Thursday, October 1, 2020

WASTELAKAPI… Beloved--A Second Guest Post by Mark Wildyr

 

dontravis.com blog post #409




  Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

The site had close to 10,000 hits this past month, including a great number last week, so apparently my readers liked Mark Wildyr’s opening to his unpublished novel, Wastelakapi… Beloved. Hong Kong readers stayed with us, and for a short period Russia and the Ukraine were in second and third place, consigning the US to fourth. However, stateside readers eventually overcame the other two and fell into second place. Nonetheless, readers from Hong Kong outnumbered us about 8 to one. Interesting.

 In light of all this, Mark has agreed to do another guest post and give us Chapter 2 of the novel. If any publishers out there… foreign or domestic… happen to read and are interested, Mark is ready to deal. I understand the book is completed and ready to go.

 In Mark’s Prologue and Chapter 1 last week, We met John Strobaw, whose Indian names are War Eagle, Night Sky Hair, and Medicine Hair, who has only recently returned to his farm from a five-year exile to the Pine Ridge Reservation, in deep—almost mindless—mourning for his life partner, Matthew Brandt, AKA Shambling Bear, who was killed in the Wounded Knee massacre. He and the young man who helped him bring his beloved home were confronted by a posse led by Sheriff Charles Landreth, an Indian hater, who asks John and Winter Bird a strange question. “Did they know the war was over? What did that mean?

 Let’s see what we learn in Chapter 2

 *****

WASTELAKAPI… BELOVED

By Mark Wildyr

Chapter 2

 

Ever since the visit by Landreth and his men last Thursday, Winter Bird had kept a close watch on the wagon trail running south to Yanube City. So it wasn’t surprising he was the first to spot four riders approaching at a walk on Sunday morning. One wore the hated blue uniform of the U.S. Cavalry, but draped over the familiar form of my brother-in-law, Captain Gideon Haleworthy, the garb was a sight easier to endure.

My sister Rachel Ann, Ides, and Gabriel accompanied him. Their presence surprised me. The last word I’d had by carrier pigeon from Teacher’s Mead led me to believe she and the children had been living at the home place ever since the Ghost Dance craze frightened the whites so badly last year. No longer comfortable living at Fort Yanube, she had fled home to the Mead. Her tribal blood was too apparent for some of the other officers’ wives.

I mounted the small hill behind the cabin and waved my hat in welcome. A few minutes later, the horses clattered over the bridge and into the yard. Gideon dismounted and handed down his wife from her saddle. Ides, a lanky youngster, who had turned six during the last moon, dismounted like a miniature man and rushed over to catch his little brother as he jumped from his buckskin’s back. Gabe was coming up on five this next month.

My older nephew was actually named William after grandfathers on either side of the family, but no one had called him anything but Ides since I’d hung that tag on him. I borrowed it from the English Bard who had proclaimed William’s birth date–the fifteenth–as the Ides of March.

After Gideon’s handshake, I opened my arms and clasped Rachel Ann’s slender frame against me. She was the first family I’d seen since returning from Pine Ridge, and it was impossible to sort out my scrabbling emotions at the moment. When she broke into sobs, I was hard-pressed not to plunge deeper into melancholy.

“Oh, John, I’m so sorry about Matthew. We all loved him so much.”

In truth, he had been our brother as well as my mate. Our spiritual grandfather, Otter, had brought Little Bear–as Matthew was known then–from this very farm to the Mead when he was Ides’ age. The militia running rampant over the landscape during the Americans’ Civil War had pointlessly killed Matthew’s widowed mother and his older brother. My parents raised the boy just as they had reared Alexander and Rachel Ann and Hanna and me, as if he were their own blood. He had been half Yanube, our band, and half Brulé of the Teton Sioux fire.

I managed to squeeze words through a tight throat. “He died well.”

Gideon had met Winter Bird when my friend lay injured in our cabin years back, so I introduced Rachel Ann and the boys. Then I expressed the belief that Rachel Ann was living at the Mead.

She planted fists on her hips and managed to look like our Ina, our mother, even though her raven hair was nothing akin to Ma’s Scandinavian blonde. “We kept expecting you at the Mead, but you never showed up. Ma was fit to be tied. She convinced herself you needed mothering and was determined to pick up and move here. The only way we could dissuade her was for me to come live on the farm.”

