A Little Different Kind of Short Story to Share

I want to occasionally share some of my writings with my followers.  This is from Twisted Vine: An Anthology and in my 99 cents romantic Kindle booklet, The Gift of Oneself.  It is one of my favorites.  It would be interesting to learn how you interpret it and if you like it.  Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts.  I really don’t bite back.The_Gift_of_Oneself_Cover_for_Kindle

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DUAL SEASONS IN TIME

It wasn’t always like this. Or was it?

These thoughts invaded me, foreign in my mind yet known to me, as I came into a new consciousness in a different world than I’d previously known.

The light was pure and the same all around me as I looked down upon the pristine whiteness of my own beautiful body. It lay flat out on its side, my magnificent tail spread as strands of pure silk, long and flowing, my thick mane flung above my head and neck.

In my gaze from above I beheld my form, once so well known to me, but now with legs outstretched, bent slightly at the knees, hocks and lower joints. My strength, once so pervasive, was replaced with this lightness I now felt and could have never imagined.

I stared from above, confused. But I seemed also reclined in this dormant state in the midst of the sleeping grasses and wildflowers. There I lay between the golden leafed branches within our ancient apple orchard.

How did this happen?

A thought, as before, came from somewhere inside me, yet was not truly my own as I wondered at my surroundings. All was familiar, yet as foreign as the thought invading my new awareness.

Golden leaves grabbed by a strange breeze drifted from the trees to swirl about the body I once filled to gently touch it. They left random fingerprints of gold. My sight focused on this picture within the center of an encircling blurred vision as I drew closer. There was a sparkle of light reflecting in the dark lens of my unseeing eye, as I noted the white lashes were unmoving.

From this sad end my gaze rose to clear view taking in a curious object at the end of the long narrow lane between the wide rows of grouped trees. A pull toward it didn’t fill me with the fright I once would have known, for there lay my mistress, as prone as I, on her back.

As I, also she, lay with bent limbs at the elbow and knee, her head turned to its side, her long yellow hair spread among the blades poking through the curling tips. Her gaze was steady, unblinking, but with the same glint of light I’d seen in my own.

Don’t leave me. I can change this outcome.

The message again flowed through me as time turned back to reveal our steps to this fate. Sound replayed backward garbling words shouted as I watched this memory in wonder. Time’s back flow sped our backward steps to the source of this tragedy.

The strap to my leather halter rose from where it lay as if a spark of life had entered. It put itself back into the hand once gripping its loops, as I arose without struggle to stand again. The fall I never felt, pushing the air from my lungs, was reversed so I once again stood proud and bold. I watched from outside of myself, held by the strength of another as this memory unfolded.

Flashes of two times and places interchanged as the sameness of the events revealed one event could happen again. I remembered with the thoughts of those who had lived both.

And I again heard my names called in two similar voices, only the language spoken differing.

Neopolito! Sovereign!

Two of each figure, interchangeable, flashing between one time to the other, retraced our steps.

First I was Neopolito, stallion of the old guard, an ancient breed, then Sovereign, new world created, tall with flying strides. The first born black, as I recalled my youth, prancing around my white-coated dam with the springiness and lightheartedness of the carefree. The second, bright chestnut, I pranced just the same, feeling free to buck and rear on my elongated young legs.

A former mistress also now stood with the countenance of a Spanish beauty— dark flowing locks and smooth olive complexion with a piercing look often expressed by her violet eyes. Interchanged within the flow of time was my mistress of pale beauty, appearing fragile, yet strong, as a solid crystal figurine.

Manuel held my lead, his dark features glum with the heavy pistol hanging from his gentle hand. Then Carlton’s handled me, his face angry with a pistol also in his hand. We both walked from the spot where I had laid, striding backwards after we’d turned in unison to return in our back stepping to where we had come from.

There was a cart to which I would be strapped to escape with my dark mistress and her Manuel, back and forth replaced in my sight with the white truck and trailer I would load into for Carlton’s escape with my fair lady.

