“Montgomery’s Black Face” By Robin Chappell

African-Americans currently populate 60% of Montgomery, Alabama, the heart of the civil rights movement. 28.5% own their own business and more than 85% are living in poverty…something is missing.”

Photo Credits: Robin Chappell (Downtown Montgomery)

When riding around through the city of Montgomery I would like you to notice something. Whether it’s dining, nightlife, or shopping, take a moment to look around and to reflect on how much Black culture that you see and hear of daily, maybe even weekly. The type you don’t have to search for, hear about from another Black person, or go on a specific Facebook page to find information surrounding it. How many businesses can you think of that are easily accessible and well known if you choose to shop at a Black owned business on a whim for something as simple as groceries? If we, as African-Americans chose to go on strike and shop ONLY BLACK in our city…how effective do you believe it would be? Keeping in mind that it would mean, protesting all that is not Black owned or created, which would mean transportation, food, attire, and even down to the importance of your cell phone. We would be homeless, without a car, and without many basic necessities we depend on, but are distributed only through White businesses.

I believe it to be a redundant contradiction that we choose to live in a city where change and the freedom to be great as an African-American should be the most embraced, but appears to be practically nonexistent. The culture and the determination should be loud and saturate the streets of Montgomery, not only for it’s citizens, but for those who visit a location known for it’s deep history in the Black culture. Instead we battle the uncontrollable plight of gentrification when it comes to housing and the placement of Black businesses in the region.

“Unforgettable”
Photo Credits: Robin Chappell, Downtown Montgomery

The impact of revenue generated when we “Buy Black” would not only help build a city that deserves to be truly recognized for Black culture and business, but one that possesses the majority of that culture. The answers have been in front of us for decades and continue to remain apparent when it comes to supporting our own, it just isn’t being done.

The worst observation I’ve come to notice since moving to Montgomery is the abundance of complaints, sabotage, and crime against one another pitted against the lack of knowledge, support and humility we have given each other to succeed as a team. I am ready to stop the constant jealousy and hate we have toward each other that has only ruined blessings and opportunities we need to create. When one of us achieves success in owning a steady flowing business, it’s always disappointing to ask that in individual how they created that path, what steps they took, and what they plan to do with those steps to create a foundation of anything. We rarely give the real answers which could help our people become equally or more successful than we are and instead have been selfishly basking in that information without spreading it to others. This will always be our downfall.

Poverty in Montgomery, AL By Race and Ethnicity (2017)
Photo Credits: https://datausa.io/profile/geo/montgomery-al/

There has been a constant struggle within us when it comes to providing genuine support. As an author, I have received questions surrounding discounts for my books and even receiving a book completely free…only from Black people…MY people. Being completely unaware of how much sweat, tears, and sleepless nights go into chasing your dreams is one thing; but to look one of your own people in the face in an attempt to low ball their ability to carryout that mission is an insult. It is what I would like to focus my attention on eliminating in 2020.

My vision is to highlight and promote each Black owned business, beginning with the city of Montgomery, and then journeying to other Civil Rights locations in Alabama; such as Selma, Tuskegee, and Huntsville. Reputable Black owned businesses have been serving our community for as many as 10-20 years, operating mainly under regular clientele and word of mouth. What if we could boost their reputations by not only spreading the word to those who may not have experienced their services before, but also ensure anyone who visits and tours the city of Montgomery has more access to them and their information?

The truth is that I discovered the longest running businesses are owned by those we would see as our grandparents, middle-aged aunts and uncles, and what I also call “social media apethists”. They have absolutely no interest in social media and barely know where to start when it comes to using it as a tool for promotion of their business to the masses. They sometimes simply don’t feel they need it, and most of the time they don’t; but what about those that do? Magazines such as Gump Town Magazine and In City Mag are great literary sources in Montgomery, AL that provide information on many Black owned business in the area, including those in Prattville, Wetumpa, and Millbrook. There are Facebook pages, websites, and flyers, but it’s 2020 and we deserve an app that truly celebrates us by highlighting the experience that was gained when visiting their establishment. Several years ago there were articles that ranked Montgomery, AL as number two for having the most Black owned businesses in the nation. If we still hold the title, why do things seem a little too silent around here?

http://www.blackmainstreet.net/montgomery-ranks-number-two-usa-black-businesses/

The apps surrounding Black owned businesses and accessing their information, including finding their locations have already been released and become successful in helping “Buy Black” but I find it to a certain extent. Once a business is logged into the app, it even incorporates GPS to assist in directing you to a Black owned business, as well as giving a notification when it’s nearby. Black owned businesses are at your fingertips and categorized by their fields and specialties on several free downloadable apps, such Official Black Wall Street, WeBuyBlack.com, and Afroworld.

So, I decided to give them a try and see just how many businesses would pop up in Montgomery, Alabama; since categories such as hair, MUA, lawn and maintenance, and restaurants are included. Each search result produced “NO RESULTS” for Montgomery and in order for Black owned businesses to be included, they would have to visit the website themselves and enter their information to be featured. There is a $50 one time fee to join and enter your business, which seems fair for the upkeep and cost to run the app while helping promote businesses. The website WeBuyBlack is actually for those who would like to earn revenue in selling Black owned products. For $30 it helps you set up a vendor account and earn commission with your own online store selling specific products where 10% is earned by WeBuyBlack and 90% is given to the seller. Not bad.

I’m all for sites promoting Black owned businesses, but this year what I would like to put my primary focus and energy into specifically is the promotion and awareness of Black owned business in the city of Montgomery and how we can become better in creating more revenue in our communities to help eliminate poverty and provide better support for our neighborhoods and our schools. Through my non-profit Harmonious Grace, Inc, I would like to start with creating a website and a book that is similar to a “Green Book”. A Green Book, also known as The Negro Motorist Green Book, like the movie, it was a written record of business that are Black owned or Black “friendly” during the time of Jim Crow laws and segregation. Although we are no longer battling segregation or Jim Crow, we still battle the silence of how amazing doing business with African-Americans can feel! I would like to create a website and eventually an app that provides information and locations about reputable Black owned business in Montgomery, the difference being that I will personally interview each business, enter their information and ensure that most if not all reputable Black owned businesses operating in Montgomery are featured. These businesses should be easily accessible and found on ANY website promoting Black owned business and revenue without having to do all of the work they are unaware they need to do in the first place.

