Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home
Abigail-Madison Chase

Destiny Broussard is headed home to Bayou Grove, Louisiana after 21 years. She thought she could leave and never return. What she will find will keep her home forever.

Chapter 1 Headed Home

I am headed home.I am headed home. Maybe if I repeat the words enough I will become comfortable with the idea of going home.

My mother died last week and after much debate and a pleading phone call from my dad I''m headed to Bayou Grove, Louisiana. 21 years ago is a long time to be away from home. Except for the occasional visit from my parents and my brother I never think about setting foot in the state of Louisiana.

The stench of the forbidden is so heavy when my family comes to visit I usually put my parents up at a local hotel and forbid them from bringing anything from home to my home. I even buy them new clothes and shoes to wear while they are in Cooper Creek, South Dakota. I settled here after college. I teach 1st grade at Cooper Creek Elementary.

It was a long time ago but I still remember packing my car and leaving at the stroke of midnight thinking I would never come back to Bayou Grove again. Dad’s call changed all that.

I don’t think of Bayou Grove often but when I do I smile. Bayou Grove is a beautiful town in Plaquemine Parish which lies on the east side of the Red River. The courthouse is the seat of the parish and folks from far and wide come to the Bayou Grove for trails, meetings and to pay taxes.

I grew up on Lane Street right next door to the Holman Plantation. My mom taught 1st grade at Grove Elementary School my father owned a Broussard’s Tire Shop. I was the only child until I was 16 when my mom gave birth to my little brother Kyle.

I was your typical country girl enjoying the outdoors. My father and I use to hunt and fish together every weekend. My grandparents lived across the street. It was the ideal life.

I turn 30 tomorrow. I planned to spend my birthday in Paris instead I am headed home to bury my mother. Dad never said what she died of but I figure magic was involved. That’s the reason I headed out of town at midnight 21 years ago magic. The Bayou is full of secrets and magic is one of them.

Magic seems unbelievable to folks outside the Bayou. Those of us who live her know no story is complete without a little magic or good gossip.

Nothing much happens in the Groves that the local gossips don’t know about. Like most small towns the local gossips are well known.

Ronda Fayette is the keep of all thing not her business. On Sundays after church she makes her rounds to most folk’s homes eating and sharing all she’s heard during the week. Ronda is the CNN of the Bayou she’s in every home and if you want to know what’s going on she can and will expose your story to everyone. It does help that her father is the editor of the Grover Press the parish newspaper.

I have to pass Ronda’s before I make it home so I suppose everyone will know the prodigal daughter has returned.

I have a load of dread packed in my car and I get the feeling I may never leaving Bayou Grove again.

RAPT Chapter 1

By: Tami Snow

Buried in my chest my heart clicks like Scarab wings.

I hear you, world. But I cannot speak.

Nor feel.

Nor breathe.

I am locked up, bound in a prison of linen and resin, trapped for eternity.

Music caresses the air, but my limbs cannot be carried in dance.

The sweet smells of libations tickle my senses, but nay I cannot drink.

I track the star cycles in my heart, but in my eyes they glitter not.

The seed of the eternal was planted, passed to daughters through mothers.

They that reside, once again, in the heavens bestowed the elixir of the everlasting.

It was they who enabled the curse to be brought forth.

My curse.



1330 B.C.

Amarna, Egypt

The comforting sound of wind spattering sand against the outer wall of the palace soothes me. Spread out on reed thrushes, I watch Ankhesenpaaten, my older sister. She pulls her ivory comb through dark locks. She is Queen now, tied in marriage to our younger brother the beloved pharaoh Tut.

The palace is empty of the laughter that once echoed through its limestone halls. Our belongings packed into trunks on a caravan moving toward Thebes. We will soon follow.

I roll onto my back and allow my eyes to trace the loops and curls that grow out from the blooms of blue lotus flowers above me. They cling to the ceiling in a profusion of gold painted tangles. Babi chitters at my feet and nibbles on a plump fig.

“Leave us,” she directs the handmaidens. We watch them move swiftly through the linen curtain that separates us from the outside world. “My dearest, Neferet,” she says, moving toward me. Her voice is sad. With gentle fingers she touches the top of my head.

I can’t help but smile, hearing the nickname bestowed upon me by our father, the beloved pharaoh Akhenaten. His enormous energy had brought me much happiness. Our lives have, so distinctly, been altered in the short years of his absence.

I meet her glittering eyes with mine. “Sister,” my words are meant to soothe, “You need not worry so. I shall be fine.”

She sighs. “You are old enough in years to take a husband.” She folds her arms across her chest; the bracelets that encircle them jingle a haphazard melody.

We have discussed this subject many times and my answer remains the same. “I do not wish to marry. I wish to travel and see the world,” I say haughtily.

“You live with your head in the clouds.” She sits down next to me, and sweeps a strand of hair away from my forehead. “Many an appropriate suitor has been brought before you. Why do you refuse?”

“Why would I accept? The Family lineage is secured by your marriage. Though I do not gather what satisfaction you shall reap, marrying a boy.” I press my lips together in a hard line, attempting to hold my laughter inside.

Her features remain soft. “The sanctity of marriage is not entered into simply for gratification of restless limbs.”

“I agree Sister, but some gratification is necessary, nay?” Heat rises to my cheeks, and hers turn red like the pyramid of Sneferu. Her skin, the color of Nile clay, is powdered with golden dust.

Her eyes narrow. I can see her love for me, swimming in their depths. “You forget yourself. We are daughters of the much beloved, Nefertiti. You, my sweet sister, with your bountiful beauty, may choose any man whom would bring lands or power to expand the reaches of our Great Kingdom.”

