THE LINCOLN-DARWIN STUMP DEBATE OF FEBRUARY 1809, PART 1

by Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

In honor of President’s Day and the evolution of the office, here is a favorite.

     *     *     *   

We are unearthing fantastical new facts that will rewrite history as we know it.  In a stunning tale hidden in the Fiction House Archives, we have found evidence of the mystical origins of two heroes of the 2nd Millenium:  America’s President Abraham Lincoln and the Father of Evolution, Charles Darwin.  Was it Fate or Destiny that they be born within hours on the same day?

For the revolutionary-evolutionary and the rail-splitter, the story begins a fortnight before they arrived in this world.

*     *     *

Mariner sits cross-leg atop Turt’s shell as they glide down the Leezian’ bayou.  He looks upward, mentally charting the strange new celestial alignment, even he, as an experienced seaman, has never observed:  A pair of stars – bright as planets – appears on a slow course of collision.

A pigeon perches on Mariner’s shoulders; another is at his ankles.  Their outstretched wings catch a light breeze and provide sail power.  Normally Mariner appears a muscled Poseidon – wild ivory hair, eyes fiery, clenching his trident-like custom-made harpoon.  But on this twinkling night, he’s swift, gentle Mercury in pigeon feather helmet and winged sandals.  He almost feels Mercury, messenger of the Gods, delivering news imperative to the survival of all mortals.

Neither Mariner nor Turt fear gators that swim near.  Mariner’s unrivaled in harpoons-manship.  Turt’s beak-snout strength and the quickness of his fin-claws overpower any gator, any size.

“Breathe in, deep-like ‘ol fella,” Mariner says to Turt.  “Smell it?  Blow me down, if we aren’t nearing our port.”

Turt arcs his crusty, leather neck and sniffs.  His perpetual beak-snout frown hides a widening smile.  He knows the joy awaiting him on the bank of the bayou:  Mama Lucy’s stump juice.

The dewy air is pleasantly thick with a fruit-nut pungency from the ferment The Healer of the Bayou brews for her medicines and delectable delights.  Our travelers are on their way to visit:  Turt, to renew old acquaintances and sip from a sumptuous stump, and Mariner, to query the blind seer about the spectacular sky omen.

From his dungaree pocket, Mariner extracts his dog-eared Seafarer’s Guide to the Galaxy and fans through the fish-smelly pages.  He finds the chart he has studied since first observing the star alignment.

~ ~ editor note:  The copy of Mariner’s ‘Guide’, necessarily vented by over two centuries in the open air, is on display at the Fiction House Bed, Breakfast, and Museum – “a nice place to stay and visit at a great price.  (When remodeling is complete.)”  ~ ~

Mariner cannot read – not a word in the ‘Guide’, but he’s versed in the celestial.  He sees on the pages and in the sky, an alignment not repeated for 1800 years and a decade – give or take a month or two:  Not since the B.C.’s became the A.D.’s, he knows, though he can’t even recognize his A,B,C,D’s.

“EEE-eee,” Mariner hears Mama Lucy screech excitedly from the bank.  “My ‘ol friends, ‘de come sailen’ in.  Back for a drink of my heavenly sin!”

*     *     *

Mama Lucy’s so old – a hundred years and many more – she’s shrunk to no taller than a yard and a third stick.  Her head is onion shape and hair sprouts up and out – bleach white.  She’s not white or black – more of an off shade of gray.  The Cayan people of the bayou have long forgotten which race from which she comes.

Mama Lucy rhymes to Mariner as she ‘reads’ the sky’s meaning .

My Bayou sky is showin’

Two Stars together comin’.

Be it glad or be it warnin’

A pair o’ birthin’ omens?

Mama’s words sublime often come in singsong rhyme.

She and Mariner sit by the bayou bank, on a log near her cabin home.  It is also her medical office / laboratory / backwoods herbal pharmacy.  Turt moseys, taste testing the varied fare the hollowed out stumps have to offer.

“Heyah Turt,” Mama Lucy calls out to him.  “Take a beak-snoutful of the grub worm aperitif. Brewed it up special for your under-shell itch relief.”

Turt sifts in a long, languorous drink of it and mentally mimics Mama’s rhyming.  ‘Ahh!  The magic fixer elixir.  If only you could carry it on a sea trek.  Nary would a parasite’s tarry make you a nervous wreck.’  Turt drains the stump and winks gratefully to MamaThe pigeons, roosting comfortably on Mariner’s shoulder perch, fly over to join him at his next stump.

    Mama Lucy bends to arrange rocks on the ground to reflect the aberrant sky show.

“As I been watchin’ ‘em, Mama,” says Mariner.  “I’m seein’ ‘em move such that in a fortnight, they’ll be right about here.”  He readjusts her display.

Mama Lucy rises, creakily.  You can almost hear her bones rattling around in her shapeless burlap sack of a dress as she ambles about blindly ‘reading’ the sky, then rocks, then sky again.  ‘Connoitering’.  Reconnoitering, the weight, the feel of the stars on her bare shoulders, their sulfur in her nostrils, and glow in her thoughts.  “Something strange indeed up high.  Important babes birthin’ nigh.  May be a needin’ my mid-wifen’ to avoid a life a’ strifen.”

Mama lay on the warm ground to keep continual ‘read’ of the sky.  Mariner stretches.  It’s been a long and cramped, though convivial, sail aboard Turt.  “If you follow the stars’ path as I’ve been doing, Mama.  You’ll see, one points to England.  ‘Tother, to up north, Kentucky.  In not many days, I could get there.  England’s ‘nother matter.”  Mariner reclines besides her, but in moments snoozes – the effects of the alcohol in the stump juice he’s imbibed takes its effect.

Mama Lucy wonders aloud.  “Ah!  But the magical sense of creatures!”  Screech owls hoot wise agreement in the distance.  She looks over at the merrily getting tipsy Turt and his pigeon friends.  “Turt could find the babe, pre-manger, across the sea.  By creature-sensing the star’s magic, he could bring my birthen’ notions to the he or she.”

Mama continues to study and ponder.  At once, out of her knowings comes the answer.

“Two to be born.  Of that, I am just sure.

They omen hope and understandin’ for the sad world’s cure.

No complicatin’ of birth will there be

With me off to Kentucky and Turt to sea.”

NEXT WEEK:  PART 2

©Raji Singh 2012, 2016

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read their origins in my novel, TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE,   but that’s a different story.  It’s available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble,)

Posted in archeo-apologist, Fiction House Publishing, humor, satire, Short stories, Uncategorized, whimsy, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

VALENTINE, COME WITH ME TO THE KISSING TREE

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction  ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Please enjoy a loving piece from the Fiction House Publishing’s,  The Seasons of My Giving Back by Mark Rogers.

cover the seasons of my giving back

*     *     *

Who would ever think? A broken furnace boiler leading to my first real kiss.

Oh, there’d been plenty on the cheek – by Mother, all the Aunties, by my imaginary muse, Luny Mum, and yech phew!  Fickle Marr-grr-ett from school.  Often came tickly pecks from Captain Polly.  From Turt, slurpy beak-snout nuzzles.  I’d feel butterfly wing flutters caress me when I walked through the Woods.

But none of them was anything like what was to come – and on a day so appropriate, Valentine’s Day!

(Had my joys of giving back to others, made me appreciate the giving backs to me?)

*     *     *

No matter, that it is the coldest day in all of Cincinnati history, I stay warm because I burn with ecstasy as I run home from Mrs. Florsheim’s fourth grade classroom.

Before I can herald the ice-shattering headline news – “NO SCHOOL, MOTHER; FOR AT LEAST A-WEEK-AND-A-HALF!  UNTIL THE NEW BOILER ARRIVES” – Mother greets me, even more excited than I, from atop the stairs.

“The principal called, Raji.  This means we will be able to accompany your Fa on his trip.  So hurry.  Come and pack your clothes.”

Within an hour, we are on the plane to New York to connect to a Lindia flight.

“You’ll get to see Reena,” Mother whispers so she won’t disturb other passengers; or maybe she wants to share a private moment.  Perhaps she doesn’t want to embarrass me in public.  “Valentine Day is big in Lindia as in America, Raji.  I knew you might not have time to get Reena a card.”

She hands me a red envelope.  “You can give Reena your heart.”

My Heart Flutters like Calico, A Foundling's Gentlest Friend (©2013 Image by Joseph Rintoul)

My Heart Flutters like Calico, A Foundling’s Gentlest Friend
(©2013 Image by Joseph Rintoul)

I mostly turn red, as the envelope.  But inside my smile fills me completely. ‘Reena!’ I haven’t seen her since last summer.

I sleep most all the way over the ocean.  I dream of Reena, working alongside as volunteers helping feed the poor, and then later playing together – jacks, cards, exploring the Lindian Woods.

