So you can read my books

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


“I hope you will have a wonderful year,

that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously,

that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it,

that you will be loved and that you will be liked,

and that you will have people to love and to like in return.

And, most importantly

(because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now),

that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes,

then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself,

changing yourself, changing your world.

You're doing things you've never done before,

and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself.

Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes.

Make mistakes nobody's ever made before.

Don't freeze, don't stop,

don't worry that it isn't good enough,

or it isn't perfect, whatever it is:

art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

 {Samuel Clemens in 1867}


Territorial Enterprise, January 1, 1863


"Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.

Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.

Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath.

To-day, we are a pious and exemplary community.

Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds

and gone to cutting our ancient short comings considerably shorter than ever.

We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time.

However, go in, community.

New Year's is a harmless annual institution,

of no particular use to anybody

save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions,

and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion."


The shades of years past watch us.

We, of the modern age, stumble and bumble our way,

sure of our sophistication and education.

But what if there are principles of which we are unaware that take no notice of our ignorance of them ...

only chastise us when we break them.

After all, gravity takes no breaks ...

it only gives them

Take "First Foot,"

a custom concerning the first visitor of the New Year to a home.

His function is to bring prosperity and good fortune for the ensuing 12 months to those he visits.

He comes just as soon as possible after midnight, bringing gifts which symbolize plentiful food, health, and wealth. Sometimes he carries an evergreen branch as a symbol of continuing life.

Strict rules govern the choice of First Foot:

Male always for he symbolizes the New Year.

No redheads need apply.

The luckiest representative is a dark-haired stranger, symbolizing a new year full of undiscovered mysteries.

An old form of First Foot has the visitor entering silently,
greeted by none.

He goes straight to the hearth, laying the evergreen branch on the fire and a sprig of mistletoe on the mantle above. Then, he turns and greets those living in the home, and festivities ensue.

I wonder what thought first visited the homes of our minds last year?

Did it symbolize the atmosphere, the temper of our thoughts for the remaining 12 months?

What thought do you think should first visit your mind this New Year? What First Foot will be your physical first visitor?

Can you remember who first entered your home last January? Did he or she reflect the luck and temper of the following 12 months?

Just thought it would be fun to think on these questions, Roland

Monday, December 30, 2013


{Like DEATH IN THE HOUSE OF LIFE'S FB page, Meilori is getting moody!}
30,000 years ago ... yesterday
Or so it often seems to Empress Meilori Shinseen ...
       sometimes called She Who Devours or Sekhmet
        or Beloved by her cursed husband, Captain Samuel McCord.
Civilized Man knows that the pyramids were not built by slaves, but by paid laborers. 

He knows that they were encased in white-washed limestone and topped with gold

so that they gleamed in the desert sun, visible for miles.

He knows that the passageways under the Sphinx do not lead to the missing tomb of Akhenaten,

King Tut's father and radicalist who changed the polytheism religious structure of Egypt

to a monotheism worshipping only the sun God Ra.

Civilized Man knows that ancient Egypt was never visited from beyond the stars.

The Beings in the shadows laugh at civilized Man.

    But Mark Twain is used to laughter ...

    And Samuel McCord never claimed to be civilized.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

DEATH IN THE HOUSE OF LIFE_Not Everything in Ancient Tombs Is Dead

Before Indiana Jones ... 

        Before Allan Quartermain ... 

             There was ... 

Samuel McCord 

Join the cursed Texican as 

     He clashes with the last survivor of an extinct species in the Missouri of 1848. 

     He communes with the Spirit of the Earth in the Hawaii of 1866. 

      He is betrayed into the hands of the British government in 1895 Cairo. 

Thrill to his escapes from ancient death traps in the ruins of the lost city of Tanis. 

Match wits with him 

      As he duels grey aliens and seeks to decipher the mysteries left behind by the aliens who were the basis for the gods of Ancient Egypt. 

     As he seeks to save the world and his marriage from the monster that is the eternal beauty, Meilori Shinseen

      … The Empress of a race from beyond the stars

 … and his wife. 

DOC SAVAGE had no wilder crew to back him up than does Samuel McCord – 

       Mark Twain … Oscar Wilde … 

       The genius Nikola Tesla … 

       The undead Ada Byron, creator of the first computer language in the 1840’s. 

