

Repent and change

Leave everything but your soul behind and say you are sorry for what you have done

Replace your illusions of control with the acknowledgement of your weakness

For we are all monsters here

Debtors all to grace

Leave your robe

I try to gather traveling instructions for the “nice lady” I met at the coffee shop

Find those who sell the oil and stick with them closely until the bridegroom comes

Leave even your best robe behind

Be willing to sell all you have for the treasure in the field

Do all this for the least of these

Because narrow is the path to life (and few there are who will find it)

Call on the name of the Lord to be saved

If you don’t already seek and find him in

Ordinary wonders

Matthew 25:11-14 KJV

[11] Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. [12] But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. [13] Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. [14] For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

Sometimes we drive in the dark

Every once upon a time I take the girls

Driving in the dark

We look for places to call home–ramshackle garage, vape shop, dry cleaner with its window smashed

In the apocalypse there is still no

Room left in the inns of the world they ask

Why did she have to stick the needle in her arm? Why did she stick the needle in her arm? What was it about the needle that

Caused us to lose her?

The little one has poured her anger out over her minders all afternoon

Unwilling to face what it costs them

So I try to de Bergerac her through the necessary obsequities

I tell her I will whisper the words and she will shout–

I’m sorry

I’m sorry!

I’m sorry I was mean before

I’m sorry I was mean before

I was working out my grief

I was working out my grief

And sometimes there is anger in grief

And sometimes there is anger in grief

She has such a comical little girl voice

But when she says these things I know what God means

When He whispers in my ear

Lanterns to release in air

She wore a soft, pink sweater (her sister bought) as though the cool chill of October could touch her anymore and the small group of people gathered at her ad hoc memorial are floating up as the sky darkens

The ashes and the pink sweater and the flash of inexplicable light get me again and again

I have to conjure some litany for this–

Sprite, fly

Luminesce

Alight upon yonder shore