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The Fisher of Stories


Jacob awoke suddenly, just before six a.m., gripped by a panic that was the direct result of a nightmare.

In his dream, he’d been in a shootout for his life. That’s all he really remembered, the details were fuzzy; gossamer threads still hung around his mind, but unlike spider silk, they broke quickly, leaving more questions than answers.

In the dream, after his gun emptied, his pursuer had dropped her gun, then walked over to him and kissed him on the cheek. Already the face of his pursuer had gone, his fear-drenched mind worried about a real-life threat instead.

But who kisses someone after a gunfight?

Jacob glanced over at his wife, who seemed to be breathing heavily. His immediate reaction was guilt—he was married and shouldn’t be kissing other women in his dreams—but then he realized she wasn’t privy to his nightmare.

He listened closely, and as he did, he became aware of a another sensation. The bed he was lying in, the air around him…the entire room seemed to be vibrating. It was as if something was producing the exact resonance frequency of not only every fixture in the room, but of his body as well.

His wife’s breath quickened and took on a whimpering quality, and Jacob thought for a moment maybe she was aware of the vibrations as well, but she slept soundly. Jacob found pride to be an effective blockade; he couldn’t reach out for her, and he couldn’t call her name. He was afraid that any movement or sound would wake him further, and he would discover he was still dreaming, and would look foolish for waking his wife for something as simple as a nightmare.

Besides, she’d only make him go get a glass a water, and that would mean getting out of bed at six a.m.

The vibration intensified.

Jacob lay there, unmoving, in a paralyzed panic, while the pulsing vibrato in his ears reached a feverish level, drowning out everything, reducing his world to a staccato timpani. Anxiety took hold. Short, ragged breaths escaped him. His temperature rose and his sweat turned icy.

For whatever reason, Jacob decided The Rapture was happening.

He had no idea why his thoughts led to The Rapture. Having been raised in church, he was no stranger to the concept, and he believed it fully, knowing one day it would happen. But on a Wednesday morning in August? And just before he was about to start a new job? Surely not.

His mind raced to pull up the details of The Rapture and what he’d been taught. Wasn’t there supposed to be a trumpet? Where in Revelations was the part about weird dreams leading to vibrations? Maybe he’d slept through the trumpet. Maybe he was left behind. But why was his wife left behind too?

He’d played poker the night before. Was that a sin? Did that cost him his soul? Surely not. Would his Internet history give him away? That gave him a nasty knock. Was it too late to ask forgiveness for a few things? How did Kirk Cameron handle this? Wait, how did Nic Cage handle this? Would he be able to get his hands on a copy of The Omega Code?

The last thing to go through Jacob’s mind—besides a blade from his malfunctioning ceiling fan—was that maybe he was being silly, and nothing was wrong after all.

We all know I’m pretty new to this parenting thing. We’ve had our children for just a bit over a year now, and I’m constantly reminded (particularly by my mother) that there is a lot more to learn.

But there’s been a breakthrough. I have news, y’all. The kind of news that you see at first and you think, “Oh wow, that’s awful,” but then you secretly try it later just to see if I’m serious. And it turns out, that even though what I’m about to tell you is based on common knowledge, I haven’t heard of it being used before. This has led me to two different conclusions.

1. What I’m doing is groundbreaking and I should receive a Nobel Prize for it.


2. What I’m doing may in fact be slightly illegal and I’ll be put in jail for it.

At this point, I’m really wanting to lean towards that whole “Nobel Prize” thing. Mostly because I don’t think I’d do well inside the prison industrial complex. I’m not a fighter, and in prison, you’re either a fighter or you’re the guy the others guys fight over and then proceed to Andy Dufresne the mess out of you in the shower, in the movie projector room, or out by the tool shed.

“I wish I could tell you that Andy fought the good fight and the Sisters let him be.”

