A Day In The Life of a Writer 

 

coffeecup

The rain beats furiously against the window, interrupting a restful, dream-filled sleep, in which I am floating in a sea of acceptance slips, signing book contracts, and arranging to fly to California for the Letterman show. The menacing buzz of the radio alarm clock goes off every ten minutes, the exact time it takes to drift back to sleep. At 7 A.M., there is no good reason to be awake. I don’t have to attend school; nor do I have to leave for work, a bone of contention among those in my family who fervently believe that I should make them a hot breakfast before sending them out into the real world.

Misery, the fifteen-year-old dog who has lived up to her name, lays her large, shaggy head on my pillow, and pants morning breath into my face. The bluish glare of her cataract-coated eyes warns me that she will not be held accountable for what may happen if I don’t let her outside immediately; a realistic deterrent to further lazing in bed.

By 8 a.m., the house is quiet once again. Even the pounding rain has tapered to a fine drizzle. My four-year-old grandson Ian, dropped off by my daughter, walks into the kitchen to announce that he is “here”, as his eleven-month-old brother, Jesse, babbles nonsense from the playpen. The baby’s voice has the penetration of a well-known grease-cutter.

It’s Monday morning and another non-work week is about to begin, during which time I will babysit two lovable, but precocious boys, run business inventories on two computers, manage a three story home, do freelance writing and count my blessings that I don’t have to go to work.

By the time I gulp two cups of coffee, and complete three fourths of The New York Times Crossword Puzzle, Jesse’s insistent soprano voice is reaching high C. I consider doing a warm, grandmotherly article on minding toddlers, but when Jesse leans over the playpen and spits up on the dog, my enthusiasm wanes.

The next hour consists of what my “new age” daughter calls creative playtime. That translates into letting the children do whatever they please. I am as modern as the next person, but after Ian poster paints the white Formica countertop in black stripes, insisting it’s his pet zebra, free expression ends. Jesse’s creativity is limited to the realization that his diaper is detachable, presenting endless possibilities. By noon, I’ve put the house back together, made lunch for the boys, driven Ian to nursery school, and tucked the pit baby (so nicknamed for his tenacious grip on breakables) into bed for his one treasured nap.

Two hours later, I’ve compiled inventory, mailed overdue bills, and sent manuscripts off to the literary meat market, while the Apple works its internal magic with the numbers I’ve posted into it. I’ve hung up three times on a telephone computer robot, who wants to know my vital statistics, and tried to convince another telemarketer that I did not want to win a cruise to Tahiti.

While the Apple is printing out evaluation reports, I type a short story into the Dell, inspired by the momentary peace and solitude. Engrossed in my work, I don’t realize that Ian has been dropped off from nursery school, until he plops a hideous (I never said that) green lump of clay sculpture on my keyboard. Seven pages of manuscript disappear, lost forever in that mysterious story-eating gray box–just when Mary was lusting after John.

The type of calmness that sometimes precedes insanity washes over me. I make Ian a healthy snack, and even manage to tell him how much I missed him.

“You didn’t miss me, Grandma,” he says. “You’re the one who took me there and left me.”

I’m tempted to say, “You’re right,” but I hug him instead. Ian settles in for some violent cartoons, and the siren-like wail of the pit baby marks the end of creative writing.

The teenager, made into an only child by the absence of five grown brothers and sisters, storms into the house. She throws her books on the table, raids the refrigerator, and gives me a twenty minute discourse on her first day of high school; heavy on boys, light on scholastics. She informs me  that much as she would love to watch her nephews for me, she must get to the Mall at once. Owning only four new outfits, she doesn’t want to repeat herself in a five-day school week. Everyone (related to the infamous “they”) will notice.

By now it’s 4 P.M., and my manuscripts are still in the mailbox, soggy from the misty rain. The mail carrier, over five hours late, neither knows, nor cares that I wait anxiously each day for acceptance/rejection slips. An hour later, I spot him running down the street, new on the job and obviously frightened. Misery, in a rare moment of bravado, must have given him a toothless, raspy snarl, for now the mail dropped in haste on the unprotected porch stoop is as wet as the outgoing mail. It’s mostly brown envelopes, signifying returned manuscripts, and I’m in no mood for rejection. I’ll open them later.

As Jesse methodically empties all the kitchen cabinets and drawers, I concoct a simple dinner of chili with beans and brown bread. Dining with small children will either cause compulsive eating or pseudo anorexia. Ian detests all healthy food, and Jesse concentrates on feeding his supper to Misery, whose sense of smell has deteriorated to the point where she indiscriminately devours scraps of bread and shredded napkins.

The last hour before my daughter comes to collect her sons is spent re-stocking the cabinets, brushing crumbs out of the dog’s eyes, picking up the fifty or more toys that Jesse has hurled from his playpen, and bathing the boys. Ian has an inborn aversion to having his hair washed, and Jesse likes to scuba-dive, giving me heart failure and more gray hair. By the time their bath is completed, the bathroom is under water and smells like wet dog. Misery, in her senility, refuses to relinquish her spot on the soft rug next to the bathtub.

Their mother arrives and asks the same daily question, “Were they good?” I give the same answer, “Perfect!”, and she carts them off to her car. I am alone; at least for another twenty minutes when the breadwinner comes home. My husband walks in the door with that “don’t even ask me about my day,” look on his face, and heads for his recliner. The pile of damp, warped mail catches his eye, and he rummages through it.

“Hey, I think you might have sold something,” he says. “Don’t you want to open it?”

I move in slow-motion, back pain radiating down my legs from constantly plucking Jesse off the staircase, and listlessly open the SASE. (self-addressed stamped envelope)

“Look at that,” my husband says, glancing over my shoulder. “You just sold another article, made $100.00, and you never had to leave the house.” He grabs his paper and settles into his chair with the martyred look of a man who has battled rain, fog, and bumper to bumper traffic to provide for a wife who sits home and nonchalantly collects honorariums and checks. I hate that look. After a full ten minutes of savoring my sale, I trudge back to the Dell, free to write for three more hours. But by now Mary is no longer lusting after John.

 

Bio: Micki Peluso writes humorous slice of life stories based mostly on her family and friends. No lawsuits yet but she has been removed from several wills. These stories, published in various newspapers and magazines led to her first non-fiction story, . . .And the Whippoorwill Sang, and will be published in 2015 in a collection called, “Don’t Pluck the Duck.”

https://pixabay.com/go/?t=list-shutterstock&id=111044285

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on Reddit

Movie Kisses

blog photo

For me personally, everything is on a kiss.

Anna Friel, Actress

There is nothing better than a good movie or TV kiss…if it’s done right. In my opinion, the perfect ones are about timing, emotion, risk, and repercussions, all of which impact the plot. I’m definitely a connoisseur and have actually recorded a DVD of my favorite lip locks. My granddaughter and I have been known to video perfect kisses and text them to each other. Obviously, we’re both hopeless romantics.

Below is list of my top five flawless kisses as seen on the big or small screen. (I’d be blogging for weeks if I tried to list them all.) These scenes are all on YouTube, by the way, so if you’re curious, check them out.

  1. Catching Fire

If you’re familiar with the Hunger Games movies, you probably know where I’m going, but here’s a brief set up. The time is post apocalyptic, and the USA aka Panem is under the control of President Snow, who demands that two unlucky participants from every district compete in vicious, to-the-death games. Their purpose is to entertain the rich while reminding the oppressed who is in control. At the end of the competition, Catniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark cleverly threaten a double suicide at a point when one should kill the other and be declared winner. The crowd goes wild, of course–young love, ill-fated romance. Although Catniss is in love with someone else, she and Peeta must keep up the charade. In retaliation for their beating the system, President Snow hosts another game in which all previous winners will compete against each other. Catniss is not popular with the other champions even though some of them mysteriously align with her and Peeta. They think she is faking it, probably because she is. Peeta, however, is not. He has loved her forever.

The perfect kiss comes when Peeta runs into a force field and is killed. While another contestant in their alliance of four does CPR, Catniss basically freaks out. Peeta is revived. She swoops in and gives him a kiss from the heart—one that is instinctual, passionate, and honest. Their companions realize that Catniss really loves Peeta. And the best part? Catniss and Peeta realize it, too. Perfect.

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2

This is the seventh and last installment in the Harry Potter movies. By now, we know that Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley are in love, though they keep the romance low-key. Their world is literally crashing around them as Hogwarts is bombarded with evil spells and invaded by giants, spiders, Deatheaters, and Dementors (soul suckers). In the middle of the chaos, Ginny and Harry see each other and share a split-second kiss before they each race off in a different direction to continue fighting the evil. We see their love; we see their courage; we see their priorities. We realize in that moment that doing the right thing means great personal sacrifice. Perfect.

  1. The Saint

Brief setup: Simon Templar is a thief trying to reach 50 million dollars in his bank account so he can move on. Dr. Emma Russell is an introverted, slightly eccentric scientist who has almost conquered cold fusion. She keeps her equations on small cards and is constantly working to rearrange them and get the sequencing down, the final step to free fuel for everyone.

Simon’s next assignment? Steal the formula so that someone will get very rich selling instead of giving it the world. He’s ruthless. She’s too inexperienced to see it. From the moment he begins his tailor-made seduction, her wide-open heart works a miracle in him. And by the time she knows his truth, they’re both in deep, inconvenient love.

What’s most wonderful about their kisses, especially after they’ve bared their souls to each other, is that they’re always smiling or laughing as their lips touch. And the final kiss in the movie is the best of them all because she knows she has him and he honestly doesn’t mind. She has all the self-confidence in the world. He’s found his heart and changed his ways.  Perfect.

