Thursday, July 27, 2023

Chapter 4 of The Eagle’s Claw – A Guest Post blog post #610



Last week, Don Morgan, a fellow Okie, posted Chapter 3 of his novel The Eagle’s Claw. Today, we’ll see part of Chapter 4. The narrative is rather long, but I hope you’ll stay with it to the end.




By Donald T. Morgan

Chapter 4

Blood and gore from the Chandler boy’s dead horse gunked Román’s arms all the way to the elbows. His grandmother had roused him early to beat the sun to Blind Man’s Arroyo, hoping to reach Pedro before predators did. Once the horse was butchered, they hauled heavy chunks of meat on a travois back to the gowa where they jerked what they couldn’t eat right away.

The sun was at its high point before his grandmother got around to cooking a meal. As soon as they finished eating, she told him to wash up and go to the white man’s ranch.

He bolted outside, claiming he had to go for his run. She couldn’t object to that. She was the one who insisted he “train” every morning. Nobody else did, but then no one else had a grandmother who lived in the past.

At the base of the yellow-hued bluff that gave Rising Rock its name, he went into a loose-limbed trot to warm his muscles before breaking into a run. In his mind’s eye, others raced alongside him on this steep path where he imagined the Ancients had ascended from the underworld. They’d fought the Indah in these mountains. Indah—the outsider, the enemy. Once, that was anybody who wasn’t one of the People. Now it meant the white man.

The trail reached a hogback and dropped into a shallow canyon before looping back to the south. Pride demanded his ragged, rubber-soled sneakers beat the same steady rhythm at the end of his race with the sun as at the beginning. Upon re-entering the glade, he paused to peek through the door of the wickiup. His grandmother was gone.

Still huffing slightly, Román considered hiding out instead of going to the ranch house. He could claim the man hadn’t given him anything. That was no good. He had a strong hide-behind-face, but she could see through it every time. Surrendering, he rinsed away sweat and blood with water from a pot and walked down the rutted wagon road to the small meadow where he’d hobbled the mare last night.

Great piles of eiderdown clouds mushroomed high over the Chacons, an uncertain promise of a break in the weather, as the paint slipped into her easiest gait. Román placed a hand over his flat belly, exploring the hard knot that grew with each step. Yesterday there’d been a need. Today he could think of a hundred reasons not to go to the white man’s house.

Once he turned off the highway onto the gravel road, the ranch headquarters loomed before him. He reined in and stared. The big, white building must be like living in the Reformed Church down in the settlement. He tried to match the house to the man he’d seen yesterday. That hadn’t been a hiding man. Must be the woman who wanted to live in a fortress.

If the rancher didn’t give him a trinket, he’d have to swipe something for Cane-Woman. And if the man wanted his flashlight back, he’d have to steal it from his grandmother. They were turning him into a thief. He made his lips a firm, straight line and set his expression. Ready now, he kicked the paint into a walk.

A clock chimed from somewhere inside the house as he dismounted and dusted his jeans. A sly glance at the big, black car in the drive revealed the skinny, dark-haired girl he’d noticed yesterday perched on one sleek fender watching him intently.

“I saw you yesterday. You’re Román aren’t you? My name’s Teresa. Why did you just sit there on your horse? Took you forever to come down the drive. Doesn’t your horse know how to trot? Princess does. Princess is my pony. She’s a buckskin.”

Didn’t the girl ever take a breath?

“You don’t talk much. You talk American?”

Her monologue left him flustered, but he wasn’t about to let her see. She was an addle-brain who didn’t know any better than to chatter at strangers.

“I’ve been waiting for you for simply hours. Daddy said to bring you inside when you showed up, so come on.”

“Inside?” His gut churned like a mare in foal.

“Course. You don’t expect them to come out here, do you?” She dashed away, banging the screen behind her. Román staggered up the steps but ran out of steam at the door. She reappeared, an impatient look on her angular face. “Come on! What’s the matter with you?”

The room was big and airy, not dark and dank like he’d figured. Pictures hung on the walls. The rug, as thick and soft as a buffalo robe, would make a good place to sleep. He stayed on the girl’s heels until she skipped through an open door and announced he was here.

