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Chapter Four
My Junior Year in High School

God works in some mysterious ways. Much of this year socially and globally was a repeat of the year before. Vietnam. Black dudes against White and Visa Versa. Trying my best to keep my head above water Grade wise. Some how lucking out and getting ceramics again for an elective. I also was introduced to a new environment. That be of the Study Hall. 

This was a lovely invention where one got to sit quietly in a classroom and contemplate why one had screwed up and had to sit in this class room. The first time I went there, I hated it. It was punishment. After that, it wasn't so bad. Gave me time for introspection and allowed me some precious time to get to know me. It's not that I worked real hard at achieving the right to go there. I seemed to find associates that, being a part of their live's, led me much more opportunity to visit than I had hoped or ever dreamed of. 

I'd like to think that if my relationship would have been closer to my parents, I would have informed them of my visits to the Hall. Probably not, though I didn't really have to worry. Life at home was just about as screwy as life every where else. The classic case of my Dad, the total alcoholic. My Mom, the ever faithful enabler. She even wrote a dissertation, quite lengthy at that, on the cause and effect of this very kind of relationship. The whole time apparently in denial and never seeing the forest for the trees. This was written along the path to her Masters degree in Education. A rather lofty Goal that she attained mid way into her Forties. She went and graduated, I dealt with life. It wasn't till years later that I discovered what she had accomplished. That probably displays pretty well just how dysfunctional my Family life was. 

Socially, I was still seeking the elusive female. It got to the point where hanging around some of my friends allowed for closer contact to this elusive quarry than at any other times. Mark had a sister one year older than us. A very nice young lady that I will always remember fondly. Not that anything ever happened sexually, just that she gave me my first kiss out side of family after entering High School from a female. Yes Alex, I'd like 500 dollars on females not in the family after entering high school and giving  first kisses. Then there was Fred. I should have heard the door opening when meeting him. Actually, it should have been quite audible when meeting his sister. Wow. A very striking brunette that was damn near gorgeous in my eyes. Again, one year older, but that was cool. I didn't mind in the least. I somehow managed to find my self either alone with her or would be with her and her Boy Friend a lot. I still wonder how that was, but I didn't question it at all. My Higher power was tired of me spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. They slowly introduced me to this group of people that they were involved with. It sounded almost mystical and strange. They were and probably still are known as Campus Life. I never forget the first time I went there, to one of their meetings. First thing I noticed were females. Cool. Then I was almost disillusioned to see that they were, for the most part, very ordinary looking and acting people. Ok, I can handle this. They aren't going to raise many eyebrows if I happen to be seen in public with them. 

Unfortunately, in the town I was raised in up to this time, one had to worry about such nonsense. That was another strange quirk in my life during this time. My Town, extemely conservative, at times painfully so. Here I was with hair down past my shoulders, listening to heavy metal Rock and Roll and I could literally get my ass kicked for it. Rednecks, white, black and brown not only had survived, but flourished. Hell, they still do. 

Very easily, one could enter bars and saloons, shoot, even whole towns, and could be very easily transported almost 20 or 30 years back in the social agendas therein. It is rather hard to explain in words.  It seemed as though literal time warps in peoples thoughts were present at that time. They fully didn't realize that they were living in an amazing time in American history in the Mid 1970's. They, for all intense and purpose, were still stuck in the 40's or 50's. It is obviously a little hard for me to say what life was truly like back in the forties, but it must have been something like this, or a whole lot worse.

Narrow minded, hateful, resentful, backwards thinking and mighty damn proud of it, thank you very much. Hell yes, I'll kick your ass cause you have long hair, or hell yes, I'll be more than happy to kick your ass cause you have black skin. Not only that, but I got drinking buddies here that will help me in these endeavors. Deal with it. What? ... You listening to that long haired rock and roll crap? Come here, let me kick your ass. You don't want to go to Vietnam and get shot at ... let me kick your ass. 

