Monday, November 29, 2010

The Final Installment 50,432

I cannot believe that I managed to not only write 50,000 words, but I also wrote them in a way that at least one or two people enjoyed. Thank you all for your encouragement and suggestions, those meant a lot to me. I hope you like the ending lol

The four of them sat there for a few minutes not really talking, but saying a lot. Then Amy said to the room in general, “I think that we need to speak to my parents before I do anything, they deserve to know what is going on and I could use their support.” Jon agreed asking “Are they at home right now?” Amy looked a little abashed and replied “I don’t really know Jon, they were both there when I ran out this morning, but my dad probably had to go to work.” “My mom is over at your house right now,” Jennie said “Your mom called and asked her to come over.” “Well, that will make it a little bit easier, Jennie, do you think you could get your dad over there too? And I’ll ask mom to get my dad. Then we only have to go over this one time.” Amy asked, and as an aside “Like I really want to even go over it even ONE time” then she sighed and stood up. “Ok everybody, let’s take this show on the road.” That got a smile out of each of them as they trooped out of the office out to the cars.

It was only about a five minute drive from the dojo to Amy’s house, and the two cars made excellent time. When they walked in the front door Wanda jumped up from the couch and came quickly toward her daughter, then she hesitated, afraid that she was about to make a mistake. Amy closed the distance and her mother enveloped her in her arms, hugging her so hard that Amy couldn’t breath. But that was ok with her, she cried for a few minutes, then taking a deep breath she pulled back a little and looking at her mom said “Mom, is there any way that you could get dad here?” and turning to Edna she said “And Rich too, he is a part of this too. We need to decide on a course of action as a group and they need to be here.” Wanda and Edna looked at each other and silently headed for the phone to call the men.

While they waited for the dads to get there Wanda brought out some tea and chips as a snack, knowing the young people must be starving. There wasn’t much chatter as they sat there, no one was really in the mood for chit chat right then.

Bob and Rich drove up to the house almost at the same time. As Rich exited his car he looked at Bob with curiosity and asked “Do you know what this is all about? Edna didn’t give me any details on the phone.” Bob just shook his head as the two men walked quickly into the house.

Amy was pretty nervous right about then. These were the people closest to her in the whole world and she was about to ask them to help her do something extremely difficult. Slowly she began speaking. “I’m pretty sure you all have heard the news, but just in case you haven’t, here it is. The police think that the two men they arrested last night are the same two that attacked me. They would like me to come down to the station and speak with the detective in charge of this new case. I am terrified of this, and as my parents saw this morning, I didn’t react well to the news. With the help of Jon and Brad tho, I am ready to face this demon once and for all. I may break down, I may shake in my boots, I may cry like a baby, but it is time to do this!!!” she paused and took a deep breath then continued. “I would like for all of you to come with me. I know that I cannot do this alone, and I believe that as we have done with the self-defense program, we can act well as a team. I need my team for this. Will you go?” “Of course” “When do you need me?” “Anytime you need me” were the responses. She smiled a little smile of, well, almost of contentment, and quietly said “Thank you. I love you all.”

It took two cars to get all eight of them down to the station. And when they walked in the door the front desk sergeant gave them a bit of an odd look, but called the Detective right away when they asked him to. Then he told them to have seats until the Detective arrived. He was a tad surprised when they had no sooner seated themselves then he was there.

He took them all back to his office and apologized for not having more room, but said that he wasn’t exactly expecting an ‘army’ to come down. They smiled and found places to stand around the room as Amy sat in the chair in the front of his desk.

Detective Monroe introduced himself as the lead on this case and asked Amy if she was up to answering some questions about her attackers. “Nothing too hard” he was quick to assure her “But we need to get a couple of things straight so that we know for certain that these are the same guys.” Amy nodded her head and waited, holding Brad’s hand as he rested it on her shoulder. “Can you tell me if you remember any scars or tattoos or other identifying marks on either of the men?” Amy thought back and tried to see them in her mind, she started to tremble and Brad squeezed her hand, “No, I do not remember seeing anything like that, but the taller one was missing a front tooth.” She replied. “Ok, good. Now, can you remember anything about either one of them that sticks out in your mind?” Again she took a moment to think about his question, then she said “Not much, they seemed like they could be just about anyone, but I will never forget their faces. I’m sorry Detective, I guess I am not going to be much help after all.” She was disappointed and it showed. “Not at all Amy, you are doing an excellent job. The two men that we picked up last night are just the run of the mill males, no marks, no tattoos, no scars. But one IS missing a front tooth.” Amy jerked her head up and stared at him. “I believe that they are the same men who attacked you Amy. And I would very much like to prove that in a court of law. But, I know how hard this has been on you and will understand if you cannot do that.” He stopped and looked at her for a moment then said “The young lady that was attacked last night is willing to testify against them and the bite mark on the one man is enough evidence to stand up in court. I do not know how long they would be in prison, but I know that they would go.” “I will testify if I need to” Amy declared. “I will NOT allow them to win. They need to be punished for what they did and they need to be locked up for as long as we can so that other women will be safe!” “Amy do you mean that?” the Detective asked excitedly “I mean, it will be very difficult and the defense can be brutal, please, be sure before you agree, because I want the same thing you do and once I start I’m pretty hard to stop.” Slowly Amy nodded her head “Yes, I am sure. I will do it. I CAN do it, with the help of everyone in this room.” Her friends and family were worried about her, but they were learning that Amy was a whole lot stronger then they had ever believed, and they were ready to stand behind her every step of the way. “Detective Monroe, I have a favor to ask you.” Amy said then, “Yes? What?” he asked. “Is there any way that I can speak to the young lady that was attacked last night? I need to make sure….I need to see…I mean,” she paused to gather her thoughts and tried again, “I think I need to see that she is ok before I move on, I almost feel responsible for her attack because I didn’t do anything to stop those men before now.” “Whoa there” exclaimed the Detective, “There is NO way in Hell that you are in any way at fault for what happened last night! Do not even think it!” he shook his head in disbelief at what she had said. “Amy, no one knew where to find them, this has been an open case all this time and we have been trying to solve it. You gave us all the information that you had, and that was ALL that you could have done!” After looking at him for a few minutes she nodded her head and said “ok, I’ll go along with that, but still, do you think I could talk to her?” Detective Monroe thought about that for a few minutes, then he agreed to speak with the other victim and see if she was willing to meet with Amy. He stood and held out his hand to Amy, “Thank you for what you are doing Amy, I know it’s hard, and I’m glad that you are going to help us.” Amy shook his hand and then he led the group out.

The next morning the Detective called to tell Amy that the woman had agreed to meet with her, and to come to the diner at 11:30, they could talk over lunch. Amy was super nervous about this meeting, but knew it had to happen. She called Brad and Jennie to tell them what was going on and asked them to be there with her. She hoped that it wouldn’t cause the other woman any grief, but she needed them there. The three of them arrived about fifteen minutes early to snag a good table in the back, where they could have a fairly private conversation. Then they sat in silence waiting. It was only a few minutes before they saw Detective Monroe holding the door for a young woman, who glanced nervously around the diner as if she wanted more than anything to just turn around and run. But she didn’t, and the Detective led her gently to the table where the three friends sat.

Amy stood up, walked over to the girl and gave her a hug. At first the young lady stood there stiffly, then gradually she relaxed and hugged Amy back. They stood like that for a good while, before breaking apart and moving back to the table. Detective Monroe said “Amy this is Lisa,” Amy nodded “Lisa this is Amy, the young lady I told you about.” “Hi Amy” Lisa said quietly. “I am glad to meet you” “And I you” replied Amy. Now that the pleasantries were out of the way, there seem to be nothing else to say. The silence was becoming uncomfortable when Amy finally broke it with “Lisa, can you tell me how you thought of biting that man?” This was obviously not the question anyone expected and it elicited a surprised chuckle from them. Lisa thought for a moment then said “you are going to think this is silly, but it was a conversation I had with my girlfriend from church.” She began “she was telling me about this new class she had taken a week or so before the attack, and how the people teaching it had emphasized that keeping your wits about you and believing that you could escape were essential to doing so. And for some reason that stuck with me when that man grabbed me. I was panicking, I didn’t know what to do, and I just knew I was going to die when her voice came into my head. Telling me what she had learned. And it worked.” She looked at Amy with a kind of excitement in her eyes. “It worked Amy! I think I may owe my life to her instructors. I haven’t spoken with her since the attack, so I don’t know who they are, but when I find out, I’m going to go thank them.”

Brad, Amy and Jennie just sat there with their mouths half open and their eyes so wide that they looked almost comic. When they recovered their wits they looked at each other, then at Lisa and then back at Amy. Brad was the first to react, then Jennie and finally Amy. “IT WORKED!” Brad yelled “AMY - IT WORKED!” He jumped up from the table with Jennie right behind him and the two of them grabbed Amy by the hands and dragged her to her feet laughing and crying and shaking her head she hugged them both as they danced in place. Poor Lisa and Detective Monroe had moved back away from these three crazy people and Lisa was about to run out of the diner when Amy turned to her with a brilliant smile “Lisa, THANK YOU!” she said “You have no idea what you just did for me” “No, I guess I don’t” said Lisa hesitantly. “well, let me explain…” and Amy, Brad and Jennie told her all about the new Self – Defense Program that they had created. “And so, Lisa, what you have just told us means that FEDUP really does work, and it works for people who haven’t even taken the course yet, that it makes such a difference that just hearing about it can save someone’s life.” Amy’s face was radiant as she told Lisa the most important part “And it means that I AM helping to make sure that what happened to me will never happen to another woman” she shook her head slightly. “I know I cannot save everyone, but with this new program we have already saved ONE and that justifies our belief in it. We will continue to teach and we will continue to make a difference. And THAT is the only thing that matters.”

