NO BULL

No Bull, none of the time...by Stephen Prosapio


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black and white, rossi photo, novelist
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ebooks

Good Reviews Rock!
black and white, rossi photo, novelist
no_bull_steve
Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum got it's 37th review on Amazon tonight. I'm honored, humbled, pleased, surprised and about a thousand other emotions that ALL of the 37 reviews have been positive. Some more than others, but all of them are 4-star and 5-star. Not only is the book rated high both on the overall Horror and Fantasy lists, it's the #2 rated ghost story on Amazon. That's not to say it's the #2 RANKED story in any category on Amazon...but I'm hopeful that sales will continue as word of the story spreads.

The review tonight came from a stranger. Two of the last four reviews have been from people I didn't know; one from Goodreads.com, the other a top 10 reviewer for Amazon. As for the friends -- one was from a grade-school/high-school friend. The other was from a college chum. So that rounds it out well.

The friend reviews warm my heart. I've had my share of people and situations disappoint me this year in regards to the book. I try not to take it personally (even when it's from a supposed friend), but writing is a rather personal endeavor. It takes years to write a book. More years to write a decent book. More years to get something published. Becoming a published novelist can best be described, I think, as a combination of running your own business of mostly unreliable employees (but you never know til afterwords which ones) and raising a household of unruly children who need your attention 24/7 (because for the rest of their lives they're going to be running around the world with your name attached to them).

Of course I don't expect every person I've ever met to immediately run out and buy my book, but some nominal support and understanding would be nice. One friend proved so clueless to write to me this summer "glad to see you'll be in Chicago. We would love to see you, other than the book signing."

Really?

They say that, to a Nazarene, nothing good ever came from Nazareth. I've experienced that effect this year. So when a friend either past, long past or current takes the time to read and write a review it's great feeling.

That said, having a complete stranger read and positively react to my work is something I can barely describe. It's a combination of shock/pleasure/awe/relief/gratitude/wonder/confidence on a level with nothing I've ever felt.

So for all who review, this post is for you!

DELETE!!!
black and white, rossi photo, novelist
no_bull_steve

There's absolutely NOTHING harder in writing than to "kill your darlin's" (i.e. delete things) especially when you're still trying to add length to a novel. However, it's what I had to do this past week. Cut out an entire character. This is from Chapter 3 of my work in progress:  The Atchison Haunting.

Can anyone guess why ole Bernie Pasqual had to go?



Once in the Emergency Waiting Room, a rather tall lanky man in his fifties rushed over. Boney shoulders protruded from his flannel shirt. Mostly white and combed back, his hair had retained streaks of black that matched the frames of his thick-lensed eyeglasses. The wrinkled skin from his cheekbones sagged on his face. There was worry in his blue eyes. Zach felt certain he’d never seen this man before.


“Zach?” He held out his hand and grasped Zach’s and shook it. “I heard and came over as fast as I could. News spreads quick in a small town.”

As the man spoke in rushed tones, Zach recognized his voice. “Bernie Pasqual?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Yes.” He looked at Sara and (XX - I'm not telling y'all everyone who WASN'T in the accident) who were standing behind Zach. “I’ve seen you so much on TV and we’ve talked so much on the phone this past month, I’d forgotten we haven’t met. Bernie Pasqual.”

He again shook Zach’s hand and sized him up. “You look okay. Any word on your friends?”

“We just—”

“Of course. Of course. You just got here.” Bernie grabbed a passing nurse, a squat middle-aged woman with a large flat nose. “Hillary, this boy’s friends were the ones brought in from the accident on the bridge. Any chance we could get back and see ‘em? For me?”

She mixed a smirk with a modest smile and evaluated the small group. “Bernie. Bernie. Bernie. You know the rules. I suppose, for you, I could get one of you back there with them.”

He looked to Zach. “Why don’t you go ahead back there? I’ll get the details of what happened from XX and...”

“Sara. Sara Chen.” She held out her hand. “I’m the show’s producer.”

The squat nurse seemed to be taking it all in. “So Bernie, so long as you’re here on official newspaper business, you can come on back too. Wouldn’t want to be holding back the press none.” She winked.

“Why thank you, Hillary.” He beamed at her. His blue eyes were much brighter than moments before.