  1. “Bones”

Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan is a forensic pathologist. Former sniper Seeley Booth is an FBI agent. They work together to solve murders. Over the course of the series (which just ended its tenth season), the two of them fall in love and marry. When they’re together at the FBI headquarters, they maintain a strict professional façade. In fact, someone who didn’t know them would never guess they’re in love.

In an episode in season six, there’s some very bad stuff going down. Bones is being threatened by a serial killer; Booth is struggling to concentrate on the job he has to do. They are talking in the hall at the FBI offices when he suddenly catches her in his arms and kisses her like there’s no tomorrow (which is a possibility). Of course she kisses him back. We see his rebellion and determination, with a dash of fear. We see her confidence in her guy. The FBI sees two people very much in love. Perfect.

  1. The Lake House

Kate Forster, a doctor, lives in a beautiful house on the lake. Alex Wyler, the architect who built the house, lives there, too. The problem? They’re two years apart in time and communicate via letters they put in the mailbox. Though they brush shoulders a time or two in person, it’s as strangers. Does this make sense? Not really, but as we watch these two lonely people fall in love via their letters, we easily accept that glitch in time and desperately want them to find a way to bridge it.

The kiss comes at the end of the movie. Kate learns that the reason the lake house was available to rent is because the former owner (Alex) died in a horrible accident. Can she save him if she warns him? She puts a letter in the box begging him to stay away from the accident site, wait two years, and come to her at the lake house. Will it work?

As she huddles by the mailbox, hoping with all her heart, the red flag on it goes down, and the door opens and shuts. Does he have the letter? Will he come? We hear a pickup truck approaching. Alex gets out of it and walks to her. She says, “You waited.” He swoops in for a kiss that reveals how long two years can be, how much they love each other, and how joyful their forever after is going to be. Perfect.

 

Linda Palmer has been a shameless romantic for as long as she can remember. Her first crush was on Roy Rogers, with Flash Gordon, Robin Hood, and Zorro right behind, all of them way too old for her. She began writing for pleasure in the third grade and has letters from her teachers predicting she’d be an author. Though that was never actually a dream, it was something she did naturally and eventually with intent. Silhouette Books published Linda’s first novel in l989 and the next twenty over a ten year period (writing as Linda Varner, her maiden name). In 1999 she took a break to take care of her growing family. She learned that she couldn’t not write, however, and began again, changing her genre to young adult/new adult/adult paranormal romance, written under her married name. Linda now has a lot of novels and novellas available as ebooks and in print. As for those hero crushes, she admits she still has them, but now they’re all too young for her. Her website is www.lindavpalmer.com. Facebook her: Linda Varner Palmer. Twitter @ lvarnerpalmer.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on Reddit

The Proverbial Shoe of Life by Louise Malbon-Reddix

a

Finding that harmony in your life, with your own self-balancing of all the components of just you–mind, body and spirit–on any given day is an amazing architectural feat.

At times the heart wants to win and at others, the mind wants to win.  Usually, the heart wins out and off one goes.  Never mind that reason and rhyme do not match, that heart will often fly by the seat of its pants!  The truth within us all is that we desire health, abundance, security, love, peace and happiness.

What then, when life shows you its proverbial shoe?  We all know that at any given point in life, that proverbial shoe can and does show up. It can be a terrible accident of any kind; in a car, plane or on a bike.  Perhaps it will be a tree falling on a roof, or a slip in the bathroom.  Possibly even a turn down a on way street or God forbid as has been in the news of late, a child left in a hot car to die all alone! Or, as in my own case, the unexpected death of a loved one.

Bammm!!!! Just like that and all you see in your face is the leather on the bottom of that proverbial shoe of life, just waiting to step on you and crush you. And not only you, but your hopes and your dreams and your life’s work and anything else it can lay it’s claim too.

What will you do, where will you go? Or maybe the question is, is it even worth the effort? Clearly, the man in this picture has his hands up in the pose of surrender.  And for sure in that moment when that proverbial shoe first raises it’s foot, the surrender is an appropriate reaction.  For sure that is a picture of the first phase of  grief and loss. It is simply numbed disbelief. Shock and horror is another way to say the same thing.  A way to protect oneself from being overwhelmed all at once.   I say, let us take a moment and consider the alternatives.  The picture itself gives us that chance.  The shoe has not crushed the man totally.

It is here that I want to offer you some words from that great poet, Maya Angelou; “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings –  But a caged BIRD stands on the grave of dreams. His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream.  His wings are clipped and his feet are tied. So he opens his throat to sing.  The caged BIRD sings with a fearful trill of things unknown, but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill.  For the caged Bird sings of freedom.” Or perhaps, some of the lyrics from Lynn Anderson’s song, “Rose Garden – So smile for a while and let’s be jolly, life shouldn’t be so melancholy, come along and share the good times while we can.  I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.”

We too can take a lesson here from the life of a dog that is bred for fighting.  The roughest part about being a fighting dog is the time between the fights. They are often, just left alone with heavy collars attached to chains. And that is as far as they can go, to the end of that chain. Yes, just like that man sitting there looking up at that proverbial shoe getting ready to drop right into his life. Sitting there at his wits end, not knowing just what to do.  Once he had a dream and a life and was doing just fine.

One has to admit, that when calamity shows its nasty face, for sure all one can do is sit there and stare at it.  And for sure, we are only human beings. The mind can only take in so much at a time.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned earlier in that architectural feat of balancing all of the components of just you–mind, body and spirit–was the will. And yes, we all do have free will.  Free will has been described as a philosophical term for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives.  Free will to seems to be a condition on desert for one’s accomplishments–a sustained effort of creativity to complete a work.  Free will then is your autonomy and your dignity!  The main perceived threats to that freedom and will are determinations that may be physical/causal; psychological; biological; and theological–alias, the proverbial shoe.

In the face of any situation then all one needs is a desire for change.  A ray of hope! Perhaps in the form of a repurpose.  Even the shoe in the picture shows us some hope.  Some of the sole is worn for sure, but it has a metal piece on the tip of the shoe for protection and reinforcement.  That part of the sole with no scratches on it shows that even though worn in some places it is still shiny and new and it has a heel on it to protect it too.

So what will it take for you when calamity and danger strike to repurpose or rebuild and restart?  For sure you will need time to process what is happening and go through the whole grief process.  But after that, then what? For sure that proverbial foot is/was there, but you do not have to let it leave a lasting footprint in your life.  Will you accept a lesser quality to your life, or will you repurpose.

Hang on to your memories!  Laugh with the babies. One step at a time. And yes, I have another song that has helped me in all through my life, and I want to share that with you too! When You Walk Through a Storm–When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high.  And don’t be afraid of the dark. At the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark.  Walk on, through the wind.  Walk on through the rain.  Though your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone! You’ll never walk alone!” Mahalia Jackson singing it or Elvis Presley, it doesn’t matter. Tears hit first, than the inspiration to do just as the song says, Walk On, proverbial shoe never the matter.  “You never stood in that man’s shoes or saw things through his eyes, or stood  and watched with helpless hands while the heart inside of you dies. So help your brother along the way, no matter where he starts for the same God that made you made him too.”  Elvis Presley.  Link to Youtube video  https://youtu.be/8H9T7427EbI

That will thing, Whitney Houston describes it very well in her song, The Greatest Love Of All.  “I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadow.  If I fail, if I succeed, at least I lived as I believe.  No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity! Because the greatest love of all is happening to me.  I found the greatest love of all inside of me. The greatest love of all is easy to achieve.  Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all”

And that my friends is what I hope I have done, given you a little hope and inspiration to get through whatever the proverbial shoe has brought into your life. Do not let it leave a footprint!

 

 

Louise Malbon-Reddix is the Author of  Stand In Your Anointment – This Too Shall Pass  Trailerhttp://youtu.be/WfOUVQFaxU0

Available on Amazon.com. Follow her on Twitter @louisereddix

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on Reddit

THE TRUTH ABOUT MERCURY RETROGRADE

Aug 22 Hazel

Your computer fries. Your flight gets canceled. Your check is in the mail, but on its way to Brazil. Welcome to the havoc of Mercury retrograde. Although the next time this little troublemaker begins to moonwalk through the sky isn’t until October, now is a good time to learn some hidden benefits of these retrograde periods.

The Romans didn’t call Mercury the Trickster just for fun. Even if you barely know your Sun sign, I’ll bet you think you know plenty about retrograde, and it’s all rotten. Your horoscope says not to sign anything, your ex wants to crawl back in your bed, and you feel like locking the door and phoning it in. Oops, can’t do that. Your cell’s battery is dead. For years, I’ve watched the phenomenon of retro-fever grow. Rational adults start acting like superstitious cave dwellers and blame Mercury for everything that goes wrong. Today, you can even get a phone app that “warns” you of a retrograde period.

Three times each year, for about three weeks each time, Mercury appears to reverse its orbit around the Sun. Of course, no planet changes direction. Mercury’s closer to the Sun, and its orbit is smaller and faster than the Earth’s. Each time they pass each other, Mercury seems to move backward. It’s an optical illusion like when the rims on a car appear to spin backward even though it’s moving forward.

Although the impression of backpedaling through the sky is a mirage, the effects are mind-melting. When the Universe’s social butterfly flits out of sight, everything disconnects. You not only forget where you parked the car, you forget that you were supposed to get the slow leak in the radiator fixed, and the engine grinds to a smoking halt in the middle of rush hour. The boss hands you back the report you handed her. You didn’t spell-check it in your rush to get out the door to meet a long-lost friend for lunch.

