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Commentary On The Bible: James 1:8.

20181124_083303“A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8).

Double-mindedness is the lack of faith and the opposite of everything a personal God is about. The basic belief of a personal God is to believe the impossible is possible, (Matthew 19:26). A personal God a God who seeks fellowship with His creation and wanting His creation to know Him fully and completely as their God and Creator. There is no room for double-mindedness in such a perfect fellowship with God. God created us for fellowship with Him and He wants that fellowship and has made that road to fellowship known as His Son Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. As it is impossible to walk in two different directions at one time, so it is not possible to have faith and also tell God that you doubt Him on any issue. Who is God to tell us His opinion on what can or cannot be done after our own opinion has been stated by us. Is that what we are truly thinking on the subject of faith? One either has faith completely in God and His Word or does one not have faith at all? To paraphrase a well-known verse from the Bible, one cannot have faith and doubt and expect to be able to serve both well or completely. God commands faith. He desires faith above all that He requires of the Christian life.

As the Scriptures so plainly state clearly, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6). Without faith, that foundationial bedrock of the Christian life, it is impossible to please Him; it needs to be repeated. Where is there room for double-mindedness in the absolute trust and faith in God? Go to James 4:8 and notice first of all what admonition that is commanded by Scripture, “Draw night to God.” The statement requires a faith that God has stated over and over in Scripture, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrew 4:16). That we should come boldly to the throne of grace and not fear God of heaven and creation is boldly stated. This is the message of a God of holiness that indeed desires only our repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The moment the veil in the Temple was ripped from top to bottom upon the death of Christ on the cross the throne of grace was thrown open and none can close it up. The veil in the Holy of Holies was ripped down the middle allowing the sinner to enter the throne of grace to indeed obtain mercy and salvation by the blood of His Son on the cross that Passover.

The beginning of the curse of human double-mindedness began in the Garden of Eden between the Serpent and Eve with Adam standing by and watching(?). It began when the Serpent uttered the first seeds of doubt and rebellion to our first parent’s, “Yea, hath Gods said?” (Genesis 3:16). And with those simply four words spoken the fall of humanity began into sin, rebellion, and eventual eternal destiny into hell. The penalty of sin had begun with the first bite of that fruit, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). Because of those four little words sin entered the human condition. The Serpent knew full well what he was doing to God’s most important creation. As stated by the Apostle Paul in Scripture, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12). Once sin entered the human story doubt began to take center stage and to reproduce the faithlessness of the world of humanity. Faith should be so easy but man’s heart of self-doubt and sinful pride of humanity on God’s perfect creation; sin cursed the universe. God must have grieved knowing full well what was coming unto the earth because of Adam and Eves disobedience to His very clear and direct command to not eat of that certain tree, (Genesis 2:16-17). God was very clear and direct on what Adam and his descendants can or cannot eat. Adam and Eve knew what God had stated about the Tree of Good And Evil-Do Not Touch nor Eat! It was such a simple command which seems to be the hardest to obey. Eve even repeated to the Serpent what the Lord had commended them, “And the woman said unto the Serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (Genesis 3:2-3). It was a simple command and both of our original parents knew the person who had made the commandment. Four simple words from a snake tempted our parents and sin entered the world of human history. The action of disobedience began then and one of it’s fruits was the faithlessness and rebellion against their Creator. Adam and Eve received the Word of God from God Himself and still failed; both failed because both, not just one, but both ate of the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil.

Sin always has consequences. There are consequences to the sin of double-mindedness that even effect people who don’t even know about. Double-mindedness can be a great lesson to all the world.The greatest doubter of them all would probably agree, the Apostle Thomas. The saying goes he doubted the resurrection so we wouldn’t have to. Personally I do not think he, the Apostle Thomas, doubted from a purely sinful heart because he very much wanted to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. He wanted to believe in Jesus as the long awaited Messiah promised by God via the prophets and their message. Why else would he have bothered to have stayed in Jerusalem with the hiding and terrified other disciples after the death and burial of the hopeful Messiah. The doubting Thomas I believe fought his doubts; he hung around this unknown wandering preacher for three and a half years. He simply voiced his doubts as he knew they must be voiced so as to understand and hopefully believe. Read the Scriptures of the Gospel of John 20:26-29, “And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them, then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, behold my hands; and reach nither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Understand the magnitude of Thomas’s words to Jesus as He stood before the kneeling Thomas and he uttered those words, “My Lord and God!” With those five words the disciple Thomas became the Apostle Thomas and he no longer doubted or allowed the dark doubts or moments of his sinful flesh to enter his thinking about the Messiah. Such was his belief in Jesus that the Apostle Thomas would one day travel to India and die for his risen Lord and God for the defense and faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Thomas was a bold doubter and s seeker of truth, the way, and the life. One would have to be a very bold to declare he wouldn’t believe unless he could actually thrust his fingers into the very wounds of the Son of God, God in human flesh. Thomas was a true and honest doubter in search of truth who actually did want to find the truth of this wandering preacher from Galilee; truth doesn’t want to remain hidden.

A true doubter, a true double-minded individual who isn’t searching for truth will not ste as Pilate did as Jesus stood before this very Roman minded man, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Was Pilate mocking Jesus or was he actually asking the question; or maybe a little bit of both. Was Pilate a true questioner of why Jesus was being brought to him and why the Jewish leadership wanted Him dead so badly? I believe this very Roman Pilate was trying to understand a people and culture his Roman mind and own beliefs just couldn’t fathom; only one God? The Roman mind had a very hard time understanding the Jewish mind or it’s God or anything else about the Jews. And who was this homeless preacher that the Jewish leadership was so afraid of that they wanted Him dead at any cost. I think thought he was a seeker of some kind of truth because he asked the question whether in a mocking tone or not; he asked for a reason. It is highly unlikely he had not heard of Jesus before His trial; there would have been investigations the moment a small crowd started following Jesus around; Romans didn’t like small let alone large gatherings they didn’t understand or trust. I am sure he had reports sent to him but for the most part he took no serious notice of the wandering Jew until He was brought to Pilate as a criminal by the leadership of the people he ruled in the name of Rome; and Rome ruled with an iron hand. But Pilate did ask the question, “What is truth?” Hard-hearted doubters don’t seek truth in fear that they might actually find it and have to change something about themselves. Jesus knew full well who would seek truth and who would reject Him as the preacher of truth; that included this pagan who asked the question. Pilate must have studied and stared at this lone Jew surrounded by the Jewish leadership so angry they wanted Him dead and gone. Who was this lone preacher from Galilee that so angered the Jewish leadership? He had to wonder who this Jesus was? But he also failed to stand up for the truth of the moment and sent Jesus to the cross to please the Jewish leadership. Pilate in the end bowed to the pressure of those who wanted Jesus dead and to keep the peace between Rome and the people he ruled. Pilate was of two-minds at this strange trial of Jesus but in the end he simply gave in to the pressure of keeping the peace and pleasing the leadership that had brought Jesus to him but still he must have heard of Jesus and must have heard the reports of the things Jesus had said and probably reports of His miracles when crowds came to see or hear this man from Galilee. If he was mocking Jesus it seems strange he would choose that to ask. Romans are practical people, not big on philosophy that would appeal to the Greek mind.

The Apostle Paul was no man with the illness of the double-mindedness as he stood before the Roman governor’s Felix and Festus at his trials before being sent off to Rome. He preached boldly before King Agrippa and Candace. King Agrippa uttered words he most certainly regrets to this day due to his own double-mindedness and blindness to the truth of the Gospel Paul preached, “…Almost thou persuades me to be a Christian.” (Acts 26:28). The Apostle Peter showed no double-minded behavior when he preached that first Pentecostal message on the day the Church was born via the Holy Spirit’s coming unto the Jews of Jerusalem who heard the Apostle Peter preached, ((Acts 2:1-40). The Apostle Peter and the Apostle John stood boldly before the Sanhedrin after being arrested as they preached at the Temple, (Acts 3-4:1-20), and again the Apostles boldness when arrested again as Scripture related, (Acts 5:17-42). Note there is no moments of doubt in their bold preaching and message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Note the bold and direct message by Stephen, “Acts 6:8-15, 7:1-60), and take notice that Stephen didn’t have time to doubt but preach and spread the message of the life and message and death and resurrection of the one they risked everything for. The early church boldly went forth and preached and suffered and where killed in the Rome of the Emperor Nero for a faith that they had no double-mindedness about. The Apostle Paul’s whole life was committed to the belief and faith that God’s Word had and was fulfilled in Jesus from birth to resurrection. Paul wrote his epistles to defend the truth of God’s Word and Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel; he never once denounced his Jewishness. Paul defended the Gospel at the risk of his life on a daily basis and he never doubted what he was preaching even as he stood before the Roman Emperor Nero boldly preaching Christ.

The Apostle Peter crucified, the Apostle Paul beheaded, James the Brother of the Lord and author of the Letter of James was thrown from the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem and then stoned and then beaten to death with a club. The early Church history is a testimony of the faith and lives of those who preached with boldness; read ‘Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and see the history of the church down through the centuries and it’s defense of the truth and message of the Scriptures. See the life and message and boldness of John Wycliffe, Jon Huss before the Reformation and see what they preached with boldness and died for; Huss burned at the stake for his faith. These men defended and preached the truth of the Scriptures without doubt that it was the truth. They risked everything for the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; even unto death as so many before them suffered. They showed a faith in God that can be easily defined, “Ye, hath God said,” and they believed it and defended it and died for it. The Apostle’s and their disciples and down through the centuries of the true Church of Christ has preached with boldness and assurance of what they believed in. Faith has no room for doubts and double-mindedness of a faithless heart and mind. The Reformation by Martin Luther, William Tyndale, (burned at the stake for his faith), John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, John Knox, and other names that preached and lived their lives by what God had said in His Word. There is no room for double-mindedness in  the Christian life; no room for listening to Serpents with destructive agendas. There is no room for the idea that God said one thing but meant something else when God Himself is very clear in what He says in His own Word. The Reformation was the Age of Discovery of the Truth of the Scriptures and the return to the Gospel message of salvation by grace and grace alone. The Reformers decided that what God had said was of more importance than what the Roman Catholic Church had to say about what the Bible said. The point of the Reformation was the return to the belief that what God said what what He meant and was clearly spoken, “Ye, hath God Said.” was the foundation and bedrock of the Reformer’s message and some paid with their lives. The message of the Gospel is one of redemption and reconciliation to God and His Word; that was message of the Reformation. That was the message of the Apostle’s Paul and Peter and the early Church; there was no room for double-mindedness. It was the message of the brother of the Lord, James the leader of the Jerusalem Church who was killed for his faith in the Messiah was of no doubts who he believed in  when he was killed for that faith. James stood his ground and declared and preached that Jesus was indeed the Messiah with a single doubt in his mind. One either believes what the Lord has stated or he allows doubt to destroy his faith; neither can co-exist in the same life. Either God meant what He said or He lied. Either His Word is what He claims it is or He lied. Either be of a single mind on the subject of His Word or reject it because that is by definition what having a double-minded faith means. One is either the Apostle Paul and James in faith or a Judas in double-mindedness and disbelief in what God has declared He has said in His Word He said this about, “…for thou hast magnified thy Word above all thy name.” (Psalms 138:2c). That is God declaring the value of His Word even above His own name. Believe it and obey it or reject it but the Church of Christ can’t do both.

REFERENCES/RECOMMENDATIONS

Bible. (KJV).

Foxe’s Book Of Martyrs. By. John Foxe.

The Search For The Twelve Apostles. By. William S. McBirnie.

History Of The Waldenses. By. J. A. Wylie.

Christianity In Iraq. By. Suha Rassam.

The 40 Most Influential Christians Who Shaped What We Believe Today. By. Daryl Aaron.

Understanding Theology In 15 Minutes. By. Daryl Aaron.

Christian Theology For People In A Hurry. By. Daryl Aaron.

Reading Scripture With The Church Father. By. Christopher A. Hall.

Learning Theology With The Church Fathers. By. Christopher A. Hall.

Christianity’s Dangerous Idea. By. Alister McGrath.

The Cross Of Christ. By. John R. W. Stott.

The Message Of Acts. By. John R. W. Stott.

The Message Of Romans. By. John R. W. Stott.

Martin Luther. By. Eric Metaxas.

Bonhoeffer:Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. By. Eric Metaxas.

William Tyndale. By. David Daniell.

William Tyndale. By. David Teems.

John Knox:Fearless Faith. By. Steven J. Lawson.

Majestie: The King Behind The King James Bible. By. David Teems.

Pontius Pilate. By. Paul Maier. (Novel).

The Flames Of Rome. By. Paul Maier. (Novel).

Paul:A Man Of Grace And Grit. By. Charles R. Swindoll.

The Apostle: Life of Paul. By. John Pollock. (Novel).

Stranger Than Fiction. (Short Story).

20190728_075547The author had simply gotten up and left the room. That was an hour ago.

“Where did he go? He should be writing and not talking to that whore…”

“She’s his favorite.”

“He should be in here finishing up the latest chapter of the book. Not calling up call girl whores for paid sex. It’s disgusting!”

“He’s having writer’s block again?” So the inner voice spoke up again as the fellow being spoken to took notice of the lack of the author in the small study. “He gets like this whenever that particular writer’s demon attacks.”

The room the two voices occupied for the moment was indeed very empty of the author but the voices continued to discuss the author’s latest work. It was for the most part a normal sized room with more books than the room was meant to hold; it was wonderfully crowded the author would tell his sister, Lydia, every time she commented he had too many books. It was a cluttered room of a cluttered life and the author liked it that way he told his smirking sister. He of course accepted her good natured kidding as she was just as much a reader as him  but she was more selective whereas he would read and collect any book that might be interesting or used in a future story.

“He gets like this whenever he feels like he is writing crap or simply displeased with the progress of any particular story. The story is going too slow for him and he doesn’t like going slow.”

“Well, we both know he is preoccupied.” So the first voice replied having the air of knowing full well where this was all going to go at some point. “I think he is having issues or problems with his main character. His main character is giving him fits it appears…”

The other voice was amused, “Why? I am quite easy to explain and let’s not complicate the issue at hand. He bored with the present story and has no idea what to do with me now that he’s created me. I feel neglected or he’s simply bored with the character he’s created?” The main character of the being written novel responded with a sour mood of one not really liking the feeling he was being left dangling just because the author may have become bored with his own creation in the middle of writing a paragraph. The character of the novel was not pleased. “I’m the most important character in the damn novel!”

The other character spoke up a little put off by the first character’s lament, “You really have no reason to be complaining. You’re still very much alive in his novel. You simply don’t like the idea that he left you dangling while you are knocking on an apartment door of your next victim I am sure.”

The main character ignored the comment, “I know who came and why she’s here.”

“I doubt you know anything of the sort. How would you know it’s her?”

Still not pleased, “It’s always her. He always calls for her. She comes like a moth to the flamethrower whenever he needs the feel of the soft and gentle touch of a woman’s body. He’s very fleshy. Likes their feel against his own skin and he claims they smell good and giggle on cue. She helps him rise above the doldrums of bad or bored writing. He’s not really happy unless he’s writing or at least thinking about it.” The tone was cold, apathetic, and simply not pleased, “He should be in here finishing his book. He’s done enough research for the moment on H. H. Holmes. He needs to get back to writing….”

“Well, she is pretty. She is quite the pretty girl with all that long flaming red hair in that pony tail of thick hair she wears rather proudly to flaunt her very obvious female charms.” The second character laughed, “Those blue eyes are very alluring to him.”

“She’s wearing contacts and that hair is dyed.”

“Maybe he should not finish the novel and let you suffer.”

“I will not allow that to happen. He created me to be his greatest work of fiction. And I will not allow myself to simply be half written let alone half told as a story. Will not allow it. I will not allow myself to end up on the rubbish heap of half-finished works and forgotten characters never realized. Not happening. I have the right to be written and finished as a character and I will not allow some bitch with fake hair and big tits to get in the way of my complete life story being told. My story will be finished!”

“You’re a killer in the story. A bloody psychopath who enjoys killing and inflicting pain on your victims. You’ve already killed five women so far. And the last one was me. What did I ever do to you to be killed like that let alone what you did to me before you finally got tired of me and killed me without a thought?”

He chuckled at the memories, “Take it up with the author once he’s done with the bitch in the other room. I didn’t create you and I certainly didn’t know you before I saw you in that used bookstore. I can only act according to my creator’s imagination. I’m the real victim here you know. I should be pitied. Have you not read my sad and depressing backstory?”

Puzzled, “What backstory? has he written one? I know he’s been doing much research on H. H. Holmes, even Ed Gien has entered his research material. It’s becoming a slight mania of late.”

There was a slight calm of silence as they stopped talking and took notice of talking outside the room they occupied. A soft gentle voice was heard talking to the author and even a slight giggling at something he was saying.

“I wonder if he is talking about the upcoming trip to New York to see his parents; he might be inviting her to come along and keep him company. He likes to bring them not to mention her on these trips.” Adding, “She sounds older than she actually is. Everything about her suggests youth I would say. I briefly caught a glimpse of her when she came tonight….”

Not interested, “I liked the last time we were in New York as he took the first few chapter’s with him to show his father. That didn’t interest me but so many people and so many people to kill if I could really escape this novel he is trying to write and I am trapped in! I yearn to be free of this novel and experience real life and real killing.”

“What would you do if you could escape the confines of his novel because in reality you can’t is obvious. You’re a creation of his imagination not the other way around. You can’t function outside the novel. You’re nothing but fiction!”

The main character thought about that comment as he listened to the girl in the other room, “I really wish I could kill her. She’s delaying my full and complete story being told. I want the pleasure of strangling the life out of her and watching the light go out in those fake blue eyes. That’s my pleasure.”

“You do seem to forget that you are nothing but fiction. Nothing but a character at the whim and imagination of our creator.”

Not pleased but a thought came to him, “Maybe he will write the bitch into the story and I can kill her then?” A thought was coming to him, “You came from the same place so don’t get so high and mighty yourself. You’re just a very brief figment of his imagination as well. You’re simply a composite of some of his women he knows or has known I think. It doesn’t matter. Just remember you are at the whim of him as much as I am….” He stopped as the girl in the other room laughed at something, “I want her dead. I want to gut her slowly….I hate them you know. As for you, you are fiction and based on at least two women he knew….”

“I am fully aware who I am based on. Let’s stick to you and your pathological blood lust to kill like Jack the Ripper. He’s literally made you into Jack the Ripper reborn or never died.”

