Tag Archives: georgia

Losing Jekyll’s Oceanside Inn and Suites is Going to Be Hard

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Oceanside Inn and Suites

The Oceanside Inn and Suites on Jekyll Island will be gutted this summer to make way for a Holiday Inn Resort.

Oceanside Inn and Suites, near the northern end of Jekyll Island, Ga., is a dated, at times dilapidated, somewhat threadbare old motel.

I love it there.

Built in 1958 as the Wanderer, the resort is a vestige of Jekyll Island’s roots as an affordable beach destination for Georgia’s families. It was old – as many properties on the island are old – but that added to its charm: unassuming, quietly distinguished, timeless.

My wife and I discovered Oceanside Inn and Suites a year after we married. We’d been to Jekyll together once before, staying in a small condo at Villas by the Sea for a long weekend. Tight finances precluded us from taking a honeymoon just after our wedding, and so for our first anniversary, we saved up some coin and booked ourselves a beach vacation on our beloved Jekyll Island.

One of the last examples of affordable beach vacations for Georgia's families will be stripped to its concrete bones and reborn by Spring 2014.

One of the last examples of affordable beach vacations for Georgia’s families — the Oceanside Inn and Suites — will be stripped to its concrete bones and reborn by Spring 2014.

For a price that I recall being surprisingly affordable, we booked a lanai suite at Oceanside, complete with a king-sized bed, a couch, table and chairs, television, balcony overlooking the ocean and an in-suite hot tub big enough to accommodate at least six people. On our anniversary, the staff brought a bottle of champaign and a box of chocolates to our room, all complimentary, being touched that we were celebrating the occasion at their property.

Several more trips followed. (In fact, according to my wife’s calculations, we might even have conceived our 4-year-old daughter there.) Some were more magical than others. One year, the bugs were particularly bad. Another was windy and cold most of the time.

The thing about Jekyll Island is, there’s not a helluvalot to do there. There’s a beach, and the hotels and motels have swimming pools. There’s a liquor store and an IGA for groceries. There are some pretty nice, flat bicycle paths (if you’re into that sort of thing), and the historic Millionaires Village is beautiful. There’s also a water park, again, if you’re into that sort of thing. A few restaurants.

That’s one reason I like it so much; I get to relax without feeling like I’m missing anything. It’s a slow and easy vacation, with plenty of time to sit by the ocean – the real ocean, none of this Gulf of Mexico crap – and read. At dinner time, go find a place to eat fried shrimp until you’re sick. It’s great, really.

That is changing, with the island’s new convention center opening and hotels starting to slowly take notice after years of polite disregard. A couple of the grand old resorts already have been torn down, and one new hotel, a Hampton Inn, opened on the island in the last few years.

But the island’s legacy is that of an affordable beach vacation for Georgia’s families. That’s what Gov. Melvin Thompson visualized when the state purchased the island in 1947. (The state condemned the island and bought it from the nearly-defunct Jekyll Island Club for $675,000 – a tidbit for the history buffs.)

New properties and new life on the island is good news for the Jekyll Island Authority, which administers the island and must do so with no financial support from the state (the state having since gotten out of the “affordable-beach-vacation-for-Georgia’s-working-poor” game). It means there will be more revenue for more improvements to draw more visitors to make more revenue.

Oceanside Inn and Suites pool

The pool at the Oceanside Inn and Suites on Jekyll Island, Ga.

It also means that people like me – albeit a minority – who enjoy a cozy older venue that harkens back about two generations and offers pretty wonderful amenities at a reasonable price will be left without much reason to go to Jekyll Island anymore.

The Oceanside Inn and Suites went above and beyond to make us welcome. It was not pretentious, it was not elegant. It had free Wi-Fi, and that was awesome, and a hot tub in a room that overlooked the ocean. You could sit on the balcony of your second-floor suite and watch the sunrise. Sometimes, you could see dolphins in the distant waves. You could get drunk and stumble over to the Sandbar and Grill for a bite to eat. You could have beer for breakfast and make a baby. It was pretty awesome.

I’m sorry to see it go. I’m sorry that I’ve likely spent my last night there, and I’m deeply sorry for the staff who have always been so good to my wife and I, and to our daughter who stayed there with us the last time we went and swam in the six-person hot tub in our lanai suite.

The last time we stayed, the rooms had been refurbished, the carpet and furnishings were clean and new, the swimming pool was a spotless blue, the grounds were meticulously maintained and the property looked every bit to have a bright future. In August 2013, it will be gutted to its concrete skeleton and remade into a 155-room Holiday Inn. It won’t be nearly the value it was, and the patina of that neat old 1950s motel will be scrubbed away. It won’t be the same.

