If God is waiting for us on the other side,the question remains- which one?
Reaching the final turn on my trail that’s just before the downed maple tree where I plan to take another rest and try some of Walter’s fresh Local 88 I lift my eyes to see something I’ve only seen twice in all my time living out here in Jacobs Pass and never as close as it is to me right now.
Standing no more than twenty-five yards in front of me and frozen as stiff as I have quickly become is a pitch black timber wolf. A full grown male, he must stand just over three feet tall at the shoulders and weigh close to one hundred pounds. I’m not aware of another word in the English language that can best describe both utter terror and infinite beauty simultaneously other than simply awe. I was trapped by this awe. A complex labyrinth that I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to find my way out of, not quite yet anyway. Turning through the mazes winding path, I find myself being lured and pulled faster around each turn.: not hoping to find my way out and overcame with a stillness that can only be known by one looking for something they don’t intend to find. Without consciously doing so my right hand slowly reached inside my left coat panel, and my fingers brushed against the cold wooden handle of my revolver.
Opposite me, as my hand was moving, the wolf’s head lowered a little as if to reply his moves were quicker than any that I may have; a dare from him to take my best shot. There we are, both of us still frozen in the middle of the path, it no longer felt like just my path at this moment, I lowered my hand and just stared at the animal reflection before me. As my hand came out of my jacket empty the wolf’s head rose once again. Knowing I wasn’t going to turn around and head the other way I decided to slip to my right a good four feet or so off the trail and lean against a small poplar tree while keeping my eyes locked on the beauty and potential beast that still remained motionless on the trail with his eyes burning, not with fear, not with anger, but with a strange cunning that comes only from knowing more than your opponent. The eyes are pouring out confidence and calm. So unlike mine, I’m sure mine appear to be at least the confidence part.
Two or three minutes had passed when, just my luck, the sound of those damn dogs came into my ears from a distance that was still a good way away and beyond the distance to my cabin. Still the black beauty never moved. Finally, I decided that now was as good time as ever to take my first taste of Walters’s new batch. Not that I ever felt that my life was in danger but how often will I get a chance to drink with a creature as magnificent as a wolf, a black beauty that seemed to be soaked with confidence and serenity. I quietly slid my bag off my shoulder and pulled one jug from it. Removing the cork with expert silence, I pulled the opening of the jug to my mouth and felt the gentle sting of the warm substance on my lips and the slow warmth it left as it traveled down. With warm confidence flowing through my veins and my mind asking for more I take another pull from the bottle. With the jug back in my lap and a feeling of comfort washing over me the wolf suddenly took a few steps forward, remaining on the trail, and stopped again.
Another sip from my jug and a few more steps forward.
One more sip and this fantastic creature was only four feet from me; me against my tree and it on the trail. The blackness of its coat was the blackness of seclusion and comfort that I often feel when the night has regained its rule over the land.
I wondered at that very moment if that was what this wolf felt constantly, solitude and comfort, forever embodied in its blackness and forever satisfied with its lot in life.
The wolf stopped after a few more steps, and I will swear to any man that it sniffed the air between us and nodded its head as if to say I understand.
An open mind and a willing soul, maybe the wolf had them as well. Maybe he could see a mirrored image before him, a glass portal that few of us get to witness. The world stood still if only for a moment; a moment etched in time so deep that it would never be erased.
After that, he trotted off with a relaxed gallop and all I could do was stand there and watch him as he disappeared around the bend in the trail and out of sight. Pulling another swig from the jug and corking it I placed it back into my sack and stepped onto, what will from now on be called our trail, and headed for home never once looking back and never once thinking the wolf did either.
With the gaze of an eagle, he watched as Joseph and the magnificent creature departed ways. He had almost wished the wolf would have sprung onto its neighbor and finished the whole plan right then and there. But, what fun would there lay in that? He felt it was his duty, his purpose in life to strike the final blow. How could he relinquish that task to any other living creature? The time was coming closer and closer. A few more night falls, and all would come to completion. Let Joseph have his limited days of wondering, his few more days of loneliness.
: of, relating to, or resembling a violent storm : turbulent, stormy
Did You Know?
Time is sometimes marked in seasons, and seasons are associated with the weather. This explains how tempus, the Latin word for “time,” could have given rise to an English adjective for things turbulent and stormy. Tempus is the root behind Old Latin tempestus, meaning “season,” and Late Latin tempestuosus, the direct ancestor of tempestuous. As you might expect, tempus is also the root, by way of the Latin tempestas (“season, weather, or storm”), of the noun tempest. Tempus may also be akin to the Latin verb temperare (“to moderate, mix, or temper”), which made its way through Anglo-French to become the English temper.
Build your vocabulary! Get Word of the Day in your inbox every day.
Because the player’s relationship with his manager had grown more tempestuous over the course of the season, the decision to trade him benefited everyone.
“The U.S. government stripped its embassy in Nicaragua down to bare-bone operations Monday after five days of deadly protests around the country, despite Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s efforts to calm his tempestuous nation.” — Monique O. Madan and Glenn Garvin, The Miami Herald, 23 Apr. 2018
The solemn silhouette sits crouched against the back wall of a world worn cabin watching as the sun begins its final descent into blackness of night. Rubbing his head with no comfort of another he sighs at the fading sun and whispers to himself if the long held truth will ever climb its way back into his mouth. The truth can be ruff for people who hold on to their secrets for too long, and this truth is way overdue. He slides through the memory that never leaves his side, be it day or night. Someday he knows that this torturing vision will have to escape and find its way unto the world. How will he know when the time is right? Will he have the courage? Will he pay with the very thing he took away? He rubs his forehead and stands to the sound of popping bones. There isn’t much time left; he thinks to himself. Whatever the outcome it will never be enough to erase the years of regret. Years spent toiling over if what had happened was meant to be as some would say is the reason everything happens. The lonely figure stands and begins to walk back towards his one place of comfort.
Back on Briggs Street I adjust my new weight and keep a careful ear open for the cling of glass on glass. Too much cling could be a bad thing, the loss of a wanting disdain and what some might even call happiness.
