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Excerpt from So Darkly Comes the Night

This is the first chapter of my new mystery novel that will soon be on amazon. if you like what you read please share this post.

Sometimes when I wake up I feel lost, and as I try to get my bearings, and put some meaning to my life, and sense to the new day, I wonder if my nightmares are the true reality. j.w.r June : 20 18

Death danced with him, and within him.

It filled his sleeping hours with fear. with accusing, unseeing eyes that penetrated his soul with bloodless faces, with smells of rotting flesh that stayed with him, smells that he could not wash off.

At times his nightmares wore different faces, but most of the time…most of the time the faces melting as if made from wax, filling his mind’s eye were those of his wife and daughter. He still felt the heat from the burning car, but before he could reach them, before he could crawl inside and be part of the flames he woke screaming, shivering from cold sweat that drenched his sheet and blanket.

But this night, perhaps because of the extra whisky soaking through his mind, perhaps because he no longer had the strength to escape, he made it to the car, opened the door, reached out for his daughter’s hand.

Like a church bell calling the faithful to Sunday morning worship, or the clarion call of a bugle, the first notes of the William Tell Overture pierced the tormented mind of the sleeper, shaking him free of the hunger, the need to join his family, dragged him out of another alcoholic stupor. A shaking hand fumbled around for the lamp on the rickety bedside table. An unshaded bulb burst into brilliance, chasing the darkness out of the dingy, sour smelling bedroom. A room that reeked from dozens of unpleasant odors that had soaked into the walls, into the cracked linoleum over the years, and could never be washed away with any amount of scrubbing or dulled by the strongest air fresheners. And lighting scented candles, or burning incense, only made the vile fragrance stronger
The smells no longer bothered him, and when someone daring to visit complained about them, he simply shrugged his shoulders, and muttered in his whisky rough voice, “Smells, what smells.” On more than one occasion he added, “If being in my castle bothers you so much, then get the hell out.”

Detective Ryan Telford scrunched his eyes to dull the burning light, picked up the cell phone his captain had ordered him to keep with him no matter where he was, and roared, “What the hell do you want…do you have any idea what time…”
He laughed before whoever was on the other end had a chance to answer. He didn’t know what time it was, and most important of all he didn’t care.

A crisp no nonsense voice full of authority filling his ear, setting his nerves on edge pulled him further from the funk of another drunken stupor. “I want you, Telford.”

“What the…Wilbur…Captain Jones.” He struggled to keep his feelings in check. “Captain,” his voice steadied, deepened, lost some of the whisky edged roughness. “What can I do for you at…” Bloodshot eyes glanced at the cracked faced windup clock beside the lamp. “What can I do for you at two in the morning?”

“I want you, Telford. I don’t just want you, I need you.” A tense, restrained chuckle filled the detective’s let ear for a moment before fading away into a cold silence.

“I didn’t know you cared, sir. But if you want me, I’m all yours, for the moment anyway. How may I help. If it is about your love-life…well I haven’t walked down that road for a while. But…I’ll do my best, if you will allow me time to wake up, and see what I can remember about such things…”

“Damn it Telford, I don’t have time to play your silly, childish games.”

Ryan rubbed two-day stubble with a hand growing steadier by the minute. “Yes sir, sorry. What is so urgent that it won’t keep until a decent hour.”

“There is a body I want you to look at.”

“Well sir…” He scratched at an irritating itch on his left temple, while gathering his thoughts. “Well sir…if it’s female, one-twenty, give, or take, blonde, thirty-six to fifty, turns every male head, not much over five-seven, likes scotch whisky, likes to dance to slow music and has a lost cat named Fluffy to find, I’m your man. Hell, seeing it’s only a bit after two in the A.M., she doesn’t even have to be blonde.”

Telford, laughing hard enough to shake his body collapsed on the edge of the bed, and waited for the string of four letter words pouring out of his phone, seeming to pollute the air around him to run out. And at last they did.

A harsh nasal voice snapped, “Cut the crap, Telford. The body is young, male, and dead.”

