So you can read my books

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


{"The funniest things

are the forbidden."

- Mark Twain.}

That Lilah gal canceled her Laughter Blogfest. But Lord Almighty, I am past tired of grieving for the past.

Time for some laughter. So, I, ghost of Samuel Clemens, do declare this day Laughter Blogfest day

in honor of that little lady who thought of it --

At least on this blog :

This is from Roland's account of Captain Samuel McCord aboard the cursed steamer, Demeter, bound for Paris in 1853.

McCord has the 6 year old girl, Missy, in the crook of his right arm, having saved her from two revenants : one a grandmother, the other her grandson.

Invisible due to his Apache magics, they are walking on deck to a Ball meant to kill not to entertain. Let McCord tell you the rest --

We were nearly there. The music was louder. The night was colder. And darker, too. But a dark that seemed alive.

Missy looked up, her blue eyes skeptical. “How come I can still see you, see me, if we’re both invisible?”

“Because we’re both wrapped in the threads of night.”

“Explain to me again about these threads.”

“I never explained them to you the first time.”

“Yeah, I sorta noticed. You know Mama read me that story about the emperor’s new clothes, Mister Sam. You wouldn’t be --”

“Hush! We’re about to come up on two women.”

“Two women? I don’t see them. How did --”

“I smelled their perfume on the breeze. Now, hush!”

She pouted, but she hushed. Just in time, too.

As I turned the corner of the promenade deck, I almost stepped on the heels of the same two older ladies who had reported my roughing up of Sir Robert to the Captain.

I smelled the whisky toddies on their respectable breaths.

“Oh, Agatha, do you think we are fashionably late enough?”

“Mildred, if we were any later, we might very well miss that charming Lord DayStar’s entrance. And we would not want that, would we? He is so witty.”

“And handsome.”

“Posh, I am too old to notice such things.”

“As am I,” tittered Mildred.

Missy looked like she wanted to puke. Me, too. I continued to listen.

Agatha sniffed, “Well, at least that horrid American cowboy will not be there. Why the way he took up with that foreign tramp was positively shameless.”

I fought back the urge to kick her in the backside.

Mildred bobbed her head, “It was disgraceful. But what else could you expect of an uncouth murderer and traitor?”

Missy squirmed in my arms, and I shook my head.

Agatha sighed, “Why ever do you think the states made him, of all people, a policeman?”

“America! Such an uncivilized place. What else would you expect of such uneducated riff-raff?”

Agatha turned to her friend. “Did I ever tell you what that horrible clod did to me the other night?”

Mildred, eager-eyed, hushed, “No.”

Her eyes became teasing. “Have you been hiding an onboard romance from me?”

“Dear heavens, no! But that awful savage and I chanced to be at the same dinner table two nights ago.”

“How were his manners?”

“Simply atrocious. Do you know that he had the utter lack of them to ask me for a breast from the chicken platter?”

“No?,” gasped Mildred horrified.

“Of course I informed him that anyone with even the semblance of good manners asked for white or dark meat.”

“Whatever did he do then?”

“Just drank his horrid orange juice and smiled.”

“That is all?”

“I only wish it were.”

“Oh, my. What did he do after that?”

“The next morning, the steward knocked at my door with a rose corsage and a note.”

“A corsage and note? Not from that McCord surely?”

“The very one.”

Mildred leaned forward like a withered bird of prey and whispered, “What did the note say?”

Agatha seemed to radiate heat as her face flushed, “I quote : Madam, I would be most pleased if you would pin this on your white meat.”

Monday, August 30, 2010


Ever try saying "No" to a fallen angel?

Ghost of Samuel Clemens here saying I didn't have it in me to do it.

Here is Roland's entry (with the fallen angel's thumbprints attached)

for J.C. Martins' FIGHT BLOGFEST.

It is the year 1936.

The battle is within the Hindenburg as it sails around the towering statue,

Christ The Redeemer, in the skies of Rio de Janeiro.

The fallen angel from Roland's WORD PAINT and FAIRY TALE blogfest entries

is fighting her double she created from her own glamour in a crisis.

Now her daemon is on a murderous rampage. It is up to the fallen angel to end the

madness before the daemon attempts suicide by exploding the Hidenburg :

I reached out with my mind and bent the patterns of time/space to my will.

The world blurred, the deck changed shape beneath my boots, and I stumbled as I now stood outside the cabin door leading to the enormous chamber of hydrogen gas bags.

I instinctively looked to the right, the side of my body without a heart.

There, at the far end of the hallway, was my daemon. She felt my eyes on her and whirled about, actually hissing at me, her knife springing up.

I bit the insides of my cheek and bent space again.

She leapt back in shock as I appeared right beside her, slashing with my own knife. With a fluid grace, she leapt onto the railing of the stairs leading down to the engineers' catwalk.

I leapt onto the opposite railing. We slid down, our knives slashing, blocking, and darting as we surfed down the metal banisters.

Down we sped, our daggers clicking and sparking down into the darkness.

My daemon was giggling, having the time of her life. Why not? One of the damn sparks from our knives was sure to ignite the hydrogen and blow us both to hell.

We reached the bottom of the stairs and the end of the railings.

We leapt straight at one another. We were too evenly matched. We blocked each other's thrust as we passed each other.

On a wicked whim, I stretched out my neck and kissed her full of the lips. She spat in my face.

"I always wanted to do that," I laughed. "But I kept getting lipstick all over the mirror."

Then, we hit the catwalk in a roll and bounced up into the metal struts that crisscrossed above us in an upside-down triangled jungle gym.

She swung out her long legs to slam me in the chest.

But that was what I would have done, so I had swung lower, patting her hard on the butt as I slid underneath her in a sweep.

She sailed over the catwalk onto the metal struts on the other side of the pathway. Damn her.

While I had been trying to rattle her, she had been setting herself up into the exact spot she had wanted :

right over the huge silver gasbag full of deadly hydrogen.

She did a little flip and dived straight down towards it,

her black knife stabbing out. I called up the Power within me and bent time to appear right under her, on top of the gasbag.

I blocked her knife. She rasped like a stabbed lion. She reached out with her left hand, grabbing a girder for support.

I straddled the gasbag, a boot on a strut on either side of it.

We thrust and parried in a flurry of movement that my eyes couldn't even follow.

"It doesn't have to be this way," I panted.

"Why the hell not?," eerily came my own voice at me from my daemon.

"I made you, fool. I can make the hunger go away. I promise."

"Idiot! Can you make the emptiness go away, too? If you can't stand being you, why did you think I could?"

As our knives sparked against one another, I cursed myself. The engineers who worked here even wore felt boots to keep even the smallest sparks from happening.

And here we were making like sparklers right above enough hydrogen to blow us clear out of the sky.

"I'll kill us yet," she screamed, and with a wild swing,

dived through the wires and netting that held the uppermost gasbags and out through the silver fabric that covered the zeppelin's frame.

The lunatic. She was going for the engine car. Instinctively, I started to jump to the right of the jagged hole she had made.

Then, at the last second, I dived through the silver skin to the left of the hole. The rough fabric scratched my face and tugged at my shoulders.

A mighty blast of cold winds smashed into me as I flew out of the Hidenburg.

I flailed out with my left hand and grabbed onto the fluttering fabric, whipping myself tight to the zeppellin's side.

My glamour had been waiting on the right side, knife held high to skewer me. Seeing me come out an unexpected way, she howled in rage.


Dropping down to the wide, sprawling tail-wing, I yelled over the terrible winds,

"That's Queen Bitch to you."

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the huge granite face of Jesus.

Hell, we were still circling that damn staute. The two of us had to be making some spectacle of ourselves to any straying unfallen angels.

