How Lancer, Inc. Mystery Novels was born…Part One

People often ask how Lancer, Inc. came about. I think it’s time to answer that question.

Once in a while a feeling will engulf you. It will crawl up your spine like a thousand spiders, raising gooseflesh in it’s wake. It doesn’t happen often but when it does…it leaves quite an impression.

Let me start from the beginning and tell you about that day. It was a good day. Vengeance was being released and I needed to go to Staples for supplies to make postcards to advertise book signings and a book release party that was in the works. That done, we stopped at PETCO to pick up a few things for our cats.

It was getting toward dinnertime and Mike suggested we stop at Pizza Hut. I’m always ready for a good pizza so I quickly agreed. We went inside, ordered drinks and the new Bacon/Cheese stuffed crust pizza. We talked about ordinary things while we waited. There was no drama, no angst…just conversation…much of it centering around Vengeance.

On the way out the door I glanced up at a small wooden rack that hung on the wall to my right. On it was a tiny hooded sweatshirt that would fit a baby. I don’t even recall the color. What I do recall is a sadness that crept over me. I didn’t ‘think’ about our daughter at that moment…I actually felt her. Tears streamed down my face as I turned away from that tiny hooded sweatshirt. Mike knew something was up and just put his arm around my shoulder. I looked at him and said: “It isn’t fair. We would have been the best parents in the world. It shouldn’t have been like it was.”

I didn’t ask and he didn’t tell me if he even knew what I was talking about. He just comforted me. That little article of clothing reminded me of a plane ride in a little Piper Cub that took Michelle and I down to Fort Dix, to the hospital to see Mike when he arrived back in the states…Missi was three months old. I was nervous and anxious all at the same time because I had reservations about Mike’s well being.

I felt his personality change over the two months prior to him being injured in a fire fight and sent home from Vietnam. His letters were filled with pain and anger…and something else…hatred and loss. I made that trip to help me make the most important decision of my life…would I stay or would I go? I admit that I was a little bit scared of the person Mike had become…but I couldn’t turn my back on him. The only comparison, between the man who went to Vietnam and the one who returned, that you might relate to, is drug or alcohol abuse and how it can change a person.

If that had been the case, it would have been easier to deal with. PTSD is a destructive monster, hiding in plain sight. It steals happiness and replaces it with suspicion and anger. It turns hope into hopelessness. It alters perception. It destroys lives when left untreated. It is created by death, destruction and mind altering situations that happen over and over and over.

A nineteen year old, newly married, soon to be father with a quick wit, easy laugh and zest for life-went to Vietnam. A kind and loving young man with plans for the future. He was looking forward to the birth of his first child and to enjoying life to the fullest. He had a good attitude. He just wanted to help win the Vietnam war and come home.

In the space of six months he was propelled headlong into a tree by a grenade, while on patrol as a LRRP scout. He was knocked out and when he came to he couldn’t see. He couldn’t feel his leg or find it with his hands. At that moment he wanted to die rather than come home blind and crippled. The medic found him, washed blood from a head wound out of his eyes and straightened out the leg that was pinned beneath his body. Men beside him, in front of him and behind him died in battle while he survived. Over the months he made friends and watched many of them die, yet he lived.

He wrote me a letter after every mission. Letters filled with plans for our future and plans for us to meet in Hawaii when he got two weeks leave mid way through his tour of duty. He was excited about the plans he and Chief made to become private investigators when their time in Nam was over. Chief was the scout team leader. He and Mike had become best friends in a short period of time.

In May, Michelle was born and his letters were all about his little family and how much he missed us and how he couldn’t wait to get home to start our lives together. He told me that Chief had just returned from R&R in Hawaii where he married his high school sweetheart. He was on top of the world and Mike was right up there with him. Their friendship made a bad situation tolerable, they were like brothers-what one felt-the other felt. One month later, in June of 1969, his letters changed.

