Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C8-4

On the day before Thanksgiving, Atticus came home from the hospital, wearing an eye patch. And just in time for Christmas, he returned to work.

Brielle, Jo, and the other waitresses threw a huge “Welcome Back” party for Atticus on the day of his return. All the customers in the dining area joined the party, glad to see the owner of their favorite restaurant return.

The restaurant was decked out in Christmas decorations. A medium-sized Christmas tree stood in the lined windows next to the entrance and wreaths hung on the double door to the kitchen and break room. A banner hung over the dining area, which read, “Welcome back Atticus! You’re just in time for Christmas!”

The song, “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” blared over the speakers and everyone cheered as Atticus arrived, wearing an eyepatch, and walking on a cane.

“It’s only temporary,” Atticus told them all, “I’ll be able to ditch this thing in a month or two.”

“Welcome back, Atticus,” Brielle said with a smile as she hugged who she thought of as the best boss a lady could have.

With his sister, Jo, at his side, Atticus passed through the crowd as customers gathered around. The female customers hugged him and the male customers giving him friendly slaps on the back and handshakes.

On the marquee outside also announced Atticus’ return, reading “Merry Christmas from Bobtail Bud’s” and “Welcome Back Atticus,” underneath the first message.

Everyone was singing and cheering when suddenly, Jo looked up, in the direction of the front entrance. Her eyes widened. The surprised look on her face then turned to a scowl.

“Oh, my God! I knew we shouldn’t have announced this on the marquee outside!” she said disdainfully.

“What are you talking about?” Brielle asked.

Jo pointed toward the entrance.

Brielle and everyone around them looked in the direction Jo was pointing and, sure enough, Bobby, Ashton, Grant, and Aaron had walked in. The four lawmen were looking dead at them and smirking as they took an empty booth.

“Welp, there goes my appetite!” Brielle remarked.

“Ugh! Yours and mine both!” Jo added, her voice dripping with disgust.

Brielle stood there, hands on hips, giving the lawmen a contemptuous glare.

“So, are you even close to finding the people who assaulted Atticus early last month?” she asked in a cold tone of contempt.

“Sorry, so far, we’ve found nothing,” Ashton responded, the response being more of a taunt than an answer.”

“Gee, now! Why am I not surprised? But you can bet that if Crawford were still alive, he’d still be sheriff and he would have had quite a few leads by now,” Brielle taunted back.

Bobby came to a sudden pause. His eyes flashed, as did the eyes of the other three county cops as they all turned and looked at Brielle, then at Atticus and the other coworkers around her. The customers also heard Brielle’s remark.

“Ooooh!” One young male customer shouted derisively before everyone in the restaurant burst into loud cackles, guffaws, and horselaughs.

Without taking his eyes of rage off Brielle, Bobby and the deputies slowly and threateningly rose from their seats and stood, directly facing Brielle and the other restaurant staff.

“Well, Crawford’s dead now, ain’t he?” Bobby growled angrily through his teeth.

“Oh, you’re right, he is, which was pretty doggone convenient for you,” Brielle said point blank.

“You don’t know shit about it, gal! Which is why it’s a damn good thing you aren’t sheriff, and I am,” Bobby thundered in utter outrage.

“For you, that’s a very good thing, Bobby. Because, if I was, you’d be in jail, along with the rest of your sycophants,” Brielle said in a calm, confident tone.

“Really? Let’s get one thing straight, Brielle! We don’t have to explain anything to you!” Ashton bit angrily.

“It’s just as well. Even if you tried, I don’t think you could,” Brielle, ever so calmly, fired back.

Self-Love Irrespective of What Others Think

No lie. This can be hard to do, especially if the people around you hate you and are bullying you. Loving yourself in the midst of bullying and in a room full of people who think horribly of you takes a mountain of hard work when all you hear from others is:

“You aren’t worth a damn!”

“You suck!”

“You’re a drain on society!”

“You’ll never amount to a hill of beans!”

I understand. If you hear that long enough and from enough people, it can break your spirit if you let it. And how you refuse to let it get to you is to see it for what it is- noise pollution!

Here are a few more ways you can refuse to let their abuse get to you.

Give yourself permission to be yourself.

Know that’s it’s okay for you to be you.

Train your inner voice, through practice, to love you unconditionally.

Know that it’s okay to have needs, wants, and desires.

Deny the urge to compare yourself to others.

Understand that it’s okay to walk away from drama, and that it’s not out of fear that you do so, it’s out of smarts and self-care.

Allow yourself to make mistakes and to learn from them.

Realize that it’s okay to leave if you’re in an environment where you aren’t valued.

And lastly, know that it’s okay if people get angry with you.

Realize that if you don’t love yourself no matter your circumstances, it can have negative consequences later. Therefore, it’s so important that you do!

Although you can never control how others view you. And you can’t control what others say to you and how they act toward you. We must realize that another person’s behavior is beyond our control. However, what you can control is how you behave. In other words, you can control how you respond to the behavior of bullies and other idiots who try to steal your joy.

Loving yourself in the face of bullying is revolutionary!

Therefore, you must do what you can to drown out this noise pollution. And how you do it is to see your bullies for the creeps they truly are, think good thoughts of yourself, and remind yourself of your good qualities. Believe it or not, working to think highly of yourself when nobody else does is the greatest act of rebellion against bullies!

Again, see it for what it is. The judgements and verbal abuse you consistently hear from the cowardly creeps around you, is nothing but a bunch of racket. In other words, it’s noise pollution!

When you work to like yourself when others don’t, you refuse to let bullies get into your head. In that, you train your brain to filter out other’s negative comments and remarks that serve no purpose but to damage your self-esteem. Also, you silence that inner critic that would otherwise nag you night and day.

Moreover, when you love and accept yourself, others outside the bullying environment and strangers who have no history with you will be inclined to also love and accept you. No, your bullies and abusers won’t like or love you even if you love yourself, but who cares about them?

