Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C11-7

Breaking news with brick going through glass window.

The next morning, fifteen-hundred miles away, Shannon and Chris were having breakfast at their home. The morning news was airing on the flat screen that was mounted on the wall in a nook in the huge eat-in kitchen. Chris sat a glass of orange juice in front of Shannon, then sat across the table from her.

“You know? I was thinking.” Chris said, “Those fertility treatments finally paid off and Taylor was born. And now, he’s in kindergarten. Time flies so fast at our age.”

“That it does. But being pregnant at forty-three wasn’t as easy as it was with the other kids. And Taylor ended up being a C-section baby because of the age-related complications. Having a baby really took a lot out of me the last time around. But we did it and he was worth it.” Shannon said.

Suddenly, they heard a knock at the door.

“Who is it?” Chris called out.

Shannon and the Bledsoes, Present Day

“It’s Daniel and Miles!” Daniel called out from outside.

Chris walked to the door and answered it. Daniel and Miles were on the doorstep carrying a big, oblong box. Daniel had one end of the box and Miles the other.

“Shannon! Looks like Taylor’s playhouse just arrived.” Chris called back to her.

He held the door open as his two brothers came in with the box. They then sat it down and propped it against the wall.

“You’re welcome to stay for breakfast. We have plenty to eat.” Shannon said with a smile as she stood next to the counter that separated the spacious living room from the huge eat-in kitchen, cradling Whiskers, the new kitten they’d rescued, in her arms.

“Sure. We can stay and eat.” Daniel said with a smile.


As they talked, breaking news aired on the television in the kitchen.

“I’m Gina Hutchins with breaking news. Two prison inmates have escaped from the Bedford-Campbell Federal prison in Bryson, TN. Forty-nine-year-old Johnny Ray Crabtree and forty-eight-year-old Jason Allen Eves broke out of prison just a few days ago…”

Chris paused, then spun around and went back into the kitchen. and Shannon’s mouth dropped open. She then slowly turned around and faced the television. She, Chris, and the brothers continued watching as the news anchor continued speaking.

“…a nationwide manhunt is currently underway as authorities continue to search for the two missing inmates. Tips have been rolling in and a sighting of the two men was confirmed this morning with a tipster claiming to have seen the men just the day before yesterday about twenty miles west of Amarillo, Texas. A previous confirmed sighting was just twelve hours earlier just west of Little Rock, Arkansas.”

Chris turned and looked at Shannon. Daniel and Miles looked at each other, then at Chris.

“Un-freaking-believable!” Miles said in a voice of high concern.

“’You think they’re headed to Mexico?” Daniel asked.

“Through, Amarillo?” Chris asked sarcastically.

“They were seen around Little Rock, then they were seen just west of Amarillo the day before yesterday. ‘Doesn’t sound like they’re going to Mexico!” Miles said.

“I’m going to make some phone calls,” Shannon told them. And she grabbed her smartphone and went down the hall toward the master bedroom.

Brielle Suddenly Becomes Alarmed

Back in Tennessee, Brielle, Grandma Bennett, Raina, and Kim stood in Grandma’s living room, watching the same news broadcast while the teenagers and kids sat at the kitchen table, working diligently on their home school lessons.

“I thought Popeye said that they were headed for Mexico,” Brielle said.

“That’s what I heard too,” Grandma agreed.

“Well, they can’t be headed to Mexico if they were spotted in Amarillo. That’s way up in the Texas panhandle. I came through there coming back home last year. It’s nowhere near the Mexican border,” Brielle said in a tone of concern.

“So, where could they be going?” Raina asked befuddled.

Just then, Brielle paused and got very still. A sobering realization hit her like a mac truck and a look of sheer horror crept across her face.

“Oh, my God! I bet they’re headed to Tucson, Grandma!” she said in a foreboding voice.

“What’s in Tucson that could possibly interest those two creeps?” Kim asked

“It’s not what’s in Tucson. It’s who! Grandma, where’s your computer?”


What Comes with Empowerment

Empowerment from bullying is the best feeling ever and I say this from personal experience. However, it comes with some personal responsibility. Why do I say this? Again, it’s because of experience. Before I could re-empower myself and send my bullies packing, I had to take a certain amount of responsibility.

I not only had to learn the mindsets of bullying and do my own investigations, but I also had to learn how to respond instead of reacting. I had to find ways to empower myself and realize that once you begin taking steps to do so, the bullying will get worse before it gets better. And I had to change my own way of thinking. In that, I had to stop seeing myself as a victim and start viewing myself as a target instead. Words do matter.

