Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Pub Chatter #27

Wow, what a wild finish to my work week. Who knew so many people suffered through the holidays. Thankfully, they all showed up at once to be cured on Monday. I think we’re all well now. Except me, I still need a couple more Irish coffees to reach optimum performance. Give me another hour and I’ll be there.
I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to all those people I snapped at, and the few I bit over the last week or two---okay, last month. It sounds like something from one of my stories, but I really don’t know what came over me. That’s not entirely true, I know what it was; it was rage. Where it came from, I don’t know yet. A verbal punch in the throat rescued me or at least woke me up. Now, I try to pick up the broken pieces and see what’s left. This happened to me once before. Guess it’s the werewolf in me. I looked around for a monastic retreat near here, but came up empty. Looks like only the nuns in the area are into silence and meditation. I’ll have to settle for the home version.
On a brighter note, I got some good work in on the Dragon and Dove and on Trail of Troubles. Hope to tune up Chapter 23 at the Seattle Writer’s meeting on Friday. I decided I need a real reworking of Baby It’s Cold Outside. I think I botched the ending something terrible. Shutting myself for a few days should help me reconnect with my muse in a more constructive fashion. I’m missing my personal library right about now. I have some good reads there that keep me on track.
Thanks for participating in my therapy. Rest assured thanks is all you’re getting. If I could afford a real shrink, I’d be almost normal by now.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Baby It's Cold Outside

     The snow began to fall minutes after midnight. Swept along by the north wind it drifted against my door. No matter, no one would be going in or out tonight. It was Christmas or had been since the minute hand on the grandfather clock in the hall started down from twelve. Everyone was huddled in their homes waiting for Santa and the snowplows to do their magic. I had no such expectations. If there was a Santa, I was definitely on his naughty list and not worth a lump of coal. As for snowplows, no one was getting Larry Thomason out of bed except the mayor and his honor was cuddled up with his intern for the night.

     Michelle is dead. Merry freakin' Christmas and Happy forking Holidays. What am I supposed to do now rock around the Christmas tree and have a cup of cheer? It wasn't suppose to be like this. We were lovers; we were destined to be together. We were so happy. Life has always been against me. Now, she's gone. Why did this have to happen to me?

     I shouldn't complain. After all, I'm the one that killed her. It all seems so unfair. She was so wonderful to touch. I can still feel her soft, warm body in my arms. I can hear her sighs soft against my chest. I can taste her lips on mine. God how I loved her. I never felt about another woman the way I felt about her. It was as if our souls were linked together.

     Why did I kill her? I've asked it myself a thousand times. I still don't have an answer that I trust. All I could see was her slipping away; filling her days with so much life while I stood alone watching. There was no part left for me. I went crazy. I needed her so bad, couldn't she see that? My heart was dying for her touch. Why did she not feel the same? Where was the love she pledged to me? I suppose the proper thing to do would have been to talk it over. I chose to cut her to pieces and bury her in the backyard. It does seem a bit extreme now that I think of it.

     I keep telling myself the shock and pain of what I've done will fade away. I'm a practiced liar, but even I don't believe that. It's never going away. The sun will come up in the morning; that's what the optimists say. Hell, the sun's going to come up for millennia and she's not coming back. I did that. Now, I have to live with it. I wonder how long that will be?

     I know she's not coming back, but I can't stop looking out the window. The little depression by the oak tree is filling with snow. It's coming down harder. By morning I probably won't be able to pick out the spot. The big white flakes are so beautiful; just like Michelle.

     Michelle? Is that you? Come in out of the wait...don't move...I'll come get you. I'm coming Michelle.


     "What do you make of it, Sarge?"

     "Hell if I know. Looks like he froze to death."

     "Musta been nuts to just sit here in the snow. What's that he's holding?"

     "Well, ain't that something. It's a ladies coat."

     "Looks like there's blood on it."

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Pub Chatter #26

      One of the top ten things about being a nurse is that you get to spend all the holidays with your friends---at work. So, lift a glass of cheer to all those nurses eagerly awaiting your arrival at local ER's and Urgent Care's everywhere. Let's hope you never need their services.

     There's always a lot of banter this time of year about the greeting "Merry Christmas." It's generally much to do about nothing. However, I think in the current desire for transparency, people who are not Christians the rest of the year should come up with their own name for the day. Although the solution I really favor is for Christians to go ahead and take the day off like everyone else while moving the celebration of Christ's birth to a different day and demanding we be off that day too.

      I'll be spending Christmas Day with my roommate. I love her, but she's a real bitch. I know a lot of guys say that, but really she's a bitch. She's my five years old Schnauzer, HyDee. She's a bit of a princess, but she loves me like no one else. She meets me at the door every morning and is always glad to see me come home. She loves to go places with me. Never complains about my cooking or that the trash needs to go out. If I'm sitting down, she's on my lap. If I'm up doing chores, she's looking at me with eyes that say, "Come sit and cuddle with me." She doesn't have conditions for being together and doesn't require an explanation about where I've been or why I'm late. She's not much of a conversationalist and I have to do most of the talking, but she says plenty. She's a looker. She's soft and warm. Now, if I can just teach her how to fetch beer and babes, I'm set.

     Merry Christmas y'all and to all a good night.

Chapter 22 On the Lam

  Vulryn wedged himself into the space between two tables. Faryn pulled up a chair next to the seer. Eeryn didn’t look as old as her grandfather, but she knew he had the reputation of being his equal. A reputation quickly on the way to being discredited by his cocksure attitude. He rubbed shoulders with human royalty and it showed. She hoped he was a full of information as he was of himself.

     “We are looking for a young Valir,” she said. “He was sent to you by Coryn weeks ago.”
“Does this Valir have a name?” Eeryn answered through an exhaled cloud of smoke.
“He does,” Faryn waved the smoke away from blazing eyes. “But, as my grandfather defied the Council to send him, you can be sure there is only one. Has he found you?”

  A smile tugged at the edges of his beak and spread over his face; lighting his eyes. Eeryn lay down his pipe and forsook the posture shared by the drunken and the broken. He sat upright and shook the cloak from his shoulders.

