Thomas James: A Portrait Of A Man

Part One:  The Confrontation

As he approached his nemesis who waited for him on the sandy shore, Thomas James pondered what to say to him.  All he could do was look straight into his eyes as he felt the moist sand getting crushed between his own toes with every step he took.  His enemy stood before him with crossed arms, pondering his every move, trying to decide, Should I beat him, or should I let him talk first to explain himself.  As he stood there grappling with his own conscience, Milton Kinkaid could feel fire burning within his own soul, with the thought of Thomas James ruining his dreams of being a pro ball player in the major leagues. Thomas James has just left a part that night with his girlfriend.  They were both intoxicated.  Milton Kinkaid walked across the street toward his own car, when Thomas James came out of nowhere and crashed his car into that of Milton Kinkaid, whose crushed leg had to be amputated, as he was in the process of getting into his own car.

There were no excuses for what happened, and Thomas James knew that.  He faced jail time in the upcoming months.  He must report to his hearing soon, that would determine restitution for Milton Kinkaid.  But nothing could give him back what he lost.

For he lost more than his leg that day.  He lost his baseball career before it started.  He also lost his sister who was passenger in Thomas James’s car.  Facing the prospect of so many life changing events that could alter his whole future in a matter of seconds, he glared into Thomas James’s soul that had a sense of disturbance.  There was an inner turmoil Milton Kinkaid could sense in Thomas James that went deeper than the car accident that cost Milton Kinkaid everything he held dear.  Even through his anger andrage, Milton Kinkaid felt a deep sadness, realizing that 17 years of friendship was flushed away Thomas James doing something stupid.

Waves of the deep blue ocean crashed against the shore with their rustling breaths.

Up above, melodic voices of seagulls could be heard in the background, which became the soundtrack for the tale unfolding before the eyes of both young men.

However, Thomas James knew he couldn’t avoid Milton Kinkaid any longer.  It was time to face his own shame, and do the honorable thing.  It was not enough to do time in jail that was quickly approaching.  He had to further make amends for what he did by owning up to his mistakes.  That meant admitting fault to his former best friend, who is now the enemy standing before him.

With a trembling heart, Thomas James called out to Milton Kinkaid.  “I know you don’t want me in your life.  I can’t say that I blame you.  Just know that I didn’t mean for any of this to happen.  It just did.”

“It just did?  Thomas, man, it happened because you did underage drinking.  That wasn’t bad enough.  You walked out of Parker’s house with my sister, and the two of you got into your car.  I told you both, let me drive you home.  But you wouldn’t have it.  The two of you chose to get into that car anyway.  Even after I told you both to wait for me on the porch while I bring my car around.  I told you I’d be your designated driver, since I didn’t do any drinking.  That’s how it always is.  I never drink at parties.  But you had to be a hotshot by defying me.  You have no idea how badly I want to pound you to dust right now,” Milton Kinkaid spat in disgust, with his chest heaving up and down.

Thomas James stopped a short distance away, not daring to move any closer to Milton Kinkaid.  The two of them stood staring into the other’s soul.  Trying to find answers for resolving the situation.  However, there was no easy answer.  There was no easy path to take.

Part 2:  Thomas James

Thomas James was a man down on his luck.  He searched his soul for the answers as to how he could get out of the mess he was in.  After doing some time in jail for drug possession, vandalism and destruction of another’s vehicle, he came out of there having a new perspective on his life.  He knew he had to make changes in his life that could make a positive impact upon his own life and upon society.  Walking down the intersection of the street, he thought about what his life would have been like if his father had been agood and descent human being with high standards in regard to morals.  How he would have carried himself in public today had his father been someone people could respect.

However, Thomas James’s father had been in and out of jail himself for domestic assault and drunkenness.  The last time he was in jail, he was very destructive through breaking furniture and beating up his Thomas James’s mother so bad, she landed in the hospital. His father was arrested after the neighbors telephoned the police to report the trouble they heard coming from the household.  He now has a police record, and is on probation.  If he were to break the probation, he’d be locked up permanently.

Now, the only thing Thomas James can do is put his father and the past out of his mind through concentrating on his destination.  His first priority is making it safely to the other side of the street.  He was scheduled to report to his probation officer tomorrow morning to discuss measures to take for getting further counseling for his addictions, and helping him get placed in a special work program that would enable him to obtain useful life skills and techniques needed, through on the job training.

