The Lost Art of Reading

DogReadingSomeone gave me a book and approximately one week later I returned it as they happenstance where at my place. They were surprised if not taken aback that I had finished so quickly. I did not hurry through the book, in fact I had other pending projects so the book did not get the best of my time; plus I had my latest edition of Writer’s Digest to read, one of my songs needed tweaking, and I still do yet but another pass on The Druid and the Flower as I await the beta readers.

I am not at all bragging. I really, really have no understanding of how much other people read. I am always reading something or other. My wife is the same, usually about horses, dogs, all forms of natural medicine and host of other attractions that keeps her printer at a constant clip.

Neither of us watch sports, maybe that’s a game changer when it comes to reading. (Pun intended.)

I also read selected blogs, especially those constructed by other authors promoting themselves and their work. I never knew Flash Fiction existed some months ago, but my editor is a very capable Flash fiction writer, and I have become hooked. I follow a select few political commentators—as exciting as watching golf; but it lets me know which way the wind is blowing—the golf I mean.

I love words. I think everyone gets off where they read a clever line from Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, the immortal words of Yogi Berra, or a myriad of other clever people. There is something in us that loves a good story. There is so much bountiful information, with easy access, to enlighten any mind with new insight or give simple pleasure of a new world or idea. I hope dearly reading has not become a lost art to all the other media that so tickle the senses.

Many things might pass as we enter this new age of world instant communication and contact. Some would argue that if it is worth holding onto it will survive. But then I think about the food I eat, where it comes from, and how it is produced and handled. How water comes to us in bottles, pricier than the gas we buy. You can no more drink from a fresh stream of water, or chew on the new fallen snow, than you would eat two week old road kill. Lots of good things have gone their way, the most recent our freedom to make it through a scanner with our shoes on, safety is always a concern. We can no longer let a ten or twelve year old child walk to school by themselves, definitely not to the park. All doors are locked, guns loaded and waiting in some place where most likely they will be useless, but provide a wonderful opportunity for a misguided household incident.

Oh ya, reading. The chances are slim to none.

A full chapter from – The Druid and the Flower


Chapter 2 – A Druid’s Journey
Summary of the Journals
The making of a druid comes with much woe

Conor Logan descended from a long line of Logans tracing his heritage back to the old country. Myth and folklore stored in the family journals told of sheep stealers and inn keepers; the family later, choosing survival over the gallows, took up fishing as a more assured if not more arduous way of life. Conor’s more immediate ancestors had immigrated to this land a couple of centuries before. Two brothers boarded a ship in the old country. One of the brothers died soon after the crossing, from a disease that took hold of him while on the voyage. The other brother went on to have a family of two—Benjamin and Daniel.
Those two brothers set out at an early age to make their fortune in the world. They undertook a journey to an island well east of the great continent, an island known to be teeming with fish of every sort. The two were fishermen at heart, perhaps feeling a connection to men before them who had earned their livelihood on the sea. The voyage began with abundant good spirits, from a small fishing port on the mainland looking east to a vast horizon of ocean. They sailed south and east to where their ship met with a raging storm as they neared the Southern Cape of Gray Rocks Island. This treacherous cape had earned the respect and concern of all who sailed those waters. The cape was often immersed in fog banks, appearing out of nowhere and remaining for weeks—a thick, gray soup. Such thick fog banks offered no visibility beyond your nose. Some even argued it was best to close your eyes in such situations as one could then at least provide a mental image of intended destination.
A pleasant journey turned to misadventure for Ben and Daniel. Their ship came captained by a seasoned sailor, but on a raging sea covered in dense fog, no vessel could be considered safe. The wooden hulled schooner slammed full ahead into the one hundred foot cliffs—another feature which made the Southern Cape famous.
Many an inn, where brew served the thirsty, might also serve up an old sea shanty that told of the cape’s dark past.