“Me…why me…sir? I’m still on suspension for that shooting, or have you forgotten. Will be for two more days.”

“Damn it Telford, drunk or sober, fit or unfit you’re still the best man I have for a homicide, or for finding Aunt Sally’s cat for that matter. Besides, I heard through the grapevine that you’ve been cleared, and the ruling will come down today.”

The groan escaping from Ryan’s mouth filled the small room. “Just tell me where to go… on second thought better not, your answer will likely upset me and make me burst into tears. It would be awfully bad form to cry over the phone to my brave and fearless leader. Just tell me where the corps is, and I’ll be there with bells on as soon as I make myself decent.”

“The way you sound, I think it best if I come and get you. Henderson, how far are we from Telford’s place?”

Ryan heard a distant, “Ten to fifteen minutes, sir.”

“Why captain…whatever do you…”

“To put it bluntly…you sound drunk, or at the very least, badly hung over. Be on the sidewalk in nine minutes. Henderson, put on the damn siren. Do I have to tell you how to drive, man? Next thing I’ll have to instruct you on how to tie your shoes.”

The detective yanked the phone away when a sharp, wailing sound poured into his eardrum.

A threadbare blanket, a sheet that looked like it would beg to be washed if it could speak were pushed off bare, hairy legs, and two size-twelve feet landed with a thump on the wood floor. A left hand, steady now lifted-up a mattress, and a right fished out a white shirt, green tie, and a pair of dark, mostly wrinkle free trousers.

“Damn, only seven minutes left. No time for a shower. Well, Wilbur will have to take me as I am.”

A shirt that didn’t smell too rank was pulled on, and buttoned, after a quick torso spray of underarm deodorant. Trousers were pulled on, buckled, and zipped. Feet were encased in two-day old socks. Dark, scuffed shoes were lifted to his nose, “I doubt if he’ll sniff my feet,” he chuckled, slipping them on.

He stumbled out of the small room, stumbled across the floor into the cramped bathroom, pulled on the string of the overhead light, scrunched up bloodshot eyes, and stared at the ashen grey face glaring black and him.

He filled his mouth with mouthwash, gargled three times. After getting rid of the sharp-tasting liquid, teeth were brushed, and a razor went once lightly over scratchy stubble. “You aren’t going to a prom.” A glance over at the clock birthed his first grin in many days. “Four minutes, Ryan my boy, your best time ever.”

Five minutes later, a black unmarked car pulled up beside him, and the back door swung open.

The captain barked, “Get in Telford,” and slid over to make room for the six-foot-two frame “The crime scene crew are itching to get about their work. But I didn’t want anything moved or touched until you see it first.”

Ryan growled, “Where are we going.”

“Robert Rakes Statue. Henderson, keep the siren on all the way.”

Telford rolled the window down halfway, buckled up, closed his eyes and hoped that the cool breeze would wash away the whisky fog, hoped it would slow down the bongos beating out the wild, mad mating ritual in his throbbing head. He knew what it cost Wilbur to ask for his help and opinion. He also knew what it could cost them if he screwed up. He made a mental note to go on the wagon. It wouldn’t be hard. He didn’t need to drink, and most of the time he didn’t want to drink. But lately it seemed that is what everyone expected him to do, and so he did. This is what he told himself every time he found himself looking at the dry bottom of a scotch bottle.

He was aware of the whispers, the sudden stop in conversation when he entered any room where his one-time friends were. He was aware of no longer being invited to meet the boys after work, have a couple of cold ones, and shake down the events of the day.

Ryan missed the locker room banter the sharp quick feel of a wet towel being slapped hard on naked skin. Missed most of all the companionship, the closeness he once enjoyed. He was toxic, an alcoholic, could no longer be depended on, and most likely would never have your back. At least that was the talk now days.
Maybe, just maybe this, whatever it was could be his way back to being what everyone once called him, the best detective in Toronto. His missed the nickname, “Sherlock,” that he once bore with sheepish pride. “But that was then, and this is now,” he muttered, opening his eyes to check their whereabouts.

“If you want to talk about anything, I’m here for you. Just like I am for the rest of my squad.”

