Category Archives: Humourous short story

The Garbage Man

[a short story, by Sha’Tara]

CONTENTS DELETED – contact me via email:  if you need this post back for reference, thanks.

Rolling, dried, sun-burnt hills seemed to stretch forever out to a hazy horizon beyond the snaking rutted roadway. Under the high, light grey cloud cover, and except for the road, nothing could be seen indicating the presence of man. Here and there a few tall skeletal trees raised their heads beyond a hill. Gorse and heather provided the only cover for man or beast. You might say it was a bleak landscape.










Touching Base

Hello to all, and to all a hello!

Some of you may have noticed less comments from me, and less posts… well there are a couple of simple explanations.  The most obvious, which I can make public without fear of being investigated is that I’m suddenly very busy in the other real world, working on jobs, ones that actually pay, can you believe it?  So that means long hours in Daylight Saving Time pretending I’m enjoying myself as Spring very reluctantly begins to show his face and the snow line hems are rising up the side of those hills that surround this area.

The second reason (which of course I can’t make public, or tell anyone for fear of serious reprisals by the powers that be) is that I’ve become aware that I am a Russian agent, and that means I’ve awakened to my pre-birth training in some Siberian camp where I was indoctrinated in the doctrine of Putinism and trained in demagoguery (Heck I couldn’t even spell that!)  So now I have to spend time reviewing.

I don’t know yet what they’re going to ask me to do, but I have to be ready.  This is serious business and the competition is truly  fierce.  According to mainstream media, just about everybody (in North American at least) is now a Russian Agent, or claiming to be one because the scuttlebutt is that all awakened agents get free credit cards with very high spending limits, and as Jon Rappoport says, when the cards are maxed, the Russians pay the balance.  So you see, I’m motivated.

Of course, I didn’t write the above paragraph, didn’t post it on this blog and if you receive it, it’s your own fault for downloading it.  And by the way, that’s not me in those CCTV shots and in that video dancing with a bear.  It’s a look alike trained by my enemies to make my Russian masters disown me and refuse to give me my free credit cards.  Dirty pool but what can you expect with so much rampant corruption?  That bear isn’t even real: it’s a Sasquatch in a bear suit.

Sorry, the dishes need washing, tomorrow’s lunch needs putting together (or thinking about) and… and… something else…



The Story Teller


                                                       [a short story—by Sha’Tara]

So, as I was saying, I crewed with Abraham, on the old Windsong, you know, and as luck would have it…

“Hey, wait a minute, did you say Abraham? I thought the Wandering Jew died when his ship’s hull was breached by a meteor and the computers failed to sound the warning in time.  They found the records in the wreckage.”

Well, obviously he hadn’t yet eh?  Can I get on with this? As I was saying, the Old Man called his commanders to his cabin one day, that is, those of us temporarily out of fugue, and he said, “You dogs listen, and listen good.   I don’t have a lot of time left, no matter how much fugue I take, and with rats like this crew to command, not much of that allowed me or I’ll find my ship boosted and me shackled in the hole or looking at the stars without a face visor. Here’s the deal, and it will explain why I felt the need to hire a pack of criminals like you for this trip. Our manifest states we are hauling arka-brite to the smelters on Ita. You know this. What you don’t know is, we’re going renegade. Are you hearing me?”

We all nodded silently, looking at the floor, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“What, no argument from you pirates?   Fine. A couple of sleeps ago, I had a dream. There was an ancestor of mine with the same name I have. He too was a wanderer. Seems he was looking for his home and his god, so the dream said, spoke to him and promised him this home if he would do whatever he was told to do.   Fugue dreams can get very detailed, and often very boring, since you can’t get out of them. This one was interesting. This Abraham turned from his ways and began to follow the directions given him by his god and messengers, or angels or whatever you call them.   We’ve seen enough of these in our travels, not a problem to accept this possibility is it?  Still no comments?  Very well.  

“What I found interesting is that my ancestor stopped questioning everything. He basically did as he was told and he had a pretty good and interesting life all around. Women, battles, hobnobbing with some king in a place they called “Egypt” or so it sounded.   Then he had cattle that grazed on rolling green lands—I saw these in the dream—and he lived in tents that billowed in the wind. It’s my understanding that the god wanted Abraham to have children who would inherit the world they were on at the time and didn’t much care how those kids were “begotten” as the saying went, if you get my drift.”  

Old scar-face actually winked as he said that. Must’ve been a pretty exciting dream for him to demonstrate feelings!  He continued:  

“I couldn’t make out whether these people had ships, but it seems they actually didn’t. I know, sounds far-fetched but who knows the kinds of events that happen to worlds over time? In fact, if I understand the dream, they walked, yes, with their own legs, from place to place. They didn’t even use exoskeletons. Gravity must’ve been pretty low to be able to do that. Didn’t mention equipment either, so best guess, they were able to survive on it without suits. What else… oh, yes, in what I saw of it, this world had biological life all over it: things like live animals, plants, and open water, lots of open water in some places. I saw the sky: it was colored a light-blue. Now that makes for an interesting kind of world.  Best guess, I had a dream about Old Earth.”

Somebody chuckled a bit too loud.  Old scarface looked around until everbody stood rigidly at attention, stone-faced.

“Well, you rats, I have a mind to find that ancient world of my ancestors and if I can black-market our manifest to my smuggler friend Hino the Zealous for a half-decent payoff, we head out.”

I remember then saying, “Uh, cap’n, apart from the fact that if we’re arrested after high-jacking a load of arka-brite from Arka Corp we’ll all hang so to speak, do you have coordinates for this planet of yours?”

“I will have. I intend to do exactly what my ancestor did. Not for nothing they sneeringly label me the Wandering Jew. I am Jewish, not that it means anything anymore, but it did in those times, apparently.   My plan is simple: I intend to enter into fugue shortly and return to the dream. I intend to contact that god and get the coordinates from him. Since the planet was given to my ancestors, then it’s also mine.   Logical. If my people are already on it, then I’ll retire there and you can have the old Windsong. Lots of parsecs left in her yet. We’ll give her a facelift, change her name, registration, and off you’ll go boys.”

“Sorry to interrupt cap’n,” our computer analyst and programmer Bryxt cut in, “but you intend to enter fugue while connected to a brain scan?”

And as you space dogs know, it’s the only way to reconnect to the dream sequence, and totally illegal because in most cases, it induces what has come to be known as “gap” sickness, an incurable condition of acute paranoia caused by jumps.  Jumps is the only way to get around in space unless you want to spend eternity looking at the same stars.