There’s a black crow on my shoulder
A north wind’s comin’ on
There’s a black crow on my shoulder
That howlin’ gale is strong

Been sailing south for many long days
On an angry ocean swell
If there’s any sight of land to see
This devil fog won’t tell

I fear we can’t go forward
I know we can’t go back
And the riggin’s talkin’ to me
The sails will give no slack

I hear a whisper
It’s the crazy ocean’s sister
She’ll take me to my water grave
She’s a siren, I’m her slave
Benjamin was one of two to survive; the other was not his brother. Ben finally made his way to the northern shores of Gray Rocks Island, and established a canning factory which supported the local fishing industry for many decades. The fisheries had since died as did the heart of the small coves about the great island; Conor’s grand-father was born in the cove, and left while still a youth, and traveled to the mainland to find new opportunities.
When the collapse occurred, Conor, little more than one year old, and his family represented a lucky few tucked away in the mountains away from civilization. His father and mother were soon before teaching crop administration and growth as professors in a large university. They left the “big city” setting and put what they knew into practice, a few years before the Conor was born.
The collapse ended all but necessary travel for them, and Conor’s family learned the need to stay hidden and leave few signs upon the land that they even existed. The small community of less than a hundred moved about as the ebb and flow of hunting and farming dictated. They shared with each other and hid any food—mostly preserves that could survive the stay for a return trip in their annual rotation.
The encampment they utilized in summer offered little to resemble a library, but it held a small cellar where a cache of books and journals lay hidden. He always loved returning to the summer area, as living there represented best his idea of home, the longest stay and the most enjoyable times he could remember of those early years.

***Conor At Six Years Old – Five years after the collapse***

Conor was six and his sister a few years older on this particular rotation. The cold of winter still stuck to their mountain quarters. It had been a difficult stay with deep snows and a scarcity of food. The herds that normally populated the area in winter had not returned. Hunting was difficult and sparse with success. The group was more than usually excited to be returning south to lower pastures in hopes of a bountiful summer growing season. The lush green valley thrived once again with flowers and wildlife. The rivers flowed fat with the deluge precipitated by the spring thaw. Conor was coming home, his favorite place.
Summer home allowed a special moment each day. When the chores were completed his mother would sit him and his sister down and read from one of the books or journals.


This evening she promised to read from an old journal written by one of his ancestors.
A small campfire burned and the night sky twinkled with stars. A few others gathered as his mother took her familiar seat and readied the journal.
The attack came quickly and seemingly from all sides. His mother moved to snatch him and his sister to safety but the attackers had planned—and now carried out with machinelike precision—a near complete massacre of the small band of people. The terrible atrocity resulted in much screaming and bloodshed. This abated quickly as his friends and family were dispatched without a chance to defend themselves—so overpowering was the attack.
Conor could scarcely comprehend what was happening. His mind went numb with the violence he witnessed; he had no understanding to why such an event had unfolded. He wished only they had not left their winter home so soon. He and his sister, along with all the younger members of the small tribe, were gathered up and caged for the journey ahead.
A few of the elders escaped; Conor knew from what he witnessed that his parents were not among them. The attackers took nothing other than children.
A group of clan members circled the campfire and urinated as the others tipped over tables and supplies. The campfire hissed the only sign of counterattack against the onslaught.
They became captives of the Gaters—traded twice and finally ended up far north, where they began learning the ways of a particular clan somewhere in a city that had once been a major metropolis along the Big River.

***Conor At Fourteen Years Old – Fifteen years after the Collapse ***

Conor lived a bitter existence during those years. His sister fared even worse; being forced to take a husband at such a young age. The good news, should there be any, was that Tex owned ten other wives and carried sufficient rank in the Gater Clan to ensure Conor and his sister remained safe from harm from anyone other than himself.
His sister continually told Conor stories of their family and how things used to be, how they would once again be united, though he knew different. She kept him well-informed about the world they now lived in, guiding him in what it took to survive. She brought him books from the spoils her husband often returned with from his many escapades. Conor became an avid reader of everything he could get his hands on, if only to avoid the unpleasant reality of his surroundings. He felt the taint upon his hands of every book he read, giving a silent prayer for the immense price that strangers had paid so he might read.
Conor turned fourteen, the same year Tex informed him it was time to join the ranks of the raiders. At first he merely shared in the returning raid party stories of the hunt. Next he participated in the daily lesson, where he learned to fight and kill. Weapons, which at first were strange and awkward to his touch, soon became lightning deliverers of death. He joined in the raids before he turned fifteen; though his role was mostly one of gathering the contraband, he witnessed and was forced to participate in the carnage that took place, even if only as a spectator.
He rebelled as best he could; tried many times to talk about the violence, but Tex would have none of it. The more Conor pushed, the harder the slaps he received from Tex’s impatient hand. Tex and the rest of the Gaters only saw a boy who needed to become a man.