I just want to chase a quick rabbit. If you read the rest of this blog in Morgan Freeman’s voice, I really think it might soften the impact of the incredible news I’m going to share with you. So go on, get in character. I’ll wait.
Alright, so the other day, our children went out back with our niece to swim in one of those little turtle swimming pools that are about three inches deep and have a tiny slide. We’ve all seen them. It’s the kind of pool that white trashy people put in their front yard right out by the street and let all the neighborhood children come pee play in. I’m proud to say my brother keeps his in the back yard.
About twenty minutes into the “swimming,” our son comes up to the door, and he’s shaking like a Republican in a Pentecostal church. The Missus immediately runs to get him a towel, yelling something like, “He’ll catch his death of the cold, bless my soul!” Apparently, seeing a shaking child turns my wife into a housewife with big skirts from a 1960’s TV sitcom.
I, on the other hand, observed the situation. I noticed the fine details. Mostly, I noticed the fine detail that our son wasn’t talking for the first time in two weeks. He couldn’t talk. You could tell he wanted to talk, he wanted to talk about leaves, and why he was cold, and tell us that he knew a bunch of stuff, and colors, and all the scuttlebutt down by the “pool,” but he couldn’t. He was shaking too hard.
Something in my mind clicked.
Then, The Missus rushed by with a towel, muttering something about the vapors, and wrapped her precious baby up in it, drying him off, and showing him all the love that she used to have for me.
And my brain just kept right on spinning.
“Travis. Hey, Travis. If he can’t talk when he gets cold, this could mean a whole new dynamic in car rides. You’ve got to do some research here, Sloat. You have a responsibility to God, the people of the world, and your sanity to do something about this. If you don’t, you’ll go to your grave never feeling like the successful person I let you think you are.”
So I searched for the opportunity to research.
It just so happened that yesterday after church, it was just the children and I in the car driving home. We got in, and they were so excited, their little heads filled with bible stories, and their little endocrine systems full of sugary drinks. They just kept talking. Talking to me, talking to each other, talking to themselves, it didn’t matter. They just wanted to talk.
Just another aside, but they are ALWAYS talking. I think, and this is Travis Sloat being real here, that this has got to be the worst thing about kids. They constantly talk. When we first got them, I thought, “Man, this will keep my conversation wit quick.” Now, a year later, I’m trying to watch a National Geographic special on Blue Whales, and the announcer says, “This, a Blue Whale, is the most majestic creature on the earth, and also the largest, with a length of about 30 meters and a heart the size of a small car.” And I’m thinking, “Wow. A car.” And our son, our wonderful, precocious son, is sitting there, soaking it all in, and I’m thinking, “I’m a dang good parent, letting our kid watch this kind of nature stuff.” And then I realize that if there are animals, and this is NatGeo, that sooner or later there will be a mating scene, and I’m not quite sure if I’m ready to deal with that just yet, and our son, he just looks at me, points at the TV, and says, “I know what that is, that’s a Blue Whale. It’s majestic.”
100% disclosure? Their talking will be why I die at forty.
But back to the car after church. They’re talking, and they won’t shut up, and I think, “Now would be a great time to test this theory I have.” So I crank the AC up full blast.
The only way this eventually works is if The Missus isn’t in the car. Anytime I turn the AC on with her in the car, she just looks at me, rolls her eyes, and either turns it down or shuts her vents off. Meanwhile, I’m sweating like I just ran a 5k.
So the AC is on, and nothing is happening. Of course, it’s 98 degrees outside, so I have to give it a minute. Finally, the car starts cooling off to the point where it’s getting chilly. Still, the talking continues.
Then, the staccato pace turns to a heavy machine gun pace, and I think, “Is this working?”
As the car nears a temperature rivaling that of a walk-in food storage freezer, the conversation grinds to a halt like a car running out of gas, and stops suddenly.
I can’t believe it. I looked back, and both of them had just stopped talking, almost mid-sentence, and were SLOWLY FALLING ASLEEP.

“So there was this one guy, named Jonah, and he was…umm…mmmfdhjalfda…nnnn.”

Folks, I don’t have to tell you how big of a breakthrough this is. Houses will be permanently chilly, cars will be filled with dry ice on long road trips, and schools will have classes outside in the winter. It will revolutionize the “children should be seen and not heard” sentiment of generations past that somehow got lost, for which I blame Barney.
Of course, there are still side effects to consider, such as an increased tissue budget, as well as an increase in cold medications. But you have to ask yourself. “Is a quiet child worth a little hypothermia?” If your answer is yes, then I suggest you start your own research.
I just have to make sure it isn’t actually child abuse first.
“When you get there,” said The Missus, “and you’re looking at the ocean, it doesn’t matter how bad of a trip you had. You just feel peace. Everything just melts away.”

Reagan chimed in next.

“You mean like the turnpike?”

