Hope everyone is doing fabulous. I’m celebrating the released of my New Book, Another World. This fun action-packed young adult novel is already making a splash, making the lists of Amazon Hot New Releases.
If you are looking for a fun new book for you or a dear-one, get your copy today and enjoy this special sales price of $1.99 for a limited time.
Another World: Bullied, unwanted and alone, Madison can’t wait to get out of New York City. In a last ditch effort to save her life, she takes a plunge down a garbage chute to get away from her tormentors. What she never expects is to be dropped in the middle of a whole new world.
Greetings from the East Coast and Happy Thursday!Theo Publishing Kade Cook Newsletter —Happy Thursday! I hope everyone is having a great week.
And as you may have guessed, its mid-month so that means it’s time to deliver you the goods and as promised, here is this month’s promos and contests. I hope you all have a great rest of the month and find some really great reads.
Scorching Reads Summer Giveaway Enter to Win : www.bit.ly/1Qbgltc 💰GP $100 PayPal Cash💰 33 Books 📖 33 Prizes 🎁 Or Just click on the picture to find your next adventure.
Check out these exciting new books below: (just click on the pictures to go to the link)
Greetings sports fans and welcome to another thrilling episode of Vegas Valley Sports beat that spunky little sports column that can and just might survive the zombie apocalypse due to a lack of discernible brain activity.
I’m sitting out on my front porch this lovely Monday evening enjoying the slightly cooling touch of a slight south-easterly breeze that is finally stirring up this muggy heat we’ve been enjoying so little as of late. And speaking of grasshoppers how about those hoppin’ little green boogers huh? Aren’t they a hoot? That’s nothing just wait until they all become locusts.
Speaking of deep religious matters let us turn our attention now to yesterday, July 28th and the fact that yesterday was my 55th annual birthday celebration which for the 5th annual year in a row almost, I had the honor and privilege of attending my own free keg party at the Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings Nevada yesterday, July 28th.
The world-famous Pioneer Saloon was built by a prominent local businessman named, George Fayle. The Pioneer Saloon first opened the front door for business in 1913 and which makes it the oldest operating Saloon in the state of Nevada.
The walls both inside and out were manufactured by Sears and Roebuck and are of made of beautiful stamped tin panels. It is thought to be the last of its kind in the United States. The bar, which was installed in 1913, was made by the Brunswick Company of Maine in the 1860s and it still features the original brass foot rail which was also installed in 1913.
Video gamers will surely recognize the Pioneer Saloon from the popular video game Fallout 3 as the Pioneer Saloon is where the game really begins. It must be noted however that all though the two versions may vary this Pioneer Saloon is the real McCoy. Accept no substitutes.
Set far and away from the blare and the bustle of the maddening crowd, the Pioneer Saloon is situated 20 miles west of Las Vegas on I-15 West. Taking a right turn at the Jean exit and following your front tire(s) a few more miles down the road will find you in beautiful downtown Goodsprings, Nevada where the rugged desert landscape that surrounds the Pioneer Saloon is as tough and timeless as the history of the mining town it grew up in.
The first time I visited the Pioneer Saloon was in 2014. I was riding with a group of motorcycle enthusiasts like myself and while I was there I purchased a lifetime membership to the Association of Assholes which entitles me to a free keg party every year on my birthday for the rest of my life.
I’m sorry but even a near totally total teetotaler such as myself simply cannot beat that deal with a stick. of course, I signed up. It turned out that the initiation speech was well worth the price of admission in and of itself.
If I was not in fact such an asshole I probably would have been offended instead of finding myself in total agreement as they loudly heralded my lifelong commitment to being an asshole in front of the whole bar but there you have it, my friends, if the shoe fits wear it. At least you get a free keg of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer out of it at the Pioneer Saloon every year thereafter for the rest of your life. A man has got to have his priorities in order you know.
I invited more than 8,600 people from Twitter and millions from fubar.com but you know how it goes. People are busy they have jobs to go to and children to watch and it can be a long flight to Las Vegas from London, Dallas, or Washington D.C. so I was not at all disappointed when it was just myself my very good friend Jim, my editor-in-chief Mark Satorre and his family made a total 6 in our little party. What we lacked in size we made up for in fun, laughter, genuine enthusiasm for the day which we seized without a doubt, and a few good riddles.
Shortly after we met up and got settled in, a larger birthday party of Spanish ladies and gentlemen arrived and we made a large group of new friends.
The Pioneer saloon has such a fantastic and varied menu that ranges from steak and eggs to their ghost pepper specialty menu. Last time I had the ghost pepper barbecue burger and it was screamin’ good. If that does not suit your palate no worries my friends I can assure you that every taste bud will find something toothsome and quite savory to gnaw on at the Pioneer Saloon. I and Jim both had the grilled chicken breast sandwich with grilled mushrooms and cheese no cheese respectively and we agree they were superb. Jim said he will order the same thing next time we visit and you can bet that will be soon as Jim also visits the Pioneer on a semi-regular basis.
While we were having our little double-birthday soiree a tour group came in and the tour operator held part of a ghost tour at the corner table behind me. It sounded like fun but I did not catch the whole story as I was somewhat distracted at the time. Some other folks came in as well and a few others chose to eat at the bar but it was full of friendly faces but it was quite evident that a good time was had by all.
At 106 years old and still going strong, the venerable Pioneer Saloon is most certainly haunted. Yep, you can bet your garlic cloves and prayer beads on that and if you don’t believe it they’ll be happy to lock you in the haunted jail for as long as you can stand it. At your request of course. Unless that is someone else has you locked up in it first and yes they can do it if they pay the bounty for your immediate incarceration.
I spoke to the head of the ghost hunters when he offered me a position on the team and he told me something there burned him on the back of his neck like a cigarette burn and left a welt.
The Pioneer saloon has so much character and living history and it is there to see on the framed pictures and old newspapers on the walls and the bullet holes in the walls themselves which could surely tell many blood-chillingly scary ghost stories about ghoulies, ghosties, long-legged beasties, and things that do The Bump in the night when everyone has gone home. No question but those walls could sing a few thousand sad songs and tell a million funny tales.
The Pioneer Saloon has so many options and amenities available that they are far too numerous to list.
Almost.That’s not even counting the cool back patio with picnic tables and conversation pits where good friends old and new can circle up and enjoy good times beneath the misting canopy. With a full bar outside the back door and an attentive waitstaff on hand, all a world-weary time traveler has to do is put their feet up in front of the fire pit and listen to the world passing by to the rhythms of a bluegrass duo, solo rock/blues artist, or country group playing just inside. It all depends upon when you get there.
Every time I have visited the Pioneer Saloon there has been a group playing live music and anyone bold enough to get up there and belt one out is always welcome to sing along with the performers on stage, or they might even go solo if they wish.
That is one of the Pioneer Saloon’s most endearing qualities to my mind because every human being carries a song close to their heart that they secretly want to sing out loud in front of a live audience at some point in their lifetime and others love to sing no matter who hears it. I myself am one of the latter.
I’m so proud to call Noel, the owner of the Pioneer Saloon, a very good friend of whom I have high regard because I know him as a genuinely decent and friendly man. I’ve had four parties out of the last five birthdays since obtaining my membership and not once has there been so much as a hiccup or a hitch in reserving whatever day I choose to hold the party. The beer is always there, it is always cold, and they are always glad to see you again whether they remember you or not. I can totally relate so no worries there.
This coupled with the high level of prompt service, friendliness, and knowledgeability of the Pioneer’s staff regarding the history of the Saloon make it a fine establishment without question.But there is so much more to it than that and for those reasons I would sincerely and highly recommend to anyone who is visiting our fair city of Las Vegas, or if you live here already, to take the time out to discover Goodsprings, Nevada the best little Saloon in the Silver State for themselves as soon as possible. If you have any further questions they will be happy to answer them for you promptly and courteously.Feel free to tell them that asshole Charles Ramos Jr from Vegas Valley News sent you.
Believe it or not, the story you are about to read is true. No names have been changed because the innocent need no protection, and the statute of limitations ran out decades ago anyway.
42 years have come and gone since that crazy night in rural Arkansas but I still recall very clearly how it all began with one simple statement. Even after all these years it still lies as fresh in my memory as if it had just happened yesterday.
“You did what!?”I heard my mother ask, Bill , my stepfather when he told her what he had done. Bill repeated himself confirming it.
“I paid two guys to come and kill you all tonight.” and he said it as matter-of-factly as if he were saying he’d made a pot of coffee or was in the mood for a grilled cheese sandwich.
” And just how much did you pay them?” My mom wanted to know even though she clearly didn’t believe a word of it. That was because Bill was given to drinking far too heavily and lying far too often.
“I paid them two cases of beer.” Bill replied smugly. That hardly lent much credence to his claim in my mother’s eyes or those of my little brother Richard who was 12 and I was a world-weary 14 going on 40.
My mother did not want to believe Bill and she told him as much but the sad truth was that with Bill even such an absurd statement was well within the realm of possibility.
For that very reason while they continued to argue over that and numerous other things I made up my mind that he was probably telling the truth for once because of the smarmy way he was bragging about it.. Still he could have been lying, even so I decided not to take any chances and made plans to lay an ambush for the assassins should they show up as advertised.
I waited until they had taken their argument outdoors and took the opportunity I had been waiting for. I went into their bedroom and quickly searched until I found what I was looking for. Equalizers. Bill had a 20 gauge Remington pump shotgun, my mother had a 22 caliber Ruger semi-automatic pistol with a German Luger holster, and then there was my own gun, a Marlin bolt action 22 rifle I got for my birthday 2 years before.
There was also an ample supply shotgun shells and .22 caliber bullets. I took them all lock, stock, and barrel and I hurried back to the bedroom I shared with my little brother. His eyes bugged wide-open when he saw that I had taken all of the guns and ammunition “What are you going to do with those?” He asked in a hushed voice.
“If those guys show up like Bill said they are then we’re going to give them a surprise party.” I replied.
He thought it was a good idea but being as young and naive as he was he was still scared. Bill had been thoughtful enough to tell our Mom what time the hit men would be arriving that evening. They would be there at 7:00 pm.
So at 6:30 Richard and I snuck the guns out to our mother’s Mazda pickup truck and sat in the cab while I loaded the shotgun, pistol, and my rifle.
“What are we going to do if they come while we’re still in the truck?” Richard asked as I stuffed the rest of the shells into my pockets.
“If they do then I will kill the dome light and sneak out into the woods. You duck down on the floorboard where they won’t see you when they walk by.” I told him, “but don’t worry they won’t.” I assured him. Talk about your famous last words. No sooner had I spoken them a car pulled into our driveway.
“They’re here!” Richard cried out as I reached up and turned off the dome light overhead.
Our killers had come early but that was not really a problem. “I know.” I said, “Now get down on the floorboard and don’t let them see you. Stay here and I’ll be back for you in a few minutes.”
As he got down on the floorboard I open the driver side door praying that I had correctly set the dome light switch so that it would not light up when the door opened. Thank God it did not come on as I slipped out of the truck and closed the door. I crept alongside the front tire around to the front of the truck and watched the car coming up our driveway through the windows of the cab. The topper on the bed assured that it was impossible for them to see me.
Our trailer, it should be pointed out, sat on 14 acres of forest land outside of Dardanelle Arkansas. Behind us was the Ouachita National Forest and in front of us just across the highway was Dardanelle Lake not a stone’s throw away.
That night it was extremely dark and I was dressed all in black from head to toe. I had belted on the Luger holster but I was carrying the two rifles and it was rather awkward. I planned to hide one of the long guns when I slipped into the woods only a few feet away from the driveway that cut a path through the border of the forest.
There I would be able move around unseen by our new friends. My hiding place was a bit tenuous but I decided that if they did happen to discover me then the element of surprise would be on my side and only a fool would argue with a 20 gauge pump shotgun. I hoped.
I moved slowly around the side of the truck as an old white car which turned out to be a Rambler from the 1960s pulled up behind the Mazda and stopped about 20 feet away and off to one side. I could see the driver clearly as I did my best to meld with the shadows alongside the truck hoping that the driver would not walk around my side of the truck but go the other way around past the side Richard was hiding in so they would be unable to see either one of us in the gloaming of nightfall.
I could not see the man in the passenger seat but I did when they had first pulled up in the driveway. What I had not seen was that there were two more people in the backseat, but they did not get out when the two men up front did. I could feel the truck rocking and shaking while Richard tried to make himself one with the floor mat. I remember wishing that he would hurry up and achieve that oneness before he gave our presence away to the killers.
Just as I had hoped he would the driver walked around the front of his car then he and his partner walked past Richard and myself blissfully unaware they were being followed by the tiny brass bead atop the end of a gleaming shotgun barrel. Had they spotted either one of us the whole thing would have ended right then and there in a cloud of bird shot and gun smoke. But alas, no such luck.
The lights in the trailer were all ablaze and spilling bright golden light out into the dooryard but the comforting rays of light could not compete with the pitch black Arkansas night, and the shadows of the tall pines that surrounded us.
I knew that I had to avoid that light at all costs as I moved away from the truck and out across open ground to the woods facing the front of our trailer. I made it unseen to the small but cavernous clearing beside our now abandoned dog kennels. They were the remnants of Bill’s harebrained scheme to raise Beagles to sell for hunting dogs when the state was contemplating banning larger dogs from running deer. Like most everything else he did it did not amount to anything at all when the bill failed to pass in the state legislature.
It was there that I made myself a sniper’s nest where I could easily keep a weather eye on our guests. Both of whom I could clearly see through the numerous bay windows spaced along the front of the trailer. The windows were open and I could hear them talking every now and then. I was afraid for my mother’s safety but I had decided that if one of them was foolish enough to pull out a gun a head shot from a .22 long rifle hollow point would definitely changed his mind. The battle plan from that point on was to take control of the situation through surprise and superior firepower to get my mom out of the trailer and away to safety.
Then while our would-be terminators were still inside with their employer I intended to blow up the twin propane tanks that sat close to the front door. Both of which contains approximately 200 gallons of compressed propane gas between them. The resulting explosion would no doubt be spectacular and would devastate anything near them.
Including the trailer, and whatever manner of trash that was in it.
Before long Bill, Mom, and Bill’s two hired hit men whom I had by then learned were named Daryl and his other brother Darryl, or Donald, or whatever his name was left the trailer and came outside into the dooryard.
The floodlight beside the front of the door was on now and I could see that Daryl had a silver handgun tucked into his belt, partially but not completely hidden beneath the denim jacket he wore. That meant I kept the sights of my rifle trained upon him the entire time they were out there.
I did not know it at the time but my mom had already warned Daryl and Darryl that I was out there in the woods somewhere with a rifle pointed at them and that I’m an expert shot. She told them that if they pulled that gun I would blow them all straight to Hell. All of which was true, but how she knew I was out there and armed is beyond me to this day. I guess it’s an inescapable truth that your mother always knows what you are up to even if you don’t think she does. A mother just knows so I guess it’s a mom thing. (Note to self self find out how Mom knew all that stuff).
I couldn’t hear the conversation but it had taken on a more civil tone than it had started off with when they were inside. No longer were they arguing and I relaxed a little but I did not let my guard down for even a second. Daryl was still armed and they were still there because they had been paid to come and kill us. And $14 worth of beer is $14 worth of beer after all and a job is a job. After about 30 minutes of jawboning they went back inside so I went and got Richard out of the truck.
That was when we discovered that the Rambler was still occupied by two young ladies in their twenties. They saw us and called us over so we went to see what was up. I was still armed so I was not really worried about them being a danger to us. Their names were Betty and Little Bit. Betty was a big big girl on the far side of 250 lb while Little bit was a tiny dark haired girl. Both of them were very nice though and we started talking to them. We discovered they had just come along for the ride and had no idea what they were doing there at our house.
I stashed the shotgun and my .22 rifle against a nearby tree well out of sight but I still had the Ruger on my belt. In the dark against my black clothing they could not see the holster. Ironically right there in the backseat sat the two cases of beer that had purchased lives of my mom, my younger brother, and me. It was bad enough that we weren’t worth much more than $9.33 apiece to our would-be killers, but to make matters even worse it was Miller in the can and it was lukewarm. YUCK! Talk about adding insult to injury.
I figured what the hell though and bummed a beer from them and little bit gave Richard one as well. We sat there in the driveway drinking our assassins beer and shooting the breeze with their women while they were inside doing whatever it is that cheap assassins do when they’re not actually assassinating.
After a couple of beers I felt the sudden urge to answer the call of nature so I sidled over along the side of the Rambler out of side of the girls and was about to take a leak behind the car when I happened to notice the gas cap was right there.
Being ever the clever practical prankster that I am, not to mention being slightly tipsy already from two beers I was in a rare mood and I thought, what the hell? I carefully removed the gas cap whipped it out and pissed in their gas tank, and laughing to myself the whole time.
When I was finished I whispered to Richard that whenever he had to pee he should pee in the gas tank which was still open Richard did just that too. Who says that little brothers aren’t good for anything? Oh yeah that was me wasn’t it? So anyway.
We passed at least two hours there shooting the shit, drinking their beer, and pissing it into the Rambler’s gas tank as it made its way through our bodies. I know I visited the gas tank three times myself and Richard pissed in it at least two times. We drank a pretty fair amount of their beer but since we gave it all back I would say it was a fair trade. Eventually our would-not-be killers came outside again and I vanished into the night. Meanwhile Richard who was now half drunk stayed there by the Rambler talking to the girls. I don’t know how it happened really, I guess it was my drunken 12 year old brother’s bright idea but he brought Daryl over to where I was lurking behind a tree keeping an eye on the Daryl twins.
Daryl introduced me to himself, “Hi, I’m Daryl,” he said holding out his hand for me to shake but since I was armed to the teeth with a long gun in each hand I could not shake it. Jokingly I replied, “Hi, I’m the National guard armory and laughed about it because I was carrying enough arms and ammo to start a brief but intense war with myself or any assassins who happened to drop by.
Daryl, however, failed to see the humor and nearly blew a head gasket. “Oh yeah?! he snapped back at me, “well I’m a Green Beret. I’m going to go get my gun and then we’ll see how bad you really are! I’ll kill you!” he yelled as he ran back to the trailer. Apparently to borrow his gun back from his brother Donald or Daffy or whatever it was.
“Okay fine. You just do that.” I said to his back as he ran away. “And while you do that I’ll just move to a nicer ambush spot. But first I got myself another warm beer and took a pee in his gas tank again. I set up my ambush behind a fishing cabin that sat at the end of our driveway because it was out in the open but the moon cast black pools of deep shadows beneath the trees behind me and back lit the highway at the entrance to our driveway.
I figured that Mister Green Beret who forgot his gun would be along in due time if you really wanted to kill me and to my delight he did not disappoint me nor did he make me wait very long. I had yet to finish my beer when here he comes running up the driveway. I took the safety off of the shotgun and brought it to bear on the spot where he would emerge on the other side of the cabin.
The silver glow of the full moon light gleamed off of the brass bead at the end of the barrel and it did not waver a single millimeter as Daryl appeared in it in the sight picture. The little bead easily tracked his head which was beautifully framed in the moonlight. He was running straight into the jaws of death and didn’t even know it.
I had my finger on the trigger and I was about to send him back to God when here comes my idiot little brother running down the driveway right behind him helping him look for me of all things. I loved my little brother but I swear he can be such a dumb ass sometimes. I could not take chance of shooting him by accident so I pulled back and retreated into the shadows while Mr. Beret searched high and low for me but he never did find me. Unbeknownst to him that failure saved his life.
Finally he abandoned the search he went back inside and I went back to drinking his beer with Richard, Betty, and Little Bit and pissing it back in his gas tank. The girls never did catch us peeing in the tank and Richard and I were laughing ourselves sick every time we filled her up.
But now this is where the story gets weird. Or should I say weirder? I will say things went from weird to worse then got a lot weirder. God only knows how, so I can only guess how it came about, but somehow we all suddenly became good friends that night. The next thing we know Richard and I are going out to Daryl and his other brother Darryl’s house to spend the night.
To make it even stranger still we went with them! I was fairly drunk by then but I didn’t think I was quite that drunk. Even so there we were in the assassins Rambler headed off to God only knows where in the middle of the night.
We rode up front with Darrell who was quite drunk while Darly who was even drunker sat in the back seat wedged tightly in between Betty and Little Bit. We were tooling along through the darkened Arkansas countryside for a very long time and during all this time Richard and I both watched gas gauge very closely. I had noticed while talking to the girls that they had arrived with a quarter of a tank, but by the time we left our house it had gone up to half of a tank.
That of course meant that half of the gas in the tank was nothing but recycled beer, and the other half was unleaded. We drove on for what seemed like forever and neither Richard nor myself had the slightest idea where we were once we left Paris and London far behind. That wasn’t half as bad as the fact that both of us knew that any minute now the Rambler was sure to get a mouth full of piss and die from it way the hell out in the middle of Bumfuck Egypt.
I watched the gas gauge, prayed a lot and waited for the inevitable. By this time Daryl had passed out cold and had slumped over on Betty’s shoulder. He was snoring loudly as we came to a turn off from the highway and the Rambler began slowing down to make the turn onto a dirt road. It was then that Betty tried to wake him up but without a great deal of luck.
“Hey! Wake up Darryl we’ll be home in a minutes,” she said as she shook him hard enough to rattle his wisdom teeth loose. But Daryl was out like the proverbial light.
“Hey!” she shouted after a few more unsuccessful attempts to rouse him, “you better wake up because if my old man sees you sitting next to me you know he will get jealous and he’ll kill you. Still Daryl did not stir, not even the slightest despite Betty’s warnings of imminent danger death waiting just around the bend. Meanwhile, I was trying to wrap my beer-soaked brain around the mental image of Betty’s old man. I was thinking she has got to be kidding.
It was at this point that Betty reared back with a big meaty fist and sock Daryl with a reverse uppercut right in the cojones. You know that had to hurt because it hurt me just to watch it. All that time I had suspected that Daryl was faking being asleep but I was wrong. He never even stopped snoring.
“Damn, woman all you did was knock him out for real I told her.
But a minute later Daryl did wake up and traded places with little bit he never even mentioned his sore cojones either. All I can say is, DAMN! We drove down a straight pitch-dark back country dirt road for what must have been 20 miles into the thick forest land and all the while my thoughts alternated between the gas gauge and wondering when the rambler was going to die and leave us stranded at midnight in the garden of Good and Lost, and debating myself over whether I should have Donald stop so I could pee in it again. I decided not to push my luck that far.
At long last we reached the home of the to Darrell’s home sweet home scared which I later learned was in the area of little Texarkana due to its close proximity to Big Texarkana. We pulled up in the driveway in front of a rundown old trailer(of course) that sat close to the road. near buy set a second trailer that was off to one side. Everybody piled out of the car then Betty and little bit went off towards the other trailer to the sidewall us boys along with the rest of the beer went into the closer trailer.
Their trailer looked old and run down from the outside but inside it was actually fairly nice and cozy . So after a quick trip to the bathroom I grabbed myself another beer and settled into an armchair beside the living room door which was to my left. To say that it was really weird to be sitting there in the lair of our assassins would be or not or after otherwise is the understatement of the century but it was cool and soon we were all shooting the breeze like old war buddies at the local VFW Hall.
Richard was sitting in an old green couch beside my chair and Darrell was on the other end of the couch while Daryl stood beside him leaning back against the wall.
So there we were just drinking beer and having some yuck’s when all of a sudden the front door exploded outward slamming into the outside wall of the trailer behind me so hard that it damn near scared the crap right out of me I don’t mind telling you. Little did I know yet but that was nothing compared to what was coming next.
If you were to go back in time to a Blockbuster Video rental store and go to the horror section you would find a movie whose name I cannot recall but I can see it the cover even with my eyes closed or wide open.
There on the cover of this horror movie stands a man in a dirty pair of bib overalls. He’s standing in an open doorway and he has a dirty scraggly long black beard and hair and he looks like the professional wrestler once known as hillbilly Jim. He is a mountain of a man and in one giant fist he holds a massive inch butcher knife.
The man on the movie box does not look at all friendly to say the least. When the door flew open I spun around to see who it was and there in Daryl’s doorway stood the man who must have served as the model for that picture. Either that or it was his bigger evil twin brother.
Either way I could not have cared less which was which because this giant had the biggest damn butcher knife I had ever seen before in my life. And brother let me tell you that man was severely pissed off at somebody for something, I only hoped that it wasn’t me.
“Daryl you son of a bitch,” he roared I’m going to kill you!” Whew! dodged that bullet I thought, it’s not me thank God. He damn sure convinced me though so I started looking for an alternative exit from that damned trailer because a tiny little voice in my drunken brain was telling me that this homicidal maniac was probably not going to be in the mood to leave any living witnesses lying around.
That little voice was also urging me to either find an exit or make my own exit if I could not find one. the pissed-off homicidal giant seemed to be in quite an ill humor because somehow or other he had found out that Daryl had been in the back seat of the rambler with his wife Betty. Which of course ended all of my mental musing about the physiognomy of Betty’s husband right then and there.
“You sorry mother fucker!” He roared. ” How many times have I told you before about screwing around with my wife? Now you are going to die!” he informed poor Daryl who, Green Beret or no Green Beret looked for all the world like he was even closer to shitting his pants than I was. Which hardly seemed possible just then. Quickly I looked around the trailer and wouldn’t you just know that the damn thing did not have a back door like our trailer did? Nor did it have any windows in sight except for the one right behind me. Of course.
I then decided that I had two options open to me. I could either go into the bathroom and jump out the tiny window or I could just make a hole in the wall and run for it. Or or I could start acting like I was deaf, dumb, and blind and say I saw no evil heard no evil and was incapable of speaking evil, in the hopes that the giant would not decide to kill me anyway. Personally I was leaning heavily towards option two but I could not just run off and leave my hapless little brother there all by himself to be slaughtered.
I decided that since the big man was probably going to kill Daryl first that while he was busy doing that I would grab Richard and see about setting a new land speed record for running 20 miles down a dark deserted Arkansas back road.
I figured why the hell not? Iif he can catch me in the woods in the dark then good luck, and more power to him because my own plans called for being at least three miles away by the time he was finished carving Daryl up much less his other brother Darryl.
The not so Jolly Green Giant was so jealous of his beloved Betty and the man could see nothing but red at that moment. I thought for certain it was curtains for brother Daryl but the big man never moved past the door post, (Thank you Jesus). He just wanted to vent his spleen at Daryl who for his part was doing his very best to placate him. I guess once the big man saw that his domain was not being challenged and felt that he had sufficiently scared half the life out of all of us he began to calm down. He gave Daryl a warning about screwing around with his woman again and then with a menacing growl that was more befitting a Grizzly bear than a man, he turned on his heel and left us to try and get our hearts beating again on our own.
I personally had to make another trip to the bathroom to check my underwear for foreign substances and the line formed up behind me. Richard and I both proceeded to get stinking drunk which really wasn’t very far from where we are at already. Darryl and Darryl made us right at home with pillows and blankets when we finally decided to pass out on the living room floor. Later the same day, right after we all had breakfast they took us back home again.
And again all I could think about was how close that gas gauge was to reaching a quarter of a tank again. Since piss is mostly made up of water it doesn’t mix too well with gasoline. I was sure that we were going to end up walking home but believe it or not we actually made it home again home again jiggity jig. The Darryls only stayed for a few minutes to chat with Bill who, as it later turned out was their supervisor on a Yell County work crew then they split never to be seen by us again.
We did see Betty and Little Bit who were friends of my older brother Jerry’s, from time to time, however; It turned out that the Darrell’s offered to take Richard and I home with them to allow Bill and our mother to kiss and make-up. Yeah right like that would ever happen. Personally I would have just as soon they had went somewhere and checked into a motel or sent us to one rather than sending us to the farther side of Bumfuck, Arkansas with two rejects from the movie Deliverance. But when you’re a 14 year old kid what can you do? Sigh. Frankly, I am very happy that I did not have to kill Daryl that night because I don’t think a 14 year old boy should have to kill his own assassins until he is at least 18. Maybe 21 which is now the legal drinking age. I later got the opportunity to body slam Bill a couple of times. I later had an opportunity to body slam Bill a couple of times so I guess we’re even now but I often remember the night of the hillbilly hit men and that rambler and cannot help but laugh my ass off at the sheer absurdity of it all.
If I have learned anything at all from that whole insane experience I would say it is this.
When it comes to hit men you get what you pay for.
Telling your intended victims ahead of time that you hired someone to kill them and when they are coming is just plain stupid.
Stay the Hell away from married fat chicks named Betty.
And if you really want a good reliable used car that gets great gas mileage, go out and find yourself and old Rambler and a keg of beer. Apparently they can run on piss. Who knew?
The End .
If you enjoyed this true story as much as I did recounting it for you and would like to contribute a small donation please click on the link below. Any amount at all will certainly help me while I am struggling to recover from kidney cancer and get back on my own two feet. I pay everything forward 100%. God bless you and yours and thank you for visiting my website in any event. Charles Ramos Jr. http://paypal.me/bbwolfebooks
Greetings sports fans and welcome back to another hit or miss episode of Vegas Valley Sports Beat that sporadic little sports column that doesn’t know when to quit. It is simply a beautiful Sunday evening here in the verdant Las Vegas valley region. I think it is safe to say that visitors and residents alike are eating up this unseasonably cool Summer weather we are having lately. I am sure nobody has any complaints but if you do too bad.
I have to apologize to my ever patient editor, Mark Satorre, and to my one regular reader in Wahoo, Nebraska for my prolonged absence of late. As some of you may or may not know I am still recovering from the aftereffects of stage 2 kidney cancer and losing my left kidney to a large malignant tumor on October 4, 2017. I should be better by now but for whatever reason, I simply have not improved much after all this time. Plus I have been doing a lot of manual labor lately that has simply exhausted me to the point of depletion but I am rested now albeit still weaker than I should be.
I have my 8,317 followers on Twitter to thank for helping me to get through it but I still have a long way to go yet before I am whole again. I’m not in any shape to do much of anything besides agitate the nation and do whatever I can to make sure that the people of the United States are not taken on a Nantucket sleigh ride to a dog and pony show by the liberal Democratic party.
Tact is defined as the art of telling someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. Socialism can be defined as the art of leading a nation into hell in such a way that people demand they be taken there immediately or else.
This seems to be the agenda of the Democratic party as anyone who has half a brain and who watched the Democratic debates over the past two days could clearly see for themselves. When asked who supported free health care for undocumented aliens in America all 20 candidates raised their hands high.
I have made my position quite clear on the issue of immigration but I will say it one more time. I insist that Congress take action and build the wall along our Southern border with Mexico because it is for a known fact an open invitation for criminals to enter the United States and get set up for life by liberals in Congress, the Senate, and in various state legislatures. And we know that is just the tip of the iceberg. Racketeering, prostitution, human trafficking, drugs, guns, and money flow back and forth across the border like we are having an open house. This is not an inappropriate metaphor given the fact that little could be closer to the truth and yet so far away from it at the same time.
Add welfare fraud, and voter fraud to that shopping list and you begin to see the true scope of the battle between good and evil that is playing out between the Trump administration and the liberal/socialist Democrats. It is anything but a secret anymore yet they continue to deliberately thwart the President at every turn in a pathetic attempt to hold onto the power base. One that they thought they were going to utilize to gerrymander the Republican Party out of the majority in the Senate and for all time in both houses. This would, of course, mean the end of the Electoral College and make it all but unlikely America would ever have seen another Republican President seated in the White House.
I am flying mostly by the seat of my pants here so to speak in that I am writing mostly from memory but I have a pretty good one and I have had the dubious honor of having watched this whole melodrama unfold from the moment Donald J. Trump first announced his intention to run for President in 2016. To say that I was appalled and campaigned against him even being nominated vociferously is an understatement of epic proportions but one that will not be repeated.
Trump was nominated anyway so I said okay fine, he has a snowflake’s chances in Hell of ever beating Hillary Clinton anyway so let the fool run for President. But to be fair I was genuinely interested in what Mr.Trump had to say as a candidate and what his agenda as President might be. It was with a keen interest that I watched all of the news shows and all of the debates and I heard him say nothing of any substance except that quote, unquote “It was going to be great,” and that he was going to, “Make America Great Again.”
I was insulted by the very notion that America was ever anything but great in the first place and I still hold this truth to be self-evident that America is, was, and always will be the greatest nation the world has ever seen. I believe it to also be self-evident that every person who has fought and died, or given of themselves as a sacrifice so that it should be so, and remain so, intended for it to stay that way in perpetuity. This is clearly spelled out in the United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights.
We owe a blood debt of gratitude not only to the men and women who have served honorably in our nation’s armed forces but to veterans of many nations starting with France and Germany. If not for their assistance, and of course the Hessians gift of rifling for General George Washington’s rifles New York would certainly have fallen to the British and the Union Jack could very well be flying over our capital today.
We all know, with the exception of a group of butthurt students in certain unnamed public schools, that when General Washington crossed the Delaware River in a bold and daring attack on the British army we as a nation were teetering on the brink of disaster. The Continental Army was in dire straights and suffering horribly from exposure to the cold in Valley Forge. They were facing starvation and ultimately defeat. It is said that General Washington suffered from self-doubt and indecision throughout the war so his decision to cross the Delaware River had to be one born of desperation. But fortune favors the bold and we won the War of Independence, but only by the skin of our teeth.
During the intervening 24 decades following that unlikely victory over the tyranny of King George and the overwhelming military might of the British Empire the men and women of many great and sovereign nations, including Great Britain, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Australia, France, and Norway just to name a few, have fought bled, and died alongside our armed forces to defend the United States of America so that a nation so conceived in liberty and dedicated to the principle that all men are created equal should not perish from the face of the Earth.
So now here we are 243 years later debating whether or not to simply give that nation away to any foreigner who cares to walk across the border from Mexico and take it from us. I for one am not inclined to just sit back and watch that happen and, happily for America, neither is our President, Donald Trump.
Sadly however the same can not be said for the liberals, socialists, the Democratic party, and now even self-proclaimed Communists who are in the House and Senate. One can just imagine that Senator Joe McCarthy is spinning in his grave right now saying, “You see? I told you so.” You can almost hear him laughing and justifiably so considering the amount of static he caught after he began what I believe was then dubbed a “witch hunt.”
In 1950 Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin began accusing members of Congress, the federal government, Universities, and the motion picture industry of being widely infiltrated by Communist sympathizers, agents, and spies. His strong-arm smear tactics backfired in his face, however; and the term McCarthyism was coined to mean someone who, by means of reckless, demagogic, and unsubstantiated rumors attacks the character and patriotism of a political opponent. Senator McCarthy was ultimately censured by the Senate and his name has more or less been a pariah ever since. In 1957 he died while still in office at the ripe old age of 48. “Hm.” said Alice, “Curiouser and curiouser.”
It seems that Senator McCarthy may have fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole and in his excitement to catch the hoard of proverbial Communist rabbits he found there he came off to the American people as being somewhat of a loon. In light of recent events following directly as they have on the heels of Donald Trump snatching victory right out from under the feet of former Democratic Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suddenly it doesn’t seem so funny anymore does it?
Raise your hand if you remember Hillary Clinton stating to members of her adoring fans in the mainstream corporate media (whom we all now know are as trustworthy as any used snake oil salesman) that the people who supported the candidacy of Donald Trump were a “basket of deplorables.”
I, of course, supported Hillary Clinton because I have always been a Democrat. To me, they were the party of the working man and the Republicans were against everything I thought I stood for. Was this a rational way of thinking? Nope. I caught it from my parents and from other working stiffs like myself on the job, in the classroom, and in the media. The Republican Party was so McCarthyed by Democratic propaganda that it went down one’s throat like an elixir of truth. Real smooth.
So smooth in fact that when Republican Ronald Regan was elected President in 1981 I thought for sure the nation was doomed. President Jimmy Carter was in office before him and the country was a huge mess. Iran had been holding 52 America’s hostage for 444 days, gasoline was in short supply, and unemployment had risen from 6.3% to 7.5% between January 1, 1980, and January 1, 1981. I remember that time very well because, I much like everyone else, could not find a job for love or money.
Miraculously the Iranian hostage crisis ended the day President Regan took office. Before they could even swear him in office in fact and that was because he had served Iran notice that he was coming to kick their collective asses and get the hostages out of there as soon as he became Commander-In-Chief. I also remember it because it was only a matter of weeks later that I had a great job working on an offshore oil drilling platform thanks directly to a program implemented by the Regan administration to help young people like me to find work. I never did make it to the airport to catch a helo out to the platform due to transportation issues but that’s beside the point. Another Regan program helped me learn to find another good job by honing my interview skills and learning to dress the part and to write a respectable resume.
Nobody was offering me a handout just a hand up. But only if I was willing to put the work in to lift myself up and get back onto my own two feet. I was still a dyed in the wool Democrat though, and I thought Ronald Regan was a fool with his trickle-down economics package and Star Wars missile defense ideas. I scoffed at his ideas but I was working so I couldn’t scoff too loud. I had Nancy Regan’s “war on drugs” handy if I really needed something to laugh about.
Mainly I wanted Hillary to win in 2016 for my own selfish reasons. I was hoping that if she was elected President she might possibly make amends for what her predecessor had done to me by taking my name off of Top Hat 10 and sweeping us both under the Oval Office carpet before anyone thought to ask how in the world he ever managed to seal off the runaway oil well in the Gulf of Mexico within a month of having told the world on June 16, 2010 there was no way the U.S. or British Petroleum could stop the 45,000 barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf every day until mid-September. BP never did cement the wellhead shut until then either.
But by then it was already capped off and the oil no longer spewed into the sea. If you were to look up the press conference President Obama gave that day he asked for anyone from the private sector who might have any ideas at all how to stop it to write to him at the White House and that is exactly what I did. While he was still yapping I wrote down a plan I had been ruminating on for two weeks because it really bothered me to see it day after day gushing oil into the Gulf unchecked. It bothered me to see the gulls and pelicans covered with crude oil and the beach communities I once lived and worked among innundated with oil sludge.
As you can see my plan worked perfectly. Obama followed my instructions to the letter. He even used my own words to describe to America how it would play out in his next press conference on the subject. Am I lying? Not according to the many people I told about the solution prior to it being made public. And since I was in prison at the time it’s highly unlikely that President Obama called me and told me all about it. This all goes to what I am getting at so bear with me a little bit longer. I was devastated by his callous dismissal of my contribution to society and I never got so much as a thank you post-it note from the White House but the truth will come out sooner or later as it always does.
That was when I began to lose all faith in the Democratic party but mostly in Barack Obama. I still hoped Hillary Clinton would make it right because she and Obama did not like one another according to the news. media.
