SPEC SCRIPTS AND FINDING REPRESENTATION

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“Seek and I shall find.”


I have been writing my screenplays since 2011 when I was first leaving undergraduate school. And initially, I had no intentions of actually becoming a screenwriter as a career. But the more I wrote the more ideas I generated. And that’s when it dawned on me that this could really be something. In the beginning I had no clue what I was doing, but I liked doing it. Didn’t care about it as a career at first because I was preparing myself to go to business school. Applying to graduate schools for my MBA, but still writing off and on. Now here I am nearly seven years later and I am working to find myself a literary agent in the year 2018. You might ask, why did I wait almost seven years to reach out. It’s because I wanted to get better as a writer. And yes, I have made amazing strides in my screenwriting.

I have made strides enough that I had the confidence to self-publish my first novel and book of short stories. I have written almost ten screenplays, and shot two short films from two short film scripts. My podcast that is written will come in 2018, as well as my photography; oh and not to mention my two blogs on Medium and WordPress. My days consist of so much writing that I surprise myself when I come up with new opinions, or topics everyday. But that defining moment will come in 2018 when I have to reach out and deal with the potential rejection letters from those that say no, or no response at all. Yet it does not scare me one bit. A s a matter of fact, I am more confident in finding representation than I probably should be. That is something that scares the hell out of me; my high confidence in my writing.

Even when things are not working, I still think that I can go on to be a great writer. I feel like I have so many stories to tell that people need to hear. And yes, that sounds rather arrogant to think that in a world population of approximately 7 billion people, I have something the world wants to hear or need to hear. But people who are artists: writers, directors, actors, musicians, comedians, painters, sculptors, etc., tend to be to some degree self-centered. It all depends on how deep you take that self-centered persona. People who tend to be central enough where the world should hear them out, where these people provide the world with insight into living a good life are very necessary in society. Albert Einstein is someone who had something to say, Gandhi had something to say, Martin Luther King Jr., Stephen Hawking, Ernest Hemingway, and the list goes on cross so many professions. Those who feel they have something to say that is of value to the world ultimately changes the world in which we live.

In the end, my journey to not only finding and securing an agent, but selling my spec scripts I hope to be a ten year process. I am already in year 6.5 of the journey and my writing has drastically improved from the first script I wrote. I broke all the rules with that script that are the do’s and don’ts of writing. Now, I have more structure as well as an understanding in how to tell a story. I’m still a work in progress before I can consider myself to be great, but I am working daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. By the age of 35 it is my goal to sell a few of my scripts on spec and have a best selling novel. Sounds like no time because that’s five years away, but I am 6.5 years in and already drastic changes from day one. Who knows what my skills will be in five more years.


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PROLIFIC WRITING: MY ROAD TO SUCCESSFUL WRITING

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“What feels like an eternity in my mind, has only been a day in real time.”


My writing career started when I first started to conceptualize a screenplay about a girl who is dealing with a stalker. Sending her reminders of her ex-boyfriend who was killed in a car accident the night they were together. Since then, I have written five more, two short screenplays (which one has been made into a short film and I am currently producing the second), contributed nearly 450 blog posts on my WordPress site, and wrote two books I self-published on Amazon. And even with that, I have yet to make a real living off of any of my writing. But then I looked back a few times at when I first started writing my work. And I see the year 2012, which makes me realize I have not been writing for long. That’s right, I have only been at it for six years. Actually not even six years, more like five and eight or nine months or so.

So what is it; why does it feel like I have been at it for years longer? Is it because I want it so bad that it is taking so long? Or could it be that five and a half years is nothing in the grand scheme of things. I have researched and found that the average screenwriting career is a ten year journey. You hear about novelist not receiving critical acclaim for their books until they are ten to fifteen years in the game. So for me, my little five and change is nothing. But where am I ranked so far? How do I know how much traction I’m really gaining? Of course I have showed my work to friends and family, but that’s them. How will I know what the market like in my writing? And yet again the question is, “Well, how much have I written?” To a lot of readers, two books are not good enough.

But look at the age in which I started. I was 25 years of age once I started writing, and now I am about to be 30 years old at the end of the month. And in society years it’s like, get your life together. But in writer years, it’s like oh stop it, you got time. But nonetheless, I’m putting in the work. I’m churning out material and putting myself in a position to let things happen to me. After I complete my next short film, I plan on finishing my comedy trilogy I wrote. In addition, I’ll try to punch out another, a drama I have been contemplating for a while. These are the four scripts I will try to sell, which will bring me up to nearly ten full length screenplays. It just hurts to see so many people around you doing what you perceive to be more in life. But for whatever reason, I never stop, and I always move on to the next story. Their lives never make me want to stop doing what I am doing.