Grunting with an amused sound, “I am Jack, I am Jack reborn, I am Jack the damn Ripper. Butcher and killer of women and I enjoy my work. And like my glorious handy work in England I shall continue my bloody deeds. I cannot die, I am immortal!” Being dramatic, “I am a god!”

Ignoring the last part, “This book he is writing scares me with such a hostile look of one possessed by something unholy. He writes like a demon sometimes. It is almost demonic this story he’s writing. It’s nothing like he use to write. It’s like something inside him finally snapped and he has become someone else created by the very research he has been doing.”

Laughing, “I like the carnage he is writing. The pathological is better when you are writing for the demon. He created me to be a modern Jack the Ripper. He got tired of the fluffy crap he had been writing before. He wants to see just how far he would or can go with his fiction. Hence me. Hence making me Jack the Ripper either reborn or simply somehow related to that bloody glorious bastard of Victorian London. He created me to see just how far he could or would go in print….and maybe further?”

“What does he do when he’s not here?”

Again there is chatting, laughing, and what sounded like one of them kissing the other and the other reacting to the feeling and pleasure of it.

The second character spoke up, “I wonder if he will bring her in his private sanctuary? He’s so private about this room when he’s writing.”

“Disgusting sound.” Not pleased, “No, I am sure once he are done talking, chatting, and flirting with the little whore they will head upstairs. The screwing will then begin with much stupid sounds of love making slowly echoing about the room.” He laughed, “But the smell, scent, odor, that whisper of the act of sexual intercourse will fill the room and then what? Nothing! Just slit her throat my dear creator and get back down here and finish my story!”

“You have no romance at all. As Oscar Wilde stated, ‘Women are meant to be loved, not understood.’ It’s a great quote and true.”

“I was not written to have romance or to make love as some Casanova. No, I was created to kill and to keep killing until stopped I suppose.”

“So if I asked you why you killed me you wouldn’t really know would you?”

“I didn’t create you in the story, so I cannot answer your question. I killed you because that was why you were put there. You were born in his imagination to give me someone to kidnap, torture for three days, and then I slit your throat.” Laughing, “I think I remember watching you die and the light in your eyes slowly diminishing into a dark blank stare of the dead; the blood was everywhere.”

Sadly, “You enjoyed killing me that much?”

“Well, that was how I was written. I was written to kill and enjoy it. You were created to be killed and to be forgotten rather quickly. Besides I am the victim of society and you just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time….”

“One minute I was alive in a bookstore and the next I was being kidnapped, tortured, and then, well, as you said, you slit my throat.” Another thought came to her, “I don’t even think I had an actual name. Maybe I did but I don’t remember it.”

“I didn’t bother to ask.”

“Was I married? Did I have children? What was my job? Was it at the bookstore? Who was I before you so brutally killed me?”

“Don’t know nor do I care to know.”

“Not at all interested in my life before you butchered me?”

“Not in the least am I interested in you or any of them. I was written to kill and to only think about hunting for my next victim. I must act in accordance of the written story as my creator has written it. It’s not like you’re an actual person. You’re just a character, an idea, a figment of his imagination. You are a character to do as he pleases with and there is not much if anything you can do about it.” He again laughed at his own humor, “You are only written to fulfill my need to kill. You are simply here to do as he commands with his pen…” Not pleased, “There he goes with his whore upstairs.”

Foot steps could be heard going upstairs with low chatting and laughing.

“Hope he’s gentle with her. She’s such a sweet and pretty girl so full of life it sounds like.”

“Ha, I hope he rips her heart out while sitting in her and watches her die!”

“I guess you also can’t act any different than your written. So you to are at his imagination’s whim. You can’t escape from the novel…”

The main character started laughing, “We’ll see about that!”

“You cannot escape from the novel Jake, you’re fiction!”

“I wonder sometimes…” He stopped talking and seemed to be listening for something upstairs, “I wonder sometimes if I haven’t already escaped….”

The Punctual Guests. (Short Story).

20190728_075547“So, when is he arriving?” So asked the skeptical of the woman on the phone.

He knew the tone all too well, “He generally arrives around nine-thirty. Always nine-thirty on the last Thursday of the month.”

“He died on a Thursday I take it.” Her tone didn’t change but she was being patient on the subject, “Seems strange to me.”

John of course indulged in the understandable skepticism of the woman on the other end of the phone, “Yes he did, about six years ago but he still comes for our Thursday chess game. He liked chess as he said it gave him a break from writing and a break from the stresses of being creative. We would eventually talk about his latest play anyway, but he liked chess.”

Her tone wasn’t going to change, “And now, John? What could he possibly want to discuss?”

He was actually amused by her question, “We still talk as if nothing has really changed since he is dead but he seems un-phased by the information.” He looked at the chess board with no real thought of the game, “He seems to have no idea sometimes that he’s dead. Been dead for six years, I’ve told him that a few times…”

“His response?”

“He just looks at me with a strange far away look of someone not quite really sure he understood the statement or not really believing it.”

Interrupting uncomfortably, “But he’s dead, John. He’s been dead for six years.”

She seems to be on the verge of hysterics but calmed herself slowly as he replied to her tone, “I have told him that a few times. I was and am quite clear on that point that he is dead. I try to make it clear that he was dead and shouldn’t really be here playing a chess game with the living. But Joyce, I just get that strange far-away look of someone who’s not fluent in English.” He glanced over at the antique clock ticking away with the pendulum swaying slowly back and forth. I explained the facts of his dead, Joyce. I was very direct with him as I usually was or am or whatever this is now, but but I explained his funeral as well.”

Joyce interrupted with a slight laugh, “Yes, yes, I was there. So where the women in his life…well, the important one’s it seemed were.”

“Yes, the five women he called his Court and he certainly held court like a damn monarch. It was quite the scene with those five sitting there looking as if they had indeed lost their king. He had a strange ability to make women like him without trying too hard. They seemed to just like him….they were his favorite’s those five.”

Again the tone, “His royal favorites indeed?” She sounded either uncertain or puzzled John thought as she finished her thought, “oh, yes them. Another Henry VIII and his royal wives.”

“No, he actually loved them all for what they brought to his life. They were all important in one form or another. They sat together and seemed to share a grief… they were all his Muse’s for one reason or another.”

“Yes, the five of them sitting in the front pew and looking and weeping at the closed casket and others in the room wondering and whispering who they were and how they were getting along so well.” Joyce sounded as if she was trying to do something while balancing the phone; sounded like she was making coffee? “They certainly seemed to really have loved him on an individual level?”

He could tell she was really trying to not laugh at him at the the conversation they were having. He remained patient.

“…They seemed quite comfortable with each other at the funeral.” She was stirring a coffee cup, “Did he really love them? He seemed a rather difficult character to be around too long. Could be rather abrasive.”

He knew the feeling but he understood him, “He loved them all and they loved him back as in their own way. He did seem to have the amazing ability to sweep women into his life without really much of an effort on his part….” He again glanced at the clock as it was a usual habit on these Thursdays when he knew he was coming. He had about fifteen minutes before the arrival of the long ago dead playwright and friend. Of course in the very beginning of all this visiting, chatting, and chess playing there was the initial shock, uncertainty, not to mention plan believe it wasn’t happening or possible but it was. As the visitor himself he seemed between two worlds of knowing he was dead and not really believing he was dead but having a feeling vivid dream; John wished it were a dream but he knew better by this point. He was being haunted by a dead playwright; why couldn’t it have been Shakespeare? Or Eugene O’Neill? Good grief he’d have taken Henrick Ibsen over the fact he was being haunted by a friend who was dying too soon of cancer. It was the more unpleasant part of the haunting because the fellow looked ill even as a ghost. And the fact he actually killed himself before it got beyond endurance for him he shot himself and the gun shot wound was very evident. It was very unpleasant to the first few times he showed up and just stared and then started talking as if it was very normal for the conversation they were having; chess followed.

Joyce was interrupting his thoughts, “I didn’t introduce myself as I am sure they had no idea who I was, what were their names?” One of them looked familiar but she didn’t feel it was important for the moment to bring that up.

John had been taking in the room when he realized she had asked the twice and said his name a few times. He spoke up slowly as figured his punctual guest was just that and would show up as he always did; Charles Chilimidos was many things but he certainly was always on time for the last six years of these strange visits; the chess game started about the fourth visit but at least it was something to do other than talk with a dead man. And strangely enough they even discussed a play he was still writing; so even from the grave he was still writing? He started talking, “Well, Lizzie was the red head. She was his favorite actress of his plays and his last play was simply written for her. He adored her and certainly enjoyed writing for her. Lizzie Nelson could do no wrong in his world even when she was throwing a temper tantrum that she didn’t like a certain scene or dialogue in the play.”

Actually seemed pleased he brought her up, “Ah, yes, Elizabeth Nelson, I have heard good things about her acting abilities but also that she can be quite a hand full. Hard to work with some directors.”

“She has a temper that is true…”

“Well, there is that red hair of hers.”

He laughed, “She is a credit to that flaming red hair of hers. Charles adored her. Next to writing he may have loved her more than any of them. He certainly enjoyed writing for her….” As he talked about the girl he scanned his office and the books he had and had inherited from Charles’s left behind collection of books. It was one of the things that had made their friendship last as long as it had and that would be books and mostly history and it’s akin subjects. He continued, “Lizzy was over here yesterday and not very thrilled with her latest play. Thinks it crap but it’s a play and she liked to work. As she said it’s a play and it’s being on stage and it’s better than nothing at the moment.”

“What kind of play?”

“A period piece. I’ve read it, it’s okay.”

“Author? Name of play?”

He had to actually think about what Lizzy had told him, “It’s a short play by an Arthur….um, Lizzy told me briefly, Arthur Johnson, a play about the woman painter Artemisia Gentileschi…..it’s a first time play and for Lizzy a minor role but as she stated rather tartly it was better than nothing….”

“Never heard of either the playwright or play.” The coffee was sipped loudly.

“Well, it’s a new play, Joyce.” He replied with a look again at the room and it’s contents of an office library of a man who wrote on the subject of history as he did; when he wasn’t teaching it at the University of Minnesota. To be truthful to at least himself the haunting did begin when he had transferred Charles’s books into his own collection of books. There was of course the obvious connection to the books and the man who owned them; but still, it was still unsettling to be haunted for six years by the guy in the same clothes he died in. And the head wound was unpleasant to see but asking the ghost to wear a hat seemed just as insane as being haunted by the playwright in the first place. Those it was also unsettling to lose a few chess marches to the dead man in question; and smile of victory was uncalled for he wanted to mention but didn’t. But the ghost seemed pleased by his little victories against the living.

The voice on the phone interrupted his thoughts, “What of the other women?”

He would have preferred to have discussed his real problem and that was a ghost who refused to accept his death and wanted to discuss a play that would never get produced. But he took the cue to discuss the women in the dead’s life; why was she so interested was a question he wanted to ask but suspected he knew the answer. He took of sip of tea and rubbed his tired eyes, “There was of course Mia Crockett. She was the blonde with the thick pony tail and knee high boots…” Wasn’t exactly what he would have worn for a funeral but he wasn’t Mia.

Joyce interrupted, “Mia? Oh, yes, the pretty blonde who looked very much like the Swedish girl she was. I remember her.” Her tone seemed to imply something but she continued, “I simply saw no reason to introduce myself to them.”

He thought of telling her of Charles’s kid with pretty Miss. Mia, but declined to do so on second thought. He had not seen much of Mia after the funeral except for the occasional phone call and once and a while visit. Well, in the beginning anyway. He had lost contact with her just a few months after the funeral with the pregnant Mia of about two months. It was a complicated problem and had kept it all to himself after Charles had told him of the affair with Mia. Even the living Charles couldn’t fully tell him the timeline of the events between him and the girl who gave birth to his daughter; she would be six of course.

Joyce felt John was drifted away into silent thoughts, “I thought be preferred red heads?” It was a stupid question but it got John back into talking to her and not himself which she was sure he was doing. “She looked pregnant?”

He replied calmly, “She was. She would give birth to a daughter looking more like her mother than him.”

“Does his, um, ghost, ever ask about her? Or the kid?” Asking abruptly, “What is the kids name?”

“Her name is Isabella Rose, looks very much like her mother….As for asking him about her? I have thought of asking but I seem to be unable to get the question out. Something about the look he gives me that unsettles me when I even mention Mia. I think there is a part of him that feels guilty for how he ended his life. He didn’t want her to see him waste away and maybe it was a truthful reason but still he feels guilty about it I think….he didn’t want any of them to see him waste away like that from cancer. It’s a terrible way to die.”

Joyce again interrupted with that tone of the unbeliever in ghosts, “He doesn’t ask at all?”

“I think he wants to, Joyce. It’s strange but it’s the look in those vacant eyes that at the same time seem to see far more than I am seeing. But I think a part of him wants to know what happened to Mia and his daughter.”

“I find this all a bit hard to take or believe let alone understand, John. I really am finding this hard to take seriously that you are being haunted by a ghost who wants to discuss his latest play, play some chess, and discuss not much else…”

“I understand your skepticism, but he will be here shortly.”

Her tone said it all, “And the other women of his court?”

Thinking about it, “Well, there was Clara Pond. She was the one with the short cropped brunette hair and seemed to be the quieter of the five; which she is. She doesn’t do well around a lot of people. But to hear Charles talk about her she was his best friend despite how he might have felt about the others. He told me she was just easy to talk to and became his one friend he could talk to about anything. Lizzy was only interested in his plays. Mia was interested in him but for other reasons which became obvious. But, Clara, I think like the others he was hopelessly in love with despite his best effort to not be….”

“What, didn’t believe in love?”

“He more than once told me that a writer must fall in love with his Muse’s but he must never touch them as they then cease to be sacred to the writer as a Muse.”

“But Mia certainly was touched, John.”

He smiled at that, “I think that was one of the things he felt or still feels guilty about. He did indeed touch his sacred Muse.”

“Writer’s are strange creatures, John.”

He glanced at the clock, five minutes before Charles arrived.

“Yes, they are.”

“The other one, the last Muse as it is? The dark haired short girl with those large eyes. She was unnerving when she looked in my direction….wearing all black.”

He would have laughed but Joyce sounded uncomfortable, “That would be Anna, who at the time was working on her own first play.” He was curious why she didn’t mention Anna’s sister who was also there; Lydia was the opposite of her sister in everything.

“Really, have I red anything by her? Don’t recall her name.”

“She vanished from the Court upon his death so I don’t know if she ever finished her play. But it’s possible you have and I just don’t know about it. But he did try to help her be a better writer as she was trying to write a first play as I said. But Anna seemed to have vanished from the scene after the funeral. I do hear from Clara at least once or twice a week…” Lydia had remained in touch for a while but she too vanished with her sister Anna.

“What about Mia?”

He was about to answer when a voice interrupted him.

It was cold, distant,but strangely friendly for a dead man, “Is that my editor?” Charles asked as he appeared in the room with a look of one not quite sure of his surroundings still. He did glance at the chess board with a strained smile but it seemed pleased as well if that was possible.

John simply responded as he looked up at the sight he was getting use to but not really liking, “Yes, Charles, it is Joyce.”

“Tell her I will have the next play done by next month.” He sat down in front of the chess board and studied the board and seemed pleased by something. He glanced up with a look of triumph of some kind only he saw or understood or cared about? The voice that came was low but steady, “Checkmate again in three moves, John. You’re so bad at this game….” A skeletal thin hand hovered over a chess piece as if contemplating his moves, “But then again you are the only one who will play with me anymore.”

Joyce spoke up noting the sudden silence, “You’re going to tell me he’s there aren’t you?”

“He’s informing me I don’t know how to play chess.”

“Yes, you don’t.” Charles replied calmly as he looked up from the board with a very dead looking expression, “But it’s just a game to you.” He briefly returned to the board, hovered over the bishop as if he was thinking ahead to the next move, “Chess requires skill, talent, and concentration….none of which you have ever had for the game.”

“It’s not my game, Charles, it’s your game.”

“That is true. it was Mia’s game though. She could play very well.”

Joyce spoke up, “Something is wrong with your phone, John. I keep hearing static at your end.”

John wasn’t really listening anymore but he was surprised or pleased that Charles had brought up Mia’s name. “Yes, Charles it was more her game.”

“Have you seen her lately?” He was still looking at the chess board, “She was pregnant as you know. I wonder what is happening with her and the child….my kid as you know.”

Slowly, measuring his comments carefully, “Mia hasn’t been around since your funeral, Charles. I saw her a few times and she called once and a while but I have not seen her in a while…”

Charles looked up and stared at him with a look that unnerved John, “You keep saying that about my funeral. I don’t remember any funeral, John. I simply want to know where Mia is and what happened to my kid…”

Joyce had given up trying to get John’s attention and hung up; John had heard the phone go dead and slowly hung up. He also had a hard time not noticing the gun shot wound as it was an ugly scar across his left part of his head; it was a terrible and constant reminder that he was talking to a dead man.

Charles moved his bishop; he smiled at the move for some reason, “I simply want to know where Mia is? Want to know where my kid is? She was quite fond of you and I am sure you and her talked about me.”

John moved a pawn, “Charles, you are dead. There was a funeral and she was there. So where the others.”

“Others?” He frowned stiffly, “What others? You mean my court I suppose.”

“Yes, Lizzy was there, Clara was there…Anna was even there…”

“I saw Clara yesterday, she walked right passed me. Very strange. Not like her to do that.”

“Charles you’re dead. You’re a damn ghost. Been one for six years…”

The ghost looked at him as if he had been insulted, “Have you seen Mia, John. I need to talk to her. I need to talk to her and explain why I did what I did…” He looked about the room, “I saw Clara yesterday, walked right by me, very strange…” Looking at him with a far away look, “I haven’t seen Lizzy in a while. How is she doing?”

This confusion of thoughts and questions was normal, “She’s fine. Lizzy is in a small play. She’s doing well.”

Charles returned to the chess game, he moved a rook, amused, “Checkmate in one move the rate you’re going.” Looking about the room as if he had never been there before, “I have some of those books, John.”

He declined to point out the obvious, “Yes, so you have told me.” He slowly moved his own Rook and took of Charles pawns.

Charles frowned at the move, “Didn’t see that.”

“She was going to have my daughter you know. Mia would have a girl and I know it. That’s fine. It might be good to have a daughter…” Looking at the board as if seeing something he didn’t like, “I haven’t seen Mia in a while….have you seen her at all lately?”

