Saturday, January 31, 2009

Must-Read Novel Free at New Fiction.Com!!!

Blood From A Stone:
The Venus de Milo Murders
By Dennis Manuel
Audio iSoap Drama
New Fiction.Com

Consider the prose of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer series, together with more versions of the female body than you’ll have seen in a very long time, and you’ll begin to have an idea of the great thriller you’ll experience when you listen to, or read, Dennis Manuel’s Blood From A Stone: The Venus de Milo Murders! Personally, I loved the whole package! Highly recommended for mystery and suspense lovers!

Tommy Fallon, Tifa and Nicole are the good guys on this side of the ocean, together with Gilles, a French policeman. Most of the other characters are bad guys, even the cops! For in the art world, where few can tell the difference between fakes and real works, you can never assume that any transaction will be legal or ethical...

Tommy, a former cop and now owner of a security system company is called in to investigate when a murdered woman is found in the sculpture garden of Jack Danner, a billionaire art dealer. Why? Because in order for the body to have been found within his grounds, either the security system failed or was compromised! With a promise of blackmail that would ruin Tommy’s business, as well as a promised $2 million, Mr. Danner forces Tommy to investigate who and why the body was placed on his property. Tommy is sent to France to begin his investigation. Although Mr. Danner does not explain why or what he is to find, he does give him the name of the French artist with whom he normally transacted business.

Tifa, his assistant/partner in business is set to work in America, to try to learn more about Mr. Danner’s reputation in the art world and who might want to harm him. Nicole, his lover, a cop, and also partner with Detective Lubrani, the cop who caused Tommy to leave the force years ago, agreed to share as much information as was possible.

For the woman who had been found in the sculpture garden was not just murdered, she had been butchered—her body cut to match the famous Venus de Milo sculpture! But, this wasn’t the first time this had been done! In fact, it was the earlier murders years ago by the Venus di Milo serial killer, and the inability to find him, that had caused Tommy to leave the police force.

The story leads back into the time when Nazis were capturing not only cities but also all of the wealth through the theft of art! While more murders occur in America, Tommy faces his own dangers as he works to discover what Danner had done in his past to bring about the hatred needed to rekindle the Venus de Milo murders. Is it the same serial killer? Is it a copycat? How and why is Danner being targeted to receive the bodies, and possibly the blame for their deaths?

Remember that you can “experience” this book via audio with characters who will dramatize and act out the book for you or you can read the book as text. I did both and recommend you listen to the story “live” as the narrator sets the stage for the exciting parts with his voice!

This story is sexy, sophisticated and especially suspenseful in audio format! Either way you are going to be caught up in a strange and gruesome mystery. I know one thing I couldn’t have done—I couldn’t have waited to have this story chapter by chapter—it is a "page-turner" that will entrance and excite! Thoroughly enjoyable madness and mayhem!

G. A. Bixler

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Duality II Leads to Challenge of the Gods!

Duality II: Travels of a Twin Soul,
Search for the Oracle
by David W. Cupples
131 Pages

Please check out my review for David W. Cupples first book, Duality: Travels of a Twin Soul: The Atlantean Adventure. Although the two books can easily be read separately, starting with the first adventure provides added incentive to proceed on to second in this series, Duality II: Travels of a Twin Soul: Search for the Oracle.

I admit that I’m not an ardent fan of fantasy; however, David Cupples goes an extra step in creating his fantasy world for readers that I really appreciate. He uses the character, aptly named the Librarian, who sets the stage at the beginning of each book, explaining a little bit about the two characters who, together, are the “Soul” of the story, and then invites us into the adventure about to be told.

In Search for the Oracle the time period is present-day and we learn that Chris and Mike are the main characters. Interestingly, the Librarian discusses the void in each of the young men as that possibly being a result of each boy’s seemingly being more interested in boys rather than girls. So, both Chris and Mike had chosen homosexuality and the initial contact between the two was based upon that mutual attraction. However, it is not long after they first meet each other, that they receive a letter “to both of them as if one” indicating that they are needed at once!

The Duality represents twin souls in two bodies born as the son to Apollo and together they are given special powers and knowledge so that they might win the quest given them. As memories start to come forward over the 10,000 years since they had last been together, they have their first visitor, Ganymedes (Gan), who will travel with them on their journey, that is, with his first action being to merge two amulets that each wore and the young men found themselves in an entirely different place! And now it was necessary that they reach toward their immortal rather than mortal selves in order to proceed. A drink from the waters of Amrita was necessary to restore all memories!

It was during their sleep, after drinking, that they came to remember how they were born, one individual, but with two bodies. It is only then that they realize that the reason for the “void” each felt was because they were, in essence, one soul! In order to prepare for their journey, Chris, Mike and Gan were magically returned to the age of 13 and made to look like a Native American, an East Indian, and a young man from the Mediterranean area.

The quest for which the Duality was needed was then shared: The Oracle of Delphi, a medium through which mortal men could consult the gods, had been presumably captured. This spirit would transfer itself from one to the next of the mortal women chosen to act as the sitting Oracle. It was discovered that the spirit that was the true Oracle was being held in Tartarus, an underworld abyss that housed the souls of only the most wicked of the dead (p. 62)

Getting into...and out...of the place where the Delphic Oracle was their goal, if it please the gods! But...were they on a wild goose chase? For, before it was all over, the Duality challenged the gods!

Cupples once again proves his great storytelling skills as he takes readers back into ancient times of Apollo and Artemis, Zeus His writing is characteristic of the period and his research shows a clear understanding of the Greek mythology that provides the underlying support to his own tales. Fantasy lovers will get caught up in this tale of honor and valor – for the Twin Soul becomes Twin Souls!


G. A. Bixler
IP Book Reviewer

Fantasy - Based Upon Greek Mythology!

Duality: Travels of a Twin Soul,
The Atlantean Adventure
by David W. Cupples
ISBN: 1-4137-2855-3
113 pages

In the world of magic, mystery, and mystics, the storyteller of the fantasy into which we are taken is sometimes more important than the story. “Delightful” was my first thought in reading the Prologue and then throughout Duality: Travels of a Twin Soul, The Atlantean Adventure. David Cupples is a storyteller who has carved his niche into fantasy fiction with his first book!

My trips in fantasy preferably have been futuristic—I’ve been a long-time Trekkie who enjoyed the thought of “beaming down” to a distant planet somewhere in the galaxy. Perhaps it was because I understood who Captain Kirk, Spock and other characters were by what jobs they portrayed, as opposed to what species they were. Cupples has solved my trepidation into the land of fantasy by providing the character, The Librarian. For those of us who like to know the “who, what, when and where’s” of the story, The Librarian speaks to us from time to time to ensure we know the answers to our questions. I really loved this and did not find it the least bit intrusive to the tale.

Needless to say, I was totally prepared to understand that one of the main characters, Troy, was a centaur. Wisely, I had already checked the internet before starting to read, but was pleased to have The Librarian explain not only what a centaur was but then I learned that the centaur had been created through the merging of a horse and his rider through magic and sorcery! Thus, I felt totally free to travel to Atlantis, knowing that I wouldn’t get lost in a strange new world. Now, that is why I call David Cupples a talented storyteller! Duality is an adventure story for the young and old. I was pleasantly surprised that nobody was murdered—even the Darklord! David Cupples has given us an exciting story without the violence seen so much today!

What happens when the world is threatened by the supernatural power that comes through magic and sorcery? When those who have such powers constantly choose and strive to expand the limits of those powers? Do those who use their power for good always win? Or will the Darklord and his followers actually do everything in their power to destroy the world?

Anyone who loves fantasies knows about Atlantis, a wonderful place of fantasy and mystery. The Darklord, however, has done his usual and has turned a vast part of Atlantis into a desert, badlands where nothing can grow and no bird or beast can live. This place can no longer be called wondrous and no people can survive there anymore. Additionally, a sorcerer, in testing his own power has succeeded in leaving his human form and travels as energy wherever he wants, creating breaches into many other dimensions. It is into this unstable world that the gods have sent one of their own—child of Apollo.

Alan and Troy is the main character. Yes, Alan and Troy have one soul with two bodies. Each provided with special powers and strength, which together, will provide what was needed to save Atlantis.

Early in their life Alan and Troy had found each other and grew up being best of friends, with no inkling that their birth had been foretold, that they were truly one person, and that they were destined for a great quest. They knew they had special gifts from the gods, but Alan’s gift for hunting became most important as, by the age of 15, he was providing much of the meat killed for the village. It had been through the wandering and hunting that Alan first met Troy who lived in a secret place that was filled with creatures such as him. But the elders of Alan’s village did not condone this relationship and began to have Alan followed to see what mischief he and his friend got into.

And, as a normal young boy, Alan did get in trouble. His decision to place one of his followers, naked and shackled, in front of the temple of Zeus, was mischievous and his intent was not to dishonor the god. However, the village elders use the desecration to banish him permanently. Ah, but, Apollo had already come to Alan and told him his punishment from the gods was to go on a great quest into the badlands, thus reducing the impact of the elders judgment.

Alan and Troy knew one thing and one thing only—they were embarking on a great adventure!

Troy makes the decision where to go on the first day as they enter the secret homelands where he was from. There they meet the leader of the group—only to learn how he himself had opposed the Darklord and had been the first centaur created, when the Darklord punished him by merging him with his horse. The gods had saved his life, but had added great wings to his form, by which he could not fly, but by which he was to learn. Making gifts of weaponry to Alan and Troy, he sent them on to the badlands.