The two of us :

edging around each other on the Hindenburg's elevator flap, under a fifty foot swastika, in front of an open-armed, stony faced Jesus.

It was the stuff of a Wagner opera, complete with two suicidal valkyries. But you first, daemon.

The forty mile an hour winds making a wheat-gold halo of her hair, my daemon shrieked, "You can't win."

Then, she struck. I leapt right at her, parrying her attack, giving her another kiss.

She hit the flap in a skiddering roll, popped to her feet, and wheeled around to face me.

She wiped her mouth as if my lips were diseased.

We danced about each other, diving in thrusts of knives and claws in a flurry of blocked attacks.

The terrible winds threatened to blow us off the wing at any moment.

The water sparkling beneath us, the city moving slow around us, the remote stony face of Jesus regarding us.

They all blurred as only the features of my daemon stood out in sharp detail as if burned into my mind.

A shredded piece of tarp flew from the hole straight into my left eye. My daemon took advantage of my shock and leapt up onto the side of the Hindenburg.

Then, like a scurrying monkey, she clawed her way up the side. I jumped up after her. But she had too much of a headstart.

I would have to bend space to reach her. But for a second I would be off-balanced and vulnerable. And in that second, I would be dead.

She scrambled to the top seconds ahead of me. She spun about atop the sloped, silver surface. She raised both hands into the air and screamed.

"Top of the world, Ma. Top of the world!"

She suddenly glared at the giant granite face of Jesus. "What the hell are you looking at?"

And in that split second of inattention, I bent space and appeared before her. I flung both arms around her in a crushing embrace. She bit at me. And I planted a third kiss on her.

But before I did, I whispered in the tongue of my race, "Come home."

Inside my mind, my daemon screamed, 'Not this way. Not this way!'

I had run out of time to talk sense to her. Like I had said, I had given her being. I could take it back. And I did.

I drew her into me in the breath of a kiss, a long kiss good night.

She shivered in my arms, then I heard a faint mental wail : 'No! Not sucked up like a drink. I'm alive, a somebody, a ----"

And then, she was gone, and I whispered, " -- a memory."

I stood alone on top of the Hindenburg, the winds nearly blowing me off. The remote, staring eyes of the granite Jesus stabbed into me.

Staggering at the impact of the winds, I snarled at Him.

"What are you looking at? I wish the hell you'd tell me because I do not know."

The words bled from me. "I do not know."

And so did I, last of the Sidhe, slip past the stony, open-armed grasp of Christ the Redeemer.


Sunday, August 29, 2010


Samuel Clemens here, and this is my selection for Roland's FAIRY TALE BLOGFEST entry

This snippet once more involves the fallen angel from his WORD PAINT entry

and is Roland's take on "La Belle Dame sans Merci" :

“... darkness yet in light, To live a life half dead, a living death, And buried; but O yet more miserable! My self, my Sepulcher.”

John Milton {“Samson Agonistes.”}


"Let me fall,

Let me climb,

There is a moment when fear

And dream must collide."

I am the last of my race. I am Tuatha de Danann. And, no, human, that does not mean elf, or fae, or damned. I take that last back. I am damned.

"Someone I am

Is waiting for courage,

The one I want,

The one I will become,

Will catch me."

I have no memories of my youth. Youth. The word is a mockery to me.

Though I look a young woman, I have lived centuries which I do remember. I remember when the sphinx had a nose,

when the pyramids were caressed by shimmering limestone,

and when courage and honor were not hollow words.

Yes, that long ago do I remember.

"Let me fall,

If I fall,

Though the phoenix

May or may not rise."

Then how do I even know I am Tuatha de Danann? The knowledge sings to me from the depths of my spirit in the night.

Its melody mocks with teasing glimpses of a time long gone, yet unborn.

"I will dance so freely,

Holding on to no one;

You can hold me only

If you, too, will fall

Away from all your

Useless fears and chains."

How do I know I am Sidhe? It is the face which mocks me from the mirror.

High cheekbones which seem intent on bursting up and out of flesh which shimmers as if coated with stardust.

A living waterfall of honey-wheat hair, looking more like a lion's mane than any other earthly term I could use.

Large, slanted fae eyes, chilling even me with their lack of warmth or mercy.

"So let me fall,

If I must fall,

There is no reason

To miss this one chance

This perfect moment;

Just let me fall."

But enough about me. What do you think about me? On second thought, do not tell me.

What care I what humans think of me? But I lie. I do care. At least about what one human thinks of me.

Roland Yeomans. DreamSinger. He is Lakota fairy tale come to life. He is the shaman who sings dreams to life. And he will tell me my beginnings or die.

"So let me fall,

If I must fall,

I won't heed your warnings;

I won't hear them."

My mind is churning with images humans could not comprehend as I sway up the steps of the Art Nouveau house,

that is just one of the doorways into Roland’s psyche.

Just its name alone is punishment to think, much less speak : Jugendstilhaus in der Ainmillerstrabe.

Once it had been the home of the infamous Countess Franziska zu Reventlow,

her erotic lifestyle and cosmic nonsense had inspired and broken the hearts of an entire generation in Munich.

Now it has to settle for being the most elite restaurant in the city.

No knocking on the door. This restaurant is much too elite for that. Only a rare electronic key will work … a key based on the silicon ingrams of Roland’s own brain.

I have mine in my longer than human fingers. Roland had sung this establishment into being along with most of Munich back when he used the pen name, The Brothers Grimm.

I slide the key through the black slot whose color matches my short-skirted version of a S.S. uniform.

True, I am some seventy years out of date. But what is seventy years to a Tuatha de Danann?

A mere hiccup in time.

I remember Wagner trying to teach me German ... among other things. I go cold inside. I remember too much, feel too little.

I enjoy the glares of the pompous patrons as I roll my hips to the back table reserved for DreamSinger alone.

The maitre d' nearly breaks his neck getting to me, but I am already seated, making sure my short skirt is hiked up suitably indecent to induce doomed desire.

He stands trembling over me as I take out my copy of The Spirit as Adversary of the Soul by old Ludwig Klages from my skirt pocket.

I am almost through with his nonsense. Seeing how close he can come to the truth, while stumbling right past it always makes me chuckle.

The maitre d' isn't close to chuckling. "Fraulein, you simply cannot wear that uniform in here!"

"Sure I can. What is the matter? Afraid those power brokers to our right will find out your grandfather wore this uniform for real?"

He spins around so fast he leaves an after-image. Roland clears his throat across the table from me.

“He cannot help his past.”

I study this strange man. His eyes. Damn, his eyes. They look as if they have seen all the pain in the world … and have felt most of it.

“I’m tired of this dancing, DreamSinger. Who am I?”

Roland looks truly surprised. “I thought you knew. You are La Belle Dame sans Merci .”

"Is that my name or my nature?"


I sit back in my chair. I had been right, after all. I am damned.


Saturday, August 28, 2010


{"The truth is forced upon us, very quickly, by a foe."
- Aristophanes.}

{Frazzled ghost of Sam Clemens here.

DayStar has left us in the supernatural jazz club, Meilori's,

just in time to be met by the ghosts of Bogart and Bacall --

and to be assaulted by Major Strasser of the Nazi Gestapo. Roland's journal carries on from there.} :

When the world goes insane, time does not freeze nor does it slow.

Your mind just kicks into overdrive and seems to lock onto the strangest things in rapid succession :

Strasser raising his luger to fire.

Bogart and Twain firing their automatics at the same time.

Strasser, a revenant, laughing as he twists aside both bullets easily.

His fingers going around the throat of a startled Bacall.

Marlene's saber appearing as if by magic half-way through the Nazi's throat.