Rigor mortis attacked his muscles; stupefaction, his brain. The impulse to run came too late. Mr. Chandler loomed before him.

“Hello, Román. We’re glad you came by.”

He doesn’t talk, Daddy.” She turned to her yellow-haired mother. “Really, Mommy.”

“Hush, child.” The woman sat in what must have been the biggest chair in the world with an open book on her lap. She was awful old to be studying like some school kid.

The girl stared at him rudely. “You act like a foreigner.”

“You’ll have to excuse her,” the rancher said. “She’s forgotten her manners.”

He already knew that. Román was glad he didn’t have a candy-stick sister like this one. She yammered like a cross squirrel as they followed her parents upstairs.

The white boy sprawled on a huge bed in a room bigger than Cane-Woman’s wickiup. The injured boy had thrown the covers back to reveal trousers that looked so soft and flimsy they’d rip if he tried to sit saddle. The right pant leg had been hacked off to accommodate a big cast. Román nearly giggled at the sight of five pink toes poking out of white plaster.

“This is the rascal who caused all the commotion last night,” Mr. Chandler said. “Román, meet Paul.”

The boy on the bed grinned despite pain lines framing his broad mouth. “Thanks for coming to the rescue.” Paul shot a hooded glance at his father. “Wasn’t supposed to be over there, so they wouldn’t have found me till buzzards started circling.” The white boy gave him a look. “How come you didn’t say anything when I saw you up on the bank of the arroyo?”

“He still doesn’t,” Teresa said.

Her brother ignored her. “Why didn’t you let me know you were going for help?”

When Román answered with a shrug, the little girl simpered. “See, what did I tell you?”

Mr. Chandler cut in. “Well, everything came out all right. Paul, don’t you have something…?”

Paul burrowed under his pillow and pulled out a small box. “Here, this is for you.”

The reward he had come for. But he was struck dumb. He couldn’t move. Teresa shoved his arm. “Go on, open it. It’s real neat. Wish I had one.”

Román lifted the lid on the box holding a gleaming band of silver inlaid with sky blue turquoise, faultless except for a delicate copper webbing.

 “It’s a friendship ring.” Paul lifted a silver chain hanging around his neck.  “There’s only two of them just alike. And see, I’ve got the other one. Means we’re friends.”

The blonde woman spoke up. “There’s a chain in the box so you can wear it around your neck until it fits.”

Teresa went into a pout. “How come I can’t have one? Can’t I be friends too, Daddy?”

“We’ll see, honey.”

Román turned his new treasure over in his hand. For sure, Cane-Woman would take it long before the ring fit his finger. Mrs. Chandler looped the gleaming circlet through the chain. Her fingernails—red as wild strawberries—tickled his neck as she fastened the clasp.

“It sure is pretty.” He knew from teachers at school the whites liked you to take on over their things.

“Aw, it’s nothing,” Paul said. “Sit down and talk to me. I get bored doing nothing all day.”

“I come play with you,” Teresa said.

“Big deal. Paper dolls yet. Come on, sit down.”

All Román wanted was escape, but he collapsed on the nearest chair when Mr. Chandler applied pressure to his shoulder. As the others drifted out of the room, Paul settled back on his pillows and indicated a plate on a bedside table.

“Have a cookie.” He made a face. “Mom makes good ones, but she still has trouble getting sugar, so they’re not as sweet as I like them.”

Román took one and thought it tasted great. Then he sat woodenly, his eyes darting around to inspect model cars and airplanes lining shelves on the walls and hanging from the ceiling… until the questions started. Whites always asked questions. Where did he live? Did he have brothers? The white boy was as rude as his sister. Soon Paul knew he was orphaned and lived with his grandmother in a gowa. Román glanced at the radio beside the bed when somebody started crooning about a prisoner of love.

“You dig Perry Como?”

“Who?” Did the kid know he wiggled his toes when he talked?

“Perry Como. The guy singing. Teresa says she’s gonna marry him someday.”

Then the Indah boy started in on his name, pronouncing it a couple of times and asking if it was Spanish. “It’s a killer-diller name, but I’m gonna call you Ro, okay?”