Empowerment means having more control over our lives. It means having the courage to make our own decisions, even if those decisions upset other people. If we’re targets of bullying and we aren’t careful, we may unwittingly and unknowingly allow our bullies to take those things from us.

Therefore, let’s talk more in-depth about the empowerment process.

What steps can we take to empower ourselves?

1. Find your purpose. Having a purpose is so empowering! However, it requires that you find out what it is. Think back to those childhood inclinations and try to remember what your strongest inclination was. Did you want to be a singer? A writer? This is one way.

2. Find your passion. What do you enjoy doing? What is your favorite hobby? How might it help you to make the world a better place? If you can answer these questions, then chances are, you’ve found your passion.

3. Read and learn about bullies and bullying. This requires getting abreast of your bullies’ mindsets and weaknesses. How you do this is to read all you can about bullying. And when you read, you must think about all the behaviors your bullies have displayed, then put two and two together. And once you do, you will finally see the bullies for the pathetic cowards they are, and your self-esteem will soar!

It Won’t Come Easy!

 Finding your purpose and passion are wonderful ways to empower yourself. It gives you something to do that will take your mind off the bullying you suffer. Therefore, the bullying won’t have the effect on you that it would have if you only sat around and dwelled on it.

However, it won’t come without resistance from those around you. Sadly, when we chose to follow our purpose, passion, goals, and dreams, it can induce jealousy and insecurity, especially in your bullies. Moreover, they will find ways to distract you from achieving your desired outcomes.

Also, getting knowledge of your bullies and of bullying can empower you. In fact, it’s one of the most empowering things you can do. And once you realize where bullying comes from and why bullies do it, it won’t have near the effort on your self-esteem that it once did.

Again, don’t think any of these steps won’t come with some resistance.

So, what are the things bullies and other people will do to get in your way?

1. They will fill you with doubt. If there’s one thing you should remember, it’s this: Those who fill you with doubt also doubt themselves. When their own self-doubt holds them back, they will project it onto you and hold you back as well.

2. They won’t be as excited about your dreams as you are. But don’t take it personally. Only a few people in your life will be as excited about your dreams as you and vise versa. You will only be as excited about the dreams of those you love most and wish well. And bullies will laugh at your dreams. This is a fact of life.

Therefore, don’t let that kill your excitement and don’t let it stop you. Because, if you’re not careful, it’s easy to let their lack of enthusiasm discourage you.

3. They may go a step further and discourage you. They may tell you that your goal or dreams isn’t worth pursuing. Maybe, they’ll tell you that you’ll only fail. This can inject fear in your mind and cause you to hesitate taking the first step to success.

 Playing Mind Games with Yourself

Understand that bullies and others who discourage you, do so based on their own limitations and failures. Their discouragement comes from their own worldview. And their worldview is that of failure and disappointment. In other words, their own limited self-beliefs stem from their own lack of success and their observation of others around them who failed to achieve their goals and dreams.

Some discourage you because they are afraid that you’ll succeed and, in that, force them to take stock of their own lack of accomplishment. But others, who may indeed care about you, may call themselves trying to spare you from the heartache of failure. For example, let’s say you want to go into the music business and others are piling on a mountain of discouragement.

Here are some questions you will need to ask yourself:

1. Does this person really know more about music than you do?

2. Does this individual understand you as a person? Have they even taken the time to do so?

3. Have they themselves worked hard and achieved any of their own goals and dreams?

If the answer is no, then you should give no consideration to anything they tell you. We must do what we love. In other words, we must follow our purpose and passion. Otherwise, the desire to do so won’t have an outlet and will only grow. Also, the bullying we suffer will have more of a chance of getting under our skin.

You will only continue to squelch those desires, only for them to resurface? Or worse, you’ll end up living with regret? You must realize that people who are determined to stay in their comfort zones also want you to stay in yours.

Comfort Zones Only Keep You Stuck

Realize that empowerment comes with personal responsibility. It comes with a ton of mind work and much re-framing. And when bullies are attacking you left and right, it can be extremely difficult to re-frame those attacks and keep that victim mentality from getting a grip on you. However, if you want to keep your power and move toward a better life, you must refuse to call yourself a victim. Instead, call yourself a target. Because you are a target. But you don’t have to be a victim.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C11-6

“Well first news first, Johnny Crabtree and Jason Eves broke out of the Federal pen in Bryson the day before yesterday. They’re on the run. A few radio stations in Memphis have reported it but no one else has said a peep. The television news channels in Memphis are so preoccupied with local politics in Shelby County. They don’t have time to report on little rinky-dink stories like jailbreaks anymore. And the newspapers here in Glover County are hush hush about it because Johnny’s a Crabtree and still has cronies and friends here who would have a fit if they did report it,” Popeye informed.

