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Saturday, July 31, 2010


(Check out Donna Hole's Milestone Blogfest

{"I have a rendezvous with Death,
At some disputed barricade ...."
- Alan Seeger.}

They glared at me. But Marlene's and Mark's little tricks with their bodies and pistols had made them leery of getting closer.

They started circling me slowly and clumsily. I went deep within myself, tapping into Marlene's spirit. I moved, yet not I, but her.

My steps became the graceful flow of Marlene's dancer body merged with the predator coiled readiness of the stunt-trained actress.

Rafferty whispered to her mother, "He moves just like the lions Papa told me about."

Gabrielle whispered back, "Kitten, evil usually wins unless good is very, very good."

Jussac laughed, "And this boy is not that good."

Marlene shimmered beside him, "The fear in thy eyes betrays thee, coward. Almost as much as thy clumsy feet."

Rafferty cried out, "Dogs, the Dagda has never been beaten. Never! Now, you'll get yours."

Their faces hardened, and my stomach tightened. I was using borrowed talent. How far would that take me? I had only fenced in the midst of a pitched battle with Marlene by my side.

Now, there was only one target. Me. No distractions. No room to bob and weave. Five of them against one of me. Really bad odds.

They closed in further on me. I circled as if in some lethal dance.

The five of them and I were moving slowly, fluidly to the step of music only I could hear. They were making the mistake Sun Tzu had warned about, letting your opponent guide your attack. You let him do that, you were handing him your head, both of them.

Marlene was dancing beside them, unnerving the killers. She laughed at their unease. She called out to me.

"Watch their eyes, Liebling. See that Jussac? He is the one that will start the attack, although the brutish one is the leader.

First, take out the leader, then, and only then, take out Jussac. The rest will be unnerved and without a head to direct them.

Their fear will slow their attacks, give you the time to be the boy scout you feel compelled to be. Take care, my love."

Mark Twain appeared beside me, a steel edge to his voice, "Leave it to the Valkyrie to focus on the flour and omit the leaven.

Their eyes are only one thing you must watch. The muscles in their necks, son ... where their ears join their heads. Both will tense when they are about to attack. The ears will seem to go slightly higher and to the back just before they lunge at you.

The left-handed Jussac, his neck will twitch on the left side before that happens. When his neck twitches, strike at that ox of a leader. He will not be expecting it. Then, turn will all your speed and face the treacherous stab at your back. It will be a low-line thrust. I have seen it in his mind. You can take them, son. You can because we will be with you."

It was plain that the taunting advice of my ghost friends wasn't mean to guide my actions but to unnerve my attackers. Time to add to it.

"There will come soft rains," I said quietly, though it cut across the stillness of this afternoon of death.

"What?," snarled the rat-faced Guard who stood slightly behind Jussac.

"And the smell of the ground, and swallows circling with their shimmering sound."

The heavy-set Guard who moved like a horse sneered, "A poet. I haven't killed a poet since last week."

I ignored him as I was speaking for Rafferty and the guards’ distraction. "Robins will wear their feathery fire, whistling their whims on a low fence wire."

The lean wolf of a Guard to my right was about to step atop a large tree root. Biting her lower lip from the strain, Marlene moved the root with a flick of her boot toe. Not finding support where he supposed it to be, he stumbled to the ground in an awkward sprawl.

Jussac snapped, "Bernajoux, you dolt! Even the lumbering Treville would have seen that root. Get up!"

As he hastily scrambled to his feet, Marlene pulled a vine around his neck and yanked. He yelped, struggling. Marlene kept adding vines around his neck. It took long moments as sweat beaded her brow and the man’s face darkened.

He cried out for help, but the others saw Marlene motion to them mockingly. They kept their distance. He finally strangled to death.

I kept on, "And not one will know of this fight, not one will care at last when it is done."

They glared at me as I fluidly moved with speed that came from the ghost of a dancer and a trained athlete, speed that they had no chance to equal with two left feet. Not that I cared.

They were killers, their eyes as dead as their souls, as their victims.

I finished, "Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree, if Mankind perished utterly. And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn, would scarcely know that we had gone."

I ended with a figure eight flourish of my borrowed sword.

Gabrielle called out, "He is playing with you, dogs. Run home to your master, Richelieu, if you would live. The Dagda is not known for his mercy."

Jussac growled, "I have never run from a fight before. I will not run now."

"Good," snapped Gabrielle, a pistol in each hand.

They were two from the stack of pistols Mark Twain had placed at her feet. She shot Jussac in the forehead. She fired again, and Rat Face clutched at his bullet-ruined throat.

The gray beard lunged for Gabrielle as she bent down to pick up two other pistols. I was too far away to help her. She was going to be too late. She wasn’t going to be able to reach the pistols in time. The afternoon sun struck fire from the Guardsman's long blade.

Mark Twain cried out, "No! I lost my little Susy. I lost my Olivia. And I could do nothing. Nothing! I will not stand by and see a child lose her mother! I won't!"