“That’s what I mean to do, damn space admin’s rules or the consequences. If I come out addled, the ship is yours that much sooner, so what’s the worry? Toss my body out and we’ll be square.”

So, to make a long story short, the cap’n entered fugue connected; came out apparently sane and sound with a smile on his scarred leathery face that spread from ear to ear.

“All right you useless worms, contact Hino. The coordinates are in the computer. As soon as we’re cleaned-out and paid, we head out. A little adventure, that’s what a man needs at the end of his journey.   Space can get so damned boring after a while.”

We sold our cargo to the smugglers and entered worm hole TF-068 using a pirated ship’s signature from one of the smuggler’s barges and after some unexpected and bone-jarring jolting came out among the weirdest groupings of solar bodies I’d ever seen. Our computations had wiped out in the boost—hell, old Windsong was never meant for that kind of torture: she was a freighter, for Ajax sake! Of course we should have realized our cap’n had lost it when he gave us his plan, but you know, the captain is the man and if you want to survive space, there is but one rule: do what the man says once you’ve had your say.

We scoured that area with what was left of the ship’s computers working, found nothing, nothing at all. We were years looking, scanning, probing, sending surface craft to promising worlds until enough didn’t come back we couldn’t risk that anymore. We used up all our surface probes, most of which never responded. Those that did only increased our despair. This system we had tumbled into refused to make the least allowances for biological life, let alone human life.

Sanity was the first and greatest victim in our situation. We argued and fought with what little energy we had left. Most wanted to mass-launch the last jumpers and sling-boost equipment or crash land WindSong even to take their chances upon a particular world that seemed quasi-adequate for some sort of survival. Radioactivity was high but they argued they could beat it. Anything to get off what had become our prison on dying Windsong.   Anything to get away from the totally mad Wandering Jew who now spent his days hooked up to the brain scan that didn’t work, trying to recall his stupid dream. When he disconnected to walk among us, he had tears in his eyes, but they weren’t for us, for having stranded us. He didn’t see us, or hear us either. His tears were for his damnable dream. He began to talk to his ancestor’s god out loud and we shuddered, giving him wide berth whenever we heard him pleading, demanding, cursing, sighing. Off the chart, he was, poor bastard. We even felt sorry enough for him not to boost him out the air-lock.

From a healthy and happy crew of 68 men, we were whittled down to 31 emaciated ghosts wandering through the ship’s corridors when the damned angels appeared.  

“So that’s how you got back?”

That’s what’s so sick about the whole thing. I woke up here, right here, in this pub. Alone. No crew, no ship, nothing to my name, just old memories.

“What did space admin have to say about your story, man?”

Just a story, home boy. Bar tender, did that earn me another round before I return to the Heritage II?

“You from the Heritage? Hell’s bells, I should’ve known! We’ve been had, he’s one of those story tellers.   “

And all of you so sure you could spot a storyteller, eh? And also a shape-shifter, friends. That old man you made your little bets with before I joined your group was none other than myself and it’s time to pay up.   Better luck next time boys.

I could have been anything.  I could captain my own cruiser.  I came out of the Academy with top ratings, family money, prospects, offers, the works. Space is infinite. The number of ships that move through this one universe alone would be considered infinite. Possibilities endless. But despite the less than glamorous conditions of spacing around from galaxy to galaxy as a story-teller, you can’t beat it. It’s not only that we exist as double-agents, spying for corporations or this and that tin pot dictator or emperor searching for traitors, princes hunting for concubines and wives belonging to opponents; even indulging in sleuthing on the side—you know, to relieve the boredom between gigs—but there are other compensations.

I even had me a date with a blue-skinned Andromedan dancer last time through there and it didn’t cost me anything but a little story I made up on the spot. It would have been worth it just to watch her purple eyes dilate and hear that universally renowned laughter. I might tell you about that sometimes, but not this trip. My feelings are still too closely associated with it, especially the part where I was caught with her “in fragrante delicto” and trying to explain to the *Genoba that I had imbibed a bit too much Andy beer and was under the delusion she was an Andy goddess I had come to propitiate. He almost bought it… almost.  

Anyway, next time is next time. I have to board now, before my pub acquaintances discover the old man I claimed to have shape-shifted into was an old wino I found outside the bar and bought for a bottle of cheap rot-gut. So, I live my life on the edge. Why not? I’m young, not even 150 years old, galactic standard time, with a whole life, and more if I play my cards right, ahead of me begging for adventure.  Crazy?  Maybe, but if I stayed out of all the illegal, banned or dangerous places, where would I get my stories, and my money?  My very first commander, Light Leeta, would remind us at each enemy encounter, “OK people, remember, move to kill, move to win.  Live hard, live fast, live to live another day.  Go!” As the last surviving member of that motley crew, I can say this: it worked for me.

*Genoba, for those of you not familiar with the two or more dozen major Andromedan lexicons is the owner of a very high class, very exclusive Andy brothel, the kind that unless you’re royalty, or a member of the Family, you want to be sure you steer clear of.  The name itself isn’t originally Andromedan but followed an ancient family from Old Earth.  I know, nobody believes such a place did exist once upon a time but I have stories about it.  Another time.  I’ve got to board my ship, my actual destination to be given while in fugue.   They never give your destination until secured on board in case you get scanned and your coordinates lifted from your brain – everybody knows that, right?  OK wild and weird, here I come ready to live another day!   



God’s Dilemma Resolved

[off the cuff   by Sha’Tara]

One day on earth, it so happened that two people were praying. 

One was in a Christian chapel, on his knees.  He was praying for God to destroy all Muslims.  He was very sincere, as sincere as he knew how; as sincere as he’d seen his preacher being sincere the Sunday before when asking the faithful to pray to God for the destruction of Islam.

Almost at opposite points on the planet, another man was praying on his mat, careful to kneel down and bow all the way to the floor from his prayer mat, careful to face Mecca.  He even had his GPS on to make sure.  His request to Allah was much in line with the Christian’s request, that God should destroy all the enemies of Islam, particularly all Christians. 

God, to that point, on that day, was having a great time.  He’d scored, not one, but two, holes in one on the Great Divine House lawn golf course.  He’d beaten both Michael and Jesus.  As I am saying, a great, great day.  Then he opened his iphone to check on the incoming requests – he didn’t always trust his staff to deal properly with the more difficult ones.  Try to imagine his chagrin to see the two aforementioned prayers flashing on the screen in front of his eyes.  They had a priority one rating. 