We are a city who’s streets bear the struggle and the fight for us to be treated equal, vote, and even receive the right to sit and eat where we please as human beings. Black History Month is slowly approaching and I’m sure there will be the dozens of programs promoting positive Black history, parades, business expos, and future plans for African-Americans to have a better presence in Montgomery. I’d like to be one of those not only speaking of change, but making that change happen for the better. My journey will begin with touring the city of Montgomery during the next several months to interview Black owned businesses about their history, the reason they started, how long they’ve been in business and what their plans are for the future. This information will then be compiled to a website focusing on Montgomery and generating more revenue where it should be, in the Black Community. Following my project, I am will be working hard to ensure all businesses will be accessible through an app that is free to download and directs all tourist and residents to Black owned businesses throughout the city. There are entirely too many that are not included on websites or highlighted by social media.

If you know of any Black owned businesses that have provided great services or products to your life and deserve to be feature, please send them to my direct email at robic19@gmail.com or comment directly beneath this post. I plan to interview each business, no matter the location in Montgomery or the service! Thank you for your help and your continued support for all that I strive to do! It’s now time that we strive together.

Changing our momentum one crown at a time.”

“The Middle of Nowhere” By Robin Chappell

Photo by travis blessing on Pexels.com

It creeps upon me in the night

Cold and decrepit, yet I cannot overstep it’s charm

The prickly claws of the trees longingly reach out to me

Leaves and their dead ends crunch beneath the soles of my feet

I dare not heavily breathe lest I want it to hear me

Dragging me beyond the depths of what I know

Silently keeping it’s secrets I promised to never show

The wind cuts deep across my skin as I feel it grab me within

So euphoric it feels like a gift to me, so pleasurable it should be a sin

Cursed are those who know not who they are

What they make of themselves as they increasingly starve

And provide energy toward just to move forward

So I moved…inch by inch and step by step

To all that is solid and all that has left

It is true that I crave the risk like a drug

Void of all compassion and numb to pretty love

If I run I cannot fathom the regret

Or the butterflies I’d feel if I charge straight into it

They tell me the only way of doing is to do it

So here I go blindly into the unknown

As it invites me further into it’s embrace

I stare into the light of the moon, revealing my true face

And it pulls me closer…closer to where I need to be

To the part of myself that I lost before, everything good about me

But it’s just a cycle, the same path is always chosen

Fate is forever lost

Blinded by the pain

I bought into at every cost…

“The Exception” By Robin Chappell

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The atonement of the tone created by you to constantly satisfy me

Is like the whispers of faith from an angel

The best kept secret that will set me free

Here I am looking high and low, searching every corner

Becoming incessantly anxious the more we continue to grow this

Something I delicately hold on to as if it’s damaged and seeping egg

Protecting it as if it were my life for which I would humbly beg

Anxiety exceeds this feeling I have never had the pleasure to know…real love

Worry keeps this heart beating when your hands push me to go

The unchanging strength of us is my shiniest diamond in the rough

Never needing to be polished and no feeling could abolish what we’ve built

No buckets of guilt as we communicate freely in the relief of believing…

This is actually working in the healthiest way there could ever exist

And no! Love is never something that should instill any fear or defeat

Forgive me if around the corner I think negativity is lurking

Sabotage is plotting to greet me…snatching all of the beauty of us from beneath me

Drama has been my karma for many many clocks

To see her walk away so calmly turns my stomach into year long knots

Won’t she be back more bold and loud?

Tell me I never deserved this? Air my dirty laundry out…

Make you change your mind so suddenly

Leaving me to only reminisce and grieve

Preparing for a goodbye you promise to never ever leave…

“Flawed Love” Robin Chappell

Sunshine and rainbows?

Isn’t that what they say love can’t always be everyday?

The sunshine you’ve instilled in me effortlessly breaks through our anger

Rainbows are the everlasting promise to patiently calm our nerves

I am not perfect and neither are you but we are deeply in love

So I never look for it when it comes to you

It’s the reason I feel so blessed with no recollection of stress

Beaming from the unconditional love of every action you do

Kissing my lips covered in the early mornings of my breath

Caressing my body tenderly when you feel it’s in need of rest

Before I have to ask, you’ve already conquered the task

Spoiling me and plastering smiles on my face without one drop of cash

I am not perfect and neither are you but we are deeply in love

I don’t have to look for it when it comes to you

“Remote (cont’d): The Control of It All” By Robin Chappell

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The President of the United States stood there irritated and lost in thought as, Louis Thorington, the head of “The Survs” stood in the center of The Oval Office and reported back to him the news about Dr. Hartley that he did not expect. He stared out of the window and listened intently without response.

“She’s uh…she’s escaped and disappeared off the grid again sir. Last location was in Rome, Italy until she killed two of our officers and escaped through a hotel window. We are working hard to track her location and send more officers to bring her back…um Mr. President.” Thorington cleared his throat. He stood there in a gray expensive tailored suit, simply dressed with no watch or jewelry and appearing well put together; but his graying dirty blonde hair glistened with sweat and his pale manicured hands were moist as he hid them behind his back and firmly planted his feet. He held a mousy type of appearance that wasn’t as intimidating as it should be for the leader of a group called The Survs that hunt down potential terrorist threats, but his brawn wasn’t why he was chosen. Louis Thorington was one the main creators and programmers of The Surveill-Eye 3000, the reason this was all a success. Thorington had been a brain surgeon and heard the ideas thrown out about a small chip being inserted somewhere into the body in order to control the nation. It began as a mere idea and a dream, then changed into a reality the day Thorington walked into The White House to finally present The Surveill-Eye 3000 after tirelessly crafting it for ten years.

He stood in front of everyone at the White House during a televised press conference about his new invention and the plans to carry it out and complete everyone’s insertion that following year.

“Not only will The Surveill-Eye 3000 keep track of finances, income, and background information, but through the brain sensor, this chip will also possess the ability to detect emotions motivating rage! With this chip we will be able to better eliminate terrorist acts and school shootings by actually seeing the premeditated emotions leading to homicides. Crime rate will be practically non-existent when we involve a special team dedicated to tracking and detaining citizens with these types of issues.”