The slight headshake started up the pounding, now more of an annoyance than painful. Bloodshot eyes closed once more, and a tousle head settled back against the seat.

The sudden stop, the sudden silence dragged Ryan out of a fitful sleep. If he dreamed on their journey, he didn’t remember, and perhaps that was best after all. Not speaking, he opened the door and stepped onto the grass. He grunted “Lead on McDuff,” to Henderson, and followed the tall heavy-set man towards the lights.

A man in uniform, handing them white coveralls, and latex gloves, gagged, pointed at the corps, “In my twenty years, I’ve never seen anything like this. He’s been butchered, like a lamb led to the slaughter house.”

His eyes swept the area with a quick glance, taking in the half-dozen men and women dressed in white, gathered in groups of two, sipping steaming coffee, and talking in low voices.

Telford knew that a minute after he said he was done, they would buzz around like a hive of bees in a field of wild flowers. They would look for footprints, tire tracks, blood splatter, take samples from the body, take hundreds of photographs, and mark each thing with a crime scene number. Anything, and everything would be sampled, be examined over the next hours, the next days.

Seconds later, three abreast, the officers stepping over the crime scene tape, followed the beam of light dancing over the crew cut grass towards the body.

Somebody would have had to call this in. So somewhere there was a potential witness. They had to be found, interrogated. The footage from every traffic camera, every security camera in the region would have to be viewed half-a-dozen times to make certain nothing was missed. This would take time. Until this process was completed, and the results put down in black and white for all concerned to see, it would be up to him, and others like him to look for motive, for opportunity and for the means.

The first step, the most important step for him was the identity of the victim, because nine times out of ten, the killer would be someone the victim knew, a member of the family, friends would be the first people to be interviewed, and their alibis checked out. If this didn’t achieve the required results, the circle would be extended to casual acquaintances, to chance encounters.

The wicked pounding of Telford’s head had now subsided, his hangover was like it never had been. His thoughts were clear, his mind waiting to be put the task at hand. As eager and excited as a hound closing in on a fox, confident that he would see things that others missed, he strode towards the body.

There it lay, stretched out on the dew soaked green grass, face and neck hidden beneath dark cloth, looking more like a store front mannequin than a human. As always, he stood at a distance taking in the whole area, checking every inch of the crime scene, looking for anything out of place. Even the most polished killer made mistakes, and it was his job to spot each one, make sense of it, and start building a profile.

His gaze shifted to the bare feet, “Now, why did you remove the shoes.” He turned to Jones, “Have someone look for his shoes. Captain, please shine your light on the bottom of the feet. Damn, whoever did this wanted this kid to suffer. See the charring along the instep and the bottom of the toes.”

The captain nodded, and shouted, “Henderson, see if you can find a pair of shoes that don’t have feet in them.” He grinned in Telford’s direction, “He’ll have to trip over them first, but he’s all I can spare for now.”

Ryan’s gaze moved up the straight legs, taking in blood-soaked jeans, the missing belt, the gaping wound that stretched from groin to collar bone. “It’s not his first kill,” he muttered.

“How so?”

“The body is laid out too neat, and the killing took a long time. See all the shallow cuts on the torso above the wound. Whoever did this, knew what they were doing. There are usually hesitation marks on the first victim. At a guess I would say this is most likely the third or fourth kill.”

“Damn it all Telford, are you trying to tell me there are…”

Telford grunted, “Take the cloth off his face, Wilks,” and steeled himself for the unveiling.

Wilks bent, reached out, lifted the cloth, reveling a bloodless face, and wide, staring eyes, that seemed to burn into Ryan’s mind.

Not since his wife and daughter’s death had he felt this kind of empty hollowness rushing through him, setting his stomach churning like a pinwheel in a windstorm.
His supper, shooting out of a half open mouth, splattered over the grass beside the body, splashing twenty-year-old scotch, strands of half chewed spaghetti, chunks of meatballs, parmesan cheese, and a sauce made of tomatoes onto the bottom of bloody jeans.

