Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WEP April Challenge - No Love Nor Peace, Part 2

What would you do if you knew who had killed your brother and he was still loose on the streets? 

Promotional photo of The Godfather Knife - Google Images


(Part 2 of story Automatic Slim, see link also at bottom of post)

Sam first interviewed Hans and Ildi Loewen, who brought their two children to the party -- Joshua, ten and Birgit, sixteen. They befriended Jonathan shortly after moving into the neighbourhood.  When Sam questioned him about the party, Hans remembered little, only that his daughter had arrived late and left shortly after. 
“Birgit had plans to meet with her boyfriend, who picked her up at Jonathan’s house.

Did you notice anyone at the party who was unfamiliar?” Sam asked making a note about Birgit leaving early.  “I’ll need the name of Birgit’s boyfriend, as well. I’m verifying a list of everyone who attended the open house or who happened to be on the premises, like Birgit’s friend.”

 “Well, if it’s part of the investigation . . .his name is Dieter Jensen. He seems all right, but I don’t know anything about his family.”

As Hans walked Sam to the door, Birgit shouldered past them in the hallway.  She looked covertly at Sam but said nothing. Sam's instinct was bristling like an insect’s antennae. He left after asking a few more questions, but gathered little additional information. Jonathan had not mentioned Birgit’s boyfriend at the front door

A week later, a second man was found dead behind Grey’s Tavern with the same type of switchblade sticking out of his chest. Lazlo Podarsky, 30 years of age, was an associate of Rico Divenuto and a known ‘person of interest’. The owner of the tavern told Constable McNulty that Lazlo left a couple of hours before closing time, and seemed capable of getting himself home.  When the owner took the trash to the bin in the alley the next morning, he discovered Lazlo’s body hidden behind the huge garbage bin. He phoned the police.

“This is bad for business.” the owner told McNulty. “You cops, you find out who has done this or nobody will want to come to Grey’s Tavern. If these people want to kill each other, I wish they go somewhere else.”

“We’ll contact you for a statement soon,” McNulty said.  “Don’t talk about it to anyone. The killer could be one of your customers.”

Constable McNulty asked Sam to attend the second homicide scene and check for anything Forensics might have missed. He scanned the pile of garbage where the body had been thrown.  No one was around, so Sam closed his eyes to concentrate on clearing his mind, a trick he used to spot the clues others missed.

The sun flashed on the building wall opposite just as Sam opened his eyes.  A quick reflection of light shone from the garbage. He walked over to pick up a finely tooled but dirty knife sheath with silver edging which lay amid the mess. Garbage piled behind the dumpster had fallen to the sides when the body was removed, exposing the knife sheath. Sam pulled a small forceps from an inner pocket, put the sheath in a specimen bag and pocketed the evidence.

Sam later asked his friend, a tech in the Street Crimes investigation unit to run an analysis of a partial fingerprint on the silver work. 

Sam woke from his nap with a start.  What was that? With a shrill tone, the cordless phone reminded him as it rang again.  He struggled out of his old wingback chair muttering oaths under his breath and grabbed the phone.  “Hello?”

“Jarvis, back off. One warning. Keep your nose out of Grey’s Tavern. This is private.”  Click. 

With his mind still groggy from the nap, Sam didn’t register fear, just annoyance. The tenor male voice sounded muffled, but he heard loud music in the background.  He called Constable McNulty.

After hearing about the threats from someone at Grey’s Tavern, McNulty said, “I’ll send an undercover man around to your address to watch for trouble. Any ideas who it was?  You ruffled any feathers, Sam?”

“I’m just doing my job, asking questions.  That usually ruffles a few feathers.  Have you got an undercover at Grey’s Tavern?  If not, put one on.  And thanks for the tail, Constable.

Watch yourself Sam, and don’t try anything alone. We’ve tried to close that bar down, but we need hard evidence to do that. The owner won’t report the crimes. He just turns his back. Can’t report what you don’t see."

Sam made a pot of coffee before he pulled out his notes on the case. Could that call have been set up by the owner of the bar?  Or one of those thugs that hung around waiting for the action?   What connection did the murders have with the stolen knife?

As he poured himself a cup of coffee, he saw the message light flashing on the old cordless base unit. The message list showed the lab number on the display.

Sam’s friend left a message regarding the fingerprint identification. The prints on the knife sheath belonged to Jonathan Ashworth. What?  His head felt sluggish.  Confused at what this meant, he remembered the stack of knife-size boxes he’d seen in the corner of Jonathan’s library.  Sam’s lack of sleep was making his thinking less clear and more fractured.