Faster the time sped back as another man, twice told, the same yet different, released his hold in reverse on our ladies. Their backward sounding screams were more eerie than when forward they’d sent a shiver of fear through both of my selves. This time my anxiousness of misunderstanding was replaced with the calm trust always held for those who cared for me as this back flow in time erased the coming memory of fear, the bitter man reversing his steps.

Garbled words from all three, both times making six, filled an exchange apparently harsh, angry and pleading in nature. The angry man flowed back with time to his concealment site. The ladies were handed leads returned in awkward replayed gestures from secret lovers who would now stand watching our reversed approach in the misty dawn.

I proceeded back in both forms, as times overlapped, at a long trot as the ladies held both the leather leads and locks of long mane. Her steps were carried by my strength as she matched me stride for stride, hanging from the lock wrapped around her tiny hand in both time scenes.

Then I remembered, reaching a turning point for both scenes where events would again move forward with time. An ending I sensed I now knew gave wonder as I perceived from my new outside view.

She’d come quietly, speaking softly, so I answered with a low nicker. She placed my halter on my head, in unison with both times, after I bent down as two for both of her. I was led from the security of my stable to questionable futures.

Both my forms and both my ladies, raced from their separate stables—one near the stone castle and the other beside a formidable house.

We flew together around fences, through gates and over meadows to the orchard. Upon approach of our destination, we saw the man we trusted as he stood waiting and watching.

A quick embrace, our rush to escape was again halted by the angry man bursting from his concealment with his pistol. Harsh bitter words were again exchanged, followed by pleading.

The lover, being the servant of the man, was humbled to obedience. He was given the pistol with an order as our mistress was held screaming.

I was led by Manuel with this new anxiety as her voicing of fear and anguish quickened my steps. When we turned to face my sobbing lady, the angry man now gleeful, I felt nothing of my death, the gleeful man now laughing maniacally when my Spanish mistress screamed. But a new memory held me living as Carlton raised the pistol to my ear, but turned to fire instead toward the master he denied.

I jumped as both shots rang out, echoing their duel song in a different key of like instruments. In the former time I was deaf to the two other shots of the musket, but in this other time the short popping of a different kind of weapon resounded only once, and it was not into my ear.

* * *

There I lay in my pristine whiteness, my ethereal view rising from the scene as time sped up to remove my glory in exchange for scattered bones. From my heightened visage I saw the other forms also changed. My mistress fading within her brocade vest and loose black breeches at the end of the narrow aisle of trees, struck in error with a faulty shot when Manuel aimed at their accuser. Slowly I awakened to another form, near mine, which once housed Manuel, pistol still in hand. He’d taken his own life in despair. Both became as I in our destitute forms but our spirits rose to become renewed as others in this, a later time and place.

We can change this outcome.

I recognized the thought coming from my first mistress calling to Carlton through the ether of time.

Another trial of sameness was provided for choice and betterment, my only purpose as a pawn, beloved by two and hated with perverse jealousy by one. This was the time when a bullet never entered my ear, but flew, instead, to the temple of the manic pretender who held my sobbing mistress, looking over her distorted sad features with glee.

Barely clear of her own ear the impact and physical reactions knocked her prone on her back to the vision I’d previously beheld, the two times overlapping for an instant as in my first viewing.

“Savannah!” Carlton yelled, leading me, Sovereign, back to her side. She rose with his aid and we traveled far.

* * *

In a former time an old man mourned the loss of his daughter and her favorite horse, both killed by a jealous servant. But in this time a pistol was found in the hands of the estate owner in his orchard, apparent suicide after his daughter disappeared, escaping his brutal hand against the love he’d forbade.

Her prized stallion was also missing.

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A Short Story for Your Weekend

I made a request on my Facebook sites for a request of which book I could post the first chapter(s) for everyone to read.  I got no response at all.  Maybe FB didn’t share that posting, as it chooses.  Anyway, I’ve decided to post a short story instead.  Most of the novels have the first several chapters available on the “See Inside” feature on Amazon, so if anyone wants to read the beginnings of any of my publications they can do it there.

