Burn………Baby……….Burn

WARNING: The following presentation discusses a form of wood finishing which involves the use of an open flame, a torch to be more specific. Please be familiar with your particular device and read all cautions and warnings for said device. The Sting Of The Scorpion Blog nor myself will not be held responsible for any errors in your judgement. The information provided in this post is educational under the assumption that the person attempting this particular technique has a certain degree of common sense. Therefore, if YOU fuck it up YOU yourself is responsible for fucking it up, not me or this blog. One needs to be aware of the dangers involved when using an open flame. In the end, practice first, practice again, and be extremely fucking careful. Again, I will not be held responsible for YOUR errors or victories. The following information is based on my personal experience and knowledge. Got it?

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When I lived in Japan I was very lucky to have stumbled upon an older gentleman who was willing to teach me a wood finishing technique called Yaki-Matsu (burnt pine). Since then I have practiced and somewhat perfected my own personal version of this wood finishing technique. I cannot stress enough, seriously, that this can turn into a disaster in a blink of an eye since wood burns, but with a little practice one can tame the flame to make a very unique look on anything made of wood. Also, let me just state that I have 30 plus years experience in woodworking and cabinetry. Therefore, I hate to call this a DIY style post. My intent is to share a technique of wood finishing that others can try on small to large projects. Before you try any of this at home be sure you are aware of what you are doing and be responsible enough to know your personal limits and skills.

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In reality this post won’t be an all inclusive do it yourself post on how to burn the grain of the wood to get this special look. Basically, I’m just answering all the questions in advance since it might be hard to grasp the concept and design of my project personally. As one can see from the pictures, my project was to create an island space in a rustic nature to blend in with the cedar woodwork in my sister’s 100+ year old farm house. Also, before all of y’all self appointed experts try to get in my ass for not doing it your way just feel free to hold those opinions. Like any “tradition”, I have taken this technique and made it my own. Trust me, I’ve ruined more than one piece of wood over the years. As mentioned, my sister wanted something unique, not the typical look, not something out of the box, and something that had a ” wow factor”. Overall, it was a very tall order to fill, and not to mention that this has been a time consuming project to say the absolute very least. So let’s begin the highlight reel.

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Where y’all see an island used to be a wall with a pass through hole in it. First step, demo the wall and support the second floor. Then to create bar height seating as well as an island that is kitchen counter height. The secondary purpose of the island was for storage. Once the construction portion was complete it was time to talk finishing it all off. I chose to “antique” and distress everything except for the two cedar posts and the actual counter and bar surfaces. Antiquing this much area, to include the ceiling features took a great deal of time. I remind everyone that everything you see was created, from the tongue and groove beaded boards to all the trim, the cabinet doors, and so forth. I left my treatment of the top a secret, a surprise that was either going to make or break this project. By now I can assume that many of y’all have Googled the term “Yaki-Matsu” so I can simply tell y’all it is a technique in which the grain of the wood is kissed with the open flame of a torch. I chose this instead of staining or leaving it natural because of its true uniqueness, as no two boards look the same. When the time came to mount the wood I used square headed barn nails that I liberated from a 147 year old barn we tore down last summer. Yes, I have hundreds and hundreds of feet of barn lumber and no it is not for sale. At the time of these pictures I had not applied the varathane yet. After burning the one all that needs to be done is rubbing the wood down with a dry, clean, soft cloth.

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I will post more pictures when I’m 100% done. Hell, the purpose of this post was to let some concerned individuals know what I’ve been up to because they think I have quit blogging or that I’m dead. So far I have around 200 hours invested into it, I probably have at least 20 to go. Just know this, as a final warning, one will come across occasions when using the torch in the house becomes necessary to touch up edges and so forth, remember that most things in our houses don’t react well with open flames, I’m just saying. I guess as I look back over what has been written I can see this wasn’t much of a tutorial at all, which is fitting because I such giving instructions for the most part. If nothing else maybe y’all learned that there is yet another way to beautifully treat wood without stain or paint. I suppose, in the end, I’ll just share some pictures with y’all and call it good.

