So you can read my books

Sunday, September 14, 2014

For Melissa Bradley_Cancer Always Plays a Deadly Hand

Michael di Gesu asked us to write a cancer story to be included in an anthology.

 All sales will benefit our friend Melissa Bradley's fight,

as with losing her job and undergoing chemotherapy, the cost of staying alive is sky high.

She  needs our help.

There is also a medical fund to help raise money for the expensive treatment.

 Go here if you feel you could spare a few dollars for Melissa.

Michael and Melissa would prefer funny stories. 


Sometimes laughter is a scarse commodity when cancer is in the same room.

But bravery, grace under pressure, and a firm resolution to go out standing tall ...

those can be found in souls staring straight into cancer's eyes.

My own cancer is too close to write about. 

 My mother died of breast cancer.  My best friend is dying with it.

So what to write?

This is the fable I crafted.  I hope you enjoy it.


"All of us have a path to follow, and that path begins in the heart."
- Samuel McCord

The gas lights gleaming from his bald head, the young boy in the wheelchair looked up at me.

"Gosh, Captain McCord, I always wanted to see the insides of Meiloiri's."

He sipped his ice tea held with unsteady hands.  "To think a hero like you'd make time for just a kid with cancer like me."

The ghost of Mark Twain sat down beside the boy and winked.

"There ain't no just kids to Sam.  And you're the hero.  Me & Capt. Sam, why we get so jim-jammed with fright sometimes we get all turned around and actually RUN to danger instead of AWAY FROM it!"

A flurry of snowflakes slowly formed in the chair beside me into a tall, regal woman in white buckskins & lightning hair.


Eyes the color of her name pierced me.  "This poker game has the potential of a loaded gun."

Mark nudged the frightened boy with a wink.  "Mother Nature there sure sucks the joy clean outta the air, don't she?"

The boy clutched my arm as the 3 remaining players pulled up their chairs and sat down.

The bald man in grey Armani grinned like a skull.  "Am I late?"

I said, "You always come too soon, Cancer. I see you brought your usual companions, Despair and Hopelessness."

 Cancer smiled at the trembling boy.  "Ah, I see you recognize them as well.  They keep you company with me in the long, long watches of the night."

"I've heard that," I said.  "That's why I set up this game."

Cancer laughed like the breaking of brittle bones.  "You cannot win."

I patted the boy's shaking fingers.  "Watch us."

Cancer drew out a deck from his inside jacket pocket.  "I'll deal the cards."

His shark smile widened.  "I always do."

I patted the boy's tightening fingers.  "It's not the cards you're dealt, son, but how you play them that counts."

The heavy fog called Hopelessness murmured, "You have Zero Chance, boy." 

Mark refused to look at his dealt cards, winking at the boy.  "You know what the Zero said to the Eight?"

"N-No, sir."

"Why, ain't that a lovely belt you're wearing!"

The boy laughed, and the fog thinned though it growled.

Mark nodded to the threatening fog.  "What did the right eye say to the left one?"

The boy shook his head.  "What?"

"Between you and me something smells!"

The boy laughed so hard that ice tea came out of his nose, and Hopelessness faded away completely.

The man-shaped leech called Despair murmured, "Laughter won't stop the pain, boy!"

The boy cocked his head.  "I-I do hurt less now."

Despair whispered, "But the pain kept you up all last night."

Turquoise Woman sent a spiral of snowflakes shimmering to the boy.  

"And so you were awake to see my sunrise, were you not?  Was it not beautiful?"

"Oh, yes, ma'am!"

"All else in New Orleans slept thru it.  Only you saw it."

"Wow!  Really?"

"Really ... which is why I sent you the robins this morn to sit on your sil and serenade you."

"It was lovely, ma'am.  I heard them in my head all day."

Turquoise Woman smiled.  "See how much more you lived than everyone else in New Orleans?"

She stroked his cheek.  "The pain does not let you sleep thru life.  These past weeks you have lived on a level few ever achieve, appreciating what most take for granted."

I winked at the boy. "Know what you get when you quit?"

"N-No, sir."

"Neither do I.  I've won.  I've lost.  But I've never quitAll it takes is getting up one more time than they knock you down."

I patted his steady fingers.  "Each scar life gives us is a gift, son."

"It sure doesn't feel like a gift, sir."

"No, not at first.  But think on it, son.  Where we are unhurt is where we are unsure of who we really are.  Where we are wounded & healed is where we get to show what we're made of."

The boy's jaw firmed, and the leech called Despair disappeared.

 Cancer flipped over his cards.  They were a Royal Flush.  "I win!"

"No," calmly said Turquoise Woman.  "You lose."

She smiled like a new sunrise at the boy.  

"You may hold the boy for a season.  But only a season.  And even in that season, the boy decides if he chooses laughter and courage over despair and hopelessness."

Turquoise Woman gestured, and a robin fluttered on the boy's shoulder.  "If his treatment works, you will lose your hold on him."

Cancer sneered, "And if I kill him?"

 Turquoise Woman smiled wider.  

"Then, he goes to the Great Mystery where those like Mark Twain here will keep company with him for eternity.  And pain will not even be a memory."

I squeezed the boy's arm.  "Forever with laughter and love.  Not too bad, huh?"

Mark Twain nudged the now-smiling boy.  "You know what sound porcupines make when they kiss?"

"No, sir."


The boy covered his eyes and groaned, "That was terrible, sir!"

"Hey, whipper snapper, you got it for free!"

"I was over-charged," grinned the boy.

And Cancer got up and slowly walked away. 


  1. Well done, Roland! Hope Melissa's fundraising and the anthology are a success. She's a brave woman to face Cancer head-on. Sending healing wishes her way.