A Hispanic woman that happened to be a House Representative slowly raised her hand. Thorington pointed to her with a smirk after his statements, knowing that this would raise a lot of skepticism and even rejection, but he was fully prepared to back up and discuss all of his research.

“Isn’t this a little too far? Tapping into the emotions you assume one may have may not necessarily lead to murder or the shooting of an entire building. What if it’s…grief? Or just anger because of the loss of a job? This doesn’t always lead to greater issues and sometimes it has to do with the way someone is mentally able to handle their problem. Seems to me as if you’re saying anyone that gets too emotionally charged would be at risk of a team of strangers coming to their home and detaining them until…what? They calm down? Or a certain amount of assigned prison time? Time out?” She cocked her head as the audience around her chuckled.

Thorington grinned. “Great question, but I do believe you’re looking at it from the wrong point of view. This will allow us to be more safe and not look up at the news to see twenty or more people dead because of a deadly mass shooting. We will tackle the issues once we actually get to them and learn the extent of the emotion one is going through.”

She frowned her face in thought. “So how is that not an inconvenience? Or against someone’s natural rights? You’re not only invading someones brain, emotions, thoughts, and well being, but their entire life as they know it just because they became a little upset. What are we twelve? We’re being indefinitely for detained just for how we feel??”

The rest of the room began to chatter in agreement.

“Well, isn’t it better to be safe that sorry? Where has letting people have free thoughts and free range of living gotten us? Heartbroken…disappointed…devastated. You can barely even look at the news anymore without hearing about a tragedy. Aren’t we all tired of the unexpected? The unpredictable actions of these criminals are ruining lives. The first thing is that the individuals already possessing a criminal record and in the prison systems are the FIRST to get this chip with no argument about it. This will be not only their new form of probation that needs no physical officer keeping tabs, but their forced retention to never step out of line again. It’s all controlled so simply!” He raised his arms as if he’d made a grand statement.

The room’s chatter and discussions grew louder and more animated as more questions began to emerge. The head of the FBI rose to speak next.

“So this is basically eliminating jobs for those of us that had to do this type of work ourselves…isn’t that right Mr. Thorington?” He straightened his jacket in a huff.

“Not necessarily. You’ll still have a job for about three years until the switch is made and everything that you’ve already done the regular way is all controlled through a new high tech system that you will all be trained to operate once you’ve gained your new names as ‘The Survs’.” The room went up in an uproar that made Thorington walk out of the meeting with nothing more to say. Everything could not be answered in one sitting but the fact of the matter was that the president already confirmed and sealed the deal for the manufacturing and distribution of The Surveille-Eye 3000 as they spoke.

“The President shook Thorington’s hand vigorously with a smile. “This is some work you’ve done here Mr. Thorington, it’s absolutely PERFECT for my plan. America will TRULY be great again.”

Thorington beamed with pride next to his wife Nadia and two small children when he signed the 1 Billion dollar deal that changed his entire life and in less than two years the chip was inserted into citizens and running successfully in every obedient and proud American….then Dr. Hartley happened.

Louis Thorington back then was happy and carefree, feeling as if he’d done the greatest deed for his country, now he’d not slept in weeks since the manhunt for her began after she’d somehow figured out how to extract the chip without killing it’s host, freeing all Americans that now realized they no longer wanted to be controlled by the government’s heavy hand. After being known as the most smart and prestigious man in America, he now in the position of being the most hated man. He breathed deeply and faced his fate in The Oval Office as rain fell against the windows in streaks.

Finally turning to face him, the president’s face held an expression of anger as he walked toward his chair and sat down in deep thought before speaking.

“When we started this project for a greater America, I was told there would be no issues. That it is a fail safe plan and there is NO WAY it can be compromised or taken out without the person ending their own life or the lives of others and you’re telling me that this…this mere woman is outsmarting us all and removing it for money…unacceptable.” He stated through gritted teeth while bringing his tiny fist down on the desk with a thud.

Thorington cleared his throat again nervously. “With all due respect, Mr. President, she was known as one of the top surgeons in America…we can’t really underestimate her.”

He looked up in surprise, making Thorington regret his words.

“Is that right? Coming from the head of an intelligent team that I specifically picked to make this project an ultimate success?” He nodded his head in thought. Then a weird smirk came across his face.

“Alright, you’re dismissed.” He quickly stated with a wave of his hand.

Thorington shifted his weight between each leg.

“But um…I am promising you sir that we are going to find her. We will not let you down.”

He continued to write something on a pad without looking up nor responding to his words. Thorington slowly turned on his left toe anxiously and walked out of the door in silence. The president shook his head in disappointment then clicked the “TERMINATE” button on Thorington’s profile displayed on his screen. Within less than thirty seconds, a loud POP could be heard followed by shrill screaming and calls for someone to “Get help.”

With a slash of his pin he crossed out his note saying “Find replacement for position of ‘Head of Survs’ IMMEDIATELY.”

“Hearth” By Robin Chappell

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Do not ignite my fire only to let it burn out

Singe my heart with your truth

Enlighten me again on what your flame is about

I’ve extinguished every doubt and I’ve taken all the heat

You gently warm my heart with your beautiful smile

Comfort me with every fervent word you choose to speak

The sparks we created long ago burst into the brightness of a bonfire

Keeping a glow upon my face I never want to retire

So do not ignite my flame only to let it burn out

Engulf me until I feel it from the inside

Until you make my entire body shout

My passion will need to remain kindled

Tending to the embers in the hearth of our love

Fuel them before they begin to dwindle

Watching it die out like the stars burning from above

Do not ignite my flame only to let it burn out

Let the flicker remain the same reason that you came

Let it sting the world like fireballs from your mouth

Raining new light into the darkness of their brains

“Tiny Shiny Glass” By Robin Chappell

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Life was tragically shattered by a dream to be great

To be brilliant, upstanding, be more giving than demanding

Then came the inaudible crash ringing through my ears incessantly

So loud like a crystal chandelier beautifully falling to the fate of gravity

Miniscule shards of glass spread and glisten against my skin

I clamber around…I pick them up and I pick them out

Before anyone notices the deplorable mess I scramble to sweep them in

Feeling like inevitably I can just glue them back together again

Then everyone would see it’s transparency

Light breaks through the cracks creating glowing specks of a spectrum

Displaying a colorful rainbow of promise on the walls as I scream out

“I fixed it! Look at how I made it all new!”