But that all became moot on election night when Donald Trump pulled the rug out from under her political career once and for all by defeating the heavily favored Democratic hopeful so quickly and decisively that it was clear he had somehow engineered a coup of sorts that made it all but impossible for her to win before it was too late.
And then all of a sudden it seemed as though the entire world caught some type of collective insanity which has since been dubbed TDS, or Trump Derangement Syndrome and the crazies started coming out of the woodwork like cockroaches. And from whence did they crawl you ask? From Congress, from the Senate, from Universities, and from the movie, television, and music industries and from their fans. ANTIFA took root and the McCarthyism began with gusto.
They called President Trump a Nazi, they called him a racist, they called him a rapist although nobody could produce any credible proof. But then again nobody with TDS needed proof all they needed was a baseless accusation to base their unbridled hatred upon and they were thorough about it too. I saw a big man punch a woman half his own size in the face because she dared to support her choice for President in public.
And then when you thought that things could not possibly be any crazier than Kathy Griffin displaying the President’s severed head in effigy, online along comes the Steele Dossier and for the next two years, we were all caught up in the Robert Mueller led witch hunt that President Trump calls the Collusion delusion. And rightfully so.
I began writing for Vegas Valley News on January 31, 2017. Just over a year after President Trump took office and thanks to the Parkland shooting two weeks later on February 14, Valentine’s Day, I began watching the news like a hawk. Especially after having personally witnessed how biased the media was with regard to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and to David Hogg in particular. I heard him say that he was at home when the shooting started and how he had ridden his bicycle the three miles to the school to collect “interviews” from the students on his camera phone.
He claimed that his “friend” had confronted the gunman in the boy’s restroom but he was unable to get his story straight after several false starts and the CNN reporter coached him on. If you can not remember the details of a school shooting and keep changing your story then you either were never there or else it never happened. Either way, he was lying. He also said he was not a crisis actor like many people claimed at the time but there on his own IMDb webpage it said Crisis Actor and I got a screenshot of it before he went in and changed it just hours later the following morning because another news agency was looking into it and had discovered Emma Gonzales’s IMDB page and was saying they were cousins.
Once I knew they had a propensity to lie for ratings then I began to watch them more closely and it is crystal clear to me that they don’t report the news they make it up as they go. Sometimes out of whole cloth and always it seemed for the sake of McCarthying the sitting President with vim and vigor. Rachel Madcow and Steven Colbert latched onto the Mueller investigation like a starving pit bull would a raw steak and they, along with other late night pundits who had a seemingly endless supply a cast of clowns from Congress and Hollywood who were quick to declare that President Trump was guilty as sin and should be in prison any day now. They made the most fantastic claims you have ever heard before in your life and the talking bobbleheads in the mainstream media ate it up with a spoon.
Meanwhile, back at band camp, President Trump continued to keep his promises to the American people while the mainstream media circus, clowns and all, attacked First Lady, Melania Trump, and denigrated her for any reason they could find or fabricate, and their left-wing fans took it upon themselves to go so far as to threaten President Trump’s grandchildren. Peter Fonda made a plea for someone to kidnap the President’s 8-year-old granddaughter and said she should be tied up, raped, tortured and killed. Mr. Fonda has since decided and wisely I might add, to crawl back into the depths of the slime pit he crawled out of and keep his idiotic comments to himself.
These same monsters and their fanatical fans would now have us believe that they care so much about the fate of illegal immigrant children who have to live in Federal detention centers because their parents dragged them across the border of the United States and got caught. During the intervening two years between then and now, however; the Mueller report was released after an expenditure of $30 million taxpayer dollars and enough libel and slander to fill a series of novels and make the movies from too.
Robert Mueller stated that he could not find evidence that the President did not act to obstruct that investigation. Which is a unique way of saying guilty until proven innocent. That I have never heard before and now even unto this very minute there are politicians McCarthying on and on about how guilty the report says he is and how Donald Trump should be impeached. But when pressed for a cause liberals can not produce anything but innuendo and hyperbole to support their contentions. And, if you press any one of the liberal trolls on social media, they respond to the facts with violent and abusive language because that is really the limit of their capacity to reason.
Meanwhile back again to band camp and the Democratic majority gained during the mid-term elections has turned the whole thing into a three-ring psycho circus. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and her good pal Chuck Schumer have blocked the President’s efforts to build a border wall at every turn and have even gone so far as to say there is no crisis on the border. This flies directly in the face of the fact that migrant caravans have been marching to our southern border by the thousands bringing serious diseases such as polio and influenza to American soil.
Nancy Pelosi lets them in and gives them hugs, houses, health care, welfare, and free education. Meanwhile, millions of American children and their parents are living on the sidewalks in front of the California Legislature building and in towns and cities all across America. San Francisco was such a beautiful city when I was in Jr High school but now if you look at certain maps all you can see are shit icons where homeless people have taken a steaming shit right there on the sidewalk in front of God and everyone. Why do they do this you ask? I think why not is a far better question. When you have nowhere else to go but in your pants and they’re the only pair you own you drop your drawers and let the chips fall where they may.
Not once have I seen Nancy Pelosi or Diane Feinstein address questions put to them on social media about the plight of homeless Americans living in their state. I have asked them myself several times and I have seen where other people have raised the issue only to be ignored. They all know it’s a huge issue with voters but to say so seems to identify you as a conservative or Republican to them and they never answer. It’s not all that difficult to figure out why they don’t care. It all boils down to money.
Obviously, homeless Americans have no value to them since they can not be exploited any further so they turn their backs on them and cry over the plight of someone else’s citizens who are oppressed in their own countries. They fail to see the hypocrisy in this and blame President Trump for everything that happens to them from the time they are born until they invade the United States looking to make Uncle Sam their sugar daddy. It is said that 65% of the 22 million undocumented aliens who currently reside in the U.S. are receiving state and/or federal assistance and more than 100,000 more of them cross the border every month now.
I wonder; is it just me or does anyone else wonder why it is that there were no caravans of migrants marching through South America to get here before President Trump began building his wall in earnest? Curiouser and curiouser still but it seems quite apparent to me that once the Democrats saw that President Trump is serious about building a wall and closing off the now porous southern border somebody organized these allegedly impromptu marches on our nation in a transparent attempt to load up the numbers and create an intolerable situation for the President to deal with while they sit back and preach about the inhumane treatment of criminals by the White House.
Isn’t it ironic don’t you think to hear the same party who brought you the Civil War and the KKK lynch mobs preaching in public about the plight of “people of color” a term which they have graciously endowed Hispanics with? Being Hispanic all I hear is the N-word in a politically correct new package. I am not really sure if I like being called a nigger any better than being called a greaser, spic, or beaner but it certainly beats the Hell out of being called a liberal or a Democrat. Sticks and stones.
When Barack Hussein Obama was in the White House the Democrats in Congress went on record as saying that in essence that illegal immigrants are a serious issue. Obama went on record to say to the people of South America do not bring your children here. Now all of a sudden it is no longer a problem, Chuck Schumer and friends tell us that there is no human crises on the Southern border, and the detention centers which operated under their watch during the Obama administration are now “concentration camps” that are all President Trumps doing.
They have even gone so far as to trot out old photographs of children living under deplorable conditions that we know for a fact were taken when Obama was in office and lay them at President Trump’s feet. Even after that was exposed publically the same pictures and attendant propaganda continue to resurface on social media
These are the very same people that we were warned about by our founding fathers and who were spoken of by a Senator from Vermont in 1851 when he said that the Democratic party had been acting the way they were then and still are now when George Washington was in office. This was 10 years before Abraham Lincoln was elected President and the Democratic party decided to take their states home wuth themand start their own country in an attempt by the elite few to force slavery down the throats of the many who did not own other human beings.
In a time and place when the median income in the U.S. was $600-$800 a year an 18-year-old male human being cost upwards of $2000. This equates to $40,000 by today’s standards. By a show of hands who has $40,000 to spend on anything these days. Not me I have never even seen that much money at one time. If I did I sure as Hell would never buy a slave with it. A nice used Harley-Davidson and a used motor home so I would have a place to live and a way to get to work. But I would no more own a slave than I would ever allow myself to be one. Abraham Lincoln said that and many Americans mirrored that sentiment at the outbreak of the Civil War.
A senseless and devastating war that claimed the lives of 620,000 American soldiers. Approximately half of all of our war casualties as a nation of 1.2 million soldiers killed in action, died fighting one another over the right of a few to enslave women, children, and men whom our founding fathers said were created equal. They even put it in writing and called it the Constitution but that didn’t include men of color as far as the Democrats were concerned.
Following Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865 many Republicans and common Yankees alike wanted President Lincoln to punish the Democratic party or Confederates as they had renamed themselves, but Lincoln sought to preserve the Union by extending the olive branch of peace and brotherly love to the traitors and for that effort he got a .44 caliber lead ball in the head courtesy of Mr. John Wilkes Booth. A Democrat.
There are many, even to this day, who believe that Booth was in cahoots with the Democratic party when he and his co-conspirators sought to assassinate Lincoln and his war cabinet but managed to get only the President. That does not seem to make much sense given the fact that upon Lincoln’s death the Vice President took over the office of the President.
That is until you realize that in a pre-Civil War attempt to mollify the radical left in Congress and in the nation who had by then been whipped to a fever pitch of hatred for abolitionists or as we now call them, human rights advocates, President Lincoln named Democrat Andrew Johnson of Tennessee as his Vice President. So the result of Lincoln’s assassination was that the Democrats regained the White House immediately after the end of the war. Losing it was what they were so pissed off about in the first place.
What is even lesser known by most is that Andrew Johnson was not only a slave owner but he somehow managed to get Lincoln to exclude his district in Tennessee from the Emancipation Proclamation. which only proves my point, that some people just don’t know when to quit. This type of behavior is clearly alive and well in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
I am certain you must all be wondering by now, how does this all relate to the trouble with Tribbles? I am so glad you asked.
Tribbles, as fans of the popular Television series Star Trek surely know, are an invasive alien species who are really cute, and cuddly. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes they are seemingly innocuous. They do nothing more harmful than eating, sleeping, screwing, multiply, and they don’t say anything they just make a lot of senseless noise. In the episode The Trouble With Tribbles what starts out as a couple of Tribbles onboard the starship U.S.S. Enterprise soon turns into an invasion when two Tribbles suddenly become 20,000 Tribbles and threaten to overrun the ship within a few days before Captain Kirk ingeniously teleports them onto a Klingon warship then gets the Hell out of Dodge at warp factor 8 before they realize they’ve been had.
The lyrics might be different but the song remains the same when you apply them to liberals, democrats, socialists, and communists. On the outside, they seem innocuous. They are kind of cute in their simplistic ways but being gender fluid, and reportedly amorphous, nobody can make heads or tails of them. They do nothing but eat, sleep, screw one another and or themselves, multiply, and make a whole lot of senseless noise that nobody can figure out but themselves. If I were asked to hazard an educated guess I would have to venture that what the Tribbles are saying is, “divide and conquer,” because in the end they do nothing but cause a whole lot of trouble for everyone. Including themselves.
Two nights ago we heard Democratic hopeful Julian Castro say that abortion should be free for everyone including transgender males. That is something that would certainly love to hear if I were a transgender male and feared that I was pregnant and due to deliver an 8 pound anything out of my butthole. But I think it safe to say that is never going to be an issue for anyone. On a related note, some liberal health care providers say they are going to offer cervical smears to transgender males. I would give anything to be a fly on the wall when they try to get their insurance companies to pay for that.
Only in the troubled mind of a Tribble could this possibly make any sense whatsoever. What should really scare the Hell out of conservatives and right-wingers alike is the unfathomable fact that it makes perfect sense to them. What seems on the surface to be a lot of blithering about seemingly unrelated issues in the past has now come to a head and it is plain to see that we as American’s are under attack from an enemy within our own borders and that such has been the case for no less than 240 years.
Abortion, gun control, ANTIFA gangs beating down innocent people on the streets while the police look the other way, mass shootings, mass school shootings, immigrant caravans, victimized children being kept in cages and the Tribbles who shed crocodile tears over their graves after putting them there in the first place, the Mueller investigation and the delusion of collusion, Tribbles in the Legislative branch running to and fro with torches and pitchforks yelling impeach and imprison the traitorous Trump then rape and kill his family, Trump alleged to have raped a Tribble 23 years ago but the trouble with that Tribble is she didn’t bother to mention it to anyone but another Tribble for 23 years. It’s a tied and true trait of Tribbles such as these to just happen to remember such seemingly trivial events just prior to the release date of their new book.
Typical Tribble trouble these days equates to people like Jussie Smollet and his little stunt, and who can forget the DA who slapped him on the tushie and let him off of a 16 felony count indictment with a Coke and a smile? DACA Dreamers and the Tribbles who idealize them, Senator Warren at the #DemDebate who looked like 1/1024th of her was ready to scalp President Trump with the tomahawk she got from a Stuckey’s in 1973. I would be remiss were I not to mention the trouble with one Tribble’s Green New Deal which would denude the nation of all buildings, electricity, trains, planes, automobiles, and of course cow farts. Coming as it does at the low low price of only $97,000,000,000,000 dollars you can add money to that list as well. She either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that once you turn off the electricity 330 million people are going to need wood fuel for heating, bathing, washing, and cooking which means add trees to the extinct species list right next to the entire human race. Turn the power off to America for one week and I guarantee you AOC will be bound, gagged and leaving Earth on the first manned mission to Mars.
The trouble with Tribbles is that their leaders incite them to foul new heights of odious behavior by making promises of free everything for everyone. But if you ask any rat who is caught in a rat trap how he liked the free cheese you are not very likely to get an answer. Still, the fact remains undeniable that if you reset the trap and put more free cheese in it the same rats will fall for it every time. Hook, line, and sinker.
I myself do not have much of anything as far as possessions and no money or hope for employment in the near future because I had some Tribble troubles of my own that left me unemployable due to severe PTSD and serious bodily injuries that make it all but impossible for me to find work but it does not stop me from trying. Nor do I turn down any job no matter how hard or menial it might be. I jump right in and give it hell. Everything I have ever had I either worked for, won from a casino, or outright stolen it. I’ve never been without a home, a car or a motorcycle, or a good paying job. I have never in my 55 years on Earth had to live in a ditch and panhandle to stay alive until Barack Obama took office. Had I not been so naive as to trust him to do right by me for Top Hat 10 I am sure things would be a lot better for me right now.
I should have won a Noble Prize in engineering for the design of Top Hat 10 or at the very least a MacArthur genius grant which would have cost taxpayers nothing but would have changed my life significantly when I got out of prison. I even told him that in a letter. But nope, I screwed the poodle and trusted a Tribble in disguise. He seemed so honest and sincere on Television though.
The point is there is no such thing as a free lunch and the trouble with Tribbles is that they simply cannot comprehend this concept. To Tribbles it’s trivial, it makes no difference if nobody is working and paying for all of those free cheeses as long as it remains free and the trap is set. Then some socialist like Bernie Sanders comes along promising them all the free pie in the sky they can eat and then the Tribble trouble really gets deep. Bernie Sanders denounces capitalism then gets in a chauffeured limousine and goes home to his mansion to count his book royalties. He is laughing all the way to the bank and it is the people he pretends to serve that he is laughing at.
They play on the emotions of confused and undereducated children who do not understand that they are pawns in a bigger game whose ending does not bode well for pawns at all. But try explaining that to a Tribble and you see the true scope of the trouble President Trump faces and which we as a nation face as well. One tug at their tender little heart-strings and liberals are all atwitter with anticipation of the good life they will never be a part of. Why not? Because in a socialist economy if you are not already at or very near the top of the ladder then you are at the bottom and shit flows downhill.
Benjamin Franklin said it best when he described Democracy as two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for lunch. Freedom, he said, is the sheep has a gun. Take away your gun and guess what the wolves are having for lunch? Mutton Stew, my little lamb chops.
We the people already have access to a free college education. You can also get a guaranteed paycheck, specialized job training, free medical, dental, and vision insurance, death benefits, a retirement plan, free travel, free meals, free clothing, free housing. And the best part of all is that this is also available to immigrants as a direct pathway to U.S. citizenship. And it’s very easy to get too. All you have to do is go see your local United States Marine Corps recruiter and say I want to go Force 1 Recon, sign me up Sargeant. Ooh-rah! Or sign up to serve in a supporting role in the rear echelon if you don’t believe in fighting. You can be a cook, a driver, a clerk or an F-35 mechanic and make beaucoup bucks as a civilian when you muster out.
America was for a fact built on the backs of immigrants from all nations of the world but they came here and found the American dream because they worked for it and they earned it. They did not sit on their asses and demand to be spoon-fed peeled grapes like some would-be Caligula. But the truth of the matter is it has nothing at all to do with the high flown idealism they spew from the side of their necks. It’s all about power and control. Ask yourselves this: Why should the Democrats care about Americans who live in tent cities, on the city sidewalks and in the underground passages beneath cities like Las Vegas which has just that. A large subterranean community of homeless people. Some of whom have been underground for years.
But we also have flash flooding during the Summer monsoon season which means all of their meager possessions will get swept away by sudden torrents of water that sweep away countless lives as well. Lost lives that nobody may ever know a thing about. Why should the liberals care about the children who die every day from exposure to the elements and to hunger on the sidewalks of their cities when they have 100,000 + new voters crossing the border every month now? They are the socialist’s bread and butter because they can mail in their absentee ballots for them and the voters never have to know. It is even less likely they would even care as long as they get to stay in the United States and enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor. Yours, and mine.
It is a simple math equation really. If 500,000 Americans are out of work and living in the gutter and another 500,000 illegal immigrants cross the border successfully then what you have is 1,000,000 unemployed people living in the gutter and voting to keep the wolves who put them there in power so that they can drain the treasury and be spoon-fed peeled grapes while you eat shit and die in the street. Socialist Democrats will walk over your bloated, stinking corpse without giving you a second thought and drive away in a limo.
President Trump said it himself, although I seriously doubt that many people were listening, that he was approached by certain parties and asked to run because he alone could defeat Hillary Clinton. And he did just that. It was set up from the beginning and now we are seeing why this took place. I knew as did a handful of journalists for months that the Steele dossier was a fraud and the fruit of a poisonous tree. The whole thing was a transparent fishing expedition that was orchestrated to take President Trump out of office before their house of smoke and mirrors collapsed. But they missed because President Trump already knew what they were up to. That is why he has insisted on the wall being built and that is why the liberal/socialist Democrats have been screaming so loudly for his head and running around Washington D.C. like a flock of headless chickens ever since they found out he was serious about building it.
Now hear this loud and clear. If you shoot at the king you had better not miss. They missed by a mile and they know it just as sure as they know they are going to get what is coming to them now. President Trump has stated that also when he referred to it as the coming shit storm. So what you need to ask yourself now, are these questions. And at least be honest with yourself if nobody else.
For the sake of argument let us say that you are Joe or Josephine Blowe from Cocomo and you think socialism is the answer to your prayers. Free money, free college, free housing, free everything. You are lead to believe will get a check and never have to work again. How can you say no to that? But therein lies the trouble my foolish young Tribbles because if you think I’m going to go to work and pay the income taxes necessary to support you and 330,000,000 other lazy American slobs then you are in for the nastiest surprise of your life. I, just like everyone else, am going to stay home and collect my check too because I have earned it already. How are you going to get free education when a teacher can make more money staying home and waiting for the mailman to bring them a check? Who is going to sew your new blue jeans? You? Your uneducated significant other who cannot even tie their own shoelaces? I sure hope so because I’m not going to. I already have a Ph.D. level of education and I know I can survive but it’s not looking so good for Generation X, Y or Z if socialists take over the White House.
Who do you imagine in your wildest dreams is going to waste their time driving to a factory to make your free sneakers and your free underwear when they can stay at home and collect welfare just like you? Nobody, that’s who. What farmer do you imagine is going to bust his ass even one more minute to grow free food for you? Me? Nope, wrong again. Nobody is.
If now you are running around in the woods naked and barefoot and starving to death, and you have no food and no guns to hunt for food with because you gave them away, do you think Bambi is going to walk up and throw himself down at your feet? You are young, strong, and invincible but tell me this; can you catch a rabbit in a footrace? Sure as Hell you better hope so homeboy because turtles are a protected species while you on the other hand taste like pork and are not a protected species. I suggest you read, “Lord Of The Flies” and take it to heart because that is the world you are advocating for.
Fortunately for you, we are never going to allow that to happen. If you need health care you can get Medicaid. If it’s an emergency go to the nearest county general hospital and they will take care of you regardless of your ability to pay. That has been in place for a long time. If you need food you can get food stamps and food from food banks already set up all over the U.S. just for that purpose. If you need clothing or shelter there are already places you can turn to. Every single solitary thing that socialists are promising you, they will only give you if they can have power over you and your life. Otherwise, what do they do for you now? Many of them are active legislators but what are they trying to do for you between elections? Not a damned thing. You say you want a free education but don’t wish to join the military? No worries. The public library system has 14,000 libraries situated throughout the United Staes and you can get any book ever written on any subject for free just for the asking and you can easily educate yourself for free
Contrary to popular belief this is not the land of milk and honey it’s the land of blood, sweat, tears, and money. The land where a homegirl from the hood can go from homeless to Harvard by the sweat of her own brow. And not only take pride in herself for accomplishing a daunting feat of perseverance but in turn, lift someone else up out of the gutter and help set them back on their own two feet again. That girl is the real deal and she is one of my real-life heroes. She is living proof that anybody can grow up to be anything they want to be regardless of their personal situation. Socialism is a mental disorder that can be highly contagious and fatal if left unchecked and the socialists are going to be put in check. Bet that.
Very soon you will all see what I am saying coming together because what it boils down to is a battle between good and evil and the good guys have already won. That is why love him or hate him, Donald Trump is the President of this blessed Republic and will remain its President come election day 2020. That is why I endorse him and why this time around I am voting for Donald Trump.
Greetings sports fans and welcome to the first ever self-published edition of Vegas Valley Sports Beat; that feisty little column that simply doesn’t know when to quit which is why we are open to suggestions until 9 A.M PST this morning. Too late.
It’s a cool but beautiful and sunny Saturday morning here in the Las Vegas Valley region. Moving on then I would like to say good Saturday morning to you Las Vegas and to all of my family and friends all over the world and welcome all of my visitors to this my newly refurbished website. I am the curator of B.B. Wolfe Publishing Charles Ramos, Jr. Happy Easter tomorrow morning is Easter Sunday
What is in a name? That which we call a rose would smell as sweet by any other name. Inversely a horses ass is a horses ass by any name, and you can take my word for it, they all pretty much smell the same too. So don’t expect me to be anything but the same me as I am anywhere else. Call it what you will but I gotta be me and that’s that.
B.B. Wolfe Publishing is a start-up publishing house that represents the fruition of a long-standing wish to do just this. To not only manage the publishing of my own work, which is quite voluminous as you will see in the coming days as I continue to transfer my previously published articles, poems, and reviews to this site and make them available to visitors in the site’s archives, but to promote my original unpublished works here as well.
I don’t keep a regular blogging schedule I write when the mood strikes me or not at all unless it’s related to my job with Vegas Valley News so don’t be disappointed if you don’t see a blog here every morning.I am dealing with numerous other issues like trying to recover form losing a kidney to cancerous tumor 19 months ago. It’s been a long slow recovery process and I really don’t feel any better but I try to keep swimming as best I can.
I am frequently asked about my experience as a writer and the short version is I have been writing for just over 21 years as a habit, hobby, or whatever but I started by writing a full-length novel titled, “Of A Silvery Moon-Lukah’s Tale.” That is the prelude to, “Arianna’s Tale which fleshes out the story of a relationship between a father and daughter who are both werewolves. He has been cursed by a bite but she was born that way. Her curse drives her to kill her 3 sexually perverse Uncles and into the Carpathian Mountains where time and circumstances brings her and Lukah face to face. It gets complicated.
I began writing it just because I felt like it and during the time it took to finish it I spent two years under the wing of a mentor who held a Masters degree in English Literature. He had published several books but they were technical manuals for the military. Mr. Sandness would read what I had written and give me advice which I have to confess I mostly ignored but I was listening in the subconscious mind if that makes any sense.
I already had 2 GED’s and on the second one I scored 100% in Grammar 20 years after I graduated ahead of my class in 1981. I never paid attention or did much to speak of all through High School English classes either. I skipped more often than not and threw my books in the trash. But I was listening.
They said all I had to do to graduate was sign my name to the GED test really and I would graduate because I had that many credits on my transcripts. I got 95% overall even though I could not stay awake for most of the test to save my life.
The last thing Mr. Sandness said to me regarding my writing was that, “I have a unique ability to transport my reader to my world the world that I create.” I told him that is my job and I guess I graduated because that was the end of that. I did learn a lot from him and I don’t mind paying the favor forward when I can.
Whenever I didn’t feel the muse to write I studied the entire process of getting my novel published. I sought out and learned all that I could about the publishers and agents to whom I could shop my first novel. Soon I was shopping for my second novel too, and then the third one was done, and then fourth book I finished was on yoga so I had to shop for non-fiction publishers and agents. Then the fifth novel was finished.
Don’t ever imagine that one is the same as the next when it comes to agents and publishers alike. They are anything but alike. Every one of them has their own wants and desires and they rarely compromise. I learned this as well. There are rules for submitting to them and snowflakes could never be so much akin and so unalike. Writing a query latter, writing a synopsis, writing a book proposal is a daunting proposition I learned but I learned how to do it right. And to avoid it at all costs. I studied book distribution and the standards of the industry which are complex. Many published authors can relate to having no option on returned copies.
Seeing your book in print takes on a whole new perspective when your garage is full of boxes of your returns for which you are responsible for finding buyers. I aced College Literature 1 at Ashford University 2 years ago and recently aced an advanced editing course through LinkedIn’s higher learning program. My work can be found here on this site but the sum is a couple million words written and that doesn’t even come close to counting query letters.
Then I had poetry to shop for and soon I had a chapbook together and submitted to a publisher that printed one a year. Mine was not the one they chose that year. I didn’t let that get me down I knew they could say yes or no when I submitted it and beating one’s self up as I have seen other writer’s do is self-defeating and feeds a delusion that has no place in a writer’s soul. The delusion that rejection cannot happen to them. It does so get over it and send it to the next one. You do your best and if that’s not good enough, you do it again only you do it better. Or you quit. Those who persist to write grow and those who do not fail. It’s just that simple whether you like it or not.
I have a file with every rejection slip I have ever gotten but I don’t care any more about them than a pair of dirty underwear. You clean them up and put them on again or throw them away. To hell with all that writer’s angst stuff. It’s nothing but a waste of time and effort better spent writing or studying the craft.
If writing was easy everybody would be a bestselling author and there would be no coffee houses full of angst-ridden aspiring writer’s staring at blank computer screens and cursing the silence of the Muses at the top of their social media lungs.
I have done all of my homework. Including learning editing and typesetting a book. I obtained my certification from Pueblo Community College in Pueblo, Colorado for Microsoft Windows Operating Systems including Word and Publisher. I did well enough that all I had to do was sign my name to the final exam and a grade of 0 would not change my final GPA for the course from 4.0 one iota. I had a spreadsheet that showed me the effect of every possible grade’s effect on the final grade point average with pie charts and colored graphs too.
By then novels 6 and 7 were underway but I put them both away for later. They have been completed since that time and I started number 8, another Western. For the past 15 months I have been a staff writer for Vegas Valley News. I’m living the dream with my own un-syndicated sports column that was originally meant for covering sports, music, travel, and entertainment but Valentines Day changed all that when I had to cover the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
I was in Denver 20 years ago today when Columbine went down and from my lofty perch atop the elevator building at Owens-Corning plant I was putting up we could see the choppers hovering around the school. I have been covering world news ever since. Mostly from the sidelines, but certainly not as a spectator. But that’s a story for another time.
I fell in love with storytelling in the 4th grade when I was assigned to write a short story for a grade. I wrote a story called, “The Rubber Band” which was a fictionalized story about how I was just walking along one day minding my own affairs and fell into a hole. Someone had dug it in an empty field and then covered it up again to hide the $30 million dollars in cash they had hidden there.
Being no fool I of course took every last penny of it to my bank. Yes I did have an account then at Commercial And Farmers which I believe is called Bank Of America now? Anyhoo, being a wise investor of 9 years and already a seasoned entrepreneur for two years I was nobody’s fool when it came to money matters. Or so I thought.
I began my first door to door lawn care business in Kennewick, Washington in the Fall of 1971 when I was in the 2nd grade. I went around the neighborhood, door to door to door with my Grandma Butler’s rake and raking leaves during the fall for fifty cents a yard. The leaves in question being sometimes as big as a dinner plate and the average yard being ankle deep in maple leaves it was never hard to find a yard to rake.
I’d go up to the door and if someone answered I’d say rake your yard for fifty cents Lady? Or sir, as the case were. I got extra for bagging the piles. The first day I did that I went to the market with a grip of change from raking 3 front yards and I couldn’t decide what to get myself as a reward because I could buy anything I wanted.
I left the store with nothing but I certainly did learn the value of a hard earned days wages and the pride of knowing that when I went back in the store again and bought myself a thing of Jiffy Pop Popcorn; took it home to my Grandparents house and popped it on the gas stove just like on TV that I had earned it. I didn’t like popcorn so much as I always wanted to pop one off of the stove just to watch it in person. I’m fairly sure I never got another one on purpose, at least not for myself.
I raked leaves until the leaves were mostly gone but needless to say I cleaned up. By 5th grade I would have parleyed my weekly allowance into a lucrative door to door lawn mowing service in Oxnard, California. My father gave us boys $0.50 which would buy like 3 comic books a week in 1972 maybe 4 if you were lucky or it might buy an ice cream, or two packages of Wacky Packages stickers, or a handful of candy.
Or, I could take Dad’s gas can up to the ARCO gas station next to the Stop & Go market where said treasure lie and get fifty cents worth of gas, take it back home and then push my father’s lawnmower down the street offering to mow lawns door to door for $1.00 a yard. Needless to say I had my choice of the best and the latest in comic books and read everything from Richie Rich to Scrooge McDuck, Archie and Friends was always a favorite, as was anything from Marvel save for Batman whom I never really got into in print. I was a faithful fan of the TV series though.
You can bet your assets on that. The Incredible Hulk in print or on TV especially because, Bill Bixby has been one of my favorite actors since when I watched The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father while it was still on. I never missed an episode if I could help it.
As for Wacky Packages stickers when we moved out of that house on Yucca Street my closets sliding doors were covered with them and they’re probably still there beneath a lot of paint. Needless to say business was good and I cleaned up again. But it cost an extra dollar and you had to provide your own garbage bags as always.
I was also in the 4th grade when discovered that I had a talent for storytelling when I lost a very expensive pair of gold framed prescription glasses while meandering home from school one day. My mother refused to believe a word of the truth which was that I that I had lost them or that had looked high and low between my classroom and home and had even walked all over and over the big field behind Larsen Elementary where I’d last seen them. I even checked on top of my head numerous times having been made a fool of that way before. They were gone. Period.
But try to tell my mother that. She hounded me unmercifully well into the night. She interrogated me like a KGB mechanic and I was in bed at the time. The hell of it was that she was in her own bed across the hall. I finally told her a big fat story about how I had accidentally broken them and freaked out because they were twisted out of commission permanently. I told her I took them up to the empty field across from the Stop & Go market and buried them somewhere in the field but I couldn’t remember where.
She actually insisted that I go and look for them. I did so I wasn’t lying when I reported this to her. I looked but alas I could not find them no matter how many times I looked. Bet I caught more than the lion’s share of grief from her even to this day she gives me shit about it and she’s 74. What can you even say to someone like that? But that is on her record not mine.
And this was the basis of my first short story “The Rubber Band Man.” I got the idea from a song that was popular at that time for the title.
I wrote about how I had stepped on the flimsy cover to a pit someone had dug in the field and I landed on a huge pile of money that was hidden underneath. Not being stupid in the meaning of money I bundled it all up in a quilt that had been part of the cover over it and I went to see my friendly bank manager. I put the bundle in a shopping cart swiped from Hughes Market just up the street and beat feet. I had plans already.
So then being stinking rich from the booty I fell on that day and having the Princely sum of $30,000,014.35 counting the $14.35 I already had in my Commercial And Farmers savings passbook; I did what any smart kid would do. I left home without going back to say adieu.
Instead I went down to the marina where I also happened to have misspent a goodly potion of the actual youth I wasted, and I bought a respectable sized boat of my own. Now I would no longer have to fish off the docks at the marina, while everyone else went out on the big charter fishing rigs.
I paid the man from petty cash and then I took my newly acquired 40′ foot motor yacht, which I had christened the SEA YA, on her maiden cruise out to the Channel Islands. I wanted to see where the girl lived from the book, “The Island of The Blue Dolphin,” which my teacher, Mrs. Munyan, had read to the class just prior to to my sudden windfall.
When I got to the island I docked SEA YA at the marina and proceed to tour on foot and I discovered a lively marketplace selling trinkets to the tourists. I looked but didn’t see anything I cared for until I happened to find a peddler who was just setting up his little stand which consisted of a TV dinner tray the tin kind like Archie Bunker might have used. On top of that he placed an old briefcase that had seen better days that Samsonite had ever foreseen by the looks of it, and he placed a card on the briefcase that said simply,
FOR SALE-1 Rubber Band, $250,000. Serious inquiries only.
I thought it was the most ludicrous thing I had ever seen. One rubber band for a quarter of a million dollars?! He must be insane was my impression but the old gentleman had a way about him that didn’t strike me as being that of someone who was given to foolishness. Then again you never can tell can you?
So I went up to the man who was dressed in an old tan gray suit and a natty black bowler hat with a gleaming black ribbon around the brim and I know now that it was rude of me to just come right out and say so like I did but I was like, “Come on? Seriously? $250,000 for a rubber band? Is this some kind of twisted joke?”
I have to admit that my inner Encyclopedia Brown got the best of me and of course Sherlock Holmes was no stranger to me by this point in my life.
I simply had to know the meaning of this sign and what this man thought was so special about this single rubber band that anyone in their right mind would even look twice at it. Save to make sure it really did say that, and then they might have an even bigger laugh perhaps.
I don’t know what it was that kept me from laughing in the old gentleman’s face I suppose it was the same thing that kept me from laughing in Waylon Jennings’ face when he told me he Willie Nelson was his best friend.
My father taught me to respect my elders, the Bible taught me to never cease showing kindness to strangers for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. I had read almost every book of the Bible by then too, thanks to my father, who insisted we do an hour of study and homework as soon as we got home from school. It was either that, or we could read the Bible for an hour. I of course decided from the moment the edict was spoken that I would never spend one second doing homework so I read the family Bible. I’ve always been a rebel I guess.
Even though I was thinking he might be a few screws short of a full deck (metal roofers joke) (ha ha) I hit him up and to my complete amazement he told me that it was not just one single rubber band but a whole bunch of them.
You can believe I laughed my butt off then. I wanted to know what the difference was and that was when I thought he had lost his mind for sure because he leaned over close to my ear as if he didn’t want anyone else to overhear and told me that they were not just any ordinary rubber bands. They were magical and they played music. They were an actual band. You know, like you see at a band concert when they have a band.
I was like, “I think I hear my yacht calling me I batter go see what it wants,” but he stopped me in my tracks when he snapped open the briefcase and I saw the Rubber Band for the first time. The Leader of The band was by far the only recognizable one of the bunch as he was one of those gigantic red rubber bands which one seldom saw in my 9 years of life experience anyway.
The rest of the rubber bands in the briefcase were of the more common variety one might find at Kinko’s or Office Max these days. They were much smaller but they were multi-colored and there were a bunch of them in the bottom of the old man’s case.
The Bandleader, however was lying on top of a small podium at the top of the case and there was a tiny bandstand at the back. Both were lined with red velvet that was as worn and faded as the gentleman’s suit and looked like time had worn it thin in some places while in other places it was still shiny and crimson as if it were new.
I snorted and walked away but then I head the old man say, “Wait just a minute now before you leave son, you haven’t even heard them play yet.”
That stopped me dead in my tracks. I turned around to see if he was grinning but he seemed too earnest and the only hint of a smile was more of a guileless one than a sneer so I’ll admit I was intrigued but only to about one more point and then I was going to blow him off for the pop-sickle stand down by the marina. The one that sold chestnuts.
“You’re right, sir” I said, “I have not heard them do anything worth $250,000 dollars that’s for sure.”
“That’s because they don’t play unless you give the Bandleader his baton to lead them with.”
I was about to say something about his sanity when he pulled a tiny gold baton like ones you oftentimes see drum majors twirling at the while leading a marching band.
The sun gleamed off of the burnished gold that had a patina of age far greater than even the old gentleman himself did. The tiny jewels that studded the bulbous head of the baton were minute to my eye but the sunlight gleaming through the ruby’s diamonds, and emeralds were proof they were real gemstones whose facets had been cut by the hands of a miniature master stone cutter or someone with really good vision, very tiny hands, and a lot of time on them.
“Watch this, kid,” the old man said with a bit of a showman’s flair reminiscent of a carnival barker even to my own young mind. He gave me a wink and a sly grin then he held the baton out to the big ribber band that was lying as limp as an overcooked noodle on the podium. He touched the tip of the baton to it and I jumped back in shock as the rubber band leader came to life before my very eyes and took the baton from the old man’s hand.
As I watched, completely transfixed by what I could not possibly be witnessing, the bandleader twirled the gold baton in a rubber hand that grew form his rubber form which was now a little more fluid than one normally sees in a common rubber band. But of course this was anything but a common rubber band; by any stretch of the imagination.
The old man then bowed formally to the bandleader who snapped to attention smartly, bowed low in return and then rapped the gold baton on the top of the tiny podium. Instantly all of the rubber bands snapped up and began playing Dixieland rag in full orchestral force. Every rubber band had it’s own instrument because they were the instrument too.
While I tried to get my jaw off the top of my sneakers the bandleader gave a signal and 5 rubber bands broke away from the rest of the band and took to the stage at the back of the briefcase. The orchestra in the meantime segued into, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and the musicians I have to admit were nearly flawless in their performance of that favored classic which I loved even then thanks to having joined the school orchestra that same year.
When they started playing A Fifth Of Beethoven however I was snared like a tuna in a gill net. I knew I had to have this amazing band and considering their talent I didn’t think a quarter mill was too much to ask for. I wasn’t about to tell the old man that though it might induce him to raise the price if I seemed to eager to buy the band.