“It would be a convenience to us all, John,” Gideon said. “Rachel Ann isn’t ready to return to living on the post as yet, so having my wife and family seven miles distant is far superior to half-a-hundred.”

“And I’m perfectly capable of mothering my big brother. If you’ll have us, that is.”

I smiled. “You can have the stone cabin up by the irrigation pump. You and the boys will be comfortable there. And Gideon’s welcome whenever he can manage a visit.”

“I thought Dex and Libby Appleton were living in the cabin,” Rachel Ann said.

Libby was the only surviving child of Andre Tiller, my neighbor a mile to the west, who had homesteaded his farm not long after Otter and Major James Morrow built this one. During my six-year absence, Andre had tilled my land and paid my taxes in exchange for the reap.

Dexter was the son of the widowed Englishwoman Jane Appleton, who had worked with my mother at the Mead for as long as I could recall. Ma had successfully plotted Dex’s and Libby’s wedding while I was away at Pine Ridge.

“The Appletons bought the old Stubblefield place about five miles up Turtle Crick shortly after I returned,” I said.

“Good. Then I won’t be turning anybody out. By the way, I have a money belt in my pack. Pa sent some gold and silver and a little copper from what you and Matthew stored there.”

“Good. That’ll make things a mite easier.”

“Pa’s exact words.

Gideon had only two day’s leave from his military duties to fetch his family and settle them on Turtle Crick Farm, so he helped move Rachel Ann’s packs into the little house before coming back for a talk. She remained inside to arrange the new home to her liking.

Since returning from the reservation, I’d lived in almost total isolation and was thirsty for news. My neighbor, Andre, did my trading in town for the few items Bird and I needed, but he brought back only tidbits of local information.

Ides leaned against his father’s leg after we claimed chairs on the porch. Gabe sat on the steps drawing shapes in the dirt with a stick. Ten minutes into the conversation, I began to understand how drastically things had changed during the years I’d been absent.

The Mead had long been a way station for the stagecoach. Now I learned the line had been driven out of business by a railroad spur running between Fort Ramson and Yanube City. The locomotive travelled the hundred-fifty miles in something over four hours; the stagecoach the stagecoach had taken the better part of two days to cover the same distance. Of course, the horse-drawn conveyance didn’t create prairie fires as the train’s wood-burning firebox occasionally did. The locomotive’s cow catcher had swept up half a dozen bovines and two mules, according to Gideon.

Pa–more likely Ma–had made up for the loss of income from the defunct coach company by setting up an open-sided shelter near the railroad tracks. The train’s engineers had taken to halting for free coffee and cool water. The passengers paid for their drinks and little parcels of food Ma and Jane Appleton sold them. Gideon told me people in the shallow valley along the Yanube River had begun to gather at the spot to catch rides on the locomotive. They’d even started calling it Mead Station.

To take further advantage of the iron horse’s appearance in the Yanube Valley, Pa and Crow Johnson, the Absaroka who worked the Mead’s smithy, traveled south to the Little Island Mountains to cut wood for the fireboxes. Ma’s brothers, my uncles Jacob and Christian Jacobsen, hauled river water for the boilers to the siding in a wagon-mounted metal tank Crow had fashioned.

Gideon let me know both Ma and Pa had taken Matthew’s death hard, each in a different way. I understood what he meant. Pa, a full-blood son of Cut Hand, the last chieftain of our tiospaye, our band, had a firmer understanding of the Warrior Road. Ma’s Danish roots were far enough removed from her Viking ancestors that she considered such a life needlessly reckless.

It was only when my brother-in-law told of the murder of an army lieutenant that I finally understood the purpose of the sheriff’s visit four days ago. The intent of the strange question he’d put to Bird and me also became clear, sending a quiver of anxiety down my back.

*****

 Sounds like an interesting historical novel to me. If you like it, email Dreamspinnerpress.com and ask them to consider publication. They published his first novel, Cut Hand, but not his second, third, fourth, or fifth in the series. Mark likes contact with his readers, and can be reached at markwildyr@aol.com. His blog is at markwidlry.com.

Once again, thanks, Mark.