I recommend that you travel on into the badlands—and into other dimensions—with our two heroes and those they meet along the way. I promise you’ll enjoy sharing in their quest!

G. A. Bixler
IP Book Reviewer Chillingly Realistic

By Sean Doolittle
Advance Reading Copy
334 Pages

I think Sean Doolittle’s use of first person in his suspenseful novel, Safer, made it so much more realistic for his readers! That together with the setting forces each of us to think, “this could happen to me or my family!” Scary thoughts! Yet, so real!

It was the end of the semester and Paul and Sara are hosting a faculty party when the police arrive. Paul is called to the door where police are waiting to arrest him! It is only later that he discovers he’s been accused of molesting a neighborhood teenager! As is often the case, the sad part of that tale was that he, as an English professor, had been able to share books with the young reader and encourage her love of reading. He knew that she was not behind this!

Indeed, although Paul was shocked that it had come so far, he knew who was behind these accusations—and why! But could he prove it?

New to the community, Paul and Sara had moved into Sycamore Court, a small neighborhood near the college where they both would be working. On the very first night, as they were settling down, unpacked boxes covering most rooms, Sara had already gone to bed, but Paul, restless, had gone out to buy some beer. When he came back home, he heard noises and realized that his wife was being attacked! Coming to her rescue, he was able to clobber the man with a golf club and the man came after Paul, instead, but then decided just to flee.

It was that night, as the police were called and they were there to investigate, that Paul first met Roger Mallory, a neighbor and head of a local group that organized neighborhood watch patrols...for safer communities Unfortunately, the individuals who had been out on patrol that night had been too far away to hear, and help Sara.

With reluctance, Paul was slowly pulled into neighborhood activities and the watch patrol; but little by little, things had happened that made Paul suspicious. It was after Paul had confronted Roger and resigned from the watch patrol that the accusations against him were supposedly made by his neighbor’s daughter.

As Paul and his lawyer and staff track backwards over what had led to his arrest, a tale of garbage/mail searches, video cameras and even routine home invasions came out. When the young girl kills herself, readers realize even more...some version of this could really happen!

This novel hits close to home...your home! It is scary just because of its realistic approach of incidents that you hear about every day—new jobs, new neighbors, neighborhood vandalism, gossip and its potential damage. Add to that a real crime that happened many years ago, never discovered, yet constantly resulting in day-to-date decisions by those involved, and you have a nightmare that goes well beyond monsters in the closet. For this nightmare takes place each day you live in the neighborhood!

G. A. Bixler
For Amazon Vine

Historical Significance Adds to Great Drama

Bones of Betrayal
By Jefferson Bass
William Morrow
Advance Readers’ Edition
351 Pages

Revenge sets the stage for another wonderful “Body Farm Novel” in Jefferson Bass’s latest, Bones of Betrayal. If you’re a forensics “anything” fan, and aren’t already reading the works of this superb writing team—Dr. Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson, you are indeed missing great drama and excellent writing as well as the expert knowledge from the founder of the original University of Tennessee’s Body Farm!

This latest novel also could be identified as an excellent historical novel as the setting takes us to Oak Ridge and the original Manhattan Project that resulted in the atomic bombs that were used during World War II to destroy two Japanese cities. Much can be learned by reading about that period in America’s history. And while revenge plays the role in the major event in this novel, the murder of the primary physicist and designer of a plutonium reactor there at Oak Ridge, that combines with a different tale about the death of a missing GI from the war and how he was killed.

Bill Brockton from the Anthropology Research Facility at UT, along with his graduate assistant, Miranda Lovelady, are caught right in the middle of this fantastic drama when they are notified that a body has been found, frozen, in a pool. Bill grabs his trusty chainsaw, which later lends a bit of humor throughout the novel, and proceeds to cut out the body and take it to the morgue. Unfortunately, that’s when the horror begins, as it is discovered that the body is that of Dr. Leonard Novak and he has been murdered using a pill-size piece of one of the most dangerous types of radioactive material available. But what is worse is that his body is still radioactive and anybody who came in contact with it, including those in the morgue had been contaminated! Readers are exposed to the horrors of this terrible weapon as hazardous material experts are called in and work begins to encase one small piece of “death.”

While the police and other agents try to gather information, only Bill Brockton is able to establish a relationship with 90-year-old Beatrice Montgomery, ex-wife to Dr. Novak, who shares personal stories about those years of working at the defense plant. At the same time, he also meets one of the librarians who assists him in his research—and into a personal relationship. Caught in his concern for co-workers who were exposed to the radiation, caught in two relationships with women who seem to have personal ties to present events, Bill is torn and emotionally involved as he works to find out exactly what happened.

The drama and suspense is great; however, I think that this historically grounded novel provides much more than the usual Body Farm scenarios...I applaud highlighting the events behind and surrounding the atomic bomb use during WWII and creating such an exciting manner in which to share this tale! This is a must-read recommendation for me!

G. A. Bixler
For Amazon Vine

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Author ID Sites

You may have heard that Amazon is starting a new area providing a web page for authors, listing all of their works. Today I learned that they were working with the top 2500 authors...hmmmm...that should take care of the NYTimes best seller list, right? Nevertheless, be on the alert for when they get down below the 2500!

At the same time, I did learn of another site and "picked up" a sentence or so to share:

About Us
FiledBy, Inc. is located in Nashville, Tennessee. The company produces filedbyauthor, a comprehensive online directory of authors and their works.

Hey, it's new and free so list your books/bio there--can't hurt, right? Click on title of this article to move to the site!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mitchell's Rovella Starr Strangely Wonderful...

Rovella Starr
By Carol Denise Mitchell
Publish America
ISBN: 1606727281
211 Pages

Rovella Starr (A Love-Starved Bitch) by Carol Denise Mitchell has done it! I had not been surprised by anything that has been inflicted by one man to another in any fiction novel I’ve thus far read. At least that was true before I read Carol Denise Mitchell’s latest! The problem is that Mitchell writes her novel as an old-time storyteller and you feel like you are sitting on the back porch, drinking a glass of iced tea, as she tells her story. Whew!

After reading Mitchell’s earlier book, What Happened to Suzy, it did not surprise me that her main character, Rovella Starr had been a victim of childhood abuse. I was not surprised to learn that, in many ways, she was just a little bit “crazy.” Nor was I surprised when, on her wedding day, her new mother-in-law jumped her and beat her—well, maybe I was amazed!

I also wasn’t surprised when, upon having her third child, born dead, and then come back to life, she devoted the rest of her life to protecting him. She kept him close, including scaring off any girl who showed an interest in Ray, while allowing her husband and other sons to come in a neglected second in her life. And, of course, I wasn’t surprised when all of Rovella’s neighbors stayed away, especially when Rovella thought nothing about having her shot gun handy to keep anybody off of her property.

But when Rovella paid lots of money to a woman who could only be called a modern-day “witch doctor” for a spell to give to her beloved son? Yep, that about did it for me!

And yet, in the midst of the utterly unbelievable tales that surrounded the life of Rovella Starr, there developed a beautiful love story—that between her son Ray and a famous author, Dana Ann Arbor. From the moment the two first saw each other it was love. True, it was a love that most people thought would be over quickly. While Ray was a handsome man, most people felt he was retarded, or at least, not quick in thought and manner. Dana Ann, on the other hand, was known the world over for her beautiful love stories that kept people enthralled. But there was one thing that Dana knew; Ray loved her with a gentle and kind love that she had never known from the successful and worldly men with whom she had previously been involved.

The amazing thing was that Rovella even allowed their relationship to develop as far as it did before she took her first major step. But once she decided to break up the love match, nothing could stop her!

Let’s stop until I get another glass of tea...and then hurry back! Carol Denise Mitchell is going to finish telling what that love-starved bitch did to her son...and how this amazing story ends!

You’re just not going to believe parts of this tale...but you won’t want to miss it. Because, every great love story is bound to have a happy ending, don’t you think? Rovella Starr, by Carol Denise Mitchell, a tale that only a true storyteller can place before her readers!

But make sure, you’ve got something to drink...and maybe even some smelling salts! Again, I say...Whew, this is some kind of tale! Read it--only if you dare!

G. A. Bixler
IP Book Reviewer

Spindler Spins Superb Suspense!

By Erica Spindler
St Martin’s Press
Advance Readers’ Edition
342 Pages

I’ve read and enjoyed Erica’s Spindler’s novels before, but I think her latest, Breakneck is the most memorable for its breakout action, ongoing suspense and surprise ending!

Detective Mary Catherine Riggio, routinely called M.C. had just become engaged when a series of murders of young computer geeks began. Caught in the crossfire were not only her fiancé, but also members of her family! M.C. is devastated but adamant that she remains on the case, contrary to the wishes of her partner, her boss and her family!

It is quickly determined that money is at the bottom of what is happening. Although it was difficult to accept, it appeared that this group of young people was part of a ring of cyber thieves. The problem occurred when one saw the transfer of $500,000, later assumed to be payment to the hit man for his latest job, and decided to steal it! Of course, they were unaware that the money had been stolen from “Breakneck” who was known worldwide for his many hits, a number of them done by breaking the necks of the victims!

Soon, a connection was found—a number of the young people had been involved at a counseling center, being treated for PIU—Pathological Internet Use! For M.C. however, she couldn’t accept that her fiancé and her nephew, who was a very self-assured intelligent young man, had been killed for this reason.

Spindler has created an intelligent, competent hitman; however, her lead female has the guts and the stamina of a woman who has been “hit where it hurts,” as she attends the funerals of her loved ones and fights to ensure other family members are also not taken.