“I want not any man of power or privilege for the simple desire to accumulate goods or lands. I want he who is tender and worldly and brave. He, who through soothing and sensual words, will cause my heart to quicken and my loins to ache.” I flutter my eyelashes and purse my lips. Never has the thought of tying myself to anyone, except for reasons of love or making love, flitted through my mind.

Slowly, her head shakes. “Primal are your desires, Neferet. Trouble, I fear, is on your horizon.” She plucks a grape from a bowl sitting on the low lying table next to us and lobs it at my head. We laugh as it bounces off my shoulder, rolling toward the doorway of her sleeping quarters. Babi, my baby monkey, scampers to retrieve it.

I sit up and embrace her. “To Amun I have beseeched your eternal joy.”

“And to you, as well, dear Neferet. If only you might peel your gaze from the fair haired champions,”—she giggles—, “perhaps then you might make our mother smile.”

“Unlikely is she to be pleased beyond your accomplishments.” I look down into my lap to play with my henna stained fingers. My shoulders rise then fall under the weight of a disappointment I haven’t felt since Akhenaten, our father, was removed as pharaoh. Our mother, Nefertiti, under false name, ruled Egypt in his shadow until which time our blood line was prepared for the continuation of rule under Tutankhaten, our half brother. Things haven’t felt the same since.

She kisses my forehead. “You know not what you say. Who in this chamber has been blessed her namesake?”

I take a deep breath and allow myself a small smile. She smells of cinnamon and myrrh laced with lily.

Someone on the other side of the linen curtain clears his throat.

“You may enter,” Ankhesenpaaten says.

I marvel at her beauty, her regality. She looks so similar to our father with large eyes the color of aged resin.

He enters and kneels. “The Great Mother has summoned you both to her chambers,” he says, peeking up at my sister. His skin is pale and his hair is the color of burnished wheat. I guess him to be the same in years as I, fourteen.

I look at Ankhesenpaaten. A small grin pulls at her reddened lips and she raises her eyebrows, motioning slyly toward the kneeling boy. Indeed, she knows how I favor him.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tattooed My Soul

Tattooed my Soul

By: Tami Snow

Tribal like, your tendrils capture

All that's contained this tender skin

Life-force trembling happy wanting

Drawing me to you from within

Sparrows fly my heart-filled rapture

Forever hypnotized by your gaze

Clinging deeply, willingly captured

My desire traverses easy days

Touch me will you, with delicate fingers

Inject the ink that makes me yours

A soul tattooed will always linger

Always wanting, longing more

Saturday, August 28, 2010

THE WEEK a poetic attempt by Alba Arango

Monday is the day worth forgetting, while
Tuesday sees the early glimpse of a smile.
By Wednesday the mouth has relearned to speak
so Thursday's humor can be tongue-and-cheek.
Our hearts rejoice and beat ‘cause it's Friday,
then Saturday we can wine, dine, and play.
On Sunday we must relax and repent
and wonder how all our time we have spent.
We claim we learn from the mistakes we make
when we stray from the ideals we have set.
But still, temptation finds a way to break
our intentions so pure, but now in debt
to a master, so cruel, our souls, so bleak,
as we bow to the one, our owner, The Week.

Friday, August 27, 2010

And now for something completely different

Here is a promo that should be coming out next week.

I have several Graphic Novel and Comic Book projects that I am currently working on. A friend of mine, Cyril Van Der Haegen, (If you want to see some impressive art, google him) came to me with an alternate DC universe idea and wanted me to write for it.

This promo piece is set back in the Norse days and is about... well, I will let you figure out what it is about.

My issue is, this is the first piece of poetry I have ever written. Well, other than my MADisms. But, I don't really see them as poetry - more my depraved insanity seeping out onto the page. Still, I would love some feedback. Is there any stanzas that stick out as odd? Anything that is confusing? Any advice on comma placement? (I am terrible with commas!)

I have sent this to two of my editors this morning, but it will be a few days before I hear back from them. I would love to hear your thoughts.



Page 0
A legend found in an ancient lair,

From the time of Jötnar and Aesir,

“Three Moons on Midgard shall ascend,

Náir from Hel on the land descend.”

Free as a wolf with the heart of a crow,

of Perun is born a child pale as snow.

Father names him Hræzla, and Mother sheds no tear.

She will weep for him later, for his name means fear.

Page 1
A babe no more, he stares with boldness,

as pyres burn against winter’s coldness.

The village of God's Thame now lays in silence,

with their warning fires screaming of violence.

Laugh the devils, loud as wind,

damned to live a life of sin.

Page 2
Laughing terrors by Mor-Ríoghain led,

slay and burn, their steel is fed.

Laugh the devils, swift as wind,

in wicked heart, bloodlust rescind.

The screams of pain it was so said,

were loud enough to wake the dead.

Page 3
Beshrew'd chaos, the child is tossed.

Yet, they spare him to his own loss.

Dance Macabre, Tarentelle grim,

one live witness left by their whim.

Page 4
Riseth then the Ghost of Dawn,

to smile with bane at the withdrawn.

The devils left with what they sought,

leaving the boy the silence they brought.

Page 5
When starving Death did then appear,

from bone the flesh their teeth did shear

Then turned an eye to fresher prey,

yet, fate did intervene that day.

The lone hunter, Aelf the Red

stood against the Death, and it fled.

Wise and kind like the seers old,

he admires the child who remains bold.

Page 6
The child he trained to always strive,

in a hostile world to grow and thrive.

To hunt, to kill, in deadly silence,

not to dwell on thoughts of violence.

By any means found survive the day,

yet, in the boy’s heart did vengeance stay.

Page 7:
A child no more, he now is King,

with wealth and power did this bring.

Yet, in God’s Thame remains a curse.

He could not rest, no matter how fat his purse.

Mother and father, their bones laid to rest,

their murders burned deep in his chest.

His pain and grief was his captor.