For now, he enjoyed the quiet with only the sounds of the cars going by around him.  The night offered him some cover from the every day hassles of life.  The day was his foe and the night was his friend.  He felt more comfortable at night, because he felt he could be invisible to people who passed him by, in addition to being free of judgments and misconceptions about him.  During the daytime he was more conscious of himself, and worried about what people whom he encountered would think of him.

The night offered him a sense of security, in that the darkness, the stars in the sky, and the moon were so very soothing to his senses.  He felt like he belonged, when he was surrounded by the night.  It made him feel like he could be whoever he wanted to be through losing himself in its realm, even for a brief moment in time.  At least for now, he has some sort of inner peace, which leads to a greater understanding as to how the world operates.  There are many wonders throughout the universe, and he was a part of it.

The only question that went through his mind was where his life was headed.  What would the future hold for him long term, and could he make it through the night without the intensity of his dreams when he slept?

Part 3:  Getting Lost In Water Colors Of Emotional Turmoil

Nights for Thomas James tortured the very core of his being.  Tossing and turning, his sheets get twisted around his body like a cocoon.  Exhaustion sets in his mind, but it’s  more of a grogginess.  His mind is restless as is his body.  Time has severed Thomas James from himself, which lives deep in his past that eats away at his soul piece by piece.

No matter what he did to get sleep, he just couldn’t drift off into the realms of dreams.  Fear consumed him in the darkness of his room, for fear of getting beaten up and roughed up by his father who was always on his mind.  That’s why he got involved with drugs back during his years of adolescence.  It soothed him temporarily by taking him away from his life, and enabling him to fabricate a new existence.  However, the existence he created did not serve him well like he thought it would.

As he lay in his bed getting lost in his thoughts, water colors of his emotional turmoil filled his entire being with an all consuming agony.  He’s been on anti-depressants for the past fifteen years through the insistence of the courts when he was sentenced back then.  Although he has finished serving his time, and is free, he isn’t really free at all, because he is still haunted by a past that clings to him.

Channeling his energies into prayer and in reading the bible regularly during his years behind bars, he sought out strength in the Lord, which also brought him some form of comfort.  His closeness to the Lord made him feel like he was not entirely alone in the world.  His family and friends abandoned him all those years ago, after his alcoholism and drug addictions cost him the love of his life back when he was an eighteen year old high school student.  His guilt consumes him even now.

The anti-depressants numb the pain, but when he is all alone in the darkness of his tiny apartment, he cries out for the girl that meant the world to him.  “Jayna, I’m so sorry for all I did.  I don’t deserve to have been released from jail.  I should have been locked up for life.  Fifteen years is not long enough for me to serve.  More time should have been added to my sentence long ago.  But the ruling of the court made the final decision.

I don’t know why in all of my existence I would’ve ended up with abusive parents who cared nothing for me.  Why I let them drive me to drugs and alcohol, I’ll never have the answers I really need.  I should have been tougher than that.  I should have confided in you and your brother Martin who was my dearest friend.  I’m going to report to my probation officer tomorrow, Jayna.  I’m going to find out about all I can when it comes to doing right by your memory.  I’m going to ask my probation officer how I can make amends to you for what I did.  I talked to the priest regularly who came to visit and talk with me when I was locked up in jail.  He told me that the best thing I can do to make amends to you is by making every effort to turn my life around and to change it for the better,” he cried, as he wiped away the tears from his eyes with the palms of his hands.

Part 4:  Meeting With Officer Jarvis

“Thomas, instead of having you do volunteer work in a soup kitchen, I talked to a woman who owns a little diner, or rather, it’s a little eatery.  Oh, I suppose it’s one and the same.  Anyway, it’s called The Southfield Kitchen.  It’s not too far from here.  The lady’s name is Sarah Cummings.  She’ll be expecting you to report to work today at 3 p.m.”  Officer Jarvis Maxwell informed Thomas James, while handing him the slip of paper with all the pertinent information.

