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Long Ride to Abilene: Chapter One


He downed his whiskey in one quick gulp, wheeled around to face me, and dropped his hand to the butt of the colt forty-five slung low on his hip. Looking into dark eyes, eyes that were once filled with, laughter, deviltry, and a sense of fun that spilled over into anyone around him, now filled with bitterness and hate sent a coldness like I had never felt before, starting at my toes, surging upwards that set my hands to shaking.
I knew that death stared me in my face, and if I made a wrong move, or even so much as blinked, this might be my last day on this green earth. At that moment, my mind circled back to the day that set me on this course, and I caught myself thinking, “If only I hadn’t decided to go into Plentiful so early in the day. If only old Jim Wills had of been quicker at his figuring out what we owed, or what he intended to give me for the things I’d brought in, but he wasn’t, and thinking on what could have been, or might have been wouldn’t keep me breathing, not much longer anyway.”
The only thing that might spare me, is I had taken the bosses advice and left my gun in camp before coming into town.
He snarled, “You’ve been ridin me for a long time. Goin on about how you is better than me. How much more work you do than me. How you’re better at settin a horse, or ropin cow critters. We’ll I’ve had it. I ain’t goin to take it no more. You ain’t goin to be tellin me what to do. And I say to hell with you and your brother. And I say to hell with our trip to Oregon. I’m for settlin our differences right here and right now.”
“The kind don’t have no gun,” came from behind me.
I didn’t have to turn to know who was speaking. I was wishing I could see Trav once more.
It were dark enough in the saloon to see the flame shooting out the end of his colt. The thunder of it rolled around me, dimming my hearing, giving me the kind of chilling coldness I had never known before.