If you’re paying attention, you might identify the killer, as I did, however, it is surely a heartbreaking ride as readers watch both M.C. and her partner’s lives being affected by what is happening to their respective families!

Great characters, ongoing suspense and action that keeps you guessing—what more do you want for a great read? Highly recommended!

G. A. Bixler
For Amazon Vine

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dog On It Doggone Funny!

Dog On It:
A Chet and Bernie Mystery
By Spencer Quinn
Advance reading Copy
305 Pages

DogGone! I loved Dog On It! Ok, as an independent professional book reviewer, I’m able to get away with that trite beginning; at least I hope you don’t mind too much, I couldn’t resist! And since Spencer Quinn, created Chet as the lead character in his Chet and Bernie Mystery, Dog On It, somehow I don’t think he will mind!

Expectation for this book, after reading the initial blurb online, moved up greatly when, on the back cover, one of my most favorite authors, Robert B. Parker, declared: “A detective, a dog, and some major league prose. Dog On It is a genuine joy.” With Parker’s recommendation, I admit that I immediately started to read it to see if there was any relation to Parker’s dialogue/writing style in his Spencer series, which I love, especially between Spencer and Hawk! Now, Chet does not talk, so his thoughts and actions are what carries the place of dialogue; however, he and Bernie are so in tune that you think that surely they are indeed having a conversation! Still it was delightful to read the level of “exchange” between these two partners in a private investigation agency.

Of course, clients often ask Bernie why he keeps saying “us” for the ...Agency, but readers have no such problem! We can readily see that there is truly a committed partnership between Bernie and Chet, the latter of whom just happens to be a dog... In fact, Chet saves Bernie twice from life-threatening situations in just this one book, so I’d say that works to cement them both as important members of the agency!

Because in this case, a great mind and a great nose are needed to solve what happened to the teenage girl who may or may not have been kidnapped. Admittedly Chet cannot “tell” Bernie that he has seen the girl and was in fact saved by her, so that the case is not immediately solved by Chet leading Bernie to the girl...but, then, we wouldn’t have this delightful tangled and twisting chase to find her!

The case includes the Russian Mob, an undoubtedly dastardly group of men and women; however, I have to admit that I was just having too much fun watching Chet working hard to solve the case, only to have his mind wander off to that great tidbit of food he’d found, or...whatever happened to reveal his short attention span! As expected, the mystery is great and somewhat suspenseful...but you’ll be reading this first in a series, because of the main character—Chet! He’s too doggone much fun to miss!


G. A. Bixler
For Amazon Vine

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Check out New Fiction.Com - Enjoy E-Books To The Fullest!

New Fiction.Com:
The Site
Audio Books by NewFiction
Home of The iSoap

Through a LinkedIn connection with Tom Lopilato, I learned about New Fiction.Com, a site that both writers and readers will not want to miss! As I am prone to do when a site sounds interesting, I promptly went to visit! Immediately my eyes were assaulted with some really fantastic artwork—much better than older graphic novels! After clicking for various books, I realized that the graphics are obviously created to support the particular book being considered. So, not only do you get a beautiful “front cover” but, when you purchase a book, you will find complementary art spotted throughout!

Spying the word murder, I chose to click on my favorite mystery genre and brought up the book, The Venus de Milo Murders by Dennis Manuel. After subscribing, I opened up the book—a perfect blend of options were available. I chose to have text as well as audio; so after a gory, funky graphic or two, a deep-voice narrator started reading! Dialogue was “played” by other characters. My very first flash was of the Dragnet show, where Jack Webb acts as the narrator overlaying the storyline. Anyway, you get the idea, I am sure!

As I listened to this invisible voice, my mind wandered back to hearing “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” Even many years later, I can remember that “voice,” though I can’t remember whether it was from radio or early television. With a smile on my face, I decided to do a little online reading about The Shadow, who became a “character” in 1937 due to his popularity. But did you know that “The Shadow” was initially hired in July, 1930, as a “mysterious narrator of mystery tales taken from the pages of Strut and Smith’s Detective Story Magazine—he was hired to read a mystery story over the radio!

This was exactly what I was now doing, except nearly 80 years had passed and I was on a personal computer, listening online on the Internet, watching corresponding graphics and reading the text as well! How cool is that!

The subscriber can get the entire story for free, with each episode being provided every day (16 hours between episodes). Just to take that a little further, NewFiction provides a chance to “experience” the first five chapters of a book. Then you can also decide to purchase a pdf file with graphics, or a version for use on your iPod or cell phone. The stories can even come to you in installments via email! The paid version, of course, allows readers to listen at their own pace.

I must say—I was impressed! And excited! Because as I further explored the site, I realized that the creators are also using new authors and giving those writers a chance to have their books enhanced and shared around the world. Readers can check out and own ”much more than an e-book” for just $5! Note that author testimonials are included—it was heartwarming to read of the writer-publisher relationship being established by New Fiction!

Many of you will remember that manufacturers of soap products funded many early programs. Thus the “soap” opera analogy evolved. While lending a nostalgia touch of old radio shows during radio’s Golden Age when The Lone Ranger, Boston Blackie, Amos and Andy, or “Calling All Cars” found many running to the radio to hear the next installment of a wonderful drama or comedy, NewFiction gives us “the flavor” and thrill of those days, but has fully taken advantage of the technological advantages that makes their fiction NEW in every sense of the word! Bravo!

NewFiction.Com – Take a look and you’ll find yourself subscribing as quickly as I did! Me, I’m heading back to read Chapter 3 of The Venus de Milo Murders! Enjoy!

G. A. Bixler
IP Book Reviewer

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sweet William by Irving A. Greefield (Part II)

I watched a white Humvee pull up to the curb, and an elderly, well-dressed gentleman was helped out of the rear seat by a very large Latino. The smaller of the two was Gibbs.

I wouldn’t say that I would have recognized him anywhere. Living inevitably changes us in ways in which we are reluctant to even recognize ourselves. One day we look in the mirror and find a stranger looking back at us.

The big Latino-looking man walked alongside of Gibbs; it took me a few moments to realize that my old friend also used a cane.

I stood to greet him, but he signaled me to sit. We shook hands across the table. “Meet Mr. José Augustino,” Gibbs said.

I shook hands with him. His hand was twice the size of mine. But both our grips were equally firm. A few moments later, he left us alone. We occupied a table for four, but Gibbs put his cane across the chair next to him, just as I had my cane on the chair next to me.

“Augie will be back with coffee and Danish,” Gibbs said.

We exchanged the usual comments that people do after not having seen each other for a long time. He asked after my children, and my wife.

“All were well,” I told him; and I asked after his children and his wife.

He waved the question away. “No children; shoot blanks that way. As for the wife, she’s my third. Blonde all the way, young, and dumb as shit. But she gives good head when sweet Peter rises to the occasion.”

We also spoke about some of the other guys in our platoon. Two more had died a few years back. Gibbs knew all about it because he attended all of our former unit’s reunions. I stopped. After the last one I attended, I realized we were just a bunch of old guys, who once had something in common: survival. But now, each of us had gone his separate way and had nothing in common. The passing of the years and the changes to our individual personalities made a mockery of what we once were.

By this time, Augustino returned with a tray holding three coffees and an equal number of cheese Danish.

Without me having to ask him, Gibbs told me he was doing very well. Of course, I could see that. But he gave me a rundown of what he owned and what he had a piece of: two body shops; three pizza “joints,” as he referred to them; and a piece of several other enterprises that he didn’t define.

“All right,” he said with satisfaction, before cutting a piece of cheese Danish and eating it. “Now down to business. It’s goin’ to cost a couple of thou.”

“No problem,” I said. “I have more than that on me.” I didn’t leave my share of the winnings in the apartment for fear that Rita might find them, and of the questions that would inevitably follow.

I let my Danish sit, but I drank the coffee.

Oddly, Gibbs spoke about his personal life. He told me he was divorced three times, and had a child with each wife; the oldest, Thomas was over fifty, and had a family of his own; as did John, the middle son; and the youngest, Lewis was thirty-five years old. “I see them on most weekends,” Gibbs said.

Though this contradicted what he said about shooting blanks, I let it ride. He knew I had two sons, and asked me how they were doing. “Well,” I said.

“Following their father’s footsteps, as I remember.”

“Something like that,” I answered.

“And the wife? How’s she? She was a real looker when she was younger.”

“Still beautiful to me,” I said.

“Beautiful. A marriage that lasts as long as yours is beautiful. Today, it’s slam bang in and out,” he said, slapping the palms of his hands together, to emphasize what he’d just said. “Too bad, each of my marriages went sour; but I loved each one of my former wives when I married them.

I didn’t pick up on that; but I was very much aware that Gibbs and I spoke as if Augie wasn’t there; that he hadn’t heard every word we said. I glanced at him; his face was blank, his eyes were fastened on a dark complexioned woman, whose cleavage was very low.

Gibbs’s cell phone rang. “This is the call I’ve been waiting for,” he told me, before answering the call.

Suddenly, I realize he was speaking Chinese; it was something I hadn’t expected. But Gibbs was always full of surprises, such as the way he was dressed. He was older than me by at least five years. But he was dressed in the mode¾ white shirt cuffs rolled back over the sleeves of his jacket, his shirt open at the neck, showing three gold chains; one with a Star of David, another with a cross, and a third with an Italian horn. I didn’t remember whether or not he was superstitious; but if he was, he was certainly covering all of the bases.

