Do You Ever Just Have Fun With Your Blog?
Have You Ever Been Sparked Into
Writing by Something on the 'Net?
Take This Music Video:
Do You Ever Just Have Fun With Your Blog?
Have You Ever Been Sparked Into
Writing by Something on the 'Net?
Take This Music Video:
A Halloween treat for my friend, Misky, -- a chapter of SAME AS IT NEVER WAS that will not appear in my book soon to be published.
It is self-contained, but occurs directly after THE END IS THE BEGINNING:
SING YOUR DEATH SONG LIKE AN ORPHAN COMNG HOME
I opened my eyes, ignoring the bruises all along my body grumbling their wake-up call.
What else did I expect when I went to bed, my body tensed hard as a fist by barely surviving Mr. Morton, whatever It was?
Sleep when you thought about it was bizarre.
When the sun sank, so did you … into a bed. You walked a scary world that couldn’t hurt you, helpless against a truly scary world that could … and would.
I got out of the comfy bed of Headmaster Stearns. He had slept comfortable, while the rest of us orphans squirmed on rock-hard cots.
I hoped his corpse shifted painfully in the dirt of his unmarked grave.
I whispered my usual mantra upon leaving the bed, “Redeem the times, for the days are evil.”
“No, young sir,” rasped the harsh voice of Sister Ameal. “Rather the feckless sinners wasting those days make them evil.”
Forcing the words out of a suddenly dry mouth, I said, “You need the permission of the current resident of these quarters to enter … Mr. Morton.”
“Since when?” It rasped, dropping its disguise.
“Since now. My dreams, my rules.”
“How did you know?” It growled, fading away.
I had awakened feeling refreshed. That never happens in my waking world.
I felt tears burn at the edges of my eyes.
Why does a man cry?
Not like a woman; not for that. Not for sentiment.
St. Marok's had burned sentiment out of me.
I know, stupid, right?
(But I was eighteen and thought I knew it all.)
A man cries over the loss of something, something alive.
A man can cry over a sick animal that he knows won't make it … which was why I never tried to keep pets here.
The death of a child: a man could cry for that, or for the death of his childhood. Mine had arrived still-born here.
Not because things are sad. A man cries not for the future nor for the past but for the present.
I was getting sappy. Sappy got you dead at St. Marok’s.
Here, the enemy was not merely another group of human beings with a differing political persuasion.
The enemy here was death.
whispered a female voice, sounding like a lost wind blowing across sandpaper.
Another unwanted visitor. Had Charles Dickens taken over my Halloween nightmare?
I noticed the locale had changed. I was standing amidst a field of lonely tombstones.
Not in New Orleans then. We were below sea-level where buried coffins rose with the next hard rains.
In that way, you couldn’t keep a good man down … or a bad one for that matter.
“There are far worse places than this orphanage, mortal.”
“You going to show me slides?”
“There is Auschwitz.”
“You say that name as if it should mean something.”
“It will in the future when you stumble across it and its few pitiable survivors.”
A flash of horrifying images slid across my mind’s eye.
“Merde! Why did you show me that?”
“You asked for a slideshow. I gave you one. My Samhain trick for you. Something to look forward to.”
Death reached out as if to ruffle my hair. “I forgot. You find this gesture demeaning for some odd reason.”
Death laughed, and it was the sound of an ice floe breaking apart.
“Oh, no, little alley puppy. I am no product of your bruised psyche. Death is one Entity that cannot be ordered away … ever … especially on Samhain’s Eve.”
“You have no idea. But in the months to come, you will, my child.”
“You mean I’m ….”
“I will tell you nothing about yourself. But I will tell you about me.”
Death sighed, and it sounded like the soft breeze from an open tomb. “Do you know what scares me?”
She shivered, and that scared me more than even her appearing in my nightmare.
Her shivers grew worse. “It cannot stop looking. My taking them is redundant. But take them I do.”
A coldness emanated from her in numbing waves. “Sometimes, then, they thank me. Thank me!”
Death faded slowly away. I felt my hair ruffled.
