Ketchup or you’re brown bread!

Allen was feeling drained from his brainstorming session. His anxiety determined that he role-play every conceivable scenario for his visitation to the Calvinos. His mind had come up with more scenarios than a Game of Thrones plot-line. Thankfully the whiskey glass by his side promised to recover some of the vital energy he needed. Next to the glass sat a small Ruger model handgun. Such a small object and yet it was capable of utter destruction if used for wrongful intentions. What did he have use of this instrument of death for anyhow, he’d never needed to utilise anything like this before, relying on his natural charm and the occasional threat. He’d been shocked by how many gun-loading and general handling lessons he had found on YouTube.

He’d bundled Kat and Ani to a nearby Hotel. Their safety had been the first scenario he envisioned. As he reached the bottom of the driveway to the big house, he prescribed himself a last minute pep talk.

03-16-18_12-38-17 PM.png

Many thanks to 65Brenda who placed this beautiful house, Serenade on the Sims Gallery.

When the door was finally answered it was by an old lady of small stature. Allen wondered if he had got the wrong address. Her gravel voice and stern face advised Allen that this was a lady who had not been instructed to wait in the compassion queue. Barking at him she affirmed; “You’re late. Foods cold.”
The dining room was exquisitely designed, luxurious art deco sophistication. Allen noted the various animal heads lining the upper sections of the walls. The head of the family was sat at the table with other members of the family, gesturing Allen to take a seat and quickly.
Taking a big bite of his steak, small pieces of debris were launched from his mouth like escape shuttle-pods from the mothership; “Let’s get down to business. We know your history and we’d like to extend our protection to you. In exchange we will make use of your specialised skill-set. I understand you may be confused about this proposal, you may not be familiar with who we are. I shall give you some time to think about our proposal – two minutes!” His voice had a friendly demeanor with heavy undertones of a menacing threat. As Allen took a closer look in the direction he was being pointed, he observed that it wasn’t just animal heads adorning the walls, the eyes being all-too human.

03-16-18_9-02-28 PM

Many thanks to VincentG-1999 for the Mafia Italienne family that I have used in these screenshots.

Still being unaccustomed to the receivership end of threats Allen took the opportunity to make his opinions heard; “Interesting choice of decor,” he scuffed. “I’m out of the game though. I’m golden and I’m not interested in upsetting the daisies to plant a few tulips,” giving his trade sarcastic smile he took a sip of the wine.
“Well now, young man I have to tell you that is no way to treat the keen hospitality we’ve shown to you, ain’t that right, Antonio-,” Mr Calvino announced. He reached under the table and a large scraping sound of a heavy object was heard before Allen spotted the shotgun. Cocked and loaded it was pointed toward him; “In fact that’s out rightly rude. I’d like to invite you to reconsider, Zepeda lest you end up in my prize collection.” He nodded toward the collection. He was pointing the shotgun directly at Allen’s forehead. It fired. Allen had expected the next thing he saw to be St. Peter and the pearly gates but instead all he saw was the old man laughing his head off, rocking backwards in his chair.
“Indulge me, why would I need your protection. The only danger I appear to be in is your sick sense of humour,” Allen retorted. He felt brave enough to try and take control of the situation.

03-16-18_9-06-25 PM

“We are not at liberty to discuss the finer points of our operation with you just yet, Allen. Rest assured that what we can discuss with you is that there gun you’re holstering. Our little gift.” Mr Calvino gestured toward one of the bodyguards who nodded and went downstairs.

After some loud clanging of chains, the bodyguard reappeared with a restrained person. Mr Calvino gave a wry smile that did nothing to settle the atmosphere; “Found this guy sniffing around your lake house. See. Trying to set up a nail bomb, Antonio informs me. Your previous employer supposedly doesn’t consider your previous dealings with him a closed matter, Zepeda.” He gestured lazily, lighting his cigar with a nod indicating that he was acquainted with the details of Allen’s employment history. Continuing his assurance he affirmed; “There is little that happens in my town without my knowledge, or say-so, Allen. Antonio will take care of your little mess for you.”

pic1calvino

Allen was still reviewing his decision making process, having agreed to Calvino’s proposal – perhaps there had been something in the wine.