“Guess so.” Could one person steal another’s soul by changing his name? What would the kid think if he knew Román was really Roan Orphan, a name no white man would ever hear.

The brown machine on the table started in on “I Love You for Sentimental Reasons.” He knew that one. Somebody called Nat King Cole sang it on a portable radio at the schoolyard.

Paul must’ve got tired of trying to steal his mind and decided to play a game. He hauled out a checkerboard and started teaching Román something called chess. He had no idea what the kid was babbling about, but he wasn’t about to sit through it again. When it was clear he was lost, Paul backed up and went over the rules once more.

Román grasped the mechanics of the game but didn’t make much sense of it until he looked upon the little gadgets as warriors. Even then, the Indah boy ended up winning. Like in real life.

Finally, Mr. Chandler came to the doorway. “Can I borrow your guest a minute?”

Román jumped up; Paul made a face. “Okay, but come right back.”

He trailed the rancher down the stairs and out to the corral where Mr. Chandler nodded to two ponies. “Aren’t they beauties? Fine stock, good build, recently broke. The black’s to replace the pony we had to shoot.”

What would the white man think if he knew most of Pedro ended up in their wickiup?

“And the chestnut is yours.”

His hide-behind-face cracked. “Mine?”

Mr. Chandler indicated leather hanging over the corral fence. “And there’s a new bridle and saddle. You can take them with you when you leave.”

This would take some thinking. Cane-Woman would trade the horse before the next sunset. He stalled, claiming he’d have to fix a place for the pony. The rancher told him to leave the horse in the corral until he was ready to take him home.

Román glanced to the west and was surprised to see the sun about to drop over the horizon. His grandmother would be fretting over the reward. Besides, he had some planning to do. The ring was one thing, but he’d put up a fight for the horse.

“I gotta go.” He almost forgot his manners. “Thank you, sir.”

“You’re welcome, son. Why don’t you say goodbye to Paul before you go.”

The white boy wasn’t willing to let things end that easily. “Come back tomorrow, okay?” Román shook his head. Paul worried his lower lip between his teeth. “Well, how about the next day?” When Román stood mute, he frowned. “Well, sometime this week. I’m gonna be stuck here forever.”

A bubble building in Román’s chest burst in a flurry of words. “Can’t come back. She won’t let me.” He was doing this wrong. Why wouldn’t they let him work it out for himself?

“But the gelding, son,” Mr. Chandler said. “What about him?”

His heart stuttered in his chest. He’d been stupid and lost the big horse.

“Well, let’s see what tomorrow brings,” the rancher added. “We’ll work something out.”

The room closed around him. The air thickened. He bolted. Fleeing down the stairs in a headlong rush, he shot through the front door. Only when he was on the paint did Román glance back. The rancher and the little girl watched from the porch.

The sun abandoned the sky, and a single blue-white diamond popped out overhead. The paint pranced homeward, inspired to a faster pace by the cool air and a second helping of grass from the white man’s yard. Román fingered the silver and turquoise ring suspended around his neck on a thin chain.


Don’t know about you, but I’m snared. Please let Don know what you think.

Stay safe and stay strong.

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

A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



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

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Chapter 3 of The Eagle’s Claw – A Guest Post blog post #610

 Apparently no one’s worried about AI in the future of creative arts other than me and SAG (AI protection is one of their demands in their strike). No responses from readers.


Oh, well, we’ll proceed to this week’s business. My buddy Don Morgan in nearing the end of a major revision of his Enovel The Eagle’s Claw, and wants some reader reaction before he seeks commercial publication. He’s asked me to give him the next two weeks for guest posts.


Prior to this, we’ve seen the Prologue, Chapters 1 and 2 some time back. To ground the reader, the novel is the story of Román Otero (personal name Roan Orphan), a young mixed-blood Apache who lives with Cane-Woman, his grandmother who is believed to be a witch) on the fictional Edge of Mountain Reservation in southern New Mexico. He helps rescue the son of owner of the ranch lying just north of the rez, and is now experiencing the push and pull of the two different worlds he represents.  Here’s Chapter 3.




