Liquor Store Stories: The Three Marks

Liquor Store Stories Downsized

It was a lonely night on the main drag of a very small town.
The electric signs were the cheeriest things around. Since it
was Friday night I had another liquor store clerk working with
me. I was at the beginning of the night shift with my partner
for the night. He was a young, black guy named Mark who I
had gone to high school with. Another clerk had come by to
pick up his weekly paycheck. His name was Mark, also. I was
in the back room loading liquor bottles into a shopping cart to
take out front and stock on the shelves.

Suddenly the clerk who had come to pick up his paycheck
came to the door and said, “Mark, get out here quick!” I was
the sort of unofficial, night manager there at the time. I had no
idea what was going on but I guessed it was one of those times
I would have to take responsibility for what happened. No one
had ever said to me, “Get out here quick!” like that before. I
followed Mark to the front of the store. He was already
standing outside on the other side of the other Mark. With me
on the right end we formed a line of three young men in front
of the liquor store.

Standing in front of us was a line of three other individuals
and an old pick-up truck. The three young men all had blonde,
short hair. All three wore faded straight leg, blue jeans and
white tee shirts. They were suntanned and muscular like
construction workers. I looked at the Mark I had gone to high
school with, standing next to me. Mark was wearing a tight,
dark colored, double knit shirt. He always had a naturally
round, chubby face but he was in good shape and very
muscular himself. His muscles were bristling but he was
facing three, burly guys. Probably as far as he was sure of it
was his own fight. He was visibly scared but every muscle of
his body was twitching. He was ready to fight for his life.

I looked over at the other Mark. He was a young, white guy
with brown hair. He was calm and stood steadfast. He had his
hands in the pockets of his windbreaker jacket. This Mark was
not a big guy. He was about my size. However in his full time
job in the Air Force he was with the military police. He just
had a desk job though but he was one of those guys who just
wanted to be a cop. He didn’t like just having a desk job.

The question mark was with me. I’m a smaller guy but as I
looked over at Mark with his muscles twitching and I looked at
the other Mark who was calm and steadfast I realized it didn’t
matter. Just the fact that there were three of them and three of
us was enough. The black Mark in his anger and fear was the
really scary one among us. I stood there with my hands in my
windbreaker pockets in line with the others facing these
irrational, young men. I mainly just felt a sense of sadness. I
recognized these young men as boys I had seen in high school.
They always walked around together in a group. I felt sad that
this had to be happening. It was like something that I knew
existed, that I had heard about or read about but never expected
to see. Who could believe this was actually happening? But it
was real.

I looked at the young men in front of us. Their hands were
at their sides with fingers curling as if to make fists, then
relaxing and curling. Then they relaxed their fingers again as
they noticed that I was watching their hands. The large
muscles of their arms were twitching. I looked over my left
shoulder and glanced at the large, plate glass of the storefront
behind us. This was my main concern. I imagined if this
really turned into a fight the danger of the glass shattering and
cutting us.

Now that there were three of us standing side by side things
were different. They actually started to back down. They
started to head for their old, primer gray, pickup truck. We all
automatically started going back into the store. When we went
inside I automatically started to go back to work stocking
liquor bottles.

We heard the sound of the truck starting up. Soon the truck
was driving slowly past the open, front door. One of the guys
yelled, “You’re all a bunch of nigger lovers!” which wasn’t
very insulting to any of us actually since we had nothing
against black people. It was sad to hear the n word though.
The truck roared off into the night.

I brought the shopping cart from the back of the store and
proceeded to stock the bottles. The black Mark started helping
me stock liquor on the shelves. Soon we were all joking and
laughing as if nothing had happened. The other Mark said
goodbye and left with his paycheck. We finished out the night
shift and locked up the store. As far as I know no one has ever
mentioned the experience since.

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US Army Chaplain Resigns in Protest of US Policies



Christopher Antal

[Ed. note – Below is an article about the resignation of Christopher John Antal as a chaplain in the US Army that ran at on May 16, 2016. Beneath that is Antal’s actual letter of resignation, dated April 12, 2016, and which is addressed to the “Commander in Chief, The White House.” Remarked a friend of mine who fowarded all this to me earlier today, It’s good to know that “not everyone is psychotic.” ]

By Bryant Jordan

A Unitarian Universalist Church minister and U.S. Army chaplain who served in Afghanistan has submitted his resignation in protest over the military’s use of drone warfare and decision to place nuclear warheads on air-launched cruise missiles.

In an April 12 letter to President Barack Obama, Rev. Christopher John Antal of New York said the White House

“continues to claim the right…

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Catholic School Stories: First Holy Communion


I started school in first grade. Kindergarten was not
required in those days. I was still five. It was then that I had
my first big crush. Her name was Theresa. She had pale,
blonde hair and fair skin. She was so beautiful I couldn’t stop
looking at her.

I was considered to be the smartest boy in the class. She
was considered to be the smartest girl. I was, also, the smallest
boy in the class. She was the smallest girl. Consequently
when we had to march in single file to go somewhere else in
the school or to the church we were first in each of the lines
with the boys in the left line and the girls in the right line. The
smallest to the tallest in each line and so we always held hands.
I must admit I loved to hold her hand. She didn’t seem to mind
holding mine although she seemed a little embarrassed and she
smiled coyly. I was glad. I loved to walk beside her through
the breezeways of St. John The Evangelist School.

In the second grade we started to study for our first holy
communion. Our parents had to buy us boys a little, blue, clip
on tie to wear. The boys got a package with a black prayer
book. It had a cover that held a rosary. The girls got a white
prayer book and rosary.

On the day of the first holy communion I was the first in the
line of boys on the left side of the center aisle. Theresa was the
first in the line of girls on the right side. We marched slowly as
we were taught with our hands pressed flat together, fingers
pointed straight up in prayer on our way to the altar. When we
got to the altar the boys knelt down at the altar in a line to the
left. The girls knelt down in a line to the right. Since I and
Theresa were at the front of the line we were the only boy and
girl kneeling down at the altar next to each other.

I couldn’t stop turning to my right to look at her. Her hands
were on the altar pressed together in prayer. She had a circle
of white lace, bobby pinned on top of her beautiful, blonde
hair. She looked so beautiful in her white, communion dress.
She looked straight ahead with a rhapsodic look in her eyes. I
thought I saw just a trace of a smile on her dainty face. Two
priests came to us to give each of us the host. Altar boys held
gold patens under our chins while each priest took a host from
their gold chalices to place the hosts on our tongues. They said,
“The Body of Christ” and we both said, “Amen”.


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