The phone rang again. Mr. Hans Loewen's daughter, Birgit, confessed to her father that she had stolen Jonathan’s original knife from the library.  Birgit told her dad after Sam left and asked him to intervene. 
According to Birgit’s story, her boyfriend came to Jonathan’s front door to pick her up for a movie.  Birgit asked him to wait while she went to the bathroom. On the way, she passed the library and convinced Jonathan to go downstairs to meet her boyfriend When Birgit came out of the bathroom, the library door stood ajar and she saw the white stiletto lying on top of the main desk.  No one was upstairs, so she pocketed the knife in her jeans and left.  

Jonathan was at the front door talking to Birgit’s boyfriend Dieter, while they waited for her. She told her father that she later gave the knife to Dieter.  Dieter lost it there a few hours later to Rico Divenuto in a poker game at Grey’s Tavern.

Sam thanked Mr. Loewen for calling and told him he would have to make a new statement to the police.  No charges had been laid yet.

On his way to the police station downtown to update Constable McNulty, Sam got a call on his cell phone from a train dispatcher at the Canadian National Railway. Another body was found.  Constable Johnson had given the manager Sam's number.

Sam changed his route to head down East 1st Avenue to Main.  A male body had been dumped near the railroad tracks off Terminal Avenue and Main Street, on the edge of the downtown eastside.  Third man -- same type of blade – same efficient killing method.  The hilt of the knife rested between the second and third rib, the blade buried at an angle in the flesh. Very little blood was around the body. 

Railway workers halted their train until the police and Forensics had finished their investigation, warning the other rail traffic of the stoppage with flares and red flags.  Operations for the CNR had sent a supervisor over to confirm that the railway was not responsible for the death. Someone had wanted the body to be found with the same death signature as the two previous murders.

Sam stopped in at the Ovaltine Cafe for a coffee after he saw the body. There had to be some connection between these three murders.  He finished his coffee, left a tip for the waitress and left, heading back to his bungalow on Capitol Hill.

After setting his security alarm and his clock, he looked to see if the police cover was outside watching his place.  Yes, the black sedan was there, the full-bodied type that screams ‘police’, as soon as you see it.  For now, he was grateful.


McNulty conducted an internet search of all Vancouver purchases of the Protec Godfather Tuxedo knives in the last two years. A background search on each order pinpointed Jonathan Ashworth as a multiple importer of the knives for his business. Imports International, his storefront, was also his family business. By special police warrant, the Imports International database was hacked into by the RCMP. When the web search analysis arrived at Constable McNulty’s office, he called Sam in to see the results.  Jonathan’s name headed the list of suspects.

“How can it be him?  He’s the one who reported the knife missing.” 
“Yeah, that theft gave him a great alibi, didn’t it? Now hold on, Sam. Do you remember that murder a few months ago involving a guy who hung around Grey’s Tavern? That was Jonathan’s younger brother who was shot in the head at close range.  His brother was used as the pawn in a dispute between two rival gangs. We had no concrete evidence, so no charges were laid, and no one would testify.” 

Sam remembered the news article.  It stated that there had been a set-up to establish one club's drug turf.  He hadn’t known that the victim had been Jonathan’s brother, due to a court-ordered embargo on the case details.

“How did you find out that it was a set-up?”

“To answer that, I’ll need you to keep your mouth shut.  This is highly classified, and I’ll hold you responsible if you let it get out.”

“I’m a professional, Constable.  My information is confidential just like yours.  You must have someone on site. I hope he’s tough.”

 “You’re right, Sam.  One of our men is working as a bartender at Grey’s Tavern, he’s six foot four, two hundred fifty pounds and he works out at the gym where some of the lowlife go.  He was military before, so he can take care of himself. He’s reported seeing a man fitting Jonathan’s general description hanging around with some of the gang members at Grey’s. For several weeks before the first murder occurred, he infiltrated the gang based out of Grey’s bar and ingratiated himself with his dead brother’s associates.  Since he knew his weapons, they allowed him into their fold.”

“I’ll be damned.  I’d forgotten that Jonathan used to act in community theatre, he did it for a few years.  He was good at it too.  But to go to Grey’s by himself -- I didn’t know he had it in him.”