By Donald T. Morgan

Chapter 3

            The moon, a mammoth pearl suspended above the rounded breast of the dark mountains, washed the desert a delicate silver. A breeze sharpened the night air. The mare plodded along the trail home. Busy reliving the last few hours, Román was oblivious to the high desert chill and his rumbling belly.

When he’d found the Indah boy in the arroyo, he’d looked and listened and left without making a sound. A white stranger wasn’t any of his business. Shouldn’t even have been on the reservation. Yet Román had led the paint north to the white house with a red top and faced the rancher like a man, despite the thunderous pounding of his heart and a dry, raspy throat.

The huge house looked as gloomy as a cavern, but he’d liked the cars and fine horses. The yellow-haired woman was pretty, even if she was as pale as a mountain aspen. The little girl had been dark-haired like the tall rancher man.

The old mare entered a clearing in the evergreen forest well beyond other encampments and halted beside a shapeless gowa, what some called a wickiup.

Román discovered the white man’s forgotten flashlight looped around his wrist by a leather strap as he hobbled the mare. He was delivering a stern warning against wandering too far when the mournful cry of a whippoorwill sent ripples up his back. Evil birds, whippoorwills. Fooled around in the night too much. His backside puckered when an owl hooted from the tree above him. Remembering there’d been a death in the village two days ago, he swallowed his lecture and scampered through the flap of the wickiup.

His grandmother sat on a blanket beside the fire pit, her black, knobby cane in her lap. “Better get in here, Roan Orphan. He-Who-Left-Us is fighting hard to come back. Real hard.”

He noted she’d used the personal name she gave him at birth and grunted. A grunt was a useful thing. A listener made one thing of it while sometimes the grunter meant another. Román removed a small cottontail leg from a chest and settled on the blanket. His grandmother eyed the flashlight hanging from his wrist but said nothing.

She had another name, a Spanish one… Tonia Otero. But no one on the reservation called her anything but Cane-Woman. He tried to calculate how old she was. The People had been penned up with their Mescalero cousins and Navajo enemies at the Round Grove years and years and years ago. The old woman had been born on the banks of the Rio Pecos during that bad time. Or that’s what she claimed.

She might look like a parchment-covered mummy with thinning white hair and a mouthful of gums, but he wasn’t fooled. She could still raise a dust devil when she wanted to. Acrid smoke from coals in the fire pit made his nose itch.

Her rheumy eyes, almost hidden by a web of deep wrinkles, rested on him as she steadied the stem of a corncob pipe. “You go hunting today? We gonna eat tomorrow?”

She stared at him so hard he considered going back outside to face the owls and whippoorwills. “I was hunting. But I heard someone yelling for help.” He was soon lost in the telling of his adventure while the old woman listened without moving, except to pull on her pipe. When she finally spoke, it was in her own tongue.

“The Indah rancher scooped out your brains and stole what little sense you had. Tell me where that white boy’s pony fell down. We’ll go fetch it tomorrow. Then you go to that rancher’s house, ’cause he’ll pay you for what you done.”

“Don’t wanna go back.” That sounded suspiciously like rebellion. He shivered. He knew better than to fool around with Cane-Woman, but sometimes he forgot and did it anyway.

“He steal your ears like he done your brains? Do like I say. Go get paid.”

He laid the flashlight on the blanket and claimed he’d already been paid. She made a wet noise with her lips. “That ain’t nothing. He’ll pay you better’n that. Money, most likely. That’s the way they pay for everything.”

“The paper kind?” He’d had coins before, but never bills. Worth a lot of coins.

“What you done was big enough for paper money. Big enough for more’n that, but the white man won’t know no better.”

“Wish he’d give me a rifle. Then I could really hunt.” His mind made other connections. “My father was white, wasn’t he?” Ignoring her sharp look, he persisted. “Tell me about him and my mother. Tell me about the rodeo….” His voice died as the old woman hissed.

“Don’t talk about them that’s forgot. Not tonight. Not after the owls.”

He snorted even as his resolve melted away.

Cane-Woman’s flesh darkened. Veins bulged in her forehead. “Don’t make rude noises, boy. I know things you ain’t gonna learn at that school where you go waste your time.”