 The following are buy links for my BJ Vinson mystery The Voxlightner Scandal. The next one, The Cutie-Pie Murders,

 Dreamspinner: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-voxlightner-scandal-by-don-travis-11285-b

DSP Publications: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-voxlightner-scandal-by-don-travis-537-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Voxlightner-Scandal-Vinson-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07VL33P99

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-voxlightner-scandal-don-travis/1132632844?ean=9781640809260

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/the-voxlightner-scandal/id1473985039?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=H3ilDwAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-voxlightner-scandal

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/4AxPDo

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

 My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old dontravis21@gmail.com.

 Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

 Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:

 https://www.dsppublications.com/books/abaddons-locusts-by-don-travis-486-b

https://www.dsppublications.com/books/abaddons-locusts-by-don-travis-487-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Abaddons-Locusts-Vinson-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07JLHKJLY

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/abaddons-locusts/id1439968525

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/abaddon-s-locusts

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=R0Z0DwAAQBAJ

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abaddons-locusts-don-travis/1129769593

 See you next Thursday.

 

Don

 New posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

WASTELAKAPI… Beloved, a Guest Post by Mark Wildyr

 dontravis.com blog post #408


 
A shout out to my readers from Hong Kong, who still led the pack last week. Russia had moved into second place the last time I checked, and stateside readers came in third.

 This week, my fellow Okie, Mark Wildyr, is posting the preface and first chapter to his fifth Strobaw Family Saga series called Wastelakapi… Beloved. Wastelakapi is the Lakota word for beloved… ergo, the title.


End of Trail (statue)/ Courtesy of Enwikipedia.com

                                                                                *****

WASTELAKAPI… BELOVED

By Mark Wildyr

 We wither like weeds before flames.

Oppressors herd us to far patches of barren ground.

Drums fall silent in misery.

Flutes become forlorn.

 

Stanza from the poem, Echoes of the Flute, by Mark Wildyr.

 

Prologue

 

The Moon of Hard Winter (November) 1891, Turtle Crick Farm, South Dakota

He managed to fumble his way through the ordinary hours, functioning well enough to reclaim his farm and work the smithy. But his days no longer raised the grand lust for life they once evoked. At odd times, he found himself staring at his medicine bag without realizing he’d taken the tiny sack holding a bit of his umbilical cord and a lock of Shambling Bear’s hair from its customary place nestled against his sore heart.

The appearance of moonglow inevitably conjured images of his Other Self, who had been taken from him in the hours between the death of 1890 and the birth of the new year. Specters from that recent past crowded his nocturnal dreams and gripped him so firmly he feared ghost sickness had infected his mind.

The simple extinguishing of his lamp upon retiring opened his splintered brain to the past, to reliving boundless love and crippling loss. Visions of the massacre at Wounded Knee and the conflict at Drexel Mission made real the gunfire and blood and slaughter. The stink of black powder and the musk of shredded entrails came near to suffocating him. The crash of cannon and the bark of rifles vied with the cries of dying men, women, and children to haunt the shadowed corners of his bedchamber.

Better than ten months of the new year, as whites counted time, had run their course before he rose from his bed in the dark of night. The unsteady light of the candle he’d lit mirrored his shaky resolve. He paused, exhibiting uncharacteristic indecision. Eventually, he shuffled through the great room–still warm and redolent of spicy stew and yeasty bread–to enter another where the flickering glow of the wick’s flame revealed a striking young man sleeping peacefully. Even as the watcher’s blood heightened, his intent faltered.

He would have backed away and returned to his solitary bed had not the handsome sleeper awakened at that crucial moment. Recognition replaced confusion in those brown, soulful eyes. Then understanding, the man on the bed swept back the covers and murmured a single Lakota word.

“Wastelakapi!”

Beloved.

 

Chapter 1

Six Months Earlier, April 1891, Turtle Crick Farm, South Dakota

Winter Bird spotted the riders first. At his whistle, I reined in the plow horse and followed his gaze. The horsemen did not appear to be uniformed, so they weren’t army. That was good. The sight of six bluecoats would not have been tolerable at the moment. Recollections of death and mayhem were too raw. Still, half a dozen riders of any sort pounding toward the farm portended nothing promising.