With one foot followed by the other, I start my trip back home. As Briggs slowly narrows back into the nameless horse trail that expands back into Briggs Street coming into town I glance upward to the sky, which is my little ritual when beginning a walk of any good distance. I do this for no other reason than to remind myself that no matter what situation I may wander upon, the outcome, be it bad or good, is in the long run as meaningless as a dying tree to the forest it resides in. Simply, everyone and everything is playing such a small role on such an enormous stage that we should harbor no fears for what may come. It’s not that our small roles are pointless, because they’re not, but without the stage those roles wouldn’t exist at all, and that is a calming thought. A thought that holds my attention for just long enough to begin to doubt it, after all the only reality in life that changes is our thoughts about reality itself.
“Headn’ home Tooley?”
Before even turning I know that it’s Orville saying hello without so much as a hi. “Missed you on my way in earlier Orville, you not feeling well?”
“Nah I’m good, just felt like a good day for an afternoon nap. So tell me Tooley did you stop by the grave and give her a kiss?” He asked knowing that I did because I always do; the one good thing in my life that brings a true smile to my lips and a tear to my eyes.
Now you may be wondering why Orville calls me Tooley instead of Joseph. I used to wonder the same thing myself until finally one day I asked why and his reply was: “Well that’s your name isn’t it?” Can’t argue with that logic and win.
“Of course I kissed her Orville,” I answer. “Cemetery’s looking better than ever,” I tell him and he just nods with a smile and rubs the top of his head fixing his thinning hair.
“Well, I’ll see you the next time around Tooley, you be safe out there.” He gives another nod and I to him, and he heads through the iron archway to keep Eden a perfect garden. Somehow the archway seems to close in on Orville as he passes through it as if the world is doing its best to protect him from any unwanted trouble, any unsolicited fever that may encroach upon his paradise.
“Not sure when that will be,” I tell him. “Being safe is merely an illusion Orville. You should know that better than anyone.”
Further, down the trail the thought of not seeing William, Walters’s older brother, in the tavern crosses my mind. If every town has its drunk, then William is Hapsburg’s. William’s a good guy in his peculiar way. He’s one of the few others around these parts that are drawn to the mysteries that whiskey has to offer. Like me, he has an open mind but he lacks the willing soul, so the outcome is very different very different indeed, a difference that breaks a man and his desires. I believe that stems from a childhood of less than favorable circumstances. You see, William and Walters’s father once carried the title of the town drunk before William took it over. I’ve lost the memory of their fathers name at the moment but I do know that he used to strong hand his sons when he would get a little too lost in his drinking and William was always there to deflect most of the abuse from his little brother Walter. William could always deflect the wild side of their father onto himself. A gift that never seems to give much in the way a gift should. It must be an amazing thing to have a brother or sister, a living breathing extension of you and your thoughts, a moving funhouse mirror to reflect common experiences, but I’m sure most lone children feel that way. That feeling of loneliness, self-entertainment, and hard-headedness crawl into the lonely child’s brain at an early age and swiftly grow deep strong roots that never die.
Steadying by my pack yet again, I come across my mark. It’s nothing too noticeable, a small groove in the middle of the trail that I’ve worn into the darkish dirt with the outside of my boot over my separate travels back and forth from town. I don’t aggravate it on every trip, just when I think it’s becoming a little too hidden for my eyes. It always seems that it’s the imperceptible little things that if noticed can lead to unseen treasures. If that’s just dime store philosophy or if it’s reality I can’t say, but I can say it’s true. And isn’t that enough? After all the lies that circle around us on a daily basis the truths seem like beacons in the fog. However, if the truths and the lies ever become entangled and blurred, one can settle in for a life of despair and hopelessness. A fear creeps into the mind and takes over every waking moment. Unfortunately, the fear never leaves.
Coming from town I know this little groove means I’ve got another thirty yards before I veer to the right, leaving the nameless horse path and into the forest where I’ll pick-up on my trail that’ll take me to my porch and my isolated home. The thirty yards reached I turn off and push my way through the underbrush and eventually hit my trail. With just a few steps taken I stop and notice—nothing, nothing at all. Just the way I like it to be. No sounds from the dogs; this is quite unusual as they are almost always waiting for my return. I stand a listen with that intensity that makes one think that it is actually improving one’s sense of hearing and not even the quietest of noises can escape beyond the unnoticeable. Sometimes I catch myself in these trivial poses and can’t help but laugh at how silly I must appear to the better-adapted creatures of the forest watching me from some hidden angle. I look up to see a squirrel looking down upon me with curiosity and what can only be laughter in its eyes. This forest resident knows more about its home than most of us will ever hope to grasp.
Maybe the dogs are on the trail of some fox or coyote that came too close to the packs collective tolerance. Maybe they’re just out exploring. I do that quite often myself.
Why should dogs be any different?
1 : the sounding of a bell at evening
2 a : a regulation enjoining the withdrawal of usually specified persons (such as juveniles or military personnel) from the streets or the closing of business establishments or places of assembly at a stated hour
b : a signal to announce the beginning of a curfew
c : the hour at which a curfew becomes effective
d : the period during which a curfew is in effect
Did You Know?
In medieval Europe, a bell rang every evening at a fixed hour, and townspeople were required by law to cover or extinguish their hearth fires. It was the “cover fire” bell, or, as it was referred to in Anglo-French, coverfeu (from the French verb meaning “to cover,” and the word for “fire”). By the time the English version, curfew, appeared, the authorities no longer regulated hearth fires, but an evening bell continued to be rung for various purposes—whether to signal the close of day, an evening burial, or enforcement of some other evening regulation. This “bell ringing at evening” became the first English sense of curfew. Not infrequently, the regulation signaled by the curfew involved regulating people’s movement in the streets, and this led to the modern senses of the word.
Build your vocabulary! Get Word of the Day in your inbox every day.
“In addition to park areas designed for them, adolescents can go into almost all places in Berlin, including dance clubs and bars. There are some rules, including a curfew: teens under sixteen must be out of the clubs and restaurants by ten p.m., those under eighteen must leave by midnight.” — Sara Zaske, Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children, 2017
“He walked with her back to the chateau; the curfew had tolled for the laborious villagers of Fleurieres, and the street was unlighted and empty.” — Henry James, The American, 1877
The door to Walters is just a door; I always thought it should be one of those old western swinging types but times change. Actually, time continues on its ever constant rate, and it seems that only styles and acceptance change but people, on the other hand, never do. Their faces may change; their histories may change, but the senses and emotions they use to experience their world will never change. Beauty never changes but what is beautiful will always continue its cycle of alteration. Never the less I still wish that the door was one of those old western style doors. I guess that makes me a willing participant in the endless cycle of change and a willing participant in life, but only somewhat one might say.
