Sunday, April 3, 2016

Hill to Die On

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Hill to Die On


Rodney sat behind the wheel of his souped up Chevrolet.
Becky leaned in to give him a kiss on the cheek for luck.
"You can take him, Hot Rod," all he needed her to say;
For a second, he ignored the revving engine of the truck,

The one poised beside him, the one he was about to race,
The one who had never lost on this makeshift drag strip,
A rural two lane on the outskirts of town, this place;
Soon "mark set go," steering wheel clenched in his grip.

Speed shifting was a thing Rodney did well, call it skill.
As they approached the finish line, up above, on a grade,
Rodney glanced, saw the truck slacking, time for the kill;
He shifted down into overdrive, seeing his opponent fade.

In an instant, clear as glass, he heard a still small voice,
"Is this the hill you want to die on" was what it relayed.
Losing his concentration, or call it nerve, then by choice,
His foot disengaged the accelerator, his speed delayed.

The truck sped by in a flash, then swerved into his lane,
A successful move avoided a head-on with a blinded raccoon.
Thanks to Rodney, neither driver, or critter, was slain,
No one but that driver saw, but never said, by light of moon.

Seeing his life flash before his eyes, brought sense of relief;
Hearing the cheers of the crowd. that was soon pushed aside.
Hot Rod's shot at teenage glory, as well as Becky's belief,
Vanished in that night; and overlooked, he might have died.


When production comes to town, the locals tend to not stray,
Rodney found good factory work, drawing a machinist wage.
A wildcat strike emptied the factory; Rodney was on his way
To join in with the dissenters, most caught up in a rage.

This all came about by a slacker, being justly taken to task.
Rather than face the music, he chose to disrupt and incite.
He misled his cohorts, seeking to hide behind a union's mask.
In time word spread throughout the plant. It was time to fight.

Taking time to stall his lathe, made Rodney last in the chain.
Soon he found his way to a bay door, above the parking lot.
Something came over him, looking down on this sea of disdain;
A feeling once known, but over time set aside to be forgot.

"Is this the hill you wish to die on, choice yours to make?"
This was all it took to give him pause, and choose to halt.
As violence erupted before him, he did not make that mistake.
Even though he knew some coworkers would condemn his fault.

The police were called to the the plant, security force's aid.
Mob rule succumbed to clubs and steel cuffs on random wrists.
The union failed to sanction the protest when truth was said.
The voice of reason, on this occasion, beat the rule of fists.

Rodney lost some friends that night from a word to the wise.
Deep down, he knew, true friends don't put you in harm's way.
With new positions to train, Rodney was a choice to supervise;
His just reward for maintaining his cool, and not going astray.


For a night shift worker, a family diner is a favored haunt.
Often, Rodney would treat himself, rather than pack a lunch.
A meat and three, with dessert and all the coffee you want;
For a late night fellow, the want of coffee packs a punch.

This was a typical evening, sounds of ironstone and silverware
Tempered the sounds of voices, passing time, enjoying a meal.
The bandits came unnoticed, until one said, "Hands in the air!"
Within seconds, the room went silent, at this scene surreal.

As one man rushed the counter, the other guarded the entrance.
Demands were made to open the register, with a pistol to show.
Rodney had his own, concealed, waiting for his proper chance;
Seeing nervous eyes guard the door, his nerve began to grow.

Sitting calmly at his table, while slowly reaching behind,
That same still voice, he recognized, came to calm his hand.
"Is this the hill you choose to die on? You may soon find,
Innocent lives might well be lost in a fatal foolish stand."

Rodney snapped back to reality, placed his hands on the table,
By this time, pick pocketing was now part of the robber's plan.
He piled as much loot on an empty table cloth as he was able;
When he frisked Rodney, feeling his gun, he turned and ran.

Once out the door, the villains never made it to their ride.
Police had gotten word of the robbery from a passing stranger.
No shots were fired. When "Hands up" arose, the men complied.
Relief came to all, especially Rodney, at passing of danger.


Some men go through life, known as average, if that, at best.
To the average man on the street, no deeds to be revered.
Their comings and goings never noted, or granted manifest.
To some, but not all, a life between shade and shadow feared.

Not all are destined to lead a parade or to win a vaunted race.
Rare is one who leads a revolt and stands above to persevere.
Few ever feel the warm effects of a hero's welcoming embrace.
Valor is its own reward, though seemingly never made clear.

Is the destiny of all accomplishments, great or small, to fade?
Or, are all worthy endeavors subject to a level of acclaim?
Many such exploits go unnoticed along life's passing parade,
But as such, are recorded, for all of those who this way came.

In this scene, we find Rodney, resting in a state of recline.
Lately, it has become a struggle for him to get up and walk.
He is surrounded by friends and generations of his bloodline.
With closed eyes, he tries to hear all said, as they talk...

