Saturday, October 27, 2012


Timothy Stelly


 With the return to climate normalcy came signs of the seasons. Spring brought mild rain and blossoms toLakeConsuela, whose placid waters glittered like polished turquoise. The rebirth of the area featured emerald hillsides, fields thick with tall grass and flowers, and on a light breeze rode the scent of lilac and cherry blossoms. The meadows were alive with an assortment of wildlife, from acrobatic butterflies and frolicking rabbits to squirrels and deer. Silver-bodied fish made the lake their circus, breaking the surface as the red sun shimmered on the water.
Daron Turner sat atop his bench-style tackle box, hidden among the thick tulles, where he hoped neither prying eyes nor time could find him. In his scarred hands was his spinner style reel, and at his side was a coffee can half-filled with squirming night crawlers. To his left was a thermos of coffee, his .32 caliber handgun, and a fluorescent green stringer which he hoped would soon be heavy with the fat catfish and black bass that performed their ballet in the deep.
The warmth of the sun had yet to settle in Daron’s bones, which crackled as he got comfortable. As of late he’d been sluggish and on this morning found it more difficult than usual to keep his eyes open and fixed on the red and white bobber floating atop the rippled water. While he desired to yawn, none came, and even several sips of the coffee failed to jumpstart him. His eyelids grew heavier and his view of the world became like frames of film jammed in a projector; the scene before him unfolded in short, choppy bursts. He didn’t hear Imani, a woman he loved like a daughter, as she made her way along the recently established path.
“I toldReginaI would find you on this side of the lake,” she said, panting. “Trying to take advantage of the shadows?”
The water off the lake blew against her sand-colored skin, and she squinted her large, chocolate eyes. Her hair now flecked with streaks of gray, nearly reached her waist. She stepped closer, which caused the dry twigs to break under her footfalls. Imani set her pole and tackle box next to his.
 “I know, keep it down, I might scare the fish,” she said, with a titter. “That still doesn’t give you the reason to shine me on.”
* * *
Reginapulled her robe over her T-shirt and sweats and eased down onto the top step of the porch. She took a sip from a cup of steaming, jet-black coffee and, no sooner had the first swallow gone down when, a scream in the distance drew her attention. Regina’s eyes narrowed as she looked in the direction Imani had taken. Hardly ten minutes had passed since the younger woman took off to join Daron.
WhenReginasaw Imani tearing up the path without her gear, she dropped her cup onto the porch where it shattered. She screamed for Adam, who came to the door shirtless and red-eyed.
“Ma, what’s the matter?”
He watched asReginawent down the steps and pushed herself toward Imani as fast as her fifty-year-old legs would carry her. Adam’s heart thundered in his chest as he descended the steps two at a time and ran after his mother.
As the women drew closer,Reginacould see the mist and the sorrow in Imani’s eyes. There was no explanation required; hearing one would only destroy the granules of hope thatReginaheld fast to. Adam sped past his mother without stopping to ask Imani what was wrong.
Imani fell intoRegina’s arms. “I-I … must’ve been talking to him two or three minutes before I realized … Oh, my God … he was smiling with his eyes closed …”
Imani turned and allowedReginato put her weight on her as they made their way back toward the lake. They looked on as a barefoot Adam reached Daron first. He stood several feet away and looked at the lifeless, but erect body of his father. Daron’s fishing cap was in place and his fingers were wrapped around the pole as if he’d been anticipating a strike.
Adam felt as if he’d been struck unexpectedly in the solar plexus and, after a half-minute or so, he could breathe again. His second wind came with relief, like cool waters washing over him. Since Daron had returned from Ascención, burned and with his movement limited by pain and taut, webbed skin, Adam realized his father’s days for the world weren’t long.
He recalled the sorrow that weighed on him as Daron performed the simplest tasks with difficulty, albeit with all the pride one could expect from a feisty fifty-four year-old who had ‘been something’ in his day and had crammed two lifetimes into one.
Over time the scarring on Daron’s legs became infected and for the past month there were days when it was hard for him to get out of bed—let alone walk. Perez, the man who had brought Daron fromAlbuquerqueback toLakeConsuela, applied several homeopathic remedies that eased the pain, but the curative effect was negligible.
Since that return, Perez had become a member of their extended family, as did the Barfields—Jeb and Darlene—a middle-aged couple with a nineteen-year-old son, Beau. The Barfields had come in from the cold after a two-year north to south excursion, from centralCanadato the American west. They were welcomed, even though for Adam it reminded him of a passage he’d read in Daron’s history of the post-war world: “No sooner would we welcome newcomers, when death would make a house call and even things out.”
Despite his suffering, Daron never complained and all who lived in the cabin with him at Lake Consuela believed that every day they had him around was by the grace of God, that it was a blessing Daron ever made it home to them, to live out his final days on the land he loved.
It was more than a case of the death of a friend, husband and father. Unbeknownst to theLakeConsueladenizens, it was the loss of the de facto Father of the new Country that wasAmerica.
* * * *
Two months after arriving inGraniteCounty, Perez wanted to see what the town ofStonecutterlooked like, and Adam agreed to be his tour guide. They went via horseback along a spider web-cracked road that in some places was equal parts dirt, gravel and asphalt. The trip was a quiet one, as Perez took more interest in the rolling foothills and the nearby orchards, where the trees were heavy with apricots, peaches and apples.
A warm breeze met them as they rode along the streets of Stonecutter. Within minutes they passed the remnants of the old hotel where the MMD—Mulholland’s Mad Dogs—holed up during the thermal onslaught of 2005.
“This is what’s left of the building where I was born,” Adam said in a voice thick with solemnity. “As a newborn I was nearly murdered by a man named Mickey Thornberry and his female conspirator, Doris Baker.”
“While inAlbuquerqueI had the privilege of reading your father’s writings,” Perez said. His tone was reverent as he went on. “It was not just the heat and an unseen enemy they worried about, but that eventually fear would wear them down.”
They continued on and after ten minutes came to a stop in front of the old Mulholland’s Sporting Goods store. They dismounted and Adam retrieved a black pouch from his saddle bag. For reasons he didn’t understand, the closer he came to the front doors of the building, the more of an emotional event it became for him. It was all Adam could do to fight back tears as he looked at the damaged stucco walls.
“This is the place where my parents, MJ’s dad, and Gordon Peters first came together,” he said. “Must be more than two hundred bullet holes.”
Perez gazed at the black holes. “I read that the battles were fierce.” He turned to Adam. “Are you okay””
“I’m fine.”
“Want to go inside?”
Adam nodded and Perez led the way into the musty confines of MMD first ‘fort’. Adam tried to imagine the logistics and the events as they unfolded on the pages of Daron’s journal. The glass cases where ammunition was once stored were caked with dust, and the camouflage uniforms that hung from the metal racks reeked of mildew.
“We need to come and clean this place up; turn it into a museum,” Perez said, “Even if we are the only ones who ever see it.”
Adam didn’t hear a word. His eyes were drawn to a yellowed piece of paper inside a plastic slip cover tacked to a wall at the back of the store. Adam walked over and took down the slip cover. After he stared at it for several seconds, he placed it carefully into his shoulder pouch.
That evening he shared the contents of the paper with Perez, Imani, Sara and the Barfields. The piece of paper read:

