So you can read my books

Sunday, April 30, 2023


 "Everyone owes nature a death, but in our unconscious, we are immortal." 

- Sigmund Freud

"Everything ends badly -- that is why they end." 
- Samuel McCord

"There is nothing fair or well in farewells."
 - Empress Meilori Shinseen

 "When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it's always twenty years behind the times." 
- Mark Twain

The ghost of Sigmund Freud looked oddly sad as he said to me, 

"We now reach the letter Z.  What occurs to you now?" 

"Never the End," I said.

Mark nodded, "From Tom Sawyer to Huck Finn, I always had trouble with endings, too."

Freud shook his head.  "Why am I not surprised that even here at the end, you make this all about yourself?"

Mark Twain sighed, 

"You, of all people, should know that death has always been a door only one person wide."

Freud twirled his still unlit cigar.  

"Yes, that is why I requested my doctor to end my life with morphine when the pain became too great to bear."  

He looked off into the darkness.  "It was my door to open when I wished.  My doctor agreed."

Freud gestured to our haunted surroundings.  "And after all my talk about Thanatos, I find myself here."

Mark smiled sadly, 

"Your life was never what you expected, brother, so why expect death to be any different?"

Freud raised an eyebrow. "Brother?"

"Of course brother.  

We're both ghosts so that makes us brothers, don't you know?

Why, if you t'weren't my brother, I'd have to kill you.  And since you can't kill ghosts, I decided to think of you as a brother."

Mark smiled crooked, "Of course, I think of you as the black sheep of the family."

Freud squeezed the bridge of his nose.  "You would."

Mark glanced over the doctor's shoulder.  "Why if it isn't Napoleon over there playing chess with Darwin."

Mark winked at Freud.  "Let's wander over there and pop some pompous ego's.  It'll be fun."

Freud shook his head.  "You will not drag me into another maddening exchange of nonsense."

Mark nodded off to our right.  "Why, lookee there.  Old Jung and Adler are heading our way."

Freud hastily got up without looking.  I did.  Neither were to be seen.  Mark winked at me.

Freud sighed, 

"I suppose I should accompany you to spare Napoleon and Darwin from your uncensored wit."

Mark tugged on the man's arm.  "This will be a hoot.  Just you watch."

I got up to join them when I noticed Napoleon had a pistol in his waist sash.  

I remembered how innocent by-standers fared at Meilori's.  

I sat back down.  

I smiled wide.  This had certainly been one A TO Z CHALLENGE I'd not forget.

How about you?

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Y is for WHY?


"The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a pretentious affair, and yet so 'slow,' so sleepy; such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print." 

- Mark Twain on The Interpretation of Dreams

 "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing you can do is keep your mind young."
 - Mark Twain

I blinked my eyes in confusion.

Freud's ghost dissolved into boyhood, and then slowly re-focused into young adulthood.

The ghost of Mark Twain looked as startled as I felt.  I sighed as I thought I understood.

Which of us has not longed to begin again, wiser for all the mistakes and foolish choices we have made over the years?

But would we live any wiser, any better?  Or would we only make new mistakes, take different roads best left untrod? 

Freud seemed to be unaware of his metamorphosis.  

His unconscious was flinching from the revelations of some of his bitter mistakes, dysfunctional life choices, 

and perhaps the regrets to which they had given birth.

Freud cleared his throat as if to likewise clear his mind from the mistakes Wyrd and Twain had exposed.

"We come now to the letter Y in our Free Association Exercise.  What occurs to you, Roland?"

"Why," I said to a suddenly scowling Freud, and I spelled it out, "W-H-Y."

Freud frowned, "Why?"

"Exactly," I said as Twain fought a smile.

"When as a boy, I saw the across the-street neighbor beating down his front door with a fence post, 

or when I watched the wife of a smart chemical engineer throw herself down on the floor, 

beating it with her fists and feet in a fit of temper, 

or gulped as a driver veered in front of my step-father's car to get ahead of him, 

risking so much to gain so little,

I asked WHY?  

