Archive for January, 2008

What this IS about…

January 29, 2008

drawing by-jay herron
Originally uploaded by jayfherron

The details of my life are chronicled here-while some are busy trying to steal others identities,I am offering mine right out in the open.
I am a male rape survivor-although,it took me a long long time to realize that I AM a survivor.

One who reads this may only search back and the entire story is written out-but in the sake of someone just coming into this…I enlisted in the U S Navy at age 17-began active duty (went to boot camp) only days after my 18th birthday. In less than five months I will end up in a detention barracks…for merely nothing…and in the night I was attacked-beaten up and raped.
I can go into this story a hundred times a hundred here…as I said-it is written all these entrys.
My military career ended 7 months after I entered. I say career-because the United States Navy had thier man….all be it,at the time I was just a skinny boy-but I had gotten through boot camp and saw enough to stretch my heart to love the Navy.
My oldest brother and I were stationed together-that was my idea…it turned out to be the worst idea. My brother it seems might have been more intsrumental for my being in barracks D then no one will ever really know-he died five or six years ago,so knowing ‘how much’ went with him.

Right around the last week of February 1970 I was woken up around 0400 in the morning and marched around a few buildings and after signing a ream of papers I was given an HONORABLE DISCHARGE….and sent home. (…to closed doors)
Up to that point I had been told I was faceing five years in prison…by that point I become the victim so many times that I submitted to the assaults-I had been told to get used to it…I had thought that if I was facing five years more of this-then…I had no other choices. I have never been the same since.

This went quietly….if you could describe the turmiol inside of me as quiet….this went quietly with me throughout my life.
I cannot tell completely everything that has been distorted and destroyed by the events of my life in barracks D. I can tell you this-my life has been a jagged run,living on the edge-ashamed and guilty that I did not serve my country well.
Does that sound old fashioned?
Well,I can’t change that-because in my era of boyhood…that is what we were taught-the apple pie of American life-the freedoms-heros fought for us…we were taught to want to serve our country and protect our flag and to leave no comrad behind.
I saw big dreams,living on board ship…the USS Vulcan AR-5.
Those dreams were busted up by the jealousy of my brother-and finalized by the men of barracks D.

Then and now-when  a service person is discharged from the military-they recieve a form DD214.
The DD214 is the official discharge paper-every veteran good or bad recieves a DD214. It is almost as good as a second birth certificate-but it tells more about the baby.
On line 11c of our form DD214 under the headline-reason and authority- there is a number…mine is: 3420220 -384- !! the number
-384- has its distinguised space. It tells a lot about me,according to the military….it says I was deemed a drug user; it has haunted me all of my life.

When I was first taken into barracks D-the very first night…and I was handed my bedding by a man-the first encounter I ever had in my life with an enfemminant man….his comment to me lasts in my ears !!
“welcome to barracks D…drugs,drunks…and degenerates” in a lispy voice of someone trying to imitate a female.
…and within a second I was hearing the iron mesh gate clink behind me and was taking in the scene of men in front of me and absorbing the comment just made.

The years after my discharge-they are all in this mess of my life…it all went along and got to this point.

A few years ago I was contacted by the Veterans Administration Hospital in Gainesville Florida regarding a letter I had written. The letter was out of frustration of the VA’s answer to my being asked if I was ever depressed…yes,much of the time!
They gave me pills…that was all-just take these.
I tried them and they made me feel like I was on mesculine…yes,I know what mesculine feels like.
I told the clinic tech that on our first meeting-I told her I dumped the pills in the toilet-a response of great alarm….they gave me nore pills.
I dumped them out….and wrote the letter explaining the battle I had to over come drinking and drugs to see things straight,and the VA wants me to go back on drugs?? To forget?? …or,feel better about the horror??
Months went by after I wrote the letter…and then I was contacted to join the PTSD program at the VA…and found an island-Charlotte B.,the first only person who ever heard me…and believed.

The continual story of this life unfolds through out this past year and half of writing this down.
No ones fault but the ignorants…the ingnorant being the first ‘Veterans Affairs’ service advocate I ever met-a man employed by the county (Levy County) I live in in Florida….he made comments about not ever realizing “homosexuals had a reason to rape another”???
This was to be my advocate?
He made other remarks that my answer almost seemed to disappoint him….NO, my attackers WERE NOT black.
This is why I am writing all of these stories…all true stories,like I said earlier-an offer of an identity…what else can I lose?

These comments were made by an official in place to aid and assist a veteran to seek compensation for injury in the line of duty…my injury was not in his eyes in the line of duty-and so I became a victim again by his stupid assumptions.
It my mind-these ‘veterans advocates’ may be the same all across the country….ignorant of a ‘third wound’ possible while service….rape and sexual assault!

I can offer up numbers-but the numbers are void if no one pays attention that assaults like this happen-there is no difference the uniform…the rank…the status of persons,man and woman-this happens. And like the reported rape of a young U S Marine-Maria Lauterbach…because of her murder-murdered by the U S Marine that raped her…and was reported by her-and like many others…many many others,it was shoved under a stack of papers and rejected and the result is horrific…a young woman guilty of nothing but by being a victim she pays this price,one the military wishes would go away.