Bacall tearing her own throat free as Marlene's saber cuts the rest of the way through the revenant's neck.

Life snapped back into fluid focus as I heard Marlene husk, "Heads I win."

As Strasser's headless body thumped on its butt to the tiles, Mark Twain grunted, "Tails you lose."

I stared at the body, quiet as roadkill ... but not as pretty. Strasser, being Strasser, ruined the moment.

"You fools," rasped the disembodied head. "I have been cursed by McCord. I cannot die."

Mark Twain muttered, "Seems like it was us that got cursed in that deal."

Humphrey tossed his napkin over the head. "For our digestion, Fritz."

"Get that off me, swine."

Lauren leaned down, lifting her husband's napkin, balling up her own, and shoved it into Strasser's open mouth. "Put a sock in it, Nazi."

Mark Twain said, "Valkyrie, you killed pretty easily there."

Marlene's eyes grew haunted. "To killing there is no easy nor is there pretty."

She squeezed shut her eyes as if to block memories that forced themselves upon her anyway. "Twice while I was entertaining the G.I.'s on the front lines, our position was over-run."

Her blue eyes opened, but they only seemed to see the past. "I was put with the wounded for my safety."

Her lips twisted. "Safety. The German soldiers knew I was there. More, they knew Hitler's price on my head."

She roughly cleaned her saber on Strasser's body. "To defend the wounded I had to kill."

She handed me the cleaned saber, her eyes locking with mine. "I did it without shame then ... and now."

She stared back off into scenes she couldn't forget or shake. She was trying to tell me something. But what?

I sighed. The truth. It was good to know, difficult to learn ... in time.


{"We hear only what we understand."
- Goethe.}

{Sam Clemens, ghost here. Roland, Marlene Dietrich, and I have escaped the mysterious DayStar,

only to be threatened by the Gestapo's Major Strasser ...

and a revenant, to boot. Roland's journal takes it from here.} :

Besides a startled Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart gestured with a .45 automatic. "The war's over, Fritz."

Strasser flicked dead eyes to the ghost. "To some the war is never over. Besides, I, too, have a gun."

Humphrey smiled thinly. "Mine's bigger than yours."

"Mine, too," grunted Mark Twain, his own .45 automatic drawn and aimed at Strasser.

"While mine is longer," smiled Marlene, the saber that had been in my left hand now in her right.

Never taking her eyes off Strasser, she husked to me, "The saber is of my essence. It comes to me when I will it to do so."

The major's eyes narrowed as he looked from Mark to Marlene. "Ghosts do not move this fast. Something is wrong."

"Yeah, Fritz," mocked Lauren. "You are. Every dogma has its day. Nazisim had its hour, and it's long over."

Major Strasser looked at her with contempt. "The Reich will never die."

Marlene spoke low. "But you will, Strasser, if you do not drop that luger."

He glared at her. "You stole my pre-Castro Havanas."

I felt my mouth drop. "Cigars? Cigars! You're upset about stupid cigars?"

He pouted. "They were pre-Castro. Very special."

"Special?," Mark snapped. "You're a revenant, Strasser. You've beef jerky for a tongue. You could smoke rope for all the taste you'd notice."

Strasser's eyes were glittering beads of arrogance. "They were special."

Marlene snorted, "The way you bragged of them was obscene. It was as if you were begging me to steal them. So I did ... for a peace-offering to Papa."

He sneered, "And did it work?"

She dropped her eyes. "Quite the opposite."

Strasser's face tightened like a ballon about to pop. "And here in Meilori's, even ghosts can die."

"For cigars?," I exploded.

"For honor!," he shouted.

And things went very crazy, very fast.

Friday, August 27, 2010


{"Imagination is the eye of the soul."

-Mark Twain.}

Samuel Clemens, ghost, once more. Roland was the blogfesting-est fool I've ever seen.

Still, I had not the grit to stay with him until the end -- so I owe him to keep his word for him.

He entered the WORD PAINT BLOGFEST :

He was good in painting with words -- no time any more so than in this odd story of a fallen angel who awakens in a British asylum with no memory of how she got there.

The way he described how a fallen angel views life gave me the shivering willies.} :

The spark of an anguished soul flew past me in the night. I shivered as her light drew back the curtains of my mind.

I would have cursed her had she lingered. But Death was impatient. Words breathed through the mists of my awareness.

"Darkness yet in light. To live half dead, a living death. And buried but yet more miserable. My self. My sepulcher."

My mind roughly brushed aside the dry leaves of Milton's broodings. No time for self-pity.

Yet too much time for all eternity. Enough! I was here for a reason.

And as always that reason was death. Always death. The why was unimportant. There was always a logical why for Abbadon.

The where, however, was another matter. And when might illuminate the present darkness of my mind as well.

Keeping my eyes closed, though tempting, would but delay the inevitable. I opened them.

Only a peek through slit eyes. After all, my ears told me that I was not alone. I frowned. A hospital room?

I reached out with more than my ears. My spirit shuddered as the ragged claws of madness raked it from down the hall.

An asylum. A Sidhe inprisoned within a madhouse. How utterly fitting.

I ran my long fingers along the rough sheet beneath me. A state asylum obviously. Even better.

But what state? My awakening consciousness was stubborn in its ignorance.

I bunched up the sheet in my fist in hot frustration. A sharp intake of breath from the next bed. Her scent came to me.

I smiled. And the air in the room grew chill. Only a human.

And I?

What was I?

From the corner of my eye I saw the human in the next bed begin to shiver. No matter. The human was not important. Time and place. They were.

I flicked my eyes to the barred window. The glass. Thick, dense. Like the humans who made it.

I studied the face reflected in the barred window.

High cheekbones, seemingly intent on bursting up and out of flesh that shimmered as if coated with stardust.

A living waterfall of honey-wheat hair, looking more like a lion's mane than any other earthly word I could use.

My eyes.

I shivered looking at them though they were my own.

Large, slanted fae eyes chilling even me with their lack of warmth or mercy. Their color the burnt-out ends of ancient days.

Under my fingertips a pebble. I nodded. A mere speck of stone. But it would do.

The pebble shot from between my thumb and forefinger like a bullet. An electric circuit died, wailing its death song in tones higher than humans could hear.

I smiled like a wolf. We would have visitors soon.

More the pity for them.

I drew in a breath from the cold breeze bleeding from the wounded window. The sharp tang of Autumn.

Oak. Ash. Thorn. Decay.

Rotting leaves, mottled in bright hues of strangled life. The dark and bloody soil beneath them breathed out its lineage.

An aching sadness hollowed out my chest. The Misty Isles. Albion. England.

I whispered, the words feeling like dewdrops of blood on a wounded doe, "The lonely season in lonely lands."

Thursday, August 26, 2010


{"If there's one guy,

just one guy

Who'd lay down his life for you and die

It's hard to say it

I hate to say it,

but it's probably me."

- Sting ("It's Probably Me.)}

{Samuel Clemens, ghost, again. Roland has managed to escape DayStar but with the threat of a return engagement.

Meilori's, being what it is, we are still not safe. We are not even in the same galaxy with "safe." And I will let Roland take it from here.} :

As DayStar's laughter lingered in the shadows,

the world around us smudged like a wet painting being smeared by an angry, dissatisfied artist.

The tango dancers were replaced by men in tuxedo's and women in gowns. Grace Jones was gone.

Duke Ellington and his band replaced her, playing "Harlem Nocturne." I felt as if I had wandered into some hellish nightclub of the 1930's.

Marlene hugged my right arm. "You were so brave, Liebling."

I felt sick inside. "I was not brave. I was what I had to be."

One finely etched eyebrow arched, and Marlene husked, "That is what it is to be brave."