His conversation, and my observations took no more than a minute or so; when he clicked his phone off--a Blackberry, I noticed--he said, “Mr. Fong is ready to see us.”

Gibbs and I sat in the rear of the Humvee. The driver was warmly introduced, as Mr. Falco Augustino. When he turned around, I almost did a double take, but controlled my urge to do it.

“Twins,” Gibbs said, and then took off on a monologue about all the gadgets in the vehicle; well, I made the appropriate sounds of appreciation.

A couple of times, I caught the driver looking at me in the rearview mirror, from what I could see of him his face, from the bottom of his nose to the top of his head, looked exactly like the face of the first Augustino I’d met earlier, and who sat next to him.

Chinatown was a short distance away from where we started. I knew it well; all of my doctors were Chinese, and their offices were in Chinatown.

We stopped on Canal between Pell and Doyer Streets. Augie opened the door for us, while Falco remained in the driver’s seat.

The three of us walked into the Manhattan Office Supplies and Stationary Store. Mr. Fong was there to greet us, and he spoke perfect English.

“We’ll go into my office,” he said, walking in front of us.There were boxes everywhere, and the merchandise on the shelves looked as if it hadn’t been touched in a long, long, time. The distance between the front of the store, and Mr. Fong’s office was physically short. But the human brain creates its own sense of distance and time. To me, it felt as if the distance and the time it took to walk it was longer than it should have been; because, suddenly, three very different thoughts floated through into my consciousness. The store was obviously a front, and not for just creating false IDs; I was walking into something far more dangerous than just buying a false ID; ...and a memory.

I was probably ten years old. The war in Europe had already begun. My father, a short stocky man, with a cherubic face, sold diamonds, and not too many people were buying them. One Sunday, my father brought me with him to Chinatown. I thought it was for lunch; my father was extremely fond of Chinese roast pork and egg foo yong. But we were on one of the narrow streets that ran off the Bowery when he suddenly stopped in front of the store, and cautioned me to be quiet.

We entered the dingy looking store; the shelves behind the counter were filled with everything from hardware to flower vases, and all of it was covered with dust. The Chinese man who greeted us, Mr. Han, wore a long red and gold robe, a matching, small, round black hat with a queue dangling behind it. He greeted my father warmly, and called him Slammy. His given name was Samuel.

Following Mr. Han, my father and I walked through a curtain that he parted for us, and entered a magnificent parlor. Even as a child, I was awed.

My father and Mr. Han sat at a small table, while I sat some distance from them. A servant brought them tea. The same man gave me a candy; my father told me to eat it. I didn’t like its taste; but my father told me to eat it, and that was what I did.

I watched my father conduct his business. Diamonds were set out on the table. Mr. Han examined each one of them several times with his own loupe, before he said, “Good quality; I take all of them, Slammy.”

My father held up four fingers.

“Deal!” Mr. Han said, and shook my father’s hand...

Mr. Fong’s office was decorated with a combination of Swedish modern and French provincial, an odd mating at best; especially so since the only piece of French provincial furniture in the room was his desk, which was very much like the one in my den.

“All of your documents are ready,” he said, as Gibbs and I sat in front of his desk, and he behind it. “All that is needed is an address. The photos are very clear.”

“Photos?” I questioned, looking at Gibbs.

“Augie took them, and e-mailed them via the cell phone,” he explained.

“Unless you have another address in mind, I suggest you use the store’s as your own,” Mr. Fong said.

I hadn’t thought about needing an address; but after a couple of moments of reflection, I shrugged and said, “All right.”

A short time later, my new address was added; and I was presented with my new IDs, and a fake passport, at no extra charge, because I was, as Mr. Fong said, "a very special friend of Mr. Gibbs."

When I handed him his fee in thousand dollar bills, Mr. Fong said, "If you intend to deposit money in a bank, may I suggest that you use a small bank. There are several here in Chinatown that would welcome you as a customer. You may use my name as a reference."

I thanked him, and the three of us left the store. As soon as we were back in the Humvee, Gibbs said, "Lunch time." And turning to me, he asked, "What’s your pleasure?"

I knew I couldn't get out of it; besides, I felt I owed it to him: and this would probably be the last time I’d see him.

"Lunch for me is never a big deal, unless it is a special occasion," I said.

"Well then, let’s consider this a special occasion," Gibbs said with a smile.

We lunched at the Water Club. Gibbs called ahead, and arranged for a table next to a window overlooking the East River, and he also ordered a bottle of Château Margaux for the occasion. Lunch was a time for memories to pour out. In any social situation, two glasses of wine was my limit; usually one, if I have it at lunch, but such situations seldom come up.

I finally confirmed that the Augustino brothers were identical twins. Both had served in the Marines after Vietnam. This information came grudgingly, and mostly from Gibbs. The only real interesting thing about them was that they weren’t Latinos in the way that word is usually used; they were full-blooded Mescalero, Apache Indians with probably, I guessed, a trace of Spanish blood; the consequence of rape, I supposed, given the time and place where the Spanish adventurers collided with the indigenous population.

By the time we were into our main course¾a chef salad for me, grilled tuna for Gibbs, and sliced steak for the twins¾Gibbs was still walking down Memory Lane; but it was a lane I did not want to visit, although I visited it often on my own, more now that I am older.

Suddenly, Gibbs began to wave his right forefinger at me. "You are still the coolest son of a bitch, I’ve ever known. You were then, in Korea, and you’re still now. The years haven’t changed that. You’re into something, aren’t you?" His finger stopped waving.

"You had too much to drink," I said.

"In vino es veritas," he answered.

I just sat there and looked at him.

"Okay, cool, man, keep it to yourself; but sooner or later, you’re gonna call ol’ Gibbs because he’ll know what to do."

I should have excused myself and left; but after two glasses of wine, I did not feel steady enough to do. So, I poured a bit more wine into my glass and drank it, before I said, "Not on your life."

"It is not my life, I am worried about; it is yours."

There was not much conversation at the table after that, or in the Humvee later. I was dropped off in front of the building where I lived.

The next day I went back to Chinatown, and opened two different checking accounts: one at The First Bank of China, and the second at the bank of Cathay. In the course of conversations with the bank officers, I casually mentioned I was a friend of Mr. Fong; and immediately, what was an ordinary business transaction, morphed into something much more. Telephone calls were made, and in minutes. I was introduced to a senior VP, and the head teller. Each bank gave me a million-dollar line of credit at a ridiculously low interest rate.

I rode the M9 to Bowling Green, and opened two more accounts, where the procedure lacked the excitement of my Chinatown experiences. But I was totally aware of having tasted "forbidden fruit." And that exhilarated me.

It was near noon, when I finished my banking business. It was time to go to Starbucks, across from the eastside of the Museum of the American Indian, where I'm known not by name, but by sight. I ordered my usual: a Venti-cappuccino and a slice of banana nut loaf cake. It's another one of my routines, or habits, that I have acquired in recent years. Besides, the people who use Starbucks as their unofficial office, tapping away at their laptops or speaking on their cell phones, or a combination of both, always fascinate me. And of course, there were tourists pouring over their maps and looking pitifully bewildered.

After a while, I left Starbucks more or less satisfied, and sat in the park beginning to feel less satisfied, because I could feel the slow encroachment of depression. It began as a queasiness in my stomach; a grayness that rose into my brain. After the excitement of the morning, I experienced a letdown, a drop that put me in a "mood." And another stupendous headache was beginning, taking shape like a huge thunderhead somewhere in the middle of my skull.

I had never done anything illegal in my life; I have lived in hermetically sealed academia almost all of my adult life. But I crossed the line; and though it excited me, it also troubled me. I felt as if my criminality was clearly visible to anyone who happened to look at me. At the same time, I knew that neither Gibbs nor Mr. Fong would have harbored any such feelings. To assuage my guilt¾for that was what it was¾I told myself that I would soon tire of the "game;" and then I would part company with William, Gibbs, and Mr. Fong. Each of us would go our own way.

The weather turned rainy, the way it often does in late spring; and I came down with bronchitis. It really knocked me out. I had never had it before; and I was confined to the apartment, and that gave me an unusual amount of time to think about the money I won, and about William’s ability to predict the outcome of situations that can be expressed as statistical equations, though he wouldn’t know one if he was looking at it; for that matter neither would I. Math in any form was something I shied away from.

Late one evening, I stood at the window in my living room that faced south, and watched the boats in the harbor. All of them had their running lights on, and some of the sightseeing boats were festooned with multicolored lights. It was a relief to be occupied with something other than thinking about William.

Rita, who was aware of my mood, said nothing about it. She was used to my climbing into myself, so to speak. She knew I would eventually find my way out, and discuss the adventure with her, no matter what it was about. But I remained completely reticent, knowing that if I had told her about my dealings with William, Gibbs, and Mr. Fong, she would immediately tell me to stop, that I was using another human being for my purpose, and that was seriously wrong. And she would have been right; that was why I never mentioned it to her. Instead, I resolved to further test William’s ability

When I finally saw William, he looked worse than when I first saw him. He followed me to an empty bench, and we sat. There were several bruises on his face, and black and blue marks on his arms. He had obviously been in a fight--maybe more than one--and had come out of them a loser.

He didn't tell me what had happened to him, and I didn't ask. I knew that it was the way our relationship would have to be if we continued to have one.

"Now what?" He asked.