And the incomparable She Who Devours, 
       the model for the Sphinx … 

Empress Meilori Shinseen … McCord’s beloved wife 

And the probable Destroyer of our world. 

(Pick up your copy today)

"Like" Meilori's Page
She's so sensitive!
Petronela Ungureanu:


The old year was dying, the tolling bells ringing out its dirge in the night.

Alice squeezed my hand tight,

her death-cold fingers reminding me that I had someone to be strong for.

Shadows were heavy in the LaPrete Mansion's upper dining room.

Of all the places I wanted to spend New Year's Eve with the ghoul of my dreams -- this was the very last.

Cezar Prodanescu, wheezing the prelude to his death rattle, spoke from the oak chair at the head of the dining table.

"Victor Standish, you and your ghoul cost me. That building was going to be my last project."

I shook my head. "The thousands of Katrina orphans needed that place."

"You made the buyers think it was haunted!"

"What can I tell you? My mother's good at making ghosts."

Cezar's son scowled at me. "Because of you we have been made to endure this tedious Romanian ritual."

His wife, sitting beside him, patted his hand. "Andrei, remember your blood pressure."

Cezar snorted, "All you care about, Andreea, is that bearer bond right beside that New Year's Eve Mask."

Her daughter whined, "Grandpapa, must I wear this mask, too?"

He flashed a dying wolf's smile at her.

"If you want your own bearer bond, Doina, yes. Besides, I made yours a faerie princess. And you only have to wear the mask until the bells stop."

Her brother glowered at the mask on the table before him. It bore an uncanny resemblance to Alfred E. Neuman.

"Look at what he wants me to wear!"

Cezar snorted, "Then, don't wear it, Gavril. But you will receive nothing!"

Reluctantly, Gavril put it on. Andreea looked with disgust at her own mask in the shape of a wrinkled old shrew. She fondled the bearer bond. She put on the mask.

Andrei flicked dead eyes to the pig mask and barked an insult of a laugh. "You have made me wear so many masks, Father. What is one more?"

He put it on. Cezar pointed to the braying donkey mask in front of me. "Wear it and I will call off my lawyers from delaying that orphanage."

I shook my head. "The deal was you would do it if I showed up."

His smile reminded me of a snake's - but without as much humanity. "The deal has changed."

I shook my head. "My word hasn't. I've showed up. No jumping through hoops."

Alice lightly touched her mask on the table top done up like a snake's face. "Victor, the orphans."

Cezar turned to her. "Don your mask, and I will still call off my lawyers."

She took her hand from mine. She picked up the mask, slowly bringing it to her face.

I went cold.

Something was brewing, but I knew Alice. If I told her not to, she would do it out of spite.

Cezar looked nothing so much as a vulture as he watched her, then turned to me. "Tell her not to, boy. You want to."

"I - I love Alice too much to take away her right to choose."

Alice's eyes rimmed in black tears. "So I choose ... you."

She placed the mask down.

Cezar scowled and put his skull mask on.

He slid Alice's mask to Doina. "Wear it, and you will receive ten bearer bonds."

"T-Ten?" She tore off the faerie mask, putting on the snake one.

The tolling bells were reaching the end of their countdown. The Prodanescu clan glared at their patriarch. Alice smiled softly and took up my hand again.

The tolling died away.

Andreea wrenched her mask off. Doina screamed wetly. I felt like screaming myself. The mother's face was an exact copy of her mask. Andrei ripped his mask off.

A wet pig's snout quivered at me.

Doina sprang from her chair, sending it to the carpet. She raced to the ornate mirror. A snake's face stared slit-eyed back at her.

She started screaming in peals I knew would never stop until her last breath.

Gavril just sat shivering in his chair. Alice slowly, slowly reached out to Cezar's mask. As soon as her fingers touched the mask, the rubber band crumbled to ash.

Cezar's skull mask dropped.

Andreea began to titter in gibbering madness.

Though dead, Cezar looked merely asleep.

I turned to Alice. "Next New Year's Eve? No parties."