When I drowsily awaken, I look out the window.  ‘Reena!’  Her semi-cupid smile and sweet chocolate hair sway gently in dreamy cloud drifts.

Our plane lands in Lindia City.  Fa goes to consult on a free clinic he and other doctors are establishing.  Mother and I visit the smooth-face Aunties and gray-bearded Uncles.

After so many cheeky kisses, both bristly and soft, Mother brings out a costume the Aunties have made for me.  The scents of their exotic perfumes, absorbed by the yellow silk cloth as they sewed it, lingers as I put it on.  A scarlet-teethed betel nut chewing Uncle whiskers my face with black paint and marks my bare arms with orange blotches.

I am to be a young tiger, alongside dozens of other similar young human cats, at a benefit for the clinic.  Another of my Uncles, Uncle Balu, a real life Tigerman, will be the entertainer.

~ ~  editor note:  The art of the Tigermen is ancient, its Lindian origins unknown.  The performer in tiger costume and regalia dances lithely as the big cat, and sings-growls hauntingly of its plight.  Tigerman troubadours traveled cities and villages entertaining just as circus, movie, and tv do today.  In the 21st century, Tigerwomen have joined in this resurging cultural phenomenon.  You can see a demonstration and learn more of the art of the Tigerperson in Raji Singh’s novel Tales of the Fiction House.  ~ ~

The curtain falls on our performance.  The tiger kids gather around Uncle Balu, adulation, as if he were a rock star.

I feel a paw on my shoulder.  I turn.  ‘Reena!’

She’s a face painted young tigress in golden slacks.  She was a dancer too.  I just hadn’t seen her in the masquerading tiger troupe.

Uncle Balu motions with his claw, ‘Go with Reena, Raji.  We’ll see each other often while she’s in school.’

Welcome to the Lindian Woods (Image ©2014 Raji Singh

Welcome to the Lindian Woods
(Image ©2014 Raji Singh

Reena and I walk into the bright sunlight, paw in claw.  I had thought that when we first saw each other we would screech and howl like wild cats, and pounce into the Lindian Woods.  Instead, we walk slowly and our words, especially mine, come like timid purrs and near-silent meows.

Purr!  Its been so long since I’ve seen you, Raji.”

“Meow.”

Reena takes a paper lace heart from her small purse.  “Happy Valentine’s Day, Raji.”

“Meow!”  I reach into my pocket.

Oh no!  I left the card on my suitcase when I changed for the show.  If only there was some tiger-magic that could make it bound through the window and fly to me.

Before I attempt to stammer, “I…I have a card for you too Reena,” I hear a voice saying, “Aark!  Ark!  I know what you’re thinking.  I’m on it.”  It’s Captain Polly.  She’s in a tree, camouflaged by colorful leaves.  I should have expected her to be spending a tropical few weeks here, while it’s 20 below in Cincinnati.

Inconspicuously, she swoops away.

Reena looks around.  “Did you hear someone calling for someone named, Mark?”

“Meow!”  A cat that swallowed the canary, I.  “I don’t think I heard anything, Reena.”

We walk through the woods, our purrs, our meows slowly becoming human words.

“Will you be coming to Lindia this summer?”

“Definitely, and for the whole summer.  We’ll work alongside each other, again.”

Behind the golden face paint, Reena’s smile becomes sun-bright.  I’m emboldened.  I twist my neck so our faces are inches apart.  Reena closes her eyes.  I wet my lips and I ready to…

A trumpeting blare coming from the close-by river startles us.  We pull away from each other.

Of course, I should know by now.  When Captain Polly is, nearby, Turt probably is too.

‘Darn it!’  I suddenly realize.  Turt’s blast was intentional – my shell fellow’s good-natured ploy of scaring, enabling me to take Reena into my protective embrace.

I hear,“Aark!  Aark!” once again.

Reena once again hears “Mark”, and walks around the woods looking for someone by that name.

Captain Polly carries the red envelope in one talon.  Swift as a falcon she swoops down, lights on my shoulder, and slips it down the back of my shirt.  She whispers so Reena cannot hear, “Take her on a romantic cruise.”

I’m confused.

“Upon Turt, silly boy.”

I know my facial expression asks, “Where?”

“Turt knows,” Captain Polly says, and flies, disappearing among tree leaves before Reena returns.

I open my mouth, no words, not even a timid meow or purr, come forth.

“Raji.  Are you okay?”

Suddenly Captain Polly’s voice becomes deep, and it’s as if she’s talking for me as Cyrano de Bergerac talked for the stupefied Christian to Roxanne.  “Mi Lady, your card.”

I remove it from my shirt.  With jittery fingers, I take it from the envelope and give it to her.

“Oh Raji.  It is beautiful.”

“Take my hand.  Come sailing with me,” Polly-Cyrano requests.

We walk to the river and board Turt’s carriage of a shell.  We sit close to one another and hold hands tight.  As an excuse, we say, “So neither of us might topple into the water.”

Turt sets sail, always looking straight ahead to allow us to be alone.  Neither of us talks as we drift; free of all school and playground worries.  Our winged Cyrano keeps her big beak out of our privacy by flying parallel to us, an unseen chaperone hidden in the woodland.

The warm breeze pushes through the round curls of Reena’s hair.  I feel I’m drowning deliciously in the jasmine perfume of her shampoo.  I put my head to hers.

She doesn’t pull away.

I know we both are feeling the pulse of each other’s temples beating as one.  Even when a curious alligator swims up to investigate the goings-on on his or her river, and Turt opens his razor-sharp beak-snout to ‘HISS’ him or her away, we do not separate.

Are we oblivious, or are we blissfully in lo…No, I’m sure I’m too young for that.

After 20 minutes, Turt ports riverside.  Gently I hold Reena’s hand and we disembark.

Captain Polly-Cyrano de Bird-gerac re-emerges from her quiet.  “Come Mi-lady.  Walk with me.”

Turt motions with his beak-snout the path we should take.  Slowly he trails us.

I’m dying to speak for myself.  Just when I start to, Captain Polly shows herself and squawks,

Aark!  Beware, Raji, Reena, Turt.

”Behind you!”

When danger arises, Turt can step sideways on his fin-claws fast as a spinning top.  The entirety of his sharp-edged shell frame becomes a deadly cudgel if need be.  As Reena and I turn, Turt is already facing a 600-pound tiger that has leaped from the underbrush, and is within one bound of us.

The beast’s scream-roar vibrates the trees in the Lindian Woods. Small creatures shriek and scatter.

The Lindian River and those of fin within it tremble.

Reena pulls my arm.  “Let’s run, Raji.”

Aark!  Stay where you are,” squawks Captain Polly.  “He’s jealous, Reena, Raji.  Braak! You make prettier tigers than he will ever be.  Turt and I will cure him of his rage.”

Captain Polly flies, talons bared toward the top of the tiger’s head.  She gouges, again, again, grounding him, mid-pounce, as he leaps toward us.

That’s when Turt rams the tiger’s stomach with his shell.  His automobile-equal weight winds the beast, and he flops lamely to the twiggy floor. Turt’s been traversing the Lindian Woods for well over a hundred years. He’s an old pro at handling its tigers. He clamps his fin-claw atop the breathless tiger to imprison him.

Turt winks and motions with his beak-snout proudly raised high, as if to say,

‘You three proceed.  I’ll have no trouble making sure this one doesn’t follow.  If he even tries anything, well, I pity him. I loyally await your return.’

“Follow me,” beckons Captain Polly.

Reena and I hold hands, tightly.

In a few minutes, we arrive at something so majestic, so overpowering, so like I’ve never before seen, that my eyes water.  A lump forms in my throat and I am speechless.  Towering above us is two Lindian Fan Trees.  By their height, and the sturdiness of their entwined roots that grow together as bastion legs just above the ground, I know they’re well over 100 years old.  Their lean trunks grow at a slight angle upward, and then veer inward 15 feet in the air, merge, as two mouths meeting, before continuing their separate paths skyward.

“The…the…”  Reena can hardly speak either.  “I’ve heard stories of it.    But I never really thought it existed.  It is so grand.”

Aark!  The Kissing Tree,” squawks Captain Polly.  “Kiss her you, fool.”

I take Reena in my arms and our mouths meet.

Come With Me to the Kissing Tree (Image ©2014 Raji Singh)

Walk With Me to the Kissing Tree
(Image ©2014 Raji Singh)

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.  They are completely different stories. My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2015 Raji Singh

Posted in archeo-apologist, Children's stories, Fiction House Publishing, humor, Short stories, whimsy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

USE YOUR IMAGINATION TO FIND YOUR PASSION

by Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we’ll never have lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we’ll never have lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

I am James Thaddeus Fiction, the Fifth – a true Fiction.  Typhoon tears me from my parents.  I alone survive.  I become an orphaned foundling, taken in by new loving parents, Dr. Ben and Indira Singh.  Now, I am Raji.  These are my found and foundling tales.