His hands grabbed the sword wrist of Grey Beard. His fingers flowed through the man’s skin. Mark Twain’s face went ill. Sweat beaded his forehead like drops on an iced mug.

And though he was no longer in Meilori's, no longer possessed of a body with substance,

still his grief and love for his lost wife and daughter was such that they scorned such a concept as impossible.

Laughed at it.

Mark Twain’s jaws bunched as if he were trying to crush stones with his teeth, and his face grimaced as if he were having a stroke.

Impossible suddenly did not exist for Mark Twain at that moment.

Only a hand that must not kill a mother and child existed for my friend.

He squeezed with fingers given the weight of love and loss and seized Grey Beard's sword wrist, bringing it up in a slashing movement across the Guardsman’s throat.

"That for daring to be filth!"

And one more attacker was dead on the bloody ground. The leader's eyes flicked to his fallen comrades on the grass and hanging dead from the tree branch.

"Rouen!," cried out Gabrielle to the man.

A loud explosion made me jump. His head snapped back, a round hole appearing between his eyes. I turned around. Gabrielle held one smoking pistol straight out.

"For Rafferty."

She fired again with the other pistol, dropping the remaining guardsman.

"For Peter," she husked.

I spun around. Ruoen was falling limp to the ground. The other guardsman slumped beside him, another round hole between his eyes. I sighed. All my efforts to avoid killing, and still, people had died. I looked at Gabrielle's tortured eyes. Not that they hadn't had it coming.

I looked at Rafferty's suddenly alarmed face. It had suddenly hit her what her mother had said.

"P-Papa's dead?"

Mark Twain slowly walked over to her. "There is no dead, Rafferty. See me? See the pretty Ice Queen? We're both dead."

She whispered, "But I can see you."

"We're ghosts, girl. Ghosts are just the dead on holiday, don't you know."

"Papa will come to see me?"

Marlene bent on her other side. "If you're a good little girl, he might. He just might."

"Oh, I'll be the best little girl there is!"

Tears filling Gabrielle's eyes, she mussed her daughter's wild hair. "We'll see how long that will last."

Treville, of the wounded foot, glared at me as I approached him.

"Do your worst, devil. I am not without resources."

"Yeah, name three."

He reached inside his tunic, and not wanting to gamble he was bluffing, I slashed his cheek deep and whispered, "Dancing Feet."

"Dancing where?," asked Marlene.

"Back to Paris and his master."

"Done. And I will add itching flesh to busy his fingers."

Treville suddenly stiffened and twisted about like a living puppet being yanked up and about the landscape.

He screamed at the pain of dancing on his shot foot. He yelled curses over his shoulder as he scratched as if fleas of fire were squirming under his skin.

"Nice touch," I winked at Marlene.

She hugged my arm. I almost felt it.

"You should see me with lovers."

Mark Twain coughed and patted Rafferty's head. "Some ghosts need to watch their tongues."

Marlene winked at me. "That's what all my lovers tell me."

Rafferty giggled. She might have been a little girl, but she was still French, after all.

Marlene looked at the sparkle in Rafferty’s eyes and turned her own wet ones to me. “Mission accomplished, Liebling.”
Some of you have asked how Marlene gained her fencing skills. First, her step-father was a Prussian cavalry officer. Second, she was taught by Hollywood's greatest fencing master, Frederick Cavens, graduate of Belgium's Military Academy :


  1. More and more I hear the poetry in your writing! There is subtle alliteration to enhance the drama of the atmosphere and the flow of words often becomes like a silky song!

  2. Hi,

    Love the way in which the veil of death drifts aside to reveal ghost like entities of the mind: driven from within avenger awakes!

    Beautiful reflective writing like hunter's moon on crystal lake, chilling and thrilling!


  3. I don't think I breathed until the Intense, lyrical, and kind-you didn't have to do the killing, which allowed the mother to have ownership of (helping) save herself and her daughter. Sometimes, people need that. So, you've read Sun Tzu. Way cool. A very handy book for all sorts of 'battles'..I loved the poetry in here, it's amazing....

    I cannot imagine what's next! :)

  4. Großartig! You gave me chills today, Roland. What a spectacular example of a character achieving success.

  5. Wow. Once again I find myself speechless at the feet of a master storyteller. You invoked Sara Teasdale. And Ray Bradbury. Be still my heart. And I would argue that you saved Rafferty. The rest was just icing. Really tasty icing, but icing nonetheless.

    Oh, and I loved the video. Glad you are bringing the swashbucklers back. Watch out Hollywood. :)

    ~that rebel, Olivia

  6. I hate saying 'as usual' but with you there's no other way of saying it...


  7. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I got to say I was lost because this is the first time I read your blog, but I couldn't stop it grabbed me and would not let go. So I have got some catching up to do. I'll be seeing you around.

  8. Revenge; ah sweet revenge. A milestone worthy of blog histories.

    Thank you for posting this on my behalf. I'm flattered; and well entertained, as always.


  9. Yay!! Killed with poetry - a lovely touch there! I do like "Ghosts are just the dead on holiday"!

    Take care