So you can read my books

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


My arms were filled with packages for my friends.

On top of them was a small gold box for Alice,

 containing a silver garter with one word stitched in scarlet thread, "Rubicon."

The little joke would make Alice groan and Victor snicker.

But underneath it was a finely crafted broach of one single black rose,

reminding them both of the time they were reunited by an enemy ...

that something good can come from a hurtful act ...

as Easter taught us so long ago.

Each package contained both a gag gift and a meaningful one.

It was tradition with me. Samuel, Renfield, Magda, Ada, Margaret, Hicock, and Toya were all taken care of.

I stood on the corner of Royal and St. Peter, waiting for the sun to set on Christmas Eve ...

and for Cafe Royal to be transformed into the CrossRoads of Worlds,


There was a hollow moaning of ethereal music soft and eerie all about me. Ghost demons swirled from the billowing mists layering the street.

Black wings rustled angrily as a tall being with three slowly revolving faces suddenly stood by my side. The eagle face cawed at the spirits.

"Not tonight. Begone!"

They went. Very, very fast.

"T-Thanks," I managed.

The lion's face wrinkled with an emotion I couldn't read. "We did not do it for you. Enter. You are expected."

I shivered, promising myself I would add a lump of coal to Samuel's package next year.

I entered as the lamb's face winked at me. My shivers picked up goosebumps for company.

I walked through the saloon doors that once belonged to the bar owned by Hicock in Deadwood. I set my face to be prepared for anything. Like always when I did that, I got the one thing I didn't expect.

The place was empty.

Its shimmering, slowly spinning chandeliers illuminated gothic furnishings straight out of a Victorian Gentleman's club.

Scarlet wall hangings fluttered from a breeze I could not feel. Portraits of lovely ladies turned their heads in the paintings to wink at me.

"Come. Sit. Drink some of this horrid stuff."

I turned to the bar and to the sound of the deep voice. I frowned.

A short, muscular man in a plaid shirt, faded jeans, and hiking boots. His hawk nose said he was Jewish. His sparkling eyes hinted that he was friendly.

He patted the stool next to him. "Put those packages on the table next to you and sit yourself down before you fall down."

I sat down on the stool. Man, I towered over him. He had to be five foot six inches at the most.

"Five, eight," he smiled. "Jewish males when I was born were usually five, five."

His smile gleamed white in his bronzed face. "I was a giant among men then ... in some circles."

He touched the scars on the back of his hands softly. "Not so much in others."

"Joshua," I whispered.

"Right the first time," he laughed. "Only Greeks should call me that other name."

"But you don't have a beard."

His face sombered. "After the soldiers half-pulled it out, I shaved off the rest of it."

He sipped from his glass, filled with thick white liquid and grimaced, "Why do you people drink such a terrible tasting beverage in honor of my birthday?"

"White Russian?," I winked back at him, hoping to bring the light back to his eyes.

"Ha. Ha. Egg Nog. My last earthly beverage had more kick than this."

"You turned that down as I remember."

"Yes, I should have taken a sip to take the edge off this egg nog. Yuck!"

"You come here often?"

"Every Christmas Eve for one drink of egg nog with Samuel. Of course, I don't show up in this body. He must make up his own mind about me."

"Where is he?," I asked.

"Getting into fatal trouble with Victor and the others as we speak."

I started to get up when He waved me down. "Sit. I sent reinforcements."

His smile flashed like a long-awaited dawn through dense trees. "My present to you."


"Da nada," he chuckled as if at some private joke.

One eyebrow raised slowly. "No questions on your future? No requests to become the next J K Rowling?"

I shook my head. "I don't have the pretty legs for it."

He snorted, "Always a joke when you are scared, isn't it?"

"That or a White Russian."

"You dress better than the Dude, and you don't drink," he smiled softly.

"With the trouble I get into sober, can you imagine me drunk?"

He sipped his egg nog. "Yes, I can. And even being me that is scary."

I nodded to the empty tables. "Where are the other customers?"

"I made them uncomfortable. Can you imagine that?"

"Perhaps it was their pasts," I said.

His face grew sad. "Or their futures."

I had to remove that sadness somehow. "Joshua, what did the zero say to the eight?"

Joshua, being Joshua, spoke the answer with me. "What a lovely belt you have on."

He massaged his temples with his long, strong fingers, and I saw the small scars on his forehead from the last present humans had given him.

He shook his head. "That has got to be the worst joke told for the best reason I have ever heard."

He winked. "Catch you later."

And He was gone.

"Looking forward to it," I whispered.

I sipped my own egg nog and grimaced. Jeez, He was right. This stuff did taste terrible.


  1. You know I come here for the music, lol.

    A beautifully sentimental story Roland.

    I posted the review for Badlands. Hope you like it. Dang that's a long title to have to write out :)

    Happy Thanksgiving, Dude.


  2. I come here for the words, woven into a tale which may tell us of faith, darkness, hope, evil, and other tenuous states of being.

    Eggnog - not something I drink by choice. I prefer lighter concoctions.

  3. Donna:
    I was just re-reading an old post of mine where you had your son download Jesse Cook's Baghdad -- another delightful tune.

    Thanks for the review. Yes, it is indeed a long title. Sigh. So is my next one: DEATH IN THE HOUSE OF LIFE. Sam is starting to grumble. :-)

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

    That is such a nice comment. Thanks! For me Christmas is a time for tales that evoke yearning for sweeter times and the hope that we can be a light in the darkness for someone in need.

    Egg Nog used to taste better to me. I think everyone decided to use cheaper ingredients ... or my taste buds changed!

    May your holiday season be sweet and filled with light and happiness.

  4. A beautiful story, Roland. Thank you!

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friend. :-)

  5. Vesper:
    I am a sentimentalist at heart as you could tell from HER BONES ARE IN THE BADLANDS.

    Have a joyeous holiday season. I will be driving the roads for my friends who have family. :-)