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Installment number 23 48,051


It didn’t take Jon very long at all to arrive at the dojo, but to Amy and to Brad it was an eternity. They had not spoken a word, nor moved a muscle since Brad had hung up the phone. Amy just about jumped thru the roof when Jon knocked on the door of the office. She had been so deep into her morass of despair that she had lost track of anything outside of her mind. Brad immediately got up and went to open the door. He and Jon shared a few words in low voices and then Jon went over to Amy, knelt down in front of her chair and reached out to her. Amy shrunk back as far as the chair would allow, looking at him with wide stricken eyes. He did not back off, just knelt there with his hand outstretched. Finally Amy started to relax a little and she reached out one hand and laid it into his. He stayed just like that for what seemed forever to Brad, not saying anything, not moving, not doing anything, but while he was there doing nothing Amy was visibly getting a grip on herself and her emotions. Her shoulders relaxed back down a few inches, her head came up and she actually looked at Jon, instead of flitting glances. Brad breathed a silent sigh of relief and sent up a prayer of thanks for Jon and his ability to do just the right thing at the just right time. After a couple of minutes, Amy gave a small smile to her friends and said “I think I’ll be ok now. Please sit down, you both look so uncomfortable.” With an exaggerated sigh of relief for his poor knees, Jon rose and walked to a chair by the desk. Brad stayed where he was as he asked Amy, “Do you want me to stay? Or to leave? I will do what ever you need me to do.” She asked him to stay, “If you want to, I do not think that it is vital for you to hear me blatting on about my silly reactions, but if you want to stay, I would love your support.” He immediately went to the chair next to her and sat down, he tentatively reached for her hand and she clasped his without a seconds hesitation.

“Wonderful,” exclaimed Jon “The first hurdle has successfully been conquered!” Amy and Brad just looked at him uncomprehendingly. “I walked in here to a completely frightened woman, who was afraid to even look at me, and once I was here she found the courage to overcome that fear and start on the steps to banish it. THAT is a triumph!” “But Jon, you don’t even know what it was all about! How can you believe that I won something?” “Easily,” he replied “any time that you can overcome your fears and move from abject terror to the ability to deal with the issue, it is a winning situation.” She smiled, “Ok, I’ll give you that one. But, now what do I do?” she asked him. Jon looked at her for a couple of minutes, assessing his next move, then he said “Amy, the first thing you need to do is tell me what happened and then we can go from there.” So Amy began to hesitantly relate the mornings events. “And when it sunk in that they were really still here, had not jumped off the side of the world or just disappeared into nothingness, both kind of silly thoughts, I’ll grant you, my mind took me right back to that day and the fear and terror and horror of what happened.” She shook her head ruefully “nothing like putting one’s head in the sand and ignoring reality is there?” “Now you just stop that right now!” Jon rebuked her gently “You went thru something that night that few people ever do, and you managed to not only survive, you escaped and made it home and are doing your best to make a new life for yourself, AND trying to create a method to help prevent this from happening to anyone else. THAT is nothing to sneeze at young lady!” Amy hung her head and Brad continued. “Have you contacted the police about this? Do you know if these are the same men?” She raised her eyes and looked at him with disbelief. “You think it could be someone else? That there are TWO teams of horrible men going around in this area and abducting young girls?” Jon slowly shook his head, “No, I do not really believe that Amy, but what I do believe is that until you know for sure, you cannot put these fears to rest. We need to call the police and ask them a few questions.” Amy shook her head ‘no’, “I do not think that I can go down there and identify them, I cannot look at them, I cannot allow them to SEE ME!” she started crying and covering her face with her hands she once again began to curl up in the chair. As Brad reached for her, Jon waved him back and said gently, “Amy, I know you cannot do those things, right now.” She stopped crying but didn’t move “I am not asking you to do them. What I am saying is that we need to know. We need to know positively, without a shadow of a doubt that these are the men who attacked you. Once we know this then the next step will be easier.” Slowly she raised her head and looked at him. “How do we find out” she asked “without me going there?” Brad broke in then, “I call the police department and see if I can get any information.” Jon nodded. “That would be a good place to start. If they tell you, then we are one step closer to getting you better,” he continued, looking at Amy. “Do you want to be here when I call?” Brad asked Amy? She thought about that for a moment, then nodded her head. “Yes, I think it would be best if I were, if they need any information from me to allow them to answer you, I need to be here.” Then she visibly took control of herself again, and sitting up straight in her chair, she said “Please call them for me Brad.” Then she paused and said “Brad promised my folks that he would let them know what was going on as soon as he knew, Jon do you think he should call them now or wait?” she asked. “Call now Brad” Jon replied “let’s not leave them hanging any longer then we have to.”

Bob and Wanda were very concerned about their little girl. This morning had shown them very dramatically that she was not magically cured. Her self defense program was not a ‘heal all’ as they had hoped it would be. They really didn’t have a clue how to help her at this point, and with her running out like that they were at a loss. So after Bob left for work Wanda called Edna and asked her if Amy had come over to see Jennie. Edna knew as soon as she heard her friends voice that something was wrong. “Wanda, what happened?” she asked. “Amy left the house this morning in a very distraught frame of mind, and I needed to find out if she had come over there or called Jennie today” Edna called up the stairs “Jennie, have you heard from Amy today?” “No, mom, late yesterday, but not so far this morning, Why, is something wrong?” Jennie replied as she bounded down the stairs. “I don’t know what’s going on yet, but Wanda is really worried about her.” Her mother told her, then turning back to the receiver she reported what Jennie had just told her. “Do you need me to come over there? Do you want someone to stay with you?” she asked. Wanda’s reply was quick “Oh. That would be wonderful, could you please?” “Certainly, I’ll be there in just a few minutes and then you can tell me everything. We can work this out.” With that Edna hung up and turning to Jennie told her that she was going to Wanda’s house and if she heard from Amy to let them know immediately. Jennie nodded as she tried to think where Amy might have gone. Her first thought would be Brad, but if Wanda was still looking for her she couldn’t be with him, he would have let her know…so where else could she have gone? Jennie didn’t know, but figured that if she and Brad talked about it they could come up with an answer, the two of them knew Amy better than anyone else and they were her friends. So she grabbed her purse and ran out the front door.

Brad hung up the phone after talking to Wanda and looking at Amy said “She asked me to tell you that she loves you and that she is waiting to give you a hug as soon as you get home.” Amy made a little hic uppy sound and did her best not to burst into tears. “How had her mom known the perfect thing to say at a time like this? Was there a Mom school that Amy didn’t know about? If so, her mom must have graduated top of her class.” Were her thoughts at that pronouncement? Then she took a deep breath and said “Now Brad, if you could please make that other call for me?” Brad nodded and picked up that phone receiver again, then set it back down. “Do either of you happen to know the phone number? I don’t want to call the operator since it’s not really an emergency.” Neither of them did, so opening the bottom drawer of the desk he pulled out the phone book and opened it to the front cover, where all the important community numbers were printed. He once again picked up the receiver and this time he dialed a number. After a moment he said “Hello, My name is Brad Hendrixson and I need to speak to the office in charge of the attempted abduction from last night please.” He was silent for a couple of endless minutes, then he said “Yes sir” waited a second then “I am a very good friend of Amy Johnson and she asked me to call to see if you thought that the two men arrested last night might be the same two that attacked her on the beach almost two years ago.” Again he was silent, listening, then he was nodding his head and said “I see, yes I will tell her, thank you for your time Detective Monroe. Good-bye” Slowly he hung up the phone and looking first at Jon and then at Amy he said “Detective Monroe is pretty sure that they are the same men Amy.” She again shrank into herself “He would like to speak with you when you are able to do so.” Amy opened her mouth to say ‘no’ again, and then snapped it shut again. Turning to Jon she asked him what they needed to do to make it possible for her to do what the police wanted her to do. Jon took a minute before he answered her and then his reply surprised her. “Nothing” She stared at him, as did Brad. “What do you mean ‘nothing’?” She asked incredulously “Exactly what I said, we do not have to do anything. You are more than ready to go down to the police station and do what ever they may need you to do right now.” She was shaking her head as he said that “No, Jon, I am not, I cannot even Think about going without breaking into a sweat and wanting to run and hide!” “This may all be true Amy” he replied “BUT you are here now asking me for help and you have decided that you can help the police with this investigation, if they need you to, and you have faced your fears. All of that tells me that you are ready. You are NOT hiding, you are NOT running away, you are NOT falling apart, you ARE gathering up your courage and working towards your goal. There is nothing at all that I can do for you, except hold your hand while you pull that courage up from your toes and then the three of us can go to the station together, because I know that Brad will have your other hand.”