It is what drove me to study psychology.  Isn't that what prompted you into it as well?"

Freud shook his head.  

"When I was 26, I fell madly in love with Martha Bernays.  My lab job did not pay well enough to marry, 

so I studied medicine for three years and was finally able to marry her."

I nodded my head.  

"I still ask WHY?  Why are we so cruel to those who cannot fight back?  Why is the world getting darker and darker?"

Mark smiled, "I am gratified to be able to answer those questions promptly, Roland: I don't know."

Freud snapped, "Twain, you support my feelings about the majority of people."

"Yeah?" snorted Mark.  "Well, I didn't spin a whole theory on just one child."

It was my turn to frown, and Mark said, 

"Despite old Saw-Brains' theories about how children are sexual beings who develop into adults with unconscious issues, 

Freud saw only a single patient during his lifetime who was actually a child."

I turned to Freud who only shrugged, "One was enough."

Mark sighed, 

"Keep asking WHY, Roland, and keep trying to answer that eternal question. 

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing you can do is keep your mind young."

"As if you knew anything about life, Twain."

Mark drawled, 

"I didn't charge folks a pretty penny just to tell my dog in front of them that you thought they was lying."

I frowned again, and he went on, "Old Coke-Head transferred his affection to his dog."

Mark put out his cigar. 

"He involved his Chow Chow, Jofi, in therapy sessions, saying things like: 

'Jofi doesn’t approve of what you’re saying.' 

Patients complained that he was more interested in the dog than in them, 

which on the basis of the evidence may very well have been true."

Freud sniffed, "The more I learned of people, the more I liked my dog."

Mark nodded agreement.  "Me, too.  But I didn't charge folks to listen to me talk to him!"

Thursday, April 27, 2023


 "I hate the sun because it gives light to see the world but not enough for the lost to see the way home." 

- Meilori Shinseen

Freud sneered at Mark with restored lips.  

"So, Twain, you, too, must be damned, for you are imprisoned within Meilori's walls as am I."

Mark snorted, 

"Not so you'd notice.  Why I visit the apartment of the boy here so often, I know exactly what he will say to X -- Xena."

Mark smiled wide.  

"Why I am rather partial to that filly's corset and long legs myself.  The boy has a virtual shrine to her on one of his bookcases: 

autographed photos, metal statues, porcelain statues and ... bust."

Mark waggled his eyebrows.  

"I imagine you have something suggestive to say of that last word."

Freud kept silent, turning to me with a raised eyebrow, and I shook my head.  

"To me, hers is a story of redemption, of striving to balance the sins of the past by helping the hurting of the present."

Stretching out the word into three syllables, Freud said, "Really?"

I shook my head again, saying, 

"But tonight I would not have said 'Xena.'  What I would have said is that X brings to mind: 

Crossing OutCrossing Lines, and Crossing the Rubicon."

Mark sighed, 

"I recall old Ovid saying to me: 

'We mortals always strive for the forbidden and wish for the impossible.'"

Freud nodded, "Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me."

He turned to me.  

"Unexpressed emotions do not die.  They are buried alive.  And like the undead of whom you write, they dig their way out later in uglier ways." 

Mark said, "Well some of those ways Wyrd just spoke of here were sure enough ugly."

Freud turned to me.  "You say nothing?"

I sighed, 

"I didn't live in your shoes, sir.  I am not God to judge -- and I don't have the job qualifications to step into His place."

Freud snapped, 

"Bah!  When a man is freed of religion, he has a better chance of living a normal and healthy life."

Mark Twain drawled, "Unless they are your wife and sisters."

Wednesday, April 26, 2023


At our table, the ghost of Mark Twain muttered, "Weird."

I spun around, for when the three Norns merged they became the Entity, Wyrd --- not Something you wanted to see in Meilori's.

But only the three Norns cackled beyond our table not Wyrd.