The smell is always the first to hit me. A rock made of roses. Roses of an acquired taste but roses none the less. The walls are clothed in smoke and the floor a rickety old thing that does its best on a day to day basis. The ceiling is open, and the rafters hang frozen in time, never to budge under the weight they constantly hold. The tables are scattered in random happenstance arrangement. There seems to be no noticeable order within the place at all except maybe for the bar itself. Long and lean, the crafted centerpiece of the entire room sits near the back wall and commands every bit of the attention it receives, beautiful thing to behold indeed. The flickering lanterns do more than their share to keep light and sight within the windowless walls. A pale yellow burns from their glass enclosures.
Then there I am in the midst of smoke and laughter. Conversations long dead but still hanging on. Stories being exaggerated for no rational reason because everyone knows the truth and those who listen intently listen nevertheless. The allure of memories being remembered so they can be forgotten, if only for a while. Senses being heightened and emotions being dulled or the other way around or possibly both—that’s the splendor and the cruelty of the tavern. If heaven and hell were ever to meet, it would take place in an atmosphere like Walters tavern. The good and the bad but mostly the middle of the road, that truce that keeps people crawling back for more and more of the same. A place where good allows evil to roam and evil allows good to reign, where little white lies do their best to outnumber the dark ones, but of course, if only for a while.
I fumble my way into my usual corner table with my back against the wall and the orchestra of humanity playing out in front of me. I run my hand through my beard for no particular reason other than to give me something to do. Walter’s behind the counter vending the needs of all who enter and behind him hangs the largest mirror in Hapsburg reflecting all the emotions that each and every patron wishes to forget about. The mirror is worn around its four corners showing its age to all who notice. Looking into its reflections, I wonder which side of it is the true reality, which man is real, and which room is actually the realm of the living.
With bottles of this and that scattered in no particular way sitting on the back counter just waiting to be turned up then down to release its contents into a glass of happiness, a glass of forgetfulness, and a glass of content. Walter gives me a quick glance and gestures with a finger that he’ll be over in a minute with what he knows I want; a shot glass and a half bottle of whiskey. Comfort in familiarity, familiarity in habit, habit out of necessity. Necessary for god knows what reason. We have to fill time with something I guess.
Walter is the picture of weariness and longing. A longing that permeates his entire being, it controls his gestures; it controls his expressions, and it moves in silence behind his eyes. Walter has been in and out of my life for so many years I can hardly remember a time when his presence wasn’t there. After all, his home brew has led me down many roads of sanity and lucidity. He stands about my height, so our eyes are always level as we move about in our usual dance of understanding. Hell, if it weren’t for his lack of a beard, we could almost pass as brothers, a detail that hasn’t lost it’s power on the people of Hapsburg.
After a little while of going through my mind, I wonder how much of Walter’s specialty I can get back to my cabin with my unexpected new wealth. Finally, he shows up at my table and places my half empty bottle and a half clean shot glass down in front of me. With a quick look around, he sits down on the other chair across from me and turns it a little sideways so he can still see most of the room. He rubs the back of his neck and asks how the cabin’s holding up.
Fine I say and pour my first drink. Words will spill out easier with some liquor in my system as if I’m a fountain fresh with rain water that is working its way over the fountains edges.
“Are the dogs still gathering in greater numbers by the day or have you finally succumb to what I would have done months ago; kill the bastards?”
I could lie to him and say no such thought had ever crossed my mind, but he knows better than that. And, even though those damn dogs have a forever supply of annoying at their disposal I can honestly say I would never hurt any of them and I think they feel the same way as long as we stay out of each other’s way.
I shake my head, “ I can’t say that the situation has reached that point, but each day brings new views on what is circling a man’s life.”
It seems that every time a few more show up a few more go missing, so I guess they keep each other in balance I tell him, sort of like people do.
Why should dogs be any different?
After a quick silence and another shot, I ask him about his Local 88. He says he got a fresh fill ready to go out and asks how much I’m looking to get. Telling him the amount I’m willing to spend and given my hike back home I settle on four jugs. He says that would be fine yet it’s a lot of weight to carry so far. I push the advice aside and ask him if he has it already jugged and corked.
“Of course, who do you take me for; I’m a businessman or as close to one as someone of my disposition can be.” Walter says with a wipe of his brow and an itch of his nose.
Pouring my third drink Walter tells me I can pick up my purchase around back after I’ve finished. Around back because Walter’s Local 88 isn’t for everyone, only for those he considers worth the time it takes for him to make it. Why he considers me one of those I’m not quite sure, but it probably has something to do with my father’s disappearance. At least that’s all I can guess.
“I’ll be around after a few more shots, got to rest my legs a little,” I say.
With my last shot poured and in hand I see Caleb walk in and make a beeline to my table. Caleb’s an alright fellow even though he’s the preacher of Hapsburg. The soul saver for a town that has no soul—a disheartening trail to blaze if you ask me. Such a choice in life must attempt its best to sway people away from the realities of life and fill them with fairytale hopes of paradise, a job that is in my eyes, at best, a lie hidden behind a smile, and at worst, just a lie to fill people with hollow hopes. I keep that thought to myself, of course, because Caleb was one of the few in town that took the time to look for my father all those years ago. I never asked him or anyone for that matter to help me in looking so those who did help I try to remain friendly with.
“In town to get supplies?’ he asks.
That’s the only time I’m in town I tell him.
“You know Joseph if you ever want to talk about anything, anything at all, I’m always here to help if I can. I know the frustration that life has the habit of dishing out.”
“Like a knife grating a chalkboard,” I quietly mutter.
Appreciate it Caleb but I can manage, always have. I tell him. Before he can get too settled in I down my last shot and let him know that I’ve got to be heading back before the darkness wins once again.
“Thanks for the offer Caleb but as you know I have a tendency to work life out on my own.”
I stand and grab my bag and start for the door as Caleb moves on to the next table, on to the next painter of grim dreams that when finished turn into reality.
Once outside I make my way around back where Walter has already set out my four jugs. Smoking his pipe he smiles, and I hand him my money and he offers some thick rags to wrap a couple of the jugs in to keep them from breaking on my way back. I thank him and pack my bag with the next few days of happiness and solitude and shake his weathered hand, a hand that has worked hard to get where it is. With a final nod, I turn and begin my journey home and just as I’m about to turn the corner of the taverns back wall I hear Caleb’s voice mixing with Walter’s. Poor Walter’s the next soul to save, I think to myself.
