The Career Man – Part 3

As Carrie drove off from the airport, she was crushed. She thought John would change his mind and say he would be back in a couple of weeks, but it didn’t happen. On her way back home, she thought about what the future held for her. Could she really face the future without John?

She didn’t know if she could wait six months to talk to John but knew this is what he wanted. But in six months she’d talk to him again and then maybe she could tell him them. Or, if he saw her in six months, he’d know what she needed to tell him. He’d know just how much she needed him over the past few months and just maybe, he would then stay. Many changes were coming in her life and she had nobody to help her, she thought.

The change Carrie knew was coming started about two months prior on a trip with John. They had gone on a tirp to a remote island in the Pacific and they had a weekend of what seemed to be never ending love. They had not done this to this point in their relationship but with the beach in the background, they couldn’t help it. They had finally realized their love for each other and this beautiful moment was now more than that. It was a moment of change and Carrie didn’t feel she was ready now that John had left.

That weekend Carrie had gotten pregnant and now she was all alone being the care taker for her parents and for a baby that was due in just a few months. She really wanted to tell John but didn’t want to push him into a corner and make him feel as if he had to give up his dreams to tend to a family. She knew he would stay if he knew a baby was coming but she did not want that to be the reason he stayed. He needed to go and spread his wings and in a few months, maybe things would be so they could be together again.

Carrie loved John but just didn’t know what to think. She was beginnning to see a side of John she didn’t know was there. This man who she had fallen in love with was more in love with his career than her in her mind and just didn’t understand why he felt the need to try to advance rather than find something else. Even if it were with another company and starting over. She felt they were going to have to start all over in six months but she was trying to force herself to understand his reasoning. She hurt badly but told herself she understood. She was also happy with her career but knew she would have to change companies now because it would get back to John about her being pregnant.

Carrie had never started over but now she would. A new job, a baby on the way and her parents health badly diminishing. Carrie was lost in it all but knew things would get better. Or just hoped it would get better. Time heals all pain she thought and she wondered on her way back home what John was thinking on his flight home. Was he sad? Did he cry at all? Does he have a clue about her being pregnant? Could he go six months without her? Will he be back? And finally, does he really love her?

These thoughts went through her head and she couldn’t help but think her phone might ring and it be John asking her to come back and pick him up. But it didn’t happen. John boarded his Continental flight back to New York and was ready to face the next six months.

All he knew was he had left her heart broken and he would be back and things would be alright. But John had no idea what would happen once he arrived back in New York. His life was about to take a huge change and it would impact him forever.

To be continued…

The Career Man – Part 2

As Carrie drove John to the airport, there was complete silence. No talking about their decision and a bit of nervousness in both of them. They had fallen in love with each other but for now they have decided to put things on hold until something changed.

This decision was extremely tough but it was the one John thought was best. He really wanted to move to Houston, get married and start a family but didn’t see a way to make it work with his career. He was determined to make his career his main priority until he felt it time to make a change and until he felt he could find a job he thought fit him in Houston. He knew this was risky but John had always been a risk taker. And had never thought he would ever miss on a risk, especially this one.

Carrie on the other hand was hurt. Almost to the point of destroyed. She really thought John would rather start a family than a career and she was beginning to think if she really knew him at all. She had to stay in Houston to take care of her parents and there was no way she would move to New York with them still in Houston.

This decision was made and now both of them were rethinking what they, mainly John, thought was best. But in the end, John was ready to board a flight and not see Carrie for a while. It might be hard but he thought if he worked enough, it would ease his mind.

As they pulled up to the airport, John looked at Carrie and broke the silence. “I still love you Carrie, I just think this is the best way right now.” As Carrie looked into his eyes, she began crying and couldn’t say anything. She was crushed and just wanted him to get out of the car. She couldn’t look at him any longer.

There was more she wanted to say but couldn’t at this time. She had to let John go because she felt if she asked him to stay there would always be regret and it would hinder their relationship. John opened the car door and as he began to get out, he leaned over, gave her a kiss and said “I love you Carrie.” Carrie sat in cold silence, crying and wiping her eyes. As John shut the door to her car, a crying Carrie whispered, “I love you too John but you have no idea what the future holds for us.”

