The Path #7
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The Path #7

The Path #7

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The Path #7 Document Transcript

  • 1. Summer 2014 $8.99 The Path A Literary Magazine ©Elaine Westphal
  • 2. The Path A Literary Magazine Summer 2014 “Somewhere Over the rainbow” The Path is taken by all writers. The Path to Publication can be long and arduous. This publication is dedicated to straightening and shortening that path. Please enjoy the work of authors who have chosen to take the path to publication.
  • 3. Editor-in-Chief Mary J. Nickum Managing Editor Dian Butler Founding Editor R. J. Buckley Assistant Editor Caitlin Demo Copyeditor Pattie Angelucci Book Reviewer Eva Willis Contributing Authors: D. E. Z. Butler Richard Lloyd Cederberg Holly Day Tatjana Debeljački Claire T. Feild Linda McCauley Freeman Madison Feyrer-Melk Debra Scala Giokas Ina Goodling John Grey A.J. Huffman Michelle Lommen Dennis Maloney Joan McNerney Budd Nelson Rachelle Parker Catherine Becker Reynolds Tom Sheehan Bobbi Sinha-Morey Jamey Temple Elaine Westphal Tim Wilkinson Changming Yuan Advisory Board: Pattie Angelucci Dr. John G. Nickum Catherine Becker Reynolds The Path is published with the purpose of providing quality works to the reading public. It is our wish to also provide a venue not only for established authors, but to open another door for new writers to make their entrance into the literary world. Submission guidelines can be found at the end of the book, after the contributor bio information. Correspondence should be directed to the Editor-in-Chief, Mary J. Nickum, mjnickum@thepathmagazine.com Published semi-annually. Single copies, $8.99 (Arizona residents add sales tax). Ezine, $3.99. For libraries $10 per issue. Subscriptions: $18 per year website: www.thepathmagazine.com ISBN: ISSN: 2165-9540 (print) ISSN: 2167-1737 (online) Copyright 2014 The Path to Publication Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 4. TABLE OF CONTENTS Volume 4, Number 1 Summer 2014 The Path, a photo 7 Literacy Puzzle 8 Poetry 9 Poetry Dedication 10 R. Elaine Westphal 11 Poem Claire T. Feild 13 Two Poems Michelle Lomman 15 Two Poems Ina Goodling 17 Four Poems Bobbi Sinha-Morey 20 Three Poems Linda McCauley Freeman 22 Poem Debra Scala Giokas 23 Poem Joan McNerney 25 Poem Holly Day 27 Six Poems Tatjana Debeljacki 31 Poem John Grey 32 Three Poems A.J. Huffman 36 Poem Dennis Maloney 37 Four Poems Rachelle Parker 41 Poem Chanming Yuan 42 Poem Jamey Temple 43 Poem Catherine Becker Reynolds 44 Poem Poetic Essay 46 Poetic Essay Tom Sheehan 47 Letter to a Sweet-Smelling Woman… Young Writer’s Corner 49 Young Writer’s Corner Madison Feyrer-Melk 50 Blood Hound Essay 79 Essay Mary J. Nickum 80 Food Insecurity and World Hunger Short Story 92 Short Story Tim Wilkinson 93 Rainbows and Revelations Tom Sheehan 98 Locked in a Syzygy at Home 110 Banjo D.E.Z. Butler 127 The Golden Gate Bridge Budd Nelson 135 Escape from the Shadows Richard Lloyd Cederberg 147 Therapy Session… Book Review 152 Book Review Eva Willis 153 The Night Circus Contributor Bios 156 Submission Guidelines 162 Advertisements
  • 5. "Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public." ---Winston Churchill
  • 6. The Path Path to Publication Group 7 The Path Photo: Ina Goodling
  • 7. The Path Path to Publication Group 8 Solution will be published in the Winter issue of The Path
  • 8. Poetry Maya Angelou
  • 9. The Path Path to Publication Group 10 Wednesday, May 28, 2014 Statement from Dr. Maya Angelou’s Family: Dr. Maya Angelou passed quietly in her home before 8:00 a.m. EST. Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking down upon us with love. Guy B. Johnson This issue is dedicated to Dr. Maya Angelou
  • 10. The Path Path to Publication Group 11 R. Elaine Westphal My Pot of Gold They say at the end of every rainbow, there is a pot of gold And so I began my eager search many, long years ago. It started on a sun-filled morning in the Springtime month of May When all of nature bloomed and the newborn bunnies played. By afternoon the storm clouds gathered Dark, foreboding and bold, I knew that now I’d have my chance to find my pot of gold. On a hot and humid day in the middle Summertime, I strolled along a woodland path under the pungent pine And stopped awhile to rest and dream beside a murmuring stream. When I awoke the storm clouds gathered Dark, foreboding and bold, I knew that now I’d have my chance to find my pot of gold. When the golden days of Autumn came and the vivid leaves blew down, With scents of wood-burned smoke and apple cider all round, I watched while storm clouds gathered Dark, foreboding and bold, I knew that now I’d have my chance to find my pot of gold. It is now bleak mid-Winter when snowflakes fill the air. I sit beside the crackling fire and nestle in my chair Reminiscing of days gone by, of true and faithful friends, Of a loving family, and a husband’s devotion that never ends.
  • 11. The Path Path to Publication Group 12 My “rainbow” is filled with grateful love, as much as it can hold. It was when I searched within my heart; I found my pot of gold.
  • 12. The Path Path to Publication Group 13 Claire T. Feild Over the Rainbow Over the rainbow, the sky refuses to bow, for the sky is jealous of the diversity of color it admires. But the sky is forgetting that the bridge of its false teeth is huge—and that it has a variety of colors like the rainbow. Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree Once a year, she sheds her bark, our getting to know her true self our quiet surge into her new essence, our slight sweeping hand movements over a novel enlightenment welcomed, her over the rainbow hues becoming so tall that they beckon us to a monumental escape from the commoners, the other trees who’s hardened canker sores sit as apathetic as the elderly do
  • 13. The Path Path to Publication Group 14 when dementias as insidious as death penalties arrive, the spires of sludge marching on aged neurons, the end of death row. Rainbow Eucalyptus
  • 14. The Path Path to Publication Group 15 Michelle Lommen Desperate Lovers We meet in dark silent restaurants On a bench next to each other Warm long legs close Clutching of disparate lovers The colors vary In the window there is light, the river In the back, brown tables are covered with white napkins Folded like birds flittering for freedom In nature we would be trapped In a snowy ravine, you touch my breast Holding each other face to face Coldness surrounds our love My Power Is My Weakness Sun is shining On my black and white bikini You and me Were playing chess You smiling Knowing you are the stronger Negotiator in the end Me trembling inside Not willing to give in Leaning forward you whisper
  • 15. The Path Path to Publication Group 16 Think, Michelle Think, how you can do this Suddenly I realize My power is my weakness Photo by Ina Goodling
  • 16. The Path Path to Publication Group 17 Ina Goodling Rivers of the Heart For Georgia Pruitt The best of times when I was young Still flowing through my veins And the best of friends as rivers run Are like two common drops of rain The laughter and the songs once sung Still echo through the years And tender moments as rivers run Are streaming down in tears That place we shared, so warm in the sun Is here, is ours to keep And a loving thought as rivers run Is still flowing pure and deep In the stillness when the day is done Reflect as time goes by For each moment as the rivers run Slips past so fast, but don’t let the rivers dry. Memories The clouds aglow with silver lining Are damp still from the evening's April showers And now outside I take pleasure in finding The remnant drops like diamonds on the flowers Though not a single white jasmine among the bouquet
  • 17. The Path Path to Publication Group 18 Those fragrant little stars that give me hope Can be found here on this dreary day To help give me the strength to cope And I can still smell their misty grace That comes to mind across the years and plains And that brings me back to my childhood place Beyond the hills and before the rains The where and when I still hold to now and here Even as the moon of my memory wanes I still cling to even as the jasmines cling so dear To my heart and strongly through the rains. Amaranthine I close my eyes to this crimson pain Turn away from the turquoise whispers And the lies of an amber mind Violet words written in blood Across the perfect ivory of my soul Scarlet scars and silver swords Blue moon and maroon An ebony stranger, sexless Opal eyes veiled in teal Seeking out that cerulean tranquility Amidst the ashen ruins Of this obsidian nightmare Where bronzed memories tarnish Under a faded denim sky A burnt sienna insult Darkening my indigo thoughts My ruddy anger pales As magenta moments go Passing into mauve
  • 18. The Path Path to Publication Group 19 As tired as jade and as Indifferent as beige Purple poems and lavender lullabies Yet no mind has known No eyes have seen What all my deepest dreams have been Amethyst Azure Or aquamarine I know they’re somewhere in between For a painter-poet lost in love My dreams are Amaranthine. Journal Entry April 11th, 1993 (written when I was 12 years old) As the last sweeping rays of sunlight stream in through the shadowing pines, the sparkles of golden gravel path make the great sky highway up to the wild blue yonder. On through soaring clouds, above the shimmering stars, taken on by rainbow hopes, carried witherly by stardust dreams, setting forth on moonbeams, welcomed by the sunset shades, passing through the Pearly Gates. Beyond our dreams, beyond our hopes and tomorrow's plans, on to our destined future. On and on, past the dawn, and into the golden sunset. Taken through Imagination is the road that leads to Somewhere. Wherever it be, all our dreams will soar free, anonymous forever. 
  • 19. The Path Path to Publication Group 20 Bobbi Sinha-Morey The Tip Jar Message in a tip jar is left for the copperheaded waitress, tired and sharp-worded, a tightly-lipped smile hiding badly chipped teeth. She keeps her mind the way men keep a knife, keen to strip the game right down to her size. She swallows her eggs cold, has a thin spine, and tells lies. She understands the necessity for pain, slaps a wet rag at the truck drivers if they complain. She turns away the smaller tips out of pride, and her hands are nervous, curled, ready to scrape. Her flat blue eyes are like an isolated lake. The Alchemy Of Food Holidays run together like ungrooved rivers, and I forget what they are for; this is how my mother’s death changed the alchemy of food. When she lived she gave us memories, she gave exile the bite of bitter herbs.
  • 20. The Path Path to Publication Group 21 To every celebration she matched a flavor, and in more ambitious days she’d clip recipes, knew how to decipher tastes of other times. God’s word drifted in fragrant soups, and she’d fashion a prayer from a piece of dough. Now that she’s not here she left her favorite cookbook behind, its spine loose with age. The fit of her old apron is not my size, and the shape of the family has now been swallowed into other lives. My Body, An Old Friend My body, old friend, why are you so unforgiving? What should I say to my body that can never bear children, this used violin? Every night it strenuously cries out from its secret cave, so stiff and resistant, clenched around an empty space. It is born of detach- ment, lacking a sweeter grace for such a small life. Now there is a hole in its sky, once the property of living, of every valuable thought. In my impatience I wait for the sake of what only the body can do for itself.
  • 21. The Path Path to Publication Group 22 Linda McCauley Freeman Somewhere Over the Rainbow She had the ruby shoes that sparkled, and the gingham dress, the basket and the dog. But first she had the dream of a different life. A dream to live somewhere else over the rainbow even. She didn’t know that dream would take her so far down such a foreign road, that her best friend would be stuffed full of himself, the other two: scared and hollow. That the four of them, and her little dog, too, would discover all they wanted they already had. Rainbow
  • 22. The Path Path to Publication Group 23 Debra Scala Giokas San Francisco Halfway home from Hawaii, the land of rainbows: we walked up and down and up and down and over and under hills where cool nights and warm days met us with good mornings of 18 silver dollar pancakes, Swedish and stacked at Sears Fine Food, his shaped like a smiley face with Lingonberries for eyes. At the Embarcadero: Pier 39, windy wharf, singing seals, cotton candy skies, swirls of Ghirardelli squares and circles of taffy barrels in crayon colors: colors of rain and sun and grass, pleasing like Painted Ladies, in Postcard Row. Those games of yesterday in the arcade: fortune tellers, telling futures on slips of papers from machines, turning copper pennies into trolley cars, ding ding, ding ding, they sing, in the background, and our photo booth printing, honeymoon us in black and white.
  • 23. The Path Path to Publication Group 24 Like the cookies we found, after we walked up and down from Chinatown: looking at lanterns, linens and lace, but these were heart-shaped, sealed tightly in a white paper bag, oh, there must have been a pound, they never melted, so we took them home, over another rainbow: New York bound. San Francisco
  • 24. The Path Path to Publication Group 25 Joan McNerney Birthday Present I wanted to bring back the best gift from the country for you, just for you. I wanted to. Some sky would be nice, lots of lovely sky with light fleecy clouds. So I rushed all over shops and bought the biggest shiny box and looked for a perfect bow. All shades of blue, violet with red and yellow. An entire rainbow of colored ribbons for the box to put this sky into. Then on the bus my bow fell apart. Somewhere, someone stepped on the box. It's all crushed and dirty. By the time we got to the city it was late. Did my sky fly away? The box is empty now.
  • 25. The Path Path to Publication Group 26 I wanted to bring back the best gift from the country for you, just for you. I wanted to. Birthday present
  • 26. The Path Path to Publication Group 27 Holly Day Lection Beyond the curve at the edge of the world, there is a monster that knows who you are, an awful thing with claws and teeth and too many eyes to miss all the bad things you do. It is watching you now. It has an eye dedicated entirely to watching you. There is a book that your parents are writing and it’s all about you, a list of all the terrible things you’ve done since you were born, a laundry list of evils. When you are old enough they will present this book to the monster, and it will decide if you’re worthy of passing on to adulthood. Your parents may intervene on your behalf, but they probably won’t. They know that the monster only takes bad children, and they can always have another one, they can try for a good, well-behaved child next time. Just a few children, bad children, never get to grow up, disappear into the night from their bedrooms, dragged out the window and presumably, all the way to the very edge of the world, where the monster lives. Who knows what the monster does with all the children it drags back to its lair? That’s not really the question here. That is the wrong question. This, this is what you must take back with you today: Try to be good. Sit still and don’t fidget. Pay attention when I’m talking. Don’t lie.
  • 27. The Path Path to Publication Group 28 Caipora You can’t count on nature spirits to find babies wrapped in old sheets, by the side of the road and under the trees, gasping for their first breaths not quite alive, simply abandoned. You can’t count on fox-headed women, sylphs with cow tails to be there to find babies left behind in rest station bathrooms on lonely country roads to come just in time to stop those tiny cries to save those tiny fingers twitching in lines of ash left by cigarettes burning out on wet tile. Birds Fly Highest take my eyes out of their sockets let my spirit fly free. split me wide. split my bones, scrape out my marrow fly with me. This body cannot hold me anymore. Moving Day The old house slides past the windows, disappears in the rearview mirror, turns the corner and it’s gone, that whole part of our lives together in that place, the backyard where I carried my baby around each night, waiting for him to be able to see the millions of stars suddenly visible on stark winter nights, the stunted flowers I grew from cheap seed packets, the way
  • 28. The Path Path to Publication Group 29 the baby clothes fluttered on the laundry line printed with bright-colored cartoon monkeys and puppy dogs. He sleeps between us in the front seat, so quiet, unaware that he will never see that back yard again, that he will never see the children from this neighborhood again. There are so many miles ahead of us, so many miles of empty, unfamiliar country, flat, yellow plains, small, unfriendly towns rest stops full of hollow-eyed people and old people who ask too many questions, concrete cities where flowers rarely bloom and the residents only come outside at night. Three thousand miles to hold onto and believe in promises of white beaches, seabirds, and no more snow almost seems like too much to ask. The Ecstasy of the Babirusa she roots in the mud, turning over clumps of sod with her shovel-like nose. nostrils twitch, she finds the thick wriggling grubs hiding just below the surface works them free with a pink slab of tongue rolls her eyes heavenward in complete satisfaction. she shuffles off to fur-lined den, to the six squealing babies nestling inside, drops to her knees with a loud exhale of breath and carefully rolls over onto her side. the piglets sense her return even in their sleep, tiny snouts seek out an engorged teat to latch onto, seal themselves to her in an infant’s suckling embrace. she succumbs to their yearnings, rolls her eyes heavenward in complete satisfaction.
  • 29. The Path Path to Publication Group 30 Yama-inu There is plenty to eat on the higher slopes. The corpses lay all along the path, frozen forever in various positions of despair, some huddled into themselves for the last vestiges of hopeless warmth, others spread out in full as if to embrace inevitabilities. There is no shortage of bones to gnaw up here, high past the clouds and in perpetual frost. Someday, when the world is warm enough to melt this ice, the dogs that never were will have to find another place to hunt, will have to climb past the spread of plants sprouting from seeds that have lain dormant for millennia will have to find shelter from first-ever rainstorms and flesh-and- blood wolves lured ever higher by the long-dead explorers finally beginning to decay. Wolves
  • 30. The Path Path to Publication Group 31 Tatjana Debeljacki EYES In them you will find What I really am – the eternity. Wishes of my non-being, Face full of wrinkles, Light souls and spring happiness. No remorse in the core of reason. Let go of me, without saying my name! I do not count on you anymore. You were not ready to Exist carelessly, Glitter unintentionally and Reign unnoticed. With this love we are fighting for loneliness. You are imposing new forms to the wind. How complicated is this simple love … The thought, legitimate or silly, Strengthens the games of boredom through you! Memory is suicide of the oblivion. Withered lie warns imagination with the fresh truth. Out of the mere deception, Starry nights I offer in my eyes. 
  • 31. The Path Path to Publication Group 32 John Grey CIGARETTE GUY'S MORNING It’s a day that smells of cheap cigarettes, abandoned tenements and their flapping yellow signs warning of rodent infestation. It is a body odor day. A smug day. Up the nose day. I start it with my irregular two step across the bedroom floor. Then the neighbors get involved, filling the windows with disheveled hair, portly guts, torn nightgowns, scratched butts, and that first dirty white trial of cigarette smoke. I earned this day. I own it. Crack open a fist, grab a coffee cup stained like plague skin, boil water in a rusty kettle, wipe grease from dim-lit brow, slump in a chair, suck caffeine through a stodgy nipple of sunlight. And then reach for a cigarette. My brand. The cheapest kind going. So cheap, label not only says, “Smoking causes cancer.” It adds, “Lucky you.” It’s a day when the woman in the apartment next door flushes a toilet in my left ear, screams at her husband and her teenage son to get out of fucking bed.
  • 32. The Path Path to Publication Group 33 It’s my first acquaintance with the “f” word today. But there’s plenty more where that came from. “Where’s my cigarettes?” growls the out-of-work truck driver. Then he pisses for what seems like an hour. And the kid starts talking smack to that sagging muscle-man. “I didn’t steal your fucking cigarettes.” A missed slap. A surly, “Don’t you talk that way to me.” Must be time for my second coffee. Or my second cigarette. Go get the paper. Pore over the skinny want ads. I burn a hole in page three with my ash. I'm too ugly to wait tables. Too dumb to clerk. Wasn't a bad fighter once. Won three close ones. Lost one bad one. Bloody eyes, split lip, bruised cheeks, and a cigarette dangling out of my mouth. Trainer lit it ‘cause my hands were broke. He must have wished it was a dynamite wick. Check better be there when the mailman comes. Otherwise, I’ll be smoking the sports section. Chick across the hall’s not bad looking when It’s dark. And it’s always dark across the hall. Screwed her twice. Laid back on the crumpled sheets after, smoked more than we talked. She’s married to some guy who gets out in a month. If she’s pregnant, I’m dead, she says. No big deal. I've been worse. There was the time I was out of cigarettes for a whole week. It was a month before my head, my gut, my nerves, forgave me. It’s a day that knows just how yesterday did it. A match will get lit. Tobacco will sizzle and paper burn. A filter-tip will cool down with spit. A nose will blow rings around what oxygen can do. Lungs will smother another canary in their coalmine. Light up, inhale and exhale, for tomorrow we cough.
  • 33. The Path Path to Publication Group 34 DEAD ROCK STAR BLUES I’m driving home down 95, twiddling with the radio dial, seeking out the hard rock station, amid all the dance and salsa and hip-hop. At last, that familiar guitar solo I’ve heard a thousand times before. And the screaming voice, the pounding drum kit. It’s the guy who overdosed at 27. And the one whose body gave out at 34 on bass. Nice solo, bad acid trip. Next song, another obituary column. Cancer.. .funny how wasting away never comes out as “What a waste.” And then it's the car crash singer, and the hung-himself instrumentalist. Now a woman takes the mike. I’m trying to remember where she's buried. And a guy…still alive I believe... but not so you’d notice. I sing along, can’t help myself, but it's more obituary column than radio station. Hard luck or hard drugs, the long gone have all the good tunes. Then, for a change, they play something brand new. Song's dead on arrival. That’s the living for you.
  • 34. The Path Path to Publication Group 35 FLYING WITH MY WIFE Yes. the aerodynamics elude me. We have conquered the air and I leave it at that. There's one child crying — it's his first time airborne. But the rest of us are as calm as if tanning by the pool. Look at those clouds. We've brought them to their knees. And forget the sky above, it's the sky below that accepts our victory, reteams with wind in keeping birds aloft. No I don't understand thrust and lift and drag. But nor does the guy with head down in a Robert Ludlum thriller. Or the woman thumbing through a copy of Time magazine. Or the old man on his third beer - well maybe he does. But we've won a war and they didn't even tell me there was one. Gravity can drop TV sets from ten story buildings but it lost out to a 747. It's like a jockey doesn't know the insides of a horse. And I drive at the behest of what an engine does but I cannot Even marriage - twenty years of air-miles - is a mystery I accept with the ease of my wife saying, "I'll have the steak tips" as the stewardess inquires, and I opt for the chicken. If I thought about it, maybe there was a time when men and women lived apart and they felt grounded. No. that can't be It. 
  • 35. The Path Path to Publication Group 36 A.J. Huffman I Am Ruby slippers. Brilliant mythical glitter creation. I was designed to fit like a second skin. I am magical transportative device, your portal home. I am temporary, borrowed from a dream. Tap me three times, and we will both disappear. Ruby Slippers
  • 36. The Path Path to Publication Group 37 Dennis Maloney Reflections in the Rear View Mirror An age when young men prowled the highways in souped-up jealopies with a slant 6 or V-8 and gas was 35 cents When I was a kid we didn’t have a car but I remember those 50s commercials on the black and white TV —trust your car to the man who wears the star, the attendant in the crisp uniform and cap The ad said they would put a tiger in your tank Now every time we absent-mindedly fill up, we fill our tank with the oil leaking into the creeks and swamps of the Niger Delta, feel the noose tighten around the neck
  • 37. The Path Path to Publication Group 38 of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the gas the runs our cars so efficiently. The oil platform engulfed in flames, oil we are hooked on choking estuaries from Louisiana to Alaska. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. Broken English In the middle of the cold war and near the end of Vietnam. A Japanese friend and I stroll the Kanazawa harbor and find a ship blazed with a hammer and sickle carrying tree trunks from some taiga forest. Is this our enemy? The evil warned about since childhood, that we crawled under our desks to survive? We meet a sailor grabbing a smoke and converse in broken English and find he is not so evil just a working stiff hoping for a bit of shore leave to buy his son a stereo and smuggle it back home.
  • 38. The Path Path to Publication Group 39 Summer of Love The department store signs declares it is the summer of love in 2009 and the displays are full of peace signs, jewelry, granny beads, peasant blouses, headbands, and scarves. How far from the summer of ‘67 and the Haight with Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, the Dead and Quicksilver. The Diggers providing food, clothes and spirit. A few months when, in our innocence we thought love and goodwill would change everything. At home I filled my mother’s old pans with dye and soaked the folded and rubber-banded tee shirt into colors creating tie-dye patterns of infinite design and tried to decipher my own young world.
  • 39. The Path Path to Publication Group 40 Shepherd Dawn. The sparse crowns of the olive trees come alive with color. At the end of summer the brown fields are barren and full of dust. A shepherd sits on the hillside tending two dozen sheep. He has never traveled farther than his legs or a mule can carry him. Not much happens here but he knows the land and his flock better than himself. For hours he sits in silence, what thoughts fill his head? Shepherd and sheep
  • 40. The Path Path to Publication Group 41 Rachelle Parker WAKING AND KNOWING Purple, orange, yellow Swirl around me My gone cat Running fallow fields Fast, faster, fastest Chased by rainbows In a redwell I carry a baby My coworker’s boy Over the darkness Into astral flight Floating life to life Wearing natty wigs Throwrugs of clouds Under their feet Both my grandmothers Sit and watch Holding up nines I’m waved in Landing on sheets Back from somewhere My heart knows Of the pitfalls And rich soils 
  • 41. The Path Path to Publication Group 42 Changming Yuan Convergence His presence is falling upon me More forcefully than a summer shower Down pouring right from heaven. Everywhere My mind wanders around will hung A rainbow high above my absence It is this wet metaphor that has balanced All the yang elements in my heart with the yin Ones outside my bloated selfhood YingYang
  • 42. The Path Path to Publication Group 43 Jamey Temple Yellow-Broken Road My Korean daughter is a professor of photo albums studies their story-less, weathered slides gives lectures on history, mostly hers. She writes backstory with shrinking crayons paints scenes with nubby fingers taps punctuation with her red-slippered foot. Her fairy wand points to maps, oceanless and focused, builds gilded castles with well-stocked libraries alphabetized by searchable answers. We present Tin-man smiles to a four-year-old’s flighted fantasy, our idealism dulled by her brief birth history translated by the social worker who named her. Our notes read There is no place like home where she presses rainbow stickers. 
  • 43. The Path Path to Publication Group 44 Catherine Becker Reynolds The following poem appears in the manuscript of my novel Last First Days, which is the story of a young serf, Mitya Kiriakin, in Old Russia. Yuri Denisovich Veresov, an atheist and anarchist, is the fictional poet. He was Mitya’s maternal great grandfather, who died an obscure death in circumstances unknown to his family. Chapter 42 of Last First Days, entitled “A Married Man”, was published in The Path, Volume 2, Number 2, Winter 2012. ---Catherine Becker Reynolds If I Believed If I believed, I would have no need of churches, These cold stone museums you have built To keep Him in. If I believed, I would find Him in the fields, Where he was born some lost day long ago, When the first man beheld the first flower. If I believed, Life would hold no fear. I would be step outside, Into the Church Without Walls, the Cathedral Without Windows, Into the Museum of God, And know that He held me like a wild rose against His face. Then joyful my death, To know I slept in His fragrance. If I believed.
