‘Til The Death of Me, Chapter 9: Just Keep Your Mouth Shut

Meagan couldn’t go back to sleep after the phone call. Between her restless debate with herself over whether she should tell Damien in the morning, the uneasy way she felt at that she had just recieved a death threat, and the snoring of her partner next to her — What was his name? Jake? — there was just no hope. So she got up before her alarm and took a shower. Stepping out, fully clothed for the day and drying her hair with a towel, she kicked the man who’s name she thought might be Jake. “Time to get up.”

He groaned and rolled over. “What time is it?”

“I don’t know, like — seven-thirty.” She looked at him then and realized how much older than her he appeared. She made a face. What was I thinking? Picking up the heap of clothes on the floor that “Jake” had left, she threw the covers off his naked body and covered it with the clothes. Then as she balled up the blanket and put it in the hamper, she heard “Jake” protest behind her. “It’s too cold! Why are you doing this to me, sugar?”

“I’m not a stripper. Don’t call me sugar.”

“Oh, come on. Let’s snuggle. We can sleep in a little longer. Or, if you’re in the mood for round two…” With a wicked smile, “Jake” rolled over to his back and showed Meagan his morning surprise. “Oh!” Meagan shielded her eyes. “Jake” laughed. “Whaddya say, sugar?”

Meagan looked him square in the eye. “Listen… First of all, if you call me sugar one more time, I am going to punch you in the face. Secondly, you are nothing more than a drunken one-night stand. I don’t even remember if it was any good! And let me tell you, I am not in the least bit interested in refreshing that memory. Lastly, you are going to get up, put your clothes on, and get the hell outta this house. Right now. Nothing more, nothing less. Capeesh?” “Jake” rolled his eyes and did as he was told. She follwed him down stairs and to the front door, making sure he was all the way outside and the door was securley closed behind him before she made her way into the kitchen.

At the bar counter, Damien stood with a bowl of cereal in front of him, changing through channels with the TV remote, staring at the set in the living room. “You did a good job clearing everyone out last night,” Meagan said matter-of-factly as she went into the refrigerator and pulled out a gallon of milk. “Mmmhm,” was all that Damien had for an answer. While she got herself a bowl of cereal, Meagan had a brief conversation with Damien about what was in the agenda for today. He only had short answers. Something seemed to be distracting him. As she came with her bowl to sit next to him, she began thinking about what was bothering him.  “I’m sorry,” she said. “About, um, you know…” She motioned towards the door. “About your friend…”

Damien never looked at her. “He’s a friend of a friend. I don’t know him. He’s only visiting for a short time. Besides, you’re a big girl. I can trust you to make your own decisions.” He got up to put his bowl and spoon away in the dish washer. Then he said, “I’m going out. I’ll only be a few hours.”

“Oh… Okay. I’ll just hold down the fort.” Meagam decided against telling Damien about the call last night. He seemed to have a lot already on his plate. Besides, it was probably just a crank call.

 

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‘Til The Death of Me, Chapter 8: To Be Had

When he first spotted Meagan Chaney in the convenience store, he had been coming up the far isle from the freezer section in the back, on his way to the register to purchase the Gatorade he had just selected. She crossed his line of vision and he stopped in his tracks. Kind of like how his heart stopped in its tracks. He knew immediately that it was Meagan Chaney, the famous MMA fighter who had just won the championship last night. She had a large box of beer and a fifth of Fireball in her hands. His first reaction to seeing her was to be startled. What is she doing in Chicago? He wondered.

He knew little to nothing about the woman he was close in age with. He had merely come across a news article featuring her this morning, skimming through it. He had also watched the video highlights of the fight and had been impressed by her abilities. He remembered her face well and if he was being honest, he had noticed her body as well. She was very attractive. It was her eyes he had noticed first, though. Intense, yet controlled. Dark green and oh so mysterious. He had been intrigued. But never in his wildest dreams did he think he would ever see her in a place like this. He physically rubbed his eyes and did a double take just to be sure it was really her he was seeing. It was.