So, love yourself despite what others think of you. You will be surprised at how it will protect your self-esteem. When you work to feel good about yourself, even while bullies are tearing you down, it will work as a buffer to the psychological attacks they launch.

You may come out of it bruised but not broken.

With knowledge comes power!

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C8.3

As Brielle was hanging up with her grandmother, Jo came outside and got into Brielle’s car with her.

“What time is it?” Jo asked.

“Almost two a.m. Any word on, Atticus?” Brielle responded.

“He’s conscious now. But he can’t see out of his right eye, Brielle. And that hematoma? What if he has a major brain bleed and…” Jo sobbed.

Brielle leaned across the middle console and embraced Jo in a hug. Jo sobbed on Brielle’s shoulder as the distant chopping and whir of helicopter blades faded in, growing louder and louder. Brielle looked through the windshield into the blackness of the night sky.

Brielle Consoles Jo

Suddenly, Brielle heard a loud tap on her driver’s side window. Brielle turned around and looked to see who was at her window. It was Bobby, tapping on it with his flashlight. Ashton, who was with him, leaned on the side of Brielle’s SUV and folded his arms, wearing the same smug smirk on his face.

“What the hell do you want?” Brielle barked bitterly.

“We’ve been watching you, Brielle. Who were you on the phone with a while ago?”

“None of your damn business! What are you, the Gestapo!” She chided.

“Get the hell out of here, you Nazis!” Jo yelled at the crooked lawmen, “get out of here now! I know you both had a hand in this! You did this!”

The two county cops chuckled derisively before tipping their hats to the women and walking away.

“Those bastards! Those evil, hellish bastards!” Jo yelled.

Brielle continued to hug Jo until she calmed down. She then looked at Jo.

“Listen, those idiots aren’t real law. They put shame on the sheriff’s badge. And you need to stay with Atticus, So, I’ll cover your shift and mine if I have to,” Brielle told her gently.

“Thank you, Brielle. Thank you so much,” Jo said, with tears still streaming down her cheeks.

A Mysterious Lull

Over the three weeks that Atticus was in the hospital, Brielle worked many long shifts, covering for Jo. Many loyal customers would stop Brielle to ask how Atticus was doing and she made sure to fill them in on his progress.

Also, because Jane had made many friends out of the targets and other students on the lower and middle levels in the school hierarchy, the higher-ups had decided to back off her. Because things seemed to be peaceful, Jane thought that she’d seen the last of the drama her bullies had brought her during the first three months of school. She soon became comfortable at school and her confidence showed so much that everyone noticed.

Brielle was relieved that her daughters were doing much better in school. She felt that things were indeed looking up for the girls. Also, the sheriff and the rest of the old clique from years ago seemed to disappear from Brielle’s life. Because it seemed that everyone had stopped confronting her, Brielle could finally breathe, and she too grew more comfortable with her life. It seemed that things were looking up for everyone who had, in the past, found themselves in the crosshairs of the Thomasville elite.

A Well-Needed Break Nonetheless

Lord knew why they’d suddenly stopped bothering Brielle and the rest of the so-called undesirables. Maybe they wanted to watch their p’s and q’s because they didn’t want to get arrogant and careless like Johnny Crabtree had years before. The old clique didn’t want to do anything that might get them in trouble.

Had they stopped for good, or was it only a temporary break designed to lull the Markowitz’s and the Carpenters into a false sense of security? Had they grown bored or was this a trick to lull them into bringing down their defenses?

Bringing My Grievance to God

Dear Lord, faithful and true. My heart and soul begs for blessing and deliverance from my circumstances, yet you do not answer. My heart and soul languishes, and desires to climb upward, yet it seems that you have turned your face and refuse to open a pathway upward. This hurts, oh, Lord. I seek your face only to see your back. I pray for increase and elevation, only to remain anchored. I seek bountiful blessings only to get a few crumbs tossed my way. When it seems that you have answered my prayers, it turns out to be a joke from the devil. How long, oh Lord must I languish? How long will I continue to be disappointed amd heartbroken? What do I do to work toward the blessings I seek. Lord, I’m being honest, I feel that you have forsaken me, rejected me, left me to fend for myself in this evil world. Will I ever see those blessings, Lord? Is your answer a “wait” or is it a “no?” This I must know, Lord. I must know so that I can know when to cut my losses, let it go, and find another purpose, perhaps one that you will bless, favor, and one that is in line with your will.

Bless me oh, Lord. I pray you, I beg you, I beseech you, I implore you.

In Jesus name, Amen

A Remedy for Self-consciousness

Self-consciousness can influence the trajectory of your life. It causes us to forgo taking risks that lead to opportunity and great outcomes. Why? Because, we to place too much focus on how others perceive us and what they think.

Therefore, we become too fearful of making decisions for ourselves. Therefore, we don’t follow own paths and do what fulfills us.

“What will others think of me?”

“How will they treat me if I decide to do this?”

“What will my friends say?”

You’re constantly on alert, allowing these questions to replay in your subconscious, over and over again. However, what if I told you that these friends and “others” are just as self-conscious as you? And what if your bullies bully and ridicule you because they are scared of what others will think of them if they don’t bully you?

Here’s what my mother told me years ago. 

“Most people worry too much about how they appear in front of others to care about how you appear. Also, any time someone points a finger and judges you, they do so from a place of their own insecurity.  Most do it out of self-consciousness and it should be of no consequence to you.”

As usual, she was right!

In other words, they’re too busy monitoring themselves to monitor you. And if they do watch you and wait for you to screw up, it’s for the chance of taking the spotlight off their own imperfections. Put another way, they’re so worried about how they appear to others that they’re more than willing to point out your flaws in order to conceal theirs. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book- keep the spotlight off your own screw ups by highlighting someone else’s.

At the root of bullying is self.  Self-servitude, self-validation, self-centeredness. But most of all, Self-consciousness.

