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By any means (or TBD)

by GregCaje 

Posted: 02 February 2009
Word Count: 1293
Summary: Revised 020209, Chapter 1

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Posted: 27 January 2009
Word Count: 1205
Summary: My hope is to chronicle a kids ambition which blinds him a bit morally and see how the results of bad decisions compound and once made they cannot be undone. The antagonist in the story is figuratively the same character two decades later. There is some redemption available on the path they both take, but it is diminished due to their choices

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Content Warning
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“You know I used to be just like you.”
“No chance, you loser.”
Thought rolled over him like a storm, dark and menacing. Rage? He didn’t think it was fear coursing through his body but whatever it was holding it in check made him shake slightly and ache all over.
What would one of his self help role models do now? Probably be just as mad or scared or whatever he was. No one came up with a clever retort in this situation unless they were in the movies, Clever was nowhere near the space he occupied. If it came, he was hoping it would assist in getting him out of the predicament, not in coming up with some great verbal comeback anyways.
His mind zipped along, not in any controlled direction, more like a car flying off the shoulder going somewhere, but not where it wanted to go. He didn’t dare say a word. His verbal silence completely covering a din of unuttered thoughts, “He might just have a point. He might have been just like me – a long time ago.”

That was a gun across the desk pointing at him. A fucking gun! A 38 with a 2 inch barrel. A snub nose, like the one his father used to keep in the truck glove box; not one of those big Dirty Harry guns you see in the movies which a camera could pick up at night fifty feet away – some big python of a gun.
This was the coral snake of the gun world - cute, innocuous, and ready to kill. There was no ‘show’ in this gun but there it was, the a visual magnet he could not pull his eyes away from. It was being used almost like a teacher’s pointer, swinging around to emphasize points made as the speaker droned on. The casualness of the speaker’s voice implied that this was nothing new for one of the two people in the room.

Chapter 1. The Beginning

His name Cash implied to a lot of people that his parents loved the man in black. They did (and he couldn’t fault them for that). Maybe that played some part in his naming.
The primary reason however, for his sharing names with Johnny and the US medium of exchange was the result of his father having come from a poorly played poker game an hour too late to see his son being born. When the nurse at the counter asked him what he might need at the hospital he responded without thinking, Cash. Finding it amusing and realizing he had gotten a son instead. He settled on the name after what he would have preferred to have gotten that night. Cash took his name and the attention it got in stride – His dad could have called him Sue after all.

Cash came into the world contented in 1983, but he could have been born 25 years younger and his childhood would have been the same in the small town in western Michigan surrounded by fruit farms, bumped up against the Lake Michigan shore.
He wandered his hometown growing up and was a familiar sight at all the local stores and haunts and especially Walt’s lunch room and pool hall on Main street which was of course where all of the local stores resided. The men who sat at the counter knew him and his father. Over lunches and games of pool, they would impart the wisdom they had acquired over decades in the small town and factories where they worked., “The good jobs are all gone. I wouldn’t want to be a kid today.” “Kids today don’t know how to work. They wouldn’t be able to keep up an hour with what we used to do back in the day.” Variations of these themes were repeated so often that Cash could impersonate some of the men at the counter and did so at the urging of the others. If the talk got too down or too long or he just got tired of hearing it, Walt would howl over the counter to “shut up and let the kid eat! He isn’t here to listen to your sad stories.” Bets were always placed on the pool games and Cash won more than he lost. The old men were willing to trade a few dollars for some time being next to someone who had the benefit of youth and promise on their side.
“Your lunch is on the counter when your done beating George,” Walt yelled across the counter. He slid the burger and fries to an awaiting Coke on the counter. Walt had liked Cash from the first time he came into the pool room. He reminded him of himself in 40 years earlier. He would slip him an occasional free lunch. The only cost Walt extracted was that while Cash was eating they would talk. Among baseball scores and local gossip, As opposed to most of the others, Walt had different bits of advice for Cash. One of his most repeated themes was that, “this world was a lot bigger than Scottville and that if Walt was ten years younger he would be on the next bus out of there.”

Cash expected Walt had been saying that for more than ten years now and was determined not to make the same mistake. He listened to all the men while they ate and complained about there wives and jobs and while they joked and laughed before heading off to work the second shift. At school his friends swore they would lead different lives but the way Cash saw it, they were all ambling down the well worn path of their fathers and mothers.

So Cash made plans. He learned at an early age to keep dreams to himself – the lunch room was not a place for dreams given the blunt instruments the men used to dash them. He knew that when he proclaimed to the men around him that he was going to make something of himself, what they heard is only that they had failed to do the same. When he did occasionally slip and mention that he was the master of his destiny, his peers at the lunch room shook their heads and told him he was either naïve or a fool and probably a bit of both. “Certainly, man is no more his own master than a tree planted in the soil. If you get planted in the wrong soil you might grow, but you will never be able to grow as high and mighty as the lucky seed cast into more fertile surroundings,” One of the the men offered him at the counter when Cash was talking about his future.

“What are you trying to do, kick the life out of him before he loses his virginity?” Walt was quick to jump in.

Cash’s dreams, kept inside were allowed to grow in the fertile soil that his exterior environment had not lent him the benefit of. Not only dreams of doing something with his life, but dreaming both day and night a symphony of ideas sprouted and grew like weeds behind the contented eyes.

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