She didn’t notice him at all as she made her way back to the front counter. Callum was smiling at her as she approached. Starstruck and nervous, he didn’t want to make his presence known to her. As he watched them, Callum and Meagan seemed to be familiar with each other. He could tell Callum had a crush on her, a fact which got under his skin and gave him a small pang of jealousy. He immediately pushed those silly feelings away. He was still curious, however, so he decided to continue eavesdropping — a decision he was not proud of.

When Meagan finally walked out of the store without hugging or kissing Callum goodbye, he decided that they were not a couple. But she was definitely familiar which had to mean she was a local.

Right?

But he had lived in the city all his life, he pondered. How could he have overlooked someone like her? Sure, he hadn’t known to look for her before — How could he, really, when he hadn’t even known she existed? — but he knew automatically that she’s the type of woman he should have noticed.

Curiosity got the better of him. He had to find out more about her, or die trying.

Oh, quit with the dramatics, he scolded himself. It’s not going to kill you to talk to her. So she shuts you down. So what? Man up, for God’s sake. You’re not a child! In spite of his fear, he set the drink down and followed her out the door.

As Meagan opened the rear driver’s side door of Damien’s Sedan, she almost thought she had heard one of the front doors of the store open and close. Thinking she was just hearing things, she proceeded to place the alcohol she had just bought into the back seat. Closing the door, she had almost begun to turn around when she heard someone behind her begin to speak.

“Hi….” Meagan jumped right out of her skin and spun around. The way she did it, there might as well had been a loud thunder crack. She gave the man standing in front of her a quick once-over. He had short, brown hair in a buzz cut, grey-blue eyes which were incredible yet she dared not stare into them, and his facial hair consisted of a small goatee. He was decidedly tall, standing there with his hands in the side pockets of his large Carhart jacket. Accompanying the jacket were a pair of blue jeans and work boots.

“Sorry,” he was saying. She made the mistake of looking back up at his eyes, which were intently watching her. She quickly looked away. What does this guy want? “Scared the living shit out of me!” She complained.

Nothing was said while she turned around and secured the box of beer behind the seatbelt. The whiskey bottle was placed inside the box.

“I know who you are,” He said. “That MMA fighter?” She closed the door, half smiling. “Yeah… Everybody here knows that about me.”

She glanced over her right shoulder as she started walking around the car to the driver’s side. “So, what? You want an autograph or something?”

He followed her until he got to the back tire on the driver’s side. “Are you from here?” She asked another question. “Born and raised,” he answered.

That made her pause. With the door open, she rested her arm on the top of it and looked at him — really looked at him — for the first time. “Are you from here?” He asked. “Yeah,” she answered. “For the most part.”

For the most part… She let that hang between them without elaborating.

Her eyes narrowed on him. “It’s peculiar that I don’t remember seeing you around here before.” She thought she’d gotten him with that.

“Same,”he answered. “I mean, I never noticed you before either. It’s weird.”

“Yeah. Well, I’ve gotta get going so would you like an autograph or not?”

“Getting straight to the point, are we?”

“I’m a busy woman.”

He paused for a second. “I’ll take an autograph if it comes with a number.”

Meagan raised an inquisitive brow as a humorous smile grew across her face. “Any number?”

“Well, yours would be preferable.”

She snorted. “You want me to give you my number when I don’t even know your name?”

“Adam.”

“Well, Adam, forgive me, but I don’t date local boys. I swore that off a long time ago. And I also don’t give my number to strangers.” She got into the car and closed the door. Starting the car, she waved out the window and pulled out onto the street.

Adam watched the car until it disappeared. Then he went back inside, bought his Gatorade, filled his truck with gas, and drove home — kicking himself all the way.

It was the funnest, most amazing party Meagan ever attended in her life. The fact that it was all for her probably had a lot to do with that. Damien hired a chef to prepare a fabulous dinner for the two of them and a very exclusive group of people well before the party began. The chef also prepped several plates of appetizers for the party guests, which a team of servers that Damien also hired would pass out.

