Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C8-4

On the day before Thanksgiving, Atticus came home from the hospital, wearing an eye patch. And just in time for Christmas, he returned to work.

Brielle, Jo, and the other waitresses threw a huge “Welcome Back” party for Atticus on the day of his return. All the customers in the dining area joined the party, glad to see the owner of their favorite restaurant return.

The restaurant was decked out in Christmas decorations. A medium-sized Christmas tree stood in the lined windows next to the entrance and wreaths hung on the double door to the kitchen and break room. A banner hung over the dining area, which read, “Welcome back Atticus! You’re just in time for Christmas!”

The song, “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” blared over the speakers and everyone cheered as Atticus arrived, wearing an eyepatch, and walking on a cane.

“It’s only temporary,” Atticus told them all, “I’ll be able to ditch this thing in a month or two.”

“Welcome back, Atticus,” Brielle said with a smile as she hugged who she thought of as the best boss a lady could have.

With his sister, Jo, at his side, Atticus passed through the crowd as customers gathered around. The female customers hugged him and the male customers giving him friendly slaps on the back and handshakes.

On the marquee outside also announced Atticus’ return, reading “Merry Christmas from Bobtail Bud’s” and “Welcome Back Atticus,” underneath the first message.

Everyone was singing and cheering when suddenly, Jo looked up, in the direction of the front entrance. Her eyes widened. The surprised look on her face then turned to a scowl.

“Oh, my God! I knew we shouldn’t have announced this on the marquee outside!” she said disdainfully.

“What are you talking about?” Brielle asked.

Jo pointed toward the entrance.

Brielle and everyone around them looked in the direction Jo was pointing and, sure enough, Bobby, Ashton, Grant, and Aaron had walked in. The four lawmen were looking dead at them and smirking as they took an empty booth.

“Welp, there goes my appetite!” Brielle remarked.

“Ugh! Yours and mine both!” Jo added, her voice dripping with disgust.

Brielle stood there, hands on hips, giving the lawmen a contemptuous glare.

“So, are you even close to finding the people who assaulted Atticus early last month?” she asked in a cold tone of contempt.

“Sorry, so far, we’ve found nothing,” Ashton responded, the response being more of a taunt than an answer.”

“Gee, now! Why am I not surprised? But you can bet that if Crawford were still alive, he’d still be sheriff and he would have had quite a few leads by now,” Brielle taunted back.

Bobby came to a sudden pause. His eyes flashed, as did the eyes of the other three county cops as they all turned and looked at Brielle, then at Atticus and the other coworkers around her. The customers also heard Brielle’s remark.

“Ooooh!” One young male customer shouted derisively before everyone in the restaurant burst into loud cackles, guffaws, and horselaughs.

Without taking his eyes of rage off Brielle, Bobby and the deputies slowly and threateningly rose from their seats and stood, directly facing Brielle and the other restaurant staff.

“Well, Crawford’s dead now, ain’t he?” Bobby growled angrily through his teeth.

“Oh, you’re right, he is, which was pretty doggone convenient for you,” Brielle said point blank.

“You don’t know shit about it, gal! Which is why it’s a damn good thing you aren’t sheriff, and I am,” Bobby thundered in utter outrage.

“For you, that’s a very good thing, Bobby. Because, if I was, you’d be in jail, along with the rest of your sycophants,” Brielle said in a calm, confident tone.

“Really? Let’s get one thing straight, Brielle! We don’t have to explain anything to you!” Ashton bit angrily.

“It’s just as well. Even if you tried, I don’t think you could,” Brielle, ever so calmly, fired back.

Self-Love Irrespective of What Others Think

No lie. This can be hard to do, especially if the people around you hate you and are bullying you. Loving yourself in the midst of bullying and in a room full of people who think horribly of you takes a mountain of hard work when all you hear from others is:

“You aren’t worth a damn!”

“You suck!”

“You’re a drain on society!”

“You’ll never amount to a hill of beans!”

I understand. If you hear that long enough and from enough people, it can break your spirit if you let it. And how you refuse to let it get to you is to see it for what it is- noise pollution!

Here are a few more ways you can refuse to let their abuse get to you.

Give yourself permission to be yourself.

Know that’s it’s okay for you to be you.