To be continued….

The Career Man

As John rolled out of bed and headed to get ready for the day, he couldn’t help but wonder if  this was it. It was not a typical Saturday for John but one that he had to get ready for anyway. As he stared at himself in the mirror waiting on the shower to heat up, he just couldn’t help but think about the past and future. But today was the day most on his mind and John wondered if he had done enough.

John was your typical high school student who played sports, studied and couldn’t help but get ready for the future. He was raised by his parents to be respectful and to prepare himself to take care of his family, no matter what the cost.

John saw his dad work 2 jobs at times and saw his mom clean houses and work other jobs to help pay the bills. This is what he did not want for his family so after high school, John attended college to prepare for his future career. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life but he was very smart and knew he could do anything. His life was on track and he was on track to graduate with his M.B.A. in only 5 years.

Upon graduation, John found a job that he knew would suit him best. He took a job with a consulting firm that promised to have plenty of room for advancement. Nothing had ever gotten in John’s way to his future once he set his mind on a career. He made it through high school in the top 10% of his class and finished college with an honors degree. John was sought after by many top American companies and he soon took a job with U.S. Consulting. They were young, energetic and ready to make a top executive out of John. John loved his job and worked hard as a 23 year old up and coming junior executive. He made it to where he wanted to be and was now set on his career, no matter what the cost.

John’s career was booming and on a business trip, his life would change forever. While in Atlanta for a conference, John met a “rookie” with U.S. Consulting named Carrie. She reminded him of someone from his past and was excited to see someone as excited about their career as him.

But what John didn’t see was a fire burning inside him and Carrie. At first it seemed to just be about business but soon, their relationship would turn to much more. But a couple of problems existed. He lived in New York and she was in Houston. And according to their company, they couldn’t get married and work together.

They talked about what to do and it just didn’t seem they could get something worked out. Carrie was alright with giving up her job but couldn’t move to New York because she was the caretaker for her parents. John didn’t want to give up his career but the company didn’t have a place for him in Houston. What to do was killing both of them because so badly they wanted to start a life together. But they just didn’t see a way, unless John was to quit and find a job in Houston. But after looking around at many companies in the Houston area, John just couldn’t find a job.

As they discussed it over a long weekend together, they finally knew what they had to do. They knew at this point there was no turning back from this decision. No matter how hard or how frustrating this would be, they knew this was the best decision for both of them at this time. But was it the right decision for their future? Only time would tell and they promised to have no regrets. It was easy to say but hard to do.

To be continued…..

The Journey Ends

As the sun peeked over the horizon, Jack turned over in his sleeping bag and the sun hit him directly in his eyes and it woke him up. Jack couldn’t help but be a bit nervous but very excited for the day. Jack packed everything up in his backpack and went to hide his backpack in the brush that was right behind where he slept.

As Jack began looking around again, he started realizing he was much further in the tribe’s land than he thought. As a matter of fact, he seemed to be almost in the middle of their settlement, not on the outskirts. The map showed the cemetery on the outskirts but there were huts and houses all around him. And that’s when he noticed something that would change the journey forever.

It was a sign on the front of a building. It was in Portuguese and it said Escola em Monumento de McKinney. He had to think back to when he spoke Portuguese to figure it out. It was hard, really hard because he just couldn’t put it together and then it finally hit him. The sign said School in Memory of McKinney. His last name. What he had feared must have been true. His parents didn’t survive. But why was the school in their memory?

Jack began crying because he knew he would not find his parents but he so badly wanted to know what happened and why the school was in their memory. Would that mean they respected his parents or what? What did it mean. And with that thought, Jack heard someone behind him. He knew he had been alone and now, he could feel someones presence.

As he turned around, he saw two men standing there. They appeared to be friendly and he soon found out they spoke fluent English. They did not give their names but Jack began telling them why he was there. He told them his name, Jack McKinney. He asked them if they knew who he was and they said yes. “We’ve been expecting you for many years Jack,” the older one said quietly. “What took you so long?”

