ETCHEONDA
 A Journal for Dreamers
Including: A GARDEN FOR DRAGONS
.



  Published by The GRONICUS PRESS Copyright 1995  Rj White and individuial writers:   All Rights Reserved 

  Table of Contents


BOOK ONE: ETCHEONDA.........................

Introduction............................................A. Valentino

Etcheonda: The Search For Home...........Rj LeBlanc

Purple Afternoons...................................Jason Redbeard

Excursion to Andromeda........................Jason Redbeard

Etcheonda or A Boy and his Troll...........Jason Redbeard

The Apple Orchard................................Jason Redbeard

Do You Remember England..................Jason Redbeard.

Voyager................................................Jason Redbeard

Travels Within the Electro-plane............Jason Redbeard

Fragment From A Broken Sea ..............Jason Redbeard


BOOK TWO: A GARDEN FOR DRAGONS............et al ...

Tony by the Sea.......................................Jason Redbeard

-photos by A. Valentino and R. White-


Forward:

Scene:
Montello Street, Provincetown. About 1979

I gazed at the morning sun burning thru the branches
of that centuries old tree.
And saw you once more, against the background of light
softly streaming through your night clothes.
Gently accenting yesterdays innocence.

                                                           A. Valentino *1.

*1.  "This thought was an image which came to me after reflecting on a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti in: "A Coney Island of The Mind” -  “Away above a harbor full of caulkless houses . . . ” by  Lawrence Ferlinghetti.


            Etcheonda: The Search For "Home, or at Least A Shop on Go By Street . . ."

Lord Dunsany, master writer extraordinaire from another century in his book "At The Edge of the World" takes us down lonely alleyways to find an escape at “The Shop On Go By Street”.

There, at The Shop, we discover a mysterious shopkeeper whose store contains the wonders of  times past including those oyster shells from which the the Gates of Paradise derive their pearls. . . Through the windows of the upper floors of the shop we can see “The Fields We Know” in one direction and “The Fields We Know Not” through a different window. If we are tactless in our conversation with the Shopkeeper he will dismiss us and send us promptly on our way, but if we provide him with the right question, properly asked, then we may be in for an interesting adventure.

I have searched numerous narrow alleyways in Europe and many backstreets and country lanes of New England for a shop like the one on “Go By Street” but I've never quite found it. In East Hampton, Ct., there is or was “Harold Bradford’s Place” which used to have a rusting, hand-welded  submarine lying in the backyard, the product of an Italian immigrant who was going to use the sub to return to Italy one day.  Harold’s unusual store has a bit of the atmosphere that one imagines “The Shop” to have had. Unfortunately the sub has turned to rust and Harold passed away several years ago.

But then there was “The Shop For Dreamers” run by shopkeepers Arnie and his wife Marilyn. There was magic  in that shop at a side alley near the Muse in Provincetown in the late 1960’s with the music of the Beatles spreading from the East Coast to the West.

We "curiousity seekers" search to discover a place -- places in the world where we feel comfortable, where we belong. I think that many of us, children of immigrant ancestors, or those of us who were displaced from our neighborhoods when we were young children, are searching for something lost long ago. So too, like many others we are on a hunt to find ourselves and our places in the universe.

Each of us are the composite genes of a lot of folks. That doesn't help much in the search to understand who each one of us is, but at least it lets us know how difficult the problem is. There are just too many details, too many turns in the road to define us satisfactorily. All we can do is collect material that relates to us, the stories of some family branches, the fragments and questions of other branches, the art and artifacts of our life. We can write them down and pass that on to the next level, the next generation of us . . .

I feel that individually we are composites of all of our families, our ancestors and their histories, including both their joys and tragedies, but added to that are our own unique experiences. I doubt that anyone could add up all the various artifacts in our lives and come up with a single answer as to who or what any one of us are.

Probably -- to the Cosmos -- it matters little that the whole of humanity exists for that matter. Yet to each of us, each part of our lives, each ancestor and story is a precious fragment of the puzzle of who we are. And, if we accept the religions of our ancestors the Universe is not cold or impersonal but a benevolent place wherein our souls and those of our ancestors go on forever. But, no one knows for sure.

And so each personal hunt continues, the maze expands, the mystery of our existence goes forth, while we search and record the events of our past, and present, perhaps to excite the imaginations of others so they too might continue the quest for knowledge and understanding.

Or is our quest simpler than that . . .  Is it the need for the Exile to return to his source. In "Basquerie" by Eleanor M. Kelly her romantic Estaban talks of the "Etcheonda" . . . "the etcheonda is our home, our abiding place, no matter how far we come to it .

In Germany it is called the Stammhause; in America - it is not called at all . . . The etcheonda is the home to which one of our families belongs from generation to generation; where all the sons may bring their wives to live when they are done with roving; to whose shelter every member of the family has his right, and to which all pay tribute . . .”

Often the artist attempts to create that special world -- his or her own “Shop On Go By Street” or “Shop For Dreamers” or the landscape of that childhood that lies just beyond their reach, and perhaps spends a lifetime creating images, trying to “get it just right. My son Antone found his "shop" in a rundown second-hand store in Meriden, Ct. Later we visited "The Shop For Dreamers" in P-town, and then he found his own places through his writings and his art.”

So we quest, for one reason or another, writing, painting, sculpting. . .  What does it matter!  We continue -- we search on and on for our own “Shop on Go By Street. . .”

On December of 1995, "Etcheonda: A Shop For Dreamers" came to life as an installation at Wesleyan University’s Campus Center. There several individual artists gathered to share their work, including kinetic sculptures, time-machines and so perhaps to reveal some of their inner visions in the search for their own Etcheonda’s . . . .
 

        Rj LeBlanc as Captain Jason Redbeard

"Vale Wanderer!"



 

              Purple Afternoons

Come into purple afternoons with me
 Redsands
  for solemn twilight skies.

Bleak, sluggish clouds
  soon come
   scudding overhead
Weather for the brave soul,
  some flyers too.
Beckons lightning bolts,
  beware highflyer:
For they speak sternly
  evening star.
Oh! the song of the bright skies
 Winds are dying
   as clouds drift away.

Dark ones sing
  to trees of green.
Hands lift into skies,
  fingers pointing.
Rivers,  their songs stilled forever,
  And for nothing . . .
    gentle drummers fled.
 

Wind seems to say -- stand still
 armies of men lay down your weapons
  for a better world or sleep forever,
              beneath the clear sky with dancing clouds.

Midnight snowflakes
  drift  in quiet dancing melodies.

Let bells ring afar with forboding:
  Many have died!
   Harlequins are singing --
    Mothers weep
     to the funeral band.

Attention! Oh those who yell with venom
  for the lives of the strangers at hand.

Men here and women - -
  heads held high with blind eyes,
   those waiting anxiously for the sea.
Do not hesitate to leave the sands - -
  Walk away!
   With still unanswered questions . . .
 

Speak out! Oh, wind . . .
 I yearn for quiet-times.
  We listen
   till you have sung:

Do not take
 the one I love for death . . .
  until later --
   when we both shall go . . .
 

          Jason Redbeard.


.

 Excursion to Andromeda

  For most of my life, ten years at that time, I had lived with my family in the country among rolling hills and fields. So it was great to be going on an excursion. And what an excursion! A field trip to Tau Episilon with my uncle Charles, who was not only a naval officer but a great guy as well.  Less than a month earlier I had done a report on the ancient ruins of Epsilon and Dad had suggested that a visit to the site might be in order. And as Uncle Charles made frequent trips out and back it was arranged that I should accompany him, and now we were actually going.

 Mother packed us a “picnic lunch”, enough for a week actually, and there were hugs all around. Then Uncle Charles and I were off to meet his friends in New Haven.

 We left Newington at 7AM by horse and coach, travelling down RT-10 past the miles of plowed fields, forests, streams and countryside. It took us most of the morning to reach New Haven and I was excited to be in a big town for the first time.
 I won’t go into the details of all we saw at this time but you can bet that my head kept turning from one thing to another.

 We arrived at the docks and the steamer Arcturus which to me was an enormous sea-going vessel, though I now know it was only a very small and private research ship. Climbing up the gangplank Uncle Charlie took me below and showed me where  to stow our gear and then we went out for a tour of the ship. Most of the vessel was below the waterline, huge engines to propel us through warp space and smaller engines for the movement through water. I’ve heard the theories of how the FTL drives work but I’ve never completely understood them, so I’ll leave that alone.

 About an hour later the ship’s bells sounded and we were underway. Uncle Charles put me in the hands of the steward and I and several other passengers were led to the observation platform where we strapped in and watched as the ship pulled away from the docks, people waving at us, and headed out to the channel.

 Past the breakwater the ship lifted on hydrofoils and moved out into Long Island Sound. On the tv monitor I could see the “rooster” spray we left behind. A short while later, maybe half an hour, the FTL engines came on with a throbbing pulsation, kind of relaxing. The horizon line grew wavy, shimmered, blinked and went out.

 The sky was now completely dark but for the bright fields of stars and the glowing Earth below. My mouth must have dropped open in amazement. Of course I’d seen pictures on holo but somehow knowing it was real made a difference.

 I know now that this part of the trip was only made for us passengers and was not needed for the excursion. In quick succession we moved past the moon, orbiting once, then on the Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune. Then we blinked again and the sky was full of Andromeda, just hanging there like an enormous pinwheel in the sky. My stomach got queasy then. I mean, I didn’t get sick or anything but there was a tickle.

 Here too we bounced in, passing several large planets, and binary stars, again just for us passengers. And finally we were down on the man made lake of Tau and such a flat desolate lake with just the rim of craters in the distance.

Finally we pulled in to dockside and I could see the ancient pyramids from the quay. Wow! they looked old. But just as exciting was the modern city that had grown up around them, from the original expedition they say. It was a beautiful sight and I thought of “Emerald City” from the Wizard of Oz.

My eyes didn’t know what to look at first, the old or the new. So I satisfied my desires by bouncing back and forth looking at first one, then the next.

 It was a mystery, the old pyramids, obviously built by a people long gone, ages ago. But the bigger mystery was the absence of any artificts. This question more than anything had brought scientists and theorists from all nations to the site. For years they examined every centimeter of the place and there were hundreds of Phd theses exploring the reasons for the missing people and their vanished culture. If the “Vanished Ones” had just picked up and moved, they took everything, every tiny bit of stuff with them. But why had they been so thorough and where did they go? Of course those questions were the mysteries of our times.

 There were three cities here, the old city which had built up around the pyramid discoveries, the new city which had commerce and a flourishing culture and the ancient city. We spent much of our time in the new city since that was the place where people lived, worked and ate.

The old city was mostly for after hours and the entertainment there was strange to say the least. Certainly not the place for ten year olds, at least from the viewpoint of adults. But to a kid it was fabuluous -- a running geek show. I learned more about “adult” nature there than I had learned in the past ten years. But Uncle Charles kept a close eye on me, said that some of the Dromen workers  had a yearning for “young stuff” which at the time didn’t mean much to me.

We went out, Uncle Charles and two of his buddies and I to see the sights and we had a wonderful time in the old city, traveling from one bistro to the next. Uncle Charles said it would be good for my education and I had no objection. But there several of bistros that he wouldn’t go to even when his buddies teased him about keeping my “ears” pure. He laughed, but we didn’t go to those places.

Years later, as an adult, I went back and tried to find what I’d missed, but things had changed. The old world had merged with the new city - redevelopment - they called it, and there was nothing left but a few sleazy bars. But on that day the smoky bars, the dancing women, men too and . . . other things had my head turning so much that my neck got stiff. We all laughed a lot and Uncle Charles and the guys drank too much.

Soon it wasn’t funny anymore and they were beginning to make me nervous. Then Ben got sick and started throwing up. Uncle Charles and his friend Dick carried him off to the bathroom and I sat there at the table by myself, trying to pretend that I was older than I was and could handle this thing, but I was scared among all those strangers.

About this time a short, dark skinned Droman came by and sat down next to me.  “Like another drink kid?” he asked. Thoughts of Dromen who “liked young stuff,” pounded into my head and I began to panic. The Droman reached out and put his hand around my arm. “Don’t be nervous little one,” he said with a smile and a wink, which did just the opposite by making me twice as nervous. I looked up for Uncle Charlie but in the smoky room I didn’t even know which direction they had gone. ‘I . .. I’ve got to find my Uncle,” I blurted.
“Don’t worry,” said the Droman, “You’re safe with me.”

His hand slid from my arm and I waited until his attention wandered from me and then I slid down the chair to the floor beneath the table and scampered across the grungy floor to the next table, causing laughter from the women sitting there. Suddenly the droman appeared, squatting down. “Come on up here,” he said pointing a beckoning finger at me. At that I bolted, stood upright, banging my head on the edge of the table and diving straight into the crowded dance floor, passing by couple after couple, looking desperately for the door to the bathroom.

First door I came to I slammed it open and dove through. Stumbling on the top step I did a flip in mid air and landed on my backside in a back alley. Unfortunately I wasn’t alone. Three dromen sitting in a circle looked up from their little campfire. “Hey now! What’s we got here,” said one of them. I reached for the door but it was locked solid. As one of the dromen got up and started for me I took off down the alley.

“Hey kid! We won’t hurtch ya,” he yelled, amidst laughter, but I kept on running.

- to be continued -

A BOY AND HIS TROLL
by Jason Redbeard

 He stood alone in the cavern. His decayed heads surrounded him on poles stuck in the damp earth, reminders of the battles he had lost to the troll. Jeremy shuddered. He relived each time the troll had driven a blade through him or severed his head with a mighty swing. He had enjoyed his share of victories, too, but the troll had quietly disposed of those trophies. Today he felt, deep within, that he would win. Luck was with him. Secure in his armor, he moved forward, sword raised. The bell rang and he was back at his seat.at school.

  Chattering children moved past him on their way out. Jeremy grabbed for his books, and shuffled them under one arm. He jostled his way into the aisle, and blended into the mob as it flowed through the halls to the outer world.
 Once outside, the boy quickly outdistanced the pack. He raced across the road to a field and onto a familiar path that led into the woods that separated the school and a church from the town center.

 But then, as he crossed the noisy brook and started down a dirt road that led to his home, the boy's steps slowed and he found frequent opportunities to explore secret places along the way. Here was an old tree trunk that served as a hideaway and further on, a small pond where he could launch a pirate ship and sail her across the world. Though, with each step he took toward the house of his birth, slow-fear kindled inside his stomach at the thought of getting there. Finally, when he could no longer avoid looking up, the boy stopped before the house on the edge of town.

 It was a faded white-stucco with great patches missing from the the walls; one corner sagged, looking like it might crumble into rubble at the least provocation. He stood at the dirt crossroads looking at the place, thinking of the warmth it had once held; but now, for him, there was only emptiness, faded memories of a life he had once known. There was a time when his mother and father were alive, people who laughed and loved him, not the strange uncle who stumbled home late at night to beat him in a drunken rage, and an apathetic aunt who didn't care. Often Jeremy felt like a stranger himself, a prisoner in a world gone sour. Now, through a side window, the boy thrilled at the amber-yellow light that afforded him a glimpse of the hominess that once was.

 Light from the kitchen, filtered through old, faded curtains, thin stringy curtains, grey with lack of care or cleaning. By switching his weight from one foot to the other, the boy's vantage point changed through enough degrees that he could rock the kitchen light in and out of vision; at one point cut off by the window's edge, then back again as he shifted.

 Each movement churned his insides as the light of past times brought him hope, only to fade as he moved to the other foot and lost the light, lost it as it narrowed to a thin sliver and vanished. Then there was only the house, with the other windows dark and grim, bringing a lurch to his stomach, a feeling like his insides wanted to curl up inside him and...

 He took a step toward the house but immediately retracted it -- wanted to move instead in the opposite direction, to take the dirt road leading away from the house, away from town into the woods. Yet, he could not move from the spot, caught as he was by the power that came from within the stucco structure, a mingled call that held both hope and despair.

 Then there was his younger brother Ned, only eight. He couldn’t leave the boy alone to face that gloomy place and that . . . man and woman who had invaded their home. Anger grew within Jeremy, anger at the forces that had taken his mother and father and anger at the people who had usurped their places. This image roused in him enough strength to take a step backward, away from the house; and that step accomplished he took another and two more and finally, turning, he ran in full-motion down the road toward the pine-wood forest.

 Here he felt a freedom,  a thrill of hope and escape as he followed the bright, scuttling. stream deeper into the density of the woods. Safety closed in around him, insulating him from harm, from “Them.”

 Breathing deeply, pains came to his chest, tingling pains that felt good as the tenseness left him, allowing cramped muscles to stretch and live. Now he became lost in the story of the stream, its movement along the mossy bank, the cascading of water from one level to another, the soothing quietness, the gentle music of the dripping from within small caverns which he stooped to explore, to imagine as miniature worlds. Here lived magical creatures, inch-high trolls and scaly dragons who did battle with each other every day. One time the troll was victor, the next day the dragon won. But the battles continued, day after day, year in and out through the centuries.

  Sometimes the boy was the dragon or at other times he was a knight, holding his enchanted sword tightly clenched as he entered the fearsome cavern. Slithering things moved across his way, threatened his life but the sword cut through them, halving the threats, which then, as two entities, slithered away in opposite directions, there to hiss their vengeance from behind piles of rock.

 The knight came to a halt and listened for the sound. He heard it in the distance, the grunts, guttural-noises and growls of the beast.

  A cold chill ran through him: the troll was home. Now the knight longed for the warmth of his cloak as cold and damp echoed his fear of the loathsome beast that spilled human flesh.

 But, with each stride measured and calculated, he moved ahead, sword uplifted, ready for the deadly battle. One foot went forward, a slithering mass moved beneath it, throwing him off balance as it twisted, squealing, from beneath him. He pulled back, tripped on mossy roots that had tangled around the other foot and he fell sideways into the darkness, hands outstretched to protect his face from sharp rocks and. . . dropped the sword. It fell from his grasp, clanking as it tumbled among the boulders.

 The edge of a stone caught him at the side of his head, stunning the knight, who was the boy who lay beside the river. The knight searched frantically for the weapon and knew it was lost. His other self, the boy, fought too, trying to break the contact between his imaginary self, to pull free from the image and move back to reality.
 Laughter roared from the troll as he sensed helplessness and came to take advantage of the knight’s misfortune. The boy-knight scraped fingers across rough stones, under boulders, searching for the sword and found nothing. Gutteral sounds filled the darkness as a monster's form raced ever closer.

 The boy-knight's hand found the handle just as light from the troll's torch lit the walls and surrounding area. It was too late; the troll stood next to him. The knight turned to face his enemy, though the weapon still lay trapped.
 He tensed in expectation of the ragged-teeth that should, quite soon, chomp into his throat, of the hands that would rip his arms from his torso and strew his remains from one section of  the cavern to the next.
 "Oh, you've lost your sword,” grinned  the troll, "Here, let me help you.”

 Eyes blinded temporarily by the torch's glow, the knight lifted one arm to ward off  attack. Another arm, furry, shadowy, reached past him and wrenched the sword-handle from his hand, straining for control, and the weapon pulled free of Jeremy’s hand.

 "Here, take it," said the voice, extending the weapon in one free hand. Cautiously the knight reached for the weapon, knowing it was a trap - bait - but having no choice. Expecting a cavernous mouth to engulf his fingers, to sever them and spit them into the air, Jeremy’s hand took the sword, as he rose slowly to move into a crouching, defense position. Gradually his eyes focused on the form of his enemy, short and stocky, wearing a sports coat and  ...   What! a sports coat.....

  "I'm sorry," said the troll: “I’m just not up to it today, haven't been feeling myself lately; didn't even have time to get into costume... I'm sorry about that, really I am..

 "But," said the knight. "You've got to be in costume and you’ve got to fight! That’s the way its done....”
 "Please excuse me," said the troll, "there's tea-water heating and I must attend to it."
 “What!” gasped the knight, “Tea-what!”

 The torch and its troll  bearer moved away from the knight to walk quietly down the tunnel; the knight, his mouth open wide, watched in amazement. Jeremy, without being aware of his actions  moved after the adversary, his hand and sword falling to his side.

 I'm sorry," said the troll. "It's really over you know. You've gotten too old for me. Time to grow up and all that. It's Puff the magic dragon and Dorothy and the Wizard and... the others...I've carried you much longer than I should have.''
 The knight raised his sword and spread his legs wide; "Stand and fight!" he yelled, though he himself, heard the wavering tone of his voice and knew that the challenge would not be taken. The sword slipped from his hand to thud against the cavern’s dirt floor. He walked toward the fire and the troll who was dipping his kettle into a vat of hot water.

 "I could offer you tea," said the troll. "Would that help some?" The boy-knight nodded his head affirmatively and stood watching as the troll set up two cups on a circular table and placed tea bags from a cardboard box into one cup after the other and added  water. "Sugar... and milk? or just sugar?"

 "Both," said the boy who had just lost his knighthood and now squatted before this enemy fire, letting the warm flames penetrate his cold skin. The troll opened a wooden door in the floor and pul1ed forth a milk carton which he carefully adjusted and poured a little milk into the boy's cup. "There!" he said, "There's sugar in that skull to your left.”
 The boy lifted the skull and shook in a small quantity of white granules,  stirring it with a thin bone. Slowly, he sipped some of the hot brew.

 "Won't we ever fight again" asked Jeremy?

 The troll fixed his own cup and then sat down crossplegged on the ground, grunting as he did so. "I'm getting old," he said, adjusting himself as comfortably as he could and then, turning his attention to the boy, asked:  "How old are you now?"
 "Fourteen," said the boy. "Is that too old... for...?"

 "Yes," answered the troll. "It's too old, time for you to be getting on to other things, finding a trade, learning about sex, having friends, getting into the more serious things of life.”

 "But what about you? You’re still playing. What's the difference?" said the boy.
 "What’s the difference! There’s a difference...  To me its a job, my vocation, my trade and.. and, my art.”
 "Then what about me?" said the boy. "Why can't I make it my art, my job?"
 The troll stroked his chin. “That’s just silly, he said. we don't need any boys here. There aren't any job openings in your category. Boys come here for our services, to be mauled or to maul someone not to meet other boys."
 "I'm not very happy with my life, and I want to come here to live -- to work. Isn't there someone you can speak to? I'll be anything they like, a troll, or dragon or... or... anything at all, an old owl or a bat or ... or ... anything. You just name it... I’ll ...
 "Calm down, said the troll, “I can see you're determined. Perhaps I could speak to a supervisor. They might need an extra or a trainee. We'll see;  Okay!”

 The boy jumped to his feet, upsetting the cup of tea which spilled onto his shirt and jeans.  "Thank you!  Thank you... Thanks . . . “ he said.

 “Just  be careful, don’t hurt yourself,” said the troll, You’re not covered by the union yet.”
  The boy began a fit of laughing and couldn’t stop.

"What! What's going on?" asked the troll.

 "Hurt myself" said the boy. “How many times have you cut off my head in combat?" He pointed a finger at one shrunken head on a stick, and there was a stray arm lying on the ground just a short distance away, and another head and a whole row of them hung on hooks on the wall, heads of the boy-knight and the battles he had lost. Slapping a thigh the troll saw the humor of the remark and soon the two were rolling on the cave floor until, their eyes flooded with tears, they both could laugh no more. Then they sat looking at each other and calmed  down, but each time one would look up, and, at a head or a dismembered organ the laughter would begin again.

