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It Was Friday 13th Two Years Ago And COVID Was In The Air

In my manuscript, There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth  I finished a chapter about the ‘elderly Dutchmen party with Alison Alexandra’ on Friday 13th. I took a trip and, on 19th March, began what turned out to be nearly a full year of Pandemic writing.The next chapter of the novel begins “In times of Pandemic, one of Alison Alexandra’s greatest worries is being bored.”

I started planning to write about the Pandemic the day after I heard that China was constructing hospitals solely devoted to COVID patients. I knew then the world was going to be in a lot of trouble. I was proved right.

 This is how that chapter began.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In times of Pandemic, one of Alison Alexandra’s greatest worries is being bored. And though she doesn’t want to test the theory, she believes she would rather be ill than bored.

“I’d step lightly there,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.

“You would?”

“I would,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost. “And I know what I’m talking about. Yes – I do.”

Within the week of Wuhan City in China being shut down, and the building of emergency hospitals to house the sick, Alison Alexandra knew this would inevitably become the fate of the world. It might have intruded a bit more quickly than she has anticipated, but not by much.

Alison Alexandra of course thinks about the Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”. But she also knows that this is a phrase in English that has no Chinese equivalent. The closest curse in Chinese is “Better to be a dog in peacetime than a human in time of war”.

“I won’t argue with that,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.

And she doesn’t.

So, it was at the beginning of the Chinese curse that Alison Alexandra sets her plan into motion. It is simple, though dependent on circumstance.

Alison Alexandra arranges to get those with whom she’d like to share the End Times – if End Times they prove to be – to join her at her house and wait out the famine with a feast or two. Or three.

“I don’t think the End Times are supposed to be good times,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost/

“Not to put too fine a point on it,” says Alison Alexandra. “But aren’t you supposed to know?”

“Point taken,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.

Dead And Drowned And Waiting To Go Home

It was another body,

Washed up,

On the rocks.

There are a number every year,

Coming in on the waves.

A fisherman by his garb.

You can’t tell anything

From his face,

Or extremities.

Food for fishes.

I put up two flags,

For assistance

And for death.

Some incoming boat

Will heave to,

And take the remains

To port.

I used the  peavey, 

To get him out of the water,

And rolled him in a tarpaulin,

And left him in the trench

I’ve dug

For just this reason.

Then I sang

Nearer, My God, to Thee“,

Because,

What else can I do?

I wished Sister Darling

Was here,

To say proper prayers.

I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2022 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report}

DE BA. UEL

A House of Dreams Becomes a House of Ghosts

A photo which floated past on the internet this morning, also made this segment of one of my novels float past.

From “He Lives In The City / He Drives To The Country”

It had been a house of dreams, it was now a house of ghosts.

   Ghosts tranquil and benign peered through the dusty upper windows, stood in wait behind the boarded doors. The dreams of long ago, which had tumbled down the stairs, and frolicked through the rooms, were now memories in the minds of ghosts.     

   The ghosts were themselves memories, destined to further fade with each new birth. But there would be no births in this house, as it slid inexorably toward decay. The lackluster brown shingles would be more smudged, the remaining panes of old glass would break, the floors would warp and collapse, the unkept roof would succumb to the years of harsh weather. 

     Even the `No Trespass’ sign was barely legible. Then where would the ghosts go?

     Blaine left his car and walked toward the house. 

     If he had eyes to see, who would be there to greet him?  Would children’s dreams, fair-haired and boisterous, burst through the front door and surround him in games of tag and laughter?  Would he get caught by their enthusiasm (would he become a child himself), and race behind the trees, burrow into the hay, hide between the bins of potato and turnip, intent not to be `it’. 

     Or would he meet the ghosts, quiet and tentative at the top of the steps, moving slowly with their uncertain smiles. Would they greet him with a wave, invite him into their warm-smelling kitchens, offer him fresh tea, and squares right out of the pan?  Would he sit in the stream of fall sunlight flowing across the well-oiled floor, and talk about childhood?

     Blaine walked part way up the drive before he stopped.

     He knew what lay beyond the boarded windows, and the sagging door upon its rusty hinges. Wallpaper would be water-stained, and curling off the plaster walls. There would be lumps of refuse in the corners of the rooms, with one inevitable rusty bedframe lying on its side. There would be gaps in the ceiling, where beams of sunlight shimmered through motes of dust. There would be holes in the baseboards, where earnest rodents made comfortable homes.

     There would be musty smells offering a hint of long-ago meals, and something gone bad in the pantry. There would be one upper window (at the back) which still had a tattered lace  curtain, half obscuring what had once been totally private. At night he would hear bats.

     It was not this house he had come to see, of course. Of course, not this derelict house, which he knew could never be restored, and which was so beyond help even death slept while visiting. 

What Will Survive?