Train your inner voice, through practice, to love you unconditionally.

Know that it’s okay to have needs, wants, and desires.

Deny the urge to compare yourself to others.

Understand that it’s okay to walk away from drama, and that it’s not out of fear that you do so, it’s out of smarts and self-care.

Allow yourself to make mistakes and to learn from them.

Realize that it’s okay to leave if you’re in an environment where you aren’t valued.

And lastly, know that it’s okay if people get angry with you.

Realize that if you don’t love yourself no matter your circumstances, it can have negative consequences later. Therefore, it’s so important that you do!

Although you can never control how others view you. And you can’t control what others say to you and how they act toward you. We must realize that another person’s behavior is beyond our control. However, what you can control is how you behave. In other words, you can control how you respond to the behavior of bullies and other idiots who try to steal your joy.

Loving yourself in the face of bullying is revolutionary!

Therefore, you must do what you can to drown out this noise pollution. And how you do it is to see your bullies for the creeps they truly are, think good thoughts of yourself, and remind yourself of your good qualities. Believe it or not, working to think highly of yourself when nobody else does is the greatest act of rebellion against bullies!

Again, see it for what it is. The judgements and verbal abuse you consistently hear from the cowardly creeps around you, is nothing but a bunch of racket. In other words, it’s noise pollution!

When you work to like yourself when others don’t, you refuse to let bullies get into your head. In that, you train your brain to filter out other’s negative comments and remarks that serve no purpose but to damage your self-esteem. Also, you silence that inner critic that would otherwise nag you night and day.

Moreover, when you love and accept yourself, others outside the bullying environment and strangers who have no history with you will be inclined to also love and accept you. No, your bullies and abusers won’t like or love you even if you love yourself, but who cares about them?

So, love yourself despite what others think of you. You will be surprised at how it will protect your self-esteem. When you work to feel good about yourself, even while bullies are tearing you down, it will work as a buffer to the psychological attacks they launch.

You may come out of it bruised but not broken.

With knowledge comes power!

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C8.3

As Brielle was hanging up with her grandmother, Jo came outside and got into Brielle’s car with her.

“What time is it?” Jo asked.

“Almost two a.m. Any word on, Atticus?” Brielle responded.

“He’s conscious now. But he can’t see out of his right eye, Brielle. And that hematoma? What if he has a major brain bleed and…” Jo sobbed.

Brielle leaned across the middle console and embraced Jo in a hug. Jo sobbed on Brielle’s shoulder as the distant chopping and whir of helicopter blades faded in, growing louder and louder. Brielle looked through the windshield into the blackness of the night sky.

Brielle Consoles Jo

Suddenly, Brielle heard a loud tap on her driver’s side window. Brielle turned around and looked to see who was at her window. It was Bobby, tapping on it with his flashlight. Ashton, who was with him, leaned on the side of Brielle’s SUV and folded his arms, wearing the same smug smirk on his face.

“What the hell do you want?” Brielle barked bitterly.

“We’ve been watching you, Brielle. Who were you on the phone with a while ago?”

“None of your damn business! What are you, the Gestapo!” She chided.

“Get the hell out of here, you Nazis!” Jo yelled at the crooked lawmen, “get out of here now! I know you both had a hand in this! You did this!”

The two county cops chuckled derisively before tipping their hats to the women and walking away.

“Those bastards! Those evil, hellish bastards!” Jo yelled.

Brielle continued to hug Jo until she calmed down. She then looked at Jo.

“Listen, those idiots aren’t real law. They put shame on the sheriff’s badge. And you need to stay with Atticus, So, I’ll cover your shift and mine if I have to,” Brielle told her gently.

“Thank you, Brielle. Thank you so much,” Jo said, with tears still streaming down her cheeks.

A Mysterious Lull

Over the three weeks that Atticus was in the hospital, Brielle worked many long shifts, covering for Jo. Many loyal customers would stop Brielle to ask how Atticus was doing and she made sure to fill them in on his progress.

Also, because Jane had made many friends out of the targets and other students on the lower and middle levels in the school hierarchy, the higher-ups had decided to back off her. Because things seemed to be peaceful, Jane thought that she’d seen the last of the drama her bullies had brought her during the first three months of school. She soon became comfortable at school and her confidence showed so much that everyone noticed.