I remember the day well when the whole thing that was to make such changes in my life started. I had come to town early to settle some of our accounts, not with cash money you understand, because in those days it was in short supply, but with things we made or grew on our place.
I had two honey glazed hams from our smoke house, three dozen fresh eggs, a tub of new churned butter, four slabs of bacon, two dozen cured cow hides, thirty-two tallow candles, and a sack of wintered over spuds.
Depending on the mood of old Jim Wills, there should be enough to cover what we owed, and some left over for some needful things, like flour, molasses, and dried beans.
While waiting for Jim to do the figuring, I taken a bite of time to ogle all the things piled up every which way, in corners, on old tables, hanging from the wall, and shelves spilling over with canned goods that was covered with interesting labels.
I’d done reading the labels of pork and beans, peaches, condensed milk, from some company named Borden, and was knee deep gawking at the guns and knives, when two men came busting in through the door, bringing a gust of wind, and swirling dust that set everyone into coughing.
I tugged my gaze off a new Henry rifle, and the navy colt I was a hungering after, but knew I’d likely never have the cash money to even buy bullets for them, and took in the new intruders. Old Bill Brady, sitting near the cherry red stove, stopped mid-move of his checker game. A woman I didn’t know, clutching tight to the hand of a little girl, stopped fingering the red cloth stretched out on a long table propped up at one end with timber and flat rocks, and gave them a dirty look.
An old tame Injin, weighed down by a large bundle of wolf pelts scurried out of their way as they strode down the narrow aisle.
I recognized the taller one right off, being I’d seen him more than one time here in town. Mostly I’d seen him on top of a big black stallion, or coming out of the Lucky Diamond saloon with a couple of men.
He wasn’t new to Texas, but he was to these parts, and every-body that had any knowing of the man spoke highly of him. The story they told is that he had the beginnings of a fine ranch down near the Rio Grande, with a wife and a couple of youngster’s. One day when he was out clearing a water hole and pulling some dumb critters out of the mud a raiding party of about a dozen Kiawe came helling through his place. They kilt his family and burnt his house down to the bare earth.
Some folks say he went mad over what was done, and not one person I knowed blamed him for what he done next. He took right after that raiding party and follered it down in to the heart of Mexico, right into their ranchero, and dealt with every-one of them. There were a heap of stories floating around about what he had done. Stories that would set your teeth to chattering, make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, and change the blood in your veins to ice water. It were said by many a one that he had himself a sack full of scalps that he’d take out of a night and count, just a wishing and a pining that there weren’t more of them.
But like I said no one I knew held it against him, and when he came to our part of the country to start over again, most folks, including mine held him up as some kind of a hero.
When it happened that Ma was with me, he always taken off his hat, said, “How do mam. The best of the day be with you and yours,” in a genteel rumbling kind of voice.
Like every time before, he wore clean dark grey trousers, with their tops hanging half way down over black boots polished brighter than a mirror. A Mexican style jacket, embroidered with fancy do-dads in red and blue thread, mixed with a bit of gold stretched over wide shoulders and big chest. The whole of this was topped off by a grey sombrero, covering long dark brown hair that many a Comanche hankered after.
The only thing missing from his normal outfit were a navy colt, cartridge belt, and holster. I wrestled with my memory for a mite of time, trying to dredge up a name, afore it popped full grown into my head.
Remembering my manners, the ones Ma had drummed into my bottom with a hickory stick, when- ever I was to forget them, I doffed my hat and said, “How do, Mr. Captain Roberts. How’s the state of your constitution this fine day?”
Well the burly man brushed right past me, without so much as a hello, or a friendly how do. Captain Roberts stopped right there in front of me, touched the brim of his hat. A big cheerful grin brightened his wind and sun weathered face. “How do to you to. As to the state of my constitution, it’s fine mighty fine. If I have it right, you’re Emmett Coressin’s boy…”
Forgetting my manners for a moment, I blurted out, “That’s right Captain. Davey…Davey Coressin…” Just then, my manners hit me. “Pardon me, Captain, for speaking so bold and out of turn.”
“Not at all. I do admire a man that speaks up for himself.”
A voice, gruff and raw, like it came from a throat that was scratched from dust, or had a fight with a tumbleweed, coming from behind me, roared, “Hurry up, Darius, I ain’t got all day.”
A chuckle came pouring out of the captain’s mouth, and a right eye, blue as a mid-summer Texas sky closed in a quick wink, “You go right on about your business Mayhew, I’ve got some talking to do with this young man here.”
I whirled around to take a look at the man with the whisky rough voice.
A snort, loud as a horse’s whiny came from out of thick lips perched between a black bushy beard, that could have supplied a home to a hive of bees without them getting crowded out, and a handlebar moustache that looked like it had been cut off a horse’s tail. “You ain’t goin to try and rope this here kid into your mad scheme, air you Darius?”
Eyes that seemed to spark with the fires of hell it’s-self, bored into mine, “If you’re wantin to live kid, don’t pay the captain no mind, no mind at all.”
Whenever I were to think on it afterword, whether night herding, or eating dust riding drag, I supposed it were him calling me a kid that made me make up my mind to listen close to every word that came out of the captain’s mouth and do whatever he asked me to, or die trying.
Afore the captain could get in another word, the doors busted open again, bringing with it more wind and more dust.
When the coughing fit ended and the last grain of dust settled onto the broad-board floor, every eye in the place looked at the pair of intruders, taking them in from their dust covered boots to wide brimmed hats perched on their heads.
The one, a couple of steps ahead of the other, with a swagger that made you think he knew he owned the place, or thought he did and everyone else in the world were less than he was, appeared to be the focus of most people, but it was the one a couple steps behind that caught and held my attention.

this is the first chapter of my novel and I am looking for, and hoping to get feedback

Tolerance


Always speak words of kindness,
and sing out songs of love.
Build a nest in your back yard
for a snow white dove.

Quench the flames of hatred.
Stomp out bigotry beneath your feet.
Give a budding olive branch
to everyone you meet.

Love all peoples as your neighbor.
Treat everyone as your friend.
Carry high the torch of peace
until intolerance comes to an end.

Lift up high the burning candle
so that everyone may see
that hope still lives in this world,
and that one day we’ll all be free.