“But, I was thinking I could volunteer at the Soup Kitchen to do community service.  After all, I owe that much to society, to the girl whose life I took that day, to her brother, and their entire family.  I owe amends to God, and…”

“Son, hadn’t you learned anything Father Samuels taught you.  It’s important to forgive yourself.  You’ve already made amends for what you’ve done.  Fifteen years is a long time for a man so young to have been locked up in jail.  You paid your debt to society.  Now, it’s time to make a fresh start.  It will be ups and downs in life, but not so bad as they were when you were growing up.  You deserve a second chance in life, seen as how you weren’t given a fair chance the first time around.  I admire you for wanting to take responsibility for what you’ve done.  But punishing yourself isn’t going to bring the girl back.  Don’t we all wish it were possible to bring loved ones back from the dead so we could be happy and enjoy time with them.  I know what you’re going through son.  Before I became an officer of the law, I was a criminal at a young age.  I fractured thelaw.  Well, a few of them anyway, when I was young.  What I’m trying to say is you’re not alone when it comes to making mistakes.  Some folks make bigger mistakes than others.  Let me tell you something, young man, if I could turn my life around, and believe me when I say I wasn’t perfect, I believe you can do that, as well.  I believe you can.  Why I was put in juvenile home for 3 ½ years for beating up a man in a party store, a clerk, mind you, because he wouldn’t sell me any cigarettes.  I had some hard knocks in life.  Like me, you’re not a lost cause.”

The two men got up from their seats, approached each other and shook each other’s hand.

“Thomas.  Remember what I told you.  You are not alone in this world.  You have my number.  Call me anytime you need to talk or if you have any questions about goals in life that you may want to pursue.  I mean anything at all,” Officer Jarvis Maxwell cheerfully informed him.

“Thank you, sir,” Thomas James replied while heading out the door of Officer Jarvis Maxwell’s office with a new stride in his step, because for the first time in a long, long, time, he wasn’t alone in the world.  He had a friend in Officer Jarvis Maxwell.

Part 5:  The Interview With Sarah Cummings

The walk down to The Southfield Kitchen was exhilarating for Thomas James, even with the mild rain showers coming down upon his head.  The clouds were a faint grey.  So far no storm, but one was coming.

He pulled up the hood of his coat to cover his head, as he looked straight ahead into the direction of his future.  Although Thomas James pondered for so many years what would become of his life once he made it out of jail, he learned not to fear the unknown.  For all that was known to him was a past full of darkness, but today, not even the faintness of the grey clouds could stand in his way of progressing forward with his life.

Anticipation filled his heart with rhythmic patterns of hope that cut through the fog built up within his soul.  The cloudiness of his future is opening up, as a result of light cutting through, making its way through the darkness.

Turning to the left on his walk, he thought about what he wanted to do with his l life, and most importantly, he thought about what he wanted from life.

During his years in jail, he read up on various forms of literature.  In addition to reading the bible from the jail library, he developed a passion for poetry.  In particular, he loved Pope, Dunn, Shakespeare and the writing style of Emily Dickenson.  He often wished he lived during her time, because she had much in common with him.  Well, their passion for knowledge.

Throughout the years, Thomas James developed a passion for knowledge, reading philosophy, all the great authors of fiction such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, E. E. Cummings, Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, and Truman Capote.  He considered them all to be geniuses in their own right.  Truman Capote was his most favorite writer of all time, because he could relate to his life of depression, suffering, and inner turmoil.  Truman Capote committed suicide, because he couldn’t endure the emotional turmoil going on inside of him.  Thomas James often considered suicide himself throughout the years that lead up to his arrest and him being placed under a psychiatrist’s care.  He was diagnosed as being Bipolar, because he displayed all of the symptoms, especially the fact that he self medicated for a number of years prior to his arrest at the age of eighteen.

Coming to the end of the second block, he stopped at the curb, and waited for the light to change to green.  Upon proceeding across the street, he picked up his pace, because the rain began coming down a little stronger.

Just a little ways further, and he made it to his destination. Entering the restaurant, he removed the hood from his head, shook out his air, wiped his feet on the mat, and approached the cashier at the counter to ask for Sarah Cummings, the owner of the establishment.  “I was told to report to her for a job.  May I speak to her please, Miss?”

“Sure.  I’ll go get her.  If you’d like to have a seat her at the counter, I’ll see to it that the waitress gets you something to drink.”

“That’s quite alright.  Thank you, but I’m fine.  Please don’t trouble yourself,” he said as he sat on the stool at the counter to wait to talk to the woman.