Saturday, December 28, 2013


But first:

#18 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Mythology & Folk Tales

Sometimes the hands

that hold

the fate of the world


Don't forget

Milo James Fowler is hosting a giant giveaway on this last Friday of December. Go to his blog for the list of the giveaway links.

And with the New Year coming, I will let Neil Gaiman give my benediction for it:

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness.

I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art --

write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can.

And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

Imagine a cross between Sam McCord and Han Solo and you get this Star Wars clip:

Friday, December 27, 2013


Thank you for all the kind words about Snowball yesterday.  It meant a lot to me.

I think his death re-opened the wound of Gypsy's death, since they were so much alike, though not in looks:


Just in temperament.


and she taught by example:

1.) How to take adversity - 


A.) She was three years old when abandoned by those she trusted,

mauled by feral cats,

and tricked into my apartment by the sound of crunchies in a cat food box.

B.) She could have chosen to be untrusting, afraid of every sound, wildly destructive --

acting out her anger at those who betrayed and hurt her.

C.) Instead she was kind, patient, loving,

and the most intelligent cat I have ever known.


Maybe it comes down to that, being intelligent enough to know not to drag the hurtful past with you

but to only bring the sweeter, purer parts of your nature into your future,

thus making it filled with love, understanding, and warmth.

D.) I shall try to learn from her quiet, loving example -- though I know I will not ever equal it.

2.) Love never demands ... 

Not once did she meow for food.

She merely sat by my side, looking up with open, imploring, expectant eyes.

And she was rewarded with the best food I could buy for her.

3.) Love still needs reassurance ... 

I had surgery some years back that necessitated me being gone for three days,

though Sandra came to feed Gypsy.

Since that time, Gypsy would leap into my bed at night,

snuggling under the crook of my left arm when I turned on my left side, facing the room.

It was as if she needed the reassurance that I was still there,

then she could relax and fall asleep.

I shall try always to reassure those I love that I am there so that they can relax in the darkness.

4.) Love is inventive, supportive of what the other likes ...


Gypsy invented the game of Ear Plug.

Finding one of my ear plugs dangling from my computer counter,

she commenced to bat it like a punching bag.

And thus was born our eternal game of Ear Plug.

Though she loved more the game of laser tag.

And she loved sitting on the puffy arm of my recliner,

watching the same DVD's over and over again.

Because it was the company that mattered not the movie.

I will remember that in the future, seeking to find enjoyment in those things my friends love because I love my friends.

5.) Love makes a hard day softer if ... 

No matter how harsh or hard my day had been, my steps became lighter the closer to the end of the work day (night) came.

I knew that when I entered my apartment ...

Gypsy would be seated on the end of my bed,

facing the front door (efficiencies are just big bedrooms).

{Although with all the bookcases, it could double as a library.

And with all the signed movie posters, it could be mistaken for a movie lobby}

No endless refrain of "You just don't know how lousy my day has been!"

Only a happy purring as she nuzzled the top of her head against my open right palm,

as I recited our mantra, "The force is with you, young Gypsy, but you are not a Jedi yet."

She would stoically endure my kiss on the top of her head to get to the good stuff:

Tuna! "Food Guy" was home!

So I learned from her why we are given one mouth but two ears.

To listen more than we talk. And listening always should come first.

6.) Love never hurts those it loves ... 

Gypsy never scratched me.

Not once. I can't say that of any other cats. Gypsy has spoiled me. I probably will never get another cat.  

(And after Snowball, I most likely never will.)

Gypsy was one of a kind. I would only be disappointed in any other cat.  Snowball was a close second.

Even that last day when I hurt her sensitive, enlarged right kidney, she never turned to scratch.

She yowled from the pain and hissed. But never scratched.

I do not think I can say I have never hurt those I loved.

But Gypsy has given me a loving, courageous example to copy. 

7.) Every HELLO holds a GOOD-BYE behind it. 

But the last GOOD-BYE promises an eternal HELLO.

That last day after Gypsy had been given Twilight Sleep as if to prep for surgery,

she gazed into my eyes with her amber ones

that seemed to know this was our last good-bye.

Gypsy steadily gazed lovingly into my eyes with a calmness that comes from being in the arms of one you love.

Gypsy seemed to silently say,

"Don't cry, Roland. There's a HELLO coming for the two of us that will never end."

