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Saturday, August 6, 2011

WHY FRIENDSHIP?


Friendship.

Anais Nin, the enigmatic French author famous for her journals spanning 60 fascinating years, wrote :

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world dawns."

It would be hard to say whether King Solomon was made more alone by his many wives or by the prison of his throne.


Nonetheless, King Solomon wrote : "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up."

Friendship.


It is what is so very lacking in today's cyber-society where everyone is twittering, but no one is listening. Or giving a damn. They are hunched over their blackberries, waiting impatiently for the message to end so they can jump in with, what is essentially, a "Listen to me!"

Because so few of us have it, friendship and its portrayal are what will bring us back to a novel over and over again. I know that it is the case for me. And for the friends I talk to.

Frodo and Sam. Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Spencer and Hawk (from the always entertaining Robert B. Parker series.) Elvis Cole and Joe Pike (from the Robert Crais fascinating detective series.) Bill and Ted. Calvin and Hobbes.

Family is a crap shoot. Love cools. But friendship endures.

Friendship is one of the cornerstones of my surreal Noir, FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE. Two friends :


Samuel McCord, agnostic undead Texas Ranger. Renfield, haunted revenant priest.

They have known one another since Istanbul was Constantinople and honor still had meaning.

Both love mysterious, beautiful, deadly women. McCord would say all beautiful women are both mysterious and deadly. His love is Meilori, a being from another plane of existence. "Born of stardust and the sea" as she once told him.

And Father Renfield loves Sister Magda, the nun who serves with him in his church. Of course, there is a unique back story there. But I'll let Sam tell it :

{At this point in the novel, Sam is helping Renfield clean up his church after Katrina, musing on his past relations with the Vatican} :


I'd had a pretty good relationship with the last Pope. I'd fought Nazi's with him back when he was studying in that underground seminary in Poland. I smiled thinking of how he posed as a priest while only a seminarian. And how he gave false baptismal records to fleeing Jews in the underground. He called it his elective course in the humanities. I sighed as my chest grew heavy. He was gone. Another friend was gone. It seemed just when I started liking somebody, they left me.

A shout of dismay brought me out of my musings. One of the statues in the main sanctuary was toppling over. And a nun was directly underneath it. Cursing under my breath despite the surroundings, I raced as fast as my bad right knee would let me. But I made it in time. Barely.

I grunted as I caught the marble statue of Jesus struggling under the cross with a bit of a struggle myself. But I managed. Being careful not to crack it, I shoved it back into its ornate niche. Now, I was kind of unsure if he was who he said he was.

And on top of that, it was only a representation of him, mind you. Still I knew my strange luck. If I handled the statue carelessly, it would turn out he was the real deal. And I was kind of uncertain how He would feel about some of the trails I had blundered down in my life. Best to err on the side of respectful caution. I looked down at the nun.

"Magda, you've got to be more careful."

Sister Romani looked up at me with deep eyes of summer seas from out of the kind of face that had men embezzeling from orphanages and starting wars. Her thick, silky black hair cascaded through the modern habit that had been brushed back on her head by my shoving her out of harm's way. There was a single one inch wide streak of moon-silver along the right side close by her temple -- a gift of sorts from Estanatlehi, whom the ancient Greeks had named Gaia and whom I now called 'Mother.'

Magda tapped the worn leather pouch of nails hanging from her rope belt. "He would never have harm coming to me from His statue."

I arched an eyebrow. "You stole those nails from that centurion over two thousand years ago. You think He has that long a memory?"

"Of course."

"That's what I was afraid of," I muttered.

I studied her intently. She'd been there. I felt a weight ease off my chest. I could ask her.

"Magda, did you see --"

Her face grew sad. "Him emerge from the tomb? No, Samuel, I was on the run from the Romans at the time and for some time afterwards. I just take it that He truly did rise since I am still alive some two thousands years later."

I bit back the words from my tongue and kept from telling her that her still living came from Estanatlehi. In love with language as much as she was, she had been fascinated with the parables of Jesus. And she took Magda's theft kindly and had rewarded her. I sighed. Still no answers. It was getting to be a frustrating tradition with me.

"Magda!," panted Renfield as he rushed up to her, out of breath more from fear than running, especially since he didn't breathe anymore.

He took both of her hands in his. "You must be more careful."

"You men, oh, foo on the two of you," she laughed, squeezing his hands lightly and not letting go.

"'Fu' is Mandarin for 'Good Luck' you know," I smiled at the two of them.

She made a face at me. "And you with that musty Jesuit education of yours."

"Well, they weren't exactly Jesuits."

She snorted, "Nor would I guess that you were exactly the best of students either."

"Reckon you got me there."