Human Trial
by Daron Turner,
September 2005
The city besieged by burdensome heat
Was hard to sit let alone move your feet
We tired from the power of the sun’s glare
All were unnerved by the still, arid air
Death made his house calls furious and fleet
The sun dried the rivers, it scorched the wheat
Felled the young and melted arctic ice sheets
A young girl, her eyes heavy with despair
Wondered aloud, “Is this it?”
A man whose eyes were laden with crow’s feet
Drew a gun, shot himself dead in the street
Doc yelled, “We depleted the ozone layer!”
The Rev cried, “We need to engage in prayer!”
A pregnant teen standing by in bare feet
Wondered aloud, “Is this it?”

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A River That Is Congo: Of Rulers And Ruled

NEW RELEASE! Pierre d'Entremont was the pampered youngest son of a successful French banking family. With an older brother to carry on the family tradition, Pierre is enrolled in the E'cole Militaire with the thought of a political career to follow his military service. But when the chief cashier embezzles all the bank's money and escapes to the Americas, Pierre suddenly has to earn a living. He has heard that a fortune can be made in King Leopold's Congo Free State. Although he has heard stories, mostly told by the British and Americans, of atrocities perpetrated on the natives by King Leopold's agents, stories the King denies, Pierre concludes that, given his military training, his best option is to enter King Leopold's Congo military service. Pierre arrives in the Congo in 1902. Within the first month, he becomes sick and nearly dies; makes an enemy of Harou, Leopold's most powerful man in the Congo; and, on the way to his posting, must always keep his gun within reach. Of Rulers and Ruled is an historical novel of one man's heroic struggle against the greed, cruelty, and terror of a corrupt government in colonial Africa. Pierre d'Entremont went to Africa to seek his fortune, and stayed to fight an evil regime. About the Author Paul J. Stam, was born in the northeast corner of the Belgian Congo where he grew up listening to the accounts of the old timers some of whom were the first whites in that part of Africa. Just before the end of World War II, when he was 15, Paul came to the United States with his parent. After graduating from high school he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving aboard a destroyer during the Korean War. His tour of duty completed, Paul attended the University of Minnesota and later joined the staff. Among other things, Paul has been a foundry worker, salesman, university teacher and administrator and sailboat skipper. Paul is now retired and lives in Hawaii.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Teens, Identity, and Despair

Teens, Identity, and Despair

by admin on September 28, 2012
"Lips" from The Human Act and Other Stories to be published by All Things That Matter Press
“I was here. That’s what she means when she writes in big block letters with her bright red lipstick, TYC 2001, in the mirror of the girls’ bathroom in Jefferson High School.
“I stand beside her pretending to fluff my already exaggerated hairdo. She thinks I don’t know her importance so she draws a line beneath her initials with a sweep of her wrist.
“TYC catches me staring at her. ‘What you looking at?’ She narrows her brown eyes, swivels the lipstick into its black case, turns, and struts away.
“By the time school lets out at three-thirty, I have seen TYC three more times. By the lockers exchanging her history book for algebra. In the halls shouting at a cheerleader for accidentally touching her. At the library checking out a book written by Dorothy Allison.
“I start to think there is more to my fascination with TYC than her bright red lipstick, which she never wears, only writes with. At home I stare in the mirror at my reflection and pucker my lips and mouth the letters, TYC, like I’m some sort of rock star in a music video. Before I go to sleep, I sit on the edge of my bed and roll up my pajama sleeves and stare at my wrists, turning them from side to side. The bones are heavy and awkward, not slim and manipulative. I lie down and pull the covers toward my chin. I close my eyes and dream of large techno-colored lips. I wake up in the middle of the night and feel my heart racing. I touch my lips with the tips of my fingers, the same lips those large techno-colored lips just kissed.”
The above section is an excerpt from my Pushcart Prize nominated short story, “Lips,” which is one of the 14 stories featured in my upcoming collection, The Human Act and Other Stories, to be published by All Things That Matter Press. The story focuses on a high school girl whose best friend, Lorraine, has moved to Arizona, leaving her friendless. The high school girl becomes obsessed with TYC, another seemingly friendless girl. But her preoccupation with TYC prevents her from grieving over the loss of her friendship with Lorraine, exploring her identity, accepting her budding sexuality, and acknowledging her increasing despair.
Teens have always had to cope with crossing the wasteland between childhood and adulthood. The terrain may be different from generation to generation, but the concerns remain the same: teens want to belong as much as they want to differentiate from one another.
But the cost of belonging can be high. Teens have to try out for sports before they can become members of the team. They have to qualify for the math Olympiad or the national honor society. They have to audition for band or drama. They have to possess some sort of talent or skill that fits into a socially acceptable format or else risk not belonging. Those teens who fail to fit neatly into one of these categories can fall through the cracks. Some of these teens join gangs or become stoners. Other teens remain painfully alone.
Teens that do not fit into a group have a hard time finding people like themselves to relate to. Some of them find solace in a hobby. Others escape through reading or music or video games. Still others find themselves like the narrator of “Lips,” searching for connection through a mysterious stranger who seems to fulfill all of one’s fantasies.
The longing for human connection does not end when one leaves childhood. It changes shape like the body, developing the lines and curves of being unique and yet still belonging.
For more stories of uniqueness and belonging, “Like” my Fan Page on Facebook to be notified when The Human Act and Other Stories is released.

From tyranny to freedom

Thursday, October 18, 2012



The Diary of Mary Bliss Parsons

Authored by DH Parsons
Authored with Elise Brion

The Lost Revelation is the second volume in the
non-fiction trilogy The Diary of Mary Bliss Parsons.

In Volume One, The Strong Witch Society, a dire warning was given to the inhabitants of this planet that if two very specific cultural behaviors were not changed, Earth would be destroyed in the not-too-distant future.

This volume provides detailed instructions on how each and every person can do their part to make those changes before it is too late.