Then, slowly, like a waterfall of flowing icy mists, they did merge becoming the towering, eerie Wyrd. I swallowed hard, for she flowed right up to our table.

"Fairly, Freud, did thee earn the contempt of The Twain."

Freud started to sputter but suddenly his lips disappeared.

"Hush! Thou forced thy sister-in-law to sleep behind thee and thy wife's bed with but a thin cloth between she and thee."

Even without lips, Freud muffled, "She had no income of her own. Space was limited in Vienna!"

"Bah! In the summer of 1898, thou, then a robust 42, took a trip to Switzerland with thy sister-in-law, Minna Bernays, who was then 33. "

Her glacier blue eyes fixed on me, and I felt pinned to my seat like a butterfly upon a display. 

"The couple stayed at a popular hotel in the Swiss Alps -- the second most costly in all the land --

and, remarkably, the hotel log from that time is still there. Not only had they stayed in a double room, but Freud had registered them as "Dr. Freud and frau!"

"Not only is The Twain too Victorian in his nature to shame you in front of Roland, but so was Jung."

Wyrd trilled, "Freud disciple, Carl Jung, visited the Freud home and Minna confessed the affair to him in great detail and how it weighed heavily upon her conscience."

Freud groaned, and Mark shook his head sadly at the ghost. 

"Men's minds are too ready to excuse guilt in themselves."

"Then, there is the matter of Minna's abortion ...."

Freud sobbed without lips. and Mark softly said, "Please, Wyrd, no more."

She turned majestically to me. "Now, thou knowest why Freud is condemned never to leave Meilori's."

She became the 3 Norns again which was hardly an improvement. 

Mark forced a smile, "And here I thought it was my sparkling personality that kept him here."

Tuesday, April 25, 2023


"Humor is a means of obtaining pleasure in spite of the distressing events that interface with it."
 - Sigmund Freud

 "Vienna," I said to Freud's question of what occurred to me at the letter V.  

"Berggasse 19 to be exact."

Freud sucked in a breath and nodded, 

"Of course looking at me how could you not think of the address 

where I lived for 47 years, seeing patients every working day for eight or more hours?"

Mark Twain and I joined Freud in sucking in our breaths.  

As sometimes happened at the haunted jazz club, Meilori's, magic stirred echoes from the past atop our table.

In billowing mists, a scene from over 70 years ago in Vienna slowly took shape:

The sign on the building reading ''Prof. Dr. Freud/3-4'' had already been removed 

and a swastika flag had been draped over the doorway. 

Freud was one of many thousands of Jewish Viennese who were harassed 

in the weeks and months after Hitler's triumphant entry into the Austrian capital in March 1938.

 When the Nazi commandos barged into the apartment, Freud's wife, 

Martha, in her unflappable Hamburg way, asked them to leave their rifles in the hall. 

Mark Twain smiled at the courage shown by the unbowed woman.

The leader of the intruders stiffly addressed the master of the house as ''Herr Professor."

In a brisk, rough manner, the commander, with his men, proceeded to search the vast apartment. 

Finally the Nazis left.

Martha Freud, in quiet dignity, went from room to room, straightening up the shambles they left in their wake.

With only a slight tremor to her voice, Martha informed her husband they had seized an amount of money worth about $840. 

''Dear me,'' Freud remarked, ''I have never taken that much for a single visit.''

Mark Twain sputtered a laugh and studied the man as the billowing scene evaporated atop our table.  

"Doctor, I don't much care for you.  But damn, you and your Mrs. had sand."

He cocked his head at Freud.  "And who would have thought you had a sense of humor?"

Freud smiled sadly, 

"I have found humor to be a means of obtaining pleasure in spite of the distressing events that interface with it." 

Mark grimaced, "Leave it to a Saw-Brains to take all the joy out of a laugh by dissecting it!"

He looked at the table-top as if still seeing the Nazis invading the home of harmless citizens.

"What is it that strikes a spark of humor from a man? 