Throughout the night, Meagan kept the Fireball to herself, sharing with absolutely no one. Everyone else either drank from the bar or grabbed a beer from the ice chest. The more Meagan drank from her bottle, the more loose she became. At some point, she ended up in the pool, where she just got drunker and could be seen grinding on several people. This went on until Meagan was, as it’s called, “sloshed,” and Damien ordered her out of the pool.

Since Meagan put up a fight, some of Damien’s friends helped out in getting her up to her room. She ended up going to bed with one of those friends.

In the very early morning hours, Meagan recived a phone call that jerked her out of her REM sleep. Head swimming, she stumbled for her phone on the night stand.

“You’re in big fuckin’ trouble, lady,” hissed a man with an Italian accent into her ear.

“Who is this?” Meagan demanded. She was still too confused at the moment to start being afraid.

“That fight you had with Mel Santorum? You were supposed to lose!”

Meagan rubbed her eyes. “What’re you –”

“What, your manager never told you?” Said the angry man on the other end of the line. “We bet on Mel to win. Had it set up with your pal Damien. Now we’re out fifty grand. Someone’s gonna have to pay for that.”

Meagan’s heart stopped when he said Damien’s name. And now her chest was so heavy, she couldn’t speak even if she wanted to.

“Fifty grand by the end of December, kid,” the man demanded. “Or looks like you two aren’t gonna live to see you get drafted.”

Click.

‘Til The Death of Me, Chapter 7: To Have Once Had

**News 4 Sports’ “In Closing ” Theme song plays in background; Animation saying “In Closing” waves around on the screen.**

Spokesman:  And now, News 4 Sports brings you:  In Closing, with Brad Kassell.

**Fade In: Channel 4 News anchor Brad Kassell sits at an anchor desk inside of a large  Chicago studio, wearing a suit-and-tie outfit. He has black hair fading away at the crown. As the camera angle is zoomed out, several other men are seen accompanying Brad on either side of the large desk, also wearing suits with ties.**

Brad: **As camera zooms in on him slowly** Good evening, everyone, I’m Brad Kassell alongside Kurt Kristopherson and the boys, and this is In Closing. Well, in closing tonight, we MUST talk about that win last night in Atlanta. MMA former-up-and-comer-now-CHAMPION Meagan Chaney — who we should all be very familiar with by now in the Chicago area — got the better of Melody Santorum in the light-heavyweight division of the womens league. MAN, what a battle. 

**Camera cuts to a paused clip of Meagan setting up for a kick towards Melody’s head. The clip is played as Brad continues speaking, showing Meagan’s foot crash into the side of her opponent’s head before she could block it and sending her limp body to the ground. The referee runs in and waves off the fight, signalling the end. Then Meagan runs around the ring with her fists in the air and appears to be yelling. She stops and dropps to her knees as her face crumples into happy sobs. Meanwhile, Damien can be seen rushing over to her in the background for a celebratory embrace. **

Brad: This is what ended it all — a powerful kick to Melody Santorum’s head that sent her straight to the ground in the middle of round three. Guys, I don’t think Melody saw that one coming! 

**Camera cuts to Geoffrey Miles, a bald and slightly overweight African American anchor smiling excitedly.**

Geoffrey: That’s right. Coming into this one, I think Melody Santorum’s mindset was, ‘I’m going to get the knockout and I’m going to get it early. I have a very strong right hand, the strongest in Women’s MMA, there’s no way she’ll be able to recover from it…’ Well what happened was the exact oppoite. The one weapon she thought would be her best friend in this fight became her greatest adversary. She just could not land anything good. In my opinion, she under–

Kurt Kiristopherson: **As camera cuts to a man with copper hair curling around his ears and light stubble** Geoffrey, I have to chime in here, and I’m sorry to talk over you, but you’re about to say a word that you are NOT allowed to say in this context.

Geoffrey: She underperformed last night! 

Kurt: Melody Santorum didn’t underperform! Are you kidding me? We saw her same, typical speed and veteran-like moves — None of that changed. In fact, we saw her at her best last night — possibly at her peak…

Geoffrey: No way. 