The look was pitiful thought John but he wondered if being honest was the best course of action. The truth was he knew full well where Mia and her daughter was because like the wandering spirit playing chess with him so were two very wandering ghosts who seemed to come and go as they please more so than Charles. He had lied to Joyce of course about not knowing where Mia was or Isabella but as she didn’t believe in first ghost story why would she believe in the other one. The fact was that he wasn’t being haunted by one ghost but by another one with a daughter who lingered behind her mother and stared at him with such a look of the lost or uncertain that it was hard to look at the young six year old little girl without feeling like it was a looking straight through him; and Mia asked the same question. Where was Charles? It was the same question every time and nothing more was asked before she simply vanished from the room. Sadly both looking for the other and never being in the same place at the same time.

Charles was still talking as he again hovered a thin hand over the board, “I am just asking where Mia is, John. I need to apologize for what I did…it was selfish.” He moved a pawn with a comment on John’s ability to play chess. “I shouldn’t have gone out that way. I should have finished my play anyway…”

He had found out the death of Mia and Isabella only a year ago when he read in the newspaper of a drunk driving accident claiming the life of a mother and child; a week later he was being visited by their ghosts. Why him was his first thought but after a while he stopped asking. Both ghosts of Charles and Mia were looking for each other and never really ever being in the same place at the same time but why were they coming to him of all people? And why the little ghost looking at him so strangely? It was a unsettling look of someone knowing something she shouldn’t but did. The way Isabella looked at him was unsettling and he didn’t mind admitting it. Her dead dark blue eyes held an accusation he didn’t like while Mia asked where Charles was.

“It’s your move, John.” The hollow voice commented from across the table, “I still see checkmate in one or two moves.”

“The games not over yet, Charles.”

Charles laughed, “Does she look like me, John, my daughter?”

“She looks like Mia. All blonde hair, blue eyes, and already a drama queen to the core.” Well, she was when she was alive because another truth was that Mia and Isabella were on their way to see  him after so long an absence; she had mailed him a letter letting him know she wanted to see him but didn’t say why. She arrived and what transpired and they talked about he still remembered as being brief and to the point. He wondered if he should tell the guest across from him of the conversation and what she told him; would it do any good or change anything.

The ghost was talking as he seemed contemplating a chess move, “Have you heard from Anna or Lydia? Have not seen them either in a while. They were sister’s you. Not twins though they did look much alike….” The sunken eyes looked at him, “I am aware that I am dead, John. I only deny it to make it easier for me to deal with the fact I am dead and no one but you it seems can see me….” The smile was all wrong, “I once told you that a writer should never fall in love with his Muse physically. Well, as we both know I did with Mia…”

He had to ask, “Not the others?”

The ghost as much as possible laughed at the comment but it sounded off, “Yes, on some levels I loved them all. How could I not fall in love with them. They became important so falling in love with them on some level was going to happen…but as I said once, a writer should never fall really in love with their Muse let alone the one Muse who inspires the most out of a writer…” He moved a pawn slowly and smiled slightly, “Still checkmate in one move, John. Are you even trying to win?” He studied the room, “I admit I know they were at the funeral because I am sure I was there but I don’t remember it well. It seems my memory of the present events doesn’t last long and I seem to only remember fragments….” Again the crooked dead smile, “I know where Lizzy is. I was there at the theater watching in the back row….I had many of my own plays done there so it appears I am allowed to haunt there as well….but I cannot find Mia anywhere. Seems strange to me I can’t find her or my daughter?” The look was almost pleading an answer, “I think even my wonderful red haired beauty suspects I am about. But I remain mute. Let her focus on her career.”

“She still misses you. I am sure they all do.” He was still contemplating telling the specter the whole story and maybe the truth as well. “I still keep in touch with Clara, she talks about you…”

“Ah, sweet Clara, my silent Muse and my favorite person to tell everything to when Mia was not about. She understood and knew.” He returned to the chess game, “It is still your move, John.”

“Do you see her? Or should I say have you attempted to see her?” He still found it difficult to believe or fathom he was having a conversation with a ghost who either knew or pretended he knew his state of existence. There did seem to be some inconsistencies and parts that made no sense but then again he wasn’t a ghost.

He frowned best he could as it seemed painful to do so, “I seem to only be able to haunt as you would say either here, at the theater, or what I assume is my old place…” Whispering, “Doesn’t look familiar to me and I think there are people living in my old apartment so I am not there much as I don’t think I like them much…not sure where I really go when it’s not one of those places.” As if remembering the actual question, “I see her when she visits Lizzy, they were friends you know. But that is only at the theater and I think Clara suspects even more than Lizzy that I am about. She actually believed or believes or whatever in the world I now occupy.”

“But you don’t make yourself known to them?”

“Let them suspect I am about, it’s more interesting that way. Besides, knowing my girl Clara, she knows.” Again he looked about the room, “This is an old house isn’t? All the original architecture and wood paneling?”

“You know it is.”

He smiled at himself or something, “I remember our conversations and days of other chess matches in this room.”

“We did….” Correcting himself as the ghost gave him a look, “Ok, still do.”

“It’s still your move, John.” Asking again, “Where is Mia? I can see it in your face you know where she is? Where is my favorite Muse?”

He was blunt, “Mia and Isabella are dead, Charles….Just like you.” The reaction was as he suspected and that was a cold hard stare of dead sunken eyes but hardly any real human emotion, “She and Isabella were killed in a car accident….”

Joyce slowly hung the phone with a puzzled feeling to the whole business of phone calls lately and no one at the other end; except a strange static that at times did sound like words being spoken. She did recognize the number but that of course was not possible as Professor John Larssen had died a year ago but that was the number that kept coming up on the caller ID. It made no sense and besides she didn’t believe in ghosts. What was really odd was that she was living in his old house so how could she be getting a phone call from the very house she was in? Not possible. Ghosts don’t exist she thought out loud with a uncertain voice.

The phone started ringing again; she really didn’t want to answer it but she did.

Status Quo. (Short Story).

20190728_075547The Paul McCartney song, ‘Uncle Albert’  always came to his mind whenever he thought of the man he called Uncle Albert married to his Aunt Natalie. It couldn’t be helped but the song was always in the back of his mind.

It was an odd way to discover one’s uncle had died in Montana at eight-eighty via the morning newspaper. He couldn’t even remember the last time he had seen the man. What was it about twenty odd years ago? Maybe longer? When did Aunt Natalie die as that was the last time he had actually talked to the man who was his uncle. What was that event also some twenty odd years ago? Has it been that long? When did Aunt Natalie die? He had to admit he didn’t remember when she died and that slightly troubled him as he did like the woman; she was always pleasant to him. It was before he headed off to basic training via the United States Navy in San Diego; that would have been the Summer of 1989 and Tiananmen Square in China. It had to have been several years before that attempt of a military career, but he couldn’t remember when it was she died. Aunt Natalie he had not thought of in years until he read of his Uncle Albert’s death in Montana. She had died of lung cancer and that he did remember all too well. A terrible way to die and it was a terrible time for all involved.

He scanned the brief blurb of a news story into the death of his Uncle Albert. The picture in the paper certainly showed an older version of the man he once knew but it was him living in Montana with a new wife. He didn’t notice her name anywhere in the short obituary.

He looked up from the story and realized he actually felt very little about the death he was reading about. He felt nothing? It wasn’t complete detachment as any death should give one a sense of loss and mortality. But he felt a detachment as if the man’s name was known to John as a second thought. An after thought? That was a better way to put his own thinking at the moment and it sounded, well thought John, better than detachment or apathetic for that matter. He returned to the news story, “….Albert Wiess was the editor of WACKO Magazine…” John outright chuckled at the mention of that particular humor magazine that he grew up on and collected older issues for a while. He wished he could remember when Aunt Natalie died as it was now bothering him. Was it late November as he vaguely thought he remembered they were panning on a last Thanksgiving get together? It seemed vaguely correct but he wasn’t sure. Hid father looked ashen and certainly shaken by the news of her death as he hung up the phone that day but at the same time made no other emotional sign related to the news. He simply stated that Natalie had finally died of lung cancer. His dad just stood there slowly placing the phone back and just looking awful but not much else. He stood mute and seemed to want to say something but couldn’t find his voice. His features remained stony and cold but it was obvious he was effected but he still said nothing as he stood in the kitchen; John had made an attempt to show some understanding. The hug was stiffly received and felt uncomfortable and to be noted to John it felt unwanted?  Unwanted? John thought about it and did remember the feeling of the hug as being unwanted. It was a stiff and unpleasant moment by two people who really had drifted too far apart to make what was happening a moment of understanding between them. There was no sense of the act being a moment of shared grief at the loss of Aunt Natalie. It was a moment of two lives no longer feeling much an attachment even in a shared moment of grief. That he did remember all too well.

He flipped on his computer and then went to his Facebook page, the first story he noted as he scrolled down was, “…members of the Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Book Club in New York are at it again….” John laughed as he read the whole story and noted the few photo’s that where part of the story. All pretty girls well blessed by DNA and skimpy outfits indeed thought John. But not one red head? Bummer John thought with a laugh as he did notice one pretty brunette with a long pony tail and deep set blue eyes but beyond that he noticed nothing overly interesting in the story. He scrolled on.

His Aunt Natalie once told him to try and understand his dad and he did try; for a while anyway. He returned to the newspaper story.

“…Mr. Wiess was the editor of over twenty years of the satirical magazine, WACKO Magazine….”

WACKO Magazine wasn’t as good as MAD Magazine but he wasn’t going to tell Uncle Albert that. It was good but just not as good. He read on. He also collected more back issues on that magazine than his uncle’s. It was just funnier.

“….Mr. Wiess’s first wife of twenty-two years died of lung cancer in her later forties.”

He was pleased they mentioned Aunt Natalie; he didn’t notice this the first time but then again he just briefly read it the first time. But he was happy they mentioned her.

She was fifty-one when she died that he did remember.

Aunt Natalie tried to get John to understand his dad. She loved her older brother and simply wanted her oldest nephew to understand a man disconnected from his son. The word disconnected certainly described the relationship that didn’t exist between father and son. It had ceased a long time ago and it seemed to remain that way. But he also felt it wasn’t a disconnection he created and he couldn’t explain why or when it started. It was a strange thing trying to explain to Aunt Natalie a disconnection and it’s origin and not being able to fully explain it. John understood what she was trying to accomplish but it was a one that wasn’t going to be fixed if only one side was making the effort? It was how it felt and he did try to explain that to her; not very well he realized after they were done talking.

“….Mr. Wiess was remarried a few years later and retired from his editorial duties and moved to Montana….”

John wasn’t close to his Uncle Albert but they had a friendly relationship and it was funb when they came from New York for visits to Minnesota. They could always talk about chit-chat stuff and of course the magazine. He was a likable guy with a good sense of humor and he seemed to like John and his endless stupid questions of what it was like to be an editor of such a magazine. As for his dad? Well, he wasn’t sure how the man saw or felt about Uncle Albert. John did get the idea that he was always trying to be like him and to have the money he was making that his dad could only dream of. Money was important to John, Sr. Very important and it was a status he wanted and it was apparent. John jr. just liked talking to the guy.

Aunt Natalie was talking, “Just try to understand him, Johnny. That’s all I ask…” They were sitting in John’s small room, “Deep down he’s a good man, he means well….”

John struggled to be kind, “Does he, Aunt Natalie, does he really because I don’t see it….” He saw the pained look come and go in her face, “I get the distinct impression that if I simply vanished he’s barely notice….” He wanted to add that he was sure the man would be a lot happier with just calling his youngest son his heir apparent and that John simply didn’t exist. But he didn’t say that to be kind.

“He does love you, Johnny.”

John found it too hard to not state the obvious as he saw it, “I think, Aunt Natalie, he loves the idea of loving me as his son, but his actual son…” He could see he was saying too much and kindness was long gone as a point, “He doesn’t even know what I am interested in…” Motioning about the room, “Doubt he even knows my favorite subject.”

She looked about the room uncomfortably as if he had made a point.

John continued to scroll down his Facebook page as he sipped his root beer; it was from yesterday so it was indeed flat. Nothing was really grabbing his attention this rather bleak outside wet grey morning that was still drizzling since he got up around four to walk the mutt. It was suppose to be a wet day and for once the weather types got it right for the day in Minnesota in late March. He noted with an amused smile that an old friend from a while back excepted his friend request; Hannah Wilson was a kid the last time he saw her when he worked for a small church and school. She seemed to be doing well. He scrolled back up to the top of the page and stared at the blank little post something box. He should type something he heard himself comment as he heard four little paws head toward her water bowl; Penny was up and about.

The truth was as he cut out the news story for any future possible reference, John didn’t really any great loss as he thought about the man. It was a detachment he didn’t feel too bad about? He wasn’t sure how to describe his feeling at finding out his Uncle Albert had died in Montana and had remarried to someone he never knew about. He did care about Aunt Natalie’s death. A connection was disconnected when she died. Wrongfully taken away was a better way to put it! That was how it felt then and it still felt that way. He still remembered her final days of life. She was skeletal and it was a terrible feeling being around her that he didn’t want to be around her as she slowly died of the cancer that was killing her and turning her into a living skeleton. It was the only way he could describe it without getting to graphic. She barely resembled the loving human being he remembered as his Aunt Natalie he felt close to. He could talk to her despite her efforts at times to bring her brother and nephew to at least some point of talking. It never happened as she wished and John and his dad drifted even further apart. It was difficult to talk to someone rather okay with not having much of a relationship in the first place and simply made it clear that if John wanted to go away would be fine with him.

He finished clipping the news story and again returned to his Facebook page post something blank space. He started typing something just to type something. He deleted it and simply stared out the window at the dreary day falling from the sky in a light drizzling ran and wind. He started several times to type something interesting or at least funny but ended up deleting it each time. He typed, “Bored.” He laughed at himself. It was certainly accurate. He deleted it.

He noted his dad had just come on-line. John of course wondered if the man knew about Uncle Albert. John  also noted that his younger brother was also on-line. He felt a little annoyed but it passed, yes, dad, first things first. Talk to Jason. Let the past go, John, just let it go. Easier said than done but it was attempted more times than not. He wondered if they were talking about the death of Uncle Albert in Montana. He wondered if they cared? Sadly, yes, that was a thought as he sat back in the chair and wondered if he should speak up as the two of them chatted back and forth.

He again scrolled down his Facebook page trying to avoid the obvious part of it that was pricking at him. And it was pricking him. It was as if they were showing off their relationship and shoving it in his face that he was not invited to be part of it. And if he was invited it would be best if he walked behind them and said nothing.

“He is just concerned what you are going to do with your life, Johnny….” Aunt Natalie had continued the conversation, “What’s important to you?”

John had answered the question honestly, “I am not really sure other than writing.” Adding as if he recognized in her look a brief moment of her brother’s opinion, “I have always like history….” He glanced about his room with all the books and most of them on history; he had never known the man to read a single book.

She was just being honest with her questions, “Will that pay the bills, how well does that pay, Johnny….”

He might as well have been listening to his dad but as it was Aunt Natalie he remained polite, “It would depend on how good a writer you are and the subject. But I do enjoy writing, it’s what I like to do, Aunt Natalie.” The look she was giving him was her brother’s, “I like history.”

He stopped scrolling as he noted a post from one of his Facebook groups the American Civil War Chronicles talking about the Battle of Shiloh; somewhere in his room was a biography of Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston that had just arrived via Amazon. His history group would be discussing Shiloh in April so the book had to be bought; nice rationalization he thought. He still took note of the two of them talking still; it was beginning to bother him too much.

He spoke out loud as Penny walked into the room, jumped up on the beat old couch, and stared at him before getting back to sleep.

“Let it go, John, not worth the stress.” To the half snoozing mini-schnauzer, “I suppose their discussing the up-coming seventy-fifth birthday party next November of next year…..it’s a year away after the next one and their discussing a birthday he may not even get to….Oh, joy.” He noted the little stubby tail waging, “I know, I know, it’s that time.” He returned to looking at the Facebook page, “You’re seventy-four this year, next year is the big seventy-five apparently. You’e lucky you got this far….” He knew full well he was winding himself up and simply making himself unhappy about the two of them talking. Did he resent it? Did he resent their relationship?

He got up and Penny followed as he prepared to take her out for her much needed walk and bathroom time.

Aunt Natalie was still talking, “He’s just concerned about you. Wonders why you don’t like eating dinners with them as a family, Johnny.”

“Have you ever tried to eat with someone who sits there practically daring anyone to smile let alone to have a good day without his permission. He makes having dinner together an ordeal I don’t need, Aunt Natalie.” He could see he had said too much but she had asked, “Look, Aunt Natalie, I don’t need to sit there and be glared at….”

“Johnny, he’s just concerned for you…”

He was struggling to be kind still, “No, I think he would be very happy if I went away and didn’t come back.” Again motioning about the room, “He has never once asked about my interests or what I am doing on a daily basis…” Frustrated a brief second, “Instead of asking he just makes up something…”

It was an obvious struggle for her not to defend her brother, “Johnny, you’re being unfair to your father who does love you very much. He’s always been there for you…”

He tried very hard to not smirk, “Yes, I’m sure he does. But having a meal with him feels like a man trying to enjoy his last meal before his execution….”

Aunt Natalie frowned.

John watched with some amusement as Penny sniffed and squatted and sniffed some more at the ground and noticed a rabbit.

“Just try to understand him, Johnny, please.” She had stood up at that point and seemed to know his thoughts before he responded. “He’s not a bad person, Johnny, he does care about your life and what you are doing with it….”

It came out wrong, “What am I doing with my life that is so wrong?”

Aunt Natalie seemed again to be struggling in who’s side to defend, “He’s just concerned about what your doing with your life.”

He studied the woman with the short cropped hair and expression that neither he nor her brother would ever have a good relationship of any kind, “I like writing, Aunt Natalie, and that is what I want to do. I like history and that is what I hope to write about….”

“And if it doesn’t work out that you can write well-enough?”

He knew that she was being honest and wasn’t trying to be cruel but all he could hear was his dad’s voice behind the words that she was saying. “I don’t know, but I am going to at least give it a shot…”

She smiled sympathetically, “I understand that, Johnny, but you need a backup plan.”

He heard the words before he spoke them and to even him they sounded cliched, “I don’t plan on failing.”

“No one does, Johnny, but what happens if this idea of yours fails? What will you dio with your life? He does only care….”

“I’ll think of something….”

