Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Day I killed my God

                        The Day I killed My God
                                 Sam James
       It is now October, 2019.  I am in the twilight of my years.   Strange how a month can mean something, good or bad, or maybe not.  In 1955, two things happened in October. I read in the paper that James Dean had died, killed in an awful car wreck in California.  I had not particularly known who James Dean was, because I was 15 years old and seldom went to any movies but the Saturday afternoon  matinees at the Paramount theater in our little Podunk town.  And besides, we lived way out in the woods. But my curiosity was aroused: the picture in the paper looked like a pretty hunky guy.
      As it turned out, I didn't have much emotion at that time to waste on a Hollywood guy who got killed, because about two weeks later, my own brother died a suspicious and tragic death we think was murder, but was ruled suicide by the locals. 
      My Mother couldn't bear living out there in the woods where he died is why we moved to town and I had a different kind of life than before. Movies and the movie magazines became a regular part of my life now, and the songs on the radio also made for the making of heroes in a teenage girl's life. I probably was in love with them all, anyways, the black-haired, brown-eyed variety of male icons. (I even had a genuine Italian boy who wrote to me).
       Tony Curtis, James Darren, those were the guys I had eyes for. So my falling for James Dean is a mystery, because he had light hair and wasn't at all my type.   I had already seen the movie "The Wild One" with Marlon Brando, who was hunky as a young man, but somehow his charm escaped my imaginative mind.  Then I saw Rebel Without A Cause, and I was hooked. James Dean it was.  I started a scrapbook. I bought Movie magazines. I collected:--everything that came out on my hero.   It was all the more tragic because in October both of them died, the one who became my hero and the one who was already my hero.  I was my brother's shadow. We trekked everywhere together when we were kids. Then we got older, and things changed, he was 16 and I was 15, and for a brother and sister, somehow a door opens and it's not the same anymore. The other door closes, and there is no getting back in the room again.
     While my mother mourned, I chose James Dean to fill my heart, my mind, my time--and my soul.   This is not to say that guilt didn't enter in, because all too soon it did. By the time I was seventeen the eyes of my mind started to clear..  I was always a girl who loved the Lord Jesus Christ first in my heart, and I was, for some time, beginning to realize that James Dean was filling my life, taking over where only my Lord the Christ belonged. I was worshipping a dead man, a movie star I had never met and would never meet. I was sick over him. In place of my King, another had robbed the throne of my heart.  Another was stealing away my principles, my loyalties. Another was slowly, subtly inching his way under and over and through the walls of protection from wrong, and evil, which had guarded me in my Christian walk with the Lord. For Jesus Christ , my Savior, had always, from the moment He came into my life, been my First Love, the One whom I loved more than any other, even my brother. 
         And now here I was, stealing a magazine on the rack outside the store. I had no money to buy a magazine, but here was the latest: an issue all of James Dean, his life, his movies, his Everything--that enticing picture on the cover. I had no money to buy. I had never stolen anything in my life. I didn't lie. I didn't steal---but I in that moment became a thief.
        I had to have that issue.  Like all thieves, I was scared of being caught, but the moment I chose to take that magazine from the rack and walk away , I was condemned by thievery.   Someone else had stepped into my Lord's place. James Dean had become my God.
        I do not remember exactly when it all came to a head. I did not return the magazine. I did not confess to the grocer who had always trusted me. I did not openly tell anyone what I had done.  I did not even tell my mother, who had raised her daughter never to take anything that was not hers.
        I do know that one day I took out my entire collection, including the magazine, and I asked the Lord to forgive me for displacing Him on the throne of my heart, to forgive the act of thievery and treason, so deep was my distress and sorrow over what I had become and committed.....
       And so shamed.
       I opened the lid on the wood stove and one by one, I burned everything I had meticulously and dishonestly saved of my Hollywood god. I stood and I watched while James Dean went up in smoke.
       That was the day I killed my false god.
        The rightful King still reigns. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019