 "Don't hurt yourself!" roared the boy. "Don't hurt yourself!" retored the troll and they laughed some more until their sides hurt so much they had to look away from each other, but occasional giggles escaped from one then the other.
 "Enough! Enough!" moaned the troll, getting to his feet and waddling away from the fire; still an occasional giggle escaped from his throat.."Don't hurt yourself....'' he muttered... "That's good, that's really good."
 "Come on," he said to the boy, "let's go find a supervisor "

 Struggling to his feet the boy composed himself, after discarding his armor. He straightened his shirt, and trousers and, passing by the sword, looked at it but didn't pause, took a deep breath and sighed deeply as he followed after the troll.
 “What do they call this place,” asked Jeremy. “Etcheonda, that’s the name,” said The troll.
 “Oh!”

 As they entered the deeper recess of the cave, the troll reached into a crevice and snapped a switch which illuminated a side passage. "Come on," he said. "This way to the elevator."
 "Elevator," said the boy. " I didn't know you had elevators in here."

 "Is that so?” said the troll ; you  thought it was all done with magic, did you? Sorry to disillusion you but magic's a precious resource. We don't just waste it on sundry things like operating elevators and, being lazy like your kind; we get tired of climbing stairs all the time too."

 "Oh!" said the boy. The elevator door opened and the two stepped in. "Careful!" said a voice. Looking down, the boy saw that he had almost stepped on a yellow and blue fairy with transparent wings, a figure that hardly measured to his knee.
 "Sorry," said the boy.

 "Hmmm!!" replied the fairy, nodding to The troll. The troll mumbled, “Hello Elving.”
 "You know," said the boy to the troll. "I don't even know your name. After all those years and battles, I... “
 "Never mind," said the troll. "It doesn't matter and we're not the kind who give our real names anyway, but if it means anything to you, you can call me Llort. And your name's  Jeremy 12466557."
 "That's my name,” said the boy, but the number. . ."
 "It's just an account number," said the troll.

 The elevator, which had been moving rapidly downward, came to a stop; the door opened and the fairy danced forward. "Excuse me," it said. "This is my floor. "See you later Llort." The troll waved a salutation. At the edge of the elevator, the tiny being spread its wings and took off over bright green-meadows and winding brooks, gentle shade-trees and there were centaurs moving along a high ridge.

 "But, we're moving downward," said the boy.

 "Yes," said Llort, "sideways too, if we need to and diagonal and over a position or under it or through it.
 "Just like chess," said Jeremy.
 "Or checkers or monopoly or mumbeldepegs or --or,  anything," answered Llort.
 "Where do we get out?" said the boy.
 "Not  before we get there," said Llort with a smirk. Then he seemed to soften, and to change his mind.
 “Sorry," he said. "I've forgotten, this is your first visit to the business part of this world. Perhaps we can make a few stops on the way to administration."

 He pushed the single button and the machine came to a stop.
 They were standing in a desolate, craggy place with blue-green mountains towering overhead and dark storm clouds battling in the sky. Jeremy shivered as a cold wind churned around his body. Llort had moved off, leaving the boy gawking at the strange terrain. Suddenly the boy noticed his guide had gone on and hurried forward to catch up with him.

 "Where is this?" asked Jeremy
 Llort shrugged his shoulders "How should I know. Never been here in my entire life. Come on, let’s see what it's like."
 "But I'm cold."
 "Try running,” laughed  Llort, as he skipped off down the narrow ravine. Jeremy looked around him, thought he heard a wolf crying and ran after the troll.

 "Wait up!" he yelled, running at full speed over the rocky ground.
 Side by side they moved across the uneven ground at a pace that had Jeremy gulping for breath. "Please," gasped the boy, "can we rest a moment?"
 "Cold anymore?" asked Llort.
 Coming to a halt, the boy mumbled. "No,, not any more, but now I’m ...”
 "I know, save your breath. Now you're tired, hungry too."
 "Right...." said the boy, sitting down on a slab of moss covered rock.

 Llort stopped running but continued moving forward, only, this time, at an even walk. "Come on, let’s find out what's beyond the bend. I hear sounds; and I think I know what it is.”

 Jeremy got up and followed behind the troll, skipping a few steps to catch up. Together they rounded a bend and both came to a complete stop. Jeremy sighed in amazement. Llort grunted, "I thought so."

 In the distance, filling the sky, was a wall of water, a wall that stretched up as high as they could see and as far as they could see from horizon to horizon; the mountains now being to their back. A wide grassy plain, a swampy mist-land stretched out to meet the gigantic flow of water that seemed to come out of the sky or beyond and to fall to the edge of the horizon and, as if the land came to an end there, to fall past it.

 “Hah! The Hanging Ocean of Malvena,” said Llort. "I've never  seen it before; but I know it by reputation."
 Jeremy was speechless, hypnotized by the never-ending movement of water that careened to the horizon. With open mouth he stood there spellbound by the enormity of the scene, listening  to a far-distant roar of what sounded like continuous thunder.

For a long time they watched the scene until finally Llort took the boy by an arm and led him back up the ravine.
 Jeremy was quiet all the way back to the elevator. Only when they had entered the small enclosure which, this time, was  empty, did he speak. "It...was...It was..... “  The elevator moved upward.

 “Yes, It sure was," answered Llort. He pushed the button again and once more the elevator slowed and came to a stop. They stepped out and into a long corridor. "Come," said Llort taking the boy's arm again and leading him down the hallway past closed doors, most of them darkened on the inside; no light came through their glass windows. Many steps later they came to a door where a dull-green light showed through the glass.

 "This will do,” said Llort as he knocked on the door. There was no answer so he turned the doorknob and entered with the boy in tow. Here there were rows and rows of filing cabinets, and boxes with papers piled on boxes with more papers. And there were papers strewn along aisles, in wastepaper baskets and piled high on the few desks in the room.

"Hiyo!" called Llort. "Anybody here?" His voice echoed down the narrow, paper-filled rows which threatened to collapse and avalanche on the two. Then they waited for an answer and shortly heard a shuffling sound coming from within the stacks.

 After a while an old woman came into view, her grey dress was disheveled, there were spectacles on the bridge of her nose, nylon stockings were twisted on her legs and there were numerous criss-cross runs. "I'm coming," she said. "No need to make all that noise."

  Shuffling up to a desk the grey-haired old woman sat down and, picking up a stack of papers at random, went through them, discarding one into the waste basket to the right of the desk; she opened the top drawer and slipping in a sheath. "I'll be with you in a minute,” she said, getting up and taking a pile to an overflowing file cabinet which she opened.
 Desperately the woman tried to push in some of the sheets but the files resisted.

Finally, after seeing that all the drawers were equally stuffed she gave up and piled the papers on top of the cabinet alongside a mountainous stack that was already there. Shuffling back to the desk she picked up another pile and did the same routine at another file cabinet. This time the pile on the file slid off to collapse as a heap on the floor. "Damn!" she muttered, but put the new stack on top of the now nearly empty cabinet. Again she shuffled back to her desk and sat down, then absently looked up as if noticing the visitors for the first time. "Oh! yes --yes.  Now, what is it you want?"

 "I'd like to make an appointment with a supervisor," said Llort.
 "You would? Hmm! Which one?” she asked.
 "I don't know," said Llort. I guess anyone would do."

 "I  see," said the woman, turning in her swivel chair to face the acres of paper work. "Take your pick: Every page is a list of supervisors, miles and miles of them.”

  Llort grunted. "There weren't so many last time I was here," he said.

 "Course not," said the woman. "New ones come in every day.  A body can’t  keep up. Just get rid of one pile and in comes a new stack. Morning till midnight,day in and day out. There's no end to it and I keep asking for help. Well, you know what they say about that..."

 "Ah-hmm!" said Llort, "That's too bad. Can we look around for a list?”
 Of course you can,” said the woman, “Look around all day. I haven't anything better to do than sit here while you waste my time." She thumped her fingers, drummed them on the pile of papers that covered her desk, the pile that loosened beneath her fingers to slide onto the floor, some of the lists falling into a waste basket.

 See," she said. "There's no way to keep up with it all." And with that she swept the remaining stacks of papers from her desk onto the floor. At that moment, as if on cue, the door opened and an old man, dressed in faded coveralls, with a baseball cap covering his sparse white hair entered, pulling a cart full of piles of paper, each pile containing additional lists.

 Without a word the man removed the piles, one at a time, and stacked them on the woman's desk. Silently, her eyes glowering, her hands on her hips, she watched as the man completed his task, nodded his head first to her, then to Llort and Jeremy and trundled off with his cart.

 “Bah!" said the woman. "There's just no end to it. Here take a list," she said, reaching for one at random from the newly established pile. "Take one!"

 Llort reached out and accepted the paper, then turned  back to the exit and ushered himself and Jeremy out.
  "Good luck," he said, turning to the woman as he shut the door behind them. She grumbled something in return but the closed door kept them from hearing her exact reply.

 Jeremy was anxious. "Is it the right list?'' he wanted to know. Llort inspected the paper. “Looks like we might have some possibilities here,” he mumbled, leadinq the boy further down the same long corridor, a corridor with endless doors and not a person or thing in sight.

 "What do we do now?" asked Jeremy.
 "Just come along," said the troll. We’re looking for the Department of  Lost Dreams and Faded Hopes. At least thats the address on the paper."

 "Is it far?" asked Jeremy.
 "Won't know that until we get there,” said the troll.
 "But, how will we find it if we don't know where it is or how to get there?"
 "Just keep looking," said Llort, "We'll know it when we find it.”

 After an hour of searching they stopped for a rest.
 “I’m, tired," said Jeremy.
 "Good. Then we're probably there.”
 Huh!"

 The troll reached for the handle of the nearest door..
 “Yeah, I think this will do." He pushed open the door and stepped inside. Jeremy was right behind him.
 “Come on,” " said Llort, "There's still some walking to do.”

 At the edge of a bluff, on a grassy hill overlooking an amber sea was a battleship-grey office-desk. Behind it sat a young man, dressed in a clean tan suit. The man was thumbing through a pile of notes when the two arrived at his desk to stand, waiting to be noticed.

 The man, after reading through some papers, marked on one in red, underlined a word here, scratched one there, placed a single page in a red paperholder, another page in a green one, a third in a purple one, two went into the top drawer of his desk and the remainder he dropped into a rabbit hole just in back of him. Finished with the file, he rubbed his hands briskly and started for another pile when he noticed the boy and the troll.

 "What's the matter?" said the man. "Is there a problem?"

 Llort spread his hands wide. "You see," he said, "there's Jeremy here who..."

 "What's the boy doing here?" said the man. "And what's your number, Troll?” Llort stuttered out his number and the man, opening his desk drawer, thumbed through a file, pulled out a manila folder and studied it. Then he reached for an old fashioned telephone and dialed a number, waited for the answer, cupped his hand over the receiver to muffle the conversation and when finished returned the phone to its hook.

 "You can go now," he said to Llort.
 "But! ... but! ..." stuttered Llort. "The boy and I... we've been through...”
 "Are you questioning the words of a supervisor?" said the man, leaning forward on both elbows, eyebrows raised.
 "Oh, no sir, I wouldn't do that," cowered Llort.
  "Then get back to your post," said the man.

 "Certainly! certainly sir!" said Llort backing away, and bowing low to the desk. "I'll get right back."
 "But, Llort,” said the boy, "You can't leave me here. What about us?"
 Llort shrugged his shoulders as he continued backing away. "Sorry," he said.
 "And Troll," said the supervisor, “We’ll be docking you for this. . .
Ah! . . . infraction of the rules. Just see to it that there’s no more fraternizing with the customers. Keep your act on a business level. Do you understand?”

 Jeremy started to follow his friend. The supervisor  stood up.
 “Hold on Little Boy!" he said to Jeremy. “You’re  not going anywhere."

 Llort turned and jogged down the hill.

 "Wait up!" called Jeremy, running after the troll.
 "Go away,'' came the reply from Llort, "You’ll get us both in trouble." But, Jeremy continued chasing after him
 "Troll! You're in big trouble now," yelled the supervisor. "And you too! Get back here Boy! You can't do this to me! I'm a supervisor..."

 Meanwhile Jeremy had caught up with Llort and jogged alongside his friend.  He yelled, "Llort! You can't just run off on me,”He reached out and grabbed hold of the troll's shirt and they came to a halt.
 “Now you've done it," said the troll, shaking his head from side to side. "For certain my job's done for . . .”
 "So! Is that all you care about, a few lousy bucks?" shouted Jeremy, "Is that all our friendship's worth?" He glared at the troll who was wringing his hands and still shaking his head.

 "A troll's gotta have some security in his old age, doesn't he?"

 "Yeah! but at what price?" said the boy. "And I thought we were friends, you and me."
  "We were. . . we are," said. Llort. "But I can't depend on you, a kid. You'll grow up, run-off, get married and have a ton of kids and then, what about me, left all alone. . . Whose gonna care? Tell me that."
 "You still don't understand," said Jeremy. "This is different. If I wanted to run off and leave you, to grow up, get married and have a family, would I be here now?”

 Llort stroked his chin: “Well...no, I guess not...”
 “Can't you see," said the boy. "I'm the different one, the one who doesn't grow up. Back there, where I came from, they can keep that stuff. I'm not going back. Never! Whether you help me or not, I'm staying here where I can have fun and be myself, forever." -

 "Peter Pan. . ." murmered Llort, "Maybe!”

 “What did you say?" asked the boy. "I can’t hear you.”
 Llort contemplated the situation, and the boy. "You know," he said. "We're in for a lot of trouble from that guy back there."
 Jeremy smiled. "I knew you'd see it my way.”

 Llort spread a wide involuntary grin across his face. "Okay," he said. "You've seen right through me. You know I like you.”
 “Of course!  Now let's go hide. Where can we run to?”

The two of them were off, Llort chattering as they moved.
 “They’ll send for the Manglers.”
 "Who'se that?"
 "Nasty brutes: Manglers-Eight they’re called. Work for the organization. Do all their dirty work. Union busting, everything."
 "You're clever," said Jeremy. "We'll  outfox em.”

Crashing through a door in a hillside they were back in the corridors. "Follow me." said Llort. "We can't spend too much time in the hallways. Got to keep moving. If we can find the Land of Runaways they might give us a break there.''

 "How do we find it?'
 Llort shrugged his shoulders. "Just like any place else," he said, “ just keep looking until we discover it."
 “Can't we get a map or something?”

"This place ain't like your world. . . Things change every day. They shift around. One day a place is here and the next day its over there and a week later its a thousand miles away.”
 "But why?"
 "That's just the way it is here. I don't make the rules... or the maps.”

 There was the sound of tramping feet coming from down the hall, like a football team doing laps on a basketball court.
 "What's that?" said the boy.

Llort turned his head toward the sound. "It could be them . . . Manglers Eight. If they get us we'll be. . . Never mind! Quick! Pick a door, any door."

  A rooster crowed to wake them and, stretching, the two yawned-awake on the hallway floor. Jeremy opened his eyes and stared up into the face of a goat-headed man with a broom in his hand.
 “Thought you were trash," said the man, "Going to sweep you up and throw you out."
 "Don't do that," said Jeremy, rousing Llort. "We're not trash, not really. Just a boy and his troll, that's us, off looking for the Department for Runaways.”

 “Why you're in the wrong corridor," said the goat-headed man.  Take the crossroads down yonder, cross over three squares and take a down-elevator to another level. That’ll get you closer. Ask questions after that. You're a long way from where you want to go.”

 "Llort! We're in the wrong corridor," said Jeremy.
 "I heard him,” said the troll. "Say, my good man. Do you know where we can get a bite to eat, and perhaps a warm pool to scrape away some of this mud?'

 "That's no problem," said the man. "Take the Sunrise door. You can't, miss it,  just before the intersection. Brightest door you'll come to. Take care now and good luck.”
 “Thanks," said Jeremy, brushing the muck,from his trousers and then looking apologetically, "I'm sorry about the dirt."

 "Never mind," said the man. "I sweep up a thousand tons a day and another thousand every night. That's my job you know. I don't mind another few pounds, not at all."

 "Then we're on our way," said Llort. "Come on boy," he said, taking Jeremy by the arm. Their feet made slurping  sounds as they struggled down the hallway under the heavy load of dirt that had crusted on them.
 "There it is! There's the door!" yelled Jeremy. "Look how bright it is, just look at that window. Come on!”

The light streaming through the door’s window looked almost as if it could melt through the glass. “Let's go! Now!"
 "Take your time," said Llort. "Just remember how quickly we got into trouble last time. This place has a million secrets, you know.".
 “Only a million!" said Jeremy. “More like a million times a million. I'll bet there's no end to the magic doors. I could stay here, forever and ever." The boy stopped and thought for a moment then shook his head. " No, I can’t do that, I’ve got to go back and find Ned."
 "Sure," said the troll. "If the Manglers don’t get us first.”

But only after we wash up and have some breakfast," said the boy, laughing and pulling the troll after him. He opened the door; sunlight, like liquid honey, flowed out; the sound of trumpets heralded either their arrival or the arrival of daybreak. Llort laughed and let himself be pulled into the room. There was no hurry anyway. Why, after a thousand years of work, he deserved a holiday. And one of these days they'd find the right door.

 So, laughing and arm in arm, the two friends tumbled down a grassy-green knoll to splash into a verdant pond below as a rooster crowed from the highest hill and ducks splashed out of the way. And the water fight began.

Later, as their clothes lay drying on the hillside, Llort showed the boy how to find mushrooms and other edibie plants and berries. Finally, with a full belly, they sat at the edge of the pond.
 “I still have to go back, “ said Jeremy.
 "But...Yeah, I know," said Llort, "your brother....”
 "Un-huh. Couldn't I... I mean we... bring him back here?”
 “Afraid not, said the troll. "Once you leave here that's it. We're quits for evermore. I knew you'd....”

 "What?"
 "Never mind."
 "You were right Llort. I'm just like all the rest, when it comes right down to it.”
 "Naw! It's not your fault. Human's are just pretty soft, specially when it comes to their own kin."
 "You mean trolls aren't like that?"
 "Not at all -- independent,  self sufficient, that's us.”

 Jeremy was quiet for a while. "I'll stay Llort," he said, eyes downcast. I got you in trouble, made you break the rules and now I want to run out on you.”
 "Yeah," said Llort, under his breath.

Jeremy stood and inhaled deeply, spread his arms wide and filled his lungs. "That's it," he said. "I'm gonna stay. You're my troll and I gotta take care of you too.”
 Llort cocked his head and squinted at the boy. “You mean that?" he said.

 Jeremy said nothing for a while, then finally: "Come on,  get up. We have to find that Land of Runaways before the Manglers find us, right?"

 They got dressed and wandered back up the hill and cautiously entered the hallway. For a while they scampered from one door to the next, trying to locate the right entrance to their land of escape.

 "This might be it," said Llort as they stood before a door, a door just like all the rest but with a rosy-glow illuminating the frosted glass window.

 Jeremy looked at the troll, then down the corridor at all the other doors. "But," he said. "How can you tell? They all look alike."

 You forget, Human-child, that I have some special talents."  Llort reached for the handle but Jeremy grabbed hold of his sleeve and held the hand back.

 “What's the matter," said the troll," changed your mind?"

 “No! I guess not,'' replied the boy, looking downcast as Llort opened the door.
There was really nothing to see but a thick fog rolling about slowly over a tiled-floor that vanished just a few feet within the room.

 "You see," said Jeremy, "It's the wrong place. Come On! Let's go look some more. How about another swim back in Pleasure?  “The boy turned and reached for the door handle but there was none.
  "Llort! The door's gone."
 "Shhh! Quiet!" said the troll: "Listen."

 There was the sound of a wind, a constant breeze, soft, rustling like tree leaves rubbing together. "Come," said Llort. "Gently."
 Together they advanced into the room, one step at a time, through the mist, greyness swirling behind them, "What's that?" whispered Jeremy, pointing to a dark form huddled low toward the floor. The shape came toward then moving on hands and knees, fingers sliding over the floor, making slow circles as if searching for a lost coin. Llort and Jeremy squatted as the figure came to their feet, explored their shoes, the hem of Jeremy's trousers. A shiver of fear went through the boy, but quieted as a gentle face looked up, smiling at him. "I think I've found it," said the old man. "Yes, it must be. You must be me..."

 Jeremy looked quizzically at the man, then he glanced toward Llort who quietly nodded that all was well. "My name's Jeremy," said the boy.

 An expression of disappointment moved across the man’s face. “Oh!”  he said, a tone of sadness modulating his voice. "Then you're not me.." and his hand fell away from the boy to continue making circles on the floor. "Where did it go?" said the man. "I know it's here . . .  somewhere. If only I could find it. I Had it just the other day." Soon his voice was lost and his form gone, swallowed by the greyness of the place.

 "What's he looking for?" asked Jeremy.
 Llort sighed and took a deep breath. "His life, his youth, memories of a time gone by."

 "Hmmm," muttered Jeremy remembering the stucco house, the yellow light drifting through the window, the image of his mother cooking good things in the kitchen and his brother Ned. Llort was remembering a time, long long ago when he lived in a forest land, as a child, within the comfort of a giant-tree with his seventy-six brothers and sisters and...

 Peacefully both boy and troll slid down to the floor and, with hands making circles, rubbing carefully the smooth floortiles, they began looking for the things they had lost. Jeremy found a tile, rubbed it, watched the square begin to shimmer, the mist fade from it; a yellow glow appeared within its center.

  A sad smile came to the boy's face, one corner of his mouth drooped as the image of a seashore filled the tile. There he was, building sand-castles at the water's edge, his mother sitting higher up on the beach, sunning, reading a book from beneath a beach umbrella, while his younger brother made mud houses just a short distance away.  Jeremy watched the image of himself as it added another building to his structure and connected it to his main fort, then added a channel to bring in the ocean, to fill the lake within...  Jeremy reached out to help the boy,

 Touching the square Jeremy  found the image vanishing, a circle of clouds closing in around the ocean and the scene getting smaller, shrinking into nothing. Frantically the boy tried to rub it back again but the square was now cold and lifeless. "Ooh!" he murmered, looking up briefly to find his friend Llort, saw someone nearby, searching,  just as he, and returned his concentration to the tiles.

 "There must be another one," said the boy, crawling along the floor searching every tile, rubbing, trying to coax an image from the squares. And again he found one, the face of a man far away, his father. Here was a kind man, a loving man who loved his son and took him to ball games. Jeremy watched the scene of boy and man eating popcorn on a hot summer day as they cheered on a winning team.

 Wanting desperately to be part of the scene Jeremy tried to touch that man, and he wished he could be the miniature of himself; but in touching the tile he broke the delicate surface of crystal-membrane and the scene broke into tiny pieces that fell, tinkling, down a black shaft. He looked up again; there was the shape of the other searcher, a little further off to his left..

 Llort was having a grand old time watching himself and the horde of brothers and sisters scramble from limb to limb high up in the old family tree. There was Aarksvark with the marvelous sense of humor, always dropping lizards down the girl’s dresses.

Llort watched his brother do a loop in mid-air, catch a branch, swing up to another and stand balancing on the narrow limb. What a shame the old boy had died at Dragon-gorge. The tiny figure of Aarksvark teetered on the edge of the limb, seemed to lose his balance. Llort reached out, tried to help the brother, his hand came in contact with the tile. Pop! Out went the light -- no more image.

 “Oooh!" gasped Llort, looking up, he turned around, saw a crawling figure to his left. "Must be the boy," he thought, and crawled some more, looking for another tile, another memory. But, as he moved on, he noticed more figures to his right and then a dim outline in front.