03-16-18_9-18-36 PM

As he neared his Audi (a fine specimen from their 8-series range) he failed to notice the van heading straight for it. The driver was holding something out of the window and before Allen had time to dodge, it had fired, twice.
A small red patch was seen in near-enough center of the man’s forehead before the vehicle crashed. Antonio was lurching out of the window with a rifle, impatiently shouting; “That’s two you owe, Zepeda. Remember that.”
Touching his head, Allen was greeted with a significant amount of claret in his hand. Rushing quickly to his car, his dizzying body making it an ambitious directive, he inspected the damage in his wing mirror. He’d seen enough episodes of ER to know the bullet hadn’t lodged there, it was just a graze gunshot wound, had it of been even an inch closer he may have been pushing up the daisies!

After the third glass of whiskey his nerves were familiarising themselves with normality. Kat was her usual supportive self; “I warn you, Allen they is pig dogs. Not know how respect any things. Should take them to laundry shop and take all the monies.” Allen wasn’t able to argue with her on this point. He’d known the family were corrupt but he never seriously entertained the thought that his life could ever be in any danger. Now he potentially had bigger problems as he considered the kind of work that his new employers were going to ask of him.

03-16-18_9-43-24 PM

 

Author’s reflections…
Allen has unique gifts and abilities, as we all have, and with that comes our freewill. We can choose to use the gifts and abilities that we have to help others and show love, or we can use them to cause destruction, iniquity or hurt others.
I was recently given some money that I intended to use to buy the laptop I now write on. I have a choice in how I can use, I can either use it to indulge my own selfish passions consistently, troll others on the internet or consume inappropriate media or I could use it to broadcast love through my writing and glorify God. On the desktop I have the verse; “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].” (1 Corinthians 15:58 – Amplified Bible)
I believe one of the key reasons for why we so often choose to hurt and not love others is we fail to recognise how precious each one of us is to God. We don’t understand the worth that He places on each of us, and so because we don’t see that, we don’t see others or ourselves as valuable. Therefore, we treat both ourselves and others badly, or for wrong purposes. God has revealed in His Word how precious we are; “You are precious in my eyes,” God says, “and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4a). We can imagine the most valuable thing on earth: Diamonds, gold, an extensive collection of anime and it is of no comparison to the worth we have to God. It says He will use things like gold and diamonds for paths in Heaven, but as to us, we are precious enough for Jesus Christ to die for us – each single one of us! That is something that astounds and baffles me every time I reflect on it. My question to you, lovely reader is, do you know who Jesus is? Do you wish for him to come into your life?

The parable of the Geisha (Part I)

My name is Himeko Ikeda. I’m 26, divorced and have two beautiful daughters – of that at least I can be thankful to him for. We live in New Orleans, the city that never lets you sleep, but I was raised in a village outside of Shimbasi with my two younger sisters. This is my story of why you should never offer a hair clip to a Kodama1.

1Japanese folklore spirits that inhabit trees and curse people.

03-04-18_5-51-38 PMThe women in my family have always been Geishas2 since I can remember and I was to be no exception to the family tradition. I was currently undergoing the grueling training as a Maiko3 and awaiting my fifteenth birthday to become Geisha. My Father had promised that after my Eriage ceremony (changing of the collar) I would receive my college fund. It would enable me to study my chosen subject, further honing my abilities of making conversation and entertaining as a Geisha.

03-04-18_5-53-50 PM

The training I was completing as a Maiko was tiresome; long hours, constant practicing and developing our hostessing skills. With the little free time we had, we used it to mainly catch up on sleep. What was making the training harder was this stupidly long robe I was instructed to wear. It had far longer sleeves than that of the Geisha one and I never understood why it was this way around. It defied logic! Furthermore, I had been struggling with the occasional episode of clumsiness. Recently I had been carrying a tea tray to the Okami4 to practice my hostessing skills; I tripped over my Kimono5 near a naked flame, spilling tea over the precious wood flooring and setting alight my robe!

2A Japanese female hostess. Their skill-sets include music, dance and conversation.
3An apprentice to a Geisha. They wear a longer Kimono and have a differently coloured collar to the Geisha.
4Traditional Japanese robe with wide sleeves and tied with a sash.
5The head of the house where Geisha work/perform. Often female.
03-04-18_5-58-19 PM

I was counting every minute until the summer holidays. The daydreams about spending time with my friends on various adventures were beginning to occupy a significant amount of time. Kiyoshi had suggested a day reading poetry in the nearby Bijin Bayashi Forest. The season was offering some of the most delightful shades of warm orange and browns, the shade of warm cookie dough and apricots. 03-04-18_6-04-28 PM

Thanks to Pizzagamer860 for this rural Japanese Shrine from the Sims community.

