Murder Solves A Mystery

When I lived in Atlanta, to get anywhere into the city or beyond (like my college, or jobs, or theatrical events, etc.), you had to drive on what is known as the Downtown Connector, a section of road where two major highways, I-75, and I-85, combine to go through the middle of the city before splitting into their respective directions north of Georgia Tech.  This is still the case, although the exits and lanes have changed and continue to change on a regular basis.

Many times, while driving or riding over this road, there was a particular section, just as we left our south-side area proper, where the road rose high above the neighborhoods below.  Regardless of time of year or season, the car would be enveloped in an overwhelming aroma of bacon.   As much as possible, whether I was the driver or the passenger, I tried to crane and gaze over the guardrails to see where that powerful fragrance was coming from.  All I could ever see was a sign for one of the multitude of Waffle Houses that call Atlanta home.  I couldn’t imagine even the busiest of Waffle Houses could cook enough bacon to make an aroma that could get into my car from over a quarter-mile away.  Baffled, I filed it away as one of life’s little mysteries.

Cut to a scene in the 1980’s.  For some reason, during that time, right after my daughter was born, working my first job for a weirdo who charged you “negative time” if you missed work, I got called for jury duty three or four times.  I ended up serving on nearly all of the summons.  Most were for civil cases, insurance, money judgments, and the like, but my last time serving jury duty in Georgia was on a murder trial.

Like the majority of murders, it was incredibly stupid.  Two coworkers had gotten into an argument, one worker had hurled verbal slurs and bad language at the other one and then they separated.  The other worker, enraged by the name calling, went to the locker room, got a knife and proceeded to stab the other worker, who later bled out and died.  Stupid.  One life gone and the other ruined over a bunch of meaningless words.  The biggest thing I learned at that trial was that words alone are not considered provocation for physically violent reprisals.  At least that was the case then.   Now, who knows?

Anyway, as I and my fellow jurors sat in the box and listened to the attorneys build their cases, one detail stuck with me.  The two young men happened to work in a factory that processed and packaged products for Frito Lay, Inc.  And one of the things they produced was pork rinds.  And, you guessed it, that factory was located in the general area of that section of highway where I always smelled bacon.  When I put those things together, I just had to shake my head at the utter randomness of the Universe.  Who could have possibly thought that by serving on a jury that I would find out the solution to a weird question that had bugged me for years?

And sadly, based upon a great deal of evidence and a thorough explanation of the law, we found the defendant guilty.

#BuckFifty – Day 12 – Accident

buckfifty

Tuesday morning, I was awoken by my phone ringing at 9 a.m.  I realized I forgot to turn it off when I finished work at 5 a.m., so I scrambled out of bed and grabbed it before it went to voicemail.  My subconscious must have been working overtime because it was my grandson, sounding a little shaky, telling me he had just got in a car accident–his very first.

Oh, lord.  My heart sank, of course.  First question, was everyone okay?  Yes, cars were in bad shape but no one was hurt.  Okay, fine, I reassured him.  Any car can be replaced but he can’t.

Turns out he was driving up to Pueblo from Trinidad, CO where he was working, and was on I-25 just around Walsenburg, about 45 miles south of Pueblo, when a woman just cut in front of him to change lanes without any warning and apparently not looking or seeing him.  Which is kind of hard to believe since he was driving his big ol’ white WORK truck.  Then, of course, after my post yesterday, my mind went immediately to him losing his job, etc. but I stayed calm for him.  I just reassured him, told him to make sure to give all the info to the state patrol, etc., etc.  And we hung up.

Later that evening he called me back.  He had got everything straightened out with law enforcement, the other driver got the citation and not him (it was pretty evident from the pictures he sent me that he TRIED to get out of her way because all the damage to his car was on the front passenger quadrant.  Then the company found a driver to go pick him and his coworker up and they went to Denver to get him a replacement truck and he had already driven back to Pueblo.  I told him I was really proud of him for doing that because sometimes it can be scary to drive right after you’ve had an accident.  He said, “Well, there wasn’t anything else I could do.  I had to get the truck from Denver and take it back home.”  He sounded so much like me, I almost started to cry.  Instead, I told him to get some ibuprofen and take a hot shower and not be surprised if he felt like he literally couldn’t get out of bed the next morning.

I love him so much.  I can’t even think about what might have happened, so I’m not.   And, I don’t like to brag but there are days when I say to myself, “Gramma, you raised that boy right.”

Layers

Today is my 2nd grandson’s 13th birthday. Yes, I now have two teenaged grandchildren. I can hardly wrap my head around that, let me tell you. This week, on my days off, I took E and we went up to Denver and got C to spend the night in a hotel, hang out at the pool, and just have a nice time. It went off partially well.

First, we got kind of a late start. Then, there was a ton of traffic all the way from Pueblo to Denver, and of course, they live on the north end of Denver, and the hotel I got was on the south end. I don’t even remember why I did that, but there it was. So, by the time I got up to pick up C, it was already 3:30 and his step-dad was home. I spent a few minutes there, got to see my granddaughter who is two now and a little cutie. Of course, she had no idea who I was, but she was very sweet and friendly anyway. She and C are obviously crazy about each other…she wanted to know why he was going with me, etc. E came in and played a little bit with her, too, but she didn’t really remember him, either.

