Cold 

The River was still. Bugs swarmed the area. Agent Baldwin slowed his Bronco to a stop. Looking the area over. The dead coyote laying still beside the bank. 

– What’ve we got? 

– Another animal gone rogue. Jumps a local while he’s fishing, in broad daylight. Crashed into his driver’s side window. Lucky it was up. First thing he noticed was all the bugs. 

He shrugged his shoulders and swatted the flies away. Looking over the dead coyote. 

– Strange behaviour. Especially for this time of year. 

He sighed. Checked his phone. Another call. Another local. 

– Bag it up and bring him in. I’ll have Janice look him over. Thanks for calling me, Darryl. 

– Don’t mention it. 

Darryl shook hands and climbed back into his car. 

Baldwin looked over the area one more time before starting his old Bronco and heading to town. 

Gold City 

The debate for literature is universal and exponential. The debate for libraries. That’s another matter altogether. If a stranger comes to town, no one gathers at the library to gossip about him. 

And so it was, during the age of science, understanding and exploration, there was also superstition and mysticism. When a stranger came to our country. 

No one particularly noticed him though. 

The Headlines were championing another tale. God wanted a tower.  A golden tower to assure  his legacy. It would stand in the middle of the largest city and it would be the tallest structure in the world. 

The news was, God needed an architect. 

Three weeks to the day, The stranger approached God and his Court. 

– I can build your tower. I can build it so it’s reflective surface lights half your country. And it eclipses the sun by day and your moon by night, it will give you light from the oldest stars in the universe. Everyone will know your name. 

God thought for a moment. 

-Name your price, he said, rubbing the rings on his fingers. Everyone has a price. What gold, what firm, what women, do you want?

– The Library  of Archives. That is my price. I want it. I want it moved to the great halls on the coast of your country. And I want the land it sits on there. 

God stared for a moment. 

– Surely this architect is joking. You can have anything in the kingdom and you want the oldest books in the world? And a bunch of land? For what? Books? Fine. You must be poorer than I thought. Let’s hope you build better than you bargain. You have insulted my name and my court. I am God. No one was before me and there is no one to match me and my glory. You have six months. 

The architect left. Feeling accomplished. He really thought it would be more difficult. He couldn’t believe his fortune. 

The months passed. While he and his crew raised the golden tower. On the fourth month they cut the ribbon. There was no other structure like it past or present. 

God, true to his contract, paid with the Library of Archives. It was moved from the Capitol to the Coast inside two great halls. Beside the shore. 

No one thought about it again. 

No one missed it. It was the age of fast information, and fast pleasure. Space, fortune,  no one read for pleasure or for anything more than a certificate of career. 

I remember meeting the Architect for the first time. His eyes were steel blue and he asked me who I was. 

– I’m the librarian. I come with the books. I said. And continued sorting the shelves. You must be the Architect. Congratulations are in order. I have champagne and donuts and coffee for you and yours in the reading room. 

He walked through the rows staring like a child when they first notice the stars at night. 

– I don’t understand. Why would anyone give this up. 

– Well, I am thankful, you would be the first to read one of these books, other than myself of course. In sometime, we’ll just say that. No one reads anymore. They have it all. They are ignorant and they live forever to prove it. 

– My name is Owen. 

– I’m Montague. You can call me Monte. 

In all of my time with The Archives. I’ve never seen anyone so hungry for information as Owen. If he wanted to know something, I would take him to the book. There was a lot he wanted to know, and there was a lot of books. 

– How long have you been here, Monte? 

– Oh, as long as the books. We’ve always been together. It’s in the contract. 

– I never mentioned you Monte.

– The Founders contract. I’ve been here since the first page was ever written and bound. I had to be. Someone has to put it on the shelf. 

The years passed and Owen, opened the library to the people of the low lands. His countrymen, he resurfaced, a new stranger, with a new suit, repairing not only structures and homes, but finance, healthcare and agriculture. 

With the knowledge he gleaned from the library he started building a community, a place where people were free to read and create. More and more the poor moved to the coast and built close to the library. Some studied medicine, and some studied engineering, more and more retired there as well. His community grew into a kingdom. He studied the art of war and law. The books held all there was to know from history. 