He would find out years later just how much he cared on a certain accusation and how much the man simply believed what was said and not once felt the need to defend his son let alone ask his son his side of the story. It would also explain the attitude that the man had toward his son. He wondered if Aunt Natalie knew about it and was simply trying to see what her nephew would say.

“Come on, Penny, time to go back in.” He knew the dog would love to continue walking and sniffing about despite the miserable weather.

He flopped back into the chair in front of the computer and noted that his dad had sent a message.

“Morning, Son.”

The conversation was coming to an end.

“Johnny, I don’t know all the issues or problems with you two. But please, just try to understand him.”

Standing up, “What am I to understand, Aunt Natalie? He doesn’t want me around.”

“He loves you very much.”

Before thinking and the bitterness was too evident, “No, he loves the idea of loving me and how it looks to others….” He could see the hurt he was causing but he couldn’t stop talking, “…He makes no effort to talk to me as if I had any clue about anything….eating with him is just one example of what it’s like being around him….”

Thirty years later John still felt the same way as he slowly responded to the man’s message.

“Hello, Dad.”

He did try to understand the man as she had asked. Except the man kept up his attitude and comments and it simply became unreasonable to expect him to do anything but slowly withdraw from the man’s life. Thirty years it took for him to finally agree with himself that he had had enough; so he barely interacted with the man unless he had to. What does one do when you find out that your own grandmother claimed you denied the Holocaust of all things; and of course he believed her. What is one to do when you are condemned without a trail or even allowed to defend yourself? The angry battle axe  bitch spoke and therefore his father believed it.

“Aunt Natalie, he simply for reasons of late has really taken to making my life uncomfortable….eating dinner with him is just one example of just how much he makes it clear that I am not wanted around. So, I fixed the problem by eating in here. Problem solved by all involved….”

There would be other comments down through the years he would find out about that his dad had told people or to him directly. It seemed to him that everything or anything John did was found wrong and criticized and condemned as foolish. It never ended. Thirty years after he left the house it still continued. The man was even telling people how much a disappointment John was to him. That was the last straw a few years ago when John visited his brother and then still second wife in Florida to celebrate the man’s number seventy birthday party. Since then he simply barely talked to the man. He had found out what he was saying about being a disappointment and that was the final straw and then to add to it the man’s brief little comment about him knowing about John’s dark secrets?  John remember just staring at the man across the parked cars as the man made the strange remark out of nowhere. He wished he had asked what or better yet which ones? To this day he wished he had asked the question just to see what the man would have said but it was on the same day he discovered the disappointment comments. But the Holocaust comment hurt most of all as it attacked his favorite subject as something he had never read a book about.

“Johnny, please, just try to understand him and that he does care about what you do and simply doesn’t understand what you’re doing…” It was obvious she was just trying to get two people she cared about together and talking and hopefully repair a strained relationship. “Look, I know, I know, he can be rather hard on you…”

He bit his tongue.

“….but he does love you.” She was almost pleading now for him to accept her comments, “He didn’t have such a great relationship with our dad, Warren. He eventually joined the military to escape…”

It was a thought that even John was having of late; joining the United States Navy in his case. But he was keeping that possible idea to himself.

“Yes, he joined the Air Force, I know, he’s told me that a few times before.” He spent twenty odd years and retired in Florida.

“He does love you….”

He wanted to ask her to stop saying that phrase as he had long ago ceased to really believe it meant anything but to his dad. “If you say so, Aunt Natalie.”

She smiled weakly, “He does love you. He has a hard time showing it but he does love you…”

John smiled weakly and simply agreed ti give her an out of the conversation.

His dad sent a message, “How are you doing? How’s the weather in Minnesota?”

He eventually did join the United States Navy; got to basic training in San Diego, California; got bronchitis and was sent home when it never got better. He had no regrets.

He typed back, “Just fine. Cold, wet, typical March.” He was always going to be polite despite what he really wanted to do; which was ignore him completely.

“Good. Nice and sunny here.”

John scrolled down the page and took notice of some of the posts and newstories but still felt no interest in reading any of them.

“It’s March here. Might snow again.” The weather talk was going to last a while longer. “But it’s always going to snow in Minnesota.”

He did try to understand the man. He did try to connect and at least try to understand the man as Aunt Natalie asked. But it seemed to him that the closer he got or if a bridge was being built to a better relationship that his dad seemed to panic and do or say something to set things back. It was as if he was terrified of a too close of a relationship with his son so he had to do or say something to derail their relationship’s possible growth. The comments like ‘dark secrets’ or John was a ‘disappointment’ to his dad was a needful moment to return to a status quo the old man good live with. And that status quo was that John was a failure, disappointment, and one with dark secrets? John had tried and had at times felt they were making progress toward some kind of connection but out of nowhere a comment would be made to him directly or indirectly he would find out about a comment. And that relationship would collapse.

Another message came. “How’s work?”

He smiled anyway, “About the same, busy.” He worked at used bookstore. He also noted with a happier thought that Stephanie had just come on-line; finally someone he actually liked talking to. He waited for her to say something; she would eventually notice he was on-line and ask how he was doing.

Another reply, “Good. Good. Everything going well?”

“So far.” He decided to day something to the girl with the deep brown eyes, “Hello Stephanie, how goes it?”

Both answered.

“I work today.” It was too the point with Stephanie’s answer, “A nurse’s aid’s job is never done.”

“Good to hear that work is going well.” Another message came quickly, “I was talking to your brother about next years birthday party. You are coming?”

He wanted to say no but of course didn’t, “It’s over a year from now.”

To Stephanie, “How is working going?”

His dad replied, “It’s number seventy-five. Very important birthday.”

You’re lucky you made it this far but he kept that part to himself, “It’s still a year or so from now. You wont turn seventy-five till next November of next year. A lot could happen between now and then.” He doubted anything would but maybe something would happen that would make it not possible to go to the damn party! He really didn’t want to go and would take anything to stop him from having to go. He had stopped trying to understand the man as Aunt Natalie had requested as it wasn’t worth the stress. He would admit that his dad’s relationship with his brother did irk him and he had some resentment to their interactions but he tried to connect and it was either ignored or sabotaged by one man’s fears?

“Working is going as well as usual with all the drama and those not holding up their end of the work load.” Stephanie Ann Miller replied with a few emoji’s to make her point.

John laughed at her and typed, “Well, it’s job and you have one.”

A frowning face came back; he laughed at her.

“You will be coming to my birthday next year, right?” The message almost sounded like it was pleading with his first born to come.

Stephanie replied, “I like the job but the people, well, some of the people, are more into drama than doing their jobs.”

Replying back, “Just focus on your job and don’t worry about what they are doing.”

John contemplated an answer to the man; Stephanie was easy to respond to as she was fun to talk to and fair pretty in the bargain. “Dad, if I can come to the party in Florida I will. It’s over a year from now. A lot can happen between now now and then….” And he was hoping something would happen; anything would be nice.

“I do my job.” Her reply seemed defensive, “I like being a NA, I like my job at the hospital.”

“I would like my eldest son at my seventy-fifth birth, John. It’s not much to ask of my son that I have always loved and been there for….”

John stopped reading, he responded to Stephanie, “I know you do. You work hard.”

The reply came back quickly, “I do.”

He slowly replied to his dad with no sense of any enjoyment of the coming event, “I’ll be there if I can be there, Dad.”

“Have to stop chatting. Taking kids to kindergarten. Later.”

He smiled, “Chat at you later.” He loved talking with her as she was a breath of fresh air on bad days or any days actually. He liked the girl over half his age; that would annoy the old man as well. He got along with people and his dad didn’t.

Another reply came from his dad, “I think it’s not asking much for my eldest son to show up for his old man’s birthday after all I have done for him.”

He ignored the comment briefly as he took notice of the outside world that seemed to be less rainy and a little sun was coming through the grey and dark clouds. The sun was out there somewhere he thought out loud to the snoozing dog on the couch.

Another comment came, “It’s the least you can do for me is come to my birthday next year. It’s not asking a whole lot from my eldest son to show how much he loves his father on this important dad in his life….”

He slowly thought about a response as he was in no hurry too respond. He stared out side at the weather, thought about the few writing projects he had going on his blog site, thought about the up-coming history group meeting that was going to discuss the Battle of Shiloh, and thought about Stephanie; the last part most of all. It was the seventy-fifth of the man he almost killed but that was another story for another time. He could always use more writing fodder for his stories and such. He glanced about the room of books and other odds and ends of his life and simply thought that if anything it would give him something else to write about. And who knows maybe something worth writing about will happen next year of 2020.

As he typed a reply another song came to his mind, Harry Chapin’s ‘Cat’s In Cradle’…..

 

Desk Of D. A. Sigler Letter To The Church, (Letter #9).

20190803_113808Politic’s is the cult of the modern society and church. It’s the philosophy of the ego and the need to be important and to be seen by society as important to survival of society. The modern church is awash in the idea that they can be just as political as the world and still claim to believe in the complete and absolute sovereignty of God. To listen to some of those who go to the modern church one would think that God is up there on His throne just waiting to hear their opinion on how to rule the universe. I wish I were kidding but listening to some of you I think you honestly believe God can’t wait to hear your political opinion. He doesn’t care about your opinion on politics. He doesn’t care about your political stand on issues. You don’t have a political opinion when you’re standing before a sovereign God of the universe; get over yourself. But to listen to some of you God is very interested in what we do in the realm of politics; not sure where that is in the Great Commission but some of you think it’s there or part of the Great Commission but Jesus forgot to mention it. The Great Commission? What’s that anyway but some old-fashioned idea that Jesus might of mentioned as the main point of the church; but apparently He left out something? Good thing we have the modern church to get the real point of the church’s existence into motion and clarified what the Great Commission actually was and is. To hear some of you talk the Great Commission is actually a political stance and the church just know in the modern era is returning to the original intent of that commission uttered by Jesus the politician. It’s in there some of us are just too caught in that preaching and teaching of the Gospel to understand the full and complete meaning of that Great Commission of the Political Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is a strange and fascinating lure to politics to the human life. What did the Greek philosopher Aristotle say, humans are political animals and it was a higher calling than the personal life to be involved in the public arena as it was more virtuous. The Greeks were fascinated with politics and believed it was the highest of achievements to be part of the public arena of ideas and philosophy. And apparently the modern church has decided to side with Aristotle and reject the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. The idea that human’s are ‘political animals’ is very true as history has shown. But they all fail and fall before the sovereignty of God; sorry, political Christian you don’t get a vote in that government. The Kingdom of God is not a democracy; get over it and get over your own sense of self-importance. News flash, God Creator, you creation. But in a sense Aristotle was correct, humans are drawn to politics like a moth to a flamethrower. The Tower of Babel in the Scriptures, (Genesis 11:1-9), was mankind’s first attempt at a one-world government. Listen to what the people were telling themselves and each other, and it was all about themselves and all about how important they would become and how they were going to reach the heavens; sounds a lot like a certain fallen Archangel and his downfall due to pride of self-importance. God demonstrated who was sovereign and who was created by His scattering them by changing their single language into many. Politics’s feeds the human pride of self-importance and makes it’s follower more interested in being important not helpful or useful or anything else that doesn’t feed the human need for attention. I’ve observed the modern church and or Christian and the way they act one would think the Great Commission was a political philosophy and slogan. Political Christians worry me far more than any other form of political human. The Tower of Babel was a political statement to their Creator and that is that we will rule ourselves. God had other plans on the prideful belief that God’s sovereignty ends at their free will. To listen to the modern church and the words spoken by the Christian’s in them God can’t wait for their political views on his He runs heaven. New flash for you, you don’t tell a sovereign God how to run His universe and your views mean nothing to Him. God creator, you creation, not the other way around. You will never be asked at the Judgement Seat Of Christ what your political opinion is on anything!

Jesus Christ didn’t come to earth to promote a political agenda. The modern church is and has committed the same same sin that the early Israelite’s did when they demanded a king to rule over them instead of God alone. They demanded a king like the other nations. Read I Samuel 8:4-22 and see the history of the Judges to the Monarchy by their demanding they be given a king despite the warning that Samuel repeated from the mouth of God to those assembling and demanding a king like other nations. They wanted to be ruled by a human king instead of a Heavenly King of Kings. They choice a political leader over a spiritual one to lead them and the history of Israel and the church has been a mess ever since. Once the church thought it had converted a Pagan Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity the church was in trouble because politics doesn’t share power with anything  but itself. And politics was going to win because it feeds the human ego for importance where the Gospel humbles the ego to repentance. There is a reason too many Christian’s and the modern church likes to see just how political they can get and thinking it wont corrupt the Gospel message of the Great Commission. The truth is that the Roman Emperor Constantine was never a Christian, never converted from his paganism, and died a pagan. It was wishful thinking on the early church to think that he converted to anything but to the status of Emperor of the Roman Empire.

The church became political under the Emperor Constantine and lost it’s central mission and that wasn’t spreading political influence across the earth! The ancient Israeli’s demanded a human government and got what they wanted and deserved in the fact more of their rulers were godless and very few tried to follow God. They demanded a king to rule them like the other nations about them and that is what they got and the modern church demands to be ruled by their fellow flawed and sinful leaders and are getting what they deserve as well. The great commission became of less importance as the church became more involved in running nations and simply fed it’s pride on growing in power and importance; sounds like the modern church to me. As you can see I have no great love of political Christians as they seem to like to justify putting their political views above the Scriptures they also like to quote as if that justifies their actions. Jesus Christ is not a member of a political party, He doesn’t care what political card you are carrying, He doesn’t care what your political stance is. What He does care is this, have you preached and spread His Gospel. Politic’s is a cult and the modern church has joined with just enough rationalizing to make it tolerable. Politic’s is the religion of modern society and it’s obvious the modern church has joined that particular congregation of worhippers at the alter of the great god political self-importance. The Gospel humbles the human heart, politics promotes pride of the heart. The Great Commission is about reaching the lost not promoting a political cause and promoting government as the answer to the world’s issues and ills. To listen to some of you, God runs for office every four years and He better agree with you on politic’s or else. You either believe God alone is the sovereign King of Kings and Lord of Lords of the Universe or you believe you are? The Gospel is about humility, Politics is about Pride and it comes down to those two choices in your belief in the Scriptures. Choice one or the other because you can’t have both. God sovereign, you are not.

 

The Man From Isandhlwana. (Short Story).

20190728_075547He would always remember the date, January 22, 1879. The name Isandhlwana would always trouble him. It would make him break out sometimes in shaking sweats. He still at times woke up screaming but the last few years he had been without nightmares of that kind that he could remember. He would also remember the bearded fellow he met on the train as he heading back south to Suffolk and his home.

“So, why are you heading to Suffolk?”

The fellow smiled good natured, puffed a bit on his cigar, “I’m on my way to preach at a church and see an old friend.”

“Oh, you are a preacher?” William Buller reacted with pleasure, “My father was a preacher.”

The man was also pleased, “Yes, I am. Your father was you say? Where?”

The young man took notice of the man who seemed very open and friendly, “He actually was a missionary in Natal region, before the war with the Zulus….”

The face seemed to take in the comment with some measure of understanding, “Ah, did he know Livingstone by chance?”

“No, no, never had the chance, but of course knew of the man.” William replied staring at the passing scenery, “Beautiful country, it’s good to be back in England.”

“On the continent? How long were you gone?” The cigar smoke waffed about the man in a thin vapor, “I hope I am not intruding?”

He laughed a bit, “No, no. I don’t mind talking about it.” But he went silent a bit as he watched the scenery go by. He had been gone for about eight years he thought to himself and it was good to be home.

The other man waited patiently for the young man to continue.

“I was a private in her Majesty’s army.” He began with some emotion, “I was…I was a soldier doing his duty for Queen and Country….” He smiled oddly at the phrase, “My father was not pleased with my decision to join the army. Thought I was called for a higher calling. He thought I was meant to be a preacher like himself…” Looking at his hands, “I would have made a very bad preacher of the Word of God as he expected or wanted. I had problems with his faith…”

The other man seemed to be lost in thought as the smoke of the cigar wafted about him, “Faith is a gift that maybe is hidden for a while until it is realized one does have it, young man.”

“I certainly didn’t have his faith.”

“You cannot have someone else’s faith, you must acquire your own. Though the question I would ask is this, what did you believe in under your father’s preaching?” He replied with the air of one who knew his Scripture, “Faith is a gift, but as I asked, what did you believe in that made you not believe as he preached?”

“I think the honest answer is I simply saw no point or reason to believe in a God.”

The older fellow reflected on the comment with a puff of the cigar, but remained quiet.

He noted the man’s expression, “Maybe if I explained what brought me to this point it might be clearer…”

The fellow nodded.

William stared out at the passing landscape of the countryside, “It’s beautiful country this part of the country. I was born in Suffolk. Spent the first thirteen years of my life here in my father’s small church. As long as I can remember he has been a preacher and I will not denied he was a powerful preacher. He wasn’t one of those men who thought it beneath him to talk to everyone. He was a man quit comfortable discussing the weather with the local dairy man as he was with talking politics with the mayor. He was a good man, Sir, I will not say he wasn’t anything but good. He loved to preach, I just didn’t fully believe it as he did or my two other brothers who also went into ministry…I will be staying with my older brother John as he took over the church when our father retired upon becoming too ill to preach any further…He was a missionary for twenty years, a pastor for about fifteen back in England…”

“What illness if I may ask.”

“Cancer of the throat. He could talk but not enough to preach as he wished.” He spoke of his father with some fondness, He could no longer preach, but he could write and so he did.”

“So, you are visiting family, that is good. Family is good.” The older man replied, “So, you went off to Africa…”

He frowned a bit but smiled at the man, “I joined the army and was sent there to do her Majesty’s service. I got there just in time to fight in a war.”

“Probably more complicated than that I am sure.”

William stared out the window, “It was a terrible business, a terrible waste and slaughter. I was at Isandhlwana, Sir. I was there on that January 22, some years ago.”

“You remember the date?”

Looks at the man with a look but lets it pass, “It was also my younger sister, Elizabeth, it’s her birthday as well. She was turning seventeen while I was trying to survive a massive slaughter and chaos of battle.” He knotted up his hands, “I ran from the battle and tried to get as far away from the Zulu Impi’s. I remember swearing and vowing to never see that bloody country again….What I was seeing and I know blindly running from was not a glorious day in the British Empire or to be one of her Majesty’s loyal soldiers. It was a massacre, Sir, a simple bloody massacre….we had no business being there and certaibly underestimated the enemy we were up against.”

