CHAPTER ONE

Love shows up in the weirdest places…


            People call me Jake, but my real name is John Joseph Johnson. Only God knows what my parents were thinking that day. My brother is named after my dad, so he’s the junior. Then my two sisters, Suzette and Patsy. I was the “surprise” and my mom said she made sure there would be no more “surprises”. When I was born they decided to use both of my grandfather’s names and so my name became “John Joseph Johnson”. My brother started calling me “Jake” almost from the day they brought me home and I am forever grateful to him.

I’ve always been fascinated with fires, how they start and how they are put out. I remember once I almost burned the house down trying to see how long it would take to put out a couch fire. My mom “counseled” me severely about the perils of setting the couch on fire, as well as, its coalition with prison. She said I’d better become a fireman when I grow up, because otherwise, I will go to jail for arson. So it made sense that immediately after graduation I joined the Navy and became a Damage Controlman, the navy’s equivalent to a fire-fighter. After training I spent the next eight years fighting all types of fires – at sea and on land. The last two years of my naval service I worked with the base firefighters as a member of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) team. In my spare time I earned my EMS certification. Since leaving the service I have been an EMS in Greenwood, SC working with the fire department for the last two years.

I’m telling you this because, in all of my years of fighting fires, I have to say, I have never experience such a disastrous fire as this one. The Wilkerson place was one of the largest fires anyone can remember in this town. The blaze of the fire shot so high in the air it caused an orange hue along the pitch-black sky that could be seen for miles. Smoke so dense it was hard to see. The heat was intense. Everything was burning. Everything!

That’s the night, ten years ago, I met Marissa. Today is our seventh anniversary and as I sit on the porch watching Marissa and our daughter Cassie, I remember how I fell in love with her that night. I knew than there was something really special about her. That fire was a tragedy, but that night was the beginning for my life with Marissa.



SNEAK PEAK: UNINVITED MEMORIES (CHAPTER FOUR)


...As I look up slowly I see his hand reach towards his back pocket. Hanging from his wrist was a gold and silver double linked chain with an anchor pendent on it. Oooo…Oh my goodness…I caught my breath and stopped myself from reaching out to touch his hand; because the bracelet is identical to the one I gave Scotty for his birthday. When I bought it I thought it was a one-of-a-kind, but I guess not. Instantly there were bodies between the grey slacks and me. I took a deep breath, shook my head just enough to feel my twists brushing against my ears. My goodness, this day is getting crazier by the moment.
     My nerves are all frayed from the “sighting” yesterday and my memory jumping back and forth on my life line is not helping. Now I’m imagining things and copy-cat bracelets. My head is on the verge of a migraine. He could have been my life but I reminded myself that all those years ago, the two years we were inseparable at Fort s, was not as important to him as his plans for his career. His words were “It’s not that I don’t love you, Nattie, but how could I pass up such a lucrative career opportunity…for this?” Thank you Holy Spirit, recollecting that bit of repressed memory helps to bring me back to reality, back to 1999, where he does not exist. I have to admit, looking back, he did me a favor. I had a very rewarding navy career which put me in the direct path of my current position. I met a wonderful man and had a great married, for a season. Although the marriage didn’t last, I have two very handsome, teenage sons as a result. My relationship with Christ is improving daily. My career is flourishing and I enjoy spending time with a real, southern gentleman sailor. In fact he comes home from assignment tonight and we are going to Stone Mountain tomorrow. Another deep breath…I thought, “Thank you God for new memories and the wonderful life you have provided for me.”  
       It was unusually crowded and noisy in the coffee shop so I decided to wait outside since I couldn’t concentrate and my train would be in the terminal shortly. While attempting to clear my table, pick up my purse and briefcase, all at the same time, I turn towards the door and walk immediately into the grey slacks and sweater. He is standing directly in front of me, looking at me, as I look at him. The smile on his face grew into beautiful white teeth as his free arm reached for me. Before I could move I was enveloped between his arm and the grey sweater. I can smell him…and feel his heart beating fiercely. At this moment ,all of my senses are teaming together to focus on the voice I am hearing, this Melvin Franklin bass voice, in my ears. I can hear him whispering my name, Nattie! Nattie! Only he called me that, so I knew he was him and not a stranger or a hallucination. He is wearing Grey Flannel cologne. I introduced him to it as an alternative to Old Spice. He is saying something, but time and movement seem to be frozen for a moment. I can hear Mr. Peterson, “Sally who is this, he is not Tracy?” and I can hear Sally telling Mr. Peterson “I bet it’s one of her old friends from when she was in the Navy.”
     As he dropped his arm I staggered just a bit, trying to caught my breath, as I look up at a very alive 6’3” figment of my imagination. “Nattie, I thought I saw you yesterday, but just figured it was my imagination. That’s why I came back today, just in case.” I had no idea you were living in Atlanta. Before I could say anything, Ms Commentator Sally is blurting out, “She saw you too, but she thought it was her imagination.” I’m glaring at her with my “wait till I get you home” look! Like most “children” she is ignoring me. I introduce him to Sally so that she would close her mouth and to Mr. Peterson so that he won’t call Atlanta’s Finest or even worst, his “people.”
      I want to leave right now, go back home, get in my bed and stay there until tomorrow. My heart is beating so fast, I definitely have a serious migraine. I still have all of my stuff in my hands and I am just looking at him. I’m thinking to myself, “Holy Spirit did I ask you to actually bring him here…No I Did Not! I don’t remember asking for that! In fact, Lord, I know I was perfectly okay imagining who my Mr. Mystery Man might be.” As I hear my train pulling up, he asked, “Nattie, do you have to leave right now?” I laid my things on the table and sat down while he asked Sally to bring him a coffee. “God, why does he still look this good… why isn’t he fat with brown teeth!” “I just want to know why he is here! What am I supposed to do now?”Type your paragraph here.

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