Tag Archives: humour

The Sword, the Bow and the Staff – Part I, The Calling: Chapter 19


Finally, I think I’m caught up on the blogging scene. I’ve read how to write better; how to improve my health; what to do in case of Armageddon; how to win a cricket match; that Russia isn’t to blame for anything; that we’re in deeper s**t than I even thought possible; how to make free electricity; how to awaken; that Sandy Hook mass shooting never happened (again) and that I’ve got to give peace a chance. That said, let’s get on with this story before it becomes “The Perils of Pauline” and Phil manifests himself on the blog waving a massive eraser and I lose all my subordinate clauses and loose conjunctions…

Chapter 19: Meeting the priest; all is set for the wedding

To Lo and Nal, it wasn’t much of a ‘town’ but to the others it was impressive as towns go. Not only the large church that sat imposingly in the centre of the main town but the shops, so many shops, and people everywhere. There were people on horseback and horse-drawn carts clattered on cobble-stone sections of the main street hauling various merchandise. At an open air butcher shop women were haggling with a portly butcher over the cut meat and the hanging geese and chicken. After each left with a purchase, she was replaced by another just as eager to haggle over the prices.

Children ran wildly through the filthy streets, yelled at by the adults whom they splattered when their bare feet slapped into puddles of stagnant, stinking water.

As Ian and his group walked deeper into the town, most people stopped doing whatever they were doing and stared. The men were particularly attracted to the three young women, the two tall imposing light-haired ones and the short, small dark one. But the main question on their faces was, who are these armed people and what do they want here?

Then some recognized MacGruder and greetings were exchanged. Women came forth to greet lady Jen MacGruder and their daughter whom they had not recognized so grown up she was. They were introduced to Lo whom they openly admired, and the two other young women, Genti and Deanna. Ian ventured the news that they intended to have a wedding here in Glowmere between the two travellers who were trading friends of the MacGruders, from the south. He announced that Nal and Lo, whom he singled out, were to be united in holy matrimony at the kirk if the priest was in agreement.

The news was greeted with a loud cheer that spread up and down the main street and brought the curious street urchins forth. Soon items went missing here and there from the shops and stalls as the cries of “Thief, stop him!” or “That miserable scoundrel, stop her!” followed by some useless chase that only left a shop or stall open to more pilfering.

“An where does one find the priest?” Ian asked politely and diplomatically for he realized such a location would be in proximity to the church. An urchin offered to lead them to the priest, for a price. Contrary to his usual parsimonious nature, Ian good-naturally accepted and paid the rascal. They intercepted the priest as he was stepping out of the kirk and getting ready to bar, bolt and lock the door.

“Wouldn’t want yer God er his saints t’ run off come night eh Father? Keep ‘em locked up, that’s the sure way.” said Ian with a large smile.

The priest, a tall, stringy sort of creature in a fading black cassock failed to acknowledge the joke. He eyed MacGruder with a frown and asked, “An what do ye be wantin’ fro’ me, mon?”

“Well Father, ‘tis not what I want, ‘tis what these young un’s here be needin’ – an’ that’d be a proper weddin’ t’would be, if ye be amenable to it?”

The priest cast a haughty look over the group trying to figure out which of them were to be the victims. Unable to decide, he turned to MacGruder and said, “They be proper Church people then? Baptized and knowing their catechism?”

“Aye of that I’m sure Father. Might not hurt ‘em just the same to have a confession afore the ceremony?”

“That is mandatory mon, and may I know whom I be addressin’ and whom the intended’s be?”

“I be Ian MacGruder, perhaps ye’ve heard of us from up t’ cottage? An’ here are the two ‘intendeds’ as ye put it: Lo ‘n Nal. Don’t know if there be any family names attached to ‘em, I reckon not.”

“Well, I’ll need such particulars for the book ye understand. We keep decent records here, not like the old pagan days thankfully gone from here, praise God.”

“We’ll get ye the names Father.” MacGruder’s voice had grown somewhat harsher and definitely colder as he prepared to haggle prices with the priest.

Having heard their names mentioned, Nal and Lo came forward and introduced themselves to the priest. Again he gave his haughty look, equally met and brought down forcefully by both Nal and Lo who would not tolerate such from a pawn of the Church. For a moment the priest sensed something that scared him and was of a mind to refuse the ceremony, then thought of the money and held his tongue. On top of the incentive of good gold, there were those deadly looking swords, bows and staffs to reckon with. It might not do to upset these and seemed more prudent to let the moment have its way.

‘I can deal with any sorcery and paganism afterwards and I certainly will.’

