So you can read my books

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


“I have heard it said that truth is mighty and will prevail.

There is nothing wrong with this … except that it ain’t so.”

- Mark Twain.

Samuel Clemens here. His ghost really. I can’t rightly call myself the ghost of Mark Twain.

Mark Twain was my pen-name. And isn’t a pen-name a ghost of sorts?

Whoever heard of a ghost of a ghost?

When a ghost gets to the ripe old age of 176, he gets to thinking back on some firsts --

and human nature being contrary ... to thinking back on some lasts!

Some of you out there have emailed Roland, asking how he first met me.  I bet you think I first met him after I died.

You are wrong.

The boy is fast asleep, exhausted from working 7 days straight after only a few days off to recover from cancer surgery, so I thought I would tell all of you about the first time I met Roland.

Memory is never cold.  No, most times it is as hot as the tears of remembered first love.

First love ...

   I cannot find my Livy no matter how hard I look, and Roland and I have searched far and wide through the Shadowlands for her ...

   but that is a tale for another time.

The heat of memory ...


that illusive patchwork of little threads which hold life's meaning together. 

In the terrible heat of memory, I look at these teeny tiny keys of Roland's laptop (the names you modern folks give things!)

then, like some misty rose, I see the face of my brother, Henry,

whose seared hand I held for the last time as he died from those terrible burns from that steamboat explosion.

The damnable explosion that I had dreamt in detail a whole month earlier.

It was then I realized that life was more than I supposed.

No, I realized that the night when I first met Roland in my nightmare at the age of twelve … in the Shadowlands.

For you see, time is fluid and strange in that dark place.

Shadowlands you ask?

You’ve seen them, too. Yes, you have.

That flicker of movement out of the corner of your eye. You turn cat-quick to catch it clear, saying it couldn’t possibly be what you thought.

And it wasn’t. It was worse. Worse than you could possibly imagine.

The Shadowlands are not Dreamtime, though they are connected, usually by the bridge of nightmare.

Roland’s mother could walk them, as could her Lakota grandmother. But only Roland is called a Name in them:


He who sings to life dreams … and nightmares.

It was in a nightmare that I first met Roland.

I was alive then, for the dead do not dream.

I was twelve years old and caught up in the hunt. I was not hunting. I was being hunted … by the spirits of my vengeful and dead sister and brother.

What to write of those times?

They burn in me, and they keep me up at night. But now they can never be said. Besides, they would require a library and a pen warmed up in Hell.

As with most dreams, I will start this one in the middle:

It was night. It was Missouri. But not Hannibal.

It was the almost invisible village of Florida.

It was a scrawny pup of a place.

Only two streets, each but a hundred yards long. The rest of the pathways would be paved with tough black mud in winter, rain or thick dust in summer. I had been born there.

The skies were blood. The clouds rolling billows of fire.

Those sermons my mother had dragged me to were surely making an impression on my nightmare. I almost expected the chariot with the struggling figure of Elijah to come streaking across such a night’s sky.

The rumble of summer thunder echoed overhead. A wolf’s howl pierced the shadows with its mournful wail.

I tried to bolster my wavering courage.
“N-Now, Sammy, that there’s just an hungry old wolf. That ain’t no omen of death. No, it surely --”

An unseen owl hooted, and I cried out,
 “Oh, Lord! I didn’t mean no harm to Bennie. I surely didn’t.”

And then behind me, I heard a deep voice like a happy stream.
“These woods sure are a little scary, huh?”

I whipped about. And that was the first time I saw Roland. Lord, his eyes. The memory of them haunts me still.

They seemed to have seen all the pain in the world and felt most of it personal and close-up.

Dressed in a strange black shirt I later learned was called “T,” jeans, and boots, he winked at me.

I winked back. “Little? Why these woods are humongous scary.”

And I relaxed just like that. He was a friend. I could just tell.

And with the foolish trust of a twelve year old, I stuck out my hand. “Name’s Sammy. What’s yours?”

“Why, it's Roland. Good to meet you, Sammy. Are those spooks over there friends of yours?”


I whipped around so fast I left my smile in the air behind my head. And there they were:
my dead sister and brother.