If this isn’t a real confidence booster, nothing is!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C8.2

Later that night, just before midnight, Atticus took two full trash bags outside to the dumpsters which were in the back of the business. He tossed them into the dumpster and wiped his hands on his apron. Suddenly, a voice yelled.

“What’s up, motherfucker!”

Before Atticus had time to react. Several brutal blows landed, and he was knocked to the ground. Next, a hail of kicks bore into his ribs, stomach, and face.

“Bigtime war hero! You think you’re tough! What, motherfucker? You think you’re tough! You think you can be a hero! Huh! You wanna run your fucking mouth, shit for brains!” shouted several male voices as a group of mystery men continued raining brutal kicks to his body.

The mayhem seemed to last for hours until everything in Atticus’ field of vision faded to black. The mystery men continued talking mad smack as they dealt the beat down.

Jo happened to come outside with a few full trash bags of her own when she heard the commotion. She dropped the trash and began running toward the noise. When she got there, a pair of hands reached out and grabbed her from behind.

“Atticus! Nooooo!” She screamed to the top of her lungs, “Somebody help! Please, hellllllp!”

A Vicious Attack

“Shut the fuck up, bitch!” Another male voice screamed back as Jo felt a punch to her face. The person restraining her then threw her to the ground and the mystery men ran off.

Jo crawled over to her unconscious brother and took him in her arms. She sobbed as she rocked back and forth holding on to her injured brother.

Atticus’ eyes were swollen shut and his forehead had a huge knot forming. Jo looked at Atticus and could practically see the knot growing bigger and bigger. Blood ran down his face from two huge gashes- one in his forehead and another next to his left temple.

“I’ve got you, Atticus! I’ve got you!” she sobbed with tears running down her face.

“Brielle! Somebody help! Heeelllllp!” She shrieked to the top of her lungs.

The back door to the restaurant flew open. Brielle came running up and knelt beside them both. She took out her smartphone, dialed, and pressed a button before pausing.

“9-1-1,” a female voice sounded on the other end.

“We need an ambulance! A man has been attacked behind the Double Nickel on Hwy 72! Please hurry!” She cried.

Two more younger waitresses ran up to them and knelt.

Later, at the hospital, Brielle went outside and called Grandma Bennett. Grandma picked up on the third ring.


“Grandma, it’s Brielle. I’m at the hospital. They beat Atticus within an inch of his life tonight! And they punched Jo in the face when she ran out to help him. Can you spend the night with the kids tonight? They’ve got the Mills town police here and Jo and I are witnesses,” Brielle told her in a shaky voice.

Grandma Bennett gasped in horror and shot up in her lounge chair.

A Trip to the Hospital

“Oh, my goodness, Brielle! How bad is Atticus?” she asked in a terrified voice.

“He’s bad, Grandma! Real bad! They’ve got an air-evac on the way! They’re going to airlift him to Memphis! The doctor just did a CT scan on his brain, and they spotted a hematoma behind his right eye! Oh, God, Grandma! Pray for him! Just pray!” Brielle cried as her eyes flooded with tears.

“Now, listen, Brielle. If you get to talk to Atticus, you tell him that I’ll be coming to Memphis to see him either tomorrow or sometime during the weekend. And you tell him that a lot of people are praying for him. You hear?” Grandma told her.

“I will. But Grandma, he’s still unconscious. If he doesn’t wake up before the helicopter gets here and takes him…” Brielle sobbed.

“I understand, honey.”

Brielle looked around cautiously, as if to see if she was being watched.

“Just a minute, Grandma. Hang on for a minute or two.”

She quickly walked across the parking lot, then she broke into a sprint before she got to her vehicle, jumped into the driver’s seat, then closed and locked the door.

“Are you still there?”

“Yes, I am, honey.” Grandma answered.

Brielle’s Suspicions

“Listen Grandma, I have a feeling that Sheriff Bobby Crabtree had something to do with this. I just can’t prove it. Bobby and Ashton came into the restaurant tonight, just to needle Atticus and tried to tell him to fire me. But Atticus stood up to them. Someone even overheard them give Atticus a veiled threat to burn his business to the ground. Oh, Grandma! They’re out to get him. And not only because of the deal with his wife and daughter. I was under the impression that all the drama surrounding the DUI accident that happened years ago had died down. But now, they’re pissed at him again and I think it’s because they found out that he hired me. I know it sounds paranoid, but…” Brielle went on.

“Now, listen, Brielle. You can’t blame yourself, honey. And I’ve known Atticus for years. I can tell you right now that he doesn’t blame you and neither does Jo,” Grandma assured.

“I’m not worried about that, Grandma. I’m worried about Atticus right now,” Brielle told her, “I’m going to be here a while and then I’ll be home as soon as things calm down.”

“Alright, sugar. I love you.”

“I love you too, Grandma. You be careful too, okay?”

“Sweetheart, Bobby knows better than to mess with me.”

Ego is the Root of All Bullying


Bullies bully because they have fragile, but overinflated egos. Believe it or not, the ego is a huge factor in bullying- perhaps the biggest.

Bullies will often bully their targets any time they see him/her get recognition for a good deed or achievement. This is because bullies interpret any praise the target gets from others as the diminishing of them in some way. When the target has success in something, the bullies begin thinking about their own achievements (or lack thereof) and comparing them to those of the target. They then feel regret or jealousy.

The bullies become totally absorbed in how the target’s success reflects on them and they personalize it. Moreover, it feels to the bullies as if the target is an adversary competing for the same award. Because of the bullies exaggerated self-focus, they become angry and want to attack the target.

Bullying Always Comes from a Place of Self-Servitude

Bullies compare themselves to their target according to their own egocentric views. They fear that others will consider them less important than the target, who is “supposed to be” inferior to them. Also, the bullies feel like the target is getting more attention than they are. All this combined only infuriates them.