I discover that my ‘giving-back to the world’ summer job as youngster would be volunteering on a road kill clean up gang.  (See Chef R.K’s Gourmet Surprise) How can this help others?  Soon I would see, and it would change my life.  A strange and wonderful sixth sense would awaken.

*     *     *

     My parents and I walk along the gravel roadside, amongst Lindia’s most impoverished, to meet the man in charge of the road kill crew.  A crescendo of sound and scent, mixing, becoming an almost indescribable sixth sense, overpowers me.

 I.  The Scents:

Welcome to the Lindian Woods Where I Was Found (Image ©2014 Raji Singh

Welcome to the Lindian Woods
(Image ©2014 Raji Singh

Carried on a spicy bed of gently warmed cinnamon twigs, propelled by a soft breeze, comes a unique sweet-coconut, sleepy-cocoa aroma one smells only in these Lindian Woods.  Quilting it are the sour of lemon drips, the pungent shavings of ginger, earthy cumin, the licorice smell-taste of fennel, and the sharp mint of coriander.  These delicacy scents, savored daily by even Lindia’s poorest.  These are all combinations completely new to me.  I would learn all about them that summer and they would remain with me, in my smell and taste sensations to this adult day.

II. The Sounds:

The scents mix with the sweet, hypnotic strings of sitar music that flow smoothly through the pungent air, mixing, roiling together until they become one –the unknown sixth sense.  Where have I heard these soothing sounds?  So familiar.  I feel I am swept onward by the wave of humanity in which I travel, toward the smell, toward the sound.  The music and the aroma do not get more intense and louder.  Instead, they mingle even more; become even more – as one – if that is possible.  Then I realize.  The music is from an identical, scratchy, yet still beautiful old 78 Victrola record Mother so often played.

Calico, A Foundling's Gentlest Friend (©2013 Image by Joseph Rintoul)

My Joyous Friend, Calico
(©2013 Image by Joseph Rintoul)

From Beethoven’s Ninth – Ode to Joy played in gentle solo by Ravi Shankar.  His echoing strings seem to still the Lindian Wood’s bird whistles and small animal chirps.  Are the creatures studying the tone, so they can later join the serenade?

I tell myself.  This is the most beautiful music ever composed; and played at its most beautiful.

III. The Intermingling:

I imagine myself a movie cartoon.  My nostrils flare to breathe in all of the scent that I can.  I puff up my face as if a hot air balloon.  My body rises, is parallel to the terra firma that my feet no longer touch.  My ears enlarge, as those of an elephant; they flap like wings to take me to the sweet sound and smells.

Not my parents, not the crowd, notice as I soar up and above them.  Airborne, the scents are ever fresher, and the chords of the sitar sing out even more clearly.

My sixth sense allows me to smell-hear the crackling sizzle of car and truck flattened monkey, mongoose, and cobra dropping onto a grill and being filleted and fricasseed.  Magically, it seems, there is not one shred of gamey meat or melting fur drifting my way.  I realize – it is nothing supernatural.  The Chef’s culinary way, combined with Maestro Shankar’s unparallel intonations creates this never before known sixth sense.

Am I the only one who realizes this?  If so, why?

Have my suddenly acute senses, via imagination, helped me discover my life’s passion?

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.  They are completely different stories. My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2014 Raji Singh

Posted in archeo-apologist, Fiction House Publishing, humor, satire, Short stories, whimsy, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CHEF R.K.’S GOURMET SURPRISE

By Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Had your Sunday dinner yet? If not, please enjoy a rollicking piece from the Fiction House Publishing’s work,  The Seasons of My Giving Back.cover the seasons of my giving back

In the preceding chapters,  I discover that my ‘giving-back to the world’ summer job as youngster would be volunteering on a road kill clean up gang.  How can this help others?  Soon I would see, and it would change my life.

Ingredient I:  A Large Portion of Can Do

Once upon a time as a lad, I possessed a plastic picture finger ring.  From the first day I saw it in the bric-a-brac shop – MAGIC!  Twist it, just slightly.  A glittery red, white, blue image quickly changes, back and forth, from Old Glory to President Kennedy.  I listen as his courageous profile challenges me:

“Ask not what your country can do for you, Raji.  What can you do for it, hmm?”

I fury, fume, and wonder aloud.  “How can I help?  There must be a way.  There must!”  But, to a ten year old in Cincinnati, everything seemed right in my world.

When my parents overheard me and saw the ring they said, “Raji, you are too young for the late President’s Peace Corps.  Yet there is much you can do.”

For this task, the trips to their homeland, Lindia.

Though Lindia is but my adopted country, as an orphaned foundling, its kind people helped saved my life following the typhoon.

So this is where I began my many ‘can do’ summers, volunteering for something I’d not anticipated, certainly not relished – the road kill clean-up crew.  Many wonderful things came from it:

Just one of them – meeting lifelong friend, Chef R.K.

(His real name is Rhandi Khan.  But because of his unusual roadwork, initials R.K. seemed more appropriate.)

Ingredient II: A Touch of Magic

A type of painting similar to the here-now flagged-later Kennedy ring, murals the side of Chef R.K.’s twenty-foot long wagon that sits alongside the road in the Lindian Woods.  The painting shows Lindia’s Goddess Nardesha.

Blink and her outstretched palms lift from her creamy silk gown.  She raises upward, Heaven bound.

Other images painted on the wagon:  long lines of crunched road kill.  You can almost hear Nardesha whisper to them, “Come with me, my gentle creatures.  The bondage of your spirits to this earthly realm is complete.”

You blink; mongoose, cobra, lizard, squirrel, a fish – a FISH? – And dozens of other artist-depicted road kill puff out, are reborn, and then parade proudly skyward.

“You like picture?”  Chef R.K. asks, hardly looking away from his cooking.  His grill is the length of the wagon, and three-feet deep.  Covering its surface are sizzling meats he filleted from flattened critters.  They intermingle with steamy vegetables and pots of bitter-smelling broth.

R.K, in his 40’s is lean and tan, his face clean-shaven.  He is shirtless, and in short pants to keep cool in the warm Lindian sun.  His arms, hand and head move so fast you’d think his ancestors were octopus.

His magic dust he sprinkles constantly:  Ground herbs and spices in pouches hanging from his belt.  They marry the bill of fare then birth tantalizing sweet scents.

R.K. controls his outdoor kitchen as a concert pianist does piano keys.

Nothing burns.

He removes sumptuous morsels, large and small, round, square, long, that were once animal sacrifices to the speeding steel gods of the highways.  Now the critters are platefuls of inviting delicacies.  Mongoose-cobra, rat-wildcat, eternal enemies sauteed together as one.  He passes the dishes quickly to a line of other volunteer boys and girls who distribute them to the hundreds of bedraggled humanity.

“The impoverished, Raji” he says, putting his mouth near my ear so I may hear midst the clattering pots and pans.  “They too have the right to taste the wealth of Goddess Nardesha’s sumptuous array of bounty.  Her food minions such as I; we have the ability to provide it, lovingly, tastefully.  This is why I do what I do.  I serve but the freshest of kill.”

Because of all the chattering of the gathering, and all the happy eating sounds, I can hardly hear Chef R.K. say “hello-goodbye” to my parents.  He knew they were bringing me.  After hugging me, they leave, not wanting to be in the way.

I know I won’t see them for weeks, but it is hard to feel my sadness at their departure for too long because R.K. instantly puts me to work midst the frenzy.

Ingredient III:  Endless Humble Offerings

Welcome to the Lindian Woods (Image ©2014 Raji Singh

Welcome to the Lindian Woods
(Image ©2014 Raji Singh)

Everything R.K. serves comes from the Lindian Woods. He points to boxes of orange and yellow cocoa pods other volunteers gather.  “Crack open.  All these, Raji.  Separate bean from white.”  His voice necessarily is staccato, to keep pace with his swift actions.

I slam the pods together like castanets.  They open easily.  The insides are marshmallow soft, chocolaty pungent.  I barely have time to taste it.  R.K. ratchets it away and spreads it on the grill for flavoring.  He waves his arms from his chest, outward, to indicate to me the impoverished.

“Today, we serve them.  “So we eat last,” he orders.

When all the pods are open – “Good Raji,” he says tersely.  “Now.  Sprinkle this on the oxen’s grass.  He gives me a bucket of sour smelling powder.  “When that is done.  Shovel up their droppings.  Bring them to me.”