“Jonathan Ashworth made his own vendetta against the three men he discovered were responsible for his brother Boyce’s death. The knife that Jonathan reported stolen came back to its original owner that night, as Jonathan waited for Rico’s return.  Rico must have trusted him in his business biker disguise, making it easier for Jonathan to get close.  That same knife or a similar one was used to eliminate Rico, the one who bragged to his friends about the killing. ”

“So the knife found in the second body was another copy?”  Sam hadn’t told McNulty about the sheath identification since he had been called by the CPR on his way to the police precinct. Three men in the deal, three men dead. 

“Probably.  I haven’t heard from the lab yet but they’re comparing the evidence.  We’ll know for sure tomorrow.  That one would have been easy for Jonathan if he was keeping company at the bar.  The owner never said if Lazlo Podarsky left by himself or perhaps with Jonathan.  We’ll be calling the owner in for questioning.”

“Okay.  What about the last body by the CN tracks?  Who was the third man?”

“That was Vincent Sturgeon, Vinny to his buddies, a guy who assaulted women whenever he got the chance.  He’d been hauled in several times, but the women always got scared.  He did the dirty work for Rico on occasion, whenever he wanted to rough someone up.  Jonathan did society a favour on that one, but don’t quote me.  Same type of knife, same thrust to the heart on the last victim. ”

 “I see.  I guess that ties it.  When will Jonathan be arrested?”

“As soon as we get a warrant prepared, and we’re watching his place nonstop until then.  He’ll undergo psychiatric testing first.  This isn’t the first case of something like this occurring.  Good men can lose it, when the only person they call family, is murdered.  Jonathan must have snapped when his brother was killed so brutally.”

“I guess. I'm an old friend of Jonathan’s; I'll visit him at the hospital. Could you keep me informed as to how it goes for him?”

“Confidentially, of course.”

“Of course.  Any idea what will happen to his business?”

 “The import business is closed by order until the psychiatric assessment is completed.  The law will determine what happens based on that report and auditing the books.  At worst, the inventory will have to go on the auction block.”

Sam felt as if he had entered a walking bad dream, with exhaustion dogging his steps.  He wanted to kick something as he walked to his car.  Life wasn’t fair; it had turned gritty for his friend, and there wasn’t much he could do about it.  His old friend Jonathan had crossed that fine line between the exceptionally intelligent and the intelligently insane.

A couple of days later, Sam found Jonathan in his room at the Riverview hospital, reading a book on ancient sword making.  His eyes brightened when he recognized Sam.  Some of the old memory seemed intact.

“Good morning, Sam, you’re a little late.  I’ve already had my breakfast.  It’s good to see you, though.”

“I’m sorry, I got delayed by that lineup of traffic coming off Lougheed Highway.  Traffic keeps getting worse.”

“At least you’re here.  While I’m in this hospital, my schedule isn’t my own.  I’m a little confused as to exactly why I’m here, but the doc tells me it’s only a short stay.  They’re worried about me, you know.”

“Well, I hope you’re cooperating, dear friend. I see you’re reading a historical book. Do you like it? I’ve got that one myself. Let me know when you’re finished and we can discuss it.”

“You’ve read it? How interesting – an expert like you?”

“I can always learn something new. I’ll admit that I contributed to some of the facts they cite on swords and curved blades.”

Jonathan looked pleased. Almost like old times. He rang the nurse to see if he and his visitor could get some tea and a bite to eat. The staff had been advised to humor his requests in the hope that his mind would stabilize. A stable mind could stand trial.

When the tea arrived, Jonathan waved the nurses away and served them both. “We’ll just sit awhile and talk, ladies. If you don’t mind.”  Sam followed his friend’s lead as they talked, avoiding any references to recent events. Except for the occasional moments when Jonathan stared at his hands as if they weren’t his own, all was normal. 

Jonathan was indicted for the three murders, receiving a reduced sentence due to his psychiatric assessment.  That memory of what he had done was buried deep within his subconscious.  It was a common trait of multiple personality disorder. 

On Sam’s last visit, Jonathan talked about Boyce as if he were still living.  Perhaps in Jonathan’s muddled mind the horror never happened. The elegant black bladed, white handled knife with the double edge was never mentioned again. He had wiped away all memory of the blade that had been his favourite, the Godfather Tuxedo.
The weapons collection was held in trust for six months, along with the rest of Jonathan’s estate. Sam visited Jonathan once a week in the Riverview psychiatric centre, trying to keep to their old breakfast arrangement. If Jonathan was allowed to keep the weapons collection, Sam wanted to be the next caretaker.   