From the dark, he still heard the laughter.

Page 8:

Moons three on one night did arise,

and death by land and sea remise.

Remembered sails then did appear.

He now knew why his name meant fear.

Surrounded by Death, his did proclaim,

“I will silence the laughter in God's Thame!”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Seven-Inch Vinyl excerpt - Donald Riggio

It had been raining all day. A band of severe thunderstorms swept in eastward off the lake. The air grew heavy; a warm breeze preceded each new downfall. Inside, they listened to the radio, a favorite new pastime. Raindrops clattered against the windowpanes when the downpours were at their heaviest. Flashes of lightning accompanied rumblings of thunder, distant at first, then closer and, in time, distant again as each cell moved off.
“Do you still want to read more of my poems?” Janet asked.
Joseph nodded and smiled.
“C’mon, I keep them up in my room.”
She skipped up the stairs ahead of him. Joseph arrived on the upper landing pausing at the doorway to her room. He inched forward, taking note of the scent of her favorite perfume, the stuffed animals and dolls positioned neatly atop her dresser and the two posters on the wall across from her bed.
He found Janet on her hands and knees, partway under the bed like some burrowing gopher. When she came out she held several tattered composition notebooks she had squirreled away under there. She stood clutching the books close to her body.
She motioned for Joseph to sit with her on the edge of her bed. She seemed unsure as to whether she wanted to carry through with her offer. Joseph sat down, finding her mattress girlishly soft. Janet held the books out and he took them.
“If you laugh at me, I’ll never speak to you again, I swear.” An idle threat, she knew she’d never be able to carry out.
“Can’t I laugh if I think they’re funny?”
“See!” Her reaction was girlish. She hopped to her feet, placed her hands on her hips and stamped one foot on the floor. Punching him hard in his arm, she tried to yank the notebooks away but his grip wouldn’t allow it. When Joseph realized she was serious he offered the books back to her.
“Indian giver,” he teased.
“No, go ahead. You can read them.”
As he opened the first book, Janet shimmied away to the head of the bed. She picked up one of her pillows and held it in front of her body like a shield. She bit on the edge of the pillowcase, anxious for his reaction.
She passed time focusing on the pitter-patter of the rain on the roof as Joseph read the book (cover to cover). He found a wonderful mixture of lighthearted, teenage observances told in short, melodic verse about things like dragonflies, sleeping cats and sad eyed puppies. Other, longer pieces were more mature, encompassing deep, emotional feelings like the dream of falling in love or the heartache of losing someone very near and dear. The poems seemed to sing to him from the thin blue lines on which they were written.
“Just a lot of silly girl stuff, huh?” she asked.
He looked back at her over his shoulder. “Some of it is, yes. But all of them are really wonderful, even the silly ones. I’ll bet you could have these published in a book someday.”
He put the notebook on the bed, inched closer to Janet and took her into his arms. He kissed her deeply. Joseph gently moved her down flat on the bed, and (then) positioned himself almost on top of her.
They took a big risk. If Vince came home early and discovered them, there was no telling what he might do. They were both beyond caring.
Joseph slid a hand down along the small of her back passed her waist until he cupped the cheek of her backside, He pulled her closer to him. Janet reached under his shirt seeking out his scar. She traced it gently with her fingertips to show that it was just another part of his body she wanted to explore.
Joseph fumbled with the button of Janet’s shorts. He managed to get it open but had difficulty making further progress. Janet lifted her lower body off the bed. She reached down with both hands, to slide her shorts and panties down along her legs, to her ankles where she shook them off with her feet. She trembled when Joseph touched her bare abdomen. His slow, tentative manner made it clear that he hadn’t much experience with other girls. That made this magic moment even more magical.
Her body tensed. Joseph was about to find out that she wasn’t a virgin. How would he react? What would he think about her?
But, in what felt like the very next heartbeat, he was there, touching that private part of her body she willingly shared with him. Emboldened by her reactions, Joseph moved a finger inside her. Flames of passion heated their blood. Janet welcomed his explorations.
They paused long enough for each of them to get fully undressed and Joseph once again took control in a delicate, loving manner. He raised himself over her naked body. Janet bent her knees and parted her legs to receive him. She closed her eyes as he moved downward to penetrate her. Joseph moved with slow easy thrusts and Janet reacted in kind until they were moving in a fluid motion, almost in sync with the rhythm of the rain still falling outside.
Janet gave in to her passion allowing herself to moan as her body reached a shuddering orgasm. Joseph moved toward climax. It took every ounce of effort he could muster to pull away from Janet’s body at the last possible second.
The young lovers lay spent and breathless for what seemed like a long time. When they gained some sense of composure, Janet got up and left the bedroom. She returned with a washcloth wet with warm water and a little bit of soap. She washed him without saying a word. The rain had stopped by the time they got dressed to go downstairs. They were sitting together on the porch when Vince got home.

Heaven Help Us....Chapter One (part 2)

Brothers Carlos and Roberto loved their job. Clerical Monks in the Vatican’s little-known Office of Historical Continuity, they were charged with what they were told was the single most important job in the whole of Christendom and maybe even in the history of the world.

For generations, a few lucky Vatican servants had been the chosen guardians of a gem the size of a large fist.  For the past 55 years the task had been theirs and theirs alone.

“Don’t take your eyes off it for a second,” said the ageing Cardinal David Carlotta, who had sat down with them on that joyous first day in his Vatican apartment all those years ago, and told them of their glorious and highly secret appointment.

“There are no two like you,” he said, full of gravity and importance. “The  families of Castanada and Lupi have been chosen to be guardians of the single most important item in the whole of the Vatican’s history.”

The brothers looked at each other, each wondering what could be so important... and why they hadn’t heard of it before. He looked at them sternly, then stood. “Come with me.”                        

