Sunday, January 29, 2012

Me and Mr. Phillips

I am barely 16 when I meet Rick. I lie to my mother about an urgent Girl Scout meeting and instead, sit pretty in the back seat of my best friends, boyfriends car - a 1969 Lemans blue, 4-speed, Chevy Camaro convertible. It has a white soft-top, two wide, white stripes down the hood, and pristine, pearl white leather interior. Damn, that car is pretty.

We are headed to a drag race. His opponent drives a plum purple, Plymouth Duster with a black hard top. It is jacked up high in the back, has open headers, and in my opinion, it's ugly.

It is summer and I am shivering. I stand in the shadow of my best friend and watch her kiss her gallant boyfriend good luck. They are racing title for title and I am urgently trying to figure out how we are going to get home if he doesn't pull off a win.

I am focused on the piercing sound and smell of dueling, high powered engines, and the sick feeling in my stomach as they peal down the road.

When it is over, the Camaro comes in a distant second. The winner approaches us and says, "Keep your car, I'll take the girl." To my surprise, he is pointing at me.

It feels like a scene from a movie. Boy wants girl, boy gets girl. Only he is no boy. He is brazen and tenacious. At 20, it is clear to me that Rick is a man.

I decline giving him my number but my best friend gives him my name. He knocks on my door the following day, with a single red rose in his hand.

Our courtship is fast and furious. Our game plan is simple - I will get pregnant on purpose. It is the only way my father will sign the parental consent forms - legal requirements for a minor to marry in the state of Pennsylvania.

After the papers are signed and before our wedding, we move into a trailer Rick rented deep in the countryside. His best friend Alex, lives across the road along with his bride, Debbie. They are childhood sweethearts. She was their high schools Homecoming Queen and he, her only prince. She is tall, thin, blond, and gorgeous. I hate her.

A week before our wedding, Rick and Alex go hunting. I am home cleaning when I begin hemorrhaging. We had yet to hook up the phone, and Rick took our only car. I am overcome with fear when I pound on Debbie's door - begging for help. I have no idea what is happening, all I know is that I am in terrible pain. Debbie leaves a note on her kitchen table before driving me 45 minutes to the nearest hospital.  

Get Rick 
at hospital 
with Shannon

I am in the recovery room by the time Rick arrives. I wake to find him kneeling beside me. His hands cup my hands. His downward gaze weighted in guilt and sorrow.

We cry for a long time after that.

It is the first day of spring when we marry, in the little white church at the bottom of the hill - a short walk from his parents house. Here, Rick swears he will love me forever and I believe him.

Rick is more present in my life than my father has ever been. He is gentle, nurturing and devoted.

To make certain I attend high school, Rick buys me my first car and teaches me how to drive.  It is an orange, Ford Pinto station wagon with wood-grain on the side.

Later that summer, I am driving windy roads with my windows rolled down and my radio up high - wearing nothing but a rainbow striped bikini. A police car pulls me over. I am ordered to exit the vehicle and after a brief search, accused of being a communist.

"Why do you think I'm a communist?" I ask.

The officer points to the upside-down red, white and blue,"USA 1" Chevy license plate on the front bumper of my car. This is Ricks way of expressing his disdain for the baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet brand.  

"My husband can't stand Chevy's" I explain. "Says they're nothing but a pile of shit."
"Really....who's your husband?" asks the officer.
"Rick Phillips," I tell him, with a smile full of pride.  
"Ricky's your husband? He's a great guy. Well then, we'd better let you go. We don't want Ricky wondering where you are."

Everyone knew Rick. Everyone respected Rick. And I felt like I had struck gold.

Rick was the first man that cooked a meal for me. And he was the first man I cooked a meal for.

Rick taught me how to fish - which meant more than just catching a fish. He made me hook the worm, hold the fish in my bare hands, and remove my catch - even if it swallowed the bait.

Rick taught me how to play cards - how to bluff and when to bet it all.

Rick taught me patience, how to sit in silence, how to breath deeply, and how to appreciate simple moments.

Rick taught me kindness. He was considerate, generous, and loyal. He defined what a good man meant. Because of him I expected these qualities in all men, later realizing they were few and far in-between.

Rick was a good husband. I was not a good wife. As much as he wanted me to stay, he knew I would leave him. I wanted to see the world and he was comfortable in his back yard.