     “Ah,” he said with a chuckle. “I see you share the fire of both your grandfathers. Well done. I am Eeryn, son of Aryn.
She took his offered hand. His face looked younger; his eyes brighter somehow.
“I have a certain image to uphold,” he explained. “Down and out prophet banned from the palace and all that. I have not seen your messenger. However, I would still like his name.”
“Bryn Bou,” she replied.
“Son of Byryn,” he cut her short. “Must be some message to send the son of a Councillor. You must not tell anyone else his name. Do you understand?"
“The Ambassador is sure to ask,” Vulryn volunteered.
“Tell no one, especially Dorryn,” Eeryn said. “The army is looking for Bryn. They say he is involved in the massacre of humans.”
“The villages,” Faryn said. “The Ambassador told us about that. Surely you don’t believe Bryn was responsible?”
“If it’s any consolation,” Eeryn said. “No, I don’t believe Bryn is involved. However, very few people in Shiloh care what I believe.”

     A low croaking call rolled through the pub’s open door carried by flapping wings. The raven skimmed over the heads of ducking, dodging patron to land in the middle of the table. Faryn sought shelter behind the seer. Vulryn’s arms flew from his sides trying to keep from tipping his chair. The seer offered the bird his arm. The raven jumped from the table onto the perch offered by Eeryn. A series of croaks accompanied by twists and turns of the bird’s head removed the smile from the seer’s face. With a quick thrust of his arm, the raven took flight returning the way it had come.

     “Quickly,” Eeryn said. “We have to get out of here. This way.”

  Turning over the table and chairs in haste Faryn and the blacksmith followed without hesitation. Eeryn pushed through the crowd toward an exit near the rear of the building. Customers parted to make way. All, that is, except a large, heavily muscled wolven. The wolven people were notorious for their dislike of being touched by strangers. The seer hit the wolf-like creature’s body and stumbled back into Faryn. The wolven growled and snapped sending them reeling. They fell over one another, but Vulryn caught them both in one big arm. The blacksmith turned and deposited his companions behind him. Then, with a smooth twist of his body sent a huge right hand into the wolven’s face. The wolf staggered; blood streaming from his smashed lips. A nearby table kept him from going down. The wolf steadied himself; bared his fangs and slowly advanced on Vulryn.

     “I’ll kill you for that bird man,” the woven growled. Sharp claws shot from its fingers.
“No time for that,” Vulryn said.

    The blacksmith caught the advancing wolven by the throat and lifted him from the floor. Claws raked Vulryn’s back, but his free hand found the wolven’s shirt just above the waist. Vulryn threw the creature over a table of stunned humans into the bottles lined up behind the bar. A cloud of shattered glass and liquor materialized behind the wolven’s sudden stop. The smell of alcohol in the room tripled. The bartender pulled his club from under the bar, but it was too late. Eeryn and his guests were gone.

     The seer led the way across the narrow alley behind the pub and into a cleft between to of the adjacent buildings. Vuryn turned sideways to negotiate the cramped space that gave out onto a street a couple hundred feet later. Eeryn turned left keeping to the shadows. A mile further on he ducked inside a dark building and closed the door behind them. The dark within was complete. Faryn could feel Vulryn by her side, but could not see him. She wave a hand before her eyes--nothing. No, that wasn’t quite right, there was something. Something was in here with them.

    “Vulryn,” she whispered.
“I feel it,” he whispered back.

    He was answered by a familiar low croak and the flare of a match. Eeryn lit a small candle. The raven flapped through the dark to land on the back of a tall wooden chair.

    “Want to tell us what that was all about?” Vulryn said.
“Thanks to you my large friend,” Eeryn replied. “We got out of there seconds before the army raided the place. My guess is that they were looking Bryn Bou.”
The raven utter another of its croaking calls.
“Yes.” Eeryn stroked the black bird’s head. “You helped too my friend.”
The raven bounced into the air and flapped its wings.
“Yes, I know,” Eeryn said. “It’s not safe here, so we mustn’t stay long. I want to check the valiant blacksmith’s wounds before we move on.”
"It’s nothing,” Vulryn protested, but allowed himself to be turned around and inspected.

    Four deep gouges ran the length of his wing pod. There were only two small lacerations to the skin on his shoulder. Blood had dried quickly over the wounds. Eeryn ran practiced fingers over the blacksmith’s skin.

    “You’ll heal well enough,” he said. “Now we had better...”
The seer stopped in mid-sentence and cocked an ear toward the street. The raven did the same. Voices; sharp, clipped commands moving closer. Eeryn picked up the candle and led the others through a maze of dusty rooms and short hallways. He slipped into a room near what Faryn guessed was the rear of the building. In the dim light of the candle she could make out a broken down bed with a bare mattress next to a worn chest of drawers. Eeryn stood listening for a moment before moving to the far corner of the room. He knelt and held a finger to his beak for quiet. Gingerly, he pried open a door concealed in the flanking of the floor. Faryn dropped into the space below. The blacksmith squeezed himself through the opening and the seer followed.

Beneath the floor was an earth walled room furnished with a table and two chairs. A pitcher of clear liquid flanked by a pair of wooden mugs sat in the middle of the table. The room was just large enough for the table and the three of them. Vulryn took up a seat on the floor; winching as he propped his back against the wall.

    Somewhere overhead hinges protested. Eeeryn blew out the candle and darkness swallowed them. The sound of heavy boots moved across the floor above them and spread out through the building. The still blackness pressed in on them. Faryn felt a strange relief. The dark was a welcome refuge from the danger above. They had done nothing wrong, except to disobey the warning to stay at the embassy. She was the granddaughter of a High Councillor. The humans wouldn’t dare harm her. At least, that’s what she told herself. It was a lie, of course. She had stolen a diplomatic pouch and crossed the border under false pretenses. Her crimes were more against her homeland than Shiloh. Somehow, she didn’t think that would make much difference to the soldiers searching for them.
Muffled voices directly above them sent a shiver down her spine.Footsteps moved in separate directions. They were searching the room above. The bed was dragged away from its place. The bed was too small to conceal any one beneath it. They were searching the floor; tapping random places; searching for a hidden space. Footsteps stopped directly overhead. Boot heels stomped on the door; stopped and began again. In the dark, no one moved; no one breathed.