“Wow! Are you sure, Popeye?” Jo asked.

“Oh, yeah. They broke out and split,” Alvin confirmed, “The word is that they were seen in Little Rock, yesterday morning. Though the sighting hasn’t exactly been confirmed.”


“I’m not surprised people are so quiet about it,” Brielle said, “The Crier is owned by the Winchesters, Rita’s dad owns that paper! And the Winchesters are in cahoots with the Crabtree’s, the Lindsay’s, and the Poston’s. The Crabtree’s are bigtime farmers and have a little bit of money. Rita’s family is even richer and it’s the only reason Bobby married her in the first place, because of her father’s millions! Her mother’s side of the family are the Poston’s, who are political figures in this town, so Rita and Bobby have a lot of pull in this town.”

“Yep! And Johnny, he married Corrine Poston and had Stephen, then she died of pneumonia when Stephen was a baby. So, Johnny had to raise the boy by himself and he was pretty tough on the kid, from what I hear. That’s why he was such a danged old bully,” Alvin added.

“So, who’s raised him after his daddy went to prison?” Brielle asked.

Some Background on the Crabtree’s 

“Bobby and Rita,” Alvin answered, “The boy is in college now.”

“Do they know where Johnny and Jason might be headed? And does Bobby know about it?” Jesse asked.

“Oh, Bobby knows about it. He’s just keeping a tight lip. Do you think that crooked bastard would ever turn his brother in? Hell to the no!” Alvin said.

“But do they know where they might be? Or might be headed?” Atticus asked.

“I don’t know. But I’ll see what I can find out when I work my shift at the prison tonight. We usually get a lot of scuttlebutt about the goings on in Bryson from coworkers who have friends working at the Federal Pen,” Malcolm answered.

“Well, I don’t know how true it is, but I was told they were headed west. Maybe to Mexico. There’s a big manhunt underway. But so far, they haven’t found a trace of those two turds.” Popeye said.

An Unsolved Murder

“That’s scary. For all they know, those two could be hiding out right here under our noses,” Eartha said.

“That’s certainly possible. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Bobby was hiding them out. He’s that crooked! The nepotism runs deep in that family,” Kim said.

“Possible but not likely. Those two are too smart to stay here. Chances are, they’re out of the state by now!” Popeye said.

“Oh, it gets worse. I’ve heard many stories about when that Mark Bridges boy was killed years ago, after he got into it with the Conrad boys and the Dix Brothers down at Bulldog’s Bar in the bottoms. A week or two later, they found his body in the trunk of a car they pulled out of the River,” Raina mentioned.

“I remember hearing about that. But wasn’t Mark Bridges almost blind, and kind of slow. Some thought he was mentally disabled,” Brielle said.

“He was. That’s why those boys fucked with him every time he and his friend went to Bulldog’s Bar. The guy was only there to have a good time with his buddy. And because he was different, those Conrad’s and Dix’s was all the time messin’ with him, and finally they killed him. I’ll bet they were the ones who killed that boy. But no one in this county will dare even breathe a word about it. It’s all hush-hush. The whisper is that the Crabtree’s were either involved in the murder, or they knew about it,” Alvin said.

“So, they think Johnny and Jason are headed west, do they?” Grandma asked.

“Yep. That’s the whisper,” Popeye said.

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C11-5

The following Tuesday was the court date for all the kids. One by one, Jane, Bruce, Roxie, Andy, and Brenda were herded into the juvenile court room, in front of Judge Poston. Just the day before, Jane had been released from the hospital and taken from there to the county juvenile facility. Having endured the longest three days of her life, Brielle, along with the Bennett, McCauley, Andretti, Schmitt, and Baxter families, sat in the public seating area, just behind the defendant’s table and railing.

Brielle could tell that Jane was still sore, seeing her walk with a slow gait and guarding her side and being careful not to aggravate her cracked ribs. She also noticed the dazed look in Jane’s eyes. A feeling of extreme concern overtook her.

Brielle then looked around and saw every member of the old clique sitting behind the plaintiff’s table, where the prosecution sat. All of their children- the bullies of Thomasville High, were also sitting with them in the courtroom, having been kept out of school for the sole purpose of getting to share in their parent’s pleasure of seeing these losers being escorted into the courtroom in chains and jail garb.