We lived together for less than two years but we stayed married for almost twelve. Our deal was simple - we'd leave things as they were until the next big catch came along. The time it took to finalize a divorce would give us enough time to make certain it was the right choice.

I was 4 months pregnant when I called him - the same as I was when we lost our child. I had no intention of getting remarried but I knew I owed him an explanation. Rick was still, legally, my husband.

After a long drive into the countryside, we parked in a desolate baseball field where Rick offered to raise my child as his own. "Come home," he said. His eyes focused on mine. I could feel the pulse of a full moon. "I'll make a wonderful life for us," he promised, and I believed him.

I did not go home to Rick instead, determined to raise the child on my own, settled in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Eventually my mother persuaded me to contact Terry, the father of my unborn child. "He has a right to know," she said. He was living in Southern Florida at the time and was not happy to hear the news. Towards the end of my pregnancy he moved to Pennsylvania and we agreed to raise our child together.

I went into labor at the tail end of Valentine's Day, while watching the Johnny Carson show.  We borrowed my mothers car and drove through a snow storm to reach the nearest hospital. It was an hours drive across icy, back country roads. Once there, my labor stopped. When it didn't progress after twenty-four hours, I was induced. My son, Kerry Ryan Magann was born on February 16, 1979.

Filling out the birth certificate was... complicated.
Mother:  Shannon Kennedy Phillips
Married:  yes 
Age: 19

Father:  Terence Allen Magann 
Married: no 
Age: 31

Rick was the first to remarry. I never met his second wife. I wouldn't see him again until 1997. By then he was single again. I was in town for my 20th High school reunion. We bumped into each other at a bar where his brother Paul was playing the guitar. Rick and I talked for hours in the parking lot. We were honest about ourselves and about the mistakes we made along the way. We cried about our unborn child - Ricks only child.  I asked him to stay with me. To sit in the car with me. To hold me. But instead he left me, shaking.

I wouldn't see him again until the summer of 2009. He had bought his parents house - just up the hill from the little church where we married. He was happy, he was in love, and the object of his affection - his girlfriend, Phyllis - was at his side.

It was their families annual, Forth of July party. I showed up with Miss Lucy - my 5 pound shi-tzu, and a big smile. I know I was invited but I'm not certain if Rick knew I was coming.

Again, it felt like a scene from a movie. His country cozy home looked exactly as I remembered it. Still vibrant and full of life - only the color had changed. True to form, Rick was surrounded in loyalty, laughter and love.

Alex, forever his right hand man, was by his side. Mocha, his chocolate lab, was at his feet.  Phyllis was gracious and attentive to everyone, including me. His nieces and nephews were playing baseball in the backyard and everyone wanted Uncle Ricky on their side.

The only thing I remember Rick saying to me that day is, “Tell your dog to stop chasing my rooster or I'll sick my cat on him."

I laughed. We all laughed. Rick looked me in the eyes and smiled.

Rick died of a massive heart attack a year and a half later.  He was 56 years old.

The night before he died I dreamt we were together again - in the parking lot outside the bar.  I thanked him for all he had done for me and then I hugged him, hard. It was a long, deliberate embrace. I could feel his tears on the nape of my neck and I knew not to let go.

Later that day, in the classified section of the local paper, I spotted a 1972 purple Duster - in mint condition.  It was listed at $25,995.00.  What a deal.  

King and Queen

King and Queen

Excerpt from a memoir
by, Shannon E. Kennedy

The last thing he said to me was, "stick that in your pipe and smoke it you fat ass bitch.” And that’s why I wore a double layer of Spanx to his funeral.

James P. Newhart, 55, of Shavertown passed away suddenly on Tuesday, October 4, 2011...

After learning about his death, I spent my morning reminiscing about my badass boyfriend - a man who weaved in andout of my life for 37 years.

My memories of him are so vivid, one snapshot after another. I could not however, remember why I called him Chester. I thought it was his middle name but his obituary proved otherwise.

The only reference I could come up with was, as a kid, I had a imaginary pony named Chester. Chester had dark brown hair, just like me.  In an effort to form friendships, I would invite classmates over to ride him - then make excuses for why he wasn't there. Eventually, I told them my mother sold Chester to punish me, and they took pity on me.

Chester, aka Harold Hart, called me by my initials, “S. K.” Until then, only my father had given me nicknames. Pistol Pete and Buttercup were two of his favorites. I liked this new one better. It made me feel grown up.
I spent most of my afternoon reading letters he had sent me over the years.