Jonathon knew that he would have no PEACE until his LOVE for his brother was honoured by his judging and executing the men who had caused his death. Despair and Hope were both resident in his heart.

WC=2639 approx.


Write, Edit, Publish (WEP)
Peace and Love

It's April, time for our second WEP challenge - with the support team of Nilanjana Bose and Olga Godim adding their imaginings and creativity. Thanks to Denise and Yolanda for being the hosts!

Create an artistic enterpretation: a poem, a flash fiction piece of 1000 words or less, a non-fiction piece detailing your personal experience or someone else's experience, write a script, draw your dreams, or post a photograph or a photo essay. The genre and the artistic choice are yours!

According to the poem Peace and Love by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. 

"Despair and hope may meet within one heart."


Part 1 of this story: Automatic Slim

Note: The original 5000 + word count story was edited to this current length in Part 2 to finish off the story which began in the last challenge. A lot of narrative was cut, but I couldn't meet the 1000 word count limit and still keep the story valid.  Please forgive my excesses. . .


Monday, March 6, 2017

Lonesome Traveler by Jack Kerouac -- A Review

Jack Kerouac was on the cusp of becoming one of the best known of the Beat poets and writers when this book was written.

Cover image for Lonesome Traveler, by Jack Kerouac

Lonesome Traveler

When Jack wrote Lonesome Traveler, he was working at various jobs while he tried to get On The Road published. He observed, lived through and recorded a time period of change in the USA. It was a time of questioning, a time of epic road trips and the introduction of variety in American literature style.

In this autobiographical work, Jack Kerouac writes about the years of his wandering, when he worked as a railway brakeman in California, a steward on a tramp steamer, and a fire lookout on Desolation Peak in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Lonesome Traveler includes San Francisco stories, New York scenes (the clubs, the parties), and a saved-for big trip to Europe. Jack was getting his culture education and wasn't afraid of working to achieve his goals. This generation was restless, curious, and a forerunner of the social movements to come. No longer content to sit and grow old in the same place as their parents, the young adults of this time period (the 50s) wanted to see the USA and the world'.

Kerouac also reveals more about himself in this book, as he talks about his goals, his work and how he writes. His personal life is always a bit 'in limbo' as his relationships don't tend to survive. He does remain in touch with the other members of the Beat group, albeit sporadically. A bit different from his stream of consciousness rambling, Lonesome Traveler is an enjoyable read with a lot of detail packed into the narrative.  I recommend this book for those who like the historical detail of the Beat poets and writers, or those who like to read about the man, Jack Kerouac. 

An Alley in 'Frisco

In recognition of his literary contributions, Jack Kerouac has an alley behind City Lights Bookstore named for him. 'If you're going to San Francisco' as the song goes, be sure to stop by and drop in at the City Lights Bookstore. Ferlinghetti, the longtime owner-poet-writer, ensured many of the Beat authors were represented there, along with poets and other authors.

Kerouac Alley in San Francisco, CA. by AC, prop DG Hudson

Have you ever read any of the Beat writers? Are you a fan of Kerouac's novels? Ever seen Kerouac Alley?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by! I'll soon be reading and reviewing several more recent books, one by Jessica Bell, and several by other current indie writers. 


American poet, painter, liberal activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.

City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco

A to Z post on Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac, American writer


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WEP Back of the Drawer - Automatic Slim

At the back of my desk drawer, I found this story based on the very real theft of a collector blade, The Godfather knife. It's a weapon that keeps making an appearance in one dead body after another. . .

So, who is the thief?

Promotional photo of The Godfather Knife - Google Images

Automatic Slim . . . 
A short story excerpt

Yellow police tape cordoned off a small rancher a few blocks off Commercial Drive, in Vancouver’s east end, while lights flashing from several police car beacons created a strobe effect. A few blocks away, the emergency sirens blared a warning to pedestrians and traffic on Broadway. The noise grew louder as the ambulance and coroner’s van arrived one after the other at the scene of the homicide. 

Vancouver Police officers were directing pedestrians to move back from the barriers while forensics specialists and the coroner collected and tagged their evidence.  Bystanders, including a few dog walkers and a couple of joggers, stood nearby talking to their neighbours trying to determine what had happened.
“Keep back from the barricades, everyone, or I’ll have to clear the area.  No statements will be issued at this time.”  