“You go cold turkey.” From the expression on his face, I could see that he didn't like what I said. "That or nothing," I told him, amazed at the hardness in my voice; it was something that hadn't been there since I left the Corps. That wasn't true; I used it once or twice on my students, and "scared the shit” out of them. Whatever they had done or had not done to cause me to use that flat, tight tone of voice, they never again did. "I'm going to get you a male nurse," I said.

"When?" He asked.

"Now. This afternoon."

It took me a few hours to set him up in a hotel room on the edge of The South St., Seaport; and the male nurse I hired, Mr. John Scott, was a bruiser from Haiti. I told him what the situation was, and that I would spell him a few hours a day for the next ten days.

"Tie him down, if you must," I told Mr. Scott. "In ten days, I want him sober."
William heard what I said to Mr. Scott; and again, his facial expression showed what he thought about it.

"You're a damned hard man," he said.

I didn't answer; I knew I was when the situation demanded that I be.

William suffered; he screamed, and had several episodes of the DTs; I had seen men go through the same thing before. I thought then that I’d never have to witness it again. But there I was watching William writhe and scream that maggots were crawling all over him.

Mr. Scott was gentle but firm, with his charge, and very patient. After ten days, William was "clean." I paid Mr. Scott, gave him a generous tip, and told him that I might need his services again.

He handed me his cell phone number; and we shook hands.

William said he was, "hog hungry;" and for the next few days he ate like one. I spent time shepherding him around, and that included buying clothes. To my surprise, he had expensive tastes. But not necessarily, good taste. He went for flashy shirts and ties; and boots, instead of shoes, and a Stetson hat.

All this time, Rita knew nothing about William. I was leading a double life, and thoroughly enjoying it. Yes, there were times of self-doubt, of introspection. Most of them came at night, when I couldn't sleep because of the severe headaches that had recently manifested themselves. I sat in the high backed living room chair, looking out at the Upper New York Bay, where the water was only visible when the lights of passing boats illuminated it.

Most of my thoughts were about my relationship to my father. The image I had of him came from a photograph I took more than fifty years ago. It’s framed, and hangs on one of the walls in the room I call my den. It was a candid shot. He was at the piano, looking at a music score. I hadn’t known then, and I still don’t know, whether or not he was able to sight-read music.

He was old; his hair was gray. He was concentrating on what he was doing. The expression on his face was wistful and filled with an immense sadness. That moment I saw something in him, I had never seen before--a surrender, a sensitivity that I hadn’t known he possessed. He was playing the piano, albeit tentatively. The moment the camera flash went off, he stopped.

To me, my father was always old, remote, and dourer. He lived in a world of “dasants."

My father and I parted company about the time I was a teenager. What I didn't know, couldn't even sense, was that he had another family and another son, Samuel Valdez, three years younger than me. I had always fantasized about that--his having another son, having happiness he never had with my mother or me. And when I discovered that he had another family--well, I wasn’t at all delighted, the way I thought I would be.

We met in Korea, in a place called Koto-ri.

I knew if I sat there much longer, "the water works," as my father called it whenever I cried, would begin. Just before I left the chair, I realized it was raining; and wherever the light from the street lamp touched the street there was a circle of gold or silver.

William and I visited OTBs in all of the city’s boroughs and always won. In two months time, each of us had won a half million dollars; and my various bank accounts grew considerably. I never asked William, what he did with his winnings, or where he was when he wasn't with me. We always met in Starbucks, diagonally across from the park, where we had a Venti-cappuccino, and a slice of banana nut loaf cake, before we made our OTB visits.

But like anything else, when you know what the outcome will be, the thrill of winning was beginning to become a ho-hum affair. I considered ending my relationship with William. I didn't need the money I had won; and I would have to find ways of spending it.

I thought about the morality of what I was doing; and frankly, I didn't give a damn. Even the fact that I was using William didn't bother me either. He was certainly better off than when I first met him. So the way I looked at it, I had helped someone; and even though what I was doing, at least with the four IDs I had acquired, was illegal, from my perspective it balanced out.

When I wasn't with William, my life followed the routine. It had developed over the past few years; except that I used cabs more frequently than I had; when Rita and I went to a Broadway show or concert, I bought our tickets at the theater or at the concert hall, instead of waiting on the TDF line. And yes, I chose expensive restaurants in which to dine in.

One evening, when we were dining in the Mark Joseph Steakhouse, I made the mistake of ordering a sixty-dollar bottle of wine instead of the usual carafe of red wine.
Rita waited until our waiter was out of earshot before, she said, "That's a bit much, isn't it?"

The time had come for me to tell her something about what I was doing, without revealing anything about my false IDs. I saw no reason to give her something more to think about.

"I've come into a great deal of money," I said.

She looked at me quizzically. "How?"

"I won it," I answered lightly.

"You won it?" She asked with alarm.

Our waiter returned to the table with the bottle of wine, opened it, and poured a bit into a wine glass for me to sample; which I did and nodded approvingly. Then I ordered. Rita and I would share a steak for two, and I asked for a side of creamed spinach.

When all of that was finished and I told her about William’s extraordinary power, she said, "You're using the man."

I explained the transformation in him that had taken place under my guiding hand, ending with, "He's even going to Alcoholics Anonymous."

"Maybe both of you should seriously consider going to Gamblers Anonymous."

"How much money is involved?"

"Half million for each of us."

She gasped; and recovering quickly, she asked, "That explains your recent extravagances, right?"


"How are you going to account for so much money suddenly showing up in our bank account?"

I took a sip of wine before I said, "I intend to give each of our sons and our grandchildren gifts up to the legal limit."

"That's only eleven thousand dollars for each."

"Well, sixty-six thousand dollars is. . ."

"Nothing compared to what you have," she said.

Our food was brought to the table, and served.

"The steak looks wonderful," I commented, making an effort at normalcy.

"Yes it does," she agreed.

I thought that was a good sign. But it wasn't; our conversation was sparse, and the steak, I had anticipated enjoying, had lost its appeal. And she, never much interested in food, ate barely one slice of steak.

When I offered her more wine, she put her hand over the top of the glass and asked, "How much do you know about Sweet William?"

"His name," I answered.

"And he knows yours, including your surname?"

I didn't answer, and drank another glass of wine.

"And where you live?" She asked, scrutinizing me.

It had never occurred to me that he might follow me to the building where I live.

"You know what I think?"

"Only you know that," I answered.

"Each of you should go your separate ways."

"I've given it some thought."

"Give it more thought; then do it," she said sharply.

The next day, an entirely new problem surfaced. The day was dull gray; and I was in a mood that matched the color of the sky, and the river in front of me.

I occupied a bench behind the Jewish Museum, a few strides from the building where I live. Rita was asleep when I left the apartment, having said nothing to me the previous night, before we went to bed.

I thought that my looking at the river would, as it had done so many times before, eradicate my dull mood. But instead, something else happened: I made this decision to take William, now Sweet William, to Atlantic City. There the stakes would be higher, and would provide me with the excitement that drove me to test his powers in the first place.

I was satisfied with my decision, even though it would require that I lead a double life for a while longer. The question of how to get rid of my present winnings and future winnings was still unanswered, and would remain that way until sometime in the future.

By afternoon, the sun shone brightly. I put the idea of going to Atlantic City to William, and he said he was ready to suggest the same idea to me. And, as we walked around Battery Park, which was crowded with tourists going to or coming from the boats that carried them to the Statue of Liberty, or Ellis Island, I asked William, how his family was.

His face went blank; then he said, "Fine. Fine. I sent them some money."

I wasn't at all happy, and I asked, "They live in Houston, don't they?"

"El Paso," he answered.

I was even unhappier. He previously said his family lived in Raleigh North Carolina. His answers didn't connect the dots; they created many more.
I could have challenged him, by asking him to explain the difference between what he’d previously told me, and the answers he just gave me. But I knew he was sharp enough to give me a logical answer, even if it was two words: they moved. I also accepted the possibility, that because my hearing wasn't as sharp as it once had been, I may have misheard him. Besides, what business was it of mine to know where his family was living?

We agreed to go to Atlanta City on Saturday; and I told him to wear "ordinary clothing; we don't want to stand out."

He nodded, and we went our separate ways; William continued walking, while I hailed a taxi, and told the driver to take me to Lincoln Center; I was going to surprise Rita with orchestra tickets to Richard Strauss’s opera De Rosenkavalier.
Everyone knows that old saw that claims, "Good or bad things, come in groups of threes." I never believed it; I'm too pragmatic for that kind of nonsense. But a few moments after I left the cab at Lincoln Center, I saw William on the other side of the street.

My heart must have skipped a few beats. I began to sweat. I had to lean against a lamppost; my cane wasn't enough to support me.

When I sufficiently gathered myself together, I headed for the nearest luncheonette, claimed a booth, ordered coffee and a toasted oat bran muffin. Then, I tried to puzzle out what happened.

William couldn't have been where I saw him; even if he had taken the next taxi, he would have arrived after I had, not before. But it was definitely William who I saw.
I know everyone is supposed to have a double somewhere; but this double wore exactly the same clothing that William had been wearing.

What were the chances of my having seen him? It had to be one in a very, very, very large number, if at all.

The waitress placed the coffee and muffin in front of me. I didn’t want either of them. I felt one of those shattering headaches coming on. I was very tired. I closed my eyes; and I distinctly heard someone, a man, say, “brain waves.” The words disturbed me. I opened my eyes, and picked up the cup of coffee. It was ice cold.

