So you can read my books

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.



  1. come get your strange award, bro :)

  2. I adore southern gothic, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Flannery O'Conner, James Lee Burke, John Kennedy Toole, etc - I love them all. BUT, and I'm ashamed to admit this, I really don't care for Faulkner. I find him moralistic and his prose far too purple for my taste. What's amazing is, I think you've captured his essence here. Fascinating to read.

  3. Laughing Wolf : I'm between late night blood runs now, but I'll be there tomorrow at your blog, polite and appreciative -- promise.

    VR : That's high praise coming from you. I really tried to capture his essence for his ghost. I do believe the ghost of Tennessee Williams may make an appearance here soon. Thanks.

  4. There is so much here, it would teach a class for months....I'm beginning to think you should write my MS because you're summing up everything that my MC strives for and realizes and keeps going anyway. There is such profound truth in these words and such a feeling of regret, but regret that wouldn't be taken back-I think. Yes, we must stand against the darkness and fight the battles that come. And you're right-we fight for reasons other than the ones we believe....

    This post is so meaty we could chew on it for a few days and you could take a rest. Be careful out there and find some time to sleep!

  5. On a lighter note (no pun intended) I feel in good company since Mr. F talked about music too!

  6. Hey Roland! I was going through the crime/mystery blog-hop and realized I hadn't commented on your blog in awhile. I wanted to let you know that I think this series you've been doing lately is really fun. It's been interesting to read and breaks up the monotony of my blogroll with something different. So, even though I'm not saying anything, I am reading.

    And I look forward to reading more. :)

    Scribbler to Scribe

  7. Came back to listen to the vid (no time this morning)...very soothing, loved it....mmmmmmmmm...

  8. Good music; nice and soothing. Especially since I haven't been feeling well.

    This is a re-post isn't it Roland? The beginning of your novel?

    Very deep thinking here - as with the last post. thanks for the writing tips.


  9. Donna : Actually it contains a re-working of the beginning to my historical fantasy, RITES OF PASSAGE -- but done so as to put a whole new spin to it.

    Words Crafter : Your words of encouragement are a balm after receiving 2 rejections in the span of eight hours. One was addressed to "Dear Ronald" ... the other to "Dear Lousy Writer" ... ouch. I had already sent her a query before, and I guess I really ticked her off.

    Everyone, thanks for commenting on my posts. I slept most of the day to prepare for heading straight back to work. Sigh. Lotto Win, where are you when I need you?

  10. "It took me dying to understand life."

    I like that- makes me wonder how many die before they really understand how wonderful every moment of life can be.

  11. This was beautiful--no surprise, but I can not help but feel so tired and worn in the heart when I read McCord. I think he is a good example of men who had too big a heart at one time and had to go through a lot of hell and dish out a lot of hell.