The Drama Is Over. The Hell Saga: The Trip To Hell, The Demons of Hell, The Ghosts of Hell, Out Of Hell, The Road From Hell, Everything Happens For A Reason, Hell’s Aftermath

The Drama Is Over
I’ve sat down three times to write about this, and I can’t quite collect my thoughts in a way that makes any sense on screen.  Bizarre for a guy who’s writing a book that jumps deep into the mind at the moment (Muse)
But I can sum it up – things worked out as they should have between Devvi and I.  We’re friends, and that’s it – the way it should have been.  I know 2/3rds of the reasons why things went the way they did, but I’m not gonna even bother without being able to put it all in coherent form.
Now I return to my slightly more boring life as normal… 🙂
The Trip To Hell
“No stop signs, speed limits,
No body’s gonna slow me down”
— AC/DC, Highway To Hell
I’ve had trips go bad, but the last one was insane.  I had a customer apologizing to me daily for there being no work to do most of the time for two weeks.  The car broke three times, and I repaired it in parking lots three times.  I had a health problem that could have moved to life threatening fairly quickly (what I didn’t say in my blog about the tooth infection was that by morning I looked like I had a stroke.  I had no feeling in the left side of my face, and I had the “droop” occurring, which meant the swelling was bad enough to begin interfering with nerve and muscular systems – untreated for very long I would have been in serious shit.)  The budget went to hell in a handbasket.  I faced ghosts and demons from old relationships, and a change in status in my “fake” relationship.  A friend called up an announced him and his wife separated.  The list keeps going on and on – trust me, I only blogged a part of it as it was happening.
But I’m gonna rewind just a bit, to the beginning of the trip as I was headed out of radio range of Wichita.  Something I don’t really mention or talk about is an odd superstition I have – only like three or four people know about it.  Certain songs coming on the radio will indicate things are gonna happen.  There two songs that are “good luck”, one song that means I’m about to get into the middle of something I shouldn’t (but have a lot of fun doing it), and one that’s just means it’s all about to go to hell.
There’s no logic behind it – it’s a stupid superstition.  But… yeah, for some reason, there’s enough correlation between those songs and events in my life for me to have the hair on the back of my neck go up, and reach for the radio real quick to change the station when AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell” comes on.  Well, not always – there’s moments I embrace it.  I’m ready for shit to hit the fan – heck, I even kind of want it.  Something in my life has become to static, and a major change needs to happen.  Something bad needs to happen.
I don’t dislike the song – on my computer, on my iPhone, etc., it’s fair game to listen to it.  Just on the radio… well, it’s a small insanity that’s persisted since just out of high school.  And I can only attribute it to insanity.
So it comes on just a bit before Emporia – I reach for the radio, and I’m in a good mood when those hairs on the back of my neck go up.  I don’t bother changing the station after all, I turn it up and sing along.
Yeah, good fucking job Davis.  
Little did I know that yes, I was on the highway to Hell.  Apparently you pick it up somewhere after the Missouri border on I-35.  I missed the junction sign.
The Demons of Hell
“Askin’ nothing, leave me be,
Takin’ everything in my stride”
Everyday, it seemed like Devvi found some odd way of tripping up some old ghost from past relationships.  I’m not shitting, it was like some sort of talent suddenly.  Putting me in a situation where I feel like I was having to act needy (even though I wasn’t.)  Failing to follow through on something important to me.  I could go on and on, but really, most of it just put me in an introspective mood, questioning old relationships, and not just looking at those old ghosts and demons, but actively hunting them down.
One stood out particularly bad though.  That whole Romantic Whim thing has existed for a long time, though the name for it is fairly recent.  Used to be, they fell in to classes – Quests and something unnamed that usually just got referred to as mushy crap.  Quests still exist for me – they just aren’t quite the same thing they used to be.
Anyway… I finished one of those Romantic Whim things, about five years after the fact.  Heather went to Kenosha, WI with me one time (Heather, plug your ears, I’m talkin’ about ya 😉 and I had this Romantic Whim.  There was a place called The Rainforest Cafe in Gurnee Mills, not far from there.  It had a kick ass cool jungle theme, and I knew Heather would have found it cool.  Soooo, I decided to surprise her with it, and tell her we were going out to eat, and where was a surprise.
Long story short, we got into a fight in the little shop the place had, and never ate there.
It occurred to me while I was in Kenosha this time, fuck it – I’m gonna go complete that Quest myself damn it.  Wow that was a bad idea.  At first I was happy about the whole thing until I got there, and sat down.