Then comes the disintegration of the weak glue I attempted to use

Before the mass’ eyes fall upon it while it’s good, it completely crumbles again

Chipping away slowly at first, the sound of tiny sifted grains or like trickling rain

The smallest cracking like the December embers of the warmest fire

The weight and support can finally bare no more

I watch the bottom caving into the pressure I could never defend

Pulled from beneath me so quickly when I no longer had dividends

I desperately try to stick them back together with the thickness of the years

I gather the pieces into my arms frantically pasting them with tears

Hands and arms absolutely bloodied with no result but the potential

The possibility that my life exists, so the tiny shards of glass help me to reminisce

Once I bathe in it in pure bliss you may label me insane

But it would disappointingly be the principle you completely missed

This disaster before me holds a presence that is broken but vulnerably open

Beautifully hideous, deformed, and plagued

Honest and rebellious. It’s an infection and a plague

I can’t ever fix it after the hundreds of times I tried

And what it took was the acceptance of failure, the doing away of my pride

I no longer hide the guilt or the shame the comes with the sound of my name

There is truth and there is proof that everything is meant to start anew

So I proudly dust myself clean, roll my sleeves, beginning a new project with stronger glue

Doing away with the chips and remains of the past I desperately wanted to hold together

Knowing it was dangerously unstable, the fate of collapsing beneath the weight of a feather

Now it can withstand the storms, there is no more sweeping to do

There is no longer the disappointing sound of glass breaking beneath the soles of my shoes

“Remote (cont’d): Setting the Web” By Robin Chappell

Photo by Egor Kamelev on Pexels.com

I ducked between shadows and through alleyways, making my way down blocks for miles without stopping. I knew for a fact that Will was dead. He didn’t do what “The Survs” requested of him and with that being the only true reason they approached him in the first place, he would be destroyed. I felt no emotion nor shock for anything as simple as death anymore, that was destroyed years ago with the transitioning of this project. I did reflect on his dark and handsome face, never thinking I would have to ever see fear and desperation in his eyes…

“Doctor, doctor, please…I think I might be sick, don’t go.” Will’s beautiful smile flashed beneath me as I lay on top of him telling him I had to go to the hospital for the umpteenth time while he playfully tugged at my arm for more kisses. Sun streamed through the blinds of his windows and he traced the freckles sprinkled across my face and hiding in and out of sandy brown and unruly curly coils of hair down to my shoulders.

I grabbed his hand and kissed his fingers. “I just checked your vitals, everything worked perfectly fine to me.” I gave him a blush and a sexy grin as I bit my bottom lip thinking about how great he made me feel the night before. I jumped up quickly before he could grab me again.

He rolled over and groaned in his cobalt gray colored sheets when I began pulling on my clothes and rummaging through my bag to freshen up a little before taking the, after a date, long sex night, “ride of shame” home, then to work.

“I promise that I’ll see you again.” I gazed into his pouting face and surprised myself because I meant it. My eyes roamed his physically fit physic and rock hard abs, almost making me jump back into bed with him. When I looked into his eyes and we made direct contact at my friend Theresa’s barbecue two months before, and he made a corny joke about pigs in a blanket, I knew we’d hit it off.

“Hmmm…promises already? I must be on a roll then.” He chuckled. Folding his hands behind his head with pride.

I shook my head with a smile and grabbed my bag, then walked over to him and gave him a light, sweet kiss on his lips.

“I never break a promise.” I smiled then sashayed out of his apartment with confidence, yelling back to him over my shoulder. “Call you later.”

We were deep and heavy ever since then. Quickies during lunch (sometimes in the hospitals “vacant” rooms, late night dinners, simple coffees…if there was even two minutes of time together we took it as if we needed it to survive. Falling deeply in love that it showed all over our skin, to others around us…nearly sickening. He treated me like a queen and always asked himself how he’d gotten lucky enough to snag the most beautiful doctor in the world.

I snapped out of my thoughts to empty out my bag and it’s contents. The many passports and identities, different currencies of money, and weapons of choice had me practically living like an assassin, but it was all needed just to stay alive and I’d come too far to die now.

Hiding out in the gorgeous city of Rome, Italy for about six months had been the most relaxing location I’d discovered so far. Going back to America was out of the question so I moved around constantly through foreign countries while keeping undiscoverable contact with Americans that wanted out and needed their chips destroyed along with the rest of their lives as an American citizen as they knew it.

I made my way a few more blocks until I approached Grand Hotel Ritz Roma. I gazed at it’s beautiful architecture before making my way inside to request a room, paying in cash. I crept away with my head low beneath the hood of my coat lined in white and brown fur, damp from the drizzle of icy rain outside. The portly female receptionist remained friendly even through my stone cold facial expressions and alert eyes roaming everywhere while trying to be somewhat courteous. I thanked her in a heavy Italian accent, breathed a sigh of relief as I grabbed the key and my bags, then made my way up the elevator to the third floor. An old balding man eyed me as I slowly walked off and I waited until the doors completely shut before walking to my assigned room.

I flopped on the large plush bed once I made it inside and it was like landing on a cloud. I exhaled while I looked out of the window at my beautiful view. The adrenaline that had just coursed through my body began to calm down and I was instantly tired. I dialed room service and ordered something to eat. Specifically making sure I ordered the lamb with their chef’s special sauce. Once he brought my food, I thanked him sternly as he looked at me once over before I handed him a generous tip. I set the tray on the bed and lifted the plate to retrieve several tri-folded hotel brochures full of hundred dollar bills and a small note of gratitude from Madison, a woman whose chip I’d extracted earlier tonight before Will’s emotional ass found my spot and ruined everything.

I counted out $20,000 and stuffed it inside of my bag of nearly everything that I owned. I always planned my moves out three steps ahead and I knew what living this roguish type of lifestyle meant. I had no one and trusted no one, even most times picking up and mimicking the local foreign accents so I wouldn’t be questioned about hints of being a former American. I no longer had a place or an affiliation. Whenever I chose a new location I made no friends, no conversations, and I fully stocked everything once to lower the need of venturing out into the town. Creating disguises and shopping for loads of groceries incognito. I couldn’t make nor have relationships with anyone around me, but created the convenience of figuring out whom I could hire locally to for small errands with enough “hush” money and without a trace. Will was right, it was like I’d died and I wanted no one to bring me back to life, but now The Survs were trying to sniff out my trail and almost had me. That could never happen again.