Brielle was relieved that her daughters were doing much better in school. She felt that things were indeed looking up for the girls. Also, the sheriff and the rest of the old clique from years ago seemed to disappear from Brielle’s life. Because it seemed that everyone had stopped confronting her, Brielle could finally breathe, and she too grew more comfortable with her life. It seemed that things were looking up for everyone who had, in the past, found themselves in the crosshairs of the Thomasville elite.

A Well-Needed Break Nonetheless

Lord knew why they’d suddenly stopped bothering Brielle and the rest of the so-called undesirables. Maybe they wanted to watch their p’s and q’s because they didn’t want to get arrogant and careless like Johnny Crabtree had years before. The old clique didn’t want to do anything that might get them in trouble.

Had they stopped for good, or was it only a temporary break designed to lull the Markowitz’s and the Carpenters into a false sense of security? Had they grown bored or was this a trick to lull them into bringing down their defenses?

Bringing My Grievance to God

Dear Lord, faithful and true. My heart and soul begs for blessing and deliverance from my circumstances, yet you do not answer. My heart and soul languishes, and desires to climb upward, yet it seems that you have turned your face and refuse to open a pathway upward. This hurts, oh, Lord. I seek your face only to see your back. I pray for increase and elevation, only to remain anchored. I seek bountiful blessings only to get a few crumbs tossed my way. When it seems that you have answered my prayers, it turns out to be a joke from the devil. How long, oh Lord must I languish? How long will I continue to be disappointed amd heartbroken? What do I do to work toward the blessings I seek. Lord, I’m being honest, I feel that you have forsaken me, rejected me, left me to fend for myself in this evil world. Will I ever see those blessings, Lord? Is your answer a “wait” or is it a “no?” This I must know, Lord. I must know so that I can know when to cut my losses, let it go, and find another purpose, perhaps one that you will bless, favor, and one that is in line with your will.

Bless me oh, Lord. I pray you, I beg you, I beseech you, I implore you.

In Jesus name, Amen

A Remedy for Self-consciousness

Self-consciousness can influence the trajectory of your life. It causes us to forgo taking risks that lead to opportunity and great outcomes. Why? Because, we to place too much focus on how others perceive us and what they think.

Therefore, we become too fearful of making decisions for ourselves. Therefore, we don’t follow own paths and do what fulfills us.

“What will others think of me?”

“How will they treat me if I decide to do this?”

“What will my friends say?”

You’re constantly on alert, allowing these questions to replay in your subconscious, over and over again. However, what if I told you that these friends and “others” are just as self-conscious as you? And what if your bullies bully and ridicule you because they are scared of what others will think of them if they don’t bully you?

Here’s what my mother told me years ago. 

“Most people worry too much about how they appear in front of others to care about how you appear. Also, any time someone points a finger and judges you, they do so from a place of their own insecurity.  Most do it out of self-consciousness and it should be of no consequence to you.”

As usual, she was right!

In other words, they’re too busy monitoring themselves to monitor you. And if they do watch you and wait for you to screw up, it’s for the chance of taking the spotlight off their own imperfections. Put another way, they’re so worried about how they appear to others that they’re more than willing to point out your flaws in order to conceal theirs. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book- keep the spotlight off your own screw ups by highlighting someone else’s.

At the root of bullying is self.  Self-servitude, self-validation, self-centeredness. But most of all, Self-consciousness.

If this isn’t a real confidence booster, nothing is!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C8.2

Later that night, just before midnight, Atticus took two full trash bags outside to the dumpsters which were in the back of the business. He tossed them into the dumpster and wiped his hands on his apron. Suddenly, a voice yelled.

“What’s up, motherfucker!”

Before Atticus had time to react. Several brutal blows landed, and he was knocked to the ground. Next, a hail of kicks bore into his ribs, stomach, and face.

“Bigtime war hero! You think you’re tough! What, motherfucker? You think you’re tough! You think you can be a hero! Huh! You wanna run your fucking mouth, shit for brains!” shouted several male voices as a group of mystery men continued raining brutal kicks to his body.