Walking out through the door behind the old man, Carlos whispered to Roberto, “You see! I knew we were destined for great things.”
After half an hour’s walking through endless corridors and down countless flights of stairs, the three arrived at the largest and oldest-looking wooden door Carlos and Roberto had ever seen.

The Cardinal reached out a bony fist and knocked twice on the dark, ancient wood. Nothing happened. He looked at the two young men, frowned, coughed and knocked twice again.
“What’s all the noise about,” said a frail, croaky voice from the other side of the door and, after a jangling of keys and sliding of bolts, it opened to reveal possibly the oldest, most wrinkled and misshapen monk the two young men had ever seen.
“Good evening, Brother Dominic,” said the Cardinal, almost reverentially. “These are the next two.”
“Thank God,” said Monk, exhaustion written all over his face. “Does that mean we can get a decent night’s sleep now?”
“It does,” said the Cardinal, patting the old man on the shoulder.
“’Bout time. It’s been 74 years and I could do with a bit of a lie-in.”
The Cardinal gestured for the two young monks to enter the small, cell-like room, sparsely furnished with two old beds, one armchair and a small dining table with chair. Another uncomfortable-looking chair sat in front of a round table which held a glass box.
In the armchair sat another equally ancient monk, snoring. At the sound of the trio entering the room, the second priest awoke with a start. “Who are you?”
“That’s not very hospitable,” said Brother Dominic. “Our time’s up. These are the lucky two who get to take over.”
He walked slowly over to his old companion and helped him to his feet, leaving the newcomers to watch as the pair painfully shuffled out of the room.
“My sons,” said the Cardinal, gesturing to the glass box, “what you see before you is nothing less than the most important item the Vatican possesses. The biggest discovery in the history of mankind.”
“What...more important than the holy cross,"  blurted Carlos, astonished.

The Cardinal nodded slowly.
The young men looked at each other.
Roberto was the elder of the two and, as such, was in theory the more responsible and sensible. Tall and slender, he had a broad face, intelligent eyes and, some said, intelligent ears, too. “More important than the sacred Arc or the Image of our Lord on that bit of cloth?” he asked, softly.
“Hard to believe, but yes, even more important than those.”
Carlos gasped. He was the younger of the two and, in theory, the more easily led and headstrong. He was a slightly undersized member of the brown-robed bretheren, with jet black hair and a hook nose that made him look distinctly like a human-vulture hybrid.
“Holy shit of God,” he blurted.
“If we had that, it would be even more important than that, too” said the Cardinal. “The Holy Father himself has deemed this so important and so secret that even though you will be its’ guardians from now on, you cannot know what it is.”
“It’s a crystal,” said Carlos, shrugging his shoulders and wondering what the fuss was all about.
“Very observant,” said the Cardinal. “But it’s a lot more that just that.”
Roberto slapped Carlos on the back of the head. “Slug!” he hissed. “It doesn’t matter what it is. If ‘Papa’ wants us to look after it till the ends of the earth, then that’s just what we will do!”
“Shit!” the smaller monk exclaimed, and rubbed his head furiously.
Roberto took the Cardinal’s hand and kissed the holy ring on his middle finger. “I apologise for the rudeness and stupidity of my brother.”
The Cardinal’s face darkened. “This is your task.  You will each, in turn, watch the crystal. You will not take your eyes off it. Not for a second. You can eat, sleep and rest in shifts. And you will do this until you are either relieved or...until the dark heart of the crystal changes shape.”
“Pardon your Eminence, but what shape will it change into?” asked Roberto, trying to imagine what wonders there were locked inside this mysterious gem.
“That I cannot say,” said the Cardinal. “But if it ever happens...the second it happens...you will press that button over there on the wall.”
He pointed to a red button on the wall next to the door.
“Is all that clear?” he asked.
“What about eating and....you know....the other?” enquired Carlos, almost too embarrassed to ask.
“There’s a kitchen through that door over there, for snacks and tea and coffee,” said the Cardinal, pointing to a door on the far wall. “Your meals will be brought to you every day. And as for ‘the other’ if you look behind that screen over there, you’ll find another door. Open it and you’ll find the toilet, washbasin and shower. Any more questions?”
The two silently shook their heads.
The Cardinal looked at them both for long seconds, then did something totally unexpected. He stepped forwards and hugged each one in turn, almost paternally, patting their backs softly.
Then he crossed himself and walked out of the room, closing the door behind him, leaving the two young monks in a silence that clawed at them through their garments.
“Ok....you first,” said Carlos.
“Bugger that for a lark. You take first watch!”
Carlos looked at his friend, smiled and sat down on the chair in front of the crystal. “Six hours on, six hours off,” he said. “That ok with you?”
“Peachy,” said Roberto, settling down in the armchair and closing his eyes.
Carlos looked at the black heart of the crystal and tried to clear his mind. 
Fifty five years later he screamed.
Roberto leapt up from his sleep, upending the half-finished coffee sitting precariously on the arm of the chair. “Whooooa.....”
Whatever word he was thinking of saying didn’t even get the chance to finish itself off. He looked over to Carlos, who by now was up off the chair and pacing back and forth, stopping regularly to look at the crystal, muttering, “shit” repeatedly.
Carlos looked at him. “The damned thing looked at me!”
Roberto sighed, “I think you’ve been looking at it for too long my friend.”
“No...No...” said Carlos, grabbing Roberto’s sleeve and dragging him over to the table.