“Did he mention anything to you about Jacob?”
“No” Walter replied. I just ask him about those dogs, and he wanted to know about my 88. “What about you—you didn’t bring it up did you?”
“No, not directly at least, I just asked why he was in town and that if he ever wanted to talk about anything that I was available anytime. Someone should talk to him.”
“Remember what happened the last time someone tried that?” Walter said. “Poor Edward got one of his teeth knocked out, so feel free to talk to him all you want Caleb. Feel free to be the salt in the wound.”
“He needs to talk to someone. Out there in woods all by himself isn’t healthy. A man could lose his grip on reality. The world could seem like it’s turning against him.”
Back out on the wooden planks of the store fronts I have but one place to go before heading back home, the tavern to see Walter. Just as I’m about to reach Walter’s that’s when Luke, the sheriff, steps out his door and is now squarely in front of me, but facing the street. Luke is a pain in the ass type of personality—must come with the territory. His clothes neatly hang from his body. A large hat rests upon his head that is pulled down to just above his eyebrows, a look that I find irritating and overhanded. His boots are weather-beaten and loud upon the wood planks. He must have heard my footsteps approaching because he turns to say high as he rubs his eyes. His pale blue eyes settle upon me with a lonesome authoritative glare.
“How goes it Joseph?’
“It goes and it comes.” I say.
“Any trouble out there beyond Jacobs Pa….” and his voice trails off.
He knows Jacob was my dad and Luke isn’t much older than me so he knows how my mom and I got pushed to the outskirts of town and into that shack shanty of a rat hole that killed my mother. He knows my past; he doesn’t know me.
“Any problems at your cabin with anyone?” he finally comes back with.
“Things are as good as one could hope Luke.”
“Take it you’re still out there looking for your dad?”
I take it you’re still an asshole? I think to myself. “Until I find him or what happened to him,” I say. “Well Luke, keep the people safe around here I have to be getting on.”
“You take it easy Joseph and be careful out there. You never know who’s lurking in that forest out there, be it a man or a beast.”
I know Luke is acting his part as sheriff, but I also know it’s just that, an act. He cares as much about me as the wild dogs he shoots on the edge of town ‘to keep the townspeople safe’ he always says but I know better. Hell, half the town does. He’s a sad man who wears his badge proudly, a little too proudly. He has been known to let his title go to his head in situations that he has no business of being involved. Another lonely soul looking for something to hang his hat on I suppose.
His parents had been mill workers their entire lives before they both passed away some years ago. Luke was left to himself for a few years drinking and loosely holding on to his mill job until one day he decided to get his life back together. And where does one get their life back together? Caleb and the church are always waiting for the next poor soul to stumble in with the desire to improve their life and have no way of doing that themselves. I’m sorry, but those people annoy the hell out of me, it’s the ones who have always been a part of something bigger and better, and have the strength to change themselves, that I can muster some respect for.
Finally! The tavern doors are within reach.
. Ever wonder why when you really want to write your brain freezes?
.Ever wonder why there’s a calm before the storm?
.Ever wonder why when you try to forget something it’s all you can think about?
.Ever wonder why & how the words you use every day originated?
.Ever wonder why The Matrix is so life like?
.Ever wonder why 2+2 equals 4?
.Ever wonder why The Pen is mightier than the Sword?
.Ever wonder why That dying Leaves make for the best scenery?
.Ever wonder why It’s cool to be UNCOOL?
.Ever wonder why Sex, Drugs, and Rock-n-Roll go together so well?
.Ever wonder why there are many Gods around the Planet?
.Ever wonder why you eat Ramen noodles to save for that Dream?
.Ever wonder why Grizzly’s are Bigger on Kodiak Island?
.Ever wonder why your Mom is calling?
.Ever wonder why that One Squirrel is so fat?
.Ever wonder why your PET loves you so much?
.Ever wonder why the Rainstorm is so refreshing?
.Ever wonder why a Black Cat is Bad Luck?
Coming finally to the first casted shadow of the building on my right I feel my eyelids lower a bit and my mind sharpen. This isn’t intentional; it has become a reflex, somehow shadows casted from manmade objects swing the compass of the mind closer to the sinister as opposed to shadows casted from natural ones. The shadow falls from the tavern that sits nicely at the edge of town for reasons too many to mention, I’m sure the main ones are obvious, the others even more so. As I mentioned before, Walter’s tavern is where I spend most of my time while I’m in town, but at the moment I must meet up with Mrs. Beatina and see what I can get for trade and hopefully have enough left over to gain some money.
Stepping up off the dirt road and onto the wooden boards of connected store fronts I pass Walter’s and the sheriff’s building, nicely placed next to one another. Glancing across the street, I notice Caleb talking to a family I haven’t seen before, a younger couple with the woman holding a baby close to her chest. Caleb, always wearing his preacher getup, looks up and waves a simple wave, and I nod my head. Passing a few more store fronts that mean nothing to me as I reach for the handle of Mrs. Beatina’s Have All and push my way into her store.
“Why hello Joseph what have you got for me this time?”
Ruth Beatina. I’d never dare call her by her first name; respect for one and not that I’m a religious man but if anyone could convince me otherwise it would be Mrs. Beatina. She’s a small lady of about five feet with pulled back brownish-grey hair and can convince the most logical man that there is more meaning in a single sunrise than all the sunsets combined. It has been said that Mrs. Beatina has graced the streets of New York at one time or another where she and her husband ran a small boutique that catered mostly to the stage performers and struggling artists. As the stories go, along with her husband, they made quite a good living in the big city. Living life to the fullest as only lovers can, they spent their days carelessly enjoying one another. The story, unfortunately, comes to a grinding halt one ordinary day at their shop when a young man enters the store and greets Mrs. Beatina with a handshake only to grip her hand tightly and pull her towards him. The man whispers something into her ear just as her husband comes out of the back room and without thinking lunges towards his wife who is crying in fear. The man quickly shoves her aside and fires two shots. Years later she came to Hapsburg and after a while her story came out. However, she has never once mentioned what the man whispered to her. She only says that somethings should never be repeated and that by holding on to them one can find solace.
I smile a little smile and tell her that the fox pelts are in great color, and the beaver are not as good as I’d hoped but nice none the less. I lay my work on the counter and turn to gather the candles, matches, rags, and tobacco I desire. Calculating what Mrs. Beatina will probably offer for the pelts minus my purchases I put back a few candles in the hopes of receiving a bit more money for Walter’s Local 88.
