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Authors: R.W. Jones

Reinventing Mike Lake

BOOK: Reinventing Mike Lake
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Reinventing Mike Lake

By R.W. Jones







Reinventing Mike Lake

Copyright: R.W. Jones

Publisher: Endless String

Published: June 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9856431-0-2

The right of R.W. Jones to be identified as author of this Work has been asserted by his in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.


All rights reserved.  This book may not be reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without written permission from the author.







To: Jessica




Table of Contents

About the Author



              People tend to do pretty drastic things when they come to the conclusion that there is nothing left to fear.  I wasn’t always like that, and I still may not be like that at all.  With her gone, something changed.  An emptiness that I never knew possible came through me like a train you never see coming, and I never saw it coming.

              At first you don’t believe it; nobody ever believes it when it shows up at their front door.  From the start it didn’t look good.  She hung on for almost a year, but from the two month period on, she wasn’t herself.  At times I accepted it, and other times I denied it.  When it finally happened, I denied it. 

              There were so many dreams we never accomplished.  Complacency is a death in itself.  We never had kids, because when we decided it was time, we learned it was too late.  We never had a house to call our own, instead renting from a family friend at a generous price.  The vacations were fun, but not having children or owning a house are two things that we considered failed dreams.  We never talked about it, but we both felt it.

              The first thing I did was lay there, then I laid some more, and followed that up with more lying.  Walking to the bathroom was the extent of my physical activity.  I turned on the television, then turned to video games, and eventually started to read.  I took myself off the radar screen I had never been on much to begin with. 

              Nearly a year passed, and I finally started to come around.  By “come around” I mean I got out of bed for longer than a few minutes at a time.  I started to write again because I felt like that’s what I should be doing.

              I walked my dog, Bahama, a lot.  After close to a year of immobility, we both needed the exercise.  Luckily for Bahama she had my parents’ daily visits to look forward to for exercise and interaction, but it wasn’t enough.  As Bahama and I began to slim down, I felt even better, though I suspect the sunlight had as much to do with my turnaround as did losing a few pounds.

              Even though a year had gone by, it never dawned on me I was living on my own.  In reality I wasn’t living at all.  My parents brought me food, did my laundry, and cleaned my house.  I can’t imagine they enjoyed seeing their only son in that situation, but at the time that’s the only situation I wanted to be in.  They didn’t press me to snap out of it.  I was free to let my grief go wherever it wanted to go.  I knew even in the depths of the darkest parts and feelings of my grief that if things were getting out of control, my parents would have stepped in.

              It was the reading that helped more than anything.  At first, nothing inspired me, but then I started reading stories about people who had taken chances.  The stories about college kids hiking through European countries were all well and good, but I was most interested in the adventures of those down and out like me.  The stories about people who set out with little – or better yet – no plans stirred something inside me the most.  I began getting goosebumps when I read their stories, showing more life than I had in months.  I’m sure some of the stories were fabricated, but as a former storyteller I hardly cared.  More importantly, something inside me was stirring.

              Even at my happiest times, I’ve always had a nagging feeling that I was missing something.  I had never taken my great adventure, and from the comment boxes of the stories I was reading online, I wasn’t the only one.  Most comments read something like the following: “I enjoy your story so much and wish I could do something like it, but X, Y, and Z has kept me from doing so.”  X, Y, and even Z were sometimes valid points, but more often than not they seemed like an excuse or fear of the unknown.  As someone who never lived farther away than ten minutes from my parents, I could relate.  During my year of sulking, my greatest adventure was walking one of the small loop trails that surrounded our house.

              But it was on those fifteen-minute walks that I began fantasizing about a different kind of life, one with no restraints, rhyme, or reason.  I often pictured Bahama and me just continuing our walk past the confines of the trail, the neighborhood, the city, the state, and beyond.  In those walking daydreams I imagined I wouldn’t tell anyone, I would just leave.  But I always had the feeling that I wouldn’t be able to do it like that.  Mainly, I wouldn’t want to worry my family and friends.  I thought they would think I had done something drastic.  Looking back and remembering my less than fragile state of mind during this time, I can’t say I would have blamed them for thinking the worst had I just disappeared.  I’m glad that I kept my parents’ feelings in consideration even while feeling my lowest.  Still the fantasies continued, and eventually they became all-consuming. 