To make it possible for me to be away all of a Saturday night, I had to come up with a plausible story; and the only one I could think of was a fish story. I told Rita that several of the men I had met in the park had agreed to go "for Blues." I didn't tell her much more, other than it would be Saturday night, and four of us would be driving down to the town of Atlantic Highlands, where the boat was. To add a touch of reality, I also said, "We're going to have dinner at Bahar’s,” a restaurant that overlooked the Shrewsbury River and part of Sandy Hook. We had eaten there several times, before moving from Staten Island to Manhattan.

"Is Sweet William going with you?"

"He's not a fisherman," I answered.

"Well, that's one good thing; isn't it?"

I shrugged; and let it go at that.

I felt guilty about the ruse I concocted. It accentuated the double life I was leading, and put me in a dour mood. After Rita fell asleep, I quietly dressed and left the apartment. The concierge was surprised to see me; and by way of explanation, since it was unusual for me to be out at that hour unless Rita and I were returning from a show or a concert, I said, "Couldn't sleep."

"Been there," he said sympathetically.

I walked to the Esplanade, and sat on a bench behind the Jewish Museum. It was a lovely summer night. A tug with a tow of barges moved slowly up the Hudson. Their movement caused the river’s water to push against the stone and concrete base of the walkway; and because there was less noise than during the day, I could hear the swishing sound of the water.

A bicyclist passed; then, I was alone. Not really alone, my father was alive in my thoughts. He was not only a duplicitous man about his various bank accounts, all of the different names; but as I said, he also had another family that the family I belonged to knew nothing about. I would have never known if coincidence hadn't put his other son, my half brother, Samuel--also my father’s given name, in the same place at the same time: Korea, during the battle at Koto-re. We shared the same foxhole.

The Chinese were determined to stop us from breaking out of their encirclement; and the Marines and some army units were as determined to do just that: break out.
The Chinese mortaring was severe and methodical; and because they held the high ground on either side of us, we were easy targets. The only thing that suppressed their fire, was napalm delivered by the Air Force and carrier-based planes.
During one of those lulls, I looked at the man next to me; and he seemed vaguely familiar. We started to speak, and discovered that both of us were New Yorkers. He from the Bronx, and I from Brooklyn. It was then I learned that his name was Samuel Valdez.

Then, as if superimposed on my memories, I distinctly heard someone say, “Look at that pattern." The words were so clear that I looked around to see if anyone was nearby. No one was. This interruption disturbed me even more than I was disturbed by the memory of what had happened some sixty years ago. I tried to pick up my previous train of thought, and couldn't. It was gone for now.

I went back to the apartment, and poured a glass of ice-cold vodka for myself, Stolichnaya. I always keep a bottle of it in the freezer, when I need something stronger than a glass or two of wine to mellow me out.

Despite the effects of the vodka, my sleep was anything but restful; it was full of fleeting dreams--images of men and women bending over me. Lights were being shined in my eyes, and the voice again said, "Look at those brain wave patterns." I felt one of those skull-shattering headaches coming on. But some time toward dawn, I did fall into a deep and restful sleep that lasted until two o'clock in the afternoon.

When I awoke, Rita asked, "What was wrong with you last night?"


"You were tossing and turning; moaning and speaking gibberish, except for the name, Sam Valdez. Who is he?"

We were at the kitchen counter, and I was having a cup of coffee. I repeated the name Sam Valdez in a desultory way, as if I were trying to recall who he was. Of course I knew; he was my half brother. The man who shared the foxhole with me at Koto-ri. That was where and when I learned about my father's double life.
Sam showed me a snap shot of his family: three older sisters, his mother and his father--my father, who Sam described as, "a great guy, and a real fun guy." Neither of those descriptions would describe my father, as opposed to his; mine, seemed to have the life sucked out of him before I was born.

Sam and I hunkered down in that foxhole. I told him we had the same father--that we were half-brothers; and like Cain and Able in the biblical story of those two brothers, my offerings to my father like Cain’s to God were always dismissed. Sam, though innocent of what he had done, had stolen my father's love; and I hated him. I wished him dead; I could have killed him myself and have gotten away with it. But, though I killed, I wasn't a murderer.

We spelled each other in two-hour shifts. It began to snow again adding to our misery. We hadn't eaten since the previous day, and the Chow was cold, coming straight from the can as it did. We were short of everything, including ammo.
About three o'clock in the morning, the Chinese buglers began to blow; and the night’s blackness erupted into the white light of dying magnesium flares. In that whiteness, we could see them coming; thousands of them, it seemed to us. Our 50 caliber machine guns opened up, then the BARS.

We were yelling and the Chinese were yelling. We started throwing our grenades. Sam's throw was longer than mine. When they were very close, we started firing our rifles. Confusion was everywhere; the noise was incredible. Suddenly, I realized Sam wasn't alongside of me. The left side of his head was gone; he was dead.

I’m in pain, an enormous amount of pain that tears at my body. I hear someone say, "He’s moving." I want to yell, Why shouldn't I be moving? But the effort it would have taken to do that would have been too much for me to undertake.
Another voice, a woman’s, said, "Alpha waves normal."

Some days later, Rita explained to me that I was a victim of a car crash. Two cars collided; and one of them struck me, putting me in a coma for several weeks.

"What about Sweet William?" I asked.

"I was going to ask you who he is."

"Another time," I answered.

That time never came; we never again spoke about him. Perhaps one of my many doctors advised her against bringing his name up again. But months later, when the winter weather settled on the city; and I went into Bowling Green Park and despite the cold, I sat there putting various parts of my experience together.

I remembered that Gibbs had been killed, execution style, years ago. And as far as I know, the killer or killers have never been found.

The more I thought about my experience, the more I wondered whether "I was a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or butterfly dreaming I was a man?"

My anchor to reality had vanished.

Oh yes, I live in a real world. But I also know what I experienced. I had lived another life in a different world that was as real to me then as this one is now.
And of course, there’s sweet William to account for. Every time I see him, he smiles, an odd, crooked smile; as if we had known each other and had shared something special.

A secret?

A secret about what?

I could ask; but I don’t want to become involved with William--if that really is his name--again; “it’s better to let the sleeping dog lie,” so to speak. Old wisdom; but applicable.
--Irving A. Greenfield, Unpublished short story, 2008

Sweet William by Irving A. Greenfield (Part 1)


Look at it this way: when you’re over the hill and long in the tooth, you’re over the hill and long in the tooth. Nothing is going to change that. The only change that will happen will be that today you are less than you were the previous day. So, what do you do?

If you’re retired, as I am, you try to fill up your days. You go to concerts, visit museums, and take a cruise now and then. But whatever you do, you will eventually wind up sitting in some park or other, especially on a warm spring day, or when the autumn is in the offing, and wonder why you’re chasing yourself. When you find yourself thinking that way, and everything you do bores you, you stop doing things to fill up your day and you let the day pass in its slow, ponderous way. As a reward for having lived a life there is always a park bench, from which an old bored man like me or you can watch the flow of people who still have a purpose for being or at least they are convinced they do.

My bench is in Bowling Green Park, at the north end, in front of the Museum of American Indian, and a couple hundred feet south of the bronze bull, where young women delight in posing for photographs of themselves with their hands on the bull’s balls. It’s a phenomenon I always find fascinating; no matter how many times I’ve seen it. If I were a psychologist or a philosopher, I would probably try to find a deeper meaning in their actions other than their blatant sexuality.

There are other elderly folks who use the park for the same purpose I do. I have a nodding acquaintance with them; though not because they would not like to have a conversation with me, but because I do not want to have a conversation with them. A recitation of their past, and their present ills, would bore me; and my past and present ills are too boring even to me to warrant my speaking about them. Monosyllabic answers and my body language are sufficient to keep any would-be conversationalist at bay, including the few street people who inhabit the area where I sit; and by whatever sense they still possess, avoid any conversational gambits.

On a warm spring day, while I was sitting in the park aware of the burgeoning multicolored flowers around the fountain, the swath of butter yellow forsythia along the fence, and other people sitting on the benches with their faces tilted toward the sun, my life changed. I met William Devlin, a street person, who my wife, Rita, much later derisively dubbed Sweet William.

We had met several times before, but in a much more unusual manner from the way people usually meet. We sized each other up; each of us trying to read the kind of person the other was. He was different from the other street people, who spend their days and sometimes their nights in the park. He was cleaner than his peers; and unlike them, he seldom cursed. He was well spoken; though like them, he was often drunk. But it was one of those times when he wasn’t intoxicated that I actually met him. I quickly realized his position amongst the other street people in the group was equivalent to his being their leader. He never panhandled the way the other men and women in the group did. Yes. There were women with them: three, in fact; and one of them had a shopping cart filled with personal belongings.

For several weeks, whenever the two of us were in the park at the same time, this pas des deux went on. I found myself looking forward to it. Amid the throngs of people in the park, there were two people who were studying each other; and of course, I was curious about what he saw or didn’t see when he studied me. I made a conscious effort not to let my imaginings about him run wild.

But on the day that we actually met, my imagination didn’t have to run wild; the events that occurred were wild enough.

Between eleven-thirty in the morning and two in the afternoon, that particular area of downtown New York was aswarm with people and vehicles moving into two different streams, where Broadway bifurcates into Broadway and Bowling Green, both running South.

I was doing my usual thing, nothing. Maybe it wasn’t nothing. I was thinking. Cogito Ergo Sum; I think, therefore I am. I was making a serious attempt not to think; therefore, I was thinking, thus, according to Descartes, proving my existence.

