"Ordinary life does not interest me. I seek only the high moments. I am in accord with the surrealists, searching for the marvelous." ~Anais Nin

30 September 2015

Poetry Wednesday #9

Twa Corbies by Arthur Rackham

Twa Corbies

We all know the story,
Though maybe not this one exact:

A knight, a soldier,
Lost and gone.
His body rots
Under the sun.
His friends move on-
The living must-
While he, himself,
Becomes the dust
That stirs beneath 
Our feet.
The hunter doth
Become the meat.

It's an old tale,
One history often reenacts.

A quick note:  I'm in an odd mood tonight: dark and irreverent.  I suppose that's obvious.  "Twa Corbies" (or "Two Crows") is an old Scottish Ballad that is rather dark.  I'm including the text for the original ballad below the cut if you're interested, or you can visit this link and read the original version, a "translated" version, and an interesting analysis.  I encourage you to visit the link.

23 September 2015

Poetry Wednesday #8

A lune is basically an American haiku.  There are two forms of lunes: Kelly and Collom.  The Kelly form was created by Robert Kelly and has thirteen syllables split between three lines in a 5/3/5 format.  Jack Collom created the Collom lune, which is also a tercet (three self-contained lines), but is word-based rather than syllable-based.  It's structure has 3 words in the first line, 5 in the second, and 3 in the last.  I'm playing around with both. ~ AJ

Autumnal Lunes

Equinox morning,
Sun, chasing shadows.

     *     *     *

Leaves, changing, falling -
Autumn colors paint Northern states
Red and gold.

     *     *     *

Soon bare trees will dot
The landscape
Waiting for the snow.

     *     *     *

Arachne's children grow
Fat outside my window, weaving
Traps of gossamer.

     *     *     *

Night is more vivid
In the fall
Dreams come readily

     *     *     *

Anise, cloves, pumpkin,
Cinnamon, honey, nutmeg, apples, ginger . . .
Spice the season.

     *     *     *

16 September 2015

Poetry Wednesday #7

London Thoughts

I can feel the weight of you, the age of you, in your buildings and narrow
streets.  Yet, you are thoroughly modern in aptitude and character.  Your structures
scrape the sky and illuminate the night.  I wonder how long it's been
since you last saw the stars, and if you miss them.

Parks sprout among the streets and buildings like weeds through a crack in the
sidewalk.  Blossoming out of nowhere.  Every day I visit one to people watch
and get a brief respite from all the asphalt, concrete, and steel.  I whisper their
names to myself, invoking the spirits of nature and beauty: Kensington Gardens,
Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James' Park, Regent's Park.  On and on and on.  They
call to me.  I cannot resist.

You are not wild anymore, if ever you were.  The Romans tamed you,
and the Saxons, and the Normans, etc.  Then, you 
travelled outwards, building empires and bringing back bits of cultures
that appealed to you.  Would the you of the past recognize the you of the
present?  It's been a long time since Londinium shortened it's name.

05 September 2015

Fiction Friday #1: Bartleby Jones

Bartleby Jones, Mr. Jones to his clients, considered himself a master of information.  It's how he made his living as something of a fixer/hirable detective.  There wasn't much he wasn't able to find out with the hodgepodge computer and other tech he built himself.  His office, on the eighth floor of one of the few office building still standing, was an incongruous blend of wires, plastic, and metal.  Visitors often felt like they'd stepped into an incongruous mix of film noir and space opera when they entered his office.  Every piece of  technology in it was lovingly slapdash, made by Jones himself, and all for the purpose of siphoning info and other useful bits from the city.

The man himself was considered a useful eccentric by his acquaintances, someone to count on my his friends, and vaguely dangerous by everyone else.  He was tall and almost painfully skinny, with skin the color of wet earth: deep brown with a hint of red.  For the past couple of years he'd taken to wearing ill-fitting three piece suits whenever he left his apartment, the entire ninth floor of that same office building.  The suit he chose for the meeting with the paunchy, pale, middle-aged man sitting just on the other side of the desk from him, was dark blue, made from some kind of synth fabric, and several inches too short in the arms and legs, giving the impression that he was an overgrown teenager wearing an outfit he'd outgrown years before.  His clients outfit was subtly rich: boots, pants, and tee.  Jones thought the t-shirt was real cotton, but couldn't be sure.  A backpack leaned against the leg of the metal chair his client sat in.