Kurt: For being in the third round when you’re used to ending fights within the first two, I’d say Melody hung in there pretty well. Now if you’ll allow me to finish… Here’s the thing. You had me, Geoffrey, HAD me, until you started talking about Melody Santorum not fighting at her best. She made the mistake of relying too heavily on her right hand, and took away a lot of opportunities to get some much-needed points with her left, but all-in-all, she fought her absolute hardest last night. She was OUTperformed, not UNDERperforming, and she was outperformed by a chick named Meagan Chaney. A STRATEGIC fighter if ever there was one, Meagan was the smarter contender, she was the stronger-minded one, and it paid off for her. Melody tried to use her intimidation skills on her which did not work, and then she tried to force the knockout early. Meagan simply took that option away from her –She was not going to give it up — all the while, Melody was getting more and more tired, and ended up letting her guard down JUST A LITTLE BIT. For a fighter like Meagan, that’s all she needs is that little window to work with…. 

 

As the men on the television set continued with their discussion, Meagan turned her attention back to Callum — the guy manning the counter of the convenience store where she used to work. Behind him was where the TV was mounted. Callum had stopped the conversation they had been having about her big fight to turn up the volume of the TV and tell her to “Check it out!” On her first night back in the city, her and Damien were planning for a big party. She came to the store to stalk up on beer and a fifth of Fireball whiskey before heading back to the large, oceanside condo across town, where Damien now lived.

She had noticed Callum once she walked in the door, and he had come around to give her a heartfelt hug. Back when she and Callum had worked here together, a friendship quickly formed between them. Before long, a more romantic encounter would follow. He had been one of the friends with her on the night she got arrested. About a year later, he had also been her first time. She knew she loved him, but whether or not she was in love with him seemed to be a harder concept for her to wrap her mind around. So she kept putting off facing her true feelings for him, while he had the impression that they were in a real relationship and not a friends-with-benefits situation. They lived like that for about three weeks — only having sex twice in that period —  until he had the guts to ask her outright. That’s when she knew she had to be honest. With both him and with herself.

Being friendzoned had hurt Callum deeply, even though he tried so hard not to show it. She had hated herself for quite a while afterwards. But they never parted ways and stayed good friends. She would come back here when she could, and catch up with her old friend whenever he happened to be there. Occasionally, he would also send her Snapchat messages and they would have short conversations via text. Things between them seemed to be patched up, water under the bridge. She spoke with Callum for a little bit longer before exiting the store with her perchases. The entire time she’d been there, she never noticed there had been someone else in the store with her. That someone was a young man who couldn’t help but watch her from afar and immediately followed her outside.

 

 

‘Til The Death of Me, Chapter 6: The Intimidation Game

Meagan’s entrance song — the song that played whenever she entered the ring — was “Die Tonight,” a Country Rap song by Adam Calhoun and Ryan Upchurch. The song played during the first repeat of the chorus and right before the second verse, and then continued to play until she was in the ring and in her corner. She liked the song for it’s second verse, most especially the beginning of it:

“You can get it, Imma fight ’til the death of me

I ain’t never been known to run from an enemy…”

Walking her path to the ring, Meagan became focused on the song and those lyrics as well as the lyrics she had been listening to just minutes before. She blocked out the noise from the crowd and all of the screaming fans leaning over the rails trying to touch her. She ignored being pushed one or two times by fans clumsily bumping into the body guards, who were so close to Meagan it was impossible not to run into her. She ignored the flashing lights of all different colors. She ignored everything, putting her entire focus on the fight at hand.

Once approaching the ring, at the bottom of the steps which were placed for the two fighters to enter properly, Meagan obeyed the instructions of the referee that stood in front of her. She stood up straight and held her arms straight out from her sides. After doing the neccessary check-ups, the ref grabbed a small container of Vaseline, applied it to a gloved finger, and wiped the substance on the young fighter’s face. Lastly, he asked her to show him that she had a mouth guard in place, which she did, and then she was allowed to jog up the steps and into the ring.