Jack was more than shook by this and fell to his knees crying out. Now what? What happened to his parents and could these men lead him to the truth? As Jack began standing up, the men took him by his arms and said, “If you will trust us, we’ll show you what you are looking for.” Jack couldn’t turn this down.

As they walked for the next hour or so to the main part of the settlement, they two men explained to Jack that the portion of the settlement he was on was a newer settlement that his parents helped start. Jack was in total awe and just didn’t know what to say. 

As they continued their talk, they explained that they were the leaders of the jail. The tribal leaders had arrested John and Stacy for teaching English in the region. The guards knew they had no reason to be jailed and over the first year of their time in jail, they had taught the guards and their fellow captives English. As the second year came around, the guards would take them out at night and allow them to start teaching English to the rest of the settlement. For the next 12 years, they taught English to those who wanted to learn and helped those tribe members build their own settlement. One with a school.

But in the 13th year of their capture, the tribal leaders found out they had been teaching the guards and their families English and were put to death. The guards comforted Jack as he found this out but they both wanted him and the rest of their family to know they were heroes to the tribe members. They helped start the most forward thinking tribe in the region and with their teachings, they were able to overthrow the tribe leaders and elect their own leaders. Without the McKinney’s teaching and their death, this would not have been possible they explained.

Jack’s mind was still reeling when they said, “Here is what you’ve been looking for Jack.” It was a very nice area with 2 headstones. As Jack moved closer to them, he saw their names. Jack took out his camera and took a picture. He couldn’t believe he was actually finding his parents again. He was noticeably upset but he was so proud to be their son. Finding this place and these men brought truth and closing to him. The men asked Jack if he wanted to take them home and Jack could only say, “they are home here. This is their final resting place and I’m good with that.”

Jack thanked the men and asked if they had a faster way back to his home. They were happy to help him with this request. As Jack got into their helicopter, he couldn’t wait to get back to Shelly, Miguel and Mary. To know the truth was better than he expected. But why was he led here to this place at this time was still going through his mind.

Jack finally got the courage to ask the men if the school was still open. They explained to him it closed a little over a year ago because their only qualified teacher had passed away. She was taught to teach by John and Stacy. This news hurt Jack very badly and coudn’t believe what they were saying about the school.

As Jack got off the helicopter, Shelly was waiting for him. What had he found and why was he so happy? As he began talking to Shelly, he broke down. He explained he had found the truth and his calling. Shelly couldn’t believe it as he went through the past 10 days and what he had found. Shelly and Miguel were so happy. They had no idea what Jack might find but were so pleased in every way possible.

So, as Jack folded his last shirt and put it in his bag, he knew he had grown and knew exactly how much. He also found out that the truth will set you free and set you to your true calling. After his bag was packed Jack went to the airport and took his flight back to Kansas City. But this time it would be his last trip to Kansas City.

Jack had decided to follow his calling and teach in the school in the settlement his parents helped start. He couldn’t believe it but knew this was the right thing to do. It was his way of moving on and moving up. He would be close to Shelly, Miguel and Mary and would be able to help all of them. Jack had not only found the truth during the journey but had found his calling. Now he was headed to help everyone he came in contact with to find their calling.

The End.

The Journey – The Search

Jack was the first one awake in the house the next morning and as he fixed breakfast, he couldn’t stop thinking about his time with Jose the day before. He was still trying to figure out what he knew and today was the first day in trying to find out what Jose was so upset about. Jack was packed and ready to head into the jungle he spent so much time in during his first 8 years.

But this time was different. When he was younger, he thought about his family, future and dreamed of teaching in the village with his parents. But now it was a search. A search for the truth of what happened 20 years ago and a search for who he truly is. Jack never could figure it out in Kansas City and he thought coming back here would help. But as the hope built, so did the questions about his past.

Jack finished breakfast, wrote a note to Shelly and took off on his search. It was a warm, humid morning and the sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon. As Jack entered the jungle, he thought about his dad. This was a place where he and his dad went as a refuge from it all. John had spent many years in this jungle and Jack just couldn’t believe someone had taken him and his mom deep into the jungle for harm. Yes, Jack had fear of what he might find or what might happen but he knew he had to go.