And for that reason, I continue to write and write. I’m even shocked sometimes when I look at my blog and realize I am at yet another milestone for it as well. I have hit nearly 450 posts, close to 5,000 views this year, and nearly 1,000 visitors this year. Then I think to myself, “Some people have had their blogs for way longer than myself and can’t turn out much of anything. And still, with all the challenges, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If not for writing, I would be constantly stuck in my head. Because in the end, writing allows me to be honest in a society where you can’t be honest. You’re aloud to say things that would otherwise turn people away from you. It’s the freedom why I don’t want to stop. I can’t open my mouth and say as I please, but I could write what I please. And as long as I can’t talk without using my filter, everything will be channeled into text. In a solidarity space, where no one can control me, but me.


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INCREASING BLOG TRAFFIC: HOW I AM TRYING TO BUILD A TOPICAL BLOG SITE

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“Building takes time, but damn, I’m three years in!”


Since the year 2015, I have been blogging off and on. This year I’ve been more consistent on a daily basis. But now that it has been three years, I’m now trying to figure out a way to further grow my topical blog site here on WordPress.com My first year I had 196 views, 70 visitors, no likes nor any comments. But I increased my usage in the year 2016 and the result of that work was 2,005 Image result for blogging trendviews, 600 visitors, 121 likes, and 11 comments. Now that we are in the year 2017, I have really been active on my WordPress blog site. And since then I have raked in this year 4,976 views, 878 visitors, 109 likes, and 29 comments. So my next questions is, “What will the rest of the year, and 2018 hold in store for me?”

Because I look at all these blogs that stated that they received thousands of traffic in a year. But something about that didn’t seem right the more I thought about it. Then I heard how too frequent of blogging may cause your numbers to slow up. But my reply to that is, Image result for bloggingshouldn’t people want a base of topics for me to cover everyday. What type of audience wouldn’t want some good insight on a daily basis. So now I am left with all these questions on how to build my blog. For now, writing everyday has kept my mind sharp because I want to become a working screenwriting, playwright, and novelist. And I contribute to my blog posts everyday; meanwhile I am working on my next short film. When that is complete, I will be back to writing my screenplays and books.

What should I do? Should I stop writing for a while? Or should I have more patients and keep at it? Because at this point it is like a daily routine that keeps me consistent with my writing. I’m closing in slowly on a milestone of 7,000 views all time. I don’t know, I guess I get jittery, especially when I hear the success of other people’s blogs. Image result for bloggingBut you can’t get a good enough gauge of how long they have been blogging. I’m prepared to go the distance, but only if I had some time frame, with some advice on how to build. Some would say keep on my current path, and others might say change it up. Where are my successful people out there who have built theirs to thousands per month, hundreds of thousands, or even millions?

I know my writing has gotten better since I first started. And my base of information has grown as well. And to make things fair for readers, I provide them with a broad outlook on various topical issues. Even going as far as taking a stance on both sides of a topic. Then again, maybe I’m just overreacting to the slow move of my blog. Because here I am complaining about three years, better yet 2.5 years. And there are people who have been building their blog sites for 5-7 years, or even as much as 10 years. In the end, hopefully 2018 looks better than 2017. If that’s the case, then maybe, just maybe all of this is in my head. And everything I have doing up to this point won’t have been for nothing.


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THEIR LIVES AND MINE: WHY DO PEOPLE’S LIVES MY AGE SEEM MORE INTERESTING THAN MY OWN

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“I wonder if they are ahead or am I just paranoid.”


You ever get the feeling like everyone is doing more than what you are doing? Like their lives are more interesting than your own life. I will go onto the internet and scope out the people in my age group who are getting married and buying their starter homes. Or, looking at their snapshots of them on vacation. But my life has taken a different turn. My interest has no real pathway to take and you can land in your position at any moment. And that goal that I am pursuing is a writing career. It takes years and years of consistent writing, but hopefully it works out.

And see, hopefully is the word of the day. Most people don’t set out to pursue a career in what they really want to do because of the fear they’ll never make it in life. No one want to set out to attain something just to be disappointed in the end. You work at your craft, all the while people your age are seeming to be doing something much more interesting than yourself. They go out to bars and nightclubs, and take on monogamous relationships. But if you’re traveling an unconventional road, you may not be able to take part in too much fun. Especially early on in your career pursuit.

Well why, why can you not take pleasure in your youthful activities like everyone else? And the reason being, when you go to school to become a doctor, engineer, lawyer, academic, or any other profession, you have somewhat of a path. Unconventional careers like screenwriting, playwright, author, and blogger don’t really have a path. Of course there are people who provide you with how they did it, but that is just how it worked for them. You have to take their advice and carve out a way to make life work now for you. September 20th will mark my 30th birthday, and I don’t feel like the average guy my age, but I’m not willing to give up my pursuit.