After trailing Bird to the porch, I waved a warning as he picked up his rifle. We needed our weapons at hand but ought not to be brandishing them when this group rode into the yard. As we stood side-by-side on the porch, he leaned his Winchester against the railing near my Henry.

“You recognize them, John?” he asked.

“Nay, not yet.”

The horses were almost to the bridge over Turtle Crick before I identified Sheriff Charles Landreth as the man leading the muster. My stomach churned. He’d been holding a six-gun on me the last time we talked. The riders pulled up in a cloud of dust.

The sheriff, a lanky man with legs too long for the rest of him, cultivated a thick, grizzled mustache flowing out of his nostrils to conceal his upper lip. The lawman walked his mount close enough to drive me back a step. The animal was a beautiful white with black rigging. I hadn’t seen this ride before. Of course, I’d not gazed on Landreth in nearly six years. His badge had apparently survived Statehood as it now read “Sheriff of Gadsby County.” Honoring that crooked, English magistrate, Julius Gadsby, with a county named after him came near to making me ill.

The Sheriff nodded. “John Strobaw. Thought we was done with you. Heard you was back.” He paused, but I didn’t respond. “You’re like a lame gelding that shows up at every horse trade.”

The word “gelding” snagged my attention.

“At least we got rid of Brandt,” he said. “Or so I hear, anyways.”

My gorge rose until I realized he was deliberately provoking me. I’d never dealt this man a penny’s worth of trouble, so there was no reason for ending up on his wrong side but one: he could not abide Indians.

“How come you didn’t have the good grace to catch a bullet like Brandt?” he went on.

I stared rudely into his pale, mean eyes. “Shambling Bear’s time was up. Mine wasn’t.”

“Shambling Bear. So that was his Injun name, huh?” He turned to my companion. “Who’s this ‘un? Wait a minute, I know you. I run you outa town a couple a times. You that buck that did some trading with Mr. Brown down at the Emporium.”

Bird’s black eyes were hooded, but his answer was an easy, “I am Winter Bird.”

“Ain’t you supposed to be on a reservation?”

“I hired him to help out since my brother’s not with me now. The farm and my cattle operation are too much for one man.” It pained me to refer to Matthew Brandt as my brother. I wanted to proudly proclaim he had been my life-mate and lover, but that would serve none of us well.

“Don’t see no cattle.”

“I’ll be buying when next month’s calf crop’s on the ground.”

“After all the troubles, you got money for that?” As if to reinforce his point about the recent hostilities, his gaze wandered to the stone house looming over him. “Bit grander’n what stood here before the cavalry burned you out. I hear the family at Teacher’s Mead come and rebuilt it while you was hiding out on the reservation.”

The comment about “hiding out,” nearly swamped my self-discipline, but I held my tongue. The part about the house was true. My whole family had come to rebuild the farm buildings out of rock quarried near Teacher’s Mead. Unlike wood, rock doesn’t burn. Landreth’s next words brought me alert.

“You ever heard tell of a Injun called Medicine Hair?”

His mention of the name was a surprise. Not many white men knew of it. No use putting this off. I’d have to face it sooner or later. “Some call me that.”

“I figgered. Cause of that yella hair mixed in with the black, I reckon. Looks like big medicine to the heathens, don’t it?”

All my life, stray strands of my ma’s yellow hair had mingled with pa’s black, marking me as different. With a conscious effort, I moved my mind from the hate-filled man in front of me to the faint, dry aroma of creek bed cottonwoods riding a western breeze. The odor brought an appreciation of the dawning spring and the rich smell of freshly turned earth. I could almost imagine tender new shoots rising like new-born infants from mother earth.

“I hear you bossed one of them bands at Wounded Knee.” Landreth’s tone hovered between a question and an avowed fact.

“Then you heard wrong.”

“That so? You know a place called Rivers Bend?”

My stomach rolled. Landreth was better informed than I thought. And if he knew these things, so did the army. “That’s where I lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation for five years. And yes, I was head man there.”

He allowed an uneasy silence to grow before saying something strange. “You know the war’s over and done with, don’t you?”

The intensity of his voice gave me pause. “Yes, Sheriff, I recognize that.”

He shifted attention to Bird. “How ‘bout you?”