It is the effort to throw off, to fight back the burden of grief that is laid on each one of us. 

In youth we don't feel it, but as we grow to manhood we find the burden on our shoulders. 


It is nature's effort to harmonize conditions. 

The further the pendulum swings out over woe the further it is bound to swing back over mirth."  

Freud nodded.

"Humor must not professedly teach, and it must not professedly preach, but it must do both if it would live forever."

Mark Twain sat up straight.  "I wrote that!"

Freud smiled drily, 

"Yes, eventually even fools get some things correct.  The law of averages always has its revenge." 

I made a face.  "As apparently do professors."

Monday, April 24, 2023


 "When Freud fled Austria after the Nazi takeover,

 the Nazis would not let Freud board the train to Paris unless he provided a statement that absolved them of any blame.

 'I can heartily recommend the Gestapo to anyone,' Freud wrote. The Nazis did not see the irony." 
- Paul Boehm

Freud looked almost relieved as he said, "We are nearing the end of this Challenge of yours ... and mine."

He looked at Mark. "Soon I will be spared your wit, half share though you have."

Mark pretended to be stabbed by an invisible sword under his heart and said,

 "Wit ... the sudden marriage of ideas which, before their union, were not perceived to have any relation."

Mark shrugged. 

"Wit and Humor--if there is any difference it is in duration--lightning and electric light. 

Same material, apparently; 

but one is vivid, brief, and can do damage--the other fools along and enjoys the elaboration."

I was afraid things might get nasty again and said, 

"The Letter now is U.  And the concept of Understanding occurs to me."

Freud nodded, 

"Odd that you mention Understanding.  I believe, Twain, that I understand your prickling words to me."

He sighed, 

"Far from being able to identify with me, many people feel threatened.  

I am a quintessential father figure. 

Many people see themselves as rebels against authority and so feel compelled to throw barbs at me."

Mark winked at me and jabbed a thumb at Freud.  "And he's humble, too."

Mark smiled, 

 "I always try to acknowledge a fault frankly.  

This will throw those in authority off guard and give you time to commit more!"

 Freud said, "Do you believe half of what you say?"

"If I don't, I lie."

Sunday, April 23, 2023


 "From error to error, one discovers the entire truth."

  - Sigmund Freud

Fright usually gives grey hairs, but it had made the hair of the ghost of Sigmund Freud darker.

He cupped his bearded chin in one hand.  "So now we arrive at the Letter T.  What occurred to you when I spoke that letter?"

I said, "Truth."

Sigmund Freud mused, "From error to error, one discovers the entire truth."

Mark Twain snorted,

"We are always hearing of people who are around seeking after the Truth. 

I have never seen a permanent specimen. I think he has never lived. 

But I have seen several entirely sincere people who thought they were permanent 

Seekers after the Truth. 

They sought diligently, persistently, carefully, cautiously, profoundly, with perfect honesty and nicely adjusted judgment- 

until they believed that without doubt or question they had found the Truth. 

That was the end of the search. 

The man spent the rest of his life hunting up shingles wherewith to protect his Truth from the weather."

Freud said, "I continued all my life to expand my knowledge of the truth lurking in the psyches of the bruised."

 Twain smiled sourly, 

"I have not professionally dealt in truth. 

Many when they come to die have spent all the truth that was in them, and enter the next world as paupers. 

I have saved up enough to make an astonishment here."

Freud frowned,

"Do not misunderstand me, Twain.  

We often believe, not on the basis of argument, but upon the basis of desire.  I have striven mightily to avoid that snare."

Mark snorted as he tipped his head to the ghost of Emily Dickinson as she passed.  

"Careful there, Saw-Brains.  No real gentleman will tell the naked truth in the presence of a lady."

Freud gave Mark a look that suggested to me I should have said, "Temper."

Friday, April 21, 2023



“Even a soul submerged in sleep

is hard at work and helps
make something of the world.”