"Taught me to ride a bicycle, wouldn't hear of training wheels."
"To the lake, would not stop until I caught the biggest fish."
"Showed me how to swing a bat so I'd know how a home run feels."
"Christmas Day at his house was always my best holiday wish."

Such reverence in reminiscing, brings a smile to Rodney's heart,
Interrupted by a still small voice, he's known before them all.
"Is this the hill you want to die on? If so, time to start."
Quietly without fanfare, he sees the gate, his final call...


Michael Todd (2016)

94 comments:

  1. This, I think, is my favorite from you in a very long time. If we choose our battles, and listen to that inner voice, then we become a different kind of hero. I loved this :)

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    1. That inner voice is always there, Dahlia. Glad you enjoyed this season's poem.

      Oh, and of course... Nice FRISTING!!!

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  2. You are the master story teller of poems. It's great to see a new write from you.

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    1. I truly appreciate that, Sallon. Coming from someone, you, who has inspired many of my stories and poems, that carries a lot of weight.

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    2. I'm not sure how you can pull off story poetry like this, but excellent is the first word to come to mind. Love your words and how they are like thread weaving the story.....and in rhyme! Nicely executed.

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    3. Lyne... The only way I can describe it is, when I get an idea for a story, one that I believe has never been told, I just fight my way to the end, refusing to concede. I do not care how long it takes to tell the full story... The rest of the time, I write sonnets, because they are mercifully brief.

      Thank you for visiting. I was hoping you would come. :)

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  3. This is hauntingly beautiful, and epic storytelling! I had visions of my own hometown as I read this. Certain moments make their mark on a man (or woman) during their lifetime, and dictate their path. This gave me chills, in a good kind of way. Love it! :)

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    1. I am happy this took you back in time, Colleen. Those good memories will always outweigh the times of consternation. Chills, in a good way, is a good thing.

      Thanks for visiting.

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  4. oh my.
    I will read this again..and again. With the response in my heart again, simply, oh my. Once I began, I could not stop reading, you told this well, very well...

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    1. Chronological tales can get complicated, Rebecca. Fortunately, the idea for this came with a manageable timeline... This is one of the few poems I have been able to go back and read, separating myself as the writer.

      Really glad this one hit home with you. Thank you.

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  5. This from Paula Dawn Lietz...

    Hey / you have if you positioned it different and tightened it up from one scene to the next.. a great short fiction! Loved reading this. I am a pro at dipped shifting so slick so quiet there is not one burp just the purr of the engine.
    Living mostly all my live in country or farming communities I know I would dislike industr... well you just made me dislike that way. But they do indeed make the world go round. Do believed I feel into your piece!
    As you do, maintaining the dignity of the not so common common man.
    And for some odd reason I now have the lyrics..
    " we were out on a date in my daddy's car we hadn't driven very far...
    Do believe I fell into your piece!!
    Xx Pd

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    1. Paula Dawn... I can get lost in your stories to the point I either feel I was there, or wish I was there with you... Thank you.

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  6. Thank you for pointing me here, Myke. The choices we have made and those yet to make. My question is often, "Is this the way it will be?"

    You're a good man, and a great story painter *tips hat*

    -slj

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    1. You just described well this ongoing task we call life, Stephen Lee.

      * returns tip appropriately *

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  7. So true is life; we've all been there. Whether or not we made the correct choice is always revealed in the long run. This inner voice is real. Mistakes are the greatest teacher if we live through them. I only hope the last scene applies to me.

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    1. The final scene is what we would hope for, Valerie, just not too soon... Glad you came to visit. I was hoping this one would resonate with you, as it did with me.

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  8. Outstanding! I made no mistake incorporating you into my choices of life. A fabulous write.

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  9. Our smallest decisions can affect 1 or many! Thank you for sharing! This was amazing!

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    1. So true, Denice, and in most cases, we will never know the effect we have on others.

      Thanks for coming by. Hope you are feeling better.

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  10. This from Jay Sole...

    My favorite poem from you ever! You so eloquently show that sometimes the right thing to do is contrary to what we thought we should do. Sometimes the true hero is someone that nobody pegged a hero. Reminds me of a thought about heaven that I've had. In heaven we will find that the true heroes of the faith are not the superstar preachers and singers. They are the everyday people quietly living out their life in service to others. Well done, Michael!

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    1. I appreciate your kind words, Jay. And, your message is right on time, a worthy overview. That is, in great part, what the poem is about.

      Thank you.

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  11. Thank you for letting me know that you posted this. A really thoughtful piece, Myke. A hero is often one who enriches lives rather than does heroic deeds to save lives. I love your story-telling!

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    1. For every dig of a shovel, a mound is formed, or a hole is filled. All actions have consequences, some seen at the outset, some never come to light, in this realm.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Sandra.