Penetration Before Detonation

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Going along the line of my last post about boxes full of my Air Force and AMMO shit that my wife got ahold of, I decided that my last post merely scratched the surface of a few topics that I finally decided to discuss. If you didn’t read We Live So Others May Die then this may seem pretty random and might not make total sense, but then again that can be said for most of the shit I write anyway. I had left out my jacket from the last story, I think I got sidetracked or something. But, the jacket pictured is a big part in ways of expressing and explaining how I’ve changed over the last 15 years since getting out of the Air Force. How so? In many ways one might say I matured, maybe grew up is better, since I was 32 at the time of exiting. The things that were my life and priorities were very different only a week later, no more eating all things dangerous for breakfast and shitting tiffany bullets by dinner, providing the enemy the opportunity to die for his country was no longer printed on my business cards. Overnight my life as I knew it was upside down, it was a disaster and a hard first few weeks, and slowly the stress of that job faded.

But let’s go back first, way back. My dad was a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant before I was born in 68. It wasn’t until my teen years that he began to open up to me about his military career. The thing that used to intrigue me the most about his career was him telling me, in a joking manner, that Uncle Sam used to pay him to blow shit up, and I thought that he had to have had the best job known to man. My mind was made up, I was joining the Air Force and do what he did. However, by the time it was time certain jobs had been retired and new ones created. Let history show that I chose to be a 461. Now, we all have heard that Air Force basic training is relatively easy, right? Right. I won’t lie, it was easy. I think it’s easy because they’re not really training “soldiers” or “badasses” by definition, they’re teaching military service as a way of life, like summer camp but with better weapons, because they know one is in the air force to do things on the more technical side. Blah, blah, blah, it was a breeze. Technical school for the 461 was a crash course in how not to end up dead, full of many technical terms, safety, and how one must absolutely positively respect explosives or they simply put your dog tags in an envelope to mail to your next of kin because typically that’s all one can expect to be remaining. All that being said, it stuck with me always, respect. And sure enough I got out with all ten fingers and toes and everything in the middle. I paid the price tho, I drank the kool-aid, I started believing the propaganda as the everloving truth, I would preach it all like the gospel itself. Later in my career I had my wake up call, and at that point I was no longer able to be detached from the horrors of what I helped create.

I wore this jacket everywhere, I wore it with absolute pride knowing if I did my job properly then without prejudice those weapons would function as designed. I mean think about it, without explosives the Air Force is just the world’s largest airline which was even more lore and propaganda, I had a head full of it, it was pounded in until my sweat glands weeped it all back out, it was like the victory lap after being full circle for hundreds of miles yet never going anywhere. It’s a beautiful plan. And just to think that the general population of the United States of America is opposed to the waterboarding of our enemies but it’s OK to brainwash our sons and daughters in the military because we must make stronger soldiers. Bullshit. They break you down and then build the you they think you should be, fuck the real you, the real you is DOA once you sign the dotted line. My whole career was just a dangerous game, I got to dance with the devil and sleep with his daughters all in the name of democracy and the American way. I know this sounds bitter and sarcastic, I’m not trying to, because I actually really loved being in the Air Force. As my jacket reads, I even advertised our services for free every moment I wasn’t in uniform.

Back to present day, this jacket was neatly folded laying on top of everything else in the box, resting for eternity, or so I thought, until I see it has been resurrected. But the emotion I had was not anger for digging up my skeletons, it was a smile and surprise. As soon as I said I would not be wearing it, simply because I had a growth spurt in my mid 30s, my son volunteers to be its proud new owner. Way wrong fucking answer boy, it will never happen. First of all, it is not appropriate to wear to school, I don’t care if he is in the AFJROTC in high school, I really don’t. Sure, it would be cool for him to show off, but all the perverts would find some way of making it a sexual statement. Just say it to yourself and imagine all the meanings. Of course, very few know it is the calling card and slogan for my favorite weapon of all, the BLU-109. Yes, I had a fantastic favorite, seems weird now, stop making it weird people. Plus, its not his “game” to play with people. I can back my shit up, he cannot. Yes, I can remember wanting to wear my father’s uniforms and so forth so I do get the psychology. But the responsible dad part of me just says no to it altogether.

Damn, of course, this story, this little piece of personal history, has gone in so many directions. Oh well, maybe some of y’all get it, and I cannot help the rest of y’all. This reminds me of so much more, I hope this doesn’t constitute violating the terms I signed when I got out, you know the form, don’t ever talk about your job from this day forward or go to federal prison. I knew I would crack one day, I just never knew when. So, until next time boys and girls, remember to eat it every day!