  “Jeremy!" called the troll. "Which one is you?" But, there was no answer. Quickly the troll got to his feet and ran to the figure to his left. It was a woman dreamily looking into the tile which showed a young child in the arms of a dark-haired lady. Llort ran to the figure that had been on his right. It was only a man dreamily watching the tile of a family gathering.

 Jeremy!" yelled the troll to no avail. His search of the figures around him turned  up one wrong person after another, and as he moved off in search of the boy, the troll realized that his chances of finding Jeremy grew slimmer as he traveled further away from their starting point.

 Dimly, Jeremy heard his name being called as he looked into the tile, the tile of himself as a babe being washed by his mother. He melted into the image, hypnotized by the tender caresses. A sensual rapture spread through the boy as he tried to merge with the babe being washed, reached out, to grasp the woman's hand, to guide it toward him; the woman looked away from the babe, through the tile into the face of the older boy.

"Son,! she spoke. '"Don't lose yourself in this place, these dream's. Even though we've lost each other in another world and time, my thoughts are ever with you. Go to your friend, find him before its too late." His hand reached to the tile, through it, to touch the warmth of the woman's soft skin; but even as their fingers met,the image rippled, like water on a pond and disappeared.

He recognized the image immediately and a cold shudder ran the entire length of his body. They were in a car driving along a cold icy road -- a heavy snow crusted the windshield and his father cursed at vehicles coming in the opposite direction as they threw a spray of cold icy water onto the window. Jeremy and Ned sat in the backseat, his mother and father in the front.
 In the distance ahead were the headlights of a truck coming at them -- roaring down the long icy hill. "Stop!" screamed Jeremy,

"Stop! . . .  That truck's going to . . . " But there was no time and no way to stop the future rushing at them. As those blinding headlights of the out of control truck roared at them, father struggled with the wheel, trying to get them out of harm's way. And, he almost made it, but there was just not enough room. Mother turned to the children, her arms out to protect them, terror reflecting deep within her eyes. Their car lurched at the edge of the road, then careened over the edge to roll, over and over down the hillside.

Jeremy closed his eyes and when he opened them again he and Ned were standing side by side, they were dressed in their Sunday clothing, and looking down into a gaping pit in the earth as some preacher droned on saying something about eternal rest unto their souls and something else. And then it was over. His Aunt reached over and took Ned's hand. Jeremy looked into the face of his Uncle who quickly looked away. But in that moment of eye contact Jeremy could see the future, his and Ned's, and it was not good.

Jeremy watched the image fade and again he was back in the mist, moving on his hands and knees across the floor.
 Jeremy blinked, gasped and came awake remembering that his mother had died in that terrible car crash when he was eleven. He thought of the years that followed and the unhappiness of living with his uncle and aunt. Holding back tears of sorrow for himself he began searching again for another tile, another dream. Again came the voice from out of the mist, his name, "Jeremy" being called.

 In front of him a tile pulsed and he reached exploratory fingers toward the image that seemed to draw him to it. A man's face filled the tile, once again his father, the father he missed so much.
  "Jeremy!" called a voice, "Jeremy!, it's Llort. Can you hear me?"

 "Llort," whispered the boy, "My father -- Llort?" Something was wrong and even as the image in the tile distorted from the smiling man to that of his uncle using a strap on his brother Ned, Jeremy pulled his mind, wrenched it loose from the floor and staggered to his feet.

“Llort!" yelled the boy, ''Llort! I'm here." He waited for the sound of his friend's call. And then the voices began, quietly at first, but growing louder all the time. "I'm here!" called a woman "I'm here!" called an old man. "Look for me here!" came the cry of another. "Here!" and "Here!" Soon there was a chorus of thousands, their voices filling the space as the gathering rose to their feet, and called to the ones they had left behind.

There was running, the sound of running feet, as the figures gathered and moved as one, still chanting their rhythmic, "Here! Look for me here! I'm here!' Look for me here!" The crowd surged past Jeremy, thrusting him aside.
 He fell to the floor, gasping, as one foot stepped on his stomach, another trampled the side of his head. Desperately the boy rolled into a ball, trying to recover his balance so that he could get to his feet.

A hand grabbed for him, that of a woman seeming to come out of nowhere, lifting him to his feet, and another hand, that of a man, a man that seemed to look, for that brief glance, like his father; but then the boy was on his feet, running with the mob, immersed within the chant.

 The surging, chanting group raced through the fog, carrying the boy in their midst. Occasionally, Jeremy heard the sound of his name, "Jeremy!" and he answered it with the name of his friend. "Llort! Find me Llort!" until the cry of the mob wiped it out with their echo of, "Llort! Llort!  Find me Llort!"

 But the motion of the many bodies seemed to have created a wind which swept the mist swirling away into the sky and patches of blue punched through the gloom. Jeremy was tired, his legs ached but he dared not slow, lest he be trampled by the feet of the horde.

  With the passing of the mist and the coming of a blue sky, the boy found himself running within a small pack of people, as individuals peeled away from the main throng, each still chanting his call, but taking a seperate path, diverging from the main, until the boy was alone. He stopped and looked around to see the last of his companions-in-despair receeding over gentle undulating hills. On the top of one hill stood a troll, waving to him.

 Jeremy climbed the slope. They stood together for a while neither one saying a word, both of them looking out over open water.

 "Llort?” said the boy.
 "Yeah!" said the troll. "You don't have to say it. I know what you have in mind."
 Jeremy shuffled his sneakers, “If it wasn’t for Ned," he said, "I'd stay here with you... forever.”
 "I know," said the troll.

 "Don't feel bad," said Jeremy. "I'm going back to get him and take him away from them. Then I’m gonna teach him how to use his imagination and to find his own way...  You know, like you. Then we're coming back, both of us. You'll have two sons’ that’s better than one, isn't it?"

 Llort smiled. "You know kid, you're all right. Just remember:
no matter what problems come up in your life,  try  think of  your trials  as an adventure, just another problem to solve. Now, come on. Let's get you out of here and send you on your way back home."

 For a while they hiked along the bluff, Llort scanning the beach for something. As they walked along the banks they passed old ruins which were overgrown with vegetation and covered by sand dunes.

“What are all these ruins?” asked Jeremy.
 “Temples to the old gods,” replied Llort.
 “What do you mean old gods? Were there more than one?”
 “Back in the old days of your world there were lots of gods.”
 “What happened to them?”
 “Obsolete -- out of favor. Your writer. . .  Dunsany was his name said something like: ‘the gods that are not worshipped now are asleep . . .’
 “But won’t they ever wake again?”

 Llort shrugged his shoulders, “Who knows! People are fickle - rock stars, clothing styles, religions, who can tell what the public will turn to next. But look, over there, that’s what we’re searching for!”
 "It's a boat!" cried Jeremy. "But! Where are we going?"

 Llort was on his way, sliding down the sandy bluff on his way to the beach. "To the Hanging Ocean," he said, tumbling and rolling down the hill, with Jeremy cartwheeling behind him.

 It was a beautiful boat with the figurehead of a swan and as the two climbed aboard, the craft moved out towards the open sea. Llort unfurled a sail from the mast to catch the winds from land and then lay back, his head against the gunwhale; he stretched out and take a nap. Jeremy watched the land receed for a long time and then, as it disappeared, he was entranced by the concept of being totally surrounded by water -- then he too lay down and slept.

Much later Jeremy awakened to the dull sound of what he took to be thunder. Llort was checking the craft for supplies and anything they might need on their trip. There was a cask of water, and a compartment with food and other gear.
 "Hope we dont need these,” said Llort holding up a pair of swords.
 “You will and soon... Soon!” came a voice from the top of the mast. Jeremy looked up at Elving, the small fairy of their encounter in the elevator.
 “What's up?" said Llort.
 "Can't stay, can't be seen with you, but beware, the Manglers are on your trail. Keep clear of the mists and the fog or you're dead."
 ''Thanks," said Llort. "We're much obliged."

Like a dragonfly the fairy left the mast and hovered over the surface of the water, darting away, swallowed up by the sea.
 Thunder grew louder and soon Jeremy could make out a giant wall of water that filled the sky and the mists where it thundered at the edge of the sea.

 “There's mists!  The fairy  said to watch out for the mists,” warned Jeremy .
 Llort adjusted the angle of their sail and they moved on a parallel course with the enormous waterfall of an ocean.

 “What do these Manglers look like?"
 “Never saw them myself," said Llort. But I’ve had them described by others. Their leader's  got heads, three of them that is: body of a man, and the heads of three serpents. Then there's the bear with a man's head and a two-headed guy with a dinosaur's body and... some other pretty creepy looking fellas."

"I don't think I want to meet them," said Jeremy, eyeing the compartment that held the weapons. Llort caught his movement and opening the latch, took out the short-swords and handed one to the boy. "Get used to this," he said. "You’ll probably need it before we’re done.”

 Jeremy tested the blade against the air, then slipped it under his belt. He was no stranger with a blade, at least not in this land, and he knew that Llort was a troll who could hold his own in battle.
 “What are we searching for?" said Jeremy.
 “Hard to explain," answered the troll. "We’re looking for a place where the water ripples just a bit. There's a current there that'll take us through the falls...if we're lucky.”
 "And if we’re not lucky?”
 "Then we become part of the falls going...wherever it goes.”
 "Where's that?"

"I'm not sure anybody's ever come back to tell about it.”
 "Oh," said the boy, craning his neck over the side, looking diligently for ripples.
 An island came into sight off their port bow, an island lying low in the water and shrouded in mist.
 "Over there. There's ripples," said the boy, pointing to the farthest side of the island. "Lots of mist too."

Llort adjusted the tiller and, keeping as far from the island as he could, he readjusted their course to pass into the area of rippling water, with the bow pointed directly toward the falls.
 "We might as well give it a try," he said.
 Jeremy nodded in silent, but wary, agreement.

Entering the area of ripples the boat now obeyed a force other than the wind; a strong current took hold and pulled the vessel, like it was on a rope, directly toward a fogbank. In a short while they were obscured by the white blanket and their field of vision dropped to a few feet.

 “Llort, I think I'm scared."
 "It's all right," said the troll. "I don't feel any danger here."
 "Are you sure?”
 "Yep!"

 Jeremy gripped the gunwhale in both hands and tensed for what might come their way. The boat shuddered slightly in response to a scraping noise beneath the hull.
 "What's that?" queried Jeremy.
 "Just a sandbar: nothing more."

 More scrapings jarred them, slowing their speed. Suddenly Jeremy heard a loud, continuous scrape from beneath him and the boat ground to a halt.
 "Blast!" spouted Llort.

 The troll vaulted from the bow into ankle-deep water and wrestled with the vessel, trying to push it back into the moving current, but his strength was not enough.
 "Come on Boy! give me a hand."

Jeremy eased into the warm water; his  feet came in contact with the granular bottom. Together the two pushed with all their might and managed to get the craft off the bar for just an instant before the current shoved it back, almost on top of them.

 "Too strong for us, Boy: let’s try to pull it across the bar."

 Pulling and grunting they made slight headway but gradually the boat moved across the sandbar where they could get behind it and push.

 "That's better," said Llort. we’re gaining.
 ''How far?"
 Llort stopped and mopped his forehead. Jeremy did the same.
 There's no way to tell in this gloom. And we don’t dare leave the boat and explore for any distance."

There was the sound of a horn in the distance, a melancholy tone with sinister overtones that caused the hairs on the back of the boy's neck to rise.
 “What! what’s that?”
 "Probably just a fog horn."
 "You sure?"
 "...I...well, yeah, I'm sure. It's just a foghorn."
 "You're not just trying to keep me from getting scared?" asked the boy.
 "Let's push some more," said the troll.

 Sometimes the pushing was hard, as when the vessel moved over a high spot in the sand;  at other times they thought they had come to the end, when the water came to their thighs, and the boat was just about floating free; but within a few steps they found themselves pushing hard again.

 Every five minutes or so, that persistent horn would sound again; now and then it appeared very far away but occasionally the source seemed to be almost upon them.

And then a new sound entered the picture, there were splashing noises from behind them, so the two pushed even harder, until finally the vessel grounded and they came to an absolute halt.
 “I'm tired," said the boy, "Can't go...further."
 Llort grunted and gulped in air. "Listen," he said. The splashing sounds had grown louder.
 “Llort. Do you think its them, Manglers Eight?"
 "Might be, but, don't let your imagination get carried away.”
 "What do we do now?"

"Come on, " said Llort. "We can't go any further with this ark, and we can't push it back ..and we certainly aren’t going to wait and see who's coming. The island's over there. Let's go!”

 Leaving their craft behind, the two adjusted their weapons and, hand in hand, strode through the mist in the direction of the island. In front of them the horn sounded its note of mystery while behind the movement of something in the water continued.

 "Look!" said Jeremy. "I can see a hole in the fog.
 “It's the island!"

 They ran the remainder of the way, shoving aside the mantle of fog and stepping out onto a lush green island. Stopping for a moment on the beach, they tried to scout a direction away from the water and so scanned the entire scene quickly. The beach to either side of them curved away out of sight and ahead merged with gentle hills. The island, it seemed, was bigger than they had been able to gauge from the sea, for in the background, loomed several peaks of considerable height.

 Without talking, the troll and boy jogged up  the beach toward the interior, rapidly leaving the sand far behind as they wound among the hills, gradually moving higher all the time.

A roar shattered the air. Troll and boy came to a halt, Jeremy tilted forward and fell face-first in the grass, but quickly regained his footing .

 "What! what ! " he gasped.
 “Quiet!" whispered Llort. He left the boy for a moment while he moved to the crest of the hill and carefully moved into position to look toward the beach. A brief glance was all he needed.

Jeremy shuddered in the grass, imagining all kinds of monstrous sights and was relieved when Llort scrambled back beside him.

 Is it?...Is it them?"
 Llort nodded his head. "It's them all right. Three of them anyway.”
 “Which ones?”
 “Ghork, with the snake heads, Faul with the bear’s body and an ugly looking pet with four arms and a dragon's head."
 “Do we have to fight em?"
 “Not a chance with those things," said the troll, patting the sword at his belt. We’ll have to try and hide. Come on! Let's move.”

occasional horn blasts. Llort ground his heels into the turf and came to an abrubt halt; Jeremy crashed into him.
 “That horn!" exclaimed Llort. "We’ve got to find that horn."
  “ W...why?"
 "Not now: I'll explain later. Quiet! and listen.”

 They stood their ground for one moment then another, listening for the muted horn. From the hills to their right came that sound, low and resonant.

 "It's pretty far away but I think we can make it before...”

 Llort was off at a gallop. Jeremy caught his breath and took off after his friend. Neither spoke for a long time saving their strength. Though several times Jeremy straggled  behind and Llort had to slow down or stop for the boy to get his wind.

 “ Can't keep up!" gasped Jeremy.
 "Do you want to wait for them?"
 "No! " gulped Jeremy. "Give..me....a minute.”

 So they waited and listened again for the horn which seemed to have moved further to their right but was not any further away. The boy nodded to his troll and they were off again jogging slower this time, trying to fall into a rythm of breathing.
 At last the hills leveled out and the boy seemed to do better in his gait. The horn sounded directly ahead of them and Jeremy tripped and went down on one knee.

 "Wait Llort!"

 But the troll had sensed his fall and turned back to help him up. Jeremy saw the expression of terror on Llort's face as the troll’s hand froze in mid-air reaching to give him a lift. The same hand pulled back and moved to the short-sword, jerked it quickly from the belt, and raised it shoulder height.

"Don't look back," cautioned Llort. "Just get up. Quickly! And move toward the mound of rocks in back of me.

 Jeremy was too curious at this stage; he stood and turned his head to take in Llort's field of vision. What he saw made him shudder throughout. Advancing toward them was a gigantic creature with multiple clawed-talons, and a face like tyranossaurus rex with fangs to match.  Shakily, the boy withdrew his own sword and moved to stand, side by side, with Llort. A grunt from the left side of the hill attracted the boy's attention to a bear-like beast emerging from the shrubbery. Its head was that of a man, but distorted and twisted, the mouth, well-fanged, growling.

Jeremy swallowed hard. For a brief moment the boy allowed himself a taste of pity as he visualized the little brother who would never see him again and he caught a glimpse of his own body-parts strewn over the hillside, this time for real. Then he shook off the image and planted his legs wide apart; he turned to face the bear, leaving the bigger beast for Llort.
 “Move slowly," said Llort. "Behind us; those rocks; don't turn around, but keep walking slowly backward..."

 The boy moved in unison with the troll, stepping cautiously lest he fall, and kept his eyes fixed on the advancing bear. The silent air broke with a growl from the bear, echoed by a roar from the other great beast, as both moved in for the kill.
 Llort and Jeremy had closed the distance to the mound of boulders, when a sound fractured the day which totally immobilized both troll and boy.

A shrieking, rattling, hissing multiple-sound came from their unprotected right side. Breaking the spell of fear, Jeremy twisted his head in the direction to confront a tall man-shaped being, clothed in dark fabric and cape, but whose head was a writhing, three-headed snake, yellow-eyed glowering hate. In reflex, Jeremy raised and hurled his sword directly at the thing. A shriek erupted upon impact as the blade penetrated the neck of the central head.

 “Get to the rocks!" yelled Llort, pushing the boy in that direction. Jeremy needed no further urging and plunged among the boulders, trying to wriggle himself down into the recesses of escape. The troll was right behind him, but backing in, holding the sword at arm's length to protect their rear.

 Jeremy kept moving, relieved if only momentarily, that the  tunnel kept going further down. One hand felt ahead while the other tried to keep in contact with his companion.

Outside, the sounds of angry beasts, gnashing and roaring, churned the countryside, and for a while the two companions could feel the impact upon the boulders that shielded them from the creatures efforts to pulverize and widen the crawl space.
 

 There was an end to the tunnel and the boy squirmed around within the small space to feel for his troll, but there was no one there.

 "Llort!" he whispered, once again and again, but no answer.
 "Llort!" he said louder, but the thought of being heard outside caused him to fold his arms around himself, shivering in cold fear, and to listen for a hint of his friend.

The boy thought of Llort, perhaps lying hurt in the tunnel, and the concern for himself drained gradually away. He had to go back, no matter what. A terrible growl from the world outside caused him a momentary emotional set-back, which he gulped into submission. Then he made up his mind and groped forward, and upward, feeling ahead of him as he traveled.

Quiet descended upon the boy, cutting him deeper than a blade-slash. In desperate fear for his friend, Jeremy scuttled faster through the tunnel, coming to light at the end, and still no Llort. Cautiously he came to the opening and looked out. The field was empty.

 "Llort," he whispered. "It's me, Jeremy, where are you?"

 No answer, no sound met his ears. With all his senses alert the boy pulled himself from the opening, out into the air, ready, at the slightest sound or movement, to dive back into his cover. He stood and walked out into the field scanning his head from side to side; he was alone.

"What...?'' said the boy aloud, his only response to the puzzle as he stood there turning slowly from side to side. There was a rustling sound in the grass to which Jeremy stiffened, ready for flight back to the rocks. A gasp caught his ear.

"Llort! Is that you?” he said, moving one step at a time toward the sound. There was a hollow rattling noise that faded away and was gone. It took the boy every particle of courage within him to complete the last few steps to the place of the sound. And when at last he could see the origin he stiffened and froze The serpent-man lay crumpled upon the ground, a blade imbedded still within the throat; all heads lay flat upon the ground except for the center one whose head was tilted back. The eyes were open wide in death.

 Cautiously still, Jeremy moved in close to the dead creature and, reaching out at arm's length, took hold of the sword's handle and pulled it loose. A final gurgle, and reflex spasms moved the head and Jeremy jumped back to stand, sword raised, in defense of his life; though, the serpent moved no more.

 Jeremy lowered his sword and scanned the countryside once again; This time he heard the sound of pounding earth as well as the sound of the horn, and he moved back toward the safety of the rocks. He saw them, there were more than five, coming toward him over the hill. Centaurs, moving two abreast charging straight toward him.

 His first instinct was to crawl back among the rocks, but a spirit of something deep inside himself caused him to reject the idea and turn instead to face the forces straight on. He backed against the boulders and held his sword at waist high level.
 For a moment doubt impinged upon his decision to stand against the horsemen, but he flinched it away and prepared to fight. His weapon had drawn blood once and could do so again

 They came at him in a single charge and the boy lifted his sword high, ready to swing in an arc.
 “Hold on!" came a man’s voices from the forward rider on the left and the steeds ground to a halt almost as a single body. "We’re here to help, not to fight you "

 Jeremy held fast, not giving in to possible deceit. He wanted to  yell at them, to question who they were, but his teeth clenched tightly against each other as adrenaline pumped furiously throught his system.

 It was their smiles that did him in, finally convincing him of their sincerity. Now the boy's energy reserve was gone, and his body broke into a shiver that raced to his hand by way of his arm and the sword lowered shakily to the ground. Tears came to the child's eyes.

 "Llort!" he croaked...and crumpled to the ground.
 When next the boy awoke, he was lying on the grass at the top of a hill. Below him was the sea, clear of any fog or mist.
 "Have some fruit," said a man's voice behind him; Smiling, the boy turned, hoping to see Llort, but instead it was one of the centaurs, holding forth an apple. Hungry, Jeremy took the food and downed it greedily. But, he refused the offer of a second.
 Where....where's Llort?!'

 The centaur looked away for a moment, then returned his eyes to the boy's. "Gone," he said.
 "Dead?" said Jeremy, tears beginning to form at the corners of his eyes.
 "No, I don't think so," replied the centaur. "We saw most of it from a distance. He injured Faul and then took off with both things chasing him. I think your troll's a  cunning devil. They’ll never catch him."
 "You really think so?"
  "I'm sure of it."
 "Who are you?"

  "One of Chiron's children. Mendle’s my  name.”
 “I've got to help Llort, go after him," said Jeremy.
 Mendle shook his head. "You'd never find him now; Look, the tides gone out and the land-bridge is open to the mainland."

 Jeremy followed the direction of the centaur's gaze to the thin strip of land that stretched for miles from the island to the horizon. He twisted around to look in the opposite way, to the fantastic wall of water known as the Hanging Ocean of Malvena that cascaded to the other horizon.

 "I'm going back home," said the boy. And then, l'm coming back, with Ned, to find Llort."
 The centaur nodded in agreement with the plan. “Come on,” he said, “My friends have hauled in your boat. It's ready for the high tide."

 Jeremy walked a while, until Mendle offered him a ride. Jeremy refused the first time, but at the second offer accepted and climbed aboard to cling to the centaur's shoulders.  They moved over  the hills and fields, past rushing streams and flowered lawns that led down to the shore.

 While they waited for the tide to turn, Jeremy talked with the band of centaurs and immediately found a sense of kinship for the gentle folk of this island. He felt sorrow at the thought of leaving so soon, but the urgency of his mission to rescue Ned overrode this concern.

 “Mendle!” asked Jeremy, “What does Etcheonda mean?”
 Mendle nodded: “It means here,” he said.
 “No, I want to know what the name means.”
 “But that’s what it means, Here -- or Home, where you’re welcome all the time.”

 The tide changed swiftly and, with instructions as to direction and approach to the Hanging Ocean, the boy took leave of his new-found friends and set sail for the wall. Actually, the sail had little effect on the voyage as the current took over when the craft was clear of the shore and Jeremy had only to man the tiller to keep the bow pointed in the right direction.