Under the guidance of the Strong Witches, descendents of the original Beings who seeded this planet over three million years ago, mankind has the chance to save itself and enter into an incredible age of perfect health, indescribable technology, and spiritual development, the
likes of which have not been seen since the very first civilization, called Annica, was established.

With each volume of the trilogy, a number of Strong Witches are "Awakened" by reading the book. Are you one of those? Read The Lost Revelation and listen to your heart.

We are waiting for you.

 About the author:
DH Parsons is the founder and president of the Bliss-Parsons Institute. He has attained several University and Institute awards and degrees including a Master's degree in Public Education, and Ph.D's in Metaphysics and Religion.
He has served as a Public School teacher and administrator, and is currently an Inspirational Speaker throughout the Mid-Western United States.
Visit his website at

Elise R. Brion is Associate Vice President of the Bliss-Parsons Institute and a freelance writer/author. As an Inspirational Speaker and organizer throughout the state where she lives, she has presented Healing Seminars to diverse groups of people, and has witnessed "miracles too numerous to count in one lifetime." She has attained several University and Institute awards and degrees, including a Ph.D in Religion.


Monday, October 15, 2012

From The Witch’s Hand, Chapter 12

Deep in the night, long after Matins, Malaxia entered her sanctum with a candle and went all the way to the rear, the candle dancing splinters of light over and amidst the amethyst. Setting it down, she regarded the skull in its niche.

        “Are you there, you charlatan?”

        There was no answer. Malaxia waited briefly, and was about to close the sliding door over it, when a noise like sparks snapping in a fire came from the dark hollows of the eyes. Slowly the skull grew possessed with life, though it made no discernible motion.

        “‘Charlatan?’ To what do I owe this unmannerly summons?” The faux insulted voice from within held the sound of dry leaves in the wind.

        “It is one that you have earned.”

        “Ah, but would you keep me around if I told the truth all the time? How dull.” Smugly the head continued, “Want to know about your new apprentice, hmm?”

        “I do not. I already know she has the gift, more than anyone else. She will be my masterpiece.”


        “So what I wish from you, you regrettable excuse of a miserable son of an abscessed mother, is what she may accomplish. That I cannot see.” Malaxia was tight-lipped.

        “Cost you a lot to say that, didn’t it? Ho-ho, ho-ho, what would you have done without me?”

        “I don’t want to hear.”

        “Wish you had my cognitive powers, hm? The Sight. The one indispensable tool in a witch’s bag of tricks, and yours is sadly lacking.”

        “I taught you what cognition meant. I taught you how to use the Sight—”

        “Think so?” the skull cackled. “Do you know who else is on this side with me?

        “I happen to know you have very few companions, where you are—”

        “Because I said so? You should know better than that.”

        “—Few companions that have impressed you at all with the importance of proper communication,” Malaxia snapped.

        “Oh, too bad,” the head mocked.

        “I could put you back where I found you—”

        “But you won’t.”

        “—Draw your brains through your ears—” Malaxia’s fury was unfurling like an oriflamme.

        “How? I haven’t any. Ears or brains. Anymore.”

        “I’ll plaster your mouth shut.”

        “But I don’t need it to speak. Isn’t that enervating?” The skull’s death grin was positively smirking, and Malaxia whirled away. “Want to know what I see?” it called.

        Malaxia turned back. “I can see further than you in this case.”

        “Think so?”

        “This time I see further.” Malaxia was now deathly calm.

        “But not everything.”

        “I’ll boil you in hog fat and get another skull.


        “Enough! You are here at my discretion.”

        The head sing-songed, “I can see what you can’t, I can see what

you can’t—”

        Malaxia slammed the sliding door shut.

        From within, the skull continued, “Somebody’s coming, somebody’s coming—”

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Look Inside the Writing of ‘The Turn of the Karmic Wheel’ by ATTMP author Monica M Brinkman

Can You Tell Which Is Real? 
Excerpt from 1st Chapter – A Hunting We Will Go
Harry went to the window and watched his friend walk down the street. He wondered if he should be concerned. For some reason, he felt a bit of uneasiness; just couldn’t put his finger on the why or wherefore. Aw, hell, he reasoned, it ain't none of my business. Yet there was something eating at his mind, a voice telling him to go no further with this transaction. It was a gut feeling he couldn’t shake, a feeling that his friend and neighbor of over 30 years was not ‘quite right’. There was definitely something ‘off the scale’ about Euclid today. A vivid image entered his mind. A vision so unfathomable he had to let it go. Harry shivered as he moved to slowly close the store’s door, continuing to watch the retreating figure kicking stones along the road, unable to shake his feelings of dread.

Commentary from Author: I’ve often questioned if we really know anyone? You read of the kind neighbor who secretly has been molesting children for years or the nephew who committed suicide over snide, cruel remarks from classmates. Also, as in this instance, when we have doubts of another’s sanity, do we ignore our intuition or take action? Furthermore, do we outwardly betray what we wish others to see, yet hide parts of our personality deep within? Believe Euclid’s interaction with Harry  Henry McFarland asks the reader to ponder this question.

Excerpt from Chapter  2 – Jimmy and Euclid
As Euclid whittled away, each clip of the knife hit the exact spot to bring about the desired results. He was lost in the art of the craft, forgetting for a moment the deep despair and anguish losing both his wife and his job had brought him this last year. For a while, life felt good to this kind and loving man, a man whose recent thoughts had been fraught with suicide, hopelessness, and overwhelming pain. These views he kept to himself, along with so much more: ideas that grew in the night, messages he couldn’t control or ignore, and deeds he felt compelled to carry out. At times, Euclid felt himself growing quite mad indeed.

Commentary from author: This excerpt portrays the doubts, anguish and hidden thoughts which Euclid hides within his soul. The fact Euclid is whittling, which brings him joy, shows how he is attempting to hide his inner demons.

Excerpt from Chapter 3 –Joshua Allen
What a day it had been! Crazy, exciting, and prosperous, it was the type of day that caused his blood to surge through his body, his heart to pound with exhilaration, and his senses to remain sharp and keen. He’d made a killing in the stock market, something not so easy to do with the economy in such a mess. Most thought him very lucky. He had to laugh at that one. It wasn’t luck. Only suckers believed in luck. You had to know what you wanted out of life and go after it no matter what the cost. He was living proof that anyone whose goal was money and wealth could have it.
As he drove, he reflected, not for the first time, that too many people get stuck in doing the right thing only to find themselves full of guilt or remorse over the lousy choices they made. They were all losers with a capital L. Goody-goodies who preached forgiveness, empathy, love and understanding. Just thinking about those pitiful morons brought a sour taste to his mouth. No, emotions such as those were not part of his makeup anymore. He’d learned a long time ago that all it got you was heartache, humiliation, and fear. No one would ever again be able to hurt him, physically or emotionally.