What this IS about…to point out the truth as best I can from my perspective.
I would have been better off I suppose if I had taken the pills and done what the VA hospital wanted me to do…become a zombee and forget all about it-but then,none of this would have started. It has kind of back fired….I am a silent guy,but the stupidest remarks made me angry and this is the only way I know to speak about it and reach others in hope they too will speak out about it…because the system is so wrong-the treatment is so wrong….one murdered victim-a young lady-a daughter in service to her country.
That is wrong.
That IS what this is about…to bring attention to as many as one can reach with the use of a computer-that young service men and woman are not exempt from crime (as much as they are not exempt from being sexually assaulted) just because they are in the ranks of the military-they deserve better protection and care!
May Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child…yes,a second victim-an innocent victim…may they rest in peace.

a bohemian lifestyle

January 26, 2008


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

Some who know me refer to this room I am sitting in as the cave. It leaks like one-so it must be close to so.
I realize the task of living like this is geting old because I am getting older and my body is reacting to things like the cold and the damp less willing than ever-impatience mingled with guilt to be in this frame of mind about it….there are genuine folks in worse shape than I am.
It did’nt bother me as much back when I could live here-and did-with out electricity. I managed that very well-once for two years straight…and then came home one day and found it turned on-someone I knew thought ws a bright idea. It really was’nt.
When the power is off the well quits-and then when the power is restored the well starts back up but does’nt pump anything (one has to reprime the well pipe) so the motor runs…and runs and runs-because theres no pressure to tell the switch to turn it off.
So my pump motor ran so long it burnt out and had to be replaced. Cost more than what it cost to the lights back on.
Back then I had resource for water and could keep a series of drums filled…it all worked very well-a little more work,but the result is that you appreciate more the value of water when you have to fill 5 gallon jugs and transport them to fill 55 gallon drums-this repeatedly every few days. You learn quick.
This place was beat up when I moved it here in 1989-a mobile home already 20 years old and now its…wow, almost 40. No wonder it leaks. I just now did the math…
It is still a bohemian lifestyle.
I live surrounded by spiders. A spider is an interesting creature to share a house with. They are quiet-private…but a tad dirty from the countless webs they build across the edge of the cieling and along the way of the walls.
When its damp here in Florida and my envelopes won’t seal because the glue melted off-I can scrape the cieling and gather enough web to seal it shut…the stuff is that sticky. I have enough to harvest the webs every few weeks-if only there was a larger need for spider webs..
Here – were I sit to type – dwell these teeny tiny spiders about the size af a lentle-every once in a while one will be floating down in front of me on a strand of web…or one will be walking by on the desk-they never seem to get the news that the human will place his finger fatally on them-mostly because there is enough to spare.
The spider in the photograph is called a ‘banana spider’. I do not exactly why-bananas do grow here…but not as well as they do down further south. If you look close enough down at the right of the spiders leg-you will see a smaller spider.
That is the male banana spider.
They are quite a pair.
The webs are amazing. They span huge distances in spider size-some as much as 6 to 8 feet in distance between trees-here, Oak trees. One can be walking through the woods and bammo…right into a banana spiders web.
The web is interesting….it too is very sticky,but you can also feel a slight numbness from a seditive the spider ejects onto the web to stun its prey. Its really facinating…once you get over the panic that you just walked into a web.
What else is interesting ?…it can be as hard a freeze a person could experience….and theres the spider,not even fazed. And the roaches…even last night-as cold as it was…I went into the bathroom-and there they were.
Now it is an interesting combination-because I know a spider will enjoy the capture of a good roach every once in a while-so my house is not over run by cockaroaches…not at all. Just a few in the bathroom-mostly,and so I believe the ecological balance takes care of one another.
In my shower is a window-and like all the windows…it stays open all year round. Usually-above the shower on the wall – is a ‘mud daubers’ nest. I’ve been in the shower and had the winged creatures fly slowly in the window and seem to stare at me fluttering there like a small helicopter for a moment before procedeing to the construction underway.
The mud dauber builds this nest of small cocoon type vessels out of a mud they have converted in some way or the other…and in the hotel they build they lay thier eggs and each little space has its provision of one paralized spider. You can actually break the cocoon open and see the spider with its limited movement-but it is moving and alive and waiting to be eaten by the newly formed baby mud dauber.
For those of you who are in a mystery about what a mud dauber is…its sort of like a huge wasp-but fairly harmless….unless you are a spider.
So-there is an eco-system at work here in my house.

I often think about what that old monk told me once upon a time. I guess he was an old monk-a buddist…an old oriental man who seemed to be a wise man and great thinker.
I was at a rock and roll festival when I met him-this back in the 1970’s…he heard me talking about how I owned five acres. He told me I owned nothing at all…and we kind of argued about that for a while.
Later that night I had stepped off in the woods to pee and I was looking at the stars-and this old monk comes up out of the darkness and points up at the stars and says…all of them are yours-you own them…no one can take them away,they are always yours.
The whole thing confused me-heck,I was young and dumb and most likely drunk…but the impression never went away-what the old monk said was truth.
I work my butt off trying to keep the roof from leaking or tending to some other patch or brace to hold the house together.
I jump in the truck and go the lumber yard 25 miles away to buy supplies-not very often…but it has to be sometimes.
And the mud dauber flies in through the window with its mystery mud and pays me no attention-no care about me at all…and it builds its cocoon right in front of me.
It does’nt go to Lowe’s…it has no idea there is a light bill-nor does it care the roof sometimes leaks.
Same with the spiders…and the cock-a-roaches,they are here regardless.
It makes me think about what that old monk said-to live in the world with no possessions but yet have ownership of things no rich man can buy…but they are equally his as yours.
You can look up into the blue sky at the clouds all white and majestic and colored by the sun…and they are yours for as far as you can see-same with the stars…the same with anything your senses can feel and your ears can hear and your mind retains. It belongs to you,and it cost nothing.
Maybe I’m okay in this cave after all…in my bohemian lifestyle.

Those of Valor….