And I choose to believe Gypsy's eyes.
I always end with music. But there is nothing worthy of Gypsy and all she taught me.

So I will end with the haunting poem Francine Howarth gave me in 2011 .

The one I will always think of as "Gypsy's Song."

"We have a secret, you and I that no one else shall know,
for who but I could see you lie each night in fire glow?

And who but I could reach my hand before we went to bed
and feel the living warmth of you and touch your silken head?

And only I walk woodland paths and see ahead of me,
your small form racing with the wind so young again, and free."

Thursday, December 26, 2013


May The Father Bless This New Year for each of us!

In a time when Man is but a myth ...

The Spirit of the World has no choice but to choose the oddest of champions to fight the Darkness ...



Sometimes the hands
that hold
the fate of the world

And this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday ...



I emptied my savings this morning and got Snowball the tests I was told Christmas Eve he needed.

He had, not one, but two fatal diseases: a feline form of AIDS and another disease which was just a string of letters to me when I heard it.

I was in South Cameron when the vet told me that thick yellow fluid was collecting around his lungs.  

With the two diseases hitting him at once, his body's systems were experiencing a major shutdown.

Poor Snowball would only have days no matter what treatment she gave him.

And those days would be filled with increasing agony,finally ending in him smothering to death.

I gave permission to end his misery.  

I cried on the way back to the blood center of course.  I am crying now in fact.

He purred the moment he spotted me and followed me around the apartment, rubbing my legs -- 

He loved laser-tag in the morning, and brushings in the evening.

and he was the only cat who would jump into my lap and lay there for hours, 

letting me pet him and scratch under his chin.

Another friend waiting for me beyond the Rainbow Bridge.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


One of the great things about love ...
is that it grows in ever larger ripples when shared.

One shares with another, then that heart touched by love shares, too.

One becomes two. Two becomes four. And four becomes eight.

Not every heart which receives, gives, of course.

Who of us has not received compassion and felt the better for it?

We are let into a busy traffic line, and we wave thanks.

But do we give it? Do we let another in somewhere else down the line?

Or do we just go on our way, too much in a hurry to return the favor to a stranger?

Have we received compassion, wisdom, kindness repeatedly from a friend, but then have been hurt by that same friend?

Can we find it in ourselves, that after taken so much, to give one thing ...

the benefit of the doubt,

to trust in the past acts of friendship to give ...


That is the secret of Boxing Day, celebrated in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Bermuda, and the United Kingdom ...

to give from the surplus that we have received on Christmas Day.

One of the clues to Boxing Day's origins can be found in the Christmas Carol, "Good King Wenceslas."

Wenceslas, who was Duke of Bohemia in the early 10th century, was surveying his land on St. Stephen's Day — Dec. 26 —

when he saw a poor man gathering wood in the middle of a snowstorm. Moved, the King gathered up surplus food and wine

and carried them through the blizzard to the peasant's door.

Christmas love and magic is better when shared. Just like laughter is somehow more than doubled when the joke or funny movie is shared with a friend.

What is more beautiful than a unicorn in the snow?

Two unicorns racing through the flurry of snowflakes together.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Merry Christmas to all my friends!

Christmas' present to all of us

is the subtle messages underneath the obvious ones:

1.) Love comes unexpectedly.

2.) You find love in surprising places.

3.) Love comes at its own season, in its own unique way, wearing a face you weren't looking for.

But then, we can be forgiven for not hearing those messages. After all, none of us is perfect. Well, there was that one.

But we killed Him.

Or did we? I choose to think not. I know His message and the messages of this day are not dead.

Love never quite dies. It stays in the sparkle in the eyes of each passing generation of children.

The best Christmas stories, in both movies and books, remind us that love always seems to find a way,

though it comes to us in unexpected ways, shining in the eyes of those we might have overlooked in the past.

The Jews were expecting a king. They never got one because they were looking in the wrong places for the wrong faces.

A manger contained the prince of peace in its straw. Few were even aware of His arrival.

Only those who were not too proud to stop and consider love might come unexpectedly and from a source we would never have suspected of containing it.

And only to those who had kept looking up.

