So you can read my books

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A FAREWELL TO LOVE_Friday's Romantic Challenge

It is July 3rd in the year of our Lord, 1826.

And I am dying.

The question is "Do I wish to be re-born?"

At my bedroom door, the young man, wide-brimmed hat in gloved hands, has the answer.

But I fear I already know it.

The young man is a conundrum.

He looks at me with the eyes of a sad poet. Yet, he is a walking arsenal : two shoulder-harnesses of pistols, another pistol on his hip, still another in a strange stomach rigging

"Come in, Sergeant McCord," I speak in a once strong voice now grown frail.

"An honor, President Adams."

"Former President, young man."

He flashes a smile much like a wolf's. "Like with Texas Rangers, sir, once a president, always a president."

He sits down in the plush leather chair close to my bedside, and I frown. "Odd. Your face is perhaps 25. Yet your hair is moon-white."

His lean face goes somber. "There was a time when my hair was darker, my heart lighter."

My voice thickens. "As with myself, McCord. As with myself."

I pat his arm and frown again at how my hand shakes. "I met your father at my Alma Mater. He was a great patriot."

McCord nods sadly. "Father said history bleeds on every page because of patriots. But he liked teaching at Harvard, and he liked you."

"And my wife?"

The light dies in his eyes. "He thought of her as a wise and good friend ... once."

"Before she became a ...."

I find it difficult to say the word, "... revenant."

"Yes, sir."

"I need to ask a favor of you, young man."

His lips shape an uneasy smile. "I'm not going to kill Mr. Jefferson for you, sir, if that's the question."

I slap his arm at his rough jest. "Time will soon have her way with us both I'm afraid."

I tap his buckskin-covered knee. "No. I need to ask you ... w-what do you think of revenants."

McCord sucks in his upper lip, then says low, "Mighty broad question, sir. Might as well ask me what I think of humanity."

"Then, you believe revenants are no longer human?"

He rubs his face with a hand strangely gloved in this heat. "With each passing year, they lose more and more of their humanity, sir, until they forget what it means to be human."

He leans forward. "Surely, sir, you have noticed that in your ... wife."

I clutch his arm feebly. "Yes. Yes, I have."

I close my eyes. "And now, she demands I allow her to ... to ...."

I find I cannot put it into words, and McCord just pats my hand. "You would gain immortal youth at the cost of your humanity, sir."

I look at this strange man with the saddest eyes I have ever seen in a youth. "I know you are aware she rules a confederacy of shadow states all across this country."

I manage to make my lips speak the words. "Abigail says that together, we could do much good for this country."

His face twitches, then he speaks softly. "On a cattle ranch, the ranchers live mighty fine. The same cannot be said for the cattle."

I nod gravely and sigh, "I had come to a similar thought, McCord."

The decision I always knew I would make settles firm within my heart. "I -- I will refuse. Abigail will take this badly."

McCord smiles as if it were a wound. "Even so, sir, you have made a hard but wise decision."

"And in doing so, I have doomed you."

"How so?"

My mind fills with mocking echoes of shared laughter with Abigail, and I sigh, "She knows of this meeting. Once there was a wellspring of forgiveness in Abigail's heart ...."

I could not meet McCord's eyes. "Now, she will believe, despite my protests, that it was you that has robbed her of my being at her side. She will not rest until her revenge is complete against you, sir."

McCord smiles sadly. "That's all right, Mr. President. It'll mean one less monster in this sorry old world."

My blood chills, for I see he wants to die. No. I will not be the cause of the death of my friend's son. But how can I save him from the grave, from himself?

I look up at the portrait of my wife when she was still my Abigail. A plan comes to me. I whisper to McCord.

"When you think 'beautiful but diseased,' what city comes to mind, McCord? Quick. No moment for reflection. What city?"

He laughs like a wolf. "Don't need any time to reflect, sir. New Orleans is the prettiest city with the blackest heart I've ever seen."

"Then, New Orleans is the city I, as former President, charge you to save from the revenants."


"I cannot ask you the impossible task of saving my nation from the evil that has consumed my wife. But one city, McCord, one city. Pledge to save it from the curse of the revenants, and I will die at peace."