January 19, 2008

a view at Dover AFB Delaware
Originally uploaded by jayfherron

Courage and boldness in battle. In latin-to be strong.

When I was a kid coming up in the 1950’s-we were taught that men in uniform are men to respect.
It was a bit confusing as a kid to think of woman being anything else but our mothers-but the fact is…woman have been in battles since the time of the first wars.
So valor is something a woman can have as equally as a man.
It became more confusing after my family moved to the Washington DC area.
There respect for our men and woman in battle should have been paramount to anything else-but what I learned there was the wrongs of Viet Nam and the unfairness war can be to those from lessor regions and lives.
How often my family would watch the evening news and we would see the daily dead from Viet Nam lined on the tarmac at Dover AFB where our fallen first come for thier journey home.
They would line the caskets up all flag draped as we see in this photograph and play the Navy hymn-a small ceromony would take place in respect.
(I am thankful for the person who took this photo-I apologize for using it with out your permission,I hope you will accept)

Then on television we would see the newest of the civil rights movement in Alabama and Mississipi…and you can surely understand the confusion of it all because when they showed those caskets they followed with the photos of the days fallen…there were black men and there were white men. It was a mixed up thing.
In one moment the news showed those young men-mostly boys in heart…and then we saw the blasts of fire hoses pushing human people away from trying to get respect for who they are….people of valor. I remember so vividly seeing the policemen from Montgomery with thier huge German Shepard dogs-the people being chased down in all directions and the white men beating the black people-woman or men…it did not seem to matter.
I was an odd contrast.
As kids we watched Vic Morrow (tv show-Combat) as tough old Sgt.Saunders fight off the nazis and relieve these poor peasant towns of the nazi scourge…the way those nazis kept people in order with thier German Shepard dogs. It seemed all the same…those policeman with thier vicious dogs chasing American people.

I’m a not a war person. I wish this one would end-I wish it never was….but it is happening just as I’m sitting here.
It’s different from then back during the Viet Nam days. Then when you were traveling where ever you were you saw uniforms of sailors and Marines and Army and all of military services everywhere. If you were at the airport today you would notice the difference if you had lived in the era I speak of.
And like I said-pictures like this were not hidden then like they are today. We don’t have a moment of silence on television for these young men and woman as we did back then…it is business as usual.
I wonder why?

When I was a teenager-I guess around age 15,my church youth group got in a van and drove to the District (for those who do not know-locals call DC the Distrcit) and found a place to park the van and we joined herds of people pressing towards the capital. There at the capital were hundreds and hundreds of people-blacks and whites all following Reverend Abernathey and others in a circle around that massive building. If my family knew my butt would have found reason-they would not have approved.
That day is one of my grandest memories-being a part of something so giant and purposeful…historic.
It just about kills me when I go to the convienience store in the small town near where I live and see the great grand sons-decendants of families that I know saw some of the hardest times as slaves and as share croppers and who saw nothing but work from daylight to twilight at thankless jobs and for thankless wages…and these kids hang at the store with thier left hand gripping the top of thier pants trying to hold them up and yet keep them low enough to see the designer underwear they have on-a ball cap propped sideways on the top of thier heads and expensive sport shoes that they keep untied and with a head empty of any of the idea of what it took thier grandparents and elders to earase the ‘step and fetch it’ (see Stepin’ Fetchit’ in -he was an actor) images America had of African Americans and the battle for the right to merely stand around a store.
It is’nt just young black men…I see the sons of guys that we used to refer to as ‘rednecks’ down here in the south-born with cowboy boots on,and dressing like cartoon characters.

I don’t know where I’m going with this…its just that I can remember those days and those events-even as a boy our family panicked when Martin Luther King came to Washington DC and gave that famous speech…I have a dream! The African American community moved to the great Reflecting Pool between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial and set up a town-Reserection City….for freedom. My grandparents were sure the nation would be over run with ….well,my grandparents had such a terrible bigoted name for people-they were scared.
This whole thing today….the young men standing there gripping the waist of thier pants-just like we tried to look oddly to those who saw us when we became hippies-but we had a movement,and we went into battle for what was right and against what was wrong-
It should bother a lot of us.
I aint into this war-theres not much of any one who I know has a fever for it….but I think its sad we don’t see those of valor and respect them the way they should be.

There is a medal for men and woman who achieve valor in the battlefield-those who go an additional five steps when the going is so tremendously bad…those who are considered heros because of the bravery they showed for aiding thier fellow soldier before thinking of themself.
But – every man and woman we have in the armed forces deserve more than what we show them lately….
They are people of Valor.

quitting again !

January 16, 2008

the worse scene
Originally uploaded by jayfherron

Quitting Again…
open another farewell beer
and tell this one goodbye
how many is this this year?
another farewell lie

oh you drunken waste
just give me one more drink
I just need just
one more taste,and lots of time to think

think of what
you’ve thought it all
you’re trying to forget
you’ve drunk a bottle miles tall
and have nt finished yet

The complications of eluding dependence of substances and alcohol have troubled me most of my adult life.
I do proudly confess that I fall subject to about a six pack of beer a week…proudly because it is a far cry from the twelve pack a day I once drank .
I usually become full and sleepy after three-now a days…but I can recall so very many times trying to believe I could drive and manage my way home-this usually after one of those twelve packs I mentioned.
Drinking was not the only sack of stones that kept sinking me…I troubled for a long few years of cocaine addiction-so badly that after I quit I could see a certain car that looked like my former dealers car and just the site of that automobile would set off a rush of want…I want that long line of coke going up my nose.