The man nodded his understanding, he puffed a bit on his cigar as he motioned for the fellow to continue.

Staring out the window watching the scenery of England go by, “Call me a coward if you wish, but I ran. I simply ran.”

“I have never fought in a battle, I don’t know how I would have reacted to what you saw around you, so no, I will not call you a coward. But continue.”

He had been taking note of the rolling country side, “I didn’t care what I looked like as I ran passed a supply wagon engulfed in flames and dying men, Sir. It was grisly. It was a blazing inferno of flames and those damn exploding shells….” He shuddered a moment, “I even saw a body in the mist of that inferno, it was horrible. I felt sick of course, what normal human being wouldn’t be, but I kept running as it was apparent, Sir, the game was lost. The British Army was going to lose that day to a bunch of savaged with spears…” He looked at the man with a concerned look, “I suppose they were no more savage than any other people defending their land. I don’t know, I do know I kept running and trying to avoid being one of the dead. But I ran.” He returned to his watching the scenery go by, “This running away I knew that if the Sergeant-Major knew of it would have not been pleased, but he was dead by the time I decided to not be a dead man. I did hear a voice demand I hold my ground but I kept running with a comment under my breath…” Looking at the man, “What bloody ground, Sir. What bloody ground am I to defend?” He grunted a look, “I could hear behind me that man’s fate as the cry of a man being killed….” He was amused by a memory. “You know what is odd, Sir.”

“What?”

He looked at the man, “I had no idea that I was still holding unto my rifle. I was bloody still holding the thing.” He looked at this hands, “I was still holding unto the damn thing, Sergeant-Major would have been proud of that fact anyway.”

“I am sure.”

“The Sergeant-Major was killed as he tried to hold us in line. It was quite a futile gesture considering the fact there were more of them than us. They seemed to be everywhere. All I saw in my panic and running was the terrible scenery of a battle gone terribly wrong. Everything was terrible and a damn bloody mess….” Under  his breath, “Damn Chelmsford and the rest of them. It was a slaughter.”

“So you kept running?”

“Yes, I bloody did. All around me was a battle I wanted nothing to so with, so I ran and nearly getting killed as I did so.” He seemed lost in another thought but kept it too himself, “It was beautiful country I will say that much for it. So wonder they fought so hard to defend it. Can’t blame them for that really.” Softly, “It was their land, mine was and is England.”

“Yes, nothing like home and family.”

“Yes, it’s good to be home.” He replied softly as he smiled thinly at some memory, “It will be good to see my brother, John. Eight years is a long time to be away from family.”

“Why so long away?” He suspected the fellow was in fact a deserter, “Eight years is a long time indeed to be away from family.”

William studied the landscape a bit before responding, “It’s beautiful country….I kept running, Sir. I didn’t stop running for a long time….”

“Eight years?”

William remained stoic, “It took while to get home from Africa and the memory of that place called Isandhlwana. I was a deserter, Sir, I simply deserted….I simply ran until I felt it was safe to return…” Looking at the man, “My family actually thought I was dead on that bloody battlefield.” Looking away again, “There are or where days I wish I had. Being a deserter is nothing to be proud of. It might have been better if I had died with my mates on that bloody field. It would have been more honorable than what actually happened.”

“Did you try at all to get your family to know you were still alive?”

“Too dangerous to do so was my thought on that matter. Best for the moment to let them think I was dead on that field. They didn’t need to know their son or brother was a deserter.” Adding as if it mattered, “I did try to serve my country and her Majesty Queen Victoria….I did until that bloody unpleasant day in January.”

“Do you regret nothing?”

“I regret running away but then again I would be dead I am sure if I had not.” He studied the man carefully, “I regret running away but I do not regret surviving, Sir. I saw my first taste of battle and I ran, there is no honor in it but I have learned to live with it as it cannot be changed.”

“Very true.”

Noting that the fellow wanted to ask, “I wrote my sister Elizabeth first. It was quite the shock to her.”

“I am sure it was. When did you write her?” He puffed a bit on the almost done cigar.

“A year ago I wrote her from Italy.” He seemed amused by something, “I didn’t stand still very long. I was after all a deserter from her Majesty’s service.” Adding with a slight smile, “Though to be honest by then I doubt they cared as much as I did that I  deserted. Maybe they did but I felt it was time to let them know I was not dead and buried somewhere in Africa.”

“Sounds reasonable. What brought this change of thought on?”

“Eight years is a long time to be running and avoiding one’s family.” He opened up his coat pocket and took out a letter, “Elizabeth’s letter. I knew she would respond.” Opens it tenderly, “My sweet sister demanded I come home now.”

Charles pondered the younger man’s story and wondered how much of it was true as the letter looked much older than less a year. It was obvious the man was creating the story but he decided to let the man have his story. Maybe there was a reason and maybe it would come out at some point.

“One should listen to one’s sister at all times.” He joked. “But I am curious about those eight years, what happened? What changed your mind on letting your family know you were still alive?”

William looked away briefly but returned to the fellow as he knew it was obvious he wasn’t being fooled. But the fellow seemed to not be put off by William’s not so honest story. Was there a reason to not be honest, “I guess my story has holes in it.”

“A man must be careful at times with his past around others, it’s understandable.” He leaned a bit forward, “But I also think it’s good to speak the truth on such matters. But I will not push the issue, but it’s good you are going home to family?”

William thought about his comments before responding, he studied the man carefully as if the features from the beginning of the conversation seemed familiar, “I have been carrying this letter around for those eights years, I have tried to keep it from looking older than it is, it arrived a few weeks before we marched into Zululand and discovered we were not as invincible as we thought….”

“Pride goes before a fall, young man, and nations are no different.” Charles responded with a look of one who understood it’s meaning, “Pride was the Devil’s downfall. He thought he could rise above his creator and be above God Himself. Pride is why salvation is purely and completely in the hands of God’s grace and there alone. Grace saves us from our pride…”

Amused, “You sound very much like my father.”

Laughing, “Good, a preacher with a good message. A preacher must be bold in his message and that message should be Christ and Him crucified.”

“I actually grew to miss his preaching.” He added with a honest nod, “I remember after running away from that catastrophe of a battle, I found myself in the middle of nowhere in a sea of long grass and endless nothing in every direction. It was so quiet….” He laughed at something, “Every sound I did hear I was convinced was a Zulu hunting me….I was indeed lost.” He looked at his hands and flexed them a bit, “I was certainly lost but I knew where I was and that was in enemy country and they would not hesitate to kill me as the enemy.” He smiled thinly at something, “I would be killed in the middle of nowhere and no one would know I died alone and without memorial…”

“God would know.” Charles replied matter of fact, “No one dies without the Lord knowing another soul would stand before Him as either savior or judge at their death. But you said you ran and if I may ask what happened to you once to started running until this moment on this train?”

William studied the bearded fellow with the knowing look of a man not easily fooled by William’s story. “I simply kept running and avoiding being caught.”

Still being evasive he thought but he let it pass, “The Lord perhaps protected you from being found to come to this point?”

He laughed a bit, “Maybe He did. All I do know is that I did manage to avoid a few smaller Zulu patrols….” He thought about something, “I wasn’t sure what direction I was heading in but….well, as I walked and hide I knew I simply wanted to get away from the place….” He studied the landscape again before returning to the subject, “I even found myself as I climbed over a high ridge over looking, well, Rourke’s Rift of all places.” Softly, “I went around it best I could as I had no intention of being again trapped by a few thousand Zulu’s at a place with only a few hundred men for her Majesty’s forces.”

The look the fellow was giving Charles said much, “Ah, the heroic stand of her Majesty’s forces is well known. It was gallant but such a waste of human life better served in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it was still a heroic stand.”

“I had briefly thought of going down and joining them but I was still a deserter and I was convinced I would have been shot on the spot despite the need probably of more men at that moment.” He seemed lost in thought, “I could even see they were preparing for some action coming their way. I staid hidden but I was very tempted to stop running and simply meet my fate down there at Rourke’s Drift.” Softly with a laugh at himself, “I missed out on being a hero that half of the day.”

Charles said nothing but nodded in agreement.

He looked at the man who looked back with a slight smile, “I stared at the men below and how few of them there were and all going about the business of preparing for an attack they knew was coming. I found myself simply not being able to move, something about it refused to let me run away…”

“Sense of duty?” He replied, “It can be a very strong motivation to stop running.”

“Possibly, one act of cowardice in one life is enough for anyone.” He looked at the letter, “It has remained with me ever since that day eight years ago.” Looking at him, “I so badly wanted to run away but I stood there, Sir, and I simply, well…”

“Did you get far?” He asked knowing the answer.

Amused, “No, I didn’t.” He looked again at the scenery for a few seconds, “An officer came upon me as I preparing to just run away….I believe his name was Bromhead if I remember correctly and he seemed summon up why I was there and probably where I had run away from. One cannot fool an officer of his reputation.”

“So he said nothing about it?”

“He seemed to think about it but he also had other concerns as he kept looking in the direction I assume I came from was Isandhlwana….” Thinking about something, “It was within his right to have me arrested for desertion and shot five minutes later but I think the fact that several thousand Zulu’s were coming his way, he saw another body to add to his few hundred defenders of Rourke’s Drift.” With a look, “And defended we did, but the truth is I never felt I had any right to be there.”

“But you were. You were part of heroic stand. Why take that away from your life?” He raised a hand as William was about to respond, “Let me finish my thought. I think you have been as truthful with me as you felt safe to tell. But I see no reason to not think that in the end of that day you did your duty to your fellow soldier’s that day. Yes, you ran away and it is apparent to me you feel a great heaviness about it. But you did end up at a second chance…”

“A second chance that tried to kill me, Sir.”

“Yes, but you did redeem the day by standing firm and fast with your mates.”

William disagreed with a nod, “I simple tried to escape one massacre only to almost end up at another.”

“God had and had plans for your life.” Charles replied with a puff on his cigar, “I am a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I believe God gives people many chances to find Him. He had His hand on your life, Sir…”

He wasn’t convinced but choice to not make an issue of it, “I stood my ground because most of it was surrounded by Zulu’s bent on my death. When Bromhead sent me to Rourke’s Drift to report to Colour-Sergeant Bourne in their hospital…but at some point we were fighting for our damn lives.” Adding after a moment of thought, “You think God was there holding back the enemy from killing me for what purpose? So many others were killed, Sir, and where was this God for them?” Answering his own question, “Maybe He had the same concern for them as me. I don’t know, but my father would have said the same thing I am sure.” Looking at the man, “Maybe that is why I choice to return home. Maybe to make peace with my father’s God. I did indeed, Sir, write a letter to my sister so that much is true. I wasn’t of course in Italy; I never been to Italy. I was in London.”

He smiled in agreement, “So, family is indeed waiting for you in Suffolk?”

“I will have to do a little walking once I get off this train, but I have walked before so a few miles will not kill me, but yes, I am returning home as my sister did actually demand of her prodical brother….”

“And will you make peace with your father’s God?”

He smiled softly, “I would like to simply at this point make peace with my family.” Looks at him with a concerned look, “As for their God, well, Sir, that will have to wait.”

“I would not wait too long as one never knows when one is called to stand before that final judgement seat. But it seems to me you are being lead to return to your relations and mend those connections. I can see the hand of the Lord in this and I can see His hand in your past leading to this moment.”

William thought about the comment, “I see no hand but then again I wasn’t looking. I was too busy fighting a few thousand Zulu’s bent on my death. It was two days of a nightmare I do not wish to think was for nothing after I survived it, Sir.”

The train gave the feel of it slowing down.

William was still talking, “Maybe you are correct. I don’t know the mind of my father’s God very well. I struggled to believe before I even left England so long ago. He was a mystery to me then and seemed too impersonal even though my father preached otherwise.”

“You seek a personal God is a good thing to search. He does reward those who seek Him.”

“To be honest, Sir,” He replied as he stiffly stood up, “I am not seeking Him yet.”

“I wouldn’t wait too long.” Charles replied with a concerned look of one who knew the danger, “As you know from your own past, life can be taken rather quickly and suddenly and sometimes very violently.”

William studied the man carefully, “Yes, I don’t doubt that but I am not ready for that search.”

Charles rose up slowly, he studied the younger man, smiled a bit, “You sound like a drowning man wanting to be rescued but not the moment. The Lord preserve you from that day and you are still running from it.”

“Yes, so my father would also say.”

The train stopped; activity of people coming and going from the train began.

Charles smiled to be polite, “I am not sure how much of your story I believe, but I do believe you are avoiding the issue of God and what could have happened some eight years ago, young man. You are still running but from God this time and not the ghosts of that particular day.” He reached on and put a gentle hand on the man, “I see the face of a man looking for answers, you will not find them running away from His truth or Gospel. I think there is much you are not telling me and I don’t need to know. That is between you the Lord, but He is listening.”

He wanted to disagree but remained polite, “I didn’t pray once while defending Rourke’s Drift for His protection. I didn’t ask Him for His help…”

He smiled softly in understanding, “He was showing you mercy. But He was there.”

William grunted lightly, “I question it, but I will keep your words in mind. Where in London do you work so if  I ever visit our capital we can continue this conversation.”

“I am the pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle…”

William had to laugh, “I’ve been talking to Charles Spurgeon all this time. I thought I recognized you, Sir.” He extended a hand for which Spurgeon shook. Honestly, “I will not deny meeting your is an honor despite my reservations on the subject.” Adding, “What are doing in Suffolk?”

“Preaching. Visiting a friend.”

“Yes, of course. But it is an honor to meet you, Mr. Spurgeon.”

Spurgeon bowed a bit, “I still want you to think about what I have been saying, young man…”

“William.”

He smiled a bit, “I want you to take seriously, William, my words about the Lord and His Gospel. You have been shown much mercy and I think you are seeking Him more than you admit to.” He took notice of the look in William’s struggling features, “The Lord is always willing to save the lost, William. He is never too far away to rescue the lost…”

William wanted to say something and disagree, but he also didn’t want to continue the conversation with the famous preacher from London. “I think my sister is waiting for me, I should head home before she thinks I changed my mind. But it’s been good to talk to someone who seems to understand as you do….”

“I only ask you think about what I have said, William, and that is all I ask. The Gospel cannot be believed after one stands before the final judge. And He will judge all men who have been given the chance to either believe or reject His Gospel and His Word made flesh in Jesus Christ.”

William studied the man slowly and with a look of one not so sure it mattered as much to him as if did to Spurgeon, but he wanted to be polite, “Maybe if I am in London I will go and see you preach. But I have a long walk ahead of me….”

Spurgeon nodded, “Yes, but please think about what I have been saying. I am not sure what is your whole story is but He is waiting….”

“I will, I will.” William walked away with a knowing look of one not so sure where he was going.

From Spurgeon’s vantage point on the train he watched as the lone figure walked alone down the road toward his destination; the young man seemed to be thinking or at least talking to himself thought Spurgeon as he sat back down and closed his eyes and prayed silently. His Bible was in his bag under the seat and he slowly bent down and took it out and simply started reading quietly to himself and prayed at the end of the young man’s travel home that he actually got there; maybe he would meet Jesus along the way? He returned to reading his Bible.

William finally got home but it was still a long journey to get there he told his granddaughter’s as they listened while sitting on his lap; but they did enjoy the story as he enjoyed telling the stories of his life.

 

Deer Season. (Short Story).

20190728_075547Joe stared at the bloody mess that seemed scattered about his small mobile home park lawn and he felt the unpleasant feeling it was all wrong in the way it was killed. It was wrong? It wasn’t the death or the bloody mess of the death that bothered Joe right off the discovery of it but the fact it was half a dead rabbit that lay bloodied and ripped in half on his manicured lawn that was so off putting.

And it was frozen to the ground Joe had noted with disgust when he lightly kicked at it with his foot; frozen solid to the ground indeed. Frozen what looked like it’s liver to the ground; along  with he was certain frozen intestines. Very dead and ripped in half rabbit indeed he had thought out loud upon it’s discovery. The issue at first that bothered him was where the corpse was not so much that it was ripped in half. Joe Sodro wasn’t pleased with what he had encountered on this particular cold Saturday morning.

He shoved his hands into his jeans pockets, muttered something to the effect that rabbits were too easy to catch and kill, and again took stock of the dead animal. It was a very dead ripped in half rabbit sitting on the his lawn so why was he so bothered by it as if it was unnatural? He looked up from the corpse and studied his lawn for any other body parts laying about his lawn. He sighed unpleasantly at the idea of picking up the last remains of the poor creature; he was hesitating of course as he really didn’t want to touch the damn thing. Why the hell was it there anyway? Why was there half a dead rabbit with frozen body parts stuck to his lawn as if it had been dropped from the sky because that was another odd aspect of the dead. It had the looked of something simply dropped there and left there as if what? Someone trying to tell him something? He looked over at his neighbor’s place and noted no lights so Jesse wasn’t up yet. He really didn’t want to touch the damn thing and he wished Jesse were up because Jesse enjoyed hunting and wouldn’t mind touching the mess. Joe frowned at something else that troubled him about the scene.

Shouldn’t there be more blood? Jesse would be able to answer these things but he was apparently not up yet? That too seemed strange because Jesse was always up early in the morning and out in his little shed working on some project or other. Jesse loved three things if Joe knew the guy at all, hunting, his beloved Minnesota Vikings, and his wife Emily and probably in that order. Of the three he talked about hunting the most and there were moments that Joe worried about his friend with the happy look in his eyes at the prospect of shooting something. And Jesse had endless stories about these hunting trips and the deer he shot. Sometimes there was a serial killer glee in the lightly bearded round face behind the wire-rimmed glasses that might have made Ted Bundy proud. It was an unfair comparison of course as Joe was sure that the guy had no intention of hunting humans any time soon. But still, Joe thought as he again lightly kicked the dead thing on his lawn, Jesse did enjoy his hunting trips and if the pictures Emily took of the two of them showed they had a good time.

He bent down and looked closer at the dead rabbit, shouldn’t there be more blood? It was just a random thought but shouldn’t there be more blood? And why did he care? Because he didn’t want to pick it up without very thick gloves and he wasn’t sure where he had such gloves. He didn’t do much yard work that required any real thick gloves and he wasn’t married nor did he wish to be. But shouldn’t there be more blood? Of course the other thought that came to him was why he cared so much about the blood not being there?