All of this was taking place with countless images and sounds, creating the required synapses for me to be aware of them; when William, whose name I did not yet know, came directly up to me, and said in a perfectly normal voice, “There will be a very bad accident.” And he pointed to where Broadway divides into Bowling Green. No more than a few seconds later, there was a very bad accident. Before I could ask him how he knew the accident would happen, he and his cronies vanished, no doubt because of the sudden appearance of police in the area.

My wife, Rita, and I were having dinner at the Gateway, a local restaurant, where we knew the owner, the manager, and the assistant manager, Dave, who we considered a very good friend. I wasn’t hungry, and settled for a medium well done, hamburger and a small salad. Rita, who is never hungry, opted for a turkey sandwich.

We were at our usual table, located a few feet from the tail end of the bar. I wasn’t very talkative, but Rita was chatting away about a conversation she’d had earlier in the day with an elderly aunt. Suddenly she stopped talking, and accused me of not listening.

“I was contemplating my navel,” I said glibly.

But she wasn’t going to be put off.

“How about the state of the world; these days it needs much contemplation,” I offered

That didn’t work either. Once onto something, she was not going to let go until she knew what that something was.

I surrendered; I told her about William, and about the accident.

She listened intently; and when I was finished, she patted my hand, and assured me that it was nothing more than coincidence.

To which I replied, “A spooky one, if you ask me.”

“Since when did you start believing in spooks, and such?”

I didn’t mean “spook,” the way she interpreted it, I meant unexplainable, at least with the information I had; namely, what William said to me, and the accident that immediately followed.

“Well, the accident wasn’t staged for me,” I said. “People were seriously injured, and one of the cars was totaled.”

“You might be more important than you think,” she said with a laugh.

Rita had often chided me about my ability to spin out improbable stories by making connections that do not exist, of playing the game of “what if,” so that the entire story crashes, if the first assumption is removed. But this time, I didn’t assume anything; the two events occurred. And my being told that a crash was about to happen didn’t make it happen. Something caused the accident to happen; but certainly something else besides the normal law of cause and effect was operating, at least where William and I were concerned.

“You’re zoning again,” she said. “Your burger must be cold by now.”

I looked down at my plate; I had eaten very little of either the burger or salad. “Not hungry,” I said, motioning the waiter back to our table, and ordering a Stoli on the rocks.
The following morning, I awoke earlier than usual after a crazy, dream-filled, restless night; so early that the sun hadn’t come up yet. I could have gotten up and read the Times, which was probably outside our apartment’s door; or I could have stayed where I was, in bed, and think, which was exactly what I chose to do. It felt comfortable to lie there, under a light blanket listening to the sounds that drifted through the open window. But my focus was on William. By the time I went to bed the previous night, I had already decided to find out more about him and his connection to the accident.

Of the many questions I came up with, the list finally shrank to two: how did he know a crash would occur; and why did he choose to tell me it would happen?

Later, when I arrived at the park, it was already crowded with people eating lunch, or just relaxing in the sun. The bench I usually sat on was already occupied by a man and a woman studying a map of the city, obviously tourists. There was space left on the opposite end of the bench from where they were, and I claimed it. William was nowhere in sight, though his cronies were there. I was tempted to ask them about William, but decided not to. I didn’t want to pay for the information, and I knew I would have to pay.

By two o’clock, the park was less crowded; and though now I had the bench all to myself, I decided “to call it a day” and went to the nearby Starbucks for a Venti cappuccino and a slice of banana nut loaf cake.

The next day, I went through the same routine; and the result was the same with regard to William: he never showed. Then it rained for three days; and I spent a large portion of each day reading. When I wasn’t reading, I was sleeping, or surfing the Internet. Finally, the rain ended; the sun came out, and I was back in the park: and so was William.

He looked at me for a few moments before he joined me on the bench.“That’s why I drink,” he said, without any preliminaries.

After a long pause, I asked, “So, why me? There were plenty of other people around.”

“Just a hunch, he said, as he got to his feet and walked away.

I didn’t move. If he expected me to follow him to where his cronies were, he was mistaken. I was curious but not so curious that I would involve myself with a group of street people. Besides, his abrupt departure annoyed me. I watched him spin the afternoon away with his cronies. When I got home, I was in a sour mood, though I tried not to be.

It was bad enough to be bored, I didn’t need to be depressed as well; and I certainly didn’t need one of those “mothers” of all headaches I’ve been having lately to take hold. I avoided going to the park for several days, and found a place near the river to roost.

Whenever I am in, what I call my Ishmael mood, I sit by the river, or ride the subway to Coney Island, and find a bench on the boardwalk and watch the waves come in. But going to Coney Island, required an effort that I didn’t want to make.
After three days of self-denial, I returned to the park, determined to find out more about William. Again he came over to where I was sitting, as if I were waiting for him; and said, “I missed you. I thought you’d be back the next day.”

“I had other things to do,” I said, watching the antics of two pigeons, the larger one obviously a male; then, after a few moments, I asked, “How did you know that a crash was going to take place?” I turned toward him, and waited for his answer.

“I counted the cars,” he said.


“Like I just said, I counted the cars.”

I said nothing; I was processing, what he said; I was never swift with numbers.

“After a certain number of cars pass a particular place, a crash will occur,” Williams said. “I don’t have anything to do with it, except that I know it will happen.”

“How many cars?” I asked humbly.

“About seven and a half million cars over a two-month period, give or take a couple of days either side.”

“How can you do that?”

“I don’t know how; there are all sorts of numbers in my head, very, very, large ones; most things become numbers to me. That’s why I drink. I don’t want to know the future outcome of anything. You can understand that, can’t you?”

I nodded. The large numbers he mentioned are algorithms. They were the kind of computer-generated numbers used by the military, and other Federal agencies and many commercial enterprises for coded communications and other sensitive tasks.

The days passed. Sometimes William was in the park, and joined me on the bench; and sometimes he stayed with his cronies. He was the arbiter of all their arguments.
Naturally, when I was with him, he told me about himself. He was born in Houston, Texas; and his family lived in Raleigh, North Carolina. He had a one hundred percent disability from a wound he had received in Vietnam, where he had been wounded in the head and had a steel plate to replace that part of his skull that had been shattered by a NVA mortar round. That encapsulated his life; he would tell me no more. Nor would he answer the question I had previously asked: why did he tell me about the crash, and not someone else?

I was as bored as ever. I felt as if I were living inside a nineteenth century Russian novel, or a play by Chekov in which boredom is always a character.
On a particularly hot, humid day when I eschewed the park for a small round table in a nearby air-conditioned Starbucks, I realized I was letting the proverbial “Golden opportunity” slip through my fingers. Not to let that happen, I would prove or disprove, William’s claim to be able to predict the outcome of events, when seeming randomness was involved. I would create a new man; save him from winding up on a dissecting table the way so many street people do.

First, I broached the idea to Rita. She didn’t think too much of it, telling me that disrupting the status quo was never a good idea, especially when it came to someone else’s life. I took the opposite point of view, explaining it would begin a new life for William. The discussion remained unresolved. The problem was William. How far would he be willing to go, to be a new man, and embrace a new life?

He didn’t seem to like the idea, or he was playing coy. I explained my own condition to him. How bored I was; how nothing excited me; that I had no reason to go on living. He wasn’t particularly interested in my plight. It took quite a bit of cajoling to get him to agree. Our first foray was to an off-track betting parlor; there neither of us would look out of place, the way we were dressed.

William took three days to study the stats on the horses, and he read the racing form as if it were the Bible, and he an acolyte. When he was ready, he named the horse: Sweet Chocolate, a thirty to one shot. I put a thousand dollars down to win.

While I was there waiting for the race to begin, I was very much aware of the habitués; and this subculture that existed in the midst of our so-called “normal world.” The men and women there were waiting for their horse to come in; something, I vividly remembered my mother doing, only she was waiting for her “ship to come in,” though it never left its home port to begin with. She was a loser, as were most of the men and women there.

From my own experience, as a former professor of English literature, whose specialty was the American novel, I remembered that it was a woman’s loss of her house money in James T. Farrell’s novel, Studs Lonigian that gave Studs the opportunity for his first sexual experience. I couldn’t help wonder how many women I saw in the OTB had been, or would be after today’s races, in the same circumstances as the woman in Farrell’s novel.

The loss of a thousand dollars would mean nothing to me; I am financially well set with a good pension, my Social Security, and an extremely profitable portfolio. But if the horse lost, the loss would have a devastating emotional effect. It would throw into doubt William’s claim to be able to predict the outcome of an event that has a statistical foundation. In the race there were only two variables that could not be statistically accounted for: the emotional condition of the jockey and the horse. These were unknowns. Everything else was a factor in the equation.

Our horse, Sweet Chocolate, was in the fifth race. I left the betting to William. Sweet Chocolate was slow at the start, and was a back runner until the turn into the home stretch; where she began to forge ahead on the outside. She won by a full length, and we were thirty thousand dollars richer. After the taxes were taken out, the remaining monies were split evenly between us.

We rode back to the city in a cab, and, to the surprise of the driver, gave him a twenty-dollar tip. William wanted to be dropped off at the South Street Seaport; while I went on to Battery Park Place, where I live. Because of traffic, the usual short ride turned out to be longer than I expected. I didn’t mind it. It gave me time to think about what happened at the track. Could winning have been just a coincidence? William might have made an educated guess. Maybe he had inside information.

As the cab moved slowly forward along Water Street, I also thought about how I would account for the money to Rita; and decided I wouldn’t,at least, not yet. But that night, we went to Mark Joseph’s Steak House on Water Street, and had a marvelous dinner.