Constable Sean McNulty glowered at the crowd and the reporters standing by the barriers, using his imposing size and bushy eyebrows as reinforcement. It didn’t stop reporters or the gawkers with their camera phones from taking photos of the house.  No one argued -- but they didn’t move either.  Any one of them could have phoned in the anonymous tip the precinct had received that morning.

“Constable, don’t we have a right to know what’s happening in our own neighbourhood?” asked the white-haired lady from the house two doors down.  “I live by myself and this violence frightens me. I need to know what to watch for.”
“Yes lady, you do.  But first, we need to do our preliminary investigation.  Now, if any of you have any information about the deceased Mr. Divenuto, please let Constable Johnson take your statement.  If anyone witnessed anything, we need to know.  Johnson’s the one standing over there by the patrol car.”

Only a couple of those hanging around went over to talk to the officer, offering what they knew of the young victim. No one seemed to like him much, judging by the comments.
“He wasn’t a friendly guy, if you know what I mean,” said one of the men.  “Kept to himself, and didn’t have many visitors.  Didn’t even cut his own lawn.  Paid some gardening service to do that.”

“Did you hear anything late last night or early this morning?  A struggle or yell, anything unusual?”  Constable Johnson said as he made eye contact with the crowd.

“Not at the time he comes home. That’s usually in the wee hours. He can walk home from Grey’s Tavern, a bar on Commercial Drive.”

Constable Johnson and the local police unit knew the exact location of Grey’s Tavern, having been called there on several occasions to settle disturbances.

Rico, born Ricardo Divenuto, had been found dead in his home with the murder weapon buried in his flesh. Between the second and third ribs, the officers had found a knife thrust through to the heart. Not just any knife, but an elegant one with a white ivory handle encasing six inches of black satin steel. 

According to the coroner, the weapon had been placed with surgical precision and the intent to kill. Judging from the lack of visible evidence and the sweet smell of chloroform, the coroner reported that the victim had been under forced sedation prior to death.

Constable McNulty pulled up a background check on the laptop in the squad car. Rico’s police profile showed minor offences, and suspected complicity in a few felonies. Lack of evidence had prevented any serious charges being laid against him.  He was thirty-one years old, but had spent time in juvenile detention as a minor.

After Rico’s body was zipped in a body bag for delivery to the morgue, Forensics packed their specimen evidence and equipment into cases for the lab. Constables McNulty and Johnson were the last to leave and locked the house. The yellow tape remained, edging the property like an ugly fence.

“What do you think happened, McNulty?  That fancy knife seems out of place, don’t you think?”
“Looks like a vengeance killing to me. And Johnson, this is off the record and goes no further than the two of us -- understand?  We’re not paid to give our opinions, nor to do any talking about it.  Let’s go get a coffee at Timmy’s before we head to the precinct, I could use a strong one.”

“I’m aware of the consequences McNulty, and I don’t talk about my job. Coffee sounds good. I’ll pay. You drive.”

“You got a deal.”

“Knives have a certain beauty to them, an aesthetic value above the actual utilitarian purpose for which they were designed,” said Jonathan Ashworth. “Especially this one,” he said pointing to a switchblade in his collection. “It’s the Protec Godfather Tuxedo Model.”

“Yes, it’s a fine piece, that one,” said Dr. Samuel Jarvis.  “Looks brand new and deadly, is it a recent acquisition?”
Sam, an authority on unusual methods of killing, had written several books on hand weapons and lectured on historical and current models. He worked with the Street Crime Investigation Unit when his expertise was needed. As an old friend of Jonathan’s, Sam came once a week for breakfast and companionship.

“As a matter of fact, yes, it is. A replacement, actually, since the original that I purchased on a trip to Florida was stolen a couple of days ago. I was showing it to a small group of guests at my annual open house, when I was asked to meet someone at the front door. When I returned, it was gone.”


He pushed the cabinet back into the hidden wall enclosure, and locked the steel door. As Sam walked back to the dining room, he noticed a stack of small rectangular boxes with elegant black and white packaging in the corner. Neither Jonathan nor Sam mentioned the police incident from the rental house three doors over. Each kept that information close to their heart

Inspector Mike Patterson had pulled Sam into the murder case at the local tavern, when Forensics saw the special knife.  Rico Divenuto, when he was among the living, had been employed at the local motorcycle dealership, and rode his bike in his off hours with the gang that hung around Grey’s Tavern. 

Inspector Patterson approved Sam's request to interview some of the people on Jonathan's guest list. They were investigating other leads from their undercover operations at the tavern.  There was no reason - yet - to advise the inspector of his friendship with Jonathan.