All things considered, I think I negotiated the sales well. “I’ll take it!” I though I had to shout to make myself heard above the twangy din of the band who was still going strong and blasting out rubber born boogie-woogie beats like only a blasted boogie-woogie blaring rubber band can.
“I take it you have $250.000 dollars?” the old man said and the band fell silent at a gesture from his hand to the bandleader. “You know that is a lot more than three dollars.”
“”Yeah, I know how much money that is I want them and I have the money too.” I assured him.
“Well yes and no, I have the money here with me but I’m not carrying it around with me in my pockets.” I told him, and I turned my pockets inside out to prove my poiint.
“I see. Well… I don’t know son, I have places to go and people to see. I can’t just stand around here all day waiting for you to come back with this money you claim to have when for all I know you might be pulling my leg. You might just run off and change your mind. If you’re not fibbing me altogether that is.” he said as he stroked the wisp of beard that flowed down from his chin.
“Would you take a check? I asked hopefully.
“Do you have a check? he asked leaning back he looked at me like he could never believe that a 4th grader could have a checking account. “I find it hard to believe you have a checkbook with that kind of money in it. he said, confirming my suspicions.
“Well no not really but I have my passbook from my savings account.” I offered. “Does the band play any kind of music you want?” I asked, hoping to maybe change the subject because I was enchanted by the rubber band and scared they might be sold to another buyer before I could come to agreeable terms with the gentleman.
“Yes they do. And don’t go changing the subject neither kid this is business an…”
“I don’t believe you.” I affirmed rather firmly.
He gave an old stink eye look with a cocked brow accent I’d seen from Principal Anzana a few times already at school. (I did say I gotta be me right? Okay, as long as we’re on the same page here, cool).
“and business is… What? Yes it is business, and as I was saying, before I was interrupted, business is….”
“I don’t believe they can play every kind of music there is. That isn’t possible.” I most assuredly assured him. You know how it is when you’re 9. Especially you 9 year-old reader’s. Grown-up’s need to be assured all the time. They’re funny that way.
“Yes it is possible, I assure you. Everything is possible. Even a rubber band. But that’s irrelevant. This is about money and money is about bus…”
“I still don’t believe it, and yes it is relative.”
“Relevant.” he corrected me, but in a gracious way that wasn’t the least bit condescending.
“Same difference,” I countered I don’t believe they can play anything more than what I just heard. And since it’s my money that’s involved here which makes it my business whether or not they can play any song or type of music there is. I think I have to see that for myself.”
“What kind of proof would that take to convince you? he asked, glancing over at the Bandleader who was standing at rigid attention in front of the podium, the gold baton held firmly in its rubber hand against its rubber body, then back at me. “A demonstration perhaps?
“Yeah, that would work. I told him.”
The old man looked at the Bandleader again and it pointed the baton at me for a moment then stood at attention again. “We don’t believe you have the money and that is our business in a nut shell.” He said
“Yeah I was kind of hoping you might overlook that.” By then as you might well imagine I was well on my way into the depths of my imagination. I could just see it right in front of my own eyes. My name up in lights in front of Carnegie Hall and below my name the marquis read,
TONIGHT ONLY-RUBBER BAND!- SOLD OUT!
“Nope.” he said. And the bandleader waved his baton slowly back and forth in front of himself in silent accord with the old man. “We also require a demonstration.”
“Yeah, I was king of thinking you might say that.” I admitted sheepishly.
I’ve set a hook or two in my time and I knew that he was about to take the bait. I hoped. But in my old age I understand now that wily old sharks don’t become wily or old by being stupid. The whole time I though I was about to set the hook his was already in my bottom lip and set firmly. I just didn’t know it yet.
“I have the proof but it’s at the marina on my boat.” I said pointing towards the path that lead back down to the docks where I had tied up the SEA YA.”
“Your boat.” He said in a manner that suggested I told him I was the owner of Mars. “You have a boat? Don’t you mean your parent’s boat?”
“I’ll wager it’s probably their money you’re going to spend on the band too, isn’t it?” He said and I saw the bandleader shaking a little with laughter. In a rubbery sort of way. I guess you had to be there.
“Nope. I mean my boat and my money. They’re both down at the marina. One is getting gassed up and the other one is in the map box on the bridge.” Sinker, line, aaand, hooked. Fish on!
“On the bridge.” he said giving me that Principal Anzana look again. Boy if you have a boat here it’s a rowboat that you somehow managed to get all the way out here in without getting your fool self lost at sea or killed by a head on collision with a seal.
“And I still don’t believe you either. About the band’s musical abilities I mean.” I said folding my arms in front of me.
“Yeah well I have to get going soon and I need to sell the band so I can retire in style. I don’t have a penny to my name so I need the cash influx to carry me through my golden years. My dream is to retire to a nice little cabin in the woods where I can hunt, fish, and grow my own food.”
That should have thrown up a huge red flag but hey I was 9 so give me a break.
“We can go down to the marina if you like and then you can see my yacht and my passbook and the band can play while we have a bite to eat and if all goes well maybe we can seal the deal.” I suggested hopefully.
To my delight he agreed to the idea after a moments consultation with the Bandleader who simply shrugged a rubber shoulder and handed the gold baton back to the old man. When it left his hand again the Bandleader slumped over the podium limp and lifeless as before.
“i have a long standing policy never turn down a fee meal or the opportunity to give a man the chance to prove he is honorable. But only once and then they’re finished in my eyes.” the old man said as he put the baton back in his coat pocket, shut the briefcase, and folded up his TV tray. “I hope I won’t be needing this anymore, but it sure was nice that it happened to be sitting here just when I needed it.” he said as he leaned it against the tree he had set up in the shade of. The day was a bit hot as I recall now.
To make a long walk short the old man could hardly believe his eyes when I took him on board the SEA YA and got out my bankbook.
“Holy smokes!” He exclaimed when he first set eyes on her from a block away. “You sure didn’t get that out of your pool did you?”
“Nope.” I agreed as we marched on down to the docks. The old man kept the briefcase between us the whole way back and I could hardly take my eyes off of it long enough to watch where I was going. Blinded by greed I was.
“Hee-hee! I guess you didn’t even know about the counter checks your bank puts in the back of your passbook did you, boy?”
“no, I didn’t know.” I admitted sheepishly. I could hardly contain myself then because he had said he would take a personal check hadn’t he? “Will you still take my personal check for the Rubber Band, sir?” I asked him suggestively.
In the background the Rubber Band was playing, “In The Mood” and then they switched u and began playing bluegrass music and gospel in the salon behind the galley.
All I heard was CH-A-CHING!$ ringing cha-ching a ling a ling with every song they played as they ran through a rather impressive repertoire of music genres seemingly in random order.
The old man sat back in his deck chair there in the galley which I was using for the first time since buying her that morning. She was all polished Teak wood, spotless glass, and gleaming stainless steel. A cleaning crew which the salesman at the marina yacht trader’s yard had come in to give her the once over and had done the SEA YA proud.
He looked me dead in the eye for what seemed to me an eternity before he took a deep breath and sighed. “If it were anyone else but you young man I would be inclined to say no.”
But.” He stopped me with a raised finger that was as old and bony as a bony old finger can be and said.
“But, I see now that you are a man of your word. So, given the circumstances, yes, I will accept your check, just as long as we can verify the funds by making ship-to-shore call to the bank manager first.”
My heart nearly skipped a few beats when he said the magic word I had been waiting all afternoon to hear. Yes.
Yes! the Rubber Band was mine! Yes yes yes yes yes! My heart jumped for joy in my chest. He said, Yes! I of course wasted no time whatsoever connecting with my bank manager on the radio thanks to a very nice Coast Guard operator who patched it through. They remembered me from the day I was fishing over the side of someone’s boat while I watched it for them and got a shark hook in my side accidentally. They were the best they took me to the station there on shore and gave me a free tetanus shot after explaining the joys of lockjaw to me and how you get it.
The old gentleman smiled and I would almost swear his eyes were deeper then than the end of space but it passed just as quickly when the band began to swing and all I saw was world tour. It was not all greed based I really was looking forward to seeing the world since after all I was headed that way when I found, no when I discovered the Rubber Band. Yeah sure that would fill the playbill quite nicely.
Game set and match I thought as I sat there on the deck of my own big asset of a boat. A fish out of water and floundering. Flip flop. But I’m coming to that.
So to make a long story of a short one I wrote the counter check out like the directions in the passbook illustrated made out
Pay To: Sir. The sum of: $250,000 and 00/100——- Signed. you know who. Yep. The old man smiled as he slipped the check into his inner coat pocket and then he shook my hand, tipped his bowler hat, bid me bon voyage and he was gone just as quietly and quick as that.
In sharp contrast the Bandleader struck up a rousing rendition of Flight Of The Bumblebee just then so my attention span may not have been as far reaching as it might have been.
I cast off shortly after paying the fuel bill and made steam for Hawaii where I had everything all mapped out in my mind . I could put some Pacific Ocean between me and California. How hard could it be to cruise to Hawaii? I had everything I needed for a long cruise already so Hawaii it was.
If you are thinking this has a happy ending it doesn’t really but in retrospect I have to say it was an expensive education in the dark side of money. Meanwhile, back in Honolulu I had rented a lovely berth for the SEA YA and spent a ton of money promoting the Amazing Rubber Band to the masses via expensive ad campaigns then I hired a PR firm, and a high profile press agent to hype the event and subsequent world tour kick off. Oh yeah I had it going on like Donkey Kong and the memory of that opening night is etched forever in my brain. It’ll haunt me that way for a long time too.
The crowd was start lit all the big names from Hollywood were in attendance as were the creme DE Le creme of society from numerous societies or wherever snobs come from and it was a black tie affair but only for the gentlemen. The ladies dresses put many a sequin sewer’s child through college just from that one event alone. It was glitz and glitter galore. I watched form the wings stage left as the house speakers came up and the lights went down in the theater.
I can even hear the absolute silence of the crowd as the curtains rose and the stage lighting came on. I looked over at the stage that had been constructed just for the show. I choreographed the set changes and the playlist that moved the whole show along and oversaw the design process as well. It was so going to be a thing. I was ready, the Rubber Band was ready, and the whole wide world was waiting breathless as the curtain rose.
And all you could hear was a continual silence where there should have been fanfare and trumpets and music aplenty Rubber Band members marching all about and playing their little rubber hearts out for the paying public who were waiting to adore them and make a great big honking deal out of them and me and make a whole bunch more noise. You get the picture. So did the audience and before I knew what had occurred on stage I saw the faces of everybody in the theater break into a grin and then an explosion of laughter so I turned to look at the stage and I almost threw up.
Where a moment before there had been a rubber orchestra ready to boogie, there was nothing but a motionless pile of colored rubber bands lying on a now silly looking stage setup. The only thing standing was a tiny gold Drum Major’s baton stood propped against a red velvet covered d.
You should have seen their final opening night rehearsal you would understand how it was supposed to look in production that night. But that didn’t happen. I told the rigging guy to drop the curtain and that turned the laughter into an angry mob soundtrack that I can still hear too.
As the heavy curtain fell cutting off the surging mob who was already calling for torches and pitchforks to be passed out. I ran out with the old briefcase the band came in scooped them into the case and exited stage right. I made it to the backstage door just as the mob broke the secret of crawling under the heavy bottom hem of the curtains and saw my chance to make a clean getaway by going straight up instead of trying to escape unseen across that parking lot and face the possibility of being tarred and feathered.
That is what the tabloids said was in store if my poor publicist should ever show his face again because I couldn’t very well use my own image to promote the band so I hired Barry The Face to be me until I grew up and was old enough to be me in real life.
I scrambled up a fire escape that went up to the roof located close to the back door like a squirrel with his tail on fire and vaulted over the parapet wall onto the roof just as the mob started pouring out of the same door I had just used.
I was safe in my lofty perch and they were looking for Barry anyway. To his credit Barry has assessed the situation a few seconds faster that yours truly because he was watching the band and he saw them go limp at their first sight of the audience. I only found all this out later on. Right then I wasn’t going anywhere but across that roof and down the other side on another fire escape. I walked past a few gaily dressed hunters but they didn’t give a nine year-old kid carrying a battered old briefcase more than a brief glance. I ran when the coast cleared ahead of me and then I was out on the street that ran in front of the theater where it was easy to lose myself in the crowd. Don’t forget Barry was still running around out there somewhere and that last thing I needed was to run into him in public.
After I paid all the bills and paid everyone back for their tickets and settled all the lawsuits out of court through my attorney’s I wound up selling the SEA YA to break even.
The most ironic thing about it was that came up smelling like a rose because I still had $17.50 remaining in my account at Commercial and Farmers National Bank. I was $3.15 ahead of the game and I did have a grand adventure. On paper anyway.
As for the fate of the infamous Rubber Band they faded into obscurity thanks to a lot of money and a gag clause to go with the check. It helped a lot that nobody really had the courage to admit to their friends they were ever there in the first place, and those friends who knew were there and didn’t care to admit it either lest they be ridiculed for being duped by a scam artist who sold them the idea that rubber bands could make beautiful music.
Talk about your perfect storm. And like every storm does it quickly blew itself out from shame and faded away to nothing. But as to what befell the rubber Band that dreadful night in Honolulu I caught a cab to the marina where I boarded the SEA YA cast off her mooring lines and slipped out to sea.
When I cut the engine again 4 miles offshore and out of the reach of the law in international waters I opened up the old briefcase and set it on the table in the galley and tapped the Bandleader with the golden baton. Instantly he sprang to attention and the Rubber Band began to play the first song for that night’s show.
As I stood there watching they went through the entire 45 minute routine flawlessly right up until someone shouted ahoy the SEA YA from inside the salon and right in the middle of the grand finale they all fell down limp and lifeless again.
My visitor and the first person outside of myself and the old gentleman who sold me the band to hear the Rubber Band play was the the Harbormaster. He was checking to make sure he said, that everything was okay because he had seen lights on inside the yacht and was just making sure all was ship shape. I looked at him and then at the Rubber Band and that’s when I made the connection and a little light flashed on in my brain.
The old man had neglected to mention that they all suffered from a debilitating case of stage fright that left them paralyzed in front of an audience besides their owner and whatever sucker he managed to sell them to. As I cut the engine 4 miles off the coast of the Big Island I flew into a rage because the Rubber band had been playing, “I’m sorry” by Connie Francis the entire time. I chopped them all including the big red Bandleader into tiny little rubber band pieces and put them in a sealed glass jar where they remain to this day.
Today my dear friends and family I dedicate this website to all of the amazing people I have met between 1971 and today for being a part of whet makes B.B. Wolfe Publishing what it is. The result of a story based upon a lie told to cover the truth a long time ago. I have written many more stories since then including a stack of noel manuscripts which you all shall see published in the future.
have read extensively since then and I have written extensively as well. I even studied with my own creative writing coach for two years and while I was writing my first novels I began studying the publishing industry to better understand it and the process of publishing a book. I also studied methods of distribution and desktop Publisher in preparing for this day when I would celebrate the Grand Opening of B.B. Wolfe Publishing.
I still don’t have much of anything to my name but a big lesson to be learned from my own point of view is that you cannot truly appreciate having nothing until you gain the world and then carelessly lose it all again and the world owes you nothing in return. The real kicker was that when I finally went back home again two weeks later my mom asked me why I was late getting home from school I told her it was because I stayed late to search the field behind the school again for my glasses. She didn’t believe that, but it makes no difference. She’d never believe me if I told her the truth anyway.
On a happier note I have been re-cementing all of the chopped up little pieces. But it’s going well and I hope to get the band back together again soon.
You’re an avid reader, right? Me too, time permitting. My Goodreads shelf count stands 513 books, and those are just the ones I remember. I have 165 E-books on my kindle and a ton of paperback and hardback books in almost every room of the house. When it comes to fiction, I read most genres. While I read a lot, I know I don’t read anywhere near as much as many of you. That’s why your opinions are important to me.
I’m hoping to get your input, dig a little deeper into your likes/dislikes. Here’s a quick, 5-question survey. Your feedback would be most helpful. I’ll see that you are emailed a copy of the results.
I realize your time is valuable. Please accept this newly published short story as a small token of my appreciation. For the download link to your FREE short story – CLICK HERE
“How do you tell a child that there’s no water?” Those are the words of a distressed Venezuelan mother during a recent massive, nationwide blackout that cut off power to homes, hospitals, and everything else for many days, even shutting down water systems for entire cities.
With most basic necessities in desperately short supply and their paychecks almost worthless because of hyperinflation, despairing Venezuelans are leaving the country—thousands every day.
Many are streaming across the international bridge to Cúcuta, Colombia. That city’s population of about 725,000 has bulged to more than a million as refugees arrive in search of hope.
Pastors in Cúcuta see an urgent spiritual need among both refugees and residents, and they invited us to come help them by holding an evangelistic Crusade. You can help share real hope with people in Cúcuta as we go there this week to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ at a Festival of Hope. Read MoreDonate Now Share This Letter on Facebook
Franklin Graham President & CEO Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Our Gift to You
Man has a problem, and God has an answer in Christ. Billy Graham explains the answer in How to Be Born Again, including a practical and Biblical how-to guide for Christian growth.
Constantine here, your favorite feline extraordinaire. Spring has hit Texas and – in true Texas fashion – everything is now green due to pollen. It looks like someone dropped powdered paint across the land. On the bright side my pawprints (sic.) on top of DC’s jeep (AKA Steve) cannot be missed. Now let’s get started.
– We are sending DC to Auston this time. She is heading to the Texas Library Association Conference, starting Monday April 15th till the 18th. If you’re in the area stop by and tell her I sent you!
– Well DC has let me down and Charlie, Dare to Dream did not come out last month. She was busy finishing The Cat Lady Special. You know I had to give her a pass because this new book is a wild ride. While not fantasy, The Cat Lady Special, is our new work of fiction. This story features the fabulous Ms. Angela who goes from cat lady to arms dealer.
– This month’s featured author is the talented Kat Zaccard from Madison, WI. I might be a little bias since she lives with 3 cats, oh yeah and her husband, two kids, two hermit crabs and on snake. She as a new book – Moon Shadow – (now available on Amazon-https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JKT6P9M), Book 1 in the MT Henley Trilogy.
“Shadows hide more than secrets at Mt. Henley. Alice is thrust into a world of danger. Will she accept her destiny or change her fate?”
#1 Guess what? DC is turning 40 this month. To Celebrate this huge occasion we are dedicating this song “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees to her. While this came out in 1977, it is still perfect. To all the guys rocking skinny jeans, try pulling tight white bell bottoms. That takes a rea man. Also check out Wyclef’s remix to this song “Staying Alive“.
#2 While searching for the perfect song I came across this beauty “Boasty” by Wiley, with Sean Paul, Stefflon Don and hold your breath for this, Idris Elba. Was I the only one who didn’t know Mr Elba raps? And he is good.
#3 Speaking of Sean Paul, do you remember this song “Give me the light“? For all of his fans the man is back and rocking the dance scene. I still have no clue what he is saying.
#4 & #5 Remake are taking over in the Latin world, so check these two out: Daddy Yanky “Con Calma” featuring Snow, while doing the remake to Snow’s “Informer“. I know you are just as curious as me.
– Let’s give a huge Shout- Out to last month’s winner with these awesome cat photo. Winners were notified and my book has already shipped: Cheryl N, Christy H, Christine R, Carly C, and Morgan
-#1 This Month DC is participating in a couple of awesome giveaways. The First is with OTOH Books. You can win the complete works of the Shadow Hunter, Mortal Instruments Series! As part of the giveaway you will be signing up for the newsletters of other authors. Here is the link- http://otohbooks.com/giveaways/win-a-cassandra-clare-library/
Last week, President Trump declared April Second Chance Month, saying “Americans have always believed in the power of redemption ‑ that those who have fallen can work toward brighter days ahead.”
We here at the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Nolan Center for Justice couldn’t agree more.
We believe that every person has dignity and potential. However, for the 1 in 3 adults that have a criminal record in this country, that potential is severely limited. Access to education, employment, and housing are just a few of the barriers that formerly incarcerated folks face once they are released.
Why is this important? Because 97% of those in prison today will return to our communities. And we want them to be successful when they come home, so they become productive members of society. This makes us all safer.
Second Chance Month is part of a national effort to raise awareness of the challenges formerly incarcerated individuals face, and the steps we can take to ensure those leaving prison have the best opportunity for redemption.
In honor of Second Chance Month, we will be highlighting a few of the many individuals who have taken full advantage of their Second Chance at life. These individuals not only utilized their second chances to become contributing members of society, but also champions of criminal justice reform, shining a light on the incredible impact a second chance can have on an individual’s life.
Stay tuned to learn about our Second Chance champions.
America’s criminal justice system is broken and it will take conservatives to fix it. We are a part of the American Conservative Union, which has been fighting for conservative causes since 1964. We support the President’s efforts to bring common sense conservative reforms to our criminal justice system.
God bless the heart that guides justice and mercy together.- Charles Ramos Jr formerly known as #112819. current Publisher, B.B. Wolfe Publishing & Staff writer at Vegas Valley News .Com. I know I Ain’t Misbehav’n. Lead image was signed for me by Sheriff Joe Arpaio at Dennis Hof’s last birthday party. RIP Dennis.
Paid for by American Conservative Union Foundation’s Nolan Center for Justice
201 N. Union Street, Suite 370 Alexandria, VA 22314
“And I do not like all this thunder and lightning either!” He added.
“Shut up Crandall. Nobody asked you whether you liked the weather or not.” Brill growled menacingly low and his throat. By then Crandall was beyond caring about any of Brill’s threats. In the face of the threat from the impending storm and the lightning it was carrying with it, his threats were lame.
“You asked me, Brill. Just now, when you asked me ‘since when does it rain ice in the middle of summer?’”
“That was not a question you were meant to answer you brain worm-ridden fool! That was one of them prehistorical questions.” Brill hollered back at Crandall who could barely hear his voice above the peal of a thunderclap rolling away down the mountain pass behind them.
“What is a prehistorical question, Brill?” Crandall asked a few seconds later when it was relatively quiet again.
“A prehistorical question, Professor Peabrain is a question that you are not supposed to answer. Brill tried to explain to his partner, who was nonplussed nonetheless.
“Well if you are not supposed to answer the question then why did you even bother to ask it in the first place?”
“I asked it because it has a way of making stupid people ask stupid questions genius that’s why. Brill shouted as another thunderclap washed over them.
“Does it work? Crandle wondered.
“Better than I could have ever imagined,” Brill said, sighing in exasperation. “Better than I could have ever imagined.”
“When are we going get our mules and that black stallion, and get off of this blasted mountain top, Brill? I’m just about to freeze to death up here.” Crandle whined after several minutes of prolonged silence that was broken only by the wind and the peals rolling thunder fading off into the distance.
Meanwhile, the thunderheads gathered closer together as they drew nearer to their lofty mountain perch.
“Don’t you think I am freezing too you fool? We will go find them just as soon as the weather lets up a bit. We cannot do much of anything in this ice storm. If we try to ride out of here in this thunderstorm, we will both be struck down by lightning before we make it back to the timberline.” Brill explained. “I think this storm is going to blow over us pretty quickly from the looks of it.” He added.
“Well, I sure hope so cause it scares me bad, Brill,” Crandle said.
“I just wish this stupid ice storm would blow itself out already,” Brill said. Secretly he agreed with his cowardly partner completely. He did not like the approaching thunder and lightning any more than Crandle did. He was just too proud to ever let him or anyone else know he felt that way. Instead, he cursed the large ice chunks that were bouncing off of his head.
Brill was still in the middle of cursing the ice storm when all at once as though a cosmic switch had been thrown, or a sluice gate had been closed; the ice stopped falling and the wind died down as it shifted around to the Northeast.
“Hey, it stopped!” Crandle cried out as he pulled the cowl of his robe back and looked up the boiling black sky above. “I think the wind even let up a bit,” he added.
“Aye, it surely has,” Brill said. He too had noticed the sudden change in the intensity of the fiercely howling wind. It still had plenty of teeth behind it, but now the wind was no longer blowing at gale force through the pass.
“Do you think It’s over now, Brill?” Crandle asked, hopefully.
“I somehow doubt that, Crandle,” Brill said, just as the first of many snowflakes began to fall on them.
“Hey! Look at this Brill. It’s snowing now!” Crandle exclaimed with all the glee of a young child seeing their first snowfall ever.
“I can see that it’s snowing Crandle. I’m not blind you know.”
“Can we take care of our business with this kid here and now then?” Crandle whined. “We can always wait to ride back down to the road, but I would be willing to bet anything that boy has himself a nice warm fire going right now. He had all of that firewood that you told me he was packing on the backs of our mules.” He said wistfully.
“Hey yeah, that’s right! I plumb forgot about that big load of firewood the boy was packing with him,” Brill said. “Yeah, a nice warm fire would be just the thing right now wouldn’t it,” Crandle agreed.
Already he was imagining himself standing with his back to a nice roaring campfire. He could see himself toasting his big behind in the golden glowing heat of the flames only he could see.
“Yeah. You know I do believe you may be onto something for one time in your miserable life, Crandle.” Brill said as he began warming up to the idea. “After all, there really is no good reason why we should sit here in the cold and dark getting all snowed on when we could just as easily go and get our just desserts right now instead,” he said as a flash of lightning rent the sky and the thunderclap pounded along rolling down the mountain close on its heels.
“That thunderstorm is getting awfully close, Brill,” Crandle said while the thunder rolled away down the mountainside.
“I know it is,” Brill said, “but it’s okay because all we have to do is stay among these big rocks and we will be safe enough. At least I would guess so anyway.”
“Should we pack everything away first, or just leave it all where it is?” Crandle wanted to know. “What is there to pack you, moron? Just leave everything where it is and come on. It’s not going anywhere before we get back, now is it? Brill said.
“No, I guess it’s not,” Crandle admitted as another bolt of lightning split the night in two.
“Well then let’s go get our just reward from that young brat. Brill grumbled as thunder rolled through the pass. “Come on.”
Meanwhile, back at his campsite, Shane had gotten out his extra blankets and used them to cover up Dark Star, and the sisters, ahead of the storm. It seemed to have a calming effect on Genny and Vanna as the thunderstorm began to overtake them. The lethal bolts of electricity striking the mountainside were drawing nearer and nearer with each passing minute.
“In about 5 more minutes the storm is going to be directly over the top of us, Star,” Shane said to the black stallion. He finally took a seat again next to the’ ironwood staff. Dark Star snorted and tossed his coal-black mane by way of agreement before he went back to speaking soothing reassurances to Genny and Vanna in Equestrus.
“Hey Star. Maybe I can use this magic staff to stop the storm or maybe make it go away. What do you think?” Shane wondered aloud as he looked at the tool of power propped against the stone beside him. This ridiculous notion only earned him a dubious glance from the horse. One that spoke volumes about the stallions doubts about the boy’s sanity being all it could be. But Shane who was looking at the staff, not the stallion, did not see him shake his shaggy black head and roll his eyes up to the heavens as though he were asking the equine gods,
“Why me?” which was precisely what Dark Star was thinking.
It would never have made any difference to Shane anyway. He reached over, took the tall staff in his hands and held it out towards the fire. First, he began to hum real low in his throat.
It’s a good thing that horses cannot laugh outright because Dark Star would have had a fit of belly-laughter just then if he could have.
When Shane felt like the proper tone had been set for casting his spell, he opened his eyes as wide as he could and stared beams of imagined energy and thoughts of power at the Orleanstone. Then he began to chant the following incantation in his most impressive conjurer’s voice.
“Storm storm go away! Come again some other day!” he cried when he threw the staff up over his head and with a wild, dramatic flair, commanded, “Now I say!”What Shane was hoping for as far as results go, was for the storm clouds to vanish instantly in a flash and a bang or perhaps a big puff of smoke.
What actually happened was that the storm clouds did not vanish at all. Instead, a long bolt of lightning jumped from a cloud over his head and struck the ground near him three times in rapid succession.
The first strike hit the top of the Western spire of Mount Thunder. The second strike landed 50 feet away from the campsite, out in the open. The third strike came even closer to the campsite yet striking a scrub Fir tree that was growing out of a crevice atop the large boulder where Shane and the horses were taking shelter from the storm.
The power of the lightning bolt carried down over one million volts of raw static electricity that split the trunk of the Pinion Fir setting it ablaze. It burned like a beacon fire in the dark stormy night. The shock wave from the thunderclap hit them directly on the heels of the instantly with a blast of supersonic energy that had a physical dimension that was raw terrifying power.
It scared Genny, and Vanna so badly that they both jumped several feet in the air. Vanna gave a frightened scream that was horrible to hear. Normally that is. The stallion was startled by it as well but he didn’t jump nearly as high as the mules did, nor did he scream. He was born to run to the sound of cannon fire.
Shane, on the other hand, screamed like a little girl but much like Vanna, Shane’s screams were drowned out in the crashing wave of boiling, churning sound waves that trumped all sound. Shane jumped almost as high off the ground as the mules had. Levitated might be a more apt description though since he was sitting cross-legged on the ground when the lightning struck.
He dropped the ironwood staff as though it had shocked him and now it lay in the dirt close beside the fire. Its crystal head was aglow and golden rays of light could be seen dancing and flashing within the Orleanstone and then it went dark.
“Holy smokes!” Shane cried as the thunder rolled away down the mountainside. Dark Star whinnied in agreement. Old warhorse from the wildlands or not, whenever a bolt of lightning strikes within spitting distance of you it is impressive and no two ways about it.
“That was way too close for comfort if you ask me, Star,” Shane told the stallion as they watched the pinion tree burn. It lit up the big rock where it had been growing out of the crevice for many years, until now. “Better you than us,” he said. This sentiment was shared unanimously by the livestock.
“You know what, Star? I think I’ll put off trying to do any more magic until I have had some real training,” Shane said to the black stallion who although he said nothing then, could not have agreed more heartily with his boy’s decision.
Shane had just settled back down again and opened the Apprentice’s Handbook, to Chapter 5 when the voice of a man rang out in the night taking all of them by surprise. Even the keen ears of Dark Star had not heard him approaching their campsite.
“Hello! There at the fire!” the voice called out from the snowy darkness. “I don’t suppose you might have room for two nearly frozen monks beside your bonny fire, young sir?
Shane was startled half out of his wits when he heard the voice of another human being coming out of the storm on such a night as this and in such a remote location. But then again he mused, “Why not? And what possible harm could two monks do anyway. Unless one happened to be possessed by demons or something?”
“Sure we do. Come on over and warm yourselves. There is always plenty of room for men of God on such a night as this,” he hollered back.
“Aye, thank you. We are coming in then,” the disembodied voice called back.
Shane strained his eyes as hard as he could to see through the darkness and the heavy blanket of snow that was falling, cutting visibility down to zero. Beyond the small circle of light coming from the fire, which was not very far at all, he could not see a thing.
Moments later the figures of two men in long brown robes began materializing from out of the gloom. The men were very large for monks and had the cowls of their robes pulled up over their heads. Both of them had large wooden crucifixes hanging around their necks that they had found in the packs left behind by the two friars who had left their few worldly goods behind and ran for their lives.
Both of the men were nearly covered with the wet clinging snowflakes so they looked like a pair of abominable snowmen. A sudden burst of lightning high up on the Western peak of the mountain lit them up just then and, Shane could see that they were afoot. They had no pack animals or backpacks to be seen.
Normally that might have struck Shane as being a bit peculiar, but then again, everybody knew that friars lived a life of poverty and minimalism where material wealth was concerned so he did not give the matter a second thought.
The two snow-covered men hurried over to the fire while Shane added more wood to the blaze for good measure. The monks were so cold that they nearly jumped right into the glowing coals as they got as close to the fire as possible without setting themselves on fire.
“Oh, glory be! Bless your Christian heart, my young friend, uh what did you say your name was?”
“My name is, Shane”
“Yes, of course, Shane. God bless you my son for your fire has saved us both for certain,” Brill said, speaking for the both of them. He had instructed, Crandle to keep his “big mouth shut and pretend that he was mute,” That way he said, there would be much less chance of the black stallion recognizing both of them from the sound of their voices.
To that end, Brill had taken great pains to disguise his own voice by speaking in higher falsetto rather than the gruff snarling growls that typically passed for speaking with him. Shane thought it was a bit odd for such a big man to have such a tiny voice but he figured that the monk must be a eunuch as well.
“This fine man of God here beside me is, Brother John, and I am, Brother Joseph,” the fake monk told, Shane as he held his frozen hands over the fire to warm them.
Shane tried to see the men’s faces hidden they were beneath their cowls but the dancing firelight hid them from him in deep, dark shadows.
I am very pleased to meet you both I’m sure,” Shane said as he stirred the coals in the fire pit with a stick before he then laid it on the flames.
“Dear, Brother John here is a mute and cannot speak, but he says to tell you he is most grateful to you for your hospitality as well, master Shane,” Brill said, pointing to Crandall.
“How does he talk to you if he cannot speak then, Brother Joseph? Shane wondered.
“He uses a form of sign language that he learned while he was on a missionary trip to the African continent,” Brill lied smoothly.
“Where in the world is Africa?” Shane asked, puzzled. “I’ve never even heard of it before.”
“Oh. Well, it lies far, far away in that direction,” Brill said as he pointed South at random since he had no idea where Africa was either.
“Wow!’” Shane exclaimed. “Is it really far away? he asked Crandall who nodded his head, yes. Speaking for him, Brill said, “He says yes it is far away.”
“Tell me, what is Africa like, Brother Joseph?”Shane wanted to know but of course, Brill had no idea of how to even spell the word Africa much less the first thing about the continent itself.
“I honestly do not know my young friend. You see I have never been there myself, and Brother John doesn’t talk about it much,” he explained.
“Oh. That’s a shame then, isn’t it? I would love to hear more about this place called Africa.” Shane said.
“So where are you traveling from if I might be so bold as to ask?” Brill said as he turned his ample backside to the flames to warm it for a minute.
“I come from a small village far to the South of here called, Kilcairn. Perhaps you have heard of it before, Brother Joseph?” Shane asked the phony friar.
“No, I can’t say that I have, master Shane. Have you ever heard of Kilcairn before Brother John?” Brill asked Crandall who did not seem to hear him. “I say, have you ever heard of the Hamlet of Kilcairn before, Brother John?”Brill asked again, this time giving Crandle a swift kick in the shins to get his attention.
Crandle grabbed his sore ankle and shook his head no emphatically. “he says he has never heard of Kilcairn either.” Brill said, translating for his silent partner who was silently cursing him for kicking him in his shin.
“What in the name of God brings a young man such as yourself to the top of Mount Thunder on such a night as this one. And so far from home, I might add?” Brill asked, changing the subject and steering it away with an eye towards getting on with their business of robbing the boy and disposing of his body. First, however, he wanted to be absolutely sure that the boy was not being followed and that he would not be missed right away.
“I am on my way to my new master’s house in Darvonshire to serve as his apprentice,” Shane told the fake friar.
“To Darvonshire you say?” Brill said with mock surprise. “That is a very long ways from here yet, master Shane. Is there nobody else traveling with you, or behind you in case you get lost or attacked by highwaymen? He asked, hopefully.
“No, Brother Joseph I am traveling on my own. It’s just me and Dark Star there, and those two Jenny mules that I somehow managed to inherit along the way,” Shane explained as thunder rolled through the pass ahead of the moaning wind that was picking up speed one more now.
“And when are you expected to arrive in Darvonshire?”
“I’m not really sure when I will get there, Brother Joseph. I barely even know where it is to tell you the truth. But my horse knows the way. All I really know is that I had to leave home on the 29th day of last month without telling anyone where I was going.”
“I see,” Brill said, giving Crandle a surreptitious wink and a sly grin that Shane could not see. “So then, for all, anyone knows you could be anywhere in the world, and your master in Darvonshire is not expecting you for some time yet?”
Shane replied, “Yes sir that is correct, Brother Joseph.”
“I am confused. What exactly did you mean when you said your horse knows the way to Darvonshire? Brill asked him as he turned back to the fire.
The thunder of a nearby lightning strike came rolling up on them just then and Shane had to wait for it to recede in the distance before he could answer the question.
“I mean that Star came from my master there and he knows his way back home again. So I am following him back more or less,” Shane explained.
Just then, Crandle tugged at Brill’s sleeve to get his attention. “What is it, Brother John? Brill asked. He was annoyed by the interruption but he was not about to let on in front of the boy.
Crandle raised his hands up palms facing upward.
“My esteemed brother John wishes to know how your horse could know that you have to go to Darvonshire and not say Billingshire, or Farthingshire?” Brill translated. He too was curious to know the answer to the question.
“He came from my master and I guess he must be an enchanted animal because he seems to understand the King’s English just as well as you and I do,” Shane told him.
“He’s an enchanted horse you say? Well. Imagine that eh, brother John? It seems as though I have heard tales of such creatures from somewhere or other,” Brill said matter-of-factly. As he spoke a bolt of lightning split the sky and struck a rock outcropping on the Eastern slope of the pass. The explosion sent rocks tumbling down the mountains while thunder washed over the three of them like waves breaking on a rocky shoreline.
“Boy, that one was close!” Brill observed as the rumbling died off into the distance again. “But listen here master Shane,” he went on. Getting down now to his true intent at long last. “An enchanted horse would be quite the handy beast to have I would imagine. In fact, I will bet you 50 gold crowns there are plenty of people who would be more than willing to pay at least twice that much for just such an animal. What do you think, Brother John? Is it not so? brill asked of the now grinning, Crandle who nodded his head furiously in reply.
“Brother John says he thinks so too.”
“Oh really? Shane asked, unsure of where the sudden turn was taking the conversation. “That is a whole lot of money, isn’t it? Why all I have to my name is 20 gold crowns and 9 of silver.”
“Did you hear what our young friend just said, Brother John? All he has to his name is a measly 20 crowns of gold and 9 of silver. Why this poor lad is even deeper in the throes of abject poverty than we ourselves are,” Brill said as he nudged, Crandle with a how-about-them-apples elbow. Just then another peal of thunder rolled noisily over them and away down into the valley below.
“Do you mean to tell us that you left your home without telling anyone headed for Darvonshire so many leagues distant yet with nothing but 20 gold and 9 silver crowns in your purse my son?” He asked Shane who was putting some fresh wood on the fire.
“Yes, Brother Joseph. That was all the money I managed to save up over the years. I thought it would be more than enough to last me for a long time at least if it didn’t get me there.”
“Oh no, master Shane. I’m afraid it is not going to last you much longer at all.” Brill said, with a sneer.
“It won’t? Are you sure, Brother Joseph? Shane asked in disbelief.