Hands flailing, clutching at the air, he staggered around like a man coming off a two-day drunk, and fell forward. A white face, and wet grass smacked together, stunning him for a moment. Groaning rolling over, unseeing eyes stared up at the stars.

Telford breathed deep, tried to scour the image from his mind, a mind that he felt he was losing, but he couldn’t. He rolled over on his stomach and putting one hand in front of the other pulled himself to the bronze base of the statue. Fingers that had lost their strength, fumbled over the cold rough metal for something to hold onto.

Wilks, now beside him, reached out his big hand, grabbed Telford’s waving arm and like he was lifting a sack of grain, hauled the detective to his feet, propped him against the statue, held him until the trembling slowed, held him until it looked like the man could stand by himself.

Telford, with tears streaming down his face, screamed, “Damn you Jones, damn you Jones. Damn your soul. Some joke. Some joke indeed. I’m not laughing. I’m not likely to ever laugh again. I know we haven’t been getting along, but this… this is a new low for even you.”

“I don’t have any idea what you are yammering about, Telford, and if you don’t get a grip…”

“If I don’t get a grip…then what.”

“You may as well go back to the gutter because you’re no use to me in this state.”


Wilbur snarled, “What is it Wilks?”

A trembling finger pointed towards the body, “There’s something sticking out of the wound. It looks like rolled up paper.”

“Well, what are you waiting for?

“Is he done,” Wilks asked, waving a hand in Ryan’s direction.

Jones casting a pitying glance towards Telford’s, nodded, growled “He’s done.”

Wilks bent over and using a long pair of forceps eased the object out of the gaping cavity, straightened up, and handed it to Jones.

A rubber band dropped into an open evidence bag, provided by Wilks.

As if it were a new found dead sea scroll, or an ancient treasure map, the captain unrolled the paper. “Shine your light on this, Wilks.”
In the beam streaming out from the flashlight held tight in Wilks dark hand, the words seemed to jump off the page. “My name is Isaiah, and my name is death. All of you will shake when you see my shadow. All of you will scream from fear when you hear my name. You cannot escape me. There is no safe place to go. I will choose my prey from among you. You cannot stop my taking. You cannot stop my killing. You will fear to sleep. You will tremble upon your waking. I bring fear, pain and death, and when I am gone, there will be no one laughing. My name is Isaiah, and you will tremble at my passing.”

The blood-stained paper slipping out of white shaking fingers, fluttered, like an autumn leaf to the ground, coming to rest across the toe of Wilbur’s right shoe.



We expect our spouses
to love, honor, and obey.
We expect our children
to be happy when they play.
We expect tomorrow
to be better than today.

We expect our boss
to give us
an undeserved raise.
We expect our friends
to always admire and praise.
We expect to forever walk
the bright and sunny ways.
We expect tomorrow
to be better than today.

But if we only live
on the expectations
of what tomorrow
may or may not bring,
we will miss out
on the most important thing,
we will miss out on today.

Moonlight Over Marrakesh

In an Ashram, halfway up a mountain side
as the purple dusk swallowed up the fading day,
a small brown man, of an unknown age
on an ancient zither began to play.
His one deep set sky blue eye
brooked us with a mystic, mysterious gaze,
this is where I should have stayed
lived out all my mortal days
and his fingers moved like lightning as he played.

His music swept us from our reality
swept us from the Ashram where he played,
where a single red orchid bloomed
the only color in that grey and dusty room.
With each enchanting note,
with each delightful finger stroke,
more of our surroundings began to fade
until at last we were transported far away,
and his fingers moved like lightning as he played.

In a boat built from cinnamon trees,
powered by a sail of woven tamarind leaves
we journeyed down the great Ganges
on a soft misty morning in the spring.
We listened to the delightful songs
that the little blue birds began to sing,
as we sailed down the sacred river
that long-ago morning in the spring.
That is where I should have stayed,
for the rest of my mortal days,
and his fingers moved like lightning as he played.