WC= 1071 (for story only) not including lead-in and notes.

To Be Continued. . .at a later date.

Two more bodies will be found stabbed with the same knife. This whodunit in full is about 5000 WC so can't post the whole story. Automatic Slim is a lead-in story to introduce the character Sam Jarvis who also appears in a novella/novelette based on a border story incident.

What was in the back of your drawer? A mystery object? A forgotten story? A box with someone's history in it? Do you have any special weapon, either purchased or inherited?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by!


WEP -Write, Edit, and Publish

The prompt: Create an artistic interpretation: a poem, a flash fiction piece of 1000 wc or less, a personal experience, a dream or a photographic essay. The genre and style are up to you. You could find a note about a scandal, a love lost, a deed, a lottery ticket or a will naming you the beneficiary. Have fun with it!

Thanks Yolanda and Denise for hosting this challenge and thanks to those behind the scenes as well!

What will you find at the Back of the Drawer? Check the main list here.


The Knife  - Wiki


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Duma Key by Stephen King - A Review

Amid the lulling noises of the ocean waves rushing onto the beach are the clicking of shells under the pink house that reaches out over the water . . . or is that sound, voices? No, it's only shells, only shells. . .

elsewhere in the Florida Keys. . .

This is a suspense story woven into the deceiving background of palm trees, island beaches, and shells that 'talk' beneath a house reserved for artists. In this story by Stephen King, master of the horror genre, we learn about an artist who seemingly reaches the peak of his talent after a traumatic accident. 

Edgar Freemantle has suffered from a construction accident which takes his right arm and some of his memories. He is left with a scrambled mind and a throbbing rage as he begins rehabilitation. After the accident, his marriage falters and ends, leaving Edgar wishing he had not survived.

He moves to South Florida in the Keys, those islands that extend from the mainland outward into the Gulf of Mexico. His therapist tells him to get a hobby he enjoys and try to come to terms with his new life. Edgar begins to draw and paint. . .at times feeling a driving force he cannot identify. The results astound him. Now he has a purpose, but he wonders at what is driving him. Perhaps it's the need to do something, anything. Perhaps not.

As he settles in to the Pink House, he begins to meet his neighbours and others who live or do business on Duma Key. One elderly lady who owns part of the island, including the house in which he is staying, has a few quirks of her own. She takes a liking to Edgar, as does her hired helper, called Wireman. Between trying to get his work into a gallery for an art opening and trying to determine what is real and what isn't, Edgar has his hands full. His past life intervenes when one daughter who is closer to her father, comes to visit. Everyone is praising the work that Edgar is creating, especially as he has suffered the loss of one arm. That arm occasionally feels as if it's still there. . .

Edgar realizes he must find out 'what' happened to the original family that settled here. One of them is still living. The deeper Edgar and his friends investigate, the more the paranormal activity increases. Relationships between the characters, secrets about the past and the strange behaviour of plant life and the ocean near the Pink House will keep you wondering what's next. The pace in Duma Key is much better than the pace in The Stand, which I found too drawn-out in the middle. 

I recommend Duma Key to readers who are fans of Stephen King, love paranormal stories or suspense, or those who have an interest in art. It didn't take me long to get through it, it's a page turner. 

Are you a fan of Stephen King's writing? Have you read Duma Key? What would you do if you thought the house you lived in or rented was haunted?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here and I'll respond. I have several upcoming book reviews about books by: Jack Kerouac, Agatha Christie (2), and Diana Gabaldon. Hope you drop by to check them out, especially if you're looking for a change of pace. 


NOW in the news (Jan 28/17): Sanctuary Cities

Update: Canadian cities follow American counterparts in declaring Sanctuary for undocumented immigrants: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, with others discussing and voting on joining the move to resist following Trump policies on the Canadian side of the border.  See CBC news Feb 21/17.

Original news: Jan 28/17
Many of the great cities in the USA are putting up resistance to the current protectionist policies of the new president, in particular, immigration. The following article is from our Canadian news. CBC News, Sanctuary cities in the USA. Egalitarian policies still prevail in some smart humane cities, managed by smart mayors! Bravo!!


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Roland Yeomans - The Not-So-Innocents Abroad Novel - A Review

Steampunk, Floating Airships, and new inventions, oh my, with an entourage of characters who are invited for a one-of-a-kind cruise. Wouldn't you like to come along?