Chiefs first mission out after his return was routine at first. The team wanted to scout a few villages to see what was going on then return to base. Sometimes after R&R the soldiers head isn’t in the game, the team was in protection mode, they wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible. As it turned out the mission took on a life of its own when Viet Cong  were spotted.  Chief and the medic headed down the mountain to cut off the VC’s retreat. Mike radioed  the Four Deuce Hill for cover fire, to move the VC in the right direction. When the big guns fired the team knew something was wrong, it was too close. Chief died when a short round-from friendly fire-put a hole, the size of a man’s fist, in his chest.

Mike called in an evac helicopter then ran down the hill to see if his brothers were okay. When he found Chief, something inside of him changed forever. His letters reflected the change. His excitement turned to despondence. Revenge became his only solace. Two months later he was wounded for the second time and his tour in Vietnam was over. Within days he was back in the states where he was met with scorn and ignorance-spit on and called names. There were no ticker tape parades to welcome him, and thousands of others, home. Weeks later he was discharged from the hospital and put back on the streets of a country that treated him like a leper for answering the call of duty.   (To be continued)

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Once Upon a Time in Pennsylvania

Mike and I are in the car on our way to Clarion to do some shopping. I was in a particularly chipper…I do like that word…mood. I had a release date for my fourth Lancer, Inc. novel, Vengeance…happy, happy, happy. Mike is driving and I am thinking about book signings and marketing. Driving in rural Pennsylvania requires having eyes, not only in the back of your head, but on both sides as well. Around these parts you are almost always surrounded by woods or fields and you never know what will dart into your path. Almost at the same time Mike and I saw a young groundhog run into the middle of the road. He seemed confused, and picked up speed-when he either saw, heard, or perhaps felt the presence of the car. Mike put on the brakes, trying to avoid hitting the little guy. I’m trying to will it off of the road and finally it disappeared into the weeds on my side of the road. We laughed and proceeded on our journey.

The temperature was over 90 degrees and I thought about how that hot asphalt must feel on the pads of that young animals feet. As sometimes happens, from that simple thought, it was game on for the next fifteen or twenty minutes. A myriad of questions and images flitted through my brain. How do animals handle the same situations we do? On a 90 degree day stepping on an asphalt road would burn our bare feet. We would either turn back or run, if we really needed to cross. Is that why the groundhog ran? Not because he was afraid of the car, but because his feet hurt?

I remember once, when I was about eleven years old, we moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We lived in a cabin in the Sandia Mountains until our house was ready to move into. I loved it in those mountains and I explored everything. One afternoon I was climbing up the side of a mountain, reaching up to grab something to pull myself along. What I grabbed was a small scrub brush and it just popped out of the ground and sent me falling backwards. I rolled and tumbled and finally came to rest in the middle of a patch of cactus, something I will never forget-trust me, you don’t want this particular memory. It took, what seemed like hours for me to get back home. I had to walk very gingerly and every step was pure hell. When I got home I told my mother what happened and that I needed help getting the thorns out of my butt and the backs of my legs. She finally did get them all out and I give her a lot of credit-she only laughed once or twice. When she told me I looked like a pin cushion, it seemed to make her laugh harder.

What would a young coyote or wolf cub do in the same situation? Especially if the thorns were in the pads of their feet? How would they walk back to their den? Would their mother pull them out with her teeth-or let nature take it’s course? Animals are so very intelligent, albeit in different ways than we humans-I think they would have an ingenious way to handle that situation. Or, they would be smarter than I was and not get themselves into the situation in the first place.

I have no idea why my mind goes into a tangent of sorts, flitting from one subject to another, at the drop of a hat. But I do know that it comes in handy once in a while-during the writing process. Of course, it can be a bit of a distraction as well.

I know animals show love and pride. Before we started rescuing cats we made friends with a raccoon that took up residence in a barn across the street. They do love marshmallows and it was so much fun watching her eat them. The next spring she came to visit. Behind her were five or six baby raccoons…they were adorable. She paraded them right up to the porch so we could see them. We knew what she wanted and we gladly threw half a bag of marshmallows onto the ground. The young ones also loved the sweet treat. It soon became a routine every night at dusk.

