Heights

“Over the last half year, I gone places I’ve only dreamed of, and I’ve reached heights that seem larger than life itself”


Over the last half year, I gone places I’ve only dreamed of, and I’ve reached heights that seem larger than life itself.


I should probably begin with the biggest thing first, as it was pretty much the inciting event that started every other change over the last few months. It was a tough decision, and that decision was leaving what I consider home to venture out.


Trouble in Paradise

I used to see Arizona as my paradise and I still do. I wish I could be back everyday. I miss the mountains and the palm trees. I miss the warm sunlight, and the tan that came with it. I miss my family and the friends I made there. There’s nothing here that quite matches the feeling of the desert and city life. It feels like home to me. But I also felt like I wasn’t changing there.

Sure, when I first arrived, I experienced a change, one I really needed. I healed myself greatly from the worst pain I ever felt, and I faced many challenges and tests (I slayed some metaphorical dragons I guess). After a bit, when everything settled down, when I had finally mended my broken heart and shattered soul, I began to feel something, or rather the opposite I should say. The excitement and adventure was fading. I started feeling alone, and my efforts to fill in that loneliness only made me feel more alone. My friends had things to do, and my family was always busy. I began to feel like a burden, and the problem I came to Phoenix with resurrected itself in a new form. I was once again heart broken.

I tried to find things to keep me occupied, like trying a new martial arts school or working at a new theater, but none of it felt the same as it did with my old dojang and old job. I began to realize that the reason I was beginning to be faced with so much pain and hardship again was because this was a sign I needed a change. This was my chance to get out of my comfort zone and improve something, even if I honestly didn’t know it at the time. I definitely didn’t want to start this journey, but what came next was something I’m proud of, and something I quite honestly didn’t expect from myself, so let’s get into it.


Setting the Scene

As I said, I didn’t want to leave Phoenix. I’m more of a city guy, I love the excitement and the people, and all of the different foods and music that come with it. With the city you get so much inspiration for new or current projects. The country is pretty much the opposite, at least for me. I actually hate it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent a lot of time here in this town, I love the people here. This place is actually where I spent most of high school and college. Even with that, I still don’t want to be here. It’s just boring. It’s flat. No tall buildings to look up at and admire, no special events like comic con’s or concerts. The most we have is the Corvette Museum, and I don’t care much for cars. What is here however is the theater I work at.

I’ve spent a total of nearly three years here at the theater all together. I love everyone I work with. To be honest, I don’t see them as co-workers or managers, I see them as family. I love working at the theater because I love film, and I love story. I feel like it’s something that connects us all as humans, just like love. My favorite part about working here is being able to help people.

As simple or as cheesy as it may sound, I love helping people carry their food to their auditorium, or holding the doors open for them, honestly anything to allow them to have a better experience. I like being able to calm angry guests down, and to see how much of an impact I can make by simply connecting with them as a human being. That’s all any of us are. Human. And each and every one of us has the desire to be understood and respected, so if I can do that for someone and improve their day by simply listening to their problems, that’s great. Sure the money I get helps, but apart from getting to be around film all of the time, the biggest reason I work at the theater is people. Something else here in this town, something very important to me, is my martial arts school.

Ever since I’ve been back, I’ve been working as hard as I can in martial arts, developing my skills even further than before. I just recently earned my red belt, and today I’ve started some kind of special training. For one, I am officially starting weapons training. I mean I’ve used nunchucks and bo staffs in class before, but nothing like what I’ll face here soon.


Initiate Training Sequence

My instructor, Master Vo, has begun to teach me how to use swords. I’ve seen the black belts use katanas only once, but I have never used one is class myself. It was cool. He showed me how to hold the sword over my head before swinging, he showed me the correct stance, where to slash at on the opponent’s body, etc. Apparently my tests going forward for new belts contains weapons and hapkido moves, about 25 different combinations. It feels like a lot but I’m sure I’ll get it eventually.

He also showed me this old looking book today. He called it the “Black Book”. I made a joke about it being sacred, and apparently it is. It’s also honestly a little confusing. I was looking at some of the words, and the Korean had been translated to English by what looked like Google Translate. There was pictures to explain what to do, so that helped.

Master Vo is awesome, he’s been a great teacher and mentor over the years, I’ve known him since sophomore year of high school. He’s honestly one of my favorite people. I feel like I could really tell him anything. He has a couple black belts at his school (about four), but only two of them are his. the other two transferred to his school after earning their black belts somewhere else. This means I will be his third blackbelt from his school. Now that I’ve earned a higher rank recently, my red belt, he’s been treating me slightly different. I mean he treats everyone with respect and love, but I feel like he holds me to higher standards. He doesn’t tell me what to do as much, he usually just has me go off and do my own thing, or to read from the Black Book. He’s also having me teach lower belts a lot more I’ve realised. Either way, I know he cares about me just as much as I care about him and all of the friends I’ve made at the dojang.


Acquiring Independence

Here pretty soon I’ll be moving into my own apartment. I’m nineteen and in march I’ll be turning twenty. I don’t like the idea of being twenty and still living with my parents. I’ve done some research and I’ve found a couple places I’m interested in signing a lease to until I move to New York in over a year. Not only will I finally be living on my own, but I’ll gain some experience in paying rent and stuff, which is great before I move to NYC. Finding my own place is not the only thing I’ve done to become more independent however.