After eating my lamb, which was absolutely delicious, I passed out before I even knew that I closed my eyes. Falling into a deep sleep, my dreams were flooded with my life in America, my family, Will, and everything I once stood for that meant nothing now. And I realized…most of it was full of pointless and endless bullshit besides the impeccable art of saving lives through my heart surgeries. That was where I created magic and endless possibilities. I practically lived in the hospital before meeting Will. Other parts of life included formal benefits, fundraisers, working out, the usual. Outside of cutting on people, I never really liked dealing with them too often and my social skills were almost nonexistent.

“So…red velvet ooooorr…the German chocolate?” I swooped a chunk of wedding cake into Will’s mouth delicately and let him savor each one before asking. Although I already knew I wanted the red velvet.

His eyes closed and he looked to the right thoughtfully.

“German chocolate. Hands down.” He smacked the table and sat back like he just knew he was a cake genius or something.

“Noooo….red velvet!” I laughed and punched in the arm playfully.

He shook his head with a smile. “Why the hell did I even have an opinion then?”

“Oh you didn’t.” I poked him in his nose. “I just knew you’d pick the opposite of what I did.”

He chuckled and planted a kiss on my lips before gazing into my bright eyes.

“Touche’ Dr. Hartley.”

I snapped out of my thoughts and woke up to loud knocks on the door. I jumped up quickly, grabbing my robe and my gun beneath the mattress before slowly inching towards the door. I didn’t step in front of it nor look out of the peephole. This visit was unexpected and I knew exactly the only people that could be on the other side. There was dead silence and the knocks had stopped like they were listening for me too.

“Hey…Dr. Hartley, just open the door. You’re surrounded.” My heart dropped to my stomach as I continued to quietly listen. I knew it had to be the men that found my hideout and killed Will because the voice continued with confidence.

“We have Will.”

(duh)

“And…we have Madison.”

I paused and instantly began to panic.

They got to her before she could get to her destination and she ratted me out.

I cursed at myself for even working with her but knew The Survs were relentless when it came to locating someone like myself.

I continued to remain silent with my pistol in the upright position standing on the left side of the door. My breathing was heavy now that I really needed to rethink everything, but first things first.

I darted towards the bedroom and threw on my clothes in a flash. Just a pair of sweats, a hoodie, and some Nikes with literally my entire home inside of two bags in tow.

The knocking grew more incessant and louder now that I hadn’t answered after all of the facts he’d spilled.

“DON’T DO THIS!! OPEN THE GODDAMN DOOR!!” More pounding. I inhaled then exhaled deeply, upset that it even had to get to this point, but I had limited choices now.

In one motion I stepped in front of the door, planted my feet apart and aimed my pistol dead in the middle of the door, shooting off four rounds through both sides of the wood with ease. I heard moans, a couple of screams, and two bodies hitting the floor with a thud.

I flew open my hotel window and slowly eased out of it. Dropping my bag to the ground three stories below, I crept out of the window and scaled the building until I made it down a fire escape on the corner.

I knew there was panic and commotion everywhere, including a newly issued manhunt for me throughout Rome, but I was long gone now. I landed on my feet with a thud, finding my bag I disappeared once again into the night.

“Maimed” By Robin Chappell

Photo by ahmed adly on Pexels.com

Noticing me when I’m happy doesn’t always mean I feel free

Waves of violent water rush through my head like the sound of chaos

There is no true comfort for the traumatized and the lost

The skin I dress myself in everyday needs washing with my linens

I’ve been wearing it a lot, but I fear that it’s staining and beginning to rot

When I look around I see weathered grays and matte blacks thickening with dread

I try and tug out the strings being pulled back and forth inside of my head

If I ever speak of my mental monstrosities I constantly see, you’d lobotomize me

So I have to find ways to embrace them acceptably, but it’s running thin

They’re beginning to seep out and run in tiny trickles down my skin

Puddles of despair form a creek below my feet

Small enough to splash around in…deep enough to drown me

Incessantly it sneaks up on me like the grim reaper when I am too happy

We play hide and seek when the depths of sadness runs deep

Barely even noticing me….

“Remote” By Robin Chappell

Photo by Nizam Abdul Latheef on Pexels.com

Year 2056…

“Someday we’ll be safe.” I mustered a weak smile, knowing I didn’t even believe in my own words. The young woman in front of me named, Madison, presented an even weaker smile followed by a silent frown when my scalpel made the cut into her wrist. I stared into the pools of her frightened hazel eyes. Her chestnut hair flowed around her face in a choppy and messy “bob” cut…but it suited her. The color in her milky skin looked drained beneath the bright medical lights in my basement. I flipped her wrist and tapped the spot I would have to dig in for the extraction. “Take deep breaths…slowly…this will only take a moment…but it will hurt like hell,” I warned. She blinked and sadly peered up into my serious dark brown eyes. Before she could make any statements or question me any longer I dug deep into the thin skin of her small wrists with sterilized, yet magnetized tweezers. I’d done this so many times I was prepared for the reaction of yelling, trying to pull away, pushing me away with their other hand. Not her. She winced and flinched slightly for about thirty seconds as blood escaped the deep incision I made.

I knew how to work quickly and accurately and just as I expected, my tweezers pulled up the tiny chip lodged deep between her muscles and bones. She whimpered when I finally extracted the solid glowing chip and, tossed it on to the tray, then bandaged her more quickly than I cut. She eyed the glowing chip like it was a disease as it pulsated on the silver slab of metal. “It’s just crazy how we really agreed to have those things put into our bodies…they kept convincing us…” Her sad voice faded off as she shook her head in disbelief.

I patted her shoulder after dressing her wound.

“Hey, don’t feel bad. You’re not the first and you certainly won’t be the last.” I peeled the rubber gloves from my hand and led her out of the back. She turned toward me and stared into my face with gratitude.