My friend shot a puzzled glance my direction before answering. “The war’s done.”

It seemed for a moment Landreth was going to pursue the subject but instead, he back-walked the white and turned away, nodding in Winter Bird’s direction. “I’ll check with the military about this buck. You’ll be hearing from me again if I don’t like what I hear.”

My friend was on the nettle as the sheriff and his men thundered across the wooden bridge. I was a little disturbed, as well. Landreth hadn’t made the seven-mile trip from Yanube City just to check up on me. Likely he’d heard there was another Indian on the place and wanted to make sure he hadn’t been given bad information about Matthew’s death. He didn’t need five men at his back to determine that; they were just to impress me that his interest wasn’t benign. The man’s hate ran deep, making me wonder at the cause of it. Lots of white folks didn’t like Indians, but Landry’s loathing had a keen edge to it.

But what was that baffling question about the war being done? And the comment about a gelding? Had he somehow learned of the man-love Matthew and I shared? I slapped the porch railing and tripped down the steps.

What did I care, anyway? This wasn’t living. Simply existing. Waiting. My heart waited to cease beating. My mind waited to awaken or perhaps go totally dark. My limbs waited to reclaim everyday skills. The whole of me seemed suspended as I drifted through each day accomplishing mundane tasks but tackling none of consequence.

It had been thus ever since the terrible, bloody slaughter at Wounded Knee and the battle at Drexel Mission where the better part of me, the bigger, stronger part of me, had been slain some four moons past.

Matthew Brandt–nay, Shambling Bear, since he died a warrior and not a farmer–fell along with hundreds of others to the murderous fire of the Seventh Cavalry but refused to die until we reached the supposed sanctuary of Drexel Mission. Why had I not been struck as I stood alongside him when a bullet tore into his chest? Why hadn’t I been taken instead of him?

After the Army’s indiscriminate slaughter of our people at that terrible place, Winter Bird and I had fought our way through a three-day blizzard to bring Matthew home. My shock at discovering Pa and the family had traveled fifty miles from Teacher’s Mead to rebuild the farm almost undid me. I’d last cast eyes on nothing but charred ruins after the army fired the place in late ’85 and drove us west to meet Bear’s destiny in a desolate gully on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The faith this demonstrated that I would survive the war was almost overwhelming, given what occurred, but there was no question my mother had been the driving force behind that effort.

What little interest I had in living each day was due to Winter Bird’s quiet strength and gentle encouragement. My friend had lost everything in those same tragic hours: home, family – his very way of life. While I had suffered a devastating blow, there were yet kith and kin to lend me support. Still, I seemed weighed down by my thirty-two years while Bird, who had not yet seen his thirtieth, buttressed me every minute of every day.

I, John Joseph Strobaw, endowed with the honorable names of War Eagle, Night Sky Hair, and Medicine Hair must surely stand revealed as a hapless weakling.

 *****

 It was a long passage, but I couldn’t bring myself to chop it off. I hope you enjoyed the reading. If you did, consider purchasing his first in the series, CUT HAND, from Dreamspinner Press. Mark likes contact with his readers and can be reached at markwildyr@aol.com. His blog is at markwildyr.com.

Thanks, Mark.

The following are buy links for my BJ Vinson mystery The Voxlightner Scandal. The next one, The Cutie-Pie Murders,

Dreamspinner: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-voxlightner-scandal-by-don-travis-11285-b

DSP Publications: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-voxlightner-scandal-by-don-travis-537-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Voxlightner-Scandal-Vinson-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07VL33P99

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-voxlightner-scandal-don-travis/1132632844?ean=9781640809260

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/the-voxlightner-scandal/id1473985039?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=H3ilDwAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-voxlightner-scandal

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/4AxPDo

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old dontravis21@gmail.com.

Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:

https://www.dsppublications.com/books/abaddons-locusts-by-don-travis-486-b

https://www.dsppublications.com/books/abaddons-locusts-by-don-travis-487-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Abaddons-Locusts-Vinson-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07JLHKJLY

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/abaddons-locusts/id1439968525

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/abaddon-s-locusts

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=R0Z0DwAAQBAJ

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abaddons-locusts-don-travis/1129769593

See you next Thursday.