Everyone laughed, but I was the only one who felt a small twinge in my brain, reminding me just how close I’d come to the edges of my sanity after a fourteen hour road trip and a road that wasn’t there…

A long time ago, I had a thing. That thing? It was called “Memoir Monday,” and it was huge. It was my baby, and I let it die when I took a blogging break. I’m not saying my baby has come back to life, but I thought I’d give it a bit of the ol’ CPR and see what happens. I’ll make a new button later. For now, enjoy this memoir, and maybe think of your own, for the time may come where I’m asking for link ups again. 

The story really should start with Voxer. I’m sure some of you have heard of this app. Basically, it’s a walkie talkie that enables PTT (push to talk) on your iOS or Android device. You select a friend or group of friends, hit the button, and boom, you’re talking with them.

So when I suggested to the families going with us on our vacation that we should be using walkie talkies to communicate instead of cell phones, this is what was suggested.

“Travis, just download Voxer. It’ll work great. We don’t have the money for walkie talkies.”

Now I’ve been avoiding the Voxer for one very good reason. I hate talking to people on my phone. I hate phone calls. Text me, email me, Facebook me, Twitter me (heh), but DO NOT call me. I simply hate your voice. It’s not just you though, it’s everyone. Call it a quirk, whatever.

So I download Voxer, thinking, “Alright, I’ll get it for the trip, and then delete it, and no one will know.”

I could not have been more wrong. Fifteen seconds after I download it, my phone chirps at me.

“So and so is now voxing at you!”

That’s how I looked at my phone when that happened.

Then I get another Vox. Then another. Turns out, eighteen million folks got a notification when I downloaded the app. So, thanks Voxer, I see privacy is really high up on your priority list.

After finally getting everyone to shut up and leave me alone, it was time to head out on vacation.
Fourteen hours and six thousand Voxer beeps later, we get to Florida.
It wasn’t all bad. At one point, we had this idiot from Georgia that thought she’d tuck in with our convoy and use us as cop protection, and we used Voxer to communicate how to get her top speed down to about six miles an hour. That was fun.
It also came in handy for bathroom breaks, pit stops, lunch plans, etc.
But as we drove into Florida, things sort of hit a breaking point for me.
Our GPS told us to take a turn to go get the keys for the condo. This was a turn no one else was making, but it was our GPS, so we trusted it.
We drove about two miles in the COMPLETE WRONG DIRECTION before our GPS said, “Oh, that’s my bad, you’re going the wrong way, make a legal u-turn and let’s go get those keys.”
Meanwhile, my Voxer is making more noise than two cats making the sweet, sweet love under your windowsill on an otherwise completely calm night.
I was occupied with the driving task, so I was ignoring it. Then I was mad because our GPS is dumber than a bag of wet hammers, and so I was ignoring it.
At this point, I still trusted my GPS. I was mad at it, but hey, I get mad at The Missus, and I still trust her, right?
So when our GPS told us to take a turn to get on the turnpike, I did it without asking any questions whatsoever. I was slightly pissed about spending five bucks to cross a friggin’ bridge, but I was ready to get to our destination.
About that time, the Voxer set a new record for most Voxers in a second. My phone was chirping like a bird with a  squirrel in its nest.
I made a final turn to get on the turnpike…and the road was gone.
There wasn’t a road.
My GPS, God love her, was saying, “Hey man, just go straight. You’re so close. I can feel this road. Just two seconds further, we’re there.”
The road wasn’t there.
The Voxer, at this point, had burned through about sixty-five percent of my battery just with the noises it was making.
Folks, I’m sorry to say, I lost it.

I opened my eyes slowly, I looked at my wife, and I said, “How big is that sidewalk?”
“Travis…you’re going to tear my car up…”
I reached down, grabbed my phone, and turned it off. I pulled slowly back onto the road, and I found the turnpike.
The Missus picked up her phone.
“Umm…hey. Yeah, guys? Travis is really, really mad right now. He has his phone turned off. If y’all need something, can you just call me? That’d be a lot better right now. We’ll be there in a few minutes.”

As I rolled to a stop at the turnpike toll booth, I looked politely up at the gentleman who took my money and asked, “Hey man, how many people do you have a day come through here that are pissed about that road that doesn’t exist?”

He replied, “I can’t even count, man.”

