Category Archives: Fiction

When the Farmer Calls a Hunter

A prominent farmer wandered the local market, running into another farmer.  The other farmer said, “I’ve sighted wolves near the forest between our lands.  Be careful.  I don’t know how many there are.  They could become dangerous.”  The farmer replied, “Thank you for the information.  I will see what I can do.”

The farmer brought two sheepdogs to his farm to protect his sheep.  He believed in being prepared and could use the extra help in controlling the sheep around the pasture.  One day, the wolves attacked.  One sheepdog fought them and was wounded.  The other sheepdog, believing its life more important, ran away.  Two sheep died because of the cowardice sheepdog.

The farmer now had a new problem.  His good sheepdog was injured and there were surely more wolves.  He now only had a useless sheepdog that refused to fight, though it would still control the sheep; its spine only strong enough to bend the will of weaker animals.  The farmer had to make a new plan, since his farms guardians could not contain the evils of the woods, for the farmer knew nothing of fighting.

He contacted the local hunter, a warrior, well versed in killing.  He told the hunter he would pay him to destroy the wolves.  The hunter said, “I will use traps and take them out easily.”  The farmer said, “No.  My sheep fear traps. I fear traps. They are not humane. You must engage the wolves on my terms.  You must sign this contract.”  The hunter signed and said, “This agreement may get me injured.  If that happens, due to your instructions, you will be held responsible.”  The farmer retorted, “As long as my sheep having nothing to fear, I am fine with what may come.”

The hunter delved into the dark woods, searching for the wolf pack.  He found them in a heavily dense area; one he could not well maneuver in.  They hide within a lingering fog, gliding low to the ground.  He readied for the assault as he knew it was too late.  The wolves had the upper hand, trapping him with their numbers.  They leapt at him, causing his face to be maimed, his body torn, and his anger to rise.  His weapon fired; his blade swiftly stabbed.  He killed all of the wolves, taking their pelts as proof.  Weary and spent, he began his journey back.

When the hunter returned to the farm, he wore the wolf fur across his shoulders.  The rest were bound and wrapped above his pack.  The sheep were horrified.  The farmer rushed out to meet him, seeing the shock in his flocks’ eyes.  “Don’t scare my sheep! Why do you wear such trophies?  I will compensate you for your losses, but please hide the blood and fur,” he wailed.  The hunter stood before the farmer and replied, “Killing is not the business of sheep.”

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The Burning of Mulberry Bridge

Small towns spring up in the craziest places sometimes.  Often the reason is forgotten.  Someone may have travelled to a point and given up.  They may have made a camp and just never left.  The area might have been really nice or just nice enough to not care about wanting more.  Maybe it wasn’t nice at all.  They were just stuck there.

No one gets to choose where they were born.  No one gets to choose their family.  Some people will go through their life with no thought towards this issue.

Somewhere in the eastern United States, two bridges stood far apart over a muddy river.  One bridge, Mulberry Bridge, was wooden and old.  It was worn down, creaking; it could barely support a passing car.  The other bridge was new, concrete and steel.  It was built for bad weather; meant to last for many years.  The two were polar opposites.  Built for similar purposes, they had completely different types of destinations.  One was built in haste, the other with dedication.

Mulberry Bridge connected a family to the rest of the world.  It was the only way onto their property.  They were fierce about their land, even plotting against one another for it.  They had no idea that no one else cared to own it.  They didn’t even realize that no one visited.  They all lived in the happy bliss of ignorance.  The show Days of Our Lives, could take notes from them, these masters of puppetry and oratory arts.  They plotted and schemed, ostracizing those that went against the grain.

The old bridge connected them to reality, jutting up to a major highway.  People passed the bridge, wondering why no one would fix it.  Can’t they at least put some paint on it, replace the railing, or try to make the sides match in height?  No, no one was ever going to fix that bridge.  It was the monument to the lives of those living on the opposite side.  Decaying, rotting at the stanchions; it surely couldn’t stand for long?  It could; it was in that shape years ago, longer than anyone could remember.  Mulberry Bridge had been standing on its last leg for decades.  A sane person wouldn’t attempt to drive across it.  The boards that ran the length, two strips just for tire guides, looked like they were not even nailed down.  Some bent upwards, making it impossible to drive quickly.