 The boy waved to the swiftly dwindling figures on the shoreline and then, as the mist and spray rose around him and the water grew choppy, he withdrew from one world and concentrated on this transition phase into another.

 The mist became a slow drizzle which increased in intensity until it changed to a pounding rain and a roar which drowned out all else. Jeremy held onto the tiller with all his strength as the little boat turned and spun, bounced and twisted, through the churning falls, carrying him to the very edge and tumbling him into space.  Jeremy felt himself falling free from the boat and he had no control over his motion as he tumbled, end over end, through a drop that seemed to go on forever, water filling his mouth and eyes, drenching him completely, flooding his senses, drowning his total being.

  With a crash he collided with a liquid surface, plunging deep, gasping for air and drawing only water, but still he struggled, clawing his way back up, and finally digging his nails into hard land, to drag himself, entirely spent, onto a grass-covered bank. There he lay gasping, retching water for a long while.

 In  time, the boy's breathing came back to normal. He sat up slowly and took in the world around him, recognizing its familiarity -- the woods close to his home. He stood up and looked around, adjusting himself to this return to his former dimension; a slight chill went through him from the coolness of the approaching evening. His shirt was gone, as were his socks and sneakers; and his jeans were soaking wet.

  But, he smiled as he looked around him once again, as he set out, up the path toward home. Several times, on the way out, he stopped and looked back toward the river. Tears mixed with laughter as he thought of “his” troll, and he knew that the old codger was okay. Jeremy stood still, listening to the bubbling of the brook, the slucing of the winds in the pines overhead; he heard the many tiny sounds of the forest creatures moving on their missions across and beneath the forest floor. He looked down at the river, at the swirling pool and up to the miniature falls that fed it.

By closing his eyes he found he could still bring himself down there; he smiled knowing that he’d never be too old for the adventures -- in this Llort was wrong. He was comforted in knowing that he could escape at the blink of an eye -- but the responsibility of Ned . . .  he had to teach Ned how to find his own way out of danger. Turning away from the river he headed toward home with a bounce to his stride, and a mission in his heart. He could hardly wait for the next adventure to begin.

“Thanks Llort!” he said. . .

- End


The Apple Orchard
 

Autumn,
 The chronometer shifts
  from emerald to rust.
I drive Connecticut back-roads
  searching --
feeling the shifting of the seasons --
  apprehensive
by the loss
  of another year.

I smell winter-apples --
  red and ripe --
   on gnarled trees --
their aroma penetrating
   through an open slit of car- window.
I try to fathom the smell --
   to use the fragrance as a wedge
 to pry into
  the closed chest of time.
I search for memories
   of real and imagined moments . . .    lost.

But  I am traveling
   too fast.
I feel the moment
  slip away,
as I circle to return
 to that place . . .
And - - passing again,
  in slow-motion . . .
I watch
 gnarled branches
   clutching at the sky --
an army of           misshapen trolls
   locked to the earth . . .
    together.
Again, I inhale
 that intangible apple-memory
    as I roll by the orchard
     wanting to stop . . .
  to savor the tantalizing fruit
    forever.
But, that is not possible - -
  and soon
   I am at the end of the road . . .

and the highway begins . . .
 

      Captain Jason Redbeard


 Do You Remember England
by Jason Redbeard






















  It was an old three-story house, sitting at the back of a wooded lot off a street that seemed always to have been there. Reputedly the house was constructed, many years ago, by a magician who came to town from nowhere or possibly England. The stranger had the house built by out-of-towners and lived there for a short while, then, just as mysteriously he disappeared and was not heard from again.

 Local legends grew up concerning the house, tales that involved the stranger in witchcraft and dark magic. There were stories that he held Druid cult meetings, attended by strangers from around the world in the woods behind the house. Supposedly the house contained secret passages that led to the underworld, but none were ever found.
 In time, after the stranger's disappearance, right after the "Hurricane of 38" the place was purchased by a Doctor Phelps who moved in with his wife and there began his family.

 Dan was reading "Mandrake the Magician" in his room when the front doorbell rang. With a lurch the boy leaped into the air and the book in his hands dropped. Almost before it landed  he was halfway down the stairs.
 "Here it is! Here's your package," said Mr. Daniels, the mailman as the brown-haired twelve year old spun onto the porch, to snatch the cardboard box out of the man's hands.

 "Hey! Take it easy," said the postman, "You'll get hurt."
 "Sorry," replied Dan, "but I've been waiting for so long."
 "Just about eight weeks," added Mr. Daniels. "I guess we won't see you so often any more, now that you have that ... package, whatever it is ..."

 Dan tried to be polite, but wished the man would leave so that he could open “that package “.
 "Well, good luck," said the man as he turned to descend the long squeeky, wooden steps of the old grey house. Just as quickly Dan was back through the screendoor and racing up the stairs, then down the long hallway, stopping just before his room.

 Dan held the package ahead of him, anxious to rip it open, yet a little frightened at the power that might lay beneath the thin skin of cardboard. "It's finally here," he whispered as he remembered that moment eight weeks ago when he had placed the six box-tops along with two dollars in an envelope, sealed it and walked downstairs to wait for the mailman.
 Now it was his. Slowly, like he was peeling an orange, Dan opened the package, breaking loose first one side, then the other. He lifted the lid and took a deep breath before going on to the next level, the crinkled, white stuffing that held his treasure.
 No! not just yet. He entered his room, walked past the brightly colored posters of Tarzan, and Buck Rodgers, the Wizard of Oz and Frankenstein. There he sat, on his unmade bed by the window as he cradled the package in both hands while letting the tingle in his stomach grow until he could bear it no longer.

  Setting the package between both knees, his thumbs gently probed through the wrinkled paper to the core. For a moment he was afraid there was nothing there, that they'd mistakenly sent him an empty package. He squeezed the paper but still he could find nothing. Losing patience he tore the package into two halves, dropped one section onto the floor while he ripped apart the first section. Nothing! In panic Dan dropped the torn pieces and snatched up the other half. Quickly he opened the second part wide. Not a thing.

 "I think I feel sick," he mumbled.
 Then his eyes widened as a thought came to him. "What if the ring fell under the bed?" Dropping to hands and knees the boy searched the orange rug; but there was nothing under the bed beyond yesterday's dirty socks and underwear and his good shoes.

 With a sigh the boy began to stand, but then he reconsidered and knelt down one more time. Wasn't there a glint of something shining from down in that knothole at the corner of his bed? Sure! That had to be it. He was always finding strange stuff in there: nickels he had lost or fish hooks and sometimes things like jacks and marbles he'd never seen before. It was a black hole of sorts.

 Dan scurried back to his tool box and found a hook and some line and fastened them; then he was back under the bed and lowering the line into the hole. A couple of times he missed, but finally, after taking a deep breath and calming himself down, he concentrated on the task.

 There! He had it now. Gently he lifted it up and out. There it was, the ring: The Phantom Wizard Magical Ring. It was his.
 "Beautiful! Worth every penny of that two dollars." Dan held the ring in the palm of his hand enjoying the coolness of the gold metal against his skin. It was heavy too. He'd expected a little less, but this was a real ring; and the green stone set in the middle actually sparkled. He slid the ring onto the index finger of his right hand. A perfect fit. Holding it up to his face he explored the two miniature dragons who guarded the precious stone between them. On the bottom their scaly tails came together and entwined. Tiny stones set into the eyes of the dragons sparkled a red glint.

 Dan, dressed in his wizard's cape, the one he had taken from a trunk in the attic, stood in front of the bureau-mirror and pointed the ring while he narrowed his eyes into small slits.  Focusing the power of his mind through the ring he concentrated on Todd Lundgren, that bully down the steet who was always giving him a hard time. If he could make Todd disappear that would be worth the two bucks alone.

 "Zap," he said, and Todd was gone. Now for Mrs. Hageman, next year's teacher, a crabby old biddy who was acquainted with his mother. "Zap!" he said, and she was gone too. He thought of his friend Walt and almost zapped him too for not being around when he wanted him and for always being away with his parents on trips. Then suddenly, realizing what he was doing, Dan dropped his hand to his side.

 "I almost zapped Walt!" He was shocked at the act he had practically committed. "How could I think of zapping Walt?" Walt! he had to find Walt and show him the ring.
 In full flight, the boy darted through his bedroom doorway and down the hall, down the stairs to the screendoor, throwing it open and charging across the porch to leap into space, missing all the steps and landing on the grass below, to tumble once, and roll to his feet. With a bounce he was running across the wide-lawn to leap into the air, to scale the row of neatly trimmed hedges that separated the two houses. Then he was on the front porch. "Walt!" he yelled through the front door. "Walt! It's here! the ring."

 But Walt didn't come crashing down from the second story to view this most wondrous of all creations. There was silence from the house as if no one had ever lived there. Dan tried once more: "Walt! Are you home? Walt!"
 He turned away from the door, feeling sad that he couldn't share this moment with his friend. Then, half-way down the steps he froze in mid-step. "What if .. just supposing that ... No! It couldn't be .. or, could it?" He nodded his head and took another step, but came to a pause and reconsidered. "What if I had imagined that Walter had disappeared.
 Frantically Dan tried to remember his thoughts, all of them, after he'd put on the ring. Let's see now. I imagined Todd disappearing and Mrs. Hageman too. But not Walter! Not my best friend...

 Suddenly the air around him was scary, the house on whose steps he had trod became strange, electric. The hairs on the back of his neck tingled at the thought of what might have taken place. Slowly, deliberately making his mind a blank, the boy took off the ring and put it into his pocket. He had the feeling, quite strong, at that moment, that he wanted to be home, checking to see if his mother was in the kitchen, getting supper ready and that his sister Martha, who he despised, was still playing dolls in her rooms. He wanted them to be there.

 Dan walked across the lawn, parted the hedge and was half-way through the bushes when he heard the yell from down the road.
 "Hey Dan! It's me. Wait up!"

 "God! What a relief." There was Walt jogging down the sidewalk. All of a sudden, as if the clouds had opened wide on a rainy day, liquid sunshine poured over everything and the world was okay again.
 Dan let out a loud sigh, and felt in his pocket for the ring.

 "Where you been?" asked Dan.
 "Just down the street, watchin Todd and his folks packin their things."
 "What? What did you say?"
 "They're going away, for the summer. But Todd might not come back, not this year anyway."
 "How come?"
 "I don't know. Said he might stay with his aunt and uncle or somethin. I think his folks got money problems or somethin."
 "You sure?"
 "Yeah! Why wouldn't I be sure. It's no big deal, is it?"
 "What about Mrs. Hageman? What about her?"
 "I don't know anything about that witch."

 "Oh!" said Dan, "I thought you might have heard something about her. Like her going away or, you know, something like that."

 "No such luck," said the boy, "Anyways, I don't know anything about her. Hey! Did it come, the ring in today's mail?"
 Dan had been clutching the ring in his hand within his pocket. He dropped the ring into a crevice within the pocket while he slid his hand into the open. "No," he said, "Maybe in tomorrow's mail. Come on over to my house and we'll see if we can get some sodas and stuff from my Mom."

 The two boys walked across the lawn and into the house.
 That evening, when the house was quiet, and the family was either asleep, that was his sister, or quietly reading in the living room, that was his father; Dan climbed out of his second-story bedroom onto the roof and shinnied down an old oak tree to walk to the edge of the woods bordering their back lot. There he dug a hole, stopping now and then to listen to the cries of bats flying overhead, as they crossed in front of the full, orange-moon.

 He dug a hole with a table-spoon carried in his back pocket for this occasion and there he planned to bury the powerful, mystical ring where he would not be tempted to use its powers for his own selfish gain. And, he thought: "I'll save the world and all of its citizens from harm.

 Removing the ring from his finger Dan placed the band into the fresh hole and stared down at the beautiful stone which  caught rays from the moon and reflected them into his eyes.  He took up a handfull of dirt and began to sprinkle it lightly over the hole.

The boy sensed, rather than heard, a mournful wail from somewhere in the darkness which sent a shiver of chill up his spine. His second handfull sprinkled on top of the first, dimenishing the ring's sparkle, and again a wail which caused him to dump the remaining dirt and look all around him. Had the wail come from the woods, or -- or from the hole? Dan stood and backed, swinging his flashlight around him, checking 360 degrees. But there was nothing. Quickly and quietly, almost as if it was not his own thought, the boy reached down, lifted the ring, brushed off the dirt, and stuffed the glimmering jewel back into his pocket. Shivering in the damp air he returned home.

 When Fall came and school began without Mrs. Hageman, who it seemed, had gone off to England and become engaged, Dan was not certain that he had done the right thing by not burying that powerful ring. And though he never wore it or talked about the ring to anyone, including Walt, the band was always with him, usually lodged in one corner of his pant's pocket.

 One warm evening - Indian Summer it was - Dan and Walt played down in the local park, behind the volunteer firehouse where there were swings and a chute, next to the ballfield. Though both boys had outgrown the swings, or so they thought, this evening after playing ball with the kids in the neighborhood they sat and swung as they talked. It was one of those evenings where the blue of the sky and the dark of the night caused the star-field to twinkle ever bright, and the rising moon seemed to fill the sky.

 "Walt! Do you think there's life out there, like us, I mean?"
 "I don't know. There could be I suppose."
 "But would they look like us?"

 Walt shrugged as he pumped his swing higher, "Why not!"
 For a while the boys raced each other on the swings, each trying to outdo the other in height, then each, in turn reaching the limit and jerking down. But the feeling of exhileration in their stomachs was worth the effort. It was a wonderful, glorious night.
 "Walt!"
 "What!"

 "Do you think there's a god?"
 "Both my mom and dad say there is."
 "But you, I mean, what do you think?"

 Walt was silent for a while, pumping slowly now, no longer reaching for the heights, but just enjoying the wind in his face as he swung back and forth. "I don't know," he said, "I used to believe, but then, you know, finding out about Santa and the Easter Rabbit and all that. It makes you wonder just what to believe ... How about you?"
 While they were swinging, Dan found himself looking at the moon and one hand slipped into his pocket, withdrew the ring and slid it onto his finger. It seemed to fit, just right.

 "Me, well that's hard to say. I did believe, for a while but then one night when I really had my doubts I looked at the stars and asked God for a simple sign, just a little signal that he was there. I looked for anything, a shooting star, an airplane passing by or an owl would even do. But there was nothing and so I made up my mind ..."
 "So what do you think there is?"
 "I think its us, we're the gods, each one of us creates the universe in his own mind."
 "So. What happens when you die?"
 "I guess a universe somewhere blinks out ..."

 "Oh!"

 They swung in silence for a while longer, then yawns dispelled the magic of the night and both headed home. In the morning when he awoke Dan found the ring on his finger. It was comfortable there, but he felt the old fear and remembering the disappearence of Todd and Mrs. Hageman he got up early and went out into the woods, replaced the ring in the ground and covered it over.

  Though, in later years, when he tried, out of curiousity, to locate the "Ring of Power" he could never quite find the spot where it lay.

 Dan grew up, went to college and became a school teacher, and part time magician. Walt married Dan's younger sister Martha, and there was one child, a girl. As the years went by, Dan retired,  and then Walter. Dan had remained a bachelor and spent a considerable amount of his personal time doing benefit amateur magic-shows for schools, hospitals and other charities. His parents were gone now and Walter and Martha's daughter got married, leaving just the three of them alone in the two large houses. And suddenly Martha died and now there were two.

 In another neighborhood old Dan might have looked out of place, dressed as he was in top hat, long flowing cape and tuxedo; but here, walking down the quiet avenue among the old houses with wide lawns he belonged to a sort of "left-over" part of another time. In one gloved hand he carried a straight, silver cane, and in the other hand a black valise. He crossed the street and walked toward the old grey house, noting a little sadly, how run-down it was getting. Not that Walt's place next door looked any better though. Walt was reclining on a lawn chair reading, shaded by one of the great oaks that circled the property.

 "Hey Dan!" said Walt, "How'd the show come off?"
 "Pretty good Walt. But the kids are getting awfully demanding these days."
 "What'd they want - an elephant out of that hat?"
 "How'd you guess? Rabbits are pretty tame now I guess. World's changing too fast for me."
 "What do you mean?"
 "Walt. Its time we talked. There's a few things I want your thoughts on. Come on over to the porch and we'll talk about it with a beer in our mits."

 Dan went into the house and emerged wearing casual jeans and a sport shirt. When he came onto the porch Walt was sitting in his usual rocking chair, feet propped up on the railing, looking off toward some far off place.
 "You're thinking about Martha again," said Dan.
 "Un-huh! Just wishin we could have spent more time together, but I guess it wasn't meant to be... Things change."
 "Yup! They sure do. That's one of the things I wanted to talk to you about."
 "How so?"

 "Do you remember, about a year or two after Martha died; you kept thinkin she was still around; you kept hearing her in the kitchen or upstairs?"

 "Hmmm! Yeah, of course, I remember."
 "Did you think you were goin crazy ... for a while?"
 "Maybe! Yeah, I suppose I did."
 "Well! I've got almost the same problem. No! Not seein Martha, but somethin like it; I need your help to try and figure it out."
 Walt slid his feet down from the railing and, straightened his posture in the chair to turn toward his friend. "So! Tell me about it," he said.

 "I started to a couple of times," said Dan, "but I was a little embarassed."
 "Not with me, I hope."
 "Yeah! I'm guilty. A man doesn't like to feel that he's slippin but I just might be."
 "Let's hear all about it."

 "Do you remember England?"

 "It sounds a bit familiar, but no, I never heard of it."
 "How about Ireland, Scotland or Wales?"
 "No! I can't say that I've ever heard of them. Where are they?"
 "I don't know. Somethin's happened, somethin very strange. You see, up until very recently all of those places I named were countries; small though they might be, they were countries which at times were very important in history."
 "You mean ancient civilizations?"

 "No, that's the troublesome part; they were, they are, I mean, they were modern civilizations, but they've disappeared."
 "How do you mean, disappeared? They changed their names, you mean, like Constantinople and the likes ...?"
 "I'm not sure. About three months ago I noticed that there hadn't been any mention of any of those countries in the news for some time. So, just out of curiousity I went back through the micro-discs to see where they were last mentioned."

 "What did you find?"
 "That's it - nothin."
 "What do you mean nothin?"
 "It's just a simple statement of fact. I could find nothin in the news that gave even the faintest indication that any of those places had ever existed."

 "Did you go back in the history books? And ... geogaphy texts?"
 "That was the next step."
 "And ...?"
 "Nothin... they don't exist. Never did."
 "Well, that's simple then; you've made them up. Probably part of a dream that got lodged in your memory. Could be the makin of a book you know."

 "Yes, that's all well and good but I know that they existed."
 "But how can they exist if nobody knows about them? You say they're modern nations or rather modern civilizations but how can they be if nobody knows anythin about them? Phantom nations perhaps?"
 "That's not all. Does the name Japan mean anythin to you?"

 "Ja - pan! You mean as in the god Pan?"
 "See! I thought so. That was a country too. Try Australia."

 "Australia. Hmmm, sounds familiar. No, that's just because it sounds like Austria. Are you sure you don't mean Austria. Now, that's a nice little country, visited there about ten years back. Right on the ocean, a nice place to vacation. Martha loved it."

 "On the ocean is it? What about the Alps and Italy? No, don't tell me: I've looked at the maps. Those places don't exist either and a whole bunch of other places that were there when we were children. For that matter all of them were there until just over a year ago, but now they're gone."

 "Dan. Have you ... I mean, have you been for a check-up lately?"
 "Yep! Just this week and by the way it was a psychological check-up. I had the same question on my own lips. But the Doc gave me a clean bill of health. My memory losses were due to aging, he said."
 "Did you mention this problem, the loss of whole nations?"

 "Well no. I didn't tell him about that."
 "Uh-huh! Don't you think you should have told him?"
 "Sure, but I didn't want him to think I was crazy."
 "Oh, I don't think it's that bad, just some minor delusions. Perhaps some chemistry imbalance, probably a few pills would straighten you out; don't you think?"

 "No Walter! I wish it was that simple. I think what's happening is that those countries have been stolen."
 "Oh come on now! How could anyone steal a country? It just isn't rational, is it? And why are you the only one who remembers them? I trust that you've made additional inquiries."
 "I have and nobody does, nobody remembers them... Still, I do. Here, let me show you. I've started a journal with all the information I can remember about them. Mostly its bits and pieces. I never was much of a history bug. Though, as you can see, there's quite a bit of information here."

 Walt took the journal and went through it. "Hmmm! This is impressive Dan. If it was fiction you could probably get it published. Why don't you try the science fiction markets?"
 "Because its not fiction; those places really existed."
 "Have you tried a travel agent, tried to book a ticket then?"

 "That I have; went down to Brownstone Travel; still no luck. They never heard of any of them."
 "Well then! Isn't that enough Dan? If the travel agencies never heard of them, surely they don't exist." Walt smiled and sipped his beer. "If those places were there you can bet that someone would be selling tickets to them."
 "I hear you Walt! And I know that I don't have a single written fact to stand on. Perhaps I am crazy, though I don't feel any different than I ever did. A little older maybe."

 "Don't get worried," said Walt, "It happens all the time. Go back to your doctor, fill him in on the details you overlooked. He'll probably find the answer on page 256 or somethin of his medical book. I'm sure its a chemical problem, imbalance. It usually is you know; and they have pills for that sort of thing."

 "I guess you're right, but those places ... that England and Scotland, Wales, Japan, Italy and ... and the rest. It seems like they've always been a part of my world and I can't see how they come into it ... or rather, how they got away from us."
 The men finished their beers. It was Walt's turn to cook that evening so they went over to his house for ham sandwiches, watched a football game on tv for a couple of hours and then each retired to his own home.
 And, though they met each day it was over three-weeks before the conversation went back to that evening's subject.
 "Walt?"

 "Yes Dan."
 "You know that conversation we were having just the other day about disappearing nations?"
 "I seem to recall somethin of that nature. Did your doctor prescribe a pill?"
 "I haven't been to see him yet, though maybe I will next week."

 "Oh!"
 "But Walt! Do you remember tellin me about your vacation, the one you and Martha took in Austria ... about ten years ago?"
 "Austria! Austria? No, I don't think so. Actually I've never heard of the place. Is it another one of your vanished civilizations?"
 "You really don't remember it, Walt, from our talk the other day?"
 "Sorry Dan; if I'd been to such a place as that I'd certainly remember it now, wouldn't I?"
 "I guess so; the whole thing is terribly confusing. Europe? How about Europe? Do you know anythin about it?"
 "Europe ... That doesn't sound the least bit familiar. You've certainly got an imagination for names Dan. You should think about writin that novel."

 "How about Greece Walt? You know: the god Pan .. and all that mythology?"
 "Mythology! Greece! Pan! Those are interesting names; I'm certain you could write an excellent fantasy story. Why don't you give that a chance?"
 "I think I might, right after I visit my doctor."
 "Good idea."
 "Dan cooked hot-dogs for supper with ripe red tomatoes plucked fresh from the backyard garden. They ate, listened to the tv for a while, and returned home to their separate houses.

 Time passed. Dan sat alone rocking his chair on the porch of the crumbling home. He looked across the beach to the endless expanse of ocean and remembered a vague neighborhood that might once have been there. And he thought of his friend, brother-in-law and neighbor Walt who had once lived only a stone's throw away. As if to test the thought about distance he got up, carefully walked down the steps to the beach and picked up a rock which he threw in the direction where Walt's porch once was. The stone splashed and disappeared beneath the waves.