So there was a reform. And a declaration  was made. An election and a government was in place. Reforming old opinions. And religions. If you came here you could study and learn from the library. You could join the community. Your religion was welcome but you had to reform it to the values of the community. Everyone was equal. Everyone had the same opportunity. But this was secular not spiritual. There was no place for religion in government. There would be no gold towers reaching the sun. Only men reaching the moon and exploring the far corners of space. And potential. 

God, you can imagine. Was shocked to discover that a new kingdom had erected over night. 

– Who is this Prime Minister? I am God. The strongest in the world. The greatest. 

– It’s the architect. The library of archives are open to the people and they’ve built a new nation, sir. He lives in a house beside the library sir. Both are protected by Ushers. And a Declaration of Independence. 

And so it was. 

That a stranger came to the country and built The Gold Tower. And a new Country was formed. 

Because of Books. 

The content of the archive was recirculated with libraries in every community. 

You can still visit the Archives but you will always- like any good thing- have to seek it out. 

Loving Rachael

Monday 

He pays for his coffee looking at the girl at the counter 

She hands him his Change 

Her hand folds over his – holding – and then she walks away

He knows her , but he doesn’t know where

He grabs his pack and slips out into the street 

He sees her at all the stops 

Her face in the crowd 

He sees her shoes 

He knows them 

But from where 

Heels with galaxies on them 

Riding the commute 

On the railway 

Her familiar hand squeezes his 

He looks over his shoulder 

But she isn’t there 

She’s walking away through the crowd 

He puts his ear buds in 

Starts Beck’s Dreams 

And walks into his apartment 
He turns on the light 

it’s a hospital lamp over his bed 

Tuesday  

Rachael stood waiting 

Watching over her husband 

She takes his hand and squeezes 

He is in a coma 

She doesn’t know if he knows she is here 

But she visits 

Every day at noon 

She wears his favorite high heels 

With the galaxies 

Wednesday 

He’s holding a ring in his pocket 

He’s nervous 

He checks the flowers 

And then his watch 

There she is 

Right on time 

He is going to propose 

Sunday 

It’s their wedding day 

There’s a church 

An aisle 

A kiss 

He sees her eyes 

Her galaxies 

Her lips 

Her smile 

Monday 

Rachael is crying today 

“Do you think he knows I’m here?”

“There’s not a lot that we can know for sure …this is fairly uncharted territory. I’m sorry. Take all the time you need.”

Today Rachael is taking him off life support. She takes his hand 

Kisses his lips 

One year 

A hundred thousand visits

Uncharted memories …

Monday 

He is old 

Tired 

He comes in 

Sees her lying in bed 

Laying down beside her 

He holds her 

And they fall asleep together 

And he thinks of all the times he saw her 

Her face in the crowd

Their life together 

He is thankful 

He loves her

They sleep 

Fox and Lola #part two 

From the author. 

I need to thank my friend Mattie or Matilda. Pitching ideas back and forth, she helped me get past my writer’s block. Tossing bad ideas and keeping good ones. 
Image source
Part two

The slow pitter patter echoed through the hallway. Just before the bang against the window. 

Lola knew there was a bang. Or maybe it was one of those mental echoes that wake you up at night. She got out of bed and moved to the window, looking down onto the playground. 

She heard the old metal creaking as the carousel turned slowly. No one was there, but someone had been there. 

“Hello Lola.” 

The voice was quiet and calm. Young and wise. It was a male’s voice. And it was in the doorway of her room. 

She jumped, grabbing at her heart and turned around. 

“You don’t have to be afraid, Lola. Not of me. Although, you should be petrified but I’m not helping am I? I’m sorry.”

She stared at it. 

Rubbed her eyes and stared again. It was a fox. Sitting in her doorway. Its bright flaming colours and all. And he -it- was talking…to her. He stood up and walked to the window.

“Are you an angel?” She asked. 