    “Come on, Slick," a voice called from above. “They’re not here.”
“But, Sarge,” Slick protested. “I think...”
“You’re not paid to think,” Sarge snapped. “Now, move it.”

Below the receding footsteps, breathing began again. After a few moments of silence in the building, Eeryn lit his candle. He held a palm up. Faryn and Vulryn waited. A sharp rapping made Faryn gasp. Eeryn smiled at her and stood to open the door. The raven was perched on the bed. It watched them climb up through the floor.

“Now,” said the seer. “What to do you with the two of you?”

Friday, December 23, 2016

Pub Chatter #25

Productive morning with the Seattle Writer’s Group. I read a portion of Chapter 22 for them and got nice reviews and some good advice. This is a talented group of people, so glad to have met them. Snow canceled continuing on to Oak Harbor as I originally planed. Of course, the snow stopped as soon as I got back home.

\ Unfortunately, home is a cold, lonely place. That’s by my choice so I’m not kicking about it. A person may anticipate pain, only enduring it stops the hurt. Heartache is never quick or easy. There’s no pill to take, no curative salve to put on it, not even a way to rest. You live with it and reflect on the self-inflicted nature of lost love. Although, I’ve found on the few occasions love came my way that love is never really lost. Real love lingers because it is part of the soul. When you least expect it that love will rear its head and the joy and the pain come rushing back. Which makes for a lifetime of great writing prompts.

The puzzling part of love departed is how love happened at all. How does a dove fall in love with a dragon? What serpentine subtlety beguiled her? What moves him to think a gentle creature will ever see him for more than a monster and thus give away his heart? These questions are beyond me. Which means, dear readers, you are likely to read me ponder them for a long, long time.

The upside is that it may move me to do something special with the Dragon and Dove stuff I’ve started. I also have this sneaking suspicion these musing will work their way through space to the world called Tettias and be addressed by our young hero.

For now, a generous helping of Irish cream in the coffee and enduring.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Pub Chatter #24

A morning edition today. It’s okay I’ve been drinking coffee for an hour and have reached a caffeine level appropriate for social interaction. Really, it’s okay, sit down. The cloud of temporary insanity has passed. The hurt festering in me finally exploded. It seems not telling everything I know to the one I love is both betrayal and lying. ( I’m a man; who knew?) I apologized for hurting her. It was a heartfelt,sincere apology, not the usual guy,”I’m sorry.” I meant it. My error, was leaving something unsaid---again. I apologized for the hurt; it was not a confession of wrongdoing. The relationship was never the same. I own a big part of that for not expressing my feelings at the time. In the end, expressing those feelings couldn’t save the relationship. It’s sad. It hurts. But, I’m better not living with the pent up anger. Life goes on.

“Vive la difference.” Guys, we may be attracted to a mysterious woman, but transparency is the order of the day for the fair sex. Telling all is not safe either. You know, if she even speaks to me, I’m going to catch hell for this little confession. Love is a losing proposition; at least it is for me. Good luck to all you guys still in the game.

On a brighter note, I have all day to work on the next chapter in Trails of Trouble. I got it started and would like to finish it today. Tomorrow I’m going to a Seattle Writer’s meet up at the Elliot Bay Book Company and want to start a new short story. Now, if Stout is open for lunch a great day is in the making. This week has been productive is the poetry corner which still takes me by surprise because I haven’t written poetry since high school. I think it was inspired by love, but it looks like I’ll have to trust heartache to keep it going. Well, it worked for Poe.

Okay, I’m off to Tettias to check on Bryn and Faryn. TTFN  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Touch Me

For want of a nail, a kingdom lost,
Dreams and schemes forever tossed.
One treasure alone has charms,
A willing gift of open arms.

No one braves the dark,
No heart holds loving spark,
That sets ablaze spirit light,
Frees the soul from balckest night.

That which once was a man,
Flailed, fought and boldly ran,
To find what meant so much,
Love's kiss, tender touch.

None can hear, none can see,
The emptiness inside of thee.
Tis written in stone,
Wandering star, ever alone.

Watch the moon rise and set,
Wanders the sky, but never met,
Cold light of silver sliver,
None to still the silent shiver.

The world spins without a care,
For graying hair or rocking chair.
None to mourn, none to weep,
A barren soul's eternal sleep.

Stepping from the world,
Into the infinite hurled,
Comes a single crying plea,
With your love touch me.

Love Tried

Every tree looks the same,
Every hill like the last,
This road without a name,
Leads not to future or to past.

Friends and lovers show the back,
Crush the grape, tread the press,
That every drop they extract,
From this vintage none will bless.

By much speaking their victory win,
And care not for the rest.
Try, try, try again,
Put love to the test.

Love has long checked out,
The life left in its wake,
Is filled with endless doubt,
And finds no path to take.

Ever my love's fire burns,
For those to whom is given,
No matter how they turn,

Or how this heart is riven.

Pub Chatter #23

What is a dollar worth? One hundred cents; a hundredth of a Benjamin; both are true. however, such measures are relatively meaningless. I’m sure you’ve heard someone say a dollar is worth what it used to be. Which is a way of saying a dollar doesn’t buy as much as it once did. This is nearer the measure of worth, but still without much meaning. No objective measure of a dollar really tells us what it is worth.

  Worth is subjective. The man with many dollars doesn’t value them the same as the man with few. Abundance tends to decrease value. Scarcity tends to drive value up. Diamonds and gold are valuable because they are rare---supply is scarce. But scarcity is not fixed either, is it? People die of thirst in the middle of the ocean at the very same moment others are watering their lawns in Phoenix.
Scarcity also depends on perspective. Remember the rich man and the poor man value dollars differently. But, value isn’t equitable among peers either. Let’s say you and I are both nurses who make the same wage and by strange coincidence have exactly the same bank balance and pocket money. Because they are mine, the dollars in my pocket are more valuable to me than the ones in your pocket.
Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The same can be said of most of life’s intangibles: love, hate, pleasure, pain, etc...that, more than anything else makes us individuals. The is one constant in all this. Behavior and value are congruent and independent of our words.