But she wasn't looking at me anymore. She and Renfield only had eyes for one another. Their fingers were still entwined as were their hearts. Long before they had become priest and nun, they had been man and wife. Each had entered the Vatican's service in response to my worst enemy's first demand to end their son's misery and curse. His second demand was for Renfield to assume that curse -- to become the vampire he still was.

DayStar, my worst enemy, being what he was, had still found a way to take their son from them anyway. But both Magda and Renfield were as good as their word. They remained true to both of their vows that they had taken -- though it took some doing to reconcile the two into a working system. But the pair had found a way, filled with hunger and hope, mind you. But isn't that much like life for the rest of us? The street people in the church were still and silent. They knew the story. And me? I felt hot tears blur my vision. I had failed my best friend.

I should have been smarter, should have figured out some way to defeat DayStar, found some method to save my friend's son, and to end the curse which tormented him hourly. He deserved a better friend than me. And me? I didn't deserve for him to call me 'friend.' I deserved to be called the monster I was. And you know what they did to monsters.



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I'll let Mark Twain have the last word on friendship : "Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with."
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At the moment, I am listening to "Into the Dark" by Jesse Cook. He is a Toronto-based Nuevo Flamenco guitarist, born in Paris to Canadian parents. It spins the mind. He was raised in the region in southern France known as the Camargue, growing up with the sounds and influences of Gypsy music {probably why my cat loves his music.} Check out his site on myspace : www.myspace.com/jessecook. I especially like the second youtube video on Jesse's page. Hey, c'mon, check it out. You don't want a gypsy curse, do you?


12 comments:

  1. Hi Roland .. friendship - you seem to have described it exactly and given wonderful quotations .. especially the Mark Twain quote .. and love is to love the beautiful imperfections.

    Great music by Jesse Cook - certainly very evocative .. I'm listening now!

    Cheers and hope you can have some cooling (A/C) time over the weekend .. Hilary

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  2. I loved reading this--you are so right about friendship. Such a timely post, as I am visiting a friend I've had for over twenty years. Thank you.

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  3. I would add Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger - sorry, I'm a huge HP fan! I'm lucky enough myself to have forever friends - there are six of us and we've been friends for nearly 40 years. I can go to any of them at any time if I'm in need. Thanks for the great post! I think I'll call a friend now :)

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  4. What a beautiful ode to friendship.

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  5. Hello, Hilary :
    I'm enduring the oven to comment and say HI. Isn't Jesse Cook a great, evocative artist?

    May your own weekend be a special one.

    Flying High In The Sky :
    Thanks so much. I believe friendship is one of the greatest gifts we can give one another, Roland

    Julie :
    I hope your 20 year friendship continues for decades more. And much thanks for liking my post.

    Lola X :
    Off to visit your blog. Thanks for the kind words.

    Lady Gwen :
    I had my childhood League of Five. Sadly, violence, tragedy, or illness have taken them all but me. And yes, the Big Three of HP definately qualify.

    Heather :
    Thanks. I tried to sing the praises of a bond all too often forgotten these hectic days. Have a great weekend, Roland

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  6. A FINE tribute my friend ....

    Friends can be had anywhere EVEN in cyberspace. Look at all the friendships you've made online.....

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  7. A beautiful tribute Roland. I especially love the opening poem. I never tire of hearing this song; it is beautiful and relaxing.

    Reading excerpts of French Q is what draw me to your blog in the first place. I think I fell in love with Sam. I've purchased the novel but haven't had the time to read it yet - or Path Back To Dawn. I think I need to take about 2 months off just to catch up on all the reading I'd like to accomplish. My kindle is full of awesome authors like yourself.

    Have a good weekend; hope you get some cool air soon.

    ........dhole

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  8. Michael :
    Your friendship is one of my greatest finds I've made in cyber-space. Have a great weekend, Roland

    Donna :
    I am with you. I have so much great reading in my own Kindle, but work, heat exhaustion, and writing Victor's sequel, MORE THAN A NAME is taking all my time. Whew! Even at night, it is 101 degrees in my oven apartment!! Roland

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  9. I love this post. Children experience everything with wonder. Age tends to fade out the colors...even if you resist, the way I do. :) Friendship is an incredible entity. I call it that because it changes us. I believe that each time we meet someone we have a gift to offer...something that's missing in their lives that we can supply. They do the same in return. It's probably a good thing that we don't Twitter. I find your philosophical views highly appealing. We could have long drawn out conversations. Have a great day!

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  10. Laila :
    My thoughts don't fit easily into Twitter's limited range of characters. Guess because I'm too much of a character! LOL. I think we might just be kindred spirits. Cyber kindred spirits are the safest kind! Roland

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