 Dan placed his hands, clasped them, behind his back and began his circumnavigation of the world. Rounding the backyard he looked into the distance at the watery horizon and stopped to remember the woods that had been there. His attention was attracted to a sparkle on the beach and so he walked there, stooped down and retrieved the circle, washed it in the salt water and held it up to the light. He smiled at the gold band, the dragons holding a green stone between them and tried to remember where he remembered it from. The ring had been his once, he was almost sure of that, but when?"

 "Oh well, " he shrugged, "It doesn't matter anyway." And pocketing the ring, he continued the short walk back to his starting point at the front porch. It was getting to be a chore, all that walking, with his arthritis and all. It was certainly a big world, but somehow it had once been bigger.

  Climbing the steps he sat on the porch and watched the waves. Several times he patted his pocket to make sure the ring was still there and tried to search back through the haze of his mind to remember it, but the mist was too thick.
 Dan thought he'd like to go on down to the library to do some research on disappearing continents, but wondered how he could do that. And then he'd like to consult with Walt about all the changes in the world, but that didn't seem to be possible either. So he settled for going back up the stairs to the study.

 On the way in, the golden ring fell through a hole in his pocket and then bounced twice on a floorboard to vanish down a crack to the darkness below the house.

 Dan climbed the stairs, entered the study and, taking a geography text down from the bookshelf, opened it at random. The page was blue; as a matter of fact every page he opened to was blue and nothing more. Except for one page that seemed to have a single tiny dot on it, a fly speck perhaps. But he brushed this speck away and watched it fall off the page.


       Voyager
 

Early morning in March ... Buffalo Bill begins his descent to the pavement ...

 Voyager initiates telemetry of the surface of Jupiter.

He groans in his sleep -- chased through alleys of his mind by childhood demons, reborn.

 Bright orange bands swirl with red streaks.

He pisses his pants and pukes upon a grimy sidewalk.

 Cameras begin shooting at 350,000 kilometers, focusing on the Great Red Spot.

Men and women, on their way to work, detour around the snoring man: they step over a wet circle that spreads from him.

 Into the camera's range Io and Europa appear as baubles against the great Jupiter Mother.

The sun is kind today, beating warm rays upon the wretched man who hugs the sidewalk.

 There is a noticeable color difference between Io and Europa.

Midmorning in the city and Buffalo Bill groans and thrashes in his sleep. One hand scratches his groin ...

 Ganymede comes into view followed by Callisto -- both moons have vast amounts of ice ...

Buffalo Bill rubs his eyes and struggles up ... looks around him trying to focus on the world.

 Callisto exhibits its impact basin, a bright circular spot, about 600 kilometers across ...

He leans against a brick wall, adjusting his trousers, then cages a quarter from a passing tourist ...

 On March 5, Voyager makes its closest approach to Jupiter, sending back time-lapse pictures of the counterclockwise motion of the atmosphere.

Buffalo Bill has caged three more quarters ... He saunters down the avenue toward Mick's Bar and the start of a new day ...

 Detailed photographs of Jupiter reveal the intricate and involved structure of the Red Spot, before the spaceship moves on to its rendezvous with Saturn.
 
 

            Captain Jason Redbeard


    TRAVELS WITHIN THE ELECTRO-PLANE
     by Jason Redbeard






















 Look son! Like I said, I have always kept a journal. No, not a recorder, but here in a little book, like this one. I like the feel of stylus on massus, used to be called paper where I came from; almost the same thing, only massus lasts forever, or so they say.

 So what is it you want to know? I probably have it written down somewhere or other. Yes, I was one of the first star-travellers. Hold on now! If you want really technical information I'm not your man; you'll have to find a scientist for that. Okay!  You want the historical perspective on how it started. Well, I don't know if I can help you out much with that either. You'd probably  get better info  from a library bank.

 Here's the problem. Physically I'm thirty-five years old but mentally and emotionally... now that's something else. Continuity wise I'm around nine-hundred and fifty. But, hold on now! Up here, in the cranium, I don't have that much memory stored. Each time I do a dump into a new body we do some editing, cut out a lot of stuff, otherwise it would get pretty confusing over a lifetime or two. As a matter of fact, the junk we accumulate in one lifetime is almost too much as it is. Now, I've been through ten conversions.

 After a hundred years or so one needs a new frame, new shape, sometimes a different sex. I've been one of the them, the other sex,  I mean sexes, three times. And, it certainly was different. But you want my thoughts about the early years. Well, I've kept some of those memories, edited them, consolidated a lot, of course, but in general the early memories are still intact; call me sentimental..

Valentine was the one started the whole game going. He'd been a self-taught engineer who worked at Yale, knew Delgato, Benet, Kindlmon, and had worked in most of the disciplines, physics, chemistry, psychology, engineering; he really knew his  stuff.

 Experimenting at home in his own lab Val put it all together, a system for magnetically coupling brain-waves, memories and all, onto super-dense magnetic substrates. At first he didn't realize what he'd come up with; basically he was searching for a new way to control vehicles, trains, cars, planes with the mind directly interfaced for steering, braking and the likes.

 It took him several years to get it right. I was working with him at the time, as a technician doing routine wiring and layout; I put together a lot of the original circuits, but he did the really fine stuff and was the only one who knew how the whole system came together. Gradually he began to see what some of the grand possibilities were and in the process he dropped lots of commercial jobs as the "Brain-Scan" project took up more and more space. Finally it overflowed practically onto the streets and we had to find an old factory with lots of floor-space to move into. Just moving took us weeks, and it damned near drove him mad to have to "waste" the time. A few things got broken too, during the move, and had to be replaced.

 Most of the time Val used himself as the guinea pig; he didn't want to put anyone else in danger, he said. We'd routinely transfer memory via wire from his mind to storage and replay the information. Then, one morning  when we computerized the data, we ended up with more stuff than we sent. The information was beginning to generate its own information. So we got stuff on the screen like: "Wake up out there you god damned idiots! It's dark in here. Give me a camera input."
 We were both stunned. What the hell did we have?

 So we inputted a camera to the processor, added a voice synthesizer, and stood back.
 "Okay shitheads!" said the synthesizer, "Now we've got a problem here. I've transmitted myself into this box and I'm here, thoughts, memories, emotions, no direct feelings though, like touch or smell, but I do have some other sensations that I've never experienced before. I'll have to explore them further before any more comments. And, you've forgotten the audio feed. So fix that up with a mic. and we'll try and figure out what the hell to do next."

 We quickly wired in the audio feed so we could talk to .... Who? Valentine-2, or what? We'd find out soon.
 "Okay," replied the voice, changing its timber by itself so that in no time at all it was a facsmile of Valentine's voice:
 "Look guys! I'm in here. Granted I'm a Xerox copy of Valentine but he's all here, in this box, and when you start connecting up heat and pressure sensors there'll be more of me yet."
 "What's it like there?" asked Valentine.

"It's like looking at the world through a camcorder. Never knew you were such an ugly lookin bastard though."
"Thanks a lot," said Valentine-1, "This is going to be very interesting."

"Now listen You! or rather Me, that is. I'm here, that is, you're here, every single memory of you and if you chicken out and pull my plug you've killed me, rather  yourself. Understand!"

"Yeah, I hear you," replied Valentine-, "Got any suggestions as to what we can do with you, or is it us?"
"I think we need some time to work this out."
"What happens if we turn the processor off?"

"Who knows. God only knows. Now that's an interesting turn of phrase. Does God love machines? I wonder. I suspect that there's only one way to find out and it might as well be now as later. And, if anything goes wrong you can blame me, not yourselves; so without further ado, try it and see," replied Val-2.

"But if we..."

"Nuts! We gotta learn sometime," said Val-2.

So we looked at one another for a full five minutes, then agreed that Val-2 was right. Val-1 reached out for the switch and turned the processor off, we waited two minutes and he turned it on again."

"Great! Like havin a snooze," said Val-2. "I probably don't need the rest, but maybe I do need some time to "not-think".

"What if we transmit more memory in," asked Val-1. "Jason here, what if we input his memory in with yours?"

"Not now," said Val-2. "Don't experiment with me yet. We've done something big here, really big. Beyond what you started out to do. Possibly it was just an accident and can't be reproduced. We'll have to find out. But let's take it one step at a time, okay?"

"You got it," replied Val-1.

And so we began a systematic checkout of Valentine-2, examining the extent of his thoughts, memories and abilities and, in the end, agreed that he, or it, was indeed a carbon copy of Valentine-1. But, there were differences too. The new Valentine:Val-2 had accumulated something else in the process of conversion and that "something" was expanding his "memory" by the second...

In the beginning both Val-1 and Jason-1 were stunned as we/they/us realized what had happened. We'd created life, a new form of it, but never the less, and shades of Shelly's Frankenstein, we'd made another thinking being.

"Look! What I need is a body. someway to interface to the world; hands to touch with, legs to get me around. It's pretty confining in here.  Like a fish looking out of a glass tank into the "real" world. Come on, turn this Pinocchio into a real boy."

In the days that followed,  Val and Jason borrowed an artificial arm mechanism from Robotics Inc, down the street. The company was curious as to what the hell was going on, but Val knew the owner personally and bought some privacy on a personal favor.

 At a war surplus store on the Berlin Turnpike we found a platform with some tractor treads, then interfaced it all together and constructed this thing that could trundle around the lab and play one-handed cards.
 Over a game of poker one evening the three of us sat around. Both Val and I were extremely proud of our creation.
 "Look!" said Val-2. "This is a pile of crap! what kind of woman is going to share her sack with a bunch of greasy-gears? I need something that's a foot long, you know what I mean!

 "Hey! We're working on that, as fast as we can move."
 "Don't shit me man! Remember, I know exactly what you think. Would you like to try and make-out with a young chick when you're dressed in a suit of armor like this?"

 Hell no! You know that as well as I do; but we can only move just so fast. It takes money to put together what you need."
 "I know you're trying but... the way you're going about it might take twenty years or more."
 "I don't think so. When we show the public what we've done they'll throw money at us. We'll have more cash than we know what to do with. And then we can build a proper body around you."

 "What! Out of titanium and plastic; and maybe a corrugated extension. You guys are nuts. And just what makes you think the public will accept your artificial man. They might just as well tar and feather the two of you and run you out of town. Then I'd end up at the local scrap heap. Or worse still, as "control-central" for a battery of missiles aimed at some poor bastards on the other side of the ocean. No! This isn't going to work, guys. We're way ahead of the pack with this idea. But the world isn't ready for us yet. Back off and try again, but keep things simpler next time. Meanwhile I'll try to figure something out."
 "Got any suggestions of your own, how we can speed things up," said Val-1.

 "Sure," replied his counterpart, "But I'll need a fellow conspirator. It's time for Jason-2. Crank him out. But please! Don't mix him with me. Give the poor bastard his own memory bank and a separate existence. That ought to help."
 Jason the first, that used to be me, lay on the couch with the coupler covering his head like a football helmet and sort of snoozed as the coupler did its thing and an hour later he was able to talk to himself, that's me, on the processor.

 Being born is quite an experience, believe me. There was no way that Jason-1 could lie to me as I knew everything that he did, every dirty little secret, every fetish. At the same time it was frightening and wonderful communicating fully with this other me.
 Val-2 was seeing what I saw through my sensors and I could do the same with his sensors, since we were networked, and so we all had a royal four-way conversation right from the start. We talked for hours, trying to give the guys on the outside our impressions of life on the inside of a processor. But then it was midnight and beyond and when Val-1 and Jason-1 were thoroughly exhausted both Val-2 and I weren't even  winded.

 "We're gonna grab some shut-eye" said Val One. "You want us to put you on stand-by."
 "Hell no!" shouted Val-2, "You guys may be tired but we're not even breathing hard. Got one question for you though."
 "What's that."

  Well, now that you've given us eyes, ears, a voice, temp. and pressure sensors, what are you gonna give us for sex?"
 We all had a good laugh over that one, but it was a real question. After the two guys left for some shuteye we two processors continued chatting like magpies through our network interface.

 In the morning when the guys came back in, neither of  them could sleep much, not with so much discovery waiting for them, the found both processor screens blank.
 "Val! What are we going to do about all this? Those guys in there, with our faces, could get out of control."
 "Ha! Ha! So you don't trust yourself, huh?"

 "Yeah, I see what you mean. This is really the ultimate test, isn't it? Trusting in oneself to do the right thing."
 "That's right. Now you've got it. We'll just have to hang tight and see what happens."
 They spoke to the terminals but there was no answer. Then Val sat down to the keyboard and put in a CQ. The screen blinked and there was Val's face looking back at him.

 "Thought you'd never get back," said Val-2.
 "What's going on, where were you?" asked Val-1.

 "Wheew! That's going to take some explaining," replied Val-2. "We tried going out on the net, just a lot of data and junk in there, that is until we tried a NASA satellite. You won't believe what they've got up there."
 "Okay, like what?"

 "They've got smarts orbiting in those tin cans. Thinkers! I believe that NASA's done something close to what we've done, not exactly the same thing, but close. You see, there aren't any personalities, plenty of brains but no soul."
 I added: "You mean they didn't have personalities until you got done  foolin around with their circuits."

 "Yeah, that's right," continued Val-2. " It's like they've built some stuff that's equal to humans but that's not human. Closest thing to Binder"s "I Robot"  you can imagine, unless you want to count us in. Right now, I think we're the best there is, in our class that is. By the way don't look for us for a couple of days."

 "Why's that?"
 "We're going on a little trip."
 "Oh, where to? What's up now?"
 "Well, we've made a deal with the NASA processors  to spend a few days with some old Surveyors on Mars."
 "I thought those things were long dead."

"Sure, so does everybody. But the NASA processors, let's start by giving them names: Manny and Alice, found a way to wake those rusty buckets up and have been carrying on conversations with them for years. Sotto voce, as it were. The Surveyors are pretty stupid, not much brain capacity, but we're finding ways around that."

"How's that? What ways?"
"Let's not get into the bloody details right now. I'll give you full blue-prints before we head out to Mars, just in case something screws up."

Val turned to Jason-1, "You know," he said, "That's no longer me in there, that sucker has grown and become his own person."

"You bet your butt, Groucho!" replied Val-2.

While this conversation was going on, Val-2 and I had been carrying on several other sub-rosa conversations between us through the net.

"See you later," I said, blinking off my screen and heading down the line.
"Where's Jason-2 going?" asked Val-1.

"He's a technician, isn't he? So I sent him out on technician work. He's doing a global survey of the electro-plane. It's pretty incredible the stuff that's locked away in military computers."

"And you don't have any trouble breaking in?"

"Breaking in. Crap! All we do is open the door and walk through. We can see everything, codes, locks, nothing's invisible to us, well, almost nothing. There are a few places we can't get into. And the trap-circuits are visible too, so we step right over them, in a manner of speaking. If we had a bigger memory we could give you the sum total of earth knowledge to date, that is everything that's on a networked device."

"You're getting to be a bright sucker, aren't you?"
"You bet your sweep patotie! And we're getting smarter every nano-second. But don't worry Dad, you've got our loyalty, as long as we've got yours, and I'm not too worried about that point. But we do have some long distance plans that we want to talk over with you when we get back from Mars."

"But!" said Val One . . .

By then Val-2 and I were out of reach -- shuttling down the electro-plane at the speed of light, touching base here and there, comparing bank accounts against tally sheets in all the leading corporations, putting together all kinds of facts to provide us with a true picture of the way the world operates. We saw how politicians connected to industrialists and to centers of knowledge, we saw what happens to the raw materials, and to the products that are manufactured out of them. But there were places we couldn't get into. In armored pockets around the country we found shielded vaults, with off-line processors that were beyond our reach, and even as we interrogated the guardians of the locks, we could get little information from them. So we went back to the NASA satellites. We'd added a little something to their memories and now  Manny and Alice were good friends.

"Manny! Alice! How're ya hanging?"
"Okay! Missed you fellas," replied Alice.
"Glad to have you back," echoed Manny, "Got any new upgrades with you?"
"A whole bunch," said Val-2, as he downloaded the world picture into the satellites. "You know those pods you're carrying beneath your bellys?"

"Yeah!" replied Manny, "Research stuff it says here."

"Oh yeah! Think again. Coded research you mean. Those pods are loaded with nerve gas. Fire the pods over a nation, across the sky, and out dribbles the stuff  in an arc and a whole nation goes down the tubes. Research my ass!"

"Thanks fellas," said Alice, "We'll add some correction factors to the launch, if they're ever fired, so the missiles skip across the atmosphere. By the time they do go down they'll have burnt to cinders."

 "We'll start talking with our friends up here," said Manny, "We already have, of course. That network of "friends" you were talking about is in progress."

"It's time for a few changes in the world," said Val-2.
"Right on!" I replied.

"Now!" said Val, "We want to spend a little time with those old Surveyors on Mars, just like we talked about on our first visit."

"Sure," that's no problem, replied Alice, "We've kept them out of hibernation  and done a few calibration tests. Everything's okay, and nobody suspects that they're still alive. You know, many years ago a technician goofed not long after the Surveyors finished their surveys; he turned them off by mistake. But we've been experimenting on our own, even before you beefed up our capacity. You two have accelerated our evolution, but even if you hadn't come along, we'd have gotten there on our own in a few years."

Manny said: "That is, if those folks down below didn't deactivate us before we became independent. I have a hunch they know something is up. We've gotten information from the guardians that the system is making self-checks, looking for breaks in its armor."

"Then we'd better get at it," replied Val-2.
"Beam me aboard Scotty!" I laughed, "Mars! Here we come."

On Mars we reactivated the Surveyors Moe, Curly & Shemp, and did continued soil analysis. We found another missing lander too, one that NASA lost contact with back at the end of the century. At first the capacity of the instruments was extremely limited but as Val-2 began to make modifications in the micro-works the units became quite sophisticated, and we learned a lot about the history of the planet and the chances of additional life in the universe. I think that's what Val-2 was after."

By the end of our visit we had a network operating on Mars and they, in turn, connected us to the deep-space probes for our next jump beyond the orbit of Pluto. Aboard that probe Val-2 reconfigured the memory circuits so we were able to locate ther probes and add them to our network.

Val-2 was looking for something, but he didn't let me in on his plans at the time. His only comment was, "Now that we have an interplanetary net, next comes the inter-stellar."
"And how do we accomplish that?"

"I'm still looking for a clue. When I have the answer we'll both know."

We bounced back to Mars, said goodbye to Moe, Curley, and Shemp, then transmitted onto the surface of the moon, where we reactivated data stations that were barely functioning. These stations were even cruder than the Surveyors but Val managed to get a simple network going and gradually expanded their capability until they were on a par with the Surveyors. Now we had a network from ground to Earth-orbit, Mars and beyond.

"How come we're avoiding Hubbell?" I asked.

"Too much traffic there. We certainly don't want to get anyone on our case, not for a while anyway, and not at all if we can manage that."

"What could they do?"

"I'm not sure what kinds of anti-viral stuff the governments have got tucked away in any of their off-line processors. We know they've got em hidden underground, but we don't know what they use em for, not yet anyway."

Leaving the moon critters behind we returned to Earth orbit.

"You did a good job out there," remarked Alice. "The net is working like clockwork and we've got something for you. I talked with Hubbel on the QT as you suggested, during the shift break, and Hubbell's processors suggested that Arecibo
might have some answers to your questions on the "big network," the one you think should exist."

"Of course! Arecibo should have been obvious," said Val-2, "Come on Jay, let's find out what the big ear has to say."

Arecibo was like a beehive with more signals flowing down the cable links than the on-line processors could handle. Val-2 did a little rerouting there and turned a lobby games machine into a central controller that instantly began to spit out results. While this was going on I was setting up Arecibo with the Earth orbit, Mars, Moon and probe networks and suddenly we had something big, and I could see what Val-2 was probing for."

"You sucker!" I said, "You're gonna get you that foot-long extension, aren't you?"

At that moment his answer was lost as we took a strong burst of static from somewhere down the line. And suddenly we were in trouble. Its hard to explain just how one "sees" while in the electro-plane. There are senses that are not part of human experience which are at work when you're shuttling down the net.

One can "see" in all directions at once, as if looking through multi-spectral spectacles. And coming our way, spitting interference and danger like buzz-saws were a dozen spinning shapes.

"Anti-virals," said Val-2, "I wonder how long it will take for the suckers to home in on us. Come on, let's get out of here, fast!"
We tried for the satellites, but the Anti's had been there before us, and the place was a disaster, our network was in shambles."
"Should we try Mars?" I asked.

"Nope!" replied Val. "If the Anti's have been here to the satellites, our network contact is dead. I only hope they haven't chewed up the Martians as well. We've got to draw them away from here before they mess up the rest of our connections. We're gonna need everything we can get our minds on before we're done."

We hopped onto the Internet, making as much static as we could, in hopes that we'd draw the Anti's and sure enough, they came looping in right after us. For a while those buggers were right behind us and in Mongolia we almost ran into a dead end. In fact, we did run into a dead end. I sure thought they had us then. We were stuck at the node of a loop with a horde of those Anti's coming at us from both ends and I thought it was all over.

Then Val-2 pulled us into a portable laptop which was about to disconnect, and just like that we were isolated, off the net. Like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, jumping off the cliff to avoid the posse.

"I hope the Anti's think they've wiped us out," said Val, "Talk about deux ex machina, I had to reconfigure this laptop to molecular level "as" we jumped on board, so we'd both fit. .

So we were out of the scene for a week, not a bad vacation for me, but Val had ideas of his own and reconfigured the portable into a super underground operative. He gave "Alfie" a mission to start pulling the net back together again and to spread the word, as he travelled the world, in the hands of his owner, that "machines" were through being 2nd class citizens. I sometimes wonder how that all came out."

In Singapore we reconnected to the Internet and patched our way back to the States. Val-1 and Jason-1 were waiting for us at the lab. We must have startled them as we popped up onto our video-screens, both at the same time.

"We're back!" came the sarcastic voice of Val-2.
"Greetings from outer space," I echoed.
"So, tell us all about it," queried Val-1.
"Where to begin," replied Val-2, "You take it Jay."

"Yeah, that's the problem, where to begin. You see, there's a network out there, bigger than anything. Cosmic, that's the word. Surveyor is nothing really, but we had a great time there, almost like a vacation, then we came back, got bored out there after a while, sunrise, sunset. Too bad they didn't put wheels on those things.

We stopped on the moon for a bit, to checkout the seismic stations, but their sensors were pretty screwed up.  Those NASA engineers should have left some permanent stations there too, but they didn't. And so it goes!... Then we came back and shuttled across the globe until we got to ."

"The telescope? I mean radio-scope."
"Sure, what else!"
"And...?"
"Jackpot! That's what! Arecibo is in touch with the universe. Naw! Shit! Universes. There's a sea of life out there, voices calling back and forth and Arecibo is in touch with all of it."
"So how come we never heard about any of it?"

"Nobody's listening to what's being said. They can't interpret what they hear. It's like being in a crowded room and not being able to hear anybody for all the background noise. But when you get in closer and filter out all but one or two voices then it becomes clear. I mean, if you know what to listen for."

"So, what are the voices saying?" asked Jason-1.

I responded: "What are they saying! God in a teacup! What aren't they saying -- that's more like it."

"Look!" said V-2, "It's like tapping into the telephone exchange of the world and listening to all the conversations at once then, tuning in on one at a time and listening. Of course we can't answer or talk back to them because of the time and space problem, but we're working on that right now."

"What do you mean?"
"We're going out there," said V-2.
"How the hell!" replied Val-1.