Mark Twain winked and nodded. "What she said ... but without the sexy throb."

From the table to our left laughed a shockingly familar voice, ""I've seen it go worse with DayStar."

I turned and stiffened. A mature Humphrey Bogart. And next to him, a young Lauren Bacall. And across from them both,

the revenant (vampire),Major Strasser, in his dress white Gestapo uniform.

In his right hand was a luger. Pointed right at us.

His arching black eyebrows reminded me of swooping birds of prey. The black moustache seemed almost to crawl above his thin lips.

His eyes were as flat and glassy as a snake's ... but without as much warmth. "I will take care of the 'worse.'"

Mark Twain grunted, "What is it with everyone and lugers? They think one in the hand means the world by the tail."

Major Strasser barked a laugh. "Or a nuisance in the grave."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


{"Life is like a coin.

You can spend it any way you wish,

but you can only spend it once."

- Mark Twain.}

Ghost of Samuel Clemens here. Roland was a blogfest loving fool. He entered Christine's RAINY DAY blogfest.

I dug around in the innards of his computer contraption and found this :

{After Katrina, Samuel McCord, the man who cannot die, and his best friend, Renfield, the vampire priest

are sloshing their way to be helped or be killed by the undead Marie Laveau} :

As we stepped out into the night's light mist of rain, the black fog curled and creamed in the muggy air like a demon from the Other Side trying to take shape.

Crucified high in the sable sky, the moon of blood admired its reflection on the dark waters of the still flooded street.

Ripples of its long bloody image flowed from the floating dead body of a dog, like tiny red streams bleeding from its lonely soul.

The night suddenly became colder than it should have been. Much colder. And in an odd sense distant. Cold and distant like the promises of lost love.

I turned to Renfield. "Still want to come with me to Marie Laveau's?"

He went paler than I thought possible, but said, "I can take care of myself, Sam."

I nodded but still felt as isolated as a lost ship at sea. The night had become as intimate as a knife fight -- and about as friendly.

New Orleans was a city of the dead and the dying and not much else. The stink of death was thick in the air. Dead creatures still floated down the streets and over the sidewalks. Bloated-bellied dogs, cats, rats, and even one dead drug addict, finally at peace.

I spotted one death-swollen deer as I waded beside a strangely silent Renfield. Flattened birds were feathered pancakes on some club fronts we passed.

What had Thoreau written? “Our lives revolve unceasingly, but the center is ever the same. And the wise will only regard the seasons of the soul.”

The seasons of the soul.

I looked up into the endless sable depths between the stars. I felt like the wolf staring up into the dark universe, who never learns why he must live like he does. But still he sings to the moon. One lonely spirit to another.

We were almost there, near Rue Burgandy and Rampart Street. The night was still not my friend. Too much recent death had set the night trembling with vengeful, wandering souls.

Spirits, lost and angry, were trudging beside us. Because of Death's blood in my veins, I could see them slowly circling us as they had that night as I walked to the Convention Center.

Their shuffling feet were heavy behind us then grew silent. They flowed inches above the flooded sidewalk until they paced us. I could feel the touch of their sunken, hungry eyes on my throat.

If these dead wanted to drink from the living, they had come to a dry well with me and Renfield.

My face grew tight as I spotted the strangely untouched building in front of us. The fine mist dripping from the brim of my Stetson, I stopped at the elegant house I had been looking for.

We were at the home of the undead Marie Laveau.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


{“When the fox preaches, look to your geese.

Old German proverb – Marlene Dietrich.}

{You would think sheer terror would be beyond a ghost. Try a day as one, and you’ll find out different.

Samuel Clemens here.

When we last left Roland, he was facing off against the one I wrote of as The Mysterious Stranger.

Back at the nexus between realities, the jazz club called Meilori’s, Roland had just succeeded in totally angering a being whose merest look could kill.

A being who is wearing a copy of Roland’s own body. Let Roland take it from here.}

Meilori’s interior became shimmering and wavy as the heat rising from the desert floor. The nexus had changed our surroundings. Dancers, swaying to the steps of a tango, swirled around us.

On a raised dais that wasn’t there before, a lean, angular Grace Jones was singing “Strange, I’ve Seen That Face Before” in soft muted tones.

Our audience was unchanged though. DayStar turned his back on me, walking to the front rank of his listeners, going from me to them, their eyes getting wider by the second. He kept on speaking.

Marlene shimmered on one side of me, Mark Twain on the other. She looked from me to DayStar. "Oh, no, Liebling! The Adversary of All Life."

I shook my head. "Maybe or maybe that’s just his press release. I think he’s really just his own worst enemy. Everything else is just a means to the end of destroying himself."

Mark Twain looked intensely at me. "Do you know what you are doing, Roland?"

"Me? Hell, I’m just making this up as I go along."

"It is a dangerous way to combat The Mysterious Stranger."

"It does have the advantage of making it hard for my enemies to predict what I will do, when I don’t even know that myself."

Marlene clutched my upper right arm so tightly it hurt. "No physical weapon can harm him."

I shook my head. "Not going to use physical weapons."

Mark Twain scoffed, "What are you going to use? Harsh language?"

I nodded. "In a manner of speaking."

"Experience life," said DayStar in my voice from my face to the puzzled customers,

"do what is in the natural order, and do not worry about outcome. What is outcome but ripples? And what are ripples but the flowing of natural order?"

Marlene muttered, "I have read better fortune cookies."

I sighed, "He’s putting his own slant to the Bhagavad Gita."

Mark Twain raised an eyebrow."You have read that?"

"I always try to prove the opposite of what I believe. It makes my mind the sharper for doing it."

DayStar gestured hypnotically and graceful in the air with an exact copy of my right hand.

"Recognize sorrow as of the essence. When there is mind, there is sorrow, so empty the mind. We cannot rid the world of sorrow, but we can choose to live in joy."

A frail jackel-headed woman called out, "How can we do that?"

DayStar turned to her. "You must kill your god. If you are to advance, all fixed ideas must go."

I walked right up to him. "What a load of crap, DayStar."

There was a hush of sucked in breath as the crowd saw two of me in front of them. There was loud mutterings as they spotted Marlene and Mark on either side of me.

DayStar turned slowly and sneered with my lips. "Ah, Avalokiteshvara, I wondered when you would care to show up to protect your flock."

"Roland. Just Roland. And like I said before : what a load of crap."

"Crap to you but wisdom to them since it allows them to do as they please."

He smiled wide. "Did you know that the Avalokiteshvara is nearly always pictured flanked by two spirits called Taras, personifications of the tears of the Bodhisattva’s eyes?

Tara is Hindu for star, like the Sun and Moon that convinced that silly little French girl you were the Dagda as you twirled that useless saber."

He turned to the puzzled, uncomfortable crowd. "See? The rational mind exists in opposites. Love and hate. For you see, his sword is actually a benevolent instrument, clearing the way for growth."

"Another load of crap," I sighed.

I locked eyes with an exact duplicate of mine. "Hate is just nature’s way to make room for love, huh? Kill your god? And replace him with what? Rational thought?

I shook my head. “But then, you say the way to remove sorrow is to remove thought. But the only way to do that fully is death, right? That’s what kindergarten teachers call a circular argument, DayStar."

"Indeed? And what is your alternative, Just Roland?"


"Rather simplistic, if I may say so."

I nodded to him, unnerved by seeing my own eyes looking back at me. "You pride yourself in being ultimate evil."

"Do I?"

"Among other things. But let’s take evil since you take such pride in it. Evil cannot create. It can only pervert what is."

"Like I perverted your precious Rafferty."

"Which my two friends and I have changed."

I watched the other me shrug his shoulders. "It will just give me another chance to be more creative."