“There. I did it anyway. Happy Halloween … my son.”
“Death is the mother of beauty. Only the perishable can be beautiful, which is why we are unmoved by artificial flowers.”
– Wallace Stephens
We all have lost
Whether our hearts, our homes, our friends, or something we took for granted and has become ashes in our hands.
The pursuit of replacements for those irreplaceable things can lead to dark places.
Everything in life is just for a while.
The story of life: what you fear never happens, but what you most yearn for never happens either.
Is it a good trade-off? You tell me.
Hemingway wrote that the secret is writing poetry into prose.
Words that touch the heart live.
Those that do not are empty sounds in the mind which do not even leave echoes behind.
... you get tbe sort of backwards world we have today where we ask humans to ignore their souls ... and wonder why we have hearts full of ashes.
If we could go back in time, could we set right what went wrong? Would we even recognize the moment when it all began to unravel?
That question gave birth to SAME AS IT NEVER WAS
THE PAST IS NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE
Robert Frost called the past a “Disused Graveyard”
The living come with grassy tread
To read the gravestones on the hill;
The graveyard draws the living still,
But never any more the dead.
What did he know? He was only a poet. They live in verse while most of us live in reverse … only realizing the import of life as we look at it in the rearview mirror.
In the mirrors of many judgments, my hands are the color of blood.
Often in mine as well
I sometimes fancy myself an evil which exists to oppose other evils.
On that great Day of which the prophets speak but in which they do not truly believe,
On that Day when the world is utterly cleansed of evil, then I, too, will go down into darkness, swallowing curses for things I’ve done too often … or not enough.
Some think I was a madman. Others just a man with special powers. Both groups are wrong.
Sentient, through me, changed the world. Who is Sentient? Come with me to New Orleans of 1942 and find out.
The moment she arrives in California, Deirdre falls in love with the untamed land that will become the Widows’ Winery.
Despite the local cattle baron having convinced everyone in Sonoma county not to sell them building materials,
she is determined to find a way to build their homes and the winery before their time is up and the county can reclaim it.
Love triangles, Greed, Dirty Dealings, and Magic!
How can you go wrong?
Especially when the tale is spun by a master storyteller
like Heather McCorkle.
Richard Blaine discovers that sometimes dying with love is far better than living without it.
UNDER A VIOLENT MOON
“Finding your way through the darkness is how you discover the light.”
– Richard Blaine
“Kindly death,” once wrote Emily Dickinson, “is lurking everywhere.”
Wasn’t it just.
Helen Mayfair snapped beside me. “That is not what she wrote.”
“You can hear my thoughts?”
“Thankfully, no. Your years of living sequestered from the others has you speaking low to yourself.”
“Well, it was close to what she wrote.”
“No,” she sighed like a disappointed Miss Myers.
“Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me— bears no resemblance whatsoever to what you said.”
Sister Ameal beside Helen curtly said, “Your inane sniping has had at least one benefit – it has temporarily stalled the advancing Amal.
”They’re real?!” I yelped.
You heard of Indigenous Tribes? Well, the Amal are what you might call America’s Indigenous Monsters.
When the first Chitimacha, with the Atakapa, Caddo, Choctaw, Houma, Natchez, and Tunica came to what became New Orleans,
The Amal were already here waiting for them.
Happy predators they.
Being soul-eating creatures of black mist, the Amal were not exactly chatter-boxes. So, their human victims never learned from whence they came.
Perhaps, oozed out from some nether region under the primordial ancient sod of what became Louisiana.
All their victims knew was that the Amal were drawn to despair.
Before the Indian tribes arrived, those misty creatures must have had to subsist on depressed alligators I guess.
But despair has been chief resident in these parts with the arrival of humans.
Slavery, corruption, voodoo only added spice to the mix.
Sister Ameal whispered, “I must leave you. My despair will only lend them speed.”
I frowned, “You despair, sister?”
“Greatly before your birth. Now, not so much. But merely the echoes of that darkness are too much for the Amal to resist.”
And with that, she was suddenly gone.