You would think a guy my age would be doing the typical things everyone else is doing. But, I don’t want to get married or have children. I’m not interested in buying my first starter home, nor do I want to indulge in partying on the weekends. So for me, pursuing my career choice is easy to the extent where I can focus on this one thing. There are moments I walk pass the bars in New York City and see people my age engaging with each other, But I made my mind up that I wanted to be a great writer. I wake up and on days I’m not working I am blogging. Then I write for draft of my second novel and short stories book. But let’s not forget my screenwriting and filmmaking.

And the only reason I added filmmaking is because there are projects I genuinely want to do myself. So what now, I have a long road ahead of me. Most guys my age are focusing on long term relationships as well as women who are seeking husbands for marriage. But I am already thinking about film, theatre, and book ideas for the next few years to a nearly a decade from now. In the end, I really don’t know what the average guy my age is doing because I am so focused on my own goals. I’m pretty sure they’re having a social life and dating. As for me, I would much rather utilize my time pursuing what I love than fitting into what the crowd is doing.


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THE SINFUL 7EVEN (SHORT STORY)

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When you’re a pastor of a congregation, your duty in that role is to not only serve as the orator of God, but also as a community leader. In my job as pastor of the church I like to get to know as many of my members as possible. Given the small size of my congregation, this task is possible. I come across the lost and the saved, the good and the wicked, as well as the ones with love and hate in their hearts. Those who I find to be the most intriguing to speak with are the married couples. Having the opportunity to counsel married couples have allowed me to work as the liaison in which men and women need to keep their relationships on track. In meeting these couples I am always inundated with questions ranging from how do we make our marriage work to how did your marriage stay together so long?

How do I make my spouse happy to what should I do if I have fallen out of love with my spouse? So many questions arise from not only the young newlyweds, but also from those who have been married for years. I became intrigued with counseling married couples ever since the sinful seven. You might be wondering, who or what is the sinful seven? The sinful seven are a group of men and women I spoke to during a couples retreat. They were seven couples faced with issues in their marriage that put their marriage in jeopardy of ending. What was quite interesting, is that each couples dealt with a separate sin that was disastrous to their relationship.

Case in point the, man whose wife wanted him to lose weight. He would come home from work and each night, sit in front of the television with a plate of food. This man would eat to the point of passing out, sometimes even eating the leftovers that his wife wanted to consume for herself the next day at work. His poor eating habits had caused him to take a on a series of health related issues as well as a strain on their sex life. He had developed an inability to focus at work, and even children were ashamed to be seen in public with him in public. Overindulgence of food, drinks, or wealth can is seen in biblical scripture as one who is a glutton.

For those of you who are not familiar with the bible, gluttony is a sin. A sin in which someone must eat to the point of withholding, usually food, from others they care about or don’t know. They must consume in order to harbor from the needy, only caring about their well-being. Gluttons are very selfish, and in the case of this married couple, his health suffered. He couldn’t understand what he was doing wrong. His children and wife were both taken care of; had a great job, nice house, abided by the laws; so how am I a sinner.

As I counseled them, I told the man, abiding by the laws of the land is not enough. If you love your family as much as you say you do, you wouldn’t allow your overindulgence to interfere. The fact that your health has deteriorated shows not only a lack of self-importance, but a lack of responsibility to your family. We all love to eat, but anything that is done in

access will always negatively affect ones’ life. After much consideration, the couple and I agreed to a strict diet for the husband. Since then, he has lost quite a bit of the weight and his health has made a tremendous turnaround. Even the children are more reluctant to go in public with him. As far as their sex life, he and she are expecting their third child.

My second couple is the wife with too much yearning and wanting to be someone she’s not based off of others’ achievements; the bible calls it envy. Envy, this lack of ones’ own abilities and superior achievements due to the desire to want to be or have something someone else has. The husband was a fine young man, highly educated, with an exceptional career. He worked night and day, not because he couldn’t afford the essentials his family needed, but from the envy of his wife toward others. She would see someone with something she didn’t have, and it became a competition from that point on. This person drove two luxury vehicles, so she wanted three. The couple’s house cost five hundred thousand dollars, yet she wanted the house for one million dollars, so it would compete with the others in the neighborhood.

The advice I gave to the both of them is simple; who are you trying to impress. Before that I wanted to know about the wife’s childhood, and where she came from. You find that people who envy others, either grew up in an environment that was poor and their friends had things. The other is that they grew up well-off and their household was based around what everyone else had that they didn’t have. The wife was the first, she grew up in a really poor household. Her father died when she was a young age, and her mother struggled to raise her and her siblings. Meanwhile the wife went to school with students who always wore the nicest clothes, drove best cars, and lived in extravagant homes.