Christmas teaches us to keep the child's sense of awe, of wonder, and of the willingness to believe ...

in the possibilities of miracles,

of the soft whisper of magic in the air if you but listen,

and in the healing power of love.

Like young Kevin in HOME ALONE, it is up to us alone to protect the home of our hearts from being robbed of their innocence and love.

Sometimes we do not see unicorns in the snow because we have stopped looking for them.

Continue to look. Continue to hold gently to the possibility of a miracle waiting for you just around the next corner or the one after that.

Excuse me. I think I hear a strange whinnying outside my door.

I'll open it to have a look. My unicorn may be out there below my terrace right now waiting for me to go for a ride in the moonlight.

You never know.

Keep looking and believing, Roland


{A Spectral Victor Standish
Christmas tale encore}

So many different kinds of death hunted us this Christmas Eve all through the French Quarter,

I would’ve gotten a headache trying to count them all –

If I already hadn’t had one – to go along with the broken ribs, fingers, and nose.

I looked over at Alice, my ghoul friend,

whose ability to turn to mist had been ripped from her by DayStar.

She sobbed softly, “Victor, our first Christmas together is our last.”

I had taken as many blows for her as I could.

Wasn’t that what Love did? Sacrifice themselves for the one they loved?

Alice had buried the statue of the Madonna and taken its shawl. As I had done with the statue of Joseph, taking its robe and hood.

We knealt beside the wooden manger in the St. Louis Cathedral’s courtyard Nativity Scene.

Right in plain sight of the slowly sniffing and scouting horrors prowling for us.

I didn’t even know some of the monsters hunting us. I knew enough to know Alice and I were goners.

Winged Gahe. Starved Amal. Scaled Soyoko.

And the ghosts, given flesh, fangs, and claws by DayStar, of all the people Alice had eaten over the decades.

Who would have guessed a wisp of a girl like Alice had such an appetite?

I stiffened at the tolling in the distance. I heard the bells, ringing their familiar, mocking refrain:


Peace. Good Will.

In despair, I bowed my head.

‘There is no peace on earth!,' I thought bitterly.

'God seems as real as a ghost tonight. Hate is god now and the strong worship at its feet. The innocent die. The helpless cry out. Does anybody hear them?’

The night winds became soft words: ‘You kneel on holy ground and dare to ask that? And you, of all living, should know the reality of ghosts.’

I felt my hair ruffled by chill fingers.  'Besides, you heard the cries.  You helped.  Have you ever considered what Power brought you where Need existed?'

I looked up. I recognized the stern ghost of a priest, a book of prayers or some such in his hands. Alice went as pale as I had ever seen her.

“Pere Antoine!” She mouthed.

He spoke in razored whispers. “For my sins in the Inquisition I am bound to this plane. So Friar Antonio de Sedella is now who I am.”

I saw the self-hate in his eyes. I saw the same look in Alice's.

I looked to the drooling horrors so near. To speak would be to bring them to us.

But I was going to die anyway. Why not die, letting Pere Antoine hear that I believed in him even when he no longer could?

I shook my head and whispered back. “No, before Katrina, you helped me. You’ve helped others before and since.”

The winged Gahe spun at my words, and I blurted out, “With my last words, I say you don’t deserve to be bound here. You are Pere Antoine! You are a ghost of God!”

So many horrors rushed us that I got sick to my stomach. This was going to hurt so bad. Pere Antoine’s head cocked as if he were hearing words spoken into his very mind, and his ghost eyes grew wet.

He gestured, speaking in words of thunder:

“Dark Spawns, this is Holy Ground!”

The Shadowlanders must’ve forgotten that in their lust for our deaths. It bought them their own.

Pere Antoine, the prayer book tumbling to the grass, slapped both hands on the shoulders of Alice and me.

A warm tingle cascaded through me. Reality smeared in spirals of fiery, golden stardust as if God were wiping clean a chalkboard.

Sand, not grass, was suddenly beneath our knees. Cutting through me was a cold wind that can only be birthed in the desert.

My mouth got drier than the winds. The manger scene was now real. 

A young man and a younger woman were looking sheer love at the cooing baby. Outside the stable, high in the night sky, rippled haunting sounds that only angels could sing.

Pere Antoine knealt beside me.