Dear S.K, 
You have been a significant part of my childhood. Back then, we were young and free to do what we pleased. I thought I would never get old and the party would never end but it did. I have to see you before something happens to one of us. The best memory I have of you is you laughing. I bet I can still make you laugh...

I spent most of my evening regretting my decision not to see him. That’s why he was mad at me. No one would blame me for not visiting him in prison, but I didn't see him
after he got out - even when I was back in our hometown.

I still have that picture you sent me of you and your girlfriends. You were a hot bunch of girls. I went out with a lot of good-looking girl but for some reason I can never forget the pretty little girl with the beautiful smile, even with the braces - the one who picked me up at the West Side School dance.

I was not allowed to go to that dance, so I made up a story about spending the night at Lynn's house. My mother didn't like Lynn's Mom - said she was a "do-gooder" - so I knew she wouldn't call. I scripted it as a sleepover but had no idea where I was going after the dance.

I was 14 and he was 17, it was a huge difference back then. I remember what I wore - a black, bell sleeved blouse that I made in home economics class and kept hidden in the garage. I was not allowed to wear black back then. My friend Camille wore black and my mother said it made her look "spooky."

He hid in the shadow of the bleachers - next to the boy's locker room.

When the Stones best selling single, Brown Sugar, came over the PA system, I took "yeah, yeah, yeah, WOOOO" as my cue to strut on over.

I knew before I reached him that he was bad and I was tired of being good. It was something about his hair and the way he stared, not just at me, but at the world. He kept both hands deep in his pockets, his chin low, and his legs spread wide.

He was hard to understand, even when the music wasn't playing. His tone was low and muffled, and he chuckled at everything I said.

He chuckled when I asked him to dance
but when I turned away he grabbed my hand, hard, and pulled me to the center of a freshly polished gym floor. I think he wanted me to notice the intensity of his eyes. Magnified by the overhead florescent lights – they were fierce, gritty, and alive. When the song began he watched, and I danced.

It was another Stones song, Dead Flowers -"and when you're sitting back in your rose pink Cadillac, making bets on Kentucky Derby Day, I'll be in my basement room with a needle and a spoon, and another girl to take my pain away."

He took me home with him that night, where he lived with his mother and three brothers. His father had died less than a year before.

His bedroom was in the basement, directly beneath the staircase. It looked more like a large closet then a bedroom. The door opened out and you were immediately greeted by a single bed pushed against the wall. Above it was a thumb-tacked poster of a leather clad Lou Reed teamed with The Velvet Underground. To the right was his stereo and record collection. To the left, on a small dresser pitted with burn stains, was a homemade lava lamp.

His mother never came downstairs to greet him but his brother Rick was waiting for him, in the belly of the basement, poised in a yellow upholstered chair. Without speaking, he handed him a sandwich bag full of pot, Acapulco Gold, and then Chester led me by the hand
back to his room.

He kicked off his shoes, put an album on the turntable and rolled a joint. When he lay down to smoke it, I curled up beside him. After a few long hits, he balanced the joint off the lip of his dresser and wrapped his arms around me. When I woke, the song was over, a roach remained, and everything else was the same.

His hands never left my shoulders. Our lips never touched. I’m not sure if "what didn’t happen" was out of respect, or because he knew the ramifications of being with the legal definition of a “child.”

...I can do no more time S.K. the time is starting to do me in. This is the second stretch of time I have done. I have a few pals in here I hang with. Not many. You do not know who is a petafile or not. Sex offenders - I can not stand them.

Because my mother forbade me to see him, he would visit me late at night. He’d climb the apple tree and tap on my bedroom window. It was the same routine night after night. Dressed in mod print, baby-doll pajamas, I’d fall asleep, nestled in his arm. When I’d wake, he’d be gone.

This continued from late spring to mid December - until a neighbor noticed him climbing in my window. In an effort to escape quickly, he stole a bike from the house across the way, and peddled off into a bitter cold night.

I still feel bad about taking that kids bike to get home the night your neighbor called to tell your mom I was climbing up your apple tree. That was me, always climbing up your apple tree even though things did not turn out the way I wanted them to be. But it was a lot of fun trying...

Because we lived more than 10 miles apart, I assumed he drove and hid his car on an adjacent street. To me, this made him even more James Dean.