There was a quick knock at the door and then it burst open! “Brad” Jennie said quickly “We need to…..oh,” she looked around and seeing Amy and Jon with Brad she stopped speaking and her face became a really vivid shade of red as she realized that she had just burst into a private conversation. “I am SO sorry! I’ll just um, leave now, um. Sorry” she said as she started backing out of the room, her hand still on the door knob. “No, stay,” said Amy quickly, “I would like for you to stay with me for a few minutes please.” Jennie stopped again, and looking hard at her friend she said “Amy, everyone is very worried about you right now, are you okay?” “No,” Amy said slowly, “I am not okay, but I think that with the help of my very good friends and my excellent family, I will be.”

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Installment number 22 45,784

Amy was sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast with her parents two days later. Her dad was reading the paper, as usual, when he suddenly drew in a sharp breath and started chocking on his coffee. “Oh my GOD!” he exclaimed, when he could talk again, causing both Amy and Wanda to look at him worriedly “What?” they said in unison. “There is a story in here about a young woman who was attacked on the beach last night by two men!” Amy’s face drained of all color and she almost stopped breathing until he went on, “They tried to kidnap her and almost managed to get away with her, but she bit the one who had his hand over her mouth and he moved it long enough for her to get out one LOUD scream and her friends came to her rescue.” Amy let out the breath she wasn’t aware she was holding and asked “Is she okay?” “According to this article they didn’t really have time to do anything to her besides grab her and try to carry her off. It also says that there were six or seven guys in the group she had wandered off from, and when they got there they managed to get hold of both of them and hold them til the police arrived.” He looked up at the two women staring at him, “do you know what I think?” he asked, then not waiting for an answer he went on “I think that those are the same men that attacked you Amy. I think that they just attacked the wrong woman at the wrong place this time and now they are behind bars. The article said no bond as this was a violent crime.” Wanda jumped up and ran to hug her daughter. “Isn’t this just wonderful news Amy? We need to call the police station and find out if they are the same two. We need to find out if there is anything that they want us to do if it is them.” But Amy just sat there without saying anything at all, she didn’t move or blink. It almost looked like she was asleep with her eyes open. “Honey? Are you alright?” Bob asked with concern. Amy didn’t answer for a moment, then she said “What if they want me to testify or something? What if they want me to come down and identify the men? I don’t think I can do that! I don’t think I can…” she broke off and getting jerkily to her feet she started to back out of the room, looking around like those men were there waiting to jump out at her again. “I…I need to go!” and with that she nearly ran out of the kitchen and right out the front door. Wanda and Bob looked at each other in alarm. “Wanda, do you thing you should go after her?” “I don’t know, that might make it worse, but I’m worried Bob, I don’t know what we should do.” She said. They were silent for a minute thinking, and then Wanda suggested that they call Brad and Jennie to give them a heads up about what just happened and ask them to see if they could find Amy. They would have a better chance of helping her right now then her parents would, as much as it pained them to admit that, they knew it was the truth. “Yes, I think that is a good idea, please make sure they know how worried we are and ask them to let us know what is going on.” He replied. “I have to get off to work, call me there when you know something or if you or she need me here, and I’ll come right away.” Wanda nodded and then walked over and gave him a hug, holding on a little longer than usual, trying to gain a little strength from her husband, and giving some too.

When Amy ran out of the house, she had no fixed destination in mind, she was just trying to escape the situation that had just dropped into her lap. Long ago, somewhere in her subconscious, there was the belief that she would never have to deal with those men again. That they were long gone and would never show their despicable faces in this part of the country again. When she thought of them at all, it was as two faceless males doing things to her that over time her mind had censored because it was incapable of handling the details yet. And now she had been forced to think about all of that again. She was walking, almost running, down the sidewalk in the general direction of the dojo. When she realized that she was heading that way, she decided that was really where she wanted to go anyway. Maybe she could get Brad to ‘suit up’ and they could spar a little, that usually helped her regain her composure. “That was a pretty rational thought” she heard in her mind “See? You are not as weak as you might think” that little voice in her head was pretty upbeat for an imaginary being. For a second she thought she might be going insane, but then it hit her that it was normal to be hearing yourself think, but not usually in the third person. She stopped and stood still for a minute, thinking about what she was about to do. If she went to the dojo then Brad would want to know what was going on, and she wasn’t really up to explaining it to him right now. He would want to make it better for her, and that would not help much. She could go see Jennie but she would most likely smother her with concern and try to make her feel better, again, not really much help. So what was she going to do? She didn’t have many good friends and she had just ruled the main two out, who was left? And then she remembered Jon. That was the answer! She changed the direction she was traveling and started heading for – where? She didn’t know where Jon lived or worked. She knew his phone number but she had never had occasion to visit him at either place. Later, when she was in better control of her thoughts, she would feel bad about that lack of knowledge, but right now it was just another hurdle she needed to get by before she could get help. She had left the house without her purse or anything else, like change for the pay phone, so even if she had had his number with her she couldn’t have called him. After standing there for a few minutes she slowly began walking towards the dojo again. She needed to speak to Jon and the only way she knew for sure to contact him was through Brad. If she were very careful in explaining her need then Brad, being the great guy that he was, would understand and not try to force her to do or say any more than she was able to. He would just help her. Wouldn’t he?

When Amy walked into the dojo 15 minutes later, Brad almost cried. The look on her face hurt him so bad. She had reverted to that scared young girl with the hunched shoulders and the dead eyes that had walked into his dojo not so long ago. Her newfound composure and confidence seemed to have deserted her. He didn’t really know what he should or could do to help her, but as he had done in the past, he let his instincts guide him. The truth. That was the cornerstone of their friendship, and that would be the best thing now. “Amy, I’m glad you are here.” He started “your mom called and told me what happened.” He said this in a matter of fact tone, not with sympathy or pity, and he didn’t offer to touch her in any way. She stopped and stared at him, holding herself tightly with her arms wrapped around her stomach as if it were hurting her. “She did?” she asked, almost accusingly. “Yes, she was worried about you and wanted me to know in case we needed to go looking for you.” He explained. “Now, I need to let her know you are here, but first, please tell me WHY you are here.” She was silent for a moment, and then she said “I need to talk to Jon” Those words were both reassuring and painful to Brad. Reassuring because it meant that she wanted help dealing with this sudden reccurrence of her terrifying experience and painful because she wanted to talk to Jon and not to HIM! Brad was adult enough to realize that he would just have to suck it up and do what needed done for Amy. So he invited her into his office to use the phone. When they got there he closed the door and reached for the phone. “Brad, I’m sorry” she said before he could touch it “I didn’t want to come here, but I didn’t know how to reach him. I’m sorry to put you in the middle of this.” He stopped and looked at her in shock. “You are Sorry?” he asked in astonishment “Sorry for coming to me, your friend? Amy I care very deeply for you and our friendship and I am so proud of you right now, you are asking for the help that you need instead of shutting yourself away again. Please never apologize to me for doing the right thing, ok?” He knew that she wouldn’t get that right now, but he had to say it. She shook her head mutely and he just sighed and picked up the receiver and started to dial. When Jon answered, he told him that Amy was here in his office and needed to speak with him right away. Jon asked him if she was ok, and the reply was a solid “no” Then Brad offered the receiver to Amy and she recoiled as if it were a snake. She lifted beseeching eyes to his and said in a whisper “could you please ask him to come here?” he nodded and again spoke into the phone. Jon didn’t hesitate, “Tell her I will be there just as soon as I can get to my car.” He said. Then he added “Brad, stay with her, don’t leave her alone, ok? I don’t know what this is about but I can only guess at how serious it is if she couldn’t even speak to me on the phone.” Brad agreed and they hung up. Amy slowly sank down into the chair and curling her legs up under her lowered her face into her hands and just sat like that until Jon arrived, not crying, not talking – just shutting herself off from the world. Brad sat quietly behind his desk, never taking his eyes off of the sad little figure of the woman he loved.

Anything but a card challenge

Yes, TWO posts in one This is another challenge entry = this time for Make it Crafty's Anything but a Card challenge.

This started life as a boringly grey clam shell box that was rescued from obscurity by my hubs and brought home for me to transform into a masterpiece. Ok, that last part was a stretch, but still. lol

everything on this box is from my stash, nothing purchased for this project. the ink is Tim Holtz Faded Jeans distress. Pretty simple, took less than an hour and I love it, hope you do too.

Compendium of Curiosities Challenge #23 plus 2

Here is this weeks challenge entry for the Compendium of Curiosities at Lindas great blog Studio L3. I like this technique, but it's messy lol

Double Distress

Check out page 40 of Tim Holtz's A Compendium of Curiosities for instructions

this will also be entered into the All Things Tim group as well as Simon Says Stamp and Show your distress.

this is a grungeboard heart with the technique applied, DIs used include fired brick, tea dye, tattered rose and black soot. there are some stickles in there too, but you cannot see them in the pic. the dangles are from my almost endless stash of unused 'finds'.
Thanks for looking.