“Now, you’re going to have to care for this and give it a new dressing everyday. That was a pretty deep incision and you’re open to all kind of infection if you don’t keep it clean. The signal they inserted at the back of your neck will still be there…but without the chip they’ll be unable to see and control anything else. But in about an hour or so they will realize it has been tampered with and removed…you don’t have long.”

“I can’t thank you enough..” She grabbed both of my hands gently. “The money is already in the specified location that you gave me…I’ll be gone before sunset today.” She patted my hand then slowly sashayed away, but ducked her head low to ensure she wasn’t being watched.

I shook my head and headed back inside to clean and sterilize everything. I was deep into the business now. I’d been hiding out for years and now wore the reputation of a rebel, terrorist, and pretty much public enemy number one. Setting people free from beneath the government’s judgmental eyes and controlled terms of living was what I loved to do and was paid to do. But it held deadly consequences and a life of loneliness.

I still remember it like it was yesterday as I finished performing heart surgery on a very young patient of mine. Once everything was finished and she was stitched and ready for recovery, I pulled the rubber gloves from my hands and washed up. After informing her parents of our success and her promising recovery, I headed to the cafeteria for something to snack on during what I knew would be a long night shift. I had two more surgeries already scheduled and exhaled as I sat down for the first time in hours.

Something inside of me sunk as I unwrapped the turkey sandwich I’d purchased and saw the words “PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT” flash across the screen and our sad excuse of a president flashed a cheesy smile like he knew he was about to literally FUCK US ALL.

“Good evening fellow Americans! His voice boomed with enthusiasm, pale hands folded together on the desk in front of him as he continued.

“As you all know, nothing on this Earth can work nor be organized without order. We are currently living in a land that has lost control of what’s most important in this country…trust. We…need…to trust those surrounding us every single day of our lives in this beautiful land!” He pounded his small fist on the desk like he meant business.

“There have been far too many shootings, kidnappings, sex trafficking and murders by those surrounding us. These are people we communicate with everyday, yet these violent crimes continuously increase. We don’t know what is going on in the minds of others, we can’t read their emotions, their intentions. So how are we stop them? How are we to console their problems mentally by getting them the help they need? What if I told you that is all going to change?”

My eyes widened as he continued with the exact words I had been waiting for. The words that I knew would cause an even worse riot than police brutality, ICE, and feminism ever could. “I now introduce to you the chip that will change ALL of our lives.” He continued with a creepy smirk and lifted a thin computer chip between his fingers for all to see.

“This right here is the Surveil-Eye 3000. It looks small in size, but this chip of the future is PACKED with the ability to change the face of America and it’s safety. We will no longer have to wonder what’s in a young person’s head when depressed enough to shoot an entire school. We will no longer fear the reasons behind kidnapping, child pornography, or even just premeditated murders among ourselves. It reads emotions, violent thoughts, and whether there is ANY reason for concern about someone possibly performing terrorists acts, mass killings, or any tragedy…it sends out signals to law enforcement to act IMMEDIATELY! With just a small incision in the wrist, everything will become easier, safer, and we’ll be more involved with one another. Simply scan your wrist across an automated register to pay for all items and services. It is the new form of revenue and all that you earn is represented in this one tiny chip!”

He paused before he continued as if he wanted to let everything he said sink into our minds.

“Your bank account, credit card information, your yearly income, background information, credit score…EVERYTHING is now literally at your fingertips. You may feel this is an invasion of privacy and human rights but I assure you, there is no recording or audio recording of private or intimate moments. You’ll still live your life privately with only the monitoring of major emotions, depression, or issues that could cause harm to others! You’ll no longer have to fill out job resumes nor explain your background. Everything will be conveniently be stored in one place.”

I shook my head in disbelief. This was it, we were officially doomed and about to live beneath the thumb of controlling tyrants able to make everything we want and need something that can be disrupted if they chose to do so just by contacting the feds or exiling us, or even worse…death. He was grinning as if it were the best plan ever imagined and we should all be excited too.


“I pray this chip saves our country and it’s application will be required to remain in this country so…the decision is yours. But that decision will need to be made within two months before the start of the new year. Do what is right for us all.” With a smirk and a shrug he was gone and it went back to our “Scheduled programming.”

That’s it? The decision is ours?? What decision??

I hadn’t taken one bite of my sandwich and eyed the other nurses and doctors on their breaks. Their mouth hung open in shock for what seemed like five minutes. There was confusion, questioning, and then exactly what I knew would happen later. The conversation changed because there was no other choice in their opinion and discomfort could never be an option.

“Well maybe he’s right. He IS our president. It may put a stop to all of this unnecessary crime lately!

“It shouldn’t be too bad, plus what will we do if we can’t buy anything or pay our rent? Provide for our families?”

“They said there won’t be any recording or privacy invasion. It’s in our wrists…what’s the worst that could happen?

I rose up quickly, throwing my entire unbitten turkey sandwich into the trash bin, removing my scrubs, snatching my hospital badge from around my neck and leaving the hospital without notice. I breezed past doctors and nurses I’d worked with for seven years, cheerfully greeting me as I sped by without saying a word. I knew what time it was and everyone else would fall into the plight of delusion and cooperation.

I fell right off of the grid and withdrew every dime that I had in my name the next day, I closed all of my accounts, all investments, retirement, savings, stocks and bonds, anything that would be included in that chip and ended my entire life as everyone knew me. I would no longer be Doctor Cassidy Hartley, one of the most intelligent well renowned heart surgeons in the country. Many would even tell you that I’m dead, murdered somewhere unknown, kidnapped in someone’s basement…the stories and assumptions have been endless.

I snapped out of my thoughts when I heard the buzzer go off from upstairs. My heart thudded in my chest and my adrenaline kicked in like a shot of caffeine. Cautiously making my way to the intercom and cameras, I saw the face of a tall, dark and handsome, stern faced man in a black suit that hadn’t made any appointments nor contacted me.

Before answering I watched him closely, intently folding my arms. He ran his large fingers through his black wavy hair. He then checked his watch twice and jammed the buzzer once more, with authority and irritation this time.

“I know you’re in there…Doctor Hartley.” Him stating my name like that caused my heart to drop and I breathed deeply. I knew I’d have to acknowledge him or he’d certainly be back and I had to get rid of him.