  • 44. The Path Path to Publication Group 45 --Yuri Denisovich Veresov b. Tuesday, May 26, 1702, Chernika Selo, Russia m. Devorah bas Yehosue Melnik, Sunday, August 28, 1720 d. (?) 1727 Old Russian100 Ruble Bank note
  • 45. The Path Path to Publication Group 46 Poetic Essay "The task of a writer consists in being able to make something out of an idea." ---Thomas Mann
  • 46. Letter to a Sweet-Smelling Woman Path to Publication Group 47 Tom Sheehan Letter to a Sweet-Smelling Woman Waiting Words Ah sweet marrow ganglia matter of mind what inviolable pleasure brings me to my computer this time of night in the moonspill mooncream what draws me this way and that from my outer to my inner am I all questions in this mushrooming quiet and dark of night this sound of dead foxes hanging thinly with leaves the den not returned to mother hunted while hunting and dogged down this deep of night this dread of sleeping while my mind can still move its way over the wave of things can extrapolate conjure figment articulate touch smell know once again the musk I could die for right now this instant this eternity for my nares have the memory of fingers and the dry pulp beneath my nails is your residue of love I cannot manicure away ashes of our fire. I see suck words on lips I see the drip of syllables phonetics of some word rock buried in you as deeply as mine sunless and miles deep past the six hundred miles an hour that our impulses travel from mind to extremities of selves to fingers of satisfaction to fingers knowledge to lips say to eyes move to pits of breast set into teeth like caraway seeds (oh I love the working memory as my tongue worries a pit like a cavity beginning –I form words for you at the touch) what tangible ghost of nights past is near me touching like grass or a spider web not quite there who the spirit travels its hands and lips and words against my ears my self my all as if Chapman’s Homer has its speech and touches to me I I am alone atop Darien this abominable night though I have shares and am shared oh shared by madness oh stung by stars and simple grass
  • 47. The Path Path to Publication Group 48 Oh, listen believe me daughter of words holder of the precious word rock I am moonmaster starriser suncatcher burster of cometing yea a farmer plugging word songs but a listener of your night watches walker of your dreams the evil- doer doing done that far thin voice of a star moving on you oh dream death at morning light ah it is lonely the fox is dead I hear the dogs cry above the clash of leaves the horn empties its wail on wind the den not returned to the young wait cold and hungry the burrow walls close in in cool pneumatics the ferret comes slowly at first teasing his mouth waters saliva runs oozing like sperm his back arches he tingles Oh love I’d love to come to your mouth to have your lips holding me is volcanic thought, furnacing the blade of your tongue is ever merciless; why are you so unkind to me why cut memory’s cut do my veins intrigue you my capillaries crawl like others crawl except when you lose your tongue, you are mad! mad! But I bid you I bid you come to me once—all mouth, all imagination, all energy. I would know no other night nor own one. I am doomed; pusher of thought, darer of deeds, worder of words, I am doomed who such lip when such thigh take the angle of my eye, lest I lose that nearing breast—bring your mouth where you’ve caressed, use your tongue as gallant blade my private parts to invade I, moon master, master of words, roper of stars, brander of herds of Pegasus flock, beg your tongue; talk let it be known beneath your bone. I love your curves and wanting nerves sleep comes, now sifting through me, pushing its delights into the barest ends of me—the torture of a sugar remembered, thighs intersect triangle of nerves coming away slowly, as a rusty sled downhill, excruciatingly lovely from the pitch of parting Once I shot at a doe and oh! I missed! I missed! 
  • 48. Young Writer’s Corner
  • 49. The Path Path to Publication Group 50 Madison Feyrer-Melk Blood Hound Short Story The howl of a dog has always scared me. The way it echoes through the most silent of nights, low and clear, ringing. The sound always makes my heart beat faster, thumping loudly in my chest until I am sure everyone around me can hear it. A steady thump it makes, in perfect rhythm with the dog’s howl. Thump, howl, thump thump, howl, thump thump, howl, thump. When I was nine, my father was murdered. No one knew why. Our quiet neighborhood was turned upside down with the murder of a simple man all for the money in his wallet. A few coins, a few dollars, is that really what his life was worth? I still remember waking to my mother’s screams, running down the hall to see what was wrong, and finding my father’s body lying on the kitchen floor next to my screaming mother. Tears were pouring down her cheeks, mixing with the blood. There was a big gash down his chest, the blood splattered on the white floor tiles, sticky and wet on my bare feet. I did not fully comprehend what was going on and while tears streamed from inside me, I continued to call for my father for days after the murder. I heard a dog howl in the background, loud and eerie as I gazed down on his mangled body. Mixed with slamming doors as the neighbors ran to see what was wrong. Howl. Not too long after the murder, my mother and I began going to therapy sessions two towns away with a nice man named Dr. Hanson. Every Thursday, we could be found in that stuffy office building. I would wait quietly as Mom met with him after I did, wondering why she always came out with her
  • 50. Blood Hound Path to Publication Group 51 eyes red and puffy from tears. I asked Dr. Hanson about her and he just told me that she was sad and that she missed my father. “She is getting much better sweetheart, don’t worry.” Better and better, actually. I believe she came to treasure our Thursday therapy and encouraged me to arrive with her early. She kept insisting that it was the one time she could escape the wicked world she lived in and visit a new, different one. “Perfect.” She smiled before entering Dr. Hanson’s room. She started coming out smiling instead of crying. While I knew she was finally escaping her sadness and I was happy for her, I hated it there. Yet nothing changed for me. I did not find therapy the same helping savior Mom did. I found it to be a drag, something boring and something to dread. It was not that I was afraid. No, it was because I was never the type to sit down and spill out my feelings to anyone, not even my own mother. I turned everything inward and whenever something did come out, it was in the force of anger and cracked like lightening against black storm clouds in monsoon season. Dr. Hanson said with a smile, “You’re a hard egg to crack, Olivia.” But I just answered, “There is nothing to crack.” Dr. Hanson encouraged talking between my mother and I, and it would be lying to say that she didn’t try. I guess it must have been hard to speak of something that still haunts your own nightmares, especially when that someone you’re talking to is a nine-year-old girl. Yet, a year passed and Mom and I still never had a proper conversation about what happened. I was fine with this. I was content to play house with my friends at school, to dream of my ambition to be a famous singer, and to draw pictures that Mom always hung on the walls. Tyler came into my life when I was thirteen years old. Maybe it was through a family friend of a friend of Dr. Hanson. Or maybe they were related? It was something that I never really looked in to, for I had Tyler and that was all that mattered. I just didn’t care. All I know is that Dr. Hanson and Tyler were somehow related by a daring evil called friendship. However it happened, we met at my mother’s birthday party and I realized that my life was not all bad. It was a fantasy come to life, my dream come true in a way. Tyler was a true Prince Charming;
  • 51. The Path Path to Publication Group 52 athletic, smart, and handsome, with a smile that completely melted my heart. Yet, it was not this fabulous complexion that attracted me to Tyler. I had never been the type of person to obsess over the opposite sex or to even be the type of person with a lot of friends of the same sex. I mostly kept to myself, save a few noticeably different people. I was attracted to things out-of-the- ordinary. Tyler met this somewhat “dream” of mine with his abnormal—although, I convinced myself, wonderful— personality. It stated, loud and clear, I am Tyler Bennet and I will be your friend, your protector and your passage to change. Now, Tyler was not as cheesy as my first thoughts when we met, but I became accustomed to relating Tyler with friendship. Tyler with relationships. Tyler with love. Tyler with perfection. Tyler with happiness. Tyler with me. It was the way my brain became hotwired to work. When we began dating in my freshmen year of high school, when I was fourteen, my thoughts were only reinforced. I became a more social person, although I never felt comfortable with big crowds. Tyler introduced me to the world of God and how mighty He is. Tyler was always intrigued by the whole idea of the greatness of God and had his heart set on becoming a pastor, like his father. I attended church with Tyler and, while he attempted to show me how wonderful life could be on earth and in heaven, with the help of God, I found myself more fascinated with the whole heaven verses hell idea. How terrifyingly beautiful is the concept of a place of perfect and a place of pain? How hard to grasp, yet what an easy concept. The good are rewarded and the bad are punished. It was as simple as that. Tyler was able to explain what he expected his heaven to be in such stunning detail, that I became overcome with wonder about the other end of the stick. What was that place like? The unknown was something I wanted to know. Sometimes, on Sundays, I would wake up early, my feet pink from the lasting cold in my house, and join Tyler and his family for church. I would put on a nice outfit that old people would approve of; in other words, I would ditch my normal ripped jeans and T-shirts for something like a skirt and dress shirt. It was never much, but Tyler always told me I looked good
  • 52. Blood Hound Path to Publication Group 53 when I cleaned up. He never meant to hurt my feelings, but sometimes I did wonder if he liked me the way I was. I wondered if he wanted me to change. The week before my birthday, I did this routine and then hurried out to the car, where I slid in the passenger seat beside Tyler. He immediately asked me if I had slept well. I told him of course. “I know you like it, but I’ve always found that house of yours kind of…I don’t know…creepy?” I shrugged and took his warm hand in my cold one. “Yeah, but its home. I like it.” “And you’re always so cold.” He said over me, pressing my fingers to his lips and kissing them as his eyes stayed glued on the road. I smiled. “I just need a little warming up.” I flirted, twisting my fingers with his. It felt so familiar to hold his hand in mine, but it was not like in the movies, nothing like my friends. Our hands were not like puzzle pieces that most of my friends claimed to have felt with their boyfriends. It was something that had never really bothered me, unless I thought of it. In that case, I never thought about it. I didn’t think about a lot of things during my relationship with Tyler. I guess that was how I managed to deal with having someone so perfect when I knew I was not at all. It was a wonder Tyler and I were still together; my friend told me every day and my mom often questioned if I was happy. Of course I was; how could I ever be happier? “If you were with someone more like you?” Mom once said. That, of course, brought out a burst in me and I yelled and she yelled and we both ended up crying and hugging but I never touched the subject again. Tyler smiled and we pulled into the church parking lot. I had never seen the point of going to church every Sunday, but I knew that it was supposed to make one a better person and Tyler always did, so I never questioned it. I walked with Tyler to where his family was already standing and we all walked in together. His dad’s friend, another preacher, met us at the door. He shook my hand and I smiled. Tyler did not hold my hand, but folded them behind his back and put on a genuine smile, so unlike my own. Throughout the mass, I allowed my mind to wander like every other time I went to church with my boyfriend. I loved to
  • 53. The Path Path to Publication Group 54 go, honestly, I did. I just enjoyed it for different reasons. I liked how Tyler felt comfortable with me around his family and how he smiled widely when people talked to us and I knew he loved to explain things about his religion to me, even when I didn’t ask. Tyler had always been the one to answer questions for me before I asked them, trying to be helpful and anticipate my fears, but in the end just bothering me. Of course I never said anything because I knew he was just trying to help me. That’s all Tyler ever did was try to help me, but I never really felt helped. I just felt like he was starting to control my life and I was helpless except to hang on and be pulled along with him. That is not how it was in the beginning. In the beginning, Tyler and I perfectly balanced each other in a way I had never seen nor heard. It was wonderful; he was my savior in so many ways. I could spend weeks without seeing him and then when our eyes met, everything would still be perfect. We were the perfect yin and yang. And yet as time went on, I began to feel myself being pressed on all sides from the boy I had been with for years. “—hell.” The words of the preacher stopped my thoughts and my mind was quickly cleared and left empty, ready for focus. I did not command it to do so, but it did anyway and I found myself tied to the word he spoke. Hell. The concept I so often questioned in the dead of night in my dead, haunting house. And suddenly, I surprised myself in actually listening to what the preacher was saying. “The devil has always been fighting to gain the upper hand on this world. He temped our Lord Jesus in the desert, trying to convince Him that down is the right way to go. Every day, each one of us is faced with choices, with temptations that can pluck us from our path toward heaven and push us toward hell. The devil will try to convince us in any way he can, to move away from our Lord. Sometimes, these temptations win. Evil wins and we give in. Do something bad. Do something evil. Commit a sin. Once this happens, many believe their path to our God is over. They deicide it is too late to turn back and instead, they cower in fear. Fear of what will happen when their time
  • 54. Blood Hound Path to Publication Group 55 comes. Fear of our Lord, perhaps. But there is nothing to fear. It does not have to be this way. “Our Lord God is almighty and forgiving, no matter the circumstances. He will always be there for each and every one of us, ready to guide us back to his path. God wants us to be good. God loves us all so very much that He sent His own son to redeem our sins. You cannot find a greater love. The point I am trying to make is that no matter how hard the devil tempts us, no matter if we commit a sin or just find ourselves questioning our faith, God is there for you. He is there and ready to forgive anyone who really wants to be forgiven. He is merciful and mighty…and He is forgiving. Remember, He will forgive you. If you ask for it.” That was the end but my mind was still cranking and when I joined Tyler in the drive to breakfast, I decided to actually ask him a question. “Tyler?” “Yeah, babe?” “I was just wondering about what the man said in church. About the devil and…and about hell.” “Do you mean how people can be set on that path and then ask God for forgiveness and just turn right around?” I opened my mouth to tell Tyler, no that’s not what I meant, but he just continued talking. “It’s more than that, Olivia. Its more like, hummm. Well, its more like if you want to be forgiven, God will forgive you, no matter what. It doesn’t matter what sin you commit, if you want forgiveness, He’ll give it to you. Does that make sense?” “Yeah, but that’s not what I’m asking.” I said. “Well, what are you asking then?” “I'm asking…well, I’m not really sure. I guess, I don’t know. I guess I’m just kind of wondering what hell is like.” “What hell is like?” Tyler’s eyes flickered from the road, to me, and back again. “You want to know what hell is like?” “Not exactly…well, maybe. I just feel like everyone always talks about heaven and I know you do. You’ve given me the image and everything about your heaven, but I want to know about hell. Is it like the Greek Underworld with fire and eternal pain and…what’s that one story? The one with the bird pecking out somebody’s liver every day—” “Prometheus?”
  • 55. The Path Path to Publication Group 56 “Yeah him. Thanks.” I smiled, folding my hands across my lap. “Is that what hell is like?” “Well.” Tyler cleared his throat and shrugged. I watched his handsome face as he thought of how to respond and I couldn’t help but notice how uncomfortable he seemed. “No one really knows what hell is like, Olivia. People don’t want to know. Its not something most people talk about. Not something most people like to discuss.” “Okay, so what do you think hell is like?” Tyler pulled into the restaurant parking lot and parked the car, killing the engine and the background noise. He looked at me. “Personally, I believe it is kind of like that. Like the Greek myths, I mean. It is horrible and bare; a wasteland. Maybe there is fire or rocks and stuff but I think that everyone down there doesn’t even notice. I think all they feel is pain. They are put in eternal pain. And I believe that everyone down there deserves it.” I was silent not because I didn’t understand or didn’t have anything else to say, but because I didn’t really have anything else to say to that, specifically. I still wondered about the whole concept of hell. I wanted to know. I wanted to know the unknown. Just what Tyler said didn’t really explain it all. And I wanted to know. Tyler started to get out of the car, but I quickly said, “What if someone doesn’t mean to be bad? Then do they go to hell?” He shut the door. “Meaning…” “Someone does something bad and ends up in hell when they didn’t mean to be bad in the first place.” “They ask forgiveness if they made a mistake and God forgives them. They don’t go to hell.” “But, just say they do.” I continued, pressing on. “I mean, say…something inside of them that was out of their control makes them do something entirely evil but they didn’t want to.” “Olivia,” Tyler chuckled. “That doesn’t make any sense.” “Yeah, it does. What if some other part of the person made them commit the sin and so they have no idea its wrong
  • 56. Blood Hound Path to Publication Group 57 because that other part is making them think its right and…” I trailed off when Tyler started laughing. He kissed my forehead. “First of all, you are confusing me bad right now. Second of all, people can’t have two parts. They have one part; them.” “I’m just saying—” I was cut off when Tyler pressed his lips against mine. I closed my eyes and kissed back, while inside I felt like I had not had my question answered, at all. Normally, I loved it when he would cut off my words with a kiss. I thought it was utterly romantic. But right then, I just wanted him to take me seriously. And what if someone did have two parts? No one is saying that they can’t…so they can, right? Tyler smelled of his familiar mixture of clean shirts and colognes and I breathed in heavily. I touched his hair, but I noticed that something was missing. It was like the normal spark that ignited when we touched, was gone. When we broke away and walked inside the restaurant, I bit my bottom lip, trying to taste what I normally tasted, but my tongue enjoyed nothing. Nothing. The flavor was somehow gone. I live at the very end of Third Street, in the huge old house with the big driveway and ancient looking iron gates, vines growing up the sides of them. The house normally scares off people who come to call, but for me, it is home. I love the feeling of walking down the creaking hallways to my attic bedroom, the feeling when I look at the old playing cards I had stuck in the cracked mirror on the wall of the kitchen, the feeling of the warm sheets after mother has finished washing them as they quickly cool down. The house belonged to my grandmother, and her mother before her and her mother before her. In other words, it was a very old house. Very, very old, passed down through the generations. That is how it ended up with my mother. That is how it will eventually end up with me. Just the thought of this house potentially being mine is something that has always excited me. I wanted to own something so run-down, so creepy. It was a growing pleasure when my mother told me of how she would leave it to me. We moved into it soon after my father died and my grandma moved into a nursing home. My mother said the move
  • 57. The Path Path to Publication Group 58 was actually a way to change our life and to start fresh. “To give you more opportunities, Olivia,” she smiled when we pulled into the large, circle driveway with the moving trucks behind us. I guess her dream for greater opportunities for me did succeed, for I met Tyler and I became a person of the big crowd of people of which everyone wished to be a part, yet I was never the one who spoke up in front of a group or even spoke my mind aloud. I watched and wondered, mostly. But Mom did not notice and I could tell she felt accomplished when I announced my month anniversary with Tyler. Now, although she did often wonder if I was happy, I knew that Mom still was super excited when our one-year rolled around and then the next and the next. The next was approaching. I knew, however, the real reason for our move. Even then, I knew it was because she missed Dad too much. Because she could not stand to live where the murder happened. She was scared and wanted to be closer to something familiar to her. It did bring her away from her past horrors and to a new, fake world of happiness that I could plainly see she enjoyed. She loved living in our house. It is always cold in my house, even if the sun is blazing down outside. The cold, somehow, warms me. I go home when I am cold. I go to the cold to escape the cold. That is just how the blood pumps through me; cold. The house sent pleasant chills down my spine whenever I stepped inside. So lovely. Beautiful. Silent. Cold. When I turned eighteen, my Mom surprised me with a huge party. When I was sixteen I had a the “sweet sixteen” party, so I had never expected such a grand occasion just two years later. I had been planning a small night-out with my girlfriends but it ended up being a huge party with practically the whole school there. Like the wonderful boyfriend he was, Tyler arrived perfectly on time with a large bundle of plump, red roses in hand. He was so perfect, looking the equivalent of a god in a sleek tuxedo. The days when I treasured him just for his looks was long gone and I found it a shock to see him as such a handsome man again, as if I was seeing him for the first time. Out of surprise, I was unprepared for the crazy growl of partying that followed my arrival at the restaurant, and while my
  • 58. Blood Hound Path to Publication Group 59 friends guided me through the amazing thing my mother had set up for me, it was Tyler who kept me on my feet. I had never been someone who fit in well with big crowds and, normally, I stayed away from it all. The only times I was ever with huge masses of people was when I was with my boyfriend. He always did a marvelous job of keeping me popular and talking and, most of all, interesting. My eighteenth party was no different for how Tyler acted…but it was different through my eyes. The music was all from my own iPod, per my friend’s request, but it all still seemed foreign. I knew it was all for me and my mom and my friends had probably put a lot of effort into it, but the second I stepped inside the restaurant and everyone jumped out and yelled “Surprise.”, I got an uneasy feeling. Of course, Tyler was there for me. Tyler did a fantastic job of keeping me at ease in the big crowds and involved in the conversations. Whenever I found myself trying to slip away to a more deserted part of the now packed restaurant, I found Tyler’s hand slid around mine and pull me back. He really did do a masterful job. But I found myself annoyed by it. I hated how he was so persistent, having me stay in the crowd always pulling me back when I wanted to get away. The music was starting to give me a headache and all I wanted to do was take a five-minute break. Tyler grabbed my wrist and for the first time, I pulled it away and walked out to the hallway. I thought he might follow me and even prepared a short speech in my head of what I was going to say to him, but he never came. I returned to find him still smiling and laughing, as if I had never left. “You alright, Olivia?” He whispered in my ear, sliding his arm around my waist. “Yeah, fine.” “You just needed a break?” I breathed out and thought of my words carefully. “Something like that.” I smiled, finally. It was at the end of the party when I was shocked into the reality of the building blocks of my boyfriend and forced to now recognize how much we differed. When the clock ticked to midnight, Tyler now pulled me aside from the hustle and bustle of the inner crowd. With politeness and courtesy only he knew how to do, Tyler told me: “This has been an awesome party,
  • 59. The Path Path to Publication Group 60 Olivia. I have to go now, though, I have a previous commitment I also need to honor.” My heart immediately seized up and I whined, “Why?” I had been doing that a lot lately. Complaining about all of Tyler’s “previous commitments” and how they eat away at my time with him. Senior year was supposed to be a drag but at my little school, they work us like horses on the highest profit ranch in Texas. I treasured every second I had with him; I yearned for it. It was my break from the reality of the world, in a way that I could never explain, even to myself. “There is a children’s activity day tomorrow at my church and I’m volunteering. I need to be there at six.” He said. “Come on Tyler, I wanted to go out afterward. You can sleep tomorrow, please?” I squeezed his hand and tilted my head in a complaining fashion. “I want to go out. Just you and me, please?” Tyler kissed my hand and shook his head. “I’m sorry, honey. I want to be alone too…I just can’t tonight.” I knew it was a losing battle. I sighed and shrugged at him and Tyler kissed my forehead and I twitched. He told me he had a wonderful time. “Me too, thanks for coming, Tyler.” I smiled, the corners twitching, trying to pull it down. “I wouldn’t have miss it for the world, baby.” He cooed before walking out and hopping in his car. I didn’t even watch him leave. Like every other time my dedicated boyfriend had another plan, I let him go. I realized, just like every time before, that he was dedicated in many different ways to many different things. To his family, his friends, his girlfriend, his church, his God. But for some reason, this time, it felt very different when I saw him driving off. The happiest day of my life suddenly had a heavy weight anchored to it and we were nearing open sea. I was realizing how I ranked with Tyler’s feelings and, maybe, starting to actually listen to my own. I felt like I had let go of him completely. I had let go of him forever. The weekend of my birthday was toward the end of my senior year. I began using this, plus the fact that I was now an official grown-up and had the ability to vote in the next election, to my advantage. I stayed up and out until morning and
  • 60. Blood Hound Path to Publication Group 61 wandered aimlessly through town on the darkest of nights, hoping to pick up some gossip or see some ghosts, maybe. I hung out with friends, but I mostly hung out alone. What I wished to accomplish through these walks remains a mystery to me. Maybe it was just a burning pleasure to be alone in the dark. Or maybe I was looking for something exciting to happen in my life. Or maybe I was silently angry and frustrated with Tyler. It had been so long since I questioned his attitude. In fact, I could not remember a time when I did question it. He had always been the ideal man in my eyes and I had never once questioned his judgment. Maybe that had just gone to his head. I knew it had to mine. I was just done with his constant “other commitments” and I often wondered where I really ranked in his life. I wondered if maybe he was getting bored with me and if I was not all that he had expected me to be. I knew that I sometimes wondered it about him. It was these nightly walks that brought me to discover a part of the town I never had visited before. I had driven through it many times, but never stopped to look around or explore. One of my midnight outings led me to The Dinn, a small pub downtown that let occasional underage drinking slide, but I tended to stick to red punch or maybe a cherry coke. My favorite was the thick smoothies that the bartender would sometimes make for me. They were thick and slid easily down my throat, coating it in the red dye. The Dinn was stuffy and small; it smelled like the old, drunk men it housed; the counter was small and the tables around it smaller. I loved it. I made a tradition out of every Tuesday night. I would leave whatever unfinished studying or homework I was doing and head down to The Dinn for a drink, maybe a beer if I really felt like rebelling. The bar tender or other old men entertained me with stories or card games or books from the dark shelf in the back of the pub. More out of habit than want to share it with him, I told Tyler about the place. I avoided the whole drinking underage thing as well as the location and the name. I was not trying to lie to my boyfriend, just delay his reaction to something I personally enjoyed. I had a feeling that it would be shot down quicker than I could defend myself. I think he thought it was
  • 61. The Path Path to Publication Group 62 going to be a cute little café with pink curtains and white booths and the smell of chocolate in the air because when Tyler saw the place I intended to spend the evening, he became furious. “Please, Olivia.” He took my hand in his own and held it close to him. “Stop trying to be so cool and lets just find somewhere else to hang out.” “You haven’t even been inside yet, Tyler, and I’m not ‘trying to be cool’.” “You’re acting way out of order. You’re…being so unlike yourself.” “How the hell am I being unlike myself?” I yelled, suddenly feeling the need to tear out his hair and slap him across his once perfect face. “You’re being such a little rebel. What happened to the girl I once knew? Stop being—whatever you are and live a little.” “I am living.” I argued, yanking my hand away. It was weird hearing such hurtful words spitting from his mouth and, while some part of me was telling me that he was only trying to help me, another part screamed at me to hit him. “Olivia, whatever happened to make you want to rebel, tell me. I can help—” “I’m not rebelling.” “Listen to me, please, just listen.” Tyler reached out for me but I turned my back to him and crossed my arms over my chest. Tyler breathed out loudly and I assumed that he was hurt by the action but I did not feel bad. I was hurt by his actions. “I love you Olivia, no questions asked. But you seem to be slipping into some unknown black pit. Is it because you are finally eighteen? Because you are finally a legal adult? I’ve been one for quite some time and you don’t see me sneaking off into some rundown pub.” I found myself fuming. Something scratched at my chest and I whirled my head around. “Well aren’t you just perfect, Tyler? Huh? You think that everyone is below you, don’t you? That you are on top of the world. You and your mad football skills and ‘A’ plus brain? I mean come on. The town’s favorite, yeah, but not everyone’s like that, OK? Some of us are just normal people who make normal decisions that don’t always benefit the entire world.”