I am always saddened by the number of people who have no respect for lesser animals. Apparently they have forgotten that we are also animals…we just have bigger brains. Sometimes that fact doesn’t resonate through the cruelty some routinely show animals. I can’t imagine not interacting with the raccoons, groundhogs, squirrels and many other species that we share the forest with. We even had a bear cub, that couldn’t have weighed more than twenty pounds, in the pine tree near our front porch for two days. I hand fed him peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and he loved a nice bowl of milk every morning. I was very aware of his claws and teeth and how dangerous he could be…regardless of his size.  I’m sure he was thinking the same thing about me.

You can learn so much-just by paying attention. As authors, paying attention should be second nature.

By andreazug

Planting a seed and waiting for it to grow

That metaphor really describes my feelings at this point in time. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have been asked: “How do you write? Where do the ideas come from? Or, how do you come up with that stuff?”

All good questions. But answering them isn’t as simple as others seem to think it should be. So, in order to show-rather than tell the process-let’s jump in the Way Back Machine. I’m setting the dial for the mid 1980’s. Hold onto your hats folks, we’re off.

We’ve landed in the era of big hair. If you look back the road a bit you will see what’s left of the disco era. You just gotta love the Gibbs belting out Staying Alive, and I can see John Travolta strutting his stuff on the dance floor in Saturday Night Fever. Whoa baby!

That sound you hear now is the rumble of a dozen Harley Davidson motorcycles. The bikers are slowing down and looking for a nice place to eat. The strange thing you see, once in a while, are people on the streets backing away or walking quickly in the opposite direction. Why? Because they equate all people who love to ride motorcycles, with gangs. If you look toward the front you will see a 1976 Harley Davidson shovelhead, my husband and I are on that bike. Us and our friends are about as far from being a gang as you can get.

Now…to the Way Back Machine for a trip to 2008. I’m sitting at my desk working on my second book in the Lancer, Inc. Mystery Novel series. I call it, South of the Border, because it takes place in Cancun, Mexico. Not in the bright lights of the tourist district, but the seedy, underdeveloped areas where the ‘real people’ live. Places where no tourist would dare set foot. Instead, they too back away quickly and run in the opposite direction.

As the story unfolds in the recesses of my brain, I’m looking for heroes-someone to ride in on their white horses and save the day. Instead of white horses, my heroes ride in on motorcycles. These men are based on my closest friends-guys who would lay down their lives to help those who need it. Many are also veterans, a breed of their own.

It isn’t easy to explain ‘where these ideas come from’ in a quick conversation at a book signing. It’s a process that is wildly amazing. It probably amazes me, and fellow authors, as much as it does the person asking the question.

It’s like taking a ride on the open road, with the wind in your face and friends at your side. You never know where the road will lead. It really is all about the journey, rather than the destination.

By andreazug

Enter the world of Jack Wendell:

This seems to be my month for reading Epic Vampire Novels. I love it when an author gives me a new twist on an old favorite. That is precisely what Daven Anderson does in his novel, Vampire Syndrome.

After reading Dark Road to Paradise a few weeks ago, I didn’t think I could be surprised again. I was truly wrong in my assumption. Daven adds a twist, wrapped up nicely in the hero of his tale, Jack Wendell. Adding to the suspense is the fact that Jack has Down Syndrome.

I wasn’t sure just how this story would go as I tried to envision a special needs vampire, and what that fact might add to-or detract from-the Vampire persona. Let me just say that there was no detract from, in this story…it was all add to.
You will find non-stop action in this read. Edge of your seat-what’s gonna happen next syndrome is waiting for you with every turn of the page.

I think anyone who reads this work will appreciate the depth that Daven Anderson reaches, as he introduces the Human Vampires and the Pures. It is pure genius, no pun intended. I highly recommend Vampire Syndrome to anyone who loves the genre. You will not be disappointed.

The Writing Process.