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  12. a life well lived and a tale well told. Nice one Myke!! ~Christine W.

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  13. Wonderful Myke! Great flow with wisdom we should all strive to live by.

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    1. Very kind of you to say, Sir.
      See you on the other side...

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  14. Slow and steady wins the race and sometimes (most times?) we are faced with decisions that could change our lives forever...from one moment to the next. That voice inside us speaks when it is most important and I think wisdoms is stopping to listen and hear what the voice is saying...so often those few seconds of hesitation will change and outcome.
    I really liked this Myke...I agree with Paula it is a short story with a clear 'moral' at the end...stop and THINK before you rush into anything...contemplate ALL sides and make a wise decision ... Trust your gut?
    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I am wowed at your synopsis, Demme. The writer who touches on these themes most often is you. As such, to have your approval makes me smile.

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  15. I loved this read and kept getting held tight to your words. You successfully drew me into a wonderful tale with lessons learned. Thank you.

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    1. I am most pleased you found yourself woven into the fabric of this tale, Mary... Thank you very much for visiting.

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  16. This poem reminded me of my nephew, Rodney. Not just because the poem is about a guy by the same name, but because he has the same personality: a little reckless but able to hear the still small voice about the bravado. What a masterpiece, Michael! Hat’s off to you!

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    1. You have these ways of getting me all wound up, then calming me back to a soft landing, Debra. Thanks for sharing your personalized analogy.

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    1. Thanks, Doc... Best descriptive word ever.

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  18. BEAUTIFUL MYKE, IT TAKES A WISE PERSON TO LISTEN TO THAT SMALL INNER VOICE...LOVE THIS

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    1. Thank you very much, Gail. It is so nice to see you in the house. I am smiling big time.

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  19. Dear Michael,

    This absolutely wonderful! Wow! The story, the message,...it all flows together in a powerful way. This is one of your best, ever. What a pleasure to read it today.

    Many blessings,
    Karne

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    1. Thanks, as always, Karen, for spending time with us here. Very happy you found merit in this piece. See you at Whispers...

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  20. As this reminds us, ALWAYS listen to that inner voice, it's God speaking 💖

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    1. Voices of Divine nature best to be heeded, Gail.

      Thanks so much for coming to call. I love when you do.

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  21. Myke, thanks so much for sharing this amazing and soulful poetic story. It's absolutely wonderful, well-written and so moving I got the good chills. "Valor is its own reward" is something I truly believe. So many "average" men and women are our true heroes. Your character Rodney chose "the right hill to die on" and I am honored you chose me to be one of your lucky readers.

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    1. I so love when you share your perspective, Eliza Anne. Sometimes I think you know me better than I know myself.

      Always an honor when you grace our door. Thank you so much.

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  22. It is the right hill...for all of us.

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    1. That is the truth, plain and simple, Christopher.

      Thank you for coming by, Sir.

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  23. The still small voice a wise man always minds. I love this, placing me right there at the very pulse of life.

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    1. Wow... Beautiful context provided by you, Anna. Thank you.

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  24. Michael your posts are getting more and more nail biting!! Love it!

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    1. I promise, I will lighten up, Ellie... sometime.
      Thanks for reading... Enjoy your trip. Have fun. :)

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    1. Thank you very much, Darla Sue... I sincerely enjoyed yours this weekend, and look forward to more in the future.

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  26. Great story of a life lived well! Good thing Rodney listened to his inner voice earlier on. He had no regrets when his time was finally up. This, to me, is the definition of success, not money or fame. Loved it, Myke!

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    1. Yours is a positive view point, Debbie. I can always count on you for that. Thanks!

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  27. We all get "graded" at times, and the easy choice is not the right one. An inspirational, epic piece. Bravo! -Dave Raider

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    1. To be so well received by my one and only partner in crime, makes this post a cause for applause, or at the least, some serious, silent fist pumping.

      Thanks to The David

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  28. Had a longer reply sorry it crashed. Modern day Longfellow in the epic was and message//theme as other commenters have pointed out I love the descriptive quality too. Felt the dust and engine Erving like a 3D picture you step into

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    1. Thanks, Brother Brian... Always great to hear from you. I appreciated your kind words here. They hit home.

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  29. Few are born leaders I guess. But the followers together have a lot of power too. Better choose wisely who to follow, and when.

    I remember some time in high school when one classmate was always fighting with our economy teacher. One day, she decided that we all should boycot economy class that day and stay away. Quite a few kids liked the idea and agreed to stay away. One girl, however, said she was going, because what did the fighting have to do with her? It made sense to me, and I just went to class too, and never regretted it. It is quite an art to figure out which battles are yours and which really aren't.

    Thanks for bringing back good memories, Sir Myke!

