The Corsair: A Promise is a Promise
This episode is dedicated to women and hot mommas
The Hot Mommas Project is an award-winning social venture that encourages young women to be confident, courageous and strong. Follow @ChiefHotMomma on Twitter to learn more.
The previous episode of The Corsair is here.
Annie Lennox, Sweet Dreams
Stacie Rohr looked at a drawing of her and Rosa Parks holding hands in front of an old Montgomery bus. Stacie thought back to the day Rosa faced the police officers on the bus. Rosa wouldn’t be moved around like an animal.
She leaned out the open bus window and made a promise to Rosa Parks as a policeman pushed her into the back of the police car. She would carry Rosa’s fight for the dignity of the person (human, alien or otherwise] until the end of time.
On December 1, 1955, Stacie Rohr, an illegal alien with two hearts, fell in love with humanity.
“I won’t forget you, Rosa,” she said, and closed her leather-bound journal. “A promise is a promise.”
But Stacie also knew that promises are not always easy to keep. Occasionally, a promise made itself difficult to keep. Because a promise can be its own foil. And several promises – they can easily become labyrinth of negotiation and good faith.
Turning her attention to her Twitter stream, a tweet caught Stacie’s eye.
Why is a promise a promise?
Stacie switched back and forth between browser windows as she replied and drove her team of Marvel superheroes to one PVP fight victory after another.
A promise is a promise because we are nothing if the content of our character is found lacking. #IWDfire
Hearts and hands must ever be true. We must be true to others – if we ever hope to be true to ourselves. #IWDfire
Back in the game, Stacie started the fight with Wolverine in an infiltrator uniform. She attacked her opponent’s agent with Wolverine’s Feral Ambush. Wolverine leapt to action – his slashing claws ripped at the agent and left the target stunned. Next, her agent was up. Stacie used the Scroll of Angolob to get rid of the debuffs on her heroes – debuffs landed at the start from the opponent’s Dr. Strange. Then, she attacked the opponent’s agent with the Sinister Scepter. The damage was negligible, but her agent slipped into Astral Form rendering it immune to all attacks for the next several rounds.
Stacie switched back over to Twitter.
There’s no greater success and no higher happiness than to be true to ourselves. #IWDfire #IWD
To embody the True, the Good and the Beautiful. That’s what it means to be true to ourselves. #IWDfire #IWD
Switching over again, she launched Phoenix’s Telekinesis attack on Dr. Strange. The attack, however, was diverted to her opponent’s Wolverine – leaving him stunned after having a one ton boulder dropped on him.
Back on Twitter, Stacie completed her thoughts about being true to oneself.
To be true, one must love and give and lift up – without prejudice and cunning! #IWDfire #IWD
Stacie sat back in her red leather armchair.
She really wasn’t happy that her message was fragmented and lost in the noise due to the 140 character limit of each send. The platform was inadequate and that’s why Twitter didn’t have another five years – not as a major social platform. G+ and Facebook would ultimately prevail – unless Twitter had been rethought. Yesterday…
A social platform, Stacie thought to herself, has to do more than prompt fleeting connections. It has to empower people to share, collaborate and help each other to grow. To dream bigger. To do amazing things!
She copied and pasted her tweets into a unified, plain text message in a new Gmail message, pasted that to her Facebook and G+ accounts, and smiled.
“Good morning, Glorious PC Gaming Master Race Person!” Gray said loud and cheerfully as he came up the steps.
Gray, Stacie’s personal assistant, was late again and he was trying (yet again) to disarm her with a cheerful greeting.
“Where’s my flowers?” Stacie asked teasingly as she looked up from her laptop.
“Flowers?” Gray asked, perplexed.
“It’s International Women’s Day,” replied Stacie.
Gray grinned as his eyes searched left and right for a touching reply.
“You know, I thought about bringing you flowers, but I rode my bike, today…”
Stacie cut him off in mid lie. She never expected flowers from Gray. Or for him to know it was International Women’s Day. But the lie – that was annoying.
Stacie wagged her index finger at him in a corrective gesture.
“So you’re saying that you knew it was Women’s Day but you only thought about YOU?
Gray shrugged and rolled his eyes.
Who cares about Women’s Day?! Gray thought to himself. What’s up with the drama!
Stacie looked up from her laptop, took her glasses off, and raised a glass of red wine to her lips – Thracians’ Mystery from the Todoroff vineyards of Bulgaria. She took a sip and enjoyed the gentle balance of fruit, oak and vanilla.
“Do you only DO what feels good to you – without any consideration of others? Regardless of your commitments and everyone else?”
Gray looked out the window and admired his red motorcycle – a Ducati 1199 Panigale sport bike.