The wood of the bridge was so old that it powdered on the running boards.  The pillar legs looked fossilized.  Debris was stuck in the stanchions; left from some rain that caused the water to rise that high.  The river below, slowly creeping, didn’t have a history of fishing quality.  Alligator gar infested the waters, along with some small brim.  The banks were steep with broken portions of sandstone extending out; shelves for the turtles and snakes; cluttered brush and debris with random trash.

The bridge up the river, made by a single man, was newly erected.  The bridges were not close together; you couldn’t see one from the other.  They were only close enough to each other to know of the others existence.  The concrete bridge was wide, built solid and superbly tested.  It was engineered for longevity.  Trials on many types of bridges had been conducted by military engineers for centuries.  Their knowledge and applied science went into the construction of this testament to the will of man.  This bridge wasn’t going anywhere.

There would be no legacy of Mulberry Bridge.  Though it stood through many trials and tribulations, its boards absorbing all of the trauma and history around it; the days were numbered from the start.  It only took one spark.  One loss and the whole bridge went up in flames.  It burned for hours, until nothing was left; only scorched earth on each embankment.  The man that made the concrete bridge, once being part of the troubled family passed Mulberry Bridge, burned the decrepit bridge, locking the fools in.  They were now on their own, alone.  What goes around, surely comes back around.  This time, Mulberry Bridge will never be rebuilt; the concrete bridge will forget that there was ever another option to cross.  The eye sore will not be missed by those that passed by on their daily errands.  It will be forgotten, lost to time like so many things before it.

The bridges are only a connection, from one thing to another.  We put them in place to make things convenient, to travel; but roads go both ways.  When no one travels a certain direction, there no longer needs to be a bridge; there is no connection.  It takes effort and work to maintain a bridge, a connection.  If two cities are connected by a bridge, which one pays for it?  It should be both, but that isn’t the reality of the world.  It isn’t the reality of families, of parents, of friends.  Will someone will always pay more? You don’t have to.

 

 

Photo  courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/28003761@n02/10527553094

Given Hands

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I have spent a lot of time tracing the scars on my hands. I can remember most of them for good or bad. The shade of skin tells me how old. The numbness tells me how bad the damage was at the time. Have you ever caught yourself staring at your hands? They are the maps to our past; roadways written in scars. When we make a fist, we can remember when we had to use it. We can remember if we shook someone’s hand; awkwardly accepting them. We gage how a situation has affected us by the shaking of our hands from fear. I was taught at a young age to expect to make my way in life by the strength of my hands.

When I was young, my grandfather talked about what he could do with his hands. He was a big man built to run a farm; big arms burst sleeves of his uniform; big hands gripped handles to build fence. He taught me how to be a mechanic. I quickly learned how to bust my knuckles with a wrench. I spent a lot of time passing him tools and watching his hands go to work.

His generation knew what it meant to use their hands. They built cities, settled disputes, made friends, and waged war with their hands. Respect was given with a salute. A hand shake meant an oath. A fist was formed to stop a fight, not start one. A slap on the shoulder was a sign of good work. Identity for each person was found in the finger tips.

Today is different. Hands are not sacred anymore. Now everyone believes in words; words they hear or words they say. Words mean nothing in passing. Actions are the only things that matter. Actions are put into motion by hands. Written word is created by hands. To speak does not make you bold; to ramble does not make you wise; to blurt does not make you exciting, but you can hold someone; that makes you strong. You can tie a child’s shoe. You can throw a dog a ball. You can ask for a wrench from a young child, and show them what you are about to fix. Be that change in life.

Faith is seen in the form of praying hands; the hands that toil. Even the faithless are linked to us by their hands. Bound, we are tied together on this plane. Hand in hand, we walk the path. Remember your hands the next time you feel down. Use them to pull yourself back up. Reach for the things that words cannot describe. Latch on to life and point your own direction.

Wayland

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Shadows have more light than my soul. I don’t even remember a time when I felt truly happy. I can’t remember much at all. I know where I started for the most part; there just seems to be so many points in between that have gone blank. Like a film being edited, my mind seems to be missing whole sections of importance.