Brielle Reads the Room

Brielle noticed how they glared at her and the rest of the families, then looked at each other with smirks on their faces, seemingly filled with glee. The sheriff sat with them, along with Audrey, who smiled at Breanna. Breanna was visibly proud of what she had done, getting off on the power she had to ruin another person’s life. Sadly, that kind of power was highly addictive to narcissistic psychopaths like her.

As all the teenagers, dressed in grey jumpsuits, complete with shackles and chains, took their seats at the defense table, the old clique and the new clique took pleasure in watching the plights of these kids.

Behind the families of the young defendants, sat Raina, Kim, Popeye, Alvin, Eartha, Atticus, Jo, and Malcolm.

The proceedings moved rather quickly. And because the families of the marginalized kids had pooled their money together and hired a smart, bulldog Memphis attorney, Judge Poston had no choice but to grant bail after the kids plead not guilty. Thus, the case would go to trial a few months from this day.

After the families posted bail, the kids were allowed to come home and reunite with their families, which angered the sheriff and the rest of the town clique.

A Shocking but Pleasant Surprise

The families and friends of all gathered at Grandma Bennett’s house for another celebration. Family, food, and fun was top priority at the Bennett house that afternoon. Normally, they had always eaten in the kitchen at the oval oak dinner table. On this occasion, they ate at the long table in the formal dining room, under the crystal chandelier, which was strictly for special occasions.

Grandma Bennett, Marcelle, Brielle, Amy, and Melissa, the wives of Jesse and Jerome helped prepare a huge meal of fried catfish, slaw, white beans, fried potatoes, and hush puppies. As the remaining adults enjoyed togetherness in the living room, the kids gathered outside in the yard or on the front porch.

While the other kids played in the front yard, Bruce and Jane spent time together under the huge oak tree on the corner of the property, about fifty yards away. Bruce gazed into Jane’s eyes as he put his hands on her hips and she slowly ran her hands up his chest and laced her fingers around his neck.

“I was worried about you. When I got word that you were out of the hospital, I was relieved, although I hated that those creepy cops brought you to jail after you got out,” Bruce told her, “I’m sorry I couldn’t keep us from getting hit. I’m sorry I couldn’t keep you from getting hurt.”

A Happy Reunion

“There was nothing you could do. At least you pulled up on the emergency brake. The doctor said that if it weren’t for that, neither one of us would even be here now,” Jane said, “At least you kept me alive.” And they engaged in a long, passionate kiss.

When they finished kissing Bruce noticed that Jane’s eyes looked glazed.

“Are you alright, Jane?” he asked softly as he crooked his finger under her chin.

“A nurse gave me an injection the first night in the hospital. I don’t know what she gave me, but I haven’t felt right since,” Jane replied.

Later, as they were all eating in the dining room, Popeye spoke up.

“I got wind of a few things the other day that the local newspaper isn’t reporting. Those crooked reporters over at the Thomasville Crier and the Glover County Bulletin are silent as church mice about these things, and they’re huge.” Popeye said.

Everyone looked up from their plates and slightly leaned toward the messenger.

“So, what’s the news, Popeye?” Grandma Bennett asked.

Today’s Quote

“If the artist does not fling himself, without reflecting, into his work, as Curtis flung himself into the yawning gulf, as the soldier flings himself into the enemy’s trenches, and if, once in this crater, he does not work like a miner on whom the walls of his gallery have fallen in; if he contemplates difficulties instead of overcoming them one by one … he is simply looking on at the suicide of his own talent.”

Honore De Balzac

Why You Should Befriend Other Targets

The old saying that “birds of a feather flock together” rings true. The Law of Similarity dictates that in order to find good friendships, you must establish common ground. Understand that those who share the same activities, experiences, perspectives, and attitudes have a high probability of developing close friendships. Humans are naturally drawn to those who share mutual interests.

How targets make friends is to find like-minded people to bond with. And nothing bonds humans like a shared contempt for the same things, people, and groups. Therefore, developing connections with other targets is not only necessary but wise.

When a target finds others who have been bullied by the same bullies, it not only confirms that he isn’t alone in the fight, but it’s a juicy opportunity to make friends and allies. And these new friends just might back the target up the next time her bullies come calling.

Commonalities Attract

Also, it reinforces the fact that the target is not a bad person. It says that, despite what bullies and most others have told him, he can make friends. It sends the message that the target is a likeable person and automatically discredits the bullies. Therefore, having friends who share the same experiences is a real self-esteem booster.

When targets unite, they share sameness and, therefore, are least likely to face conflict with one another. Each target in the group finally feels understood.

Case in point, sameness will always attract people to one another. People tend to become friends with those most like themselves. When targets begin to associate with and create ties with others whom the bullies have targeted, they immediately establish common ground. It is this common ground which quickly develops rapport.