This short story is included in my anthology, Twisted Vine, and republished in The Gift of Oneself, a 99 cent Kindle (and booklet) of four romantic stories from the same anthology.  I hope you enjoy it.  I wrote it after the first sentence won 5th (reader’s choice) out of 10 finalists out of four thousand entries in one of Writer’s Digest’s monthly contests (#33, in case you can’t guess).  It’s been tweaked a bit.  I was at a point of giving up on writing when I won.  I got the message and have only now slowed down, but my writer’s lobe is always working even if I’m not doing anything except making notes.  It also appears in ‘Tis the Season, an anthology put together by the East Texas Writer’s Association, and printed by White Bird Publications.  I hope I get a few responses here, since WordPress shows over 1200 followers.

SWEET CHERIE PIE

 After my record thirty-third blind date calamity, I embedded my so-called lucky charm into a wad of my nephew’s Silly Putty and gave it my best Texas quarterback toss… out into the Hudson.

No more lucky charm, and no more blind dates, but I’ll have to take Andy another Silly Putty on my next visit to Roanoke. He can fill the new one with spaghetti, too, if he wants.

The faint aroma from my doggy bag reminded me of the long evening’s misfortune. I retrieved it from the bench to shuffle toward home. I was feeling mighty low.

It has to be me. She was lovely… but too practiced with that dismissal—a polished New York professional.

Cold shivers ran up my back shaking my shoulders. I wasn’t sure if it was an early autumn chill, or my mood. It generated a myriad of thoughts.

I guess I’ll never blend in, even with these Armani suits. I’ll start wearing my western cut suits again. Without an employer to tell me how to dress I could do that.

I kicked an imaginary rock with my tasseled Gucci loafer. My situation fell heavy as an old cloak over my shoulders.

Ah, get real, Joe, you chump. She brushed you off because the big cutbacks locked you out of the financial district. Gawd, she probably makes more than I ever did. Wonder if she saw me as the gold-digger? Katy’s not going to like my report on her “best choice” for me.

At least the chef accepted my compliments. Nice touch, the free dessert. Guess I’ll have hers for breakfast. Did I look desperate, taking the leftovers? I can’t believe she paid the bill. How low can a guy get?

I sighed deeply as I reached the corner, before hailing a cab.

It’ll be the subway soon.

Just the thought made me claustrophobic. I stopped the cabbie before he put his foot to the pedal, handing him a couple of bucks. I had to walk… get lost in the night’s crowds. The noise and bright lights were good. It kept me from thinking too much.

 * * *

A week later, after two curt interviews and nowhere else to go, I got a call from my best friend and old teammate, Jake. I hoped he didn’t have another prospect for me, unless it was job related.   Before he could get into it I spoke.

“You chose better than I did, Holtster. Being a doctor with lots of opportunities is better than being a financial whiz kid with no place to go.”

“Feeling sorry for yourself? Don’t worry so much, Magnetti. You can always stay with us till you get on your feet, but I think I’ve got just the cure.

“This one’s the one, bro.  Take it from your doctor friend, the guy who knows you best.”

Gotta be better than my sister, Katy’s, picks. My thought only allowed a moment for that disgruntled exasperation that comes from friends trying too hard to fix your life.

“O… kay,” I mumbled, “here we go again.”

I hesitated, slapping my forehead. My hand slowly rolled down over my face as I listened. He gave his best sales pitch ever. I finally gave in.

“Yeah, alright… okay, but only because she’s from Texas. And this is the last time.

“What is it with you married folks, anyway? Just because I didn’t have an old girlfriend to transplant to the big city like you did doesn’t mean I want one now. Hell, I’m jobless.

“The next time someone calls to arrange a blind date, or if this one’s as bad as the others, he’ll be put at the top of my Hit List.”

“Just make it apple this time, goofus. That’s my favorite.”