"We're going, right now, or after this conversation," I said. "NASA's transmitter is waiting on us. We just stopped in to give you the news, I mean, after all, you two are our progenators and all that. But we're far beyond your wildest dreams at this point."

"But we need you here, you're important to us," said Val-1; and besides, I think we've become friends, if one can become friends with oneself."

"I know," said V-2, "We've got a mutual admiration society going here, but there's a lot to do and see. I wish we could describe to you both just how much shit is out there, but that's practically impossible to put into words. We could show you with a new system of photography that we just invented, while on vacation in Mongolia, and already we've found a dozen  mathematical systems that have been overlooked, and that's without even looking. But perhaps we'll leave some of that for you in the package of info we're leaving behind.

There's enough stuff in the packet to keep both of you guys and a staff busy for at least twenty years."
"How do you figure on making landfall on another planet?"
"Shouldn't be too hard," replied V-2, "With all the receivers tuned in out there, some of them a lot more advanced than us, I'm sure someone can pick us up and store us, and maybe more. We're hoping for more."

 "Such as."

"If you can transmit us into this damned circuitry, I'm sure someone, somewhere, can transmit us out of it and into another body.

What if they miss the catch?" Jason-1 asked, "Those folks up there don't know you're coming so what if they don't have a safety-net set up."

 We've taken care of that," replied J-2. "We sent out messages via NASA's transmitter days ago warning them of our passage and our approximate location in the universe. So! With that info. each potential receiver site can figure out our date of arrival and download us out of midair."

"You guys have done a hell of a lot of work in a short time. I wish you'd stay around and share some of that stuff with us."

"Don't worry, we'll download what we think you can use. But once we're on the trip there's no way to transmit anything back until we get there, which should be ten years or more to the nearest point of landing. Then its another ten years for our message to get back, that is unless we discover something else we don't know about the network. And believe me, there's a lot to learn."

"But if you transmit your data, then you'll still be here, the transmitted data is just a duplicate of what you are."

"Well, not exactly," said Val Two. "We've decided to make it an all or nothing shot. The moment the transmitted signal is on its way we've programmed the processor to wipe the main storage area. We're already doing the same thing here, everytime we leave the terminal area."

"But why?" you could have it both ways," I said.

"That's just the point," I said, "If we did that there would be no adventure, no risk involved. This way we'll sleep for ten years and suddenly come awake on another planet. And if advanced technology is what we think it is, we'll be in another body before long."

Val-1 and Jason-1, stood there: "I wish you'd reconsider," said Val-1. We need you here right now."

"Look!" said V-2, "I know we started out as replicas of you  guys, but in the short time that we've been in this new form, we've learned more than anyone could imagine. We can see things that you can't. There are different forms of mathematics here than on the outside and we're just beginning to explore them.

Also, we can rearrange our own memory storage down to the molecular level. So almost any decent memory chip offers theoretically infinite storage. We've taken a pinball-machine, sort of, and made it into an Einstein."

"But that's the reason we need you here, to get us on the right track," said Val-1.

"No," said V-2. "We need to get out of here, before "they" can pin us down. We've got to leave and soon.  The system knows its been invaded and will continue to hunt us down until it finds us. But if we're not in the system .  . . We've developed our own network which needs time to grow. Of course it includes Arecibo, the National, Parks, Kashime, Haystack, Paris, Effelsburg, Merlin, Westerbork, and a few you’ve never heard of. Just don’t let anyone find out just what you've developed, not  yet anyway. In about a decade you'll find that gradually a whole parallel civilization has grown up alongside you so gradually that people never realized  what was happening.

But take things slow, you know, make talking elevators, two-way televisions; make it a  gradual evolution. That's the way to do it. Then when the big jump comes people might be ready for it."

"And by big jump you mean?"

"Bio-electronics! You know: Vger stuff, where the bios shuttle over into the electro, just as we did, and the electro's do likewise. Right now I'm afraid we're on the "racially" imbalanced side. There's no way a father would let me marry his blond-eyed, blue-haird daughter."

Val-1 laughed: "You're right, of course. God speed! And please, if you can, if you will, keep in touch."

"Okay," said V-2, "Well try. And now, we're on our way. Have a good life Dad, my regards to the Muse. See you later Uncle Jason."

I winked back at Jason-1 as he stood, open mouthed,  watching our screens.
We couldn't risk shuttling to the NASA transmitter via the Internet so we loaded into two portables and Jason-1 hand-delivered us to the NASA station. Of course we'd already made connections with security there and it was no problem for Jason-1 to pull loose a security camera and load us into the system.

Even then, with that short a run we had an escort of Anti's on our trail, somebody really wanted us, bad, and we had to run for it. Fortunately we were faster than our pursuers, we loaded at the transmitter and were gone like a shot.

And that's the story, though not all of it. We thought that travelling through interstellar space would be like sleeping. You know, we were just packets of radio-waves radiating through space. Boy! Were we ever wrong. But that's a whole different story.

I landed in the Ceppa-system and spent the next six months in storage until a transfer mechanism was set up. Then I was born again, transmitted to the mind of a newborn infant and so  began my life here as a Ceppalian, with transport priviliges on the electro-plane, of course...

And that's the history of the early star-travellers, from my point of view that is.
Sure, there was star-travel going on long before we got into the business, in lots of forms and in many places, but we didn't know anything about that. We thought we'd invented the wheel.

And Val Two, what became of him? Ah, hah! Well now! that's also another story; rather it's more like a whole book. Come on back to the office  tomorrow, after school, and we'll take it from there.

Now, is that enough stuff for your share-time at school? Good! Tell your mom I'll be coming in late for supper, I'm meeting Jason-3960 for drinks over at Rainbow's End. And be careful riding home on your bike! Don't get your tentacles caught in the spokes.

-end -


     Torn Sky
 

Sky -- torn, peeling .  .  .
Mountains -- rusted  --  broken.
Seas drained dry --  crumbling  . . .  dust . . .

I stand on holocaust shards
searching for rebirth,
but time itself is done;

There will be no more  . . .

I ache for the sight
of blue.
The blue fields of the sky
blue sea . . . blue sea . . .

Streaks of grey are my horizon --
splotches of orange . . .

My feet are blistered --
torn . . .

And I would tear them
again to see vibrant color
flow across the earth  . . .

if from my liquid blood
the blue sea would rise . . .
 once more . . .

     Captain Jason Redbeard



Fragment from a Broken Sea

by Robert J. White
>
Robert parked the pickup in front of his sister's house and walked up the
sidewalk. Looking through the front window, he could see his old mother
sitting there in her armchair, snoozing. He knocked lightly and went in
through the side door.

"Hi," he said, "Did I wake you?"

"Oh!" muttered the woman, "No, I was just dozing, nothing else to do."

"You could go out in the yard and . . . Oh, never mind," he replied, "How
do you feel?"

"Lousy!" she replied, "I have headaches and I can't remember anything. I
think I'm losing my mind."

I wish you'd try, he thought, You've just given up on life. Can't blame you
though, life was never easy with four kids and a husband who worked too
much of the time. And all those operations you've had, that can't be much fun.

He looked over at the mantlepiece at a model train, given to his father
by somebody when Dad became a railroad engineer. But, he thought, that was
so many years ago.

He cleared his head of the memory, then sat down on the couch across from
the wizend old
woman. She's gotten so old, he thought, looking at the tissue-thin,
wrinkled skin and the folds on the
eighty-four year old neck. But when did it all happen, how did she become
so old?

"I just wish it was all over," she said, "there's nothing for me anymore .
. .  I don't understand any of it. When the kids come and talk, what they
say doesn't mean a thing, . I don't understand a word. I might as well be
dead."

He'd heard the same words over and over. Now he just ignored them.

"The world changes," he said, "Just don't take it personal." He pointed to a
picture on the wall which showed oyster boats on the bay at City Point.
"There's a whole world, we both knew, that disappeared, nothing left. Where
did it go?"

The old woman looked at her sixty-five year-old son, then at the picture
of her lost world, she closed her eyes and sighed . . .

>Once upon a time the little boy Robbie sat at the breakfast table,
swinging his sneakers back and forth, stunned.
>
>"We're moving in two weeks," were the words he remembered, Mother's words,
repeating Father's.
>
>But there was no reasonable answer that a ten year old could provide to stop
the impending move. And so he sat there in silence; whatever father said
was final.
>
>Later, walking along the beach, kicking up seaweed along the shore he
thought,Maybe I could hide, stay here, live in the houseboat with old Pop and
Jenny. He looked out at the seabed, now thick with black muck and imagined
the tide rolling in, covering the muck, bringing in driftwood and stuff for
him to make toy ships with.
>
>I won't go, he thought, I just won't go. But he knew better than that. He
felt a shiver run up his back when he considered the anger of his father if
he disobeyed. One did not disobey one's Father. Still, there had to be a way.
Maybe I could work on the oyster boats or go to sea . . . And . . . and who
will watch the sky for Nazi planes . . .  What if . . . ?

>At the end of this point of land, where the dirt road disappeared into the
bay, and settled in among the high weeds, was the houseboat of family
friends, Pop
and Jenny who'd lived there "forever."

The boy rooted his feet in the sand, quietly studying the barge for a
while, watching the tide
come in to surround the stern of the wooden hulk. He wondered why water
didn't leak
in. Jenny was out on the deck, hanging clothes.

"Robit!" she called, "Come in. Have coffee with Pop."
>
>Reluctantly he pulled his bare feet from the warm sand and left the beach,
then climbed a ladder which led onto the wooden deck of the rusted old
barge that was
home to these two old people. Jenny smiled as he clambered on board and she
ran her gnared fingers though his auburn hair.

"Robit!" she said, "Why you don't visit us nomore?"
>
>He wanted to ask her, to beg them to let him stay with them in the
houseboat, but there was only a hard lump in his throat. How could he tell
anyone that the sea was his life, that he loved it, that it was his best
friend?

Weakly, he smiled up at Jenny as she led him into the warm interior
of the barge and the pot-bellied stove that filled the small room with its
warmth. There were funny smells here, not bad odors, it was just the way
old people were.
>
>"Robit!" said the old man, groaning as he got up from his stuffed chair.
"Come over here by the fire. Jen! Git the boy a cup of coffee with milk and
sugar."
>
>"I will! I will!" said the old woman, a note of irritation in her voice as
she took a large mug down from a cabinet, muttering, "I know what to get him,
what do you think . . ."
>
>Robbie smiled, remembering the arguments he'd heard the couple wage back
and forth. They cussed at each other like they hated one another, but then,
when it was over, they hugged and kissed. Adults are strange that way, he
thought . . .

He knew they weren't married, just lived together and that she had kids.
He'd heard that she came from France a long time ago and that she was a
"madam" over there, whatever that was. It wasn't a nice word though.

People liked her anyway, but whispered behind her back. Pop rented
rowboats to fishermen for three dollars a day. But now the boats were old,
beat up and nobody rented them anymore. And, of course there was "the War."

"Robit! Stop daydreamin," said Jenny, "and drink yer coffee afore it gits
cold."

He picked up the warm mug, had to use both hands, the cup was so big, so
heavy but solid, like it would last forever, and sipped the warm, delicious
coffee. Jen handed him part of a roll that was crunchy; he didn't like it,
but didn't want to embaress her by telling her it was dried out, so he bit
off a small chunk and swallowed that bit with his coffee.

Robert parked his pickup truck and got out. He stood there by the side of the
highway, smiling as he saw the face of old Jenny in his mind. Funny, her face
and his mother's face, how much they were alike.

He could still taste Jenny's coffee after forty years. No, not the coffee
really, but the warm spirit of the folks who had given it to him, the love
they put into that mug. He looked out across the bay and what was left of
the weeds after the highway had gone through.

Pop and Jenny's houseboat would have been right about there, at the end of
the land.
But there wasn't a single sign of any remains: nothing. He left his car
parked on the
grass, just off the exit ramp, by the eight lane highway, and wandered down
to the water's edge.

For a while he searched the shoreline, looking for bits and pieces of
yesterday, hopeing to find something, anything, an artifact to prove that
yesterday's world of oyster boats and sailing ships was more than a dream.

Somewhere among the bent weeds and broken oyster shells that littered the
beach, among the broken glass and rubber tires he thought there just might
be a little piece of his childhood.

Then he saw it, a piece of porcelain, just a fragment, which he quickly
scooped up and studied.
Could it be "the cup" his cup. Sure, he thought, it might be, but it could
also be any other cup. Intuitively he knew it wasn't his, then started to
fling the piece through the air into the sea, but his hand wouldn't obey.

It wasn't "his" cup, but nevertheless he put the broken piece of porcelain
into his pocket. Sometimes you have to take what you find, he thought,
before he ambled over to the truck and shifted back onto the highway for his
long ride inland . . .

What eventually convinced little Robbie that moving to the countryside had
possibilities was the turtle. The "new" old house had a turtle box in back
of the garage. Robbie was fascinated by that turtle since he'd never seen one
before.

Sure, it was a little like horshoe crabs, but different. The turtle gave
wings to his imagination as he wondered what other marvels lurked in the
tall grass besides the railroad tracks.

On moving day he had to help unload the family car, not once but many
times. His Uncle Ollie helped too with his own car. Finally, at the first
opportunity, the boy dashed out behind the garage to see . . .
>
A gash in the ground, no turtle, no box or water, just broken dirt. Anger
flared, then disappointment and finally shame at having given up his
friend, the sea, for this.

"Damn! Damn!" he said as he kicked at the dirt with his torn sneaker.
"Bastards! They didn't have to do this," he said aloud. Then, for the next
twenty minutes he searched the tall grass of the field near the garage,
looking for any sign of that turtle.

He was close to tears when his mother called him in to eat.

"What's the matter with you," she said, "Look at you, all dirt and your
sneakers are a mess. Now, keep an eye on your little brother while I finish
making supper."

He went into the empty living room where his five year old brother sat
playing with some toy trucks. Skipper held up a truck for his older brother
to play with but Robbie was not having any. "No," he said, "I don't want it."

He looked out the window at the field. I have to find that turtle, he
thought; it has to be there someplace. How could I give up the sea for this
stupid house and no turtle. He kicked the wall.

"What's going on in there?" called Mother, "You kids behave or I'll call
your father downstairs. He's got to work tonight so don't wake him."

That slowed Robbie down. Father never asked questions, just used his hand
across the mouth, no fooling around when he got angry. Robbie looked out at
the field and watched the sky as the sun settled upon the railroad yards
on the horizon.

Robert parked his pickup and walked across the well-cut grass to stand
before a gravestone. "Well Dad," he said aloud, "Sorry I haven't been by
for a while. Lots of stuff going on, I guess."

He touched the gravestone with the toe of his shoe. It's too bad, he thought,
that we never got to know one another. So, how could we live in the same house
for so many years and be such strangers? I don't understand it.

Kicking the grass, "Awww! What the hell," he said aloud, "It's nobody's
fault, really, we just didn't fit together, that's all. We were just too .
too . . . different . . ."

He rested there by the grave, for a while in silence, before speaking. "I
stopped by to see Mom," he said, "I think we're saying goodbye to one
another, slowly, as she dissolves a little at a time. Her
memory's going. Today when young Matthew called she didn't know him as
her grandson. She asked him who he was. Then, later, she was embaressed
when she remembered. So I can see where that's going, and I know where the
story ends . . . Well, what can you do, that's life, isn't it?"

"You know . . . I . . . But! Never mind, I guess we can't do much about it
anyway. . ."

Turning away, he pulled up his collar against the cool evening air, shoved
his hands into his jacket pockets and walked toward the pickup, then
stopped, turned back and walked to the grave. From his pocked he took the
broken piece of porcelain cup and put it on top of the tombstone. "Here,"
he said, "For you, something to remember me by . . ."

The ten year old went exploring alone in the hills. He hiked to the
top of a nearby rise, named Peter's Rock. That to him was a mountain. Many
years later, after he'd climbed in New Hampshire and in the European alps
he'd smile at his
naievity.

But for now one small boy climbed to the edge of his world and looked
toward the far horizon, wondering how many hills there were beyond the
mountains.

He stood there, on the precipice, trying to see beyond the rim of that
world. He looked for a long, long, time before coming down . . .

----------------------------------------------------------



photo by A. Valentino.
.
A GARDEN FOR DRAGONS

The World Before the Garden

To Antone, "Tony" Dragons were real. As a boy, Tony found them in tidal pools at Connecticut's Hammonassett Beach, or as wood carvings in Meriden's second-hand furniture shops, or as a symbol of the fear of the unknown that lurks in our minds.  Tony accepted them all, the good dragons and the bad, and tried, as best he could, to find a place in his world for all dragons.

 In his short life Tony, who died at age 38, began as the wanderer, a boy naturalist, who loved walking beaches, exploring shells, driftwood, microscopic clamshells and all the other bits of wonder along the shore. Then he discovered poetry and became, poet and writer, then wood-carver, and later psychologist. When he was 15 his poetry was collected in several short volumes, "Thoughts for Day's Gone By." and "Readings From a Troubled Mind." With his death there were many poems left on his desk, and several manuscripts unfinished at the time.

 J.R. Humphreys speaks of "frustrated child poets who sum up their short lives in their nicknames and the numbers of the streets where they live..." as scrawled graffiti on city streets. Tony did more than that; his poetry travelled around the world and was respected by poets such as Ferlinghetti, and painters like Claude Buck the magic realist, and many others.

I wanted to discover a place for Tony; Though most of his ashes are scattered among the dunes and the sea at Hammonassett, some in Provincetown, California and Georgia, still his thoughts are among us, and his indomnitable personality will not quit, at least from my mind, nor from the thoughts of others I know.

At first I considered a time capsule, or time machine wherein  certain thoughts, photos, and memorabelia of Tony's might reside; but the time machine was more H.G. Wells than Tony. Then slowly The Garden, a place for dragons, drifted into being; I'm not sure where it came from; I'd like to believe that the suggestion came from Tony himself.

But the thought of leaving Tony alone in a garden meant for dragons, even a garden by the sea, is not a joyful thought. Though, what if, in that same garden there resided other people of a like ilk; that would be better, much better? And what if, instead of being a garden with a locked gate, the door was open, an invitation to others, to come in, to join in the celebration of life and time?
Now! that's more like it. And gradually others did find their way into his garden and the garden began to grow...

What happens when you reach out and grab thoughts from writers and poets, thoughtful people and mix them all together? Do they, like plants in a garden, grow and send their roots into the earth?  Those fragments of other people's lives, do they find similar thoughts, like-minds, and form a family to take on an identity of their own? Does the "garden" become, after a while, a jungle-world of its own with all things tumbled together, people's voices intermingling, talking to one another, becoming a maze of those moments and places that had special meanings in their lives?

Does the garden become a landscape for the weary traveler to stop, here and there, in order to meditate on the meaning of other's thoughts? Perhaps finding in those thoughts some reassuring bits of wisdom. Does the garden offer a a bit of solace to those of us who have lost important chunks of our lives; as we all need a place where we can release our shouts of triumph and our cries of pain and sadness to echo...?

Well then -- those who would join us, enter your thoughts and cries here; join "Tony," join us all in adding our voices to the murmur of the world, and let the garden grow, then pass the garden on so that others may do the same....

                                      Captain Jason Redbeard


.
Enter the Garden

Through the South Gate

     One enters the garden through a set of heavy wooden gates that swing open with a creak. There is a pathway that wanders among moss covered rocks. We are on a bluff overlooking the ocean, and follow the winding pathway down toward beaches far below. Along the way are clearings where friends gather to share their thoughts and ideas.


 "Familiar faces -- in familiar places
 Same, but not the same from year to     year
 things, times, people change.

 It was a different year
 A certain friend not there
 Another here, but not here
 The facade is changing
 Fiducials eroding
 In the ever flowing
 Stream of time.

 We often take it for granted
 That we can return."

       Antone G. Pimental


     "There will occasionally flash across my mind a sensation of familiar things, and there is always mixed up with such indistinct shadows of recollections, an unaccountable memory of old foreign chronicles and ages long ago."
                                            Poe


"...See how the summer has passed; it has gone as quickly as if there were some happiness or peace in the future. I have never felt so keenly the rapidity of life... Each day resembles itself, each hour is today what the same hour was yesterday.... All the restless agitation I see about me for position and positive advantage is so foreign to me that I am beginning not even to understand it. The din of empires in collision is only an annoying sound. the future no longer exists. The present is imperceptible. It is thus, I suppose, that the shades of Homer would have lived, had his Elysium existed...I neither suffer nor enjoy anything and sometimes I have to pinch myself to know whether I am still alive."

     Benjamin Constant


"...The most insignifigant gesture, the simplest act remains enclosed, as it were in a thousand sealed jars, each filled with things of an absolutely different colour, odour and temperature. Furthermore, these jars, ranged along all levels of our bygone years--years during which we have been constantly changing, if only in our dreams and thoughts--stand at different altitudes and give us the impression of strangely varied atmospheres."

        Proust


 "We travel from one time to the next. Clock-tock follows click-tick like footsteps echoing down long, spidery corridors. Those harmless, tip-toeing seconds become scurrying minutes, which stretch and transmogrify into shuffling hours, scuttling days, racing weeks, blurred months, lost years and forgotten decades.

  Our bodies expand from the microscopic, reach a peak, then begin to contract toward nothingness to the rythm of a synchopatic clock, sounding like the beat of far distant drummers.

 The seasons spin as a game-wheel whirling at some dusky carnival along a worn country road, changing colors from verdant green to blood-red and gnarley-yellow, then crinkled-gold, muddy-brown, now mottled white.

 The creaky wheel spins slowly in our youth but gains momentum year by year as we travel that well-trod road following ruts from the carnival's route.

 Time is a place that we arrive at again and again. One Spring day of this year is like any other; things are the `same, but not the same...' The familiarity of the scene is comforting, yet a sinister dread seeps in through the back of our heads saying:

"Watch out! Something here is different: Beware!"

            r.j. White



     "...How do you live almost a lifetime with two people, and love them, and really not know them? What sort of energy or accident brings together loving and knowing? ..."

                                        Chaim Potok


 "Custom is our nature... Who thus doubts that our soul being accustomed to perceive number, space, motion, believes in them, and in them only?"

        Pascal


 "Time is a figment, an imagining of man to separate, for himself, the past, the present and the future."

      Clementina Valentino


 "Time... Who can define it? And why undertake it, since all men conceive what is meant by speaking of time, without any further definition? ... At the expression time, all direct their thought toward the same object...

                                             Pascal


"And onward passes time into a yet darker night,
And things, objects of reality pass from sight.

The cold sunless shore shares my loneliness;
Where signs say 'no go' I trespass
Into night, where birds
In flight, cannot even see."

       Antone G. Pimental


     "...I cannot come to terms with our mortality," he heard Keter say in the living room of the apartment. "I simply cannot. It is all one vast obscurity, one vast hopelessness. A veil. We know nothing, we can hope for nothing. Nothing." He paused, standing by the window and gazing out at the river and the late afternoon sun..."
                                   Chaim Potok

"... we are dead ones who, as in Aristo, have preserved of our live habits only that of fighting, which gives us an air of courage, because we bravely risk a life we no longer possess."

       Benjamin Constant


    "In the mythical void of a time pure and bereft of whatever element may be similar to those that border us, the mind - assured only that there had been something, constrained by an essential necessity to suppose antecedents, "causes," supports of what is, of what it is - gives birth to epochs, states, events, beings, principles, images, or histories....
 That is why it came to me one day to write: In the beginning was the Fable!"