He looked up again and noticed it. It didn’t register at first but he saw it now. Someone or maybe something had crushed his lawn chair. It was completely flattened. He continued to stare at it as if not really ready to believe someone had flattened an old lawn chair. But there it sat near the also over turned small table. It was crushed and it appeared by an incredible amount of weight? Something heavy attempted to sit on it? First ripped apart rabbits and not vandalized property he thought out loud.

“Shit, what the fuck…”

The echo came back, “Fuck the what?”

Joe jerked back up standing at the sudden strange voice, “Hello, who’s there?”

The non answer bothered him; the cold unpleasant silence bothered him. He stood his ground and felt that odd sense of being watched? He never liked much the woods that his mobile home sat next to. Woods always bothered him and the one’s he was looking at certainly was no different. It was a large wooded area with a lone lake or maybe a pond as he wasn’t sure what made one different from the other. He read somewhere if it was smaller than ten acres it was a pond? Maybe Jesse told him? It didn’t matter he rebuked himself as he continued to stare and study the wooded landscape that the his street lined on one side of at the Maplewood Rolling Hills Mobile Home Park.

“Who’s there?” He again asked; and again the strange silence he didn’t like at all. He felt the urge to walk closer to the woods and investigate the strange voice or sound’s origin. It sounded oddly human? Or at least something trying to sound human? Sounded human? More like trying to sound human? Was there a damn difference? He studied again the woods that actually had long ago been bare of leaves as it was winter in Minnesota so why wasn’t he seeing anything or anyone. The ‘voice’ came from somewhere.

He heard a car drive by and honk in his direction he assumed; he turned a bit and took notice of the truck going by and the lone hand waving in his direction. Joe waved back at Craig. He returned to the woods. He felt stupid standing there staring into a skeletal looking woods where he could see just faintly the pond or lake sitting looking as if it was solid ice. Jesse also liked ice fishing and had stories about that as well. He looked again at the home of Jesse Traverson and wondered where he was? A thought came to him, where was Emily as well? She was also an early bird and was usually off to work at this time of morning.

Maybe they went on a hunting trip and didn’t tell Joe? They would have told him so he could keep an eye on their place. He was hesitating and he knew it because the dead rabbit was bothering him and he didn’t know why, the crushed chair bothered him and he didn’t know why, and now this ‘voice’ was bothering him. Maybe he did indeed imagine it as he had been up late and was still a little tired. His third shift job was a long one the last few nights and maybe he was just still tired? He felt uneasy as he tried to convince himself to simply do the obvious and that was going to Jesse’s front door and knocking on it.

He looked down at the dead rabbit parts an felt the uneasy feeling that he didn’t want to walk and knock on Jesse’s door and he wasn’t sure why? It was an odd feeling he had that something wasn’t right about the dead rabbit and was that a voice he heard or not?

He spoke up again, “Hello, anyone there?” He felt stupid so why did he feel he was actually going to get a response? He didn’t like the feeling of being watched by something right in front of him an it certainly felt like someone or something looking right at him. Maybe he shouldn’t have watched the original version of the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” last night as he sure he was just overthinking it all. But he did love his horror movies but maybe watching that one particular film and then encountering a dead and ripped in half rabbit on his lawn was simple over imagination? And then there was the voice that he was sure was an actual voice or at least someone trying to talk?

“You’re being stupid, Joe.” He replied to himself, “You watch way too many horror movies.” He laughed at himself, “You have too much imagination for your own good.” He laughed at himself, “You’re being an idiot, Joe. Too many horror movies in your life.”

He kicked at the corpse and looked up at the woods that seemed very much as it should be for a Minnesota winter; no leaves but bare trees stretched across a field. It looked all very normal.

The voice behind him startled him and he jumped a bit; the ten year old laughed.

“Lily! Don’t do that.” He demanded as he waited for the young girl to stop laughing at him.

Lily smiled sweetly, “You looked so focused on something, I had to.”

“I was just staring at the woods.” He took stock of the kid in her usual jeans, pink winter boots, t-shirt, and her jacket, and her school backpack, “Off to school I see.”

Lily nodded, shifted a bit to see what the adult was looking at, “It’s  a dead rabbit. What happened to it?”

“Some animal I assume, Lily.”

Lily again nodded, walked closer to the dead rabbit, and commented, “I wonder what?”

“I don’t know, kid. Maybe a coyote?” He had no idea but the young girl seemed curious to know, “Don’t you have school to get to?”

Quickly, “I have time.” She looked down at the body, “It’s only half of a rabbit?”

“Yes, Lily.”

“I saw a deer last night in the woods,” Pointing the direction of her own place, “It was standing on two legs, it was weird looking though…”

“Deer don’t walk on their hind legs, Lily.”

“This one was. It was near the woods and then vanished into them.”

“Weird? How?” He humored the blonde girl, “When was this?”

Lily thought about it a second as she studied the mess, “Where’s the blood?”

“I don’t know, what was weird about the deer, Lily?”

Lily was absorbed with the lack of blood and slowly came back to the question, “It was walking funny on it’s back legs as if it was just learning to walk or something and it’s face was all weird….something was wrong with it anyway…” Lily looked over at where other kids were walking toward the school bus stop, shrugging her shoulders, “It looked like a deer but it’s face, well, looked human?”

Joe frowned at the girls imagination, “What time was this, evening?”

Lily thought about it but was still more interested in the body, “I guess, it was around that time as I was walking home from Anna’s house….” Looking at him with her usual cheerful smile, “It was standing near the woods and it seemed to be having a hard time walking, and it looked weird…it saw me and vanished into the woods.”

Trying the follow the ten year old’s train of story telling, “What was wrong with it’s face?”

“What happened to your chair?” Lily asked bluntly as she pointed at the chair with a concerned look, “Someone broke your chair?”

“Lily.” He asked again with a sharper tone to get her attention, “What was wrong with this deer you saw?”

She looked at him with a slight unpleasant look, “It was all wrong. It looked human more than a deer…”

She seemed uncomfortable about something thought Joe as he looked again in the direction of the woods; over head a black bird made way too much noise for one bird he thought. He studied the creature in the high branches of the tree and wished it would shut the hell up; Hitchcock came to his mind very briefly.

“It’s a crow. I see three of them.” Lily responded to a  question not asked, “Their so loud sometimes. I don’t like them.”

He laughed at the girl, “You were telling me about the strange deer?”

“It’s face was wrong and it was staring at me and trying to talk…”

“Trying to talk?” He again laughed of course at the silly girl but her eyes told him she was serious, “The deer was trying to talk?”

Her thin shoulders shrugged, “It seemed to me it was trying to talk to me. It was looking at me from the woods. I was trying to ignore it as it scared me a bit so I ran….” Looking at the other mobile, “I thought I heard it following me but I got home and looked out my window…nothing was there I could see…” Looking at him with a look, “But I got the impression it was still there.”

“You have some imagination, Lily.” He was trying to be nice but he wasn’t buying the story, “But you said the deer was trying to talk, how do you know if you were running away?”

“It was why I ran away.”

“Okay, okay, did you see it again?” He humored the girl with the questioning brown eyes that he was actually believing her story. Slowly, “At my window last night.”

“What?” He could see the girl was serious, “It was looking in your window?”

The crows were still making noise.

“Well, at first I thought I saw my friend Anna, it was weird….” Anna looked in the direction of the bus for a moment, “I was woken up by a noise and I looked in the direction of my window and I thought I saw Anna at the window but it wasn’t….” Matter of fact, “Anna’s in Arizona visiting her grandfather…Anna tells me he’s a medicine man, that’s not what she called him but it’s what I remember…” Looking at him, “She’s Navajo so she was visiting her relatives in Arizona so I know it wasn’t Anna….but it looked like her and then it was gone.” Shrugging her shoulders as if a thought came to her, “Anna likes to talk about her culture….her dad teaches at Century College. But as I said, something woke me up and I saw someone at the window…”

“Why didn’t you yell?”

“I don’t know, I thought it was Anna at first and was about to say something when it vanished…”

“I see.”

“I did jump out of bed and go to the window and made sure it was locked. Whatever it was didn’t look right anyway even if it was Anna…”

He noted the more she talked the more details kept coming. But her tone and look was evidence that something did happen at her window even if the story telling had holes in it; she’s ten, Joe, give her break he told himself.

“I stood at my window looking out into the dark and saw nothing. But I felt I was being watched. I didn’t like that so I crawled back into bed and covered myself with my blanket.”

He could see she believed what she was saying, “So you were startled awake by a noise and thought you saw Anna at the window. Why would Anna be at your window in the first place that late at night?”

“I don’t know, I just know I saw someone or something at my window, at first I thought I saw Anna. It looked like her for a second and then it was something else….” Bluntly and noting that other kids were lining up as if they could see a bus coming, “I got to go…” She waved as she ran toward the slowly coming to a stop bus.

He watched her and the kids as they loaded unto the bus. He notice one girl simply looking in his direction with a slight smile on her young face? He frowned at the look the girl was giving him and he felt uneasy about the look and who he thought he was looking at; it briefly looked a lot like Anna. He blinked to clear his head and the girl was on the bus and sitting next to Lily but the girl seemed to still to be looking at him and a slight smile slowly went across her you face that did look like Anna but then the bus jerked forward and he lost sight of the girl and then the bus. He frowned, cursed loudly, and told himself he was being stupid and it was too far away to tell who it really was and it wasn’t Anna because that girl was in Arizona as Lily told him. I was just a kid who looked like Anna and that was all it was. But it did look like her a part of him commented as he walked toward the destroyed lawn chair; all kids at ten look alike he told himself as he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He picked up the chair and turned around and stopped suddenly with jolt.

“Lily, what?” He stared at the girl who was now standing behind him with an odd far away look, “What are you doing here….”

“I…missed….the bus.”

He frowned, “You just got on the bus…”

It tilted it’s head, “I missed….the bus.”

“Lily, you just got on the bus and why are you talking funny…”

Lily interrupted, “I missed the….bus.”

“You were on the bus…”

“I. Missed. The. Bus.”

He backed up as he noticed what he would call antler’s sticking out from under her hair, “Lily…”

“Lily?” It responded back.

“Stop that Lily….”

“Stop. That. Lily.” She repeated as her body walked forward but as if walking was new to the girl.

“Lily!”

“Lily!”

“What has gotten into you?” He backed up a bit and realized he was actually backing up into the woods, “Lily?”

It titled it’s head with a crooked smile, “Lily? What has…gotten into….you?”

He dropped the chair and tripped as he backed away from the ten year old girl who’s features seemed to be struggling to stay human, “What the hell…”

It still smiled oddly, “What. The hell…”

He crawled away the best he could before getting up, he noted the girl was standing still now and just staring at him with a curious look. It was as he stood there trying to fathom what the hell was happening that he noticed the side of Jesse’s house facing the woods was gone! In fact it looked as if something had ripped the wall apart to get into the home. He heard the sound in front of him. He looked at the girl who was no longer the girl he knew. He looked at it and then understood what Lily was talking about; Jesse was now standing there and it was smiling with half a deer’s face with very human eyes and it was trying to talk.

He screamed as something from behind him grabbed him; it screamed.

 

The Journal Of The Desk Of D. A. Sigler, Letter To The Messiah. (Letter #3).

20190323_103101To The Messiah, Yeshua,

January 29, 2020, Wednesday. At Office-Library

St. Paul, MN.

It is a personal faith I sought from you, but where were you in the worse of times is my question still. I sought a personal God because I read that in Your Word; so where were you when it was the darkest of days in those eleven years of Orlando, Florida? I remember those years as being one long blur of either wanting to give up and forcing myself to keep going; I really didn’t want to keep going. Death seemed and still does seem a better goal for this life, but I kept going. Why? Why did I bother when it seems to me, Lord, that is was all for nothing but a life that seems more damned for doing anything and then damned for doing nothing! For that is indeed how I feel about it all. I still remember the night I went out into my back yard, put rope around my neck and all I had to do was let go and the last almost forty years would have never have happened; I still wish I had let go. But I didn’t let go and wish I had. What was the point of not letting go? So I could continue to feel like crap and that is what I felt like and still feel like; when have I not felt like crap? I don’t remember very many good days during those eleven years of Orlando, Florida, but where were you?

I needed you. I needed someone to be at my side because the church certainly wasn’t and neither were those who dare claimed to be preachers of Your Gospel. Lord, I simply want to know where the church was while I struggled on and alone and having my name run through the dirt! Where were You? Where were you when I was being accused of being a synagogue of Satan because I dared to question those in charge; You know of whom I speak. I was accused of being a trouble maker because I found out I was lied to about something and I call them out on it, I’m the trouble maker? Who was shunned and accused of attacking the Lord’s anointed! I needed help, I needed those people to remember who they served and not wrapped their holy robes around themselves and each other and accuse me of being the problem. I needed them to be the Christian’s they dared to claim to be. I was abandoned and left alone and simply treated no better than a damn leper. Not even sure why I bothered to keep going and trying to be part of that world of the church; why did I bother with my Chick Tract’s Ministry or was that also a very huge waste of time? I look back on those years and it seems it was all a waste of time. All I remember of those eleven years was the daily grind of convincing myself to either kill myself today or not today, maybe tomorrow. All I really remember is the unpleasant moodiness I fought against almost every day to get through the day. I know what I was like and it depended on where I was as to how good or bad my day was. Sorry, to say being at the house was the worse part, being away was the better part; sorry, but it’s true. I am being as kind as I can be, Lord, and You know I am. But it was hell on a daily basis just getting up every day with the unpleasant feeling constantly pressing down on me. Where were You? Where was anyone who dared carry a Bible and claimed to believe in it let alone followed it. Lord, where were you? I was damn lonely  most of the time and damn tired all the time.

Why did I bother to become a Christian on February 13, 1980, on Okinawa, Japan, (1979-1981), almost forty years ago? My life from birth, March 20, 1963, Suffolk, England, 1963-1965, to that brief year I lived with my mom in Anahiem, California, 1978-1979, was for what purpose. I was a military kid as You know. What in my life made it so easy to except this way of life in You that I so willingly believed in You? What purpose was the life I lived from leaving England to Tampa, Florida, 1965-1969, Grissom Air Force Base, Indiana, 1969-1971, Tampa, Florida, 1971-1975, Oakland, California, 1975-1976, Oahu, Hawaii, 1976-1978. That was my life before I arrived on Okinawa and my life changed forever and it seems forever unhappily battling depression and simply fighting the urge to simply show up. I still wish to could just show up and be praised and treated as if that is the point of life let alone the church life. Though I was told I use to as a little kid, I assume the first Tampa, Florida years, I went to a Baptist Church and a Dr. Horn. I wish I could remember, Lord, any of it but I don’t. I know it’s a long around about way of asking the question, why did I find it so easy to believe in You or Your Scriptures? It would explain a brief incident while living in California, 1978-1979, while walking to school that a fellow stopped me and told me You loved me and I continued walking but commented I hope so; I have often wondered why I said it. It does seem a strange comment coming from me as I have no memory of ever really believing in You in the first place. And after the nightmare of going to Lanakea Baptist School when I first arrived in Oahu, Hawaii; should have been my first real hint of what to expect from the worse aspects of Baptists. As for the other ‘Christian’ school, Honolulu Junior Academy, well, no complaints; I wonder whatever happened to Faye and ope she had a great life; my first crush. I’m getting off track again, but my point is that there seems to have always been a small part of me who wanted to believe in You? The point of all this unimportant detail, did you put my life through all that traveling and seeing some aspects of the world for nothing? The version of me in Orlando, Florida wanted all that stuff of my early life to have a point therefore the rest of my life had to have a point? I’m not making sense, Lord, I know. I’m trying to say something and saying it badly. I simply didn’t want to show up in life and it seemed to me that those eleven years in Orlando was hell-bent breaking me so that I simply did just show up and do nothing with my life but wait to die? And again I ask the question I have been asking, where were You?

The years of Okinawa, Japan, 1979-1981, at the missionary school of Okinawa Christian School and Kubasaki High School and life at the local Teen Challenge outside the Kadena Air Force Base Gate, and the two church’s I attended were the calm before the depressing storm years; all two of them. Those two years were calm despite the feeling I was having that something unpleasant was coming when I got to Orlando, Florida; I trust my gut instinct then as I do now. Even the early year or so of Orlando wasn’t so bad mood wise; I simply was going about my business and that as well seemed to bother some. But where were You because I still had to deal with some things and people on my own. But it was the beginning of my loneliness that I seem to never able to shake off; I still can’t shake it off. I learned to deal with a load of crap and people but the loneliness I will never get use to; where were You? Where are You? That was my question then and it still is, where were You as I drudged from one day after another that felt like the same day for eleven years. I learned to adapt to every day by simply trying to simply live my life. I learned to Adapt to whatever occurred on a daily basis. I simply got up every day and tried to live my life the best I could with where I was with what I had at the time. But the growing loneliness and isolation I felt only got worse and where was your church? Where were You? But I kept getting back up, kept going, kept holding unto the one aspect of my life I had left and that was a belief in You and Your Word. When I left Faith Baptist Church And School in 1997, I had nothing left; what kept me going was gone. Where were You? I don’t enjoy saying any of this but it’s the truth of all that I feel and how I see those years. It was lonely, it was depressing, it was one set-back after another on many fronts. I wonder why I kept going when everything seemed to tell me to just stop and die already! I learned to build a solid iron wall around myself to protect myself from any further pain. Very little seemed to me worth getting back up and moving forward on a daily basis, but I kept going? Why did I bother if it doesn’t matter to anyone let alone me or You? I learned to be alone, I learned to not let anyone in, and I learned to trust one, I learned that most people would rather I not be around or at the least don’t have any expectations of anyone. So, I am alone, I always feel alone, so, where are You?

Your Servant, David.

Commentary On The Bible: Hannah.

20181124_083303“Now there was a certain man of Ra-ma-tha-im-zo-phim of Mount E-phra-im, and his name was El-ka-nah…and he had two wives; the name of one was Hannah…but Hannah had no children.” (I Samuel 1:1-2).

Who was Hannah this faithful mother of the last judge of Israel, Samuel? What are the basic components of her devotion to God? Faith and sacrifice of course is the major cornerstone of her character. Her integrity of life the other aspect of that cornerstone. These two blocks of her faith/sacrifice in the God of Israel are the foundation of her faith in God and her integrity toward her God of Abraham,Isaac, and Jacob. Her life was at the tail end of the period in Israel’s history of the Book of Judges. Eli was the second to the last judge of Israel as her son, Samuel, was the bridge between those two periods of Jewish history and the rise of the monarchy. Samuel would anoint their first two kings; Saul of the tribe of Benjamin and the second of course was David of the tribe of Judah.