Jones typed something, read what came up, frowned, then repeated the process.  He had found all he needed earlier, before this appointment, but wanted to watch the reaction of his client.  He surreptitiously watched his client.  The man was sweaty, and nervous-looking, which could mean anything.  If he'd found himself in the situation his client claimed, he'd likely look the same, but something about the man rubbed Jones the wrong way.  He found he wanted to needle him, test his story, but it wouldn't help: whether the man was lying or not Jones would still have to call in a specialist.  He didn't like risking his tentative friendship with Jack by putting him danger, but with this case he knew he'd have to call Jack in.  Still, he looked up at his client and said, "I'm sorry.  Christoph Jacobi doesn't exist."

"No," his client said, "no, no.  No.  I exist.  I'm sitting right here, aren't I?"

"Are you?" Jones asked, and thought to himself, Did the man pause too long before speaking?  Did he look relieved that I found what I was supposed to find, which was nothing.  Or -

"Of course I am," the man said, rising to his feet and slamming his hands down on Jones' desk, " I exist damn it.  I'm real and I'm really Christoph Jacobi.  I'm not selling you something.  I need you're help.  I just want to go home."

Was that upset real?  Could this be some kind of trap?  I just don't know.  I'll just have to watch him.

"I want to go home," the man claiming to be Christoph Jacobi practically shouted, "This isn't a joke or a con.  I heard you could help me, but if you're not going to take me seriously I'll find someone else!"

Jones leaned backed, steepled his fingers, and stared Christoph down.  "Who," he said darkly.


"I'm just curious who you think will help you with your problem?  Do you know anyone this side of the city wall?"

"No - I just . . ."


The man sat, and Jones leaned forward.  "I doubt very much that you'll find anyone else out here who'll willing to help you.  I doubt you'll find anyone else who won't rob you, rip you to pieces, and feed you to the cannibals in the Edge.  Not with you're rich clothes, and . . . are those boots real leather?"

Christoph blanched, and Jones smiled.

"I didn't say I wouldn't help you," Jones said, "Or that I couldn't help you.  I only said that you didn't exist."

"But I do . . ." the man's voice had a whiny edge to it that made Jones want to cringe.  Could you fake that?

"What I mean," Jones said, sharply cutting the whine off, "when I say you don't exist is that Christoph Jacobi, the name and ID code you gave me, is nonexistent in every database to which I have access, both legally, and . . . otherwise.  In essence, for the sake of legal niceties, and most certainly in the eyes of the government, Christoph Jacobi does not exist.  You shouldn't feel too bad about it, not many people on this side of the wall do.  It's a perfectly legitimately way to live."

"I don't want to live this way."

Jones shrugged, and said simply, "I can arrange for that as well."

Christoph paled, and stammered, "I-I don't mean - I mean, I don't . . . No - I mean I was . . . and, and now I'm not - and -"

Jones thought to take pity on him, if it was a lie he was committed, and if it wasn't he really needed help.  "Look," he said, "if what you're telling me is true then there are two possibilities.  One, you were erased.  By someone high-high in the government.  That could happen for a number of reasons: You stepped out of line, pissed someone off, were some kind of threat, you asked the wrong question, saw the wrong document, drank the wrong coffee.  I don't know.  You'd be surprised how little it takes."

"I haven't done anything.  I didn't do anything!  I swear it.  I'm a good citizen."

"I don't really care."

"Take this seriously, damn it!" the man cried, almost standing up again.  Jones waved him back down.

"I am taking this seriously," he said, "which brings us to option two."

"Which is?"

Jones reached for the drawer under his desk, it slid open without a sound, the second option, a convenient lie with just enough truth to sound convincing slid to his lips, "That you're a government agent with an assumed 'identity' sent here to catch me doing exactly what you seem to want me to do, which, I'm sure you know, is highly illegal."

Christoph Jacobi, or whoever he really was, inhaled loudly and leaned back, as though trying to get as far away from Jones as he could without getting out of his chair.

Jones smiled thinly and almost whispered, "Which option, do you think, gives you the best chance of leaving this room alive?"