However, it isn’t a coincidence that your old pal called during Mercury retrograde. The odds are just as great that something good will happen. My best friend used to panic until I reminded her that more often than not she receives money or finds a new client when Mercury is retro. Many Fortune 500 companies were started during a retro period. Goodyear. Disney. General Motors. Boeing. Does that mean you can sign mortgage papers on your new home? Sure. Don’t rush, and read the fine print.

A good way to think about Mercury retrograde is to think of words that begin with “re.” Revise. Reconsider. Remind. Repair. Relax. Mercury rules telecommunication and electronics. He also governs your personal adaptability, memory, and language. During retrograde periods these mental processes slow down. You make a mistake. The good news is that it’s more likely to be caught and fixed. You feel more like daydreaming than working. Great. Make time to do something creative. Write down your ideas because it’s almost guaranteed that you won’t remember them once Mercury’s whizzing forward again. These are good periods of time to schedule long weekends or a vacation. Just make sure that you communicate slowly and clearly with the travel agent or reservations clerk. No matter what you do during a retrograde period, it’s always best to ask questions, and keep asking until you understand the answers.

During a retrograde, Mercury turns his auto-pilot switch off and forces you to pay attention. He changes your impressions and the way you process information. He tosses the mix-ups and miscommunications around so that you learn how to be flexible. You may hate the changes, foul-ups, and déjà vu atmosphere. He’s fine-tuning your perception. Did your computer just quit, or did it stop working because you haven’t upgraded it in five years? Was it Mercury’s fault you forgot to get your car repaired? Or did you keep putting it off?

Ever hear of the self-fulfilling prophecy? If you expect the worst, the worst will happen. When you expect Mercury to mess with your life, he will. If you expect Mercury to send you second chances and help you take charge of your life, he’ll do that too.

The power of Mercury retrograde is that it gives you a chance to reclaim a hidden strength or recall a forgotten idea. You can receive an unexpected gift, hear from a long-lost friend, or find that pair of earrings you misplaced. You can figure out someone’s motives, straighten out a misunderstanding, and rework a plan. Retrograde is a good time to recover your emotional balance, or make someone an offer they can’t refuse. Yes, foul-ups happen. However, you can lessen the impact if you work with the slower energy.

Here are ten tips to help you maximize the positive side of Mercury retrograde:

  • Use your intuition. It’s easier to turn off the chatter in your brain under a retrograde.
  • Think about how you feel. Don’t auto-answer, “fine,” when someone asks, “How are you?”
  • Speak the truth. You don’t have to get nasty about it, but Mercury retros are great at bringing up old issues so you can finally resolve them.
  • Re-examine an important decision. Do you really want to elope with the guy you met at the neighborhood bar a month ago? Can you afford that 96-inch flat screen and 1000-channel cable package?
  • Dump a bad habit. Start a good one.
  • Make a repair list. Walk through your home and assess what needs to be fixed.
  • Pay attention to your body. Do you need a check-up? Schedule it.
  • Take a vacation. Whether it’s a long weekend or a seven-day getaway, the slow energy of Mercury retrograde is perfect for relaxing. Just be sure to double-check your reservations and allow extra travel time in case of delays.
  • Pause before you commit. You can get a little foggy-headed during a retro period. Don’t make a promise you’ll regret tomorrow.
  • Slow down. Take a break from the outside world and concentrate on knowing yourself a little better.

Now stop fearing Mercury retrograde and start making it work for you.

 

With the mouth of a Gemini, the soul of a Pisces, and an intuitive Aquarius Moon, Hazel Dixon-Cooper can nail anyone’s personality the moment she knows their birthday. She’s been an astrologer for more than twenty-five years and is the author of the internationally best-selling Rotten Day humorous astrology book series and a recently released book on Pluto, the planet of transformation.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on Reddit

That Thing with Feathers that Perches in the Soul by James L. Secor

 bridge strut

In my wandering, I came across a land that I shall call, for want of a better name, the Land of Waiting. It was, in truth, a fine day when I stumbled upon this country. However, I found that the weather was very changeable, for within no time the climate worsened and my way became clogged with expectation.

My road took me through a low-lying area that I could see had once been marshy. A flood plain had been shored up. I saw fine, tall green grass and strips of cultivated land. Still, I could hear the encroachment of the great river as it sloshed and slapped against the dike.

The road followed the river wall. As with all roads, I knew I’d come upon a collection of houses or even a village and, sure enough, around a particularly wide  bend in the river I saw a huddled mass of people. They were gathered at the edge of the road, gabbling amongst themselves and gesticulating at the flood plain. Something was bothering them. Upon drawing nearer, I could see the ground between the road and the dike glistening and undulating. When I drew nigh the crowd, I could see the river had breached the wall and was once again running onto the flood plain. The grass was now reeds and the crops were drowned or drowning. The hole in the retaining wall was not very large, though the passage of water was wearing it into a larger fissure. But the people weren’t doing anything. That is, nothing other than pointing and complaining. Each time the river water encroached on the road, the gaggle of people jumped back amid screams and hubbub, as if getting their feet wet was akin to courting death.

I stood off to one side and listened to the undulating voices, watched the retreat and recovery of the rabble. Then I stepped closer and spoke to an old woman on the fringe who was not quite so vocal as the others.

“What’s going on?” I asked, as if it weren’t obvious.

“The river’s breaking through the weir,” she answered without looking at me.

“Why is nobody doing anything?”

“What can they do?”

“Is it not possible to repair it?”

The woman turned and looked at me. “You’re not from around here, are you?”

“No. I’m just passing through.”

“Best keep on going then. River’s rising.”

“I was hoping to find a place for the night.”

“Oh, I don’t think that’s possible.”

“Oh.”

“Not that we’re not friendly, you understand. We’re just a little pre-occupied at the moment.”

“Yes. I see.”

“Yes. We’re being flooded out.”

It was true the roadway was becoming a tad muddied along its riverside border but there was no evidence of a flood.

“It’s inevitable,” she continued. “Like life and death.”

“But can’t you be rescued?”

“Nope. We’re done for.”

“The water’s not very deep. The hole can’t be that big.”

“Just one basket of earth shy,” she said with finality.

“Well, that could be remedied–”

“No it can’t.” And she looked at me again, full in the face. “Like I said, you’re not from these parts.”

“How could things come to such a pass!”

“Don’t go getting upset at what you don’t understand, young man.” She patted me absently on the shoulder. “Let me tell you how it is in these parts. Sense is hard to come by but mayhap you’ll understand anyway.” She didn’t say anything for a long time. Just as I began to fidget, she began her story. “We had to stop building. We ran out of dirt. One basket shy of a full load and there you have it. End of job. End of story. There’s nothing to be done about it.”

I looked around. “Seems like there’s enough dirt here,” I said.

“Seems like it, yes. But it isn’t so. It wasn’t requisitioned. Only that much,” she pointed with her chin, “was requisitioned and so that’s all there is.”

“Seems somebody made a mistake.”

“Yep.”

“I guess you could fix it, couldn’t you?”

“Like I said, you’re not from around here.”

I waited for more. When it didn’t come, I nudged her along. “Yes?”

“It’s fate, son. Fate. Destiny.” She chewed her gums a moment. “Pre-destination. Everything’s laid out according to plan, even people’s mistakes. It’d be the greatest pridefulness to think that you could do fate one better.” She chewed her gums some more. “Some things you just can’t change. Life is life. It’s inevitable.”

I stood silently watching the encroaching river water and the ruinization of crops and road and, perhaps, village. I looked at these people, gesticulating, gabbling and groveling before life, waiting helplessly for . . . for the end. The end for them being, of course, the end of all things. Fate.

I looked up at the darkening sky and thought I’d better be on my way. I couldn’t wait forever for food and lodging and there was a copse of trees up ahead. I could rest the night there. Yes. The inevitability of it all.

They had drawn a line in the sand and just waited for it to be crossed, at which time their world would end. There was nothing to be done. If I fixed the leak with rocks and sand and whatever was at hand, I’d be damned. Maybe even stoned to death. What would they have done with such a reprieve anyway–torn away their saving grace? Sad as it may be, I had to leave them to face their problem. Their fate.

You just can’t mend a sinking boat in the middle of a river.

A couple days later, just after passing the mouth of the river where it emptied peacefully into the ocean, I ran into another time marker. There were no retaining walls in this part of the country. The horizon was far and wide and the sky broad, albeit rather cloudy. There was not much wind, though, so the rags that hung helter-skelter on the near-skeleton lying on the side of the road remained limp and unmoving. Yellowed grass, dry and desiccated, grew around him–I could see it was a him. No insects or birds sang, though on and off crows would settle to ground and strut around inspecting the spectacle. Skin draped itself over pointy bones that threatened to poke through. Rubber boot-clad feet lay tilted, both to the same side. Fingernails were long and grimy. Hair hung tangled and dusty about a wizened face with jutting cheekbones, long sun-bleached teeth, lips pulled back in a grin or a grimace and protruding eyes.

I slowed my pace.

The big bulging white eyes with their pinpoint pupils followed me.

I stopped and held my breath.

“Hi,” croaked the near-carcass.

“Hi.” What else could I say?

“Betcha wonder why I’m here,” he rattled on.

I couldn’t see him breathe. The barely flesh-covered ribs that poked out from the remains of a shirt did not move.

“Do you need help?”

“No. No. I’m fine.”

“Well. That’s . . . good.”

“Yeah. Yeah. It is.”

I didn’t know what to do, so I stood there looking down at this replica of a man before the breath of life was blown into him.

“Yeah. I kinda look like death warmed over, right?” I did not feel I could say anything. “That’s ’cause I am.”

“Could I get you some water?”

“No. No. That’d defeat the purpose of living.”

“But you’re dying!”

“Yep. That’s true.”