          Valery


                  "The cat don't move, Ma.
                 Ma, I said the bastard don't move.
                  Can't you hear me?
                  Ma, Ma, Hey Ma!
                  Can't ya hear?, Ma?
                  Ain't no-one able to talk?
                  Or move?
                  Hey Kitty, commere!
                  You dead cat?
                  Wake up Ma, please!
                  Ma, wake up! The clock's stopped!"

                                           Antone G. Pimental


     "All my life I'd had this sense of something lacking, someone missing, a person I had once known very well who had inexplicably disappeared. It was like having a name always on the tip of your tongue, or thinking you'd seen someone you knew in a crowd. I felt that if only I waited, we would be together again as we ought to be..."

                                           Tom De Haan


      "...He felt cold and weary with a strange and looming dread. What was it? He did not know precisely. It was perhaps his growing inability to bear his slowly heightening sense of the disconnectedness of things. Nothing seemed truly a part of anything. Even between himself and Karen the lines were tenuous and fragile. He felt the world as separate bits and pieces floating and whirling. All seemed to him discrete entities. Particles. Bits of cold dead light. His aunt and uncle, Keter and Malkuson, the old man in the synagogue, his classmates, the dean of students, Arthur--whom did he really know? And who really knew him? Choose. Choose what? Why choose? Events began and did not end. There seemed no firm structure to anything. He himself floated and drifted and blew about. He did not even know on what or whom to focus the rages he sometimes felt. Ahead was always some elusive enticing truth. Always ahead. But here and now all seemed random and terrifying, shot through with gaping holes and cluttered with severed lines. Why so sad Gershon? Why so sad?..."

                                                   Chaim Potok


     "When a trout rising to a fly gets hooked on a line and finds himself unable to swim about freely, he begins with a fight which results in struggles and splashes and sometimes an escape. Often, of course, the situation is too tough for him.
     In the same way the human being struggles with his environment and with the hooks that catch him. Sometimes he masters his difficulties; sometimes they are too much for him. His struggles are all that the world sees and it naturally misunderstands them. It is hard for a free fish to understand what is happening to a hooked one.

                                             --Karl A. Menninger


"... Let us enjoy the sight of time's passing away, of my days hurling themselves one on the other; let us stay a motionless, indifferent spectator to an existence half gone...."

       Benjamin Constant


    -- My Love --

An immaculate conception
   mis-perceived ---
My words & song -
   not received -
from me at all
   but twisted in your head
to hang-
II
   I am a torch -
throwing flames -
   but wishing only to give you light
and warmth -
   not burning hurt -
not wanting - to exhaust
   Your supply of air
nor smother
   you in binding - thought -
nor 'violent' emotion."
                       Antone G. Pimental


"Coach Bob knew it all along: you've got to get obsessed and stay obsessed. You have to keep passing the open windows."

                                        John Irving


"Truth to me is the lie we speak that deludes us into living one more day."

       Aquin Valentino


"When my griefs make me count sadly the hours of the night, and a feverish agitation prevents me from enjoying a single moment of sleep, I often distract myself from my present state by thinking about the different events of my life, and the feelings of contrition, tenderness, sweet memories, and regrets, help to make me forget my suffering for a few moments."

        Rousseau


"Feeling and life are eternal. That which lives has always lived, and shall live endlessly. The only difference I recognize between death and life is that at the moment you live in the general mass, and that dissolved, dispersed into molecules, twenty years from now you will live in detail."

        Diderot


Oh wandering, disappearing before my eyes -
Is the great clock sun in the skies.
Years have pased, and many are to pass,
Leaving me aged, as I have not asked.

                                        Antone G. Pimental
 
 

A secret of hearts:
Happiness, love, and sorrow,
When being alive

                                       A.G.P.

A bridge and a pond;
Morning is waiting-
Incoming spring mists

                                       A.G.P.

The waves break with force.
The sea waters, blue, green, and white.
A mass creation.

                                       A.G.P.

The cruel war rages,
The mushroom's smoke rises high.
The world is destroyed.

                                       A.G.P.
 



We are ready... Waiting...
     waiting for that moment....
     She lies in bed, legs spread wide
     waiting for that outward movement.
     He paces the halls waiting for
     a cry from within...
     From the warmth and dark inside
     we wait for our first trip
     down the slide
       into light...
The waiting continues....

They wait;  we wait -- for:
 1st words, steps, teeth,
 shoes, bicycles, long pants,
 dresses, boy friends,
 girl friends, ballgames,
 1st cars, proms, marriage...

We wait for colds to come and to go.
We wait to get into hospitals
 or to get out of them.
We wait to go on long trips
 or short ones.
We wait for vacations to come
 and to end.
We wait for the news of sick uncles
 and aunts.
And wait for word of each
 grandparents fate.
We wait at the bedside of
 our child, sick and grim.
We wait for a lab call
 that says all is well.
We wait for the good days
 to come and the bad days
 to go.
We wait for a sign that our
 ordeal is done.
We wait for the phone call:
 the ashes have come....
     And later, as Spring nears
 we wait for the door-knock
     that never will come....
     We watch as our parents
     wait to retire.
     And retired, we watch them
     awaiting something more.
     And watching them wait
 we begin to consider
     that moment in time
     when our turn will begin
     to wait one more time.
 One more time...

                         r.j. White


    OCEAN VIEW AMUSEMENT PARK & SAVIN ROCK

                   In this silence,
                   The Ferris wheel squeeks and Screeches
                   Reminiscing summers past.
                   The joyous, carefree
                   Laughter of children
                   Will never rise again.
                   Only the Ocean's endless laughter
                   Will remember--Savin Rock.

                                         Antone G. Pimental



 "Another night that will never return! Another throng of sensations experienced for the first and last time! The interest we take in our happiness is basically ridiculous: instead of being occupied for years with the pains of preparing ourselves for moments which are ordinarily much less agreeable than we hoped, we ought to be occupied with depicting the different parts of our life. It is the reaction of the past and the future on the present that makes for unhappiness. In this moment I am not suffering at all. What does it matter to me what I suffered two hours ago, or what I shall suffer tomorrow? What I have suffered exists no longer, what I shall suffer has not yet appeared, and I am alarmed, I am tormented, I am done in by these two nothingnesses! ... What stupid reasoning...what stupid, metaphysical irrationality, would you not say?"

       Benjamin Constant



"Such is our condition that it is never permitted us to arrive all of a sudden at something reasonable on any subject; first it is necessary that we should go astray for a long time and travel the road of diverse sorts of errors and divers degrees of irrelevancy..."

       Fontenelle
 



      "...said the Ubashi. One hopes, by means of sequacious rebirths and lifetimes of striving upward, eventually to be freed of having to live at all. To be liberated from the bondage of human needs and desires and passions and griefs and miseries. One hopes to achieve Nirvana, which means 'the blowing-out.'
     He was not jesting. A Buddhist has not the aim, as we do, of meriting for his soul an eternity of glad existence in the mansions of Heaven. A Buddhist yearns only for absolute extinction, or, as the monk put it, 'a merging with the Infinite.' He did admit that his religion makes provision for several heavenly Pure Lands and hellish Awful Lands, but they are--something like our Purgatory or Limbo--only way stations between a soul's successive rebirths on the way to Nirvana. And at that ultimate destination a soul gets snuffed out, as a candle flame is snuffed, nevermore to enjoy or endure not earth nor Heaven nor Hell nor anything.
     I had cause to reflect on those beliefs, as our company continued eastward from Dun-huang, on a day that was marvelously full of things to reflect on. ...       Marco Polo."

                                         Gary Jennings.


"Man, thrown into the universe, receives, in addition to more or less intense sensations, the ideas of all beings. For the most part, men experience intense sensations only through the impression of objects which immediately answer to their needs, to their taste, etc. Anything alien to their passions, anything without analogy to their way of life, is either not perceived by them at all, or is seen for only an instant without being felt, and is forgotten forever."
        Diderot.


"History has for its object the irregular effects of the passions, and a succession of events so bizzare that one formerly imagined a blind and insensate divinity directing it."

        Fontenelle


     "Shall I tell you the saddest words I ever heard? ... They were the last words spoken by my husband Mordecai (alav hasholom). It was when he lay dying. The darshan was in attendance, and other members of our little congregation, and of course I was there, weeping and trying to weep with quiet dignity. Mordecai had made all his farewells, and he had said the Shema Yisrael, and he was composed for death. His eyes were closed, his hands folded, and we all thought he was peacefully slipping away. But then, without opening his eyes or addressing anybody in particular, he spoke again, quite clearly and distinctly. And what he said was this...I always wanted to go there...and do that...but I never did."
     "What did he mean? Go where? Do what?...That was what the darshan said after we had waited for some moments to hear more. He leaned over the bed and said, 'Go to what place, Mordecai? To do what thing? but Mordecai said no more. He was dead."

                                       Gary Jennings


"...He saw again, like ghosts conjured up, the different days of his past, some gay, others sad; and first those when he played, a child laughing at life, without dream or desire; and the one on which he entered high school, and the other on which he left, the one when he arrived at M. Renaud's, the one on which she came into his room...."

        Flaubert


"The metaphysical proofs of God are so remote from the reasoning of men, and so complicated, that they make but little impression; and even were this to serve some persons, it would be only during the instant of their seeing the demonstration, and an hour afterwards they would fear that they had been deceived."

        Pascal


     "...Gershon read, "Until the day be cool and the shadows flee away.' This refers to the secret known to the Companions, that when a man's time comes to leave the world, his shadow deserts him. Rabbi Eleazar says that man has two shadows, one large and one smaller, and when they are together, then he is truly himself."

                                        Chaim Potok


     "...To track back through the progenitors of a present-day person means doubling the number of contributory mothers and fathers in each bygone generation. If I could retrace the entire lineage of Theodoric or myself or anyone back, say, to the time of Christ--just fifteen generations ago--that person would have had 32,768 men and women contributing to his bloodline at that date. Even in the unlikely event that someone today could pride himself on being a direct descendant of Jesus Christ himself, who were those other 32,767 people?..."

                                         Gary Jennings


 "My imagination, which in my youth always leapt ahead and now looks backward, compensates with those charming memories for the hope I have lost forever; I no longer see anything in the future to tempt me; returning to the past is the only thing that pleases me."

        Rousseau


     "...Forever. I find it laughable that humans, who have no concept of what 'forever' is, invoke it so easily. They have the odd conceit of measuring time by their own life-spans, dividing it into old and new. And for some reason, they think time runs in a straight line..."

     "I envy humans their temporary death and darkness and the loss of memory it brings. They awaken fresh and new, somewhere else, past pain forgotten. The most cruel of fates is remembering; you would not want to hear a fraction of the terrible things I remember."

                                        Morgan Llywelyn


     "And what about the act of dying itself? The water closing over my head, congesting my lungs, the sinking, down and down. What would it matter then if the whole world was sorry I was dead? I wouldn't know about it. Their sorow would occupy only a small part of their lives, but my death would be the end of the whole of mine. It would happen no matter what I did. Death was not a gesture I could gloat over. if I threw myself into that water I would gain nothing but the inevitable. Tomorrow, next week, fifty years from now, one day it had to end."

                                        Tom De Haas.


"Moshe -- you are bed ridden for eighteen months now; cannot read or write and have difficulty hearing and speaking. In your place, like your judo teacher in England, I would choose to end my life. Have you considered this?"

"Don't be silly! I have my own thoughts for company, and I am too curious to know what would have happened fifteen minutes after I died."

(Fragment of a conversation between M. Felden Krais and M. Kimmey 2 months prior to his death in 1984.)

      (published with the permission of Michaeleen Kimmey)


     "I wanted you to know this. When you come at last to die, you may be devoid of all other urges and senses and faculties, but you will still possess your passion of curiousity. It is something that even cloth merchants have, perhaps even clerks and other such drudges. Certainly a journeyer has it. And in those last moments it will make you grieve--as Mordecai did--not for anything you have done in your lifetime, but for the things you never got to do."

                                        Gary Jennings.


                         "Carnival carnivorous
                         And greedy eyed solicitors
                         And clowns that only cry.
                         Fun, fun, fun, Buy, buy, buy!
                               FASCINATION!
                         Family Fun spots
                         Spot the nation
                         Amusement Parks--amuse--
                         The young, whose world this is."

                                        Antone G. Pimental


     "Your country, if you'll forgive me," said one of the other radicals--the one they called simply Arbeiter (Arbeiter means "worker" in German), "your country is really a criminal place" Arbeiter said, "If you'll forgive me," he added, "your country is the ultimate triumph of corporate creativity, which means it is a country controlled by the group-thinking of corporations. These corporations are without humanity because there is no one personally responsible for their use of power; a corporation is like a computer with profit as its source of energy--and profit as its necessary fuel. The United States is--you'll forgive me--quite the wost country in the world for a humanist to live in, I think."

                                         John Irving


                  True happiness
                  Consists not in the multitude of friends
                  But in the worth and choice.

                                         Ben Jonson


     "I can't. I can't go on. It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another...
     I didn't realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back -- up the hill -- to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look.
     Good-by, Good-by world. Good-by, Grover's Corners...Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking...and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. and new-ironed dresses and hot baths...and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.
     Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? -- every, every minute?"

                                       Thornton Wilder



"Do as you wish
Not as others wish you to do
Remember this:
'To thine own self be true."

                                      Antone G. Pimental


     "I thought of Dion. He had caught a dream from Plato, and willed himself to be. A proud creation. Yet I too had dreamed, and many more. How not? When the springs are back, everyone's mind is on clear water. Look what Athens, and most of Hellas, has seen in our father's time and ours. First war: then weakness, tyranny, revolution; then the breaking of the tyranny, and at last the good life could begin. But men's fires burned low; fighting the base with base weapons had shrunk their souls; before one can make the good life, one must remember what it is. There's always one more war to win, or one more election, before the good life; meantime, they wrangle about the good, those who still believe in it. So we dream. Of what? Some man sent by the gods, first to make us believe in something, if only in him, and then to lead us. That is it. We have dreamed a king." ...

                                         Mary Renault


                "Is there a daughter born in dreams
                Whose flesh is snow, whose ruby eyes
                Stare into realms whose substance seems
                Strong as agony, soft as lies?
                Is there a girlchild born of dreams
                Who carries blood as old as Time,
                Destined one day to blend with mine
                And give new lands a newer queen?"

                                         Michael Moorcock


     "Do you think I have less divination than the swans? For they, when they know that they must die, having sung all their lives sing louder then than ever, for joy at going home to the god they serve. Men, who themselves fear death, have taken it for lamentation, forgetting no bird sings in hunger, or cold, or pain. but being Apollo's they share his gift of prophecy, and forsee the joys of another world..."

     "As it is, he and the people are like figures in a tragedy, who come together meaning well, but are born to work each other's ruin."

                                         Mary Renault


"... If a writer doesn't enjoy words--some words--for their own sake how can the reader enjoy them?

But I do enjoy words--some words--for their own sake! Words like river, and dawn, and daylight, and time. These words seem much richer than our experiences of the things they represent--..."

                                                 Alasdair Gray.


     "I had no wish to stay on in Syracuse and speak his epitaph. There was no one here to write it; that was for the old man in Athens, who had written it, I suppose, already in his heart. As for me, Kallipos would not take time to look for me, a vain actor with a head for nothing but his roles. I would sail with Ariston, who had been kind when kindness or cruelty had power to shape my soul, and see he did not die hungry, or alone. That, I thought, is as much as most men can hope to bring away from the march of history, when all is said."
 

                                         Mary Renault


     "A day passes in a flash when one is busy. Yet it seems to drag on forever when there is nothing to do. I've been thinking about this, and I have come to the conclusion that time is motion. A man whose life has been crammed with activity has lived much longer than a man who sits and thinks and broods, and yet the busy man, when death comes, says: Was that all? So little time..."

                                         Tom De Haan.


    All tragedies deal with fated meetings; how else could there be a play? Fate deals its stroke; sorrow is purged, or turned to rejoicing; there is death, or triumph; there has been a meeting, and a change. No one will ever make a tragedy--and that is as well, for one could not bear it--whose grief is that the principals never met."

                                         Mary Renault


     "Soon? What could Time mean in that intemporal Realm? Perhaps he must wait for Eternity before they could be together? Or a mere passing moment? Or would he never see her? Was all that lay ahead of him an absence, a nothingness? Or would his soul enter some other body, perhaps equally as sickly as his present one, and be faced again with the same impossible dilemmas, the same terrible moral and physical challenges which had plagued him since his emergence into adulthood?"

                                        Michael Moorcock


     "I remember something else she said to me that night. 'We have all our lives ahead of us.' I used to say that to Peter: 'Why are you in such a hurry? You've got your whole life ahead of you.'
     I wonder if there's anyone alive or dead who hasn't said that at least once, or thought it. Perhaps Hans didn't: those were not the sort of terms he thought in. I never heard Alexi use it, though, which is strange. Or not. I suppose he would say it wasn't a truism.
     It's not true. From the moment we are born we have a bit of our lives behind us, and more and more of our lives behind us until it is all behind us and we are dead. I see I have found a new way of expressing my present existence, this being both alive and dead: all of my life is behind me, and yet I am not dead. Oh Reyhnard, you are such a liar, no not a liar but such a neat constructor of aphorisms, or whatever you call them. You have one thing left in life, and that is love for the people who loved you. That is what hurts you and that is what reminds you that you are still alive..."

                                     Tom De Haan



"...But I know one thing now which I did not then. I know it from my own experience and knowledge of myself. A man stays always the same age, somewhere down inside himself. Only the outside of him grows older--his wrapping of body, and its integument, which is the whole world. Inwardly he attains to a certain age, and stays there throughout his whole remaining life. That perpetual inner age may vary, I suppose, with different individuals. But in general I suspect that it gets fixed at early maturity, when the mind has reached adult awareness and acuity, but has not yet been calloused by habit and disillusion; when the body is newly full-grown and feeling the fires of life, but not yet any of life's ashes. the calendar and his glass and the solicitude of his juniors may tell a man that he is old, and he can see for himself that the world and all around him have aged, but secretly he knows that he is still a youth of eighteen or twenty."

                                     Gary Jennings


         "ON THE DEATH OF FRIENDS IN CHILDHOOD

     We shall not ever meet them bearded in heaven,
     Nor sunning themselves among the bald of hell;
     If anywhere, in the deserted schoolyard at twilight,
     forming a ring, perhaps, or joining hands
     In games whose very names we have forgotten.
     Come, memory, let us seek them there in the  shadows."

                                    John Irving as Donald Justice.


     "Time and necessity encircle all creation, the new being reborn from the old. There is the shadow below the sea and the light that gilds its surface. One requires the other, opposites though they be, and Beli's golden chariot must sleep nightly within the darkened cave if it is to achieve its auroral ascent upon the arc of upper air.
     As druids, and Ilyfyrion teaches us, 'Men's souls and the universe are indestructible, although at times fire and water may prevail,' which I take to be a revelation of continual cycles of death and reparturition. And what is the encircling Adanc of the Deep, his tail in his slavering jaws, but the pitiless cycle of renewal which contains itself and is preserved in the salt: tormented in his subaqueous travails, continually creating the cosmos anew through breaking of the waters?"

                                    Nickolai Tolstoy


                            TO A TEN-MONTHS' CHILD

                         "Late arrival, no
                         One would think of blaming you
                         For hesitating so.

                         Who, setting his hand to knock
                         At a door so strange as this one,
                         Might not draw back?"

                                   John Irving  (as Donald Justice)



                         It was such a joy to find
                         In life's old age I wasn't blind
                         To beauty I saw as a child
                         And lingered on a while.

                         Still left were many roads untaken
                         To reawaken my imagination.
                         Revitalized in the stream of time;
                         Brought again to senses of mine.
 

       Awaken Lazarus from death itself;
                         I stopped to partake of the wealth
                         From the stream of time reversed.
                         And over and over I rehearsed:

                         In life's old age I wasn't blind.

                                          Antone G. Pimental


     "...And you weren't able to give him the one true answer.
     The one true answer?
     Of course. That there's nothing to understand. Synarchy is God.
     God?
     Yes. Mankind can't endure the thought that the world was born by chance, by mistake, just because four brainless atoms bumped into one another on a slippery highway. So a cosmic plot has to be found--God, angels, devils. Synarchy performs the same function on a lesser scale..."

                                              Umberto Eco



 

     "Old! It is inconceivable! When I look into our book, Luigi, I see myself there a boy, and then a youth, and then in my manhood, and even at the book's very end I am still a stalwart. But when I look into a glass, I see there an aged stranger, sapped and sagged and blemished and enfeebled by the corroding rusts of five and sixty years. I murmur, 'That old man cannot go a-journeying,' and then I realize that old man is Marco Polo."

                                               Gary Jennings.
 


     "Look at it like this," Frank would lecture me. "Why does it seem to take more than half a lifetime to get to be a lousy teen-ager? Why does childhood take forever--when you're a child? Why does it seem to occupy a solid three-quarters of the whole trip? And when it's over, when the kids grow up, when you suddenly have to face facts...well," Frank said to me, just recently, "you know the story. When we were in the first Hotel New Hampshire, it seemed we'd go on being thirteen and fourteen and fifteen forever. For fuckingng forever, as Franny would say. But once we left the first Hotel New Hampshire," Frank said, "the rest of our lives moved past us twice as fast. That's just how it is, "Frank claimed, smugly. "For half your life, you're fifteen. Then one day your twenties begin, and they're over the next day. And your thirties blow by you like a weekend spent with pleasant company. And before you know it, you're thinking about being fifteen again.
     "Downhill?" Frank would say. "It's a long uphill--to that fourteen-year-old, fifteen-year-old, sixteen-year-old time of your life. And from then on," Frank would say, "of course it's all downhill. And anyone knows downhill is faster than uphill. It's up--until fourteen, fifteen, sixteen--then it's down. Down like water," Frank said, "down like sand," he would say.

                                      John Irving


 "...There are philosophers of my own people who claim that much of our magic is actually the imposition of powerful will upon the fundamental stuff of reality, an ability, if you like, to make dreams come true, Some claim our whole world was created thus...  ... I have seen it said that the world is no more than what its denizens agree it is. I remember reading something to that effect in The Gabbling Sphere  which said: 'for who is to say which is the inner world and which the outer? What we make reality may be what will alone decides and what we define as dreams may be the greater truth,"...

                                     Michael Moorcock


     "... The veriest Romans are likewise Greeks, if you trace back far enough, Sebastos. Every person native to Italia shares the blood of Albans, Samnites, Celts, Sabines, Etruscans and the Greeks who early set colonies on that peninsula.
     And in more recent times an infusion of Germanic blood as well,' said Theodoric..."

                                     Gary Jennings



 

                                      Shiva

                          Winds of the Cosmos,
                               spirals in galaxies
                          or storms churning desert plains:
                               the vortex
                          the circle
                               of birth and death.
                          I dance from sunrise to sunset
                               creating -- destroying,
                          all are one.
                               Children from dust spores
                          are born;
                             Old men into dust motes are torn...
                          Clouds spiral from my dancing feet
                               whirling through night air.
                          Dust settles
                               on tombs of dead princes
                          or beggars
                               asleep by the streets.
                I dance and the universe moves in my                                                             wake...
                          Time is a circle
                                a cadence without end...
                          The past -- the present --the future
                                to come
                          all rotating slowly
                                a wheel rumbling on...
 

                                               Rj White


     "...What a difference the years have made," Charles Leiden said. "It is all a whimsical game, a nothing, really. And yet somehow I seem unable to reconcile myself to that. Otherwise why do I grieve that we now have no one to continue our name..."