Returning to the counter with my goods I see a look of concern on her face. The look scares me. Will I have to put even more of my things back? When I finally step up to face her, she looks up with a troubled look that quickly flashes to a wide smile that pleases any man that trades with others.
“Do you have more of these fox furs?” she asks.
Only the eighteen I brought with me I tell her. “Why?’
“Honey, these are beautiful and they will sell quickly. There have been a lot of customers asking about fox pelts with autumn setting in and winter on its way.”
Mrs. Beatina is one of those unique women that can fill any conversation with the wisdom of a mother. She can remind the listener of their own mother and the relaxation that belongs to that title. With a tone of voice that cuts through the daily abrasiveness and self-loathing that people carry around inside them even if they don’t realize that they do. A soothing tone that makes you feal at home.
I tell her I have all my traps set and will be checking them in a couple of days and at this time of year, depending on the age of the Fox, all their coats should be similar. I assure her that she is the only person that receives any of my pelts—she knows this but I mention it none the less—and as soon as I have more she will be in possession of them.
I ask her what she’s willing to offer, and the price astounds me. The first shock to the system in a while and damn it feels good. Now I’m not much of a negotiator; I know what my pelts are worth to me, and if you’re not willing to agree then they remain mine. I’m willing to break-even, but that’s as far as my bargaining skills and market game playing goes. Yet, the number Mrs. Beatina released into my ears was excessive beyond any hopes I came in to her with.
“You ok Hun.” She quips.
I tell her that I appreciated the amount but couldn’t accept such a high price for furs that just last year brought me only half of what she was now offering. Fairness works both ways and for Mrs. Beatina even more so. She‘s helped me out so many times when the season wasn’t so kind to me that this is my one chance to return the favor and save her some money and hopefully put some money in her pocket for a change, after all it seems to me that everyone in town is hanging on by a few strands that keep them out of the shacks on the outskirts of town. So I sit my two candles, three boxes of matches, and two pouches of tobacco on the counter and tell her I forgot a few things. I head back and grab the extra candles I had put back and a few more pouches of tobacco and some rags. Returning to the counter, I offer Mrs. Beatina my deal.
I tell her I’ll take three-fourths of what she is offering minus these items and the difference in cash if she will help me out if the hunting and trapping gets bad next year and she lets me pick a few new books out when she gets them. She agrees happily, and I fill out her transaction ticket and fill my sack with my items and my pocket with enough money to buy four or five jugs, not bottles, of Local 88.
“Thanks Hun, for stopping in. Hope to see you soon,” she says and then with a little concern in her voice she turns and says, “You should stop by more often Joseph. A man who spends too much time alone tends to begin seeing the world a little more different than one can handle.”
I turn back to her with a small smile, “Thank you Mrs. Beatina, you have given my next few days a little bit of sunshine that was much unexpected. Thank you again.”
1 : one who assists a member of the clergy in a liturgical service by performing minor duties
2 : one who attends or assists a leader : follower
Did You Know?
Follow the etymological path of acolyte back far enough and you’ll arrive at kéleuthos, a Greek noun that means “path” and that is itself the parent of akólouthos, an adjective that means “following.” Akólouthos traveled from Greek, leaving offspring in Medieval Latin and Anglo-French; its English descendant, acolyte, emerged in the 14th century. Originally, acolyte was exclusively a term for a person who assisted a priest at Mass, but by the 19th century, the word had acquired additional meanings, among them “attendant body, satellite” (a meaning used in astronomy) and “attendant insect” (a zoological sense), as well as the general meaning “assistant” or “sidekick.”
Build your vocabulary! Get Word of the Day in your inbox every day.
The lawyer arrived with one of her acolytes, an eager young attorney who’d recently been hired by the firm.
“His main rival, Henri Falcón, a former state governor who was once an acolyte of Mr. Chávez’s but broke with him to join the opposition, received 1.8 million votes.” — William Neuman and Nicholas Casey, The New York Times, 21 May 2018
After about forty-five minutes along my trail, I call it mine simply because it ends at my front door and there’s no reason for anyone else to be traveling along it, I come across my usual resting spot on a downed maple tree that’s been resting there long before I came across it for the first time.
If it isn’t the most comfortable dying seat in the forest then it’s damn close and I’ve yet to find its rival. The horizontal trunk is in the perfect state of decomposition; taking on the feel of a firm sponge with its cover of crab moss enveloping it like some glue that binds and providing a supremacy that disintegrates. Laying the pelts at my side I look around just to look.
Too often, we connect with our surroundings for the simple reason to find something. Something is always there; something is always missing, but we can observe the mixture of the two by just looking with no expectations.
I don’t see them, but I can hear the dogs moving back around in my direction because they know I’ve stopped. I wouldn’t say they follow me on these trips to town because they are always out front and just out of sight on either side of the trail, a hidden army that is ready and on call in any situation.
I catch a glimpse of the one I call Snout in front of me about forty yards on the opposite side of the trail. It’s a beagle with those classic black and brown spots on a white background and he got his name because his nose is always to the ground. I guess nothing gets passed that dog as far as scents go. I’m sure Snout is the only purebred among the entire bunch except for Top. Top’s a medium sized German Shepherd that’s as thick as a bear cub, and he earned his name by way of dominance when it came to the pack coming together over the entrails of my kills.
Top and Snout are my two favorites, not because of their pureness of the breed but because of what has to be called personality. I don’t treat them any differently than the other dogs I just think of them differently, and that’s enough for me, and I believe it’s enough for them as well.
It’s almost reminiscent of the adage to keep you friends close and you enemies closer, reversed and tossed upside down.
The other eleven or fifteen or so dogs, I never know how many for sure because there are always more arriving while others seem to vanish, I do have names for them ranging from Jack to Con but of course I never call them by these names and of course they never call me by mine. It’s a fair arrangement as kindnesses go, considering they deconstruct my every morning.
I hear some more scraping around in the leaves off to my left but can’t get a look at them.
After a few sips of Local 88, Walter’s homemade stuff, I grab my bag and head on down my trail. Always looking; always wondering if my dad’s remains are just over here or maybe over there. A needle in a haystack they all say. The only way I know how to reply is that that may be, but the needle is there none the less. And you never know he could still be alive. Still wandering around breathing the same air I do and making his living off of the land he cherished so much and maybe, just maybe, being going lost is exactly what he wanted. I have to accept all possibilities.