 

Don

New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Neighbor


dontravis.com blog post #407

Pretty good reception for @Uncle Evan last week. Readers from Hong Kong still led the pack.

Let’s see what they think about this week’s submission.

 



Courtesy of pickpik.com

*****

THE NEIGHBOR

 

The guy caught my attention the day after I came home from University at the end of my junior year. Probably about thirty, he was the original model for “tall, dark, and handsome.” And I do mean handsome! In all modesty, I’m sort of a specialist on “handsome.” And although I didn’t give in to my hunger… well, except for once… until my freshman year at the U up in Albuquerque, I knew from the time my voice broke I was different. I grew up in this little town of about three thousand in the southwest corner of New Mexico…not quite in the bootheel, but close…where that sort of hunger was a no-no. Not only that, but being caught indulging it could get a fellow ostracized, maimed… or even killed.

Not that it was much of a problem down here. Wasn’t another gay in the county, much less the town that I knew of. I used to tell myself I just hadn’t met them, but I’m not so sure I believe that any longer. Statistically, there were others. If half the town was male, and half of that half were over the age of puberty, there were seven hundred fifty in the possibility pool. I’d seen statistics that said up to ten percent of them should be gay. That would mean there were seventy-four others around town, and that was pure bullshit! Wasn’t any way seventy-four guys could hide that from me because I’m a people watcher. That’s why I claim to be a specialist on “handsome.”

This was ranching country, and during summers I worked at the cattle barn and had attended a whole bunch of rodeos, so I knew cowboys had a special kind of handsome. They had an air that made them desirable hunks of man-flesh even when they weren’t that good looking in the face. But when they were… wowee! Watch out! There was so much testosterone floating around down here, a sensitive guy about suffocated in it. Of course, the cowpokes I knew would rather plant a spur on your butt than give what I was looking for. And they had plenty of both. I’d seen those guys “getting it on” on back roads, in haystacks, on the beach at the county’s one lake… crap, standing in an alley behind a bar. Only trouble was, they were all making it with girls.

Being damned near on the border, we had a steady stream of immigrants coming through from Mexico, and some of those young guys could tempt a fire and brimstone preacher. Lots of them are downright pretty until they grow out of it. My one time before college that I mentioned came when I stumbled on an illegal kid who got separated from his coyote and was kinda bad off from thirst. I bargained a canteen of water for a little “getting it on” of my own, and while he wasn’t very good at it, it was infinitely better than the one time I tried it with a girl. That incident confirmed my orientation for me as clearly as if the kid had been Polaris leading me north! And when I got there… Albuquerque is north to us down-staters… I found lots of guys who thought like me.

Anyway that’s how come I noticed our new neighbor and why I’m qualified to positively swear he’s the most handsome man in our part of the state. Everyone was curious about the guy. According to my folks, he just showed up one day and rented the house next door that had been empty since old Ms. Wallingford died. Supposed to be a writer of some sort and kept to himself a lot. He’d nod or speak if you spoke first, but he avoided everyone’s eyes otherwise.

Eyes. Let’s talk about his eyes for a minute. Big. Brown. Fringed with long, long lashes. I’ve heard of doe eyes before, and man that’s what they were. Big and soulful. The day I first saw him, he came out of the house to pick up his morning paper and returned my greeting with a nod. I stared into those eyes for a second and thought how great it would be to plant a kiss on each one.

After I’d been back in town for a couple of weeks, I came home from work at the barn and saw him in his yard working on a sprinkler head. He squatted facing away from me, and the polo shirt stretched across his shoulders gave me a good view of the muscles playing up and down his back as he worked. Man, who’d have thought he was built like that? But he was. I was standing there gaping when he turned around and caught me staring.

He rose gracefully and planted a smile on his lips. A nice smile. Nice lips. “Hi, I’m David. I take it we’re neighbors.”

I slammed the pickup door behind me and crossed the lawn to offer him a hand. “Bart. Nice to meet you, David.”

His grip was firm and warm. After a moment, he released my hand. “You know anything about sprinkler heads?”

“Fiddled with them all my life.”

He held out his wrench. “Appreciate it if you’d fiddle with this one. I grew up in a city and have no experience.” He gave that sexy smile again. “And apparently no talent.”

“Sure.”