The man sitting across from him jumped up, toppling the chair and started to back towards the closed office door.  Jones rose, following him, gun in hand.

"I didn't do anything!" Christoph cried, "I'm not - I didn't do anything wrong!"

"Boy," Jones growled, "If I believed that you'd already be nothing but a stain on my floor.  'Cause if you're a spy, you didn't do anything wrong.  And if you're just some little lost 'zen, well . . . You must've done something."

"I'm the victim here.  I swear, I'm the victim," Christoph was practically in tears, but didn't make any further move towards the door.

Jones bent down, righted the toppled chair, then leaned back against his desk, gesturing for Christoph to return.  The man did, slowly.  Jones put the gun on the desk, not out of reach, he wanted to look threatening, but not too threatening.

"As it happens," he said picking up the little dagger he kept on his desk to open letters and other things.  He fingered the dagger, twirling it around his fingers, it was sharp, well-balanced, perfect for throwing, "I find I'm not entirely convinced of either possibility.  Now, let's talk about you."

"What about me?" Christoph grumbled.

"Oh, little things.  Like, how you got on this side of the wall, being a good 'zen and all.  Or how you heard of me.  Or how you expect to pay me.  You pick."

"I-I  . . . wh- I came home and my imprint didn't work.  Y-you know, the door didn't open.  It happens sometimes.  Um, I tried getting an officer to open it and reset it, a-and when he scanned me . . . i-it didn't work  I didn't show up.  He laughed.  Laughed!  Called me a slum rat.  I was arrested, thrown out of the city.  I-I didn't know what to do.  I ran into some guy near the wall.  He told me, he told me about you, th-that you could help me, and I came.  I don't know what else to tell you."

Hmm, Jones thought, truth or lie?  Both?  He did have agents near the wall for occasions such as this, but something about the man didn't jibe.

"And my fee?" Jones prompted.

"I-I don't know."

"I don't do this out of the kindness of my heart, boy," Jones said.

"If, if you can get me my life back . . . I can pay, I will pay whatever you want."

Jones smiled wide, showing his teeth, "Twenty-thousand hard credits, paid the day you get your life back."

"I can't afford that!"

"You're welcome to find someone else to help you."

"You just told me there's no one else!"

"True.  Then we have a deal?"

Christoph looked mulish, "If I can't pay?  If I don't pay?"

"We don't haggle here," Jones said, leaning forward to put his face just inches away from Christoph's, "If you don't pay me, I'll just arrange for you to lose your life again.  You'll end up back on this side of the wall, back at my door, and I'll give you to Esme to take it out of your ass before you lose your life in a more permanent fashion."

"Who's Esme?"

"My wife, and the proprietress of the lovely little whorehouse downstairs."

"What if you can't get me back in the city?"

"You still have to pay, but my fee will be discounted, and we'll work out another form of payment.  Do we have a deal?"

"Do I have a choice?" Christoph sounded resentful.

"No, not really," Jones said, and thought, Neither do I.

"Then we have a deal," Christoph said, reaching out to shake Jones' hand.

A half an hour later, Jones sat at his desk alone.  He felt glum and gloomy.  He'd arranged for Christoph to have a room at Esme's Place.  It was safer than making the man squat somewhere, and he'd be able to keep an eye on him.  He didn't like it, this story of Christoph's, it smacked of danger, true or no.  The door hidden at the side of the room opened, Esme leaned against the frame.  She was beautiful, his wife, with her curvy body, long black hair, and angel face.  She wore a knee-length white sundress that was almost, but not quite shear.  He loved her for her looks, which hadn't faded in the twenty years they'd been together; and he loved her for her mind, which was full of all sorts of clever twists and turns.  She was beautiful, yes, and as dangerous and cunning as a snake.

"How much of the interview did you see?" He asked her.

"Most of it," she said smiling, "You channeling Jack.  Kind of sexy."

"He does have a way about him."

"That he does."

"Should I be jealous?" he teased.

"Stop being foolish," Esme scolded.  She moved to stand arms akimbo, and Jones' attention was drawn to the lush curve of her hips.  She laughed, and raised an eyebrow when he looked back at her face.

"What do you think?" he asked.

"About that look you just gave me, or about you're client?"


"He wasn't one of yours?"