I have to explain here. Getting one's ass kicked then didn't mean, ok, bend over and I'll shove my boot up your rectum as far as it will go. It meant two, three, or more large individuals using you for a punching bag till they tired of it or you damn near quit breathing. Or till the Cops showed up and they were pulled off of you. I never got to experience one of those, thank God, but came way too close many times. Ah, Life. I can look back on it now and almost laugh. Not quite, but almost.
So, meeting with Campus Life, at least outwardly, would probably have not gotten my behind damaged. Looking back, I am thinking that they had to be a little cautious of just who they let into their inner circle. This wasn't mainstream religious thinking that they were portraying. It was something different. I didn't attend very many of their meetings. It just wasn't quite my cup of tea. It was though, a big step forward in my Spiritual Journey. After attending a few of the meetings and them discussing with me some of their viewpoints, I was asked if I wanted to become a Born Again Christian. I was already a Methodist, although I had never been baptized as such. I didn't see any harm in it. So one evening in front of about 30 or 40 people, including Fred's sister, I declared that I would , indeed, take Jesus Christ as My Lord and Savior and was thus declared a Born Again Christian. It seemed like they applauded and I was congratulated by many of the folk there. I didn't really feel any different, but felt as though I could move on past this now.

It was about this time, that the voice came back to me again. This time though, I was much more receptive and rather curious. It brought back the fond, yet strange memories of me laying in bed contemplating the meaning and understanding of those voices, those angry, odd voices. So I started to see if indeed this was a two way street.

I asked the voice a question.

It answered me.

Whoa. Hold on here. What was that?

I asked a question again of it.

It answered me again.

Yeah right. I'm just making this up in my head. For I wasn't hearing this with my ears. I was "hearing" this in the top of my head. But it was the same tone, the same meter, the same everything as one of the voices I had heard ever so long a go. It felt so comforting, yet very odd. Here I was supposedly talking to a ... what? What was I talking to. I had read and heard of ghost stories. I watched movies that were scary, where dead things came back to life. That was Hollywood. Make believe. Fantasy land. Happening to other people. Stories. Fables. Not real. But yet ...

I asked if it had a name, this voice. It was hard to hear and I had to concentrate pretty hard. In fact I had to ask it many times to make sure I had "heard" It correctly. The answer I kept getting was Ishtar. 


"Yes" was the reply.

I'm thinking, ok this is some kind of weird joke. There had been a movie that had gone through all kinds of publicity, then flopped badly by the same name. Here I was thinking that someone would actually name themselves after a flop movie. God I was naive.

"So let me get this straight. Your named after a bad movie?"


"But your name is Ishtar, right?"

"Yes" in that same tone, same meter of voice. Calm and patient.

"Ok, Ishtar." Acceptance slowly crept in. Here I was "talking" to a voice named Ishtar. There wasn't an audible sound made during this exchange, except for the slight giggle coming from me. Apparently that movie really stunk, but if He wanted to stick by that name, then so be it. The reason I say He,  that was the feeling I got. Of strength and masculinity. There didn't seem to be any weakness I could detect and it seemed rather knowledgeable. It was putting up with me, which was cool. I could handle this, I think. There had to be a reason for this, I thought. I had heard that God doesn't give you any more than you can handle. It just hoped that was a correct statement, because this was adding to my overflowing cup called life. Ishtar. What a trip.
Mark had come over one night to sleep over. Usually during these times, sleeping is what we did the least of. What usually took place was talking. Lots of talking. This one time wasn't much different than other nights we had spent together. We would ask each other about the stars and the heavens and God and not get many answers. Except, this night I had something brand new to talk to Mark about and prayed that I would be able to figure out how to tell Mark about Ishtar. 

It seems like, I first told him about when I would lay down for those naps many moon ago, and the voices I heard. I then explained that I recently had been visited by one of the voices again. I am pretty sure I told him the name, because I remember saying something about the movie by the same name. He took it all in stride. Thank God. One thing I have always been so very grateful for and probably haven't expressed to him nearly enough is just how important his acceptance of every thing I have been through has meant to me. Been an absolute life saver at times. Then again, I guess that is what a best friend does.

Chapter 5

A lot happened in the next few years. I graduated from high school, didn't get drafted, got married instead a little later. Loved life and my new Wife. Worked. One of the many different careers I have got to work in was out in the Oilfields.

I had a very good partner in life at the time try to tell me about what it was he was doing for a living. It had to do with working on a Production Oil Rig and involved many lengths of pipe. For some reason, I never put the word Oil and Pipes together and never imagined this pipe going into the ground. Duh. Here I was thinking that this pipe was laying on the ground. I was soon to find out how wrong I was.