The Not So Innocents Abroad -Cover. by Roland Yeomans

The Journey begins

Sam McCord, Meilori, Meilori's henchmen, Ada, Abigail, and a young Tesla cross paths with vampire politicians, Captain Nemo, and other assorted villains in this adventure set in a time of exploration and new inventions. The original stated purpose is to take the guests to the great world exposition in Paris, with a few side trips.

However. . .

All is not what it seems. The airship is powered by new technology and Meilori's control. Sam McCord does what a Texas Ranger is hired to do, keep the peace or control the mayhem. Somewhat. This is a cruise meant to impress and to explore, but at the same time, it is a venue where Sam McCord and Meilori can rein-in certain revenants-the undead-and others who plan their demise.

Will the tour survive? Will Captain Nemo get his way? Will Sam McCord and Meilori be able to deter the plots set in motion by those who have gone to the Dark side? This is a book which makes you want to look over your shoulder for those souls lurking in your own past. . .

In Not So Innocents Abroad, Roland Yeomans has crafted another tale of a world we can only imagine, yet one which mirrors the real world in some aspects - one in which good and evil battle for control against known and unknown enemies. Plots and sub-plots entangle our hero and his heroine, but the demon alien goddess (Meilori) paired with her solid Texas lawman with a deadly right hand manage to survive, so far. . .This tale continues in Roland's next novel, The Not So Innocents at Large.

Underneath the tension of the adventure runs the never-ending, time-spanning romance of McCord and Meilori. I recommend this novel for those who like steampunk, adventure, history and the magical world which the author has created. This is a book which will transport you to those realms where anything is possible.

To learn more about Roland Yeomans, the prolific author, please visit his website, Writing in the Crosshairs, where you can view some of his other titles. 


Are you a fan of steampunk tales? Have you read Roland Yeomans novels? Do you like adventure with a fantasy twist?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by! Hope 2017 will bring us better news and events than the past year! 


Roland's website 

More info on Roland Yeomans as Author (from the A-Z authors list)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Asteroidian Dreams of Utopia - WEP Holidays 2016

Utopia? I wouldn't call it that. It's Someplace Else I dream about, A real planet. . .

Image 1, see credits 

Noises drifted into the corridor from one of the lab units. Loud voices. Aperture doors cycled open and closed with only a slight click.  Then, silence. A woman stepped into the corridor, paused for a moment as the door cycled close. She turned and headed for the marked surface exit. Two seconds later, a head popped out of the door which just cycled open again and a young man said, "Citizen Leta, excuse me Citizen Leta Buk!"

Leta tried to relax her shoulders and hands. Tension did that to her. Made her want to bite something hard. 

Keep walking. Ignore. Keep walking. Focus. That man can't tell me what I can do. My job is to study the surface, and I'm prepared this time in case the lurker I saw before is dangerous, human or something unknown. As prepared as a human can be. 

After a few minutes, the head belonging to the young man in an officer's uniform disappeared and the door cycled shut again. His name tag identified him as Citizen Dako Jon, Special Assignment Officer.


Image 2, see credits

Leta put on the custom surface suit she had bought for exploring the outer layer of the asteroid. One of the tailors in the colony made these for special request at a likewise special price. It was puncture resistant, had a longer airtime for its oxygen breathing tanks which were made with a lightweight composite, and included a built in deflector vest. No one asked the tailor how he managed to acquire the materials; they didn't want to know.

After cycling the airlock compartment closed, she left the re-purposed starship which served as the main administration centre. It was built into the highest level of the colony, stripped from the mother ship. Once she was out, where  no one could live without life support, away from the claustrophobic areas and recycled air, she felt more calm.  She checked the spot where the heat signature had appeared on her last outing. It was innocuous. There was nothing to indicate anything had been there.

She pulled out her constellation map copies to compare those to the multitudes of stars above and around her.  She wanted to map the constellations she could observe from this colony, and soon was absorbed in her study. With a special tool designed for her spacesuit -a little extra installed by the maker of the suit-she started to plot her own star chart. The flexible fingers and small manipulations she could do made the cost of the suit reasonable.

It's an investment. And it hides a very capable weapon capable of stunning or killing. I hope I can find out what was shadowing me last time.

Image 3, see Credits

The feeling of being watched suddenly came back and she turned quickly. There! She saw a flash of what looked to be a humanoid figure dart in the shadows in a different location than before. She activated the suit's weapon array and the transmitter inside her helmet. 