All three, Nal, Deanna and Lo, had been mind-focusing on the priest and heard his thoughts. Here was another dangerous enemy, certainly for Genti and the MacGruders. This priest would have to be dealt with after they settled with the Betrayers and before they carried on to further adventures, such certain to come about as a result of Nal’s vows and Deanna’s need to return to Torglynn.

As there was overt thoughts of violence and murder in the priest’s heart, Lo felt no qualm about disposing of the creature come the right time. This work might well fall to wolf and his mate he reckoned. Both Nal and Deanna agreed though Nal who had some personal scores to settle with the Church insisted she’d be involved in the priest’s demise. They left it at the stage where the priest would be killed but not who would have the honours.

Meanwhile, they agreed to let the hypocrisy of the moment reign supreme.

“Any o’ these others gettin’ married also, Ian?” Asked the priest, trying hard to sound innocent, caring, and friendly but inwardly licking his greedy lips thinking of the gold a double or triple wedding would bring, winter being financially remarkable only from the increase in burials.

“Hasn’t been mentioned Father. Must be waitin’ for spring, t’other ones eh? So then to business, time and cost? Ye’d be needin’ gold yea?”

“Gold, yea. Six ounces, weighed on the scale at the kirk. As to time, does next Saturday suit ye, Ian?”

Ian called his group together and after consulting with Jen asked them, “Does next Saturday suit ye all for the weddin’ t’ take place or ye havin’ second thoughts now? Last chance ‘fore I put down the money.”

Nal and Lo smiled broadly at one another then burst out laughing while a spark of hope flashed through young Giles’ heart only to be extinguished in the same moment when Nal said, “Saturday is perfect for us ‘n the sooner t’ better to get it done. Can’t wait! An’ Father if ye be wantin’ our clan names, I be a McBanish, n’ m’intended here, he be a MacDunit.”

“Interestin’ names. Can’t say I ever heard o’ those clans, interestin’ indeed. Saturday then, ten o’ the mornin’?”

“Aye that’ll suit us fine, that will, Father,” quickly answered Ian.

They left the skeletal priest standing there like a patiently expectant vulture on his favourite dead tree perch and Ian declared they all deserved a drink at the Wild Horse Inn, a good, friendly place, he added.

Once out of the priest’s hearing they all burst out laughing until the tears were running down their faces. Ian had to lean on a hitching post to keep himself upright.

Only Deanna failed to join, finally asking what the sudden hilarity was all about.

“Dinae hear girl? McBanish, MacDunit? Who ever heard o’ such nonsense? That was good that, truly magnificent, gal, and he slapped Nal on the back, making her jump.

Ian didn’t give his charges too much time to develop introspective moroseness that would demand another round and declared it was getting late and they had a fair walk ahead of ‘em yet.

As they were crossing the small drawbridge, Lo stayed behind to speak to the guard detail. He gave them each enough coin for a couple of rounds at the inn and was rewarded with some slaps on the back and cheers. Then in a vibrant voice he wished them a wonderful end of the day and a safe, healthy, prosperous and long life. They received his words as if they had been gifts, realizing that there was more than words in the blessing. They waved sheepishly then, thinking this was no ordinary man. They all sensed that their entire lives ahead of them had been magically blessed and the words would prove true.

Entering his speed lope he soon caught up to the group and immediately noticed that Deanna was gone and Nal was carrying her clothes.

“So she’s gone back to her wolf then? How did she manage to take off her clothes without upsetting the group?”

“We slipped into the ‘by woods to do that. She’ll inner nudge me when she needs ‘em again.”

“Let me strap those to my pack then, Nal, so you keep your hands free. It may seem silly here but remember that ultimately we are always alone, working singly, and must always think thus. Never rely on anyone else to take the point, or protect. Let them if they want to but don’t ask it nor expect it and I repeat, never rely on it.

“Keep your hands, arms and legs free at all times and your weapons handy.”

“Truly sorry, I temporarily forgot. Too much on m’mind an’ don’t push me, MacDunit.”

“Indeed I’ll endeavour not to, Miss McBanish.”

They laughed, hugged fiercely and kissed again.

Don’t look at me like that and I heard that snort. Look, I’m just writing it the way I see it. And remember, they’ve been apart for thousands of years, how do you think you would act if you suddenly found yourself back in the arms and love of a lover you knew was dead and you hadn’t seen for, say, twenty thousand years? Would you say,

“What? You again?” or

“I really wasn’t expecting you back this soon.” or

“I hadn’t planned on this; I have a life now.” or

“Things getting too boring for you, decided to come back?”

Right, I didn’t think so. More likely there would be sparks, maybe a flame, and hugging and kissing would just be the breeze that sets everything on fire. So put up with the hugging and kissing and let me go on with the story, which by the way is turning out pretty good, in my opinion, if I’m allowed to have one.



