The Power of Story: It’s Never Really Over

So we’re coming to the end of another year. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about ending my trilogy. It’s true. The trilogy has been written. It’s complete. It’s time to move onto another project. But the power of story is simple. It never really ends.

A good story never really ends from both the writer’s and reader’s view. As a writer, I have considered several spin-offs that could be written from The Cult Trilogy. Every story has holes in it. Holes are good. They allow the reader to use his or her imagination. It also offers the writer new stories to contemplate and write.

A Story Is An Excellent Learning Tool

I’ll be posting the third chapter from The Track To Redemption a little later in this post. It’s the last excerpt I’ll post from The Cult Trilogy. A story helps us to learn and grow. That’s another reason stories are never-ending. Each time you read or even think about a scene in a story, your mind is engaged. You think. You analyze. You learn. This is true for both readers and writers.

Consider the Bible: How many times have you read the Bible? Or simply heard a verse? Often, as we grow, our perceptions change. With each new reading we interpret it differently. The same goes for poetry and song lyrics. The story is never really over.

Moving Onto Something New

I’ve been hinting that I’ll be moving onto something new next year. You might think I know exactly where I’m going. I don’t have a clue. I don’t have a plan. I’ve simply made two decisions.

  1. I’m going to post less often.
  2. I’d like to experiment with a longer blog-post format.

I might write some new story starts. Perhaps, I’ll try an epic poem. Maybe, I’ll write some more in-depth posts about creativity. Only time will tell. But whatever I do, it’s all part of my continuing story.

You have a continuing story, too. Even if you’re not a writer, you’re telling your story every day. Maybe it’s time to write it down. I did.

Chapter 3

Shortly before Nana Marge died, she shared an unsettling story with me about my mother. I hate now to believe the story is true because it paints an ugly picture of mother. According to Nana, one day, she discovered my mother in a fitful state. Nana had knocked on the door several times. Mother didn’t answer, so Nana entered the house. Here’s how Nana described what she saw:

You wouldn’t believe the state of frenzy your mother, Edina, was in, Pepe. She was pacing, back and forth, back and forth, across the kitchen and living room. She didn’t even notice that I’d come in. It was like I didn’t exist. She was half-naked, dressed only in an old slip. She mumbled and shouted intermittently. It sounded something like this:

She’d mumble, “Oh, poor, Pepe. God has deemed you evil. My poor, poor son. Oh, how I wish there was something I could do to stop God’s wrath. I hope you understand that it’s not my choice.”

And then she’d shout, “Get out! I don’t want you in my house! I don’t want you in my head! You’re not welcome here! Leave me, Satan! Get out!”

I had no idea what was going on inside her head. I tried to get her attention. She didn’t respond. Her eyes were glazed. Finally, I grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her violently. She snapped out of her trance-like state. “What is wrong with you?”  I asked.

At that point your mother just stared at me with sad, sad eyes for several moments. Then she said, “It’s Pepe, Marge. God has sent me a message. He told me that Pepe is evil and that I must kill him.”

I was shocked. How could a mother even think such a thing about her own infant child. “Have you lost your mind, Edina?” I asked. Your mother continued:

“Marge, I think I’m going crazy. I hear voices. They tell me I must kill my Pepe.  Sometimes the voice sounds like God’s voice. It’s deep and thunderous. But then I hear a shriek of laughter and a high-pitched voice that must be the devil himself. I just can’t bear it. I just can’t…”

“Where’s Pepe now?” I asked.

“Pepe? He’s in the bathroom. The tub is filled with hot water. I was about to drown him. How could I even… oh, God, help me.”

At this point your mother broke down and started wailing and digging her fingernails into her naked breasts until they bled. I ran to the bathroom and found you on the floor, naked and dirty. You had been rolling in your own shit. I was shocked and disgusted. The tub was full and the water was running over. I turned the water off. I cleaned you up, dressed you and rocked you to sleep.

I stayed with your mother all day. She seemed to slowly come out of the funk she’d been in. Later, I told your father about the incident. He said he would call the doctor. But you know your father! Always drunk! He never called.

For the next few weeks, I’d visit your mother every day. She never acted quite as strange again, but there were days when she refused to touch you. She refused to feed you or change your diaper. She was afraid that she might harm you. Her fear lessened, and in time, I felt comfortable leaving you alone with her again.

I swear I’ve never seen anything like it before. It was as if Edina were possessed by some sort of demon. Pepe, I swear on the Holy Bible that what I’m telling you is the truth.