He was pretty sure he had more than enough money. 20 gold and 9 silver crowns was a great deal of money even in those days when King George II had caused such high inflation and he had raised everyone’s taxes way up to pay for the lifestyles of the rich and infamous members of his court and of the ruling class of the kingdom.
“Oh no, it most assuredly will not, master Shane> But not to worry because where you are going I understand they don’t have any use for money so you won’t be needing it there anyway,” Brill told the boy whose growing confusion was plain to see in his face.
“I won’t?”Shane asked.
“No. You won’t.,” Brill assured him. “And since you won’t be needing it perhaps you would be interested in making a donation of your purse too, Brother John and me in return for our blessings.”
“Um… I.. uh… I don’t know, Brother Joseph. I am sure that I am going to be needing money where I am headed.
“Nope. I can assure you that you most definitely not need it. Nor will you be needing your horse there, or those mules either. So what I propose is that you make a little trade with us for them.” Brill said as he turned around to face the flames again.
In the deep, dark shadows beneath the cowl of his robe, Brill’s face had a sinister look that reflected pure malice in the glow of the flickering golden firelight.
“No, I am going to need Star and the mules too. Well, at least I’ll be needing Star anyway. Otherwise, I will have the other 80 leagues from here to Darvonshire!” Shane protested, his confusion and consternation growing by the second.
A distant flash of lightning from the North side of the pass lit up and the rocks behind Brill like a gigantic flashbulb had gone off above them. The receding thunder drowned out his next words.
“What did you say?” Shane yelled to be heard above the ringing in his own ears.
“I said you are not going to Darvonshire, my friend. So you might as well make a trade with us for your livestock and your saddle. I can promise you that it will be a very fair trade,” Brill said with a laugh that turned Shanes blood to ice water in his veins. A cold chill ran down his spine and up again as Crandle began laughing too. This earned him a withering look from, Brill that shut him right up again.
“I’m very sorry, Brother Joseph but I don’t think I can actually sell Dark Star for any amount of money because he was sent to me by my master, Sheldrake The Elder on my birthday. He would probably be upset with me if I showed up without him,” Shane said, hoping to reason his way out of the fix he was in. “I haven’t even had him for a whole month yet.” He told the counterfeit monk.
“Oh but you see, that is the beauty of it all, my friend. Your master, Sheldrake the Elbow need never find out about our little transaction at all. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee you he won’t. And to top it all off you don’t have to sell your precious black stallion at all,” Brill told the now thoroughly flummoxed young man as he sat there in front of his own fire with an old book in his lap.
“I don’t?” Shane asked, hopefully.
“Then what are you talking about, Brother Joseph?” Shane wanted to know. His confusion was quickly turning into a deep-seated sense of suspicion, dread, and unease. Dark Star was sensitive to his boy’s unease but so far he was as much in the dark as Shane as far as where the strange monk was coming from and what he was getting at.
“Let me see if I can make this any clearer for you then, Shane,” Brill said as he lifted the hem of his robe exposing the scabbard of the long, broadsword hanging at his side. “What we are going to do is trade this for your horses, saddles, and your purse. Everything you own in other words.” He said as he drew the three-foot-long blade and held it out in front of him so that the gleaming polished steel caught the firelight and reflected it along its sharp edges.
“But, but I don’t need a sword, Brother Joseph,” Shane told, Brill as he watched Crandall draw a similar broadsword from beneath his own robe.
“I beg to differ with you my friend but it looks to me like you could really use a good sword right about now. But what I am talking about is trading the way you are going to die this evening,” As Brill spoke these chilling words, a bolt of lightning rendered the sky in half and booming thunder clapped behind it rolling over them and stopping the conversation for the moment.
“M, my w,w, what way of d, dying!?” Shane asked in a very small voice that was coming from a throat that had suddenly gotten very dry and constricted at the sight of the edge of Brill’s sword and his threat to kill him hit home inside of his brain.
“That is correct, master Shane. I said your way of dying,” Brill growled, his voice now back to normal again. “You can either choose to die quickly and painlessly or, you can choose to die slowly and painfully.”
Dark Star was listening and heard every word the fake monk was saying about robbing and killing his boy so when Brill dropped his false falsetto voice he instantly recognized his voice from the stables at the Pig And Whistle Inn. And from hearing him speak on the road a few nights before when he and Crandall had been talking about their plans to rob and kill Shane.
The old warhorse was ready to spring to his boy’s defense in an instant but as long as Brill held his sword practically at Shane’s throat there was nothing he could do except to watch and wait for his chance to intervene.
He told Vanna and Genny, in quiet equestrus, that the two strangers were really their former masters, Brill and Crandall and about their plan to kill, Shane and take them. The sisters suggested that they should all three attack the bad men but Star vetoed the idea by telling them that with their two broadswords they could easily kill, Shane and all three of them as well with only two quick strokes apiece.
He instructed them to stand still as though nothing was amiss and be patient but be ready to spring to Shane’s defense if the opportunity should present itself.
“Can I choose not to die at all instead?” Shane wondered, but Brill and Crandle’s cruel laughter gave him their answer before Brill sneered back at him.
“No, you cannot choose not to die instead. But feel free to beg for your life if it makes you feel any better,” Brill laughed.
“Yeah, yeah. Beg if you want to,” Crandle said with an evil laugh.
“You shut your big fat mouth you fool!” Brill snarled at his accomplice. “and keep your eyes on that stallion. Make sure he doesn’t try to pull any heroic stunts on us.”
“Okay, Brill,” Crandle said as he turned to do as he had been told. He fixed his gaze on the black stallion that was going to make them both rich beyond their wildest dreams. He could just picture in his mind all of the fine things he never had before that he was going to buy with his share of the loot. Like some fancy new clothes. Ones fit for a courtesan at Buckingham Palace. After that, he was going to purchase for himself a nice little plot of land out in the country. One with a nice little cottage on it.
Maybe then he would be able to lure some saucy little wench to stand beside him in Holy matrimony and they would have ten children, maybe even more! He didn’t even hear what Brill was saying any longer nor could he even hear the thunder rolling through the pass. He had become totally lost in his own dreams of avarice while the rest of the world spun around him unnoticed.
Brill was lost in his own fantasy and failed to notice that his partner in crime was off in LaLa Land but someone else noticed the blank faraway look in his eyes and stood watching and waiting silently for his chance to strike.
The thunderheads of the storm were all but past them now and slowly fading off to the North. Every now and again a stray bolt of lightning would come down from the clouds to strike close by and send a thunder boomer at the little party of 6 atop Mount Thunder.
“So how do you wish to die, my friend, fast? Or slow? And be quick about it or I shall be forced to choose for you,” as he said this, Brill thrust the point of his sword up under, Shane’s chin. With it he forced Shane’s head up and back, exposing his throat to the blade.
“Uhm… Can’t I at least think about it a minute or two, sir?” Shane asked as he looked down the edge of Brill’s sword. He could see the edge had been lovingly honed and it was as sharp as a knife’s blade. If that wasn’t convincing enough, Shane could feel its keen edge on his throat just as well.
“Can you think about it? Did you hear that, Crandle? The lad wants to know if he can have a minute or two to think about he wants to die! Isn’t that rich? Har har har!” He asked Crandle who laughed absentmindedly.
“”Uh huh oh yeah haha yeah that’s a corker, Brill,” then he went back to daydreaming about the saucy young baker’s daughter he was going to marry, and their brood of little Crandle’s, and Crandella’s. He could even open a bakery of his own…
“Sure kid, go right ahead and take a minute or two and think about it while I warm myself in front of this fire you won’t be needing three minutes from now,” saying this, Brill pulled the tip of his sword out from under Shane’s chin, but he slid it out making sure Shane could feel the cold steel that he would taste soon enough. “Put some more wood on the fire while you’re thinking about it,” he added as an afterthought.
As Shane reached over and picked a thick length of firewood from his pile, Brill warned him, “Don’t even go getting any crazy ideas about trying to fight a duel with a tree branch either. I have killed 3 men before in duels and I am certain that I can take a boy with a stick any day.”
“No, sir I was not going to try anything, I promise I won’t,” Shane swore as he used the stick to stir the coals with before he tossed it into the fire along with a couple more small pieces.
“So now what’s it going to be my friend?” Brill wanted to know after he had warmed his buns for a bit. “Shall it be quick and almost painless, or will it be slow and excruciatingly painful?”
“I’m not really settled on one way or the other yet. I’m still thinking about it okay?”Shane said in an attempt to stall for time. Maybe he could think of some way out of this mess. The only trouble with that was he was too scared to think at all. As far as he could see there was no way out. Nobody was going to come and save them either. The only thing that was going to save him from dying on Mount Thunder was a miracle and Shane knew it.
“What do you think, Crandle, should I chop his head off, or should I chop him in half from top to bottom. Or perhaps I should chop him in half across the middle?” he asked his daydreaming partner.
“Huh? What?” Crandle sputtered as he came up from his reverie of women and free pastries. It took him a second to get back to the matter at hand. “What it is now Brill? What’s the matter?”
“I said, how do you think I should dispatch our young friend here? Should I chop his melon off?” Brill asked him as he touched the side of his sword lightly to the base of Shane’s throat. “Or do you think I should chop him in two?”
“I uh I guess you should probably just go ahead and chop him in two, Brill,” Crandle replied before his mind drifted back to thoughts of his new life that awaited him once Brill killed the kid. In his daydreams, his wife was already hand feeding him delicious cakes and pies fresh from their own oven while the children played all around their large home.
“You know, Crandle I think you’re right, but which way should I cut him? Should I chop him across the middle, or should I chop him from top to bottom, like so?” As he said this, Brill set the keen edge of his sword on top of Shane’s woolen hood.
“Uh huh, yeah. That’s exactly what I would do myself,” Crandle said absently. In his daydream, he was watching his saucy wife putting extra icing on a double chocolate devil’s food cake. “Yeah, just like that.”
“You heard my silent partner master Shane. He says that I should chop you down the middle from top to bottom. And I think I have to agree with him. “
Brill’s cruel laughter rang cold and hollow in Shane’s ears like the tolling of a graveyard bell. If he didn’t think of something fast he was a dead duck for sure. “But wait a minute now, sir!” he cried, “what about me? I thought you said I got to decide how I was going to die. Fast and relatively painless, or slow and excruciatingly painful, remember? You said it I heard you.” he said pleadingly.
Brill laughed again. “Yes I did but I’m afraid you took too much time trying to make up your mind so I had to go ahead and make it up for you myself.”
“Hey! You can’t do that!” Shane protested.
“Oh yeah? And why can’t I? Brill asked him mockingly. “Because it is not fair, that’s why not,” Shane informed him.
“Oh I see,” Brill said, mocking him again, “Well nobody said it was going to be fair did they? This has nothing to do with being fair, it’s all about us robbing you of everything you have and taking your life too. When we leave we will hide your corpse so the wolves can pick the meat from your bones and then carry the bones away one by one to gnaw on later for a snack,” Brill said as he pulled his sword away from Shane’s head.
“Will it at least be quick mister Brill? Shane asked him stalling again for more time. He hoped the man would respond to him calling him by his name and it worked.
“Oh, well you know I’m not really sure but yes I would think it will probably be very quick indeed.,” Brill assured him.
“Well, what about painless? I don’t know if I can take a lot of pain. Is it going to be painless too do you think?” Shane asked brill and the tears brimming in his eyes were not forced either.
“You know, it’s hard to say to tell you the truth, master Shane because I have never been chopped in half as you can see so I am afraid that is a question I cannot answer for you. But, if I were to venture a guess I would have to say probably not. I think it is more likely going to hurt you a whole lot but it will only be for a very short time I would imagine. But then you will be dead and it won’t matter because you won’t ever feel anything again.” Brill assured his waiting victim to be.
As far as Shane was concerned, however; he was the victim that was determined not to be. The only question was, how in the world was he ever going to pull it off?
“Are you ready to go and meet your maker now Shane my friend? Brill asked him after several long moments of deadly silence and tension.
Just then a distant flash of lightning lit Brill’s face and sent a peal of thunder rolling through the high pass. They had to wait until it had faded away down the valley below.
“No, I am not ready to meet my maker just yet, Mister Brill,” Shane said to his executioner. “In fact, if it’s all the same to you I would like to have a few minutes to prepare myself before I die.”
“A few more minutes??” Brill asked in surprise.
“Yes, sir. So that I can say my prayers, confess my sins and all that sort of stuff,” Shane explained patiently.
“Why certainly, my young friend, I don’t mind at all. In fact, I want you to take all the time you need and get straight with your God now before you go to see Him face to face at the Pearly Gates. How does that grab you?” Brill sneered at him. “But whatever you do be sure you put in a good word for Crandle, and me with the Man on the throne, okay?” He laughed mockingly.
Shane was at a complete loss for what else to do except to say his prayers and ask God to send down a miracle to save him. Or to at least have mercy on his young soul and save a place for him in Heaven.
He closed his eyes and bowed his head and Shane prayed as he had never prayed before in his life. He prayed for deliverance from the evil men that had come out of the stormy night to take his money, his property, and his life. Shane said a prayer for every single person and thing that he could think of. He prayed for his parents, for the Lynn twins, Carrie and Amber, for Old Charney, for Dark Star and the two mules and he prayed for the old sorcerer who had left this world with nothing to remember him by but his ironwood staff that was now…
As he prayed, Shane had his head bowed down low over his crossed legs and his hands were folded in his lap. When he opened his eyes there was the old ironwood staff lying at his feet where he had dropped it after foolishly trying to challenge the power of the thunderstorm.
Brill, of course, could not see what Shane was looking at and there on the dark ground where it was lying the dark wood was not easy to see. The Orleanstone looked like it could be a pretty rock sitting there all alone. But as Brill had pointed out to him earlier, a stick was a poor match for a broadsword in a fight.
Be that as it may, when one is about to fall from a precipice, even the smallest weed could be the difference between life and death.
“All right then, Master Shane,” Brill said after a few minutes. “I think you have had more than enough time now to set things straight with the Lord. Please now kindly hand your purse over so that it doesn’t get all messy when I cut you in two.”
Shane reached inside his woolen pullover and pulled out the homemade silk bag that held all of the money he had.
“”That’s it. Toss it over here now. There’s a good lad,” Brill told him, holding out his grubby hand. “You need not bother to get up,” he sneered again, nastily as Shane drew the purse strings closed and tossed the bag to Brill who caught it deftly with his left hand. “Are you certain it’s all here? I would hate to have to search your dead body if I don’t have to,” he added hefting the weight of the money.
“No, sir that is all I have to my name. I swear it,” Shane said, still hoping the thief would show him mercy and let him live if he was cooperative. Brill quickly let the air out of that theory, however.
“Are you sure about that?” He asked, as he held Shane’s purse to his ear and gave it a little shake. The clink-clanking of gold and silver coins inside sang a siren song of precious metal to Brill’s ears and he seemed satisfied that Shane was telling him the truth.
Yes, I’m sure, Mister Brill. Can’t you please just take whatever you want and leave me in peace? I promise I won’t tell anyone anything about this.”
“I too can promise that you will never say a word to anyone about Crandle, and me, or what’s about to happen to you, my friend,” Brill said cruelly as he dropped, Shane’s purse into his pants pocket.
“You keep a close eye on that stallion, Crandle. If he tries anything sneaky knock some better sense into his head with the flat of your sword blade,” he told, Crandle. He had no idea what Brill was talking about as he replied, “Okay, Brill yeah sure. I’ll do that,” before he was lost in his wealthy dreams once more.
Distant thunder rumbled and roiled up through the snowy mountain pass as Brill took the hilt of his sword in both of his grubby hands, ” And now we’ve come to the place where you will be departing for another world. For your own sake, my unlucky young friend I hope that it’s a far better place than this one did,” A brilliant flash of white light illuminated the clouds above them as Brill slowly raised his sword above his head.
The pealing thunderclap from the stray bolt framed, Brill’s words eerily as he held the deadly blade high and laughed out loud.
“Believe me, Master Shane, this is going to hurt you a lot more than it is me. Say goodnight sweet prince!”
Dark Star and the sisters could do nothing but watch, horror-stricken, as was Shane as the big sharp blade began descending downward through an arc. It cleaved the night air and flashed in the light of the fore as it fell towards, Shane’s unprotected head.
“Oh no!” Star heard Genny and Vanna gasp in unison. The black stallion was a veteran of numerous campaigns and battles. He had fought for his own life alongside knights and warrior kings. He had carried noblemen and had distinguished himself with honor in war and he decided that he now had to save his boy or else die trying along with him.
Star had already noticed that, Crandle was more concerned with staying close to the fire and that he was completely lost in daydreams of the fantastic wealth that he would gain from Shane’s estate.
As Brill’s sword began to fall, the big stallion sprang into action and was already moving. He swung his great, shaggy head into, Crandle’s chest. It caught him completely off-guard and knocked him backward. His left heel struck the circle of stones around the fire and he lost his balance in the confusion. Crandle tried desperately to catch himself but could not and down he went landing on his fat backside with both big cheeks squarely in the bed of red hot embers.
His hands landed on either side of the pit and he didn’t even drop his sword but his stole robe burst into flames instantly from the intense heat of the fire. One large coal burned its way through the heavy fabric and burned the skin beneath. By then his butt was fully engulfed in flames and the fire began climbing up his back hungrily as it fed on the old dry material.
“EEEYAUGHHHH!” he screamed as he dropped his sword and leaped to his feet. By standing up the flames climbed up his back unhindered. Only the cowl saved, Crandle from receiving serious burns to his face and head as the flames raced upwards consuming the robe greedily.
Foolishly, Crandle decided to try and outrun the fire and he ran off into the snowstorm screaming like a banshee. The flames golden light framed his retreat for a moment before he vanished behind a wall of darkness and heavy snowfall and was lost from sight
Dark Star had hoped he could get to, Brill before his sword blade could follow through on its predetermined course but he was clearly too late to intervene by the time, Crandle realized that his biscuits were burning in the campfire.
Genny and Vanna were braying shrilly their voices more like screams behind the stallion as the blade came down.
“Oh oh I can’t bear to watch!” Star heard Vanna say. Her voice sounded like it was coming to him from across a vast gulf of cold and empty space.
The blade was already a third of the way down and it was picking up speed and momentum as it descended. To Star, it seemed as if time had slowed to a crawl where single a heartbeat takes a lifetime to pass. He felt like he was struggling to move through thick mud. Star could see that he was never going to reach Brill in time to stop him.
As he watched, transfixed by the horror he was witnessing, Star saw, Shane, bend down quickly as though the slow-motion time warp he was caught up in had no power over him. He saw Shane grab something off of the ground in front of himself. He could see that It was the staff of Choralys but even a stupid old warhorse knows that a wooden staff even one made of Ironwood, was incapable of withstanding a heavy blow from such a heavy broadsword as the one that Brill wielded.
Beside Star, Crandle was just beginning to understand that his butt was aflame. As the scream burbled up from his throat, Genny and Vanna were braying loudly behind him and thunder rolled over them all as Shane grasped the old wooden staff in both of his hands and threw it up over his head, into the path of the down-rushing steel blade.
Brill had it in his mind that he was going to attempt to cleave, Shane in two so he put his back into the task. He brought the sword down with everything he had so there was a lot of force behind his blade as it fell. An irresistible, unstoppable force of nature.
The blade met, just below the midpoint of the arc, with the staff of Choralys. Brill laughed evilly as he watched Shane raise it in self-defense because he knew no old man’s walking stick was going to stop the force of the steel blade. It would cut through the wood like a loaf of stale bread and still cleave the boy in two.
Shane could see the keen edge of the sword coming straight down towards his upturned face and he too thought the blow would slice right through the old staff, or shatter it like an icicle and do the same thing oi him. He wanted to close his eyes or look away but he found that he couldn’t do it. He was completely transfixed by the gleaming steel blade like a Sparrow caught in the stare of a Cobra.
As the flashing steel blade met the old wizard’s staff, Shane actually did squeeze his eyes shut tightly. As the force of the blow began to radiate through the ironwood outward and down from the point of contact and through the staff, Shane hollered out in indignant rage at the injustice of his ignominious and undeserved end at the age of 16.
“NO!” he screamed as he turned his head away from the blow that was sure to come.
Across the fire, Dark Star saw the sword make contact with the staff and he tried to make himself look away but he too was transfixed by the Cobra’s eye.
Shane’s voice, like those of Vanna and Genny, were coming to him from across a million light years of empty space. Like a voice heard underwater he heard his boy holler, “NO!” as time slowed again for all of them. The black stallion knew that this was the beginning of the end his boy’s life.
But at that same moment as the sword made contact with the staff of the powerful old wizard that had owned and carried it for countless decades. So many that even Choraly’s had forgotten how many, something amazing and completely unexpected happened.
The Orleanstone mounted on the head of the old staff flashed a brilliant white light like the explosion of a star. Simultaneously a jagged bolt of lightning came snaking down from the dark storm clouds overhead.
It struck the glowing white fire inside of the stone Orleanstone and seemed to infuse the ironwood with a light that was even painful for Dark Star to look at indirectly. It was like staring into the eyes of the sun itself. It stopped Dark Star in his tracks and caused him to take a step back. He just managed to avoid the flaming figure of, Crandle as he took off, running for his life into the dark and stormy night.
As Star and the sisters watched, the brilliant white fire engulfed the staff and the length of Brill’s sword to the hilt. Static electricity rent the air displacing air molecules. As the powerful megavolt bolt went into Brill’s hands, the empty space it had just occupied slammed shut at the speed of light. producing a thunderous clap that erupted at the speed of sound.
Miraculously the ironwood held firm but the steel blade exploded into a thousand fragments as though it had been constructed of cheap glass. The force unleashed as thunder hit Brill like a ton of bricks. Shane and the horses were spared the brunt of the fearsome blast which was directed, as if by magic, at the man who wielded the weapon that had awakened the staff. They scarcely heard the roar of the thunder’s booming peal. Like a volley of cannons going off at once under his nose, the power of lightning and thunder were discharged in, Brill’s face simultaneously. And he heard it loud and clear.
His big broadsword now lay in shattered ruins, like the pieces of Crandle’s broken dreams of lemon tarts and marital bliss, on the ground at Brill’s feet. Even the huge bronze hilt had been shattered by the force that had emanated from the staff.
Shane opened his eyes just in time to see Brill, now swordless and looking dazed and confused, clasp his hands to his ears. He was grimacing in pain as the blast hit him point blank.
“What the…?” Shane wondered aloud. He turned his head to check on the horses just in time to see Crandle’s fiery form running for the proverbial hills. All three of the horses, he noticed, were staring at him and at Brill. Their eyes were fixed, and their jaws open in shock and terror. Much like Brill’s.
Shane wasted no time turning his attention back to the one bad guy who remained in his camp. He did not see the bolt of lightning that struck the Orleanstone, nor had he felt anything other than a slight tingling sensation as the magical white fire had coursed through the staff and passed through his hands.
Then again it didn’t take a catapult scientist to figure out that the tiny pieces of shattered bronze and steel laying all around him were the remains of Brill’s sword. Nor did he need a psychic friend to send him an owl to tell him how it probably ended up that way. Obviously, the old staff had a spark or two of the old power in it yet, he mused for a moment on this but he could always ask Star what happened later on.
The first thing he had to attend to was the murderous thief that was still in their midst. Power or no power a good six-foot wooden staff is a very deadly weapon in the hands of a skilled shepherd who has used one similar to it to fend off marauding wolves who got too brave.
Shane switched the staff over to his right hand and then swung it in hard and hit, Brill in the left kneecap with the Orleanstone. It connected with a solid crunch and an audible crack and Brill screamed in agony as the damaged nerves in his knee told his brain what it felt like.
“AHHHH!” he cried as his knee gave way under his prodigious weight. Brill was able to keep himself from going down but to do so he had to hop around on his right leg. He didn’t have long to hop, however. Shane spun the heavy staff around in his hands like a baton and struck Brill’s right ankle with the gold heel of the staff. He made a quick sweeping move and took the thief off of his feet, and flipping him onto his back.
Brill landed hard on the frozen Earth with a heavy thud that sent snowflakes flying up all around his body. Shane could even feel the impact vibrate through the ground he sat on.
He leaped quickly to his feet and moved to finish subduing his would-be assassin even if it meant beating the fire out of him with the staff to do it.
Dark Star had not stopped moving the entire time save but for a moment when the staff had come to life and drawn down power from the sky. He got to Brill first so when he looked up he found himself face to face with an enraged war horse whose visage, if such a thing was actually possible, was a steely mask of violent hatred and barely restrained rage.
“Heh heh. Nice horsey?” Brill said in a very small voice.
Dark Star bared his huge white teeth in Brill’s face and shook his head slowly back and forth. No.
The black stallion was straddling him so, Brill was unable to get up unless he could somehow get out from under Star first. That was highly unlikely. Not if Star could help it.
Not only that but Brill’s left knee and right ankle were not in any kind of shape to be walking or crawling around on just then either.
“Good job, Star!” Shane told him as he ran over to cover Brill with the staff.
“If he so much as moves to do more than take a deep breath, I want you to stomp the fire out of him until he stops moving,” he instructed the warhorse as he patted his glossy black mane and neck. Star snorted in agreement but didn’t take his eyes off of Brill. Not even for a heartbeat.
“Aww. Come on now, Master Shane,” Brill croaked weakly from the ground. “You don’t really mean that now do ya?”
At this, Dark Star put his nose right in Brill’s face and looked him dead in the eyes as he nodded his enormous head, yes.
“I was afraid you might say that,” Brill said, laughing nervously. His eyes were wide open and full of fear now.
Dark Star snorted loudly in Brill’s face giving him a snoot full of horse breath that was full of moisture from condensation,. Brill spit and sputtered but he dared not move and test the wrath of the big stallion. Star could easily kill him now if he chose to.
“It appears that the tides of fortune have left you high and dry, Brill,” Shane told his captive as he squatted down by his head, staff in hand.
Aye, so they have.” Brill agreed glumly. I guess you can’t win them all,” he added, with a sigh.
“I guess not,” Shane agreed. “Tell me something, Brill. What happened to your sword? He asked, indicating the shards of steel laying all over the place.
“Lightning struck your staff just as my sword did covering it in a white light that shattered it into a hundred little pieces.”
“Hm. It looks to me like Crandle left you behind in a hurry. Like a chicken with its tail feathers on fire, you might even say. So it looks like it’s just you now and Star here does not like you at all.” Dark Star shook his head to show him that, Shane was right.
“I got the same impression.” Brill had to admit as he stared up at the angry visage of the warhorse. “What are you going to do with me?”
“I am not really sure yet. I want to let you go but I’m worried that if I di I will have to worry about running across you and Brother Crandle again on top of the next mountain, or in a dark alley somewhere,” Shane informed Brill.
“Oh no no no, I give you my word as a gentleman that if you let me go you will never see me or Crandle again. Honest!”
“Oh, I think I can actually be the one to promise you that you will never show your faces to me again.,” Shane said with a smile.
“You wouldn’t kill me would you?” Brill sed worriedly.
“Let’s just say I am in the process of weighing my options at this time and one of them is to let, Star have his way with you.”
“You don’t really want to do that. Do you?” Brill said his voice trembling.
What do you think, Star? Should I let you have your way with him?” Shane asked the stallion who nodded his head yes, emphatically.
“Come on now you guys,” Brill whined, Can’t you see that this was just a huge misunderstanding? Can’t we let bygones be bygones? Can’t we all just get along?”
Dark Star answered him by shaking his head, no before he used his teeth to begin tearing away the front of Brill’s robe.
“I’ll take that to mean, no. ” Brill sighed. “But what about, Crandle? He was here too. What about him? Shouldn’t he be punished too?”
“The last I saw of Crandle he was running for the river like his butt was on fire,” Shane said, laughing at the memory.
Why would he just up and leave me hanging like that?” Brill wondered.
“I would imagine it was because his butt was on fire at the time.,” Shane explained how Crandle’s robe had been engulfed in flames when last he had seen him.
“That figures,” Brill growled. “I should have set him on fire years ago. He was as dumb as a log anyway,”
“That may be but you are the one who got caught,” Shane pointed out.
“The story of my life, Master Shane. With Crandle, it’s always something.” Brill lamented.
“What I want to know is how you two came to be up here looking for us,” Shane stated. “If you lie to me even one time I will let Star kick you around the campfire a few times to see if that doesn’t make you an honest thief.” He said, patting Star on the neck.
“Anything you say, I swear. ” Brill said earnestly as he began to tell the entire tale of how he and Crandle had first seen him at the Pig And Whistle and how they had hatched the plot to follow him out of town so they could rob and kill him for the stallion and his other property. He told Shane all about Star taking their mules to form them. The same two mules who now stood there nearby staring at him with undisguised hatred burning in their eyes.
“Those mules belong to you?” Shane asked incredulously.
“Yes, they do,” Brill said before relating the remaining events that had lead them to ambush him at the top of Mount Thunder and the jam he now found himself in.
“So Star knew what you were up to all along? Shane observed.
“Yes, he did,” Brill admitted. ” He heard us in the stables when Crandle and I were talking about stealing him and killing you. We had no idea he was an enchanted horse,” he explained.
“Obviously, not huh?” Shane deadpanned.
“Obviously not,” Brill repeated. He snuck up on us in the middle of planning an ambush in Gallows Gap so he took you this way to avoid us. We were able to get ahead of you only after we inherited more mules and supplies from some traveling monks the next day. And now here we are,” Brill said, wrapping up his story. He laid there not daring to move a muscle while Shane considered all that he had learned.
“Yes,” Shane said at long last. “Here we all are indeed, mister Brill. “The problem, as I see it, is what are we going to do about you being here in light of the fact that you tried to kill me. I’m of two minds on this. What do you think, Star?”
Dark Star bared his huge teeth and blew his nostrils out in Brill’s face then he stomped the ground beside his head with a hoof the size of a dinner plate.
“I see, My friend here also uses sign language Brill. He said I should let him teach you the error of your ways in his own little way.” Shane informed the thief whose complexion was ghostly white under the withering gaze of the black stallion’s cold black eyes.
“I’m sorry your Lordship, truly I am.” Brill sobbed his voice cracking now under the strain. His bluster and false bravado all gone now as he began to realize it might turn out to be his own bones the wolves would gnaw on and carry away to bury in forgotten graves all over Mount Thunder. “We had no idea that you were a sorcerer your worship, I swear it.”
“Hmm. I don’t know about that Brill,” Shane said, he was enjoying having Brill on the spot and savored the moment. “What do you think, Star?”
The stallion’s reply was a violent shake of his head and toss of his mane.
“My friend here says your excuses are lame, Brill. What difference does it make if you knew I was a wizard or not? You tried to cut me in half,” Shane and Star wanted to know.
“We never would have dreamed of trying to rob and kill you if we had known, that’s what,” Brill told the boy, in the hopes that the boy would see that it was after all a simple misunderstanding.
He did no such thing of course. “I’m sorry but that changes nothing. Nor does it excuse the fact that you tried to kill me. According to the Wizard’s Code of Conduct, which I just happen to have a copy of here with me.” Shane said as he went over and retrieved the Apprentices Handguide from its place by the fire. “Can you read, Brill?” he asked, as he went to get it.
“No, I cannot read your, lordship,” Brill admitted when Shane returned and squatted down beside him. He had the book in his hand.
“Then, allow me to read it for you,” Shane told him as he began flipping through the pages. The book was resting on his knees as he said, “Ah yes here we are. What to do if someone tries to kill or rob a wizard.”
“What does it say?” Brill wanted desperately to know after watching, Shane pretending to read the instructions for disposing of bad men like himself for several long minutes.
“Hm. Well, you may or may not like this at all, Brill,” Shane began slowly. “But it says that I am required to take your life for your crimes.”
“Oh no! No please, your Lordship I beg of you please don’t,” I didn’t really mean to try to kill you I swear. It was all that idiot, Crandle’s fault, Shouldn’t he be the one you want to kill instead of me?”
“Mm, nope. Sorry but it says right here in black and white that I am to put your neck to the sword because it was you and you alone that tried to kill me, not Crandle.”
The news was a bit too much reality for, Brill to handle. He broke down and began to bawl loudly. Star rolled his eye to the sky and shook his shaggy head in disgust. the grim reaper has an uncanny that tends to separate the men from the boys and the warriors from the whiner’s.
“No please! Please don’t kill me!” Brill pleaded, blubbering between wracking sobs. “Have mercy on me please, I beg of you. Please don’t kill me-he-he.” Brill bawled.
“I don’t want to kill you, Brill, I have to. and I don’t see as I have a choice in the matter because I am bound by the Sorcerers Code of law. And it says I must kill you or else I could lose my job,” Shane said with mock sadness. “So as you can see my hands are tied here.”
“Oh no! Oh, no, please!” Brill blubbered pitifully. “I said I was sorry!” he offered but Shane was not buying his act.
“Nope, sorry but I’m not buying it,” he said flatly. “Sorry isn’t nearly good enough.”
“Can’t you just let me go with a stern warning or something?”
“You know, I’m not sure if I can or not. To be honest with you I’ve never had anyone try to kill me before so I haven’t had to deal with the issue until now,”
“Can you at least look through your book and see if it says anything about mercy or other alternatives to execution?” Brill asked through tears.
“Well… yeah, I could. I’m not so sure I want to though. I mean you did try to kill me. That’s a little hard to overlook you know. But just out of curiosity I’ll look anyway,” Shane said drawing out his agony.
Brill’s gratitude was boundless then, “Bless your heart!” he said as Shane leafed through the pages of the Apprentice’s Handbook. He opened it to the chapter that dealt with washing clothes for a wizard and pretended to read a few pages. He rad them very slowly so, Brill could snivel some more. “Hm. That’s a very interesting point,” he said, closing the book.
“Really?” Brill exclaimed, happily, “tell me what it says, master Shane. Please?”
“It says I have two choices. I can either pardon you if I choose but only as long as I punish you by putting a spell on you to make sure you can never come after me again,”
“A spell? What sort of a spell?” Brill wondered. Hopeful it meant a happy ending for him.
“A spell that turns you into a monkey,” Shane said straight-faced.
“A monkey!?” Brill cried in his best’ oh woe is me’ voice.
“That’s right, Mister Brill. The book says I either have to turn you into a monkey or kill you,” Shane informed Brill who began blubbering loudly. He sounded pitiful but it fell on deaf ears. Brill’s crocodile tears fell on stone. Shane knew they were as phony as a murderer pretending to be a monk.
“But I don’t want to be turned into a monkey!” He blubbered and sobbed.
“I’m sorry, Brill,” Shane said, shaking his head slowly, “But you should have thought about that before you came so far out of your way to rob and kill me,” He pointed out.
“Ah, hahaha, ha!” Brill cried. “Please your Lordship, not a monkey! Anything but a monkey!”
“Would you rather I put you to death instead?” Shane asked.
“No, of course not! I don’t want to be turned into a monkey either!” Brill explained through racking sobs. “What will I eat, how am I to live?”
“You will live in a tree and eat bananas I expect,” Shane told him as he rolled his sleeves up. “And now if you don’t wish to die I might as well get on with casting the spell,”
“Please don’t your Lordship!” Brill wailed.
Nope. I am truly sorry Brill but it’s your own fault. Now then, if you don’t be quiet while I cast the spell it won’t be my fault if you are turned into a dung beetle or something even worse,” Shane warned as he stood and pulled back the hood of his pullover.
Brill did not want to be a monkey. Who does? But the last thing he wanted to be was a dung beetle. He couldn’t imagine what might be worse and didn’t care to either. Still, the images of worse things came to mind unbidden so Brill kept his big mouth clamped shut when Shane began to cast his spell.
He, of course, had no more idea how to change Brill into a monkey than Brill did be he wasn’t going to tell him that. It was never the point of the exercise, to begin with. He preferred scaring the life out of the thief to killing him as Star would have it.
Taking the staff in both hands, Shane held it out then upward in a most dramatic fashion and pointed the Orleanstone at the flashing clouds overhead. Low at first he began to rattle off a litany of nonsensical verses he had made up long ago in school before throwing in a smidgen of Latin from Sunday services.
“Vindi vidi vici!” He cried out in a loud commanding voice that boomed in the close shelter of the boulders, his face a mask of dancing shadows cast by the fire. “En dominus entres practicum permant sanctum!”
Swinging the stone head of the staff straight at Brill’s head and holding it there, he gave Star a wink and cast this spell.
“Drizzle frazzle frizzle crone, banana tree and monkey bones. Izzum, frizzum, frazzum, frue! Monkey see and monkey do! Dribble, drabble droozle, drail,! Give this thief a monkey’s tail! Spirits of power spirits of might turn him into a monkey tonight! he ended with a dramatic flourish as he waved the Orleanstone around Brill’s head three times.
That said he stepped back, set the heel of the staff in the ground and held it at his side and said no more.
“What? Is that it then? Brill asked him after several moments had passed and nothing had happened to him yet.
“Yep. That’s it. The spell is cast,”
“I don’t feel any different,” Brill said.
“Well, of course, you don’t, not yet,”
“What do you mean not yet?” Brill asked suspiciously.
“The spell doesn’t take effect right away” Shane replied.
“Of course not. Don’t be silly. It would be mean to turn you loose as a monkey right away so it happens gradually to give you time to get used to the idea of living in a tree with the rest of the monkeys,”
“Oh no! Why me Lord?!” Brill cried to the Heavens but his only answer was the sound of distant thunder fading away in the night.
The big stallion’s breathing sounded loud in his ears. Brill imagined he could almost feel his ears changing shape.
“I’ll tell you why Mister Brill,” Shane said looking down at his captive. “It’s because you are a very bad man and very bad things happen to very bad men all the time. It’s called Karma,” then to Dark Star, he said, ” You can let him up Star, but don’t take your eyes off of him for one second,”
The stallion nodded close enough to Brill’s face that everyone understood then he snorted wetly in Brill’s wide eyes and stepped away from him placing himself between Brill and Shane.
Brill sat up and wiped his face of horse slobber with the sleeve of his robe. The taste of his own tears was acid in his mouth as he begged, Shane, “Please master please won’t you have mercy on me, on my poor soul?”
“I did. I showed you far more mercy than you showed me. You were going to kill me outright, I only turned you into a chimpanzee. That seems just to me,” Shane said. “You should be happy, and a little more thankful you’re even alive to talk about it. Wouldn’t you agree, Mister Brill?”
“No, not really,”
“I can always carry out your death sentence if you prefer. Just say the magic word,” Shane offered.
“No, your Lordship, that won’t be necessary. I do believe I’m beginning to see things your way,” Brill said with a new perspective to guide him.