“God is not dead, nor does He sleep. No matter how dark, He always sees you. You are a special part of His heart, thus you are never alone. Due to their very natures, the wrong shall fail. And those who trust prevail.”

The baby locked eyes with mine, His eyes clear and echoing strange wisdom and delight, murmuring that while most of my life I had felt loved by no one, there had been One who always had.

Pere Antoine whispered,

“He wanted you and Alice to have a 'down home' Christmas.”

The baby bubbled in laughter, a hazy glow surrounding Him.

Alice reached over and squeezed my hand. “I was wrong, Victor. Our first Christmas together is THE first Christmas.”

And impossible though it was, the French Quarter bells rang all around us:


 May the Miracle of Christmas touch each of you with magic where and when you need it most.


This is a version I think of as Victor Standish's version:
not the tempo, tune, or words you expect.
Give it a listen for Victor.

My current project occurs in 1895 Egypt
Here is a look at Cairo in that year:


And in despair I bowed my head:

"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), 1867)

that magic blanket that wraps itself around us,

that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance.

It may weave a spell of nostalgia.

Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer,

but always it will be a day of remembrance--

a day in which we think of everything

and everyone

we have ever loved.

Yet, to perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every passing year.

Its song of Peace and Good Will to Man becomes more off-key with every wintry passing. Still we need that song to hold to when the darkness seems so alive.

I hear that in many places something has happened to Christmas;

that it is changing from a time of merry hearts and carefree joy to a holiday which is filled with drudgery;

that many people dread the day,

and the obligation to give Christmas presents is a nightmare to weary souls;

that the children of enlightened parents no longer believe in Santa Claus;

that all in all, the effort to be happy and have pleasure makes many honest hearts grow dark with despair

instead of glowing with good will and cheer.

And the true tragedy to that is that it is a self-inflicted poison to the soul.

But I, myself, have always thought of Christmas time

as a good time; a kind, forgiving, loving time;

the only time I know of, in the year's long journey of months,

when men and women seem by silent agreement to open their shut-up hearts freely,

and to think of people around them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave,

and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day.

We try to crowd into it the long debts of kindness and compassion of the whole year.

As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time,

all through the year.

And thus I drift along into the holidays--let them overtake me unexpectedly--

waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself:

'Why this is Christmas Day!' And feel re-born as a child again.

Because there's nothing sadder in this world than to awaken Christmas morning and not be a child.

But that's the magic of Christmas ...

for one short season, we can all become children again

in our hearts ... and in our dreams.

Each year, the world and our souls seem to grow older and darker,

but at Christmas time, our souls seem to see the world as cleaner

and we feel younger, closer to that magic which lived within us as children.

It is the magic that casts its wintry spell so that there are no strangers on Christmas Eve.

It is the magic that murmurs that if there is no Christmas in your heart,
there will be none under your tree.

And it is that magic which brings us the real truth of Christmas:

We are never alone.

Monday, December 23, 2013


And for Zachary Levi (CHUCK) fans and those longing for warm beach walks:

And Clare Grant provides back up for Wonder Woman in this Rainfall presentation:


{A spectral Christmas tale}


The tolling of a lonely church bell echoed distant in the too quiet night.

The first Christmas after Katrina found New Orleans nearly deserted. The children's ward at Memorial Hospital was filled. Hollow-eyed kids my age and younger were sleeping fitfully in their hospital beds.

Thanks to Captain Sam, each child had a doll, teddy bear, or an actual New Orleans Saints football. They were all sleeping with them tucked secure in their arms.

And an apple was on each of their nightstands. I didn't know how he was doing it, but no matter how many apples the kids ate, another one took its place.

"So they'll know they will always have something to eat," he had told me as he left me on guard here.

Yeah, on guard.

Santa Claus was coming to town tonight for all the good little boys and girls.

Santa the revenant (think Vlad the Impaler ... but without as many morals.)

The Bourbon Street Irregulars were stretched thin tonight. I was all by myself.

So many children to protect from the ancient bloodbroker. Yeah, he stole the blood of every good little girl and boy to sell to other revenants on the black market all through the year.

The blood of innocence was a delicacy to bloodsuckers the world over.