We stopped along the river bank
and listened to an elephant and tiger
play the piano and the violin.
But I grew uneasy and asked to leave.
because I didn’t trust the tiger’s hungry looking grin.
Once more we journeyed on our way
as the sun began to brighten up the day,
and his fingers moved like lightning as he played.

We paused for awhile beside a jujube tree,
and refreshed ourselves with hibiscus tea.
Little blue butterflies flickered through the lemon sky.
Somewhere, high above us we heard an eagle’s cry.
A troupe of golden monkeys gathered in the trees,
Their gentle voices came to us on the summer breeze.
Soon they began to dance and play,
and their antics added joy and wonder to our day.
This is where I should have stayed,
where I could have lived out my mortal days,
and his fingers move like lightning as he played.

I asked a young girl sitting close to me,
what haunting, enchanting tune is this?
She touched a soft finger to my lips,
then whispered, Moonlight over Marrakesh,
a meditating melody to soothe one’s trouble mind,
and then added, did you know the zither man is blind.
This is where I should have stayed,
where I could have lived in peace all my mortal days,
and his gnarled fingers moved like lightning as he played.

Coffee, Conversation, and Yesterday’s Dream

I write down these words
as the traffic roars down the street,
while winter lays heavy,
and the snow piles deep.

I write them as the lights on the corners
blink red and green.
I write them over coffee, conversation,
and yesterday’s dream.

I watch an old soldier
begging for change.
A young girl passes by
who is obviously lame,
and for a moment,
all of these things
I wish I could rearrange
but life consumes us all,
in a bright burning flame,
until only a few pale embers remain.

So I write down my words
while traffic lights
blink red and green.
I write them over coffee, conversation,
and yesterday’s dream.

The radio speaks
of children dying in war,
of people going hungry
as they have done
so many times before,
and I begin to wonder
if our old world
can take very much more.

But all I can do
is write my refrain,
while traffic lights
blink red and green.
I write them over coffee, conversation,
and yesterday’s dream.

I heard the last whale
sing its’ sad lonely song.
It made me finally realize
that we have done so much wrong.
A hungry, mangy lion
eats up all of its pride.
How long can it be
until the rest of us die?

But all I can do
is write my refrain,
over coffee, conversation,
and yesterday’s dream,
and watch this old world
writhe in its pain,
while traffic lights
blink red and green.

The Trumpet Player, Plays his Trumpet

The trumpet player plays his trumpet,
it wails, weeps, in the deep, deep of the night
and the prayers of the saints,
and the hopes of the sinners,
sail on a cloud of silver wings,
they know with in themselves
that nothing will ever be alright.

And the children take their poison
looking for a different kind of dream.
The take their love and misery with them
as they travel to whatever pain lives beyond.
leaving parents and, teachers, and the wise
to drink their whisky, and wonder what went wrong.
and the prayers of the saints,
and the hopes of the sinners,
sail on a cloud of silver wings.

The bugles echo out so clearly
over the guns, and cries of war,
and the white knight and the dove of peace
in their tarnished, bloody armor,
ask the preachers, the prophets, and the philosophers,
in empty, hollow voices, what am I dying for.
and the prayers of the saints,
and the hopes of the sinners,
sail on a cloud of silver wings.

The violin strings are broken,
and the violinist forgot his bow,
and the children take their poison,
because they have no where else to go.
and the prayers of the saints,
and the hopes of the sinners,
sail on a cloud of silver wings.

The trumpet player plays his trumpet
it wails, weeps, in the deep, deep of the night,
and the prayers of the saints,
and the hopes of the sinners,
sail on a cloud of silver wings,
because they know deep within themselves
that nothing will ever be alright.

Lost in a Poem

I am lost within the depths of a poem,
tossed about on a dark stormy sea
Words are my sail, words are my boat,
and one-day words will let me be free.

Words color my world like a rainbow,
paint the sky a bright cornflower blue.
Words of love lie deep in my heart,
and one day I will speak them to you.

So, come and sing to me gently,
Come, sing soft, so soft in the night.
Sing songs that will change who we are.
Sing songs that will enchant and delight.

Words are my life, words are my dream,
and words built my castle so tall.
Words are the moment, words are the morning,
and words are the leaves when they fall.