Studio L3
Tim's book
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Friday, November 26, 2010

Installment number 21 43,931

maybe I should be calling these chapters instead of installments, what say you, my loyal fans? lol

The next day the students returned, very excited and anticipating a fun time. But also nervous about donning the gear and sparring, as none of them had ever done that before. But Brad managed to calm them down and addressed them all before splitting them into the groups again. “Ok everyone, today is the day you get to use your moves on each other. I do not want anyone to throw full strength punches or kicks, our equipment is not THAT good, but I want you to Use the moves you have learned as much as possible. This is not a boxing match, this is a training session. Does everyone understand? Are there any questions?” The students just sat there looking at him, anxious to get started. “Alright then,” he said, clapping his hands together, “let’s split up and get start stretching” Amy, Jennie and Brad walked them through the stretches again, knowing that they would not have remembered everything. Then they had them practice the moves they had learned the night before. After about a half an hour, Brad took his group over and got them ‘suited up’. The other two groups were supposed to keep practicing, but once the first ones started sparring, THAT wasn’t going to happen, so Amy and Jennie gave in to the inevitable and had them sit around the mats and watch. After the girls got the hang of what they were doing, then things went very smoothly. Brad had them on the mats for about 20 minutes before he called a halt. “Alright ladies, let’s get that equipment off so that the next group can get in here”. The first group was laughing and talking up a storm as they removed the gloves and helmets, full of adrenaline and wonder at how great that had felt. This was repeated for the second and third groups. They were all excited, up beat and thrilled with these lessons and made sure to tell their instructors how they felt. After the last sparring session and everyone was sitting down doing the cool down exercises, Jennie took the floor and said “Is everyone happy with what you have learned in the last two days?” There was a general emphatic “Oh Yeah!” from 17 throats, and then everyone had to laugh. “Is there any one thing that stuck out for you? That you feel is the most important part of what you learned?” asked Amy. “Let’s start over here” pointing to one of the girls on the far side of the mat. “I think that the most important thing was that I now know I can defend myself. I might not be a great fighter like Ali, but I can do something to help myself now. I don’t think I could have done that before.” There was a general nod of agreement from the other students. “I think the confidence that I am feeling right now has to be super important.” Said the next woman “I know that I will walk a little straighter and be taken a bit more seriously by others now.” Asserted the next. It continued in this vein thru the rest of the student, with the last one saying “I think that the second most important thing that has happened here in the last two days is that we had a great time. You made learning all of this fun and entertaining. Not boring like phys ed” everyone laughed at that, “and we didn’t have to wear dorky outfits either” chimed in another.
“Do you think that we should continue to teach these classes to other women?” asked Brad. “Oh yeah” “Of Course” “I will send my friends if you do” “I think what you are doing is great, please don’t stop” were some of the comments that he picked out of the instant hubbub his question caused. He had to smile, they were so enthusiastic, he loved it.
Jennie and Amy were standing at the door, getting and giving hugs as the ladies were leaving. All of them left the dojo that day with a new sense of confidence and the sure knowledge that they would never be simply a victim. If they were ever in a situation that warranted it, they would and Could do something to help themselves. And, there would be more classes in the future. Their first class was a huge success and their ‘graduates’ would be their best advertisement for future classes.
After the last woman had left the three of them went into Brad’s office to go over the days class and to compare notes. They spent the next hour or so fine tuning the curriculum – adding and removing some things to make the class flow better the next time. When they were done with that, they called the other’s that had worked so hard to make this happen and the entire group met at the diner for a celebratory dinner.

“Alright, now, this might be a little difficult to start out, but if we take it slowly, we should be able to get somewhere.” Jon said as they sat down in Brads office the next night, this was several days after their first discussion about him becoming her counselor. Brad, Amy and Jon were about to get started with their first ‘session’ and Amy was so scared. Not just nervous, but down right scared. She had not talked about the things that had happened to her with anyone, not in any real detail. But she was determined to do this, so she took a deep breath and just started. “Jon, at our first class the other night I did something unplanned. I told the students that I had been raped. I have never used that term in relation to what happened to me before. As if the word made the deed real. But I wanted to impress upon them the gravity of learning to defend themselves and I knew that would do it.” Jon nodded for her to go on. “After I told them it was as if a huge weight had been lifted off my chest. I didn’t know that just by saying that to someone, saying it out loud, it could make it a little bit better. Now I’m glad I did. I don’t know exactly where to start with this though. What do I do now?”
Jon paused before he answered her, assessing, determining the best way for her to proceed. “I think that what we want to do first is for you to tell us about that day. What were you doing that morning, how did your day go, how did you meet up with the young man you were with. Those sorts of things.”
“Ok. Let’s start with the group of us going to the movies. Do you want details or just an outline?” she questioned him. “How about an outline to start and we can fill it out later?” he replied. “My day started with a friend calling and asking if I wanted to go to the movies with the gang. The group wasn’t like all best friends or anything, but we had gone out together before so we knew that we could have a good time together…”
Jon listened gravely as she related the events of that day and was very impressed with how hard Amy was trying to make this work.
“…and we all ended up at the beach playing volleyball for a while, then we swam for a bit because it was pretty hot and we were all sweaty. Bret and I wanted to get to know each other a little bit better so we started walking down the beach and talking. I guess we really were not paying enough attention to our surroundings because we never knew they were there until….” Amy faltered at this point. “It’s ok Amy” Jon said quietly “Just tell me what you can tonight, don’t push yourself too hard.” Brad had reached over and picked up her ice cold hand and was holding it in his as a show of support. Amy looked at him with a wan little smile that wrung his heart and said “I’m not sure how much of this you are going to want to hear Brad.” And he squeezed her hand before he answered her “I want to hear everything you need me to hear Amy, not a word more or a word less.” She didn’t know what to say to that, so she just remained silent.
This was turning out to be much harder for her to do then she had anticipated. She had known it would be hard, but now that she was trying to talk about the actual event she felt like she was trying to run in a nightmare, as if she had cement boots on and was attempting to run thru knee deep mud. But she had to admit, if only to herself, that now that she had started she knew she would be able to finish. She was also quite proud of Brad. He was being supportive with out being suffocating or cavalier, he was managing to strike a great balance, and she really appreciated that.
“Amy, do you want to continue this tonight? We have been at it for about 45 minutes and that’s about as long as a normal session would last.” Jon asked her. “We Have?” Amy exclaimed “It sure didn’t feel like only 45 minutes – it felt more like 45 hours!” The men smiled at her attempt to lighten the atmosphere, and Jon answered “I know this is super difficult Amy, and I know that it is exhausting to dredge up these things. I think that we should call this session an overwhelming success and make a date for the next one.”
Amy thought about his words, and decided that he was right, they needed to stop now, on a positive note, and come back to it after she was more rested. She nodded her head “Yes, Jon, I think we need to call this session a success and start fresh in a few days.” Brad agreed and they set up a meeting for three days later, same time, same place. They ended the meeting with hugs all around and Amy said “Jon, Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your willingness to help us this way. I know that while it is hard for me, it is just as difficult for you, and I appreciate your help.” “You are very welcome Amy” Jon said simply and giving her another quick hug turned and left the office.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Installment number 20 42,158

Friday night seemed to rush up to them while they were not looking. They had so much to do and felt like they would never remember everything they had to do. The students were due to arrive soon and they were taking care of all the last minute stuff. Making sure that the equipment was all set out and in good shape, not like they hadn’t looked it over a couple hundred times. As the hour drew near, Amy stopped and looked at her friends as they bustled about making their final preparations. “Hey guys?” she said, “can you come over here for just a second?” Amy and Brad came over and asked what she needed. “I need a hug” she said “I think that we should take a minute to calm down, to gather our thoughts and get our heads in the right place so that we can be ready to teach these young women tonight.” Jennie and Brad immediately threw their arms around her, and each other, and the three of them stood there for a couple of minutes, just drinking in the feeling of calm that was slipping over them. Then they broke apart with a laugh and went back to their preparations, with a little less apprehension and a little more anticipation.

The three of them had, in their earlier discussions, agreed that Brad would be the lead instructor, as he had been teaching this sort of thing for quite a while already. Amy and Jennie would be instructors too, but Brad would do the initial groundwork for them to build on once they split the group into three. They had also made up a check list of all the points that were super important. The ones that absolutely had to be made in these classes, so that they didn’t miss one. They had three copies of this list and they each had one on a clip board in their hands. This gave them something to refer to as well as something to do with their hands during that initial hectic meeting of students.

Then the students started to trickle in. One did not usually think of 17 people as a crowd, but that is what it felt like once they had all arrived. With the three instructors, there were now 20 people in the dojo, the fullest it had ever been. Once they had gotten the women all seated on the mats and ready to pay attention and learn, they started their first ever class. “Good evening ladies” began Brad quietly “My name is Brad Hendrixson and I will be one of your instructors for this class.” Then, gesturing to the two at his side he said “and this is Amy and Jennie. They are also instructors, and we are all so very glad to see you here tonight.” Amy and Jennie had nodded as he said their names, and stood by to listen as he gave the basic premise of the class – that they were there to learn some self defense moves that they had developed to make better use of how a woman’s body was built. After he was done, Amy stepped forward and started to speak. She couldn’t seem to get the words out at first, but cleared her throat and tried again. “As Brad said, I am Amy. I wanted to speak with you for just a moment before we get into the meat of this course. Please bare with me – this is going to be the first time I have spoken of this to anyone outside of my family – so it may take me a little bit to get it out.” The students sat in attentive postures, waiting for her to continue, so she did “When I was sixteen years old, I was walking down the beach with a friend from school, a young man, at dusk. We had become separated from the rest of our group, who were back a ways playing volleyball and swimming.” She paused and swallowed hard. “excuse me” ahem, she cleared her throat again “after we had walked a ways, two men jumped out of the bushes and kidnapped me, after striking my friend on the head and knocking him out.” She took a in deep breath, slowly letting it out again “These men carried me off down the beach to a secluded area and they….” Glancing at her friends Amy paused again. “They raped me.” She finally said. “They were mean, evil men and they hurt me that day. The injuries were minor compared to what they did to my soul. We started this self defense class in order to make sure that nothing like that EVER happens to one of you!” she said emphatically. “We want you to be safe, we want you to know how to take care of yourself, we want you to have a happy, wonderful life without the specter of an attack in your mind every waking moment.” She stopped then and looked helplessly at her friends, it seemed that she had run out of steam and Jennie stepped up and took over “This course will not make you completely safe, nothing will. But we hope that what it will do is give you the knowledge you need to help you stay out of situations that could be dangerous, and if that is not the case, then the moves to be able to get away.” After that the three friends sort of ‘tag teamed’ the students, first one would talk and then one of the others would pick up where he or she left off and carry it for a few minutes and then they would trade off again. It seemed to be the right approach, as the students were completely engrossed in what they were saying.