I damned near started crying there in the restaurant.  Just… the whole fucking stupidity of it all came back to me.  Everything.  And the fact that, well, I took something that had been a Quest to be shared with someone, and completed it myself just stabbed that lonelyness right through my heart as hard as it could.  I’m divorced – something I never wanted to be.  I only wanted to get married once in my life, and it be for good.  Technically, I haven’t broken that – I mean, I haven’t re-married, so there’s still hope that I can fulfill that goal of only getting married once, I just gotta avoid getting married again, right? 😉
After each day’s particular demon, I’d go to bed, and wake up in the morning, ready to take on the day again.  With a smile.  About the second week I had already given up and expected the day was going to involve SOMETHING else going wrong anyway, so why the fuck get concerned.  When whatever goes wrong next happens, I’ll just take it in stride.  And until about the last three days, I managed to do that – but eventually the trip did begin to grind me down a bit, slowly burning my good mood.  
The Ghosts of Hell
“Goin’ down, party time,
My friends are gonna be there too”
I got a haunted room.  No, I’m not lying.  But I didn’t have a human ghost – no, that’s just not weird enough for this trip.  Instead, I got someone’s cat.  I’m on the phone with Devvi, and I see it walk in. “Uh… hon, you won’t believe this, but there’s a cat in the room.”  She laughed “How did it get in?”  “Um… not like that.  It’s not really here, if you understand what I mean.”  
I only saw the cat three times, and felt it once.  The felt was interesting – I was laying face down on the bed, trying to go to sleep.  Anyone who’s lived with a cat knows exactly what it feels like when the cat jumps on the bed.  Yes, the cat jumped on the bed, complete with the “whump” and vibration on the bed.  Uh, that’s just fucked up.
I’m guessing it was probably someone’s pet.  It was a black cat, medium sized, gold eyes.  If someone happens to be missing one, check room 245, La Quinta Inn in Kenosha, WI.  I’ve made a mental note NOT to return to that room in the future.
Working In Hell
“Don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme”
Meanwhile, even with all this going on, I’m there to do a job.  One I’m frustrated at because I can’t DO the job, because someone else fucked up.  Well, worse that fucked up – they miss-led the mill by miss quoting a job to jack up the price.  They quoted the job at 12 days, the mill figured they’d pull me in for an extra few, just in case.
But the contractor only needed four days to do the job, and only two of them did they need me.  Worse, I didn’t actually DO anything.  When the mill explained exactly what was going on, I looked at Dominic and told him “But, dude – it’s already written that way.  You don’t need to make any changes.”  And unfortunately, I was right.  
Yes, I just got paid for 14 days out of town to DO NOTHING.  Yes. Now, one of the warnings I give people who are looking towards self-employment is that there are few days off, and you don’t get paid vacations anymore.  Huh, well, FUCK.  Guess I’m wrong on that one.
Meanwhile, I spent the time working on other projects, writing, quoting more projects, etc.  I filled my time the best I could, but good lord, this was insane.  And since things were “fill work”, I didn’t even have anything that was forcing me to focus, taking my mind off of whatever that days problems were.  Yet, I still managed to keep a good mood.  And everyday when Dominic apologized, I told him “It’s no big thing – the contractor screwed up man, it’s not your fault.”
Speaking of sales and quoting, they still owe me two more checks from that trip, and they want me back in two or three months.
Out Of Hell
“Like a bat out of hell, I’ll be gone when the morning comes”
— Bat Out of Hell, Meatloaf
So the last day rolls around – Dominic and I had discussed schedules the day before, just so I could call Devvi and tell her if I really was going to watch the kids Thursday or not (somehow, I knew exactly what I wanted to do when I got back.)  No problems.  
The car battery died, which on a Caddy?  That’s an interesting experience.  The sensors begin loosing power, so the displays start giving you all sorts of worrysome nasty warnings about things like “Traction Reduced,” “Check Charging System” “Service Steering System”, etc.
I managed to limp the Caddy to AutoZone – at a maximum of 20 MPH – and replace the battery.  More expenses. *SIGH*  And get back to the mill.
I’ve been here two weeks now, and they can’t come up with stuff for me to do.  At 4 PM, they come up with two big things they need done.  My jaw dropped.  “Dominic, I’ve been here two weeks now – what’s the deal here?”  
Of course, I managed to tackle it in an hour and a half, then talked with Dominic about future projects for about two hours.  That puts me a little behind my leaving Kenosha schedule, but hell, I’m stopping in Des Moines to sleep for the night anyway.
So I hit the road – SHIT!  I forgot my cheese!  I was planning on picking up cheese for a few people, and totally forgot.  So I stopped in Davin to explore the town and find the cheese shops I saw on my iPhone maps.
The radio was iffy at this point.  You know that point where you’ll have perfect signal, but then a random stray signal bounces just right off a building, overriding the tune you’re already signing too?  You only get like five or six words of what’s said in some innane commercial, then it goes back to what you were singing along with.  That’s about where I was driving around there.  And no goddamned cheese shops open – Quest failed 🙂  (The moral isn’t that it’s hard to find cheese in Wisconsin, it’s that it’s hard to do after 8 PM 🙂