He wasn’t afraid of her physically. It was the other thing that put the fear-smell on him. The witch thing. Big Tom Bearclaw claimed those with the Power paid for it with human sacrifice. She had no life to give except her own—or his. He, alone, Cane-Woman called kin, and Big Tom said she’d give him to Eagle one day. Most of the time Román didn’t think about such things, but at moments like this… he wasn’t so sure.

But if Eagle gave her power, why did they go hungry and live in a camp of outcasts? Big Tom in the tipi across the clearing was a peyote shaman who’d stolen the power from another medicine man. Even though the People had avoided him like the pox for years, Tom always knew what was going on in the settlement. Was that witchcraft too?

A crippled-up old man and his wife lived in the little house south of the tipi. Some said the old goat was a bad witch whose medicine arrows got shot back at him. That’s why he was twisted and his woman messed up in the head.

Cane-Woman’s voice startled him. “She-Who-Was-My-Daughter’s gone away. Taken by a devil horse. That’s all you gotta know.” She always avoided speaking directly of her dead offspring. “Go see the rancher man tomorrow. Then don’t go there no more. He-Who-Was-Your-Pa didn’t find no happiness here. And you ain’t gonna find none in the white man’s house.”

He blinked. “I don’t even know the rancher man’s name.”

“Chandler. Name’s Chandler.”

She snatched up the flashlight and made him show her how to turn it on. Waving it in front of her, she spread fresh ashes around the edges of the wickiup and laid sage across the doorway to strengthen protection against ashee… ghosts.

Relieved the storm had passed so easily, Román finished the rabbit leg, flipped the bone into the fire, and carefully wiped greasy hands on his trousers before stretching out on his blankets. Slipping away into sleep, he barely heard her shaky voice.

          “This here’s a right fine light. Expect I’ll keep it.”

         Then he descended into a restless, unsettling dream.


So the push-pull now begins on this ten-year-old boy whose exposure to the white man has heretofore been limited to teachers on the reservation school. The fact his grandmother lives so much in the past doesn’t help… not to mention she’s widely regarded and feared as a witch.

 Please let Don know what you think.

Stay safe and stay strong.

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

A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



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

Thursday, July 13, 2023

AI-What Does It Portend for Writers? blog post #609

 Image Courtesy of Freepik:

 Something a little different this week. I’m coordinating my blog of today—June 13—with that of my Okie writer friend Mark Widyr’s post of June 20.

 An explanation: A mutual writer friend (a good one, by the way—good friend and good writer) recently set off a discussion among our author friends by wondering how AI is—and will—affect the writing community. In pursuit of this, she asked an AI site to write a story about a post-apocalyptic world and a video that went viral in the style of William Faulkner.

 Mark’s post of June 20 will give the identical story generated by the same unnamed AI site written in the style of Ernest Hemmingway. His blogsite is Check it out on the 20th.

  The story the computer generated follows. Please, please, please, I want your feedback on this.



In the desolate wasteland of a post-apocalyptic world, where hope seemed as scarce as water, there existed a curious relic from a bygone era—a video, haunting in its beauty and resonance, that captivated the hearts of the survivors. Its origins were as mysterious as the cataclysm that had befallen humanity, shrouded in the depths of forgotten cyberspace. The video spoke of a forgotten past, a glimpse into a world that had once thrived, a testament to the fragile nature of existence.

 Word of the video spread like wildfire among the survivors, each story more grandiose than the last. Tales of its profound impact on those who watched it carried on the wind, whispered in the hushed conversations of desperate souls. The video became a beacon of light amidst the pervasive darkness—a testament to the indomitable spirit of humanity.

 They spoke of a woman, whose ethereal presence graced the screen, her voice a haunting melody that resonated deep within the recesses of the viewers' souls. She danced through abandoned streets, her movements a testament to the boundless joy that once coursed through the veins of the living. The people, hardened by loss and despair, found solace in her delicate steps and radiant smile. Her very essence breathed life into their hardened hearts, even if only for a fleeting moment.