I hope, however, that it will at least have a lanai suite, on the second floor, with a view over the dunes to the ocean beyond, and a large hot tub and balcony. I hope the people who work at Oceanside Inn and Suites will have a place with the Holiday Inn, and maybe be making a little more money than the Oceanside could pay.

I wish you the best, and thank you for the fantastic memories.

Remembering Lithia Springs

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During the weekend, the Douglas County Sentinel ran an article looking back on the brief and colorful history – and dissolution – of the city of Lithia Springs.

I was, at that time, a cub reporter for the local daily, and spent many an hour in a chair in what passed for the chambers of the Lithia Springs City Council, recording for our readers a city’s death throes. It left a lasting impression on me of a resident’s relationship with a municipal government. But, more than that, it left me with some wonderfully idiotic stories.

Picture, if you will, the great centers of government now established throughout Douglas County. The Douglas County Courthouse, constructed in the 1990s, features a domed rotunda complete with the inspiring words of the preamble to the Constitution spiraling down it. In Douglasville, the city’s business is conducted in what was, when I was young, O’Neal’s, which is where my Granny bought me my husky Levis for school. Prior to that, it was the Alpha – a movie theater still recalled by many long-time residents for its “Coloreds Only” balcony. Now, the old space on a corner of downtown’s historic area looks out over a beautifully fashioned plaza and, soon, a new downtown convention center.

Douglas County Courthouse

The Douglas County Courthouse -- a fine, and still fairly new, home for government operations. In Lithia Springs, they had Ty Hall. It wasn't like this.

In Lithia Springs, city bid’ness was conducted around back of an old hardware store.

Seriously.

A gravel parking lot, a flagpole dedicated by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a dumpster and an old SUV with the city seal on the door and “CODE ENFORCEMENT” painted on the fender stood in place of the statues and memorials many have come to expect before government buildings. The story of the city, however, was sadly detailed by the blocks upon which the city’s lone government vehicle – the SUV – had been lovingly placed.

To conduct formal city business inside, such as council meetings and court, the desks of the city’s handful of employees – a code enforcement officer, a secretary, and someone who probably handled filing or something like that – were pushed aside and folding tables were set up. These were the city council’s dais.

By the time I began attending the city council meetings, then-Mayor Brian Hilton had resigned (surprisingly, not under allegations of impropriety; rather, he was seeking to advance his political career and left to run for a seat in the General Assembly).

That left Mayor Pro Tem Johnny Poole to assume the gavel and the formal obligations of the mayor. A mayor pro tem is sort of a vice president; a member of the legislature (the city council) who fills-in for the mayor if he or she cannot attend a meeting and serves as mayor should he or she be incapacitated, expelled from office or resign. However, the mayor pro tem does not become mayor – rather, he or she serves as mayor until a new mayor is elected.

Mayor Pro Tem Poole, however, saw it differently; he was doing the job of the mayor, and he was serving as mayor pro tem. So, with the powers of mayor, he began to pay himself the salary of both. Just as one cannot be in two places at once, however, one also cannot hold – and be reimbursed for – holding two elected positions in city government.

Adding to the mix was that Mayor Pro Tem Poole often appeared, I don’t want to say inebriated, but a bit, er, staggered at city council meetings. But then, perhaps overseeing the business of running the great municipality of Lithia Springs would leave anyone glossy-eyed.

There was one man on the city council who seemed to make sense. He was a good guy, always showing up in a suit, actively participating in the discussions. One night, the council adjourned into executive session – that is, to conduct business in private, which happens often when personnel issues are being discussed. And, as it happens, city council members are considered “personnel.”

Since the whole city facility was essentially the city council chamber, and since the weather outside was inclement that evening, the council was kind enough to adjourn themselves to the small, windowless office of the mayor rather than forcing all in attendance out into the muddy parking lot to mill around the city SUV on blocks. By then, mind you, the city council’s antics had begun to draw quite a crowd of spectators.

At the close of the executive session, said councilman returned to his seat, scrawled a letter of resignation on the napkin under his cup, handed it to Mayor Pro Tem Poole, and walked out into the night, never to be seen at a city council meeting again.

The mayor pro tem struggled to focus on the councilman’s handwriting – probably because of the poor lighting, lousy penmanship and farsightedness as opposed to being under the influence of anything in particular – and announced that it appeared the councilman had resigned, effective immediately.

