Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The End is The Beginning - WEP December Challenge

Round and round the circle of life goes, from beginning to end and beginning again. The End is The Beginning of a new cycle, a new life, a new chance.

Looking down from the bridge I could see the swirling depths calling. Here lies peace. But how do I know if I cross that line to the other side that there will be peace. How do I know that I won't still be in limbo, watching all those that live as I do now. A horrid contemplation.

My world,Terra, is disintegrating slowly but surely. As the water levels rise, more bridges are built, then man-made islands to be used by those displaced with the flooding in low lying areas. There are so many bridges now that soon that will be all that's left. The warming of the climate and the melting ice which used to change very little, is now reclaiming land which man has occupied for millennia. Is the planet deeming us unfit and trying to reduce the numbers of humans? Perhaps.

The news and travel channels are blasting out advertisements for'colony ships' which will transport people to safer planets. Other adverts cajole us to be one of the founding colonists of the Moon, our nearest neighbour, but that entails living underground most of the year. Mars also has underground colonies with only the scientific study areas and weather watchers on the surface. Terrans are having to make harsh choices, seeking to fix the problems born in the old 20th Century and proliferating into the 21st. Now at the end of the 21st century, we reap the consequences. The scientists say it will take 10,000 years or more for Terra to be habitable again. They say we were warned.

I see my partner coming toward me.

"Meli, forgive me for being late. It couldn't be helped."

"No worries, Jala, did you get the info for Mars?"

"Of course, but it took an hour's standing in line. A lot of people want to leave this planet, even the scoffers have admitted the truth; we will have to make our decision in a short time. Will it be the Moon or Mars? It's a tough call, but those are our best bets."

"I like the idea of being close to the mother planet, but can I stand seeing it die slowly? Now we have starships that can take us at least as far as the outer solar system, maybe further. Going to the Moon is the easiest, but Mars is the most interesting. Both force the colonists to live below ground - but we'll get used to that."

"You've got to get signed up now to leave on the next flight outward, so we must decide in the next couple of days."

"What did you hear on the street?"

"A lot of panic. Solar flares are causing a delay in the launching of the carriers. Storms seem to follow one upon the other, especially in the equatorial regions. Some reports say geysers of gas have been exploding from the ground in some national parks."

"Warning signs. Strong ones. Let's go for Mars, it used to be a planet and it's got a few colonies now. I think we stand a better chance there."

"I'll call and pre-register for Mars. We'll have to show up tomorrow to confirm identification, pay fees, and pick up starship tickets."

"This could be the beginning of another life, a life as spacers. Terra will be brought to its knees, an end not befitting such a beautiful planet. I hope without humans here, the planet can begin to flourish and become stable again sometime in the future."

One month later, the loading began. Our last vision of Terra was from the windows of the starship. I felt tears slipping down my cheeks. Goodbye, Terra. May we one day be able to return.

WC = 844 *****************

Have you had instances where you had to start over? How did you feel? Adventurous? Sad? Which colony would you choose between the Moon and Mars?

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


Write, Edit, Publish (WEP) - The Challenge

It's December and time for another 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! It's been a good year for great flash stories and these bloggers and the participants have kept us all interested.

Create an artistic entry: 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!

Be sure to check all the other entrants on the WEP participation list! This prompt could take us anywhere from the end to the beginning of something new. Hope you enjoy reading!


Monday, November 13, 2017

Heartbeat - My Life with Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, A Review

A novel about Beat Legends Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, told by Neal's wife Carolyn Cassady. The time period is the early to mid 1950s.

Heartbeat, by Carolyn Cassady

By Carolyn Cassady, wife of Neal Cassady

My Life with Jack and Neal, as the subtitle indicates, is written from the point of view of the wife of one of the most loved and discussed of the Beat legends, Neal Cassady.

One woman, and two men who are best friends, the "triangle" that never seems to work very well. When Neal settles into family life with Carolyn, he invites Jack to come and stay with them. Jack is on the healing end of a marriage split, and appreciates the offer and the company. He thinks he can hire on to the railway, and yearns to see different places.  Jack arrives and is given his own room to encourage him to write. He thrives on the family atmosphere, but Neal gradually becomes less keen on the sharing, especially when it affects his marriage. As the tension builds, Jack gets the signal that his welcome is wearing thin. It's time to hit the road again.

Jack describes the San Francisco he sees in the mid to late 1950s, and the trains where he tries to make a few dollars to help pay his way. Jack may covet what Neal has, it's hard to say. Neal may covet Jack's freedom to roam. But the idyllic setup comes to an end. What one imagines as ideal doesn't always seem that way in reality. Sad but true.

This is a small book, a novella, and easy to read. If you're a fan of the Beat Literary writers, then you might like reading this one, as I did. There are letters in the book which were written between Ginsberg, Kerouac and others. It's a resource for those learning about Jack and Neal. Recommended for fans of the Beats and for those wanting to learn more about the 1950s lifestyles of this generation.

Do you like to read about the Beat literary writers and their books? Have you read any of the books by Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, William Burroughs, or Allan Ginsberg? Do you like any of the Beat writers?

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

More reviews to come on two mystery books (compilations) by Agatha Christie.



Jack Kerouac (A to Z Blog Challenge 2016)
Contains several additional links to Jack Kerouac book review posts and information on the writer.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

DARK Places, Dark Intentions - WEP Halloween

There's one big problem with dark places and portals to other planes of existence. Those entry points could be one-way portals.

Haunted houses, haunted mental institutions, abandoned buildings all experience some form of pain, torture, or grief which are reflected back into the world from whence they originated.. These are the places between where the discontented spirits vent their anger and try to capture those unsuspecting humans who 'say they don't believe'. One day that twilight plane of existence may send a visitor to your door, or closet or mirror.

Creative Commons, Free for commercial use
No attribution required


I was awakened by my cell phone signalling an incoming message. I yawned. It's either bad news or a wrong number. . .URGENT flashed in the subject line. "Help. Come quick, I'm in danger. At old house, 666 Hades Crescent. Urgent.

The display showed my friend Manny's number. I hadn't seen her for years. Why would she call me now, on Halloween? Something doesn't feel quite right about this. Was it a trick? It's nearly midnight and I'm not sure I want to go to that area at night. My hair is standing up on my arms. My intuitions says No, stay away. But what if it's true and she's really in danger?

What am I scared of? It's just an old house. The few neighbours still living on this street say it's haunted by the last owner, a man who killed his wife and kids and buried them under the house. They say the ghosts of his family wander these halls looking for their killer. He's long gone now but those souls not released tend to vent their anger at whomever steps over into their territory. That territory is this house. My friend rented this place for a cheap price, since she said she doesn't believe in the paranormal.

But where is she? This place looks abandoned, no one has lived here for a while. I wander through the unlocked front door. It stays open.

"Hello, is anyone here? Manny?"

The door behind me creaks, then closes softly with a definite CLICK. OK, now I'm starting to worry. Looking upward, I see another level, but for some reason, I DO NOT want to go there.

 Creative Commons, CC0 Free for commercial use
No attribution required

The house wants me to go there. I can feel it. Was that a noise upstairs? What could have happened? This house looks like it's been abandoned. I thought it was in better shape when Manny rented it. Then I feel like someone is behind me.. I turn and see Manny's image in a mirror in the corner. She's not looking out but away at something. Horror is etched on her face. I can't move. I can't think. A cold breeze seems to move from nowhere with a smell like the weather before a storm.

Now what do I do? Manny has been missing for a year or more now. Has no one looked here?

I remember some weird things like don't touch the mirror, I might be drawn into that other world, and don't look too long in any other reflective surfaces, it's a way for some spirits to step into our world if we acknowledge them. This entire house could be under a spell.

Do I believe in spirits and spells? On All Hallows Eve, I do. At the moment I don't feel threatened, but I don't know how I can help Manny? How did she contact me? From the beyond? I've got my spotlight, so I'll look about a bit more before I go to the police. . .or may a psychic. . .

I walk through several more rooms, and find it odd that the lights come on when I flick the switches. If the house has been deserted, why do the lights still work? Never mind, don't get distracted. Some force is propelling me to walk to the next room, a deserted kitchen. Everything is covered in dust but I see footprints in the dust by the door which has been nailed shut.

Hmm that's not good. My hackles are rising. I wonder if that front door will open as easily 
when I leave. Perhaps I should find out now.
I turn back to the door in the front room, and try the knob. It's locked and won't turn. My stomach is getting jumpy now and I feel cold air. Then I hear what sounds like steps coming down the hallway above beyond the stairs.

As I peer upward,  Manny stands there gesturing for me to come upward, but not speaking at all. She's dressed strangely in an old outfit from Victorian times, a little raggedy around the edges.


No answer, but the pale apparition looks directly at me and I see dark holes where her eyes should be. Oh,God, she's not alive. . .

At that point, I turn slowly and make my way to one of the windows, grab a chair and throw it through the window breaking it and making a lot of noise. I care not. My only intention is to get out of there as fast as I could. Once I jumped out the floor length window, I vaulted over the outside railing and ran down to my car. It was safe, no uninvited riders.

The house was dark as I looked back except for one light showing in the upper room on the 3rd floor. I turned on the ignition, it didn't catch. Oh hell, did I have to walk? I tried again trying not to shake so much. The motor caught, I backed up faster than I ever had before, turned as soon as I could and beat it down the driveway and out onto the road.

I never looked in the rear view mirror or anywhere but straight ahead until I got home. I checked the back seat and trunk again before I went into the house. I locked the car and the garage. I felt safer in the bright lights where I lived.

Once inside, I tried to make sense of it. Did I just imagine what happened?, Was I dreaming? I checked my cell phone and that call from Manny was missing. . .

Maybe I'll stay awake til dawn. Dark places hide dark secrets and dark intentions.

1064 words approx.

Have you had a scary experience in a 'haunted house' or elsewhere? Do Tell! Do you believe in spirits and the paranormal?

Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by to read my entry. I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by and be sure to read all the other entries at the Write, Edit, Publish site.


WEP - Write, Edit, Publish - a fiction challenge: DARK PLACES

It's October and near Halloween, time for another 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 entry: 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!

Be sure to check all the other entrants on the participation list! There's many a good tale told at Halloween.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Book Review - A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

When you know war is coming, how do you prepare for it? 

Cover for D. Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes

A Breath of Snow and Ashes
(#6 in series)

In the hills of the Carolinas, on the southeastern coast of the USA, spring was only beginning when a desolate sight met the eyes of Claire and Jamie Fraser. A burning homestead. . .and it wasn't the only one. A friend reports the carnage to Jamie and the Frasers go to investigate. They find half-burned bodies, whole families murdered and hanged, and some poisoned. The settlers are being killed by roving gangs of men who are the forefront of the coming war. Like carrion-eating birds, they judge and execute those who don't agree with them. The marauders blame the Indian camps, some of whom had taken to fighting back as they try to protect their own against these same roving gangs of men.

Tensions are running high when Jamie is offered the position of Indian Agent, a liaison between the British and Native tribes. The British are gathering their supporters about them as they try to determine where and when the trouble will come. Jamie accepts the Indian Agent position with misgivings. One of his first meetings reveals that the Indians want guns, they fear any treaties will be broken if the white man goes to war.  

Both the British and the Regulators (who consider themselves patriots of this new country) are wondering where James Fraser's allegiances lie. Then, an incident at the Fraser mash shed occurs and Claire is snatched as a hostage. She suffers much before Jamie locates the camp. This is a pivotal point in the story.

Incident follows incident, and Claire is regarded with suspicion after she makes a bad medical decision. Some consider her a healer, others thinks she's a witch. Her daughter, who has time-travelled back to find her mother, is kidnapped by a pirate. The Frasers and Roger, Brianna's husband to be, pursue the man responsible in order to find their daughter.

This novel reads at a faster pace, with constant action. The war machine of the British colonial empire is coming. Gabaldon weaves the history details into the narrative, as she shows the anguish and horror which helped birth a nation. The settlers are defending their own land. The British redcoats are defending the Empire. The Indians just want to survive. Recommended for anyone who likes Gabaldon's writing and for fans of the American colonial times. I enjoy Gabaldon's writing style, and the characters that populate her novels. There will be more reviews of her work for this series, once I acquire them. 


Are you a Gabaldon fan? Have you watched the Outlander series on tv? Do you like historical based fiction books? 

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here and I'll reply. Thanks for stopping by! Next up will be reviews about a couple of Agatha's mysteries (Poirot) and one review of a book about Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassidy. Hope you'll come back for those.

For my other reviews of Gabaldon's work:

Drums of Autumn (#4)

Voyager (#3)

Dragonfly in Amber (#2)

The Fiery Cross (#5)

Outlander (#1)


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Reunion - The Wanderer - WEP August Challenge

Reunions are celebrated on ReUnion, a colony planet that has been settled for a few hundred years. Here is one of the stories from that planet.

Surface horizon of a planet, similar to ReUnion, free use image

ReUnion - The Wanderer

A Noah Generation II Starship arrived at the landing port with supplies to trade. The sleek stealth black wing design could handle hyperjumps and was equipped with hidden armaments in the exterior shell of the ship. The manifesto included grains, seeds, cloned animal embryos designed to withstand the rigors of space travel, and the latest inventions.

Captain's Log:

We planned to be here for a week, time to unload, reload, make a few deals. With the upcoming ReUnion Festival of Humanity opening in a few days, this place is going to be crawling with potential customers. I smell more profits. 


A red alert flashed indicating an incoming message to the bridge. The captain's raised eyebrows and his switch into action at one of the consoles confirmed this was a real call for help. No one else moved for a few seconds. . .

"Urgent. Mayday. SOS. SOS. Generation I, Colony Starship Wanderer, damaged from attack. Urgent. Come in ReUnion. Our call code is SSJ900. Mayday. Mayday...."

"Call Code SSJ900. This is NOAH , Gen II Trade Starship SST1100, Captain Jona speaking. Do you read me? I'm in contact with the landing agent on ReUnion. An emergency ship will be dispatched. What coordinates?"

"Coordinates sent. Thanks Captain Jona. I'm Pilot Olivar, our power level is depleting. We may need towing unless you have a mechanic who understands the old starship configuration. I can send the schematics."

"Great. I'll forward them to the agent. Your signal wasn't strong enough with all the interference of other ships landing and leaving."

"Can't boost it. Power level too low. I'll look you up later, Captain Jona. I owe you one, sir."

As he signed off, Captain Jona wondered if this man kept his word. Many say of things they will do, but few follow through. This could be an event of historic importance, a wandering explorations colony ship! He wanted to see the other ship and look up Pilot Olivar, once he arrived. 


Captain Jona obtained clearance to visit the ship, on the condition that he would act as liaison for the incoming Terran ship and its captain. 

From the notes of the meeting in the Captain's Log, Starship Noah, quoted verbatim:

"We are a exploration settlement ship which left Terra many centuries ago, an advance ship sent prior to the Great Evacuation. We have been searching for human settlements but only finding other species or humans who look like us. but are NOT like us. Searching so long . .then we were attacked several weeks ago by one of the free-running marauders. They usually travel in pairs but this one was alone. We used a lot of our power supply to escape the attack. We are grateful for your help.

"May we also express our sincere thanks to Captain Jona who heard our call for assistance and responded. Our pleas would have gone unheard if not for him."

Captain Jona winced, but smiled and nodded. No way was he going to stand and acknowledge his part. Nope

Pilot Olivar stood and looked at the few who were able to attend this momentous meeting. Privacy meant it couldn't be a public affair, only an inner circle could be trusted. But Olivar knew, it wouldn't take long for word to get around.

"We, and I speak for my shipmates, will need to assess our damage in human lives as well as our ship functions. I'm not sure how many we may have lost in that last encounter."

Pilot Olivar invited Captain Jona to meet with him privately, so they might talk friend to friend.  As they are dining, Jona tells Olivar about ReUnion and asked him to meet again so they might be able to set up a deal with some of the trade items. Olivar asked him how the name of the planet came to be ReUnion.

Jona replied, "This planet was named ReUnion by the initial settlers with their hope of reuniting some of the far-flung colonies of humankind.  After centuries of no contact, most of the population has forgotten that reason. Reunion has become a focal point at the crossroads of several trade routes. The colony has grown into several large cities on the one large continent. Trade is the lifeblood of this planet. That's why we are here."

WC = 754

To be continued at a later date. . .


Do you like reunions of any kind? Have you attended a reunion for your school or work location, or a large family reunion in the last year?

Please leave a comment to let me know you came by and I'll respond. Thanks for taking time to read my entry, a partial beginning for a short story.


WEP - Write, Edit, Publish - a fiction challenge: REUNIONS

It's August, time for another 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 entry: 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!


Saturday, April 29, 2017

REVIEW: Dear Reflection: I Never Meant to be a Rebel, by Jessica Bell

Growing up is hard to do. . .growing up with performing musicians who are also your parents, is even harder. Jessica Bell has written an engaging and poignant memoir which spans two distinct places: Australia and Greece. It's a whirlwind tour of learning to cope.

Jessica Bell's Memoir cover for:Dear Reflection

DEAR REFLECTION: I Never Meant to be a Rebel
Author: Jessica Bell

A lonely child uses her imagination to provide what she doesn't have--a trusted person to talk to. In listening to this mirror image alter ego, she gives permission to the voice that urges her, demeans her and chips away at her confidence. Music comes along with an early guitar and suddenly she finds something she enjoys. But is she good enough? Always the uncertainty.

There are forays into the wilder side of life for intervals, but something always seems to save her from her destructive tendencies. Family issues come and go, each teaching the young woman more about the real world. She learns the darkness of addiction to prescription drugs from her mother, the blindness of the mind that alcohol causes, and the bullying of a jealous partner.

To survive, she must accept her parents for what they are, and push back and prove to herself that the voice in the mirror and in her head is wrong. This memoir, with its moments of grittiness, is the first I've read that has kept my attention throughout. Reading this novel stirred the thought that when the going gets tough, the struggle strengthens us. 

Highly recommended for parents, teens, or anyone who has felt loneliness whether growing up or afterwards as an adult. I consider Dear Reflection: I Never Meant to be a Rebel one of Jessica's best. She handles the issues which she has lived through with sensitivity and brutal honesty. Bravo!

ALERT: Available the 1st of May. See the link to website below.

Have you read any of Jessica Bell's other novels? Do you like memoirs? Why or why not? Do you ever think of writing a memoir? 

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

For more on this author's novels, and other talents, please visit Jessica Bell's website:  


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. . .