His sister entered her seventeenth year a few days before. Conor returned to the house along with Tex. Tex came covered with blood from the raid and had consumed the usual amount of brew to anoint the cruelty he had displayed. Conor’s sister came down from upstairs to help comfort her brother, as she knew full well the shame and remorse he always carried from such episodes.
She went to where Conor sat and put her hand on his head. He could not even look up to acknowledge her presence.
“Leave the boy alone.” Tex pushed his wife against the wall. “You’re the reason your brother is useless to us on raids. I spend more time pushing him along than getting any real work done. This is your damn fault. I will have no more.”
Tex unloaded a mouthful of expletives designed to explain to his wife she paid too much attention to her brother. Brutality being his favorite tool of persuasion, he slapped her across the face as he took another gulp of the brew he held in his other hand.
“You’ll not disrespect me in my own house. I gave you and your little brat brother a place to live. And this is the thanks I get.”
Tex moved closer, his fist clenched for another assault. Conor, with all the force a young boy could muster, slammed Tex in the side of his head. Tex shook his head and laughed. He grabbed Conor by the hair and lifted him off the ground. He released his grip and Conor dropped to the floor, a backhand from Tex sending him careening across the room.
Conor’s sister screamed for Tex to stop. Tex cursed and gripped her neck. He threw his empty mug against the wall, took her head and snapped it back, breaking off her last words in mid-sentence. He cursed her name.
Conor rose from the corner in rage as the lifeless body of his sister hit the floor. Tex turned toward him with rage also in his eyes. The boy of fourteen grabbed a shearing knife from the block on the counter, then the man of fourteen plunged the knife deep into Tex’s chest.
Their eyes locked for one last instant. Tex saw then the demons who would drag him to hell, and Conor felt his soul tremble with the horror of what he had done.
His sister’s last words rang again in his mind, “Run, Con—”
And run he did.
He spent that night calling her name in a whisper. When morning came he never spoke it again until his sins demanded it.

*** Conor Seventeen Years Old – Eighteen years after the collapse ***

Conor learned that some things are not easy to run away from. The brutal massacre of his parents he carried with a mixture of irreconcilable loss and shame that he should have done something to stop what had happened. The killing of his sister left the burden of guilt and an empty void that he was alone. He felt the blood on his hands for what he had done to Tex, one demon telling him he should have done it sooner, another demon telling him murder was wrong.
He had raced from the island giving little thought to direction. He ended up south from Big River. The skills he had learned from the Gaters now became an asset. He knew how to kill and steal, move in stealth and take what he wanted. This new environment was bewildering and hostile—a perfect haven for his intense anger. He stole food and clothing wherever and from whomever he could and he learned that the will to survive is a mighty teacher.
In less than a year he’d been joined by others and they became a pack of feral dogs doing whatever needed to be done to survive. He soon lost all sense of social order and immersed himself in leading his small band to acquire what they needed by whatever means he thought necessary.

They scouted out a small camp and decided the five of them—his favorite size group to hunt with—would easily overpower the group of three around the small campfire site. They walked in, weapons displaying their intentions.
The two women and the man at the fire stood and moved together, preparing for the inevitable confrontation. As they did so, Conor glanced behind him, only to be surprised by three men moving in from behind—he had not staked out the camp properly.
What should have been a simple overpowering exercise in intimidation and robbery turned to bedlam. The first shot came from one of three approaching from behind. One of Conor’s comrades flew forward and slumped to the ground. Conor dove to the ground, rolled and came up facing the three who had surprised them.
The air rang with the explosive pops of rounds leaving the chamber and landing in flesh, bone, and what else might be in the way of eleven people caught up in a tragic event.
The encounter was over in seconds, the scene now one of blood and silence.
Conor heard a click from behind. That gun was empty.
The gun he carried was empty as well. All of his men were dead.
He turned to face the last one standing from the group they intended robbing. She reached into her pack for another clip. Conor covered the distance before she could insert the clip, and grabbed for her legs, bringing her to the ground.
She hit the ground with a thump and began to strike at him with all her strength. Conor grabbed her arms and laughed at her feeble attempts to free herself.
Then the full import of his actions shattered him. He recalled his sister crumbling to the floor.
He let the woman go and he ran.
Then he ran some more.

