Jeb Bohn

Suspense/Thriller/Horror

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In appreciation of Scott Darling

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Originally posted on 7/3/19

Goaltender Scott Darling with the Carolina Hurricanes
September 29, 2017. Carolina Hurricanes vs Washington Capitals, PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC. Copyright © 2017 Jamie Kellner. All Rights Reserved.

The end in Raleigh

On June 30th, Scott Darling was shipped off to the Florida Panthers—who then bought out his contract—ending his tumultuous tenure with the Carolina Hurricanes. Just over two years prior, Darling seemed poised to step in as the Canes’ savior between the pipes. The dark age of inconsistent goaltending would be over.

Early on, it became obvious that wouldn’t be the case. Something was off: the focus didn’t seem to be there, his confidence was MIA, and he was slow-moving. It’s well-known that he showed up to his first camp with Carolina overweight. Perhaps he felt that he had already achieved his goal of becoming an NHL starter.

That, of course, is pure speculation.

Offseason hope fades

After a disastrous first season, Darling spent the summer of 2018 training with Bill Burniston, Carolina’s head strength and conditioning coach. He came into camp in better shape and looked ready to fulfill the hopes that had been pinned on him. Early on, it looked like he might do just that.

While his preseason play wasn’t flawless, Darling looked like a much more focused goaltender and his movement and reflexes a step ahead from the previous season. Things seemed to be on an upward tick for the 6’6″ goalie until an injury in the final game of the preseason put him on the sidelines.

With the regular season fast approaching and the Hurricanes in need of a goalie to compliment the newly-acquired Petr Mrazek, GM Don Waddell claimed veteran backup Curtis McElhinney from the waiver wire. The tandem played well enough that Darling was squeezed out and placed on waivers before being reassigned to the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL. Despite still being under contract, the Scott Darling era in Carolina was effectively over.

A deeper look

Now, that could be the end of this blog; a high-level overview of the past two years of Darling’s career. That would be a disservice. I have a hell of a lot of respect for what Scott Darling has accomplished in life and his time with the Hurricanes has done nothing to lessen that.

Darling endeared himself to fans with the story of how he reached the NHL: struggling at the lowest levels of professional hockey, battling alcohol abuse and declining self-confidence before making a strong showing in the AHL and landing his first NHL contract with the Chicago Blackhawks prior to the 2014-2015 season. He cemented his place in Chicago legend with a stunning playoff performance against the Nashville Predators in 2015 and became the first Chicago-area native to win the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks.

That alone is a story worthy of a Hollywood biopic, but that’s not why I’m writing this.

The human side

Having struggled with mental health throughout my adult life, Darling’s refusal to give up constitutes the root of my respect. He easily could have walked away from the game and into hockey obscurity when he was at his lowest; he could have embraced his problem with alcohol at the expense of all else; he could have pitied himself and pouted, believing that he was owed a fate greater than where he found himself.

Darling did none of those things. He sought help for his problems and worked his ass off to get to where he wanted to be. For a guy who has embraced the image of the Phoenix and the motto “Luctor et Emergo” (struggle and emerge), it should come as no surprise. After the trade to Carolina, Darling penned a heartfelt letter to the fans of the Blackhawks, the team he grew up rooting for, and the team that gave them his shot at the NHL. It was a classy move and one that further cemented the admiration that many hockey fans feel towards him.

Excerpt from Scott Darling’s ‘Goodbye, Chicago’ letter.

I urge all of you to read the full letter. If you’ve read it before, read it again. If you are struggling with anxiety or alcoholism, read it now. Are you a perfectly well-adjusted human being? Read it anyway, because it is phenomenal.

Throughout his time in Raleigh, I would find myself relating to the mindset of fighting to push through the darkness. Because of this, I never lost hope that he would find his footing in the NHL again. I still have that hope, even though it won’t be with the Hurricanes. More than that, I hope that he’s in a good place and that he’s okay. I hope he continues to grow as a person.

So, here’s to Scott Darling. I wish you all the best. Keep writing your story!

Unexpected Departure

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Originally posted on 9/19/19

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

-John Lennon

Y’know, I’ve never been a huge Beatles fan. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy much of their work, I’ve just never been a fanatic. Maybe that’s changing. Yes, I know that the lyric is from a solo John Lennon, the point remains the same. That point? I don’t know. Then again, it’s irrelevant because the words he wrote are painfully true.

A few weeks back, I dropped my son off at school and went to grab groceries for my mom and my uncle (who happens to live next door to her). Both suffer from Retinitis Pigmentosa, so neither of them drive. When my uncle came over, he was short of breath and talking about going to the hospital if he didn’t improve.

