So you can read my books

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Becky Miller has a fascinating post on her blog :

And it is in keeping with the spirit most of us try to nuture on Sunday. She has a PAY IT FORWARD blogfest from now until the end of the month. The details are on her post. Part of them is telling on our blogs or her by email of an encounter in real life where we payed it forward to someone.

My personal code dictates that I don't let my left hand know what good deed my right has done. But that is all right. I did not help another for reward. As I post this PAY IT FORWARD blogfest entry, not for reward, but just to entertain my blogger friends with laughter and smiles.

This entry comes during the middle of the third act of RITES OF PASSAGE. In the summer of 1853, Samuel McCord has followed a murder suspect onto the transatlantic steamer, DEMETER.

He discovers that the ship, among other deadly things, is a trap ... for him. It is not a matter of if he will be murdered, only when he will be murdered. At the moment, he is on the deck, awaiting the arrival of his new-found love, Meilori Shinseen.
I stared off into the blue mists of the horizon. I was adrift on a ship filled with the undead. I was a target of a half-dozen death plots. I couldn’t keep track of my old enemies on board without a chart.

The mysterious Gray Man seemed to have a personal stake in destroying me for reasons I couldn’t fathom. And some instinct told me that on top of all that, the Gray Man was a target of a separate scheme, apart from me. I shook my head. Who was so powerful that he, or she, would even try to bushwhack him, much less expect to succeed?

I sighed, reaching under my deck chair. Time to fall back on McCord Rule of Life # 2 : when you didn’t have a clue as to what to do next, do something nice for some other fellow. It wasn’t as charitable as you might think.

No skunk could abide walking by someone building a sandcastle without trying to kick it down. Now, it might not be a skunk connected with my hunt. But in my way of thinking, one less skunk made for a better smelling world.

I looked about. No maidens seemed in need of rescuing from dragons. No lions with thorns in their paws. Just clusters of apparently normal people trying to greet the morning without yawning.

An ugly red mist of anger flowed from the couple with the little boy and older girl off to my right. Mostly from the man. The woman radiated an utter sadness. I shook my head. Not my kind of trouble. I wasn’t a parson.

I pulled out the large sack of stale rolls and placed it on my lap. Opening it, I dug in and selected a big roll. Tearing it into pieces, I threw the bits on the deck.

As I hoped, it wasn’t a minute before the sharp-eyed seagulls noticed a free breakfast. They swept down from the sky and proceeded to peck and swallow. Watching them gobble up the pieces, I smiled and tore another roll into beak-size chunks.

As I threw the pieces onto the deck, the young boy came running up to me. The happy seagulls were too intent on their surprise meal to fly away. He watched me for a few seconds. His once rigid body relaxed.

His face lit up as the seagulls squawked and hopped about. He was about five or six. Maybe seven. I was bad at guessing the ages of children. I winked at him.

“Want to feed them?”

In a proper British voice, he squeaked, “Oh, could I, sir?”

I handed him the pieces of another roll I'd torn up. “Sure. They’ll probably name their next chick after you.”

He giggled, “Oh, whoever heard of a seagull named Samuel?”

I smiled big. “Samuel? Why that’s my name, too. Now whoever hung that awful name on you?”

“My Grandpapa. You must know him, sir.”

“Why must I?”

Before the boy could answer, his father stormed up to my table. He was less than happy to see me. I felt the same way about him. He had scared the seagulls away and stolen the smile from his son’s face. It was back to being pale and frightened.

The man tore the boy away. “Because he thought very highly of you before you became a murderer, McCord.”

The woman hurried to the man’s side, tearing his tight fingers from the boy’s wrist. Little Samuel rubbed it as if the man had hurt him. A low roaring filled my ears.

I fought down the urge to hit him. Striking the boy’s father in front of him would scare him -- and wouldn’t teach the man anything. His eyes were the sort that belonged to boy-men who never learned.

“Robert,” urged the woman. “You scaring Samuel.”

The young boy looked at me. “Y-You are the Texas Ranger, Grandpapa named me for?”

“Reckon so.”

“Have you ever killed any painted savages?”

“Samuel!,” hushed the mother.

I smiled at the boy. “Only when they tried to paint me.”

He giggled again. Even the mother smiled. The father tried to puff up like an outraged adult. But it only made him seem more immature. Not knowing what it was to be a man can do that to you when you fake it.

A tall, gray-haired woman, dressed all in elegant black, strolled briskly up to us. She moved with crisp, disciplined energy barely contained. It was as if she were some clockwork movement that had been over-wound. Her watery blue eyes held the sureness of the fanatic or the psychotic.

Those eyes moved over me like pale blue quicksilver, appraising me as if she were an accountant. They glittered in the dawn’s light, as they added up my worth and subtracted from it my deficiencies. The hard lines around her mouth told me that I came out in the red in her book.

It wasn’t too hard to see how her son turned out the way he had. I was tempted to show her my teeth to see if that would up my value some. But I decided a man had to have some pride. True, mine was a bit ragged, but it was all mine. At least, for a little while longer.

She took the little boy by the hand. “Come, Samuel. Bad company corrupts.”

I winked at him. “She’s right. But go with her, anyway.”

And yes, I know I have posted this video before, but it is in keeping with the defiant love Samuel has for Meilori. Besides, I just like it. As you can tell I am a sucker for Hollywood romantic classics.


  1. I like your discription of the family, the father's anger and the eyes of his mother. I have actually met people like that. Also, I think I am beginning to like Captain Sam.
    Thanks and good luck with the blogfest!

  2. excellent excerpt, bud...

    but i have less than zero use for that clown, dion, even if she is a fellow canuck

  3. Love that last line! :) Nice scene Roland!

  4. McCord sounds like my kind of guy. Your last line was classic and a great way to end the scene. Intriuged for sure. Hope to read you at the Let's Talk Blofest tomorrow!

  5. Very entertaining, so thanks. I needed some of that today.