A “Target Rich Environment”

If you’re a target of bullying and you find it difficult to make friends, you can create a “target rich environment” for  yourself by staying among other targets.

I cannot say this enough- we develop the best friendships with those who resemble us the most. We’re attracted to people with the same desires and pursuits. If you can find common ground, developing a positive relationship will be a cake walk!

So, how do you know that there’s common ground before you even talk to the person?

You start by noticing how the person dresses. Are there any similarities? If the person is wearing a tee shirt with the logo or picture of a rock group you like, there’s shared interest. And if they only have a slight interest in the group, you, at least, share a love of rock and roll music.

What a person is doing also gives clues. Also, their posture also has many tells in it. For example, if a person is sitting at the lunch table alone, slumps in their chair, and doesn’t interact much with others, you know that they have low self-esteem. And low self-esteem comes from bullying and abuse. So, don’t be afraid to go over and talk to them. You just might be the friend they’re looking for!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C11-4

Back at Grandma Bennett’s house, Brielle grew afraid after hearing Jane’s last words before the call was disconnected.

“Jane, what’s going on! Jane! Jane!” Brielle cried before putting her cellphone down and cupping her face in her hands. Malcolm snaked his arm around her and held her as she cried.

Back at the hospital, Misty glared at Jane. Seeing the look on Misty’s face Jane froze with fright.

“How did anyone get this number!” Misty roared threateningly.

“I don’t know?” Jane replied defensively.

“You are not allowed any phone calls nor visitors!” she dominantly demanded, “This by order of the sheriff!”

“This is bullshit and you know it! You’re violating my rights! Surely, you’ve heard of Patient’s Rights!” Jane shot back.

“You’re a smart thang, aren’t you? But the thing is, you’re in county custody, so any rights are automatically revoked!” Misty snapped in a taunting voice.

“You’re full of shit!” Jane snapped back.

Misty pulled out a syringe.

“I’m going to give you something to calm you down a little” she said as she pulled the cover off the needle.

Jane noticed the cloudy, foamy liquid inside and her eyes nearly popped out of her head.

Cut Off!

“No way! I’m not letting you inject me with that! As a patient, I have the right to refuse treatment! County custody or not!” Jane objected.

Suddenly, the sheriff bursted into Jane’s room and stood over her. He glared down at her as he folded his arms across his broad chest.

“You will take this injection, little lady! Or I can think of a litany of other charges to pin on you! I might even make sure that you become a ward of the state and that you don’t see your family for a long time! And before you come back at me with, ‘Well, I’ll get out of juvie eventually,’ let me remind you that we have ways of putting you in situations that just might extend your stay whenever it is that your release date draws near. Shit has ways of happening, you know? Couple of inmates jump you, you fight back with your martial arts, maybe maim one of the inmates? You know, shit like that? Then we make you look like the instigator? Oooh, I bet that’ll go over really well with the system. I’d say it would extend your stay for about six months, maybe a few years.” Bobby taunted evilly, “Imagine being on the inside of juvie with absolutely no privileges. That means no visitors, no phone calls, no going outside for an hour- nothing! That’s an awful long time not to get to see your momma, your grandma, your little friends, Roxie Andretti and those other punk-losers, your boyfriend, and oh! And your sisters, especially that sweet little baby. Oh, now what’s her name? Oh, yes! Sweet little Kennedy?” 

Medical Tyranny

“You’re so creepy,” Jane told him.

“Oh, sweetheart. Do you really think I don’t get that all the time? You are one naïve little firecracker.” The sheriff continued in a voice dripping with arrogance and haughtiness, “Because, you see? We may not be able to take you physically, but we can take you psychologically. We can make your life a living hell. Believe me, honey! We’re well-practiced in the arts of psychological warfare! Physically, you, your mom, and your sister, Olivia could kick our asses all over the county. But psychologically and politically, we hold the power. And, we have guns, bigger guns than your family has! We could wipe all of you off the face of the earth if we had a good reason to, or even took a notion to!”

Suddenly, he leaned down and got nose to nose with Jane. His eyes blazed and face twisted in psychotic anger.

My Body but Not My Choice

“You will! Take! This injection!” He growled with a deeper voice that almost sounded demonic.

Misty stuck the needle in Jane’s upper arm and suddenly, the room began to spin, and her head and ears began buzzing. Any movement in the room began to look strange and she became so weak that her arms and legs felt weighted with cinder blocks.

The shot made Jane feel like a zombie. She couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, and couldn’t even think. The fog in her brain was so thick it was indescribable. Finally, everything faded to black.