Theres just no way except unless you’ve been on this same stool…if I may ad a pun,to explain how the clutches of these powdered elements and brewed fluids can take a hold of you and make moments easier to live-forgetting that life is longer than just moments.

I wrote the above poem in August 1981. I remember the morning I penned it-I had awaken to the feeling I was embalmed-the alcohol from the night before…from just hours before-still remained in my blood stream and lasted most of that day. As usual.
I was so sick of trying to quit…saying each time that this is the last. Havng to take a drink early in the day to take the edge off….the hair of the dog that bit you!
The additctions were terrible…seemingly soft and gentle with tons of fun,but they held me as they hold others-in a lie. A very interesting lie because the first person you tell it to-that you convince…is yourself!
And then the lie gets practiced and so well that as an addict we try to convince others of the truth….confused?
That’s what it is…confused.

Cigerettes were a favorite-they were ‘acceptable’ and accessable and always with in reach with my Zippo sitting on top of the pack-ready.
When I was trucking those smokes were with in reach all of the time.They were there the first thing in the morning-the absolute very first thing…wake up and reach for the pack.
That ended Janurary 31st 1998 at 10:30 in the morning in Kendleville Indiana. I was just finished unloading a machine across the state line in Ohio and as we drove west I kept feeling that I had this bad chest cold-so I went to an ER to get some anti-biotics.
That was’nt what I needed-my chest was screaming for bloody mercy…I was having a heart attack at 46 years of age,the next day I suffered a stroke.
That stroke is my constant reminder of my limits…my left side permanantly damaged from the resting blood clot in my brain. I have no real use of my left hand-it is as clumsy as a rock.
Interesting-after many years of being smoke free I realize how awfully bad the things made everything stink….we always heard it-but just thought it was ‘non-smokers syndrome’ of being a preacher against the foul things.
Now I know I always smelled like hot piss on asphalt-yeah,thats what it smells like!
At the VA hospital entrance where all the vets sit and wait and smoke…you can smell it from the bottom of the steps and almost twenty feet away it just grabs you. The stink.
I got a sign in my drive that says ‘Please’ ‘No Smoking’ that seems to go ignored by every smoker that I know who visits. They all go steps aside off into the distance to light up-thinking its the smoke thats offensive…its not the immediate smoke,it is the left over fall out that collects over a period of time. It builds up-on your skin-and hair…in your house-away from your house. I can smell my friends house from the end of thier driveway-it too smells like urine cooking on hot asphalt.
As a former trucker I can relate to that smell because of the piss on the black top in a truck stop parking lot…as it cooks in the sun it lifts this odor….a cigerette smell of day after day of smoking.
I finally had to put the sign up because the smoke of another friend was collecting and my son had finally asked me if I started smoking again?? That said something to me.

I did’nt begin this to go off on cigeterettes. It is just that it helps to broaden the understand of addiction to those who might be stuck on cig’s and want to quit and can’t…they can get a simple idea of the power an addiction has over a junky’.
I can also say-my having gone through addictions and beating the battle does not always mean the battle is beat. I stayed off of cocaine after a full year of extensive counseling only to bend by face over a mirror ten years later to suck up a line of crystle – meth in my nose…a tool of the trade for hauling cows cross country,or so it seemed.
It really said something to me that I went ten full years with out any powdered substance in my nose-and it only took a second for me to poof that out of fact.
It seemed it had a lot to do with who I was around.
It got to make me think about it…why I kept wanting to damage myself and most likely because I suffered from damages done to me and needed these substitutes to adjust my thoughts and make me cheerful and likeable…when actually I was a bigger loser than I knew because at the time I was doing a hundred bucks a night up my nose my young sons were getting 45 cent packages of spanish rice for dinners.
I robbed them so many times.
Funny crazy thing is…I did not have a job that paid me 100 dollars a day to suck up my nose…so I was bigger NO good than I could see. And did not care…because I was telling myself the biggest lie.

The battle was taken care of the day I had the stroke-finally. I cannot say the “want to” went away…but the “going to ” is definantly overseen by the effects the stroke had on me.

These last few years I have come to a place where I like to have a few dark beers. I have had one or two yellow beers and the taste is no longer there. I had heard once on NPR that dark beer has these sediments that are’nt filtered to make the yellow beer….and these sediments can help keep our arteries clearer. Okay…I can go for that,and fortunantly-a few dark beers fill you up more than the yellow ones do,so….

I think of the many reasons why I thought getting high was the thing to do….the easy escape from having to look at the reality. The night after my brother was killed I took a large bottle of whiskey and drank it until I was vomiting all over a neighbor ladys new shag carpet.
The next morning I felt like shit-and my brother was still dead….
I know that I got into drugs after discharge from the Navy…to mask the horrors of all that happened. I don’t think at first it was that way-but after learning what drugs could do they became the requirement to a part of my survival. My life came to evolve around drinking and getting high and escape.

It took a long time and a lot of effort to get to this point of sobriety. I will fully admit-I am not a sober person…fully,but my management of it is far far better then it has ever been.
It has to be since the heart attack I had in 1993 ( my first warning sign five years ahead of time) when hauling cattle that the last time my nose saw powdered drugs…16 years,that ain’t bad!
I am pleased to be able to limit my beers…I never drink high test booze-never really liked it, but I do admit my body screams for medication…not for getting away from things-
but from getting away from the physical pain.