          There's no fool like an old fool. So they tell me. I'm not so sure. Some folks are pretty good at it while they are young and we're all bad about making the same mistakes over and over again. St. Peter compared this human propensity for repeating mistakes to a dog returning to its own vomit.

          The story of my life seems to be woven of the same fabric repeated time and again. Hence---SSDD. The positive thing is that first time it took me twenty years to figure out the relationship was broken beyond repair; that I was no longer the object of her affection. Us began to look more and more like you and me. Older, but no wiser, it only took me a couple of weeks this time around to realize I had become and after thought. For what it's worth, I'm calling that progress.

          I admit to being a selfish bastard. Seventy-five percent of men are; the other twenty-five percent are liars. ( I wouldn't on my life give you the statistics for women.) Man or woman, no one wants to be an after thought in a relationship. We all want a slice of the other's life that belongs solely to us. I'm not discounting work, sometimes multiple careers, family, friends and the interests that make demands on our time. All of these things deserve a proper investment of time, effort and attention. But, you know what? So does a loving relationship.

          If you find you can't make time for just you and the one you love; quit calling it love. Be honest, your "lover" is way down the list of things that light your fire. I'm not sure what that's called, but it's not love. There's nothing wrong with such an arrangement if you're honest about it. Just don't get bent out of shape if the one pushed down the list takes a hike looking for greener pastures. After all, there were other things you wanted more.

          Despite what you hear in love songs, love does not come naturally. Attraction and seeking pleasure in another come naturally. Love is not that easy. I think that's why so many fail at love. It takes an effort to eliminate the singular self in favor of a broader concept of a dual self. Yeah, that old two become one thing. It's hard to imagine, even harder to do. Every time I think I've achieved it, I've been mistaken. Foolish as it is, I'll keep trying to find a love that sees into my heart.

          "It's love's illusions I recall, I really don't know love, at all."


The Shelf

Dear Uncle John,


      I just moved into my new place. The view is phenomnenal. Panoramic view of the city that catches all the sunsets. I can see all the hustle and bustle on the street; hear the sounds of traffic and music from the pub on saturday nights. There are people everywhere; coming and going on errands that I can only guess at. It's fun to pretend I know who they are and what they are doing today. Sometimes, I make believe that I am in love with one of the women and that she is on her way to see me.

     Everything is decorated for the holidays. Even through the dusting of snow that clings to things this high up, the lights seem so warm and bright. It's like being there in person without all the sun beating down on you. The seasons change, but the people look the same. It's comforting to watch.

       My neighbors seem nice enough. We're not a very talkative bunch. Most of the time we just sit together, lost in our own thoughts, and watch the city life below. I haven't had a chance to adopt the grays and sepia's the neighbors prefer. I'm still the new guy. It will all come in time as I begin to fit into the place. It's not lonesome, everyone here has a story to tell.

     Take Prom over there. Do you believe that hair-do? And what about those clothes? Nevertheless, he's a good sort; keeps to himself like we all do; doesn't disturb anything. To hear him tell it, he was a wild one in his day. Couldn't ask for a better neighbor now.

      The brothers down on the end there have an interesting story too. You can tell they were real close growing up. Age has kind of tarnished that image, but they are still together. The smiles on their faces are a bit worn, but still together.

     Check out Grad. Wearing in his cap and gown after all these years. He was proud of that sheepskin. I think he's overdoing it a bit clinging to it after all these years. To each his own, that's the sentiment in this neighborhood.

     The memories are on this shelf all fit together. Everybody has their place, but none of us has a place in anyone's life anymore. We sit here with our view and collect dust. We're not dead, just forgotten


Your nephew,

Lost Love.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pub Chatter #22

Words have the power to heal; to uplift and sustain people. Words also have the power to wound, even to destroy. But, what of silence? Words unsaid have a power all their own. Words not felt are insidious monsters that creep and kill.
I'm not talking about the "silent treatment" most people are familiar with. That is a silence born of anger. Women are better at it than men. However, no one wants to be either end of such silence. Its one redeeming feature is that such a silence is driven by passion. Feelings are hurt; ego wounded and silence is a protest mean to bring about resolution. Rarely do relationships die from the "silent treatment."
There is a form of silence that is deadly. It is the cold silence of, "I don't care anymore." Indifference happens only when emotion has died. The "I love you" unreturned; the kiss that never happens; the touch not given; are signs of a deadly disease. Not only do we become too busy or too absorbed to lay everything aside for a moment and be present with the one we love, but we don't care that it makes them feel unwanted. Indifferent silence drains words of meaning and hearts of passion leaving no means of healing. It kills at both ends.
Relationships don't endure by giving others the love they are due. That's not nearly enough. Love when you hurt. Love when you think you are empty. Love when you are the injured party. Love when you are dying inside. How? With words sincerely meant. Give and it will be given to you. Love and you will be loved. It may not happen according to your design, but it will happen.

Loving you enemies and doing good to those that spitefully use you will not necessarily win you friends and spare you heartache. That is not the idea. The idea is self-transformation; to slay indifference and to care. The idea is to fuel you passions with a fire that never dies and to kindle a spark in all you meet.

Pub Chatter #21

     Several years ago I was bitten by my son's boa constrictor. The bite drew a little blood, but the worst part was that it left tiny broken teeth under the skin on the back of my hand. The doctor said he wasn't going to blindly fish around trying to remove them (Thank God for small favors.) His solution was to wait until my body began to fight the foreign objects with redness and swelling. He told me when that happened to take a needle and dig them out. (He knew I was a nurse so don't you try that without your doctor's approval.)