That’s what I’m talking about, he thought to himself. Like a true nature’s child, We were born, born to be wild…
“Meh is an indomitable rejection of a world of we – of the value and dignity of others, of all creation, and, ultimately, yourself.”
“Yoo hoo! I’m talking to you,” Stacie called out.
“You know, you didn’t take the boxes to the post office, yesterday. Even after you said you would. And, seriously, it’s your job, Mister Born to be Wild.
Doing your job is why you’re here. It’s why you get paid.”
Shit happens, Gray thought to himself. I’ll take the boxes tomorrow. So what if people have to wait a few more days for their tee shirts. Like it’s going to kill them?
“I’m sorry about that, Miss Rohr. I won’t let you down again. That’s a promise…”
Gray wondered if he shouldn’t have stayed home and spent some quality time in his favorite X-Box, shooter game, Call of Duty. He loved sniping the noobs.
Meanwhile, Stacie considered terminating his employment without further delay.
But then there was that thing about the Daleks – that mad race of oysters in power armor. She drained her wine glass and put it on the side table next to her.
“You obviously have little regard for others. You must learn respect.”
“Didn’t Wonder Woman say something like that?” Gray asked with a smirk. He had read that somewhere on Know Your Meme.
“But I want you to know that I recognize that I’ve failed you. I’m going to do better…”
Victory in hand with his snappy retort, Gray thoughts turned to his happy place. Hot tub. Pretty lady on his arm – someone incapable of deep thoughts and strong feelings about things that matter. Big Gulp in his hand…
“That’s kinda pathetic for a happy place,” Az told Stacie via their telepathic link.
“You should have lobotomized Gray instead of just erasing his short term memory.”
Stacie continued with what she had to say.
“You know, Gray… my biggest problem with modern celebrations is that they have no rituals or deep feeling – nothing to bring us together into a sacred space. The fragmented sentimentality never fails to remind me of the overwhelming insincerity, disconnection and dishonesty that charade as contemporary civility and thoughtfulness.”
“What,” Gray said.
Was she taking about Women’s Day again? Gray wondered. Then he considered that this was the right moment to make a self-effacing comment.
A little vulnerability would help smooth over the hiccup.
“People have said, I lack… substance. But I say, sticks and stones…”
Stacie laughed at him.
“It’s so hard being you, Gray.
Am I right?”
Meh, Gray thought. Was she being nice or putting him in his place?
He was confused.
“No, not meh,” returned Stacie calmly as she turned her gaze back to the Marvel Avenges Alliance game.
Using her agent’s Sinister Scepter to hit her new opponent’s agent, her agent went into Astral Form. Next, Stacie had Wolverine hit her opponent’s agent with Adamantium claws – she’d bleed that agent out. Wolverine’s claws flashed as blood sprayed.
“Sometimes, I think that the Meh is the problem with the world,” Stacie continued to say.
“It’s broken because of this epidemic of Meh and self-centered indifference. I’m talking about the world. The world is broken…”
Gray had no idea what Stacie was talking about.
Meanwhile Stacie finished the PVP fight in victory and logged out of the game. Then she looked up at Gray who was sitting on the table in the middle of the room. She continued her explanation.
“Whatever or meh – every time you say it, you reject the sacred circle of life. Meh is an indomitable rejection of a world of we – of the value and dignity of others, of all creation, and, ultimately, yourself.
Too much information, Gray thought to himself. Does this HATER ever shut up?
“I never thought about it that way…” Gray replied.
“The thing is, Gray, you’re not one in competition with the world. As the people of the Lakota would say, you are one WITH the world.”
Gray interrupted Stacie – he couldn’t help himself.
“Since the Lakota aren’t a flourishing civilization that commands the world’s attention, admiration or envy, I have to say I’m not impressed. Or, put it another way, the Lakota are…
“You’re ignorance and arrogance is… irrelevant,” Stacie replied cooly.
“Ok, fine. I get your point. Whatever…” Gray mumbled.
“You did it again,” Stacie noted out loud, put her laptop down, and got up. He read the text on her tee shirt – the text just above the running buffalo.
Respect for Creation strongly moves the heart of the true leader’s servant nature – this everyone can easily see and admire.
Ain’t nobody got time for that, Gray thought to himself.
“Hello!” Stacie called out.
“What?” Gray stammered.
“What, indeed,” replied Stacie.
“What is your malfunction, Gray?”
“Let’s dump him in the Void,” recommended Az. “Give him some time to ponder it among the Daleks and zombies that wander the desolate zone.
Imagine if he fell into the gun sight of a Dalek, Stacie. That would be an unprecedented paradox. It would change everything.”