Commentary from author: I wished to show in this writing, on the surface, you immediately believe Joshua Allen to be a cold, self-centered, unfeeling individual, yet as your read further, you find there lies more beneath the surface. What happened to him in his life that brought such physical and emotional pain to change his character? Are we really a product of our environment and life circumstances?

Excerpt from Chapter 4 – Angela Frank
One vivid memory was of lying in her twin bed, amidst the down comforter and pillows. Suddenly she was transported upward, above the roof of the house, into the night sky, among the stars, and found herself hand in hand with the most beautiful being she had ever seen. Certain it was an angel, she had no fear and willingly flew up into the night, around the town, and into the universe of stars. Such a calm feeling of peace surrounded her; moreover, she felt total bliss and pure love. Eventually, she’d be back in her own bed, fall asleep and have the most pleasant dreams, filled with magical music, magnificent beings and the sensation of pure love. Voices played in her head, sending messages of hope, peace, and universal kindness.
The next morning she awoke, so excited to share this journey with her mother and father, yet when she told them of her adventure she was met with punishment and disbelief from both, along with a sharp slap across the face.

Commentary from author: Angels visiting a child? Imagination, heavenly gift or work of the devil? And if such an event is experienced by a child, should they be greeted with punishment when they relay their experience to a parent? What does this teach a child? To distrust? To lie? To hide?

Excerpt from Chapter 8 – Joshua’s Turn
Joshua walked into the bathroom and faced the square mirror above the large white wash basin, a bit alarmed to see the fear in his face. He reached into the cabinet and took out the toothpaste, opened the cap and squeezed the familiar white and red goo onto his toothbrush. The sweet smell of peppermint filled his nostrils as he brushed up and down and inside his mouth. “Uh! My God, what the hell is this stuff made of?" Rotting, infected pus-filled substances traveled down his throat, causing Joshua to gag as he made a vain attempt to spit out the horrid stuff. Sweat beads formed on his forehead. He steadied himself by grasping the edge of the sink, gagging involuntarily all the while until he found he could not overcome the waves of nausea. As he lowered his head closer to the sink he watched, petrified, as maggots, spiders, worms, and centipedes fell into the basin, slithering in the stinking liquid and gobs of foul-smelling partially digested chunks. 
“Oh, my God,” were the last words he uttered before Joshua Allen sunk to his knees, gasping for breath on the cold tiled floor.

Commentary from author: In my mind, horror is most terrifying when portrayed via the most common, every day occurrences. In this chapter, I used the act of brushing your teeth to instill the fear factor. It also draws the reader in as they wish to know what happened to our dear cad, Joshua. Perhaps he has encountered something even his huge ego cannot control.

Excerpt from Chapter 12 – Home, Where the Hearth Is
After brushing her teeth, washing her face, and combing her long hair, Angela slipped into her lilac-colored nightgown, the one with tiny pearl and ribbon flowers cascading down the front, pulled back the blue and white checked bedspread, and crawled into bed. While she settled in beneath the covers, a voice whispered into her ear, “Angela, I am here by your side.” Angela groaned, partially in acknowledgment, partially in rejection, and wholeheartedly in exasperation, wondering why she had to be different. She wasn’t able to tune the voice out recently. No matter what she tried, ignoring it, dismissing it, her tactics failed. In fact, it seemed the more she resisted, the more often the voice would return.
“Who are you? “What do you want of me? Can’t you just let me be and leave me alone?” A soft voice answered, “I am goodness, I am innocence, I am virtue, I am love. I was there long ago, I am here with you always. Do not be fearful. Listen to my words, for they come with great promise, hope, care, and concern.”
For one brief instant, Angela glimpsed a figure cloaked in a silver, purple, and gold garment which flowed and danced in the air as if it was being blown about by a gentle wind. She could not make out facial features, yet she felt drawn to the being in some mystical, magical way. And then it was gone. She almost felt disappointment, but her fatigue took over and, laying her head on the soft down filled pillow, turning on her side, she closed her eyes and in seconds was fast asleep, dreaming the dreams of an innocent child. Wonderful dreams which came from a pure, uncontaminated soul. Dreams she would well remember. Dreams that would affect her future. Dreams of her ultimate destiny.

Commentary from author: Try as we may, are we able to dismiss what forms us? No matter how much we attempt to depress and stifle our experiences, will they return until accepted? And why after so many years is Angela unable to control the long forgotten psychic experiences?

From the author:
These are but a few glimpses into three characters found in The Turn of the Karmic Wheel. I honestly wrote the story to bring meaning and purpose to each individual’s life. In a world that at times feels unjust and unfair, I wished to tell a tale where my readers can understand their actions in life are important. As we go about our ordinary everyday lives, we touch others’ in ways we never realize and are, ultimately, accountable and responsible for our actions. Hope your deeds and acts in life bring goodness, grace and love to those you meet. I’m rooting for you!
Monica M. Brinkman
About the Author:
Author, Monica M Brinkman believes the world needs less greed and more humanitarianism.
Her novel, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel, reflects those beliefs. Look for the sequel, The Wheels Final Turn to be released early 2013. Her latest effort is a contributing author with her story, My Life As A Singing Telegram, as we take a walk down memory lane in 25 Years In the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back.
Monica is a member of the Missouri Writers Guild, Vice-President of the Phelps County Historical Society, hosts the Thursday night It Matters Radio Show and is a columnist for A Touch of Karma on
She resides in the Midwest with her husband Richard, two dogs and five cats.
To view or purchase ‘The Turn of the Karmic Wheel’
                               Barnes &  Noble
Visit her websites:  A Touch of Karma
                              Meaningful Writings
It Matters Radio @ It Matters
Weekly Column @ Authors Info A Touch of Karma

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Thousand Tiny Cracks, an excerpt...

I hope that every woman who has been frustrated with her husband, exasperated with her children, or simply finds herself slipping through the cracks in her family can relate to this struggle.
    - Stella

“He hit me!” A scream echoes from the basement. Crap. Zach and Maya have been playing so nicely that I actually forgot they were still inside. How in the world am I supposed to write a marketing paper with that going on?
Damn it. I stride into the basement and transplant Zach, who immediately starts sniveling, away from Maya’s coloring table.

“Zach, please stop,” I pick up a puzzle, hoping it will encourage him to look through his toys. Maya continues coloring, but a sneaky smile escapes her lips.

“No!”  Smack. Freaking Fergus the train, a Christmas present from this past year, just hit me in the face.