The cashier then disappeared into the kitchen.

Upon returning to the dining area, the cashier went back to her post.

Sarah Cummings entered and approached him with her hand outstretched for a handshake, “Mr. James, I’m Sarah Cummings.  Thank you for coming in to see me.”

Greeting her with a handshake, Thomas James replied, “Thank you ma’am.  It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

“Like wise.  I understand you’re in need of a job,” she said while laying a packet onto the counter.

“Yes, ma’am.  Officer Jarvis Maxwell highly recommended you to me,” he said while unzipping his coat.

“Okay.  I have a packet for you to fill out.  There’s an application, along with forms for W2’s, 401K, etc…  This is standard procedure for all who apply here for a job at this establishment.  He tells me you have cooking experience.”

“Yes, I was a short order cook at a…where I did time.  I’m sorry, this is embarrassing.  I’m ashamed of myself for having been in jail.  But I want so badly to change my life, so I can make a descent future for myself.  I don’t mean to put you in an awkward position,” he said in almost a whisper.

“Listen, I higher lots of folks who have had a bad past.  This place is about giving second chances.  Officer Jarvis Maxwell only recommends folks to me who have made serious changes in their lives during the years behind bars.  He wouldn’t have recommended you to me if he thought you were dangerous, and didn’t want to change your life.  Nobody’s perfect.  Just fill out the papers during our interview here.  When your done, I’ll take them from you, and look them over.  And, if you’re able to, I’d like to have you start work today,” she said with a cheerful tone.

Thomas James had a gleam in his eye and a sense of pride in himself for the first time in his life.  He thanked the woman, and got started on the paperwork.

Part 6:  First Night On The Job

The storm cleared by the time Thomas James got out of work at The Southfield Kitchen, but the ground was still wet, and filled with puddles all over.  Moisture in the air cleared his senses and filled his heart with a musicality of hope that lifts a dying soul out of the river of darkness, and moves him forth into the moonlight.

Throughout his walk home, his mind drifted back to this evening’s events transpiring at work.  He started out cooking spaghetti with meatballs, adding his own recipe to the sauce, with permission from Miss Sarah Cummings to take all the liberties he wanted.  “We’re always looking for fresh ideas.  Create away.  The more we evolve with the flavors in this place, the more the customers keep coming back.  If there’s something special in the future that you’d like to add to the menu, feel free to do so.  Just make sure you let me know, first.  But other than that, create away.”

“Thank you.  Throughout the years I’ve developed a passion for cooking.  I love experimenting with a little of this and a little of that.  Tonight, I decided to add fresh garlic powder, along with a touch of cinnamon and some honey glaze I created with my own special recipe, just to give the sauce a little something extra special,” he responded with a smile, as he stirred the ingredients into the pot.

At the same time he prepared the sauce, he had pasta going on another burner, along with some burgers going on the grill.  He also had some American fries cooking in the vats.  He chopped fresh potatoes into cubes, before placing them into the vats.  The Southfield Kitchen is known throughout town for fresh food instead of using anything processed or frozen.

Louise, one of the waitresses, attached her tickets to the wheel, and let Thomas James know which table numbers each order was for through spoken word, in addition to making note of it on the tickets.

One after the other, Thomas James got the orders completed, and placed into the window with the utmost speed and accuracy, and most importantly, he put much care into every dish he prepared so passionately.  He was really enjoying himself as he delved into his work, feeling such freedom.

Throughout the years, cooking has always been a great means of escape from the usual hectic pace of life, with all the struggles and turmoil he endured.

At closing time, he scrubbed down the grill and the burners, making them shine to perfection.  He then scrubbed down the walls, his counter area, and mopped the floor thoroughly.  The floor was so clean, it sparkled, giving him such a feeling of pride in his work.  Aside from cooking, he especially enjoyed cleaning, and wiping everything down to perfection.

Sarah Cummings checked in on him to see how things were going for him.  Upon glancing down at the floor, at the walls, the counters and the entire area, she said, “Everything looks great.  You did a nice job tonight, Thomas.  I’m so pleased to have you on the team.  You are certainly a great asset to this restaurant.  Thanks for all the dedication you’ve shown, and for the pride you’ve taken in your work.  I also appreciate the initiative you’ve shown around here.”