I’ve never really cared for driving, as my main goal right now is to move to New York. I’m sure you understand the fact that it’s hard to drive in Manhattan. The thing is, I don’t live there yet, and I can’t continue to rely on my parents to take me places, and that’s why I bought my first car.

The car I bought is a green 2004 Mustang. Sure the green paint isn’t ideal but it’s a mustang, how could I complain? I have some new body modifications I need to apply to it, such as a new front bumper, side skirts, door panels, etc. By time I install all of these new upgrades including a new paint job in Nashville, my car will look epic.

I’ve been driving a lot recently in hopes to earn my drivers license soon. I have a permit which allows me to drive with another adult in the car and stuff, but so far my driving skills are pretty ok. In the end, I may not care so much for driving, but I can’t deny the fact that having a mustang is honestly a clear lady magnet.


The Ordeal of Love

Love is something a lot of us find hard to understand, or at least to explain. I don’t think I could describe it perfectly in words, but I can try to convey the feelings through my memories and experiences, both good and bad. Love is truly something special, but it can also become something intoxicating, and you can overdose if you’re not too careful. I wrote this without thinking too much, this is simply the rollercoaster of emotions I’ve gone through with love.

Death of a Beating Heart

I often catch brief glimpses of memories faded. I can remember the warmth felt to have the care and love of another. A perfect smile. Golden hair shining in the sun, sunflower in hand. Skipping stones across a lake touched by the sunset, laughter filling the air. Whispers of promises and I Love You’s.

Those whispers have become echos. The sun has just set over the horizon, and stones have sank. Flowers have wilted. I have felt alone, and the anxiety of missing an integral part of who you considered yourself to be, of how your life was planned.

You see, that was the problem. No one can promise you your future. It’s yours to create, and it’s your love to give, not theirs to take. The death of a love story is the death of a beating heart. Maybe two, but it’s death nonetheless.

Sometimes it’s not sadness felt at this point, it’s just a heavy feeling, as if those faded memories carry weight with them. That weight is the stone in your hands before you throw it towards lake, and after it skips it sinks.

I was tied to that stone, and I sank. And I sat through those currents at the bottom of the lake, looking at the world above through rippling waves.

And I smile.

And I cry, yet I’m not sad.

Am I?

Why do I constantly think about this one person, from a time long ago? Why is this following me?

A beating heart has become a bleeding heart. It’s not fatal, it’s chronic.

I haven’t let this stop me. I think love is something that connects us as people. But with love comes a responsibility. At least to me. I feel like I should never be anyone’s responsibility, but when I know someone loves me, I don’t want them to feel the pain I’ve felt. I want to love them unconditionally, till the end. Of course, not every relationship will work out. It can often be difficult to tell the difference between lust and genuine love and trust, but you get better at it as time goes on. The thing is, your partner is just a person, just like you. Sometimes you learn just as they do that you’re not quite as compatible as you thought. Sometimes that bond can be broken by a mistake. Sometimes bonds aren’t as strong as other bonds. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still love someone I used to hold so close to my heart, but like I said, sometimes a relationship doesn’t work out, and you learn from it. Plus there are so many girls I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet/ date if I was still in a relationship, so you just gotta see the positive in a tragedy.

Ever since I’ve been back in this town, I’ve dated a lot of people. Sure I started dating new people in Phoenix, but my dating life didn’t fully pick up until coming back here. Now I would say I go on about two dates a week.

I’ve met so many cool people, all of which are vastly different. Each person I was grateful for, as they showed me new parts of myself and gave me that experience I’m sure I needed in the dating field. lot of people I’ve dated over the last couple months I still talk to, and we continue to be good friends even today, but I still have yet to find that special person to share my life with.


Completion of a Quest

If I had to say I had a main objective in mind while being down here in Kentucky, it would be visiting New York. Even before coming back here, I knew I wanted to go to NYC this year to prepare myself for moving there in the future. I’m glad I went through with it.

I want to live within NYC within my twenties, preferably moving there on my twenty first birthday, as I already have a couple thousand dollars saved up to do so. Sure, I could risk doing it right now, but I’m not necessarily worried about failing or doing it as soon as possible, I want to enjoy the journey of getting there, and to understand what it takes to do it right I suppose.

This October I finally visited NYC for the first time. I took us nearly thirteen hours I think to drive there, but when we finally seen the skyline in the distance, it was definitely something to marvel at. I managed to book a pretty sweet hotel for the weekend in advance. Yes, we were only there Friday, Saturday, Sunday and part of Monday, but it was still an awesome experience. As a family we walked all over Times Square, Midtown, Chinatown, Little Italy, Brooklyn, etc.

I would have to say my favorite spot was… actually…

I don’t know. There was honestly so many cool spots. My parents wouldn’t cross the Brooklyn Bridge so I went across it myself and into Brooklyn, exploring a lot of Dumbo myself. If I had to choose one place as my favorite, It might be Dumbo, but all of NYC is amazing. I love Midtown and the Financial district definitely has that rich business feel to it.