I shook my head. I didn’t know what shocked me more: her disappearing act or the fact that my birth had meant something to her.
The shadows kept oozing along the wet stone of the alleyway. Right towards us.
I frowned, “Why are they still coming? I haven’t a smudge of despair.
I’ve long since learned tomorrow is promised to no one. If I die today, I’ll die laughing that I made it this long.”
Helen knocked on top of my head as if it were a door. “Imbecile! I despair.”
“You? Why? You’re beautiful, intelligent … a force of Nature.”
“I love … “ The next word came out hushed, “… you.”
My chest emptying, I cocked my head. “I know I’m not the greatest catch in the ….”
“Oh, Richard! Our love is forbidden.”
“Y-You’re going to be a nun?”
She reared her head to the dark sky as if to bay at the moon.
The Amal froze, quivering as if in ecstasy. This was going to be so bad.
“No! You and I are … I am even forbidden to tell you clearly. We are … of two different species!”
“Y-You look human to me.”
“Appearing and Being are two different things.”
Exasperated at how things were going, I snapped, “What were you and Sister Ameal doing out here anyway?”
“We were both worried. You have been gone hours!”
“What? It hasn’t even been an hour since I left.”
“For you perhaps. But out here in reality, it has been hours.”
Helen drew her dainty revolver from the small of her back. I didn’t know what good bullets would do against shadows.
I was going to show them the Hand Mirror of Enigmas myself, so I should talk.
She moved to my left, and I frowned.
Helen smiled sadly. “This is the side your heart is on. It is the side where I choose to die.”
I started to speak, but she put her fingertips on my lips. “To die with you will not be so bad a thing as living without you.”
At those words, a tremendous golden light blazed all around us as the Amal screamed in agony.
Helen rasped, “The Shekinah Glory!”
Having read every book in the orphanage’s library and most of the ones in Stearns’, I knew the term.
The Jewish rabbis coined this extra-biblical expression, a form of a Hebrew word that literally means
“He caused to dwell.”
It signified that it was a divine visitation of the presence or dwelling of the Lord God on this earth.
The Shekinah was first evident when the Israelites set out from Succoth in their escape from Egypt. There the Lord appeared in a cloudy pillar in the day and a fiery pillar by night.
I blinked my eyes.
The Amal were nowhere to be seen. The alleyway floor was turned to gold. Real gold, burnished as if polished for years … or eternity.
It didn’t stay, of course.
The alleyway soon became as pitted as the surface of the moon … and about as far away from God as the moon, too.
Helen whispered, “I guess when … one of my species feels love, He appears.”
We never spoke of her admission after that.
I had many more chess games with Mr. Morton, each one nastier and trickier than the last.
Helen was distant for a time. But little by little, she began to laugh again.
We grew closer and closer, never speaking of how each of us knew how the other felt.
Then, the morning came when Helen came to me with what I knew was my draft notice in her trembling, too long to be human fingers.
She leaned up, her lips becoming ready for the kiss about which I had long dreamed.
I arched as if tiny daggers of ice pierced me.
Copper snowflakes swirled about me in a storm of fury and sound.
If Helen Mayfair had a theme, this would be it:
THE GAME OF LIFE … AND DEATH
“Man loves recalling life, but he does not enjoy living.”
- Lamashtu Morton
“I think I’ll stand,” I said.
“Because you want me to sit.”
Morton shook that withered, emancipated head.
“You see yourself as a hero in one of those historical melodramas in your library. You are deluded.”
Its face was living contempt.
Not mercy, not compassion, nor anything remotely human glimmered in its wet stone eyes.
But then, considering who I thought it might be, what else did I expect?
“Real life is filled with invisible razors under your bare feet. It is cruel. It doesn't care about heroes and happy endings and the way things should be.
In real life, bad things happen. People die. Fights are lost. Evil wins every day.”
It flashed a smile of smug assurance. “Like with this game of life … and death.”
“You’ll have to play to find out, sir.”
I shook my head. “Acknowledgement of more years than mine.”