“Thank you, ma’am.  That means a lot.  And, I’m glad to be here,” he said in almost a whisper.

Sarah Cummings was so impressed with Thomas James’s work, she gave him an advance on his pay.

Part 7:  Visit With The Psychiatrist

After a restless night, Thomas James got dressed, walked out the door of his apartment, and headed down to the mental health clinic to meet with a psychiatrist.

Upon his arrival, he approached the receptionist desk to check in.

“Your date of birth, please.”

“August 5th, ’78.  And I have my insurance card, along with my I. D. right here,” he said as he laid his documentation onto the counter.

The receptionist looked up his information on the computer, and then said, “If you’ll have a seat, sir, the nurse will call you in to get weighed, and get your blood pressure taken.  After that you’ll wait out in the special room specifically for the patients.”

“Thank you,” Thomas James replied while collecting his documentation, putting it back into his wallet.

In the waiting room, there were five other patients waiting there with either their families or their social workers.  Thomas James was not yet assigned a case worker, but then again, he wasn’t as worse off as most of the patients there.  He took a seat in the far corner of the room.  On the end table next to him were magazines pertaining to politics, sports, and medicine.  He read through the articles in the medical magazine, learning about the new advances in medicine for various health issues, rather it be for diabetes, heart attack, or various types of cancers.  Thankfully, he didn’t have any of these issues,as far as he knew.

As he waited for his name to be called, he thought back to his childhood friends and his family.  Various images of those people flashed through his mind, while he read up on sports in one of the sports periodicals.  He often wondered why he was dealt the kind of cards he got in life.  How would his life had been different had he been born to loving nurturing parents who actually cared about him?  He knew he wouldn’t have endured the life he had been given.  Also, he wondered what his purpose in life is, and why things in his life had to be the way they were.  In the middle of pondering these things, the nurse opened the door, and called his name for him to come back with her.

He followed her into one of the rooms where he was weighed and had his blood pressure taken.  Nothing abnormal about it.  “Everything looks good,” the nurse informed him with a smile, “Your blood pressure is excellent.  And your weight is where it should be for a man of your height and built.  If you’ll have a seat in the next room, Dr. Aber will call you in when he is ready for you.”

Thomas James waited for approximately thirty minutes before his name was finally called.  “Good morning.  I’m Dr. Abner.  If you’ll follow me down the hall to my office, we’ll begin our session.”

Upon walking into Dr. Abner’s office, he and Thomas James took their respective seats.

“Tell me about yourself, Thomas.  According to your medical records, you were diagnosed as being bipolar.  However, I’d like to know more about your circumstances that lead to our meeting this morning,” Dr. Abner inquired, while getting his pad and pen ready.

“Where to begin.  I was in jail for the past fifteen years.  I just recently got released, because I completed my sentence.  Way back when I was in high school, I was involved in the consumption of drugs and drinking alcohol.  I’m responsible for a car accident that took the life of someone I cared very much for.  She was the love of my life.

Her brother was my best friend.  He got seriously injured as a result of him being struck by my car,” Thomas James confided to Dr. Abner, while biting his lips.  He also fidgeted a lot with his fingers.

“Tell me, what led to you getting involved with drugs and alcohol back then.  What was your home life like?”   Dr. Abner asked while marking down notes on his notepad.

“I don’t come from a good home.  Both of my parents were abusive.  My father more so than my mother, but neither one was any better than the other.  My father served time for domestic assault, but he didn’t stay in jail very long, because my mother dropped the charges.  She worried about how she’d make it on her own without a husband.  I hadn’t seen any of my family members and people who were my former friends, since I was locked up.  But being in jail gave me time to think, and to gain some perspective about my life.  I believe I’ve become a better man, because of doing time,” Thomas James responded, while taking a deep breath, fighting to hold back the tears.

“Thomas, according to your medical files, you’ve been in remission for fifteen years.  Your visit with me today is to find out what steps to take next.  You’ve been doing very well on your meds all of these years.  I’m going to renew your prescription for your meds.  Keep following through with your meds.  I’d like to meet with you every couple of months just to see how you are adjusting to being back out amongst society again.  Over the course of time, I’ll stretch our meetings further back going from every three months to every four months then every six months, and finally we’d meet once a year.  After that, you’ll be able to get your meds from a regular medical doctor, with him or her giving you your annual psych evaluation once you no longer need to come to this mental health facility.  So far, everything looks great from what I gather from your medical records.  However, tell me how you’re doing when it comes to interacting with people,” Dr. Abner asked.