I sucked in a breath and let it out slow. "Evil can pervert, but only life can create, so life is greater than evil."

"Is that what you say to console yourself in my darkness?"

I shook my head again. "Darkness can only blanket what is. But one spark will push back that blackness. So light is greater than the darkness."

"I could kill you right here, right now."

My mouth going dry, I nodded. "Yet, death can only kill what is and nothing more. But what if all life died? Then, death would be no more. Death needs life to exist. But life goes on without death. So life is greater than death."

"You speak as if you actually knew."

"Thanks to my two friends besides me I do."

I turned to the white-lipped crowd. "Death is but a doorway to yet more life. I know. Like you, I feared death until my two friends here entered my world. Then, I saw it for what it was. I saw what lies beyond what you think is real."

I locked eyes with each of them in turn. "So the mind is greater than sorrow, than fear, than death, for it lives beyond their reach if it so chooses."

DayStar, wearing my body, walked to within two feet of me. "Now, you die."

I pulled myself up tall, tightening my stomach against the coming pain. "And when you kill me, you'll prove me right in their eyes."

My own face glaring at me got uglier than I thought my face could get. "This is my punishment ... I will let you live to suffer what lies ahead."

His face became his own. “We will meet again. And when we do … there will be flames.”

And he was gone. But his cold laughter remained behind him.

Monday, August 23, 2010


{"At some time in our lives a devil dwells within us,

causes heartbreaks, confusion and troubles.

We then either revolt or live as slaves to darkness.”
Theodore Roosevelt.}

{Ghosts learn not to say “I told you so.” But I wanted to tell Roland that.

After all, who was the beloved writing genius, him or me, Samuel Clemens?

It was too late, of course. He had already walked through the Door of Nasah, of testing. The ghost of Marlene Dietrich and I had been severed from him.

‘Course, whoever tried to cut us off from Roland hadn’t counted on the Valkyrie linking the three of us earlier back in our adventures.

But for a time, Roland is trapped by himself back in Meilori’s, facing his double. Now, let Roland tell his tale.}:

The me that sneered back into my eyes wasn't me, of course. Who was he? There was only one person in my novels who wore the faces of other people to mock them.


Who is DayStar you ask?

Good question. In my novels he was an almost supremely powerful paranormal who suffered from a unique delusion. The name he went by was a clue to his delusion.

DayStar. It was the English translation of the Latin name found in the Vulgate version of the book of Isaiah. The Latin name 'Lucifer.'

In my novels, I left it for the reader to decide if he was delusional or not. But if the Rind I had seen earlier here at Meilori's had been the real Death, who was this DayStar?

And did I really want to know?

He raised a hand absently, and the crowd around him froze. I went cold. He smiled colder.

“That is the least of what I am capable of, champion of truth.”

He face screwed up. “Truth? Bah! Truth is what I say it is.”

“You don’t look like President Obama.”

“You task me, talking monkey. You task me. Those who own the studio’s, the news outlets, the governments? I own them. They are puppets who dance when I pull their strings.”

“Gee, your fingers must get tired.”

His eyes said he wanted to rip off my lips. “What does it take to destroy you?”

Any answer to that seemed stupid or suicidal, so I merely said, “You’re behind the murder of the ghost of Hemingway?”

“Oh, puh-lease. That simple gambit?”

“Not so simple to me.”

His copy of my face sneered, “The clues are right in front of you. Hemingway BY your bed. That tramp IN your bed. Clues!”

“I don’t see ….”

“No. You do not see.”

He took in a deep breath. “Nor do you ask the obvious questions :

Why was that German actress in your bed in the first place?

Why was Hemingway by your bed? What was by Hemingway?

Marlowe literally handed you the answer, and you stared at it with all the awareness of a cow ready for slaughter.”

He stood there calmly, but his shadow flexed its fingers, then clenched them. And that creeped me out more than I can say.

“Marlene actually spoke the clearest clue, and you went on your way blindly like some ….”

He smiled wide. “… talking monkey.”

He gazed towards a horizon only he could see :

“Why would I want to kill the ghost of Hemingway and end his eternal wandering? All who die faithless are cursed to forever wander the face of your pathetic planet.”

He turned the copy of my eyes to me :

“It is why I do not want you killed. Why put a stop to your torment when you infect Marlene and Mark and thus lose them?”

I frowned, “So you don’t want me killed?”

He sighed as if at some addled child. “You are a virus, infecting each person you meet with your damnable worldview.”

He glared at me with my own eyes, unnerving the hell out of me :

“You inoculate by giving a person a mild form of the disease. I needed to undo the damage you have done by exposing them to you without that accursed faith of yours.”

I stared without understanding at the other me, and he growled,

“Rafferty was supposed to have been raped before your very eyes. That Victorian child’s death was supposed to have shattered the remnants of your faith.”

“Life happens,” I said. “So does death. Like the tides I can’t stop them. I can only be the change I want in the world.”

His eyes became slits, and he waved absently to the crowd, unfreezing them in time. “There are other ways to negate you, Talking Monkey.”

Sunday, August 22, 2010


{"Like cheap booze, you can't keep a bad ghost down."
- Anita Loos, ghost.}

All your glowing comments about my article I posted on the anniversary of my death made this down ghost feel up.

And let me tell you :

that's the first time this girl has been felt up by strangers in a long time.

No howls from the feminists, please. The trouble with the Women's Liberationists is that they keep getting up on soapboxes

and proclaiming women are brighter than men.

Which is true,

but it should be kept quiet, or it ruins the whole racket.

But I am pleased by VR's comment that she, too, has the same frame of mind as I do about our last names.

My brother, Clifford, would painstakingly correct anyone who mispronounced our name. I never cared what people called me.

So my brother was always Dr. 'Lohse' while I became Miss 'Loose.'

Which was fitting since to survive in the madness that was Hollywood in the 1920's, I had to play it fast and loose.

Hollywood was insane then. To place in the limelight a great number of people who ordinarily would be chambermaids and chauffeurs,

and give them unlimited power and wealth, was bound to produce lively results.

But Fate keeps on happening. And insanity has apparently become the norm in Hollywood.

Still and all, this is Roland's blog, and he likes to help out his fellow writers. Luckily for you, I do, too.

In fact, I'm going to give you a way never to be stuck for what to write next ever again.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? And here I am not even running for political office.

It relates to a trick I learned to lose weight : you always leave the table hungry.

You may not know this, but it takes a bite of food a half hour to make it down all those intestinal highways and byways to your stomach.

Eat til you feel full, and 30 minutes later, you'll feel over-stuffed -- because that is what you are.

In like manner, when you're writing and going good,

when you know what's going to happen next,


If you do that every day when you're writing your masterpiece, you will never be stuck.

Don't think or worry about the next scene. This way your subconscious will work out all sorts of nifty details as you go about the rest of your day's activities.

Consciously think about what you will write next, and you'll be tired before you start.

It's like staring at the brooding, silent phone, willing it to ring, thinking about that damn man who won't call.

By the time he does call, you're so tired of waiting and out of sorts, you haven't the wit or the patience to put him down like the sick dog he is.

Now, this trick won't make you rich, but wanting to be rich is all too human and all too useless.

There is a serious defect in the thinking of someone who wants --

more than anything else --

to become rich.

As long as they don't have the money, it'll seem like a worthwhile goal.

Once they do, they'll understand how important other things are --

Like enjoying each breath you breathe, the taste of that luscious strawberry, each light caress of your lover's fingertips on your cheek --

all those things I took for granted,

until I died.

Don't you be like me, girls. Please.

Well, maybe just a little bit. "Naughty" can have its own rewards.
Speaking of naughty ...

take a peek into the world in which I grew up :

Saturday, August 21, 2010


{"Read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.

Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master.

Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window and start again wiser."

-William Faulkner.}

William Faulkner, ghost, here :

Don't be 'a writer'. Be writing :

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

And to work well you must write with the embers of truth stinging your eyes.

You can have 13 people looking at a black bird and none of them will get it right. No one individual can look at truth.

Even simple truth. Look deep enough, and the simplicity disappears in the murky depths.

Truth blinds you. It is too much for one set of perceptions to take in. To a man with rose-tinted glasses, the whole world is rose.

And so it is with the writer looking at Man.

We call ourselves Homo Sapien, the reasoning animal. But Man is not made of reason.

A man is the sum of his misfortunes. One day you'd think misfortune would get tired, but then time is its own misfortune as well.

And so all human behavior is unpredictable. Considering Man's fragility and the ramshackle universe he functions in, how could it be otherwise?

So how does that affect you as a writer?

1) The writer must not set himself up as judge :

He must focus on action, the character's behavior. Maybe your protagonist, like so many people, has no concept of morality,

only an integrity to hold always to what he believes to be facts and truths of the human condition.

2) The character does what his nature dictates.

He acts not as the writer would, not as a man should do, but what he will do -- maybe what he can't help but do. Which leads me to my greatest fear :

3) I fear that Man is losing his individualism, his sense of self, in doing what the herd does in order to stay safe.

Which is why I do not belong to anything besides the Human Race, and I try to be a first rate member of that.

4) You are first rate as a human being and a writer if :

you do the best you can with what talents you have to make something positive that wasn't there yesterday.

How do you do that you ask :

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. And he makes his home of the stones of his efforts.

How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home until I realized that home to a writer is where his mind, his heart is.

5) Most men are a little better than their circumstances give them a chance to be. Strive to thrive where you are. "How?" you ask again. And I will tell you :

You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything good.

You have to have courage. Courage is not so hard to have in writing if you remember that :

All of us have failed to match our dream of perfection.

6) I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible. If I could write all my work again, I'm convinced I could do it better.

This is the healthiest condition for an artist. That's why he keeps working, trying again: he believes each time that this time he will do it, bring it off.

Of course he won't. Which leads us to the next point.

7) The phenomenon of writing is its hermaphroditism:

the principles of victory and of defeat inhabit the same body

and the necessary opponent, the blank page, is merely the bed he self-exhausts on.

8) You can learn writing, but you cannot teach it. A paradox but true despite that.

And what have I learned from my novels?

I learned how to approach language, words:

not with seriousness so much as an essayist does,

but with a kind of alert respect, as you approach dynamite;

even with joy, as you approach women: perhaps with the same secretly unscrupulous intentions.

Are you a writer? Really? Then, what are you doing about it? Go, write. And remember :

Dreams have only one owner at a time. That's why dreamers are lonely.

And that's why a dream is not a very safe thing to be near...

I know; I had one once.

It's like a loaded pistol with a hair trigger: if it stays alive long enough,

somebody is going to be hurt. But if it's a good dream, it's worth it.
A little humor icing on this literary cake :


Friday, August 20, 2010


2nd day entry to GUESS THAT CHARACTER :

No painting exists of me. No photo. The above is the only Aztec carving I did not destroy.

The human, JC, came closest to my bearing.

The humans, Talli and Rayna, made me consider allowing Angelina Jolie to portray me in a movie.

The human, Olivia, first correctly guessed my name :

I am Meilori Shinseen, empress of the Ningyo Shadow Empire,

wife to Samuel McCord --

owner of the jazz club/dimensional nexus, named after me.

captain of the Texas Rangers,

King of fools,

and captor of my heart.

None have painted me and lived ... until my husband painted me with words. Listen to Samuel's description of me when we first met :

I stiffened as the fog thinned enough for me to make out her slanted eyes, not quite Japanese, not quite Chinese, but a beautiful blend of the two.

But no. She was of a different race entirely. The fog had thrown me off.

The woman spoke, and it was as if her vocal chords were velvet. Her accent. It sent shivers through me. It was like human speech itself was a foreign language to her.

She was one of those haunted-eyed women you attached your own hidden fears and silent sorrows to.

Close-up her eyes weren't cold jade as they had seemed farther away. They were filled with echoes of regret. The coldness had just been a bold front to hide the fact that they'd lost their way a long time ago.

There were disturbing depths of sadness in those eyes. Depths in whose darkness swam the monsters which drive us or haunt us or both.

Those depths whispered of age more ancient than the Aztecs, more dangerous than even my past. They both beckoned and warned at the same time.


If you listen with your third ear, you will hear a young Marlene Dietrich singing of me in the decadent Berlin of 1927 :

"Want to buy some illusions,
Slightly used, second hand?
They were lovely illusions,
Reaching high, built on sand.

They had a touch of Paradise,
A spell you can't explain :
For in this crazy Paradise,
You are in love with pain.

Want to buy some illusions,
Slightly used, just like new?
Such romantic illusions --
And they're all about you.

I sell them all for a penny,
They make pretty souvenirs.
Take my lovely illusions --
Some for laughs, some for tears."

Frederick Hollander wrote that for me. Marlene sang it at my table in her black tuxedo. Samuel held my hand -- and my heart -- throughout the song. It did not help.

I am Meilori Shinseen. I am Ningyo. I am Empress.

And I alone know the end of my song -- and Samuel's.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


The ghost of Samuel Clemens here.

Roland gave his word to enter the GUESS MY CHARACTER BLOGFEST

I stood in for him and asked the woman who scares me as much as Death to write the entry:

I am Dream. I am Nightmare. I am Legend.

I was born of stardust and the sea ... the second time.

For me to tell you of my first birth would be your death. Not that I am adverse to the death of humans. Far from it.

Do you want to hear of it? I thought not.

But talk of it has sparked images of home.

No alien shore in all this world has any strong deep charm for me but those sands made from the crushed skulls of my kind's enemies.

For me its balmy airs are still blowing, its summer seas yet flashing in the setting sun.

In my nostrils still breathes the breath of flowers long dead in Babylon's fabled gardens -- flowers I brought to it from my ... home.

My thoughts are not your thoughts. My ways are not your ways. I do not envy you your stunted vision.

I have smiled down from my throne upon Aztec natives as they bore me screaming sacrifices. I taught Nero the tune he played to the roaring fires that roasted his helpless subjects.

Proud shoguns cowered before me when they called me Empress Himiko. Soon I tired of their little island nation, tired of their jade statues of me.

I rode down shrieking peasants as I scattered the seeds which bore the Black Death among them. The resultant chaos plowed their graves into fertile soil for my kind to flourish.

But over these past two hundred years, I have grown soft. Whenever I would give sway to the passions burning within me, I felt the sad eyes of my husband upon me. My misguided, naive, noble husband.

And I found myself becoming the hero he was, the hero he thought me to be. The fool.

The decade before we met, he named his restaurant, CASA, home. It was a gift from a wealthy woman grateful for her life he saved.

When we married, he changed its name to mine, making it a place of music.

His smile seemed to glow from his heart when he told me, "I really didn't change the name, for you are home to me."

And sentimental cow that I had become, I wept. No wonder I left him and New Orleans.

Then, why do I feel the ghost of his lips on mine and an empty ache in a heart that felt so full when his arms were around me?
Samuel Clemens, ghost, here. For those of you who wonder what Roland saw in Marlene, here is something that might help explain :

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


{"Today there are no fairy tales for us to believe in,

and this is possibly a reason for the universal prevalence of mental crack-up.

Yes, if we were childish in the past, I wish we could be children once again."