"But, sir, I took an oath to Texas."

"Do not speak to me of oaths, young man. I, Jefferson, Washington, even your father bled for this nation. If not for me, save New Orleans for them ... for your father."

I was fighting unfairly I knew. But my friend, his father, would have me do no less to save his son from self-destruction.

McCord runs gloved fingers through his silver hair and sighs, "All right, Mr. President. You have my word."

His poet eyes flick to the portrait of my wife, and he murmurs, "Beautiful but diseased is it?"

He turns to me. "Another pledge, sir. Strange as it sounds, sometimes enemies become as close as lovers. If I can, I will save your Abigail, too."

"You are a romantic, McCord. It will be the death of you."

"Something will. Might as well be that."

When he leaves, and the shadows of the night and death grow closer and closer, it is his second pledge that comforts me.


  1. Dear Roland,
    Maybe someone has already mentioned that you have linked with the wrong address; your link links back to RomanticFridayWriters.

    I found you by clicking on your icon in the members' list on RFW's sidebar.

    Lovely post, Roland. Great mix of historical facts and fictional speculation. (Love the video clip too.) I have read some American history, but I have never come across the word 'revenant'. Makes me want to start reading my father's history books to see if I can find it there.

    You always put us there, Roland!

    Hope you are well and happy!
    All the best from
    Anna's RFW challenge No 28 Ties That Bind - The House Call

  2. Wonderful post. Heart rending. I love the line about the cattle ranch.

  3. Anna :
    Revanant is a form of vampire. I use them instead of vampires in my books. You made my afternoon with your kind words. Thanks for letting me know about my link mess-up. Have the happiest of New Years! Roland

    Erin :
    Your own words made my afternoon even brighter. I'm glad I was able to touch your heart. In UNDER A VOODOO MOON, Victor and Alice meet John Adams ghost where the gypsy tries to re-unite him with his Abigail. And in Saturday's post you will see Abigail's reaction to Sam's advice. Have a great New Year!! Roland

  4. Happy new year. Thank you for your kind words at my posts. Hope you'll visit again.

  5. Ah, the bonds of loyalty. And love may not work out as expected, but it lingers with the memory of a promise.

    Well done Roland.


  6. "You are a romantic, Roland. It will be the death of you."

    Loved this Roland. It rang with sincerity. Quite an education in alternate history.

    Thank you dear friend for being such a generous contributor to RomanticFridayWriters. Your posts bring delight to so many.

    I hope your Christmas was studded with joy and that your New Year will see you reaching for the stars.


  7. Oceangirl :
    I mean to visit as much as my hectic schedule as a rare blood courier allows. Thanks for visiting me. Happiest of New Years, Roland

    Thanks, Donna :
    I've found relationships most often do not turn out as expected, but something of beauty can always be salvaged. Happy Holidays!

    Denise :
    My Christmas was healing. New Years will find me working. And we writers always reach for the stars. Sometimes we even touch the stardust of success! Hope the two of us reach that stardust, Roland

  8. I think I just fell a little bit in love with McCord! Great read, thanks Roland! I'm looking forward to reading more of your work - I have finally got me a kindle for Christmas and have downloaded A Bear With Two Shadows.

    Happy new year!
    Laura x

  9. Laura :
    Return here tomorrow to see Abigail's response to McCord's advise to her husband!

    He tips his Stetson to you, by the way. Thanks for buying THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS. I hope you enjoy it. McCord is even mentioned halfway through it, and his Apache blood brother, Elu, is a major character, too. Have a lovely New Year! Roland

  10. I love the world captured in this short piece of writing! Excellent work Roland!

  11. Hello Roland. Happy New Year!
    You always manage to surprise me every time I visit here. Really enjoyed reading this.
    Thanks for sharing.

    A Flower And A Tear

  12. Thank you, Trisha!
    I live in that fictional world so much it seems real to me. I'm glad you enjoyed your visit here.

    Andy :
    I'm very happy I both surprised and pleased you. This 3 day work weekend has pretty much drained me. Have a great New Year! Roland