                                                             by Sam James

      If there's not cats in the house, you can do all kinds of stuff you planned and get it done. You can leave your table with all the sorting in mentally-marked piles, you can leave your book laying where you left it by the stand on the couch, or you can do all sorts of things and be happy it's just the way you left it when you come back.
      If there's cats in the house, when you come back, all the papers are scattered, the book is knocked on the floor, a lamp might be knocked over and there're cats looking up at you and meowing innocently. Mom, we're hungry? Where's dinner?
      If there's not cats in the house, you can let the dogs in without any kind of fuss. If there's  not cats in the house, you can leave the windows open for the fresh air all day long if you want. You can even put your mail in the same place on the table and find it when you get around to looking at it. You can sit down at the computer to eat your snack and no one jumps on your lap right into the food.
      If there're not cats in the house, you have peace and no fleas.  You can get up and take a step without stepping on someone's tail, or without tripping over someone walking slow with tail raised in front of you. (You cannot hurry a cat).  You can open the door and not have to go back to see if you closed it tight, or if it latched, if there're not cats in the house, and they can't go outside.
     You have all kinds of freedom if there's not cats in the house.  You can keep a homemade box lid off your printer  because no one will claim nap space on top of it. You can type without the 25 pounder getting from couch onto your shoulder and gingerly stepping down onto your lap andknldnfnaf and causeing all kinds ojf typos, such as just now.........A flea doesn't jump off his lap into yours.......
      If there's not cats in the house, you can come home and find your light tv where you left it, and your dvd and video player, you can find them all fine on the shelf. But when there's cats in the house.......well, you know.
     If there's not cats in the house, there's no cat fights. (The little three-legged one chasing the big 25 pounder and wrecking the place, ). There's not two of them vieing for the space on your lap when you sit down to read a book and have coffee..... If there's not cats in the house, you get to sleep in your own bed and no one steps on your head in the middle of the night, or no one jumps down on it from the top bunk, or something.
       If there's not cats in the house, cat litter isn't , either. ....all over the beds, the floors, the furniture, if there's not cats in the house.  And you can get up in the morning when you're old and no one is demanding you get up now and feed them, when you'd rather stay in bed and read, or something, or have the maid come in with your cowboy coffee.....then you get up because you want to, actually, because you have to get your own coffee because you haven't got a maid.
       Lots of good things could work well and happen right and save a lot of bad thoughts about what you'd like to do to those darn cats ....if there's no cats in the house.
       You could live in peace. You could come home to an empty house, sit down to read, sort your papers, type your novels, post online, and nothing would ever happen.
        You'd have perfect peace and a silent house, and nobody to blame everything on. You'd have no messes to clean up, no mouths to feed, no one to talk to, no little purrs and raised tails and trusting eyes and little cat talk, no warm bodies on your lap, no little cat feet pattering across the room, no one racing through the house, one telling you in your face it's ok, I'm I am, Mom........
        No one.
        If there's not cats in the house.

Saturday, September 7, 2019


        I awoke to find that I was not up on the edge of a steep roof and afraid to move for fear I would slide off. My legs didn't want to work, there was nothing to hold onto, and the dilemma was that I thought I saw my daughter Sheri down below, which was impossible, because my daughter Sheri had died 6 years ago.   I looked all around the dark tar shingle roof and could find nothing to hold onto. I looked down, and the drop was about ten or twelve feet to the ground, but seemed farther. I thought if I dropped, at my age, I would surely bust something. And I was in enough pain every day as it was.
    I certainly do not know how I even got up on that roof. I was at a site directed by a woman with whom I was in dispute over something, but she was in charge, and there seemed nothing I could do to get my own way in the matter, or get me out of the seemingly hopeless mess I'd somehow gotten into. Since I don't remember now what it was, I can't tell you why or what. You can't detail what you don't know.
       I think a lot of this has to do with the Netflex Canadian series (Heartland) I am currently glued to but increasingly disgusted with.  The women are conniving, selfish, in charge types who can't bear to not have their own way. The young girls are bossy , rude, overbearing. The poor guys in the series haven't a chance. Hence the blonde In-Charger gal in the dream.
        Prior to my being on the roof, I'm not sure of all the events, except that I had been at odds with this gal all during the construction of corrals, poles, building, in my search for something or someone, and I haven't a clue what I was doing on the roof, or why, when the place the house was to stand was under construction, I could even plainly see to the left of myself,  looking down and behind me, the floorboards below and the unfinished framework of the rising home. But I could, plainly, and my heart leaped when I saw the woman next to In-Charger. She looked and talked exactly like Sheri. Well, not exactly, except for her voice. While I was peering over the edge of my dangling legs, attempting to gauge the drop's effect on my useless body, I heard the voices below on the left and off a little behind me. So I peered over the left edge of the roof and saw them. From the top, it was Sheri. Then she turned her face a little, and, while her features were the younger Sheri but a little more stout---not the young, beautiful petite girl I raised, nor the Drug-Destroyed daughter who died---I saw the resemblance was just that--resemblance, but not her. I was seemingly stuck on the roof unable to move or warn her (of what, escapes me). I couldn't move on my perilous seat, not could I speak. 
       I was frozen in time.
        I looked away from them and again over to the peak of the roof, which had been far away. But now I saw that it was close enough for me to turn my body a bit, painfully, and reach a sort of handhold of dried tarred board, or glob, or something, and just as I had decided to risk it,
       I was delivered once again.
       I woke up.  
       I was in my bed, snuggled and warm.
       Mom always said----and thank God for Mom: "It's only a dream, Norma."
       So glad it's only a dream.