Above the front – and, I believe, only – door to the city’s municipal complex was a sign that read “CITY HALL.” It was painted on particle board. After an especially vigorous storm, with lots of wind and rain, the sign was damaged, the particle board ripped and the first two letters blew away. It was never repaired. Rather, the city – without the revenues to repair its roads much less its sign – simply began to call the facility “TY HALL.”

Finally, the city died. Residents elected a mayor, in the person of Glenda James, who had resolved herself to be the bullet that brought down the leviathan of Lithia Springs. Mayor James, who had been a vocal participant in the city council meetings from the peanut gallery and who, I’m sure, had been escorted out into the gravel lot at least once and most likely more often by the sheriff’s deputy who began to be required to police the raucous meetings (the city not having a police force of its own, thank God) began the work of dissolving the city.

Residents sued, alleging the city was not providing enough services to justify its existence. In Georgia, an incorporated municipality (as opposed to an unincorporated part of a county) is required to provide a certain number of services beyond what the county provides. Often, this means something along the lines of trash collection, perhaps utility services (Austell operates a natural gas company) or its own fire department. Lithia Springs had a couple of guys with a bucket of gravel and a shovel. They were the Roads Department. Everything else – EMS, police, fire rescue, etc. – they contracted with the county to provide. Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputies patrolled the streets and answered calls. Douglas County Fire Rescue personnel provided fire protection and ambulance services. Various large projects were contracted to the county, often at a friendly discount. Outside of the pure entertainment value of the city council, there wasn’t much reason for Lithia Springs to exist, and a Douglas County Superior Court judge agreed.

The city’s only recourse was to provide more services, which would require more revenue. More revenue would require leveraging a city property tax, the absence of which was one reason many in the city had voted for incorporation. Suffice to say, with the threat of a city-mandated property tax looming, residents voted overwhelmingly to dissolve the city. The county’s local delegation to the General Assembly – the representatives and senators whose districts included some portion of the county – introduced legislation to dissolve the city (lacking sovereignty, cities and counties exist at the pleasure of the state, and only the state can create or destroy a city or county). The legislation carried pretty much unanimously, as most local legislation does (or did back in the day, anyway) and the city ceased to be.

The county came to collect what remained of the city’s assets. The commission chairman and the county commissioner who represented the eastern part of the county watched as crews loaded filing cabinets into the back of box trucks. They even towed away the old code enforcement SUV. The doors to Ty Hall were locked, and the era (or error) of Lithia Springs came to an end.

Last time I drove past, the hardware store was gone, and a computer repair shop was in its place. The times, they are a’changing. But still, in downtown Lithia Springs, stands the ornate clock in a green patch of grass between Highway 78 and the railroad tracks – a reminder of the city that was and, with incorporation run amuck in metro Atlanta – might one day be again.

Douglasville Mayor Thompson Near-Sighted on TSPLOST

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Douglasville Mayor Mickey Thompson seems to have misgivings about the upcoming TSPLOST vote, and does not feel that the city, nor the western part of Douglas County, have been adequately represented in the allocation of funds possibly raised by approval of this one-cent sales tax.

To refresh your memory, earlier this year, the Georgia General Assembly passed a law allowing citizens in huge swaths of the state to vote on referendums that would impose a 1 percent sales tax in their respective swaths, with the tax going to fund a number of predetermined transportation projects.

Now, coming up soon, the registered voters of Georgia will have the opportunity to decide whether or not we will tax ourselves for one cent on every dollar we spend to improve the region’s transportation, with new road projects, new infrastructure and even a rail line or two, maybe.

But Thompson, who was part of the committee that had a voice on what projects would and would not be funded, now says that Douglas County will be a “donor county” in the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or TSPLOST, with 78 percent of the money the county would pay into TSPLOST being returned to fund projects within the county.

Thompson’s solution to the city’s transportation troubles appears to focus on building more four-lane roads, more interstate off-ramps and funneling more traffic into the black hole built on top of wetlands that is the local mall.