Neither of us spoke for awhile. His eyes rolled around in his sockets like lopsided marbles.

“I’m here because I’m a fisherman,” he wheezed.

I looked out over the sea. It rose and fell and gently slapped the shore. There were no boats out there. There was no dock.

“Hey. I’m over here.” I turned back to him. “I caught a fish once. Big fish. I ran back here with it. House is all gone now. I was so happy. I caught this marvelous fish. I deserved my title. Fisherman. A time of celebration. Let the good times roll. It ended all too soon. Like everything in life. And so you see me here.”

“Why is that?”

“I forgot my fishing gear. So I lost my chance. Now it’s just the inevitable.”

“Couldn’t you get some more?”

I looked back the way I came. What was wrong with these people?

“Only one chance. I blew it. So long.” He let his eyes roll off to one side.

I did not move. I could not move. This poor man . . . lying there . . .

“Go on. I’m finished. Shoo. Shoo.”

So, I shuffled on down the road, befuddled at such behavior, behavior that defied reason. Was everybody in this country just sitting around waiting? Couldn’t anybody do anything? I felt sorry for them. I hurt for them. So wasteful.

I stopped in the middle of nowhere and looked back the way I’d come. I looked the other way. I had done this before, of course, wondering what was going on around me. Always at a cross-roads. Always coming and going at the same time. And what was my journey for? What was I looking to find? Even with all this travelling, I wondered whether, in fact, I, too, was just waiting for something to happen.

As I approached the northern border, I came upon a great river. There was no bridge over it that I could see but there was a sign that named it: The Great Divide River. It was quite broad and, though the water along the shore pooled and eddied playfully, out in the middle the water streamed by, occasionally splashing dirty sudsy-looking water over submerged rocks. On the far side of The Great Divide there was a group of people with placards. “CRISIS” and “HELP” and “SAVE OUR SOULS” and “DEATH STALKS US” and “SURCEASE PLEASE” and “BUDDY CAN YOU SPARE A DIME.” They were shouting and chanting but no one on my side of the river could hear over the rush of river water and distance. It was maybe a kilometer across. On this side of the river there was only me and a man in a hair shirt type of robe. A washed-out saffron sash sagged over one shoulder and wound its way around his body. He was bald. His arms were folded over his knees but every once in awhile he raised a hand and waved at the people on the other side. A gold ring glistened in the diffuse sun light.

“Hey!” I shouted. “What’s going on?”

The becassocked man stood up and turned toward me. He was wearing thick leather sandals. They looked new. Hanging from his neck was a large round medallion on what looked like a spun-gold brocade ribbon. Perched on his small button nose sat a pair of enormous glasses, encasing eyebrows, eyes and cheeks. He was smiling, a kind of benign, meant-generally-for-everybody smile. He waved at me–or at least, he raised his hand on high, revealing a gold watch on his fat wrist. From the way his gown hung, he was well-fed. What was he doing out here in the rocky wasteland of the northern border?

“They got problems!” he shouted back.

So I surmised.

“Are you doing anything about it?”

He cupped a hand around a large ear and cocked his head to one side. I obliged him by clambering over and around the rock-strewn riverside until I stood at the base of his stone pedestal. He smiled down at me, a silver tooth with a diamond in it gleaming. His glasses were Armani and his watch Rolex. He held out a well-manicured hand, pink and soft in my grip.

“I’m the Great Doylee the Lame.” I looked down at his clean feet. “It’s just a title. Don’t worry about it. What was that you said?”

“I just asked if you were helping in any way.”

“Well, yes. Of course I am. What do you think I’m doing out here?”

I looked over at the crowd across the way and back to him. Here he was, one man across a great expanse of hustling water–what is it he could do? One man and so very far removed from the action.

“Ah. I see. Have a seat, I’ll explain everything to you. I’ve got all day.”

The great gold-bedecked Doylee the Lame squatted on his haunches. I sat on the edge of the smooth boulder. It was warm despite the overcast, grey sky. It looked like rain.

Doylee the Lame raised both hands to the throng on the other side of The Great Divide and then crossed his arms over his knees.

“It’s a sad thing over there in West Rising Branch of Life. They are fighting for their lives, for their sovereign right to life. Everyone has a right to life, even a life filled with illusions and attachment.”

“Is their problem an illusory one?” I knew that people did get upset over perceived wrongs, striking out haphazardly in their delusion. Could it be that these people were, basically, protesting nothing?

“Oh, no. Their brutal domination is real enough,” he answered.

“Surely they did not bring it upon themselves.”

“No. No. For a fact I know, no. Though it is true that people can bring down the wrath of the gods on their heads seemingly out of nowhere but in reality due to their own dirty souls though they are unaware of their sin, maybe.” He spoke in a soft, compassionate, sing-song counter-tenor. “Maybe there are some there clinging to illusion but in general not.”

“You certainly know a lot about those people.”

“Yes. Yes. I do. They are my people. I know they are kind, decent, obedient, respectful people who know their place. Their place in the great scheme of things. They are good people, my people. Though, of course, there are always a few bad apples. No one knows where evil comes from but anyway it is an illusion as so much of life is, you know. My people are trained to look deep into themselves to see their weaknesses and attachments, their faults, for if there were no faults in them they would have no problems in the world.”

“Why do you call them my people?”

“Because that is what they are. My people. I am their leader.”

“But you are here and they are there!”

“Yes. So it seems. But you see I escaped the evil empire. Those who in their mad illusion spread lies and deceit and mete out death as if they were emissaries of the gods. I escaped. They helped me to run away so that I could continue to lead them and be an inspiration from a distance. A dead leader is no leader at all.”

“You can’t kill a martyr,” I countered.

“Seeking after martyrdom is earthly attachment. That kind of renown and hubris is a passing fancy, an illusion. To die by the sword runs counter to the doctrine of peace.”

“You believe in peace.”

“Why, yes. I have a medal to prove it.” He held up his gold heraldic device.

He placed the heavy ornament in my hand. It was a mighty chevron with a man-cameo and bend sinister and around the edge was engraved Pris de noblesse oblige de pièce de résistance. I turned it over. Emblème carte blanche was beveled into the gold.

“You must be proud,” I said, handing it back to him.

“Quite the contrary. I am humbled by the honor.”

“I have heard of this honor before. It comes with a bequest, does it not?”

“Yes indeed it does. I dedicate the money to the life of peace.”

“You are truly amazing.”

“Thank you. Glad you enjoy me.”

I looked over at the horde on the other side of The Great Divide River. They were becoming more animated, jerking their signs up and down. Still, they could not be heard.

“What are you doing for them?”

“I told them to protest non-violently but of course they didn’t.”

“Why not?”

The Great Doylee the Lame shrugged his shoulders. “You know people.”

“I cannot believe that you believe you are helping them–your people–sitting over here on a rock waving at them.”

“I’m not waving at them. I’m blessing them. The more blessing the better. And I am giving them moral support.”

“What?!”

“Yes. Moral support. The bulwark of the hope of the people.” He sighed. “And. . .I sent a statue of the Great God of Mercy, Abera Khardomumma Shaktiputakaka to them.”

“That will help?”

“Worshiping his likeness will bring the miracle of mercy, peace to the people.”

“How did you send it to them?” No one was powerful enough to throw anything one kilometre.

“I threw the clay idol into the river to let the water of life carry it to them.”

Just then there was a hullabaloo on the road. We turned. A large ox-cart with a roof and red interior stood in the middle of the road. Three men in robes were shouting at us.

“Ah. There is my ride. I must leave you now.”

And off he went. I followed him to the roadside. He mounted the cart and sat in the plush velvet interior and waved good-bye to me, the ever-present dazzling benign smile still on his face.

“Peace be with you.”

He did not offer me a ride. I was left, instead, to continue on my way in his dusty wake. More than once I choked and had to stop for coughing. It irked me that, to get out of the Country of Waiting I had to follow in the tracks of a self-proclaimed hero and leader of people.

Finally, I could take no more and stopped, moving off the road and onto the golden sands of the riverbank. The water rippled over rapids here, filling the air with a cool mist and peace settled around me.

 

Jimsecor spent much of his life traipsing all over the world. Rarely as a tourist. He was, too, a wandering scholar. All those cultures and histories inhabit his writing. So, too, does his social activism, born during the avant garde American theatre days. The absurdism of his theatre and the times have only deepened, colored by his travels. He has led many lives. He has published in three countries and three languages but to no financial success. But what else is there to do? Write, write, write. He writes by hand with an ink pen, a real fountain pen. He has many, many, many. And some “forever ink.” He can be found at Linkedin, at http://labelleotero.wordpress.com (named after and/or to honor me, Minna vander Pfaltz) and can be cursed or praised as you wish at hellecchino@eclipso.eu.  Jimsecor is also a Chicago Editing Specialist, though, actually, it was his teaching that kept him (us) afloat. For awhile.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on Reddit

Memories of Marcia

Fran & Sister

If you think that this article is going to evoke tears think again. My memories of my sister that I want to share with you I hope will make you smile, laugh or just plain feel the fun that we had being sisters. This story will make you understand just why my sister was so amazing, my best friend and had to invest in earplugs or a soundproof room.

I majored in music in college. I played both the violin and the piano and had to take other courses too. Keyboard harmony, transposition, strings, woodwinds and anything that involved the piano I really enjoyed. Opera and classical music having to be able to identify any part of a symphony, sonata or concerto when the professor dropped the needed on the record was really quite challenging but not s challenging as the two courses I dreaded the most: VOICE AND SIGHT SINGING! You have to understand I CANNOT SING! My sister on the other hand started in many musical productions such as Oklahoma, Carousel and the King and I to name few. She had a magnificent voice in the soprano range and she could dance like she was Ginger Rogers. Marcia was talented in all of these areas and I well let me explain.