“I was sung into being before the very concept of time, you talking chimpanzee!”
“Figured as much … sir.”
Its face was a living sneer.
“What dreary painting do you suppose one of your sentimental, literal-minded simpletons would craft of this moment?”
“Don’t know. Don’t care. What others think of me matters nothing to me.”
Its caricature of an eyebrow lifted. “Really?”
I smiled darkly, knowing of whom he spoke. “Helen Mayfair is not a simpleton nor an Other. She is one of a kind, unique.”
“More true than you know … simpleton.”
“Not so simple that I don’t realize that the spread of evil is merely the result of a vacuum.
Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles.”
It snorted. “And tsunamis of genocide have washed away millions fighting over which culture’s basic principles were correct.”
I shrugged. “I never stated that mankind wasn’t flawed. Sometimes the darkness lives inside you, and sometimes it wins.”
“Then, not a complete simpleton, merely a backwater hayseed.”
“Coming into Jerusalem, riding a donkey.”
Its eyes narrowed, and I continued, “All that we have, all that we are is on loan. Our lives are not about us.”
Its eyes were mere slits, and I was tempted to ask how it could see that way, but I shelved that idiot question and instead asked,
“I do not know who my father was, do you?”
A coldness emanated from it that I could feel deep in my bones.
“I’ll take that silence as a no. Here’s a thought: what if in our chess game, every time we make a move, reality is changed.”
“We have not made any ….”
It stared at the shimmering board whose pieces were scattered all over it. Many of his black pieces were completely off to the side.
As we watched, one of my pawns blurred, becoming a second Queen.
“You are cheating!” it hissed.
“It is a perfectly legitimate move. You are allowed to promote one of your pawns to a second Queen. It happens all the time in chess games.”
All the time, yes. But not in the way it had just happened. Besides, we both knew neither of us had moved any pieces.
Someone else was responsible.
Perhaps Someone who frowned on Mr. Morton going back on its word not to harm me in this game? Who knew?
But judging from the furious, scared look on Morton’s face, it suspected the same Someone I did.
My second Queen blurred, becoming a second King – something that absolutely never happens in chess.
It’s face became livid, and I lamely smiled, “I guess you prefer to be your own choreographer.”
It sprang up from its golden throne, (modest it was not) and charged around the table, sharp, black claws outstretched.
“Check out time,” I muttered and pulled the only weapon I brought with me: one of the two artifacts which kept Morton from Stearns’ quarters –
The handheld Mirror of Enigmas, which showed the viewer who and what he was.
Apparently, Mr. Morton, unlike Socrates, was not into self-examination.
It wailed, throwing up its claws in front of its wizened face.
I stumbled in my haste to make haste, and another set of claws latched onto the back of my neck.
I was wrenched off my feet backwards into a secret passageway that I had not known existed in Morton’s mansion.
Guttural words hissed into my left ear as we scurried down wet, slippery cobblestones, “Could you not have let That One win in his own lair?”
“It was taken out of my hands actually.”
“Well, this has certainly severed The Dark One’s bond with my People. For saving you like this, I and my People will be hounded by Morton!”
A maddeningly familiar voice said,
“This has been ordained where such things must be. I will take you and your People to a place even the Dark One may not go so as to await the time of Armageddon where you and the librarian may be reunited.”
Harsh, but strangely soft, lips brushed my cheek.
“So be it. Richard Blaine, we make promise. So long as The Blood endures, I shall know that your good is mine: ye shall feel that my strength is yours:
In that day of Armageddon, at the last great fight of all, Our Houses will stand together, and the pillars will not fall.”
“But I have no House,” I protested.
‘Yet,’ a small stillness murmured within my mind.
The almost-familiar voice chuckled,
“Now, that is a sentiment I can get behind. In fact, I will be there myself to do so. Now, Librarian, off with you to fight a doomed battle with the fledgling.”
As Deborah and I both yelped at that statement,
I was pushed out of the passageway to stumble beside a stunned Helen Mayfair into the sort of alleyway a wino would hole up in to die.