I’m not sure why, but I got the feeling he was studying me as much as I had studied him as I bent over the task. The repair was simple and didn’t take much time. It was the wrong wrench for the job, but I made it work.

“Thanks,” he said as I stood. His gaze swept me for a long moment, taking in my denims and western boots. “Cowboy?”

“Nah. Work summers at the cattle barn. So I’m around them all the time.”

I got the feeling he was going to say something, but he just nodded. Another little moment developed as we scanned one another’s feature.

“Well,” David said. “I owe you for the sprinkler. I’ve got some ribs barbecuing on the back patio. Six o’clock be okay?”

“Sure. That’ll give me time to shower and clean up.”

“Perfect,” he said as he turned away and started for his open garage door. I stood and watched until he paused before entering to give me another long look. And a big smile.

That sent me racing inside the house. I only had about forty minutes to get ready for those ribs. And I knew without a doubt those baby back ribs weren’t the only ones that would get barbecued this evening.

 *****

 Well, which is better: vampires, nuclear destruction, or this sort of nonsense. Let me know what you think.

 The following are buy links for my BJ Vinson mystery The Voxlightner Scandal. The next one, The Cutie-Pie Murders,

 Dreamspinner: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-voxlightner-scandal-by-don-travis-11285-b

DSP Publications: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-voxlightner-scandal-by-don-travis-537-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Voxlightner-Scandal-Vinson-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07VL33P99

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-voxlightner-scandal-don-travis/1132632844?ean=9781640809260

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/the-voxlightner-scandal/id1473985039?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=H3ilDwAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-voxlightner-scandal

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/4AxPDo

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

 My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old dontravis21@gmail.com.

 Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

 Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:

 

https://www.dsppublications.com/books/abaddons-locusts-by-don-travis-486-b

https://www.dsppublications.com/books/abaddons-locusts-by-don-travis-487-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Abaddons-Locusts-Vinson-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07JLHKJLY

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/abaddons-locusts/id1439968525

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/abaddon-s-locusts

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=R0Z0DwAAQBAJ

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abaddons-locusts-don-travis/1129769593

 See you next Thursday.

 

Don

 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.


Thursday, September 10, 2020

@Uncle Evan

 dontravis.com blog post #406


 
I guess Hong Kongers (Hong Kongites?) are really taken with Vampires because they led the field (10 to 1) over everyone else throughout the presentation of “The Prescient.” Russians stayed up there but fell to third place over readers from the good old USA by the final episode.

 This week, a bit of nonsense totally different from vampire stories. Well, come to think of it…


            Courtesy of pxhere.com

 *****

@UNCLE EVAN

There was no Uncle Evan—at least in my life. I’m a seventeen-year-old named Marty Evans who made him up out of whole cloth and posted on Twitter @UncleEvan. After all, who pays attention to a high schooler, and I wanted a voice.

Everyone tells me I’m smart as a whip, but I quibble with that because while a whip can smart, it’s not smart itself. But I’m wandering off the mark—one of my faults, they tell me. They who? Well, my mom and dad and my teachers, and….

Oops, back to Uncle Evan. I was just thirsty, you know, wanted to be heard, so I dreamed up this older, wiser—but probably not smarter—dude and twittered away. Wow! It was dope, you know... great. I started taking shots at all kinda things and prompted some responses. First thing I knew, I had a thousand followers, and it grew from there. So I tackled bigger things… like, for instance, why the hell were American troops still in Germany? Wasn’t the occupation over?

The morning after that post, I was breakfasting on oatmeal and turkey bacon when my ears perk up at something on a newscast. Big Pudgy up in Washington announced he was withdrawing troops from Germany. Man, I never saw eye to eye with the head honcho on anything, so what was up? Personally, I considered him a basic gasbag, but he was still the Gasbag in Charge. Made me wonder if he’d locked onto my tweet. Nah. Long odds on that happening.

Right after breakfast, I sat down at the desk in my bedroom and booted up the computer. TBH, not much else to do, locked down by all this virus crap like we were. A bunch of hooey in my opinion, and I said as much in a twit.