“I thought you might,” Shane said. “And now I think if I were you I would get lost before I change my mind and carry it out just because I don’t want to look at you any longer. Go find your friend Crandle and you tell him if I ever see him again I’ll turn him into a dung heap,”
“Of course I will your Lordship,” Brill stammered as he rose wobbling and got up on one knee. The one that still screamed pain at his brain by way of the entire nervous system. His right ankle felt no better either. He nearly fell back down twice as he rose unsteadily to his feet and got his balance.
“You busted my knee up pretty good with that staff,” he told, Shane.
“Awww,” Shane cooed, “Poor baby. That is a real shame too because if you are not out of my sight in the next ten seconds I am going to crack the other knee for you. Be gone, Brill. Now!” He said, in no uncertain terms.
“Is it okay if I take Crandle’s sword with me?”
Shane looked him square in the eyes and said, “One…Two…,”
“All right all right! I’m going!” Brill cried “I’m going!”
As he began limping away, Shane called out Four…five…,”
“I said I’m going! I can hardly walk you know!”
“I’m going!” Brill hollered back over his shoulder. He was quickly swallowed up by the darkness as he went hopping off in a big hurry.
“Seven…eight…nine…” Here Shane paused for a few moments and by the time he reached, “TEN!” even his tracks were covered by the heavily falling snow. Shane breathed a heavy sigh and sank down on the only spot not littered with fragments of Brill’s former sword. He laid the staff across his lap and stared at the fire for a minute before he sighed again and opened the Apprentice’s Guidebook to read for a while.
He had not been reading long when suddenly Shane put the book down in his lap and slapped his forehead with a resounding smack that made the horses. “Aw pooh! I completely forgot to get my money back from Brill before I ran him off, Star,” Now we will be broke all the way to Darvonshire,” he moaned. “There’s no way I can find him in this storm now.”
Dark Star tossed his mane and shook his big head as he wheeled on his rear hooves and raced off into the storm in the direction Brill had gone. Shane tried to tell him to stop but he was already gone. In less than the time, it took Shane to rekindle the flames of the campfire Star was back again. He was covered with clinging wet snow and in his teeth, he carried Shane’s purse by the drawstrings.
“Hey! You got my purse back! Shane cried out as the stallion pranced up to him and held the bag out then dropped it into, Shane’s outstretched hand where it clinked form the weight of the coins inside. “You are the best, my friend,” he told the horse as he threw his arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. How in the world did you ever get it back, or do I not want to know?”
Star whinnied and shook his head, laughing that maddening horsey laugh that he had come to know and dread so well over the past two weeks. Star shook his head and then pranced over to see Genny and Vanna who were waiting for him to tell them what they had witnessed. The mule’s comprehension of human behavior differed greatly from that of the stallion, who could understand what they were talking about.
Shane was left to wonder, while Star and the mules put their heads together to talk amongst themselves. Star told the mules that Brill had not gotten far before he caught up to him. He was cursing Shane to the devil and his stupid horse along with him. Rather loudly too. He had to go along in stops and starts so it was not long before he heard clop clopping hoof beats pounding the frozen ground behind him. He didn’t need a fortune cookie to tell him whom that must be.
The black stallion ran past Brill at full gallop then he wheeled and ran straight at Brill. but stopped short blocking his path. “What do you want now you bedeviled horse from Hades? I’m going away ain’t I,”
Star used his nose to nudge Brill’s pocket. The one with Shane’s purse in it.
“What,” Brill growled again, but the warhorse was not to be trifled with and took nudged the pocket once more only harder. He almost knocked Brill off of his feet. “AHHHHHHH!” He screamed as pain as he caught his balance on his injured knee and white-hot pain shot through his entire body.
Once he had regained his balance, Brill tried to tell Star a lie about losing Shane’s purse in his haste to leave but the stallion was not buying it. “I swear it on my sainted mother’s grave! I gave it back to your master. Go ask him!” Dark Star was old but he was not senile. He shoved his nose up under Brill’s pocket again and shook his great black head. The clinking of precious metal coins was unmistakable even over the noise of the swirling Northwind.
“Well, what do you know about that? Brill laughed sheepishly. “Heh, heh, heh. How in the world did that get back there?” he asked as he pulled the purse from his pocket. He even managed to look at it as though it had gotten there by magic. “I’m so embarrassed,” he said to the now glowering horse staring death at him.
“Would you like me to count it for you to make sure it’s all there?” he wanted to know. He was loosening the purse strings as he spoke. Star was hardly the caliber of fool Brill obviously took him for. He reared up on his hind legs and pawed the air. His huge hooves flashed past Brill’s face with a whoosh.
“Fine! Here, take it! I hope your master chokes on it too!” he spat as the stallion dropped down on all fours and snatched the purse from Brill’s hand with his teeth. He snorted wetly in Brill’s face and then took off at a run past Brill who decided to splutter back, “Stupid horse!” through the horse slobber on his frozen lips.
He was still balancing himself on the one good leg and steadying himself with the toe of the other foot when Dark Star hip checked him on his way by. Brill felt like he had been body slapped by a giant hand as weight and momentum sent Brill flying face first into a puddle of slushy snow and freezing mud. The front of his robe was soaked all the way through to his underwear. The shock of the cold and the agony singing in his knee sent an electric current of hurt through his body.
His boiling rage echoed off of the high rocky spires just above their heads when he lifted his mud covered face out of the puddle and screamed, “Arrrrrrghhh!” while frozen black mud and ice dripped from his face and beard.
Over the swirling storm, Brill could hear the high pitched laughter of a horse chasing his own echoes on the wind as Star ran back to Shane. “You stupid stupid stupid horse!” he cried as he pounded his fist futilely into the puddle which sent more frozen mud splattering everywhere.
By then Brill was already beyond caring anymore because his world had finally collapsed there in the mud and his sanity wasn’t far behind. Not only was he miserable, but he was also sure he was changing into a monkey thanks to Shane’s spell. It occurred to him just then that he should have asked Shane how long it would take for the full transformation to take effect. So he had no idea how long he had before he was hanging from a tree limb by his toes and it disturbed his mind a bit more. if that were possible.
We know that Shane was not a wizard but Brill didn’t know it so he believed it and that gave the spell even more magic power over him.
Brill began cursing Crandle, as a traitor and abandon-er of friends. Next, he cursed enchanted horses, stallions especially, then it was boy wizards, magical staffs and cruel fate in general that could call down enough power and lightning to shatter a sword like glass. “I hope the Devil drags the whole bloody lot of you straight down to hell!” he screamed at the Heavens. then he began to crawl out of the ooze.
All his efforts to wipe the mud from his face were pointless. “Stupid blasted horse!” he muttered to himself as he began hobbling the rest of the way to his camp. He knew he had dry clothes to change into there. Even if they didn’t have any firewood he wouldn’t freeze.
It took Brill an hour to limp and hop his way back over the top of the pass on one half-way functional leg. More than once he slipped in the mud and fell hard enough on his backside to make his teeth rattle but he plodded on until he reached his campsite.
Only to discover that everything was gone. The donkeys, the packs, the dry clothes, all of it. And Crandle was nowhere to be seen. He was stuck on top of Mount Thunder in freezing, wet clothes without so much as a blanket and he was all alone.
“CRANDLE!” he screamed at the top of his lungs but the North wind blew it away as soon as the sound left his throat. It flung his lament into the rocks above him and tore it into nothing in the swirling currents of turbulent air “CRANDLE!” he screamed again anyway before collapsing to the ground in a blubbering, heap of muddy clothes and abject misery. In between choking sobs, he cursed fate as creatively as he could with his brain half frozen.
He was sitting like that just a few minutes when someone tapped him on the shoulder with their finger and a voice that sounded just like, Crandle’s was yelling, “Brill! Brill!”
He looked up into the face of Crandle who was crouched there beside him calling his name. “You got away from them! he was saying as though he doubted it was possible.
“I would be far better off if I had been killed by the boy instead!” Brill wailed. “Why didn’t you warn me the boy was a wizard, Crandle?”
“I did I tried to tell you, Brill. Remember?”
“No! I do not remember”
Remember when I told you about that staff of his?”
“Yeah, I remember,” Brill said, but that still does not excuse you for letting me try to rob and murder a sorcerer! And you didn’t even try to stop me either,” Brill pointed out. “Some friend you are,”
“I did try to tell you, Brill but you told me to shut up or you were going to beat me,”
“Shut up or I am going to beat the fire out of you, Crandle!” Brill tried to say but all he could do was choke out more sobs and hiccups as his bravado turned to boohoo in the face of an overwhelming wave of misery.
“It’s alright, Brill’” Crandle soothed trying to console his partner.
“No! It’s not alright!” Brill cried “It’s not all right at all is it?”
“Sure it is, Brill. It is all right,” Crandle insisted. “We still have the donkeys. We can always sell them and then we’ll just find someone else we can rob. We don’t really need no enchanted horse causing trouble anyway.”
“I don’t give a hang about any stupid horses, enchanted or not you moron! I have bigger problems!”
“Why, Brill, what happened to you back there?” Crandle wondered.
“That bloody wizard boy turned me into a monkey!” he finally managed to blurt out.
“He did what?!” Crandle asked, unable to believe his ears.”He turned me into a monkey I said! Have you gone deaf on top of being dumb?” Brill sneered.
“But, Brill, you haven’t changed one bit,” Crandle assured him.
“It’s a slow changing spell, you numskull!” Brill growled back. “The boy said it’s going to take some time for me to change into a monkey but I will,”
“I’ve never heard of any spells that work like that. I don’t think wizards can do stuff like that, Brill,”
“No?” Brill asked as hope returned.
“No. I’m almost sure of it,” Crandle assured him.
“I sure hope you’re right about that because I don’t want to be a monkey,” Brill sniffed and wiped away mud and tears as a single drop ran down his muddy cheek.
“Where are all of our things, Crandle? I’m soaking wet and I’m about to freeze solid out here.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you! I found a nice warm cave we can take shelter in. It’s out of the wind too. Best of all there are a lot of dried sticks lying around inside the cave that we can make a fire with, and it’s close by too!” Crandle said cheerfully.
“Yeah?” Brill asked “Is that where the donkeys are, and our packs?
“Yeah. I already put all of our stuff in the cave but those stupid donkeys all refused to go inside the cave so I just tied them nearby. If they want to stay out in this storm then let them I say,” Crandle explained.
“Well help me up then and give me your shoulder to lean on,” Brill instructed, ”That cursed boy busted up my ankle and my kneecap with that bloody staff of his. After it had already shattered my sword and hit me with thunder.”
“Sure thing Brill,” Crandle said as he bent down to help Brill get up. “I didn’t hear any thunder,” Crandle said helping Brill stand on his one good leg again.
“No? Well, I sure as the devil did. I thought that it was going to blow me apart when it exploded right in my face as it did. I thought the bolt of lightning had struck me for a moment there.” Brill explained
“You got struck by lightening Brill?” Crandle asked as the two men started off in the direction of the eastern peak where Crandle had discovered the cave.
“No, the boy’s staff did. And it broke my sword like it was made out of ice crystals.” Brill told his old partner.
“Oh really?! I didn’t see that part.” Crandle admitted.
“Yeah I guess not since you had already run off like your butt was on fire,” Brill grumbled, he was angry again at Crandle’s having run away and left him at the mercy of the boy wizard and his stupid enchanted stallion.
“But, Brill,” Crandle cried, “My butt was on fire!” Crandle cried in his own defense. “That stupid horse pushed me back into the fire pit and my robe caught on fire! Feel it for yourself if you don’t believe me!” Crandle insisted.
Brill did not, in fact, believe him at all, of course. He did check by feeling the fabric on Crandle’s back with the hand that encircled his shoulders. Sure enough, the fabric was burned all the way down to the waist cord of his robe and Brill noticed a burnt smell that he had attributed to their standing in the smoke from Shane’s campfire but could now tell was coming off of his partner’s burned clothing.
Well, since that’s the case then I guess I won’t kill you for abandoning me back there after all.” Brill allowed. “Okay. Thanks, Brill! But let’s get you inside and get a fire going, then we’ll see if some hot food in your stomach and a nice warm fire won’t help to cheer you up.” Crandle said.
“A fire? How are you going to make a fire Crandle? There’s no wood up here remember?” Brill reminded his partner as they limped along towards the eastern peak.
“Yeah, I know that Brill, but there are a bunch of sticks in the cave. Somebody must have brought them up here and never used them because there are a whole lot of them and they’re all bone dry!” Crandle said excitedly. he was happy he could give Brill some good news after they had both been so badly mistreated by Shane and his enchanted stallion. “Hey, that sounds great!” Brill had to admit” But how did you find this cave in the dark with the storm and all?” He wondered.
“I got lost after I ran from the fire.” Crandle admitted “Then after I rolled the flames out in the snow and mud I headed for the peak to get back to camp and I just happened upon the mouth of the cave by accident. So I came back here and moved everything over to there. I had just finished so I went back to look for you and that’s when I found you. How did you get so muddy anyway?”
“That stupid horse did it.” Was all Brill would say about the subject. When they passed the three donkeys a few minutes later, Brill noticed that the animals were milling around nervously and braying but very quietly.
“What’s wrong with them stupid donkeys ?” He asked his partner but Crandle had to confess that he didn’t know.
“I guess they’re nervous because of the storm. Maybe there’s another one coming through later.” He suggested.
” Yeah I suppose you’re right,” Brill said as they hobbled past the donkeys. Crandle was pointing to a spot ahead saying it the place where the cave entrance lay. “Here we are then Brill. Hole sweet hole.” He said as they hobbled into the dark mouth of the cave leaving the wind and storm outside.
Crandle had spoken truthfully. It was warm inside the cave once you moved past the entrance and into the pitch black interior. “Careful of all the wood on the floor there, Brill,” Crandle advised as he guided Brill back further inside. “Here should be far enough in. Now then, let’s get you settled down by the wall here and get you comfortable and then I’ll gather up some wood and build us a fire.” He added. “Yeah, that does sound really good. And some dry clothes too. Don’t forget.” Brill said with a sigh. “Oh yeah. I put the packs right by the mouth of the cave. Hold on I’ll get us some dry robes.” Crandle had Brill sit down where he could lean up against the wall of the cave and stretch out his legs. Then felt his way back to the entrance where he had stashed the pack saddles. He couldn’t see anything but he was able to feel around and locate two dry robes. It helped that robes were all that friars wore.
“Here we go, Brill.” He said as he felt his way back to where his injured partner was waiting in the dark “Here’s you a nice dry robe” he said as he handed one to Brill and then began to strip out of his own burned up clothes.
He could hear Brill pulling off his wet clothes, he heard them plopping down in a muddy wet heap on the floor of the cave. Brill used the dry parts of his clothes to wipe himself off and clean his face before he put on the dry robe. Once he had it on he felt a great deal better and the chills that had him shivering violently began to diminish.
“Did I hear somebody say something about starting a fire in here or not?” he asked as he tried to straighten out the back of his robe. To Brill’s alarm, he discovered there was something underneath it and it was moving!
Whatever it was, it was long round and thick as a rope and it was squirming around like a snake underneath his robe.
“Hey!” he yelled “There’s a snake under my robe Crandle! Get it out of there!” he cried as he tried to shake the snake out of his robe but failed. He managed to grab the snake through his robe and then he worked his way down along its length until he came to the end. The one that he hoped was the head. If it wasn’t, then he could be in big trouble when he reached under his robe to get it out. “How did you get a snake in your robe Brill?” Crandle asked in the pitch darkness. “How would I know you blasted fool? You’re the one who brought it to me with a bloody snake in it!” Brill cried as he held what he thought was the snake’s head with one hand. The other hand and reached up under the robe and grabbed the snake behind its head.
The first thing that Brill noticed was that the snake as very muscular and strong. The second thing that Brill noticed was that the snake was covered with hair. But who has ever heard of a hairy snake before?
Whatever it was it was just going to have to find somewhere else besides his robe to hang around. Brill yanked on the hairy wriggling snake and that was when he discovered a third thing about the so-called snake.
It seemed to be attached to his backside just below his waist! “What in the blue blazes is going on here?” Brill cried out in the dark. “What Brill? What’s the matter? Did you catch the snake yet?” Crandle asked. He wanted to help Brill but he was scared of snakes and was not about to go near one. especially not in the dark where he could not see them.
“Yeah I caught it all right, but it seems to have caught me too!” Brill cried. “Get that blasted fire going so we can see this thing in the light,” He instructed Crandle. “All right, Brill I’ll get a fire going. Sure, that’s a really good idea!“ Crandle said. Getting down on his hands and knees he felt around on the floor of the cave for some firewood. After all, it was all over the place. Where they sat was no exception either and within a few seconds, Crandle had found several large dry sticks and gathered together a small pile of dried out sticks in various sizes that were laying in a heap beside him. He took them over closer to Brill and arranged them on top of the bigger pieces. Then he took out his tinder box with his flint and steel and laying a piece of cattail fluff on top of the kindling wood he began to strike his flint on the length of steel causing hot red sparks to fly from it towards the fluff. Meanwhile, Brill had started working his free hand up along the length of the snake’s hairy body towards his back where it had attached itself to him. Only when his hand made its way up to the spot where the snakes head should have been all that he found was a smooth hairy round thing that flowed seamlessly right into his own skin almost like…..”A Tail!?!” Brill shrieked as if it finally dawned on him what he was holding in his hands. The memory of the spall that Shane had cast upon him came back to him in a flood. “A what? Crandle asked, confused. ” What are you talking about Brill?” “It’s not a snake Crandle. It’s a tail!” Brill shouted and his voice echoed away down the dark tunnel-like cave. “Are you kidding me, Brill? Because that’s not funny. You know how much I hate snakes.” he said shakily. “It’s not a snake you idiot! I’m telling you there is no snake! It’s a tail, Crandle. A bloody monkey tail!” Brill wailed forlornly “You meant that spell the boy put on you?” Crandle asked. “Yes! I thought you told me that he couldn’t do this to me!” Brill said accusingly. As if it were all Crandle’s fault. Which in a way it was. “I could be wrong Brill” Crandle admitted, “But I’ve never heard of such a spell before.” “Just shut up and get that fire lit so I can see this blasted thing. Now!!” Brill screamed, “I’m trying Brill I’m trying!” Crandle cried as he tried to strike some sparks on the tiny pile of fluff. Most of them missed the tinder all together but one hot spark did land on it and it seemed like it was going to catch but then it went out. “Try it again you almost had it” Brill urged him. “I am Brill” Crandle assured his partner “I am.” Crandle struck a few more sparks with his flint before another spark landed in the little pile of cattail fluff but with a little encouragement, he was able to coax a tiny little flame up out of it that threw off a little bit of light. Just enough to illuminate the little pile of wood that was beneath it. Because Crandle was bent down over the tiny flame doing his best to breathe life into it, he was unable to see the woodpile itself. Brill, on the other hand, was sitting over by the wall of the cave and he could see it clearly. Far too clearly. “Crandle? Did you say this cave is littered with all kinds of that wood?” he asked in a suddenly scared and shaky voice. Yeah, sure Brill they’re everywhere in her. Why do you ask?” Crandle wanted to know before he went back to trying to coax a fire out of the tiny flame. “The reason I ask Crandle is that wood you’re trying to light is not wood you nitwit! Those are bones!” Brill cried. “What? Bones?! Are you sure?” Crandle sat up a little straighter to look but in his haste, he managed to extinguish the tiny flame plunging them back into darkness. This time it was deeper than before. Following the death of the light, darkness swims before your eyes and shadows fly all around you where there are none. “Of course I’m sure you dimwitted fool!” Brill cried, and now panic was rising in his voice along with the volume. The echoes of his words chased one other into the inky black recesses of the deep cave and faded quickly away. “Don’t you think I can tell the difference between a stick of firewood and a bone?” he challenged. “I guess so, Brill, I really don’t know, ” Crandle admitted.”Where do you suppose the bones came from?” Brill was about to ask him how the Devil he should know when out of the darkness from somewhere deep inside of the cave a third party cleared their throat with a loud and very deep “Ahem!” that seemed to rumble in the closeness of the cave. It was so loud and unexpected that both men nearly jumped right out of their skins from fright. A cave full of bones usually meant only one of two things. Either the cave had once been used as a mausoleum at some point in time. Or they were in the lair of an animal with a large appetite for meat.
Just then the mausoleum scenario seemed the least likely of the two. “Please excuse me if I startled you, gentlemen.” The third party said in a voice that was low and measured but had a deep throaty growl to it. The accent was decidedly foreign, but from where neither man could have guessed.
The speaker’s words were perfectly enunciated and delivered in clipped syllables that were crisp and precise but they had a decidedly frightening way of carrying words ending in S out long that sent cold chills crawling up and down Brill’s spine. “Perhaps I can help you, gentlemen, to clear up that little conundrum for you that is,” The mysterious voice said “All of the bones that you see in here belong to me. Alas, I fear that my housekeeping skills are not all that they should be and for that, I do apologize.” “W-who a-are you? Where did you come from?” Brill asked the mysterious voice “Where did I come from?” cooed the evil voice “Why I live here gentlemen. This is my family home and it has been for ages. Why do you ask?” “We thought that with all these bones lying around, this cave might be inhabited by a lion or a tiger,” Brill stated boldly, his nerve coming back to him a little. “Or a bear!” Crandle chimed in beside him. “Oh my! I can certainly understand why you would be concerned. But, not to worry,” the speaker said smoothly, “I can assure you, gentlemen, that no bears, tigers, or lions live in this cave that I’m aware of.” It added with a chuckle that sounded like laughter coming from the grave to Brill and Crandle. “What are you, an ogre?” Crandle asked suddenly cutting off Brill’s next question. The evil voice in the darkness laughed again even this time with far greater malice inflected in it. If that were even possible “No my good fellows, I most assuredly am not an ogre.” It said as the laughter trailed away. “Are you a troll then?” Brill wanted to know. He noticed that his new tail was twitching like mad in his hand like it was trying to get away from him.
Again the voice chuckled evilly and said, “No, Sir Monkey-Tail I am not a troll either.” “Look sir we didn’t know this was your cave or we would not have trespassed upon your home but we were stuck out in the snowstorm with…” Ah, ah, ah! Please! The unseen speaker laughed cutting Brill off in mid-sentence, “My dear fellows, haha! Don’t let it bother you a moment longer. For you, my home is your home. In fact, I am rather hoping that you will both stay for dinner. I want you to meet my lovely wife and my charming young daughter. I am sure they will be delighted to have you.” the evil voice said. “You mean to say your family lives in here with you too?” Crandle asked the voice.
Brill’s sense of dread was growing stronger with every passing moment. He was almost sure the mysterious voice was getting closer as it spoke. He could hear or thought he could hear the sounds of something heavy moving towards them from deep within the cave.
Because sound is transmitted differently through air than it does through stone Brill could sense it on more than two levels. It was impossible to tell how far away the voice’s owner was when it replied, “Why yes my dear fellow I mean to say they do at that,” The malevolence in the voice was unmistakable.
“No, no! Thank you all the same, friend but I don’t think we could impose ourselves on your family’s dinner plans,” Brill said projecting his voice to sound bigger than he was. “If it’s all the same to you we were just going to bed down here until the storm blows over and then we will be on our way. But thank you just the same. Right Crandle?”
“Uh yeah right,” Crandle muttered.
“The evil-tongued voice laughed and Brill felt his blood turn cold. “Don’t be absurd,” it chuckled and the air seemed to shift somehow as it did.
” I can’t possibly imagine how two men of such obvious good taste would ever be anything but a delight, but an inconvenience? Ha! Perish, the thought sir,” it chuckled, as though at some joke only it knew.
Brill had been straining with all his might to hear and now he was sure of it. There was something big moving very slowly and steadily up the cave towards them. He strained his eyes too but nothing pierced the total darkness.
Suddenly he saw two small luminous dots appear 75 feet away down the tunnel and they were definitely getting closer. At first, Brill thought they were flames like from candles or two lanterns.
Until that is, he noticed that the flames gave off no illumination. There was no light shining on the walls of the cave as there should be. There were no shadows either.
“What sort of light doesn’t cast light?” he thought to himself but he quickly decided he didn’t really want to know.
“Do you see what I see?” he whispered to Crandle.
“Yeah, I see it, What the Devil is it, Brill?”
“I have no idea just hurry up and get that fire lit,” Brill hissed through pinched lips.
“Yes, Crandle, with bones. And do it now!” Brill growled quietly.
By then the lights were only 50 feet away from them.
“Are you sure because we really don’t wish to impose on you or your lovely family? Brill asked the thing, hoping to buy Crandle some more time to get a fire lit.
The evil voice answered him and now it was even closer still. “I am as sure as I could ever be. My but you are a sweet looking fellow aren’t you?” it hissed as it continued moving closer and closer to them.
“In fact, I would go so far as to say that it simply wouldn’t be the same without you. The lights were now 35 feet away.
“Hurry up you fool!” Brill hissed at Crandle who was trying his best to get a flame going but the two evil looking lights were scaring him so bad that he dropped his steel. It clattered loudly as it bounced off the stone floor making a loud clink-clanking noise.
Still the lights drew nearer, They saw that they were in the center of the cave and about 4 feet above the floor. Whatever they were.
“Are you sure you won’t take no for an answer?” He asked and the speaker hissed back.
“Yes. Quite sure,”
”Perhaps another time. For now, I think we should take a rain check and be on our way,” Brill told the thing.
“But it’s raining right now my friends. Remember?”
The lights were now only 20 feet away from them and Brill could see that there was something very irregular about them. They had what appeared to be solid centers instead of being bright and luminous like they should have been.
As he watched, both of the lights winked out. When they blinked back on again it was at the same moment that an overpowering stench of rotting carrion and brimstone hit both men’s nostrils nearly making, Crandle retch while Brill plugged his nose against it.
The twin lights were now glowing a fierce green and gold and it was obvious that the light was coming from within them. In the center of each light there burned two elliptical ovals that were much like the pupils of a cat. Only these two had a deep golden hue in the very center that reminded one of burnished bronze.
Brill thought he could see them pulsating as he watched them, he could feel himself being transfixed as though by ancient magic.
“What are you?” he asked timidly. His heart was pounding in his throat as he asked.
“What am I?” the evil voice repeated his question with a chuckle that made Brill’s blood freeze solid as he realized that the twin lights could see him as well as he could see that they were two very large eyes and they were filled with flames.
“Why I am the Lord of Mount Thunder of course. But where have my manners gotten off to? Some host I turned out to be. We don’t get visitors here very often so I am a bit out of practice when it comes to having house guests. Please allow me to introduce myself. I am called Morloch The Terrible by your kind.”
“I can’t get these bones to light, Brill!” Crandle said looking up from the fire he was trying hard to light but with no success. That was when he saw the lights close up and he said, ”Brill those are a lizard’s eyes!”
“Yesss, quite so,” their owner agreed. “Did I hear him say that you gentlemen are in need of a light? Perhaps I can be of assistance,”
Brill was about to make excuses and decline the offer when he heard a sudden sharp intake of breath coming from Morloch’s direction. The words died in his throat as the fire that burned deep within the dragon’s eyes flared up until they glowed a bright red the color of a burning ember.
“I don’t think I want to stay here tonight, Brill” Crandle whispered as the old dragon exhaled from his mouth.
In his throat, two glands excreted bio-chemicals that were then forced out of the dragon’s mouth by the force of the air rushing past. When those two chemicals mixed together they reacted violently to one another and became a kind of naturally occurring napalm that burst into flames on contact with oxygen.
Brill and Crandle screamed as the dragon fire rushed out at them in the darkness and swallowed them up in a blazing fury of liquid fire. Their dying screams were lost in the fierce roar of the mighty dragon.
A gout of flames spewed from the mouth of the cave and set the donkey’s into such a blind panic that they broke loose from their pickets and ran off down the pass to the North. They knew all along what lived in that cave and didn’t want to be anywhere near it, to begin with. As the sound of their hoofbeats receded into the night a deathlike silence fell settled back over the clearing around the entrance to Morloch’s cave.
Nobody heard a sound as the bodies of two very bad men were dragged along the stone floor of the tunnel that leads to the dragon’s lair, way down deep in the heart of Mount Thunder. The only light
“Did you hear that, Star? Shane asked the stallion. He was already rolled up in his blankets inside of the tent but he poked his head out to listen closer. “That sounded like an animal roaring,” he said with some concern. But the sound did not repeat itself and the old warhorse shook his head to say he had not heard a thing. He whinnied low and Shane took it as a good night.
“I must be hearing things,” he said as he ducked back into his tent. “Good night, Star, goodnight ladies,” he said as he rolled back up in his blankets and pulled them up over his head. In less than two minutes he was snoring happily away.
Meanwhile, snow continued falling all around the little campsite and the entire world seemed to be asleep lying peacefully beneath its own soft white blanket.
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Familiarize yourself with http://www.vegasvalleynews.com and its typical content. If you should find you would like to write about events or subjects relative to ongoing or upcoming events that highlight the positive aspects of visiting or living in Las Vegas, Nevada. Prior publication is not required for consideration only quality writing counts. Writers living in Las Vegas are preferred but not exclusively, and all persons are encouraged to inquire if interested. Please email all queries to; Mark Satorre, the Editor-in-Chief a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
There you are all writered up and ready to take the New York Times Best Seller list by storm but still the cursor is blinking on the face of a sterile white computer page. You get the picture I’m sure. It’s the common cold that’s common only to writers called writer’s block. Stay calm and read on because, unlike the actual common cold there is a cure for writer’s block.
This is where we separate the writers from the wannabe’s because the writers will keep on reading while the rest will shut the Word program and the page and never write much, if anything at all. It’s sad but it’s true. Especially when you consider all of the unique stories that have fallen by the wayside due to BPS ever since writing was invented.
That is indeed tragic. Happily, those who are still living have a second chance now to tell their own stories and the stories of those who have gone before them with their stories as yet untold.
Whether you write or not your story can be told be it fiction or fact. Further there is no reason why BPS should even exist. If you are planning on writing a novel or anything for public consumption the last thing you should be doing is staring at anything but text.
Whether it’s your own writing or someone else’s, you should either be spending the time you allot to writing, reading, or else you should be writing something related to your story. Directly or indirectly, there is always work to be done.
Straight to the point. You don’t have a story or you don’t have any character’s or some combination thereof so we are going to start with the best approach. As you will see, once you begin to build characters, they lend themselves to their own adventures through your imagination.
The first step has to be the development of your main character and to take it to its finest form you have to practically write their birth certificate and if that helps your muse then there are any number of print shops online who will be only too happy to print one for you at a reasonable price.
Whether your main character(s),(MC) are man, woman, beast, or other; what you write on that first blank page that has daunted your every effort is a name.
Any name will do. You have no right to your own name so you can even use your Mother-in-Law’s name. Of course there are consequences attached to using the name of someone you know that closely. If you can’t think of a good name open a book or other publication and look for a good one you can use or one you can adapt.
Once the MC has a name you fill in the blanks yourself as far as their place of birth , parents names and backgrounds if applicable. Or whatever explains any other means of the MC attaining their present form. Obviously they did not simply pop into existence. If they did they still had to originate somehow. Consider the backstory of The Silver Surfer before he was sent to Earth and meets the Fantastic Four. The cast of characters that clash in this one comic book alone have a vast amount of backstory behind them which is what makes the story so dynamic.
Other prime examples would be Star Wars The Force Awakens, and the final episodes of Game Of Thrones. We all know death never loses a war. If the entire series came down to one single movie-length episode the end would not be nearly as meaningful to so many. Not without the depth of the storyline behind each character who has survived to this point. The death of the dragon and its being claimed by death and used to destroy the ice wall is exceptionally poignant because you know the extent of humanistic sacrifices and the hopes of humanity that fell with it. You cringed inwardly when the ice wall came down and you know it.
You know and feel the loss of the men who by choice lived and died just to watch and defend it to the death if called upon to do so. Even the conscripts had a choice not to serve the Knight’s Watch. In a compact form it would have little meaning either way. Nobody can say that about Game of Thrones because of the depth the characters were able to present to you the viewer. The process of character development and one’s development as an artist is not much different for you the writer. The creator of people, architect of civilizations, and destroyer of worlds.
If the main character will be in a recurring role writing a full biography for their parents will add depth to the MC. A depth that will come through you in your writing. Even if it is going to be a short life for your MC, you must be able to write their full biography. It should be approximately two single spaced pages. It should be no less either but it can be anything or anybody. How were they raised and how/why do they think like they do? What do they stand for, what do they believe in and why? What drives their philosophy? What makes them happy, sad, or angry enough to fight or even kill?
Are they good, evil, or both, and why? Where do they work? How did they get the job, their position? Who is their boss, and how do they get along? What were their past relationships? Do they have any children? If so, who are they? Where are they? What brought them to this point and what drives them on through the adversity every MC faces.
All of these things and more should go into the development of a main character. You don’t even have to write all of the nuances down as long as you already know the answers to those questions yourself.
You should write a biography for every secondary character as well if not to a lesser degree. If the individual writer wishes, they can write a full biography for every character. By doing this you will build a stable of unique characters who might find themselves in an adventure of their own one day.
You will learn as you do this how to combine the traits of one person to another. Traits that you have observed in friends, family, and from Television, radio, and printed characters you have been exposed to. It will also give you a deeper insight into what makes some people tick as you come to understand the way every aspect of one’s environment and upbringing affects how they interact with their own lives. Through them you not only learn as a writer but grow also as a human being.
There is not a definite established form for your own specific method of developing a character beyond the basic form of the biography. How far to take it is up to you, the creator. You know that you have done it correctly the first time you have to kill a MC. If you cannot do at least this much then no, you are probably not cut out for writing fiction of any kind. There are still a million other opportunities for you writing non-fiction if you choose.
If however you can do this and killing that MC breaks your heart then you are well on your way to the top.
If you try to write non-fiction and you still suffer from BPS then perhaps you are more cut out to be an editor, agent, or publisher which are more academic in nature. You can even be a copywriter, journalist, promoter, bookseller, or…?
Or, if you are the curious and adventurous type you can learn about the functions of all of these writing disciplines. What you will take away from this education is a greater depth to your own character and a greater understanding of what you face. Not from writing that Great American Novel, but from publishing it with any measure of success. But believe me, you can do this.
Never forget that. Never let anyone dissuade you from writing because practice does make perfect. The more you write the easier it gets.
Never forget too that writing is a discipline and discipline is what it takes because writing is anything but easy, and in writing there is no acceptable substitute for hard work.
You will never get a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature by skipping most of the classes. You might get a feel for the subject but you will never fully understand it or be able to apply what you learned effectively. If becoming a University English Literature Professor is your life’s ambition then you are screwed and there are no two ways about it.
The same principle applies to publishing that Great American Novel locked up inside of you. If you are not willing to put the work in to make your book a success just remember there are no excuses for failure when the buck is in your own pocket.
Poverty is no excuse either. A homeless person with a free Obama smartphone has the capacity to publish their own novel using the free WIFI available in any public library or other source.
I have no phone service, and yet I have WordPress on my phone. I can write a blog on it or even create a new website if I wish to. I can use the voice to text feature in my email to write my thoughts for a storyline or what have you into. I can dictate a story if I’m at an event, on the road, or sitting in a doctor’s office. You have the means and the time to write, and study writing in your hand most of the time anyway, so you might as well put it to good use.
You should be doing something productive with your time instead of staring at a blank page and wasting an opportunity to succeed by writing on social media about how hard writing is. Write all of that angst and self-doubt down in a letter, email it to yourself save it in a time capsule file, and open it in 3 years when you’re a seasoned veteran. I guarantee you will feel silly reading it.
Whether you think it’s right or wrong, write. The only mistake you can make as a writer is to not write. Stay tuned for the next therapeutic BPS treatment. Coming soon to a website near you.
So you say it has been your lifelong ambition to be an aspiring writer, but it just doesn’t seem to be working out the way you thought it would? GASP! How could that be?
Did you fix yourself up with a quiet secluded writer’s hideaway complete with the obligatory desk of varying degrees of forced austerity? Or did you opt for a land yacht of a rolltop desk?
Did you set aside a specific amount of time in every day during which you anticipated writing down 10,000 words? What about all of the other obligatory and impressive writing goals, do you have them all in a row? Pens, pencils, envelopes, stamps, paper, Post-It notepads, White Out, stapler, staple remover, red editing pens, paper clips aplenty? Do you have those too? Are they all neatly arranged in a tidy configuration? Got staples in that stapler?
What about a typewriter? Do you have a manual typewriter just in case the power goes out suddenly and you have to go primitive? Or if you just feel like writing your Great American Novel old school style? Is your PC and/or laptop charged up and humming away?
The kids are at school? The dog is sound asleep and the cat is wherever? Is the ringer on the phone turned off? Does the front door have a Do Not Disturb sign on the knob? Have you dusted your bust of Edgar Allan Poe and/or Shakespeare?
You have your obligatory mug of mud-like coffee and now you are ready to write like a champ.
But then you open up a shiny new Word Document and spend what seems like the rest of your life looking blankly at a blank white page?
What ever, you ask yourself, shall I do? You go on (Insert favorite social media tag(s) here),and you commiserate with your other aspiring writer friends and you all agree on how hard it is to write a novel. Whodathunkit you ask one another.
It very well could be the paper that’s to blame. After all, it does seem to be contagious and heading towards a full blown pandemic of epidemic proportions. I could be mistaken but from where I sit it does seem to be catching.
Being the ever socially conscientious humanitarian I always hoped I would be I feel that I should take this opportunity to rise to the forefront in the crusade against the spread of Blank Page Syndrome. Better we do it now before the whole thing gets way out of hand, pandemonium reigns and everything goes straight to hell in an alliterative handbasket.
Then nobody’s happy, and the next thing you know it’s chaos in every internet cafe in the world, Twitter is all aflitter and aflutter with #fliterature about the pitfalls, perils and tribulations of #writing. lions start lying down with lambs, kittens lead elephants around, and all kinds of other stuff happens. #EEK!
I am here now to tell you that it is not as bad as you thought it’s actually far worse than you can imagine. Hidden largely from human consciousness is the silent but not actually deadly syndrome, BPS or Blank Page Syndrome.
There are two count them –>2, sure fire ways of combating Blank Page Syndrome. The first of those is a real corker. It requires absolutely no skill or prior experience as writer. In fact you don’t even have to be capable of reading or writing. No judgement here. Let’s say you are simply lazy, undisciplined, and easily distracted from the task at hand .