I don’t have any one general point that I’m trying to make here…I just have recently read some of my ‘connections’ troubles with drugs…troubles with lives….and I see it in my own friends with drinking,I hardly know if I know any one any more that does hard drugs-but I see the way drinking takes over and the struggle every one has with cigerettes…they are so hard to quit.
It is really sad for us who survive the tragic times of our lives-we are never fully healed.
I came to think about this last night.
All the drugs I spent money and lost life on were at the expense of what happened while at barraks D ( where I was raped ) and each time I wanted to escape that and found myself a placstic wrapped gram of crank-or coke (cocaine)…I fell back into it-lived it over on purpose (I refer to it as DAMAGE CONTROL) ….like the housewife that gets beat up and returns to get beat up again or the teen who uses razor blades for peace of mind-that is simular to what I was doing….to be harmed.
It came to my mind last night that I’m not healed from it…there are still things that call out to me like whispers from little voices on my shoudler leaning in to my ear and leading me on-enticement…

No…I’m not going to fall into the use of drugs again. Each time I did that to myself my attackers win-they still have control…they still are dominating my life. But the thing that confounds me the most is how HARD it is to be clear of ALL of the things we want to escape.

I have no idea…

January 14, 2008

cat profile

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

Back some years ago I worked around the cat that you see in the photo…no,I was not a handler-I more less operated a a hose and squirted the pens out.
There were several dozen large cats at this place. It was a rescue facility that accepted wild animals that for some reason human beings thought they could tame and share thier Miami homes with. It can almost make you shake your head in disbelief as to how many folks pass out of the realm of good sense and believe an exotic cat will accept the good lifestyle of the rich and want to dwell in a mansion on Miami’s A1A. Instead they end up in a pen about twenty feet wide by twenty feet wide. Its not very big.

It was pretty neat-these animals actually got to know a person after they’ve been around them awhile. They’d make certain noises-even purr…and loudly.
This guy was dignified and quiet-but he always came out of his box half way when I would come up to do my chores. His sister would raise such a ruckus when she heard my Jeep drive up the main road towards the complex that fellow workers always teased me about my girlfriend-she would’nt quiet up until I went back to thier area first to say hello.
How strange to see that there is some ability to draw a wild creatures trust…but never the less-these animals were still dangerous,they were just being a little more tolerant.
I actually hated the site seeing this proud animal pace around his confines. When I was working at the other cat pens and he would feel more ease he’d come out of that box and pace round and around. You could see his trail in the concrete. Twenty feet this way-and twenty feet that way,and back.

Look at his face.
He looks so empty.

sometimes I wish…

January 12, 2008

tractor in yard

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

How many times I’ve thought back about the old Jimco truck stop in Ripon (CA) there in the midst of the walnut groves. It was like its own little small world there-away from the big highway and nested in between old farm homes and the groves.
When I was on the highway the Jimco was one of the last real Ma and Pa truck stops…why they called them that I do not know.
There was another I can recall-it was just west of Billings on 94-all you could see behind it was open prairie and the wagons of sheep herders lined the parking lot as if we were in some kind of wagon train.
I used to think a lot about the shepards job-having an old mule pull your quarters across the grasslands following how ever many sheep it is they lead across the range…and old sheep dog as a companion-and those stars in the sky as evidence as why Montana is ‘big sky’ country.
I would fit in right well calling my mule ‘Clicky’ and making that sound with my tongue as we rode along behind the feeding sheep-my mules ears winged backwards towards the sound-click click click…waiting for the one the that comes that means we get to stop.
The old truck stop there had a sitting room on the second floor. It was just like being in someones living room-woven lace coverlets on the large stuffed chairs-just like the ones at grandmothers house. There was an old television and odds and ends of small furniture to make it feel like home.
Interstate 94 going through Montana is  one of those interstates that they close during those snows that block the highway. This old truck stop was one those we were glad to be stuck at during a highway closing.
They had this crazy motel-it looked lke a long long mobile home. The whole place for some reason made you feel like you were way up away from anyone-somewhere on those ice roads in Canada. I guess it was because of how open Montana is…the big sky country.

Back once upon a time many highway truckers had no place to sleep. To offer accomodations many of the old Ma and Pa’s had a bunk house-or bunk room…these were usually up above where you paid for the fuel. You’d give the kid at the fuel counter a few bucks and he’d give you a card with your name and time to be waken and up the stairs you’d go to find a place to nap…rows of bunks.
Up in Mars Hill Maine was a truck stop that had the neatest bunk room in the country-I never saw  little beds made so neatly since I left boot camp many years before.
I remember once it snowed so bad all of the trucks on US 1 in Mars Hill were stuck-snow drifted up over the windshield of many trucks,mine included…and this man came out from the truck stop wearing snow shoes and bringing the drivers sacks of donuts and thermous jugs full of hot coffee. The county highway department later came and cleared the way for us to move out and down through the wilderness…we were ordered to travel in convoys.

I miss the highway.
There was this kind of honor in being a trucker…once upon a time. I remember as a kid when Jimmys dad would go out and crank his rig. Back in the old days the trucks had an air starter that would scare the living daylights out of death itself…me and Jimmy would wake when his dad cranked that truck-whooooop,the sound would go-but loud enough to echo through the hills of West Virginia.
Jimmys dad would make a pot of coffee in an old percolator and we’d lay there in slumber smelling that coffee brew and listening to Jimmys dad play hymns on his steel guitar….he’d sing softly as not to wake us,but we were already awake and and stayed awake long enough to hear him gear that truck through the hillsides as he worked his way towards the big highway.
Jimmys dad had this hat-it had badges of awards for safety pinned to it…the old hats truckers wore those days were like that of police officers-a hat with a shining brim. When ever Jimmys dad was home I can remember looking at those awards and how many miles his dad safely drove. I was always in awe.