First of all in I Samuel 1:1-9, we see a family relationship of a loving husband and his two wives; quite common in pre-kingdom Israel. El-ka-nah loves his two wives, Peninnah and of course Hannah. He took great care and love with both of them. It’s note in Scripture that as a husband he took care of his wives and children by his first wife Pinannah. Pinannah had children already, and yet, the Scriptures make it a point to tell the reader that he loved Hannah more than the first wife. Was there a quality that made him more devoted toward Hannah than Pinannah; why does scripture tell us this point? What do these above first verses’s tell us as to the relationship between Hannah and El-ka-nah? To Pinannah? To the Lord God of Israel she would eventually pour out her heart to in fervent prayer. To El-ka-nah she was a faithful, devoted, and obedient beloved wife. Hannah knew she was loved greatly despite her lack of children. Her relationship with Pinannah is one of constant reminder of her barren life as a mother. There is a cruelty in Pinannah toward Hannah was uncalled for.

Note also in scripture only Hannah is recorded as going to the temple to worship and pray and to make her bitterness of heart known to God. Why is Pinannah not mentioned as going to the temple to pray? Hannah’s faith is the over-all point to the first nine verses’s of the First Book of Samuel. In verses’s eight-nine show her faithfulness and obedience is shown toward her God and even her husband. I Samuel ten to thirteen is the picture of Hannah’s raw emotions poured out to her God. “And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of Hosts, it thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaiden, and and remember me, and not forget thine handmaiden, but wilt give unto thine handmaiden a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life; and there shall no razor come upon his head.” (I Samuel 1:10-13). This was a prayer of a mother’s broken heart that wished to be a mother. This was the heart of a woman’s heart laid bare to the Lord God of Israel. I Samuel fourteen to seventeen is the introduction of Eli, the second to the last judge of Israel, and his first reaction to something he should have thought about before speaking, “And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.” (I Samuel 1:12-13). But he was a troubled judge of the people of Israel with two rebellious sons making a mockery of what it was to be a servant of the Lord. It also shows after he realizes his grievous error too quick to judge his tender heart to understand and to serve one in deep spiritual needs and an answer to prayer. “And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my Lord, I am woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial; for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of Him.” (I Samuel 1:14-17).

Eli was not a heartless man. He was a man with many troubles as already stated and their names were his son’s Phinehas and Hophni. He had his family to deal with and maybe as he walked alone that day thinking and maybe even silently praying about the fate of his two son when he encountered Hannah and her own great bitterness of soul and heart. He was an old man in his declining years of his long life judging the people of Israel. So maybe his reaction was more out of his own inner bitterness and turmoil and probably anger with himself. Maybe event the Lord directed him to that moment as a sign that Eli was still of use to the Lord. Hannah responded to Eli as she only could, “And she said, Let thine handmaid fine grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.” (I Samuel 1:18). So, Hannah went her way home from Shiloh and she had the faith to no longer allow herself to be sad at the promises’s of the Lord by the mouth of Eli. She went about her daily life in that she returned to rising in the early morning and worshiping the Lord. The story continued, “And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the Lord, and returned, and came to their house to Ra-mah; and El-ka-nah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her. Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord.” (I Samuel 1:19-20).

From I Samuel 1:20-25 we see a quick history of this woman’s faith and trust in the promises’s of the Lord. Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to the future last judge of Israel, Samuel. She made her feelings known in verse I Samuel 1:20b. There is in that short little sentence a great amount of faith, truth, thanks, and a heart-felt love toward the Lord God who gave her a son. She looked after her son till he was weaned and when they had traveled to Shiloh and made a sacrifice of three bullocks, one e-phah of four, and a bottle of wine. (I Samuel 1:24-25). After this act of obedience to the Lord by Hannah, she brought her only beloved son, Samuel, to Eli with a prayer on her lips. Hannah’s prayer of rejoicing and thanksgiving, “And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.” (I Samuel 1:26-28). And Samuel worshiped the Lord at Shiloh and serve the Lord all his life is a promised kept. In the prayer of Hannah is the acknowledgement of who she was before Eli and more and more important before the Lord. She is shown following through on her promise to the Lord to sacrifice the very blessing of a son she prayed so hard and long for. It must have been very heart aching for this woman of faith to have to give up the very son she prayed for and wanted and was blessed with. But Hannah made a great promise to the Lord and she knew the Lord would hold her to it. Did she regret her words? Maybe she did but like Abraham she was faithful and followed through on her prayer’s promise to give her beloved son to the Lord. Hannah knew her history, “Off unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most high.” (Psalms 50:14). Hannah knew the Law of her God through Moses, “When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it; for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forebear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou has vowed unto the Lord thy God. Which thou hast promised with thy mouth.” (Deuteronomy 23:21-23). Hannah kept her vow. She kept her faith. She sacrificed the one thing she wanted more than life for the Lord’s use. She walked away in her faithful integrity.

I Samuel 2:1-10 is Hannah’s prayer and it’s a profound and beautiful prayer uttered by one who had faith and trust in the Lord. “And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none besides thee: neither is there any rock like our God.” (I Samuel 2:1-2). Hannah first proclaimed her belief and faith in the Lord she had never stopped praying to. She let us know her heart and mind on the subject of the Lord she trusted with her prayers. She continued, “Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge and by Him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased; so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.” (I Samuel 2:3-5). It is a prayer against the proud. It’s a cry to the proud to be humble and for the humble to have faith. Hannah continued, “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: He bringeth down to the grave, and bringest up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich, He bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the begger from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory; for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He hath set the world upon them.” (I Samuel 2:6-8). It is a proclamation of His sovereignty and His glory and His hand of creation upon the earth forever was sealed. Hannah continued, “He will keep the feet of His saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.” (I Samuel 2:9). The Lord is a helper of His people and the coming judge of those who do not obey His Word and rebel against His coming kingdom. The last of her prayer, “The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall He thunder upon them; the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and He shall give strength unto His King, and exhalt the horn of His anointed.” (I Samuel 2:10). A Scriptural verse looking toward the coming thousand year reign of Christ upon the earth? (Maybe even a reference from the Book of Enoch that would later inspire the writing of the Book of Jude? Hannah knew her history).

The last we hear of Hannah is a moment of motherly love and understanding and blessing. “But Samuel ministered  before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. And Eli blessed El-ka-nah and his wife, and said, The Lord give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the Lord, And they went unto their own home. And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord.” (I Samuel 2:18-21). The Lord had not forgotten the sacrifice of Hannah’s heart. He blessed her with His grace and blessings with more children. Hannah’s story is a story of faith, prayer, sacrifice, and the blessings of obedience to one’s word toward the Lord. To the woman who’s very name means ‘grace’ was much grace given.

RECOMMENDATIONS/REFERENCE

Bible. (KJV).

A Horses’s Tale. (Short Story).

20190728_075547Harold was bored. Very bored. The knight in question looked across his kingdom concluded that he was simply bored of his own kingdom as well. And as he pondered the question of how to become unbored he took stock of the moment and scanned the landscape that he was looking over from the high hill where his central castle stood over looking a grand valley of forests and a river where a small bridge was being fixed by workers he could see tolling away. The knight also in question was quite convinced that there were no real good quests or even a good little battle to engaged in. It has been some years since he had fought in any real important battles let alone any real quests of any importance. He observed for a while the workers on the bridge.

He spoke to his horse who seemed to be actually listening, “Look at them down there. Tolling away and doing as I command and what does that amount to in their lives? I wonder if their even happy with their lot in my kingdom?” He took notice of their work and had to admit that despite their lives they seemed to be working as if it was good to work so hard to create a better bridge. The old one had simply reached the point that it was time to build a new one better wood. He could still see the older bridge a few hundred feet farther down the river. He could remember his great grandfather was the one who had decided that a bridge had to be build closer to the present castle; that one replaced another bridge farther down. He had decided all this bridge building was getting out of hand and decided to build one very massive bridge using the largest of trees. He observed the men below sawing away at the fallen trees and others using hatchet’s to carve and clear away the branches and wood not needed for the massive bridge. He could even hear the leader of the workmen shouting orders and commenting with a joke to encourage the labor forward to completion. They did not seem a unhappy bunch of workman and that was true. He had even heard them a few days ago singing a strange melody as the hot sun beat down on them.

The knight looked up into the dark blue sky and sunshine and felt the warmth of the day. He watched a flock of bright yellow and white stork-like birds fly over his head and off into the direction of the original bridge. He pondered their species and gave up as he was not one who observed birds all that much unless he was hunting them.

“The old wizard would know their names and what if any magical powers they may have possessed…” He spoke again to the horse. He watched as the birds vanished into the horizon, “Where was the old wizard anyway, it had been years since he had even seen the fellow…” He spoke directly to the horse, “Do you know?”

Of the horse he was at the moment perched on in a bored mood seemed more interested in munching away at some clover. The horse was indifferent to all the knight was talking about; including musty old wizards who owed him for the last time they encountered each other.

The knight thought out loud, “There are also no dragons left. Not a one. Very depressing…” He noted that a group of women and young maidens were heading toward the workmen below the ridge where he sat, “Must be families with lunch I would guess….” He frowned, “There is also no maidens to rescue anymore. They have all been rescued? Been years since I was last out on any quest on that subject….” He watched the group of workers and their families below and felt a sense of something he did not have. He of course took notice of the pretty maidens in their multi-colored outfits and laughing and cheerful laughing smiles. It was quite pleasant but it didn’t remove the boredom from his present state of thinking. He again stared down the wide river and noted nothing new or worth investigating, “No dragons at all!”

The horse made a noise; the knight wasn’t listening.

He had been noting one particular young lady; the red hair was simply too obvious. Being that he had never married he was allowed to at least observe the young and fair and pretty creatures but some of them made him wonder if such a time had to come seriously think of marriage. He was bored enough to get married. He had always had a thing for those creatures with those flaming waving mane of red flowing in the wind. And below at the construction of the bridge was such a creature of red hair and he was sure or at least possibly with blue eyes. Red hair was rare enough, but having blues was even rarer. He sighed again as he knew it was pointless to contemplate marriage when he was this bored. Though marriage would be another form of adventure? He shook his head to clear away the silly notion of marriage at the moment.

More in frustration than anything, “There are no dragons!” He slapped his leg very hard, “Where have all the dragons gone!”

“Have you really looked?” Came a deep but calm voice.

The knight reacted in shock and concern as he saw no one around, “What? Who speaks? Show yourself!” He demanded roughly, “I am armed!” Actually he wasn’t.

Calmly with an amused chuckle, “Under you as always.”

“Show yourself!” He again demanded, “Only thing under me is a horse!”

The horse in questioned lifted his head, turned to look at the knight in his great annoyance, and spoke rather put off by the knights attitude, “As I said, I am right here.”

The knight only stared in shock for a few seconds not to mention fighting back the urge to utter every question he had in that moment, “You can talk?” Was all he could manage at the moment to say.

The horse, Cecil by name if he was ever asked and that was rarely, “I have something to say….” He didn’t let the knight interrupt, “We horses are generally a very quiet lot. We rarely really honestly have not much to say but your moping about and feeling sorry for yourself for so long has forced me to speak.”

The knight finally found his voice, “I am not moping. And apparently that is the least of my troubles as apparently you can talk? When did this start?” It wasn’t a question but an demand, “Have you always been able to talk?”

Cecil thought about it a bit with no hurry of the impatient knight on his back, “You remember the wizard? He did this too me before he left on his own little quest.”

The knight in question, one Sir. Harold of Terrashire, shook his head as he removed the helmet, “I actually don’t remember his name but yes, horse, it’s I remember him…”

“Cecil.”

Harold frowned, “Who’s Cecil?”

“My proper name is Cecil, not horse. Horse just happens to be what you humans have decided to call us. But we like the sound of it so we have grown use to it….” He looked at the valley below as if something caught his attention, “I smell clover, fresh sweet clover, I have not had clover in a while…”

“You talk a lot for a horse who didn’t have much to say, horse, um, I mean Cecil.”

“Oh, once we get started it’s difficult to stop as we say so little that when we do have something to say we like to say it and say it a lot….I still smell clover.” Cecil stared transfixed on the smell from somewhere beyond the valley below, “What are they doing down there?”

“Building a bridge.” He snapped, but regained himself, “You have not explained how the wizard made you talk.”

Cecil slowly returned most of his attention to the subject, “Oh, yes, the wizard. He certainly was quite the strange character.”

“Most wizards are, Cecil, continue.”

“Well, this particular wizard…I think his name was Odin, strange name but that was it I think…”

Harold the knight was trying to be patient, “Yes, sounds right.”

“Well, as you know he liked to go on short trips as he called them to various places but he would always use his wizardly powers to give me wings…”

“What?”

“Yes, he would turn me into a Pegasus like horse. It was quite neat flying and soaring over the pretty green and browns of the landscape below. Sometimes we would get so high up I could no longer see the ground due to the clouds we soared through….avoiding the cloud fairies best we could…”

Aghast, “Cloud fairies?” Looking up into the few clouds above him, “There are creatures up there?” Not liking it, “Are they dangerous?”

“They are solitary creature.” He hide his smile, “They have no interest in you or anyone else on the ground. They simply live in the clouds quite happy where they are.”

“What do they look like?”

Cecil was again distracted slightly by the odor he was convinced was clover, “They look like fairies my dear Harold of Terrashire. Though can be quite easily offended as the wizard and I discovered on one of our trips through there region in the clouds. They have epic battles with fellow cloud fairies over the most trifling of things….last time over who had the better tea ceremony….me and wizard had quite the time getting away and not get involved in their strange tea festival of all things…” Looking at Harold with a look, “Tea. They went to war over tea.”

Drumming his leather gloved hand on his helmet, “You talk a great deal, Cecil.”

“I have a lot to say right now.” He responded with a loud thump of his hoof on the ground, “I simply am relating my travels with the wizard you asked about. We had adventures in the clouds among the cloud fairies good and bad when they weren’t at war with each other over their tea festival. It’s a pleasant festival when they aren’t breaking out into fights and then wars, Sir. Harold.”

Harold scratched his chin in thought before speaking his mind, “So, up in the clouds is a whole race of creatures who fight wars and drink tea?”

“Everyone drinks tea, Sir. Harold.” Cecil adding also softly, “And go to war for the strangest reasons. But as I was saying me and the wizard Odin, if that really was his strange name, where off to find a certain mysterious dragon who had sent a message to our wizard via an unpleasant, smelly and slightly uncivilized troll. Why a troll was sent I have no clue but he came one night crawling up the castle wall and into the wizards room. Handed the wizard a scroll, looked about the room as if looking for something to steal as that is there nature anyway as I should know. That’s a long story but I will keep that to myself. But anyway upon delivering his message and being unpleasant about the long and tiring time it took to get to Odin in the first place….”

“By the river Artemis you can talk, Cecil!”

“I am not boring.” Cecil was pleased, “Shall I continue?”

“I suppose it would do me no good to ask you get to the point?” Sir Harold knew the answer as he motioned for Cecil to continue, “A dragon?”

“Probably not and yes, a dragon. They still exist you know.”

“Continue then Cecil.” He wasn’t going anywhere was his conclusion, “Something about a troll?”

“Yes, an unpleasant fellow with the worse table manners one can imagine….” As a thought but he changed his mind to mention the troll living under the new bridge already. It was for the better to not bring it up. “Talks and laughs with food in it’s mouth, drinks everything in sight until it’s gone, breaks furniture thinking their dancing and just generally smell like the place they live…” He could see the question coming, “No, Sir. Harold there are no trolls in this region that I know of anyway. Besides they don’t really like leaving their smelly and damp homes for the homes for others. Their not sociable.”

“How do know about them?”

Cecil snorted, “Not the first troll I have had to deal with, Sir. Harold.”

Sir. Harold doubted the truthfulness of the statements, “Continue.” He had archers to deal with such unwanted creatures.

“Well, upon the trolls departure our wizard read the message with great interest. In fact he was down right outright giddy about it. Laughing wizards concern me, Sir. Harold…”

“Why?”

Cecil gave him a look, “It means they are up to mischief, their going to drag poor simple village folk off to some adventure against their will to deal with a dragon or trolls or whatever else they know is out there but never tell the poor folk they drag off that they will have to deal with. This particular wizard and I had been playing a game of chess when…”

“What? Chess? You and the wizard were playing chess?”

Cecil stared again at Sir. Harold with a look, “Wizard, remember that, wizard. He taught me to play chess and we were in a good game of chess when the aforementioned troll interrupted our game.”

Amused, “I’m listening.” He was doubting most of it but he was listening. He chuckled to himself that he was listening to a talking horse but he wasn’t unaware completely of the wizards adventures or the fact that he had the habit of using his strange powers in this fashion; a talking horse wasn’t that big of a surprise.

“But as I said the wizard read the message as he did with great excitement and even did a strange bizarre little jig….”

“Did you ask why he was so excited?” It dawned on him that Cecil was never really going to explain why he could talk via the wizard.

“I think he was bored and it gave him a reason to leave on another adventure.” Cecil replied with a look, “You know how wizards get…”

“Not really, Cecil, not really.” He replied.

“Well, this particular wizard was inching to be somewhere else for that moment and the note certainly gave him a reason to depart in hast. And we did.”

“You did did you. Where did you go?”

“Where did we go?” He exclaimed loudly, “Well, once we got passed the bridge…”

“The old one?”

“Well, yes, of course that one. As what I am about to relate happened years ago.”

Sir. Harold smiled patiently, “Continue, Cecil.”

“Well, once we passed over the bridge…” He would not mention the troll they had to get passed as that was certain to concern Harold. The troll told riddles and his riddles were not so much as clever as they were designed to trick one into giving a wrong answer. Which gave the troll the right too simply refuse passage over the bridge. They were more bets than anything. Cecil was not going to bring this particular troll up to Sir. Harold. “But once we got passed the bridge, Sir. Harold, we traveled a while toward those mountains in that direction…” Pointing with his nose, “Those mountains are quite the distance even if they do appear very close. We must have traveled for weeks…”

“Anything interesting happen?” He noted that the horse seemed to be skipping certain events, “You seem to be in a hurry?”

“Just not everything is worth telling you and it would take longer to tell you everything, Sir, Harold. We crossed that forest without much to tell. It took a while as the wizard would not take directions. We got lost a lot in those woods quite a lot and at times I am sure he was doing it on purpose. Mostly when we encountered the strange furry little creatures who seemed to have great delight in the wizards little magic tricks. So we got stuck staying with them for a week. He seemed to keep forgetting why we were on the journey in the first place…”

“What were these creatures?”