      The point is that the best way to treat a hurt is to know what it is and where it is. Tonight, without use of a needle, pried a splinter from my heart. It hurt until I got it out. Now, to see if it heals properly. Emotions can cause real hurts. We don't always know what triggers a particular emotion or where that trigger is hiding, but eventually it gives itself away. The beings that we are have a way of battling the hurts of soul and spirit in much the same way as physical hurts.

      My hurts are of particular concern to very few people. You may not be one of them and that's okay. However, maybe you have a hurt of your own. A little advice and encouragement couldn't hurt. So, don't be hasty; don't blindly cut away, but don't let things fester too long either. Find a friend to be your needle and get free of what's eating at you. Finally, forgive yourself. If you're like me, you may find the root cause of your pain is self-inflicted.

     Remember, if all else fails, you can always drop in for a pint.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Pub Chatter #20

On an emotional roller coaster ride this weekend. Great night at work on Friday only to get home to no water and frozen pipes. Is it really supposed to be in the 20‘s in coastal Washington? The freeze put a quick end to plans to attend the Southside Fledgling Writers meet up. It took a while longer to destroy my dinner plans. Ran into a bad case of melancholy with that development which keep Chapter 21 from getting posted until late evening. Spent the evening with Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol; good stuff. A little tough self talk to review my stance to refuse to be pushed away and sleep like a baby. A rafter rattling, snoring baby. Woke up this morning and plunged into maintenance and chores. I still haven’t figured out what that was all about, but I’m glad it’s over. Life in the fast lane, right?
Though I have several projects going, I am not a multi-tasker. Head down, full speed ahead with what I’m concentrating on at the moment. Break into that and I growl and bark. I don’t bite often. I see the upside to multi-tasking, I just can’t reconcile with the spirit of it.

I believe that whatever or whoever I’m with deserve all of my attention. When people tell me they are giving 100% and can’t put down their phone, I have to wonder about their math skills. I know, I’m a dinosaur. To try and redeem myself, I’m planning to go to the late show at the Galaxy; enjoy an adult beverage and watch Rogue One.
I would be more confident in my future plans for writing if I had a young whippersnapper to oversee the technological aspects and marketing. I signed up for a Twitter account the other day. I have several followers already. I’m sure I would do better if I had an idea how to tweet. C’est la vie. Hell, if I lined up all the needful crap I don’t know end to end it would circle the earth several times.
One of those things is starting a page just for this pub stuff. Tried and got rejected, so I’m starting a group on FB. hope y’all will join up.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Chapter 21 Shiloh

          Twilight crept over the palace towers sending long shadows down the Avenue of Kings. The driver swerved around a platoon of soldiers; the night watch arriving at the palace.  Fayrn ignored them. She had seen it all before. Vulryn, on the other hand, was mesmerized by the humans. He stared wide-eyed at everything since they began the descent from the highlands. Shiloh was an impressive sight. Glistening, white stone towers butted up against the pale blue of the Inland Sea. The golden dome of the Temple commanded the city center. Sunlight reflecting from the dome was mirrored in the calm waters. The city's wide streets were jammed with people bumping into one another as the hurried on their way.

          The turn onto the Avenue of Kings brought the blacksmith another surprise; a massive Valirian treehouse rose from the surrounding stone. The sight of the Varian Embassy filled him with a sense of awe and wonder. Faryn's sight was focused on the portly figure standing at the entrance. The arms were folded across his chest perfectly complimented the scowl he word under knit together brows.

          "Ambassador Dorryn, how nice to see you," Faryn said as she stepped forward to greet him.

          "You have placed me in a difficult positiion, young lady," he replied; the scowl softened a little. "A very difficult position."

          "How so, Ambassador?" She asked determined not to reveal too much. At least, not until she was forced to do so.

          "Come inside." He took her arm and guided her along. "Too many eyes and ears outside."

          Vulryn followed them through a wide lobby decorated like a Valirian long house. It was deserted except for a couple of secretaries and a small detachment of soldiers. They crossed an open air atrium that housed a huge bouja tree dripping with orchids that lent their fragrance to the air. Passing through a curtain of woven silk, they came to the Ambassador's private office. Dorryn made no secret of living well or his taste for the finer things his position offered. His desk was inlaid with polished dragon bone and silver. The floors were covered with thick woven rugs that softly cradled each step.

          Dorryn steered them to a cluster of armchairs away from the desk where there was a view of the sea. A waiter appeared unbeaconed with a silver tea service.

          "Tea?" Dorryn asked and motioned for them to sit. "You haven't introduced me to your companion."

          "My apologies, Ambassador Dorryn," she said. "This is Vulryn of Vix.

          Dorryn acknowledged him with a nod and pressed on. "I'm taking it that neither you nor your grandfather has heard the latest news."

          "News? No." Fayrn worry lines creased her face. She inched forward in her seat. “What’s happened?"

          "A royal caravan has been attacked by a band of Valir," Dorryn said. "What's worse is they destroyed two outlying villages before being captured. The army is still counting the dead. As you can imagine, relations between us and the humans are precarious to say the least."

          "Where?" Fayrn looked at Vulryn.

          "A place called Gotebo," he said. "Wiped out the whole village, I hear. Most of the band has been taken prisoner, but two of the leaders escaped."

          "Do you know who was involved?"

          "No names, but it's just a matter of time," Dorryn said. "The army will get what it wants one way or another. Meanwhile you must be careful and stay close to the embassy. Tempers are running high in the city; you could be hurt."

          “I will do my best to honor your wishes,” Fayrn said. “However, it is imperative that I find Eeryn the Seer.”

          The ambassador’s cup stalled half way to his mouth. Expression oozed from his face leaving behind a vacant stare as if Faryn had grown a second head before his eyes. Dorryn’s hand began to tremble as he placed his tea cup on a nearby table. He rose from his seat and walked to the window without a word. He stood silently looking out for a minute or two before returning to his chair.

          “You don’t know what you’re asking,” he said; his voice unsteady. “Eeryn is sure to be implicated in this atrocity. You must not go anywhere near him. You could wind up in prison or worse.”

