I watched the landmarks I knew so well passing by on the road from Tampa to Tallahassee and savored the gratitude I was feeling for what Keith was doing for me; tomorrow, I would be set up with a whole new opportunity to reestablish myself in Tallahassee. I’d have my own place again, a new job and a car. I could feel the smile on my face.

Even though I felt so happy, if I paused just a few minutes in my positive thoughts those damn negative thoughts would be at me, accusing me of being a total failure, a bum in the making, an ingrate void of all motivation except reading books, books I was hoping against hope would give me the answers to my malaise.

I was also bedeviled by obsessive thoughts about the three men I admired most and the shame I felt for failing them. First, my father who had been dealt the most incredibly rotten hand in life still was steadfast and always kept a roof over mine and my mother’s heads and food on the table. His father had run him away from home at fourteen, he almost died twice when Germans sunk two different ships he was on during WW2, he lost his right hand in an accident two weeks after getting home from WW2, and he only had a fourth-grade education. I hadn’t been able to keep myself fed and housed without help. Secondly, there was Coach Adcock, a steadfast rock who inspired many people, surrogate father to me, and became a hugely successful, wealthy man, and Third, my friend Keith who was, so obviously, cut from the same cloth. He was steadfast, smart, and dedicated; clearly on his way to becoming a successful lawyer. And they all three loved me.

So, what the hell was wrong with me? I shared the same Ideals and I wanted basically the same things for myself as I understood they wanted for themselves —– success, self-respect and a great future. However, it seemed to me that they, (my coach and my friend, not my father) were settling for less than what life was supposed to be. All my failings were killing me on the one hand but on the other was flinging doors, I’d never seen before, open to amazing new possibilities. Of course, I never said any of this to them. I couldn’t even formulate the thought for myself at that point, much less share it with anyone.
I felt like a big, flat, slow-moving, swirl of smoke in a huge, still space, unable to rise or disintegrate, just hanging there helplessly waiting for the world to move.

I kept kicking these kinds of thoughts out of my head and seized back onto how this time I would build myself a future that I and everyone else expected out of Jack Shinholser.