The writing process. Three simple words that can make a writer, a person who is capable of pouring a hundred thousand or more words into a story, wilt like a rose in the Sahara Desert. Who loves readers more than a writer? No one, except maybe God. But in the complex and ever changing mind of a reader, that is the number one question they ask. How do you write a story? Where does that stuff come from?

I would venture to say that the ways individual authors create a story line and characters are as numerous as fish in the ocean. Oh look, mommy, it’s a tuna fish. No, honey-that’s an ‘outline’. And look over there-see that pretty ‘epiphany’? And if you look way, way out you can see the ‘life event’.

When Victoria Adams asked me to participate in this blog hop, I was at once intrigued. Intrigue was soon followed by ‘what have I gotten myself into’, which morphed into ‘didn’t grandma always say think-think before you speak-especially the word yes’? Victoria is an amazing person. She always seems to have the answers I need, when I need them. On the off chance that she doesn’t have the answer on the tip of her tongue, she will point me in the right direction to find it. Her blogs are awesome by any standards. Be sure to stop by and see for yourself at: http://victoriasreadingalcove.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/second-time-around.

I hate the tuna fish…I mean the outline. I cannot do it. Some can see the beginning, middle and end. From there they fill in the blanks. Not me…for whatever reason. The story unfolds in my brain and falls onto the paper as fast as my fingers can fly over the keys. I don’t have any idea what road the tale will take until my brain dictates it. So far it has worked well for me.

How does one tell a compelling story? Speaking for myself and my first novel, Lancer, Inc., you must have a compelling subject. What is compelling to one author may be commonplace to another. My husband’s problems with PTSD inspired me to create Lancer, Inc. using important parts of his childhood as well as traumatic events during his time in Vietnam. PTSD is a difficult and often debilitating disorder that affects every aspect of the person’s life. It only gets worse without treatment. When he finally sought therapy, I was able to get him involved in the story, to share the trauma that had been locked away for thirty-five years. It was therapy, not only for him, but for me as well. You will find as much fact as fiction in the pages of the series.

Let me introduce you to some very intriguing individuals. First, Clay Gilbert would like to tell you a little bit about himself: I’m a novelist, not a short story writer, for a reason. I was born in 1971–although, as Douglas Adams rightly observed, time is relative. I’ve been writing since I was four–if a short sci-fi story about a robot, with stick- figure illustrations–counts, and I published my first short story, called “The Computer Conspiracy”, in Scholastic magazine when I was in middle school. Wrote my first novel length manuscript (you don’t want to see it ) that same year, and began my first novel of any worth my senior year of high school, and finished it my freshman year of college. I spent a lot of time in school, eventually earning a Master’s degree in English Lit and an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing (from Auburn University and U. of South Carolina, respectively). In those years, I gathered up a few more publication credits–all for my poetry–in various magazines and an anthology from Citadel Press called “The Pagan’s Muse.” I’ve also taught English composition and grammar at the college level since 2003. My goal, ultimately, though, was to become a published novelist. In February, I self published my sci-fi novel ‘Eternity’ through Amazon/CreateSpace and later that  month, submitted my most recent novel, ‘Annah’, to Tc McKinney and had it accepted for publication-making that dream come true. I’m now the Editor in Chief here at PDMI, and happy to be among this wonderful community of people who love words, stories and books and want to write the books that they–and others–will delight in reading.

Website:http://childrenofevohe.wordpress.com/; http://nightkindcycle.wordpress.com/ Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/claygilbert.author

Next in line we have Daven Anderson: Daven grew up reading Dr. Seuss, the Encyclopaedia Britannica and dinosaur books, never suspecting that one day all of those books would play crucial parts as inspiration for the Vampire Syndrome saga. The simple, yet infallible, wisdom of Theodore Geisel serving as the model for protagonist, Jack Wendell. Encyclopaedia research inspired Daven to craft unparalleled levels of back story detail, reconciling science and folklore in ways no “vampire novel” has ever done before. And if that large meteor hadn’t impacted the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago, reptiles could easily have evolved into a humanoid from that would bear resemblance to the alien Pure Vampires of Daven’s saga.