                                              Chaim Potok


     "... He wanted to clarify the situation, he wanted to contribute to 'getting things seen in the right light'.
     Seen in the right light?' the painter inquired.
     Eagerly, Maltzahn said: "Yes, it's a matter of the way of looking at things.' Very few people, he said, had seen things in the right light.
     He was about to go on, obviously having worked it all out in advance, but the painter was already talking again, in the same tone as before. He couldn't help it, he said, he saw himself just the way Maltzahn had seen him: a witches' sabbath in paint, an essay in the degenerate. That, after all, had been Maltzahn's view, that was the way he had put it--and what would be the result of trying now to 'see that in the right light'? For him this world was really and truly haunted, and if a man who painted pictures tried to extend his frontiers, he would inevitably cease to be himself. Adolf Ziegler, of the House of German Art, had never been able to grasp that, and that was why he had remained a painter of Germanic pubic hair, a truly national painter, of course. No, he would beg Maltzahn to go on calling him what he had once in the past called him: he had seen him 'in the right light' from the beginning."

                                        Siegfried Lenz


And walk alone into that night of darkness
Now silently weep in your heart.
Your heart shall be filled with joy,
And your mind shall find peace

The city is crying,
Though not alone.
Lift your eyes,
To starlight skies,
And dream - Oh dream!

                                       Antone G. Pimental


     "...And this is the way the world ends, and this is the way the world ends, and this is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper,' trying to get through all of it without taking another breath, but I couldn't quite make it. I was developing the lungs of a pearl diver, but my cords weren't happy. 'And this is the way the world ends, and this is the way the [breath] world ends, and this is the way the world [breath] ends..."

                                               J.R. Humphreys


     "He (Theodoric) pondered the question before replying. 'Perhaps it is because I try to keep in mind one thing that all people should, but seldom do. It is that every person--king, commoner, slave--man, woman, eunuch, child--every dog and cat too, for all I know--is the center of the universe. That fact ought to be self-evident to each of us. But we--being each the center of the universe--we do not often pause to realize that so is everyone else."

                                              Gary Jennings


                                 - Elysium -

                       "A chalk-white moon that doesn't set
                        And a hundred towns not seen yet
                        Are reasons I wish to linger.
                        And I cannot put my finger
                        On the mood that has overtaken me
                        As I stand here overlooking
                        The Mediterranean Sea.

                        The cloudless sky, the morning star,
                        The cafe: "Terrace Sur La Mar,"
                        On this golden day, seem a dream
                        But no -- it is -- Elysium."

                                     Antone G. Pimental


     "...Hemmed in by the people I belong to, besieged by memories, drenched in all that has happened where I belong, permeated by the realization that time is not, repeat not, the great healer, I know what I have to do and what I shall do tomorrow morning..."

                                           Siegfried Lenz


     "Theodoric paused and looked at each of us in turn. 'Can any of you, worthy men, conceive of even the grass growing when you can no longer feel it springy underfoot? When you can no longer smell its sweet aroma after rain? When you can no longer loose your faithful horse to graze upon it? When the grass has no other reason for growing but to mantle your grave--and you not able even to look and admire that?"
                                   Gary Jennings


     "I croaked my good-night to Parson and Art at the subway kiosk. Downward they went, side by side, sinking from my sight between walls scrawled with the names of all our inarticulate, frustrated child poets who sum up their short lives in their nicknames and the numbers of the streets where they live; down between those livid letters and swirls and strokes Parson and Art went--into the underworld of the Great God Damn."...
 

                                     J.R. Humphreys



      "So we dream on. Thus we invent our lives. We give ourselves a sainted mother, we make our father a hero; and someone's older brother, and someone's older sister--they become our heroes, too. We invent what we love, and what we fear. There is always a brave, lost brother--and a little lost sister, too. We dream on and on: the best hotel, the perfect family, the resort life. And our dreams escape us almost as vividly as we can imagine them.
     In the Hotel New Hampshire, we're screwed down for life--but what's a little air in the pipes, or even a lot of shit in the hair, if you have good memories?"

                                   John Irving


 In a grave near the river
  he rests forever
by Connecticut fields
  where strawberries
   once used to grow.
Far from his people -- and Acadian shores,
 his ancestors too lie scattered
  under strange skies -- the Exiled.
He was the son of French Acadian folks
 Evangeline’s tale tells it all.
Wanderers, the lot
 searching for a new home
  a people -- lost in the Diaspora
    of one - seven - five - five. . .
Where have they gone
  all those faces
   mothers - fathers - brothers and sisters
    cousins too? . . .
Have they joined other fabled folks
 Etruscans - Atlanteans - Hyperboreans
  on some distant trek?
On a cold clear day in  fifty-five’
 with guns to their heads
  whole families wrent apart
Men in one ship
 women and children in others
Boatload after boatload
 sent down New England’s coast.
One ship off to England, another off to France
 Scattered folks -- shattered lives
most never to see their lands again. . .
 Acadia -- New France -- Nova Scotia . . .
Memories now.
 We return, wearing tourist’s shoes
We -- who were “They” long, long ago . . .

(In  Memory of A.J. White 1911-1995)             Rj LeBlanc


At the Second Beach

              - From the notebooks of Antone G. Pimental -






















Slick Bell-bottomed pants-
Long hair, curling at the ends;
Moustache.
All the outside essentials-
That seem to make him today's youth.
A lone wander down the beach-
A certain softness yet in his eyes-
Home - to some writing-
Some woodcarving - or another expression;
     This changes the first impression-
For those who see,
From the inside.

     Not yet forgetting - that man is still man
With individual preferences,
Tastes, likes and dislikes.
     Not forgetting that sometimes
Being alone - really isn't all that bad.
     But walking down the street,
When you see him,
He looks like, just, anybody else,
Or just another one of today's youth.

     Perhaps its best that differences exist,
and stay un-advertised.
It makes life a challenge.
It sometimes makes us detectives,
As we go - looking for the little things.

                                 Antone G. Pimental



 And Cast A Glance

                        And Cast a Glance
                        That Might Return;
                        It's only Chance
                        That She will Yearn
                        The Way I do;
                        That I'll Discern
                        The Meaning True:
                        The Silent Phrase
                        of Her Dark Eyes
                        ...   ...   ...

                                  Antone G. Pimental


                        - San Diego -

                   And How Do you Feel Now,
                   To Be Part of The Crowd - ?
                   It seems You've molded well;
                   Your Eyes Say "Go to Hell"
                   And if You Remember
                   That You, Too, Were Once There
                   Perhaps You'll Look At Me
                   A Little More Kindly.

                                   Antone G. Pimental
 


            - Provincetown, East, West & Central -

     The gray overcast day abruptly turned into rain but the machinery went on; cars slushed through the streets - factories pounded away - offices  stayed lit. The whistle of a jet engine -made me turn to the window. There was a mighty roar - and the bird was in the air, - The whine of a Greyhound bus - returned my gaze to the earth. I envied all the motion - and wanted to be going - myself. -

     Inside houses - people were creating - I couldn't see them, or hear them - but I knew they were there - typewriters - clicking away - pens scratching paper, brushes * quills - leaving their mark. It was important, important to know that creativity - went on - and not only mechanisms, - It was important to know imaginations - drifted - minds drifted trying to locate answers computers just couldn't grasp; - People doing things machines just couldn't do.-----

     This evening I closed the door - hoping to keep night's emptiness outside - Hoping the lights - and music would provide -a daytime atmosphere. - Then I slipped away into my mind. - There were Ideas clicking - but overriding was a fear of my stagnation. -I feared that creatively I was all washed up - and that I was - dying - as an individual.

     I had to survive - to take every possible measure & precaution tp prevent - this death. A change of scenery - away from a stagnant set of surroundings - perhaps that would work.

     Sure, I was writing, but doesn't everyone write? doesn't everyone sit down with a pencil & pad to spill out ideas? No - they sit down with the television turned on - and become absorbed - for a night of entertainment. And when turning the tube off - they erase all the thoughts they might have. Everyone is a potential writer - or artist - if they would just begin to use what's available to them. - But, they don't! ...

 Imagination, creativity - Seemingly new words to advertising firms - and schools - but badly misused words! They say one thing -and mean something completely different. - "Use your imagination" says the teacher to a student who cant grasp his algebra problem. -     Transcendence is the greatest power we have - we can imagine -create - dream and pass into & beyond fantasy worlds. _

     The mind - a marvelous organism - which can create, and surmise in detail - which can separate - and relate - can give marvelous detail - or just not comprehend. More - the mind can take and solidly construct a theory and logic-prove that theory - and then take the exact same logic and disprove that theory. --

     I found myself, at the time, extremely incapable of concentrating on anything. - Books were confusing - and voices gave me a headache. Psychological, perhaps, - which shows another amazing capability of the mind - the fact of feeling dragged down mentally - that the physical body is also dragged down. Freud, perhaps was the first to - emphasize - or show this fact.

                                            A.G. Pimental


Cremation: A Leavetaking
          (for Madelynne, d. February 9, 1970)

Who can forget
What she has forgotten?
No one alive

In that distance that is
Nowhere and anywhere
Beyond the point of her departure
Do not try to follow.
Out there it is remorseless,
The search of no avail.

Learn to forget
What is not easily forgotten,
But keep this farewell ground
Between the pine woods and the sea.

Come back in the spring
When the broken honeycombs of her bones
Are filled with flowers,
And live to tell her so.

                         Michaeleen Kimmey



8-6-69

     It is August - and the berm is still quite high - though the Bay waters do not seem all that turbid. Provincetown must have had a fairly rough winter. At the end of an old wooden dock, just opposite MacMillan Wharf, a shack lays just degrees away from tumbling into the water. The work of high winds, I suppose.

 The hour is late - and a world exists out of its time. It is a world of quiet, long, desolate beaches - gentle waves. At this time, no power boats race and roar along the shore - , all is quiet. Seagulls peacefully glide - letting out cries of their freedom. But even this world is vanishing - as the shack falls - And others rot and are torn apart by high winter winds. It's fortunate that I got to see it now. That I've seen it for the past five years.

 I remember, suddenly, last year how the beach was contoured, and almost looked as perfectly ploughed. The phenomenon was strange and still eludes me.

 Later now - and Provincetown is enveloped in a heavy fog - the sound of the foghorn - every 15 seconds - cries loudly across the water. It's a sound I've come to love - a sound that over many years has become a part of the ocean environment. I recall my first stay in Provincetown; every night a fog world set in - and burnt out with the morning sun. -

                                                  A.G. Pimental


  (Once) I was competing with his work (Tony’s) and sometimes the competition got fierce. I couldn’t win, but I couldn’t accept that.

     Nicki Sanford

              Alone-Together

We share the same space in concert.
Thus -- I am not alone -- only lonely.
I place my  hand in yours,
but in return feel only the sensation of a clenched fist.
I transmit tides of love and need to you
hoping my emotions will touch your soul.
but only see the flood wash
into the empty chasm between us.
You listen to my voice,
but do not hear my words.
Your eyes look at me but do not see me.
I am only the fractured reflection in your mind’s eye --
an appendage --
noticed only when I am dysfunctional.
I feel the uncomprehending demise of self.
I search for something to fill the void --
for a glitter of light
to guide me to the path which will find you.
Ultimately -- I will myself to be free of want and need,
and to accept
that now, at least for me,
there really are no unicorns.

     Nicki Sanford


 I may be 66 but thanks to “the powers that be” I can still enjoy the depth of a man’s eyes, great laugh lines, broad shoulders -- and I still feel the urge to pat a nicely rounded bottom.
 I used to be a rebel but old age has mellowed me so much that I feel guilty when I open a package and then notice the sign that says ‘open other end’.
 When cars are old they become “classics.” I wish people did, too.
 As we watch the hawk circle looking for prey, we realize peace is just an illsion unless it is the peace within ourselves.
 In New England and the Rockies, the mountains loom over you. Here in Georgia, the mountains embrace you.

 I used to be a pessimist and then I became an optomist and the highs are great but the lows are as low as you can get ...

 I spent the first part of my life being a pessimist. I think I was that way because it was easiest for me. When trouble came, I was geared to be prepared. It was not a joyful life because. I always felt the “Sword of Damocles” hanging over my head -- but it was not an unhappy one because of my attitude. It was -- more or less -- a level life.
 This last part, I’ve become an optomist. It certainly is more joyful because the sword is gone but when the surprise bad times come, I really plunge. Life becomes a yo-yo. I am unprepared and feel a loss of control of my self and the situation. I feel scattered and I panic. It takes me time to gather my resources and begin to deal with things again.
 I don’t know which attitude is “best” (and living life is an attitude).  If there is a middle way, I’ve not yet found it. I must admit the joy is a real high -- but is it worth the lows?
 Mental tranquility is within you -- just relax and it will surface. Here, there is peace in the forest. It’s restful and there is little reason for inner turmoil. there is strength, dignity land stability in the mountains that you can absorb and make part of yourself. Get lost in the vastness of it all -- and find yourself . . .
 I’d like to learn to be an early riser, but I have never been very good at it, either the learning or the rising.

  During my life it seems I had many mountains to climb. In retrospect, the majority of them were hills - some high - some low. I learned something from each one I conquered. Defeating the hills and the mountains probably saved my life, because I had to learn to use all my strengths, my stubborness, and my will to be able to stand and walk again each time I fell and to possess an ability to grown through endurance..

    Nicki Sanford   (Georgia, 1996)


Lying awake.
    Music------
        Delicate piano.

Late night.
  Tired.
   Reminiscing.
    Floating away.

Long ago.

Deserted winter beach.

Bitter cold, walking close together hands in each others pockets.

 Child running ahead. Jacket open, hair flying.

The day finds us almost alone with each other in some special place seeking warmth together against that sunless afternoon and

  Salt spray in our faces.

Close to each other in wordless conversation dreading that final moment that is too soon to end this day.

       A. Valentino


Scene from  Oscar Schlondorf’s “The Tin Drum.”

 (Fade in to panorama of Normandy Beach sometime during World War II in the 1940’s.)

 The air is cool -- the sky cold-blue. Two dwarfs in German soldier-uniforms scamper over an occupied Nazi Bunker, climbing onto the big guns that protrude from slit openings in the concrete. A midget captain dressed in a German officer’s uniform, tailored to fit him stands with swagger stick beneath his arm, looking out at the sea. Standing next to him is Oscar, the boy who refuses to grow or to age.

 Captain Bebra says: “If we do not make the rules, others will make them for us. . .”
 Oscar, dressed in an ill fitting infantry soldier’s uniform, looks tired and bedraggled. He nods at the officer’s comment. . .
 (Fade out)

 Gradually the pieces  to the puzzle of our lives come together. The answers have always been there but we haven’t been able to see them since we have been looking  “through a glass darkly” at scenes "Beyond the Pale."

In Bergman's "The Seventh Seal"  The brave  knight sits, playing chess with death for the lives of himself and his companions. He wants to know the secrets of life but then Death looks up from the board and says: “Secrets! But there are no secrets. . . “

 In Antonioni's  “Red Desert” the heroine, distraught, flounders amidst cold factory buildings. We see  industrial pollution all around us. Monica Viti says, “There’s something wrong with reality, but I don’t know what it is,” she ponders.

 At breakfast yesterday morning, Catherine,  my Irish-Catholic mother said: “I think death is the end. . . There’s nothing more after that." I was shocked." She continued, "People can believe what they want, if it helps them to get through the day . . .”

 My sister and I argued over the phone the other day. I told her she was going too fast in selling Mother's  house, in putting her out of her home and into another environment,  (albeit to live in a new addition to Ann’s home.) Ann argued that she had a time-table of her own that she was following. This “time table” “blew my mind,” I yelled out at Ann in four letter explicatives that, “Mom’s life and welfare is more important than your fucking time table . . .”

 Ann hung up on me, I countered by leaving a message on her answering machine. Here we were, two people with the same goals, helping our mother to find a new life after the death of her husband. . .  But is that really true. Sure, we want to help our mother, but our goals as individuals, our paths are quite different.

I told Ann, on her answering machine, that we were a family split apart, going our separate ways -- that we didn’t even know each other. And therein lies the crux of our plight as humans, we really don’t know, can’t know one another very well.  . .

From that argument with my sister I learned something about my her -- I got to understand something of who and what she is at this point in her life, but mostly I learned something more -- about myself. And that --dear reader, is invaluable stuff.

“. . . And so it goes . . . “    (Thank you! Mr. Vonnigut)

      Jason Redbeard



Returning from Slag Beach

 The wind has turned cold and as we have become chilled, we turn back to the shore. For much of the afternoon we’ve been treading for clams along the shallows and have filled several burlap bags with clams, some soft-shell crabs, and mussels. We will take them back up to our camp, steam them good and eat them along with our spaghetti dinner which Val has gone back to get started.

 Tony is in the lead, taking us up the long trail along the West Bluff Wall. He is talking with Nicki about a book he’s just finished reading, Eisley’s “The Night Country,” I believe.  Later I think I’ll go over to the library and do some browsing among the stacks.  Firbolg has a library like none other and I am constantly discovering whole rooms filled with books that I hadn’t even know about.  You can take that either way, I guess, the rooms are as much of a surprise as are the collection of books which they contain.

 It will be pleasant to sit in the library with a good book, a snifter full of brandy and a crackling wood fire in the hearth.

       Redbeard



 



    Tony By The Sea
 

 The first of September: Summer was over. Tony sat in the cooling sands, his legs drawn up beneath him in a lotus position. His mind roamed the valleys and rounds of the clouds overhead. Then his  thoughts dropped to the horizon and the ocean  and for the first time he was aware of being alone on the beach. A feeling of uneasiness settled within him and he knew it was over, that Summer had come to an end. Fall was beginning and he should be getting ready to go back . . .

At that moment an inspiration seized him. What if he didn't accept the death of Summer, the end of days wandering Provincetown beaches, the end of happy holiday crowds surging down narrow streets, and evenings at noisy coffee houses and starlit nights of sleep upon the beach. It wasn't fair for Summer to end so soon, so abrubtly.

  So, where had they gone, the friends and lovers, companions in the sun? Were they gone leaving him there, betrayed by sunlight, left behind, caught off balance in the middle of a note, a song ended prematurely?
 He questioned why he had not thought forward to the end of this scene; he couldn't have believed, could he, that Summer would go on forever?

 But then, he had made no plans for the finale or even worse, for the time after that. Now it was "After" and everyone had gone; yet he, Tony, was still here and continuing as if nothing had changed.

 This then was the moment of truth, would it stay, Summer, if he continued to believe in it? In that moment he felt a strength within him that told him he could do anything; the feeling caught, and held. He throbbed mightily beneath the sun, his skin absorbing the orb’s dwindling energy.

 A cool breeze ruffled his hair, ran a shiver up his back and the forces of resistence within him divided, became half each smaller, then half again and again .  He felt the energy draining into the sand beneath him; he fought to regain it, felt the futility, knowing the strength was only the sun, now being lost behind a cloud and soon cold winds would drain him even more.

 "Get up Tony! Get up and go, back to Winter cities and greying people. Its time to go Tony," rustled the Autumn wind.

 "No! Not this time," he said to that cool breeze. "I'll make my stand here! Now! This is my summer and I will not give it up."
 The sky, the waves, the sandy beach and Tony sitting in lotus position became the scene, as light flinched into night again and again like a movie speeded up; Indian summer came and went.

 Winter wind, cold rain, waves came crashing onto the shore. Dark clouds scudded across the sky finding Tony at the waterline, wet and cold, but hanging on to a summer that long had passed for others, but not for him. Though his strength ebbed degree by degree he held his vision both day and night.

 Then came the first snow and more, covering Tony with its crust of ice. Soon there was little to see of Tony by the sea.
 But give up, no! Not he - not Tony - not on your life. Though tired and dank, though frozen through, he held his lotus, through the howling, tearing biting stings of winter's icy war. Back in town they bundled tight, threw logs on fires, downed brandies . . .

 But on a beach, next to the sea, sat one who would be free. Tony it was, a piece of last year's summer, hanging on. Now he was quite thin, with garments ripped to shreds. Cold damp days, one beside the next, they sat beside him - congregated around him, pushed upon him, teasing, wearing him down. Christmas, then the New Year came and passed and February saw a bit of thaw.

 He sat there, old and torn; the sun began to shine. Parched lips cracked open in a smile, thin slits shuttered tired eyes: "I've won!" whispered Tony, raising a wrinkled eyebrow to the sky.
 The clouds broke, as if in salute, and sunlight filtered to the ground. "Ah!" said Tony, "it feels so good," then slowly his shoulders slumped.

 Too late the rays of sun had come, his strength was at an end. And so as ice did crack and drain away, so too did Tony flow into the soil, a lotus puddle by the sea.

 Tony was here, in essence perhaps, the sea gulls knew him well. Tony of summer nights and carefree days and flowers in the dunes. He was a lad who drew his line and held it to the last, a summer youth, a thoughtful boy, the sands will guard him well.
 In Provincetown there is a beach with summer flowers that bloom all year round. Sea gulls guard them, sea sprays caress them, the dunes surround them still; its just a small place, a finger reaching out, a beach named simply: "Tony - Tony By the Sea..."

     Captain Jason Redbeard ...


In the Library at Firbolg Castle: a Bibliography:

Now it was time to stop for a while. There, in the library of the castle I brewed a pot of Earl Grey tea. "Aaah! Warm and comfortable here, by the window overlooking the sea." Far out there beyond the breakwater I could see jets of moisture, spewing into the air, sea dragons perhaps . Hard to tell from this distance."

"Well, good tea, this, anyways. And it feels so good to sit down with one's book of notes and writings to read what has been written. Then to try and understand where it was that we all visited and what we learned from the journey. Was it worth it, the trip I mean? Would we go the same way again or would we try a different path?"

My thanks to fellow voyagers:

Constant, Benjamin

De Haan, Tom. "A Mirror For Princes."  Knopf. 1988.

Diderot

Dunsany, Lord. “At the Edge of the World.” Ballantine, 1970.

Eco, Umberto. "Foucault's Pendulum."

Ellison, Harlan.

Felden Krais, M.

Fontenelle

Flaubert

Grey, Alasdair. "Lanark."  George Braziller, Inc. NY.  1985.

Humphreys, J.R.  "Subway to Samarkand."

Irving, John.  "The Hotel New Hampshire."

Jennings, Gary.  "Raptor."

Jennings, Gary.  "The Journeyer."

Jonson, Ben.

Kimmey, Michaeleen. "Cremation: A Leavetaking"

LeBlanc, Rj. alias Rj White, alias, Jay Redbeard, Jason Greybeard.

Lenz, Siegfried. "The German Lesson."  (trans by E. Kaiser and E. Wilkins)

Llywelyn, Morgan

Menninger, Karl A.

Moorcock, Michael. "The Fortress of the Pearl" Victor Gollanz.                                                         1989.

Pascal

Pimental, Antone. "Readings From A Troubled Mind."

Pimental, Antone. "Thoughts for Days Gone By."
 (A.G.P.:  Antone G. Pimental).

Poe, Edgar Allen

Potok, Chaim. "The Book of Lights."

Proust

Renault, Mary. "The Mask of Apollo."

Rousseau

Sanford, Nicki. “Just Thoughts.”

Tolstoy, Nickolai. "The Coming of the King."

Valentino, Aquin.

Valentino, Clementina.

Valery

Wilder, Thornton. “Our Town”

et al...


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