Zach suspected that, in his day, Bernie Pasqual had used his charm to draw a story or two out of the female sex.

Past the entrance and waiting room, the hospital halls were nearly deserted. The nurse turned left, then right and led them down a long corridor. Bernie slowed leaving space between them and her. He nudged Zach’s arm. “Hillary’s brother is on the city council,” he whispered, as though that explained her behavior.

They entered a large room lined with beds and partitioned with white curtains to provide the illusion of privacy. Nurse Hillary motioned to the far wall. They’re over there. I’ll give you ten, fifteen minutes tops. Then I’ll need y’all to call it a night.”


22 November 1963
black and white, rossi photo, novelist
no_bull_steve
22 November 1963

It's dawn in Dallas
I turn down Houston and Elm
No sound--it's morning
No crowds--no shouts--no sirens
Not yet--all is still
Rising flame skyward
I stamp out my cigarette
I wait and I know
Low noon in Dallas
I prepare--I aim--I fire
It is finished now
Let them talk of innocence
Let them talk of youth
Thirty pieces I shall keep

~~ Stephen Prosapio
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bah-ging
black and white, rossi photo, novelist
no_bull_steve
I've gotten far too out of the habit of blogging this year opting instead for the much more frequent Facebook status (which is longer at least than the average Tweet). I guess I feel like blogging has become such a committment. I mean I have to actually SAY something in a blog post. And heck, if I'm going to take the time to SAY something, then I might as well be working on my manuscript in progress, no?

Well maybe not. Perhaps the blog can be used as merely an extended Tweet or Status Update....an extension to them where I can publicly journal. So for today I'll merely note that I'm incredibly grateful for my personal version of NaNoWriMo with my friend Jackie Bouchard. We're not doing an insane 50k words in 30 days. Last year we did 1k a day and I believe we both made 30k words for the month. This year we've both been a bit more lax. I'm at a point now (Thank God) with my manuscript (GoRA II - The Atchison Haunting)  where a "first draft" is nearly complete. It's a Frankensein-ish hodge podge of somewhat disconnected scenes and themes. I'd never let anyone actually read this mess (although the prologue is at the end of my already published novel and Chapter 1 has been given thumbs up by my writers group...which is nice). But finishing a "first draft" for me gives me a completed outline and the skeleton for the novel to be.

Having recently reread Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum (in acutal book form) I am a bit daunted. I'm really really proud of the finished product there (typos and all). It's going to take significant tweaking and polishing to get the new story up to par. I will say though, that this novel has been so difficult to write, in part, because of the deep emotional level that I go to with my lead character. It's unlike anything I've written before. Getting it right will be an accomplishment for me. Something to be proud of.

I hope.

Deleted Scene
black and white, rossi photo, novelist
no_bull_steve
SPOILER ALERT:  Please do not read these scenes if you've not yet read my novel GHOSTS OF ROSEWOOD ASYLUM. Spoilers will be contained in these Deleted Scenes.

WARNING:  Please do not read these scenes if you've not yet read my novel
GHOSTS OF ROSEWOOD ASYLUM. Out of context, these scenes will likely either mean nothing to you, or worse, they'll confuse you.

BAD WRITING WARNING:  Please do not read these scenes if you've not yet read my novel
GHOSTS OF ROSEWOOD ASYLUM ESPECIALLY IF you're deciding upon a GHOSTS OF ROSEWOOD ASYLUM purchase. There are reasons these scenes did not make the finished book--one of the primary reasons is that many contain BAD WRITING!

This scene had been right before XPI actually does begin investigating Rosewood. It takes way too long to get to the point. In the novel, we get to the action much more quickly.


Like an expectant child rising at dawn’s first light on Christmas morning, Zach awoke early and couldn’t fall back asleep. He didn’t attempt it long before heading out to Rosewood. He was the first to arrive. Indian summer had brought unseasonably warm temperatures and sunny skies, even at the morning hour.

Wendy showed up not long after but, as was her custom, barely said two words to Zach before sulking off to the side to obsessively study her note cards. The next to arrive was Rico, the Demon Hunters Lead InvestiHunter. From the episodes Zach had watched, Rico was a decent paranormal investigator but tended to assume every case pointed to evidence of either the site having been built over ancient, Native American burial grounds, or demonic possession. Occasionally the show aired scenes that distinctly displayed tension between Rico and Bryce. Zach wasn’t certain how much of that was accurate versus manufactured drama, but he suspected that, at some point, Rico would branch off Demon Hunters and host his own show.