Their wispy figures of black mist flowed to my right. I felt my face go tight. They were apparitions from the spirit world.

No, not the spirit world you might be thinking of, but the spirit world each of us carries deep within the dark of our souls, the prison for our mistakes and those regrets they give birth to.

They were giggling, a hungry, soulless sound, and I made my throat work,

“Benjamin. Margaret. You leave me be!”

“What he said,” laughed Roland.

I turned to him. Why in tarnation was he laughing? Couldn’t he see they was about to make a meal of me?

He pulled out a battered pad of paper from his jeans pocket and looked over to me.

“There is power in words, Sammy.”

(And that sentence of his changed my whole life. Although at the time, I did not realize their impact.)

Margaret and Benjamin both bent in unnatural ways as they turned and glided towards Roland, but only my sister spoke, revealing tiny, needled teeth.
“Lakota, you have no hold on us.”

Roland just chuckled, bending towards me so that I could see what he was writing:

“And Margaret and Benjamin were caught up in the winds of forgiveness never to bother Sammy ever again.”

A keening moan hollowed from my right. I looked to where my sister and brother had been. They were gone. I turned to Roland like I had been whalloped in the head by a mule’s hooves.

“H-How did you do that?”

“I think it has something to do with my Lakota blood.”

“What blood?”

“Lakota Sioux Indian.”

“You’re an Injun medicine man?”

“Sort of. What I write sometimes comes to pass in dreams.”

“Only sometimes? Then, why was you laughing just now?”

“I always laugh when I’m scared spitless.”

“Now, you tell me!”

I edged closer to him. “You mean you could write anything down there and it might happen right now?”

He nodded. “Oh, sure. I could write:
The most beautiful woman in the world flows out of the night mist and falls in love with Roland. But I won’t.”

“Why in tarnation not?”

“Being selfish with your gifts always turns out bad somehow.”

“Really?,” husked a woman from out of the fog that flowed in billows to our left.

We both jumped a foot up in the air, and the most beautiful apparition of beauty I had ever seen glided up to us.

A long gown of gleaming satin, as alabaster as the moon’s face, clung to her so that even the twelve year old boy I was started to come to attention in certain places.

“I – I didn’t write anything down,” stammered Roland.

“What a strange dream this is,” she smiled, sending tingles all through me.

She looked down at the shaking page in Roland’s hand and lightly tapped them.
“Does this mean you see me as the most beautiful woman in the world? I, who you have never before seen?”

And Roland said,
“All men have seen you in the lonely corner of their hearts. Only a very few are lucky enough to ever meet you – even in dreams.”

Years later, when we were both ghosts,

Marlene Dietrich confided in me that was the very moment she fell in love with Roland. But right then, her eyes just got deeper. Then, she faded away with the night mist.

I looked up at him. “Does this sort of stuff happen to you a lot?”

He smiled a sad, crooked grin. “All the time.”

And that is the face which comes to me whenever I think of Roland.

It was Roland who inspired me with the thought that words have power. So if any of you have found laughter in my works, you have Roland to thank.

And if you haven't found laughter in my works ...



  1. Dreamsinger? Singing into being those with something to tell us? Thanks Sammy, although I prefer to call you Samuel. Roland's big heart must have heard your fear.

    Words have much power. Look at the politics and words that encircle the trouble in the Ukraine right now. Words also heal, as Sammy told us in this excerpt.

    Happy Birthday, Samuel (and Mark)!
    PS - Although we can't see those sad eyes, Roland, we do know the power of inducing others to smile.

  2. D.G.:
    Being called away as always. But I wanted to say THANKS for being my friend.

    I try to make folks smile if I can because the frowns come certain enough in this life ... as the Ukraine and Russia's threats to destroy our economy show!

    Thanks again for visiting!! :-)

  3. Oh yes, I have found laughter. And tears, and fear, and grief and solutions and wisdom and fun. Life in fact. The whole confusing, comforting lot of it.
    Thank you. And happy birthday.

  4. Elephant's Child:
    The ghost of Mark Twain wags his eyebrows at you with a wink. The old scoundrel! Life is so much with us -- best to appreciate the blessings of it while we have them, right? :-)