"No.  I quit that scam months back.  The 'zen authorities were beginning to catch on.  Ground boiling beneath my feet, you know?"

"I remember," Esme said, as she walked over to him and found a comfortable place on his lap, "It was too dangerous to walk.  Couldn't take a step without tripping over some pig-headed, overzealous 'zen enforcer.  That moron, Skinned-Ed, still can't walk."

"Well, he did used to be just Ed," Jones said.

"Don't joke," said Esme looking troubled, "What do you think?  He's your client after all."

"Something about him doesn't ring true, but I can't put my finger on it."

"What are you going to do?" Esme asked.

"Figure it out," he said as he put his arms around her and buried his face in the crook of her neck.

Jones took a circuitous route to Jack's house.  A different route than the last time he visited, different, even, than the time before that.  It was a pain in the ass, but every time he came to Jack's house he tried to take a different path there.  This time he cut through several burned out buildings, crossed over the territories of three different gangs, and skirted the Edge.  At times he sprinted, at other he meandered, looking, hopefully, like he had no real destination.  All this to make sure he wasn't followed, to keep the location of Jack's home as secret as possible.  Jones didn't know who exactly Jack was, nor did he know who exactly was looking for his friend, but he knew the man was being looked for by very dangerous people.  He'd seen the footprints of the search himself in the ether of the net when he'd checked to satisfy his own curiosity.  Whenever Jones visited, he always got the impression of being followed, and felt it best to take precautions.  Today was no different, if anything, it was slightly worse.  Jones could practically feel the boots at his back.

Jack's house was fairly typical for the neighborhood, just one more beat-up old house, brick built, two stories not counting the attic or basement.  A big porch overlooked a front garden that, come harvest, produced enough edibles to feed several large families.  Some of the bricks on the facade were pitted and scorched.  Mortar shells exploded near enough to damage but not destroy.  Above the porch was a deck with a low brick wall running around it.  It gave a good view of the surrounding area, and Jack had cut down several trees and knocked down some of the walls that still stood from other houses that hadn't quite so lucky the mortars were fired.One of the battlefronts was not far from here, during the war some of the buildings were used as aid stations, Jones often wondered which ones, and if his friend had chosen his home for that reason.

The door was some kind of thick hardwood, reinforced with steel, and Jones knew the jam and surrounding wall was also reinforced.  Jack was slightly paranoid, Jones thought he had a right to be, but the younger man never seemed to let it get to him.  He had secrets, but was so skilled in diverting attention away from him that even though Jones could find no one who actually knew anything more about Jack than he did, no one else seemed to notice until Jones had inadvertently pointed it out to them with his questions.

Jack knocked, thinking of his previous blunders and frowning.  There was no answer.  He knocked again, and waited.  Then again.

"Leave off the knocking, will you, Bart? You'll wake the neighborhood and dent my door." Jack called from the balcony, sounding amused.  Jones got the oddest feeling that he should have seen him when he walked through the yard.

"What neighborhood?" Jones asked, "You're the only one living for several blocks."

There was no answer, but Jones imagined Jack shrugging gracefully.  Jack did everything gracefully.

"I think I need your help, Jack," Jones said.

"Is that what brings you to my door?"


"I'll be right down," Jack said, and Jones heard a door close above him.

Jones turned towards the door, waiting for Jack to open it and let him in.  He felt a hand on his back and jumped.  Jack laughed quietly behind him.

"I thought I'd take the quick way down," he said.

"How'd you get down here, man?" Jones asked.

"I jumped."

"Why didn't I hear you land?"

Jack shrugged and said, "Let's talk upstairs."

He unlocked a series of complicated looking locks and opened the door, leading Jones inside, then relocking every lock carefully.  The inside of the house was all wood, stained dark and polished bright.  Every room had a wall of books and weapons.  Jones knew Jack was never without at least one blade on him, not even, it seemed, at home.  Jones also knew that Jack himself was a weapon.  He was fast, strong, more dangerous than anyone gave him credit for.  Jones' had seen him kill a man once, the man was a local thug, tried to set himself up as a boss, tried to start something one night with Jack, and had been cut three different times before he even knew he was dead.  And he was dead before anyone had even realized that the fight had fully started.  Scary stuff.  Takes some serious training too.