I have a lot more to talk about when it comes to NYC, but I may save it for a future post as I’m sure I’ll continue to talk about it until we visit again next year before I move.


Accepting Responsibility (Sort of)

When I first got here in July or August I enrolled into college. Before I left for Phoenix, my world felt like it was caving in. I had even dropped out of my first semester of university. I still don’t like the idea of college, in fact I still continue to wish I was somewhere else, but in two days I will have officially completed my first semester of college.

Throughout this semester, well, it’s actually been relatively easily. Except for the part where I didn’t turn in the rough draft for my history paper, losing 100 points. That day I went from an A to a C in that class. Luckily I’ve maintained my C till now (with the power of acing all of my assignments and projects) but I still learned my lesson on not turning in assignments. I just have to bullshit them and use my awesome writing skills to make it sound good if I don’t want to do it.

I did it for my final paper without reading the book or watching the movie and got an 85%. Same thing for my homework. But hey, at least I’m doing it instead of getting 0’s. Although I don’t really want to be in college, it has opened up a new opportunity for me, one I didn’t really expect but is something I’m glad I found.


A Whole New World

I think I’ve stumbled onto something here. Something completely unexpected but has always been something I was interested in. Throughout high school I was always interested in theatre, but I was too busy. I did newspaper, martial arts, speech and debate, science tournaments, etc. To be honest, I think another reason why I didn’t try theatre in school was because I was afraid.

Maybe somewhere inside my mind I felt like I wouldn’t be as good as people who have done this their entire lives. Looking back, I shouldn’t have compared myself to others. Something Master Vo has recently mentioned is that I was a completely different person back then, which I feel is very true.

Either way, a couple of months back, I received a message. The message was actually from Master Vo. Basically a group of WKU film students had contacted him. They needed a martial artist for their lead role, and they asked him if he could let his students know about the opportunity.

Master Vo sent out a message to all of his students, including me. Knowing that I had always had an interest in acting, I immediately messaged him to let him know I was interested. Long story short, after not hearing anything back for a couple days, I received a message on Instagram (by the way follow me on Instagram- daman_cusick_) from the producer of the film.

If you are interested in trying out for a short film for wku let me know.

 

Good Morning,

My name is (removed for privacy reasons), and I am a WKU film student. We are currently making a short film called “The Art of Joshua”. Would any of your students be interested in auditioning in either of the roles below? Our film date is October 29.

Joe

 

Joe is a teenager being bullied by his fellow classmates. One day while at recess Joe’s bullies come up to make fun of Joe’s journal, and Joe uses his self-created fight style to defend his honor.

David 

 

David is the teenager that is bullying Joe.

The message I received discussing the film

She let me know about the role I would be auditioning for and sent me a copy of the script. Obviously they changed the character a bit to fit my age, meaning I would not be attending recess in the film. I was honestly so excited but knowing that I had never officially acted before, I admittedly got a little nervous. I started getting flashbacks to the time I auditioned to be Huckleberry Finn back in an elementary school play. It was a terrible audition, and I got made fun of by all of my friends.

Surely I had changed by now, and having the training from speech and debate made me feel a little better about it. So later that day, on a zoom call, I began my audition. I’ll be honest, even I was impressed. I didn’t expect it to be so easy, or even that fun.

A couple days later we began shooting the film. It was honestly crazy. For one, I had to change into a specific outfit for my character which was awesome. The set was also amazing. I had went from never being in a film/ having never acted to being the star of a professional student film. I had all of these expensive cameras around me, and all of these lights and screens. It was amazing.

I worked closely with the director and my co-star and the whole thing went great. What I learned from this experience was to open myself up to opportunities like this as they can honestly be life changing.

This wasn’t the only film I’ve worked on until now. Over the last month or two I’ve starred in five additional films, each of them with my previous co-star. We have this great chemistry as actors. We get along amazingly, joke with each other, play off each others improv moments very well, etc. and he’s also been an amazing mentor.

Throughout this entire process he’s offered so much great advice and knowledge that he wishes he knew before starting down this career path. He is a great friend and someone I honestly look up to. He’s just recently scored his first role in an actual feature film which he has to travel to D.C. for here soon. I’m honestly real excited for him.

With each film I’ve improved my acting skills and I’ve gained more connections and friends. I previously didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life but now I’m certain I want to work in the film industry and continue acting. It’s so much fun and I’m really good at it. Hopefully when I move to New York or Los Angeles I’ll work on even more projects and make my way up.

Here are some of the friends and connections I’ve made along the way-


Conclusion

When I first left Phoenix I thought my life no longer had a future. What I’ve learned over the last couple months is that things are only truly beginning once again. I still hold my time in Phoenix as the best time of my life, at least that first initial year, but this time I’ve spent here has been very valuable and has unlocked many more doors for my future, doors that I hadn’t even noticed before.

I’m still working on myself and improving in any way I can, but no one’s perfect, and neither is the world. There are many problems the world is facing, and it seems like I’ve just been sucked into a new problem with the rest of my community.

I’ll be posting a new blog post soon regarding the terrible tornados the entire midwest has faced, mainy Kentucky and my town, but until then I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post, and I’ll catch you in the next one.