Why did I move to Texas? Work has motivated most of my decisions in life. Austin was nice. I should have stayed there. I liked the bar on 6th street that played 80’s music. The kid making paintings with spray paint always drew a crowd. I have never seen anything quite like that. Why does that memory stick with me? I could never make friends there.

I wish I would have spent more time in Ireland. The people there were so nice to me. I actually felt like I fit in for once in my life. Sitting in the bars in Dublin made for a change of pace. The beaches on the coast of Bree had no sand. I’m done with sand. I hadn’t been able to go to a beach in years till I saw that place. I enjoy the sea. Seeing the waves and feeling the tiny pebbles under my feet set me back a few years.

My name is Clarence Wayland and I am dying. The pavement was cold at first. It was damp from yesterday’s rain. I’m laid out in this forsaken parking lot. Now I am damp but I feel no chill. The bullet caught me in the chest. I am losing blood. I need to reach my kit and get out of sight. I can’t stop my right hand from shaking. I have to fish my kit out with my left. I keep an evac kit in my cargo pocket. Unfortunately it’s on my right leg.

He can’t see me. He must have shot as soon as I cleared the corner of that gas station. He’s in the pharmacy across the street; third floor, second window. I can put a little of the quick clotting agent on and stop this bleeding for now. Bring the pain little powder. I designed this fluid to douse blood so it cannot be traced. I’ve lost a lot of blood so I hope this small bottle is enough. That is all of my evac kit. Time to go to work.

An amateur must have been sent for me. He made a sad choice for a rifle. The bullet passed straight through; high speed, small projectile. If I live, he will regret that decision. I need to crawl back to my car. I hate rentals but when you travel so much, there is nothing you can do about it. I keep a rifle under the front bumper. I know he has already left his position. I just need to get my rifle and head to the building behind me. He will circle around to see my body.

This place reminds me of cancer; corrupt and dying. This whole town is a waste. I had to drive out here to nowhere Kansas. Why do people even live here? I need to take this man alive. I want to know why he shot me. I also like to hurt those that shoot at me, so we will see how this plays out. My right shoulder blade is grinding. I think my lung was nicked as well. Good solid center mass shot, sort of. A normal person would probably be dead by now.

I need to remind myself not to lean on any of these walls. I don’t have any more fluid to cover my blood. I keep bumping into things down this alley. Here we go, a fire escape. This will be painful. I’ve never been a fan of latters or stairs. I will always take an elevator even if I’m only going up one floor. Call me lazy but it’s a logistical thing. Save your energy; save your knees.

This is a wide open roof. Not much to hide behind. I won’t be staying up here anyway. It is too obvious. I cross the roof to the far left side. There is an overhang and a short ledge. I found a piece of tarp on my way. This ledge will get me down to balcony. It hurts so much to slide over. No one lived here, which is good. I don’t need the added drama at the moment. There are some old pots. They must have had plants in them a long time ago. I lay down between two and cover myself with the tarp. My rifle pokes out but only barely.

I hope I made it here in time. Speak of the devil. There he is with only a hand gun. Fool. He must have cut back a block and made it through another alley. He is trying to cross the street to the alley I used. Tough luck. One shot dead center and he is down. I’m going to take my time getting down. He is laying between two cars and no one can see him.

I get him back in the alley between two dumpsters. Now we get to the meat and potatoes.

“Who sent you?”

“I’m not telling you anything…..”

“You don’t have to die (I’m lying). You are American so that narrows down the customers. I’m guessing you are a mop up for that little company I did a job for a few weeks ago. They didn’t tell you I freelance for much bigger fish did they? No, what a stupid bunch.”

“You are done. Just a throw away tool…..”

“No buddy. You were the throw away.”

I find proof in his wallet. He had a receipt from a gas station in the company’s home town. It was a small favor I did by working for them. A friend in the government asked me to help them out. Who knew they would try to play the big leagues? They won’t be playing anything much longer. I push his body into one of the dumpsters. I need something to eat. I’m starting to get faint from all of this. A cheeseburger sounds good. My name is Clarence Wayland and I won’t die today.