Apparently undaunted over not being selected as an investigator, traditionally tardy Matthew Morgan arrived at 7:45 AM, a full fifteen minutes early. Perhaps he was on his best behavior in the hopes that Zach would change his mind and allow him to investigate. If he was, he and his red baseball cap would be severely disappointed. The more Zach had considered the task ahead, the more he understood that it was a technical nightmare—it was going to take a lot of power to generate their cameras and lights. Moreover, the cameras and video equipment would require substantial effort to properly situate and set up. Depending on the location of paranormal activity being experienced, they may need to reposition the video feeds in an attempt to document it.

A rush of arrivals occurred as eight o’clock drew near. Before the hour struck, all except Sashza were present and accounted for. Apparently, Bryce had told her to take the morning session off and seemed confident that she’d show up for her psychic walkthrough that evening. Just in case, Zach had called XPI’s psychic consultant, Hunter Martin, and asked him to standby in case of an emergency. Zach took it as a great sign that no one from either team was late –or, better yet, appeared hung over, not even his new friend, Pierre. The only person looking weary, but wasn’t too tired to give him the evil eye, was Wendy.

“What’s that look for?”

“Gee, Zach. Maybe for waiting until the last minute to give me that information last night? I had to pull all kinds of strings to get what I got at that hour and I’m still nowhere near finished.”

“About the fires? Like I told you, it was a last-minute tip. Did you find something?”

Wendy appeared all the more peeved that Zach was ignoring her prima donna act. She wasn’t used to boys not falling over themselves for her when she batted her crystal blue eyes.

“Yes. I found something.”

“What?”

She faked a yawn. “Well, it’s a lot to get into. Can I just save it for the briefing?”

In the interests of time, he had to agree with her. Sara had brought along two camera operators and the sound crew had been working since 7:30 to make sure the street traffic didn’t interfere with their shoot.



Zach gets digits!
black and white, rossi photo, novelist
no_bull_steve

It's time for DELETED SCENES!

SPOILER ALERT:  Please do not read these scenes if you've not yet read my novel
GHOSTS OF ROSEWOOD ASYLUM. Spoilers will be contained in these Deleted Scenes.

WARNING:  Please do not read these scenes if you've not yet read my novel
GHOSTS OF ROSEWOOD ASYLUM. Out of context, these scenes will likely either mean nothing to you, or worse, they'll confuse you.

BAD WRITING WARNING:  Please do not read these scenes if you've not yet read my novel
GHOSTS OF ROSEWOOD ASYLUM ESPECIALLY IF you're deciding upon a
GHOSTS OF ROSEWOOD ASYLUM purchase. There are reasons these scenes did not make the finished book--one of the primary reasons is that many contain BAD WRITING!

This scene opened Chapter Twenty Six (pg 161). I think the writing is pretty tight and the scene in and of itself flows well, but by this point in the story the pace needs to continue to accelerate and this scene brings it to a crashing halt. The character of Chelsea intrigues me. After writing the scene, I mused that she may show up in future episodes of XPI...and she well may.

Chelsea

 Young people packed Muses Coffee House. There wasn’t a table available. Chicago State University was just a mile or so up the road, and south Pullman was the trendiest area within a quick driving distance. Zach had gotten a text message from Angel just minutes after talking to Rebecca: 

Need 2 talk 2 u offsite. Meet @ muses @ 1?

Zach hoped to also catch Evelyn there early, but as she was nowhere to be seen, he ordered a decaf coffee.

“Decaf at this hour?”

The woman’s voice came from behind him. He turned expecting, maybe wishing, to see Evelyn; instead a black lady with a slim figure but wide hips was smiling at him. She was short, about his age, maybe a couple of years younger. Her perfect smile radiating white against her extremely dark skin was mesmerizing. Zach said nothing.

“I thought that was you,” she said. “Zach?”