At the end of the semester everyone had to prepare two programs to sing in front of all of the professors to determine how well you progressed. I progressed but not exactly the way they would like. I have perfect pitch in my head and can tell you if you are sharp or flat or off key. That’s in my head but when the notes come out and the words are sung it’s a whole other story. So, when I attempted to sing an Aria from Madame Butterfly I spoke the words quite well and refrained from torturing the audience. My professor agreed that I had this down pat but not exactly the right way so he agreed that I could create a program for the final that would make me shine in my own way.

You know how some call Help me Howard when they have a story to tell or others call Ghostbusters when they want to rid their homes of unwanted spirits I called Marcia Joyce who I knew could rescue me the same way Jon Taffer rescues bars. So, we sat down together at the piano in my mom’s house and planned what we hoped would be a great four song program to dazzle and wow an audience of about fifty students and five professors. Now, you have to understand that not only did my final grade depend on this program but the audience and the professors would critique it too. The pressure was on to create something spectacular and we did. At least I thought we did!

We practiced the songs with and without the piano just in case they would not let me use the piano to help me with the melody. I was told right before that there would be someone who would accompany everyone but not with the melody but in my case they would make an exception. See! I am special and you will soon learn why! We practiced several hours a day and then when my sister was at work we practiced using the tape she made so that we could work on the program on her lunch hour. She deserved more than just a medal for this.

When the day of the performance arrived I dressed for success or in whatever outfit my mom thought appropriate but that’s another story. I looked great I hoped: Hair, makeup, clothes shoes to perfection my mom and sister said. Too bad Marcia could not be there but I put one of those pocket recorders in my bag and another in my jacket pocket and turned them on before I sang so she could hear just how well I did.

Standing in front of all of these people was terrifying and conferring with the pianist that would play the songs in several different keys scary. They told me in order to see how wide a range my voice had. Well! It had a range but more like the gas jets on an oven or gas range!

For my first selection I chose to sing the song in the key of G with one sharp and then the same selection in C with no sharps or flat. Both major keys. The second selection I chose the key of F major with one flat and then C major again. The third and fourth songs I chose to sing in D major with two sharps and G major with one sharp. I sang all four songs to perfection I think. The audience was stunned. You could hear a pin drop! No one said a word. My professor had to grade my work on the spot and this is what he said:

I realize that your voice is unique and that you had to create a program that would be different. Everyone else sang arias and songs from well known shows or the radio but you sang four songs of your choice and considering the fact that you know you cannot really sing but your instrumental skills are first rate and I know how hard you and your sister worked I am giving you a B+ for your efforts and the same grade in the course. I will even offer you another B+ not to take the next class and just get the credit for it.

I think that was great. So, would you like to know what songs I wowed or stunned the audience with? I bet you are totally curious: For my first selection I sang: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in both Keys that I stated above and if I do say so right on key. I THINK! The next song was Are You Sleeping? In French and English and the third Mary Had A Little Lamb and for my fourth song I chose something more difficult: America. Now are you not impressed! My sister when I called her was totally excited. My mom would have liked an A but she understood that this was more than I hoped for.

My sister and I went shopping that weekend and I bought her the outfit she wanted in her favorite store New York and Company and her favorite bag from Kate Spade. That’s the least I could do for her hard work and effort. Then, we sat down and listened to the tape and wherever she is now she is smiling or laughing or both. Miss you Marcia Joyce.

Your sister and best friend forever: Frani

 

My Bio:

Fran taught for 36 years in a public school in the Bronx. Fran was the reading and writing staff developer and dean. For many years Fran ran the musical shows and talent performances helping to showcase the glee club, dance groups and music groups in the school. Fran has three master’s degrees in education, reading and learning disabilities and administration and supervision as well as a PD in supervision. She is a member of Who’s Who of America’s Teachers and Who’s Who of America’s Professionals. She had her own network on Blog Talk Radio: MJ network in memory of her sister Marcia Joyce as well as her magazine in MJ magazine. She has written 12 books and is working on her next to hoping to have the release dates in the fall. Fran is an avid reader and loves spotlighting the work of authors when reviewing their books and posting her thoughts all over the net. Fran’s books are on Amazon and here is the link to all of them:
http://www.amazon.com/Fran-Lewis/e/B002F8Z87U

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on Reddit

Why Dogs Rock

The Dog/Human Connection

I was on Facebook the other day when I got one of those postings pointing out that ‘dog’ spelled backwards is ‘god’. As always, I smiled and wondered where people come up with that kind of stuff, but it got me thinking.

Most dog owners love their dogs, think of them as family members, and mourn them when they die. I did some research, found some interesting info, and decided to use it for my post on the Write Room Blog.

Dogs and Protection

A dog’s mantra is to protect and serve, and some dogs will risk death to save their owners from danger, even little pet dogs. This inherent desire has been put to good use for law enforcement purposes. German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Dobermann Pischers and other breeds that exhibit fearless and potentially aggressive natures are used as canine police officers, trained to attack and apprehend criminals and back up their handlers. Military dogs perform a wealth of different functions including scouting, detecting land mines, detecting explosives, and more, and dog handlers develop a very special bond with their charges. The US military has its own breeding program, and the Department of Defense Military Working Dog School asks regular civilians to foster puppies aged from 6 weeks to 7 months for five months to socialize them. Here’s a link to a program in Texas.  http://www.37trw.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-120611-022.pdf

 

Dogs and Rescue Operations

Dogs are far superior to humans when it comes to search and rescue, and it has been said that one dog can do the job of 30 humans in search and rescue operations. When we think tracking, Bloodhounds are the breed that automatically come to mind, because they are equipped to do the job more effectively.  Their long ears and the folds around their faces are designed to trap and hold onto scents. Specialized tracker dogs are not limited to Bloodhounds, though. All breeds of dogs, including mongrels or mutts have a superior sense of smell when compared with humans, and are often employed to sniff for people who may be trapped under rubble, snow or mud after natural disasters and terror attacks. Cadaver dogs are used to find dead bodies, thereby helping their loved ones to find closure.

Specialized breeds like Newfoundlands are often used for water rescues because of their strength and swimming skills, aided by webbed feet. We’ve probably all heard of St. Bernards and how they were used for centuries by monks in the Alps to find people lost in the snow. The work was hazardous and so many of these dogs died that the breed came close to extinction. Thankfully a breeding program saved them, but they are no longer used for rescues.

 

Dogs can be trained to sniff just about anything, and they may be used to detect drugs, bombs, stolen money, or murder weapons.

This post would not be complete if I didn’t mention the wonderful canines who assisted in finding people after the 9/11 attack in New York. Said to be more than 900 in total numbers, and made up of different breeds, they came from all over the country and worked for anything from 12 to 16 hours at a time in chaotic, dusty, smoky and acrid conditions for around 10 days. Sadly, most of them have passed away now, but they will always be remembered as true heroes.

 

Dogs and Human Health

Humans with physical disabilities rely on dogs to help them with their everyday tasks. Guide dogs empower the blind and hearing-impaired, and dogs can be trained to check if their owners are going into a diabetic coma or an epileptic seizure, sometimes waking them up every hour through the night. If the dog detects a problem, it is trained to press a button that calls for help.

Therapy dogs have been called ‘professional comforters with fur.’ They are taken to hospitals to visit and interact with sick adults and children, who often show marked improvement in their health just from cuddling a dog and feeling their warm, wriggly bodies and their slobbery doggie ‘kisses.’

Autistic children and mentally challenged children and adults, and soldiers with PTSD gain comfort and healing from interacting with dogs. Dogs are used in prisons as therapy and rehabilitation for prisoners, who take care of them and train them, thus learning responsibility and self-esteem.

This is a link to a true story about an autistic boy and his shelter dog—a case of the rescued dog rescues the human, which happens more often than you might imagine. http://www.today.com/pets/shelter-dog-helps-boy-autism-hug-his-mom-first-time-t17686

Some exceptional dogs have displayed an ability to sniff out cancer. This is now being expounded upon, and dogs are being trained in the early detection of cancer using samples of peoples’ breath saved in a test tube, and displaying an unprecedented  98% success rate. This research has exciting and far reaching possibilities. Dogs are being used to aid in mammograms that are hard to read because of dense breast tissue, and to provide a simple (not to mention painless) screening method of cancer detection. (Ref: InSitu Foundation www.dogsdetectcancer.org )

 

Dogs and Herding

Collies and shepherd dogs of all kinds have an instinctual herding instinct and have been used by shepherds for hundreds of years. Herding dogs can also be quite fierce and protect the animals in their charge against predators. The Great Pyrenees are big, strong dogs that fit into that category. Corgis, Queen Elizabeth’s favorite breed, may look cute, but they were originally bred to herd cattle and other animals.

 

Dogs and Sport

Dogs have been used for man’s recreational purposes for thousands of years, from beagles, fox-terriers and foxhounds, bred to hunt foxes (tally-ho), to Rhodesian Ridgebacks (where I come from) that were bred to hunt lions, and Karelean Bear Dogs. Modern hunting dogs in the US, mainly hounds, wear tracking collars so their owners can easily follow or locate them in the dense eastern and northern forests.

Pointers find where the quarry is hiding and ‘point’ it out to their owner, Retrievers fetch birds their owners have shot, often having to swim to complete their mission. Sight hounds—Saluki, Whippets and others were bred for their superior speed and vision.

Apart from hunting, dogs show amazing agility when they compete in sports like Frisbee-catching events, canine agility competitions, dock-diving, herding contests, and more, and  Greyhound and lure racing, which has been taking place for literally hundreds of years.