By the way, be sure to leave a like and comment; let me know what you think. Any form of feedback is greatly appreciated and helps me improve upon my writing and storytelling abilities.


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The Hero’s Journal- One Week Review

Having been on many adventures (with many more to come), I’ve always needed a good outlet to share my stories, whether that’s through blogging, drawing, or social media. Journaling seems to be the perfect fit, and with The Hero’s Journal, not only can you share your stories to look back on, but also plan your new adventures and goals.

Before we dive into my personal thoughts on the journal, I want to share a few interesting facts about it and what makes it so unique compared to other journals.

First off, let’s discuss the physical nature of the book. It has an amazing feel and texture to it. I’m not exactly sure what the material is made of, but it feels like some type of cloth or fabric. It features a hard cover underneath the cloth material, ensuring you won’t crease or damage it easily. On the front cover and side of the journal, you can find a golden sword embroidered onto the journal. The journal also features an elastic band to keep it shut, which also serves as a way to store your pen. Alongside the elastic band, the journal has a yellow bookmark strand to help keep track of which day or page you’re currently on. As for the pages themselves, the journal features bleed-proof pages, meaning you can use colored pencils, markers, ink, etc. to color in the pages or just simply write without having the ink bleed through. There are several different color options to choose from for your journal (Dragonfire Red, Wildwood Green, Mountain Grey and Royal Purple). I decided to go with Dragonfire Red, but you can choose from any of those options.

Moving on, The Hero’s Journal serves as a great organizer/ agenda. Featuring a daily to-do list and timed planner on each page, you can ensure that you’ll stay organized throughout the day. The to do list has three bullet points to “seize the day”. Basically you think of your three most important tasks to complete for that day and write them down. When you complete each task, you check it off of the list. The timed planner is a list from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and you just write what you need to get done throughout the day in their respective time slots. Each page features a section to write what you’re most grateful for, keeping you focused on the positive things throughout your day, and there is a section at the bottom of the page to write out your allies and obstacles, keeping your head straight with what hinders or helps you for your quest. Speaking of quest, let’s move on to the next topic.

The Hero’s Journal structures your life or journey by use of the hero’s journey. You can live your life like any movie or book icon, using a three act story structure. Act one contains the call to adventure, refusal of the call, and supernatural aid. Act to consists of crossing the threshold, road of trials, approach, ordeal, reward, magic flight, and the return. Act three deals with resurrection and resolution with the freedom to live. This is the basic “hero’s journey” structure, but the journal simplifies it just a bit. As you progress through your journey through this journal, the illustrations change to match your part of the adventure. There are also periodic reflection sections to reflect on your journey.

Now that we’ve discussed what truly makes this journal unique compared to other journals, let’s break down my actual thoughts on this product, starting with the pros.

First off, this journal is top quality in terms of design. I love the texture , I love the thickness of the paper inside and the fact that it looks and feels like something an adventurer would actually carry around. My favorite part about the outside of it, apart from it being red (my favorite color) is the gold swords. I love swords, and it feels like this journal really belongs to me by showing that off. Most journals I’ve had have come from places like Walmart. That’s not saying that notebooks or journals from stores like that are bad, but you really get what you pay for. Sure you could pay a couple dollars for a notebook, or you could pay $35 to $50 dollars for one of these and actually recieve something worthy of a review in the first place.

Moving on, I love the illustrations. It keeps you entertained while you write, as if you’re actually living in a storybook. With so many different characters (each with their own names, designs, and characteristics/ symbols) everything is created with a purpose in these drawings. Not only are the illustrations amazing, but you’re actually able to color in the drawings, personalizing your journal even further. I still have yet to color in my drawings, in fact I’ll get to that after writing this, but the fact that you can do that brings up my thoughts on this journal even further.

If I had to note one thing I wish could be improved on with this journal, it would be the amount of room given to write. I love writing, it’s the whole reason why I have this blog in the first place. 1/6th of the page is given to free-write. I do have this website to write whatever I want, but when buying this journal I was really expecting more room to physically write. The actual page design is still amazing, and besides the timed schedule, I like everything being where it is. If it was up to me, I would remove the schedule and add more room for notes and writing.

Overall, this journal is does a great job for what it’s made to do. Even with my one complaint, it was intended to be more of a planner than a notebook, meaning I can’t take off points for it being something of its own. I would give this journal a ten out of ten. I highly recommend it to any hero or adventurer out there

Major Dilemma

I used to go to university back in 2019. I left after only two weeks. Now I’m ready to go back, but I have a dilemma, a major dilemma (pun intended).

I used to go to university back in 2019. I left after only two weeks. Now I’m ready to go back, but I have a dilemma, a major dilemma (pun intended).

The reason I left school in the first place wasn’t because I’m lazy or don’t want to learn. It’s the exact opposite actually. There was to much I wanted to do and wanted to be, I just couldn’t choose. Not only that, but I felt as if I had no control, as if I was just another student of thousands, who would go to school to earn a degree and slave away for the rest of my life at an office desk. The teacher or professor would be lecturing the class while I doodled in my notebook and let my mind drift off as I stared out the window, imagining a golden valley behind those distant green hills. After leaving school, I found that valley. I live here now, and that valley is Phoenix. But I’m ready for more responsibility.