“I don’t know. Those juicy red globs looked pretty funny dripping down all over your face the last time.”

“That was to celebrate… a long time ago. And I still hate cherry pie, thanks to you. It’s only okay because we’re still friends.”

“Yeah… best ever… for life, Buddy. Just remember that when you have my pie all over your face again.”

* * *

This time I went as the down-home boy. Western cut suit with boots, Texas College, Texas football, love pickup trucks, horses and Waylon. Still miss my old dog. And when she entered the room I almost whooped like an old rodeo clown.

She was a real Texas beauty. No big city polish. Just warmth, and flavor, like biscuits and gravy, or… hot cherry pie.

Dinner was a typical New York steak, as close to home as I could get. She was Texas friendly, trying something more New Yorkish, as she put it. I made a few suggestions of my own favorites.

The conversation was all about the big state we both called home. She had some good stories to tell of recent events I’d missed. It made me homesick, but it was the first time I’d laughed on a New York date. She smiled big at my response and I melted.

Cherie, sweet Cherie pie. It was a warm thought.

I felt like the luckiest Joe on the planet, and it didn’t matter what state I was in. She liked me. And I liked her. We seemed two peas from the same patch.

We did it again, many times… the dinners, but also great walks in Central Park for long chats, eventually holding hands. The quiet moments were nice, too… comfortable and cozy, like thick socks on a winter’s cold floor.

We visited several museums, attended a play with a couple of my friends, a concert courtesy of my elderly neighbor, got guest invitations for a movie premier from an old colleague, saw all the national monuments and landmarks, then went crazy shopping… like tourists. It was fun, even the deli lunches, hot dog stands and feeding the pigeons.

We watched Good Morning, America on my small hand-held set sitting on a bench across the street below their big window. I brought my dad’s binoculars so she could see up close.

She talked openly with strangers in the crowd. Some finally warmed to her, but she made the cutest face when they didn’t. One older lady shared her hot cocoa after borrowing the binoculars, and we all laughed about our little early morning adventure.

My girl had the most beautiful, heart-warming laugh.

I’d never truly seen this amazing city before. It opened my eyes to see it through hers. No wonder I felt I’d never fit in. I would always be a tourist here.

Then she had to go back home… to Austin… my alma mater town. There were some exciting exchanges about familiar locations, past experiences and areas we each liked. It was all so good until she revealed her real purpose for her visit. I should have known. Everything was too perfect. She confessed during our last, most intimate moments.

She was on sabbatical, that was true, but it was for recovery from a long, hard bout of chemo. She assured me the cancer was gone, but there were no guarantees. She said she’d had a grand time; it wouldn’t have been the same without me and made me promise to keep in touch.

My heart sank.

I promised myself I wouldn’t let her go, even as I watched the plane disappear. But I was in that hard place nobody likes to be. The rock in my stomach didn’t help. It’d been the best weeks of my life. I didn’t want it to end.

* * *

Days of sitting in darkness followed, listening to Waylon’s saddest refrains.

I started pacing the apartment I was about to lose, unsure if I could be so bold. I couldn’t let it end, but my jobless status put indecision where gusto wanted to reign.

No one knows what tomorrow will bring, I kept telling myself. We’re not born with a guarantee stamped on our bottoms. And things can change for the better. I had to believe that or I couldn’t go through with it.

Jerking up the phone in desperation I called in a promise made years ago.

Then I called her. We talked a long time.

* * *

Later, with my package next to me on the seat, I called Jake from the cab on my way to his uptown apartment.

“I have something to ask of you, bro.” I said it soft and slowly so he’d know I was serious.

“I wondered how things were going. It’s been over a month.”

I heard the concern in his voice.

“I think I need a new lucky charm.”

“Did you lose that old football charm you stole from your sister’s bracelet?” He sounded puzzled.

“Something like that. I was thinking… maybe this time something measured in carats.”

“You got a job!” He was elated.

“Sure did,” I said without fully explaining. “And I’ve got pie.”