Don’t be ashamed if you are, in fact you should be happy if you are because that means you actually do have the makings of a bestselling novelist within you. But let’s face reality. The way it sounds to me you are not very likely to ever write that first page much less the first chapter. Look at all of the things arrayed against you. Desk, paper, PC, etc. Daunting proposal is it not?
So if you have the desire, $30,000 to invest and are willing to dedicate your time and money to make your own dream come true then boy oh boy have I got a deal for you.
Today and today only from 7 a.m this morning until midnight. On the 31st of December of an upcoming year that is, you can purchase B.B. Wolfe Publishing’s Instant Author package and your future as a bestselling author is all but guaranteed. Why is it not fully guaranteed? Because its measure of success is entirely in your hands.
If you act now operators are standing around somewhere but I will be more than happy to process your order for you and set you on the road to success.
For the low low sum of only $30,000 US dollars you get your choice of full-length novel manuscripts that allows one to choose from either 1 of 2 progressively horrific horror stories, 1 Western, or 1 Historic romantic comedy adventure novel. 1 Fantasy series starter kit. Or you can upgrade to a double Sci-Fi novel that consists of two count them two science fiction manuscripts for the rock-bottom introductory price of only $45,000 USD.
With your check, and the selected manuscript in their proper places, you will be coached along through the entire process of editing, proofing and, publishing, and well versed in marketing it for electronic, paper, and audiobook application’s.
Full 100% support is assured.
By the time your novel hits the bookshelves and readers come flocking to read it from miles around you will be ready to give the people what they want. If what they want is another novel out of you.
We still have that little problem with BPS don’t we? Nope. Not anymore we don’t. Why, you ask? How, you ask? I’m so glad you asked. I’ll tell you how and why.
With this exclusive deluxe bestseller bargain box you also get a second or perhaps even third novel (If that is you opt for the Sci-Fi double package) because your money also gets you free lessons in how to write that great American novel you have locked up inside but simply cannot seem to unlock with an ink pen and a blank piece of paper. Which as we now know is caused by BPS. Or as it was once known. Writer’s block.
Act now and we will throw in absolutely free of charge our handy dandy cure for writer’s block at no additional charge.
You will approach your next novel with the confidence of a seasoned and trained professional writer of novels and a veritable force of nature.
It kinda gives you goosebumps just thinking about it doesn’t it? I know I have them aplenty just from thinking about the little spit of beach that money will buy me in Bora Bora where I can set up a hammock, mailbox, and fishing pole in the shade of a coconut grove.
You can stay tuned to this blog for further instructions on how to properly plan and execute a novel or short story writing project with the confidence that comes from knowing that you cannot possibly fail to succeed unless you really put your mind to it. Or fail to.
In the days to come we will explore together what it takes to turn those nasty blank pages into works of art by design rather than by leaving it to chance. Which is obviously not working out for many of you aspiring writers out there from looks of things.
I’m sure many people reading this are bound to ask themselves, who is this upstart who claims to know so much about writing that he makes such wild claims? I’m the upstart who is never at a loss for words. Not only that I am the dubiously proud discoverer of this dreaded syndrome. Therefor I feel somewhat responsible enough to share the cure as a public service.
These are the conclusions of my own ongoing research based upon personal observation; to whit the prevalence of aspiring writers joining Twitter, LinkedIn, Fubar, Inklyte, and other places where aspiring and non-aspiring writers alike can be found writing about the futility of writing.
Blank Page Syndrome is an age old dilemma that has daunted even seasoned writers ever since the blank slate was invented in Greece so long ago.Writer’s block.
Makes perfect sense now doesn’t it?
You just know that 50 centuries ago some aspiring Egyptian scribe was once sitting there in his specially arranged scribe spot with a chisel in one hand and a mallet in the other thinking to himself, “Damn damn damn damn damn damn it damn!” as they sat staring blankly at a blank block of sandstone wishing it would write something for them. The other scribes made chiseling look so easy and yet there they set. A billion thoughts and not a single word to express them with.
Thus from such humble beginnings the nefarious disease Blank Page Syndrome was born and the world of the written word would never be the same again.
It didn’t work then and it won’t work now either but the fact remains that since the dawn of time mankind has sought to write their original thoughts down on something. Something permanent to be passed down through the ages from generation to generation. And now you wish to join the ranks of those misguided souls who write as well but you cannot get past that first blank page.
First free lesson. You either are or you are not a writer. Period. There is no place for inbetweens or those who aspire. You can aspire to be a published author if you wish or you can aspire to be any number other things in this life but aspiration is a sure fire method for torpedoing one’s own aspirations is to concede the possibility of failure to them. You either are or you are not a writer and that is that.
What is a writer? It’s simple. Any person who expresses themselves with words. Every writer is unique each one has their own story that nobody else can tell. That story is a work in progress just like any you will begin on paper, pixel, or stone. You are its main character. If you cannot imagine adventures for yourself then no, you are not cut out to be a fiction writer, but that leaves a vast number of non-fiction subjects wide open for one to write about and offer to the reading public for consideration.
A writer is a teller of tales both real and tall. Some writers, like James A. Michener, can weave fiction and non-fiction together beautifully. Nobody else is going to be the next Sidney Sheldon or Danielle Steele, Stephen King, or whomever. Nor can they be you. Get used to it.
That was the same position Annie and I was in when suddenly a man’s voice rang out, taking us by surprise and nearly scaring us out of our wits as we hadn't even heard anyone riding up into the dooryard. “Travis McQuaid!” The voice cried in alarm. “What in Sam Hell happened here!?!” By that time both the barn and the farmhouse were completely engulfed by soaring flames. A huge black cloud of smoke hung overhead. I didn’t recognize the voice at first and so I thought perhaps one of the Lazy H riders had come back and found us. But when I looked up there was Jeremiah Kennedy dismounting from atop his old Jenny mule, Dora. Annie saw him just then and cried out “Miah!” before she ran to him and leapt into his outstretched arms. She threw her arms around his neck and buried her tear streaked little face in the front of his dirty old work shirt and began to cry like she might never stop again. Jeremiah wrapped his arms around her and he patted her head softly while his eyes took in the gruesome scene that lay spread out before him.
“Who did this Travis?” he asked me as he walked over to where I was still holding on to Mama’s body. “It was Rand Haney and his outfit from The Lazy H, Miah” I managed to croak between wracking sobs. “Yeah, I guessed as much.” He replied. “But then where in the Hell did them there Comanche arrows come from?” he wanted to know as he looked down at all the bloody arrows that were lying where I had thrown them. “They came from Haney.” I told Miah, and then I went on to relate to him all that we had seen while Annie clung to his neck, her right thumb planted securely in her mouth. “Son of a bitch.” Was all that Jeremiah said when I finally finished telling him the whole story. He only stood there in silent thought for a moment before he said. “We gotta get you young’uns out of here before one of them Lazy H varmints, or someone else happens along and sees you.” “What does it matter anymore Miah?” I asked him. “Mama and Papa are dead, what more can they do to us now?” “If they was to come back and see y’all here, or if they was to somehow find out that you’re not on your way to Montana like your Mama told them you was , then they’re gonna try to kill you all too”. “They might as well kill us Miah” , I told him. “They killed everything else we had and we got nowhere to go”, “Horse shit!” Jeremiah said spitting a stream of tobacco juice into the dirt at his feet. “Ya still got each other, doncha? “yeah sure, but…” “But, my eye Travis. You’re the man of your family now and your little sister here needs you to step up and be that man for her sake as well as your own. You still got a responsibility to Annie just the same as you did before all this, but now ever more so. It may just be that you are all she’s got in the world, and this world can be a cruel one.” “But where are we going to go Micah?” I asked hopelessly. “Well for now you’re staying with me until we can find somewhere that’s safe from the Haneys for you to live. I’ll stay and take care of your folks Travis, but I think y’all better take Dora there and lite on out of here back to the house before somebody else gets curious about all that smoke and comes an catches ya here”. “I got a pot of stew on the wood stove so you can go and fix a couple bowls for you and your sister, I’ll be along directly” Jeremiah said Then he addressed Annie, “Is that alright sweetheart? You wanna’ come and stay with me and Dora for a spell?” Annie’s face was still buried in Miah’s shirt as she nodded yes. So he took her over and tried to put her up on Dora’s back, but Annie wouldn’t let go of him. Miah held her tight for minute then whispered something softly in her ear and she nodded again then let him put her back in the saddle. “Come on now Travis” he said to me as he came over and took me gently by the arm and offered to help me up. I resisted him though and gave mama one long last hug and kiss on her cooling cheek. As I walked away I could feel the last spark of my old life flicker and die, I dared not look back again. I mounted Dora behind Annie when the roof of the barn collapsed in a great gout of flames and the rear wall fell in on top of it sending a great column of glowing embers into the air. “Y’all head off the long way across country, stay off the road and don’t let nobody see y’all, ya hear?” Miah told me as he handed me Dora’s reins. I nodded my head as I took them and then turned the mules head away from the dooryard towards Jeremiahs place and put my hulls to her flanks. I held tightly to Annie as the roaring of the terrible conflagration behind us slowly faded away until the sound and the sights were gone. Neither of us looked back until we were at Jeremiah’s door two miles away. The ugly gray smoke that had once been our whole lives hung heavy over their blackened ruins drifting slowly to the northeast on the warm Texas breeze. With one last long sigh of loss and heartache I led Annie in the house and closed the door shutting it all out.
Annie and I spent two weeks there at Jeremiahs cabin venturing outside rarely and during that entire time not a single word was spoken amongst us about that day. In Annie’s case she spoke very few words at all and ate but little food, she stayed in the bed Jeremiah fixed up for her and cried a lot.
There was a huge uproar over the faked Comanche massacre at our ranch at first, then it became embarrassingly obvious to all but those who preferred to remain ignorant of the truth. That the Comanche Indians had nothing what’s so ever to do with it. Then it became just as obvious what had actually occurred there and at whose bidding it had occurred. Jeremiah told me later that very few of those who came to the realization had any fervor for punishing the powerful Haney outfit that they had shown for the idea of exterminating the ragtag remnants of the local Comanche tribes that hadn’t been exterminated already, and for lesser reasons than that.
While many folks had been concerned with what had happened to Annie and myself, Jeremiah had explained that someone undoubtedly one of the Lazy H outfit had spread the word around the local gossip that we had been sent to stay with our Grandfather somewhere in Montana. So the word got around quickly and by the end of that second week the Sam Mc Quaid family was all but forgotten in the minds of our neighbors and friends.
On the first of July under the dark of the new moon Jeremiah got Annie and I up at midnight and bundled us into his waiting wagon and drove us back to our ranch. As we passed by the ghostly remains of our cabin and barn all I could see were the charred boards and logs that hadn’t burned to ashes and the posts to the corrals. The smell of burned wood though diminished still hung heavy in the air like a pan of death over a graveyard. Our eyes stayed locked on the scene until the slow moving wagon had passed by. Miah stopped it up on top of a low rise that overlooked the site of our former home.
There we could see two wooden crosses stood silent sentinel over two freshly dug mounds. On their white washed faces gleaming dull white under the star light we could see that Miah had painted Mama and Papa’s Christian names and the date they had died on to them. Miah helped Annie down from the wagon and I climbed down behind her. Then Miah took off his old hat and began to speak reciting passages from the good book from memory. Annies little chest was hitching softly as she cried quietly and a tear or two had escaped from my own eye as Jeremiah wound up the funeral by leading us in singing, Shall we gather at the river and mama’s favorite hymn Amazing Grace.
After the last notes faded away on the night wind Miah herded us back over to the wagon and we returned to his cabin without seeing another soul on the road.
The next morning over breakfast Jeremiah finally brought up the matter of what to do with Annie and myself, as we clearly could not continue to stay with him for too much longer. Lest somebody should discover our presence there and tell the Lazy H outfit, which would have a predictable circumstance for all of us, Jeremiah included. I told Miah that the only relatives Ma or Pa ever spoken of had been killed by the chokra or the war beaten states.
“Cept for one that mama spoke of right before they killed her, I guess we don’t anyone left in the way of family Miah.” I told him. “Who is it? Where do they live?” he asked. “Mama told Rand Haney that we’d gone up north to Montana to stay with our grandfather for the summer.” I replied. “Did she say what this grandfathers name was by any chance?” “No sir, but mamas family was the side that was from up around those parts not papas. Does that help any?”
“yep it surely does son” Miah assured me. “It gives us a place to start lookin”
“Tell you what let’s do then, I’ll send a telegraphy message up to a friend of mine in Helena and have him hire us one a’ them private eyes like ya read about in the penny dreadful and will have him see if he cant track down yer grandfather. What do you say to that?”. “I say it sounds like a plan Miah” I said eagerly, excited at the prospect of getting as far away from eastern Texas soon as possible. I tried to get Annie in the conversation but she sat over by the hearth playing with a rag doll Miah had made for her and said nothing at all.
The next day Miah went to town and fired off a telegram to his friend in Helena and then we settled down to wait for a reply. Three weeks later that reply finally came in a letter from the Private Detective Jeremiahs friend had hired for us. Jeremiah read it to us that evening at supper, it said simply “Grandfather contacted, stop. Keep Subjects secure till escort arrives, stop. “
“What does it mean Miah?” I asked him between bites of rabbit stew.
“It seems to mean that you grandfather is sending yall an escort to take you on up to Montana” Miah replied scratching his stubble chin.
“How long will it take him to get here?”
“I don’t rightly know Travis, I suppose it all depends on how he gets here. Be it by train or if he rides his cayuse all the way down from Montana or if he does both. I reckon we’ll just have to wait an see.”
Our escort would arrive on the train in Houston 16 days later on the 8th of August. We were expecting a Cowboy or perhaps a Pinkerton detective in a fine linen shirt, maybe even a woman. But the last thing we expected was an Indian which was why Jeremiah had almost missed him at the station.
Annie and I were playing on the floor by the fireplace when he walked in the door. He was easily the tallest Indian either of us had ever seen. If the truth were told he was the tallest man we had ever seen, period. When he walked inside the cabin he had to duck down low to clear the lintel. When he stood up he towered over Jeremiah, head and shoulders and Jeremiah wasn’t exactly what you’d call short. He was wearing rundown at the heels cowboy boots, dusty faded Levis, a heavy white cotton shirt with long sleeves over which he wore a black vest that was adorned with beautiful beadwork and porcupine quills. Around his neck he wore a bone choker studded with large pieces of turquoise and on his head he wore a big black reservation hat that had two eagle feathers stuck in its black band.
I half expected him to say “how” but Indians of course don’t say that and the big man didn’t speak that halting reservation English. His diction was nearly perfect and his voice boomed out of his big barrel sized chest like rolling thunder coming down from a high mountain top. “Hello Travis” the giant mumbled as he took off his hat.
“Kids this here injun is Mr. Jim Redfern, the man your grandfather sent down from Montana to take yall back to live with him” Jeremiah announced.
“Hello” I said shyly
“And this little sprout here must be Annie” Jim Redfern said with a huge toothsome smile full of gleaming white teeth.
Ever since we had witnessed the murders of Mama and Papa Annie hadn’t spoken more than a handful of words and she had shown but very few signs of life, but when Jim Redfern held out his massive arms to her the change that came over my little sister was immediate and profound. Annie gave a little girlish squeal of happiness, a sound I thought I’d never hear from my little sister after that fateful day at our farm. She launched herself into Jim Redferns embrace and he hoisted her up in the air as though she weighed no more than a loaf of bread. With both of them laughing he spun Annie around the tiny living room that compromised the majority of Miah’s little bachelor shack.
The two of them, probably the world’s most absurdly incongruous pair would remain fast friends until Jim died of smallpox during the epidemic of 1898. Annie refused to leave Jims side while he ate some beans and hot corn bread, but still had spoken not a word. As he ate he told us that he’d already bought our train tickets for Bozeman, Montana, but we were going to have to go on outta the country side in hiding in the back of Jeremiahs old wagon to make absolutely sure that nobody who might come along at the wrong place or time, see us and tell the Haneys. Even though a grow’d up man like me aint a scared of dying per say , I’m certainly not stupid enough to jump into an early grave at the first opportunity that presents itself. You can say what you want about Mama but she didn’t raise no fools. At least not none named Travis, no sir.
We got to bed with the sun that night but Annie and I stayed awake far into the night listening to Jeremiah and Jim talking about the olden days when cattle graze and beaver pelts were plentiful. But they were no longer, as the graze was being mismanaged by greedy cowboys like the Lazy H outfit and the beavers were all but extinct thanks to the greed and the trappers alike.
We pulled up at the train depot in a small town called Arlen, not far from Austen just before sunset the following day. Jim bought three tickets for us in a sleeper car that takes us as far as Bozeman where there were horses waiting to take us on out to our grandfather’s place. We said our good-byes to Jeremiah and boarded the train, an hour later we waved from the windows as the train began to pull out from the station. The big iron locomotive soon had the train up to speed and the sights of eastern Texas flew by in brief flashes that appeared and then were gone again in the blink of an eye. We made a long stop at the big depot in Austin before we were on our way to Dallas and from there we continued on to New Mexico.
I tried my best to get Jim to talk about grandfather whom we had never met, but the big Indian was reluctant to speak about him except for the occasional comment to the effect that our grandfather was a well- respected man in Montana . Jim Redfern was even more closed mouthed about himself. On the upside he knew a great deal about the areas that we traveled through and he would sit beside the window with Annie perched upon his knee and entertain us with the most amazing stories while the miles rolled beneath the steel wheels on which we glided suddenly north. It seemed as if we’d only been riding a train for a short time when the conductor came through the Pullman car announcing Bozeman, Montana as our last stop and we got ready to disembark. When the train stopped beside the platform I expected to see our Grandfather standing there waiting for us but there were only two elderly ladies sitting on a roughhewn bench knitting in the shade of the stations awning.
We walked down to the stables to pick up the horses that were waiting for us but Jim opted to hire a wagon to take us to our new home because the long trip had been especially hard on Annie so a long horseback ride would have been even harder on her health. Jim bought some quilts and pillows and made a pallet on the back of the wagon for her. Once Annie was settled in her cozy little nest Jim gave the reins a flick and away we went headed back to the southeast through some of the most beautiful country I had ever seen before in my life. Not counting the majestic Rocky Mountains of course. Now we were as Jim told us in the Bighorn Mountain Range which during the summer was occupied largely by bear, elk, buffalo and his own people the Ogalala Sioux. The wagon ride took us a day and a half but we finally topped the rise of a low saddle back ridge and there spread out over the beautiful valley below was our Grandfathers ranch the Bar None whose brand was a bar with a zero above it like so, O. Jim stopped the wagon there and we all started down into the valley including Annie who stood up in the box beside us to look too. The sight was breathtaking to put it mildly.
The big house stood high upon another ridge on the eastern side of the valley but further below where it commanded an unimpeded view in all four directions. Where hundreds of fat Hereford cows grazed contentedly on rich green grass and a lazy stream meandered its way through from the northwest to the southwest end of the valley where it spilled into thickly forested lands that Jim Redfern told us were teaming with game for hunting just as the stream was loaded with trout for fishing.
“You and I can go fishing anytime we want to Annie” he told my little sister who clutched her beloved ragdoll to her tiny breast, stuck her thumb in her mouth and slowly shook her head no.
“What? Don’t you want to go fishing with me little one?” he asked her not realizing that was now terrified of fishing thanks to Rand Haney and his Lazy H bunch. Annie shook her head again as I leaned over and whispered in his ear “we were off fishing when Ma and Pa were killed.” Jim Redfern said nothing more ever again about fishing in Annies presence or hearing but she did show a tiny glimmer of interest when Jim said “We’ll just have to teach you two how to be mountain men to hunt and trap game for the table. We all have to work for our keep here on the Bar None and I seriously doubt that your Grandfather will allow you youngsters to sit around the house doing nothing all day.”
As he flicked the reins and we made our descent into Grandfather’s valley I said told Jim Redfern that we were already accustomed to the hard work of ranching life. “Yes but up here so far north you are going to discover that the life of a rancher is much more demanding than it is anywhere else. The winters here can be brutal and long. In fact we will get our first snow fall by September 13th this year.” “But that’s only a few weeks away now!” I ejaculated. “That’s right so we have to get the ranch ready for it before the deepest snows come in.”
It took us the better part of the next hour to reach the big house and as we pulled up into the dooryard scattering chickens in our path, we could see that the big covered porch which I half expected to see sheltering our grandfather or at least some sort of welcoming committee was completely deserted with the exception of a few old rocking chairs and two old blood hounds that might by their looks have once been the companions of George Washington. The two old hounds barely even glanced up at us as Jim Redfern pulled up on the reins and brought the team pulling our wagons to a halt directly in front of the wooden steps leading up in to the porch. One of the old hounds raised up his big reddish brown head and gave out a long loud cry that was more of a mouthful whirl than a bark, then back to sleep. Right then as we were getting ready to climb down from the wagon the front door opened and of the darkened interior step a short Chinese man. He wore his long hair in a tightly braided ponytail and a spotlessly clean white apron over what looked like a brocaded black silk pajamas topped with a little black silk cap that had a colorful embroidered dragon chasing its tail around the brim. He was speaking Mandarin as he hurried down the steps and up the wagon where he bowed low and started gibbering in Mandarin again as he began talking our language down from the wagon.
Jim Redfern said something to the man in his own tongue then the little Chinaman switched fluently from Mandarin to English that was precise except for a pronounced Chinese accent which I won’t try to relate here in this narrative.
“Welcome, Welcome to the Bar None Master Travis, Misses Annie Welcome! You had long trip, you come into the house now and I make you a big brunch, yes?” The man said as he placed our small bags up on the porch. He came back and reached up to take Annie down from the wagon, but she would only let Jim Redfern take her in his arms. “This man here children is our house man, his name is Dihn Ah Ling, but everyone calls him dingaling for short.” At the mention of his hated nickname which he would never be able to slough off for the rest of his life, Dihn Au Ling went back to speaking in mandarin but now at a more forcefully rapid place that made it abundantly clear just how he felt about the dingaling nickname which was of course what made it that much harder to get away from. “Watch your language in front the children Ding and get upstairs and Vtell Mister Henry that the children are here.” Jim Redfern told him as he was the foreman of the Bar None, second in command beneath our Grandfather Henry James Baker our Mothers father.
“I saw you coming from the top of the saddleback so the table is all set for supper and Mister Henry will be down to eat in a few minutes. I’ve had their rooms ready for them since the day you left for Texas to pick them up.” Ding assured Jim Redfern.
“Good” was all Jim Refern said as he reached out his hands to Annie who flung herself into his arms.
Ding took us up to our rooms and the first stop was in Annies which as it turned out was rightacross the hall from mine. The room was not what you might call ostentatiously appointed but it looked comfortable with a small bed, a side table and a desk but for Annie there was a dressing table with a small mirror which she fell in love with at the first sight. My own room was much the same only without the dressing table and the ornate desk at which I now pen the accounting of this story was a lot more useful than Annies, which was nearly a simple secretary desk where as this one is a roll top that was imported from Chicago, Illinois according to Ding. On top of my dresser there set of large porcelain pictures and a bowl for bathing, and after our long trip I was eyeing it hungrily as I was dying for a bath even if it was only a quick birdbath in a bowl. Ding saw the look and assured me that there was hot water ready for Annie and I to wash up in and that he would be right back with some as he took his leave of us for a moment to go get it.
After the hot water was delivered Annie and I were left to our own devices for a while with instructions to come down to supper just as soon as we’re finished washing up. I was almost finished with my own ablutions when I heard a faint rapping at my door that I knew could only have come from my little sister so I hollered at her to come in as I was decent by then. Annie peeked her head in to make sure I was alone so I told her, “It’s alright small fry it’s just me now, everyone’s downstairs”. Annie came in then and after closing the door quietly she ran over and jumped into the middle of my new be and sat there looking at me while I finished washing my upper body in the basin. “Did you already have yer self a bath?” I asked her, and Annie nodded yes before plugging her thumb into her mouth. She said nothing else but I could almost feel what she was thinking about so after a few more moments I took the lead again. “Grampa Henry has a really nice place here, huh squirt?” I said, Annie only with nodded her eyes still locked on me. “You’re wondering what Grampa Henry is like, aren’t cha?” I ventured next. “uh huh” Annie muttered around her thumb still in her mouth.
“Yeah I know, me too” I admitted “me too”. “But how bad could he really be, I mean just look at how sweet he raised your Mama. Am I right?” I added hopefully I was right. Annie thought on this theory for a moment before she nodded again slowly. “Well there you go squirt. He’s just gotta be a kindly old man. He did take us in, didn’t he?” Again Annie had to only agree, that time she had to smile a little. “He must really like kids. Plus we are his only grandchildren since Mama did tell us that she was an only child, right?” another nod and a hopeful smile.
We were quite shocked then to say the least when after we’d already been seated at the table our benefactor Grampa Henry came tromping downstairs to join us for the noonday meal and all but collapsed into the chair reserved for him at the head of the table. He was unkempt to say the least. His graying hair looked as though it hadn’t known a comb in at least a month and his face was grizzled with a salt and pepper beard that had obviously not known congress with a razor for at least a week, if not more. He was dressed, if you could actually call it that in an old flattened miners hat, old hard tooled leather boots that looked to have seen better days from their rundown heels to the holes in their souls, and worn out old pair of red wool long handled underwear with a trap door that was half way open. The fact that he was rip snortin’ drunk could not have been more obvious had he been wearing a sign that said so.
“I take it you two are Travis and Annie aren’t ya?” He said after eyeing us warily for several moments. “Yes sir” I replied, Annie only nodded her head and sucked her thumb more furiously, her eyes wide as saucers.
“huh” Grampa Henry grunted as Ding put a piping hot plate of beefsteak and beans in front of him.
“Sure don’t look like much from where I’m sittin” he added. “You oughta see the view from here boss” Ding said as handed out the rest of the plates to Annie, Jim Redfern, and myself. “Where the rest of the boys at Jim?” Grampa Henry asked his foreman around a mouthful of beef and beans. “They’re over on the north end bringing up some strays, they should be in in time for dinner.” Jim Redfern replied. And so then went the rest of the conversation between the Grampa Henry and Jim Redfern until finally Grampas plate was empty and his coffee cup of moonshine, which he made himself in a still out behind the barn, was full. That was how Annie and I found out The Bar None had other hands that worked the livestock. Their names were Red Brines, so called Red because of his flaming red hair, Pete Toller, and Woody who only went by Woody and nothing else.
Greetings sports fans and welcome to yet another unbelievable episode of Vegas Valley Sports Beat. That spicy little meatball of a sports column that, stands for truth, justice and the American way. American ideals that may never be affordable again but an IV league education is on sale today at your nearest college admissions portal. Just show them this coupon and tell them your movie star mommy sent you.
Puts the phrase; artificial intelligence, in a whole new perspective doesn’t it? Especially when you consider the added dynamic that comes from knowing that these very same people who have effectively eliminated any semblance of respectability and integrity associated with an American college entrance examination are still running around loose.
Or that the attendant degrees awarded by those schools now amount to squat. Not to mention the skyrocketing cost of a 4 year degree program that is far more likely to inspire graduates to speak in public but only to ask about one’s desire for having fries with that than not.
Not to mention the depths one has to plumb to sink that low. I can only speak for myself but I can’t help thinking about David Hogg who was refused by some of those same institutions of higher learning even though he has a 4.2 GPA. He is probably peddling fast and furiously for Southern California on his bicycle even as we go to press to interview student victims with his cell phone.
Which raises a whole new set of interesting questions such as how David Hogg ever got a 4.2 GPA when I have never seen him anywhere near a classroom that wasn’t full of reporters. Excuse my gaffe I mean to say, classroom full of journalists, and CNN. Lest the two be confused.
Then he goes and gets rejected by every college on the west coast. Aw crap now I have to do research. BRB. According to my own exhaustive research Hogg has been rejected by four University of California campuses — UCLA, UCSD, UCSB and UC Irvine. Bummer dude.
According to UC’s website, a 3.4 GPA is required for non-California residents. Hogg has a 4.2 GPA and an SAT score of 1270. Hmm. Curiouser and curiouser.
UCLA processed 102,232 student applications in 2017, admitting 16.1 percent of those, with an average GPA of 4.2, SAT reading scores of 640-730 and SAT math scores in the 640-770 range.
By those statistics, Hogg is barely an average student and has a slightly lower SAT score than most. Plus he is an out-of-state student and would be required to pay higher tuition rates than California residents do.
What I find really interesting is that he managed to get admitted to Harvard but not UCLA. First of all 1270 isn’t going to get you into anywhere if your competition is getting 1420. You get what you pay for, or so I’ve heard anyway.
If one were to take the low road they live on, one could easily infer any number of interesting scenarios from this information. Like perhaps suggesting that 1270 was all Hogg’s family could afford so when he went to UCLA to apply he might not have had enough money left over to cover the price of admission. But that calls for speculation so I’ll leave that to CNN.
People are beginning to realise now just how deep the college entrance sale scandal actually goes. Outrage has been growing exponentially as it dawns on many degree holders that all of their genuine hard work and dedication to studying for the past 16 years or more has just turned to ashes in their mouths. As one might expect they do not savor the flavor.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering but mine is an equivalency degree which means I worked my butt off for 30 years in the field of structural steel erection and demonstrated that I was worthy of the awarded degree when I passed the ICC Special Inspector exams. I was there alone just me, myself and my code books so I know I earned mine.
I know how I would feel if I found out that the ICC was selling certifications to the highest bidder. Those students are absolutely right to feel betrayed by colleges who have undoubtedly expelled students for ethics violations while at the same time they were selling admission to their exclusive colleges to the rich kids who didn’t even want to go to college in some cases.
Pearson-Vue would not allow anything but code books a pen and a calculator, which they provided, to be taken into the exam room so hiring Felicity Huffman & friends to take them for me would have been a huge waste of time and money. Thank God I dodged that bullet.
I do however have a bone to pick with California because I applied to all four military Academies in 1979 and was not accepted to any of them because I had to be nominated by my state Senator or Congressman. Not to imply they were in cahoots with any of this mess but then again who’s to say anymore? As difficult as it might be to imagine anyone in the past being corrupt, or willing to bribe a Legislator from California to secure a place for Junior in a top college.
I can’t help but wonder, given all the long late-night hours I spent filling out paperwork, studying, and writing letters to my elected representatives; if my time might have been better spent had I skipped over all of that and filled out this form correctly instead.
To be or be not? Still these questions remain, And the sad situations, To which they pertain. If it be be ever noble, In Heaven or Earth, To resort unto violence, Or even give birth, To the thoughts which precede this, And collide in one's head, To give in to such weakness, Over what's done or said. If in truth it produces, In affairs of adults, Then perhaps it has uses, If some good thing results. But if it then does not, Dost one think it not so, That one's answer must be, Not to be, And just let it go?
Hilariously enough, the 2019 edition of Casting Shadows Everywhere sold more copies in a day than the original version sold in its first year. Craziness. You guys are some rabid book animals, and I respect your voracious appetites for literature.
I wanted to share the cover history of our first book. All of this artwork was done by LT, but I did contribute by bugging her pretty much the whole time she worked on them. (Her anguish really comes through in the art. My work here is done.)
Let us know which one you like best:
The May 2013 cover looks like an Agatha Christie book, but I still think it’s a cool cover.
The first revision of the cover looks darker and more modern. We put this out some time in mid-2014, I think.
The brand new cover for the 2019 edition is my favorite, I think.
So what say you? Which cover do you like best?
We’ll have more news soon, so keep an eye on that inbox.
And welcome to the first ever self-published edition of Vegas Valley Sports Beat; that feisty little column that simply doesn’t know when to quit which is why we are open to suggestions until 9 A.M PST this morning.
It’s a cold but beautiful Sunday morning here in the Las Vegas Valley region. Unfortunately, it is the first day of Daylight Savings time so if you haven’t already; do be sure to set your clocks ahead one hour today. Which of course means it’s too late to suggest reasons for me quitting this lonely endeavor.
Moving on then I would like to say good Sunday morning to you Las Vegas and to all of my family and friends all over the world and welcome all of my visitors to this my newly refurbished website. I am the curator of B.B. Wolfe Publishing, or Crypt O’Keeper if you wish. Some of you might know me as Typo Marx from other social venues.
What is in a name? That which we call a rose would smell as sweet by any other name. Inversely a horse’s behind is a horse’s rear end by any name, and I can assure you they all pretty much smell the same too. So don’t expect me to be anything but the same me as I am anywhere else. Call it what you will but I gotta be me and that’s that. At least I’m consistent.
B.B. Wolfe Publishing is a start-up publishing house that represents the fruition of a long-standing dream to do just this. To not only manage the publishing of my own work, which is quite voluminous as you will see in the coming days as I continue to transfer my previously published articles, poems, and reviews to this site. Where I intend to make them available to visitors in the site’s archives, but to promote my original unpublished works, and those of my extensive social family here as well.
I am frequently asked about my experience as a writer and the short version is I fell in love with storytelling in the 4th grade when I was assigned to write a short story for a grade. I wrote a story called, “The Rubber Band” which was a fictionalized story about how I was just walking along one day minding my own affairs and fell into a hole. Someone had dug it in an empty field and then covered it up again to hide the millions of dollars in cash they had hidden there.
Being no fool I, of course, took every last penny of it to my bank. Yes, I did have an account then at Commercial And Farmers which I believe is called Bank Of America now? Anyhoo, being a wise investor of 9 years and already a seasoned entrepreneur for two years I was nobody’s fool when it came to money matters. Or so I thought.
I began my first door to door lawn care business in Kennewick, Washington in the Fall of 1971 when I was in the 2nd grade. I went around the neighborhood, door to door to door with my Grandma Butler’s rake and raking leaves during the fall for fifty cents a yard. The leaves in question being sometimes as big as a dinner plate and the average yard being ankle deep in maple leaves it was never hard to find a yard to rake.
I’d go up to the door and if someone answered I’d say rake your yard for fifty cents Lady? Or sir, as the case were. I got extra for bagging the piles. The first day I did that I went to the market with a grip of change from raking 3 front yards and I couldn’t decide what to get myself as a reward because I could buy anything I wanted.
I left the store with nothing but I certainly did learn the value of a hard-earned day’s wages and the pride of knowing that when I went back in the store again and bought myself a thing of Jiffy Pop Popcorn; took it home to my Grandparents house and popped it on the gas stove just like on TV that I had earned it. I didn’t like popcorn so much as I always wanted to pop one off of the stove just to watch it in person. I’m fairly sure I never got another one on purpose, at least not for myself.
I raked leaves until the leaves were mostly gone. Needless to say, I cleaned up. By 5th grade, I would have parleyed my weekly allowance into a lucrative door to door lawn mowing service in Oxnard, California. My father gave us boys $0.50 which would buy like 3 comic books a week in 1972 maybe 4 if you were lucky. Or it might buy you two ice cream sandwiches, two packages of Wacky Packages stickers, or a handful of candy.
Or, I could take my Dad’s gas can up to the ARCO gas station next to the Stop & Go market where said treasure lie and get fifty cents worth of gas. I took it back home and then pushed my father’s lawnmower down the street offering to mow lawns door to door for $1.00 a yard. Needless to say, I had my choice of the best and the latest in comic books and read everything from Richie Rich to Scrooge McDuck, Archie and Friends was always a favorite, as was anything from Marvel save for Batman whom I never really got into in print. I was a faithful fan of the TV series though. You can bat your assets on that. The Hulk in print or on TV especially because Bill Bixby has been a favorite actor of mine since when I watched The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father while it was still on. I’m still a little upset about it being canceled so abruptly but what can you do?
As for Wacky Packages stickers, when we moved out of that house on Yucca Street my closet’s sliding doors were covered with them, and they’re probably still there. Needless to say business was good, and again I cleaned up. But it cost an extra dollar and you had to provide your own garbage bags as always. Company policy.
I learned that I had an affinity for storytelling when, while I was also in the 4th grade I lost a very expensive pair of gold-framed prescription glasses on my way home from school one day. My mother refused to believe that I had lost them, or a word of the truth which was that I had looked high and low between my classroom and home and had even walked over and over the big field behind Larsen Elementary where I’d last seen them. I even checked on top of my head numerous times having been made a fool of that way before. They were gone. Period.
But try to tell my mother that. She hounded me well into the night, interrogating me incessantly and I was in bed at the time. The hell of it was that she was in her own bed too. I finally told her a big fat story about how I had accidentally broken them and freaked out because they were twisted out of commission permanently so I took them up to the empty field across from the Stop & Go market and buried them somewhere in the field but I couldn’t remember where exactly.
She actually insisted that I go and look for them. And believe me, I did too. So I wasn’t lying when I reported this to her afterward. I looked but alas I could not find them no matter how many times I looked.
And this was the basis of my first short story “The Rubber Band.”
So then being stinking rich from the booty I fell on that day and having the Princely sum of $30,000,014.35 counting the $14.35 I already had in my white Commercial And Farmers, savings passbook; I did what any smart kid would do. I went to the marina where I also happened to spend a goodly portion of the youth I wasted in real-time and bought myself a respectably sized fishing boat of my own. Now I would no longer have to fish off the docks at the marina, while everyone else went out on the big charter fishing rigs.
I paid the man from petty cash and then took my newly acquired 45′ foot motor yacht which I had christened the SEA YA, on her maiden cruise out to the Channel Islands to see where the girl lived from The Island of The Blue Dolphin. A book which my teacher Mrs. Munyan had just read to the class prior to my sudden windfall.
When I got to the island I docked my boat at the marina and proceed to tour on foot and I discovered a lively marketplace selling trinkets to the tourists. I looked but didn’t see anything I cared for until I happened to find a peddler who was just setting up his little stand which consisted of a TV dinner tray the tin kind like Archie Bunker might have used. On top of that he placed an old briefcase that had seen better days that Samsonite had ever foreseen by the looks of it, and he placed a card on the briefcase that said simply,
FOR SALE-1 Rubber Band, $250,000. Serious inquiries only.
I thought it was the most ludicrous thing I had ever seen. One rubber band for a quarter of a million dollars?! He must be insane was my impression, but the old black gentleman had a way about him that didn’t strike me as being that of one given to foolishness. Then again you never can tell, can you?
So I went up to the man who was dressed in an old tan-gray suit and a natty black bowler hat with a gleaming black ribbon around the brim and I know now that it was rude of me to just come right out and say so like I did but I was like come on? $250,000 for a rubber band?
I have to admit that my inner Encyclopedia Brown got the best of me and of course Sherlock Holmes was no stranger to me by this point in my life so I had to know the meaning of this sign and what he thought was so special about this single rubber band that anyone in their right mind would even look twice at the sign. Except maybe to make sure it really did say that, and then have an even bigger laugh.