“Um…there’s no one here by that name. Please leave.” I commanded.

“Ok…well Justice Young might live here then.” I gasped and turned back toward the buzzer, releasing the door so that it slowly opened and let him in. I grabbed my pistol, stuffing it in the back of my jeans before making my way up the stairs. When I walked in, I found him eyeing every piece of artwork I’d collected, and running his large fingers along my record collection next to a genuine record player it’d taken me ages to find and sneak in here. I cringed before speaking up.

“Please stop touching MY things.” I commanded. “And tell me why you are here.”

I walked over to my stocked bar in the corner to pour a glass of Brandy for my nerves, never offering him even a drop of water. He watched my every move.

A smug look covered his face as he walked closer on me.

“They told me you were still quite a beauty and I saw the recent photos of you…they finally snapped some of you coming through Mexico years ago, but they certainly do you no justice…’Justice’.”

He made air quotes as he stepped around my couch and eyed the alcohol on my bar.

“Isn’t that your name now? Kind of obvious and ringy don’t you think?” Like a personality or even a stripper.” He eyed my facial expression as he made his way around the room. I automatically grew agitated at his display of being the worst type of asshole in this moment.

“I know you didn’t come all of this way just to get a look at me and sarcastically compliment me, so what is it that you REALLY want, Will?”

“Hmm…still remember my name and everything, but for some reason you couldn’t tell me you were just going to up and leave the country?? Exile yourself for the betterment of your goddamn self!” His voice began to raise and the truth of his emotions began to spill out as he stood in front of me seething in anger and eyeing me like I’d stolen something from him. And I knew I had…his heart.

“What was I supposed to do, Will? As soon as I saw him make the announcement I knew I had to do…something…but I could not stay there! My father told me this was going to happen when I was a little girl! I mean he KEPT SAYING IT!”

I paced and took a sip of brandy as I thought about how everything had manifested and people often called him a lunatic or conspiracy theorist that didn’t have his facts together. “

“He was one of the medical scientists on staff helping create the technology for all of this to even exist! And you expected me not to believe him?? To just go along with everything? After all that I know? HOW COULD YOU EVEN SHOW UP HERE AFTER ALL OF THAT??” I screamed slamming my glass down in frustration.

“It never mattered Cassidy…we were getting married in two weeks…I didn’t care what was going on, what I had to do, or who I had to be just to be with YOU. It wasn’t supposed to be this bad…they told us all that it was this…simple…standard…for the greater America…procedure.” He didn’t even sound confident in his reasoning and I could hear fear in his voice. Just like everyone else I had helped, it was more than he ever bargained for.

I sighed and sat on the couch in exasperation. This was turning out to be quite a day.

I still hadn’t gone near him, finally deciding to ask the question I needed to know right now, besides all of the irrelevant side bar conversations about how I walked out on him.

“How did you find me?” I stammered. I finally calmed down enough to pull out another glass for him and poured him two large shots of Brandy. He had on an expensively tailored suit but he looked like shit. I could tell he hadn’t slept a wink in at least three days and eating had been out of the question.

He sat up straight and downed his Brandy in one gulp without even making a face from the strong taste of it moving down his throat. He eyed the glass in admiration and stared in my eye before answering.

“That’s pretty damn good. I see you still have excellent taste.” He licked his lips in reference to the liquor, but could quickly see in my face I was still patiently waiting for his answer to my inquiry.

“It wasn’t easy.” He shook his head and looked at me in amusement with that adorable grin. Then his face changed to sadness. “It’s like you truly…DIED Cassidy. No one could find any traces of you, the hospital knew nothing, your family…me.”

He began tearing up. “I thought the worst happened to you and that I’d never see you again.” My face remained unmoved by his tears and his emotions. “I still call your phone everyday, just to see if you’ll pick up..just once.”

His face became wet with tears and he hung his head like he was trying to desperately process my betrayal.

“I-I got a job…at the Pentagon about two years ago.” His breathing became heavy and he started to slump a little. I continued to stare into his face intently listening to the details carefully and weighing his words.

“They were there…conducting this worldwide search for you…this manhunt to find you by any means necessary once they…t-hey they heard…they heard.”

“Once they heard what?” I asked sternly. His speech was slurred and he tried to continue. “Once they heard you….weren’t dead…and what you…you were doing out heeeere.”

His beautiful face was sweating bullets now and he was slumped across the arm of the couch pointing at my face like a child.

“W-what’s happening to me? Cass….casss….ah shit.” He rolled off the couch like a hopeless drunk, hitting the floor with a hard thud as his eyes rolled into his head before going completely unconscious.

********************************************************************************

Will slowly blinked open his light brown eyes in confusion. He groaned and rolled his head to the right, processing everything around the room. His eyes finally became focused and landed on me in shock once he realized he was down in the darkness of my operating basement and tied to a chair because he’d obviously been drugged.

“Cassidy…WHAT THE FUCK??!!” He shouted in anger while he jerked his arms trying to break the military style rope ties that he’d never escape.

I reached in the back of my jeans and pointed my .45 right at his face with no emotion.

“Will…We’re going to try this again…how the hell did you find me and what are you doing here?” I asked slowly through gritted teeth.

“Cassidy, come on. Untie me! What is this? Why would I come here to harm you? I just really needed to know that you were ok! We haven’t heard shit about you in five years and this is the type of low you think I am??”

I swiftly brought my right foot up and kicked him dead in his chest so that he fell backwards in the chair. I stood over him while he winced in pain from hitting the back of his head on the cold tile floor.

“I won’t ask you again.” I stared straight into his eyes without blinking and slowly squatted over him waiting for him to tell the truth. I slowly put my pistol to his temple once again and made him realize the awareness of me not giving a fuck about his feelings right now.

“Cass…you’re in deep shit.” He stated with sad desperate eyes.

I instantly grew agitated.

“NO SHIT SHERLOCK! You think that you being here at all didn’t let me know that small fact? You came to find me because you were WORRIED?” I mocked his first statement.

“In fact, you’re wasting time and I already know what needs to be done.”

I cocked my gun back in one motion.

“Shit CASS!! CASS!! WAIT!!!” HE shouted while succumbing to flinching like a little bitch since he’d been here. All of that arrogance went right out of the window and I could see the purity of panic in his eyes.