That can be a tough life for a child who has to watch everyone from the other side of the fence. It can make a kid grow to develop a lot of self-esteem issues or even resent their own parents from witnessing such a divide. Now, I’m not agreeing with the idea of having self-esteem issues from someone having something you don’t have, nor am I implying it’s alright to have a vendetta against your parents either. It’s just difficult and confusing to a child, who can’t understand why they have to struggle so hard, and their friends don’t have to do so. In my explanation, we envy people based off the outer. We don’t know their lives behind closed doors. What is picture perfect in our

eyes, could be another person’s hell internally.The more I spoke to the wife, she feared losing her husband because of the way she behaves in the marriage. They were expecting their first child together, and raising a child in an environment in which both, or in this case one of the parents delves in excessive envy. Children are smart, they will grow to learn how to pin their parents against each other once they understand one of them has a weakness. After the counseling session, the wife has since then learned to except and be happy with the life her and her husband have carved out for themselves. Not only that, but she has given birth to their first child, and is expecting a second child.

Then there was my third married couple, how could I forget this one. A wife whose husband had an affinity for, let’s say the opposite sex. It didn’t matter who she was, young or old, tall or short, slim or curvy, married or single. He had to observe any woman that crossed his path. It could be the female neighbor, a co-worker no the job, even a member of his wife’s family hinted at him flirting. When we met, he kind of shrugged his shoulders and said, “Hey, I can’t help it, I’m a man aint I.”  Yes, you have to right to look and observe whomever you please, but when you’re married it comes to point where it becomes quite disrespectful.

As I’m speaking to him regarding his actions, I noticed something his wife was doing as he is talking. She had this movement with her hands every time he would speak, where she appeared to be covering up her stomach. I even stopped speaking to him, as I asked her what was wrong. At first glance, I thought it was stomach cramps, until further observation. It was a movement across her bell that I have seen before, but did not want to address. So, in order to figure out why she cradled her stomach so much, I introduced a series of questions. The first being, how did you two first?

Before she could answer the husband stated that it was in college during Spring Break. He went on to explain how beautiful she looked in her bikini she wearing, so he had to introduce himself. In trying to get the wife to answer the second question, I asked, when did you two firs fall in love? He once again interrupted before she could answer, stating that it was at a really nice restaurant. He remembered it well because of this amazing evening gown she was wearing. The third question was, what made you two decide to get married? He, for the third time interjected, stating that he was so lucky to waking up next to such a beautiful woman every day. Then, my attention shifted to her, as she began rubbing her stomach once again.

She didn’t speak up, until I asked her about the things she enjoyed before marriage and children. That’s when her husband kind of rolled his eyes and turned in the opposite direction. The wife spoke up and stated that before they got married and had children she was into gymnastics and yoga. The responsibility of parenting and birth of her three children had drastically altered her body. Immediately, there was no time for the gym, and no gym meant no exercise, no exercise meant weight gain, and weight gain meant lack of interest. Finally, I had solved the issue in this relationship. Her husband lusted for the bodies for other women after the altered appearance of his wife. He, for not one second, tried encouraging his wife, nor did he try to help her lose the weight.

So now, what she thought was the love of her life, is actually the real weight holding her back from progressing. His lust for other women because of his lack of interest in his wife’s appearance, had caused a major rift in the marriage. I explained to him that his actions for a single guy in his early twenties might be understood. But, he wasn’t a college co-ed anymore, he was an adult man, in his thirties with a wife and three kids. His disdain for his wife not only could effect her, but he doesn’t want his children seeing their mother treated in that manner. Since our conversation, he has been more supportive of his wife. Not only that, but her confidence has been restored and she has begun to attend her yoga classes once again. Her and her husband sent me a photo of them vacationing at a resort with their children, I feel they’re going to make it just fine together.

I would like to now introduce you to the fourth couple. The hardworking husband with a wife whose only mission in life is to be held up on a pedestal by her own self self-confidence and personal status. We call this in the religious environment pride or this extreme sense of hubris and self-reflection. The wife was a former model in catalogue magazines who made quite a living off her physical appearance. As the husband and wife approached their middle aged years, the wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. The chemotherapy forced her to lose her hair, as well as losing one of her breast to the disease. After the cancer went into remission, she began to cover her body in public. She would wear veils to cover her face and head, even fully padding her shirts, as to cover up the fact that she had lost one of her breast.

I am an old man, and through the grace of God, I have never had any debilitating illnesses. I don’t know the feeling up losing something that defines who I am as a man. Women who are stricken with this disease are heartbroken when they are told they will lose their hair or even the loss of one or both of their breast. But, when you’re a woman who has made your living off of the way you look, as in this case, adjusting can be quite that much more difficult. The wife in this case was so prideful, she went as far as burning photos and magazines with her likenesses on the front cover. Her pride had caused her husband to feel afflicted and disconnect with her children.