Gray didn’t hear Az’s monologue (or know who Az was or that Az was there) but Stacie smiled.
Az’s telepathy allowed Az not only to know the thoughts of others and speak to them directly (via telepathic link) but he also shared their thoughts with Stacie. Stacie knew everything going on in Gray’s little brain.
Gray also smiled, misjudging Stacie’s smile for another (mistaken) win.
He started thinking of food.
Am I in the mood for Baja Fresh, Sweetleaf, Burger King? I’m in the mood for something refreshing – Sweetleaf.
Hungry, Gray thought about heading out to lunch.
“Are we done here? Or am I being obtuse?”
Stacie took a deep breath and then lifted a vase with a short cutting of magnolia flowers to her nose. She inhaled the honey, vanilla and lemon perfume.
Do I want avocado or alfalfa sprouts on my sandwich, Gray wondered to himself. Maybe, both.
Do it, Az.
Gray heard a crazy R2-D2 ring tone.
In the blink of an eye, they had traveled across the span of the universe to the Void.
“Why don’t you take a break and we’ll take about it, later,” Stacie proposed to Gray.
“Sure thing, boss,” he replied – wasting no time to turn, go down the steps and fly out the door.
Gray stepped outside. It was dark.
Must be an eclipse, he thought to himself.
A large, silvery trash can (skirted with columns of black half-spheres) glided toward Gray. It must have been close to 6 feet tall.
“When did you get the robotic trash can?” Gray yelled back to Stacie. “It’s pretty cool. Sharper Image?”
“Intruder Alert! Intruder ALERT! INTRUDER ALERT!”
The Dalek screeched at Gray. Several lights flashed on the domed head as it spoke and it pointed a plunger at Gray.
“That’s a Dalek,” Stacie explained to Gray as she causally walked down the steps.
“Daleks are cyborgs – oysters in power armor. With a side dish of obtuse. Ironically, their ancestoral DNA was human DNA. Someone you know, in fact. Survival of the fittest – it’s typically a very ugly business…”
Again, Gray had no idea what Stacie was talking about.
“The Dalek is the triumph of your own unbounded ambition, ignorance and fear,” explained Stacie with a note of sarcasm.
“This is your glorious descendant, Gray. At some point in your future, you get kidnapped by a rogue time agent and sold to the Kaleds in the distant past. You’re one of six humans that are harvested for radiation resistant genetics. The Daleks, the talking trash cans as you call them, are all that survive of the Kaled race… and you.
Give him a fist bump and say hello to family.”
The Dalek screeched at Gray again.
“The HU-man will report! What is your mission?! Where is the HU-man infestation? We must TERMINATE the infestation!”
Stacie tossed a magnolia flower at the Dalek. It’s midsection rotated and a silvery tentacle whipped out and tore the flower to pieces.
“The void is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places,” Stacie told the Dalek with great solemnity and sarcasm.
The Dalek didn’t respond.
“I’m going to get lunch,” Gray replied impatiently – he was unimpressed by what he believed to be a talking trash can – even if it was a very, very large trash can.
“IRRELEVANT!” screamed the Dalek in it’s high-pitched, electronic voice.
“Move aside, garbage can. I’m hungry,” Gray told the Dalek and took a step forward.
The mid section of the Dalek rotated again and the silver tentacle lashed out at Gray’s forehead. Stacie pulled Gray back in the nick of time.
“You almost killed Gray,” said Stacie. That’s not very intelligent. If you want to get information on the whereabouts of the human infestation, you have to keep him alive…”
The dome head rotated and a black tentacle (ending in a bulb) swayed back and forth on the dome as if it was eyeing both Gray and Stacie.
“I’m seriously bored already,” said Gray.
“The family resemblance is annoyingly obvious,” Az told Stacie.
Not thinking about the narrowly avoided attack, Gray started walking in the direction of where he had parked his motorcycle on Earth. Still, he gave the talking trash can a wide berth.
A silver tentacle lashed out across the two yards between it and Gray and struck his calf. The tentacle ripped through Gray’s pants and took off a square inch of flesh.
Gray screamed out in pain and fell where he had stood. Blood flowed down his leg.
“You didn’t have to do that!” Stacie yelled at the Dalek. Her hazel irises seemed to almost flame on with a faint orange glow.
“Last chance to give your heir a fist bump, Gray…”
Stacie took a black ball out of the pocket of her frock coat, knelt down beside Gray on the ground, and rolled the ball toward the Dalek.
As Stacie took off her sash and made a tourniquet, the black ball thumped against the bumper at the base of the Dalek. Then it melted and rolled up its skirted base like liquid. Several smalls jets of steam shot out length-wise as the black liquid rolled up to the dome.