*** Conor Nineteen Years Old – Twenty years after the collapse ***

The time following the incident, the madness of what he had done, the events surrounding the death of his sister, and before that his mother and father, etched themselves deep in his sub-conscious, mixing together to return in recurring unsettling dreams and nagging dreadful thoughts, all the time as he wandered in solitude, dragging the remorse on his young back. He vowed never to steal again or take another life. No matter what he did to push back the evil he had done, his mind insisted he wander inside a dark, heavy hell that all but engulfed him. Some days, he would hope for an encounter that would end his life, end the memories. The irony might be the resolve he now embraced, deemed giving himself up for the slaughter, as no less an evil than carrying out such a slaughter. So, he continued on.
The seasons circled while he took the time to adjust to his new resolve. He headed south from the extreme cold and when the winds turned warm once more he migrated north, keeping to himself except in the rarest of circumstances.
The solitude finally found him longing to visit one more time the place his family most felt at home. He could not recall the way; the path to where he was and where he had come from was but a blur and a series of disconnects to any discernable route. With a vague direction in mind he continued south beyond his usual boundaries. The new journey included gradual reorientation with people he met along the path, perhaps hoping to find himself again. When he could not forage from the forest he presented himself to whatever group he thought to be marginally safe and asked for food in return for work.
Most of the people he met were accommodating and did their best to offer him aid. This made him all the more guilty for the terrible things he had done to others and again the irony of the situation drove him to meet his demons as perhaps a path to himself.
Happenstance presented a large farming community that offered work in summer and hunting, trapping, and woodcutting in the winter months. He allowed himself to join the community, which in turn gave him a place to heal, rest, and ponder.
No one asked him too many questions. He worked harder than anyone and accepted only the food it took to keep him alive.
The community had a small library, which contained many books that dealt with mind development and scientific breakthroughs in the centuries before the big collapse. At first he could not even bring himself to pick up a book. He would visit there at times and only browse. Finally, one day when he found the library empty he picked up one of the books.
From that time forward, whenever he was not working he was reading and writing in a new journal the community provided him, once they recognized his propensity to write and read. He even took to reading to the children, and ofttimes adults, inside the community cooking hut.
In the months that followed he slowly regained a piece of his humanity and a terrible but necessary understanding of good and evil that he would be forced to carry forever. He recognized clearly the choices a man can make and he pondered how easily it was to choose evil over good. The difference lay in the understanding of life’s purpose.
Much of his reading time was spent researching and contemplating what that purpose might be, and when he felt another phase was complete he told the small community it had grown time for him to leave, and he continued on his quest to find his home.
It was during the early start of the next autumn he finally happened upon what was the last gathering place of his family. Nothing looked familiar, though he was certain of his surroundings—if only by the fire pit in the center where he had last seen his mother and father. He went there, knelt, and closed his eyes. Too much had happened since, to even wish them back; all he hoped for was a connection.
The footsteps behind him caused him to struggle to his feet and turn around. An old man put out his hand in welcome.
Conor blinked an opening through the flow of tears and shook the old man’s hand. “I am sorry. I’m just passing through and I will be on my way.”
“Sit, my friend. You do not strike me as a man in a hurry.”
“Perhaps you’re right.”
The old man bade Conor sit on a bench, where he joined him.
“I saw you arrive and kneel beside the pit. I knew immediately you were somehow connected to that terrible tragedy that fell on our community.” A young lady arrived with two mugs. “I asked young Stella to bring us some tea as I came to talk with you.”
Conor accepted the tea and they both sat a few minutes in silence. Conor then told the old man of his family, how his mother would read from the journals around the fire. The old man acknowledged they were his friends as well as Conor’s family.
More silence ensued.
The old man commenced speaking once again and Conor listened intently; the old man bowing his head, perhaps is shame, as he described how he and few others had escaped the massacre.
Conor gave the old man a hug and explained some of his own shame and remorse. “Some actions might well be your own but they do not necessarily define who you are or what you might become. A character is much more a long series of decisions and experience. Any one action, no matter how big, is but a drop of water in the lake of who you are.”
The old man bowed his head once again. “I sense your wisdom has come at a terrible price.”
Conor didn’t answer.
When next Conor spoke he expressed his intention to move on.
“Wait just a moment.” The old man scurried to the small hut behind where they had been sitting. He returned with a large stack of journals. Conor knew immediately what they were—the journals of his ancestors, including the writings of his father and mother. He took them and rubbed his hand over the faded leather.
“I don’t know why I kept them but I’m glad I did.”
“Thank you.”
Conor turned and walked away into the evening—his two pack mules with a little more burden, his burden somewhat lighter.
He read the journals from start to finish a few times; then he headed to where a few from his ancestral family had long ago lived—a place he would learn had been renamed North Face Cove.