As you probably assume, God isn’t given to profanity; he doesn’t care that much for it even in lesser beings though he tolerates the odd infraction from the earth creatures.  He knows them well and if he didn’t make allowances for them, he also knows only too well that his arch enemy, the guy with the endless fracking and endless spills that burn forever, would get all of them for himself.  But in this instance, God let out a typical Earthian swear, a rather common one, “Ah shit!  How stupid can these people be, huh?”

“What’s up dad?” asks Jesus, who’d just parked the divine cart and had ambled over.  “I haven’t heard you swear in public in a long time.  It’s from earth, right?  What’d they do now?”

“Have a look!” And he hands the phone over to the Son.  “I really shouldn’t pay any attention to this crap, really.  But if I don’t do something, this is going to be more spam and I can’t very well block, like, five billion people from that planet now, can I?  There’s the odd tweet in there that is actually legitimate.

“I see what you mean, dad,”  says Jesus handing the phone back.  “What would a person have to do to teach them the rudimentary lessons of life on a tiny world with no place to go?  I dunno, I did my part back when and I’m not going back there, read my lips.  I think your really fucked up when you made those critters, dad.  What were you on, anyway?”

“Hey, son, watch the language.  Reality check!”  and the old man slaps his son across the left cheek.  “This is heaven, not earth. Remember one of the cardinal rules, at least: honour your father and mother.  Well, at least honour your father.  And you’re not too old for the soap treatment.” 

“Sorry dad.  I know it’s a touchy subject.  So whatcha gonna do about those tweets?”

“What am I gonna do?  I’ll tell ya.  I’m of a mind to answer both their requests, on the spot.” 

“Really?  On the spot?  How do you plan on doing it?”  Jesus looks very excited at the prospect of finally getting his revenge. 

“Well, maybe not on the spot.  I have to think.  What’s the main concern down there now?  War?  Genocide?  What?”

“Climate change!  They’re all mostly focused on that at the moment.  Their doomsday prophets are faking for, the reactionaries faking against.  It’s big overtime on the Internet, poised to go viral any day.”

“OK, climate change it is.  I’m going to throw the works at them: earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, lightning storms, floods, droughts, cave-ins, volcanos, golf-ball-size hail, meteorites, sun flares, and I’m going to kill everything in the oceans this time.  I want to see world wide plagues from rotting fish.  And I want to see some real famine, not this piddly African stuff.  I want to see Mexico City, Riyadh, Jeddah and New York totally starved out and overrun by rats and cockroaches.”

“But what about those that aren’t claiming to be ours, like those social Darwinists, communists, atheists, agnostics, pagans and all the others with their ancient religions?  What happens to them?”

“I should care about those?  They were all going to hell anyway, and they were all going to die, right?  That changes nothing for them.  Just a change of direction for those that call on my Name with their ignorant tweets.  I’m fed up to here with ‘em.”

“Who’s going to be in charge of the fireworks, dad?”

“You seem a mite eager boy. I dunno… I am thinking of teaming up Raphael, Gabriel and of course, Michael.”  Jesus pouts.  “OK, I hate to see a grown man cry.  The show is yours.  You have one earth year to get everything ready for the big launch.  And don’t forget, I want a pavilion on the moon with all amenities.  Slave girls; ambrosian ales.  And I want to see everything to the end, however long it takes.”

“Won’t they wonder why you’re not answering their tweets, I mean prayers, in the meantime?”

“Why should they?  You know as well as I they’re used to that.  But this time, oh yeah baby I’m going to answer their prayers, and they’ll know it’s me doing it. 

“We need an impromptu meeting.  Get some people together.  Don’t forget those earth physicists, you know the ones who invented those weapons of mass destruction?  Bring in a couple genocidal maniacs too.  Their ideas will come in handy. 

Sushi anyone?”


The Case of the Crucifixion Report

(Disclaimer:  Ready for some satirically historical or historically hysterical, anecdotes?  I do hope you remembered to leave your sensitivities on the “Welcome” mat at the door as they would be somewhat of an impediment in this reading room.)

(breaking news by Sha’Tara-for immediate release)  

The following, as you may remember from your second year of Bible college history, is but a synopsis of what actually happened following the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.  As you all know, a report was filed by Pilate and sent to Rome to be entered in the legal archives on Iron Mountain.  The report, however, never got to Rome and this raised some questions. Was there even a report?

After a great deal of trouble on my part, some bribing of priests and assorted officials, I finally got to the truth of the report’s disappearance.  Having already spent a great deal of time and money learning about this event, I thought it behooved me to fill you in on a few missing details.  I think you really want to know what actually happened, not just to the report itself, but to the changes wrought upon our history as a result of its loss.

The following document is certified true by the local “born again” member of parliament, the Catholic priest, academia and the local chapter of global main stream media.  It also passed muster on Facebook, going viral with over 956 thousand “Likes” and counting, so you know it can’t be false.

According to the revealed documents, it was well known to all that Pilate and Herod (the two “principals” involved in the controversial event known as The Crucifixion) were not only enemies, but cheapskates.  Pilate actually invented Romanomics by privatizing all Roman shipping within his area of control.  In this case, Publishus Bullshitus, the corporate owner of all mainstream media in Palestine, Persia and twenty-six and a half Greek islands linked by a Central Economic Union and the Trans-Greece Trade Agreement or TGTA, authorized a third page editorial in the Jerusalem Times that addresses this very issue: Pilate’s official report on the crucifixion of Jesus intended for the Roman Curia. (They called these jurists “the Curia” because they were insatiably curious, no other reason to go look under rocks here, so let’s move on.)

According to the editorial which glowingly endorses Pilate’s privatization schemes, the report was duly written up, scrolled up as per custom, sealed in an earthen jar, also as per custom, then handed over to a Carthaginian trader who sailed a trireme loaded with sweet potatoes.  The ship’s manifest says it was destined for Bari which, as you all know, or Googled you cheaters, is on the east coast of the Roman peninsula – a peninsula that would not become Italian for quite a few years hence – and basically across from Rome, which is on the west coast of same said peninsula.

Once duly received by port officials, the scroll would be taken across the peninsula to Rome by official horseback mail, not to be confused with the rider who also wore mail in the distant, seldom successful hope of thwarting terrorist arrows.  So unlike today, remember that terrorists were everywhere in those days.