The anti-Christ & Hershey’s Kisses

Commander-in-Chief Putin Needs All of His Masks To (Perhaps) Survive

I have updated this post from an earlier year, by making a number of cuts, and changing the name of the character to Putin. Waste not, want not.  I believe this character remains suitably ridiculous, but is now dangerous beyond my imagination.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Commander-in-Chief  Putin decided it would be a grand day to become Admiral of the Fleet – Lord High Admiral, if he chose the hat with cockade and plume.

The plume put on an impressive display, as he either agreed (or disapproved) with a toss (or a shake) of his head. The dancing ostrich feathers would add a dashing air as he boarded his flagship. He would, of course, be extra careful about the pitfalls awaiting a small man, with ornate dress sword and scabbard, among the steep steps and narrow companionways.

Wednesday is khaki day for Commander-in-Chief Putin.

It was the day set aside to remind him of the loyalty he must always retain from his men. What is a leader without his troops? As a treat – for really, dull brown did not make a striking appearance – he would choose the tank commander’s uniform.

With its wide web belt and shiny black holster on the hip, the flap unsnapped, to reveal the butt of a MP-443 Grach, or “Rook”.  And  black leather gloves.. And a steel helmet polished to a mirror-shine.

The riding crop? Ah, the riding crop was debatable.

Today Commander-in-Chief Putin will have a parade.

Massed men at attention with stiffly-held rifles and fixed bayonets.

Commander-in-Chief Putin would have to choose carefully. to represent his awesome power and responsibility. Cavalry boots are a must, raising half-way up the calf, resounding with silver spurs, steel-tipped toes and elevated heels.

Then would come crisp black trousers, billowing majestically around the thighs, kept up with a wide leather belt. He took care that each red stripe reaching the length of each leg was as straight as an arrow.

His blue tunic, he decided, would have only muted decorations, with the minimum of gold braid entwined about his shoulders. He is – after all – a fighting general.

The Biggest Crow In Christendom Lands On Partridge Island

The biggest Crow

I ever did see

Is roosting

On the tallest tree

On Partridge Island.

I’m guessing for a day,

Or two,

Of rest.

Wingspan beyond belief.

He won’t find much

Winter fare to eat,

Except carrion.

And they do like clams.

But their choice of seeds,

And nuts and berries,

Is not available.

Nor insects,

Though they’ll dig for them.

But a taste of a small animal,

Might be very tempting.

So, I will keep

Paw, my cat/kitten

Black as a crow

With one white mitten,

In his carry case

Whilst the crow visits.

And,

You know,

My cat/kitten

Has not made one

Complaint.

I’m The Lighthouse Poet Laureate of Partridge Island /1821 – 2022 / A lot of stuff have I seen / A lot of stuff to report}

DE BA. UEL

Although I Judge, I Never Pass Sentence

In Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the ‘missing’ diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. There are some estimates that Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

02 February 1917

Their faces – sometimes.

I am not a man to cry (am barely capable of it) but those times when I see their faces. The social cast gone, and they think themselves unobserved.

They have such a revelation that they do not care – or, more accurately, they are beyond caring. A bewildering revelation. A truth, which once known, they can never escape.

They now know they can never escape.

Perhaps, because I observe more, I see more.

Or, perhaps the less resilient come through the doors of the Institute, with their injuries and their needs. Perhaps it is this war.

Perhaps they somehow know that although I judge, I never pass sentence.

When I see this look upon their faces – the fear of life itself.

Putin And Satan Walk Into A Bar In Kiev On The Way To Hell

~ Vladimir, Vladimir, who’s being a bad boy?

~ I protect all the Russias.

~ Who’s your daddy?

~ They tell me it is you.

~ Then don’t lie to your father.

~ Why?

~ It only makes the dark side darker.

~ But I must lie to get what I want.

~ And what do you want?

~ To be loved.

~ You are too vile to be loved.

~ Even by my father?

~ Who art in Hell. Hollow be my name.

~ I will at least make them respect me.

~ Or kill them in the process.

~ Of course – it is what they deserve.

~Tell me.

~ What?

~ What do you really want?

~ To be taller.

~ That sounds true.

~ My shadow stretches over the world.

~ Yet your body barely blocks the light.

~ I will be noticed.

~ You will be trampled.

Putin and Hitler Walk Into a Bar in Ukraine On the Way to Hell

~ Impaler, how are you doing?

~ Just fine, Adolf – how are you?

~ Missing the old days.

~ Why do you call me Impaler?

~ Vlad the Impaler – the perfect bloodthirsty tyrant

~ You were no slouch, Adolf.

~ Ja – but you are a good student.

~  Better than you, Adolf.

~ What makes you think that?

~ I’m going to win.

~ No – not possible.

~ Why do you say that?

~ I at least believed in something.

~ What was that?

~ Myself.

~ They know I am great,

~ You are despised, Impalier.

~ So were you, Adolf.

~ But I didn’t care.

~ But I am feared.

~ Not enough. Your reign will be short.

~ I have ruled for a long time.

~ But you used to know when to stop.

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