“Yes.” He felt no twinge of familiarity. It used to frighten him, but even though he often couldn’t remember people’s names, he had outstanding facial recognition skills. He hardly ever forgot a face and he’d certainly not easily have forgotten this one. These occurrences were happening more frequently, especially since Sci-D TV had started rerunning XPI episodes on Thursday nights, after the late-night talk shows were over.

“You don’t know me,” she verified, “but I’m one of your biggest fans. I hope that doesn’t sound too cliché.”

“No, not at all,” Zach lied. “What’s your name?”

“Oh, God. How rude of me!” She rolled her eyes, and her smile turned to one of embarrassment. If not for her ebony skin, Zach suspected she’d be blushing. She held out her hand. “My name’s Chelsea.”

He took her hand. Soft. Welcoming, but firm. “Nice to meet you, Chelsea. I’m Zach.”

“I know. Would you sign my cup?” She offered the Muses cup and a felt-tip pen.

“Sure. The cup itself or the sleeve?”

“The cup,” she said, winking. “And could you maybe sign the sleeve for my friend, Amber?” Her wide smile returned and he found it intoxicating.

As Zach was autographing, he looked up every time the chime on the door signaled a new visitor. He was expecting Angel but held out hope that it might be Evelyn.

“Are you expecting someone?” Chelsea asked. “A girlfriend or something?”

Zach smiled. “Just a friend. A work friend, Angel—from the show.”

“Oh, sure, Angel. He’s cool. Well, I won’t keep you and thanks for the autograph.” She handed him a folded piece of paper that appeared to have been torn from a notebook. “It’s my phone number,” she said boldly. Then her voice cracked a bit. “Ya know, in case you ever need a date to an awards show or something...”

Ebony skin or not, she was blushing. A thin layer of perspiration had formed on her forehead as well.

Zach thanked her, but didn’t know what else to say. Other fans and even clients had flirted with him. This was different—she was hot.

Before he could decide what to do, the door chimed. It was Angel. Zach was being saved, quite literally, by the bell, but he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to be saved.

Angel approached. “Am I interrupting something?”

Chelsea must have seen it as a chance to escape and, after another stunning smile, faded into the coffee house’s hustle and bustle.

“Nope,” Zach said, breaking his gaze on her, “just a fan.”

“You’ll be seeing a lot of those around here now.” Angel sighed. When Zach didn’t immediately respond, Angel explained. “Good Morning Chi-Town blew our cover. There have been people hanging around the main gate since about noon.”

“Ugh.”




It's My (dating) Life...
black and white, rossi photo, novelist
no_bull_steve

People think I exaggerate my life…especially my dating/flirting experiences. I swear to God above that I’ve not changed ONE WORD of this email exchange. Keep in mind she wrote to me….and keep an eye on the dates/times.

 

 

May 12 at 10:47pm Report

Will your video be available in YouTube?

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 12 at 10:55pm I hope so!!!

:-) .

 May 12 at 11:00pm Report

well keep me posted...i dont read book much unless..only fortune cookies... Jk..

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

Stephen Prosapio May 12 at 11:03pm don't read much??? booooooo

probably cuz your eyes are so bad though huh? those look to be some pretty thick glasses!!! .

 

 May 12 at 11:04pm Report

Yes my eyes are bad... Just dont have the time to read unless I have to study

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 12 at 11:08pm I was joking...I meant the glasses in your profile picture!

:-P

 

Too bad. So cute and not into reading....just my luck.

:-( .

 

 May 12 at 11:12pm Report

Haha... Im on the computer all day...i would love to read...

 

I wouldn't mind reading your ghost of rosewood asylum... This sounds scary...

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 12 at 11:16pm tell you what, if you read it, I'll take you out to a nice dinner? .

 

 May 12 at 11:17pm Report

Well umm ahhh..ummm okay

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 May 12 at 11:17pm Report

Well umm ahhh..ummm okay

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 May 12 at 11:18pm Report

Your not gonna ask me question about the book are you?

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 12 at 11:20pm yep. like a test. and we'll have to think up a punishment for each question you get wrong. lol .

 

May 12 at 11:24pm Report

Dammit... That's okay. I have a phone that can help me Google

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 12 at 11:26pm okay then. hey you're in Orange? We should meet halfway for coffee sometime. .