My advice to the wife was difficult, because like I said, I have never been in her situation before. I did tell her it was best to focus on the people whom have stood by her through all her problems. If her husband married her while she was modeling, and fought with her through the sickness, that is something to be proud about in and up itself.  It showed that the people wholove the most are there when you are down just as much as when are up. Since our counseling, she is a lot more motivated. Her excessive pride in how she use to look in the past has taken more of a backseat to what she is grateful to have today

Now, now, where should I start with regards to the next husband and wife? Well, in a nutshell, the husband was lazy. When I say lazy, I don’t mean lazy like he would leave his shorts on the floor and wouldn’t pick them up lazy. I mean lack of drive and desire to succeed laziness. You may ask, what would make a woman marry a man has no desire or will to succeed. The only thing that comes to my mind when meeting this man was sloth. That’s right sloth, or the lack of foresight to care about ones’ surroundings due to the carelessness in ones’ emotions or spirit.

The husband was very productive when they first met. He was one of the hardest working people his wife had ever met. This is what made her realize he was the man that would be her husband. His irresponsibility came about soon after he lost his job. At first it was fine because the wife understood his plight at the time. Then what was one day unemployed, turn to weeks, then months. Not only that, but he had not made an effort to even look for a job eventually. This put a real strain on the marriage, with the wife carrying the full weight of the family. It came to a point where she felt, if he wasn’t going to be contributing in any shape or form.

When I spoke to the husband he told me that he had been working since he were a teenager. Losing his job not only meant a setback to his family, but also the first time in life he had been unemployed. He felt useless to his wife and kids, and what was temporary became permanent. My advice to him was that he should not allow his accomplishments in his past dictate the future of his life. We made a deal that every day he is to wake up before his wife in the morning, and come home at least by the time she gets off of work. In this time, he is to look for a job, whether it be part-time of full time work. He is to find something, until he can fully contribute to his family. Well, I am happy to say that since that time he has not only found a new

full time job, but has had to become the breadwinner since his wife was laid off her job. He has since told me that it feels good to be able to take care of your family instead of the one being taken care of. I hope the wife gets back on her feet, I’m sure everything will work itself out.

This sixth couple was my most difficult marriage of the others. This is because the husband and the wife both, had dual responsibility in the marriage going downhill. The people who they felt were suffering the most were their two children. You see, the both had demanding careers, but wanted more and more. As a matter of fact the wanting for more became to excessive that they had to hire a nanny to care for their children whilethey both worked. This ultimately caused a strain on the relationship between the parents and the children. The nanny received the respect that the parents should have been getting and the kids started to resent the both of them.

This greed, or pursuit for wealth and status for which a person has no boundaries was affecting their family. For the bible says, “For what shall a man profit the whole world and lose his soul.” I ponder in my mind of why anyone feels that they must go to such great lengths to attain money and power. What is use of having all this money and power in the world, and yet you have no one to share it with at the end of the day? They were both operating under the impression that only if we supply our children with a big home and fancy trinkets we could purchase their affection. There’s just one problem, kids don’t care about your money and how much power you have; it means nothing to them.

The nanny received such praise because she was the one in their lives. She taught them how to ride their bicycles, read them bedtime stories, and kissed them goodnight. Their parents paid for expensive vacations, but even on vacation both the husband and wife were both far too busy to focus on their children. So as I stood before both of them, I say, is worth it. Is it worth it to lose a connection with the only people in your lives that truly care about you the most? You can’t work a job forever; so whose going to be there for you once the work stops? Are your children going to be there for you through those elderly years? When you look back on life you are going to resent yourselves when all you’ve ever done was pursue power. Power that once you die no one will remember because it will go transferred to someone else.

The more I spoke to the husband and wife, the more they felt what I was saying made sense. No parent wants to feel like they are neglecting their children; at least one who is responsible. In the end, the man and woman decided to cut back on their work. They even were able to spend more time developing a relationship with their children instead of them growing up with the nanny as their caregiver. They both sent me thank you letter with a nice contribution to the church. I say thank you to both of them and keep up the good work.

Now my last married couple came to me with a problem that I find all too common in marriages. The husband felt is wife had been having an extramarital affair behind his back. The wife said that she wasn’t, but often thought about it, in order to gain his attention. She wanted him to feel the wrath of her frustration. Now there is a word I understand wrath, which  brings us to the last sinful couple. Wrath in the bible is the reaction one has in the form of anger toward someone else as a means of retaliation. The wife held feelings of anger toward her husband for neglecting her in the marriage. She wanted him to feel the same pain she feels when he does not pay attention to her.