Then those guitars kicked in – I felt the hair on the back of my neck rise, and I reached for the radio.  And I paused.  And grinned.  “Brrring it on!” I yelled at the radio.  Fuck it – the fates had already run me through the ringer.  Technically, they could still do worse to me.  But I would survive it just fine, like everything else.
Funny part was, the fates answered.  “What?!”  Oh, sure, timing is everything – I got that random signal that bounced off a building somewhere just right so the song cut out exactly long enough for just one word to be delivered as an out of context interjection.  But when you consider the superstition level involved here, it… well, it’s just damned odd.  I turned it up, and sang along.  I’m on my way out of hell, and there’s no way your ass is stopping me now.  
The Road From Hell
“Hey mamma, look at me!
I’m on my way to the promised land”
I changed out the battery in Kenosha.  Just like changing the water pump without changing the tensioner or belt, I knew this could be a chain failure in an older car.  Bad battery could easily mean a dead alternator very soon.  And there’s no real way to know if it’s going to die – I’ve got 850 miles to cross in two days.
The first 200 miles was a bit white knuckled – but, somehow, I was sure it wasn’t going to die.  And it didn’t.  In fact, not only did it not die, it didn’t die when I went out to supper with Erin the next night, or when I went to Cheney to watch the kids.  It waited until Friday night when I was going to go out.  Hey, I’ll give the Caddy tons of credit for hanging in there and waiting until I was home.
The ride was almost uneventful.  Almost.  There was one oddity – and this actually ties in with another oddity that I’ll tell first.
In Kenosha, I ate at Red Robin everyday, because it’s good, good service, and semi-healthy (people cock their heads when I say that – Red Robin serves real meat, and a good amount of veggies on their burgers.  I ask for extra veggies, so I get a fairly ballanced meal, though it’s a bit fatty.)  The hostess that seated me was a twenty-something who wasn’t particularly great looking, but that’s never stopped me from flirting.  About mid-way through the second week, she greets me with a big smile and some chatter.  She turns to have me follow her to my seat and… well, if she swung her hips any harder, she would have fallen over. No shit.  The she spends about five minutes flirting with me at my seat, and it sends with (I’m not kidding here) a classic hair flip.  Do you have any idea how long it’s been since I’ve actually seen some gal do that stupid thing?  I picked up the iPhone “Devvi, you’re missing this one…” and told her about it “LOL – I would have paid to see that!” 
Last day I was there, I’m reading my menu, and notice motion across Red Robin – I look up, and she’s waving at me from across the room.  Um, OK.  Yep, somehow I think it’s time to get outta this town.
This isn’t isolated either – the amount of flirting being thrown at me is getting heavier, and I’m not sure I know why.  And it’s getting a lot less subtle – something I haven’t had to deal with in… well, fuck, a long time.  Long enough I’m no longer sure how to react to it.
Up to that point, the “hair flip” was about as extreme as it go though.  Well, someone managed to top it.
50 miles outside of Kansas City, I stop at a little podunk gas station, and fill up.  On my way out, there’s a gal, probably around 45, big tits (actually, let me say that differently – Epic Tits), red hair, but not much to speak of for a face.  I say my usual “How’s it going” as I pass by her really new looking black Lincoln.  She strikes up a conversation about how nice the weather is, and I comment on how much nicer it is than the rain on my drive from Kenosha, WI to Des Moines, IA.  And of course she asks what I do, that sort of thing.
I look like hell.  I haven’t shaved in a week (long story involving my shaving gel going missing – when I say I haven’t told all the stuff that happened on the trip, I’m not lying.  There’s just so much insanity, and I’m only hitting the points that I felt were most relavant to my story.)  I slept in the car in Des Moines, so my shirt is wrinkled and all that shit.  And it’s been a damned long two weeks.
“So, do you ever give your phone number out to random people?”  I laughed at that – I didn’t have any business cards with me, but she continued “Because, you’re a really nice looking guy, and you’ve got good taste obviously,” pointing at the Cadillac.  *BLINK*  Wait… is she hitting on me?  I assumed the phone number thing was a business question.
She asks if I’ve got anyone back home, then explains that’s she’s divorced and “spending the old man’s money.”  THEN it gets even heavier – she gives me directions to where she lives, and explains if I find myself coming back through the area, feel free to stop by.  I don’t mean directions to the town she lives in.  Directions TO HER HOUSE.
And, no, I didn’t go visit her house, even after she assured me she wasn’t an axe murderer or something.
When I finally got back in the car, I picked up the iPhone and started typing “Devvi, you have GOT to hear this one!” 🙂