“I have a job working as a short order cook in a very nice diner.  I like the people I work with.  The boss is great,” Thomas James replied while reaching for the box of tissues on the table.  Taking a couple, he wiped his eyes, and nose, and composed himself.

Part 8:  Spending The Day With Someone Close

Having the rest of the day free due to a day off from work, Thomas James saw this as the perfect opportunity to spend the day with himself and with someone close to him.  He took it upon himself to pick up flowers from one of the local flower shops in town to take to Weston Memorial Cemetery.

As he kneeled before Jayna Kinkade’s grave, he placed some yellow long-stemmed roses behind her headstone.  Digging into his inside coat pocket, he pulled out his diary comprised of some poetry he wrote throughout the years.  One in particular was called Where Did The Quiet Go.  He flipped through the pages until he found it, and he read it aloud. “Where did the quiet go.  I never knew anything but the raging waters that brewed inside my heart, because of the anguish I felt.  My heart was destroyed by ajackal that launched his own brigade upon my head.  In doing so, he took my soul and tore it to shreds, leaving me less of a human being.  The Lord brought me a light that cut its way through the smoky clouds that fed upon my spirit, but I took that light and burnt it out the day I took your life in my hands, Jayna.  I was compelled to bind myself to the fabric of those addictions that ate me up alive.  I couldn’t see the glory that God put before me.  For a short time, I had a gift in my hands that I had difficulty hanging onto, because I was blinded by my agony, I couldn’t see the light before me.  But now, I see the truth.  I walk into the light of God who fed my soul with life, after going through years of suffocation.  I’m free of my demons of addictions for fifteen years now.  I know I still have a long way to go when it comes to healing.  It’s a long walk out of this darkened tunnel, but I’m up for the challenge.”

“That was beautiful,” said a voice from behind him.

Turning his head, Thomas James saw a man who towered over him.  “Do I know you, sir?”  He asked.

“You should.  That’s my sister buried here,” the man said pointing to the headstone.

“Milton Kinkaid?”  Thomas James cried, as he stood up, while closing his journal, and putting it back into his inside coat pocket.  He hung his head in shame as the tears flowed mercilessly from his eyes.

“It’s been a long hard road for you, my friend.  I know it’s sure been for me,” Milton Kinkaid said as a tear fell from his eyes.

“I’m so sorry,” Thomas James wailed as he fell to his knees, “I should been died in that accident, not her.  Now it’s all a waste.”

“Nothing is wasted, my friend.  For you to come here today, you’ve shown remorse.  You’ve shown me how sincere you are.”

“Aren’t you going to punish me Milton?”  Thomas James said while pulling pieces of grass from the ground.

Milton Kinkaid knelt down next to him, grabbed his arms and said, “You’ve already been punished.  Don’t go on punishing yourself anymore.  There’s no need.  You’ve served your time.  It’s time you move on toward the next phase in your life.  I don’t want you to go on suffering, although I did all those years ago at the time of the accident.  Over time, I’ve come to forgive you.  Now, you must forgive yourself, my friend.”

Part 9:  Talking Over Coffee

The night carried with it all the mysteries that are found within the heart and in the deepest realms of the mind.  Tonight’s visionaries talked about the soul and how its torn bits can be mended piece by piece.  Washing over the playing fields of life, the strewn make their mark in a world that was at one time cold and cruel, filled with visions of isolation, but tonight spoke to the heart that mended broken wounds, and healed up the wretchedness burning inside Thomas James and his dearest friend Milton Kinkaid, as the two of them walked side by side down to The Southfield Kitchen for a cup of coffee.

Upon entering, they chose a booth next to a window where they placed their order for coffee and tomato soup.  They gathered their words from the heart that poured out like water cleansing the soul from the soot ravages of time brought upon them.

“So how has life been treating you, Milton?” Thomas James asked as he poured cream into his coffee.