Jones followed the man through the rooms of the ground floor, up the stairs, through a sumptuous bedroom, and out onto the front deck.  There was a little table with two chairs, and on the table, as though waiting for Jones' visit, was a teapot and two cups.

"Tea?" Jack asked holding his arm out to indicate Jones should sit.  Jack was in his usual uniform of crisp, white, impeccably tailored shirt and dark grey, just as tailored slacks, but his sleeves were rolled up to the elbow, and Jones caught sight of the red holodermic band tattooed around Jack's wrist, his breath caught sharply in his throat.  Jack noticed, of course he did, "I won't hurt you, Bart, you know that."

"I know, man, but--" Jones gestured to Jack's wrist.

Jack smiled a small, tight smile.  "It's not really a tattoo, you know," he said, "it's holodermic thread sown layer by layer through your skin.  The pain is incredible, you can feel it wrapping around your bones.  Some are permanently disabled by the process, can no longer use their hand.  They were more careful with me."

"It's red, man.  Fuck, what I know?  Means you're a breeder, right?  What the fuck are you living on this side of the wall for?  Who are you?"

"I like it here.  It's as good a place as any."

"Ratshit.  I don't believe that for a second," Jones was scared and angry, he trusted Jack, and this revelation, intended or not, had shaken that trust, "That," he said indicating the tattoo, "marks you as a fucking 'zen enforcer--"

Jack scoffed, "I can guarantee that no one as unimportant as an enforcer wears this mark."

"That's not a fucking answer," Jones spat, "Who are you?"

Jack sat with a sigh, and poured some tea into the cups.  "This," he said lifting his forearm, "doesn't exactly mean what you think it means."

Jones sat opposite Jack, a warm cuppa in front of him, and said, "Then tell me what it means.  I need to know.  If I'm going to let you near Esme, the girls, my family . . ." he hardened, "If I'm going to let you keep breathing, I need to know.  As much as you can tell me."

A smile came and went across Jack's face.  He leaned back in his chair, sipped his tea, and said, "Do you really think that you could even touch me unless I wanted you to, old man?"

"I'm serious, Jack."

"I'm getting that, Bart."

"Who are you?"

Jack took a slow, deep breath, "You're asking the wrong question.  This bracelet, my bracelet, means that the wearer's, my, genetic code -- the engineering that went into making me . . . The anomalies that make me what I am are . . . considered valuable to the people who run the world.  Yes, I'm a breeder.  They'd like me to breed, to pass on my valuable genes.  So this marks me as a breeder, and something else.  So when you ask me who I am, you're asking the wrong question."

"What are you?" Jack whispered, afraid the answer would mean death by the hands of a man he considered a friend.

"I'm not really sure, but I don't think I could be considered human."

"Are you going to kill me?"

Jack's smile was wider now, "That option was considered and dismissed when we first met, and you've give me no real reason to reconsider.  No, Bart, I'm not going to kill you.  I like you too much."

Jones could breathe again.  He picked up the little cup and sipped his tea, it tasted real.  Jack wasn't telling him everything, but he could live with that.  For now.

"Why are you here, this side of the wall?" he asked the not-quite-human across from him.

"Why are you?"


"Seriously, Bart, you've got the skills to make yourself a nearly foolproof ident.  You could easily move yourself into the city's walls."

Jones thought about it, he'd grown up in the city, run away as a teenager, met Esme, fell in love, built a home and a business, and never really looked back.  Sometimes his nights were sleepless and filled with what-ifs but not often.  He didn't speak until he thought he had an answer, "The 'zens are little more than slaves, gears working in a machine run my tyrants.  Here, I'm free."

"Mostly," Jack said.

"Yeah, well, mostly's good enough for now."

"That's why I'm here too," Jack said and held up his forearm again, "This isn't a key.  It's a manacle."

The two drank their tea in silence.  Then Jack asked, "What do you need my help with?"

And Jones told him about his client.