Daven accepted the challenge to craft a saga featuring a brave, wise, dignified hero with special needs, which would reach an audience that would never dream of reading a novel like “Forrest Gump.” Like “Gump”, a story where a hero with special needs proves that quick wit and cunning do not equal wisdom. Unlike “Gump”, a story where danger stalks the hero from beginning to end, from Jack’s well-meaning but devious human Vampire counterparts, to the carnivorous alien Pure Vampires that strike fear into the hearts of all human Vampires. Jack struggles to survive and find acceptance in a world where the “human” and the “monster” are one and the same.

http://vampiresyndrome.me. Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorDavenAnderson    blog: http://www.vampiresyndrome.wordpress.com  Follow Daven on Twitter @DavenAnderson

And rounding out this group we have: Authors Jack Gannon and Cyndi Williams-Barnier who are self proclaimed “Killers on the Keyboard”, a fit slogan for their style of writing-Psychological/Suspense/Thrillers. Both live in Beaufort, South Carolina-attended high school together, the University of South Carolina-Beaufort, and Winthrop University, and as teenagers talked endlessly about writing the very books they compose today. However, after losing touch with each other for thirty-two years, the two met again by happenstance, and picked up on the stories as if it were yesterday. Now retired from newspaper media (Jack) and government emergency management (Cyndi) both decided to form an LLC business, J&C Wordsmiths, and have steadily worked on novels thereafter.

As avid readers from an early age, it’s hard to believe that Cyndi  read her first full-length book at the age of ten (written by Sigmund Freud of all people!) Jack’s first full-length novel read was The Cain Mutiny, and his favorite suspense book of all time is “Gerald’s Game” by Stephen King–a near perfect psychological/suspense/thriller. For thirty-plus years the two braved their individual traumas, stressful yet educational careers, and for escapism-lost themselves in the fantasy worlds of Sci-Fi (they love ALL Star Trek episodes, and idolize William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy), not to forget futuristic or dark themed works of art, many including Jeffrey Deaver, Dean Koontz and Thomas Harris; and of course Edgar Allen Poe–the epitome of their genre.

Tenacity is the “rule” of their office, always pushing forward–in less than three years they were contracted by PDMI Publishing (a dream come true in an extremely short amount of time). With an office staff of seven cats and one dog, all of which are spoiled beyond belief, the slogan of each day is to “follow the yellow brick road,” as its led them to the creation of “Murder in Twos and Threes,” “Trail of the Talon,” and soon “The Latrodectus Murders,” “Trail of the Hunter,” and many more. The two have delved into other genres such as historical, children’s books, short stories, and others to be revealed later–and have already written one screenplay. It seems they have no end to the stories yet to be shared, fictional and non-fictional.

Both are well-versed in the art of culinary adventures, gardening escapades, animal rescue, volunteering, and the two decided to add one more thing to their crazy itinerary: create “The Annual ‘Novel ‘ Wine Tasting, Arts, and Literary Festival” in Ridgeland, South Carolina (as if they didn’t have enough to do). Both have a love of history, technology, the supernatural, life and legends of the Lowcountry, and their rigid spirituality (such a stark contradiction to their writing genre!). Should the two get sidetracked or lost in their writings, they’ve created another slogan: W-W-S-K-D (What-Would-Stephen-King-Do?)

Looking to connect? Take a peek at their sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annualnovelwinetastingandliteraryfestival  (nothing goes together better than books and wine!) Check out their author page at: http://www.facebook.com/2sAnd3s. Jack’s personal Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jackgannonauthor  and Cyndi’s Facebook page: https://cyndiwilliamsbarnier. Also take a look at their website at: http://www.jandcwordsmiths.com. Check out their blogs at: http://jandcwordsmiths.wordpress.com.

Ode to the Night-Kind: Dark Road to Paradise

I have to tell you right from the get go that I love vampires, werewolves and the like. Not so taken with zombies, however. I just finished reading a novel by Clay Gilbert, Dark Road to Paradise. Previously I read Anne Rice, Dean Koontz and Steven King to get my fix for all things that make me shiver with delight-despite the fear.