Eventually he moved out of his mother's basement, to a small apartment in the center of town. The windows were covered with sheets. A tattered twin mattress and box spring rested in the corner of his living room dressed in a crocheted afghan and half a dozen pillows.

In the kitchen were two metal folding chairs and a rusted aluminum legged table with a glossy, aqua and spattered white formica top - pitted with burn marks.

He opened the refrigerator and with one hand, pulled out a cookie tray stacked with sheets of purple construction paper. With the other hand he pulled out a bottle of Stegmaier beer. Despite having a well-placed opener screwed into the wall, he used his teeth to pop the top, and then spit it in the direction of the sink.

He took a switchblade from his back pocket and cut the construction paper into hundreds of tiny little pieces.

"What do you think I'm doing here S.K.?" he asked.

I had no idea, and I was too afraid to ask.

I watched him take the scored paper and pile it into a round, red plastic container - a prize once hidden in a cereal box. The top was embossed with the General Mills trademark phrase, “Trix are for Kids”

"Take this to school and give it away," he instructed.

"The container?" I asked.

"No S.K., the acid! Give one to everyone you know and tell them where you got it."

And so I did. First thing Monday morning I passed out hundreds of minute pieces of paper that to me, looked more like tiny-sized Chiclets than drugs.

I kept some for myself - tucked them inside the silver wrapper of my Newport lights and hid them, along with my forbidden black shirt, in the garage behind our house.

Before long everyone at school was tripping and everyone was asking “S.K” where she got her Trix.

You know S.K., I was not in prison all these years. I got out in 2001 and came back in 2005. I was doing well, working in the porn business and making good money. Then my brother Rick passed on about the same time as a good friend of mine, and that was all it took for me to start shooting dope again. My man, Lou Reed, sings it best… "Heroin its my life, its my wife... there is a hole in Daddy's arm where all the money goes."

Being out of control scared me, so I opted out of the school dazed acid trips and instead, watched closely for fits of chaos. I never witnessed any delirious behavior. These day-trippers displayed only mild spouts of carefree, illogical laughter. They kept their dilated pupils hidden behind wire rimmed, aviator shades. They sat through algebra, biology and history class with their eyes closed - enjoying uninterrupted streams of kaleidoscope colors. Trails, endless trails that rippled to the beat of their breath.

By Wednesday the acid was gone and I was in high demand. I skipped first and second period - spent my morning in the girls bathroom - smoking cigarettes and playing cards. When the bell rang and I exited, I was greeted by two police officers who escorted me, handcuffed, to a centralized, fishbowl cubical that served as the principal's office.

I was led past my exposed locker - disheveled by an ongoing search. I was led past a congestion of classmates with raised brows, wagging tongues, and convicting stares.

My mother was waiting for me in a stiff, wooden chair. Her perfect posture compromised by a downward, disappointing glare. She wore a trench coat over her sweatshirt, well-pressed jeans, dark glasses and pale blue Keds. Her hair was freshly curled and she had taken the time to apply a thick layer of scarlet red lipstick.

"You're up early," I said.

The investigation was grueling. I counted 6 bells in all - the beginning and end of third and fourth period, and the start and completion of lunch. I could tell Mother wanted a cigarette and I took pleasure in watching her twitch from the withdrawal.

"Quite an honor," said officer # 1, “Acid Queen of your school,” you must be proud of yourself."

"I was hoping for Prom or Homecoming Queen, but I’ll take any crown you want to give me," I bragged.

"Tell us where you got the drugs and we'll make this all go away."

I never told them where I got the drugs and I never want this to go away. I was enjoying the attention and knew my wickedness would catapult me into a hip clique known as "Heads" - a posse of longhaired, Deadhead, deviants.

S.K., You should get in that nice car of yours and come visit me. tell your hubbie a little white lie to go out of town for a day.  It won't be the first husband you had to tell a little lie about me. think about it.  I just want to make you laugh again and see the smile on your face.

It's true, I lied to my (first) husband when I met Chester at a bar back in 1977. After a few beers, we left to see the movie Star Wars. I hated it and insisted we leave after 30 minutes. On the way out I saw the marquee for A Star is Born, with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, and pulled him in. Chester was tripping and would enjoy any movie as long as it was in color, but I was desperate for romance.