 

 May 12 at 11:31pm Report

Im not in orange anymore. Im in garden grove. There's a lot of good coffee out here compare to Starbucks..

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 May 12 at 11:32pm Report

My friend goes out in san Diego at times... I'll let you know when im in town..how bout that?

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 12 at 11:41pm that sounds good. I'm in Oceanside. there's a cool place here in Carlsbad. You could stop and rest on your next trip down.

:-) .

 

 May 12 at 11:42pm Report

Your funny...=P

 

Where's a nice place to go?

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 12 at 11:49pm called the Daily Grind I think .

 May 12 at 11:50pm Report

 

That's a coffee shop... We have one by my work in signal hill

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

Stephen Prosapio May 12 at 11:52pm :-D

see? I have good taste. .

 

May 12 at 11:53pm Report

What are you doing up anyways its late..

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 12 at 11:53pm what kind of work do you do? .

 May 12 at 11:54pm Report

Healthcare.. IT dept

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 12 at 11:55pm oh cool. you're lucky I don't work there. I'd have a problem every day with my computer just so you'd have to come see me. .

 

 May 12 at 11:56pm Report

Waiting for my national board exam so I can work in the hospital as a healthcare administrator... =) my fingers are crossed

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 12 at 11:56pm oh cool! we need good people for that! .

 

 May 12 at 11:57pm Report

Well that's my dream... Im just a custodian..

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 May 12 at 11:58pm Report

Ooohkay

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

Stephen Prosapio May 12 at 11:58pm you could take care of me any day. .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 12 at 11:59pm why are you single? are men up in OC crazy or all gay? .

 May 13 at 12:00am Report

 

Well my boyfriend broke up with me on april27... We still live together but he sleeps in the kids room...

 

Man out here I think their not appreciative and take things for granted...

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 13 at 12:02am ohhhh I'm so sorry about that. It's probably for the best though. You should never be taken for granted. And you certainly won't be single for long. I guarantee that!!! .

 

May 13 at 12:03am Report

man in OC are gay...i want to move out of this state. People are inappreciative...

 

Fuck'em...excuse my slang

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 13 at 12:04am I so love the ocean but know what you mean. where should we move to? Oregon? .

 

May 13 at 12:06am Report

Hmmmm. I've never thought of Oregon... Tho its nice up there...(I heard)

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 13 at 12:06am where do you like? .

 May 13 at 12:07am Report

"We?"

 

Ur crazy...so what happened, why are you a bachelor?

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 May 13 at 12:08am Report

Maybe Canada, Egypt, bora bora, anywhere except here

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 13 at 12:09am hee hee - I thought you'd like that "we"

I just never found the right girl. I'm pretty picky and expect to be treated really well. .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 13 at 12:10am Canada is too cold. Egypt??? Wayyyy too dangerous. Bora Bora might be nice....expensive though. How about Italy? .

 

May 13 at 12:11am Report

Si... I heard Italian man are romantic...

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 13 at 12:13am yes. I speak Italian. I reconnected with some relatives we have there. .

 

 May 13 at 12:16am Report

Well looks like we're in the same boat... All the good ones are taken by bitches...

Im just disappointed... I expect to be treated really good too...

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 May 13 at 12:20am Report

Wow you speak Italian huh.. Can you cook? I love pasta

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 13 at 12:28am Si! I don't cool a lot because I live alone but I enjoy doing it...espeically for friends or family. Nothing too exotic but I know how to make some good things.

 

How about you? .

 May 13 at 12:31am Report

I can cook... Different types...if I dont know how, I Google it...

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 Stephen Prosapio May 13 at 12:32am google is a great thing eh?

 

so where are you originally from? .

 

 May 13 at 12:34am Report

Born and raise in California... Im Filipina...

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 May 13 at 12:34am Report

Im an islander...=D

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 13 at 12:36am oh cool. good people come from there I've heard. Are you Catholic? Religious? .

 May 13 at 12:38am Report

 

Im a strong believer but I dont practice...

 

I was born and raised roman catholic... But converted to Christianity..

 

Now I want to study Buddhism..

 

How about you?

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 May 13 at 12:40am Report

Its getting late... Im getting sleepy...

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 13 at 12:41am okay baby doll....sleep good. sweet dreams of us.

