#RRBC WATCH #RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour: BULLETPROOF VEST by Laurie Finkelstein

Welcome to Day Three of  The WATCH RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) WRITE Showcase Tour, a branch of The Rave Reviews Book Club.


Author Photo. Laurie Finkelstein.

Bulletproof Vest

By Laurie Finkelstein

The bulk, padding, and steel plates weigh me down. The protection of a bulletproof vest is necessary. No matter the weather, I wear the cloak. The weight is a burden, but I trek on because wrapped is the only way to navigate my journey. The jacket protects my heart from being blown to crimson shards of death.

A direct hit is avoided for days and nights, lulling me into calm and complacency. “All will work out fine,” I tell myself. The truth tells a story I want to change. All my will and might does not make an impact to stop the bombardment.

Experience and time separates me from tragedy. At any moment, the bullets strike. Inside or out. My house cannot provide security, nor can a million people surrounding me. With nowhere to hide, I am a target. Shelter and safety are nonexistent.

Discharges are held back while luck and grace harbor me. The slugs will come, however, in a piercing barrage without warning, and will pummel me.

Knocked to the ground, I am immobilized and rendered helpless. My breathing is halted. My movements are stopped, and I understand what assaulted me.

The shockwave subsides, and in small increments, I am able to take in air. Incapacitated, I continue to lie until I am rescued by the rational thinking buried under an avalanche of pain, doubt, and fear. My thoughts check my vitals to make sure I am in the here and now. “Stay in the moment,” I tell myself. “I can manage this. I will persevere.”

“Rise,” I command. The mass of the garb constricts my movement, but I stand, analyze what must be done, and begin to act. The warrior in me comes out. Battles will be fought. My impervious attire gets me through another crisis, and its weight comforts me. Without the guise, I am unable to prevail against the onslaughts, which pop out of the dark corners of another day.

Yes, my vest is cumbersome, but without my swathe I will not withstand the painful projectiles. Clips are filled, ready to punch and knock me down, disabling me should I forget for a moment to cloak myself within my protective armor.

My bullets are not made of lead, surrounded by a dense metal. The projectiles do not come from terrorists intent on decimating me. The ammo does not come from a police state or a dictator’s command. A barrel is not involved.

My bullets are made of depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Composed of irrational thoughts, insipid ideations, and ignorant rationalizations, they are crushing invisible forces. The capacity to shatter my resolve and render me dysfunctional invades me.

My unsociable enemy is treatable, but never disappears. My therapists validate my experiences of being trapped, resentful, guilty, shameful, ill-equipped, grief-stricken, lost, uncertain, and disabled. My growth in therapy helps me accept the challenge with compassion and empathy in my heart.

Throughout my lifetime three stages will haunt me.

Stage one is the onslaught of rounds. The crisis mode. The shock and pain.

Stage two is being slammed down, breath taken away. Sabotaged. Terms and feelings of the emergency are acknowledged.

Stage three is advocacy for myself. Stand. Breathe. Make decisions. Tools in hand to counteract the depression and anxiety and OCD. Utilize appropriate response and care.

Encouraged by others, I enroll in Toastmasters. Time for me to improve my public speaking and thinking on my feet. Professional and compelling ways of expressing my views is a talent I want to possess. Persuasive interactions are in reach. My computer with Google as my guide, I find the Toastmasters website. The rules and guidelines answer many of my questions. Ready to take on the challenge, I enter my credit card information and become a member. A direct thrust knocks me down.

At first, I don’t understand what attacks me. My heartbeat begins speeding up. My gasps for air speed up. My head spins with dizziness. The mighty effects of terror hammer me to the ground. Despair sinks me deeper into the attack.

Stage one. The thought of standing before people enunciating in a clear voice avoiding “ums” and “ahs” strikes with negative force. In a semi-frozen state of fear and regret, I struggle to make sense of my attacker. Groups of Toastmasters are warm, safe environments to learn public speaking and leadership skills. “Warm and safe,” I remind myself. Still my heart beats faster and my breath diminishes by the second. A ghost of recognition appears before me. Panic is familiar.

