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In the Kingdom of Double Crosses


Went south. I-95’d and I-85’d to help sister Laura arrange the furniture in the Chapel Hill house Erma had not seen yet.  Traveled north with one of my children, then back on the road again with him to North Carolina.

Regardless of location, I keyboard a path to Google News for a looksee (in the interest of research) at “Top Stories.” Among this morning’s, as I write, are Black hole, Lindsay Lohan, Mike Tyson, Powerball, Mobile technology, Demi Moore, and Sexual Health.

I don’t watch that tubed-in, flat-screened corporate emoting, mainstream, fictionalized news and entertainment, actors interviewing entertainers, and entertainers interviewing actors, unless I’m staying with someone or some two who remote to CNN or MSNBC for background noise during happy or sad hour. I speak of Laura and Erma here, whose new place safe havened me both trips south.

Late evenings, we, the Sisterhood, watched Netflix episodes of Lie to Me. Those who know me well get the significance of this title. Those who don’t will understand the obvious.

Nighttime, in bed with my laptop, I checked Facebook scenery for articles posted by people I admire. Articles about the dead in Gaza.  Articles with images of children–children wrapped in blood-soaked blankets. An article about Bradley Manning. And a video addressing the hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy with this statement from Barack Obama:  “There’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.”

We know the propaganda of American exceptionalism. We really don’t have to scrutinize the mannerisms of politicians, Pentagon officials, any warmonger, even those who call themselves “progressive.” We require no knowledge of microexpressions or the Facial Action Coding System to detect the cool, smooth, polished narcissism of a liar.

We lie to ourselves when we refuse to admit we know.

I saw a Facebook “status”—calling for Israel to be blown off the face of the map, a statement so violent I gasped.

And Bradley Manning: I’ve seen him, sat behind him at one of his hearings, this man who acted on conscience to reveal torture, imprisoned now over two years, subjected to inhuman, degrading treatment. Some have called it “harsh,” this adjective that fails to describe what Manning has endured. Like the military term collateral damage, words combined to camouflage murder.

Returning to Baltimore last Saturday, I noticed the exit for Quantico—Quantico, where Manning was locked naked in a 6-foot-by-8-foot cell 23 hours a day. I also saw the USMC Museum, its Intrusive penetration of the sky a giant phallic symbol, a huge f**k you to the serenity of cumulous clouds.

So much on my mind as I drove by myself.

I confess to loving a road trip. Especially with one or both of my children. With Laura and Erma. Or alone—for miles, listening to whatever I find on the radio. But mostly, I like thinking my thoughts, observing all the exteriors that trigger interiors. I saw flocks of birds shift in flight—synchronized flying, like ocean waves lapping, like water rushing and rippling through leaves during a storm, all that synchronicity and, yes, my emotions, falling, rising, falling, rising.

And finally I turned into the entrance of the Kingdom of Double Crosses, this place I call home, despite the tangled weaving of webs, happy to be here, content to walk into my kitchen, my bedroom, everything familiar.

But when I felt the softness of my pillow, I saw the seen-ery of drones, the roads strewn with bodies and body parts, the children.  Beneath my eyelids were unsightly “seens.”

Finally, I found my own small peace by returning to that graphic of birds, little ballerinas, their synchronized dancing across a sky-blue stage.

Missy Beattie is in motion.  Email:


Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

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