I can’t just work at the theater for the rest of my life. I love it, I love the people and I love movies, but there must be more. I’m enrolled into school now and must pick a major… what will it be? I could choose entrepreneurship and start my own business, or go with marketing which is a bit safer and eventually make a business of my own that way, or I could choose sociology. Now I’m looking back into journalism, as I just have this need to write, and if I could combine that with the stories of everyone and everything around me, that must be great right?

There are so many paths I could take, but I can only choose one. At least if I choose journalism, I can live a life as a writer in New York City, or potentially be a photographer, or photojournalist (the most likely outcome). As a journalist, I would be able to live in the Big Apple and have enough time for a family, and I would be able to travel a lot, something important to me. I would be able to let my creativity flow and I’d get to meet all these different people. Everyone has a story, and as much as I want to tell mine, there are so many people out there waiting to tell theirs, and I could help them tell them.

Chapter One: Superhuman Punching Bag (Second Draft)

My face wasn’t completely numb, but it was getting there. Brent’s goons surrounded me as he socked me in the face again. I fell against the cool chain linked fence and red brick wall. Something else besides my face hurt . Was that my rib sticking out? No, it wasn’t, but it sure felt like that.

My face wasn’t completely numb, but it was getting there. Brent’s goons surrounded me as he socked me in the face again. I fell against the cool chain linked fence and red brick wall. Something else besides my face hurt . Was that my rib sticking out? No, it wasn’t, but it sure felt like that.

“STOP!! Leave him alone!” Sophie exclaimed. She sounded like she was in more pain than I was.

Sophie is Brent’s girlfriend, or at least had been for the last month or so. Everyone says they’d be the perfect Prom Queen and King since Sophie is the leader of the cheerleading squad and Brent is the quarterback for our football team called the Warriors. He sure lived up to the strength of his title.

“Stay the hell out of this, Sophie!! This little shit has had it coming for a while!” Brent shouted back at her, refocusing his burning red eyes on me.

Brent and I have never really got along. I mean, everywhere I turn, he’s right there, ready to pick on me. There was even that time in the school lunchroom, no explanation needed. Or wanted. But if I’m going to be honest, I’m not just a punching bag, I hit back.

Brent kicked me a couple more times, knocking my head into the brick wall. He grabbed my hair, looking me in the eyes. I’ve never felt so defeated in my life, and I’ve been in some pretty nasty fights in the past.

“ What HAPPENS with me and my girl, STAYS between me and my girl, UNDERSTAND STICK?”.

I spat in his face, a little blood coming out. My lip must have definitely been busted, but at least I still had my teeth.

“Fuck off” I said. And that’s when I felt this jolt of energy. I lunged forward, hitting him in the face with my fist. He tried to catch himself but fell on the hard asphalt, hurting his three year old bum. He jumped back up to maintain his pride and ego.

I was now leaning against the fence, trying to stay up. His friends made moves towards me, but Brent halted them as he lightly laughed like a mad man. He looked at me, his chin held high, taking his eyes away from the floor and wiping the blood from the mark I left on his cheek. How did I cut him?

“One week away. Prom was one week away and you did this, huh?” Brent taunted me, half laughing, half serious. Something told me not to joke, but I couldn’t stop myself.

“ Don’t worry, I have some Hello Kitty band-aids in my back pocket just for you. Besides, you were never that good looking to begin with. You don’t deserve her”. I struggled to say that sentence. I was weak. 

The furious quarterback rushed forward, but was stopped by a familiar voice from down the parking lot.

“HEY!! What’s going on!?” 

Brent slipped at the sudden voice. I’d never been so glad to see Mark, but also never so afraid. Mark was smaller than me, he could easily lose a couple teeth with one swing. Then his manager stepped out. 

“ Get your asses off my damn property! ALL of you, before I call the cops! Or my baseball bat, they’re both one call away!” He shouted with his rough, traditional New York accent.

Billy, who had a short, scruffy beard and a “Billy’s Burgers” hat on, clenched his fists, pointing at the football players. They all looked at me, then each other, then took off into the long, narrow alleyway. There’s not a single person in this world who would dare to challenge Billy.

 “Hey kid, you alright?” Billy asked me as I slightly limped towards the burger joint. 

“Yea, I’ll be fine.” I said. “ They’ll be back, you know”.

 “ Yea, and I’ll be here waiting. Don’t even tell me what that was all about” he said. “Mark’s done when he’s finished with this trash. You can help him if you want the food. Or actually… just take a breather, you look rough”.

Billy always cheered me up with his tough yet caring demeanor. Doesn’t mean I want sympathy though. 

“ Yea, well, I started it. Or rather Brent did. It’s complicated, but I can take it”.

Billy chuckled at that last part.

“You’ve definitely got heart kid” he said.

Mark came around the corner with the trash, throwing it into the back dumpster.

“Jesus, dude, I thought you were a fighter. You look like absolute shit”.

” Thanks man, what a compliment”.