Douglasville has long had an “if you build it, they will come” attitude about transportation, structuring unnecessary four-lane roads here and there in the hopes of attracting development. To their credit, development has come; though it was almost all retail, which supplies low-paying jobs and works only when people actually have money to spend. Now, the city is once more in the midst of a glut of existing, vacant “big-box” development. Big box development is what you might think of when you consider the vacant Wal-Mart on Stewart Parkway, or the empty Hi-Fi Buys on Douglas Boulevard next to Outback Steakhouse, or the empty Circuit City at The Landing at Arbor Place, or countless other places throughout the city. Unlike smaller retail spaces, big box stores cannot be relatively easily filled with boutique clothing outlets, second-hand stores or hobby shops, simply owing to their immense size and square footage. It’s damn hard to fill a Wal-Mart if you’re not already a Wal-Mart, and with the exception of Big Lots, most retailers have little interest in setting up where another has failed. Often, then, these retail outlets would rather build their own, new development, which will itself be rendered vacant when hard times come calling and they once more pack up and leave town.

Another function of big box retailers is that they serve as “anchors” for a residential development. Most of their business is incidental, from people stopping in on their way to the Wal-Mart or Kmart or Target or Publix or Kroger. Without an anchor, it’s hard for a smaller retail operation to survive because the sheer traffic going past their storefront is so greatly diminished.

In Thompson’s view, an Interstate 20 interchange is needed at Bright Star Road to help relieve traffic at Highway 5 and Chapel Hill Road. This is, perhaps, the idea the city had when it built the seldom-traveled Bright Star Road Connector: pull traffic off of I-20, send it down Bright Star Road to Wal-Mart or down Douglas Boulevard to the mall. In an interview published in today’s Douglas County Sentinel, Thompson cites statistics to how many cars use the current interstate interchanges, though I gather the mayor has precious little concern for the fact that his vision constructs an interstate interchange in a residential area, streaming traffic past the homes of county residents who are not (yet) part of his jurisdiction.

His honor’s worries stop at the city limits, and that’s a problem.

Even if just 78 percent of what Douglas County puts into the TSPLOST is returned, the remaining 22 percent is nonetheless going to improve transportation in our region, making it easier for people who travel outside of the county’s boarders (and since Douglasville has done such an abysmal job in growing well-paying local jobs, most of us do travel beyond the county lines frequently, or even daily). And for those county and city residents idled by slashed transportation budgets, this means work – jobs, laying asphalt and installing traffic lights and generally working again. (Also, though no one’s hardly said it, this is a good time to get some transportation improvements done on the cheap while costs are depressed. It’s a bargain for taxpayers overall.)

Because the mayor didn’t get what he wanted in the TSPLOST, he’s ready to send the whole thing to hell by defaming it, even as he had more voice and influence to shape it than any of us who will be voting on the thing.

TSPLOST isn’t going to pay for paving subdivisions or replacing culverts down barely travelled back roads; it’s going to pay for major transportation improvements with a regional impact. One of the projects for which Douglasville and Douglas County advocated was improvements to the interchange at I-20 and I-285 – a problem interchange that regularly backs up eastbound traffic to Thornton and Lee roads and beyond and causes residents to lose countless hours due to delays.

In the Sentinel, Thomas said: “With the downturn in the economy and the struggles many are experiencing, I think it will be difficult for people to give up another 1 percent of their disposable income. You have an identical school board referendum question on the Nov. 8 ballot. Of course, if both are approved, that’s an additional 2 percent reduction in disposable income for each resident of our county.”

Perhaps we could look at it that way. Or, we could call it an investment in our community. As a region, transportation is the single greatest hindrance to attracting employers. The state is relatively business-friendly, and we have the post-secondary schools and research facilities to make this a whiz-bang place for potential employers, especially in the areas of technology and biotech with Georgia Tech, Emory, Georgia State and many other smaller area colleges contributing research and well-equipped alumni to the workforce. Still, companies are hesitant to commit investment to an area that is unwilling to invest in itself. Supporting transportation, just like supporting schools, is how we prove we have some skin in the game. It’s how we build our future.

We can no longer expect to hinge our local economy on large-scale retail and the building of strip malls. We must realize that our financial future is tied to the fortunes of metro Atlanta. Where goes Atlanta, so goes Douglasville. We’re beyond being a distant island out in the west; if that is what we wanted to remain, then we needed to develop a self-sustaining local economy. We didn’t do that. We don’t have the jobs to pay our residents a livable wage, and we certainly don’t have the jobs to empower people to spend dollars locally by virtue of the fact that we aren’t paying them enough dollars to spend, period. Our people need work, and there’s no longer any point in trying to build more houses that will be underwater in value by the end of the week that the certificate of occupancy is granted. There are no factory or production jobs to speak of. Not here, anyway.

By and large, I’ve thought a great deal of Mayor Thompson, and I was disheartened to hear that he would not be seeking a third term as mayor. But if this isolationist view of the city is what he would have pursued, we would have been wiser to elect a rival.