One of the other busy volunteers – a freckled, black haired girl my age, who for reasons I couldn’t yet understand at that time in my life – smiles hugely at me. She whispers, “The powder is R.K’s secret extract.  It makes the droppings smell sweet as clover when burned.  This is a must.  Because it is with it he heats the grill.”

She fidgets timidly in her jeans and t-shirt.  Her black eyes sparkle.  She smells sweet, like vanilla ice cream.  “My name is Reena, Raji.”

Dozens of tasks I accomplish that first day on the road kill crew – stoking the lavender aroma flames, washing pans, slicing pineapple, mashing mango – all for the purpose of feeding those in need.

By now, I am drained of energy.

Reena brings fresh coconut milk and we share a half-shell.  Inconspicuously, she wipes my face so R.K. doesn’t see we sneaked it.  Briefly, she holds my hand.  Her fingers are warm, lithe.  I breathe deeply.  This moment of joy, like I’ve never known before, this brief respite from President Kennedy’s “can do”, renews me.

“Yes!”  I shout inwardly.  I suddenly understand, feel the importance of President Kennedy’s words.  To me they mean, ‘only by helping others will you help yourself.’

Though we’ll eat nothing until all are fed, this thought would power me through the afternoon, then the rest of the summer, stay with me throughout my life.  And the succulent scents – they would give me strength of willpower as well as muscle.

Ingredient IV:  Fish, But Never Foul

Every so often, a volunteer runs up, shouting while carrying a dead fish.  “She’s delivered another one.”

R.K. takes it, sniffs, smiles, says,  “I can always count on her to deliver only fresh.”

‘Her?’  I look around.  ‘Her, who?’  I wonder. Finally, another curiosity gets the best of me.  I must ask, “How…a fish as road kill?  How could so many keep falling off trucks?”

R.K. laughs, but his mournful sound seems a dirge.  Midst his busyness, he takes time to explain.  “There is sea kill too, Raji.  The wood and fiberglass gods of the water – the yachts – they leave much torture in their wake.  As long as there is sea kill and road kill you will find me here summers and holy days.”

All of a sudden, I hear a familiar voice.  “Aarrk!  Catch Raji.”  I look into the blue sky.  Just in time to put my hands out, and grab what a parrot drops – a four-pound fish – bigger than her, her biggest delivery of the day. “Ahoy, Captain Polly,” I shout, so excited in my surprise to see her.

“You know our Captain Polly,” says Reena.  “Often she helps us.”

“We are the best of friends, in Cincinnati.  Geez, Reena.  It’s such a small world.”  Suddenly I have this desire to show Reena all my hiding spots and favorite places in my neighborhood back home.

My smile gets huge as Reena’s as she looks at me.  I’ll just bet she knows what I am thinking.

Reena stammers a little, and glances away briefly, deciding what she will say.  “Umm, Raji.  Uh, well…  Captain Polly certainly does get around.  Maybe you know her compatriot in the water?”

I look through the Woods, to the muddy river that parallels the road.  I see the top portion of a tattooed brown shell bobbing above the water.  “Turt!” Turt’s a land-sea creature called a Trumpeter. He’s the size of a giant Galapagos turtle. He ferried me on his shell from the ocean and through the Lindian Woods to safety after the typhoon.  He saved my life!

Turt winks at me and with his beak-snout, and scoops up unfortunate sea kill and tosses it skyward.

Swooping Captain Polly seizes it in her talons.  She grunts as she’s pulled slightly down by the weight.  She manages to stay airborne.

Oh, so that how she’s able to deliver such huge loads.  Her momentum plus her ‘can do’ willpower propels her.

Captain Polly drops the fish to R.K., then lights on my shoulder to rest.

I smile, and pet her glistening blue and golden plumage.

R.K. laughs.  “Well, Raji.  Appears it is old home week.  It ought to be an adventurous summer for you three musketeers.”

I look at Reena and say to myself, “the four of us.”

Ingredient V:  Replenishing the Spirit

It’s getting dark.  The poor, fed for another day.  Only the volunteers remain.  We eat, yet there is plentiful uncooked food remaining.

“Nothing wasted,” declares R.K.  “We’ll slow cook the remaining overnight on the cooling grill.  It will provide many breakfasts.”

With the help of Turt who moseys up from the river, we all load the grill onto the wagon.  Captain Polly squawks directions.  “Higher, lower.  Aarrk!  To the left, right.”

We yoke the oxen and harness them to the wagon.  The volunteers disperse.

Walk With Me to the Kissing Tree (Image ©2014 Raji Singh)

Walk With Me to the Kissing Tree
(Image ©2014 Raji Singh)

Reena remains.  She pulls me aside.  Her face shimmers in the starlight.  “My parents will be picking me up soon, Raji.  I…I…just wanted to say how glad I am we met.  I’ll be returning to help R.K. again next week.  I…I’m anxious to see you again.”

Headlights beaming onto Nardesha indicate an approaching car.  Reena kisses my cheek, and runs to the vehicle and gets in.

I feel…I don’t know what I feel.  Surprise?  Joy? Shock?

All these emotions roil wildly within me.

The Final Ingredient:  Contentment

The oxen, so used to R.K.’s route, pull the wagon by rote.  They’ll know to stop just before daylight, so R.K. can ready for another day’s cooking.  He and I recline on sleeping bags atop an elevated bunk on the wagon.  We are far above any wild animals that are fortunate to avoid becoming road kill.

Captain Polly is dozily reliving the day with Turt as she perches atop his shell.  He rides on a sturdy sidecar-like storage platform attached to the wagon.

R.K. points skyward.  “You will learn the constellations as summer passes, Raji.  It is so relaxing to search the heavens.  See there.  That is Orion.  Look, Andromeda.  She is a beautiful young princess.”

I study the formation, but I don’t see stars, only Reena.

I think R.K. reads my thoughts.

He says, “You like Reena, yes Raji?”

I nod.

“Good,” he says.  “She is a sweet girl.  She has been a little helper of mine, almost ever since she could walk.  She lives by my restaurant in Lindia City?  I am sure you’ll get a chance to see her a lot.”

R.K starts telling me about himself, his wife and grown children, his history with road kill wagons – he has one of them in each of Lindia’s 40 provinces, all with their cooks, volunteers.  I hear what he says, but my thoughts are on Reena.

Anxiously I ask, “Does Reena have a boyfr…

Before I can finish, Captain Polly, half squawks half sings,

“Reena, dear Reena.  Our dear Raji is smitten.”  Turt joins the serenade, with a trilling trumpeting.

The Final Garnishment

I went to the Lindian Woods one summer, decades later, to visit R.K.

Nowhere in sight.

I returned to Lindia City and stopped at his always-crowded restaurant.  The road kill wagon sat cobwebbed in the alley.  He took a few moments to visit.

“The steel gods of the highway Raji:  They’re ever bigger, soar ever faster.  Yet there is little road kill to collect.  Who would ever think?  It is because there are so few of Nardesha’s creatures remaining to pass from one side of the road to the other.  Who can say why so many are no longer here:  Chemicals, pesticides, changing temperatures, the flooding coasts?  SAD!  Which species will be next, Raji?  Yours and mine?”

If you knew R.K. as I do, you’d know he is undefeatable.

He pats my shoulder before returning to the grill.  “Raji, we road kill chefs have a new weapon.  It is something so simple.  It is called ‘NOTHING WASTED’.  We make sure there is no waste in any of our restaurants.  From just here in Lindia City, we feed hundreds of thousands poor each year.”

R.K. smiles broadly as he happily flips, fillets, and fricassees.           

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.  They are completely different stories. My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2015 Raji Singh

Posted in archeo-apologist, Children, Fiction House Publishing, humor, satire, Short stories, Uncategorized, whimsy, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

IMAGINE…DREAMING AS A KING, INSPIRING AS A GANDHI, UNITING AS A MANDELA (or simply – using laughter to lighten another’s load)

by Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we’ll never have lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we’ll never have lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

In celebration of Dr. King Day, we remember the heroes in our lives. This post was the foundation of the novel, The Seasons of My Giving Back.  It reminds us of the power of caring for one another.

* **

  I am James Thaddeus Fiction, the Fifth – a true Fiction.  Typhoon tears me from my parents.  I alone survive.  I become an orphan foundling, taken in by new loving parents Dr. Ben and Indira Singh.  Now I am Raji.  These are my found and foundling tales.

*     *     *

     At least twice a year – from kindergarten to high school – Lindia bound with my parents.  Away from comfortable home quarters at the Fiction House Medical Clinic in Cincinnati, we’d fly, to some impoverished hospital half-a-world away.

Side by side, they ‘cared for’; with me fetching blankets, ferrying bandages, filling water bottles.

“You are learning of one of life’s greatest and yet simplest gifts,” Mother would tell me after a long day.  “Giving!”