I don’t know what it was that kept me from laughing in the old gentleman’s face I suppose it was the same thing that kept me from laughing in Waylon Jennings’ face when he told me he Willie Nelson was his best friend. My father taught me to respect my elders, the Bible taught me to never cease showing kindness to strangers for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. I had read almost every book of the Bible by then too thanks to my Father who insisted we do an hour of study and homework as soon as we got home from school or we could read the Bible. I decided from the moment the edict was voiced that I would never spend a second doing homework so I read the family Bible. I especially enjoyed reading the book of Job.
Even though I was thinking he might be a few screws short of a full deck (metal roofers joke) (haha) I hit him up and to my complete amazement, he told me that it was not just one single rubber band but a whole bunch of them.
You can believe I laughed my butt off then. I wanted to know what the difference was and that was when I thought he had lost his mind for sure because he leaned over close to my ear as if he didn’t want anyone else to overhear and told me that they were not just any ordinary rubber bands. They were magical, and they played music. They were an actual band. You know, like you see at a band concert when they have a band.
I was like, “I think I hear my yacht calling me I better go see what it wants,” but he stopped me in my tracks when he snapped open the briefcase and I saw the Rubber Band for the first time. The leader of the band was by far the only recognizable one of the bunch as he was one of those gigantic red rubber bands which one seldom saw, in my 9 years of experience anyway.
The rest of the rubber bands in the briefcase were of the more common variety one might find at Kinko’s or Office Max these days. They were much smaller than the bandleader, plus they were multi-colored and there were a bunch of them at the bottom of the old man’s case.
The bandleader, however, was lying on top of a small podium at the top of the case and there was a tiny bandstand at the back. Both were lined with red velvet that was as worn and faded as the gentleman’s suit and looked like time had worn it thin in some places while in other places it was still as shiny and crimson as if it were new.
I snorted and walked away but then I head the old man cry, “Wait just a minute now before you leave, son. You haven’t even heard them play yet.”
That stopped me dead in my tracks and I turned around to see if he was grinning or not but he seemed earnest, and the only hint of a smile was more of a guileless one than a sneer so I’ll admit I was intrigued but only to about one more point and then I was going to blow him off for the pop-sickle stand down by the marina. The one that sold chestnuts.
“You’re right, sir,” I said, I have not heard them do anything worth $250,000 dollars that’s for sure.”
“That’s because they don’t play unless you give the leader of the band his baton to lead the rubber band with.” I was about to say something when he pulled a tiny gold baton like the one’s you oftentimes see Drum Majors twirling at the head of marchings band in various parades.
The sun gleamed off of burnished gold that had a patina of age far greater than even the old gentleman himself wore on his ancient brow. The tiny jewels that studded the bulbous head of the baton were minute to my eye but the sunlight gleaming through the ruby’s diamonds, and emeralds were proof they were real gemstones whose facets had either been cut by the hands of a miniature master stone cutter, or someone with very tiny hands and really good vision.
“Watch this kid,” the old man said with a bit of a showman’s flair that I thought was reminiscent of a carnival barker even to my own young mind. And then he held the baton out close to the big rubber band that was lying as limp as a boiled noodle on the podium. He touched the tip of the baton to it and I jumped back in shock as the rubber bandleader came to life before my very eyes and took the golden baton from the old man’s hand.
As I watched, completely transfixed by what I could not possibly be witnessing, the bandleader twirled the gold baton in a rubber hand that grew from his rubber form which was now a little more fluid than one normally sees in a common rubber band. But of course, this was anything but a common rubber band; by any stretch of the imagination.
The old man then bowed formally to the bandleader who snapped to attention smartly, bowed low in return and then rapped the gold baton on the top of the tiny podium. Instantly all of the rubber bands snapped up and began playing Dixieland rag in full orchestral force. Every rubber band had it’s own instrument because they were the instrument too.
As I tried to get my jaw off of my sneakers the bandleader waved his baton in the air and 5 rubber bands broke off from the rest of the band and took to the stage at the back of the briefcase. The orchestra in the meantime segued into, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and the musicians I have to admit were nearly flawless in their performance of that favored classic which I loved even then thanks to having joined the school orchestra that same year.
When they started playing a Fifth Of Beethoven at the same time however I was snared like a tuna in a gill net. I knew I had to have this amazing band and considering their talent I didn’t think a quarter of a million dollars was too much to ask for. I wasn’t about to tell the old man that though because I thought it might induce him to raise the price if I seemed too eager to buy the band.
All things considered, I think I handled the sale negotiation well. “I’ll take it!” I said though I had to shout to make myself heard above the twangy din of the band who was still going strong and blasting out rubber born boogie-woogie beats like only a blasted boogie-woogie blaring rubber band can.
“I take it you have $250,000 dollars?” the old man said and the band fell silent at a gesture from his hand to the bandleader. “You know that is a lot more than three dollars.”
“”Yeah, I know how much money that is. I want them, and I have the money.” I assured him.
“On you?” He said looking dubiously down at my not bulging pockets that actually only held a few bills for nicknacks and refreshments.
“Well yes and no, I have the money here with me but I’m not carrying it around with me in my pockets,” I told him, and I turned my pockets inside out to prove my point.
“I see. Well… I don’t know son, I have places to go and people to see. I can’t just stand around here all day waiting for you to come back with this money you claim to have when for all I know you might be pulling my leg. You might just run off and change your mind. If you’re not fibbing me altogether that is.” he said as he stroked the wisp of beard that flowed down from his chin.
“Would you take a check? I asked hopefully.
“Do you have a check? he asked leaning back he looked at me like he could never believe that a 4th grader could have a checking account. “I find it hard to believe you have a checkbook with that kind of money in it. he said, confirming my suspicions.
“Well no not really but I have my passbook from my savings account.” I offered. “Does the band play any kind of music you want?” I asked, hoping to maybe change the subject because I was enchanted by the rubber band and scared they might be sold to another buyer before I could come to agreeable terms with the gentleman.
“Yes, they do.” he said patiently. “And don’t go changing the subject either kid. This is business an…”
“I don’t believe you,” I affirmed rather firmly.
He gave an old stink eye look with a cocked brow accent I’d gotten from Principal Anzana a few times already at school. (I did say I gotta be me right? Okay, as long as we’re on the same page here, cool).
“and business is… What? Yes, it is business, and as I was saying before I was interrupted, business is….”
“I don’t believe they can play every kind of music there is. That isn’t possible.” I most assuredly assured him. You know how it is when you’re 9. Especially you 9-year-old reader’s. Grown-up’s need to be assured all the time. They’re funny that way.
“Yes it is possible, I assure you. Everything is possible. Even a rubber band. But that’s irrelevant. This is about money and money is about bus…”
“I still don’t believe it, and yes it is relative.”
“Relevant.” he corrected me, but in a gracious way that wasn’t the least bit condescending.
“Same difference,” I countered I don’t believe they can play anything more than what I just heard. And since it’s my money that’s involved here, I think that makes it my business whether or not they can play any song or type of music there is. I think I have to see that for myself.”
“What kind of proof would it take to convince you? he asked, glancing over at the bandleader who was standing at rigid attention in front of the podium, the gold baton held firmly in its rubber hand against its rubber body, then back at me. “A demonstration perhaps?” he asked with a raised eyebrow?
“Yeah, sure. That would work. I told him.”
The old man looked at the bandleader again and it pointed the baton at me for a moment then stood at attention again. “We don’t believe you have any money, and that is our business in a nutshell.” He said
“Yeah, I was kind of hoping you might overlook that.” By then as you might well imagine I was well on my way into the depths of my imagination. I could just see it right in front of my own eyes. My name up in lights in front of Carnegie Hall and below my name the marquis read,
TONIGHT ONLY-RUBBER BAND!- SOLD OUT!
“Nope,” he said. And the bandleader waved his baton slowly back and forth in front of himself in silent accord with the old man. “We also require a demonstration.”
“Yeah, I was kind of thinking you might say that,” I admitted sheepishly.
I’ve set a hook or two in my time and I knew that he was about to take the bait. I hoped. In my old age, however; I understand now that wily old sharks don’t become wily or old by being stupid. The whole time I thought I was about to set the hook in the old man, his own hook was already in my bottom lip and set firmly. I just didn’t know it yet.
“I have the proof but it’s at the marina in my boat.” I said pointing towards the path that leads back down to the docks where I had tied up the SEA YA.
“Your boat.” He said in a manner that suggested I told him I was the owner of Mars. “You have a boat? Don’t you mean your parent’s boat?”
“I’ll wager it’s probably their money you’re going to spend on the band too, isn’t it?” He said and I saw the bandleader shaking a little with laughter. In a rubbery sort of way. I guess you had to be there.
“Nope. I mean my boat and my money. They’re both down at the marina. One is getting gassed up and the other one is in the map box on the flying bridge.” Sinker, line, aaand, hooked. Fish on!
“On the flying bridge,” he said matter of factly. He was giving me that Principal Anzana look, again. Boy if you have a boat here it’s a rowboat that you somehow managed to get all the way out here in without getting your fool self lost at sea or killed by a head-on collision with a baby seal.
“And I still don’t believe you either. About the band’s musical abilities I mean.” I said folding my arms in front of me with the finality of youth..
“Yeah well I have to get going soon and I need to sell the band so I can retire in style. I don’t have a penny to my name so I need the cash influx to carry me through my golden years. My dream is to retire to a nice little cabin in the woods where I can hunt, fish, and grow my own food.”
That should have thrown up a huge red flag but hey I was 9 so give me a break.
“We can go down to the marina if you like and then you can see my yacht and my bank passbook. The band can play for us while we have a bite to eat and if all goes well maybe we can seal the deal.” I suggested hopefully.
To my delight, he agreed to the idea after a moments consultation with the bandleader who simply shrugged a rubber shoulder and handed the gold baton back to the old man. When it left his hand again the bandleader slumped over the podium again, as limp and lifeless as before.
“I have a long-standing policy of never turning down a free meal or the opportunity to give a man the chance to prove he is honorable. But only once mind and then they’re finished in my eyes.” the old man said as he put the baton back in his coat pocket, shut the briefcase, and folded up his TV tray. “I hope I won’t be needing this anymore, but it sure was nice that it happened to be sitting here just when I needed it,” he said as he leaned it against the tree he had set up in the shade of. The day was a bit hot as I recall now.
To make a long walk short the old man could hardly believe his eyes when I took him on board the SEA YA and got out my bankbook.
“Holy smokes!” He exclaimed when he first set eyes on her from a block away. “You sure didn’t get that toy boat out of your bathtub did you?”
“Nope.” I agreed as we marched on down to the docks. The old man kept the briefcase between us the whole way back and I could hardly take my eyes off of it long enough to watch where I was going. Blinded by greed I was. Stumbled over many rocks I did.
“Hee-hee! I guess you didn’t even know about the counter checks your bank puts in the back of your passbook did you, boy?” He said when he had finished examining the passbook and satisfied himself by his probing questions that I was telling him the truth.
“no, I didn’t know,” I admitted sheepishly. I could hardly contain myself though because he had said he would take a personal check, hadn’t he? “Will you still take my personal check for the Rubber Band, sir?” I asked him suggestively.
In the background the Rubber Band was playing, “In The Mood” and then they switched up and began playing bluegrass music and gospel in the salon behind us. All I heard was CHA-CHING!$ ringing, cha-ching a ling a ling with every song they played as they ran through a rather impressive repertoire of music genres seemingly in random order.
The old man sat back in his deck chair there in the galley which I was using for the first time since buying her that morning. She was all polished Teak wood, spotless glass, and gleaming stainless steel. A cleaning crew which the salesman at the yacht brokerage had come in to give her the once over and they had done the SEA YA extra proud.
He looked me dead in the eye for what seemed to be an eternity before he took a deep breath and sighed. “If it were anyone else but you young man I would be inclined to say no.”
But.” He stopped me with a raised finger that was as old and bony as a bony old finger can be and said, “But, I see now that you are indeed a gentleman of your word. So, given the circumstances, yes, I will accept your check, just as long as we can verify the funds by making a ship-to-shore call to the bank manager first.”
My heart nearly skipped a few beats when he said the magic word I had been waiting all afternoon to hear. Yes.
Yes! the Rubber Band was mine! Yes yes yes yes yes! My heart jumped for joy in my chest. He said, Yes! I, of course, wasted no time whatsoever connecting with my bank manager on the radio. Thanks to a very nice Coast Guard operator who patched it through for me. They remembered me from the day I was fishing over the side of someone’s boat while I watched it for them and got a shark hook in my side. They were the best. They took me to the Coastguard station there on shore and a corpsman gave me a free tetanus shot after they explained the joys of lockjaw to me and how you get it.
The old gentleman smiled and I would almost swear his eyes were deeper then than the end of space but it passed just as quickly when the band began to swing. All I saw then was a world tour poster with my name on its banner. It was not all of my thoughts that day were based upon greed. I really was looking forward to seeing the world. After all, I was headed that way when I found, no when I discovered the Rubber Band. Yeah sure that would fill the playbill quite nicely.
Game set and match I thought as I sat there on the deck of my own big asset of a boat. A fish out of water and floundering. Flip flop flippity-flip, flop. But I’m coming to that.
So to make a long story of a short one I wrote the counter check out like the directions in the passbook illustrated made out to the order of
Pay To: Sir. The sum of: $250,000 and 00/100——- Signed. you know who. The old man smiled as he slipped the check into his inner coat pocket and then he shook my hand, tipped his bowler hat, bid me bon voyage and he was gone just as quietly and quickly as that.
In sharp contrast, the Bandleader struck up a rousing rendition of Flight Of The Bumblebee just then so my attention span may not have been as far reaching as it might have been. I thought he’d never leave.
I cast off shortly after paying the fuel bill and made steam for Hawaii where I had everything all mapped out in my mind. I could put some Pacific Ocean between me and California. How hard could it be to cruise to Hawaii? I had everything I needed for a long cruise already so Hawaii it was.
If you are thinking this has a happy ending it doesn’t really, but in retrospect, I have to say it was an expensive education on the dark side of money. Meanwhile, back in Honolulu I had rented a lovely berth for the SEA YA and spent a ton of money promoting the Amazing Rubber Band to the masses via expensive ad campaigns. Then I hired a PR firm and a high profile press agent to hype the event and subsequent world tour kick off. Oh yeah, I had it going on like Donkey Kong and the memory of that opening night is etched forever in my brain. It’ll haunt me that way for a long time too.
The crowd was starlit like a cloudless night. All of the big names from Hollywood were in attendance as were the creme DE Le creme of society from numerous societies, or wherever it is that snobs come from and it was a black tie affair. But only for the gentlemen. The ladies dresses put many a sequin sewer’s children through college just from that one event alone. It was glitz and glitter galore. I watched from the wings stage left as the house speakers came up and the lights went down in the theater.
I can even hear the absolute silence of the crowd as the curtains rose and the stage lighting came on. I looked over at the stage that had been constructed just for the show. I choreographed the set changes and the playlist that moved the whole show along and oversaw the design process as well. It was so going to be a thing. I was ready, the Rubber Band was ready, and the whole wide world was waiting breathlessly with me as the curtains rose.
But all you could hear was a continual silence where there should have been fanfare and trumpets, and music blaring aplenty. Rubber Band members should have been busy marching all about and playing their little rubber hearts out for the paying public who were waiting to adore them and make a great big honking deal out of them and me. And make a whole bunch more noise too of course. You get the picture.
But so did the audience and before I knew what had occurred on stage I saw the faces of everybody in the theater break into wide grins and then an explosion of laughter burst forth from the audience. That is when I turned to look at the stage and I nearly threw up my black Italian socks.
Where a moment before there had been a rubber orchestra ready to boogie-woogie, there was nothing but a motionless pile of colored rubber bands lying on that silly looking stage setup. The only thing standing was a tiny gold Drum Major’s baton that stood propped against the red velvet covered conductor’s podium.
You should have seen their final opening night rehearsal, then perhaps you might understand how it was supposed to look in production that night. But that didn’t happen. I told the rigging guy to drop the curtain and that turned the laughter into an angry mob soundtrack that I can still hear in my mind as well.
As the heavy curtain fell, effectively cutting off the surging mob who was already calling for torches and pitchforks to be passed out. I ran out onstage with the old briefcase the band came in, scooped them into the briefcase and exited stage right. I made it to the backstage door just as the mob unlocked the secret of crawling under the heavy bottom hem of the curtains. Looking hither and yon quickly I saw my chance to make a clean getaway by going straight up instead of trying to escape unseen across that massive parking lot. If I was found out I would surely face the real possibility of being tarred and feathered.
That is what the tabloids said was in store if my poor publicist should ever show his face again anyway so I’d say that was a fair analogy. Even if it wasn’t really a concern at the time because I couldn’t very well use my own image to promote the band so I hired Barry The Face to be me until I grew up and was old enough to be me in real life.
I scrambled up a fire escape that went up to the roof located close to the back door like a squirrel with his tail on fire. I vaulted over the parapet wall onto the roof just as the mob started pouring out of the same door I had just used to escape from them.
I was safe in my lofty perch because adults never look up unless the sun eclipses or the moon explodes and they were looking for Barry anyway. To his credit, Barry had assessed the situation a few seconds faster than yours truly did because he was watching the band and he saw them go limp at their first sight of the audience. I only found all this out later on.
Right then I wasn’t going anywhere but across that roof and down the other side on another fire escape as fast as my feet would fly. I walked quickly as I passed by a few gaily dressed hunters but they didn’t give a nine-year-old kid carrying a battered old briefcase more than a brief glance. I ran when the coast cleared ahead of me and then I was out on the street that ran in front of the theater where it was easy to lose myself in the crowd. Don’t forget Barry was still running around out there somewhere and that last thing I needed was to run into him in public just then.
After I paid all the bills and paid everyone back for their tickets and settled all the lawsuits out of court through my attorney’s I wound up selling the SEA YA just to break even.
The most ironic thing about it was that I came up smelling like a rose because I still had $17.50 remaining in my account at Commercial and Farmers National Bank. I was $3.15 ahead of the game and I did have one grand adventure with someone else’s money. On paper anyway. It was still mine until I had to pay it all back to other people.
As for the fate of the now infamous Rubber Band, they faded into obscurity thanks to a lot of money and an airtight non-disclosure proviso to go along with receiving their settlement checks. It helped me out a lot that nobody really had the courage to admit to their friends they were ever there in the first place. Those friends who knew about their folly were there that night too. They didn’t care to admit to it either lest they were ridiculed by their friends who were not there, for being taken for a ride by a scam artist who sold them all on the ridiculous idea that rubber bands could make beautiful music.
Talk about your perfect storm of plausible deniability. And like every storm does, it quickly blew itself out from shame and faded quickly away to nothing. But as to what befell the Rubber Band that dreadful night off the coast Honolulu; I caught a cab to the marina where I boarded the SEA YA cast off her mooring lines and slipped out to sea. When I cut the engine again 4 miles offshore, well out of the reach of the law in international waters, I opened up the old briefcase and set it on the table in the galley and tapped the bandleader with the golden baton.
Instantly he sprang to attention and the Rubber Band began to play the first song for that night’s show. As I stood there watching in shock they went through the entire 45-minute concert routine flawlessly, just like we had rehearsed it. Right up until someone shouted ahoy the SEA YA from inside the salon and right in the middle of the grand finale they all fell down limp and lifeless again. again.
My visitor and the first person outside of myself and the old gentleman who sold me the band to hear the Rubber Band play was the Harbormaster. He was checking to make sure, or so he said, that everything was okay because he had seen lights on inside the yacht and was just making sure all was ship shape. I looked at him and then at the Rubber Band and that’s when I made the connection and a little light flashed on in my brain.
The old man had neglected to mention that they all suffered from a debilitating case of stage fright that left them paralyzed in front of an audience other than their owner and whatever sucker he managed to sell them to. As I cut the engine 4 miles off the coast of the Big Island I flew into a rage because the Rubber Band had been playing, “I’m sorry” by Connie Francis the entire time. I chopped them all up like a Ginsu madman. Including the big red bandleader whom I chopped into tiny little rubber band pieces. When my rage had passed and my mind was clear again put them in a sealed glass jar where they remain to this day.
Today my dear friends and family I dedicate this website to all of the amazing people I have met between 1971 and today for being a part of what makes B.B. Wolfe Publishing what it is. The result of a story based upon a lie told to cover up an unacceptable truth a long time ago. I have written many more stories since then including a stack of novel manuscripts which you all shall see published in the future.
I have read extensively since then and I have written extensively as well. I had my own column in an online news agency for just over a year until just recently when for some reason it decided to get up and vanish without so much as a goodbye. I studied with my own creative writing coach for two years, and while I was writing my first novels I began studying the publishing industry to better understand it and the process of publishing a book. I also studied methods of distribution and desktop Publisher in preparing for this day when I would celebrate the Grand Opening of B.B. Wolfe Publishing.
I still don’t have much of anything to my name but a big lesson to be learned, from my own point of view anyway, is that you cannot truly appreciate having nothing until you gain the world and then carelessly lose it all again. The world owes you nothing in return and the world will give you nothing in return except for an unending series of unfortunate events that are bound to hurt. A lot.
The real kicker to the whole thing was that when I finally went back home again two and a half weeks later my mom asked me why I was late getting home from school. I told her it was because I stayed late to search the field behind the school again for my glasses. I’m pretty sure she didn’t believe a single word of that, but it makes no difference. She’d never believe me if I told her the truth anyway.
On a happier note, I have been keeping abreast of all the latest in innovations and technologies being developed by Firestone, Goodrich, and Goodyear Rubber plus I have been diligently searching on my own time trying to find a way to fix all of the rubber pieces and make them whole again. But the work is moving along really well so one day soon I’m hopeful about the possibility of getting the band back together again
Greetings sports fans and welcome to another thrilling edition of Vegas Valley Sports Beat that spunky, albeit somewhat irregular little column that dares to say
And I say it not once my dear friends but twice now in my own lifetime, I can say what the pocket of my shirt said on October fourth, 2017 when I went into the operating room and beat cancer for the second time in my life.
This was drawn on my shirt pocket.
Indulge me for a moment won’t you please should I digress, but in my lifetime I have lost a large number of the people I loved to various cancers including more than one to brain tumors. One of whom was an intimately close friend named Tinker.
In fact, out of our little circle of six close friends in Virginia, Sandra died of heart disease and her husband Michael died after a long battle with throat and mouth cancer. The other lady, Joanie died of an embolism in her brain at work. Her husband was scheduled to begin chemotherapy a few days later but missed his window of opportunity to handle her funeral and he succumbed to the disease after a long slow battle. My girlfriend, Tinker, also had tumors in her stomach, well you already know her fate. Only one of them survived.
But I know I am never alone for Thou art with me. Your love is my rock, my strength when I am weakest, my light when it is darkest, my comfort, my joy, and my courage when I have nothing else left with which to overcome fear. These things I know in my heart are what love is, and I know that all things shall perish and fall into dust, but love survives forever.
Among my other proud moments, I helped build the new Children’s Research Hospital. The big beautiful pink one in Memphis, Tennessee. I put in, among other things, the emergency stairway that runs down to the basement from the first-floor, close to the elevator shaft which I nearly fell into a few times while my partner was welding the stairs to the wall because I was so tired.
Most of the time I was on that job I slept in my car rather than commute back and forth from Coal Hill, Arkansas to Memphis every day. But not every day. It has the distinction of being the only place where I ever fell asleep two times while I was walking over to start work on those same stairs.
I also helped set up the crane that set all of that beautiful pink stone that surrounds it for another contractor. We were rigging the grandfather block on our crane when their foreman got mad because his men had screwed up the rigging and he nearly broke my hand because of them while I was trying to show them how to fix it. Ours was correct so when he smarted off about a dollar waiting on a dime the only thing he had going for him was that he was already at a hospital.
I took a pay cut to get the job with Brown & Root and it was only supposed to have lasted for a few days but I was there for some weeks. Every day when I went to the hospital’s cafeteria (which BTW has great food, cheap) I saw hundreds of children of every age and every race and they all had one thing in common.
They all had cancer of course and I had hair down to my waist. I always wore a skullcap bandana over it to keep it from getting tangled in the webbing of my hard hat or the Timex Ironman watch I had in the web to let me know when it was lunchtime. Naturally, I got a lot of haunted looks that were filled with pain and longing from the sad brave eyes of some of the young girls and even some of the young boys who had lost their own hair to chemotherapy and or radiation therapy treatments. One horror show I am blessed to have been spared from so far.
But the sun is shining the birds are singing in the trees. Unless you are waking up to find that you have somehow managed to reach room temperature while you were sleeping it is simply a spectacular, Saturday afternoon here in the beautiful Las Vegas valley.
It’s a great day to be alive because it means it’s another last chance to be the person you always thought you could; try not to blow it again. How can he say such nonsense you might wonder? Oh, it’s easy I can assure you. As of today, I myself am fifteen months, 15 days but not yet fifteen hours, as this writing goes to press, cancer free.
Or so my Doctor says.
If the truth be told I can’t call it from where I live because it’s an everyday battle struggling with ceaseless pain that fluctuates between level 4 – 10 and it’s usually for no discernable reason. But it’s both from having cancer and from the ravages of a lifetime of working my ass off hanging iron. Like Betty Davis said, getting old ain’t for sissies.
Neither is surviving cancer.
I have to still deal with mild to severe fatigue and sudden onset illness that also ranges from mild to severe as in have to puke but can’t get out of my chair because I’m too sick to stand up and get to a restroom safely. You learn to fight it back down after a time. Such is life, isn’t it? You fix your gaze on the end game and you endure another day.
On the morning of October 4, 2017, I went into surgery at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas I lost my left kidney to a malignant stage 2 tumor that, according to the Pathologist’s report weighed in at a respectable 10 centimeters while my former kidney tipped the scales at 12.
The fight ended in a draw but, Again.
I was also born with a benign tumor on my left eye which was surgically removed when I was about 3 years of age and really had little idea what was going on. All I knew was that when it began to grow out from beneath my eyelid and spread itself across my eye it burned like fire and it came on as suddenly as you just read about it while I was sitting at the dinner table with my family
In 1966 the science of Oncology was primitive by the standards of today but I survived. Once you’ve had cancer or even a benign tumor such as the one I had from birth you cannot help but think about it from time to time and the older you get the more you tend to think about it and wonder more and more if it will stay gone or if it will someday soon try to make a comeback, but as a more virulent form of cancer.
About nine years ago I had a growth called a pterygium removed from that same left eye and when it appeared it looked like a yellowish mass was growing out across my eyeball. I was a bit concerned as you might expect but my Ophthalmologist assured me it was nothing more than a lesser type of growth and he removed it by laser surgery in an outpatient clinic. Perhaps to him, it was nothing much but not to me.
Assurances from a Doctor, as I have lived to learn, do not mean nearly as much, especially if you are poor, contrary to I was taught by my Father. Still, I thank God every day for institutions such as St. Jude, The American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald’s House, the Shriners, and a myriad of other charities great and small who provide the very best medical care money can buy for children with cancers.
Children who might otherwise, and in far too many cases, have no hope for another tomorrow today. God bless them one and all as they endeavor to do it all free of charge to the families of those children. I wish that I could name them all here but since I cannot I invite anyone who reads this if anyone at all to leave the name(s) of anyone I missed in the comments or send them a little love if you are able. Even the poorest person can give away a thousand smiles or a gift of their time and be no poorer for it. Quite the contrary in fact.
There are a million ways to help and who can deny that we are all in this together, or the miraculous power of love to overcome even death? I certainly cannot deny what I know is true. In the grand scheme of things, this article might not count for much but this gift is mine and it comes straight from my heart because I have nothing else left to give.
These Final Words from The American Cancer Society.
Reprinted from the linked website above.
Imagine a young child affected by cancer being given the opportunity to sit in and help operate a piece of equipment such as a backhoe, dozer, or excavator! That is the goal of “Construction vs. Cancer” – a unique fundraising event that provides a festive, fair-like atmosphere for young cancer survivors and their families, sponsors and ticket holders! More than 1,500 little and big construction enthusiasts are expected to attend this unique fundraising event benefiting the American Cancer Society in the mission to eliminate cancer as a major health issue through research, patient services, and advocacy.
The American Cancer Society is working to finish the fight against every cancer in every community. We are the largest private, not-for-profit funder of cancer research in the United States, investing more than $4 billion since 1946. Thanks in part to our contributions, more than 1.5 million lives have been saved in the US in the past two decades. Now, that is a reason to celebrate, so please join us.
We hope to see you there! Thank you Las Vegas 2018!
Greetings music lovers. Tonight at 8 pm in the South Point Showroom at the South Point Hotel and Casino in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada; Frankie Moreno the fastest rising star on the Strip is poised to bring the house down with his unique style of kick-ass, get up, get down and boogie-woogie, rock and roll, rhythm and funky blues piano.
Visitors and locals alike will be spellbound and captured by the musical spell of this young performer who effectively combines the musical talent and the onstage charisma of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, Ray Charles, and Brian Setzer. All of whom Frankie Moreno has rolled up and formed into his very own unique brand of music that will surely keep your toes a-tappin’ all night long.
I don’t get excited easily nor am I generally one who is easily impressed by a musician of any caliber, however; in the case of Frankie Moreno, I am willing to make an exception to that rule if only just this one time.
Having an extensive background in music in that I played in my school’s orchestra from the 4th through the 11th grades (percussion), played third chair marching snare in A Band Gold in my Junior year at Red Bluff Union High School when we played in Disneyland’s 25th-anniversary parade on Main Street.
My family is steeped in music and I am no exception to that rule whatsoever. I have studied the Master composers and I love every style of music from Beethoven to Eminem, to ZZ Top and everything in between. I have attended 60 live music concerts and seen even more top acts performing live on stages all over the United States, from California to Florida.
That being said; I ‘ve spent the past few days, (ever since I was first invited by Mr. David Lamer to come and review Frankie’s show tonight), listening to his music and watching his music video’s on YouTube. Although it might be a bit premature to say so I have to tell you, folks, that judging by what I have seen and heard so far Frankie Moreno is the real McCoy. Not only can he play but man can this kid can sing.
If his music doesn’t get your feet moving I respectfully submit that you might want to check your pulse and make sure it’s still pulsing. Better yet just run to the phone and dial 911 while you still can.
I have been advised that I should bring my dancing shoes so I promised Mr. Lamer that I’d (maybe) take my spurs off of them. But, then again, South Point is an equestrian venue so I just might find myself riding or dancing with a horse. In which case, no respectable cowboy should ever be without them. It’s simply un-American.
I am genuinely looking forward to tonight’s performance and I hope to see y’all there as well when the show starts at 8:00 pm. Tickets for this evening’s performance range from $25 to $35 and limited seating is still available as this goes to press.
For information on tickets and seating, click here.
Greetings once again music lovers. Let us speak about last night at the South Point Hotel and Casino and the live performance of Frankie Moreno and Company, And of my subsequent induction into the Frankie Moreno Army.
And right proud I am to be a member of such an august group of people, bet that.
Having never yet visited South Point I was very pleased with the ease of access and parking which is ample. I opted for the valet service which was very efficient. The Showroom is a very well laid out venue with table seating and numerous booths. The coolest thing was the unique duel bars inside the showroom itself. The wait staff who served us were excellent all around. I highly recommend South Point for anyone who might be thinking of or planning to visit because it’s a beautiful place to be.
I have to honestly say that I was disappointed with the overall performance last night. But only because there was not a full orchestra backing Frankie up. That is the only thing I can imagine that would have made the show any more magical than it was. On the other hand; Now I have something I know is going to be really special to look forward to when Frankie brings a full band together in Las Vegas again. The new “Boogie-Woogie-Boogie king of Vegas; Frankie Moreno.
Talk about your Cinderella story. What I witnessed last night was nothing short of magical. As I had anticipated from watching Frankie’s “>videos on YouTube the live show was nothing short of magnificent. One of Frankie’s Army recently told me that nobody can replace “>Elvis Presley.
This is true but Elvis was more than a name or a voice. Elvis was the whole enchilada with beans, Spanish rice and a shot of tequila. But the spirit of Elvis Presley, like that all of the great composers and performers who down through the centuries have left their music to mark their place in history, lives on in his music and the feeling s that it evokes in his millions of adoring fans.
He is very genuine, warm, intelligent, and personable. I had the privilege of meeting his Mother and Father, and his brother who plays the bass for the band. I can easily understand where he gets it from. “>Frankie is an honor to his parents and his original music reflects the values that they have instilled in their sons.
I was quite thrilled as was everyone else in attendance last night at some songs I hadn’t heard before. Songs that celebrated the individual’s power to achieve their dreams from within and their personal worth as a human being which is precisely what this planet needs just now. A voice for hope and reason to prevail over the hated and violence that benefits nobody.
If you wish to find greatness it’s inside of you. If you wish to achieve greatness; let it out and let it be. “>Frankie Moreno definitely has got his act together and it is definitely infectious. Thank God. Let us hope it reaches epidemic proportions as certainly Frankie’s music must.
This review would, of course, be grossly incomplete without giving props to the entire band who make up Frankie’s act and it’s plain to see the influence that he’s had on them as well. The horn section was wailing last night as were the backup vocalists who have beautiful dynamic voices all their own. It all comes together in the music that they play and it takes on a life of its own with a palpable energy that refreshes one’s soul and puts a big smile on everyone’s face.
Throw in a lively banjo picker and you’ve got the makings of a real live hootenanny. The banjo picker I am pleased to report did, in fact, show up last night one helluva good time was had by all. Many of whom were there for a second time or more.
If that doesn’t do it for you then they have free shots from the stage for anyone who has a Frankie Moreno Army shot glass available at the souvenir stand out front of the showroom or by contacting my lovely new friend, Kathy Cornelius, the President of Frankie’s merry band of fans. You can also sign up there to join the FMA or Frankie Moreno Army and get great offers on official merchandise and club events that include special, members-only get-togethers.
Let me tell you folks, Frankie Moreno really knows how to cook. He is certainly fit to follow in the footsteps of the King, as Frankie has embodied that same beautiful spirit for his own and then he makes it uniquely Frankie because he is as real as they come and that quality, which Elvis Presley also embodied, is not an affectation. It’s how the young gentleman truly is. He is Frankie, Frankie is the king of Vegas, and nobody will ever fill his shoes either.
I can say in all honesty that it was a very rare privilege indeed to attend last nights show. I haven’t danced like that in a coon’s age. And yes, for those who might be wondering, I did wear my spurs.
Next time it’s story time at Frankie’s, come prepared to play your A game Y’all.
Photos straight jacked from Frankie’s videos. Thankie Frankie. :c)
Greetings sports fans. No, no. I’m not late for April Fools Day, I wrote this 4 days ago. I’m just now getting around to publishing it. April fools! Got you again. Happy Friday Las Vegas. But seriously folks; let us turn our attention now to the fake news.
President Trump did not tweet that, (yet). But I think he damn well should. Today would be a great day for doing just that. (Hint, hint, hint, Uncle Donald.).
The Constitutional guarantees of free speech and of a free press are inalienable rights. Period. End of story. No arguments accepted. Congress shall never abridge these rights. Not while I have a pen they won’t.
On Monday, the members of Malaysia’s Parliament voted to enact the first laws that make it a crime to lie in a public place. Specifically, in the news media. Did somebody say Hallelujia? The bill is expected to be passed by the Senate in short order.
It was reported by, Patrick Frater in Variety that the legislation passed by Parliament would include harsh penalties of over $120,000 in fines and possible jail terms of up to 6 years. Online service providers will be held liable for all third-party content.
Not only does it have power in Malaysia, however; it has territorial jurisdiction over said online content as well in regards to any fake news generated outside of the country in a case where the people or the nation of Malaysia are adversely affected by any falsely reported news.
Demikianlah Selalu Kepada Tiran. In America, Sic Semper Tyranis. Thus always to tyrants.
Malaysian opponents of the new law in Parliament put forth the argument that this was a violation of free speech and they expressed the opinion that it was nothing more than legislation aimed at silencing the voices of the government’s critics during an election year.
The opposition obviously failed to make their case in the lower house but they did manage to get the sentence range reduced from 10 years to 6.
That very same argument would surely be made by some should such legislation be proposed in the Congress of the United States of America. And that’s fine; they have every right to do so. You can say whatever you want about whatever you want to whenever and wherever you want to.
In point fact, this law, of all laws, is set in stone for without this law we the people have no voice in the government and then we have no laws we have only a dictatorship and that ain’t happening. Period.
You can successfully argue the right of the individual, to tell the truth, or to tell a lie. I know that I could. I get it. So let’s say then that the opposition is right because they are. That’s the beauty of equal protection of the law.
However. In the real world, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Every act carries its consequences and the First Amendment is no exception to the rule. That’s the flip side of the Equal Protection coin. Heads I win; tails you lose.
In Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919), a case concerning enforcement of the Espionage Act of 1917 during World War I. A unanimous Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., concluded that defendants who distributed fliers to draft-age men, urging resistance to induction, could be convicted of an attempt to obstruct the draft, a criminal offense. The First Amendment did not alter the well-established law in cases where the attempt was made through expressions that would be protected in other circumstances. In this opinion, Holmes said that expressions which in the circumstances were intended to result in a crime, and posed a “clear and present danger” of succeeding, could be punished.
The Court, in a unanimous opinion written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., held that Schenck’s criminal conviction was constitutional. The statute only applied to successful obstructions of the draft, but common-law precedents allowed prosecution for attempts that were dangerously close to success. Attempts made by speech or writing could be punished like other attempted crimes; the First Amendment did not protect speech encouraging men to resist induction, because, “when a nation is at war, many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight, and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.” In other words, the court held, the circumstances of wartime allow greater restrictions on free speech than would be allowed during peacetime, if only because new and greater dangers are present.
The opinion’s most famous and most often quoted passage was this:The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. […] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.
The phrase “shouting fire in a crowded theater” has since become a popular metaphor for dangers or limitations of free speech. Reprinted from Wikipedia.
If Congress has a right to prevent such acts then they clearly have an obligation to do so in upholding the defense of the Constitution which they are sworn to defend as well. You can in point of fact shout fire in a crowded theater. As long as the theater is actually on fire that is. But if it’s not on fire and you start a stampede for the emergency exits which results in the death of an individual then you are guilty of murder.
That Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., held it to be a criminal act to purposely deceive any person by the exercise of free speech is self-evident. The court agreed and rightly so.
The influx of false news articles and reports that are suddenly all over the internet are attacks on the First Amendment and a clear and present danger to America.