 “Zach, no throwing,” I scold as I snatch Fergus and place it on top of the mantle. Whack. Salty whooshes by my head and smacks a lamp. He follows Fergus to the mantle. Harold flies across the room and hits the coffee table.

Shit. “Do not throw!” I gather all the trains and dump them on top of the mantle. Zach marches over, plucks a small toy radio from the shelf, and slams it as hard as he can on the floor.

“No!” he shrieks again.

I scream, “Upstairs,” in a voice that has possessed me, but Zach refuses to comply. I restrain him like a football and drag him up the steps so that he can’t kick or hit me while I move him. On the way into his room, he whacks his head on the door frame. I swear he does that on purpose. I don’t think it is even possible to fit his almost four-year-old flailing body through the door frame without whacking something. Usually it is me.

There is not one bit of positive reinforcement during my day. It isn’t that I miss my career so much; I just miss other people recognizing me as a person who is worth something. Deep down, I tell myself that raising our children and caring for our home is a worthwhile job. The problem is that this job has no rewards. No one ever says, “Great job mom, you cleaned up another meal,” or, “Nice catch,” when a Pop Tart whizzes by my ear.

I stomp out the front door. My husband Ethan is knee deep in dirt with our neighbor Theo, digging a trench through our yard. Tad, Theo’s twin brother, watches from the sidelines, looking amused.

“How is the paper going?” asks Ethan sarcastically. I stare daggers. I resent Ethan. I hate him because he is the one who should encourage me, but he doesn’t. He escapes to the gym, works in the yard, and participates in any activity he can to hide away from the kids. I could tolerate it if he didn’t just totally ignore me, like what I do doesn’t even matter. I spend most of my time feeling like a ghost.

“Paper, really?” I ask. “Could you not hear the screaming through the walls?”

The guys chuckle. Obviously, they heard most of it.

 “We’re the poster children for birth control,” I snap. “You guys should pay attention because you don’t actually want one of those.” That stops them. Theo looks a little sick. I always pegged him as the wild one.

“So, Stella, what are you writing about?” inquires Tad.

“Some marketing crap comparing print versus online concepts,” I answer.

“Did you pick a company?” he asks.

I roll my eyes at him. “Did it sound like I had time to pick a company?”

 “I’ll help you out if you want,” he offers. “I’m not in the mood to dig.”

“There you go,” Ethan interjects. “Now you even have help. It will be done in no time.” And back to digging he goes.

I halt and watch him. The ropy muscles in his forearms flex as he heaves the shovel deeper into the trench and sweat glistens down his bare back, leaving dirt trails. His body tenses as he pulls the handle back, his concentration intently focused on one square foot of metal. His physical exertion draws me in, like watching him run up and down the basketball court in college. I want to grab Ethan’s hand and lead him into the house, up the steps to our room…

“You ready?” Tad follows me into the house.

© Stella Maddox, 2012   
Material may not be reproduced or distributed without permission.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Healing Session in Censorship

excerpt from The Healings, (C) 2010 by Oana, published by All Things That Matter Press. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author and publisher.