The Norsemen

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The Norsemen landed in the dead of night and by morning most of the sea village was already burned to the ground. The fire didn’t last long as there was no one to try and put it out. The only thing left was charred wood, stone, and smoke. The bodies of the slain were piled on a pyre and burned before the heathens marched on. They had some form of decency to do that, maybe due to the need to burn a few of their own. A young boy had escaped in the beginning of the raid. He made it to the next town and alerted the magistrate. Troops from all over were dispatched to combat the horde. Townsfolk were worried that they would not meet them in time. The boy was asked if he knew how many of the enemy had made land fall. He said he could not tell but they were large and would forever haunt his dreams.

The Norsemen captured a hunter and found out about the troops through unpleasant techniques. They decided not to continue the raiding as a more worthy prize had shown itself. They built a camp and began to hunt and fish to stave off boredom. There was no reason to hurry or go looking for the gathered troops. The prize would come to them.

The soldiers gathered in two days time. Scouts had identified that the Norsemen were still at camp and had not moved for odd reasons. The commanders of the well drilled force were delighted at this news. They believed them to be sick or injured and an easy prey. They planned their battle for the next morning in hopes to raid the raiders so to speak. Both camps were in wooded areas with only a small field open between them. Down the center of the field ran a road for travelers. They would line up on the edge of their wooded side and cross in mass toward the enemy camp. The commanders slept that night knowing they would show these intruders no mercy.

The next morning there was a dense fog through the trees. The sun was barely breaking when the troops lined up for their march. Along the wood line, the men scanned the field and could see only fog. They began to walk forward as the sun broke cover and the fog began to clear. Only a few steps were made before they could see their prey had massed along the other wood line. Horns erupted and the enemy moved at speed to meet them. This startled many of the men, to know their foe was prepared all along. Some did not fear as the enemy seemed too few in numbers. The force was barely fifty men. They had four hundred.

The battle was met at the road after arrows did not slow the Norsemen down. Their small shields stopped all but a handful and those did no real damage. Ten minutes into the fighting and a hundred men lay dead. Lucky for the troops, half of the heathens were down and most of the rest were being pushed back, all but five. Five of them held their own. They stood alone in various places of the fight, surrounded by the dead they had slain. Like islands to themselves with shores of dead bodies, they were only touched by the waves of blood.

A strong willed commander saw the nearest and wished to turn the morale around by besting one of these brazen warriors. He approached the dead shores and yelled his challenge to the man. The man stood alone with his sword and shield down. He nodded acceptance to the young commander. Upon those shores he ended the young soldiers’ life in mere seconds.

In another area, a lone killer was standing atop his island as well. He wore no armor, was shaven of head but long of beard. He had broken his shield on some mans skull. He stood with only his axe in hand. A troop with a pike arm stormed at him from the crowd. He side stepped the pike and sent his axe in an uppercut through the man’s jaw. The axe slid clean through and on a return stroke, caught the man in the neck to end his life. The hulking killer went back to standing on his given island in solitude once more.

With two hundred men left and the battle only grinding them down, the soldiers of the combined counties of the noble lord drew back to the woods. The enemy did not follow. Shortly after, the enemy left the field and returned to their camp to begin packing to return to their ship. A man was sent to the troops to give them a warning. The two remaining commanders demanded to speak to the man alone. They asked who the five warriors were. The man said they were the five brothers sworn to the king by a blood oath. The men that were killed from the heathens were only the slaves. The ones that remained were the youngest warriors to the king. They were the kings scouting force and only included the five warriors of true age. The kings army ranged into one thousand men of fighting age and a fleet of raiding vessels. His army was to be there in three days time. The sea village was only burned to serve as a smoke signal to the fleet. The battle was only fought because the brothers needed to stretch their arms. Shock was apparent on both of the commanders’ faces. They asked why they would do this to them. The man said as he walked away that the scouts wanted to give the prey a head start before the real chase began.

The five brothers came to the king after all of the villages and towns had been razed. He gifted them with furs and food from the spoils of war. As they prepared their ships to return home he stopped them one last time. He told his sons that their mother would be proud to see how mighty they had become and next year he hoped that they would lead the raids. The five brothers grinned to each other and the shaven haired killer spoke to his father saying next year you need only send your sons.