There’s a reason why it enrages them so. It’s because the target’s success totally goes against their beliefs that the target is inferior. Bullies absolutely despise being shown up. As such, they feel a sense of injustice anytime the target achieves success and gets recognition for that success.

If you’re a target of bullying and a high achiever, you’ll often hear such statements as:

“You think you’re better than me (or us).”

“Do you think you’re some kind of super star?”

You think you’re this and you think you’re that.

This Behavior Your Bullies Display Comes from a Bruised Ego.

By making such bold statements, bullies only imagine what the target thinks of them, then project onto the target, as if, they know what the target thinks. Bullies claim to be mind readers. And what’s so bad is that they presume the worst of the target without any evidence to back it up.

The bullies then feel an urgent need to attack the target because they feel that the target slighted them simply by being successful and making achievements.

So, I want you to know that if you ever find yourself in this kind of predicament, know that you did nothing wrong and that it isn’t about you. It’s about your bullies, their insecurities, and their own shattered egos. The bullies are the ones with the issues. You, on the other hand, are a winner and you are on the side of truth and right. Always remember that and keep winning!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C8

Chapter 8
Roller Coaster

Atticus stormed into the kitchen, snatched up his apron and donned it. Jo had come back from the ladies’ room. Before going back to work, she and Brielle watched Atticus closely and knew that something was terribly wrong. Atticus looked at Jo and Brielle.

“I need to talk to you both. I’ll have the other waitresses cover your tables, let’s go in the back,” he said in distress.

Brielle and Jo followed Atticus to the breakroom in the back and they all sat down at one of the tables.

“Would you believe those sons of bitches threatened to burn this place down!” Atticus cried, “I’ve worked too hard for this to happen! I’ve busted my ass my whole life to get where I am, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that happen!” He swore angrily, “Those rotten Crabtree’s! They took my family and now they’re threatening to take my business and livelihood too! I’ll kill those bastards!”

An Outraged and Determined Atticus and a Deeply Concerned Brielle

“No, Atticus! Please! Don’t flip out! Because that’s what they want you to do! They want you to lose your shit and that’s why they keep pushing you! You’ve got to rise above it!” Jo cried, “Please, Atticus, you don’t want to go to prison!”

“Oh, my God. Why do I feel that this is all because of me? Atticus, I can’t let them burn your place down. I’ll quit if I have to! I can find another job! But you won’t start another business as easily!” Brielle told him.

“It’s not because of you, Brielle! This cold war between Atticus and the Crabtree’s was brewing long before you came into the picture, honey!” Jo assured her.

“Oh, no! Nope! I don’t want you to quit, Brielle! If you quit, that means that I’ve somehow capitulated to those creeps! At least that’s how they’ll see it! Please, Brielle, stay on here. You’re a good worker and I won’t allow them to tell me who I can hire to work in my place of business!”

“Are you sure?”

“Damn right, I’m sure.”

“Okay. I’ll stay. I’m just worried about you and Jo.”

Brielle shook her head.

“They’re beginning to escalate this shit, Atticus. And I don’t know what they’ll do next. I’ve got to be honest with you and Jo both. I’m so afraid. I’m so, so afraid now. I’m afraid for you, me, my children. I’m afraid for everyone and everything I love and care about,” she said.

Choose Your Friends Wisely


And no, I don’t mean the type of friends who only tell you what you want to hear. You can get that anywhere. And many people will tickle your ears just to manipulate you or soften you up.

It goes much deeper.

It’s not about how much money or prestige they have- the hot car they drive or the latest fashions they wear. Neither is it about how good they look or how popular they are.

It’s all in how they make us feel about ourselves, and the space they give us to grow. Even better, it’s how they help us to grow and vice versa.

Therefore, if the person makes you feel bad about yourself and makes you doubt yourself- if she makes you feel left out and discarded, that’s your first clue that this person is not right for you! They’re not worthy of your time and are a waste of energy.

Don’t walk. RUN!

Always keep company with those who make you feel the best about yourself- that means the people who want to see you do good for yourself, the people who point you in the right direction, and the people who remain loyal even when the chips are down.


Associate only with the people who love, encourage and want your very best. Reserve your friendship only for those who have your back! Choose the friend who is willing to walk through the fire with you.

In closing, never chase anyone who doesn’t care or makes you feel terrible about yourself. Because if they’re a true friend, they won’t tear you down and make you feel worthless.

They won’t block your path to success. You won’t have to fight for their time or their love. They will make time for you and give love freely. Therefore, be selective of who you let in your life.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C7.14

“I don’t know if Atticus would want me to tell you, but I trust you. So, I’m going to tell you anyway.”

Brielle leaned forward, listening attentively.

“Back in 1991, Atticus was twenty-three years old, and he was in the Army. He had enlisted in 1986, when he was eighteen, just out of high school. He went through Basic, then was stationed at Ft. Riley, then restationed at Ft. McClellan in 1989, where he met and married his wife. Their daughter was born the following year. Later, Atticus’ unit was deployed to Saudi Arabia to fight in the Gulf War and Louanne and the baby moved back to Alabama to stay with her family while Atticus was gone. But they made frequent visits here too. While he was fighting overseas, his wife and baby daughter were here on a visit to the in-laws. And they were both killed in a tragic car accident,” Jo somberly told her as she continued to puff on her cigarette, “the drunk driver who killed them was none other than Otis Crabtree, Johnny’s, Bobby’s and the rest of that brood’s granddaddy!”

Brielle gasped, placing her hand over her heart.

“Oh, my god! I’m so sorry, Jo, I didn’t know. I lived here then but I was too little. I do remember Grandma saying something about the accident from time to time, but I didn’t remember the names of the people involved” she said in empathy.

Brielle hung her head for a few seconds, then looked up at Jo again.

“God, I’m so, so sorry!”

A Heartbreaking True Story

Jo sighed and her eyes filled with tears. The tears then streamed down her cheeks. Brielle gently reached across the table and took Jo’s hand in hers.