          “I appreciate your concern,” she answered. “All the more reason I must find him. Coryn Kel sent an illegal messenger to find Eeryn. The High Council forbade it, but the seer did it anyway. I must intercept that messenger before he gets to Eeryn. Lives hang in the balance.”

          “Well, yes. I can see that,” Dorryn said. “Let me make inquiries. Even with your bodyguard, you must not wander around Shiloh searching for him.”

          “Speed is of the utmost importance,” she said. “If he can’t be located today, I must set out on my own.”          

          “He’s going to be very mad when he finds out you lied to him,” Vulryn told her after they were escorted to a room inside the embassy.

          “Which means,” she said. “We have until the next dispatch arrives to find Bryn.”

          The guest quarters in the embassy were large and open by Valirian standards. Vulryn had a view of the bay. No matter, he felt the walls were closing in on him. He had to get outside. He made a few wrong turns getting there, but made it to the embassy’s courtyard without incident. The air was full of foreign smells; most of them were pleasant enough. None smelled like home. Strange sounds carried over the walls and he could almost feel the crush of people moving on the other side. He was still behind walls; nevertheless, it felt good to be out in the sunlight again.

          After a few turns around the grounds, he wandered over to the gate. A pair of soldiers stood a casual guard spending most of their time smoking. Vulryn produced a pipe from his tunic and one of the guards offered him a light.

          “You planning on going out there?” the guard asked.

          Vulryn took another peek through the gate and shrugged. “I hear it’s not too safe.”

          “Don’t think a guy your size would have much trouble,” the other guard said. “But, it would be best to let things settle down first.”

          “What’s the uproar all about?” Vulryn asked.

          “A human army detachment went out on a patrol,” the first explained. “Out near the Edge they happened on the trail of some smugglers. They began following them and came on this village. Everyone was dead. They found Valirian arrows in some of the dead. The captain sent out a patrol to track them down. Long story, short, the patrol wound up dead. The main body caught up to the smugglers at a place called Manitou. Most of the town was dead by the time they got there. The rest died a little while later. The army captured some of the smugglers; all Valir and is bringing them here for execution.”

          “They should be here in the next day or two,” the other added. “The Ambassador has been called to the palace twice to an earful from the prince.”

          “Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” Vulryn said. “Why would Valir want to kill those people?”

          “Beats the heck out of me,” the guard answered. “But, if you go out there, be careful. I swear, humans don’t mind killing. It’s what they do best.”

          “I’ll keep that in mind,” Vulryn said.

          “Do you think Bryn is mixed up in what happened?” Faryn asked Vulryn after dinner with the ambassador.

          “The timing’s right,” he answered with a shrug. “Tomorrow are we going to that place the ambassador told you about?”

          “No,” she said and a smile touched the corners of her beak. “We’re going tonight. I got these.”

          Faryn pulled a pair of cloaks from a chest. She threw the small one around her shoulders and passed a huge bit of fabric in his direction. Vulryn managed to get his shoulders inside the garment. There was no way it was wrapping around his bulk. He gave her a sheepish smile and a wink. Faryn was not finished with her surprise. Reaching back into the chest she hauled out a length of rope. She tied on end to the railing of her balcony and threw the other end over the side.

          “You first,” she said.

          Vulryn gave the rope a couple of stout tugs. “Are you sure about this?”

          “Get going,” she told him.

          He closed his eyes and slipped over the railing. When the rope held, he opened his eyes again and began to work his way to the ground. He had to stifle a scream when a hand touched his leg. He looked down between his arms to see one of the guards he was smoking with earlier holding the end of the rope. The guard held a finger to his beak signaling for quiet. Faryn was already making her way down. The guard helped her to the ground. She motioned for him to follow and began a graceful lope across the courtyard. They took shelter in the shadow of the wall while the guards checked the gate.

          “Okay,” she whispered. “Keep your head down.”

          She laid a hand on the guard’s arm and mouthed a “thank you” before slipping through the gate. Vulryn followed her onto the street. This girl was nothing if not resourceful. He would have to remind himself often not to underestimate her. Faryn led the way down ever narrowing streets continuing to move away from the center of the city. Eventually, they came to a tangle of passageways wide enough for only foot traffic. Vulryn noticed she made frequent checks of the doors and roofs.

          “Please Creator, don’t let her be lost,” he prayed to himself.

          A moment later a gasp caught in her throat and Faryn pulled him into a doorway. The entryway hid enough of him that he remained unseen by the soldiers passing on a crossing path. They made one more right turn and Faryn stopped to study the way ahead. Something moved above one of the doors in the middle of the block. She nodded, reassured and moved toward it.

          Candlelight spilled through an open door followed closely by the smell of Valirian smoke and beer. For a brief moment Vulryn was homesick. Faryn walked inside as though she belonged there. He followed, but stopped to see what it was above the door that first caught her eye. A large black bird was perched on the remnants of an old sign post suspended above the doorway. It eyed the big blacksmith warily before making a loud croaking sound. Vulryn stabbed a single finger in the bird’s direction.

          A blue haze hung just above the heads of those inside the room. To the right stretched a long wooden bar packed elbow to elbow with every species know to Tettias. The tables scattered around the room were equally crowded. Bar maids turned this way and that swing trays over the heads of seated customers in a twirling dance between the bar and the tables. Faryn stopped a few feet inside to look around the room.

          “Nice place,” Vulryn said from over her shoulder. “Quaint.”

          Faryn waved for him to follow and began to work her way through the crowd. Her destination soon became obvious. In one corner sat a thin figure nearly swallowed up by a cloak of leaves. A seer for sure; Eeryn by conjecture.

          “Faryn Kor, granddaughter of my old friend and my old enemy,” the cloaked figure said. “I trust that I wasn’t too hard to find. And who is this giant that follows you?”

          “This is Vulryn the blacksmith of Vix,” she said.

          “Sit, my friends,” Eeryn pointed to a pair of empty chairs. “Tell me why you have stolen, lied and defied the High Council to come see me.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I Am Poem

I Am Poem

I am a fun girl who chases her dream.
I wonder what I’ll be when I grow up.
I hear songs in my head playing again and again.
I see myself in the future writing books.
I want to be a successful person.
I am a fun girl who chases her dreams.