“Now...you look at it and tell me what you see.”
Roberto, frowing, sat down in the chair and stared into the crystal. “Holy Mother of God!” he shouted. “Is that an eye?”
Carlos crossed himself and looked upwards. “ Thank you God...thank you for keeping our minds clear for this moment. Thank you for choosing us to be the instruments of your miracle!” He turned to Roberto. “What the hell do we do now?”            
“The bell,” said Roberto. “Push the bell button!”
You push it...you’re taller!” exclaimed the younger monk. “I’m too small for that kind of responsibility.” In fact he was too scared for that kind of responsibility. 
Roberto grunted, raced to the door and pushed the large red button on the box halfway up the wall.
Nothing happened.
He pounded the button with his fist. “Fine! Sit around for fifty five years waiting
for something we don’t know anything about to happen and then when it does happen...we can’t tell anyone!”
Suddenly, they became aware of running feet. Lots of them. The sound got closer and closer and then stopped outside the door. Then there was lots of gasping, coughing  and wheezing.
Roberto opened the door and was met by a crowd of monks, priests, nuns, cardinals, archbishops and assorted Vatican employees, all in various states of undress. A small, self-important looking, bespectacled priest at the front of the crowd looked at him and demanded: “Well...where’s the fire?”
“Fire?” said Roberto, “what fire?”
“You heard the fire bell, didn’t you? This is our gathering point. It has been for the last ten years. Don’t tell me somebody set off the bloody fire alarm by mistake?”
There were groans from the crowd behind him and a very tall, half-dressed cleric hissed, “If this is another one of your ruses, Father Scarpetta, and something funny’s hapened to my poker hand when we get back, may you die of syphillis and go to hell!”
Fire alarm? What fire alarm? And who are you?” said Roberto, looking at the small priest.

“Father David Munroe, Head Researcher for the office of Cardinal Alfredo Bonetti, Chief Vatican Historian,” the priest said, rather pompously.
“Well...Head Researcher,” said Roberto, grabbing him by his arm and dragging him into the room, “you come with me. The rest of you, stay there!”  He slammed the door closed and pulled the squealing, protesting priest over to the table with the crystal.
“Right,” he said, pointing to the crystal.  “We’ve been guarding this for the past fifty five years and now the damned thing’s changed and we were told to ring that bell if it ever did change and now it has and we rung the bell and we don’t know what to do now. Okay?”
Munroe reached inside his pocket and took out a handkerchief. He took off his glasses, breathed on and wiped the lenses, put them back on again and looked closely at the crystal.
He abruptly backed away, knocking over the chair and was only stopped from falling over by Roberto who caught him from behind.
“Oh,” he said, a mixture of surprise and panic in his voice.
“Oh exactly!” exclaimed Carlos. “Oh as in ...’Oh bugger what happens now?’  We don’t know what the thing is or what it does. But we’ve been thinking about it for fifty five years and we think that you should at least call the Pope!”
“Well...I know what it is,” said the priest, gulping and beginning to turn a whiter shade of pale. “And if we don’t act really, really fast, we’re all up the creek!”

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Warlord's Dust - Part 1 - Chapter 1 (a)


Some people believe in destiny.
They believe that their life’s story was written long before they were even born.
I believe this is almost true.
For, I believe we were also given the eraser.



His jaw hurt. The combination of pain and alcohol made his head spin. He could feel the blood on his chin as it dripped from his rapidly swelling lip. He lay on his hands and knees, trying to force his eyes to focus on the dirt of the street.
"If I see your face in here again, ya won't be leavin' alive."
Glancing up the steps that led to the tavern, he saw the blurry form of the large bar keeper who had just escorted him out standing in the doorway. He watched the man turn and re-entered the bar. Shaking his head once more in an attempt to clear it, he spied a small boy who was staring at him. "Wha' are you lookin' at?" he scowled.
The boy giggled—giggled!—then ran into the bar.

The boy loved this bar. It was the best entertainment short of the Grand Coliseum. As with most nights, the main room was crowded and he was soon lost in a tide of bodies. Smoke from the wall-torches filled the air with a grayish tint. It was not an unusual tavern with its bar against one wall and tables scattered throughout the room. The only two exits were its large wooden front door, and a smaller wooden door behind the bar that the boy presumed led to the kitchen. A huge pig, with an apple stuffed into its mouth, roasted over a large fireplace set in the center of the common room. The fire's flames, as well as most of its smoke, licked up a chimney that rose to the ceiling, then out into the chilly, early autumn evening. Murmurs and mumbling could be heard from the occupants of the bar. But, even if he strained to listen, he could never quite make out what was being said. And that was the way they liked it. Foxferds' was not the most reputable of bars. Most of its patron's conversations were those of dirty deeds or of plans for dirty deeds. Had his mama discovered that this was his normal hanging spot a few nights a week, she would have tanned his hide for sure!
He had just squeezed into his favorite shadowy corner when all of a sudden, as if right on queue, the front door smashed open. Through it staggered the hulking shape of a huge warrior. He stood well over six feet tall, very broad of shoulders, with well-muscled arms and legs. His hard, knee-high boots, thumped loudly on the wooden floor planks as he ran into the pub. He wore cloth britches and a leather vest that left his hairy chest exposed. His long, black hair went well past the collar of his dark green cape, which hung loosely from his shoulders. His cloth britches, that would have been loose on most men, fit tightly around his well-developed thighs. A large, bloodstained broad sword was clutched tight in his right fist. Blood trickled freely from many small nicks and cuts on his arms, chest, and legs. He glanced around the room for a moment, and then headed for the bar. "Keeper!" the large warrior's voice was peppered with fear. "Do you have a back door, or cellar I may take refuge within?!"
"I'll hide none running from the city guard! Now begone, before I'm forced to . . ."
The bar keeper never finished his words for the warrior lunged to the bar, knocking over a nearby table and sending its occupants sprawling onto the floor. With his free hand, he reached over the counter and wrapped his fingers around the barkeeper's throat. "I'm not running from the guards, pig!" he said though clenched teeth. "And I only wish I were! At least they would show mercy. Now! If you value your miserable life, answer me my question."
The barkeeper, being no small man himself, gasped for air as his feet left the ground. The only thing he managed to do was to point to the door behind the bar.
The warrior dropped the keeper and vaulted the bar with one graceful leap. He reached for the door latch, but before he had a chance to grasp it, the door swung open. From it stepped a man wielding a long and thin curved blade. This was not a large man. In fact, he stood a full head and a half shorter than the massive warrior. Yet the big warrior stopped dead in his tracks.
"Curse you!!" the warrior bellowed as he scrambled back over the bar.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Heartbreaker Curse: Ellis

Ellis chucked as he closed his office door. Ginger Heart or Grandmere’ as she liked to be called was always plotting. She’d just invited him to Sunday dinner and he’d accepted.