the healings
The Healings
I have to put the phone down and turn on the TV. Aunt Lyla is literally screaming at me. Don't I read the news? Don't I listen to the radio? Don't I watch TV anymore? What news? What radio? What TV?
Back to the phone. I tell her that my cat and I had decided to take a break from all this strenuous life. We needed some rest so we lowered the blinds and enjoyed a long, refreshing sleep. Aunt Lyla is shocked. Now? When the world is about to teach its citizens the ultimate lesson of respect? I'm puzzled. Back to the TV.
We watch the speech of a well-known politician in silence. Apparently, after centuries of social and political turmoil, the International Law of Censorship has finally been passed. Unanimously. I catch his last words: "The world welcomes a new era. An era of respect for each other, an era of understanding and everlasting social unity."
A couple of commercials promoting rye bread and mustard follow.
I look at my cat. Maybe she can explain to me what this is all about.
Of course she can. She's a female. She has intuition on her side. According to the new law, we're not allowed to express ourselves just like that, tell whatever comes to mind and offend other citizens. Every word has to be weighed, measured, polished, and only when we are absolutely sure it will generate unanimous, spontaneous approval, shipped to its addressees. What are the consequences of breaking this new law? Oh well, fines, imprisonment or both. Not counting the lawsuit the offended party can follow up with. Wow! We are indeed witnesses to a new world.
We're happy. This means no one will dare to call me crazy anymore. Unless they're ready to sponsor our vacation in Tahiti, he he.
My cat brings the champagne. We toast for an insult and offense-free future. Just in the middle of my sophisticated mental toast a raw revelation cracks my skull open. I realize that, while I can enjoy my days without being called crazy, mental and retard, I, too, cannot return any compliments anymore. We are bound to silence. We can no longer let our inspiration flow. I have to be very careful with my cat who has a very nasty habit of expressing her dislikes. She's also very opinionated. Whenever asked about something, she delivers the most outrageous, social and political feline perspectives. Right now, we need to cool down and watch the other people's behavior. We also need bread.
We go to the bakery in fear, avoiding looking people in the eyes. I see they started implementing the new law already. At the store a clerk makes some unorthodox remarks about the height/weight proportion of one of the customers. He tells the woman she's skinny enough to eat every day five muffins without gaining weight. The woman is offended. She doesn't think she is skinny. She thinks she's just fine. Police are called in and they bust the rude citizen right away. I ask respectfully about his immediate fate. Three years in prison and a substantial fine. As we pass the woman, we hear her crying on the phone and making a pledge to sue the clerk for at least a million. She is so offended. Will she ever be able to recuperate from this traumatic experience?
My cat looks at me. I know what that look means. I stuff her mouth with pretzels and stick her face in the bag. In the car I take her out and allow her to repeatedly call the woman "bitch." She also calls me various names. I agree with her, but she has to get it. If Daddy goes to prison, who will be here to look after her?
We have to understand how this new law works. We were sleeping when they passed it, for God's sake! Now, we have to wake up.
We go straight to Aunt Lyla. She is watching a short documentary that teaches citizens how to express themselves politely while preserving the initial meaning of their thoughts. It's not easy but she can see some progress already. I tell her about the bitch at the store. She tells me about a fuck up she met at the butcher's shop. I learn that we cannot use the term "fuck up" anymore. Instead, we can safely use "disoriented citizen."
There are a few things she likes about this new law though. I snap. Like what? How can one like this? I call her crazy. She calls me an idiot. We decide to call the police and sue each other. My cat hisses at us. Who's going to take care of her if we start this sick game? The cat calls us both "severely disoriented citizens." Aunt Lyla and I turn around and look at her. Can we sue a cat? We have to read the new law, word by word.
We part ways filled with anger. I feel like the blood in my veins has been replaced with boiling lava. I need to understand this. I am happy we got some sleep already, because I do not see too much sleep for us in the near future.
A gallon of coffee and eighty-nine cigarettes later, the sun shines upon me again. Aunt Lyla calls. She agrees to drop the charges for the "idiot" if I take back my "crazy." We make peace. Resourceful as she is, she managed to get two invitations to a very select, unique meeting with Ishmael Popcorn, the father of the concept of the censorship coming from inside out, as a citizen initiative. For more than a decade, he has actively promoted the idea of a society where the censorship – read: good citizen's manners – is no longer imposed from outside by the government but, by repeated educational measures, it becomes a citizen's initiative. The current law is actually based on his theory.
My heart starts beating faster. We better get ready; the meeting starts in less than an hour. I give my cat a bath. She hates baths, especially when she gets shampoo in her eyes. I show her The Law. I try my new daring prêt-a-porter. I ask her if I'm hot. She doesn't say a word. I ask her again. Nothing. Now I get it! She wants to tell me that I look like crap. Really? Why don't we sit down for a minute and quickly review the main aspects of...The Law? She starts purring and she tells me I'm hot.
We leave the house. On our way to the meeting I sue two neighbors. One called my cat "food aggressive" – it's "resource protective" idiot, read The Law – another one called my fancy prêt-a-porter "outdated" – Really? Who are you, moron, the fashion police? If you want to enforce the Law, read it first! Ha ha!
Caught in my fresh unexpected lawsuits we get there later than we planned. We know we are "disoriented citizens." We apologize to Aunt Lyla who, in order to save the seat for me, put on three sweaters and pretended she was pregnant. Nobody dared to question her extreme desire to give birth at the tender age of sixty-seven – The Law, Art.23, Par.4. We sit down in silence and position our antennae in the direction of the great speaker.
Prof. Ishmael – ageless face, mummified body, shaky voice – appears to be at least one hundred years old. Aunt Lyla corrects me. He is actually ninety-eight. I politely apologize – The Law, Art.9, Par.2. His discourse is simple and meaningful. He gives the example of so many societies that failed to gain absolute control over their citizens.
So much useless pressure, dictatorships, anarchy. With such poor results. The idea of the ultimate censorship came many years ago while having coffee with a couple of select dictators. He just couldn't watch them struggling to eliminate the free-thinking using such brutal inefficient methods. Why use so much pressure coming from the outside? Why not place the pressure inside the citizen and then watch it grow? He knew he was on to something big. Seventy-nine years later he authored his glorious study, Censorship Like a Seed. According to his theory, the censorship lives inside the human brain.
It's like a seed, planted and watered by a loving parent – government. Once the plant is mature and vigorous, and most important, can sustain and reproduce itself, it doesn't need help from the parent anymore. The parent rests while watching his children grow, living their own lives, producing offspring.
Another advantage of this theory is the low cost of the law enforcement. The law is based on eternal human features: poor self- assessment skills, lack of competitiveness, and, of course, the almighty smallness. The great thinker estimates that after the initial phase, the police will gradually step down and let the citizens themselves enforce the law. Human smallness is eternal.
We express our gratitude to Aunt Lyla for bringing us here. We start walking towards home, muted and respectful. We pass a gray, tall building. The street is narrow, and so are my thoughts. My cat points at a tiny cross hanging on the door. The gray building is actually a monastery and according to the wall plate, it hosts the Carthusian Order. I knock at the door and a reluctant monk gives me, in a few words, all the information I need. What makes the Order so special? The monks are taught to cultivate the spirit of the exterior silence – speaking only when truly necessary. Solitude and silence are the keywords. I look at my cat. She approves. We step into great silence. We both feel we will be here for a while. There is nothing for us out there.