  • 62. Blood Hound Path to Publication Group 63 “Olivia, I’m not talking about me, okay? I’m talking about you.” Tyler said, stepping towards me. He shook his head. “But let’s be honest, you would be better off if you were more like me.” I laughed, sarcastically. How did he not realize that he just pushed it way too far? I practically growled at him. “Oh. God’s little boy aren’t you? Well, not everyone is as good and perfect as you and your dumb church ways.” No one insults Tyler’s church. I had seen him go off on other people before, but he had never, ever gone off on me before like he did following my nasty comments. He had said hurtful things earlier, but that was out of his overly protective streak. Now, he was yelling full out like boyfriends yell in movies just before the break up that tears the girlfriend’s heart apart. “You don’t understand a damn thing about my church, Olivia. I have tried so hard to teach you, to try and save you and show you how wonderful it is to know that my God is always with me, that He always has my back, but all you’ve ever done is push me away. All you’ve ever done is push God away. Why not just give Him a chance to prove His greatness?” “Who the hell cares if I reject your God, Tyler?” I screamed. “I just don’t believe, okay? I’m sorry, does that help? I don’t need a god to be happy.” “I’m saying you do, I’m just trying to help you, Olivia.” “No you’re not, you’re just trying to make yourself feel better. You’re worried about what I’ll become without your God.” “Yes I am.” “Well, I don’t give a damn about what you think. I can go to hell for all I care.” Of course, I had no idea what I was saying. I did not really know how the whole heaven-hell thing worked and that was because I never got the chance to figure it out, but I knew that it would hit Tyler hard and hurt him. Just what I wanted. “Who are you?” Tyler yelled. “Who are you, Olivia? Where is the girl I met so many years ago? How long have I known you? Five years, isn’t it? And you’ve been the love of my life for almost four. Where is the girl who cares about my beliefs and cherishes them as I cherish her? What happened? I don’t
  • 63. The Path Path to Publication Group 64 know how you ever ended up here or why in the world you made the choice to come back, but you better get your head screwed on straight before this all comes and bites you in the butt. You are an amazing girl, Olivia, I know that, but do you? I need you to stop being so insensitive to my feelings.” Tyler angrily spat. “Stop being insensitive to your feelings? You idiot, do you know how many times you’ve insulted me? You’re the best boyfriend I’ve ever known; even compared to everyone I have ever known. You’re the only boyfriend I’ve ever known. OK? But you are not perfect. Stop trying to run my life, it’s mine for a reason.” “Well if your running it then you might as well know that you’re about to crash real soon.” He spat before turning back to his car and starting the engine. He stuck his head out the window. “Get in.” I blinked. A weird feeling came over me and I realized that my heart was not torn like in the movies. Instead, I felt more alive than I had in a long time. I turned. I walked towards The Dinn. Over my shoulder, I called, “Go home, Tyler. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I don’t think I ever attended church with him after that. The Dinn was more crowded than normal, something I found quite annoying and I pushed my way to the bar. I ordered beer and the bar tender did not object, but quickly served my drink. I took the cold glass in my hot hands and walked to the back wall of the place, where there were less people and I felt more comfortable. After draining the glass, I debated getting another but instead found myself attracted to the bookshelf next to the table at which I sat. I was not exactly sure what it was that drew me to stand in front of it, but I found myself staring at the title of a thick, black leather book. There was no name on the side, so I slipped it out and blew off a layer of dust. The title was typed crooked and hard to read. I had to turn to get better light so that my eyes could decipher the words; The Book of Blood, by Augusto Reid. I pulled out the chair at the nearest table and sat down, crossing my legs and propping the book up on them. I only had to flip through a couple of pages to know that this book was something I should not be holding. Augusto Reid’s introduction to his collection only confirmed my suspicion:
  • 64. Blood Hound Path to Publication Group 65 Reader, This is a collection of stories of upmost horror that I have had the honor of collecting over the years. They are not meant for the weak, the young, or the queasy. They are not meant for the good. They are meant for the ones who crave to disappear from the world they know and visit a place where evil triumphs. Evil triumphs in these stories, good is always the losing victim. This collection is not for the lighthearted. Not for entertainment. Not for people who enjoy life. It is for escape. And through my hunt for these stories, I have found it is often inspiring. Please enjoy leaving this world as I have done, and I hope when you return, you find your life forever changed. -Augusto Reid I shivered and looked around me, wondering why I suddenly felt like I was the only one in The Dinn. A strange feeling overtook my body, possible curiosity, probably not. Although the therapy had ended years ago, Mom always talked of how she could escape this world through calm breathing and a good book and some quiet music, something she learned in therapy. Mom told me this, I think, because she wanted me to also find a way to escape the world when it hurt me. I looked back at The Book of Blood. I knew Tyler would be absolutely disgusted by my even considering opening this book and reading of such evil people and I believe it may have been for that reason that I continued on. The Dinn became a way for me to keep my relationship with Tyler on edge and I will never be sure if this was done by accident, or on purpose. In his absence, I met a man by the name of Eugene Smith. We first met when I had been reading The Book of Blood, a few days after Tyler and I fought. I was leaning against the wall when he pulled up a chair next to me, curious as to what I was reading. I quickly tilted the title away and did not respond. “I know that book.” He said, tilting it back down. I let him and while he flipped through a few pages, I studied him. He resembled a man in the book, with the same dark mussed hair and chocolate brown eyes that held an almost wild look to them.
  • 65. The Path Path to Publication Group 66 I was honestly stunned and called out the resemblance in an accidentally rude way. Eugene laughed, messing up his hair slightly more. Then he smiled and introduced himself with a strong handshake that sent crazy vibes through me. “Would you like a drink?” He asked, standing. There was no hesitation in my positive answer. Every Tuesday, Eugene and I would meet to play cards, to talk, to relax, to get away from the world. He told me dark stories he had been told as a child, stories of a mad man who chopped off pieces of a captured woman to feed to his children, stories of a knife-obsessed man who stabbed and killed his wife before slicing her up, stories of a group of men and women alike who would meet up to grave-rob and collect the pieces, and gangs of people who killed in the most horrid ways possible. Maybe this alone should have scared me away, but it never did. Something inside me pushed away the nausea that first appeared and turning it into a feeling of intense curiosity—a curiosity that led me to fall in love with the dark, gruesome tales. Tyler was mortified when I told him the tales Eugene told me, although I never mentioned the storyteller’s name. It was as if I could not force myself to say “Eugene” to another human being, no matter how hard I tried. As a Christian man through and through, Tyler despised it all. He tried to stop me from returning to The Dinn the day after I told him the first story. “It is not healthy for you, Olivia, stop going there. I’ve told you before.” “Back off Tyler, I’m not doing anything illegal.” I would insist, pushing him away the next time he tried to kiss me. I never told him of the drinks Eugene and I often shared. I knew that Tyler drank every now and then at the big parties thrown by the most popular of his friends, but it was always in a “controlled setting.” Yeah, raving parties, real controlled buddy. “I don’t sneak out at night and go to smelly pubs and drink.” He snapped. His reactions just led to me pretend I never drank. And I never did hard core. Either the bar tender or Eugene would always tell me when enough was enough. Eugene always looked out for me. Slowly, Tyler and I became more distant and I began regretting the times I had with him and treasuring the times I had
  • 66. Blood Hound Path to Publication Group 67 with Eugene Smith. It was as if Eugene was replacing Tyler and the feeling was foreign and half welcomed, half not. It wasn’t that I didn’t still like Tyler, because I did. It was my birthday disappointment and his reaction to my so-called rebellious change that led me to see him as not right for me. He was too dedicated to too many things that often clashed with me. Yet, I guess that was the boy I had fallen in love with so long ago. So what had happened? I argued with myself sometimes, late at night, looking at the stars. I argued how Eugene was not perfect and how Tyler was perfect. But did Tyler have stories of bloodthirsty women who would lure men into their homes only to cut them open and roast their hearts? No. Did Tyler know the darkest and most thrilling of all tales? No, but Eugene did. One would think, with the past experience of my father’s murder and my intense fear of dog howls, that I would hate anything to do with the dark side of things. Yet, I loved it. Why do you think I loved the creepy house I lived in? Why do you think I liked the feeling of heavy darkness, when it cloaked me and tried to suffocate me? It was as if a deep monster inside me was clawing, trying to get out, begging me to read more, to listen more, to see Eugene more. Eugene was the master of darkness. He said when he was little, he had become fascinated with the concept of life and death and that had led him to the opening of such gruesome tales. Sometimes, I would lie late at night in my bed and wonder how he managed to come up with these stories. Sometimes, I wondered if it was because he was one of them. I finally broke up with Tyler. It was not pretty and involved a lot of yelling on my part and a lot of yelling Tyler’s part. And Tyler never yelled…well, never much. But we both agreed it was best. Tyler was dating another girl within a week. I thought maybe he had begun liking her long ago; I remembered the way he introduced me to her at somebody’s birthday party. She was practically everything I was not, pretty much who I was when Tyler and I first met. It was me, unchanged. I took it as a compliment he’d found those type of people—my type of people—so attractive. My friends asked and I knew almost everything and thought that I would care, but I didn’t. “It was almost four years.” They complained. I shrugged. Why not? They asked. Because, I was dating Eugene within a day.
  • 67. The Path Path to Publication Group 68 I told no one about my secret boyfriend but often met up with him after school. He never drove me in his car, something that once would have bothered me, but now I like how I could be in control. We would drive out of town and down country roads, speeding high over criminal speed and never getting caught. Those were my favorite dates, when I could just get away from the world and roll all the windows down and drive not on gas, but on adrenaline. One night, I snuck back home under the cover of darkness, hours past the already ridiculous curfew my mother set after one of these crazy drives. The best part about my dates with Eugene was that I never had to give him a ride home. I had no idea where he lived, but he always told me that he would walk home. I would park the car, get out and lock it, and kiss him goodnight and when I would turn back at my door, he would already be gone. It was mysterious and wonderful. Up in my room, I leaned against the door, breathing hard, thump thump, and looked across at the window. It had been a crazy night. I still remembered Eugene’s cries of joy when my car speedometer hit one-twenty and a police siren blared behind us. Sheer luck allowed me—I mean us—to escape. I gazed out the window. Beside it was a tiny cracked mirror, a mini replica of the one downstairs. I had even placed identical yellowing playing cards in it. In the mirror, I could see my reflection. My face was dotted with sweat. My eyes were bloodshot. My hair slick and matted. My make-up smeared. I looked like an animal. I looked like a monster. I decided one night that I wanted to start telling Eugene stories. I had read the rotting Book of Blood too many times to count, and could recall the tales in vivid detail, picturing the murders as they happened. Sometimes, I felt like I had lived them too. The one I could picture most clearly, the one I found the most interesting, the one I almost felt an almost emotional attachment to, was the one that reminded me of my boyfriend. It was the story of a handsome man who used mind games and his charm to enchant young women, convincing them to venture out alone with him to deserted areas in whichever town they were. There, he would use a large, freshly sharpened
  • 68. Blood Hound Path to Publication Group 69 kitchen knife to slit their throats and collect the blood in plastic water bottles. Once the bodies were drained, he would bury them and leave them to rot as he drove away with his new drinks. I came up with my own stories, children of the ones in The Book of Blood. A man who used mind games to convince people to commit suicide to get fresh meat and keep his own hands clean. A woman who lived in the vents of an old hotel and whenever someone spent the night in room one hundred twenty- four, they would end up dead. I was great at horror, Eugene told me. I was great at it and I loved it. So charming in such a horrible way. But it spurred something else inside me. The monster began scratching at its chains once again. To describe what was in the book would be like asking a mother to describe what she loves about her daughter or a father to describe what he loves about his son. It had too many qualities, too many amazing qualities to count. It was filled with blood and gore and people being broken or cut up. Full color images of the mutated body. People killing one another for the lust of blood, people torturing one another, people eating one another. I, the monster, loved it all. It was gruesome, but I suddenly did not shrink away at the thing, but instead dived closer. Eugene would run his fingers through my hair as I spoke, smiling and kissing my neck. He was the only one to whom I told these stories, of course, for everyone else I knew would call me crazy. Call me mad. I felt I had finally figured out who I truly was. I wasn’t perfect like Tyler. I wasn’t the perfect student my mom had wanted. I wasn’t the admiring girlfriend Eugene thought I was. I wasn’t even real. “I” was gone. Something had eaten her and I knew that she was never coming back. The things I learned were beyond anything else, especially the lovely horrors that I now treasured. The monster inside of me growled lowly when we were together, like a giant hound with blood dripping down its huge fangs. It was a sense of discovery of the unknown, the exact discovery I craved. It was outside a quiet restaurant in the busiest part of town where the monster first actually used her grip on the wheel to gain control. Eugene and I had been sitting outside at the little
  • 69. The Path Path to Publication Group 70 round table with the plaid tablecloth for some time, sharing a pizza, when a voice I had known so long ago spoke. “Olivia?” I turned in my chair to see Tyler standing outside the fence, holding the hand of the pretty girl I knew he had liked for a while. He looked better than he had when I had last seen him at school, more relaxed and he practically gleamed. She held his hand like it was the link to the world. I guess I looked that pathetic when I first began dating him as well. I felt an itch inside me when I lay eyes on him. The monster roared and snarled at me, tugging at her chains and snapping at her cuffs. She longed to be set free. She longed to roam the countryside and feast on her share of life, instead of being locked up. “Hi, Tyler,” I said without blinking. My eyes narrowed and I felt my fingers twitch towards the simple dining knife sitting on the napkin next to my plate. “You’ve met Alicia?” He said, nodding at his girlfriend. I smiled as best as I could with the monster pulling at me from the inside. “Hi.” Tyler shifted his weight and looked slightly confused. “What are you doing here?” “Eating an entire pizza by yourself, are you?” Alicia said at the same time with a sly smile. I knew that she knew of Tyler and my long relationship and maybe that was the reason she was so cold to me. It didn’t matter—not when I had been the one who initiated the break up. “No, you idiot,” I snapped, looking back at my boyfriend. Eugene was leaning back in his chair with his arms hooked behind his back, a smug look on his face. “Calm down Olivia, geez.” Tyler looked at me, shaking his head a little bit. He took Alicia’s hand and there was a fleeting second when I wished I could be holding his hand again. But then the monster yapped and I swallowed the feeling, it was gone. The monster crept down again and bit at her cuffs. “This is Eugene,” I said after a minute or two of silence when the only sound I could hear was the seemingly far off conversations from the other tables and clinking of knives and forks on plates. My boyfriend did not speak but leaned forward in his seat and, folding his hands on the table, sized up my ex- boyfriend like he was a piece of meat.
  • 70. Blood Hound Path to Publication Group 71 I looked at him too and Tyler exchanged a look with Alicia. They said nothing. This caught me by surprise because I knew Tyler was polite. I had been his girlfriend for almost four years and I knew that he always had a smile to show to a new person and always introduced himself nicely with a strong handshake. How was Eugene any different? “What?” I snapped. “Who is Eugene?” Tyler said, before Alicia could open her mouth with, I am sure, a smart and sassy comment. “Who do you think?” “I honestly have no idea.” I could not believe he was being so rude. I turned around in my chair to look at my boyfriend and apologize but I found the seat empty. I blinked, surprised. The chair was perfectly straight and the plate was clean, the napkin rolled up, and no sign whatsoever that Eugene had been sitting there a moment ago. “Uh, the waiter over there.” I spoke quickly without thinking, letting my mind focus on where my boyfriend was. “Oh, okay.” Tyler said. “Thank goodness, for a second there I thought you were going mad or something.” Alicia said sweetly, smiling. She didn’t even give me a change to reply with the sarcastic comment I had in mind before tugging Tyler off down the road. “See ya.” Tyler called, hesitantly, over his shoulder. I watched them for a moment before the deep voice made me jump. “Olivia?” Eugene was leaning forward in his chair, just as he had been when I had last looked at him, hands folded and everything. “Eugene, there you are.” I let out a breath of air. I must have imagined his disappearance and Tyler was probably just acting jealous. Of course. “Shall we go?” I stood and offered him my hand. Eugene threw the money on the table and stood, taking my hand. We walked out to my car, leaving the waiter to clean off the table. He cleared away the pizza stand and the remaining pieces, about half the pizza to be exact. He cleared away one plate full of grease and another perfectly clean one, placing the one crumpled napkin on the stack.
  • 71. The Path Path to Publication Group 72 I was going to drive home, but the monster inside me had different plans. I could feel a tug pulling from within, begging me to stay out. She led me out of town and down a dirt road, behind a cornfield, where she finally parked and killed the headlights. With the main light source gone, moonlight flooded over the hood of the car, igniting it with a beautiful silvery color. I leaned against the headrest and Eugene stirred beside me. “I have a present for you.” He said, reaching under the seat and pulling out a wrapped cardboard box. I recognized that box from the cluster of them in my own garage. Eugene placed the box into my outstretched hands when it touched my skin, memories snapped by quickly, in slides just fast enough for me to see them. I could smell the fizzy drink I had in my hand when I had wrapped the box earlier that day. Eugene smiled at me as I unwrapped his present, beaming at me with his too straight white teeth, little dimples around his cheeks. He was just as every imaginary perfect boyfriend I had ever created. I slit the tape of the package with my long nails. It was inside, just as I knew it would be. A long, newly sharpened butcher knife— one with a smooth wooden handle and a shinning blade that reflected the little light dotting the inside of the car. I fingered the blade, just as I had done in the store when I bought the thing. Eugene took my hand. “Do you like it?” He asked. “It could not be more perfect. So beautiful.” I smiled, looking at the eyes of my boyfriend. As my soul searched deep into his eyes, I watched them flash and he was gone. In another, instant he was back. His hands were cold in mine and empty, almost as if there was nothing there. The monster inside me let out a low howl that grew into a sharp snap. She was crouched in attack position breathing in and out slowly and steadily. Her heart beat faster and faster, thump thump, thump thump. Suddenly she bolted forward, springing from her hind legs and thrusting her clawed paws forward in a swift motion, her razor sharp teeth cutting through the chains around her neck in a jagged line, barking madly. She tore apart the cuffs around her paws and stretched them out, pawed at the ground a little and bolted forward once more. I flung the car door open and jumped violently out, as if
  • 72. Blood Hound Path to Publication Group 73 something burning hot had struck me, and she looked at the moon and howled. “Feed her, Olivia. Damnit, stop hiding from yourself and just feed her, already.” I heard Eugene say from the car. I turned my eyes to him but he was gone. Disappeared like a puff of smoke and melted away into the night. Yes, it was time. I had ignored her for too long. She had been caged too long. It was time to stretch our legs and stretch our claws. I picked up my phone from where it had fallen and dialed the number of the one and only person I knew who could never ignore a distress call, even if it was from his ex. “Hello?” “Tyler?” “Yes?” “It’s, um, Olivia.” “I know, what is it?” “I need help. Please, Tyler, I know we broke up but I need you now.” “Isn't that uh…boyfriend…of yours with you now?” “No, I’m alone out behind the Smith’s cornfield. Please, I really need somebody to help me.” “Alright we’ll be there in ten minutes.” She caught him before he hung up the phone and, in a daunting, do-not-even-think-of-questioning-me sort of way, spoke, “I don’t want her to see me like this. Can you come alone? Please, I really need your help.” Silence answered, voices in the background, but she told me not to worry. He would listen. He could never ignore a distress call, no matter the circumstances. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.” I could see Tyler’s car in closer to fifteen minutes, probably because he had been driving the speed limit and not fifteen over like I had been. He was taking it slow past the cornfield, lights on dim in an effort to hide from the Smiths. It was just a Tyler-ish move and we laughed aloud, my monster and I. Typical Tyler, not able to refuse a chance to help somebody whose life could be ending. I knew he would come so it didn’t matter my life was just beginning.
  • 73. The Path Path to Publication Group 74 I stood, bathed in moonlight. The night was very clear and the open field where I stood was easily visible. The moon was definitely showing signs of waxing again. I could tell by the way its perfect ball shape was cut off to one side, the left side, almost down to half. Eugene was there beside me, but he was not there. He stood tall and supportive and then he was gone. He existed, but he did not exist. Tyler stopped his car a little ways from mine, leaving the lights on when he got out and hurried towards me. “Olivia? Are you okay, what happened?” I let out a breath of air, opening and closing my eyes. She was in control. No, no, she was not in control. I had been so silly to try to distinguish her from me, me from her. We were one and the same; there was no escape from it and no denying it. We were Olivia. We were in control. We were one, the monster and I, both with one hand on the steering wheel, sharing eyes, sharing a voice, sharing a body, sharing the need to kill. Tyler continued, “What is it, that boyfriend, maybe? Did he hurt you?” “No, no he didn’t hurt me. He would never hurt me.” “What is it then?” Tyler asked, trying hard to mask his annoyance with patience, but I had known him for too long for his games to work on me. I had loved him for too long for him to be able to fool me. “I…I just need someone right now.” “Couldn’t he help you then, Olivia? Seriously, I had to cut out on Alicia and she normally doesn’t mind but when it’s to go to another girl, such as my ex, what is she supposed to think?” “Trust you, maybe?” I snapped, thinking of how much I had once trusted him and how now, we, the monster and I, were here alone with him and I was ready to do anything but trust him. “I need help from someone who knows things like you know, Tyler. I don’t know what it is but I’m feeling like such a worthless thing. I have no purpose, none at all, Tyler, none at all.” A single tear rolled down my cheek. Well, to Tyler it looked like a tear anyways, but I knew it to be salvia dripping from the monster’s fangs as she posed for attack. “Olivia, you do have I purpose—” Tyler started.
  • 74. Blood Hound Path to Publication Group 75 “Not without you.” I suddenly cried out, cutting his words off. I stumbled forward, keeping one hand clenched behind my back, and tried to look as helpless as I could, but knowing that we were not helpless at all. I kept one hand behind clenched around cool wood. Tyler caught me as I tripped forward, just like I knew he would. He hugged me, running his hand through my hair and rubbing my back. I hugged him, swiftly moving my clenched hand so that he felt nothing and stationing it behind his back at an angle. “I’m always here for you, Olivia. You will always be a special person in my life, even if we did break up. Honest, you’ll always be a friend.” “What about Alicia?” I fake sobbed, looking up at the moon, a grin forming on my face. “She understands friendship. I’m here for you, you are not alone.” The man on the moon transformed into a wolf, howling at itself and the grin tickled my cheeks. I dropped it and mumbled into his shoulder. “You’re right, I am never alone.” But I did not mean Tyler. I did not mean my mom or my friends. I did not mean anyone, because I meant my Eugene and my monster. I meant myself. I was never alone because I had me. Tyler pulled me away and looked at me. I saw him open his mouth to say something in response, but we were too quick for him. The monster licked her rough tongue across her lips and kissed him. The spilt second that his surprise and shock deemed him immovable was the same second I thrust my arm holding the butcher knife into his back. Tyler cried out, obviously in a state of shock, his eyes bulging and his body sagging on top of me. We pushed the knife in harder, grunting in pleasure. Blood flooded my mouth but I didn’t gag. I didn’t spit it out either. I swallowed. It tasted better than his soft, warm lips in which I used to feel comfort. Better even than Eugene’s imaginary lips, that remained my comfort. It tasted better than anything I had ever had before, salty and thick and a sticky warm. Tyler struggled to remain standing, let out a final attempt for breath before slumping forward, ceasing to breathe. I pulled my new knife out from his body and pushed him off of me. He fell backwards and hit the grassy ground with a thick, wet thud. I
  • 75. The Path Path to Publication Group 76 admired the blade of my knife, no longer reflective and shiny, but soaked in clumpy red. It was sticky. It could have been mistaken for dark red paint, except for the smell. The smell found my nose and I inhaled deeply, closing my eyes and basking in pleasure. I stood up, wiping some blood that had trickled down my chin. My old boyfriend lay broken on the grassy ground, which was quickly being soaked, turning into a puddle of deep red. What had compelled me to bring that knife down was deeper than just my monster inside me. It was deeper than Eugene’s insisting me feed her. It went deeper, way deeper. Engraved on my soul and there was no escape and no regret. It was who I was; who I am. The monster…the monster was at fault here. But so was I, so was Olivia. We were one…one mind, acting together. Whatever she did, I did. Whatever I did, she did. It was no longer a “her” and a “me”, but a “we” instead. She and I were one person, one being. She had known it all along inside of me, her constant howls and clawing proved it to be, I just had never seen it until now. All the little monster had needed was a key to set her free. I felt no remorse when I gazed at Tyler’s slumped body, his surprised eyes open wide, and a look of pain etched in his face. His lips were frozen in the form of our kiss, cracked, with drying blood. I kneeled next to him and kissed him once more, licking the blood from the crevices in his lips and wiping my own on his crisp white shirt, leaving a smudged red-black stain. His lips were already starting to become cold like the night air. The monster growled, low, deep in her throat as she gazed upon the body that I knelt before. Eugene was suddenly beside me, holding my hand. I felt no feeling in the hand he held. He looked at the body as well, smiling. “My girl fed her pet.” “No. I fed myself.” I answered, standing straight and squeezing his hand. I kissed his cheek, feeling nothing, but I also felt his warm flesh. We could talk more tomorrow about it. I knew that we would. I still needed to add my own fine tales to The Book of Blood. But for now, I wanted to live in the moment. A light tug indicated his departure and Eugene was gone. Back inside me, I think.