And so it begins

Chapter 1 – Endings

The Book of Ancestors

There were but few among the multitudes
Who knew the way forward

Micca had gone to sleep the night before with the expectation of a beautiful and eventful day to follow. It so happened, this was the day she had envisioned, but it came at a terrible price. She pushed her feet into her slippers and made her way downstairs.
The satellite-feed monitor caught her attention as she entered the room. The green light indicated it was in the “on” position, but the blank screen told a different story. She sat and checked the connections. An examination of her other communication equipment gave her the same message. She glanced at her leather-bound journal―bulging fat and overflowing with articles and memorabilia sticking out at odd angles—on the right side of the monitor. The journal held a record of her successes and failures, her goals and her life lessons. All she had done—the planning, the gathering of like-minded individuals, the procurement of the necessary components, the building of the new community―none of that had prepared her for the immense trepidation that now filled her entire being. She shook as if the earth itself was shaking her. There was nothing she could do, nor was there anyone to contact. Her community was far away from the chaos that would take place next in most areas of the world.

Two Pictures to Examine

family                                                  Fingernails, brittle and worn, thick with age, unable to retain the moisture. Here, so different, tiny specks of cover at the end of slender and graceful fingers, as fragile as the thin layer of frost on the first cool morning of autumn. Hair much the same on either, though the head that holds the dry brittle strands gives the appearance of the last few withered stalks of dusty wheat, missed by the blades that took the field, but for some odd reason left just a patch—maybe to tell what was once there.

          Here, those light silky wisps could easily dance about in the most gentle of breezes; and no matter how they fell, it would appear they had been combed by an angel—one who knew just the right way to make each curl stand out.

         The skin gives the most opposite view of what clearly could not be the same. There, more scales than a fish not yet prepared for cooking, but dead none-the-less. Small scars and bumps, little dots of brown, raised dry spots—an accumulation and abundance of God knows what it might have come from. The tiny waves are the most prominent; a game could be played where bringing the skin taut would appear smooth and shining like a newly frozen rink in winter, then letting go, it would revert back to its wavy self.

         Not  so here, all white and milky, even the smell would be fresh as newly rolled dough. It’s funny how the smell of a baby wrapped in a warm blanket after a bath could smell so wonderful. Not a ripple or a wrinkle, a pale smooth surface, flashes of pink where it should be, a soft downy batch of new fallen snow.

           Eyes are said to be the windows to the soul. But these have perhaps seen too much of the world. They sit in sockets surrounded by skin, lined and grizzled, cranky bits of hair sticking from the lashes at odd angles, the eyes themselves displaying signs of wear, muscles so used up that the eyes are unable to take in the world on their own.

            Here, the eyes are green. They look ready to jump out and take in the world, a brilliant dark green, centered inside a smooth white canvas to show off the sparkle.