This partner managed to get me a job with his crew. I was to be making bunches of money, which was very cool. He just forgot to mention why I was to be paid as well as I was. Working in the oilfields can be rather tricky at times, if not down right dangerous. I remember a temporary job I had, where I was being a welders helper in the Oil Patch. As we approached the job site in the pickup, all I saw was a mound of Earth. I was then handed a shovel and told to climb carefully down into this freshly dug hole. This hole was probably 15 feet deep and with another 5 or 6 feet of earth piled around part of it .. well not a good place to be if you had a fear of being buried alive. Out of this hole, ran a good size pipe that continued through the hole and reentered the earth on the other side. I got down near to the welder as he stared cutting on this pie. As he's cutting with a gas cutting torch, He's telling me that this is an abandoned Gasoline main. There is going to be about 30 seconds of water as a header before we reach the gas. What I was to do, was try to put out any fire that may result from the Gas cutting torch coming in contact with the flowing Gasoline from the Pipe. I'm thinking that a shovel might not be the best defense against such a catastrophe, but just briefly. He is just about all the way around the pipe when water starts coming out of this large pipe. I'm intently staring at the ground near the ever expanding puddle to see any flames.  I then caught just the faint glimmer of flames. I started shoveling dirt on to the wet earth. The faint glimmer became a tad bit more pronounced, so I started shoveling ever faster. Just about this time I hear someone yell for me to get out of the hole. I'm still shoveling like crazy and then I hear someone tell me in no uncertain terms to climb out of that Fu**ing hole, now! 

Fine. I wasn't gaining any ground on that stupid fire anyway, with still more gasoline pouring out of the Pipe. I climbed out of the hole and looked back. There, some 10 feet above my head, out of the hole, were flames. So all in all, the flames were now some 20 to 25 feet high and I had been down right next to that flaming inferno. Glad someone was watching over me.

I graduated from being a roustabout in the oilfields to working on that production rig. I learned a great deal out in the Oilfield. The last job that I had in the Oilfields involved working on a production rig. This meant that I had to travel one hour to work one way.  The day after my birthday, my car that I used to travel to the yard where my work day began, was hit severely.  When the smoke had cleared, the passenger side tire on the front end was laying flat on the ground.  It was still connected to my car. Obviously, my fairly dependable mode of transportation was no longer thus.

I was forced to rely on the generosity of fellow workers to make it to work. The very first associate that I rode with, made it three-quarters of the way to work.  He somehow managed to get a flat tire, leaving us stranded on the side of the road.  This mostly was due to the fact that he did not have a spare tire in his car.  
Luckily though, the truck that actually was to take us to the production rig had to drive past this location where we were stranded.  This was fortunate, due to the fact that at around ten o'clock, at night there wasn't much traffic on that road.  I don't remember whether we saw the truck or the truck saw us, but they stopped and picked us up.  I was able to make it to work.

The next night I had arranged to catch a ride with another associate.  He too, also managed to receive a flat tire at just about the exact same spot as my previous ride.  He gingerly pulled over to the side of the road swearing.  We got out of the car and inspected his spare tire.  This spare tire had no air in it and was totally useless. 

I had spent much time looking skyward at night, fascinated with the stars and the heavens above.  I had spent some time praying to my higher power. Before this night though, there were a few times that I had just talked to my higher power.  This night was an exception, I looked skyward and had the opportunity to say aloud "What is going on?"  I had roughly one hour to wait before the yard truck came along and picked me up again. This gave me ample time to reflect on my peculiar situation. The guys in the truck gave me a hard time for being stuck again in the same spot.  There wasn't much I could say. 

The very next night, I rode to work with a third individual.  He actually worked on the same rig as I and we were fairly good friends.  There was a lot for both of us to talk about.  I should have asked him before starting out how his spare tire was.  As it turned out, less than one hundred yards from where I had been stopped the previous two nights, I found myself again stuck on the side of the road.  He also had a flat tire and his spare as well, was useless.  I again looked skyward and asked "What is going on?"  I didn't receive my answer right then.  This night though, as I worked in earnest on the production rig, I thought long and hard about the last three nights and how it was that I was left stranded on the side of the road in that particular fashion.