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I Was Walking In A Circle

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I realized that my feet felt as if they weighed a ton a piece, looking down I see that I’m wading through a foot of thick mud, going towards what appeared to be the direction I was drawn to head. The closer it seemed I would get to my destination I would notice the distance increase. I was carrying a bag which seemed to get heavier by the step, I wonder what I could be carrying that could weigh so much, I wanted to open the bag but in the darkness I don’t know how I would see inside. Hearing the loud crashes of thunder I wanted to move faster, I wanted to find shelter, as I watched the flashes of lightning in the distance I wanted to get away from the tall trees, but the flashes got brighter and the thickness of trees only increased, the more I pushed the more trees I can see. Hours seem to pass before my surroundings begin to seem familiar, I’ve been here before, and before that I was here also, but where is here, why do I keep coming back, I keep finding the same path, leading me to the same damn place, I’ve been here but this place is not familiar, it’s darkness reminds me of having my eyes closed, unable to see, only being able to hear, to feel, and smell the rot in the humid air. What is that familiar smell, why do I know the soothing scent, it is pleasing to me, it makes me feel secure in a place I should know but don’t recognize. As I rest I feel each drop of the rain touch my face, rolling down the skin like warm tears. In my mind I hear Freebird, it’s loud and I hear it echo in the trees, I need to start moving now, I need to get to a safer place, this place smells of death, it smells of rotting corpses, there are thousands of them. As the light of day breaks I can see the bodies I’m walking on, wading through like mud, the blood is over the top of my boots, it’s weight is increasing with every step, I look down and see the faces, faces that didn’t see what had killed them, I know what killed them, I know what the thunder is, I know the lightning flashes, I know what has happened.

As I sit in my recliner with my eyes closed shut, telling my wife for the first time ever what it was like to see the destruction as a result of what I did while in the Air Force. The reality of it is that it isn’t a forest, it is a desert, it is a place I never want to return to, and rarely, if never, talk about it. I’ve been married for 16 years, to a wife that came along after the Air Force, she just doesn’t want to understand, and I’m okay with that. The mere fact that I’m writing about it amazes me, it still hurts, it is still fresh when I close my eyes, and I fear there are not enough pleasant memories ahead to knock it the fuck out. I spent years detached from the reality that the weapons I helped build destroyed life and property, it wasn’t me pulling the trigger, it wasn’t me hitting the target, but a simple walk down a deserted street after a carpet bombing the night before let reality set in, no longer was I detached, no longer was I innocent, and I knew then changes needed to happen or I would lose my mind. Like a good soldier I pressed forward, putting behind me horrors that cannot be unseen or forgotten. What gets seen cannot be unseen, unfortunately it is very true. My wife wants me to talk to a headshrinker, I opted out. And now I see, once again, talking about it isn’t worth a fuck, I just leave more out each time. I hope that in time, preferably before my wife has me cremated, that I just forgot about the shit and everyone else forgets it as well.

When I talk about Desert Storm and later The Liberation of Kuwait it is to educate myself and others about how the real world is, beyond the news, beyond the media, beyond what the politicians think they know. There is zero reasons I should feel guilty for being a part of the machine which is called the military. I took responsibility for my personal contributions while in the Air Force, I do not blame others, there was no gun to my head, I served, fuck it, I’m a proud veteran, I can’t ever take it back. Some of y’all understand my pain, the rest of all will never have a fucking clue, y’all are the lucky ones, the innocent ones, the ones who close their eyes without fear. Anyway, to my wife who is reading this post, I hope this has helped you, at least a little. I never asked to be anyone’s hero, I never asked for people to thank me, I never asked for people to want to take a picture with me if they find out I’m a disabled veteran, I just joined the Air Force because I wanted to serve my country because I thought I could and would make a difference. But, I can’t fix stupid and stupid wanted a robot who didn’t care, that person is not me.