The trireme, and this is also on record, was named “The Unsinkable” and until that trip had earned its name by reputation on many occasions.  The editorial, praising the fact that it cost Pilate about a third of normal government fees to ship privately, since the owners of private shipping exclusively used slave labour for rowers, mentions that “The Unsinkable” never made it to its destination.  As usual terrorists are blamed for this in the MSM (Main Stream Media) press editorials, but it is well known that non-official sources from a host of social media and the hated “Esseneleaks” sources mention a storm of massive proportions sweeping across the Mediterranean sea at that time, with waves over a hundred elbows in height.

These social media sources lumped in with some New Age predictions, go on at length about “climate change,” earthquakes and suddenly erupting volcanoes that will toss the entire Mediterranean sea into the “Great Ocean” then close the entry at Gibraltar; and finally a total global cooling due to the darkening of the skies.  A Western mage named Alexus Jonesephus declares, “It’s the end of the world as we’ve known it folks! It’s become prey to demonic forces gathering in the Sahara desert for an invasion of the northern continent!  When the sirocco begins to blow they will fly across the Atlas mountains and over the dry bed of the Mediterranean.  Now look here at my drawing:  when you look in the faces of those Saharans, you can see the demonic in them: they are black!  This is it!   This is it!  These are not conspiracy theories, people, it’s happening, right now!  Just look at my drawings, read my lips, buy my scrolls!”

More alt-right conservative sources attribute the storm to Jesus who knew, of course, that the report falsely accused him of sedition.

Jesus, having painfully raised himself from the dead over a period of two and a half days,and blown open the cave that held his body captive, stunning the guards with a Tazer which Mary Magdalene “the mad” and his mom “Mary the virgin” had secreted under his burial shroud, was by then re-installed in his office in his heavenly high-rise, two floors below that of his Father, with whom he wasn’t on speaking terms at the moment due to the fact that the old fart had left him to die on that cross, considering it a double-cross on the part of the old man who worried that Jesus would depose him with the help of his Earthian legions.  (I hope you weren’t trying to hold your breath while reading that sentence.  I could, of course, have broken it up but I thought it funny to watch some of you turn blue as you tried to read it to the end without stopping.)

At the moment however, Jesus was busy plotting the overthrow of the Roman Empire by designing a new religion that would simply take it over from within, then turn everybody on everybody else in an endless wave of bloodshed purportedly intended to defeat the terrorists.  “There WILL always be terrorists; there MUST always be terrorists!” He’d thundered, pointing at his major-domo, since it was dinner time and there was nobody else to thunder at.

Back in the office, then.  “Sedition?” he thundered (it is the prerogative of all top echelon male deities to thunder) at his cowering scribes,  “I’ll show them some truly god-damned sedition!”  Then he drove his fist, which had lost much sensitivity due to an incurable infection from a rusty nail, through the oak desk. He looked as his shaking scribes and laughed uproariously: “Don’t you hate it when that happens?  Get me a new desk, and this time I want an abacus with it.  And bring me a tall busty blonde Nordic slave girl in some gauzy outfit, no chains.  And teach her to work the thing.  I need some entertainment and some bang for my Drachma.

“Damn Chinese think they can calculate faster than us, do they? I’ll show them.  I’ll teach them to refuse to believe in me.  I’ll invade them with my religion, that’s what I’ll do, and I’ll corrupt them completely by bringing Roman depravity right into their temples and hovels. I’ll have my disciples show them how to use opium illegally.  Such a sweet deal: we all know that if you deny an Earthian anything he’ll want it ten times to a hundred times more.  They’ll go soft, stop growing their own food and starve.  Oh yes, they’ll understand what we mean when we say, “We come, we see, you die!”

God, (I should have used the expletive “Christ” that’s to become so common on earth, since I mean me, not the old fart in the penthouse) I feel so much better already.  I’m ready for my game of squash, where the hell is Rufix the Red?  Red!?  If he’s late one more time, I’m having him branded.  No, I’ll have him sent to hell as a gift to my bro and instruct Sate to chain him to a gridiron over a very slow flame.”

The rest, as they say, is history, and that ain’t over until the fat lady sings, they also say, however incorrectly political, or is that politically incorrect, the line now is.  I don’t make these things up, I just report the facts,  just the facts, ma’am.

As you can readily see by my short article on this rather well-worn piece of pre-Romanesque history, things were a lot different in those days.

Follow me for more truth or not, at:  https//

Talking to Noone

       [a short story]

It was dark.  Night actually.  Sometime in the night.  I heard a voice, best described as spectral.  I am dreaming, I thought as I tried to wake up but I was already awake, obviously, or I was dead.  Deep in the silent night it’s often difficult to know if one is alive or dead.  Especially when in your mind you have become convinced that “death” is just another form of life, one you’re not quite yet comfortable with. 

So let’s say I was alive then, as you would understand that to mean, that I was in a body, and that body was actually functioning.  I could move with it, or make it move things.  That kind of being alive.  For the record.

The voice trembled some.  It was difficult to place in terms of gender, or age. It was the voice of an old male child who never quite gained its adult voice.  The voice of someone who had done a lot of smoking, perhaps died from it.  Again, what does that mean… nothing.  And I was dead wrong in my evaluation so let’s not spend more time on that. 

“I would tell you of things you should know ere this night ends.”  Said the voice.

“Who are you?” I had to ask, you understand.  It’s simple human curiosity.  We always want to know whom we’re addressing (or undressing, but that’s another topic.)   

“I am Noone” the voice said.  It pronounced it “Noo Nee”

“What sort of language is that?”  I asked.

“It isn’t a language, it’s a statement.  I am a statement.  I am supposed to be read, not heard.  This is terribly inconvenient.”

“You’re telling me!” I exclaimed, somewhat exasperated.

“Yes, indeed I am telling you.  That’s why I’m here, to tell you.  But I’d rather be read.  Can you read me?”   

“No, I can’t.  You’re a being, (and I thought, I sure hope so!) not a book, or a parchment or scroll.  You can’t be read.  Spell your name for me, I’m confused by it.”

“No one.”

“Ah well, there you see, you got it wrong in the pronunciation.  It is no one.  That’s not a name, it means you don’t exist.  You are no one.”

“I know.  That’s why I keep telling you I’m meant to be read.  I can articulate only what I can read.  I don’t have a spoken language, only a written one.  I am from a written world.  We are not a language, or even languages.  We are words, we exist only in words, sentences, paragraphs, and of course the more advanced of us exist in stories.  I’m just a word construct.” 