  • 76. Blood Hound Path to Publication Group 77 With him gone and my eyes watching Tyler’s frozen body as the warmth leaked faster from it, I found myself thinking of my father. I thought of the gashes he’d had, and how beautiful they had looked. They had looked beautiful; I knew that now. Actually, I believe I had always known that, since the day it had happened. I had never really been scared of what happened. That was why I had not cried and why therapy had no effect. Dr. Hanson would just say I was a hard egg. No, I was no egg—not at all. That day, I had received the last piece of my soul, a friend I had not seen or cared about until now. My pet. Me. My monster. The monster had protected me, that is what had happened. For the first time, I understood my father’s death, but in a way I could never explain to anyone. The monster that lived inside of me now, had once lived inside another. Her cousin, maybe; more likely just one of her pack. And, that was why my father had died, because someone’s monster wanted to break through. One of her—one of my—pack members had wanted to break free. My monster whimpered, looking at me with her big, round eyes. Lips pouting. Fangs dripping in a steady, gloppy stream onto the grass. My monster deserved the same as their monster, I decided. I sat back down on my calves and gave us the go-ahead. We made the same slashes I had seen on my father, on Tyler. We were an artist, the creation beautiful, and painted of red paint. The blood splattered warm and sticky over my hands once and caked his white shirt in what I knew would soon become a crusty rust color. We stepped back to admire our work. It was a true masterpiece—we both knew it. He lifeless form lay twisted, an already drying, but still clumpy wet gash in the middle of his back where the knife had first entered. Other cuts and jagged lines wove their way across his body, the blood around them fresh and fresh smelling. I knelt down and breathed in, pleasure forming my smile. My little monster whimpered and then growled once more. We leaned down and, on all fours, I leaned over Tyler’s misshapen body and we ran our rough tongue across the wounds, like a mother comforts her young. It was thick on my tongue and jagged along the lines where I stuck my mouth into his flesh and
  • 77. The Path Path to Publication Group 78 inhaled deeply, biting off bits of flesh, already cold, but soaking in warm blood. We were hungry. The thought crossed our mind that our meal lay in front of us, and she told me that it would be the best way to cover what we had done. Yes, his girlfriend would worry when he did not call her tomorrow and the search would begin when he turned up missing. Soon he would be found and all blame would turn to me, all signs would turn to me. We would be to blame. We needed to hide him. Crash his car maybe. And then send dear old Alicia a call. I touched the wound. “Do it.” She hissed, egging me on, her teeth dripping with salvia, bubbly and shiny. “Do it.” I bit my bottom lip and looked at him, narrowing my eyes, thinking. Considering. My stomach growled to match my monster’s throaty growl. I smiled, lips still stained sticky red from the blood I had drank before. The monster climbed to all fours and threw her head back, howling up at the bright moon, arching her neck and letting out an eerie echo that bounced off the corn around us. As we slumped our shoulder and lowered our head, I heard a dog howl in the distance and I shivered. My heart beat faster and faster, pounding against my rib cage and shaking my entire body. She snapped at me. We arched our back, stepped forward and then let out a mighty howl and burst forward, attacking the kill. Thump, thump. Thump, thump. Knives
  • 78. Essays H. L. Mencken
  • 79. The Path Path to Publication Group 80 Mary J. Nickum Food Insecurity and World Hunger, an Essay Essay Food is central to all living things, plant and animal. The availability and sustainability of required food items is essential to life. For plants, if the soil and moisture do not provide enough nutrients, they will not germinate or will die quickly. Most animals will move on if the food supply is insufficient. Humans probably moved around in the past, too, searching for food but now, with the world population at seven billion, there is nowhere to go. This means there is food scarcity in some parts of the world and in some populations. The facts shown and discussed here are troubling. How bad is food insecurity and what can be done? Sociology of Food Food has permeated culture, religion, national and ethnic identity. South Americans and Europeans have traditionally had a close relationship with food and meals, choosing to enjoy the social and family aspects of food. North Americans, notably the USA have a different approach to food and meals, typically regarding them as fuel, more than a ritual. The interference and interplay of food rules and prohibitions mark the boundaries of the distinction of “We”, “Other” or “They”. Food is important. It is the foundation of any economy but it also embeds a series of variations of human relationship to food. On the one hand, there is the link that connects the biological to the cultural, from the nutritional value of a meal to the symbolic function. Man is an omnivore. Unlike species that adapt to only a certain type/types of foods, such as koalas to eucalyptus leaves or panda bears to bamboo, omnivores possess
  • 80. Food Insecurity Path to Publication Group 81 the ability to rely on a variety of diets and foodstuffs and to adapt very quickly to any environment. Simultaneously, this variety has some limits: man cannot obtain all the nutrients he needs from a single product/food and is, thus, forced to find diverse sources of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. This omnivore’s paradox is translated into a fundamental oscillation of man between neophobia, prudence and fear of the unknown, and neophilia, the tendency to explore, the need for variety, when it comes to food On the other hand, food connects the individual to the collective, the psychological to the social. Eating is both a highly personal act and a social act. Food choices differ between cultures and are influenced by the social milieus surrounding individuals. Religion, for example, requires that certain products are to be consumed or rejected regardless of personal tastes or preferences. But food choices are also influenced by factors located within the individual: physiological factors (hormone levels, illness, intolerance to particular ingredients), psychological factors (personality) and sensory factors (the external properties of food – aspect, smell, consistency). Moreover, differences in sex, age, social class, region of residence and degree of urbanization will also cause variations in food consumption (Conner and Armitage 2002). Food has been neglected long by the classics of sociology. In 2002, an inquiry into the sociological tradition identified an amazing scarcity of references to food in the work of most sociologists. Marx never talked about food; Durkheim mentioned it mainly in the context of totemic interdictions and classifications of the sacred and the profane; Elias, despite the fact that his The Civilizing Process is concerned with the development of manners, including table manners, neglects the problem of food as such (Mennell et al. 2002). Culturally, food has become completely internationalized. In cities and towns, one usually can find ethnic food restaurants or at least ethnic food shelves in the supermarkets. It has led to an “understanding” and appreciation of other ethnic tastes, so long as the food doesn’t depart too far from the ‘American taste’. To be successful, many ethnic restaurants have chosen to “Americanize” their dishes. We accept them as being authentic, but, in some cases, only the
  • 81. The Path Path to Publication Group 82 name of the dish is authentic. Think about it…how would “Doggy dumplings” sell in McDonalds in America? It is a delicacy in Asia. Where our Food Comes From Where our food comes from is as much a matter of agri- business as it is sociology. In a study of food systems and consumption models, Fonte (2002) concluded that two decades ago, the agro-food system was described as a monolithic ‘complex’ heavily dominated by the industrial capital. If the supply side was fully integrated in the market economy, preparation and consumption of food was still important in the family context, favoring a disciplinary division of analysis: preparation and consumption of food were the field of interest of anthropological and psycho-sociological literature, while aspects of production were the domain of agricultural economists and rural sociologists (Fonte 1991). The transition from modern to late modern food systems brings an intensification of market relations in the kitchen and to the table (Goody1982), a re-location of power in the supply chain, an invasion of controversial food biotechnologies and the outbreak of problems related to risk and food safety, all of which imply a loss of trust in relation to food. In this new context, many new social and economic actors (the biotechnology industry, consumers, experts, retailing capital, regulation agencies), with their specific interests and values (Wilkinson 2000), are playing an active role in shaping the future of the food system in the twenty-first century. Only an integrated approach to the study of the food system will enable us to understand the emerging conflicts and strategic alliances, the motivations behind the actors’ behavior and the conditions in which such developments take place. Food Security What is food security? Several governments and organizations have attempted to define it. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has offered a definition, which has been adopted by most cultural anthropologists. The FAO defines food security as “Food security exists when all people, all times, have physical and
  • 82. Food Insecurity Path to Publication Group 83 economic access in sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” The definition recognizes that poverty is a major cause of food insecurity and that poverty eradication is essential to improved access to food. According to Shah (2013), almost half the world—over three billion people—live on less than $2.50 a day (Figure 1). The reality of the numbers is most acute in the most invisible world population—the children. There are an estimated 2.2 billion children in the world. One billion are in poverty, that is every second child, or half the world’s children. Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. If current trends continue, the Millennium Development Goals target of halving the proportion of underweight children will be missed by 30 million children, largely because of slow progress in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, the proportion of children under five who are underweight declined by one fifth over the period 1990-2000. Eastern Asia showed the greatest improvement and is surpassing the MDG target, largely due to nutritional advances in China. Western Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have also demonstrated significant progress, with underweight prevalence dropping by more than one third. The greatest proportions of children going hungry continue to be found in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Poor progress in these regions means that it is unlikely that the global target will be met. If current trends continue, the world will miss the 2015 target by 30 million children, essentially robbing them of their full potential. The benefits of economic growth in the developing world have been shared unequally, within and among countries. Between 1990 and 2004, the share of national consumption by the poorest fifth of the population in developing regions decreased from 4.6 to 3.9 per cent (in countries where consumption figures were unavailable, data on income were used). Widening income inequality is of particular concern in Eastern Asia, where the share of consumption among the poorest people declined dramatically during this period. Still, inequality remains the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean and in
  • 83. The Path Path to Publication Group 84 sub-Saharan Africa, where the poorest fifth of the people account for only about 3 per cent of national consumption, or income (UNICEF 2007). Although related, food insecurity and poverty are not the same. Unemployment rather than poverty is a stronger predictor of food insecurity. Rates of food insecurity among rural households is generally lower than urban households, but slightly higher than the national average. The irony is that many of these food-insecure households are in the very rural and farm communities whose productivity feeds the world and provides low-cost wholesome food for American consumers (Anonymous 2014). Food Insecurity for Children Food security for children is not just a problem in Africa and Southeast Asia. It is a problem in the US as well. Poverty is the demon at the door of these households. Hunger is their only birthright. These children may well grow up to solve problems of poverty in the only way they see available—theft, kidnapping, prostitution and murder. Yes, crime often seems to be the only solution available. The outlook for these children is, indeed, bleak.  15.9 million children in the US lived in food insecure households in 2012.  20% or more of the child population in 37 states and D.C. lived in food insecure households in 2011, according to the most recent data available. New Mexico (30.6%) and the District of Columbia (30.0%) had the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food.  In 2011, the top five states with the highest rate of food insecure children under 18 are New Mexico, the District of Columbia, Arizona, Oregon, and Georgia.  In 2011, the top five states with the lowest rate of food insecure children under 18 are North Dakota, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Minnesota. The number of older adults is projected to increase over the next decade and continue to rise in the following decade. In
  • 84. Food Insecurity Path to Publication Group 85 2040, there will be 79.7 million older adults, more than twice as many as in 2000. Additionally, the senior population is becoming increasingly diverse. Between 2012 and 2030, the white population of 65 and plus is projected to increase by 54% compared with 125% of older minorities. These changing demographics will have profound impacts on the demand for social services, especially the need for adequate and culturally appropriate nutrition services. Seniors may have unique nutritional needs and challenges that separate them from the rest of the population and must be considered (Anonymous 2014). Food Insecurity for Seniors Problems of food insecurity could arise from low income, resulting from inadequate retirement funds. Food prices have risen while retirement incomes often are fixed. Some in this population are faced with the dilemma of whether to buy food or medicine. They can’t afford both much of the time. There are few social programs in the US to help these seniors.  In 2012, 2.8 million (8.8%) households with seniors experienced food insecurity. 1.1 million (9.1%) households composed of seniors living alone experience food insecurity. In 2011, 4.8 million Americans over the age of 60 were food insecure. This constitutes 8.4% of all seniors.  The number of food insecure seniors is projected to increase by 50% when the youngest of the Baby Boom Generation reaches age 60 in 2025.  Seniors are more likely to be food insecure if they : o Live in a southern state o Are younger o Live with a grandchild o Are African American o Are Hispanic For seniors, protecting oneself from food insecurity and hunger is more difficult than for the general population. For example, a study that focused on the experience of food insecurity among the elderly population found that food insecure seniors sometimes had enough money to purchase food but did
  • 85. The Path Path to Publication Group 86 not have the resources to access or prepare food because of a lack of transportation, functional limitations, or health problems (Anonymous 2014). In addition to children and seniors, two other segments of the population are identified as experiencing food insecurity— rural families and the working poor. However, in these segments, the children are, again, the most vulnerable. Rural Hunger Facts Though some rural families may be able to grow some food items, it is not enough to provide food security. Lack of knowledge about planting and cultivating, lack of equipment, unsuitable land, poor or unstable health and illiteracy may all contribute to the problem of hunger.  15.5% of rural households are food insecure, an estimated 3.1 million households.  8.5 million Americans (17.7%) living in rural areas live below the federal poverty line.  Compared to all regions, the South continues to have the highest poverty rate among people in families living in rural areas (28.5%).  52.3% of people in families with a single female head of household living in rural areas were poor in 2012, as compared to 34.6% in the suburbs Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of life, is important for establishing a solid foundation that has implications for a child’s future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity. Unfortunately, food insecurity is an obstacle that threatens that critical foundation. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.9 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life. Although food insecurity is harmful to any individual, it can be particularly devastating among children because of their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences (Anonymous 2014).
  • 86. Food Insecurity Path to Publication Group 87 Working Poor Facts One of the most common misconceptions is the assumption that if someone is hungry, that means they do not have a job and are living on the streets. What most people don’t understand is that anyone can experience hunger. It is a silent epidemic that affects over 50 million Americans. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2010, 21 million people lived in working-poor families. This translates into nearly 9.6 percent of all American families living below 100 percent of poverty have at least one family member working. In fact, 36 percent of client households served by the Feeding America network have one or more adults working (Anonymous 2014). I propose that this problem is increasing. Current labor statistics show the new jobs created in the past year are low paying, non-benefited, often part-time, service jobs. The hourly pay from these jobs is not likely to be enough to provide food security for the entire family.  Female-headed households were more than twice as likely to be among the working poor as male-headed households in 2008.  Among families with at least one member working at least half a year, families with children were 4 times more likely than families without children to live in poverty in 2008.  According to a survey on hunger and homelessness conducted by the United States Conference of Mayors, 88.5% of cities participating in the survey cited unemployment as one of three major causes of hunger in their city.  Thirty-nine percent of all adults served by Feeding America have completed high school or equivalent degree with no further education beyond high school.  34 percent of all households served by Feeding America have had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.  Sixty-five percent of working families who received help through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Food Stamps were single-parent families.
  • 87. The Path Path to Publication Group 88 A critical component to a healthy life is nutrition. From birth, the intake of vital nutrients is essential to the growth and development of a healthy individual. Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of life, is important to the establishment and maintenance of a good nutritional foundation, which will have profound effects on a child’s future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Unfortunately, food insecurity is an obstacle that threatens that critical foundation. Summary In the United States, more than one out of five children lives in a household with food insecurity, which means they do not always know where they will find their next meal. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2012, 15.9 million children under 18 in the United States live in this condition—unable to access consistently nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for a healthy life. According to Map the Meal Gap, in 2011, the top five states with the highest rate of food insecure children under 18 are New Mexico, the District of Columbia, Arizona, Oregon and Georgia. Twenty percent or more of the child population in 38 states and D.C. lived in food insecure households in 2011. Insufficient nutrition puts children at risk for illness and weakens their immune system. The immature immune systems of young children, ages 0- 5, make them especially vulnerable to nutritional deprivation and, as a result, the ability to learn, grow and fight infections is adversely affected. In 2012, 33.1 million adults in the United States experienced food insecurity. Food insecurity also can have wide- ranging detrimental consequences on the physical and mental health of adults, including more vulnerable populations, such as
  • 88. Food Insecurity Path to Publication Group 89 pregnant women and seniors. Lack of access to a nutritious and adequate food supply has implications not only for the development of physical and mental disease, but also behaviors and social skills (Anonymous 2014). Conclusions These disturbing facts and statistics have been collected by the most reliable organizations we know; USDA and the United Nations, specifically FAO and UNICEF. We can’t argue with them but it is imperative that we heed them. As a society, I offer, we are “our brother’s keepers”. We can best do this by the 1960’s mantra—“think globally, act locally.” Food banks are always working to keep their shelves stocked to aid people in need—not just during the holiday season but year-round. Hunger and need are not only experienced during this season but it seems to be the time when people suddenly awaken, albeit briefly, to the needs of others. We, as a society, must awaken AND STAY AWAKE. One donation a year is not enough to ease the hunger of a family brought on by chronic poverty. We need to keep these public pantries stocked. Another thing we can do, as a democracy, is elect public officials who express a desire and provide a plan to ease poverty and hunger among their constituencies. In their public statements do they recognize these issues and do they have a plan to address them? We must demand that they do publicly and, most importantly, at the ballot box. I contend, as individuals, these two actions are the best ways for us to address poverty and hunger. From here, as a society, we can move forward to assist in the world effort to ease hunger and poverty. References Anonymous. 2014. Feeding America. http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/impact-of- hunger/physical-and-mental-health.aspx Conner, Mark, and Christopher J. Armitage. 2002. The Social Psychology of Food. 1st ed. Open University Press, Maidenhead, Berkshire UK.
  • 89. The Path Path to Publication Group 90 Fonte, Maria. 2002. Food Systems, Consumption Models and Risk Perception in Late Modernity. International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food 10(1):13-21. Fonte, Maria. 1991. Symbolic and Social Aspects in the Functioning of the Food System. International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food I:116-125. Goody, Jack. 1982. Cooking, Cuisine and Class. A Study in Comparative Sociology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. Mennell, Stephen J, Anne Murcott, and Anneke H van Otterloo. 1993. The Sociology of Food: Eating, Diet and Culture. 2nd ed. SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA USA. Shah, A. 2013. Poverty Facts and Stats. http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and- stats UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2007. The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2007. United Nations, New York, NY USA Wilkinson, John. 2000. From the Dictatorship of the Supply to the Democracy of Demand, Transgenics, Organics and the Dynamics of the Demand in the Agrofood System. Paper presented at the X World Congress of Rural Sociology, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, 30 July– 5 August. World poverty
  • 90. Food Insecurity Path to Publication Group 91 Figure 1. World Poverty
  • 91. Short Stories Virginia Woolf
  • 92. Rainbows and Revelations Path to Publication Group 93 Tim Wilkinson Rainbows and Revelations Short Story “Toto, I've a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” 1939, Dorothy ‘The Wizard of Oz’ “Lustrous, pleasing, appealing and impudent, yes, he’s a sweet and pretty rainbow.” “Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue. Haven’t your heard?” “Of course the sky is blue, over the rainbow. Any schoolboy can tell you that. Rainbows can’t exist beneath cloudy skies; it’s only the light shining through the prisms of millions of water droplets that creates the effect, the colors. Therefore, there is no, ‘somewhere over the rainbow’, for over it, or above it, it ceases to exist. There is only beneath it. The whole concept is flawed and frankly, rather juvenile.” “You always were the romantic, Wayne.” “Well it’s true; rainbows, like color itself, are only illusions, a trick of the, mind, a mirage. They in truth don’t even exist, it’s…” “I know, I read your essay.” “That makes two then, counting me.” “So I suppose then, that you don’t believe in the tale of the flood, or the promise of the rainbow?” “Rex, I think you have known me long enough to understand what I most believe in, and that is truth, an increasingly rare commodity in this world. Hell, it seems to me most of what passes for truth these days is painted up lies, pretty little lies spun solely for gain. It has been said that one day, ‘Evil will be taken for good, and good for evil.’ Seems to me we are there. Just look to the Whitehouse and what skulk’s within, if
  • 93. The Path Path to Publication Group 94 you have any doubts about what true evil looks like. Look, look hard, and you will find nothing, nothing but a bunch of sugared tits, illusions, deceptions, falsehoods and lies. There is no substance, no reality, only mirage, images of nothingness, having only emptiness beneath and beyond. It’s all smoke and mirrors, deceit and hubris. And like a cancer it spreads, as evil attracts evil, like wastrels and crack heads to an easy mark. Evil, his evil, it looks like a rainbow. And just like rainbows, these so called leaders have clothed themselves in handsome colors of refracted light. It is this light that fills the minds and eyes of the weak, the wicked and depraved, suckling them with empty promises and glowing visions of laden pots of shimmering gold; but it’s dead man’s gold, blood money, the plunder of a dying nation, the reward of a tyrant and an imbecilic and deranged, would be king.” “Really Wayne, I think you exaggerate. Is there no good to be found, even within their hearts? Aren’t we all essentially good?” “I think not. No, finding goodness in that house on the hill, in the hearts of those who live inside and those who placed them there…well it’s like trying to pick up a turd from the clean end. Somewhere over the rainbow, my ass! Look around you; the skies, are they blue?” “Well, yes.” “Who needs rainbows then, or fields of poppies and opium dreams. Who needs fairy tales and fancy, legend and lore, tin men and scarecrows, lions and lepricons? Who needs empty promises, smooth words and sparkling jewels? You must know that if the speed of light were different, and there are those who believe it once was, notable scientists, physicists and researchers alike, then rainbows could not exist.” “The speed of light change? How ridiculous. Some things are constants, unchangeable, fixed and permanent. They must be. There are laws you know, natural laws. If not then…” “Are they? That’s not the story I read. You espouse your belief that your God created all things, set the rainbows in the sky as a sign to us all. And yet, this same God is somehow incapable of changing the speed of light. You speak of natural laws; the laws of physics, laws of nature, motion and thermal dynamics. There are no natural laws in a created world, only the
  • 94. Rainbows and Revelations Path to Publication Group 95 laws of the creator. You speak of these so called natural laws yet deny the existence of moral truths. You claim to believe in a created world, yet deny the possibility that this creator can, may, or will change the laws as he sees fit to suit his own purposes. Just where do you suppose these natural laws you so highly speak of originated? Was it not from the same source as the laws of moral truth, of right and wrong? Yet one is named science and the other anathema. Who, or what may I ask defines for you truth, goodness and right? Your God can create a universe, fill it with life and peoples, yet he cannot change the, ‘natural laws,’ that he himself designed, nor may he define good nor bad, justice or evil?” “But…but that would mean, that, that everything, anything, could be manipulated, tweaked, reordered and arranged, that order does not exist and physical laws are useless, but passing fads to suit the whims and wiles of…” “Yes, of a God. How can you blindly accept the first thing, but reject the second?” “Please, the last thing I need is another cockamamie theory to confuse and deride.” “This we agree on. No, what the world needs is truth, not more rainbows. Rainbows, like color, are illusions, void of matter and material, having neither substance nor nature of their own, yet both are born of real and physical causes, and although neither can be defined, tested or measured, both to us, exist. The same is true of evil…and of evil men. We have no need of this supposed paradise, these, ‘somewhere over the rainbow,’ promises, for as I have said, no such space exists. He is but a mouth, a false promise, an empty vessel, wisps of colored gas, pretty to the eyes of the blind, music to the ears of the deaf, manna to the obese and wisdom to learned. Useless, ineffectual and impudent, that is a rainbow. Pretty? Yes, very pretty, yet good for nothing but as a salve to bind the festering, mortal wound.” “So you deny even the possibility, that rainbows are a promise of God, a sign, a pledge, even a blessing?” “No. What I deny is the goodness of man and the motives and methods of those who would be king, and the selfish, shallow arrogance and greed of those who bow at his feet. This philosophy, this history, and yes, this religion that you
  • 95. The Path Path to Publication Group 96 claim to believe, yet do not, also plainly states that there was a time when men knew nothing of rain, and that in those days each lived many hundreds of years, even unto a thousand years old. It also states that in those days it came to a man, to build a boat, an ark, and that this man was ridiculed and taunted, for none had ever seen, nor could they conceive, that rain could fall from the sky. Furthermore…” “Yes, I know, it rained…and all the earth died.” “This is the story you claim to believe, yet did it not ever occur to you, did you not ever notice, that after the flood, people suddenly began dying after living less than one hundred years, with a few minor exceptions of course.” “Actually, no, but now that you mention it. Yet, what does that have to do with anything. We are talking about rainbows.” “No, we are talking about evil and evil men, those, whom cloaked in rays of light and draped in color and glory, shine and gleam to all the world, while they yet in truth, consist of nothing. Nothing save evil intent, veiled in illusion, their vile purposes and hate blackened hearts arrayed and bejeweled in splendor, their petulant aims hidden by polished pearls. And while having nothing of substance within their souls, nor beyond or beneath, they rush the world to doom.” “Again I ask, what has this to do with the subject at hand?” “Something changed after this flood you so revere. Your natural, fixed and finite, eternal and endless laws, they changed. While you, accepting this tale, along with the premise that rainbows hang in the sky, as a promise from God, reject the premise that the speed of light was once different, that rain is a new thing, and that your most primary beliefs are no more solid and substantial than the words of your earthly messiah. Is your God omniscient, omnipotent, or is he not? For if he is, then no man may define for himself, or for a nation, what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, what is evil and what is not. For these things must come from the one who first defined them. And your pretty little rainbow and the wrath at his side, along with all of those all those who say that there is no truth aside from that which they define, but only natural,
  • 96. Rainbows and Revelations Path to Publication Group 97 physical laws, they are denying the very truth their silken, lying tongues so eloquently spew.” “Do you believe in nothing then?” “No my friend, it is not I who does not believe, it is you, you and all those who have placed this evil upon the throne in the name of handouts, freebies, food stamps and cell phones. It is you, and it is they that fail to believe and refuse to see. I, see the rainbows. I, know their beauty, perceive their colors and know from whence they come; and I, believe the promise that they deliver. Yet I also see this imitation of a man, this empty shirt bathed in multicolored shafts of gleaming lies, and I know too, from whence he comes, and I believe the hidden promises of his empty and loveless heart and the death and ruin of the promises he too delivers. Through the colors of the rainbow there came a new beginning, and from the death of the flood, new life. Yet from this…man and his minions, comes nothing but sloth, deceit, virulence and death, and from his garlanded glow shall rise the flames of which the rainbow foretold, the hungry, angry fires of collapse, civil war, genocide and chaos.” “So our president is a rainbow?” “No, yet he is so like one.” “But don’t rainbows come after the rain? Aren’t they a promise, an oath, signaling the end of heavens wrath? You have said as much yourself.” “Yes, they come after the spring rain, and before the heated flames of summer.” “How can one man be the cause of such horror? So he’s a rainbow, what of it. Who can fear a rainbow, and why?” “You still don’t get it do you. It’s not the rainbow you should fear. For it is nothing, formed of nothing, containing nothing. It’s only an effect of the light, shining through the prisms of millions of water droplets that create the effect, the colors and the enticing brilliance of the rainbow. That is the very thing I am trying to get across. For what I fear is not the rainbow, but what gives it its life, as you my friend, you and the tens of millions of entitlement addled buffoons just like you, are nothing but tiny, helpless drops of rain, through which the light of evil shines, giving the rainbow its life. 
  • 97. The Path Path to Publication Group 98  Tom Sheehan Locked in a Syzygy at Home Short Story Over millions of years ago Breakheart Woods, between Saugus and Wakefield in Massachusetts, had been bookmarked by boulders and blow-offs and earthly cataclysm, and to this day, somewhere in its innards from those first struggles of granite and earth fire, from violent fractures and upheavals to be known again only at the end of it all, was a cave, a cave as dark as a heart, a cave that once, I believed, pulsed with a heart. Now we were searching for that cave, in earnest. Nobody I knew growing up had ever seen or visited the cave, but I knew it was there; I’d been told. The old man of the benches told me, the reclusive reader told me, this late and distant friend told me. Once he had said, as we sat on a Breakheart bench under the sun, books swapping owners, time spilling its nearly empty cup for us, “We’re in a syzygy with my home, my place of rest, the word syzygy salvaged from my reading, like it's from somewhere over the rainbow or right out of the dictionary.” He twisted his stiff neck, eyes dark as hidden sin or pain, it seemed, as they rolled across my face, the breeze twisting his hair into a small errant banner, and added, “or somewhere under the rainbow.” Over one slightly muscled shoulder he had looked with what appeared to be unerring accuracy into the depths of Breakheart Woods. I had no idea how far into the woods he looked, how far knowledge and familiarity took him, but I felt the astronomer’s true line of that course; he and I and the cave were fatefully cast in a spatial line of supposed sight. He knew and I didn’t, not as yet, that I was part of that syzygy.