Before I go, let me tell you about the one and only time my ex-wife was able to pry out of me what I didn’t want open. Y’all see, she was studying to become a sociologist and well on her way to being a social worker, she thought we could talk about it, that I would be comfortable knowing that she, of all people, would not pass judgment. When I was done talking she was in tears, she was appalled that I was part of the organization which promotes peace through the use of violence, she told me she was ashamed to be in the same room with me, ashamed to share a last name with me in marriage, and that one day I will pay for my sins of being a baby killer in the deepest, darkest parts of hell, a place reserved for rapists and paedophiles. At first I believed she was right, it matches how I feel, but soon I realized that I am a simple person who was not looking for redemption or forgiveness, I wasn’t even looking for understanding, I just wanted to know if the words I would speak would or could sound like the thoughts in my head or the memories I have or how I feel deep down in that part of me nobody gets to witness, ever. Shit goes there to be buried and forgotten, it takes time to dig it up, nobody quite understands that, scratch that, some do understand, those are the people who don’t have physical scarring but are somewhat fucked in every other way, we know what each other are thinking, not even we understand so we don’t expect others to either. We don’t look for eyes or words if pity, we do appreciate it when others respect us enough as human beings just to let things be.

My wife hugged me, long and tight, not a word spoken, with tears down her face, she told me I’m home, I’m with people whom I love and that love me, support me, and care about me. That was the best hug I have had to this day in my life, a memory I will forever cherish. My message to my wife and to my son who will read this post later is that life happens every minute of every day, take time to see the scenery, smell the rain in the distance, we only have one shot at this life so we better live it to the fullest. My daughters give me their support as well, still I wonder if they really understand or if I just get the nod. This, unless something snaps again, will probably be the last time I discuss any of this on a personal level, this shit sucks to remember, to relive, and to talk about. Some call blogging “therapy”, and it is, but not today, today is more like anger management for me. Remember, no pictures please, ever, for any reason.

The Ghost Of Halloween’s Past

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When I was a kid around 7 or 8 I had a really great friend. As we got into our early teens we were very close, and now looking back I realize just how close. She was the person I talked to about anything and everything, I even talked to her about girls and she talked to me about the boys. We had that real close cousin type of friendship even though there was no blood relationship, but we were more than friends, our connection went deeper than that, much deeper than one can simply imagine. So, in “honor” of my great friend in life I would like to share some memories, I hope she wouldn’t mind.

The first time I met Gabby I was probably 7 or 8 years old, I was spying on the new girl on the block as she helped her parents unpack the moving truck and I was truly fascinated with everything about her. I was up high in the tree in our front yard, as quiet as a hawk searching for movement in the tall grass, as I watched her blonde hair whip around in the breeze. I got distracted for real and was watching two squirrels fighting over something at the end of the very branch I was laying on. Out of the blue I heard a quiet voice, the whispering voice of a girl asking me if I wanted to climb down so I could play with her. After I climbed down we walked back to the bayou where we caught and played with the crawdads that were everywhere. We didn’t talk much about anything, we just got muddy, laughed, and played. Later on we hear her dad calling out in the distance for Gabby to come home. With big eyes she stole a kiss on the cheek, told me thanks for playing with her, and she was gone into the wind. We would play like this, for hours at a time after school and on the weekends.

We went trick-or-treating together that first year she moved in and that became our “little tradition” for many years to come. We would do crazy shit all year long, pranks, jokes, and so on, always doing it together as much as time would allow. In our early teens our friendship took a turn to the best I think, I never heard her complain either, she noticeably was going from little girl to a young lady. As this happened, we played allot of show and tell and allot of spin the bottle and a fair share of truth or dare, always just us two, nobody else was allowed to participate. It’s just the way it was. Before long we knew more about one another than each other knew about themselves, inside and out. But this was all about to end, I was moving away the summer between 8th and 9th grade to live with my dad in another state. It was a surprise and crushing blow for all of us, family included, as everyone guessed us to start dating because we were inseparable at all times. That was a hard summer for me, I crashed an ultralight aircraft attempting to get my amateur aviation license which should have killed me, but it didn’t luckily. Unfortunately, on my final trip back home at the end of summer, to pack and say goodbye, I was given the terrible news that my dad had a fatal accident while participating in a exposition air show. I buried him a week later. All my plans died with him that day, but the only person I felt I could talk with or just sit with was my best friend Gabby.