I stood with my back to the far wall, looking warily into the shadows. The fat revenant appeared right next to me, his red hat set at a impish angle.

"Ho! Ho! Ho!," he rasped, his fangs going for my throat.

Right into his gaping mouth I thumbed two ball bearings washed in the melted snows of Eden.

"Suck on these, Santa!"

He grabbed his throat, the smoke of his burning flesh coming out of his open mouth in billowing, foul-smelling clouds. Hitting the floor with a heavy thud, he croaked into the night.

"To me, my elves!"

By this time all the children were awake, their eyes round with horror. I figured my own eyes were a little wide themselves.

Twelve slender elves in Christmas velvet and short, short skirts padded out of the darkness towards me, their steel fingernails long and sharp.

I ground my teeth. "You have got to be kidding me."

Santa might have been hurting, but he looked up and flashed me a death-head's smile. "My Slay Belles in the night."

The really pretty elves in really short skirts and long fangs started to flank me. There were too many. I didn't have enough ball bearings. Hell, I didn't have enough me. I couldn't handle them all.

I was so dead.

Then, the children started to pelt the elves with the apples. For every apple they threw, another took its place. Now, a dozen apples are a pain. Dozens of dozens of apples thrown by scared spitless kids are something else again.

The elves went down. Hissing like snakes, they rose and started for the kids. I did some pelting of my own ... with my deadly ball bearings washed in the snows of Eden.

I took out three. The other nine wheeled about and charged me, only to be pelted again by the apples. Some broke upon impact, disintegrating the elves one by one.

I realized how Captain Sam had gotten those apples to magically appear. He must have watered them with the melted snows of Eden. No wonder those revenant elves went up in smelly smoke at the touch of their juices.

I turned to see Santa right at my throat. "You've been a very naughty boy, Victor. Time to die."

I saw Alice, in her short-skirted Christmas Gothic Lolita outfit, form out of mist behind him. "But he hasn't been naughty with me, yet, Santa."

She winked at me. "Leave you alone for a minute and there you go, throwing yourself at pretty elves."

"Close your eyes, kids!," I yelled, seeing the smile die in her neon eyes.

There must have something to the tone of my voice because all the kids covered their eyes. And Alice ... well, Alice, my ghoul friend, had a midnight snack.

A few Santa screams later, Alice flowed to me, licking her bloody fingers. "My first Christmas butterball turkey. Yum!"
A Christmas Haiku in a similar vein as my above post :

Christmas Moon looks down,
Alice's hand squeezes mine,
Stolen kiss is best.


Sunday, December 22, 2013


God (or the Great Mystery as the Lakota call Him) is wise.

Have you ever had a bruising day?

An event or events so traumatic that they drew blood both emotional or physical or both?

Of course you have. Me, too. Just today in fact (but that is besides the point).

But I was talking about terrible days. You have them. I have them.

God is wise. He gives us sleep. A terrible day has a night's sleep on either side like prarentheses.

Upon awakening, we feel a bit removed from the sharp sting of the trauma of the day before. And every passing night of sleep buffers the sting a bit more. Sleep is God's gauze for the bleeding heart.

Sundays are like that too. God gave us a day of rest because he knew the human heart and human greed. He knew we would work ourselves and others to death if He didn't put the brakes on us in some way.

No farmer plants the same lot of ground over and over. It would leach all the nutrients out of it, leaving it lifeless. The farmer lets the lot lie fallow for a season.

And if dirt needs a rest, how much more does the human heart and mind.

Which brings us to God's gift of Christmas:

We all know of the straightforward gift of Christmas: 

Jesus coming here to save us from ourselves.

But I believe there was also the reason of the parentheses:

Christmas brackets one year from the next in a month of remembering the message of "Peace On Earth. Good Will To Man."

It brings to remembrance the innocence and dreams of childhood that the other eleven months have hammered out of us. We become childlike, in the best sense of the term, again.

We hold back bitter words a bit more. We help up a fellow man fallen by the wayside when we might not have another month. 

We remember those around us who hurt and think of ways to ease the pain.

New Year celebrations blow out the year. The month of Christmas heals a bit the wounds of the past year.

I don't know about you, but I would rather heal than blow out.