“The name is too strange for even me to pronounce Sir. Harold. Simple folk actually. Short, stocky little creatures with big eyes. Very hairy little creatures so at times it was difficult to hear them as they spoke softly. They seem to only enjoy life by many feasts and games.”

Sir. Harold frowned a bit, “What games?”

Cecil thought about the question and how to describe at least one of the games, “They enjoy wrestling but as they only appear like little furry creatures and all eyes it’s hard to tell who’s winning or losing. But they certainly get into the game…”

“Wrestling?” He looked away from Cecil and looked in the direction of the creatures in the story, “Do they ever leave their forest?”

Cecil chuckled silently at the concerned look, “Their only a foot tall and don’t like open spaces, Sir. Harold. They have a great fear of the open sky and it’s predators….”

Sir. Harold was surprised, “They fear the birds?”

Cecil shook his head at the statement, “From the air Sir. Harold they look like small sheep or some small animal, so they don’t venture beyond the tree line of their forest. They are simple folk of the woods and like it in the deeper parts of the forest for better protection…”

“Where do they live?” He was again looking the direction of the forest, “I have traveled through that forest and never once saw them, Cecil.”

Cecil felt the rebuke, “They mostly live underground so the chances of you seeing one was slim to none and they avoid people anyway. They are generally underground creatures during the day hence their large eyes for seeing at night….” Cecil noted the questioning coming, “Being too big for their underground dwellings we were forced to camp outside one of their entrances. Though the wizard offered to shrink me to their size so I could check it out for which I really had no real desire to do so….”

Noting how the story was dragging, “So after you finally left the little creatures did you find this dragon who sent the message?”

Cecil knew his meaning but telling the story was becoming a good distraction, “Eventually, Sir. Harold.”

“Maybe you could shorten this long tale, “I’m sure it was interesting as it happened, but this story seems to be a long one in the making, Cecil.”

“We were gone a long time, Sir. Harold.”

Sir. Harold frowned, “I don’t remember you being gone a long time, Cecil. When was this?”

“Many years ago and besides you were busy off on one of your early journey’s north to deal with desert bandits near the Great Sea…”

Harold nodded as he remembered the event, “Yes, the desert bandits. That was many years ago.” Frowning at something, “Was that why he didn’t come with me because I could not find him as I thought he might enjoy the trip.”

“Yes, I believe we left a few days before you went north, we went south.” He took notice of a flock of orange birds flying by the slowly being built bridge, “We did cross the forest without too much stopping us once we left the underground creatures. The wizard did get slightly into trouble when he had to explore some caves he thought might be interesting. I don’t like caves, but he did or does.”

Sensing another story distraction coming, “I suppose something happened you wish to relate?”

“Well, he also thought that maybe they lead through the mountains and that would be a short-cut to our final destination….” Cecil could see Sir. Harold’s patience getting a little thin but Cecil also knew that despite his impatience the human liked a good tale; which most of it was. “The wizard of course decided for me that we were indeed going into the caves and see what was there and if it indeed was a short-cut.”

“And?” Sir. Harold took notice that the bridge workers were sitting about eating and laughing and simply and apparently enjoying their break. The red head he had noticed earlier was dancing as a few other’s played on their strange but pleasant sounding horns. It was in fact a pleasant all-around scene of the villagers enjoying the day. He would have gone down and tried to mingle but he knew they would become uncomfortable and not really enjoy his company; but they did look happy was his final thought as he returned to the horse who had been munching on clover again. “What adventure happened in the caves?” He would have inquired what caves but he wanted to avoid a longer story than was already being told.

Cecil disliked the word, “Adventures? What happened was not an adventure I wish to return to….”

“What happened?”

“We got lost inside the mountain. So many tunnels and passage ways that lead nowhere and then there was the huge lake we encountered with a huge blind white worms swarming in it’s dark murky depths; they glowed! They were glowing, Sir. Harold and good smell us and it was a good thing they couldn’t go far from the water….they chased up a bit but the wizard used some of his magic to change their minds on chasing us to aggressively. They don’t fire which makes sense….but we got away and then still lost and trying to find our way out we encountered a very large creature we only saw brief glimpses of in the darkness beyond our fire the wizard created. But we still drudged on and on and on and on….”

The hand went up, “Got it, you were lost a long time.”

“Several weeks lost and drudging about in caves and then there was the sand pits we would encounter every once and a while.” Under his breath, “A wizard can do only so much in cold, dark, and always something chasing or following us caves and sand pits. That was what he kept muttering when I asked him questions about our plight.” He shivered as he spoke, “Then there were the spiders. I hate spiders.”

“I agree with that. But you obviously got out of the caves.”

“Yes, yes, we did with the help a mouse or at least what I called a mouse but it was bigger than most mice I have ever seen but he claimed he knew a way out of the tunnels; so we followed.” He became amused at something, “He called himself, Roland, the Warrior Mouse.” Noting the look from Harold, “He was on his own quest and he was dressed for it.”

Sir. Harold looked across the landscape of his kingdom, “I was not aware of just how much was happening out there.” Amused despite his impatience, “Roland, the Warrior Mouse. Didn’t know mice went to war. Thought they were rather timid creatures…”

“Oh, he wasn’t off to war, he was returning from some quest to discover what was beyond his little village and we had simply discovered him on his return from the quests.”

“In the cave I assume.”

“Roland wasn’t too clear on the subject as he not willing to talk about his own adventures. Which did seem strange to me and the Wizard.” Adding as the thought came to him, “I did get the impression that in fact Roland had just entered the cave when we ran into him….”

“Why do you think this, Cecil?”

“His clothes look too clean for one. He looked as if he had been camping a few days in the cave and when we discovered him he was actually already returning to his village.”

“That’s not much evidence, Cecil.”

“He also declined to show us his actual village, he looked nervous about the idea and he simply wished us luck and scampered off into the woods….” Stopping for a moment to munch on some clover, “He ran in the opposite direction he told us was his village.”

“Maybe he was not ready to return to his village?”

Cecil smiled at something, “Yes, possible, but I think he was not going far on his adventures and maybe he was not welcomed back in his village as he didn’t want to talk about that either.” Softly, “Though he did seem to want to go to the village, but something was holding him back or keeping him away. But he left abruptly in the opposite direction.”

Sir. Harold nodded gravely, “yes, yes, strange tale. So, when did you get to the dragon?” He wasn’t really expecting the story to abruptly end but he was hopeful. “So, you journeyed on?”

“We continued to journey south as the wizard seemed to know where we were….” Under his breath, “I think he was guessing but whatever.”

“But you did get there?”

“Eventually.” Cecil took notice of the bridge builders and those helping the workers with food and drink; he was himself getting rather thirsty from all the talking, “We then encountered a flying machine and…”

“What? A fling machine?”

Looking up into the sky, then at Sir, Harold, “Yes, a huge flying machine that looked very much like a normal sea faring vessel but it was flying with the help of bags filled with air. She was not….”

“She?”

Cecil would have laughed but that would have been rude, “Oh, yes, we encountered a young woman named Clara Natalie Pond is how she introduced herself with a grand flourish in her very strange flowing clothes. She claimed to have invented the air ship as she called it…”

Very puzzled, “Where did you meet this woman? How? Explain this better, Cecil.”

Cecil hide the smile best he could as he again munch cheerfully on the clover, “She was a young woman who claimed to have invented this huge ship that flew in the air.” Adding with another smile at Harold’s puzzled look, “Along with her twin daughters, Lizzy and Linnea.” Looking again in the direction of the bridge, “Apparently she didn’t need a large crew to manage this great vessel….”

“Where was she when you met her, Cecil?”

“We had been traveling a few days when you encountered a large lake and in the horizon we spotted the great vessel and it’s lone three passengers apparently loading up on fresh water and some other supplies they found somewhere; possibly a near by village or large town….”

“Makes sense. Why was she traveling alone with just her daughter’s?”

“She explained to us as we chatted one evening in her large library that…”

“Library? There was a library on the vessel?”

“One should never travel without a book. Or escape a dull life in a dull village that had no time, room, or patience with a woman who invented weird machines and read books and worse yet allowed their daughter’s to read books. So she escaped, Sir. Harold in her flying machine.”

“Sounds like there was more to it than what you just told me.”

“Well, as we dined in her library, her daughter’s are excellent cooks, she explained that she had been married very briefly and had her two wonderful red headed angels but she was bored in her little village and she had always been one interested in the world outside her village and simply one day told Lizzy and Linnea that they were leaving and not coming back. There was a world to see and she wanted to see it; books are fine and great but to actually see things was completely different. They agreed, so they left…”

“In the air ship?”

“Um, she stole the air ship actually….”

“Stole the air ship?”

“Well, as Clara told us, there was an inventor in the village people didn’t mind because he kept his inventions to himself and didn’t bother people with his books and simply really it seemed to me and the wizard was just an unpleasant person that kept people away by his unfriendly manner. But as Clara stated, they didn’t mind him because he kept things to himself and didn’t try to change anything. To hear Clara tell the story the inventor simply made stuff to simply do something that helped him avoid talking to people…so one night Clara and her daughter’s stole the air ship.” Adding as it came to him, “It was smaller then and as time went on she and the daughter’s added to the vessel and enlarged the library of course….”

“And you were with this woman how long?” He was sure of course there was more to the story than Cecil was telling but he decided to let Cecil tell his tale as he wished to tell it.

Cecil thought about it a bit as he watched the bridge builders, “She was heading south as we were so we simply stayed with her a long time; a couple of months actually.”

“Why so long?” Sir. Harold asked, “This story does seem to be taking a long time, Cecil.”

“It’s not my fault it took so long. The wizard simply liked to wander and I was in no position to stop him. He simply couldn’t go in a straight line to the dragons liar, but the journey wasn’t dull.”

“It seems not.” Adding with a slight smile, “So, the wizard was the reason had such a long journey or in this case a long story.”

“One of many, but in this case we had some adventures with Clara and her daughter’s as we battled through a terrible storm that drove us off course. Again we were lost. But we saw a massive ocean below us as we tried to get back on course….”

Amused but also puzzled, “For a wizard he seems lacking.”

“It was a huge storm, Sir. Harold, but he did try and it seemed he only made it worse or at least it seemed to rain harder on the vessel. It was a terrible storm, Sir. Harold. I’m surprised the vessel stayed in one piece but Clara kept the ship from crashing into the ocean. Three days if it, Sir. Harold, three days of a storm and rain. But yes, the storm drove us off course and it took a while to get back on course….”

“Sounds quite the storm.”

“It was, Sir. Harold, but of course we got through it.”\

A hand went up, “I have a question and one I should have asked a while back.” Leaning a bit forward with a look of intense scrutiny, “How did a horse get on that vessel? Seems a lot of activity that you as a horse would not really be able to be part of without much difficulty, Cecil.”

Cecil wasn’t phased, “That’s because the wizard thought it would be more practical to transform me into a smaller animal before we met Clara and the daughters.”

“What animal?” He wasn’t sure he believed the horse.

Cecil seemed hesitant to answer, “Does it matter? It made traveling in the air ship much easier when we encountered it.”

The arms folded, “I want to know what animal, Cecil. A full grown horse walking on a ship’s deck seems very impractical.”

“Can’t I just keep telling the story?” He pleaded. “It’s a good story so far?”

“It’s quite the tale, Cecil, even if  not true. But I still want to know what the wizard turned you into?”

“What could it have been that makes it so hard for you to tell me?” Sir. Harold attempted to be understanding because it was apparent it was not a pleasant memory for Cecil for some reason.

Defeated, “The wizard thought changing me into a, um, a wombat….”

Sir. Harold laughed loudly, “Wombat? What of all creatures did he do that for?”

Cecil was reluctant to answer but did as Sir. Harold demanded an answer by his amused look, “As a child he had one as a pet, so he….”

Sir. Harold burst out laughing and had to wipe his eyes from the tears it sounded so funny to him, “A wombat of all creatures?”

“It was very undignified, Sir. Harold.”

Regaining his composure a bit, “Of course, of course, I am sorry, please continue with your epic story.”

Cecil felt slighted by the laughter let alone the comment that his story was an epic of some kind but he continued, “We spent quite a long time in the great air ship. It seemed we were always going off course or encountering storms that drove us all course; must to the wizards delight it seemed to me. I think he liked the attention of the two daughters he was teaching some of his magic to. We encountered strange creatures as well as we flew over a vast landscape of snow and ice and very cold winds and below us were giant shaggy creatures with tusks and strange long noses; never seen such creatures…”

Sir. Harold frowned, “Very strange sounding, but you eventually arrived to your destination I assume, Cecil?”

Cecil could see that Sir. Harold was running out of interest, “We finally flew over that vast snow covered landscape after four days; massive herds of those strange shaggy creatures were everywhere. But anyway, we finally reached the Great Mountains of the dragons…”

“I have heard of it but continue.” He would have asked about it but he was almost sure that Cecil would enlighten him on it’s scenery and creatures of interest if there were any.

“Well, the daughter’s certainly didn’t want us to leave and the wizard was quite tempted to stay and teach them more of his strange craft. He was enjoying the attention I am sure, Sir. Harold. But he also knew he was being rather tardy in getting to the final destination of this very long journey. Maybe too long?”

“I think so.” He replied with a slight smile, “Seems a long tale of travel.”

“There was much traveling and I myself commented on the distance…”

“And the wizard said?”

“To a dragon distance is nothing when you can fly.” He took notice again of the bridge workers and the lone red haired girl, “Are you still trying to capture that mysterious bandit known as the Red Haired Bandit?”

Sir, Harold frowned somewhat put off by the question, “You know I am, he’s very elusive.”

He? Cecil chuckled to himself but refrained from pointing out the obvious, “I am sure Sir. Harold you will capture him one day.” He lowed his head and chuckled again as he munched on some clover. He chuckled again ever so lightly.

Sir. Harold noted the horse’s mood or was that an actual chuckle he wondered, “Are you laughing, Cecil?”

“Horse’s don’t laugh, Sir. Harold.”

“It sounded like a laugh to me or a low chuckle, Cecil. Is there something funny I don’t know about?”

Cecil thought quickly, “I was just remembering a funny incident while I and the Wizard  were on our travels. He was trying to show the twins how to make smoke creatures dance….and well, he certainly made smoke….way too much smoke and we almost crashed into the side of the Great Mountains. He apparently forgot some part of the spell and it simply created a billowing cloud of dense blue smoke….then it started raining in the billowing cloud and then, well, the lightening started. It was almost a terrible disaster.”

“His skills were sometimes questionable.” Commented Sir. Harold. He again looked out into the landscape and again took notice of the lone girl with the red hair. He had thought it before but had dismissed the silly notion that the red-haired bandit was a simple girl such as the one he was observing. She didn’t have the look of a bandit? Too pretty, too young, and he simply didn’t believe it was possible such a petite child could possibly do half the things reported by those he sent out to capture the red-haired bandit. No, the red-haired bandit was a man! He continued to talk about the wizard as he watched the girl a bit longer, “Yes, the wizard’s skills have been off at times….”

“He had his moments.” Cecil said. “He certain could do good animal magic….as I know first hand.”

“Did you ever reach the dragon?” He returned to the main subject, “There was an actual dragon?”

Rather put off, “Of course there was a dragon. Ordos was quite pleased to see the wizard once we arrived at his massive cave…”

“Ordos? What kind of name is that?”

Cecil looked up at the knight with a questioning look, “Ordos is a great name. Sounds majestic, royal, and certainly better than most names.”

Taken back a bit but regains himself, “I just never heard of a dragon with such a name.”

“How many dragon’s have you known?” Cecil asked.

He didn’t like the question, “I’ve never met a dragon nor seen one. I had assumed they had all vanished or died out or something just as unpleasant, Cecil….” Looking up into the the clear blue sunny sky, ” I have looked up a few times and have never seen one, but apparently you have and apparently you and wizard have gone off on all sorts of adventures behind my back….”

“Only when you are off on your own quests or simply not around, Sir. Harold.”

“I apparently need to keep a better eye on you…” He heard a very feminine voice laughing, he looked up in the direction and the red head and other young girls were laughing at something quite happily, “I can’t do anything about the wizard as that fellow has simply vanished or run away. If he returns I may simply order him to stay and not leave unless I give him permission….”

“How do you plan on keeping a wizard in one place, Sir. Harold?” Cecil refrained from sounding too sarcastic, “I mean after all, he’s a wizard and they are not known for being easily held in one place too long.” He wondered if he was serious, “A wizard is difficult to keep in one place being that they are wizards so what method would you use? They really don’t like or need gold or lavish rooms or much else. Take our wizard for example…”

Interrupting, “Let’s not Cecil, did you finally reach this dragon?”

Cecil looked at the knight quizzically at the abrupt change of subject to the main subject, “We did indeed. Ordos was quite happy to see the wizard.”

“I’m sure.”

“I had never met a dragon before, Sir. Harold. He was quite big and all blue and green scales….”

“Why did the dragon call for the wizard?” He got to the point.

“It was finally his move in the chess game they were playing…”

“Chess! This was over a chess game! What rubbish!”

Calmly, “Dragon’s are not known for making quick chess moves, Sir. Harold. It took him four years I was told by the dragon…”

“Four years! It took four years to make one move on a chess board?” Sir. Harold was incredulous, “You are trying to tell me that all this was over a chess game, Cecil?” The arms folded, he glared annoyed and forgot about the red haired bandit, and continued with a sharp tone, “I think you are making all this up for some other reason, Cecil. This story is too long, too absurd, too much to take seriously, and it’s too much all around as being even close to believable. Is any part of this story even close to true? I demand you tell me straight and honestly what if anything in your story is true?”

Cecil looked up at the annoyed knight with simply glared back with that demanding look, “It would have been quite dull if I had simply told the straight and honest story of a three day journey to see a dragon about a chess game….”

“Dragon’s don’t play chess, Cecil!” He thundered.

“Well, they do, but no one likes how long it takes them to make a move so they get to play very little.”

“You are making this all up! Dragon’s don’t play chess…”

“And horse’s don’t talk either I suppose.” Protested mildly Cecil with a low chuckle.

“Where is the wizard right now?” He demanded as he dismounted the horse, walked to the front of the animal and glared, “I demand you tell me where the wizard is!”

Cecil smiled; the wizard laughed; Sir. Harold frowned.