Color Blind


Red and yellow,
black and white,
we appear
all the same
in the deep
watches of the night.

The only differences then
that we can truly find,
are within the cupboards
and the closets
of our twisted, distorted mind.

Would not the world
be a far better place,
if we had all been born
color blind?

Tomorrow’s Dream


Stone cold and gray the newborn day,
and children have no place to play.
No parks no fields of green.
No bubbling brook, no fish filled stream.

All that is left is brick and glass,
and dreary, dark, smoke filled sky.
No wonder children just stand and cry.
In their minds, do they wonder why?

This is our legacy of greed,
our all, consuming need,
to rape and pillage our mother earth,
to take from her anything of worth.

There are no growing trees.
No place for children to swing up high.
No singing birds fill the morning sky.
No wonder, children just stand and cry.
In their minds do they wonder why?

We do not see this, as we sleep,
in our graves, so cold and deep.
We do not see the smoke filled sky.
We do not hear our children cry.

But this matters not, for they too shall die,
and all that will be left is brick and glass,
and dreary, dark, smoke filled sky.
No wonder the children, just stand and cry.
In their minds, do they wonder why?

Witness


Eye of the tiger.
Eye of the lion.
Eye of the dreamer.
Which one beholds?
Which on holds?
Which one sees
a child’s tears?

Ear of the mouse.
Ear of the elephant.
Ear of the warrior.
Which one listens
as the wind
creeps across the veldt?

Wings of the eagle.
Wings of the dove.
Wings of the chicken.
Which wings fly the highest?
Does it really matter?

Kiss of the lover.
Kiss of the rapist.
Kiss of the child.
Which one is the sweetest?

Foggy Night, Raindrops on the Window


Foggy night, raindrops on the window
candlelight, fire burning low,
here’s to our love of yesterday,
and to our dreams of tomorrow.

Baby I just don’t want to go
into the foggy night,
raindrops on the window.

Thank you for the glass of wine
and thank you for talking
about the good old times,
But baby
I just don’t want to go
out into that foggy night,
raindrops on the window.

You look so good, in the candle glow.
I just wanted to see
if you were still doing fine.
I’m sorry I took up
so much of your time,
But baby, I just don’t want to go
into that foggy night,
raindrops on the window.

Foggy night, raindrops on the window,
candlelight, fire burning low,
here’s to our love of yesterday
and to our dreams of tomorrow.

Baby I just don’t want to go
into the foggy night,
raindrops on the window.

Where the River Runs Deep


The sun hung between day and night, painting the wispy clouds sailing in the western sky, pink and gold, dappling little wavelets dancing down the river, wavelets splashing on the old log dock, curling over broken boards, splashing onto bare feet, soaking into frayed bottoms of patched jeans.
Tom Warden squinted against the rays of the sun burning into dark grey eyes, raised a nut brown right hand to shade them from its brightness; looked deep into the darkening blue, seeking for an answer, seeking for hope, but like always, the sun, the wind, the clouds and sky kept their counsel to themselves.
For the tenth time in ten minutes a troubled mind turned to Abigail, returned to this morning, returned to their fight, a fight about the same old thing, a thing that lay below the surface of their minds; a thing that had no resolution, a thing that seemed like it could never have a resolution, not for him anyway.