“Sheriff Wayne Crawford Sr. arrested Otis and there was a big trial. But the trial was a joke! Talk about a kangaroo court! The voir dire process was rigged! Those crooks! They made damn sure to select jurors who were either partial to the Crabtree’s or afraid of them. Would you believe that Otis Crabtree, the bastard who killed Louanne and baby Amber, only got a year in the county lock-up? Oh, God! Atticus was beside himself! That son of a bitch killed his family! Losing Louanne and Amber was bad enough. But for courts to let this guy off with such a lowball sentence, oh god, it was like Atticus lost them all over again! Brielle, he never recovered from it. He’s still pissed to this day!” Jo explained, sniffling from crying. She took another puff and thumped her ashes in the small ashtray that sat between them.

“The Crabtree’s have always gotten a free pass! It’s why they’re like they are, Jo. Because they were never held accountable for anything. That is, until Bobby’s brother, Johnny and the Thomasville Conspiracy. And that still hasn’t stopped them,” Brielle replied.

The History Between the Crawfords and the Crabtrees

“You’re right, Brielle. Only they’ve become angrier, meaner, and twice as dangerous since one of their own finally, and I say, finally, got what was coming to him!” Jo added, “Atticus never remarried, and he never had another child. He’s still a widower. He stayed in the Army because, for a long time, he didn’t want to come back to this wretched place! He served until he retired in his early forties. He fought in the Gulf War and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After retiring from the Military, Atticus went into business on his own out of a desire to be his own boss. He flipped and sold houses for a living before taking his fortune and buying the land here to build the truck stop. Business at the Double Nickle and Bobtail Bud’s has boomed ever since. Atticus is my older brother. That’s why I know all this stuff. Please don’t let on to Atticus that you know anything about this, Brielle. Because he’ll know who told it.”

Jo then crushed the cigarette butt in the ashtray as she exhaled the last of the smoke.

“I promise, Jo. I won’t,” Brielle said as she took her index finger and crossed her heart with it. She then squeezed Jo’s hand.

Jo rose from her chair.

“Sit tight while I go use the little girls’ room,” she said before rushing off.

A Family Feud

Brielle just sat there and shook her head. She already knew some of the dangers of going up against the wrong people in Thomasville. She had learned that lesson in high school. But her experiences in high school had only scratched the surface. Even then, Brielle had not known how bad it could get nor how truly evil these people were until she read Shannon McGregor’s second memoir entitled, “The Thomasville Conspiracy: How I Made It Out Alive.”

Meanwhile, back in the dining area, Atticus glared hotly at the two lawmen who sat before him.

“Let me tell you something right here and now, Bobby! I ain’t Sam from the boot factory! I own this shit! I don’t just manage it! And you don’t come into my place of business and tell me who to hire and who to fire! I don’t give a damn if you’re hiding behind a sheriff’s badge or not! You’re only in that position because Sheriff Crawford was…oh, how should I say it? Mysteriously and under suspicious circumstances, killed in a hunting accident! And oh, let’s see. Who was he hunting with that day, Bobby? Oh, yes, now I remember! It was you! I don’t think I have to say any more. You’re not as stupid as you look. You already know what I’m trying to say…don’t you…Sheriff?”

Atticus Tells Bobby a Thing or Two

Bobby glared back at Atticus without a word, as did Ashton.

“Have a pleasant evening, gentlemen.” Atticus said with a smug smile before turning and walking back toward the kitchen.

“Oh, Atticus!” Bobby called.

Atticus stopped, turned, and came back to where the two crooked lawmen sat.

“’Something I can help you with?” Atticus asked in a short tone.

“You know? It would be a shame if an awesome business such as yours caught fire and burned to the ground one night. Perhaps you should buy an insurance policy. You know. Just in case.” Bobby said devilishly.

Atticus placed both hands on the table and leaned slightly closer to the county cops.

“You know what? I wouldn’t put it past a scumbag like you,” Atticus growled through his teeth.

“Then you might want to show a little bit more respect,” Bobby advised.

“You’re entitled to your opinions, Sheriff. You don’t have to like me and really, I don’t give a damn. But what you’re not entitled to is my respect. You got to earn that,” Atticus said in a matter-of-fact tone before walking away.

Bullied Boys and Bullied Girls

I’m female and have discussed bullying mainly from a female perspective. However, I would like to help you distinguish between the plights of bullied girls and bullied boys. ‘Wishing everyone peace, health, love, and happiness!

In the female target case, after her peers have bullied her for so long, she feels alone in the world. Also, when she reports the bullying only for others to rebuff her, the girl feels that no one cares. It’s bad enough when school staff ignore her pleas, but when members of her own family, refuse to listen to her, it’s twice as painful. And it’s even worse than that when they blame her.

What Bullied Girls Experience

Bullies shame female targets for their looks, femininity, and virtues. They call these poor young ladies names like “hoe,””whore,” “slut”, and other names that attack her as a woman. People will use their weight and their appearance as a weapon to cause harm. Even sadder is the reality that if their self-esteem is low enough, some live up to the names bullies call them.

Consequently, if this goes on long enough, she’ll no longer feel loved by family and or her peers. Therefore, she will more than likely use the only thing she feels she has left to offer- her sex appeal. Some bullied girls turn to sexual/dating partners to get the love and approval they’re missing out on and crave so badly. This usually doesn’t end well.

What Bullied Boys Experience

However, it’s much worse for boys. In most cases, boys don’t have the option to use the opposite sex as a Band-Aid for their emotional needs. Society expects boys to be strong and tough. In other words, to display manhood. Bullies will often emasculate their male targets and all too often, the target sees no way to reclaim his manhood.

Bullies will do everything in their power to strip the target of his “manhood” and feminize him. And they do it by making him look and feel less like a man. They will often call him names such as, “sissy,” “pussy”, “bitch” and other names that attack the masculinity.