High school started right on cue, we had unofficially started dating, meaning we did everything together but weren’t actually together, but everyone but us called it dating, we are just good friends. By our sophomore year the boys were really noticing her and time in our friendship was being stretched beyond control, something had to go, and that something just happened to be me. She dated many boys, I didn’t really have a serious relationship until 11th grade which made our friendship even stranger. In the beginning of that relationship Gabby played dirty, in my spare time she was there, flirting harder than ever, always naked around me when we were alone, always tempting me with the very thing I always thought I wanted, but it never happened, but according to her rumors we were together, we were fucking, and I was taken. A nice story that ended badly. We didn’t speak again until the night of our graduation, where she told me she was leaving soon to go to Air Force basic training, a place I was also going to be but got accepted into college so my enlistment was delayed 24 months. That was it, my first crush was leaving and I didn’t have the nuts to even tell her goodbye or I’m sorry or good luck, I just let her walk away.

I did attend college, I did get married to my high school sweetheart a year later, and did join the Air Force another year later. When all the dust settled and I land at my first base, I find out my sponsor just so happens to be little miss Gabby herself. I had four years to do in Japan, luckily she was leaving in a few months. We partied quite a bit before she left, a habit greatly practiced by ammo troops I soon found out. Yes, if hadn’t guessed, we had the same job, both making the choice we decided way back when in yesteryear. Soon enough she left, leaving me once again. I saw her again, sooner than I thought, as we both were deployed for Desert Storm and were stationed at the same base. It made 8 months fly by, having a friend from home with me. But soon enough we rotated out to our home bases and once again we were separated again. I would see her off and on for the next few years until we ended up in New Mexico together. She had gotten married to a true asshole, I say that because he thought it was okay to beat on her regularly. A disturbing fact that was brought out to my attention one early morning when she showed up in my doorstep with a bloody nose and bleeding lip. That night a few of my friends and I payed him a visit, never before had I tried to kill someone before, but I tried that night. He got the message and slipped away quietly one day soon after, leaving a note announcing he wants a divorce.

Life went on, I divorced my wife, got out the Air Force, and so forth. Meanwhile, Gabby was determined to make a career out of the Air Force, and carried on, gaining rank, ribbons, and accommodations. After two back to back tours in Afghanistan she decided she was done, she retired as a Senior Master Sergeant (E-8) which I had an invitation to the ceremony but had other obligations, so no, I did not attend. I got a phone call from Gabby a few weeks later, announcing she had moved back to Houston and wanted to get together with my family and I for dinner one night soon. My current wife knew very little of Gabby and our lifelong friendship, since I never had a need to talk about my past much, something I’ve been working on lately, and my wife is now realizing that I treat my relationships, friends or family, and with her, very seriously, and I will guard those relationships until the end. She gets it, I think.

Our dinner out was great, everyone including my wife and kids, had a great time talking and visiting. I think my wife looks at me differently now, she never has had anyone explain how my life in the Air Force was except for me, and I tend to not talk much about the details, just keep it short and sweet, the end, story over. That dinner was two years ago, on Halloween night, a night not unlike many before it, we said our goodbyes, made future plans, and we went our separate ways. After getting settled at home, about an hour and a half after leaving the restaurant, I got a phone call from the Constable’s office to inform me that an officer was heading my way to discuss an important matter with me. Soon enough we got the knock on the door, the officer was there to inform me of a fatal automobile accident a few hours ago. Seems I was listed as Gabby’s only next of kin and also the last person she spoke with according to her phone. He explained that a truck traveling the opposite direction hit a deer which resulted in the truck losing control and colliding head on with Gabby’s truck at what was estimated at at least 80 mph, resulting in both being killed at impact. The following day I was asked to formally identify her body and yes it was her. She had a closed casket funeral due to the facial and upper body damage. A very small funeral at the Veteran’s Cemetery here in Houston, most of the people attending were my family. Her flag was presented to me, probably the hardest thing I accepted in life with exception to being 15 and presented my father’s flag at his funeral.