 It actually still hurt really bad, but I didn’t want to admit it. I definitely felt better though, I mean I’ve always had this low pain tolerance. That’s great, but most of it is due to me not whining about a scraped knee. 

“What was that even about?” Mark persisted 

“ Sophie. You know… look it doesn’t matter, just hurry up man, let’s take the food” 

I didn’t want to think of Sophie anymore, I just wanted to see Mr. Boyega at this point.

Mark clocked out and Billy gave us our elixir. A brown paper bag full of delicious food from the end of the day. we started making our way down towards my family’s Manhattan apartment. We weren’t too far away, just about one and a half city blocks down, but we always preferred to walk instead of taking the sub. The city is a beautiful thing when you actually stop and take a breath. Plus there are some pretty cool people to talk to along the way, like Mr. Boyega. His building is about half a block from Billy’s. It’s a brick building (like most buildings in Manhattan) with gargoyles on top . Mr. Boyega always sat on the front steps with his shopping cart next to him.

“Mr. Boyega!” Mark shouted for everyone to hear. “We have the goods!”

“Dude, shut up, we’re not drug dealers!” I said, trying to stifle my laughter. It even hurt to laugh right now. “Whatcha up to, man?”

“Nothin’ much here, whatcha boys got for me today?” Mr. Boyega asked with his signature raspy voice and smile. He was wearing his tattered green coat, with his walking cane sitting beside him.

Mr Boyega is awesome. He’s the kind of person you could talk to all day and he would just sit there listening, actually caring, and his stories are so interesting that he could own a whole library based on himself. That’s kind of hard to find in a city like this, at least the listening part. There are some pretty interesting people here, but most of it is the crazy type of interesting. He is genuine and pure. I wish I could be the kind of person Mr. Boyega is.

“We gotta lot. Even got you a happy meal” I said jokingly. “Naw it’s something though. I think we managed to get a hamburger or two so”.

Mark handed him the food and Mr. Boyega opened it quickly, almost as if he hadn’t eaten in days. He unwrapped the burger, spilling melted cheese onto his long grey beard. It would be sort of nasty in any other circumstance, but this was the man, Mr. Boyega.

His mouth was sort of full so he muttered ” Thanks, boys” in between his chewing. He gave us a thumbs up, and his smile gave the rest of his thoughts.

“Alright, thanks man, we’ll see you again soon. Hopefully you got another one of those war stories of yours I always love to hear” I replied. 

We started walking away, but Mr. Boyega gently grabbed my wrist. 

“ Daniel, you’re destined for more than I have. You’re destined for greatness. Make the right choice when given the opportunity” he said. Something felt off, almost as if he was possessed. That’s not the way he usually talks. I didn’t know exactly how to reply to that, so I barely muttered “Al…Alright, yea, thanks. I’ll make sure”. 

“Don’t worry, I got him sir” Mark said to him jokingly. He saluted the man and we took off.

” What was that all about?” Mark asked when we were far enough away.

“I have no idea, but I mean it’s Mr. Boyega. He’s always a bit weird”

We arrived at my front door. My building wasn’t anything special. I didn’t live in a nice town house or luxury condo. We lived in a simple beige brick building. I twisted the door knob, expecting to walk right through with a simple push, but the door remained still. 

“It’s locked” Mark the detective said. 

“Yea no shit” I replied, sounding pretty sarcastic. “My mom’s usually back by now, let’s just give it a bit” I continued. I looked around.

 “Alright, well what do we do?” Mark asked. 

“Let’s head up to the roof, just chill for a bit I guess”.

We climbed up the fire escape on the side of the building, making our way to the top of the building. It was a bit chilly up there but not too bad, I was wearing my favorite red jacket. The view from up there always makes it worth it. It honestly makes anything worth it, even the fight I got into today.

We could see down the long, wide lane of backed up traffic. The city is always louder on the ground. While you can hear the honks of the cars and wails of police sirens down below, there is a mix of peacefulness coming from within the clouds above. It’s a perfect blend of chaos and zen. It’s a place I like to go to clear my head.

I sat on the ledge, letting my feet dangle over the side of the building. Sometimes I envision myself jumping off and flying away like Superman, or swinging down like Spider-Man. Maybe I could stop the sirens I hear every night if I could do that.

“So, are you going to tell me what happened between you and Brent? Like the actual story?” Mark asked. He looked like a hipster with his yellow beanie and glasses.

Mark has been my best friend ever since the seventh grade. We’re currently Juniors in highschool, but that’s soon to change after these next few weeks. Even after all this time, I still tell Mark everything. He’s been there through everything with me, he was even there for me as I struggled with the loss of my missing father. Mark is the kind of person who will always side with you no matter what.

“Yea. I showed up to take the food to Mr. Boyega with you like we always do, but Brent was there. With Sophie. And it didn’t matter what she said, he kept trying to kiss her. So I ran in and got the dog shit kicked out of me”.

Kind of a quick explanation, but I really just didn’t want to talk about it right now.

“It was just a kiss man, there was like five or six of them and one of you. What did you expect? I mean yea, it was kind of badass, but stupid”.