America: Diversity versus Disparity

Some time back there was a tempest in the social media teapot. It came after his royal pudgy-fingered PG 13 (which at the White House means “Minimum Pussy Grabbing Age 13) President of These United States, declared certain races persona-non-grata in His Kingdom. Such nationalities and races didn’t fit the new profile being advertised as proper for the Kingdom’s expanding white supremacist swamp.

That, of course, wasn’t the first time such a thing had happened in the Kingdom but that was before social media so all can be excused for not being aware of it. After all America, and much of the rest of the planet, emerged from the Dark Ages to populate Facebook and imitators, spewing and spawning its collective BS as if it were the most precious substance in the universe. Who cares what happened in the Dark Ages before 2005?

Having got that out of the way, let’s get a bit more serious before the wine runs out.

During that tempest, the old cant that America was founded on diversity was brought out of retirement, dusted off and vigorously waved about to counter the Trumper King’s signing of the new Magna Carta handing out more power and money to his nobility and racist supporters alike.

The problem here isn’t what the Trumper King was doing. After all a King has absolute power and His Royal Self was demonstrating that fact, never to be forgotten.

The problem is the subsequent claim to said Kingdom being founded on diversity. Key word: founded.

A nation is never founded on ideals, that being the mission statement. Ideals are fine on a piece of paper protected by inch-thick glass but not beyond. Beyond it just means trouble.

Think of it like being comfortably ensconced in your favourite pew some Sunday morning while working out your moves for the golf course in the afternoon and suddenly, out of the blue (literally speaking) Jesus appears, nudges the preacher gently out of the way and takes over the pulpit. General consternation and cries of “No! No, no, no! That’s not how it works. Whoa! You can’t be here, you’re supposed to be in heaven where you can’t cause trouble. You’re outta here, buddy! Somebody, shut the sound system down, throw him out!”

That’s the problem with idols such as divinities and belief systems and constitutions. They’re only good as long as they support the status quo and if they don’t, then they remain securely under glass or on stained glass. You can’t drag them out into the open and use them. That’s not allowed, not without properly authorized “interpreters.”

The idea that America is founded on diversity is false. America is entirely founded on disparity. For those who don’t have a dictionary of synonyms, diversity is not a synonym for disparity. You can take my word for that.

Certainly it cannot be disputed that America’s social landscape consists of much diversity. The history is there and descendants of diverse nationalities or races are the people who make up the population of America. But to go from “consists of” to “founded upon” is a leap off the proverbial cliff. It is totally misleading.

What controls and shapes America is not the diversity of the many races, or minorities representative of such races, but the disparity that exists between its social strata. That is what it is founded upon.

If we want to put a label on America’s foundation, disparity, we can safely call it greed. Greed of gargantuan and unapologetic proportions. Greed that is currently eating the nation alive.

Oh yes, before Jesus was unceremoniously dragged from the pulpit and ejected out the door on his face, he did manage to say this, “And I repeat again, the love of money is the root of all evil!” Then he mumbled under his breath as he picked himself up and brushed the small stones from his tunic, “I’ll be back!” and vanished.

This and That, Why Not?

As you may  have noticed, er, hm, I’m writing a story that seems to be turning into what is called a novel.  Why a novel?  No idea except that it’s not a novel idea.

Anyway, be that as it may and all the rest of the massacree, once in a while it’s good to just stop.  Catch your breath, stop chasing after those characters who can run circles around you and disappear in the blink of an eye and you can’t find them again.  So, I got ’em where I want ’em and I’m putting on the brakes and taking a break.

That being said, I found some questions in “THE” note book that I want to share, maybe get some feedback.

“Is an unenforceable law still a law?”

“If it is enforceable but no one wants to enforce it, is it still a law?”

“Is an idea that is in words only a valid concept?  or  Does it gain validity only when it is proven that it can be applied and that it works?”

“The future is not an extrapolation of the past, it’s doing things differently.”  Does that mean that when we don’t do things differently we are not moving into the future but living in the past?  I think that question is loaded and demanding scrutiny.

And a quote that most can probably identify with:

I look at my past life as at a field lit up by the sun when it breaks through the clouds, and I note with metaphysical astonishment how my most deliberate acts, my clearest ideas, and my most logical intentions were after all no more than congenital drunkenness, inherent madness, and huge ignorance. I didn’t even act anything out. I was the role that got acted. – Fernando Pessoa

And that’s all folks!



The Portal of Impressions

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

We step through the Portal of Impressions and the wait is short to our heart feeling things we can know about only in this place.

I was reading just now, and it opened the Portal, oh, just for an instant but long enough for my curious mind to slip in, taking me in also. Down the rabbit hole.

Here I am, amongst Impressions. They make no sound, they just move about like smoke in a light breeze. Heavy. My reading must have attracted them.