Fa, ever the believer that, “there are good lessons to learn in every situation, son,” would add, as if he were prescribing a long-known miracle drug.  “Every unselfish act, Raji, helps you avoid, septem peccata mortalia, those seven deadly sins that tempt all humans:  Lust, envy, gluttony, sloth, greed, envy, wrath.”

I enjoyed helping the sick by assisting my parents, but a nurse or doctor I’d never be.  Soon, they sensed this.

“Many are the ways for you to help people, Raji,” they agreed.  “You will find one if you use that vivid imagination of yours.  In the meantime, we have just the right thing for you while we are at Hospital.”

As any other ten-year-old – Adventure – that is what I yearned:  I’d just read Robinson Crusoe.

So, as we traveled, to where this mystery assignment would commence, I was allowing my imagination free play, as a way to wile away the early morning hours.  Never ending are the tales a tyke can create while riding alone in the back seat of his parent’s sedan.

I smiled broadly and said to myself.  “My parents will sense my desire.  They’ll let me ‘give’, by allowing me to work on a cobra-milking farm – where the venom is transformed into healing medicines.  I’ll become the Number One Squeezer in all Lindia.”

I hear a deep ‘Hah!  Hah!’

Did Fa hear my thoughts; or sense my thoughts?  No he and Mother are chit chattering about illnesses.

Poppy Sol, bouncing brightly along the treetops of the Lindian Woods, looks through my window.  He’s nearly out of breath from trying to keep up with our vehicle’s pace, but still he’s able to sputter.  ‘Hah, lad.  Kidding ye must be.  Never would your Fa, let alone your Ma allow you to become a Squeezer.’

My aspiration of adventurous altruism skids to a dead stop.

But one of Poppy Sol’s stray rays allows a flickering rebirth of hope.  ‘Holt on a minute now, me young bloke.  Just perhaps, I may have a gra-a-a-nd way to bring about a change of mind in them.  Let’s say we…’

I am so excited, but I cannot understand the rest, so, to the glass I put my ear, to, better hear.  Sol can be a mighty prankster – at least in my tyke imagining.  But I’m just sure this is no pranking.

Luny Mum’s beam enters, right through the window glass on the other side of the vehicle.  She taps my shoulder.  ‘Don’t you be believin’ a word that fabricatin’ ol Sol be tellin’, Raji.’

Loving Mum, she’s readying to bid adieu to the day, but still she takes time for me.

‘Raji, as your earth mum says, “use your imaginin’.”  Dream like a King, mi lad.  And Think.  Of how might you inspire?  How might you unite?’

Hmm!  I wonder.  How?  Then a flash of brilliance comes.  ‘I know what I’ll do Luny Mum.’  Poppy Sol glares through the window at me, anxiously awaiting my decision.  This time I know he won’t guffaw.  My great idea burns in my thoughts hot and bright as Sol.  I sniff.  I think I smell my brain afire.  Burning brain:  It smells rubbery.  I never took time to notice the acrid scent of smoldering synapses in the hospital, if ever there was an occasion to notice such a thing.  I look around:  No smoke billowing from my ears.  Look up:  My cowlick isn’t a red flame lick.

‘THUMP!  THUMP!  THUMP!’    

The sedan hit a pothole, causing a flat tire.  That’s what I smell.  Fa retreats to repair it.  Mother keeps him company.  As we sit, a line of chauffeured silver and gold Rolls Royce and Bentley pass us.  I blink.  No, I’m not imagining this.  I see it – with my own eyes.  I just hope not all those well-dressed passengers had my grand idea at the same time I did.  And now they’ll beat me to the punch; or in their case, the champagne.

Luny Mum interrupts my thoughts.  ‘Tell us your plan, young ‘un.’

‘I’ll become a tiger trainer.  We’ll take the big cats to the hospitals to entertain the sick.’

Whaat ho, lad?’  Queries Poppy Sol.

I look out; think I see laugh lines creasing Sol’s glow.

‘Hah!  Hah!  The patients are there to be cured.  Not get eaten.  Don’t be daft, lad.  They wouldn’t let your creatures past the front doors.  Hah!  Hah!’

     ‘Sol’s right, Raji.  You must think of other ways to help.’

But I thought it was such a good idea.

My parents get back in and we’re off.  Curious, I ask.  “What are all those fancy cars doing so far from Lindia City?  On such a desolate road?”

Mother turns, squinting to see me midst Sol’s glow of curiosity.  He also wants to find out why.  Mother’s soft face is aglow with compassion as she explains.  “Often these days, Raji, such royal caravans may be seen.  They too make pilgrimage, for a sole purpose – to give food to poor people.”

“HA!  HA!”  This time the laugh isn’t from Poppy Sol, but Fa.  He looks briefly from the road ahead to address Mother.  “You know well as I Indira, why they journey.”

“But at least they do, Ben.  That is enough for me.”

Fa begins carrying on a ‘prescription’ conversation with me, glancing at me in the rear view mirror almost as much as he does at the road.  “As Goddess Nardesha proclaims, Raji.  It is easier for an elephant to traverse safely through an active beehive than for gentry to enter the glorious hereafter.”

Mother laughs.  Luny Mum joins her.  I wish the two could meet.  I know they’d enjoy the others company.  Maybe one day they will.  Mother says, “Goddess Nardesha has an irascible sense of humor that your Fa likes, Raji.  And she is right.  To appease Nardesha:  That, I believe is why the royal caravans have come into existence…

“Watch the road, Ben.”

As their front seat chit chattering focuses on elephants, beehives, and gentry, Luny Mum’s gentle beam strokes my shoulder.  ‘Other ideas lad, other ideas.  You’ll not want to become one of Nardesha’s pachyderms.’

‘I know just the thing, Luny Mum.  To the sea, I could sail.  Train otters to catch fish for me.  Then I’ll bring the nets-full, to the poor.’

‘Never,’ glares Sol.  ‘Fish!  Where’s the ADVENTURE?  Besides, those you mayest ‘elp be land bound.  In your journey, the floppers would half-bake in me heat.  Would do more hurt than ‘elp.’

‘You’ll have to imagine another way to help the earthbound,’ Mum glows.

“Ben, watch the roa…”  ‘SCREECH!’  Fa swerves to avoid creating road kill of a mangy mongoose.

I’m pushed against the door.  The jolt frees the answer that must have been in my thoughts all along, but trapped.  ‘I know Poppy Sol.  I know Luny Mum.  I shall give back, by helping.  This solution will be unbeatable.’

The celestial glares and glows show that Sol and Mum are interested in this latest proposal.

In unison.  ‘Go on lad.  We await your decision.’

I am so excited I talk so fast I hardly stop for breaths.  ‘Poison tip dart artisan for tribesman to use in their blowguns.  To defend their forests from foreign tree rustlers who ravage the land for selfish profit motives.  Those, elephants, care not a whit about the people, animals, and plants they displace and destroy.’

Sol glistens.  ‘Blimey, lad.  Poison tips.  An excellent idea to rid the undesirables.’

Mum’s stern reaction.  ‘Nonsense you two.  Never ‘ave I heard anything so ridiculous.’

‘No, no, Mum.  Fa has medicines that deaden but do not kill.  The rustlers are unconscious, just long enough for the tribesman to inform authorities to come and jail them.’

I see I’ve convinced Sol, but Mum, she still needs work.

“Watch the road, Ben.”  ‘SCREECH!  THUMP!’  Fa slides into the back Rolls of the royal caravan.  To protect from injury Mother braces her hands against the dashboard, and Fa holds tight to the steering wheel.  I am tossed, over and into the front seat, landing, jostling safely onto Mother’s lap.

‘Youch!  That’s gotta hurt lad.’

“Not really, Sol,” I say aloud.

“What say, Raji?”  Mother asks, gently stroking my cheek.

“Oh, just imagining,” I say.

Luny Mum strokes my other cheek.  ‘It is time I take my leave, lad.  Glad everyone is safe.’  With no fanfare, Mum fades, disappearing into the blue.

We get out of the car just in time to see the train-like chain reaction of Rolls and Bentleys slowly bumping, one at a time, undamaged into the car preceding it.  Their natty sarong and dhoti-attired owners are too occupied to notice, or care.  They’re quite conspicuously appeasing Nardesha by directing their tuxedoed butlers to distribute, from porcelain tureens, sweet smelling delicacies, to the unending lines of raggedy passers-by.  Some of these poor stop to taste, but only for a moment.  Most continue the ongoing movement forward, as if some holy destination lays ahead, some nirvana worth passing up the caravan’s mere morsels.

As Mother, Fa, I, and, Poppy Sol follow, I notice dozens of youth, around my age.  They load unfortunate road kill onto carts, then they also move forward.