I pretend that I have written many books.
I worry if my dreams will ever get crushed.
I cry when I’m happy and sad.
I am a fun girl who chases her dreams.

I understand a lot of things about writing stories.
I say that I could be an author someday.
I dream to be an illustrator too.
I try to be a good person
I hope to write a chapter book someday.
I am a fun girl who chases her dreams.

This poem was written several years ago. The young lady who wrote it is about to turn twenty and still chasing her dreams. Her name is Morgan LaFountain. She'll be embarrassed by the picture, but she's so cute I had to include it.

Chatter #19

Getting over a three day headache and looking forward to an evening on the town in Seattle. I’ve spent most of the day trying to refurbish the In Cawhoots web site. Made some progress, but for the most part it exceeds the limits of my medication. I go to the Help section occasionally for direction. It’s not much help. I get about a half dozen words into the answers before my head is aching again and I’m wondering “what the hell did they just say?” I think I’m going to have to resort to help from someone who speaks the language---maybe one of the grand-kids. Maybe they can teach me to tweet too.
On a happier note, I have made some progress on finally getting Bryn to Shiloh in the next couple of chapters. I’ll be working on that today if that Dragon and Dove thing will let me. I’ve been having fun writing that. I hope to build it into a complete story with original art. Any artists out there?
Let me know if you have a web site and would like me to put a banner on In Cawhoots. If you don’t have time just leave your door unlocked. I’ll sneak in and steal one. I hope to learn how to link to FB pages for my friends with interesting pages.
I must be feeling optimistic today to think I’ll live long enough to learn all that crap. Well, why not? I didn’t think I’d live this long and I’m still here. Recently someone playfully suggested I open a real brick and mortar Raven and Owl. Here’s the real kicker--I’m liking the idea. The Puget sound area could always stand another pub.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dragon and Dove --- Beginnings

Upon the plain of Narden
Back in the days of old
Walked a lovely maiden
Of who the story’s told.

How she moved with gentle grace,
Countenance fair and bright.
Smiles from her face, 
Turned darkness into light.

She was the only daughter,
Of a king both rich and sage.
Minstrels sand songs of her,
She filled the poet’s page.

Her voice was sweet as honey,
Like the cooing of a dove.
Her eyes soft and sunny,
Filled with peace and love.

She traveled o’er the plain,
Touched commoner and lord.
Against the day she would reign,
The kingdom’s hopes were stored. 

Princes came from every land,
The brave, the true and smart.
Many bowed to kiss her hand,
To none she gave her heart.

From the sea mists came,
A mariner brave and bold,
Without a royal name,
No silver, no gold.

His ship heavy with guns,
Rode swift upon the water.
This seventh of seven sons,
Intrigued the princess daughter.

Caring not for social graces,
Or royal etiquette’s demand,
No thought for their places,
He dared to kiss her hand.
Caught, she was enraptured,
Blinded from the start.
So too the mariner captured,
Imprisoned by his heart.

Lost in love forbidden,
Parted by royal decree.
But love could not be hidden,
Eyes could not unsee.

Word found the king,
His law was disobeyed.
Reeling with betrayal’s sting,
He flew into a rage.

Royal wrath ignited malice
Wisdom from him flew.
Soft words fled the palace,
Cold, hard, hatred grew.

The king commanded his dove,
Forsake the vagabond,
End her misplaced love,
Royal robes put on.

Love could not forsake
Commandment could not heed.
One path left to take,
One answer to her need.

Running before shouted alarms,
She must not fail,
Must reach his loving arms,
In his ship set sail.

Stone walls cannot a prison make,
A lock that none could tell,
Was set for safety’s sake,
Inside a wicked spell.

Crossing o’er the threshold,
Released a potent curse.
Of paternal rage untold
Whispered in a mage’s verse.

A dove of the day was she,
Living in the light.
A scaled dragon he,
Creature of the night.

Locked forever, passing ever
So near, yet so far.
Feather and claw touching never,
Their love worn like a scar. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Pub Chatter #18

     I'm sitting here in an empty pub trying to make sense of things. Being a handsome writer with a rapier wit and dashing personality isn't as easy as I make it look. There's a lot of work that goes into it. Never is that more true than when I reach the middle of a story.

     When you reach the guts of a story, the honeymoon is over. The gloss has worn off the bright, shining idea that sparked the imagination. The excitement of the end is still far away. I want to get there but it keeps slipping away like the growing hall in horror movies. Meanwhile the story is nagging at me to get to work. Somewhere deep down I want to work on it but all these good looking ideas keep strolling by in my head tempting me to chase after their promises of new love. Suddenly, I want to do the dishes, clean the house and color code my sock drawer.

     Writing has become work. I want to jump in bed; pull the covers over my head and never come out and look at the blank page with the blinking cursor. This is no man's land where writers and stories die of starvation. At this point sheer stubbornness and heartless tenacity are more important than talent and literary skills. I try to tell myself that it is only a first draft, I can fix it later---just write something---anything. But I tell lies for a hobby. Why should I believe me now?

     Oh, look the dog's water bowl is empty.