The husband stated that he wants to spend more time with his wife, but some minor financial setbacks I the household has caused him to work a lot more. He didn’t know why she couldn’t understand his passion to help feed and clothed his family. Before the two were married, it was your typical boy meets girl relationship. They would go everywhere together, do everything together, and see everything together. Once the married went into full swing and children were part of the equation, more time went into the family and less into the both of them. Her scorn for him not showing her enough attention came in the form of her yearning for attention elsewhere.

I have never condoned cheating before in my life, nor will I start now. If you feel that spouse is not giving you what you want and need most, there should always be a conversation about Most people say, well I did that, then when you ask about the sit-down, they never really had a physical sit-down. We expect our spouses to just know what we want, and at times that is feasible. On the other hand, this non-communication can prove to be disastrous to a marriage. In my advice to the both of them I encouraged them to create a specific time slot. This would be the time slot for husband and wife time. They are to make this promise and stay true to this promise. Only an emergency can disrupt the pack that they have set forth. My advice stuck with them and since our meeting, they sent me a letter telling me how well their marriage has panned-out since our talk. He has been paying more attention to her, and they even discussed having another child. I say good luck to them, and God speed ahead.

So as you can see, the life of a pastor is not only standing before a congregation giving Sunday service, but providing guidance to those who need it most. Marriage is important to me because I feel that children need that stable relationship which will serve as a template for when they decide to date and marry in their own lives. Since the Sinful Seven, I have met couples with a host of other issues, some from the seven I counseled, to new causes for concern. Whatever the case may be, I am more than happy to be of assistance to my parishioners and their families.

WEB OF LIES (SHORT STORY)

Caravan pulls up to the doors of the hospital. Running from the drivers’ side of the caravan, a man rushes to the passenger side of the van. Opening the door he assists his wife from the car. She’s holding the bottom of her stomach, breathing heavily, she slowly exits the vehicle. The man, holding her hand, helps her through the automatic hospital doors. They approach the receptionist of the hospital. The man ask the receptionist for a doctor because his wife was in labor. After the receptionist agreed, he and his wife walk over to a bench in the hospital. Soon after a doctor with a nurse approaches the married couple with a wheel chair. The nurse and the man assist the pregnant woman. The doctor smiles at the woman and asks relevant questions regarding her current status. After the questioning the doctor ask the man to go with the nurse for some scrubs. The doctor advised that after he placed on the scrubs he could come into the delivery room. The woman, still breathing heavily looked over her shoulder at her husband while she was being whisked away with the doctor in the wheelchair. The nurse directed the husband to another room where he will receive his scrubs.

Once dressed in his scrubs, the nurse directs him to the delivery room where he sees his wife legs up in stirrups. He walks over to his wife as she begins to firmly clutch his hand. She begins to explain to him the pain she is feeling at the moment, as he tries to console her. The doctor enters the room dressed from head to toe in scrubs. He is assisted by a few other nurses. All four of them walk to the bed as they prepare themselves for the woman’s pregnancy. What seemed like a calm room in the beginning became more noisy and hectic as the the doctors began to work with the woman. She pushed and screamed during the pregnancy; the whole time her husband encouraging her to keep breathing and push more. The pregnancy continued to proceed forward as the doctor informed the woman he could see the baby’s head. Her husband continued to aid her in the process. The doctor and nurses began to take on a look of confusion as they retrieved the baby.

The husband asked the doctors what was wrong, but the doctor continued with the delivery. As the woman pushed and pushed, the doctor and nurses started to look at each other uncomfortably. The husband and wife questioned the doctor as to the nature of the baby. Holding the baby in his arms, the doctor raised from below the stirrups. He informed the husband and wife they are the proud parents of a baby boy. The husband’s face had a look of confusion as he slowly turned to his wife. There was a momentary silence in the room as the husband stood up from his seat next to his wife. He began to yell and scream regarding the physical embodiment of the baby. He was upset because the newborn was African American and they were a White married couple. The husband stormed out of the room as the nurses followed behind him. The only people left in the room was the wife and the doctor.

He slowly looks to the door, then back at the wife.

“How come you never told me you were pregnant?”

The woman replied, “Because we were together only once, not to mention we used protection.” “But my husband and I were trying to have a child.” “So it made perfect sense not to inform you of anything.”

They continued to converse as the husband was in the hallway ranting about the delivery. The nurses in the hallway were trying to calm him, but he started to attract more attention. A well dressed woman in a pantsuit and a hospital badge approached the enraged husband.

“Sir, what is the matter with you?”

He replied, “Who the hell are you?”

Turning to the woman, the husband’s eyes lit up.