  2. Thanks, D.G.:
    I hope Melissa's fundraising and anthology is a great success, too!

    To face cancer AND unemployment at the same time must indeed be challenging. I pray strength and finances be hers when she needs them most.

  3. Love it. Thank you Roland.
    I have made a small donation, and my good wishes for Melissa are much bigger.
    Laughter never goes astray. Shortly before my father died (cancer) we had a working bee at his home. Five minutes after he got there, my youngest brother (who loathed gardening) put his pick through the gas main. The street had to be evacuated. No cars were allowed for fear of explosion. My father could barely walk anyway, but laughter made it even more difficult. So we lurched up the street going from tree to tree, with father laughing the whole while.
    And the news report later that night about a 'home gardener's mishap' made him laugh again. Loudly.

  4. Nicely done Roland!! What a great cause. Thank you for the Monday inspiration :-)

  5. Your cast of characters feeds very nicely into a story like this, Roland--I enjoyed it!

  6. Nothing like humor to change the situation! Good one, Roland.

  7. I got chills when I read who your characters were, but I enjoyed the humor. Humor really is like medicine. Well done, Roland!

  8. A clever and well-told tale. Cancer and his friends got put in their place!

  9. Great story, Roland! Love seeing how everyone has put their imaginations to use for a great cause. :)

  10. Fantastic! I enjoyed every single moment of this story and will hold it close when I most need.

  11. What a fantastic cause!

    And bravo to you, Roland!

  12. HI, Roland!

    LOVED THIS!!!!! As usual you weave a magical story. Even with Cancer, death, and despair, we are entertained and leave satisfied in the knowledge that this little boy will fight and live another day!

    I'm so glad you had the time to write something for us. I know of your own pain and of Sandra's. I've been praying for her at the shrine of Mother Cabrini and I hope it is helping in easing her pain...

    Please give her my best and tell her the shrine is a very special place.... People have healed from it...

  13. Applause! Terrific story for a wonderful cause. Thank you for the smile, Roland.

    Melissa is in my thoughts every day, and you can bet the anthology will find a place in my library.

    VR Barkowski

  14. You have such a special way with words, Roland.
    Every time I read your work, I'm transported to a new and magical landscape, and I leave your place feeling fulfilled.
    Thank you.

  15. Elephant's Child:
    I know Melissa will be deeply grateful for your donation! You are a gracious lady. I am glad your father loved to laugh despite his illness. :-)

    Sam tips his Stetson to you. :-)

    Sam and company are quite flexible in the kind of stories they fit into. May your week go well!

    Humor has kept my sanity through some dark times. I guess that's why I like to write of Victor Standish so. He currently is having a very trying time in a Carnival of the Damned and would like me to get him the heck of the fix I've put him into!

    Illness only has us for a season, and we can usually find some light even in that season's darkness. Usually. Thanks for visiting. :-)

    What better cause than to lighten the load on a fellow friend, right?

    Your words made my afternoon. This being my only day off, I have had to cram so many chores into it that I can only briefly look in on the Net and my friends. May you find only smiles in your future! :-)

    Sam always rallies to the cause of a hurting lady! Thanks for visiting and staying to chat!!

    The shrine of Mother Cabrini is a very special place, and Sandra deeply appreciates you praying for her there.

    May this anthology give needed funds to Melissa. I pray for her eventual recovery every day!

    I worked hard to make this story special for her and for you. :-)

    Thank you for the praise of my story. I strove to make it special and uplifting in a way that could speak to all.

    Yes, her anthology will find its spot on my bookshelf as well.

    That was very kind of you to say! I work hard to make my stories magical and evocative, yet "real" in the heart of those in the stories. Thank you for such nice words. :-)

  16. Chrys:
    Yes, those "players" all we cancer survivors have faced are certainly chill-producing!! I'm glad you liked my fable. :-)

  17. Huge hugs, Roland. Thank you so much for this wonderful tale, I absolutely love it. Keeping you and your friend in my prayers.

  18. Melissa:
    It is so gracious and kind of you to visit me when you have so many blogs to visit.

    I tried to make this fable tinged with humor, courage, and hope. Thanks for the prayers for Sandra and me.

    My prayers are with you daily! :-)

  19. Cool story, Roland. My mother died from lung cancer at a very young age. I'm glad we're raising awareness and funds for Melissa.

  20. Roland, this take on the blog hop has your style all over it! Glad cancer lost this one.

  21. Wonderful story, Roland. May Melissa's cancer get up and walk away.

    I'm so sorry about your mother and now your friend. You stay free of it, please, and leave it in the past.

  22. Carol:
    So sorry about your mother. It hurts to lose a parent at a young age. I hope the funds help Melissa pay those bills!

    Sandra tells me she could tell a story I wrote without even seeing my name on it! Here's to the day when cancer loses every one!

    Yes, I second that Melissa's cancer gets up and walks away!

    I keep forgeting to buy sunblock. I promise to do that this evening!

    Sam, Mark, and Victor are voting for me to leave cancer in the past! :-) Thanks for visiting and staying to chat!

  23. Hi Roland ... loved the story telling here .. filled in with jokes to make us all laugh .. the eight and the zero .. was fun to read ...

    Wonderful way of colouring up your post - brings the story to light in the darkness of the poker room .. and darkness of those hidden hours ...

    I hope Melissa's cancer turns its tail away ... as too yours and all who suffer .. with thoughts Hilary

  24. You are pure heart and brilliance, as is everything you write.

  25. Hilary:
    I pray Melissa's cancer turns and walks away too! I'm glad you liked my little fable.

    With my right eye killing me, your words made my evening! Thanks. :-)

  26. Oh, that was lovely! How sweet that he was the only one to see the sunrise.