              From the time I was really young – maybe middle school – I always had an issue with what society deemed normal.  The routine of everyone doing the same thing every day was always mind boggling to me.  By “the same,” I mean the 9 to 5, going to bed at the same time, going to college to get that 9 to 5, eating at the same time every day.  I didn’t know how to put it into words back then, and I still don’t know how to for the most part, but I just knew that I wanted to eat when I was hungry, sleep when I was tired, and work when I wanted to work.  I didn’t want a clock on the wall to dictate what I did.  This way of thinking may suggest that I was a nightmare for teachers and to my parents, but I wasn’t.  Like so much else, I usually kept these thoughts in my head and fell in line with everyone else.  Other than becoming a writer, I did very little in my life to back up the thoughts I thought of so much during my life. 

              I don’t remember what particular story I read that brought me over the edge, but one night I knew I was going to do it.  I can only imagine my parents’ surprise when exactly one year after the day my wife died I left a note on my kitchen table that read:


“Dear Mom and Dad,


Bahama and I went on a little longer walk than usual.  We will call when we get to where we are going.






              My parents, being the insightful people they are, surely noticed that my SUV was missing from the garage, so they knew in short order that our walk was actually a drive.  Regardless, I am sure that my mode of transportation was hardly their main concern when they noticed Bahama and I had left the house in quick fashion.  While the topic of suicide had never been discussed between my parents and me, I knew my parents were concerned that was a route I could pursue.

              One night after dinner at their house during my year of grieving, I went into my old room, now the den, intending to check my e-mail.  Instead I was greeted with a Google web search one of my parents, presumably my mother, had recently done.  In the search box was “what to do if you expect someone could commit suicide.”  She had 7,840,000 websites to help her answer that question, according to the search result, yet the issue had never come up between us.  Forgetting about my e-mail, I walked out of the room, kissed my mom goodnight, and told her, “Don’t worry; I would never do that to you.”  She looked at me, and smiled.  Despite this moment – one I thought had cleared up any concern my mother may have – I knew it would be in the best interest of everyone if I called her soon and let her know I was okay.  I wanted to wait until I had an idea of exactly what I was doing before I called them. 

              About the only thing I knew was that the car was heading south.  Bahama’s 20-pound frame was sitting on the console between the driver and passenger side seats, performing her duties as co-pilot.  I thought to ask her where we were going.  The last time I had this profile view of Bahama, my wife was right on the other side.  I knew that leaving the house could bring a whirlwind of emotions with it, but I still wasn’t prepared for the thoughts every memory could elicit. 

              At the same time we hit the state line of North Carolina, I instantly remembered that I wasn’t the only one in my family that had endured a major period of pain and grieving.  Just eight months ago, my sister Chloe saw her own marriage end suddenly.  Unfortunately, I lost count on the number of years Chloe and her husband Richard had been married because my sister and I had been estranged for years, mostly because of Richard.  After I heard the news of their divorce, I called Chloe offering an apology, but she simply said, “It’s what you all wanted anyway.”  She then hung up the receiver with a thud. 

              I learned shortly after that phone call that the last thing Richard has ever said to Chloe and their 6-year old daughter Cassidy was, “I hope I never see you two sluts again.”  In the months since, Richard had made no attempt to see his daughter.  My mom heard Richard was living on a friend’s couch in Tennessee, but she wasn’t really sure.  Being waist deep in my own grieving, I didn’t think to offer condolences to Chloe.  Plus, she was right, it is what we wanted, but we didn’t want it to happen that way.  My mom’s plate was full dealing with both of our mourning periods while knowing that her son and daughter didn’t talk to each other. 

BOOK: Reinventing Mike Lake
10.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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