“So how can you make a voice, then?  How can I hear you audibly?  How can you articulate, as you put it?”

“How could I answer that?  Perhaps putting words together creates certain images and looking at those images, sound emanates in the mind of certain beings?  Perhaps… wait… perhaps when I’m near you I’m no longer Noone, I mean no one, but actually someone, or some one?”

“You mean like a living ghost?  A “for real” ghost?” 

“I cannot read ghost.  I do not relate.  Perhaps we word beings do not know of your ghost concept.  If I were a ghost, what could I do?”

“Well, not much.  You could haunt places, make ghoulish sounds and scare the bejeesus out of credulous people.  Come to think of it, this would be a good time to try it out.”

“A-good-time.  You want me to be happy?”

“Oh, don’t be so literal.  No, I mean it’s Halloween.  It’s believed that ghosts come out on Halloween and do all sort of mischief, or scare non-ghost types.  Ghosts are spirits of the dead, some long ago, some recent.  Some ghosts are demons from fire worlds.  It is believed they can be nasty.  They can even rob you of your soul and when you die to have to become one of them.”

“Not a good time, then.  Not a good time at all.  I don’t think I want to be a ghost.  I think I would scare myself and that would be very inconvenient.”

“Speaking of inconvenient, what was so important that you had to wake me up for, and we had to go through this whole mishmash of weird introduction?”

“Oh, yes.  I almost forgot, but I can’t forget, I’m words after all.  I’ll read myself to you.  You are Anson Jones.  You are going to be thirty three years old on October 31.  You have made your living from words, having written several novels and three books of poetry.  All your income has derived from the use of words.  You are a very fortunate man.  On midnight of October 31 this year you have qualified, from your life-long use of words, to become a word being.  You will be translated into a book.  But not just any book.  You will become the most important book on Word World.  You will, in fact be so important, you will be published as a trilogy. You will enjoy a long shelf life in every library on Word World. 

That has never happened on Word World and the anticipation is heating up, a river of ink needed to maintain written word speculation on what your entry will do to our social life, our economics, our very encyclopaedic space.  Some articulate it as a revolution.  Some write that it is an apocalyptic event.  A few crazy word splitters even write that you are he who was predicted to come; that you will bring us into a third dimensional state of consciousness.

So, Mr. Anson Jones of Earth, we shall all await your arrival with bated breath – as a figure of speech of course, we do not breathe as such, we write it.  Thank you.”

“What can I say to that?  Nothing.  I went back to sleep thinking it was a silly dream after all.  Was I surprised when I woke up this morning and realized I could not speak, that I could only write my thoughts down?  Not really.  I just know I used the word “inevitable” a few too many times in my novels.  It was sure to turn and bite me in the ass sooner or later. 

Who Knows? Who Knew?

I’m getting the distinct impression that my steadfast reading public is getting antsy with all the “re-blogs” and expecting a bit more of the up front and personal from me.  In short, give us another story, or give up!  So, I’m thinking, OK, I better give in than give up.  For your reading pleasure, a bit long, but still a short story. Let me know if it was worth your time reading, hey? 

    [a short story by ~Sha’Tara~ ]

I’d been at “The Paper” in New West for just over two years, covering trials, sentences, and following the more newsworthy “criminals” incarcerated in what was then known as the B. C. Penitentiary or “The Pen” or “Skookum House.” I was in a car accident on one icy morning crossing one of those quasi-perpendicular streets common to both San Francisco and our own down town New Westminster. I ended up in the Royal Columbian Hospital where a student nurse was assigned to my medical needs. After I was released in a convalescent state, she came to see me and we hit it off quite well, so I assured myself. Alas, her interest in me was more on the professional level, mine in her more on the romantic side. I thought these two sides of one coin made a pretty good whole so I took her to dinner one evening and had a dozen red roses delivered for her at our table, as a gesture, you understand.

And a grand gesture it was, I thought. I’d read about that move in a Harlequin novel.

She didn’t take it well. She viciously dumped the roses in a vase the Maître-d’ brought to the table at her request, and proceeded to tell me that I’d read her all wrong.

Me? How could I? I was twenty-two, single and male. A girl enters my life: to me that was a foregone conclusion what she wanted. She wanted what I wanted, what else?

Not so, apparently. She was of a staunch Baptist family and her goal was to become a missionary nurse to Morocco. Morocco? I almost hit my forehead with my right hand – the ritual, you know – Why in hell Morocco? I realised then, as a complete Devil-may-care agnostic non-believer whatever that I would not be able to compete with her baggage, as much as I knew I never would agree to carry it for myself. That simply was not me. I had been raised to believe that believing in nothing was in itself a sacred trust and a duty to the new breed of mankind that was inexorably, with the benevolent help of science, pulling itself out of a long dark religiously superstitious tunnel. I was sure I’d seen the proverbial light at the end of it too.

We had a lovely disagreeing, if not totally disagreeable, discussion and she took a taxi home. Believe me, when a date takes a taxi home from a restaurant and leaves, not only her red roses behind, but her dessert untouched, she’s saying, I’m moving to a different universe. Don’t bother trying to find me.

I never saw her again. I could have traced her, sure, I know about alternate universes, but I figured she knew where I lived and if she changed her mind she knew where to find me, so pushed down the temptation, resumed my work and within a year I was completely burned out. I had covered an extended case involving mob money, Longshoremen’s unions, a thoroughly crooked city council member and a double murder on the Vancouver waterfront. The story kept unravelling around me, with more twists in it than a mile of chicken wire fence. I made some assumptions and a fool of myself. I asked for an extended leave of absence which my editor reluctantly, change that to grudgingly, granted by telling me that “I had potential” and was throwing it away. Of course my “potential” was that I worked like a fiend from hell covering my stories, sometimes round the clock, certainly at it seven days a week, burned more gas chasing leads than a fleet of taxis on New Years Eve in New York and got minimum pay as an apprentice.

I didn’t want “potential,” I wanted more, and I wanted it now. Fortunately new pastures were easy to find in the late Fifties if you weren’t too particular and not saddled with a large brood as so many post-war veterans had gotten into. Sure the nice little half-basement stucco-sided bungalow on a quiet street with a half-dozen kids in bathing suits or underwear jumping over sprinklers; raking up leaves and throwing the cat in the piles under a waning Autumn sun or making snowmen on those rare winters when it actually snowed, had some appeal (you can take a breath now). But not at the moment.