Kiyoshi was more familiar with the mountain trails than myself. He knew about the various Oni6 and other spirits that were plaguing the path, making it dangerous to visit at night. He had suggested cycling there – all three hours of it!
The arduous ride had given me ‘saddle sore’ and as we reached the start of the treacherous path, we stopped to make an offering of wrapped sake at the Hie Jinja shrine to Sanno7, the protector of the mountain. His favour would protect us in our adventures.
Local legend spoke of people not stopping to make an offering. They found that their equipment failed them – both GPS and compass navigation. They would become quickly disorientated, and subsequently lost as the oni set about manipulating their senses. That was when the oni came out to taunt them a second time with their shrill shrieks echoing through the forest. The visitors either were led to their doom, off a cliff edge or an unplanned slide down a deep ravine. That was if the oni didn’t steal your soul first by tricking you into looking directly at them while your mouth was open!

6Supernatural ogre in Japanese folklore able to cause disasters, disease and other unpleasant things.
7Mountain King deity in Japanese culture, also features in Buddhism.

03-04-18_6-24-44 PM
I had under-estimated how strenuous the journey would be and was feeling like a dried-up fig from dehydration. The Okami’s training had been relentless on my body and as the path got steeper and narrower, I slipped and fell, hitting my head on a rock. I could faintly hear Kiyoshi saying he was going to get help as his phone signal had dropped. No, please, not Kiyoshi leave my friend alone!

When I awoke, I was laying at the foot of a tree. I wasn’t on the path anymore and there was no sign of my friend. I heard a rustling sound of leaves from behind me, and a voice that didn’t sound human; “Pretty girl. Take home.”
I turned to see an oni that appeared to resemble a greenman. It had a delicate pink flower sat atop of it’s head and was making several random sounds bloop swish plop. As these echoing sounds traveled through the forest and I gazed upon its devious grin, suggesting that it was hiding deceptively large fangs, I gasped and froze. This was no Oni, but something far worse – a Kodama! I attempted to ask it where I was but it just kept repeating; “Friend. Home.”
My family had always taught that in any tense situation, it was the responsibility of the Geisha to use her skills as ambassador. I thought quickly and offered the Kodama my precious silver hair clip that had been given to me when I was bonded with my Onesan8. The little greenman figure made a sound of awe-filled wonder as it thew the clip in the air, spinning on its heels several times before swallowing it! It clapped several times before speaking; “Minu ga hana” (Not seeing is a flower). Confused, I asked what it meant and it said; “things will never be as you imagine, so you’re better off not seeing them.”
I awoke with a thumping headache. Kiyoshi was standing over me trying to help me up with the assistance of my Father and his look of disapproval. As I stood up, I heard that same voice saying; “friends now. Visit you tonight.”
I looked to the others for reaffirmation but I was apparently the only one who had heard anything…

8Sister figure in Geisha culture who teaches trade to the Maiko.

Author’s reflections – When I was a young girl I stupidly took part in doing Ouija boards with friends. We adopted spirit guides that we would talk to via Ghost-writing and before I knew it, I was suffering from paranoid delusions, skipping school and acting in very strange ways. It culminated in me believing a whole host of lies about myself, but I didn’t realise until many years later that this had been the catalyst. I got used to telling the lies to be quiet (I don’t think I was schizophrenic), but I never experienced real freedom from the often constant barrage of insults. I still had faith, but I believed I had been created to fail, would never amount to anything and would never be someone good enough. As a result of believing these lies, I lived a life of defeat and misery. I suffered from depression and anxiety until I recently reached the point of believing I was nothing more than a parasite on society and was entertaining thoughts of ending my life. I had no hope left. Thankfully the Lord pulled me out of the pit of despair I’d sunk into.
I’ve recently started a negativity fast which addresses the problem about the lies we believe about ourselves, our situation and Who God is. Although I had been a “Christian” for many years, I had some really mixed-up views about God and as a result, was angry with him and the world. I’d spent too long listening to lies and had not received the truth of who I was as God viewed me.
One of the teachings of this course was to confront the lie; “my past experiences will determine what I do and who I am”. The truth, however is that we are all made in God’s image and our identity is in who God says we are. I absolutely love the verse in Ephesians 2:10 for this; “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” We can receive the promises that God has revealed about us through His Word, but we must both believe and have faith. If you are unsure of your identity in Christ, or you simply wish to know more about this, here is a link from Joyce Meyer: https://www.joycemeyer.org/everydayanswers/ea-teachings/knowing-who-i-am-in-christ