To this day, A Star is Born remains one of my all time favorite movies. I love her intoxicating voice synchronized with his rugged good looks. I love what they forced out of each other - how her rising success gave him pride and pain. I love the way he looked at her. I love that she love him despite his addiction.

The next day, I told my husband of less than two years that I was leaving. A week later I moved out of our trailer and back home with my mother. Three weeks after that, Mom and I piled everything we could fit into a car and took off in search of our star. We had no idea where we were going; all we knew is that we had outgrown our tiny town.

Chester stayed behind and agreed to clean out the contents of our house. The home I had grown up in - spent 14 years of my life in. "Get rid of everything," Mom told him. "I don't care what you do with it.”

It would be another five years before I would hear from him again. By then he was in jail for selling pot and mescaline.

A quarter century later, I would stand in front of an esteemed panel of high ranking law officers and, without a college degree, or a military or police background, plead my case to obtain a license to run a security guard and private investigation agency - a necessary ingredient if I was going to take over my father's company.

“According to your High School transcripts, you maintained a strong B average, you were student council Vice President, and Head Majorette,” announced Commissioner Reynolds.
“Actually, no, I was co-head. They made me share the title with Kim Wolff. I was a better majorette but she was better behaved,” I confessed.
“Apparently so. It also states that you were accused of being the Acid Queen?”
“There is no evidence to justify that statement Sir.”
“Yes, I see that.” 
“And in the summer of 1975, while your mother was away, you had a party at your house.”

Before I had a chance to explain he continued.

“And you filled a soda machine with beer and charged everyone .25 cents for a can of Stegmaier?   
“Yes sir, that is true,” I admitted.
“Where did you get the soda machine?”
“My mother had a ceramic studio in our house. The machine was on the back porch.”
“Where was your mother?”
“At a ceramic convention.”
“And you rented your bedrooms out at an hourly rate?”
(I had forgotten all about that.)
“Were you running a brothel Miss Kennedy?”
“I was renting out rooms, not women Sir.”
“And, it says here that you have been in contact with a federal prison inmate.”
(Man, they’re good.)
 “Miss Kennedy, why have you stayed in touch with a convicted felon?”
“We are childhood friends Sir. He’s not a bad person, he just made some bad choices.”
“Was he your Acid King Miss Kennedy?”
“No comment,” I answered.

…We grew up on two different sides of the road. You live the life of the Rich and Famous, you are very well off and I am happy for you. I don’t want to interfere in your life. I am just a poor, broke, country. I have lived a life of crime and danger.  But I am very happy and nuts.

I know what you are thinking - that he wrote to me because he had plenty of time on his hands. But I know it was more than that.

One of the things that struck me about his letters was his contentedness.  He never asked for anything and he never felt sorry for himself.

You know S.K., I would not change a thing, except the jail time. I have two great kids and a beautiful granddaughter that I am going to spoil the hell out of.  I have to stay clean for myself but she will help a lot.

And, he was very entertaining.

I ran into a man here who is from Greenwich, and it made me think of you. Walter Forbes, his name is. His picture was on the front page of the New York Times a few weeks ago with Bernie Madoff.  Walter is one of the top rip-off artists in the country.  We work up at the chapel.  Well, we don't work.  Walter and I go up there 4 hours a week and talk about the good old days...

In fairness, my letters were pompous and perplexing at best. I wrote about attending writing seminars in Paris, music festivals in New Orleans and of course, I wrote to him about Burning Man.

How do you explain Burning Man to someone who has spent more than half of his adult life in prison?

Your letter was very confusing.  You are obsessed with this Burning Man thing. Have you ever seen Bad Day in Black Rock, great movie staring Spencer Tracey.

It was impossible for me to deny that, like all things, we had changed. We no longer had a common thread - the thrill, rush and passion of our youth was gone.

But even that's not why I didn't see him.

When I get out of here maybe we can go roller-skating or something. It doesn’t matter, I just want to see your smile. We’ve been pals for a long time. I forget a lot of things but I promise you I won’t forget our deal."

Our deal stemmed from another Rolling Stones song…

"Send me dead flowers every morning, send me dead flowers in the mail, send me dead flowers to my wedding, and I won't forget to put roses on your grave."

Every morning wasn’t practical.
He couldn’t send flowers from prison.
He didn’t send flowers to any of my weddings.
But I knew, whoever died first would get roses on their grave.

It wasn't until I reached the cemetery that I realized I forgot his roses.