 The video, accompanied by a hauntingly beautiful melody, transported the viewers to a time long past—a world where laughter echoed through bustling city streets, and children played without fear. It painted a vivid picture of what had been lost, a tapestry of emotions woven with fragments of memories. And yet, there was a bittersweet quality to the video, for it served as a poignant reminder of what could never be reclaimed.

 Rumors circulated about the video's origins. Some believed it to be a creation of divine intervention, a gift from a higher power in an attempt to heal the shattered remnants of humanity. Others speculated that it was the work of a masterful artist, whose talent transcended the boundaries of time and space. The truth, however, remained elusive, and the video's mystery only deepened as it continued to captivate the weary souls of the wasteland.

 As the video spread, its influence began to transcend the boundaries of the survivors' shattered existence. The video became a symbol of hope, a rallying cry for those who dared to dream of a brighter future. It galvanized communities, uniting them under a shared vision of resilience and survival. The very act of watching the video became a communal experience, a thread connecting the scattered remnants of humanity in a tapestry of shared emotion.

 And so, as the world teetered on the edge of oblivion, the video endured—a testament to the indomitable spirit of the human race. It spoke to the depths of their souls, reminding them of the beauty that once was and igniting a flicker of hope within their hearts. In the face of unimaginable darkness, the video whispered a promise—a promise that one day, against all odds, life would flourish once more, and the echoes of the past would guide humanity towards a new dawn.


The impact of AI on our lives has already begun to evidence itself. Some applications promise tremendous benefits for the human race, others might be viewed as risks. Some of my friends who have read these stories feel they have no soul, no feeling to them and point out that were Faulkner and Hemmingway never written, the computer could not imitate their style. To me, that’s little consolation. Unlettered individuals can now create stories that are at least readable without the skills to do so. Merely punch a few buttons on a computer, and there’s a story.

 Furthermore, that is the state of AI in it’s (relative) infancy. What will it be able to do in it’s teens? Adulthood? Zounds and gadzooks! I hesitate to even think such thoughts.

 Please let me know what you think.

Stay safe and stay strong.

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

A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



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

Becky Isn’t Here Anymore (Part 2 of 2 Parts) blog post #608


Poor Chuck, Nirvana slipped between his fingers (is that a tortured metaphor?) with the accidental death of his beloved Becky. But that’s not the end of the story. Let’s see what happens next.



The following spring, one of the associates at my architectural firm mentioned that a college friend of his son’s needed a place to stay for a short period. The young man was apprenticing at a local computer chip factory for the summer. Inasmuch as I was alone in my house, which was near the manufacturing facility, I impulsively volunteered to allow him to stay with me. I must confess I experienced many an anxiety before the June date for the young man’s arrival rolled around.

But arrive, it finally did. He insisted he could make it to my house from the airport on his own. Ergo, when I heard the doorbell chime one Saturday morning in early June, I opened the door and stood as if pole axed.

My mysterious young man from Hawaii stood smiling and handsome on my porch. Well, it wasn’t the same young man, but the resemblance was strong—overwhelming—and my reaction the same—overwhelmed.

“Mr. Pierce? Hi, I’m Kielani Snider.”

Still mentally reeling, I accepted his hand. “Kielani… you mean, Kiel?”

“That’s the way most folks know me. But it’s actually Kielani.”


“Yes, sir. My mom’s from the Islands, and she hung that label on me. Means ‘Glorious Chief.’ Kinda pretentious, so I just use Kiel.”

I recovered enough to invite him and his two big bags inside.

Once I got over the shock of the meeting, Kiel proved to be a proper and gregarious young man. Eager to be liked, and easy to like. I had planned on taking him for dinner on his first night in town, but we got to talking and ended up munching on a tuna salad sandwich while we talked about my recent loss.

He had picked up on Becky’s presence… and her absence. Her presence in the room, by photos of her on the mantlepiece, the Hawaiian blanket hung as a tapestry in the dining room, her little statuettes scattered throughout the house. Her absence by the fact she wasn’t here.

Reluctant at first, I soon found talking about her with this personable young man was liberating. I’d expected a teenager as a temporary roomer, but what I got was a reasonably mature twenty-year-old—only nine years younger than I—capable of discussing unexpected things.