“I-I don’t really work for the Pentagon…hell I don’t even work for the government, period, anymore. I lost my job…right after you disappeared and they figured out what you were doing…they thought I was involved in your escape…now I just work at the post office. The Survs ran up on me like three weeks ago when I was finishing my shift….started asking all of these crazy ass questions about you after you’d been gone for five years right on the exact date. Started talking all this shit about how they know you left me out to dry and asked if I knew where you were.”

I never lowered my gun and allowed him continue.

“They told me that they had a possible lead from someone about where you might be and knew that if they sent me, it’d be a better infiltration of your operation and that you’ve destroyed over hundreds of The Surveil-Eye 3000’s, damaging over 7 billion dollars worth of government property and helping other American citizens hideaway and leave the country once they want nothing to do with the chip. You’re all over the news in America, I mean that by the hour, check every flight and checkpoint type of shit. You’re on billboards, magazines, they talk about you on the radio…you’re the only one that performs the extraction…without death being the end result. Many others have attempted what you do, but they oftentimes hit the wrong vessel, or they send too much electric waves to the signal, causing damage to the brain. Cassidy, you’re the only successful extractor in the world right now and they’re still trying to figure out how you do it. You’re a terrorist and now they want you alive OR dead…they promised me a life of no worries and 5 million deposited right into my chip if I could somehow bring you back either way….”

His voice trailed off.

“I-I didn’t want to do it Cass…plus I knew you’d be too smart to see me show up and not think some crazy shit was going down! I begged -“

“SHUT UP!” I shut my eyes tightly. “So you still have the chip in your wrist? RIGHT NOW??!” I shouted in panic.

“Yeah…I mean…but I don’t-“

The buzzer began incessantly going off and I could see two men at the door on my cameras in uniform and obviously armed.

Will panicked when he eyed the screen. “That’s them! The Survs that came up on me!! OH SHIT!”

“OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR DOCTOR HARTLEY AND NO ONE GETS HURT!! WE KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE!!! OPEN UP RIGHT…NOW!!

They continued to pound and buzz as my mind began springing into action.

I pulled out a large set of keys that were always in my pocket no matter what.

I grabbed my medical bag and began dropping in as many bandages, antibiotics, and operating tools as I could before grabbing another bag I’d already fully prepared and placed in the locked and hidden supply closet in the back.

“Cassidy! What the fuck? What are you doing??” Will yelled from the same position in the chair on the floor. “Just let me up, come on!”

I ignored his words and grabbed another bag that had everything else I needed; change of clothes, toiletries, another identity and passport. I slung everything over my shoulder and bolted past him.

“CAAAAAASSSS PLEASE!!” Will pleaded as I pulled out a book from what looked like a shelf against the wall filled with medical remedies and diagnosis. A secret narrow passageway opened in the wall and I stepped inside. Never even looking back at Will. I could still hear him screaming my name in agony after the door closed behind me and I executed my backup plan to get safety once again.

****************************************************************************************

“Verd…what do you see?” Verd’s partner, Redman, cautiously stepped into Doctor Hartley’s home behind him.

“Hmmm…nice digs. Quite the art lover.” Verd sniffed around and eyed everything like a hound dog without saying a word. His sharp gray eyes rested on the two glasses sitting on the coffee table. He sniffed them and smelled the strong scent of brandy.

“They were here.” He icely stated before making his way down the hallway. His leathery face never displayed a smile and his job was the life he laid on the line for it. He pulled his damp coat around him and searched every corner for notes, files, paperwork…any clues as to what other locations she could possibly have as a set up.

She was clean and cautious with no traces of evidence, contacts, family photos, or anything personal.

“CAAAASSSSSS!!! PLEASE!!!” He could hear a male’s muffled shouting and searched for where it could be coming from.

Redman’s ears perked up. “Aye, that sounds like our guy.”

Redman was a rookie that was a little too excited about the mission for Verde’s liking but he admired his enthusiasm and how he only went by the book. His face was pudgy and he wasn’t in the best shape of his life to be a thirty-eight year old male in law enforcement, and his greasy black hair was graying and thinning, but Verde knew he was a quick thinker and an exceptional partner in Verde’s opinion. There were only the times when he made the most obvious statements and discoveries, like the one just spoken.

Verd rolled his eyes and made his way to the bedroom in the back, but turned quickly once he realized the sounds came from inside the bathroom. When he flung open the door everything looked normal, but he could hear the cries from behind the mirror over the sink. With great observation, he found a button near the most unbearable feminine products men usually wanted nothing to do with. An entire entryway opened and led to descending stairs and Verd quickly pulled his gun from it’s holster before creeping down to see what the commotion was.

Redman inched behind him and motioned for him to continue, letting him that he had him guarded from behind him.

Verde shook his head in disappointment and he lowered the gun once his eyes rested on Will being stuck on his back andhelplessly tied to a chair.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk…Mr. Fredrickson. What a mess we have here.”

Will’s eyes widened at the sight of them coming towards him.

“Look man…I told you that she’d be too smart for this shit and she’d know wassup when she saw my face! I tried!! I prom-”

“SSSSSSHHHHHHH.” Verde hushed him by gently placing the barrel of his gun to dark full his lips where his finger would be. Will’s eyes widened.

“Did you even get any information? Next moves? Anything we told you to do?”

“No, I mean, she drugged me as soon as I got here!”

Verd shook his head again and removed his hat from a head of graying sandy blonde hair.

“You fought a good fight for the service of your country Mr. Fredrickson…but I mean really…you’re a black, poor class, working mailman. And now you can add dumb ass to the list for actually taking the liquor she offered you. You drugged yourself.” He laughed in disgust. “Plus…Who the fuck would miss you?”

Will tightly closed his eyes. “Wait! WAIT MAN I-“

Verd quickly pulled the trigger, blasting Will’s head and what was left of it all over the floor.

He stared down at him a few moments and Redman looked on in shock but said nothing.

Comes with the job

Verde’s face become perturbed like he realized what he’d just done but began smiling.

“Sheesh…I’m pretty hungry Let’s grab something to eat.” He commented as he faced Redman and walked back up the stairs right past him. Redman shrugged and followed with a sigh. “I guess…when in Rome!”

To be continued….