I was standing outside the chapel, waiting for the hearse to carry his body up a long, winding, dirt road - pitted from recent, heavy rain.

Oh, he’d get a kick out of this, I thought.  Here I am, in a black shirt with a double layer of Spanx under my jeans – a failed attempt to look the same as I did the night we met. And I forgot the fucking roses. How the hell did I forget the roses?

Only his children knew who I was. His son looked exactly like him.

My little girl Shauna is all grown up and has a baby girl of her own named Nevaeh. (That’s “heaven” spelled backwards). Shauna looks like her Mom but she is just like me. My son is a great kid, he looks just like me but he is nothing like me. He was an eagle scout, now he is in the National Guard. He is in Chile now. He is a tattoo nut. I tell him some of my stories and he tells me I should write a book. He says it would be a best seller. Maybe you can tell me how to go about doing it…”

Despite his incarceration and their years apart, both children held a genuine, unconditional love for their father.

“My father is my hero,” his son said during his eulogy.

Half way up the hill that led to his waiting grave, the hearse got stuck. Carrying the coffin was NOT an option, so instead they lifted him into the back of a pick up truck.

(Oh man, he is loving this!)

I returned the next day with his roses - still alive.

Me being the only sign of life, I climbed along a blanket of gravestones and located his plot in the far back corner - in the shadow of mature maple trees. It was easy to spot. His fresh mound of dirt was marked with a wreath of red and white carnations that said “DAD.”

Buried beside him was his father and his brother Rick. When I took a few steps back, I noticed there were Kennedys buried directly in front of him. And a Chester was buried to his left.

(There really is some sort of master plan going on, and I can’t get over the details.)

Because I’m strange I brought my 35 mm camera with me - took pictures of his grave, surrounding headstones, and the picturesque, autumn bloomed mountains in the background.

I was crying hard when I let go of his flowers. I had a lot to apologize for. I let him down by not visiting him.

To calm myself, I took a long, deep, open mouth breath – and got a misguided fly stuck in my throat.

It must have been some sort of super fly. I couldn’t cough it up and I couldn’t get air down.

I tried to give myself the Heimlich, but it didn’t work.  I opened one of the rusty graveside spigots hoping to get some water, but it was dry.

I knew if I didn’t do something soon, they were going to find me, face down in his dirt.

Hopeless, I ran to a giant statue of an open bible and sat beside it. I felt the sun on my forehead. My palms were sweating and my heart was beating fast. I closed my eyes and waited, fully expecting this to be the end.

Nothing flashed in front of me. There were no tunnels of bright light. Instead, I heard the rustling of leaves. When I opened my eyes a giant, 12-point buck stood before me. His fierce, all knowing glare, pointed directly at me. And then, my throat cleared.

In the end, I didn't go to see him because I no longer recognized him.

"Stick that in your pipe and smoke it you fat ass bitch" is my interpretation of the last thing he wrote to me.  What he wrote was…

i gussu dont have enofe ballsto talk to a old friend on the phone or mead them face to face about the way we live are lifes u hide on a computre grow up rich bitce uhad it all handed doweto u try having to get it all on your one u do what u hae to do i hope u have a better glase of wine then the johesones did this week u and your douthers yankey boy toy or condo in new orl landes conn. shobes are all the same stick that in your pip and smoe itfack ass bitch.

It's hard to read. Not just because of the misspellings, but because of the pain that oozes onto the page. Now that he's gone, his words are all that I have, and I savor them - all of them.

Despite what his rap sheet looked like, Chester was not a bad person. He was an addict, a recovering junkie, who went to prison for selling heroin – a lot of it.

Like depression, addiction is a mental illness, not a choice. It is a complex brain disease that causes the victim to give into compulsive, uncontrollable drug cravings, despite being aware of the devastating consequences.

We made a choice to stay friends for over 37 years. I don’t know why he died and I didn’t ask. I’m hoping it was a heart attack. I want to believe that he went out clean.

S.K.,  I am so glad you are still alive.  Not 6 ft under.  Most of the people I grew up with are no longer.  I have to see you before something happens to one of us. You know what... we have been writing to each other for 37 years. Do you no anyone else that can say that.  That is off the hook! I have to stop for a few, my arson friend got me an ice cream. Today is store day. Write back soon.  With love always, have fun, Chester

p.s. ask your husband if I can come up and spend a day with you

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison