Archive for the ‘Hemingway’ Category

Bone Island Abattoir / Part 4, The Incrimination of Keith

February 16, 2011

Author’s note: This is the fourth book of The Shades of Hemingway series. While reading this installment, Bone Island Abattoir is complete in itself, it is recommended that the reader search out the beginning of this incredible story…

~

Jake Barnes is anxious but maintains an appearance of calm. I watch him drum his fingers on the table as a cigarette he has carelessly stubbed smolders itself out in the half shell ashtray. The conversation between Lord Cristobal and myself has taken a turn that he is unprepared for so he fidgets uncomfortably. As a detective, Jake must adapt to the situation so this requires him to observe and keep quiet. This seems difficult for a man accustomed to being in charge. Lord Cristobal implicating himself as being an accessory to the suicide of one of the most prolific American writers of the 20th century is a bit un-nerving but also appears to fascinate the big guy. The voodoo priest’s announcement is as solemn as a schoolboy’s confessional and matter-of-fact as a lifer in prison methodically detailing his crime without fear of reprisal or further incrimination. Lord Cristobal seldom had an audience with which he could embroil by his admission of guilt.

“The kyklos tod mene’ is a tool, part of the arsenal of the babalaos… a means of defense used against sedition from within the faith of the Vadou.” Lord Cristobal is seated once again and reflective, almost melancholy. “A priest can acquire many enemies, even from amidst his own followers.”

“But surely Hemingway was not your enemy, sir. He was not a threat to your faith or your position as babalaos. Yet you took this form of defense and used it aggressively against a man who raised and befriended you, why?”

“Yeah, and while you’re at it, explain why did you authorized it’s use on a cop from Key West?” Jake Barnes was emboldened to chime in but is stumbling on his verbiage. He looks at me and winks as if to say, “Don’t worry kid, ol’ Jake can still count the clues and add ‘em up.”

Lord Cristobal gives Detective Barnes a nod with renewed interest. I had not made the connection between my former friend, Keith, and the voodoo ritual employed by Lord Cristobal but now it made perfect sense. The reason why the shades were so interested in the death of Robert Jordan was because he had been done in by the same method used on Ernest Hemingway, a forced suicide. Lord Cristobal breathes heavily; burdened, I assumed, by his conscience.

“Sometimes a man’s drive for vengeance overrides his ability to think… or feel. My coming to Vadou was not of a pure motive, the power I sought was to inflict pain on my adversary. It was only afterwards, with reflection due to time and maturity, did I realize my error and poor judgement. My anger over my father’s death had choked my heart and turned it to stone. After Papa’s suicide, I realized I lost a great benefactor and friend. Suffering with belated grief, I swore never to use the kyklos tod mene’ in such a manner again.”

I looked at the old man’s fragile, leathery skinned hands and saw a slight tremble. Instinctively I reached out to touch and try to sooth him. Anselmo and guard approached immediately but Lord Cristobal lifted his free hand to stop them, then smiled sadly at me.

“I believe that with all I know about the shades of Hemingway, there is no animosity now in their realm of existence.” In my heart I knew this to be true and offered my sentiment free of any doubt or reservation. Lord Cristobal gratefully nodded his head and softly spoke a low chant I could not understand.

“But what of Keith and Officer Jordan? Where does this Kinkos tomfoolery fit into that?” It was Jake again, impatiently waiting for an answer to the garbled question he had asked moments before. I became confused.

“Jake, I thought Robert Jordan died in the line of duty. What makes you believe Keith and the kyklos tod mene’ were involved?”  I knew somehow the voodoo ritual had been used because of the information Papa had shared with me back in Key West, but I could not make the connection to Keith.  Jake’s mental wheels were grinding, his years on the force had built into him an ability to deduce the clues that were right in front of me… his bullshit detector was firing on all cylinders.

“Keith was somewhat exposed to this guy, wasn’t he?”  Jake points a thumb towards Lord Cristobal.  “He had to have access to the beliefs and practices of the voodoo religion. Ain’t that right?” His question was directed to our host who nodded grimly. “Jordan was killed in the line of duty, but not in typical fashion. He shot himself trying to protect someone else.”

“Then it was an accident?” I had overlooked Keith’s loose affliation with the Vadou faith.

“That’s the way it was logged at the time for simplicity, the details were just too freaky. The department thought it best to make it an open and shut case… cut’n’dry… a closed book. But I’ve always had my suspicions otherwise.”

“You mean like a cover up?”

“I mean like a simmerin’ stew with the lid clamped down. Fuhgettabout it, kid… it’s all in the past.”

“But he was Brett’s brother.”

Anselmo approached and leaned low to Lord Cristobal’s ear with a whisper, who nodded then again pulled away from the table to stand.

“I regret I have to end our discussion, gentlemen. I trust you can find your way to your room?”

The guard stepped up as our apparent escort. Jake looked across the table to me and shrugged. I rose and Jake followed, I reached out to shake the hand of the voodoo priest and he weakly accepted my gesture, as if the topic of our conversation had suddenly sapped his strength. Lord Cristobal then shook hands with Jake Barnes.

“I appreciate your takin’ us in, sir.” Jake began, “I guess the arrangements with your government will bring our visit here to a close tomorrow?” I looked questioningly at Jake but he shook his head slightly. “I’ll fill you in later, kid.” I had Jake’s confidence and that reassured me a bit. Lord Cristobal agreed with Jake then allowed himself to be led away by Anselmo.

Jake and I had set out for the same thing, the rescue of Brett Jordan, but now my attention was drawn more on the circumstances surrounding the death of Ernest Hemingway and the similarities to Robert Jordan’s demise. If he had shot himself protecting someone else, who was it and how did it involve the Kyklos tod mene’ as a forced suicide? It seemed the closer I got to solving the riddle the more confusing it got. Rachel had been here, but how? Who had brought her here and where was she now? I found myself grateful for the fact that Jake Barnes was there with me as we formed our alliance. I imagined him to be the big brother most kids wished they had growing up. It was easy to feel confident with him in your corner.

We marched back up the stairs to our room with the guard following close behind. I could not help but wonder for as big as the Villa Vinales de Eden was why Jake and I remained sharing a room but figured since Jake had initially thought I was a criminal we would have to make the best of the arrangement. Jake had an overnight bag and offered to let me use some of his toiletries, so with the guard strategically standing out on the balcony keeping one eye on the doorways between our room and the bathroom at the head of the stairs, we both managed to prepare ourselves for bed.

As Jake took his turn in the bathroom, I lay on the bed and stared up at the ceiling thinking of Naty Revuelta and her mother leaving me at the entrance to the Villa earlier that day. Originally we had said she should return in an hour, then every half hour until I appeared at the gate again but that had been six hours ago. I knew that she would have given up way before now and wondered what she was doing, knowing I was still confined here. Did she imagine I was alive or dead? I came to regret having involved her and her family in all of the drama. I knew it was the last thing she needed then and I had no way to contact her to let her know I was all right.  Soon Jake returned.

“I hope you’re not a light sleeper.” He announced, plopping down on his side of the bed, removing his shirt and trousers. I had not slept with another male since grade school and I felt uncomfortable with the ease Jake displayed while I lay on top of the bedspread fully clothed.  “Why do you suppose we couldn’t have our own room, I mean… you told him I was no longer a suspect, right?”

Jake shrugged and pulled the spread back and bounced in between the sheets.  He pulled off his wristwatch, double checked the time and then placed it on the end table. He pulled a cigarette out of the pack he had lying there and lit it, propping one arm behind his head and laying his head back on it. He took a drag then exhaled, pursing his lips and letting the smoke shoot out with a chuckle that sounded like steam escaping.

“You don’t mind if I open the window, do you? The smoke kinda gets to me.”

Jake shrugged then added, “Just don’t trip the alarm, kid.”

“How ‘bout I leave the screen on?”

“That should do it.”

I walked over and let the right side of the window fully roll out, allowing the tropical breeze to filter in through the untouched screen. There was no couch or easy chair, just the hard backed seat I had been tied to earlier. I walked over to the bed and surveyed the room I had, imagining a center line splitting the mattress in two and Jake’s bulky figure crowding my side.

“Relax, Maryann… you’re not my type.”

“No… it’s not that, it’s just as big as this place is…” I let my voice trail off.

“Why are we sharing a room? I don’t know, kid… there’s some stuff here that don’t add up, I’m sure of that. But I don’t think we look like a mister ‘n’ misses… you catch my drift? It’s probably just an oversight so don’t worry ‘bout it. We’ll be outta here tomorrow.”

“How can you be sure?”

I sit down on the edge like my butt is a toe checking the temperature of swimming pool water, ready to lurch back up should I feel too uncomfortable.

“Look, my department has been working with these Cuban Nationals trying to get a handle on this human trafficking business for some time and if my hunch serves me correctly your friend Keith is our guy.”

“You thought I was your guy a little while ago.”

Jake turns his head giving me the once over. “And who kicked who in the balls?”

“Okay, ya gotta right to be sore.” I kicked off my shoes and carefully lay back on the bed. Jake chuckled, took another drag off his cigarette then flicked the ash off on the floor.

“Besides… it was kinda odd that you showed up.”

Now it was my turn to give him the once over. “Well, I sure as hell did not expect to find you here.”

“What did you expect?”

“I dunno, Jake… since arriving here with Sgt. Garcia I was more or less just letting the spirits move me.” I thought I was being humorous but Jake’s face snapped back at me in disbelief.

“Garcia brought you to the Villa?”

“No, someone else. Why, what’s up?” He turns his head back and relaxes.

“Nothing, fuhgettaboutit.”

“Jake… I’ve been up front with you from the get go…”

Jake Barnes stubs his cigarette out on the half shell ashtray, places it back on the end table then cradles his head with both of massive arms propping his head up off the pillow and exhales a smoke stack shooting up towards the ceiling.

“I probably shouldn’t be tellin’ you this, I don’t know why I am but here goes… remember I told you Robert killed himself trying to protect someone?”

I nodded, watching Jake’s face grow soft, half silhouetted by the table lamp on his side of the bed. I knew why Jake was talking to me. It was the shades, every bit of my interaction with Lord Cristobal had been under their direction, Jake must have felt it, too.

“A year or so ago, Brett and her brother had shared a house together. Nice place, more than I could afford. Anyway, we’ve been workin’ on this human trafficking case, which turns into a kidnaping racket run by some guy with connections in Cuba holding an American couple for ransom. Brett’s the lead detective on it, I’m brought in later as her sidekick. Evidence builds, names and places, appears to be an inside job with someone from our department. Next thing you know… a call comes in that Brett is distraught… threatenin’ to shoot herself, holed up in the house and won’t come out. Robert’s on patrol and rushes over, because it’s his sister, ya know? She lets him in, tells him it’s all over and she’s gonna do herself right there in the kitchen. Robert manages to get close enough and they struggle for the gun. Next thing you know, Robert has his finger on the trigger and the gun goes off. Brett blames herself and spends months getting help trying to cope with the guilt.”

“God, that’s terrible! What about the case, the leads and evidence you had?”

“Case goes cold, evidence gets misplaced or destroyed, Brett loses interest and almost leaves the department. She’s just recently been cleared for duty.”

“So whatever drove her to try and kill herself was never discovered?”

I know I’m pressing Jake into divulging more than he wanted to but I am still at a loss trying to figure out where a suicide ritual fit into Robert Jordan’s death. By all accounts it appeared to be an accident. Even though Brett had initiated a suicide attempt that had been thwarted by her brother’s intervention and fatal shooting. Jake rolled over on his side facing away from me.

“It’s a funny business, kid… law enforcement. New cases come and gain priority, old ones fall by the wayside and cool off. I guess, the original Americans held hostage paid up and didn’t wanna press charges fearing the publicity.  Jordan’s death really shook up the department so we were more than willin’ to let it drop… until recently, that is.”

“Another kidnaping?”

“Yeah, guess the S.O.B. that got away with it once figured it was time to try it again. Crooks rarely do the one time deal then fade off… they become bolder, kinda like a gambler, feelin’ they’ve beat the system once and can do it again.”

“Now you’re on the case as lead dog?”

I was proud to use a phrase I picked up from a T.V. show. I felt like I was a regular cop sharing inside, privileged lingo.  Jake keeps his back to me but turns his head to speak over his shoulder.

“I wouldn’t be layin’ here with your limp dick if I wasn’t!”  Then he turned his head back around and murmured to himself, “At least, it’d friggin’ BETTER be limp.”

And with that he dozed off.

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Bone Island Abattoir / Part 3, The Lowdown on the Highbrow

February 6, 2011

Author’s note: This is the fourth book of The Shades of Hemingway series. While reading this installment, Bone Island Abattoir is complete in itself, it is recommended that the reader search out the beginning of this incredible story…

~

On the opposite side of the large shaded veranda where Lord Cristobal had received me earlier the household staff was setting up a long dining table. Tiki styled lanterns burning on the outside perimeter made scarecrow shadows on the villa’s walls. I had been seated first off the head of the table on one end, Jake approached accompanied by another guard and sat down across from me, leaving the seat at the end open for our “host”. The Key West detective seemed to take the security measures in stride and even thanked the guard for his company. He looked over at me and nodded.

“Some digs, huh?”

And he was right. Though we were settled back into a semi-tropically wooded area, the villa was immaculate in every detail. Even our dining table, with place settings for three, had a spread of utensils that rivaled a five-star restaurant. As I scanned the plates, cups and saucers, along with the knives, forks and spoons a thought occurred to me. I reached out and palmed a short butter knife and eased it down into my lap. Jake witnessed my lame attempt to sneak the instrument without drawing attention to myself and snorted a chuckle to himself. A five inch long butter knife made a poor choice for a weapon, but I found it comforting even though it would be too dull to even cut rope. However, I discovered later that I would have nothing to worry about. Jake and I were drawn to Lord Cristobal’s light steps clicking on the terra cotta tiles which made us both look up to see his approach. Lord Cristobal’s companion, Anselmo, was following close behind.

“Welcome to my table, gentlemen, I trust I did not keep you waiting long?”

“Nope… no, we just sat down ourselves.” Jake was jovial enough.

“How are you, Mr. Fiore? I regret the accommodations earlier were not suitable for your needs…”

“Oh…? Other than being tied to a chair, having to piss out a window, and having guns drawn on me… I’d say the room was swell.” I was attempting to joke.

“Those ropes won’t be necessary any longer,” interrupted Jake, “ I’m satisfied Mr. Fiore is not the suspect I originally thought he was.”

I looked at Jake in mild surprise but he just gave a slight shrug and continued on.

“What I’m really interested in is finding out where Brett Jordan is. I know she’s been here and now I want to know where she has been taken.”

A servant appeared with wine and offered it to Lord Cristobal for his approval as he sat down with us. Lord Cristobal nodded slightly and the steward poured for each of us. Lord Cristobal seemed amused at Jake’s remark.

“Taken, Detective? What makes you think Miss Jordan was taken anywhere, or that she has been here, for that matter? I thought we had discussed this earlier to your satisfaction.” Lord Cristobal raised his glass to us and then began to drink.

“Mr. Fiore recognized her blazer up in the room you so graciously supplied for us while you checked out my story… and his.”

Lord Cristobal turned and gave me a slight nod with a thoughtful smile.
“It seems you know more about the goings on at the Villa Vinales de Eden than I first realized, Mr. Fiore” He drank again, watching me through the glass.

“More than I want to know, sir. But my interests are the same as Detective Barnes, I just want to find Brett and get back to the States.”

“And your friends, the spirits… these shades that you had spoken to me of earlier, they sent you on this admirable quest?”

Jake Barnes looked at me questioningly but I did not take time to explain. I knew that the time for explanations was gone, it was time to lay my cards on the table. Anselmo stood idly by a few feet away so I lowered my voice.

“It is the kyklos tod mene’ that brings me here, sir. The spirits have been disrupted with an innocent death… a forced suicide. You are the babalaos, looked up to by your people and highly respected by the Cuban government. Somehow I believe your influence has been altered or misapplied in the carrying out of your ritual, I can offer no other logical explanation as to why there would be such turmoil in the spirit realm.”

I could sense Jake’s bewilderment at the content of my conversation with Lord Cristobal but he remained mute. As Lord Cristobal pondered a reply his servants appeared with trays of prepared food, allowing the voodoo priest to refrain from speaking momentarily. The first server set his tray down and removed it’s cover. It contained deep-fried pork chunks marinated in Cuban mojo and seasoned grilled onions. Another tray was set before us containing grilled chicken breast marinated in garlic and lemon topped with grilled onions. Smaller bowls were produced filled with moro rice, yuca con mojo, and sweet plantains.

“Please,” Lord Cristobal concluded, “you are my guests. Shall we desist long enough to enjoy the flavors of my country?”

I had to admit that I was more than ready to eat as I managed to slip the butter knife into my pants pocket undetected. Jake enthusiastically indulged himself with large portions of everything. I realized it had been some hours since I had eaten because my stomach leapfrogged and croaked in appreciation. We ate silently except for smidgens of polite conversation. Lord Cristobal did not seem to mind that Jake had called his bluff on Brett Jordans having been there before us.

In fact, he seemed amused by it all, like our inquiry was a game to be played with rules that he made up as we went along. The clues were to be divulged only amidst our own perceptions thus prolonging its outcome. It was as if Lord Cristobal were toying with us for lack of better company, ready to dismiss us when he became bored. I decided to change my tactics, perhaps emboldened by Jake’s clearing me of suspicion or sensing our “host” could turn hostile at any moment and our meal was nearly finished. Anselmo still remained a silent sentry.

“I wonder if you could tell me how one becomes a babalaos when he started off as a ward of Ernest Hemingway? I mean, was this something he directed you in or were there other circumstances?”

I knew Jake would have no bearing on this line of questioning and hoped the built-in “bullshit detector” he bragged of in Brett’s apartment would come into play now. Perhaps Jake’s training as a detective could glean some unintentional clues from Lord Cristobal on Brett’s whereabouts as we politely left him out of the conversation. I thought maybe Jake’s instincts would kick in as I tried to use a more direct approach on Lord Cristobal. Unfortunately, they did not.

“What the Hell is a babalaos?” Jake bellowed..

Lord Cristobal did not bother to look at Jake but addressed me with continued resolve, Anselmo’s interest in Jake seemed acute as he glared at him.

“Did your sources not educate you on this fact?”

“No sir, the shades have informed me that there are some things they can not disclose.”

I looked over at Jake and he had taken his cue to remain silent from Lord Cristobal’s snub. Jake lit a cigarette and listened begrudgingly. Lord Cristobal followed my eyes and gave a tight-lipped smile in Jake’s direction. He then allowed himself to relax and reflect momentarily.
“Very well, and you spoke truly… there are limits to what the shades can divulge, Mr. Fiore. You certainly do have their trust and guidance. Hemingway raised me as a Catholic, a religion he found very convenient.”

“Oh? How so?” I was as casual on the outside as my nerves would allow.

“Because of their proselytizing ways they have had moderate success in Africa and Cuba. It seemed natural that I would adapt to his culture and beliefs.”

“But you did not?”

“As a youth one must follow the hand that guides him, but the ancient faith of my people is strong here in Cuba. My family knew it. That is why they requested Hemingway bring me back with him. I would grow up and respond to the call of Vadou, it is in our blood. I would eventually avenge the death of my father.”

“The accidental death of Tenete’, Papa’s safari guide?”

“He was mauled to death by a lion Hemingway should have killed… would have killed, had he not panicked and jammed his rifle.

“But wasn’t that Tenete’s duty as Papa’s companion, to guide and protect him?”

“Hemingway was an experienced hunter. His lack of a quick response was inexcusable. My father’s death was certainly avoidable and created much hardship on my family.”

“So you became a voodoo priest to avenge your father’s death?”

Jake Barnes shifted noticeably in his seat, uncomfortable in his position as an observer. Quite likely he was not accustomed to someone else leading the questioning and hoped to get a word in, but lacked the understanding to do so. I paused with my last question, surprised at my own aggressive behavior and slowly wondering whether I had over stepped my bounds. But the fact that I had the shades confidence must have carried some weight with Lord Cristobal because he did not show any signs of taking offense.

“I felt the blood of my ancestors in the Vadou traditions of Cuba as a young man. With the teachings of the Catholic church I was an outsider, a convert… a Hemingway progeny. Within the faith of Vadou I was free, I was home. I abandoned Hemingway’s religion and discovered my calling. I discarded the name “Miller” and took the name Cristobal from the Roman Catholic Metropolitan Archdiocese and eventually became babalaos, spiritual guide and priest of the Vadou faithful.”

“You’re sayin’ Brett’s caught up in all this voodoo mumbo jumbo?” It was Jake… unable to contain himself. I corrected him without thinking, forgetting the warning I had received from the shades.

“Not Brett, Jake… Keith, remember I mentioned him earlier? He’s the one that started me in this mess.” I realized my mistake immediately.

Servants appeared to remove our plates and offer a desert consisting of a blend of fruits but Lord Cristobal waved them away. If he had been respectful before he was more direct now, Lord Cristobal had subtle disdain in his tone.

“You know of this man, Keith?” Lord Cristobal gave me a sideways look with a raised eyebrow. Even Anselmo appeared interested as I glanced his way.

“Yes, I do. He is the reason I am here.”

“I thought your reasons coincided with Mr. Barnes, the locating of Brett Jordan?” Lord Cristobal laconically replied.

“If it weren’t for Keith I wouldn’t have ever gone to Key West and come to be in the predicament I am in now.”

Lord Cristobal’s pretense of a genteel host was fading. Jake sensed it and stubbed his cigarette out on a half-shell ashtray while exhaling his last draw of smoke downward and giving me that “caught by the principal” crinkled brow look from across the table.

“If I doubted you before I do not do so now, Mr. Fiore. The shades do guide you, but Papa should have informed you… Keith is no longer a fringe associate of mine. Further more, his involvement with the Cuban government has taken a severe turn for the worse. Keith is losing the assistance of the Castro regime he had due to my influence and no longer enjoys the sanctity of Vadou within my control. I’m afraid any involvement you have with him will compromise my hospitality.” Lord Cristobal rose from the table as if to dismiss us and depart. Anselmo stepped closer and summoned a guard that was watching us further in the shadows. My mind scrambled for any statement I might make to make him reconsider.

“You refer to his holding Americans for ransom here in Cuba, I presume?”

Jake lit another cigarette, the conversation was finally rotating back to a subject he was most keen on. He leaned back in his seat, looked up at our “host” and raised his eyebrows with a questioning expression.

“That was never part of our arrangement,” Lord Cristobal turned to acknowledge Jake then again addressed me. “Keith saw the immigrating of Cubans into the United States as an opportunity to use his connections to ransom Americans and hold them here until their release. Something the Cuban government nor myself had any prior knowledge of. Keith’s actions threatened a budding relationship between our governments.”

“What budding relationship?” Jake Barnes retorted, “The American government has sanctions against this communistic regime. It hasn’t budged in it’s stance in nearly 40 years.”

Lord Cristobal relaxed a little. He waved off the armed guard and spoke a word to his aide, who then retreated back to his original position. The fact that we were intruders in his country, his villa and his dining table was not lost in his decorum, but he remained gracious… a stance that harkened to royalty, where bad manners were no excuse to reciprocate in kind.

“And what of the kyklos tod mene’ and the death of the Key West policeman Robert Jordan?” I inquired, sensing we had softened the voodoo priest. “I’m still not clear how the shades have become involved in his seeming so displaced. Is there someone else who controls the forces of Vadou?”

“I have only used the techniques of the kyklos tod mene’ once since my anointment as babalaos,” Lord Cristobal looked at me solemnly, “against a man I had sworn to cause suffering to, as I and my family had suffered. But that was long ago…”

A cold shiver convulsed through my body with a realization that I had not counted on. Suddenly a solid piece of the puzzle became apparent. Why the shades had become involved with Robert Jordan, the method used to cause his death and the reason they would be interested.

“You mean,” my words seemed to be spoken by someone else, similar to the difficulty you have hearing when you are talking under water, “it was the kyklos tod mene’ that forced Hemingway’s suicide?”

Bone Island Abattoir / Part 2: Which Sides You Are On

January 22, 2011

 Author’s note:  This is the fourth book of The Shades of Hemingway series.  While reading this installment, Bone Island Abattoir is complete in itself, it is recommended that the reader search out the begining of this incredible story…

~

I realize the sun is going down as I am sitting in the dimly lit room still fastened to the chair Jake Barnes has tied me to, but I feel different… aware that I am not alone in the dark. The Key West detective is laid out on the bed smoking a cigarette, the glow of it’s end brightening to illuminate Jake’s face with every drag he takes.

“Have a nice nap?” Jake asks with a little sarcasm in his tone.

“Jake, why am I tied up like this?”

“Because the bastards took my ‘cuffs when they lifted my piece.”

“I mean, why are you holding me? What tangible proof have you got that says I killed anybody, let alone a policeman?”

“You mean aside from resisting arrest?”

“Resisting ? How could’ve I resisted when you never declared the intention of placing me under arrest?”

“I was getting around to it… besides, I like it where I can keep an eye on you at a distance.” Jake’s free hand cups his balls and gives them a slight adjustment, then his arm slides back around to form a headrest.

“Jake, if Brett’s been here then Lord Cristobal must know where she is. Maybe we can help each other find her and then all of us can get the hell out of here.”

“You’re a smooth talker, kid. So go ahead’n talk. Give me one good reason why I should listen to ya.”

“Because I’m innocent! What would be my motive to kill anyone, let alone a cop? I had never laid eyes on Key West prior my first visit there seven weeks ago and I have only just met Brett one day before running into you.”

“Mr. Fiore, wouldn’tcha say it is just a tad bit ironic that twice within one week you turn up as my prime suspect? That twice within one week I’m supposed to meet the guy that killed Patrolman Jordan and then you show up? That twice within one week I’m supposed to find Brett and I run into you instead? “ Jake stubs his cigarette out on the ashtray perched on his stomach then swirls his legs around to sit up while placing it on the end table. “Just a little too coincidental, don’tcha think, Bub? Life is a crappy meal and you’re caught between the bun.”

“This is absurd! I can’t believe you’d be so goddam dumb!”

Jake Barnes shifts his weight to the edge of the bed, his form leaning forward menacingly.

“Easy, kid. We’re still in Cuba, remember? I don’t have to play nice.”

“Yes… you’re right and I’m sorry. The situation has gotten me all discombobulated… caught in this room and being tied up like this. Forget the “dumb” remark I made, Jake. But can’t you at least tell me how is it you are here?”

In the shadows I can see Jake reach over and turn on the table lamp next to the bed. I squint a little, remembering those interrogations performed in all those Sam Spade type black and white movies that made the film noir so recognizable. Jake smiles at my obvious discomfort.

“Thought you had it all figured out, Mr. Fiore.” The Key West detective almost sounded like Peter Lorre.

“Right now I’m not sure of a damn thing except that I’m hungry and I gotta pee. Any chance we could get rid of these ropes if I promise to behave?”

“Where do you think you are, the Ritz? Ain’t no bathroom here… unless you want to hang it out the window.” Jake’s head motions towards the opposite wall.

“Out the window or on the floor… I’d just as soon not wet my pants, if it’s all the same to you.”

Jake stands up and towers over me, almost making me do what I just said I did not want to do.

“Okay, kid… I’m gonna untie ya so you can take your piss out the window, but if ya try anything funny… and I mean anything. If you even shake it more than twice, I’ll have to lay some wood on ya.” Jake raised his big fist and gently placed it under my chin like an upper cut. I could feel a shiver in me timbers.

“Honest to God, Jake. I just wanna take a leak.”

The big man moves behind me and begins untying the rope. As he is working a thought comes to my mind.

“Jake, why did they want your gun? I mean, you’re a cop, right?”

Detective Barnes grunted in disgust as my bonds began to loosen.

“Their friggin’ security, I guess. Patted me down when I arrived.”

I stood up as the ropes were removed. The pressure on my bladder lessened.

“But didn’t you come with Sgt. Garcia?”

“Nope, they met me at the airport and I was brought here by a couple of his flunkies.”

“And then he was supposed to come here and help you find Brett?”

Jake stops and looks at me, the way he had done before back in Brett’s apartment when he thought I was asking too many questions. The peering up over the spectacles once over.

“Look, Mr. Fiore… God help me, I like ya… I really do. If you’re tellin’ the truth… when this thing is over we’ll have a drink down at the Green Parrot on me. Screw it, we’ll get shit faced. We’ll drink a toast to Brett ‘n’ her twin brother for bringin’ two of her former lovers together to charge to the rescue and solve this thing. But in the mean time… do me a favor? Leave the questionin’ to me.”

“Brett’s twin brother?”

“Well now, we don’t know everything, do we? Yep. Bobby was her twin.”

“But you called him her kid brother!”

“A little joke between family members, kid. Brett was born first… three minutes later her fraternal twin brother, Robert, came squirtin’ out.”

“I thought he was a rookie… and yet, she’s a detective? Why the disparity?”

“Brett got into law enforcement right outta college. Robert dropped out and joined the Marines then became an MP. Got out of the service and bummed around for awhile… bicycled across the country. Brett got him to come down to the Keys and the rest, they say… is history.”

“Jake, how did you know Brett was supposed to be in Cuba? What made you come to the Villa Vinales de Eden?”

Jake scratches his head while shaking it side to side, then looks amused.

“Okay… for a bright guy you’re not so smart. We have informants, kid. This one guy we know works in and out of Cuba as an import/exporter. Through out this investigation he has let us in on this ring of smugglers. When Brett turned up missing and you ran off…” He gives me that look again, like I’ve been sat before my grade school principal and caught in a lie.

“Your informant indicated I had something to do with Brett’s disappearance and her brother’s death?” I ask as I move towards the window.

“Naw…this Lord Cristobal character is a business affiliate of our informant. He was supposed to be able to locate her and have her here when I arrived.”

“What about the guy who brought her here?”

“I thought it was you.”

“Jake, I think I know the man you’re looking for. He’s the same guy that got me involved in all this in the first place. He works with this Lord Cristobal character.”

“Yeah? And how’d you get privy to that information?” Jake Barnes raises up one arm and gestures towards the opposite wall, allowing me to pass by him.

I stood before the double window. It was one of those old twin vertical crank out style windows that had the interior screens. I reached up to remove the screen that had a palm tree outline inserted within it’s frame then began twisting the lever that forced one side out. Jake was close at my side. I went for my zipper… then paused.

“I don’t know if I can do this with you watching.”

“Well, sweetheart… there’s no way you’ll be doin’ it without me watchin’ so you’ve got a problem.”

We are up in a second story bedroom looking out of one wing of the Villa Vinales de Eden that does not have an exterior wall guarding the property, only a drainage ditch less than fifty feet away with the tropical forest beyond. I am at least 12 feet off the ground, 15 if you count the window sill. Just as I am about to over come my shyness and begin pulling out Teddy Roosevelt, there is a commotion outside in the courtyard of the villa.

“What’s happening?” I ask, forgetting the task at hand.

“Sonofabitch… pullin’ that screen off must’ve triggered an alarm.”

We can hear the sound of footsteps running and shouting voices approaching the bedroom door. I look at the window frame and sure enough, there is a magnetic switch that must have opened when I removed the screen.

“Get back away from there before…”

But it is too late. Two armed guards burst through the bedroom door only to catch me standing facing the window with Teddy Roosevelt exposed. Jake put his hands up and declares “Don’t shoot! We’re not goin’ anywhere!” But I go ahead and pee like it may be my last act on earth. Within moments more guards appear outside, looking up and pointing their rifles while my urine trail rainbows out into the lawn. I raise my free hand up over my head and wave it slightly.

“Me go numero uno, pour favor…?”

The one called Anselmo that had accompanied Lord Cristobal when I had met him earlier entered after the two guards. I struggled to zip up one handed, keeping my other hand waving free and my head lowered as I slowly turned around. After I had awkwardly finished I let my other hand go up.

“What is the meaning of this?” asked Anselmo.

“Hey, you gotta go… you gotta go. Your boss said to sit tight ‘til we was sent for and there ain’t no john in this room. My buddy had to take a leak so he hung it out the window.” Jake shrugged matter-of-fact allowing his hands to drop down. I left mine raised but relaxed a little. After the initial commotion caused by the busting in of the guards Jake seemed to get his composure back. The Key West detective raised his clenched fists to his hips. “And we don’t appreciate havin’ guns pointin’ at us while we do it!”

Anselmo said something in Spanish to the guards and they lowered their weapons slightly. He motioned with his head towards the door.

“Come downstairs.”

He turned and spoke to one of the guards as we left the window to follow him. The guard crowded past us towards where we had stood, waving off the others below while cranking the window closed and returning the screen to it’s place. The other guard waited until we went out before coming up behind us. The narrow balcony led to a stairway but Jake Barnes stopped before we began our descent.

“You go ahead, kid. I’ll meet ya downstairs.” Jake had found a bathroom at the head of the stairs.

“What’s up?” I asked, taking the first step and turning back, our escort was obviously not pleased with the delay and the guard pausing behind us began to look suspicious.

“You go on ahead, I’ll be right down.” He said to Lord Cristobal’s aide. Then turning to me Jake added. “I gotta go shake the dew off my lily, kid. Those amigos almost scared it right out of me.” And with a wink he entered the small water closet and closed door behind him.

Bone Island Abattoir / Part 1: A Pilar Preamble

January 9, 2011

Author’s note:  This is the fourth book of The Shades of Hemingway series.  While reading this installment, Bone Island Abattoir is complete in itself, it is recommended that the reader search out the begining of this incredible story…

~

It was a perfect dream to be awakening on the Gulf waters, the waves pitching the Pilar in a slight, bobbing loll alternating back and forth as a watery hammock. I could not have imagined a bluer sky devoid of all but a slight willowy wisp of clouds swirling off like over sprung, cotton corkscrews. I was seated in an elevated Windsor styled wooden chair with an enormous fishing rod clutched in my hands. A gruff, familiar voice spoke from behind me.

“Better cinch that belt down tightly there, Sport. You latch onto a black marlin all loosey goosey like that and it’ll pull ya ass over tea kettle right into the drink! …along with that expensive rod and reel of mine!”

I spun around to face the person speaking to me. It was Hem, grinning and pointing a large cigar at me with all the bravado of a salty sea captain. Standing at the wheel was a man I recognized to be Goyo, his expert guide and companion.

“We are going after fish that are big enough to pull me off this boat?” I asked in disbelief, still trying to figure out where my dreams had taken me this time… and why. I was far from the confines of Jake Barnes and the Villa Vinales de Eden.

“Not just any fish, Sport… marlin! Best game fish on the planet! And yep… powerful enough to net ya up and over topside; hook, line and sinker!”

“Hem, I don’t think I’m prepared for this!”

“Relax… all you need do is hook ’em. Pilar and Goyo’ll do the rest!”

Hem came up and helped me tighten the harness that held the fisherman to his seat. He was robust and crusty, wind whipped and sun blown with a canvas billed cap perched atop of his head. The swaying of the Pilar seemed to jostle his mood and sent him sauntering to the ship’s console like a half drunken pirate. Goyo placed his hand to the throttle and eased us forward. I faced our slight wake with morbid trepidation.

“What? Where are we going?” I yelled, startled at the boat’s growling gasoline powered engine slowly trolling us forward.

“There’s a school of shiners off our port side, we’ll try to get around behind ‘em with our backs to the sun.”

“Why?” I shouted. I thought the fish came to us. All of my fishing experience was on a lazy river bank back in the Midwest under a shade tree. The actual act of catching a fish was only secondary to the art of incidentally fishing.

“Marlin like to follow schools of fish but if we don’t position ourselves right the sun will keep him from spottin’ your bait.” Hem spoke as Goyo steered, allowing his voice to be carried back to me by the hollow of the cowl overhead. “We get too close and the fish will scatter. We’ll get your hook behind ‘em and troll for a bit… might get lucky.”

“Where’s the school? I don’t see anything!”

“Look off to your right! See that area of little smatterin’ fish tails breakin’  through the water with them seabirds overhead?”

I turned in the fighting chair, looked to my right and sure enough, there was a span of nearly half a football field filled with minor disturbances just below the surface of the water as white gulls drifting in the updrafts above. No sooner had we placed my bait behind the school of shiners did I get a strike. The reel revved like a small motor and spun out hundreds of feet of fishing line. The marlin vaulted out of the water twisting and turning.

Immediately I panicked. “What’ll I do?”

“Let him run with it!” Shouted Hem as Goyo maneuvered Pilar to circumvent the marlins escape. Instantly the line went limp.

“I lost him!”

“No, you didn’t! I’ll tell you when you’ve lost it! Reel in that line!”

I tugged and pulled while I clasped the reel in my excited fingers, working the line back around the spindle as quickly as I could. Just as Goyo had swung the Pilar around and I had reeled in a mile of fishing line, the marlin bolted once again. The rod lurched forward as the line screamed off the reel.

“Loosen up that drag!” Bellowed the voice behind me.

Next thing I knew Hem was at my side pouring the contents of an iced drink on the fishing line remaining on the reel causing the steam of a miniature Mount St. Helens to erupt. Instinctively I pulled back on the pole that appeared to be on the verge of snapping in two. Time and again I recoiled the line only to have the big fish repeatedly surge lightning fast through the waters pulling hundreds of yards of yarn with it. Seemingly hours of battling the marlin passed and yet the sun hung motionless in the sky, as if Joshua himself had petitioned the God of Israel to make it stand still over the plains of Gibeon. Goyo expertly maneuvered the Pilar anticipating the direction of my catch, allowing him to run unhindered but still well within our control.

“Easy, Sport… let him run! All you can do is out last the big fella.”

It was the marlin’s last surge and somehow Hem knew it.

`“Out last him? What on earth… you mean until he’s tired and gives out?”

“Marlin fight to the end, Sport. It’s not uncommon for them to be dead or dying by the time you’re all through.”

“But why? What is the sense in that?”

“It’s in their spirit, hard to break that in nature.”

I am spinning the line back in now as rapidly as I can. Just as sudden as the fight had begun it seemed to be over. Soon I could see the massive fish coming up towards the surface just off the stern of the Pilar.

“Okay, I’ve caught the fish, now I’d like to let him go.”

“Let him go? After all you’ve put into it? Mount the brute, Sport… this is a day you’ll remember for the rest of your life!”

“I will remember it. I’ll remember coming this close to a leviathan and letting him go back to his world unharmed. He lived there peacefully before I came along and disturbed it.”

“It seems like an incredible opportunity wasted if you ask me… but, if you insist.” Hem took the rod from my hands as I undid the harness that held me in the fighting chair.

“Grab the bill with one hand but be careful … it’s like grabbin’ hold of a cheese grater. Now use that pair of fishing pliers and remove the hook with your free hand.”

Doing as I was told I lean out over the back end of the boat and gently caress the fish. Hem reaches with one hand and latches on to the waistband of my jeans. Effortlessly the hook pops out of the jaw it has lodged into.

“ Hold the bill and push it down so the fish’s entire mouth is underwater.” Hem’s voice is calm and soothing, an abrupt turn from the dismayed and obvious disappointment from just a moment before. “As the boat starts forward, water will run through the mouth and over the gills.”

My face is down, inches away from the gulping marlin. The Pilar’s engine throttles forward and we slowly advance. It is all I can do to contain my excitement. The black marlin seems to be responding.

“You’ll feel the fish comin’ back to life soon. Watch and you’ll see the color start to return to his body. Feel the bill beginnin’ to twitch? The big fella is tellin’ ya that it’s time to let him go.”

Gently I do as I am told and release the massive fish. I watch as it gracefully sinks down and out, then swims off with quiet satisfaction. Hem’s hand clasps down upon my shoulder.

“Well, you’re no Louis Schmidt… but you’ll do in a pinch.”

“Thanks Hem, that was exhilarating!”

“Yep, ya let him get away… to live and fight another day.”

“And what’s the harm in that?” I feel all smug and sure of myself. “If he can be caught once, he can be caught again.”

“Oh, ya thing so?” Hem’s eyes lock onto mine. “Not every decision you’ll make on this trip will be so cut and dry…”

We are left floundering in the water for a moment. Hem reached down and pulled out a machine gun that heralded back to WW II and began polishing it with an oil rag. It appeared more of a caressing than a chore for him but I was surprised at his ease in producing such a weapon.

“A machine gun? I thought this was a fishing boat!”

Hem smiled but did not look up.

“This is a Thompson, Sport. A great equalizer in the field of battle.”

“Are you expecting a fight way out here?” I mocked, “ and do the bad ol’ fishies get to fire back?”

Hem propped the butt of the relic upon the seat and smirked at me.

“Ya never know…”

“How’d you manage to find a gun like that in the first place?”

Hem picked up the weapon and aimed high into the air, placing his eye down the sights like he was following a target. Then he brought the Thompson back down and offered it to me, but I refused it. Hem pulled the machine gun back and returned to polishing it with the oil rag.

“We did a stint during the war, patrolling the coast and the Florida Straits hunting U-boats. This piece has traveled with me halfway ‘round the world… saw the liberation of Paris, among other things.” Hem thoughtfully let his fingers caress the stock and trigger guard. I probably didn’t act all that suitably impressed because the owning and operating of guns never interested me. Instead I look off to one side and spotted land off in the distance.

“What’s that over there… Cuba?”

Hem looks up where I am pointing to as he leans the Thompson back into the corner. Stuffing the oil rag into his back pocket Hem gets off of his perch and moves to the railing of the Pilar.

“Naw… that’s Bone Island, Sport… you’re home away from home.”

“What’s a Bone Island? I’ve never heard of it before…”

“That’s Key West.” Hem drops back in the fighting chair and wipes his brow with a handkerchief.

“Key West? Why did you call it Bone Island?”

“That’s what Ponce de Leon called it when he discovered it back in 1513. Casa Hueso… ‘Isle of Bones.’ “

”I don’t get it.”

Goyo approaches and puts a bottle beer in Hems hands, which Hem uses to cool his forehead with before taking a long, thirsty chug. Finally he wipes his mouth and pulls a stogie from his shirt pocket which Goyo immediately offers a lighted match to. Hem puffs the life back into it and then leans back into the chair.

“Legend has it that when Ponce de Leon arrived on the shores of Key West he found it littered with bones… the skeletal remains of a tribe of Calusa Indians.”

“What happened? They die of a fever or something?”

“No… it is thought that they were chased out of Florida by a rival group of Indians, clear on down through the Keys until the reached the end. Apparently the Calusas made a stand on the beach and were slaughtered then… their bones were left to bleach out in the sun.”

“So Casa Hueso was deserted when Ponce de Leon discovered it?”

“No, and that’s the interesting part. The Calusa Indians were here when ol’ Ponce first showed up and they seemed to get along fine. But when Ponce de Leon came back a few years later they were hostile towards him and tried to turn his ship away. Originally they sent out a few canoes full of Calusa warriors but the Spanish turned them back. The next day the Calusas showed up with about 80 canoes and managed to persuade the Spanish to leave, wounding Ponce de Leon in the process.  The Spanish retreated to Cuba and poor Ponce ended up dying there.”

“What made the Calusas so angry with the Spanish when they seemed to get along so well the first time they met?”

“I dunno.” Hem took another swig of beer and gazed out across the blue Gulf water towards the sliver of land on the horizon. “Maybe the ship’s sailors were going after their women or desecrated the beach where all those bones had been left scattered about. One thing is for certain… they were one tough brood.”

“Why do you say that?’

“Well… the Spaniards were armed with the latest weaponry of their day. The Calusas only had knives and axes made of stone or coral, maybe some spears… possibly bow and arrows. They turned back a group that represented the most powerful nation of that period. It took 200 years to finally relocate the Calusa Indians over to Cuba. I’d say to turn Ponce de Leon on his ear and force him to show his tail feathers and flee took some doing.”

“Casa Hueso… Isle of Bones. Sounds like a bad horror story.”

“Reality is sometimes stranger than fiction, Sport. The abattoir Ponce de Leon found on Key West probably signaled the beginning of the end of world domination for the Spanish.”

“I’d say that is pretty powerful stuff, Hem… what’s an abattoir?”

Hem rose from the chair and downed the last drops of beer then pitched the bottle out towards the water which made a bloop when it dropped in. He clapped and rubbed his hands together as if to remove any grit then wiped them on his shirt. He looked at me and grinned.

“A slaughterhouse, Sport… that’s what an abattoir is. To Ponce de Leon and his men Key West was an abattoir… the end of the line for the Calusa Indians and eventually for him, too. Key West was a friggin’ island slaughterhouse…”

Hem took up the Thompson and began rubbing it with his oil cloth slowly, appreciating every mechanism including the short barrel and wooden stock. He smiled at me as contentedly as a boy with his Christmas BB gun.

“Bone Island abattoir,” I looked to the horizon, “ the beginning of the end…”

Hey! It’s 2011! Scroll Back, Ya Varmints!

January 2, 2011

2011.  A new me and a new you.  WordPress was kind enough to summarize the previous years posting for AMRFP… check it out!

~

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 6,200 times in 2010. That’s about 15 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 51 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 408 posts. There were 162 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 4mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was October 12th with 56 views. The most popular post that day was John Lennon Sat Here….

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were en.wordpress.com, facebook.com, google.com, stumbleupon.com, and WordPress Dashboard.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for socially unacceptable behavior, 27 club conspiracy, 49 bye byes, how to succeed in amway, and advantages of respect.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

John Lennon Sat Here… September 2010
3 comments

2

rude, crude, lewd and socially unacceptable behavior October 2007
8 comments

3

The illegal immigration solution, conclusion… a.k.a Illegal Immigrant for President! (he’ll do the work George Bush won’t) June 2007
9 comments

4

songs to play at your funeral April 2008
16 comments

5

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Lying April 2008
10 comments

~

I’d like to thank WordPress for hosting such a cool site which in turn enables a writer’s whimsy to see daylight on the Internet and finds audiences such as you whom I otherwise might not have met!  (Hey! a little rhyme there!)

So from the bottom of my heart to the top of the apple cart…(I can’t help it)  thanks for reading!  I look forward to adding future posts in 2011 here at Advantages of Mutual Respect and Fair Play. 

There really are… you know.

Peace.

2011 – The Bell Tolled 50 Years Ago

December 31, 2010

Okay. I’ve started, stopped, (paused) started, stopped and started again. Now for the pay-off. I began Shades of Hemingway several years ago and then wrote two sequels and promised a third. After some delays… here it is.

Almost.

Before I commit the next few months to putting the final chapters online I wanted to do a recap.  So, if you are new here and don’t want to review the archives… cool, the recap may suffice.  If you came on board from the beginning… cool, the recap will refresh your memory.  If you came on board from the beginning and remember the story and its sequels… cool.  Tune in next time for the concluding chapters.

2011 marks the 50th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s death.  While Shades of Hemingway, Medium Exposure and Deja’ Voodoo are works of fiction I tried to remain true to the image of the man.   I hope you will agree that these stories all or in part convey the spirit of one of America’s greatest authors.

~ 

Summoned by The Shades of Hemingway; Chris Fiore, a tourist in the Florida Keys, turns amateur sleuth as he sets out to expose the killer of a Key West policeman. Drawn into Cuba by an ancient voodoo ritual that eventually links to Ernest Hemingway’s past, will the bell toll for Chris as well?
 

While vacationing with friends, Chris meets the shades of Hemingway in Key West.  Originally enticed by Hem who wants to be Chris’ ghostwriter for a supposed Hemingway revival, he is later recruited to expose the killer of Robert Jordan.  Chris is continually visited by each of the shades at different intervals of his quest to help guide and encourage him.  Eventually he goes to Cuba to rescue Brett Jordan and learns of his friend Keith’s involvement in human trafficking.
 
 
 Excerpt from the story…*

“You’ll have some big shoes to fill usin’ that, Sport. I wonder if you’re up to the task?”

I looked up to the entrance to the study, and only then did I see another door off in the corner leading to a small bathroom. In the open door, a man of about 40 stood there, drying his hands on a towel. He was dark haired, mustached and stocky wearing a silky-looking bathrobe over pajamas and dark leather slippers. He smiled at me as I gulped down my wildly beating heart.

“I’m sorry,” I stammered, then hopefully asked, “are you part of the tour?”

The man laughed; a hearty, belly shaking laugh. “Part of the tour, you ask? Why, Sport, I AM the tour!”

I was at least ten feet from the entrance to the carriage house study, but I bounded out the door in two steps. Down the iron staircase I stumbled, and out into the back yard I ran like a scalded dog. Only after taking several steps did I realize I was not being chased. I stopped to turn around and looked back at the doorway leading to Hemingway’s chambers.

There was no one there.*

~

HEM, Hemingway at middle age and the most predominant of the shades.

Hem originally contacts Chris and sets him out on his adventure. Hem has all the vitality and vigor of Ernest Hemingway at the prime of his life and celebrity. He is the most ambitious and has the strongest influence of the three shades. Hem is the adventurer and the catalyst behind Chris’ search.

PAPA, Hemingway in his later years.

Papa is the more reflective and subdued of the three shades. He is the voice of reason and appears to reassure Chris during times of difficulty or to impart wisdom.

~

Excerpt from the story…*

“I dreamt again last night, Papa. I dreamt I was back at Sloppy Joe’s with Hem and he was telling me I had to expose Officer Jordan’s killer.”

“Yes, I know, Chris. Jordan’s spirit is in a state of flux, caught between the living and the dead. Your arrival came at an opportune time, giving him a chance to rest in peace.”

“But doesn’t he know who did it? Wouldn’t it be simpler just to have him appear before the authorities and tell them?”

“Simpler, yes, but not possible… that ability is sort of ‘out of bounds’ for us.”

“Why not? He knows who did him in, doesn’t he?”

“Yes, he does. But we are not empowered to speak about certain things.” *

~

RING LARDNER, JR., the youngest Hemingway.

Ring is the unblemished and moral one, the idealistic teenaged Hemingway who went to war. He has the strength and virtue of character that Chris needs when his own courage fails him.

~

Excerpt from the story…*

Ring looks over at me. His eyes seem vacant and lost, he is a young man far from home having just witnessed first hand the spectacle and barbarian tactics of war. But his voice is strong. He calls to me.

“Wake up, Chris.”

“What? I am awake!”

“No, Chris… you’re not. Wake up this instant.”

“I’m awake! Ring; I see you, I can hear you… my eyes are wide open! The guy next to me needs a cigarette!”

I look back over at “the smoker” but he is flat on his back and out of it. I look back at Ring and shrug.

“She is still alive, Chris. She is still alive and she needs your help. Wake up, Chris… rescue her. You’re not too late…”

I turn away from Ring Lardner, Jr. and look up and down at the rows of hospital beds. Now they are all empty, even “the smoker’s” bed is vacant. My mind is racing. I can sense my body detaching, a booster rocket falling away into space… am I dying?*

~

KEITH, Chris’ friend who turns out to be the manipulative villain.

Keith is the reason Chris originally goes to Key West. On the surface, Keith is a happy-go-lucky guy with an import/export business. In reality, Keith is involved with human trafficking and becomes Chris’ adversary.

BRETT JORDAN, a Key West detective, is the former wife of Jake Barnes and the sister of Robert Jordan. Brett is unaware that she is a spirit medium for her dead brother and when she disappears, Chris’ infatuation with Brett leads him to Cuba in an attempt to rescue her.

JAKE BARNES, a Key West detective and Brett’s former husband. Jake has been investigating the smuggling of Cuban refugees into the Florida Keys in co-operation with the Cuban government. Keith’s kidnaping of rich Americans and holding them for ransom in Cuba has further strained the relations between the authorities. Jake eventually becomes Chris’ ally.

NATY REVUELTA, a Cuban refugee who has returned to Cuba to assist in the raising of her dead sister’s children. Naty’s family finds Chris after he has been beaten and left for dead shortly after his arrival in Cuba. Naty and her sister had a conflicting relationship with Keith, which led to her sister’s suicide.

ROBERT JORDAN, Key West policeman who is killed in his rookie year. He is the younger brother of Brett Jordan. His death has disrupted the spirit realm and causes the shades to recruit Chris to expose his killer.

“MANOLO” SGT. GARCIA, Cuban policeman who has been working with Jake Barnes. He takes Chris to Cuba when Brett turns up missing.

LORD CRISTOBAL, Cuban voodoo priest who has ties with Keith’s import/export business. Keith has used his connections with Lord Cristobal to expand into the ransoming of Americans.

LAURA, Keith’s wife. She is friends with Rachel and accompanies Keith when he invites Chris and Rachel to go to the Keys. Laura is unaware of Keith’s illegal activities.

RACHEL, Chris’ girlfriend in the first book. Rachel and Laura have a professional relationship which encouraged the friendship between Chris and Keith.

~

Excerpt from the story…*

“Let me get this straight. You say all that talk about me writing for you and making the world remember you and keeping the Hemingway name relevant was just a ruse?’

Hem is more interested in the women, he doesn’t bother to address me directly but is smiling and encouraging them. “In a manner of speaking, yes. Jordan needs you now, more than we do.”

“I know nothing about Officer Jordan other than he was killed in the line of duty.”

“And that is precisely the point. Jordan needs to have his killer brought to justice.”

Now it begins to sink in.

“Wait a minute! You want me to find whoever is responsible for Jordan’s death? I’m no detective!”

Hem abruptly dismisses the women who in turn look at me with dejected contempt. Hem reaches for his shot glass, downs its contents with a single gulp, then returns it in favor of a tall beer chaser, which he thirstily swigs until it is half empty. The phantom bartender instantly appears to refill the shot glass and replenish the beer. Hem pauses for a moment, fingers the little condensation ring formed by the beer glass then again faces me.

“You don’t understand, Sport. We don’t want you to find Jordan’s killer, we want you to expose Jordan’s killer. *

~

There are four books in the series:

In Shades of Hemingway, Chris and Rachel go with Keith and Laura to Key West where Chris first meets Hem, Papa and Ring Lardner, Jr. Hem convinces Chris that the shades need him to act as a ghostwriter in order to represent them for a Hemingway revival, so initially Chris agrees. Chris meets Key West policeman, Robert Jordan, who directs him to the Green Parrot as an “off the beaten path” local bar. While there, Chris gains the attention of several shady characters but remains unaffected by their presence. Later, discovering a conflict between the shades, Chris decides fame and fortune is not worth compromising his principles for and rejects Hem’s offer to make him a writer. Chris returns an artifact he “borrowed” from the Hemingway Estate, thinking that would rid him of the shades. Unfortunately, Chris is caught, put in jail, but then released when he agrees to stay away from the Estate and return for a court appearance. It is while he is leaving the jail with his friends that Chris discovers Robert Jordan was actually a ghost.

In Medium Exposure, Chris returns alone for his court appearance, after breaking up with Rachel. He finds out that the men who saw him in the Green Parrot Bar are Cuban policemen assisting Jake Barnes in a human trafficking case. Chris meets Papa who warns him of the kyklos tod mene and that his own death is possible. Chris goes to another bar, the Golden Earring, and sees Brett for the first time. The next day, following an accidental meeting with Brett at the courthouse, Chris is kidnaped when he tries to leave Key West. After being dumped off on the causeway that connects the Florida Keys, Chris is picked up by Brett who reveals herself to be a Key West detective. Eventually Brett takes Chris back to her apartment and seduces him. The next day, Chris awakes to find that Brett is gone. Jake appears and declares himself her husband. Jake questions Chris on Brett’s whereabouts. Chris discovers that Brett is Robert Jordan’s sister. Sensing he is about to be arrested again, Chris flees only to meet up with Sgt. Garcia. Sgt. Garcia assures Chris he knows where Brett is, that she is in danger and he can lead Chris to her. Caught between being arrested by Jake or trusting Garcia, Chris leaves for Cuba.

In Deja’ Voodoo, Chris arrives in Cuba and ditches Sgt. Garcia. At a local bar, Chris meets Hem, who tells Chris to look up Lord Cristobal. When the bartender learns of Chris’ desire, a ride is arranged. The driver, thinking Chris is a rich tourist, tries to rob Chris then beats him, leaving him for dead. Chris is then found by the family of Naty Revuelta. Ring Lardner, Jr. appears while Chris seems to be fading off. Ring reminds Chris that he is there to find Brett. Because of his desire for Brett, Chris pulls through. The Revuelta family nurses Chris back to health. Naty turns out to be a refugee who has returned to Cuba from the U.S. to help raise her dead sister’s children. Later Chris learns of Naty’s former relationship with Keith which resulted in her sister’s suicide. Chris goes to Lord Cristobal to learn of the possible connection between Keith and Brett. Waiting for Chris at the Villa Vinales de Eden is Jake Barnes who takes him into “custody”.

 ~

And finally begins… 

 

Bone Island Abattoir.

~

I hope you will enjoy and Happy New Year.

Peace. 

 

 

A Walk With Ernest

February 13, 2010

Two Cents Worth in the Nickel City*
A Walk With Ernest

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Saturday, May 2nd, my beautiful girl and I went walking downtown.  It was in support of Promenade de Jane, Jane’s Walk.  When we heard of the exercise, we heartily agreed that it would not only be interesting and educational, but a good excuse to take in some fresh, Spring air.

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From the website, janeswalk.com: “Jane’s Walk honours the legacy and ideas of urban activist and writer Jane Jacobs who championed the interests of local residents and pedestrians over a car-centered approach to planning. Jane’s Walk helps knit people together into a strong and resourceful community, instilling belonging and encouraging civic leadership.”

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We enthusiastically showed up early and met our guide, Oryst Sawchuk, who occupies the Chair of the City of Greater Sudbury Municipal Heritage Committee.  There was one particular piece of history I was interested in, the Nickel Range Hotel.  Mr. Sawchuk pointed out the hotel’s one time location, just across the street from where we were meeting at the Market Square.  It is a parking lot now.

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Ernest Hemingway, the American author, had visited Sudbury back in 1923 as a reporter for the Toronto Star, covering a newly discovered coal mine. While doing his research, Hemingway had stayed at the Nickel Range Hotel.  Oryst Sawchuk pointed out that at the time, the Nickel Range’s six stories were considered to be skyscraper height and the Nickel Range Hotel included the area’s first elevator.  The second floor of the hotel had an elegant ballroom and it was at this very site that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth stayed during their visit in 1939.

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I strained my brain trying to imagine what it must have been like for Hemingway, who described the “red bricked buildings of Sudbury” after his visit. He had to have noticed the Sterling Standard Bank positioned next door to the hotel and might have even done business there.  The Grand Theatre was just down the street, perhaps he strolled by one evening, killing time as writers often do.  No doubt he passed the Balmoral Hotel on his way to the post office at the corner of Elm and Durham Street.  Maybe just before entering the huge structure, he noticed the Ste-Anne-des-Pins rectory.  I imagined Hemingway as impressed with the post office’s clock tower and architectural magnificence as I was Saturday looking at its picture on a dedication plaque, the site of yet another parking lot.  I found myself wondering why we allow those pieces of history to vanish while suffering the future’s progressive  regression.  Are we really better off without them?

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Ernest Hemingway went back  to Toronto without a story, the coal mine turning out to be a scam.  Eventually, Ernest and Hadley Hemingway took their newborn son, John, and returned to Paris, France.  There, young Ernest became a published writer of short stories and poetry, struggling to find himself as the innovating author he eventually became.

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I think Hemingway would be surprised at downtown Sudbury today.  Some of the red brick buildings are still standing, but their collective soul has departed.

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Sadly for them, the bell tolled long ago…

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*Author’s note:  This is the last article written for Two Cents Worth in the Nickel City, my unceremoniously rejected series suggested to the local newspaper from 2009.  For more information on Jane’s Walk visit www.janeswalk.net

peace.

Introducing George Clooney as Ernest Hemingway

January 23, 2010

I was once asked if as I wrote my Shades of Hemingway series had I a mental picture the actors I would want to have play the characters therein.  I half way joked that I’d like to have Leonardo DiCaprio play me but I hadn’t really thought about who would play the others.  That is until now…

Last night I watched the Help For Haiti NowDefault.asp broadcast and as soon as I saw George Clooney begin his introduction I thought, “He’s the one!  He is the one I’d select to play “Hem” in the stories I have written about encountering Ernest Hemingway’s ghost and the adventure that followed.”  So while I admit it isn’t like Margaret Mitchell picturing Clark Gable as Rhett Butler while writing Gone With The Wind, it intrigued me to make up a list of actors to play the parts of the major characters in all four books, i.e.:  Shades of Hemingway, Medium Exposure, Deja’ Voodoo and the latest; Bone Island Abattoir (which hasn’t been published here yet, but it’s coming!)  To read any of the afore mentioned stories, search the AMRFP archives under “Hemingway”.

So, as I said earlier…  Leonardo DiCaprio nm0000138   would be cast as “Christian Fiore”, a.k.a. “Chris”.  Leo has an incredible range as an actor.  He could carry the emotional uncertainty of the hero plunged into an adventure he had not been ready for. 

George Clooney nm0000123   would play “Hem”, Ernest Hemingway’s 40-year-old apparition.  Hemingway’s creativity and popularity was at its peak when he reached this age.  Ernest Hemingway was as celebrated as any American author, but was also an avid outdoorsman and ladies man.  George Clooney personifies the Ernest Hemingway mystic; masculine, complex and intriguing.  George could portray the impish, good-humored “Hem” with authentic relish.

I think that Harrison Ford nm0000148   would make a remarkable “Papa” Hemingway.  Cast against type would put Harrison’s full range as an actor to the greatest test.  Could he be the 60-year-old reflective ghost that struggles against the machinations of “Hem”, the strongest of the three Hemingway personalities?  I think so.  Harrison Ford’s presence would lend an inner strength and melancholy to the great man who aides “Christian” on his quest.

“Ring Lardner, Jr.” is the spirit of a 20-year-old Hemingway jolted by the grim realities of war.  Though he is the weakest of the shades, he plays a vital part in encouraging “Christian” to face the dangers that lie in store for him.  Robert Pattinson nm1500155    could easily sink his teeth into this role.

For the character of “Keith” I had to think of a guy that could be both likable, warm and charming to begin with but beneath the surface hides a cold, calculated killer.  For this atypical bad guy I thought of Jeremy Piven nm0005315    He has the ability to be the best buddy and yet smoulder as someone sinister.

Megan Fox nm1083271   would be my choice to play “Brett Jordan”.  She could be a strong police detective that is sexually assertive but also vulnerable to the influences of the kyklos tod mene.  It would be a cinch to have “Christian Fiore” become enthralled with her.

Joshua Jackson nm0005045   would be perfect for “Robert Jordan”, the rookie cop and “Brett Jordan’s” kid brother.  He has the quiet fortitude that embodies this lost soul.

For Key West Detective “Jake Barnes” I had to look no further than the morning show, Canada AM and Jeff Hutcheson. 20090828?s_name=AM  Seen every day as Canada’s top weatherman, Jeff is the perfect character to play “Christian Fiore’s” gregarious on again, off again side kick.  I don’t know of any acting credentials for Jeff, but his clever delivery and robust personality would be a natural fit.  Jeff reminds me of the big brother everybody imagines they’d like to have.

I think I’d like to see Jennifer Lopez nm0000182   as “Naty Revuelta”.  I realize that the character is of a mixed Cuban/American descent, but I think Jen could pull it off.  She could play the part of a heroine that not only inspires but rescues “Chris”.  Ultimately “Chris” falls in love with this latino beauty and I don’t think that is too far-fetched.   Jennifer is looking for a role to lead her back as a credible actress and I think this one could do it for her.  It doesn’t hurt that Lopez co-starred with George Clooney in the movie, Out of Sight.  If not Jennifer, I’d like Eva Mendez nm0578949   for sure.  It may be possible to place both in there because of Naty’s sister, Rosetta.  Though not a big part, either actress could make it memorable.

 Next comes “Manolo a.k.a. Sgt. Garcia.”  I enjoyed Michael Pena nm0671567   as “Daniel” in the movie, Crash.  I think he could easily come off as the good guy Cuban police officer who is secretly in cahoots with the villain(s) of The Shades of Hemingway.  Also Andy Garcia nm0000412  would be a good choice, he might even double as director.

Last but not least of my casting call would be Benicio Del Toro nm0001125   as “Lord Cristobal”.  I could see him as the manipulator having been out maneuvered by a conniving former ally.  He has a strong though restrained persona that would play well as a man lost in his own evil practices.

Of course, I realize this is just a dream cast that would no doubt cost a jillion dollars and I wish there was a way I could squeeze Tom Hanks nm0000158   into a cameo, but the next best thing would be to call on Ron Howard nm0000165   to direct.  After all, The Shades of Hemingway series does have a happy ending… or does it?  If it doesn’t, maybe we should use Martin Scorsese nm0000217 .   Clint Eastwood nm0000142  might be a good choice, too.  What do you think?

Look for Shades of Hemingway, Bone Island Abattoir to appear here soon.

P.S.  All images appeared in the Internet Movie Database except for Jeff Hutcheson who came courtesy of the Canada AM home page.

peace.

To thine own self be Trudeau

September 7, 2009

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My wife and I watched Blazing Saddles a few nights back, the Mel Brooks classic.  She has decided that one way to understand her American husband better is to review his entire DVD collection alphabetically.  The next night we saw Bite the Bullet with Gene Hackman, another western albeit not a comedy but you get the connection.  Anyway, I remarked to BB after we watched Saddles that the movie would not be made today due to how sensitive we have become with being offensive towards any racial, social, ethnic, pantheistic, hedonistic or humanistic group, which rules out quite a few possibilities for good comedy, in my opinion.  I thought about this for a while and pondered how far we have come in this enlightened society of ours.  I remembered some of Lewis Grizzard’s comments on the Thought Police of 1984 (some 25 odd years ago), thinking he was uncanny in his prediction of our future .  We have succumbed to rubbing out individualism and the free expression of an open mind for fear it may be offensive.

I read recently over in England they are in the process of cleaning up the Queen’s English by removing certain expressions from our lexicon.  It is no longer acceptable to say, for example: “It’ll be a black day for…” or ” A dark cloud hung over…” because these words, black… dark…, might relate to a certain minority that may find them offensive.  Fortunately for us we can still be “… in a blue mood…” or “…be green with envy…” because those colors don’t exist in people.  We may still have “…our golden moment…”  “…turn yellow…” “…drive a lemon…” or “…be aglow with saffron…” with no direct affiliation to Orientals, fruit pickers, Ra and/or the Egyptian sun worshipers… yet.  We might even be “…in the pink…” though the latter expression hasn’t been fully approved by the Caucasian Society of Corrective English Speaking Rosy Red Assholes, but their decision is pending.  The article I was reading even declared that there was opposition to the word, “moist”.

Immediately I thought of Duncan Hines Cake Mix.

A few years ago, Duncan Hines proclaimed their cake moist as opposed to being dry.  Nobody wants a wet cake, but a moist one?   Well, that is to be most desirable and they displayed the fork pressing the spongy content to prove it wasn’t cardboard.  How could that word hardly be offensive?  Have we lost the essence of the old declaration, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me!” that we used so eloquently in our defense throughout grade school?  Are words really that harmful?  Can it be so that “moist” is truly subversive and needs to be rooted out of our conscience minds and forever banned from our parched lips?  I… for one, say no.

I have this big, thick research book; The Random House Dictionary of the English Language – Copyright 1969 (which hasn’t been altered to comply with New Age thinking) and it defines moist as: adj. 1. moderately or slightly wet; damp.  2. (of the eyes) tearful  3.  accompanied by or connected with liquid or moisture.  Nowhere in that definition do I find it as intended to be offensive.  Which leads me back to Lewis Grizzard.

A popular humorist with a column in the Atlanta Journal, Lewis Grizzard had the ability to make people laugh with him or at him and themselves by telling the thinking public we are taking this life way too seriously for our own good.  Lewis was a southerner and by some opinions; a redneck.  Though an educated man and fairly successful in his day, Grizzard defended his heritage with pride but with malice towards none.  He understood prejudice, having been raised in the Deep South and found most of his detractors decrying the fact that he was non-apologetic for what he considered his good fortune to be “… southern by the grace of God.”  In his book, I Haven’t Understood Anything Since 1962, he stated our society was heading towards a time when expression would be stifled by the ever invasive “thought police”.   Back then (early 90’s) his prediction was founded in subtle humour, today it is commonplace for people to be offended by words that need to be stricken from the mouths and printed pages of our enlightened societies terminology.  Which brings me to that great Canadian, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

I’ll admit that Canadian politics still baffle me, but there is one thing that has been affirmed in my mind.  Outside of Wayne Gretzky, Neil Young or Alex Trebek; no other Canadian comes close in representing the independent, Canadian spirit better than Trudeau.  Why?  History paints him as a maverick riding in a see-sawing playground of popularity amongst his countrymen.  Trudeau was not a puppet politician who succumbed to the whims of Parliament and/or the White House.  To the best of his ability, he did what was right for Canada.

Trudeau was the first head of state to meet with John and Yoko when they set out on their effort to join political dignitaries together for world peace, lending credibility to John and Yoko’s quest.  Trudeau represented a lessening of government and a more independent role of leadership in the free world as a commonwealth nation.  He was both widely popular and harshly criticized, but even through the fickle polls of public opinion he never compromised.  When asked how he was going to deal with certain political hot potatoes, he’d reply, “Just watch me.”

Jesse Winchester declared him, “the poor man’s friend” because of his seemingly neutral stance on the Vietnam War.  Thousands of draft evaders (including Winchester himself) fled to Canada during those years of conflict, yet Trudeau would not bow to political pressure from the U.S. to turn them away.  While not encouraging them to do so, his view of allowing these “immigrants” to move freely across Canada’s border gained him the unique status of a “people’s hero” in favor of the stuffed shirts of the old political regime. 

Pierre Elliott Trudeau even adopted the dual national language of French/English and would embrace both as Canada’s rightful heritage.  He did not seek to change those official languages to fit a mold or mindset, but united his country equally under them.  Would this be offensive today?  Only to the closed minded.

Unfortunately, there are some who feel threatened and/or exposed by certain terms or the usage of words that are unflattering, so they think if these are done away with prejudice will cease.  But you cannot censor thoughts or feelings with the deletion of expression, because if you try to do so… where does it end?  There is no language on earth more expressive than the English language as it continually evolves ever larger in content.  I say, don’t suppress it… 

I read recently that because one Canadian family head found the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, offensive it was being removed from the school’s curriculum, despite being a Pulitzer prize winning work.  So countless readers will be sheilded from this piece of classic American literature.  Ernest Hemingway’s work is being called into question and I wonder if Mark Twain could be next.  When we start censoring words, we shut down the free will to express and in turn foster resentment towards those who champion the ability to choose.

Last night my fair Chantal and I sat down to watch a black and white classic from 1938, Bringing Up Baby.  Early into the film, Cary Grant’s character was informed that a large private grant was being offered to the university to aid in his research as a paleontologist.  When told he’d be meeting a lawyer representing the party who was very favorable to placing the grant in their institution, he  commented, “Why, that’s very white of him!” 

If today’s thought police had their way, no doubt this film would have been nixed, too.

Don’t let them do your thinking for you.

peace.

Where Have All the Flowery Posts Gone?

May 23, 2009

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Okay, dang… just when I get to thinking I am a serious blog hack, someone comes along and declares I need reform.  Perhaps it is time for an overhaul, after all… this month marks three years of AMRFP!

In the past three years we have talked about politics, love, religion, music, books, and movies.  There has been social injustice, chaos  and anarchy.   We seem to teeter on the brink of disaster yet all in good humor and forced optimism because… what else is there?  We obviously cannot pack up our things and relocate to another planet because no one would have us.  We know we are the root problem and reason for disunity in the world but we cannot seem to eradicate this self-destructive urge.  We are constantly bombarded with information, yet how can we decipher it, knowing which is accurate and which is merely bunk?  Here’s another controversy…

arctic-non-warming-since-1958

My life has turned dramatically since I first fostered this blog on a whim three years ago.  I set out to discover if there was any use in my attempting to write, wondering if I  “had the goods”.  I found my audience to be somewhat sporadic and the subjects I held near and dear to my heart less popular than the ones I thought to be frivolous, so therein lies the paradox.  What I enjoy writing may not be what I am good at, what I am good at may be drudgery.

My most popular post to date has been;  Songs to Play at Your Funeral from April, 2008, which I wrote based on what had actually transpired between my business partner and I one day during a light conversation on death.  It has garnished twice the hits of the runner up;  The Illegal Immigration Solution Conclusion, from June, 2007.  While the latter post has had twice the exposure it has fostered less activity.  I have posted poetry, short stories, a screenplay and the rough draft of my story, Shades of Hemingway. I have progressed (slowly) in my ability to add pictures and video (thanks YouTube) to my posts while trying not to use them in place of good (?) writing.  And after three years, 340 posts, 333 tags, 96 categories, 1004 comments, 37,045 hits and 28,496 spam I am virtually right back where I started from, questioning my validity as a writer.

There has been one bright spot.  Actually, the greatest reward I can think of has come on to me while doing this experiment.  Like most things that we find to make life worthwhile it came unexpectedly, yet has been the difference between merely existing and living.  She sits at my side right now, not realizing I am writing about her.  My beautiful wife, Chantal.

I have proven myself by winning her attention,  admiration and love.  She has faith in my ability and confidence that one day, the world will see what she sees in me, though that confidence in myself wanes and falters.  Through our love of writing; whether via our blogs, to each other publicly or privately, or in our imaginations,  we have accomplished something that would not have materialized otherwise.  We have become each others hero and fan club.  We have become kindred spirits.  Chantal and I are glorious.  I have not failed as a writer, I have acquired a following of one, as she has found in me.

I am living in Canada now, which is quite the contrast from spending most of my life in Florida.  The economy has put a strain on my ability to make a living through my trade and I am still struggling to adapt to life as a foreigner.  But my beautiful girl has the utmost confidence in me so that is a hurdle I will easily overcome with patience.  I am learning to accept that I cannot always have things my way.  But I need to concentrate on making a living and right now it does not look like writing is the way of prosperity for me, at least not financially.

I started this blog in May of 2006 not sure of where it would go, how I would do or how long it would last.  But I feel it has served it’s purpose, at least for a while.  The archives will remain and comments will still be directed to me via e-mail, but I plan on taking a little hiatus.

This month, May 2009, is heading towards being my most active month ever, with seven days left it will easily accomplish this.   The second most active month was back in November of 2007.

I’d like to think that on that note, it is a good time to bow out gracefully.

Thanks for reading  Advantages of Mutual Respect and Fair Play…

there definitely are,  you know.

peace.