The terrain was easier than he remembered and he was very happy he remembered the jungle so very well. As Jack walked further into the jungle he heard someone behind him. He stopped to see who it was and it was Jose. Jose knew Jack would come out here and wanted to tell him why he couldn’t speak the day before.

Jose knew where the tribe who took his parents settled. He had gone deep into the jungle about a year after they went missing with his father and they spotted them. As they left to go tell Miguel and their village leaders, Jose’s father was shot and killed for trespassing. This so shook Jose that he could not tell anyone what they had found. All he did was lead the leaders to his father’s body and had them carry him back. They thought a hunter had accidentally shot Jose’s father but Jose knew what had happened.

As he told Jack this, Jack stood in disbelief and pain. Pain for Jose because of what he had seen and disbelief his parents were alive a year after their kidnapping. Jose warned Jack of trespassing on this land but Jack had to go and see if he could find what happened to his parents. Jose gave him a map but told him he couldn’t go any further. “Good luck Jack,” Jose said. “Please know I love you and I hope the best for you.” Jose turned and walked away from Jack.

Jack knew he had to press on but was a bit worried about what he might find. The tribe’s settlement was about a 10 day hike and Jack knew it was risky. But he felt the reward outweighed the risks. If he lost his life while searching for the truth then so be it. But if he died knowing he got so close and didn’t search for the truth, then he would never be able to forgive himself. As day turned to night, Jack pulled out his sleeping bag and got some sleep. He needed to make it to the tribe fast and rest was something he needed.

As Jack continued hiking deeper into the jungle, he began to wonder if there was a real chance his parents were still alive. If they survived 1 year, why not 20 years he thought. Jose’s map was spot on and on day 8, Jack arrived to the edge of the tribe’s settlement. Jack surveyed the land like a good hunter and found what looked to be a cemetery.

Jack looked around and found the names of many Americans. Was this was a cemetery where the tribe buried their captives? As he searched for his parents names, he grew weary and was having a hard time thinking about moving forward. He had been in the jungle for 8 days and to this point, he knew a little more truth but nothing that overwhelmingly pointed to the total truth. Jack decided to hide out and sleep for the night because he believed tomorrow would be the day he learned the truth.

To be continued….

The Journey – Hope Arises

After being back home for a bit over a week, Jack finally started to realize how special this place was to his family. The school was the place where he learned to read and started one of the most precious friendships someone could ask for. As a first grader, Jack met his buddy, Jose. Jose was someone Jack thought of often and never thought he would see again. After Jack left the village for America, he cried for and wondered about Jose.

It didn’t take long for Jack and Jose to reunite after Jack’s return. Jack always knew Jose was special to his family but in a new way now. Shelly took Jack over to Jose’s house one afternoon and she explained to him that they had been dating for about 2 years now. Jose wanted to see Jack because he loved and missed him but he also wanted to ask Jack if it would be okay for him to marry Shelly. Jack was taken by surprise but really couldn’t say no to his friend from so many years ago. His only reservation was this was defenitely going to keep Shelly here forever.

After talking to Shelly and Jose, Jack gave them the family blessing and they all started talking about good times from so many years ago. Jack wanted to know about everything that had happened since they last saw each other. Jose was nervous at first but as soon as he started talking, everything came out. He told Jack and Shelly about how after they left the leaders of the tribe who had taken their parents came back to search for them. They knew there were children to be found but could not find them.

Jose explained to them how the tribe leaders searched every home there and when they could not find the children they were looking for, they ravaged the village, especially the school. Miguel and Mary’s place was the hardest hit and that’s why they moved into Jack and Shelly’s old house. The tribe knew Miguel and Mary had hidden them and  had sent them to Amercia with family.

Then Jose started to cry. Jack and Shelly were confused and asked Jose if he was okay. Jose tried to talk but couldn’t. He was silent. Jack feared Jose had seen something or knew something about their parents. Jack continued to try to talk to Jose but he couldn’t talk. Or wouldn’t talk in Jack’s mind. Please he would beg. But it just wasn’t changing anything.