The Iditarod is one of the most grueling races in the world. Teams of dogs compete to pull sleds some 1,100 miles through snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures. Only northern breeds of dogs, primarily Siberian huskies and Alaskan Malamutes are permitted to be used because other breeds have proven to be unable to withstand the harsh weather conditions. The race can take anything between 9 – 15 days, and is one of the toughest of all competitions in the world. When the race starts, a red lantern is lit, and is awarded to the last team to cross the finish line in recognition that the race is not over until everyone is off the trail.

 

Dogs in History

It would be an impossible task to choose one most famous dog, but there are a few who deserve a special mention.

While dogs belonging to presidents and world leaders may have been given their share of airtime, Lassie, although fictional, must be one of the most recognizable dogs worldwide. Her part was first played in the movie ‘Lassie Come Home’ by a male Rough Collie named Pal in 1943. Pal was not the first choice because he was a male—he was originally hired to do the stunts. He performed so well in one particular scene that it was decided he would replace the original highly-pedigreed female star.

Rin-Tin-Tin, on the other hand, was a real dog (not fictional), and starred as himself in movies, and has been credited with bringing Warner Brothers out of bankruptcy in the 1920’s.

220px-Laika

Laika, the first dog in space, was one of three strays picked up on the streets of Moscow.  She had the misfortune to be chosen from the three to orbit the earth in Sputnik 2 in 1957. Technology at that time was limited, and it was not possible to bring the spacecraft back to earth in one piece. It was reported that Laika would eventually run out of oxygen and die an easy death after a few orbits, but sadly, it is speculated that she died soon after takeoff due to overheating. A statue of her stands as a reminder of her sad mission.

Sinbad, a dog of indeterminate breeding, signed his enlistment papers for the US Coast Guard with a paw print, and received his own identification number. He must be one of the most decorated dogs in history, having been awarded the American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and the Navy Occupation Service Medal.

Able Seaman Just Nuisance

Then there was Able Seaman Just Nuisance, a Great Dane who was the only dog to be enlisted in the British Royal Navy. He got into trouble for constantly boarding the trains to Cape Town from the naval base near the southern tip of Africa, without a ticket. Sailors were allowed to travel free, so he was enlisted to alleviate the problem. His name was given as ‘Just’, last name ‘Nuisance’, and his trade ‘bone crusher’, while his religious denomination was listed as ‘Scrounger.’ His statue can be seen in Simonstown, South Africa, and a movie about his life is currently in production.

On a final note, consider this. Simply stroking any pet can decrease levels of stress hormones, regulate breathing, and lower blood pressure, but dogs are the only ones that watch and wait every time we go out, and greet us with a happy dance and a wagging tail when we return. We are currently ‘between dogs’ in our household—not for long, I hope. It’s the first time in my life I haven’t had a dog, and I love our cats, but that special welcome is what I miss the most.

Trish Jackson writes romantic suspense and romantic comedy, and loves to include fictional animals that are not limited to dogs in her stories.  http://www.trishjackson.com

 

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on Reddit

LOVE An eclectic collection of poetry and prose addressing the subject of ‘love’ by members of The Write Room Blog

Sometimes

 
by

Micki Peluso

Sometimes we seem at different poles
North winds blow across a frozen heart
While southern breezes boil the blood
Yet we are ever joined as one

Combustible, angry, confused and hurt
Feeling wrenching loss of familial love

Sometimes hurt festers like a canker sore
It wants to heal and yet it won’t
Too much has happened to recant
Guilt picks away at closing scabs

And healing, coveted, will not be heeded
However much wanted and needed

Sometimes, so many sometimes
We yearn for days of yore
Life was simple, love unconditional
And trust as sweet as apple pie

Sometimes our lives seem to normalize
Until leaves wafting on uncertain winds
Drift away, leaving distrust behind
And the vicious cycle begins again

Sometimes I reminisce those days
And my heart quickens with yearning
An optimistic, eternal soul
Sees that love again reborn

And I can almost see it myself . . . sometimes

~♥♥♥~

A PUZZLING ROMANCE

Micki Peluso

Caitlin with the carrot-colored hair
Went off to visit a witch so fair.
Seeking help, her problem, profound.
The witch’s familiar was a Basset Hound!

“What? No black cat?” Caitlin asked.
“Sadly, my cat was possessed! Aghast,
A corrupt thing, most surely demonized.dreamstime_m_32195746
So I changed her into this hound so fine.”

“What, my sweet, might I do for you?”
While cooing to her grey morning dove.
“I have looked far and wide,” the lass replied.
“But cannot find my one true love.”

The witch rose to stir her cauldron stew
Dug deep into a magical, tapestry bag
And handed Caitlin a Rubik’s cube
Which made the lovelorn girl quite mad!

“I beseech your help and receive a toy?”
“Ah, my beauty, it will bring you joy.
“For when solved, the Rubik’s squares,
Will bring the one for whom you care.”

The witchcraft worked on the very first try,
As Caitlin sat alone in the park.
A handsome, dark-eyed man ambled bydreamstime_m_38617302
And made a quizzical remark.

“Excuse me Miss,” he said and sat
Beside her on the wooden bench.
“You seem to need a hand with that.”
His eyes took in the lovely wench.

Moments passed with no retreat,
As he twisted, turned, then it was done.
The Rubik’s cube was now complete
Caitlin sighed, her heartstrings sung.

Far in the distance howled a sound
From a most special Basset Hound.
The witch pulled up her blood-red cowl
And smiled; true love once more, found.

The End
or
The Beginning

~♥♥♥~

Micki Peluso’s writing career began with a personal tragedy that led to a career in journalism. She’s published short fiction and non-fiction, as well as slice of life stories in five anthologies, magazines and ezines.   . . .AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG is an award-winning, funny family memoir of love, loss and survival. She is currently finishing a collection of short slice of life stories and essays, in a book called, ‘Don’t Pluck the Duck.’

https://www.facebook.com/AndTheWhippoorwillSang

♥~❤~♥

 

Damn Love by Kenneth Weene

“Damn love.” Billy hoists his Guinness, drains, clanks the glass on the bar, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, and belches.

“Damn, damn love,” he repeats and finishes his drink.

“Your knuckles,” his drinking buddy points at Billy’s right hand.

“What about ‘em?” Billy slurs.

“You been in a fight?”

“Nah. Teachin’ the old lady a lesson.”

“You beat on Trish?”

“Hey, you don’t think I feel bad? Why the hell do you think I’m drinkin’ with you instead of in the tumble with her? I feel terrible. But she wanted it, Mike; I’m tellin’ you, she wanted it.”

“No woman wants that, Bill,” Tad, the bartender interjects. “I don’t care what she did, I’d never use my fists on my girl.”

“I tell you she wanted it. Asked for it. Fuckin’ dared me.”

“So you came home and there’s your woman, Trish, and she says, ‘Hey Billy, hit me. Give me a good one in the chops.’ Right?”  The bartender wields a dirty rag over a spill.

“Might as well. Might as well.”

A knot of guys has gathered. One asks, “She all right?”

Another, “She need to go to the hospital?”

“Did she call the cops?”

Billy doesn’t reply. “Another beer.”

“Sure.” Tad holds the glass under the tap and yanks. “So did she or didn’t she?” he asks as he sets it down.

“Did she or didn’t she what?”

“Tell you to fuckin’ hit her. Is that what she said?”

“Nah, not what she said. It ain’t words; it’s feelin’s. Like sometimes you just know. I come home and there’s somethin’ wrong, somethin’ the matter. She ain’t started dinner. She’s just lookin’ out the window.

“I ask her who ya lookin’ for. But she don’t answer. So I ask her again.

“’You really want to know?’ That’s what she says. ‘You really want to know?’

“Hell no! I don’t want to know. I just know. Know what I mean?

“Damn love. I wish I didn’t love her so much.”

“I know what you mean.”  Mike claps his buddy on the shoulder, slips off his stool and out the door.  He’s not sure what to say, not to Billy and not to Trish. Why hadn’t he shown up? “Damn love,” he thinks, “too fuckin’ complicated.”

~♥♥♥~

Frequently a contrarian, Ken Weene on occasion turns to the noir for this flash story of love. For more of his writings, visit http://www.kennethweene.com

♥~❤~♥

 

LOVE

Roger Ellory

 

Love is essentially indefinable.

It is a desire to be with someone, of course.  It is mental, emotional, spiritual.  It is a feeling that without that person you are incomplete.  It is both ownership and belonging, independence and reliance; it is a certainty that the person you love knows who you are, that they appreciate the good, bad or indifferent, that they get everything or nothing at all.

moon and windWhat appears to be missing from most relationships is the sense that you should operate as one, even though you are entirely different.  It is an understanding that if some outside force threatens the stability of the relationship, you don’t blame one another, you instead stand back-to-back and face the world, defending and protecting one another, being true to one another, accepting that even though one of you may have made a mistake it really is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Love is kindness, compassion, tolerance, a sense of familiarity and a willingness to discover new things every day.  It is seeing someone as if for the first time and taking time to remember all the reasons you chose to be with them.  It is seeing their oddities, their idiosyncrasies, their foibles and flaws and loving them for those things just as much as everything else.  It is knowing when they are tired, when they are frustrated, when they need to be alone, when they need you beside them even when there’s something else you’re meant to be doing.  It’s the unexpected caress, the unexpected gift, a few whispered words of real tenderness.  It’s the poem you wrote, even though it was kind of dumb.  It’s the homemade anniversary card, even after twenty years together.  It’s bringing back flowers, even though you forgot the butter and the eggs you were sent to buy.  It’s finishing one another’s sentences, and then finally finishing one another’s thoughts with just a glance or a knowing smile.