Towards the end of my trail and about a good fifty yards before it connects to the road which leads into town is where I always try to split off in a different direction so no worn path actually connects to the road, fairly damn ingenious if you ask me. After all the best security is invisibility and if a passerby along the road can’t see an entrance to my trail then he’s not likely to go wandering off into the forest for no reason; we still have wolves in this part of the country after all.
Choosing my split off point I reach the road and turn left towards town. Back the other way leads to Shepherdsville a good twenty-five miles or more, at least I’m told, as I’ve never had a reason to go there myself; just more bothersome people living their bothersome lives caught up in a rat race to the grave.
I’ll admit I’m part of the race, but I choose to race time instead of the other rats.
The dogs have held back now, they rarely follow me any further once I leave my trail. I’ve often wondered if it’s because they remember the cruelty of the society that once loved them, gave them a home, and then tossed them out into a strange existence where they had to fend for themselves or if it’s because they’re afraid of what they might do to those civilized folks if they got the chance to get close enough.
Fear and revenge are close companions in any man’s eyes.
Why should a dog be any different?
The next bend in the road brings Briggs Street into view with its storefronts huddled tight together on one side and Stolman’s mill on the other. The buildings on the right are covered in planks of curled and twisted boards hammered into place by strong hands that surely earned a meager wage to construct the framework for someone else’s dream to come true. The buildings stand in a wooden contrast to the shine of Stolman’s metal exterior that they say keeps the inside of the mill at a cooler temperature. One side of the road is the past clinging to existence while the other is the future attempting to break through and become the future.
About quarter of a mile before town on the right side of the road rests the Hapsburg Cemetery, a rod iron archway about fifteen feet high stands as a solitary entrance with inch thick poles topped with pyramids and handcrafted vines wrapped and frozen in place that swirl from top to bottom all while more iron creates its gated boundaries. The name of the cemetery is carved neatly into a single piece of oak that has to be five feet wide, two inches thick, and no less than three feet tall and gently sways from the entrance archway as a caution to all that enter that this is cherished ground, ground that belongs to those who should and will be remembered.
I always stop here to say hi to Orville the grounds keeper. A man of at least seventy and built like a thirty-year-old lumberjack. If one was to guess his age they would probably come up with nothing over forty-five. The only age giveaway has to be a hint of silver in his hair. His walk is the purest specimen of self-reliance. His eyes always seem to be deep in thought about what they are gazing upon, as if to say to the world, I accept my place in life and death. Shoulders as wide as a horse always are carried back and proud with the slightest intimation of a regret held back by years of living. His clothes hung to him as if ready burst at the seams. A ratty shirt with arms rolled a quarter of the way up. Pants that have clearly seen better days are weathered from constant work. The only piece of clothing that resembled something fairly new were brown leather shoes that seemed never to show signs of abuse.
Orville was born and raised in Hapsburg and quit the mill long ago when he became sickened at how the town had let the cemetery become so ragged and grown over. His grandparents, his parents, and his sister are all buried within its iron artwork, and he just couldn’t stand the sight of his family being forgotten about. So, he just walked into work one morning and said he was done and then walked down to the jungle of a graveyard and has since turned it into a Garden of Eden for the dead. When all else is being beaten down by the weather, the greenery of the graveyard stands out as if it’s an oasis filled with hope and caring. The towns’ people are continuously amazed at what can be done if one only sets their mind to it. An Eden for sure, a man’s journey towards dedication and willfulness to build a jewel within the dust.
Out of all the people in town old Orville is by far my favorite; the childhood hero type, a Robin Hood for the deceased. A man that knows more than one would guess and hides it to the point of silence and dignity.
I cross beneath the archway and notice Orville isn’t around so I head to the far back left of the land following the stepping-stones evenly placed, neatly trimmed, and hand carved from local sandstone; there I kiss my hand and place it on top of my mother’s headstone. No words are said; none need to be said—what can I say? How would I start? Where would it lead me?
There he was. Sitting like nothing had happened. Like the past few days had meant nothing. How could a man go thru so much and react so little?
The trees of the cemetery were bristling with an energy that wasn’t their own. She glanced once more over at him just to see if any new movement was detectable, nothing. Why he was still wearing that awful piece was beyond her. She glanced around at the stones and the names upon them. Men and women and children all long forgotten and yet still fighting to be recognized among the masses that once filled the surrounding town.
The grave markers stood strongly and defiantly in the mist of nature’s grasp, standing together as one; one message and many voices.
“Come look at this one!” he said. “See how the chisel cut away what wasn’t wanted?”
“Take that thing off so I can at least pretend to understand what you’re saying.” She said.
He lifted the mask and revealed his true identity for all to see. But no one but her was there to cringe at the site. She tried not to look. Her eyes focused on the stone before her.
“This is where the future will ponder the past.” He said.
Of all the markers to focus on he rightfully always chose this one. It meant the most. It stirred his thoughts. It scared him enough to never forget.
Sliding his contraption back on he led me out of the graveyard that rested in the middle of an abandoned society. The people had left long ago. As we walked the empty street covered in browning leaves and patches off dying grass the sky loomed close to the ground. Hovering like a tattered blanket.
The shop fronts were frozen in time by dust and debris.
“Where are you taking me this time?” she asked.
“To show you what is unimportant, what is distinctly useless.” he said.
His true identity wasn’t immediately recognized when he had come to her a few days ago but now what he is was becoming more and more obvious to her. At first she had fought off the idea because she wasn’t one to believe in such ideas. However, as the days passed and the sights had come and gone she couldn’t help but begin to at least entertain the thought.
Her memory was short, going back to only a few hours before he had shown up. This certainly bothered her but she could come up with no rational explanation.
He led her out of town and down a crumbling road pointing here and there and commenting about the state of what was left to be seen in no particular tone of voice that hinted at any meaning at all at what he chose to narrate on.
The trip was going on for what seemed like days but the sun never set which made it hard to determine how much time had actually passed. A moonlit night tugged on her imagination as one might squint to see a distant figure just out of focus. She mostly kept her gaze at his flowing movement. Trying to place all he was saying into some kind of comfortable context.
“Stop!” he said. “What are you thinking at this very moment?”
Shuffling to a standstill I said, “That no matter how far you take me I can’t help but feel that I’m getting closer, but to what I still haven’t figured out.”