William was gone, vanished. I saw his cronies, but I didn’t see him. Not to be conspicuous, I strolled through the park, or I sat on a bench at the South end that gave me a clear view of the North end of the park. But there was no William.

He was, no doubt, on a gigantic tear; and I imagined him in all sorts of perilous situations, lying drunk in an alleyway, or worse, dead. Silently, I railed at his stupidity. He provided me with more excitement than I’d experienced in all the years of my retirement.

Because William was much on my mind, I called an old friend, from the Marine Corps, Philip Gibbs. Even when I knew him better, he had friends who had other friends; who had connections. I told him I needed four false Ids, drivers’ licenses, and Social Security cards to match. He was happy to hear from me, but wasn’t surprised by my request; nor did he ask any questions. We set up “a meet,” as he called it, in Au Bon Pan on lower Broadway at twelve-thirty on Friday.

The last time we’d seen each other, was years ago, at one of our former unit’s reunions in Quantico, Virginia. Even in the worst of conditions, Gibbs somehow managed to get extra ammo, grenades, tins of food, and a couple of bottles of whiskey; but by then, we were evacuated from Hungnam. The ordeal of breaking out of the Chinese encirclement was over; and we were safely aboard transport watching the demolition units blow up the city.

I sat near the window looking out on Bowling Green, and watched the lunch crowd hurry by. The intensity of each individual’s purpose was simultaneously frightening and amusing. Frightening, because their individual purpose, whatever it might have been, seemed to deny the individual purpose of anyone else’s purpose; and by extension, the rest of the world. And it was amusing, because so many different purposes were in play at any single moment, and each individual purpose was apparently oblivious to the other purposes going on at the same time. My purpose was as intense as any of the other; but only in terms of psychological activity, I felt as if all my neurons were having a grand Fourth of July display.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Now Reading One of the Most Important Books...

I'm reading Collision of Angels, Book One in A Higher Call Series, by Michael Carver. This will be one of most significant book(s) I've read this year, I already know it... and...

This just may be "the" book you will want to read this year. If you are, like me, a Christian who finds the fighting, name-calling, and divisive nature of politics, the economy, and other government and people issues deplorable, you may want to begin this series!

Click on the article title heading to link to to learn more!

Watch for my review next week...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Marconi - News Release

Dear Friend and Colleague:

With the advent of the mobile phone, Marconi’s revolution has come full circle. After his initial successful experiment in transmitting wireless messages from one point to another, he established himself in 1903 in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, when he transmitted a letter from America to England and back, wherein His Majesty exchanged greetings with President Roosevelt.

In 2003, during the centennial celebration of that event, Princess Elettra Marconi, daughter of Mr. Marconi, together with a high school science student, spoke on their personal phone with an American astronaut orbiting the earth. One hundred years earlier, Nobel Prize winner Marconi had recounted how one day individuals on earth and in outer space would be communicating with one another, wirelessly.

The Dante University of America Foundation is proud to present the biography of Mr. Marconi as told by his wife and daughter: Marconi My Beloved.

The Foundation is also proud to announce that the first lesson of the online Italian Conversation Course is now available, free to you, and that Lesson 2 will soon be online.

Best wishes! or simply click title of this article!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Info about Miss Ruby...

This story was written and provided by Spencer T. Note that he is a follower on this site and you will find links to his various blogs...

Spencer is a favorite poet on the social networking site of Gather.Com as well. He shares all writing on the Internet and, as of this date, has no desire to seek further dissemination...

Please recognize his story as copyrighted!!! Author has granted permission for posting on this blog!

Given presentation in the blog is recommended you go to Chapter 1 to start reading this life story. It has an adult content warning, please...

Miss Ruby by Spencer T., Third Chapter...

"Son, your friends and neighbors requested your presence to serve in the military through inscription which is a part of the requirement of being a young man. The US Army needed you but you seemed to ignore the second notice. The law allows me as a federal judge to place you in prison for up to five years and to issue a fine as punishment for your ignoring the service request."

"Yes Ma'am, and who are you in this case? Well, Miss Ruby Hines, I appreciate your concerns and have already considered that Mr. Turnage did not have criminal intent in his not responding to the second draft notice and believe I have a solution to this problem."

"Young man, as punishment for the crime of refusing to respond to a legal draft notice, my ruling allows for you to serve a minimum of three years in the military instead of the normal two. You may complete your present semester in college and will report to the US Army Intake center around the corner the day following the end of your semester."

"No, Miss Ruby I did not ignore the draft so I could help you with your daughter's visit. No, you owe me nothing. Yes, I know you love me and want the best for me. Yes, I know our relationship will change when I am gone. Yes, I know we are special to each other. No, I will never forget you. No dear, I don't want you paying the judge to keep me out of the army. I have no idea when; but, yes, I feel she is the woman I will marry someday. Yes, my parents know how I feel."

This incident happened in early October of 1965 not long after I turned 20 years of age, though at times my relationship with Miss Ruby caused me to feel much older. This beautiful, gorgeous woman who had all sorts of success kept me in a somewhat awkward mental state because she had chosen me to confide in and share what life normally brought years later. She admitted how unprepared she was for much of what she dealt with and knew her lack of much formal education had been a handicap for her. Still in her worse fumbling, she had been able to build a life, which many envied. They had no idea the sufferings she experienced, though. Miss Ruby was often like a delicate flower facing the horrible winds of life which all knew would someday appear. Often she was a contrast in emotions in that she swayed from a demure, caring person to a monster-like heathen. Her attention to detail in her dress and business dealings belied the often uncertainty I saw in her. I was never able to identify what I said or did which would frighten or upset her and send her off into a whirlwind of depressive action. She depended on me far more than I appreciated. I needed my own space and freedom to be who I was to become as a person.

The mysterious ways she was able to find out what I was doing or how she allowed my association with my real girlfriend to not destroy our relationship remained a puzzle. The passion she applied to anything having to do with me was amazing and always a good ego massage. Then at times I felt smothered by this woman though I willingly kept the association alive. She was like a drug to me and offered the ultimate high. Was I a lucky young man or a fool in a cage?

As the weeks passed and my semester got closer to its end, she seemed to be in a state of desperation to have me as often as time allowed. She made excuses for us to meet to discuss even the most trivial of topics. I had agreed we could share a dinner out at one of the finest restaurants as one of our parting celebrations and she freely kept that promise in the forefront. There was constant talk about what we'd have when I returned three years later. I knew inside if I married the woman I wanted to, then our relationship would draw to a close. Though she was willing to be whatever part she could be in my life, I think she knew I was being as honest and forthright as I could. I refused to mislead her.

The Christmas holidays were the benchmark for my final days before entering the Army on January 14. I was in a whirlwind of family activities, time with my girlfriend and entertainment engagements. She was present at every public event and a couple times had gifts sent to the house for me. She even sent gifts to my girlfriend. It was all winding down to a future neither of us knew much about and she wanted every minute of time we could share. Miss Ruby always held huge New Year's Eve celebrations at her lounges but this year she spent most of the night watching me sing at a function for a social club. I knew she was hoping for the possibility that once I got my girlfriend home we might have some time to share. That was her assessment, which was opposite of mine. I had told her I would never do that to anyone I cared about. She persisted, calling me stubborn or too proper for my own good.

We spent our final night together a couple days prior to my departure, with her treating me more like the "Last Supper" and totally wiping out my twenty-year-old body. Her stamina was amazingly more than any woman I have ever met. Admittedly, I knew this was our last encounter and did savor it as much as she did.

The military years passed as they would with regular cards and notes from Miss Ruby updating me on how things were going, with an occasional inquiry as to us getting together to share again. I never addressed that issue again for I knew my separation from her had to be clear. I had to move on with my own life, whatever it was to bring.

My wedding was planned for a couple months after my return from Vietnam. I took leave and came home to get married but did not visit Miss Ruby. On my wedding day she appeared with a large wrapped gift box for my wife and me, dressed as impeccably as I'd ever seen her. At the reception she interacted with family and friends and seemed genuinely happy I was happy.

From that point until she died, Miss Ruby appeared at special family gatherings including childbirths, sibling's weddings and similar events. She seemed a lovely shadow to have in one's life, though we only rarely met to discuss our lives. She felt like a secure image of someone special in my life in spite of the years that lapsed between encounters. I attended a function in her honor when I was nearly fifty years old and could see the remnants of the beautiful lady I once was close to.

Miss Ruby died in 1998, only weeks after her housekeeper had contacted me about her illness. My visit to her hospital room was overrun with memories and a lifelong passion of that young man who had been taught by this woman who was willing to teach him how to please a woma, how to make sure she received what she needed to be satisfied and how to experience and share the ultimate in sexual pleasures. In that hospital bed I still saw the sunlight-like smile she so readily beamed and could still see the remnants of who she once had been.

Long lines of entertainers, dignitaries, former city officials and common folk who knew her, or about her, wrapped around the funeral home for the last time to catch a gander at Miss Ruby. I was able to spend a few hours with her now-grown daughter who had a list of alphabet letters behind her name, yet felt compelled to remind me that I had remained someone special throughout her mother's life. She showed me pictures I had forgotten ever existed, explaining how her mom treasured me not only because she loved me but because I never took advantage of her and always tried to help her improve her life and circumstance.

It took this final chapter of her life to allow me to discover that Miss Ruby was seventeen years older than I. We had found common ground on which to share whatever it was we shared. Miss Ruby still lives in the special memories of my life.