It’s a sense that without this person life doesn’t really make any sense at all.

Most of all it’s true companionship, the knowledge that even though it’s never really possible to know someone fully, the person you’re with knows you better than anyone else, and adores you despite all.

And when you find that someone—or think you’ve that found someone—the whole world is too small to stop you reaching them.

And that, I think, is love.

~♥♥♥~

RJ Ellory is the author of thirteen novels, the most recent entitled Mockingbird Songs. His books have won multiple prizes and are available in twenty-six languages.  Ellory is also the guitarist and vocalist of The Whiskey Poets.  He was born in Birmingham, U.K., and continues to make this his home.

http://www.amazon.com/R.J.-Ellory/e/B002IVGFJO

♥~❤~♥

 

SEVEN  LOVE POEMS TO MY SHARON

 Sal Buttaci

A pop-up sun,
A drop-down moon

Dawn inhales,
Night expires

The two of us
Awake again

To share
Another lifetime

~♥♥♥~

tears of sad angels
tumble down
from handkerchief clouds

Thunder booming
God’s loud voice
chastising mankind

but the flowers
know better
They call the rain

“Grace”

~♥♥♥~

If love is real
it never becomes a ghost
bumping into dark walls
of houses haunted by sorrow

True love thrives
beyond green seasons
It leaps the fence
dividing life and death
and it dances to the tune of forever

~♥♥♥~

traipsing shin-deep
in a field of red-rose petals
we ignore the chocolates
in all their inviting shapes
that tempt us sweetly
from the sidelines

together we sing love songs
below a red-ball sun
hiding behind heart-shaped clouds

we finger-write “I love you”
across each other’s palm

~♥♥♥~

If only I could teach
the birds,
the flowers,
the trees
to recite poetry
so one day
when this voice
is silenced,
I may go on
praising you,
the woman I love,
with songs
from the heart.

~♥♥♥~

Maybe one day
love will grow old,
wilt like parade roses,
rust like a treasure-house key
and all the world will speak of it
with painful nostalgia
or regret or darkest sorrow
the way mourners cast their lines
into the waters of time
delighting in the tug
of remembered lost moments,
the years reeled in like old tires
and fish long dead,
memories of a once enduring love
now flat-lined and still,
something to say goodbye to.

~♥♥♥~

The last parting word
has not been said.
When that last word comes,
it will float light and airy,
like a love bird’s feather.

It will trip off these lips
like a spring breeze.
It will gush from a mouth
tired of speaking.

It will sing praises
in that final moment,
A single-word aria:
your name,
your name.

~♥♥♥~

Sal Buttaci is the author of two flash-fiction collections, Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts.  His book A Family of Sicilians… has been called “the best book written about Sicilians.”
He lives in West Virginia with Sharon the love of his life.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/ButtaciPublishing2008

www.facebook.com/salvatore.buttaci

♥~❤~♥

 

Coffee for Two

By Cynthia B. Ainsworthe

 
I stood waiting for my order. The clerk smiled functionally behind the counter as she gave me my change. She took no notice of me nor I of her. My mind was on a presentation I would be giving in a few hours at a prestigious advertising agency. After the divorce, career advancement was nearly as important as being a mom to three teenaged children.

Reaching for a wooden coffee stirrer, a strange hand touched mine briefly. A low and familiar voice came from behind me. “So sorry. I didn’t mean to rush you.” A glance to his face, and then his deep navy eyes caught my attention. Thoughts of the past whirled around me, an onslaught of smiles, tears, precious moments. His hand remained on mine a bit too long. Could he be feeling the same remote recognition of some kind? Am I seeing an identity in him that’s not there? A long forgotten remembrance buried for my own sanity?

“No problem,” I answered to his comment.

“Don’t I know you?” He began to move toward a vacant table for two. “Your face is so familiar to me.”

“I’m not certain.” I fidgeted with the purse strap. Could it be? Was it him after all these years? “They say there’s always a double for everyone, somewhere.”

His smile was warm and friendly. “Well, we could always find out over our coffees.”

Young fashionable couple dating at the bar, she is having a coffee

Sitting down opposite him, the memories come flooding back in a torrent. I wondered why he never answered my letters.

He adjusted his seat. “I wrote many letters, and never received an answer. It’s been over thirty years and I still think of you. If you are who I think you are, why did you break it off with me?”

“You’re Tyler? Tyler York?” He nodded. “You never wrote to me. I sent you many letters and thought you were no longer interested.”

He chuckled. “The damned war. Our letters must’ve never gotten through.” His hand reached for mine. “After all this time, all this lost time, and now to reconnect.” He sighed. “Are you married?”

“Divorced. Three teenaged children.” My gaze searched his eyes for truth. “And you?”

“Still single.” His eyes moistened. “You see, when I had met the perfect girl, none of the others measured up.”

He squeezed my hand and reassured my heart.

~♥♥♥~

Multiple award-winner, Cynthia B. Ainsworthe writes romantic fiction novels and short stories, and she has also published a spicy and sensual cookbook. Cynthia is currently working with Hollywood screenwriter, producer, and director, Scott C Brown to adapt her first novel, Front Row Center for screen. A retired cardiac RN turned-author, Cynthia lives in Florida with her husband and their five poodle-children.

http://www.cynthiabainsworthe.com

♥~❤~♥

 

James Brown

by Patricia Dusenbury

 

“Please. Please. Please.” His desperate cry tailed off, and James Brown fell to his knees.

The music stopped; you could have heard a pin drop in that auditorium. One of the band rushed forward and draped a purple cloak over the trembling singer.

James struggled to his feet. He grabbed the microphone. “Please,” he whispered.

The audience roared. People leapt to their feet, waving their arms and dancing in place.

“Fantastic.” Sandra leaned against Mike. “What a show.”

Their preppy clothes and pale faces stood out in the crowd, but she wasn’t the only woman violating college rules by being here. And everyone was friendly. It didn’t feel the least bit dangerous. “I’m glad we came.”

In the ladies room during intermission, a woman was selling Dixie cups half filled with a thick pink liquid. She caught Sandra’s eye. “Sloe gin, only a dollar.”

Sandra handed her a dollar, took a sip and choked when the liquor hit her throat.

The woman chuckled. “Add soda, Baby. Then drink it.”

Back at her seat, Sandra stirred the sloe gin into a Coke. She still felt every swallow, but now it tasted good, like Dr. Pepper. Mike thought it tasted like cough syrup.

“All the more for me,” she said.

When the show ended, they hurried back to the car in case the neighborhood really was dangerous. They had an hour until her curfew, so Mike drove down by the river. Still exhilarated by the music and the crowd, they watched clouds drift across the moon. Mike pushed the seat back and pulled her close.

“Please, please, please,” he sang.

“Please,” she whispered.

#

Mike sat across the table, reading the newspaper. Sandra studied his hands, their knuckles swollen with arthritis. How she loved those hands.

“Our children are planning a fiftieth anniversary party,” she said. “Lisa asked if they had to play James Brown. She understands ‘nostalgia for the music of our youth’ but doesn’t think James Brown is very romantic.”

Mike looked up. “What did you tell her?

“I said, ‘Please.’”

~♥♥♥~

Patricia Dusenbury swears that “James Brown” is autobiographical only to the extent that she was at the concert. A year would pass before she met the man she was to marry. Decades would pass before she and her husband realized that they’d both been at the concert. That realization inspired this short story.

Patricia writes prize-winning mystery novels with an element of romance. ‘A House of Her Own’ will be released October 16.

WEB PAGE:   http://www.PatriciaDusenbury.com

♥~❤~♥

 

Clayton Bye is a writer, editor and publisher. With 18 books to his credit and another 15 in the pipeline, he has written about many subjects and has explored many writing styles, one of them poetry. The following poems are selected from his published works. You may find his poetry book What I Found in the Dark athttp://shop.claytonbye.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=58&product_id=74. The book is available in both print and electronic formats. Also available to order from Amazon and most fine bookstores.

 

Regarding love …

This poem was inspired by a real necklace I had made from a teardrop piece of onyx for a lost love.

Age and Onyx
Near an ivy covered castle wall,
down among the leaves and dirt,
an old, black-stoned necklace lay.
Have you a story, my dear old friend,
of these many days passed by?
Does the fire of love live on?
Is her heart yet young enough to care,
and her hair still raven-dark?
Or have these years been too long,
my war making me a stone killer
on those plains so real and red,
that the heart, as the stone, lost—
left the lady to cry once again.

The haiku was written as I thought about one of the great loves of my life.

Beauty Drifting Downward
Dark hair in the wind,
Beauty drifting downward
Fire my mind and soul.

A poem about marriage and where it has led and is leading me.

Choices
Time is a juggernaut:
Unstoppable, with no reverse.
Rarely noticed ‘til you’ve transversed.

From proximity choose
One to leaven the daunting edge,
And so your future self you pledge.

Onward the cutting slope:
Good times, bad times and some unknown,
Reaching that day when all has grown.

Two sides, this: tried and left alone.
One marked by the slavering beast,
The other by fragile dreams–its feast.

Comfort and knowledge keep
your aging soul marching the line;
Each passing mark your life defined.

Yet a song once too oft
Played and heard at your deepened core,
Makes you wonder: should there be more?

You know love came along
For the downward and dead end ride.
It’s what kept you on the inside.

No outward saunters then
To breach the safety of the known,
A bargain made to tend what’s sown.

The right choice? Who can tell?
Time’s line marches forever on;
The moment is all, then it’s gone.

Joy is taken in light,
Which passes by in quickened flight,
A subtle taste we take in haste…

Before we bow and say good night.