“It wasn’t just a kiss though. She didn’t want it. Mark, tell me, if you seen a group of guys surrounding a helpless woman in an alleyway, and she clearly didn’t want to be in that situation, what would you call that. What would you do?”

Mark tried to answer, but was cut off by a sudden ringing from my phone. I raised the screen up to see who it was. I didn’t recognize it, it wasn’t in my contacts. But something told me to answer it. I put the phone up to my ear.

” Hello?”

” Daniel, you don’t have much time. They’re coming for us. They’re close”.

“What? Who is this? What are you talking about?”

How did this person know my name? Was I being stalked? And how did he have my number? The deep, mysterious voice continued speaking.

” Grab whatever you can carry. Anything essential. We have to…”

He was cut off by a loud, thunderous boom. The building shook. You would have thought it was a massive earthquake, but the rising smoke from a couple streets down told me otherwise.

“Oh shit…” Mark mumbled, trying to stay calm.

I looked down at my phone. The caller was disconnected.

” Mark, we need to get inside. I think…”

I was confused and terrified, because I had a sneaking suspicion.

” I think that was meant for us”.


Note- This is the second draft of the first chapter of my new book “The Destined Hero”. The name may change, but I am having so much fun writing it. Hopefully with each chapter I should be posting an update up until I’m finished, which by then I’ll delete all of it to try to get it published, so enjoy it while it’s here 🙂 The reason I’m writing this book is to have something to base a graphic novel off of, so by the end of this I’ll have one novel and one graphic novel. Let me know what you think and any improvements I can make. This is the second draft, so I feeling a lot better about it now, but a few more improvements could be made.

Chapter One: Superhuman Punching Bag

My face wasn’t completely numb, but it was getting there. Brent’s goons surrounded me as he socked me in the face again. I fell against the cool chain linked fence and red brick wall. Something else besides my face hurt . Was that my rib sticking out? No, it wasn’t, but it sure felt like that.

My face wasn’t completely numb, but it was getting there. Brent’s goons surrounded me as he socked me in the face again. I fell against the cool chain linked fence and red brick wall. Something else besides my face hurt . Was that my rib sticking out? No, it wasn’t, but it sure felt like that.

“Leave him alone, Brent! He didn’t do anything wrong!” Sophie exclaimed. 

Sophie is Brent’s girlfriend, or at least had been for the last month or so. Everyone says they’d be the perfect Prom Queen and King since Sophie is the leader of the cheerleading squad and Brent is the quarterback for our football team called the Warriors. He sure lived up to the strength of his title.

“Stay out of this, Sophie! This little shit has had it coming for a while!” Brent shouted back at her. 

Brent and I have never really got along. I mean, everywhere I turn, he’s right there, ready to pick on me. There was even that time in the school lunchroom, no explanation needed. Or wanted.

Brent kicked me a couple more times, hitting my head on the brick wall. He grabbed my hair, looking me in the eyes. I’ve never felt so defeated in my life, and I’ve been in some pretty nasty fights in the past.

“ What happens with my girl, stays between me and my girl, UNDERSTAND STICK?”.

I spat in his face, a little blood coming out. 

“Fuck off” I said. And that’s when I felt this jolt of energy. I lunged forward, hitting him in the face with my fist.

I was now leaning against the fence, trying to stay up. His friends made moves towards me, but Brent halted them as he lightly laughed  like a mad man. He looked up at me, wiping the blood from the mark I left on his cheek. 

“Do you realize that Prom is next week?! I gonna have to wear a bandaid now!” Brent shouted at me, half laughing, half serious. 

“ You were never that good looking to begin with, besides, what goes around comes around. You don’t deserve Sophie”. I struggled to say that sentence. I was weak. 

Brent rushed forward, but all of a sudden, someone shouted down the parking lot. “HEY!!” 

Brent slipped at the sudden voice. I’d never been so glad to see Mark, but also never so afraid. Mark was smaller than me, he could easily lose a couple teeth with one swing. Then his manager stepped out. 

“Hey! Get the fighting off my property! Mark, take out the trash, I’m not going to ask again!… AND I mean it. ALL of you, before I call the cops!” 

The manager, who had a scruffy beard and “Billy’s Burgers” hat on, pointed at the football players. They all looked at me, then took off into the darkness towards their cars. They couldn’t risk their scholarships for a simple bully session.

 “Hey kid, you alright?” The manager asked as I tried walking towards the diner. 

“Yea, I’ll be fine.” I said. “Is Mark almost done with his shift?”

 “Yea, he’s done as soon as he’s finished with this trash. I got the food for you guys, but I want you to help him finish up closing again; and don’t mind those Jocks. They’re bad news.”

Billy always cheered me up with his tough yet caring demeanor. Doesn’t mean I want sympathy though. 

“ Yea, well, I started it. Or rather Brent did. It’s complicated, but don’t worry, I can take it”.

Mark and I spent a couple of minutes taking out trash and scrubbing counters. It wasn’t all bad, the work, but we managed to get it done by around 2:30 P.M.

“ You sure you’re alright, Daniel? You just took a hell of beating and now you’re scrubbing counters with no effort… you’re a superhuman man.”

 It actually still hurt really bad, but I didn’t want to admit it. I definitely felt better though, I mean I’ve always had this low pain tolerance. That’s great, but most of it is due to me not whining about a scraped knee. 