I had just graduated from high school when Nana told me this story. She said she thought I should know. I never confronted my mother about it, so I’m not sure it’s completely true. Nana always told stories. She also used to tell me I was special. She told me that someday I would be a great leader. She said that God had put me on this Earth to lead others to Him. I believed Nana. That’s why I decided to enroll in Emmanuel Bible College after high school.   


Throughout my adult life I’ve struggled with hearing voices. Imagining they were real, I’ve often believed that Peter Smith was threatening me. The voices had always been in my head. But when Annabelle heard a voice at the same time as me, and Charlie started barking, it appeared that this time was different. The voice was real. But why? Who would stand outside my window and whisper threats from Peter Smith. I thought long and hard about it.

As my books had become more popular, there was a group of people who became critical of my philosophical and theological discussions. They claimed I was New Age and that I had left the true story of Christ out of the equation. They chided me for pointing to my abusive past and to the complexities of my own human brain as the source of my hallucinations. They claimed that the source of my mental anguish was due to my own lack of faith in God. They claimed that the paranoia was demonic and that the voices were coming from Satan himself. They called me and my writing evil.  Perhaps, one of the wackos from that crowd had decided to taunt me. I’d already received some nasty letters and emails from a few obsessive critics, so I wouldn’t put a stunt like this past them.

Or maybe it was some local punks trying to be funny. A few kids in Annabelle’s school had heard about my books and teased her about them. They made fun of me, telling Annabelle that I was crazy, that I heard and saw people that weren’t really there. Perhaps, it was just some kids playing a prank.

Or maybe, and this is what I feared the most, it was one of Peter’s followers. Could Peter have sent one of his thugs to try to scare me? Could it be his brother, Jimmy? Could it be Russell Willis? If so, why? It didn’t make sense.

Annabelle had only caught a glimpse of the back of a person running away. He wore a dark coat, blue jeans, and a black beanie. She thought the suspect was male, an older teenager or an adult. Other than that, we had no identifying features to rely on. But whoever it was, it raised a problem. I needed to act. I needed to protect Annabelle and myself from possible harm.

I called a fence company and ordered a six-foot chain-link fence to built around the front yard. The back was already fenced for Charlie. I called a security company to come in and set up lights, motion detectors, and an alarm system. It would cost nearly eight thousand dollars. I called Simon and Bruce to get their input. I didn’t call the cops for fear of appearing crazy.

Things had changed a bit since the previous summer. My brother Simon had found a job in Seattle and moved up from Santa Fe to be closer to our mom as she aged. Bruce, our old karate friend from the days at Paradise farms, had moved from San Francisco to Bellingham to be near his sister and his own aging mother. The three of us had started meeting from time to time. We even invited Jared and Milt, the old bosses from Paradise Farms, the to get-togethers. It had become an enjoyable and healing process for all of us.

I saw Milt, Jared, Robert, Sharon, Sue, and a few others from the cult for the first time in over 30 years. I reconnected with my childhood friend, Calvin Reed. I came to discover that Calvin wasn’t quite the extreme Christian Fundamentalist I’d pegged him to be. Just as I’d done with many other people in my life, I was guilty of judging him too quickly. However, like my friend John Stein, Calvin loved guns. I thought the two of them would get along well.

Simon puzzled over the idea that someone was hiding outside my window chanting Peter Smith was going to kill me. He thought it was more likely a local prank than one of Peter’s thugs. What would be the point in trying to scare me? He brushed it off and told me not to worry about it.

Bruce showed a little more concern. He said he’d had some bad vibes lately about what had gone down in Baltimore. He felt that Peter would definitely seek revenge against me after I’d infiltrated his Julian Woods community.

“Why wouldn’t he want revenge?” Bruce asked. “You exposed him. You ruined his reputation in the Maryland region. You made him appear weak and stupid in front of his followers. He surely blames you for getting crushed by that train and stuck in a wheelchair. And he went to prison. I’m sure he’s seething mad. I’m sure he’s plotting something against you, Andy. I wouldn’t put something like this past Peter Smith. I’m worried about your safety, Andy. Maybe you should think about moving?”

“Not yet, Bruce,” I replied. “First, I’m not afraid of Peter or his cronies. And second, I don’t want to overreact. I think I’ll just wait things out and see what happens.”

“I tell you what,” Bruce said. “How about I come over there for a few days? I can keep an eye on things while you’re at work. I can watch your place at night. Maybe I can catch whoever it is that’s pulling this shit.”

“Yeah,” I said. “That would be cool, Bruce. I’d really appreciate that.”

* * *

Thanks for reading the third chapter of The Track To Redemption. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. If you’re interested in reading more of my work, please check out my Books & Music page.