It Pains Me, But Don’t Blame Nathan Deal for Troy Davis’ Death

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Look, I’ll be the last guy who takes up for Gov. Nathan Deal. Really, it’s leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

But, I’ve got to do this. I’m just going to lay back, and think of England.

This morning, I saw a retweeted tweet scroll across my Twitter feed from Alec Baldwin: “Nathan Deal has disgraced Georgia, the justice system, the country.”

That may be. But not because of Troy Davis.

History lesson ahead. You’ve been warned.

Once upon a time, there was a state. We’ll call it Georgia, but that’s what most everyone else calls it. And once upon a time in the state of Georgia, there was only one real political party.

That party didn’t care for black people.

So, to make sure that black people didn’t have the opportunity to have a voice in the affairs of the state, the Democrats conceived of the “white primary,” in which only white people could vote. This was OK, the United States Supreme Court said (though about nine years later, they changed their minds).

Also, this one party – the Democrats – decided that it would be unwise to have one big political boss with too much power. Though the Democrats were members of one party, they still hardly saw eye-to-eye on many topics. (Really, the one-party system was an excuse to have a white primary; the divisions within the party were nonetheless very deep.)

Eugene Talmadge

Former Georgia Gov. Eugene Talmadge, who was partial to the white primaries. When he died before taking office for a fourth term, his son, Herman, assumed office. Because that's how we do things down here in Georgia.

To make sure no one person gained too much power, the Democrats devised a way of structuring government that meant that, while the governor was the head of state and technically the chief executive, the power of government was shared among the members of his cabinet, which were elected independently of the governor.

So – while on a federal level, the president gets to nominate his attorney general, secretary of state, secretary of agriculture, etc. – in Georgia, all those people are elected. We elect a commissioner of agriculture, a labor commissioner, a state schools superintendent, an attorney general and a secretary of state, among others.

Also, the power of the governor was further limited by splitting traditionally executive power among a number of politically appointed boards. The governor doesn’t decide which roads get paved; that’s decided by the board of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The governor’s authority over the state’s judiciary is similarly limited. In some states, the governor can commute the sentence of death row inmates wholesale; the governor of Indiana did that just a few years ago. In Georgia, however, the governor simply doesn’t have that kind of power.

Now, over the years, the power of the Democrats has waned and the Republican Party – Gov. Deal’s party – has become resurgent. The last governor, Sonny Perdue, was the first Republican elected to the governor’s mansion since Reconstruction. The Republicans also control both houses of the General Assembly, though friction there runs deep nonetheless. Republicans have tried to replace their own Speaker of the House and have clipped the power of the Lieutenant Governor, who presides over the Senate just as the vice president does at the federal level, taking away his influence over legislation and committee assignments.

Nathan Deal

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who doesn't have the power to grant clemency to death row inmates.

So, we’re right back where we began with a one party system. And, for all intents and purposes, because that one party is the Republican Party, we’re also faced with what are essentially white primaries.

So it goes.

Last night, it came down to only three entities that could stop Troy Davis’ execution. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroled – stacked with political appointees who are sympathetic toward law enforcement and prosecutors but not so much felons – heard Davis’ appeal Monday. Worth noting, perhaps, is the fact that they cut off Davis’ defense team, and allotted the prosecution more time to present their case. They denied clemency for Davis and unceremoniously said they would not reconsider their decision.

There was then the Georgia Supreme Court, but they bowed out pretty early and denied his appeals.

Last was the United States Supreme Court. The appeal was handed to Justice Clarence Thomas – a black man from Georgia who hates to be reminded of either – and he led the discussion at the court. A temporary stay was granted while the Court deliberated.

Troy Davis

The late Troy Davis. If the phone on the wall next to the gurney rang and it was the governor on the line, he probably had a wrong number.

Ultimately, the Court denied the appeal and, by 11:08 p.m., Troy Davis was dead.

We all kept praying that the phone on the wall near the gurney would ring. But if it did, and it was the governor on the line, he probably just dialed a wrong number.

There. I stood up for Nathan Deal.

Don’t look at me. And please, just leave the money on the dresser.

I’m going to take a shower.

Broken

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She pushed up her visor, brushed her hair impatiently from her eyes, and swung her new Epic bat fiercely.  It created a wide circle around her body, and she brought it back to position, swinging it a second time.  This was Jessica’s first game of the season, and she was determined to make her first at-bat count.