The mayhem seemed to last for hours until everything in Atticus’ field of vision faded to black. The mystery men continued talking mad smack as they dealt the beat down.

Jo happened to come outside with a few full trash bags of her own when she heard the commotion. She dropped the trash and began running toward the noise. When she got there, a pair of hands reached out and grabbed her from behind.

“Atticus! Nooooo!” She screamed to the top of her lungs, “Somebody help! Please, hellllllp!”

A Vicious Attack

“Shut the fuck up, bitch!” Another male voice screamed back as Jo felt a punch to her face. The person restraining her then threw her to the ground and the mystery men ran off.

Jo crawled over to her unconscious brother and took him in her arms. She sobbed as she rocked back and forth holding on to her injured brother.

Atticus’ eyes were swollen shut and his forehead had a huge knot forming. Jo looked at Atticus and could practically see the knot growing bigger and bigger. Blood ran down his face from two huge gashes- one in his forehead and another next to his left temple.

“I’ve got you, Atticus! I’ve got you!” she sobbed with tears running down her face.

“Brielle! Somebody help! Heeelllllp!” She shrieked to the top of her lungs.

The back door to the restaurant flew open. Brielle came running up and knelt beside them both. She took out her smartphone, dialed, and pressed a button before pausing.

“9-1-1,” a female voice sounded on the other end.

“We need an ambulance! A man has been attacked behind the Double Nickel on Hwy 72! Please hurry!” She cried.

Two more younger waitresses ran up to them and knelt.

Later, at the hospital, Brielle went outside and called Grandma Bennett. Grandma picked up on the third ring.

“Hello.”

“Grandma, it’s Brielle. I’m at the hospital. They beat Atticus within an inch of his life tonight! And they punched Jo in the face when she ran out to help him. Can you spend the night with the kids tonight? They’ve got the Mills town police here and Jo and I are witnesses,” Brielle told her in a shaky voice.

Grandma Bennett gasped in horror and shot up in her lounge chair.

A Trip to the Hospital

“Oh, my goodness, Brielle! How bad is Atticus?” she asked in a terrified voice.

“He’s bad, Grandma! Real bad! They’ve got an air-evac on the way! They’re going to airlift him to Memphis! The doctor just did a CT scan on his brain, and they spotted a hematoma behind his right eye! Oh, God, Grandma! Pray for him! Just pray!” Brielle cried as her eyes flooded with tears.

“Now, listen, Brielle. If you get to talk to Atticus, you tell him that I’ll be coming to Memphis to see him either tomorrow or sometime during the weekend. And you tell him that a lot of people are praying for him. You hear?” Grandma told her.

“I will. But Grandma, he’s still unconscious. If he doesn’t wake up before the helicopter gets here and takes him…” Brielle sobbed.

“I understand, honey.”

Brielle looked around cautiously, as if to see if she was being watched.

“Just a minute, Grandma. Hang on for a minute or two.”

She quickly walked across the parking lot, then she broke into a sprint before she got to her vehicle, jumped into the driver’s seat, then closed and locked the door.

“Are you still there?”

“Yes, I am, honey.” Grandma answered.

Brielle’s Suspicions

“Listen Grandma, I have a feeling that Sheriff Bobby Crabtree had something to do with this. I just can’t prove it. Bobby and Ashton came into the restaurant tonight, just to needle Atticus and tried to tell him to fire me. But Atticus stood up to them. Someone even overheard them give Atticus a veiled threat to burn his business to the ground. Oh, Grandma! They’re out to get him. And not only because of the deal with his wife and daughter. I was under the impression that all the drama surrounding the DUI accident that happened years ago had died down. But now, they’re pissed at him again and I think it’s because they found out that he hired me. I know it sounds paranoid, but…” Brielle went on.

“Now, listen, Brielle. You can’t blame yourself, honey. And I’ve known Atticus for years. I can tell you right now that he doesn’t blame you and neither does Jo,” Grandma assured.

“I’m not worried about that, Grandma. I’m worried about Atticus right now,” Brielle told her, “I’m going to be here a while and then I’ll be home as soon as things calm down.”

“Alright, sugar. I love you.”

“I love you too, Grandma. You be careful too, okay?”

“Sweetheart, Bobby knows better than to mess with me.”