  • 98. Locked in a Syzygy Path to Publication Group 99 Now I wondered, did that paradisiac cave hold his sickly frame or house his corpse? Had it become, in turn, chamber, then crypt, for one man separated entirely from the rest of the world? Thinking of the old man at that moment, I thought of Charlie. My old pal Charlie, if he had been here, would have called it the dead-gone grotto had he been around for the search. Charlie, too, alliterative Charlie, Charlie my book merchant, all- too-dead Charlie, had left me, sprinting into death like the final leg man on a 400-meter relay, carrying the dread disease as surely as a baton. He too would have been here for the search, looking for the old man of the benches, along with the rest of our friends. I had friends to count on. Surprise, disbelief, query, all manner of reaction from my companions came to mind. I’d guess disbelief figured to be the headliner for my pals. But, October crowding us, its breath tinged by Montreal and points north, we were really into the search. I mean really into it, all five of us, with maps that laid out sections and quadrants for the search, and we were spread our responsible ways to cover all depths of Breakheart Woods. Pal Jay even brought whistles along for all of us, which was par for him. I never would have thought of it, that’s for sure. My long-time pals, to a man, were convinced, finally, we were looking for the old man of the benches. I was convinced we were looking for his body. At about 150 feet apart, we were spread out in a line, obligated to look under every rock of any size, into each solitary crevice, under distinct cliff faces and behind every blow-down whose roots in the endless dance of earthly upheaval fanned the air. To deploy our own fan across each foot of Breakheart’s ground was our goal. It wasn’t so much that the others believed me, that I thought the old guy was dead in the woods, most likely entombed if I was to believe his words, but they trusted me, and we were the best of friends. Enough said, that’s all it took. We each had secrets of youth none of us had divulged to this day. I asked them to help and they came the next morning, dressed warmly, October primping on us, lunches packed, Thermoses in a variety of slings and backpacks, hanging in as always. If I were the type I’d have cried. We’d been classmates and teammates forty some years before and nobody else would have believed
  • 99. The Path Path to Publication Group 100 me anyway. Old men, at least older than we were, don’t ordinarily crawl off like elephants to die, especially in Breakheart, part of the Commonwealth’s park system, squeezed in between Saugus and Wakefield, a bare twelve miles from downtown Boston. In summer it probably held more homeless people than we could contend with. Finding one man would be difficult. All my pals but Charlie were here. It was a point with Charlie that still held true. We thought about him, always, when he wasn’t around. Some people do not disappear, no matter what happens to them. Jay Brazos didn’t ask how I knew about the old man, but did I have any leads, had I seen him coming and going in one dedicated route, if there were any time differentials we could surmise on, draw from? Any propensities I had observed? Jay once was a tackle, a good, rugged one, who many years ago turned accountant. Big thumbs he had, but good at figures, and loyal. He had as much energy as any man I’d ever met, but never wasted it. Shortcuts were part of his make-up, a bit of the contrast working in him, CPAs being detailers, meticulous from the word go. Kurt Ogden was as good as gold, as he was in all things. He shrugged and smiled amiably and innocently, still. His grin said, I’m here, lead me. Being himself, he was, knowing he’d never be a leader, but wouldn’t be last either, and handsome in a way that said he should have been an organizer, a point man. He’d be grateful to his dying days we hadn’t called him KO. That would have made some days tougher to handle. In denim and a puffy ski jacket that cost a bundle, boots that cost twice as much, a backpack he must have gone out last night to buy, Shjon Borraille (Jon B we’d called him since the fifth grade when he moved into town from the Maritimes) looked as though he were bound for Yosemite or the Grand Canyon. In spite of his money, in spite of his gold and his stocks and his silver spoon, Jon B was steel down to the last fiber. He was a rich boy who was a blocking back way back when, a devastating blocker, and would, in the depths of Breakheart, be the last man to quit the search. It wasn’t that he had anything to prove, to us or to himself, but it was the way he was made. The genes, he’d often said, come when the fire’s going, not when it’s
  • 100. Locked in a Syzygy Path to Publication Group 101 out. Itching to get his section done and then help out somewhere else, he’d beat the clock if he could. Lastly, Dermott Hulrihan and I shared at least four pints of blood over the years, once when he went through the windshield of his sister’s car, and once when I almost sliced my arm off at the old icehouse, the crazily vibrating band saw still screeching in recall. We were best friends besides, at home in each other’s house, with each other’s family. When I said I needed help, he was at my side in ten minutes. This time, though, he didn’t have to bring his electrical tool kit or his TV repair kit or his brake-fixing tools. Right up front I decided that I’d have to tell them the whole story, realizing it would have to grow and be formed as I told it, building it up, bringing them on. I needed all four of them. So I made the preliminaries known, that I thought an old man was dead in Breakheart, that if he wasn’t dead then he was most likely sick and socked away in some kind of rocky cave or shelter, which had been home to him for about two years. I’d met him at the benches of the reservation, sopping up the good rays. Now, he’d been out of sight for three days, where he and I had met daily for something like thirty-seven or thirty-eight days in a row, at the benches of the park. I told them, as clearly and as truly as I could, not letting anything mask the feeling I had found in myself for a vagrant, for a street person, about an old but quizzical man who had come out of nowhere into my life. The quadruple bypass I’d undergone two years before had also put me on the street, a walker and wanderer trying to keep going the sole organ the aorta serves with distinction. So, I said, every now and then in life you have these absolutely brilliant illuminations about another member of the species. If you’re lucky, that is, and awake at the time. It can be the clarity of a person so explicit you feel you know them down to the bottom of their feet, what’s between their toes. And instantaneous, in part. It doesn’t happen very often, it’s true, or not often enough, but when it does it grabs you right by the socks and shakes you up. It was that way with Charlie. We all know it. We know why he went so fast, toting what he thought was all that dread disease with him, keeping it for himself.
  • 101. The Path Path to Publication Group 102 It seemed it was that way with him, the old man of the benches, nameless for the longest while. His face had come at me as I passed him by, sitting on a bench near the first pond of the reservation. There had been no obvious, unbalanced measure about him, like his face was so interesting and his clothes so decrepit, no opposites that had attracted me. An aura about him, I would say, being a more accurate explanation. From a distance I had seen him before, enough times to believe that he was homeless, that his nights were filled with uncertainty and conjecture, that he had no close ties to anybody around us, but that he was a survivor despite whatever rigors had beset him. In his wayward way there seemed to be a purpose emanating, a role to be fulfilled, a routine to be discharged. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something solid existed with him or in him or alongside him, a shadow in a place I couldn’t find though the sunlight angled in on him like a spotlight, old Sol at his best. Neither smile nor scowl did he wear, his eyes gray or pale blue behind dark-rimmed glasses breaking his face into quadrants, his hair closer to white than gray, making it cleaner than one might think it would be. It was almost shoulder-length, an old Hippie, a hanger-on we could have seen and passed by a hundred times; perhaps graced by the tumultuous Sixties and still carrying the torch, perhaps, again, Kerouac at a standstill. Acknowledged outright they’d been slept in, the clothes he wore were not disgraceful in any measure; though they were not neat, they were not dirty, at least not contemptuously dirty. Not back- alley dirty. Not Dumpster dirty. From the beginning I could feel myself drawing a host of conclusions, making assumptions. Making excuses, I suppose, for what had attracted me, feeling myself an odd lot in the bargain. The truth of the matter is that I had seen him around for the better part of two years, around much of the town, always in a slow and meandering walk, without appointment as Charlie would have said, but had never really noticed him. Truth of the matter is, blatant it might seem, I had not accepted him. And one day in late August, at Breakheart, that old Roman Sol slipping his fingers and hands through the treetops, a breeze keeping those extremities company, we came to the same
  • 102. Locked in a Syzygy Path to Publication Group 103 bench together and looked into each other’s eyes for the first time. The illumination and clarity I’d experienced before leaped at me. Immediate attraction, there was. It was undeniable. I liked the way his white hair curled under his ears, the fisherman’s ruddiness of his face so full of world exposure, the crows’ feet lancing the skin about his eyes, the intelligence sitting in those eyes reminding me of an old English professor at Boston College, Beacon Street John Norton, one of the warmest and sincerest men I had met in life. His hands looked industrious despite the rest of his appearance. The dark cover and white pages of a book stuck up out of his once-yellow cardigan pocket. I put him at seventy-five years of age, perhaps a bit older. Even before we spoke, I had a flashback over forty years old. The recall jammed itself at me, clarity coming with it, and a face from Winslow, Arizona, and I was heading home from Yang Du and Mung Dung Ni and Inchon and Seoul and all the ugly pit stops in between. Winslow, Arizona, and the train at rest, and the train captain saying we had a fifteen-minute layover. I had sprinted to a small cabstand. Four cabbies were lounging against their cabs. One face out of the four came at me, something immediate and accessible written on it past a smile, interest and compassion, an I’ve been where you’ve been kind of expression, a clarity of acceptance. “How close is the nearest shoe store?” I said. “What do you need, kid?” His smile was working, his body already leaning to an unannounced action, a sprinter at the gun line, a quick hand reaching for the cab door handle. “I’ll be five more days on this train and I need size 8 1/2 moccasins and I’ve only got fifteen minutes.” We ran two red lights after he flipped open his door for me, the horn blowing all the way. Just off the main drag we ran into a store. Four people were in the store, a man behind the counter, two women talking to him, a man in the far corner. The perfumes of new leather assailed me. “Harry!” the cabby yelled. “Kid here is on his way home from Korea, Sonny’s outfit, the 7th Division. He needs 8 1/2 moccasins and pronto.” Pointing back over his shoulder, he
  • 103. The Path Path to Publication Group 104 added, “I don’t think the train will wait for him,” his voice loaded with minute irony. Harry, the clerk and owner, I presume, to this day, spun about even as the whistle of the train echoed threateningly across town, across the leathered interior of the store. The box of 8 1/2 moccasins was hurled at me. I reached for my wallet and the both of them said, in unison, “Forget it, kid.” We just made the train. He said his name was Earl Coombs, his godson and Harry’s son was in the 17th Regiment of the 7th Division. For the next five days, swooping across America, laying by in Chicago and a few other points, I was the only one on the train of five hundred returnees not shod, required for the meal car, with heavy combat boots. The illumination of the spirit of Earl Coombs had never left me, and the Korean Parallels, the 38th being one, came loping along together. I said “Hi’ as I sat on the same bench with him. He nodded and replied, “I’ve seen you around a lot. You must live nearby. On an exercise regimen, probably cardiac I’d guess. I come here a lot myself. Sometimes I read.” One fingertip touched the top of the book sticking out of his pocket. “Sometimes I watch the birds or the chipmunks, now and then the people.” There was no mockery in his face, nor was there any in his words. Suddenly prevailing in me was the realization I should not ask any questions of him. I really don’t know why that came upon me so quickly, except some of that clarity or illumination told me it was necessary. Of course, I wanted to ask him where he lived and what he read and a number of other questions sloshing their way through the mud in my mind. But we talked lightly about the weather and the birds and the industry of the squirrels and chipmunks. Little else was volunteered by him and less was asked by me, though I squirmed in my seat for information. A dozen or so times we spoke in the following weeks, once or twice he hailed me down, a yell or a wave from a distance if our paths appeared not to be crossing at the same juncture. Little was transferred between us except the quiet amenities of listening, paying attention to words and noting the appropriate time to speak. He was decently shaved most of the time. His clothes went through a small routine of change, though
  • 104. Locked in a Syzygy Path to Publication Group 105 nothing apparently went out of use. Once I saw him pick something off the pavement of the ground and thought it to be a coin the way the sun angled from it. He pocketed the picked-up item. That’s when I began dropping coins about the area. Not that I salted the place, mind you, but here and there let a quarter or a dime slip from my fingers. It made me feel good that I didn’t have to make an offer or donation outright. And on many occasions it was his hand that picked up my offering. That was not one of my original ideas, I will admit. Years before I’d seen my grandfather, the storyteller, the Yeats reader, the Roscommon Emigrant, dropping coins in my sure path, both candy coin and book coin, now and then Hershey coin or G-8 and His Battle Aces coin. And there was a neighbor who, putting in terraced steps of cement in his hilly garden, liberally set coins in the wet cement and spent his nights listening to us chip away at dimes and nickels with our little hammers and our little chisels, the glow of his cigarette signaling his porch watch. I have never forgotten his investment in the neighborhood. September came, the days still warm, the nights getting off a bit on their own, and I still had not prodded him with one question. Thoroughly likable he was, a man of few words, no self choruses, no dictates or tastes used to spread his good word, serious about his own place in the scheme of things. I noticed that the book ends changed colors a few times, so he was progressing, had resources, finished one and went on with another. My curiosity kicked me endlessly, but that illumination would come full circle, I knew. I told him all about myself, about you guys, how we’ve hung in together all these years, my surgery, how slow it was coming back, how good the walking is. I think he got to know you somewhat, each one of you. He knows about Charlie. One day he told me he was reading a French poet named Baudelaire, but not in French. Said he liked him a lot. But he didn’t look too good, coughed and choked a bit and said he’d fight off everything that came at him, in place or out of place. I liked that in him. I liked it a lot. It reminded me of you guys. You’re like him, you know, down deep, not backing off, saying your own thing in your own way. I guess that’s what grabbed me the most—he’s like you guys. And there’s nothing more important than that.
  • 105. The Path Path to Publication Group 106 A couple of days later, a few coins lighter, I left a poet’s book on the bench after he had walked off to wherever he goes. I went off and watched him come back and take the book. I could tell he was pleased, even from a distance. The next day I brought a big Italian sub sandwich cut in quarters. We had a picnic of sorts. He ate and coughed and recited some words he had put by for me. I was really touched by them. Nothing ludicrous or silly about any of it. He reminded me of my grandfather, who used to read Yeats to me on the summer porch with the moths floating around like linnets, but I bet he’s not ten years older than any of us, though he’s been chewed up by something in this life. I’d bet a whole great big chunk has been taken out of him. We’ll never know, will we, what’s coming down on top of us? How it’s going to hit? Some of us are going to get hit in the mind or the heart by a runaway train, like Charlie was, here one day and gone the next. Others by a slight so weak we’d never see it otherwise except it bothers the mindset we’re in. But we came together for thirty-seven or thirty-eight days in a row. I knew he was sick with something besides heartache and loneliness, but he said he’d never go to a hospital he couldn’t afford, and he’d never be put by in a pauper burial. Eventually he alluded to his nights and how he kept warm. “Mother Earth has a warm embrace if you nestle deep enough. Sleeping in a natural curve is a bodily enlightenment.” We spoke of poets he had read, the dislikes he had. Once he said, talking of Sandburg, “Carl’s not good, Carl’s bad.” His eyes were lit up. I said I loved “Chicago” and “Grass.” “Believe what I said,” he replied. That was the first inclination I had that he was playing word games with me. The light almost sang in his eyes. I saw Professor Beacon Street John Norton all over again. I felt the air passing through an open window of Gasson Hall, May pushing itself through the linden trees, the last class of the year, his eyes giving out answers. Dermott had leaped all over that. “You finally meet a kindred spirit, a poetry buff, unlike us poor slobs, and you disagree. You’ll never change.” I knew he was saying that you have nothing if you don’t have a tool in your hands, something to grasp, to lean on. He
  • 106. Locked in a Syzygy Path to Publication Group 107 slapped me on the back and said, “But you’ve always had it your way and we’ve stood by, but not without a question of sanity.” What the old gent was doing, I told them, was giving me his secrets, letting me in on things, telling me what I wanted to know all along and had never asked where he spent his nights, how he lived, what kept him alive. He respected my respect of his privacy, that I wasn’t a do-gooder digging in his back yard for all his bones. Jay asked, “So what did you learn? I trust you just told us something that we missed and you found out, but it’s past me. Way past. So give.” “It wasn’t just that,” I said to them, as they looked at me like the Buster Brown dog, all quizzical and suddenly disbelieving. “That was only one more thing in a line of information that he had been feeding me and I had not caught on. He had been enjoying himself, playing at me and with me, oh-so-good-naturedly, though. I didn’t know what he had done in life because he never said anything of his past, what had driven him out of the mainstream, no details. The only bit of distaste he had ever uttered was that he didn’t care one bit for what he called kiss-ass opportunists. The immediate clarity, of course, was playing with me, and it suddenly came to light. He had told me what took him to the streets. I could feel it and see it.” “Yuh, and what else?” Jay demanded. I roped them all in with my eyes, each one, one at a time. I laid it on them. I said, “He lives in a cave or underground or under a blow-down.” Jay and Dermott laughed like hell. Jay said, “Don’t tell me you’re giving us this Carlsbad shit. Saturday, October. A game at the field. Cut the crap, Tom. You’ve got to have more than this to drag us out here.” His face was reddening, his lips pursed in an old read. I told them nothing was so clear to me in life. The old man was special. I needed their help. There was a silence in the air, a silence all about my friends. I saw them, all at once, in so many postures and situations over the long years. I loved them dearly and needed them. I clutched for the closeness one more time, as if it didn’t come this time it might go off for good. I reached for it with my
  • 107. The Path Path to Publication Group 108 soul. They looked at me the way they had looked at me on more than one occasion, I can say. The measure was made again, for at length, in the midst of a moving silence, I think they saw something of what I had seen in the old man, something Beacon Street John Norton tried to tell me one day in class when nobody else was listening. And, I had heard. They broke and walked off, setting themselves apart by 150 feet or so, and we began to fan through Breakheart for an old man none of them had known, perhaps dead, perhaps buried. For four hours on an October Saturday, the sun glorious, the leaves catching coins of light as they took wing, the thinning shade cooler, we fanned ourselves through the woods of Breakheart, hailing each other, checking out here or there a possibility, waving ourselves onward. We did hill and dale and cliff face and swung about and over the small mountain of stone by the lake. It was after a lunch of sandwiches, when the coffee was gone and the legs seemed to go the way of the spirits, that Dermott, on my left, standing at the foot of a small cliff, hailed me and then the others. It was accompanied by Jay’s whistle cutting through the thinning trees off to Dermott’s left. Dermott was shaking his head, and then he nodded to me as we all gathered at the cliff face. The light was in his eyes and I knew he had found something he had not expected to find, though he had been willing to try. Pointing to a small aperture at the base of the cliff, cut low into the stone and behind a small clump of brush, he handed me his flashlight. “You check, Tom,” he said, and looked at the others with solemnity sitting on his face, stiff as a graven image. His head nodded slowly. The aperture was small and I squeezed through. A stone, about the size of the opening, was pushed aside. I cast the flashlight beam inside. It was a cave at least ten feet deep and over six feet high. I caught an unlit lantern, then a second one, a pile of books on a small block of stone, some bottles, some cans on another stone. The light leaped back at me from a small mirror wedged in the wall. It was dry as bone in there. On one side wooden boxes must have been reassembled, for they stood as a unit almost three feet high. On the other wall, to my left, was a canvas cot with the three sets of crossed legs. On it lay the
  • 108. Locked in a Syzygy Path to Publication Group 109 old man of the benches partly hidden in a sleeping bag. He was colder than the inside of the cave. A slip of paper was a chance semaphore beneath the cot: Tom—I saw the light go on before you did. I know you’ll not be long. Please leave me here. This is my home and the celebration will be ours. I have no more family in the whole world. It was my pleasure talking with you. Guido Poti. PS: You can have my books, but leave Sandburg, leave the Grass. I’ll try again. We left him there in the middle of Breakheart Reservation, socked down into that tomb. No pharaoh, but fair. Nobody will ever find him. I’ve gone back a number of times. Once, late of an August evening, stars tumbling over my shoulder, a breath of a breeze, I carried a bucket of water from the Second Lake and set some cement in place, a few more rocks, as if I were just visiting at Riverside Cemetery. A number of times I dropped a wild flower or a found stone or an orange leaf from the cliff top, just to change the look of the terrain I suppose, or to make a comment. Once, in the near darkness, I saw the lights of his eyes coming back through the trees, as if he’d been off someplace for part of the day. I don’t tell the guys about those visits, and they don’t ask.
  • 109. The Path Path to Publication Group 110 Banjo Short Story His stature, what there was of it, was the cause of it all, from a meek and mild beginning, barely making it into the world, to the inevitable and cataclysmic end. Banjo. He was called Banjo—not because he was bow-legged (which he was and, at 5’1&7/8" and stretching for all he was worth, quite pronounced); not because most of his life he could play without a single lesson any instrument that had strings and required picking or twanging (from balalaika to ukulele and zither); not because a lost testicle at the start of puberty had driven his voice two octaves up the scale, but because he was born of a blind mother, named by his hard-drinking, puzzle- playing, acronym-bedeviled father, raised at times of critical issues by a maiden aunt, all as Benjamin Arthur Norman Jobleski. Banjo, short for short. His father, Joe Jobleski, pipe wrapper of the old school, a man of fists and thrust jaw, sitting at his favorite stool at the club, always remembered Banjo’s being born, how he came weak and wimpy into this world, the runt of the litter, scrawny, red as a tossed new penny, bony and near fleshless, fingers like Q Tips, toes like firecrackers in the gutter on the morning of the Fifth, a chicken lobster, a cull at the pound, and born of a blind woman who had not so sinned before. “The smallest Jobleski in two centuries,” he’d often said at the PAMVETS, an empty glass never in front of him for long, where two of his older sons had already found similar and lethal tastes. It was here where nights and weekends were spent away
  • 110. Banjo Path to Publication Group 111 from home, where the eyeless scourge that was his wife Mary could not penetrate the leaden and stark sanctuary of peers. “Came like a chip of wood on that salty water, did Banjo,” he had exclaimed to his constant companion, Big Mike Shigalski. “Flushed out of the tube, riding the waves. Maybe he can go out in a blaze of glory. Huh! Maybe! Maybe not! Not enough fuel to light a lantern. A friggin’ candle. Bless Mary, she can’t see him. Held him like a doll, though, crinkly, like crepe paper. Afraid he’d break up right in her hands. His arms so puny, his legs, sticks and twigs. I was scared of holding him myself. Could lie like a pack of hamburger right in my palm. One of those special four pound jobs, and half it fat at that.” Mike knew the way to get additional rounds, how not to cut a night out in half, how Joe Jobleski turned on his bar stool to look around the room any time one of his four other sons or his daughter Aleksa were mentioned, always seeking approval, nodding in a strange self-centered way, waiting for the odd clap on the back, the soundless clap on the back, approbation, approval in the gesture, words held back as though all in attendance understood the non-speaker, the back-slapper. It was not an emptiness about his friend that was most pronounced to Mike, but the constant dread swirling about him, a threat swinging itself, a pendulum cutting through the air. Trouble or pain waiting to happen, sharp as a knife. The dark eyes under the mass of gray eyebrows, the jaw set as stiff as an anvil back at the shop, did not allow much expression on Joe’s face. Stolid, rock- ribbed. Stubborn might have been said of him, but never to his face. Mike looked at the hulking shoulders he knew were as powerful as his own, riding clean and confident like bareback riders on bones that would never break this side of collision. “Can’t win them all, Joe. You got yourself a handful of giants. The boys’ll do you proud, you can bet on them, and Aleksa...well, no one’s ever going to screw around with her, unless she wants them to, that’s for sure.” A small laugh was punctuation, and afterthought. “Paulie, he’s going to be the best fullback this town has seen since Marion Mottley. He’s got a ton of you in him, Joe, a whole ton. It’ll break out before you know it. And Andy looms like Bronco, only a freshman at that, lots to learn. Coach says he can hardly wait on him. Knees like trip
  • 111. The Path Path to Publication Group 112 hammers. Puts his shoulders where they belong, squared away, downfield all the time, a real North-South runner. No East-West shit for him.” “Yah!” threw in Joe, “and his baby brother won’t even be big enough to make the cheering squad.” “You can’t win them all, Joe. You got to take something like this in stride. It’s not the end of all things Polska.” He smiled a self-effacing smile, felt himself pandering, thought light of it, stared at the neon of the night light above the rear door blaring EXIT, the ring of redness becoming once again, as it did nightly, a mushroom of red, a blare of red that might otherwise be a trumpet of sound. He said, “Shit,” under his breath as if a decision had been made, though he knew he’d go through the same torture time and time again, sucking up. Joe had thought about those things for a long time. Some days and evenings he would sit at the club, if Mike wasn’t around to engage him in useless conversation that always turned on one thing, and think only of how he had been cheated of another robust son. They were his pride and joy, like medallions he could wear at a minute’s notice, extensions of himself, his name now and then in print. Christ. He could feel them in his backbone. And Banjo, the tiny son, the aberration, the anomalous offspring, seeming never to leave the hands of his blind and now utterly sexless mother for the better part of five years, grew slowly and aching as the neighborhood target runt of all runts. Banjo was persecuted, dawn to dusk, hounded, driven, plagued by all those his age, and some even younger. Pinched. Kicked. Bitten. Cussed. Punched. Knocked down. Back pockets ripped wide apart so that the seam of his pants would snap and his drawers would show. No Jobleski ever came to his rescue. Never once. No Paulie or Mike or Andy or Stash. No Aleksa, either. They barely abided him, not wanting to share any of his deformity. Touching surely was sharing. And Aleksa, secretly, down in her stolid, unyielding body, in her man-looking body, behind her deep eyes and Jobleski jaw, behind the air of nonchalance, she was able to evoke at will, hatred of her runty brother, and, absolutely, positively hated her mother for mixing up their places in her
  • 112. Banjo Path to Publication Group 113 womb. She had thought, from the early days when her breasts began to fill, when strange things happened within her and odd delights came sliding and slipping through her, that her mother had placed her in the wrong niche in that dark cavern, on that hidden sea, carried her in the wrong place, gave to her brother, Banjo, the body that was supposed to be hers. “I hate the two of them,” she would mouth deeply while in the shower, her lips curling her testament, her hands finding secrets, sources of electricity, discovering that proportion and graceful symmetry were not her choice attributes. So Banjo grew, unwanted, unloved, object of utter derision, nearly cast aside from the bosom of the family, held only by the arms of his blind mother, her fingers touching, measuring, finding in the dark silence some of the same pains that the rest of the family found; and, held by Aunt Stacy only when men of the house were away or Banjo would slip over to her house for a visit, for cookies, to have her rub his feet and little legs for hours on end, as if the chilblains worked in him. Stories would fall from her red dialectal mouth until he fell asleep. Dreamed about her red mouth he did, how it was wet but vise-like, the way it held the bare tip of a cigarette for hours on end, dangling, bringing now and then a smile— the final curve to her lips. Plague is a word and a condition that is long apart from us, long apart from Jobleski and the tenor of their times. Except for Banjo. Somewhere in his sixth year, the runt, the family failure, the blot on their fair horizon, tired of the pounding, tired of the smashing, tired of the soreness almost a permanent part of his body, began to hit back. Oh, Lord, Banjo began to kick. Began to punch. Began to stand against the armory that gathered in all the other Jobleskis. He fought tooth and nail their fingers in his ribs, their knocking- rapping fists on his skull, their aimless but aggregate punishment, their name-calling and diatribes, the jokes about Tom Thumbs and little peckers and dwarfs and pygmies and midgets and half-grown jockeys, the incredible allusions to the blind woman who had carried and delivered him, the distances they tried to put between themselves and him, the endless assault against kin.