“ Yes, I promise man, I’m good.” I replied. 

“What was that even about?” Mark persisted 

“ Sophie, Brent was making her uncomfortable again, but now I just let them go. You know… look it doesn’t matter, we’re almost done.” 

I didn’t want to think of Sophie anymore, I just wanted to see Mr. Boyega at this point.

We quickly finished our job and earned our reward. A brown bag full of delicious food that was going to be thrown out at the end of the day anyway.

Mark and I started making our way down towards my Manhattan apartment. We weren’t too far away, just about one and a half city blocks down, but we always preferred to walk instead of taking the sub. The city is a beautiful thing when you actually stop and take a breath. Plus there are some pretty cool people to talk to along the way, like Mr. Boyega.

“ Hey Mr. Boyega, what’s up!?” Mark exclaimed when he saw the man of the hour.

“Nothin’ much here, whatcha got for me today boys?” Mr. Boyega asked with his signature raspy voice and smile. 

Mr Boyega is awesome. He’s the kind of person you could talk to all day and he would just sit there listening, actually caring, and his stories are so interesting that he could own a whole library based on himself. That’s kind of hard to find in a city like this, at least the listening part. There are some pretty interesting people here, but most of it is the crazy type of interesting. He is genuine and pure. I wish I could be the kind of person Mr. Boyega is.

“We got a lot, I think there’s two hamburgers and some french fries among the bundle here” I said smiling back. 

Mark handed him the food and Mr. Boyega opened it quickly, almost as if he hadn’t eaten in days. He unwrapped the burger, spilling melted cheese onto his long grey beard. It would be sort of nasty in any other circumstance, but this was the man, Mr. Boyega.

“This is great, you kids never let me down. I wantcha to have a great weekend, you deserve it.” 

“Alright, thanks man, we’ll see you again soon. Hopefully you got another one of those war stories of yours I always love to hear” I replied. 

We started walking away, but Mr. Boyega gently grabbed my wrist. 

“Daniel, you’re great kids. You have a future. Whatever you do, make sure you make the right decision when it comes time” he said, looking straight into my soul. 

I didn’t know exactly how to reply to that, so I barely muttered “Al…Alright, yea, thanks. I’ll make sure”. 

“Don’t worry, I got him sir” Mark said to him jokingly. 

We continued our walk to my apartment.

We arrived at my front door. My building wasn’t anything special. I didn’t live in a nice town house or luxury condo. We lived in a simple beige brick building. I twisted the door knob, expecting to walk right through with a simple push, but the door remained still. 

“It’s locked” Mark the detective said. 

“Yea no shit” I replied, sounding pretty sarcastic. “My mom’s usually back by now, she must be running late” I continued.

 “Alright, well what do we do?” Mark asked. 

“Let’s head up to the roof, just chill for a bit I guess”.

We climbed up the fire escape on the side of the building, making our way to the top of the building. It was a bit chilly up there but not too bad. The view from up there always makes it worth it. It honestly makes anything worth it, even the fight I got into today.

From up there we could see down the long, wide lane of backed up traffic. The city is always louder on the ground. While you can hear the honks of the cars and wails of police sirens down below, there is a mix of peacefulness coming from within the clouds above. It’s a perfect blend of chaos and zen. It’s a place I like to go to clear my head.

I sat on the ledge, letting my feet dangle over the side of the building, while Mark checked his phone. 

“So, are you going to tell me what happened between you and Brent? Like the actual story?” 

Mark has been my best friend ever since the seventh grade. We’re currently Juniors in highschool, but that’s soon to change after these next few weeks. Even after all this time, I still tell Mark everything. He’s been there through everything with me, he was even there for me as I struggled with the loss of my missing father. Mark is the kind of person who will always side with you no matter what.

“Yea. I showed up to take the food to Mr. Boyega with you like usual, but Brent was there with Sophie in the parking lot, and she was uncomfortable. And it didn’t matter what she said, he kept trying to kiss her. And… when he was rejected, he let his friends all over her. So I ran in and got the dog shit kicked out of me. And she’s still out there with them. I could have stopped it, Mark, but now she’s with them. I could have stopped it”.

“It was just a kiss man, you could have got hurt. Like more hurt than you are now, I guess” he awkwardly said. 

“It wasn’t just a kiss though. He was all over her”. I had to change the topic. “Mom should be home by now, I’m gonna call her” I said. 

I pulled my phone out, letting my phone ring as I awaited her response. What I instead got shocked me, sending my adrenaline into overdrive. It wasn’t her. It was a man I’ve never heard before. And he knew my name.

“Daniel, it’s time we met”.


Note- This is the first draft of the first chapter of my new book “The Destined Hero”. The name may change, but I am having so much fun writing it. Hopefully with each chapter I should be posting an update up until I’m finished, which by then I’ll delete all of it to try to get it published, so enjoy it while it’s here 🙂 The reason I’m writing this book is to have something to base a graphic novel off of, so by the end of this I’ll have one novel and one graphic novel. Let me know what you think and any improvements I can make, this is nowhere near the final version, just a first draft.