“I’m working as a financial consultant for Provincial Bank and Trust.  I’ve been working there for the past seven years.  Prior to that, I was a car salesmen for Derby’s Auto Sales.  I worked there following graduation from college.  I got my degree and license in finance prior to working there.  However, I started from the bottom and worked my way up to doing financial consulting work there.  After that, I pursued my interest in finance further by working at Provincial Bank and Trust, where I am right now,” Milton Kinkaid said while looking at Thomas James, and then looked into his tomato soup, while scooping some up on his spoon.  “This is good soup.”

“I make it from scratch at home, with my own special recipe.  I’ve incorporated my ideas here at work, but not before consulting with my boss.  She’s a nice lady who owns this establishment,” he said in a somber tone.

“You have a job here?  That’s great, Thomas.  I’m glad for you to have found employment doing something you love,” Martin Kinkaid said cheerfully while sprinkling some sugar into his coffee.

“Yeah.  I’ve been working here for two weeks now.  I love the work.  I also love working here.  The people are great.  I’m very happy here.  While doing time, I worked as a short order cook in there, where I’ve developed the passion for cooking throughout the years,” Thomas James said while slurping some soup from his spoon.

“Good for you.  Glad to see how you’ve turned your life around.  Have you thought about getting your work published?”

“Oh that.  It’s just a diary I’ve kept throughout the years.  I’ve got several of them, I’ve kept while doing time.  It’s just some tablets I was given by this nice priest who worked at the prison.  His words of wisdom inspired me.  They gave me hope during the times in my life when I needed it the most.  This is especially true with reading the word of the Lord.  Over the years, I’ve come to know and love the Lord.  It’s just acomfort knowing that he watches over all of his children, especially during the times in their lives that they need him the most.  I’ve found strength in him.  Most importantly, I’ve regained myself,” Thomas James informed Milton Kinkaid while sipping on some more of his coffee.

Part 10:  Rebirth

As he entered his apartment, Thomas James had a sense of peace instilled inside of his entire being as a result of tonight’s events.  Love for one’s fellowman truly is good medicine for the soul, and strength for the spirit.

Thomas James hung up his coat in his closet, and kicked off his boots, while marveling over the joy of reuniting with his dear friend Milton Kinkaid.  This is something he never deemed possible, because he didn’t know what he would have done if he hadn’t encountered Milton Kinkaid at the cemetery.

The warmth in his heart helped break the bondage holding Thomas James prisoner to his past for so many years.

He changed into his pajamas, and knelt by his bedside in prayer, “Lord, thank you for all the blessings you’ve given me.  I’m truly grateful to have good people in my life.  The priest whom I was acquainted with in jail, Officer Jarvis Maxwell, Sarah Cummings and the folks at The Southfield Kitchen restaurant, and most importantly, thank you for bringing Milton Kinkaid back into my life.  Thank you for helping me see the error of my ways.  Thank you for giving Milton Kinkaid the strength to find it in his heart to forgive me for all the pain I caused to him and his family during the death of his sister Jayna.  I’m especially grateful to have known Jayna.  I still haven’t forgiven myself for the wrong I’ve done to her.  I’m still trying to, though, but it’s going to being a heck of a long journey trying to find forgiveness in my heart for myself.  I don’t know that I will ever have it in my heart to forgive myself for what happened to her.  I’m learning more and more about myself each day.  I’m learning more about people with each day that passes.  There are many good people out there in this world.  It took me a long time to realize that.  I wasn’t raised right by my parents.  They are the reason that recklessness and destruction was all I knew.  It was because of them I turned to drugs and drinking all those years ago.  Oh I take responsibility for the wrong I’ve done.  I only wish my parents could’ve found it in their hearts to take responsibility for all the wrong they’ve done in their lives.  One thing I have learned, Lord, is that I can control my own actions, thoughts and deeds.  But I can’t control that of others.  The punishment for their sin is entirely up to you. “

Thomas James got up from the floor, climbed into bed, picked up his diary from his nightstand, and recorded his thoughts for the day.  He wrote his aspirations, planning his life for the future.

With each day that passed, he grew stronger in spirit and mind.  He took knowledge he acquired from his life experience, and, put it to use through recording it down in his diaries, getting them printed at his local printing shop, and distributed his booklets to all of the troubled youth he encountered, hoping to inspire them to turn their lives around, and to make a future for themselves.  Most importantly, he taught them that no matter how bad life seems, hope is never lost.

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