Ellis smiled as the image of Grandmere’ danced across his vision. Grandmere' was a strikingly beautiful, tall with a flawless rich dark mocha complexion; her deep set hooded eyes were a breath taking hazel with gold flakes around the edges. Shoulder length flowing ink colored locks,surrounded her face accented with high cheek bones and gracious smile. Grandmere was a stunner. Nothing about her physical appearance said grandmother.

Ellis was not exactly certain what her age was but he was sure Grandmere’ had to be in her 70’s. Every time he asked Cammie she seemed to avoid the subject saying Grandmere’ is ageless”. Grandmere’ did not remind him of his own grandmother or any grandmother he’d ever known.

Ellis thought back to the first time he meet Cammie’s Heart-Breaux’s Grandmere’.

He’d wondered in Cammie’s office after class while they were talking. Grandmere immediately introduced herself and asked if he was single and available for marriage. He’d laughed but something about the twinkle in her eye told him she was serious. He had initially thought she was Cassandra, Cammie’s mother they looked so much alike.

Smiling he said no but if she was looking he would be happy to oblige her.

Grandmere’ had laughed a sexy little laugh for a woman of her age and looked him dead in the eyes as if she was looking into my soul and said “welcome to the family”.

The next thing he knew they were headed to lunch with Cammie in tow. Grandmere’ did not miss an opportunity to try and throw him and Cammie together. He like Grandmere’ and hoped that they would convince Cammie to give love a try.

Ellis was well aware of the Heartbreakers curse. Everyone in the Bayou knew about the family curse and all the mishaps that had befallen the men who fell in love with the Heart women.

Ellis was from deep in the Arcadian woods so he was most familiar with the magic that ran through the Bayou. Cajun to the bone his family had deep roots in magic and he was certain he could ward off any witches curse.

Ellis hoped that whatever Grandmere’ had planned for dinner would give me a chance to woo Cammie. Cammie Heart-Breaux was beautiful, smart and sexy everything he wanted in a wife except for the curse.

Locking the door to his office Ellis descended the stairs thinking about Cammie.
Cammie was determined to lead him on a merry chase. If it were not for Grandmere’ he would never have learned so much about Cammie. Grandmere’ never missed an opportunity to talk about what Cammie like and disliked the woman was a fountain of information.

Turning Ellis saw a shadow on his left. Conrad Roqueax Cammie’s Grandpepe’ and Grandmere’s lover, boyfriend, husband, man, what did one call a Heartbreakers ex?

Rumor had it Grandmere and Conrad Roqueax were still an unspoken item. More than once Cassandra, Cammies mother had come to the office they shared and whined about her parents 'patting around" and how it would look to Cammie's fathers congregation. This dispite from all Ellis had heard her mother never went to church.

“Stay away from Ginger.” Conrad roared in deep baratoned voice.

Smiling Ellis sighed Lord not today! He was too happy to let something like this spoil his Sunday. Besides he did not want any tension between he and Grandpepe’ they would one day be family.

“Mr. Roqueax, I have no interest in Grandmere”. Ellis moving to unlock his car door suddenly became short of breathe, his feet lift off the ground, as he was turned to face Conrad Roqueax.

Ellis sized up the ex-marine, Mr. Roqueax was tall, 6’7 at the least and quite muscular for his age. Who knew an old geezer like him would still be jealous after all these years. He might be able to take him but he doubted it Mr. Roqueax looked like he could kill with his bare hands.

“This is your only warning. ”. Ellis hit the ground as Conrad disappeared.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Lady in Red

It was raining when I stepped out into the real world today. Of course, I forgot my umbrella and I had to wait for the bus because I couldn’t find my car keys this morning. What a hell of a day it was at work. My son of a bitch boss kept asking me out. To me, if he was the last man on earth, humanity would be in trouble. I couldn’t believe his reply when I told him no.

“You no longer have that kid to worry about. So how about it?” He said.

'Uuck, what a pig.' I thought. 'Stupid asshole son of a bitch.'  Yeah, that’s what I thought of him.

I’m pretty sure the look on my face said it all because he held both hands up like I had a gun. I wish I would’ve had one, that’s for sure.

It’s been 16 months to the day since my little boy Scotty was hit by a car. I took him to the park because it was such a beautiful day. I was sitting with a couple of friends who were also single moms, chatting with them about various things-most were of which were of little to no importance. If only I would have left a minute later, or maybe a minute sooner, Scotty would still be alive. We went to cross the street and both of us were struck by a man who had been drinking and driving. I didn’t even see him coming otherwise I would have stuck myself between Scotty and the car. The cops told me they had the guy. He paid bail, and disappeared. So no, they didn’t really have him. Like I said, they still don’t.

The bus was running late, so I went into my favorite little coffee shop called 7th Near Bar. I had been going there for the last seven years because my friend Tony owned it. We met when I was still in college and I had the biggest crush on him- too bad he was gay because he is such a hottie. I was there when he opened the coffee shop and I even helped pick out the décor. There was a sofa section facing a TV hanging on the wall. Along with a few scattered tables here and there. Who would have thought the sofa section would be the most popular. Tony had became my best friend and the only real family I had. That was until Scotty came along.