Also, people consider it “un-macho” for a boy to report being bullied. Oftentimes, others refer young men who complain of being bullied as “whiners.” Other people will tell him to “toughen up,” “suck it up,” or “man up” because they deem it as against “man-code.” This can also erode male self-esteem.

Male Targets Have the Highest Rates of Suicide

Once bullies have stripped a young man of his manhood, it will become next to impossible for him to get a date and find love. Although the suicide rate among females has skyrocketed, It remains to be much higher in males.

bullied victim crying tears

No matter what, we must encourage bullied males to speak out and report bullies who torment them. We must also encourage them to seek therapy. Males must also have older males in their lives who remind them of their worth as men and re-enforce it.

We must also encourage females to speak out and get help, as well. Moreover, they must also have older female role models. And these role models must instill in them that they are just as good, just as whole, and just as beautiful. And they are good, beautiful and whole with or without a partner.

With knowledge comes power!

Feeling So Blessed and Grateful!

Greetings fellow bloggers! The feeling of gratefulness is pleasantly overwhelming! I would like to give a heartfelt thank you to Michael LeFevre for reading and reviewing “Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds (One Woman’s Struggle Against the Underbelly of Small-Town Politics.” As most of you know, I’m currently working on the Sequel to this book. The sequel is entitled, “Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II (Beneath the Surface).”


Micheal is also a published author of a novel entitled, “He Was Weird.” I have read his book and he is a superb writer and storyteller! Again, thank you so much, Michael!

Here is Micheal’s review below:

Another great book from author, Cherie White, for me to review. This one is called “Townies, Cronies and Hayseeds: One Woman’s Struggle Against the Underbelly of Small Town Politics.” The story is about Shannon McGregor, who is a successful author, recently widowed and living the American dream in Arizona. When her grandmother dies and is […]

Book Review: Townies, Cronies and Hayseeds: One Woman’s Struggle Against the Underbelly of Small Town Politics by Cherie White — Peaceful Rampage

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C7.13

Luckily, things took a turn for the better. The following week, Brielle began working as a waitress at “Bobtail Bud’s Buffet.” Bobtail Bud’s was a part of “The Double Nickel Truck Stop.” The Double Nickel was one of the newer businesses in northern Glover County, just outside of the town of Mills, which was just a mile from the county line on Hwy 72. The truck stop consisted of a nice restaurant (Bobtail Bud’s), a hotel, and a small grocery store. It even had a truck wash in the back. The building was a long, tan-bricked structure with a large, lighted highway shield just under the name of the business. Inside the shield was the number 55.

The restaurant was open 24 hours and always packed with customers, a few locals but mostly truckers who were passing through. It didn’t take Brielle long to smile and banter her way into the hearts of all the truckers who stopped there to have a bite to eat. She even charmed her way into the heart of Atticus Carpenter, the owner and manager. She also made a friend out of Josephine, Jo for short, who was an older waitress and Atticus’ sister. She and Atticus took Brielle under their protective wings.

Positive Change

In the years since Brielle graduated Thomasville, she had become expert at opening doors with only a smile. Over the years, she’d developed a killer charm that was rare in Glover County. The transformation was almost unbelievable, even for Brielle. She had indeed gone from a bullied, painfully shy and withdrawn teenager to a highly confident, outgoing, and charismatic young lady.

As the weeks rolled by, Brielle raked in the tips from the truckers. She had such a way of making the truckers feel relaxed around her. She made it a point to make them feel good about themselves. It was because of her outgoing and down-to-earth nature that complimented her long blonde hair and svelte, hourglass figure, that the tips rolled in, earning Brielle as high as two hundred, fifty dollars in tips on some nights, and as low as one fifty on others. The tips more than compensated for her minimum wage hourly salary.

Each waitress was allowed to keep all her tips because Atticus, an older man of about 55, was a fair man who didn’t believe in splitting tips. He knew that any time waitresses were made to split their tips, the laziest of them would get rewarded unfairly.

Brielle Granted Divorce in Absentia

The following week, having filed for divorce just before she left California, Brielle had been granted her divorce in absentia as the courts took her fear of running into Bill and the numerous past police reports of domestic violence into consideration. Bill was ordered to pay Brielle four thousand dollars per month in child and spousal support.

On Wednesday night, just before Thanksgiving, Bobtail Bud’s was buzzing with truckers and travelers headed to see family for the holiday. Dave Dudley’s “Six Days on The Road” was playing loud over the speakers.

Brielle was on the job serving a table full of truckers their meals and bantering with them when she looked up and saw Sheriff Bobby walk through the front entrance. She paused and he glared at her from across the dining area. And when their eyes met, Bobby’s eyes seemed to pierce right down into her soul.

Atticus, who was back in the kitchen, happened to look through the pass through, and notice Bobby too. The owner/manager stopped suddenly as his face changed from smiles and laughter with the other cooks to the look of contempt toward the crooked sheriff.

Unwelcome Customers

Ashton came in after Bobby and they both took a seat at one of the booths and each grabbed a menu off the menu rack that sat on the table.

Brielle came back to the pass through and turned in the empty tray. Atticus saw the ashen look on her face.

“Is everything okay, Brielle. You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Atticus said, concerned.

Brielle leaned through the pass through to get closer to Atticus so that he could hear her over all the noise.

“Atticus, please tell me I don’t have to serve those two. Please. Let the newest waitress have them,” she pleaded, “I just can’t deal with them.”

“The sheriff and the deputy sheriff?” Atticus asked.

Brielle paused before answering.


“I completely, understand. You go back in the back. I’ve got this,” Atticus assured her as he took her hand in his and patted it.

Atticus removed his apron and came out of the kitchen. He walked across the dining area and approached the table where the two crooked lawmen sat.

“How can I help you gentlemen?” Atticus asked with slight sarcasm in his tone.

Atticus Confronts the Bullies

“Well, well, Atticus Carpenter. Long time no see,” Sheriff Bobby said with a smug grin.

“Not long enough,” Atticus sneered.