We quickly established a bond and a routine. I drove to work while he took a short bus ride to the chip factory in the morning, and he was home by the time I arrived after work, preparing us something to eat. Louise—who did my housekeeping once a week—complained things were so ship-shape she was no longer needed. But she said it with a smile, as she enjoyed Kiel’s company as much as I did. He always arrived at the house a couple of hours before she left.

As the summer progressed, I found myself fretting over Kiel leaving for school. Had he insinuated himself so deeply in my life as all that? With a shock, I realized it was true. I looked forward to going home in the evening to be with him. We started going to movies, to plays… even to a friendly bar whose manager would wink if I vouched for my companion. I vouched for him.

As the beginning of the new semester at his faraway college approached, I found my mood taking a downward turn. He came home on a Friday afternoon and sent it soaring.

“They’ve offered me a job,” he announced as soon as I came through the door.

“They? The chip factory?”

He nodded.

“Great. When do you start?”

“Dunno if I’ll accept yet.”

“Oh, your education?”

“That’s not a problem. They’ll support me through my degree at the University here. Be easier, in fact.”

“Then what’s the problem?”


I felt my eyes go wide. “Me? How?”

“Don’t know if I want to stay here if I can’t be with you.”

“Problem solved. You can stay here as long as you like. Just don’t have too many beer parties while I’m at work.”

“You don’t understand. I don’t want to stay unless I can be with you.”

“Kiel, you’re not listening. I just said you can stay as long as you like.”

“No, John. You’re not listening.”

“What do you mean I’m not—” My mouth clamped shut. “Oh! Uh. Well, I don’t know about that….”

A wicked smile played across his handsome—no, they were really beautiful—lips. “Don’t tell me a hunky guy like you’s never got with a man before?”

I felt my cheeks flush. “Nope. Never. Well, when I was a kid, a couple of us used to—you know—jerk off together.”

“That’s a start. Let’s be kids again.”


It was my time to host the company’s Christmas party that year. With Kiel’s flair for the outrageous measured against my more conservative vein, it proved a rousing success. I can’t accurately recall how many of my colleagues not only raved over the party but also congratulated me on having such a lively student brightening my house.

Late in the evening, while other revelers… well, reveled… I sat in a corner with my best bud from the office, a guy named Fred. His wife had been one of my late wife’s best friends. He took a casual look around the room as the party guests gathered around Kiel to sing the Christmas carols he played on my ukulele.

At length Fred shook his head. “Becky’s not here anymore.”

I started. “Fred, you know what happened last year.”

His eyes slid to me. “Oh yeah, I know, she’s gone. But take a look around. Becky’s not here anymore.”

My eyes scanned the living room and the dining room, and I understood what he meant. Her pictures were gone, the Hawaiian blanket on the dining room wall was missing, and there wasn’t a figurine in sight. When had that happened? Probably while Kiel and I progressed from delightful masturbating to fantastic lovemaking.

I relaxed muscles I didn’t know had tensed and met his eyes. “Guess you’re right, my friend. But as my Becky used to say, there comes a time to move on. So I’m moving on.”



Hope you enjoyed the story. But tell me something. Did Becky’s beyond-the-grave message to “move on,” anticipate the direction that moving on take? Do you think she had a clue as to John’s reaction to that young man in Haiwaii? Let me know the list of your thinking.

Stay safe and stay strong.

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

A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



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

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Becky Isn’t Here Anymore (Part 1 of 2 Parts) blog post #607


Well, judging from last week’s story ending, there is more than one way to consider momentum. What’s your guess? Did Chuck contribute to Francine’s fatal momentum, or was it all on her? Any feedback is welcome.

 This week, we’ll start a two-parter, also involving a man and his wife. But this marriage was totally different our hapless Chuck’s. Let me know what you think.



I sat like a lump of clay, like a stone. Like any other cliché you can name, except it wasn’t merely an idiom, it was truth. Enervated. Listless. Drained. Deprived of my very life source, my beloved Becky.