             And what the two pictures cannot tell is they are both the same. For inside each is the same heart, the same soul. Neither moment is more precious than the other, neither moment is more urgent than the other. Each moment is but another capture of the one, different than the one before, but no more or less important; it might be so that some moments are more easily remembered because of time or circumstance.

              Two pictures can do nothing more than pick two moments in a life as compared to the two or three billion that is created assuming each second makes a new you.

Time to refit

young - fishing                                                I greatly dislike the idea of downsizing. Don’t know where it came from and have no desire to find out why it has such popular use. It of course applies to folks who have decided where and how they live needs to shrink in some fashion, perhaps to accommodate that the little wee ones have long fled the nest, and the empty space now echoes with silence.

I have been fortunate to live in a most desirable home for many years—well, most desirable for me and my wife, if no one else; we love the privacy, the ponds, the kitchen with the old delapadated gas stove that is a focal point of our lives. You might tell from pictures that I love to eat, but more I love to cook. Lots of wonderful memories both inside and outside that wonderful homestead: a steady parade of animals, much joy and special bits of sadness when they had to move on, the fire pit, well used to my howling at the moon, parties inside, singing, and those special events at Thanksgiving and the most holy of days, St. Patty’s day.

The idea of leaving such a place in the onset wants to cling to a notion of abandonment and loss. We humans cling to many, many things. I know I do, perhaps too much. But, thankfully I have learned well how to let go. This busy world demands we leave friends and love ones behind; it scarcely allows us time to breath even when the parting is to be permanent—then again permanence is a fickle image to cling to in the grand scheme of things. I have always been careful to focus on what I was going to next. At some point it moves from preparing to leave and takes on the excitement of newly arriving. Neither should grab the moment, as we all know it is the journey itself which should retain the focus.

I am excited as we plan this next chapter. It is my expectation we will not travel far, as we love the part of the country where we live; it is more a time to examine whats best fits us as we explore tomorrow. No rush for now, and we remain aware that planning is what you do while life goes on with what is necessary.

I am thankful I enjoy my work. I am thankful for my music, my writing and the wonderful people I get to meet with. They each provide a continued challenge to grow, learn and evolve.

The need for refitting might present itself in few circumstances. We must listen to those demands and allow what must be done take precedence over what we might otherwise choose to cling to because of familiarity and attachment.



The Great Sins

oak treeA lazy day indeed from this point on; I will do nothing other than lay and rest in shade and satisfaction.

Days before I could but languish in the knowledge that others rested in the shade of the old stand of trees, a cool drink at hand when needed, as I was forced to trek on. No food for days, until this last one, a kill finally; I ate what was needed and then ate some more, not knowing when again I could. I tore at strips of meat; what might have been a satisfying conclusion to those days before without nourishment now turned to a rage to consume as quickly as possible.
Still I wanted more, no longer to quench an appetite, rather, the feel of the kill, abundance, the possession, the power, and the lust of accomplishment.
Oh to have such opportunity at every turn, food when desired, drink when thirsty.
Alas, as leader I must protect my pride.
I step away that they too might eat.
I will of course confess the great sins I have committed here today, if but one in reverse order.
Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth.

The spiritual Atom

atom antI’m on one of those spurts where I ponder the universe.
Big bang. But not like a bomb that detonates; a bomb involves expansion over time. The big bank was expansion everywhere at once, the creation of space. How big? Don’t know – like a balloon we all move out together, and every point is the center. But it’s not like a balloon; more like the surface of a balloon without the space inside. Not really like that either, as that is one dimensional. Still if were able to cover the distance, and started our trip through the universe in a straight line, we would end up back where we started. Why? Silly me! Space is curved.