I have bad news for my wife, who recommended I tell this story here today in my spare time, who thought it might make me feel better if I take the time to write about my great friend and our enduring friendship, who is wrong because I don’t feel better, but I did enjoy the trip down memory lane, sort of, but I think I should come clean to y’all, the story y’all read today is only about 1% of everything that ever happened. For now y’all can assume and presume, for now y’all can filter through it all, because for now I’m very done writing about it. In case you are curious, the picture is of Gabby, I took that picture in an undisclosed location in a desert in New Mexico many years ago, alongside a deserted road, she wanted to flash somebody so bad, but after hours just the scorpions, the buzzards, and I were the only ones enjoying the show. It’s a great picture and memory of her, she truly was a graceful and free spirit.

A Tale Of Twists And Some Glitter

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I was very surprised to get a phone call from a long time friend who was calling to invite me over to his house to see his new truck. Having nothing to do in my own life I decided to go check it out for shits and giggles. I pulled into his driveway and only saw the cars that are normally parked in his driveway. I guess he saw me pull up because he hurriedly came our the front door and I was told to just shut up and follow him to his shop. I was just as disappointed at the shop because I still wasn’t looking at a new truck! He had this look on his face, the look I imagine a person would have on their face if they just killed someone and needed help burying the body, which is odd because he can’t even kill a tiny spider, but he had that deranged look nevertheless. He begins to tell me this story that, when he was done I asked if I could tell to a few of my friends, is pretty strange even by my standards. Before I retell his story let me give you a little background on my friend, we’ll call him Rick, and his son who we’ll call Jr. I have known Rick, his ex-wife, and his son since I met them all in the early 90s when I lived in Japan. His son is the same age of my oldest daughter, 25. Ever since 1999 Rick has lived the life of a single father, working and raising his son were his two top priorities in life. He never dated until his son was 19 and in the Air Force out seeing the world. I had introduced him to a few single moms over the years but he seemed to like the ones that were his son’s age instead, they partied better is what he’d say. After six years his son returned home, where he still lives today so he can help his dad out the best he can. So, anyway, let’s start with his story because it gets fucking weird fast.

About six months ago Rick met a woman in her early 20s who works at a strip club I used to bartend at, life was great, the sex was great, and they were even talking wedding bells. They were the perfect couple he thought. This last weekend his son had a big date, he was going to be proposing to his girlfriend after she got off work, but he decided to go early to surprise her. Rick, bored, decided to head to the strip club and drop in on his future wife, have a few drinks, and catch the end of the game he was missing. When he walked in he noticed his son talking with Amanda (Rick’s future bride). She didn’t notice Rick as she headed up on stage behind the bright lights. Rick sat down next to his son and asked why he wasn’t out on his important date. Rick also explained that the young lady he was talking to was who he’d been dating and that he came down to surprise her. Rick laughed a bit, telling his son they have similar tastes in woman. But Jr wasn’t laughing, Jr looked horrified, and Jr was looking a little pissed off.

The short version of the conversation had was the both figured out they were dating and having sex with the same woman, with both having plans of marriage with her, and now the truth was out, kinda. Needing a drink, father and son settled at the bar where another stripper began talking to them, not about herself or the special of the day, but Amanda. She said they were both wasting there time as they both were led to look to the door, where they saw Amanda’s real husband, a huge man, 6’11, 320# easy, and one solid muscle from head to toe. Both father and son were compelled to question Amanda and when they did everything was confirmed. She invited them to tell her husband that they had been fucking her right under his nose but said it may not end well for either of them. They just left, in separate vehicles, meeting up once again at home. Neither one has said another word about Amanda in a few days, Rick thinks it will always be that way.

Luckily for Rick, I know the muscle bound mass and Amanda, who are married, and that he really didn’t want to pick a fight with someone now on parole who almost killed a man because he got a $100 lap dance from his wife but only was going to pay her a single dollar. So telling him that he and his son have been banging his wife probably wouldn’t go over very well. I wish people would talk to me before dating the strippers that work at the same club I worked at, because there are nice strippers and then there is Amanda. Anyway, Rick can’t get over the fact that he used to kiss the same mouth that would have his son’s dick in it. The least of his worries I assured him, just wonder what your son is thinking. Well, after the talk we went out back, lit a big fire, and the four of us (my wife joined us) got shitfaced in the drizzling rain to pass the night away. When it was time to go, we watched father and son hug it out, I think they’re going to be okay. They may need some therapy, but I think they will be just fine in the end.

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Does This Information Help Y’all?

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