He laughed. “Me? Hah, no, far from it. Lola, it’s ok.  I am nothing special. I’m just a fox. But you are. Anyone can talk to animals. We generally speak the same language you do. We’ve been living together for centuries. However, not everyone can hear us. Or understand us. With the exception of you, Lola May. You can hear. Because you’ve been listening.” 

“Oh. So you’re just a fox then?”

“Yes,but I have a snazzy tale.”

“Do you actually use it for a pillow?” 

“Wouldn’t you?”

He looked out the window. 

“Lola, you need to leave.”

This was probably just a dream. 

“What? I can’t leave. I’m sick.”

He looked at her. His eyes red, like dancing flames from a fire. They were alive. And she had never felt like that. Everyone she ever saw…their eyes were dark and cold. They made her feel empty. 

“Oh, I’m sorry. What’s wrong with you?”

“Well, I don’t know…”

She said.

” How many children have you seen Lola? Outside?”

“I’ve never seen any…”

” Can you remember not being sick? ”

Lola was getting nervous and confused. 

Fox looked out the window over the playground. 

“You’re not sick Lola. None of you are.”

“That’s insane. Why would I be here in a hospital if I’m not sick? I need to lie down.”

“How young your parents look. I swear they’re younger everyday. Why you just stay sick…”

“What do you mean? ”

“I want to help you Lola. We all do. We need to. Because after you, they will come for us. I have to go. Think about it.”

Fox left the room with the same pattering that he came in with. When Lola looked outside her window she could see him jumping through the playground equipment. Bright orange in the morning light. 

Flowers for December #1

“…we’re meant to lose the people we love. How else would we know how important they are to us? ”

– Fitzgerald


 Photo origin unknown
Part one

 I remember the first time I saw Lauren.We were at this party and she was standing there with a drink in her hand-hair pulled back. 

She smiled and it was like everything became art. You could see the colour in everything. 

I tried talking to her then but we just argued about something like politics. 

Later, She was making or attempting to make a drink. Shaking it in the mixer. And spilling ice everywhere. 

“Would you like some help with that?” I asked. “I’m pretty sure it’s better when the ice makes it to the glass. ”  she just glared at me. “I’ve got it. You wouldn’t know  how to make this anyway unless it comes already in a bottle.”  I laughed. I remember that part. And saying something about a drink making you feel smart and act dumb…kind of like sports… I think we got along after that. Or maybe it was a few moments after that…she found me and we started talking again. 

I think we forget what we overlook. Maybe that is the thing. We overlook so many  small insignificant things and they add up to larger vacancies inside of us or our worlds.

But I didn’t want to forget this and I didn’t want to forget her.

this feeling this moment this place.

I remember that more than anything. 

 

Cities

I heard a story of a man,

Loving what he loved,

He was rich and he was powerful. 

He picked his art,

His music,

His literature,

His theatre….

And surrounding himself with these

Banned all the rest…

His taste 

Was best

What else was there? 

Nothing.

In time his Musicians  

And  Writers

Painters 

And Poets

Fell into depressions 

Their art was changing 

They couldn’t express it.

When he gathered them together 

Asking why they stopped…

They simply said

You took away our inspirations 

If all that is – is us – we will die out.

Art is alive and always changing 

There must be room for all of us.

He looked around his cities

And saw only a mirror of himself 

We evolve and we change together 

One heart beat 

One breath

There is no other way. 

 

Frost

  
After the fact. That’s what he was. A long shadow,standing still by the lake. He listened to the ice as it thickened under the driving snow. The bare trees. No one ever asked where the colours went after the leaves fall. They have to go somewhere, don’t they? Or maybe they don’t. A memory can feel like an event. And a shadow can look like a person. Winter can feel like a season. But they are all very different…

Maybe winter is just a blank canvas for new beginnings…for dreams.
After the fact. After the summer. After the affair. After the show.
That’s what he was.
He stood still. A shadow by the lake. Where the girl was skating. She couldn’t see, but it was right there. By the red bench.The ice was thinner. . . 
 a memory… 
A hollow sound of echoes and ice breaking – cold water rushing in. But that was from the past…
This was a blank canvas. 
This was a new dream.
And he had to follow the girl. Where was she? Under the ice. No…they found her. She was being pulled from the water?
No that was the past. 
She was skating across the thin ice. He looked at it…
The snow falling…
He reached forward…
Leaving a print of snow flakes in her path…
His name was Frost…Jack Frost. 