I needed the solitude trucking offered me…it was a way to earn a living and not get attached at the same time. There many favorite places to end the day at-places with smiles and good people…but the next day alway comes and the truck has to move with the day-so the freedom is as huge as you want it,and yet the safety of the confines of the cab are comforting and home.
Yup….I do believe I could follow old Clicky across the grasslands.

the repeat dream

January 10, 2008

empty stairs-drawn by jay herron 2006

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

The deja vu of a particular dream I often have has been going over and over in my head. I often dream of being in a prison-very very large prisons. These are not pleasant dreams-and the memory of each dream tends to last for several days…they have that much of an impact.
Unlike most dreams ( you must understand-I can only comment on my own dreams) unlike most dreams which seem befuddled and mixed – these dreams are in great detail and seem organized.
I believe its something to do with the memory of barracks D.

Although I say the dreams are not pleasant-the situation that is taking place in these prisons is interesting enough to want to continue the dream…not to wake like one would wish as if in a nightmare. The detail and the activity and the immense size of these prisons make the dreams fascinating.
I’m not saying they are dreams of great times-they are’nt…they are fearful and with out a doubt a mystical reality-the situations seem real. I’m just saying they are vivid and it seems alive.

Each of these dreams usually take place in a prison in which the population of convicts have an industry with in thier community-such as the entire prison-these vast places-is one huge flea market,or a section of shops of some sort…and it just seems they cover acres and acres of rows of cells as far as you can see in each direction,nothing but this prison.

Naturally,the thought of ever going to prison has always been a fear. The morning of the rapes the officer who first heard my story-his chuckle and comment….”get used to it” -in reference they were going to send me to prison so it was in my future to be so treated. How can I know if it was my fears and every thought I could muster to put this together in just the few minutes it took me to walk from the interviewers building back across the fenced compound to barracks D….the fears compressed are the reason for these dreams?
I was only given a short few minutes-perhaps only as many as two-to put my thoughts in order to face the men that raped me.
I thought the mistake would have been discovered and I would be set free to return to my ship….

It is hard to explain what is like to be innocent of anything and be locked up for nothing and have every body conclude your guilt with out any kind of a trial and for being stuck in a snow storm-what could a trial be for? What crime did I do?
Guilt became something I could never shake. Once upon a time (I have improved as the years have passed) a certain crime could take place in my area and I would feel such extreme guilt…and not even have any thing to do with a crime of any kind.
My fears of ever going to prison grew deeper of the fears my sons might make an error some where and end up in prison…to show them how terrible life could be I used to take them to Raiford and we’d drive through looking at one prison building after the other. My influence must have impacted my youngest son-he works as a deputy sheriff in the county jail.

I think the recent conversations I’ve had about Rose…this year will be her tenth behind bars (this go around) -have brought the dream into activity-certainly I don’t have these dreams each time I sleep,however…each time I have one the impact lasts for several days.
It was a strange kind of prison.
Large-huge vast place just as always.
You can’t see anything of daylight or out doors. Only everywhere you look-the prison.
The dream I had the other night was each of us had just barely a box to be confined in, just enough room to move around but barely room to sit up or even stand.
All your eyes coud see was one of these boxes one after the other above and side by side and below-all you could see was these boxes. It was easy to know it was a prison-each box had bars to keep us locked inside.
It was kind of a wierd dream-you could hear the typical sounds of the breathing and coughing of the others and you smell the stink-the thousands of men there must be. But yet you could’nt see any one,you could only hear them….and smell them..
In the end of the dream-the important part of this particular dream was the hand of the convict above my cell. It dropped down outside of the bars and I could see it and I touched it and its fingers squeezed mine.

ice on pond

January 5, 2008

ice on pond
Originally uploaded by jayfherron

I’ve never intended my writings to direct any lessons in the writings in what is known as the bible…which I would like to say many things about the bible and preachers and religous folks. Mostly I want to share the indignity of having a person assume that if a man attacks another man sexually that it has something to do with sexual preference….such as the remark made to me “gee…you’d never think homosexuals need a reason to rape each other”-and this from a person who is supposed to be standing up for me in defense (defense for something I had no control over)…the other speculation from this mentor was that my attackers were black men-how crude and ignorant this was.
I make references to my relationship with God…my relationship with God is real-the realist thing I’ve ever had….and I realize how private and personal it really is. It is something truely too close to impossible to describe-obviously-to any others satisfaction.
My references are sincere-I believe them as I say they are….and they go beyond the bible-or any preacher or any religious group.
You can take the bible and go directions with it that make it not so ‘good’….Adolf Hitler thought himself a man of God and thought it right to eradicate millions because of his belief. Who’s to figure why this America celebrates Columbus? In the name of God he enslaved and murdered civilizations of peoples-at least-his discoveries of rumors of gold brought the slayers of the Aztecs.
I’ve read the bible-re read it and read it some more. In Revelations 18:12 to 14 it allows that men and souls are as much as a cash product-the reference for men is the word ‘slave’. Through out the bible book is over 86 references to the use of the word ‘servant’ in the way of ‘slave’….and not including the words to be ‘servent’ to God.
I once fell into the church thing…right after the arrest of a woman who murdered another human man. Over being told that world was rid of two pieces of scum-the victim in the murder was a bouncer at a strip club in Baltimore,the killer a stripper…. I was shown in the bible how Jesus as God was taken to a cross and slain….nails in his body to make the suffering of death slow and miserable. I understand the crowds of people tossed stones and spit and jeered at the Jesus as he carried the weight of his cross. He is said to have mutttered…’Forgive them Father,they dont know what they are doing’ -or some such.
One day the very preacher that showed me that returned from San Antonio Texas from a ‘missions trip’. He sat with me over coffee and said that our community in Levy County has nothing of a ‘mexican problem’ like San Antonio does. I asked him what that meant-and the preacher replied the place was over run with ‘mexicans’…I use the small case letter because thats the caliber this man gave the people from Mexico.
I said “Preacher….San Antonio WAS Mexico….” and the fool said “That was a long time ago”.
I started wondering about this preacher…and his grasp on the bible-so I started reading it and reading it….I read a lot. I am instructed to keep my servents well,those being my slaves….by the instruction of the bible?
I learned the dove was not the first choice to leave the ark Noah built-it was a Raven…yet most every one just thinks about the dove.
Indeed-the things I write about may not all be in the frame of male on male sexual assault-it is about a life and I am being as honest and open in these ending times of my life to express and bring aware these things are not openly talked about still…and it’s now 2008.
To do this-the only way I know how-is to tell about myself and my feelings….and yes,what I knnow about my ‘personal’ relationship with God. A love and forgiveness I am jealous of and goes above that of my own sons and family.
So what if you don’t care how my relationship with God is or is not….because it is my love for God that keeps me-it don’t matter if you like it or agree with it or believe it or what…..because it is given to me by God and there aint a dang dong one of you that can change that!
There is a path I’m on…a long narrow path. Sometimes its so narrow I don’t even know if I can keep my footing. But one thing for sure…no matter how much doubt and and debate you can put into it…you can’t get me off that path because I know where it’s going!