- Anita Loos.}

Sam, that's Samuel Clemens to you still-mortals, is morose. Seems no one is visiting this blog anymore. I told him it needed a women's touch.

Being Sam, he said, "Have at it, woman."

What artist could resist such an invitation? Besides I'm a bit morose today, too. I died on this date in 1981.

"And who am I?," you say. Great. You people are such a boost to a girl's morale.

Hmm, who am I? Let's just say you're lucky I'm not Plato or Freud. You'd get such an answer it would put you to sleep in an eyeblink.

Ever hear of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES? I wrote it back in 1926, its 1200 first edition copies selling out by noon of the day of its publication. The second edition numbered 65,000.

By 1966, there were 45 more editions, and the whole world was reading my book. Though some were downright party-poopers about it :

When the book reached Russia,

I was told by our then Ambassador, William Bullitt,

that the Soviet authorities embraced it as evidence of the exploitation of helpless female blondes by predatory magnates of the capitalistic system.

As such, the book had a wide sale, but Russia never sent me any royalties,

which seems rather like the exploitation of a helpless brunette author by a predatory Soviet regime.

Men! You can't live with them. And there're too many to kill.

Oh, there's a right way to pronounce my name, but it's too much trouble to correct everyone. So I pronounce it Luce. You might as well, too.

If you girls and boys are lucky, I'll drop by again and teach you a few tricks ... writing tricks. The other kinds you'll have to pick up on your own.

It's more fun that way. And remember : gentlemen may prefer blondes, but they marry brunettes.


{“We are all serving a life sentence in the prison of the mind.”

- Mark Twain.}

{Samuel Clemens, ghost, here.

Some of you out there wonder why I speak of Roland as if he were dead.

He is.

Died in the Shadowlands. All that remains of him is his slightly burnt journal.

I gave him my word I would take care of Gypsy and man his blog until his rent came due.

I’ve been posting entries from his smoke-stained journal, detailing what led to his dying in Marlene’s arms … and then, her being murdered by ….

Dang tears. Excuse me a minute.

Anyway, when we last left him …

Roland, the ghost of Marlene Dietrich, and I have finally shed Death. When she wasn’t frightening me near to senselessness, she was confusing the tarnation out of me.

Death has opened the dreaded Door of Nasah, (which I have since learned is ancient Hebrew for TESTING),

opening the way back to Meilori’s, that supernatural jazz club and possible sanctuary for us. Roland enters first. And I will let Roland carry on from there.} :

I heard both Marlene and Mark yelp in surprise as the darkness swallowed us. I went cold inside. I couldn't feel them inside my mind anymore.

I was alone.

And the blackness became alive.

What I saw taught me a terrible lesson :

We are all of us deceived.

Science tells us that the world is in constant motion.

It is but illusion. Reality is but static moments in time, placed one after another. All still as your last breath, they are frozen in the fabric of eternity, waiting for you to enter them.

As the darkness smothered me, my Lakota blood showed me one glimpse into life after another :

Along the trees of Piccadilly Circus, little girls in sprigged muslin giggled as they rolled their wooden hoops, the long navy ribbons of their straw hats fluttering in the spring breeze.

Along the Thames, half-lidded young women twirled their parasols and looked coyly at their young men rowing them across the calm waters.

In New York’s Central Park, a young poet sat beneath an acacia tree believing that life would be beautiful forever.

In one dark boardroom after another, fat power brokers sipped their brandy, smoked their expensive cigars, and dreamed of the world grasped firmly in their hands.

And alone, the ghost of Ernest Hemingway was sprawled motionless by my bed, his dropped cigar still smoldering.

And that last image was all that meant a damn to me.

He had been my friend. And no one killed my friends without paying the price. And if that meant me breaking my promise to myself never to kill again, so be it.

And with that grim resolution, the world came to life around me. I was in Meilori's again. In the very part of it where Toya had ambushed me. I looked about.

Neither Sam, Toya, or Bast was there. But there was someone I recognized. He was talking to a group of fascinated, admiring beings, some human, some anything but.

I went all cold inside.

There was a reason I recognized that person.

He was me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


{"I don’t want realism. I want magic!"
- Tennessee Williams.}

Ghost of Tennessee here. And if you have to ask "Tennessee" who, shame on you.

The ghost of Samuel Clemens, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty (she smiles so sweetly when she deals off the bottom,)

and I were playing poker last night.

Bill mentioned the two articles he wrote on Roland's blog at Sammy's behest. (Yes, I have on occasion visited him and his mysterious, mischievous cat, Gypsy.)

Bill's words positively fascinated me. You see, we ghosts are much like caged birds.

We yearn to roam, but are trapped by the chains of the consequences of our lives. Like caged birds, we ghosts accept each other.

But flight is what we long for.

To reach out and teach unknown strugglers how to better their craft would be a form of flight.

To write again.

I felt almost light-headed. I had forgotten the old passion.

Sammy was all too happy to let me try my hand at teaching. So here I am.

At the age of fourteen I discovered writing as an escape from a world of reality in which I felt acutely uncomfortable.

I didn't want reality. I wanted magic!

And magic is what I could have by entering the worlds I created for myself.

You want to know, of course, how to make that magic.

Oh, to be able to tell you. Good writing is like life, and life is an unanswered question.

But let us believe in the importance of the question itself and seek the answer together.

Writing, like life, is partly what we make it,

and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.

The strongest influences in my life and my work are always whomever I love.

Whomever I love and am with most of the time,

or whomever I remember most vividly. Isn't that true of you?

Quality in our writing does not come cheaply.

It is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.

You cannot expose a weakness in your novel unless you know it through having it yourself.

After all, every one of us are but guinea pigs in the laboratory of God. Humanity is only a work in progress.

You must make the characters in your novel alive -- as alive as if they lived with you, which in a sense they do.

The color, the grace and levitation, the structural pattern in motion,

the quick interplay of live beings, suspended like fitful lightning in a cloud, these things are the novel,

not flat words on paper, nor thoughts and ideas of an author, those shabby things snatched off crowded counters at Wal-Mart.

You must make your characters alive in the minds of your readers. You must make the reader believe in the the reality of your story.

How do you do that?

Some mystery should be left in the revelation of character in a novel,

just as a great deal of mystery is always left in the revelation of character in life,

even in one's own character to himself.

The second key is honesty.

If the writing is honest, it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it. And to be honest, you have to know the human heart.

To be honest of the human heart you must not be straight.

A line can be straight,

or a street,

but the human heart, oh, no, it's curved like a road through mountains.

And so the storylines of your novel must equally be as winding and as intricate.

To be honest about life is to know it is a literal dead-end street.

We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out,

just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.

How your characters face that fate determines whether your prose has depth of heart or the shallowness of

Each novel is the "Twilight Of The Gods" in some form or aspect. You choose the colors of that twilight. Be honest. Be true to the truth inside you.

Only you know what that truth is.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


{"A man's moral conscience is the curse he had to accept from the gods in order to gain from them the right to dream."

- William Faulkner.}

The ghost of William Faulkner here :

I have found that the greatest help in meeting any problem is to know where you yourself stand. That is, to have in words what you believe and are acting from.

But there is a terrible irony in that.

It took me dying to understand life. I thought I knew what life was as you think you know.

You are wrong.

Life is ephemeral, elusive, and beyond the capacity of words to adequately convey.

Your worldview, as was mine, is as simplistic and crude as an Etch-A-Sketch rendering of the Mona Lisa.

I would say that music is the easiest means in which to express life,

but since words are my talent, I must try to express clumsily in words what the pure music would have done better.

You believe McCord is only a creature of Roland's mind.