“This class is not intended as a method of making you invincible” the lesson started out “but as a means of keeping you safe or offering you alternatives in the event of an attack or confrontation.” That was most likely going to become the motto of their program Amy thought as they moved into the meat of the lesson. “What we are going to teach you tonight will be basics, you will not be a professional boxer or anything, but you will be able to make an impression on anyone dumb enough to think they can make off with you.” “Some of what we want you to learn is prevention. Where not to go, how to walk, how to look around, that sort of thing. Someone looking for a victim will usually not pick the person who is aware of what is going on around them, they are too hard to surprise.” The lecture part of the class took a little over thirty minutes after which the students were given a chance to ask questions. They were gratified to hear some very intuitive questions, questions that proved they were listening. That was a very good sign. At that point they took a short break. “Get up, stretch your legs, go to the ladies room if you need to and then we will start with the stretching exercises.” Jennie told them.

After that short break the girls reassembled on the mats and Brad divided them into three groups. They left some room between each group so that they could stretch out and started the next step. Most people have no idea how to effectively stretch prior to a work-out” Brad told his group and heard similar statements coming from both sides. “What we want to accomplish with these exercises is to warm up your muscles without straining them. If we do this correctly then there will be no injury to the muscle during the sparring.” He then led them thru a series of stretches and exercises geared to just that purpose. Amy and Jennie were doing the same thing on either side of his students.

As soon as Brad was satisfied that they were properly warmed up it was time to move on to the next step. “Please stay in your groups, but pay attention to me for a minute.” Brad said to them all. “We are now going to start learning the moves.

It was an exciting hour in the dojo. The students were having a great time, to them learning these things seemed to be great fun, and they laughed and poked fun at themselves and each other and gradually seemed to simply fall into form and the moves came more naturally. It was at that point that Brad took his group over to where the equipment was laid out and started explaining what was what and why it worked the way it did. After that he helped them put the equipment on correctly. Then it was time for the other groups to run thru the same drill. Brad had his group remove the equipment and lay it back out, then took them back to the mat for a few more run practice runs of the moves. After everyone had become familiar with the moves and the equipment the three instructors got them all back together for the last lesson of the day. “Now that you have spent some time here, learning these moves and safety measures, how do you feel about the class?” asked Jennie. All the girls started talking at once, and the general consensus was that this was fabulous. They felt great about what they had learned and were really looking forward to the next day when they could learn even more. “I am so glad that you feel this way” She said “I am really looking forward to tomorrow as well. I just have one more reminder for you before class will be dismissed. Please remember that you are not supposed to discuss any of these moves with any men. Not your dads, not your boyfriends, not your brothers. One of the things that this does is it keeps the moves and your abilities secret, that way if anyone ever does bother you, you will have an element of surprise and that may buy you time to escape the situation. Thank you all for coming tonight and we will see you tomorrow.”

After the students had left the three of them threw themselves down on the mats and just lay there recovering slightly from the tension of the last few hours. Then they all sat up and started to evaluate how it had gone. They were pretty satisfied, over all, with how it had turned out. Tomorrow would be a little easier on them, but a little harder on the students. “All in all, it was a good nights work.” Said Brad and Amy and Jennie had to agree. They walked out into the night air together with a feeling of accomplishment.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Installment 19 40,353

“and so, in conclusion, I would like for all of you to consider taking this free course. It may save your life one day, for which I’m sure, your parents would be grateful” Edna said, concluding her presentation to the youth group girls. There were twenty three young women in the room with Edna, Wanda and Rev. Spears, that were listening with interest to what Edna had been saying. “Does anyone have any questions?” asked Wanda.
“How long is the class?” asked one. “Two evenings, about three hours each.” Replied Edna.
“Do we need to buy special clothing for this? Like we do at school for Phys. Ed.?” Asked another.
“No, not at all. Jeans, t-shirt and sneakers will do the trick.” Said Wanda “but I would not wear really tight jeans or shirts, you will be moving around a lot and they might restrict your movements somewhat.”
“Are there going to be any guys there?” came the next question. “No, except for Brad, one of the instructors. As we mentioned earlier, we are going to try our best to keep these moves a secret from men. This will weigh the odds in your favor a little more if you are ever in a confrontation, since he will not know what you are capable of when he starts.” Answered Wanda. “But he will when you finish with him.” Quipped Edna. The girls giggled at that remark.
“Do we have to get out parents’ permission to do this?” was asked by a girl in the back of the room leaning almost disinterestedly against the back wall. “Yes, since there is a possibility of injury, a very small possibility to be sure, but there is a chance, we would want their consent for you to participate.” Said Edna.

The question and answer period went on for about another half an hour before it seemed that they were all up to speed. Of those twenty three young women, seventeen of them seemed genuinely interested in taking the course. The rest pretty much dismissed it as not something they wanted to do. Edna and Wanda had a sign up sheet located at the front of the room for all interested parties to place their names and phone numbers on, and they also had some basic permission forms available for the ladies to take home to their parents. As they were picking up the forms and signing up Edna reminded them that this was a ‘Women’s Only’ activity, “So please do not share anything that we have discussed here tonight with any males that you know. Of course you may speak of this with your fathers but do not give them any specifics.” “Thank you all for coming and for listening so patiently. We hope to see you there on the first day of class. Good night, be safe.” Edna said to the girls as they were leaving.

As soon as the door closed behind the last one, Edna and Wanda laughed out loud. “It looks like you ladies might have had a bit of a success today.” Commented Rev. Spears. “Oh yeah!” said Edna “I cannot believe they were so receptive.” “All I can say is that I am glad THAT is over.” Said Wanda with a great big exaggerated sigh. “I am not big on public speaking ya know.” This caused them to laugh again because she sounded so woebegone.

“Let me get this straight” Brad said “You managed to sign up seventeen girls on the very first night?” “Yep” beamed Wanda “there were only six who were not interested at all.” Turning to Amy and Jennie, Brad asked “Do you think we can handle a group that large?” “Of course we can!” Exclaimed Jennie and Amy said “My only concern is lack of equipment.” Brad said “With a group that large we are going to have a bit of difficulty giving them each individual attention.” “Maybe after the general instructions we can break the group up so that we each have a few to work with, and rotate so that they get to learn from all three of us in the end.” Suggested Amy. “We need to set a date for the first class and then figure out what to do to keep them safe. We have, what, 6 sets of sparring equipment?” asked Jennie “If we split them up into three groups, then all the students in one group will have equipment and the other two groups can watch. Or continue practicing until it’s their turn.” “That sounds good. Three groups – five in one and six in the other two. Sparring with one group at a time, and the rest practice. The first night is going to be mostly talking and learning to stretch and basic moves. The second night should be a recap of the moves and then practice for a while, then a chance to spar. How long do you think the practice and sparring sessions should be?” said Brad. “I’m not sure, maybe about thirty minutes for sparring? And the rest of the time would be practice? I think the first part should be about an hour…to learn the moves and get comfortable with them.” Replied Jennie. Amy and Brad agreed with this time table, so they moved on to the next item on the list Brad was holding. This planning session was supposed to last about an hour, but it ended up taking them closer to two hours before they nailed down all the details. They had to decide what time to start the classes, what order to teach the moves, what moves they were teaching, how many moves would be optimal, and on and on it went. More details then any of them had imagined. But part of this was pure nerves. They were all on edge about teaching this new program to the women and making sure that it was done right. In the end they decided that, if possible, they would have the first class on a Friday night and finish it the next day in the afternoon. That way they were not interfering with school or homework. Might put a little crimp in the weekend dating ritual, but some things couldn’t be helped.

Amy and Jennie split the list of names and each called half to give them the times of the classes. And to remind them to bring in the signed permission slips. The girls all sounded pretty enthusiastic about the classes and said they would be there. After she hung up the phone with the last caller, Amy sighed a bit sadly. “What’s wrong Amy?” asked Jennie, a little worried about her friend with all this pressure being put on her. “I am a little sad about the need to teach this class. I want to go back in time and fix it so that we never, ever even thought about self defense, in reference to ourselves. I want to be innocent again.” A tear made it’s way slowly down her cheed, which she angrily brushed away. “I know that is not possible, and that what we are doing is wonderful, but it is sad too,” “Yes, it is” agreed Jennie. Then she smiled, a bright excited smile and looking at Amy she said “We are going to Change the way women think about taking care of themselves! We are going to CHANGE the WORLD Amy! The three of us, or the eight of us actually, counting the parents and Jon, are going to change the world, starting this Friday!” “How did we ever come to this place Jennie? How did we manage to find something so important that we CAN change the world? We are just ordinary people in an ordinary town, what is it that made us so special?” she asked her friend with a troubled look on her face. Jennie finally realized what was bothering her friend. Amy was afraid, she was afraid that they would not be able to do this, not be able to pass along the things that they had learned this summer. She was afraid that they would fail, that SHE would fail, and in failing, someone else would get hurt. Jennie walked over and putting her arm around her friend she said “There is absolutely NOTHING ordinary about you my friend, or about ANY of us. We are going to make this happen and it is going to be a good thing! Trust me!” and giving her a quick hug she started picking up the lists and other items they would need that Friday night, and got ready to go home. Amy was smiling as her friend left the dojo.