My Austin A-40 had been totalled in the accident and I had invested in a “new” Chevy six-cylinder pickup truck in anticipation of big changes in my life. Note: a writer never makes small changes, that’s a no-no. Regular people, small people, ordinary people, they make the small changes. When they take a step forward, we’ve already taken that proverbial ten-foot leap where angels fear to tread the winepress of God’s wrath. I’m not bragging, I’m simply biased, and really, what’s the use of having read the Bible if you can’t quote from it?

I took stock of my savings, sold my meagre furniture, stuffed whatever I could, or thought I’d need, in the back of my pickup truck. It had a decent canopy that could be used for a sleeper and emergency shelter in inclement weather when stopped in some out of the way somewhere or nowhere. After sub-letting my cosy apartment on Colborne Street, I got in my truck at day break on the first day of May, crossed the Patullo bridge south-east (not that you could cross a bridge in any other direction than the one it goes in, a peculiarity of bridges) and after a breakfast of eggs over easy, hash browns and toast at a truck stop on what was then the main highway to BC’s interior and the rest of Canada for that matter, decided on the next leg of my journey.

I would head for the Okanagan, or perhaps the semi-arid Cariboo country. I’d make that decision when I got to Cache Creek, my first goal. Then I thought, as the static-filled, scratchy, fading AM radio played current hits by Elvis and Sinatra that maybe I’d drive all the way to Prince George and find a job as a reporter there. There’s always a job for a reporter in any boom town if you don’t mind roughing it and have a nose for those stories that keep people more entertained than informed. Callous? Sure. You have to have lived before you can develop empathy. I had yet to live. I cradled my callousness as a five year old girl cradles the doll she just unwrapped on Christmas morning.

Meanwhile it was a beautiful bright sunny day without a cloud in the sky, five AM and traffic was almost non-existent as I drove through the string of Lower Mainland towns: Cloverdale, Langley, Aldergrove, Abbotsford, Yarrow, Chilliwack, Rosedale and finally little Popkum which casually pointed its thumb in the direction of tall, dark mountains that ate my last radio signal, and on to Hope where the number 1 highway makes a sudden 90 degree turn to snake along the famous Fraser River canyon replete with dark rabbit holes they called tunnels.

Stopping at Hope at the time was de-rigueur. Gas, food, lodgings (if you planned to stay overnight), with logging and industrial logging supplies as its main industry apart from tourism, that was Hope. A clean, colourful little town tucked against the Fraser River to the west and basically dark rising mountains on all three other sides. A typical mountain town which had been, so I gathered, a centre for gold miners some decades before and even had had a landing for steam powered paddle-wheelers that plied between Yale and the coast, bringing in supplies and contingents of rail workers, loggers and miners before the railway was completed .

As a first impression, I liked Hope but it was expensive and not my destination – not far enough from the coast. After a hamburger, fries and a Coke at a busy drive-in just before the single lane bridge crossing the Fraser I was on the road again. Soon I was crawling in a long line of logging trucks, buses and campers carrying expectant American tourists from as far south as California, snaking through the canyon, not daring to even stop to take pictures as I didn’t want to lose my place in the queue which stretched as far behind me as it did in front. Clogging dust rose from unfinished windless stretches of the ever-being-built-and-in-constant-state-of-repair Trans Canada highway. Inevitable long stops happened at regular intervals as tunnels were being blasted and widened. How I wanted to stop somewhere to write a story about it all!

Fortunately there was no decent place to stay and my portable typewriter was packed somewhere in my assorted chaos of boxed and bagged possessions in the back. As was the custom of smart locals then, I had a couple of two-gallon canvas bags or bladders filled with water hanging in front of the radiator to keep the water cool. That was a blessing. Tourists of course used plastic Coleman coolers but water from the bladders did not take on the plastic taste I hated. Fresh water gathered from small water cascades tumbling from cliffs overhanging the canyon road was enough to keep the bags full, and good thing too as many overloaded vehicles required radiator refills.

I did my boy scout thing, refilling rads, patching busted hoses with pieces of blue jeans which young boys happily tore from their pant legs, changing flats and sharing water and some groceries I’d taken the trouble to load up on in Hope. I fully intended to write a book about my experiences when I got to wherever, so I asked for names, destinations, hopes and dreams. I had a few silly conversations with some very attractive California girls who would be immortalised by the Beach Boys in 1965. They’d pour or slink out of the tourist caravans whose air-conditioning had failed and readily obliged me as I asked them to pose along the side of the road with bluish mountains as background, or in front of tunnels when possible. Strangers in a strange land always give rise to powerful romantic interests, even if meeting only for a few moments. I took more notes and surreptitiously, took down addresses or thereabouts of destinations, especially if they were going in my general direction and might be spending some weeks in some lake resort in the Okanagan.

Is seems quite silly now, of course, but at the time it was a wonderful game. What was my main thought? “Who knows?” Indeed, “Who knows?” would have made a great title if I had ever written my Great Canadian Novel to surpass Farley Mowatt and even beat Pierre Burton at the game. Well, if you are going to day-dream, do it in style, why not? Costs nothing and makes the long journeys seem shorter. I had dreams enough to fill an entire train in those idyllic days. Yes, I know that’s a cliché, but wait until I get into the corny jokes and the clichés will become a relief.

An interminable wait at Hells Gate over, our collective dusty, noisy, smelly motorized snake had begun to slither forward once more. But now things were a bit more personally interesting.   A precocious and daring seventeen year old in tight pink pedal-pushers, bursting black top, large blue eyes and blonde bouffant made up of a half and half combination of hair and hair spray is sitting beside me, having convinced her folks that it was not only safe since I’d be one vehicle ahead of their camper, but she was utterly bored and needed someone interesting to talk too.

She was from Oregon and they were on their way to Alaska – still a somewhat daring enterprise in those days. In any case, we had the moment to ourselves. She had a smile to light up the night sky and a voice to charm apples from the tree of knowledge. And of her hairdo – I thought that with a small wattage light bulb inserted in it, it would have made a passable lava lamp, considering how often she turned her head. Never mind, she was of those girls that give the word “cute” its full meaning, and effect.