  • 113. The Path Path to Publication Group 114 More than once, he believed himself kinless, stray, urchin, orphan. But rising in his small and abject frame, like it did in cubs or pups coming eventually of age, predators at length at their appointed places, came courage and an ingenuity and a will to survive that belied such territory. Paulie: “The first time you put your dick in, kid, you’re going to fall right through. Balls out you’re going, right on through. They’ll be looking for you for a month of Sundays and nobody in high heaven will be able to find you. Don’t let go, Banjo. Don’t ever let go the last cunt hair you grab onto because it might be the last lifesaver you’ll ever know. If you go down that long tunnel, kid, you’ll never come back. What the hell would we do without you? Why we’d be friggin’ lost. That’s where we’d be. No more friggin’ punching bag, no more little shit of shits to make our days. You can count on that. We’d be lost without you. Can you imagine it, the runt adrift on a cunt hair and never seen again!” A rock the size of a baseball suddenly off Paulie’s head. A knob just as big coming along shortly thereafter. Another rock and another hit and Banjo escaping under a fence, his route secret and sacred and plotted well in advance. He’d show them a thing or two. He’d bust balls or die trying. Pursuit would be over in minutes, he knew. They could never catch him, never go the places he went, never put themselves through the smallest slot or space where only light had gone before him. And under Aunt Stacy’s rear porch, tight up against the decking, he slipped into and through the smallest fissure of all, letting himself into a sanctuary of stone that no man had entered since it was sealed for structural safety. A root cellar long passed over and forgotten, buried under the addition of the wide screened porch. His Shangri-La. His oasis. Twenty-one square feet of bliss and darkness. When he slipped down to the familiar floor, felt his secrets and collectibles, touched the skins of their miniature bodies, inhaled their steep and lovely aromas he had refined with sprays and perfumes stolen from innumerable sources, when in that darkness he could almost see the eyes of each one of the dolls, he said his prayer, as if it were an entry code, curse of passwords: “When the time comes, when the whole wide world knows the great Jobleski brothers are just doll collectors, they’ll
  • 114. Banjo Path to Publication Group 115 shit their Jobleski pants from one end of town to the other. I’ll see to that. I’ll show ‘em.” Andy: “Let me settle it right up front, kid. Something is out of whack here, way out of line, like the milkman coming up the steps when he should have been going out with the empties. Fell on the old dame on that friggin’ couch and she never knew the difference, milkman or drunk at prongin’, makes no never mind to the blind except in the final counting. Could probably tell the difference in your bone structure or fingerprints. If you ever get the red-eye, why, we’ll know for damn sure. Christ, he used to look at me sometimes and I thought he was going to set me on fire. Hated empties that were dirty, cluttered with white sop and stinking with sour milk. Hated to stoop when any one of us was within fifty feet of him, the lazy bastard! Hated every goddamn one of us! Hated every Polack this side of Warsaw, and them there just as much. Just a shanty Irish bastard with the awful red eye who you might be looking back on one good day like you owe him special. Rootstock from the grand island of eternal sotted souls, and all that diminutive crap that goes with little people. For that’s just what you are, one of the fuckin’ little people only drunks own up to.” Andy’s creamy white, almost delicate Ford hard-top, shiny, sun-catching, spit-polished like the elite in military circles, chromed grille sole residue of a Packard nobody had seen in thirty years, suddenly sitting on four flat tires, a dead chicken floating above the front seat with his neck still twisted in that final knot, a slowly running hose caught up by a rear window tight against the upper edge and yet pouring a second cubic yard of water into that yawning cavern. Stash: “You were probably adopted and she didn’t have the heart to tell you, once you began to grow—or not grow, fact is. Never told one of us either. Was her painkiller, you were, her mighty small aspirin, killjoy, all in one. When you bleed, the blood’s not the same. Take it from me.” Stash’s Ted William’s card, the Splendid Splinter, Terrible Teddy, .406 and balls out for the batting title like nobody else in the whole world would have dared, went in one hurry to fifty pieces if one. Stan Musial and Red Schoendeinst, teammates, glued together upside down as if they had been having fun in the back of the locker room. Even in that pose, no
  • 115. The Path Path to Publication Group 116 longer of prime value. No longer pristine. No longer neutral in the Polish community all around the Jobleskis, mores forevermore different. Potato Man Yaz, Long Island Yaz’s card split up the gut. Whitey Ford, rookie card, face of a newborn, gutted dead center. Aleksa: “She cheated you and she cheated me. You could have had these arms, these shoulders, these wrists born for swinging, for driving balls to dead center on a line. I could have been you and you could have been me, but no way was she going to do that, so we’re stuck, me here in this weight lifter’s garb and you there in your pygmy pants. We’re going to be locked up here forever and she’ll have a last dream of us as we might have been. If we count our blessings, we’ll be in the minus column, and you know it as well as me. She played a rotten goddamn trick on us.” Run up on the flag pole, standing like a singular white birch of lonely beauty in the front yard of the Jobleskis’ house of odd additions and strange angles, for all the world to see on the following morning was just about every unmentionable Aleksa’s chest of drawers would yield. Slapping in the breeze were assorted bras, black to flesh colored, pockets turned out to the wind, stringed, wired, strapped, all making as much noise as the underdrawers and panties and plain old fashioned snuggies that lay straight out on the taut rope. Body messages. They talked on the wind. They spilled secrets. Body remnants. Portions of her loose on the world. Cups filling now and then with masses of air. Bloomers for bare seconds stuffed with the shape of her more than ample ass, all the odors gone, all the aromas tossed freely to clouds and other spirits of the air, discolorations and other stains still hard in some crotches. Burning clean out of her skin, cursing at the top of her lungs the language stolen from the backroom of the PAMVETS, pounding up and down stairs and in and out of each room of the house, she sought her runty brother. “I’ll kill that goddamn runt, that little shit poke. I’ll kill the little bastard! If anyone gets in my way, he gets it, too.” Banjo, of course, had long since departed, slipping out of the house just before 2 A.M. as quietly as he had slipped into her room, rifling her secrets, and slipping just as noiselessly into
  • 116. Banjo Path to Publication Group 117 Aunt Stacy’s unknown sanctuary, hiding a pair of autographed panties, Aleksa indeed would kill for, in a pocket of fieldstone. Banjo thought about his loot and his articles of revenge often enough, how to widen his collection, how to strike the most deadly blow. But he always stayed away from the football trophies of his brothers, a mass of gold and silver and mahogany wood adorned with running backs and stretching ends and bruising tackles at deadly mission. These mementos would, he knew, be the most fitting salute of all. None of his family could ever approach his thoughts, his calculations, his absolute deviltry. Every punch, every kick, every slap had its due. It was all coming around again. What goes around comes around. It made him smile a small smile. Disparity in life can be ennobled. In the dark hideaway he slept peacefully. He slept there many times over the next few years, there, or upstairs in the house with Aunt Stacy who loved to have him over. She couldn’t stand the others, even Aleksa, at least not for very long. She found them too cruel and too boring and, in spite of their obvious strengths, to be too weak at will. The first ally of Banjo would have been this quiet woman who wore a little too much rouge, a lipstick perhaps two shades too dark for her face, the clothes of a woman who had no one man to live up to, to please, but delighted in many acquaintances. That she loved Banjo who was important to her and to her blind sister. One was a springboard and one was a sounding board, and at the core of their relationship they had made the puny little boy become a puny little man, the secret of their existence. They did not live for each other, but for him. And when Mary died in her sleep one night as Banjo was approaching his sixteenth birthday, him still plagued, still persecuted, still a virgin and the lone one in the family, Aunt Stacy was impetuously proud of his survival, all the facets of it. “That little man of mine,” she would say to herself, “will outlast all of them.” And in the periphery of her hearing, at the edges of her memory, all the castigation and curses they had hurled down upon him came back to her with incredulous clarity. Too often the broad-shouldered, big-armed, thick-skulled hulks had centered their attacks on Banjo’s male equipment: His dick’s so small any chick’d say he had no visitation rights...even after he had been there. D’ja see the size of his balls? Like peas they are,
  • 117. The Path Path to Publication Group 118 or IT is, the last ball remaining from the master set. Pea-Ball is what we shoulda called him, or Pea-Balls Minus One, or Pendulum Without Affair, or Who Gives A Shit Anyway. They had all laughed and back-slapped and hoisted off another drink, and Stacy, in her cool aura, not batting an eyelash over her rouged cheeks, managed a slow interior laugh and said under her breath, “Watch your ass, Stash. Remember what happened last time!” Two days after Mary was buried, Banjo sat in front of the library thinking about his mother, how horrible the funeral had been, how much crap and derision was still tossed in the air by the whole family, as if she had been a simple hired hand, a maid servant, a ball of lint which had just blown through their lives. Her hands had been soft and warm and the tears on her cheeks were forever pearl full of special light, and none of them ever could tell him that his mother’s eyes were lifeless. The pearled tears were special, jewels they’d never seen, but he would carry them always—he’d even carry them in the growing and continually fermenting hunger and desire to bring to them the ultimate pain. Inside the library, he saw the tall blonde sitting off in a corner. She had been there before, at the same table, a little lax about how her dress rode up on her thighs, long and valley-like, a summons, the mystery of her crotch seeming to call out to him. He prayed she would not cross her legs, and took a seat with the surest tunnel of vision possible. Black or purple panties, he decided. Black or purple. His favorite colors. Now and forever. Every so often a squeeze of one thigh or the other, or both in concert, and the dark image would narrow, gap down, slink, like a wondrous eye winking at him. Back to him came a choice reading and some author he’d never remember, talking about The Seven Cities of Cibola, or The Mound of Venus, or the graffiti he’d seen on a wall once, When you come right down to it, guys, there’s nothing like cunt. She was the Dorothy he’d been dreaming about, singing that song that haunted his nights, brought pictures of her all frousy and tussled and singing the song about the rainbow, his mind caught in her grasp, him saying it again and again, “Over the rainbow, Dorothy. Over the rainbow. That’s where we’ll go, far off, in our own place somewhere over the rainbow.”
  • 118. Banjo Path to Publication Group 119 It was like a prayer for him. He lay the atlas of the whole United Sates of America and all its territories over his lap to hide his erection, and liked himself at that particular moment because he’d never allow any of his brothers’ or father’s aspersions about penis or testicle, or lack thereof, or the small bunch of his ass to come back to taunt him. He could now cast them over the side as if he were throwing out an anchor in the middle of the river. Intent on that long vision, driving his eyes past the faint barrier that lay at the end, purple or black it didn’t matter now, he flinched when her white thighs locked up completely, then opened slowly, oh ever so slowly, like the drawbridge over the river when a grand yacht was heading out to the lake. A pair of deep green-gray eyes was staring at him. In his chest he caught more than an ounce of breath. The erection might sound out a warning alarm. It came up so hard against, he guessed, South Dakota. That made him smile, and that smile, South Dakota and all, made its way across the room to the warmest reception this side of Aunt Stacy. She didn’t move her legs again. The thighs stayed white. Her look was soft and appealing. His erection burned. The book in her hand was raised so that he could see the title, DREAMS WE DON’T UNDERSTAND. A light went on at the back of his head and it brought another dimension of smile to his face. A smile, a wider smile, came back to him. He thought his pecker was going to explode; there’d be a Minuteman Missile going up from one of the silos near Bismarck or Lincoln, whichever one of those cities belonged in South Dakota. He could never remember. He’d never forget this smile coming across the silence of the library, across the deep red rugs, moving its aura on air already filled with aura. Nor would he ever forget the most personal signature ever sent his way, from Dorothy’s own hand. Outside, in ten minutes, they found that their fathers had named each of them with some deviltry, or rancor, for unknown reasons. Banjo was explained, and she was Eloise Abelard, a joke of her father’s, she was sure. “My mother cut him off at three months of her pregnancy and I think it was his way of getting back at her with sarcasm if nothing else. I don’t think they ever slept together again, each going at the other in their own way. I didn’t like growing up.”
  • 119. The Path Path to Publication Group 120 “So here you are talking to the smallest guy in the library on the street in the whole town practically, maybe even this side of South Dakota.” He looked at her with clear eyes. “What’s that mean?” He told her. She laughed as he had heard no one ever laugh, throaty, honest, without any crap or flip in it, no phoniness, just plain laugh. It had fur on it. It warmed him. He told her. She said that she had seen him before, had seen him looking up her dress, had been warmed by it, flushed but warm. “You have the whitest thighs in the whole world. I can play anything with strings.” His eyes were so clear she could have been startled. She should have been startled. Clarity is precious, she thought. So much in her life had not been clear, but this was special. She had a vision of what his life must have been like. Pain came on her. It was in his aura and she felt it. But he didn’t bring any of it to hurt her. He came at her clean and clear, out of crystal. The real pain was disparate, separate. “Your eyes say you’ll never lie to me.” Her hand was in his. “You’ve music hands.” They saw each other just about every other day, at the library, at the edge of the river, back on the hill out behind the Evert’s Florist Shop and flower gardens. He kept her away from the Jobleskis. She kept him by her side. They had their intentions. She was seventeen. He was sixteen. She was 5’ 6’’. He was 5’1 & 7/8" stretched out, proud, not minding his height for the first time, not sworn to revenge, not filled with plans for coping and getting even for the constant transgressions. One day, just about at the top of the hill after a slow meandering walk, a faint mist cutting across the sunset, a bird calling uphill, smell of new grass making them heady, she took his hand and put it on her breast. “I’ve been dying for you to touch me,” she said. “I’ve been practicing on myself, but it’s not like this. I like this. Here,” she gestured, “go underneath. Touch my nipple.” She took his hand with her hand, fire must have been at it, and slipped it inside her bra. “Be easy.” Her lashes came down over her eyes. Mouth open. Lips red as a forgotten sunset. Moist. Shiny. A breath catching itself in her throat. If she told an absolute outright lie he’d believe her until the very end of the world came throbbing under them. “I love you, Dorothy,” he said.
  • 120. Banjo Path to Publication Group 121 She laughed a little laugh, her chin shaking lightly, because he had told her everything. He could not lie to her and she knew it. “Maybe tomorrow we’ll get to Louisiana,” She said with a huge grin. “That must be past the rainbow, on the far side.” Both of them laughed long and loud, tears in their eyes. He saw his mother’s tears on Eloise’s cheeks. True crystal. Gems. Life! He took his hand away from her risen nipple, which had stayed against his palm as certain as a nail halfway through its job. The bird called back up the hill waiting for an answer. Grass continued to be cut somewhere over the hill. Any pain in the world he could stand. He had come this far in life and it had all been worth it. Clear across the library again he saw her white thighs. Perhaps he might tell Aunt Stacy about her. Maybe he wouldn’t. Maybe she was just for him forever. A bird answered. More cut grass news came on the wind. Fuck Stash and Andy and Mike and Paulie. Even fuck Aleksa. Fuck the old man. Now, his world was different. A week later, all the Jobleskis but Banjo at the Flag Day picnic in the PAMVET’s grove beside the river, Eloise and Banjo slipped through the back door of the house. “They’re all gone, Benjy?” She looked around and felt the pain flowing about her. An old wound rode about in the air, a cry. “Why did we come here, Benjy?” “I wanted it to be here because of my mother. You remind me of my mother. Your hands are so warm.” He took her down to the den. She saw shelves so heavy with trophies they made her eyes blink. Gold and silver and stained wood and colored enamels and plastic inserts and the family name repeated endlessly, and a great variety of athletes in poses cast in cheap metal. None of them, she knew, were Benjy’s. There would be justice, she thought. Laying back on the couch, almost giddy, loving the daring he placed them in, the idea of sharing consuming her, her legs out in front of her, longer than they had ever been, she said, “Benjy, put your hand under my panties. Go easy. I’ll tell you what I like. You tell me what you like.” His fingers felt the thick hair, then softness, then mystery, then depth, then more mystery, then a little knob she introduced him to, then more moisture than he had dreamed. He kissed her and her mouth opened like Ali
  • 121. The Path Path to Publication Group 122 Baba’s cave. “We’re going to call this Going to Louisiana. But don’t laugh and don’t stop what you’re doing, and a little harder and a little faster if you want, and if you like it.” And his mind was going to explode and every pain he ever felt in his life was long gone and her legs opened wider and he saw all that whiteness and his mouth was dry and he couldn’t swallow. Then he heard the funny sound, from another room, and raised a finger to his lips, and moved away from her and slipped quietly from the room. The hand that clapped over his mouth, the arm that squeezed his body as hard as a vise, the other hand that slammed under his crotch and lifted him a meek feather into the air, had to be a Jobleski arm. He could not see, but he could smell a Jobleski. His voice was stuffed back into his mouth and he was carried from the house. “Old Pea-Balls, you’re going under cover.” It was Stash and a fist hit him on the side of the head. He was being carried over one hip like a frigging rag doll. Hatred surged and seethed in him. The whole coming scene ran through his mind in a mere second, then he was slammed into the trunk of Stash’s car and the trunk door slammed down on top of him. Buzzing ran through his head. Darkness clawed its way into his eyeballs. “You, prick.” He screamed, “I’ll kill you. I’ll kill you, you rotten son of a bitch.” But he didn’t scream for long or hate for long or waste his time for long because Eloise was out there with him. He had to get out. Stash, with quickness, perhaps expertness, had surprised Eloise. Had pinned her down on the couch where her dress was still up over her hips. “So you were going to screw the midget, huh? I’ll show you what a real piece is, honey baby. A real piece.” He tore her pants off in one stroke. “You scream and I’ll kill that little shrimp. You got it? And you’re going to do some other tricks, too. Tricks I bet he never knew anything about.” “Please don’t do this.” She didn’t want to scream. His hand was down there in Louisiana and a shudder went through her body. He began to explore slowly with that hand. His mouth came down over hers, yawning and wet and full of booze residue. She didn’t know what it was but knew she would remember the smell of it all her life.
  • 122. Banjo Path to Publication Group 123 She didn’t hear any sound. She only felt the abrupt and violent shudder that went through her attacker. Then he went limp on her, all his weight against her the way she had dreamed a thousand times, a thousand touches, a thousand reaches in classrooms, at the kitchen table, even in church. And Banjo stood over the two of them with a baseball bat in his hand and the ugly echo of provoked flesh and bone still sounding in the room. They walked out of the house, past the car with one rear door open and the back of the rear seat pushed away from the clips that had held it in place. He did not say a word, just kept moving her away from the house, and the hatred and the seething and the mechanics of revenge fully operational in him. That night, high on the hill, after he had entered her at her request, after she had argued with him for hours and moved his hands on her body and touched him as he had never been touched, they made plans to leave town. They’d go to a cousin of hers more than two hundred miles away. They’d never come back. They’d be together forever. Later, Banjo thought long and hard down in his dark retreat, Aunt Stacy overhead, telling company how much she liked her sex and what parts she liked the most. He thought about Eloise and then about a TV show on the wild dogs of Africa and how the runt of a litter had been given the hardest time of all and had finally walked away and died, the broad savanna flung out beyond the fallen body like space beyond a star. The image crushed him. The sadness of it all came over him with an extraordinary force, as whole episodes of his life came flooding back through the tight quarters of the old root cellar. And out of the clear blue sky came a vision of one of the old Minuteman missiles deployed across the north Central States, their huge silos extending like inverted skyscrapers down into all of Mother Earth, peckers screwing the old dame for all she was worth. The clarity Eloise had seen in his eyes was in his head; he saw everything he wanted to see, needed to see, how all of it would come to pass. And on the Fourth of July to boot! In salute of everything grand and beautiful and majestic from sea to shining sea.
  • 123. The Path Path to Publication Group 124 Remaining out of sight while any Jobleski was at home, he came back to the house on days only when it was empty, all of them at work or at school or practice for one team or another. He loosened the metal cover that had been placed over the old well in the back yard, the well Paulie had fallen into one day and would have drowned if Aleksa had not screamed the alarm. Making trip after trip, he lowered his special equipment and supplies into the well, cans and other containers of every odd description, all without covers, supporting everything by ropes from the flanged bar across the opening and just under the metal cover. Working assiduously, without help from any quarter, much as his life had been spent except for his mother and Aunt Stacy in the occasional breach, Banjo Jobleski primed the engines of revenge. They had all gone to the PAMVET’s grove for the Fourth of July picnic and beer blast, Joe the father, stalwart daughter Aleksa and sons Paulie, Andy, Mike and Stash, still wearing from a mysterious source the ugliest of bruises and swelling. He could have been hit by a car or lightning. Nobody knew and Stash wasn’t telling. Somehow, most everybody who had known the Jobleskis over the years realized that inexplicable causes and happenings could be attributed without failure to one Benjamin Arthur Norman Jobleski, shrimp, midget, pygmy, dwarf, Peckerless, Pea-Ball, Shite Poke, ad infinitum, though such attributes were not openly discussed near Jobleski muscle. So, while the beer flowed and prowess was being heaved on the air and broad backs were being clapped and slapped and a hundred hands would be run up under a hundred skirts even before dusk fell, Banjo came out of the vast savanna he had retreated to and went about his work. All the trophies, every last one of them, collected from the den and sundry bedrooms and out of closets and eventually from the cellar, like a rich vein had been found, were placed in the living room. Every bra and pair of underpants that Aleksa owned, except those that she was wearing at the picnic, were draped over and around the aggregate trophies, as if a window decorator had been employed. Next came from hidden places about the house every smashed instrument from which he had once extracted music, the clutter of ruin, the remnants made by Jobleski boots, the denial of dreams. Finally, deferring to age
  • 124. Banjo Path to Publication Group 125 and for no other reason, the old man’s collection of anagrams and puzzles and acrostics and acronyms were placed across the front of the exhibit. Banjo looked down at odd papers and read the acronyms the old gent had come up with for a variety of causes: ROMEO’s, for the older guys who gathered each Tuesday morning for breakfast at Sarah’s Diner, Retired Old Men Eating Out; ABRACADABRA, still a mystery, but not worth spending these last minutes on BANJO in letters as broad and stolid as any he had ever seen, now faded and diminished on what was most likely the original paper, a memento of rancor saved for history. He thought of his mother’s tears and how he’d never know the full extent of her pain, because all her pain must have been much more than his. After all, he had survived, hadn’t he? Outside, leaving the house for the very last time in his life, he walked all around the edge of the building, another one of the large cans tipped on his hip. He used a number of them, tossing the empties and near empties down in the well, careful not to hit any of his hidden assets still hanging by ropes. He took another piece of rope from another full can and laid it out from the house and played the other end down into the depths of the well. The crude metal cover was put back on top of the well and bolted down, drawing down the four nuts with a ratchet wrench. The wrench gleamed its stainless steel brilliance on the rust- colored cover when he placed it perfunctorily on top. It was odd how the wrench caught in gleaming silver the last of the sun, as if it meant to hold on to the day for as long as it could. He hummed to himself. Memorialized. Memorable day. Fourth of July. Sea to shining sea. The Fat Lady singing. Sousa. Cohan. Kelley. Cagney. Connaughton Kate. Benjamin Arthur Norman Jobleski. The world, amen. From a pod of dolls, as if they were swimming atop one another in boxes, arms out, legs back, heads down, he took one at a time, those he had long collected and hung them in trees and scattered them as shot residue on Jobleski ground for all the world to see. Barbie dolls and cry baby dolls and Ken dolls and wetting dolls and sucking dolls and balliky dolls, every one that had ever fallen under his hand for reasons he never knew and, only now, fully understood. Then, cool and collected and without any remorse at all, the tears gone, the pain gone, he knelt
  • 125. The Path Path to Publication Group 126 and flipped a switch on a device he had rigged and walked off into the broad savanna, off into that space beyond the star. He was walking away from the whole brood. On his own two legs, and walking away, heading for the other side of the great arc, maybe all the way to Louisiana. That other runt dog of the TV had walked a short ways into that endless space and staggered and finally fallen on his side. There had been no ceremony. No yapping. No sniffing or final licks from any of the others. But he was walking away, all the way across that broad savanna. The pearls on his mother’s cheeks came back to him abruptly, then disappeared forever. Benjy Jobleski and Eloise Abelard were two miles away, getting a ride from a salesman on his way to Harrisburg, when over the hill behind them, back toward town, a redness of fire filled the evening sky with a sudden clarity, and Banjo’s wondrous collection of gasoline and cans and metals of every sort, and odd cases of shotgun shells and bullets and an uncounted number of stolen sticks of dynamite, and old powder wrappings and odd combustibles and exquisite fire and conflagration itself and dozens of the most special trophies of all that his brothers had been awarded, went absolutely haywire in his own Minuteman Missile silo and straight up from the precincts of hell. Mini Outhouse by Ina Goodling
  • 126. Golden Gate Bridge Path to Publication Group 127 D.E.Z. Butler The Golden Gate Bridge The very best thoughts I have had were about my father being part of the huge grouping of humanity the day the Golden Gate Bridge opened. The date was May 27, 1937. He was born in 1924 so my father was 13 years old when it was open to the public. He had told me about the excitement he felt as he walked across the bridge for the first time while being one of hundreds that were first walking side by side with him. He was still thrilled about that crossing of the bridge and you could feel his excitement when he told me in the 1950s about it. It had been one of the best moments of his young life. He told me the entire bridge glistened. The people walking could smell the fresh paint as they went from the south side to the north side of the expansion. I was just a child and wanted to know every detail that he could remember and I begged him to tell me about the bridge each Sunday when we went to San Francisco to see my grandfather. Each time my father told the story he remembered another detail left out from the last story. I could not get enough of his memories and the fact he had been one of the first to cross. I wish it had been me. My grandfather had taken him and he also crossed the bridge. Although he was not as enthusiastic about the walk as my father was. Now move forward to the 1980s. The fog and cars and accidents on the bridge have made it a safety concern. The toll costs went up and it seems there were and they are always painting the bridge. It is in constant upkeep mode. This night I had some of my father’s memories in my head but mostly I had the memory of the asphalt being damp; and this was nothing new. But for me it was part of my focus. I was glad there was no fog. The fog made the bridge more
  • 127. The Path Path to Publication Group 128 dangerous. The bridge is always damp but with fog you have to drive very slowly across it. Few, if any, cars were on the road at 3am. I was driving into San Francisco to see a friend; as I remember it, there was some minor emergency that could not wait. The Golden Gate Bridge does not have many lanes. In recent years they have had some construction and placement of lanes differently, but, overall, the lanes are few. When you are going into San Francisco you pay a toll. Leaving San Francisco toward Marin County you cross over the bridge toward a long tunnel that has an arch and no toll is taken. In the 1960s it has been told that the hippies in the area wanted the arch painted. These people with love in their hearts and minds got their way and the overhead arch was painted. But if you were entering the tunnel from the north side, the Marin County side, going south into the tunnel there is no scene or paint over the arch. This was a long time before any gay movement was prominent. Yes, they wanted the arch to have a rainbow over it. As history begins the paint went on the arch and a rainbow was born. A rainbow that was painted and still is repainted, when needed. An arch that everyone goes underneath every time they want to go north and away from San Francisco and off the bridge. MarinScope Sausalito Historical Society The Rainbow Tunnel shines on October 31, 2013; online story and only two paragraphs After the portals to the tunnels took on the spectrum of the rainbow, legends that seem to die hard sprang up about hippies sneaking out in the middle of the night to surreptitiously apply the paint. After all, the age of flower-power and psychedelic color schemes was at its peak. The fact that no crew could have done the work in a single night didn’t seem to keep that legend from spreading. Caltrans’ Jeff Butte and his Richmond/San Rafael Bridge Painting Crew did the work in September and October of 2009 at a cost of about $142,000 for the 3,000 hour job. That included a dozen painters and a half-dozen person lane closure / traffic control crew. In all, almost 10,000 square feet of surface outside and within the tunnels were coated.