The next day Brad called Jon and asked him to stop by the dojo that evening, something in his voice must have alerted his friend because he asked him what was up. “We just need to talk to you is all.” He replied. Without asking any more questions Jon told him he would be there and asked what time. Brad told him the time and then hung up and sat staring into nothingness as he thought. Then he got up decisively and walked out to his car. He needed to go see Amy and let her know what was going on tonight so that she would be ready.

The three of them, Amy, Brad and Jon, were sitting in Brads office that evening, with Jon being the only one not vibrating with nerves. He was his usual calm self, just waiting for the couple to get to the point of his visit. Now that the time had come to actually ask someone for the help she now knew she needed, she was too scared to say anything. She looked beseechingly at Brad, hoping that he could read her mind and start this thing off. After a couple of minutes waiting, just to make sure he was not stepping in where he shouldn’t be, he did just that. “Jon, Amy and I have asked you here to help us out with a bit of a problem we have.” He started “We need someone to sort of referee our emotions.” Jon looked a little bewildered by that and so Brad continued to explain. “To be blunt about it, Amy is ready to start healing, to start her new life and the only way we can see for that to happen is if she manages to talk to someone about what happened to her. I know in my heart that if I am alone with her when she does, I will manage to hurt her with my inability to handle what she is revealing to me. Not because of her, but because of the anger I know is lurking just beneath the surface, at those, those dogs that attacked her.” He was showing his agitation even as he was explaining. Amy quietly joined in “We were hoping that you could sort of act as my counselor, I need someone I can trust for this, someone who will be honest with me but not condemn me for something that wasn’t my fault.” She took a deep breath and said “Jon could you please help us?” Jon sat there looking at his old friend and his new friend, thinking long and hard about their request. As he started speaking he was shaking his head, almost in denial, but not quite.
“Amy, I think that was probably one of the hardest things you have ever or Will ever do in your life. I appreciate the courage it took for you to ask for help.” He paused to look at both of them very seriously before he said “I will be honored to help you. When would you like to start?”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Installment number 18 38,392

getting a tad introspective here, sorry bout that chief lol

Brad and Amy had started spending time together outside the dojo. Just walking and talking sometimes sitting on a park bench, sometimes on the swings, sometimes in the grass. They talked about the weather and the dojo and their project and learned about each other. Some times they didn’t talk at all, they were just together. Amy was getting more relaxed with him every day and he was super excited to see the light shining in her eyes. When she had first come into his dojo those eyes had been as close to dead as he had ever seen. She had been wounded so badly by the trauma that it was a wonder that she had survived. Mentally or physically. She was a fighter, a survivor, and she was proving it to him now. Only someone with a very tough inner fiber could go thru what she had gone thru and even remotely contemplate any kind of relationship let alone a close one with a man. He did not know exactly what she had gone thru, she never talked about that, but if his worst imaginings were even close she was one of the strongest people he had ever met. And yet, he discovered, she never saw her self that way. When she looked into the mirror she saw a young, painfully thin woman who was broken inside with no hope of ever being fixed. He didn’t like that at all. He wanted her to see what he saw, a young, slender, vibrant woman with a heart as big as all outdoors and a will to match. A woman on a mission now, a mission to ensure that no other woman ever had to endure what she had endured. She knew that was an unrealistic goal, but she was going to try. What he saw and what she saw were so different and yet they were looking at the same person. Brad was hoping that with a little time and a lot of work and patience he could help her to see herself thru his eyes. And as he was moving in that direction he had to admit, if only to himself, that he had fallen in love with her. He also knew that he could not tell her. That she was not ready for that kind of pressure. If he rushed her he was apt to undo all the work she had put into healing her hurts and that was the last thing that he wanted to do. So he walked with her and talked and sat silent and listened and fell deeper and deeper under her spell. She was a witch and he was her willing victim.

In the days that followed Amys first trip to Brads dojo, she had been so scared. She knew that she was not up to this kind of commitment. ANY commitment was too much for her, she didn’t have the strength to handle this. But there was something about Brad that made her want to keep trying. She did not want to disappoint him, and she didn’t know why. At first. Little by little she realized that this man deserved her respect. He had an integrity about him. He was an honorable man, he showed this day after day in the way he treated her and his students. He never placed himself above anyone else, he was just as willing to get down and dirty as he was asking anyone else to do. He was a natural teacher, with a patience that was hard to come by. He had a serious way about him, but when he smiled he lit up the room. She really liked him and had begun to trust him, just about the time he had told her he was falling for her. At which point she had completely freaked out. She was not proud of how she had reacted to his declaration, but she was glad that he had made it. By doing so he had let her know where they stood. When she had spoken with him the next day she had tried to be as honest as possible, to let him know that she was unsure of her future, of their future, but that she was willing to be a bit uncomfortable in order to keep him as a friend. Now she thought that she could indeed see herself with a boyfriend, maybe even a husband, someday, maybe. But right now all she was ready for was a friend, and the fact that this friend was a male was a huge step in the right direction.

Little by little they learned more about each other and shared more with the other then they had ever done before. Event their best friends didn’t know all of the details they shared with each other. It was a good time for them both. They grew in their friendship and they grew in themselves.

After a few weeks of this easy companionship, they were sitting at the park, leaning against a tree and Amy asked Brad if he would be willing to listen to her talk about what happened that night. He was stunned into silence. He just looked at her, he didn’t know what to say. Could he listen to her? Could he listen to the details of what those men had done with out causing even more damage? He would be angry, he knew that, he would want to find them and kill them, he knew that too. What he didn’t know is whether he could keep those feelings from spilling over onto her. The last thing she needed at this point was for him to project these feelings and force her back into her shell because she would think that they were directed at her and not her attackers. She may know it mentally, but inside, she would be hurt by all of it, no matter how hard he tried not to let that happen. But could he tell her no? That could do as much harm as listening might. He didn’t know what to do, so he did what his instincts told him to do, be honest with her. “Amy, I am so honored by this request. I am so unbelievably flattered that you trust me enough to feel safe in sharing some of the most difficult memories in anyone’s life.” He started out, she interrupted “Oh Brad, I’m sorry, I can not believe that I asked you “ “Amy, hush! It’s my turn to talk! You have not done anything wrong, please let me finish before you jump to any conclusions okay?” meekly she nodded, but she had withdrawn into herself and was pulling away even as she agreed. He reached out and took her hands in his, having to unwrap them from around her waist to do so, and continued “I know that you are sensing the giant BUT that is coming, and I know that I have to say it, so here goes…I am honored, but, I do not know if I am strong enough to live those moments with you. I do not know if I have what it takes to be able to listen to you talk about the horrors you that lived through. I am not as strong as you are and I don’t know if I will do something to hurt you either by my reactions or my distress at your pain. You are so strong and you are making such giant strides forward in your life, please don’t ask me to put my big foot right into the middle of your recovery and trip you up.” He was almost pleading with her to understand what he was meaning, knowing that he was not saying it well enough to convey his thoughts clearly. “Amy, I care for you, very much. I think you know that. I will do what ever you want me to do, whatever you need me to do, to help you heal. But I have to be honest with you as well. I do not think that this is a good idea. I think that you do need to tell your story. I think that you cannot finish healing with it bottled up inside you like this, but I am not the person for you to tell it to.” The more he talked the more relaxed Amy became. He was so happy to see this, as it meant that she was getting it, she wasn’t mad at him and she wasn’t going to run away from what they had. He was so proud of her he could have burst. “Brad, I think I understand what you are trying to tell me. Thank you for trying so hard. I know that you are not going to hurt me, but I know that I don’t want to hurt you either, so, no, I will not ask you to listen, at least not just you. I think that you might be right. I think I do need to talk about that night, to get it all out into the open so that it doesn’t fester inside me any more. I think YOU need to know what happened that night too, so that you can better understand some of my fears and anxieties. I cannot explain them to you but if you know some of the details then you can understand better.” She stopped for a breath and looked him in the eye. “So” she said “So” he replied and they smiled faintly. She squeezed his hands, a little surprised that she was still holding them and said “Now what do we do? We both agree that this is a good idea and a bad idea.” He thought about that for a little while and then asked her. “Do you think it would be easier for you to talk about this with someone you know or with someone you don’t know?” “I am not sure, but I think that I would rather know the person, so that they know that I am telling the truth right from the start and I don’t have to go into details about my real life or anything.” “Ok, then I might have a solution. Maybe we could talk to Jon? And maybe he will either be willing to listen or at least know someone he can recommend. He is, after all, a pretty good shrink in his own right” and they both laughed a tad uncomfortably. She nodded slowly. “Yes, I think that might just work, I like Jon and I think that he could help us.” He was pleased with her response and he started to relax again. “Right after the attack, while I was still in the hospital, they brought in a psychiatrist to help me. He had a way about him that made me feel like it was my fault. I did not connect with him and would not even talk to him after that first time. I think that might have been a mistake, now all of those feelings have had time to become an intrigal part of my life, and it may be a little bit more difficult to deal with them now.” She mused “Ok, I think we need to set a time to spend with Jon and see what he thinks of all of this. It can’t be too far in the future though or I will chicken out and hid again.” “I still don’t know if I will be able to handle this “ Brad said “but if you are willing to put yourself thru this in order to heal, then I will do whatever I can to help, and I’m sure I will learn a lot about myself in the process” then Brad stood up and pulled her to her feet, He carefully wrapped her in a comforting hug and just stood there holding her for a few minutes. He said “Amy, you impress me more and more every time we talk.” She blushed and pushed away from him and told him to stop lying to her, pretending to punch him as she danced out of his reach. He went along with her and acted like he was going to chase her down, but ended up just grabbing her hand and walking by her side.