What I ended up doing shortly after that night, was to give up the big bucks and danger at the oilfields and enter into training for a totally different occupation: Cooking. Cooking didn't pay nearly as well as the previous career, but it turned out to be a tremendous creative outlet. I enjoyed learning the skills necessary, kinda felt good being back in a classroom setting of sorts. All the training was of a hands on approach.
One thing that happened during this training, was that my father passed away. He and I fought a great deal during my teen years, as I guess a lot of teenage children and their parents tend to do. Mine was a little more severe than most, though. My father would usually be very drunk when the arguments came about. He usually would slur his words when he was in this state of intoxication. It was hard to understand him, and the least little thing would set him off, such as me walking in the room and breathing. At least, that is what it seemed, at times. 

I had the opportunity to make peace with him just prior to his passing. It took a great weight off my shoulders and shall be forever grateful for the opportunity to have been able to have done such. I had never experienced death this up close and personal before, and grieving for me was not something I was akin too. After his funeral, I would go to sleep and a wake every bit as tired as when I went to bed. I also had no appetite, which was very rare for me. I had the chance to take advantage of the college psychiatrist. He explained to me that I was just experiencing grief and thanked him. Luckily, this has been the one and only time I have ever needed the services of such an individual.
Time went on. I stayed with cooking for quite a while. Was then and apparently still is, the one true occupation where I could find work easily. I had picked up a six string electric Guitar back as a Junior in High school. The Guitar seems, as close as I can find out, to be a Mosrite copy. It's a lovely semi hollow body with a couple of humbucking pickups I had added. Has lots of really neat overtones and feedbacks, which I just love. I picked up a 200 watt Fender Pro Reverb Amp right after I left High School. Added a Waa Waa pedal, a couple of other "toys", and I was happy as could be. I'll never forget the night when I was practicing and a tune came into my head. I then went and was able to get the tune to come out my Amp. Hot damn. After years of struggling with that thing, I think I had finally started to get it figured out. Of course, I still learn something on that guitar every time I pick it up. Over the years I kept practicing on my Guitar.

Then I met a drummer. By now I was conversing with Ishtar much easier. I didn't have to focus nearly so hard to "hear" him. The drummer and I were pretty good associates, and at one point thought we might actually become friends. I told my Wife of this and she informed me that I was wrong. He wasn't a friend, just an associate. I argued with her, told her she was wrong. "You'll see" I told her. 
George, the drummer, had invited me over to his house at times. One time I was talking to his girlfriend and him, when they brought up the fact that some weird goings on were taking place in the house. I didn't think much of it at first. The next time I went over there . They revealed a little more of the disturbing, strange behavior that was taking place in the house. It was going from being cute to being bothersome. It wasn't dangerous or down right scary, yet. I listened and they talked. It was getting to be on the verge of upsetting for the girlfriend, because the house they were in and the neighbor hood it was located in wasn't the best part of town. What was happening was that she would get knocks on the door. When answered, none would be there. Perfume would get spilled, and she didn't have a lot of money to keep going out and buying more. But the knocks on the door really bothered her. 
I though of Ishtar and later asked if he thought there was anything he could do. He told me he didn't know, that he would try to find out exactly what was going on. He gave me the name of the spirit, which I passed on to them, after telling them of Ishtar. George got quite a kick out the spirit's name. I don't know if he thought I was making it up or not. The girlfriend seemed very interested and wanted to know if we might be able to remove the spirt from their home.

Humm. I sure the heck didn't know how to do such a thing and it seemed that Ishtar didn't either. Ishtar tried to talk to the spirit, but the spirit was apparently not willing to be so understanding. It apparently was having fun with the two humans and was wanting to stay. Ishtar then developed a way of controlling the thing by brute force, as it was, and removing it to a different local. This took care of the problem, and the human inhabitants were thus informed. I received a half hearted thank you, for I don't think they believed the problem was solved. I didn't spend much more time with them, but never heard of any more problems arising either. Ishtar assured me that their annoyance had been resolved. What I noticed also, was that my wife was absolutely correct about her intuition. The guy ended up screwing me out of 50 bucks.

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