Now the whole point about why I write this blog is because there are numbers of young men and woman who are serving our country and are being wounded in many ways-and also being wounded in a way no one takes account for by sexual assault.
I never wanted a computer-providence put one here.
I never thought in a million dreams I’d write…and as much as I have-and earned the readers I’ve found have read my story.
I can’t change to make you like it…if you don’t like it-quit reading it. I do want to change some things for Veterans,it is up to God to check the hearts-but we should realize much more is in them.
The church I went to teaches the families to have as many children as they can-sadly,my son is stuck in this clique of people who block thier ears to the many homeless children I know exists in the USA,and worse yet-look at the children living in the subways in parts of Europe. (see the film ‘Underground Children of the Ukraine’)
I got ‘booted out’ of that church myself because the other men got angry that I was not going to vote for ‘Bush’…I’ve only voted once (for Jimmy Carter) and learnt my lesson then-why vote when you have a God for a King and a Father?
What are you going to do?
It does not matter if you believe me….it is only God who needs my full attention and I’m convinced God is just fine with the love I have.
I had a preacher from that church call me a “murderer of friendships ” when I felt the full impact of being shunned for not supporting a president-I pointed out Matthew 2-6 said it all for me,none cared to look….and after I left them to relish the man they said was going to stamp out abortion (BUSH???)…and the Christians called me a murderer of friendships.??
Go figger….it’s 2008 and there’s one man in control of things-judgements- that think men who rape men should be exempt because why would homosexuals need to rape?? It’s 2008 and theres a preacher-a leader-who thinks the ‘mexican problem’ is worse in Texas….it’s 2008 and there are countless people who live in fear that are being led by preachers like this….?

Mark Foley…judgements?Larry Craig…judgements?Ted Haggerty…judgements?

My judges?

about face…

January 3, 2008

about face…

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

It was still winter in 1998 when I was heading towards Wisconsin to load a machine to haul to the west coast. I was on main highway going through northern Indiana feeling like I had a bad chest cold-so near Kendelville I stopped in an emergency room to get some antibiotics. It was’nt a cold-they plugged some things to my chest because my blood pressure was high and low and behold I was having a heart attack.
The heart attack led to a stroke and that meant my life as a trucker was over. I could’nt talk real well-and hardly could walk. I was 46.
I had’nt been home to Florida in 121 days. The kind of hauling I did was oversize equipment and some of it took days to move. My last break home had been after 8months on the road.
I was married to the lady I fondly refer to as my ‘rattlesnake bride’. She was a beautiful woman with a creative mind who led everyone to believe she had cancer and only months to live. She does well-that was in 1993….but one eventually knew that anything Misty said was not believable.
Never the less…she was an interesting companion for the two years we spent together in the trucks-although she could be quite volatile she possessed this intelligence that was astounding. She just never used it in the right direction and eventually did some time in prison herself.

There was something suspicious about Rose from the beginning-by beginning I mean from the first time I actually talked to her,I had previously bumped into her twice before-the first time I scared the daylights out her…we were in the state forest behind our house.
She was nice middle aged hippie lady-one who smelled like Dr.Bronners soap and she wore those style paisley dresses and tie dye Tshirts,all the typical signs of hippie times. But her story was never really right-but by then I had been with Misty long enough to recognize a liar….I felt Rose was a liar-but que sara sara because she was’nt involved in my life except that she began meeting me for walks in the mornings. I really was’nt interested in her company-I more less wanted to meditate on my own,my body wrecked from the stroke. But in another turn,the company was also a threat to me because her boyfriend was not too friendly-I actually was afraid to be with her because of her boy friend and because of Misty…literally,Misty was like a bad storm.
I went another direction-we are surrounded by forest here…and damned if the woman did’nt figure me out….and could’nt figure out I was avoiding her.
To tell the truth…when she told me ‘the story’-I had by then pegged her to be as good as Misty in telling a lie. By then Misty had cleaned out the bank and took the car and left me….that was summer 1998,I have’nt seen her since-we are seperated by a vast land,and I am glad.
Things from that point got seriously bad-stupid on thier account because the story was so dumb…or,the way the months led up to it.
It was my son who notified the FBI….the FBI took two weeks to notify me-no one wwas on the hunt for her,no one had heard of her….and then all of a sudden they were there. The FBI.