He just turned his head and continued on.
Our walk finally came to an end at the edge of stone wall that reached out in both directions until the stones reached the horizon on either side.
“Here I must leave you.” He said
“Why have you led me here?” I asked.
Taking of his mask once again he came close to her and whispered into her ear. Once what was to be said was said he simply vanished.
Stunned, she stood stiff with confusion. Quickly snapping back she kneeled down and started to draw a figure in the dirt. What was this to be? Why was she to do it?
This was for certain though; she knew where it was to be done and when it was to be completed. She turned her back to the wall and began her journey back to the dead stones. Making her way down the broken road remembering the sights he had pointed out before she reached the empty town that was filled with empty store fronts and empty houses and moved along the deserted street towards the cemetery.
Standing at the entrance she once again knelt and drew the outline of the object that was described to her. Lifting her hand and staring curiously at the figure scribbled in the loose dirt a faint smile filled her lips. The triangular shape that rested before her was confusing and exciting.
“Build them a pyramid.” He had said.
She sounded out the last word and tried to give meaning to it.
She stood up and looked around at the standing stones. If she was to finish in time she had to get started.
Finishing my pipe and downing a couple cups of coffee, I head back in and slosh some water around in the mug and hang it on its nail above the sink. Grabbing the pot off the stove, I pour what’s left into my porcelain basin a wash up. Molded candle wax mixed with pine needles makes for a great soap bar. Even cleaned up I’m nothing to write home about, but you got to make do to do what it is that needs to be done.
With my woodsman beard brushed as well as it can be, hair tucked behind my ears, and yesterday’s clothes put back on I grab my walking stick finished from a knotty pine branch, very light yet strangely stout, and head for the door. Reaching the door, I turn and slip back to my bed and from underneath I pull out my revolver, can’t believe I nearly forgot that.
Sometimes the whiskey puts your mind three steps ahead instead of two steps back.
Back to the door again and flipping the latch I step outside and lock the antique padlock with the key I wear on a chain my dad gave me; my second family attachment. Not that the lock could withstand much abuse if anyone truly wanted in, but the mere appearance of it decorating the planked door is enough to keep most people out. And if it isn’t the intruder may never leave my home until I return; those damn dogs do have their ways of keeping an eye out for such events no matter how far off they wander. Makes one wonder.
Standing once again on my shy porch, I reach for the fox and beaver pelts hanging high on one of the oak cross beams.
I’ve got to keep them up high and out of reach of those damn dogs and any other pesky investigators that wish to secure them for themselves.
Peering from just inside the tree line the form of Joseph appears in the stranger’s eyes. He never notices; he thought to himself. Not once in all these weeks has he caught a glimpse of my goings on. He wonders if Joeseph could ever handle the truth that he carries for him? Surely someday he will notice, and our meeting will take place, but, he must take the first step.
Being bound by his mother’s words is a cage Joseph cannot escape. If only he would pay attention as much as those dogs do, I would have completed my task long ago. I’ve crept as close to confrontation as I will allow myself to. These thoughts burn inside my head like a hot branding iron, and I’m not sure how much longer I will last. After all, I have my plans to set into motion.
Oh, the day will come when everything will collide in one giant eruption. A move here, a push there, what a beautiful tapestry will I weave. Lasting impressions is all I have to offer this world and what a memory the others will have to cherish and hold years to come. That’s it Joseph, be on your way and enjoy the time you have left.
Pelts in my bag and a quick glance upwards at the growing daylight I start my journey to town, passing by the litter of scraps that the dogs have either decided to save for later or have chosen to ignore for whatever reason. My walk will carry me six miles away up and over two ridges and on one small trail that sees mostly the animals of the forest save for myself and the dogs.
It’s one of those trails that can play tricks on your mind in certain light, the kind of passage that always pops up in children’s fairytales as a warning to the youngsters to never stray too far off from the known. However, in the other kind of light it can be as enchanting as a painting that is never quite finished giving up its beauty. Right now, though, the light is somewhere in the middle of those two, quietly balanced on the decisive edge of time itself. A strange time to see the forest as it is deciding its day’s mood. Deciding rather it should show its weaknesses or jump forward and lash onto whomever dares to cross into its territory. At this particular moment, the coin has been tossed and is still flipping its way through the cool air and which side it lands nobody can ever know until you venture into her canopy of whispering reaches.
My name is Joseph Tooley, and it was my father Jacob that went missing nine years ago out here in these very woods. No trace has ever been found of him in all that time. And believe me it hasn’t been for a lack of looking. His disappearance was the main reason I moved out to this area and built my cabin. The only other is that after my mom passed I felt no motivation to be a part of society and all the trouble people have to offer. Truthfully though, people don’t like me much and honestly I prefer it that way. Don’t get me wrong there are a few folks in town I get along with and actually enjoy a conversation with now and then. Like old William and his younger brother Walter who runs the tavern on Briggs Street, Caleb the local preacher, who I run into at the tavern quite a bit by the way, Orville the grounds keeper of the cemetery, and Mrs. Beatina who I trade furs with for candles and coffee and such. But other than that the rest are ghosts I try to avoid.
If you’re wondering of any sort of family history beyond that I’ll do my best to pull some details from the mist of memories and the haze that comforts my mind.
The oak tree, till the day I die I’ll never forget that oak tree. A symbol of love and commitment to something bigger than all of us, standing tall and strong in the face of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly changes.
My parents met in New York City in 1861 arriving from Europe with hopes of a better life, a better life than their parents had, as all those stories go. They told me they met in a rainstorm crowded under an enormous oak tree with webbing branches full of green leaves big enough to catch the largest of rain drops in the hopes of remaining dry. As they told it, they began to talk about their new lives in America, where they were from, and what their plans were.
Mom wanted to become a painter; an artist. Dad said he hoped to become an officer; justice. But, truth be told, as much as they wanted a better life than their parents had they both yearned for the countryside, be it an American countryside rather than a European one but a country life nevertheless. As the rain let up they decided to continue their conversation while walking around the city passing the most popular landmarks but too caught up in their own words to even take stop and notice and from then on never left each other’s side again, getting married not even a year later on the 2nd of June 1881.
Sounds like a happy beginning, because it was, but the city can be a tough place for people whose hearts are outside of its persistent pursuit of an enlightened life and one day they decided to follow their hearts and head for the country with the memory of that old oak tree leading the way.