Moonlight 

  
Grandmother always closed the curtains when the moon was full. “The moon is awake.” She’d say with nervous hands. “It will talk to you all night.”  I would laugh as a child and ask her if it were true. And she would get serious with a stern face, “yes.it will even sing if you listen real careful. The moon has power over the waters of the earth and the minds of man. When it’s full…men change …and if you let its light enter your home? It will have the power to manipulate you.” 

She believed this…so much so that while I was staying there one night Carol, our sister, got her period more heavily than usual. So of course it was the moon. 

“Don’t look at it through the mirror,Francis.” She’d say. “It can possess you. The mirror is the gateway to your soul.” 

Of course it was all nonsense. But it all became much worse with her after granddad died. And later shortly after. She died in her sleep. 

Which brought us here. 

Back home. To grandmas.For her funeral. 

I woke up in the middle of the night. To a faint sound coming from the mirror… 

The moonlight shining in through the window…

I walked over looking into it…

There was me..leaning in touching the mirror and the bed off to the side. The rocking chair behind me…the window…and the moon.

A black crow landed in the tree outside. 

And that’s when I saw it. 

The rocker started rocking in the mirror. But not in the room. And it remained empty. 

In the morning. I told Carol. She just shook her head… 

“Francis, you’re an idiot.”

This happened three nights in a row. Finally I stayed in bed. And listened for the rocker…

But I couldn’t hear it…only a tap tap tapping from the inside of the mirror. 

And someone walking upstairs… 

I grabbed the flashlight and ran to the attic…

It was cold 

But not like winter…

A different cold.

That’s when I saw it…

a human Skeleton chained 

To the bed by the window

Teeth bare 

With vampire fangs 
We were always told grandfather died by drowning…

Grandmother said he was shaving and the moon passed over the mirror.

The tapping grew louder on the mirror…

I walked downstairs 

The rocker started banging on the wall.. I leaned forward looking into the mirror And saw grandmother. 

Dressed in white…sitting in the rocker – grandfather beside her…and that’s when I saw it….I had no reflection. 

Pandora #5

  
She’s dead. She’s dead. That’s just great. Wait,does that mean I’m dead? Oh he- 

“No,Michael that doesn’t mean you’re dead. Yet.” 

“What do you mean by yet? ”

Rachael sat back.

“I mean you’re being stupid. Everything you write comes to life.Everything.” 

“Well,I’ll just leave then.”

There was a shadow approaching their table …”Oh no. You couldn’t possibly do that. I love your work too much. You must finish it.”

The old woman was back. And she wasn’t letting up this time. Rachael just watched her. With fear in her eyes. 

Michael noted it. And brushed off the subject. 

“Hey let’s go read your book,huh.”
When they got to the library 

He grabbed Rachael’s arm. 

“What the hell is going on?”

“Listen. Every book in this library was written by a tenant. Someone who is now trapped here.They all died terrible deaths. They all built this place with their work. Hotels. Weather patterns. Murders. I was part of that. My death was written…I drowned in the bath on my honeymoon…while working on a summer in yellow…now you know.”

Michael felt sick….

“What do you mean? We can’t leave?”

“That’s right.”

“No…there’s got to be a way…maybe someone wrote a way…maybe there’s a loophole. A pattern or path.” 

“You could burn the library…”

“Yeah.It is what is holding the records. If there’s no records here’s no chains. We could leave .”

“But I may be dead for good…” Rachael said dryly.

“The library is all that’s keeping me here. But it’s also what brought me here.”

 I can’t do it 

“Yes you can Michael.you have to…other  wise – we all die. Because we become forgotten. You have to remember us.”
She lit a book and set it on the shelf…the fire spreading …

“Now go you idiot…”
-end