“Tanya!” said the husband.

Tanya asked him what was wrong, and he informed her of his wife’s pregnancy. He went on to explain how his wife was cheating on him with an unknown Black male. Telling Tanya the baby is biracial, Tanya appeared shocked by the situation. Soon after, the doctor emerged from the room into the hallway. Walking over to the husband, he notices Tanya. They momentarily embrace as the husband glares at the two of them.

“How do you two know each other?” asked the husband.

“This is my wife,” said the doctor.

Tanya slowly dropped her head in shame. The husband angrily walks away from the nurses, doctor, and Tanya.

“He said his wife was cheating on him and the baby appears to be biracial,” said Tanya.

“What a way to find out your wife is cheating.”

The uncomfortability on the doctor’s face wouldn’t even allow him to look at his wife. Her phone begins to vibrate. She pulls out the phone seeing the text message from the husband. The message read, “You never told me you were married.” Tanya clutches the phone, as her and the doctor give each other a nervous smile and slowly walk away from each other in shame.

POOR CHOICES (SHORT STORY)

July 4, 2014 is a date I remember too well, not mainly because of the Independence Day celebration, but the day I lost my best friend. What was supposed to be a day of cookouts and fireworks ended in a violent exchange. The Fourth of July always start as a good day for me. Getting up out of bed, looking at that new outfit I had bought the week prior. Isn’t that something, spending a significant amount of money on an outfit that I only intend on wearing for one day? Not actually the moral compass for having your life together. But does that doesn’t mean your life isn’t together? It’s like, come on, I’m contributing to the economy. Anyone who works a job just to pay for an outfit celebrating a day of freedom should be commended. Especially considering the day is one of choice.

Wow, choices, that word sure does resonate since last year’s incident. Waking up that morning I chose to go into the shower and I chose to get dress. I chose to eat breakfast and I chose to leave the house and make my way to the parade that day. Something I chose to do, that probably wasn’t in my best interest was hanging with a group of friends who were known to start trouble. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve gotten into trouble myself, yet not like this group.

One of the boys I was hanging with has been involved in drive by shootings. He’s been sought after by numerous gang members who have yet to get a hold on him. Another boy likes to dabble in theft from time to time. He has a warrant out for his arrest by the police. The third in the group has alleged sexual assault allegations from a few girls our age in the neighborhood. When their brothers catch up to him, that’s all she wrote. And the fourth boy is a known stickup kid. For those of you who don’t know what a stickup kid is, they’re people who hold others up for financial gain. He has hit a few drug dealers’ spots, yet they don’t know it’s him. All I know is that he stays dressed in the latest fashion and accessories. I know one thing, if they ever find out it’s him robbing their dope spots, he’s a dead man.

Then there is me, who have never done as much as these guys, but still quite undesirable myself. And here we are, five knuckleheads, headed to the parade with only one intention; getting girls. Remember I told you I bought an outfit to wear just for this day. Well, it’s almost like tradition to buy an outfit to wear on the Fourth of July in the inner city. The shopping malls are packed full of young people trying to impress their peers. The girls do it to look cute and the boys do it to look cute enough to the cute girls to approach them. Yet none of them have the money to go shopping, but nonetheless everyone is there.

Now back to the parade; my friends and I did as we normally did for the fourth. We stood, leaned-up against the wall with one leg rested against the wall and the other touching the concrete. Our hats were wore real low so the ladies could see our entire outfit, not just the face attached. So, the moment they made eye contact that was it. We had ourselves an in, an excuse to speak as the females would pass in a variety of scantily clothed attire. Some females wore tight leggings and tank top shirts. Others would sport fishnet bottoms and tight t-shirts. My favorite were the ladies who wore the jean or boy shorts with the piece of buttock showing at the bottom. In addition, these females usually wore t-shirts cut off all the way to their breast. This meant you could see the roundness at the bottom of the breast. To top it all off was the high heels some of them wore, yet sneakers was a fashion statement as well.

My friends, I’m telling you, we were like dogs in heat. Any one of these female that walked by usually was inundated with cat calling and whistling. You might have the occasional guy try to grab one of these females. This resulted in an argument or even a slap across the face. Me personally, I like when the ladies walk in groups. This meant not only me but all my friends could get a girl. I never saw much fun in all of us hitting on the same female. A couple of the guys in my clique loved to run train. And for you lames who’ve been sleep for the past century, pulling a train was never my thing. Two guys having sex at the same time with one female. Naw man, I’m too selfish for that, I need a chick all to myself.