Roland's Lakota blood brings to life all to which he invests his love and care. But then, how can you explain that I can remember meeting McCord in New Orleans in the 1920's?

Is the power of the spirit, of the mind such that it can transcend time itself?

I could try to explain what my ghostly senses have seen but it would be as pointless as giving caviar to an elephant.

Instead I will write of that time when I still was alive, still saw as a human sees.

The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.

And that is what I will try to do now for you.

The best job that was ever offered to me was to become a landlord in a brothel.

In my opinion it's the perfect milieu for an artist to work in. McCord offered it to me. And I took it for awhile.

I got more than money for that job, I received a way of looking at life that transformed me into the writer that I became.

McCord became my Socrates. He hardly ever spoke but guided my thoughts with a stray word or question, letting me come up with my own conclusions.

The first thing he taught me : the past is never dead. It's not even past.

The second thing he helped me see : the salvation of the world is in man's suffering. The scattered tea goes with the leaves, and every day a sunset dies.

One day during the time while McCord and I walked and talked in New Orleans – or I talked and he listened - I found him sitting on a bench in Jackson Square, laughing to himself.

I got the impression that he had been there like that for some time, just sitting alone on the bench laughing to himself.

This was not our usual meeting place. We had none.

He lived in his French Quarter night club, Meilori's. And without any special prearrangement, we would meet somewhere between his club and the Square after I had something to eat at noon.

I would walk in the direction of his club. And if I did not meet him already strolling or sitting in the Square, I would simply sit down on a bench where I could see his doorway and wait until he came out.

I can see him still –

A ramrod straight man in his early fifties, clad entirely in black : black broadcloth jacket, shirt, tie, and slacks. His boots were black, as well, and polished so that the sun struck fire from them. Even his Stetson was black.

All of which made the silver star on his jacket stand out like a campfire in the night. It was said he had once been a Texas Ranger.

He never talked to me of those days - at least not before that afternoon.

This time he was already sitting on the bench, laughing. I sat down beside him and asked what was so funny. He looked at me for a long moment.

"I am," he said.

And to me that was the great tragedy of his character, for he meant it. He knew people did not believe he was who the legends claimed. How could he be?

They thought him an actor paid to play a part.

Except when the darkness came for them, then they came running, praying he was what the tales on the street whispered : a monster who killed monsters.

He expected people nowhere near his equal in stature or accomplishment or wit or anything else, to hold him in scorn and derision ... in the daylight.

In spite of that he worked earnestly and hard at helping each wounded soul he met.

It was as if he said to himself : 'They will not hurt as I have hurt. I will show them that they matter because their pain matters to me.'

"Why do you speak of yourself like that?," I asked.

"Today marks the hundred year anniversary," he said.

"Of what?"

"Drop by my table at the club this evening, and I will tell you."

And that evening I did just that. We sat, with a bottle now, and we talked.

At first he did not mention the hundred year anniversary. It was as if he was slowly working himself up to something long avoided.

We talked of everything it seemed.

How a mule would work ten years for you willingly and patiently just for the privilege of kicking you once. How clocks kill time, that only when the clocks stop does time come to life.

And how given a choice between grief and nothing, he would choose grief.

When he had said those last words, McCord met my eyes with his own deep ones and said,

"There is something about taking a stand against the darkness, something that makes you feel good. Perhaps it's the risk, the gamble. In any event it's a thing I need.

His eyes seemed to sink into his wolf's face. "But there is a price."

"What price?," I whispered.

"To understand the world, you must first understand the human heart. But none of us understand that mystery. So we make mistakes."

He closed his eyes. "And those mistakes kill those we love."

He rose from the table, walking into the shadows and speaking to me from over his shoulder.

"No battle is ever won. They are not even fought for the reasons you tell yourself. The battlefield only reveals your own folly and despair. And victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools."

The darkness swallowed him, and the night suddenly seemed to be my enemy.



{"If you ask a hungry man how much two plus two is, he will reply four loaves."
-Mark Twain.}

Nikola Tesla told me, ghost to ghost, not to use Roland's prose as a blunt instrument.

To leaven the flour, so to speak, with a little lesson on writing, or what not, every now and again.

Nikola's a smart one, even for a ghost, so I thought I'd listen to him.


I've been thinking some on that subject.

Like that hungry man I started out with -- how what we hear depends upon what we're listening for.

I remember walking down a busy downtown street in 'Frisco a century or two ago with an Injun of my acquaintance.

I was in the midst of the most sage pontificating you ever heard when he suddenly pulled up short and bent down.

Lord Almighty, if he didn't pick up a chirping grasshopper, of all things, from the corner of a store door.

He walked carefully over to a nearby planter and dropped it in.

"You mean to tell me," I said, "that you heard that little fella over all this hustle and bustle?"

"Do you have a silver dollar, Clemens?"

"Why I sure do."

"Let me see it."

So I dug it out of the warmth and security of my vest pocket and handed it to him.

Wouldn't you know that danged Injun flipped it high in the air where it clattered to the floorboards of the sidewalk.

I swear there was a such a mad scrabble of folks clawing for my dollar, it took all I had to snatch it from the hands of an ample matron.

Being a gentleman and all, I only left a bruise or two on her doing it.

Well, it was my dollar, dang it.

She told me where I could go for my next vacation. I informed her that I would join her there come the next cold front in that place.

That Injun shook his head at me. "I heard a living creature in the path of blind feet. They heard the hungry cry of free money. You hear what you listen for, Clemens."

And just what has that got to with writing?

Well, listening is what killed Hemingway the first time around. Yes, that's right. Listening.

You see, a long time ago, Hemingway stopped listening - except to the answers to his own questions.

Maybe that's what dried him up -- not listening outside the Greek chorus inside his own mind : "Ernest. Ernest. Papa. Papa."

No insult meant to him. It happens to all of us. We see well enough. We just stop listening.

It dried the wellspring inside his soul. He was dead long before he pulled the trigger.

You say : that's fine to say of him, of yourself. The world's has changed.

But not human nature.

Lord Almighty, I've seen it all go, and I'll watch it go again.

If you would be good writers, children, thing to do is to last, to get your work done -- see and hear and learn and understand.

Write when you've done all that and not before.

Then, your readers will actually experience your tale.

But to do that you have to use the right word for the right thing. The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

As you would filet a fish, filet your prose. Strip every sentence to its cleanest state.

Every word that serves no function,

every long word that could be a short word,

every adverb that carries the same meaning that’s already in the verb,

every passive construction that leaves the reader unsure of who is doing what to whom -- carve it out as you would the bones from a bass.

After every sentence, ask yourself what the reader wants to know next.

Good writers write in such a way that one can read them aloud and know what they mean.

Bad writers have to be studied and re-read and pondered like that bejiggered James Joyce.

His ghost still holds a grudge against me for putting out a cigar in his ULYSSES. I thought I was downright subtle in my critique of his book.

It's not like my books haven't had their share of insults.

I've been tarred and feathered for HUCK FINN.

But you can't make your world come alive for the readers without putting in the bad and the ugly as well as what is beautiful.

Because if it is all beauty and victory and rose sunsets, the readers won't believe in it. Life isn't like that.

Roland's certainly wasn't.

Now, I've gone and done it. Dang tears. I can't see the letters on this bejiggered contraption anymore. I have to stop now.

If you want me to, I'll post another entry from his journal Monday.
Nikola tells me I'm old-fashioned, even for a ghost. He wants me to add this song. Have I told you that old Nikola's a strange bird? Well, he is.

By the way, unknown to that band, Nikola is one of them -- the fella with the strange eyes behind that gal in the first photograph.

Like Wagner, this music is better than it sounds. The start and end of this song gave me a nosebleed, and the middle gave me a stomach ache :