There aint no question that after twenty years on the run for a murder she refused to do time for-this lady deserves to be in prison. So I’ve been told-she’s lied about her being the guilty one and has blamed her guilt on her sister. But,I have nothing to do about that.
Its kind of funny-I went to a church the next day to seek counsel…the view of the preacher was that she killed a man who was bouncer at a strip club and because she was there she was that kind of scum. She never appeared to be scum to me…she appeared to be a liar,but never was it easy to believe she was a killer-at least,up until the FBI showed me the victims photograph as the rage of bullet holes.
Theres no one but God who knows my heart about this and many other things….the woman was more of pest than anything,but there was a kindness in what she was thinking towards me-the cripple trying to learn to walk again.
No doubt in my mind-she failed to serve the time she convicted of…a murderer she is-and angry am I for being brought into her crime some 20 odd years later….and as it happened,as a paid partner since I was given 2000 dollars for my silence.
What makes me more angry is that I had been put in a position to be her judge-to point the finger….and unless you’ve lived the entire part of that time as I did you cannot understand fully the feeling of being decieved from two sides…Misty and Rose,and you certainly cannot see into the mind of a man who intentlly ‘stayed away’ from people.
Theres a Spiritual entwinement in this-how I spent so much time confined in a truck and away from others….and this. Why I stayed away is my fear of people and becoming involved….and damned if I did’nt get involved here hook line and sinker….
No one can understand the foundation of my guilt and the things I pile upon it…if it does’nt please you that I feel guilt,well-it something I cannot help.
Everybody I know has told me I did the right thing-I know I did the right thing,but dears….allow me my own privacy of how I choose to operate guilt.


January 2, 2008

sunrise in south dakota

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

I remeber the morning when this photograph of the sunrise was taken. We were near the national grasslands of South Dakota-the wind was fierce as if we were standing on the wings of an airplane in flight. It was so strong even the Corvette’s sleek design had a struggle driving smooth. The sunrise made it difficult to concentrate on the road…the fierce and the beautiful teamed together to make us stop-otherwise we would have gone off the road
We stood there in awe of the beauty and the strength of nature.
The sun reflected off of an ocean almost a thousand miles away and painted the sky. It makes me wonder what the Lakota people must of thought as they witnessed these sunrises over and over in the days before automobile and internet and times of fast food.

I am looking out my large window at a new sunrise coming up over the same ocean-just a few miles closer than the grasslands,not as spectacular as the one we saw that day but it brings with it the second day of the new year 2008.
In my subconscious I feel as if I am at the base of a huge vessel…a bell ,if you wish-as if a large empty space is ahead of me and I can hear the echo of emptiness and see the space of the time ahead and yet feel the tug of the memories of the past year.

I suppose I’m trying to brush off the dust like a rider coming in from the trail. The last year seemed a bit trying to me-especially in the last half…but how can I divide up a year with so much that went on? My old pal Grier…the curmudgeon he was-but he was good to me in many ways which made easy to overlook the antics he sometimes took to adjust his persective on the moment.
And Wayne…my other friend-how just a few days before he died he blessed me by asking what my take on death was and what I thought would be-is there more?
My father certainly has ended my year as his life passed and the way my feelings are dealing with it have drained any motivation I might have had.
Today….not as a ‘new years resolution’-but as a way to try to fight the battle of the onslaught of my sadness,which certainly is going to bring me to a state of depression….today I am going to go outside and get onto the road and walk-and I’m going to go up almost the full length and turn around and come back.
It aint exactly the day one would want to start such-its freezing out this morning,tomorrow it is going to be worse. But if I do not face it today as planned I am afraid I will sink into a pit.

I used to walk every where until I went to the forest one day and met Rose.
After several months of being befriended by her-I was just mending from having a stroke the time I met her and was just learning how to get my footing back-she accompanied me and then one day told me she was wanted by the FBI….after that ordeal my freedom of walking on the road felt restricted.
Rose went back to prison-she had murdered a man in Maryland and had managed to escape from prison.

I realized the other night it has been ten years since I had my stroke-and it added to my thoughts of all the past year…those who have died-and as she is a murderer I have always felt I took a life too. Hers!
I wish somehow I could explain what all these things do in my heart-how small the island seems sometimes.
The irony of meeting this woman ten years ago is incredible-I had been miles and miles and lifes away from her confined in a long haul truck…yet we meet in a forest two thousand acres deep.

I have to try to stretch this island out-try to absorb some of the open space ahead. I got to put my first foot out and let my other one follow because if I don’t I’m going to get stuck in a box.
I used to be able to pray more cleaer when I walked-that came back in my memory yesterday as I spoke to my son about how when back in the 70’s when I walked the 7 miles to Archer and hitched a ride to work and how every step of the way I prayed to God my sons would have a better life then mine….God answered those prayers-and Micah and Joel and Jeff have been so blessed.
And I was telling my son about those mornings-how I had no car….and he has three now!
Not that I believe God hands out cars….but that there is this strength in lessons we are doled out and how we recieve them.
I remember so sweetly how when Jeff came to me and said I was only father figure in his life and he wanted me to know that….I told him he could longer call me Jay-he had to call me Dad.
Thats what God gives us.

My son Joel drove me to see my father the week before he died. I went in the room and saw his frail body laying there. I know he never would understand anything but me saying I loved him….he said he loved me.
It is a new year….I’m going to put the first foot out-lift up my heart and thank God for what is coming…and thank God for what has passed.