 - Heraclitus 

{Play the YouTube music below as you read}

The shadows filmed over with bronze gauze, 

teasing glimpses of hooded figures in burnished gowns floating dreamlike past us as strange music filled the darkness:

Mark shivered as one wraith stroked chill fingers along his throat.  Even Freud seemed shaken.

"W-We arrive at S, Roland.  What occurs to you at the sound of that letter?"
"Sleep and the dreams that dwell hidden in it." 

Freud tore his eyes from the departing wraiths with an effort and said, 

"The reason you struggle to remember your dreams, Roland, is because the superego is at work. 

It is doing its job by protecting the conscious mind from the disturbing images and desires conjured by the unconscious."

Mark nodded, "I often slept-walked as these figures seem to be doing."

He shook himself as if a dog fresh from a bath and assumed a jovial face though neither Freud nor I were fooled.

The wraiths swirled and parted around the tables they passed, their frozen footprints breathing icy vapors up into the shadows.

" Go to bed early, get up early--this is wise. 

Some authorities say get up with one thing, some with another."

Mark pulled his eyes from the spectral walkers with a visible effort.

 "But a lark is really the best thing to get up with. 

It gives you a splendid reputation with everybody to know that you get up with the lark; 

and if you get the right kind of a lark, and work at him right, 

you can easily train him to get up at half-past nine, every time--it is no trick at all."

The last walker in shadows bent slowly, gracefully and kissed a lone customer at a table.  The man gasped and faded bit by bit into nothing.

Mark shivered and  jabbed his glowing cigar end at me.  

"Now that boy there!  

He goes to sleep at once.  

There is a sort of indefinable something about it which is not exactly an insult, and yet is an insolence.

 I get to feeling very lonely, with no company but an undigested dinner."

I shook my head at him.  "Ghosts don't eat."

The lagging figure in black robes stopped, turned around, and laughed softly

the sound of it trailing off like icicles slowly bleeding. 

Mark husked, "In that you are wrong, son."

Now, it was my turn to shiver.

Today William Shakespeare was born.

Eerie fact:

Researchers using ground-penetrating radar were unable to find William Shakespeare’s skull in his tomb. They theorize that grave robbers stole it.

Thursday, April 20, 2023


 "I was impressed with how kindly Freud could be, though I knew he was also a great hater; they are not really incompatible traits." 

- Henry A. Murray about Freud

"Most of humanity is, according to my experiences, rabble." 
- Sigmund Freud

Freud, once more with white hair and beard, seemed at a loss at what to make of both Twain and myself.

I didn't blame him.  I lived each second with me, and I felt much the same.

"You don't have to finish this Free Association of the alphabet, sir."

"I finish what I begin, young man."

I sighed.  

I remembered reading that Freud's heroic effort at self-mastery in the service of concentrated work made him chain himself to a rigid timetable.

He sighed, "R is the letter now.  What occurs to you?"

I saw Freud's glare towards Mark and said, "Revenge."

Mark had seen the glare and snorted, 

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

Freud said, "So even you do not approve of revenge?"

"Approve?  Why, Saw-Brains, revenge is wicked, and unchristian and in every way unbecoming.   

 I am not the man to countenance it or show it any favor."

He laughed belly-deep.  "But it is powerful sweet, anyway."

Freud sneered, "Really?"

Mark nodded.

"There is more real pleasure to be gotten out of a malicious act, where your heart is in it, than out of thirty acts of a nobler sort."

Freud said thoughtfully, 

"You lost your father quite young, did you not?  The loss of a parental figure often sows the seeds for fear of abandonment 

with the cruel fear of becoming close to another -- ideal breeding grounds for all sorts of negative comments."

I saw Mark flinch, and I caught Freud's eye.  

"Yep, I can see you believe in revenge, too."

I turned to Mark, nodded to Freud, and said, 

"Clay feet will trip you up every time."

Mark smiled gently and turned to Freud.  

"You can quote the boy on that, too, Saw-Brains."