A year before Jones came up with a scheme to get money, food, clothes, meds, and tech from the 'zens inside the wall.  He hacked the 'zen registry and found 'zens with access to what he needed.  He didn't do this just for himself, but for Esme, her employees, their neighbors, hell, everyone this side of the wall.  They were dying out here.  Slowly.  They grew what they could, bartered or scavenged what they couldn't, but there were still things, like meds, that they couldn't get.  What little hard credits they got from 'zen tourists looking for a wild night, went fast and never covered as much as they should've.  Taxes, the city guards called it.  Things were getting desperate, and more and more people were going to the Edge, because at least there you usually had something to eat.  That is, if you managed not to be made a meal yourself.

His plan worked pretty well, too, for a few months.  Then 'zens started showing up that he didn't erase.  At first Jones thought one of the other area hackers had found out and was working the same con, but the theory didn't fly.  Then the enforcers showed up, and Jones shut down.  People looking for help tapered, and months went by with no one looking for that kind of help.  Until a few days ago, out of the clear blue, Christoph Jacobi showed up.

Jack told Jones that they should kill him.  Jones didn't like the idea of killing some innocent 'zen, but Jack didn't give up easily.

"Think of it as a mercy killing," he said, "By the gods, Bart, if, and I really mean this, if he's not some government though, then seriously pissed off some government thug.  Either way, it's dangerous for you.  It's better for everyone to quickly and quietly get rid of him.  Bury the body, or take it to the Edge and get some use out of it.  Then just pretend none of this ever happened.  That's the smart play."

Jones couldn't stomach the thought of killing an innocent person.

Jack thought him hopelessly naive, and told him so, "You're far too chivalrous, and I think you're an idiot for doing this.  It's just asking for trouble.  I'll help you, but only because I've been bored.  And I'm doing this under protest of idiocy."

"Duly noted," Jones told him.

That's how Jones found himself sneaking up the back stairs of his own home and onto the floor that housed Esme's Place.  Christoph, a quick call to Esme had confirmed, was busy with a couple of her girls, and, most importantly, in their room, not his own.  Christoph's room was in the corner near the stairs, the murder room, easy to sneak in and out of.

"Why are we here again?" Jones asked quietly.

"What?  Are you new?" Jack answered, "I want to go through his stuff."

"I told you that Esme and I did that already.  All he had was a backpack and I checked it at our first meeting, then Esme rechecked it when I moved him here.  He didn't have much."

"I believe in being thorough," Jack said, "It's a quirk.  Think, Bart, when did one of your marks have anything coming to you, let alone a bag?"

"Well, yeah, the bag was suspicious, but I checked it and he had nothing."

"Nothing can turn into something pretty fast."


"Just shut up and help me search, old man."

Jones reluctantly joined Jack's searching, annoyed that the younger man was completely disregarding two separate searches.  He was poking sulkily around the empty closet when he heard Jack "a-ha!" and turned to find him laying on the floor and pulling a backpack out from under the bed.

"What 'a-ha'?" Jones said, "There is 'a-ha'.  There's nothing here that hasn't already been checked.  A couple of times, remember?"

Jack ignored him and dumped the contents of the bag on the bed.  Then he took a closer look at the inside of the bag, reached his hand in, fiddled a bit, and pulled out a phone and a switchblade.

"So you knew he had a blade and a phone when you booked him here?" he asked looking smug.

"What?  No.  Those weren't in his bag earlier."

"I'm afraid they were.  Hidden compartment."

"I checked for hidden compartments," Jones felt new and very stupid.

"Very well hidden.  Don't feel bad, I've seen this bag before.  Well, not this one, but one just like it,"  Jack snicked the blade open and used it to pry off the back of the phone.  He poked around at the insides, and said, "We're moderately lucky, no GPS.  Let's see who he's been talking to."

Jack turns the phone on, swiping at the screen, he lifted the speaker to his ear, listened a minute before dropping it and crushing it under his boot.  He looked up a Jones, "You really should've let me kill him."

"Yeah," Jones said looking over Jack's shoulder, "I'm getting that."

Jack turned and saw what Jones was looking at, Christoph, or whatever his real name was, was standing in the door, pointing a gun right at him.

"Find something interesting?" Christoph asked mildly.

"Not really," Jack told him.  Glancing back at Jones, Jack asked, "So this is your Christoph Jacobi?"

"Yeah," Jones said.

"I'm not terribly impressed," Jack said.

"You should be," Christoph spat, "I found you, didn't I, Jack?"