Sing to me when the rainbows grow empty.
Sing soft, so soft in the night.
Dance in my dream, dance in my memory,
dance until darkness turns light.

Come my love, be lost deep in my poem,
and I will keep you from the dark stormy sea.
Words will be our boat, words will be our sail,
and one-day words will let us be free.

Tears of a Violin

I hear the tears of a violin in every song,
and as I watch snowflakes falling-down
my tomorrows fade away into the shades of yesterday,
stealing the colors from all the rainbows,
and painting sad faces on every clown.

I listen to my lover softly crying
somewhere in the garden of my mind,
but the wheel of life spins forever forward,
leaving my fading memories far behind.

Willows weeping every morning
where the rippling river waters flow
add their haunting voices to the wind
telling me that it is time to go.

The ocean of life overwhelms me,
and as I look for somewhere I can belong
I stumble through tomorrows troubles
listening to the tears of a violin in every song.

Sun and Wind

Sun and wind.
Wind and rain.
Summer nights,
and summer days.
The world turns.
Dreams are spun,
and spun again,
they all spin away.

Light and dark.
Dark and light.
Fireflies spark
in the deep of night.
In heavens bowl
stars burn bright.
Crickets chirp
upon the lawn,
the last moonbeam
is long gone.

Flow and ebb.
Ebb and flow.
Love may come,
and love may go,
but we all need
to have and hold,
and we all search
for our pot of gold.

Tide and time.
Time and tide.
Life is like
a carousel ride.
Pain and joy.
Joy and pain.
The world turns
from night to day.
Dreams are spun,
and spun again
until they all spin away.

Burning Leaves

Autumn’s sweet
pungent perfume,
winter’s promised gift,
yesterday’s dreams,
tomorrows hope,
swirl and drift upwards,
in the spiraling
grey smoke,
from burning leaves.

Leaves of poplar, birch
of Maple, and of oak.

Fate and fortune,
ebb and flow,
flow and ebb,
until time its self
unwinds unnoticed
like tomorrow’s clock,
upon yesterday’s shelf.

Life tangles,
sweet moments of love,
come and go
as if they are
no more
than a spider’s web,
or a morning mist,
that vanishes
as the sun’s warmth,
begins to grow.

Red flames lick
until all that is,
is an ember’s
faint, fading glow.

For this is indeed
how tomorrow
will come,
and how
yesterday must go,
until our lives
are no more
than a wispy tendril
of grey smoke,
from burning leaves.

From my book of poems, “Serendipitous,” available on Amazon, just click the link to find it and the rest of my writing.
http://amzn.to/2dyOK97 please be kind and tell your friends. thank you

From, “Fairy Time Ball,”

Ariel dreamed. She dreamed of dancing ponies, of fairy dust being sprinkled on her. She dreamed of flying off to the island of Forever-Ever Land with Tinker Bell, and a group of her fairy friends.

An island filled with marshmallow trees, chocolate rocks, gumdrop pebbles, blue birds that sang beautiful fairy songs, and played twelve string guitars. An island surrounded by a milk and cookie sea, an island where little girls spent their summer holidays. An island where little girls let their hair down, and were just themselves.

Fairy Time Ball is a quiet time story for the young, and the young at heart, and is available on Amazon. Just click this link. http://amzn.to/2DFN0sE

  • Keeper of the Sword

    It is often a simple thing, the roll of the dice, the turn of a card, or a chance meeting that can change one’s life forever. For Josh Campbell, and Morgan Connelly it was a seemingly harmless chain of events, a fight after school and performing a ritual that neither one of them believed in.

  • Fairy Time Ball

    now avaliable

    “Them things in my soup ain’t no chicken or potatoes. They have eyes, and they hop out of my way every time I bring a spoon close.”

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    Full of fear and excitement Keeper of the Sword (The Sword of Kings) Josh notched an arrow to the bow string, pulled it back to his ear, took careful aim and released the shaft of death, and before it reached its target, a second bolt sliced through the dark. (To find out more, just follow the link.)
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