Fast-forward to a week and a half ago, and he was in the hospital. Anemic. Low on blood. He received a transfusion but a question remained: where had the blood gone?

Soon, we had the answer and it wasn’t one that we wanted. Colon cancer. The doctors were sure that it had been caught early and his prognosis was good. The initial surgery went well, but things took a turn. Soon, we were hearing about septic shock and organ failure. Where a few days earlier we were looking forward to a full recovery, we had now been slapped in the face by a cold and harsh reality: my uncle wasn’t coming home.

To be completely transparent, I am not a person who handles this type of thing particularly well. I got angry. I was angry at the doctors for the massive swing in his status. I was angry at my inability to do anything to make the situation better. I was angry that my family was having to go through this. I was angry that my uncle was being taken from us at 60.

I’m still angry, but I’m doing my best to make peace with it.

I look back at things: the stories he would tell of his wild youth, the loving uncle that myself and my cousins saw, and the chronic worrier, something I am all-too-well familiar with in my own life. There are endless stories I could tell from my own childhood, but I’m far too weary to get into all of that right now. Still tired, still angry.

What sticks out the most to me is my uncle’s relationship with my son. From the day he was brought home from the hospital, Jack has been inseparable from his great-uncle. If I had a dime for ever hour they spent together, I wouldn’t be writing. I’d be on a yacht somewhere off of a secluded island. On the weekends that I would take Jack to spend with his Oma and his uncle, I felt good. I knew that Jack would love it and I knew that my mom and uncle would as well. I would get calls about pillow forts and wheelchair races. The calls usually ended with Jack setting the phone down and running off to resume play.

When things with my uncle took that damned turn, I had to sit Jack down and tell him. I realized that through everything, I kept thinking about him: how he would react, how much it would hurt, and how little I wanted to have that conversation with him. It didn’t break my heart; it ripped it out, stomped on it, doused it in kerosene and set it aflame before pissing on it to put the fire out. It was the single most painful thing that I have ever had to do.

So, as we prepare to lay my uncle to rest, I find myself reflecting more on my son’s time with his beloved Uncle Neal rather than my own. That’s not to say that I don’t have those same positive memories (I do) or that I haven’t reflected on them (I have), it’s just that this has all been more heartbreaking because a child is having a hero ripped away.

And just like that, someone’s cutting onions again.

I love you, Neal.

Jack loves you too.

Rest Easy.

The unending joys of setting up a new website.

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Mother of God.

Not only is that a killer (if overused) Super Troopers reference, it’s an incredibly succinct way of summing up the past week or so. You see, the fun started when I realized that my domain and web hosting plan were both up for renewal.

I’m sure you can imagine the untethered jubilation that I felt.

If you can’t, think back to the last time you smashed your thumb with a hammer, it’s a close approximation.

I’m not the kind of person that handles change particularly well; it’s a flaw and I own it, but it’s who I am.

So, why change?

I was familiar with my existing host and their system, so that didn’t spur my move. Likewise, I never had any complaints with speed, support, or anything else.

For God’s sake, why?

Okay, Jeb, then why in the hell did you do it?

Like so many things, it came down to money. To be more specific, any plan would have been much more expensive this time around, and, unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of being able to throw fistfuls of cash at anyone.

With that in mind, I set off to find a host that was both reliable and reasonably priced. Thankfully, I found one quickly. The initial setup was smooth up until the time to transfer my domain.

Ugh.

Okay, I’ll be honest with you: disliking change isn’t my only flaw. Shocking, I know. Truth is, I have a tendency to be a wee bit impatient and the transfer—all things told—took seven days.

An entire week. The horror.

The impatient writer

I know, that’s nothing out of the ordinary, but I was amped up and ready to get started on my new site and now I had to wait seven days before I could start. Yes, writing kept me occupied, as did everything else in life, but I was itching to re-established my online presence.

Finally, the domain transfer was complete and I was able to get started.

Time for champagne?

Not quite.

See, I had used my original host for years and I knew all of the ins and outs. If I wanted something done, I could execute it in a matter of minutes. Now, I had to learn a new system, a new way of getting things done.

More change; so much happiness. Then again, the website is live and—while I’m still adding to it—I’m pleased with everything so far (speaking of which, be sure to check out the updated Novels and Novellas pages).

I know this is a minor complaint, but that’s not really the point here. Instead, it’s to get back in touch with everyone and let you all know what’s been going on with me, other than writing.

I hope that you are all doing well, maintaining your sanity, and enjoying life as best you can during this strange time.

And, if you’re setting up a new website, godspeed.

-Jeb

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