Once inside, she did a lap of sideways slides around the ring to warm up. Then she quickly practiced some jabs, hooks, and elbow swings before stretching her arms a bit and then bouncing in place. This is all of what Meagan would do to prepare for a professional fight.

When her opponent entered the ring, it was to a screamo song Meagan didn’t recognize. Melody Santorum was considered a bad fighter; Not bad in the sense of terrible, but bad in the sense of potentially great. She’d have to be, to make it to a championship light-heavyweight fight such as this. The winner of this fight would be great contenders for being drafted into the UFC. Her two most dangerous weapons were her speed and her “mean” right hand, as some may have called it. Her orange hair was held back in cornrows tonight, showing off freckles which were palpable against the pale skin on her face. Apparently, her style was to keep her eyes on her opponent at all times, Meagan noticed. From the time she entered the arena, to being gelled up, to entering and now jumping and punching in place in her corner, Melody kept her eyes locked on Meagan’s. Rather than be fazed by this, Meagan stared back.

Damien took notice. Glancing between the two women, he guided Meagan to sit on her chair in the corner. When she sat, Meagan’s attention went to Damien. He smiled, but his eyes were intense as hell. Veins stuck out of his neck like cords. “This girl ain’t got nothin’ on ya.” Meagan nodded. “She ain’t got nothin’ on ya,” Damien repeated.

“She’s just a ginger. You gonna let some ginger bitch take what’s yours?” Meagan shook her head and gritted her teeth. However derogatory it was to call someone a ginger, it was doing its trick. Damien always knew how to play off of Meagan’s anger — always simmering  inside, the monster in her waiting for the right time to come out and explode. But he also knew that she knew how to controll it, to channel it into doing what it took to win every fight. Hell, it had gotten her this far.

Don’t fix what isn’t broken, she told herself. Both her and Damien knew how mad she got when other females tried to stare her down, like she was some kind of weak-minded clown. In a way, it was actually funny. “Are you going to let her beat you and take what the hell is yours?” Damien continued. “No!” Meagan whispered in a raspy voice.

“Then put her down like the pound,” Damien told her. “Win this fight, and take home the buckle. Don’t nobody deserve this more than you. Don’t nobody deserve this more than you! I want you to say it.”

“Don’t nobody deserve this more than me,” Meagan said.

“I wanna hear you say it, Meagan!”

“Don’t nobody deserve this more than me!” Meagan yelled to the rooftops. When she lowered her head back to normal equilibrium, she noticed Melody noticing her over Damien’s shoulder. From across the ring, Melody’s eyes narrowed, and a corner of her mouth lifted. Meagan’s entire body tensed. Suddenly, Damien forced Meagan’s eyes away. “Focus on me,” he demanded.

“When you go out there, all you’re gonna see is her face. I want you to remember what you’ve learned.

“Fuck the mind games. Fuck the facial expressions — Just toss them to the side.” He actually made hand movements to exemplify moving something over. “Wear her down, stay away from that right hand, and then go for the kill.” He listed off with his fingers as he spoke. “If you accomplish those three things, you got this. And hey, it may take a few rounds to tire her out. So be it! Take a few rounds. I’d rather you waste her precious time to where by the fourth or fifth round, she’s useless, than to have you try to be a hero and get  knocked out within the first two. Got it?”

Meagan nodded. “Yes, Pops.”

“Time’s up!” Called the official, now standing with Melody Santorum in the middle of the ring. Damien held his hand out to Meagan, who took it in a brotherly grip and allowed her adopted father to full her up in a standing position. Still holding her hand, Damien gave her a quick hug. “I love you. No matter what happens, know that.”

As Meagan approached her opponent, she repeated her first two tasks in her head. Wear her down, stay away from that right hand… Wear her down, stay away from the right hand… We must focus on that first step even when the top of the staircase cannot be seen. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated something to that effect. Except in Meagan’s case, she could see the top very clearly — smell it, even — and there was just one person standing in the way of getting there.