Monday, July 8, 2019


     If you like war and spy and intrigue movies, you will have, at some point, read of the covert activities of a special group of mavericks you weren't sure existed.  You will not know who they are when they are actively pursuing their livelihood, and you will only wonder how such men could have done what they had done.
     It has been long enough now, many years into the future, that I feel I can safely write of the two men I knew who were so mysterious as to have been one of these rebels of society.
     One admitted his past, the other remains today as mysterious as he was then. For all I know, they are both gone and unremembered, except by those who knew them after the fact.  One of these men was a neighbor caretaking the owner's house. The other was married, and moved about frequently in the range of small towns, canyons, high mountain deserts and the like. We lived in remote places, farm and ranch country, where the deer and the antelope play.
     You could see for miles, and the stars in the sky at night were zillions, clear and proudly arraying the heavens. I loved it there, and mourned my departure for years after I left, wishing I had never gone. Remembering all the people I left behind and the life I shall never see again.
     The first man I will cover briefly. He was a small man who kept to himself except for a large black dog who was his sole companion.  One day, I borrowed his car to go a mile down the road to the post office. A friend delayed my return as we visited. When I returned, my neighbor was furious, cold and steel, that I had kept his car "more than the allotted time I said I would". That was the first glimpse I had of his mindset, his unforgiving of any lapse in what to him was his own 'protocol'.  The next came when a Sheriff's deputy shot two huge dogs which menaced him as he went to  investigate a disturbance involving children.  Over the fence we talked about this incident. He stated flatly and coldly that if anyone shot his dog, he'd kill him. Children came into the conversation:  "I don't care who it is, kid or not, if he shot my dog, I'd kill him." 
     It was later on in another conversation over the fence that I learned he had been a former mercenary, thus his ruthlessness about life. Now he was only a crippled up, bitter old man with an infected leg, who had lost his only friend:
     Someone had poisoned his dog.
     The dog died, and he had no idea who it was who poisoned him.
     I think his regret was not only that the only thing he loved in life--his dog--was gone--but that he had no idea who had done this, thus he could not kill the person who did.
     The other man, who this is really about, I want to name, but I had better use an alias, although, for all I know, his name--and that of his wife--was an alias. I shall refer to them as Hal and Remmy.
     They became our family friends.
     Remembering that we lived in ranch country, in a very small community, with many miles between towns.   On any given day you'd be coming home or going into town and you'd see, along the road up ahead, that long, sure stride of a proud man swinging his way Shanks Mare along the road, and I would say, "That's got to be Hal," and sure enough, no one else in the country walked so upright and proud as Hal.  He was tall and not an ounce of fat, worldly wise, and Remmy was small, so small you'd think she'd blow away.
      There were great times with them over many subjects, black coffee, laughter, sharing: but never the past from either of them--nothing about children, where they came from, none of that. AND no pictures were ever allowed to be taken of them.  I felt it an honor knowing these two, although I did not always agree with their opinions. Remmy was lively and fun, and no two people ever belonged together more than they did. They had each other's back, they loved and respected one another and seemed to fit together like two peas in a pod, although Hal was clearly the head of the family. Then, even though Hal and Remmy moved on to an even more remote place, we'd stop and see them whenever we passed through.
     Even after my stepfather passed away and Mom and I were on our journeys, we would stop to see them.  The last time we ever saw them Mom and I pulled in to their trailer in the middle of nowhere, but Hal was not home. Remmy was, and she told us he was off on business, but two unsavory-looking young men they had hired to help them were with Remmy. Remmy had recent heart troubles, and was recovering. The two had been hired to help move to a new location up in the mountains, settling once again near  a small town. One especially looked rather shifty-eyed and mean, the other not so dangerous.  As I carried a weapon, I always keep an eye on my surroundings. I remarked to Remmy, "These guys don't look good to me. Isn't Hal worried, leaving you alone here with them?"
     She laughed: "They wouldn't dare. If they so much as touched me, Hal would kill them."
     We knew that to be true.
      In later travels, we stopped off at the small town, inquiring as to their whereabouts, but no one knew anything.
     I do not know where Hal and Remmy are this day, but I will always remember them both fondly. She was my Mom's best friend there, and he was my stepfather's best friend, and I liked them both.
     Wherever they are, I still think of them and hope  the years have been kind to them, though I think, .....probably not.
     Some folks march through your lives and leave a wide trail of memories not forgotten. Others drift along slowly, coming and going, and fade from time and memory.
     Hal and Remmy marched, and I shall never forget this life and the tune they played in our hearts when we knew them.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Which Loved He Best

                                        Random Thoughts
                                While Watching The Skies

       An old cowgirl sits in the rocking chair, watching the clouds scuttle by, thinking all the things you think when you stop to think about it.  Suddenly comes to her a song she wants to sing, so rattling in her old throat, comes a tune a'moseyin' along---A song! A new song!    And here it be.......

                                     Unrequited Love
                                         Sam James  
                    There's a Lonesome Cowgirl
                                    on the range
                        She's watchin' her Cowboy
                                        as he
                              rides out of sight.
                         Her lonely heart is breakin'
                            with deep remorse--
                           Although he said he
                                     loved her
                            He forsook her for
                                    his horse.