;-) .

 

 Stephen Prosapio May 13 at 12:41am oh I was raised catholic and am christian but also very open to other things. Not so much into religion more into spirituality .

 

 May 13 at 12:55am Report

Same here

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 May 13 at 12:57am Report

Awww you're such a sweet talker..

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 May 13 at 1:00am Report

My apology to keeping you up...

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 Stephen Prosapio May 13 at 3:21am you didn't keep me up. I'm only going to bed now....was working on my manuscript cleaning it up etc. talk soon! .

 

 May 13 at 6:13am Report

Good morning... Wake your ass up... Jk..

 

Well today is a glorious day, make this day great!!!

 

Happy Friday...

 

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 Stephen Prosapio May 13 at 9:29am I'm up. I'm up already....sheesh!

 

 

 *************************************

 

 

June 5 at 3:41pm Report

My boyfriend thinks your trying to ask me out on a date, when u truly said you'll take me to a nice dinner if I read your books... I dont think he read all our conversation...

 

Well ttyl Stephen... Hope you enjoy this bright sunny day!

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio June 5 at 3:45pm AHAAHAHA. Funny. That was a long time ago. He

must be scrolling back pretty far! I don't think you even had a bf back then! .

 

 June 5 at 3:46pm Report

No he was reading it from last month when he broke up with me while we still live together...

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 June 5 at 3:47pm Report

Well its no biggy...

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 Stephen Prosapio June 5 at 4:07pm
:-)

 

 *************************************

 

June 22 at 3:56pm Report

Hi Stephan,

 

I am gonna have to unfriend you or take me out of your fan page.. You asking me to read a book and your offer to take me to dinner if I read your book has cost me my relationship... My boyfriend who broke up with me and we both live together said i cheated and we were going out... So that's all...

Sent via Facebook Mobile .

 

 June 22 at 3:59pm Report

Which I haven't even met you and only read partial of your asylum book...



Memorial Day
black and white, rossi photo, novelist
no_bull_steve
It was a beautiful April day in Normandie the afternoon I walked along its most famous beach. The sun shone brightly, the clouds were high and the surf was out farther than I’d ever seen it at home. That morning I’d driven up from Caen not really knowing where I was going or what I’d see, just knowing I had to see the D-Day beaches.

 

That morning I had stopped in a small town along the coast. I got a cappuccino or something of the sort. It looked to be a strong coffee that she—the barista—almost sprayed whip cream into it before I stopped her. I don’t do whipped cream. Even without it, it had been a tasty coffee.

 

Anyway I explored the town and headed north to the beaches. I parked and continued north. People jogged along OmahaBeach. There were boats. Believe it or not, there were people horseback riding. I thought how ironic that a place where so many had died now was so alive. Was it disrespectful? It felt so for a moment, then I remembered that those lives were given so that people could enjoy freedom.

 

I walked up to the American cemetery. An emotional day became even more intense as I strode through the grave markers.

 

I don’t care your political persuasion or party affiliation. I don’t care how supportive or unsupportive you’ve been for any particular military conflict. If you’ve not been to a military cemetery, you can’t possibly have an accurate perspective on the numbers of men lost in these conflicts. I thought I could. Four thousand lost equaled the amount of my High School class. Twenty thousand lost totaled the amount of a semi-filled baseball park. However, standing among them—among the dead soldiers—the shocking and amazing numbers make sense.

 

The world “overwhelm” is used far to often in our society. However, it’s nothing short of overwhelming to see all those graves lined up. So far from home.

 

And then I saw the numbers.

 

At first, I assumed they marked the gravesites. They were assigned to give family a way to find their loved and lost or their distant relations. I made note of the #22 on the grave I stood in front of. Later, I supposed, I’d look up that man and keep him as a memory of the day. Next to that grave, the number at the bottom read 19. In front of these was a #20. They were in no order. Random? Then I spied another #22. Another #20. Another #22. A #21. These weren’t designations...these were their ages at their time of death. Twenty, twenty-two. A few were twenty-four years old.

 

So young. So far from home—I felt so far from home myself—but they’d never return. To their wives, their girlfriends, their families or friends. Thousands of them. Tens of thousands. The overwhelm consumed me. I’ll never forget it.



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