phoenix – part 1

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 | phoenix | No Comments

Welcome friends, family, visitors. The story begins.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. Accidents, bad decisions, poor choices… one of the worst in recent history was the unconscious decision to give away the right to define who Aaron Ellringer is. Well, I gave it away, and it was stolen, and then I secluded myself in silence, nearly losing myself.

I’m taking myself back. There I was, here I am and look out for who I can be, who we can be together.

It’s taken me awhile to get to the bottom of this funk, but it stems back to a sunny afternoon along the Chippewa, August 28, 2007…

I was working the opening store shift at JLF downtown. Overall an uneventful morning. I took a call from a gentleman who knew me by name and wanted to visit before my shift ended at 1:30. A new farmer? Someone interested in our delivery service? A few customers stopped in for little things. When the store was empty, I ran across the street and scripted advertising in sidewalk chalk along the bikepath: water | cheese | coffee | hamburger. I poured my third mug of coffee for the day as Jen came in for hr shift. She stepped in back as two suits entered the store with confidence.

“Hi there, you called earlier!” I knew it was him, who smiled and reached in his pocket. “You must be Aaron” he said as he pulled out his wallet and the badge flipped down. ”Mr. X with the FBI, this is Mr. Y a Special Investigator with the Forest Service, do you have a minute?”

“Let me see.” I replied, quickly slipping in the back. I leaned against the wall and took a deep breath. My family just returned from a few days camping, fishing and biking at Two Lakes in the Chequamegon National Forest. Did we leave the fire going? Were we camped next to a psycho?

I found Jen by the back cooler, told her I had to go, the FBI wanted to talk with me. Her face as I said it was revealing. Panic set in! What the hell do they want from me?! I eye the back door, but dutifully return to the suits up front, my mind racing with possibilities. The FBI could be anything, but the Forest Service? It has to be from our camping trip.

Y opens the door as X smoothly escorts me out the door. “We can go over there,” I point to the weedy strip across the street locally referred to as Peace Park. Surrounding me, they shuffle towards the corner lot, “No, we don’t want to do this in front of the business. We just have some questions for you.” X says as he nudges me towards a black SUV parked cocked in the lot. Uncomfortable, “I don’t want to get in, let’s go over here.” I start again towards the park. X firmly grabs my arm and pleads “Aaron, we know you have a family and this great business going here, we want to help, we don’t want to make a scene here.” I look at their suits, yeah, we’re a scene. Y has the front passenger door open for me and helps me in. X jogs around, hops in the drivers seat and starts it up. I do not feel safe.

It’s just a normal Olds Bravada. Common cel phone, McDonalds garbage, a briefcase and a map. “Whoa, where are you taking me?” I’m shaking. “Oh, just over here” X bounces the truck onto the street and down the pedestrian mall to the parking lot of the funeral home. Fuck, this is not where I want to be. I roll down my window a bit. X breaks the silence. “We think you know why we’re here.”

My mind is still stuck on that camping trip. “I just got back from Two Lakes, did I leave my fire going?” I know how ridiculous it sounds now.

No, the FBI did not just abduct me for too many coals in the fire ring…