The Great Mystery is wise and loving to give us the circle of seasons to be healed by Christmas, Sunday, and sleep.

May the healing of this Christmas week extend all month and into the New Year for you, Roland


{Actual letter Samuel Clemens wrote his tiny daughter, Susie}

Palace of St. Nicholas
In the Moon
Christmas Morning


I have received and read all the letters which you and your little sister have written me by the hand of your mother and your nurses; 

I have also read those which you little people have written me with your own hands—for although you did not use any characters that are in grown people’s alphabet, 

you used the characters that all children in all lands on earth and in the twinkling stars use; 

and as all my subjects in the moon are children and use no characters but that, you will easily understand that I can read your and your baby sister’s jagged and fantastic marks without trouble at all. 

But I had trouble with those letters which you dictated through your mother and the nurses, for I am a foreigner and cannot read English writing well. 

You will find that I made no mistakes about the things which you and the baby ordered in your own letters—I went down your chimney at midnight when you were asleep and delivered them all myself—and kissed both of you, too,

 because you are good children, well-trained, nice-mannered, and about the most obedient little people I ever saw. 

But in the letter which you dictated there are some words that I could not make out for certain, and one or two small orders which I could not fill because we ran out of stock.

 Our last lot of Kitchen-furniture for dolls has just gone to a poor little child in the North Star away up in the cold country about the Big Dipper. 

Your mama can show you that star and you will say: “Little Snow Flake” (for that is the child’s name) “I’m glad you got that furniture, for you need it more than I.” 

That is, you must write that, with your own hand, and Snow Flake will write you an answer. 

If you only spoke it she wouldn’t hear you. Make your letter light and thin, for the distance is great and the postage heavy.

There was a word or two in your mama’s letter which I couldn’t be certain of. I took it to be “a trunk full of doll’s clothes.”

Is that it? I will call at your kitchen door just about nine o’clock this morning to inquire. But I must not see anybody and I must not speak to anybody but you. 

When the kitchen doorbell rings George must be blindfolded and sent to open the door. Then he must go back to the dining-room or the china closet and take the cook with him. 

You must tell George that he must walk on tiptoe and not speak—otherwise he will die someday.

 Then you must go up to the nursery and stand on a chair or the nurse’s bed and put your ear to the speaking tube that leads down to the kitchen 

and when I whistle through it you must speak in the tube and say, “Welcome, Santa Claus!” Then I will ask whether it was a trunk you ordered or not. 

If you say it was, I shall ask you what color you want the trunk to be. 

Your mama will help you to name a nice color and then you must tell me every single thing in detail which you may want the trunk to contain. 

Then when I say “Good-bye and a Merry Christmas to my little Susie Clemens,” 

you must say “Good-bye, good old Santa Claus, I thank you very much 

and please tell Snow Flake I will look at her star tonight and she must look down here—I will be right in the West bay-window; 

and every fine night I will look at her star and say, ‘I know somebody up there and like her, too.’” 

Then you must go down into the library and make George close all the doors that open into the main hall, and everybody must keep still for a little while. 

I will go to the moon and get those things and in a few minutes I will come down the chimney that belongs to the fireplace that is in the hall—if it is a trunk you want—because I couldn’t get such a thing as a trunk down the nursery chimney, you know.

People may talk if they want, until they hear my footsteps in the hall. Then you tell them to keep quiet a little while till I go back up the chimney. 

Maybe you will not hear my footsteps at all—so you may go now and then and peep through the dining-room doors, 

and by and by you will see that thing which you want, right under the piano in the drawing room—for I shall put it there. 

If I should leave any snow in the hall, you must tell George to sweep it into the fireplace, for I haven’t time to do such things.

 George must not use a broom, but a rag—else he will die someday. You must watch George and not let him run into danger. 

If my boot should leave a stain on the marble, George must not holystone it away. 

Leave it there always in memory of my visit; and whenever you look at it or show it to anybody you must let it remind you to be a good little girl. 

Whenever you are naughty and somebody points to that mark which your good old Santa Claus’s boot made on the marble, what will you say, little Sweetheart?

Good-bye for a few minutes, till I come down to the world and ring the kitchen door-bell.

Your loving

Whom people sometimes call the Man in the Moon