The next morning?  You guessed it. Dumpy was on the tube capping about the pandemic when he said it right out loud. Hooey and a hoax. He’d already claimed the virus was a hoax a whole bunch of times, but he’d never said “hooey and a hoax” like he did today. Holy crap! Was the guy reading my tweets after all?

Life suddenly became more interesting. And like a typical teenager, I went over the top. I tweeted about the wall, and he virtually dittoed me. I blathered about the Ukraine, and it became his opinion. I said the COVID-19 virus would magically disappear, and his response to that one sent a thrill down my back.

Big Cheese stood at a podium, fat fingers clenching the sides as if holding himself up, and surveyed the room through eyes that didn’t seem to have much behind them.

“One of these days,” he declared, “the virus will disappear. And soon. Like magic. Poof… and it’s gone. That’s what they say, you know. That’s what Uncle Evan says. You know Uncle Evan, don’t you? A wise man. Great tweets. I think he’s a doctor or something.”

My head about exploded. Shade turned to shadow! He quoted me. As his source. Wise man that I was, I snickered and reached for my cell. I’d not told any of my squad about @UncleEvan, but this was too big to hold inside. When my BF Jamie Hughes answered my call, he flat out dissed me until he broke isolation and snuck out of hi house to crawl through my bedroom window.

After checking out the site for himself, he exclaimed, “Damn, you his Secretary of Twitter or something?”

“Might as well be.”

Jamie’s face turned sour, and some of the exhilaration of the moment evaporated. “Maybe you oughta be more careful.”

“Like how?”

“Well, like about the virus. It’s not hooey, you know.”

Impatient with common sense, I dismissed his caution. “He’d already said that a hundred times.”

“Yeah, but now he’s quoting you as a source.”

“You’re just green ‘cause he’s not quoting you.”

“Yeah, right.”

Two days later, as I sat watching the evening news with my father, the reporter interrupted himself with “breaking news.” That one always got to me. How did news break? It happened, and then it’s still there totally whole and undamaged. But I’m off again.

The Talking Head on TV said that two American troops had been killed in an ambush by Iranian-backed militias over in the Middle East. My dad turned red in the face and let out an oath that brought my mother running from the kitchen. She managed to get him calmed down, and although I didn’t say much at the time, I was impressed with his outburst. I guess veterans of the Iraq War like him couldn’t take news like that sitting down.

As I prepared to go to bed that night, I paused before shutting off my computer. Recalling my father’s reaction, I opened Uncle Evan’s twitter account and punched in two words. “Nuke ‘em.” I paused a moment before hitting the send button. Big Buttercup would probably see it, but even he wasn’t dipsey enough to take Uncle Evan seriously about that. Nah, no way.

My cell went off at eight the next morning, long before I was ready to get out of bed and face another Groundhog Day.

“Marty, you idiot, what have you done!” Jamie yelled into my ear.

“Whadda ya mean?” I asked through a cloud of sleep.

“Turn on the news!”

I did, and my heart froze.

OMG!

*****

 The bit of nonsense you just read (at least I pray it’s nonsense) was prompted by a newscast claiming our man in-Charge is unduly influenced by certain “voices” that align with his own thinking… regardless of how informed or authoritative such “voices” are. So I got to wondering….

 The following are buy links for my BJ Vinson mystery The Voxlightner Scandal. The next one, The Cutie-Pie Murders,

 Dreamspinner: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-voxlightner-scandal-by-don-travis-11285-b

DSP Publications: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/the-voxlightner-scandal-by-don-travis-537-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Voxlightner-Scandal-Vinson-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07VL33P99

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-voxlightner-scandal-don-travis/1132632844?ean=9781640809260

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/the-voxlightner-scandal/id1473985039?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=H3ilDwAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-voxlightner-scandal

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/4AxPDo

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

 My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old dontravis21@gmail.com.

 Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

Twitter: @dontravis3

 Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:

 https://www.dsppublications.com/books/abaddons-locusts-by-don-travis-486-b

https://www.dsppublications.com/books/abaddons-locusts-by-don-travis-487-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Abaddons-Locusts-Vinson-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07JLHKJLY

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/abaddons-locusts/id1439968525

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/abaddon-s-locusts

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=R0Z0DwAAQBAJ

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abaddons-locusts-don-travis/1129769593

 See you next Thursday.

 Don

 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. Mountain time.

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