The final synopsis being that my feeble brain will never be able to truly comprehend it, no matter how much smarter I get from drinking scotch.
Then there is dark matter, which wasn’t enough to explain the expansion and especially the speeds at which outer stars travel so fast around their center – usually a black hole. So we now have dark energy that kicks their ass into motion – or maybe pulls then – or gives them chocolate to entice them to go faster.
And this is only our little universe – only 15 billion years old, a baby in the arms of infinity of other times, other universes.
I find such information euphoric even as it puts me on the verge of madness. I have neither the time nor the aptitude to grasp what the Einstein’s of the world know better. They too in all probability have their limit, and perhaps in a bow to some higher intellect, they experience a passing moment of envy.
I love science and it is not hard to see I have a special love for cosmology. Never took much science in high school, too busy with math, Latin, French, literature, and history. Carl Sagan hooked me and I have been enthralled since. I purchased a few courses on Einstein and his relativity theories; spent some time revisiting calculus, as in University I was busy trying to pick up a nurse or two from the school next door. I should have stuck with calculus, as I never bagged a nurse. (Yes, that is BAGGED)
The little I learn about cosmology coincides with the little I learn about spirituality. I won’t bore you with the details other than to say that in my young school years the atom was the smallest particle, period; and the Catholic Church was the last word on spirituality and god – full stop.
I have been lucky to live in an age where information and knowledge flow from many wonderful sources. Yes, you need to be careful of your sources and take all with a dose of skepticism.
I am a spiritual scientific student of the cosmos.
Damn, I feel good today.

The Druid and the Flower

A_Dark_Mood,_Black_Panther                                                       I have spent the last few years with much of my free time invested in learning to write. I guess that sort of negates the idea of free time; perhaps I should have called it discretionary time.

Writing has always held my interest. Poetry at  first; at one time I much preferred reading poetry to any other form of literature. I think that came from childhood memories where stories being read to me had some sort of rhyme to carry the story along, as when Henry painted his wagon and got paint all over himself, reported..”Bessy I’m a little messy.”

I moved from poetry to short stories. I was not a good steward of all that I wrote, and all of my stories penned more than five years ago have made their way to the trash bin – perhaps for the better. Writing is a craft that must be learned. It is not enough should you have a story to tell. The fact that one might have an excellent grasp on the language is but one more obstacle that does not need to be overcome. The desire to write is also a fickle friend. Keeping the Muse active is much an effort of love and dedication.

What might be hardest to grasp is the art inside the science, and the science inside the art. The art inside the science develops the structure of the story. The reader must be hooked at the very beginning. The character is revealed by showing rather than telling; but the telling must still be present and used wisely to speed up or draw out a scene as required by the story. The character must engage the reader soon after the opening scene grabs the reader, and lead the story from there.The sentences and the paragraphs should vary with the pace; the dialogue should flow with words the reader can use to identify a character scarcely without the mention of her name.

The science inside the art must of course master the obvious. Spelling mistakes, bad punctuation, confusing the reader by jumping from one head to another or one time period to another on a continuous basis only leads to confusion and a lack of passion to continue.

Two of my books  were complete, including editing. The second was on Amazon for less than a week when I made the decision to pull both and rewrite each with the new knowledge I had obtained from critique groups I joined, author and editor groups I became part of, and a few pieces of software and writing tools I found along the way, which added greatly to mapping the story and keeping track of names, places and events.. I also got the “gee I’m published” bug out of my system. It’s real easy to get a book an Amazon – it is a much more demanding task to get a worthwhile book on Amazon.

So dear readers, the first of my books will make its way back from the editor soon. My new editor tells me I have some work to do, as the edit was not only about grammar. I am very excited to meet the challenge.

The Druid and the Flower will be a work I am most proud to release, and I am confident a most enjoyable read.

It was a difficult choice to begin again. I knew I would never be satisfied unless I took what I had learned and put it to work. I am confident there is more to come in the way of learning – it is time to move forward.


Friday the 13th


                     The bus dropped him unto the dirt road that ran adjacent to the park.

The back lights of the bus disappeared around a bend as he walked along. The path he followed was bathed in the soft glow of the park lamps which skirted the park on all sides. He had walked it many times when he worked late.

He loved the quiet change that came over him here; so different from the bustling city life where he spend his days.

The lights blinked once, once again, and his world went dark. He looked back at the sky over the city he had left behind. No lights anywhere, a blackout. No cars came up this way, few people lived this far out.

He let out a small shiver; perhaps from the cold, more likely from the odd feeling of being so alone in the dark with no light to guide him. He would never go into the park at night, too many possibilities. Inside the park was for the daytime. This now felt like inside the park. The lights had always been on as he walked around towards his home.