As the ref recited the instructions of the fight — to be clean and fair, etc, etc.. — Melody and Meagan got as close as they could get to one another, and appeared to be in a staring contest. When it was time to touch gloves, Meagan held hers out and waited, never leaving Melody’s eyes. Melody never moved her gloves up. “I’m gonna kick your ass back to Chicago, blood!” And then she shoved Meagan back. The ref got between them and ordered Melody impatently to watch herself before she was disqualified.

So it’s a mind game you want, after all, Meagan thought. Almost smiling.  she came up with a plan.

Snow On The Homestead

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The photograph above is of the ranch I grew up on. It was taken by a drone that one of my old neighbors owns. What a BEAUTIFUL shot! You must understand this is in Southern Arizona, so it’s a rare occasion that us desert lizards get snow that lasts out here. This is maybe, maybe the second time in my life that I’ve seen a blanket of snow like this. As far as the ranch I consider it to be my true home, no matter where I go in life; which I do plan on traveling, seeing more of the world, and planting my roots somewhere out there. I thought I would share because it’s such a great picture that I am proud of and because I’m going to upload it as my new background pic… As soon as my customization tool decides it wants to work. But don’t wait! Check out my site content and let me know what you think! Constructive criticism is IDEAL! Happy Winter, everyone. ❄❄❄

Why I’ve Been Absent… :(

Let’s just say that January of 2019 has been one of the longest months of my life. This is for no other reason than my mind has been something of a mess. For no particular reason at all, depression has come out of nowhere and picked a fight with happy and motivated me. This happened sometime towards the beginning of December, and the two sides of me have been battling it out ever since. Now, hey, that’s not an excuse for anything, but it’s a reason. It’s a reason why I haven’t done crap and have been a lazy bum lately. I’ve been allowing depression to define me — not depression of the clinical, diagnosed variety, mind you. Just depressed feelings that can sometimes be crippling for me in a way that people can’t always see at face value. That may sound like the definition of clinical depression, but I’ve never been diagnosed, so I wouldn’t know for sure. What I do know is one day last week, right there in my cubicle at work, and again out of nowhere, I finally had enough and I said to God with my mind, “Please give me the strength to overcome this.” As resut of doing that, the most amazing thing happened. It wasn’t dramatic, you didn’t see pixie dust flying out of me, or sun rays magically shinning in on me like spotlights in a theater. I felt something in my heart, though. It only lasted a few seconds, but it was all I needed and it was real. It was a sense of peace: the beginning of hope. Obviously I didn’t stand up and suddenly start perfectly meeting all my goals — here we are today and this is the first time I’ve posted anything in what, two weeks? — but I knew in my heart that I could get myself back on track because I allowed God to come back into the picture. Daily communication with God is the key to get started with getting your life back on track. It is the first sytep in the journey to overcome your hardships. See, when I prayed, I truly gave my worries up to the Lord. The one way we can always give our worries and conflicts away is through Him. That’s where my sense of peace had come from, and it planted the seed. I’m still not in perfect condition, never will be, but I’m finally starting to get things done.

SO, in the spirit of getting things done, a couple of things for you here:

1)  I am going to continue doing my Sunday Devotional posts, which I’ve made a grand total of two posts thus far. What I’d like is some ideas from the WordPress world — my visitors, readers, and followers — on what subjects I should cover. The reason why is I don’t want to come off as preachy, or a know-it-all, I don’t want it to seem like I’m trying to cram conflict down peoples’ throats. That, I don’t think, would make this a very favorable blog. Instead, I want to have discussions with other Christians, and even people of other faiths and beliefs that want to join in, and I want what we talk about to be helpful to people. So for this week I will gather any and all ideas I can get to prepare for next week. DO comment below with ANYTHING you think I should write about next Sunday!

2) You will see the remaining chapters of ‘Til The Death of Me in the coming weeks, starting on Tuesday and continuing with every following Thursday and Tuesday until it is finished. That means I am going to be doing A LOT of writing between today and tomorrow and my goal is to have the story finished by EOD (end of day) tomorrow. I’m very excited! So stay tuned at least on those days to find out where the story goes and how it ends up. 😀

Thanks for reading and see you all soon!