I freaked out when I found out I was pregnant. I was dating a man named Thomas. He didn’t like to be called Tom, “It’s Thomas, not Tom.” He would correct who ever it was he was talking to. He disappeared three days after I told him. I was so devastated, I stayed in bed for days just to cry. It’s funny the people who notice that you’re not around. Tony stopped by to see if I was sick. I told him about all of it. He climbed in bed long enough for me to stop crying then showed me I had so much to celebrate.

“New life is a miracle.” He said. “So, how do you want to fix up the nursery?”

I hadn’t even thought about that. I was so busy feeling bad about Tom leaving, I had forgot that there really was a lot to be happy about. Tony was with me every step of the way over the next nine months. As far as he was concerned, he was uncle Tony. There would be no argument from me.

When I went inside the coffee shop, I was drenched. “Tony, do you still have a change of clothes here for me? I’m drenched.” I said.

“Dam girl, what happened to your car?” He asked.

“I couldn’t find my keys this morning, so I took the bus. You wouldn’t believe the day I’ve had.” I said to him, still feeling a little annoyed by my boss. I told him everything that happened when my boss asked me out.

“You want me to kick his ass honey?” Tony asked.

“Naah, his dumb ass isn’t worth it.” I said. “Now, where are my clothes?”

“They’re upstairs in the loft. You have the key.” Tony said.

I walked up the stairs to change my clothes, so I didn’t see the lady in red walk in. She was sitting in my seat when I came back down all dried off and feeling like me again. I sat at the end , Tony brought me my usual. We were in our own little bubble so we didn’t notice when she got up. No one seen her walk to the door and turn the lock, just like no one noticed her pull out her gun. It wasn’t until she fired into the air we decided to come out of our own bubbles.

Marne, one of the regulars, jumped out of her seat on the sofa. This other guy was there I couldn’t stand, his name was Vennie. He always had such attitude about everything. I’m pretty sure he had a venial disease of some sort. He was disgusting with his slick back oily hair and his loud fake gold jewelry. He had so much hair sticking out of his shirt, the song from an old cartoon came to mind when I looked at him. “Grape Ape, Grape Ape.” So that’s what I usually called him. He is the Grape Ape.

Isn’t that always the way, we don’t notice something until it’s right in our face. Here it was, and I wanted her to shoot me. I wasn’t afraid, just numb. I wanted her to blow my head off…put a hole in me…splatter my grey matter all over the bar.

My only thought was, “Too bad my boss wasn’t here. I wouldn’t mind seeing him go first.”

The lady in red stood there for a minute without saying a word. With a shaking hand and a look of shock on her face, she aimed the gun at us. I think she may have been more shocked than any of us.

“Ok, everyone over here. Now!” The lady in red shouted.

“What the fuck lady. This isn’t a bank. I think you’re in the wrong place.” Vennie said.

“Shut up Vennie.” Marnie snapped.

I didn’t know until then she knew any of our names. She was a mousy sort of girls who always had a book in her hand. She never deviated on her order and she never really spoke to us. She came in at the same time every day, always in some world she brought with her. I thought I was lucky to even know her name, because it must be nice to be able to sit and read without anything weighing on you.

There were seven of us in all. Each of us taken from our own bubble of what ever reality we lived in, like it or not. There was a tall thin man dressed in what looked like a brand new suit. His lapel pin was a set of dice. At first glance, he looked like a man who didn’t scare easy. With closer observation, he was more of a nervous ninny than a high pressure gambler. His lapel pin was false advertisement. Hell, I could probably take him for all he had in a card game. A couple plastics were there. At least that’s what I called them. They had fake blond hair along with fake boobs and lips. The two plastics were trembling with fear. They didn’t move, and they were usually the ones who complained the most. It didn’t really bother me to see them afraid.

Then I realized, I had lost all ability to feel. What was it like not to be covered in a numbness? It gets thicker everyday. What was it like to really laugh? I had forgotten that. I hadn’t laughed since the day at the park…not really. I had chuckled from time to time and even faked it when necessary. Today though, when I should have been afraid for myself and others around me, I wasn’t. I felt nothing. Did that make me crazy? Was I now going to spend the rest of my life numb to the rest of the world? Would I ever live again? How does someone make it back to life, when it has stabbed you to the bone? I didn’t know. I never thought to ask until today.

We all did as she said when she pointed us in the direction of the sofa area. She still hadn’t said what she wanted. I had a feeling though it was coming.

“We’re going to talk.” She said.

‘Talk, since when does a conversation have to take place by gun point?’ I wondered.

We took a place on the floor, I was glad Tony had added the floor pillows I was against so long ago. I was in between Tony and Grape Ape. Man I hated the way he smelled. It was a bad combination of old spice, sweat and garlic.

“We’re going to play a little game. I think you all know it, it’s called Liar, Liar.” The lady in red said. “I should warn you, I’m a trained professional, so I know when people are lying.”

The way she walked around us and in between us reminded me of an old professor I had. She pointed the gun at each of us, observing our reactions. Then she came to Mr. Diceman. You know, the one with the false advertisement.

“You first.” She said to him.

“Are you a gambler?” She asked.

The man was visibly shaken and his lips were trembling.

“Y-yes ma’am, I am.” He said.

“Do you win?” She asked.

“I can hold my own.” He said.

“Liar, liar pants on fire.” She said.

She pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger. When it snapped, the man pissed himself and began to sob.

“You’re lucky, that one was a blank. Now, don’t you think it’s time you stopped gambling?” She asked.

The man lowered himself to her feet and sobbed even more. “Yes, I do.” He cried.

“That’s a good boy, now be a dear and go sit down.” The lady in red said.