I stared at him for a couple more seconds, honestly contemplating how much trouble I’d get in for dragging him from that booth, and beating him mercilessly to the rhythmic beeping of Voxer while screaming, “MAKE A SIGN! MAKE A $#$#*$#&()%$# SIGN!” And then I drove off.

We finally pulled up, an hour later, keys to the condo in hand. I looked at everyone and addressed the situation.
“If y’all will give me till tomorrow without talking about this, I’ll be fine. I just need to calm down and see the ocean.”
Everyone quietly looked at me and nodded their heads.
Then Reagan. Dear, sweet, Reagan…looks at me with a straight face and says,
“Was it the turnpike?”

And it turns out, all of them had done the exact same thing, and all those Voxers were them trying to tell me not to take that road, because it was the road…the road that doesn’t exist.

I still have Voxer on my phone, but I probably won’t talk to you on it unless you have a foreign accent or you’re a celebrity. I keep meaning to delete it, but I’ve never gotten around to it. Seriously though, just text me. 

So I’m stressed.

Tomorrow we have to go to the last class, which consists of a potluck dinner and listening to a bunch of kids tell us about how they’ve aged out of the program because no one wanted them.


They want us (people who are willing to adopt) to sit through a panel of teenagers who no one wanted. I honestly don’t think I’ll make it through tomorrow without crying like a 10 year old schoolgirl who has just been punched in the arm by the boy who likes her. I’ve made it through 4 classes and countless horrifying and terrible statistics without shedding so much as a tear, but I know tomorrow will break me.

We had our first Home Visit Monday, and to be honest it felt like a 2 hour verbal rectal examination. I think this coming Monday will be worse. We’re at the end of the process folks. You know that old saying about tying a knot in the end of the rope and hanging on? I’ve got the knot tied, but I’m struggling to maintain the strength to hold on. I’m not funny anymore. I’ve pretty much given up on the comedy thing for now. I’m gaining all my weight back that I lost. I’m taking things out on friends. I’m taking things out on my readers.

I’m stressed.

But I’m not stressed because I’m doing something I’m not supposed to be doing. I’m stressed because I’m taking the biggest leap of my life. I’m about to claim responsibility for the lives of two children. Two people who will look to me for guidance and understanding about why the world has treated them so badly. Two people who will call me daddy and love me unconditionally, until they’re teenagers when they will hate me unconditionally.

We’ll more than likely be included in the meeting the Case Managers have in December to pick out available kids we might like. Which means that if we make a decision in December, we might have kids before Christmas.


Will this be my first Christmas with children?

Also, the adoption is not finalized until six months after we get the children. You know what can happen in that six months? A long lost family member can suddenly show up and take our kids away from us. No consideration on our part, just, “Well, thanks for watching them, they’re going home now.”


How would we be expected to recover from that? I can’t, and I WON’T compare it to a miscarriage, because I don’t think it’s even close to the same. However, I will say that it is probably the next worst thing. About the time you are starting to realize how much you love YOUR kids, they can get taken away. I don’t think that’s right at all, and I pray every day that this never happens to us.

But what if it does?

What if after we adopt Alicia gets pregnant?

What if the kids have some sort of undiagnosed problem when we get them?

What if I lose my job?

What if, what if, what if?

I know y’all don’t have the answers. I don’t expect you to be able to comfort or console me, and I don’t expect there to be much more tolerance of these “non-funny” blogs, although some would argue they never were funny to begin with.

The Missus told me today that she likes to read my blogs because I always say more on here than I do in real life. I guess that’s true. I’ve always liked to write as opposed to talk. After she reads this, she may realize that she’s bringing children into a household with a crazy man and run off and leave me. I can’t say that I’d blame her.

I’m ready, y’all. I am. Don’t get me wrong. I’m ready to be a daddy. I’m ready for sleepless nights and diapers and giving advice on how to properly start fires. I’m ready to discipline, I’m ready to teach, I’m ready to learn. The thing is, all that is coming at me faster than your mom, and right now I’m just stressed about it. It’s okay to be stressed though. Surely I’m not the only would-be parent that’s stressed about it. And I don’t think I’ll be the last.

So bear with me and give me some time, and I’ll turn this whole thing around to where it was, only maybe a little cleaner because my kids might one day stumble over this jewel, and I don’t want them getting the wrong impression of their dad.

Geez. I’ve got to go hide my archives.