But, from looking at the females walk by, scoping the ones who we’ve never seen before always was a treat. This day started off as no exception, until this real sexy female dressed in red, white, and blue walk past. Before I tell you what happened, let me paint the picture for you. She was about five foot seven, five eight, pretty face, slim waist and flat stomach. She sported a red scarf, white cutoff tank top, and blue jeggings with red and blue heels covered in spray painted stars. This girl was a true dime, sorry about that, more slang terms. What I meant to say was, this female was a perfect ten. Everything was hitting all in the right places.

Before I could open my mouth to say something, one of my friends had already gone in for the kill. He grabbed a handful of the female’s buttocks, causing her to quickly turn around. The young female slapped him across the face and yelling expletives as the other guys laughed. I was the only one not laughing because I felt like that ruined my chances of talking to her. My strategy was to get her out of sight away from my friends. This way I could say what I really wanted to say. You see, I am different with girls in front of my friends than away from them. When I am around my friends, I turn into my alter ego. The moment I step away from the group, I’m a different person. But my friend groping this girl’s behind, left me with no choice but to intervene. The only problem is as soon as I stepped forward to speak to her, she responded cursing and screaming at me.

Understandably so, I mean, my friends violated her as she went about her day. How would I feel if someone felt me up as I tried walking up the street? Within her cursing at me, I tried explaining to her that it wasn’t my hands feeling on her. In my efforts to apologize she took a swing at me just as she did my friends. Just like that, she gave me a right hook to the face. I stumbled backward, nearly falling to the ground. She smiled, standing proud of her accomplishments. For the life of me, I don’t know what got into me, but I just did it. Quickly regaining my footing, I approached her as she stood firm with her fist balled up. My friends stood in place laughing, as the female grinned as if she took pride in her attack on me. Pride overcame me as I slapped her with the palm of my hand.

She immediately fell to the ground. Gently rubbing her face with one hand, tears filled her eyes as she got up and ran away. My friends ran over to me, co-signing what I had just done, “That’s right, that’s how you check a bitch!” “Teach these hoes a lesson!” “If you want to act like a man, treat her ass like a man!” “My boy got a mean pimp hand!” As they patted me on the shoulder and applauded what I had just done, the feeling was not that bad. In fact, I felt good slapping her in the face. Hell, she deserved it for hitting me first. I was only trying to show her my deepest apologies for my friends.

After that, the five of us just left, but there was something that stood out to me unlike my friends. It wasn’t just being hit by a woman, not my friends congratulating me, but the look from spectators. People were not too thrilled by a man striking a woman in the face. As the five of us walked away, people began to converse among themselves and shake their heads. My friends didn’t care, they were bringing about more and more attention to the situation. Not only did they revel in the attention, but dared anyone to say something.

I’ll tell you one thing is for certain, aggression sure does work up an appetite. So as you would guess, we found ourselves going to eat at a burger stand. This place was not only a hangout for people our age, but a known place for fighting; even the occasional gunfire. But not this day, everything was going good this day. Except for what happened earlier in the day with the female I slapped. On the other hand, my friends thought what I had done was commendable. So commendable, they treated me to food at the burger stand. Whoever thought hitting a woman was seen as such a good deed by ones’ peers. Then again, my friends weren’t the typical guys.

The majority of men don’t hit, nor do they believe you should hit a woman. Didn’t matter to the guys I hung with, you touched them, you got hit. This was such a contradiction to me considering they touched her first to bring about her reaction. Then it hit me, what I had done was wrong and needed to be fixed. As the day wrapped up, and light turned to darkness; night fell on the sky. I decided to go looking for the female I had struck that night, but fatigue from a long day kept me from continuing my pursuit. Unlike me, my friends decided to go on with the rest of the evening.

After going home that evening I couldn’t sleep thinking about what I had done earlier that day. My mother would raise hell if she found out I had put my hands on a woman. Didn’t matter at this point because the damage was done. Now I had to find a way out make it up. Just made more sense to go to sleep and resolve it the next morning. Falling asleep proved to be a challenge with the events from earlier lingering in my mind. Eventually I went to sleep, as night became day. First thing in the morning my goal was to find out the identity of this young female.

Before I could leave the house my mother insisted I sit down and talk to her for a few minutes. There was a slight hesitation, so I knew something was wrong. I could see the look of hurt and pain, fear and desolation on my mother’s face. This wasn’t like my mother, she never sat down with me when we talked. Then holding my hands, gently rubbing the tops with her thumbs. She just came out and said it, “Your friends were killed last night.” She was almost in more pain than I, knowing had I not have come home, it could have easily been me.

Explaining to me how they died meant nothing once I heard the words, “shot and killed.” Her explanation fell flat as I removed myself from the couch and headed for the door. Nothing in her pleads for me to stay in the house meant anything, as I left out the front door. Now from here on out, my feelings toward the female from the day before didn’t matter. Someone had shot my friends, and I wanted to know who and why.