The Healing Session in Self-Evaluation

I've never been aware of the fact that a small incident, like being late for dinner, can be a life-changing event.
Naturally, I try to avoid the consequences and I sneak into the bedroom quietly, but when I try to get to the bathroom I step on her toy and a horrifying squeaky sound fills the air. Here she is, frying pan in paw, glossy eyes penetrating the darkness. After a stormy argument, we decide that the dinner incident is not an isolated case.
Something is not right in our relationship!
We need to get counseling! I promise her to call the well-known counselor for couples, Prof. Wilhelm Blueberry, first thing in the morning. Prof. Blueberry – bags under his eyes, coarse hair, huge listener's ears – is more than happy to listen to our problems and to facilitate the exchange of ideas between us.
We sit down in front of him waiting for a sign. He points at my cat, curious to hear her complaints. My feline partner pulls out a small diary. I didn't know she was so organized. She starts reading. I'm shocked to discover that she kept track of all my missed dinners, unanswered phone calls, as well as my inability to provide her with fresh fish upon request. I almost start snoozing listening to the never-ending list of complaints.
However, one of them catches my attention. She complains about the fact that, when I went to pick her up at the pet resort, I was unable to tell her apart from other black cats. This is ridiculous!
This unjustified complaint reminds me of a black friend who grew up in an all black community and never saw white people until he started college. He met this white girl, and they decided to get together the following day in the same place. A small problem, though. Once there, he could not identify her. All the white women around him seemed pretty much alike. He started walking around and shyly approaching all the young blonds – "Mary?" – until he finally addressed the right one. Although funny, my old friend's story has nothing to do with my cat problem. I went to the pet resort and I called her. It is not my fault that ten other cats rushed to get the salmon crackers. I wish women were like cats!
I look her in the eyes. I need not put my unhappiness on paper. I recall every detail of her mean actions, designed to curb the significant other's pleasure. Little things like peeing on my freshly built snowman two years ago in Colorado. Or scratching my hand when I wanted to play with her – mood swings. Or telling people what we think about them, without obtaining consent from me – social embarrassment.
My cat pulls out a second, smaller diary. Prof. Blueberry and I have to listen to another long, boring list of complaints, including, among others, constantly refusing to take her out to cool, exotic places; abusing her verbally and emotionally; refusing to cover her grooming expenses. And last, but not least, giving her a $10 Christmas gift card in exchange for her $20 gift card. Now, how cheap is that!
Prof. Blueberry listens to both sides with compassion and understanding. He gives us his famous You Have To Change brochure and invites us to read it thoroughly and work on ourselves. He suggests that we should emphasize the activities we both enjoy and create a daily ritual around them, gradually adding other exciting activities. This will help us rediscover each other, rekindle the romance, and eventually step into new territories of togetherness.
Prof. Blueberry informs us that we will resume our counseling session in a week and shows us out with a graceful smile. I do not smile. Neither does my cat. Actually, we are pretty concerned. Why do we have to change? We don't like the idea. We were the same when we met, why do we have to change now?
However, we both have a deep respect for Knowledge and we decide to follow Prof. Blueberry's advice. After all, if we didn't trust him, we wouldn't be here. At home we spend time in separate rooms, reading the precious guide to a perfect partnership, making notes, and then getting together in the living room to analyze them carefully. We start having short sessions, during which we politely emphasize certain events in our relationship that triggered negative emotions along with resentment. I recall one such painful memory.
It takes me back in time two years, when I had packed twenty pounds on my belly and I was fat and miserable. I finally decided to cut down on fats and sweets and start a diet the following day consisting of seafood, rice, potatoes, matzos, and such. No chocolate. Unfortunately, before I made the decision, I got a huge, nine-inch-wide fruit tart. Because I couldn't function properly, knowing that "the enemy"was hiding in the refrigerator, I decided to eat "the enemy" that very day, so there would be no temptations in the future, as my fridge would gladly host only fat-belly-friendly foods. Then, I felt remorse. And guilt. What did she do? Was she supportive of me? Was she there for me? No. She laughed at me. She took pictures of me in my bathing suit and emailed them to our friends. How can I possibly forget this? My cat apologizes, although she admits she hardly remembers the fruit tart incident.
She, too, has a major complaint to make. It's not an isolated incident, but an ongoing, unpleasant experience. I learn that I seem to have a major communication problem lately. She doesn't recognize me anymore. In the shortest conversation or announcement I feel the urge to describe a series of facts or situations that are absolutely irrelevant to the message itself. The partner cat is pissed. Where is the straight-to-the-point man she once knew? Why do I have to give so many details when there is no end to it? Why do I put her and others through this ordeal? I admit I have no answer. I just use more words lately, so what? Do I have to undergo separate counseling in order to socialize the way I want to? Are there any guidelines for free expression that I have to follow? My cat says yes.
I call Prof. Blueberry right away and I ask for an additional session. He would love to help, but his expertise in communication and socializing is very limited. He kindly offers to call his friend, Prof. Strawberry, who is a leading expert in verbal communication. Five minutes later we have an answer from Prof. Strawberry, via Prof. Blueberry. He tells me that every message that needs to be conveyed to our counterparts consists of three basic elements: introduction, the message itself, and conclusion. For example, "Hey" – introduction, designed to catch the attention of my counterpart; "yesterday I went to the movies" – content; and "the movie I saw was bad" – conclusion.
Okay, I can tell you right now, I hate this! I politely thank my counselor and hang up. Then, I turn to partner cat. I want to tell more. I want to say a few words about the construction workers who snored through the entire movie. I also want to bring up the dirty restroom. And the fact that my pants were too tight and I felt discomfort during the show. However, I want to nurture my relationship. I will work on my ways of expressionless expression and take it to new levels! My cat smiles. In return she will practice along with me, ready to intervene whenever I'm in danger of giving too much off-base information. We spend a lovely day practicing and correcting each other respectfully, as a part of our "You have to change" strategy.
We also practice the small, innocent lies Prof. Blueberry taught us. Before we sought counseling, we thought lies would only damage a relationship. However, Prof. Blueberry suggests that a tiny lie now and then would only reinforce our desire to be safe and looked after. I agree. Our favorite lies are "I love you" and "Who, me?"
Since we decided to change, we both have plenty of time on our hands. I had to give up beer at the small neighborhood tavern, for my cat never approved socializing with the boys at the cost of the activities meant to make us a better couple. She had to give up playing with other cats early Sunday mornings when I indulge in my weekend sleep.
She protests as I try to limit her outings. She does not want to lose her freedom. Really? Who leaves the house whenever she wants and shows up at midnight with dust and spider webs in her coat? Not me! I am here, glued to the house, waiting with food and water. And by the way, whose food is more expensive? Some sessions are fruitful, some are scary. We end up sleeping in separate beds.
A week later we meet in Prof. Blueberry's office, both deeply disturbed, carrying bags of diaries.
Prof. Blueberry looks a little bit scared. He asks us to bring out the most relevant moments and disagreements of the past week. I look at her. She licks her paws gracefully for about five minutes, and then delivers yet another outstanding sample of femininity.
I learn that I'm cheap with her but a very irresponsible spender when it comes to my pleasures. Prof. Blueberry sanctions me with a parental gaze. What did I do this time? The counselor advises me to remember humble beginnings or to look in my past for an event that would trigger respect and appreciation for modesty. This will make me a humble, modest human being, and a wise spender. Is there any moment in my life when I was forced to cut down on costs and just live on a budget?
I'm pissed. Why do I have to re-live those moments instead of those when I was rich and money was plentiful? What kind of sadistic counseling is this? I'm taken back in time, against my will. When I was a kid, my cousin and I used to play different roles and make up silly games. One of them was that of a very poor widow – played by my older cousin, Eliza, who had a young kid – played by me. We were sitting in an improvised tent, made of branches and we were eating nothing. We were too poor to afford food. This was the game. I used to hate it and I protested a lot. I didn't want to be poor and eat nothing even if it was only a game! Why would I embrace a humble, modest lifestyle now, just to please my partner cat?
It strikes me that I do not want to change. At all. After all, when we met I was the same person. She was the same cat. She had her bad habits but I loved her anyways. I had mine and she didn't seem too bothered by them. I realize that neither of us has changed; maybe we were just immature and unable to see ourselves and each other for who we were. I write a generous check for Prof. Blueberry.
Do we wish to delve deeper into the misshapes of our relationship? We decline politely. We are who we are. On our way out I show my cat a painting on the wall. It's a girl with a fresh smile holding a big bunch of wildflowers. I want to tell her that I like the painting, but instead, I spontaneously create a story about flowers, femininity and freshness.
My cat smiles. We go home happy, aware of the flaws of our relationship.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A House Near Luccoli – Excerpts on Tour

A House Near Luccoli – Excerpts on Tour

All Things That Matter Press, publisher of my newly released novel, A House Near Luccoli©, is running an Excerpt Tour beginning October 1st. Many of the authors at ATTMP will be participating in it, providing links back to blog posts containing excerpts of their published works which can then be shared.
I warmly thank those who have already ventured into the world of the Italian Baroque composer Alessandro Stradella (1639 – 1682) as I have researched and imagined him. I would love to tempt a few more of you with the following three excerpts:

A House Near Luccoli© focuses on chance encounters, beautiful music, and the paradox of genius through an imagined intimacy with one of the most legendary and undervalued figures of Italian Baroque Music.
5 Star Review
Excerpt 1:
In the middle of the night Donatella rose to a dare and the third floor, bare steps as uncertain as candlelight on an unknown artist’s commission of cherubs and festooned fruits and flowers in muted greens, grays, and sienna. The floor of the apartment didn’t keep her entry quiet but it seemed only her carefulness was disturbed. The trestle table was set up in the salon, too close to the fireplace with its escalloped oak mantle and triangular copper hood illustrating Vulcan and Venus. Windows on both sides were almost hidden by red curtains with gold scrolling around the Garibaldi coat of arms, the moon somehow casting light on the secrecy of her endeavor. She unpacked Signor Stradella’s clothes, carrying the pieces one at a time or in piles to the bedroom and shelves of the wardrobe that threatened to be too small. He has more of what’s necessary and unnecessary than a woman, a much indulged woman. She opened another trunk holding the rewards of beautiful music, smiles and connivances, too, doubtful he carried the family heirlooms while by invitation or escape running around and hiding. Whatever explained the collection, he was aristocratic in everything but bedding and especially fortunate in moveable assets, even indifferent about some of them with silver candlesticks and snuffers, trays, bowls, spoons, toothpicks, and boxes as tarnished as his reputation.
Silver wasn’t unusual in a city where even the lowest had the chore of it in their homes, while gold wasn’t to be seen in any ordinary way, and she supposed he took pride in what he had of it, from buttons and medals to a locked tobacco caddy studded with diamonds.
She sensed some fraud, too, and quickly deposited a reliquary with the scapular in the chest at the foot of the bed. Otherwise she arranged with an eye for practical and creative importance, or just not knowing where else to put things without cluttering incidental surfaces and the narrow mantle. A candelabrum belonged on the trestle table as did a bookstand and bundle of folders with ribbons untied for a chance of revelation, placed next to a decorated writing slope for composing more than little notes to honorable ladies.
Three lutes huddled against the emptiness of a corner, stepsisters born separately of rosewood, maple, and ebony, sharing an inheritance of long necks, head backs, full bodies with rosettes like intricately set jewels on their breasts. Theirs was harmonious rivalry, recalling a master’s touch and understanding. On the settee a leather case contained a violin resembling a dead man on the red velvet of his coffin, not mourned but celebrated by nymphs dancing through vines on the friese high around the room.

Excerpt 2:
She hadn’t much time. Until the eighth of June was a deadline through its morning only, four festive galleys already in port, smaller boats gathering the night before with lanterns swaying in unheeded winds and displaying their own regalia. The barges were due to be pulled in and lined up around four in the afternoon so the silks for transforming them into a grand hall wouldn’t fade in the sun that after all didn’t even brighten the clouds. A week earlier, at Despina’s invitation to lunch and numerous glasses of wine, Signor Stradella explained the plan for this divertissement in the bay by drawing little pictures and witticisms from a perverse sense of what made him a living.
Donatella was more impressed by him writing slower than he scratched out, biting his hand and grabbing his hair, throwing back his head and closing his eyes. He hadn’t shaved or buttoned his shirt and didn’t seem to remember he had sent for her.
Tromba or cornetta?”
She assumed he was speaking to Golone, who set out his clothes for the evening and left with a smile that knew what would never happen.
“I told them to decide.” He stood stiffly as she moved into the untidy salon. “But still they ask.”
“What’s the difference?”
It was as if she had thrown water on him. He shuddered, his back arched even before he sat at the harpsichord to play barely broken chords like a boat rolling on little trills of foam.
He motioned her over. “You copied by hand, now voice.”
“Oh, no.”
, sing. With me. One breath.” His fingers were moving again, his voice letting hers lead, for courtesy and because she couldn’t outperform him. “And so you played the tromba.”
“It felt like drowning might.”
He slapped his thighs. “There are too many phrases like that. Why do I make it so difficile?”
She wouldn’t guess.
“Hmm?” He played the trumpet line again, trying and refusing to break it into something easier and less wonderful. “If only there was more talent in Genova.”
The mirror now above the console table was as elegant as she wasn’t, her hair less carefully arranged than Nubesta’s, the lace around her neck that might have improved her needing to be washed and starched. She looked tired from weeks of candles being excessively burned—her hands, too, blistered from the lye soap normally avoided with a long stick in the laundry coppers but desperately used to scrub off stains that had grown beyond her use of quill and ink for writing in a journal.
“What did you want me for?”
He went back to the table, offering some pages. “This duetto. It seems soprano and basso won’t share a copy. Like a bed.”
She couldn’t hide her embarrassment as she reached out.
“Oh, you haven’t taken care.” He didn’t exactly caress her hands, or merely examine them, either.
“It looks worse than—”
Olio d’oliva. Cooled. Rub it on gently.”
She stiffened as he showed her.
Certamente, I don’t mean to make you suffer.”
“But how do you clean the ink off?”
He presented his stained fingers.
“You don’t have to hide what you do.”
“Except with the direction of my eyes?”
She picked up her next assignment, feeling unworthy of his gaze.
Presto? There’s not much time.”
Sleep could never be more important.
Alessandro Stradella 1639-1682Excerpt 3:

Now and then Alessandro ventured out with folder and violin under his arm, a bored Golone at his side, and renewed hope that Genova continued to love him it spite of itself.
Donatella believed it would because there was no unloving him as he was, available and irresistible, artful yet authentic, larger than life but vulnerable. Making his acquaintance was unforgettable, seduction unavoidable, consequences bestowed like blessings. It was easier to believe he converted assassins than encouraged them and that he meant to fondle hearts, not break them. His wasn’t a minor nobility, with the title Il Maestro di Grande Spirito e lo Stile Fervente, raising voices of angels from the aspirations of singers and offering chances for instrumentalists to perform miracles. So he gave an almost sacred consent to listening for salvation, revealing the purpose of a life not as undisciplined as it seemed. Every note was part of an arrangement between the gifts of God and man, with counterpoints carefully conducting discussions, harmonics cohering different expressions like a rainbow does its colors, language and instruments making passages into the same emotive poety. Yet there was always inovation, interpretation, even impulsiveness and evasion, love never far from its theme, fulfillment not necessary to end with, drama as essential for content as the spectacle of a sunset burning up the sky when it never actually did.

Thank you for having the interest and taking the time to read!

A House Near Luccoli© is available at Amazon in Paperback and Kindle Edition, and at Barnes and Noble as a NOOK Book.


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