I squint upward.  Anxious in my curiosity I query Sol.  ‘From your position, you can see what is ahead.  Where is everyone going?  Is the reason they’re not stopping to eat the gentry’s food, does that have something to do with it?’

‘HA!  HA!’ is Sol’s reply.  ‘Raji, I can see quite clearly from here the job your folks have arranged for you.’

‘Tell me.  I am so anxious to know.  What it is?  Tiger tamer?  Cobra Squeeze?  Poison tipper?  Otter fisher?’

‘You’ll not like it, young bloke.’

‘You’re wrong Sol.  Any helpin’ kind of daring-do adventurin’, ‘ll do me fine.’

‘Well then, brace yourself, lad.  Your ‘elpin’ ‘ll be…

On the road kill gang.  Surely that’ll ‘elps ya from becomin’, a elephant.’

It’s a good thing our whole conversation took place in my imagination:  Because my mental shout of ultimate disappointment would have deafened all within a mile.

What possible good for humankind could the road kill gang provide, I ask myself?

And, just where, oh where – are all the poor, bound?

NEXT WEEK:  ONWARD, TO SAVOR CHEF R.K.’S GOURMET SURPRISE

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.  They are completely different stories. My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2014 Raji Singh

Posted in archeo-apologist, Children, Fiction House Publishing, humor, satire, Short stories, Uncategorized, whimsy, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

LIKE THE NEW YEAR, LIFE IS FULL OF BEGINNINGS

By Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we’ll never have lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Out of the Fiction House Archives: THE CARPER’S TALE   (From Tales of the Fiction House)

1826 

Daylight for just 15 minutes and already summer’s heat has dried dew from the Cincinnati pier.  A stoop-shouldered ancient mariner in an age-cracked slicker gamily trudges the seemingly un-ending stretch.  Alone.  Sunken jaw ratchets, way to below Adam’s apple, as he grumbles,

“How long I gonna live?”

These would be the first words my great-great grandfa, four-year-old James Thaddeus Fiction, would remember hearing for the rest of his life.  From beneath an abandoned fish cart, he mimics squeakily, “How long I gonna live?”

Mariner looks about, swigs Kentucky stump juice to relieve an aching molar.  “Ahh!”  He squints curiously down at his fresh-caught carp wrapped in yesterday’s Cincinnati Daily Opine.

The boy echoes, “How long I gonna live?”

The sing-song reminds Mariner of albatross he heard while sailing around the Cape of Good Hope.  He clunks down his bamboo fishing pole and peers under the cart.  “Why, you little carper.  You just parrot me?”  He reaches for and reels into the sunlight a soot-covered boy still trembling from the night’s chill.  Mariner’s knobby knees blink at him through dungaree holes.

Our Friend Calico (©2013 Image by Joseph Rintoul)

Our Friend Calico
(©2013 Image by Joseph Rintoul)

A calico butterfly of silver, ruby, and gold had lit on the youth’s head.  “I see one of my friends been keepin’ ya company.”  Mariner winks at it as it flits away, “Happy sailin’, Calico.”  He bends to the boy. “So what’s youren name?  What you been rollin’ round in? And what in the name of Poseidon’s ocean you doin’ schoolin’ here?”  Sniff.  “Eew!  Yer rank as my giant pal Turt after e’s swum the Atlantic.”

Boy wants to say, “How can you smell me over your owen’ self?” Manages only, “Umm…”

Mariner squints at his first catch-of-the-day and grumbles to it.  “Likes that one too, I do. Don’t think I’ll throw ‘im back, either.”

Boy’s face crinkles prune-wrinkly as he flinches; not so much from being level with something looking so like the fire-breathing monster of the nightmare he’s just awakened from – wild silver hair, blood eyes, warty cheeks and knife nose – but from  the sour smell reeking from pebbly-textured mouth.

Everything before this moment – who he is, where he’s from, how long he’s been here – is blank, dark as his previously alabaster torso.  He wears only short pants with pockets hastily stuffed with childhood trinkets, marbles, tin soldiers, a spinning top.

Escaping bed and building during the fire.  His mother ferreted away.  Wandering aimlessly.  Collapsing here from fatigue.  36 hours have since passed.  For him it easily could have been 36 days or 36 minutes.  The wrenching scars his memory – as happens with most foundlings.  Yet, after all that, he doesn’t fear this living monster.

     “I said, what you doin’… Oh never mind.  I start you carpin’ and you look like the type’ll never clam it.”  He engulfs the boy’s hand in his bony fingers – arthritic from a lifetime of casting nets and setting sails – elevates him, until toes are level with his whale-bone belt buckle; surveys him as he would a catch.

A passing paddle-wheeler on the mucky Ohio steam-whistles out a baritone ‘ahoy’ to old salt and young dawg.  “Let’s sail, Carper.  My stateroom – she’s up the way.  I’ll get ya cleaned and chowed.  Then we can find youren.  Unless yer a stray.  You stray from the orphanage, Carper?  If that be, well…all the more power.   Believe me,” he rasps, angrily clenching fishing pole, rap, rap, rapping its hard butt against the dock….”I know first-hand how’s ya don’t wants to be in a place like that!”

The boy’s thoughts are blank as they walk and he clutches Mariner’s hand:  No happy or sad as he looks up into a face equally expressionless as his, only a primitive gratitude for the presence, for the touch of another human.

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.  My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2013 Raji Singh

Posted in archeo-apologist, Children, Fiction House Publishing, humor, Short stories, Uncategorized, whimsy, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

YOU WILL SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT, RAJI — A LINDIAN CHRISTMAS LESSON

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

I hope you’ll enjoy this Christmas tale from Fiction House Publishing’s book, The Seasons of My Giving Back, by Mark Rogers.

   *     *     *

Chapter 6

YOU WILL SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT, RAJI – A LINDIAN CHRISTMAS LESSON

Just like the bespectacled Ralphie in the movie A Christmas Story, as a youngster I yearned for a Red Ryder BB gun.  Growing up in Cincinnati’s Lindian community – not big meat eaters or hunters – no one truly listened when I said I wanted this.

I dreamed of making grand safaris into the magical, mysterious Woods not far from home. Many long hours I’d spend in congratulating myself, ‘You will be giving back to your beloved Cincinnati by helping keep it safe.’

“With my Red Ryder…” quite often I excitedly boasted to a kindly, yet unsympathetic old Uncle or Auntie.  “…I could fortress in the wilds and protect the city from errant tigers.”

They’d reply, all the while laughing gently at their own impromptu humor.  “Pshaw!  Precious Raji.  50,000 Bengals fill the football stadium every other week.  You could never keep enough BB’s in stock.”

Then these wizened elders, the tiny bells on their sarongs jingling, the beads on their shirts beating as they jiggled from the laughter, would add something like, “Cobra and Mongoose from our homeland have yet to find a way to traverse the oceans.  So we need no protection from them.  What then remains, Dear Boy, for you to save us from – the furry little rabbits and squirrels?  They are not so vicious.”SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Then, just as Ralphie’s teacher, his mother, and even Santa replied to Ralphie, the Uncles and Aunties guffawed to me, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

But Ralphie’s fa, ‘the old man’, had a Red Ryder when he small.  He surprised Ralphie with the pump-style air rifle on Christmas.

An equally understanding – at least, seemingly, at the time, old Uncle came forward for me on my Christmas.  He always dressed nattily, in starched, pressed cotton pants, and a vest over a dhoti shirt white as his wavy hair.  Every glance, every eye flicker, and every movement of his lean body professed to the world his philosophy of life: ‘To stand on ceremony is the duty of all.’  (He must have come from generations of British Colonial influence.)

The BB gun –

He presented it to me as ceremoniously as if he had been a Royal Brigade officer back in Lindia, and he was pinning a medal of valor on my jacket.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I remember vividly to this day standing as if frozen briefly in time, a new recruit in front of Colonel Uncle.  The lofty emotions I felt – They are indelibly imprinted in my thoughts: That day…That day…  

The Red Ryder isn’t shiny and new like Ralphie’s.  The wood stock is worn and faded.  Nicks, gouges, and dents tattoo the tarnished barrel.  But I feel just as lucky as Ralphie.

I run my fingers over the cold steel and splintered wood.  All my childhood senses absorb the ardor of battle my Red Ryder must have encountered over the decades.  I smell the decaying rot of defeated cobras saturating the stock.  I can almost taste the dank of the fur of a charging tiger, “brought down by just a single BB”, I imagine someone bragging over ale at a bistro.

As if it were a seashell, I put my ear to the barrel hole.  Instead of ocean, I hear the calamitous trumpeting of a herd of elephants scared away from an isolate village’s garden, and back into the jungle.  I stroke the splintered teeth marks of a vicious mongoose that tore wildly into the weapon before being subdued.