I’d met Rebecca Lanning back in grade school, but we only really discovered ourselves as individuals in high school. Our sophomore year, we decided to go steady and never really parted after that. I went through State as an engineering student. She attended to study computer sciences. Our junior year in college, we moved off campus so we could room—live—together. Our friends used to complain we were so totally wrapped that we were alone even when we sat in the midst of them. I’m sure that’s an exaggeration. I distinctly recall Becky provoking the group to laughs—and occasional groans—with her witty mots.

Marriage—which made her Mrs. John Latham Pierce—preceded graduation, which led to jobs and careers. But children never followed, a source of regret for both of us. We never tested to see who was the problem. Why? Probably because we considered our marriage, our life, really, to be idyllic. To find one of us with a fault would have been intolerable, so we assumed joint guilt.

Looking back, perhaps we were a bit possessive—obsessive possessive—of one another, especially Becky. She wouldn’t dream of doing something without involving me. Would hardly even take an evening to go out with the girls. Me, I enjoyed a leisurely drink at the bar with the guys, but once a week or so was sufficient. Each time I’d come home, Becky would sit beside me on the couch and have me virtually repeat each conversation, each ribald joke, each confidence word for word.

Perhaps we weren’t perfect, but we were as nearly so as any other couple of our acquaintance. Last May, we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary, exchanging matching portrait photographs of one another, properly ensconced in elaborate tin frames. After all, the tenth was the Tin Anniversary. And in our part of the Southwest, there are some magnificent tinsmiths. I slipped in a ten-day Hawaiian vacation as a surprise—the tickets and brochure properly wrapped in tinfoil.

The trip was the most wonderful we’d ever taken. I went all out, trying to make it the vacation of a lifetime. Spent too much money, but money wasn’t a problem for us. We brought back loads of the usual souvenirs: Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, guava jam, gaudy shirts, a koa wood jewelry box… even a ukulele. Most of it we gave to friends, except for a Hawaiian quilt, a blue and black thing woven from local fibers that I found off-putting, but caught Becky’s fancy.

The quilt is imprinted on my mind because of something unusual that happened when we bought it. A very pretty, vivacious young woman waited on us in the Honolulu shop Becky had discovered by accident. After she showed us enough samples to get an idea of our tastes, she disappeared into the back of the store, reappearing with another young lady helping her hold the quilt up for our inspection.

In seconds, my attention went to this second woman. Shining ebony hair worn short, set off a face as stunning and erotic as I had ever seen. Rarely had anyone affected me so. Don’t get me wrong, I was totally devoted to Becky and would never cheat on her. But in that instant, I thought about it.

Then came the real shock. When Becky asked a question about the quilt, the individual answered in a deep baritone that came up out of his boots somewhere. In the midst of my surprise, I experienced a fleeting interest… no make that curiosity about the man. They lowered the quilt to the floor, and upon a glimpse of his hard, muscled physique, I wondered how I’d ever mistaken him for a female.

Although I didn’t understand why, I thought about that young man when Becky and I made love that night in our hotel room. Afterward, she declared we needed to take more vacations.

Regrettably, that proved to be our last one. She died in a car wreck while on a rare outing with one of her friends… three months to the day after we returned from Hawaii.

I took her loss so hard that friends afterward declared they’d been worried over my sanity. For the first time I could remember, I had to do things without Becky at my side. At the firm’s New Year’s party, I sat in the corner and cried like a baby. At first everyone came over to console me, but eventually they avoided me. Couldn’t blame them. As they counted down to the new year, I slipped out and drove home. On the way, the car skidded on an icy spot and a big cottonwood appeared in my windshield, coming up fast.

I seriously considered not even bothering with the brakes, but somewhere in my head, I heard a voice saying, “No, John, it’s not your time. You need to move on.” I hit the brakes, but it was the snowbank at the foot of the tree that saved me. I spent the rest of the night in bed wondering about that message. Not who sent it—that was clearly Becky—but what it meant. I didn’t even know how to move on. Not without my love.

The next morning I discovered I felt better about my life. Everyone else noted what a cathartic crying jag I’d had at the party.


John’s loss was a tragedy, not a blessing like Chuck’s in the last story. (Wonder why I’m hung up on killing wives? Any suggestions?) At any rate, our protagonist seems to have gotten over the worst of it.

Stay safe and stay strong.

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

A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



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

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