This book is refreshingly different in many respects. The author’s main character takes you into his arms and waltzes you through a love affair that alters your senses and heightens your expectations. You find yourself standing with him against those of his kind who are vicious and depraved. There is virtually something for everyone between the pages.

Clay Gilbert does not recreate vampires, he transforms them. No they do not sparkle, not do they glow. They come to life in a way that I, at least, have never experienced…despite my extensive reading of the genre`.

Jealousy, spite, revenge…are present in this read. Love, loss, hate, retribution and envy are also expertly represented. This novel is a cornucopia of senses.

Do yourself a favor and pick up this book. You can find it on Amazon or order it from PDMI Publishing LLC. I am willing to bet that you will find yourself anxiously awaiting the sequel.

Follow this link for more information:

 

Enigma

As I sit here in my jammies, drinking a nice cup of tea…I see white cat hair all over my jammie top. As I reach for the sticky, roller thingy I use to remove the unwanted hair…I am unnerved. I look at my jammie bottoms…seemingly for the first time. I see yellow crescent moons. Sitting atop these moons are white dogs with black cats  on their shoulders…reaching up. Red, yellow and white stars are all over the place as well, accompanied by the words-reach for the stars-in red.

I know my daughter, Michelle, gave me these jammies a couple of years ago…for my birthday. Why am I just now noticing how cute they are? Have I been so focused on ‘more important’ things that I no longer notice the simple things? On the bright side…no one can accuse me of being self absorbed.

I am acutely aware that I am a bit of an enigma. Perhaps that is why I write mysteries-for the most part. I’m also sure that any psychiatrist worth his salt could diagnose me, and ‘enigma’ would, most likely, be the least offensive word he/she would use to describe my psyche. The phrases-two french fries shy of a happy meal, half a bubble off center and not playing with a full deck…come to mind.

What is this trying to tell me? That I really am too focused on big things…like having Vengeance published? That I am walking through life with blinders on? Am I missing part of what makes life worth living…simple, everyday, things?

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. We may not immediately know what the reason is, but at some point-it will become clear. I have always found pleasure in a baby’s smile or the smell of their skin, watching the birds outside the sliding glass door, my husbands laughter, good friends, a phone call from my kids. I don’t want any of that to change.

From this moment forward I will take time to live in the here and now instead of worrying about ‘what’s down the road’. I will take pleasure in the simple things in life…even if it is just my cute, comfy jammies.

 

 

Ode to the Ellipsis

This is where I admit that I am not a good passenger. I get so very bored while traveling long distances. I love the idea of going and arriving. It’s the time in between these two things that I don’t like. If I forget to take a book to read, or can’t keep Mike engaged in conversation…it can get ugly.

Soooo. We are on the road, heading to Columbia, PA., where I have some business to take care of. My mind begins to wander, searching for something interesting to think about. What do I settle on, you ask. Ellipsis.

The reason ellipsis came to mind is the fact that I love them. And, apparently, I misuse them all of the time. Think about the ellipsis, just three little dots…

Now Miriam Webster defines the ellipsis thus: the omission of a word or words necessary for complete grammatical construction but understood in the context. Writing or printing a mark… or formerly *** indicating an intentional omission of words or letters or an abrupt change of thought, lapse of time, incomplete statement, etc.

I use the ellipsis to show a lapse in conversation…a hesitation, if you will. I find the ellipsis much more appealing than the comma. When I’m reading or writing, I don’t hesitate at a comma, I just move forward. When stating something emotional or even frightening, the ellipsis is the ticket. One that I can no longer use…at will.

Take this sentence: He felt pee trickle into his bvd’s…he was screwed. Did you hesitate before saying the last part of that sentence? Did it make you feel the seriousness of the moment? How about this one: “Sir…Mr. President.” Does the ellipsis say anything to you about this sentence? Does it say the person speaking was in a hurry? Or does it give you the impression that he was hesitant…troubled?