The Dalek wildly flailed its silver tentacle at an invisible enemy. The black tentacle on its dome head whipped back and forth.
“EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! ALL HU-MANS MUST BE EXTERMINATED!
The tentacles went limp and the lights on the Dalek went out. Jets of yellowish steam shot out from the entry points in the Dalek’s armor. The air around them reeked of boiling kidneys.
“Ouf! I’ll never get used to the smell of a TICU dining on Kaledan oysters,” Stacey remarked as she pinched her nostrils shut with one hand.
With her free hand, Stacy helped Gray up. Letting him get his balance, she went over to the dead Dalek and left her calling card – wedging it on the mid section.
“What’s going on?” Gray asked. “It just isn’t right. It doesn’t make sense. Daleks can’t be real! This is all some elaborate punk or something. Right?
“Do you really want to know? Seriously?” Stacie asked.
Stacie and Gray heard a long, wheezy exhale in the darkness. At the same time, Stacie’s smart phone chirped. She got a message from Nisha.
Just saw your Facebook PM about the future. Loved it!
If we care about the future, we have to be a part of making it! #startup #HotMommas #change
So what’s the big start up idea? I’m excited! I know you’re going to do something amazing…
Stacie and Nisha texted back and forth.
Hey you! How are you?
I’m good, Stacie.
But I need to do something amazing. I feel a little stuck in the rut…
Aw! It will be amazing, NIsha. I promise! Let’s skype. How about an hour from now?
“I can’t believe you’re texting in the middle of this nightmare!” Gray shouted at Stacie.
What now? Gray wondered as he caught a glimpse of movement in the darkness.
Then he turned back to Stacie.
“What did you mean when you said that the Dalek was the triumph of my own unbounded ambition, ignorance and fear?”
“Your DNA was one of six human samples sourced in the founding of the Kaled race – the humanoid ancestors of the Dalek.
“You say what a lot…
“Is that a speech impediment? Or a symptom of a mental disorder?” Stacie asked matter-of-factly as she helped Gray limp toward the door.
Gray didn’t have a comeback for that one, but he wished he did.
As they entered the house, Gray looked over his shoulder and recognized the mutilated face of his best friend, Max.
Max was a trickster. This was so like Max…
“Cut the crap, Max. I know it’s you,” said Gray.
Stacie helped Gray to sit on the bottom steps of the staircase and turned to face Max. He was still a few yards from the door and moving slowly.
“Looks like Max is a zombie, Gray. I suppose he’s hungry,” warned Stacie. “That’s all zombie’s seem to care about. Protein. Mostly.”
She held out a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup to Gray.
“Peanut Butter Cup?”
Gray waved away the Peanut Butter Cup and Stacie popped it in her mouth.
Gray turned his attention back to Max.
“Quit messing around Max. I need to go to the hospital. I need you to drive me…”
Max didn’t answer as he continued to stagger forward. Stacie mumbled something – her mouth full of peanut butter cup.
Stacie’s smart phone chirped again.
Happy International Women’s Day!
As Max passed in range of the black light bulb at the entrance, his eyes fluoresced yellow. It also looked like blood was caked around his mouth.
“I don’t need this. I don’t want any more crazy,” Gray whined.
Three black balls rolled out from the dead Dalek, past Max’s foot steps, bounced up the door step and, then, bounced up the steps past Gray. Gray scooted over as they bounced up the steps past him.
What. Am I going crazy? Gray asked himself.
Meanwhile, Max was almost at the door and he outstretched his hand toward Gray.
Stacie took a machete from the umbrella stand and chopped off Max’s hand.
A huge surge of blue electrical energy arced between the machete and Max as Max’s hand flew and landed near Gray. A hot, steamy, florescent yellow ooze spilled from the cut and the smell of burned meat filled Gray’s nose. Max twitched in place. Then Stacie planted her foot in Max’s chest and pushed him several yards back from the open door way where he fell down and continued to twitch.
“Did you just use a taser sword on Max?” Gray asked – almost excited.
“Taser… machette. And Max was not Max,” corrected Stacie.
“But, maybe, you want to do something about that. Maybe, you want to prevent this from happening to Max. Prevent it from happening to your sister…
Maybe, you want to make a difference?
Because you can do it, Gray. You have it in you to make a difference! You have a chance here to grow, learn, and be amazing.
“No!” Gray shouted back at Stacie.
“This – it’s just a nightmare. I’m going to wake up and none of this will matter…
I’m going to wake up and look out the window. It’s going to be a sunny day. I’m going to hop on my bike and take off like a rocket.
