So you can read my books

Sunday, September 4, 2011

WHY FRIENDSHIP? {a return visit}


My most popular post, visited many times each day is this one.

So I thought I would bring it to the attention of my new friends, adding some new items to make it interesting to those who read my earlier post :

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."


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. Yet the friendship of the two undead men is a kind of love in itself like David's and Jonathan's :

{At this point in the novel, Renfield, the vampire priest, and his best friend, Sam McCord, are stepping out from behind MEILORI'S, looking at the flooded street before them.} :

Renfield bent down and picked up a floating child’s doll, its false hair soaked and hanging. Its glassy eyes eerily reminded me of too many human corpses I had seen floating down this same street.

Renfield stroked the plastic cheek softly as if it had been the flesh of the girl who had lost her doll. Closing his eyes, he dropped the doll with a splash that sounded much too loud.

That splash said it all. Renfield looked my way with eyes that clawed at me.

“I could take the Blitz. It came from Man. This .... This is from God.”

I just looked at him. From God? I bit back the words that first came to my lips.

It was plain he was hurting inside. And I put up with such talk from Renfield. He was my friend. And he was a priest.

Priests were supposed to see life through the filter of faith. Still, I had lost faith in the unseen long ago. It had slowly faded like mist on a summer sea.

But there is a toll to such a thing. I looked around about us, trying to see it through my friend’s eyes of faith. I failed. Not a first for me.

Renfield’s head was down, though his eyes followed the floating body of the plastic doll as the currents pulled it under the black waters.

“Do you think He finally has had enough of us, Sam? Enough of our cruelty, our madness?”

I rubbed gloved fingers across my face. Like I said, I was at a loss at whether the Great Mystery even existed or not, much less be able to give a true answer to that question.

But Renfield had his own doubts about God. He was my friend, and I wouldn't push him over that dark edge.

“Hell, Padre, I don’t know. Could be.”

I smiled bitter. “You know the Lakota Sioux call God The Great Mystery.”

“You call Him that, too, as I recall.”

“Yeah, ‘cause what He’s up to most of the times is surely a great mystery to me.”

He studied me. “You’re not ---”

He waved a hand around us. “ --- mad at Him for all of this?”

Mad at someone who might only exist in empty prayers to equally empty darkness? I saw the anguish in my friend’s eyes. I chose my words carefully.

“Hell, Padre, we all chose to live in a city seven feet below sea level right by the coast, protected by levees built and maintained by a corrupt government. What did we think would happen?”

Renfield shook his head. “We all denied. It’s what humans do.”

His lips twisted. “Even those of us whose humanity is only a memory.”

I clamped a hand on his left shoulder. “You’re human where it counts.”

His face twitched as if his tongue tasted bad. “And where’s that?”

“Your soul, Renfield, your soul.”

“I lost that a long time ago, Sam.”

I might be at a loss about God, mind you. But I was sure about the soul, for I had seen its lack often enough in too many eyes. Just like I saw its solid presence within Renfield's.

“No, you didn’t. Like mine, your soul is a cocklebur. You can’t shake it no matter what you do.”

He smiled wearily. “I must have missed that verse in the Bible.”

“Gotta read the small print, Padre.”
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."


  1. Hello Friend! Nice post, I missed this one before glad you posted it again. There is an award on my blog for you, hope you stop by and pick it up :) Have a nice week-end Roland.

  2. Friends are important to me, in the workplace, as well as on-line. But I have to say I'm married to my best friend (;

    And this was an excellent post, Roland. I'm glad you re-posted it.

    I actually have no time for twitter (even though I have an account), I've joined other things and simply have no time for them--it's almost as though people friend you in order to get their number of "friends" up so as to boast about it. I barely have time to keep up with my own writing and my blogs as well as life in general.

    Anyway, I value your friendship. Wanted to thank you for your expression of friendship. I've been trying to "register" my Kindle, and just can't seem to do it. I get frustrated by technology--and my slow modem. Just know that I am your friend, and I try to stop by when I can.

    Oh. And I gave you a challenge. You might want to check it out at Lorelei's Muse at some point. It's up to you if you feel up to the challenge, but I had to pass it along to someone. [:,

  3. ...there's a reason behind this post being your best thus far, Roland. For nothing in the world can top an honest friendship.

    Loved that clip! Butch Cassidy was one of my favorites while growing up. Can still remember lounging on the couch, watching that movie with my long ago ;)


  4. I loved this post, too. Articulated some things that have been in my heart without words.

    And I married my best friend more than 30 years ago.

  5. Lovely post. Friendship is a wonderful theme to run through your work. Saying a late hello from a fellow campaigner!

  6. I've been to the French Quarter many times before and after Katrina and I have to say that the good times rolled away with some of the artists that had to leave. I pray that they return to see their friends. Enjoyed your poem about friendship too!

  7. Siv Maria :
    I've missed you. Being exiled from my apartment with its internet access due to its oven-like temperatures has been a pain!

    The increased workload due to decreased co-workers and tropical storms hasn't helped me have any more time to visit my friends either!

    I am on my way to your blog now, Roland

    Lorelei :
    As I wrote Siv, my free time, like yours, is so short that, like you, I have scant time for Twitter or Facebook or blog visitation. Sigh. Life is a harsh mistress. I am on my way to your blog now, too, Roland

    Elliot :
    Yes, I've always loved this movie, too! Funny dialogue, adventure, love, friendship, and a tragic ending. How could you not love it?

    I wish you high sales on your novel! Roland

    Ami :
    I am so happy you've had 30 years with your best friend. Really happy that you enjoyed this post, Roland

    Jessica :
    Thanks for visiting my blog, fellow campaigner. I'm visiting your blog now, R.

    The Desert Rocks :
    You are sadly right. Some of the magic did die in New Orleans along with so many terrified people. Maybe a bit of my prose magic will draw the wayward magic back, Roland

  8. Hi Roland. Lovely thoughtful post on friendship. Be safe my friend. D

  9. Thanks, Denise. I'll try to stay safe. But tomorrow brings me once more on rainy roads with those who have been drinking more than is wise! Roland

  10. I enjoyed your post.

    Does not having a best friend mean you're half a person?

  11. Hi Roland, Good to be here, i am here via Alex's latest post at A to Z challenge. I am glad that I for this post. Indeed its about one of the topmost subject of the present time. A wonderful subject to discuss with and friend with LOL.
    Yes, real friendships speaks volume. Keep inform.
    Sorry to say that the white letter in the black background gives little strain to the eyes. Pl. check it out.
    Keep inform

  12. P V:
    Sorry that my format hurts your eyes. I have grown quite attached to it. As so often is the case, I am my own worst enemy. Thanks for following. :-)