  • 128. Golden Gate Bridge Path to Publication Group 129 In most circles, now, of people that are gay; the rainbow is a trusted symbol of clubs and posed as part of stationary, tee- shirts, etc. to be part of that social circle. Only in those days it was a reflection of the wealth of Marin County that everyone was supposed to be part of and have. If gay anything was a symbol as part of the hippie movement, I doubt that rainbow had anything to do with being gay. It was just a reflection of the times. The hippies loved colors. The fact it could not be done in a single night does not keep the folklore from spreading. The rainbow meant a gorgeous countryside was at the end of the tunnel. That pot of gold that Irish tales come from which children love to hear before they fall asleep may be found on the other side of the tunnel. Even Sir Francis Drake’s gold could be found in Marin County. Historians say he landed in Marin and planted his gold somewhere in that county. The rainbow over archway through the tunnels has kept many stories repeated. The rainbow took on a symbol all its own because it was alive with color and predicted a safe drive through the tunnel to the other side. These days it is nothing more than something that has to be painted and is expected to be painted and the paint has to come from somewhere. It has become a pictogram that people expect to see when entering Marin County. I was going the opposite direction. The direction where there is no rainbow as you enter the tunnel toward the bridge. This year it was about 1980. I was driving a car with two doors. The color was red and handled well on the bridge. The make of car doesn’t matter; I don’t remember what it was, but; it could have been my Mercury Cougar with the red Cordoba leather seats. One of my very favorite vehicles I had over the years. The driver’s seat was full of comfort and went back and forth with ease, because a left side button moved me forward or backward. Even up and down as I recall. Pure luxury; for this girl who had been use to “beater” cars for years as the standard car in the driveway. Even the windows were electric. I was in heaven when driving this car. On this night I was driving away from the arch and tunnel. My seat was in a perfect position and I had the driver’s side window down. It must have been summer. The air was clear with a minor chill to it. I wondered if it was raining or
  • 129. The Path Path to Publication Group 130 had rained or would rain. Summer in that area is always unpredictable. The fog makes everything wet. From my years as a store detective I just have a habit of watching everyone and everything as I drive down the road. I was a person who always had my eyes looking to see what was happening around me. There was a little haze, not much. I saw headlights coming from the opposite side of the bridge. I had just entered the bridge. The car coming in the opposite direction was small and driving slow. Very close to the railings. I wondered why it was driving so slowly. I looked behind me to see if another car was behind me. No. I was the only car on the bridge with this slowing car on the opposite side of the bridge from me. It was a sports car that had a top to it that could be taken off or put down. This night it was up. Suddenly the car stopped and a thin man got out of the car. I was in the lane next to the railings on my side of the bridge. He stared at me and all I could do was think the unthinkable. He was going to jump. His face was white. I wondered if it were makeup. Then I knew it was his soul leaving his body before the jump. I slowed my car down and looked again behind me to see if I was the only car, and yes, I was the only car. His face was transfixed to my eyes. I began to say something out my window, but before I could say anything or open my car door he was over the side, and, I even listened for the splash. Such a stupid thing to listen for a splash; we were too high to hear something like that. His car door was left open. He was gone in a split second. Just the car left behind. I was the last person this man had seen or would ever see in his life. But the face, his white face haunted me the rest of the way across the bridge. I sped up to tell someone, anyone at the toll teller’s cage what had happened. I was becoming more urgent in my driving to get to the end of the bridge. When I got to the teller I told him what I saw and he said they already knew. “Already knew”? I should have known cameras were on the bridge for the jumpers. But his face was what I wanted to really tell someone about. Over the many years the Golden Gate Bridge has been erected since ‘37; there have been many jumpers or accidents. The bridge has many historical facts and figures relating to
  • 130. Golden Gate Bridge Path to Publication Group 131 deaths. This was just another death to the “toll man”. To me it was the beginning of my imagination that there is one ghost or one soul that haunts the bridge. A soul so malevolent, that it takes random people when it wants to; and at times when the bridge is at its most quiet time. Meaning I could have been the person taken that night. Me and him or just me; those actions were possible if my theory was correct. Maybe it was one of the workers who died when building the bridge. My mind went up and down with what was real and what was false as I continued to my friend’s house. Yes, the rest of the night I was telling my friend what had happened and then it was time to go back over the bridge. Time to leave his house had come and a little part of me wanted to stay in San Francisco. We did not even go over all his issues. My shock was taken more seriously and actually helped my friend get over whatever his issue was at that time in the forefront of his mind for him. I didn’t want to see or pass by the location where the man got out of his car and jumped over the rail. No. I did not want to get in my car. Courage and the fact that I had to go home came over my being. I left the home of my friend and began the trek back to my home. Then I thought that maybe the ghost wanted me but couldn’t get me when it got “him”. “Him” the jumper; the thin man with the overcoat and face of white, who suddenly thought it a good idea to jump; I didn’t tell my friend about the ghost part. He would laugh, people would laugh if I told about my idea it was a ghost that wanted company and took this man out of his car and helped him jump. Now I was concerned over my own safety. Was the ghost still up? Silly thinking but possibly a reality; who knows when ghosts sleep or even if there was a ghost involved. The facts were this: I saw a face of white over the man’s face; I saw him slowly coming to a complete stop and open the car door; he was almost to the end of the bridge; he stared at me; and then he flew over the railings of the bridge. Those were the facts. Could I have stopped him? No. I began to open my car door but he was gone before the latch clicked on my car. The mind carries many imaginations and thoughts about “what ifs” and “what not’s”; after an uncommon experience. And in my mind there was a flurry of dumb and not so dumb thoughts.
  • 131. The Path Path to Publication Group 132 The feeling of shock when you see someone die is real. How long it lasts is up to the person. I did not want to be in shock or fear. I rationalized the person was not well and wanted to commit suicide. He had chosen the iconic symbol of the Golden Gate Bridge from which to do it. I was just there. I was not part of his suicide until he looked at me. It seemed as if he looked for a whole minute. For that minute I thought he might ask for help. Maybe his car was broken. Perhaps he was out of gas. The entire scene was playing in my head in slow motion, because it had been in slow motion as I watched him. No thoughts of ghosts or mysterious figures entered my mind at the time. I just slowed down to and wondered if he needed help. Of course he needed help. The kind I was not able to give. He really needed someone and I was there but could do nothing and I was somewhat paralyzed from yelling at him to stop and wait. This was what I found troubling. The shear desperation of the situation that I was powerless in and a scene I never wanted to see again. Now as an adult I wondered what my father would have done if he were the only person on the bridge and in the vicinity of this man. I knew. Yes, I knew. My father would have ran over to him and tried to stop him. He wouldn’t have hesitated. My father may not have even looked to see if other cars were coming. He was brave and helped anyone who needed it. He would have known what the white was over his face. I just know my father would have known. But me, well I was semi-frozen in place. In my comfortable car and yes, I could have done more. I could have yelled. Where was my voice? Where was my courage? No just thoughts. I wasn’t weak or without a voice. The slow motion was just my imagination. Everything happened too fast and not my father or any other person could have helped this man. I had to live with this and that is what the truth was. There was nothing I could have done, nothing. But I still had to cross the bridge again. My car engine warmed up and I crept slowly toward the bridge. I had to cross it to get home. There were other roads that went too far around to get to my home. Not feasible. I had to cross the bridge. Ghosts or no ghosts, I had to travel down that cold and damp road. The sun was coming up and the early morning dew was glistening over the railings of the bridge. I had an idea to race
  • 132. Golden Gate Bridge Path to Publication Group 133 across and that way no ghost could catch up with me or slow me down. But there were plenty of people crossing the bridge now with their shiny new cars coming from the Marin County side to work in the city. San Francisco had immense job opportunities then and lots of cars had to make their morning commute. The toll charges were less than a dollar in those days. Now I believe it costs five or seven dollars to cross the bridge. But that morning it was not about money or other cars. I just wanted to see one car. The small car on the side of the bridge that I was now on and I wanted to see people searching for his body. I wanted to see that someone other than me cared that this person jumped in the early morning hours. I did not see anyone looking. I did not see any emergency vehicles. Nothing, by the time I got to where his car had been parked I saw that it was gone. All trace of him was gone. The scene of him and me and that moment was now just in my memory. I doubted if even the toll man cared that it happened. In front of me what I did see was the rainbow. That huge colorful rainbow that was painted over the arch I was to drive under and back into Marin County and my home. That is what I saw. It was not Dorothy’s Somewhere over the Rainbow song or rainbow. This was my rainbow and showed me that I was going home. Home to safety and the ghosts or ghost or evil on the bridge did not get me to, that night. I was thinking like a child. It was early morning and I was very tired. For the first time in going under that rainbow I felt as if it were mine. It had turned into hope for me. I wished that the man who jumped had made it to the rainbow arch and back into Marin County. I said a pray for him as I traveled through the tunnel and I honked the horn so luck would find me on the other side of the tunnel. I would be home soon and hold my children tight. God knows and only God knew what a night their mother had. I never looked back to see if he was now there with whatever ghost had taken him that night. My eyes were only looking forward.
  • 133. The Path Path to Publication Group 134 Golden Gate Bridge Golden Gate Bridge. Here are the Facts: The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest span in the world from its completion in 1937 until the Verrazano Narrows Bridge was built in New York in 1964. Today, it still has the ninth-longest suspension span in the world. A few Golden Gate Bridge facts to illustrate its size:  Total length: Including approaches, 1.7 miles (8,981 feet or 2,737 m)  Middle span: 4,200 feet (1,966 m).  Width: 90 feet (27 m)  Clearance above the high water (average): 220 feet (67 m)  Total weight when built: 894,500 tons (811,500,000 kg)  Total weight today: 887,000 tons (804,700,000 kg). Weight reduced because of new decking material  Towers: o 746 feet (227 m) above the water
  • 134. Escape Path to Publication Group 135 Budd Nelson Escape from the Shadows Short Story Who can tell when real cognizance begins, or more over when our memories are real and not the product of what we always have been told or seen in photographs. All he knew was that his first memory was of sitting in the dirt, with his baby sister and some other little children behind an old small apartment building on the poor side of downtown. Yet there were pictures of him, with his mother sitting on a bulldozer somewhere in Kansas, and another one of him being held by his father in front of a small tarpaper shack in the Texas panhandle. They told him that for his first three years, his dad moved them around a lot following concrete jobs and so he believed these things. He liked the old couple who ran the apartment house and was almost sad when they moved across the street into a duplex. It was here he found the small old porcelain ballerina figurine and after cleaning it off, gave it to his mother. There were the trips every weekend to his grandmother (his mom’s mother), in the small rural town where he was born, while his parents went down to where his father was from to fish or hunt. He loved play in the large pasture, fish for crawdads (using pieces of raw bacon tied on a string) or throwing hatchets at the old tree in the pasture. Besides, here he did not get punished every day for something he did or did not do; with a belt, or hand, or switch. His grandfather was a little strange, Grandma’s parrot did not like Grandpa; she even dove at him sometimes. Grandpa would argue with the newsman on television sometimes that would make him laugh to himself.
  • 135. The Path Path to Publication Group 136 He knew he couldn’t do anything right for his father, he had been told that every day he could remember. He was either too slow, or he did it wrong, something. He could not learn to swim, now what kind of boy can’t swim, he must be a coward. He didn’t get into fights like other boys and he smiled way too much, which must mean he was up to something he shouldn’t be doing. The other place he liked was his Uncle Jim (one of his father’s brothers). Mainly because that was where his cousins Lee and Jan lived (they had four other brothers and sisters, but Lee and Jan were his friends). Lee was just a few months older than him and Jan was his sister’s age (about three years younger). Being with either set of grandparents or any of his aunts and uncles was different since they all lived very rural. No one had any indoor plumbing, his grandpa on his dad’s side still heated his house by a huge fireplace and his grandma cooked on a wood stove. Water was drawn out of a well about fifty feet from the house and hand carried to the kitchen in two buckets; you drank out of a metal dipper. The outhouse was on the other side of one of grandpa’s fields; it could be a long run in the winter. All his father’s brothers and sisters were almost the same, no one had running water to their houses, but some had propane to heat and cook on. His uncles had television, even though they only had one good channel to watch and most of the programs were a week or two behind. Everyone bathed in large metal tubs outside, once a week. Grandma made soap on an open fire in a big black iron pot with three legs. Everyone hunted and fished, as such everyone ate some form of wild game or fresh fish at least three times a week, even his family at home. One of the early things you learned was how to catch or kill for food and how to dress it out so you could cook it. Everyone raised some of their own vegetables too and knew how to make fresh homemade biscuits and bread. Just after his fifth birthday, they moved to a house about four blocks away. It wasn’t much bigger than the duplex but at least it was a single house. The man that owned it had another one behind it, though it was a little smaller. There was a bar on the opposite side of the driveway and a junk yard on the other side of the house. It was still in the same area, but he had no idea
  • 136. Escape Path to Publication Group 137 yet that some people would call this the slums, since this was what he thought was more than his relatives had. He started kindergarten at the end of summer and after the first day really enjoyed going to school. He even played Santa Clause in the schools program that year. He made very good grades, but even that did not change the daily whippings from his father for breaking some rule. His mother would just seem sad about it sometimes, but never argued with his father in front of him and his little sister. Since this was a shotgun house there were no doors to close for privacy, except on the bathroom. He and his sister slept in beds in the same room with the dining table and refrigerator. Weekends were the best and when they were at Uncle Jim’s even better. He and Lee would make their own bows and arrows, used sticks for guns and rifles and could play cowboys and Indians, or war to their hearts content, when all the chores of the farm were done. They ran barefoot through the woods chasing each other or as a team against Lee’s older brother and some other cousins. All his cousins lived within a couple of miles of one another and all were farmers and/or ranchers. They all went to the same one roomed schoolhouse and everyone went to the same Freewill Baptist Church. The church was on his great uncle Art’s land, Great Uncle Art had a general store/gas station/post office there all in one building. Because of the post office it was called a town even though there were only five buildings; Uncle Art’s store, his house, the church and two other farm houses across the gravel road; there were no paved roads for ten miles at least, in any direction. His grandfather was not any more openly affectionate or happy than his father and you rarely saw his grandmother smile or laugh, it was a hard life. Grandpa had one hobby, he collected arrowheads and Indian things he found in the places where the Chickasaw and Choctaw used to live; they still lived in towns and on ranches not far away. There was an old fort with some stone barracks still standing close to one of the places they all fished at, and an old Butterfield Stage Stop not far away as well (but it did not have any standing buildings anymore). He and his cousins liked to play around the old fort even though it was still decaying and no one took care of it.
  • 137. The Path Path to Publication Group 138 Camping out to fish when his aunts and uncles were with them was great. He could wander upstream make a frog gig and hunt frogs, or even better rattlesnakes; he really like getting the rattles and the meat tasted pretty good cooked over the campfire. He and Lee would sleep under the stars and could stay up tending the campfire late so it did not go out. One weekend on such a trip he and Lee were in the river playing close to the bank, after they had run the river drop lines for catfish, when he slipped off into the current—into the deep water. Just as he was losing his battle to try to reach the surface, Lee caught his shirt collar and pulled him into the shallower water so he could climb onto the riverbank. When his father found out what had happened, the only thing he said was that was what you got for being too afraid to learn to swim. Over the next few years, nothing much changed, during the week he went to school and made very good grades. There was a short time his older half-brother moved back close to them and worked with his father for a while, he had gotten married and she had two sons from a previous marriage, her older one was the same age as him and they were in the same grade at the same school. His name was Roscoe and they tried to be friends, but Roscoe was not a good student and he liked to fight. So now he had his first real experience with what some might call almost sibling rivalry. Although they did a lot together, they would also antagonize one another and fight about almost nothing. But his brother moved away after only a few months and he never saw Roscoe again. One day when his father got home he asked his mother how he and his sister had been during the day. That particular day his sister had got hold of their mother’s cigarette lighter while their mother was out of the room. She had caught the curtain on fire before his mother saw her and put it out. After hearing this, his father asked about him, when she said he had nothing that day; his father took him out the back door. Once outside his father took off his belt and gave him a whipping saying it was for what he had not got caught doing. A year later during the summer between his fourth grade and fifth grade years they moved again, this time into a house on the edge of the city called the suburbs.
  • 138. Escape Path to Publication Group 139 Right from the start, he knew things were going to be different, during the first week. He met another boy who had moved into his neighborhood during the summer as well. When school started, the local boys had to try and assert themselves on both of the new guys. He did not like to fight so when these altercations happened, it did not matter if he won or lost, there was still bad feelings between him and the ones who had lived there longer. At first this only left the other new boy as a possible friend, which dwindled before too long because, as it turned out this boy liked to fight. It did not help his situation when these other boys starting taunting him because he only bathed once a week (it was how he had been taught and how it had always been that he knew). Even when he started to bathe more often (even though his father did not agree with it) it changed nothing. They also made fun of him because he did not have a bicycle (His father said he did not need one) like all of them, so he and his family must be too poor to live there. So, he began to avoid contact with most of the young people living around him, which only made them act as if he was too weird to know. When he turned eleven, he joined the Boy Scouts of America and this gave him an outlet he needed. Even though a couple of the same locals joined at the same time, they at least found this one activity that they could share with him. His grades in school had suffered at first, but he got over that part in due time and gained back his ability to maintain very good grades. The next year all of them started Junior High at the same time, which meant they all were meeting new boys and girls there at the same time. The two years of Junior High flowed just like the previous two, making good grades in school, advancing in the Boy Scouts (with a couple of Scout friends who went to different schools than he did), joined the school band playing the cornet, but with few close friends at school. The boys who had nothing to do with him in elementary school prevailed here as well and were becoming the popular boys, school athletes, etc. He became so accustomed to being alone by now he didn’t even try to change it. He no longer felt as if he fit in anywhere except with his cousins and at Boy Scouts.