Stage two. My history tells me to take an extra Klonopin. Scared to death is not an option. Upon reaching my medicine cabinet with weak, wobble-producing legs, I discover my pill case empty. In my next move, I check the bottle. Empty. My heart beats faster and my limbs go numb. Sweat trickles down my forehead. My last attempt before I collapse in a heap of despair, I call my pharmacist. My trembling voice separated from my body explains my attack and lack of pills. “How fast can you fill the prescription?” my quivering voice speaks out. “Is ten minutes okay?” the pharmacy technician asks.

Stage three. My inner voice tells me to be brave. Think of a serene place. My happy place. Take deep soothing breaths. My toolbox is ransacked for more options until I come to grips with the present. The dispensary is too far to hike, so I must drive to pick up my pills. Cranked engine. Foot on pedal. Brake released. My self-talk takes me on a wild ride to the drug store. My trembling legs walk me to the back of the aisles. The friendly face of the tech reassures me. The credit card transaction is signed with a jellylike hand, completing the purchase.

Back in my car, I down the remedy with tepid water from an old bottle sitting in my trash. My panting is steadier, my heart pounding a little less. Within thirty minutes, I am relaxed, able to pursue my day. Ready to reassess my decision to become a Toastmaster. The choice is sound and important.

My bulletproof vest is worn as a badge of honor and survival. Without my garb, I would be a prisoner in my house, hiding in bed. Sick to my stomach. Useless.

The stigma of mental illness must be broken. My vest is worn with pride. I am a survivor. I am the voice of one in every five Americans experiencing the assailant. I am not alone.


Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Laurie Finkelstein RWISA Author Page

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Writers Wednesday – Chapter 3: The Men with Blue Eyes


Chapter 3 – The Office

Did you miss the first two Chapters? Start Here and Here


Tina balanced her Caramel Macchiato flavored coffee, car keys, and purse as she entered the office. Lawyers sat at desks answering phones and shuffling papers. They formed their own groups as they spoke in multiple conversations. The office was chaotic already and Tina’s team were already huddled around her partner’s desk. Frederick, “Freddy” Johnson saw her come in and nodded.

“Hey,” he said as she sat her things down at her own desk next to his. Tina swiveled in her large office chair and turned the computer on.

“What we got?” she said sipping her cup, her eyes catching a figure in the distance.

Oh no. Tina’s hairs stood up on her neck and arms. That was him again. The same man from the club. She was sure of it.

Freddy waved his hand in her face.

“Earth to Tina. Everything alright?”

“Yea, I’m good.”

“You sure? I can get someone else on the case. If it’s too early…”

“No”, interrupted Tina. “I’ll be fine. What do we have?”

Freddy turned to the pile on his desk. “We got seven people, all reported missing within the last 24hours.”

“And they’re all connected to the Ja’mella case?”

Freddy handed Tina a vanilla envelope, “Yep.”

Tina crossed her legs. Sidney’s face stared back at her, the Journalist from the case. She pulled out another file and Chareese face smiled back at her, Brandon’s girlfriend, one of the men accused of the rape. Nicknamed Tree for his large size, she remembered his public arrest at the Soccer Field. They got off. Was someone out for revenge? She paused, remembering that Chareese was pregnant. She pulled out another file.

“Who is this man? I don’t remember him being involved.”

Freddy walked over to Tina’s side and peered down at the documents. The face of an elderly man stared back at him. His eyes scanned down to his name. Freddy pointed, “Emmanuel Jackson. Sidney Jackson’s father.”

“So, they’re taking relatives too now? This doesn’t make any sense. What’s he got to do with it?”

“Apparently, enough”, said Freddy walking back to his own desk.

Tina took another sip of her coffee and shivered. She was the attorney in that case and had successfully got the two black men acquitted. Could she be next?

“Did anyone see anything?”

“We can check the testimonies of the families, see where everyone was last seen.”

Tina’s body stiffened at the figure in the distance.

“Tina?” Freddy looked behind him. “What’s up?”

Tina snapped out of it. She had to remember no one else could see them.

“Nothing”, she said sitting the folders on the table, “the testimonies sound good. I want a full report on every single person, where they spent their last hours, where they work, everything.”

“You got it” said Freddy picking up the phone. Tina used the opportunity to walk away, loosening the collar around her neck.

“Is the air on?”

Freddy was already on the phone and ignored her question. It was burning up or maybe it was just her. She entered the women’s bathroom, closed and then locked the door behind her.

I’m losing it.

She splashed cold water on her face and pulled the bottle of pills from her purse.