Who knows, maybe you’ll give me a raise too. Because I’m the best PA ever. I can say things like that, right? Because this is my nightmare. Right?”
Stacie sighed and pulled the sonic screwdriver out of her jeans back pocket. Then she kicked the door shut.
“You’re not crazy, Gray. You’re also not very perceptive or flexible in your thinking. Your survival instincts really suck. And you don’t adapt well to new information and situations. But you’re not crazy…
Think of it like this. You’re like an oyster at the raw bar. The shucking is unavoidable. You’re going to be eaten alive. Ok, that sucks. But you can go out fighting. What you can’t do is prevent the inevitable.”
Gray didn’t get it but he was curious about why Stacie was helping him.
“Why do you care?” he asked.
“I made a promise to a little girl that had lost her mother and father, Stacie replied.
“I made a promise to that little girl that I wouldn’t let the world fall apart. Not on my watch…”
A tear slipped from Stacie’s eye.
Gray wondered if she was talking about herself. Then his thoughts returned to his favorite subject, him.
“I just want to wake up from this nightmare,” Gray whined. I don’t want to remember anything.”
Stacie put a finger on Gray’s forehead – her nail pushing upon it but not hard enough to break the skin.
“What if Rosa Parks hadn’t refused to give up her seat on the Cleveland Avenue bus?”
“What if she decided if would be easier to give her seat so that a white man wouldn’t have to sit near the colored folk?”
“What if Rosa had moved when that bus driver, James Blake, threatened to call the police and have her arrested?”
Stacie paused so Gray could think it over.
“Do the right thing, Gray. We can stand against the darkness.”
“No! I told you; I want to forget this nightmare,” Gray begged as he stared at his feet. “I just want to forget this madness.”
“Your malfunction is really getting on my nerves, Gray.”
“Just roll him out the door and let Max have a snicker-snack,” Az said to Stacie.
“I know!” Stacie said out loud.
“But did you ever stop to think, Az. Did you ever stop to think why the Daleks are so obtuse?
Being so obtuse, they’ve never been unmanageable in small numbers. 10,000 or less. NOW we know why…”
“Greatness is like a swelling wave that travels a thousand miles and with the pushing and pulling of ten thousand forces – all of that before the salty wave roars, thunders and sprays upon a beach.”
Gray wasn’t sure if Stacie was talking to him, herself or an imaginary friend.
Maybe, she’s crazy too…
Stacie spoke to Gray.
“If we care about the future, we have to be a part of making it.
That’s why I want you to choose to remember, Gray. Because – if you don’t remember what happened today, you can’t learn from it and build something beautiful with it.
This is a second chance. This is your chance to keep your promise to your little sister. Remember that?
Do you remember ten years ago when your parents had gone out. You and your sister watched Romero’s cult classic, Dawn of the Dead, and she got so scared that she couldn’t to go to bed. And you promised her, Gray. You promised her that you’d never let the zombies get her. Remember that?”
Gray didn’t want to hear more. He didn’t want to remember anything. He put his downcast face into his hands.
He was ashamed but he was more afraid than ashamed. Gray was afraid to face the future. He wanted to live for today. Not tomorrow. Or yesterday. He just wanted to enjoy a stress-free today. That was Gray’s greatest ambition. That’s all he wanted.
“It’s ok and normal to be afraid,” Stacie explained. “You don’t have to love (or celebrate) the challenges and tests to be overcome. But you do have to ask for help and receive it as the gift it is.”
Stacie wasn’t getting through to Gray, so she tried again.
“You know, greatness never comes easy and effortlessly. Greatness is like a swelling wave that travels a thousand miles and with the pushing and pulling of ten thousand forces – all of that before the salty wave roars, thunders and sprays upon a beach.
But there’s also nothing that tastes better than the taste and after-taste of you living your truth and rising to your potential. Even if the moments of your triumph are as fleeting as the roar of a wave crashing upon the beach.
Be true to yourself, Gray…
Just as the American poetess Maya Angelou tells it. Like air, rise. From a past that’s rooted in pain, rise up. Welling and swelling, bear up in the tide.”
Gray sighed heavily.
He could not. Not could not, but he would not. He dared not become a dream and a hope. Not even for himself.
Outside, the zombie – that was once Max – pushed unsuccessfully against the locked door.
“Are you sure you want to forget? asked Stacie.
Are you sure you want to feel less? To love less? To BE lesser – forever?”
Face in hands, Gray shook his head yes.
There was a bright flash of light. Gray’s short term memory was wiped for the second time.
Subscribe to this blog to get notices when a new episode is published.
Author: Stan Faryna