Then, we fought rush hour traffic all the way back south. E had Google maps on his phone, so he played navigator when I asked him to route me through town instead of on the highway. That was actually kind of fun, and he got involved in it. Then we got to the hotel, and he started acting like a complete snot. All he wanted to do was set up the XBox (which I let him bring) and play that, and talk mean to his brother…not so much what he said, but how he said it. C wanted to play and they did, but I was getting hungry, so finally at around 8 pm, we went to this BBQ place that was right in front of the hotel, and man, was it great! That was a good find, anyway. After that, we went back to the hotel and C and I went to the pool, where he got on the ellipitcal for a bit while I swam a little, then he got in the pool and then we hung out in their nice sized jacuzzi. E of course, stayed up in the room and played the XBox. Wheeee. But it was nice just hanging out with C, talking, finding out a little bit about what’s been going on with him. He just finished the 6th grade and did pretty well. I think he likes school a lot better than E does, at least for now. After that, we went back to the room, got dried off, and C. decided he would sleep in the other bed in my room (I got a 2-double suite with a sleeper sofa, but they’re kind of too big for sharing that now. It was good because we each had a bed.) He flaked out pretty early, I read for a while, then went to sleep, and of course, E was still XBoxing away. He probably crashed in the wee hours.

We slept in. The room was dark, and I woke up a few times but refused to get up. Finally, we managed to get up and get going before actual check out time. C said he would like to go to the aquarium, which was a little more money than I wanted to spend, but I caved in. The Denver aquarium is small, but pretty nice, and of course they wanted to hang out at the big saltwater tank where the sharks are. That was pretty cool, I have to say.

Before we left Pueblo, we had sort of arranged that E would stay up there until tomorrow and visit with his dad. He had found out that his dad’s girlfriend would be home, so I could just drop him off there, so after the aquarium, he once again became navigator and we found their house with very little trouble. We visited a little and I got to see how his dad’s other two kids (one bio and one not) both adore E…so he got a little bit of the feeling that I imagine C has when he is with his baby sister. The little boy, Jase, just couldn’t WAIT to show E how he could play the Leggo game on the (you got it) XBox, and when C and I left, they were happily being Leggo Indiana Jones and blowing things up.

Then, I let C pick where we went for lunch and we enjoyed that, and I eventually got him home about 4:30. I visited with step-dad and the baby for another few minutes (got a hug this time) and then I had to brave traffic to get home. Rather than sit on the highway bumper to bumper, I went through town, remembering a lot of the ways I used to drive when I lived up there for a year and a half before E was born.

Because of all the rain, the city is incredibly lush and green this year. I drove through inner city neighborhoods of mid-century homes, high rise apartments, and new construction, with trees and landscaping burgeoning out onto the sidewalks. It seemed that every street I drove down reminded me so much of similar neighborhoods I used to travel through in Atlanta on my daily commute, and traveling with a long lost love, who showed me how to use the back roads to save time and turmoil off the beaten path. Memories crowded in and time thinned out in front of me. The intervening years between now and my time in Denver and my youth in Atlanta all melted away until I seemed to be experiencing everything all at once.

I thought about the nature of families and how each of the boys seems to be creating their own branch, with siblings and half-siblings and completely non-blood related siblings, but all family nonetheless. I felt a little sad that their once-close relationship seems rather broken, but then I also remembered how relentless C once was about wanting E out of the house so he could be the only one (for a few minutes, at least until the baby came). I don’t want to blame him for that, but at the same time, I couldn’t help the fleeting, curious thought, wondering if he even remembered wanting that, or if how things are now were simply how they have always been in his limited memory. Who knows that things a child remembers over time? I have been together with all of my siblings and when we have discussed particular events that we all shared and there couldn’t have been four more widely divergent stories. I’m sure the boys’ versions of how E came to live with me will be equally diverse if they ever talk about it.

The traffic was relentless and my thoughts went on. Time travel, memories, the nature of family, connections, how I would never have known any of these people if not for my daughter, and so on, until finally, more than three hours after leaving C at home, I managed to walk in my door and crash.

Tomorrow I’ll go pick up E and he starts his weight training for football at 7 a.m. on Monday. He’ll be mad at me all the way home because I wouldn’t let him take his dad’s puppy. Of course, they had to get a dog (part lab, part pit bull), and of course they didn’t pay the pet deposit at their apartment and of course they can’t afford the damn dog anyway. The girlfriend (who is very nice) called me on Thursday night after I finally got home and asked me. I was adamant. I know E wants a dog, but he can’t even pick up his room or put his dishes in the dishwasher for god’s sake. How is he going to take care of  a puppy? I am not up for vet bills or pee/poop on the carpet, etc. A puppy/dog/pet is just not happening here. Nope. Period. Full stop. So, he will just have to be mad at me and when he’s on his own, he can have whatever dog he wants.

So, on Fathers’ Day weekend and Summer Solstice, I wish you all the blessings of the season and hope you are having a slightly more relaxing weekend than I did.