“Life” he thought “just got a little more complicated”

Monday, November 22, 2010

Installment number 17 36,323

The following day Edna and Wanda presented themselves at the dojo, dressed in loose clothing, since neither owned a gi. They were very nervous and who could blame them, this was totally foreign to them both, neither had ever taken any kind of fighting or self defense classes in their lives. But they had both agreed that this would be the perfect test for FEDUP. The first thing that Brad did was explain the equipment to them. He wanted them to be familiar with the terms they were going to be using and the reasons behind each of the moves he was going to teach them. This took longer than any of them had anticipated, so they only had time to run thru some basic stretching exercises after all of that. They agreed to come back the following night. All in all Brad felt that the lesson had gone pretty well. They would have to rethink their plans of having a one night class tho. There was just too much material to go over in a couple of hours.
When the two women returned the following night they were no where near as scared as they had been the day before. There was a familiarity to the dojo now, it wasn’t just a huge unknown. They could concentrate easier on what Brad was teaching them. And that was a good thing, since there was so much to go over. “Tonight I want to show you some very basic moves. These are the moves that you will want to know the most. The ones that are the most versatile and are really pretty easy.” Brad told them and then proceeded to start the lesson with a stance. “This is where you are the strongest” he told them “You have the advantage over anyone coming at you in that you will have a very solid base from which to work and they will have a much harder time knocking you off balance.” Then he showed them some simple punches. Nothing fancy, just something that would stun or disconcert an attacker so that they could get away. He then taught them some blocks. “I know that these seem very overwhelming right now, but believe me, with just a little bit of practice you will be amazed at how you will feel” he told them. “I sure hope so” said Edna in an aside to Wanda “I feel pretty silly standing here like George Foreman fighting Muhammad Ali” Brad had to laugh at that remark “you do not LOOK silly, you Look dangerous, which is exactly how we WANT you to look” he told her. “Now, lets see you use those moves on the girls here in a sparring match.” Wanda and Edna looked at each other apprehensively. “What do you mean?” asked Wanda. “You never said anything about us having to fight anyone” “No, I didn’t did I?” he chuckled “but you ladies were the ones who suggested that having to use the moves in training might be a good idea, so we thought that we would test That notion too.” He then led them to the back of the dojo where he had some equipment laying out waiting for them. Jennie and Amy were already there, they had been lounging around watching their moms get educated, and they were really enjoying it too. “Mom” said Jennie “You are amazing” “Yeah, mom, you are doing SO good” piped in Amy. Their mom’s looked at them like they were crazy but decided not to argue right now, they had other things on their minds at the moment. “Ok ladies, here are the gloves and the helmets” Brad said handing them the equipment. Sparring gloves and helmets were standard in most dojos to protect the students while they were perfecting their moves. They were not super padded or any great shakes, but they were much better then nothing at all. They were made out of leather and the helmet fitted over the head to include the ears, but did not cover the face at all. The gloves were simple thin leather that was meant to fit snuggly to protect the hands. Again, to protect the aggressor not their sparring partner. Brad, Amy and Jennie had wanted to make this trial a little bit safer, so they had rigged a sort of mask to the front of the helmet, they had taken the faceplate from a football helmet and attached it to the leather of the helmet. It looked totally weird, but it should do the job. There wasn’t really all that much they could do to the gloves except put cotton or something in the fingers and that would make them too awkward, so they opted to go with just the helmet modifications.

“Now, ladies, what I want you to do is run thru the moves slowly, using the girls as your attackers. I don’t want you to do anything fast or hard, just move slowly and smoothly to get the feel of the moves with an opponent present, ok?” They both nodded. “Alright the, assume the stance” he instructed. Wanda and Edna positioned their feet as they had been taught, turned slightly so that their sides were to their daughters and raised their hands into the protective, yet ready position, as instructed. “Very well done” complimented Brad, “now, Amy, Jennie I want you to come a little closer and give them the targets for their moves. Remember, slow and smooth, I do not want to see anyone getting hurt here.”
At first it was a comedy of errors. Neither of the ladies could remember where to hit or which direction a parry was and the stance felt pretty unnatural and forced. But as the evening wore on they started to get the hang of it and started to move better and with more confidence. Finally after about a half an hour Brad called a halt to the action and asked “So how do you feel? Any better?” Breathing heavily, all four women nodded yes, as they were removing their gear. Edna stated firmly that she believe that this training should be required for all females over the age of 2! They all laughed at that, but they also knew that in a way she was right. The earlier the child learned to defend herself, the more time she had to get it right and stay safe. “Now the next question I have is, are two nights going to be enough? Did you feel good after the first night? Good enough to come back the second night for the practical training? And do you think that you have had enough training at this point? Or do you believe that we need to add more nights?” Brad asked all these questions one right after the other. Amy snorted “the ‘next’ question? That sounds like an inquisition to me” she teased, but then she got serious and looked at her mom, “What do you think? Was this enough?” Wanda looked at her daughter thoughtfully. “No, I don’t think that this is enough. I think that this is a beginning, but not an end.” She turned to Edna and asked “do you agree?” Edna nodded, and Wanda went on “I think that we need to make the classes available to new students, but also allow girls who have taken the course to come in as often as they would like to practice, that way they can become more comfortable with the moves as well as, most likely, bring more girls in with them. What do you guys think?” The assent was unanimous. “so it will be written, so it will be done” intoned Brad, right before Amy took a swipe at his head for his irreverence.
“I feel confident in talking to people now about learning this new method of yours” Wanda said “Ours” said Jennie “We are all working on this and it is going to all of us who make it come out great” “Ok, OUR program. But the point is that I feel comfortable enough with what is being taught to go out and talk to people and try to get them to come in here and take this course.” She paused for a moment and then said “Brad, how much should we charge people for this? I have no idea about the pricing for self defense courses.” Brad stood looking at her for a moment, then he said, I don’t think I could charge for this. I could accept donations for our time, but I think that this is too important to allow money to come between a girl learning to protect herself and sure disaster if they cannot afford to pay me.” All four women crowded around him hugging him and telling him just how wonderful they thought he was. He was most certainly enjoying all this attention. “Wow, if I had known that not getting paid could get me four beautiful women, I would have gone broke Years ago” he quipped and the ladies went from hugs to punches and playfully pummeled him down to the mat. Laughing they all sat down and looked at each and then, spontaneously sent up a crow of delight at what they had accomplished so far. “We are going to make an appointment to go see the Reverend tomorrow” said Edna “I’m sure that we can get his support.” “So am I” agreed Wanda “he is a good man and cares about his congregation, he would want them to be safe.”

“Sometimes things just don’t work out the way we want them to” Edna said “And when that happens we really need to have a plan, a contingency plan, if you will.” She took a deep breath and continued. “I know that most of us will hope and pray that nothing ever happens to us or our friends or family, but as Wanda can tell you, it happens anyway.” Wanda looked sadly at her and nodded her head gravely. “We believe that there are ways to minimize the trauma of incidents like that one, if there is some preparation done ahead of time. I really don’t know what the statistics are for women being attacked, but I do know that if even ONE is harmed that is one too many. We are hoping that we can help prepare young women to better take care of themselves in the event of an unforeseen event.” Reverend Spears waited patiently for the women to speak. Patience was something he had learned in his years in the clergy. People would eventually tell you just about anything if were patient enough to wait. In this case he was pretty interested in what they were telling him today. He knew Amy, and he had seen what that attack had done to her, and to her family, and he was astonished at what she had accomplished in the last six months or so. In that time she had lifted herself up from the muck of depression and self loathing and was making an excellent effort to help prevent that type of disaster from happening to anyone else. He was well aware that she was not making this recovery totally on her own, that she had a few really good friends as well as her parents backing her up, but she had to make these changes, nothing anyone else did was going to heal her, but it seemed that she was going to do that for herself. He had not yet met Brad, but he had heard about him from a number of people in his congregation, he had made some discrete inquiries in an effort to keep an eye on this one wayward sheep, and all the folks who knew him had nothing but good things to say about him. Rev. Spears found that encouraging. He almost shook his head to dispel all those thoughts, he needed to pay attention here. Wanda took up the pitch then “Amy and Jennie and Brad thought up this wonderful self defense program for women, and we need some women to take the course.” She said, then she laughed “that didn’t come out right, did it?” “Yes, as a matter of fact it did” he replied “It was short, sweet and to the point. All things I like in a sales pitch” he laughed then “Ladies, I think that what you are trying to do is admirable. I don’t know if you can get any of the young women in the congregation to come to the, what did you call it? Dojo? Ok, to come to the dojo for this course, but I give you my consent to try to recruit as many as you can” Edna beamed and Wanda stood up and hugged him. “Thank you so much Brother Spears, I’m sure you know how much this means to Amy and the others.” He nodded. He did believe he knew, it meant the world to Amy, if this failed he wasn’t sure she would recover a second time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Installment number 16 34,141

Over the next couple of days Jennie and Amy paid much closer attention to when and where they would see their ‘shadows’. And they also started acting just a tad more nervous about them being there. They glanced over their shoulders much more often, walked a little faster, never stopped to talk or to window shop but went straight to their intended destination. They were visibly more worried about the shadows. It was noted where these guys stood while watching the girls and other details.