As Jack and Shelly left Jose’s house, Jack was even more confused than before. Why did he just go silent? Was there something he knew or was he just so shaken up from talking about the past? Jack just didn’t know what to think of his soon to be brother in law but one thing was certain in his mind. He was going to find out very soon.

Jack got back to the house and found Miguel on the front porch listening to music. Miguel tried to act as if he were sleeping but Jack just wanted to talk with him. He explained what had happened at Jose’s and wondered if Miguel knew anything.

After spending over a week here, Jack finally started to feel comfortable enough to search on his own and he told Miguel he would be gone for the next few days searching for the truth. Miguel tried to stop Jack but knew he was too much like his dad and there was no stopping him once his mind was set. “Please take every precaution you can Jack,” Miguel said. “I just want you to be safe. You and Shelly are all Mary and I have.”

With those words, Jack went into the house, went to his room and started packing for the search that would begin in the morning. Jack didn’t know if he would find the truth or more dead ends. But one thing was certain, he had 20 days left until he was to return to Kansas City. He was going to search for the truth but he had also made up his mind he wasn’t missing that flight.

Hope was really beginning to flourish in Jack’s life and he had 20 days to find what he had lost 20 years ago. He was back home and ready to find it. Finding family, friends and time lost was one thing. Finding the truth was another. Jack had no time to waste. The jungle awaited him and welcomed him after 2o years. But the question still remained. What would he find?

To be continued…..

The Journey – Back Home

After Jack gained his composure, he asked Miguel where Mary and Shelly were. “That’s why I called you to come down here,” Miguel said quietly. On the phone, Miguel told Jack Shelly was in need but wouldn’t tell him what she was in need of. Jack was a bit discouraged and very much wanted to get on the next plane to Kansas City because he felt Miguel brought him down here for selfish reasons.

Miguel promised Jack’s dad many years ago he would take care of Jack and Shelly if anything happened. Although he didn’t fulfill this promise, Miguel hoped Jack had a bit of his dad in him. Miguel was in need of Jack’s help to take care of him and Mary. Miguel went on to explain to Jack that Shelly was back at the house with Mary. Mary’s health had declined and there was nothing the doctors could do for her. Mary had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Miguel knew he needed help with the school, Mary and the farm. Shelly requested Miguel call Jack to come down and use any story to get him to come. She knew he would come but just didn’t know how he would react once there.

Jack couldn’t believe how much he remembered of the village as Miguel drove him to the house where he lived 20 years earlier. They passed the courts where some kids were playing dodge ball and basketball just as Jack did in his early years. There was a baseball diamond, the lot, where Jack learned how much fun one person could have for an entire day playing baseball. They also passed the school where he learned to read and where he knew Shelly taught. As they passed the school, Jack couldn’t help but tear up thinking about his parents. Behind the school was the jungle. This is where Jack would go and think when he was younger and the place of refuge with his dad. They spent many days out there but after he lost his parents, he didn’t go back.

As they pulled in front of the house, Jack couldn’t hold back any longer. He burst out in tears and told himself this was a good thing. Shelly was in there and now life could start over in the same place it had ended 20 years ago. Shelly greeted him as he came in and as they hugged, he thought back to the last time he hugged his sister in this house. It was the night his parents were taken by the men at gun point. Mary & Miguel had hidden the kids from the tribe leaders so they wouldn’t be taken. Jack never thanked Mary & Miguel for hiding them because he really just wanted to be with his parents.

Shelly and Jack were able to talk and as they did, Mary came into the room to see who was there. She couldn’t remember Jack’s name but she did call him John, Jack’s father. This brought a whole new level of pain to Jack and he just wanted to run far away. But he knew Mary needed help and knew by trying to help her, he would be helping himself. As the four of them talked, Jack and Shelly were able to find out so much about their parents they had never heard. The good times, the bad times, the people they taught, the people who taught them. So many names and so many people who missed them. But none of them more than Jack and Shelly.

Talking to Miguel and Mary was good for Jack. For him, it was a time to heal he thought. But he had no idea what the next days would bring. The hope of healing his heart is what he had but the promise of finding something lost so many years ago was emerging.

To be continued…..