“We just thought we’d come by and see how business was doing here and to get something to eat. Wow! Looks like you’re doing good for yourself these days, Atticus,” Deputy Ashton Childers said with a smirk.

“You’re right. I am, and it’s because I keep out the riffraff!” Atticus said rudely.

“The riffraff, huh?” Bobby said. He then pointed at Brielle, “Like that thing over there? I mean, damn, Atticus. You’ll hire anybody, won’t you?”

Ashton chortled derisively.

“That’s my business, Bobby!” Atticus asserted brutally.

“Well, hell. I’m mean, look around you,” Bobby continued, “Business is really booming at the Double Nickel. ‘Seems to me that you’d be a little more careful who you hire.”

“’Seems to me that’s none of your business who I hire. She’s a good worker with a winning personality and I like her. And the customers do too, she keeps them happy.”

Ashton chuckled.

A Cruel Dig

“I bet she does. I bet she keeps them real happy. In fact, I wouldn’t put it past her to use one of your hotel rooms and invite a few of them for dessert. And why not, most of these truckers stay on the road, what? Probably three weeks out of a month? I imagine those long transcontinental trips can get pretty lonely. And they’d take her up on it too ‘cause it sure beats spanking your monkey,” he said, his voice dripping with disdain.

The sheriff chuckled.

“Atticus, you wouldn’t be using those hotel rooms for prostitution, would you? You do know we have ways of finding out if you are,” Sheriff Bobby grilled, because sure to taunt Atticus and talk loud enough for some of the customers to hear.

Luckily, music was playing, and the surrounding clamoring of customers was loud enough that the chances of anyone else overhearing the conversation was next to none.

Jo came out of the women’s room and tightened the strings of her apron. She then paused when she looked up and saw Atticus standing over the table at which sat Bobby and Ashton. She noticed the body language and facial expressions which told her that the encounter was not a good one.

She rushed over to a couple of younger waitresses, whispered something to them, then went into the kitchen where Brielle was.

Brielle isn’t the only Target in Thomasville

“Come on, let’s go ahead and take our break,” Jo suggested as she took Brielle by the wrist.

With Jo leading Brielle, the two women rushed back into the breakroom and sat at one of the four tables there. Jo then reached into the pocket of her apron and pulled out a half-empty pack of Pall Malls and a lighter. She lit up, took a long draw, inhaled, then blow out a huge puff of smoke.

“Those two creeps!” Jo growled.

“The sheriff?” Brielle asked.

“Yep! And his no-good deputy!”

“You’ve had bad experiences with them too, huh?” Brielle asked.

“Have we ever! They come in here and give Atticus a hard time every chance they get!” Jo said bitterly, taking another draw off her cigarette.

“What’s their problem with Atticus?”

Loving Myself: The Hardest Lesson I Learned

I had to be torn apart to put myself back together again.

I had to be naïve to become wise.

Also, I had to be weakened by bullying for several years before I could finally realize my own strength.

I had to be cheapened by others before realizing my worth.

I had to feel hate from others before I could finally love myself, all parts of myself.

When I was young, I was a beautiful girl to look upon. However, I didn’t think I was so beautiful. Because my classmates had bullied me for so long, I thought I was worthless. And why not? They had drummed that brutal narrative into my head for years.

They wanted me to hate myself as much as they hated me.

Every time I looked in the mirror, I didn’t like what I saw. Therefore, I would jokingly put myself down to keep from seeming arrogant. My classmates and a few others had brainwashed me into thinking that “to like or love yourself was arrogance.”

Turning Pain Into Power

Many of my bullies would accuse me of being just that, arrogant. They called me stuck-up, full of myself, snooty, snob, or crazy. And those names were tame compared to the other names I was called, which I won’t mention here because of vulgarity.

Some of them referred to me as “Miss Prissy,” “Empress,” and other sarcastic names. Moreover, these names seemed to come anytime I smiled or showed even a sliver of confidence.

‘You see? When people consistently tell you that you’re this way or that, and in large numbers, you begin to believe it too. Therefore, one of the hardest things to do is to change that mindset once it’s instilled in you, especially after you reach young adulthood.

Child abuse with the eye of a young boy or girl with a single tear crying due to the fear of violence or depression caused by hunger and poverty and being afraid of bullying at school.

Self-depreciation is so unhealthy because it often determines your outcomes in life. Furthermore, it breeds laziness and failure. Any success I had wasn’t enough to satisfy me and I would shun it. I always thought that I should be doing more and being better.

I internally belittled myself not only because I feared looking arrogant, but also because I didn’t think I was good enough. Thus, when someone would compliment me, I should have accepted the compliment and thanked the person for it. But instead, I’d say something like, “well, I could’ve done better.” I would always belittle my successes when I should have been celebrating them.

I have noticed that we may compliment friends and family on how beautiful, smart, or how talented they are. Also, we advise them never to put themselves down. However, we find it so hard to extend the same love and support to ourselves.


Additionally, there were times I’d say things to myself I would never have said to another person, much less my friends and family. It’s sad when we find it so difficult to love ourselves as we would others.

Since those days, I’ve learned that the best kind of love is the love you give yourself. Because, without self-love, you won’t be able to love others properly and healthfully. It wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I finally decided that I was going to love myself no matter how others felt about me. However, it didn’t happen overnight.

This was the beginning a long journey. I was taking on an exceedingly difficult task, which was reprogramming my mindset. Therefore, I had to purge all the negative stuff I’d been told for so many years and it wasn’t easy by any stretch. It would take reversing and undoing many years of abusive programming. And it was going to require a lot of grunt work.

When I rose to this challenge, there were times people fought against me. Why? Because they did not like and were threatened by the positive changes that I was implementing for myself. There were times when my own mind fought against me. But, I stuck with it because that tiny spark within me always told me that I deserved better.

I continued to vomit out all the garbage others had made me believe about myself. And it was difficult to cleanse myself of the negative thoughts and self-beliefs that had only kept me shackled.