  • 139. The Path Path to Publication Group 140 His grandmother (his father’s mother) died during Christmas break that year while he and his family were staying with them. The day she died, everyone was in other parts of the house doing things and he was sitting by her bed when she took her last breath. He got up as he heard her dead rattle, wiped the spittle from the edge of her mouth then went out and told everyone she had crossed over. Everyone looked at him like he had done something wrong in cleaning her mouth, making sure her eyes were closed and looked peaceful before he came and got them, in truth they had been unaware he was even sitting with her until he came in and said she was gone. By his freshman year and now in high school, the pattern was set. He quit the band mainly because he couldn’t practice enough to get very good (practicing at home was not allowed, it was too loud for his father and detracted from his chores there). The band teacher took him to see the choir director, because his voice had dropped early and he agreed to join the school choir. Then he started working with the audiovisual teacher moving and setting up Televisions and projectors for teachers, which led to getting involved with the drama teacher for stagecraft. Now, one would think that this would lead to more interaction with more new people and friends, not the case. His father really did not like these as activities for a son of his, instead of sports. His two newest friends were not who his father cared for either; one was a new boy there from a single mother (and also not one in sports) who his father thought a “smart alec” and the other was a full blood Chickasaw Indian(quieter but not in sports either). He was also no longer in Boy Scouts due the troop folding and no one ever came to tell he and those boys still showing up for meetings why there was no troop any longer. During this spring, his grandfather (his mother’s step dad) died and the family went to the Texas panhandle for his funeral. On their way home, they were caught in a sand storm so intense you could not see inches outside the windows. They were parked on the road as they were for hours, just hoping they would not be hit by another car still trying to drive. That summer he went to stay with his grandfather (his fathers, father) to try to work on his and some of the farms there, to earn money over his summer vacation. However, one evening
  • 140. Escape Path to Publication Group 141 after supper, while he was playing mumble pegs, outside by himself, his grandfather came storming out of the house yelling at him. His grandfather was yelling that he needed to get more done the next day, and was so angry, that when his grandfather got close to him, he threw the knife he was playing the game with away. This incensed his grandfather even more, who started yelling that he tried to kill him (even though he had thrown the knife in the opposite direction). His grandfather went to one of his uncles close by and called the county sheriff and his father back at home. The deputy who came out yelled at him even more (never asking if he had done it or not) and then told him that his father was coming to get him the next day and he had better not do anything else or he would be taken to jail. His father and mother came, his father talked to grandfather and then they left to drive back home. Not one word was said during the three-hour drive, not even to ask him if he had done it or not. Once home his father exacted the punishment he thought appropriate and told him he would not be going back. He did not go back to anyone’s who lived close to his grandfather. Instead, he was allowed to stay home and work at his father’s company on weekends. His parent’s neighbors would tell them if he did anything to disturb anyone. High school muddled on to graduation without much difference. Although he and his now two best friends (Bob and Cal) did a lot together, they even worked with him for his father, nothing extraordinary happened. He worked, he went to school, he and Cal even had a second job for a while as cooks in an all- night diner. Cal dated a few girls, bob didn’t seem to and he didn’t have much luck with that either. He was never invited to anyone’s parties, and only a few times did he and Cal go out looking for girls. The few he did get acquainted with never seemed to work out. The one that looked different was Lisa, but she was a year younger and her parents did not let her date. They were still an item on graduation day even though they had still never been on a real date. All three of them had enlisted in the Marines before they graduated; it was the only way any of them could ever go to college. Therefore, four days after graduation ceremony they were getting on a plane for boot camp in California. He had
  • 141. The Path Path to Publication Group 142 broken up with Lisa, telling her it would not be fair for her to be tied to him during her senior year and then college with him gone for four years and who knows where he would be. That first night at boot camp; standing in the rain, head just shaved and drill sergeants yelling at them, he wondered what the heck he had done now. The next morning at their first formation he said something wrong, was pulled out of the group, made fun of and an example, where everyone else was doing the pushups instead of him. He was sure he would get a “blanket party” that night, but everyone decided someone had to be first, it just happened to be him. He promised himself he would be a nameless face for the rest of boot camp, and for all the two and a half months, he succeeded except for one time and then it was just he that suffered the punishment. On graduation day from boot camp, they found out that Cal and Bob would be grunts, he was selected to go to electronics school. Therefore, the three parted, Cal and Bob would be in a different ITR than him. A short leave home and he reported right back to MCRD in San Diego for the school, knowing no one, who would be there. Over the next year and half he was there; first basic electronics school, then t and t repair school and as he was finishing that school the base sent out a memo needing MP’s. He and his drinking friend, Hollow, both jumped at the chance to get out of electronics, they had already been told they were doing well enough to go on to the next school, and they were tired of being in schools. He was a good cop, the duty was good and the company was so shorthanded there were no formations or inspections, just duty and time off. Part of it he was chasing prisoners who went AWOL. Hollow, though, had been reassigned already. Then one night while he was sitting in the enlisted men’s club the “Remington Raider” from the company office asked him what he had on the colonel, nothing he had said and asked why. The clerk said because he had gotten his third set of orders for Nam and both the others had been canceled by interaction from the colonel and base general. The clerk did not know why. This made him angry because Bob and Cal had both been sent home from Nam by then by Medevac. He asked for and got an audience with the Colonel and after they talked about his orders,
  • 142. Escape Path to Publication Group 143 the Colonel agreed to let this set stay as they were. With this, he accepted the orders and was scheduled for a short leave before reporting to Staging Battalion at Camp Pendleton for training and then deployment. During leave, he got to see Cal, who set him up with a girl he once knew. As had always happened, there was a spark but it did not burn true, in no time, at all, she was seeing someone else when he wasn’t around and the hurt felt like a raging fire. At Pendleton, he was ushered to another one-month training class, as his old job classification was lost when he joined the MP’s (and there were no longer any MP mos in the Marines). Once this class was over, he started Staging; here he met Glen who, they found out, was going to the same unit he was, west of Danang. On the day he landed at the runway in Danang, he had a short flashback of that thought about “What had he done now”. For the next twenty-seven months (the rest of his time in the Marines), this would be where he was, a tour was thirteen months, but he and Glen would extend twice, before they left here for good. As soon as they got to their unit a week later, they picked up a TAD assignment to Happy Valley, where they stayed for eight months replacing five men that the Corps had to get out of country quickly. During that eight months; he, Glen and three others came under charges for an unauthorized patrol. It had happened when he got word over the radio of a friend being killed by a sniper on a hill nearby. He, Glen and three friends went out on a patrol their Lieutenant did not authorize, they did get who they thought to be the right shooter, but the man was found and it was decided to have a courts martial of all five. The trial never happened, since the district governor (a Vietnamese colonel) heard about it immediately and commended them for swift and just action. The Corps decided to drop all charges. He and Glen both went home on their first extension leave, but it upset their mothers so much knowing they both were returning to “The Nam”, that on their second extension they spent their leave in Australia. All the news back home was so infuriating that when they were due to get their discharges, Glen immigrated to Australia along with a few other men they
  • 143. The Path Path to Publication Group 144 knew. He started to, but wanted to go home first, once he did the idea of immigrating slowly died in him. Once home again, he started to work at whatever he could to make the most at. He was introduced to a woman his age, by a friend of a friend. As things went, she got pregnant and they married and soon after his first was born, she got pregnant again. They did not want any more after this one because it was already apparent that they should not have married, because they had little in common; he still wanted college where she just wanted him to work, he wanted to be able to do things in nature and draw or write, she wanted him to just do things at home or with her family. When she was within six weeks from delivering their second child he had a vasectomy because; she did not want to have a similar treatment while in for delivery of the baby. By the time his second was a year old they divorced very messily. He started college by attending at nights, while he worked over fifty hours a week. During this time, he lost his other grandfather, his mother and his last grandmother. But he continued to live within one hundred and fifty miles of what he considered home, all the way through finishing college. He took a job in the field of his college work and it afforded him the opportunity to travel for work, which at first was very appealing. Over the next ten years he did just that, he traveled some every week, he even traveled on his own time seeing all of the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe for work. He went back and worked with Boy Scouts, especially as his son’s got interested. He was not a monk by any means, but his social skills were still very lacking in his personal life. He was too shy or backward to keep any woman he met happy, he did not make enough money or he had too many interests that they did not care for especially; scouting and none saw any reason he should be writing, “Who do you think is ever going to read something you write”. There is no reason you need to be painting all these pictures, where are you going to keep them? Finally, he just moved, this time fifteen hundred miles away, to New England; changed careers back to construction and tried to start over. This cost him the close interaction with his sons though, they did not care for this new area he lived in and they stopped even conversing on a regular basis. Five years
  • 144. Escape Path to Publication Group 145 later, with nothing much improving, he moved again; this time completely across the country to the West Coast. Here there was another short marriage that ended no better than the first, from all the same types of complaints and issues. He later even gave up his activities with scouting, writing and painting. Over the next twenty years, he concentrated mainly on working. He did enjoy the times he could travel abroad now with people he had met and saw many places he had never been before. His memory now had many tales he could tell, sights he had seen, but always there was this lacking, a lacking he could not conquer. With all these years, with all this exposure to cultures, he still felt like that unimportant, keep from getting hurt, backward, beyond middle age guy women were not going to be attracted to. He stopped traveling, no point any more. When the economy started to crash on the west coast he moved once again, back this time to the central east coast. Once again, to where he knew no one. After about a year he went overseas with work for a while, sure, it had been a combat zone, but so what he had been in those before. When his time was done he came right back, one more country he had seen and lived in for a while. Here he stayed; here he hid out again in plain sight. He could try to change how he was, but, over the years, he had finally come to realize, he liked who he was inside; he was a good man, he thought; cared about things, wanted to give someone a whole lot of love if they just loved him back (just for who he was inside). He would just live as best he knew how, be good to animals, enjoy nature all that he could. Anything else, his history told him, probably was not meant for him. He did not blame anyone except maybe himself, he was too old and knew, women who he could really be interested in would see him for an old guy with a lot of baggage now, too many failed attempts (and that many made him the common denominator for those failures), not stable enough (lived too many places and not enough to show for it by now), the odds of him, after all these years, stumbling into “The One” not very likely. He decided he would just stop thinking about it, might as well get on his computer and write a little or something. He had been in this new town a few months now and the only people he knew were his two older neighbors he talked to outside as he
  • 145. The Path Path to Publication Group 146 came home from work every day. It sure would be nice to have someone to have dinner with, take to a movie or just talk to sometime though. It didn’t happen the first time they emailed one another, nor was it more than a mutual desire actually to meet in person that caused them to meet earlier than they discussed. It was that first sight of her, the beauty in her eyes, that symphony he heard as she spoke those first words, the feel of her as he put his arms around her waist to walk across the parking lot and go inside for coffee that first night. He knew in an instant and felt the same from her. Sure there were those they knew who didn’t believe it at first, but they did. So did everyone they met together for the first time, they laughed at it seeming as if they must have some glow when they were together and they were together all the time. Now with all this time together, that glow and that desire not to be apart had not dissipated, not one tiny bit, in fact it seemed to grow exponentially. Now he could not fathom a life without her and he was happier than he thought he would ever be Lousy Reception by Ina Goodling
  • 146. Therapy Session Path to Publication Group 147 Richard Lloyd Cederberg Therapy Session… Short Story “John, you look really angry today; what’s on your mind?” “Oh Doctor … I feel so maligned. People make fun of me behind my back. They don’t understand me. They don’t understand how I suffer. I feel so alone in this world.” “I see … has this been going on long? “About two years now.” “Do you remember the circumstances in your life when this began; where you were, and what you were doing?” “No Doctor I don’t; my memory is not good. All I know is that now I feel alone, I feel so alone. I have an ache inside from loneliness that never goes away. I feel ugly, I feel worthless; no one understands me. I feel like such a loser! Am I losing my mind?” “It’s doubtful. Perhaps, though, your feelings are deceiving you.” “What!? How can my feelings be deceiving me? It’s the way I feel; like nobody gives a crap!” “Have you ever tried getting out of yourself? You know; giving of your resources and talents to help others? Perhaps doing this occasionally would be salutary and allow you to see yourself from other perspectives. You’ve heard the old saying that it’s ‘better to give than to receive’?” “Now why would I want to do that!? No one respects me; no one helps me, why should I give them anything?” “Helping others, and giving to others, changes your focus. And in so doing you empower a loving spirit to affect
  • 147. The Path Path to Publication Group 148 what you are doing and those you are doing it for. It also affects how you feel about yourself.” “Well … I’ll tell you; I feel like crap about myself! My life isn’t somewhere over the rainbow, doctor, it’s in the here and now. Nobody gives me anything - so why should I ever consider offering something to them?” “Someone has to have the courage to start the process. And it’s a known fact that after doing so it gains momentum by itself. Anyone can be critical of others and alienated. Remember; there is no defense against love, or a kind and wise hand extended.” “I don’t get it … why the hell should it be my duty to give somebody else something they’re not giving me?” “Perhaps because you’re the one complaining. You have a burden that something is wrong and you’re the one looking for answers; this is a good thing. You’ve had a revelation of sorts. Suffering changes our perspective. When you see someone who needs help just offer it to them; you’ll feel better.” “Oh yah right! I’m the one that’s hurting, and instead of getting what I need, you want me to help everyone around me that’s hurting? All people want is their egos stroked. Nobody suffers the way I do.” “I can understand. I would say, though, that the ones who really don’t care would ever have the guts to initiate changes as you seem to be trying to do here. Still though; you can always forsake your God given gifts and crawl into an emotional tomb and live there for the rest of your life; it is an option you know, and a lot of the world does just that.” “Are you trying to tell me that it’s somehow Gods will for humans to be subjected to emotional and physical tribulation and affliction?” “I cannot elucidate on God’s plan for this world, or its inhabitants. Let me ask you this though; in your lifetime have you ever known one person to have escaped it?” “Escaped what?” “Struggles and suffering.” “No, I have not! As a matter of fact, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t struggle in their lives. But so what; my struggles are different. If people could just understand that little fact they
  • 148. Therapy Session Path to Publication Group 149 would see how special I am and give me the respect and attention that I deserve.” “I understand your thought. But everyone is special and all have unique abilities. Even grains of sand and snowflakes are different from one another. The ones who struggle and suffer physically, a thorn in the flesh, if you will, do so for humilities sake. This keeps them aware, and humble, and hopefully pointed in the right direction.” “Whata ya mean, the right direction?” “If we never struggled with challenges beyond our ability to solve, we would never grow, we would never seek God, and we would easily wander off the paths that we’ve been given to walk.” “I don’t believe in God.” “You don’t? What do you believe in?” “I believe in me. I believe in my inherent goodness. If people could just see that, life would be so different for me. If only people could understand how terrific I am. Besides, God doesn’t care about me. No one knows my unique circumstances. I have physical and emotional problems, Doctor; I am not whole. I have aches and pains that never go away. I can’t seem to find anybody to love; someone who will love me, and who accepts me for what I am, and is satisfied with that. Seems everyone looks for something wrong in me, and they always seem to find it. Then they dump on me or bad mouth me, or gossip behind my back. I have trouble with finances; I never seem to have enough. Like today. I don’t know how I’m going to pay you for this session; I’m broke. I have lost my faith in human beings. Most of the time they say one thing and mean another; I hate them. Please help me Doctor. What can I do?” “Well … thank-you for your honesty, but let’s discuss this another time ok; seems your time is up. Talk to my secretary; she’ll give you a pamphlet that might help. Let me know when you get some work; have a great and productive week, OK? Take care! Sheila, would you send in my next appointment?”
  • 149. The Path Path to Publication Group 150  Photo by Cederberg     "Today's public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can't read them either." -- Gore Vidal 
  • 150. Cartoon by Ina Goodling
  • 151. Book John Updike Review
  • 152. The Night Circus Path to Publication Group 153 Eva Willis The Night Circus Erin Morgenstern A friend bought me this book for my birthday. It is on the Target reading list. It is the author's debut novel and what a debut it is. It became a #1 national bestseller. Reading it, it quickly mesmerized me and I had difficulty allowing much lapsed time before picking it up again. It is a magical story. I am dazzled by the inventiveness and imagination of the author. Her gift of visualization is amazing. The book is now one of my favorites. Like when I read Tolkien many years ago, I was transported to a completely different world from the reality I know. The circus in the book is a very unusual one and is only open at night. It is the circus of dreams. It suddenly appears in a city with no announcement. All the tents and costumes are in black and white. There is signage giving a hint as to what can be found in each tent. The performers are as unusual as the circus environment. The two main characters, one female and one male, are inhabitants of the circus and were trained since their youths to compete in a challenge. The girl is an illusionist who was trained by her father, Prospero the Enchanter, who at some point can no longer fully materialize. The boy also has magical skills and is the assistant to the circus's originator. He has been trained by a man who can only be described as mysterious and somewhat scary; one who has no shadow. Events happen to the people involved in bringing the circus to life and then also involve several of the key circus performers. There are a boy and girl who are the offspring of circus people and who are quite incredible themselves. They
  • 153. The Path Path to Publication Group 154 befriend a young man in one of the towns the circus visits. Their lives become intertwined. As a result of the happenings in the novel, lives are changed. The circus's originator is known to throw elaborate, multicourse dinners, with the first course served at midnight. He originally concocted the idea on a whim, brought about by a combination of chronic insomnia and keeping theatrical hours. He never provides menus for the event and never reveals the identity of his chefs. No answers are given if a guest inquires as to the nature or special ingredient of a dish. Often entertainment of an unusual nature accompanies the meal. The host, it is said, understands the power of atmosphere. The author includes a letter at the beginning of the book. Sitting not far from her is a bunny wearing a raven mask. This tells you something about the originality of this young lady, who is also a multimedia artist. She hopes each reader will have a unique experience with the story. I certainly did. She confesses that a great deal of the writing of the novel was about her own discovery, since she wasn't entirely sure at the beginning what mysteries each striped tent contained or what secrets were being kept. I believe this personal discovery of hers led to extraordinary storytelling. I still wonder how she conjured up the events and the characters. Some comments and acclaim about the novel are: “The Night Circus is the real deal, the kind of novel that will appeal to romantics, history buffs, circus aficionados, mystery fans, and lovers of a good story...Steeped in circus lore, filled with evocative scenes of magic and illusion, enriched by characters as varied as the clockmaker who crafted the circus's iconic timepiece...The Night Circus is worth staying up for.” - Bookreporter “One of the best books I have ever read.” -Brunonia Barry, author of The Lace Reader
  • 154. The Night Circus Path to Publication Group 155 “Reading this novel is like having a marvelous dream, in which you are asleep enough to believe everything that is happening, but awake enough to relish the experience and understand that it is magical.” -Newsday Reviewer’s Note… If you acquire the novel, the author and I would welcome you to sit in your most comfortable furnishing, brew yourself a pot of tea or pour yourself a nice glass of wine, and get ready to embark on an exciting journey of discovery and exploration. You will be transported to a different and exquisitely realized world. Enjoy! Odd clouds—Ina Goodling
  • 155. The Path Path to Publication Group 156 Biographies of Contributors In the order of contribution Elaine Westphal holds a BA degree in English Education, is retired from a career in supervisory management and is currently an active community volunteer. She enjoys quilting, singing, classic movies and relaxing to classical music. Nature walks are the inspiration for her creative writing. She has written several articles on local history and nature subjects printed in a Wisconsin library newsletter, “Among Friends”. Reach her at relainewest@hotmail.com Claire T. Feild is an English composition instructor. She has had 244 poems accepted for print publication in 106 literary journals, such as Spillway, Windmills, Tulane Review, and Palimpsest Journal. Her poetry book is Mississippi Delta Women in Prism. Excerpts of her memoir, A Delta Vigil, have been published in Boston's Full Circle: A Journal of Poetry and Prose. Michelle Lommen writes love poems in English. She lives in the Netherlands near Amsterdam. She has published a variety of material in an American and Canadian e-magazine. Ina Goodling was born in San Luis Obispo, California. Ina has been writing stories and poetry since the age of seven. She also enjoys painting, drawing, reading, and raising pet rats. Her first collection of poems, EMOCEANS, does just what the title implies, blending a word pool of rhyme and verse with a range of powerful emotions. Her poetry covers a wide spectrum, from whimsical and humorous to poignant and provocative. From worldly visions to deeply introspective prose, Goodling paints a vibrant picture on every page.
  • 156. The Path Path to Publication Group 157 Bobbi Sinha-Morey is a I am a poet living in the peaceful countryside of Colusa, California. My poetry can be seen in places such as Pirene's Fountain, Bellowing Ark, Open Window Review, Poetry Bulawayo, Ann Arbor Review, and Garbanzo Literary Journal, among others. My latest book of poetry, The Glass Swan, is available at www.writewordsinc.com, and my website is located at http://bobbisinhamorey.wordpress.com. Linda McCauley Freeman has an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College. She was the poet-in- residence for the Putnam County Arts Council for five years overlapping with an eleven-year corporate career as Executive Director of Global Communications for an international firm. She is a freelance writer and a columnist for Living & Being Magazine. A three-time winner of the Talespinners Short Story contest, she finally was asked to be a judge alongside Simon & Schuster editor Michael Korda and children’s book author Da Chen. Her works have been published in numerous literary journals including the MOM EGG. She is working on a novel. Since 2004, she and her husband, Chester, have been full-time swing dance instructors in the Hudson Valley, NY (www.got2lindy.com). Debra Scala Giokas, from Long Island, New York, is an award- winning business communicator, and her career in marketing spans 25 years. She holds an undergraduate degree in English and a graduate degree in business. As an Adjunct Assistant Professor, she has taught undergraduate courses in marketing. In addition to The Path, Debra’s poems have appeared in the Montauk Sun, the Great South Bay Magazine, and Dan’s Papers. She is married to George Giokas, author of Nickel Ice, and is currently writing poems about 50 places in the United States. Follow her on Twitter @debrascalag. Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Blueline, Spectrum, three Bright Spring Press Anthologies and several Kind of A Hurricane Publications. She has been nominated three times for Best of the Net. Four of her books have been published by fine small literary presses.
  • 157. The Path Path to Publication Group 158 Holly Day was born in Hereford, Texas, also known as “The Town Without a Toothache.” She and her family currently live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she teaches at the Loft Literary Center. Her published books include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, and Guitar All-in- One for Dummies. Tatjana Debeljacki She writes poetry, short stories, stories and haiku. She is a Member of Association of Writers of Serbia - UKS since 2004. She is Haiku Society of Serbia- Deputy editor of Diogen. She also is the editor of the magazine Poeta. She has four books of poetry published John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in International Poetry Review, Vallum and the science fiction anthology, “The Kennedy Curse” with work upcoming in Bryant Literary Magazine, Natural Bridge and the Oyez Review. jgrey10233@aol.com A.J. Huffman has published seven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her eighth solo chapbook, Drippings from a Painted Mind, won the 2013 Two Wolves Chapbook Contest. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, Kritya, and Offerta Speciale, in which her work appeared in both English and Italian translation. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. www.kindofahurricanepress.com Dennis Maloney is the editor and publisher of the widely respected White Pine Press in Buffalo, NY which will celebrate its 40th year in 2013. He is also a poet and translator. His works of translation include: The Stones of Chile by Pablo Neruda, The Landscape of Castile by Antonio Machado, Between the Floating Mist:Poems of Ryokan,and the The Poet and the Sea by Juan Ramon Jimenez. A number of volumes of his own poetry have been published including The Map Is Not the Territory: Poems & Translations and Just Enough. His book of Yosano Akiko translations, Tangled Hair, was published in 2012 by Palisades Press. dennismaloney@yahoo.com
  • 158. The Path Path to Publication Group 159 Rachelle Parker is a Nassawadox born, Brooklyn bred girl. She now resides in eclectic Montclair, NJ. There she offers her stories, poems and desserts, just some of the stuff that pleases the senses. She’s recently had a short story and poems published with Mused – BellaOnline, Poetry Haiku and Elohi Gadugi Journal. Changming Yuan, 5-time Pushcart nominee and author of Chansons of a Chinaman (2009) and Landscaping (2013), grew up in rural China but currently tutors in Vancouver, where he co- edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan. With a PhD in English, Changming has poetry appearing in Best Canadian Poetry (2009;12), BestNewPoemsOnline, Exquisite Corpse, London Magazine, Threepenny Review and 739 others across 28 countries Jamey Temple is the mother of three children under the age of seven, who not only keep her Facebook statuses entertaining, but also help to co-create bedtime stories. In her spare time, Jamey utilizes her MFA from Spalding University, life experience as a patient and mother, and career experience as a publications coordinator by teaching writing and public relations courses at a small liberal arts college in Kentucky where she also acts as managing editor of its literary journal, Pensworth. Catherine Becker Reynolds retired recently from a forty-year career in teaching. She enjoys writing historical and contemporary fiction for both adults and children. Catherine’s work has appeared in the Journal of the National Council, Teachers of English; Arizona English Bulletin, and The Arizona Republic. She and her husband live in Scottsdale, Arizona. Reach her at january@artbyair.com. D.E.Z. Butler (B.L.S., M.P.A.) decided to write about all she has experienced. Her life has had many paths and she hopes to "grow" her following for her many stories, poems, articles, and books. Look for more books and writings at authorsden.com about this writer. She recently moved to Pennsylvania and is continuing the art of mastering her chosen craft. Reach her at: telepathyb@juno.com.
  • 159. The Path Path to Publication Group 160 Tom Sheehan served in 31st Infantry, Korea, 1951. Books are Epic Cures; Brief Cases, Short Spans; A Collection of Friends; From the Quickening; This Rare Earth & Other Flights. Has 20 Pushcart nominations. Recent eBooks include Korean Echoes and The Westering, nominees for Distinguished Military and National Book Awards . EBooks from Danse Macabre-Murder at the Forum, Death of a Lottery Foe. Two mysteries due for 2013 publication plus In the Garden of Long Shadows, collection. Madison Feyrer-Melk is a student at Fountain Hills High School. Mary J. Nickum (B.A., M.Lib., MAIS) is a magazine editor and freelance writer, who is “dedicated to making science reader-friendly.” Mary’s first book for children is MOM’S STORY, A CHILD LEARNS ABOUT MS. Her numerous articles introduce animals and their most interesting traits to children. She lives with her husband in Fountain Hills, Arizona, and has two grown sons. Reach her at mjnickum@cox.net. Her website is www.marynickum.com. She has launched a new publishing company, Saguaro Books, which publishes Middle Grade, Young Adult and New Adult fiction, www.saguarobooks.com. Tim Wilkinson, husband and father of two, has been writing since the age of twelve. After spending thirty years working in the telecommunications industry, traveling and writing in between the often conflicting commitments of family, work, home and life in general, Mr. Wilkinson now focuses more time and effort on his most enduring dream, writing. Collections of his earlier works are available online, through www.Amazon.com. Tom Sheehan served in 31st Infantry, Korea, 1951. Books are Epic Cures; Brief Cases, Short Spans; A Collection of Friends; From the Quickening; This Rare Earth & Other Flights. Has 20 Pushcart nominations. Recent eBooks include Korean Echoes and The Westering, nominees for Distinguished Military and National Book Awards . EBooks from Danse Macabre-Murder
  • 160. The Path Path to Publication Group 161 at the Forum, Death of a Lottery Foe. Two mysteries due for 2013 publication plus In the Garden of Long Shadows, collection. Budd Nelson is a construction inspector for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the author of DUSTY a western set in 1878 Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. He is also the author of 6 short stories and 115 poems. Reach him a grizinvabudd@yahoo.com, his website is www.buddnelson.com . He lives with his wife Carol in Warrenton, VA. Richard L. Cederberg began creating in his teens, first as a classical trumpet player, then as a guitarist and lyricist, and then as a writer of poetry and short stories. He is presently an internationally published poet and has authored four books. As a novelist, his primary motivations integrate Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Lewis Stevenson, C.S. Lewis and a host of other gifted writers into a uniquely crafted compelling blend of adventure, mystery, historical fiction, and spirituality. Eva Marie Willis (B.A. From ASU) is retired and lives in Ahwatukee (Phoenix), Arizona. Since retiring, she finds personal expression in her numerous poems, in dancing, and in her oil paintings. She is the author of With All My Heart which includes two short stories and selected poems about relationships. It is available on Lulu.com. She is interested in politics, spirituality, dancing and living life to the fullest. You can follow her on Twitter under EvaTwits or contact her via e- mail at jwillis42@cox.net.
  • 161. The Path Path to Publication Group 162 Submission Guidelines* The Path The Path to Publication Group is sponsoring and introducing a new literary publication–The Path. You are invited to submit short stories, essays and poems for inclusion in the semi-annual issues. The theme for the short stories and essays and the subtitle of each issue will change. The theme will be given when the call for submissions is published on the website: www.thepathtopublication.net. Past contributors will receive a call for submissions by e-mail automatically. The words of the theme must be used somewhere in your text. Your content must be theme-oriented in some way, either full on or indirectly. However, do not use the exact words of the theme in the title of your work. No theme is required for poetry. 1) Short stories and essays - 2500 to 7000 words 2) Poetry – 2 pages Please polish your manuscripts to the best of your ability and, of course, have someone else edit your work before sending to Path to Publication. Do not format your work: no page numbers, no headers or footers, no paragraph indentations (skip a line for paragraph spacing). Manuscripts must be submitted in Microsoft Word or RTF form. Font: Times New Roman - size 12. All submissions must be submitted electronically, as e-mail attachments to: mjnickum@thepathmagazine.com. All rights are retained by the author, and there will be no compensation for accepted work at this time. *Because we are staffed by volunteers, we can only compensate our writers in exposure to our audience. Our authors enjoy great publicity for their own blogs, books, websites and projects. Many find great reward in doing something good for the world of literature and literacy
  • 162. Advertisements Mom’s Story A Child Learns About MS Second Edition Non-fiction/General Trade Paperback Publisher: Saguaro Books, LLC Publication Date: March 2013 Price: $9.95 (bulk rates available) Size: 5 x 8 Author: Mary Jo Nickum ISBN: 978-1478358190 Available at: www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and www.marynickum.com
  • 163. Advertisements saguaro books, llc Saguaro Books seeks middle grade and young adult fiction written by first time authors. Only work by first time authors will be considered for publication. Contact us at: 16201 E. Keymar Dr., Fountain Hills, AZ 85268 602-309-7670; Fax 480-284-4855 mjnickum@saguarobooks.com Arkwatch Holdings LLC is an intellectual property holding company founded in 2003 by Erik Daniel Shein. The company's objective is to be one of the world's leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Mission: Arkwatch Holdings believes that the intellectual properties we create, distribute, license, and put out into the marketplace have an environmental message that will make the world a safer and better place. Arkwatch Holdings LLC, 4766 east Eden Drive Cave Creek AZ 85331 1-800-682-4650 www.arkwatch.com
  • 164. Advertisements www.allthingeditorial.com mjnickum@allthingseditorial.com 602-309-7670 I have over 35 years experience editing manuscripts, magazines, peer reviewed journals and books. The Path to Publication Group, Inc. Book Division Publisher of quality adult fiction and non-fiction (No pornography, please.) www.pathtopublication.net bookdivision@pathtopublication.net
  • 165. Advertisements List Price: $14.95 6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm) PTP Book Division Black & White on White paper 328 pages ISBN-13: 978-1494376550 ISBN-10: 1494376555 BISAC: Fiction / Fantasy / General Gods and Angels begins with the revival of an ancient wooly mammoth accomplished through the advanced technologies of genetic engineering and the “Genomic zoo,” the great depository of endangered and recovered bio-maps of countless threatened or “lost” species. Through the advanced techniques of DNA sequencing, this “miracle” becomes a reality, and this creature becomes a beloved wonder of the world. However, all is not well with this wondrous creature, as complications set in and the teams of scientists work to save him. This takes place at Noah’s Freezer, where they have performed amazing work, with cutting edge science, in reviving endangered animal populations. Global warming has changed many of the world’s ecosystems are encumbered with more difficult challenges, as they struggle to save animals. Three of the primary characters, Daniel Knight, Christina Alvarez, and Adrian Charles, all scientists fight reactionary forces, who oppose man’s extensions into what some regard as the taboo realm of altering the products of nature. As the consciousness of the spiritual world changes, we as humans become aware of this, something Daniel Knight has experienced even in his youth, and this burden drives him to seek help from a doctor scientist, who joins their team in an effort to define his experience and support their goals. Together they resist dark forces, which work to keep humanity in
  • 166. Advertisements ignorance and subservience. Extraordinary scientific advances of today become the working tools of tomorrow’s “Brave New World.” CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/4556498 www.amazon.com http://www.pathtopublication.net/book-store.php
  • 167. Advertisements Contact mjnickum@thepathmagazine.com to place your ad here.