"Attention, intruder. This is Citizen Leta Buk. Show yourself. Identify your name and your purpose. My weapon is armed and ready."

"I acknowledge, Citizen Buk. I mean no harm. I have been shadowing you to see why you come up here, and I wanted to learn who you were. Not many ever come to the outside, not unless they have to. My name is Killian Max, I'm a historian."

He's no assassin. . .or I'd be dead. She disarmed her weapons. "Accepted. I don't remember seeing you before, did you transfer in from another part of the colony?"

"Yes, I'm from Level 8, transferred in a few weeks ago, but I'm a nobody really," he said. "But one day, that could change. I invent things, I create something new out of a bit of this and that. Like this suit I'm wearing."

"Your surface suit? You made it yourself? I couldn't get a heat signature from your suit the first time you stalked me."

"I don't know why I'm telling you that I make things, but it's my secret. I could get into more trouble if word gets out. And, I wasn't stalking. I was observing."

"It's illegal to create new technology? That doesn't make sense. But don't worry, I  can keep a secret."

"The council members fear that it was technology that derailed a lot of old civilizations, fear that it will subvert the human goals. Fear of the new. It's a way of controlling growth and it allows the council to monitor what it calls rogue citizens. . ."

"You don't seem like a crazy inventor. . ."

"I consider myself like those greats from Antiquity - Tesla, Edison, and others. I honour their memory from the age when inventions were heralded, not hidden. I like to dream about other places, planets rather than chunks of rock. Places where inventions are welcome. I want to see things. I don't want to stay here all my life."

"So, you're a dreamer like me."

"If that means dreaming of other places and better times, yes. In the meantime, I work on my inventions, test them covertly, and study our ancestors. Could I ask you something about your work?"

"Sure. I'm a mapper for the surface of this colony. I have begun to map the constellations in our system for my own interest."

"Is that what you doing with those sheets of film I saw you drawing on?"

"Yes. Mapping. This suit has been adapted for my work. It's what I do. Making star charts is like mapping the universe, or at least a part of it."

"I'll remember that if I run across any ancient maps in my work. There is so much of our history that has been suppressed here in the colony. For instance, have you ever heard of Christmas? It's an ancient Terran holiday that seems to have been lost from our collective memory."

"I've never heard anything about it. Why was it a holiday?"

"It celebrated peace, and was entangled with several religious traditions that seem like legends to us. People would sing, give gifts and try to help those less fortunate. There was a feast using some type of avian species which was unique to Terra."

"Interesting. So many things died or were lost when Old Sol, the Terran sun went nova. Will we ever find the remnants of the human race, scattered as it is? That would be a good reason to bring back some of the old ways. I'm ready."

"I've been ready for some time. I'm glad we have met. It gives me hope that there's more out there. . ."

"Yes, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, Killian."

"That sounds like something I read somewhere before. Well met, Leta."

And so, another link in the chain is formed. A chain which will eventually pull these two scientists in training away from their birthplace and toward other colonies and planets. As the circle turns and twists, what was old becomes new again.




WEP, aka Write, Edit, and Publish

Thanks to Yolanda and Denise, co-hosts of Write, Edit, Publish for once again stirring our minds to create! We all have dreams, the fleeting kind that can end up being nightmares or the ones about what we would like to achieve, but for the Utopian Dreams Challenge, we want to know about that secret desire, the something you spend time daydreaming about, talking about and maybe even secretly planning for. It can be anything that will make your life seem perfect, or utopian. However, reality is rarely ideal. Let's talk about as we end the year 2016, and look forward to perhaps getting a little closer to that dream.

The challenge: Create an interpretation of your own choosing: a poem, a flash fiction piece, a non-fiction piece detailing an experience, or write a script, draw your dream, or find photographs to show us the essence of the dream and enhance the story. It's up to you. Have fun and don't forget to visit all the participants on the list who are sharing their ideas.

Can you imagine how it might be to live underground on an asteroid? Do you think traditions can fade away as centuries pass? 

Thanks for visiting, and please leave a comment to let me know you were here. I'll respond. I also want to thank everyone who has been a regular visitor here or just occasionally drops by. I will try to get back into my own posting routine after the holidays.



NOTE: this story continues as Part 2 of Asteroid Stories

Previous WEP story: If I Wish Upon a Constellation, Part I Write Edit Publish



1st Image via Hubble
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

2nd Image via Pixabay

3rd image via Hubble
Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC and the University of Potsdam, JPL-Caltech, and STScI