It was a long fight, but it was worth it! Today, I’m happy, confident, and comfortable in my own skin, which means I’m free! My intention is for you to be free too!

Here’s what works:

1.Celebrate your successes even if you don’t feel up to it.

2. Make a list of your positive qualities.

3. Make positive affirmations.

4. Reward yourself.

5. Talk kindly to yourself.

6. Catch every negative thought and replace it with a positive thought.

7. Do things you enjoy most.

8. Stay away from toxic people if at all possible.

9. Surround yourself with positive people.

10. Don’t put pressure on yourself to meet standards that are unattainable.

11. Place no value on the opinions of people who aren’t worthy of your time and energy.


If you practice these twelve things every day, I promise you that you will see change in your overall outlook. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen fast. But it will all be worth it in the end. I guarantee it!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C7.12

blame point fingers

The next day was Halloween, and the day Brielle began her job search. Upon waking, she checked her text messages and breathed a sigh of relief upon reading Raina’s text, “I made it! Going to bed! Nighty-night!”

After leaving home, Brielle applied everywhere in Thomasville and Glover County, only never to so much as get a call for an interview. Several weeks went by, and still, no sign that a new job was coming down the pike.

After spending an entire morning, pounding the pavement, looking for a job, Brielle decided to call it a day. Since she still had a little bit of money left, she decided to treat herself to a pampering session. What could it hurt? She only wanted to have her hair styled, so, she stopped at “Pizzazz Hair Salon,” Kim’s salon.

Kim stood behind an older woman in a barber’s chair, putting the finishing touches on her hair. When Kim removed the bib-like hair shield from around the lady’s chest and shoulders, the lady got up, tipped her, and bid her a warm thank you.

“Next week will be fine for your next appointment, Mary.” Kim called after her.

Kim looked up and smiled as Brielle walked in the door.

A Pleasant Appointment at the Salon

“Well, hello, stranger,” she said in a bubbly tone.

“Howdy,” Brielle replied as she tilted her head and smiled back.

“So, what can I do for you, sweetie?” Kim asked kindly.

“Oh, I just need my hair styled. Maybe some beachy waves.” Brielle answered.

“Sure. I can hook you up with some beachy waves,” Kim told her, “Come right on over and have a seat.

Brielle sat down and Kim went to work, washing her hair then taking the hair dryer and a roller brush to it. Brielle looked around to see that there was no one else in the salon.

“So, you work alone?” she asked.

“Today, I do. My two other hairdressers are out with the flu. Luckily, they didn’t have many appointments today. They’ve been sick for a week. Heck! It’s Fall, so, it’s Flu season. Can you believe it. We’ve had a Covid scare and now that it’s over, the flu is back,” Kim said.

Kim the Pleasant Chatty Kathy

“Yeah, I noticed that too. Covid killed the flu and since Covid died out, the flu’s come back to life.” Brielle said, laughing.

“So, did they ever catch that creep that broke in on you a while back?” Kim asked.

Brielle gave Kim the side eye.

“What do you think?” She asked.

“A big nothingburger!”

Brielle gave a thumb’s up as she felt the warmth of the dryer against her head.

“But did you really think those buttheads were going to catch that burglar?”

“Nope. Popeye said they couldn’t catch a cold,” Brielle chuckled, “By the way, I’ll start coming in for a styling once a week. I love a good conversation while having my hair fixed.”

“Oh, girl! Here’s where you’ll hear it all! I have so many stories to tell you,” Kim assured with a smile and a wink.

Brielle smiled back as Kim continued to blowout Brielle’s hair.

The next day, Brielle had no choice but to swallow her pride and go to the Department of Human Services to sign up for assistance. She signed up for food stamps, Medicaid, and welfare.

Brielle sat in the lobby of the DHS office, fussy baby in lap, when caseworker, Barbara Felton, called her back.

As they sat in the cubicle, Barbara read over Brielle’s application.

“So, these were the last two places you’ve worked?” Barbara asked.

A World of Judgement

“That’s correct,” Brielle answered.

“And you’ve moved here from California within the last six months?” The caseworker asked again.


“Now I recognize the place you worked for since you’ve been here. The boot factory is the best paying job around here. But what about the place back in California? Now, what’s the name of that place? Stephanie’s?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“And what was this, a restaurant?”

“No. It was a gentlemen’s club.”

“And what did you do there? Cocktail waitressing?”

“Exotic dancer.”

Barbara’s eyebrows shot up and she paused, looking over her reading glasses at Brielle.

“So, Mrs. Markowitz, you worked as a stripper?” The caseworker said in a tone of slight disdain.

“I prefer ‘exotic dancer.’” Brielle corrected her.

“One and the same.” Barbara reacted in a subtle dig.

“Begging your pardon, ma’am, but what does that have to do with me and my family needing a little help? I didn’t come here to be judged. I came here for help- to be able to feed and clothe my children until I can get back on my feet.” Brielle said as she held her crying baby, Kennedy, in her lap.


“Very well. I’ll get your application processed. In about two weeks, you’ll get a letter in the mail that will inform you of whether you’re approved. Have a nice day, Mrs. Markowitz.”

Sure enough, Brielle got the letter in a week and a half. However, the letter informed her that she was denied assistance. She grabbed her smartphone and called Barbara at DHS.

“Yes, Barbara, this is Brielle Markowitz. I’m calling in regard to the denial letter the state sent me,” Brielle begin.

“Yes ma’am,” Barbara said on the other end, “I’m looking at your case now and the reason you were denied is because you have too many assets. You own a home that’s paid for and you also own a Cadillac Escalade.”

“Yeah, so?”

“In order to get any assistance from the state, I’m afraid you’re going to have to sell your home and your car. And even then, there’s no guarantee you’ll be approved.”

Brielle paused before responding.

“Thanks, but no thanks!” she said in a short tone before hanging up on the caseworker.