As she pulled the bat back around for a third practice swing, she caught movement in the bleachers to her right.  The bat slid from her hands as she turned sharply to peer at the short, portly man who had come up to the fence to yell encouragement to the current batter.  Jessica’s eyes were wide, as if trying to take in as much of the picture as possible, but she narrowed them quickly.  Berating herself internally for her intense reaction, she stooped to pick up her bat, trying to focus again on the game and her swing.

The damage had been done, though.  Jessica was now thinking of the man she thought she had seen, the person who crept unwillingly into her mind at inconvenient times, the jerk who had single-handedly destroyed her bright and happy world.  At thirteen years old, Jessica had moments when she felt and behaved much older.  In those moments, there was darkness, a heaviness, as if she were drowning in a dark pool.  Her mother never recognized these times for what they were, but her father was a little more acute, and he saw what others disregarded.  Only he noticed the fear, anger, and hate that swam in her big brown eyes.  Only he realized how much she still hurt.

“Jess, you’re up!” yelled the third-base coach.

Jessica quickly shook her head, realizing Brittany must have made it to first base, grabbed the pink bat her teammate had cast aside and threw it back towards the dugout.  She could faintly hear the cheers from parents, siblings, and players alike through the subtle roaring that rushed in her ears.  Get ahold of yourself.  Focus on the ball and the field, that’s all that matters right now.

She stepped up to the plate, dug the ball of her left foot into the dirt, and faced the pitcher.  Georgia had been her friend since first grade, when they first played ball together.  They had been on every basketball, softball, and soccer team together since then, and this was the first year they ever had to play against one another.  Georgia had been there for Jessica’s first slumber party, her first camp-out in the backyard, her first “boyfriend,” and she was by her side when Jessica first admitted what her uncle did to her.  It seemed as though they would always be friends; nothing could part them.  Eighth grade started this way, but things soon began to change.  Georgia was developing at a much faster rate than Jessica, so she, of course, became the most popular girl of their class, surrounded by the cutest boys and the silliest girls.

As Jessica glared at Georgia standing on the mound, she recalled lunch last Wednesday.  Jessica was sitting with a couple of her friends, discussing the new art teacher and the wild blue earrings he wore that morning, when Hank, Jessica’s boyfriend, strode over to thrust a folded piece of paper quickly into her hands, then practically ran to get away from her.  When she opened it, she read five little words that stabbed her in the chest like five tiny knives.  Hank was breaking up with her, on Valentine’s Day, in a note.

Jessica felt her pain and anger rise as she heard a peal of laughter from two tables over.  Looking up, Jessica saw Georgia, surrounded by her usual group of giggling girls, pointing her way with one hand and holding Hank’s in her other.

Focus.  FOCUS!  Jessica barely pulled herself from her reverie to watch the ball fall gracefully into the catcher’s mitt.  “Strike!”  She dug her foot into the red clay again, focusing all of her hatred and humiliation into the hands gripping her bat.  When the next pitch came, she slammed it, red crowding into her vision, the force of the impact so much that she almost stumbled.  She slowly remembered that she was supposed to be running, and by the time she became fully aware, she heard screams of pain and shock.  Halfway to first base, she turned toward the noise that had become a howl.  Georgia was crouched on the ground, clutching her face, her teammates and coaches circling her.

“Ohnoohnoohno,” Jessica muttered to herself.  Without looking around, she ran as hard as she could – losing her helmet and bat – towards the opponent’s empty dugout, through the gate, around the concession stand, and into the bathroom, only stopping once she had locked herself into the handicapped stall.  She would be in so much trouble now.  She knew from past experiences that things like this were always her fault.  No matter who Jessica thought was really responsible, or if things were simply an accident, her mother yelled at her.  Her mother had yelled when Jessica failed a spelling test, when Scratchy the cat ran away, if the water bill was too high, if there wasn’t any popcorn, and when Jessica told her dad what always happened when Uncle Steven came to visit.

Yes, her mother blamed Jessica for her brother’s imprisonment.  Steven was her favorite older brother, the one who always looked out for her when she was younger.  She called Jessica a liar, a bitch, a slut, every nasty thing she could think of, until Jessica’s dad finally told her to lay off, or he would divorce her.  But Jessica still knew how her mother felt.  Jessica knew who her mother would blame.  Jessica knew she would be punished for Georgia’s injury.

As she reflected on this, Hank’s and Georgia’s betrayals, and Uncle Steven’s roaming hands, she sank to the floor, her head between her knees, sobbing so arduously that there were no actual tears.