And here I find a love I thought I had long ago lost.

Found
Secret longings mind-burnt
Now loosed from my soul,
Sweet knives outward slicing
Host-bound on the wind;

Diamond ice time-picked clean
Will melt asunder,
Heart-met in morning hours,
Her dark eyes of joy.

♥~❤~♥

 

Love is no longer a four letter word

Trish Jackson

It’s official. The most used word in 2014, was not a word. It was the heart emoji or emoticon,  meaning ‘love,’ which apparently was (and still is) used billions of times every day on the Internet, more than any written word.

According to the Global Language Monitor in Austin Texas, http://www.languagemonitor.com/ the English language is undergoing exponential changes unlike anything ever in its history, and it now includes 722 characters or images that portray emotions, expression, state of mind, even people, places or things.

Finally you can use the’ insert symbols’ function in Word. Most smart phones include an emoji keyboard, but if yours doesn’t, there’s an app for that. Of course there is, there are several, and they are free.

The word (or symbol) ‘Love’ ♥ is used in so many ways we didn’t touch on in this posting. Here are a few—romantic love: ♥💏   familial love: ♥👪  religious love: ♥🙏

love of friends: ♥👫   love of animals: ♥🐎🐩   love of coffee: ♥🍵

love of food: ♥🍴🍔   love of shoes: ♥👠

love of sports: ♥🎾🎿 etc.

Ironically, the most used word on porn sites is ‘love’—about the last place love comes into play.

It just goes to prove what a crazy, mixed up world it is.

~♥♥♥~

Trish Jackson writes romantic suspense and romantic comedy, and loves to include fictional animals and pets in her stories.  http://www.trishjackson.com

 

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on Reddit

Sundowners with Baboons by Trish Jackson

 

Where do fiction authors get their ideas?  This is a question I am often asked. Usually I respond by saying the ideas come from our subconscious minds. Very often, for me, the story line for a complete novel is there and once I sit down and start writing it all just flows onto the computer screen without me consciously having to decide what to write.

Other writers have the same experience.

So where do our subconscious minds get their material? It can only be from our life’s experiences. Things we’ve seen, things we’ve done, things that have happened to us or others, things we’ve read about or seen in a movie. Some might say we draw on experiences from past lives.

When I first started writing, I knew I wanted to write romance, and I ended up writing a romance thriller or romantic suspense. Growing up in a country called Rhodesia, (now Zimbabwe) in Africa I have experienced some unique adventures, so I wasn’t surprised. It did come as a surprise, though, when I found myself moving on to write a romantic comedy.

My redneck detective series is all set in the U.S.  and friends and family often ask why I’ve only written one book about Africa. I don’t have a definitive answer, except that I have lived in the U.S. almost half my life now.

I’ve decided I probably should go back to my roots and draw on some of my experiences of life in Africa for my next book.

Here’s one such story that could only have taken place in Africa …

In the tropics, the sun goes down sometime between five thirty and six thirty in the evening, winter or summer. If you are ever lucky enough to go on a photographic safari in Africa, the chances are you will go for an evening drive or boat ride and stop somewhere to watch the game take their last drink at sundown. Your host will open an ice chest and offer you a ‘sundowner’, traditionally a ‘pink gin’ or gin and tonic with a dash of Angostura Bitters, but any adult beverage taken at sundown qualifies as a sundowner.

My husband, David worked as the group geophysicist for a large mining corporation. One of his duties was to travel to remote areas to investigate private mines being offered for sale. One such trip took him way into the middle of nowhere, where a farmer named Bob had a gold mine for sale.

Rhodesians were known for their hospitality, so it didn’t come as a surprise when Bob invited David to sundowners and dinner at his home that night.

When he arrived at the farmhouse, he was a little hesitant about getting out of the Land Rover. Two full grown baboons wearing skirts were riding tricycles around the lawn. Bob came out to meet him and they stood and watched while Bob explained that he and his wife were childless, and to fill the void in their lives, they had ‘adopted’ three baby baboons several years ago.

Bob led David into the house to the bar adjacent to the living room and offered him a beer. The baboons ditched their trikes and followed. Bob introduced his wife and their baboon ‘daughters’, whose names were Anabel and Mary-Lou.

“Anabel is old enough to drink,” Bob explained while handing her a beer, and David watched her put the bottle to her lips and glug the beer down without pausing for breath.

“We have to chain Mary-Lou to the couch when she watches TV,” Bob’s wife said. “She gets a little over excited during fight scenes and attacks the TV.”

While they enjoyed their sundowners, the hosts showed David the photograph albums of their ‘children’ growing up. They had alas, lost their ‘son’ Peter, the third baboon they adopted. When David found out the baboons slept in beds in the bedrooms and used the toilets just as any children would do, he was very thankful he had declined their offer of accommodation.

At dinner time, Bob and his wife sat at either end of the table, and sure enough, the baboons were seated across from David. The cook served everyone with their food including the baboons, who had a special diet. They had better table manners than some human children. However, they were uneasy at having a stranger at the table. Although they had had their canine teeth removed, they were still big, ugly, and scary, and every time David looked up as he lifted a forkful of food to his mouth, the baboons ducked their heads at him and barked, which made it difficult for him to stop his hand from jerking.

After dinner they all retired to the bar again. Suddenly they heard a commotion in the kitchen. A huge 300 lb bush pig charged into the room and dove onto the couch. The cook had left the door open—big mistake! Bob tried to call the bush pig off but to no avail. Eventually he had to get something sweet to entice him off the couch and back outside. It turned out he had been bottle fed on the couch as a baby and had never lost the desire to lie on it. Not surprisingly, they had had to replace several broken couches over the years.

This story is all true, and needless to say—David declined the next offer to have sundowners with strangers who lived in the middle of nowhere.

Trish Jackson writes emotive romantic suspense focusing on small towns, country folk and their animals. www.trishjax.com

a

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on Reddit

THE THANATOPSIS PROJECT

a
The second time he died was a Thursday. He had prepped for it since April’s last snows piled a perimeter of walls surrounding the institute like some fortified castle. Here it was now, deep into June, and from his window Trebor Patrokos could detect the late appearance of saffron crocuses on short stems, poking yellow crowns through garden beds. The mystery of nature: the cyclic journey from seed to bloom to death to seed again.

 

Scientist Carr had asked, “Why not human beings? Why not after death to blink one’s eyes like newborns and awake to the flash of new sunlight?”

 

“What do the mort-pics show?” he asked Carr. “Was I dead again?”

 

“Very much dead, Trebor. Deader, as they say, than a doornail. Dead as stone.”

 

Trebor Patrokos raked a quick hand through long graying hair. “How long this time?”

 

Scientist Carr checked his notes and read the Thanatos-meter he had attached to Trebor‘s temple. “You were dead for nearly thirty hours. No heartbeat, no brainwaves, no coursing of blood, organs somewhere down in Death Valley. Total inertia. I’d call this one even more successful than your first outage. You did just fine, Trebor. Once we set the Thanatos-meter at zero, it sucked the life out of you. For all intents and purposes you were a corpse, but the meter took on vital operations so that, yes, you were physically and mentally gone, but it transferred your life force into itself.”

 

Twice Carr had sloughed away the multi-tiered personas of his ersatz life. Trebor had been pronounced dead, a fact he had known all his life. The bald truth? Trebor Patrokos regarded himself a nothing, a kind of Invisible Man divested of clothing and facial bandages. Volunteering for the secret Thanatopsis Project, he had harbored a secret of his own, a longing that the Thanatos-meter would fail, and the death it had delivered him and then stored in its chip would prove his undoing.

 

Scientist Carr had, in an accidental but momentous experiment, managed to defang venomous death. In his laboratory he had failed to unravel the mystery of insidious cancers, find cures that would prolong lives, but all that was moot now. He had bypassed the long winding road through the mire of failed steps, leaping from Point A to Point Z in a single bound. He had conquered death! And those who would flock to his door would pay heavily to relinquish their fear of endings.

 

“To you and to the others in this study I am indebted beyond words,” said Carr. “In these experiments, time and again, the Thanatos-meter has replicated death and then restored the dead to life again. This tiny black box,” Carr said, raising the meter as if to announce it to the world, “attached to the temple…” The scientist allowed himself to drift off into fantasy. Then to Trebor Patrokos he said, “One more time?”

 

Trebor nodded, proceeded to lie down on the white surgical table where shortly before he had returned after thirty hours dead to the world.

 

Scientist Carr sang off-key while he attached the Thanatos-meter to the supine Patrokos. It was a song made popular decades before when Carr attended Columbia Med. School and wanted so much to show them all he had what it took to realize his dreams.

 

“And the world will be better for this

That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star.”

 

Trebor felt the cold black metal of the meter against his forehead. Carr’s voice trailed away. Trebor’s eyes lost their grip; objects in the lab were fading fast. But so far his mind was clear. He did not want to live again. For what? Life had not been kind.

 

When Trebor heard the whining blue siren beating inside his head, he reached up his hand, touched the pulsating Thanatos-meter and yanked it from his temple just in time to take death like a man in despair.

 

Scientist Carr screamed Trebor’s name.

 

#
BIO
Salvatore Buttaci is a retired teacher and professor whose work has appeared in The Writer, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and elsewhere here and abroad. He was the 2007 recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award.

 

Sal Buttaci’s recent flash-fiction collection, 200 Shorts, was published by All Things That Matter Press, and is  available at  http://www.amazon.com/200-Shorts-ebook/dp/B004YWKI8O/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369920397&sr=1-2&keywords=200+Shorts

 

 

 

FLASH BULLETIN: Today’ s the perfect day to order copies:

 

 

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on Reddit