After a ceremonious pat on the shoulder from crater-faced old Uncle and the even more ceremonious statement, “Now go forth young Gamesman” –

Into the Woods, I foray, to take my place among the tribe of humankind known as, Intrepid Hunter.

Welcome to the Lindian Woods Where I Was Found (Image ©2014 Raji Singh

Welcome to the Lindian Woods Where I Was Found
(Image ©2014 Raji Singh

I dribble a handful of copper BBs into the holding chamber.  I pump the cocking handle.  I take aim skyward, at Poppy Sol.  He glares, reprimanding me with a stinging ray.

So I move my point, toward a gluttonous cloud.  ‘I’ll pop that belly.’

I feel like Papa Hemingway readying to bag his first Rhino.  My hands sweat as I pull the trigger.

The loudest cannon fire BANG!

That is what I expect.

A…phht!  is what I get.

The BB arcs like a rainbow, for not more than 20 feet.  I see where it goes…toward the pond…toward the rubbery lily pad where the Frog Brothers, Frer and Brer, rrriibiit on about the daily news of the Woods.

Plink. 

The BB lands between them, breaking their conversation, and then it bounces off, plunking into the water.  Their sudden stares and immediate deep CRROOAAKS indicate they mock me.

‘There’s that Raji kid again.  The one who almost shot his eye out with the slingshot, last week,’ says Frer.

‘A nuisance he can sometimes be,’ replies Brer, sticking his tongue out at me and simultaneously nabbing a fly.

In unison, they croak loudly, ‘You’ll shoot your eyes out, kid!’

Again and again my shame heightens among the Woods inhabitants as the velocity of the BBs lessen with each shot.

(Seems the relic Red Ryder can’t hold the charge of hand pumped air for more than a few seconds.  But I wouldn’t discover that cold fact until later in life.)

Another shot strays into the water, splashing between a circle of ten napping otters, who hold hands as otters outta whilst sleeping, to keep from floating away from each other.  Seemingly, one at a time their eyes open and they berate me for disturbing their slumber.  ‘You’ll shoot your…’  I get a feeling they’re readying to turn together on their sides, like a wheel, and roll over the water to chase me from their Woods.

I quickly scamper to a meadow where birds are singing joyously.  I shoot the Red Ryder skyward.

POP!

The singing abruptly ends and the birds scatter.  Out of nowhere, the Woods Sky Patroller, Hawk, barrels in from out of nowhere, grabs the BB mid air, flies, just feet over my head, and flings it down hitting me on the head.

“Ouch.”

That is the fastest one of the projectiles flew that day, or would ever again fly from that dilapidated Red Ryder.

‘Never do that again,’ I know is Hawk’s plaintiff cry.  Hawk eyes me viciously and then missiles out of sight.

Sigh!  I guess I may now know just why we Lindians are no hunters.  Likely, we’d starve.

O.K., I will shoot at trees.  Not one barks at me as I take aim.  So I fire.  Relic Red Ryder suddenly takes on a life of its own – but unfortunately, it is in the form of a death gasp.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

The BB spits weakly from the barrel, barely going two feet before it drops.

I hear a screech.  In animal parlance, I believe it means – “Hey, whattaya think yer doin!”

I look down, just as the BB bounces off the head of a rabbit, then ricochets as the little fella jerks its head.  The BB flies five feet horizontally, and nearly takes out the eye of a squirrel.

The rabbit’s screech, the squirrel’s angry, loud ‘CHHIIRRP!’ tells me, “Run, Raji!!  Like your life depends on it.”

As angry as the critters sounded, I am sure my life really did.  (Harmless creatures, as Uncles and Aunties claimed; Hhrmph!)

The squirrel and rabbit give chase.  They’re on my heels, snapping, grr-ing, for hundreds of yards, until I am well clear of the Lindian Woods and onto a city street.

I near my Lindian neighborhood, out of breath, and I see my ceremonious old Uncle.  He is sitting cross-legged, on a small rug under a Lindian Fan Tree.  It is as if he has been waiting, patiently, for me. “And how went the hunt, young Raji?”

Wait, is that what some would call a ‘knowing smile’ that slightly crescents his face.

I return the gun as ceremoniously as it was given to me.  I summon enough breath to say, “Take it Uncle.  Never bring it back.  No matter how careful, it’s only a matter of time, before, I shoot my eye out.”SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Thank you, Uncle, for giving back to me, of course not only my eye before I might lose it, but also the simple importance of respecting our feathered flyer, slick swimmer, and furry four-leg friends.

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.  They are completely different stories.  My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2014 Mark Rogers

 

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THANKSGIVING AT THE HOME OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S NE’ER DO WELL BROTHER (a delicious holiday repast)

By Raji Singh

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we’ll never have lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

The Ancient Mariner, the scruffy sea salt who raised my great-great grandfather, told this curious holiday story.  It’s been handed down for almost 250 years.  Enjoy!

*     *     *

“To the GOOD life!”  Benjamin Franklin toasts.  A dozen of Franklin’s relatives, and a spiffed up Mariner, all “clunk” tankards.  They gather in the Philadelphia home of Franklin’s half-brother Franklin Ulster.  The men, all finely dressed in vests and jackets:  The women, in best subtle gray long dresses.    

     Ulster’s already woozy having sneaked many-a-nip to help cope with Benjamin’s incessant boasts.

They give thanks, sit, pass the food, and eat steamy sweet potato, tart cranberry compote – all the usual, with all the sweet scents of banquet, but turkey.  No one would dare offer up Ben Franklin’s noble favorite creature, which he backs as the new nation’s symbol.

BETTER than any ale you’ve had, eh Ulster.”

The host limply nods.  On that, he must agree.

Franklin proudly thumps his chest and sniffs.  “A woodsy scent this batch has.  I must say, this is the BEST stump juice yet that Mariner and I have had the privilege of brewing.  Fitting nectar for the heroes of the Colonies who lie at rest in their Elysian Fields.  A place you shall need not worry of ever residing, being battle shy midst our Revolution.”

Ulster starts to defend his weapons merchant status, but his wife kicks his ankle under the table.  Brother-in-law Benjamin just might be convinced to float a loan to keep the creditors from the door.  The home, though not a hovel, is faked; garish below the surface.  Plaster of paris Louis XIV statues stand in for the real marble.  Sturdy walnut furniture is replaced with rickety pine lookalikes.

“Concerning our stump juice, as with all things in life, as I always say, Ben Franklin says, ‘Good, Better, Best.  Never let it rest.  Until the good is better and the better best.’  That’s what I always say,” Benjamin Franklin says.

“Oh you do,” Franklin Ulster challenges.  Ulster had pre-dinner fumed for an hour as the honored guest told of his Paris diplomatic exploits that help borne a new nation.  Now he’s caught brother braggart in a lie.  He maliciously spits out, “We both know those words you quote were written on the sign at Goode and Betty Bests Bakery when we we urchins.”

Benjamin squints down on Ulster through his bifocals, and calmly honeys a bun.

“And just who do you think sold them that adage.  Moi!  Mr. Ulster.  And for a pretty penny.  That coin built up through the decades made me the wealthy man I am today, Sir.  As I always say, ‘A penny saved is a penny earned.’”

Franklin Ulster grits his teeth, but Benjamin Franklin is just beginning his pillorying.

“I am truly sorry your Shoppes and various ventures failed.  If only you’d listened to my sage brotherly advice instead of wagering at cockfights.  You could very well be in the financial position I reside.  So, there!  F.U.”

Some of the younger ladies at the table attempt to hide their eyes with their handkerchiefs.  Some matrons titter at the bawdy inference.  Elder statesman, Uncle Benjamin smiles pleasantly at each of them.

Ulster abruptly rises and his brass cock belt buckle upends his plate, sending his Thanksgiving fare down the front of his pants.  “Damn you, Ben.  My name is Franklin Ulster.  I demand the courtesy of being addressed as such in my own home.  Not being treated as some bastard kin.”

“My full apologies Franklin Ulster.  In amends, let me personally serve you the escargot I’ve made for our repast.”  Benjamin Franklin nods to Mariner and Mariner kindly returns the courtesy.  “The Mariner taught me his special recipe when we first met in Paris.  It was the talk of all the French society.  The grand chefs of the city paid my friend quite handsomely for his recipe.”  Franklin goes to a rickety sideboard, and gets a clean dinner plate.

Franklin Ulster impetuously grabs it.  “Snails we eat to appease the grand Doctor Franklin.”

Benjamin Franklin responds, “You’d not offer eagle to those who want it for our national symbol.”

Ulster spits out the crawly foreign fare after the first bite and throws the full plate against the wall.  It smashes into a dozen shards.  “I’m off to slaughter a turkey.”