“How do we know they ain’t all blanks?” Grape Ape said.

He stood up to challenge her. She shot the gun at the bar and it drilled a hole in it. The plastics started crying again as they hugged each other closer. All I could think was she aimed it the wrong way. That bullet was meant for me. Grape Ape's face went pale and he backed away.

"Why are you sitting. Time to be in the hot pillow." She giggled at her own joke.

Grape Ape took a step towards the pillow. Each step made him sweat a little more, it got to the point that it dripped from his nose.

'Gross.' I thought.

His knees hit the pillow with a thud. He looked at the gun in her hand. It seemed a little odd to me. I would have looked in her eyes and just told her to go to hell. The gun didn't scare me, I wanted to be with my little Scotty and that's all there was to it.

I sat there watching Grape Ape sweat even more. She brushed the gun against his face when she walked around him. There for a minute, I thought Grape Ape was going to piss himself too. No such luck though, he just stayed still. Almost too still.

"So, What's your name?" She asked.

He just stayed there on his knees. Quiet. Still. Pouty.

"I asked you a question." She said. Then gave him a little wack on the back of his head with the gun.

"I know a couple people that won't like what you're doing." Grape Ape said.

"Well, I'm sure that you don't like it too much yourself." She said.

"Yeah, you could say that again." Grape Ape said.
Sweat poured from his red face now.

"You don't like a woman being in charge. Do you?"  She asked.

Silent, he ran his fingers along the sseam of his pants on the outside. She observed his every move with a straight face. Then it lit up like an "ah-ha" moment.

"Stand up." She said.

A confused look rushed over his face. His eyes were wide when he stood up in slow unopposing movements. She stepped towards him and whispered something in his ear. His face turned angry.

"No! I would rather you shoot me! You really are a crazy bitch!" He said.

She pointed the gun at his head the cocked the gun. For a moment, I thought he was going to take a bullet.

"Ok, ok, alright! There. Happy?" He said when he dropped his pants to the floor.

I had to cover my mouth to keep from laughing. Grape Ape wore a little purple women's thong with sparkles on the front. I looked around the room and seen the reaction was the same for everyone, then laughed so hard I almost busted a gut. I laughed. For the first time in a long time. I laughed for real. I don't know if it was the situation or the shock of seeing his pretty purple thong. It didn't matter though, because I knew I could laugh again.

The lady in red turned towards us, waving the gun around. "So, you think that's funny huh? Pull your pants up you stupid idiot." she said.

Grape Ape rushed to pull them up and stumbled back to his place next to me. I couldn't help but stare at him. All this time I thought he was a womanizer. Talk about being wrong. He just liked women's things and tried to play it off.

“I’m so sick and tired of being lied to. I mean it’s everywhere. Why can’t people just be honest? I mean is it really that hard?” the lady in red said. A tear dropped down her face.

I might have actually felt sorry for her if she wasn’t holding a gun. Maybe…I don’t know.

“That’s the world we live in lady.” Marne spoke.

“What is that suppose to mean?” She asked.

“I don’t want shot, but, come on. That’s the world we live in. People lie. They lie about work and take credit when it isn’t theirs. They lie to their spouse about some affair. They even lie about what you’re wearing. It’s the world that’s fucked up. Not just the people in here. We all have our problems. You don’t see any of us pulling out a gun and making others have some fucked up counseling session.” Marne said.

“Well well well, aren’t you the little know it all. I bet you come in here everyday with a book and not speak to anyone. Am I right?” The lady in red said.

“Yeah, so what of it?” Marne said. “You gonna shoot me because I like to read?”

“Yeah,” she said.

It all happened so fast. The lady in red pulled the trigger and Marnie had a hole in her stomach. She fell in front of me. Crying, I grabbed a jacket and pressed on the wound. It was the first time since the funeral I had cried. Anger filled my heart. Marnie never hurt a single person, just like Scotty.

“Have you lost your mind?” I screamed. “She was right. Everything is fucked up. We’re all fucked up. I walk around numb because my son is dead. I’m more fucked up than any of you! Why shoot her? She didn’t do anything wrong.” I yelled.

The lady in red looked shocked at my reaction. Truth is, so was I.

Grape Ape stepped towards her. She shot again. The gun barreled a hole in his head and he fell with a thud on the floor. She pointed the gun back at me. Tony went to speak. I watched in horror when she pointed the gun at him. I can’t remember what was said. All I could think of was dear God, please don’t take him too. I stood up in front of him, just when the gun went off. I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder and fell to the ground.

I laid there staring into Marne's eyes. She gave me a grin. “Thank you.” She whispered.

Her eyes went blank then. I knew she was gone. I passed out, hoping this was it. All the pain and numbness would be gone for good.

I don’t know if I died, but I did get to see my Scotty again. He ran to me like he always did when he saw me. I picked him up and hugged him close. I cried when I saw him. We’re taking good care of him a voice said. Tears welled up in my eyes and it all faded away. . I woke up in the hospital. Tony was sound asleep, sitting in the chair next to my bed. It was well past visiting hours. I guess the nurses knew the term visiting hours didn’t apply here. He opened his eyes and looked into mine.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi,” I said back.

He started telling me about all the commotion that took place after I passed out. It turned out, the plastics saved our lives. One of them had a cell phone and sent a text message to her husband. The cops showed up and shot the lady in red. He paused for a minute.

“What is it?” I asked.

“It was her husband who killed Scotty. The police found him dead a couple days ago with a letter. All it said was, ‘I’m sorry.’” Tony said.

Tears streamed down my face. For the first time in 16 months, I had closure. The numb shell surrounding my body melted away with each tear. I cried for Scotty and Marne. I think I may have even cried for Grape Ape. Tony hugged me until I was done crying. He is my family. I thank God for him.