Her words rang through him, rang crystal clear, “But daddy I just have to go to the dance with Billy. I’ll die if you don’t let me.”
His answer had been the same answer, given in the same old way, in the same angry voice. “You’re too young to go to town and stay overnight and…..” His voice grew colder, “And you’re too young to be dating someone three years older than you are.”
“But,” the blubbering began, the water works that always worked started, tears formed in baby blue eyes, eyes the same colour as Anna’s. “But,” she began again, sounding more like a two-year-old than a girl of almost sixteen. “But, Mary’s parents let her go out with Rod Williams and he’s almost four years older than she is.”
He growled, “I’m not her father, I’m yours.”
The foot stomping began, “She’s lucky. I wish you trusted me like they trust her.”
His grin softened the lines around his mouth, softened the square angle of his jaw, “I trust you baby girl, it’s your hormones and a male three years older than you and Mary with her I don’t give a damn attitude and the party afterwards with the drugs and booze that I don’t trust.”
Her voice softened, a wan smile burst through the storm, “Can’t you come into town and stay at the apartment then? I’ll just go to the dance and come straight home afterwards. Please, please daddy, I promise I’ll come home right after the dance.”
“I can’t come into town.”
Abigail sniffed, stomped her foot, rattling the dishes on the counter and wailed, “You don’t love me,” through a torrent of tears.
Tom remained resolute, ignored the desire to give into his girl, ignored the tugging of his heart to rush over to her, to brush her tears away, to hug her and say, “Of course you can go to the dance, now hurry up and change and we’ll go into town and buy you a new dress, that blue one you’ve had your eyes on,” but he didn’t move, didn’t even blink.
“Mum would let me go,” the tears faded to be replaced by dark cloud filled, anger filled eyes.
He shouted, “Your mum’s not here,” and bit his tongue after his words filled the room with an absolute finality.
“And whose fault is that?” the words came out full of accusation, full of anger, full of an aching empty loss.
“I suppose you’re still blaming me for her death?”
She retorted in her mouthy insolent way, “If the shoe fits, then you should wear it.”
He screamed, “It wasn’t my fault,” clenched his hands until they turned white.
“Whose fault was it then? Who had one too many drinks, who knew that the baby, my baby brother was due any day and yet drank most of the day, celebrating the sale of a short story. Was it worth it, was it really worth it.”
He shouted, “Shut up bitch,” turned on his heels and stormed out of the house and now he was here alone, confused, angry, ashamed and afraid that the gulf between them could never be bridged.
The fault of his wife’s death, his unborn son’s death, a son he wanted, longed for, weighed heavy on him, too heavy for him to bear anymore. He looked down into the dark blue water of the river, looked down into its depths, looked down into its beckoning hands; looked deep into the peace it offered him.
He murmured, “She’d be better off and for darn sure I’d be better off, because there wouldn’t be any more pain or suffering,” in a voice reeking with self pity.
A poem danced through his mind, a poem of his early days, of when he and Anna owned the world, of when Abigail was a little girl and he was her idol. “I know where the river runs deep/where the waters lie cold and still. It’s where I so hunger to sleep and very soon I will.”
The memory of a long ago day, the memory of Anna came to him, reflected in the choppy waves, came out of the waves, her face a face of frowns, of a wrinkled up pert nose, of a grimace that stole away some of her perfect beauty. “That’s so sad,” her voice, an angel’s voice filled with sadness and tears dripped from baby blue eyes.
He hugged her, kissed the tears away one at a time, laughed, “It may be sad darling, but sad sells these days,” and the poem had sold, had brought him the reputation of an up and coming poet.
But that was another day and this was today, this was now, this was his moment of decision. It would be easy to tie the old boat anchor and rusty chain around his body, go out into the middle of the river, expel his breath and fall over the side.
His mind said, “Yes do it now. You know you want to find peace. You know that the river offers you peace, peace forever. Surrender, accept its gift and have rest.”
His heart thudding beneath the brown shirt, the shirt Anna gave to him on his thirty-eighth birthday said, “No,” said it loud and clear.