Before he gets to the door, the normally talkative Mariner, who has been quite quiet throughout the afternoon, shouts, “I’ve ‘ad enough of yer performin’, mate.  Show yer respectins’ for the honored Doc Franklin, F.U.”  The wiry, but sturdy seaman quickly intercepts Ulster, and in seconds, from the long sea line he always has in his pocket, keel hauls him, and hangs him from a ceiling post beam.  There he dangles until a leisurely meal is complete.

~ ~ editor note:  (Keel haul – to tie line to each arm and hang from the bow of the ship.)

The accounts that various Franklins relate in memoirs and letters in the archives of Fiction House Publishing tend to back the overall story. The reader must take into consideration, the Mariner, known for his proclivity for tale telling, and this is his telling, after all – he may have embellished his part in the holiday affair.

You may read A Thousand And One more of Mariner’s tellings in Tales of the Fiction House.  ~ ~

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,

Raji

© Raji Singh 2012

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.  They are completely different stories.  My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2015 Raji Singh

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SUPER-EST SUPERMOON IN NEARLY 3/4THS OF A CENTURY

By Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Tonight and the next few days, look up to the sky!  You will see the biggest supermoon since 1948!

Here is a story about one from long ago and far away from Fiction House Publishing’s The Seasons of My Giving Back by Mark Rogers.

Enjoy.

  *     *     *

OF SUPERMOONS, SCUPPERNONGS AND SUMMER

The blissful harvest of all our autumn experiences yet-to-come: Quietly it approaches.

I hope your fall is bountiful as was my first Lindian road kill crew summer of giving back. The yield from that time, a blaring brass band of the warmest of memories, preserves in my heart.

Almost every night of the remainder of that summer after I return home to Cincinnati, the starry sky and twinkling fireflies light the Singh family pathway that leads from the Fiction House Medical Clinic and into the nearby Woods.

Mother, Fa, and I take strolls – just as millions of other families do – after supper and before dessert. For many the repast is watermelon, ice cream, or pie. For us, it is Scuppernong grapes. They grow wild near the pond.

This is a time of evening for us to converse about our day while we feast on the tantalizing fruit of the vine. Our senses bombard us at once. The sweet pulp of the Scuppernongs plays gently across our taste buds.

Mother smiles and says, “It’s like a piano concerto and your tongue is the keyboard.”

The tart of the grapes’ thick skin, as its scent wafts into our nostrils, mixing with the damp of the Woods, seems to calm us.

“Feel your chest,” Mother says, putting her delicate hands to her blouse. “It makes your heart beat soft and slow, as if you’ve entered deep slumber.”

cover the seasons of my giving backWho can hear the squish of the grape you bite into, against the cacophony of nature?

The Frog Brothers, Frer and Brer, from atop their bachelor lily pad, romance the lovely Toad Sisters on the shore with their ribbit, ribbit chorus.

The Ten Otters of the pond gently slap the water as they stare skyward.

Turt is trumpeting a Satchmo rift.

Crickets come out from hiding beneath leaves and join Turt’s serenade.

Though a breeze is slight, there are small waves on the pond. I cannot contain myself. I jump about excitedly.

“Hey, look everybody. The grasshoppers are surfing on the water.”

We look at the water world. The grasshoppers are actually ‘Hanging Ten’, (or however many a hopper has to hang).

Just then, all becomes eerily quiet as a broad shadow passes above us.

I squeeze Fa’s hand, probably remembering a similar occurrence from some little-boy nightmare.

Mother pulls me close. I feel her tremble and I grasp her. Is some vulture-like apparition circling above us?

Suddenly we hear a shout.

“Look up, you Singhs.”

Instinctively we do.

Wheh! Relief. It is Captain Polly flying overhead.

Mother calls, “Why did you scare us, Captain Polly?”

Captain Polly doesn’t answer. She squawks loud. “Aaarrk. See how close Luny Mum is, Singhs. She wants to say hello. In a big way.”

All the creatures of the Woods peer skyward. We follow their glance, leaving our own little world, and our own worldly concerns.

Ahh! Luny Mum’s way of giving back.

We enter her celestial wonder. There she floats, bigger than any of us ever remember seeing her. Her beams overwhelm the Woods, and turn the pond sheet white, like milk. We look at her through the clusters of grapes we hold, and it is as if she is gowned in the most beautiful shades of purple and red.

Neither Mother, Fa, nor I can speak. We can only enjoy the spectacle of light prisms our orb provides us.

I can almost hear Luny Mum speak to me as when I was an orphan foundling and had only she, Turt and Poppy Sol for my friends.

‘I am glad you brought your family to see me, Raji. From now on, I’ll help look after them, as I did you.’

Of course, science disputes the magic of the moment I am feeling.

We are seeing a Supermoon, the first of three this year. Technically, my Luny Mum is a “perigee moon’. Mum is massive, and extra bright, because she is about 50,000 kilometers closer than her regular full moon self, an “apogee”.

All science aside, to me Luny Mum and Poppy Sol are living celestial entities, just two of the few friends any orphan foundling creates in his or her imagination so we are not alone in a cold world.

My perigee Mum would visits many times that year.

She watches with Mother and Fa, as I discover the joys of spitting Scuppernong seeds.

‘He’ll shoot my eye out if he achieves any more distance or accuracy,’ Luny Mum laughs. She eyes Mother squeezing Scuppernong juice into a pitcher of lemonade. ‘Mmm! I can just taste it, Raji.’

Mother pours the mix into glasses, which we raise.

“Here’s to Luny Mum,” we toast.

“May everyone appreciate her brightness tonight!” Fa adds.

I remember seeing on TV, that people all over the world can see our Super Mum – from outside the Taj Mahal, atop Eiffel Tower, alongside the Pyramids at Giza, beside the Great Wall of China – all they have to do is look up.

*   *   *

Calico, A Foundling's Gentlest Friend (©2013 Image by Joseph Rintoul)

Calico, A Foundling’s Gentlest Friend
(©2013 Image by Joseph Rintoul)

One night while we were ‘Scuppernoning’, my butterfly friend Calico flitted by to visit us.

She seemed to hover in the sky for hours. Luny Mum’s brightness shone through the multi-colors of her wings. The Woods and pond became an effervescent rainbow glow.

The eyes of all the Woodland creatures turned from red to orange to blue to green and back, over and again. Anyone lucky enough to be moseying the Woods at that time would have been treated to a light display more dazzling than any Fourth of July fireworks show.

Thank you Luny Mum, for a summer the Singhs and billions of others will never forget.

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.  They are completely different stories.  My novel is available at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.)

©2015 Mark Rogers

Posted in archeo-apologist, Children, Children's stories, humor, satire, Short stories, Uncategorized, whimsy, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE ROUGE ROBED LADY OF THE SKY

by Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

No matter if your candidates won or lost –keep looking up.  There’s extra good reason this week.

On November 13 and 14, 2016, there will be the super-est supermoon in almost 3/4ths of a century. Perigee Moons, Beaver Moons, Blue Moons. So many names for moons! I call her the Rouge Robed Lady of the Sky, My Luny Mum.

Here is a reminder of her glories from 2015.  She promises even more this time!

*     *     *

It is said that a recent show has become the most watched event in the history of humankind. The audience count is in the billions; viewers on almost every continent. The prime-time spectacular happens only once every 15 to 20 years or so. No on-off buttons to push, or screen to peer at. Whether you’re at the Giza Pyramids, Eiffel Tower, Great Wall, or on the Orient Express. Just look up at the night sky.

You’ll see my dear friend Luny Mum in total eclipse in her Supermoon phase. If you didn’t watch the most recent blockbuster, check out these EarthSky pictures.

Luny Mum was my imaginary childhood chum. Her crescent smiles comforted me through my bedroom window whenever I felt sad before going to sleep. I could tell her my troubles and shed myself of my ‘glums’. I could share childhood joys with Mum and feel the warmth of her glow within me.

She is still here for me, most every night, and often, during the day. Just take time to search the blue cloudless or nearly cloudless daytime skies and you may see her conversing with her celestial mate, Poppy Sol.

Of course the rouge robe that Luny Mum dons is her trademark. Watch. It is like invisible sky mice beginning nibbling the make believe cheese of Mum’s surface.

Luny Mun Entering Her Eclipsical Glory (photo by Amy Rintoul)

Luny Mun Entering Her Eclipsical Glory (photo by Amy Rintoul)

Her eclipse commences. Ever so slowly darkness begins shrouding our Mum. After an hour or so she seems to completely disappear for a moment. Then it happens. The night sky, no matter how many stars are out, seems to be overtaken by her suddenly fiery red orb.

Just watch in awe, relaxing in contentment and amazement at the sky’s grandness.

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.  They are completely different stories.  My novel is available at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.)

©2015, 2016 Mark Rogers

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