Chapter 20 Saving Gotebo

Chapter 20

One Eye set a steady pace away from the wounded pursuers. It might be morning before he caught up with Bryn and the refugees from Gotebo. According to Wynn, it would be another day’s travel from there to Manitou. He had reduced the size and pace of the soldiers. They would continue to follow if for  no other reason than that Manitou was the shortest route back to their main body. But, it was beginning to look like the refugees would get there first.
As he topped a small hill, he was greeted by the glow of a campfire burning in the shallow valley.One Eye left the road keeping below the crest of the hill. He worked through the cover of the roadside woods to peer into the camp. A hissed curse slipped from his lips. He stood and marched down the hill.
“What are you doing?” he asked when he reached the camp. “Did I just risk my neck for nothing?”
“Just look at them,” Bryn waved a hand over the prostrate forms huddled around the fire.
“What happened?” One Eye looked at Wynn’s swollen face and hands.
“Bees,” Bryn said with a sigh.
One Eye stared at him as if Bryn had just sprouted a third eye. Bryn sighed again.
“They heard bees; thought honey and there was no stopping them,” he explained.”They ate well, but are paying the price for it now.”
“So I see,” One Eye said. “It may be just a down payment.”
Bryn’s head bobbed agreement. One Eye could see the strain on his face and read his friend’s thoughts.
“It’s not your fault,” he said. “It ain’t even their fault, starving dinks. I know that doesn’t our situation. Those soldiers are licking their wounds right now. Come morning, they will be crawling up our behind with a big mad on and disruptors to express it with. Let’s go break the news.”
One Eye snatched Wynn up by the neck and slapped him across a bloated cheek. Wynn screamed in pain. Satisfied that he had their attention, One Eye drug the boy around the fire to where Iko stirred from a fitful slumber. He grabbed the human leader by the collar and hauled her upright; pulling her face an inch from his beak.
“Damn humans,” he growled. Their heads swung in time to his shaking. “Now, you two listen like your miserable lives depended on it, because they do. Get these people on their feet and moving up that road. And do it now.”
He dropped the moaning humans to the ground; looming over them with a glare.
“Move,” he shouted when the didn’t immediately follow his order.
“We will not,” Iko shouted back at him.
“You will,” One Eye said. “I just risked my life for you worthless humans. By the Creator, if you don’t do exactly as I say. If you don’t we will leave you here to deal with your kind all alone.”
“You would just leave us here?” Iko glared back at him.
Bryn stepped between the two of them. It was Iko he looked in the eye.
“In a heartbeat,” he assured her. “One Eye is right. We have done our duty by you. You were hungry, starving; I get it. That does not change a thing. Maybe you are ready to sell your lives for a mouthful of honey, but we are not selling ours that cheaply.”
“Now, get these miserable dinks on the road,” One Eye ordered. “We’ll try to hold off the soldiers. That or lay back down by the fire and let us be on our way.”
Bryn nodded agreement. Iko’s eyes held his for a moment longer. Bryn refused to look away. The moment stretched out and One Eye shifted uneasily. Finally, Iko blinked.
“Everyone up,” she said. “We must be on the move.”
“They are weak and hurting,” Bryn told her. “I understand, but if you don’t keep them moving, they will be dead. Do you understand?”
“Yessss,” she hissed at him.
“Good,” Bryn said. “Wait for us in Manitou. If we don’t arrive a day behind you, we didn’t survive. Do what you must for your people.”
“I’m staying with you,” Wynn spoke up. “Iko can care for them without me. She’s done it before.”
Bryn looked at One Eye and back to Wynn. His own image clouded over the boys face for just a moment. He could not refuse.
“Do your duty as you see it,” Bryn pronounced.

The soldiers were camped in the meadow Bryn’s company occupied the day before. The litters of wounded were arranged close to the fire. Two of the men were standing watch. One was positioned where the trees closed back on the road. The other paced around the periphery of the firelight. Bryn took silent inventory. One Eye assured him that five were dead. He counted another six wounded. That left nine able bodied soldiers.
“Three to one not the best odds,” he told himself.
‬One Eye pointed at the nearby sentry and motioned for Wynn to follow.‭ ‬Twenty yards from the guard,‭ ‬heleft the boy in the shelter of a thick oak tree and worked his way through the branches to a position above the man.‭ ‬He dropped without a sound.‭ ‬His blade found the human's throat.‭ ‬One Eye pushed the man's jaw against the blade as he drew it across the neck severing jugulars and trachea.‭ ‬Blood splattered and bubbled covering One Eye's face and hands.‭ ‬He kept a tight hold on the sputtering,‭ ‬dancing human until he was still.‭ ‬He let the lifeless body drop into the spreading pool of its own blood before stripping off the sentry's coat and hat.
‬He wiped as much of the blood away as possible and signalled for Wynn to join him.‭ ‬Over whispered protests,‭ ‬Wynn slipped into the stained coat and pulled the hat low on his head.‭ ‬One Eye positioned the boy in the senty's place.‭ ‬After a quick explanation,‭ ‬he left the boy under the tree and returned to Bryn's side.‭ ‬The two exchanged nods.‭ ‬Bryn went left‭; ‬One Eye went right taking up positions opposite each other.

‬Bryn searched the trees on the far side of the camp until a flash of movement caught his eye.‭ ‬One Eye was in position.‭ ‬Bryn whistled the call of a night hawk.‭ ‬The twack of One Eye's bow answered.‭ ‬Bryn's fingers released their grip on the taut bowstring.‭ ‬a second later an arrow sprouted from the back of the sentry walking the perimeter.‭ ‬One Eye's shot landed in the road near Wynn.

"‬Attack‭! ‬Attack‭!" ‬Wynn sounded the alarm.

‬Soldiers scrambled from their tents pulling on their pants and fumbling for weapons.‭ ‬Wynn screamed and fell to the ground.‭ ‬Soldiers fanned out around their captain and rushed to the aid of their downed companions.‭ ‬Bryn and One Eye picked off those that attended the dead sentry in the middle of the camp.‭ ‬Except for the captain,‭ ‬the soldiers ran for cover.‭ ‬The captain continued to where wynn had fallen.‭ ‬He bent down to see about his wounded soldier and Wynn plunged a dagger into the man's chest.

‬Wynn was up and running away from the camp before the soldiers realized what had happened to their leader.‭ ‬Except for a few arrows fired as the Valir retreated,‭ ‬the battle was over.‭ ‬Bryn's muscles ached.‭ ‬Twice he slowed to a limping gait trying to massage the cramps away.‭ ‬The others fared no better,‭ ‬but they kept going.‭ ‬One Eye half carried Wynn the last quarter mile.‭

They need not have pushed themselves so hard.The humans lost their taste for blood.‭ ‬They retreated back into camp after a short pursuit.‭  ‬The trio caught up to the refugees an hour before sunrise.‭ ‬The road to Manitou was theirs.‭