Main impression, I’m about to die. I’m not surprised at this, it is something expected, perhaps even anticipated. Still, it manifests as heavy.

Death is a pretty definitive event. I have often wondered if preparing for it is better, or wiser, than simply ignoring it and letting it take its course.

I don’t like surprises, least of all one as portentous as death. I don’t want to be caught unawares, foolishly believing I have time when it’s all been used up.

Time and death, they are accomplices as well as liars. Time tells us we have him for all the world. Death hides in the shadows smiling at our gullibility.

Amongst Impressions nothing is hidden. All is exposed but there is no chronology here. Pick and choose, pick and choose. Listen to your heart, it knows.

Impression of imminent death passes. The silence remains. The heart beats unconcerned. I turn and the Portal opens. I walk out into the silent moonlight.

Everything falls back into place. The Mad Hatter is still in the White House. The Queen of Hearts remains at Buckingham Castle. I’m the same.


The Garbage Man

[a short story, by Sha’Tara]

CONTENTS DELETED – contact me via email: shatara@telus.net  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.










Le Theatre de l’Absurde

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

I’ve figured something else out from interacting with the world in the last few days, and from watching my own thoughts: we are all actors in…

(the) Theatre of the Absurd

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Theatre of the Absurd (French: théâtre de l’absurde [teɑtʁ(ə) də lapsyʁd]) is a post–World War II designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1950s, as well as one for the style of theatre which has evolved from their work. Their work focused largely on the idea of existentialism and expressed what happens when human existence has no meaning or purpose and therefore all communication breaks down. Logical construction and argument gives way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion, silence.[1]

Critic Martin Esslin coined the term in his 1962 essay “Theatre of the Absurd.”[2] He related these plays based on a broad theme of the Absurd, similar to the way Albert Camus uses the term in his 1942 essay, The Myth of Sisyphus.[3] The Absurd in these plays takes the form of man’s reaction to a world apparently without meaning, and/or man as a puppet controlled or menaced by invisible outside forces. This style of writing was first popularized by the 1952 Samuel Beckett play Waiting for Godot. Though the term is applied to a wide range of plays, some characteristics coincide in many of the plays: broad comedy, often similar to vaudeville, mixed with horrific or tragic images; characters caught in hopeless situations forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions; dialogue full of clichés, wordplay, and nonsense; plots that are cyclical or absurdly expansive; either a parody or dismissal of realism and the concept of the “well-made play“. These plays were shaped by the political turmoil, scientific breakthrough, and social upheaval going on in the world around the playwrights during these times.

While absurdists believed that life is absurd, they also believed that death and the “after life” were equally absurd if not more, and that whether people live or not all of their actions are pointless and everything will lead to the same end (hence the repetitiveness in many of these absurdist plays).

In his 1965 book, Absurd Drama, Esslin wrote:

The Theatre of the Absurd attacks the comfortable certainties of religious or political orthodoxy. It aims to shock its audience out of complacency, to bring it face to face with the harsh facts of the human situation as these writers see it. But the challenge behind this message is anything but one of despair. It is a challenge to accept the human condition as it is, in all its mystery and absurdity, and to bear it with dignity, nobly, responsibly; precisely because there are no easy solutions to the mysteries of existence, because ultimately man is alone in a meaningless world. The shedding of easy solutions, of comforting illusions, may be painful, but it leaves behind it a sense of freedom and relief. And that is why, in the last resort, the Theatre of the Absurd does not provoke tears of despair but the laughter of liberation.


Advice to Writers, Readers, Editors…

[PS: (that’s not Post Script, it’s Pre Script – thought I’d make that up to give some texture to the confusion.)  Every great piece of writing needs a preface.  So I’m prefacing this great work with this advice to self:  “Lighten up!” Oh no… I’m levitating…!]

as well as what to say when you’re born (should the opportunity arise again) and when you die (which opportunity is still clocked  at the likelihood of 100%, and really, when faced with two choices, it’s good to know that at least one is firmly in the realm of the possible.)

The greatest hint ever, for all you wanna-be book writers out there, straight from the mouth of Steven Wright:

“I’m writing a book.  So far I’ve got all the page numbers down.  All I need to do is fill in the words.”

And for those of you who think you can be editors and do several books at once because, well, you’re really good at reading, again from our hero, Steven:

“I’m in hospital right now. [pause] I was involved in a speed-reading accident. [pause]  I hit a bookmark and I went flying across the room.”

…closing this inane thing with what may well be (for the moment) my favourite S W (that’s Steven Wright, not South West) quote about quotes:

I wish, when I was first born, the first thing I said was “Quote” so the last thing I said before I died would be “Unquote.”
Steven Wright