Predictably and without the least apology, I declare here and now that I was immediately in lust with her. Careful, from previous embarrassing experience, of female negative reaction to my well-meant and non-hypocritical advances, I kept my feelings to myself. She on the other hand was entirely free and at home. She talked two miles a minute, sometimes three as the need arose, making our crawling pace seem even slower, not that I minded. If the department of highways had announced that we would be stopped for a week I would have welcomed it. She laughed and commented on everything, from my apparel which consisted of a scuffed pair of leather work boots, a pair of faded jeans and an old plaid shirt with cut-off sleeves, to the condition of the pick-up’s cab to the giant machinery that kept rumbling past us, shaking the ground in minor quakes and raising enough dust to rival an Oklahoma twister. She played with the radio and frowned disdainfully when all she could get was static. She wrote her name in the dust on the dash: Ginger. Not very original but under the circumstances, what’s in a name?

I heard all about Ginger’s escapades which really did not amount to much, her boyfriends and girlfriends, the school she’d just graduated from and the crush she had on her math teacher who was only in his second year of teaching. She talked of sock-hops and drive-in rallies, that is, whose boyfriend could drive the fastest from one A&W to another and order first. Then she went on to beach parties, illegal liquor and daring skinny dipping under a full moon. Well, what can I say? Although I didn’t much care for her rather cheap outlook on life, my lust increased. I fancied myself at those skinny dipping festivities, eagerly running stark raving naked out into the bushes to consummate what had so naturally and easily begun. Whew…! I let out a very deep, very loud sigh which she queried. She asked if she was boring me. No, I said as nonchalantly as I could. Not at all. I’m enjoying it. And I was, I really was. It wasn’t what she said so much as what I imagined she said that kept the one-sided conversation going so well.

Suddenly and for no reason I can think of, she looked at me sort of quizzical-like and went off on a totally unexpected tangent. First of all she asked me for a smoke. My parents don’t let me smoke, they’re so square, she said with a very expressive shrug. I had to explain that I didn’t smoke. Somehow she seemed to have a difficult time with the concept. I suppose to her it would have sounded like me saying, I don’t drink Coke. She swivelled her head again a few times, then, do you like me? she asked, adding, I know you being an older man and all, you probably find me quite silly and childish. Say what? I thought, me an “older” man? Jeez, some people sure know how to hurt a guy. That’s it, I’m done for, over the hill, fit for the retirement home. So I said to her by way of meek defence, I’m probably younger than your math teacher. Really, she replied, well that’s interesting. Must be the beard that makes you look older. I thought you were a beatnik. You seem pretty smart but you don’t have a home, or family or job. Tell me more about yourself.

Tell her more, well, as I’d hardly got a word in edgewise since she’d come aboard, there was quite a bit of more to tell actually. So I do a recap. Home and family? I’d been adopted, no other kids in the house to interact with, so became a loner. Read a lot. Left the home at fifteen to discover the world and got as far as ten blocks away. Found odd jobs, taught myself to type and started writing stuff. Oh yeah, I lived in the basement of a house and paid my room and board by doing jobs for the upstairs folks, chopping wood, feeding the old wood furnace in the basement in winter, mowing the lawn and trimming the shrubs in the summer. Sometimes painting the white picket fence, doing the lube, oil and filter stuff and other general maintenance like changing or tightening V-belts on their ’47 Dodge Coupe, or driving it to the shop for full tune ups and new tires when needed. I’d gotten my driver’s license by then. Easy, fun life. And I kept going to the same school. My adoptive parents were OK with the set up – they didn’t need me and I certainly didn’t miss them. I sort of considered myself a modern day Tom Sawyer while wishing I’d been more of a Huckleberry Finn.

When I finished high school with pretty good grades which could have been really good grades had I bothered to work at it, I called it quits with higher academia and began writing stuff for any and all papers going that would print it. I was good at it too, twisting ideas around with thesaurus researched words and adding word-colour from a 64 crayon box rather than the standard approved 8 crayon one. And that’s how I ended up at “The Paper” and on this road.

Wow, she says, neat! So now what? Well, I said, drawing it out in importance, I am a reporter so I have to find a paper to write for, you know. People need to have access to what is really going on. I need to find someplace that will print my stories and pay me for it. And of course I intend to write a novel about my experiences and about this country – making it sound like I actually knew the country and I already had some deep and abiding life experiences. No wonder she thinks I’m Methuselah, I muttered to myself.

What’s that place called you said you might go to? She babbles on. You mean Prince George? I said. Yeah, is that after Alaska and can I ride with you all the way?   ?…!…? What the…? Did she actually ask me if Prince George was located after Alaska? Does she think Alaska is a town in BC? Yes, I said, hiding as much of my sarcasm as I could and trying hard not to burst out laughing, it actually is located in central BC, which is a Canadian province, the one you’re in right now – she looks around outside, I’m thinking, to find a billboard that would validate my claim: “This is British Columbia: Believe It.” Alaska is a state of the US Union, your own country, I continue, and it’s actually north of BC and you’ll have to cross through the Yukon Territory to get there. Yukon is Canadian land, you understand.

She nodded her head, frowned in a rather serious manner this time, then reached for her purse, pulling out an assortment of bottles that would have made a chemist green with envy, and an assortment of tiny levers and pins and other weird implements designed by Houdini. She began the laborious, painstaking and endless task of nail cleaning, cuticle trimming, colouring and polishing which for some unfathomable reason seemed to absorb her completely. I thought, I must have pushed her brain understanding storage beyond its absorbing capability with my geography lesson.

For better or worse I noticed that my highly activated state of lustfulness had actually diminished in waves. Any wonder she’s bored, I thought. A tree leads a more exciting life and would have a better grasp of geography, if not history and sport a more appealing hairdo. I was defeated. I thought, as I cast several sidewise glances in her direction, she is destined by all that’s holy to give birth to a male child who will become president of the United States. I am only sure on one point: it won’t be a virgin birth.

Finally, Boston Bar. Not much to look at but a great relief nevertheless. The Charles Hotel beckons to tourists and they flock to it as pigeons to a handful of bread crumbs. This is where Ginger and I would part company. I did get a nice, full-on-the-lips kiss, with the comment, your beard is scratchy, from the maiden while her full-blown front avidly sought to vacuum-seal itself onto my chest.  So it wasn’t a total loss, beside the fact that she acquainted me with a hairstyle that was to become very popular in coming years and make a millionaire of anyone who could successfully combine crazy glue, air freshener and dichlorodifluoromethane (Freon R-12) in a pressure container and from there, proceed to wipe out the ozone layer.

