So you can read my books

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


{He who learns must suffer.

And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget

falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
- Aeschylus}

Tonight there was a new way to spell screwed : R-O-L-A-N-D.

The dead ghost of Ernest Hemingway was lying on the floor next to my bed. The ghost of Marlene Dietrich, his unrequited love, was in my bed. All the creatures of the Shadowland were on their way here to tear the secret of how to kill a ghost from me.

And me? I was in deep shit. I didn't have the secret. Someone had set me up. But who?

"Who did this to me, Marlene?"

Her china-blue eyes grew sad. "Who is not important, Liebling. 'Where' is. Where do we run that they will not already be there waiting?"

A Texas drawl like summer thunder rumbled beside me. "That would be Meilori's, partner."


I looked up. Impossible though it was, there he stood. Tall, all in black : from his wide-brim Stetson to his long broadcloth jacket, jeans, and boots.

Ramrod straight, wolf eyes, and grim lean face. Captain Samuel McCord, hero of three of my novels stood in the undead flesh beside my bed.

I tapped my head. "But you exist only in here."

Marlene gently stroked my cheek with icy fingertips. "No, Liebling. The world is more than you know ... more than your mind is capable of knowing."

Sam grinned like a wolf. "The world wide web, son. You wrote of me, Meilori's, my world, my friends. It hit a chord deep within thousands of minds. That and ...."

Marlene turned my head to look at her. "Your Lakota blood, Schatz. It holds a strange power that only a handful of shamans had before you. What you write ... becomes flesh."

"What? But I've written of all sorts of creatures that haven't popped up."

Sam said, "I'm real only at Meilori's ... and here."

"Why here?"

Marlene stoked my neck. "Because here your ... your Geist, your spirit fills this place."

Sam sighed, "And that's another reason those polecats rushing up the stairs out there will think you have the secret of how to kill ghosts."

"Rushing up my stairs?"

And sure enough, there was a hollow moaning and keening headed straight towards the outside of my door. Closer. Closer. Shit. They were almost here.

"Time to think sideways, partner."

He pulled me from the bed. "Buddha on a pogo stick, son. You always sleep in your blue jeans?"

I nodded. "Ever since the fire. I can't relax unless I'm dressed to face the world."

There was a sudden pounding on the only door to my apartment. "Well, not that world."

"C'mon, Roland. Let's head to the bathroom."

"Not that I don't feel like throwing up, Sam, but what's in the bathroom?"

"A mirror."

I got even sicker. "You mean GO INTO the mirror like you do?"

"The only way, son."

"Yes, Liebchen. But do not worry. I am going with you."

I turned towards where she now stood. "Dressed in ...."

Her tall, lithe body was fair to bursting out of a snug old-style Prussian Calvary Officer uniform. I almost swallowed my tongue.


Marlene smiled in a way that made me uncomfortable. "Clothes are easy. Naked is even easier."

Sam cleared his throat.

I frowned. "Why that uniform?"

Marlene pulled herself up proudly. "Father was a Prussian Calvary Officer. He taught me the art of the saber hims--"

The pounding at the door got more crazed. Marlene placed a light hand on the sleeve of my black T-shirt. "Ghosts have to be invited in."

"Well, call me a poor host, but I'm not inviting anybody in."

Sam tugged at me. "Not every creature in the Shadowlands need an invitation to kill, son."

Feeling ten kinds of creeped-out, I plucked my hiking boots out from under the unmoving, insubstantial body of Ernest Hemingway. I shoved my feet hurriedly into them. I bent to tie them.

Sam snapped, "Run now. Lace later."

I hurried to the cat carrier and snatched up a startled Gypsy, shoving her hissing and angry into it. Sam shook his head.

"She'll be safe under the bed, Roland."

"I took her with me for Katrina and Rita. I'm taking her now."

He shrugged and literally dragged me into my tiny bathroom. "Hell, son, there's not enough room in here to cuss a cat."

"Ask Gypsy how wrong that is," I said.

The sink mirror became milky, singing a strange deathsong of noise.

Sam gestured, "In you go, Roland."

I turned to Marlene as she was pulling a very sharp-looking saber from its sheath. "Ladies first, Marlene."

She leaned in close, kissing my cheek lightly. "And that is why gentlemen are a dying breed, Liebchen. You first. Here, give me Gypsy. She'll be safe with me."

I didn't like it. The ceiling tiles above me started to bulge. I remembered what Sam said about some Shadowlanders not needing invitations. I took in a deep breath and scrambled awkwardly onto the sink top.

Feeling three kinds of stupid, I eased to touch the mirror with one hand. Sam shoved me hard from the back. And INTO the mirror I went. The world was white, filled with frigid fog smelling of lightning strikes and pine trees.

I hit something soft yet hard. The fog disappeared suddenly as two strong arms wrapped around me. I saw the face I never wanted to see.

"Death," I squeaked.


  1. Very cool. I love the concept of writing character and worlds to life (I kinda feel like I do that - I know they're lurking out there somewhere). Read the fire scene, too. Will definitely be back for more.

  2. Oooooo, very very good. I love the line, "Time to think sideways.." By the way, you're my hero-you took Gypsy!!! You're a good man with a good heart. IcantwaitIcantwaitIcantwait till the next installment!!!

  3. Of course, the mirror! God, I love your mind! Great scene and good you for taking Gyspsy.

    The Aeschylus quote is so true, isn't it.

    I'm all agog for the next installment!

    ~that rebel, Olivia

  4. When you started to sppell R-O-L-A-N-D, the way it was on the screen I initially thought it was going to be from that old commercial..."How do you spell relief? R-O-L-A-I-D-S. That's what I get for reading fast and anticipating, eh? ;)

  5. Oh man, I didn't see the last line coming. More, more more!!!

  6. I like how you're writing your unique personality quirks into this. And awesome - Sam to the rescue! I was about to ask why the ghosts need to knock on the door however and can't just enter. That one's a little creaky, but, ok, it is explained. Yay; you took Gypsy.

    You've thought of everything a good thriller needs. Yes, I'm hooked. This is a marvelously creative idea.


  7. This is terrific, Roland. Love the humor ["Hell, son, there's not enough room in here to cuss a cat." "Ask Gypsy how wrong that is," I said.] juxtaposed with the drama ["Death," I squeaked.] I also love how the story is so unpredictable. I have an innate and annoying knack for seeing where plot lines are headed but you're keeping me guessing, and I'm intrigued.

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  9. How do you spell storyteller? R-O-L-A-N-D. So much for crashing and burning as long as you have Marlene and Sam to pull you out of the flames. If or when you get to Meilori's order me a bourbon. Great job Roland.

  10. Wow thanks for sharing. What a great read!