I hereby make a motion that Congress should enact a law to provide for the prosecution of those who spread fake news stories in the press that have an unreasonable and/or adverse effect on the people and/or the nation that would tend to shock the conscience of any right-thinking individual.
Greetings sports fans and welcome to a balmy Las Vegas Saturday night. Tonight we have no sports and we have no national news to report from here. Tonight let us turn our attention to the world of books and review an amazing new novel from first-time author, Jennifer Irwin. @jenirwinauthor A lovely young lady that I am proud to call a very dear friend.
This is an unbiased and fair review based solely upon the merits of the work itself. Friend, family, foe, or any combination thereof, business is business. Just as it always will be whenever any issue is at hand, and a book review is no exception to that rule.
About the author.
A native New Yorker and captivating storyteller with a flair for embellishment, Jennifer Irwin currently resides in Los Angeles with two cats, a dog, and her boyfriend. After earning her BA in Cinema from Denison University, she worked in advertising and marketing, raised three boys, and ultimately became a certified Pilates instructor. While she has written screenplays and short stories since her college days, A Dress the Color of the Sky is her first novel. For more information, visit http://www.jenniferirwinauthor. Reprinted from, A Dress The Color Of The Sky. Jennifer Irwin (pg.316)
After having read the first 63 pages in one sitting I wrote this to the author.
Hi Jenn. I made it 63 pages before doing the old familiar face down on the keyboard thing due to uncooperative eyelids that don’t always share my enthusiasm for insomnia. If I were to stop now and review it based upon what I’ve been seeing from page one I would have to say this; Author, Jennifer Irwin displays an uncanny natural ability to paint a scene so rich in graphic imagery with such an economy of words that it defies belief that this is a debut novel.
She turns a flippant phrase as easily as a stray curl flipped aside and in those few words manages to convey the entire feel of an end of summer regatta on Long Island right down to the attendant emotions. Then flip, she transports the reader to the corn crib and an ill-fated misadventure with a beehive, then with the flip of a stray lock of hair, flip, and you’re rehab with Nurse Ratched and a host of colorful characters that any other author would need far more words to portray. Samantha Stevens transported people and Bewitched audiences by wriggling her nose while Jennifer Irwin does it with a stroke of her pen and the flip of a stray curl. A Dress The Color Of The Sky is an enchanting story masterfully written and rare.
For the story, I have to award Jennifer Irwin’s A Dress The Color Of The Sky 5 stars of 5. For elevating the art of storytelling above and beyond the call of duty, she gets the blue ribbon medal of excellence.
I read all the way to the beginning of chapter 13 and then last night I read the rest of the 33 chapters in one sitting. I stand by what I said originally, but I would like to add that it was very hard to read about Prue being molested and raped by family and people whom she thought were friends she could trust.
Prudence is a very lovable and real character in whom I think everyone who reads her story will be able to readily identify with on some level be it through an addiction or by upbringing.
I personally know many horror stories and I have a few of my own that would tip the credibility register towards unbelievable but sadly they are all too true to embellish. This is also the case with A Dress The Color Of The Sky. I have told nothing but the truth where this book is concerned for to even attempt to embellish it would only detract from it. And that’s simply not done.
I have known far too many persons who have succumbed to the indignity of it all and have taken their own lives because they simply could not live with it any longer. The saddest thing is how many people they left behind that actually did love them. It’s tragic that they somehow never realized just how valuable they were because someone seemingly took that value away from them when in reality nobody can take away your worth you can only give it away or sell it to the highest/lowest bidder. Unlike integrity, however; you can always get it back because it’s never really gone. It’s something you carry in your own heart.
It happens to men and women both and abuse takes many forms. It can be sexual, physical, and mental abuse and it can be all three wrapped up in one as it was for Prudence all throughout her life. Right up until the time she sought professional help to find her way in the world and a sense of self-worth that she could hold onto.
It was amazing watching Prudence transform from a helpless victim to a strong survivor who understands her own strength and value is not tied to the actions of others but is wholly within herself. A value that no person can ever diminish in any way or own. Prudence is a real hero and her story is a shining example for others who are trapped in the grip of such profane darkness. You have to admire her courage and her chutzpah. You cannot help but hope and cheer for her as she progresses towards graduation from rehab.
I highly recommend “A Dress The Color Of The Sky” as a must-read for anyone who is or has suffered from addictions and or abuse in their lives, or if you’re hoping to better understand someone in your own life who has been wounded in such a manner and to perhaps help them find themselves again.
Greetings sports fans and welcome once again to a very special edition of Vegas Valley Sports Beat the little column that is never afraid to call bullshit. It’s another beautiful day here in the Las Vegas valley. The temperatures were below freezing overnight but the sun is shining brightly, there are 30 inches of fresh snow in Lee Canyon, and all is right with the world.
Today, for the first time ever we are hoping to have a guest author semi-live on the column. A lady who writes novels and a free book on animal rescue under the pen name, Mistral Dawn. I had a lovely discussion this morning with Misses Dawn on Twitter and I promised to preview her latest novel, Taken By The Huntsman for her after I was mostly forced to express concern over her writing style by the author herself.
To that end, I invited Mistral Dawn to submit a synopsis of this novel to my inbox and answer some writing-related questions but as of this time she has yet to respond so it goes to press without her input which is more than she has any right to expect, all things being equal.
I stand corrected. Miss. Dawn did in fact respond but, just like every other reply I have received from her since early this morning, she has been nothing but rude and dismissive of every opinion that doesn’t jibe with her own. All I did was share an anecdote with her and away we went.
I made many attempts, in good faith, to do right by her and all I got for my effort was more of her nasty attitude. If this was one of my novels she would be the star of a very nasty chapter but this is journalism and so I’ll remain impartial and try to stay to the high road since Mistral Dawn seems determined to defend the low road so vociferously.
At the invitation of Miss. Dawn, I read an excerpt from Taken By The Huntsman which she had posted on Twitter this morning and since I have nothing more to go upon than the poorly written materials she has allowed anyone to see I can only describe her overall demeanor and her writing style as being juvenile at best.
Discarded and ignored by those around her for most of her life, Cassie is a lonely human woman struggling to find her place in the world and meaning in her life. Cadeyrn is the Erlking, the leader of the Wild Hunt, a hundreds of thousands of years old Fae who has always known his purpose. He has spent his entire long existence tracking the criminals of Fairie and punishing them for their crimes. While hunting for the murderer of a child who has escaped to Earth Cadeyrn comes across Cassie and realizes that she is the one that the great mother goddess has designated as his soul mate. He kidnaps her and takes her to his fortress in Fairie to protect her from his many enemies. He knows she will be angry and that he’ll have to work to earn her trust, but he finds his task to be even more challenging than he had thought it would be due to Cassie’s difficulty in opening her heart. Will Cadeyrn be able to convince Cassie that the bond between them is real and earn her love?
OTHER BOOKS BY MISTRAL DAWN
This poorly written blurb, typographical errors intact, is seemingly the work of none other than Miss. Dawn herself. This is a perfect illustration of my point. Anyone else might have used Grammarly but the daring 30 something lady chose to go it alone for some reason. Reasons which this reporter was unable to ascertain due to Miss. Dawn’s failure to stand behind her work and give an impartial interview.
This blurb, when taken together with the blurb which she stated was random and had absolutely nothing to do with the scene, nor seemingly with the question she posted as a “form of advertisement” is evidence enough. Perhaps it makes sense to her but not to me. Miss Dawn went on to say that she did not want any constructive feedback, or a pat on the back all she wants are sale$.
Honestly, I couldn’t tell. From the author’s kitten profile picture and her painful abuse of the English language to her painful abuse of her friends, namely myself, the entire package comes off as plebian and careless at best and I will not read the entire novel unless it is presented in a more professional manner befitting any writer worth their ink pen.
Why you might not ask? I’ll tell you why anyway because I promised Miss. Dawn that I would be fair.
As a novelist, journalist, poet, playwright, TV comedy writer, stand-up comedy writer, copy-writer, national award-winning essayist, artist, cartoonist, pro photographer, short-story writer, and especially as a life-long consumer of the written word I am deeply insulted by Miss. Dawn’s dedication to mediocrity in fiction. That coupled with her lack of common courtesy and then taken together with her unimaginative “advertisement” and the sloppy manner by which it is penned? I think anyone would be insulted that an author thinks so little of them as to offer up less than honest work such as what I have witnessed today.
Posting a kitten in lieu of her author’s profile photograph might be cute to her family, Facebook, friends, and to whomever else Miss. Dawn chooses to share it with on social media. And believe me, that’s fine; I often post pictures of lions and whatnot on my Twitter page too just for fun or to make a statement. But when I take the time to go to an author’s webpage to check them out for work or for fun I don’t think it’s very cute at all.
The kitten is cute as a button, but placing it as one’s profile picture for an author of serious fiction or non-fiction is unquestionably the epitome of unprofessionalism. It can be translated directly as carelessness and laziness on the writers part and in turn sounds to me, the potential reader, like two words that rhyme with duck and you. Neither of which I find appealing enough that I care to read her fictional works any further and she is fully aware of this because I told her so right before she blocked me.
Miss. Dawn either does not get it or she chooses not to get it. Either way it changes nothing and her juvenile attitude came shining through this morning during our impromptu, but candid, discourse on this very same subject. This is the fairest review I can give her or her fictional novel due to her refusal to be more forthcoming and speak for herself in a fair and impartial venue.
July 28, 2015- One reviewer named Avid Reader wrote this review of Taken By The Huntsman. 4 Stars. Very good story, a little amateurishThis is an interesting take on the face and the Wild Hunt. The Erlking is incredibly reasonable and willing to compromise to accommodate Cassie, whose reasoning powers crumble near the end of the book. The beginning of the story is mostly an information dump, but it’s an interesting information dump. There are some punctuation errors and some incorrectly used words as well as places where language could be tightened and the use of active verbs increased. But I really enjoyed the story. A good story trumps compositional errors. So while Miss. Dawn might claim as before that my assessment was based upon relatively short shrift, so to speak, it is accurate and I stand behind it 100%.
Many of Miss. Dawn’s 72 posted reviewers agree that while the storyline is a good one, the details can be overly descriptive and lacking dialogue where it would have moved the story along better. Few of the editing and formatting issues got overlooked by the readers, the way they are ignored and/or defended by the author.
That being said, I would like for you all to please turn your kindest attention now to the one book I truly did enjoy and which is free to all readers on Amazon. That is her non-fiction book aptly titled,
Animal Rescuer’s Guide To Staying (Relatively) Sane.
I was able to read a fair sampling of the book and I can honestly say I was more than just a little bit surprised then to discover that Miss. Dawn actually does know how to write correctly, and quite well at that. On the other hand, it also makes it that much more insulting to consider the other book but I’ll let that slide in the spirit of detente.
Clearly, the author of this book cared for the subject matter deeply and it shows in her attention to many details that many people might not otherwise think about when they set out to rescue an animal. Her usage of quotation marks around the words “manual” and “expert” is overly self-deprecating in my estimation. I have not seen the full manuscript but it’s clear that Mistral Dawn did, in fact, do her homework for this one and well-done to judge by the cover. Wink wink ;c)
Seriously though, the cover evokes images unbidden of a crazy cat lady tossing cats at passersby ala The Simpson’s but the posted reviews give witness to a continuous pattern of the skilled storytelling ability and level of conscientious professionalism which the introductory chapters set down in her first words.
On Amazon, Mistral Dawn describes this book as;
A short, tongue-in-cheek “manual” on how to do animal rescue as an individual, while still retaining some of your marbles. The guide addresses some of the common challenges and missteps that the author has found over a decade and a half of doing rescue out of her home. It also includes a small collection of answers to some frequently asked questions about cats and cat behavior. **Note: This work was written by a layperson and is intended for entertainment, not as a substitute for expert advice from a veterinarian.
I agree with these other reviewers as I found Mistral Dawn’s work to be a quite thorough, informative, and well-structured manual that any animal rescue worker expert or novice, will be enriched by reading even if it’s to varying degrees it is still enlightening to read. Unlike her fiction, it is clear to me that she did her due diligence before she sat down to write this book. Now if she will rewrite the other books with that same passion and dedication to the project she might hit the bestseller list in spite of herself.
Good luck in your future writing endeavors Mistral Dawn. I hope you grow a thicker skin soon though since you dislike criticism so much otherwise you are going to be hurt a lot and I don’t care to see that happen so unnecessarily.
I know and you know you can do better than that, Miss. Dawn, and you should be ashamed of yourself for rushing it to press unpolished as it is. If you paid any Beta readers for advice I would sue them to get my money back because they lied to you, my young friend. It needs further editing by a professional.
VERIFIED CUSTOMER REVIEWS
July 7, 2018 – I, too, didn’t understand the one star from a reviewer. This booklet was chock full of great information about adoption, fostering, caring for, and introducing rescues into your home. I volunteered for a collie-rescue and needed to know all the things Ms. Dawn suggests in her book. I was an intake worker (by phone, mostly) I also adopted and fostered several collies, along with caring for the collies I already had in my house. Everything mentioned in this book are considerations you need to take a new pet into your family–human and animal.The book was well-written and easy to follow. 5 Stars. Adopting, fostering and caring for a new pet.
January 8, 2018 – Good advice to people who are just starting to be animal rescuers or volunteers. Some of the points are good reminders even for animal rescuers who have been doing it for longer periods of time. Saying no is very important. It keeps you sane, and is in fact a way to protect the animals that you already are taking care of. 4 stars. Good advice
January 7, 2017 – Someone who calls themselves, Mizary wrote;
Not really a good book. Had no real information or quality to its subject! One Star. One star.
About Mistral Dawn
Mistral Dawn is a thirty-something gal who has lived on both coasts of the US, but somehow never in the middle. She currently resides in the Southeast US with her kitty cats (please spay or neuter! :-)). She has written three full-length novels in the Spellbound Hearts series, Taken By The Huntsman, Bound By The Summer Prince, and Captivated By The Winter King, as well as Intrigue In The Summer Court, a novella in the Spellbound Hearts series. To receive updates on her latest published work, please follow her on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Mistral-Dawn/e/B00NGXETSM/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1 . If you’d like more frequent updates, you can get her latest musings and excerpts from her work on her blog here: http://mistralkdawn.blogspot.com/
You may contact her at email@example.com, and she would love to hear from you, or through her Facebook page posted below, or Twitter her at @MistralKDawn. She thanks you humbly for purchasing and reading her first book and hopes you will do her the honor of rating and reviewing her work.
For a free sample of the first chapters of all her works, please visit her blog at:
The story of the stowaway mouse is much like that of every orphan. His untold story has no happy origin, few happy memories, and rare are fairy tale endings in the lives of the lost and lonely. It began bitterly enough for this lost soul, however, and his tale is a hard one to tell.
The mouse’s life began on December 25th, 1900 in the cargo hold of a tramp steamer called Lucky Star just as the sun cast its eye down upon the City of Belfast. Just in from Madagascar on the 22nd, she was silent and empty. Her crew had been given 3 days shore leave for Christmas. While they were wherever they were, the mouse was born, just as he would die. All alone in a filthy engineering compartment of a ship.
His mother, already frail, and diminutive from a prolonged lifestyle of malnutrition and deprivation suffered throughout the pregnancy. In the end, her legacy was her undoing. The Mouse would be her second baby, her only living heir, the last of her hard life’s greatest sorrows, and the final light in her dying eyes.
The first baby born to, Charlotte Mouse that morning came into the cold dank world with her fraternal twin brothers umbilical cord wrapped around her tiny throat. Nothing could save her.
Two minutes later the mouse was delivered in a gout of dark red blood as Charlotte began hemorrhaging from a fatal tear inside of her. As the mouse drew his first breath of fetid air their gazes met and he stared up at her, watching silently, without a care or a name. As the spark went out in his mother’s dying eyes her blood soaked his skin warming him. It sustained him when his natural curiosity and intense hunger pangs lead him to taste it.
The mouse’s luck truly ran out when the ship’s Engineer found him lying in a pool of coagulated blood, cold, hungry and near death. The old Scotsman took the scene in and assessed it quickly, as engineer’s will. Pragmatically he set to putting his ship aright again. His heart took pity on the orphan and he cleaned the mouse up dried him, fed him sweet cream, and then stowed him away in a wooden crate he’d fashioned to look like a toolbox to the casual eye. No sailor onboard would dare touch it as the old man’s temper was legendary when it came to his tools or his machinery. The ship was his world and in it, he was a man you’d not trifle with but once.
Even so, he knew what would befall them both should the mouse be discovered onboard the ship. Sailors are a superstitious lot as tradesmen go and that included the crew of the Lucky Star. They would view the baby which the engineer had named Mouse in his mind as an evil omen due to the circumstances of his birth and if he was discovered at sea the men would throw him overboard like he was a dead albatross that had fallen from the clear blue sky. They might throw him off too; just for the sake of argument.
Happily, baby Mouse was quieter than a church mouse, so he sailed with the Lucky Star until 1908 when the hand of fate intervened again and the Engineer took his own life rather than wait to die from Consumption. A company paid physician assured him he had weeks to live during a routine check-up ordered by the Captain who suspected as much.
He was ordered to pack his things and disembark in three days when the Lucky Star sailed for England wat dawn. The last thing the old Scotsman did before he drank an entire bottle of Laudanum was to write a note to an old friend from college and paid a boy to deliver it. The note bore no explanation, simply a dying old man’s last request for his long-time friend to smuggle Mouse off of the Lucky Star and turn him loose on the waterfront. The note stated that the mouse was to be left there where he could forage and fend for himself with the rest of the mud hens and the wharf rats that permeated Belfast’s shoreline. The secret of the Lucky Star’s invisible mascot has gone untold until now.
He made the transition smoothly and adapted to waterfront life like a duck takes to water. Few people saw him; nobody took notice of him. To human eyes the mouse was invisible so it was easy for him to vanish into the booming yards of Harland and Wolff; shipbuilders, when they began laying the keel for their biggest contract to date March 31, 1909.
The mouse made himself right at home in the vast expanse of lumber and steel and soon discovered he could move around unseen more easily at night. Oftentimes he would venture into one of the many break rooms where the crews gathered for lunch and sample their wive’s cooking. He was especially fond of cheeses and sweet treats but he never ate enough that any of the tradesmen noticed food was missing.
For three years he haunted the passageways, catwalks, and ductwork inside the immense structure which got bigger and more complex by the day; without being spotted more than once. On that one occasion, the mouse bolted for the fence when a security officer spied him going into a breakroom in front of the prow of the massive ship. Satisfied that he had chased the vermin away for good, and had single-handedly saved lunch from a fate worse than death to use the parlance of the times. James Heath, retired flatfoot retired to the lunchroom and helped himself to an apprentice riveter’s cold beef sandwich. He told himself he could blame it on the mouse if push came to shove.
Naturally, push came to shove soon afterward because it was such a fine idea, the low paid rent-a-cop supplemented his meager diet at the expense of many a man. Soon the legend of the mouse who raided lunch boxes with impunity grew faster than the great ship itself. Still, nobody ever laid eyes upon him. This increased the growth rate of the rumor exponentially. Soon, some of the workers in the shipyard were leaving a plate of food out on the table in every lunchroom on the job site in a futile effort to lure the chow hall chupacabra away from their own food.
Several attempts were made upon the life of the mouse by way of offering poisoned sandwiches, which were clearly labeled so that no human being ate one by mistake. After 3 weeks in a row. The baits had gone untouched, while the lunch buckets started coming up short of food again, and the mouse’s legend grew rapidly.
By the time the White Star Line’s legendary ship was ready for her owners and arrived in England, Titanic was ready to sail for New York. By April 12th, 2012 the mouse had been in and out and all around the ship to the point he might have been considered the world’s foremost expert on the majestic super-structure.
He was familiar with the entire ship, and every piece of her machinery including her three massive, coal-fired engines that could propel the mighty ship through the frigid North Atlantic at a speed of 23 knots, or roughly 25 miles-per-hour per hour. Historians say Titanic was speeding along at 22.5 knots when she struck an iceberg and sank on the night of April 15th, just 3 days after embarking on her maiden voyage she went to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean.
When Titanic left that morning amidst the biggest public spectacle England had seen since the coronation of her last monarch, Titanic’s manifest listed 2,223 passengers on board bound for New York. The unofficial total, however, was 2,224. Counting the mouse.
By then the crew had been working on the ship while she underwent sea trials, upgrades final fittings, and final shakedown cruise. They were used to seeing the mouse around the ship in places where he could not possibly have been. Yet time and time again, there he was, begging for a treat, which the stewards were more than happy to provide him with. Soon the mouse was starting to bulge noticeably about his belly. He was absolutely corpulent some might even say but nobody did of course because to the crew the Mouse was an omen of good luck and they all had an uneasy feeling lingering in the backs of their minds that Titanic was cursed.
Anything that might chase that bad luck away was good enough for the men and women who staffed the mighty ship, so the mouse was living the lifestyle of the filthy rich, and famous. Nobody else on board, Titanic, not even Captain Smith was any the wiser for it.
The mouse stayed hidden well out of the sight of all of Titanic’s passengers, and a few of the crew members as well. They had expressed an unbending disdain for their unofficial mascot whom they knew only as, The Official House-Mouse To his Majesty’s ship, the mouse. Some tried to say it was an ill-portent but they were shouted down by the vocal majority who felt he was full of it and said as much within the range of the mouse’s hearing.
He didn’t really understand the intricacies of human interaction having no real frame of reference to go on. But he instinctively understood what hatred was, however. He had seen more than his share of that during the time he spent living along the waterfront.
To the mouse, the opulent appointments and fixtures in the first class accommodations were not lost completely because he often found things here and there like a ball, a stray jack, and other toys that had fallen out of a careless child’s pocket. Things left there unnoticed by its owner to appropriate as his own. In his secret living places strewn throughout the big ship, the mouse had amassed quite a unique collection of worldly goods of an eclectic nature to be sure. In one spot you would have found only a small red rubber ball or a few bent, and partially mutilated rivets that had been rejected by Titanic’s builders.
In another part of the ship, you might have found another stash that consisted of several chunks of coal, an ivory button from an officer’s custom-tailored tunic, a small wrench some mechanic had dropped below decks, and an official Titanic playing card. The Ace of Spades.
In one compartment, low down on Titanic’s starboard side between the prow, and engine room, you would have found nothing but the bed where the mouse slept every night no matter what was going on. It was warm all the time from the fiery furnaces that turned coal into horsepower. And it was there, more than anywhere else, that he felt the safest because it reminded him of the ship where he was born and raised. The thrum and vibration of Titanic’s massive walking beams marching around and around in perfect harmony lulled the mouse to sleep better than anything in the world. This was his world and in that world, he was safe and warm. That, he instinctively knew, was not to be trifled with lightly.
One child was rumored to have befriended the mouse. A young girl whose real name has been lost in the tangled issues in the days following the wreck of the “unsinkable” Titanic. For the sake of convenience, we shall call her Allison. Both of them were, by their nature, painfully shy and retreating and so it was only natural they would find one another and become fast friends on sight. It takes one to fully appreciate one.
While the little girls’ parents were in the parlor taking their “fancy-schmancy dinners, dances, and brandies with stinky old cigars which Allison said, “smelled like burning horse manure,” to her. She had to stay in their suite with the butler to watch her. Allison and the mouse played together for hours on end until 11:00 o’ clock when her mother and father would drunkenly roll and stroll back to their luxurious first-class suite filled to the gills with champagne and brandy.
Allison’s mother was invariably draped in a glamorous evening gown that in some countries, represented half of their gross national product. That didn’t even take into account that she was dripping diamonds and pearls., and wrapped herself in enough mink and fox fur to reupholster a full-grown Clydesdale. Or that she wore each gown once and then threw it away like other’ people toss out their used toilet paper.
They could hear Allison’s parents coming down the companionway a mile away so on the two nights, they spent together, the mouse was able to escape their notice by slipping out through the heat ducts. Meanwhile, Ali, as she said everyone called her, would distract their attention and cover his getaway. The mouse didn’t know what would happen if he was sighted in first-class. But Allison knew they would throw him overboard. That was what the butler had assured her when she saw their suite for the first time and looked it over.
“The better class of people must be protected, Miss, Allison.” He explained to her in that special stuck-up way Jarvis, the discriminating English butler, had with words.
“What? Oh, I see.” she had replied, her face set as hard as if it had been carved out of the same stone from which Jarvis’s face was chiseled. Allison faced her butler and pinned him to an index card with a pushpin in her mind. “But of course.” she quipped, her voice dripping with unfiltered vitriol. “We simply cannot have vermin in the woodpile now can we?”
Quite so Miss, Allison.” Jarvis replied. Allison’s venom dripping from his visage like water rolling off of a duck’s back. One of his less endearing qualities in, Allison’s eyes. But, just as she asked herself all the time, ‘what could she ever hope to accomplish by arguing with an old stick-in-the-mud like, Jarvis anyway?’ All she had to do was keep the mouse out of sight for a few days and, Bob’s your Uncle, they’d be in New York and it would be irrelevant.
On the evening of April 14, Allison’s parents returned to their suite five minutes past eleven o’clock. They were in their usual state of inebriation and feeling boisterous in their cups. Behind them came a crowd of their upper crust “friends” from the salon and they were in the mood to party. They sent Allison to bed and called for Jarvis to bring a round of drinks.
Meanwhile, the mouse wended his way down through Titanic and to the lower decks where the third class passengers were having an impromptu celebration of their own. Unable to join in the fun, he sat there watching, mute but filled with a sense of longing he would never understand.
He swayed to and fro in time with the music which was also something to which the mouse was unaccustomed, but he knew liked it. There were couples dancing up a storm in the confined spaces of the lower staterooms and everyone was laughing and singing so joyfully that it began to make his little heart fill with longing again.
He took one final look at the festivities and then walked away. He made his way carefully down to his bedroom, such as it was, and curled up in his bed. Within minutes the mouse was fast asleep and dreaming those sweet dreams the lost can only dream of. Meanwhile, high above him on Titanic’s foremast the two men standing watch in the Crowsnest noted the time was 11: 35 P.M.
Titanic’s destination would have to wait forever because her destiny was waiting for her five minutes, full-steam, ahead. The mouse slept peacefully for the first time in his life below while the watchmen strained their eyes through binoculars at a flat-calm sea. By the time they did spot the iceberg, it was dead ahead and coming on fast. The call went out to the bridge and the First Mate ordered all stop, full reverse to port in a vain attempt to avoid the collision. But Titanic was never meant to be maneuverable, she was built for speed.
As the iceberg raked down the mighty ship’s side, ice sliced through riveted steel plates like they were made of wood. A report came into the bridge from down below. The iceberg had breeched Titanic’s hull and water was pouring in through the breaches faster than they could pump it out again. The first Mate closed all the watertight doors below decks and Titanic’s compartments began to fill.
The first passenger to die that night was sleeping like a baby beside the hull where the worst of the damage was felt. The shock of the impact knocked him from his bed but before the mouse could gather his wits about him a 6-inch steel pipe was ripped away from its hanger above his bed. The mouse died instantly as 1200 PSI of live steam scalded him ending his sad story as abruptly and violently as it had begun 12 years before on the Lucky Star.
As the ice cold Atlantic filled his home his burned body was tossed around the steel-sided room like a rag doll. Above him, Titanic’s passengers were unaware that 1,517 of them were going to die.
Belfast, Ireland. April 16, 1912.
Two wharf rats stare at a discarded newspaper whose headlines read, “GOD WINS BET! TITANIC LOST!” The two crud encrusted mud hens looked at one another in silence for a moment before one orphan asked the other. “Wasn’t The Mouse on Titanic?”
“Yes, he was, Mate.” the younger wharf rat replied, tears falling unbidden from his eyes. They scarcely ran down his muddy face before vanishing into the dirt on his 7-year-old cheeks. Wiping the tears away with a filthy rag, he sobbed wishfully,
You probably best know me as a football coach, most notably as Notre Dame’s football coach for eight years. In fact, I was the only college football coach to lead six different programs to bowl games.
I am very proud of my career as a coach, but my military service is often overlooked. Like my father before me, I am proud to have had the wonderful opportunity to serve in our military. During WWII, my father was at Midway, Iwo Jima, and all the major battles in the Pacific. My father didn’t like to talk about his service, and it was only later in life when I learned about his time at war, but that was his duty.
Duty was one reason why I served as an Army Field Artillery Officer. My time in the military provided me with many learning experiences and instilled lessons that I have passed on to my players during my 44 years as a coach.
I love getting the opportunity to meet our military service members. I do this because of the sacrifice THEY are making and its fun because they don’t keep score. You and I can live a free life and have freedom of choices and sleep safely and not worry about our families because of the sacrifices our armed services make.
I love this country. I love our way of life and I love our freedom. But we must have brave men and woman who are willing to defend it. We MUST honor those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation.
This is one reason why I’m excited to help out the American Veterans Center’s National Memorial Day Parade. In fact, I’ve already made a gift to help support the parade this year, and I hope you will too.
It was a great honor for me to be asked to serve as a Marshal in this year’s Parade. I am looking forward to honoring the memory of those who have made the supreme sacrifice in the service of our country.
This is unlike any other parade you will ever see – it is the largest Memorial Day Parade in the country! More than 300,000 people line Constitution Ave. in Washington, D.C. to watch the Parade and it is televised to 100 million homes around the country.
However, the National Memorial Day Parade must pay nearly $100,000 in security and permit fees to Washington, D.C. and the federal governments. Total costs exceed half-million dollars.
Lack of funding and exorbitant fees are two of main reasons this will be likely be the last year for Rolling Thunder, the largest one-day event in the world.
It’s a tough hill to climb for the good folks at the National Memorial Day Parade. Jim Roberts and his VERY small staff are trying their best to ensure this important event continues.
There are 5,000 people marching in the Parade and nearly all of them are marching for a military service member they know or loved that they lost. Those loved ones are not ordinary and we as a nation must always remember them.
The mission of the American Veterans Center and the World War II Veterans Committee is to preserve and promote the legacy and experiences of America’s veterans and active duty service personnel from World War II through today. A non-profit educational organization, the AVC and WWIIVC are funded solely through generous contributions from people like you. The AVC is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. All contributions are tax-deductible.
Author’s note. I am going to publish this revision now just as it is. But this is not how I wrote it or how it was laid out originally. When I inserted the lead image in this article just now every picture in it changed to that which you see now. Except for the one above this paragraph. If you follow the link to the original article in Vegas Valley News you will see the original form and the photographs that were changed somehow. This has never happened before to my knowledge. Praise God.
Greetings sports fans and welcome to my second Easter Sunday morning edition of Vegas Valley Sports Beat. The little column that is not perfect just forgiven and saved by grace. I know that I am only alive by the Grace of God and not sleeping out in the rain even if I have to crash on a friend’s living room floor. I’ve slept in the pouring rain and I’ve slept with my head on a pillow made of concrete and stone. I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop and I’m almost home though.
Let us turn our attention to world news now, and the eight, or more, bombs that went of this morning during the Easter Sunday Mass in Sri Lanka. The bombing attacks on 8 different churches and tourist hotels in Sri Lanka is just foul. The last report I saw said 207 persons were dead and at least 450 are reported injured in the Easter Morning attacks that were obviously planned coordinated and carried out by a large number of people. Why seems obvious enough. Sri Lankan authorities have imposed an island-wide curfew while first responders and emergency personnel try to get things sorted out. While The Spectator Index posted this on social media.More The Spectator Index @spectatorindex
BREAKING: Sri Lanka declares nationwide curfew that begins in three hours2:20 AM – 21 Apr 2019
People are of course in shock all over the world as the news travels around the world at the speed of light in the 21st century. Comments have ranged from, “someone please tell me what is going on?” to calls for peace and prayers for those killed, hurt and dying.So far no person or group has claimed responsibility for the 6 coordinated blasts set off at 8:45 am in 6 different churches. Hemasiri Fernando the Defense Secretary said just after the attacks that some of the explosions were the result of suicide bombers going off.
Reports state that the Sri Lanka Government has received threats against churches recently but the warnings said nothing about targeting hotels too. Ruwan Gunasekera stated that at least 30 foreigners were among the victims that were killed.
Ruwan Wijewardene, Sri Lanka’s Information Minister told the press that those who are responsible for the blasts have been identified and claims that seven people have been detained by police as of this time. He stated the social media platforms like Whatsapp and Facebook would not be available for the public.
The luxury hotels Kingsbury, Shangri-La, and the Cinnamon Grand were named as targets of the bombings. It is expected that the majority of foreign tourists killed were staying at those establishments. All Easter services and Mass have been canceled according to the Catholic Diocese in, Columbo, and the Minister of Education announced that schools scheduled to reopen Monday are to remain closed through Wednesday.
In all of the history of Civil War Sri Lanka has seen in the past 26 years the nation’s small Catholic/Christian population has been relatively untouched by the 100,000 people who died during that time. Sri Lanka is 70% Buddhist, 12% are Hindu and 10% are Muslim 6.5% are Catholic It is abhorrent to any right-thinking person to bomb a church for any reason.
It pretty much follows that the Notre Dame fire will be looked at sideways by a lot of the same people who have been looking at it as a deliberate act of terrorism all along. Even while the world-famous Notre Dame Spire fell in Paris, and hundreds of firefighters fought desperately to save the tower housing the massive 30-ton bell, conspiracy theories were circling the globe. and many tried to incite others to think that way.
Several days later this was still going on even while it was being reported in the press that the fire was caused by a wiring glitch or construction accident. This, however; was no accident and this is not good at all. That much is certain. But a violent reaction must be avoided at all costs by Christian church leaders and their parishioners. The battle has been joined and the fight belongs to God who said, “I will fight for you. Be still and know that I am the Lord thy God.” I cannot erase the image of a statue of Christ I saw that was splattered with the blood of innocent’s in God’s house. It is unlikely anyone else who saw it will either but, “Vengeance is Mine,” sayeth the Lord.
Jesus Christ told us that if they tore down the Temple He would rebuild it in 3 days and He kept his Word. A church is a sanctuary and a place of worship but Jesus Christ is the Church of God. Not Notre Dame or any other church. It’s downright insane for people who hate Christians to think that simply blowing up one church, or even a thousand churches, will accomplish anything.
Is it meant to strike fear and doubts about one’s religion into the hearts of the weak and the vulnerable? Yes. But why do they look in buildings for Christ and for God’s church, when we know that our Redeemer lives? The church they are searching for is Jesus Christ Himself, and He has Risen. He is Risen indeed.
There must be a peaceful outcome to all this before it gets out of hand. There has to be a way of resolving it without further violence and bloodshed. We have no religion as Christians. We follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and we try only to love our neighbors and do as Jesus would have us do so we don’t go to Hell. So there’s no reason for hatred against Christians and no Christian should return hate for hate or demand an eye for an eye because that is exactly what they want is for the “Infidels” to abandon the Word of God at the drop of a grenade pin.
No Christian should allow themselves to be drawn into that trap. No Christian should take part in any kind of hate speech, or show up to support live streaming hatred, or pass it along on social media sites. Instead, we must rebuild those damaged churches and repair the rift that has been blown open by this despicable act and stand in solidarity with He who died for us and who will fight this battle for us. This He has promised and His promises are faithful.
The purpose of a terrorist is to get a reaction from the target. To demoralize them and make them question their faith. If they want the churches that bad then I say burn them all down to the foundation and still the foundation remains. The keystone of Christianity is Christ Jesus, not a building made of wood, bricks, and mortar.
I would rather sit under a tree in the park on a Sunday morning and hear the word of God or congregate in the street than to allow some fool to think that destroying the church of Christ is that simple. Wherever two or more of you are gathered in His name He is there with you. That is the church of Christ and it will never be destroyed by anyone.
What man can stand up to an Archangel and do battle with Michael or Gabriel? You? Your brother-in-law who talks tough? The Incredible Hulk? Superman? You might do mighty works in the sight of God but can you make the sun wink out? Can you stop the rain from falling, turn the tide away, or hold back the Northwind?
It has been foretold for centuries that this would happen one day and the day has come. Putting on the armor of God does not mean we are to go out and do battle with other faiths or other gods but that we as Christians stand fast in our faith shielded from the enemy by the Word of God. The first commandment is Thou shalt not kill. This commandment does not, like the laws of men often do, carry a proviso that says, except… It says Thou Shalt NOT Kill. Period. Any man who hates his neighbor is guilty of murder in the eyes of God and nobody with blood on their hands shall enter the kingdom of Heaven. It’s that simple and God said so. There are no exceptions.
The Shangri La hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 21, Photographer: Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
If you take up the battle cry and spread hatred for this or for any reason then you are no better than the enemies of God. It is He alone who stands against them and against whom those enemies have no hope of victory. If you wish to damn your enemies then do so by turning the other cheek and praying for them, thereby heaping burning coals upon their heads. It’s a crying shame that it has come to this point but we knew all along it was inevitable and now it is upon us like it or not. What they do is on them. How Christians react to it is on them as well and God will not forgive anyone who kills in His name.
I believe that the fire at Notre Dame may have been an accident. It is not world news if my house burns down nor does it suggest that it burned due to arson. Given the age of the cathedral and the ancient “forest” of the roof structure itself, it is hardly surprising that it went up as it did. In fact, it was to be expected in the event of an accidental fire. Showing unclear videos of people walking around on the roof and flashing lights proves nothing except that the person who posted them has some unholy agenda to pursue that they want to drag you into to support their own need to hate and give it justification. There is no justification for religion-based hatred and jumping to such conclusions is the surest shortcut to Hell.
Be angry as you should. Be outraged, as well you should be. Be disgusted, shocked, and horrified, as I am. Be whatever floats your boat. Speaking as an ordained minister of God, you should be overjoyed that these people, whoever did this, have ensured the day of the Lord is at hand. But don’t you dare pick up a single stone with the name of Jesus Christ in your mouth and throw it lest you be numbered among the goats in the end. Hold your peace and faith in God but don’t play the terrorist’s game and don’t even pretend to defend God in a battle that He has told you is His from the start.
If you really want to pull the rug right out from under a terrorist and hurt their feelings all you have to do is act like it doesn’t matter no matter what they do or how hard they try. Laugh at their foolishness as they hop about like grasshoppers and brazenly challenge God to a fight. Compared to Armageddon the bombing of a few churches amounts to nothing in the grand scheme of things, does it? Do you not know? Have you not been told all of this would come to pass since the beginning of time? Don’t play their game. Their fight is with God and the battle has been joined. Even so, let it be. Amen.
An emergency meeting of the National Security Council has been called to begin the investigation into those responsible for the attacks.