This story would be incomplete without a bit about the exciting story of the Charles Hotel. To begin, it was the brainchild of old Walter “Cog” Harrington. First built in 1917, it had burned down in 1949 and been rebuilt as a thoroughly modern structure – for its day, don’t be so critical. A very important piece of Canadian history proudly states that “’Cog’ Harrington operated the Charles Hotel and the Shell service (Harrington Shell, that is, located across a side street from the hotel). His wrecker service rescued many a wreck along the treacherous old Fraser Canyon Highway during the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s.”

Well, that’s the brochure. All I have to say to that is I am glad I am not one of the recks wrescued, or vice versa, the rescued wrecks or vice-inversa, the wrecks rescued.

Enough day dreaming. With Ginger standing beside her family camper in a total state of incomprehension and despondency which I assessed would last at least until the next encounter in the lobby of the Harrington, I happily pushed on to Cache Creek, thoroughly enjoying the fresh sage-scented air, breathing in my newly-discovered freedom. The rest, as they say, is history, and what a history it would have made if someone had taken it down and written it.

Would you care to know what really happened after that? Isn’t it the same as what happens to all of us? Remember that Sixties song made popular by Mary Hopkins: Those were the days? Here’s the whole point of the story, not the end line, but this one: “We lost our starry notions on the way.”

I took up a whole bunch of odd jobs throughout this personal Odyssey which was little more than my last chance at a childish tantrum it turned out. I did make it to the Okanagan but didn’t get to spend a glorious summer on the beaches ogling and dating American beauties who thought they were in a baked Alaska, giving them both geography and Canadian history lessons while they gave me California-style beach massages, or maniacally banging out the great Canadian novel on my portable typewriter under the shade of an apple tree.

Well, why not an apple tree? You never know if an apple isn’t going to drop on your head and activate a whole different part of your brains, sending you off to be ensconced forever into history.  Besides, apple trees are special.

Think of sweet, innocently naked Eve in the garden filled with visions of apple pie which touches the palate with the unmistakable taste of the knowledge of good and evil, especially when heated and heaped over with ice-cream.

Think of little George Washington trying to be a simple logger but in choosing to chop down an apple tree became the very first president of these United States because he couldn’t lie about it – I certainly would have in order to be spared the ordeal but they say hindsight is 20/20. What? It wasn’t an apple tree you say? It had to be, that’s all there is to it. It goes all the way back to Eden. The very idea that a famous personage would chop down a cherry tree and still become famous: it simply can’t work, don’t you see?

Think of what’s his name, Sir Isaac Newton who, after being hit squarely between the eyes, yes, right smack dead centre on the third eye with an apple, discovered and invented a whole bunch of things no one had thought of before. 

And didn’t God say that some of us (them) were the apple of his eye?

It can only be the apple, no doubt of that and you can take my word for it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I had to get a job in a local garage entombed in smeared and spilled grease and oil, and painted liberally with at least thirty years of fumes from un-vented tune-ups.  The job: to pay for a re-built six in my ’52 Chevy pickup which by the time I had climbed the last hill into Kelowna was using more oil than gas.  So, while I earned the money and while the front end was kept up by an overhead winch on a wooden tripod awaiting its rebuilt engine, I lived in the back. Truly romantic. There was a dog in that garage’s back yard where I resided. I looked into his doghouse once or twice trying to figure out a way I could get him to trade rooms with me. His would have been more comfortable by a stretch. Plus he rated fresh straw and didn’t have to pay for his meals.

But as you already know, all good things must end. September rolled in, the motor was re-installed and actually running quite well, I wouldn’t have to buy 30 weight oil by the case for a while.  Changing temperatures began to chase away the tourists and to bring out the ripe smells of cabbages minus their kings.

Each colder morning gave me an itch and a longing for “back home” became more insistent. So I packed what was left of my travelling heritage back in boxes and bags in back of the pick-up. Then I entered into a five-minute termination negotiation with the oil-smeared garage manager who was spreadeagled under an Oldsmobile trying to remove an oil pan with a hole in it.  Having been assured that any remaining pay would be sent to me, and I wasn’t holding my breath for that, nor was I born last night, I headed back down the canyon, stopping only when absolutely necessary. I retraced my steps while barely noticing the countryside and drove straight to “The Paper” to ask when I could resume my “potential.” There was no hesitation from the editor and within two days I was back slamming down “stories” to make people weep, laugh and/or yawn, take your pick.

I didn’t even care that I had to find a new apartment because my sub-renter had gotten a “live in” and they were established, you might say. It became incumbent upon me to not break up the love nest, held tentatively together by the smell of burning weed and stale beer, not to dwell on the bare feet, tie-dyed clothes and frizzy hair that made Ginger’s blonde bowl look quite presentable in retrospect. Surely those crazy dizzy Hippy days were not far into the future now. And the age of Aquarius was just as surely going to follow. It was fated and one should never argue with that, as one does not argue with a date who takes a taxi home from the restaurant.  Well, it stuck in my craw, that’s all. (*note to self: look up craw)

A niece from Quebec came to visit my old friends, “the people upstairs” where I’d spent my Tom Sawyer years and they invited me to dinner and to meet her. She was of those dark French Canadian beauties, with shoulder length dark brown hair worn loosely, brown eyed, vivacious, slim, overall pretty and as a bonus, serious and extremely well educated.

Well, she needed a guide and translator since her English was rather shaky and someone to help her in the learning to speak English department. I did know a bit of locally scented and accented French, having been raised in the entourage of Maillardville where French was still predominant, if not prominent, which came in handy.  She accompanied me on many lead hunts (not head hunts though at times the difference is moot) and even did typing and editing for me. I’ve nothing much else to do, she said. So began a tryst that blossomed into a full-blown romance that ended up in marriage, a half-basement stucco-sided bungalow and two kids, and even a cat to toss in the leaf pile in Autumn.

The two kids are long gone to experiment and experience life on their own.  The cat, Rosie, whose body was buried with all proper pomp and ceremony amongst the roots of the walnut tree, presumably has found happier, longer-lived hunting grounds where there are not, also presumably, piles of leaves to be thrown in. I’m still a reporter; the novel remains in unsorted notes in my office desk drawer. I would be starting on it tomorrow, May first, the beginning of a three week vacation. Such was the carefully made plan per my new year’s resolution, but I just found out from Lilianne that we’re heading for the Okanagan in the motor home. I meant it to be a surprise, it’s all packed and I’m driving the first leg to Hope, she says. Who knew?