This is just my way of saying goodbye to a dear friend the … farewell. I am grateful that my editor showed me the error of my ways. Now it’s up to me to end the addiction. I will still be able to use the occasional … in my work, so I think I will survive.

But…just in case. Is there therapy out there somewhere for punctuation addiction?

History and Mystery

A picture is worth 1000 words. This safe has been through a lot. Tell its story. Image credit: “safe” – © 2007 Paul Keller – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic

Where has this particular piece of history been? What has it been through?  I can see it being loaded onto the Titanic as she prepared to make her maiden voyage. Was it made of iron or of steel? Regardless it would have taken several well muscled men to move it. Perhaps it lay on a wooden bed and was lifted and carried much as royalty was back in the day. Three men on either side, gripping wooden handles, moving slowly toward a room where valuables would be kept for the passengers.

Imagine this safe filled with gold and jewels. It’s countenance polished and gleaming as the doors are opened to add or remove something stored within. Men dressed in the fashion of the day, their ladies wearing fine gowns, stopping by to choose jewelry for the evening festivities.

It would stand as a sentinel on the rolling seas, on a ship that some said-even God couldn’t sink.

Was it found beneath the ocean? What great wealth might have been recovered and returned to the families of those who perished on board the fated ship?  Was this safe there, safeguarding the valuables of the passengers, bearing witness to the devastation and fear?

Or was this particular safe stored in a bank in Dodge City or Tombstone? Back in the old west where stagecoaches traveled hundreds of miles to take money and gold to and from banks. Was it under the watchful eye of Matt Dillon or Wyatt Earp?

Let your mind travel back in time as a sleepy town awakens. If you listen carefully you will hear the sound of heavy boots moving quickly over  wooden planks. Past the saloon, no time to wet your whistle on this particular morning. Past the general store where farmers are buying seed and corn, preparing for planting. Past the hardware store, moving toward the alley beside the bank. You pull your watch out of your pocket and note the time 8:52 am. A quick glance through the window satisfies your curiosity. The banker leans down, ear to the safe. As the tumblers turn, a smile touches the corners of your mouth. You glance at your watch again then make one more sweep of the streets. You’re looking for anything suspicious…or dangerous. You see the plume of dust rise even before you hear hoof beats approaching. You pull the bandana over your face, draw your six shooters and prepare to kill anyone who poses a threat.

Your name is Frank James. Your brother Jesse, Bob Ford and others careen to a stop in front of Wells Fargo. You are the James gang and you rob banks.

What images are conjured up when you look at this old safe? Where do you imagine it has been? What mysteries does your imagination uncover?

By andreazug

The Promise of Spring

You awake from a dreamless sleep, feeling refreshed. You walk to the bedroom window and open the blind to let in the beautiful, warm, sun. Your eyes are closed. Your head is tilted toward the sky.
You open your eyes and squint, just a bit. The brilliance will not allow you to look full into the warm, glowing, orb. A smile touches your lips as your eyes slowly pan downward.
The blue of the sky is interrupted by the majesty of the pines. Blue Spruce, White Pine and Hemlock dot the surrounding mountains. You open your eyes now to take in the beauty as your gaze falls to the tops of the surrounding trees that stand as sentinels among the evergreens.
Reality strains against the smile, but you will not give in. There, by the thousands, are the oak, ash, sugar maple, chestnut, apple and cherry trees. Was it the hand of God, or perhaps Mother Nature’s hand that changed the landscape? It was as though a supernatural force stripped the multicolored leaves, and sprinkled them on the earth. You remember the beauty-for there is always beauty in nature.
Your gaze falls farther still. You see your neighbor’s house and note the stark contrast from the beauty of color to that of brilliant white. Snow sparkles as the sunlight glints off of the snow covered roof. Icicles cling to the gutters. It is ever so slight, but you see droplets fall from the tapered ends. The back yard is a wonderland of snow that looks like an unbroken sea of cotton-so white it is almost blinding.
Your eyes find the icicles again and your smile widens. Soon it will come. Soon the earth will be renewed. It’s sleep will give way to a new beginning, new life. The promise of spring.