They settled in Hapsburg, Indiana, a small town in the south-eastern part of the state and populated by about two to three hundred people and surrounded on all sides by virgin forest, where the animals surely outnumbered the town folks by twenty to one, on the 7th of August 1882 where mom worked for Mrs. Beatina and where she made just enough money to have some left over to follow her painting dream and dad at the wood mill where his mind was always someplace else.
A year to the day after they came to Indiana I came along in 1883. I came along just in time for autumn to show its colorful face and bring a new sense of togetherness for my parents. My younger days were great by any standard and I was a happy child if not a little rebellious. I was never much at school and didn’t make it very far, but the one thing that I am grateful to have learned is the ability to read. People say numbers will open the future, but words will let us get there and my parents were not the least upset at my choice to leave school and start working with my father at the local mill.
But as I stated, as these stories go, money got tight, and dad started hunting and trapping to bring in more money. He quickly found he had a knack for this type of effort and most of all he loved being out there in the silence of nature; that’s probably where I got it from. Anyway, with me still employed in the mill dad decided to quit the confining mill and hunt and trap full time and that was the first step down his path of vanishing into the very forest that gave our family so much because some years later on a fall morning dad gets his gear ready and kissed mom goodbye and slaps me on the back and tells me to wish him luck.
That was the last anyone ever saw of dad. A few towns’ folk, including Walter, William, Orville, and Caleb, spent a few weeks looking for him, but they eventually gave up hope and stopped and decided he would return in time. I couldn’t blame them for that; they tried, and they helped. What else could they do? They had their lives to move along in. But, none the less they stopped looking.
I never did.
I searched all of his ‘secret’ spots in and around the pass the now carries his name. Those places where he had the best luck in bringing down the most elegantly furred foxes, fattest squirrels, and the biggest deer the forest had to offer. Places that he would tell me about late at night; they were my bedtime stories that seemed to drift me away into a remote wilderness that had everything a man could ever want if only he knew how to blend in with the forest itself and listen to what the trees and animals were saying by their movements or lack thereof.
From the very beginning, I always promised mom I would find out what had happened to dad, and she would just turn away and smile one of those smiles that held more than I could ever guess. I think she finally gave up hope as well, along with the rest of the town, after five or six months had passed but she would have never admitted to it and her sorrow always came across to me as a sorrow that somehow I was not completely aware of or could entirely understand.
To me mirrors and dreams are the only way we are shown what we try to hide within ourselves.
It was during this time Walter’s Local 88, the best homemade whiskey around, began to play a bigger role in my life; as a companion and an escape, beginning each day earlier than the previous one and each night lasting a little later.
It was my attempt at trying to ease the daily pain of my mother’s loss, my loss, and the courage, or desperation some would call it, to keep looking for some sign of what had happened to my father on that fateful final trip out the door and into the forest. That sea of silent trees that see all but never speak of what they have seen. Some people in these parts call them witness trees because of what they look down upon on the forest floor and hold onto their sights tightly intertwined in the bark and grain and roots and limbs that reach out to tempt every passer-by with leaves of knowledge.
With dad gone I did what I could to help mom with money but it never seemed to be enough, how could it be because my drinking and my searching enveloped me like a hot bath that ultimately drowns you into a desired eternity. Eventually I gave up my job at the lumber yard to give my full attention to those witness trees and trails which meant we had to move to the outskirts of town where people who are slowly being swept aside seem to congregate in small shacks all thrown together as if they were a pile of dirty clothes. Unwanted land filled by unwanted homes built with unusable wood with unsatisfied people living a life chasing the shadow of optimism.
I hated those shacks like one hates themselves after a bad decision that costs more than imagined. Yet I hated them not because of the shacks but because of the way people who didn’t live in those shacks would look at mom and me when we came into town to get our supplies for the week; as little as those supplies became to be over the months.
Four more years passed and mom’s health got bad and slowly she lost her fight, I sometimes wonder if she was even fighting. There’s a saying that goes something like: the only way to win a fight is to walk away. I think mom walked away, and I like to think she won. After she had died, I had to sell most of mom and dad’s belongings to pay for the burial and headstone which read:
May the truth always lie within
I never quite understood why she wanted that saying on her headstone, but, she was always persistent in making me promise her that those words would grace the granite stone that marked her resting place. All she would ever say about it was that someday she hoped I would understand its meaning. To this day I still can’t figure out her intentions but those words burn deep into my consciousness every day at one point or another.
After that, I took the leftover money and the rug that now graces my cabin and moved out past Jacobs Pass and committed my following years to finding out what happened to my father. I was sixteen and on my own.
viral quotes and pictures
Poetry and Stories by Mark Tulin
Inspired to inspire
-Wander often, wonder often-
Lignes invisibles associant des idées, créant des images.
.... and Viral Images
People - Life - Passion
Author | Freelance Writer
Fiction in all its forms
My book, movie, TV show, and video game reviews.
The Struggles, Education, and Triumphs of a Writer
Think pieces on soul-searching, machine-learning, smart-working, home-making and well-being.
Baw wit da baw. Just sayin'.
Blossom Your Mind
I'M HERE TO CONVEY VALUES, AND VALUABLE STORIES FROM THE PEOPLE WHO LEFT A RICH LEGACY TO THE WORLD.
Your guide to all things fiction writing
Mental Health & Self Care Advocacy
It’s about emotions, feelings, observation, food, travel and many more
𝚆𝚎𝚕𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚎 𝚝𝚘 𝚖𝚢 𝚌𝚊𝚞𝚕𝚍𝚛𝚘𝚗 𝚘𝚏 𝚌𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚟𝚎 𝚖𝚞𝚜𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚜.
Creativity Is a Wild Thing
Learning to be the best you
Certain Songs Get Scratched Right In
A Writer of Imaginative Fiction Who Travels Alongside a Wooly Monster
Your most important show!
The Struggles, Education, and Triumphs of a Writer
Fantasy Writer, Geek, Bibliophile.
Books are immortality
Trivial views on significant issues
speaking my mind and hoping you relate
Feel the music~
Just a fiction writer, trying to reach the world.
short prose, fiction, poetry
Just another WordPress.com weblog
A NEW AUTHOR'S TURBULENT RIDE
identities, journeys, fictions away from the roots
by KT Workman
Where Fictional Characters Rule
Author/Journalist Jessica Samuels
The home page for Mike Schlossberg, author
Official Outskirts Press Blog