God lord, if the trend away from subtle flirting continues, the next gal who takes an interest in me is probably going to lead off with “What would you think of a good fuck?”
And I’m still clueless as to what the hell has changed.  Yes, I’ve got a little more muscle on me, but damn, it not like I look like a weightlifter.  Hell, I’ve still got this stupid damned doublechin at the moment driving me nuts, and my gut hasn’t bothered to flatten any more (OK, that might have something to do with the fact that I haven’t managed to get shit for a workout in two weeks.)  Very weird.
But the rest of the trek was boring.  Had lunch with Paul Hollis in Kansas City (mmmmm – good sushi), and got home.
It All Happens For A Reason
I usually believe that everything happens for a reason.  I could actually sit down and draw a diagram of the various happenings from the time I left Wichita to the time I returned to Wichita, and show how many of them were interconnected, though it wouldn’t be complete – one facet of the trip has still left me mystified.  But I’ll show a chain of events…
I stay with Doc out of concern for his mental health.  For a long time, he couldn’t be alone.  Two weeks is a pretty good test of it – how would he do alone?  Come to find out, just fine – he’s feeling better now.  Makes sense – it’s been 1 1/2 years now, and the grief counselor said recovery lasts about 1/2 year for every ten years of a relationship.
I came home, and the house was dirty again.  Worse, fleas from the cats had infested the place deeply.  After getting to live as clean as I wanted to at the hotel for two weeks put me over the edge – I can’t live here anymore unless I have to.  And if my mission isn’t complete (IE, if Doc is not in a state where he can live alone again,) then I’m not leaving.
Brandon’s wife left him – he had called during the trip to tell me just a bit about it.  I went over and visited him on Friday during the day, and we were chatting while he was cleaning – she had left him the mess.  He was getting an apartment, and she already had gotten one (that he’s paying for at the moment, since she has no job.  WTF?)  I mentioned the bit about considering leaving Doc’s and heading out on my own finally, and Brandon pops in – “Wait – if you’re interested, I’ll keep this place and we’ll split the costs.”  Well now… hm.  I thought about it for a day, and decided to take him up on the offer.  Brandon is a neat freak – perfect.  But they may reconcile, so I’m planning on 3 months being out of there, unless she’s not came back yet.  I’ve already drawn up my plan, and what it’s gonna take to pull it off.  This is also good, since now if she does, then they don’t have to hunt down another house again – the place is now on hold.
Had I not stayed two weeks, I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to see he’s OK.  I wouldn’t have gotten so used to clean that I had to move.  Had I stayed three weeks, Brandon would have already turned over the keys to the place.
A huge portion of that trip I can do that with – it’s almost like some sort of bad novel where the writer didn’t have the imagination nessisary to throw some plot twists in.
Except one part – I have no idea why I was getting my emotional beating that I did.  Was it me trying to find the answer to something, and never finding it?  Was it the Universe trying to get Devvi outta my head as something besides a friend? (Actually, I can nix that one – the process continued after that got sorted out so nicely and easily.)  
No clue.  That might be something that’s not resolved yet, who knows.  That particular thread might stretch on a ways down the roads yet, leading to something else I have to deal with.  Or maybe I just missed something obvious.  Guess only time will tell.
Hell’s Aftermath
“I can see a new horizon underneath the blazin’ sky

I’ll be where the eagle’s flying higher and higher

Gonna be your man in motion, all I need is a pair of wheels

Take me where my future’s lyin'”

— John Parr, St. Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion)

I said at the beginning sometimes I embrace it when that song comes on the radio – it’s just time for bad luck and woes.  It’s time for catastrophe and fights.  It’s time for things to change.  Well, they are changing.  One of the things that finally snapped mid-way though this trip was the whole thing of being completely tired of industrial automation.  I’m headed for different pastures – January 1, 2010, I’ll be retiring from doing industrial automation work entirely.  
I’m already in a phase of transition in my life, from what I was to what I want to be physically and mentally.  I’ve got a long ways to go on both of those, really, but I know what they look like.
But I’m also going to do some game changing financially.  I’ve laid down my plan, and how I’m going to execute it.  I had already been throwing some of the groundwork for it down, and now it’s time to make it start moving forward.
I’ve got some surprises in store over the next two years – both for myself, and for the people around me.
Will I actually pull off what I want to do?  Who knows.  I usually pull off the small stuff I want to do in life.  It’s always been the big things that are the problem.  But part of that whole  transformation I’m trying to go through is to give myself the ability to do what I need to do.  It’s just about time for me to start getting it all in motion.

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