They played it as far as they could and the guys following them were getting bolder. Which was exactly what the girls were working towards. They wanted the shadows to get careless, to pay more attention to their quarry and less attention to Their surroundings. After three days of this, the good guys stepped in, secretly, two of them stationed themselves at an advantageous position by Amy’s house and the other two did the same thing at Jennie’s. The mom’s were in the houses surreptitiously watching out the window and poised to call the police.

Amy was walking home, looking frequently over her shoulder. She didn’t have to pretend to be nervous, she really was. This could go horribly wrong, someone could get hurt. What if the guys couldn’t catch him? He would still be out there in a position to continue following her or maybe even worse. The thought that this could be one of the men who had attacked her had crossed her mind at one point, but she dismissed it as nonsense. If those men had wanted to do anything else to her they would have shown up a lot sooner. She didn’t realize that this sort of rationalization was a way of protecting her psyche from harm, if she had looked at it logically then she would have realized that her argument contained a flaw. The men could have just found her. It could have taken this long to track her down. But she didn’t and so she went on blithely with their great plan.

They way they had mapped this out, the two girls would be getting to their respective houses at approximately the same time. It didn’t make sense to any of them that the two stalkers were working alone, they had to be a team, so they wanted to be on the same schedule at both places. And as it turned out, they timed it almost perfect.

As Amy was walking into her yard, Brad and Rich bopped out of their hiding places and caught the arms of the stalker. He struggled, trying desperately to free himself, but the two men were more than a match for him.

At Jennie’s house it was the same story. Jennie walked up on her porch and heard the commotion beside the house that signaled the capture of her stalker. He also tried his best to fight his way free, but they pinned his arms and held fast, as they guided him, none to gently, into the house.

At Amy’s house the men wrestled the stalker up to the porch where Wanda had just turned the light on and for the first time Brad got a good look at the young man he was holding. And he almost let go from the shock. “CARL?” He exclaimed “What? How? I mean, what is this all about young man?” Carl just looked at Brad with a mulish expression. He didn’t say a word while they frog marched him into the house.

Meanwhile, back at Jennie’s Bob and Jon were trying to get their young man to talk. He seemed to have no inclination to explain and they were getting a little frustrated with him.

Edna was a bit confused by his refusal to speak to them. He should have been either telling them to go jump in a lake or trying to explain away his actions as something totally innocent. This stubborn silence was condemning all on it’s own.

Wanda got on the phone to Edna and asked what was happening over there. When she was told about their capture and subsequent silence, she told her about Brad knowing this person and that they needed to get the boys together in the same room and see if that would get them to explain this irrational behavior. Edna told her that they would be coming right over and to have the door open so that the neighbors didn’t wonder what was going on over there. Then the three adults hustled the young man out to the car and drove over to the Johnson’s house.

Rich had basically told Brad to stay out of the way and not say anything to Carl. He didn’t want Brad to do anything silly and he had a feeling that he would, knowing how much Brad cared for Amy. “Let’s wait until the others get here Brad, before we do anything. I want the boys to see each other, but I don’t want them to talk to the other, I want to get them to give us their stories in their own words.” “Alright, but I don’t like it, I want to know just What they thought they were doing!” Brad said through clenched teeth.

It only took a few minutes for the three to get there, and when they walked thru the door and Brad saw who it was he was stunned. He sort of walked backwards until his knees hit the edge of a chair and just plopped down in it and stared. He went from angry to confused to down right unbelieving. “Was this supposed to be some sort of joke?” He roared all of a sudden jumping to his feet and advancing on Dwayne. Dwayne tried to shrink away, but the men had not let him go yet, so all he could do was shake his head no and stammered the word in a shaking voice. Carl opened his mouth to say something but Rich quickly placed his hand in front of his face and told him to hush, Brad wasn’t talking to him, yet.

They took Carl into the living room while they seated Dwayne in a chair at the table. Neither boy was giving them any trouble at this point, most likely realizing, no doubt, that the jig was up and there was no point in trying to run.

Brad stood in front of Dwayne with his hands on his hips and tapping his foot. “Ok. Now, I want some answers and I want them NOW.” He said “What is the meaning of this ‘stalking’ crap?” Dwayne looked up at him warily, acting as if her were too afraid to answer and then he squared his shoulders and sat up straight and said “Sensei It was just plain wrong what you did!” Brad’s face was confused, “What?” “You shouldn’t have taken them into the dojo, they are GIRLS Sensei! Girls aren’t supposed to fight. We were only trying to scare them off, so that you could get back to teaching us guys.” Brad took a few minutes to digest this outrageous statement and then started to slowly shake his head. “Rich” he called, “Bring Carl back in here.” The men brought Carl in and sat him on the opposite side of the table where he leaned back in his chair and stared a bit apprehensively at Brad. The same look that Dwayne had had on his face just moments before. “Boys” Brad started quietly “I think that you need to try to understand something. I am a Sensei, I WAS your Sensei. I choose who I teach for what ever reasons I chose to teach them. I do not base my decision on what sex they are or where they come from or what they believe. I pick my students in ways that you might never understand, but one of those ways is if they need what I have to teach. Does that make any sense to you?” Hesitantly both boys nodded “Good. I’m glad that you are getting the concept. I decided to teach Jennie and Amy because they needed to learn to defend themselves against people like YOU! Now I think that you need to start at the beginning and try to explain to me just what it was that you had hoped to accomplish with this idiotic plan of yours.” Slowly Carl started talking, “Well you see Sensei” Brad interrupted furiously “I am NO LONGER your Sensei! You will address me as Sir or you no honorific at all before you call me Sensei again.” “Y-yee-ss Sir” Carl stammered and then began again. “We kinda thought that if we scared the girls then they would go away and not come back. We weren’t planning on hurting them or anything” he said in a rush, not wanting Brad to get the wrong idea. “we were just trying to scare them off. Honest. But it didn’t seem to be working, they just don’t scare that easily.” He sounded a little disappointed when he said that, it almost made Brad smile, his ‘girls didn’t scare that easily’ he thought. “You do realize that the police would take a very dim view of your actions, don’t you?” Dwayne and Carl looked at each other with worried faces “Police?” said Dwayne “We didn’t do anything wrong Sense, er, I mean Sir. All we did was walk along behind them a few times, there’s no law against that” “Oh, I think that they would indeed see it as a crime if it were explained to them the right way. What you did was a form of intimidation, which is generally seen as a threat. In other words, you were threatening these young women an a regular basis. Do you see how that might seem to an Officer?” Again the boys looked at each other and their faces paled noticeably “I don’t want to call in the law” said Brad quietly “so what I want from you two are apologies to both of the these young women from both of you and your assurance that nothing like this will ever happen again. And I’ll be honest with you, I will be speaking to your parents when we take you home, they need to know that they will have to keep a closer eye on their children.” Slowly, with their faces flushing pink with emotion, Carl and Dwayne turned to Amy and Jennie and mumbled their apologies. “And now, let’s go get in the car, Jon and I are taking you two home.” Brad told them “I do NOT want to ever see you around these young women again, do you understand me?” they both said Yes and stood with their heads down. As Brad lead the boys out to his car Jon turned to the others and said, “I am so glad that this turned out as well as it did, but in the future Ladies, if you Ever feel as if someone is following you or threatening you in ANY WAY you had better tell someone. No one will think you are Crazy” he said looking at Amy, “and Jennie you cannot ignore things like this, people do bad things, as we all know, and even with all your lessons, you could not positively walk away from a fight unharmed. Promise me?” They both nodded. Satisfied Jon said his good-nights and followed Brad out to his car.

When Brad and Jon dropped the boys off, they had a long serious talk with the parents, and they were not too happy with their kids. Brad made it clear to them all that the boys were not welcome in his dojo any more, with the exception of coming in to pick up their gear. The parents understood and agreed with that decision.

As Brad was driving Jon home he remarked, “I find it so hard to believe that those two honestly thought that this was the right course to take. Why didn’t they just come and talk to me?” “They knew in their hearts that their reasons for wanting those ladies out of the dojo had nothing at all to do with them being female and everything to do with their jealousy. The girls had all of your attention, and they were used to being the center of the dojo universe.” Answered Jon. “I am not saying that this is your fault Brad, because it isn’t, but I am saying that you might want to pay just a tad closer attention to your students in the future and maybe we can stop this from happening again. After all” he quipped “Isn’t prevention the Real name of the self defense game?” Brad had to laugh “I love how you can take a bad situation and put such a positive slant on it in just a few words Jon, Thanks for all your help tonight, it was noticed” Jon nodded and simply said “You are very welcome my friend.”