"And what do you expect that to get you?" Jack asked, he sounded amused, "A promotion?  That's only if you can hand me over, and I won't let that happen."

"You think not?"

"I know not," Jack dismissed him and the gun he was pointing at Jack, and turned to Jones, "Come on, Bart, let's get you out of here.  I'll kill this guy later."

"I think he'll shoot us," Bart said blandly.

"No," Jack said smiling wickedly, "I'm betting that he was ordered not to hurt me.  That's a big handicap."

"I was ordered not to kill you, but nothing was said about him," Christoph snarled and gestured towards Jones with the gun before bringing it right back to point squarely at Jack, "and nothing was said about hurting you either."

Jack looked at Christoph mildly, and Jones thought, not for the first time, that he might just be a little past crazy.  He didn't seem worried at all.  Jones, however, was sweating.  He really didn't want to get shot.  A movement in the shadows of the hallway behind Christoph caught his eye,  Esme.  The mad woman was there with a bat, she smiled at him.  He shook his head slightly, praying she'd catch it and back up the way she came.

Jack took a step toward Christoph and said, "I think it's highly unlikely that you'll stop aiming at me.  I'm the biggest threat to you, and that gun?  It's your only leverage.  Hurt fades.  You won't cause me any permanent damage.  You were ordered not to."

"What do you know of orders?"

"I think I know who's giving you yours."

"Who?" Jones asked, unable, even now, to check his curiosity.

"Someone I hoped would never find me," Jack said somberly.

Christoph snorted, "His mother."

"What?!" Jones half asked, half exclaimed.  His mother?!

"She's a terrifying lady, Bart," Jack said.

"She's a pussycat compared to me," Christoph said.

"Right," Jack didn't sound convinced.  He moved forward another pace.

Christoph stepped back just enough to clear the threshold and enter the hallway.  Just enough that Esme had the room to brain him with the bat she held, which she did without hesitation.  Jack laughed as Christoph thumped to the floor, and Jones ran to his wife.

"Are you crazy, woman?" he all but shouted at her, "You could've gotten yourself killed."

"Pffft," Esme waved away his worry, "I was perfectly safe."

"What if he'd seen you?" Jones asked.

"He didn't.  I'm fine," Esme said toeing the crumpled man beside them, "Do you think he'll wake up again?"

"Does it matter?" Jack asked her.

"Meh," she answered.

"Jack," Jones said, "I think you need to tell us a little bit about your family."

"It's a long story."

"We've got time right now."

02 September 2015

Poetry Wednesday #6

Red Moon Summer

The West is burning.
Drought and heat coupled,
Created kindling, and a 
Cause unknown:
Maybe dry lightning,
Maybe a careless camper,
Or a cigarette tossed by a
Passing driver, or maybe just
The scorch of the sun,
Lit the world.

The summer's been 
Unnaturally cool here,
Eastward of the Western downs.
Hot days shorter in duration
If not length.
The flames of the West 
Have stolen our heat,
But the moon glows crimson,
And the air smells of 
Woodsmoke and

01 September 2015


Okay, so I know I missed my first Fiction Friday.  Not a very auspicious beginning, huh?  I was on visiting friends, my story wasn't finished, and I thought it'd be rude to lock myself in their guest room to write for hours on end.  So, as with last weeks Poetry Wednesday, this month you'll get two stories.  The first will come this Friday, and the second at the regular time (last Friday of the month).  Until then, here's an update on me:

In an effort bring balance to my life I feel the need to go to extremes.  Don't worry, this post will make more sense as I continue.  Hopefully.

I recently discovered something about myself: while meandering through a short story, I realized that I need to write everything longhand first.  Weird, right?  It's annoyingly archaic, or seems so, but I can't wrap my head around a story unless I write it first, before I type it.  I revise when it's being typed, and the story is stronger for it, but I've got to write it out first.

It make sense, I guess.  Though I am considered a member of the Millennial generation I am on the upper end of that age bracket.  I remember a time before computers were in common use, though my schools always had them.  That I remember, anyway.  My family was/is considered middle class, but we're on the lower end of that bracket too, and we didn't get a computer of our own until my last year of high school.  My brain connects better pen to paper than fingers to keys.

So things are progressing slowly, and maybe always will.  Maybe old-fashion's a good thing.

We'll see.