Nothing to do but keep walking; Let eyes adjust to the darkness. Ahead, huge dark blanketed clumps, surely stands of trees. He glanced at the sky, hoping for light; none promised itself. Rain drops increased in intensity and thunder rolled in from the south. He needed to hurry or the storm would have him.

No sounds. Stop and pause a moment to listen. No movement of any kind; not even birds chirping. How odd. Yes, for as long as he could not hear any sounds he would be safe. He strained his ears to listen and prayed silently for nothing. Somewhere in the strengthening storm he could make out small sounds, most likely the rustling of wind against the bushes and the branches of the trees, nothing more; still he looked behind him, into the darkness, nothing.

Friday the 13th. It came to him in a flash. Each of the Fridays the 13th before had involved a killing in this very park. One had been during the day, a lady on a bike hit and killed by a car losing control. The other woman had been killed at night and the police said drug related. Such a silly thing to be superstitious about a day and a number. Lightening flashed. They were both women anyway; not men.

The rain pelted his head and his face, no raincoat or umbrella. He doubted even if there were light he would be able to see, given all the rain washing down his face. Only the sound of the rain now, coupled with the intermittent crash of thunder. He strained harder to focus on any sounds that might tell him he was not alone. Best to cautious. He turned to look behind him again; footsteps?

“Who’s there?”

No answer, nothing.

He should run; he would catch his death of cold out here. His pace quickened and the urgency that overtook him made him break into a run; stumbling almost immediately on a branch that had been pulled from the tree by the strong gusts of wind riding on the storm. He cursed and picked himself up. He forced himself to stop; he had to face what was happening.

This might be Friday the 13th but he was not a woman. He peered off into the darkness. He was being followed. Best to cut through the park. His home was on the other side. It made no sense to walk around under these conditions. He headed into the park, but quickly found he was unable to navigate without constantly hitting a tree, a bench, a garbage can or some other obstacle unable to be seen in the darkness.

He pushed back out to the path, his clothes now drenched, his mind in tangles. By the time he made it to the bridge, his mind was racing with the possibilities of his own disaster. He had no belief in Friday the 13th, but he knew the sinister nature of people.

The town newspaper had run an article yesterday taking note of the coincidence, but making sure the folks who read the piece saw the Friday the 13th connection; and that two women had been killed.
Some sick maniac would read that and want the coincidence to be more than a chance happening. That sick mind would want to perpetuate the myth and bask in the stories of the Friday the 13th Park Killer.

But the victim had to be a woman.

He tripped over his own shoe lace that had become untied. The urge hit him to kick the shoe off and keep going. The gulp of air he forced into his lungs shook him in place. Deep breaths, one, two, three. Enough.

He turned around to better be prepared for what might otherwise surprise him from behind, and bent down to tie his shoe. He sucked in another breath as he stood back up, and turned to continue his trek; a light moving towards him on the bridge. He wanted to run. His attacker had somehow gotten ahead of him and was now confronting him.

The fear propelled him to full flight. He hit the attacker with every ounce of energy he could muster. His attacker went sailing over the bridge into the water. No hesitation to see if his attacker might escape the water, he kept running, stumbling, and picking himself up. His hands and knees were scraped and lacerated in pools of blood.

Tears mixed with the rain as he made it to the steps of his home. He pounded on the door, struggled to find his keys, managing to finally unlock the door.

The lights blinked back on as he stepped inside.

He almost fainted from the massive release that flooded his body.

Home. Slow down. It’s over.

He called for his wife. No answer.

He went to the kitchen, where a small candle sat on top of a note.

“Honey, gone to meet you with a flashlight. If I miss you I will go to the bus stop and back your usual path.”

Post 2

A post-apocalyptic community will not survive unless Conor can procure energy cells from a Gater clan responsible for his family’s massacre. Maeve must undertake a journey of her own to retrieve their stores of salt – taken in a most brazen and massive theft.
One of the few communities to survive the total collapse of the old world order did so because it was an island situated in the cold northern ocean, where ice packs, snow and long winters grudgingly give way to a warm but short spring, summer and fall.