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    1. Brother... Yours is the very best story, and it so fits the narrative here.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and sharing pictures from life's good side, Sir Ruggi.

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  30. great story, the racing scenario brings back memories

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    1. Thank you, Linda. I have to admit, none of the three action scenarios were ones I have ever seen first hand. I just have a big imagination... Glad you got a good memory stir. <3

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  31. You're such fine story teller in these modern times when people miss detail quality and point! Wonderful, Myke.

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    1. The details make it run a little longer, sometimes, but I am never in a hurry. I have all day and half the night.

      Thanks bunches, Alba Leigh.

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  32. There are so many wonderful nuggets of wisdom in your story. So many truths that I will need to reread just to absorb all that you have laid out here. Thank you for sending me here it is always a treat,

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    1. Hello, Laura... I built this place for you, you know. Or, did we come here together? I can't recall everything.

      thanks so much for coming by to read. So glad you enjoyed.

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    2. I think we came together. Once upon a time I used to share my written words. But times have changed and now I just stop by to read what others have to share.

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    3. You and I did open shop here, right about the same time.
      Call it fate. Call it destiny. Call it my good fortune.

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  33. ..life is so fleeting...and to smile knowing...you listened?? ahhh the best kind of living there is......

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    1. The epitome of getting it right, Brenda, and being able to give an account must be priceless.

      I am very happy you stopped by to share your thoughts.

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  34. Strong structure, cadence, music sings this beautifully penned write with uplifting moral!

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    1. Lana... there are times, like this, where you make me happy I got up to face a new world today.

      Thanks bunches. I hope you are feeling better. <3

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  35. What a marvelous read. So many ways of looking back at life. That small still voice... patience to wait it out... the choices to make... decisions to take the sensible way... wondering if the right thing was done... in the end, the decisions made were the right ones. Full circle. Brilliant penning.

    This is the comment I deleted and had to put back on after correcting the spelling errors. LoL!

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    1. Thank you, Leta, for your generous overview of the intent and body of the poem. You nailed it, in every regard.

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  36. Michael, ahhh, beautifully written and touching! It pays to listen to that small quiet voice, like Rodney. His obedience allowed him to live a longer life filled with memories of his own and those he shared with others. Thank you for sharing your work and for the visit!

    Curious as a Cathy
    All Things Vintage: Elvgren Art #AprilA2Z

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    1. Thank you, Cathy. In his case, staying true to values, paid off in the long run.

      Thank you so much for visiting. You have made me very happy.

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  37. They say discretion is the better part of valor and a brave man lives to fight another day. I love that your poem validates the ideals I was raised with. The comments made by those who surrounded him in his last hours are full of love. The kind we all hope are made to us. I love this piece Myke!

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    1. Thank you, Stephy... The closing quotes were going to be the hardest part of the poem to write. Just the opposite, as they came to me in real time, almost as if I was there.

      Great to see you, as always.

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  38. Awesome read my friend. and never ever ignore that little inner voice. It won't lead you up the wrong hill. 'lia :)

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    1. You always share the best good advice, Alia. I am happy when you share it with me. Thank you.

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  39. This was indeed; a very important write for me to read and it came at such a time in my life that will cause me to reflect on it often. Thank you Myke

    Blue fool

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    1. Your assessment honors me, Sir.
      Thank you, sincerely. Take care.

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  40. Love your story-telling in form of a poem! And I love this line in particular: Not all are destined to lead a parade or to win a vaunted race. I can see how it holds much truth, but also serves as a reminder that one can win in other ways. A small feat to some, is a big deal to others. :)

    Irene

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    1. I love how you align this with perspective. Thank you, Irene.

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  41. Oh my goodness Myke...what an adventurous walk through time. That voice within us...is always with us if we listen. I should've listened a few times when I didn't but fortunately it wasn't fatal. Loved every line of this story. You are the master storyteller for certain. I could feel myself there... just awesome!

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    1. Thank you, Tuscany. I love when people say I take them back to a good time, but cringe when told I have brought back a long forgotten memory, best left undisturbed. If it is a mix, I suppose that is okay.

      Thanks for visiting. Always happy to see you.

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  42. Absolutely brilliant Mike on so many levels.
    I read it last week already, but I couldn't comment
    from my phone. Ive only just now gotten onto my laptop
    to leave you a message here.
    Well done, you are the master at this. I am in awe
    every single time.

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    1. Thank you so much, Teresa. I appreciate making two trips. Glad you enjoyed the story. :)

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  43. Once again the Michael Todd brand moved the reader to wonder, to anticipate, to excite and to realize a storyline well-constructed. I love the in-the-moment feel to your writes Michael. Cheers.

    Don

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    1. Don, I cannot thank you enough for your more than generous overview. I always appreciate you spending time with us.

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