“I wouldn’t say so”, said a voice as she popped open the bottle. The white tablets fell into the sink.

“Shoot”, she said, scrambling to catch them before they all went into the drain. Now she had to convince Erica to give her another prescription. She only caught two.

Her blood raced, hands grew sweaty and the hairs stood up on her neck and arms, her knees wobbling. She couldn’t turn around or look up so she kept her eyes on the drain.

“What do you want from me?”

“I am not one of them. Well, I am but I am here to help.”

They sounded just like men. Not robotic like people thought or in the movies. It still didn’t change anything.

“You don’t help people, you murder them. What do you want from me? Have you not destroyed my life enough?”

“Listen, I know where they are. The people who are missing. I know where they took them. Most of all, I know why. Give me a chance and we can work this together.”

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Tina lifted her head to face the man in the mirror standing behind her. He looked human except for his blue crystal eyes reminding her that he was not her friend. He was one of them. And they killed humans. She thought of her nephew Ronnie and tears filled her throat, courage reaching her eyes.

“First off, we are not friends so stop acting like you can just pop in and out of my life. Secondly, I will never work with you.”

“You are acting like I killed Ronnie.”

“It’s your kind ain’t it? Same difference.”

“Listen, the government is trying to cover up the truth. Give me a chance and I’ll explain. We can be partners.”

“What? Why would I work with you? I don’t even know your name.”

“My name is Azbuga, meaning Strength, but you can call me Az.”

Tina shook her head, “Whatever.”

“Everyone has a job. Just like here. Ours is to watch over mankind. So, that’s what we are. Watchers.”

Tina turned around to face him. She thought Az was attractive for an alien, though she didn’t know what he really looked like. The 7ft being was clothed in Hispanic skin with black hair and thick, black eyelashes. He wore blue jeans and sneakers which made him look normal. His blue jean jacket covered the white t-shirt. Except for his crystal blue eyes, he could be mistaken for a normal, Hispanic looking man. A very tall man. Tina wondered what his true image was. Maybe he’s a fire breathing dragon.

“Why should I believe you?”

Az dug into his right hand and his skin gave way to his fingers like clay to the hands of a child.

“Eww”, said Tina, watching until he pulled out a coin.

“You can see for yourself”, said Az, extending the coin.

“I’m not touching that.”

“It’s the only way to get in touch with me. Whenever you need me, hold it in your hands and think of my name.”

“I still don’t know how this proves anything”, Tina folded her arms.

Az pointed to the symbol on the coin, “Just like we have jobs, we also have symbols. We’re the watchers so the eye is ours. CBS, the back of the dollar bill, camera’s everywhere. All us.”

“So where were you? Huh? Where were ‘The Watchers’ when…” Tina’s voice trailed off as tears filled her throat.

“Not all Watchers are good. Some fell. We were supposed to watch you not…not harm you. Some of my brothers came down and did things with humans that were not right for them to do and now they’re just trying to cover their tracks. But not all of us are bad, Tina.”

“You didn’t answer my question. Where were you when Ron…”

“Everything alright?”

The coin fell to the floor and Tina froze. She had not checked the bathroom stalls coming in. She picked up the coin and put it into her pocket.

“Amy. Hi. Yes, everything’s fine,” Tina stumbled over her words, her arch enemy staring her in the face. Amy walked over to the sink and turned the water on. Her dark chocolate skin and dred loc’d hair pulled up in a pin. The woman washed her hands, cutting her eyes at Tina.

“Alright”, she said smirking.

Dammit T. Now you know she talk too much. Of all the people to screw up in front of, it had to be Amy.  This would be all over the office by tomorrow. Tina looked around the bathroom. There was no sign of him.

“Why is the door locked?” asked Amy unlatching the door.

Shoot. I’m definitely not thinking straight.

Tina shrugged and swallowed the pills in her hand dry as Amy rolled her eyes on the way out the bathroom. Tina washed her hands and straightened her clothing on the way out the door. She stopped when she heard murmurs.

“I’m serious. The girl was in there talking to herself. I told you she wasn’t ready to come back”, said Amy.

“She’s grieving. Give it some time”, said Freddy.

“Well, she can grieve on her own time.”

Tina rolled her eyes and shook her head. It hadn’t even been two minutes and Amy was already talking.

I bet that coffee cold as hell now too. Damn. Today is not my day.