The tug of war, the war between life and death lasted through the untying of the boat, through the pulling of the starting cord, through the motor roaring into life and through the journey down the river into the lake and down to the lake mouth to his home, to his Abigail.
The old wicker basket full of fish, full of wriggling pike and pickerel landed with a thud on the kitchen floor, rod and reel were placed against the table. Tom put a smile on his dour face, called, “Abigail, Abigail, please come here.”
No answer, no angry words, no pleading and no sobs came to him. He called again, louder this time, still no answer, still no sign of life in the house.
Tom sighed, strode across the hardwood floor, strode into the living room, strode over to the stairs leading up to Abigail’s sacred loft and took the steps two at a time. A shaking hand paused in front of the oak door, paused in front of a sign that had, “Private, keep out and this means you,” printed in bold black letters across its face.
He girded up his loins, mustered the little courage he could and knocked timidly. There was no answer to his intrusion, but there were the faint sounds of a body stirring on a bed, Tom knocked again, bolder, louder this time.
A grumpy, “Go away,” came out through the keyhole, rolled out from underneath the door.
He knew a faint heart wouldn’t bring her to the door. Tom put determination and resolve into his knock.
A snarled, “What do you want?” only made his mind and desire to talk to her stronger.
He kept the anger out of his voice when he spoke, tried to fill it with the love he felt for her. “I want to talk to you, please open the door. I’m not going away until you do.”
A grumbled, angry, “Oh all right, just wait a minute,” brought a grin to his face and put a slight twinkle in his eyes.
The door opened without making a sound, her anger filled stare; her sour looking expression would under normal circumstances have set him off again, but not now, not today. He smiled his best I love you sweetie smile and spoke in a soft voice. “If you still want to go to the dance you better change your clothes so we can go into town and buy you a new dress. After all a dad can’t have his daughter going to the harvest ball looking like a girl that doesn’t have a home, now can he?”

The end

In the Deep of Night


In the deep of night
I had a dream,
and in my dream
a rushing wind
did strip me
from my bed,
and took me
beyond time and space,
and I hovered
over an unknown place,
over a village green
where children danced,
and laughter rang,
filling the air
with great delight,
and the old
unbent by years,
played the oboe,
and violin.

Below me,
to my surprise
lions frolicked
amidst flocks of sheep,
and great serpents
rocked babies
in their bed,
until they fell asleep.

There were no
fields of bitter stone
to mark places
of the dead.

I heard no
echo of roaring guns,
no blast
of falling bombs,
and I felt
that war must
be unknown
in this quiet
peaceful land.

A cry of death
came to my dream,
stirring me
from my repose.
Filled with fear
I quick arose,
and from my window
I looked out
upon the fields
of war.

Melancholy Blue


Oh how I remember
sharing sweet kisses
with you in the dark,
our moonlight rides in Stanly Park,
a glittering ball room New Year’s Eve,
the feeling of your soft body
as it gently swayed,
pressing tight
as the enchanting music played.
But now I must learn
to live in a world without you,
melancholy blue.

Laughing, holding hands
we left our footstep
deep in the shining sands
of English Bay
as we tried to
keep ourselves dry
from the rushing inward
of the tide.
But I let you slip away
because of my
foolish, foolish pride.
Now I must learn
to live in a world without you,
melancholy blue.

Perhaps
we were far too young,
to make,
such fantastic schemes,
Perhaps we
should never have listened
or believed
in the words
of the love songs
that were sung,
At least
that’s the way it seems
now that
we have come
to the very end
of our dreams,
melancholy blue.

We grew bitter,
grew old
before our time.
You went your way,
and I went mine,
rushing after
impossible dreams,
and using up our time,
chasing rainbows,
but never finding
that pot of gold,
only finding
a world that
had grown cold.
Now I must
learn to live
in a world without you,
melancholy blue.

Storm Rising


A rushing rumble
like rapids,
like a river in full flood,
stampedes into my dreams,
and steals me
from my sleep.

I rise like a lightning bolt
race to windows dark,
pull back purple drapes,
and look out
into a midnight storm,
rising to the fullness
of its deep.

The wind trumpets
in the glory of its pride,
roars like a lion
at its kill.

My breath catches,
my heart thunders
within my breast,
as if it no longer
belongs to me,
but as if it is
some strange part
of a wild, savage beast.

I tremble, and like a thief
brought before the law
I surrender
to the storms all-consuming thrill.

Caught by this mighty muse,
deafened by her keening wind,
I begin understand her need
for destruction,
and in that moment
I hunger in my soul,
to go where she goes
until the beauty of this wild ride
comes to the fullness of its end.

  • 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.

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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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